1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup lukewarm water
3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium zucchini, finely diced
1 yellow bell pepper, finely diced
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
One-quarter of a large red onion, finely diced
16 oz block whole milk mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes for serving
Combine all the ingredients for the dough in the large bowl of an electric mixer and with the paddle attachment mix until the ingredients come together around the paddle. Attach the dough hook and knead the dough for 5-6 minutes.
Place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled.
For an overnight rise: Spray a large ziplock plastic bag with olive oil cooking spray. Place the dough in the bag and close the top. Place the bag in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to make the pizza, remove the bag from the refrigerator 30 minutes before making the pizza.
Turn the oven to 450 degrees F and let the oven heat for 30 minutes.
Prepare the crust: flour your hands lightly and pat the dough evenly into a lightly oiled 16″ pizza pan.
Top the crust in the following order: slices of mozzarella, vegetables, oregano, salt, pepper, and shredded mozzarella cheese.
Bake the pizza on the bottom rack of the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the crust is golden. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.
Almond Cream Cheese Coffee Cakes
Makes 2 cakes
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup milk at room temperature
2 eggs at room temperature
4 cups bread or all-purpose flour
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
8 ounces almond paste, broken into small pieces
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
4 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
¼ cup toasted slivered almonds
To Make the Dough:
Mix all the dough ingredients in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment until the dough comes to a ball or comes away from the sides of the mixer bowl.
Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for 10 minutes or until the dough is soft and smooth.
Remove the dough to a floured surface. Grease the bowl and return the dough to the bowl. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 hour, or until it’s puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk).
To Make the Filling:
While the dough is rising, prepare the filling by beating the cream cheese and the almond paste together until smooth. Chill until ready to use.
Cover two large baking pans with parchment paper.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and divide in half.
Rol one half into a large rectangle, about 12 x 140inches.
Spread half of the filling on the dough, leaving a half-inch border all around the dough.
Fold the dough into thirds like a letter from the long side. Seal the ends tightly. Form the roll into a horseshoe and pinch the ends together.
Place the dough on the prepared pan. Using kitchen scissors, cut two-thirds through the dough from the outer rim of the circle at 1-inch intervals.
Allow the cakes to rise, covered with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel for 1 hour until almost doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Bake the cakes for 30 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Switch pans after 15 minutes to alternate on the oven racks.
Remove the cake from the oven and slide with the parchment paper to cool on a wire rack.
To make the glaze:
Combine the powdered sugar, almond extract, and enough milk to make a thin frosting. Sprinkle with sliced almonds and allow the glaze to set before serving.
30 whole ladyfingers
8 oz mascarpone cheese
2 cups cold heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup powdered sugar
½ cup orange juice
3 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
In a large mixing bowl beat heavy cream until soft peaks form.
Add in the mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract and beat on medium speed until stiff, set aside.
Separate the ladyfingers.
Line half of the ladyfingers in a single layer, in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
Brush the ladyfingers with half of the orange juice.
Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers and layer with half of the sliced strawberries.
Repeat the steps again.
Place in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. Cut into 8 squares for serving.
PanSeared Filet Mignon and Crabmeat Stuffed Lobster Tails
For the steak
2 Filet Mignons, 1 inch thick
1 tablespoon steak seasoning
2 tablespoons butter
For the lobster
2 frozen lobster tails, 5 ounces each
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons butter, salted
2 tablespoons minced onion
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup panko crumbs
1/2 cup jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons olive oil
Thaw lobster 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator or place in a clean bowl under cool running water until completely thawed.
To make stuffing:
Melt butter in a small saucepan or saute pan. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent. Do not brown. Fold in panko, crabmeat, salt, white pepper, lemon zest, and olive oil.
Heat oven to 450 degrees F.
Split top side of lobster shell down the center with scissors, keeping tail fan intact. Pull shell open; lift tail meat, leaving it attached at the end, and lay over top of the shell, “piggyback” style. Make a cut down the center of the meat 1/4-inch deep. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour wine into a small baking dish. Place lobster tails in the dish. Spoon stuffing over top of the meat. Bake 10 to 12 minutes in the center of the oven, until the meat, turns from translucent to opaque (white).
Remove from the oven and drizzle pan juices lightly over the lobster. Serve with lemon wedges
To cook the steaks
Season the steaks with steak seasoning, rubbing the spices into the steaks. Let rest until room temperature.
Heat a small ovenproof skillet and add the butter.
Sear filets for 2 minutes on each side, until you see a golden-brown crust form.
Place the full skillet with filets onto the center oven rack to finish cooking. Place the skillet in the oven at the same time you put the lobster in the oven.
The best temperature for a filet mignon is, generally, medium-rare, which will give them a slight pinkness in the center. To cook to this temperature, your steaks should read 130-degrees with a meat thermometer before removing them from the oven. Shoot for 120-degrees for rare and 140-degrees for medium. After they’ve finished cooking, place the steaks on a plate and cover loosely with foil for about 10 minutes to rest.
1 large russet potato (about 10 to 12 ounces each)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 scallion, minced
Paprika, for sprinkling
Bake the potato early in the day. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prick the potatoes all over with a fork. Brush lightly with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast on a sheet tray until tender, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool enough to handle.
Slice the potatoes lengthwise and scoop the potato flesh into a medium bowl, leaving a 1/4-inch shell all around. Season the insides of the potato shells lightly with salt and pepper. To the bowl with the potato, add the sour cream, half-and-half, and butter and mix until almost smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the scallion. Mound into the potato shells. Place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate if not baking right away,
Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking. Place in the oven at the same temperature set for the steak and lobster ten minutes before the steak and lobster.
Bake until heated through, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with paprika and serve.
Spinach Salad with Cherries, Walnuts And Blue Cheese
¼ small red onion, sliced thinly and soaked in water for 10 minutes, and drained.
8 cups clean spinach leaves
½ cup dried cherries
¾ cup crumbled blue cheese
¾ cup roughly chopped toasted walnuts
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 350F
Spread walnuts on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 6 minutes. Stir around and roast for another 3-4 minutes ensuring they don’t overcook. Let cool. This step can be done earlier in the day.
Combine the spinach, onion, and cherries n a large bowl and toss to combine.
Combine all ingredients and whisk to combine.
Taste and add salt and pepper until it’s to your liking.
Add dressing to salad and toss to coat, gently add the cheese and walnuts and serve.
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
1 lb short pasta
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Zest and juice of 3 lemons
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup grated Pecorino-Romano, plus more for serving
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
½ lb shrimp peeled, deveined, and cut in half crosswise
Prepare a bowl of ice water and set it aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook until bright green and just barely cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Use a spider or strainer to transfer the green beans to the ice bath and let cool completely before draining. Keep the water boiling in the pot.
Add the pasta to the same pot of boiling water. Let cook to al dente, about 3 minutes less than the package instructions. Save ½ cup pasta water. Drain the pasta.
Heat the olive oil in the pot over medium-high heat. Cook the garlic and red pepper flakes until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute, then add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and pasta water.
Add the butter and shrimp. Stir for 2 minutes. Add drained pasta and blanched green beans, and cook, tossing, until well combined about 3 minutes more. Turn off the heat and gradually stir in the cheese, tossing constantly. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Divide pasta among serving bowls and garnish with parsley, more cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil.
serves: 10 to 12
Italian cheesecake is one of the easiest Italian desserts to make and is always a big hit.
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup amaretto crumbs from about 5-6 cookies
5 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups drained whole milk ricotta, at room temperature
1 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons dark rum
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
Powdered sugar and strawberries for optional topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Combine the butter and cookie crumbs together and pour into the baking pan, Press the crumbs over the bottom until firm.
In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and salt at high speed until creamy and doubled in volume for about 5 minutes.
Add ricotta, mascarpone, rum, and lemon and orange zest. Mix on medium until smooth and fluffy, about another 2 minutes.
Put springform pan on a baking sheet and pour batter into the pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake until edges are set and lightly golden but the center is still a bit jiggly about 75 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for about one hour. With a thin metal spatula, go around the cake in the pan to keep it from sticking to the pan as it cools. Cover the pan and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Remove the cake from the pan and place it on a serving plate. Cover the top with powdered sugar and strawberries cut in half.
For the topping
3 slices bacon, diced
1/2 cup plain panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon black pepper
For the roasted cauliflower sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large head cauliflower, cored, cut into florets
1 teaspoon dried Italian herb blend
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
12-oz box spinach linguine (DeCecco)
For the cauliflower
Preheat oven to 450°F. Cover a baking sheet with foil.
In a bowl toss together the cauliflower florets, shallots, garlic, seasoning, salt, red pepper, and olive oil. Spread on the pan and bake for 15-20 minutes or until cauliflower is tender and browned.
For the topping
Cook bacon in a small skillet over medium-high heat until crispy, 5 to 7 minutes. Add panko and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until panko is well browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer panko mixture to bowl and stir in cheese.
For the pasta
Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain. Reserve ½ cup pasta cooking water.
Return the pot to low heat and add the cream, roasted cauliflower, pasta water, and cheese. Stir until heated through. Add cooked pasta and mix well. Turn the mixture out into a serving bowl and sprinkle with the bacon panko topping. Serve immediately.
1 Porterhouse or T-Bone Steak, 1-inch thick. at room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Mushroom Blue Cheese Sauce, recipe follows
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat a large ovenproof skillet over high heat for 5 minutes.
Coat both sides of the steak with steak seasoning. I use Montreal. When the pan is hot, add the steak and sear evenly for about 2 minutes per side.
Remove the pan from the heat and top with the butter, then place the pan in the oven. Cook the steak for 8 to 10 minutes to 120 degrees for rare and 125 degrees for medium-rare. Remove the steaks to a platter, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the bone and thinly slice the steak. Pour the mushroom sauce over the steak and serve.
I like to serve this steak recipe with baked potatoes and sauteed spinach.
Mushroom Blue Cheese Sauce
4 oz can of sliced mushrooms, drained
1 large shallot finely diced
1 teaspoon butter
Pinch of black pepper
1 tablespoon of crumbled blue cheese
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped chives
Melt the butter in a small skillet. Add the shallot, mushrooms, and pepper. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the cheese, sour cream, and chives and cook until warm.
A chewy pizza crust that can be made quickly with just basic pantry ingredients for when you are in a hurry. Makes 1 lb of pizza dough.
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 1/2 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
Stir in flour, salt, and oil. Beat until smooth. Let rest for 5 minutes.
Place the dough in an oiled pizza pan and press and stretch the dough to the edges of the pan.
Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
Place an oven rack on the bottom shelf of the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
After the dough has rested, add the toppings as indicated below.
Sausage and Peppers Topping
8 oz spicy Italian Sausage, cut into thin slices
1 lb small bell peppers, sliced thin
1 large onion sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
8 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
26 oz container strained or chopped Italian tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
Combine all the ingredients for the pizza sauce in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 30 minutes.
Preheat a large sauté pan on medium-high and place 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the pan, then add sausage and cook until browned about 6 minutes, stirring until no pink remains. Add the remaining ingredients and saute until the vegetables are tender.
Let stand 5 minutes to cool.
Top the rested dough with slices of mozzarella cheese, pizza sauce, peppers, onions, and sausage.
Bake the pizza on the bottom rack of the oven for 20–25 minutes or until the crust is golden, the cheese is melted, and the toppings are thoroughly heated. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.
Chicken Cordon Bleu Rolls
2 chicken breast cutlets
1/2 teaspoon onion powder, divided
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan
Salt/pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 thin slices deli ham
2 slices Gruyere/Swiss/Fontina cheese
Combine the panko crumbs, Parmesan, and 1/2 teaspoon onion powder. Set aside.
Melt butter in a bowl and mix with the oil. Set aside.
Pound each breast lightly to even out the slices.
Season each chicken piece with salt/pepper and the remaining onion powder.
Place a slice of ham and a slice of cheese on each breast.
Roll chicken making sure you tuck the sides in as much as possible.
Take the chicken rolls and dip them into the melted butter/oil…make sure all the sides are well coated and then roll them in the breadcrumbs/Parmesan mixture.
Place in a small greased baking dish.
Place in the refrigerator for at least an hour to ensure that the breadcrumbs stay put on the chicken).
Reheat any butter/oil mixture. Pour over the chicken rolls.
Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 30 minutes. Turn the broiler on and lightly brown the tops of the chicken rolls.
Baked Potato Kale Mash
I like to use baked potatoes instead of boiled ones because the baked potato flesh is drier and doesn’t disintegrate when recooked.
3 baking potatoes, about 2 ¼ lbs
2 bunches Tuscan kale (Lacinato)
1/4 cup Olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
Bake the potatoes in a 400 degree F oven until soft about 90 minutes. Cool.
Cut the potatoes in half and scoop out the flesh. Place in a serving bowl, add salt to taste, and mash. Set aside.
Save the potato skins for a Game Day appetizer.
Remove the kale leaves from their stems and wash well. Drain.
Place in a large pot with the oil, garlic, salt to taste and cook until tender.
Add the mashed potatoes, stir well, and heat for a few minutes until hot.
Adjust seasoning to taste.