Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Crespelle alla Romana

Here is a dish that is great to make out of leftovers. Anytime I make a big batch of ricotta cheese I always like to find different ways to use it up whether it be through sweet or savory applications. In this case I have used it for crespelle or crepes. In this recipe I have taken a Roman approach to the dish by combining the ricotta with pecorino romano cheese, mozzarella & the famed guanciale(cured pork cheeks) of Lazio. This is a very simple dish that is all about the ingredients. Sub par ingredients will yield a sub par dish, so take the time to make it right. This serves as a great primi(pasta course) to some roasted meat like a veal chop or pork roast.

TT = to taste

Crespelle - Makes 12:
1 cup AP Flour, sifted
3 Eggs
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups milk
2T melted butter

Whisk together flour, eggs, salt & milk
whisk in butter
let rest for 30 half hour
Use a ladle and our a small amount of the batter into a non stick skillet over medium heat
cook on one side for 45 seconds to a minute
flip and cook on other side for 20 seconds
transfer to parchment lined tray

Ricotta - Makes a little over 4 cups:
1 Gallon Whole Milk
1 Quart buttermilk
1 Pint Heavy Cream
1t salt

Bring all ingredients to a boil over med-low heat
let stand for 20 minutes
pour through cheesecloth lined strainer
let rest for 20 minutes
transfer to airtight container & refrigerate
Keeps for 1 week

3 cups ricotta
1 cup guanciale cut into matchsticks and cooked till crispy (substitute pancetta or bacon)
5 garlic cloves thinly sliced, and cooked in rendered guanciale fat until lightly browned
1 Fresh Mozzarella Ball, grated
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano (substitute parmigiano reggiano)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1T Coarse ground black pepper
1T Chopped fresh rosemary
1T fresh thyme
TT Grated Nutmeg

Drain ricotta for an hour
preheat oven to 450F
Put ricotta into stainless steel bowl
stir ricotta vigorously for 1 minute with wooden spoon to make creamy and pliable
fold in remaining ingredients until well combined
put about 1/4-1/3 cup of filling in each crepe
fold over and press in to half moon shape
repeat with remaining crespelle
there should be some filling left over ( around a half cup maybe a little more)
Shingle crespelle in butter lined baking dish (3 8x8 pyrex dishes or 2 9x13 pyrex dishes)
top with crumbled filling and grated pecorino romano cheese
bake in oven until nice golden brown and crispy (around 20 minutes)
allow to cool slightly
garnish with some more grated pecorino cheese, and I like to garnish with a little olio santo( hot chili oil - optional)
serve immediately

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Linguine con le' Cozze, Finocchio, Olive e Tarocchi

Despite the cold winter months, there is still something good to make you forget about the weather. That is delicious citrus fruit. In this simple pasta dish I have used one of my favorite citrus fruits and one of my favorite vegetables in several ways to demonstrate different textures. They are then paired with one of my favorite types of shellfish to make one extremely delicious and harmonious pasta dish.

1# Linguine
1# Mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
3T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1T chili flakes
2t fennel seed
1/3# pitted Sicilian olives(or gaeta)
1 Fennel bulb, cored, 1/2 of it 1/4" slice & the other half shaved very thin (1/4cup Fennel Fronds reserved for garnish)
4 Blood Oranges, two cut in half & juiced and the other two segmented into supremes
1 1/2 cups White wine
2T cup grated buddha's hand
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
3T Blood Orange infused Olive Oil

Bring 6Qts of water to a boil
Add a handful salt to boiling water
Heat 3T extra virgin olive oil in large saute pan over medium heat
add 1/4" sliced fennel & chili and saute for 5 minutes
drop linguine into pasta water
add olives, garlic & fennel seed and saute for another 2 minutes
add mussels, wine & blood orange juice and cover and cook for 2 minutes until mussels open
Remove the mussels and set aside
when pasta is 1 minute from al dente remove from pasta water and add to the sauce
toss together for last minute
add any pasta water if needed to loosen the sauce
remove from heat and stir in buddha's hand zest, parsley, fennel fronds, blood orange segments, raw shaved fennel, mussels and blood orange oil
garnish with a bit more parsley and fennel fronds
serve immediately

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Maiale Arrosto con Verdure Invernale

This is a great winter month dish that would be perfect to serve at Christmas time or any other special occasion during this cold stretch. One of my favorite things to do with large roasts whatever the protein may be is to roast it with the vegetables so they pick up all that delicious flavor from the meat. For the vegetables, I have some local seasonal vegetables that can show you that you don't have to be scared about cooking vegetables especially when done in this easy manner. There is a fair amount of work to do upfront, but once the roast is in the oven, you can feel free to enjoy your company for a couple hours.

TT = to taste

For Meat:
1 Large Frenched Pork Loin Roast
TT Fleur de Sel, or Kosher Salt
TT Coarse Cracked Black Pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (Sage, Thyme, Rosemary)

For the Contorno/Vegetable:
2 Bunches Collard Greens, stems removed and large diced, leaves cut into 2" pieces
2 Bulbs Garlic, cut in half
1# Sunchokes/Jerusalem Artichokes, scrubbed and cut into 1" bite size pieces
1# Multi-colored Fingerling Potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1" bite size pieces
1# Parsnips, scrubbed and cut into 1" bite size pieces
1# Brussel Sprouts, any bad outer leaves removed
2 Sprigs Rosemary
2 Sprigs Sage
4 Sprigs Thyme
2 Cups White Wine
TT Salt
TT Black Pepper

Pull Pork Roast out of refrigerator
season liberally all over with salt and pepper
spread the fresh herbs all over the meat as well
press the seasonings into the meat so they stick
let rest at room temp for an hour
preheat oven to 250F
Heat 6T of Olive Oil in very large skillet on high
Once smoking, add the pork roast skin side down first and brown all over until nice and well caramelized
Once browned remove from pan and set aside
lower heat to medium
For below saute process, add oil as necessary if needed
Also season each vegetable with a little bit salt and pepper as you go
add the sunchokes & parsnips and saute for 5 minutes, then remove
add potatoes and saute for 3 minutes, then remove
add brussel sprouts and saute for 2 minutes, then remove
Add garlic bulbs and saute cut side down until golden brown, 2 minutes
add collard greens and saute for one minute, then remove
add the wine to pick up any leftover bits from the pan, and cook for one minute
In large roasting pan, put the collard greens in the middle to use as a bed
place the rest of the vegetables all around the greens
pour in the wine
place the pork roast on top of the collard greens
Scatter the herb sprigs around the vegetables
put an oven proof thermometer in the center of the roast and place the pan in the 250F preheated oven
Roast until the thermometer reaches 135-140F (Around 1 1/2 - 2hours)
Pull out of oven and allow to rest for 20 minutes
Remove the roast from the pan
stir the vegetables together
Carve the roast around each bone into chops
place the vegetables and the carved roast on a platter
sprinkle the pork chops with a little bit of fleur de sel and drizzle the pork and vegetables with some good extra virgin olive oil
Serve immediately
If you'd like, you can serve the pork with some whole grain mustard even though that is not very Italian yet is a nice condiment for the delicious chops

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Torta di Mele con Gelato Vaniglia

This is a classic delicious fall/winter recipe of warm apple tart with a very intense vanilla bean gelato. If you have a winter farmer's market around you can go there to score yourself some good apples and milk which will make all the difference in this simple recipe. This recipe makes 3 tarts yet plenty of gelato so you can adjust recipe accordingly if you like.

For the tart:
3 Granny Smith Apples
1/2 stick of butter
pinch of salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1t grated cinnamon stick
dash of grated nutmeg
5 cloves
1 sheet puff pastry, homemade or store bought
1 egg
sugar for dusting

For the gelato:
2 cups Whole milk, best quality
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
1T cornstarch
pinch of salt

make gelato
pour all of the milk except 2T into a sauce pan
add remaining 2T of milk to the cornstarch in separate container and mix together
add the sugar and the vanilla seeds and pod to the sauce pan
bring to a boil over med heat
add some of the hot milk to the cornstarch mixture and whisk together
add the cornstarch and milk mixture back to the hot cream and cook over medium low heat for 5 minutes until cream thickens slightly
add pinch of salt
remove from heat transfer to separate container
allow to cool at room temp for half hour
transfer to air tight container, cove rand refrigerate over night

next day
strain the vanilla pod out and transfer to ice cream machine and follow its instructions to complete
pull puff pastry out of freezer and allow to thaw for 40 minutes
peel and slice apples
heat butter in saute pan until just reaches brown butter stage
add brown sugar, apples, and spices
saute until apples are just tender, NOT FALLING APART
add pinch of salt
remove from heat and allow to cool
take the sheet of puff pastry and roll it out slightly
cut into 6 pieces
take three of the sheets and cut ovular shapes in the top to vent the tarts
place the cooled apple mixture on the bottom of side of the tart
cover with the vented layer
use a fork and press down to seal the edges
whisk the egg together and brush the top of the tarts with the egg wash
sprinkle the top lightly with sugar to help give it a little crust
place on a sheet pan lined with parchment and place in pre heated 400F oven and bake until nice and golden brown on the top 20-25 minutes
remove from oven and allow to cool slightly
scoop the vanilla gelato on top of the tart and serve immediately

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Linguine con Frutti di Mare

This is a classic seafood pasta dish that you would find cruising the Amalfi coast in Campagna or just about any southern Italian region for that matter. The addition of the buddha's hand citrus isn't really Italian, yet citrus fruits are king in southern Italy. Because of this fact, this unique citrus fruit lends a wonderful floral fragrance of lemon to the dish that is absolutely delicious. Buddha's hand is in season from about November to January. If you can't find that, you can always substitute fresh lemons or even lemon grass if you come across it. The main thing here is to season the dish simply and let the natural flavors of the sea shine through.

TT = to taste

1# Linguine
1/2# head on shrimp
1/2# snow crab claws
4T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
6 White anchovy fillets, chopped(about 2T worth)
1T Chili flakes
1/2 cup White Wine, sauvignon blanc
1/4 cup Flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2T Buddha's Hand zest
TT sea salt
TT fresh ground black pepper

Bring 6 Qts of water to boil
Drop in 3T sea salt
heat olive oil in large saute pan over med heat
add garlic, anchovies & chili flakes and saute for 2 minutes(garlic should be light brown, NOT Burnt!)
then add shrimp and crab claws and saute for 2 minutes
drop pasta in water, stir occasionally to keep from sticking together
add wine to saute pan with seafood and cook until reduced and seafood is cooked through
when pasta is 1 minute from al dente, remove from pasta water and add it to saute pan and toss & cook together for final minute
add grated buddha's hand and parsley
if needed add a little more pasta water to loosen the sauce
season with pepper and salt if needed to taste
pull off the heat and drizzle in a couple more tablespoons of best quality extra virgin olive oil
serve immediately

Friday, December 18, 2009

Mostaccioli e Formaggi con Tartufo

What better way is there to warm up during the cold winter months than a nice hearty Mac n' Cheese? Here is my version of this classic comfort food. This is quite the gourmet take on the dish making just about every component from scratch. The addition of the truffles is really gilding the lily, but who cares? It's my pasta dish. This is just a template, so feel free to omit the truffles and change up the cheeses to customize it to your own liking.

TT = to taste

For pasta:
3 1/2 cups Semolina Flour
5 Eggs, room temp
1T salt
3T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For Bechamel:
4 cups Whole Milk
4T Flour
4T Butter
TT Sea Salt
TT Black Pepper
1/2 cup Parrano Cheese, grated
1/2 cup Ossau Iraty Cheese, grated
1/2 cup Piave Vecchio Cheese, grated
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
4 sprigs fresh thyme

For Croutons:
1/2 Ciabatta loaf cut in to 1 inch chunks
4-6T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For the Rest of the dish:
2 small summer truffles
1/2 stick of butter
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano

Make mostaccioli:
Combine all ingredients for pasta dough
work together and knead for 5 minutes
wrap in plastic and allow to rest for 30 minutes
once rested cut into 6 pieces
keep all pieces covered while working with one of the pieces so the others don't dry out
Roll through hand cranked pasta machine kneading ten times through thickest setting (#1)
once kneaded roll through thickest setting (#1) three times
then drop down two setting to (#3)
roll through three times
then drop down one more setting (#4)
roll through three times
Cut sheets into rectangles 1-1.5"x3"
place a pencil lengthwise down the center
dampen one side with a little water
roll over to form a tube & roll back and forth between table and hand to seal properly
Use a knife to cut the edges at an angle
place finished pasta shape on a floured parchment lined tray
Repeat process with remaining pasta dough
Bring 6qts of water to a boil
add 2-3T sea salt and drop pasta in batches
cook until pasta rises and cooks for another 30 seconds
pull pasta out and plunge into ice water to stop cooking
place cooked pasta in 9x13 baking dish

Make bechamel:
heat flour and butter in sauce pan and cook on med low heat for 5 minutes
add milk while whisking constantly
add thyme
cook until milk begins to thicken and becomes a sauce like consistency.
add in the cheese
taste for seasoning
season as necessary with salt and pepper
remove from heat and allow to cool

Make crouton:
Heat olive oil in large saute pan over medium heat
add bread and saute until golden brown all over
season with a pinch of salt and pepper

Construct & finish the dish:
pour as much of the bechamel in with the pasta in the 9x13 pan as you need
save any pasta or sauce you don't use for a later time
toss together
take one of the truffles and shave in with the pasta and sauce
cover with the croutons
take butter and break apart with fingers on top of the croutons
scatter the remaining parmigiano reggiano over the top of the croutons
place casserole dish into pre-heated 350F oven and bake until golden brown and ooey gooey bubbly in the middle (20-30 minutes)
pull out of oven and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes
grate the remaining truffle over the top of the casserole
garnish with a bit more of the fresh thyme if you like
scoop out and serve immediately

Monday, December 7, 2009

Gnocchi Recipes

Here are several different types of gnocchi recipes that I use interchangeably. Feel free to use your own creativity in applying these recipes to your own dishes. Remember, there is no one way to make gnocchi.

TT = to taste

Potato Gnocchi
1# Russet/Idaho Potatoes (Boiled until just tender, then peeled)
1 egg
11oz 00 or AP flour plus extra
TT Salt
TT Pepper
TT Olive oil

Ricotta Gnocchi #1 (Firmer Gnocchi)
1 ½ # Ricotta Cheese drained of excess moisture(1hr)
½ c. grated parmiggiano reggiano
2-2 ½ c. semolina flour or AP flour
2 lg. Brown Eggs
1t fine sea salt
1t black pepper

Ricotta Gnocchi #2 (Softer Gnocchi - Large Gnocchi)
3 1/3 pounds fresh ricotta, drained in a colander or strainer
3 eggs
1/4 pound Montasio cheese, freshly grated (sub parmiggiano reggiano)
Pinch salt, plus 2 tablespoons for water
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
Several gratings nutmeg
1 pinch ground cloves
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Potato & Ricotta Gnocchi
2 Russet Potatoes - 1# (Boiled until just tender, then peeled)
1 yolk
½ c. 00 or AP flour plus extra
½ c. fresh ricotta cheese (look up recipe), drained
TT Salt
TT Pepper
TT Olive oil

Gnocchi alla Romana (Set Semolina Gnocchi - Made more so like polenta)
3c. Whole Milk
2 t. Salt
8T unsalted butter
1c. Semolina Flour
1 c. grated Parmiggiano Reggiano
4 Lg. Brown Egg Yolks

Spinach & Ricotta Gnocchi
1 cup unbleached 00 or AP flour
10 oz (1 package frozen) spinach or 1 Lb. Fresh spinach
2 egg yolks
14 oz fresh ricotta (look up recipe), drained
1 t nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste (purists use white pepper)

Instant Potato Gnocchi
2/3 cup dry potato buds for instant mashed potatoes
2/3 cup boiling water
1 egg, room temperature, lightly beaten with a fork
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Saffron Gnocchi
2 Potatoes - 1# (Boiled until just tender, then peeled)
1 yolk
½ c. 00 or AP flour plus extra
½ c. fresh ricotta cheese (look up recipe), drained
1 t. Saffron
TT Salt
TT Pepper
TT Olive oil

Sweet Potato Gnocchi
2 Lg Sweet Potatoes (12-16oz)(Boiled until just tender, then peeled)
½ c. 00 or AP flour plus extra around 1 c.
½ c fine bread crumbs
1 lg. egg
¼ c parmesan cheese
1/8 t. grated nutmeg
TT salt
TT black pepper

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Here are a couple of Gelato recipes that are very delicious. The nice thing about making this gelato versus making traditional ice cream out of fresh custard is that the gelato is much healthier. There are no eggs used, yet instead I use cornstarch. I have two recipes here. One is for a very refreshing tasting mint gelato, while the other is a decadent chocolate hazelnut gelato.

Fresh Mint Gelato

2 Cups Whole Milk, plus 2T extra
1/3 cup sugar
1T Cornstarch
1 - 3/4oz pkg of fresh mint
3 drops Green food coloring
pinch of salt

Heat 2 cups of milk & sugar in sauce pan to boil
mix cornstarch with 2T whole milk to dilute
add cornstarch mix to hot cream and cook whisking occasionally for 5 minutes
add salt and food coloring
pour over fresh mint into stainless steal mixing bowl
steep over night in refrigerator
strain out mint and discard
follow ice cream maker instructions next
then freeze for a couple of hours
serve immediately

Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato

2 cups Whole Milk, plus 2T extra
1/3 cup sugar
1T Cornstarch
1/3 cup Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
1/2 Cup Hazelnuts, Toasted & peeled
pinch of salt

Heat 2 cups of milk & sugar in sauce pan to boil
mix cornstarch with 2T whole milk to dilute
add cornstarch mix to hot cream and cook whisking occasionally for 5 minutes
add salt and chocolate hazelnut spread
whisk together
transfer to stainless steel mixing bowl
refrigerate over night
follow ice cream maker instructions next
then freeze for a couple of hours
top with toasted hazelnuts
serve immediately

Monday, November 16, 2009

Porterhouse Steaks with Salsa Verde

This is a very simple type of steak dish to make if your looking for a nice fresh & vibrant foil to a nice hunk of meat. This salsa verde is like a pesto genovese but uses flat leaf parsley in place of the basil and has an added touch of delicious 25 year aged balsamic vinegar.

TT = to taste

2 Porterhouse Steaks
TT Fleur de Sel or coarse salt
TT coarse black pepper

For Salsa Verde:
2 Garlic cloves
1/2 cup fresh basil
1 1/2 cups flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to seal top
1 T 25 year balsamic vinegar
TT sea salt
TT black pepper

pull out meat and allow to come up to room temp (30-45 min)
combine garlic, basil, parsley, vinegar in food processor
while running slowly add in olive oil
season to taste with salt & pepper and then set aside
in cast iron or oven proof pan heat over high
once smoking, pour in a couple tablespoons of oil(olive, canola, vegetable, grapeseed)
season steaks with salt and pepper
place steaks in hot pan and sear until nice and brown on one side (3-5 minutes)
turn steaks over and place into 300 F oven and continue to cook through until steaks are med-rare (5-8 minutes)
remove from oven and transfer to cutting board to rest for 10 minutes
put salsa verde in serving dish
once rested, slice steak and serve

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Macarrones de Busa with Porcini & Ricotta

This is a classic dish from Sardinia. These hand rolled maccheroni have to be one of my favorite pastas. They have such an interesting chew to them that is truly unique. Here they are paired with a classic accompaniment of homemade ricotta cheese and porcini mushrooms.

TT = to taste

For pasta:
3 1/2 cups AP Flour
1 1/4 cups water
1T sea salt
3T extra virgin olive oil

For condimento:
2oz Dried porcini mushrooms
2 cups ricotta cheese, strained for an hour, homemade preferably (look up recipe on this blog!)
3 sprigs fresh thyme
4T extra virgin olive oil
TT, porcini powder for garnish (optional)
TT sea salt
TT, fresh ground black pepper

combine all ingredients for pasta and knead for a few minutes
wrap dough in plastic and let sit for half hour
Heat 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil
once boiling, drop porcini in and remove pot from heat
allow porcini to soak for an hour
unwrap and cut into 4 pieces
Take each piece and roll out with hands into a rope about 1/3" in diameter
cut into 2 1/2" - 3" pieces
Repeat with remaining dough
for making the maccheroni, I use a metal coat hanger that I cut to about 6-7" long. You could also use a bike spoke as well
I take the cut piece and dredge it in flour, then fold and knead it outwards into a longer & thinner strip, about 4 1/2" - 5" long.
place the rod piece into the center of the pasta lengthwise
pinch the top to close, then roll your hand over the pasta between your hand & the table until it is 5"-6" long
Pull maccheroni off of rod and place on parchment lined sheet tray dusted with flour
repeat process with remaining pieces
Prepare the condimento
Shake off the porcini really well to remove any grit, save porcini water
heat olive oil in large non stick saute pan over low heat
add porcini and thyme to pan and let saute in oil slighlty
add ricotta cheese and stir togehter
take porcini water and pour through a strainer lined with a coffee filter into the pan with the condimento
cook for a bit so the flavors all combine
season with salt and pepper
reserve and keep warm
bring 6qts of water to a boil
once boiling, add 2T of sea salt
drop pasta into boiling water in batches
allow pasta to float for 30 seconds
remove and transfer to pan with condimento
stir together, add pasta water if needed
repeat process with the rest of the pasta until it is all cooked off.
Transfer to plates and garnish with a pinch of porcini powder(if desired) and a sprig of thyme
serve immediately

Pappardelle with Venison Ragu

This is a take on a dish that you would find in northern Italy (Piemonte or Friuli). It has tremendous complexity of flavor that is just delicious. I like to have this pasta with a nice glass of Barolo. If your wallet isn't big enough for a Barolo, I don't mind substituting a Malbec.

TT = to taste

For Pasta:
3 1/2 cups, Semolina Flour
1 1/4 cups, water
1T Sea salt, fine
3T extra virgin olive oil

For ragu:
2T Olive Oil, butter, or rendered animal fat
2 1/2# Venison Roast
2 onions, diced
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
5 cloves
dash of grated nutmeg
dash of grated cinnamon
3 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
3 cups red wine
2 cups venison, beef, or veal stock
2 Parmigiano reggiano cheese rinds (2"x2" each)
2-3 oz good dark chocolate,
1/2 of a ripe pear, peeled & thinly sliced (wait to do this until you need it)
TT salt
TT pepper
TT grated parmigiano reggiano, for garnish

Heat olive oil in dutch oven over high heat
Season venison roast with salt and pepper
Once oil is smoking add the venison and sear all over, should have a nice dark brown crust
remove venison from dutch oven and lower heat to med-low
add onions, garlic, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, rosemary & thyme
saute until onions have softened
add the venison back to the dutch oven
add wine, stock & cheese rinds and bring up to a boil.
cover and simmer on stove top over low heat or place in 300F oven for 5 hours
you should rotate meat every so often to ensure even cooking
while meat is cooking, make the pasta
combine all ingredients for pasta together
knead for a few minutes, then wrap in plastic and set aside for half hour
unwrap dough and cut into 4 pieces
wrap pieces not being used so they don't get dried out
Using a manual pasta roller, start on largest setting - #1
knead pasta through machine ten times
then roll out 3 times on largest setting - #1
then drop down 2 settings to #3, and run through 3 times
then drop down 2 more to second thinnest setting - #5
run through #5 one time, use flour as needed when rolling through the pasta machine, but try not to add too much or dough will get dry
take finished pasta sheet and cut with fluted pastry cutter or a knife into strips 1"x8"
place on parchment lined sheet tray dusted with flour
repeat process with remaining dough
After the 5 hours of cooking if cooking in oven, remove the dutch oven and put back on stove top.
uncover and remove the venison, & begin reducing the liquid uncovered
skim any fat from the liquid
cut venison into bite size pieces
add venison back to dutch oven and continue reducing liquid uncovered until almost fully absorbed and ragu becomes nice and thick
bring 6qts of water to a boil
once boiling, add 2T of sea salt
drop pasta into boiling water in batches
turn the heat off the ragu and add the sliced pear & the chocolate and stir together
taste for seasoning
scoop a little of the ragu into a large non stick pan and heat over low
once all pasta begins to float remove from water and add to non stick pan with the ragu and toss together
repeat with remaining pasta until it is all cooked off adding more ragu as needed
add a little bit of pasta water to non stick as needed if ragu becomes too thick
transfer finished product to serving plates and garish with some grated parmigiano reggiano
serve immediately

Friday, October 23, 2009

Frittata with Fingerling Potatoes, Leeks, Scallions & Smoked Trout

This is an example of what Italians might make if they were living in Wisconsin. You also might find this in some of the northern regions of Italy. It is a frittata made with some delicious seasonal vegetables from the farmer's market and topped with rushing waters smoked trout.

TT = to taste

3T extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for garnish
1 cup Fingerling potatoes, 1/4" sliced
1/2 Leek thinly sliced
1/4 cup scallions thinly sliced, plus extra green parts
6 Eggs, whisked together
TT sea salt
TT fresh ground black pepper
1 fillet of smoked trout broken into pieces

Heat olive oil in medium sized non stick saute pan over med-high heat
once smoking add potatoes and saute until nice and caramelized, about 5 minutes
lower heat to low setting
add leeks and scallions and saute for another 3 minutes until onions are softened
season with salt and pepper
raise heat to med-high
add the eggs to pan and stir with rubber scraper until omelet starts to set
remove pan from heat and place under broiler for a couple minutes until to just sets
remove from broiler and turn out on to plate
garnish with some of the green parts of the scallions and the pieces of the smoked trout
drizzle with a little drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil
serve immediately

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bistecca con Verdure Grigliati en Cartoccio

This is a great dish for two that you can do on the charcoal grill just before it starts to get too cold outside. It is a nice and simple recipe that combines a great piece of steak with some delicious grilled vegetables. This would go delicious with a glass of red wine or a nice beer.

TT = to taste

for Steak:
1 1/2# Prime Bone-In Ribeye (Cowboy Steak)
TT Coarse Sea Salt
TT Coarsely smashed Black Pepper
1T chopped fresh rosemary

For vegetables:
3 med. Yukon Gold Potatoes, 1/4" slice
1/2 yellow onion, julienne
4oz, pancetta, 1/3" dice
4oz, Black Trumpet mushrooms
6 cloves of garlic in skin, smashed
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
1 sprig rosemary, leaves only
2T extra virgin olive oil, plus extra
TT sea salt
TT fresh ground black pepper

Pull steak out, and allow to come to room temperature
Pre-heat charcoal grill with chimney
In saute pan heat pancetta over med-low heat until crispy and fat has rendered.
remove pancetta, and reserve
add julienne onions and garlic to pan and saute in rendered fat for a few minutes
add mushrooms to pan and saute for a few minutes
remove from heat and reserve
toss together the pancetta, vegetables and aromatics with the olive oil, salt, and pepper
get out 2 large pieces of aluminum foil
brush the foil with some olive oil
divide the vegetable evenly among the two pieces of foil
wrap up vegetables in foil so they are fully closed
season steak with olive oil, salt, pepper and the rosemary
brush the grill with a little olive oil
place steak and vegetables on the grill (sometimes I like to cook the vegetable right in the coals
Grill steak until nice and caramelized on each side
cook until medium rare (120-125F)
remove steak and allow to rest for 10 minutes
cook vegetables until the potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes)
Once steak has rested and vegetables are done
Remove the vegetables from the foil and serve alongside the steak
drizzle steak and potatoes with a dab of some extra virgin olive oil and finish steak with a pinch of coarse sea salt
serve immediately

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Corzetti with Short Rib Ragu

This is a very special type of pasta that is from Liguria (NW Italy). These corzetti or croxetti in local dialect, are stamped pasta that traditionally embosses the family crest. They are rather rare but can be found on the internet if you look. It is traditionally served with walnut pesto or pesto genovese. It is also commonly made with potatoes in the dough. In this dish, I have made the dough slightly different and served it with a very rich ragu that is great to warm up with now that we are entering the cold weather.

TT = to taste

Pasta Dough:
2 1/2 cups Semolina flour
1 cup AP Flour
1 1/4 cup water
3T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2t fine sea salt

For Short Ribs:
1/2# good quality pancetta, cut into matchsticks (substitute guanciale or bacon)
2# good quality beef short ribs
2 red onions, med dice
3 grocery store size carrots, sliced into discs
3 celery stalks, med dice
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh sage
10 juniper berries
3 parmigiano reggiano cheese rinds (2"X2" each)
2 cups red wine
3 1/2 - 4 cups veal stock
1 - 2 1/2 oz pkg of veal demi glace
TT salt
TT black pepper

In 6qt dutch oven, heat pancetta over medium-low
cook until pancetta is nice and crispy and fat has rendered
remove pancetta and reserve
turn heat up to high
Season beef short ribs with salt and pepper
When fat is just smoking, add short ribs and sear until nice and caramelized all over
remove short ribs from pan and reserve
lower heat to med-low
add onions to dutch oven and cook stirring often until softened and well caramelized (about 20 minutes)
add carrots, garlic, celery, the fresh herbs and the juniper berries and saute until softened (about 5-10 minutes)
return short ribs and pancetta to the pot
add the wine, the stock, the demi glace and the cheese rinds and bring to a boil
reduce heat to simmer and cover
Either cook on stove top stirring & skimming fat occasionally for about 2 1/2-3 hours or until meat is tender or in a 250F oven for about the same amount of time.
While short ribs are braising, combine ingredients for dough together
mix until dough forms
knead for 5-10 minutes
wrap in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes
cut dough into 4 parts
wrap the other 3 pieces
roll the first piece of dough out enough to be able to run through thickest setting of hand-cranked pasta machine
knead through pasta machine 10 times on thickest setting dusting pasta with flour as needed
then roll pasta through thickest setting 3 times
place on floured surface
cut out rounds with corzetti stamp
dredge rounds in flour and press between stamp to make imprint
transfer all stamped pasta to sheet trays lined with parchment and dusted with flour
repeat the process with remaining dough
Allow corzetti to dry out before cooking so the imprint holds better.
When short ribs are tender remove them from pot
trim off their bones, excess fat and cut them into bite size pieces
return the pieces to the braising put and cook uncovered until most of the liquid has completely absorbed into meat. (Should be nice & thick in consistency
Remove the cheese rinds & the fresh herb stems
taste for seasoning & adjust if necessary
Keep warm
Bring 6 qts of water to a boil with 2T of coarse sea salt
Drop pasta in batches into boiling water and cook until they float
transfer corzetti to large non stick pan and spoon in some of the ragu along with a little pasta water to form a sauce
Once all the pasta has been cooked and sauced, transfer to serving plates
garnish with some grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
serve immediately

Corzetti on Foodista

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Apple Strudel

This is a classic apple strudel from Friuli (NE Italy). It is a great simple dessert to make that looks rather elegant. The combination of the apples, raisins & hazelnuts make a really delicious treat when combined with the rum. Next time you head to the farmer's market this time of year, grab some apples to make this special dessert. I love a slice of this strudel with a scoop of vanilla gelato.

for strudel dough:
1 1/2 cups of bread flour
1 1/2 t olive oil
pinch of salt
2/3 cup of water
1/4 stick butter
Turbinado sugar for dusting

For raisins:
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 cup rum

For Apples:
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 courtland apples, peeled, cored and slices
1 cup apple cider
1 1/2T ground cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
6 cloves
1 lemon, zested
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, peeled, chopped
1/3 cup bread crumbs, fresh or panko

Make strudel dough:
combine flour, water, salt & oil in food processor
blend until dough forms
Knead dough for a couple of minutes
wrap dough and leave to sit at room temp for at least an hour

Hydrate raisins:
Heat rum until hot!!!
add raisins and allow to soak for an hour

Make apples:
combine butter and brown sugar in large non stick saute pan
heat until butter starts to brown
add apples and saute for 1 minute
add apple cider
add cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves
cook until cider reduces and apples are soft
remove apples and place in mixing bowl keep juices in pan
add raisins to apples
add rum & lemon juice to the cooking liquid and reduce to syrup
toss syrup over apples
fold bread crumbs in with apples
fold in 1/4 of hazelnuts
fold in lemon zest
taste for seasoning
allow to cool

dust surface with flour
roll out pastry to rectangle about 2 ft X 1 1/2 ft
pastry should be thin enough to see through
scatter hazelnuts all over rolled out pastry
add apple filling in log shape along side the 2ft long end by about 3-4 inches wide
starting at the apple end, roll pastry over apples, & continue rolling up pastry like a jelly roll
Turn one end inside and around to form pinwheel shape
grease spring form pan with butter and dust with flour
places strudel into pan
melt 1/4 stick of butter
brush the top of strudel with the melted butter and sprinkle top of strudel with turbinado sugar
cut little slits into top of strudel to help prevent filling from getting to moist and making dough soggy
place strudel into preheated oven at 450F for about 30-35 minutes
remove from even and allow to cool for 20 minutes
slice and serve immediately with a scoop of vanilla ice cream

Orecchiette with Wild Mushrooms

This is a dish that is indicative of the Puglia region. Puglia is the heel of Italy, and the home of orecchiette (ear shaped) pasta. This is something that you would find in the fall there when fresh wild mushrooms are an abundant source of goodness. I used oyster, chanterelle and enoki mushrooms here, but you can mix and match any other mushrooms you like. I also use marsala wine which is from Sicily, yet I like how it works with mushrooms. You can easily substitute a Puglian red wine or sherry wine, or even a nice pinot noir.

TT = to taste

For Pasta:

1# Semolina Flour (3 1/2 cups)
1 1/4 cups water
3T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1T sea salt

For the Mushrooms:

2T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4# Oyster Mushrooms, pulled into individual pieces
1/4# Chanterelle Mushrooms
1/4# Enoki Mushrooms, pulled into individual pieces
4 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
4 sprigs fresh thyme, plus extra
2 sprigs rosemary
1/2 cup water
1/2c. - 1c. Marsala wine, you can also use a Puglian red as well
half stick of butter
TT Sea Salt
TT Black Pepper
Grated Cacciocavallo Cheese for garnish, substitute parmigiano reggiano cheese


Combine semolina, water, oil & salt together
mix until tough has come together
continue to knead for 10 minutes
let rest covered at room temperature for a half hour
once rested cut into 4 pieces
roll each piece into uniform 1/2 inch thick rope
cut each rope into 1 inch pieces
press your thumb down into cut side making a ear shape
place orecchiette on a sheet tray lined with parchment and dusted with flour
set aside

heat olive oil in large pan over medium heat
add oyster mushrooms to pan
saute for a couple minutes
add chanterelles to pan
saute for a couple minutes
add enoki mushrooms to pan
saute for a couple minutes
add garlic and saute for a couple minutes, add a little more olive oil if needed
add wine, rosemary & thyme and cook until liquid has reduced about 90% - about 15-20 minutes
season with salt & pepper and keep warm

bring 6qts of water to boil
add 2 T of salt to water
heat butter in large pan & cook until browned
add mushrooms to brown butter
add orecchiette in batches and cook until floating, about 2-3 minutes
transfer cooked pasta to large pan with the mushrooms & toss together
grate around a 1/4 cup of the cheese over the mushrooms and toss.
taste for seasoning
transfer to serving plates and garnish with some more fresh thyme and a little bit more of the grated cheese
serve immediately

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cardoon Gratin (Roman Style)

Cardoons are a very interesting vegetable that you don't tend to see that often. It looks like a rather large celery, yet the flavor is more comparable to an artichoke. Cardoons are a very classical Italian ingredient that would be nice to see more often in the U.S.A. Cardoon stems are also one of the classic tools used to make ricotta cheese. This is a classic Roman recipe for the contorno or "side dish" to the main entree. I add a little bit of chopped preserved lemons to give the dish a little interesting counterpoint.

TT = to taste

1. One large cardoon plant - about 5 1/2 lbs (peeled)
2. 1 1/4 qts Whole milk
3. 2 1/2 oz AP flour
4. 2 1/2 oz butter
5. 2 - 1/4 rinds of preserved lemons, chopped
6. 4 garlic cloves
7. TT freshly grated grated nutmeg
8. TT sea salt
9. TT fresh ground black pepper
10. 5 sprigs fresh thyme
11. 2 cups bread crumbs
12. 1 1/2 cups grated parmiggiano reggiano

1. Boil cardoons in water for 45 minutes until tender
2. Heat butter and flour together to make roux
3. cook for 4-5 minutes until blond color
4. Temper roux with warm milk whisking constantly
5. Add rest of milk whisking constantly until fully combined
6. Add grated nutmeg to bechamel
7. Cook until a little thicker than sauce consistency
8. Season with salt, pepper, thyme & lemon
9. Cut cardoons into bite size pieces and season with salt and pepper
10. transfer cardoons to 9x13 pan
11. Pour bechamel over cardoons
12. Top with half of parmigiano reggiano cheese
13. Cover with bread crumbs
14. top with rest of cheese
15. Place pan into 350F oven for 30 minutes until heated through and crust is golden brown
16. Let rest for a few minutes to cool slightly
17. Serve immediately

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Funghi Selvaggi con Pane - "Wild Mushrooms with Bread"

This is one of my favorite types of appetizers. It goes very well with a bottle of good red wine. It is a very classic recipe that symbolizes the foraging of wild mushrooms. For this recipe I chose Porcini, Maiatake, Chanterelles & Chicken of the Woods mushrooms. You can use any combination of mushrooms you would like though.

TT = to taste

1) 1/4# Porcini Mushrooms
2) 1/4# Chanterelle Mushrooms
3) 1/4# Maiatake Mushrooms
4) 1/4# Chicken of the Woods Mushrooms
5) 4 Garlic Cloves
6) 3T Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus more for garnish
7) 5 sprigs Fresh Thyme, leaves only
8) 3 sprigs Fresh Rosemary, leaves only
9) 5 Fresh Sage leaves chopped
10) TT Sea Salt
11) TT freshly ground Black Pepper
12) Parmigiano Reggiano, grated for garnish
13) 1/2 Sourdough Baugette baked in 350F oven for 5-8 minutes, 1/2 inch sliced on a bias
14) 1 cup Marsala wine
15) 1/2 cup red wine - Pinot Noir

1) heat olive oil over med heat in large sauce pan or straight sided saute pan
2) add garlic and cook for a few minutes until starting to brown
3) Add Porcini mushrooms and cook for 1 minute
4) add chicken of the woods mushrooms and cook for another minute
5) Add Maiatake mushrooms and cook for another minute
6) add chanterelles andcook for a minute
7) add fresh herbs
8) season with salt and pepper
9) add the wine and cook until most of liquid has reduced
10) taste for seasoning and that the mushrooms have cooked enough
11) transfer mushrooms to serving bowl
12) Scatter bread slices around
13) garnish with some fresh thyme leaves and grated parmigiano reggiano over the mushrooms, about 1-2T of the cheese
14) Drizzle bread and mushrooms with some good extra virgin olive oil
15) serve immediately

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

This is my version of the classic Roman pasta. It takes a slight twist on the presentation of the dish to give it a more dramatic, fun & playful way of eating it. As I said before, this is very classic which means NO CREAM. It is just pasta, cured pork, eggs & cheese. Just one bite of the dish and you'll realize why spaghetti alla carbonara has stood the test of time.

TT = to taste

Serves 6-8

1) 1# Spaghetti
2) 8 oz Guanciale or Pancetta 1/3 inch dice
3) 10 Sprigs of fresh thyme plus extra for garnish, pulled from the stem
4) 6-8 Eggs, separated
5) TT sea salt
6) 8T Fresh Grated Parmiggiano Reggiano plus extra for garnish
7) TT Fresh Ground Black Pepper
8) Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling


1) Bring 6 quarts water, and 2T sea salt to boil
2) Add guanciale to large sauté pan over med-low heat
3) Cook until guanciale is nice and crispy & fat has rendered, around 10 min
4) Add the thyme and stir together
5) Turn off the heat
6) When water is boiling drop pasta in batches
7) Cook pasta until al dente, 3 minutes
8) Transfer cooked pasta to sauté pan with the guanciale and thyme
9) Add the whites to the hot pasta making sure the pan is off the heat
10) Toss together
11) Stir in cheese
12) Season with salt & pepper
13) Transfer pasta to individual plates or bowls
14) Garnish with some more cheese, a little more thyme, 1 egg yolk per plate & fresh ground black pepper on top of the yolk
15) Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil
16) Serve immediately

Monday, August 31, 2009

Risotto Nero con Calamari

This is another classic yet decadent and sophisticated recipe that combines the cuisine of northern, southern and coastal Italian cooking. Risotto Nero con Calamari or "Black Risotto with Squid." It takes a very basic risotto recipe then adds a twist by using the squids own ink to color and flavor the dish. What you are left with is a dish that might look rather one dimensional, yet tastes purely from the seas of Italy.

TT = to taste

Serves 8

1. 5-6 shallots, fine dice
2. 2T Goat Butter, plus 4T later (sub cow's or buffalo's milk butter)
3. 3c. Arborio Rice
4. 2c. White Wine
5. 4T Squid Ink
6. about 7c. squid or light chicken stock
7. 1# cleaned Squid, cut up
8. TT fleur de sel
9. TT fresh ground black pepper
10. 1/4c. extra virgin olive oil
11. 1 lemon, juiced
12. 1/4c. flat leaf parsley, chopped plus extra for garnish
13. 1/4c. lemon balm, chopped plus extra for garnish

1. Add 2T of butter over med heat
2. Add shallots and cook until softened stirring occasionally with wooden spoon(3-5minutes)
3. Add the rice and begin toasting in pan for 1-2 minutes
4. Raise heat to med-high
5. Add the wine and the squid ink and cook until almost absorbed in to rice
6. Add hot stock a few ladles at a time to rice stirring rather often until almost absorbed in to rice before the next ladles of stock are added
7. Once rice is al dente and most of the stock has been added and absorbed stir in most of the cut up calamari saving some for garnish followed by the final 4T of cold butter cubes until emulsified. The squid will cook through from the heat of the rice.
8. The consistency of the risotto should be when you push the spoon through the risotto, the rice should slowly come back in filling the gap. If it comes to quick, the risotto is too loose. If it sticks and doesn't ooze back in, the risotto is too thick and will need either more stock or butter.
9. Season with salt and pepper as well as the fresh herbs
Transfer to individual bowls and garnish with some of the left over cut up cooked squid tubes along with some of the fresh herbs and a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil
10. Serve Immediately

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Watermelon Mint Bellini

This is a delicious refreshing cocktail that is great for parties. This is one of those cocktails that is only good during the summer when watermelon is in season. Any other time of the year and the drink would fall flat.

For Syrup:
1 ¼ - 1 ½ c sugar depending on desired level of sweetness
1 c. water
2 3/4oz containers of fresh mint

For Rest o Drink:
¼ Seedless Watermelon (in season “July-August“) cut into 1 in. cubes
1 Bottle Brut Champagne or Sparkling Wine like Prosecco (Preferably Dry)

For Garnish:
Thin sliced Watermelon Wedges

Combine ingredients for syrup in stainless steel sauce pan and boil with mint completely submerged for 2-3 minutes until sugar dissolved
Chill Syrup
Strain syrup & Combine Syrup with Watermelon and puree in food processor or with immersion blender
Strain Mixture into large pitcher
Add champagne and stir until combined careful not to add too much at a time or mixture will overflow
Pour into individual chilled glasses and garnish
Serve immediately

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Frittata con Herbi

This is a dish that is indicative of the Friuli region of Italy. In the spring time, the entire region is filled with fresh herbs. Despite that it is more reminiscent of the spring time, fresh herbs grow in the summer just as well. This is a very simple breakfast dish or even mid-day snack that is very light and fresh. If you grow your own herbs, it makes for a nice way to use them up. If not, the grocery store or farmer's market are substitutes. You can use whatever combination of herbs you like, so don't think that this particular combination is the only one. This is also wonderful to serve with some fresh fruit or prosciutto san daniele.

TT = to taste

Serves 2-3

1) 6 farm fresh eggs
2) 1/2 cup mixed fresh herbs, lightly packed, roughly chopped (sage, basil, oregano, flat leaf parsley)
3) 1/4 cup Montasio cheese, freshly grated (substitute parmiggiano reggiano)
4) pinch of sea salt
5) pinch of black pepper
6) 2T, plus extra for garnish, Good Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1) Crack eggs in mixing bowl, & add salt and pepper, then whisk together
2) Heat small non-stick saute pan over high heat until smoking
3) Add 2T of olive oil to pan
4) Add eggs to pan, then half of the fresh herbs
5) Move slightly with rubber scraper to help set bottom crust.
6) After about 20-30 seconds of cooking on stove top, remove from heat and place under broiler for 2-3 minutes until egg just forms top crust
7) Immediately transfer to serving platter & invert frittata onto plate.
8) Remember omelette should still be nice and creamy on the inside.
9) Garnish with grated cheese, the rest of the fresh herbs & a generous drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil
10) Serve immediately

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Grilled Branzini & Prawns with Grilled Lemons

Grilling fish and seafood has to be one of my favorite things to do during the summer. It is something that is fun and different to do than cooking burgers and brats. This is yet another dish that encompasses what real Italian cooking is all about. Great quality ingredients simply prepared. If you can't find the whole prawns, shrimp will work just fine. A good substitute for branzino(Mediterranean bass) would be snapper.

TT = to taste

Serves 4-6

1) 2 Whole Branzini, scaled & scored
2) 10 Whole Prawns
3) 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
4) flat leaf parsley
5) fleur de sel
6) fresh ground black pepper
7) 2-3 lemons, halved
8) extra virgin olive oil

1) Preheat charcoal grill
2) Season the cavity and skin of the branzini with salt and pepper
3) Stuff cavity of branzini with the sliced garlic and parsley and drizzle all over with olive oil
4) Season prawns and lemons with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil
5) Brush grill with olive oil to prevent sticking
6) Place lemons cut side down on grill and cook until nice and dark brown, almost charred
7) Place branzini on grill and cook until skin becomes nice and crispy, then flip fish and cook on the other side until crispy and fish is cooked through (around 5-7 minutes per side)
8) Place shrimp on grill and cook until done (2-3 minutes per side)
9) Transfer to serving platter, and drizzle with good extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of fleur de sel, & a good squeeze of the grilled lemons
10) Serve immediately with wine and LOTS OF NAPKINS!!! DON'T BE AFRAID TO GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY.

Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms with Homemade Ricotta, Basil & Fleur de Sel

This is a wonderful seasonal recipe that is great for an appetizer. This is what Italian cooking is all about. Use the best quality ingredients to make something so simple, yet beautiful and extremely delicious. If you were to use commodity products for the rest of the dish, it just won't taste nearly as good. If you don't grow zucchini, you can find the blossoms at your local farmer's market and perhaps select grocery stores.

TT = to taste

Ricotta Cheese - Yield 4 cups
1) 1 Gallon Whole Milk
2) 1 quart Buttermilk
3) 1 pint Heavy Cream - Pasteurized as opposed to ultra-pasteurized
4) 1 teaspoon sea salt

1) Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan over med low heat and bring to a coil stirring occasionally. Not too hot or curds will burn!
2) Once boiling, remove from heat and let stand for 15-20 minutes.
3) Strain through cheesecloth lined strainer into bucket for about 10 minutes.
4) Transfer cheese to airtight container and add a little bit of the whey to the cheese in order to keep it moist and creamy.
5) The cheese is best eaten the day of, yet it will last for about a week in the refrigerator.
Note - One of my favorite ways to enjoy this delicacy is by scooping some of the warm strained cheese as soon as it is ready and drizzling it with some good extra virgin olive oil and fresh cracked black pepper.

Zucchini Blossoms:
1) 12 Large Zucchini Blossoms, about 4 inches in length, and stamen removed
2) 3 cups fresh ricotta cheese, chilled, and strained for half hour (recipe above)
3) 1/2 c. freshly grated parmiggiano reggiano
4) 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
5) 1/3 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil, plus extra
6) 10 medium basil leaves, chiffonade(finely shredded)
7) Flour for dredging
8) Fleur de Sel (Good quality sea salt)

1) Combine drained ricotta, parmiggiano reggiano, black pepper, olive oil and half of the basil leaves in a mixing bowl.
2) Working carefully, stuff the mixture with spoon or piping bag into the flowers.
3) Close up flours
4) Dredge them in flour and place on sheet tray or plate.
5) Heat large saute pan over high heat until just smoking.
6) Add olive oil to pan to create a very thin film of oil in pan
7) Cook a few flowers at a time or they will be hard to manage since they are so delicate.
8) Cook flowers until golden brown on both sides. 1-2 minutes per side. If you have a fish spatula USE IT!!!
9) Transfer cooked flowers to a large platter. BE CAREFUL WHEN HANDLING THEM
10) Garnish the blossoms with a little sprinkle of fleur de sel on each, the rest of the shredded basil and a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil.
11) Serve immediately

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Grilled Soft Shell Crab & Prawns with Salad of Arugula, Preserved Lemons & Grilled Fennel

This is a very simple recipe that uses the soft shell crabs at the peak of the season. It is a nice refreshing salad that is great for when the weather starts to heat up.

TT = to taste

Serves 4

1/2# Arugula
8 Soft Shell Crabs, Cleaned
8 Lg Prawns, cleaned
1/2 Preserved Lemon, diced
1 Fennel Bulb, quartered
Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Black Pepper

3T Fresh Lemon juice
1/2cup Extra virgin Olive Oil
TT Sea Salt
TT Black Pepper
1/2t Fennel Seed

Combine all ingredients for dressing in mixing bowl, then whisk together and set aside.
Pre-heat charcoal grill in grill chimney.
Once coals are white, pour them in to center of grill.
Cover and let grill heat up.
Drizzle seafood and fennel with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper
Once grill is hot throw seafood and fennel on.
Cook seafood a few minutes per side until done
Char fennel all over until tender.
Remove the core from the fennel and cut up into bite size pieces.
Toss arugula with dressing, preserved lemon & grilled fennel
Taste salad for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Then arrange on four plates
Garnish each plate with 2 pieces of each seafood & drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil
Serve immediately.

Gigli Pasta with Octopus & Soft Shell Crabs in Iberico Sauce

Around the middle of May is always a favorite time of mine. Not only is my birthday then but also comes the influx of the elusive soft shell crab. This is an interesting recipe that combines great quality seafood and pasta with some Spanish flare.

TT = to taste

1x Basic Pasta Dough – Gigli Recipe
1x Iberico Sauce
12-16 oz Baby Octopi, beak, eyes & ink sack removed
5 Soft shell crabs

Iberico Sauce
2T Olive Oil
3 Shallots, peeled & chopped
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
12 green sicilian olives, pitted
6 oz cured Chorizo or Abruzzese sausage, ½” dice.
½ c. dry white wine
1 28oz can San Marzano Tomatoes, crushed by hand
2-3t Pimenton (Smoked Spanish Paprika)
1t Cayenne
1 Bay leaf
1 pinch saffron
TT salt
TT black pepper
1/4 c flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Heat olive oil in sauce pan over medium-low heat
Add shallots & garlic and saute for 5 minutes
Add olives and chorizo and saute for 2 minutes
Add wine, tomatoes with juices , pimenton, cayenne, bay leaf & saffron and bring to boil.
Lower heat to simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes until thick
Season to taste with salt and pepper if needed.

Bring 1 gallon of water and a small handful of sea salt & the octopi to a boil and cook for 15 minutes
Remove octopi and cut into bite size pieces, keep the cooking water
Roll pasta out to second thinnest setting
Cut sheets into right triangles - 1.5"X3"X2.5"
Fold two thirds of the longest side back
Rotate shorter side inward, while wrapping folded side around the forming cone
Then press and seal at the bottom
Once all pasta is done, return octopi cooking water back to boil
Add Sauce to large saute pan with the soft shell crabs and bring to simmer
Cook the sauce until the crabs are done
Add the octopi to the sauce to heat through
Once water is boiling, add pasta and cut until it rises, about 1 minute.
Transfer pasta along with a little of the cooking water to the sauce and toss together.
Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary, then remove bay leaf.
Transfer pasta to individual plates and serve immediately

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Garganelli with Hedgehog Mushrooms & Fiddlehead Ferns

This is a rustic recipe that uses some very decadent seasonal bounties of the forest. This dish is a great example of what Italian cooking is all about. Using great local seasonal ingredients and preparing them simply.

TT = to taste

1. 1X basic pasta dough - garganelli recipe
2. 1# fresh hedgehog mushrooms, cleaned
3. 1/2# Fresh fiddlehead ferns, blanched for 3 minutes then shocked
4. 3T olive oil
5. 1/2 cup Marsala wine
6. 1 stick butter plus extra
7. 4 Lg. sprigs of fresh thyme
8. TT sea seal
9. TT fresh ground black pepper
10. Extra virgin Olive Oil, for garnish
11. freshly grated parmiggiano reggiano for garnish

Recipe is for hand rolled pasta machine with 6 settings. 1 Thickest - 6 Thinnest
1. Separate pasta into 6-8 sections & keep unused sections covered in plastic
2. Roll pasta dough out - 3 times on setting #1, 3 times on setting #3 & 3 times on setting #4.
3. Cut pasta sheets into 2"X2" squares.
4. Dust a wooden skewer with flour and starting at one corner, roll pasta around skewer into a tube shape.
5. Transfer pasta to baking sheet dusted with flour
6. Bring salted water to a boil
7. Heat 3T of olive oil in large saute pan over medium heat.
8. Add mushrooms to saute pan and saute for 1 minute
9. Add marsala wine and saute until reduced into mushrooms
10. Add butter and thyme and cook until browned
11. Add fiddlehead ferns
12. Drop pasta into water and cook for 2 minutes
13. Add pasta to large saute pan with vegetables, herbs and butter
14. Toss until all combined.
15. Season with salt & pepper
16. Transfer to individual plates
17. Garnish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil & parmiggiano reggiano
18. Serve immediately

Morel & Cognac Risotto

With the arrival of Mother's Day, brings another special item to celebrate. "Morel Mushrooms." This recipe is a great way accentuate and showcase the morel's earthy flavor. It's a very simple recipe that uses not only the exotic mushrooms, but also uses decadent cognac in place of wine for a wornderful flavoring agent to this spectacular risotto.

TT = to taste

Yield - serves 6-10

1. 4T Butter
2. 3-4 Shallots finely chopped
3. 1-1.5# fresh Morel mushrooms cleaned & halved
4. 2c Arborio or carnaroli rice
5. 1 c. Cognac (Courvoisier, Hennessy, Martell, etc.) or Brandy
6. 6-8 c. Brown Chicken Stock or Mushroom Stock
7. 6T raw Butter cut into small cubes
8. 1c + extra Parmesan
9. TT salt
10. TT fresh ground black pepper
11. 4 Lg. Sprigs fresh thyme

1. Melt 4 T butter in wide sauce pan
2. Make sure you use wooden spoon when stirring risotto
3. Add shallots, mushrooms & thyme, & sweat for 5-6 minutes until vegetables are soft
4. Remove Mushrooms, coarsely chop ½ - 2/3 (1in.dice) of them and keep warm
5. Add rice and toast for a couple minutes
6. Pull pan away from heat and add brandy and cook until almost absorbed into rice
7. Slowly add hot stock to rice about 4 fl. oz at a time
8. Add new ladle of stock when previous liquid has almost absorbed into rice
9. When all of the stock is added and mostly absorbed into rice
10. Add chopped mushrooms back to risotto
11. Stir in raw butter
12. Remove from heat
13. Add cheese, salt & pepper
14. Transfer Risotto to individual pasta bowls and garnish with a little more cheese & rest of mushrooms
15. Serve immediately

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ventagli di Mano with Artichokes & Olives in Tomato Sauce

The world of pasta shapes to me is limitless. Sure there are plenty of different shapes out there, but that doesn't mean they are the only ones. Pasta is about fun and being creative. The main reason for pasta was to use up leftovers in a way that could feed more people than what you already have. That is a creative process on its own. This is a pasta shape I created called Vantagli di mano or "Hand fans." Here I have paired them with a hearty vegetable ragu that works perfectly to catch the sauce between all the crevasses in the pasta. You can still use a standard pasta shape instead of this one, or feel free to be creative and think of your own pasta shape.

TT = to taste

1) 1x Basic Pasta Dough – Ventagli di Mano Recipe
2) 3-4T Olive Oil
3) ½ Yellow Onion – julienne
4) 2 Lg. Garlic cloves – thinly sliced
5) 3 Lg. Sprigs of fresh thyme
6) 2 Lg. Globe Artichokes – cleaned & sliced
7) ½ c. Oil Cured Olives – Pitted & coarsely chopped
8) 1 - 28oz can of San Marzano Whole Peeled Tomatoes, run through food mill or crushed by hand
9) TT Sea Salt
10) TT Fresh Ground Black Pepper
11) About ¼ cup Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley
12) Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for Garnish
13) Pecorino Romano or Parmiggiano Reggiano Grated, for garnish

1) Add Oil to Lg. Saute pan over low heat
2) Add Onions, garlic & thyme and saute until onions have softened, about 20 minutes
3) Add artichokes and raise heat to medium - med high
4) Saute for 5-10 minutes
5) Add Olives and tomatoes and bring to boil
6) Reduce to simmer and cook until artichokes are tender and sauce has thickened, about 20-30min.
7) Add salt and pepper to taste
8) Keep Warm
9) Bring Salted water to boil
10) Once pasta has rested divide into 6 pieces
11) While working with one piece, keep the rest wrapped in plastic
12) Roll pasta out to 3 times on setting number 4
13) cut pasta into 1 1/2" X 2 1/2" rectangles
14) Starting at one end, fold rectangle into accordion shape.
15) Pinch one end and twist lightly into a hand fan shape.
16) Dust pasta with flour and reserve
17) Drop pasta into boiling water
18) Once pasta rises to top, let it cook for 30 more seconds, then add cooked to large saute pan with the sauce.
19) Add parsley to pan and toss.
20) Transfer to individual bowls and garnish with extra virgin olive oil, and cheese
21) Serve immediately

Friday, May 1, 2009

Tonnarelli with Fava Beans & Pancetta in Brown Butter & Thyme

This is one of my favorite types of pasta. Something that is so simple, yet so delicious. I have made a Tuscan style pasta dish which shows some of the best of that region... Pork & Beans! Here I have used tasty fava beans with the succulent pancetta. After one bite, you'll realize that something so delicious doesn't have to be so complex.

TT = to taste

1) 1x Basic Pasta Dough - Tonnarelli recipe
2) 1 cup Pancetta, 1/4-1/3" dice or cut into lardons
3) 1 - 1 1/2 cups Blanched & Peeled Fava Beans - around 2# of fava beans in pods
4) 1 Stick of butter plus extra
5) 3-4 Large sprigs of fresh thyme
6) Fresh coarsely ground black pepper
7) Extra virgin olive oil for garnish
8) Pamiggiano reggiano, freshly grated for garnish

1)For tonnarelli, after pasta dough has rested, cut into 6 pieces
2)While working with one piece, keep the rest of the dough wrapped in plastic wrap
3)knead pasta through machine ten times, then roll pasta sheets 3 times on the largest setting
4)sheets should be around 1 foot in length
5)let sheets rest uncovered for 15-20 minutes. While resting bring salted water to boil over high heat
6)cut pasta through the thinnest cutter, forming tonnarelli
7)in a saute pan over low heat, add the pancetta and cook stirring occasionally until crispy
8)add butter and thyme to pan and cook until the milk solids brown
9)drop pasta in boiling water, as soon as it rises to top, pull out and add to saute pan with butter and pancetta
10)add a little pasta water to pan to help form the sauce, toss pasta so sauce coats the noodles
11)At the end, add the fava beans and bring them up to temperature.
12)season with a little salt & coarse black pepper
13)transfer to individual bowls or plates, and garnish with grated parmiggiano reggiano, extra virgin olive oil, coarse black pepper & some of the thyme if desired
14)serve immediately

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pesto Genovese

This is a recipe for the classic pesto of Liguria. That is not to say that it is the only pesto. For instance, if you go to Sicily, you'll find that they put tomatoes in their pesto. I love this recipe. It goes great with almost everything. You can put it on pasta, pizza, a sandwich, with fish, chicken, beef, veal. It is so versatile and so delicious. I usually make a large batch and use it as I need it. The biggest concern in making this pesto is be sure to seal the top with the olive oil or it will discolor.

TT = to taste

Makes 1 cup

1) 1 Garlic Clove
2) 2c. Fresh Young Basil leaves, lightly packed
3) 4 T toasted pine nuts, then frozen
4) To Taste sea salt
5) To Taste fresh ground black pepper
6) ½ c cooled or chilled but not solid Extra Virgin olive oil, plus 2T for sealing
7) ¼ c. fresh grated parmiggiano reggiano

•using mortar and pestle start by crushing the garlic clove with a pinch of sea salt
•then add nuts and mash but don’t over work
•add basil leaves a few at a time and work in as quickly as possible not wanting to generate too much heat
•stir in cheese
•stir in olive oil
•season with salt and pepper
•transfer to air tight container and seal with layer of extra virgin olive oil
•Note – the faster you make the sauce, the more vibrant green the sauce will be.

Fresh Ricotta Cheese

Homemade Fresh Ricotta Cheese

Yield: about 4 cups

  1. 1 Gallon Whole Milk
  2. 1 pt. Heavy Cream
  3. 1 qt. Buttermilk
  4. ½ t. Salt


  1. In a nonreactive(stainless steel, not aluminum) saucepan over low heat milk, buttermilk, salt and cream to a boil and immediately remove from heat.
  2. ŸLine a chinois with cheesecloth and pour tepid mixture through, allowing the whey to drain through.
  3. ŸAllow to stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes
  4. Ÿ Turn out onto plate and cover with waxed paper or put in non reactive bowl and cover.
  5. Ÿ This is best eaten the day it's made but will last 1 week in the refrigerator.