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Butternut Squash with Farfalle & Arugula in an Orange Dressing

I have arugula growing in the garden so I made my kids one of their favorite pasta dishes. If there’s any left over I put it in their lunch box because it tastes just as good at room temperature and it’s all inclusive: fruit, vegetable and starch in one meal.

Butternut Squash with Farfalle & Arugula in an Orange Dressing

This is a variation of one of my favorite summer snacks. My mom sliced oranges very thin, leaving the rind on, and then dressed them with oil, red wine vinegar and a sprinkle of salt & pepper.
5 quarts water, plus 1 tablespoon salt 1 pound of farfalle pasta
1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds) 3 seedless oranges
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
1/3 cup pecans or walnuts
2 cup of shredded arugula, firmly packed 1⁄4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

In a large pot over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Add the tablespoon of salt and cook the pasta according to the package directions or until al dente, 10 –12 minutes. Drain, toss immediately with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and leave at room temperature.
Cut the top off of the butternut squash. Using the smooth end as a base, cut vertically down the middle. Scoop out the seeds, then cut into 6 or 8 vertical strips. Cut the flesh from the skin, discarding skin, and cube the flesh. Put cubes in a bowl and sprinkle with vegetable oil. Then, spread them on a cookie sheet and bake at 425 ̊ for 25 to 35 minutes. Remove and cool (I like them to be cooked through with a little char).

Cut the ends off of two of the oranges and then peel them down to the flesh, so that no white pith remains.

Cut into slices about a 1/4 inch thick and remove seeds. (This is called “supreming” an orange, and you can find “how to” videos on YouTube if this is unclear). Zest the remaining orange and juice it, setting the zest and the juice aside.
In a heavy skillet heated to medium high, toast the walnuts or pecans for about 2 minutes, tossing to prevent burning. Set aside.
Add two tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet and cook the garlic until golden, then reserve it with the oil.
To make the dressing, place the orange juice and balsamic vinegar in a blender. Blend together while slowly adding remaining olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.
Add the shredded arugula to the pasta along with butternut squash, orange slices, orange zest, garlic, garlic oil, and toasted nuts. Add the dressing and sprinkle with the Romano.

Preserved Lemon Pizza with Arugula, Pecorino Cheese & Pepper

Preserved Lemon Pizza with Arugula, Pecorino Cheese & Pepper

1 pizza crust, rolled out on a cornmeal-dusted paddle 3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 preserved lemon cut into thin slices, seeds removed
2 cups of coarsely chopped arugula
coarsely ground sea salt and black pepper
2 cups shaved Pecorino Romano

Place a pizza stone in an oven set at 500 ̊ for about a half an hour. Spread 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over the entire pizza crust.

Bake for 2 minutes.

Top evenly with preserved lemons and prosciutto and sprinkle with generous amounts of pepper (remember to tilt it before you put it into the oven to make sure it will slide off of the paddle) then slide it onto the pizza stone and bake for 4 minutes and remove.

Add the remaining olive oil to the arugula and toss, then spread it over the pizza then top with the shaved pecorino.

Slide back into the oven and bake another minute or two (until slightly brown around the edges).

Preserved Lemons

Make sure to preserve a jar or two of Meyers Lemons this winter. I use them on a lot of dishes (and even martinis).

Preserved Lemons
(It will be two months before they are ready)

6 medium lemons, preferably Meyer 1 cup Kosher Salt
1 tablespoon cardamom pods
3 bay leaves
1 cup lemon juice

Cut the lemons in quarters lengthwise, leaving them attached at one end. Rub the flesh with salt.

Place 1 tablespoon of salt at the bottom of a quart ar. Place the lemons in the jar, alternating with the cardamom, bay leaf, and salt. Pour in enough lemon juice to cover the lemons.

Seal, refrigerate, and shake often.

Chocolate Tart with Raspberry Sauce

Chocolate Tart
12 ounces semisweet chocolate 5 tablespoons brewed espresso 2 cups sugar
1 cups unsalted butter
6 large eggs, separated
1 cup all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

Preheat oven to 375 ̊.
Lightly butter a 9-inch spring-form pan and dust with flour. Shake out any excess flour.

Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over hot simmering water, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool until tepid.

At medium-high speed, cream the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Add the egg-yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in flour. Add the melted chocolate, then the espresso.

Beat egg whites until they form stiff, shiny peaks. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture a quarter at a time. It is important to have clean blades on your mixer when doing the egg whites. Make sure there is no butter fat from the previous step or the whites will not become stiff.

Fold into the prepared pan and bake until the top is crusty and middle is still slightly moist, about 60 minutes.

Raspberry Sauce
2 (12 ounce) bags frozen (with no sugar added) raspberries 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2/3 cups sugar

Thaw the raspberries in a strainer over a bowl.
Puree the raspberries and sieve them with a food mill fitted with a fine disc. You should have 1 liquid cup puree. Stir in lemon juice.
Stir in sugar until it dissolves. If you have less liquid add less sugar. (adjust sugar to volume of liquid, to 1 cup liquid add 1/2 cup of sugar)

1/2 pint of whipped cream teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 cup of sugar

Whip the cream in a mixing bowl at high speed. When you see it start to get a little thicker, add the sugar and vanilla and beat a little longer until it just turns thick. (Don’t do it too long or you’ll have butter.)

For each serving, pour a little raspberry sauce in a dessert dish, place a slice of cake on top and then add the whipped cream and sprig of mint

Frisée Salad with Caramelized Red Onions, Pancetta & Gorgonzola in a Raspberry Vinaigrette

This time of year, there are a lot of hardy greens at the grocery. I’m making this salad for a Cooking & Singing show that I’m doing on Saturday.

Frisée Salad with Caramelized Red Onions, Pancetta & Gorgonzola in a Raspberry Vinaigrette

1 head frisée
1 red onion, peeled, cut in half and thinly sliced
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 ounces Gorgonzola, crumbled or evenly divided for four 2 ounces pancetta
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
4 tablespoons water
Ground salt & fresh ground pepper

Cut the pancetta into small pieces. Cook in a little olive oil in a large wok over medium heat until crispy. Place on a paper towel to drain. Turn off the heat, and remove some but not all of the drippings from the wok.

In a heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the
onions and sauté until they become soft and translucent. Add 2 tablespoons of
balsamic vinegar and continue to sauté until liquid is absorbed. Add 2 tablespoons of water and cover for about 2 minutes. When the liquid is absorbed add more balsamic vinegar and continue alternating this way until the onions are very soft and caramelized.

Add the remaining oil to the wok and turn to medium high.

Rinse the frisée (it is not necessary to dry it), add to the wok all at once and stir until just slightly wilted, about half a minute.

Divide the frisée onto four salad plates. Top with onions, then Pancetta and Gorgonzola, and sprinkle with raspberry vinegar.

Add ground salt and fresh pepper to taste.

Bolognese Sauce

Try this dish on Sunday when you have extra time on your hands. You can stir the sauce while you’re watching the Super Bowl or get your brother to do it and go run your errands (Think Goodfellows). Caveat: It’s a heavy meal and could put your guests to sleep, if the game already hasn’t.

Bolognese Sauce

3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 small carrot, peeled and finely diced 1⁄2 pound ground beef
1⁄2 pound ground turkey
1⁄2 pound ground pork
1⁄4 pound pancetta, diced
3⁄4 cup milk
3⁄4 cup white wine
28 ounce can Italian plum tomatoes
6 ounces of tomato sauce
fresh ground nutmeg
red pepper flakes
Italian parsley
ground pecorino cheese

●  In a large heavy frying pan over medium-low heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and saute, stirring frequently, until it is translucent, about 8 minutes.
●  Add the ground meat, breaking it up with a fork. Saute, stirring frequently, until no longer pink, add the pancetta a stir a minute longer.
●  Stir in the milk and simmer until it has evaporated, about 8 minutes.
●  Add the wine and simmer until it has evaporated, about 8 minutes more.
●  Add the tomatoes, sauce and nutmeg, salt and red pepper flakes.
●  Simmer stirring occasionally at least 2 1⁄2 hours.

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I grew up in the steel-mill town of Mingo Junction, Ohio. My parents are Italian Immigrants and my Dad worked in the mill. I learned about music through listening to a.m. radio and the times we went to the Country Music Jamboree in Wheeling, W.Va., which is twenty miles down The Ohio River. The first concert I saw was Kitty Wells. My parents grew large vegetable gardens and an orchard, and made their own wine. As a kid, it was a place for idle summers and sandlot baseball, but as I grew older, it became a place to leave.

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In our house where I grew up in Ohio we had two kitchens. My mom kept an upstairs kitchen that was reserved for holidays and special occasions. At Christmas time she used the extra oven to bake massive amounts of Italian cookies and panetonne (Italian sweet cake). In the basement we had our everyday kitchen that was open to the garage and had a 1956 Mercury parked a few feet from the dinner table. It sat there with it’s two conical bumper extensions aimed at my head. During dinner we could hear it creaking and moaning while the engine cooled off. This was our 1950’s version of the “great room.”

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