Saturday, December 3, 2011


 A double header today;`braised breast of veal with herbs garlic and vegetables. Served along side a wild mushroom risotto. It is authentic hearty Northern Italian winter fare that will warm you right up!

The veal is pretty easy to make and goes very well with risotto (on next page) but the risotto requires some attention. So start the veal in the oven then move onto preparing the risotto and any salad that is going with your meal.

Braised Breast of Veal


  • Breast of Veal (For 4 or 6 servings look for a three to four rib breast of veal. Look for the one that has the thickest layer of meat.)
  • 2 large carrots diced
  • 1 medium onion wedged
  • 3 large potatoes cubed
  • 1/2 cup of peas
  • 1 head of garlic chopped coarse
  • cup of white wine
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil.
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed.
  • 1 six inch branch of fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • sea salt or kosher salt
  •    water for stock
 For this dish you need a dutch oven or a heavy stock pot that has an oven safe lid.

 PROCEDURE: Preheat the oven to 375. Put a dutch oven or a large thick stock pot on the stove top over medium high heat. Salt the breast of veal with sea salt or kosher salt.  Throw a tablespoon of veg oil into the heated pot. Then drop in the breast of veal. Sear on both sides. Add more oil if needed then add the vegetables and garlic.Stir then a bit but let them brown and get a little roasty toasty.

Then put in the spices and the rosemary. Stir a few more times then add the wine to deglaze. Finish with the breast meat side up. Pour in water till comes up half way the side of the breast. Salt to taste and bring to a boil. Cover with lid and put it in the oven.  Depending on the size breast it will take on average 2 hours. But cook it till the meat is pulling away from the bones like above.

Plate and then arrange the vegetables  garnish with some fresh chopped parsley and a sprig of rosemary.

I am moving the risotto to its own page.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Almost no recipe is used as much in my kitchen. It is a Capozzoli staple. A lot of Italian Americans (Im only part Italian American) call rich deep bone stock type tomato sauce 'gravy' not 'sauce'. This has much to do with the bones meat and sausage that is used to make it. Tomato 'sauce' is either vegetarian or a marinara sauce made with fish or some other seafood. We will go into those tomato sauces in the pages to come.

INGREDIENTS: For 6-8 servings with some left overs depending on appetites and dish being served. 

  • 1- 28oz can of tomato puree
  • 1-28oz can of crushed tomato
  • 1-12oz can of tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1lb or more bones pork, beef, lamb or any combination.
  • 1 head of garlic minced
  • 1 stalk of celery chopped fine
  • 4 tablespoons of dried oregano
  • 4 tablespoons of dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon of celery seed
  • 2 large bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon of nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper seed 
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup grated locatelli or Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Kosher salt and crushed black pepper to taste
  • Rope of Italian sausage and or meat balls (Optional) 
  • little bit of vegetable oil
  • water to fill cans
PROCEDURE: Put a large enough heavy stock pot on a medium high burner. Let it get hot.Then add a little vegetable oil. Put the bones in then the chopped garlic, celery and all of the dried herbs and spices stir constantly and don't let the garlic get too dark. Remove it from the burner if it gets to hot. Once the garlic is golden light brown add the wine and cook of some of the alcohol off. Now add the cans of tomato puree, crushed tomato and the paste and stir.

 Fill each of those cans with water once and add it to the sauce. Stir until blended. Now add the olive oil and grated cheese. Stir once again and bring to a low boil. Then turn to low and cover with a lid. Let this simmer for two hours.

If using meat balls and or sausage. Roast them in the oven at 400 degrees. Ideally browned on the outside but still a little under done on the inside. Don't put them in the simmering sauce until the last half hour of the cook. Otherwise they will overcook.

Remove the bones before serving or ladle around them.

Mama Mia, that's a spicy a meatball! Meatball recipe to come......

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


A lot of American cooks, even the ones in Italian restaurants don't know real manicotti. Go to almost any Italian restaurant in this country and you will be served pasta tubes stuffed with ricotta cheese. This is not real manicotti, the real deal is a savory crepe made with semolina flour. But like so many European dishes they are brought to America only to be changed so that they are easier to prepare. Just another reason to do things yourself.

Making real manicotti is not difficult and is especially easy if you use a nonstick pan. I am for the most part anti-nonstick but there are some applications where it is useful, making crepes is one of them. We have an iron crepe pan and it works great however it is too small for making manicotti the size that I want. I like them on the larger side. If you have a crepe pan and you are OK with smaller manicotti then use that. If not use nonstick and feel no guilt for it. 

When I make manicotti I make homemade paneer cheese.  Paneer cheese is an Indian recipe but it is basically whole milk ricotta in contrast to the ricotta cheese we get in this country which is made from whey. Paneer is very easy to make and it is firm, holds together well and lends a homemade authentic taste to this dish but they will still be very good if you use store bought ricotta cheese.


  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • juice from one lemmon
  • 1 egg
  • chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
PROCEDURE: Bring the milk to a slight boil in a large pot and then turn it on low. Add the lemon juice and stir. The milk will curdle. If it does not curdle then add more lemon juice till it does. Line a cullender with some cheese cloth and place it over a large pot. Slowly pour the curdled milk into the cullender to strain out the curds from the whey. Once it is all strained pour the curds into a mixing bowl and let it cool. Once it is completely cool add the egg, chopped parsley, salt and pepper and mix.
Set this mixture aside and then make the crepes.

*NOTE: You will be left with quite a bit of whey after you remove the curds. You dont have to throw this away. It makes for a very healthy beverage. You can make it cold and drink it as is or you can add some sugar to sweeten it. If you add some choclate syrup and mix it well you will have homemade YooHoo. I love YooHoo.


INGREDIENTS: For 8-10 crepes
  • 2 cup semolina flour
  • 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 2-1/2 cup milk (approx.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
PROCEDURE: In a large enough mixing bowl add the eggs, milk, oil and salt. Using a whisk to mix as you add the dry ingredients gradually be sure to break up any lumps. After all of the ingredients have been added continue mixing well.  The final consistency should be thin like that of latex house paint, not thick like pancake batter. Set the batter aside for 1 hour. This gives the semolina flour time to reconstitute.

To make the crepes set the bowl of batter near the stove with a ladle. Also set out another small bowl with a small amount of oil in it. Take a folded up paper towel and place it into the small bowl of oil. This is what you will use to grease the pan before and after making each crepe.  Put the pan on a burner over medium heat and let it get good and hot. Once hot take the oiled paper towel and wipe the entire surface of the hot pan. Then return it to the burner for a moment. 

No here is the trick, Take the pan off the burner in one hand and take a ladle full of batter in the other. Starting from the center gradually add the batter to the pan while turning and leaning the pan to spread the batter, continue until the entire surface of the pan is covered with a thin layer of batter. Return the ladle and any excess batter to the bowl. 

Once the top of the crepe looks dry and the edges are beginning to pull away from the pan the crepe is done. Carefully slide the tip of a butter knife under the edge of the crepe and lift, then use your finger to lift it out of the pan and place it on a nearby plate to cool. Wipe the pan with the paper towel of oil again and make another crepe. Stack the crepes up and repeat until all of the batter is used up.

Now give a quick clean up and set up to stuff the crepes. Place your stack of crepes near the bowl of ricotta filling. 

Set out one of the crepes and place a few tablespoons of the ricotta filling just off center.
Then roll the crepe over top of the filling.

Cut off the excess crepe from either side.
In a large enough casserole dish pour your tomato sauce to completely cover the bottom. Then carefully place the manicotti in side by side after you roll each one.

After they are placed into the casserole and the dish is filled ladle sauce onto the top. Then cover the top with a mixture of grated Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Place into an preheated 350 degrees oven and bake until the cheese is completely melted on top and beginning to brown and blister.

Finally, carefully place a spatula under one manicotti at a time and slide them off onto a plate. Ladle  some sauce on top, garnish with some fresh chopped flat leaf parsley and serve,

I will be posting my world famous authentic Italian tomato gravy recipe tomorrow so please check back. I guaranty you will love this sauce.

Yep, that is the real manicotti.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Spaghetti and crabs is one of those dishes you want to bury your face in, or at least it is for me. I feel sorry for anyone that can not eat shellfish. This dish is one of my favorites, one I find very hard to leave from the table that it is being served on. It is an easy dish to make though it is kinda pricey but soooo worth it. Its good for special occasions, a rare treat if you will.

In December and January you can sometimes find the big blue claw crabs for some reason.

INGREDIENTS: For four large servings.
  • 1 or 2 large blue claw crabs per person
  • 1 can of jumbo lump crab meat (optional)
  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes or some other fresh tomato chopped
  • 1 large head of garlic minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Hand full fresh chopped basil or 2 tablespoons of dry basil
  • Hand full fresh chopped oregano or 2 tablespoons of dry oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 20-30 needles of fresh rosemary or a tablespoon of dry rosemary 
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 stalks scallions
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Water for Stock
  • Little bit of vegetable oil
PROCEDURE: Put two large pots on the stove over medium heat. In one put about a half gallon of salted water.  Then put the crabs in and let them cook until they turn red. Remove the crabs and put them into a cullender to drain. Throw a stalk of celery into the crab stock and let in reduce by half over medium heat.

In the other pot put a little bit of vegetable oil, then put in the chopped garlic and chopped celery stalk and peas, let this lightly brown and remove from the heat so it does not get too dark. Then put in the bay leaves, rosemary, Old Bay, nutmeg, black pepper and salt ( add all of the herbs at this point if you are using dry herbs if you are using fresh chopped herbs they will go in towards the end of the cook. Now add the butter and return to the heat. Toss for a moment and add the white wine. Let the alcohol cook off for another few seconds then add the can tomatoes and tomato paste.

Stirring constantly it will be kind of thick.  At this point your crab stock should be ready, add this to the sauce and continue stirring until well blended, it should be on the thinner side.

In the other pot fill it with salted water and cook a pound or two of spaghetti until it is 'aldente' (a little bit firm).

As the pasta is cooking put the crabs into the sauce and simmer them for 5 to 10 mins. Also empty in the can of jumbo lump if you are using it. Add the chopped fresh herbs at this point too. Very carefully stir a little being sure not to brake up the crabs or the lovely lumps of crab meat.

When the sauce is ready remove the crabs to another pot and set them aside. Put the drained aldente pasta into the sauce and gently toss. With a pair of tongs or pasta fork plate the sauced pasta. Place the crabs on the plate with the pasta and ladle the marinara sauce on top. Garnish with a little fresh basil and serve.

This dish will satisfy I guaranty it. Make it for guests and they will talk about it for years to come.

There are not too many things in life better than Spaghetti and Crabs.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


                                                         Peach Cobbler

Cobbler is a fast easy desert that is simply awesome. It always makes the family and guests just swoon. Its made several different ways but this way is easy and tastes the best in my opinion. It is a crumble top cobbler 


  • Fruit (Apples, pears, peaches even bananas all make great cobbler experiment to find the one you like most) 
  • Unbleached flour
  • Brown sugar
  • Unsalted butter (Room temp)
  • Dash of salt. 
PROCEDURE: The amounts of the dry ingredients vary depending on how much fruit you are using. The more crumble topping the better cause people just love it. The formula is one equal part each flour, butter and brown sugar to start. With your fingers pinch and blend the butter into the flour till it beads and is completely incorporated. If it is too wet continue to add flour a little at a time until it forms like bread crumbs or even lumps the size of peas. Then add the brown sugar and salt,  pinch and blend again until it is all mixed together.

Slice the fruit into an oiled baking dish of the appropriate size. Spread the crumble topping over the top of the sliced fruit loosely, dont pack it down.

Preheat the oven to 400 and bake the cobbler for 15 mins. then lower to 325 for 45 mins.

Ill edit in some procedure pics tomorrow. I'm gonna make some apple cobbler.