Saturday, December 26, 2015


Victorian table Christmas tree in my sun room, which is now a 'snow room'.

Country Christmas tree cut from our property.

My little kitchen Christmas tree.

Christmas Eve with our daughter

Christmas Eve with my husband

Friday, December 4, 2015


You can use any pasta that you like in this recipe. Frutti di mare is a popular multi-seafood dish from the Amalfi Coast of Italy. Frutti di mare means 'fruit of the sea' and can include all types of seafood, including mussels, clams, shrimp, and calamari. You can adjust the heat by adding less red pepper flakes and if there is a seafood you do not like . .. leave it out. This is sure to please a seafood lover.

1 recipe for Marinara Sauce

1 cup (250 ml) white wine
20 mussels
20 little neck or manila clams

1 T (15 ml) unsalted butter                                       
1 T (15 ml) extra-light olive oil                                
1 large shallot, diced                                                 
2 cloves garlic, minced                                                
1 cup (250 ml) white wine                                          
2 ladles of the marinara sauce
1 t (5 ml) red pepper flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 large shrimp, peeled and tails removed
10 calamari rings with some tentacles

½ lb (250 g) pappardelle or fettucine
2 T (30 ml) chopped fresh basil
2 T (30 ml) chopped fresh Italian parsley

Scrub clams and mussels under cold running water and place in a bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. 
Remove from refrigerator and add cold water to the bowl to purge the shellfish. 
Drain water from bowl before steaming.

In a saucepan over medium heat, add wine, drained mussels, and clams.
Cover and let steam for 5 to 6 minutes, until opened. 

While shellfish are steaming, cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente, about 8 to 9 minutes. 

While pasta is cooking, add butter and oil to a skillet, over medium heat.
Add diced shallot, and sauté for 3 minutes.
Add garlic and sauté another minute.
Add the wine, Marinara Sauce, and red pepper flakes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Drain the broth from the pan with the clams and mussels into a glass pitcher.
Add 1 cup (250 ml) of the juice to the sauce in the skillet.
Add the shrimp and calamari and let simmer 3 to 4 minutes, until shrimp are pink.

Divide pasta between 2 warm pasta bowls.
Pour the seafood and sauce evenly over the pasta.

Garnish with chopped basil and parsley.

Serves 2 as a main course and 4 as a primi piatti.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


In America, twice baked cookies are known as biscotti. The word biscotti comes from the Latin word biscoctus, meaning twice baked or cooked. Biscotti made with a fat, such as butter or oil, will have a softer texture and shorter shelf life. These are made without butter or oil. In Italy biscotti are called cantucci or cantuccini. 

3 large eggs
1 cup (250 ml) granulated sugar
2 t (10 ml) vanilla extract
¾ cup (175 ml) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 T (15 ml) instant espresso powder
2 ½ cups (625 ml) all-purpose flour
1 t (5 ml) baking powder
½ t (2 ml) baking soda
¼ (1 ml) t salt
1 cup (250 ml) shelled, unsalted pistachios
1 cup (250 ml) dried cherries
1 cup (250 ml) dark chocolate (preferably 70% cacao), chopped

 Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C) degrees.

In a mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, espresso powder, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixer, while it is running.
With a wooden spoon, gently stir in the chopped chocolate, dried cherries, and pistachios

Shape dough with lightly floured hands into 2 logs of 8 by 3 inches (20 x 7.5 cm). 
Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes. 
Slice into ½ inch (12 mm) slices and lay on sides. 

Reduce oven to 300 F (150 C) degrees and bake for 12 minutes. 
Carefully flip them over and bake another 12 minutes.

Cool completely before serving or storing in an airtight container.

Saturday, November 28, 2015


Cool evenings are perfect for this wild mushroom soup. The addition of Marsala wine adds a wonderful flavor to the soup. Marsala wine is a fortified wine named for the city in Sicily. This can be served as a first course in smaller bowls or as a main entree with a salad or panino. 
Zuppa di funghi.

0.5 oz (14 g) dried porcini mushrooms
0.5 oz (14 g)dried portabella mushrooms
3 T (45 ml) extra-light olive oil or grape seed oil
3 T (45 ml) unsalted butter
1 lb (500 g) wild mixed mushrooms (oyster, chanterelle, cremini) wiped clean and sliced
2 cipollini onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 shallots, cut in half and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 T (45 ml) flour
2 t (10 ml) finely chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1 t dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (250 g) Marsala wine
2 quarts (2 litres) chicken stock or broth
¼ cup (75 ml) chopped Italian parsley
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Italian bread, sliced and grilled or fried with a little extra-light olive oil
White truffle oil, for drizzling (optional)

Place the dried porcini and portabella mushrooms in a bowl and pour in enough boiling water to cover; set aside.
Heat the oil and butter in a large soup pot over medium high heat.
Add the mushrooms and cook until golden and their liquid has evaporate, about 20 minutes.
Remove the porcini mushrooms from the liquid, chop, and add to the pot. Save the liquid.
Add the cipollini onions and shallots and sauté another 10 minutes.
Add garlic and sauté another minute.
Sprinkle flour into pot and cook, while constantly stirring, for 2 minutes.
Add the thyme and bay leaves.

Add the wine to the pot and stir with a wooden spoon.

Strain the porcini and portabella liquid through a fine mesh strainer and add to the pot.
Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.

Before serving, remove bay leaves and stir in the chopped parsley.

Ladle into soup bowls, add a slice or two of the Italian bread, sprinkle with grated cheese and a little drizzle of truffle oil, if desire.

Serves 4

Monday, November 23, 2015


Sunday is the perfect day for a roast pork, especially an autumn Sunday. The pork roasting in your oven will fill the house with an incredible aroma. I served it with twice baked potatoes and Harvest Escalloped Apples, recipe follows.

1 (4 to 4 ½ lb/2 to 2.25 kg) boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt)
2 T (30 ml) fennel seeds
1 T (15 ml) sea salt
2 t (10 ml) black peppercorns
1 t (5 ml) red pepper flakes
2 T (30 ml) fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
4 large cloves garlic
2 T (30 ml) extra-light olive oil
1 cup (250 ml) Marsala or white wine
½ cup (125 ml) chicken broth or stock

Pat pork dry with paper towels and place in a cast-iron skillet or heavy roasting pan.

Place fennel seeds in a small skillet and toast over medium-high heat until slightly darker in color and fragrant (about 3 to 4 minutes).
Remove from heat and let cool.
When cool, pour into a spice grinder along with salt, peppercorns, and red pepper flakes.
Grind to a medium coarseness.
Place in a small bowl and add the chopped rosemary.

Preheat oven to 450 F (230 C) degrees.

Cut each clove of garlic into 4 slivers.

Using a small paring knife, make 16 holes in the roast.
Place a sliver of garlic into each.
Rub entire surface of pork with olive oil and then spread the spice mixture over the surface.

Place in oven and roast for 30 minutes
Turn down oven temperature to 300 F (150 C) and roast for another  2 to 2½ hours, or until an instant read thermometer registers 150 F (66 C).

Transfer pork to a cutting board to rest while making the sauce.

Place skillet or roasting pan on the stove.
Add the wine and chicken stock.
Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Boil until wine mixture is reduced to about 1 cup.
Pour sauce through a mesh strainer into a bowl or gravy boat.

Carve pork into ½ inch thick slices and pour a little of the sauce over.

Serves 4 

Harvest Escalloped Apples
3 Granny Smith or Jonathan apples, peeled, sliced, and slices cut in half
2 T (30 ml) unsalted butter
3 T (45 ml) brown sugar
1 T (15 ml) granulated sugar
1 t (5 ml) ground cinnamon
½ t (2 ml) ground ginger
¼ t (1 ml) ground nutmeg
1 t (5 ml) fresh lemon juice
Pinch of sea salt
1¼ cups (310 ml) apple juice

1 T (15 ml) cornstarch
2 T (30 ml) water

In a large skillet, add the apples, butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, lemon juice, salt, and apple juice.

Cook over medium heat until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Mix the cornstarch with water and add to the pan with the apples.
Cook until thickened.