Monday, August 29, 2016


This dish comes together in about 40 minutes, which makes it perfect for a weeknight dinner. I believe this will be one of your favorites. I use two skillets, but you can use just one large skillet, and you will have to wash it after you finish cooking the sausages. If it's just the two of you, make the entire recipe and have it another weeknight for dinner...that works for us making life easier.

1 lb Italian sausage (about 5 links)
2 T extra-light olive oil, divided
1 large yellow onion, cut in half and sliced
2 medium red bell peppers, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 t freeze-dried or fresh oregano 
1 cup dry red wine
1 lb penne pasta
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped, for garnish
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

In a skillet, heat half of the oil over medium heat. 
Add the sausages and cook for about 20 minutes, turning often. 
Remove to a cutting board and let cool.

In a large skillet that will hold the sauce and pasta, add the rest of the oil and sauté the onion for 5 minutes.
Add the bell peppers and sauté another 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and continue to cook another minute.
Turn off heat to the skillet while slicing sausages.

Slice the sausages diagonally into bite-size pieces and return to the skillet along with any juices on the cutting board.
Add the oregano and wine and cook for another 5 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile boil penne in salted water for about 8 to 9 minutes, until al dente.
Drain and add to the skillet with the rest of the ingredients.

Divide between four warm pasta bowls and drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil.
Sprinkle with the basil leaves, grated cheese, and serve.

Serves 4

PINK GRAPEFRUIT SORBET - Rosa Sorbetto al Pompelmo

I love grapefruit bubble bath, bath salts, and soaps. I love grapefruit sorbet even more! Sorbet (sorbetto in Italian) is so refreshing after a dinner on a hot summer night. You can make this a few days before you want to serve the sorbet. Keep it in an airtight container in your freezer. If you prefer a smoother sorbet, strain the juice through a fine mesh strainer.
I added a little Campari to this recipe and is definitely optional. Campari is an infusion of herbs, aromatic plants, and fruit mixed with alcohol. 

4 cups freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice (about 5 large grapefruits)
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup Campari (optional)

In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar and grapefruit juice until the sugar dissolves.
Stir a couple of times and then set aside to cool.
When cool, pour into a bowl, add the Campari and stir to combine.
Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled.
Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Transfer to a covered container and place in your freezer, until firm.

Serves 4 to 6

Friday, August 26, 2016


WWI United States Navy - Norfolk, Virginia
He immigrated to New York City on the 28th of February 1913 and 
by the 5th of June 1917, he was in the Navy.


This pizza dough is actually toasted on the stove top in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet. Using a small ball of pizza dough, form it into a circle of about 10 to 11 inches wide. I brushed the skillet with a light coating of oil and toasted the dough in the skillet for about 5 to 7 minutes on each side. You can just bake the pizza entirely in the oven, if you prefer.

One recipe Casa Pizza Dough (in my cookbook), or use already-prepared pizza dough
Oven Roasted Tomatoes (recipe below)

8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced 
20 oven roasted tomatoes
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F with a pizza stone on the bottom shelf of oven.
Let stone get really hot, for about 20 minutes.

Remove the toasted pizza dough from the skillet and place on a pizza pan or work surface.
Add the mozzarella cheese and 10 oven roasted tomato slices. 

Slip the pizza off of the pizza pan and onto the heated stone.
Bake until cheese is melted, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Slide back on the pizza pan and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with grated Parmigiano cheese.
Garnish with fresh basil leaves and enjoy!

Repeat with another ball of pizza dough.

Makes 2 individual pizzas

Oven Roasted Tomatoes
5 Roma tomatoes, each cut into 4 slices
Freeze-dried or dried oregano
Freeze-dried or dried basil
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil

Place the sliced tomatoes on a pizza pan or baking sheet.
Sprinkle with some of the oregano, basil, and garlic.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Drizzle with a little olive oil.

Place in a 250 degree F oven and slow roast for about 2 hours.
Immediately remove from pan with a spatula onto a plate to cool.


You can either make my marinara or tomato sauce recipe, make your own, or buy a good quality sauce from your supermarket. You can also find manicotti pasta tubes in your supermarket or use fresh lasagne sheets, as I did. If you don't have 6 people to serve this to, you can divide it into smaller portions and freeze it.
In the Italian language, lasagna refers to one sheet of pasta and lasagne (the plural of lasagna) refers to the dish with several layers. This distinction is rarely observed in North America.

1 recipe for either Casa Marinara Sauce or Casa Tomato Sauce
3 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
2 large egg yolks
1 ½ cups finely diced fresh mozzarella cheese
¾ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano, or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
¼ cup minced Italian parsley
¼ t ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb package fresh lasagne sheets (containing 6 sheets)

Follow my recipe for either Casa Marinara Sauce or Casa Tomato Sauce (flavored with a slice of pancetta) and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, egg yolks, half of the mozzarella cheese, most of the grated cheese, parsley, and nutmeg.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cut the sheets of lasagna in half, crosswise, and set aside.

Put a couple of ladles of sauce in bottom of a lasagne pan.

Place two tablespoons of ricotta mixture on one end of the lasagna sheet, spreading to the ends.
Roll up and place, seam side down, in the lasagne pan.
Repeat with the rest of the sheets.

Sprinkle with the rest of the mozzarella and grated cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove foil and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until filling is hot and cheese is melted.

Allow 2 pieces per person.

Serves 6

Saturday, August 20, 2016


These sandwiches are perfect for dinner on a hot summer evening. Serve with a tomato-basil salad and a glass of white wine or a beer.

2 (6 oz) cans solid white tuna, drained
¼ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, in oil
¼ cup red onion, finely diced
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup capers
¼ cup Italian black olives, seeds removed and coarsely chopped
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
Zest and juice of ½ lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mozzarella cheese, sliced
Fresh basil leaves
Crusty Italian bread, toasted
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

In a bowl, mix together the tuna, sun-dried tomatoes, onion, olive oil, capers, olives, parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add a handful of arugula to the bottoms halves of bread.
Spoon tuna salad on top of arugula.
Add a slice of mozzarella and a couple of basil leaves.
Drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil and top with bread.

Serves 4