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Tomato Sauce (Sugo)

Growing up as a kid the end of August/Labour Day weekend always brought upon the nerves of going back to school and also the big production of making “the sauce”. As a kid I used to dread helping to make tomato sauce, it was a full day production which meant not hanging out with friends at the cottage. Not to mention the times you got a splash of the burning sauce on your skin or steam burn from the giant pot of sizzling tomato juice. Now that I am older, I value those memories and traditions. Every family has their own traditions and different way of making the sauce that is special to them. For the purpose of the blog I included a very quick how-to guide below. Keep in mind it's a bit more complex than I...

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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...

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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...

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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...


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...

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....

San Giuseppe Day

In particular, on Saint Joseph’s feast day, the pastry made is Zeppole.  If you visit your local Italian bakery around this time, you will likely see these beautiful pastries on display....