Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Polentine Cookie and Tuscany

August 11, 2014 | 1 Comment

polenta gluten-free

Each month here on the Cookies con Amore blog we dedicate one of our cookies to a region of Italy. It’s an opportunity for you to learn a bit about the Italian culture that is baked into each of our cookies—whether they are gluten-free, sugar-free or classico.

The Polentine Cookie: Gluten-Free Cornmeal and Jam

The Polentine is a naturally gluten-free cookie that our head chef Fernanda invented. It’s based on a gluten-free cornmeal (a.k.a. polenta) batter to give a jaunty crunch. A thin layer of raspberry jam gives the cookie a hint of tart sweetness.

You can eat the Polentine as is, but we like to spread bit of goat cheese on this cookie and top it with a dollop of spicy jam to create a sweet, salty and creamy appetizer. It’s a subtle and sophisticated cookie. It says, “Be present and look closely. You will find the thread of sweet love.”

Polentine Gluten Free Cookies

Tuscany: Food and Culture

Polenta comes from the north of Italy and is a specialty of Tuscany. One of the great foodie destinations, Tuscany has a simple cuisine that favors legumes, fresh vegetables and fruit. Olive oil, wine and pork are produced here. White truffles are harvested in October, which makes it a great time to visit.

Considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, Tuscany is also replete with cultural touchstones. Dante wrote his Divine Comedy here. You’ll find Pisa and its famous leaning tower in Tuscany. Art lovers must visit the Tuscan city of Florence to view works by Donatello, Michelangelo and Botticelli. The beautiful hill towns of Siena and San Gimignano are other Tuscan tourist favorites.


Timing your visit with a local festival, will give you a flavor of the local character and cuisine. Take your pick among these two Tuscan Polenta feasts that will take you off the beaten tourist track.

La Maremma: October

Head to La Maremma in October for their polenta festival: Sagra della Polenta. This “wild region” in the Southern part of Tuscany is a popular weekend and holiday getaway on the sea for Italians from Florence, Siena and Rome. It boasts secluded beaches, small port towns, medieval castles and hiking. Read more about visiting La Maremma.

Vernio: First Sunday of Lent

On the first Sunday of Lent, the small town of Vernio near Florence hosts the Festa della Polenta (Festival of Polenta) or “Pulendina.” This popular festival began in 1512 when the town suffered a famine while under Spanish rule. Members of a local noble family stepped in to feed hungry residents polenta. The Festa della Polenta celebrates this magnanimous deed that saved many from starvation. The event features a medieval pageant as well as a chance to sample many different types of polenta. Read more about the Festa della Polenta in Vernio.

Of course, you needn’t book a ticket to Italy to enjoy a taste of Tuscany. Simply order a box of our gluten-free Polentine cookies and we’ll deliver some Tuscan dolce to your door.

The Gluten-Free Italian Table: Summer Delights

August 1, 2014 | Leave a comment


Chef Fernanda’s Summer Farm-to-Table Delights

gluten-free cookies chef

Cookies con Amore Head Chef Fernanda Capraro

I’m a mostly gluten-free Italian who loves to share great food with the people I love. I first got interested in a gluten-free diet when a friend of the family told us that she was gluten-intolerant. Out of curiosity, I tried a cutting out gluten and noticed that I generally felt better. That made me a true believer.

I’m willing to give up wheat, but I’m not willing to give up on great taste. It’s my palate that guides me when making our Glutenetto cookies. The taste and texture have to be so good that you don’t miss the gluten. It’s also what guides me when I’m at the Farmer’s Market as I think about what I’ll prepare for dinner.

Fresh, seasonal produce is at the heart of Italian cuisine. Italian food isn’t just about pasta, and if you are gluten-free that’s a great thing. While there are plenty of gluten-free pasta products on the market, and you can always substitute with rice or gnocchi, I like to use vegetables in place of pasta when I can.

Roma Beans

For example, last week, I picked up some Roma beans at the Farmer’s Market. These long flat beans are sweet, tender and meaty which makes them a great substitute for pasta with fresh tomato sauce. I blanched the beans, added them to a pot of fresh tomatoes, garlic and olive oil and served it with a dusting of parmagiano and a side of chicken. No one in the family missed the pasta one bit.

Recipe: Italian Summer Vegetable Saute

Zucchini, eggplant, bell pepper and tomatoes are bountiful at the Farmer’s Market right now: perfect ingredients for an Italian version of Ratatoulle, the Provencal French summer vegetable stew. Rather than stewing all the vegetables together in one pot, I fire them up on the grill with their skins on (for better nutrition and a nice texture), and then sauté them together with some olive oil, garlic and fresh basil. It’s like a garden on your plate!


  • 2 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 eggplant, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 4 to 5 ripe roma tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  1. Roast the tomatoes whole and dice them.
  2. Chop the zucchini, eggplant and bell pepper into bite-sized portions. I prefer to keep the skin on because it adds a nice texture and there’s lots of good nutrition in the skin. Arrange them on skewers, brush them with olive oil and grill till brown.
  3. Add a bit of olive oil to a saute pan and combine the grilled vegetables, tomatoes, garlic and basil. Saute for 10 minutes so the flavors meld together. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm!