Welcome to my world - a blend of passion, taste, and old-world traditions.

Benvenuti nel mio mondo - un mischio di passione, gusto e vecchie tradizioni.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Sustainable Eating - Means Branching Out

Changing one's eating habits is not easy. You need a diet that you can't "break" - one that's flexible enough to adapt to new changes.

Try a fruit or vegetable that you did not think you liked when it's in season or at its peak. I have seen people converted to foods from zucchini to asparagus just by tasting them freshly picked and simply prepared.

Pasta with Asparagus - Fettuccine con Asparagi

1 lb. thin asparagus
2 cloves of garlic chopped
4 ripe tomatoes or 1 can plum tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil for sauce
1/4 cup of olive oil to saute' asparagus
Salt and pepper
1/2 lb. fettuccine pasta

Cut asparagus into 1 inch pieces.  Throw away hard ends.
In a pan add 1/4 cup olive oil, add cut asparagus, salt and pepper and saute' for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until tender.
In a medium pot, add 3 tablespoons olive oil and chopped garlic. When garlic is golden, add tomatoes and simmer for approximately 15 minutes, add the asparagus, and simmer few more minutes.  Adjust salt and pepper.
In the meantime, bring water to a boil and cook the pasta and drain. Pour sauce with asparagus over pasta and serve.

Asparagus are not limited to fettuccine.  We also love them with rigatoni.

Sunday, January 31, 2016


Split pea is one of our favorite soups.  Who can resist the smoky flavor of the ham bone?   The flavor of salty pancetta adds a wonderful punch.

For the soup:
1 pound dried green split peas
Ham bone
Pancetta, diced, 1/4 cup
1 small onion, chopped

Leeks, chopped 1/2 cup
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 cups water

Rinse the dried split peas and place with cold water in a pot to soak overnight.

In a skillet heat pancetta and olive oil.  Add onion, carrots, celery and cook for 10 minutes or until soft.  Add to the peas.

Add ham bone and seasonings.  Cover and bring slowly to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer gently for 2 hours.

Remove the ham bone.  Strain and press the vegetables through sieve and add to liquid.

Remove any meat from ham bone and add to the hot soup.  Stir the soup to incorporate the peas and broth, taste, and adjust with salt and pepper as needed.

Add 1/2 cup of milk if desired.

Monday, December 28, 2015


I thought I would post my menu for New Year’s Eve!

I want it to be traditional but yet stylish and refined.

I like to start with an appetizer:

Smoked Salmon Salad

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  •  6 cups baby greens
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon
  • 1 tablespoon capers (optional)
Whisk oil and vinegar in small bowl to blend well. Season with salt and pepper.
Place greens in large bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat lightly. Place greens over a large plate.  Fold smoked salmon slices and arrange over greens . Drizzle more dressing over salmon. Sprinkle salmon with capers. Garnish salad with red onion.

Lentil Soup

Pancetta or Cotechino may be substituted for the ham.

Stuffed breast of Veal - Punta di Vitello farcita


1 1/2 lb. Veal belly or breast
4 eggs
1/2 cup grana padano cheese or alternate
2 cups cooked spinach
1/3 lb. speck or prosciutto
Sprig of rosemary
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper


With the eggs, cheese and some of the black pepper make an omelet and save.

Flatten the veal belly with meat pounder, cover with speck or prosciutto, add the omelet and finish with the chopped spinach.  Roll and tie with butcher's string.

Place the veal roll into a roasting pan.  Add salt and pepper, sprig of rosemary, wine and the rest of the olive oil.  Bake in a 325 degree preheated oven for 2 hours.

I believe I came up with a menu which is both tasteful and easy to make.  What do you think?


    Saturday, December 19, 2015

    Christmas Eve Traditional Dinner at Our Home

    According to family tradition, on Christmas Eve, our dinner includes “lean” dishes. In fact, the main ingredients are fish and vegetables, foods rich in vitamins and minerals, in addition to being lightweight and good for you. The only exception are those fried desserts (scrippelle, caggionetti) , that absolutely one cannot do without.

    Here is the menu we enjoy with family at home, awaiting the midnight arrival of Christmas.
    Buon Appetito!

    Pasta with Clams - (Linguini con vongole)

    Fried Fish -(Pesce fritto)

    Stuffed Squid (Calamari ripieni)

    Broccoli di Rape

    Stuffed Baby Artichokes - (Carciofi ripieni ) (See below for recipe)

    Stuffed Baby Artichokes
    All photo Copyright - ©2010 - La Casa e Il Giardino - picasaweb

    I love baby artichokes because with just a little trimming you can eat the whole thing. Unlike fully mature artichokes, baby artichokes haven’t developed the fuzzy portion of the choke in the center. Baby artichokes are a seasonal size and availability does vary throughout the year, but the month of May is the peak volume month for this size artichoke.


    9 or 10 baby artichokes
    1/2 cup olive oil + 2 tablespoons for sauteing artichokes
    2 cups of water
    2 cloves of garlic, sliced
    Sprig of parsley
    1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (optional)
    1 tablespoon red pepper conserve or tomato paste

    2 cups day-old bread crumbs
    2 eggs, slightly beaten
    1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino
    1 tablespoon chopped parsley
    2 cloves chopped garlic
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper

    Start by rinsing and brushing off the baby artichokes under cold water.

    Then, snap off the outer layer of petals of the baby artichoke until you reach the pale, yellow-green layer of petals. With a sharp kitchen knife, trim off the stem and remove the rest of the dark green stem that can cause a bitter taste if not removed.  Cut about one half inch off the top of the baby artichoke.  Place artichokes in water with some lemon juice to prevent them from darkening.

    Prepare stuffing by combining all ingredients and mix well. 
    Drain artichokes and stuff them.

    Take a small skillet, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Briefly saute' artichokes face down until the stuffing gets golden, and remove.

    In a large pot, add 2 cups of water, 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 cloves of garlic, salt, black pepper, teaspoon of hot pepper flakes (optional), and 1 tablespoon of pepper conserve (alternate tomato paste).  Bring ingredients to a boil, add the stuffed artichokes, cover and simmer for 1 hour.  Taste for tenderness of outer leaves. 

    Stuffed artichokes

    Traditional Christmas desserts


    Tuesday, September 22, 2015

    Game at the Farmers' Markets

    Farmers' markets are an unparalleled source of fresh, local, organic produce and meats.  They can be pricey, though.  So, I time my shopping and go towards the end of the day or in the last hour or so of the market's schedule, when some farmers drop their prices.

    Short on money, you can still eat well.

    Escarole - Cost 3 heads for $2.00

    Great for escarole and beans and for salads.

    Yellow, Green and Gray Zucchini - Cost $2.50

    Eggplant - $2.00

     Last Jersey tomatoes of the season - Cost $4.50

    Ciambella (round) crusty bread - Cost $2.99

    I will savour these last local tomatoes as I do not buy tomatoes during the winter months.

    Personalized pumpkin for my favorite Yankee fan.


    Sunday, September 13, 2015

    Barley and Vegetable Soup - Minestra di Verdure e Orzo

         Barley: a nutritional powerhouse

    As cereal grains go, barley is a winner when it comes to good nutrition. This centuries-old grain is packed with fiber, contains important vitamins and minerals, is slim on fat, and, like all plant products, cholesterol-free. Due to its mineral contents (magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and iron), it is high on energy,  facilitates concentration and cerebral activity and it's very digestible.

    Today, I am suggesting this simple dish with barley and vegetables as a base.

    Barley and Vegetable Soup - Minestra di Verdure e Orzo

    1 cup uncooked pearl barley (orzo perlato)
    4 cups of water or vegetable broth
    1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    1 cup chopped leek (about 1 large)
    2 small zucchini
    2 carrots
    Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

    Firstly, place barley in water for an hour and then wash thoroughly.  Chop all vegetables in small cubes. 
    Heat 1/2 of the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add carrots, zucchini, and leek; cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add barley, salt, and pepper; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add 4 cups of water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Drizzle the remaining oil and stir in some Parmigiano-Reggiano.

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

    Seafood Extravaganza - Estravaganza di Pesce

    This Labor Day weekend we had a seafood feast and we sent summer out with a bang. 

    No, it was not a clambake.  We did not have the pleasure of eating on the beach within the sound of ocean waves, but simply a feast in our own backyard shared with friends and family.

    Anchovies alla Ligure

    1 1/2 lb. fresh anchovies
    1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
    1 red onion minced
    1 cup crushed tomatoes
    1 can of pitted black olives

    Clean and fillet anchovies.  Chop onion.  In a baking pan, lightly oiled, put the onion.  Add the anchovies in a single layer.  Cover them with tomato and olives.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 15 to 20  minutes.  Leave to rest and serve lukewarm.

    All photos - Copyright - ©2011 - La Casa e Il Giardino – picasaweb
    Acciughe alla Ligure

    Stuffed Mussels alla Pugliese

    2 lb. mussels, rinsed and debearded
    1 cup of tomato pulp
    1/2 cup breadcrumbs
    1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
    2 cloves of minced garlic
    1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    basil and parsley minced
    salt and black pepper to taste

    Cozze Farcite alla Pugliese

    In a pot, add the mussels with a little water, cover and cook for 10 minutes on high heat.  Eliminate the shells without the mussels.  Puree' the tomato pulp with the oil, cheese, breadcrumbs.  Add the basil and parsley.  Add black pepper and minimal salt.  Distribute the mixture over each of the mussel.  Place the stuffed mussels in a baking pan with a few tablespoons of water at the bottom and bake them in a preheated oven for 10 minutes.

    Clams with Garlic, Parsley and Peperoncino

       24 littleneck clams, scrubbed
        2 cloves of garlic
        1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
        1/2 cup chopped parsley
        2 small red peperoncini

    Clams with garlic, parsley and peperoncino

    Place the clams in a pot and cover with water and salt for a minimum of 2 hours in order to remove the sand.

    In a small pot heat the olive oil.  Add the minced garlic and chopped peperoncino and cook until the garlic is lightly brown about 1 minute.  Add the clams, cover and simmer until the clams open.  Discard any clams that don't open.  Add chopped parsley.

    Serve with toasted bread.