Italian Style Fried Cauliflower

Nicky D CooksMy Italian Grandmother decided to bestow some advice to me when I entered adulthood.

The first tidbits came in the form of kitchen wisdom; when you are cooking always bless your food, cook in odd numbers and throw the salt over your shoulder for good luck in your kitchen. These were pretty much straight forward and easy enough to follow. I still do these to this very day.

The second piece of advice came before I met my future in- laws and their extended family. As I was getting ready for my trip out to Pittsburgh, my grandmother told me, “don’t be nervous… will never be alone in a crowd if you find a couple of Italians (Italian Americans)…they will always make you feel welcomed”

The latter piece of advice was so heartfelt and sincere. I knew that she was a wise woman and would not steer me wrong.

I just had never thought that some twenty years later, I would hear my Grandmother’s words echoed when I embarked on my professional career.

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12 Days of an Italian Christmas

Wondering what to get the Italian in your life this Christmas? Don’t fret about it any longer. Ciao Pittsburgh assembled a list of 12 great gift ideas!

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 6.40.05 AM12. A Box of Torrone

An Italian candy of sugar, egg whites and honey, torrone is often enjoyed around the holidays. In Italy, torrone is usually sold in long rectangles—a light-colored confection with sliced almonds visible throughout—like an oversized candy bar.

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 6.44.31 AM11. An Italian Cookbook

We love this book from Aliza Green, Making Artisan Pasta: How to Make a World of Handmade Noodles, Stuffed Pasta, Dumplings, and More.

You’ll learn how to use the best ingredients and simple, classic techniques to make fresh, homemade pasta in your own kitchen. Calling for just the simplest ingredients and a handful of unique kitchen tools, making pasta at home has never been easier, more fun, or more delicious—just like your nonna used to make!

Inside, you’ll find:

– Recipes for pasta doughs made completely from scratch, with such delicious ingredients as buckwheat and whole wheat flour, roasted red pepper, asparagus, and even squid ink and chocolate

– Fully illustrated step-by-step instructions for rolling, shaping, and stuffing dough for gnocchi, lasagna, cannelloni, pappardelle, tagliatelle, ravioli, and dozens of other styles of pasta

– Detailed instructions on how to make the ultimate in pasta: hand-stretched dough

– Chinese pot stickers, Polish pierogi, Turkish manti, and other delectable pastas from beyond its traditional Italian borders

– Artisan tips to help anyone, from novice to experienced, make unforgettable pasta

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 6.53.34 AM10. A Cheese Grater

Italians absolutely love their cheese. And nothing is better on your pasta than freshly grated parmesan. Check out the OXO Good Grips Box Grater. It features coarse, fine and super-fine grating surfaces and a slicing surface.

This grater is made of durable stainless steel construction with a soft, comfortable non-slip handle. You can catch, measure and store freshly grated ingredients in the storage container and seal with the included lid.

There is a non-slip bottom ring on both the Grater and the container. The slim construction easily fits into a drawer for compact storage.

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Italian-American Profiles of Success: Frankie Caravello

image1Turning His Passion into a Thriving Business

Since he was 21, Frankie Caravello has had a love and a passion for saltwater aquariums. The 2nd generation Italian-American from New Smyrna Beach, Florida, has always been into saltwater coral and fish.  An aquarium is something he can look into and just get lost in—to him, it’s another world and just seems to wash all the problems away.

Frankie, now 37, turned that passion into a successful business of selling saltwater coral and fish. Over the last couple years, his website,, has became one of the most popular retail sites in the industry.

Frankie took some time to chat with Ciao Pittsburgh recently about his business and his Italian heritage.

CP: Can you the tell the readers a little about yourself?

Frankie: I’m a second generation Italian born here in the states. My daughter, who is 17, lives with my girlfriend and I. My parents live five minutes up the street. I also have two sets of Aunts and Uncles who live in the same town. We’re all close and get together as often as possible. My family and I moved here about six years ago and opened up a used car dealership. Business has been good and we even opened up a second location about three years ago.

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Espresso: Just Add Sugar

“La vita e gia amara. Almeno metti lo zucchero al caffe.” So says an old Italian friend from Abruzzo: “Life is bitter enough. At least put sugar in your coffee.”

For palates used to third-wave coffee in Sydney and Melbourne – with the emphasis on roasting light to bring out the fruity and acidic flavours of specialty-grade beans – bitter is certainly the word on a coffee pilgrimage to Italy, the spiritual home of espresso.

The roasts are darker, and the coffee sometimes a blend of arabica and robusta beans (especially in the south), with the resulting brews quite bitter, even in comparison to Italian-style roasts in Australia, which now use almost exclusively arabica beans.

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How Pizza is Consumed Around the World

egg-pizzaAmericans love pizza. In fact, we spend $37 billion a year on the sauce-and-cheese-topped flatbread, accounting for a third of the global market, according to the USDA.

More than 40 million Americans eat pizza on any given day, and today, one in six males between the ages of 2 and 39 will eat pizza for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Although we didn’t invent pizza, Americans consume more of it than any other country.

Take a look at how this popular pie evolved from an inexpensive Italian food in the 1700s to a staple of the American diet.

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