Cooking Instructor, Food Blogger, Cookbook Author, and Personal Chef, bringing the traditional and authentic taste of regional Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Tunisian, and Moroccan cuisine to your table.
My menus are created exclusively to satisfy your personal preferences. I blend traditional recipes with new and innovative ingredients to create flavorful and aromatic foods, all prepared to your tastes and desires.
2 (28 ounce each) cans San Marzano
Freshly ground black pepper
In a large thick bottom pan, add the oil
and onion on medium-low heat. Cook until the onion is barely golden.Add the garlic and prosciutto and cook 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat to medium and add the tomatoes, salt and
pepper.Allow to cook until some of the
water from crushed tomatoes has reduced, about 5-8 minutes. Cover and simmer on
low heat for 15-20 minutes.At this
point the meats can be added.
Making the meatballs:
In the food processor add the garlic,
onion, breadcrumbs, cheese, salt, pepper, and parsley; pulse a few times until
Place the ground beef in a large bowl.Add the breadcrumb mixture and beaten eggs.
Mix gently until the ingredients are well blended. Squeezing the meat
mixture too much can result in tough meatballs, so be gentle.
Make a small meatball and test the
seasoning and texture by adding a tablespoon of oil in a skillet and cooking it
Once the test is done, make seasoning
adjustments if needed. Use a scooper or tablespoon to create meatballs either 2
inches in diameter or smaller. Whatever the size you choose, be sure to make
them all the same size. When all of the meatballs are made, place them in a
baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in preheated 400F oven until
browned. Be sure to turn them once or twice. Or, you can fry them in a large
skillet with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. I prefer the skillet. Once all
of the meatballs are browned, transfer them to the cooking sauce with the oil. If you prefer a leaner sauce, do not add the oil. The difference by leaving the oil from meatballs is not only that it's traditional, but tastier.
In a large skillet, cook the sausage on
medium heat; add a tablespoon or two of olive oil in skillet if the pan is too
dry. Cook until the sausages are browned evenly. When the sausages are browned,
transfer then to the sauce with the oil. Stir gently, cover and cook another
25-30 minutes covered.Wait until the
oil rises to the top of the pan. This is an indication that the sauce is ready.
Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. you can skim the oil from the sauce, or not based on how lean you prefer the sauce.
Cook 1 pound of pasta according to
package direction.Drain well, add a
little sauce to the drained pasta; mix well so that the pasta will not stick.Add some pasta to each serving bowl, top with more sauce, 2 meatballs, a
sausage, additional grated cheese and freshly chopped basil.
San Marzano Tomatoes
recipe can be served as one course or two. Serve the pasta topped with sauce, meats,
cheese and basil as one course. Or as two split courses by serving the pasta with sauce,
cheese and basil as one course, and serving the meats in a warmed bowl as the
second course. Whatever way you choose to serve it, it will be eagerly eaten and
enjoyed.Growing up, we served it as two courses so we
could stretch out the pleasure of eating it, and also we didn’t have to create another course.Served this with a
salad or cooked vegetables and you have a delicious three course meal. If you
have any leftovers, you can make meatball and sausage sandwiches the next day. Top it with shredded mozzarella and bake it in the oven until the cheese melts. My mouth is watering.. got to go make it again!
When I make risotto, I always make extra so that I can refrigerate it and use it to make Arancini the next day. I save some time on making the Arancini (Small oranges) because the rice is ready to go.
Arancini aren't difficult to make if you have all your ingredients ready to go. You basically need to have two bowls ready to go. The first bowl with beaten eggs, salt and pepper, and second bowl with 2 parts Italian breadcrumbs and 1 part grated Parmesan cheese. Next, have a large skillet ready with a light hot oil.
Scoop a couple of tablespoons of risotto in the palm of your hand, while your hand is cupped.
Add some filling of choice such as tomato sauce and chunks of cheese, of tomato sauce with meat and peas, cooked ground sausage and sauce, etc. Add a little more risotto on top and form a ball. Make sure that the filling is completely covered.
Roll each ball into the beaten egg, and next into breadcrumb mixture. Be sure to shake off any excess breadcrumbs before placing int the hot oil. Cook on medium heat until the entire ball is golden. Remove from skillet and place on paper towel. Continue cooking all of the Arancini. Cool slightly before eating.
My family enjoys the risotto and the Arancini. It is so much easier to make it with leftover risotto. The rest is just a process. I find that making the Arancini with the risotto is much more flavorful than plain rice. It adds a whole new dimension to the recipe. This could be viewed as gourmet Arancini, however, growing up, we made lots of things with leftovers, because we didn't have the funds to do otherwise. We had to be creative with our leftover ingredients. I have the funds today to do otherwise, but it is something inside of me that continues to cherish the old fashion way of cooking. It allows me to be creative, so I continue to do it, and I love it!
Travel changes us. It's a journey that enriches us and enables us to better
understand people in the way they live, the way they think, and the way they
eat. If the travel is meaningful, we're never the same again, and the place
we've traveled to will have something of us left behind. The bonds and the good
will are there forever.
We strive to provide
our expeditioners the understanding of the 'back-story' of the place they
visit. We travel in small groups and stay out of the tourist mainstream,
learning the history, art, and gastronomy of the places. We support the idea of
the basic, true, and traditional cuisine of a place, and believe that cooking
should be a simple affair with the best ingredients grown locally. And food,
after all, is the common language we all speak, with a good glass of wine to
So, get your
comfortable walking shoes, 'set sail from the safe harbor', and join us in 2015
for a dazzling expedition to Tuscany and Liguria, Italy. Those of you who have
mentioned you would like to join us, please don't delay in booking, the groups
are small. Here are just a few of the highlights with links:
Tuscany and Liguria, 7
nights, May 2 - 9, 2015
Includes a cooking class
with a chef, and a walk through the seaside mountain paths that connect
the ancient seaside towns of Cinque Terre.
·A visit to the walled cities of San Gimignano and Siena
·A walk through historic Lucca
·A drive through the Chianti countryside
·A visit to Florence
·A tour of a famous local Renaissance Villa Torrigiani
and the Villa Gardoni gardens
than many other countries around the world, Christmas time in Italy is celebrated
until January 6th, Epiphany day. Epiphany honors the 12th day of Christmas when
the three Wise Men arrived at the manger bearing gifts for Baby Jesus. It’s the
last celebration that brings the Christmas period to an end.
In Italy, the legend of La Befana (The witch)
is one that is traditionally told during the time of Epiphany. According to legend,
on the night beforethe feast of
the Epiphany, Befana flies around on her broom, delivering gifts. She leaves
candy, fruit, and small gifts in the stockings of children who are well-behaved
throughout the year. If a child is naughty, he or she believes to find a lump
of coal left behind by La Befana.The children
look forward to Epiphany with a sense of anxiety and enthusiastic anticipation.
According to legend, on the night between the 5th and the 6th of January, while
the children are asleep, an old good woman, called “Befana” flies in
the sky on her broom with a special bag full of packages. She comes into their
home and brings them special gifts, so when they wake up in the morning they
find a surprise.
On this day, the children wake up very early in the morning
excited to find their gifts. The Italian custom also says that the Befana
leaves her gifts not just at one house, but she also visits relatives such as grandparents’,
aunts, uncles and other relatives’ homes.Epiphany day in Italian homes are always full of people visiting and of
children unwrapping gifts. Tables are filled with cakes, candy, Italian
liqueurs, and everything is encompassed by a happy atmosphere or peace and
By the way growing
up, in the many years we celebrated La Befana, I never received coal by la
Befana. I miss this holiday because it was about the children.The adults brought it together and we
celebrated together at the table to finalize the last day of the Christmas
holiday.I love tradition!
When it comes to an end of 2014 year, I
realize that everything has moved so fast that I remember very little of everything
that passed. I do remember well the support and love of my family, my doggies,
and the people who to this day are still here with me on this journey.
2015 must begin with new hope for all. Hope
of a less hectic year, the re-beginning of taking better care of ourselves,
spending more time with people we love, and continue to explore new
possibilities to enrich our life’s.
Good food starts with good basics. This
year I will take more time to make my blogs more personal. Select recipes that are still easy to make, with
simple explanations, handy tips, and more photos. I will show basic techniques to make superlative
My Trip to Melbourne, Australia
I had a magnificent time on our visit
to see my in-laws in Melbourne, Australia during 2014 Thanksgiving season. I
visited beaches, the animal sanctuary, water falls, vineries, and much more. I savored incredible new Greek, Lebanese, and Turkish
foods. I had delicious and remarkable saganaki, spanakopita, moussaka, and other
delicious Greek favorites. The entire trip was magical. I visited lots of
grocery stores and markets in search of new spices, salts and new recipes. While
having many cappuccinos, I indulged in many pastries which were impossible to
Here are some photos of pastries
I enjoyed during my trip which I would like to share with you.I will write the recipes, probably teach them in my cooking classes this
year, and share them on my blog.
BASMA: Pronounced [bas-mah], it comes from the
Lebanese word for “a smile”. Well, when you take your first bite, it will put a
smile on your face.
Basma is made from Knafeh dough, then
multiple layers of dough and nuts are stacked and baked. Basma is served as a
dessert. It is usually served as part of Baklava assortments. Basma is mostly
popular in Lebanon.
Namoura is a traditional dessert, easy and
yummy. Dense cake with Middle Eastern flavors like rose water and orange
blossom water, and soaked with simple syrup. It's sweet, sticky, and delicious.
Good for every occasion, great after a meal, or with tea or coffee.
Almond Birdnest Pastry
These “ birdnest” are pastry sweets,
filled with almonds, usually given on holidays such as Eid and Ramadan and at
These Pyramid pastries can be made with many types of nut fillings. They are all in the baklava family. Each have their individual look and special flavor.