Sunday, January 24, 2016


My husband's great-grandfather, Louis Casazza, started a fruit stand in New York City in the early 1890s. He later expanded to a store and occasionally traveled to Italy to order merchandise. On the 4th of July 1898, he, his daughter Rose and brother Giacomo were passengers on the ship La Bourgogne. Early that morning it collided with the British ship Cromartyshire in dense fog off of Sable Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. He perished along with his daughter and brother. This tragedy occurred 14 years before the Titanic.

Saturday, January 9, 2016


The combination of green beans, garlic, shallots, pine nuts, and lemon zest is a delicious side dish. Fagioli Verdi con Pignoli.

½ cup (125 ml) pine nuts
2 lbs (1 kg) green beans, root end snapped off
1 T (15 ml) extra-light olive oil or grape seed oil
1 large shallot, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 t (10 ml) lemon zest
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a deep dry skillet, toast the pine nuts over medium heat until golden.
They can burn quickly so toss or stir them often.
Pour into a small bowl and set aside.

In the same skillet add water to about ¼th full. 

Bring to a boil, add a little salt and then add the beans.

Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
Drain the beans in a colander and set aside.

In the same skillet, add the oil and sauté the shallot for 3 minutes.
Add the garlic and sauté another minute.

Pour the beans back into the skillet with the shallot mixture and heat through while mixing with a spoon.

Add the lemon zest and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Scatter on the toasted pine nuts, spoon into a serving bowl, and serve.

Serves 6

Friday, January 8, 2016


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 extra-light olive oil
¼ medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ t red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup pitted and chopped Italian black olives

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 heat through.

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


The saltiness of the prosciutto, the sweetness of the fig jam and apple, and the creaminess of the melted brie make a delicious and interesting sandwich. I made a couple of small jars of Fig and Orange Jam last summer, but now you can find fig jam in your grocery store. I served these delicious sandwiches with a Greek Salad. Did you know that one Italian sandwich is a panino and two or more are panini?

1 T extra-light olive oil
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
4 slices good crusty bread
1 T unsalted butter, softened
4 T fig jam
6 oz Brie cheese, thinly sliced
6 thin slices Prosciutto di Parma
1 apple, thinly sliced into circles

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the sliced shallots and sauté until caramelized, stirring often, about 10 minutes.

Spread butter on outside of each slice of bread.
Spread a tablespoon of fig jam on the inside of each slice of bread.
Layer the brie, prosciutto, apple slices, and shallots. Top with the other slice of bread.

Grill in a panini grill or in a cast iron skillet until golden brown and the cheese is melted.

Cut sandwiches in half and serve with a salad or soup.

Serves 2