Arugula Salad with Shaved Parmigiano Cheese and Lemon Vinaigrette

  • I love the simplicity of this earthy salad, the combination of peppery arugula, nutty Parmigiano cheese and bright lemon citrus are perfect together

    I love the simplicity of this earthy salad, the combination of peppery arugula, nutty Parmigiano cheese and bright lemon citrus are perfect together

 

  1. Make the vinaigrette by combining the lemon juice with the salt and pepper in the bottom of your salad bowl.
  2. Add the oil mixing well with a fork or a whisk to combine.
  3. Add the arugula to the bowl with the vinaigrette, toss well to dress the greens and then add the shaved strips of cheese to the greens and toss gently.
  4. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

 

 

Pasta Puttanesca

Rumor has it that in Rome, ladies of the night who were voraciously hungry after a long night on the job, would come home and prepare pasta using staples always on hand in the pantry. This pasta dish, which is lusty and full of bold flavors, was named for the ladies. It is one of my favorites.

Rumor has it that in Rome, ladies of the night who were voraciously hungry after a long night on the job, would come home and prepare pasta using staples always on hand in the pantry. This pasta dish, which is lusty and full of bold flavors, was named for the ladies. It is one of my favorites.

  • 1 pound imported dried Penne
  • Extra virgin olive oil to coat bottom of pan
  • 1 can whole tomatoes, San Marzano if available
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped finely
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • Dried crushed red peppers to taste
  • 1 oil packed anchovy (optional but authentic and delicious)
  • 2 tablespoons small whole capers in brine (drained) or chopped large capers
  • ¼ cup good quality black olives, pitted & chopped
  • 3 tablespoons salt plus additional for seasoning
  • Liberal amounts of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped italian parsley, plus additional for garnish
  • ¼ cup grated pecorino romano cheese
  1. Boil a large stockpot full of water for pasta, while preparing sauce.
  2. Heat olive oil in another large saucepan on medium heat.  Add onion and saute for one minute, stirring. Add garlic, red pepper (if using) and anchovy and continue to saute for several minutes until anchovy starts to dissolve. (do not allow vegetables to brown, but to look translucent).
  3. Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands as they are added to the pot.  Add capers, olives and black pepper.  Increase heat to medium high heat and boil sauce for eight to ten minutes to reduce and thicken.
  4. Add 3 tablespoons of salt to pasta water.  Prepare pasta according to directions minus 2 – 3 minutes, until slightly underdone.  Drain pasta very well, reserving ¾ cup of pasta cooking water.
  5. Add drained pasta to pot of sauce gradually, mixing and adding reserved water as needed, to help moisten and bind the sauce together with the pasta, tossing as you add more pasta and water, until all of pasta has been added to sauce.
  6. Garnish with cheese and chopped parsley, serving immediately.

 

Serves 2-3 as entree, 4 as first course

photo by Kristi Senat

Spinach with Garlic, Raisins and Pine Nuts

Traditionally Sicilian, this dish is earthy with greens and a perfect balance of sweet and savory, I love it warm or at room temperature as part of an Italian style buffet

Traditionally Sicilian, this dish is earthy with greens and a perfect balance of sweet and savory, I love it warm or at room temperature as part of an Italian style buffet

 

  • 2- 10 oz packages fresh spinach or 4 bunches fresh leaf spinach
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • ½ cup raisins, plumped in hot water for 10 minutes
  • ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • Salt & fresh pepper to taste

 

    1. Wash spinach thoroughly in several changes of water, drain well
    2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan.  Add garlic and saute for several minutes, until slightly golden.  Do not brown garlic as it will be bitter!
    3. Add spinach, raisins, salt & pepper and saute until spinach is wilted.  Add pine nuts, toss and taste for seasoning adding additional salt and pepper if necessary.
    4. Serve immediately or may be served at room temperature.

 

Serves 4

Apple Crisp

 

This is a classic, simple dessert that fills the house with the aromatic and fruity scent of apples, cinnamon & butter.  I like to serve the crisp warm with a large dollop of crème fraiche.

 

  • 6 – 8 baking apples peeled, cored and sliced   (I use Granny Smith or Golden Delicious)
  • 1 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 ½ cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish or pan.
  2. Combine apples, cinnamon, white sugar, ½ cup of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons flour.  Toss well and pour mixture into baking dish.
  3. Combine remaining flour, remaining brown sugar, oats, salt and ¾ of butter in a medium sized bowl.  Using 2 knives, a pastry blender or your fingers, blend ingredients until they look like coarse crumbs, working quickly to keep butter cold.  Pour mixture over apples.  Dot remaining butter on top of crisp.
  4. Bake crisp for approximately 50 minutes, or until bubbly and brown and apples are tender inside when pierced by a knife.  Allow to stand for at least 15 minutes before serving.  May be served warm or at room temperature.
Serves 6

Black Bean Dip

 

Black beans make a dramatic, dark colored dip that pops with flavor from lime, jalapeno and cilantro.  Make this a day or two ahead of your party and bring to room temperature prior to serving

  • 2-15 oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed, peeled & chopped
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and diced finely
  • 1 small red pepper, seeded and diced finely
  • Minced, seeded Jalapeno pepper, to taste (optional)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 TBS sherry vinegar
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt to taste
  • 2 TBS chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 2-3 TBS cold water

 

  1. Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan on medium high heat.  Sauté garlic, onion and pepper(s) with cumin, until translucent.
  2. Transfer sautéed vegetables to a food processor fitted with the steel blade along with black beans, lime juice, sherry vinegar and salt.  Process until smooth, tasting for seasoning.
  3. For a Summer, no cook version, add vegetables raw to beans before processing.
  4. Add water to thin and additional salt, if necessary.
  5. Transfer to a bowl, drizzle w/ oil and garnish with cilantro.
  6. Serve warm or at room temperature, with tortilla chips and/or crudités as a dip.

 

 

Grilled Red Snapper with Mango Salsa

Red Snapper is a delicious, mild, sweet and moist fish – perfect for grilling and topping with the fresh and spicy mango  salsa

For the mango salsa
  • 2 cups peeled, diced, ripe mango
  • 3 plum tomatoes, cored and diced
  • 1 yellow or orange pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion (rinsed in a strainer in cold water 2x and drained)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Minced jalapeno or serrano pepper to taste
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Taste for seasoning.

Can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated, bring to room temperature before serving

For the snapper

  • 4 – 6 oz red snpper filets
  • Salt and fresh black pepper to taste
  1.  Preheat a gas grill to medium high.  Oil the racks very well.
  2. Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper, liberally.
  3. Grill the fish without turning for approximately 5-6 minutes until fish is just opaque in the center.
  4. Remove fish carefully from grill and place on a serving platter.
  5. Top fish with salsa and serve immediately.
Serves 4

Seared Romaine Hearts with Lemon and Parmigiano Cheese

Craving a salad in mid Winter, I dreamed up this warm sort of version of a Caesar”ish” salad. It is missing anchovies and garlic, but is strong on the lemon Parmigiano component. Pan searing the romaine gives it a sweet, nutty flavor that I adore

Craving a salad in mid Winter, I dreamed up this warm sort of version of a Caesar”ish” salad. It is missing anchovies and garlic, but is strong on the lemon Parmigiano component. Pan searing the romaine gives it a sweet, nutty flavor that I adore

  • 1 large head of romaine lettuce, washed, dried and trimmed slightly, leaving core in tact and sliced in half horizontally through the core
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1/8 cup freshly grated Reggiano Parmigiano cheese (use a microplane)

 

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy cast iron pan on medium heat until hot, but not smoking.
  2. Season the Romaine with salt and pepper and place it cut side down in the hot pan.  Allow lettuce to cook for several minutes until it is starting to brown well on the cut side.
  3. Flip the Romaine halves onto the opposite side and allow to cook until it begins to get a nice nutty brown color.  Continue cooking and flipping, until the lettuce starts to wilt, turn golden brown and become tender.  You can check doneness by color and also by piercing the core with the tip of a sharp knife.  It is done when the knife slips in easily without resistance.
  4. Transfer Romaine to a serving platter, pour the lemon juice over the cut side evenly and sprinkle the cheese directly onto the hot Romaine, which will start to melt on contact.
  5. Serve immediately.
Serve 2

Chocolate Pots de Crème

This is clearly one of the most ridiculously simple, decadent chocolate desserts of all time. It can be prepared in about 5 minutes (plus refrigeration time) and served in decorative glasses for a fabulous dessert while entertaining or as an every day treat during the week. I like to use small, demitasse type glasses, as you only need a few bites of this rich, chocolatey dessert.

This is clearly one of the most ridiculously simple, decadent chocolate desserts of all time. It can be prepared in about 5 minutes (plus refrigeration time) and served in decorative glasses for a fabulous dessert while entertaining or as an every day treat during the week. I like to use small, demitasse type glasses, as you only need a few bites of this rich, chocolatey dessert.

  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 tbs orange liquor
  • 1 cup of very warm, bordering on hot, half & half
  • pinch salt
  1. Add the chocolate chips, eggs, orange liquor, and salt to a blender container.
  2. Blend on high for about 60 seconds and carefully add the hot cream through the removable cap in the top of the blender.
  3. Continue to blend the mixture on high for another 30 – 60 seconds until the mixture is completely combined, scraping the sides down.
  4. Transfer contents of the blender to serving glasses/containers and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight, covered.

 

Serves 6

Grapefruit Ginger Margarita

This smooth and spicy, lovely pink colored margarita features reposado tequila which is aged in wood barrels, sometimes charred to impart a rich and complex flavor and ginger, both freshly sliced ginger root and Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur  mixed with fresh pink grapefruit juice, a fabulous combination and twist on the traditional margarita

This smooth and spicy, lovely pink colored margarita features reposado tequila which is aged in wood barrels, sometimes charred to impart a rich and complex flavor and ginger, both freshly sliced ginger root and Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur mixed with fresh pink grapefruit juice, a fabulous combination and twist on the traditional margarita

  • 1.5 oz reposado tequila
  • ¾ oz ginger liquor such as canton
  • 2 oz freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 3 thin slices of fresh ginger root, each approximately 1/4″ thick
  • Grapefruit rind for garnish

 

  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a shaker glass filled ith ice and shake very well until ingredients are extremely chilled.
  2. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with grapefruit rind.
  3. Drink while icy cold.
Makes 1 Cocktail

Scallop Ceviche with Orange, Mango and Mint

 

Delicate and flavorful, this preparation is the perfect treatment for ultra fresh, diver scallops

Delicate and flavorful, this preparation is the perfect treatment for ultra fresh, diver scallops

  • 6 Large sushi quality sea scallops (specify diver, dry if available)
  • 2 Limes, juiced
  • 1 Juice orange, juiced
  • ½ Ripe mango, peeled and diced in very small dice
  • 1 TBS finely minced scallion
  • ½ Jalapeno, finely minced to taste
  • 3 Fresh mint leaves, sliced in julienne
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Salmon Caviar for garnish (optional)

 

  1. Using a large chefs knife, slice scallops horizontally into 4 even slices.
  2. Transfer scallop slices to a large shallow platter with sides or a flat, shallow plastic Tupperware tub. Cover scallops and refrigerate while preparing marinating ingredients.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, combine lime juice, orange juice, mango, scallion, jalapeno and salt to taste.
  4. Pour marinating sauce mixture over scallops, almost covering them and refrigerate for 1 – 3 hours.
  5. Remove scallops from marinating liquid, reserving liquid. Arrange scallops on a serving platter and garnish with some of the marinating liquid and mango to moisten, salt to taste, and julienned mint.  Garnish platter with optional salmon caviar.  Serve immediately.
Serves 4