Saturday, December 20, 2008


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,
I have been doing a great deal of baking this holiday season. I had several classes this season that were just chocolate and cupcakes. I also baked with my son's girlfriends, and I hope this will become a new holiday tradition. And then there was the marathon baking session, with my friend and cooking assistant Dianne Jackson, who makes beautiful cut out cookies that are perfectly decorated and look fantastic on my cookie trays.
I have taken cookies to many parties this season as well and have gotten great compliments, but to my surprise the recipe that is most requested is not a cookie after all, but more like a candy. PRETZEL PEANUT BARK is super easy and quick to make and you, your friends and family are going to love it. So whip up a batch today, let the bark set up and break it into pieces and then fill either pretty bags or decorative tins with it and you have a great last minute gift to give. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we all have.
Buon appetito e Buon Natale,
Carmela Tursi Hobbins

18 ounces white chocolate
3 cups stick pretzels broken into small pieces but not crushed, then measured
2 cups dry salted peanuts
Line a cookie sheet with waxed or parchment paper. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water until smooth, or melt in the microwave in a 2-quart glass dish. Microwave at high for 1 minute and stir. Repeat if necessary until chocolate is melted and smooth. Stir in pretzel pieces and peanuts. Stir well. Spoon mixture onto the prepared cookie sheet, spreading the mixture out so that the ingredients are evenly distributed. Allow the mixture to cool for several hours or refrigerate for 45 minutes, then break the bark into pieces.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,
Are you still looking for a great Christmas or Holiday gift? One that will create a lifetime of memories? Then I have a great idea for you. Why not give Italy for Christmas? For the past 6 years I have been leading culinary tours to Tuscany and have taken hundreds of people on this wonderful trip. I am now taking reservations for May and Sept. 2009.

Included in the trip are 7 nights lodging in beautifully restored farm-house villas. All ground transportation to and from the Pisa airport and throughout the week. Pickup and return to the Florence train station. Breakfast daily, 5 lunches and 7 dinners with wine. Two cooking lessons taught by local experts in Italian cuisine. Fully escorted with English and Italian speaking guides. All guests receive a specially designed event planner/recipe booklet upon arrival.

Visit the markets of Florence, take a stroll on top of the wall of historic Lucca, hike the world famous Cinque Terre with it's breath-taking views. Enjoy lunch on Il Campo in the center of Sienna and buy beautiful ceramics in San Gimignano a small town known for it's many towers. Enjoy a spa treatment (up-grade) in the spa town of Montecatini and make the Tuscan favorite Tortelli with a local expert. Drink the wines of Chianti. And all the while there will be only 12 persons participating. For complete details go to my web-site at
To make your reservation contact me at The reservation deadline for the May 23-30, 2009 trip is Jan. 31, 2009.

I hope you will join me in "Bella Toscana," for a trip of a lifetime.
Buon appetito e Buon Natale,
Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,
The holidays are going to be here before you know it. I realize that this is hard to belive but just check your calander or look out the window and our wintery sceen will confirm it. I want to suggest an easy gift idea, my cookbook. It has great recipes, stories and photos and if you love Italian food you will love this collection of three generations of Italian cooks. The best thing is you don't even need to leave home to get a copy. Contact me at my website, or email me and place an order. I will sign a copy, mail one out to you. And if you place an order by the 20th of Dec. you can have your own copy for gift giving. Order two and you can have a copy for yourself.
I also will be at St. Patrick's Church on Dec. 14th from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00p.m. signing books and selling my spicey condimento so you could get a copy there too.
Reviews of the book are great and everyone loves it, you will too!
And just because you took the time to read this entry, here is a sample recipe for you to enjoy over the holidays.
6 slices of country-style bread
1 large ripe firm pear
5 and 1/2 ounces of gorgonzola dolce (sweet cheese)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
4 teaspoons honey
freshly ground black pepper
Toast bread slices briefly in a heated oven.
Peel the pear and cut in half vertically. Core and cut each half into thin slices. Melt the sugar and butter in a saute pan and add the pear slices. Cook on medium heat until pear slices begin to caramelize lightly and soften. There should be a bit of syrupy liquid with the pears. A few drops of water can be added if there is not sufficient liquid.
Divide Gorgonzola and spread over toasted bread. Place pears on bread and drizzle with honey. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
Buon appetito,
Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Monday, December 1, 2008


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,

I got my Christmas present early this year. Another shipment of my cook book, Carmela's Cucina arrived this morning. It is now in it's 4Th reprint and I am so excited that it is still doing well.

The book includes recipes from 3 generations of great Italian cook's, my grandmothers, Mom and my own. It also includes recipes from my culinary tours, cooking classes that I teach around the Twin Cities and also from my brother's restaurant, the Latin King in Des Moines.

If you are looking for a really great gift for the holidays, my book is just what you want to give. If you are really lucky maybe the recipient will make you a great dinner or bake you some cookies from it.

To get your signed and personalized copy of the book contact me through my web site at or go to Barnes and Noble, Byerly's or Cook's of Crocus Hill for a copy.

And don't forget to give yourself a present of my book too. I guarantee you there will be no one disappointed!

Buon appetito,

Carmela Turis Hobbins