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Francine Segan, one of America’s foremost experts on Italian cuisine, is an engaging public speaker, author, TV personality and consultant. A noted food historian and James Beard-nominated author of six books including "Dolci: Italy's Sweets" and "Pasta Modern: New & Inspired Recipes from Italy" (both published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang).

Her many TV appearances include "Today" and "Early Show," and she has been featured on numerous specials for PBS, the Food Network and the History, Sundance and Discovery channels.

She is the U.S. spokesperson for several distinguished Italian companies including Lavazza, Felicetti, Amedei and Garofalo. As spokesperson for Carrabba's Italian Grill, a chain of 350 restaurants, she is featured in their La Pasta Vita video series.

Francine co-edited "Entertaining from Ancient Rome to the Super Bowl," a 2-volume encyclopedia, which was a finalist for the coveted Gourmand World Cookbook Award given each year in Paris. She contributed the chapter on Ruth Reichl for the book "Icons Of American Cooking" and translated two books -- "Nutella Passion" and "The Pleasures of Espresso" -- from Italian into English for Giunti, Italy's largest privately owned publisher.

Segan writes for several magazines including Epicurious, Food Arts and Gastronomica. She writes extensively about chocolate and authored several chapters of Rutgers University’s catalogue "Bitter Sweet: The Chocolate Show" and contributed the chapter "Italian Chocolate" for the upcoming Oxford Encyclopedia of Sweets. She lectures across the country for the prestigious speaker's bureau Cassidy & Fishman and is a frequent guest speaker at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., Virginia Fine Arts Museum and Museum of Natural History in New York.

A festive Asti Spumante Risotto. Credit: Stephen Murello

Italy is Europe's leading rice producer. Italy produces 50 varieties of rice, each suited to a particular dish or cooking method. Risotto is one of

Three easy salsas for a New Year's Eve party. Credit: Canyon Ranch Spa

This time of year, most of us make a New Year's resolution to lose weight. To jump-start my own plans, and to help my

Castagnaccio is made with chestnut flour, which is so naturally sweet it needs no added sweeteners. Credit: Aurelio Barattini

There are so many ways to enjoy chestnuts. A wonderful winter treat, chestnuts are delicious fresh, served either pan- or oven-roasted, or as an

A mound of luscious pasta is tossed in a sweet dark chocolate sauce and topped with grated chocolate and walnuts. Credit: Garofalo Pasta Company

In Italy, besides special holiday cookies and cakes like panettone, pasta is served for dessert, especially on Christmas Eve. Italy has a long tradition

Almonds, pine nuts and pistachios are coated with sugar to make Italian confetti. Credit: Francine Segan

Italians sure like to sugarcoat things. They've got a sugarcoated something or other for almost every occasion. Almonds are covered in a different color of

Christmas Eve salad

Do you have menu monotony? Are you cooking the same recipes over and over again for the holidays? There is relief from this stubborn winter

Instant chocolate cake. Credit: From “Dolci: Italy’s Sweets” by Francine Segan (Stewart, Tabori & Chang)

Savoiardi cookies -- often called ladyfingers in the United States -- were created in the Piedmont region of Italy in 1348 during the early

Blueberry cornmeal pancakes. Credit: "Eight Broads in the Kitchen"

A new cookbook serves up breakfast inspiration. Eight innkeepers who have served more than 184,200 breakfasts in their collective 150 years of feeding happy