Tuesday, December 20, 2016


I used a combination of two jars of strained tomatoes and a couple of small cans of fire roasted tomatoes. For a garnish, you can pick up a package of fresh basil pesto in your supermarket or just add a little bit of minced basil. This is not the canned tomato soup you had when you were a child.

3 T extra-light olive oil or avocado oil
3 T unsalted butter
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (23-oz) jars strained Italian tomatoes
2 (14-oz) cans fire roasted tomatoes
4 cups chicken stock
3 T tomato paste
2 T minced fresh Italian parsley
1 t fresh or freeze-dried oregano
¼ cup minced fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups heavy cream, or half-and-half

In a large saucepan, heat the extra-light olive oil and butter over medium-low heat.
Add the carrots and onion and sauté for about 10 minutes, until soft.
Add the garlic and sauté another minute.
Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, tomato paste, parsley, oregano, and basil.
Simmer 30 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, carefully puree the soup until very smooth.
Alternatively, let the soup cool and blend, in batches, in a blender until smooth.
Pour back into the soup pot.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Stir in the heavy cream or half-and-half and reheat to just under a boil.

If desired, garnish with a spoonful of pesto or minced basil.

Serves 6

Friday, December 16, 2016


I only make these cookies at Christmas time and my family always looks forward to them. The dough can be made plain or you can add ¼ cup poppy seeds or finely ground nuts. You can also fill with chocolate ganache instead of jelly or jam.

Strawberry, raspberry, or cherry jelly or jam
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 t vanilla or almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ t fine sea salt

Put jelly or jam in a small bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat together butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. 
You can also do this with a hand held mixer.
Add egg yolks and vanilla or almond extract and mix well. 
Gradually add the flour and salt, beating on low until well combined.

Cover and place dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll dough into small balls and place onto a baking sheet. 

Press an indentation with a thimble or end of a wooden spoon (dipped in flour) on each ball and add a small amount of jelly or jam.

Bake cookies until edges turn golden, about 13 to 15 minutes. 
Let cookies cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
Place wire rack back on baking sheet and let cookies cool for at least 30 minutes before glazing. 
The baking sheet will catch the overflow of glaze.
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 T cream or milk
1 t vanilla or almond extract

Combine glaze ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. 
Drizzle over cookies with a spoon.

Saturday, December 10, 2016


Here is another delicious way to serve shrimp scampi. This is the Italian version of the southern favorite, shrimp and grits.

2 T unsalted butter
2 T extra-light olive oil or avocado oil
½ medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
¾ lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
½ cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or dry white vermouth
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup minced Italian parsley
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)

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 zest, lemon juice, wine, and most of the parsley.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve over polenta.

Serves 2

Polenta (for 2)

1 cup water
1 cup chicken stock
½ t sea salt
½ cup polenta or coarse yellow cornmeal
1 T unsalted butter
2 T freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a saucepan, bring the water and chicken stock to a boil, then add the sea salt.

Add the polenta to the saucepan in a gentle stream, whisking as you pour.

Reduce the heat and let the polenta simmer, whisking constantly for about one minute.
Reduce heat to the lowest setting and let simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring often to prevent it from sticking. If it seems to dry, add a little more water or chicken stock.

Remove from stove, stir in the butter and grated Parmigiano cheese.

Season to taste with salt (if needed) and pepper.

Friday, December 9, 2016


Spumoni biscotti are definitely an Italian-American invention. I made them the old-school way using maraschino cherries, but you can use either dried cherries, dried cranberries, or fresh cranberries. They will last for several weeks, stored in an airtight container. They aren't too sweet and are perfect for dipping into coffee. 

3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 t almond extract
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
½ t baking soda
¼ t salt
1 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
1 cup drained maraschino cherries, patted dry with paper towels & cut in half

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

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

In a separate bowl, whisk together the 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 pistachios and cherries.

Shape dough with lightly floured hands into 2 logs of 8 by 3 inches. 
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 slices and lay on sides. 

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

Cool completely before serving or storing in an airtight container.