Christmas Recipes

Christmas Recipes
Christmas Recipes

Italian Recipes

Italian Recipes
Italian Recipes

Dessert Recipes

Dessert Recipes
Dessert Recipes

Basic Sugar Cookie Dough Recipe


This is the basic sugar cookie dough recipe that we use every Christmas. It is a reliable sugar cookie dough and it is so easy to put together! I try to make something different every year, but this recipe is the first one that gets baked as soon as it's December 1st!

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Scuola del Cuoio (Leather School in Florence): Guest post by Nardia Plumridge


Scuola del Cuoio (Leather School in Florence):






Scuola del Cuoio (Leather School in Florence): a guest post by Nardia Plumridge

The area of Santa Croce is historically renowned for its leather making. Ancient tanneries used to line the streets on Via dei Conciatori (Tanners’ Street) and Corso dei Tintori (Dyers’ Street). Florence prides itself on tradition and for those wishing to learn about leather making, or if just after a quality handbag, Scuola Del Cuoio is the ideal place to visit.
Scuola del Cuoio (Leather School in Florence):



I first heard about Scuola Del Cuoio by word of mouth. Had I been to the leather school within the church grounds of Santa Croce? From the first time I entered, taking the discreet archway to the left of the church fa├žade, I was mesmerised. Following small signs around the church Apse I came to a quiet courtyard where artisans worked under exposed brick arches, carefully cutting coloured leather. Moving inside the main building, I was drawn into this magical world with an extraordinary history.





Created 64 years ago by Marcello Gori, Scuola Del Cuoio is still a family affair. Sisters Laura, Francesca and Barbara Gori all play a vital part in continuing the ethos of the school developed by their father. The Gori family have been Florentine leather makers for almost 100 years beginning with a store on via del Corso in 1932. In 1950, Mr Gori with his cousin Silvano Casini were invited by the Franciscan Friars of the Monastery of Santa Croce to teach a practical skill to orphans affected by World War II. Housed in what was once the home of trainee monks, the current workshop and showroom stand under wonderful 15th century arched ceilings complete with Renaissance frescos and the Medici coat of arms.

Today the school is still full of students, most travelling from all over the world to train under the Gori family’s guidance learning classic Florentine leather making skills. Everything you see is made by hand using traditional methods and original designs.



Handbags are central to the collection. Laura designs the classic style while Francesca makes one-of a-kind hand stitched bejewel bags. You can also create your own bespoke bag by working with Francesca on your creative idea. The store also sells tailored jackets, leather-bound notebooks and purses.







Free weekday tours of the school include a leather making demonstration, and longer technical visits (€14 hour) are also available. The school offers short half-day workshops as well as longer six-month courses for those wishing to embrace the techniques on offer. For more information or to reserve a tour, email here.


Find more of Nardia here:








Guest post: Nardia Plumridge

Photo credits: Raissa Damergi for Lost in Florence,

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Gift Guide for the Italy Lover

Gift Guide for the Italy Lover

If you have stumbled upon Savoring Italy, it is probably because you are an Italy Lover and you may be slightly obsessed with any thing Italy. That's ok! There is nothing to be ashamed of! You are not alone!!

I have put together this Gift Guide for the Italy Lover. Or better yet, for the Italy OBSESSED! A perfect gift guide for any Italy lover that you know (or for yourself!). Take the time to read through it. Just a note: I am not being sponsored by anyone to put this list together. These are simply things I'm obsessed with and wanted to share with you!!!

Let's start with my favorite time of the day: coffee time!


Did you know that 9 out of 10 Italian households own a Moka Express? The iconic object, which Luigi De Ponti helped develop for Bialetti, has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and the London Design Museum.

Read the story of who made the Moka Express.

Isn't it a beauty! The Bialetti 6800 Moka Express (6-cup). I honestly can't live without mine! Find it here. 



What espresso am I currently enjoying? Lavazza! Find it here.


Non posso vivere senza (I can't live without)...so true! Love this poster. Find it here.



I adore these upcycled espresso cups!! Find them here.


This design is crazy gorgeous! The designer says: "whiskey, and or espresso cup depending on your desired heart beats per minute."  Find it here:


Roma Food Strainer and Sauce Maker for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Once you make your own homemade sauce, you’ll never eat store bought again (there is nothing better than homemade sauce!)   Find it here .


You will surprise your Italy Obsessed special person in your life with this pasta maker. I recommend making your own pasta at least once a month (at least!). It's just the best! Find it here.



Now if you give them also the mason jars, you may inspire them to can some great homemade sauce to share with you! Find it here.


Your Italy Obsessed friend will need some pasta to go with all the homemade sauce they will be making. Here is one from Abruzzo.  Find it here.



Per la cucina:



This is perfetto for any Italy Obsessed person's cucina! Find it here.



I just love to browse Etsy!! For the Italy love that you know...this L'Italia, Ti Amo is fantastico! Handprinted in Maine. Various sizes and prices.


Per tutti gli obsessionati.

Keep Italy close to your Italy Obsessed friends' heart with this Rome map necklace! Find it here.




These Italy custom rubber address stamps are too cute! Find it here.


Are you going to Italy on your honeymoon? Love this idea! Find it here.



This Sicily poster is on my mind. It's really cool!!  Find it here.



Are you taking a trip to Italy? You will need something to jot down your memories in...like this super cute journal you can find here!


Feeling vintage? Love these vintage postcards from Italy. Find it here.



Need to brush up on your Italiano before heading over on that jet plane?



With the amount of Italy learning programs out there, it is hard to choose!!  Living Language Italian is the #1 seller on Amazon and there are brilliant reviews. The lessons take learners from beginning to advanced. Find it here.

Trying to figure out how to order at a restaurant or even need help with asking directions? This could be the perfect book to get you started parlando in Italiano!!



Per chi ama cucinare.

What to cook before and after you go on your trip:




Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Find it here.



If you are looking for spectacular recipes and incredible stories about Sicily, this is the book for you! The photography is stunning. I visited chef Pino Cuttaia at La Madia this summer. This book will bring you to Sicily when you turn every page. This book is in Italian.  Find it here.



Tuscany...oh, beautiful Tuscany! There aren't too many people I have met that don't swoon over Tuscany. I am so proud of my friend Giulia and her cookbooks. You can hear our chat here. This is one of Giulia's books and it is in Italian. Find it here.


 Speaking of Giulia and Tuscany, while you are there, you could book a cooking class with her.


You could buy Judy's book: Secrets from My Tuscan Kitchen. Find it here.




Per chi ama leggere.

What to read before and during your trip to ITALIA:

A book I hope to get under the tree! From the review, "The word "sprezzatura," or the art of effortless mastery, was coined in 1528 by Baldassare Castiglione in The Book of the Courtier. No one has demonstrated effortless mastery throughout history quite like the Italians." Sprezzatura: 50 Ways Italian Geniuses Shaped the World: find it here.


Another book I'm adding to my holiday wish list. Rick Zullo wrote a great review on Joseph Luzzi's book. From what I found on Amazon, "A poignant personal account from a child of Calabrian peasants whose lifelong study of Italy unveils the mysteries of this Bel Paese, “Beautiful Land,” where artistic genius and political corruption have gone hand in hand from the time of Michelangelo to The Sopranos."  Find it here.



La Bella Figure: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind. I have this book and really enjoyed it! Find it here.


A book I read a while back and really enjoyed.  I just found out it is part of a trilogy (two more books I have to catch up on!). By Elena Ferrante. Find it here.


What's it really like to live in Italy? I adore any of Tim Parks books...especially this one! Find it here.


Need inspiration to dive into the Italian language? Look no further...Dianne Hales book will have you sognando in Italiano (dreaming in Italian). Find it here.


Dream of Venice much? It is difficult not to dream of this magical place! My friend Joann worked very hard on this new project. Find it here.



Your first trip to Italy? Your head must be spinning with ideas of where you would like to visit. This book is fantastic! From my friend Susan Van Allen. Find it here.




You will visit the Eternal City. It is a place you can't miss! You could also book tours with Katie! A map of Rome is essential! Find it here.


You also will need a map of all of Italy. This is the bestselling map on Amazon. Find it here.



I hope you have fun looking through all of these links. I can't wait to hear from you on what you think should be added to our next guide! Regali fantastici per chi ama l'Italia per Natale e per tutto l'anno! {Fantastic gifts for those that love Italy for Christmas and for all year long!}

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Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary -December8th

Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

If you are in most places in the States, you will see Christmas decorations go up sometimes even on the day of Thanksgiving. In Italy, most people wait until December 8th to start the Christmas decorating and to put up their tree.

December 8th is a public holiday in Italy to celebrate the the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary  (L'Immacolata Concezione della Beata Vergine Maria).

A little history about this day:

"The Eastern Christian Church first celebrated a "Feast of the Conception of the Most Holy and All Pure Mother of God" on December 9, perhaps as early as the 5th century in Syria. The original title of the feast was more specifically on Saint Anne, terming it "Eullepsis tes hagias kai theoprometoros Annas" ("The Conception of Saint Anne, the ancestress of God"). By the 7th century, the feast was already widely known in the East. However, when the Eastern Church called Mary achrantos ("spotless" or "immaculate"), it did not define exactly what this meant."

The feast is celebrated throughout Italy in different ways. In Central and Southern Italy there are celebrations with bonfires on December 7th and 8th. The bonfires could signify different things: some may say the fires are lit to warm the Madonna, others may say it is also to get rid of human sins and to eradicate any negativity that would be remaining in the upcoming year. More importantly, it is a way to gather people to pray together.


Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary



Here is a video from 8 dicembre 2013 Processione dell'Immacolata Concezione Della Beata Vergine Maria from  Figlioli di Montoro (AV) -Avellino in the Campania region of Italy.


Info source: Wikipedia, Swide.

Photography source: Paper Blog: Photographer: Alessandro Castelli. Photographs taken in Syracuse, Sicily.
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Stollen Wreath - #TwelveLoaves


Stollen Wreath

It happens every year. It just sneaks up on me. This whole holiday madness. I swear after Halloween, every thing else becomes a blur until it's January 1st. It's so nice to relax and bake a gorgeous bread like this stollen wreath!!

I have a list of things I want to bake for the holidays. There are candies and cakes and gift ideas to bake. But first, I must tackle holiday breads that have caught my eye or have me inspired.

I found a stollen wreath in the holiday issue of Baking Heaven. I am a sucker for stollens. I have shared a couple here already:

Christmas Stollen 

Daring Baking’s Challenge: Christmas Stollen

Here are some other holiday bread inspirations:

Holiday Breakfast Wreath (very similar to this bread recipe I'm sharing today)

Pandolce Genovese

Finnish Pulla

and my Bundt Panettone (ok, it’s not the traditional panettone…but it was wonderful and fun in a bundt pan!)


Stollen Wreath

All of this talk about holiday breads is leading us to our latest #TwelveLoaves bread baking challenge...Holiday Breads!


Stollen Wreath


#TwelveLoaves is a monthly bread baking party created by Lora from Cake Duchess and run with the help of Heather of girlichef, which operates smoothly with the help of our bakers.

Our host this month is Liz from That Skinny Chick Can Bake, and our theme is Holiday Breads.

Stollen Wreath


Stollen Wreath




Stollen Wreath
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup whole milk
  2. 1 (1/2 ounce) envelope active dry yeast
  3. 1/4 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
  4. 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  7. 4 1/2-5 cups all-purpose flour
  8. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  9. For the filling:
  10. 4 Tablespoons butter, melted
  11. 1/2 cup raisins
  12. 1/2 cup golden raisins
  13. 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  14. 1/2 cup brandy or other liqueur
  15. 1/4 cup almond pastry filling
  16. 4 Tablespoons sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  17. 1/2 cup almond slivers

Instructions
  1. Place the dried fruits in a small bowl with the brandy; set aside.
  2. For the dough-
  3. Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and let stand until cooled to room temperature. Meanwhile, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in a large bowl.
  4. Add 1 Tablespoon of the sugar and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the remaining 2 Tablespoons of sugar, eggs and butter. Beat in cooled milk. Gradually add the flour and salt, scraping down side of bowl, until a soft dough forms.
  5. Turn dough onto a floured work surface and knead the remaining flour into the dough, adding more flour if too sticky. Knead for about 10 minutes until smooth. The dough will be soft.
  6. Grease a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  8. Drain the dried fruits from the liqueur; set aside.
  9. Punch down the dough.
  10. Dump the dough out onto a floured surface, roll the dough into a 9- by 30-inch rectangle.
  11. Brush dough with 1/2 of melted butter. Spread the almond pastry filling in the middle. Sprinkle on the dried fruits and cinnamon-sugar.
  12. Brush the borders with water. Tightly roll the dough into log, rolling toward the clean border; pinch the seam to seal.
  13. Place roll seam-side down on the baking sheet. Cut the log in half lengthwise with a chef's knife.
  14. Twist the two halves together, crossing one over the other a few times. Pinch the end together, then tuck both pinched ends under the loaf slightly. From the twists into a wreath.
  15. Cover the wreath loosely with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until plump, 30 minutes.
  16. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  17. Uncover the wreath and brush with melted butter.
  18. Toss on the almond slivers.
  19. Bake the bread, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until golden brown (a thermometer inserted into the middle should register 170 degrees F to 175 degrees F), 30 to 35 minutes.
  20. If you have any butter left, brush some on the bread hot out of the oven and sprinkle on more cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  21. Carefully transfer the wreath to a serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar...enjoy!!
  22. *This can be prepared 2 days ahead of time (if you can resist eating it!). After baking wreath, cool completely and wrap it tightly and carefully in foil paper. Store at room temperature then re-heat at 350° for 10-15 minutes.





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