Thursday, February 27, 2014

Spaghetti Carbonara with Fried Sage Leaves

One of our favorites!
Spaghetti Carbonara with Fried Sage Leaves

Spaghetti Carbonara with Fried Sage Leaves
Spaghetti with Carbonara sauce is a special recipe, fast and flavorful. Please note that authentic Carbonara sauce does not contain cream!
Serves 4-6
Preparation time: 15 minutes; Cook time: 15 minutes
Available at *
1. In a big pot bring 1.5 gallons of water to a boil, salt the water (2 ounces of salt for 1.5 gallons of water) add the pasta and bring back to a boil. Lower the heat and cook the pasta until it is "al dente", 8 to 10 minutes, stir occasionally with a wooden spoon.
2. Put the grated Pecorino cheese in a large bowl and add the 5 egg yolks, the whole egg, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil , freshly ground black pepper, (to taste) and freshly grated nutmeg (to taste). Stir vigorously with a whisk.
3. While the pasta cooks, put the diced bacon in a frying pan with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, cook until the bacon is crisp.
4. When pasta is cooked, drain it and put it in a big bowl, add the egg mixture and stir well; then add the hot fried bacon, stir well. This all must be done quickly, the heat from the pasta and bacon cooks the eggs and melts the cheese.
5. Heat the olive oil to approximately 325 degrees; add sage leaves to hot oil and fry until crisp but not burnt. It will only take a few seconds.
6. Garnish with the sage leaves and chopped chives and serve immediately.

Friday, February 21, 2014

2014 DOGWOOD ARTS HOUSE & GARDEN SHOW:: Celebrating 36 Years

Dogwood Arts Festival's House & Garden Show
A beautiful Valentine gift
From February 14th through 16th, Dogwood Arts presented Knoxville and the region with a beautiful Valentine's gift… the House and Garden Show. The 36th annual Dogwood Arts House and Garden Show is one of the Southeast Tourism Society's Top 20 Events, as well as the largest annual fundraiser for the annual Dogwood Arts Festival. "The Dogwood Arts Festival takes place every April in Knoxville and celebrates our region's arts, culture, and natural beauty," says Dogwood Arts Marketing Manager, Erin Slocum.
Selfless acts of kindness
Presented by the Knoxville News Sentinel, the House and Garden Show relies on hundreds of volunteers who give many hours to bring this early celebration of spring to life. Co-chair Shanna Browning says, "A show of this magnitude simply cannot happen without the volunteers. I am more than grateful for their selfless acts of kindness to the people that come to the show."
An amazing array of displays, services and products
Scores of exhibitors (including Avanti Savoia) offer an amazing array of displays, services and products. Avanti's participation not only includes our booth where visitors can sample and purchase many of our unique products but, also the Avanti Savoia Cooking School. For the last 4 years La Cucina at Avanti Savoia has presented 13 cooking demonstrations over the 3 days of the festival in a beautiful demonstration kitchen provided by Pattersons Appliances.
Con un tocco!
Our demonstrations have always centered on Italian classics highlighting our products and the Italian philosophy of relaxed family dining. This year our theme was "Cucina classica Italian con un tocco!" or Classic Italian Cuisine with a Twist! Chefs Joseph and Karen offered step by step instructions on how to properly chop and prepare the ingredients, cook the sauce and boil your pasta. Then we added "un tocco" a modern twist to the classics. Our menu included Spaghetti Carbonara with Fried Sage Leaves, Porcini Tagliatelle with Alfredo Sauce and Wild Mushroom Medley and this year's standout dish, Farro Pilaf with Roasted Butternut Squash and Salt Block Seared Scallops Drizzled with Basil Infused Olive Oil.
A food staple of the Roman legions
Farro is an ancient cereal grain that was a food staple of the Roman legions. Pilafs are rice or other grains lightly browned in butter or oil and cooked in water or stock. In this recipe Farro is prepared in a pilaf style and combined with roasted squash, pancetta, grape tomatoes and savory flavors. Finally it is served topped with seared scallops and pickled onions. This is a recipe that is ancient and contemporary all at once. This baby was a Chef Karen creation that is spectacularly delicious but also elicited "oohs and ahs" from the crowd because of its gorgeous appearance.
Healthy, tasty and visually stunning
Chef Karen comments, "My inspiration for this dish was the idea of taking a very old grain (Farro) and cooking technique (pilaf) and to turn it into something healthy, tasty and visually stunning." The chef added a seasonal element (butternut squash), pungency (quick onion pickles) and the crowning glory of Salt block Seared Scallops. Chef Karen especially enjoys teaching the method of Salt Block Cooking and looks forward to sharing another variation next year.
Family and friends coming together to share the love of good food and each other
Although our stated intention was to inspire "your inner Italian chef", our philosophy can be stated very simply. The heart of cooking is all about family and friends coming together to share the love of good food and each other. Buon Appetito, Y'all!

Farro Pilaf with Roasted Butternut Squash and Salt Block Seared Scallops
Serves 6-8 - Preparation Time: 35 minutes - Cooking Time: 1 ½ hours
Available at *
Prepare the various components in the order listed for ease in assembling the pilaf.
Roasted Butternut Squash
Pre- heat oven to 350°
1. Peel and cut butternut into 1 inch cubes.
2. On a cookie sheet toss butternut with the olive oil and salt.
3. While the butternut squash is baking cook the Farro. Bake 45 minutes or until fork tender, do not allow it to become mushy. Remove from oven, transfer to a plate and set aside.
Since this particular Farro is pearled it will cook quicker.
1. Add olive oil to pot, bring to medium heat, and add Farro stirring to coat each grain.
2. Stir sea salt into hot water and add to pot.
3. Bring to a boil, cover and boil for 20 minutes. Turn the heat to low and cook for 10 more minutes. Pull off heat and let sit for 5 minutes and drain off excess water. Set aside until ready to use. While the Farro is cooking cook the Pancetta and the pickled onions.
Quick Pickled Onions
These pickles are good on just about anything!
1. Pour all ingredients in a small sauce pot, and set the heat to medium high.
2. Julienne onion, when the pickling liquid comes to a boil, add onion, and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes or more if you want softer pickles. Drain and set aside or refrigerate for other use.
Salt Block Cooked Scallops
Pre-heat the salt block
1. Combine all the ingredients, except scallops, in a glass bowl and set aside.
2. Pat the scallops dry, add to the bowl and gently toss to coat the scallops.
3. Pour a couple of tablespoons of olive oil on the paper towel pad and quickly wipe the top surface of the salt block with a light coat of oil. Be careful the salt block is VERY hot.
4. Place the scallops 1 ½ inches apart on the salt block and cook 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove from salt block and serve.
1. Cook the Pancetta until brown and crispy. Remove from pan, drain and set aside.
2. In the remaining grease add grape tomatoes, sauté for 1 minute, then add garlic sauté for an additional 2 minutes. Pour in the wine cook for 2 minutes, add Farro cook for 5 minutes. Gently fold in the roasted squash, cook for 3 minutes. Toss in parsley and pancetta, salt and pepper to taste, spoon pilaf onto serving platter.
3. Top with scallops, pickled onions, and drizzle with Basil infused olive oil and serve.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Chocolate Equals Love

 “Who, being loved, is poor?” ~Oscar Wilde 

Rather vague origins

Celebrating St. Valentine's Day is a familiar and widely recognized holiday in America, but one with rather vague origins. The holiday as we know it is primarily a western traditional, although many other global cultures have occasions in which romantic love is celebrated. The Roman Catholic Church recognizes at least three different Saints named Valentine, and stories and legends abound.
188 million Valentine cards
Apparently, greetings, love messages and other gifts (especially chocolates, flowers and jewelry) have been exchanged in Great Britain and the US for some 300 hundred years. Our modern Valentine customs date from the 1840's, when it was basically reinvented as a marketing ploy to sell greeting cards. With the introduction of mass produced cards around 1900, our card exchanging habits were permanently established. Permanently established to the tune of 188 million Valentine cards exchanged annually!
Theobroma cacao, the Food of the Gods
I certainly do not expect jewelry or care about greeting cards but, sign me right up for the chocolate part! So a pre-Valentine's day chocolate cooking class at La Cucina seemed appropriate. We selected several luscious recipes that celebrated three different approaches to appreciating Theobroma cacao, the Food of the Gods. Legends recount that the Mayan God Quetzalcoatl stole the sacred cacao seeds and gave them to mankind, and was punished by the other Gods because this miraculous beverage had been reserved for their exclusive use. In fact, the Mayans were among the first to cultivate cacao trees over a thousand years ago.
Modern chocolate
The modern chocolate with which we are familiar is a mixture of cocoa butter (the fat part of the cocoa seeds), cocoa powder and sugar. Dark Chocolate is a mixture of cocoa liquor, cocoa butter and sugar, with a 50% to 90% percentage of cocoa. Basic chocolate contain at least 35% cocoa and not over 65% sugar. Milk Chocolate is a blend of sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, milk or milk powder, and vanilla. It should not be less then 25% cocoa. White chocolate is not really chocolate because it doesn't contain any cocoa solids. White chocolate is a concoction of at least 20% of cocoa butter, sugar, milk or milk powder, and vanilla.
Our menu
Our menu for the class included Chocolate Raspberry Truffles, Dark Chocolate Balsamic Ice Cream and Queen of the Cumberlands White Chocolate Cake with Sour Mash Chocolate Icing. We will share the recipes for the Truffles here and post the others during the week of St. Valentine's Day.
Chocolate Raspberry Truffles
These confections are so named because the rather misshapen cocoa coated candies resemble the famous fungus of the same name.
Servings: 25 to 30 pieces
Ingredients :
  1. Combine cream, butter and corn syrup in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer; remove from heat and cool for about 5 minutes.
  2. Break chocolate into small pieces and stir into the cream mixture. Stir until melted and add Raspberry liqueur and Raspberry Flavor.
  3. Cool 2 to 3 hours at room temperature.
  4. Whip truffle mix with an electric mixer, on medium for about 1 minute.
  5. Use a mini ice cream scoop to shape truffles. Place truffles on a tray lined with parchment paper and chill for 1 hour.
  6. Roll chilled truffles in cocoa powder and enjoy.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Best By Dating On Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Freshly Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil (
Right out of the press
Dating on olive oil: The perfect time to consume extra virgin olive oil is directly from the press at the time
of pressing. At that point the oil has 100% of everything nature could provide.
After that, olive oil begins to slowly lose some of its vitality. Have you ever noticed that high quality olive oil has a best by date on it, and the grocery store variety does not?
That is because they don’t want you to know how old the oil is (one year, two years, five years?).
It is not a problem if you intend to saute or bake with it, but it becomes problematic when you want to use it for dipping, or salads, or as finishing oil over vegetables.
Face it—common grocery store olive oil tastes flat and lacks depth.
Now back to best by dates: olive oil begins to lose vitality once it is bottled, generally speaking 18 months after bottling, the oil is no longer at its very peak.
Here is the point of these ramblings; occasionally in our enthusiasm for a great extra virgin olive oil, we buy too much, and 18 months later we have a dilemma.
Oil that is still great and certainly better then the common garden variety you can expect at the grocery store. Unfortunately for us, we can no longer, in good conscience, represent this oil as being in its original peak condition. In our minds it has now become some of the finest cooking, all purpose olive oil in the world.
Long story short: we are selling this oil at the same price you might find at your local grocery store, $10.00 per bottle!
The producers may vary, but the quality will be excellent and well worth your consideration.
As always, Avanti Savoia stands behind everything we sell with a 100% money back guarantee.

Try for yourself and see the difference.


See what others are saying:

  1. All Purpose Olive Oil5 stars
    Review Date: 05/05/2013; By: Justin (Raytown, MO )
    We are continually surprised and impressed with the quality of this Oil. We have never received a bottle that does not have the wonderful smell of good quality Oil.
  2. Very satisfied with purchase!!!5 stars
    Review Date: 12/24/2012; By: Sarah(Seattle, WA )
    This stuff is great! Perfect mild flavor, BIG bottle, great value, and the dispenser at top prevents the oil from spilling down the outside of the bottle. Really happy I got this!
  3. cooking olive oil5 stars
    Review Date: 06/29/2011; By: Deborah (Arlington, VT )
    Excellent !!!! I use it for everything. The quality and performance goes along way. Deborah Weiler, Vermont
  4. A staple in our house5 stars
    Review Date: 11/18/2010; By: Janice ( Knoxville, TN )
    So much better than what can be found in local grocery store - at about the same price! Excellent ITALIAN extra virgin olive oil.
  5. Cooking/All Purpose Olive Oil5 stars
    Review Date: 11/08/2010; By: GREGG (CLEVELAND, OH )
  6. Cooking/All Purpose Olive Oil4 stars
    Review Date: 01/18/2010; By: ( Indianapolis, IN )
    Love your oils, although a little more expensive than what I can get in stores.
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    Review Date: 01/09/2010; By: Helen (Watertown, WI )
    Very nice,makes for a very good cooking oil.
  8. Cooking/All Purpose Olive Oil5 stars
    Review Date: 12/15/2009; By: TIMOTHY (OCEAN CITY, NJ )
  9. cooking olive oil5 stars
    Review Date: 10/16/2009; By: Kathryn Johnson (Charlotte, NC )
    Improves quality of my cooking
  10. Best value for the $4 stars
    Review Date: 07/19/2009; By: Theresa (Warren, PA )
    I cook only with olive oil, and have found this oil to be the best flavor and quality for the money, better than any I could find at grocery or specialty cooking stores. I buy 3-5 at a time when it's available and use it for salad dressings, cooking, and baking (I bake all of our daily bread).
  11. Cooking/All Purpose Olive Oil5 stars
    Review Date: 05/17/2009; By: Louis (Stroudsburg, PA )
    I have ordered this several times and have been very happy with the products each time
  12. Best of Both Worlds5 stars
    Review Date: 03/16/2009; By: Ben ( Knoxville, TN )
    This is such a great value. Perfect for all my olive oil needs, but because it is a bit mature there is no need to feel like I need to use sparingly. This is always in my pantry.
  13. All Purpose Olive Oil5 stars
    Review Date: 02/24/2009; By: Annabel (New York, NY )
    Excellent quality and taste, especially for the price.
  14. Perfect for everyday use5 stars
    Review Date: 02/07/2009; By: Sean (Dayton, OH )
    This olive oil is just what we were looking for in an everyday cooking olive oil. We have ordered six bottles so far and have had nothing but positive experiences with it. Bon Appetit!

Try for yourself and see the difference.

Monday, February 3, 2014

SURVIVING THE BIG STORM: Bringing Santa Fe to Knoxville

We were just inconvenienced
Today, we are watching the temperature inch up toward the freezing mark. The sun is shining beautifully on the brilliant white snow left by this week's winter storm. We hope that much of the snow and ice might melt by this afternoon. Our city of Knoxville, Tennessee was covered by 3 inches or more and we had temps hovering around zero. Although there were any number of traffic snarls and stranded motorist, we were far more fortunate than our neighbors to the south. Georgia and Alabama were hit really hard. For us, the city was slowed down and we were just inconvenienced but, nothing like so many who really suffered.
Being snowed in wasn't half bad
The main casualty for Avanti Savoia was canceling one of our cooking classes at La Cucina, which can be rescheduled. The class was to be "Fiesta de Santa Fe" and the food and supplies had already purchased. The nice thing about that is that we had the makings of a winter New Mexican fiesta at our fingertips. Being snowed in wasn't half bad with Chile Verde, Biscochitos and frothy cups of Chocolate Mexicano.
The aroma of roasted chiles and fragrant Pinon wood
"Nueva Comida Mexicana"- the food of New Mexico is a fusion of Spanish, Mediterranean, Mexican, Native American and Vaquero (cowboy) cuisine. It is akin to but, not the same as Tex-Mex, Californian and Arizonian cooking. In New Mexico the green chile (very similar to Anaheim peppers but, hotter) reigns supreme. It is the largest agricultural crop in the state and the most famous comes from the little village of Hatch in Dona Ana County. If you ever experience the aroma of roasted chiles and fragrant Pinon wood on a September day in Northern New Mexico, you will never forget it!
Avanti Savoia Products*
Chile Verde - The definitive sauce of New Mexico that goes with just about anything!
  • 2 Cups green chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped but, NOT rinsed (New Mexican Hatch Green Chiles are the pepper of choice but, you can substitute a mixture of Anaheim , Poblano, Jalapeno, Serrano, and others as available)
  • 1 Tablespoon Cooking Extra Virgin Oil
  • ½ Cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 Cloves garlic, minced and mashed
  • 1 to 2 Cups Chicken broth
  • 2 Tablespoons softened butter blended with 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Salish Smoked Sea salt*
1. Roast the chiles either over an open gas flame or under the broiler. Turn them 2 or 3 times to roast all sides. Remove from heat and wrap in a damp towel or place in a plastic bag. This helps in the peeling process. It is highly recommended to wear plastic gloves when handling any hot peppers. When the chiles have been peeled and seeds removed, cut into strips lengthwise and chop into small pieces.
2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the onion and garlic. Sautee gently until they begin to turn translucent. Add chopped chiles and continue cooking for a few minutes. Add the broth and simmer another 10 minutes.
3. Blend together the butter and flour and add it to the simmering sauce a bit at a time blending well after each addition. Allow the sauce to simmer and thicken to your desired consistency. Season with salt and enjoy.
Biscochitos - In 1989, the State of New Mexico named the Biscochito as the official state cookie. It is a crispy cookie flavored with anise seed and cinnamon. This cookie owes its texture to the inclusion of lard which is essential to the authentic recipe. It is served at celebrations such as weddings, baptisms and other holidays especially Christmas. Like other styles of "pan dulce" they are not very sweet and are usually eaten with morning coffee or after dinner late at night, sometimes served with a glass of sweet wine.
  • 1 cup of lard (room temperature)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3 Large eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon Bourbon Barrel Vanilla*
  • 1 Tablespoon anise seeds, crushed
  • Pinch of Velvet Sel Gris Sea Salt*
  • 1 Teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • Mixture of sugar and cinnamon to coat the cookies
1. In the bowl of a mixture, combine the lard and sugar and beat until creamed. Add vanilla, anise and sea salt and blend well.
2. Add baking powder and flour a cup or so at a time until dough resembles pie crust dough. Roll out dough about ¼ inch thick and cut out cookies using whatever shape that you desire. Dip each cookie into the cinnamon sugar and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until just slightly browned. The amount of cookies will depend on the size.

Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate - This recipe for "Chocolate Mexicano" is certainly not confined to just New Mexico. This surprising combination of chocolate, milk, sugar cinnamon and a touch of chile pepper has been enjoyed in Mexico and South America for centuries. It is an absolutely fabulous treat when enjoyed with Biscochitos!
1 tablet yields 4 cups of Hot Chocolate
  • Abuelita Mexican Hot Chocolate Drink Tablets
  • 1 Cup of whole milk per serving and tiny pinch of cayenne pepper
1. The tablets must be grated into hot milk to dissolve properly, also at this point add the cayenne. When the tablet has melted into the milk it needs to be whipped into froth. This can be done with a regular whisk but, nothing will produce the perfect frothiness better than the traditional "molinillo" and the process is really fun!
Buen Provecho, Y'all!

If you enjoyed these recipes and want to check us out or take one of our Cooking Classes in Knoxville visit us here: