Thursday, May 26, 2016


Wedding Day 3 Dec 1942 
Mrs. Theodore Robert Casazza

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


This is a quick vegetarian pasta meal. I have been making this for years and we still love it and I haven't changed the recipe. Sometimes I just crave this simple dish. 

½ lb spaghetti or pasta of choice
2 T extra-light olive oil
½ t red pepper flakes
½ onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 
½ pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
½ bottle Italian black olives, pits removed
½ bottle green olives, cut in half
½ bottle capers, drained
½ cup dry white wine
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 T chopped fresh basil
½ cup pasta cooking water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Cook spaghetti for about 6 minutes, just before al dente.
Save ½ cup of the pasta water. Drain pasta and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet that will hold the pasta sauce and pasta, sauté red pepper flakes and onion in oil for 5 to 6 minutes. 
Add garlic and sauté a couple more minutes.
Add tomatoes along with olives, capers, and wine and cook 2 more minutes. 
Add pasta and cook another minute.
Add parsley, basil and pasta cooking water, and heat through.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Drizzle on a little extra-virgin olive oil and mix in.

Top with grated Parmigiano cheese and serve.

Serves 2

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


You can cook the mushroom mixture the morning or day before and refrigerate.
When you are ready to serve, heat it up in a skillet and make sure your gorgonzola cheese is room temperature. I love the addition of sun-dried tomatoes for that little bit of sweetness along with the woodsy flavor of the mushrooms, and the robust cheese.

12 thin slices Italian or French bread
2 T extra-light olive oil
2 cups diced wild mushrooms (shitake, oyster, and I also used cremini)
1 shallot, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ t red pepper flakes
6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, diced
2 T chopped Italian parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

⅓ cup gorgonzola cheese, room temperature
8 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place slices of bread on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 3 minutes, until golden brown. 
Flip over and bake another 2 or 3 minutes. Don't let them burn, because they are thin.
Remove and set aside.

In a medium skillet, heat oil and add the mushrooms and cook until golden brown, stirring frequently. This can take up to 15 minutes.
Add the shallot and cook another 3 minutes.
Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and sun-dried tomatoes. 
Continue to cook another minute or two.
Add the parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add lemon juice and stir to combine.

Spread about a teaspoon or a little more of the gorgonzola cheese on each crostini.
Top with about 2 teaspoons of the mushroom mixture.
Garnish with a little basil and serve warm.

Makes 12

Friday, May 20, 2016


The Black-Eyed Susan cocktail got its name from the blanket of Black-Eyed Susan flowers that is draped over the winning horse at the Preakness Stakes. The 2000 flowers that make up the blanket are actually mums. Black-eyed Susans do not bloom until summer. This Maryland horse race is held the third Saturday in May at Pimlico Race Course, in Baltimore. There are several recipes for this cocktail but I think this is closer to the official drink. I tweaked it a bit by giving it another ounce of St Germain and a little more lime juice. Some recipes call for vodka and bourbon, as well as a sour mix, but I think this is delicious and refreshing and you can actually taste St Germain.

1 cup vodka
3 oz St Germain Liqueur (elderflower liqueur)
1 cup pineapple juice
2 oz lime juice
3 oz orange juice
4 Maraschino cherries, with stems
8 orange wedges         

In a pitcher or large cocktail shaker, mix together the vodka, St Germain, pineapple juice, lime juice, and orange juice.

Fill four glasses ¾ full with pounded or crushed ice.

Divide mixture between the four glasses.

Put two orange wedges on a cocktail pick and add a cherry.

Makes 4 drinks

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Whenever I think about making brownies, I think of Wolf Trap Park for the performing arts in Virginia. In the summer, we would pack up a picnic dinner and I always made brownies for dessert. We'd sit on a blanket in the grass or, if we were lucky, we would find one of the very few picnic tables. After the picnic, we go into the building for the show. The addition of a small amount of espresso powder is a perfect partner for rich chocolate. These brownies are bittersweet and my opinion, perfect brownies!

½ cup unsalted butter
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (½ bag)
3 oz dark or bittersweet chocolate, broken into small chunks
1 T espresso powder 

⅔ cup all-purpose flour
½ t baking powder
¼ t sea salt
1 T cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 t pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour an 8-inch square pan.

In a heavy large saucepan, over medium-low heat, melt the butter.
Stir in the chocolate, and espresso powder.
Remove from heat and set aside to let chocolate melt, stirring occasionally.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.

Whisk the eggs into the chocolate and butter mixture.
With a wooden spoon, beat in the sugar and vanilla and mix thoroughly. 
Add the flour mixture and mix again. 

Bake for 25 minutes. 

Let cool for 20 minutes before cutting into squares with a knife dipped in water.

Serve with vanilla gelato.