Wednesday, April 30, 2008



Hola, It is so hard to believe that it is already May. The forecast is rather bleak with cool temperatures and lots of rain. I have an idea for you to brighten you weekend. As you know May 5th is also known as Cinco de Mayo.

Cinco de Mayo, ( is a celebration of Mexican food and heritage. It is to those of Mexican background what St. Patrick's Day is to the Irish, or what Oktoberfest is to the German's.

So pull out a colorful pinata for the kids and the Margarita glasses for the adults and then make up the following recipe for a great Cinco de Mayo celebration.


1 cup crushed tortilla chips
3 Tablespoons melted butter
2-8 ounce packages of softened cream cheese
2 eggs
1-4 ounce can diced green chilies
1 fresh jalapeno pepper seeded and diced
4 ounces shredded Colby cheese
4 ounces shredded Monetary Jack cheese
1/4 cup sour cream

Combine chips and butter. Press into the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven. In a large bowl blend cream cheese and eggs. Add chile's, jalapeno, and both cheeses. Pour the mixture over the crust and bake for 30 minutes. Do not over bake. Remove from the oven and cool 5 minutes. Run a knife around the inside edge and remove sides from the pan. Spread sour cream over the top and decorate with tomatoes, sliced onions, black olives and serve with chips.

I hope you and your family and friends have a wonderful Cinco de Mayo.


Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Tuesday, April 29, 2008



It doesn't feel very May like when I step out-doors and the forecast is for chilly weather and rain. But, hey, it is Minnesota and we know that next week we will rush right into summer. And to get you ready for that day, I am offering a couple of cooking classes that you are going to want to take. So click on the appropriate link at the right of this post and contact the school where I will be teaching and sign up for a bit of summer.

On May 7, 2008, I will be down in Eagan, District 196, cooking up "Dinner al Fresco." This is a great menu for the summer months with several courses. Enjoy a bruschetta with tomatoes, basil and cheese, chicken breast stuffed with ricotta and spinach, pasta with pesto sauce stuffed into a tomato half and for dessert a delicious jam tart. Registration ends in a few days, so pick up the phone and make a reservation or register on line. or 651-423-7920.

It's swimsuit season and I have the class for you! Want to loose a few pounds before you actually go out in public wearing that skimpy little thing? Then, Italian Women Stay Slim is the class for you. This class is being offered at Kitchen Party in Blaine on May 14. Contact them at or at 763-780-0485.

If Blaine is too far to drive, then you can take the same class at Edina Public Schools on May 19. Contact them at or phone them at952-848-3953.

The menu for Italian Women Stay Slim includes Tuscan bean salad, Italian stracciatella soup, Balsamic glazed chicken breasts, surprise mashed potatoes and vanilla cream with chocolate dipped strawberries.

Hopefully one of these classes will appeal to you and I will see you there, check back frequently for more up-coming classes. And if you are looking for something special to make for Cinco di Mayo, check back later in the week.

Happy spring!!!!

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,

Last night I had an opportunity to attend my first ever meeting of "Eat, Drink and Get Published". This is a number of Twin Cities writers that have formed a group a few months ago to get together monthly for networking purposes. Last night's gathering was all about food writing so I was very anxious to attend. The moderator for the evening was one of the food writers for the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, Kim Ode. Her guests were Zoe Francois and Robin Asbell, both cook book authors, who have best sellers on their hands. WOW!

Since this was the first meeting that I attended, I was quite surprised by the number of people gathered together. All were happily sipping wine and noshing while networking. When I first walked into the room I saw Zoe, uncovering several platters of bread that she had baked just for the occasion. On one was a platter of sweet rolls, a recipe from her new cook book with co-author Jeff Hertzberg, called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The rolls were still warm from the oven, soft, nicely flavored with cinnamon and glazed with icing and delicious. I needed to hear more about her new way of baking bread!

She and Jeff have come up with a new method of preparing a yeast dough and keeping it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. The longer it is kept the more depth of flavor is developed in the dough. The theory is that you can always have dough ready to be baked into many different shapes sizes and types. The book is in it's 7th printing with more than 20,000 copies being sold. For more information on her method, the book and baking bread in general go to her blog at: I think you will find that you like the bread as much as I did. You can also get her book at and

The evening ended with more sipping and noshing, but when I went back for another piece of cinnamon roll, sadly only the empty plate was left.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Friday, April 18, 2008


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,
According to the calendar Mother's Day is just around the corner. You may be thinking about a way to honor your mother with a special gift and I would like to suggest my cook book, Carmela's Cucina as a great present for the wonderful mother in your life.
My book actually honors my own mother and grandmother's. And it includes recipes from three generations of great Italian cooks. Recipes from the culinary classes that I teach, from my food and wine tours to Italy and from our family restaurant, Tursi's Latin King. In this collection of recipes, photos and stories of growing up in an Italian American family, I share with you the finest fruits of my experiences in the kitchen and of Italy.
Perfect for any gift giving occasion the book may be purchased at Byerly's in St. Louis Park, Barnes and Noble, and through my web site,
From antipasto to pasta to dolce, (dessert), you will love the easy and simple recipes that will become your family favorites too. I hope that Carmela's Cucina will soon be a part of your cook book collection.
Buon appetito,
Carmela Turs Hobbins

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,

Here is a special offering to experience autumn in Tuscany first hand. And to do it at a 2007 U.S. dollar price. Join us, Carmela Tursi Hobbins, Doris Fortino and Doug Haynes-for an immersion into Italian culture and cuisine. The three of us will be your hosts, tour guides and translators for the Culinary Event Week of September 20-27, 2008.

This will be a week of hands-on cooking classes where you"ll learn from area experts and well-known chefs. You'll learn classic Italian culinary skills and will return home ready to impress your family and friends with local Tuscan recipes.

Of course, not all of your time is spent in the kitchen. We'll take time to dine at the famous and the small and charming restaurants and of course, we will be sampling the fine wines of Tuscany. We have also planned excursions to Lucca, Siena, San Gimignano and the beautiful seaside coast of Cinque Terre with a seafood lunch in a fortress tower. September is the perfect time to visit Tuscany, the weather is warm and you will tour without the crowds.

For this all-inclusive week, we have every detail covered-from pick-up at the airport to local historic tours and, of course, food! Book now because space is limited to 12 people for each week. Special culinary Event Week price (excluding airfare) is $2,995.

Visit for more information and to reserve your place.

And according to my travel agent Besse Maragoes at Shilling Travel the air fare at that time will be just over $1,000. Or go to for complete air fare details.

I hope to see you in Tuscany this fall.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Friday, April 11, 2008


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,

Bought back by popular demand, District 196 has asked me to teach the class, "Tuscan Farm House Cooking: IL Mulino" again this season. The first class was completely sold out, but a few seats remain in the class that will be held at Black Hawk Middle School in Eagan on Wed. night April 16, 2008 at 6:30 p.m. To register go on line at: or phone 651-423-7920.

Bring your imagination as we travel to a cozy Tuscan farmhouse for a menu reminiscent of a relaxed Italian country dinner. We will make and enjoy, warm foccacia bread with paper-thin prosciutto, herb-rubbed roast pork loin prepared Tuscan style, roasted vegetable with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, salad all' Mulino and cream puffs with raspberries.

I will entertain you with my stories of traveling through Italy and growing up in an Italian American family. Be prepared to learn some great entertaining tips and enjoy a relaxing evening of delicious Italian food.

My cook book Carmela's Cucina will be available for sale the evening of the class and I will be happy to personalize it and autograph it for you. This collection of recipes, stories, and photographs would make a great Mother's Day gift as well as wedding and shower gifts as well.

I hope to see you in Eagan on the 16th of April and while you are signing up for that class think about registering for my class on May 7th also at Black Hawk, when we will be enjoying "Dinner al Fresco."

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Monday, April 7, 2008


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,

Bob and I were invited to a wedding in Kansas City this past week-end and decided to go and visit friends from college and see the sights of this fun town as well as attending the wedding. At the recommendation of the groom's mother we stayed at the Intercontinental at the Plaza ( )

The hotel's service was wonderful and is nicely decorated, but the best part is that it is just two very short blocks to the world famous Kansas City Plaza area. The Plaza is full of wonderful specialty stores and restaurants, coffee shops and galleries. The weather was beautiful, so we were able to enjoy the Spanish architecture and all of the many fountains.

Friday night, at my request my friend and her husband made reservations for the four of us to eat at Lidia Bastianich's Restaurant, Lidia's ( ) located in the historic Freight House. Lidia is considered the "first lady" of Italian Cuisine and is my idol, so I had been wanting to eat there for many years.

On a week-end evening Lidia's was buzzing and fun. We had a great table looking out at the room and a very informative waiter, who suggested that we start our meal out with a Frico. As part of some of my cooking classes I make Frico Baskets that hold salads, but this was a little different. The Frico was on a bed of roasted potatoes with a lovely asparagus and shrimp sauce poured over and then over that laid a crisp Frico made of Parmesan Cheese and garnished with more shrimp and asparagus. The shrimp and asparagus sauce was light and creamy and the contrast of the crisp Frico was delicious. I then had the trio of pastas, the first was a Spinach Fettuccine in a cream sauce, then came a spicy Capatavi pasta with sausage which was not too hot, but yet spicy enough to give the dish a nice zip. The final part of the trio was actually a creamy Risotto of seafood. My favorite of the trio was the Capatavi. The waiter did mention that all of the pastas were refillable, but at this point I was pretty full and wanting to enjoy dessert.

The trio also included a salad as well and Bob and I split a Beat salad with creamy Gorgonzola Cheese and roasted walnuts. It was colorful and the cheese was a nice contrast to the beats. All of the servings were very generous.

And for dessert, and probably my favorite course, was a Lemon and Olive Oil cake, which I make frequently for my clients as well, but they pared it with a lemon gelato that was delicious. The gelato had a hint of rosemary to it and a small sprig garnished the plate. It was very refreshing after all of the pasta.

If I were to go back however, I would choose what my friend had, which was a lovely portion of a sauteed chicken breast in a lemon caper sauce served over a bed of fresh spinach. The bread basket that they brought to our table when we first arrived with an artichoke spread and then another spread of olives was wonderful on the warm foccacia that made up part of the generous bread basket.

Food and service were great, I fulfilled my dream and I will go back on future trips.

And for those of you who love to watch the Food Network, scratch that idea on Sat. mornings and tune into a show that will teach you what real Italian food is about. You can catch Lidia's Italy on PBS, in the Twin Cities, that is channel 2 at 11:00 in the morning. You will learn more from her in 30 minutes than you ever will from some of the so called Food Network Stars.

Many of the ideas for my classes in the Twin Cities are inspired from Lidia's many cookbooks. So if you cannot make it to Kansas City or to the New York city area, where Lidia owns two other restaurants, you may want to take one of my cooking classes. To register for a class, look to the list of cooking schools that I have posted on this page and click on their link to see when I will be teaching at their location, what is on the menu and how to register.

Lidia's many cookbook's are available at Barnes and Noble and you can also get my latest cookbook, Carmela's Cucina there as well.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,

My students always ask during my cooking classes," which Italian restaurants do you like in the Twin Cities?" I rattle off a few and then always mention Al Vento (the Wind) as a really good southern Italian place to dine. However I had not been there in about a year and now have been back twice in a month because our first experience was so good and our second visit even better.

Located in south Minneapolis at 5001 34Th Ave AlVento puts out great food at what I think are very reasonable prices. On one occasion I ordered the Balsamic braised short ribs with Gorgonzola potatoes and carrots at $21.50, this was the most expensive entree on the menu. The portion was so large that I brought half of it home with me and had it for lunch the next day. Warmed up it was even better than the night before. I went for something a little lighter on my next visit, but was not disappointed. Striped sea bass with fava bean risotto and tomato beurre blanc was light and delicious. The sea bass was very moist and flavorful and the risotto nice and creamy. Because I was not feeling overly stuffed, I felt that I could order dessert to finish off the evening.

My daughter in law, Jeannie happened to be with us that night and after much consultation, we decided that we would split the Chocolate Oblivion. I love Jeannie, but the minute that dessert appeared, hand delivered by the chef, I began to regret my decision to share. But trying to be a good mother in law, I did not devour the entire dessert myself, although, I really was tempted to do just that.

Chocolate Oblivion lived up to it's name, the moment the first bite passed my lips I felt as though I must be in chocolate heaven. The pastry crust is light and flaky, the center is then covered with a sweet chocolate ganache with diced strawberries over the chocolate and a lovely vanilla cream anglaise pools around it all. If you go to Al Vento make sure and save some room for this wonderful experience. The only thing that would have made it better is if I had ordered a nicely chilled glass of Moscato to sip with it.

Al Vento will take reservations call 612-727-2724 or go on line at They also do catering. And one of the nicest parts of the whole dining experience was that the chef/owner, John Hunt did come out to speak with us. I love supporting small establishments such as this and I suggest that you try them out too.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins