Wednesday, December 29, 2010



As many of you know I have been leading food and wine tours to Italy for 8 years. I usually offer the trips in Sept. of the year. We began by doing the Tuscany tour and last year added beautiful Calabria.

I am trying to poll my clients to see what kind of interest there is in the tours for 2011. If you think that you might like a small group tour to either Calabria or Tuscany, please go to my website at and take a look at the itineraries for the tours. And if you are serious about taking a tour like this please contact me at Also let me know which tour you would like to attend and if you prefer the spring or fall and even if you have a particular date in mind.

We must have a minimum of 10 people in each group, so once I see if there is enough interest in the tours for next year we will offer them again. And if you have your own small group in mind we can always personalize a trip for you.

I hope you will consider a tour with Carmela's Cucina in the future.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,

It is hard to believe that 2010 is coming to an end. We will be celebrating quietly with a few friends. Some of you might be going to larger celebrations, but over the years I have come to like smaller groups to ring in the "New Year." And you may be looking for something quick to make for your party or just to have with a drink. Teddy, gave me this recipe a few months ago and we have made it several times. The nuts are a hit and easy to make. Serve them warm or at room temperature. And let me know what you think.

Happy New Year!

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins


2 cups unsalted mixed nuts
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper

Mix all the ingredients except the nuts in a small bowl. Pour the mixture over the nuts and mix well. Spread out on a jelly roll pan and bake at 350degrees for 10 minutes.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010



Are you still looking for a fabulous Christmas dessert, but are short on time? Try my fail proof Zuppa Inglese (English Trifle). It is festive, delicious and everyone is going to love it and love you for making it. Consider it my Christmas gift to you. Perfect for New Year's Eve with a glass of sparkling wine.

Buon Natle!


1 large frozen pound cake, angle food cake, or 2 packages of ladyfingers
1-3 ounce package of instant French vanilla pudding
1 pint whipped cream
4 tablespoons Amaretto Liqueur
1 cup raspberry preserve
1-3 ounce package sliced almonds
Maraschino cherries or fresh fruit.

Cut the pound cake or angle food cake into cubes. Leave the ladyfingers whole. Prepare the pudding according to package directions and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.

To assemble, place half of the cake in a trifle or clear glass bowl and sprinkle with half of the Amaretto. Spread 1/2 cup of the raspberry preserves over the cake, allowing some to dribble down the sides. Pour 1/2 of the pudding over the preserves. Spread 1/2 of the whipped cream over the pudding.

Repeat the layers ending with the whipped cream. Sprinkle with the almonds over the whipped cream and decorate with Maraschino cherries or fresh fruit such as kiwi and or strawberries. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours before serving.

When ready to serve, scoop the Zuppa Inglese into a bowl and top with more fresh fruit.


Monday, December 20, 2010



Last week I taught a cooking class on Crostini at Byerly's. Everyone loved the five crostini that I demonstrated and I wanted to share one of my favorites with you and just in time to make for Christmas or New Year's. When you decorate them according to my directions they are very festive.

So go ahead and make a tray full.

Buon appetito e Buon Natle

Carmela Tursi Hobbins


4 ounces of cream cheese
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup mayonnaise
4 ounces cooked shrimp
Garlic salt to taste
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 baguette
Olive oil

Chop onion in a food processor, add the shrimp and pulse 3 or 4 times. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl and process until smooth. Slice bread about 1/4 inch thick. Brush the bottom of the bread with olive oil. Spread about a tablespoon of the shrimp mixture on the bread. Decorate with pimento and parsley. At this point, if you wish to use them later you can place them on a cookie sheet and freeze. When frozen put them into plastic containers. Bake crostini at 350 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes. MAKE 24.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,

Delicious after dinner, but truth be known, we have eaten it for breakfast too. Always the first to be eaten on a buffet table.

It's not the pretties dessert, but it sure is perfect on a cold winter night. To make it more festive, cut it into squares and add a dollop of whipped cream, a fresh raspberry and a mint leaf. It is one of our family favorites and since so many of you have asked for the recipe, here it is. TUSCAN BREAD PUDDING. And it means this Christmas is just right around the corner.

Buon Natale e buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins


1 pannetone or other fruit-studded sweet bread (about 1 pound) cut into one inch slices
1 quart of half and half
3 eggs
1 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
Amaretto Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat the broiler. Arrange the bread slices on 2 baking sheets and toast 2 inches from the heat source for about 1 minute per side, or until lightly golden brown. Set aside for 1 hours. An alternative is to cut the bread into 1 and 1/2 inch cubes and spread the cubes out on a cookie sheet over-night uncovered so that they dry out.

Tear the toasted panettone into cubes and place in a large bowl. Pour the half and half over the bread, making sure all the pieces are moistened. Set aside for one hour until the liquid has been absorbed.

Pre heat the oven to 325 degrees. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9x12x2 inch baking pan and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar, vanilla and almond extracts until blended. Stir in the soaked bread with any remaining liquid. Transfer the mixture to a the prepared baking dish and bake in the middle of the oven for about 1 hour, or until the pudding is set and the top is golden brown. Let cool to room temperature. (the pudding can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and set aside.

When ready to serve, preheat the broiler. Just before serving spoon the Amaretto Sauce over the pudding and broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat until bubbly and lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Cut the bread pudding into 12 pieces and serve immediately.

*Panettone, is an Italian sweet bread, usually served at Christmas. You can find it at most grocery and specialty shops, even Costco, Sam's and Target will carry them. Quality varies.*


1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup of confectioner's sugar
3 tablespoons Amaretto
2 egg yolks

In a medium bowl set over a small saucepan of simmering water or on the top of a double boiler, melt the butter. Slowly whisk in the sugar until the mixture is creamy, about 30 seconds. Add the Amaretto and then the egg yolks one at a time, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking until the sauce reaches 160 degrees, about 4 minutes. Let cool. Cover and refrigerate. (This sauce can be made a day in advance.) Let return to room temperature before using.

*This sauce is also nice on ice cream or over pound cake.*

****After you are done licking your bowl clean, write to me and let me know what you think about this awesome dessert.*****

Wednesday, November 24, 2010



I just finished making the cranberry sauce for our Thanksgiving feast. It is still cooling in the pot as I write this, when I am done I will simply add the mandarin oranges and garnish the dish. It will be completely ready to serve, no last minute fuss or bother. Something that I really find valuable with such an important meal. I had to share this recipe with my readers. There is a secret ingredient, "ginger" only fresh will do. Don't be intimidated by this gnarly root, fresh is a must. Just peel it with a teaspoon and chop it fine. It adds a great dimension to the sauce that you rarely find. And remember cranberry sauce is not just for Thanksgiving. I make it several times during the winter months as it is so good with all poultry and pork dishes.

I hope you have a great holiday with your family and friends.

Buon appetito!

Carmela Tursi Hobbins


3 cups cranberries (12 ounces)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
1- 12 ounce can of mandarin oranges

Combine the cranberries, sugar and ginger in a large pot. Cook stirring occasionally, over medium heat until sugar is melted and cranberries begin to pop, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 cup of water and simmer until liquid has thickened slightly, about 4 minutes. Some cranberries should still be whole. Remove from the heat, stir in oranges. Let cool before serving

Sunday, November 21, 2010



I don't know about you, but this holiday season I am determined that I will not gain the usual five pounds and then have to fight all winter long and into the summer to take it off. I am looking for some tasty, but satisfying side dishes to go along with my turkey dinner this year. And something that my family is going to love too.

We really enjoy this marinated carrot salad. It can be made ahead and even stored in your fridge up to six week. I have to confess, we have never had it last nearly that long so I really don't know. What I do know, it that it is really a great recipe, easy to make and you will enjoy it on your Thanksgiving table.

I hope you all love Marinated Carrots as much as we do and that you have a most wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends this year.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins


1 cup sugar
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
One can tomato soup
2 pounds baby cut carrots, cooked but still firm
1 medium red onion sliced into half rings
1 cup chopped parsley

Combine the sugar, vinegar, oil, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the soup. Mix the carrots, and onion together in a large glass dish, pour the sauce over the vegetables, stir gently to combine and refrigerate over night. When ready to serve toss in the chopped parsley. This salad will keep stored in a plastic container for up to six weeks in your refrigerator.


Thursday, November 18, 2010



I will be teaching a wonderful class at Hopkins Community Education on Dec. 1, 2010.

Learn the secrets of making the fabulous savories served at wine bars that are all the rage in Italy. This is a fun filled class where yo will learn tips for easy, yet impressive entertaining and how to party like the fun-loving Italians. Leave this class filled with good food and recipes for your holiday entertaining! We will make Virgin Bellini, made famous in Harry's Bar in Venice (then make the real thing at home). Next enjoy Warm Rosemary Mixed Nuts, Roasted Olives, Mini Pizzetta with Carmalized Onions, Goat Cheese and Prosciutto, Mini Frittatas, Prosciuitto-wrapped Asparagus Spears and Tuna Cream in Phyllo Cups.

Contact Hopkins Community Education to register at www.hopkinscommunityed,org or phone them at 952-988-4070.

Hope to see you there.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Tuesday, November 9, 2010



The front cover of the Nov. issue of Edina magazine features my Italian Fish Soup which we always serve around the holidays. The magazine also includes the recipe for that special meal and a great Insalata Mista which I serve to go with it. To see the picture and article go to The recipes can be found on page 27. Or just look below.

They say that by the end of the week it is going to be much cooler, so you will want to try out my Zuppa di Pesce, and Salad. Just add a loaf of crusty bread and you will have a great meal. The other recipes in the article are from well known Edina chefs so you may want to make all of them and invite company for dinner.

Thanks to Paulette Mitchell for asking me to contribute to her story.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins


1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 large green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup sliced celery
2 medium cloves of garlic minced
2 tsp. crushed dried basil leaves
1 can (28 ounces) Italian style pear or plum tomatoes, un-drained
2 cups dry white wine
1 (8 ounce) bottle of clam juice
1 cup water
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
2/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 bay leaf
Salt to taste
1 lemon cut into thin slices
1 and 1/2 pounds sea bass, halibut or other firm fish cut into 2-inch pieces
12 hard-shell clams
1/2 pound bay scallops
1/2 pound medium to large shrimp, shelled and de-veined
1 pound mussels
juice of 1/2 lemon

Heat the olive oil in a 6-8 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic and basil, saute until just tender.

Add the tomatoes and break up with the edge of a large spoon. Stir in the wine, clam juice, water, tomato paste and 1/2 cup parsley, bay leaf and salt. Increase the heat and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the lemon slices and sea bass, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add the clams, scallops, shrimp, mussels and lemon juice, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium high, cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the fish is just done. Remove the bay leaf and stir in the remaining parsley. SERVES 8


8 cups mixed field greens
3 cups sliced fennel bulbs (discard hard core and stalks)
1/2 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Combine the greens, fennel, and pine nuts in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Whisk until the dressing is emulsified.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until well combined. Top with the Parmesan.

Thursday, October 21, 2010



There is a great article in the New York Times from Oct. 19 by Sam Sifton. Sam writes all about the new Italian market/restaurants called Eataly. Started in Turin, Italy they are a great place to dine or to pick up the ingredients for a great Italian meal. They also sell kitchen tools and necessities.

Bob and I enjoyed the Eataly experience while we were visiting Bologna this Sept. Sifton describes an Eataly as "enjoying Italy by the ounce." And now the best news, if you can't go to Italy you can enjoy an Eataly while you are in New York City. Let's hope we can get one in the mid-west sometime soon. Any investors out there? I know just the person to manage it for you.

Buon appetito,


Tuesday, October 12, 2010



Would you like to be drinking some wines like my clients are in this photo? Then join us at the Latin King, in Des Moines, Iowa for a wine tasting and 5 course dinner on Oct. 28, 2010. Paolo Librandi, wine maker will be our guest as he talks about his wine. For a reservation contact R.J. Tursi at: or call the Latin King at 515-266-4466.

And if you like the wine, maybe you would like to join me for a culinary tour in 2011 to Southern Italy and the Almafi coast. For details go to my website at and click on the tours link.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Thursday, October 7, 2010



I just spent a delightful half hours speaking with Nadia Giordano on her talk show, "EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN, LIVING EXTRAORDINARY LIVES."

She interviewed me about my culinary tours to Italy, my Italian cooking classes and my cook book, Carmela's Cucina.

To hear the interview go to and scroll down until you see my interview. I hope you enjoy it.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Thursday, September 30, 2010



I am just back from a month in beautiful Italy with 2 culinary tours. My first tour included Calabria and the Almafi Coast and the 2nd tour was of Tuscany. In between tours, Bob and I visited Bolonga and the region of Emilia Romagna. Each region is rich in history, wine and food and over the next few weeks I will be telling you about my experiences.

For today, my post is going to include the prayer that Father John Forliti wrote for our last special dinner in Positano on the beautiful Almafi Coast.

I hope some day you might be able to join me on one of my Food and Wine tours of Italy, until then below is a little something for you to think about.


1. For Carmie's inspiration, perspiration and invitation. We pray...

2. For Dario's (our driver) safe transfer, keen eyes, and steady hands. We pray...

3. For the Librandi's (our hosts in Calabria), Enza and Nico, grapes and figs, endless foraging into tastes and textures, for opportunities to graze until Martino comes home. We pray...

4. For banquet tables and accordion tunes, for octopus and sea bass, for cavatelli by the millions, and for zuccini flowers. We pray...

5. Flor flower, wineyard and more, for parsley and weal and Katrin (our tour guide): for her energy and care, and guidance everywhere, for her joyful spirit and hospitable flair. We pray...

6. For peppers, parmigiano, provola and provolone, polpette and parsley, patate, pane and pumpkin. We pray...

7. For melanzane and marmellata, meatloaf and Martino, Amarelli and Milo, and endless rolls of cavatelli. We pray.

8. For octopus and olive oil, formagio and liquorice, goat and anchovies, vino rosso and galioppo,vino bianco and water without gas. We pray

9. For cell phones that rig at the most sacred of moments. We pray.

10. We have been blessed with abundance and depart with grateful hearts; grateful to each other and grateful to God. May the blessings we have received flow from us to others, for the healing of earth and repairing of the human spirit. Amen.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Wednesday, August 18, 2010



I have two tips for you today. First go to the Minneapolis Farmer's Market during the week. Yes, there are fewer vendors, but there are also fewer people that make shopping difficult. Second, the Basil is just perfect now, so it is time to make Pesto.

I have not gone to the Minneapolis Farmer's Market on a Saturday for years because it is just too crowded for me. I have enjoyed the market in Edina on Thur. afternoons, the market near our lake home and then my husband will bring whatever I need on when the vendors are on the Nicollet Mall. But because a friend and I are having a dinner party tonight, we decided to make the trek down to the market yesterday and loved every minute of it. We were able to buy what we needed, actually had time to speak with the vendors and enjoyed the experience greatly. We vowed to do this frequently in the future.

High on the list was two large bunches of basil, which I have turned into tasty Pesto. I made enough this morning to supply us for most of the year. I freeze it in 1 cup containers and it usually is enough for a pound of pasta. If you use less, then just pour it in to an ice-cube tray and when frozen you can store the cubes in freezer bags and drop them into soups and stews. Pesto, it's a really good thing.

Enjoy this Pesto recipe from my cook book, Carmela's Cucina. And if you would like a personalized copy, contact me through my web site at


2 cups fresh basil leaves
4 medium-sized garlic cloves
1 cup walnuts or pine nuts
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Romano cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Process the basil, garlic and nuts in a food processor with a steel blade until finely chopped. With the machine running, pour in the oil in a thin steady stream. Add the cheese, a pinch of salt, and freshly ground pepper. Process briefly to combine. MAKES 2 CUPS.

Buon appeito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Sunday, August 8, 2010



We found ourselves in town this weekend for the first time in awhile. So, we got up early and went to Mass, followed by brunch at Collete in the Hotel Sofitel. Recently remodeled, it is much more open and colorful than the former Chez Collete. But the French pastries are better than ever. Bob and I split an egg-white omelet with goat cheese, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes and then splurged on the croissants. Perfect way to start a new week. Try it you will like it too. OOH, La, La.

Buon appetito,


Wednesday, August 4, 2010



This is summer RESTAURANT WEEK in the Twin Cities, so I am trying to take in some new eateries. Parma 8200 in Bloomington was my choice on this hot, humid summer day.

Parma 8200 just opened about six weeks ago and is one of the many restaurants owned by the D'Amico brothers. While the service still needs some improvement and the location needs better signage the food for lunch was just perfect.

I was joined by four other female friends and we had a nice long lunch in the high energy space. Because of the special week, they were offering a $10.00 2 course lunch. I went for the Watermelon Salad with sweet basil, cherry tomatoes and goat cheese. Other offering included Fried Sicilian Rice Balls which sounded too hot and heavy for this hot day and Bruschetta of Tomatoes which sounded a bit ordinary to me. The Watermelon Salad was small, but refreshing and satisfying. I plan to try and duplicate it for a dinner party I am co-hosting in a few weeks.

For my main course or Secondi I chose the Chilled Shrimp Salad, with fregola, and corn tossed with a tarragon vinaigrette. I do wish it had a few more shrimp, but for a $10.00 lunch again it was the perfect size. There were also chopped green beans and asparagus in the salad.

We passed on desert because of course we are all dieting. The lunch I ordered was fresh, delicious, light and just what this weight watcher needed. And the company was great too.

Try Parma 8200, I think they are going to be a great place to dine once they have the kinks in their service worked out and some better signs leading to their establishment.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Monday, June 28, 2010



Are you looking for a fun activity for your kids this summer? After the 4th of July summer can get a little long and I have an idea for you. I will be teaching an all new Kids in the Cucina Day Camp at Cooks of Crocus Hill at 50th and France.

The first day we will be focusing on just breakfast items, the second lunch, and on the third day dinner. These recipes are fun and easy to make and the kids will want to make them for the whole family. Each session is about 3 hours long, just perfect for Mom to run a few errands and meet a girlfriend for a cup of coffee or a walk.

To register for the class contact Cooks of Crocus Hill by going to their web site which will have all of the details at or you can phone them at 952-285-1903.

And remember that you can also book a private cooking class with me by contacting me at

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Friday, June 25, 2010



Wow, can it really be time to celebrate the birth of our country? We will all be leaving early next week for the lakes and beaches to get ready for our big day of feasting and fire works. The Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. Family, friends, food and fireworks who could ask for more?

Well, the cook in the family might ask for a little extra time relaxing on the lake or taking a ride on her pontoon, so I have a really easy recipe to make her life easier and it is straight out of my cook book, Carmela's Cucina.Italian Zuppa Englese. It is fast and easy to prepare. Make it early in the day and then go for that pontoon ride, fish with your husband or participate in that patriotic parade, knowing that you have something yummy in your fridge to offer your guests after the fireworks!

This recipe and other wonderful and easy Italian recipes are available in my cook book, Carmela's Cucina. To order one go to I will be happy to sign and personalize a copy for you and then mail it to your home. All of the recipes come from my culinary classes, food and wine tours or from the family restaurant, The Latin King in Des Moines, Iowa and of course includes the recipes of 3 generations of great Italian cooks.

Buon appetito e buon 4th of July,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins


1 large pound cake, angle food cake, or 2 packages of lady fingers
1-3 ounce package instant French vanilla pudding
1 pint whipping cream
4 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
1 cup raspberry preserves
1/2 pint each fresh raspberries and blueberries to decorate the top of the Zuppa Inglese

Cut the pound cake or angel food cake into cubes. Leave the Lady fingers whole. Prepare the pudding according to package directions and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.

To assemble, place half of the cake in a trifle or clear glass bowl and sprinkle with half of the Amaretto. Spread 1/2 cup of the raspberry preserves over the ckae, allowing some to dribble down the sides. Pour 1/2 of the pudding over the preserves. Spread 1/2 of the whipped cream over the pudding. Repeat the layers ending with the whipped cream. Decorate the top of the Zuppa Inglese with the fresh fruit.

****This dessert is best made in a trifle bowl or clear glass bowl.****

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,

The St. Paul Times in their "food magazine" did an article today on culinary tours and I was featured. To read the story, see the pictures and learn more about my culinary tours go to: and click on the LIFE LINK then click on D'LISH. It is a fun story and even more fun to be recognized.

And I still have 5 remaining spots on my culinary tour to Calabria for the fall. Contact me if you would like to join this fun group.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Friday, May 14, 2010


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,

When my son Patrick and daughter-in-law Jeannie asked me to join them and my new grand-daughter Lilly for a vacation on Siesta Key's I jumped at the chance. Patrick attended a medical conference and I was asked to help Jeannie with the baby while he was away each day.

What happened in Siesta Key's was fun, fun, fun. Not only did I get to spend a wonderful amount of time with my new grand-daughter I was also able to play in the pool with her every day as the temperature was nearly 90 degrees daily. The pool was like being in a warm tub and Lilly and Nonna loved it. We each even got a little sun-tan.

The beach at Siesta Key's is beautiful. White flour like sand that stretches for miles, the blue green surf was warm and gentle and perfect for a beach walk every morning to off-set all of the extra meals I took in last week.

Every restaurant that we ate in was super casual and most had live entertainment as well. Among my favorites were the Broken Egg for breakfast, which was packed every morning. The Old Salty Dog for their hot dogs and The Siesta Key's Oyster Bar better known as S.K.O.B. for raw oysters and Corona's. And if you have a sweet tooth make sure and make a stop at Big Olaf's Creamery for ice cream for dessert and then walk down to the beach for a fabulous sun-set. Priceless!

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Friday, April 30, 2010



In the past three years Bob and I have been in two car accidents caused by distracted drivers. Both accidents were the fault of other drivers busy doing other things while driving. In the first accident we rolled over at least 3 times and are car was a total loss. Our seat belts saved our lives. The second accident occurred last Easter weekend in Des Moines, Teddy and Brian were with us when a driver ran a red light and plowed right into us. We are lucky to be alive.

Go to and sign the pledge to not text and talk on your cellphone while driving.

The life you save may be your own.

I write this because I love each and everyone one of you and want you to live happy, long lives.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Thursday, April 29, 2010



The Cinque Terre is five hilltop towns connected by a footpath along the rocky coast of the breath-taking Italian Riviera. The seafood is abundant and the vegetables and fruits are all prize-winners. Imagine yourself at the famous hiking trail as you learn to create the wonderful dishes characteristic of the area.

We will make Portobello Mushroom Crostini, Creamy Pesto Pasta, Jumbo Shrimp Marinated with Olive Oil and Herbs and Torta di Limone, a lemon cake served with spring fruit and topped with a whipped cream flourish.

To register for this class go to or phone 952-988-4070.

I hope to see you there.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,

On our recent culinary tour to Savannah, Ga. we spent one evening taking a cooking class at the Mansion's 700 Kitchen Cooking School. This culinary delight is overseen by Chef Darin Sehnert who is also the director of the school. He introduced us to the tastes and flavors of the Low Country. At the end of the evening we all knew a lot more about this unique culture and cuisine and enjoyed a wonderful meal as well.

The meal included: Cheddar and Chive Biscuits,Black Eyed Pea Salad,
Shrimp and Red Eye Gravy,Rich and Creamy Grits, Fried Green Tomatoes and Pecan Praline Angel Food Cake. YUM!



1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients except olive oil in a small bowl. Whisk to blend and dissolve salt. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle olive oil until blended. Set aside while preparing salad.


2 15 ounce cans black-eyed peas
1 medium red onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1/2 medium green pepper, finely diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes split in half length-wise
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

Combine all ingredients in a 3-quart bowl. Stir to mix well. Pour dressing over salad and toss to thoroughly combine and coat the salad. Refrigerate several hours or over night.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,

On our recent culinary tour to Savannah, Ga. my clients and I had a chance to eat at the Olde Pink House on Reynold's Square. ( 23 Abercorn Street, 912-232-4286, It is an 18th century mansion open nightly for dinner and on Tues.-Sat. for lunch. Our tour guide Tara pre-ordered our dinner and she did an excellent job of selecting a perfect menu for us to begin our tour of Savannah.
Our first course was a beautiful salad of Bib lettuce roasted pistachios and a round of perfectly fried, warm and creamy goat cheese.

There were several main courses to choose from. But I remembered that on a visit to Charleston several years ago I really enjoyed the Scored Flounder and that is what I went with this time as well. As you can see, the whole flounder is presented, scored and served with a delicious apricot sauce, creamy grits and sauteed collard greens. When I was done the only thing left was the carcase of the fish. The waitress gave us a short demonstration of how to eat the flounder, by placing your fork under each square of fish and lightly scooping the flesh onto your fork. It was perfect.
And for dessert I choose the praline basket with vanilla bean ice cream, mango sauce and berries. I have to say I left The Olde Pink House "in the pink".

Wednesday, April 7, 2010



The deadline for my culinary tours to Italy for this Fall has been extended to April 31, 2010.

If you are interested in food and wine and seeing the historical sites of Italy then this tour might be just for you. For all of the tour information go to and click on the tours page. Then contact me to make your reservations.

Calabria: Sept. 4-11, 2010
Tuscany: Sept. 18-25 2010

Hope you will join me for an experience of a life time.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Monday, April 5, 2010

Savannah, Ga. 2010


Recently I led a culinary tour to Savannah, Ga. I will be posting several entries about our trip to that beautiful southern city. Be watching this site for tips on where to stay, where to visit, when to go, where to eat and what to do. And even some recipes will be offered in later postings.

There were 14 in our tour group which was led by Tales of the South Tour Guide Tara Simmons. Tara and I worked together for months to put together a really remarkable tour to Savannah. The tour was planned around Savannah's Home and Garden Tour and around culinary classes and their Low Country Cooking.

I want to start off this blog entry though on the hotel where we stayed, which was the Planter's Inn on Reynold's Square in the heart of the historic district. 29 Abercorn Street on Reynolds Square 1-800-554-1187.

The rooms are decorated in period furniture and are spacious and elegant. A wonderful breakfast is served each morning in a cheery dining room by an excellent and competent staff. It is buffet style and they serve food that is typical to the area, grits, biscuits with egg and ham and plenty of fresh fruit, sweet rolls, french toast and juices as well as coffee and tea.

In the late afternoon, in the gracious lobby The Planter's Inn offers wine and cheese while you can enjoy lovely piano music played by a very talented pianist that will honor your requests. And just as you come home from your evening out you will find in the hotel lobby a warm platter of freshly baked cookies to take to your room for a mid-night snack.

The hotel offers a turn down service each evening. I would come back to my room which had been fluffed up by a staff person and enjoyed my warm cookie and sweet mints left on on my pillow and dream about my wonderful day in the Belle of the South.

Join me on tour next year to Savannah and you can enjoy all of the same sweet amenities.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,

My mother-in-law, Margaret Hobbins, gave me this Good Friday Novena many years ago. Our family prays it every year. I would like to share it with you, our friends.


Say this prayer 33 times between Noon and 3:00 p.m. on Good Friday.

Also pray the rosary during this time for world peace.

I hope you and your family have a blessed Easter

Buona Pasqua (Happy Easter)

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,

Are you looking for a very exciting adventure in Italy in the near future? Why not join me for one of my culinary tours this fall. The focus is great food, wonderful wine and a ton of fun. Throw in a few cooking classes, fantastic sights wonderful villas and hotels to call home and it makes for a perfect vacation. And we take care of all of the details for you. All you have to do is show up.

For all of the details on my Tuscan and Calabrian tours just go to my website at and click on the tours link. Then just contact me and reserve your spot. But don't wait too long the deadline for the tours is March31, 2010 to allow plenty of time for us to make our airline arrangements.

Calabria: Sept.4-11, 2010

Tuscany Sept. 18-25, 2010

buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Friday, March 5, 2010


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,

I am sorry that I have not written in such a long time. My Father was very ill and passed away on Feb. 17, 2010. I have been in Des Moines helping with his care and for his funeral. My Father was an amazing man, had a wonderful life and we were able to celebrate his life grandly. We will miss him everyday of our lives. I want to thank all of the many friends and family who have helped us through this difficult time.

Life goes on and Dad would want us to live life to the fullest. After taking some time to get back on my feet I am ready to take on the demands of my culinary business, Carmela's Cucina. Thank you for your patience and I hope to be able to write to you more frequently in the future.

One of the first things that I will be doing is appearing on SHOW CASE MINNESOTA on Tue. March 9, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. I will be demonstrating a Ricotta Pie (torta di ricotta) which is a special spring time luncheon item in Italy. It would be perfect for Easter Brunch. Please tune in and watch the show.

I will also be talking about my culinary tours to Italy this fall and about the information session that I will be holding on Sat. March 13, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. If you would like to attend this session please phone me at 952-929-9583 or email me at to make a reservation for this event.

I hope to see you soon.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Monday, February 1, 2010



I had a really big food and wine weekend and enjoyed every minute of it. Yesterday my husband and I met friends for a long and relaxing brunch at Jimmy's Food and Cocktails at 1000 Red Circle Drive in Minnetonka, Mn. 55343. 952-224-5858.

Enjoying brunch on a late Sunday morning after Mass has become one of my favorite things to do. Not only is it relaxing and a great way to connect with friends, but it usually means I don't have to cook a big dinner. This does not happen often though as I usually have my family together on Sunday evenings.

I had not been out to Jimmy's in about 2 years and never for brunch, the dining room is rich and handsome, bright and feels very up-scale and casual. The wait staff is very attentive and friendly. They serve the usual menu of eggs, pancakes, waffles and a large assortment of eggs Benedict. Among them a smoked salmon, California and crab, I chose the crab eggs Benedict.

My choice was made with a lump crab cake and nicely poached egg, the Hollandaise sauce was good, there just should have been more. The breakfasts are served with delicious looking cheddar breakfast potatoes, but I opted for more fruit as I am watching my calories and I thought the eggs Benedict had enough calories for one meal.

All in all it was a great experience. You might want to consider Jimmy's for Valentine's Day since it falls on a Sunday this year.

Hope you like Jimmy's too.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Thursday, January 28, 2010




4925 Highway 7 St. Louis Park, MN. 55416

7:00 to 8:30

Do you or someone you know love chocolate? Crave chocolate? Need to have chocolate every day? Then this is the class for you. In this class you will enjoy all things chocolate and you will learn to make a number of items you will want to try for yourself to make your Valentine's Day special or any time of year.

We will make:






Buon appeito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Monday, January 25, 2010



It is 65 degrees and sunny in Savannah, Ga. Get away from this long, cold and snowing winter and join Carmela's Cucina as she travels to this warm city for a culinary and home and garden tour.

Join us for a sumptuous, savory and simply irresistible tour of historic Savannah, Ga. March 25-29, 2010.

The tour includes 4 nights accommodations at the Planter's Inn on Reynold's Square, baggage handling, breakfast each morning and wine and cheese each evening. Escorted transportation for all planned events not in walking distance of the hotel and driver gratuities. Licensed professional guides. All tour entrance fees and select tour of homes tickets, 2 cooking classes, all breakfasts, 2 lunches and 3 dinners. Tales of the South staff at all planned events and so much more. And even a Paula Deen Tour.

For more information go to my web site at and see the full schedule of events. Click on the tours link and then on Savannah. Contact me at to make a reservation.

I hope to see you in warm, sunny Savannah in March.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,

Let me first say how sorry I am for being away from my blogging for such a long time. Between, the holidays, company and travel and vacations there just has not been enough hours in the day to get it all done. But I do hope to be back at it more regularly.

Last Friday, Bob and I took a ride out to Minnetonka to check out Spasso for lunch. Friends had told me about it and the wine shop next door. Same owners, with a great concept. Spasso has a great wine shop, with wines from all over the world. And the best thing is that you can buy a bottle of wine in the wine store and take it next door to the restaurant and they will open it for no extra charge. A great savings and a wonderful idea.

I was happy to see that they do carry the wine that my cousins make in Ciro in the area of Calabria in Italy. It is there lowest end wine, but it was good to see it on the shelf and if you are looking for something not to expensive and want to try a red from the southern part of Italy, then the LiBrandi Ciro Rosso may be a bottle that you want to try. I am hoping that in the future they might carry some of their higher end wines, but availability is the problem.

After looking over the stock in the wine store and buying a few bottles Bob and I made our way over to the restaurant. Since it was Friday afternoon, they were fairly busy. Spasso is a large restaurant with hard floors and high ceilings so it was also pretty noisy. They have a great bar area and one of the things that caught my eye was a flight of 3 wines for $15.95, which is a good deal considering their extensive wine menu. But since we had a list to finish off the length of my arm we skipped the wine and ordered lunch and soft drinks.

In the back of the room is a beautiful wood-burning oven, which I am sure produces some beautiful pizzas, but since I am trying to loose a few, I skipped that too. Their lunch menu is mostly soups, salads, pasta and pizzas. The best value is their mix and match lunch for ten bucks and that is what I settled on. I enjoyed their Sausage and Bean Soup and the Chop Chop Salad which is one of their house specialties. The soup was robust and chunky with lots of sausage and beans and quite filling. I was expecting a half salad, but the portion was quite large and flavorful, lots of meat, cheese, olives and fresh, crisp salad greens. I wish that the dressing had a bit more zip to it, but all in all it was a great lunch and you can't beat the price.

If you are in the area, I would suggest that you first go and find yourself several bottles of wine, one to drink at the table the others to take back home and then go next door for a cozy little lunch and ask for a booth.

At the wine shop make sure and tell them that "Carmela sent you."

Buon appetito e Salute,