Posts Tagged ‘Italian’

Spinach Artichoke Stromboli

June 27, 2020

My weekly menu rotation was getting uninspired. I almost always have a pizza night, mostly with homemade dough. My go to dough recipe is here. Recently I wanted to change pizza night up and I remembered my mom had made this Rachael Ray Spinach Artichoke Stromboli recipe when my girls were small and they actually ate it! Neither of them would say they like spinach or artichokes but they crush theses yummy pinwheels.

Stromboli is basically a big log of pizza. You could fill it with any toppings you like, but the ricotta, egg and cheese combo is key for the creamy cheesy layers. I think next time we make it we will add chicken to make it even yummier. By the way this time I used store bought pizza dough (gasp!) from the deli at Raley’s. I just wanted to make a quick dinner after work so the pre-made frozen dough at the store saves a step. I thawed it outside on a glass table in the sun and it was thawed in no time, if you don’t have time to pre-thaw.

Most grocery store delis have pre-made dough, in case you didn’t know, you just have to ask. Otherwise if I make my pizza on a weekend I make my dough from scratch. My master baker daughter just made a batch of home made dough the other day, a great culinary skill to have. So if you are looking for a tasty substitute for your weekly pizza night rut, check this recipe out!

Spinach Artichoke Stromboli


  • 2 eggs, divided
  • 1/2 cup fresh ricotta
  • About 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Zest of 1 lemon (I didn’t use)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 10-ounce box frozen spinach, defrosted (I used 1 bag fresh spinach and I sautéed really quick with garlic and olive oil)
  • 1 14-ounce jar artichoke hearts, chopped(I used marinated ones)
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano (I used Pecorino Romano and Asiago)
  • 1 lb pizza dough
  • 1 package, about 2 cups, shredded provolone (I used 5 cheese Italian blend)
  • Sesame seeds, for sprinkling
  • Garlic flakes, for sprinkling
  • Onion flakes, for sprinkling


Preheat oven to 400F

Beat 1 egg in a large bowl with the ricotta, nutmeg, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Mix in garlic, spinach, artichoke hearts and Parmigiano-Reggiano. 

In a small bowl, whisk remaining egg with a splash of water to make an egg wash; set aside. 

On a floured surface, roll out pizza dough into a rectangle about 9 X 13. Spread filling evenly out onto the entire dough, making sure not to get too close the any of the edges. Top with provolone.

Roll the stromboli, starting at one of the long sides, tucking in both ends firmly, and turn over about 4 times until you are left with just the one edge. Brush the edge with egg and gently press to seal.

Turn the stromboli over so the seam is facing down on the sheet tray and lightly brush egg wash over the top of the stromboli, covering the entire surface. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, garlic flakes and onion flakes. Cut slits about 1 1/2 inches apart down the top of the stromboli, so the steam can escape while baking. Bake until golden brown, about 35- 40 minutes. Feeds 6-8 as a snack, it fed 4 of us as a dinner with a salad


September 23, 2017


Everyone knows I love anything Italian. One of my favorite desserts to order at an Italian restaurant is Tiramisu. If you have never had it, it is a delicious combination of sponge cake soaked with coffee liqueur and a creamy custard like filling, sprinkled with shaved chocolate. It has bitter notes of coffee with sweet notes of chocolate and sugar and it is the perfect marriage of flavors that tingles your tastebuds. It represents Italy in dessert form and there are many versions of it, not all of which succeed. I have always wanted to make it but I was intimidated by it. My mom makes an amazing version and I have her recipe but I decided to use Gabriele Corcos’ version. I have been enjoying lots of his recipes for their simple and authentic Italian flavor. I have a great post about his eggplant incaciata I am going to post soon. So if you are a tiramisu lover and have never attempted it at home I recommend you try his version. It is simple and with impress your guests with its sophistication.

TIPS: I found the lady fingers in the refrigerated section of my grocery store bakery, but you can also use the ones in the cookie aisle. Also I used Marsala wine as he suggested for the liqueur, which surprisingly tasted great, I assumed you had to use something like Kahlua. I used one part Marsala and one part licor 43, a new liquor i found that has over 43 different flavors blended into it, like vanilla and citrus, among other things. Don’t be afraid to mix it up and choose something you like since it is such a small amount, it won’t hurt the flavor. I think even rum would be tasty, like a rum cake.



  • 3 cups brewed coffee, cooled
  • 2 (8-ounce) containers mascarpone
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 14 ounces savoiardi cookies (firm ladyfingers)
  • 4 ounces sugar, plus 2 tablespoons or more, for the coffee
  • 2 shots rum or Italian Marsala, optional
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup shaved dark chocolate, to garnish’


First brew about 3 cups of coffee and pour it in a bowl and allow to cool off, add 2 tablespoons sugar or sweeten to taste. (I used espresso and watered it down a bit to make it three cups).

Mix the egg yolks with 2 ounces sugar, and mix until you obtain a creamy light mixture. Work the mascarpone in a bowl using a wooden spoon, making sure you eliminate any lumps, then add the mascarpone to the sugar-egg mixture and continue to mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix the egg whites, pinch of salt, and the remaining 2 ounces sugar, until they reach a somewhat firm, but fluffy consistency, then add them to the mascarpone mixture. Stir in the rum, if using.

Dip the savoiardi cookies (firm ladyfingers) in the coffee, and one by one lay them flat into a 7 by 11 pyrex tray (I used 9×13), making sure you do not soak the cookies, as you want to make sure they maintain their firmness (refrigerated ones from bakery got soggy fast, so I might not use those again). Once the first layer of cookies has been laid out, spread a layer of the mascarpone cream on top, and dust with 1 tablespoon cocoa powder.

Now, again, prepare another layer of coffee-dipped cookies, cream and cocoa powder. Garnish the top of the cake with the shaved dark chocolate.

Cover the tray with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 3 hours so the flavors can marry and the tiramisu can settle.

then Manga!

Margie’s Marinated Mushrooms

August 5, 2015


If you get to attend one of my Italian Sunday Suppers you know I am going to put out my favorite hand painted Antipasto set. In that set are little dishes for all sorts of goodies. Even if you don’t have a special antipasto dish you can still put out an easy to assemble antipasto that will impress your guests. My go to ingredients are: stuffed olives, roasted peppers or pepperocini, salame, prosciutto, marinated mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and a center plate with caprese salad. For my caprese I use sliced campari tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and fresh basil and I drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle sea salt and cracked pepper. If you don’t do the caprese you can always cut up some sharp provolone or even make bruschetta. Sometimes I use all of the above and sometimes I mix it up. Once I even made my caprese salad with grilled zuccini instead of the usual tomatoes. Antipasto is Italian for “before the meal” and it is a lighter appetizer than most heavy american dishes.

When we lived in Sicily the antipasto was my favorite course. I can still remember the fragrant flavors and the cured meats combined with the sweet homemade ricotta and salty veggies marinated in oil and spices. I recently hosted a Sunday supper and when I was picking up all my ingredients, I saw marinated mushrooms at the deli. They were very pricey and I thought, why not just make them for way less. In my treasured recipe box that my mom gave to me filled with all of her famous dishes I had her homemade marinated mushroom recipe. I have made it before and it is very simple and always a hit. Mushroom is translated to “Funghi” in Italian and there are a variety of different varieties with so many flavors. But for my recipe I just use basic button mushrooms. So here is a great addition to your antipasto spread or an easy appetizer for a party:

Mahgie’s Marinated Mushrooms


3/4 cup of good olive oil

1/3 cup of red wine vinegar

1 1/2 tsp salt

3/4 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp of dried basil or a few fresh leaves

1 bay leaf

1 garlic clove, quartered

8 peppercorns

1 1/2 lbs of mushrooms, rinsed, halved or quartered if large

  1. In a medium pan over medium heat, heat all ingredients to boiling, except mushrooms.
  2. Simmer over low heat, covered, 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in mushrooms until coated, cook 5-10 minutes or until fork tender. Refrigerate covered. Manga!

Pasta’s perfect Pal

February 25, 2014


I hosted an Italian Family Sunday dinner recently and I made all sorts of yummy treats. My most famous dish is my carbonara, but that recipe remains secret! This time I wanted to make a homemade bread to serve with my carbonara. I had recently seen one of my favorite shows, Extra Virgin, on the cooking channel and remembered Gabriele making some delicious bread. The bread was called Schiacciata and it was an authentic Italian bread. I am so glad I tried this recipe out. The dough was the perfect pillowy texture. It was super easy to make and tasty with the fresh rosemary and cherry tomatoes. I think you could top it with all sorts of yummy combos, garlic and basil, thyme and shallots, whatever you like. It was crispy and the perfect paring to my homemade fettuicine carbonara. Cooks note: in a pinch I made this a second time with store bought pizza dough and it still turned out great!




  • cup lukewarm water
  • package instant dry yeast
  • cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • cup cherry tomatoes
  • teaspoons sea salt
  • sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed


Measure the water in a measuring cup, stir in the yeast and let develop for 10 minutes. It should look foamy when it’s ready. 

Meanwhile, add the flour and kosher salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Turn on to whisk together and run for a minute or so to create a well. With the mixer running, add the water and yeast in a stream. Turn the mixer up to speed 2 and knead until the dough comes away from the bowl and it looks smooth and feels elastic but still sticky, 5 to 7 minutes. Flour your hands and knead the dough for a minute on the counter. 

Grease a large glass bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the dough, flip on both sides and cover with a clean tea towel. Place the dough in a warm spot to rise until it is double in size, about 1 hour. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spread a half sheet tray with the remaining olive oil. Lay the dough on top and stretch and pat out until it reaches 10-by-16-inches, an oval rough shape is ideal. Use your fingertips to press in small indentations. Sprinkle evenly with the cherry tomatoes, sea salt and rosemary leaves. Let rise again for 20 minutes.

Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Slice into wedges or squares for serving and drizzle with more olive oil, if desired.

Italian Rainbow Cookies

December 29, 2013


There are many beautiful colors in the rainbow, but my favorite are red, white and green – the color of the Italian flag. I have been wanting to make this recipe for some time but did not have the specific ingredient (marzipan) or the time, as it takes a lot of steps. I went to the base commissary recently and saw they had marzipan on clearance and took it as a sign. Marzipan is an almond paste that is used in many dolce Italian treats. In Sicily they used it to make these gorgeous replicas of fruit that were hand painted and delicious. I knew of Marzipan before I lived in Sicily because my mom always sought out the marzipan chocolate in her belgian chocolate assortments, so I grew to love the flavor at a young age. My mom can be frugal at times but won’t blink when it comes to spending more on some great chocolate. But I digress…

Since I had the marzipan in my pantry I decided to go for it. This year I was also making my mom’s black and white cookies for Santa, they are such a yummy confection. The recipe I was using was by an Italian chef I really admire, Lidia Bastianich. She has some amazing recipes on her site and a popular PBS show called Lidia’s Italy. I would have to say it was not a hard recipe to complete but it did take a lot of steps and over a couple of days to complete. I would not have been able to do it without the help of my fabulous Italian sous chef, Gianna. The end result was a Italian rainbow bar of decadence and scrumptiousness. Even my husband who is not a huge fan of marzipan or almond extracts, loved the cookies. The only thing we modified was to use strawberry jam instead of apricot to appease the little people in my house. I think this was a good marriage – think chocolate covered strawberries – so that flavor married well with the chocolate and almond. Also I used three 9×12 rimmed cookie sheets and barely had enough batter to fill those, so you might not need the bigger pans in the recipe. If you want to make some special treats for a holiday or event, let yourself be inspired by the Italian flag in this recipe.

Lidia’s Italian Rainbow Cookies:


8 ounces almond paste
1 cup sugar
2½ sticks unsalted butter, softened, cut into pieces, plus more for the pans
4 large eggs, separated
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
1 teaspoon red food coloring, gel or paste preferred
1 teaspoon green food coloring, gel or paste preferred
Two 15-ounce jars smooth (not chunky) apricot jam
1½ pounds bittersweet chocolate, chopped


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour three 15-by-10-inch rimmed sheet pans (I used 9×12 ones) , and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.

Combine the almond paste and all but 2 tablespoons of the sugar in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until you have fine crumbles. Add the butter, a few pieces at a time, and pulse until well mixed. Plop in the egg yolks, one at a time, and mix until the batter is smooth. Sprinkle in salt, and mix. Sift in flour, and mix until just combined.

Whisk egg whites in a bowl until foamy. While whisking, slowly add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and whisk until firm peaks form. Fold about a third of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it, then gently fold in remaining egg whites.

Divide batter evenly into three bowls. Leave one bowl plain, without any coloring. Add red food coloring to one bowl, stirring to make a deep-salmon color. Add green food coloring to last bowl, stirring to make a medium-green color. Spread batter into each of the prepared pans with a spatula. Bake, rotating pans to opposite racks, until cakes are cooked through and just beginning to brown around the edges, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, let cakes cool completely on wire racks, then remove from pans.


Trim each of the layers to even out the thickness of the cakes. Put the green cake layer back, cut side up, into one of the lined pans. Spread one jar of jam over the cake, almost all of the way to the edges. Place the plain layer of cake on top of the jam. Spread the remaining jar of jam almost all the way to the edges of the plain layer. Place the red layer on top of the ham, cut side up. Wrap the entire cake in plastic, and top with another pan, weighted with cans. Chill in refrigerator 4 hours or overnight.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Unwrap the cake, and place on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Pour and spread the chocolate over the top the cake, using a spatula to guide the chocolate over the top and down the sides of the cake. If the kitchen is cool, let the chocolate harden that way; if it is warm, clear a space in the refrigerator to place the cake and let the chocolate harden. When the chocolate is about halfway set, gently rake the topping with the tines of a fork or a dough scraper with dentals, starting from the end of the chocolate covering all the way to the other end, slightly undulating the lines as you move along. Repeat until all of the chocolate has indented stripes. Let the chocolate set completely.

Using a serrated knife, cut the set and decorated layers into three dozen rectangles, using the outer sides to form perfectly cut rectangles.

Gnocchi di’ Melanzane – Eggplant Gnocchi

April 8, 2013


I love my usual go to gnocchi recipe I posted before but tonight I decided to branch out and challenge myself and make some eggplant gnocchi aka Gnocchi di’ Melanzane.  The secret is you puree roasted eggplant and put it in your gnocchi dough. The best part was that my kids ate it and I got eggplant into their tummies! I topped it with my favorite sauce, my leftover cacciatore sauce. After you make a big pot of cacciatore there is always leftover sauce.

According to my research, gnocchi are little dumplings that can be varied by adding cheese, vegetables, herbs, or even fruit to the basic dough. Just look for whatever is in season and blend it into the dough for a special treat.

This gnocchi was relatively easy to make. I loved the technique of piping the gnocchi out of a pastry bag and cutting them with pastry scissors, this was much easier than hand rolling them.  I would say if I made them again I would probably add a bit more flour to make the dough a little thicker, as it did not hold together as well as usual gnocchi dough does, but it still came out good. So if you want to add an extra Italian flavor to your gnocchi, try this eggplant version

Gnocchi di’ Melanzane – Eggplant Gnocchi

2 pounds of firm eggplant

coarse salt

olive oil

1 pound of Idaho potatoes

1/3 cup of freshly grated parmesan or romano (I prefer)

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/4 teaspoons of salt

1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

12 leaves of fresh basil, minced

2 cups of flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, halve eggplant lengthwise and brush olive oil on, then put cut side down on foil lined baking sheet and bake about 40 mins, till tender (or less if you are using several small eggplants). While eggplant is cooking boil potatoes in salted water for about 30 mins till tender. When it is cool enough to handle peel eggplant and puree in food processor. Allow puree to cool completely. When cool enough to handle, peel potatoes and use potato ricer to squeeze them into a large bowl. Add the eggplant puree and the cheese and mix well. Add the eggs, salt, pepper, and basil and mix to blend. Add flour and mix to incorporate, but do not overmix.


Bring large pot of salted water, about 6-8qts, to boil. Fill pastry bag with eggplant mixture and when the water boils, pipe 1/2 inch long pieces, cutting using pastry scissors, dropping them into the boiling water. Work rapidly until all the dough is used up. Allow gnocchi to cook until they float to top and then drain on a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Butter lightly and keep warm. Top with your favorite pesto, alfredo (my pistachio alfredo would be great), red sauce and freshly grated cheese and manga!

A great fresh tomato sauce from scratch is featured here, by one of my cooking idols, Lidia Bastianich

Gnocchi Alfredo Amore

March 2, 2013


I have posted my gnocchi adventures before but this time I used a new technique, using the back of a fork to hand press your gnocchi shape. (See video update below) It is not a requirement to roll it like this, as you can just simply hand cut your gnocchi and be done, but the fork tines do make a nice traditional gnocchi indentation.

Making gnocchi is hard work but it is well worth the delicious result, especially paired with my pistachio alfredo concoction. Pistachio alfredo is a yummy treat we ate when we lived in Sicily, they used what they grew around them at the little farm agiturismos we went to, so pistachio was a plentiful ingredient in many dishes. Something about the rich soil from the volcanic eruptions of Mt. Etna made the vegetation grow like crazy in Sicily. I usually double the gnocchi recipe to feed my family of four, the gnocchi is not a large serving even with it doubled, but it is very rich and filling so you don’t eat a giant bowl.

Update: here is my video of my technique to hand roll your own gnocchi:


  • 1 pound baking potatoes, preferably Russet
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • pinch of nutmeg


  • 2 T of butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups grated pecorino Romano, or more if you like
  • 1 cup of shelled pistachios grinded to powder in a spice grinder or nutribullet
  • freshly cracked black pepper


1) To make the gnocchi: Bake or microwave the potatoes until soft (do not boil as the potatoes absorb too much water). Peel the warm potatoes and press them through a ricer, or mash them; measure out 1 ¼ cups potato; enjoy the rest as you see fit.

2) Mix the baking powder with the flour, and sprinkle over the potatoes.

3) Add the cheese, yolks, salt, and nutmeg, mixing just until everything comes together in a smooth ball.

4) Place the dough on a floured work surface, cover, and let it rest for 30 minutes.

5) Take about a third of the dough, and roll it into a rope about the thickness of a finger.

6) Cut ¾”-long pieces. Using a gnocchi board, or the back of a fork, roll the individual gnocchi to create ridges on one side, and a little space in the middle.

7) Place the gnocchi on a parchment-lined baking sheet dusted with flour, cover lightly, and chill until ready to cook. Gnocchi may be stored in the refrigerator up to a day, and in the freezer for several months.

8) To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a slow boil, and add the gnocchi.

9) Once gnocchi float to the surface, cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Drain cooked gnocchi, and toss with sauce.

10) For the Alfredo,  melt butter and add minced garlic, then add cream over medium heat until it starts to slowly bubble and thicken. Then stir and keep simmering until the sauce is reduced in volume by about a a third. Add the cheese and stir until all the cheese melts and the sauce becomes smooth, add salt and pepper to taste (I don’t need salt usually because butter and cheese have salt) then add ground up pistachios and stir it in to thicken sauce.

12) Toss with pasta and sprinkle servings with pepper and more cheese if you like.

Yield: 4 appetizer portions, 2 main course portions. Double gnocchi recipe to feed family of 4, sauce makes enough in one batch…

Meat + Potatoes = <3, the perfect equation

August 28, 2012

Who doesn’t love good old meat an potatoes? Typically this makes you think of steak and a baked potato or meatloaf and mashed potatoes but I took it in another direction. I am all about one pot wonders – dinners that can be made on your stovetop and save you time and dishes. As I mentioned previously, I love my Quick from Scratch Italian cookbook. I had the recipe page for Sausage, Potatoes and Artichokes dog eared for some time now, and I decided to give it a try. Boy am I glad I did as it was delicious and a big hit with the whole family.

The italian sausage flavors the potatoes with such a great taste and the wine really added to the tomato rich broth. The artichokes hearts are also a nice surprise to bite into, as they are one of my favorite ingredients for anything from pasta dishes, to pizza to my favorite artichoke and mushroom bruschetta (will have to post that one). Thyme pairs so well with potatoes, I love it in my grilled potato with olive oil, dijon and vidalia recipe, So if you want a quick and easy dinner that will win you major points with your meat and potatoes eater, check this pot of love out!

Sausages, Potatoes and Artichokes in a Tomato Broth

  1. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  2. 1 1/2 pounds mild Italian sausages
  3. 3 cloves garlic, cut into thin slices
  4. 1 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes (about 5), cut into 1-inch chunks
  5. 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  6. 1/3 cup dry white wine
  7. 1 1/4 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
  8. 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree
  9. 1 1/2 cups drained and rinsed halved canned artichoke hearts (one 14-ounce can)
  10. 6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  11. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  12. 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  1. In a large stainless-steel pot, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Add the sausages and brown well, about 10 minutes. Remove. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat, leave that in the pan.
  2. Reduce the heat to moderate. Add the garlic, potatoes, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and boil until reduced to approximately 3 tablespoons, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in the broth, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, 4 tablespoons of the parsley, the salt, and the sausages. Bring to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley and the pepper.
Substitutes:• Rosemary for the thyme

• Red wine for the white wine

• Hot Italian sausage for the mild

– Mushrooms for the artichokes

Let’s go to Venice for Dinner

August 18, 2012

Now that we moved to paradise I am taking full advantage of the multitude of fresh seafood available at my doorstep. My hubby and my girls have been fishing off our deck after dinner and catching inspiration for my recipes. What is the main thing they catch you ask? Well it is snapper. You can’t beat fresh caught snapper, it is so tender and flaky and not at all fishy. We have had it in a fish fry, fish tacos and most recently, Venetian Fish soup. Even my picky girls slurped happily on this soup.

This recipe is in one of my favorite go to cook books that I have done many posts from over the years – Quick from Scratch Italian (hint: most of the recipes are available online). Some of my faves are gorgonzola fettuicine, sicilian meatball stew, and an upcoming potatoes with sausage post. This recipe was easy to make and it tasted amazing. I got some fresh shrimp at a local fish market as the recipe called for, and I really think the shrimp stock was the secret ingredient here, as well as the clam juice, a key ingredient in chowdah. I chose not to use fennel but you can add or omit ingredients as you see fit. The red pepper flakes added a little kick to the delicious tomato broth. We enjoyed dipping some Cuban bread in our soup as we gobbled it down. So take a trip to Venice tonight from the comfort of your own kitchen…

Venetian Fish Soup

  1. 1/2 pound large shrimp, shells removed and reserved
  2. 2 cups water
  3. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  4. 2 carrots, chopped
  5. 2 onions, chopped
  6. 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  7. 2 ribs celery, chopped
  8. 6 cloves garlic, minced
  9. 1/2 cup dry white wine
  10. 3 1/2 cups bottled clam juice
  11. 2 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (from a 28-ounce can)
  12. 1/4 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
  13. 5 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  14. 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  15. 1 teaspoon salt or more, depending on the saltiness of the clam juice
  16. 2 bay leaves
  17. 2 pounds moderately firm white fish fillets (use a mixture of 2 or 3 kinds), such as cod, halibut, ocean perch, orange roughy, pollack, red snapper, or tilapia, cut into 1-by-1-inch pieces
  18. 1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  1. Put the shrimp shells and the water in a small pot; bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Strain the shrimp stock into a bowl. Discard the shells.
  2. In a large pot, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the carrots, onions, fennel, celery, and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the wine; cook until it almost evaporates, about 5 minutes. Stir in the shrimp stock, clam juice, tomatoes, red-pepper flakes, 4 tablespoons of the parsley, the thyme, salt, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes. Taste for salt and, if needed, add more. Remove the bay leaves.
  3. Add the fish, shrimp, the remaining tablespoon parsley, and the pepper to the pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the fish and shrimp are just done, about 2 minutes.

Perfect Pesto

March 7, 2012

Some may think Pesto is something that belongs in the anticipated Ghostbusters 3 movie but I disagree. I had never been a fan of pesto until I had it fresh. The stuff in a jar often is too greasy or has cheap substitutes, think walnuts for the pine nuts or cheapo cheese. But in Sicily I had fresh pesto at an Agriturismo (farm restaurant that uses the items grown in the recipes and you eat course after course for like $20, my dream come true) and I was hooked.  Anyhow I was determined to unlock the secret of a great pesto so I decided to make up my own. It is very simple and has 4 ingredients and that is all it needs. I made it the other night to go with my favorite gnocchi recipe and the two combined were a match made in heaven. I had a bit of pesto leftover so I used dots of it on the pizza in my previous post and it was delicious. So if you like pesto and want to try making your own, here is my version:

T’s Pesto

1/2 c EVOO (the real italian kind not some imitation american version)

1/2 c of Parmesan or Romano (I prefer true Pecorino Romano in my pesto)

1/2 c pine nuts

tons of fresh basil leaves, probably two handfuls, you can add more if the sauce is too thin

salt and pepper to taste

Put cheese, nuts and basil in food processor. Start it up and drizzle in the olive oil slowly. Process it until it makes a nice pesto consistency and add salt and pepper to taste. Don’t bother warming it up, just toss it directly into the hot strained pasta and it will do its job. You decide how much to use, save some for later in the fridge and add to pizza or garlic bread, manga!