Sunday, October 30, 2005



I've been preoccupied with many projects. But I do wish my friends a happy Halloween. Have a safe, fun time. May your treats include lots of candy corn.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sunday, hungry Sunday Posted by Picasa

Papa's chicken Posted by Picasa

string beans with red potatoes and red onions Posted by Picasa

Eggplant rollatini Posted by Picasa


Sunday, Hungry Sunday

Isabella had friends in for another Sunday dinner. Here's the menu:

Papa's chicken legs (a recipe Isabella's father developed)
Italian sweet sausages and red peppers
Eggplant rollatini (eggplant slices stuffed with ricotta in marinara sauce)
String beans with red potatoes and red onions
crusty bread
Wine: Trinity Oaks, 1999 zinfandel

Homemade apple pie

Isabella's father made his own chicken recipe every Sunday, and she's happy to pass it along for everyone to enjoy. It is similar to the Frech coq au vin, in that the chicken is cooked in wine in the second stage. Your family and friends will be amazed at how tender and flavorful this chicken is. The meat falls off the bones and the flavors are infused throughout. And it's even better the next day!

Papa's Chicken (serves 4)

12 chicken drumsticks
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon, cut in half
salt, pepper, dried oregano, paprika
1 cup good quality dry red wine

Wash and clean the drumsticks. Pat dry. Place in bottom of a broiler pan and brush olive oil over the legs. Place under a broiler, as close to the element/flame as you can get, and broil for 10-12 minutes. Check on the legs and brush with the juices as they accumulate in the pan. In the last few minutes, add the seasoning (to taste). Allow the legs to take on a deep brown color. Remove from the broiler and turn each leg over and repeat. After the legs have broiled to a beautiful deep brown color, turn off the broiler and turn on the oven to 350 degrees. Take the cup of red wine and pour it over the legs. Cover the broiler pan with the legs in it tightly with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

Eggplant rollatini:

2 medium eggplants, sliced in 1/4 inch slices
3 to 5 tablespoons good quality olive oil, added to pan as needed while sauteing
3/4 cup good quality ricotta
1 small egg
1/4 cup parmesean cheese
2 Tablespoons minced parsley
salt and pepper to taste
(I had some leftover spinach pesto, so I added it to the ricotta, see previous post for recipe)
salt and pepper

Saute the eggplant slices in olive oil over medium high heat until they brown. Drain on paper towels. Break the egg into the ricotta, add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Take each slice of sauted eggplant and place a good tablespoon of the filling on an upped edge and roll, place on dish until all slices are rolled. Heat your best marinara sauce, and ladle a portion of it into an ovenproof dish. Place the stuffed and rolled eggplant into dish. Add more marinara sauce, sprinkle with grated pecorino cheese. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

String beans with red potatoes and red onions:

1 lb. string beans, washed and ends cut
5 small red potatoes, boiled with skins on
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup minced red onions
3 tablespoons grated parmesean cheese
salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.

Boil string beans until they are al dente, do no overcook! Drain and plunge in cold water to stop cooking. Quarter the red potatoes. Combine string beans, potatoes and onions in large bowl. Add olive oil, cheese, and seasonings. Place on platter and serve at room temperature.

Italian sweet sausages and red peppers:

4-6 Italian sweet sausages
3 red peppers, seeded and cut into approx. 1/2 inch strips
1 medium onion, cliced
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Saute onions and red peppers in largest pan you have (I use and 18 inch pan). Add the sausages and cook until they take on a rich brown color. Serve. Delicious.

Isabella's guests gobbled up this feast and still had room for her homemade apple pie. I won't give you my recipe, since I'm sure you all have your own favorite.

Buon appetito!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Scallops over spinach puree with balsamic vinegar Posted by Picasa

Linguini with calamari Posted by Picasa


Scallops over spinach puree, Calamari and linguini

Beautiful, plump scallops, pan seared and placed over spinach pureed with olive oil, garlic and pignole nuts. That's the first course.

We follow this delicate, flavorful starter with linguini and calamari in tomato sauce. Oh soooooo good.

Scallops over spinach puree

4 large sea scollops
1 tablespoon good quality olive oil
1 tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
salt and pepper
2 cups washed spinach leaves
1/4 cup pignole nuts
1 small garlic clove, minced
slivers of raw red pepper (approx. 1/4 of a red pepper)

Place the scallops in a small bowl and add the next 4 ingredients. Place the spinach leaves with water clinging to them in a microwave and microwave for 2 minutes (or place in a saute pan over medium high heat and cook until wilted). Remove from microwave/saute pan and place in food processor. Add pignole nuts and garlic and process until well blended. Set aside.

Place the olive oil in a small saute pan and heat until olive oil slides around in the pan. Add the scallops and saute until they take on a deep bronze color. Turn with tongs and saute on the other side. This will take approx. 5 minutes. Take two tablespoons of the pureed spinach mixture and place on a plate, put two scallops on top of the spinach puree and ganish with the red pepper. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar.

Calamari in tomato sauce

1 pound of calamari, cleaned and cut up
2 tablespoon of good quality olive oil
3 cloves of garlic minced
3 fillets of anchovies
1 14 oz. can of cherry tomatoes
salt, pepper, red pepper flakes
minced fresh herbs (parsley, basil, mint)
1/2 pound linguini

Saute the garlic and anchovy fillets in the olive oil until garlic is tender. Add the tomatoes. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add seasonings. Simmer another 5 minutes. Add calamari and bring to simmer and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Drain. Mix two portions of the linguini with enough of the calamari to make it moist and place it on a platter. Sprinkle with minced fresh herbs. Serve immediately.

This is low calorie and high quality protein. And delicious. Some will consider this eating bait. But so what? Bait can be delicious and healthy. Have you never heard of the Diet of Worms?


Buon appetito!!!!!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Little neck clams stuffed with pancetta, minced red pepper, and rapini  Posted by Picasa

Cod over pureed yam, with sugar snap peapods and blackened scallions Posted by Picasa


Stuffed little neck clams, Cod over pureed yam with sugarsnap peapods and blackened scallions

Ciao amici,

I admit it, I'm crazy for little necks and try to eat the little luscious darlings at least once a week. Sometimes raw with a squirt of lemon juice and a dab of horseradish; sometimes steamed with garlic, tomatoes, rapini; and sometimes stuffed with pancetta, greens, red pepper and minced herbs. That's how I prepared them for the first course of this dinner. And they were favoloso! The combination of the smokey pancetta and the slightly bitter taste of the rapini was just enough to enhance the sweetness of the clams. Ooooh, they were spectacular.

The clams were followed by fillet of cod over pureed yam with sugarsnap peas and blackened scallions.

Here are the recipes. Enjoy preparing and then eating this healthy, delicious meal!

Buon appetito a tutti!

Little necks stuffed with pancetta, red pepper, rapini and minced herbs

10 little neck clams, washed and scrubbed
2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 ounces pancetta, minced
3 tablespoons minced red pepper
1 cup (full) cut up rapini green leaves, washed
browned bread crumbs and grated parmesean cheese (optional)

You have to get the clams to open up before you can stuff them, and here's a trick I use to achieve that. I preheat the oven to 350 degrees, after it reaches temperature, I shut off the oven and put the washed and scrubbed clams in an ovenproof dish in the oven and leave them there for about 5 to 10 minutes, watching to see when the shells open up. When that happens, I take the clams out of the oven and let them cool. (They are partially cooked at this point.) After they've cooled down, I pull away the top shell, and throw it out, then with a sharp paring knife, I cut the clam away from the shell it is nestled in and leave it there to be "stuffed" after making the stuffing.


Saute the garlic in the olive oil until tender. Do not allow to burn. Add the pancetta and cook to done, add the minced red pepper. Cook for a minute, then add the rapini, and cook until it wilts. Season to taste, add minced combination of fresh herbs (parsley, basil, thyme, etc.).

With a teaspoon, scoop up a spoonful of stuffing and place on top of partially cooked clam in shell. Continue until all the clams are filled. If desired, sprinkle breadcrumbs and/or grated cheese over stuffing. Run under the broiler for a minute or two. Let cool a bit and serve immediately.

Fillet of cod over pureed yam with sugarsnap peapods and blackened scallions

3/4 lb. fresh fillet of cod, thick
1 yam
1 bulb of garlic, roasted
10 to 15 sugarsnap pea pod
1 bunch of scallions, ends cut off, slivered into thin strands
fresh lemon
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the top of a bulb of garlic off, then sprinkle with a bit of olive oil, place in an ovenproof dish in 350 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes. Remove and set aside. Meanwhile, boil the yam until soft, peel and puree by hand or in a food processor. Add some of the roasted garlic cloves (to your taste) and mash into the pureed yam.

Wash and dry the fillet of cod. Rub with olive oil, salt and pepper and squeeze 1/2 of a lemon over the fillet. Place under the broiler and broil until done. About 5 minutes per inch of fillet. When the fillet takes on color, I shut off broiler, close the oven door and let the fish continue to cook until the flesh is flakey. Do not overcook.

Meanwhile, take the slivered scallions and place in a saute pan with olive oil (about 1 tablespoon) and stir over high heat until they take on deep charred color and become crisp. Set aside.

Place the sugarsnap peapods in another saute pan with olive oil and heat through for about 1 to 2 minutes, no more. Keep the sugarsnaps crisp. Season with salt and pepper.


Put a mound of the pureed yam/garlic mixture on a dish. Place a piece of the broiled cod on top and then a "tangle" of the charred scallions over the fish. Place the sugarsnap peapods around the yam/fish assembly.

Serve immediately.

It sounds like this is complicated. It isn't. Boil a yam, broil a piece of fish, saute some peapods and onions. That's it. Simple. Healthy. And beautifu to look at and to eat.


Sunday, October 02, 2005


Eau D'Asparagus

Sorry for the indelicacy, but one of my regular visitors, ed from the uk, asked if the thing about asparagus pee, i.e., strange smell, is true. I went to and got the information and am happy to piss, I mean, pass it along.

Mi scusi. Isabella has an earthy sense of humor.

Eau D'Asparagus

Question: I love asparagus, but I notice it makes my urine smell funny. What's going on?

By Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD

You may have heard the tall tale that "asparagus urine" is linked to higher intelligence. In fact, it's the result of a simple chemical reaction. Asparagus contains a sulfur compound called mercaptan. (It's also found in rotten eggs, onions, garlic, and in the secretions of skunks.) When your digestive tract breaks down this substance, by-products are released that cause the funny scent. The process is so quick that your urine can develop the distinctive smell within 15 to 30 minutes of eating asparagus.

But not everyone has this experience. Your genetic makeup may determine whether your urine has the odor -- or whether you can actually smell it. Only some people appear to have the gene for the enzyme that breaks down mercaptan into its more pungent parts. A study published in the May 1989 British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that 46% of 115 people tested produced the odor in one group of British citizens, while 100% of 103 people produced it in a group of French citizens. The ability to smell the by-products may also be genetic. Another study published in the same journal found that 10% of a group of 300 Israeli Jews could not detect the odor. In other words, a person's urine could smell, but he or she might not know it. Judging from your question, you can do both. But that's nothing to worry about.

While eating asparagus may make your urine smell strange, it won't harm you. Actually, asparagus -- a member of the lily family along with garlic, onions, and leeks -- is a powerhouse of nutrients. It's an excellent source of folic acid (a B vitamin that may help protect against birth defects, heart disease, and cancer), a significant source of vitamin C (an antioxidant that may protect tissues against damage), and a good source of vitamin A (an antioxidant). Not to mention that asparagus contains 3 grams of fiber per 3.5-ounce serving and a host of health-enhancing plant chemicals, or phytonutrients, that may protect against disease.

Although the link between "asparagus urine" and higher intelligence is a figment of someone's imagination, eating it regularly could be a sign of some serious health smarts.


Lemon Pie

I don't do a lot of baking, but when I see a delicious looking dessert, I try it out.

I found this recipe over at ReTorte. Go there and see for yourself.

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