Crostata Di Fragole (Strawberry Tart)


At this time of the year, in beautiful SoCal, strawberries are fully ripe which mens it’s time for strawberry picking! Our favorite spot near LA for strawberry picking is the Underwood Family Farm, a NO-GMO, sustainable farm located in Moorpark (Ventura County). This time we brought home some pounds of fresh strawberries and my first thought was to make a simple and delicious Italian dessert : Crostata di Fragole (Strawberry Tart). For the shortcrust pastry I used my beloved recipe that yields more than one shortcrust pastry shell, so I usually use half of the dough for making a tart and I freeze the remaining half for another cake or cookies. For the filling I used one of the staple of the Italian Pastry : Crema Pasticcera (Custard Cream), and I made a simple lemon syrup for glossing the fresh strawberries. Enjoy the end of the Spring and the upcoming Summer with a slice of Crostata di Fragole.

Buon Appetito!!!





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Photo by Ale Gambini & Maurizio “OttO” De Togni –

Servings : 6 to 8

Difficulty : intermediate

Prep Time : 30 min. + 30 min. ( the dough needs to rest in the fridge)

Cook. Time : 30 min.


For the shortcrust pastry 

1.1 lb (500 gr) flour type 00

11 oz (300 gr) unsalted butter, room temperature

7 oz (200 gr) powdered sugar

5 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 lemon rind, grated

For the custard cream

3/4 cup (150 gr) granulated sugar

2 egg yolks

1.76 oz (50 gr) corn starch

8.5 fl oz (250 ml) whole milk

For the syrup

1.7 fl oz (50 ml) water

1/4 cup (50 gr) granulated sugar

freshly squeezed juice of half lemon

For garnish

1 pound of fresh strawberries, washed dried and hulled


Prepare the custard cream beating with a whisk egg yolks and sugar until smooth.

Add the sifted corn starch and continue to whisk until incorporated.

Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly.

Transfer the mixture into a sauce pan, add the vanilla extract and bring to boil. When it starts to boil, reduce the heat and cook until thickens. Remove promptly form heat, pour the cream into a bowl, cover the surface of the custard cream with cling paper and allow to cool. When cooled move into the fridge.

Grease with butter and flour a 9.5 inch pie dish. Set aside.

Place the flour on a work surface, make a well and add powdered sugar, butter, lemon rind. Work with hands until sandy.

Add the egg yolks and the vanilla extract and work until smooth and not sticky.

Shape the dough into a large ball then wrap it with cling paper.

Let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven at 350F degrees.

Place the dough between to large pieces of parchment paper then, with a rolling pin, roll the dough approximately 1/8-inch thick.

Move the dough into the dish pie, cut the excess of dough, than pinch it with a fork.

Cover bottom and sides with parchment paper than place over dried legumes such as beans or chickpeas so the shortcrust pastry will not rise while baking.

Bake for 15/20 minutes than remove the paper and the dried legumes and continue to bake for  another 8 minutes.

Allow to cool completely.

Prepare the syrup placing  water and sugar into a small sauce pan.

Heat at low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.

Bring to boil, than add the lemon juice and cook until thickens.

Move the syrup into a small bowl and allow to cool.

Cut the strawberries in half. Set aside.

Place the custard cream into a sac-à-poche then pipe the cream into the crust with circular motion starting from the center. Spread evenly with a spatula.

Decorate the cake with strawberries as you prefer.

Brush the strawberries with the syrup.

Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

Rustic Savory Neapolitan Pastiera

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Pastiera Napoletana (Neapolitan Pastiera) is a sweet Italian cake usually prepared during the Holy Week and eaten on Easter Sunday. I made my own rustic savory version adding to the boiled rice and ricotta cheese, healthy veggies as peas and carrots (canned veggies work equally well). This could be an amazing savory pie to pack and enjoy on Memorial Day’s picnic, kids will love the mild flavor of this pie too. The Savory Neapolitan Pastiera can be served slightly warmed up or cold, either way it will taste delicious.

Buon Appetito!!!

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Photo by Ale Gambini –

Servings : 6

Difficulty : intermediate

Prep Time : 20 min.

Cook Time : 35 min.


1 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed

5 oz arborio rice

1 garlic clove

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

7 oz carrots, boiled and sliced

7 oz  peas, boiled

8 oz fresh Italian ricotta cheese

2 oz Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated

4 egg yolks

salt and pepper, to taste


Preheat oven at 350 F degrees.

Line a 9 inch pie pan with parchment paper.

Cook the rice in a medium pot of boiling salted until tender, drain with a colander. Set aside.

In a large skillet, sauté the garlic clove with butter until golden, then add boiled peas and carrots and cook for a couple of minutes.

Allow to cool.

In a big bowl mix together the ricotta cheese, the parmesan cheese, boiled rice, peas, carrots, 3 egg yolks, salt and pepper to taste.

Roll the thawed puff pastry on a slightly floured work surface then move the puff pastry into the pie pan, trim the excess of puff pastry from the edges and reserve it. Pinch the pastry with a fork.

Spread evenly the filling into the puff pastry.

Roll and cut in strips the leftover puff pastry to make a pattern on top of the pie. Brush the edges of the puff pastry with one beaten egg yolk.

Bake for 35 minutes.

Allow to cool a bit in its pan before serving.

Pisarei E Faso’

Pisarei e Faso’ are flour and bread crumbs dumplings tossed with a sauce made of beans, pancetta (bacon), onion and tomato. Originally from the city of Piacenza (Emilia-Romagna region), this dish is the symbol of the Piacenza cuisine. As many of the old country recipes, the ingredients of this dish are poor and simple, but perfectly balanced that can be considered a complete meal.
This recipe holds a special place in my heart and in my palate, it reminds me my youth and a very special friendship that has lasted nearly 30 years with my dear friend Emanuela.
Pair this dish with a full-bodied red wine as Colli Piacentini Gutturnio.

Buon Appetito!!!


Photo by Ale Gambini –

PREP TIME : 30 minutes
COOK TIME : 35 minutes


For Pisaei (Bread Dumplings)
1.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup hot water
1 pinch of salt

For the Sauce
15 oz tomato sauce
15 oz borlotti beans or cranberries beans
1 pork rind or two strips of pancetta
1 small onion, chopped
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 basil leaves
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated


On a floured working surface, make a well into the flour then add bread crumbs, salt and hot water.

Knead with the hands until a smooth dough forms.

Shape the dough into little logs then cut them into pieces about 1 inch long.

Gently press each piece of the dough with the thumb in order to form a small hollow.

On a large sauté pan, sauté oil, onion and pork rind or pancetta for about 5 minutes.

Add the beans and sauté for other 2 minutes.

Add the tomato sauce, basil leaves, salt and pepper to taste.

Cook for at least 30 minutes or until the consistency of the sauce will be not too dense nor liquid. Discard the pork rind or pancetta from the pan. Set aside.

Dump the Pisarei into a large pot of boiling salted water, then add a tablespoon of olive oil to prevent from sticking together.

Cook for a couple of minutes or until they rise on top.

Drain the Pisarei with a skimmer and place them on the pan.

Stir together Pisarei and sauce, then add the Parmigiano cheese and cook for another couple of minutes until well blended.

Serve hot sprinkled with more Parmigiano Reggiano.

Nocciolata Ovis Mollis + Rigoni Di Asiago Nocciolata Gift Box Giveaway


Mother’s Day is quickly approaching so be ready to pamper your Mom with something really special. If you need a sweet idea, here are my Nocciolata Ovis Mollis the light, crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth Italian cookies made with hard boiled egg yolks and potato starch and embellished with dollops of Nocciolata, the outstanding hazelnut spread produced by Rigoni di Asiago. The traditional Ovis Mollis (literally soft eggs) are shortbread cookies with a little well in the center filled with apricot jam that resemble in shape and appearance a fried egg. I replaced the jam with my favorite hazelnut spread Nocciolata that, unlike her notorious competitor, has no palm oil and comes from organic farming.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mommys of the planet!!!

Remember to enter the delicious giveaway courtesy of Rigoni di Asiago USA in order to win a delicious Nocciolata Gift Box






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Photo by Ale Gambini –

Yields : 24 Ovis Mollis cookies

Difficulty : easy

Prep Time : 25 min.

Cook Time : 12 min.


8.82 oz (250 gr) flour type 00

4.41 oz (125 gr) potato starch

8.82 oz (250 gr)unsalted butter, softened

4.41 oz (125 gr) powdered sugar, sifted

1 tsp vanilla extract

9 medium egg yolks, hard boiled

Nocciolata Rigoni di Asiago, for garnish

Powdered sugar, to sprinkle


Sift together flour and potato starch. Set aside.

Sieve the hard-boiled egg yolks trough a mesh strainer. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and powdered sugar.

Add the vanilla extract and continue to cream.

Add the sieved egg yolks and mix until incorporated.

Reduce the speed then add flour and potato starch until just incorporated.

Shape the dough into a big ball, wrap with plastic wrap and allow to rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven at 350 F degrees.

On a work surface, shape the dough into walnut-sized balls and move them onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

Flat a little the balls and make a well with your thumb or with the handle of a small rolling pin.

Bake for 12 minutes or until just golden.

Allow to cool on their baking sheet for a couple of minutes than fill each wells with a teaspoon od Nocciolata spread and allow to cool completely.

Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar or store in a cookie tin; they will taste even better the day after.