Engaging stories of love, joy, comfort and friendship with proven scrumptious, healthy recipes, we celebrate LOVE as the secret ingredient for wonderful food!

After the move.

We did it!!

We moved our offices on Thursday. Two trucks and 400 boxes later, we are in our new space in TriBeCa. We finished at 2:30 am on Friday morning. It’s going to be great but right now, my hands hurt so much I’ve been coating them with hand cream followed by a thick coating of Vaseline, and wearing an old pair of my Aunt Lu’s white gloves from the 50’s to sleep in. (Not exactly sexy since I also like to wear a pair of white socks because my feet get so cold – oh well!) My Mom always said that this was the best bet to treat badly damaged hands AND keep your sheets clean. Only now I think I’m going to have to start with some Neosporin on the cuticles first, then the rest of the program.

It is truly amazing how much stuff you can amass in 10 years, particularly in my business with all the printed samples we must have on hand to show to new prospective clients. And I did a lot of editing and throwing away before the movers came and we still have so much stuff.

So we were back in the office again today, working on the unpacking and arrived home at 6:30, starving, as we had no lunch. As I mentioned before, my husband has to be on this crazy diet of no garlic, onions, tomatoes, spicy things, or lemons.

So I wanted to make a shrimp and pasta dish and I’m thinking, what can I do here? It’s easy to make a shrimp and pasta dish with garlic and tomatoes. A little shallot wouldn’t hurt either, or lemon and garlic with white wine, but this! He can have ginger, so I’m considering it but then it’s just not sounding good to me.

So I sent him out to get some parsley (we fortunately have a grocery store right downstairs in our building) and this is what I came up with – and it was crazy delicious!! Simple, quick, clean tasting and it seemed to have a creamy lemony taste, which I’m not sure where that came from – maybe a residual taste from the Sauvignon? Try this and tell me what you think.
Pasta with shrimp, olive oil, parsley and white wine

– serves 4

1.5 lbs. large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 lb. spaghetti #3
1/3 cup olive oil plus more for finishing
1 cup chopped fresh parsley, washed and air dried before chopping
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 – 4 tbs pasta water

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta. Thoroughly wash and pat dry the shrimp. Salt and pepper one side.

Heat the olive oil until very hot. Add the parsley carefully – it will pop and really sizzle because of the water in it hitting the oil. Stir and let it sizzle for 30 seconds to a minute and then add the shrimp and turn heat down slightly. Cook shrimp 1-2 minutes, add the wine and make sure it is bubbling. Turn the shrimp and cook another 1–2 minutes. When shrimp are pink on both sides, turn off heat but leave in pan.

Meanwhile, you should be cooking your pasta till al dente. Save some pasta water and drain.

In a large bowl layer in half of the pasta and half of the shrimp mixture. Repeat the layers. Drizzle on some additional oil and the pasta water. Toss and combine well. Serve and enjoy!

Remember, it’s always about the quality of ingredients you use. Find the freshest shrimp, the best olive oil, use French grey salt and Tellicherry fresh ground pepper for best results.

First course or a main meatless meal

Let’s bridge Greece and Italy – or let’s just use up things in my refrigerator that need using! This is fantastic and could be used as a great first course or a main meatless meal.

Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as a first course

1/4 cup olive oil
5 large garlic cloves – peeled and thinly sliced on a mandoline
1 medium eggplant, cut in quarters lengthwise and then sliced 1/4” thick
1.5 lbs. fresh plum tomatoes – about 7, cored and cut into quarters lengthwise and then sliced into 1/4” slices
1/2 bunch or 4 oz. fresh tender spinach leaves, (or baby spinach) stems removed, washed and air-dried
2 oz. Greek feta cheese, cut in 1/4 cubes
1 lb. dried bucatini No 6 pasta or spaghetti or fettucini
Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly grated
Chiffonade of basil to garnish

Prepare the eggplant and salt layers of it in a mesh colander to draw out and drain the bitterness. Use fine sea salt. Let sit while you prepare everything else, the longer the better, but do this for at least 20 minutes.

Prepare the tomatoes and place in a separate large bowl and salt it as well with sea salt, toss with a spatula and let sit. This will intensify the tomato flavor.

Warm the olive oil and sauté the sliced garlic on very low heat for 10 – 15 minutes. Do not let it brown.

Start a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.

Cut cheese and slice the basil leaves.

Take paper towels and squeeze and dry the eggplant and add to the skillet with the garlic and olive oil. Raise heat to medium and sauté until the eggplant is fork

tender. When the skillet becomes dry, drain the tomatoes in the same mesh colander and add their juices to the skillet.

Cook the pasta al dente and drain, saving some pasta water, just in case you need a little moisture.

In a large bowl you used for the tomatoes, layer 1/3 pasta, 1/3 fresh tomatoes, 1/3 eggplant mixture, 1/3 spinach, feta cheese and grate some pecorino on each layer. Continue until all is used up, pour in any extra tomato juice and toss and combine. The heat from the pasta and eggplant will warm the tomatoes, wilt the spinach and melt the feta. Garnish with more pecorino and the chiffonade of basil.

I hope you LOVE it!

Cut and salted eggplant.

cut salted eggplant

Chopped and salted tomatoes in a yellow bowl.

chopped salted tomatoes

Pasta with eggplant, tomatoes, and feta in a yellow bowl.

Finished dish before basil garnish

One dish meals

I was just thinking how much I love one dish meals for weeknights. What could be simpler? You’ve got your carbohydrates, vegetables and proteins all in one. You can serve it in a lovely flat soup bowl and hopefully the recipe will only cause one or two pots to be dirtied, so clean up is a breeze as well. The Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Chicken Sausage recipe in my last entry is a good example but there are so many. Gnocchi with Shrimp and Snowpeas, Veal Stew with Rosemary and Lemon on Polenta, Orecchiette with Shrimp and Broccoli Rabe, all listed earlier here are other great ones. Think of the many combinations you can make – use your imagination. Combine things you love and you won’t go wrong. Remember to relax, have fun, and pour love into it!Farfalle with lamb sausage and escarole.

Farfalle with lamb sausage and escarole.

Dinner in 30 minutes – REALLY!

This is no Rachel Ray joke!

We arrive home very late on Columbus Day, having had business meetings upstate in Hudson.

I know I have broccoli rabe at home in Manhattan. I grab a pack of frozen sausage from the country house and do not put in it in a cool pack for the ride home so it will thaw. I will make pasta with broccoli rabe and sausage. However it is a mild Italian chicken sausage, BUT I have just picked a very hot serrano pepper from my garden!

Everyone is starved as we walk in the door at 8:30. I put all the other groceries away and get to work a little before nine.  How can I get dinner on the table quick? I ask for help from Zach’s girlfriend, Agata, and she does a beautiful job peeling and slicing the 6 large garlic cloves. And I continue with the neatest thing being using the broccoli rabe near boiling water to bring to a rolling boil to cook the pasta. It also flavored the pasta as well. Dinner was on the table at 9:23, served with a lovely bottle of red wine for the four of us and it was a feast! I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. My husband said this was the very best version of this dish I have ever made! And, it has the magical pancetta in it to give it the big full flavor. Here goes.

Pasta with broccoli rabe and chicken sausage in a bowl.

1/4 cup olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, pealed and sliced
1 serrano chili pepper minced, with seeds (remove seeds if you do not like things hot)
1 3/8” thick slice pf pancetta, cut into small dice
1 bunch broccoli rabe, washed and cut into 2” pieces
1 -11/4 lb. mild Italian chicken sausage, removed from casing and broken up into small chunks
1 lb linguini – No. 6
3 tbs. pasta water
2 oz. grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Peel and slice the garlic cloves. Mince the pepper. Warm the olive oil with the garlic, hot pepper and pancetta on low heat for 10 – 12 minutes in a large skillet while you’re cleaning the broccoli rabe. Trim the ends of the broccoli rabe and cut into  2” pieces, Wash thoroughly, twice. Put in a large pot, cover with at least 2” of cold water. Salt with coarse sea salt. Put on very high heat. When bubbles start to form on the edges of the pot, lift the broccoli rabe out with a hand mesh strainer or slotted spoon and drain in a colander. This partially cooks the rabe and removes the bitterness. You are saving the water to cook your pasta in. Raise heat on garlic mixture to medium, add your sausage and sauté until all pink is gone. Taste for salt and pepper but remember, the Pecorino is salty and that gets put in at the end. Meanwhile, bring the broccolli rabe water to a rolling boil and cook your pasta. Add drained broccolli rabe to sausage mixture and toss the combination. Save some pasta water and drain the pasta when done. I find it best to combine all in layers. Put 1/3 pasta in a bowl with 1/3 sausage rabe mixture and  1/3 cheese and 1 TBS. pasta water, toss to combine and continue with thirds and toss. Serve with more cheese if you like at the table, but it really isn’t necessary.

This dish is so creamy and delicious – even for people who say they don’t like broccoli rabe! It almost tastes like it has butter in it but it doesn’t. You will love it!

Amazing lamb ragu

Lamb ragu with Girelle pasta from Fairway Market in a white bowl.
This dish is scrumptious!!! You have got to try it and see the look of love on the faces of your eaters!! Comforting and bursting with flavor, it’s a perfect Fall dish. This is the kind of dish that makes you want to crawl right inside of it, cuddle up and sigh. Really. And it’s quick, easy and special enough for guests!

– serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground lamb
1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand, with liquid
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pound dried penne pasta or Girelle as pictured
2 – 3 tbs. fresh chopped mint (or parsley if you don’t have mint)
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano

Warm olive oil in a medium skillet and turn heat to low. A minute later, add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it becomes translucent, about 10 – 12 minutes. Meanwhile, set a pot of water to boil for pasta and salt it.

When onion is ready, add lamb and garlic to skillet and cook, stirring to break up any clumps, until all traces of red are gone, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juice to lamb mixture, then adjust heat so it simmers briskly, constantly. The sauce should thicken.

Put pasta in boiling water and cook to al dente – usually 1-2 minutes less than package directions.

Taste and salt and pepper your sauce. Take the sauce off the heat, add cream, stirring completely. When pasta is done, drain well, toss it with sauce, some grated Pecorino Romano cheese and half the mint or parsley. Sprinkle the remaining chopped mint or parsley on top to finish the dish. Pass more cheese at the table.

Lamb ragu with Girelle in a bowl with grated Romano cheese and cracked black pepper.

With more grated Pecorino Romano cheese and cracked black pepper

Pasta with Tuscan Duck Sauce

This is one of my family favorites – an often request! For everyone’s birthday, I always make whatever they want. Our oldest son requested this as his first course this year. Once, for my husband, who loves duck, I made a dinner that literally took three days to make – and we still ate at 11 pm!! It was Duck Three Ways and a whole host of other things that I have blocked out of my mind now, but I do remember I was ready to shoot myself in the middle of it. However, the meal was worthy of the highest restaurant meal – like Daniel – really! And my oldest son has been asking for it since, but I think I hid all the recipes and still haven’t recuperated. It’s been four years. And that was when we were moving from Summit, NJ, back to Manhattan and living in a temporary apartment in Summit with a crappy kitchen and an electric stove. But you know, I have a old electric stove here in the country and I think that if you know what you’re doing, you adjust and survive.

Here we go. Now remember, for a weeknight dinner, cook your duck the night before and this becomes a really quick meal – under an hour with a side vegetable.

PASTA WITH TUSCAN DUCK SAUCE – 4 main-course servings
3 duck legs
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, hand crushed
1 pound cut pasta, like penne or fusilli
Grated pecorino Romano cheese

Trim visible fat from duck legs, then lay them, skin side down, in a 10-inch skillet. Turn heat to medium; when duck begins to sizzle, turn heat to low and cover. Cook undisturbed about 60 – 65 minutes (check once to be sure legs aren’t burning); the skin should be golden brown. Turn and cook until duck is very tender, about 20 – 25 minutes.

Remove duck and set aside. (Or if cooking the night before, remove duck, cool and refrigerate. Scrape cooled duck fat into another container and refrigerate. Then melt duck fat in a skillet and continue. You need to cook the onions in the duck fat because that is what adds the huge flavor.) Add onion to skillet with the duck fat and turn heat to low and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 15 – 20 minutes. Add the garlic. Set a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.

Add wine to skillet and raise heat to high; cook until liquid is reduced by about half. Add tomatoes that you’ve crushed by hand as you’re adding them, with their juice, and some salt and pepper, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is saucy, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. You will need some more salt and pepper. About 5 – 7 minutes after adding tomatoes, cook pasta. When it is al dente, (usually 1- 2 minutes less than the least amount of time they tell you on the package – taste it to be sure. It should be done but just done – no raw dry pasta in the middle but it should have some tension.) Drain it.

While pasta is cooking, shred duck from bone and add it to sauce near the end. You just need to heat it through now. and serve it with the pasta, along with cheese.