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Author: oliviadonofrio

Christmas Tree Hunt

One of my favorite traditions is our annual tree hunt! Since I was a little girl I remember this day and looked forward to it every year. We all meet at my Nonna's house, get into cars and back in the day, we used walkie talkies to communicate in-between vehicles. We would travel to the tree farm (or farms) and wander the rows of trees in search of the perfect one. One that wasn't too big, or too small, or too wide, or too narrow. You can imagine how this process was a slow one at times. Once the tree was selected my aunt Zia Gisa had this great idea to hold hands around the tree and sing 'Yahoo Dore' from the grinch, this tradition has stuck all these years later. Once the trees were packed and in the...

Liquid Gold – aka hot pepper oil

My uncle Arnie Spina is known for many things, but his hot pepper oil is definitely top on the list. Friends and family all know that he has the best hot pepper oil in the game and no one wants to even attempt making it themselves. Why you ask? Well, it’s a pretty intense and dangerous process of fermenting peppers. One wrong move could land you in the hospital- true story!  His grandmother taught him this specialty from a young age in Pesche, Italy. He has carried on the tradition as an adult living in Woodstock.  He has introduced it to his friends and family, sharing a very limited supply of jars with select few.  Caution, the step by step process is only for those experienced professionals. We, at Olivia D’Onofrio, do not assume responsibility for any side effects which...

Wine Making

I am a bit delayed on this post as it’s been a busy time for us adjusting to life outside of the city. Autumn is a season of the harvest.  For wine lovers and our culture, the fall is known for making homemade wine. As a child, this was always so much fun to be apart of. We would gather around my Nonno Ciccio’s shed and watch as the brothers and my other Nonno would take turns crushing the grapes. We were sure to never sit still because the wasps would gather and attack you! Somehow I don’t ever remember anyone ever getting stung though.  When the grapes were crushed, and the juice put into barrels, my dad always stored them in our laundry room near the cantina because it was cool. The smell of the wine fermenting was...

Hot Pepper Potatoes

Watch my aunt Zia Laura share traditions about her mother, Filomena's, signature hot pepper potatoes. This recipe and tradition comes all the way from Pesche, Italy where my aunt and her family grew up. At any family function, you can be sure to see these hot pepper potatoes on the table, and they taste like perfection every time. Side note, if you are not one for the heat, you may want to stay away from this recipe. :) https://youtu.be/hSTb41wAgyg You will need: Four medium red potatoes, use red because they're firmer Salt ¼ cup olive oil2 dry red chili peppers 1 tsp red chili flakes  Instructions: Boil the potatoes skin on Once potatoes are cooked peel the skin offSlice them very thin Season with salt Sautee olive oil in a pan with chili peppers roasted the pepper a bit and then add chili flakes Pour the mixture on the potatoes Mix...

Caprese Salad by (Zia) Teresa Fabrizo

My aunt, Teresa Fabrizio is an amazing chef and baker. Together with her husband, Sabatino, they ran an Italian restaurant called Trattoria Fabrizio for many years. So many fresh homemade dishes were featured on their menu.  From cannelloni to spaghetti and meatballs and chicken parmiggiana, you name it, they made it all fresh in-house! As kids, my cousins and I absolutely loved going to the restaurant because it meant we could snack on all of the delicious cookies and gelato you could ask for! Plus, it always entailed a trip to the super fun toy store down the street. ;)  Zia Teresa & Zio Sabatino ran cooking and baking classes, as well as hosting many parties and dinners at the restaurant.  They even published two cookbooks which features all the traditional foods and the stories behind them. She is...

The Endive Series

Endive + Potato This is a light and refreshing dish that uses produce from the garden or market. It’s so simple, and yet so tasty! Bookmark this recipe as a go-to-summer recipe.  To start, boil the endive (quantity TBD on how much you want to cook), remember to salt the water first. Once boiled, strain and soak in an ice water bath right away to help take away the bitterness.  Up next, boil the potatoes. Again the quantity is TBD based on how much you want to cook but 4-5 potatoes should suffice.  Once cooked, crush potatoes with a fork into pieces and heat oil in a pan. Once heated place the endive and crushed potatoes in the oil.  Add a handful of diced tomatoes, preferably fresh from the garden, add garlic, salt and pepper and tada! There you have it, a quick...

Gardening

Gardening is a right of passage in many cultures, and specifically in our Italian culture.  It is somewhat of a trophy you can hold high for years to come, if you are good at it, of course! My grandparents (on both sides of my family) cherish their gardens just as I’m sure many of yours do. From a young age, so many of my memories surround their gardens:  walking with them to pick off fresh grapes from the vines, picking cherries from the tree, and harvesting all the cherry tomatoes your heart desires. And don’t get me started on my elation when I see an overflowing freshly-picked basket of peas! My taste buds celebrate and my belly aches at the same time.  Those of you who’ve eaten an entire basket of freshly picked peas know exactly what I...

Patelli Zucchini

Any event at our house would consist of patelli zucchini. My mom is known for these and she often makes a couple of batches for friends for their dinner parties. It’s like a frittata and great as an appetizer.  There’s nothing better than making them from that first summer zucchini harvest from Nonno’s garden. 4 medium zucchini 4 eggs 1 cup of flour ¾ cups of grated cheese Salt and pepper 4 leaves of chopped basil Slice zucchini (you can use the cheese grater on the big size) Add salt and pepper, let stand for a few minutes Add eggs, cheese whisk with a fork Add flour & basil Mix with fork until a pancake consistency Using a tablespoon to drop the mix into the hot oil- ensure there is enough batter to coat the zucchini Flip once when brown Don’t prick it with a fork as the oil will seep through...

Sguti – Italian Easter Bread

During Easter time, we always make Sguti. These are also known as Italian Easter bread which is made of dough that is designed and wrapped around hard boiled eggs. On the Figliomeni side, we always have competitions to see who can make the best Sguti.  Those who were not in the competition, were lucky enough to be on the judging panel. My aunt Laura was the winner last year, her secret, she adds Lemon Emolation to the recipe for a twist. On the Commisso side, we always get together at Nonna Pina’s house with the whole crew:  aunts,uncles and cousins. We usually make a big batch, either after Good Friday mass or on Holy Saturday. The challenge is always to add a creative look to your egg, but sometimes we fall back on the more traditional braided look....