Tuesday, December 26, 2017


Margaritas are generally associated with summer but with cranberry juice and fresh cranberries, it is a perfect winter or holiday cocktail.

Course sea salt
2 limes, cut in half
6 oz silver tequila
3 oz triple sec or Contreau
12 oz cranberry juice
Fresh cranberries, for garnish

Pour the salt into a small saucer and set aside.
Cut one half of the lime into circles and then cut circles in half.
Run a cut lime over the rim of 3 glasses and dip into the salt.
Squeeze the juice of 1 ½ limes into a pitcher.
Add the tequila, triple sec or Contreau, and cranberry juice.
Stir to combine.
Fill glasses half way with ice.
Pour margarita mix into the glasses. 
Garnish with some fresh cranberries and lime wedges.

Serves 3

Monday, December 4, 2017


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, or your favorite store bought 

1 cup dry white wine
20 mussels
20 little neck or manila clams

1 T unsalted butter                                       
1 T extra-light olive oil or avocado oil                             
1 large shallot, diced                                                 
2 cloves garlic, minced                                                
1 cup dry white wine                                          
2 ladles of the marinara sauce
1 t 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 pappardelle or fettucine pasta
2 T chopped fresh basil
2 T 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. If your mussels have beards, do not remove the beards until just before cooking them, or they will begin to die.

In a saucepan over medium heat, add wine, drained mussels, and clams.
Cover and slowly boil for 5 to 6 minutes, until the mussels and clams have opened. 

While shellfish are steaming, cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente, about 8 to 9 minutes. When finished cooking, pour drained pasta back into the pot. Add a little of the sauce and mix to combine.

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 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.

Monday, November 27, 2017


No need to buy expensive Crème Fraîche in your super market. You can easily make this at home.

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 T fresh lemon juice

Pour cream into a clean canning jar fitted with a clean lid and screw on band.
Add the lemon juice.
Screw on lid and shake vigorously to thicken cream.
Remove lid and cover with a clean cloth secured with a rubber band or loosely covered with plastic wrap.
Let sit in a warm spot for 24 hours.

Stir contents and screw on lid and refrigerate up to two weeks.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

LINGUINE WITH SHRIMP SCAMPI - Linguine con Scampi di Gamberetti

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)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


You can make this delicious pasta dish with any pasta you prefer and in under 30 minutes. I I think it works best with a flat ribbon-type of pasta. This is perfect for a weeknight meal.

8 oz pappardelle, tagliatelle, or fettuccine pasta
3 slices applewood smoked bacon, or you favorite, chopped
12 cremini mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 T unsalted butter
1 cup half-and-half or whole milk
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
¼ t grated nutmeg
Pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup freshly chopped Italian parsley, divided
Shaved Parmigiano, for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, once boiling, add a couple of teaspoons of salt.

While water is waiting to boil, cook bacon over medium heat until almost crisp.
Add mushrooms and cook another 3 to 4 minutes.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to directions, for al dente.

Add garlic to skillet along with butter and cook another minute.
Add half-and-half or milk, grated Parmigiano, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, and most of the parsley.

Add the cooked pasta and stir to evenly coat in sauce.

Divide pasta between two warm pasta bowls.
Sprinkle with remaining parsley and add a few shavings of Parmigiano.

Serves 2 as a main course
Serves 3 to 4 as a primi piatti (first dish)

Saturday, October 21, 2017


This is such an easy, quick, and delicious recipe to make. You can't find it any better in a fine restaurant. 

Lee's Kitchen Tips: 
Ask your fishmonger if your mussels are wild or cultivated. If they are wild, make sure they have beards attached. Do not remove beards until just before cooking. Removing the beards causes the mussels to slowly die. Wild mussels have a strong, more gamey taste. Cultivated mussels do not have any noticible beards and have a more delicate taste. 

2 lbs live fresh mussels, wild or cultivated
2 T avocado oil
4 T unsalted butter
2 large shallots, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium Roma tomatoes, diced
1 t fresh thyme leaves or ½ t dried thyme
½ t red pepper flakes (optional)
½ t saffron threads (optional)
1 cup dry white wine
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T chopped Italian parsley
Lemon wedges, for serving
Crusty Italian or French bread

Scrub the mussels with a brush under cold running water and place in a large bowl in your refrigerator. Discard any broken shells.

In a large heavy pot, heat the oil and butter over medium heat.
Add shallots and sauté for 5 minutes.
Add garlic and sauté another minute.
Add the chopped tomatoes, thyme, red pepper flakes, and saffron, if using.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Remove beards from wild mussels with a pair of "kitchen-only" needle-nose pliers or by hand, just before cooking. 
Add wine to the pot and bring to a boil.
Add mussels, cover, reduce heat and simmer until shells open, about 6 to 7 minutes. Discard any unopened mussels.

Ladle into a warm serving bowl or two warm bowls and garnish with parsley.

Serve with lemon wedges and crusty bread for dipping.

Serves 2

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

WILD MUSHROOM SOUP - Zuppa di Funghi

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. 

1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 oz dried portabella mushrooms
3 T avocado oil
3 T unsalted butter
1 lb 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 flour
2 t finely chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1 t dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Marsala wine
2 quarts chicken stock or broth
¼ cup 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 wild 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