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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May: Saltimbocca Alla Sorrentina

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Saltimbocca finish 3 with script

Buon giorno!

Sorrento is one of those towns that, once witnessed, becomes ingrained upon your psyche for ever more. My father, Attilio, spent the better part of his life whistling a song about this town to the point where we all wanted to reach for ear plugs. Did he not know another tune? Actually he did, but why resort to something inferior to whistling about paradise? He had it right. Once bitten by this place, and the Amalfi Coast in general, one is doomed forever to long for it. I call it the curse of Amalfi! Thus, as the song goes, “torna a surriento”.

Aside from the fragrant air, the sea, the people, the music – we must not overlook the food of this placeSALTIMBOCCA ALLA SORRENTINA may be one of those dishes that is as unforgettable as Sorrento itself. The sauce alone for this recipe will have you whistling about Sorrento just as Attilio did. It is so delicious you might consider doubling the ingredients and serving it with pasta! The kicker here – is that it is very easy and quick to make. What’s not to love here?

This particular version of Saltimbocca calls for pork tenderloin. This choice of meat is lean and tender, requiring very little cooking time. For pork, I always recommend the superior humanely raised Heritage Pork Tenderloins from Circle B Ranch! You can also substitute veal or chicken if you like, but I think pork tenderloin is perfectly suited to this preparation.

Although you will see recipes using prosciutto, I like the salami. It adds a level of flavor slightly sharper and seems to give the dish more depth.

I also recommend FRESH mozzarella for this, as it is creamy and melts so perfectly rather than what I refer to as the more commercial “plastic stuff”. We are fortunate that so many markets now carry the fresh so widely.

Finally, the Campari Tomatoes: These very sweet fresh tomatoes, which are usually offered in a box in our produce sections, are an excellent choice for this dish. Most important, they are available almost all year which enables you to make this recipe, perfectly every time, with the same sweet flavor. When you taste the sauce, you will understand immediately why I chose them.

This is an elegant dish, worthy of the most important of occasions – but easy enough to prepare for a weeknight dinner with family. Try it out on the patio on a balmy summer evening. Bellissima!

Saltimbocca Alla Sorrentina  – a dish made in heaven? NO – but one equally ethereal perhaps – a dish made in Sorrento!


Serves 4

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 25 minutes


8 Thin slices Pork Tenderloin (about 1 1/2 lb)

Flour seasoned with salt and pepper

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

2 Tbsp. Butter

2 Cups Quartered Campari Tomatoes

3/4 Cup Dry Vermouth or Dry White Wine

1 1/2 Tsp. Oregano – dried

Salt and pepper to taste

2-3 Ounces Salami – your choice: hard, Milano, Genoa etc.

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

8 ounces Fresh Mozzarella – sliced

Fresh Basil Leaves for garnish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the oil with the butter (melt) in a pan.

Slice your tenderloin starting at a mid point on top of the tenderloin thinly.


Dredge the slices in the seasoned flour.


Brown the pork slices on each side in the oil and butter.


Place them in a dish and keep warm.


In the same pan, add the tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper, and wine – Cook about 5 minutes at a rapid simmer.



Remove from heat and set aside.

Now place the slices of pork in a single layer in a baking dish or pan.

Top each pork slice with a slice or two of salami.


Sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Then place a slice of the fresh Mozzarella on top of the salami.


Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. The cheese should be very soft and melted.

Remove from the oven and spoon the lovely sauce on top – or plate each piece and add the sauce to the individual portions.

Garnish with fresh Basil Leaves – whole or chopped.

As the Neapolitans sing it – “Vide’o mare quant’è bello…”

My parting thought: My immediate choice for a wine pairing with SALTIMBOCCA ALLA SORRENTINA is Dolcetto. It has a lighter sense and somehow I feel a more delicate red is called for with this lovely dish. However, for those who look for a little more “heft” – the regional Aglianico of Campania is good choice as well as a Barbera d’Asti or even a Toscana.


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Drowned Veal

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Vitello Affogato – 

Drowned Veal finish 2 with script

Buon giorno!

I love the uncomplicated nature of Tuscan cooking. The Tuscans seems to have mastered the art of the simple rustic dish. DROWNED VEAL or VITELLO AFFOGATO is one such dish.  This recipe hails from the town of Arezzo. Using simple but precise and perfect ingredients, as described here, a splendid meal fit for a dinner party can be created in just a few minutes. The authentic preparation calls for veal, as the Italians just love to cook and create with this tender meat. However, you can just as easily use boned chicken breasts and have the same tender result that everyone will enjoy.

A little history:  There are many who credit the Tuscans, via Catherine de Medici, with teaching the French a thing or two in the kitchen. It is said that she introduced veal to the French among so many other culinary delights. But why did the French seem to surpass the Tuscans  – for a while – in terms of the entrée or meat course when so many famous dishes were born in this beautiful region of Tuscany? Actually, it had nothing to do with cooking – but had everything to do with diverted attention. In the Renaissance period, the Italians experienced a little attention deficit in regard to their fabulous dishes in favor of the “arts” – that is, art in general,  like sculpture and painting. Thus, we saw the rise of Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and others of note. With patrons like the Medici family devoting themselves and their resources to these artists, less emphasis was given to the great dishes of this region. You get the idea – the French took the proverbial ball and ran with it, while the Italians were busy creating other things – or so the story goes. In any case, the Tuscans had already laid the groundwork for some of the best and most famous dishes that we enjoy to this day – like the veal dish we study on this post.

OK! Let’s address the elephant in the room – the “drowned” reference. No we are not suggesting that you drown a calf for this recipe. However, we can probably attribute the name of this dish to the method of cooking it – low – slow – and swimming in a gorgeous sauce. Actually, if you hunt, you will find that Italians like to “drown” a number of things in the kitchen and give them the moniker “affogato”. (not necessarily a bad thing from my perspective!)


(Vitello Affogato)

Serves: 4

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: About 1 hour


3 Fresh Garlic Cloves

3 Tbsp. Olive oil

8 Veal Cutlets (Can substitute Chicken Breast) – pound thin

1/2 Cup Dry White Wine

1 Tbsp. Porcini Powder (optional)

1/2 lb. Sliced Wild Mushrooms – any combination

1 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme leaves – chopped

1 Tbsp. Fresh Sage Leaves – chopped

1 14 oz. Can Chopped tomatoes

1 Tsp. Tomato Paste

Salt and Pepper to taste.


Lightly saute garlic cloves in oil for just a minute

Brown veal cutlets in this same oil for just a few minutes – just brown quickly on each side.

Drowned Veal 1

Add the wine and porcini powder if using it and cook at a strong simmer for another minute.

Drowned Veal 2

Add the mushrooms, thyme, sage, tomatoes and paste.

Drowned Veal 3

Stir well to combine – then cover and simmer on low for about 45 minutes. The sauce should thicken. Add a little water if too thick.

Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed

Remove the garlic cloves before serving.

Garnish with fresh sage leaves.

Drowned Veal finish with script

VITELLO AFFOGATO is an elegant and authentic Tuscan veal dish that is easy to make and can be ready in a matter of minutes. Serve it with mashed potatoes or polenta! Adhering to my “thing” for regional Italian concentration, I like a wine from the region of Tuscany with this dish – Rosso di Montalcino is my choice – not as big as its cousin, Brunello or as “oaky” –  but really lovely with the veal and tomatoes.


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Agresto Sauce And Pork Braciole

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Agresto finish with Script

Buon giorno!

The Tuscans have a knack for getting some things right in the food department. Sometimes they “knock it right out of the park”. It is my view – that they certainly did it with AGRESTO SAUCE. This is a simple and rustic sauce that is made quickly with fresh ingredients in a blender or food processor. You can even make this wonderful sauce a couple of days ahead. It has a very different and pleasing flavor. You can liken it to pesto, but it is much more. It is richer and far more flavorful than pesto. When you taste it – you’ll notice that, as with wine, there is the immediate effect in your mouth – and then the finish – which leaves you actually wanting more.

This sauce has so many uses. See it here in a form of braciole using PORK TENDERLOIN BRACIOLE – stuffed with smoked mozzarella and arugula. But –  it is wonderful served on crostini as an appetizer and as a sauce for pork or veal chops, chicken, or game hens. It also can be a lovely condiment on soups and stews and also with risotto. Try it on a simple sliced tomato salad – divine! It is just one of those “miracle” sauces! As always, I prefer the heritage pork tenderloins from Circle B Ranch  – humanely raised and prepared. You just can’t beat them!

This sauce from Tuscany can be traced all the way back to the Middle Ages. Of course, not having our modern appliances, they used a mortar and pestle to crush the items involved. There is one ingredient that makes this sauce truly unique and gives it its special flavor. That is – grapes! Yes, grapes! Actually, the true Agresto is made with a juice extracted from grape “must” – called verjuice. This ingredient can be found in bottled form but is not common in the US. No worries though – you can make a form of it yourself that is quite good using seedless grapes, lemon juice, and white wine vinegar. This homemade example of verjuice is what I use, and it can be whipped up very quickly in your food processor. The resulting sauce is great – with the freshness of the ingredients plus a very slight sweetness from the grapes coming together to make an unusual sauce sensation that will be an immediate hit.



Makes: at least 2 cups

Prep: about 40 minutes

Cook: 20-25 minutes for pork

Ingredients for Sauce

1 Cup Seedless Green Grapes

Juice of a Large Fresh Lemon

1 Tbsp. White Wine Vinegar

3/4 Cup Toasted Walnuts (toast them lightly under broiler or fry pan)

1/2 cup Toasted Almonds

1 Fresh Garlic Clove

1 Cup Fresh Parsley

1 Cup Fresh Basil Leaves

2 Teaspoons Fresh Thyme or Lemon Thyme Leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/4 Cup Water


In a blender or food processor – Process the grapes, lemon juice, and vinegar and set aside.

Agresto 1

Agresto 2

Next place the nuts, garlic, parsley, basil, thyme, salt and pepper in the processor and process until finely chopped and combined.

Agresto 3

Agresto 4

Then process again while adding the Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a stream.

Agresto 5

Next add the juice previously made from the grapes and the water in a stream while processing or blending again.

Agresto 6

You can add a little more water if too thick  – taste and correct the seasoning if needed.

Cover tightly and refrigerate. This can be made a day or two ahead and will keep well for a few days in the refrigerator if tightly covered before it begins to darken and oxidize. Heat before using. If the sauce becomes to thick for you when ready to use it – just add a little more water, taste, and stir. The tasting is fun and one of the perks of making this great sauce!


This is a serving suggestion that is really great with the sauce.

There is enough sauce for a couple of pork tenderloins – 1.3 – 1.5 pounds each. You will probably have leftover sauce.

Butterfly them (or have your butcher do it) by slicing part of the way through and then again on each side to achieve an open and flat piece of meat. Pound it a little and drizzle with olive oil – Add Kosher salt.

Next add a handful of arugula and place down the middle of the meat followed by sticks or slices of Smoked Mozzarella – about 1/3 lb. per tenderloin. If you are unable to get the smoked version – use the regular fresh Mozzarella.

Agresto Pork 1

Tuck in each short end and then roll the tenderloin over onto itself like a jelly roll. Tie with string – as much as you need. Wrap in foil and refrigerate. You can do this a day ahead.

Agresto Pork 2

When ready to cook – place on an oiled pan and drizzle the meat with olive oil – add s & p. Top with some sprigs of fresh Rosemary.

Agresto Pork 3

Roast for 20-25 minutes in a 450 degree oven. Let sit for about 15 minutes before snipping off the strings and slicing into thick slices. Serve with the AGRESTO SAUCE.

This AGRESTO SAUCE WITH PORK BRACIOLE is truly a wonderful dish to serve. Not many of your guests will have experienced it, and you can have the pleasure of introducing them to a beautiful and interesting Tuscan sauce that absolutely everyone will love. Then have fun finding new and different ways to use this versatile sauce. For pairing: I like to serve this dish with a lovely Toscana or even a Dolcetto – nothing too heavy.


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Steak With Red Pepper Sauce

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Steak with Red Pepper Sauce finish with script

Buon giorno!

Steak or bistecca ,as the Italians call it, can be a rather routine pleasure…UNLESS it is complimented by something special which pairs so divinely with it as to make it pop with flavor. Fire up the coals!! STEAK WITH RED PEPPER SAUCE is just one of those dishes that perfectly illustrates this. Not only does the sauce “dress” the meat in a way that is lovely on the plate, but also, it lifts every bite with a flavor so well matched to the beef that it makes you wonder why you aren’t serving it this way all the time! This steak preparation will be a hit with your guests and family and also will win your heart because it is soooo easy!

The beef: You can use almost any steak cut you like for this, but I like the flatiron steak or, as it is also called, the shoulder top blade steak. It is not terribly expensive, and is well suited to the use of an overnight marinade with simple ingredients. I like to whack it a little with a mallet and pierce it some to help tenderize it. The marinade does the rest and gives it lovely added flavor without being the “star” and fighting with the magnificent sauce yet to come.

The sauce: I can’t say enough about this beautiful roasted red pepper sauce or the way it marries to the meat when served. The sauce can be made ahead and frozen or refrigerated. It is up to you whether you have the time or inclination to roast your own peppers. If you do, you can find an easy recipe HERE! The sauce becomes even easier when you use one of the good bottled varieties of roasted peppers available at the grocer. In this event, I like to use the jar of WHOLE peppers not the ones sliced or cut. Patting them dry is recommended.

Double down: This recipe can serve 4 but my strong recommendation is doubling the meat amount, as this stuff will fly off the plate.

The aftermath: Just pray that you have leftovers! The next day, the leftover sliced steak with the sauce makes amazing paninis and also contributes to the best steak and eggs you will ever enjoy.

Italians are famous for enjoying steak and peppers. However, this is an experience altogether different!


Serves: about 4

Prep: 45 minutes

Cook: about 15 minutes

1 Flatiron Steak (approx 1 3/4 lb.) or any type of steak you like


2 Cloves Fresh Garlic – sliced

3/4 Cup Olive Oil

1/4 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice

1 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves or Lemon Thyme Leaves

1 tsp. Dried Oregano

Plenty of Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

Pound the steak a little with a mallet or heavy object and pierce it with sharp end of mallet or a knife in several places.

Whisk above ingredients for marinade together and marinate steak several hours or preferably overnight, turning once during marinating.

Steak with Red Pepper Sauce - marinating

Discard the marinade and grill your steak to taste  – let rest 10 minutes – then slice to serve. Pour a little of the sauce on the meat as pictured or serve the sauce on the side—or both!


1 Cup Roasted Red Peppers (Look HERE to roast your own) or use whole roasted red peppers from jar drained and patted dry

1/2 Cup Almonds

1 Garlic Clove

Dash of Red Pepper Flakes

1 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice

1/4 Tsp. Dried Oregano

1 Tsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves or Lemon Thyme Leaves

1/8 Tsp. Sugar

3 Rounded Tbsp. Mayonnaise

2 Tbsp.Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Fresh Parsley for garnish

Place all above ingredients for sauce except the parsley into a blender, Vitamix, or food processor.

Red Pepper Sauce 1

Blend well until smooth.

Red Pepper Sauce 2

You can make this gorgeous red sauce ahead and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use. The recipe makes about 1 1/4 cups of sauce which is enough for 2 steaks.

Serve the sauce at room temperature with your sliced steak—or even lamb!

Make extra and look forward to leftovers for sandwiches, paninis, and a steak and eggs breakfast treat not to be believed.

Some say there is nothing better than steak and peppers… unless it is STEAK WITH RED PEPPER SAUCE! Steak served with this sauce is transformative. You will love it! This is one of those times, you might want to grab a bottle of the best Barolo you can afford and sit back and enjoy! A marriage made in heaven… or maybe in Italy!


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Pistachio and Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb

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Rack of Lamb 6 with script

Buon giorno!

With Italians, Easter is all about the lamb…unless you are a Calabrisi…Then it’s all about the lamb or the goat! That’s kind of the way it was growing up. We never knew quite what the main course would be until almost the last minute. But we always knew it would be lamb or goat. The reason for all the suspense was that my father, Attilio – the “high priest of the church of all things carnivore”  was in charge of procuring the meat. Good thing too – because, like his father before him, he simply knew everything about meat. Sometimes he could get a young goat – and sometimes it was the milk fed lamb. Whatever it was – we always knew it would be an event – succulent, perfectly cooked, flavored, and prepared with utter perfection by “numero uno” in our kitchen. Here, in honor of those bygone Easters, we step into the modern age with a simple Rack of Lamb – but not just any rack – a PISTACHIO AND HERB CRUSTED RACK OF LAMB. Just take a look at this recipe, and you’ll see how simple this is to prepare.  Attilio would approve of this choice, as all of his favorite flavors and seasonings for lamb, his perfectly chosen herbs, are present in this dish. Buona Pasqua, Pop!


Rack of Lamb with Herb and Pistachio Crust with script

Makes: one rack (2-3 servings)

Prep: about 15 minutes

Cook: about 25-30 minutes


1 Lamb Rack – 1 1/3-1 1/2 lb.

1/4 C. + 1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil for pesto and a little extra for drizzle

1 Large Clove Fresh Garlic cut in 3 pieces

1/4 C. Shelled Pistachios

1 Tsp. Lemon Zest

1 Tsp. Lemon Juice

1/2 C. Fresh Italian Parsley

2 Tbsp. Fresh Rosemary leaves

3 Tbsp. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste

Fresh Rosemary or Italian Parsley for garnish


Pat dry your rack of lamb.  If the rack is especially fatty, you might want to trim some off, but you DO want some fat on it to keep it moist and provide flavor.

Drizzle a little Extra Virgin on the underside of the lamb rack. Add salt and pepper to both sides of the rack.

Rack of lamb 3

In a blender or processor, pulse the following until a smooth paste is formed (the pesto!) – while adding the Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a stream:

pistachios, garlic, parsley, rosemary leaves, Parmigiano, lemon zest, and lemon juice

Rack of lamb - ingredientsRack  of lamb - paste

Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

Do this earlier in the morning and refrigerate: Press the pesto on the fat or rounded side of the rack. This will provide the crust. Now, get on with the rest of your day! So easy!

Rack of lamb 4

About 1/2 hour before you are ready to roast – Take the crusted rack out of the frig early and allow it to reach room temperature.

Roast the rack of lamb at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes – Then reduce your oven heat to 400 degrees and cook until it reaches your preferred level of “doneness”. For me this requires 10-15 minutes of roasting at 400. (internal temp around 145 degrees)  I like my lamb pink and juicy. For best results do not roast to well done – kind of a waste of good lamb.

This next step is important: Let the meat rest for about 15 minutes to reabsorb the juices.

Rack of lamb 5

Slice the rack into individual chops with a sharp knife or scissors.

Garnish with Fresh Rosemary or Parsley and drizzle with the loveliest Extra Virgin you can find!

Rack of lamb 8 with script

Don’t just wait for Easter to make this fabulous PISTACHIO AND HERB CRUSTED RACK OF LAMB.  Hey! Make two racks – The leftovers are to die for. Looking for a perfect wine pairing? Look no further than a beautiful Toscana for this one – medium bodied and not to heavy on the tannins.


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Braised Lamb Shanks with Chianti

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Lamb Shanks in the Slow Cooker –

Shanks finish 1 with script

Buon giorno!

Italians are known for their amazing lamb dishes. It was no stranger at our Italian table when I was growing up. My mother and father prepared lamb for the family in so many ways – the whole baby lamb or leg at Easter, on skewers marinated, and in braised stews. The lamb shank is an easy and most delicious way to serve lamb and is not often thought of as a first choice of lamb cuts. It certainly should be – as with a long slow braise, the shank is one of the most flavor filled and tender cuts one can choose to serve. I simply love BRAISED LAMB SHANKS WITH CHIANTI! You just won’t believe how easy they are to make in the slow cooker with most of the work being done for you while you.. well.. do something else!

The Shank: With the bone in – the lamb shank is packed with so much flavor. Of course, any meat next to the bone is going to be rich in flavor, but don’t forget that marrow—that soft tiny center of the bone where miracles occur. The miracle? Endless flavor of course! Whether you are Italian, and a fan of eating marrow in many recipes or not, the marrow provides an additional flavor source and is prized by Italian cooks. Often you’ll find it suggested on its own as an additional ingredient in other recipes, such as Risotto Milanese.

The Braise: Braising is a beautiful method of preparing meats which require longer cooking times. It begins with browning the meat quickly and simply in a pan – removing the meat – and adding ingredients (vegetables, wine, and sometimes broth or stock) to create an interesting sauce. The meat is added back in and the rest of the work is done in the oven or on top of the stove low and slow.

The Slow Cooker: Braising is one of those cooking methods that lends itself perfectly to using the Slow Cooker. You begin by browning your lamb shanks, then quickly adding some vegetables. Everything goes into the Slow Cooker at this point – letting it be your work horse – after adding some lovely Chianti and a couple of other ingredients. Walk away for a few hours and come back to an aromatic feast!

The bite! Just watch the expressions on the faces of your guests as they take their first taste! The lamb is melt in your mouth tender, and the sauce is .. drop in your tracks delicious!! (Sorry, it just seemed appropriate.) Yes it’s THAT good!



Serves: 2

Prep: about 15 minutes

Cook in Slow Cooker: 6-7 hours


Cook in the oven: about 3 hours


2 Lamb Shanks (each about 1 1/4 lb)

Flour for dredging

1/4 C. Olive Oil

2 Stalks Celery – chopped small

12 Baby Carrots – chopped small

4 Cloves Fresh Garlic – chopped finely

1 onion – chopped small

1 1/2 C. Chianti ( I like the Classico)

4 Cups Beef Broth

1 Bay Leaf

1 Cinnamon Stick

2 Large Whole Fresh Thyme Sprigs

1-2 Fresh Rosemary Sprigs


You can cut your shanks in half or leave whole – up to you.

Dredge the shanks in the flour.

Brown them quickly in the oil in a large pan or pot. Then remove them to a plate.

Shanks 1

In the same pan, add the chopped celery, carrots, garlic, and onion. Cook them, stirring a few times, for a couple of minutes.

Shanks 2

Pour the vegetables into the slow cooker and top with the browned shanks.

Shanks 3

Add the Chianti and the broth, followed by the Bay Leaf, Cinnamon stick, thyme and rosemary sprigs.

Shanks 4

Cover and Cook slowly on low for 6-7 hours until meat is very tender. Time will depend on your cooker.

If you do not wish to use the Slow Cooker – after cooking the vegetables, proceed with the above directions for adding your ingredients and cover and cook in a 350 oven for about 3 hours or until meat is very tender.

Remove the shanks and set aside. Now skim the fat off the top and discard it.

Blend your sauce in the blender or with an Immersion Blender. It will thicken.

TIP: An easy way to remove the fat is to refrigerated it and wait for it to congeal. The fat lifts off easily as a solid.

Serve your BRAISED LAMB SHANKS WITH CHIANTI  over polenta or over the large pearl couscous (sometimes called Israeli Couscous) as in the photo. Of course, the best pairing for this dish is Chianti Classico.

ANOTHER TIP: Use the luscious leftover sauce as a sauce for pasta!


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January: Porchetta

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Porchetta finish with glaze with script

Buon giorno!

New Year’s Day is one for treading softly and speaking in muted tones in deference to those who might not be able to process shouting from the rooftops after a night of too much.. well.. everything. Since I am not the type of celebrator who needs coddling on this day – I may get a little, shall we say, enthusiastic in tone here , so you may want to protect your tender ears for a moment. Actually, I can’t shout loudly enough about this one and my family would back me up on my exuberance for this recipe. PORCHETTA is a divine dish to serve and enjoy. It makes a beautiful presentation for not a lot of effort — just a little time!

What is PORCHETTA exactly? This is an Italian rolled boneless pork preparation which in its purest form requires a HUGE process which includes gutting the pig, rolling, stuffing, spicing, and covering with belly fat etc and accompanied by a long roasting time.  It is a most flavorful preparation and makes absolutely incredible sandwiches.

Origins? The region of Lazio, where Rome is located, is given credit for the beginnings of this amazing pork preparation. However, you can easily find PORCHETTA in most other regions of Italy with variations depending upon area.

Are we REALLY going to gut a pig?? Uh, no!

My PORCHETTA is much easier. In fact, you will love making and serving this one so much, it will become a regular favorite for you, your family, and your amazed guests! This makes a spectacular holiday dish or one for a special dinner party.

I love using pork tenderloins from Circle B Ranch – humanely raised natural Berkshire Pork. They ship and there really is a difference in their extraordinary pork products – so much flavor – just the right amount of fat.

Let’s get to the pig!


Makes: about 8 thickly cut slices usually serving 4

Prep: 40 minutes

Cook: about 30 minutes


One 1-1 1/3 lb. Pork Tenderloin, patted dry with paper towels

Kosher Salt and Fresh Pepper

1 lb. Loose Italian Sausage (out of the casings) and browned in a pan

1 8 oz. Jar Fig Jam or Preserves (found often in the cheese section) or Apricot Preserves

1 Jar Roasted Red Peppers ( or roast your own), patted dry with paper towels

Whole fresh Basil leaves

8 oz. Fresh or Smoked Mozzarella, sliced thinly

Good quality bacon

Butcher’s twine or string

Fresh stalks of Rosemary

Saba or Balsamic Glaze for drizzling to serve


Porchetta 1

Begin by butterflying your pork tenderloin with a sharp knife. This is easier than you think, but if you must – ask your butcher to do it for you. To butterfly, slide your knife through the meat vertically down the side about 1/2 way through – not all the way. Open the meat so you now see the inside.Then take your knife and make another vertical cut all the way down the side of the meat on one of the thick sides not all the way through. You will actually watch the meat open up further. Repeat this again until the meat is fully opened and about 1/2 inch thick.

Then using a meat mallet or heavy can of tomatoes, pound the meat so it is thin and flatter.

Porchetta 3

Salt and pepper the inside. Then spread the inside with the fig preserves.

Porchetta 4

Line the inside over the preserves with the Basil Leaves.

Porchetta 5

Follow with the cooked sausage that has been drained and patted a little after browning.

Porchetta 2

Add the roasted peppers.

Porchetta 6

Then add the slices of mozzarella.

Porchetta 7

Now with the meat in front of you horizontally, carefully roll it forward onto itself, pushing the stuffing in with your fingers until it is completely rolled. It takes usually just one or two rolls as it is pretty full. Tuck in the two ends to try to cover the stuffing.

Porchetta rolled

Cover the roll with bacon slices, tucking the extra underneath.

Porchetta 9

Cut several lengths of the string – about 8 inches each. Taking one string at a time, slide it under the roll and tie it at several intervals down the roll. You can even do one long vertical tie at the end to secure it.(Can refrigerate several hours)

Porchetta 11

Place stalks of rosemary over the top of the roll and place it in an oiled pan in a 450 degree oven.

Porchetta 13

Cook until a meat thermometer registers about 150 degrees. (The time depends on your oven – approximately 30 minutes) Remove from oven and let it rest about 15 minutes. Cut the strings off the roll and discard them.

Porchetta finish without glaze with script

Slice the roll thickly and serve one or two slices to each person, drizzled with Saba or Balsamic Glaze. (Saba is a wonderful Balsamic-like liquid made totally from grapes reduced to “must”. It is valued much like a long aged Balsamic Vinegar and used in much the same way.)

You might want to make two and freeze one!


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September: Meatballs

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Don’t Mess With the Meatballs!

Meatball finish with script

Buon giorno!

So I am finally getting around to the simplest example of Italian cooking –  MEATBALLS. I like to call them the “Scarlet Pimpernell” of Italian cuisine – you remember: “ they seek him here, they seek him there… that damned elusive Pimpernell”. Meatballs are pretty much everywhere, but are rather elusive as it’s hard to find a really good one. Everyone has a recipe. People go to amazing lengths to jazz them up – complicate them – put their singular stamp on them. Truth is – there is no need to go to such lengths and most of them fail.

My trusty author-friend, Marcia Mayo (now Guiendon), a word wizard, and I were talking about meatballs at dinner the other night. I told her that for such a very simple thing, it was amazing how often they are bastardized especially by the American public in an effort to “get cute”  – be different – fill them full of things  etc. I said I should write about this. Agreeing, she recommended that I call my blog post “Don’t Mess With the Meatballs!”  So here we are – for all the folks who have asked for them.

In my life experience, the very finest meatballs were found right in my mother, Loretta’s, kitchen. If she were here, she would undoubtedly repeat one of her favorite lines, “Don’t be stupid!” She would not think the subject worthy of my time writing about it as they are so easy, so simple, that they couldn’t be such a big deal. Although, if she had any of the meatballs I have had lately, she might get it.

Loretta made her meatballs so simply and never by recipe. I watched her so many times, I have lost count. She always used the same few ingredients and counseled me in the same way on a couple of tips:

1. Always use an even mixture of ground beef chuck, pork, and veal.

2. Use your clean hands to mix the ingredients.

3.Don’t overwork the meat – don’t over mix as it toughens the meatball. Just pull the ingredients together gently and roll.

4. Always use fresh garlic and fresh Italian parsley.

5. Use fresh breadcrumbs – preferably from Italian bread at least a day old.

6. Wet your hands to roll the balls.

7. Fry them for best flavor and moistness.

I highly recommend the old KISS Method for meatballs. You know: “keep it simple stupid!” It just doesn’t get any easier.

If looking for a good Sunday Sauce for these meatballs – try my PORK RAGU!

Loretta, this one’s for you!


Makes: 14-15 Large meatballs

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 8-10 minutes


2 lb. Ground beef, pork, and veal in fairly equal parts

2 C. Fresh Breadcrumbs

2 Cloves Fresh Garlic chopped finely

1/3 C. Chopped Fresh Italian Parsley

2/3 C. Grated Cheese: Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino, or Aged Provolone

1 Tsp. Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

2 Eggs

If you are Sicilian – 1/4 C. Currants – Loretta would NOT like this!

Olive Oil for frying


See the meatball tips above in the text!!

If you can’t find the mix of ground meats, ask any butcher to grind it for you. It is traditionally the mixture for good meatloaf.

Make your own breadcrumbs by putting the bread in the food processor or blender and pulse to create the breadcrumbs.

Add to the meat mixture, the breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, grated cheese, salt and pepper and mix together with your hands. ( Add the currants if using) Don’t over mix – just pull it together. Over mixing toughens the meat.

Meatballs 1

Crack two eggs and add to the mixture. Mix together gently with your clean hands – just to moisten.

Meatballs 2

Clean your hands and wet them to roll the meatballs. Repeat wetting them if needed. You can roll any size you need – large or small for soup or lasagna.

Meatballs 3

Now you can fry them in olive oil as I recommend or bake them at 350 degrees. If you fry – they will be more moist. If you bake, be careful not to over cook as they will be hard – not more than 12 minutes – then finish in sauce.

Meatballs 5

For frying – brown them on all sides. Keep them moving in the oil for just a few minutes (about 6 min. depending on the heat) and then place them in your sauce to cook completely. If you want to – after browning you can bake them at 350 for about 5 minutes but you don’t have to if using them in sauce. You can also freeze them.

MEATBALLS are the Italians’ gift to the world. If kept simple and unembellished, they are heavenly. Try my recipe for Pork Ragu – the Sunday Sauce for finishing your meatballs. Open a lovely Chianti Classico to enjoy with them.


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Pork Tenderloin with Peach Composta

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Peach Sauce finish 2 with script

Buon giorno!

Anyone familiar with the Italian culture of cooking or has grown up, as I have, in an Italian home, knows how Italians value pork. More than any other meat, this is always mentioned in Italian cookbooks and the old traditional recipes. Italians just love their pork!

A couple of piggies from my father’s hometown – Casale, Italy!

Pigs - Casale

It seems fitting to talk about using up some of those amazing peaches in the markets right now and maybe to “marry” some of them to a delicious and easy cut of pork – thus PORK TENDERLOIN WITH PEACH COMPOSTA!

How can you miss? Cook your pork tenderloin in your favorite way – roast or grill. Reminder not to “over dress” or over flavor your pork as you don’t want it to fight with the composta and to also let the peaches “shine”. Remember that pork tenderloin does not have a lot of flavor on its own because of the lack of fat. Ride to the rescue with the Peach Composta – by creating a delicious and tangy peach concoction that is sweet and gives that usually tasteless lean pork cut a kick!

This sauce or composta is so easy to make. Aside from serving it with pork, it gives an amazing lift to grilled veal chops or chicken as well.

As always – I depend on the best in Heritage pork for all of my pork dishes – and that is –  pork cuts from Circle B Ranch Where you get your meat is so important. The pork from Circle B is superior in tenderness and flavor reflecting how the pigs are raised. As my mother, Loretta, used to say referring to upbringing – “They were just raised right!”

Let’s hop to it! Andiamo!


Serves: about 4

Prep: 15 minutes for sauce

Cook: about 15 minutes for sauce



1 1/2 lb. Pork Tenderloin

Fresh Garlic for rubbing

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper


2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

2 Shallots, chopped finely

2 Large Fresh Peaches, peeled chopped in cubes – can use an extra peach if you like

1 Tbsp. Brown Sugar

1 Tsp. Dijon Mustard

Pinch of Allspice

Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes

1/2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar

1/8 C. Water

1/2 C. Dry White Wine

1 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Basil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Capers for garnish



Rub the pork tenderloin all over with a cut side of a piece of fresh garlic.

Drizzle all sides with a little olive oil.

Salt and Pepper all sides of pork.

Roast or grill the pork as you usually like. (Roast at about 450 for 15-20 minutes approx. Grill time will depend on how hot your grill is.

Make sauce ahead or while pork cooks.

Roast or grill your pork tenderloin.

Let the meat rest about 10-15 minutes to retain the juices before slicing.


Cook the shallots in oil for about a minute.

Peach Sauce 1

Add the peaches, brown sugar, mustard, red pepper, vinegar, allspice.

Cook about 2 minutes.

Peach Sauce 2

Add the water and wine, basil, salt and pepper.

Cook another few minutes on medium. You want the mixture to cook down and thicken a bit.

Peaches b

Taste for seasoning and adjust – remembering that salt is key here. You want enough in there to bring out all the flavors.

Slice the pork thickly. It should be slightly pink in the center – not overcooked! Let the meat swim with the peaches in the beautiful sea of composta!

Although some characterize pork as a white meat, it has enough “heft” to go with a good light or even medium bodied red. It is most often what I personally serve with this dish. Serve this PORK TENDERLOIN WITH PEACH COMPOSTA  with a lovely Valpolicella  or Dolcetto and you can’t go wrong.

This recipe also makes interesting pork sliders, paninis, or sandwiches with the delicious peach sauce. Veal chops “love” this preparation as well.


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June: Cocoa Ribs

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Cocoa Ribs finish 1 with script

Buon giorno!

Growing up in my Italian family, ribs were not part of the summer grilling repertoire. Spare ribs were reserved for making sauce and flavoring soups, beans, or minestra. After living in the South for more years than I lived as a “Yankee, ribs have crept into our barbeques over time – but not without a little Italian influence here and there from some special ingredients. We now look forward to ribs every summer – both beef and pork – but mostly pork. After making them for years, I think it’s time to share. Here they are – so good you’ll have trouble not biting into your fingers! The COCOA RIBS!

The best ribs: The best pork ribs I have used are from Circle B Ranch. They provide only the very best Heritage Pork products, humanely raised. OK – so that’s a good thing – but how do they taste? I wouldn’t be using their products again and again if they weren’t superior in flavor. Their ribs are terrific – lean and meaty with just the right amount of fat. I mean really! Just look at them! Visit their site, and give them a try!

What’s with the cocoa?? I can only say – you’ll see!! Remember these words – deep  – dark – rich – and mahogany…

These ribs can be made indoors or grilled outdoors – which means even if you don’t grill – you do not have to be deprived of them. I provide the instructions for cooking the ribs totally indoors, partially indoors with a quick char on the grill, and totally outdoors with smoke from wood chips. Although I prefer them cooked over the wood chips, I have made these all three ways, and they are still wonderful. If you use wood chips, apple, pecan, and cherry wood are good choices. But – if you like more pronounced flavor – you can always go with hickory.

For ease and convenience, you can prepare the rub and the sauce ahead, if you like, making the actual “rib day” an easy slide. I like to keep some of this rub in a sealed container in the pantry at all times, so I can quickly access some for grilling pork tenderloin, chicken, and brisket. Because it is a dry rub, it will last quite a while. I usually make the sauce a day or two ahead, although leftover sauce will serve you well for several days after you make it.

TIPRemember that these ribs are to be mostly cooked with the dry rub with the sauce reserved for the last few minutes of cooking – just to get that nice shine on them. Putting the sauce on too early causes them to burn and blacken. Then you serve the sauce on the side for dipping the ribs as you eat them. This is definitely the way to go!!

So andiamo – let’s fire up the grill and get that wood smoking.


Makes: about 3-4 racks of ribs

(pork or beef – I prefer baby backs)

Prep: 40 minutes

The Rub:


3 Tbsp. Chili Powder

4 Tbsp. Cocoa

1/3 c. Brown Sugar

¼ tsp. Cayenne Pepper

1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder

Salt and pepper


You can mix the rub ahead if you like.

Mix above ingredients together.

Cocoa Ribs 1

Rub the dry mixture all over your rib racks – both sides – a few hours before cooking.

Cocoa Ribs 3

Outdoor cooking: Cook the ribs on the grill over smoking wood chips until done, brushing them with the Sauce on both sides in the last few minutes of cooking. If you lather on the sauce early, the ribs will char too much. Just a a little sauce is necessary towards the end.The remaining sauce is used for dipping the ribs as you eat them. NOTE: These ribs are so much better grilled or smoked over wood chips!


For Indoor Cooking: Tent with foil and bake in the oven at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Carefully open the foil and turn the rack over. Cover again with the foil and bake another 15 minutes at same temperature.

The ribs are now essentially cooked. Brush them with sauce on both sides. Now pop them under the broiler on both sides.


For the Partial Indoor/Outdoor Combo Method: After the tent baking indoors, they just need a quick char on the grill. Brush them on both sides with the sauce, and place on the grill with cover down. Should take just about 3 minutes – check them – you don’t want them black. If they have the desired char – turn them over – close grill again for another 3 minutes or more if needed.

Cocoa Ribs finish 2 with script


Remove from grill – cut with scissors into individual ribs. Serve with a side of sauce for dipping the ribs.

The Sauce:


3 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Large Clove Garlic – finely chopped

2 c. Ketchup

1 c. Chicken Broth

4 Tbsp. Soy Sauce

1/3 c. Brown Sugar

3 Tbsp. Molasses

4 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar

1 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder (sift for fewer lumps)

1/8 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

2 Tbsp. Fresh Chopped Oregano


In a saucepan, cook chopped garlic in oil for a minute. Do not burn garlic. Then add the remaining ingredients.

Make sure to crush the lumps of cocoa powder against the side of the pot with the back of spoon to be sure they are fully incorporated in the sauce. Sifting the cocoa powder helps with this.

Cocoa Ribs 2

Simmer all for about 15-20 minutes until sauce reduces and is thickened. You can make this a day or 2 ahead. Keep in refrigerator and reheat before serving. The sauce lasts several days and you can just keep using the leftovers.

Do not taste for seasoning until the sauce is completely cooked and thickened. The flavors will blend and change during the cooking.

This sauce is great leftover for grilling chicken, pork, or beef brisket!

When you serve COCOA RIBS, you’ll want to pray to the Guardian Angel of leftovers that he/she grants you some. They are amazing the next day. You need no reminders to get the cold beers ready –But for a vino rosso – perhaps a Syrah or Linda’s favorite with barbeque – a good BARBERA!


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May: Peperonata Steak

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Steak peperonata with script

Buon giorno!

So patio season ( my favorite time of year) begins again in most places, and our thoughts turn to outdoor dining, sometimes lighter foods, and grilling. One of the best and most economical of grilling options, in my view, is my PEPERONATA STEAK.

I love eating and serving this as it is so easy, doesn’t break the bank, and everyone thinks they are having something special—and they would be right! I use flatiron steak for this dish. After whacking it a little with a mallet, I let it sit in olive oil and rosemary for a few hours or over night, and it never disappoints. It turns a not so special cut of meat into a tender juicy grilled delight.

About the meat: The flatiron steak is similar in appearance to flank steak, but I think is generally more tender. It is a shoulder cut as opposed to a stomach cut like flank steak which in my experience has been hit or miss. This steak does not take much cooking but when grilled properly produces a very tender result especially when sliced thinly across the grain. This dish makes a great presentation and steak lovers will be very happy with it. It also makes great leftover sandwiches, paninis, or steak salad the next day.! As with most beef – the flavor comes with what you do with it in the way of other ingredients. In this case, it is the peppers!

About peperonata: This is mainly Sicilian, but you will find some form of it in other areas of Italy. It is the brightest, most beautiful, array of peppers you will ever serve. The colors are so vivid and the flavor packs an amazing punch. It has many uses. Did I say easy?  Yes it is easy. No roasting involved. It is mainly a mixture of onions and peppers cooked on top of the stove. I usually make it earlier in the day and cover it until just before serving when all it will need is a warming. Pour this stuff over your meat and WOW! For Italians who may remember – it is perfect for those pepper and scrambled egg sandwiches we all remember from growing up. All in all, so much flavor – so much visual – you can’t lose!


Serves 4

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: about 20-25 minutes total


1 1/2 lb. Flatiron steak (sizes vary – this is approximate)

Olive Oil – enough to coat both sides of steak

2 Fresh Garlic Cloves – sliced

3 Tbsp. Fresh Rosemary Leaves

Kosher Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

4 Whole Peppers – one of each color: green, yellow, orange, and red – sliced and cleaned of seeds and pith

1 Whole Sweet Onion – sliced

Splash of water

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

3 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce

Kosher Salt and pepper to taste


Pound both sides of the steak with the sharp pointed side of a meat mallet. If you don’t have one, just take a steak knife and pierce the steak in several places on both sides.

Marinate several hours or overnight in olive oil to coat the steak – sliced fresh garlic – Rosemary Leaves – and sprinkle both sides with Kosher Salt and black pepper.

You can cook the peppers a few hours ahead if you like.

Slice the peppers thinly and remove seeds and pith. Place them in a large pan with the sliced onion, water, olive oil, Worcestershire, and salt and pepper to taste.

Cook covered about 6 minutes at medium high. Remove cover and continue to cook at same heat, stirring occasionally until the peppers and onions are tender – takes about 10-15 minutes total cooking time.

You can be the judge of how tender you like them. Set them aside, covered, until ready to serve. Then heat through before serving.

For the steak – you’ll want a VERY hot grill. Sear both sides well for about 3 minutes on each side or until you get some good grill marks –  then cook for just a few more minutes on low – until desired doneness.

When your steak is ready – let it sit about 10 minutes at least without cutting into it so that the meat juices reabsorb.

Slice the meat very thinly against the grain with a sharp knife or electric knife. Arrange on platter and pour your peppers over the top or down the middle.

PEPERONATA STEAK is worthy of a great Cabernet Sauvignon – or your favorite full bodied vino rosso. If you are feeling especially fancy – get out that beautiful Barolo you have been saving! Meet you on the patio!



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Scaloppine With Artichoke Hearts

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Chicken Scaloppine with Artichokes finish with script

Buon giorno!

I once had a friend whose parameters for doing anything were as follows: “easy, cheap, and close by”. SCALOPPINE WITH ARTICHOKE HEARTS is a dish that would meet all of his criteria. It is easy to make, not expensive if you use chicken, and everything required is obtainable at your neighborhood market. What’s not to love here?

The easy:  The making of this dish can be done inside about 30 minutes if you have all of your ingredients handy. There is nothing mysterious or difficult about the preparation – a few minutes of chop and add – and a very few minutes of cooking time. You can slice your scallops thinly yourself with a sharp knife or have your favorite butcher do it for you. Fact is – you will not spend hours in the kitchen preparing this dish. Go ahead – spend the day on the golf course, at the spa, walking your dog, whatever. Your guests will NEVER KNOW!

The cheap: This recipe is great with either veal or chicken breasts. Of course, the veal is more expensive. However, the chicken breasts are not pricey. Grocers are always running specials on them. This is the cheap ticket!

The close by: All of the required ingredients are easy to find. Whether you go the veal route or the economical chicken path, your scallops are a short distance away at your local grocer. No obscure cuts or types of meat are required. The artichokes are up to you – if the baby fresh ones are in season, they would always be a good choice. No need to fret about that though – as the canned artichoke hearts – are just fine as long as you rinse and drain them. Any dry white wine or dry vermouth is great. You get the idea!

Italian “scaloppine” is also sometimes referred to as scaloppini. It is derived from the French escalope, referring to thin slices of meat. Scaloppine has not really been around that long. Most agree that this idea dates back to the late 19th century.

Fortunately, you do not have to have been around that long to create a good one. Let’s do this!


Serves: 4

Prep: 5-10 minutes

Cook: 20-25 minutes


1 3/4 –2 lb. Thin Scallops of Veal or Chicken Breast

1 Garlic Clove – thinly cut in 3-4 slices

2 C. Quartered Artichoke Hearts – if canned, rinse and drain

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Tbsp. Butter

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 C. Dry White Wine or Dry Vermouth

3/4 C. Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Asiago Cheese

1 1/2 C. Heavy Cream – warmed

Fresh Chopped Italian Parsley for garnish


Sprinkle your veal or chicken scallops with salt and pepper on both sides.

Chicken Scaloppine with Artichokes 1

Prepare your artichoke hearts – cleaning and trimming if fresh and rinse and drain if canned.

Chicken Scaloppine with Artichokes 2

Melt butter in the oil in a pan. Use a large fry pan with wide surface exposed to the heat.

Add the Garlic Slices and a cook a minute turning the garlic. Then remove the garlic and discard it.

Chicken Scaloppine with Artichokes 3

Add the meat and cook on medium until browned on both sides.

Add the artichoke hearts and wine. Cook on medium high until liquid reduces down – about 10 minutes.

Chicken Scaloppine with Artichokes 4

(Actually, if you decided not to use the cream and cheese, you might just add a little fresh lemon juice at this point and serve.)

Add the warmed cream and cheese. Stir and combine well, and correct the seasoning if needed.

Chicken Scaloppine with Artichokes 5

Remove from heat and garnish with fresh parsley.

This SCALOPPINE WITH ARTICHOKE HEARTS can be served over capellini, spaghetti, or even risotto, if you like.



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Chianti Short Ribs Hash

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Short Ribs finish with script

Buon giorno!

Everyone loves the ever popular hash and eggs. Well, here is an Italian twist on that popular brunch or lunch dish that so many of us crave – CHIANTI SHORT RIBS HASH! I am an old “hash slinger” from way back, and I can’t begin to describe how good this is. You absolutely MUST try it!

This dish is amazingly flavorful on its own or with the obligatory egg on top. Either way – it’s a hit! The Chianti permeates the meat and gives it deep flavor. It is very simple to make and can be enjoyed for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner.

One nice thing about this dish is that you can prepare the short ribs ahead and put it together quickly and easily when you are ready to eat. The short ribs meat and sauce can even be frozen. This simplifies the whole preparation process.

Your choice: You can choose to braise them in a pan on top of the stove, or you can use your slow cooker! (about 4 hours at High or 6 hours at Low in the Slow Cooker – watch your liquid – add more if it becomes too dry)

A word about the sauce: These short ribs make a densely flavored sauce which enables you to get two meals from it for the price and work of one!  You use a small amount of the finished sauce in the hash which leaves plenty of sauce for another day – a perfect amount for a pound of your favorite pasta!

It is obvious that you would enjoy a good Chianti with this dish as it contains a good bit of it in the prep. I highly recommend a good Chianti Classico with this. Even a Riserva with its oaky essence would stand well with the ribs. However, the nice surprise is that a good full bodied beer is also a good pick to go along side of this delicious hash.

Round up your family and friends and have a go at this one! You will LOVE it!


Serves: 6

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 3 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients for Ribs

2 Tbsp. Oil

2 lb. Short Ribs

Salt and Pepper

1/4 C. Chopped Pancetta

1 Onion – chopped

8 Baby Carrots – chopped

2 Stalks Celery – chopped

2 Cloves Fresh Garlic – chopped

2 Cups Chianti

3 Cups Water

2 Tbsp. Tomato Paste (dissolved in the wine or water)

1 Slice Orange Peel (cut off the pith or white portion)

1 Bay Leaf

1 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves

2 Tbsp. Fresh Rosemary Leaves

3 Fresh Sage Leaves

1/4 Tsp. Allspice

1/2 Tsp. Sugar

Instructions for Ribs

Salt and pepper your short ribs and brown them in the oil. Remove the browned ribs to a plate and proceed in the same pan.

Short Ribs 2

Cook the chopped pancetta in the pan for about 3 minutes.

Short Ribs 3

Then add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic to the pan and cook about 5 minutes more at medium high.

Short Ribs 4

At this point if you decide to use your slow cooker, you can pour the ingredients in the cooker and finish the cooking there.

Add the wine, water, tomato paste dissolved in the wine or water, orange peel, bay leaf, herbs, allspice, and sugar.

Short Ribs 5

Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a good simmer and slowly cook the ribs, uncovered for about 3 hours or until the meat is very tender and almost falling off the bones. Remove and discard the bay leaf and orange peel.

Remove the ribs to a platter and remove the meat using 2 forks to shred it like you would do for pork barbeque. You can also use a knife and fork and cut it in little pieces. Discard the bones. Skim extra fat off the top of the remaining sauce.

Short Ribs 6

Using an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor – your choice – blend the sauce liquid. You will see that it almost immediately thickens and changes to a “bronzey” orange color as you see in the photo. Add Salt and Pepper to taste, and reserve your sauce and your meat separately until ready to make your hash. You can make the ribs and sauce ahead or freeze them if you like.

Short Ribs 7

Ingredients for the hash

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Large peeled Potato cooked to firm but fork tender and diced

1 Medium Sweet Potato peeled and cooked to firm but fork tender and diced

1/2 Large Onion – chopped

1/2 Green Pepper chopped

1/2 Red Pepper chopped

Salt and Pepper to taste

1/3 Cup Reserved Sauce from the Short Ribs

All of the shredded or chopped Short Ribs meat

A fried egg for each dish and grated cheese to serve

Instructions for the hash

In a non-stick pan cook the onion and peppers in the oil until tender – about 8 minutes.

Short Ribs 8

Add the chopped potatoes and sweet potatoes.

Salt and pepper to taste and toss a minute in the pan.

Then add the meat and the sauce and toss gently until combined and heated through. You can add more sauce if you like, but you don’t want to make this “saucy”. The sauce basically just adds flavor to the hash.

Short Ribs 10

Short Ribs 11

Top each portion with a fried egg and serve with grated cheese.

This dish is obviously great served with a lovely Chianti Classico or Riserva – but try it with a good beer as well!

Enjoy your remaining sauce from the CHIANTI SHORT RIBS HASH with pasta on another day! You’ll thank me later!


Comments are welcome in the “Speak Your Mind Area” beneath this post online.



Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography


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Sausage and Lentil Stew

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Sausage and Lentil Stew with script

  Buon giorno!

When the winter wind blows, we all look for heartier dishes that will help to warm us up. We used to call them “stick to your ribs” foods! SAUSAGE AND LENTIL STEW is one of those recipes that will warm you inside and out. Italians love their lentils (lenticchie), and it is obvious that sausage is an important ingredient to them as well. When you put them together, the result is a dish that was meant to be.


This SAUSAGE AND LENTIL STEW is actually pretty healthy for you. It is filled with ingredients that add to your overall nutrition including fresh spinach!

What makes this one special? If your desire is for a soup – you can add more water to it and there it is! I like it as a stew because I tend to get tired of soups after a while during a hard winter. In particular, as much as I like it, lentil soup gets “old”. This stew will liven things up a little. Unlike many others, this one comes together quickly and does not require a long cook time. It is actually what I like to call, an Italian chili! It is thick, rich, and is truly very “chili-like”! You can add as much heat as you like, depending on your taste. A versatile dish, you can make it vegetarian, if you like. During a recent storm, we relied on it for several days and actually looked forward to the repeat performance every night at dinner time.

This is one you’ll want in your winter arsenal!


Serves: 4-6

Prep: about 15 minutes

Cook: about 30 minutes


1 Chopped Large Onion

2 Cloves Fresh Garlic – chopped

1/4 C. Chopped Pancetta (Tip:easier to chop if partially frozen!)

1 Yellow Pepper Chopped ( Use any color  of pepper you like)

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil

4 links sliced Italian Sausage – I like a combination of sweet (mild) and hot

1/4 Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes

2 1/2 Cups Cooked Lentils

1  28 oz. Can Whole Tomatoes including liquid– crushed with clean hands – you get a better consistency this way

3/4 C. Water

2 Tbsp. Fresh Chopped Basil

3 –4 Cups Fresh Baby Spinach

2 Cups Cooked Rice

Salt and Pepper to taste


Cook the first 4 ingredients in the olive Oil about 5 minutes at medium high heat to soften.

Add the sausage and cook at medium high for about 8 minutes.

Then add: cooked lentils, red pepper flakes, tomatoes, water, basil, and spinach.

Cook about 4 minutes.

Then add the cooked rice and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to your liking.

DONE! Can this SAUSAGE AND LENTIL STEW get any easier?? It certainly can’t get any tastier. Serve with an Italian beer or a bottle of vino rosso. You and your gang will love this one!



Comments are welcome in the “Speak Your Mind Area” beneath this post online.



Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography


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