Archive for category Italian

Fisherman’s Wharf Cioppino

cioppinoI’m naming this Fisherman’s Wharf Cioppino because the first time I ever had this dish I was on vacation in one of my all-time favorite cities: San Francisco. This seafood feast is one of the eight wonders of the food world. It’s origins lie in — as you may guess — Italy. For a “stew” of this complexity, it’s remarkably uncomplicated to make.

Like its cousin, Mediterranean Fish Stew, you can serve it with crusty bread. However, I also highly recommend serving it over pasta, preferably homemade pasta.

You’re going to need a very large kettle or pot for this. I use the pot I cook lobsters in.


5 tbsp olive oil

1 large Vidalia onion, chopped

1 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

2 large shallots, chopped

8 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups fish stock

1 cup all-natural clam juice (Snows is what I use)

1 28-oz can diced tomatoes with juice

1.5 cups dry white wine (Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay)

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 tbsp dried basil

1 tsp dried whole oregano

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tbsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp fennel seed

1.5 tsp salt

1 tsp coarse-ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 bay leaves

1.5 lbs catfish, salmon, halibut or cod, cut in pieces

1.5 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1.5 lbs sea scallops, cut in half

1 lb mussels, cleaned and debearded

1 lb littleneck clams, cleaned and scrubbed

1 lb lump crabmeat

1/2 lb calamari, bodies only cut in 1-in rings


Heat the oil in a lobster pot or large kettle over medium heat. Add the onions, shallots, pepper and garlic. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste, basil, oregano, thyme, salt, red pepper flakes, and coarse-ground black pepper. Cook for another several minutes.

Add the tomatoes (and their juices), clam juice, chicken stock, fish stock, white wine, fennel seeds and bay leaves. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 30 minutes until the flavors blend together.

Remove the cover and add the littleneck clams and mussels.  Cook, covered, for 5-10 minutes or until the shells open. Remove the shellfish with a slotted spoon and reserve. Be sure to throw away any clams or mussels that have not opened.

Next, add the scallops, shrimp, fish, crab meat and calamari rings. Cover and simmer for 5-7 minutes until everything is just cooked through. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Return the shellfish to the pot and stir in the parsley. Simmer for another 3-4 minutes.

Ladle into bowls and serve immediately with crusty bread. Or serve over pasta with Parmesan cheese on the side.




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Roasted Peppers With Garlic and Olive Oil

Bell-Peppers_This is a great little appetizer. It’s also a great sandwich topper. I particularly love this simple dish when I’m eating rolled fillets of anchovy with some crusty Italian bread and some really fine red wine, like Layer Cake Shiraz. (Of course I know it’s from Australia, but nobody says your red wine has to be from Italy to enjoy it with good Italian food!)

For this dish, I like using green, red, yellow and orange peppers. It adds intrigue to the flavor, going from the deeper flavor of the green bell pepper all the way up to the sweetness of the yellow.


8 fresh bell peppers (2 each of green, red, yellow and orange)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

6 cloves of garlic, sliced thin

Sea salt and coarse-ground black pepper (to taste)

5-6 basil leaves, stems removed and cut in strips (optional)


When it’s warm out, I like roasting the peppers on the grill. However, the weather shouldn’t deter you from making this. My mother made this using her old-fashioned oven.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Place the peppers on a baking sheet and roast in the oven, turning so that all sides are partially charred. This takes a good hour to accomplish, turning every 10 minutes or so. The peppers should look wrinkled and collapsed when they are done.

Remove from the oven and place the peppers in a paper bag for about 15 to 20 minutes. This will help loosen the skin so that they can be easily peeled.

When the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the stems and seeds, and peel the skin off.

Tear the peppers into long strips and put in a bowl with garlic slices and olive oil. Season with sea salt and coarse-ground black pepper to taste. Enjoy!


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Spaghetti Frittata

spaghetti frittataI grew up in a real Italian household. We never threw any food away. Leftovers were a big thing in my house, and my grandmother was a big believer that pasta (which we called macaroni) was better the second time around. To this day, Spaghetti Frittata is one of my favorite dishes. There’s nothing you can’t do with this to make it taste amazing.

Have some leftover spaghetti in your refrigerator? Do not throw it out. This is one of those recipes where you’re going to “wing it” because I’m making some assumptions and you’re going to have to “think outside the recipe.” There’s no other way to do it. This is not one of those dishes where you cook spaghetti fresh, and then make the frittata. It’s definitely made from leftovers.

So, for the sake of argument, we’re going to assume you have about a half pound of spaghetti with sauce left over in your refrigerator. We’ll go from there.


About 1/2 lb leftover spaghetti with sauce (okay, we also called this “gravy,” not sauce)

5 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 cup chopped Pancetta

12 oz baby spinach

1 tbsp Tuscan seasoning (I use McCormick’s)

1 tsp sea salt

1 tbsp freshly-ground black pepper

olive oil (for rubbing on the skillet)


Cook the Pancetta in a small skillet until just browned. Whisk together the eggs, milk and Parmesan cheese.

Place everything in a large bowl and mix well. It is important that the spaghetti is thoroughly coated with the egg mixture.

Rub a large oven-proof, non-stick skillet with olive oil and heat on medium-high. Pour the mixture into the skillet, cover and cook for about 20 minutes. While this is going on, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

After 20 minutes, transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes. This will ensure that the top of the frittata cooks.

Remove from the oven and allow it to sit on the stove, covered, for about 5 minutes.

Cut like a pizza and serve with a simple arugula salad.


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Vine Ripened Tomatoes With Goat Cheese, Pistachios, Fresh Basil and Balsamic Drizzle

Vine_Ripe_TomatoOkay, I have not yet taken a photo of this appetizer. I promise that I will as soon as possible, but I made this on a whim for a cookout and just didn’t get the chance. So, you will have to visualize this for the time being. You’re not going to layer these tomatoes in slices. You’re going to literally put the tomatoes back together after you cut them and dress them with goat cheese, pistachios and balsamic drizzle.

These are not only very easy to make, but also seriously addictive, I warn you. A friend of mine made these and told me that their guests ate so many of these appetizers that they never got to the main event.


6 vine-ripened tomatoes

1 cup pistachios, roughly chopped

8 oz goat cheese

2 tbsp Tuscan Seasoning (McCormick’s makes a great product)

Balsamic drizzle

8 large fresh basil leaves, trimmed and cut in strips

6 toothpicks


The first thing you want to do is slice off a bit of the bottom of each tomato so that they will stand up without rolling on their sides. Set aside.

Take the goat cheese out of the fridge and remove it from its packaging. Allow it to sit for about an hour until it comes to room temperature and becomes soft. Once it has reached that point, blend in the Tuscan seasoning. There’s no need to add salt. The Tuscan seasoning incorporates enough salt.

Slice each tomato into three layers, leaving the stems on the top piece. Spread goat cheese on the bottom layer, add pistachios, a few pieces of fresh basil, and some balsamic drizzle. Do the same with the second layer and put it on top of the bottom layer. Put the top piece on and put a toothpick through the top to hold it all together. Repeat for all tomatoes.

Just before serving, apply some balsamic drizzle on top of the entire batch. If you have any chopped pistachios left over, just distribute them around the edge of the plate. This is great served with crusty Italian bread and a nice glass of red wine.

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Martin & Bill’s Eggplant Caponata

EggplantI don’t know about you, but when I buy this stuff in a jar, it looks like cat food. That’s not the plan here. You should be able to identify the various ingredients in this great appetizer. This dish mixes the best tastes of summer with crushed red pepper and basil, among other things as you will see.

This dish is great on rice crackers, pita chips, bagel crisps or thinly sliced crusty bread.

The recipe calls for one large eggplant. If you use the Italian eggplant, they are generally a bit smaller so you’ll probably need two. The recipe also calls for pickled peppers. If you’re using pepperoncini or hot/sweet vinegar peppers, you should use about 3 or 4. If you’re using banana peppers, they are larger so you’ll probably need just two.


1 large eggplant

1 medium or large red onion

6 garlic cloves

3-4 pickled peppers (Pepperoncini, hot or sweet vinegar peppers)

1 medium red pepper

1 lemon, thinly sliced

3 tbsp capers

6-8 fresh basil leaves, trimmed and cut in strips

1 tbsp crushed red pepper (more if you choose)

5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided

sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

Rice crackers, pita chips, bagel crisps or thin-sliced crusty bread (for serving)


Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Roughly chop the pickled peppers and set aside for later.

Leaving the skin on, cut the eggplant into cubes. Roughly chop the onion, red pepper, and garlic. Put the ingredients into a bowl and add the crushed red pepper flakes and 3 tbsp of the olive oil, Add sea salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer to a baking sheet and scatter the lemon slices over the top. Place in the oven and cook for at least 25 minutes.

Remove the vegetables from the oven and allow them to cool slightly. Then, transfer them to a food process and chop roughly. Don’t do this on an automatic setting. Do this more or less manually so that you don’t pureé the vegetables.

Transfer this back into a bowl, and add the capers, basil, pickled peppers and remaining 2 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours. However, overnight results in a much better flavor.

Serve with rice crackers, pita chips, bagel crisps or crusty bread. A nice red wine goes well with this.

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