Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Monthly Archives: December 2013


One of the most difficult things for a home cook to accomplish is a rich, smooth sauce to serve over steak. The answer isn’t in the “how to” but in what ingredients are used to create the sauce that makes the difference. In the days before refrigeration sauces were more often used to smother the taste of foods that had begun to go bad. However, in the 19th century, the French created a process for making sauces that is still being taught in cooking schools all over the world. The initial preparation of the key ingredients that go into the sauce takes a lot of time. The first step is making a stock with roasted veal and/or beef bones, simmering them for at least 12 hours, continuously skimming the pot, straining the liquid to remove the bones and reducing the liquid for making a successful base for the sauce.

A professional chef will then reduce this brown sauce further to make a demi glace, the ” supreme sauce”. (I have included a recipe, if you would like to try your hand at making it.) Stock reductions are the foundation to hundreds of classic sauces that are served in fine restaurants.

Stay away from bouillon cubes or instant sauce packets you see in your local supermarket. Just take a look at the ingredient list to see what the mix contains and, most likely, you will see a list of processed ingredients along with several preservatives. You can purchase demi-glace, ready made, at a gourmet supermarket to add to your homemade sauce to give it that rich flavor, if you do not have time to make it from scratch.

How to quickly create a rich tasting sauce:

1. Sauté a chopped shallot or small onion in one ounce of butter (1/4 stick) for 1-2 minutes until translucent.

2. Remove the pan from the heat and deglaze with 1/2-cup red win. Return pan to the heat and reduce liquid to half the amount.

3. Add 8 ounces of demi-glace and heat the sauce until it is thick enough to coat a spoon.

4. Season with freshly ground pepper to taste.

5. One last addition that is often used by professional chefs is a pat of butter to add flavor and shine to the finished sauce.

At this point you have a sauce that you can serve or use as a base and layer in more flavors by adding additional ingredients, such as fresh herbs and spices or cream. If you are adding mushrooms that need to cook, add them to the pan right after you add the wine and let them cook while the wine is reducing.

Homemade Demi-Glace


  • 10 lbs. veal/beef bones
  • 3 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 white part of leek, roughly chopped
  • 1 6-oz. can tomato paste

1 Bouquet Garni: A bouquet garni is usually made by tying together herbs with kitchen twine or enclosing them in cheesecloth.

  • 2 outer green leek leaves
  • 15 flat-leaf parsley stems
  • 2 fresh thyme stems or sprigs
  • 2 dried bay leaves


1. Roast the bones: Browning bones and vegetables in a roasting pan in the oven before combining them in a pot with water gives the stock a more pronounced flavor and a deeper color. Veal bones have more collagen than beef bones; simmering the bones transforms the collagen into gelatin, which makes for a thicker, richer stock. Heat oven to 500°F. Put bones into a roasting pan large enough to hold them in a single layer and roast until lightly browned, about 1–1 1⁄2 hours. Add carrots, onions and leeks to the pan and spread them evenly around the bones. Roast the bones and vegetables until they are deeply browned, about 45 minutes more.

2. Deglaze the pan: Transfer bones and vegetables to a 15–20-qt. stockpot. Place roasting pan over 2 burners on the stove over medium heat. Add 3 cups water to the pan; begin scraping up any browned bits fromthe  bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon as the water heats. These caramelized bits will enrich the stock. Simmer for 3 minutes; transfer liquid to the pot of bones. Add the bouquet garni and tomato paste. The paste will give the stock a deeper flavor and color. Cover bones with 6–8 qts. cold water; set pot over medium-high heat. Starting with cold water encourages the proteins and fats contained in the bones to rise to the surface in large pieces, where they can be skimmed and discarded.

3. Simmer the stock: When the first bubbles begin to appear on the surface of the liquid, reduce heat to medium-low and maintain a very gentle simmer; a bubble should rise to the surface about once per second. Simmering slowly prevents the fat and impurities from being churned back into the stock and clouding it. The strength and concentration of the demi-glace will be determined by the length of time the stock simmers. For the minimum amount of extraction, it should simmer for at least 6–8 hours, but 12 hours will produce a richer, more gelatinous sauce. Check every few hours and add more cold water, if necessary, so that bones are always covered.

4. Skim the fat: Skim fatty froth from the surface of the stock with a ladle every 5–10 minutes during first hour of cooking to prevent it from clouding the stock. After the first hour, skim the stock every 30 minutes or so.

5. Strain the stock: Set a chinois (a fine-mesh conical sieve) or a fine metal sieve over a clean 8-qt. pot. Strain stock through the sieve into the pot. Tap edge of sieve with a wooden spoon to loosen any solids that impede the straining of the stock, but do not force liquid through. Discard bones, vegetables and bouquet garni. The stock should yield 4–5 qts.

If storing stock for another use, you can cool it quickly by placing the pot in a sink half filled with ice water. Once it’s cooled, skim the surface again to remove any fat. Transfer the stock you don’t plan to use right away to storage containers and refrigerate. The stock will keep refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 6 months. To transform the stock into demi-glace, proceed to next step.

6. Reduce the sauce: Traditionally, the stock for demi-glace was thickened with a roux, but modern chefs have shunned thickeners in favor of reducing stock to a pure, more syrupy consistency. Simmer stock over medium-high heat, skimming occasionally, for 4–5 hours until reduced to 2 cups. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 6 months.

I freeze the demi-glace in ½ cup portions to add to sauces as needed.

Filet Mignon with Bordelaise Sauce


  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 tablespoons Demi-Glace
  • 4 6-oz. filet mignons
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon chilled unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme


In a 2-qt. saucepan, combine wine, thyme, shallots and bay leaf. Reduce wine over medium-high heat until reduced by half. Discard the thyme and bay leaf; stir in demi-glace. Cover, remove from heat and set aside.

Heat oven to 500°F. Season filets with salt and pepper. Heat oil in an ovenproof 10″ skillet over high heat. Sear steaks, turning once, until browned, 4 minutes total. Transfer skillet to the oven; roast until steaks are medium rare, 4–5 minutes. Place steaks on a serving plate to rest.

Reheat sauce over medium heat. Whisk in butter. Remove saucepan from heat; stir in parsley and season sauce with salt and pepper.

Transfer steaks to a cutting board; pour juices from the serving plate into the saucepan and stir.

Spoon 2 tablespoons of the sauce onto each of 4 plates. Slice steak into 1/4″-thick slices; divide between plates. Sprinkle with rosemary and thyme; drizzle each steak with 1 tablespoon additional sauce.

Steak with Italian Herb Sauce


  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon packed fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 tablespoon packed fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon packed fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3⁄4 cups plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 (24 oz.) 2″–3″-thick rib-eye, strip or porterhouse steak


Put the herbs and garlic on a cutting board and finely chop together with a large knife. Transfer herb mixture to a small bowl and stir in 3/4 cups oil. Season herb sauce with salt and pepper, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for at least 1 hour to let the flavors blend.

Meanwhile, put steak on a plate; season generously with salt and pepper and rub with the remaining oil. Let sit at room temperature for an hour.

Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium-high. (If weather permits.) Alternatively, heat an oiled grill pan over medium-high heat.

Cook steak, turning once, until browned and cooked to desired doneness, 8–10 minutes for medium rare. Transfer steak to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice steak against the grain and spoon some of the herb sauce over the top.


Espresso Spiced Steaks with Tomato Sauce


  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (12-ounces each) rib-eye steaks or steak of your choice

Tomato sauce

  • 1 cup low sodium diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar


Combine first 6 ingredients; stir well. Rub spice mixture evenly over both sides of the steaks; cover and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Preheat grill (indoor or outdoor) to medium-high heat.

Place steaks on greased grill; cook steak 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove from grill; let stand 10 minutes.

Combine tomatoes and remaining ingredients in a saucepan and heat to boiling. Reduce heat to a simmer and heat for 2 or 3 minutes.

Top steaks with tomato sauce just before serving.

Flank Steak with Garlic Wine Sauce


  • 1 medium head garlic
  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 cup dry red wine


Cut head of garlic in half, place on a square of foil and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap tightly and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 45 minutes. Squeeze roasted garlic cloves out of skins and mash into a puree. Set aside.

Sprinkle steak with salt to taste and the 2 teaspoons of freshly ground pepper. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium high heat, but do not add any fat.

When hot, cook seasoned steak until seared and well browned on both sides, about a minute per side. Reduce heat to medium and add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Continue to cook for 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove meat to a platter and keep warm.

Add the scallions and red wine to the skillet. Bring to a boil and whisk in the garlic puree. Boil until the wine is reduced by half and the sauce is thick and syrupy. As it boils, scrape up browned bits with a wooden spoon.

Move steak to a cutting board. Stir in the meat juices from the serving platter that have accumulated under the steak. Boil for another second or so. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter until it is incorporated into the wine sauce.

Quickly slice the meat against the grain, into thin strips. Place them back on the platter and pour the sauce down the center of the slices.

Skirt Steak with Mustard Sauce


  • 1 fat-trimmed skirt steak (about 1 1/4 lb.)
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 tablespoon coarse-grained Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons dry vermouth or dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire


Wipe meat with a damp paper towel, then cut crosswise into 2 or 3 equal pieces.

Prepare an outdoor grill for direct heat or heat an indoor grill pan. When grill is medium-hot, place steak on grill. Cook, turning as needed to brown evenly, until meat is pink in the center of thickest part (cut to test), 5 to 7 minutes, total.

Meanwhile, in a shallow skillet combine butter, mustard, vermouth and Worcestershire; stir occasionally until butter melts. Keep warm.

Place cooked steak in the skillet, slice and stir meat into sauce. Serve immediately.

Jacuzzi Hot Tub

The Jacuzzi hot tub and spa were invented by the Jacuzzi family, whose family of seven sons and six daughters came to America in 1907. In 1915, they formed the Jacuzzi Brothers Incorporated, which supplied the American military with propellers. In 1926, they developed the deep well (jet) water pump that led to the famous whirlpool bath. The Jacuzzi family immigrated to the United States from the province of Pordenone, Friuli, Italy and they eventually settled on the West Coast in Berkeley, California where they became machinists.

Rachele Jacuzzi, one of the brothers, began making aircraft propellers, inspired by an airshow he had seen at the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition in nearby San Francisco. They designed a unique propeller known as the “Jacuzzi toothpick”. Rachele and his brothers created an aircraft manufacturing company in Berkeley called “Jacuzzi Brothers”, which remained in business until 1976, although their product line changed over the years. In 1921, brother Giocondo was killed when one of their planes crashed between Yosemite and San Francisco. As a result, in 1925 the Jacuzzi Brothers stopped making aircraft. Rachele turned the company’s know-how in making hydraulic aircraft pumps into manufacturing a new kind of deep well agricultural pump. Their design turned out to be an innovative new pump and they received a Gold Medal at the California State Fair in 1930.

In 1948, brother Candido used the company’s expertise in pumps to develop a submersible bathtub pump for his son, Kenneth, who had developed rheumatoid arthritis in 1943, at the age of 15 months and suffered from chronic pain. The boy received regular hydrotherapy treatments at local hospitals, but Candido could not stand to see his son suffering between visits. He realized that their agricultural water pumps could be adapted to give his son soothing whirlpool treatments in the tub at home.

In 1955, the firm decided to market the pump, dubbed “J-300”, as a therapeutic aid, selling it in bath supply shops. To generate a little publicity for the unknown product, portable Jacuzzis were included in the gifts given to contestants on TV’s Queen for a Day. It was pitched as relief for the worn out housewife. When Hollywood stars like Randolph Scott and Jayne Mansfield began offering testimonials, the Jacuzzi whirlpool bathtub started to acquire its fame. Jack Benny was hired as a spokesman for Jacuzzi.

In 1968, Candido Jacuzzi brought to market the first self-contained, fully integrated whirlpool bath by incorporating jets into the sides of the tub. Dubbed the “Roman Bathtub”, the jets used a 50-50 air/water ratio to improve the experience. The Jacuzzi became a symbol of a luxurious lifestyle. Hundreds of thousands of Jacuzzi portables were installed, both indoors and outdoors, at recreation centers and private homes and Hollywood celebrities began making personal use of them.

Despite its popularity, however, the whirlpool bath was still mostly a sideline at Jacuzzi Brothers. By far the bulk of Jacuzzi Brother’s revenues came from sales of water pumps and marine jets. Today, Jacuzzi branded hot tubs, baths, showers, toilets, sinks and accessories are commonly found in residential homes, hotels and aboard cruise ships and have become popular in high-end spas around the world. Jacuzzi products are distributed in about 60 countries worldwide.

Francesco, Rachele and Valeriano Jacuzzi

 Mr. Coffee

Mr. Coffee was invented by Vince Marotta, who also developed a better way to extract oil from coffee beans and invented the paper coffee filter. Vincent Marotta spent his youth in Cleveland, Ohio. The son of Italian immigrants, Marotta assisted his father, who could not speak English, in operating the family business, which was coal mining. Upon graduating from high school, where he had excelled in several sports, Marotta enrolled at Mount Union College. The St. Louis Cardinals had already signed Marotta to a contract to play professional baseball, but the young man decided to attend college for at least one year before pursuing a professional baseball career. Unfortunately for Marotta, World War II happened and he was drafted into the United States military. Following Marotta’s service in the armed forces, he returned to Mount Union College, where he excelled in football, as well as track. Upon graduating, Marotta briefly played professional football with the Cleveland Browns.

After retiring from football, Marotta embarked upon a career in construction and land acquisition. At first Marotta built garages, but quickly expanded his company and built subdivisions and shopping centers. By 1968, Marotta had emerged as a leading construction firm in the Cleveland area.

In 1968, Marotta also sought to develop a better home coffee maker. While home coffeemakers had existed for decades, Marotta was not pleased with earlier versions. In 1972, Marotta and Samuel Glazer unveiled Mr. Coffee. This coffeemaker, known for its convenience and speed, almost immediately became a bestseller. By 1975, North American Systems, Inc., the first manufacturer of Mr. Coffee, was selling approximately thirty-eight thousand Mr. Coffees each day. Eventually, Sunbeam Corporation and American Household, Inc. each acquired the production rights to Mr. Coffee. In 2006, Mr. Coffee, now manufactured by Jarden Corporation, remained the world’s best-selling coffee maker for home use.

Vince Marotta

Castro Convertible Sofa

The convertible sofa was invented by Bernard Castro (1904-1991) who came from Italy and opened an upholstery shop in New York in 1931. In 1945, he invented the famous space-saving sofa that” even a child could open”. Born on Aug. 11, 1904, near Palermo, Sicily, Mr. Castro came to the United States with his father in 1919. He never finished high school but went to work as an upholsterer’s apprentice. In 1931 with $400 in capital, he opened his first store, which eventually became a chain he named ’’Castro Convertibles’’. Bernard Castro married Theresa Barabas on Valentine’s Day 1942. Their two children were Bernard, Jr. and Bernadette. Bernadette became famous in the New York area as the company’s official four-year-old spokesperson. Castro was a genius not only at designing a piece of furniture vital to people in space-cramped apartments during the Depression, but at marketing his product.

“By 1948, he discovered this new medium called television,” said his daughter, Bernadette. “There was just one station in New York, Dumont, and he was actually the first person to buy a local-spot commercial. When he called up and said, ‘I want to put a commercial on TV, they said, Go make one and bring it to us. ” At his death in 1991, he had sold over 5 million of his convertible sofas through 48 retail showrooms in 12 states, becoming a multimillionaire in the process.

Castro Convertibles was acquired in 1993 by Krause Furniture, a competitor. Bernadette Castro managed the sale to Krause but retained the large portfolio of commercial real estate her father had acquired in both retail and industrial. Those properties in New York, Florida, Connecticut and Virginia put the family in the real estate business. The Castro Convertible brand was retired until 2010 when Bernadette Castro and her children relaunched the business with one of the most popular original products, the Castro Convertible Ottoman. Rather than sell in retail locations, the new Castro was sold online.

Bernard Castro

Chef Boyardee

Chef Boyardee, the man behind the nation’s leading brand of spaghetti dinners, pizza mix, sauce and pasta, was really Ettore Boiardi, an Italian immigrant from Emilia Romagna. Boiardi was born in Piacenza, Italy in 1897, to Giuseppe and Maria Boiardi. On May 9, 1914, at the age of 16, he arrived at Ellis Island. Boiardi followed his brother, Lorenzo, to the kitchen of the Plaza Hotel in New York City, working his way up to head chef. While working at the Greenbrier Hotel in Greenbrier West Virginia, he directed the catering for the reception of President Woodrow Wilson’s second wedding. His entrepreneurial skill became polished and well known when he opened his first restaurant, Il Giardino d’Italia, whose name translated as “The Garden of Italy”, at East 9th Street and Woodland Avenue in Cleveland in 1926. The patrons of Il Giardino d’Italia frequently asked for samples and recipes of his spaghetti sauce, so he filled cleaned milk bottles for them.

Boiardi began to use a factory in 1928 to keep up with orders, setting his sights on selling his product nationally. Touting the low cost of spaghetti products as a good choice to serve to the entire family, Boiardi introduced his product to the public in 1929. In the 1930s, he began selling his pasta and sauce in cans. In 1938, production was moved to Milton, Pennsylvania, where they could grow enough tomatoes and mushrooms. Proud of his Italian heritage, Boiardi sold his products under the brand name “Chef Boy-Ar-Dee”, so that his American customers could pronounce his name properly. During World War II, the company was the largest supplier of rations for the U.S. and Allied Forces.

Boiardi appeared in many print advertisements and television commercials for his brand in the 1940s through the 1960s. His last appearance in a television commercial promoting the brand aired in 1979. Boiardi continued developing new Italian food products for the American market until his death in 1985, at which time the Chef Boyardee line was grossing $500 million per year for International Home Foods.

Ettore Boiardi

Big Mac

Michael James Delligatti was born in Uniontown, Fayette County, PA in 1918. Delligatti’s father’s job forced the family to move frequently. He never went to college and started his career working for Isaly’s Dairy, a chain of family-owned dairies and restaurants in the 1950s. By the mid-50s, Delligatti wanted to open his own restaurant and decided to attend a restaurant show in Chicago in 1956. At the show, a McDonald’s booth caught Delligatti’s attention and led to an invitation to a McDonald’s that had just opened in Illinois. Delligatti discovered if he went with McDonald’s, the money he’d save on paper goods purchased through the company would pay for his franchise fee.

In 1957, Jim Delligatti opened his first McDonald’s on McKnight Road in the North Hills area of Pittsburgh. He was one of McDonald’s earliest franchise owners; by the 1960s, he was operating a dozen stores in the Pittsburgh area. Delligatti had an exclusive territorial franchise for metropolitan Pittsburgh but was struggling with sub-par store volumes. He decided that the only way to broaden his customer base and increase sales was to add to the McDonald’s menu.

For the next few years, Jim Delligatti spent time and energy to create a new product for the McDonald’s menu. Delligatti used every opportunity to partner with other multi-store franchise owners and McDonald’s top managers to discuss the need to improve the menu and to gain sales through a new target market. Delligatti’s eventual idea was to combine two-all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions on a sesame seed bun. The special sauce recipe remains a secret, but it is recognized as a variant of Thousand Island dressing. Original names for the burger included “Aristocrat” and “Blue Ribbon Burger.” The name, “Big Mac”, was created by Esther Glickstein Rose, a 21-year-old Advertising Secretary who worked at McDonald’s Corporate office in Chicago.

One of Delligatti’s obstacles in getting the Big Mac approved for sale was its proposed price of 45 cents—twice that of a regular cheeseburger. It took the support of Ralph Lanphar, a regional manager in Columbus, to obtain corporate permission to test the Big Mac. This permission was limited—Delligatti could only test the sandwich at his Uniontown store and he was told he had to use the standard McDonald’s bun. When this bun proved far too small for all the contents of the Big Mac, Delligatti ignored management’s requests and ordered a larger, three-piece bun. Within a few months, the new Big Mac was increasing the Uniontown store’s sales by better than 12 percent. The sandwich was a hit.

Jim Delligatti

Dynamic Tension

Charles Atlas invented the body-building technique, called “Dynamic Tension” in 1921 and was dubbed “America’s Most Perfectly Developed Man” by Physical Culture magazine. By the 1950s, the former Coney Island janitor had over one million followers.

Charles Atlas, born Angelo Siciliano (1892 – 1972), was the developer of a bodybuilding method and its associated exercise program that was best known for a landmark advertising campaign featuring Atlas’s name and likeness; it has been described as one of the longest-lasting and most memorable ad campaigns of all time. According to Atlas, he trained himself to develop his body from that of a “scrawny weakling”, eventually becoming the most popular muscleman of his day. He took the name “Charles Atlas” after a friend told him he resembled the statue of Atlas on top of a hotel in Coney Island and legally changed his name in 1922. His company, Charles Atlas Ltd., was founded in 1929 and, as of 2010, continues to market a fitness program for the “97-pound weakling”.

Born in Acri, Calabria, Italy, Angelino, as he was also called, moved to Brooklyn, New York, in 1905 and became a leather worker. He tried many forms of exercise initially, using weights, pulley-style resistance and gymnastic-style calisthenics. Atlas claimed they did not build his body. In 1922, he met Dr. Frederick Tilney, a British homeopathic physician and course writer. Atlas and Tilney met through Bernarr MacFadden, who was using Atlas as a model for a short movie entitled, “The Road to Health.” Atlas wrote a fitness course and then asked Tilney to edit the course. Tilney agreed and Atlas went into business in 1922. Tilney himself had an extensive background in weight training.

Atlas’ “Dynamic Tension” program consists of twelve lessons and one final perpetual lesson. Each lesson is supplemented with photos of Atlas demonstrating the exercises. Atlas’ lesson booklets added commentary that referred to the readers as his friends and gave them an open invitation to write him letters to update him on their progress and stories. His products and lessons have sold millions and Atlas became the face of fitness. Among the people who took Atlas’ course were Max Baer, heavyweight boxing champion from 1934 to 1935, Rocky Marciano, heavyweight boxing champion from 1952 to 1956 and Joe Louis, heavyweight boxing champion from 1937 to 1949. Besides photographs, Atlas posed for many statues throughout his life, including the statue of George Washington in New York’s Washington Square Park, Dawn of Glory in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and Alexander Hamilton at the U.S. Treasury building in Washington, D.C. Atlas was also an inspiration and a model for later bodybuilders and fitness gurus, including Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Angelo Siciliano

Recipes That Celebrate The Inventors Above

From Emilia Romagna

Erbazzone (Savory Greens Pie)


For the filling

  • 2 lbs spinach, cooked
  • 5 oz butter
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 7 oz grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the dough

  • 5 oz all-purpose flour
  • 3 oz butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup water

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Slices of prosciutto


Chop the spinach and squeeze well in a kitchen towel.

Sauté the butter and onion until the onion is soft.

Add the spinach and the garlic. Cook for five minutes. Cool.

When the mixture has cooled, add the grated Parmesan, olive oil, pepper and salt.

Mix the dough ingredients together in a processor. Divide the dough in half.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and grease a 9”x13” baking dish.

On a floured board roll one piece of dough out to fit the bottom of the baking dish (13×9). Place dough in the prepared dish. Spread the spinach mixture over the dough.

Roll out the remaining dough to fit the top layer (13×9) and place over the spinach. Brush dough with the egg wash.

Bake at 350°F until the pastry is golden about 20-30 minutes.

Serve with slices of prosciutto.

From Friuli Venezia Giulia

Barley Minestrone


  • 1/2 cup pearl barley ( soaked for 4 hours and drained)
  • 1 1/2 cups green cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 2 cups canned, diced Italian tomatoes
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen fava beans ( or substitute green peas or baby limas)
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 4 cups vegetable stock ( or chicken)
  • Fresh ground black pepper


Place the barley in a pan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Cook for 25-30 minutes until tender; then drain.

In a large pot, combine all vegetables with the stock and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes until the vegetables are just tender.

Add the cooked barley and simmer until barley is hot. Season with black pepper and serve.

From Calabria

Rigatoni alla Calabrese


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, removed from casings
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 (28 ounce) can tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino Romano
  • Basil leaves for garnish


Heat olive oil in a large wide saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the sausage, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook until the sausage begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook until evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, broth, salt to taste and oregano. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce to low, and simmer for 45 minutes.

Cook the rigatoni in boiling salted water until al dente. Transfer the pasta to a colander to drain. Add the pasta to the sauce. Stir in the ricotta and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to mix well. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with basil leaves.

From Sicily

Pork Braciole in Wine Sauce


  • 6 boneless pork chops (1/2 inch thick)
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Rosemay for garnish


Lightly flatten the chops and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a skillet and brown the pork on both sides. Add the wine and fennel seeds, cover, and simmer for a few minutes, turning the slices often. Just before serving, sprinkle with lemon juice and garnish with rosemary.

Italian white wines are crisp, soft and highly acidic. They are made to accompany food, not overpower it. Even Italian wines made from grapes popular elsewhere, such as Chardonnay, take on a slightly different, richer character when grown in Italian soil. Italy’s best white wines are grown, primarily, in three regions, “Tre Venezie”, literally the three-Venices: Veneto, Trentino Alto-Adige and Fruili-Venezia-Guilia, as well as in Piedmont. The cooler northern climate of these areas adds a crispness to the wines.

Pinot Grigio

Probably the most well known Italian white wine is Pinot Grigio. This light, dry white has become a summer staple in the United States. Produced in Veneto, Pinot Grigio at its best, has a subtle lemony, slightly nutty flavor and goes well with grilled fish, salads and seafood.


Soave is similar to Pinot Grigio and is also grown in Veneto. Soave is a light, straw-colored, slightly sweet and fruity wine. Named after a small town in the region, Soave is made from Trebbiano and Garganega grapes. Soave, Italy’s best selling white wine, is best consumed young, no longer than three years from the vintage date.


Little known in the United States, Gavi is a very dry, delicate wine with strong acidity. It has delicate aromas of grapefruit, honey, flowers and minerals. Gavi is named after a town in the Piedmont region. Produced from native Cortese grapes, Gavi goes well with fish. It is best drunk within three to four years of the vintage date.


Orvieto is made in Umbria and has been made in the same way since Roman times. Umbria’s central Italy location and the slightly warmer climate imparts an earthiness not found in the Piedmont and Veneto wines. The chalky, limestone soil gives a unique character to this wine. Orvieto, named after a village near where it is produced, is a dry wine also made from Trebbiano and Grechetto grapes. Very affordable, Orvieto goes well with grilled chicken or fish.


Produced in eastern Italy, near the Adriatic coast, Verdicchio is a light, dry wine with a pleasant acidity made from grapes of the same name. Verdicchio, unlike most Italian white wines, is capable of aging, but it has a fruity freshness when drunk young. Verdicchio has the flavor of fresh apples and lemon. Relatively inexpensive, this wine is good with seafood and fish.


Arneis, the name means “rascal” in the local dialect, is a product of Piedmont. Light and easy to drink, Arneis is goes very well with summer food: such as salads, prosciutto and melon, or a light pasta primavera. Arneis is also refreshing as an “aperitivo,” a small glass at the start of the meal. Named after the grape from which the wine is made, Arneis is a medium dry wine with hints of peaches, apricots and pears. It is best consumed when it is young.


Chardonnay is most often thought of in conjunction with French or California wine production, but Italy also makes Chardonnay. Most Italian Chardonnay is made in the Alto Adige region in mountainous northern Italy, near the Austrian border. In general, Italian Chardonnays are more crisp than those made in other countries. Most are un-oaked with a light fruit taste that pairs well with lobster, crabmeat and cream sauces.


Asti, named after a town in southeastern Piedmont, is Italy’s most famous sparkling wine – “spumante” in Italian. Made from Moscato d’Asti grapes, Asti is an aromatic, semi-sweet wine. Sometimes called a poor man’s Champagne, Asti Spumante, when well made, can be fruity with hints of ripe peaches and apricots but is quite light when compared to Champagne. Serve Asti well chilled or combine Asti with fresh peach juice to create Venice’s most famous cocktail, the Bellini.

Italian white wines offer variety and unique flavors. The next time you visit your neighborhood wine store, think Italian, try something different and plan your menu around one of these wines.

Herbed Mushrooms with White Wine


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives


Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place mushrooms in the skillet, season with Italian seasoning and cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the wine and garlic to the skillet and continue cooking until most of the wine has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with chives. Continue cooking 1 minute.

Pasta with Turkey White Wine Ragu

4 servings


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey breast
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons small capers, rinsed
  • 3/4 pound penne or any short pasta
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter


In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic, cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the turkey, season with salt and pepper and raise the heat to high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the turkey is no longer pink and any liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes.

Add the white wine to the skillet and boil over high heat until nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, thyme, rosemary and capers and simmer over moderate heat until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta well and add it to the skillet along with the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, chopped parsley and butter. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce is thick and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to serving bowls.

MAKE AHEAD: The ragu can be covered and refrigerated overnight. Rewarm the sauce before using.

Fish Fillets in Herbed White-Wine Sauce

Serves: 4


  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup bottled clam juice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped marjoram
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Four 6-ounce skinless mahi mahi fillets or any firm thick white fish fillets
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for rubbing
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley


In a small saucepan, toast the pine nuts over moderate heat, shaking the pan a few times until the nuts are fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate.

Add the clam juice to the saucepan and boil over medium heat until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and continue to boi,l 5 minutes more. Add the shallot, thyme and marjoram and season with salt and pepper. Cover the sauce and keep warm.

Light an outdoor grill or heat a stovetop grill pan. Rub the fish fillets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Grill over high heat, turning once, until grill marks appear and the fish is cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer the fish to a serving plate.

Stir the parsley into the wine sauce. Coarsely chop the toasted pine nuts. Spoon the sauce over the fish and sprinkle with the pine nuts.

Chicken Cutlets in a White Wine Sauce


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 8 thin chicken cutlets (about 1 1/2 – 2 pounds total)
  • All-purpose flour for dredging
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine (dry)
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon, plus lemon slices for garnish
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley


Heat oil in a skillet. Pour flour into a shallow dish. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken cutlets in the flour and place into the skillet.

Depending on the size of your skillet, you may need to do this in two batches. Cook for about 4-5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with foil.

Add butter to the pan with the garlic. Let the garlic cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add the zest and juice of the lemon. Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Stir together.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and garnish with lemon slices.

Italian Wine Cookies


  • 1 cup white wine
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon anise seed or cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 orange zested
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 4-1/2 cups all purpose flour


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets or jelly roll pans with parchment paper.

Mix the first 8 ingredients together in a large bowl and then add the flour. Knead dough on a floured board.

Separate into 1 oz. pieces. Roll each piece into a 6″ long and 1/2-3/4″ thick rope. Then make a loop and pull one end throug;. like a pretzel.

Place cookies on prepared pans. Sprinkle with additional granulated sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Cook on a wire rack.

The benefits of giving homemade holiday food gifts are numerous. They are easy on the budget and ideal for those people on your holiday gift list who have everything. The receiver appreciates the personal touch and effort you’ve put into the gift and, for you, the creative act of putting together a homemade gift is rewarding.

What many people may not know about the benefits of homemade gifts is that they can actually be better for the planet than the standard store bought gifts. Many mass-produced gift items are things that your gift recipients actually do not need. How many times have you received an off-the-shelf Christmas gift that you simply tucked away in a corner of your closet? With homemade gifts, you get to customize your gifts to what your gift recipients might like or use. Homemade gifts can also be less energy-consuming to produce, since you get to cut out the shipping process.

Homemade gifts also have the benefit of giving materials, originally headed for the recycling or trash bin, a new lease of life. For example, a piece of leftover ribbon can now be reused as part of the gift-wrap for a homemade gift. The process of hand-making your gifts can help to contribute to less waste, especially if you seek to reuse materials as much as possible. In the process of making homemade gifts, you might have to purchase some materials. Try to minimize that if you can. Be innovative, find alternatives that already exist at home. Because you have a choice over the type of materials, you can choose the environmentally more friendly or biodegradable versions.

What could be easier than baking a batch of your favorite cookies or mixing mocha drink ingredients or making a container of pickles and giving it as a gift in a fancy jar, complete with recipe and instructions? It is best to use a recipe that has your own special ingredients. Give the recipient a gourmet food jar or container that they might not find anywhere else. The best part about this step is that you can use a variety of jars in different shapes and sizes, adding to the uniqueness of your homemade food gift. Print the recipe and attach it to the food gift. Be sure to include all of the directions and a list of the ingredients the gift recipient will need to finish the recipe.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Toffee

Yield: about 20 pieces


  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 sleeve saltine crackers (about 4 oz.)
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread almonds in a shallow pan; bake until lightly toasted and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes, shaking pan halfway through. Remove to a bowl to cool, then chop.

Line a 15-by-10-inch baking sheet with foil; mist with cooking spray. Arrange crackers in a single layer on sheet, breaking crackers as necessary to fit.

Bring butter and sugar to a boil in a small pan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Spread mixture evenly over crackers. Bake for 13 minutes. Remove sheet from the oven; add peanut butter in dollops. Return to oven until peanut butter begins to melt, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack.

Spread peanut butter evenly. Sprinkle both types of chocolate chips over the mixture on the baking sheet; let stand until chips soften, about 1 minute. Spread chips over peanut butter. Sprinkle with almonds. Let stand for 30 minutes. Place sheet in the refrigerator; chill until the chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes. Break into approximately 20 pieces. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

As A Gift: Fill a decorative coffee mug with toffee pieces.

Peppery Peach Sauce

Yield: 8 half-pint jars


  • Three 16-ounce packages frozen unsweetened peach slices
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 15 1/2 ounce can peach or apricot nectar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 fresh hot red chile pepper, seeded and very finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries, thawed and chopped


Place half of the frozen peaches in a food processor or blender. Cover and process or blend until peaches are very finely chopped. Transfer chopped peaches to a 6-quart pot. Repeat with remaining peaches. (You should have 5 cups pureed peaches.)

Add sugar, nectar, vinegar, lemon juice, chile pepper, salt and garlic to the pot. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in raspberries.

Immediately ladle peach sauce into hot, clean half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and wipe jar rims; adjust lids. Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes (start timing when water returns to boil). Remove jars from canner; cool on racks.

As A Gift: Tie a ribbon around a filled jar, then slide a basting brush underneath the ribbon. Add a sprig of rosemary to the top of the jar for a festive touch.

Sweet Potato Loaf


  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour or whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup light dairy sour cream
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup mashed cooked peeled sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat an 8x4x2-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

In one bowl, combine flours, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, sugar, milk, oil and vanilla. Stir in sweet potatoes. Add sour cream mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened. Fold in dates and nuts. Spoon batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely.

As A Gift: Wrap the loaf in cellophane or a pretty dish towel and tie with ribbon.

Parmesan Grissini

Yields: 25 to 30 grissini


  • 2 2/3 cups bread flour
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup warmed milk
  • 1/4 cup (about 1 ounce) finely grated Parmesan


In a bowl combine bread flour, yeast, sea salt, fennel seeds and red pepper; make a well in the middle.

Pour olive oil and warmed milk into the well. Stir until dough comes together. Add Parmesan and mix until incorporated.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. (You can prepare the dough in a mixer with a dough hook, if desired.)

Shape dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap; set in a warm, draft-free place and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Lightly flour work surface again, then turn dough out and knead lightly for 1 minute.

Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a 12- by 15-inch rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.

Using a sharp knife, cut dough into strips just under 1/2 inch wide. Lightly flour hands, then quickly roll strips until they’re slightly rounded.

Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving space between each strip. Set aside to rise again, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake one sheet at a time on the middle shelf until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, turning bread sticks halfway through. Let cool completely.

As A Gift: Bundle in wax paper or parchment and seal with gold stickers.

Homemade Spice Mixes

Combine the individual mixtures and package in decorative containers. You can purchase decorative tins or spice jars from any kitchen supply company or use some of your empty spice jars.

Poultry Seasoning

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt free chicken bouillon granules

Fish Seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground dried sage
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried marjoram leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried crushed rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Steak Seasoning

  • 2 tablespoons coarse-ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dill seed
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

Italian Seasoning

  • 4 tablespoons dried basil
  • 4 tablespoons dried marjoram
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons oregano
  • 2 tablespoons thyme
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage

Gluten Free Flour Blend

If you have friends with gluten intolerance, they will appreciate having this baking mix handy.


  • 2 cups finely ground rice flour
  • 2/3 cup potato starch
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum


Combine all ingredients in large bowl; stir very well. Store mixture in a container with tight-fitting lid in the freezer; stir before using.

What’s for dinner tonight? How about a casserole, chili, lasagna or meatloaf made with the ultimate dinner staple – ground beef. Ground beef has long been considered a meat-stretcher, easier on the wallet than full beef cuts. Perhaps for this reason, there are a lot of inventive ways to use ground beef other than for burgers, meatloaf and meatballs, including some interesting mock gourmet recipes.

Grocery stores carry a variety of ground beef options (sometimes also labeled as hamburger beef). Most stores label ground beef either with the percentage of fat it contains, the percentage of lean meat it contains or the lean/fat ratio. For example, beef that contains 20 percent fat would be listed as 20 percent fat, 80 percent lean or 80 percent/20 percent. Ground beef with a higher amount of fat costs less, swaying consumers into thinking that it is the more budget-friendly option. However, keep in mind that ground beef with a high amount of fat results in a lot of shrinking during the cooking process and less overall meat.

So what’s the best choice? There’s no right answer, but rather a trade-off between flavor and health. People concerned about their health will want to go with leaner meat, but they’ll be sacrificing some of the flavor. The general recommendation is using ground beef that is 85 percent lean/15 percent fat, which will bring plenty of beef flavor without being overly fatty or result in shrinking during cooking.

Ground beef may also be labeled based on the cut of beef from which it originated. The three most common cuts used for ground beef, ranging from leanest to fattiest, are round, sirloin and chuck. After purchasing ground beef, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days; otherwise, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap or in a freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.

  • Generally, the higher the cooking temperature, the greater the shrinkage, so cook ground beef at a moderate temperature rather than high heat. Overcooking will result in dry, tasteless meat as the juices evaporate.
  • To avoid ground beef sticking to your hands, dip your hands in cold water before handling the meat to make burgers or meatballs. Do not overhandle the meat when making patties. Keep a light touch and do not over-compact. There is nothing wrong with digging in with clean hands to mix seasonings into ground beef, but do not overdo it. The heat from your hands and the friction of mixing can break down those bits of fat that you want to preserve for a juicy result. Overworking ground beef can turn it into flavorless mush.
  • You can substitute ground veal, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey or sausage in most recipes for a different flavor. Since poultry has a milder flavor, when substituting ground poultry for ground beef, add slightly more seasoning than a recipe using beef . Because of the difference in texture, you may also need to decrease any added liquid by one to two tablespoons when using ground poultry.

Mediterranean Meatball Soup

6 servings


  • 3/4 cup soft whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons snipped fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground round
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium yellow and/or red bell peppers, seeded and cut into bite-size strips
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups reduced sodium beef broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 – 15 ounce can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking barley
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
  • Parmesan cheese, garnish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, egg, half of the garlic, half of the rosemary and the black pepper. Add ground beef; mix well. Shape meat mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Place meatballs in a foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake about 15 minutes or until meatball centers register 160 degrees F. Set aside.

In a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add carrots, peppers, onion and the remaining garlic; cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beef stock, the water, Great Northern beans, barley and the remaining rosemary. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes or until barley is tender.

Add meatballs to soup mixture; heat through. Stir in spinach just before serving. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Polenta Lasagna

For the polenta:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Italian polenta or yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For the lasagna:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground beef  of choice
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups homemade or store bought spaghetti sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


For the polenta:

Bring water and salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Slowly whisk in polenta in a steady stream. Continue whisking until it begins to thicken. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until polenta pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese, butter and pepper. Keep warm.

For the meat sauce:

In a deep, heavy skillet, saute mushrooms in olive oil over high heat until they release their liquid and turn golden. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Add the ground beef and onion to the same skillet over medium-high heat. Saute about 5 minutes, breaking up meat, until it is no longer pink. Add garlic and saute 1 additional minute. Add tomato sauce, parsley, basil, oregano and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let cool for 10 minutes. Stir in mushrooms.

For the lasagna:

Coat a medium baking dish with vegetable spray. Spread half of the cooked polenta over the bottom of the dish. Spoon meat mixture evenly over polenta layer and finish off with the remaining polenta on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. (The lasagna may be covered with foil and refrigerated up to 8 hours at this point. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cover lasagna loosely with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and broil for 5 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Let rest for 5 minutes before cutting.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Beef Stuffed Swiss Chard

4 servings


  • 1 pound lean ground beef of choice
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 medium onion chopped, divided
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, divided
  • 2 minced garlic cloves, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 16 large Swiss chard leaves, stems removed
  • 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed Italian tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese


Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet with a cover. Add beef, half the onion, the bell pepper and 1 minced garlic clove. Saute just until meat loses it red color. Combine beef mixture with, bread crumbs, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.

Place two chard leaves together to form 8 piles. Divide beef mixture evenly on the lower half of each set of leaves. Fold the sides of the leaves over the beef mixture and tightly roll up the chard leaves into a cylinder. Place each roll, seam-side down, in the empty skillet. Pour in broth, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the chard is tender, about 15 minutes. Pour off any remaining broth and reserve for another use.

Heat remaining oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, remaining garlic, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced and thickened.

Serve the chard rolls topped with sauce and Parmesan cheese.

Steak Burger with Mushroom Sauce

Serves 4


  • 1 1/4 pounds ground sirloin
  • 1/4 of an onion, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cups reduced sodium beef broth, heated
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Buttered egg noodles, for serving


Gently mix together the beef, onion, sage, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper in a large bowl. Using your hands, divide meat into 4 equal portions and shape into oval patties, about 1/2 inch thick.

Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Brown the patties, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Add 1 tablespoon butter to the skillet and cook the mushrooms until slightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper to taste, scraping up any browned bits. Sprinkle in the flour and stir, then whisk in the hot beef broth and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 2-3 minutes.

Return the patties and any juices from the plate to the skillet. Simmer until the patties are cooked through, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve over noodles.

Mini Meatball Pizza


  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground beef of choice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound prepared Pizza Dough (whole wheat or regular)
  • 1 recipe Pizza Sauce, recipe below
  • 2 cups shredded provolone cheese (8 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup thin strips yellow bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup thin strips red onion


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Grease a large (14-15 inches) pizza pan and sprinkle lightly with semolina flour or cornmeal.

In a large bowl combine egg, bread crumbs, cheese, milk, oregano, garlic, salt and black pepper. Add ground beef; mix well. Shape into 1-inch meatballs.

In a large skillet cook meatballs in hot oil over medium-high heat until no longer pink (160 degrees F), turning to brown evenly. Drain on paper towels. Cool slightly; cut in half.

Place room temperature pizza dough in the prepared pan and press the dough to the edges of the pizza pan.

Top pizza dough with the pizza sauce and then the provolone cheese; then the meatballs, followed by the bell pepper and onion.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until crust is golden brown. To serve, cut into wedges.

Pizza Sauce

Makes 3/4 cup.


  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces canned crushed Italian tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper


In a medium saucepan cook onion and garlic in hot olive oil over medium heat about 4 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes, oregano, salt and red pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.

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