Tag Archives: red wine

Fresh Garden Tomato Sauce

Fresh Garden Tomato Sauce

When the aroma from your fresh garden tomato sauce smells exactly like a tomato plucked right out of your garden on a sultry summer day you know you have the right recipe! With all the beautiful weather we have had this summer everyone has an abundance of produce coming out of their garden’s. What a better way to dive right in and try your hand at making your very own tomato sauce. And when you taste how delicious the puréed tomatoes are as a raw sauce you may just stop right there. After that first taste of the raw tomato sauce there might not be any left over to go to the next simmering step!

I was very excited when some friend’s of mine, Becky and Mike, offered up a large bag of their fresh garden plum tomatoes. I knew I wanted to make fresh garden tomato sauce with them right off the bat. This is a bit nastalgic for me because it reminds me of when my mother used to make fresh garden tomato sauce for us when I was young.

It’s really an easy process of peeling, seeding and then puréeing the tomatoes with some sautéed onions and garlic. The more tomatoes you have the longer it well take but it’s so worth it. The fact that you can freeze the sauce for a later date makes it all worth while! What I love about making this fresh garden tomato sauce, other then the fact that it smells utterly amazing, is it’s just as delicious eating it raw as cooked. In fact, when I make this I can’t decide which I like better so I continue on to make both cause it’s so darn simple to do that once you are in the process.

Once you see how easy to make your own sauce it may become a new family staple for you. You just might get inspired to make it a family affair having everyone join in to make homemade gnocchi or zucchini pasta too. Don’t forget the gourmet Caesar salad and then of course there’s an amazing ricotta pie or go for the death by chocolate meringue pie!



































  • 91 fresh garden tomatoes OR as many as you have
  • 1 tbsp sea salt, LESS if you have a smaller amount of plum tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp finely ground pepper
  • 5 lg fresh basil leaves
  • 1 lg dried bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup red wine – for the simmered sauce
  • 1 tsp finely ground Italian seasoning
  • 1 small Vadalia onion finely chopped
  • 4 extra lg OR 6 medium size garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup white wine to de-glaze the sautéed onions and garlic


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil adding in 1 tbsp of salt
  2. Core the stem side of all your tomatoes
  3. Get a large bowl of ice water ready to put the tomatoes in after you blanch them
  4. Add plum tomatoes to boiling water, 25-30 at a time and blanch for 30-45 seconds, it’s totally fine if it goes past 45 seconds cause it’s going to take you a minute or two to scoop the tomatoes out
  5. Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and submerse into the ice water
  6. Repeat until you have gone thru all your tomatoes
  7. Begin to remove the loosened skins from the tomatoes then placing into another bowl as you go
  8. Cut or tear tomatoes in half with your hands and remove most of the seeds putting pulp in one bowl and tomato flesh in another
  9. Spoon off any excess water that rises to the top of the bowl with all the tomato flesh
  10. Sauté chopped onion and garlic cloves til tranlucent
  11. De-glaze onions and garlic with 1/4 cup white wine
  12. Let the alcohol burn off and reduce slightly
  13. Begin to purée tomatoes and sauteed onions in the food processor in batches
  14. Add the puréed tomatoes/onions back into the large pan that you blanched the tomatoes in as you go along
  15. When done puréeing add salt and pepper to taste and voilà there is your raw sauce
  16. FOR RAW SAUCE: top pasta with raw sauce and sprinkle some fresh julienned basil, Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  17. FOR COOKED SAUCE: Put the pot of puréed tomatoes/onion back on the stove and add in the 5 extra lg fresh basil leaves, bay leaf, sugar, Italian spices, red wine and simmer for 1-2 hours…mangia mangia!!

Best Braciole Ever!

Best Braciole Ever!

Making Braciole for dinner or the holidays is one of those authentic comfort foods that’s so delicious it could easily become a tradition for you and your family, even if you are not Italian. Some of you may be asking yourself what is braciole? Well, it’s thinly sliced flank steak that’s rolled up and stuffed with Reggiano Parmigiano, Asiago, and fresh herbs. The braciole is sautéed in olive oil and garlic cloves and then simmered in a tomato-basil sauce for a couple of hours until tender and juicy. And I tell you it’s even better when re-heated the next day!

The Italians aren’t the only ones who have come up with this fun and creative idea of rolling up and stuffing thinly sliced beef then simmering or braising in a gravy until tender. There’s a German dish that I absolutely love that’s just as flavorful as braciole called beef rouladen. German beef rouladen is made up of thinly sliced top or bottom round stuffed with mustard, onions, bacon and pickles, then sautéed and braised in the oven with veggies in a beef and wine gravy until tender. It’s serve with sautéed red cabbage and spaetzle or potatoes and ooh is that scrumptious too! That will have to be another show I will put together for you!

Now that I have you in the mood for some creativity in the kitchen …get to work! lol You will be very happy to expand that recipe repertoire of yours after making this wonderful Italian braciole for dinner. Make sure to serve up your sliced braciole with a dollop of ricotta cheese on top of the pasta to give it that unexpected extra flavor and creaminess. I will get working on the German beef rouladen show for you:)

If you are going for the Italian theme you might as well treat yourself to some of my appetizer’s like baked asparagus wrapped in Prosciutto, or crab cakes with a homemade remoulade sauce. Then you can really go for it with my SECRET manicotti recipe or homemade spaghetti that’s totally fun for the whole family and easy to make! Then end it all with some chocolate eclairs with the BEST vanilla custard you have ever had …enjoy! 🙂



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  • 2 lb flank steak sliced horizontally into 3 layers
  • 1 cup grated Reggiano Parmigiano
  • 1 cup grated Asiago
  • 1 tbsp dried ground Italian seasonings
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 recipe tomato-basil sauce but simmered for 1 1/2 – 2 hours
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 cup red wine or white (I actually prefer to deglaze here with red)
  • 1 lb rigatoni


  • Start sautéing the veggies for the tomato-basil sauce and use the same pan for sautéing the braciole logs
  • Slice or have your butcher slice the 2 lb piece of flank steak into 3 horizontal layers
  • Then cut those pieces in half so you now have 6 semi-equal pieces
  • Sprinkle 1 tbsp each of Reggiano and Asiago on each piece
  • Lay whole basil leaves or chop basil and parsley and sprinkle onto flank slices
  • Roll up starting at the small end
  • Cut approx 40″ of cotton string and tie a knot at one of the ends
  • Then keep wrapping string all around the length of the rolled up flank til you are at the other end
  • Now come back tucking under each row of string going across like shown in the video til you get to the end and tie off a knot with the original piece of string you started with
  • Add 2 tbsp of olive oil a large pan and a few large cloves of garlic kept whole for extra flavor and sauté 3 rolled up pieces of braciole at a time
  • Brown on all sides on medium/high heat about 3-4  minutes each side (remove the garlic coves when golden and smear on a baguette and dip into the tomato-basil sauce when you start to simmer with braciole…YUM!)
  • After browning the second batch of (3) braciole add back in the first 3 and de-glaze with red wine (I used white in the show but prefer to use red here)
  • Add in puréed tomatoes and simmer for 1 1/2 – 2 hours
  • Take braciole rolls out and slice 3/8″-1/2″ thick
  • Serve with pasta (rigatoni) and a dollop of ricotta on top with a few slices of braciole and grated Reggiano…mangia, mangia.
  • PS- It’s even better re-heated the 2nd day! 🙂


Pulled Beef Taco’s & Mango Salsa

Pulled Beef Taco’s & Mango Salsa

Just wait until you taste the flavors in this pulled beef taco dish that ONLY uses three ingredients! Yes, that’s right we only use three ingredients… red wine, Trader Joe’s Autentica Salsa and a chuck roast that braises in the oven for two and a half hours with the cover off. I almost feel like we are cheating here by only using these three items because it seems as though something this amazing in taste, similar to Boeuf Bourguignon, should involve way more effort and ingredients. I think it’s important here to use the oven instead of a crock pot because the dry heat helps to caramelize the beef really building on all those layers of flavors.

This is the perfect dish for having groups of friends over because it’s a total make ahead dish. You can even make my mango salsa the day before. If you are really in a pinch for time you could always buy fresh made salsa at the store. I personally like to make this homemade pulled beef the morning of the party so that the house fills with all the aromas of the braising chuck roast, red wine and tomatoes. Really gets the juices flowing!

You can use your favorite hard taco shells to serve up the homemade pulled beef, corn and flour tortilla’s or even serve it on a bed of lettuce with shredded cheddar cheese and my mango salsa! I would also offer sour cream and Siracha in the side fixin’s and just let people go to town making their own creations. How fun is that?
You may just want to make my decadent Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake for dessert! You won’t believe how EASY it is to make! You could also try my Chocolate Crackle Cookies that melt in your mouth. Then there always Fresh Berry Granita or Berries in a Dreamy Cream for dessert too. You’ll be able to actually relax and have lots of fun with your family and friends.


























Ingredients for the Pulled Beef Taco’s:

  • 3 1/2 lb. beef chuck roast (look for some good marbling)
  • 1 bottle of red wine – Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 bottle Trader Joe’s Salsa – Autentica
  • 3 tbsn olive oil


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350º
  2. Slice  the chuck roast into 6 pieces
  3. Salt and pepper the pieces
  4. Add 3 tbsn of olive oil to a large pan on med/high heat and begin to add the beef pieces
  5. Turn up the heat to high and quickly sear all sides til browned – this takes 10 minutes
  6. Add in 3/4 of the bottle of red wine (be careful of steam here) and the whole jar of salsa
  7. Bring to a simmer and pop into the oven for 2 1/2 hrs.
  8. Every hour turn the beef pieces over so the other sides can caramelize
  9. At 2 1/2 hours take the braising meat out of the oven and begin to remove the beef to a dish wear you can start to pull apart the beef pieces
  10. Tilt the braising pan to the side so that you can skim off the fat that rendered out of the meat
  11. Pour the left over juice onto the pulled beef and serve with taco shells and my mango salsa…enjoy!

Ingredients for the Mango Salsa:

  • 2 lg mangoes chopped 1/4″ cubed – (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 avocado chopped 1/4″ cubed (1 cup)
  • 2 med/lg size tomato’s or 5 small tomato’s chopped 1/4″ cubed (1 cup)
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion (or yellow) FINELY chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 FINELY chopped jalapeno (2-3 tbsn)
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • a dash of Siracha (optional)
  • S & P


  1. Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. We really love to eats this salsa with blue chips too
  3. I have also served this salsa up on the tips of endive leaves, and or with a cooked shrimp on top of that ….yum!
  4. I must warn you this salsa is highly addictive……consume at your own risk! LOL

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TIP:  There is an easy way to get the pit out of a avocado which I have displayed in the pictures above.  After running the knife around the flesh of the avocado against the edges of the inside pit… put the knife down and twist the avocado halves and pull apart. Then stick the knife into the pit and do the same thing holding on to the knife with one hand and carefully twist the avocado pit and it will pop right out.  Then knock the pit off onto the board away from your hands.  This can be a little tricky the first time so I would advise that this would be for an adult to try.   Finally, Insert a large spoon and scoop the avocado along the edge of the avocado skin to remove avocado flesh.

Zucchini Spaghetti at Jaynee’s

Zucchini Spaghetti at Jaynee’s

Wow! Zucchini spaghetti…who would have ever thought? A gluten free dish full of nutrients that taste’s amazing and looks as gorgeous as does is the perfect path to healthy eating! Bringing you this zucchini spaghetti simmering with tomato, basil and red wine at Jaynee’s has inspired me to put together future recipes and shows like this one.

Jaynee and I cook the zucchini spaghetti in this recipe so that it’s al dente. For those of you who might not know what Al dente means it’s an Italian term meaning to have some tooth or bite to it where the texture isn’t too soft. This is kind of ironic because that’s exactly how I like to cook my wheat pasta. I can’t think of anything worse than pasta that is fully cooked to a soft texture.

It is really exciting all the different things you can do with these creative veggie noodles! From Thai themes where raw zucchini noodles are dressed with a citrus dressing made from puréed mangoes, cilantro, fresh lime juice, and avocado’s to tahini sauce puréed with green onions, coconut meat, ginger and fresh lemons. Not only are these dressings packed with anti-oxidants and exotic flavors but the citrus partially cooks the zucchini getting results similar to ceviche. The citrus actually softens the texture of the vegetable giving you a softer mouth feel crunch rather than a harsh raw bite.

It couldn’t get any easier to make these spiral veggie noodles with the new-fangled devices available out there. I purchased my Spiralizer at William Sonoma Outlet in Westbrook on a 30% off sale with an additional 20% off if I gave them my email. Can’t go wrong there. Here is the Spiralizer Amazon link offering a great deal too! Can’t wait for you to venture off into veggie noodle land. You will be amazed how fun and delicious it is to make this recipe. Hope you enjoy the show and keep a look out for future veggie noodle recipes 🙂






















Ingredients: Need “Spiralizer” or similar to make zucchini spaghetti

  • 4 med/lg zucchini
  • 1 small vadalia (sweet) onion chopped
  • OPTIONAL: 2 finely chopped garlic cloves – If you love garlic as I do
  • 1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes flavored with onion, garlic, celery and or green peppers OR your favorite can of peeled tomatoes in your cabinet (just need to add in 1/4 cup chopped peppers in addition to the onion/garlic above – chop up the whole peeled tomatoes as well to add in after you sauté veggies)
  • NOTE: If you use “whole peeled” tomatoes DO NOT use the juice too, tomatoes only, because the zucchini renders out a lot of water all on its own.
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 3 tbsn olive oil
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • S & P to taste
  • OPTIONAL: 1 small container of fresh ricotta to garnish at the end with the Parmesan


  1. Spiralize all 4 zucchini and place in a lg bowl
  2. Add chopped onion to 3 tbsp olive oil in a large fry pan on medium heat
  3. Sauté for 5 minutes til soft
  4. Add in Spiralized zucchini with 1/2 tsp salt and sauté 5 minutes on med/high heat- Make sure to stir a couple of times to help it from not sticking.  Sautéing on med/high will help to evaporate some of that liquid rendering out of the zucchini while sautéing– (If you saute on low it will just simmer in all the water, you will then have to drain a little of the water out of the pan)
  5. Add in tomatoes, red wine, s & p to taste and simmer 5 more minutes
  6. Plate up and top with your favorite grated Parmesan cheese
  7. OPTIONAL: Top with dollops of fresh ricotta and grated Parmesan

Bolognese Sauce Easy Gourmet

Bolognese Sauce Easy Gourmet RECIPE

025This homemade gourmet bolognese Sauce is like no other that I have ever had. Over the years I have worked hard to perfect this recipe to match a dish I used to have in Urbino, Italy. So all the hard work is done for you and now all you have to do is follow my recipe and savour over the most amazing and unique Bolognese sauce you’ll ever have.

During my college years I had the opportunity to go school in Urbino, Italy for a summer and fall semester. Urbino is a little Renaissance town located in the Marche region of Italy. It was two hours East of Florence (near the town of Pesaro on the east coast). It’s where black and white truffles are prevalent. The picture above is of Urbino, The Palazzo Ducale which now houses part of The Marche National Gallery. This renaissance town of Urbino is also where the great artist Raffaello was born in 1483. I had the opportunity to study renaissance art, restoration and language in Italy at the University of Urbino …being an art major and all I was in heaven living here!

Urbino was a magnificent place to be for all those months (which never seemed long enough) allowing me to fall in love with their art, their culture and the people there in Italy and what it’s really all about …big kinds hearts with a passion for enjoying life, and an amazing culinary appreciation!

The tender Prosciutto di Parma to mouth watering homemade pasta dishes found most places in Italy is to die for but there’s one bolognese dish in particular that I had in a restaurant in Urbino made with “strozzapreti” pasta which really stood out for me. The sauce was made with sautéed ground veal, ground pork, veal stock, heavy cream, red wine and fresh rosemary where the aromas alone will knock your socks off!  This is the dish, the bolognese sauce, in which I have derived my recipe from and the one in which I wish to share with you.  You should note that homemade gourmet bolognese recipe is NOT to be made with BEEF because it completely changes the flavors and does not taste at all like the oringinal bolognese recipe from Urbino.

I recently found this uniquely shaped pasta that they served the bolognese sauce with in Urbino called “StrozzaPreti” at one of my favorite local specialty shops, a gourmet cheese shop called Fromage right here in Old Saybrook, CT.  See, you can make my bolognese sauce and have it with the original pasta it was meant to be with. And while you are there you should pick up some white truffle oil to drizzle over the pasta sauce.

If you want this recipe to be gluten free you could always substitute out the pasta or gnocchi with a rice noodle and if you can’t have heavy cream you can substitute that with coconut cream and it would be just as delicious.

A marriage made in heaven is this bolognese sauce on my light and fluffy homemade potato gnocchi! Or try it on your own homemade pasta, and don’t forget a Caesar Salad! Last but not least you will need to tame that sweet tooth with a dessert like Pavlova, or Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie! Enjoy! 🙂











































INGREDIENTS: Serves 10-12 people or more if for appetizers.    

NOTE: THIS SAUCE FREEZES AMAZINGLY WELL so if you have sauce left over freeze in a container right away and all the hard work is DONE!

  • NOTE: DO NOT USE BEEF …this recipe will NOT have the right flavors if you use beef
  • 1 lb. ground veal
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1/3  cup grated carrots
  • 1/4 cup grated celery
  • 1 cup grated Vadalia Onion
  • 2 extra lg garlic cloves
  • 2 cups whole peeled tomatoes and juice
  • 2 slices applewood smoked or plain bacon cooked and finely chopped (approx 3 Tbsp finely chopped)
  • 1 1/2 cups good red wine
  • 2 cups heavy cream (or 2 cups coconut cream)
  • approx. 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1  1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Reggiano Parmesano cheese and more to finish
  • 1  tsp  and 1 Tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
  • White Truffle Oil (Optional)
  • 1 lb. dried Egg fettuccine or Strozzapreti pasta found at Fromage


  1. Add 3 tbsp olive oil to lg pan on medium/low
  2. Add grated carrots, celery, onion and smashed garlic cloves to olive oil and sauté for 12 minutes til light golden and soft
  3. Deglaze by adding 1/4 cup red wine, stir, add 1/2 tsp salt and continue to sauté until wine evaporates
  4. Add these cooked veggies to food processor with 2 cups whole peeled tomatoes and juice
  5. Pureé and set aside
  6. Add 3 tbsp olive oil to same pan and bring to med/high temp and then add 1 lb. only of veal/pork (1/2 veal, 1/2 pork)
  7. Keep on med/high temp and brown meat
  8. Deglaze first batch of meat with 1/4 cup red wine, stir, reduce and set aside in a med bowl
  9. Add 3 tbsp more olive oil back to same pan to brown next 1 lb. of ground veal/pork
  10. Repeating steps 6-9
  11. Put all browned meat back into pan and add in 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, pureed tomato/veggie mixture, and 1/4 cup red wine, 3 tbsp finely chopped crispy bacon, and 1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
  12. Cover (leave small opening for steam to evaporate) and simmer for 1 1/2 hrs. stirring every 20 minutes making sure to let steam from inside cover drain out of pan when you lift it off to stir
  13. Add in 2 cups heavy cream, 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary, 1/2 cup red wine and s&p to taste and simmer for 5-8 minutes …just need to warm thru
  14. Boil 1 lb. pasta and add to bolognese sauce …mangia mangia!

Pasta Sauce-Tomato Basil

Pasta Sauce-Tomato Basil

Homemade gourmet pasta sauce isn’t quick and easy when you spend hours sautéing sausages and simmering for 3 hours. We don’t always have the time for that especially around the busy holidays. Yet, you always seem to have unexpected family or friends dropping in. So here is a quick and easy homemade tomato-basil pasta sauce that you are going to love! Yes, a tomato basil pasta sauce that only takes about 30 minutes to make and stills fills your kitchen with those comforting aromas of tomatoes, garlic and basil that make you want to rip off a piece of crusty bread and dunk it right in.

The whole point of this recipe is quick and delicious…no chopping, just grating and only using one pan. We are still getting layers of gourmet flavors with the carrots, onions, garlic, tomatoes, red wine, dried and fresh herbs! This sauce also comes out with a thick consistency.  If you want a chunkier sauce you would just puree the first can with the sauteed vegetables until smooth, and with the other can of tomatoes you would pulse only a couple of times in the food processor keeping the tomatoes chunky then adding into the pan. Make it this way also if you like a chunkier VODKA SAUCE!  If you are using it for making pizza just puree everything and you are ready to go… you don’t even need to simmer the sauce at all just spread the raw sauce onto the raw dough and into the oven (the carrots, onions, and garlic were sauteed of course before you pureed them with the tomatoes. This homemade gourmet tomato basil pasta sauce will definitely help make your life a little easier while getting you rave reviews! Enjoy!


















  • 2 – 28.oz cans whole peeled tomatoes – NOTE: If you want a chunkier sauce puree til smooth ONLY 1 can with the sauteed vegetables and then other can pulse only a couple of times. Make It this way also if you like a chunkier VODKA SAUCE!
  • 1 carrot peeled
  • 1/2 lg onion grated
  • 2 lg garlic cloves thru garlic press
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp finely ground Italian seasonings
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 4-6 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup of red wine, cabernet, pinot noir what ever you are drinking 🙂


  1. Peel and the grated 1 carrot in sauce pan
  2. Cut lg onion in 1/2 peel and grate into same sauce pan
  3. Smash 2 lg clove of garlic and put thru garlic press and into same sauce pan
  4. Add 2 tbsp olive oil and put on med./low heat and begin to sauté
  5. Sauté for about 10 minutes on med/low til soften (you don’t want it to brown or burn)
  6. Deglaze by adding in 1/4 cup red wine (or white if you don’t have red)
  7. Simmer for 2 minutes and then add to food processor with 1 can whole peeled tomatoes
  8. Puree til a smooth consistency and then add to same pan.
  9. Puree the other can of whole peeled and add to pan as well…..NOTE: If you want a chunkier sauce puree til smooth ONLY 1 can with the sauteed vegetables and then other can pulse only a couple of times. Make It this way also if you like a chunkier VODKA SAUCE!
  10. Add 1 tbsp sugar, 1/2 tsp finely ground Italian seasonings, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper to taste and 5 fresh basil leaves
  11. Simmer for 20 minutes and serve with you favorite pasta, or chicken cutlet or ciabatta bread and sprinkle with some freshly grated Reggiano Parmeseano or Pecorino Romano and mangia!

Seafood Stuffed Artichokes

Seafood Stuffed Artichokes

Artichokes, any way you cook them are simply a treat because they are a seasonal veggie here on the east coast. 100 percent of all artichokes that are commercially grown in the U.S. come from California where you can pretty much buy them year round. My artichoke recipe is a tasty concoction of shrimp, sea scallops, fresh spinach, mushrooms, onion, garlic, Reggiano Parmesan, bread crumbs, red wine, extra dry vermouth and chicken broth. They are a lot of work granted but it’s not like you make these all the time and once you taste them you’ll want to set aside time in the future to plan for these babies!

The Artichoke is actually a relative of the thistle so if you ever see one fully mature they open into this incredibly gorgeous giant purple flower. That’s where the choke comes in because it’s a cluster of immature florets at the center of the artichoke which is not edible. This hairy-like choke in the center MUST be removed when you stuff them. I show you how to prep the artichokes and scrape out that choke in the photos below. This seafood stuffed artichoke recipe is delicious with my sun-dried tomato aioli sauce for dunking the leaf ends and heart and you can make this aioli dip a couple of days ahead. After these stuffed artichokes you may need a sweets recipe that you can make the day before like pavlova with fresh pineapple and berries, or chocolate-avocado mousse.

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Ingredients – Serves 4 People at 1 Stuffed Artichoke Each:

  • 1 recipe of sun-dried tomato aioli sauce
  • 4 large artichokes
  • 3 large sea scallops cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 10 lg shrimp cut into 1/2″ pieces (about 1/2 lb)
  • 3 strips of Boars Head Bacon
  • 6 button mushroom caps sliced thinly and then chopped
  • 6 oz. fresh spinach leaves coarsely chopped (a handful less than a bag)
  • 1/2 large spanish onion or Vidalia onion finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves put thru the garlic press
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup grated Reggiano Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp red wine (1/4 cup to deglaze onion/mushroom mixture and 2 Tbsp in the stuffing and 1/4 in baking dish with vermouth and chicken broth)
  • 3/4 cup dry vermouth
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tsp salt (1 Tsp for boiling the artichokes)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper


  1. Fill a large bowl with cold water and sliced up lemon
  2. Cut the ends off of the artichokes
  3. Cut 1  1/2 ” off the top
  4. Using your thumbs in the center of the artichoke pull apart as much as you can to loosen the inner layers a little
  5. Insert pointy spoon and begin to dig in to the center removing the purple pointy leaves and keep digging til you reach the hairy choke and then remove all of that too
  6. Rinse the center holes of the artichokes to fully remove any left over choke
  7. Always keep the all the artichokes in the lemon water bowl while working on them (it helps them from not turning too brown)
  8. Pour the whole bowl of lemon water and artichokes into a large pan and add 1 tsp salt
  9. Bring to a boil ( this will take about 15 minutes) and then simmer for 30 minutes
  10. Drain Artichokes and turn them upside down in a baking dish to further drain
  11. Cook up 3 pieces of Boars Head Bacon til crispy, chop and set aside
  12. Sauté the chopped onion, mushrooms caps and garlic cloves put thru press in 2 Tbsp of olive oil, 1 Tbsp butter, and 1/2 Tsp salt til golden about 12-15 minutes
  13. Add in 1/4 cup red wine to de-glaze pan, let reduce for 1 minute
  14. Add in fresh chopped spinach and cover for 2 minutes
  15. Mix spinach with tongs and take sauteed onion/mushroom/spinach mixture off of the stove  and put into a fresh bowl to let cool
  16. Wash, dry and chop sea scallops and shrimp to 1/2″ pieces
  17. When onion/mushroom mixture is cooled add in scallops, shrimp, Gruyere, Parmesan, chopped bacon, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper and 2 Tbsp red wine
  18. Mix items gently together
  19. Turn artichoke over in baking dish, drain any water left over at the bottom
  20. Stuff the artichokes with the seafood stuffing making sure to add in to all the layers of leaves going around the artichoke as shown in the photo
  21. When the artichoke is stuffed add in 3/4 cup extra-dry vermouth, 1/2 cup chicken broth and 1/4 cup red wine to the bottom of the baking dish
  22. Cover the Artichokes with foil and bake for 35 minutes
  23. Take Foil off and bake 5 minutes more
  24. Serve with sun-dried aioli sauce on the side for dipping the leaves and dunking the heart …mangia!

Pasta Sauce 101

Pasta Sauce 101

Pasta sauce is such an essential part of any kitchen that I want to share with you my basic pasta sauce that I use for so many things. What I don’t use right away I freeze in small pint-like containers for futures uses. A basic slow cooked pasta sauce can be used for virtually anything from plain pasta’s to lasagna, manicotti, stuffed shells, vodka sauce, sausage and peppers, curry sauces and the list goes on.

When making an authentic slow cooked pasta sauce it’s important that one of the base layers of flavors come from some kind of meat like sausages, pork chops, meatballs or braciole, thin cut flank steaks rolled and stuffed with herbs and parmesan and then sauteed like the sausages.  This method is something my family has been doing for generations. I happen to love the homemade fennel sausages from Liuzzi Cheese, an Italian delicatessen located in North Haven, CT. If you haven’t been there yet you really should check it out especially for their homemade cheeses like ricotta, mozzarella, and my favorite scamorza. Scamorza is an Italian cow’s milk cheese similar to mozzarella but dryer and a little saltier with better melting qualities…my kids love it! Liuzzi also has homemade pasta’s and their own delicious line of canned tomatoes and olive oils.

One of the best things about making this sauce is that your kitchen will smell amazing all day long. It would be wise to keep a crusty loaf of Italian or sourdough bread for dunking every now and then…you know, just to check and make sure every thing is going well! An appetizer dish that goes great with pasta and sauce is zucchini torta, baked asparagus wrapped in Prosciutto, baked coconut shrimp,wrapped, smoked salmon with cream cheese-caper spread on crostinis, clam puffs, or how about a  roasted beet salad with mint and feta, or a refreshing fennel and citrus salad with tangerine dressing. Then there always dessert to plan for like a fresh fruit pavlova, or chocolate-avocado mousse.

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  • 2 lbs. fennel sausage (your favorite) my favorite is Liuzzi in North Haven, CT
  • 5 28 oz. cans of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 lg. garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tsp salt
  • 1/2 Tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tsp Italian seasonings (ground in spice grinder)
  • 1/4 cup grated Reggiano Parmesan
  • 3 slices pesto butter log or handful of fresh basil leaves


  1. Slice up the sausage links into 3″ pieces
  2. Smash the garlic cloves with a large knife to release the cloves from it’s wrapper
  3. Add 3 Tbsp olive oil and 6 smashed garlic cloves to a large pan (this will be your sauce pan)
  4. Put the heat on low and sauté garlic til lightly golden … This will take about 7-10 minutes
  5. When the garlic is slightly golden remove from pan and set aside
  6. Add in sliced sausage links to the same sauce pan and turn heat up to medium/high
  7. Sauté sausage links turning every 5 minutes or so until they become golden on all sides…this will take about 20-30 minutes
  8. Put the 1/2 of the whole peeled tomatoes into a food processor (this will take 2 rounds with this large can) and then add the golden sauteed garlic cloves
  9. Puree for 40 seconds and add to the sautéed sausages
  10. Add the rest of the whole peeled tomatoes and puree for another 40 seconds and again add to the pot of sauce
  11. Add in the 2 cans of crushed tomatoes to the sauce pan (no need to purée these) and the cup of red wine
  12. Add in all the spices and turn heat to medium to bring to a simmer
  13. Cover the pan, leaving a little opening at the edge to let condensation escape during the cooking process
  14. Turn down right away to low heat and keep a low simmer for 2 1/2 hours
  15. When you take the pan cover off to check on sauce be sure to NOT let all this condensation drip back into the sauce from the inside of the lid
  16. Stir every 45 minutes or so to make sure bottom isn’t burning
  17. Towards the end oil will accumulate from the sausages on the top layer of the sauce so just skim this off with a spoon
  18. Serve and take off stove to let cool
  19. Put into frig or into container for the freezer