Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Another delicious antipasto. . .and so easy to make. Make sure you buy fresh mozzarella, freshly sliced Prosciutto di Parma, extra-virgin olive oil, and fresh basil. Italian food is all about the freshest ingredients. You or your guests will love this. It can also be served for a lunch for two. 

1 thin baguette, cut into 8 thin slices, save the rest for other uses
1 large clove garlic
Extra-virgin olive oil
8 thin slices fresh mozzarella cheese
8 thin slices Prosciutto di Parma
Freshly ground black pepper
Basil leaves, thinly sliced, for garnish

Place sliced bread on a baking sheet and place under the broiler until golden brown, about 2 minutes, per side.
Let cool slightly and then rub the top side of each with the clove of garlic.
Drizzle or brush on a little olive oil and place a slice of mozzarella cheese on top.
Return to the turned off oven and let cheese slightly melt, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Top each crostino with a slice of prosciutto and drizzle on a little olive oil.
Add a little freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle on some basil leaves.

Serves 2 to 4

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Tiramisù roughly translated means "pick me up" or "lift me up". It is a traditional dessert from Italy made with espresso, mascarpone cheese, whipped cream, Savoiardi (ladyfingers), and a custard called zabaglione. Every Italian mamma has her own recipe. I was fortunate enough to enjoy one made by my friend Giuseppina Cappiello in Positano.

Espresso Syrup
1 cup brewed espresso, or 2 T instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 cup boiling water
¼ cup brandy or coffee liqueur

4 large egg yolks
½ cup granulated sugar
3 T Marsala wine

1 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 cup heavy whipping cream

24 Savoiardi Ladyfingers 
Cocoa powder, for dusting
Chocolate shavings, for garnish

In a medium bowl, mix together the espresso and brandy or coffee liqueur (such as Kahlua) and let cool.

Make a double boiler by placing a metal bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water.
Do not let the bowl touch the simmering water.
Beat egg yolks, Marsala and sugar using a hand-held electric mixer until tripled in volume, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Remove bowl from heat and beat in the mascarpone until combined.

In a large bowl, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.

Gently fold the mascarpone mixture into the whipped cream until well combined.

Quickly dip both sides of each ladyfinger into the coffee mixture.
Line a 9-inch pan with the ladyfingers. You will have to cut some to completely fill the pan.
Spread half of the mascarpone filling on top.
Dip the rest of the ladyfingers in coffee and arrange over the filling.
Spread the remaining mascarpone filling on top.
Cover and refrigerate 6 hours.

Let tiramisu stand a room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving.
Dust with cocoa and garnish with chocolate shavings, if desired.

Serves 9

Sunday, July 9, 2017


This is a classic Italian-American pasta dish you find on the menu in most Italian restaurants. You can make this at home and it will be even better and definitely less expensive than in restaurants. 

Lee's Kitchen Tips:
Normally I do not recommend cooking with extra-virgin olive oil, but for this dish you can, if you prefer, because the whole dish is done on low heat. 
Extra-virgin olive oil has a smoke point of about 375 degrees F. 
Extra-light olive oil has a smoke point of about 468 degrees F.
Avocado oil has a smoke point of about 400 degrees F.
Peanut oil has a smoke point of about 435 degrees F.

½ lb linguine
4 T unsalted butter
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
½ medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
¾ lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
½ cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or dry white vermouth
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup minced Italian parsley
4 basil leaves, minced

Cook the linguine in boiling salted water until al dente, about 6 to 7 minutes.
Save ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the butter and olive oil.
Add the diced onion and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes.
Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and shrimp.
Cook until the shrimp turn pink, about 3 minutes.

Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, wine, most of the parsley, and pasta water.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil for a minute, then add the cooked and drained linguine.
Toss to combine.

Divide between two warm pasta bowls, sprinkle on the rest of the parsley and basil and serve.

Serves 2 as a main course and 4 as a first course (primi piatti)

Saturday, July 8, 2017


Whether you call it a sub, hoagie, hero, torpedo, Dagwood, or grinder, this is a delicious Italian-American sandwich. You can cook these sausages in a skillet or outside on your BBQ grill. . .like Roberto did!

5 to 6 good quality Italian sausages, hot or mild
1 T avocado or extra-light olive oil
1 large yellow onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
2 green bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
5 to 6 Italian sausage rolls
Mustard of your choice

Fire up your BBQ grill with coals on one side of the grill.
Add the sausages, close the top and let slowly cook for about 40 minutes or until, when pierced with a fork, juices run clear. Rotate the sausage every 5 minutes or so.
You can also test with an instant meat thermometer for a temperature of 180 degrees F.

Meanwhile, add oil to a large cast-iron skillet and cook the peppers and onions over medium heat until soft and lightly golden. 
Just before peppers are done, add the garlic and cook another minute.

Place cooked sausages on rolls and add some of the peppers and onions and serve with mustard, of your choice.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

BIG MAMMA 1881-1970

This is Big Mamma (Teresa Lapetina Greco) on her front porch in Portsmouth, Virginia.
I can almost smell her Sunday Gravy simmering away on her stove.

Sunday, July 2, 2017


This is another one of my husband's favorite Sunday breakfasts. If you don't have pancetta, by all means use bacon. If you are a vegetarian, just leave it out. It will be equally delicious. 

Lee's Kitchen Tips:
To quickly make bread crumbs, if you have some Italian bread, cut off a couple of end pieces and tear up. Place in a small food processor or a nutrient extractor. Process a couple of seconds for medium size bread crumbs. This is so much better than store bought crumbs.

Spicy Gremolata
1 t avocado oil
¼ cup bread crumbs, homemade
¼ t red pepper flakes
¼ cup finely diced Italian parsley
Zest of ½ lemon
1 T freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

¼ lb pancetta, diced
2 t avocado oil
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
Sea salt and finely ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
4 eggs

In a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, add the avocado oil and bread crumbs and cook until bread crumbs are golden brown.
Add the red pepper flakes and cook a couple more seconds.
Spoon into a small bowl and let cool.
Stir in the parsley, lemon zest and Parmigiano, and set aside.

In the same skillet over medium-high heat, cook the pancetta until brown and crisp.
Spoon into another small bowl and set aside. Pour off any grease and discard.

In the same skillet over medium-high heat, add the avocado oil and cook the asparagus, turning with tongs, until lightly golden brown and fork tender, about 5 to 6 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide the asparagus between 2 plates, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and keep warm in a 225 degree F oven while frying the eggs.

Again, in the same skillet fry the eggs until crispy on the edges and yolks are still soft.
You can place a lid over the skillet for a minute, to ensure the eggs are done to your liking.

Sprinkle the pancetta over the asparagus on the two plates.
Top with 2 eggs each and sprinkle on the gremolata.

Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Serves 2 to 4