Cooking Italy


I’ve already introduced you to Angela Of Spinach Tiger.  Well, she recently started a cooking group I couldn’t resist!  Cooking Italy is a group that will have us plowing through Marcella Hazan’s The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.  Angela will be hosting and assigning us four recipes a month until we are done with the 700-page tome.  Please do check the Cooking Italy site, as there are some great food bloggers participating.  I feel like an outsider, being a jewelry blogger, but eager to learn!

In between the jewelry posts, I will be writing a critique of at least two of the recipes, each month.  I am looking forward to making and comparing the recipe experiences with other members of Cooking Italy and to sharing the results with you, here!

Our first recipe is Tomato Bruschetta.  I made the recipe and learned a few things along the way.

Recipe for Bruschetta with Tomato (adapted from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classical Italian Cooking)

6 garlic cloves
12 slices good, thick crusted bread, 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick, 3-4″ wide
8 fresh, ripe tomatoes, cut in half, seeded, and chopped into 1/2″ cubes
8-12 basil leaves , torn into small pieces – or oregano
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper

  • Chop tomatoes right before you are going to grill bread.
  • Grill or broil bread to golden brown.
  • Smash garlic with a knife, rub on bread once it is toasted.
  • Top with tomatoes, basil (or oregano), and drizzle olive oil.
  • Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately
  1. Make sure the bread is golden brown.  I toasted the bread instead of grilling it and some of the slices were paler.  After the addition of chopped tomatoes and olive oil, those slices were slightly – I don’t want to say soggy – but not as crunchy as I thought they should be.  The final texture of the golden brown slices was more pleasing.  Next time I have the oven or the outdoor grill on for something else, I will try grilling the bread, although I think toasting was an adequate substitution.
  2. Marcella also calls for smashing the garlic cloves, removing the skin and rubbing the cloves on the grilled bread.  Next time, I will not smash them quite so much, as the garlic disintegrated in my hands as I rubbed it on the toast.  I think the crisp toast almost acts as a grater and enough garlic will be lodged in the nooks and crannies just by rubbing a whole clove on it.
  3. The tomatoes should be farm fresh.  Our locals aren’t quite there yet, so I used the best quality tomatoes from the supermarket.  Although I cut the tomatoes up into small cubes, as directed, next time I will try for even smaller bits, as that would make it easier to eat.
  4. My mom gifted me with a three-liter jug of prize winning extra virgin olive oil that she hand carried from France – oil produced in a small co-op olive press that my cousins belong to.  I don’t have much left and use it only when I know it will make a difference in the final flavor.  This recipe demanded it.  If you want to learn more about olive oil, check Vicki’s post on olive oil.
Tomato Bruschetta

Tomato Bruschetta

This simple recipe with basic ingredients got unanimous rave reviews from my family.  They are all looking forward to more Cooking Italy.   Oh and check Angela’s post if you want a well-styled photo – my passion is jewelry – but hers is food!  Thanks so much Angela, for putting together Cooking Italy.

5 Responses to Cooking Italy

  1. Angela@spinachtiger July 7, 2009 at 7:05 am #

    Congratulations Maria on your first foodie post. I’m envious of that olive oil. And, you are so right, there is a time that it is imperative to have the very best oil to finish off the dish. Great job explaining everything.

  2. Kayte July 7, 2009 at 6:46 am #

    Oh, this looks just great…I like how you styled it on the long bread board, that looks so nice with the colors of the bruschetta. Beautiful job!

  3. Melissa Clifford July 7, 2009 at 4:00 pm #

    Maria, great job! Love your layout in your picture. I’m really bad at food styling but am hoping our future meals will give me some practice. Or maybe I’m just in the need to shop for food dishes 🙂 Great post!

  4. dee July 8, 2009 at 5:04 pm #

    Yummmmm, that looks absolutely wonderful!! I love Bruschetta and with everything so fresh, I’m sure it tastes great!! I’m bookmarking this post for my next gathering…thanks for sharing.

  5. Maria July 10, 2009 at 9:17 pm #

    Thanks everyone! I’m excited to be participating in Cooking Italy – but not as much as my family is! LOL