La Raccolta— Blog

La Raccolta — Blog of CASAGIOVE

The CASAGIOVE blog– a collection of stories, updates, recipes, special events and more! 

The freshest…

Cote Sud, Dec2001-Jan2002, truffle 1

Truffle Bruschetta

a guest post by LeAnn Brown of l&l – {}

ON A SIX-WEEK STAY IN TUSCANY and while making my way through several recipe books in the cucina of my wee appartamento, I came across the English edition of “How to Make Bruschette.”  It is a small, paperback book unremarkable in its appearance, but with many variations on Bruschette and Crostoni.*

I have enjoyed making a number of the simple recipes it contains, but I find the translation of the accompanying commentary to be the most charming aspect of this little book.  The Italian passion for time-honored traditions —in all aspects of the gastronomic experience— is clearly evident in its pages…resulting in such phrases as:


“Bruschetta with truffle is a real delicacy and will certainly make your guests enthusiastic.”

(I don’t know about you, but enthusiastic dinner guests will always be welcome in my home!)


And here’s another favorite of mine:


“Don’t use oil too sparingly and if you find it necessary, add more than the suggested spoonful.  If some sauce remains in the plate, you will find it pleasant for bread dipping.”

(Oh, okay.  If I must.)


My daughter and I share an affinity for Italy and count many dear friends there.  One aspect of the Italian culture we admire most is their dedication and attention to detail in preparing even the most simple of dishes.  Great care is taken to collect fresh, quality ingredients and absolutely nothing is rushed:  from the shopping — to the preparation — to the enjoyment of every morsel surrounded by family and friends.

This respectful, —even meditative— approach to the preparation and consumption of their food undoubtedly explains why Italians can partake of such indulgent-sounding concoctions as “Bruschetta with Pancetta” and “Crostone with Formaggio and Olives.” —all the while looking fabulous in their Dolce and Gabbana skinny jeans.  

So I say,  “Down with dieting!  —Let’s just Be Italian!”

Che ne pensate?! 



1 Slice Bread

1 Small Black Truffle

2 Anchovies

Juice of 1/2 Lemon

1 Tablespoon Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Clean and wash the truffle thoroughly, then grate as much as needed (it depends on the quality of the truffle) into a pan, with a little oil, warm up and leave on the flame for a few instants.  Then add the chopped up anchovy fillets together with the lemon juice, and mix thoroughly.  Finally, toast the slice of bread and spread it with the mixture.  

Buon Appetito!


Bruschette page 97

How to Make Bruschette
from page 7:

Bread, What a Goodness!
*Bruschetta  (garlic bread) and crostone (large crouton), typical of Central Italy, but very widespread beyond its own borders, easily prepared, genuine and appetizing, may be served as starters but, if you are willing to enrich them with other ingredients, they may be served without doubt, as a first or even second course.

Even though it is true that the traditional preparation is based on oil, salt, garlic, some country cheese or vegetables, there are also many ways of creating the most unusual variants.  It is just according to these possibilities that we will accompany you through the following pages, which I hope will be neither boring nor burdensome.  —excerpt from the book: How to Make Bruschette.

Photo credits in order of appearance:  1-Cote Sud, Dec2001-Jan2002; 2-How to make Bruschette, page 97


This post is part of a story collective where authors share their favorite Italian memories and recipes. Be sure to check out the post from CASAGIOVE’s own, Patricia… Inviting Bruschetta:

baby heirloom tomatoes and celery make an Inviting Bruschetta

[excerpt] Italians have a way with food and words. They are intentional about the details of each ingredient they choose and each word they use.  I think it’s because Italians are always looking for ways to invite you to their tables, into their families, and ultimately into…

Un posto a tavola… A place at my table

late winter 2016

Favorite Dinners

The warm weather is on its way, but it’s not here yet… my body is still craving warm, hearty dishes.  My husband and boys are craving that too – especially after a long swim practice. These straight out of the oven dinners are just what they need. These two dishes are full of flavor, so simple to make and fill our home with the best smell!  I love that they fit in one pot and look so pretty on our table.  And the way the boys soak up the juices with a piece of crusty warm baguette really makes me smile.

Garlic Roasted Chicken

This recipe from Food Network is fantastic. It only requires a few ingredients and is ready in under an hour. The key is to use high quality chicken with skin-on and bone-in. So many recipes today use boneless, skinless breast which basically takes away all the flavor. So, I opt for the opposite and since Matthew and Bert prefer white meat, while Ben and I like dark meat, I use a combination of breast, leg and thigh meat. Also, I substitute white wine for the vinegar and water…and the sauce that results is delicious. 

Garlic Roasted Chicken about to go into the oven to finish cooking
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Garlic-Roasted Chicken with Wine Reduction

This recipe is fantastic. It only requires a few ingredients and is ready in under an hour. This one pot dish is full of flavor, hearty and comforting. And the way the boys soak up the juices with a piece of crusty warm baguette really makes me smile.

Course Main Course
Servings 4 people
Author Adapted from Food Network by Patricia for CASAGIOVE


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
  • 4-5 pounds chicken breasts and thighs skin-on and bone-in
  • kosher salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 heads garlic
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 baguette sliced
  • 1 cup white wine


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook, skin-side down, until browned, about 10 minutes.

  2. Separate the heads of garlic into cloves but do not peel. Flip the chicken; add the garlic and rosemary to the skillet and transfer to the oven. Roast until the chicken is cooked through but still moist, approximately 30 more minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check done-ness.

  3. Remove chicken from skillet while you make sauce. Add the wine to the skillet and scrape up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Allow the wine to reduce Add the chicken back to the skillet and pour the sauce and garlic over the chicken. Serve with the baguette slices.

  4. You can squeeze the garlic out of its skin and spread on the chicken or bread.

Recipe Notes

© 2017 CASAGIOVE California,

Chicken with Tomatoes and Capers

I recently found this recipe and it became an instant favorite. The first time I made this, Bert and the boys walked in the door and immediately asked, “What smells so good? Wait… What are we having for dinner?” Again, I use high quality skin-on and bone-in chicken and mix in both white and dark meat. Also, once I add in the tomatoes, capers and tarragon (note: a little tarragon goes a long way), I put the the cast-iron pot of chicken in a 325 degree oven for about 45 minutes to finish cooking.

Recipe from NY Times

Chicken with Tomatoes and Capers ready to be served


Favorite Salad

Insalata di Arancia

I love oranges, especially blood oranges and the cara cara variety. Before they go out of season, I try to eat as many as I can. This refreshing salad highlights their sweetness and juiciness, while bringing out some of their savory qualities too. All I do is peel the orange and separate the sections (sometimes I cut the sections in half), add a little diced red onion, drizzle a high quality extra virgin olive oil (like ours!) over the top, and then sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt and a tiny bit of fresh tarragon. It’s incredibly tasty and so unique!

Orange Salad by Patricia for Casagiove

Orange Salad with red onion, tarragon, olive oil and salt


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Insalata di Arancia

I love oranges, especially blood oranges and the cara cara variety. Before they go out of season, I try to eat as many as I can. This refreshing salad highlights their sweetness and juiciness, while bringing out some of their savory qualities too.
Course Salad
Author Patricia from CASAGIOVE


  • cara cara oranges
  • a little red onion diced
  • olive oil extra virgin
  • kosher salt to taste
  • a little tarragon chopped fine


  1. Peel the orange and separate the sections (sometimes I cut the sections in half). 

  2. Add a little diced red onion and drizzle a high quality extra virgin olive oil over the top.

  3. Lastly, season with kosher salt and a tiny bit of fresh tarragon.

Recipe Notes

© 2017 CASAGIOVE California,


Favorite Lunch Spot

Angelina’s Pizzeria in Dana Point

For Bert’s birthday, he requested lunch out so we planned a special date day. After having been to Angelina’s Pizzeria Napoletana recently with Alex and loving it, I knew it would be the perfect spot for lunch. Not only does it taste like you are in Napoli, but while you are there, you’ll also feel like you are in Napoli too. We ordered two pizzas to share, the Marinara with Sicilian oregano and San Marzano pomodoro sauce and the Diavola with Napoletana style salame, fior di latte mozzarella, San Marzano pomodoro sauce, basil and pepperoncini oil, along with two Morettis. So delicious!


Favorite New Product


I just finished my first jar of Pistacchiosa, a delightfully unique Sicilian pistachio spread. All it took was opening the jar and I was in love.

Pistacchiosa is a creamy spread made with pistachios and olive oil. Think of it like an Italian version of peanut butter, a really special peanut butter. It’s a little salty, with just a touch of sweet. It has a smooth texture, a lot of flavor and makes anything it’s added to better. It’s light enough to enjoy any time of the day, and just the right amount of decadent to make that time of day more special. My family and I have tried it on Bay’s English muffins for a perfect start to our day, topped sliced bananas with it for a satisfying snack and even used it as frosting on chocolate cupcakes for a simple, yet delicious dessert.

I have been thinking of more ways to use it as I prepare to buy my next jar… I can’t wait to spread some on top of my pancakes or on a slice of crusty baguette, to drizzle it over a freshly baked cake or a scoop of ice cream, to swirl it into my coffee, to bake it into cookies, and to serve is as a dip for sliced apples… the possibilities are endless!

Use Pistacchiosa Pistachio Spread as an alternative to icing on cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes with Pistacchiosa


Favorite New Resource

Here is a great resource to help you know what’s in season.  Using produce that is in season makes all the difference. 



Cin Cin!



my word for 2016 is present, CASAGIOVE

My word for 2016 is PRESENT

I am constantly learning from my students. They continue to inspire me long after our time in the classroom together. Recently, one of my former students shared something that prompted me to choose a word to define my new year. It seemed so simple — a word. Not a list of to do’s, not a complicated resolution, not even a list of don’ts… just a word to define my year. Simple. That’s all I needed to bite. I could surely come up with one word! It didn’t take long for my word to come to me:


My word for 2016 is present.


My first thought was to be present. As most Italian mammas, I tend to worry. Something that I try to fight against. I know worrying is destructive. When I am in the present, giving my full attention to the people and tasks in that moment, there is no room for worrying about the future, nor is there room for pining over the past. I am just left to do my best in that moment and that I can handle. Actually, what’s beautiful about that is that not only can I handle that, but I can actually enjoy it too! So, yes, the word present seemed just right for big ol’ “worry wort” me.


And at the same time, it’s not just about me being present, it’s also remembering that I am always in the presence of God. He is with me wherever I go and remembering that I am in His presence, gives me comfort and confidence in each moment. His faithfulness assures me that there isn’t anything to fear.


I continued to brainstorm… a present. When I live my life in the present, I can be a gift to others. Not only can I can be blessed by people and experiences but I can also BE a blessing to others. I can produce, remember, offer, serve, provide, deliver, surrender… I can incorporate all these aspects of the word present.


Even in Italian, the words kept flowing… il presente (the present) un presente (a gift), la presenza (presence), essere presente (to be present), presentarsi (to show up, present oneself)… there was so much meaning wrapped up in this one word and it connected to all parts of who I want to be. Applying it has become a beautiful way to start my new year. As I find my thoughts drifting to concerns of what will happen next, I simply remember my word and it brings me back to the present — to that one next thing that I can do in that moment and I am instantly thankful and able to take the next step that presents itself (no pun intended).


One way I can be intentional about being present is coming together for family dinners. Each night, we take time to meet at our table and to share so much more than food. We take time to be thankful for the food and each other, and as we enjoy each bite, we can’t help but share the events of our day. Sometimes, we are silly, other times we are more serious. We share problems and we solve them. We laugh. In that moment, we stop and we savor. It’s a beautiful thing.


So, what is your word? And what are the possibilities?  
I can’t wait to hear!
Grazie for sharing!