Tuesday, July 17, 2018


This is one of North America's favorite Italian dishes. In Italy, they make this with veal. 
I think of this as classic Italian-American comfort food.

Lee's Kitchen Tips:
You may wonder what the difference is between marinara sauce and tomato sauce.
Marinara sauce is a tomato sauce without any meat. Tomato sauce can be flavored with pancetta or other meat and then removed.

Marinara Sauce
3 T extra-light olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 (28-oz) cans whole peeled Italian tomatoes
½ t red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
½ cup dry white wine
1 t granulated sugar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh basil

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
Add the onion and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the onions are cooking, pour the tomatoes in a bowl and hand-crush them, removing any hard center cores, and set aside.
Add the red pepper flakes and garlic to the saucepan and sauté another minute or two.
Pour the crushed tomatoes into the saucepan and cook, uncovered for 30 minutes, while you prepare the chicken.

2 boneless chicken breasts
½ cup all-purpose flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
1 T water
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
¼ cup extra-light olive oil or avocado oil
6 oz freshly grated or torn mozzarella cheese
2 T thinly sliced fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut each chicken breast in half lengthwise. Now you will have 4 thin chicken cutlets.
Place chicken cuts, one at a time, in a large resealable plastic bag and gently pound to an even thickness.

In a shallow bowl, add the flour and season to taste with salt and pepper.
In another shallow bowl, add the egg and water and whisk with a fork to combine.
In a third shallow bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, panko, and ½ cup of the Parmigiano cheese.
Set aside on a large plate or pizza pan, like I do.

Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.

Dredge each chicken cutlet into the seasoned flour, then dip into the beaten eggs and finally into the breadcrumb mixture. Set aside on the same large plate or pizza pan.
Cook chicken cutlets for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown.
Spread enough of the marinara sauce to coat the bottom of a baking dish.
Arrange the browned chicken on top of the sauce.
Spoon a little more sauce over chicken and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and top with the remaining ½ cup of Parmigiano.
Bake in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, until cheese melts, the sauce is bubbling, and the chicken is cooked through.

Serves 2 to 4

Friday, July 13, 2018


The red sauce in this recipe is pureed red bell peppers from a jar. This is a new favorite pasta and clam dish for my husband. We do like grated cheese on our pasta and seafood dishes. My mother-in-law always told us not to serve grated cheese with seafood and pasta, but more people are doing it today, at least in the USA. . .probably not in Italy.

2 dozen littleneck clams
¼ cup extra-light olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine
3 roasted red bell peppers, in a jar
½ t red pepper flakes
1 bunch Swiss chard, stemmed and coarsely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ lb spaghetti
2 T unsalted butter
Zest and juice of ½ lemon
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Place clams in a bowl of cold water and let sit for 10 minutes.
Then drain and set aside in a bowl.

In a large skillet, heat 2 T of the olive oil and add half of the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
Add the wine and bring to a boil.
Add the clams, cover with a lid, and cook over medium-high heat for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the clams open. Discard any unopened clams.
Remove the clams with a large slotted spoon to a large bowl, cover and set aside.

Strain the cooking liquid through a sieve into a blender.
Add the roasted bell peppers and puree until smooth.

Wipe out the skillet and add the remaining 2 T of the olive oil and sauté the rest of the garlic for one minute.
Stir in the red pepper flakes and the greens. Cover and slowly cook 5 minutes.
Stir in the roasted red bell pepper broth and bring to a simmer.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the spaghetti until al dente, about 7 to 8 minutes.
Drain the pasta and add to the skillet.
Add the butter, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
Add the clams and spoon some of the sauce over the clams. Cover for a couple minutes to keep warm.
Divide between 2 heated pasta bowls and garnish with grated cheese.

Serves 2

Wednesday, July 11, 2018


Cacio e Pepe is a pasta dish from Rome. It translates to "cheese and pepper". I added pancetta for extra crunch and flavor. I also added lemon zest and juice to brighten up the dish. This is a simple dish but you must add pancetta and Pecorino Romano cheese to make this authentic. I also added Parmigiano cheese because I like the combination of the two kinds of cheese. This could become your favorite quick pasta dish.

½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 T freshly grated black pepper
1 T sea salt (for the pasta water)
1 lb spaghetti or bucatini
4 oz pancetta, diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
6 T unsalted butter
Zest & juice of 1 lemon
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T minced Italian parsley

In a bowl mix together the grated cheeses with the black pepper and set aside.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.
Add the salt and the spaghetti or bucatini and cook until al dente, about 7 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pancetta in a large saucepan or skillet over medium heat until crisp.
Remove with a slotted spoon to a towel-lined plate and set aside.

Drain off most of the fat but leave the brown bits in the pan.
Lower heat and add the butter and garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
Add the cheese mixture and cook until cheeses are melted and smooth.

Drain the pasta but save 1 cup of the pasta water.
Add the drained pasta to the pan along with some of the pasta water.
Heat through then add half of the pancetta, lemon zest, and juice.
Transfer to 4 warm pasta bowls, sprinkle on the rest of the pancetta, drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil, and garnish with parsley.

Serves 4

Friday, July 6, 2018


I don't know the reason but East Coast scallops are the sweetest scallops I have ever tasted. This is a simple and delicious way to pan fry them.

10 East Coast sea scallops
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 T unsalted butter, divided
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
3 T white wine or white vermouth
Zest and juice of ½ lemon
Snipped chives

Dry scallops with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat.
Add scallops and brown on one side, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Do not flip over until at least 3 minutes to get a nice brown color.
Flip over and brown on the other side.
Add the garlic and cook another minute.
Place scallops on two warm plates.
Add the wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, and the rest of the butter to the skillet and reduce for a couple more minutes.
Pour over scallops and garnish with snipped chives.

Serves 2

Tuesday, June 26, 2018


Every pizza parlor has their own pizzeria salad. This is one of my favorites. Add whatever you like to make it your own. 

Garlic-Parmigiano Salad Dressing
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 T minced shallot
1 t honey
¼ cup champagne or white wine vinegar
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 t Dijon mustard
¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 15-oz can chickpeas (garbanzos), rinsed and drained
1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
2 cups chopped spring mix lettuce
1 cup chopped arugula
½ red onion, diced
6 pepperoncini, stems removed and coarsely chopped
½ cup pitted black Italian olives
¼ cup sliced green olives, in a jar
1 cup mini bocconcini mozzarella balls
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 to 3 ounces Calabrese or Genoa salami, diced
2 T chopped fresh basil
1 T fresh oregano leaves
1 T freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish

Place the salad dressing ingredients in a jar fitted with a lid and shake to combine.
Store in the refrigerator until ready to dress the salad.

Place the chickpeas in a bowl and pour about 2 tablespoons of the salad dressing over to marinate for 30 minutes.

In a large salad bowl, add the salad ingredients.
Toss with some of the Garlic-Parmigiano Salad Dressing.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

You will have more salad dressing for another salad or two.