Swiss Chard and Rice Soup

Prep time: 1 Hour

Cook time: 50 Minutes

  • 2 tablespoon(s) olive oil
  • 2 whole(s) yellow onion, large chopped
  • 1 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1/4 cup(s) arborio rice
  • 1 pound(s) swiss chard greens
  • 12 ounce(s) spinach (I don't use this)
  • 4 cup(s) vegetable broth
  • 1 pinch(s) cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon(s) lemon juice
  • 1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add 2 tablespoons water and cover. Cook, stirring frequently until the pan cools down, and then occasionally, always covering the pan again, until the onions are greatly reduced and have a deep caramel color, 25 to 30 minutes.

    2. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 3 cups water and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a soup pot or Dutch oven; add rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Trim the white ribs out of the chard (save for another use, such as to add to a stir-fry or other soup). Coarsely chop the chard greens and spinach.

    3. When the rice has cooked for 15 minutes, stir in the chard greens. Return to a simmer; cover and cook for 10 minutes. When the onions are caramelized, stir a little of the simmering liquid into them; add them to the rice along with the spinach, broth and cayenne. Return to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring once, until the spinach is tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes more.

    4. Puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender until perfectly smooth or in a regular blender in batches (return it to the pot). Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Taste and add more lemon juice, if desired. Garnish each bowl of soup with a drizzle of olive oil.


    Time: about 1 hour

    For the soup

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 3 bushy sprigs thyme
  • 4 parsley sprigs
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini or yellow squash (or half of each for color), diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 pound fresh shell beans ; here we use Umbrian Biologica, shelled (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 plum tomatoes (about 3/4 pound), diced
  • 1 piece Parmesan rind from end
  • 1. In a large pot over medium-low heat, heat the oil. Tie rosemary, thyme and parsley in a bundle with kitchen string if desired (this makes it easier to fish out later). Add the herbs, leeks, garlic, zucchini or yellow squash, carrot, salt and pepper and cheese rind to the pot and sautŽ until the vegetables are golden, 10 to 15 minutes.

    2. Add broth, shell beans, tomatoes, green beans and 4 cups water to the pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer partly covered until the beans are tender, 30 to 45 minutes. Discard herbs. Thin with a little water if the soup is too thick.

    Hint: Soup is even better the second day, perhaps with a little added water or broth if it is too thick.

    Yield: 4 to 6 servings

    Frittata di Maccheroni

    Frittata maccheroni, as Paola calls it, is easy to fix. It's for use with leftover pasta, so when you cook pasta cook the whole box. Cook it early, so that you can eat it at room temperature whenever you're ready. It's also great picnic food.

    Mix the cooked and cooled spaghetti and grated parmesan cheese with beaten eggs, five of them to a box of cooked and cooled pasta. Less pasta, fewer eggs, si certo!

    In a large padella (frying pan), add butter to coat the bottom, then half of the spaghetti mixture, then layers of prosciutto and cacciotta cheese, if you'd like. Paola tells us that mozzarella is fine, as is just about anything else. "The more you add, the more you have!" she tells us. Then add the rest of the pasta and press it down with a spatula.

    Cook it slowly on top of the stove, until it turns a golden brown on the bottom. Then flip it over onto a huge round platter. Slide it back into the pan, add butter to your liking, and cook the other side in the same way, until it is crunchy as well. Once it cools, serve it at room temperature.

    The proportions don't this type of "cucina familiare", It is always worth what Paola's grand mother and cook used to say: "Più ci mettete più ci trovate", The more you put inside the more you will find....

    Pasta Carbonara

  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ lb bacon, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¾ cup freshly grated pecorino-romano cheese (parmesan may be substituted)
  • Put the diced bacon into a dry pan and cook until done to your liking. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

    Cook pasta the regular way in a pot, dropping the long strands of pasta into the salted water after it comes to a boil.

    In a large bowl mix the cream, eggs, olive oil, salt and pepper and parsley with a wisk until completely mixed.

    When the pasta is al dente, drain the pasta, mix it with the wisked ingredients, add the bacon and cheese and remix, then serve immediately while hot in warm bowls.

    It is possible to omit the cream, or substitute two egg whites for the cream, but Italians often eat it the regular way.

    Gingered Carrot Flan

  • 4 medium carrots
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • pinch cinnamon
  • grated zest of one orange
  • 1 knob of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • salt and pepper
  • Preheat oven to 300°F.

    Peel carrots and cut very thinly. Place carrots in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat, then add the butter, sugar, cinnamon, orange zest and ginger. Add enough water to cover the carrots and cook with lid on for 5 minutes. Uncover and cook over higher heat until carrots are soft.

    Process in a blender or food processor.

    Season the cream with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Add the cream to the carrots and puree until smooth.

    Blend in the egg and the egg yolk.

    Butter four 3-inch custard cups or other molds and add the carrot puree to fill them. Place molds in a dish; add water to come halfway up the cups and bake at 300°F for about 45 minutes. Let the flans rest for 10 to 15 minutes before unmolding.

    Serve as a side dish or an appetizer.

    Tomato Éclairs With Creamy Ricotta and Basil Filling
    (The New York Times)
    Time: 30 minutes

  • 1 large tomato (about 10 ounces), cut into chunks but not seeded
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch for the filling
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 large eggs
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for sprinkling
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 cup goat or cow milk ricotta
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved.
  • 1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or waxed paper.

    2. Using a food processor, puree tomato until smooth, about 2 minutes. Strain puree through a fine sieve set over a measuring cup, pressing with back of a spoon to extract juice; you should have 1 cup. Add water, if necessary.

    3. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, combine tomato liquid, butter, salt and pepper; stir occasionally until butter melts. Add flour all at once and beat with a wooden spoon until dough forms a ball, leaving a film in bottom and sides of saucepan, 3 to 5 minutes.

    4. Transfer dough to an electric mixer and beat for 1 minute to cool slightly. Beat in 4 eggs one at a time, until each egg is completely absorbed.

    5. Scrape batter into a pastry bag with a medium tip, or a heavy-duty plastic bag with a corner snipped off. Squeeze out éclairs 3 to 4 inches long and 1-inch wide onto baking pans, leaving 2 inches of space between éclairs. Beat remaining egg with a little water and gently brush mixture on top of each éclair; sprinkle with cheese.

    6. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 10 to 12 minutes, or until éclairs are puffed and golden brown. Working quickly, use a fork to poke several holes in bottom of each éclair to let steam escape.

    7. To make ricotta filling, use a knife or mortar and pestle to make a paste with garlic and salt. Stir paste into ricotta along with basil.

    8. Slice each éclair lengthwise, as you would a baguette for a sandwich. If the interior of the Žclair seems damp, scoop out damp bits. Spread filling on bottom half of éclair, top with 3 cherry tomato halves, then sandwich with top half of éclair. Serve immediately.

    Yield: 1 1/2 dozen éclairs.

    Fig Tart With Caramelized Onions, Rosemary and Stilton
    (The New York Times - September 2009)
    Time: 1 1/2 hours
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large onions (1 1/2 pounds), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 sprig rosemary, more for garnish
  • Pinch sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • Flour for dusting
  • 3/4 pound prepared puff pastry
  • 1 pint fresh figs ( 3/4 pound), stemmed and cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 1/2 ounces Stilton cheese, crumbled (about 6 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • Good-quality honey for drizzling, optional
  • 1. In a large skillet over low heat, melt butter with oil. Add onions, rosemary and sugar. Cook, tossing occasionally, until onions are limp and golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, scraping any browned bits from bottom of pan.

    2. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and egg until smooth. Stir in the onions. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line an 11 by 17-inch baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to a 9 by 12-inch rectangle. Transfer to baking sheet.

    3. Use a fork to spread onion mixture evenly over pastry (let excess egg mixture drip back into bowl), leaving a 1-inch border. Arrange figs, cut-side up, in even rows on onion mixture. Scatter cheese and pine nuts over figs. Use a pastry brush to dab edges of tart with egg mixture. Gently fold over edges of tart to form a lip and brush with more egg mixture. 4. Bake until pastry is puffed and golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve, sprinkled with rosemary needles and drizzled with honey, if desired, warm or at room temperature.

    Yield 8 servings

    Caramelized Onion and Porcini Mushroom Soup
    (Bon Appetit Magazine/ February 2002)
    Makes 6 servings

  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds onions, halved, thinly sliced (about 5 cups)
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 1/2 pounds Porcini or Portobello mushrooms, stemmed, caps halved and cut crosswise into 1/4 " thick strips
  • 3 Tbsp. Cognac or brandy
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 cups beef or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • 18 1" thick slices French-bread baguette, toasted
  • 8 oz. soft fresh goat cheese, room temperature
  • Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a heavy large pot over high heat. Add onions and thyme; sauté until onions begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cook until onions are caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Transfer onion mixture to medium bowl.

    Melt remaining 2 Tbsp. butter in the same pot over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sauté until soft, about 12 minutes. Add Cognac and garlic; stir 20 seconds. Stir in onion mixture, then broth and wine. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer until onions are very tender, about 45 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs. Season soup with salt or 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly; cover and chill. Bring to simmer before serving.)

    Preheat broiler. Place baguette slices on large baking sheet. Spread goat cheese on baguette slices; divide equally. Broil goat cheese croutons until cheese begins to brown in spots; about 30 seconds. Divide soup among 6 bowls. Top with croutons and serve.

    INSALATA di RISO Mediterranean Style
  • 2-3 large chicken breast halves, filleted, about 2 1/4 lb./1 kg total weight
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, deribbed and cut into small 3/4 " (2cm) pieces

  • 2 zucchini, washed and diced into small 3/4" pieces
  • 1/2 cup (2/3 oz/20 g) sultanas or raisins
  • 9 Tbsp. (4 1/2 fl oz/135ml) olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground tumeric
  • 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz/330 g) Arborio or long-grain rice
  • 2 3/4 cups (22 fl. Oz/675 ml) water
  • 14 1/2 oz (484 g)canned cece, garbanzo or chick-peas
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • cayenne pepper, pepperoncino or Tabasco, to taste
  • 3/4 cup (4 oz/124 g) peanuts, shelled and coarsely chopped
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup (2/3 oz./20 g) parsley, finely chopped
  • Preheat oven to 450° F (230°C).

    In a large roasting pan, place the chicken fillets. Over the chicken, place the diced onion, pepper and zucchini. Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss vegetables to coat. Roast the chicken and vegetables until tender, about 25 minutes.

    In a heavy medium saucepan, turn the heat to high, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil, add cinnamon, cumin, ginger, tumeric, rice and raisins. Stir until the mixture is coated and aromatic, about two minutes. Add the water, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until all water is absorbed.

    In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice, chicken, roasted vegetables, cece beans and parsley.

    In a small bowl, add the lemon juice. Gradually, mix in the remaining olive oil. Add the cayenne. Add to the rice mixture. Toss well. Cover and refrigerate for at least five hours.

    To serve, transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with the peanuts.

    This salad can keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.

    Back at home, Dino wants me to heat up the sugo from yesterday's pasta and serve it with rice. While we're eating he asks me, "Don't you want to write down what you did to make this sauce? It is really remarkable!" So of course I will right here. It's really an invention based on things I had at hand.

    Do you remember that late last summer we made a roux of fresh basil and lemon juice and olive oil and put the mixture into ice cube trays and froze it? Well, three of the cubes are an important ingredient in our recipe. If you don't have basil and lemon cubes sitting in your freezer, perhaps you can substitute fresh basil and lemon juice and add a little extra olive oil...

  • 1/3 head fennel, sliced thin
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large jar heirloom tomato puree
  • grindings of salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pinch of caster sugar
  • 1/4 tsp pepperoncini flakes
  • 3 cubes frozen basil and lemon and olive oil
  • meatballs, browned (optional)
  • Sauté slices of fennel in olive oil just until they lose their crunchiness. Add pepperoncini, basil cubes, tomatoes and a pinch of sugar. If you like, add meatballs that have been browned in a separate pan.

    Put a pot of water on to boil, adding a tbsp. of olive oil and a pinch of salt. When boiling, add pappardelle, or your favorite, long pasta or noodles.

    When the pasta is al dente (firm to the taste), add it to the sauce with a little of the water from the pasta if the sauce looks too thick.

    The sauce is even better the second day. Enjoy.

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 3 to 4 slices prosciutto, chopped
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • snipped chives
  • pepper, salt
  • In the top of a double boiler, add the butter. While it is melting, whisk the eggs, cottage cheese and snipped chives together in a bowl. Add the prosciutto and parmesan cheese and stir.

    When the butter has melted, add the egg mixture. While it is cooking, stir with the whisk and add a few grindings of pepper. When the consistency feels creamy, you can add a little salt. Do not add salt before or during cooking, or the eggs will taste rubbery.

    Serve on warm plates and enjoy!

  • 8 slices 1/2 inch thick bread, the more texture the better
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Maple syrup
  • At least 4 hours before cooking (preferably overnight for a breakfast meal), stir the eggs, add the cinnamon and dunk the slices of bread in the egg mixture, being sure to coat the slices thoroughly.

    Slip the slices of bread into a nonstick baking pan of cookie sheet, making sure not to overlap them. Place small pieces of butter here and there on top of the bread (optional). Cover the pan with plastic wrap and keep it in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

    20 minutes before serving, preheat the oven to 325°F. Melt the maple syrup in a small pan. For an extra rich taste, add a little butter. Take the plastic wrap off the pan and place the pan in the preheated oven until the bread has a nice crispy looking top.Take the pan out of the oven and serve the slices on warm plates with syrup on top.

  • Pastry dough (use any recipe or a prepared one)
  • generous pinch of saffron
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 extra large eggs, plus one extra egg white
  • 1 pound fresh ricotta
  • 4 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.

    Bake the pie shell according to the recipe and set aside until needed.

    Soak the saffron in the wine for 30 minutes.

    In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and blend in the ricotta, Parmesan, butter, herbs, salt, pepper, wine and saffron. Mix thoroughly. Put the mixture into the pie shell and bake for 30 - 40 minutes, until golden.

    Serve hot or at room temperature.

    When made with full-flavored, ripe tomatoes, these tartlets are fabulous. Serves six.

  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 4 to 5 large tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 cups fine whole wheat flour
  • 11/2 oz. sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • About 3 to 4 Tbsp. water
  • 3 onions, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, halved
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • 3 to 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Preheat the oven to 425°F

    Mix together the flour, sesame seeds and salt, then make a well in the centre. Add the egg and olive oil and mix to a soft dough, adding water as necessary. Divide mixture into six equal parts and shape to line six 4-in. individual tarts pans; this is more of a dough than a pastry and is easiest to mould into shape with your fingers.

    Chill the tart shells for at least 30 minutes while preparing the filling. Cook the onions and garlic in the olive oil with the thyme and the bay leaves for 30 to 40 minutes, until well softened and reduced. Season to taste with salt and pepper; then remove the herbs.

    Fill the tart shells with the onion mixture then top with the tomatoes, overlapping the slices and brushing them lightly with olive oil.

    Season well, then bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the dough is crisp and the tomatoes are just starting to blacken. Serve hot or cold with a small salad of mixed greens.

  • 1 cup dry chick peas or ceci beans
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 small onion, cut in half
  • 1 sick celery
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 tsp. peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 12 fl oz/500ml chicken stock
  • 6 fl oz/250ml tomato puree
  • 3.5 oz/100g ditalini or other small Italian "soup" pasta
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • a sprig of fresh rosemary
  • optional: a small handful of fresh basil or parsley, leaves picked and torn
  • Soak the beans in three cups of water overnight, with a Tbsp. of flour to soften the skin of the beans.

    Drain and rinse the beans. When ready to use, put them in a pot with 8 cups of water. Add the carrot, celery, onion, bay leaves, peppercorns and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until cooked.

    Meanwhile, heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil in a large saucepan, and add garlic, cooking until the garlic is golden. Remove the garlic. Add the tomato puree and rosemary, stir and cook for about three minutes. Take off the heat.

    When the chick peas are cooked, drain them, reserving the cooking liquid, discarding the peppercorns, bay leaves, celery and carrot.

    Put half of the chick peas in a food processor with a cup of their cooking liquid and puree. Put the rest of the chickpeas, the pureed chickpeas and the rest of the reserved liquid in a pot.

    Add the herbs and tomato puree and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the pasta, lower the temperature and cook until the pasta is al dente. Taste for salt and pepper.

    Drizzle with good quality olive oil, or a small handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese. It's said to be better the second day, but there is never any left over from the first serving at our house. If you find the soup too thick, add a small amount of boiling water near the end of the cooking process.

  • 2.5 cups (1 pound) dried borlotti or cranberriy beans, or 1/5(15 oz.)cans borlotti beans
  • 1 ham hock (stinco, or shin of the pig)
  • 2 cups (10 oz.) whole-grain farro
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 5 leaves fresh sage
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • several marjoram buds
  • 1 (8 oz.) can Italian plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • Soak the dried borlotti beans overnight in a large bowl with cold water to cover by 2 or 3 inches.

    Soak the farro with enough cold water to cover by 2 inches for two hours.Drain the beans, rinse and put them in a large stockpot covered by 3 inches of unsalted cold water. Add the ham hock, cover, and simmer until the beans are tender, skimming off foam as necessary, 1 to 1.5 hours. If you are using canned beans, omit the beans and cook for 1.5 hours.

    While the beans are simmering, pour the oil into a large, heavy sauté pan and saut´ the celery, onion, carrot, garlic, sage and marjoram over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, only until the garlic and vegetables are soft buy have not browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, stir to mix in well, and cook gently for 20 to 30 minutes.

    When the beans are tender (if using canned, use them here), drain them, reserving their cooking water. Cut the meat off the ham hock. Puree the beans and the meat from the ham hock with some of the cooking liquid by whirling them in a processor or blender.

    Return them to the large stockpot with the remaining cooking water from the beans. Add the drained farro to the pot and cook over very low ehat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, until the farro is tender, about 30 to 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve with a swirl of extra-virgin olive oil over each portion.

    The soup will become very thick as it cools, and tastes even better the second day. If you find it too thick, add boiling water to it until it is the consistency you desire. It's a wonderful soup to freeze for a cold and rainy day.

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 fennel bulbs, sliced very thinly
  • 10-12 fresh basil leaves, julienned
  • 10-12 Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Sauté the onion and the olive oil until soft. Add the garlic and sauté until it turns opaque and releases its aroma. Add the fennel and cook for a few minutes until slightly tender. Add the basil and tomatoes, and cook over medium-high heat until the mixture has reduced and thickened. Add the chicken stock and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.


  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 large leeks, white only, chopped finely
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 10 ounces potatoes, sliced about 1/4" thick
  • salt & white pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • For the garnish: 2 Tablespoons finely chopped chives or finely chopped dill
  • Melt the butter in a heavy frying pan. Add the onion, celery and leeks and cook very slowly for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally and adjust the heat so that the vegetables barely color.

    When they are soft and translucent, transfer them to a saucepan and pour in the stock. Add the potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the potatoes are soft.

    Add half of the potatoes and stock to a food processor and pulse. Remove and finish with the rest of the soup. The soup should not be completely smooth. To finish it, press it through a sieve.

    Stir in the seasonings, salting liberally. The cold temperature has a tendency to dull the soup's flavor.

    To serve:

    Before serving the soup, stir in 1 cup of the heavy cream and taste again for salt. If it seems too thick, add more cream. Pour into cups and garnish with the chives or dill.

    TOMATO/GARLIC SOUP WITH GRATED ZUCCHINI, COLD This is a simple, summer soup made with seasonal vegetables and a bit of olive oil.

  • 1 lb. 10 oz. small zucchini, washed
  • 1 lb. tomatoes, peeled, seeded and pureed
  • 4 garlic cloves (preferable new garlic)
  • 8 sprigs basil
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • For the garnish: 2 Tablespoons peppery olive oil and 4 basil sprigs
  • Peel the garlic and place in a large saucepan, stock pot or kettle with 3 cups of water, the basil leaves, olive oil and salt. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Finely grate with zucchini with a food processor fitted with a julienne disc or the fine perforations of a 4-sided grater.

    Add the zucchini to the tomatoes. Cover, reduce heat to low and gently simmer for 40 minutes. When the soup is cooked, let it cool. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

    To serve:
    Divide the mixture among 4 soup plates and season with more freshly ground pepper and the peppery olive oil. Garnish with a sprig of basil.

    This is a delicious cold soup, which I make with our abundant heirloom tomatoes and their juices during the last days of summer. While the days remain hot in September, this provides an interesting change from sliced tomatoes with fresh mozzarella.

    I combine it with bean dip and chips for a light pranzo or cena. The soup can also make an easy and impressive first course for a festive meal. Just thinking of it makes my mouth waterį

    Soup Ingredients:

  • 5 lb. fresh ripe tomatoes of your choice that have been blanched, skinned and coarsely chopped. If the skins are thin, just peel and core them, skipping the blanching process, which can make a real mess.
  • 1 1/2 lb. sweet red peppers, roasted, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium English cucumber, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 4 oz. white wine vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  • 48 oz. tomato juice
  • Cucumber salsa ingredients:
  • 1 medium English cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
  • 4 Tbsp. freshly chopped basil
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Combine the soup ingredients and let marinate for at least 24 hours in the refrigerator. Puree together in a bar blender or food processor until smooth. Strain through a sieve or food mill to take away any remaining seeds and season with salt to taste. Keep chilled.

    For the cucumber salsa, combine all six ingredients together, keep chilled. Spoon a generous round of salsa into the center of a soup bowl and ladle the soup around the salsa. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle grated parmesan cheese on top.

  • 1.5 lbs. pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch thick slices (3 cups)
  • 2 medium potatoes (8 oz. each), peeled and cut into 1-inch slices
  • 1.5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2.5 cups chicken broth
  • A pinch of coarse salt
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube (optional)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 3 Tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 sage leaves, chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander (optional)
  • Put the squash and potato slices in a large bowl with cold water to cover by 2 inches, and leave for 30 minutes to an hour. Drain well and pat dry.

    Melt the butter in a large, heavy pot and sauté the squash and potato over very low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until they are slightly soft and slightly golden, stirring often to make sure they don't stick to the bottom.

    Bring the chicken broth to a slow boil an add it carefully to the pan with a pinch of coarse salt. Simmer the mixture, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring once in a while. Drain the vegetables, add the sage and coriander (optional) and puree them together in a food mill or processor. Return the puree to the pot with the liquid, add the bouillon cube, being sure it dissolves completely, and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes more over a very low fire, mixing well and tasting for seasoning.

    If the soup lacks the taste you'd like, add more bouillon cube or more salt. if the soup is too think slowly boil it down to the desired consistency. At the end, add the milk, stirring constantly. Serve with a sprinkling of parsley over the top.

    I use a peeler for taking the skin off peppers instead of roasting them, to allow them to be firm before sautéing.
    Serves 3-4

  • 2-3 meaty bell peppers, yellow preferably
  • 16 to 20 fresh basil leaves
  • 2-3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 pound pasta
  • Wash the peppers in cold water. Cut them lengthwise and discard the seeds and pulpy core. Peel the peppers, using a blade peeler. Cut the peppers lengthwise into strips about 1/2 inch wide, then cut those slices in two.

    Rinse the basil leaves in water, gently pat them dry, rip the larger ones into smaller pieces, wrap them in a paper towel and put them in the refrigerator until ready to use.

    Choose a sauté pan that can accommodate all the peppers without crowding. Add the olive oil and garlic and turn the temperature to medium high. Cook and stir the garlic until it turns a light brown, them remove and discard it.

    Put the peppers in the pan and continue to cook for another fifteen minutes, stirring frequently. Stop cooking while the peppers are still tender, but not mushy. Add salt, stir and take off the heat.

    Cook the pasta. When you are almost ready to drain and toss the pasta, melt the butter in a small saucepan at low heat and turn the heat on very low for the sautéed peppers.

    Toss the cooked drained pasta with the peppers, then add the melted butter, grated parmesan and basil and toss again before serving at once.

    Risotto is one of my favorite things to cook. Here's a squash flavored recipe, followed by ideas to substitute for the squash. Once the risotto tastes the way you'd like to eat it, you'll make it often, wondering why it took you so long to make this simple and tasty food!

  • 3 cups (1 lb.) peeled, seeded, and diced pumpkin or butternut squash
  • 3.5 cups chicken broth, or 3 chicken bouillon cubes dissolved in 3 cups of water
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 cups Carnaroli, Vialone Nano or Arborio rice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz.) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Cook the diced pumpkin in the barely simmering broth in a covered 3-quart pot for ten minutes. In a separate large pan, add the olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter and the onion, cooking the onion until it becomes barely translucent. Sprinkle a little salt on the onion as it cooks.

    Add the rice and stir it for one minute to coat the grains. Add two soup ladles (1 cup) to the pan, and turn the heat up to medium-high. Immediately begin to stir with a wooden spoon. Until the rice is cooked, you'll need to stir the pot often, assuring that the rice does not burn or the liquid does not dry up. After five minutes, add the squash.

    As the liquid becomes absorbed, add two more ladlefuls of broth, continuing this process until the risotto is al dente and the broth in this pot has been absorbed. That means "to taste", and you'll need to taste a grain now and then until the consistency is just perfect. At that moment, turn off the heat, add the remaining butter and cheese and parsley and serve on warm plates.

    For the recipe above, substitute sliced mushrooms, asparagus, peas, seafood, chicken, or almost any vegetable.I like to add a cup of white wine just before the first ladles of broth. You can substitute beef or vegetable broth for the chicken broth. The more you cook this dish, the more you will enjoy preparing it.

    I think the secret is the temperature of the burner. When the risotto is cooked on too low a heat, it becomes mushy. If you stand by the pan and make sure the bottom of the pan is never dry, moving your spoon under the rice and across the pan, making sure there is always liquid in the pan, you will be a success. The process should take less than twenty minutes, and it is worth every minute. Bravo!

  • 1 pound of fine white flour (grade 00 if you wish to use Italian flour, or American cake flour, which has slightly more gluten and is thus better because it will make for somewhat firmer pasta)
  • 4 eggs (you can also increase the number of yolks while decreasing the volume of whites proportionally to make richer pasta)
  • A healthy pinch of salt
  • Make a mound with the flour on your work surface and scoop out a well in the middle. Pour the eggs into the hole, add the salt, and work the eggs and the flour together till you have a smooth dough, adding just a drop of water if necessary, and no more.

    Knead the dough for ten to fifteen minutes, until it is smooth, firm, and quite elastic. Don't skimp on the kneading or the dough will tear while you're rolling it out.

    You are now ready for the hard part: separate the dough into two pieces. Flour your work surface and start to roll out the dough, rolling from the middle, flipping it occasionally, and flouring it as necessary to keep it from sticking.

    To keep the sheet from breaking, once it has reached a certain size, roll it up around the rolling pin and then invert the rolling pin. You can, as you are unrolling the sheet, gently stretch it by holding the unrolled part firm and pulling gently away with the rolling pin.

    Keep on flipping and rolling till you have a sheet that's almost transparent -- as thin as a dime, or thinner, if you can manage it (the pasta will almost double in thickness while cooking).

    Once you've rolled out the sheet, either use it to make stuffed pasta such as ravioli or tortellini, for lasagna, or cut it into strips. If you choose the latter course the easiest thing to do is roll the sheet of dough up into a tube, then slice the tube into rounds of the desired width and unroll them so the strands come free; set them to dry on a rack or between two chair backs, supported by a towel (you often see this in the country). Roll out the second piece and cut it as you did the first.

    Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water. Since it's fresh, it will cook in three to five minutes. Soft wheat flour has much less gluten than the durum wheat used in commercially prepared dry pastas, and will become flabby if it overcooks.

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