Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Ham

Springtime means ham and lamb in the meat department. They are often on sale now in the market or from your local farm. Ham is always a good buy and supplies plenty of leftovers for several meals. Spring also brings us lots of new vegetables and fruits, so I look forward to using them and developing new recipes with them. I am especially taken with my newly discovered rutabagas. They are very similar to potatoes but contain many less carbs. I decided to try making my potato salad recipe with them and it turned out very well and so delicious. Fennel is also in season and there are so many good ways to prepare it, either cooked or raw. Try out some new vegetables this week and see how you like them.

Glazed Spiral-Sliced Ham


1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup apricot jam
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
5 lb Spiral Cut Fully Cooked Ham


Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Place the ham cut side down onto a sheet of aluminum foil. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Mix together the brown sugar, apricot jam and mustard in a small bowl. Brush half of the glaze onto the ham using a pastry brush.

Reserve the remaining glaze. Enclose the foil around the ham and place on a rimmed baking sheet also covered with foil (for easy cleanup).

Roast for 75 minutes in the preheated oven, or if your ham is a different size, figure 15 minutes per pound.

Take the ham out of the oven, pull the foil away and brush the remaining glaze onto the ham.

Place the ham back in the oven without enclosing it in the foil.

Bake 15-20 minutes more or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest portion registers 140°F. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Rutabaga “Potato Style” Salad

6 servings


1 ½ lbs rutabaga or red potatoes, peeled
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pickle juice
1/4 cup minced bread and butter pickles
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion or scallions
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and black pepper to taste


Cut the rutabaga or potato into thin slices, about 1 x 1 inch, or cut the vegetables into cubes if you prefer that cut.

Place the rutabaga in a large pot with a lid. Cover with cold water and add 1 teaspoon salt.

Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook with the lid ajar about 15-20 minutes until the rutabaga is fork tender.

Drain and place the rutabaga in a medium serving bowl. Add the pickle juice and let sit at room temperature for an hour or so.

Add the remaining ingredients, mix well and taste to see if the salad needs salt.

Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for several hours before serving.

Sprinkle the top with some chopped parsley and a little paprika, if you would like to garnish the salad before serving it.

Fennel Salad With Avocado Dressing

2 servings


2 plum tomatoes, cut into wedges
1/4 of a large fennel bulb, cut into one inch cubes
2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Avocado Dressing, see link 


Combine the tomatoes, fennel, onion and pine nuts in a medium serving bowl. Add a few tablespoons of dressing to the top of the salad.

Serve with the remaining Avocado dressing on the side.


Inviting friends for lunch is a relaxing and easy way to entertain. The menu can be a few simple combinations that can be prepared ahead of time and assembled just before your guests arrive. This will give you plenty of time to spend with your guests. No fancy desserts needed. I usually just serve fruit.

Creamy Mushroom Soup

As made below, the soup will be a great menu choice for your friends who eat a vegan or vegetarian diet. Walnuts and dried mushrooms are used to thicken this soup without flour. However, if you would like it to be even creamier and non-vegan, add 1 cup of heavy cream.


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz dried morel mushrooms
4 oz dried chanterelle mushrooms
4 oz sliced cremini or button mushrooms
1 onion, diced
2 shallots, minced
½ cup diced celery
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup dry sherry
8 cups vegetable broth
1½ cups chopped walnuts
½ teaspoon ground pepper
2 tablespoons sliced fresh chives


In a medium Dutch Oven or large saucepan, place the dried mushrooms and cover with 5 cups of water. Cover the pan and bring the water to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mushroom rest in the water for 30 minutes. Drain. Rinse out the pan.

Heat the oil in the pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, shallots, celery, garlic, thyme and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the soaked dried mushroom and sherry; increase heat to high and simmer, stirring often, until the sherry has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the broth, pepper and walnuts. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.Remove the pot from the stove. Puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender or in a regular blender (in batches, if necessary) until very smooth. Return the pot to the heat. Add the fresh cremini mushroom and simmer the soup for 20 minutes more. Serve the soup topped with chives.

Creamy Avocado Dressing

If you would like a thinner dressing, add up to a 1/2 cup of water.


3 ripe medium avocados, peel and pit removed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried
2 tablespoons honey or sweetener of choice


Place all the dressing ingredients in a high-powered blender or food processor.
Process until completely smooth.
Use as a dressing over salad or serve as a dip. Great on tomatoes.

Salad Plate

Any of the following ingredients can be arranged in an attractive way on individual salad plates.
All these ingredients are delicious with the Avocado Dressing.

Soft greens/lettuces to line the plates
Sliced Pears, dipped in lemon juice
Sliced cooked beets
Sliced cooked hard-boiled eggs
Celery sliced on the diagonal
Red onion, sliced thin
Thin strips of baked ham or turkey
Thinly sliced plum tomatoes
Radishes, sliced thin
Toasted pistachio nuts or any toasted nuts

Roasted Pumpkin Soup


1 medium cooking pumpkin, about 3 ½ – 4 cups roasted pumpkin flesh
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup chopped leeks
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable stock
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 ½ cups whole milk
1-2 teaspoons honey
Chopped chives for garnish


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet with sides.

Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds. Fill the pumpkin wells half way with water and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Place in the oven and roast until tender, about 45 minutes. Cool and then scrape out the pumpkin into a bowl. Set aside,

Pour the olive oil into a Dutch Oven and heat over medium-high heat.

Add leeks, celery and garlic; cook and stir until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the pumpkin, broth, pepper, salt and spices. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat.

Process with a hand immersion blender in the saucepan or transfer half of the pumpkin mixture to a blender or food processor; cover and blend or process until smooth. Repeat with the remaining half of the pumpkin mixture. Return all of the pureed mixture to saucepan.

Stir in the milk and heat through, but do not boil. Stir in enough of the honey to sweeten the mixture to taste.

Serve warm garnished with chopped chives. Makes 6 (3/4-cup) servings.

Glazed Ham

Don’t forget to save the bone for soup.


6 lb ready-to-eat, cooked ham, bone-in, uncut (NOT spiral cut), shank end or butt end
1/2 cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon country whole seed mustard


Heat the oven to 325° F.

Place the ham, fat side up, in a roasting pan.

Bake the ham for about 20 minutes per pound, about 2 hours for a 6 lb ham, or until an instant read meat thermometer registers at least 140° F (60° C), the safe minimum temperature for a fully cooked ham.

In a medium bowl whisk together the apricot preserves, brown sugar, apple cider, mustard and thyme.

About 30 minutes before the ham is done, spoon the glaze over the entire ham.

Cover the ham loosely with foil and let it stand for 15 minutes before carving and serving.

Rutabaga Gratin

You can also put this dish in the oven with the ham at the lower temperature to cook the two dishes at the same time. Put the gratin in the oven when the ham has an hour and a half of cooking time remaining.

Servings: 6-8


2 pound rutabaga (peeled, thinly sliced)
1 cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces


Coat a 7×11 or an 8×12 baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the sliced rutabaga in a saucepan and cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil.

Cook for 3 minutes in the boiling water, drain and set aside.

Combine the cream, garlic powder, thyme, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper with a whisk.

Pour one-third of the cream into the bottom of the baking dish.

Place a layer of rutabaga slices on top, followed by one-third of the cheese. Dot with one-third of the butter.

Continue to layer ending with a layer of cheese.

Bake in a preheated 350F/180C oven until bubbling on the sides and golden brown on top, about 30-40 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cover loosely with foil to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Sautéed Green Cabbage Steaks


1 small head green cabbage
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
Celery seed for garnish


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Immerse the whole head of cabbage in the boiling water until the outer leaves begin to loosen.

Remove the cabbage from the water and drain. Cut the stem end off and carefully peel away as many outer leaves as will come off easily, usually 8 to 12 leaves will be large enough for stuffing. Reserve those leaves for another use.

Cut the remaining cabbage in half and cut two half-inch thick slices from the cabbage halves.

Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage steaks, sprinkle with half the salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes.

Turn the cabbage steaks over with a wide spatula, sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes more.

Sprinkle lightly with celery seed and serve.

Cosenza is a province in the Calabria region of Italy. The province, one of the very few in Italy with coastlines along two different seas, includes the beautiful Sila mountains with their 3 lakes, Cecita-Mucone, Arvo and Ampollino and the Pollino National Park, founded in 1993.

Cosenza’s roots go back to early man. The province was conquered by the Normans, Saracens, Byzantines and the Spanish. The rich history is reflected in their architecture and their culture. Roman ruins, ancient castles, Norman towers and festivals, like the Montalto Uffugo’s Saracen Festival, mesh the past with the present.

Heinrich Leutemann (1824-1904) "The burial of Alaric in the bed of the Busentinus"

Heinrich Leutemann (1824-1904) “The burial of Alaric in the bed of the Busentinus”

An ancient legend exists in the province dating back to 410 AD about King Alaric, King of the conquering Visigoths. The legend states that once the King conquered Rome, he headed south, conquering and collecting treasures. Once he reached where the Crati river and the Bucenta river met, he died suddenly. These rivers meet in the heart of Cosenza. It is said that his soldiers, along with the help of slaves, buried the King under the river, along with his horse and the treasures, by redirecting the river long enough to build the tomb. His troops then killed all the slaves so no one would know where the treasure was buried.



In the centuries after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, several towns in the Cosenza province refused to acknowledge the new government of the Visigoths. Instead, they built strong city walls and small garrisons to hold out for centuries as semi-independent enclaves until the invasion of the Germanic Lombards in the 560s. In 1500, in spite of resistance, Cosenza was occupied by the Spanish army. In 1707 the Austrians succeeded the Spanish in the Kingdom of Naples, followed by occupation by the Bourbons. From 1806 to 1815, Cosenza fought hard against French domination. In 1860, Calabria became part of the new Kingdom of Italy.


The province contains the Cosentian Academy, the second academy of philosophical and literary studies to be founded in the Kingdom of Naples (1511) and one of the oldest in Europe. To this day, the area remains a cultural hub with several museums, theaters, libraries and the University of Calabria.

The cuisine has been greatly influenced by past conquerors. The Arabs brought oranges, lemons, raisins, artichokes and eggplant and the Cistercian monks introduced new agricultural practices and dairy products.

Tomatoes are sun-dried, octopi are pickled, anchovies salted and peppers and eggplant are packed into jars of oil and vinegar.

The south Italy, Calabria, locale food - soft sausage nduja, peper, tomato, cheese

Soft sausage nduja, chili peppers, tomato, cheese

The chili pepper is popular here and is crushed in oil and placed on the table with every meal to sprinkle over your food. The chili was once considered to be a cure for malaria which probably accounts for its extensive use in this region.


The cuisine is a balance between meat-based dishes (pork, lamb, goat), vegetables (especially eggplant) and fish. Pasta (as in Central Italy and the rest of Southern Italy) is also very important.

Some specialties include Caciocavallo Cheese, Cipolla rossa di Tropea (red onion), Frìttuli and Curcùci (fried pork), Liquorice, Lagane e Cicciari (a pasta dish with chickpeas), Pecorino Crotonese (Sheep’s milk cheese) and Pignolata (a soft pastry covered in chocolate and lemon flavored icing).


Recipes To Make From Cosenza


Pickled Eggplant

Serve with Calabrian Bread


2 large eggplants, peeled and cut into slices
1/8 cup of salt
2 roasted oil-packed Calabrian chilies, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh oregano, minced or 1 teaspoon dried
3 tablespoons of white vinegar
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper to taste


Salt the cut eggplant and let it set for 1 hour.

Rinse the eggplant thoroughly under cold water.

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the eggplant for 4 to 5 minutes until tender.

Lay the slices out on a towel to dry.

In a medium size bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, chili peppers, garlic, oregano and pepper.

Place one layer of the eggplant on a plate and drizzle some of the oil mixture on top.

Place another layer on top and repeat until all the eggplant is used up.

Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hour and serve chilled.


Pane Calabrese


1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Olive oil
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water


In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast with a quarter cup of the lukewarm water. Pour into a large bowl.

Mix in the flour, sugar, salt, and remaining lukewarm water and mix in until a dough starts to form. If too sticky, add a bit more flour.

Turn out onto a flat surface and knead for 6-8 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

Put the dough into an oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with a thick towel, and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, divide in half and shape into 2 oblong loaves about a foot long each. The bread can also be shaped into a ring.

Put the loaves on cookie sheets sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover and let rise again for 40 minutes. Loaves will double in width.

In a small dish, beat the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of water. Make 3 slits in the top of the risen bread, a quarter of an inch deep. Brush with the egg wash and put the cookie sheets in the oven.

Bake for 10 minutes at 425°F Then lower the heat to 400  degrees F and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes, until golden and baked through.


Lagane E Cicciari

Lagane is a flat, wide, fettuccine-like fresh pasta


2 cups all-purpose flour
Dash of salt
1/2 cup of water


Add the salt to the flour and mix well.

Slowly add the water and knead the dough for about 10 minutes.

Form the dough into a ball, cover it loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

Roll the dough on a floured surface, using a rolling-pin to form a circle about 1/4 inch thick.

Continue to roll and thin the pasta. (Cutting the circle in half will make it easier to handle.)

Roll the dough to form a long log

With a sharp knife, cut the roll into 1/4 inch strips.

Unroll the strips and lay them on a clean, flat surface.

Cook as directed below.

Chickpea Sauce


2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, coarsely chopped
One 15 ounce can chickpeas, undrained
One 14 oz can chopped Italian tomatoes, undrained
8 ounces lagane (recipe above) or broken lasagna noodles


In a small saucepan, combine the garlic, oil, red pepper flakes and rosemary.

Over low heat, cook the garlic until it begins to brown.

Add the chickpeas with all of their liquid and the tomatoes.

Simmer gently, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Boil the pasta in at least 3 quarts of water with 1 heaping tablespoon of salt for 2-3 minutes if fresh pasta or longer for dried.

Just before the pasta is done, remove about half the chickpeas to a bowl and mash them with a potato masher or with an immersion blender. Return the mashed chickpeas to the sauce

When the pasta is done. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and then drain the pasta.

Combine the pasta with the chickpea sauce in a large serving bowl. Toss well. Add a little of the reserved pasta cooking water if the pasta is too dry. (It should not be soupy, however.)

Serve very hot with either olio santo (hot pepper oil) or extra-virgin olive oil to drizzle over the top.


Galletto alla Diavola (Devil’s Chicken)


1 whole chicken, cut up
2 eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon mustard
Olive oil
1 carrot, minced
1 red onion, minced
1 3/4 oz uncooked ham (capocollo), finely chopped
1 cup white wine
1 cup dry Marsala wine


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Mix the eggs with the salt and pepper and mustard.

Dip each chicken piece into the egg mixture, then coat with breadcrumbs.

Grease a baking dish with a little olive oil and then add the chicken pieces.

Pour a little bit of olive oil over the chicken pieces and bake for 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the thickest piece reaches 165 degrees.

In a skillet cook the carrot in oil with the onion and ham.

Season with salt and pepper, then add the white wine and Marsala.

Reduce the heat and let simmer until thickened.

Let the chicken rest for a few minutes, then pour the sauce over and serve.



This past week my husband celebrated his birthday. It is tradition in our family that the person celebrating their birthday gets to request their favorite foods for dinner. My husband asked for ham, one of his favorites, that I rarely make because I am not a fan. But it was his birthday. Friends who were celebrating with us, were happy with his choice. We were so busy celebrating that I forgot to take photos of the dishes when they came out of the oven. You will just have to use your imagination. The birthday menu is below and includes his favorite cake.

First Course – Celery Bisque

You can view the recipe in a previous post – see the link.

Glazed Ham

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place an oven rack on the bottom shelf of the oven.

Place an 8 lb. bone in, spiral cut ham in a roasting pan.

Score shallow cuts in a diamond pattern the fat on the top of the ham. Place whole cloves in the ham where the diamond cuts intersect.

Bake the ham for one hour.

Mix 1/4 cup of orange marmalade with 1/4 cup brown sugar and 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard in a small mixing bowl.

Remove the ham from the oven. Attach pineapple slices to the outside of the ham with toothpicks. Brush the glaze on the ham and pineapple.

Return the ham to the oven and cook for another hour or until the internal temperature of the ham registers 140 degree F. Let stand 20 minutes before slicing.


Scalloped Potatoes

Place the potato casserole in the oven with the ham, after the ham has baked for 30 minutes.


4 (about 2 lbs) baking potatoes, thinly sliced
1 small onion, sliced into thin rounds
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups half & half or cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 dash cayenne pepper
8 oz grated Gruyère cheese


Use the butter to grease a 9 x 12 inch baking dish. Place a half of the sliced potatoes into the dish. Top with all the sliced onion. Sprinkle the potatoes and onions with half the salt and pepper.

Top with half the cheese. Repeat with a second layer of potatoes, salt and pepper. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese. Pour in the cream. Sprinkle with some paprika for color. Cover the dish with foil.

Bake covered at 350°F. for 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake the casserole for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender

Orange Broccoli Sauté with Almonds

Serves: 4


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 crushed garlic clove
4 cups broccoli florets
2 teaspoons orange zest and 1 tablespoon orange juice from 1 orange
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon slivered almonds


Heat a deep skillet over medium-low heat. Add the almonds and toast lightly. Remove to a plate.

Add the oil and garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the broccoli, salt, pepper, orange zest, orange juice and sauté with the olive oil and garlic mixture until the broccoli turns bright green and becomes tender.

Remove from the skillet, sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve.


Italian Rum Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Coat the bottoms of two 9 inch round cake pans with cooking spray and cut parchment paper into circles to fit the bottom of the baking pans. Spray again. Set aside.


For the layer cake:

1 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature and soft
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups milk
1 cup finely ground hazelnuts (almonds or pecans can be used if you cannot find hazelnuts)
1/4 cup light rum

For the cake filling:

1 cup Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread or other chocolate cake filling)
8 oz. Mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

For the topping:

2 cups heavy cream (whipping cream)
1 cup powdered sugar
¼ cup rum
Shaved chocolate


For the layer cake:

In an electric mixer beat together the sugar, butter and vanilla for 5 minutes.

Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.

In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

Add the flour to the sugar mixture alternating with the milk. Repeat until all the flour and milk are incorporated; end with flour.

Stir nuts in on low-speed.

Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Do not over-bake or the cake will be dry. Cool 10 minutes and remove layers to a cooling rack and carefully peel off the paper. Cool thoroughly.

Drizzle each of the layers with the rum and let sit for a while to absorb the rum.

For the filling:

Beat together the Nutella and the Mascarpone cheese until very smooth.

For the topping:

Whip the cream until very stiff. Add powdered sugar and blend. Add rum on low-speed until incorporated.

To assemble:

Cover one cake layer with filling and place on a cake plate. Place the unfrosted layer on top. Completely cover the cake with the whipped cream mixture.

Chill in the refrigerator for several hours. Just before serving, decorate the cake with chocolate shavings.


This coming weekend is Memorial Day and the official start of BBQ season. That means lots of ribs, burgers, steaks, kebabs and corn on the cob. If you are going to invite friends over, it will take some planning. What if you are not in the mood for cooking for lots of folks this weekend? Well don’t. You can still have that BBQ shindig, but for just 2 or 3. This is what we will be having at our Memorial Day BBQ.

Grilled Ham Steak with Pear Topping


For Two

I am not a huge fan of ham steak, but my husband is, so over the years I have worked on making ham steaks taste good. I learned that to make the meat tender, it is important to marinate the steaks overnight. To avoid a dry end result, cook them quickly on the grill and make a flavorful topping. Here is my recipe and it works for us.

Ham Marinade


  • Juice of one orange – (save the orange rind for the braised carrot recipe below)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 fully cooked boneless ham steak (1- 3/4 pounds)

Pear Topping

IMG_0002 (2)

  • 1 Bartlett pear, cored and diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ cup of pecans


In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the marinade ingredients. Add ham; seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate overnight.

Heat an outdoor grill. Brush the grates with oil

On a sheet of heavy-duty foil large enough to hold the diced pears, place the diced pears and pecans in the center of the foil. Dot with the butter and sprinkle on the brown sugar and ginger.

Close the foil into a package and place on the grill  Cook for 10 minutes before placing the ham on the grill.

Drain the ham from the marinade and reserve the marinade. Rotate the pear packet on the grill.

Grill the ham steak over medium-hot heat for 3 minutes on each side, basting frequently with the reserved marinade.

Remove the pear packet and spoon the pear sauce over the ham.

Cheddar Cornbread



  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons butter


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking soda, salt and pepper; make a well in center of flour mixture.

Whisk together the  buttermilk, honey and eggs. Add to the flour mixture and gently incorporate the dry ingredients. Mix in the cheese.

Place the butter in an 8-inch baking pan and place the pan in the oven until the butter melts. Remove the pan from oven and tilt to coat bottom and sides.

Pour the batter into the buttered pan and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.

Let cornbread cool 15 minutes before cutting.

Braised Carrots and Fennel


Serves 4


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ¾ lb carrots (1 fresh bunch; about 6 or 7) – cut into matchsticks
  • 1 fennel bulb – ends trimmed, bulb cut in half, each half cored and cut lengthwise in 1/8″ slices
  • 2 strips of orange zest – 1″ x 4″ long
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds – crushed in a mortar
  • 5 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill



Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Add the butter, olive oil and honey. Stir well and add the carrots, fennel, orange zest and fennel seeds.

Toss until the slices are well coated with the oil. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until the fennel starts to soften, tossing occasionally.

Add the orange juice, salt and pepper. Toss quickly and reduce heat to between medium and medium-low. Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Uncover the pan. Raise heat to high and fast-simmer until the juices have all evaporated, about 5 minutes. Remove orange zest and stir in the dill.

Lemon Coconut Cupcakes


20 cupcakes



  • 18.5 oz pkg. Lemon Supreme cake mix
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature and very soft
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • Cupcake liners

Coconut Topping

This frosting is very stable and does not melt or weep at room temperature like many standard whipped cream frostings or change in any way under refrigeration.

  • One 8 oz pkg low-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2 cups cold heavy (whipping) cream
  • Sweetened shredded coconut


Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Coat muffin cups with cooking spray and place a cupcake liner in each.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cake ingredients. Then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Using an ice cream scoop fill the muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake 15 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove them to a wire rack. Cool completely before frosting.


To make the frosting

Combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar and coconut extract in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.

Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on medium speed until smooth.

While the mixture is still whipping, slowly pour in the heavy cream. Stop and scrape the bottom of the bowl a couple of times, while you continue whipping until the cream can hold a stiff peak.

Spread each cupcake generously with the frosting and top each with sweetened coconut. Press the coconut lightly, so it sticks to the frosting. Chill until serving time.


Tradition is important in the Italian-American culture. Second only to Christmas Eve in the way of Italian-American traditions, Easter is a big holiday and, as such, it is centered around food—as most Italian-American celebrations are. From Easter breads and ricotta pies to roasted lamb and asparagus, there are numerous dishes on the Italian American table. Here are some recipes for just a few of them.

Pizza Rustica


Also, called Easter Pie. There are as many recipes for this dish as there are Italians. Most pies contain ricotta cheese, eggs and some type of Italian meat. Italian Americans love to make this pie for their family members.  I remember vividly, my father visiting his family at Easter time and coming home with pies made for him by his sisters and sisters-in-law. It twas a bit overwhelming.

Pastry Crust

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons icy water as needed


Put the flour and salt into a food processor bowl fitted with a metal blade. Pulse to mix the dry ingredients.

Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes and drop them onto the flour and pulse the machine in short bursts about 10 times. The mixture should be crumbly.

Put in the eggs and pulse a few times to mix the eggs into the dry ingredients.

Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of water on top of the dough. Pulse 6 times for just a second or two. The dough should resemble cottage cheese. Pick up some dough and press it together. If it doesn’t hold together, add another teaspoon of water until it does.

Scrape the dough onto a floured board and knead together just to form a smooth, tight dough.

Form a flat disc and wrap the dough in plastic. Refrigerate for a few hours before using.


  • 32 oz. ricotta, drained
  • 2 eggs
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup grated Pecorino cheese
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella cut in a ½ inch dice
  • 4 oz diced Prosciutto di Parma
  • 4 oz sopressata cut into ½ inch dice
  • 1 cooked sweet Italian sausage link (4 oz.) cut into ½ inch cubes
  • Egg Wash (1 egg beaten with one tablespoon of water)


In a large bowl combine the ricotta, Pecorino, pepper and eggs.

Add the mozzarella, prosciutto, sopressata and sausage and mix well into the cheese mixture.

To Assemble the Pizza Rustica

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Butter and flour a 9 inch springform pan or a 9 inch deep dish pie pan.

Cut off 1/3 of the dough and set aside.

With a rolling-pin, roll out the remaining pastry dough to about 15 inches in diameter. It should be about 1/8 inch thick.

Flour the board and top of the dough to avoid the dough from sticking.

Place the dough in the pan and pat the dough to cover the bottom and sides. If the dough breaks just patch it.

Pour in the ricotta mixture.

Tap the pan on the board to ensure the filling settles.

Roll out the remaining piece of dough into a 12-inch round. (You can also cut the dough for the top into lattice strips.)

Place the dough over the filling. Pinch the edges of the dough together to seal, then crimp the dough edges decoratively.

Brush the egg wash over the entire pastry top. Bake on the bottom shelf until the crust is golden brown, about 1 hour.

Let stand 15 minutes. Release the pan sides and transfer the pizza to a platter. Cut into wedges and serve.


Spring Minestrone


4 servings


  • 12 ounces ground chicken
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 large egg, whisked
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 leek, white and pale-green parts only, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 6 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup orzo or ditalini or other small pasta
  • 1 cup 1/2-inch rounds of peeled carrots
  • 1 cup (packed) baby spinach
  • Chopped fresh parsley


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix chicken, bread crumbs, 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, 2 minced garlic cloves, chives, egg, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl.

Form into 1/2-inch-diameter meatballs (I uses a melon ball scoop). Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper and place the meatballs on the pan.

Bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the sliced leek to the pot and cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes.

Add the remaining garlic; cook for 1 minute. Add broth and 2 cups water; bring to a boil.

Stir in pasta and carrots;turn heat to low and simmer about 8 minutes.

Add meatballs; simmer until pasta is al dente and the carrots are tender, about 3 minutes.

Add spinach and remaining 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese; stir until spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with chopped parsley and additional Parmesan, if desired.

Spinach Lasagna


For the white sauce

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • Salt & Pepper


In a medium saucepan melt butter over moderately low heat. Stir in flour and cook the roux, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add milk in a steady stream and bring mixture to a boil, whisking until thick and smooth.

Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer sauce over low heat, whisking occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes, or until thickened. Transfer sauce to a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap.

Cheese Filling


  • 32 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1-10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  • 1 lb.mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
  • White sauce, recipe above
  • 12parboiled spinach lasagna noodles


Mix the ricotta with the spinach and the remaining filling ingredients together until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the lasagna.

Completing the Lasagna

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Oil a 13 x 9 inch glass baking dish.

Spread about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of the dish and place a layer of noodles on top.

Spread one-third of the sliced mozzarella cheese on top of the pasta and then one-third of the ricotta cheese mixture over the mozzarella; top with another 1 cup of sauce.

Repeat the layers twice, then top with a layer of noodles. Spread 1 cup of sauce over the top layer of pasta.

Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes longer.  Let stand 15 minutes before cutting. Sprinkle the top with extra parsley for color.

Italian Baked Ham



  • 3 tablespoons rosemary, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 jar fig jam
  • 1 large ham (8 to 10-pounds bone-in, spiral cut or 4- to 5-pound boneless)


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a rack on top.

In a small mixing bowl, mix together the rosemary, garlic, lemon zest and juice and olive oil.

Set the ham on the rack and rub the ham with the rosemary mixture. Season with salt and pepper and cover with foil.

In a small pot, heat the fig jam with a couple of tablespoons of water.

Bake the ham for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and glaze the ham with the fig jam.

Continue brushing the ham with the glaze every 15-20 minutes with a pastry brush, for another hour or until heated through.

If the ham starts to get too brown, loosely cover it with foil. Let rest 15 minutes before slicing.

Easter Lamb Cake



  • 1 pkg store-bought pound cake mix
  • 1 cup water (use 1/4 cup less than the package directions-my cake mix calls for 1 1/4 cups of water)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • Whipped Cream Frosting, recipe below
  • 1 lamb mold


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Prepare the lamb mold by coating it with vegetable oil. Let sit for a few minutes then wipe clean with a paper towel.

Then grease (use a solid shortening) and flour the lamb mold, making sure to get all the creases.

Place the front of the mold on a baking sheet.

Prepare the cake batter according to the cake mix directions.

Fill the mold to the top for the front of the cake, do not fill the back side of the mold.

Place the back of the mold on the front and place the baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the cake tests done. (Test with toothpick through a vent hole in the mold.)

Remove the mold from the oven, wait 10 minutes and remove the back of body mold.

Stand the cake up and gently remove the front of the mold. Have clean towels rolled up and ready to support the head of the cake, while placing a rolled up towel in back of the cake to support the that part also.

Place a dab of icing on a plate and stand the cake in an upright position. Frost and decorate with jelly beans, raisins, cherries, or chocolate chips for the eyes and nose.

(Best results cool cake in the refrigerator before frosting, this makes a firmer surface for the icing.)  Place green tinted coconut around the base of the lamb; add jelly beans and a colorful bow at the neck, if desired.

Whipped Cream Frosting

This is a great whipped cream recipe because it does not weep after it sits on the cake.


  • 1 (8 ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream


Combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract and almond extract in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a electric stand mixer. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on medium speed until smooth.

While the mixture is still whipping, slowly pour in the heavy cream. Stop and scrape the bottom of the bowl a couple of times while you continue whipping until the cream can hold a stiff peak.

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