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.*****