Wednesday, March 29, 2017


This sandwich makes a delicious dinner accompanied with a salad or soup. There is enough left over for another couple of dinners or lunches. They entire house had the amazing aroma of that chuck roast slowly roasting in my oven for hours.

2 T extra-light olive oil, divided
2 large yellow onions, cut in half and sliced
½ to 4 lb chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups beef broth
1 T liquid beef bouillon concentrate
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 T fresh oregano sprigs or freeze-dried
4 cloves garlic, cut in half
Provolone cheese, sliced
Golden peperoncini in jar with juice
Buttered and toasted Italian hoagie rolls

In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat one tablespoon of the oil over medium heat and sauté the onions, for about 20 minutes until caramelized; stirring often.
Remove and set aside in a bowl and cover.

Season the roast on both sides with salt and pepper.
To the same pot, add the other tablespoon of oil and brown the roast on both sides.

When brown, add the beef broth, beef concentrate, rosemary, oregano, garlic, and juice from the jar of peperoncini.
Cover with a lid and bake in a 275 degree F oven for 6 hours.

Remove from oven and carefully transfer roast to a cutting board.
Cut away the string on the roast and let cool a few minutes.

While roast is cooling, pour the beef broth from the pot through a fine mesh strainer into a saucepan. Keep warm on stove.

Using two forks, shred the beef completely and place in a medium saucepan and keep warm on stove. Discard any fat still left on the roast.

To Assemble
Place a generous amount of shredded beef on the bottoms of the toasted rolls.
Add some of the caramelized onions.
Top with cheese and place under a broiler for just a couple of minutes; long enough to melt the cheese.
Top with a few peperoncini, trimmed of stems.
Serve with individual small bowls of the beef juice for dipping the sandwiches.

Serves 6 to 8


Richmond, Virginia c1943

Monday, March 27, 2017


This is now my favorite drink. It is so refreshing and delicious!

3 to 4 oz vodka
2 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 oz Campari
1 oz Cointreau

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
Add the vodka, lemon juice, Campari, & Cointreau and shake well.
Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

Makes 2 drinks

Sunday, March 26, 2017


There is something wonderful about the combination of sautéed olives and fennel. Crostini con Olive Nere e Finocchio.

1 French baguette, cut into ¼-inch slices
1 medium bulb fennel, fronds removed (save some for garnish), diced
2 T avocado oil ir extra-light olive oil
¼ medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ t ed pepper flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup pitted and chopped Italian black olives
2 T extra-virgin olive oil

Grill bread slices on a grill pan over medium-high heat until golden brown on both sides.
In a skillet over low heat, sauté the fennel in oil for 10 minutes.
Add the onion and continue to sauté for another 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Sauté another couple of minutes.
Add the black olives and extra-virgin olive oil and heat through.

Spoon the olive-fennel mixture on top of each slice of bread and top with some fennel fronds.

Monday, March 20, 2017


If you love chicken noodle soup and you love cheese tortellini, you will love this soup. Since the weather is still cold, this soup will warm you up on a crisp Spring evening.
I served it with garlic bread and a green salad.

2 boneless chicken breasts
1 T extra-light olive oil or avocado oil
4 carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ t red pepper flakes, optional
4 cups good quality chicken stock
1 t freeze-dried or dried basil
1 t freeze-dried or dried oregano
1 package fresh cheese tortellini
¼ cup finely chopped Italian parsley
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Place chicken breasts in a saucepan and cover with water.
Simmer, partially covered until chicken is cooked through.
Drain and place chicken on a plastic cutting board to cool.
When cool, chop into bite-size pieces and set aside.

In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-low heat, add the oil and sauté the carrots, celery, and onion for 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and sauté another minute or two.
Add the chicken stock, basil, and oregano.
Simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the tortellini and simmer until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the chopped chicken and simmer another minute or two.

Add the parsley and ladle into warm soup bowls.
Sprinkle on some grated cheese and serve.

Serves 6 to 8

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


Aperol and Campari are known as Italian bitters and served as an aperitivo. Aperol is made with licorice, fennel, aniseed, popular buds, bitter clover, wormwood, valerian, gentian, bitter orange, cinchiona, and rhubarb. It became popular after the First World War. Aperol contains only 11 percent alcohol. This is a delicious and refreshing cocktail to have before an Italian dinner.

3 oz ruby red grapefruit juice (about 1 grapefruit)
½ cups Presecco sparkling white wine, chilled
¾ cup Aperol (Italian apéritif)
2 oz vodka (optional)
2 oz San Pellegrino water or other sparkling water
Ice cubes
Ruby red grapefruit slices, for garnish

Squeeze the juice from the grapefruit and pour into a pitcher.
Stir in the Prosecco, Aperol, vodka, and San Pelegrino.
Pour into 4 cocktail glasses ¾ filled with ice cubes.
Garnish with grapefruit slices and enjoy.

Makes 4 drinks 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

SPAGHETTI, PIRATE STYLE - Spaghetti alla Bucaniera

The Amalfi Coast is a stretch of coastline on the Sorrentine Peninsula in the Province of Salerno in southern Italy. Very ripe little tomatoes called pendolini (little hanging ones) are used in making fresh sauces. This pasta dish reminds me of the one I had in the small town of Praiano at the ristorante “Il Pirata” sitting above the emerald water of the Marina di Praia. This is very important: read through the recipe and have everything chopped and set aside, ready to add to the skillet. If you love seafood with pasta, this recipe is for you! You can choose any type of shellfish that you like . . . frutti di mare del giorno.

10 fresh mussels
½ lb small fresh clams
6 T extra-light olive oil or avocado oil, divided
½ lb medium or large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
1 large shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 to 2 t red pepper flakes
½ cup dry white wine
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ lb spaghetti or linguine
½ lb squid, cleaned and cut into ½-inch rings, including tentacles
1 bunch arugula, coarsely chopped

If using wild mussels, remove the beards with a pair of “kitchen only” needle-nose pliers.
Scrub the mussels and clams with a brush under cold running water.

In a large skillet big enough to hole the pasta and sauce, heat half of the oil of medium heat.
Add the shrimp and sauté until the shrimp are pink, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the skillet and sauté the shallot for 3 minutes, or until soft.
Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for another minutes.
Add the white wine and tomatoes and simmer for 3 more minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn off heat and set aside.

In a medium saucepan fitted with a lid, add 1-inch of water and bring to a boil.
Add the mussels and clams, cover and cook over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes, or until they open. Scoop the mussels and clams out of the pot with a large slotted spoon into a bowl (save the liquid), discarding any that failed to open. Cover with a plate to keep warm.

In the meantime, boil the pasta in salted water for about 7 to 8 minutes, until al dente.
Drain and set aside, saving about ½ cup of the pasta water to add to the sauce, if needed.

Add about ¼ cup of the shellfish water to the sauce in the skillet and cook another minute.
Add the squid and cook another 2 minutes and then add the arugula.
Add the drained pasta to the sauce and mix, adding the pasta water.
Divide between 2 warm pasta bowls, leaving a little sauce and juice in the skillet.
Arrange the shrimp, mussels, and clams around each bowl and pour the sauce and juice on top.
Drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil and serve.

Serves 2

Monday, March 6, 2017


Whenever I find blood oranges in my grocery store, I love to make a blood orange cocktail and a blood orange syrup cake. If you have a gluten intolerance, you can make this cake with fine ground cornmeal instead of the fine semolina flour. Buy 6 blood oranges so you will have enough juicefor the syrup and to serve slices with your cake. 

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
½ cup whole milk
Grated zest of an organic or carefully washed blood orange
1 cup ground almonds
¼ cups fine semolina flour
2 t baking powder, preferably aluminum free
¼ t fine sea salt
⅛ t (pinch) ground cinnamon
1 to 2 blood oranges for garnish

Blood Orange Syrup
½ cup blood orange juice (3 to 4 oranges)
½ cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 7 to 8-inch springform pan and place on a baking sheet.

In a mixer, beat butter and sugar together until smooth.
Add the eggs one at a time, alternating with the milk.
Beat in the orange zest, almonds, semolina, baking powder, sea salt, and cinnamon.

Using a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes, until a wooden skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Save the skewer for making holes in cake.

As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, make the blood orange syrup.
In a small saucepan, bring the blood orange juice and sugar to a full boil.
Let gently boil for one minute while whisking.
While the cake is still warm, poke holes all around top of cake with the wooden skewer.

Spoon or carefully pour the syrup over the cake and let cool to room temperature before serving.
Serve with blood orange segments, on the side.