Monday, December 23, 2013


makes 8 to 10 servings
Struffoli, Italian honey cookies, are a traditional Italian Christmas cookie.

                                                                               Prep time: 1 hour
                                                                               Cook time: 30 minutes
                                                                               Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes


2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
1 large lemon, zested (about 2 teaspoons)
1/2 large orange, zested (about 2 teaspoons)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon white wine, such as pinot grigio
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

canola oil, for frying

honey sauce:

1 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice


Multicoloured sugar sprinkles, for decoration
Powdered sugar, for dusting, optional


create the dough:

Pulse together 2 cups of flour, lemon zest, orange zest, sugar, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor until evenly distributed.  Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the eggs, wine, and vanilla and continue pulsing until the mixture forms a ball.  Remove the dough ball from the bowl and wrap in plastic wrap, refrigerate for 30 minutes.

form the cookies:

Divide the dough into 4 equal-sized pieces and, one at a time, roll out each piece of dough into ropes about the size of a pencil, 1/4-inch thick, on a lightly floured surface. Cut each rope into 1/2-inch long pieces.
Roll each piece of dough into a small ball about the size of a hazelnut. Lightly dredge the dough balls in flour, shaking off any excess.

fry the dough balls:

Fry the formed dough balls until golden brown in a deep pot or frying pan in which about 2 inches of the oil has been heated to 375 degrees F. (or use a deep fryer filled with the manufacturer’s dictated amount of oil heated to 350 degrees F), about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the fried dough balls to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

coat the cookies in honey:

In a large saucepan over medium heat combine the honey, sugar, and lemon juice, bring the mixture to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add the drained cookies and stir until the cookies are coated with the honey mixture. Allow the mixture to cool in the pan for 2 minutes.

Using a large slotted  spoon remove the cookies from the pan and arrange the struffoli, in layers, in a Christmas tree shaped pile generously sprinkling each layer with the multi-coloured sprinkles before adding the next level.  Dust the pile with powdered sugar if desired.


Struffoli are normally served accompanied by dark espresso coffee generously laced with anisette and served on a small plate for each person to eat with a spoon (to keep your fingers from getting sticky).  

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Holiday Biscotti

Holiday Biscotti
makes 20 biscotti
In Italian biscotti means twice baked.  These traditional anise and almond flavoured Italian cookies are great any time but at Christmas time they are made extra special with the addition of chopped pistachios, candied fruit and a white chocolate dip. 


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon anise extract, or 3 drops anise oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup candied fruit (as you would use in a fruit cake)

decoration (optional):

12 ounces good-quality white chocolate, chopped
Red and green sugar crystals, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

prepare the dough:

In the large bowl of your stand mixer (or in a medium bowl if you use a hand mixer) beat the sugar and eggs on high speed until thick, pale, and fluffy (about 5 minutes).  At this point beat in the anise extract.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. 

Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat until combined.  Fold in the chopped pistachios, lemon zest and the candied fruit.

form the biscotti loaf:

Transfer the dough to a well floured counter and form into a log shape, about 12 inches (30 cm) long and 3 1/2 inches (9 cm) wide. You may have to flour your hands to form the log as the dough is quite sticky. 

first baking of the biscotti:

Place on your prepared baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.

second baking of the biscotti:

Reduce the temperature of your oven to 325 degrees F.  Transfer the cooled log to a cutting board and cut into about 1/2 inch slices, on the diagonal. Place the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake for about 8-10 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.  Store in an air tight container 

optional white chocolate dip:

Stir the chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until the chocolate melts. Dip half of the biscotti into the melted chocolate. Gently shake off the excess chocolate. Place the biscotti on the baking sheet for the chocolate to set. Sprinkle with the sugar crystals to form red, white, and green diagonal stripes. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, about 35 minutes.


Serve on a plate accompanied by anisette spiked espresso coffee.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Pizza Rustica

Pizza Rustica
Just in time for your Christmas parties, Pizza Rustica is the original "deep dish" pizza and a Christmas tradition in my family.
makes 1 pizza, 13x9x2 inches


1/2 pound Prosciutto ham, sliced very thin
1/2 pound Cappacola ham, sliced very thin
1/2 pound Genoa Salami, sliced very thin
1/2 pound good Pepperoni, sliced very thin
1-pound Mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated
3 pounds Ricotta cheese
6 eggs
1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

pie crust:

3 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/6 cups shortening
9 to 12 tablespoons cold water

Filling  preparation:

1.  Preheat oven to 400º.  Into a large bowl, tear individual slices of each cold cut (except pepperoni) into pieces about the width and length of one's thumb (about 1"x 2" pieces).  Add the slices of pepperoni without tearing.  Toss the mixture to evenly distribute the different meats.
2.  Add the grated Mozzarella, Ricotta, eggs, and nutmeg and mix thoroughly with your hands until all ingredients have been evenly distributed.  Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper to taste, insure you mix thoroughly after adding the salt and pepper.

Pizza crust preparation (or use your own pie crust recipe or a commercial pie crust):

3.  Sift flour and salt together; cut in shortening with a fork until the pieces are the size of small peas.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon water over part of the mixture and toss with fork, push the moistened flour mixture to side of bowl.  Repeat until all the flour mixture has been moistened.  Divide mixture and form into two balls.

4.   On a lightly floured surface, flatten one of the balls of dough.  Roll the dough out, starting from the center, to a rough rectangle large enough to cover the bottom and sides of a lightly greased, rectangular, glass baking dish (approximately 13x9x2 inches in size) and about 1/8 inch thick.

5.  Place dough sheet into baking dish and form to cover the bottom and sides.  Add the filling mixture and distribute evenly.   On a lightly floured surface, roll out the second ball of dough to roughly the same size as the first and about 1/8 inch thick.  Cut into strips of dough 1/2 to 3/4 inches wide.  Lay strips on filled pie at about 1 inch intervals across the width of the pie, fold back alternate strips and begin forming a lattice by interweaving strips placed at 1 inch intervals down the length of the pie (beginning 1 inch from the upper edge) with the strips along the width.   After the lattice has been formed, trim excess dough around the edges of the dish by running a sharp knife along the outer rim of the dish.  Seal edges.

6.  Place the pie in the middle of the preheated oven and bake until the latticed top of the pie is golden brown, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.


Allow the pie to cool and set completely before cutting and serving (the pizza is customarily made the day before it is to be served and allowed to cool over night.  It is normally cut into 3-inch cubes for serving).

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tacchino Milanese

Tacchino Milanese
Turkey cutlets with an Italian flair!


1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt plus additional to season the turkey cutlets
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper plus additional to season the turkey cutlets  
2 large eggs, lightly beaten with a tablespoon of cold water
1 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
6 turkey cutlets, 1/4 inch thick
Creamy Lemon and Caper Sauce:
2/3 cup mascarpone cheese or mascarpone cheese substitute
3 tbsp mayonnaise
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup capers, drained and chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 lemons cut into 4 wedges


bread the cutlets:

Construct a breading station by combining the flour, the 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the ½ teaspoon of black pepper in a shallow dish and stir together to evenly distribute the ingredients; in a second shallow dish place the beaten eggs; in a third shallow dish, place the breadcrumbs and the Parmigiano-Reggiano and stir together to evenly distribute the ingredients.

Season the turkey cutlets with salt and pepper. Bread the cutlets by dipping them (both sides), one at a time, first in the flour (shaking off the excess flour), then in the egg mixture, finally in the bread crumbs. Place each breaded cutlet on a holding platter until all the cutlets are breaded.

prepare the creamy lemon and caper sauce (recommended):

Combine the mascarpone* and mayonnaise in a medium bowl.

Slowly add the milk, stirring as constantly, until all the milk is fully incorporated.

Add the drained and chopped capers, lemon zest, salt and black pepper, stirring to combine. Place the sauce in a serving bowl.

fry the scallopini:

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat the oil to the ripple state. When the oil is hot place the breaded scallopini in the pan without crowding and sauté until golden and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side, repeat as necessary until all the scallopini have been sautéed.


Either transfer the scallopini to a serving platter for a family service or into individual service plates and serve accompanied by the lemon wedges to squeeze onto the scallopini, a side-dish of your choice and the optional sauce alongside

*Mascarpone cheese substitute:

If you can't find Mascarpone cheese combine 8 ounces of cream cheese, 3 tablespoons of sour cream and 2 tablespoons whipping cream and use as you would mascarpone.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

New York Style Soft Pretzels

New York Style Soft Pretzels 
Makes 10 large pretzels
Our love of  these delicious twists of malted dough definitely uncover our  New York roots .  In New York City virtually every street corner has its resident  soft pretzel hawker and shoppers normally grab a soft  pretzel as they scurry from store to store.  Try them warm and spread with yellow delicatessen mustard like New Yorkers do, its GREAT !
                                                               Prep time:    15 minutes
                                                               Rise time:     1 hour 30 minutes (divided)
                                                               Bake time:    25 minutes


1 (12ounce) bottle of good amber beer or non-alcoholic amber beer, warm (105° F)
1 package active dry yeast (not instant rise yeast)
2 teaspoons honey
4-½ cups unbleached all-purpose Flour
2 teaspoons fine Kosher or sea salt
4 tablespoons unsalted Butter, melted
¼ cups baking soda
2 whole egg, lightly beaten
Coarse Kosher salt, for sprinkling

create the pretzel dough:

Pour the warm beer into a 2 cup measuring cup, stir in the yeast and sugar and allow the yeast to proof for 5-10 minutes. The mixture will form a foam head, if it doesn’t the yeast is dead and you’ll need to start over. 

Add the flour, salt, melted butter, and the proofed yeast to the bowl of your stand mixer.  Fix with the dough hook attachment and mix using the dough hook until combined well. Place the finished dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled.

form and proof the pretzels:

Line several large sheet pans with parchment paper and set aside. 

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured, clean surface.  Punch it down and roll the dough into an evenly shaped log about 20 inches long.  Cut the log into 10 evenly sized pieces.  Roll each piece into a "rope" about 18 inches long with slightly tapered ends.  

Form each rope into the traditional, three-ringed pretzel shape and place the completed pretzel on the prepared baking sheet, repeat with the remaining dough ropes placing the newly formed pretzels at least 1-inch from the previous.  As each pan is filled cover with a damp kitchen towel and set aside.  Let the completed pretzels rise again until they double in size, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425°F with the oven rack in the middle position.

boil the pretzels:

Bring 2 quarts of water to a low boil, in a large sauce pan or pasta pot.  Once the water boils, remove from heat and slowly add the baking soda (if you put it in too fast the water will boil and overflow the pot).  Place the pot back over the heat and lower to a simmer.

Place 1-2 pretzels at a time into the poaching liquid, and poach for 30 seconds on one side and then carefully turn the pretzel over and poach the other side for another 30 seconds. Remove from the poaching liquid with a slotted spoon and return to the prepared sheet pan. Repeat this process with the remaining pretzels.

bake the pretzels:

Brush each pretzel with the beaten egg using a pastry brush, be sure the egg coats all exposed sides completely, sprinkle each with a little of the coarse salt.

Place the sheet in the preheated oven and bake the rolls for 2-30 minutes, until they are golden brown.


Serve accompanied by yellow mustard and melted cheez whiz.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bacon Cheeseburgers on Salted Pretzel Buns

Bacon Cheeseburgers on Salted Pretzel Buns
makes 8 bacon cheeseburgers

This is an interesting take on America’s favourite burger.  It may seem time intensive but with multi-tasking many of the tasks can take place concurrently and the Bacon Jam can be made hours or even days ahead of time. The resulting burger is well worth it.  

                                                                              Prep time: 35 minutes
                                                                              Cook time: 60 minutes
                                                                              Bake time: 25 minutes
                                                                              Total time: 2 hours


Optional Bacon Jam:

1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1-inch strips
1/2 large yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons ketchup
¼ cup good Bourbon whiskey (optional)
¼ cup very strongly brewed black coffee

Salted Beer Pretzel Rolls:

1 (12ounce) bottle of good amber beer or non-alcoholic amber beer, warm (105° F)
1 package active dry yeast (not instant rise yeast)
2 teaspoons sugar
4-½ cups unbleached all-purpose Flour
2 teaspoons fine Kosher or sea salt
4 tablespoons unsalted Butter, melted
¼ cups baking soda
1 whole egg, lightly beaten
Coarse Kosher salt, for sprinkling

Bacon Cheeseburgers:

2 pounds ground sirloin
3 tablespoons dehydrated onion
1 small yellow onion, peeled and grated
½ pound bacon, cooked crisp but not over cooked and chopped, reserve the rendered fat
fine Kosher or sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 ounces smoked Gouda cheese, grated
8 slices yellow American cheese


Optional Bacon Jam (if you’re planning to use bacon jam, prepare this ahead of time):

1.  Place bacon in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and cook it until it browns and becomes crispy.  Transfer cooked bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
2.  Return pan to the heat and add the onions to the pan with the rendered bacon fat.  Sauté the onions, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent. 
3.  Add the garlic to the pan and sauté for another minute, stirring; do not allow the garlic to brown. 
4.  Add the remaining ingredients, and raise the heat to high.   Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.  Allow the mixture to boil for about 2 minutes. 
5.  Turn the heat under the pan to medium-low, add the bacon and simmer, stirring occasional to avoid burning, until the mixture is reduced by about 1/2 and is thickened into syrup, about 30 minutes.   Turn off the heat, and let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes. 
6.  Pour the cooled mixture into the container of a food processor, and pulse a several times until the mixture attains a spreadable, but decidedly chunky, consistency.  Pour into a sealable container for later use.

Salted Beer Pretzel Rolls preparation:

create the pretzel dough:

Pour the warm beer into a 2 cup measuring cup, stir in the yeast and sugar and allow the yeast to proof for 5-10 minutes. The mixture will form a foam head, if it doesn’t the yeast is dead and you’ll need to start over.  
Add the flour, salt, melted butter, and the proofed yeast to the bowl of your stand mixer.  Fix with the dough hook attachment and mix using the dough hook until combined well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled.

form and proof the rolls:

Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.  Punch the dough down and turn it onto a lightly floured, clean surface.   Roll the dough out into a 16-inch snake and cut the snake into 8 pieces, about 5 ounces each. 

Shape the dough into rolls by taking each piece of dough and form a round, smooth ball by pulling the sides to the center and pinching to seal. Place each formed rough ball, pinched side down, on a counter and lightly cupping your hand around the dough ball, rotate your hand in small circles lightly rolling it around the palm of your hand to form a finished roll.

Place each completed roll on the prepared baking sheet pinched seam side down, with at least 1” between each roll in a staggered formation. Cover with a damp towel and allow to proof in a warm place for 30 minutes until they rise & double.

Preheat oven to 425°F and place oven rack in the middle position.

boil the rolls:

Bring 2 quarts of water to a low boil, in a large saucepan or pasta pot.  Once the water boils, remove from heat and slowly add the baking soda (if you put it in too fast the water will foam up and overflow the pot). Place the pot back over the heat and lower to a simmer.

Place 2-3 rolls at a time into the poaching liquid, seam side down. Poach for 30 seconds and then carefully turn the roll over and poach for another 30 seconds. Remove from the poaching liquid with a slotted spoon and return to the prepared sheet pan, seam side down. Repeat this process with the remaining rolls.

bake the rolls:

Brush each roll with the beaten egg using a pastry brush, be sure the egg coats all exposed sides completely, sprinkle each with a little of the coarse salt. 

Using a very sharp straight edged blace, cut an X into the top of each roll, place the sheet in the preheated oven and bake the rolls for 15-20 minutes, until they are golden brown.  Set aside to cool.

Bacon Cheeseburger preparation:

prepare and cook the cheeseburgers:

Preheat oven to 200° F.

In a large mixing bowl combine all the cheeseburger ingredients through the shredded Gouda but not the American cheese, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Divide the bacon cheeseburger mixture into 8 portions and form each portion into a ball then flatten each ball into the familiar hamburger patty shape.  

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add about 2 tablespoons of the reserved bacon grease and place as many of the patties as will fit without crowding in the skillet, allow the patties to cook about 4 minutes on the first side, flip them and cook on the second side for an additional 4 minutes (dependent on thickness and desired level of doneness).  Remove the cooked burgers to a heat proof plate and place in the oven to keep warm.  Repeat the process until all the burgers are cooked.


Slice each Pretzel bun in half horizontally, place one bacon cheeseburger on the bottom half of each bun, place one slice of American cheese on top of each burger.  If you elect to use the bacon jam, spread desired amount of the jam on the bottom of the bun top and place it on the top of the burger, if not just place the bun top on the burger.   Serve accompanied by your favourite condiments, sides and cold beverage of your choice. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Quick and Easy Banana/Orange Becky

Quick and Easy Banana/Orange Becky
                                                                                                                      Prep time - 3 minutes
                                                                                                                      Cook time - 0
                                                                                                                      Total time -  3 minutes

This is a smoothie I came up with combining two of my granddaughter's favourite things bananas and orange juice.


1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
2 ripe bananas, peeled
3 cups ice


blend the smoothie:

Combine the first 4 ingredients in the container of the blender, cover and blend on high speed until the yogurt is thoroughly combined and the sugar is totally dissolved, about 15 or 20 seconds.  Remove the cover add the bananas and the ice replace the cover and process until the ice is finely crushed.


Pour into two chilled glasses, add straws and enjoy!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Ribe-eye Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

Rib-eye Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
serves 4
What could possibly make a perfectly cooked, prime rib eye steak better? Chimichurri sauce of course.


chimichurri Sauce:

3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
3– 4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups loosely packed flat-leaf parsley, stems removed
⅔ cup loosely packed cilantro
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp red pepper flakes
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper

the steaks:

2 (1" or Thicker) well marbled, beef rib-eye steak
extra-virgin olive oil to brush on the steaks
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper or to taste
1 tsp ground Kosher or sea salt or to taste


prepare the chimichurri sauce:

Combine the vinegar and garlic in a small bowl; let sit for 20 minutes.

In a food processor bowl, combine the parsley, cilantro, garlic/vinegar and puree the mixture. While the motor is still running, drizzle in the oil through the processor top until incorporated.

Remove the chimichurri sauce from food processor bowl to a serving bowl. Season with red pepper flakes, salt and ground black pepper to taste and set aside.

prepare the steaks:

Rub both sides of each steak generously with the extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper rubbing the season into both sides. Set steaks aside and allow to marinate in the rub for about ½ hour.
Meanwhile preheat a gas or charcoal grill to its hottest or pre-heat a stove top grill or grill pan until it is very, very hot.

When the grill (or grill pan) reaches its maximum heat, place the steaks on the grate (or in the grill pan). Allow the steaks to cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on 1 side, without moving or piercing the meat . . . you want to create a good, crusty sear outside while maintaining a very rare center. When steaks are browned, flip and sear the other side for 3 to 4 minutes (you want the internal temperature to be either 120° F for rare 125° F for medium-rare on an instant-read thermometer, do not overcook).

When the steaks are cooked cover the steaks with aluminum foil and allow the steaks to rest for about 5 minutes.


Serve steaks immediately on heated plates accompanied by your favourite sides and the Chimichurri sauce for the diners use.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Melt in Your Mouth Meringues

Melt in your Mouth Meringues
makes about 50
These are my all time favourite cookie, light and airy and as the recipe title says, these cookies absolutely melt in your mouth.

6 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 ½ cups sugar


Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Preheat oven to 225° F.

create the dough:

Place egg whites in a mixing bowl and beat with a hand mixer until the whites become foamy.  Add the vanilla, the salt, and the cream of tartar while continuing to beat the egg whites.  Add the sugar, a teaspoon at a time, beating for about a minute between additions.  Continue beating the mixture after the last of the sugar has been added for about 8 minutes until the egg whites become very stiff, glossy, and smooth.*

form the cookies:

Using a spoon, put the mixture into a large pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch star tip.  Pipe the meringues onto the prepared cookie sheets allowing about 1-inch between each meringue.

bake the meringues:

Reduce the oven temperature to 200° F. and bake the meringues for 1 ½ to 2 hours until the meringues are dry to the touch, remember meringues don’t really bake they dry.  Turn off the oven and leave the cookie sheets in the oven until the oven cools enough so you can remove the cookie sheets from the oven with your naked hand.


When the meringues are thoroughly cooled either remove from the cookie sheets to a serving platter or to a lidded container and store in a cool dry place.

* colouring or flavoured extracts can be added at this point one drop at a time until the colour or flavour you desire is achieved.  Do not add too much colouring or flavouring or the meringues will go flat.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Albondigas Soup

Albondigas Soup
(Mexican Meatball Soup)
serves 8
                                                                              Prep time: 10 minutes
                                                                              Cook time: 50 minutes
                                                                              Total time: 1 hour


8 ounces ground beef
8 ounces raw chorizo sausage, casing removed
1 small onion, micro-planed
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 large egg, beaten
2 cloves garlic, peeled and micro-planed
½ cup cooked rice
1/2 carrot, minced
½ teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
¼ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
nonstick cooking spray


2 cups diced onions
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
4 cloves garlic, chopped
6 cups chicken broth
3 corn tortillas, chopped
1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained of juice
2 cups sliced button mushrooms, about 8 ounces
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
½ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 pound of escarole, trimmed and cut into 1/2 strips
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
 freshly ground black pepper, to taste


sour cream
½ cup roughly chopped cilantro
corn tortillas chips



Preheat oven to 400° F. and coat broiler pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl combine the meatball ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Shape the meat mixture into ¾ to 1-inch diameter meatballs and place on the prepared broiler pan; you should end up with about 30 meatballs.  Bake meatballs until fully cooked, about 30 minutes.  


In a large pot over medium heat sauté the onions in the olive oil until they are softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and the chili powder and cook an additional minute.  Add the chicken broth, tortillas and half the tomatoes; simmer for 5 minutes.   

Puree the soup in a blender in two or more batches.  Take caution, only fill the container of the blender to half or less of its capacity and cover the container with a cloth when pureeing as the hot soup will expand and may overflow if the container is filled too much.  

Return the pureed soup to the pot and add the remaining tomatoes, the mushrooms, the corn, cilantro, escarole and the meatballs.  Bring the soup to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes.  Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. 


Ladle the soup into individual serving bowls or into a large bowl for family service and serve garnished with roughly chopped fresh cilantro and accompanied by sour cream, and crisp tortillas chips.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Breakfast Burritos

Breakfast Burritos
A breakfast standby in Southern California and a great way to start your day . . . scrambled eggs, cubed potatoes, and chorizo wrapped in a flour tortilla.

serves 10
                                                                            Prep time:  15 minutes
                                                                            Cook time:  20 minutes
                                                                            Total time: 35 minutes


2 1/2 cups potatoes, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch cubes
2 pounds ground beef, breakfast sausage, or chorizo
1/4 cup chili powder, or to taste
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 onions, chopped
2 cups salsa
2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce (or Cholula or other Mexican hot sauce), or to taste
6 eggs, beaten
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey or Pepper Jack cheese
10 large flour tortillas


prepare the potatoes:

Par boil the potato cubes in sufficient heavily salted water to cover the potatoes until they are soft, about 5 minutes after the water comes to a boil.  Drain the potatoes after they are cooked.

brown the beef:

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan over medium heat, brown the ground beef until it is crumbly but still has a little pink.  Stir in the chili powder, the garlic powder, and onion together and cook over medium high heat until the ingredients are thoroughly combined.  Drain any accumulated grease and return to the stove.  

scramble the eggs:

Reduce the heat to medium and add the beaten eggs, cook stirring constantly as you would for cooking loose scrambled eggs.

bring it all together:

Stir in the salsa and the hot sauce and continue to cook the mixture until the onions are softened and most of the liquid has been absorbed/evaporated.  Stir in the both the cheeses and allow them to melt.  Remove the sauté pan from the heat.

prepare the tortillas:

To make the tortillas more pliable, microwave them for about 20 seconds.


Working with 1 tortillas at a time, form each burrito by placing the tortillas on a clean flat surface in front of you and place about 1 cup of the filling mixture in a line across the lower third of the tortilla, fold in the two sides and rolling the burrito up to form the familiar burrito shape*.  At this point, if you're not planning to eat the burritos immediately you may wrap each in aluminum foil prior to placing in the refrigerator or freezer for future use.  This is also the way you would save left-over burritos.  To reheat, remove the foil and microwave the frozen burrito for 2 to 3 minutes on high.


Serve accompanied by sour cream, additional salsa and guacamole.  These burritos can either be treated as finger food or as a dish to be handled with a knife and fork. 

* at this point the burritos can be fried

Monday, April 29, 2013

Biscuits and Gravy

Biscuits and Gravy
4 Serving
A southern breakfast favourite and one that my daughter-in-law has adopted as her favourite  breakfast it's one  that is easy to make yourself.
                                                                           Preparation time:     0 minutes
                                                                           Cook time:             30 minutes
                                                                            Total time:             30 minutes


½ pound breakfast sausage
4 biscuits prepare according to package directions, split in half

white (milk) gravy:
3 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of bacon grease
3 tablespoons of flour
2 cups whole milk
dash of cayenne pepper, or to taste
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
white pepper, to taste


brown the sausage:

In a skillet, cook the sausage until it is evenly browned, stirring constantly to crumble it.  Remove the cooked sausage to a paper towel lined dish to drain

prepare a white rue:

In a saucepan, over low heat, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter and stir in the bacon grease.  Add the 3 tablespoons of flour and cook stirring for 3 or 4 minutes until the taste of raw flour has a disappeared.

create the white gravy:

While stirring the rue slowly add all the milk.  Stir in the cayenne pepper, continue stirring while cooking the milk mixture until it has thickened and is smooth and hot (the mixture will not thicken ‘til it comes to a boil, have patience raise the heat slightly if necessary).  If the sauce appears too thick for your tastes you may add a little more milk (a tablespoon at a time) until it reaches your desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, white pepper, and cayenne.

bring it all together:

Stir the cooked, crumbled sausage into the white sauce.


Place one split biscuit on each serving plate; distribute ¼ of the white sauce/sausage mixture over each biscuit. Serve immediately.  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tikka Masala

Tikka Masala
serves 4
Tikka Masala is dish of roasted chicken chunks  in a spicy masala  sauce and one of those Indian restaurant specialties that is dead simple to prepare at home.

Tikka Masala marinade:

1 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
4 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt, or to taste

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bit-sized pieces
4 long skewers

Tikka Masala sauce:

1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
3 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

accompaniment :

yellow rice prepared to package instructions
naan bread


prepare the marinade:

In a large bowl combine the yogurt, the lemon juice, the cumin, the cinnamon, the cayenne, the black pepper, the ginger, and the salt.  Pour the mixture into a large, 1 gallon, resealable plastic bag, add the chicken and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to marinate.

Lightly oil the grates of your grill and preheat it to high heat.

grill the chicken:

Distribute and thread the chicken pieces onto the skewers, discard the marinade.  Grill the chicken until juices run clear when a piece is pierced, about 5 minutes on each side.

prepare the masala sauce:

Melt the butter in a large, heavy sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and chopped jalapeno for 1 minute.  Add the cumin, paprika, garam masala and salt, stir in the tomato sauce and cream.   Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.  Remove the chicken from the skewers and add the pieces to the thickened sauce and continue to simmer for 10 minutes.


Transfer the Tikki Masala to a serving platter and serve immediately accompanied by yellow rice and naan bread.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Pani di Pasqua

Pani di Pasqua
 (Italian Easter Bread)
makes 6 individual loaves*

This is a favourite of my childhood, every Easter my family would get together at my grandfather's and the aunts and uncles would bring these to the delight of the children.  Happy Easter!


1 package Rapid Rise (instant) yeast (about 2-1/4 teaspoons)
1 ¼  cups milk
 pinch of salt
1/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon anise extract
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
grated zest of 2 oranges
½ cup mixed candied fruit, chopped (optional)  
3 ½ cups flour
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
6 dyed Easter eggs
multi-coloured sugar sprinkles or multi-coloured sugar pearls  


prepare the Easter eggs:

Cook 6 eggs in your normal manner and die them bright colours of your choice.

prepare the bread dough:

In a small saucepan, warm the milk, anise and butter together, just till butter melts. In a large mixer bowl, combine yeast, salt, eggs, orange zest and sugar.  Add the warm (not hot - it will kill the yeast) milk and butter and the chopped candied fruit if used. Add about half the flour and beat until smooth with dough hook.   Slowly add the remaining flour to form a stiff dough.  Don't worry about how much flour it ends up being, just keep adding until the dough is not sticky anymore.  Knead until smooth with either dough hook attachment or turn out on floured board and knead.  Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.

form the loaves:

Punch dough down, divide into 12 pieces.  Roll each piece to form a 1 inch thick rope about 14 inches long and, taking two pieces, twist to form a "braid", pinching the ends,  and loop into a circle.  Divide the loaves between two baking sheets lined with parchment paper,   cover with tea clothes and allow to rise until they double, about another hour.   When the loaves have doubled, brush each loaf with some of the beaten egg wash.  Sprinkle with the coloured sprinkles and place one of the coloured Easter eggs in the middle.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

bake the loaves:

Bake in the preheated oven until golden, about 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven, place on the rack and allow to cool.


Serve to the delight of your family and friends just use common sense about the hard boiled eggs, if they sit out for too long they may not be safe to eat.

Note: * this recipe will also make 1 large, braided loaf and make 7 coloured Easter eggs, one for the middle and 6 around the ring, the Easter eggs do not need to be hard boiled.  They cook when the bread bakes.  Dye the eggs raw without hard boiling them.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bocca di Nona

Bocca di Nona
(Gandmother Kisses)
makes 28 cookie sandwiches
These are delicious, delicate and lacy cookies from the neighborhood panetterias of the Brooklyn of my youth.  Similar to lacy Florentines, this version is filled with a luscious Bergamont flavoured ganache derived from Earl Grey tea bags . . . to make these even more elegant make extra ganache and dip 1/2 of each cookie sandwich in it.


2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated white sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups finely ground blanched almonds
Earl Grey Ganache ( see recipe below)

Earl Grey ganache:

1/3 cup whipping cream
4 Earl Grey tea bags
4 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped


prepare the cookie batter:

In a small bowl, stir together flour and cocoa powder to thoroughly combine; set aside.   Beat the softened butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds in a large bowl. Add the sugar and the vanilla and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Beat in the ground almonds.  Add the flour and beat in until mixture is just combined.  Cover and chill dough about 1 hour or until it is easy to handle.

 Preheat oven to 350° F.

bake the cookies:

Prepare one or more cookie sheets by lining each with parchment paper and set them aside. Working quickly, shape the chilled dough into 56 1-inch balls and place the balls about 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet gently pressing each ball to flatten slightly.  Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until firm. Cool the cookies while still on the cookie sheet.  Construct the cookie sandwiches by removing a cooled cookie from the cookie sheet, and holding it with flat side up, spread it with about 1 teaspoon of the Earl Grey ganache, top with the remaining cookie, flat sides down and place on a serving plate.  Continue until all the cookies and ganache are used.  

Earl Grey ganache:

After the cookies have been baked, create the ganache.   Bring 1/3 cup whipping cream to boiling in a small saucepan. After the cream comes to a boil remove from heat. Add the Earl Grey tea bags to the hot cream, cover and allow to seep for 15 minutes. After the cream/tea has seeped for 15 minutes remove the tea bags squeezing each tea bag as it is removed to  release any residual liquid in it. Return the pan containing the cream to the stove and return it to the boil.  When the tea infused cream returns to a boil remove it from the heat and immediately add the finely chopped milk chocolate. Stir until chocolate completely melts and mixture is shiny and smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature before using.


Serve the Bocca di Nona in the Italian way accompanied by a demitasse cup of espresso coffee spike with a splash of Anisette liquor.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Linguine al Limone

Linguine al Limone
(Lemon Linguine)
serves 4 to 8
Parmesan cheese and the subtle, bright flavour of lemon combine in this dish to transport the diner to the sunny slops of the Amalfi coast.
                                                                                  Prep time:  3 minutes
                                                                                  Cook time:  10 minutes
                                                                                  Total time: 10 minutes

2 pounds linguine
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 lemon, zested
 juice of ½ lemon, plus more juice, to taste
Kosher or sea salt, to taste, to taste
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 to 3 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley leaves


prepare the linguine:

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and cook the linguine according to package directions until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes.

 prepare the sauce:

When the linguine has been cooking for about 5 minutes you can begin the sauce.  In a medium size bowl whisk the egg yolks until they turn a pale yellow and frothy.  Whisk in the cream, Parmesan, and lemon zest.  When they are incorporated, add ½ of the lemon juice, taste the sauce and add more lemon if you desire and some salt if needed.

bring it all together:

Once you are satisfied that the Linguine is al dente, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta.  Toss the cooked pasta back into the still warm pot, which you have taken off the heat.  Add the butter and toss to melt and coat the linguine with it.  Add the lemon/egg sauce and again toss to coat the pasta, if the pasta looks too tight (dry) slowly add a little of the reserved pasta cooking water, about a tablespoon at a time, we don’t want to much liquid.


Divide the pasta amongst 4 service plates and garnish each with some of the chopped parsley as both a garnish and as a flavouring, not too much as we don’t want to overwhelm the subtle flavour of the lemon sauce.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pasta alla Norma

Pasta alla Norma
(Spaghetti with Eggplant and Basil)
serves 4


1 medium eggplants (about 1 pound each), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoons coarse kosher salt plus additional for cooking pasta
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
½ cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled and micro-planed
1/4 to 1 teaspoon dry red pepper flakes, to taste
1 14 ½ - ounce cans crushed tomatoes and juice, San Marzano prefered
1 pound pasta, your choice
½ cup torn fresh basil leaves
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Kosher or sea salt, to taste

*A salted, dry ricotta cheese; available at some supermarkets, Italian markets, and specialty foods stores.


1.  Place eggplant cubes in a colander over a dish or bowl and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons kosher or sea salt to reduce bitterness, let drain for about 20 minutes.  Rinse with cold water to remove excess salt and pat dry, set aside.

2.  Meanwhile,  heat  1 tablespoon of olive oil to a heavy, large skillet and heat oil over high heat. Working in 3 batches, cook eggplant until browned on all sides, adding 1 tablespoon olive oil for each batch as needed, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, remove each batch as they cook to a plat.  When the last batch finishes cooking remove the sauteed eggplant  from the skillet to a holding plate.

3.  Return the skillet to the stove and  heat 2 tablespoons oil  in it over medium heat.  Add the chopped onions and micro-planed garlic and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the crushed red pepper flakes and the tomatoes including their juice.  Cook until the tomatoes are softened, about 15 minutes.  add the removed, cooked eggplant and the tomato sauce to the skillet and stir to combine and reheat.  Lower the heat to keep the sauce warm.

4.  Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti al dente according to package directions, about 10 minute. Drain reserving 1 cup pasta cooking water.  

5.  Bring the sauce to a gentle boil. Add the spaghetti and basil to sauce and toss to coat.   If the sauce seems too tight (dry) add the reserved pasta cooking water, a little at a time, until the pasta is as loose (wet) as you prefer.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer pasta to bowl; top with ricotta salata and serve.

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