Wednesday, March 28, 2018


You can make this meal in 30 minutes. Chop up everything and place it on a platter so it is ready to add to the skillet. We love Spaghetti alla Puttanesca and this sauce is excellent over fish. I made this with cod, but you can use haddock, red snapper, halibut, or any firm white fish you prefer. 

4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces.
1 T avocado oil
1 shallot, cut in half and thinly sliced
¼ t red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 anchovy fillets
2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 T chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 T chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 T chopped fresh basil
½ cup pitted and coarsely chopped Italian black olives (I use Gaeta olives)
2 T capers
Zest and juice of ½ lemon
A splash or two of dry white wine, (I use Pinot Grigio)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley

2 fish fillets, about 6 to 8 ounces each

Lemon slices, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place potatoes in a cast-iron skillet and drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper.
Roast for 15 minutes while you make the Puttanesca Sauce.

Puttanesca Sauce
In a skillet, add the oil and sauté the shallot for 2 minutes.
Add the red pepper flakes, garlic, and anchovies. 
Sauté another minute while breaking up the anchovies with a spoon.
Add the chopped tomatoes, rosemary, oregano, basil, olives, capers, lemon zest, lemon juice, and wine.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Let simmer for 5 to 7 minutes only.
Stir in parsley, turn off heat and set aside.

Place fish on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little oil.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove potatoes from oven and scrape up any potatoes with a metal spatula that are stuck to the bottom of the skillet. 
Place back in the oven along with fish and bake both for 8 to 10 minutes.
The fish should be flaky when pierced with a fork.

Using a spatula, add a fillet of fish to each plate and add a side of potatoes.

Briefly, reheat the sauce and spoon some over each fillet.

Serve with a green salad.

Serves 2

Thursday, March 22, 2018


If you love chicken or veal marsala, I think you will love this recipe made with pork chops and topped with Prosciutto di Parma and mozzarella.

Lee's Kitchen Tips:
In 2011 the new guidelines from the National Pork Board and the USDA recommends cooking pork to 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63 degrees Celsius). That's 15 degrees less than what was recommended for years and...that's a good thing because your pork chops will not be dried out and tough. I removed the pork chops to a baking sheet when they registered 140 degrees F. The temperature will rise and they will also go under the broiler for a minute or two.

¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 (1-inch thick) bone-in pork chops
2 T avocado or extra-light olive oil, divided
12 cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
1 t fresh or dried thyme
½ cup dry Marsala wine
¼ cup chicken stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 slices Prosciutto di Parma
2 slices mozzarella cheese
2 T Italian parsley, for garnish

Pour flour into a shallow bowl and dredge pork chops in flour.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the pork chops and cook about 8 to 9  minutes, per side and internal temperature is 140 degrees F.
Transfer to a baking sheet and set aside.

Turn on broiler and place rack in the middle of the oven.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and cook the mushrooms until lightly browned.
Add the shallot, garlic, and thyme and cook another 2 minutes.
Add the wine and bring to a simmer, stirring up any brown bit from the bottom of the skillet.
Add the chicken broth and season with salt and pepper.
Keep warm on the stove.

Place a slice of Prosciutto on top of each pork chop and top with a slice of mozzarella.

Place under broiler and broil until cheese is melted, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Place pork chops over steamed spinach, buttered noodles, or mashed potatoes.

Serves 2

Monday, March 19, 2018


Here is a different pasta sauce using a ragù recipe with fennel. Ragù is a meat-based sauce.

2 T avocado oil or extra-light olive oil
1 large fennel, finely diced, plus chopped fronds, for garnish
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
½ cup dry white wine
1 lb lean ground beef
½ t red pepper flakes
1 28-oz can whole peeled, Italian tomatoes
3 T tomato paste
1 lb tagliatelle or fettuccine
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese, for serving

In a large skillet, big enough to hold the pasta and sauce, add the oil and over medium heat, sauté the fennel and onion for 5 minutes. 

Add the garlic and sauté another minute.
Add the wine and let cook a couple of minutes to almost evaporate.
Add ground beef and red pepper flakes and cook until meat turns brown, about 10 minutes.
Pour the tomatoes into a bowl and hand-crush them, removing any hard center cores.
Alternatively, use an immersion blender to chop the tomatoes.
Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste to the skillet with the beef mixture.
Simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, while the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Boil your pasta until al dente. Save a ladle full of the pasta cooking water and add to the skillet with the beef.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Drain pasta and add to the skillet and mix to combine..

Divide between 4 warm pasta bowls, sprinkle with a few fronds, and Parmigiano cheese.

Serves 4

Thursday, March 15, 2018


You probably haven’t heard about this passenger shipwreck. It happened off of Sable Island, Nova Scotia, on July 4th, 1898, in dense fog at dawn’s early light. It occurred 14 years before the infamous Titanic disaster. No Hollywood movies were ever made about this disaster and 584 souls were drowned. Three were from the Casazza family: Luigi (Louis), his young daughter, Rose and his brother James (Giacomo). Only one woman survived (Mrs. Adrian LaCasse), and she was saved by her husband. This newspaper article was about my husband's great-grandmother Catherine (Catarina), the wife of Louis. She was Thirty-two years of age at the time of the accident, a wife and mother of five children. When she lost her husband and daughter on that fateful morning, she was left to raise her other children, ranging in age from one to fourteen. It is likely that other Italian-American descendants today may have had ancestors on that doomed ship.  It was a horrific tragedy.