Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Fruit


Risotto is a hearty, warming rice dish, rich in flavor, of which any of a hundred different ingredients can be added to it. Risotto is not only versatile, but easy to make.

Rice was first introduced into Italy and Spain by the Arabs during the Middle Ages. The humidity of the Mediterranean was found to be perfect for growing shorter-grained rice. The popularity of rice grew throughout Italy and then the outside world discovered it.

It was in Milan where the rice met its future destiny. Milan had been under Spanish rule for almost two centuries where rice was a staple. The technique for making risotto probably evolved from trying to cook the rice as porridge—boiling it in milk, water or broth until soft. A fourteenth-century manuscript known as the “Libro per cuoco” by an anonymous Venetian contains the recipe, “rixo in bona manera” or rice cooked in sweet milk.

Antonio Nebbia in “Cuoco Maceratese” introduces a revolutionary method where he suggests letting the rice soak in cold water for two hours, then frying the rice in a little butter and adding cabbage broth.

A more complete preparation appears in the early 19th century, in the anonymous “Cuoco Moderno”, printed in Milan in 1809, where the recipe “Yellow Rice in a Pan” says to cook the rice in a sauté of butter, cervellata (an Italian pork sausage), marrow, onion and gradually adding hot broth in whicj saffron had been dissolved.

And finally” the” classic recipe as described by Felice Luraschi, a celebrated chef from Milan, in his “Nuovo cuoco milanese economico” manuscript of 1829, a recipe titled “Risotto alla Milanese”.

Today the dish is served extensively, almost unchanged, in the kitchens and restaurants of the world. Ingredients as varied as scallops, lobster, truffles, veal, mushrooms, squid ink, snails, asparagus, duck, sausage, pumpkin and almost anything else you can think of are paired with this classic dish.

risotto rice

All rice is a member of the grass family. What makes Risotto special is it’s high amount of starch. This starch is what makes Risotto “creamy” without any cream. Risotto rice is a round medium- or short- grain white rice with the ability to absorb liquids and to release starch, so they are stickier than the long grain varieties. The principal varieties used in Italy are Arborio, Baldo, Carnaroli, Maratelli, Padano, Roma and Vialone Nano. They all have slightly different properties. For example, Carnaroli is less likely than Vialone Nano to get overcooked, but the latter, being smaller, cooks faster and absorbs condiments better. Other varieties like Roma, Baldo, Ribe and Originario may be used but will not have the creaminess of the traditional dish. These varieties are considered better for soups and other non-risotto rice dishes and for making sweet rice desserts. Rice designations of Superfino, Semifino and Fino refer to the size and shape (specifically the length and the narrowness) of the grains, and not the quality.

Basic Technique for Making Risotto

Risotto recipes recommended not washing the rice prior to cooking as that will make it lose its starch which is an essential ingredient of the dish. The rice and vegetables are toasted lightly in butter. Herbs, spices and a little wine are added. The rice is cooked gradually over a low flame and broth is added to the rice and stirred until absorbed. More broth is added in several steps until the rice is tender.

Popular Italian Risottos

• Risotto alla Milanese – is cooked in beef stock and beef bone marrow with lard in Italy. Cheese and saffron are added. This dish is popularly served with osso buco (a dish consisting of braised veal shanks).

• Risotto al barolo – is made with borlotti beans and sausage meat and is cooked with red wine.

• Risotto al nero de seppia (black risotto) – is a specialty from Veneto and is made with cuttlefish.


This is probably the best tasting risotto I have ever made, with much of the credit going to the Meyer lemons from my tree. You may recall that we planted the tree last April and it has rewarded us with about 20 large lemons in its first year.

Meyer Lemon Risotto with Basil and Grilled Shrimp

6 servings



  • 6 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice (10 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup white vermouth or dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated Meyer lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup julienned basil leaves

Grilled Shrimp

  • 18 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • A pinch of kosher salt or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons julienned basil leaves



For the risotto:

Bring the stock to a boil in a medium saucepan, cover and keep hot. Melt the butter in a second large saucepan. Add the onion and celery. Season with salt and pepper and cook over low heat, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the rice and cook, stirring until glossy, about 1 minute.


Add the wine to the rice and simmer over moderate heat until almost absorbed, about 3 minutes. Add the hot stock, 1 cup at a time, and cook, stirring constantly between additions, until most of the stock has been absorbed before adding more. The rice is done when it’s tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes total. The best way to see if the rice is cooked, is to taste it.  Risotto should be creamy and thick. It’s best al dente, which means it should be fully cooked, yet still retain some firmness when you chew it. If it is mushy, it has cooked too long.

Stir in the Parmesan cheese, the lemon zest and juice, the salt and pepper and the basil. Mix well but gently.


For the grilled shrimp:

Mix the shrimp with the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl. Refrigerate until cooking time.

Heat a stovetop grill until very hot. Place the shrimp on the grill and cook for about 3 minutes on each side.

Spoon the risotto into individual bowls, top each with grilled shrimp and serve, passing additional Parmesan at the table.



With the weather getting cooler in many parts of the country, we may find ourselves entertaining friends for dinner rather than hosting casual, warm weather BBQs. There are so many good choices in the fall for your menu that it is difficult to know where to begin. Chicken is always a good choice but for a dinner party,  the chicken recipe should be something a little different; something your guests may not have had before – just to keep things interesting. Choose vegetables in season, a side of potatoes, noodles or rice and a great appetizer.

Please find below one of my fall dinner party menu suggestions and the recipes to go with it.

Entertaining Menu

Antipasto Stromboli

Wine: Pinot Grigio or Prosecco

Vinegar Braised Chicken with Pappardelle Noodles

Olive Oil Braised Broccoli Rabe

Wine: Barbera from Emilia-Romagna or a Chianti from Tuscany

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti and Cherry Pistachio Biscotti

Fresh Fruit


First Course


Antipasto Stromboli


  • 2 (one pound) pizza dough balls, at room temperature
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 pound thinly sliced Genoa Salami
  • 1/4 Pound thinly sliced Pepperoni
  • 1/2 pound thinly sliced Provolone Cheese
  • 1/2 cup sliced pickled cherry peppers
  • 1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. and line two baking sheets with parchment.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the dough balls to a 15 x 10 inch rectangle. Brush the dough lightly with olive oil.

Use half the meat, cheese and peppers, and cover the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border.


Roll the dough up into a log and brush the seam edges with beaten egg.

Leaving the seam at the bottom and pinching the ends closed, place the roll on one of the baking sheets. Complete the other roll in the same manner.

Brush the rolls with the beaten egg mixture and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool 10 minutes before slicing.

Second Course


Vinegar-Braised Chicken


  • 8-10 pieces of chicken – combination of bone-in breasts cut in half if large and thighs (skin on or off; your choice)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Flour
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch scallions (green onions), sliced thin
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 8 oz pappardelle noodles


Preheat the oven to 425°F and position a rack in the upper third.

Coat the chicken in flour and season generously with salt and pepper.

In a Dutch Oven or large ovenproof skillet heat half of the butter and half of the oil. Add half the chicken, skin side up, and cook over high heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Turn and cook the chicken for 1 minute. Remove to a large platter. Repeat with the remaining butter, oil and chicken. When brown place on the platter with the first batch of chicken.

Add the scallions and garlic to the skillet and cook until the onions begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the broth and vinegar and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the chicken on top, skin side up and roast for about 25 minutes, until it is cooked through.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pappardelle and cook until the al dente stage. Drain. Place the noodles on a large serving platter.

Place the Dutch Oven on top of the the stove and transfer the chicken with a slotted spoon to the  platter with the noodles, arranging the chicken attractively over the noodles.

Bring the mixture in the pot to a boil over high heat and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add a little of the sauce to the sour cream, mix well and whisk the sour cream into the mixture in the pot. Simmer until the sauce is hot and slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Do not boil or the sour cream will curdle. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.


Olive-Oil-Braised Broccoli Rabe

Look for broccoli rabe with vibrant green leaves and plump stems.

Serves 8


  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • 2 bunches (1 1/4 pounds each) broccoli rabe, trimmed and cut crosswise into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon julienned lemon zest, plus fresh lemon juice for serving
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock


Heat the oil and garlic in a large straight-sided skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until garlic is sizzling and aromatic, but not browned, about 2 minutes.

Add the broccoli rabe, zest and 3/4 teaspoon salt, then use tongs to toss and coat in oil. Add the stock and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until broccoli rabe is tender, 7 to 10 minutes.

Transfer contents of pan (including liquid) to a serving bowl. Grind pepper over top and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.

Dessert Course


Cherry Pistachio Biscotti

Makes about 36 biscotti


  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted pistachio nuts
  • 1 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, plus 1 egg, lightly beaten, for brushing the tops of the dough
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract


Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Reserve one baking sheet for later when you bake the biscotti slices.

Place pistachios in a single layer on a third baking sheet and toast the nuts in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until just golden. Remove the nuts from the pan and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, mix toasted pistachios, cherries, sugars, baking powder and flour.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs and vanilla extract until well blended. Add to the flour mixture. Stir a few times.

Work the batter together with lightly floured hands. The mixture will be sticky, but persevere. Keep squeezing the batter with your hands, until a dough starts to form. Once the dough is firm, form a ball. Divide the ball into 2 equal pieces.

On a lightly floured surface, place one piece of dough and, using your hands, roll into a log shape that is approximately 8 inches long and 2 inches wide. If it’s sticky, simply dust your palms with more flour. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough. Place the two logs on one baking sheet. Brush the loaves all over with 1 lightly beaten egg.

Bake for 40 minutes, turning the pan around halfway through, or until the tops of the loaves are shiny and deep golden. Cool on a rack for about 20 minutes before slicing.

Place a loaf on a cutting board. Using a large serrated knife, cut 1/2-inch-thick slices, either straight or on the diagonal. Use a sawing motion to prevent crumbling. If the cookie is crumbling, then let it cool a few more minutes. Don’t let it rest too long, however, or it could become too hard to slice.

Place slices on their sides on the baking sheets. Reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees F and bake the biscotti for 20 minutes, until toasted and crisp. Turn the biscotti slices over and rotate the pans after ten minutes.

Remove the pans from the oven and cool the biscotti completely before storing in an airtight container.

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

Makes about 36 biscotti (3/4-inch-wide cookies)


  • 1 1/2 cups toasted hazelnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons espresso powder
  • 4 large eggs, plus 1 egg, lightly beaten, for brushing the tops of the dough
  • 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur


Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Reserve one baking sheet for later when you bake the biscotti slices.

Place hazelnuts in a single layer on a third baking sheet and toast the nuts in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until just golden. Remove the nuts from the pan and set aside to cool. Chop the nuts into large pieces.

In a large bowl, mix toasted hazelnuts, chocolate chips, sugars, baking powder, cocoa, flour, cinnamon and espresso powder.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs and coffee liqueur. Add to the flour mixture. Stir a few times.

Work the batter together with lightly floured hands. The mixture will be sticky, but persevere. Keep squeezing the batter with your hands, until a dough starts to form. Once the dough is firm, form a ball. Divide the ball into 2 equal pieces.

On a lightly floured surface, place one piece of dough and, using your hands, roll into a log shape that is approximately 8 inches long and 2 inches wide. If it’s sticky, simply dust your palms with more flour. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough. Place the two logs on one baking sheet. Brush loaves all over with 1 lightly beaten egg.

Bake for 40 minutes, turning the pan around halfway through, or until the tops of the loaves are shiny and deep golden. Cool on a rack for about 20 minutes before slicing.

Place a loaf on a cutting board. Using a large serrated knife, cut 1/2-inch-thick slices, either straight or on the diagonal. Use a sawing motion to prevent crumbling. If the cookie is crumbling, then let it cool a few more minutes. Don’t let it rest too long, however, or it could become too hard to slice.

Place slices on their sides on the baking sheets. Reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees F and bake the biscotti for 20 minutes, until toasted and crisp. Turn the biscotti slices over and rotate the pans after ten minutes.

Remove the pans from the oven and cool the biscotti completely before storing in an airtight container.


The province of Caserta is in the Campania region of Italy located 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Naples. It is an important agricultural, commercial and industrial area. The Roccamonfina Regional Park is the location of an extinct volcano whose eruptions shaped this region long ago. It is an ideal habitat for the chestnut forests, vineyards and olive groves that are found in the area.


Festivals and fairs that marry both the sacred and the pagan recall the history, culture and traditions of Caserta Province – in particular, the Sagra delle Pallottole, a food festival held every year in San Leucio. The event features a historic procession in which participants wear traditional clothing and the local women prepare and serve potato croquettes. Exhibits, events, concerts and the famous float parade all enliven the streets in celebration of one of the most colorful times of the year, Carnevale.


The cuisine of Caserta is made of simple recipes using local products.


Buffalo mozzarella is produced with craftsmanship in this province. It is often made into different shapes: round, braided, knotted or small balls. The water buffalo milk is also used to make butter and other cheeses such as, burrino, burrata, smoked provola and fresh or dried ricotta. Salaprese is a sheep’s milk cheese that is not matured but eaten right after having absorbed the salt. It tastes fresh and sweet, with a strong hint of sheep’s milk.


Local farms supply meat used to prepare cold cuts such as capicollo, prosciutto di Monte, pancetta tesa and the filet, Vairano Patenora. The province is also famous for its salsiccia, a sausage seasoned in special terra-cotta vases.

The Campanella artichoke, porcini mushroom, the many varieties of apple, the golden plum and the chestnut are all delicacies that distinguish the local cuisine.

Desserts consist of honey and walnut biscuits; pigne are glazed sweets and a pastry called serpentone that is stuffed with honey and walnuts.

The wine list is long as well and includes Asprinio di Aversa, Falerno del Massico and Galluccio, all labeled DOC.

Culinary Specialties of Caserta


Mozzarella di Bufala Salad



  • Buffalo mozzarella (1 large ball for every 2 servings)
  • Breadcrumbs
  • All purpose flour
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Mixed salad greens


  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 small chili pepper
  • Handful of basil leaves, plus extra for garnish


Make the sauce first.

Grill the red pepper, turning it often until it starts to char evenly on all sides. When cool enough to handle, peel away the skin, cut open the pepper and clean out the seeds and any pulp. Cut the flesh into smaller pieces and place in a food processor along with the oil, chili pepper, garlic, basil, salt and mascarpone. Process until smooth. Taste and correct for salt. Place in the refrigerator to thicken while you prepare the other ingredients. Remove the sauce about 5 minutes before serving and give it a good stir.

Tip: You can make the sauce in advance to save time. It will keep for a few days. If you want a thicker sauce, leave out the olive oil.

Prep the mozzarella.  

Set out a plate for flour and another for the breadcrumbs. Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl. Drain the mozzarella and slice each ball in half. Gently pat both sides of the slices dry with a paper towel. Dredge each piece of cheese in the flour, then the egg and then the breadcrumbs, making sure to cover the cheese entirely; set aside on waxed paper. Repeat until all the cheese is breaded. Depending on how many cheeses you are using, you may need more breading ingredients.

You can serve all the cheese on one platter with the salad or as individually plated servings. Arrange the salad greens accordingly.

Heat the olive oil. You want at least an inch of cooking oil, so use a small pan and fry the cheese in batches. Gently slide the slices into the oil. They are ready to turn over after about 3 minutes, or when the bottom has turned golden brown and firm. Gently turn them and cook for another 3 minutes. When golden and crunchy on all sides, transfer the cheese to paper towels to drain and lightly salt them.

Let them cool slightly, but be sure to serve them warm-hot. You can also slice them in half. Drizzle the pepper cream sauce directly over the cheese and garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Linguine with Colatura di Alici and Erbe di Campo



  • 1 lb (500 gr) linguine
  • 1 ½ lbs (700 gr) wild greens or broccoli rabe
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon colatura di alici (Italian anchovy sauce)
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes


Wash and clean the broccoli rabe and cut them into 2-inch pieces; set aside.

In a large pan, sauté the garlic in the olive oil until lightly golden, add the broccoli and season with salt. Cook over medium heat until the broccoli is tender, then remove the pan from the heat.

Place a pot of salted water on the stove and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the pan with the broccoli. Toss the mixture over low heat, add the colatura and chili; toss again to coat the pasta evenly.

Add a couple of ladles of pasta cooking water to create a creamier sauce. Serve hot.

Salt Cod Baked in Spicy Tomato Sauce



  • 2 pounds (900 g) thick salt cod fillets
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (chili)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cans (each 12 ounces; 340 g) Italian plum tomatoes, pureed
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • All-purpose flour for dredging
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper


Salt cod must be soaked overnight before cooking to remove the salt. Place it in a bowl with cold water to cover and soak for 24 hours, changing the water three or four times.

If you’re in a hurry, try the quick-soak method. Rinse the cod under cold running water for 15 minutes. Place it in a pan with cold water to cover and gradually bring to a boil. Drain the fish and rinse in cold water. Repeat the boiling and rinsing process two or three times.

Cut the cod into 4 x 1 1/2-inch (10 X 4-cm) pieces, then pat dry with paper towels and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).

Sauté the garlic in the olive oil until golden. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the hot pepper flakes and parsley. Stir, then replace the skillet on the stove. Add the tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper and oregano. Simmer 5 minutes and set aside. Remove and discard the garlic.

Heat the vegetable oil in another skillet over moderate heat. When a cube of bread browns in about 1 minute, the oil is ready for frying. Flour the cod fillets lightly and fry until golden on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

Arrange the cod fillets in a bake-and-serve dish and cover with the tomato sauce. Bake for 20 minutes.

Limoncello Sorbet Cups



  • 2 cups water
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup limoncello
  • Lemon zest from two lemons
  • 1 pinch salt
  • Lemon cups (1 hollowed out lemon  per serving)


Bring the water and sugar just to a boil in a sauce pan, stirring frequently, until you have a thick, clear syrup. Turn off the heat and let cool.

Transfer the syrup to a bowl and add the lemon juice, lemon zest, limoncello and salt. Stir well and transfer to a ceramic baking dish or plastic container, cover and freeze for at least 3 hours.

Check the sorbet periodically and move it around with a fork. When ready, scrape the sorbet with a fork; then use an ice cream scoop to serve.

To make the lemon cups:

Slice ¾ of an inch off the stem side of the lemons. Using a paring knife and teaspoon, carefully cut and scoop out the lemon pulp. Do this over a bowl so you can save the juice. Slice about ¼ inch from the bottom of the lemons, so they will stand.

Freeze the cups along with the sorbet. When the sorbet is ready, fill the cups and place them back in the freezer until serving. You can make a batch of several sorbet cups in advance.



The best way to get the freshest fish available is to simply ask. Ask your local market what’s fresh today? This will sometimes require being flexible about the kind of fish you cook. Fresh fish always tastes better. The freshest fish will smell of the sea (briny) but not fishy; the gills should be bright and moist; the meat firm and springy; and the scales should not be dull or flake off easily.

Fish come in three basic varieties:

  • White fish — cod, grouper, sole and haddock, etc. These fish have translucent skin that turns an opalescent white when cooked. This type of fish is good for sauteing and baking.
  • Meaty fish — salmon, trout, tuna and sardines, among others. Meaty fish are oilier and thicker than other varieties and contain good oils (omega 3 fatty acids). They are often grilled.
  • Shellfish — lobster, shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, mussels and oysters. Shellfish can be cooked almost any way and served hot or cold.

Resist the temptation to cook fish until it flakes. Fish is done when the color turns from translucent to opaque (white) or has reached 140°F on an instant read thermometer, otherwise, you run the risk of overcooking it.

If you buy fresh seafood, use it the same day or freeze it immediately. If frozen, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, never on the kitchen counter. Rinse fish in cold water, drain and pat dry with paper towels.

Almond-Crusted Fish


Serves: 4


  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped green pimento-stuffed olives
  • 1/4 cup chopped 
fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped 
drained capers
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Four 5-oz skinless white fish fillets (cod, grouper, catfish, sea bass, halibut, grouper, haddock, snapper, etc.)  about ¾ inch thick
  • 1 large egg white, 
lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup sliced unsalted almonds


In a medium bowl, combine the minced onion, olives, parsley, capers, vinegar and the 2 tablespoons olive oil; set aside.

Brush the top (skinless side) of the fish with egg white. Press almonds evenly over the top of the fish.

In a very large skillet on medium, heat the remaining 4 teaspoons of oil. Add the fish, crusted side down and cook until the almonds are toasted, 
2 to 3 minutes. Carefully turn the fish with a wide spatula and continue cooking until the fish is cooked through, 
3 to 4 minutes.

Remove the fish to a serving platter and spoon the olive mixture on top.

Parchment-Baked Fish


Serves: 1


  • One 6-oz fish fillet
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 thin slices red onion
  • 1/2 small fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
  • 4 Kalamata, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper (chili) flakes, or to taste
  • 2 large sprigs rosemary


Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Tear off 1 piece of parchment to form a square large enough to enclose the fish. Place the parchment on a baking dish and place the fish in the center of the square. Drizzle with oil, then rub in the garlic and season with black pepper. Sprinkle sun-dried tomatoes over the top.

Arrange onion slices over the fish and top with the fennel and olives. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and lay rosemary sprigs on either side of the fish, tucking them firmly against the fish.

Grasp the top and bottom edges of the paper parallel to the work surface and bring them together up over the fish, pinching together at the top. Fold over by about 1 inch, then continue folding down, leaving about 1/2 inch of space above the fish to allow for steam. Fold each side toward center until about 1/4 inch from fish.

Place the baking dish in the oven and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the  thickness of the fish. Remove the baking dish from the oven and place the pouch on a serving dish or plate. Carefully unfold parchment to allow steam to escape and serve immediately.

Fish Florentine


Serves 2


  • Two 5-oz fish fillets
  • 5 grape tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian-leaf parsley
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 large shallots, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 oz. baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the fish and the tomatoes in a glass baking dish. Sprinkle garlic and parsley over the top and squeeze the lemon juice over the fish. Cover with foil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the fish is opaque and registers 140°F on an instant read thermometer.

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, sauté shallots in oil for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium and add the spinach, cooking until wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the feta cheese and heat until melted and evenly distributed.

To serve, place 3/4 cup of the spinach-feta mixture on each plate and place 1 fillet and half the tomatoes on top of each serving.

Poached Fish In Tomato Sauce


4 servings


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
  • One 14.5-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Four 5-oz. skinless cod, bass, flounder, etc. fish fillets


Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and Aleppo pepper and cook, stirring often (garlic should not brown), about 2 minutes.

Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you add them, wine, bay leaves, saffron and ½ cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, 5 minutes; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Reduce heat to medium-low; season fish with salt and pepper and place in the skillet with the poaching liquid. Cover and cook at a bare simmer until fish is opaque throughout, about 5–7 minutes and the fish registers 140°F on an instant read thermometer. (Thicker pieces will take longer to cook).

Gently transfer fish to individual shallow bowls and spoon poaching liquid over.

Fish Baked in Phyllo Pastry


This recipe makes a great entree for company.

Serves 6


  • Six 5 ounce fish fillets
  • 4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 4 ounces crab meat
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • 12 sheets phyllo pastry
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Hot sauce to taste


In a mixing bowl gently combine the crab, cream cheese, onion, parsley, salt, pepper and a few shakes of hot sauce.

Divide the stuffing evenly on top of each fillet and pat it flat with a spatula.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and brown the fish fillets on the side without the stuffing.

Remove 2 sheets of phyllo pastry from the roll and cut them in half. Lightly brush each piece with melted butter and stack them together.

Place a fish fillet on top of the phyllo layer and fold the pastry over the fish so it is completely covered and the edges are sealed.

Repeat the process with the remaining 5 fish fillets and pastry. Place the fish packets on a platter and refrigerate until it is time to cook them.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and bake 20-25 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden.


Adding just a splash of white wine to a pan of littleneck clams being simmered in butter, garlic, shallots and cream. Shallow dof, focus on the wine and clams in the front.

Adding wine to your favorite recipe can add wonderful flavor—but too much or the wrong style wine can also ruin the taste of the dish. Wine contains sugars, acids and tannins and each of these tastes may be noticeable in your finished recipe.

A very dry wine has very few natural sugars remaining and is usually higher in alcohol. In contrast, the sweeter wines contain a larger amount of natural sugar from the grapes.

Acid is a term used to describe both red and white wines and it refers to the sharp bite in the wine (much like you would experience with lemon juice or vinegar). Acid can help bring out the natural flavors in a mild food, such as fish (this is why fish is often served with a wedge of lemon). To maintain a balance, check your recipe for acidic ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar and cut back to make room for the acid in the wine.

Tannins are generally found in red wines and refers to the bitter element in the wine (similar to the bitterness you’ll find in a strong cup of tea). The tannins in red wine pair well with strongly flavored dishes and hearty foods, like steak.

Red or White?

Use the type of wine in the recipe that you would serve with the dish you are making. Unless you’re serving a rare or expensive wine, buy an extra bottle and use it in the recipe.

Generally, it’s thought that a light-flavored wine goes best with delicately flavored foods. It would follow that a bold-tasting wine might do well in a boldly flavored dish. For example, a dish heavily spiced usually needs a full-bodied red wine to stand up to it. One with a light or creamy sauce calls for a drier, light white wine.

When you’re making a red wine reduction sauce, watch out for the wine’s tannins, as they can become harsh in this type of recipe.

Read the bottle to find out what flavors are present in the wine, then you can be sure that it will work well with the same flavors in your recipe. The most important thing to remember is that if you like drinking it, you’ll like the flavor that it will add to your food. For deeper flavors, experiment with fortified wines like Port, Sherry, Madeira and Marsala.

Here are some recipes that use wine in a variety of ways.

Mussels in White Wine


Serves 4


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 pounds mussels, de-bearded, scrubbed
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • Italian country-style bread (for serving)


Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until it begins to darken, about 2 minutes. Add wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is slightly reduced, about 1 minute.

Add mussels and 1/2 cup water to the pot, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mussels open (discard any that do not open), 10–12 minutes.

Ladle mussels and broth into shallow bowls and top with thyme; serve with bread.

Pasta all’Amatriciana


8 servings


  • Two 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces guanciale (salt-cured pork jowl), finely chopped
  • 4 ounces pancetta (Italian bacon), finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound penne or other tube-shaped pasta
  • Finely grated Pecorino or Parmesan


Purée tomatoes with juices in a blender; set aside. Cook onion, guanciale, pancetta, oil, red pepper flakes and 1/2 cup water in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the water is evaporated and fat begins to render, 8–10 minutes.

Add tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring often, until reduced by half, 5–8 minutes.

Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cover pan partially with a lid, reduce heat, and simmer until the meat is tender and flavors are melded, 40–45 minutes. Add sugar and season with salt and pepper.

When the sauce is almost done, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente; drain pasta.

Add pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Serve topped with Pecorino.

Red Wine-Braised Brisket


10–12 Servings


  • One 5-lb. untrimmed flat-cut brisket
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 celery stalks with leaves
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • One 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • One 750ml bottle full-bodied red wine
  • 8 carrots, peeled and cut in half


Preheat oven to 350°F. Season brisket with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large ovenproof pot with a cover over medium-high. Cook brisket, turning occasionally, until browned all over, 8–10 minutes; transfer to a plate. Discard the fat in the pot.

Place onions, celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, tomatoes, tomato paste and wine in the pot and stir to combine; season with salt and pepper. Place brisket on top, fat side up. Cover the pot and braise in the oven, spooning the braising liquid over the brisket every 30 minutes, until meat is fork-tender, 3–3 1/2 hours.

Uncover the pot and place the carrots around the brisket Return the pot to the oven uncovered and cook until the carrots are tender, the top of the brisket is browned and crisp, and the sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes. Skim fat from the surface of the sauce; discard. Remove brisket from the pot and slice against the grain, Serve with the braising sauce and carrots.

Chicken Thighs Cooked in White Wine


4 servings


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 shallots, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth


Preheat oven to 425°F. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or other heavy-lidded pot over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side; transfer to a plate.

Add shallots and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add thyme and white wine; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until reduced, about 4 minutes.

Return chicken, skin side up, to the pot; add broth, bring to a simmer, cover, and transfer to the oven. Braise until the chicken is cooked through and tender, 20–25 minutes. Uncover; continue to cook in the oven until the skin begins to crisp, 8–10 minutes longer.

Braised Lamb Shanks


8 servings


Lamb Shanks

  • 6 lbs. lamb shanks (6–8 shanks, depending on size), trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground fennel seeds
  • 7 garlic cloves, 1 clove grated, 6 cloves minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, minced
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups drained canned diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus extra if needed


Place lamb on a large rimmed baking sheet; season all over with 2 tablespoons salt and generously with pepper. Mix rosemary, fennel seeds and grated garlic in a small bowl; massage into the lamb. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour or, preferably, chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat oil in a large wide heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 8–10 minutes.

Add minced garlic, flour, paprika and red pepper flakes. Stir vigorously to distribute flour. Cook, stirring often, until mixture becomes dry, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and wine. Simmer briskly, stirring often, until the juices thicken and the tomatoes begin to break down, about 10 minutes.

Gradually stir in the broth. Simmer until the flavors meld, 3–4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add lamb shanks to the pot in a single layer, pushing them down into sauce (add additional broth if needed so that shanks are about ¾ submerged).

Roast, uncovered, until the tops of the shanks have browned, about 30 minutes. Using tongs, turn shanks over and roast for 30 minutes longer.

Cover and cook, turning shanks occasionally, until meat is fork-tender and almost falling off the bone, 45 minutes to 1½ hours (time will depend on size of shanks). Remove the pot from the oven and let the shanks rest in the liquid for 30 minutes.

Discard any fat from the surface of the lamb shank mixture and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer gently, occasionally turning shanks and stirring sauce, until heated through, about 20 minutes. Serve the shanks and sauce with polenta or couscous.

Pear Pie


8 servings


  • Pie crust for a 9 inch double crust
  • ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1¾ cups dry red wine, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 5 teaspoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 teaspoons all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 pounds firm but ripe pears (such as Comice, Anjou, or Bartlett), peeled, cored, thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar


Bring the ¾ cups granulated sugar, rosemary and 1½ cups of the wine to a boil; cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 2/3 cup, 5–8 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Whisking constantly, gradually add butter and whisk until smooth. Set syrup aside.

Whisk cornstarch, cinnamon, the 5 teaspoons of flour and the remaining 1/4 cup wine in a small saucepan set over medium heat; cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 1 minute. Slowly add reserved syrup, whisking until smooth, then stir in vanilla and salt. Chill until cool, about 30 minutes.

Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375°F.

Mix pears and red wine syrup together in a large bowl.

Roll out 1 disk of dough on a lightly floured surface and fit into a 9 inch pie dish. Pour filling into the crust and chill while the second crust is rolled.

Roll out the remaining disk of dough to about 10 inches and cut into twelve strips. Arrange 6 strips crosswise across the top of the pie. Arrange the remaining 6 strips lengthwise across the top of the pie, lifting crosswise strips and weaving lengthwise strips over and under to form a lattice.

Brush the edge of the dough with the beaten egg and press ends of the strips and bottom crust together to seal. Trim strips to the same length as the bottom crust, then fold bottom crust over lattice strips; crimp edge. Brush crust with beaten egg and sprinkle with the granulated sugar.

Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F, rotate pie, and continue baking (tent with foil if the crust is browning too quickly) until juices are bubbling and the crust is golden brown, 60 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool at least 4 hours before slicing.


The Province of La Spezia is located in the Liguria region of Italy. Beaches that overlook the sea, spectacular views and small villages that dot the green valleys are all characteristic of La Spezia. The capital city of the province also called La Spezia, has a major naval base that is located at the head of the Golfo della Spezia, southeast of Genoa. The site was inhabited in Roman times, but little is known of its history before 1276, when it was sold to Genoa by the Fieschi family. The province became a maritime office during the French Empire era and also in the Duchy of Genoa era in the Kingdom of Sardinia. The province became an Italian naval headquarters after the transfer of the military fleet from Genoa in 1857 and, in 1923, it became the provincial capital. The province was severely damaged by bombing during World War II.


laspezia3Notable landmarks include the medieval Castel S. Giorgio, a 15th-century cathedral (rebuilt after 1945) and the naval arsenal (1861–69, also rebuilt after 1945) adjacent to the naval museum. The archaeological museum has a collection of prehistoric monoliths cut in the form of human figures and Roman artifacts from the nearby ancient city of Luni. La Spezia’s industries include shipbuilding, iron foundries, oil refineries and mechanical engineering. It is also a terminus for natural gas shipments from Libya.


la-spezia-beachThe warm Mediterranean air helps create good conditions for growing olives (producing exceptionally light flavored oil), wine grapes, corn, herbs (particularly basil), garlic, chickpeas, zucchini (especially the blossoms), potatoes, onions and artichokes.


The vineyards that cover the province’s sunny terraces are evidence of La Spezia’s ancient tradition of making wine. The Luni Hills, Levanto Hills and Cinque Terre wines are perfect with the local cuisine. Sciacchetrà, the famous D.O.C. wine, with hints of apricot, dried fruit and acacia honey, goes very well with the local sharp cheeses.

La Spezia also has vast expanses of olive groves on the coast and further inland. The oil produced in this area between the Alps and the Tyrrhenian Sea is protected by the Riviera Ligure D.O.P. label. The area’s oil is used in the preparation of most of the local dishes, especially the fish caught in the waters of the Ligurian Sea. Among such specialties are mussels stuffed with eggs, bread, mortadella, parmigiano, parsley and olive oil. The Monterosso anchovies, either sauteed with lemon juice, fried, stuffed or pickled are all popular in the province.

Mesciùa, a soup mixture of chickpeas, wheat, white beans, broad beans and lentils that are all boiled in olive oil, is a local favorite.  Pizza, flatbread made with chickpeas, focaccias and handmade pasta are made in abundance, as well as, the trofie al pesto, now widespread throughout the province.

600-05756267 © Arian Camilleri Model Release: No Property Release: No Focaccia, Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Province of La Spezia, Liguria, Italy

Culinary Specialties of La Spezia


Pasta With Chickpea Sauce


Chef Daniel Gritzer, says: “Using dried beans that are boiled with aromatics produces a more deeply flavored final sauce. The beans blend into a creamy sauce that coats the noodles, but doesn’t require dairy of any sort.”


  • 12 ounces dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 1 large onion, cut in half
  • 1 head garlic, 3 cloves thinly sliced, the rest left unpeeled
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups cooked chickpeas, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups chickpea-cooking liquid or vegetable broth, plus more as needed
  • 1 pound short ruffled pasta
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley, plus more for garnish


Place chickpeas in a large pot and cover with lightly salted water by at least 2 inches. Add unpeeled garlic, onion and rosemary. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a bare simmer and cook, adding water as necessary to keep beans submerged, until beans are very tender and creamy with no graininess left, about 2 hours. Discard onions, garlic and rosemary. Drain beans, reserving beans and liquid separately.

In a medium saucepan, combine oil, sliced garlic and red pepper flakes and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until garlic is lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Add 3 cups of the cooked chickpeas and most of the chickpea-cooking liquid and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and, using an immersion blender, blend to a smooth puree, adding more chickpea-cooking liquid if too thick. Stir in remaining 1 cup chickpeas, crushing some lightly with a wooden spoon or potato masher but leaving them mostly whole. Season with salt and pepper.

In a pot of salted, boiling water, cook pasta until just short of al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta-cooking water, then drain the pasta. Return the cooked pasta to the pot and add the chickpea sauce along with 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta-cooking water. Set over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring until pasta is al dente and the sauce has thickened just enough to coat the pasta, about 3 minutes; add more reserved pasta-cooking water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the sauce becomes too thick. Remove from the heat, stir in chopped parsley and drizzle in some fresh olive oil, stirring to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon pasta and sauce into bowls, garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately.

La Spezia Style Sea Bass


8 servings

Chef Maurizio Quaranta roasts sea bass with olives and tomatoes until the fish is crisp. He then spoons toasted warm pine nuts over the fish before serving.


  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 pound tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 3/4 cup pitted and chopped green or black olives
  • 1/4 cup torn basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Two 3-pound sea bass, cleaned
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts


Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a very large roasting pan, toss the potatoes, tomatoes, olives and basil with 1/2 cup of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Make 3 shallow slashes in both sides of each fish. Rub each fish with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the fish in the roasting pan, tucking them into the vegetables. Roast for about 40 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the fish are cooked through.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast the pine nuts in the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Spoon the pine nuts over the fish and vegetables in the roasting pan and serve right away.



Castagnaccio is a chestnut flour cake (castagna in Italian means chestnut) with raisins, pine nuts, walnuts and rosemary. The recipe does not use yeast, baking powder or sugar. According to food historians, the origin of this recipe goes back to the Ancient Romans, when a chestnut bread was made out of coarsely ground chestnuts and travelers’ and workers’ could pack the bread into their bags. Good chestnut flour is very sweet when you taste it raw (and this is why you do not need to add sugar to the castagnaccio). Taste your flour before using it. If you find it sour, this can be the result of two things: the flour is of poor quality or the flour is too old and has gone stale (chestnut flour doesn’t keep well. Purists only make castagnaccio in November-December, as the flour is prepared in October/November when chestnuts are available. In both cases, you can add some sugar to the mix to reduce the bitterness, but the final result may be inferior. Castagnaccio is best served with a cup of espresso or sweet wine like vin santo.


  • 250g (1/2 pound) chestnut flour
  • 2-3 cups water (500-700ml) – depending on the quality of the flour
  • 1/3 cup (75g) raisins
  • 1/4 cup (50g) pine nuts
  • 5 whole walnuts (shelled and coarsely ground)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 20 rosemary leaves


Pass the flour through a sieve and put it in a mixing bowl.

Add water to the mix slowly, while stirring. You want the batter to be soft enough to fall from the spoon, but not too liquid. Normally 2 1/2 cups (600ml) is the perfect amount of water, but you may need more or less.

Add the olive oil, the pine nuts, the walnuts, the raisin and mix them together thoroughly.

Oil a 9 inch round cake pan  Pour the batter in.

Sprinkle the rosemary leaves on top of the batter. Do not stir: you want them to be visible.

Bake the castagnaccio at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius) for 30-40 minutes.

Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool on a wire rack.

You can eat plain or with a tablespoon of ricotta cheese on top, which is how Italian families traditionally eat it.

Wrapped in plastic or foil, the cake will last 4-5 days, but it will dry out a bit.


What flavors do you associate with fall? For me the ones that immediately come to mind are apple cider, maple, cinnamon, caramel and pumpkin. Here are a few recipes to peak your fall taste buds.



Maple Mascarpone Cheesecake


16 servings


  • 1 ½ cups walnut pieces, plus extra for the topping
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • Two 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • One 3 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon maple flavoring
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 10-inch springform pan; set aside. In a food processor or blender combine the 1 1/2 cups walnut pieces and the 1/4 cup granulated sugar; cover and pulse or blend with several on/off turns until fine crumbs form. Add the 1/4 cup melted butter; pulse or blend to mix. Press crumb mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared springform pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until crust is firm and lightly browned on the edges. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, the 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and the brown sugar. Beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed about 5 minutes or until very light and fluffy. Scrape down sides of bowl; beat for 1 minute more. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the 1 teaspoon vanilla, the maple flavoring, and the 1/4 teaspoon salt; mix well.

Pour cheese mixture into cooled crust. Bake in the 350 degrees F oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until cheesecake is puffy around the edges but wiggles slightly when gently shaken. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.

In a small bowl combine yogurt, maple syrup, the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and the 1/8 teaspoon salt. Spread yogurt mixture evenly over cheesecake, spreading to within 1/2 inch of edges. Bake in the 350 degrees F oven for 10 minutes more. Remove cheesecake from oven; while hot, run a thin knife around the edges. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Chill for at least 8 hours or up to 5 days before serving.

To serve, loosen cheesecake from sides of pan; remove sides of pan. If desired, garnish cheesecake with candied walnuts.

Apple Cider


Apple Cider Sweet Potatoes


Serves 4-6


  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • Parsley for garnish


Put the potatoes, apple cider and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer, stirring once, until the potatoes are tender (25-30 minutes) Mash the potatoes with the cider until it is smooth. Add the butter and the pepper and heat just until the butter has melted. Garnish with parsley.



Apple-Cinnamon Custard Pie


8 servings


  • Pastry for a Single-Crust Pie, recipe below
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 cup whipping (heavy) cream
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus extra for the topping
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Prepare Pastry for a Single-Crust Pie. On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to slightly flatten pastry. Roll pastry from center to edges into a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Wrap pastry circle around the rolling-pin. Unroll into a 9-inch pie plate. Ease pastry into pie plate without stretching it. Trim pastry to 1/2 inch beyond edge of pie plate. Fold under extra pastry even with the edge of pie plate. Crimp edge high. Generously prick bottom and sides of pastry with a fork. Line pastry with a double thickness of foil. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes more or until golden. Remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup sugar. Cook and stir until sugar starts to melt and turn golden. Stir in apples. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until apples are tender and liquid is mostly evaporated, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.

In a small heavy saucepan heat whipping cream and milk over medium-low heat just until bubbly. Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl combine eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Gradually stir in hot cream mixture until combined.

Place pastry shell on oven rack. Spoon apple mixture into pastry shell. Carefully pour egg mixture over apple mixture. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Cover edge of pie loosely with foil. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil. Bake about 20 minutes more or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack about 1 hour to serve warm, or cool completely. Cover and chill within 2 hours.

Pastry for a Single-Crust Pie


  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut up, or shortening
  • 1/4 cup cold water


In a medium bowl stir together flour and salt. Using pastry blender, cut in shortening and butter until pieces are pea size.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the water over part of the flour mixture; toss with a fork. Push moistened pastry to side of bowl. Repeat moistening flour mixture, using 1 tablespoon of the water at a time, until flour mixture is moistened. Gather flour mixture into a ball, kneading gently until it holds together.



Caramel Pots de Creme


8 servings


  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups whipping (heavy) cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 6 egg yolks


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place eight 4-ounce pots de creme pots, ramekins, or 6-ounce custard cups in a large roasting pan; set aside.

In a medium saucepan combine sugar, the water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Using a soft pastry brush dipped in water, brush down any sugar crystals on sides of pan. Bring mixture to boiling over medium-high heat. Boil gently, without stirring, for 8 to 10 minutes or until mixture turns an amber color. Remove from heat.

Whisking constantly, carefully add whipping cream and milk to sugar mixture in a slow stream (mixture will steam and sugar will harden). Return to heat. Cook and whisk about 2 minutes more or until sugar is dissolved.

In a large bowl whisk egg yolks until light and foamy. Slowly whisk cream mixture into beaten egg yolks. Pour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a 4-cup glass measuring cup with a pouring spout. Divide mixture among pots de creme pots.

Add enough hot water to the roasting pan to come halfway up sides of pots de creme pots. Carefully place pan on oven rack. Bake about 40 minutes or until edges of custards are set but centers jiggle slightly when shaken. Transfer pots de creme pots to wire racks; cool for 30 minutes. Cover and chill for 4 hours.


Large pumpkin on a white back ground

Pumpkin Butter



  • 4 cups Pumpkin Puree, recipe below
  • 1 ¼ cups pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


In 5-quart Dutch oven combine all ingredients. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring frequently, 25 minutes or until thick. (If mixture spatters, reduce heat to medium-low). Remove from heat; cool.

Ladle into jars or freezer containers, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Cover; store in refrigerator up to 1 week or freezer up to 6 months.

Pumpkin Puree


  • 2 ½ pounds sugar pie pumpkins


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut pumpkins into 5 x 5 inch pieces. Remove and discard seeds and strings. Arrange pieces in a single layer, skin sides up, in a foil-lined baking pan. Cover with foil. Bake about 1 hour or until tender. When cool enough to handle, scoop pulp from rind. Place pulp in food processor or blender. Cover and process or blend until smooth. Transfer puree to airtight storage containers. Store for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw frozen puree in the refrigerator.

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