Cheese

Red Bell Peppers Stuffed with Smoked Sausage, Garlic Seared Spinach, Feta and Rice

These crunchy juicy sweet red bell peppers were just asking to get stuffed and baked, so we obliged with lots of savory stuff like spinach seared in tons of garlic and Italian olive oil, smoked Cajun sausages and Italian sausages, lots of feta cheese along with three other cheeses like Pecorino Romano grated inside with smoked Provolone and Gruyere on top, held together with our own spiced Jasmine rice… all made really creamy with roasted red pepper and tomato sauce.   They are crazy tasty awesome wonderful.

Shakshuka with Feta

Of all the fabulous dishes from the Middle East, this is one of our absolute favorites. Packed with exotic spices and savory flavors, it makes a perfect brunch on weekends and a fun breakfast for the whole family.

Chicken Roulade (Roll) in Mushroom & Thyme Cream Sauce with Dijon Mustard

This is the Chicken Roulade of our dreams, the one we first experienced in Florence and the hill towns of Tuscany… the extravagant chicken roll that incorporates every savory ingredient we ever wanted to include. Each roll is packed with so many layers of delicious that they must be tied together with cord, like culinary presents from the Umami Gods. Ingredients… First, air chilled free range chicken thighs pounded thin. Then a very thin layer of aged Prosciutto ham from Italy for that crazy umami ham vibe. Then the thin layer of bright green fresh basil from the garden. Then a layer of smoked Provolone cheese, even more savory and when it melts together with all the other crazy stuff, just fabulous. Now a layer of creamy fragrant Piquillo peppers from Basque Country, with that eye dazzling iridescent red color. And finally, at the center of this Roulade, a core of caramelized onions, garlic seared spinach, olive tapenade, creamy goat cheese with the herbs of Provence, bright red sun dried tomatoes and sauted porcini mushrooms to complete the roll. In a 14 inch cast iron pan, we saute in olive olive oil these cord wrapped packages until they are seared and melty inside, about 20 minutes. When each Roulade is sliced open, revealed are all these layers of savory other worldly flavors. But THEN we serve this crazy sumptuous Roulade with a Mushroom & Thyme Cream Sauce with Dijon Mustard for an umami explosion. Ingredients for the sauce… 1 pound brown cremini or porcini mushrooms, cut into thick slices2 – 4 shallots (depending on size) or 1 large onion, minced4 – 5 garlic cloves, crushed1/2 cup chardonnay1/2 cup Marsala (or Sherry)1/2 cup chicken broth (bone broth)1 1/2 cups cream1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil2 oz butter (1/2 stick)1 tablespoon duck […]

Italian Meat Loaf (Polpettone)

We first saw this gorgeous meatloaf (named Polpettone) in Tuscany, when we came across one of those big glass storefronts you find on the main streets in Florence, and the hill towns, with endless mind boggling dishes of food stretching from the doorway all the way across the wall, behind glass cases, with the whole store a dizzying aroma of umami goodness. When I tasted the amazingly complex flavors of this meatloaf, I instantly realized this was not my mom’s meatloaf.

Fajitas

This feast is a charred meat umami bomb straight out of West Texas, originally made in the 1800’s with beef strip steaks… in fact sometimes cowboys were paid in meat and not money.  Those were tough times, and it was a harsh rugged job.  So if you want to cowboy up, or just enjoy a real fiesta, this is the real deal. This time we switched it up and used seared chicken!  You can also use shrimp! Serve with tons of salsa, sour cream, cilantro, guacamole, hot sauce and warm tortillas.  And several ice cold beers.   Enjoy!

Black Bean Mexican Casserole with Spicy Sausage and Ricotta

This meal is real soul food from the heart of central Mexico and very different from the familiar restaurant style Tex/Mex cooking. Rebekah and I have been making this little feast for at least twenty five years… I think a good portion of our four kids’ DNA is made up of this family favorite. We always make two or three casseroles at once, and it makes endless lunches and dinners, and if frozen in the glass casserole dish, is an easy dinner for four any time you need it. It is hearty, healthy, spicy, addictive and deeply satisfying, a comfort food that is a real protein bomb… in which the flavors are both separate and yet married in a magical way.

Italian Sausages with Peppers and Onions

The first time I had this classic Italian-American delight was in New York at the Feast of San Gennaro on Mulberry Street in Little Italy. It was a savory revelation, an umami bomb inside some awesome hot toasted and buttered buns. I was hooked for life.

Chicken Piccata with Creamy Artichoke Hearts and Lemony Sauce

Piccata is an Italian style of cooking in which either veal or chicken is pounded flat into cutlets, dipped in egg whites, dredged in flour and Parmigiano cheese, and then pan fried.  Like all Italian cooking, very fresh and high quality ingredients are the secret.  We find that Parmigiano Reggiano that has been aged two to three years makes a big difference, as well as extra rich chicken bone broth, free range air chilled chicken thighs (much richer tasting than chicken breasts), and high quality virgin olive oil.  The combination of creamy young artichoke hearts and a lemony butter sauce make this meal a crowd favorite.  And if that crowd is your family and close friends, this meal will be the one they barge back into the kitchen for… to ask for seconds and thirds, and most of all, for more sauce.