Thursday, March 15, 2018


Linguine with shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce is one of my husband's favorite dishes.

Lee's Kitchen Tips:

You may wonder what the difference is between Fra Diavolo, Arrabbiata, and Amatriciana sauces are.
Fra Diavolo (translates to Brother Devil) is an Italian-American invention made with tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil, and hot red pepper flakes. It is usually served with lobster or shrimp.
Arrabbiata (translates to Angry) is an Italian invention made with tomatoes, sometimes onion, garlic, basil, and hot red pepper flakes. It is usually served without any meat or seafood and over penne or other short pasta.
All'Amatriciana (translates to Amatrice way) is an Italian sauce typically made with guanciale (pork jowl or cheeks), tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil, parsley, hot red pepper flakes, and Pecorino Romano cheese. In Italy they do not add shrimp to this dish. 

12 extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
2 T extra-light olive oil
½ medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
½ cup dry white wine
½ to 1 t red pepper flakes (optional, of course)
1 can (28-oz) whole peeled Italian tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 T chopped fresh basil

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

In a large skillet, add the oil and heat over medium-high heat.

When the oil is hot, add the shrimp and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.
Remove shrimp to a bowl and set aside.
Add the onion to the skillet and sauté for 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and sauté another minute.
Add the wine and red pepper flakes and stir to combine.

Pour tomatoes into a large bowl and hand-crush them, removing any hard center cores.

Alternatively, use an immersion blender to chop the tomatoes.

Add the tomatoes to the skillet and season with salt and pepper.

Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a couple of teaspoons of sea salt and boil the linguine for 7 to 8 minutes, until al dente.

Ladle out some of the salted pasta water and reserve.

Drain pasta and set aside.

Add a about ¼ cup of the pasta water to the tomato sauce and simmer another minute or two. 

Stir in the basil and shrimp and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes, just to heat the shrimp through.

Remove the shrimp to a bowl, cover, and set aside.

Add the linguine to the sauce and heat through.

Spoon into two warm pasta bowls, equally divide the shrimp between each bowl of pasta and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.

Serves 2


You probably haven’t heard about this passenger ship wreck. It happened off of Sable Island, Nova Scotia, on July 4th 1898, in dense fog at dawn’s early light. It occurred 14 years before the infamous Titanic disaster. No Hollywood movies were ever made about this disaster and 584 souls were drowned. Three were from the Casazza family: Luigi (Louis), his young daughter, Rose and his brother James (Giacomo). Only one woman survived (Mrs. Adrian LaCasse), and she was saved by her husband. This newspaper article was about my husband's great-grandmother Catherine (Catarina), the wife of Louis. She was Thirty-two years of age at the time of the accident, a wife and mother of five children. When she lost her husband and daughter on that fateful morning, she was left to raise her other children, ranging in age from one to fourteen. It is likely that other Italian-American descendants today may have had ancestors on that doomed ship.  It was a horrific tragedy.

Saturday, March 3, 2018


In my Italian-American cookbook, I have this recipe but with pappardelle. I made the sauce but served it with rigatoni. 
I like it even more because the sauce gets inside the rigatoni.

1 lb mild or hot Italian sausages, about 5 to 6 links
1 cup good dry Italian white wine, such as Pinot Grigio, divided
2 T avocado oil or extra-light olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
2 (28-oz) cans whole peeled Italian tomatoes
1 t freeze-dried or dried oregano
1 t minced fresh basil or freeze-dried basil
1 t red pepper flakes, optional
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lb rigatoni
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Remove sausage from casings and place in a large bowl.
Pour in some of the white wine and crush with hands until sausage is in small pieces.
The wine makes it easier to break up the sausage.

Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes.
Add garlic and sauté another minute.

Add the sausages and cook for about 5 minutes, breaking up pieces with a wooden spoon.
Add the rest of the wine and cook until wine has mostly evaporated.

In the same large bowl, pour in the tomatoes and hand-crush them, removing the hard center cores. Alternatively, use an immersion blender to chop the tomatoes.

Add the crushed tomatoes to the pot along with the oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and simmer 30 minutes.

Boil the rigatoni in salted water for about 9 to 10 minutes, until al dente.
Drain rigatoni and pour back into the pot.
Add a couple ladles of the sausage sauce and toss.
Spoon into warm pasta bowls and add a little more sauce and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Serves 4

Monday, February 26, 2018


When in Italy, one of my favorite dinners is to have a rotisserie chicken on a bed of arugula dressed with a simple lemon vinaigrette. This is so delicious as a complete dinner. I first made a mustard-lemon marinade for the chicken and then a lemon vinaigrette for the arugula. This is one of my favorite go-to recipes. Delizioso!

3 cloves garlic, pushed through a garlic press
2 t thyme leaves, minced
2 t oregano leaves, minced
2 t rosemary leaves, minced
½ t onion powder
½ t paprika
Zest and juice of 1 small lemon
3 T Dijon mustard
2 T extra-light olive oil or avocado oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 (3 ½ to 4 lb) whole roasting chicken

In a small bowl, mix together all of the Marinade ingredients.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place chicken in a large cast-iron skillet or baking dish and tie legs together with kitchen twine.
Spoon and pat the mixture all over the chicken, including some into the cavity.

Place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Remove chicken from refrigerator and let sit on counter while you preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

When oven temperature reaches 400 degrees, place chicken in oven and roast for 45 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375 and roast another 15 to 20 minutes, or until juices run clear when you cut between the leg and breast.
Breast meat should register 160-165 degrees F when you test with an instant-read thermometer. Temperature will rise a few more degrees and you don't want to dry out your chicken.

Remove to a cutting board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest 15 minutes.

Carve and serve and place on a bed of arugula with pan juices, on the side, if desired

Serves 4

Arugula Salad
1 container of baby arugula, rinsed in cold water and spun dry
3 T white wine vinegar
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, pressed or minced
1 t Dijon mustard
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place arugula in a large salad bowl.
Mix the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and mustard in a small bowl.
Whisk in the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour as much as needed over arugula and mix to combine.
Save any left-over vinaigrette in a covered jar.

Serves 2 to 4

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


This is one of our favorite meals. It’s a perfect weeknight dinner and also great for serving to guests. Have all of your ingredients cut up and set aside on a pizza pan or platter, ready to add to the skillet. If you can't find chicken tenders, cut up boneless, skinless chicken breast halves into smaller pieces. The addition of olives and lots of fresh herbs captures the taste of sunny Italy!

1 lb chicken tenders or boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
½ cup all-purpose flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup avocado oil or extra-light olive oil, divided
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 onion, cut in half and sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup dry vermouth or white wine
½ cup pitted or stuffed green olives, cut in half
½ cup pitted Italian black olives, cut in half
2 T capers
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 T chopped fresh oregano
2 T chopped fresh basil
1 T chopped fresh rosemary
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Pour flour into a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Dredge chicken in flour, shake off excess and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat half of the oil over medium-high heat.
Add the chicken in two batches and cook until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Set aside on a plate.

Add the rest of the oil and cook the bell peppers and onions for about 5 minutes, stirring often.
Add the garlic and cook another minute.
Add the wine and cook for a minute, while stirring with a wooden spoon.

Return the chicken to the skillet with the peppers and onions, stir and cook about 3 minutes.
Lower heat and add the olives, capers, herbs, and season with salt and pepper. 
Toss to combine.

Transfer to 4 plates or one warm large platter and drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil. 

Serve with roasted potatoes or orzo and a bottle of Frascati, known as "gold wine" by the Romans.

Serves 4


These little mini sweet pepper poppers, make a delicious hors' d'oeuvre (appetizer).
You could used Gorgonzola cheese in place of the goat cheese, if you prefer. You can also replace the pancetta with bacon. They also make a delicious lunch for two.

2 oz pancetta, finely diced
8 oz goat cheese (chèvre), room temperature
2 T half-and-half or milk
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, pressed
½ t red pepper flakes
½ cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 T unsalted butter, melted
1 bag mini sweet peppers, assorted colors, cut in half, lengthwise, seeds removed
1 T minced Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cook pancetta in a skillet until brown.
Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the goat cheese, half-and-half or milk, scallions, garlic, red pepper flakes, and pancetta.

In another bowl, mix together the panko, Parmigiano, and butter.

Divide goat cheese mixture evenly among pepper halves.
Sprinkle tops with the panko mixture.

Place on the baking sheet and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until tops are golden brown.
Don't overcook the peppers.
Sprinkle with parsley and serve warm.

Sunday, February 11, 2018


This recipe is a version of my Spaghetti alla Puttanesca but made with cherry tomatoes instead of crushed canned tomatoes. It comes together in less than 30 minutes, making it ideal for a weeknight dinner. In the Italian language a puttana is a "lady of the night." This pasta dish is quick and easy to make, and perhaps that's how it got its name. . .because the ladies of the night could make it quickly between customers.

Lee's Kitchen Tips:
I chop up the onion, garlic, anchovies, basil, black olives, and cherry tomatoes and place in piles on a pizza pan or individual small bowls. Then you just add to the skillet, when needed.

½ lb spaghetti
1 T avocado oil or extra-light olive oil 
½ yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 to 4 anchovies, mashed
3 T minced basil
½ cup pitted and chopped Italian black olives, such as Cerignola and/or black Gaeta
2 T capers, drained
½ t red pepper flakes 
½ cup dry white wine
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing 
¼ cup minced parsley, for garnish
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese, for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the spaghetti and cook 7 to 8 minutes,
until al dente. Drain the spaghetti, but save ½ to ¾ cup of the pasta water.

In a large skillet, heat the oil and sauté the onion for a couple of minutes. 
Add the garlic and anchovies and cook another 2 minutes. The anchovies will melt into the pot as it cooks.
Add the basil, olives, capers, red pepper flakes, and wine. Cook another minute.
Add the tomatoes and cook another minute.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the drained spaghetti and pasta water and heat through for another minute or two.
Divide between two heated pasta bowls.

Drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with parsley.
Serve with grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Serves 2