Sunday, June 7, 2015

Lasagna Bolognese

Lasagna Bolognese
serves 6
                                                                                                                                                                                                     prep time:  15 minutes
                                                                       sauce cook time: 2 hours 30 minutes
                                                                       Lasagna bake time:  35 minutes
                                                                       total time: 3 hours 20 minutes


Bolognese sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, 1/4 –inch chop
1 carrot, ¼-inch dice
1 celery stalk, ¼-inch dice
2 ounces pancetta or bacon, cut into small cubes
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
1 pound ground beef
1 cup red wine
1 (28-ounce) cans San Marzano tomatoes, hand crushed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup whole milk

Besciamella sauce:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, to taste
dash freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons butter, quartered, to butter the baking dish
uncooked Lasagna noodles

prepare the Bolognese sauce:

Create a soffritto by sauteing the onion, carrots, and celery in the olive oil in a large sauce pot over medium heat until soft.  Add the raw bacon to the soffritto and cook for about 7 to 10 minutes.

Add the meat; breaking it up well with a wooden spoon and stirring until all the ground meat is browned.  

Add the red pepper flakes and the parsley and cook for just 1 minute.

Drain off excess oil from the cooked meat.

Return the pot to the flame and add the wine, continue cooking until the alcohol is evaporated and the pot has been deglazed by scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes.

If you like your tomato sauce smooth pulse the tomatoes smooth in a food processor but remember true Italians prefer their sauce slightly chunky.

Add the tomatoes to the meat, season generously with salt and pepper and cook the sauce, over a medium flame partially covered for about 2 ½  hours, stirring occasionally. 

After 2 ½ hours finish the sauce by adding the whole milk, stir well and set aside, to cool off.

prepare the Besciamella sauce:

In a small pot, warm the 2 cups of milk.

In an appropriately sized pot over medium heat melt the butter 

Create a blonde roux by stirring the flour into the butter with a wooden spoon.  The roux is done when it loses all its flour taste.

Gradually ladle the warm milk into the pot with the butter/flour mixture, whisking constantly while bringing the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano, stirring constantly until it is thoroughly incorporated. 

Season the sauce with freshly grated nutmeg, salt and pepper and additional Parmigiano-Reggiano to taste.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

bring it all together:

Coat a 9 by 13-inch baking dish well with the tablespoon of butter and add a very thin layer of the Bolognese sauce.

Add the first layer of lasagna noodles and in order, evenly distribute some of the Bolognese sauce, about 3 ladles Besciamella, and a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. 

Repeat the process until you to create 3 layers. 

Top the lasagna with a final ladle of meat sauce and the remaining Besciamella, dot with a few squares of butter and finish with some additional shredded Parmesan.

bake the Lasagna:

Place the lasagna in the preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes.
Crisp the top of your lasagna by turning the oven to broil and broil the lasagna for about 5 minutes.


Allow the lasagna to set for about 15 minutes, slice into 6 servings and serve accompanied by grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, crusty Italian bread and a side salad.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Shrimp Creole

Shrimp Creole
servings 8

                                                                            prep time:   5 minutes
                                                                            cook time:  3 hours 10 minutes
                                                                             total time:  3 hours  15 minutes


Creole seasoning:

1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled

Creole sauce:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup diced green bell peppers
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup diced celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 (14-ounces) can tomatoes, hand crushed
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
½ tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Salt and pepper
Creole seasoning
2 bay leaves

the shrimp:

1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined shrimp


Green onions, for garnish


Preheat crock pot on high.

sauté the vegetables:

In sauté pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil to the ripple stage.

Add the green peppers, the onions, the garlic and the celery and sauté until the onions are translucent and softened.

Add the chili powder and sauté until the vegetables are coated and caramelized.

create the Creole sauce:

Remove the vegetable from heat and pour them into the crock pot. Add the tomatoes, the tomato paste, the red wine, the hot sauce, the Worcestershire, the sugars, and the salt and pepper.

Stir in the Creole seasoning add the bay leaves, place the cover on your crock pot and cook, covered, for 3 hours.

bring it all together:

Add the shrimp and continue cooking for about 3 minutes.


Serve over cooked  white rice. Top with chopped green onions.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Fungo Bolognese

Fungo Bolognese
(Mushroom Bolognese)
Makes 6 servings

                                                                                Prep time:  10 minutes
                                                                                Pasta Cook time: 10 minutes
                                                                                Sauce Cook time:  43 minutes
                                                                               Total time: 63 minutes


 1 pound pasta of choice, cooked al dente

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces of white and brown mushrooms
3/4 cup yellow onions, cut into ¼-inch dice
1/4 cup carrots, cut into ¼-inch dice
1/4 cup celery, cut into ¼-inch dice
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup Chianti wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (28-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes, hand crushed
1 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

Pecorino Romano, shaved with a vegetable peeler


prepare the sauce:

1.  In a large, high sided sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, onions, carrots, celery and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. 

2.  Add the Chianti and cook until reduced, about 3 minutes. 

3.  Add the tomato paste, salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

4.  Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened and fragrant, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. 

5.  Add the herbs to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning to taste. 

bring it all together:

Add the cooked pasta  to the sauce over low heat and toss to coat. Place in a large serving bowl, or divide among individual pasta bowls. Shave pecorino over the pasta.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Braciole for two or more

Braciole for two or more
(serves 2 or more)
                                                              prep time:15 minutes
                                                              cook time: up to 3 hours
                                                              total time:  up to 3 hours 15 minutes


2  ¼ pound beef cutlets , (beef top round sliced thin (1/4-inch) into cutlets)
the stuffing (for 2 Bracioli):
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup raisins
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons bacon grease
sauce (for 2 Braciole):
extra virgin olive oil
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup Chianti wine
2 cups San Marzano tomatoes, hand crushed
5 bay leaves

prepare the cutlets:

Pound the beef cutlets with the tenderizer side of a meat hammer and set aside.

prepare the stuffing:

In an appropriately sized bowl combine the stuffing ingredients tossing to insure even distribution.

stuff the braciole:

Divide the stuffing mixture evenly over each cutlet, don’t get too close to the edges.

Roll up each cutlet, jelly roll style, and tie with butcher's twine to secure and to make a roll. Sprinkle each roll with salt and pepper.

fry the braciole:

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the beef rolls and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate once the braciole are browned.

prepare the sauce:

Add a little more olive oil to the pan and add the carrots and onions and sauté until tender and the onions are translucent. 

Add the wine and simmer for a minute or so, and then scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.  Continue the simmering until the wine is reduced by half.

Stir in the crushed tomatoes and bay leaves. Bring back to a simmer, add the braciole back into the pot and cover with a lid. 

Cook on low, turning the rolls occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and the meat begins to fall apart 2 1/2 to 3 hours, remove the bay leaves.

Remove the braciole from the pan and cut an discard the cooking twin.  Slice each braciole into 1-inch slices and plate for each dinner.

Top the slices with the sauce and serve with crusty bread and a glass of good red wine.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Ham and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich

Ham and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich
serves 2
                                                       total time: 10 minutes


1 ciabatta or rustic bread
3 tablespoons Basil Pesto, or to taste
6 slices ham
4 round slice provolone
3 large pieces roasted red peppers
1 tomato, sliced
Kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
shredded lettuce, to taste
aged balsamic vinegar, to taste


build the sandwich:

1.  Slice the ciabatta bread in half horizontally.  

2. Spread about 1 ½ tablespoons of the pesto on each of the ciabatta halves.  Place 3 slices of the ham on each half, top that with 2 slices of provolone and  follow that with the three roasted red peppers. Add the tomato slices on the bottom half of the ciabatta, sprinkle the tomato slices with salt and black pepper, top with the shredded lettuce.  Finally drizzle the aged balsamic over the lettuce to your taste.

3.  Join the two halves of the ciabatta.


Slice the sandwich in half and serve one half to each person.

Rustic Bread

Rustic Bread
makes 2 10 by 6-inch loaves

                                                                               prep time:  2 hours 20 minutes
                                                                               bake time:    30 minutes
                                                                               total time:  2 hours 50 minutes


for the sponge:

1 teaspoon instant (rapid-rise) yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup water, at room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour

for the dough:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon instant (rapid-rise) yeast
¾ cup water, at room temperature
¼ cup whole or 2% milk, at room temperature


create a sponge: 

Combine the yeast, honey and water in a 1 cup measuring cup.  Place the flour into the bowl of your stand mixer, add the yeast/honey/water mixture and turn on the mixer on low, stir until a uniform mass forms. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

create the bread dough:

Add the dough ingredients (flour, salt, yeast, water and milk) into the bowl your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. 

Begin by mixing on low speed until the sponge and the dough ingredients are combined and a soft dough forms, about 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. 

Increase the speed to medium and continue mixing until the dough becomes a uniform mass that collects on the dough hooks and pulls away from the sides of the bowl and is  smooth and shiny (the dough will be very sticky), about 10 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a large lightly oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

first knead of the dough:

Remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and knead it by folding the dough over itself and folding the edge of the dough toward the middle. Turn the dough 90° and repeat the fold. Turn the dough and repeat the folding/kneading 6 more times (for a total of 8 times).
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.

second knead of the dough:

Repeat the kneading as in the first knead step.  Replace the plastic wrap, and let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

preheat your oven:

One hour before baking, adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position, place a baking stone on the rack and preheat the oven to 450° F.

prepare the loaves:

Cut two 12 x 6-inch pieces of parchment paper and place them on a cookie sheet,  dust both liberally with flour. 

Carefully transfer the dough to a floured work surface, taking care to deflate it as little as possible. 

Liberally flour the top of the dough and divide it in half with a bench scraper. Turn one of the dough halves cut-side-up and dust it with flour. 

With well-floured hands, press this half into a rough 12 x 6-inch rectangle. Fold the shorter sides of the dough toward center, overlapping them like you would fold a piece of paper in thirds, to form a 7 x 4-inch rectangle. Repeat this process with the second piece of dough.

Gently transfer each loaf, seam-side-down, to the parchment sheets, dust with flour, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the loaves to proof at room temperature for 30 minutes (the surface of the loaves should develop small bubbles).

bake the ciabatta loaves:

Carefully slide the pieces of parchment with the loaves on them onto a pizza peel.
Using floured fingertips, form the loaves, by pressing them, into 10 x 6-inch rectangles; spray the loaves lightly with water. 

Slides the loaves still on the parchment onto the baking stone. 

Bake, spraying the loaves with water twice more during the first 5 minutes of baking time, until the crust is deep golden brown, about 22 to 27 minutes.

cool the loaves and serve:

Transfer the freshly baked loaves to a wire rack, discarding the parchment, and let cool to room temperature for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Sausage and Peppers Marsala

Sausage and Peppers Marsala
serves 4 to 6
                                                                                 Prep time:  15 minutes
                                                                                 Cook time: 40 minutes


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 6 sweet or hot Italian sausage
2 green bell peppers, sliced
2 yellow onions, sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup Marsala wine
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
2 to 6 fresh Italian sandwich rolls

1/4 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan


brown the sausage:

In a large, heavy skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausages and cook until brown on both sides, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain.

sauté the vegetables:

In the same pan over medium heat, add the sliced peppers, sliced onions, salt and black pepper and cook until the onions are golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Add the oregano, basil, and garlic and cook 2 more minutes.

create the sauce:

Add the tomato paste to the onions and peppers and stir.

Add the Marsala wine, tomatoes, and chili flakes.  Stir to combine, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release and incorporate all the browned bits and bring the sauce to a simmer.

bring it all together:

Cut each of the sausages into 4 to 6 pieces each, each about 1-inch. Add the sausages and any liquid that may have accumulated back into the pan stirring to insure the sausages thoroughly combine with 
the sauce. 

Continue to cook at a simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes.


Split the rolls in half lengthwise and hollow out the bread from the bottom side of each roll, being careful not to puncture the crust. Fill the bottom half of the roll with sausage mixture. Top with cheese and the roll top and serve sandwiches immediately.  

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Bistecca Pizziola
serves 6
                                                                     prep time:                     5 minutes
                                                                     sauce cook time:        10 minutes
                                                                     scallopini cook time:    6 minutes
                                                                     bake time:                  20 minutes
                                                                     total time:                   41 minutes


4 tender, thin beef cutlets (boneless rib steak, or sirloin), about 1/4 inch thick
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Spicy spaghetti sauce, recipe follows
1 1 pound  ball fresh mozzarella (mozzarella di bufala), sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
12 large fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

Spicy Spaghetti Sauce with Capers:

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 16-ounce cans tomatoes (preferably San Marzano), hand crushed
1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
1 cup red wine, Chianti or burgundy
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 large (or quantity to your taste) fresh basil leaves roughly torn


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. 

prepare the spicy spaghetti sauce:

1.  Coat a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of the oil and warm over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until soft.   Be careful not to burn the garlic, if it burns throw it out and start over.
2.  Add the crushed tomatoes, the capers, the red wine, red pepper flakes and sugar; season with salt and pepper to taste. 
3.  Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the roughly torn basil leaves and the remaining olive oil.  
4.  Correct seasoning with salt, freshly ground black pepper and red pepper flakes.  

prepare the beef cutlets:

Pound out the cutlets until they are 1/8 inch thick and give them a few whacks with the tenderizing side of the mallet. Season the cutlets on both sides with salt and pepper. 

sauté the cutlets:

Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add the beef in batches and sear on both sides, 1 and 2 minutes per side. Remove the first batch from the pan and place in a high-sided cookie sheet or baking dish while you work on the next batch. 

bring it all together:

Once all the beef cutlets have been sautéed and arranged on the cookie sheet, ladle the Spicy Spaghetti Sauce with Capers over the meat to cover, and place 2 slices of mozzarella on each steak. Bake just until the mozzarella is melted and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes.


Serve 1 beef scallopini to each diner and dress each serving with some of the chiffonade  basil leaves either chiffonade or hand-torn pieces on top of each cutlet and accompany by a side salad or pasta.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cincinnati Chili Dog

Cincinnati Chili Dog
serves 4
Cincinnati-style chili is an enduring American classic that I first tasted in the Cincinnati airport while on a business trip and Coney dogs (New York style chili dogs) are something I grew up eating so it just seemed naturally to combine the two.. 

                                                                Prep time:                            10 minutes
                                                                Polish sausage cook time:     7 minutes
                                                                Sauce cook time:                 30 minutes
                                                                Total time:                           47 minutes


Cincinnati chili (makes about 3 cups):
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1 1/4 teaspoons granular garlic
1 tablespoon dehydrated onion
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 dried bay leaf
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper,  to taste
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder


4 Polish sausages
4 hot dog buns
½ cup finely grated cheddar cheese
½ cup chopped onion


brown the beef:

In a 12 inch sauté pan over medium high heat, bring oil to the ripple stage.  Add the ground beef and cook, stirring, until it begins to brown.

build the sauce:

Add the granulated garlic, dehydrated onion, chili powder, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, cumin, oregano, nutmeg, celery seed, bay leaf, salt and pepper, then cook, stirring occasionally, 1 minute. Tilt skillet, spoon out any accumulated fat and discard. Add the tomato sauce, cocoa powder, and water and then bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, partially covered, until somewhat thick, about 25 minutes.   Taste and correct seasoning.

grill the Polish dogs:

Place the dogs on the grill or griddle (or a large frying pan) and cook the sausages, turning them occasionally, until they are cooked through and the skin is slightly crisp.


Place one sausage on each of the split, open hot dog buns and spoon a generous portion of the chili sauce over each sausage and top each with some chopped onion and cheddar cheese.  Serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Slow Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage
(serve 8)
                                                                         prep time:    10 minutes
                                                                         cook time:    6 hours
                                                                         total time:     6 hours 10 minutes


corned beef:

1 3 to 4 pound corned beef with seasoning packet
1 medium head of cabbage, cut into 4 to 6 wedges
2 to 3 large potatoes cut into wedges
2 large onions, peeled and quartered
8 ounces baby carrots
½ cup butter, cut into small cubes


commercial horseradish sauce
prepared horseradish (to add to the usually bland commercial sauce to spice it up)


the corned beef:

1.  Place the corned beef, fat side down, in the bowl of you slow cooker.
2.  Remove the seasoning from the seasoning packet and place them in your mortar and, using the pestle, slightly crush them.  Don’t completely grind them up you just want them crushed to release their essential oils.
3.  Sprinkle the crushed seasoning on the corned beef in the bowl.  Cover the beef and seasoning with cold water, place the cover on the crock pot and turn it to high.
4.  Cook the corned beef on high for the first hour, then continue cooking for 10-12 hours on low or 5-6 hours on high.

the vegetables:

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Arrange the cabbage wedges on the bottom of a baking dish and arrange the other vegetables over the wedges.  Distribute the butter cubes over the vegetables and  sprinkle with Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Bake until the potato wedges and carrots are tender and cooked through, about 30 minutes.


Arrange the cooked vegetables on a service platter.  Shred or slice the corn beef and arrange it on the platter.  Serve accompanied by the horseradish sauce and the prepared horseradish for those that like the sauce spicier.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Guinness Braised Short Ribs with Noodles
Serves 8
                                                                               prep time:  20 minutes
                                                                               cook time:  5 to 7 hours
                                                                               total time:   5 to 7 hours 20 minutes


4 pounds bon-in short ribs
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
freshly grated black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 cups beef broth
1 ½ cup (1 bottle) Guinness Extra Stout
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon dried thyme
16 ounces baby carrots
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
4 tablespoons corn starch

1 pound egg noodles, prepared according to package instructions


brown the ribs:

1.  Blot the ribs dry with paper towels.  Sprinkle the ribs liberally with salt and black pepper on both sides.

2.  Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Brown the ribs on all sides, in batches if necessary, about 8 to 10 minutes.  When thoroughly browned remove the ribs to you waiting slow cooker.

prepare the braising liquid:

Add the chopped onions and sauté for about 2 minutes stirring often.   Add the broth, 1 cup of the beer, the sugar and the thyme to the onions in the skillet and bring to a boil.  When the liquid comes to a boil pour it and the onions over the beef ribs in the slow cooker, cover and turn the slow cooker on to high.  Cook on High for 5 hours or on Low for 7 hours.

bring it all together:

1.  In a 1 cup measuring cup whisk together the remaining ½ cup of beer, ¼ teaspoon each of salt and black pepper and the tomato paste, brown mustard and corn starch.

2.  After the ribs have cooked for 3 ½ hours (for high) or 5 ½ hours (for low) add the baby carrots to the slow cooker, recover and continue cooking for the remaining 1 ½ hours.

finish the braise:

After the appropriate cook time is completed stir in the thickening mixture in the measuring to the slow cooker, replace the cover and cook 15 minutes more or until the sauce is thickened.  If the sauce does not thicken make a slurry of 1 tablespoon corn starch and 1 tablespoon cold water and stir it  into the sauce and cook another 15 minutes or until the sauce thickens.


Serve over buttered egg noodles.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Fettuccine Gorgonzola

Fettuccine Gorgonzola 
serves 4
                                                                                 Prep time: 10 minutes
                                                                                 Pasta cook time:  10 minutes
                                                                                 Sauce cook time: 15 minutes
                                                                                 Total time: 35 minutes


1 pound Fettuccine Noodles
Alfredo Sauce:
1 pint heavy cream
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 to 1 ½ cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano Cheese
1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons of chopped fresh Italian flat-leafed parsley, for garnish

4 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola cheese


cook the pasta:

Cook the pasta according to package directions to al dente.

Alfredo Sauce:

1.  Meanwhile, in a medium sauté pan heat heavy cream over medium to medium-low heat, do not allow the cream to boil or it will break.  Add the butter and whisk gently to melt the butter and combine it with the cream.

2.  Add the peas (if used) and stir to distribute.

3.  Sprinkle in the sprinkle in the Parmesan cheese and stir to incorporate, if the sauce doesn't begin to thicken add a little more cheese. Season the sauce with freshly grated nutmeg to taste.

bring it all together:

1.  When the pasta reaches the al dente stage, reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water and thoroughly drain the pasta and add it to the sauté pan containing the Alfredo sauce.  Reduce the heat to low and  gently toss the noodles to coat with the sauce.  

2.  Add the Gorgonzola and gentle stir/toss it into the tossed pasta, add some of the reserved pasta cooking water (a tablespoon at a time) if the sauce is too "tight" (thick) for your tastes to "loosen” it up (make it more liquid).  Be careful not to overdo the loosening as this sauce is supposed to be rich and creamy.  

3.  Finally turn the heat off and add the sliced/torn Prosciutto (if used) and gently toss to distribute, you are not trying to cook the Prosciutto.  


Transfer the coated pasta to a warm serving bowl and top with more grated cheese and garnish with the chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

*note: 1/4 cup of roasted red peppers, 1/3 pound of Prosciutto di Parma sliced into thin strips, or 1/4 cup of petite green peas (or a combination) can be tossed with the sauced pasta to create an interesting variation on the  theme. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Jumbo Stuffed Shells for Two

Jumbo Stuffed Shells for Two
Serves 2
Stuffed shells  is one of those pricey Italian Restaurant standbys that are easily prepared at home. This is an interpretation that my family particularly enjoy, it takes a little time due if you  use of homemade tomato sauce but the result is worth it, if you’re in a hurry any good commercial spaghetti sauce will do.   
                                                                             Prep time:  15 minutes
                                                                             Pasta cook time:  10 minutes
                                                                             Bake time: 29 minutes
                                                                             Total time: 54  minutes


16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, shredded through the course side of a hand grater, divided use
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese, divided use
1 beaten egg
1 teaspoon dried parsley or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

14 large shell pasta
1 cup Arrabbiata sauce (see recipe) or commercial spaghetti sauce, plus additional for service at the table


1.  Preheat oven to 400º F.

2.  Prepare the jumbo shells following package directions for al dente. 

3.  In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, beaten egg, Parmesan, Mozzarella, parsley, nutmeg and salt and pepper until thoroughly blended.

4.  Coat the bottom of each individual baking dish with 3 tablespoons of sauce.  Drain the shells and when they are cool enough to handle fill, one at a time, each of the shells with one heaping tablespoon of the ricotta mixture and place the stuffed shell into the sauced baking dish and repeat until each dish hold 7 jumbo shells.

5.  When both baking dishes contain 7 stuffed jumbo shells place ½ cup of the tomato sauce over the stuffed shells then sprinkle ½ of the remaining Parmesan cheese over that followed by ½ the remaining mozzarella. 

6.  Place the baking dishes in the preheated oven and bake for about 29 minutes or until the top is nicely browned.  Remove dishes from the oven and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before serving accompanied by additional sauce.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Muffeletta Sandwich
Serves 4
The sandwich, which originated in New Orleans, is named after the round, crusty Sicilian loaf.  While variety of ingredients can go into making the olive salad (the recipe we use was created by mom after a trip to New Orleans), this is one sandwich which should never be served hot. 


 olive salad:

1 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, chopped
½ cup drained Kalamata olives, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
2 tablespoons drained capers
1 celery stalk, chopped
½ cup peperoncini, drained and chopped
¼ cup marinated cocktail onions, roughly chopped
½ teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
Coarse Kosher salt
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¾ cup olive oil


8 ounces thinly sliced Genoa salami
8 ounces of pepperoni
8 ounces thinly sliced cooked ham
8 ounces sliced mortadella
8 ounces sliced Swiss cheese
8 ounces sliced provolone cheese

4  muffeletta loaves or 7-inch, round Italian bread, sliced in half horizontally and with some of the excess bread hollowed out of the top to make room for the olive salad

*while these are the traditional meats and amounts you can use any cold cuts and amounts of your preference.

olive salad:

1.  In a medium bowl, mix together the olives, garlic, capers, celery, peperoncini, cocktail onions, celery seed, oregano, basil, vinegar, olive oil.   Correct seasoning with black pepper and salt.

2.  Transfer the mixture into a covered glass jar (or other covered, nonreactive container), if needed, pour in more oil to cover the mixture, and refrigerate at least overnight.

sandwich construction:

1.  To assemble the sandwich, layer 'bottom half' of each loaf with ¼ of meats and cheeses. Top the meats and cheeses on each “bottom half” with ¼ of the olive salad and place 'top half' on each loaf. 

2.  To serve immediately cut each sandwich in half to make them easier to manage, or wrap tightly in butcher paper and refrigerate for a few hours; allowing the flavours to mingle and the olive salad to soak into the bread and when ready to serve unwrap each sandwich and cut each in half to make them easier to manage.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Jo's Great Texas Red Chili

Jo’s Great Texas Red Chili
Makes about 3½ quarts
                                                                            Prep time:   20 minutes
                                                                            Cook time:  3 hours  
                                                                            Total time:  3 hours 20 minutes


¼ pound suet, finely chopped
6 lbs. of lean beef, coarsely cubed into 1/4-inch pieces
1 cup chili powder (about 4½ ounces)
2 tablespoons crushed cumin seeds or ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground oregano
2 tablespoons salt
1 to 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 quarts beef stock or canned beef broth
½ cup masa harina or cornmeal
½ cup cold water


1.  Fry suet in a stock pot or kettle until crisp.
2,  Brown the beef, about 1 lb. at a time, remove each lb. as it browns.

3.  When all beef is browned, return it to the pot.  Add all the seasonings and the beef stock.  Cover and simmer for 1½ - 2 hours.  Skim off any fat that rises to the surface.

4.  Combine masa harina or cornmeal with the cold water and stir the mixture into the chili.  Insure that the water/corn meal mixture is thoroughly incorporated into the chili. 

5.  Simmer for 30 minutes more until Chile thickens.

Serve the chili accompanied by tortillas, chopped onion and cheddar cheese.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Spicy Chicken Sandwiches

Spicy Chicken Sandwiches with Chili Garlic Mayo
serves 6

                                                                                                                Prep time:  20 minutes
                                                                                                                Cook time:  20 minutes
                                                                                                                Total time: 40 minutes


1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, about 1 pound
1 cup AP flour
1 egg, beaten
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
½ to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup vegetable oil

Chili Garlic Mayo:

6 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 teaspoons Asian Chili Garlic Sauce (Rooster sauce)

6 King’s Hawaiian Hamburger Buns

suggested toppings:
shredded lettuce
thinly sliced radishes
thinly sliced tomato

prepare the chicken breast:

1.  Slice the chicken breast in half or thirds, depending on the thickness of the breast.
2. One at a time, place each breast in a 1 gallon resealable plastic bag and pound each slice to about ¼-inch thick scallopini.
3.  Cut the scallopini into 6 smaller, bun sized scallopini.

bread and fry the chicken scallopini:

1.  Place the breadcrumbs, cheese and cayenne onto a plate and mix together to evenly distribute all the ingredients.  Place the beaten egg into another and the flour in a third.
2.  Set up a breading station by place the plates in the following order; first the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumb mixture.
3. Bread each scallopini by first dredging it in the flour, then into the egg, and finally into the breadcrumb mixture placing the breaded scallopini onto a holding plate.
4.  Place a large sauté pan over medium heat and, when the pan is hot, place the oil in it.  When the reaches the ripple state add two or three of the bread scallopini into the oil, do not over crowd, and fry until nicely browned on both sides, turning as necessary.
5.  As the scallopini brown, place onto a plate covered with a paper towel to drain off any excess oil.

prepare the Chili Garlic Mayo:

Place the mayonnaise and chili garlic sauce in a small container and mix together.


Place one scallopini on the lower half of each bun spread some of the Chili Garlic Mayo on each scallopini and top, if desired, with one of the suggested toppings or toppings of your choice.

Monday, February 16, 2015


(Beet and Red Cabbage Soup)
Serves 4 to 6

                                                                             Prep Time:   40 minutes
                                                                             Cook Time: 1 hour
                                                                             Total Time:  1 hour 40 minutes


3 lbs. red beets, tops remove, scrubbed thoroughly
64 ounces beef broth plus 24 ounces of water
1 large yellow onions, peeled and chopped
1 cup shredded carrots
3 cups red cabbage, shredded
3 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or to taste
¼ cup honey

sour cream as an accompaniment

prepare the beets:

1.  Place beets in a LARGE pot and add beef broth and cold water to cover the beets to 3 or 4 times their height.  The larger the pot the less the chance of the beet liquid boiling over and dying your clothes and stove top red.  

2.  Bring the liquid to a rolling boil and boil the beets until they are cooked (tender).  About 15-25 minutes.  

3.  When the beets are cooked remove them from the cooking liquid ( RETAIN THE COOKING LIQUID, this will become the beet broth).   Allow the beets to cool and, when cooled enough to handle comfortably, peel the beets and julienne them (this is a messy job so be prepared!).

bring it all together:

1.  Strain the cooking liquid through several layers of cheesecloth into a container.  Clean the pot (or use another pot) to remove any grit that may have settled out of the cooking beets.  Pour the cooking liquid into the pot and bring it to a boil.

2.  Add the onions, julienned beets, shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, salt, red wine vinegar, honey and salt.  After a few minutes, taste and correct seasoning adding additional salt, vinegar or honey to 

3.  Lower heat to a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour.  


Serve hot with sour cream on the side for diners to dollop into the soup.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Mushroom and Madeira Crostini
makes 6 crostini

6 1-inch thick slices of Italian bread
2 or 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon butter
6 to 8 medium sized mushrooms, sliced
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon of thyme, finely chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chicken broth
1/4 cup Madeira wine

toast the bread:
1.   Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

2.  Brush both sides of each slice of bread with some of the olive oil and place on a cookie.    Place cookie sheet in oven and toast bread until the side up begins to brown and becomes crispy.

3.  Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and rub the crusty side of each slice of  bread with the peeled garlic and turn each slice with over.

4.  Continue toasting the bread until this side of the bread begins to  brown and becomes crispy.  Remove the cookie sheet from the oven.

sauté the mushrooms:

1.  Heat butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  When the butter is completely melted and the mushrooms and sauté, unmolested until the mushroom slices begin to soften and brown slightly.

2.  Sprinkle with salt and a few grindings of freshly ground black pepper.  Add the minced garlic and thyme and continue sautéing for 1 or 2 minutes.

3.  Add the chicken broth and Madeira wine, raise the heat under the pan to high and reduce the liquid by half and is thickened.

bring it all together:

Spoon some of the mushrooms and liquid over each of the toasted slices of bread and serve immediately.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Zuppa di Pasta e Fagoli

Zuppa di Pasta e Fagoli
(Italian White Bean Soup)
serves 8
In my family Pasta e Fagoli comes in two varieties, the one I grew up with which more resembles a macaroni sauced with a thick, starchy bean sauce and this version which is an actual soup.
                                                                                      Prep time: 20 minutes
                                                                                      Cook time: 40 minutes
                                                                                      Total time: 1 hour


                                  ¾ to 1 cup Maccheroncelli or Ditalini pasta (small tube shaped macaroni)

                                  1 tablespoon bacon grease
                                  1/4-cup extra-virgin olive oil
                                  2 carrots, finely diced, about 1/4-inch
                                  1 onion, finely diced, about 1/4-inch
                                  2 ribs of celery, finely diced, about 1/4-inch
                                  1 - 15 1/2 ounce cans of cannellini beans, including liquid
                                  2 15 ½ ounces of chicken broth
                                  2 cloves garlic, micro-planed
                                  2-tablespoons parsley leaves, finely chopped
                                  1 bay leaf
                                  1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
                                  Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

                                  grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
                                  crusty Italian or French bread


1.  In a large pasta pot bring a large volume of salted water to a rapid boil over high heat.  When the water comes to a rolling boil toss in the pasta and cook until the pasta is al dente.  

2.  While the pasta is cooking and in a separate 3 quart pot (large enough to accommodate both the pasta and the beans and sauce you are preparing), heat the bacon grease and oil over medium heat. Add the diced carrot, diced onion, diced celery, the garlic, parsley, red pepper flakes, and cook over medium heat until the vegetables become tender, do not allow the onions to brown.

3.  When the vegetables become tender, add the beans and their liquid and the drained, al dente pasta to the pot while gently stirring to evenly distribute both.  Fill the empty bean can with the chicken broth and stir the broth around so it can absorb any of the thick cannellini liquid clinging to the inside of the cans. Add the chicken broth and the bay leaf, lower the heat to simmer and simmer the Pasta e Fagoli, covered for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

4.   Adjust seasoning with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.  


Serve immediately either "family style" in one large bowl OR divided evenly among warmed, individual soup bowls and accompanied by additional extra-virgin olive oil to drizzle, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese,  red pepper flakes, and crusty Italian or French bread. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Neapolitan Calzone

Neapolitan Calzone
serves 2 
                                                                              Prep time:  1 hour  5 minutes
                                                                Bake time:  8 minutes
                                                                              Total time:  1 hour 13 minutes


Pizza Dough:

                    11 ounces (about 2 cups) bread flour, plus additional for work surface
                           .16 ounces active dry yeast (1 ¼ tsp)
                          .16 ounces Kosher or sea salt (1 tsp)
                          7 ounces warm (105 ° F) water
                          .2 ounces honey (2 tbsp)
                          1 ounces extra-virgin olive oil (2 tbsp)

note: to make more than one pizza the bakers ratio is: flour=100%, water=67%, honey=2%, yeast=1.5%, salt=1.5%, and olive oil= 5% or simply multiply the ingredients by the number of pizzas you want to make


  7 ounces Ricotta cheese
                                          5 2-inch x 1/2 inch thick slices fresh Mozzarella
                                      2 tablespoons shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
                         4 or 5 3 1/4-inch slices imported salami
                               4 or 5 3 1/4-inch slices imported pepperoni
           8 large basil leaves, divided use

           3  or 4 tablespoons tomato sauce


Pizza Dough:

1.  In the bowl of your stand mixer combine the flour, yeast and salt and whisk these ingredients until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.  Combine the warm water, honey and oil in a measuring cup and turn on the mixer, fitted with dough hooks, to low and add the liquid. 

2.  As the dough begins coming together raise the speed to high and continue mixing (kneading) until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and forms a rough ball around the mixing hook and there isn’t any dry flour visible (scrap the sides of the bowl to move flour into the path of the hooks as needed).  If the dough doesn’t come together, add additional water (if the dough appears too dry) or flour (if the dough appears too wet) 1 tablespoon at a time until it does.

3.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured, flat work surface and knead until smooth but still slightly tacky (add flour gradually as needed to reach the slightly tacky state) adding a little flour if it is too sticky, about 5 minutes.

4.  Lightly oil a large mixing bowl with about 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to oil the ball on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours* .

*note: if you are making multiple pizzas, after the dough has doubled in size divide the dough into equal sized portions for immediate use or place each portion in its own resealable bag for maturing. 


1.  Place an appropriately sized pizza stone on the top shelf of your oven and pre-heat the oven to 550° F or as high as your oven will go, to attain the highest temperature allow the oven to preheat for at least 1 hour.

2.  Place the risen dough ball on a flat, lightly floured work surface and flatten it into a disk, then with your fingertips  and palms, press the disk into a thinner disk of dough approximately 10 to 14-inches round and 1/8-inch thick by stretching and rotating the disk [don’t worry if the pizza isn't perfectly round ].   

3.  Distribute some flour or corn meal over the surface of a pizza peel (this will act as “ball bearings” and allow the dough round to move easily over the surface of the peel).

4.  Spread the Ricotta in a strip about 14-inches long and about 3 1/2-inches wide below the center line of the disk, follow this by distributing the mozzarella slices across this strip, then distribute the Parmigiano on top of that followed by the salami slices and the pepperoni slices and finally evenly distribute 5 of the basil leaves.

5.  Fold the top half of the disk over the lower half and then with a pizza cutter or sharp knife trim the dough, leaving about a 1-inch border, so that the remaining dough forms a half moon shape.   Now fold the excess dough (the 1-inch border) over itself pressing it to seal.

6.  Carefully transport the half-moon shaped calzone to the corn meal covered peel (for ease of sliding the calzone onto the stone place it close to the far edge of the peel).  Spoon the tomato sauce onto the top of the calzone (take care not to get any of the sauce on the peel as this will cause the calzone to stick to the peel and make it difficult to slide it onto the stone).  Lastly,  pierce the top of the calzone 3 or 4 times and distribute the remaining basil leaves on top of the calzone.

7.  Slide the calzone off the peel onto the stone and bake for about 7 to 8 minutes until the dough is fully cooked and the crust  appears slightly chard.


Slice the calzone in half and serve half to each dinner.

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