Welcome to my kitchen

Americans are crazy about Italian food! For years the western world was seduced by not only its appetizing medley of aromas, tastes, colors and textures but also by the “dolce vita” life style that it suggested. Now as the trend toward eating the Mediterranean diet escalates, Italian food is doubly appealing for its healthful use of olive oil, vegetables, grains, fish, cheese, fruit and wine. But Italy doesn’t have a stereotyped national cuisine. It is instead a very diversified, delightful cuisine reflecting the ever-changing landscape that varies from region to region and town to town. Italian food is also about using the freshest natural ingredients, prepared in a simple fashion to be shared with friends and family.

In this column I will share with you information about food staples and ingredients from the Italian pantry that are the fundamental building blocks of Italian cuisine along with some simple basic recipes. While preparing these dishes, I hope that you can relive memories of growing up in an Italian household or you might just feel like an Italian as you bring the aromas, tastes and spirit of Italy as close to your own kitchen. Along the way I also look forward to bringing you some brief essays on Italian food traditions, the ins-and-outs of Italian eating habits, and the role mealtimes play in the Italian life. There’s also certainly sure to be some musing about my individual pursuit of good honest Italian food.

The kitchen is the soul of the Italian home, welcome to my kitchen! – Michele Topor

Sorbetto di Lampone

In a hurry for a quick frozen treat? This recipe can be adapted to any combination of fruits or berries without using an ice cream machine.

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If we were actually in Italy, Venice to be exact, we would probably be indulging in a Sgroppino - a lemon-flavored icy-smooth, frothy glass of alcoholic bliss. First served in 16th century aristocratic Ventian homes in the sultry summer months, a Sgroppin, as it is known in Venetian dialect, played

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The Zuccotto, one of the richest and most famous Italian desserts can be found in any cafe and pasticceria in Tuscany. Although it probably derives its name because of its round melon shape (zucca - pumpkin, gourd) it seems inspired by the dome shape of Florence’s Duomo. Flavored, layered, whip

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Granita di Caffé

There is no better way to spend a lazy hot summer morning (or afternoon) than with an icy glass of granita di caffé con panna. In Sicily, where it originated, it is often served for breakfast with a sweet roll (briosca) for dipping into the granita. In the afternoon, it makes the best pick-me-up!

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Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce

Having studied with Marcella Hazan on several occasions when she was teaching  in Bologna, I am very fortunate to be able to call her, my mentor in Italian food culture. Since many tour participants ask about my favorite simple tomato sauce - here it is...and don't leave out the butter! It's very b

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