Braised Short Ribs With Espresso & Cocoa Rub

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Espresso Short Ribs finish 1

Buon giorno!

So summer is officially over.. because I have declared it so! My senses are turning to cool temperatures, crunching leaves, aromas of spice, and definitely heartier foods. I am thinking of comforting flavors and preparations that do not require a grill. My first thoughts turn to a favorite cut of beef far more interesting to me than “fancier cuts” like steak, prime rib, etc. Yeah! Yeah! They are all great but give me a short rib any day! –Why? There is so much you can do with short ribs. They are so tender and juicy when cooked properly, and they emit so much intense flavor. Let’s look at this recipe for BRAISED  SHORT RIBS WITH ESPRESSO & COCOA RUB and see how these tender and juicy ribs with perfectly cooked meat, dropping effortlessly from the bone, and assisted by some good ingredients, can bring forth a treasure trove of undeniable flavor and intensity.

The flavors in this luscious dish are not exotic. They are hearty, deep and rich giving a slight sweetness to the sauce. The dish can be a special creation for guests, but it is also very much a family dish. This one has a Sicilian ring to it when the ingredients are investigated. The Moorish influence of the conquerors of Sicily is prominent with the use of lemon, dates, and pistachios. I use Valpolicella for a reason. It offers a fruitier and lighter essence instead of the expected heaviness from Barolo etc. or even the Sicilian wines often paired with beef. This essence pairs nicely with the sweeter sauce and the dates.

These short ribs can be prepared by beginning on top of the stove and finishing in the oven – a classic braise. It can also be made in the slow cooker as I have done here. Either way, I recommend preparing the ribs a day in advance and refrigerating the sauce overnight. By doing this, the next day you can easily remove the fat that congeals at the surface with a fork or spatula in a mere minute. Such ease!

There is no shortage of ideas for serving these BRAISED SHORT RIBS WITH ESPRESSO & COCOA RUB . Here you see them served over gnochetti. They are lovely with Risotto, gnocchi, polenta, mashed potatoes, or pasta. YOU choose!

Finally, the garnish of chopped pistachios, lemon zest, and fresh parsley is almost a gremolata, transforming the dish and taking it to a different flavor level. Do not ignore this final addition!


Serves: 4-6

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: 3 hours on the stove; 4 1/2 hours using Slow Cooker


4 lb. Short ribs with bones

1/4 C. Olive Oil

3 Tbsp. Espresso Powder or Instant Expresso

2 Tbsp. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

1 chopped onion

1/2 C. Chopped Carrots

1 large Stalk Celery – chopped

2 Fresh Cloves Garlic – chopped finely

1/2 C. Valpolicella Wine (or another medium red)

1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar

1 1/2 C. Beef Broth

1/2 C. Dates cut up, pits removed

3 Sprigs Fresh Thyme

1 Bay Leaf

2 Tbsp. Brown Sugar

1/2 lb. Mushrooms – I like wild. Buttons are fine.

Salt and Pepper

Garnish each serving with:

Fresh Parsley – chopped

Pistachio Nuts – chopped coarsely

Lemon Zest


Mix espresso powder and cocoa together and lightly dredge each rib in it.

Heat oil in a large pan and brown the ribs. (Great aroma!) Remove them to a plate. This takes about 5-6 minutes.

Espresso Short Ribs 1

In the same pan, cook the onions, carrots, celery and garlic for about 4-5 minutes.

Add the wine and balsamic vinegar. Deglaze – scraping up the bits from bottom of pan – about 2 minutes.

Espresso Short Ribs 2

Then add the brown sugar and broth – stir in.

If cooking on the stove – add the ribs back to the pan along with dates and herbs and cook in oven for about 2 1/2-3 hours. or until meat is tender and falls away from the bones. Stir occasionally.

If using the slow cooker – add the liquid and vegetables from the pan to the slow cooker. Add the ribs, dates, and herbs and cook on High for about 4 hours, or until the meat is tender and falls away from the bones.

Espresso Short Ribs 3

When cooking is finished, remove the ribs to a plate. Strain the liquid into a pot, discarding the vegetables and solids – season with salt and pepper. It is important to use salt which will bring out the flavors. Add the mushrooms and cook about 1/2 hour in the liquid until they are tender. This will also cook the sauce down some.

Store in a container in the refrigerator overnight. The fat will congeal at the top and you can quickly and easily remove it and discard, leaving a luscious sauce.

When you plate for each guest, remember to add some of the parsley, pistachios, and lemon zest which enhances the flavor and really takes the dish to another flavor level.


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Pasta Alla Gricia

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Pasta Alla Gricia finish

Buon giorno!

Looking back, so many regional dishes of my youth were those from Campania or Napoletana in origin because of my father, Attilio’s influence. However, my mother, Loretta, had family roots just a little further up the map in the region of Lazio (the region of Rome) – more specifically Minturno, a beautiful and charming seaside town. For this reason, some very interesting recipes crept into our little kitchen which were clearly different from the those of the Napoli-Amalfi area.

As a hat tip to Loretta’s “people”, as they used to say, we will prepare one of the easiest and most delicious pasta dishes ever created which hails from the Lazio region – PASTA ALLA GRICIA. This regional dish will be strangely familiar to some as it is quite similar to Carbonara, also from the Lazio region. Remember that I said similar and not same. Carbonara is not quite as simple, using onion, usually, and of course, egg yolk.

The gricia part is shrouded in some controversy and a little mystery. Actually no one really knows for sure – they just suspect! One of the theories comes from the Latin gricio relating to bread makers. But then you might also find reference to gray garments (griscium )worn by bread makers to cover their clothing. protecting it from flying flour. Whatever it means, it is one of the signature pastas of the region of Lazio along with the more commonly known, Spaghetti Alla Carbonara and Cacio e Pepe.

PASTA ALLA GRICIA, in its authentic form, calls for guanciale (cured pork jowl), but we will use pancetta here, as sometimes guanciale is more difficult to find. If you have access to the guanciale, by all means use it! You will see recipes for this pasta with all sorts of additions like herbs, garlic, or wine, but as with all authentic regional Italian preparations, the original is usually simple. Why complicate something that is already… well… perfect? This pasta has infinite flavor and requires very few ingredients.

The good news is that you may not need added salt. The ingredients, guanciale or pancetta, or even bacon and the Pecorino contain salt. I recommend tasting towards the end of your preparation to see if you need it.

You will see this pasta prepared with spaghetti, perciatelli etc and also the shorter pastas like rigatoni, or penne or even gnocchi.  I like to serve it with mezze rigatoni – the short half-rigatoni.

Many serve this with a white wine, but I like the red because of the pork. Somehow the white doesn’t quite hold up for me. A medium bodied red would be appropriate – such as a Barbera or Montepulciano. If you are fortunate enough to get your mitts on a Cesanese from the Lazio region, you will have achieved perfection!

Let’s do this!


Serves: 4

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: about 20 minutes


1 lb. Pasta – spaghetti, rigatoni, mezze rigatoni, penne, gnocchi

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

6 oz. Guanciale, Pancetta, or even Bacon diced

1 – 1 1/4 C. Pasta Water

Lots of freshly ground black pepper

3/4 C. Pecorino Romano grated cheese + more to serve


Begin by cooking your pasta according to package directions, reserving the designated amount of pasta water above for the sauce.

Once you add the pasta to the boiling water, begin your sauce by cooking the guanciale (preferable), pancetta, or bacon in the oil using a large pan.

Pasta Alla Gricia 1

Cook about 10 minutes or until the meat is browned and crispy.

Remove the diced meat to a bowl or plate.

Pasta Alla Gricia 2

Add the pasta water to the rendered fat in your pan and cook until the sauce thickens slightly –about 5 minutes.

Pasta Alla Gricia 3

Add the cooked, drained pasta to the pan along with the meat, black pepper, and grated Pecorino. Toss well.

Pasta Alla Gricia 4

Served with plenty of additional grated Pecorino. You should not need additional salt as the ingredients are already salty. Taste first!

Pasta Alla Gricia 5

Resist the urge to add wine or herbs to this simple recipe. It will complicate the flavors and change the result.


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Recipe of the Month August: Sausage and Clams

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Buon giorno!

So I just returned from my 50th high school reunion in Binghamton, NY, where I was fortunate to rekindle friendships with some of the finest people I have ever known. In a word, it was somewhat surreal! Since this event, I have thought of little else, along with memories of all sorts of fun times and yes, even some mischief. Some of the memories that came to mind involved clambakes at a place called “Mountain Top” where we consumed more clams on those warm days than you might think possible in a place so far inland and also sausage and pepper sandwiches, on the bill of fare at well attended Italian festivals.

I began to yearn for those flavors and decided to put together a little Italian dish in honor of those good folks with whom I reunited, combining the distinctive flavors I remembered so well at the clambakes and festivals of my youth. Here we have it – – SAUSAGE AND CLAMS. (I should have called this “Bowls of Heaven”!)

You might wonder how this duo might be at all complimentary, but I assure you that when the briny/sweet clams come together with pork sausage, it is magic time. The broth that is so simply created in this recipe makes good crusty Italian bread an essential ingredient to make this dish truly complete. The broth itself is so extraordinary as to enchant even the most skeptical of gourmands at your table. The looks you will receive and the sounds that you will hear upon serving this dish, laden with the golden broth in particular, are sure to please you and validate your efforts.

Clams and Sausage 1

This dish is surprisingly easy to prepare and an especially good one to choose for a crowd. Your Italian guests will appreciate the flavor similarity to an old fashioned sausage and peppers sandwich especially when they begin to scoop up the peppers and onions from the broth.. but then of course the twist of the added clams will surely send them into outer orbit. Obviously, the merging of the special flavors of the clams and the sausage might be wonderful enough, but the real secret to a truly successful preparation is one that is true of almost any Italian dish – FRESH INGREDIENTS! The freshness makes all the difference in this recipe. Just look at the ingredients below, and you will see that almost everything involved is fresh.

This amazing dish is almost a soup, could be a stew, but is definitely a flavor bomb! You can’t take a wrong turn with it. It is easy, fairly quick to prepare, and will make you a star in your own kitchen. Get the bowls ready… and don’t forget the bread!

Yeah. yeah, I know THE WINE!!! I am a fan of the beautiful Italian white wine, Falanghina, with any seafood dish. It is simply made to order for seafood and almost bears the very essence of the Mediterranean. For those who might like a red which would actually be lovely with the sausage, I might like a lighter red, like a Dolcetto or even a Barbera – but nothing too heavy.

I will leave you with a cautionary tale…When you buy your fresh clams, do NOT close the bag before cooking them. Clams are living things and need to breathe just like you do. I remember going to my local fish market and while waiting for my turn, overheard the gentleman customer ahead of me rudely berating my fish monger for handing him an open bag of clams.

CUSTOMER: “You are not going to even bother to close the bag?? What kind of service is this?” he said in a very loud voice. My fish monger was speechless and seemed embarrassed.

ME (sticking my nose where it did not belong – a bad habit): “Sir, do you plan to eat those clams?”

CUSTOMER: “Well, of course, I am”. (Responding in a very haughty and mind your own business tone)

ME: “ If that is the case, you better leave that bag wide open or you will have dead clams for dinner! This man did you a favor giving you an open bag allowing the clams to breathe!”

He never said a word of apology and stalked off with the open bag of clams. I, on the other hand, got free fish that day!

Now while I am off to Mountain Top or an Italian festival in my dreams, or maybe just the patio –  here are the keys to the kingdom:


Serves: 4-6

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 25 minutes


1/2 Stick (4 Tbsp.) Butter

1/4 C. Olive Oil

1 lb. Italian Sausage, sliced

I Onion, thinly sliced

1 Green Pepper, sliced thinly

2 Cups Sweet Grape or Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half

Red Pepper Flakes – amount up to you but at least 1/4 tsp recommended

3 Fresh Cloves Garlic, chopped finely

A good handful fresh flat leaf Italian Parsley – chopped

About 50 Clams – I like Littleneck, scrubbed and rinsed

3/4 Cup Dry White Wine or Dry Vermouth

1/4 cup Bottled Clam Juice

Zest of one fresh lemon

Lots of fresh ground pepper

Fresh Parsley for garnish

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – a good one – for drizzle


In a wide pan, place butter and oil and heat. Add Sausage, onion, pepper, tomatoes,  red pepper flakes and cook until sausage is browned and veggies are just tender – about 10-15 minutes.

Clams and Sausage 2

In last 5 minutes of cooking, add the chopped garlic, black pepper, and parsley.

Clams and Sausage 3

Give a quick scrub to the outside of the clams with a brush under running water. This is important! Then add the clams to the pan. Pour the wine and clam juice over them. Add the lemon zest .

Sausage and Clams 4

Cover and cook about 8-10 minutes. Uncover and check to see if any of the clams did not open. If there are some, you might cook another minute or two. Sometimes if the clams are larger, they need more time. If any remain unopened, discard them!

Sausage and Clams 5

Taste the broth for seasoning – You should not need salt at all – but if you would like it – add it now.

Garnish with fresh parsley and served in bowls with plenty of Italian bread for dunking.

A drizzle of good Extra Virgin Olive oil before serving finishes the dish!

It’s showtime!!!





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July: Grilled Corn Salad Caprese Style

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Grill Corn Salad Caprese Finish

Buon giorno!

“Knee high by the fourth of July!” I grew up hearing those words every July 4th that I can remember, recited by my father, Attilio. He was referring to the benchmark in height of what successful sweet corn should be by the time this patriotic holiday arrived. We did not grow corn, but that did not deter him from his yearly pronouncement.  Ever after, I have not enjoyed summer corn without thinking of his reminder to us about the corn crop.

This year, I remembered again as I prepared our 4th of July corn in a different way in a GRILLED CORN SALAD CAPRESE STYLE. If you like “fresh”, you’ll love this dish, as it is full of fresh ingredients. If your corn is truly sweet, the dish will satisfy every sweet tooth at your Italian table. Grilling the corn actually brings out the natural sugar in the corn – much more so than the old boil or steam method. So – your flavor level is increased even more by preparing it this way.

I like to grill the corn the day before, making the salad prep an easy slide on the day you plan to serve your dish. More good news… it is a great side for almost any meal but an exceptional choice for grilled meats or fish. You might think about doubling this as it disappears very quickly!


Serves: 4

Prep: 40 minutes


5 Ears Sweet Corn

Olive Oil

Salt and pepper

1 Medium Cucumber

1 C. Chopped Sweet grape or cherry tomatoes

3 Tbsp. Coarsely chopped fresh Basil

1 1/2 C. Cubed Fresh Mozzarella Cheese (about 8 oz)


3/4 C. Olive Oil

1/4 C. Red Wine Vinegar

1 Tsp. Kosher Salt

1/4 Tsp. Coarse Ground Black Pepper

1/2 Tsp. Dijon Mustard

1/2 Tsp. Dried Oregano

Pinch Red Pepper Flakes

1/2 Tsp. Sugar

Reserve Capers for garnish


Generously rub or brush ears of corn with olive oil. Then sprinkle on salt and pepper hitting all sides

Grill the corn til tender on a hot grill. Some char is good. It adds color and flavor. You can do this a day ahead.

Grilled Corn 1

When corn is done and cool, stand each ear up on a board or plate and cut off the corn kernels with a sharp knife going all the way around until all of the kernels are off the cob. Discard the cobs.

When ready to prepare the salad, chop your cucumber, tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella – Then place all in a bowl.

Grilled Corn Salad 2

Add your corn kernels and mix all.


Combine all dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk well. Dress your salad with as much dressing as you like. If you have extra dressing, save it to add if after refrigerating, your salad needs re-seasoning or use it on a tossed salad.

Check for seasoning if the salad sits in refrigerator.

Add capers for garnish.

Enjoy this GRILLED CORN SALAD CAPRESE STYLE all summer long!


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May: Roasted Diced Potatoes with Gorgonzola

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Buon giorno!

Potato, Po-tahhh-to, as they say. Lately growing tired of the usual cuts, I have been on a tear for preparing diced potatoes. On the surface you might think it wouldn’t make a difference how they were cut before roasting – but it does. Potatoes in this tiny shape carry more of the roasted flavor than the usual larger slices. Each little bite is FULL of flavor! I have served them more recently in all sorts of ways, but the ROASTED DICED POTATOES WITH GORGONZOLA seem to have launched the siren call in my world for the perfect side to outdoor summer dining and grilling.

My accomplished gourmet friend, Eric, consulted with me the other day on a potato suggestion for his very special dinner of Duck Confit. Immediately, my passion for the little diced spuds came to mind to compliment his luscious and ambitious French effort, and I decided that I needed to share this one with you as well.

These potatoes can be made ahead and reheated successfully. As a matter of fact, I suggest making extra, just for the purpose of having them left over for breakfast the following day served with a lovely poached egg! With that in mind, I also highly recommend using them for a special Brunch with the same poached or fried eggs – maybe served on a small bed of greens?

The great thing about these “dicey” wonders is that you can put your pearls on and serve them with a fancy beef or pork dish or “git down” in your favorite jeans and offer them with burgers, spiedies, barbecue, or a myriad of outdoor grilled items. They just seem to fit in with the occasion.

So pour yourself a glass of Brunello and start dicing!


Serves 4-6

Prep 15 minutes

Cook 30-35 minutes


6 Large Yukon Gold Potatoes

4 oz. Chopped uncooked Pancetta

1 Chopped Sweet Onion

1/2 C. Olive Oil

Kosher Salt and Coarsely Ground Black Pepper

Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes

1/2  Cup Crumbled Gorgonzola (or a creamy Blue) Cheese

(Don’t use the pre-crumbled cheese as it can be very dry – It is best to buy a small block and crumble your own)


Mix all ingredients together in a bowl except the cheese.

Roasted Potatoes with Blue Cheese 1

Spread the diced potato mixture out in a single layer on a shallow baking pan lined with foil.

Roasted Potatoes with Blue Cheese 2

Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes and stir.

Cook 15-20 more minutes adding the crumbled cheese in the last5-10 minutes of cooking.

You can make these  potatoes ahead – early in the day and warm them just before serving.


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March: Roasted Pears

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Buon giorno!

Italians have long ended their meals with a simple fruit or fruit and cheese. They seem to like their sweets or “dolci” in the morning with an espresso. With our ROASTED PEARS, we take our fruit dessert to another level with little sweetness from the added Bourbon Crema and Candied Walnuts.

Not a drop of sugar is needed during the preparation of these pears, making them a very nutritious dessert when enjoyed with no added embellishment. The pears sweeten themselves through caramelization during roasting. A lovely slice of Gorgonzola would be enough to add for any Italian looking for a light finale.

The crema, very much like a French Crème Anglaise,  is a luscious liquid custard, made from egg yolks, and in this instance is laced with Bourbon. It is a beautiful accompaniment to the caramelized pear. It keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator.

The Candied Walnuts add some crunch and interest. The recipe makes about 8 oz so there are plenty of these leftover for use in salads, other desserts, or just for a snack. They are fabulous alone in a bowl with cocktails.

Even with the added crema and candied nuts, this remains a light and interesting finish to a meal.

Pear with creme finish 2 - best

These are such favorites at my house that roasted pears are usually always found in our frig for those moments when the craving for a sweet drives us crazy, but we don’t want to bust the diet. They are simply fantastic served over salad greens.



Serves: 4

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 15 minutes


4 Bosc or Red Pears

Olive Oil


Make sure your pears are clean and free of grocery stickers. Leave the skins on.

Slice off each end. Then slice in half vertically.

Using a spoon, gently scoop out the core.

Place the pears face down on a foil lined pan sprayed with Pam.

Brush each pear half with olive oil.


Bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes or until a fork slides through easily.

Cool .  They keep for days in a closed container refrigerated. I like to warm them a little in the microwave before serving.


Makes: about 2 cups

Prep: About 20 minutes


1 C. Whole Milk

1 C. Heavy Cream

2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

1/2 C. Sugar

4 Large Egg Yolks

Pinch of salt

2 Tbsp. Bourbon


Cook the Milk, Cream, and extract in a saucepan until bubbles form on the sides. Remove from heat and cool a little.

Creme 1

Place the sugar, egg yolks, and salt in a bowl. Whisk them together well.

Creme 3

Then add a little of the slightly cooled milk and cream to the yolk mixture and whisk quickly to blend so that egg yolks do not cook. Add a little more and whisk again.

Then add this all back to the remaining milk mixture in the pan and whisk.

Heat this, stirring constantly, until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon, so that it makes a line that holds when you run your finger down the back of the spoon.

Creme 4

Remove from heat and add the Bourbon – Stir and let cool. Strain through a fine sieve to get any solids out.

Refrigerate this custard in a bowl or covered container.

The next day the custard should be much thicker. This will keep a few days in the refrigerator.


Makes: 8 oz.

Prep: 25 minutes


8 oz. Walnut halves or pieces

2 large Egg Whites

1/2 C. Sugar

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Pinch of salt

Pinch of Nutmeg

1/2 Tsp. Cinnamon

2 Tsp. Vanilla extract


Whisk together the egg whites, sugar, pepper, spices, and extract in a bowl.

Candied Walnuts 1

Add the walnuts and toss, coating well.

Spray a piece of foil to cover a sheet pan with Pam.

Pour the walnut mixture out on the foil, spreading into a single layer.

Candied Walnuts 2

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, turning with a spoon or spatula about half way through cooking.

Remove from oven and toss a little with a fork. The nuts will crisp as they cool.

Candied Walnuts finish

Once cooled, keep them in a covered container. They keep several weeks.

The ROASTED PEARS  are so easy and can be prepared ahead. The finished dessert is beautiful to serve and memorable.

SERVING IDEAS: Serve the roasted pears simply or with a slice of Gorgonzola or a creamy Blue Cheese. OR – Drizzle each pear with a little Bourbon on a plate and light it for a little flambe!

Pears 5

OR – if served with the Bourbon Crema and Candied Walnuts – drizzle with a little Dark Chocolate or Balsamic Glaze. The Bourbon Crema is also delicious with pound cake. The Candied Walnuts are wonderful on salads or with cocktails.

So many options! You will love this one!


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Caprese Style Chicken with Beans

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Caprese Chicken finish 1 - Copy.jpg with script

Buon giorno!

The use of the term “Caprese” is often heard in the world of Italian food these days. What does it actually mean? Caprese refers to recipes and a cooking style coming from the island of Capri in Italy located in the Tyrrhenian Sea . This area is celebrated in song as well and is noted for its amazing and unique blue water color.

There are many great dishes coming from this island. However, in the US, when we think of Caprese Style, we relate most often to the use of tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella and good olive oil.

CAPRESE STYLE CHICKEN WITH BEANS is one of these dishes that combines these ingredients, and a few more, resulting in a rich, fresh tasting, and thoroughly delicious dish. It is easy and takes just a few minutes to prepare.



Serves 4

Prep 15 minutes

Cook about 30 minutes


4 Tbsp. Olive Oil

8 Boneless skinless chicken thighs

2 Cloves Fresh Garlic finely chopped

10 Campari Tomatoes – quartered

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh Basil

2/3 Cup Dry White Wine

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 Can (approx. 15.5 oz.) Cannellini Beans – drained

8 oz. Fresh Mozzarella slices or Ciliegine (little balls of fresh Mozzarella) – as pictured

More Fresh Basil

Balsamic Glaze (optional)


Season the chicken with salt and peper – both sides and brown in the oil along with the garlic in an oven proof pan.

Add the tomatoes, basil and wine. Cook about 15 minutes uncovered at a strong simmer.

Caprese Chicken 1

Add Mozzarella and beans.

Caprese Chicken 2

Place pan in oven and cook at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Garnish with fresh Basil.

Drizzle with Balsamic Glaze (optional but adds to the flavor!) and serve.

Serving suggestion for CAPRESE STYLE CHICKEN WITH BEANS  – Try a beautiful Northern Italian white like Donna Anita Roero Arneis with this dish.


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February: Mini Frittatas

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Mini Fritattas with script

Buon giorno!

Here it is! if you are looking for a healthy snack or breakfast – quick and great for “on the go” – MINI FRITTATAS are your new best friend! It’s a no brainer really. So you like Frittatas – why not make small individual ones ahead so you can just grab one – or two when you are hungry or when you need something fast. This has really saved me in my pursuit of healthier eating at the start of the new year. Making them ahead and having them ready to eat cold or warmed in the microwave has made life so easy for me.

I have always loved Frittatas, coming from an Italian household. In our house, growing up, Frittata was a more involved undertaking – making a large one for the whole family and, of course especially at Easter, with the traditional partially fried and baked one inverted onto a platter and usually served cold or room temperature on the holiday table.

Having these little ones ready to go at any time in just the right size is a great assist to a busy life, especially when they contain all the ingredients I love: eggs, spinach, sweet tomatoes, and Parmigiano Reggiano. If I want a change I can always switch to a new green or something different like adding scallions, swiss chard, or even meat like ham or sausage.

Lately I have just kept them simple and healthy with the ingredients you see here. For example, notice the egg whites instead of all whole eggs. You can, of course, use whole eggs if you wish for a richer result.

For a fun make ahead Brunch item, you can’t beat these little wonders stacked on a platter. They are bright and colorful and will delight your guests — but you better make extra!

Have fun with these! Mix it up and try different ingredients. Check out the other Frittata ideas on LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE. You will love having these to grab quickly from your frig.



Makes: about 9

Prep: 15 minutes

Bake: about 15-20 minutes


3 Whole large eggs

7 Large egg whites

2 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Basil

1/3 Cup Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

Salt and pepper to taste – for egg mixture

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Clove Fresh Garlic – chopped finely

2 Cups Fresh Baby Spinach

10 Campari Tomatoes – chopped

Salt and pepper to taste – for vegetable mixture


Place the eggs and egg whites in a large bowl and whisk together along with the basil, grated cheese, and salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a fry pan, add 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil, garlic, baby spinach, Campari Tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add this vegetable mixture to the egg mixture in the bowl.

Spray a muffin tin with Pam.

Ladle the frittata mixture into each muffin cup filling each about 3/4 full.

Bake at 350 degres for 15-20 minutes until firm. They will puff up but will go down some once they cool.

Now just turn the pan over and pop out the frittatas!

Either serve or refrigerate for later use or to grab on the go like I do!

Eat cold or warmed in the microwave.

My refrigerator is never without them!


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October:Bolognese Sauce

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Bolognese Sauce finish with script

Buon giorno!

One of my favorite regions of Italy is Emilia-Romagna – an area perhaps most prominent as a source for the most common and revered of Italian cooking ingredients. This is the land of Parma Ham, Balsamic Vinegar, tortellini, sfoglia, Parmigiano-Reggiano and on and on. It is no wonder that it is often called the “gastronomic heart” of Italy. Many of its signature recipes are rich in butter in lieu of olive oil and lean less on tomatoes. Strangely, you find fewer of Italy’s well known wines coming from this region.

Perhaps the most famous recipe of the region is Bolognese Sauce  – a sauce that has become one so notoriously ill-prepared in the US. So often, it is portrayed on menus as the real deal when the resulting sauce contains no more than tomato sauce and ground beef. Do NOT be fooled! These imposters do not even come close to the complexity of flavor in an authentic Bolognese Sauce which traditionally has very little tomato and includes a combination of meats, butter, and even milk or cream – all cooked “low and slow” – only to deliver the richest flavor one can imagine in a sauce for pasta.

Recipes for this sauce will vary in their use of bacon, pancetta, or sausage. This recipe calls for both Pancetta and sausage. You will notice that the authentic recipes for this sauce do not use tomatoes – but opt for tomato paste instead.

Traditionally, this sauce is served over Tagliatelle Pasta or Bucatini. In my view, this sauce is best served over homemade Tagliatelle!

When made properly, this sauce is one of Italy’s most memorable. In short, it is splendid!


Makes: sauce for about 1 lb. pasta

Prep: about 30 minutes

Cook: about 1 3/4 hours


3 Tbsp. Butter

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1/4 lb. chopped Pancetta (or bacon)

1 onion, chopped small

1 Carrot or 5 baby Carrots, chopped small

1 Stalk Celery, chopped small

2 Cloves, fresh garlic, chopped finely

1/2 lb. Ground Pork

1/2 lb. Ground Beef

1/4 lb. Loose Sweet Italian Sausage meat

1 cup Dry White Wine – Dry Vermouth is good

1/4 Cup Tomato Paste

1 Cup Beef stock or broth

1/2 Cup Heavy Cream

2 Tbsp. Butter

Salt if desired

Fresh Flat Leaf Italian Parsley – chopped coarsely for garnish


In a pot,cook the Pancetta, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, in the butter and oil until the vegetables are tender.

Bolognese Sauce 1

Then add all of the meats, browning them, while breaking them up with a fork.

Bolognese Sauce 2

Add the wine, scraping the bits from the pan bottom and cook a couple of minutes at medium high.

Add the beef stock or broth, reserving a little of it to mix with the tomato paste to dilute it – Then add the paste and broth to the pot also.

Bolognese Sauce 3

Stir well and cover. Bring to bubbling and reduce the heat to low, covered, letting it simmer for 1 1/2 hours. For a denser sauce with less liquid, uncover the last 1/2 hour!

Now add the cream and let cook on medium-low for a couple of minutes. Add the butter and allow to melt in, stirring.

Taste for seasoning. Salt to taste – you may not need any!

Pour over cooked pasta: tagliatelle or bucatini (perciatelli) are traditional choices.

Garnish with fresh Italian parsley.

I like to serve Barbera d’Alba with Bolognese Sauce.


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Pasta with Shrimp and Greens

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Buon giorno!

Pasta is a great energy food. Bikers, runners, and those who need to pack the carbs for a sports event have known this for years. Of course, Italians have always known there was something good and wholesome about it. When you add healthy ingredients which combine to offer great flavor it is a match made in — well you know where! PASTA WITH SHRIMP AND GREENS is an easy dish to prepare and has a freshness about it that should please everyone.

In the photo, I have used an artisan pasta made from tomato pesto. You certainly do not have to select artisan pasta. Any Spaghetti or Capellini of your choice would work perfectly. The sundried tomatoes bring a touch of sweetness to this that would be missed if not included. I was fortunate for this preparation to get some freshly dried ones at the Farmer’s Market and some fresh Georgia shrimp that came right off the boat the day before – ahhhh!

Warning – there will be no leftovers! Marone what a dish!


Serves: 2

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: about 15 minutes


8 oz. Spaghetti, Cappellini etc. prepared according to package directions – or pasta fresca!

1 Bunch Fresh Swiss Chard – Rainbow is nice! (you can also use spinach if you like)

1/3 Cup Olive Oil

2 Cloves fresh garlic chopped finely

1/2-2/3 Cup Sundried Tomatoes – chopped

1/4 Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes

2 Tbsp. Fresh Basil chopped

1 lb. Large Shrimp, cleaned and shelled

1/2 C. Dry White Wine

Salt and Pepper to taste


Rinse your Swiss Chard and chop coarsely. Drop into a pot of boiling lightly salted water and cook for about 6 minutes. Drain well. Set aside.

In a pan, saute the garlic and sundried tomatoes for about 2 minutes over medium heat. Do not burn the garlic!

Add the shrimp, red pepper, basil, and Swiss Chard. Then add the wine. Toss in the pan and cook  over medium-medium high until the shrimp is just opaque – about 3-4 minutes – no more!

Add salt and pepper to taste and stir.

Pour over your cooked pasta and prepare for an amazing taste experience!

This PASTA WITH SHRIMP AND GREENS is one of those pasta dishes that is just perfect for patio dining or “date night” with a bottle of Falanghina – the Italian white just made for seafood!


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September:Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

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Buon giorno!

With fall upon us, we turn our attention to heartier dishes, vegetables, and flavors that remind us of home and comfort. Butternut Squash is one of the vegetables that seem to relate to this time of year. Its sweetness and richness upon roasting put us in that “zone” we think of as satisfying and just like Mama used to make. Risotto and Butternut Squash are one of those matches made in heaven, and Risotto Al Zucca is a signature dish of the Northern regions of Italy most notably Lombardia.

With ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO, we take this great authentic dish to another level by roasting the squash and enhancing the dish with a couple of different ingredients. Satisfying the “itch” for that great flavor combo, sweet and savory, this dish fills that need perfectly. Our savory flavors of the squash, sage, broth, onion, and parmigiano are matched with the sweetness of the roasted version of the squash and the addition of a finish or garnish of Balsamic Glaze, Candied Walnuts, and Ricotta.

BOOM! That, my friends, is an explosive combination which entertains your palate in a way I cannot clearly describe. This is a flavor load not to be believed.

This is a dish that served in a smaller amount as a first course sets the stage for a great fall menu of roasted meats perhaps. Regardless of how you follow this course – this starter will definitely inform the guests at your Italian table that they are in for a very special meal indeed!

However, if you prefer to make this dish the main event, it is hearty enough to stand up and out as a comforting entrée that ushers in the memories of fall meals past and the season of bountiful ingredients and flavors to come.

This dish will simply bring you boundless return!

…and now, a drum roll please…


(with Candied Walnuts and Ricotta!!)

You can make your Candied Walnuts days ahead if you like and also roast the squash ahead of time.

Serves: 4 as entrée or 6 as a first course

Prep/Cook: about an hour

Candied Walnuts

This recipe makes about a cup although you will not use them all in this recipe. Save the rest for salads – yum!

In a pan, place 1 cup of walnut halves or pieces, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp. Butter, and a dash of Cayenne Pepper. (2 dashes for more spice!)

Candied Walnuts 1

Heat and let the sugar melt in, while stirring constantly – takes just a couple of minutes.

Candied Walnuts 2

When melted and well covered, pour the walnuts onto parchment paper or wax paper and quickly spread the mixture out with a spatula. This hardens almost instantly. When cool, break into small pieces and store in a covered container.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Toss 3 cups cubed Butternut Squash with some Olive Oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Spread this out on a sheet pan and bake/roast at 400 degrees for about 15- 20 minutes until just fork tender, turning with a spoon about 1/2 way through. You can do this ahead also.

Set aside.



1 1/2 Cups Arborio Rice

2 Tbsp. Butter

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 chopped sweet onion

6 –7 Cups WARM Chicken Broth (can substitute vegetable broth)- you might not use it all

2 Tbsp. Chopped Sage

1/3 Cup Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Asiago Cheese

2 Tbsp. Butter

The roasted butternut squash from instructions above

Several Candied Walnuts – instructions above

Chopped Fresh Sage for garnish

4 heaping Tablespoons of Whole Milk Ricotta, beaten a little with a spoon to make fluffy

Balsamic Glaze or reduction of Balsamic Vinegar


Heat the butter and olive oil in a wide shallow pan (best for risotto). Add the chopped onion and cook at medium – medium high for 5 minutes.


Then add the rice – Cook another 5 minutes tossing to coat in the butter and oil.


Begin to add the warm broth with a large ladle – one ladle at a time, letting the rice absorb each addition before adding the next. This process can take about 30 minutes or more.

Add the chopped sage during this process.

You know you are finished when the rice is tender to the bite and creamy.

When rice is finished cooking, turn off the heat. Add the grated cheese and the additional butter. Stir in.

Add the roasted squash and toss gently.

Beat the ricotta a little with the back of a spoon to make it fluffy. Add several dollops of this to the risotto or 1 to each individual serving, letting each guest stir it in.

Add the candied walnuts.

Garnish with additional fresh sage and drizzle with a little Balsamic Glaze.

Butternut Squash Risotto finish 3 with script- Copy

This ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO is so flavorful and rich, you will make it your go-to fall dish! This one is special!


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July:Frutti di Mare On the Grill

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Buon giorno!

There is no shortage of recipes for Frutti di Mare. Literally it means “fruits of the sea” – more to the point: seafood! The term and recipes are most closely associated with the Amalfi Coast and Bay of Naples, although you can find them from other regions sometimes given different names. the term, Frutti di Mare, is more often seen in recipes for spaghetti and linguine but the preparation is similar also to the Italian fish soup, Zuppa di Pesce.

In the featured recipe here, we are taking the traditional idea of Frutti di Mare and cooking it on the grill in packets – thus, FRUTTI DI MARE ON THE GRILL!  If you love seafoood, will be right at home with this one especially after you see the ease with which you can prepare it. The flavor is amazing and you will be transported immediately to the Italian coast with the resulting aroma. It is simply…divine!

Part of the fun of this recipe is choosing the seafood. It is totally up to you as to what you ultimately select. Choose your favorite shellfish items or even chunks of cod or haddock. It is your “oyster” – choose everything you love!

The key to this recipe is organization – having everything ready to go and distributing the ingredients into the assorted packages. This is sooo easy and everyone will love you for it! It is not only fun to serve but your guests and family will have a ball with it – each person focusing and plowing through his packet – noting with hoots and hollers about all of the favorite seafood items inside.

Although you can serve it any time of year, the recipe cries out for a balmy patio evening, a gentle breeze, and an amazing wine – perhaps a Rosato! But please don’t forget the Italian songs that will lull your guests so beautifully into thinking they are dining on a high patio overlooking the fabulous Amalfi Coast.


Serves: 4

Prep: About 30 minutes

Cook: About 20 minutes


4 Large Pieces of Foil – about 18 “


1/2 lb. Calamari (Squid) Tubes (tentacles also if you like) cut into rings

16 Large Fresh Shrimp, cleaned and shelled

12 Fresh Mussels, with outside of shells cleaned with a brush under running water

20 Small Clams  ( I like Littlenecks or Cockles for this dish but any will do!) – outer shells brushed under running water to clean


2  6-8 oz. Lobster Tails, each cut in half with meat loosened from the shell


2-3 Italian Sausage Links – cut into rounds

2 Large Cloves Fresh Garlic, chopped finely

3-4 Small Yukon Gold Potatoes – cut up in small pieces – skins on (I like to microwave these for a couple of minutes first to begin the cooking process.)

1 Fennel Bulb, sliced thinly

4 Springs Fresh Tarragon

1 Tbsp. Fresh Basil – chopped

4 Slices Fresh Orange + 1 Squeeze of fresh juice per packet

Dash Red Pepper Flakes per packet

Pinch of Saffron per packet

Kosher Salt and Fresh Pepper to taste

About 1/2 Cup Crushed San Marzano tomatoes per packet

Splash of Dry White wine per packet

Splash of Clam Juice per packet

Dash of Sambuca per packet (optional but a great addition!)

Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil per packet


DON’T  be discouraged by the number of ingredients here. This recipe comes together 1-2-3! Enlist your guest to help!

Get all of your ingredients ready and lined up to go.

Lay out the foil sheets and evenly distribute the seafood, sausage, potatoes, fennel, and garlic on the bottom half of each sheet.

You might want to curl the foil edges upward a bit so that liquid does not run out.

Then top these ingredients with the tomatoes next – followed by the herbs, orange, orange juice squeeze, red pepper, saffron, salt, pepper, wine, clam juice and Sambuca.

End with a nice drizzle of Extra Virgin.

Frutti di mare 1

Fold the top half of foil sheet over the bottom half with the ingredients on it and quickly roll up the edges around 3 sides tightly!

Place them on a platter and take them to the grill.

Frutti di mare 2

The grill should be very hot – around 450 degrees. Close the top of the grill and cook 20 minutes.

Remove the packets and give each guest one of them. Caution them to open carefully as the steam coming out is HOT! If any of the clams or mussels have not opened, return the packet to the grill for 4-5 minutes. Some of these  are stubborn! If still not open, discard them.

Place a bowl in the center of the table for discarded shells.


When you see how easy FRUTTI DI MARE ON THE GRILL is to make – you’ll want to make this all summer long!


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Baked Stuffed Haddock

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Buon giorno!

Italians love fish and serve it in all sorts of ways. Here is a beautiful BAKED STUFFED HADDOCK which is so rich and delicious that you would think it must be over the top in unhealthy ingredients. NOT! The preparation is simple and contains no butter despite the buttery flavor. It takes about 30 minutes to prepare and cooks in slightly less time than that.

The selection of fish is yours. If you cannot find haddock which I highly recommend for its “almost lobster” consistency, you will have success with Cod, Snapper, Flounder, or even Branzino. These are all choices that are generally moist. For me, the choice of haddock is just perfection!

This is a dish that almost makes you feel like there is sand under your toes with its “beachy” essence!

Let’s begin!


Serves: 2-3

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: about 25 minutes


3/4 lb. Haddock fillet ( or similar fish)

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1/2 Onion – chopped

1 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Chives

1 Clove Garlic chopped finely

2 Tbsp. Fresh Basil chopped

1/2 Tsp. Dried Oregano or 1 Tbsp. Fresh Oregano

1 1/2 C. Fresh White Breadcrumbs

4 Whole Artichoke Hearts (canned is fine) – rinsed, drained, and chopped

2 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice – divided

2 Tbsp. Clam Juice

1/4 C. Dry White Wine

1/2 C. Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese – grated

Old Bay Seasoning

Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Place Haddock fillet on greased foil in pan.

Drizzle with a little of the extra virgin olive oil.

In a pan, heat the olive oil along with the chopped onion and chives.

Add the garlic and toss in the pan about a minute.

Add artichoke hearts, oregano, and basil to the pan, tossing lightly at medium high.

Add the clam juice, white wine, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, and fresh breadcrumbs, cooking 3 minutes more.

Remove from heat and add the grated cheese – mix.

Place stuffing on top of the fish and press lightly to make it adhere and stay on the fish.

Drizzle remaining 1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice over the stuffing and drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Sprinkle the top of the stuffing with the Old Bay Seasoning.

Haddock 1

Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes. I like to cook this on the top shelf of the oven for nice browning and toasting of the crumbs.

Even those who are, shall we say, “less enchanted” with fish have loved this BAKED STUFFED HADDOCK. Serve it with a dry white wine or a Rosato!


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Blueberry Limoncello Crumble

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Buon giorno!

Let me rock your sweet tooth a bit with this little gem: Blueberry Limoncello Crumble. The hot days of summer just aren’t memorable enough without the sweet explosion of a plump baked blueberry popping in your mouth. This dessert is special – not only because it is wonderfully delicious but also because the resulting little cups of goodness are so easy and quick to make.

Every summer growing up, I can remember looking forward to the blueberries coming into season. They suddenly were incredibly sweet. Then the pies ensued – the cobblers – the pancakes – the muffins. That kind of memory is palpable and never quite goes away, all wrapped up in sights, smells, even words – the triggers that take us back decades to a simpler time, made real again by sweet aromas and tastes in our own kitchens. Here is one of those!


Serves: 4

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes



3 Large Lemon Biscotti – crushed to a coarse crumble – Make your own or buy them

To make your own RECIPE

1/3 Cup Sugar

4 Tbsp. Room Temperature butter cut in pieces


Place above ingredients in a bowl and blend with fork or even better with your fingers.

Set aside.



4 Cups Fresh Blueberries

2/3 Cup Sugar

1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

Dash Cinnamon

Dash Salt

2 Tbsp. Flour

1/3 Cup Limoncello

One Squeeze of a fresh lemon


Spray 4 ramekins or souffle cups with Pam or butter them.

In a bowl, mix Blueberries, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, flour, salt. Then add the Limoncello and fresh lemon juice, gently folding in.

Blueberry Limoncello Crumble 1

Divide among the 4 ramekins.

Blueberry Limoncello Crumble 2

Top with the crumbled biscotti mixture.

Blueberry Limoncello Crumble 3

Place the ramekins on a foil lined pan to catch drippings.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. If you want the effect of spillover with the berries dripping over as you see in the photo above – bake about 5 minutes more.

 BLUEBERRY LIMONCELLO CRUMBLE is quite delicious – especially with a scoop of gelato! So easy – so good!

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Key Lime Gelato

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Buon giorno!

Welcome to Margaritaville! Errr – Linda’s Italian Table with a lime twist?? Whatever! It is the warm weather season, and I, for one, am ready for a chilly dessert. This KEY LIME GELATO (with or without Macadamia Nuts – up to you) is just pie in a bowl!!

I suggest making extra because this stuff is gonna disappear fast! It is creamy and limey – made with Key Lime Juice which is bottled and easy to find usually in the baking section at your market. OR.. if you have extra time and access – get yourself some fresh key limes and squeeze your own juice! Either way – if you like the mild lime flavor of Key Limes or Key Lime Pie – marone, you are in for a treat here!

We added just 2-3 drops of green food coloring to give it a little nudge towards a tropical mode. You will NOT want to add more as a tiny bit of food coloring goes a long way, and it is NOT St. Partick’s Day! Besides – Key Limes, as you probably know, are more yellow than green.

A twisty idea on a beverage: Try this gelato whirled in your blender with a little vodka or rum – Serve in a pretty martini or wine glass with a twist of Key Lime or mint.  Good stuff!

So – “put de lime in de coconut and turn yourself around” (sigh.. sometimes I just cannot resist)



(with or without Macadamia Nuts)

Makes: about a quart

Prep: about an hour total + freezing time


2 Cups Heavy Cream

1 Cup Whole Milk

6 Egg Yolks

1 Cup Sugar

Dash of Kosher Salt (important to bring out flavor)

1/3 Cup Key Lime Juice (do NOT use regular lime juice) – see above text for directions in finding it

1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

2-3 Drops – no more! – green food coloring

1 Cup Very Coarsely chopped Macadamia Nuts (optional)


Heat the cream and milk in a pan until bubbles form on the side. Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.

Place egg yolks in a bowl along with the sugar and salt – Then beat until light in color. The mixture will thicken.(Just a couple of minutes)

Key Lime Gelato 1

Add a little of the heated milk and cream to the yolks while whisking at same time. Then add a little more – whisking still. Now you can add the yolks mixture to the pan – whisk – and put back on the heat at medium.

Cook, stirring constantly, so that it does not separate, until it coats the back of a wooden spoon and you can make a little “road” through the coating with your finger.

Key Lime Gelato 2

This is a custard! Let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes.

Pour into a bowl.

Then add the vanilla extract, key lime juice, and food coloring. Stir in.

Key Lime Gelato 3

Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight is best. It will become thick.

Key Lime Gelato 4

When ready to make – pour mixture into your ice cream maker and follow your machine directions.

When it is finished or towards the end of the process – add the nuts if using. Incorporate. Note: I chill my Macadamias before adding so as not to raise the temperature of the gelato when added.

Key Lime Gelato 5

Freeze for several hours until ready to eat. Gelato is best eaten slightly soft. So if your gelato freezes hard – let it sit out for a bit to soften.

Key Lime Gelato 6

There it is! KEY LIME GELATO!  A little Italy in the tropics!


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