Sunday, August 30, 2015


The first time I tasted grilled zucchini was a the home of Carmine Pallone and Giuseppina "Pina" Cappiello. Pina grilled the zucchini on the terrace of their home in beautiful Positano. The zucchini can be served on bruschetta or as a side dish (contorni). Zucchine alla Griglia.

¼ cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
Juice of 1 small lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Extra-light olive oil
4 medium zucchini
½ t (2 ml) red pepper flakes
2 basil leaves, stacked and thinly sliced (chiffonade)

Using a mandolin, thinly slice the zucchini lengthwise into long ribbons and lay on a baking sheet (be careful when the zucchini get thin that you don’t slice your fingers). Alternatively, thinly slice with a sharp knife.

Brush a grill pan with extra-light olive oil and grill the zucchini slices in batches until grill marks appear, about 3 minutes on each side.
Place them back on the baking sheet and when finished grilling, pile onto a platter.
Drizzle with some of the vinaigrette, then sprinkle with red pepper flakes and basil.


Braciole is a traditional Sunday Italian-American dinner. It’s made even better by adding a little pasta or polenta on the side. It simmers slowly on the stove for four hours. While the amazing aroma of this cooking fills the house, listen to a couple of Puccini operas, Luciano Pavarotti or Enrico Caruso. You can prepare the steak the day before and refrigerate. For added flavor add a few Italian sausages to the gravy. Brown them before you brown the steaks and simmer together. Tutti a tavola a mangiare!

The recipe is in my cookbook available on or a signed copy from my website. It's also available in 4 Seattle area Costcos.

Monday, August 24, 2015


Many countries have their own version of an apple cake. Mamaw used to make this for family gatherings. The only extra ingredients I have added are the apple brandy and lemon zest, but you don’t have to use them. Either way it is amazingly moist and delicious . . . even great for breakfast. Torta di Mele.

Softened butter
3 large Golden Delicious or Honeycrisp apples
½ cup (125 ml) unsalted butter (1 stick)
¾ cup (175 ml) pastry or all-purpose flour
½ t (2 ml) baking powder
½ t (2 ml) salt
1 t (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
1 T (15 ml) apple-flavored brandy, such as Calvados (optional)
1 cup (250 ml) granulated sugar
2 t (10 ml) finely grated lemon zest
Confectioners’ sugar, for topping

Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch (23-cm) springform pan.
Peel, core, and cut apples into ¼-inch (6-mm) thick slices.

In a large skillet over very low heat, melt the butter.
Pour most of the melted butter into a large bowl and set aside.
Add the apples slices to the remaining butter in the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let cool.

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C) degrees.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In the large bowl with the melted butter, whisk in the eggs until well blended.
Add the vanilla, brandy, sugar, and lemon zest.
Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the flour mixture and stir until well combined.

Pour apples into the springform pan and spoon the batter on top of the apples, smoothing the top.

Place springform pan on a baking sheet and bake until cake is lightly browned, about 40 minutes.
Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and let the cake cool in the pan to set.
When cool, remove rim and place the cake on a serving plate.

Just before serving, dust with confectioners’ sugar and add scoop of vanilla gelato or vanilla ice cream to each portion, if desired.

Serves 6 to 8

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Sicilian gelato typically does not use eggs or cream and therefore contains less butterfat than ice cream. It is stabilized by adding cornstarch in place of the eggs. For a creamy texture, use whole milk.

4 cups (1 litre) whole milk
2 T (30 ml) cornstarch
¾ cup (175 ml) granulated sugar
1 T (15 ml) coffee liqueur (Kahlua or Tia Maria)
¼ cup (60 ml) instant espresso powder, or more to taste

In a small bowl, make a slurry by mixing ¼ cup (60 ml) of the milk with the cornstarch. Whisk until smooth.
In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer, then remove from the heat.
Add the sugar and the cornstarch mixture and stir. Return to a simmer for about 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and add the coffee liqueur and espresso powder. Stir to combine.

Let cool and then pour into a covered container and refrigerate until completely chilled.
Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Transfer to a covered container and place in your freezer, until firm.

Serves 4


Zabaglione is an Italian unset custard, pronounced “zah bahl YOH nay.” In French cooking it is called sabayon.
Using a hand-held electric mixer, it takes just a few minutes to thicken. Spoon some fruit into crème brûlée dishes, drizzle on some zabaglione and put under the broiler for just a few seconds. Traditionally zabaglione it is made with Marsala wine, but I prefer it with Limoncello, which is mainly produced in Southern Italy from Naples to Salerno. Use any fruit of your choice. I used, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries.

3 cups (750 ml) mixed fresh berries
3 T (45 ml) granulated sugar
4 large egg yolks
¼ cup (60 ml) granulated sugar
Pinch of sea salt
2 t (10 ml) grated lemon zest
¼ cup (60 ml) Limencello (a sweet Italian lemon liqueur)

In a bowl, toss the berries with the 3 tablespoons of sugar and spoon into 4 ramekins or crème brûlée dishes. 
Place on a baking sheet and set aside.

Combine the egg yolks, sugar, sea salt, lemon zest, and limoncello in a large metal or glass bowl. 
Using an electric hand mixer, mix vigorously until slightly thickened and the color is pale yellow. 
Set the bowl of a saucepan of simmering water, being careful not to let the bowl touch the water. 
On high speed, mix again until it has tripled in volume and is thick and creamy, about 5 minutes.

Spoon some of the zabaglione over the fruit.
Place under the broiler for 30 to 45 seconds. Don’t walk away as it burns very quickly.

Serves 4

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Amaretto is a sweet almond flavored Italian liqueur. Here is a dessert using very ripe peaches, mascarpone cheese, whipped cream, amaretto liqueur, amaretti cookies and sliced almonds – a perfect combination.

3 large ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into chunks 

¼ cup (60 ml) amaretto liqueur
1 T (15 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
8 small amaretti cookies

6 oz (185 g) mascarpone, room temperature 

¼ cup (60 ml) granulated sugar
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream

¼ cup (60 ml) sliced almonds

Put peaches into a bowl and add the amaretto and lemon juice. 
Gently toss to coat and set aside.

Place cookies in a zippered plastic bag and seal.
Gently crush with a mallet or rolling pin. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the mascarpone and sugar until well blended and fluffy. In another bowl, with a hand-held mixer, whip the cream until stiff peaks form.

Using a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture just until combined. Place a spoonful of the peaches along with some juice into each of 4 parfait or ice cream dishes. Spoon some of the mascarpone-cream mixture on top of the peaches.
Repeat with more peaches and juice, ending with the mascarpone-cream on top.

Chill until ready to serve.

Before serving, sprinkle on the crushed amaretti cookies and top with sliced almonds. 

Serves 4