Saturday, June 24, 2017


I posted a recipe for a Tuna Melt in Izetta's Southern Cooking blog, so I decided to make an Italian Tuna Melt. If you use Kalamata olives and Greek kasseri cheese, it would be a Greek tuna melt. Serve this with a bowl of soup and you have a delicious meal. Did you know that one Italian sandwich is a Panino and two or more are Panini?

2 Italian rolls or Italian bread cut into 6 to 8 inches in length.

Lemon Aioli
½ cup mayonnaise
Zest and juice of ½ medium lemon 
1 t Dijon mustard
1 small clove garlic, pushed through a garlic press
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, lemon zest, juice, mustard, and garlic.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to prepare sandwiches.

Black Olive Tapenade
1 cup black Italian Gaeta olives, pitted and chopped
¼ cup  chopped Italian parsley
¼ cup chopped red onion
3 anchovies, smashed (optional)
Zest and juice of ½ medium lemon
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Mix all together in a medium bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to prepare sandwiches.

Tuna Salad
1 5-oz can solid white tuna, in oil or water, drained
¼ cup diced roasted red bell peppers 
¼ cup drained capers
2 T chopped Italian parsley
Juice of ½ medium lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 T extra-virgin olive oil

Mix all together in a medium bowl and set aside.

4 slices Provolone cheese
Shaved or thinly sliced fennel

Cut bread in half, lengthwise and spread top and bottom of each sandwich with Lemon Aioli.
Add some Tuna Salad to bottom half.
Layer on 2 slices of Provolone cheese and place under the broiler for about 1 minute, to just melt the cheese, but do not brown.
Spread some Black Olive Tapenade on top.
Add a little arugula and shaved fennel on top of tapenade and top with the other slice of bread.

Cut in half and serve.

Serves 2 to 4

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


There are two kinds of scallops, sea and bay scallops. These are large east coast sea scallops. Make sure they are very fresh. They should smell like the sea or almost sweet.
They cook very quickly and the secret to browning is to dry them off with paper towels and do not turn them until they are brown.

10 sea scallops
1 T unsalted butter
1 T extra-light olive oil or avocado oil
½ cup dry Italian vermouth
Juice of ½ lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T unsalted butter

Rinse scallops under cold water and place on a double layer of paper towels.
Pat completely dry.

Have the butter and oil ready to add to a skillet.
Put the rest of the ingredients into little bowls, ready to add to the skillet.

Season scallops with salt and pepper on both sides.

In a large skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat.
Add the scallops in a single layer, not touching each other.
Brown on one side for about 2 to 3 minutes. 
Do move scallops until they are brown, you can peek under one to see.

Turn scallops over with tongs and brown on the other side.

Remove scallops to a plate and set aside.

Lower heat in skillet to medium-low.
Add the vermouth and lemon juice.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook for a minute or two, stirring with a wooden spoon.
Add the two tablespoons of butter, then return the scallops to the pan and cook another few seconds to warm scallops. Do not overcook.

Serve with pan sauce over scallops.

Suggestion: Serve with a green vegetable and risotto.

Serves 2

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


Lemon juice and zest give the pancakes a citrus zing. Ricotta cheese gives the pancakes a fluffy texture. Blueberries give the pancakes a traditional fruity flavor. . .for a perfect Sunday morning breakfast.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
½ t baking soda
Pinch of fine sea salt

½ cup whole milk
½ cup ricotta cheese
2 T unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 T honey

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the milk, ricotta, melted butter, egg, lemon zest, lemon juice, and honey.

Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the milk mixture.
Gently whisk together being careful not to over mix.
Batter should be slightly lumpy. Set batter aside for 15 minutes.

Heat griddle and brush lightly with some oil.

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.

Using a ¼ cup measure or an ice cream scoop, pour batter in pools, 2 inches apart.

Keep pancakes warm in oven while cooking the rest.

Makes 14 to 16 pancakes

Sunday, June 11, 2017


When in Italy, my favorite meal to order in a ristorante is Chicken Milanese. You will also see Veal Milanese on the menu. Serving it over a bed of arugula and fennel is very popular entree in Positano.

Lee's Kitchen Tips:
When frying any meat or vegetable, use an oil with a high smoke point, such as avocado oil, extra-light olive oil, peanut oil, or coconut oil. Save your extra-virgin olive oil for salads and drizzling on finished dishes.

2 boneless chicken breasts
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 T water
½ cup dry breadcrumbs
½ cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Avocado or extra-light olive oil, for frying

Arugula, enough for 2 people
1 small bulb fennel, thinly sliced
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemon wedges, for serving

Cut chicken breasts in half, lengthwise. 
Place chicken breast, one at a time, in a plastic resealable bag and lightly pound with a mallet tor rolling pin to an even thinness. 
Set aside on a pizza pan or baking sheet and repeat with the other 3 pieces.
Season each chicken cutlet to taste with salt and pepper.

In a shallow bowl, add the flour.
In a second shallow bowl, whisk the egg with the water.
In a third shallow bowl, mix together the bread crumbs and Parmigiano.

Dredge each cutlet in flour, shaking off excess. 
Dip in egg to coat each side and then in the bread crumb mixture. 
Place coated cutlets back on the pizza pan or baking sheet.

In a large cast-iron skillet, pour enough oil to coat the bottom of the skillet by about ¼ inch.
Heat oil over medium-high heat until hot.

Add 2 cutlets and cook until golden brown on each side, about 3 minutes per side.
Place on a clean pizza pan or baking sheet and keep warm in a 225 degree F oven while making the salad.

To Make Salad
Rinse arugula and fennel and spin dry.
Place in a large bowl and add the lemon juice and olive oil.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Place salad on a large platter or on individual plates.
Top with cutlets and add a couple of lemon wedges and serve.

Serves 2 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017


This is an easy way to make a delicious and healthy vegetable dish. It's on the table in less than 30 minutes, from start to finish.

1 lb asparagus, trimmed
10 to 12 cremini mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed, and thickly sliced
1 shallot, diced
1 T extra-light olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 t fresh or freeze-dried thyme leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 T unsalted butter, melted
Zest and juice of ½ lemon

Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Place the asparagus, mushrooms, and shallot on a baking sheet,
Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle on the garlic and thyme leaves. 
Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
Place in oven and roast for 15 to 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the butter and add the lemon zest and juice.

Transfer asparagus and mushrooms to a warm serving platter and drizzle with the melted butter mixture.
Add 4 lemon wedges and serve.

Serves 4

Sunday, June 4, 2017


This is one of North America's favorite Italian dishes. In Italy they make this with veal. I think of this as classic Italian-American comfort food.

Lee's Kitchen Tips:
You may wonder what the difference is between marinara sauce and tomato sauce.
Marinara sauce is a tomato sauce without any meat. Tomato sauce can be flavored with pancetta or other meat and then removed.

Marinara Sauce
3 T extra-light olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 (28-oz) cans whole peeled Italian tomatoes
½ t red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
½ cup dry white wine
1 t granulated sugar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh basil

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
Add the onion and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the onions are cooking, pour the tomatoes in a bowl and hand-crush them, removing any hard center cores, and set aside.
Add the red pepper flakes and garlic to the saucepan and sauté another minute or two.
Pour the crushed tomatoes into the saucepan and cook, uncovered for 30 minutes, while you prepare the chicken.

2 boneless chicken breasts
½ cup all-purpose flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
1 T water
½ cup dry bread crumbs
½ cup panko bread crumbs
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
¼ cup extra-light olive oil or avocado oil
6 oz freshly grated or torn mozzarella cheese
2 T thinly sliced fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut each chicken breast in half lengthwise. Now you will have 4 thin chicken breasts.
Place chicken breasts, one at a time, in a large resealable plastic bag and gently pound to an even thickness. Set aside on a large plate.

In a shallow bowl, add the flour and season to taste with salt and pepper.
In a second shallow bowl, add the egg and water and whisk with a fork to combine.
In a third shallow bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, panko, and ½ cup of the Parmigiano cheese.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Dredge each chicken breast in the seasoned flour, then dip into the beaten eggs, and finally into the bread crumb mixture. Set aside on the same large plate.

Cook chicken breasts for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until cooked through and golden brown.

Spread enough of the Marinara Sauce to coat the bottom of a baking dish.
Arrange the browned chicken on top of the tomato sauce.
Spoon more tomato sauce over chicken and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and top with the remaining ½ cup of Parmigiano.

Bake in oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until cheese melts and sauce is bubbling.

Serves 2 to 4


This cocktail was first served at Greyhound's restaurant chain that was located in their bus terminals, called "Post House". This cocktail is the Italian version because of the addition of Campari and rosemary. It's a refreshing spring and summer drink.

2 T granulated sugar
1 T grated grapefruit zest
4 oz vodka                             
8 oz grapefruit juice
1 oz Campari
Grapefruit wedges, for garnish
Rosemary sprigs, for garnish

Pour sugar into a little shallow bowl. 
Grate grapefruit with a zester and set aside on a cutting board to dry out briefly.

In a pitcher, add the vodka, grapefruit juice, and Campari and mix to combine.

Make a slit in a grapefruit wedge with a knife and run it around the rim of two cocktail glasses.

Add grapefruit zest to the sugar and mix to combine.
Dip glass rims into the sugar mixture then fill with ice cubes.

Pour in the cocktail mixture and garnish with a grapefruit wedge and a sprig of rosemary.

Makes 2 drinks