Sunday, June 20, 2021


There are two kinds of scallops, sea and bay scallops. These are large east coast sea scallops. Make sure they are very fresh. They should smell like the sea or almost sweet.

They cook very quickly and the secret to browning is to dry them off with paper towels and do not turn them until they are brown.

10 sea scallops
1 T unsalted butter
1 T extra-light olive oil or avocado oil
½ cup dry Italian vermouth
Juice of ½ lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T unsalted butter

Rinse scallops under cold water and place on a double layer of paper towels.
Pat completely dry.

Have the butter and oil ready to add to a skillet.
Put the rest of the ingredients into little bowls, ready to add to the skillet.

Season scallops with salt and pepper on both sides.

In a large skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat.
Add the scallops in a single layer, not touching each other.
Brown on one side for about 2 to 3 minutes. 
Do move scallops until they are brown, you can peek under one to see.

Turn scallops over with tongs and brown on the other side.

Remove scallops to a plate and set aside.

Lower heat in skillet to medium-low.
Add the vermouth and lemon juice.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook for a minute or two, stirring with a wooden spoon.
Add the two tablespoons of butter, then return the scallops to the pan and cook another few seconds to warm scallops. Do not overcook.

Serve with pan sauce over scallops.

Suggestion: Serve with a green vegetable and risotto.

Serves 2

Thursday, June 17, 2021


The eggplants are so crispy and are baked in the oven.  I made a marinara sauce with canned cherry tomatoes and sautéed some Swiss chard and that was spooned under the marinara sauce. I peel the eggplant leaving stripes; otherwise, the peel can be quite chewy.

Lee's Kitchen Tips:
I saved the larger slices for the dishes and just had a few smaller ones for my husband to enjoy, plain, right out of the oven.

Baked Eggplants
2 large eggplants, partially peeled and cut into ½-inch thick slices.
1 cup all-purpose flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
2 T water
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Cherry Tomato Marina Sauce
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 14-oz cans cherry tomatoes
1 small bunch fresh basil leaves, torn or chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Swiss Chard
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch Swiss chard, trimmed of middle stems and chopped 

In a shallow bowl, add the flour and season generously with salt and pepper.
In a second shallow bowl, whisk the egg with the water.
In a third shallow bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, panko, and grated Parmigiano.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Drizzle some oil on a large baking sheet pan and set aside.
Dip eggplant slices in flour, shaking off excess, then dip in egg mixture and finally in bread crumb mixture.
Place eggplant slices on the baking sheet and drizzle a little more oil on top.
Bake for 20 minutes, flip each one over, and bake another 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with a little more Parmigiano and add a piece of provolone cheese on top.
Place back in oven for cheese to melt, about 3 to 4 minutes.

In a saucepan, heat the oil over low heat and sauté
the garlic red pepper flakes for a minute or two.
Add the cherry tomatoes and mash lightly with a fork or potato masher.  Leave the tomatoes mostly whole.  Simmer for 20 minutes, add basil and season with salt and pepper
Set aside and keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, add the olive oil and sauté
the Swiss chard until soft, about 5 minutes.  
Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
Set aside and keep warm.

To Assemble
Spoon half of the chard in the middle of a plate.
Ladle on some cherry tomato sauce.
Add 4 slices of the eggplant and garnish with basil, if desired.

Serves 2

Sunday, June 13, 2021


Capicola, capocollo, or coppa, is a traditional Italian cold-cut (salume) made from pork.

One recipe for pizza dough or already-prepared dough
One recipe for pizza sauce or store-bought pizza sauce

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
4 oz capicola him, thinly sliced
Oregano for sprinkling on top of the pizza
2 t extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Lightly oil two pizza pans.

Preheat a pizza stone on the bottom rack of oven for 15 minutes.

Place a ball of dough onto the center of each pan. Use your hands to stretch, form, and flatten each ball of dough to a 10 or 12-inch round.

Spread a ladle of pizza sauce on the rolled-out pizza dough, leaving a border all around.

Sprinkle with a little Parmigiano cheese, 4 slices of the mozzarella cheese, and 4 slices of ham. Sprinkle with a little oregano.
Place pizza pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake 5 minutes; then slide the pizza directly onto the heated stone and bake another 10 minutes.

Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and add a garnish of basil when finished baking.

Makes 2 12-inch pizzas or 4 personal size pizzas

Saturday, June 12, 2021


To butterfly a chicken for roasting, you remove the backbone, make a slit in the breastbone, also known as keel bone, and flatten it before cooking. The chicken cooks faster and the skin browns more evenly with this method. I made a fresh salsa verde (green sauce) to serve along with the chicken.  If you prefer a chimichurri sauce to serve with the chicken, I added that recipe too, but that isn't Italian. . .more South American.  Both are delicious!

1 (3 to 4 lb) whole chicken
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1 T extra-light olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Place chicken, breast side down, on a plastic cutting board.
Cut out the backbone with kitchen shears and trim off any excess fat at the base of the tail.
Discard chicken back or save in a plastic baggie and freeze for making stock later.
Using a sharp knife, make a slit at the top, between the breastbone (this will help flatten the chicken).
Turn chicken over and press down hard with your hands to flatten the chicken.
Tuck wings under and flip legs inward and down.

Place thyme sprigs on a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan.
Place chicken, breast side up, on top of the thyme sprigs.
Rub the olive oil all over the skin of the chicken.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Place in oven and roast for about 60 minutes, basting with pan juices, after 30 minutes. 
Chicken is done when the skin is golden brown and breast meat registers 165 degrees F with an instant-read thermometer.

While chicken is roasting, make the Salsa Verde.

Remove chicken from oven and place on a cutting board, tented with foil for 5 minutes before cutting into pieces.

Salsa Verde
1 large bunch Italian parsley
8 large basil leaves
2 T capers, drained
2 anchovy fillets
1 clove garlic
Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 T extra-virgin olive oil

Place ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.
Spoon into a small serving bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Chimichurri Sauce
1 shallot, finely diced
1 Fresno chile or other red chile, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 t sea salt
½ cup finely chopped cilantro
¼ cup finely chopped Italian parsley
1 T finely chopped oregano
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.
Spoon into a small serving bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves 4

Wednesday, June 9, 2021


This is one of my Go-To meals on a weeknight.  It is so delicious, you may want to serve it for company. . .after this pandemic is over. This recipe includes Italian sausages (pork or turkey), sun-dried tomatoes, and fennel. Farfalle (pronounced fa-FAR-lay) translates to "butterflies". Get the onion, fennel, peppers, and garlic chopped up on a cutting board ready to toss into the skillet. Dinner in under 40 minutes!

2 T extra-light olive oil, divided
1 lb mild or hot Italian sausages

1 T sea or kosher salt, for the pasta water
1 lb farfalle (butterfly) pasta

1 large sweet onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 medium bulb fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 T fresh basil, chiffonade or torn
½ t red pepper flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup red or white wine
1 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced into bitesize pieces

1 bunch Italian parsley, trimmed and chopped
½ cup grated Parmegiano-Reggiano or Pecorino-Romano cheese

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and fry the sausages for about 15 minutes over medium heat until brown on all sides. I put a splatter screen over my skillet to keep most of the grease from popping out on the stove.
Remove to a cutting board and discard grease and carefully wipe out or wash out skillet.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the salt.  
Boil the farfalle pasta for 10 minutes, until al dente.
Save 1 cup of the pasta water and set aside.  

Drain pasta and set aside.

In the same large clean skillet add the rest of the oil and cook the onion, fennel, and peppers over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring as needed.  
Add the garlic and cook another minute. 
Add the wine and cook another minute.

Cut the sausages into ¼ inch circles and add to the skillet along with the sun-dried tomatoes.  
Add 1 cup of the pasta water and cook another 4 to 5 minutes.
Spoon in the pasta and add the basil, red pepper flakes and parsley.  
Toss to combine and add more pasta water, if needed.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the grated cheese and spoon pasta into 4 heated pasta bowls.
Serve with extra grated cheese at the table and a green salad...and of course a glass of vino rosso (red wine) or vino bianco (white wine).

Serves 4


I have been making these marinated mushrooms for such a long time. Make the mushrooms at least 2 days before you want to serve them. I serve them in a little bowl on an antipasti platter with cocktail picks next to them. Adjust the red pepper flakes according to your taste. If you can find small or button mushrooms, leave them whole.

1 lb cremini or white mushrooms, trimmed, wiped clean, and cut in half 
1 T extra-light olive oil or avocado oil

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
1 large shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ to ½ t red pepper flakes
½ t chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 t fresh thyme leaves
2 T minced fresh Italian parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves

In a large skillet add the tablespoon of oil and over medium-high heat, cook the mushrooms until lightly golden, about 10 minutes.
Turn off heat and let mushrooms cool slightly.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar, shallot, garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, thyme, and parsley.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the mushrooms and bay leaves and gently stir to combine.
Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 2 days.

Serve at room temperature.