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 ♦ Potato Tart ♦ Tuscan Apple Cake ♦ Sugo di Campagna ♦ Aperol Spritz ♦ Zuppa di Pasqua ♦ Zucchini Two Ways ♦ Salsa di Formaggio ♦ Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Pesto ♦ Mimosa Cake ♦ Limoncello ♦ Sourdough Crackers ♦ Pici Pasta ♦ 

Pici Pasta

2 cups All-purpose flour, preferably Italian “00” soft flour
3 large eggs

Make a mound of the flour on a clean work surface. Make a well in the middle of the flour. Pour eggs into the well. Mix them together with a fork incorporating the flour in the liquid. Knead the dough for 10 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Transfer dough to a floured surface and roll out with a rolling pin to a thickness of 0.2 inches and cut into 0.4-inch wide strips.

Wind each ribbon by hand into the shape of very long, twisted spaghetti. As they are prepared, lay them down on a surface sprinkled with cornmeal or flour and sprinkled them with cornmeal or flour so they don’t stick together. Cook in plenty of salted water.

Serves 4.

The video shows pici pasta served with Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Pesto. Pici pasta is excellent with a simple tomato-garlic sauce (pici all’aglione), hearty game meat ragus (pici al ragu di anatra), and even a simple sauce of bread crumbs, herbs, and olive oil (pici con le bricioli).

Sourdough Crackers

Sourdough Crackers are the perfect platform for Salsa di Formaggio and Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Pesto.

¾ cup sourdough starter
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons dried herbs
½ teaspoon salt, for sprinkling on top
Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.

Mix the sourdough starter, oil, herbs, and sea salt into a small bowl. Use an offset spatula to spread the mixture into a thin, even layer on the parchment paper or Silpat. Sprinkle the top with salt and Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and score the crackers with a pastry wheel cutter. Bake for another 30-45 minutes or until the crackers are golden brown. Rotate pan every 10 minutes while baking.

Let cool completely before breaking into squares.

Store in airtight container.



The cake shown at the end of the video is George Geary’s Limoncello Cake. Thank you George for sharing your recipe.

10-12 large fresh lemons, peeled; skin only, no white pith
1 quart plain vodka (no fruit, herbal, or flavored) or Everclear Grain Alcohol
6 cups water
4 cups sugar

Carefully wash and dry the lemons. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemons. Put the peels and alcohol in an airtight glass container, preferably one with a glass lid and rubber seal. Store in a cool dark place for 2-4 weeks. The alcohol will turn a beautiful yellow color.

Strain the alcohol, saving the lemons peels for candied lemon peel (next recipe) or other dishes.

Make a simple syrup of the sugar and water, ensuring the sugar has dissolved completely. Cool. Mix the lemony alcohol with the syrup. Decant into small glass bottles with rubber seals.
Store in freezer. Best served directly from freezer.

Candied Lemon Peel
2 cups sugar plus more to dust
2 cups water
Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water, dissolving sugar completely.

In another pot of boiling water, add peels and boil
for 3-5 minutes. Drain.

Add peels to syrup and simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Cool peels in syrup. Drain. Place peels on wire rack to catch excess syrup. Let dry on rack overnight or ideally 2 days. Dust the peels in a large bowl to lightly cover in sugar.

Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Mimosa Cake

This recipe requires two cakes, one for the cake and one for the “mimosa” topping. Bake the mimosa topping cake (Cake #1) first.

Ingredients for one cake:
5 eggs
1-¾ cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup sugar

Mix the eggs with the sugar until incorporated, and then slowly add the flour and the baking powder. Put in a greased 8-inch round pan and bake approximately 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cake #1. Cut into small ½-inch cubes that you will use for the topping, resembling a mimosa flower.
After you spread the ingredients on Cake #2, the “petals” will stick.
Cake #2 –Invert cake onto a plate. Slice into 2 discs.

Vanilla custard filling:
1-1/4 cup milk
1-1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
½ tablespoons vanilla
8 egg yolks

In a saucepan, warm milk and heavy cream with the vanilla. Do not boil, just warm. In another saucepan, on low heat, mix the egg yolks with the flour and the sugar until combined. On low heat, slowly incorporate the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture. Mix 5-6 minutes, until thickened. Transfer custard to a glass baking dish, cover custard with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Keep covered so as to avoid building a crust on the custard.

Whipped cream filling:
1 cup heavy cream
2-1/2 tablespoon powdered sugar

Mix the heavy cream and the powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Use immediately.

Now build the cake. Take your two cake discs. On disc #1, spread whipped cream to cover. Then cover the whipped cream with custard. On disc #2, use remaining whipped cream and custard to cover the outside of the cake. Then press the “flowers” from cake #1 all around the cake to create a beautiful mimosa!

Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Pesto

2 cups sun-dried tomatoes
½-cup Parmesan cheese
3 garlic cloves
½-cup pine nuts or walnuts
½-cup fresh basil, chopped
½-cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups boiled water

Steep the tomatoes in the water for 15 minutes or until they soften. Drain. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Serve on crackers or bread. Thin the sauce with water for a pasta sauce or base for soup. Thin the sauce with cream or béchamel sauce for a pasta or risotto sauce.

Yield: 2-1/2 cups.

Salsa di Formaggio


8 ounces Parmesan cheese, cut into ¼-inch pieces
8 ounces Asiago cheese, cut into ¼-inch pieces
2 teaspoons garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 peperoncini, crushed
2 tablespoons scallions, chopped
½ cup fresh basil, chopped
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place all the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse for about 10-15 seconds to break cheese into small granules. The salsa should still be chunky and not completely pulverized. Transfer to an air-tight container and store in refrigerator until needed.

Serve at room temperature on crackers, as a topping for bruschetta, or as a pasta sauce.

Yield: 2-½ cups.

Zucchini Two Ways


Stuffed Zucchini (Zucchine Ripiene al Forno)

Serves 4.

4 zucchini, 6-7 inches long, halved lengthwise
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
I onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
1 egg
2-3 sprigs rosemary, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut ends off zucchini, halve lengthwise. and with a melon baller or small spoon. scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Place the zucchini “boats” on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. Chop the flesh and return it to the bowl.

Heat about 1/4 cup olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook 5-8 minutes. Add zucchini flesh and cook 10-15 minutes or until the onion starts to brown and the liquid is evaporated. Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine cooked onion, garlic, and zucchini in a bowl. Add bread crumbs, Parmesan, egg, and rosemary. Mix thoroughly.

Spoon the zucchini mixture into the boats and cook for approximately 25 minutes, until the zucchini boat is tender and the tops are browned.

Serve warm.

Optional: Add more Parmesan on top of boats and put in a broiler to melt the cheese.

Zucchini Carpaccio

Serves 4-6.

2-3 medium zucchini
Small wedge Parmesan cheese
½ lemon
Extra-virgin olive oil
Maldon sea salt

Slice the zucchini into thin rounds on a mandolin. Layer the zucchini, overlapping them slightly, on a platter. Add thin slices of shaved cheese to cover. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt and pepper to taste.

Optional: Sprinkle with minced rosemary or any fresh herbs.

Zuppa di Pasqua

The success of this traditional Easter soup relies on the robust flavor of homemade chicken broth and good Parmesan cheese. It is fresh and delicate but still eminently comforting, especially when you are feeling a bit under the weather. Serves 4 to 6

8 cups (2 litres) brodo di pollo (chicken broth); recipe below
1 lb-12 ounces (800 grams) fresh spinach, washed
4 ounces or 1 cup (100 grams) Parmesan cheese, grated
3 eggs
pinch of salt
pinch of nutmeg

Bring a large stockpot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the spinach and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is soft and wilted, about 1 minute. Drain the spinach through a mesh sieve, pressing it firmly with the back of a spoon to squeeze out the excess water. Turn the drained spinach onto a cutting board and coarsely chop.

In a small bowl, beat the Parmesan cheese, eggs, salt, and nutmeg together.

In the stockpot, bring the chicken stock to a boil over medium high heat. Slowly pour the eggs into the stock, whisking it constantly with a fork to form little shreds. Stir in the spinach. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately. If you like, ladle each serving of the soup over slices of toasted bread.

Chicken broth: Half a chicken, 1 carrot, 1 rib of celery, 1 white onion, half a handful of parsley, 8 cups of water, and salt. Put everything in a large bot, salt as like as you like, and boil for 2 hours on low heat. Filter the broth through cheesecloth.

Aperol Spritz

Large wine glass filled with ice
Club soda
Slice of a large fresh orange

Add half slice of orange to glass. Fill glass with one-third each Prosecco, Aperol, and club soda. Mix carefully with a straw, sweeping bottom to top slowly so as not to disturb the bubbles. Add a another half slice of orange to rim for garnish.


Sugo di Campagna

42 ounces canned peeled whole tomatoes (1.5 pound cans; in Italy, for sauces canned tomatoes are nearly always used)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
2 small spicy peppers (dried hot peppers, like peperoncini or red pepper flakes)
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 cup half-and-half
parsley, one small fresh bunch, chopped
basil, one small fresh bunch, chopped or torn
1 cup Parmesan cheese (or more to taste)
Salt & pepper to taste

In a saucepan, heat the oil, then add tomatoes, salt, pepper, and garlic, and simmer for about 30 minutes on low heat. Add the spicy peppers, sugar, Parmesan, half & half, basil, and parsley and cook for another 10 minutes.

Add to the cooked pasta of your choice. This can also be used as a bruschetta topping. Sugo di campagna freezes well for up to 3 months.


Tuscan Apple Cake (Torta di Mele)

2 apples, peeled, seeded, and cubed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder
1-1/2 cups flour, All-purpose
1 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix the apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
In a large bowl, add the eggs, melted butter, sugar, baking powder, milk, and flour. Then mix, using a hand mixer. Add the apple mixture and stir together. Butter a greased round 8-9” pan and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.


Potato Tart

1 pie crust, homemade or store bought
1 large onion
4 tablespoons butter
1 pound red potatoes
2 eggs
3 springs of rosemary (along with rosemary you can add a pinch of thyme, oregano, and/or dill)
2 cups of any cheese, grated.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Boil the potatoes until they are tender, then peel the skin off and discard.
Melt butter in sauté pan. Add onions, cook over low heat for approximately 30 minutes or until onions are caramelized.
Put the potatoes in a bowl and mash them. Add the caramelized onion, two eggs, a pinch of salt and pepper, add the spices you chose and then the cheese. Mix everything together and place the mixture in the pie crust. Bake approximately 40 minutes.