Wednesday, November 23, 2005



Isabella wishes you and your loved ones a peaceful Thanksgiving.

And she wishes more people in the world had the the privilege to go to sleep Thursday night with a full belly.

Isabella's menu for Thursday:

Hummus (homemade)
Drunken goat cheese
Sicilian olives (homemade)

Oyster stew

Roast duck with savory raspberry sauce
Wild rice
Carmelized pearl onions

Green salad with balsamic vinegar

Homemade pumpkin pie


Piper Sonoma Sparkling Wine, Brut, Methode Champenoise
Morgan, Pinot Noir, 2003, Santa Lucia Highlands

Monday, November 21, 2005


Baked Rigatoni with Three Cheeses

Sunday dinner means pasta, chicken, vegetables, fruit, nuts, dessert.

This past Sunday, I made a dish with rigatoni, fresh ricotta, parmesean, and mozzarella cheeses.

For the secondo, I made Papa's Chicken, since it is a great favorite and I'm always asked to make this easy delicious chicken dish.

I served spinach sauted with red peppers and pine nuts, flavored with garlic, olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar.

For dessert, I baked a pecan pie.

Here's the recipe for the rigatoni dish:

1 lb. rigatoni (I use Barilla brand)
4 cups your own tomato sauce
1 lb. ricotta cheese, seasoned with salt and pepper)
1/2 cup of grated parmesean cheese
1 large ball of fresh mozzarella cheese
minced assortment of herbs (parsley, thyme)

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Drain. Do not rinse. Take an ovenproof casserole dish and spread your tomato sauce at the bottom. Place half the rigatoni on top, spread chunks of seasoned ricotta cheese and sprinkle half of parmesean cheese. Spoon more sauce over the first layer. Place the second half of the pasta on the first layer, repeat with the rest of the ricotta and parmesean. Spoon more sauce over the last layer, then cut the mozzarella ball into slices and place over the top layer. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 to 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Remove and let cool a bit. Sprinkle top with more cheese and minced herbs. Serve immediately and pass more tomato sauce.

Buon appetitio!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Baked, stuffed red snapper, Basque style Posted by Picasa

Lemon tart Posted by Picasa


Stuffed Baked Red Snapper, Basque Style

Isabella had friends in for dinner this weekend, and she served this savory whole baked, stuffed red snapper. It was easy to assemble and made a spectacular presentation. I'm sure you could use any firm fleshed whole fish with this recipe.

For information on this fascinating part of Spain/France, go here.

For more Basque recipes, go here.

For dessert, I made a lemon custart tart (recipe follows red snapper)

Here's the recipe for the red snapper:

4 lbs. whole red snapper, scaled and gutted (my snapper actually weighed 3 lbs. 22 oz.)
Salt and freshly grund black pepper
Juice of 2 limes
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 (1/4 inch thick) slices of lemon


1/3 cup olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 green bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
6 canned plum tomatoes, drained and diced
1/2 cup pimento stuffed green olives, rinsed, drained, and chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry sherry
2 dashes Tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large red potatoes, peeled and sliced, 1/4 inch thick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small bunch flatleaf parsley, leaves only, minced

Rinse the fish in cold water and pat dry, inside and out. Place in a shallow glass or ceramic platter. Srpinkle the fish inside and out with salt, pepper, and lime juice. Whisk the olive oil and garlic together and pour over the fish, rub it into the skin on both sides. With a very sharp knife, make 3 incisions right down to the bone and insert a lemon slice into each one. Cover with plasti wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 5 hours.

To make the sofrito, heat the olive oil over low hear in a large heavy skillet. Add onions and bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes or until translucent. Add tomatoes, olives, salt, oregano, and wind. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the sauce is thickened, stir in the Tabasco and remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and set a rack in the upper middle position. Rub a large roasting pan with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and place the sliced potatoes in overlapping rows to make a square. Season them generously. Wrap the tail of the snapper in foil and place the fish on to of the potatoes. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over the top. Bake until the fish is done through and flaky, about 45 minutes. Reheat the sofrito over low heat for the last 8 to 10 minutes of the fish's cooking time.

Slide the fish onto a large oval platter and arrange the potatoes at the top and bottom of the platter. Spoon the tomato sauce along the sides and remove the foil from the tail. Srpinkle the parsley over all and serve.

Lemon Custard Tart


3 eggs, separated
zest and juice from 1 1/2 medium lemons
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/8 tsp. salt


1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup neutral vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
2 tablespoons whole milk
9 in tart pan (with removable bottom)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Crust: Mix together oil and milk. Pour over the flour mixture. Stir until no dry flou is left. Press dough into tart pan.

Filling: Beat egg yolks. Add lemon zest and juice, condensed milk and salt. Mix together. Beat egg whites until stiff, then fold into lemon mixture. Pour into unbaked crust. Bake 40 minutes.

Dust with confectioners/powdered sugar, and decorate with thin lemon slices.

Isabella served the fish with a pinot noir and it worked beautifully with this hearty dish.

This will impress your guests and be an unforgettable dinner.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Stracciatelli Soup

Pronounced: strah chee a TELL ee

Stracciatelli means "little rags." And that's what the cooked egg looks like when it is added to the soup.

A while ago, P.A.Moed asked me if I had a recipe for this easy, delicious, nutricious Italian soup. I gave her a quick answer in the comments section, but promised I'd give a recipe here.

This soup is so easy to make, and it reminds me of holidays. Very often, in our family, this was the first course for Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts.

If you don't have your own chicken stock, be sure to purchase a high quality one.

This recipe makes an ample amount for 2 people.

24 oz. high quality chicken stock
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
3 tablespoons semolina (purchased at a whole food store) or 1/4 cup cooked couscous, or small pastina
salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino or parmesean cheese
3 tablespoons minced parsley
(1 1/2 cups torn leaves of swiss chard, spinach or escarole--optional)

Place the stock in a large sauce pan bring to a boil. Take the slightly beaten egg and drizzle it into the boiling stock. Lower the heat. Add the semolina (or other pasta), salt & pepper & parsley. Simmer for 2 minutes. Spoon into soup bowls. Add grated cheese and serve immediately.

(I ofen put leafy greens in this soup to add to its nutritional value. I put the washed and torn leafy greens into the stock just as it begins to boil. Let the greens cook for about a minute, then add the beaten egg and follow the recipe.)

This makes a quick lunch or a light, simple supper.


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