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Posted 02/02/2015

Spinach and Potato Gnocchi with Creamy Cheese Sauce

I remember a Sunday, long long time ago. I was about 8 years old, standing on a chair in my Nonna Lola’s kitchen, I don’t really remember what we were getting ready to celebrate, but all the farmers’ wives were in the kitchen as well.

All counters had been cleaned properly and then dusted with some flour, next thing I knew my grandmother placed a ball of green marbleized dough in front of me and went straight to the point :”Make me some Gnocchi!”.  It took me a few moments to process her request, then the obvious response  just poured out of my mouth: “Gnocchi? Nonna, I have no idea!”

“You don’t need to know much about it, all I need is your little hands, just start rolling!”  Continue Reading…

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Posted 01/27/2015

Spaghetti all’ Amatriciana

Today’s recipe is a classic of Roman cooking: the name comes from Amatrice, a town in Lazio; from here the farmers that travelled down to Rome with their produce, including fresh ewe’s milk cheese (pecorino) and mountain pigs, also imported this way of cooking maccheroni and bucatini. In our house this is in absolute our favorite sauce! Continue Reading…

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Posted 01/21/2015

Beets, Cucumber and Bottarga Salad

In Italy salad is one of those food items that makes it into your stomach just because “Mom has told you so!” You will rarely encounter a list of salads on our restaurant menus and in fact a handful of greens and a few chopped (or grated) carrots are all you can hope for to be served as a side dish to your steak or “rosticciana” ribs. Tuscans favor sautéed greens, roasted potatoes or vegetable stews like “Peperonata” to accompany their proteins.

Then I met Deb, and moved to Los Angeles where “People really eat salad before pasta???” The whole notion of considering salad as a stand alone dish still quite does not resonate with me, but as you can see I am adapting and making progress. However, don’t u dare ask me for salad to start your meal, you will rub me the wrong way! Continue Reading…

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Posted 01/21/2015

Extra Virgin Season 5 – “James Beard Supper”

I am often asked what inspires me when I use food to entertain, when I develop recipes for my jobs, or whenever I cook for my girls at home. It is not an easy answer. I did not attend culinary school, I did not slave for a decade on a famous chef’s line, and in all honesty I have never thought that food would become for me, one day, the exact medium to express my artistry… or become a job at all for that matter.

I grew up in the country, surrounded by farmers, hunters and their wives: for the most part short hairy ladies with old school names like Rosa, Guendalina and Renata. They were rugged to the impossible, never appeared tired, and always had a new joke to tell me… very often totally politically incorrect! Their hands were small and delicate, ideal to produce the tiniest and most succulent tortellini, but also as strong as a nutcracker and heavy as hammers when butchering a boar or harvesting roots from the vegetable garden. They were and always will be, along with my mother and grandmother the best cooks I ever met in my life. Continue Reading…

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Posted 01/20/2015

Branzino alla Vernaccia

I am the product of Tuscany’s inland, red wine runs through my veins. Along with Olive Oil it has been part of our family business for many decades, until severe weather damaged our vineyard twenty years ago. It really never mattered what kind of food was going to show up at the table, unsalted bread and red wine always arrived first. Well, actually the open flask of wine never, ever left the dining room table; always available to quench somebody’s thirst.

But my grandmother was born in Venice and in her repertoire she had some glorious fish recipes and yes, she used white wine.  Continue Reading…

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Posted 01/19/2015

Seared Scallops with Fava Bean Puree

I have created this recipe a few years back when developing the menus for The Montauk Yacht Club in Long Island NY. It was my very first culinary consulting job for a hospitality establishment,  I wanted to feature dishes that could be interpreted as elegant (if people really wanted to) but that retained the essence of my peasant roots.

I do believe that simplicity is elegance. I never mix too many ingredients together and actually enjoy the thinking process that for me is the first step in cooking new recipes: I cook in my head, every step, from the ingredients list to the plating. Never, ever, I have gotten into the kitchen asking myself “What do I have in my pantry? What can I cook tonight?”.  Continue Reading…

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Posted 01/19/2015

Lemon Panna Cotta with Red Wine Blackberry Sauce

Panna cotta is a somewhat ubiquitous dessert in Italian establishments; it is a straight recipe that many would consider a “Safe Dessert” for any Italian menu. Simple steps, easy to source ingredients, and most importantly a  fool prof execution (if you handle the gelatin right), make this dessert one of the ultimate aces up your sleeve when it comes to entertain.

However, in all honesty, I often have a bit of an issue with the proportion of cream/gelatin that goes into the traditional recipe. You see, gelatin helps the cream thicken enough so you can mold it into a small vessel and flip it on a plate for serving without compromising shape… or texture. And that is where my issue lies. I find traditional Panna Cotta way too thick for my taste. Continue Reading…

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Posted 01/14/2015

Extra Virgin Season 5 – “Deb’s Fashion Show”

I have been a friend and admirer of Zac Posen since his debut in the fashion world. He is a true New Yorker, super smart, uber chic, and crazy talented. It’s not just his gowns that I swoon over, it’s his cooking!!! We follow each other on Instagram, and he posts his culinary creations constantly. They are mouth watering, creative, healthy, and always served on his beautiful China. Continue Reading…

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Posted 01/13/2015

Linguine with Red Snapper

When I was a kid I remember spending wonderful summer moments fishing with my dad. When I was about 8 years old, he bought “the family” a raft with a 75 hp out-board Evinrude. I will never forget how does it feel to explore the coastline from the sea side, and not from shore. The amount of wonderful and mainly inaccessible spots we were able to reach and discover, indeed some of my best family memories ever. My father, brother and I would spend endless hours fishing with our spears, and most times we cooked our pray right on the beach. Continue Reading…

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