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.

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.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

A Visit to My Local Farmers Market - (Visita al mercato locale degli agricoltori)

Due to the explosion of demand in terms of people desiring to buy local, new farmers markets are sprouting throughout our state. It’s a favorite marketing method for many farmers and a weekly ritual for many shoppers like me that love fresh food.
Pumpkin Flowers

From spring until late fall, you can find local growers set up with their canopies and colorful displays of just-harvested fruits and vegetables in town squares, parks and other public spaces.


Seasonal Produce – Peaches, Apples, Melons, Plums, Berries, Pears, Quince, Jersey Tomatoes, Heirloom Tomatoes, Flat Red Onions, Eggplant, Potatoes of all kinds, Corn, Squash, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Beans Arugula, Lettuce of all kinds, Pumpkin Flower, Broccoli di Rape, Parsley Root, Celery Nob, Green Garlic, Red carrots, White Radish, Winter Squash, Large Variety of Peppers, Baked Items and More…


Variety of Peppers

Fall Items – Gourds, Indian Corn, Haystalks, Pumpkins, Decorative Squash, Mums, Wine Grapes



 The festive atmosphere and fresh foods will certainly please all your senses.

Images: ©2010 - picasaweb

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

TOMATO SAUCE (Sugo Semplice o Marinara)

Tomato sauce is definitely one of the main sauces for pasta and rice in Italy.  It's tasty, healthy and low in calories and it is also easy to prepare.  In fact, even less experienced in the kitchen can accomplish this genuine dish with a few simple steps.

It’s the easiest thing in the world to prepare, but for many it is not so.  Caught between busy schedules, people are less and less taken by cooking but the preparation of a simple dish like this is worth showing.


6 fresh tomatoes (or large can of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
bunch of fresh basil and parsley
Salt and black pepper


Blanch tomatoes by throwing them into a pot of boiling water for a minute or so.  Fish them out and let them cool.  With your fingers or knife peel off the skin.  Cut in half, remove the seeds and chop them.

In a pan, add the olive oil and chopped onion over medium heat.  When onion is golden, add tomatoes, basil, parsley, salt and pepper and simmer gently for 30 to 40 minutes.

The sauce will result chunky or with small tomato pieces.

If you prefer a tomato sauce with a smoother consistency, puree the blanched tomatoes in a blender and then cook them.

Sugo passato

Che profumo di freschezza!

Monday, July 20, 2015

FARFALLE con Scamorza


Summer ... is a pleasure to eat fresh, light food but also quick to prepare and tasty to eat. 

Butterflies are a type of pasta well suited for this recipe. Fresh and tasty flavors like cherry tomatoes, basil and scamorza make this summer dish perfect for hot days!


1 pound farfalle

1 cup diced scamorza or mozzarella di buffalo

2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in a half

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup of shredded basil

Salt and black pepper


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil with salt.  
  • In a small saucepan add olive oil, tomatoes, basil and scamorza and gently cook until cheese melts a bit.

  • When the water boils, cook the pasta until tender.  Drain and return to pot over low heat.
  • Stir in the scamorza sauce and a good dose of black pepper. 
  • Stir to combine all ingredients and serve immediately.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

STUFFED CHILI PEPPERS IN A PAN - Peperoni ciliegia ripieni in padella

Many of you must have seen stuffed chili peppers in oil in Italian delicatessens.  They make great appetizers.  Love their spicy taste.

I like to make them stuffed with tuna and anchovies but rather than put them in oil, I cook them in a pan.  They make a great side dish.


1/2 lb. cherry peppers (preferably hot)
Can of good tuna in olive oil
Small can of anchovies
Small can of chopped green olives
1 tablespoon of capers
1 clove of garlic (minced)
Sprig of parsley (chopped)
2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil


Wash the peppers and remove the tops and seeds.  In a bowl combine the tuna, anchovies, capers, garlic, parsley and breadcrumbs.  Blend the mixture well and stuff the peppers.

Once the peppers are filled, place them in a non-stick frying pan with the olive oil

Cover the pan and cook them for 30 minutes over medium heat.  Serve warm or at room temperature.