Time for a new Thanksgiving tradition with Pasta Sfoglia recipe

Ron- and Colleen share an appetite for good fresh food

Turkey too hum-drum?  It's time to start a new tradition with a sensational holiday recipe from Sfogila chef restaurateur Ron Suhanosky.

Nonna's Holiday Crab and Lobster Sauce Spaghetti is a childhood favorite of the New York chef and co-owner with wife, Colleen, of two acclaimed Italian bistros - one in NYC, the other in Nantucket. We're sure it will become a much anticipated favorite in your family as well.

Suhanosky idled many a childhood afternoon in the kitchen with his grandmother and great-grandmother, watching and learning and inhaling the happiness their cooking brought to the family.

"I always saw her in the kitchen. I could see how happy she was and I wanted to be that happy," he says. "Food was the element for bringing people together."

The Suhanoskys, whose Italian heritage is central to their appetite for slow food prepared from whole, fresh and local ingredients, both grew up in families where lavish family meals were customary on holidays.  

Suhanosky's background is Polish, Hungarian and Italian while his wife's is Sicilian and French.

He dreams of pasta, mixing textures and flavors - both sweet and savory - in the manner of skilled chefs of the Italian Renaissance.  His province in the kitchen is all things savory while hers is all things deliciously, decadently sweet.

"I started experimenting with old traditions, dried fruits, savory with sweet," Suhanosky says. "I'm usually hungry when I start working on a menu."

Pasta is the quintessential italian comfort food. It melds cultural tradition and simple ingredients to produce memorable moments at the table. Suhanosky's nonna's classic seafood sauce is a holiday tradition that can be yours for the making.

adapted from the Suhanosky's recently published cookbook PASTA sfoglia from Wiley

Nonna's Holiday Crab and Lobster Sauce

serves 8


2 tablespoons grape seed oil

3 cloves garlic, smashed

6 live blue Maryland crabs, cleaned (see Note)

Two 1-pound 12-ounce cans peeled whole San Marzano tomatoes, passed through a food mill

8 cups water

3 lobster tails

1/4 cup finely chopped preserved lemons (Pasta sfoglia provides a recipe, but you may purchase these ready made)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound good quality spaghetti

Optional garnish: 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, basil or dill

1. Add the grape seed oil, garlic and crabs to a large sauce pan or stock pot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally until the crabs turn red, about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for three more minutes.  Add the pureed tomatoes and 4 cups of the water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer until reduced by half, about two hours. Add the lobster tails and 2 cups of the water and cook for 30 minutes. Let cool and refrigerate overnight.

2. Turn on the heat under the sauce to medium-high. Add the remaining two cups of water and stir to combine.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

3. Remove the crab and lobster to a serving platter. Stir the lemons, salt and pepper into the sauce.

4. Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook according to the package directions. Two minutes before the pasta cooking time is complete, use a wire mesh skimmer or tongs to remove the spaghetti from the pot and place them directly into the sauce.  Stir to combine.

5. Serve immediately with the platter of crabs and lobster tails on the side. Sprinkle finely chopped herbs of your choice over everything, if desired.

NOTE: Crabs are bottom feeders so they need to be thoroughly cleaned before they're cooked. Soak them in generously salted water for 24 hours. When you remove them from the water, they are no longer alive. Use a stiff brush to clean between and under the legs.

Terrific salads from turkey leftovers & beautiful berries

Berry beautiful blackberry turkey salad

Tired of the same old, same old post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches?

Toss the bread and fat-laden mayo aside for these new takes on turkey salad. The secret to these easy recipes is berries. 

Fresh berries add a burst of flavor, a bit of texture and, of course, up the health quotient.

This Blackberry Rice Turkey Salad from Driscoll’s is a quick and easy way to give your leftover turkey a makeover. Aside from being tasty, blackberries serve double-duty by adding dietary fiber, heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats, Vitamin C and antioxidants to your diet.

Another wonderful menu
option any day of the year is this Raspberry Turkey Salad recipe from Driscoll's. Snap peas add texture and crunch while raspberries add color (and a healthy dose of antioxidants) to this light and fresh salad.

Driscoll’s is offering $.50 coupons through their website  Just click and print!

Blackberry Rice Turkey Salad

Prep time: 10 minute plus rice cook-time
Makes 4 servings


Rice Salad

1             package (6 ounces) Driscoll’s Blackberries
3             cups whole grain brown and wild rice, cooked
1 1/2       cups turkey, cooked and cubed
1             cup celery, thinly sliced
3/4          cup radish, thinly sliced
1/3          cup glazed walnuts, coarsely chopped

1/3          cup olive oil
1             teaspoon Dijon mustard, coarse ground
2             tablespoons lemon juice
1             teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2          teaspoon salt
1/4          teaspoon black pepper

For the rice salad, mix blackberries, rice, turkey, celery, radishes and walnuts in medium bowl.
Stir in just enough vinaigrette to moisten salad.  Serve or refrigerate until serving.

For the vinaigrette, whisk olive oil, mustard, lemon juice, thyme leaves, salt and pepper in a bowl until blended. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Nutrition Per Serving: 497 calories, 25.63g total fat, 4.00g saturated fat, 20.23g protein, 47.18g carbohydrate, 40.42mg cholesterol, 4.89g fiber, 434mg sodium

Raspberry Turkey Salad Crisp and delicious raspberry turkey salad
Prep time: 10 min
Makes: 2 servings

1   package (6 ounces) Driscoll’s Raspberries, rinsed and divided
¼  cup balsamic vinegar
½  teaspoon sugar
¼  teaspoon black pepper, coarse and ground
4   ounces field greens
4   ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed and blanched
6   ounces turkey strips, cooked and sliced
2   ounces ricotta salata cheese, grated
Purée 1/2 cup of the raspberries, balsamic vinegar, and sugar in a food processor or blender; strain. Stir in black pepper.
Combine field greens, remaining 1 cup raspberries, sugar snap peas and turkey in medium bowl.

Drizzle dressing over salad. Toss until evenly coated. Divide between two serving plates. Sprinkle with cheese.

Nutrition Per Serving: 302 calories, 7.73g total fat, 3.50g saturated fat, 31.97g protein, 23.74g carbohydrate, 78.36mg cholesterol, 8.20g fiber, 137mg sodium

An Unforgettable Holiday Dessert Recipe from Dede Wilson

Fabulously different & delicious pumpkin pie

Fed up with the same old, tired pumpkin pie for dessert?  This year try something deliciously different and sure to be an unforgettable finish to the holiday meal.

Celebrity cookbook author DeDe (pronounced Day-Day) Wilson took time recently to share her fantastic take on the traditional pie - Amaretto-Almond Crunch Pumpkin Pie. Creamy classic pumpkin custard shot through with Amaretto and topped with a luscious Amaretti-Almond streusel, this pie is bursting with flavor and texture.

Wilson, who loves to cook everything, but has an affinity for decadent desserts, says her recipes are for anyone who is interested in the art of baking.

"I'm self-taught," says Wilson. "I grew up in a family with a mother and father who loved to cook. Everything was from scratch and authentic international ingredients. I didn't realize that this was educating my palate. You can do this."

Her recipe is easy as pie and straight from her recently published dessert cookbook, Unforgettable Desserts (Wiley, Hardcover, October 2009i, $29.99).

Amaretto-Almond Crunch Pumpkin Pie

serves 8 to 10

To use current parlance, my BFF is a fabulous woman named Juanita Plimpton. She is not a cook—but she is an amazing taster and is able to consistently give me extremely helpful critiques. On one occasion she provided me with an entire concept. “Why not,” she asked, “create a pumpkin pie with the flavors of almond and amaretto?” I never would have come up with this myself—and she was right. This is sensational in flavor as well as texture. Picture a fairly classic pumpkin pie flavored with a shot of amaretto liqueur, topped with a crunchy blend of amaretti cookies and almonds—almost a streusel. The juxtaposition of creamy pumpkin custard and ultracrisp topping is unexpected and exciting.


20 Lazzaroni Amaretti di Saronno cookies

¼ cup blanched sliced almonds

1 recipe Double Butter Piecrust (recipe below), chilled and ready to roll out


One 15-ounce can pure solid-pack pumpkin

¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon salt

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 tablespoons Disaronno Amaretto

For the topping: Crumble the cookies by hand into a small bowl. The pieces should be about ¼-inch chunks, more or less. Toss with the almonds; set aside.

1 ) Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat a 9 x 1¼-inch tempered glass pie plate with nonstick spray.

2 ) Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 13-inch round. Transfer to the pie dish. Fold the edge under, and crimp decoratively into a high border. Line with foil and weights and blind-bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until just beginning to color. Remove the foil and weights. Bake until the crust is tinged very light brown, pressing with the back of a fork if the crust bubbles, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.

For the filling: scrape the pumpkin into a food processor fitted with the metal blade attachment. Process for 15 seconds; scrape down the sides and process for 15 seconds more. Pulse in the brown sugar, spices, and salt until combined. Pulse in the eggs one at a time until blended, scraping down once or twice if necessary. Pulse in the cream and liqueur. Finish off by processing for 5 seconds to smooth out the mixture. Pour the filling into the crust. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the filling is set around the edges, and quivers in the center when you gently shake the pie dish. Cool the pie plate on a rack. The pie is best served the day it is made.

Store at room temperature, loosely covered with foil.

Double Butter Piecrust

After years of making piecrust in a variety of ways I have come to prefer an all-butter crust made in the food processor with ice water. The flavor is exceptional, and since the metal blade is so sharp and fast, it cuts the chilled butter in quickly, yielding a flaky textured crust. The proportions are quite typical, and if you do not have a food processor, feel free to make it by hand. In either case take care not to overwork it.


2½ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

4 to 6 tablespoons ice-cold water

To make with a food processor:

Put the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade attachment and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse on and off until it forms a very coarse meal; there might be pockets of butter that are larger, which is fine. Drizzle in the smaller amount of water through the feed tube and pulse until the dough is moistened and just holds together if squeezed. Add additional water only if necessary.

To make by hand:

Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Add the butter and cut in, using a pastry blender or two knives, until the fat is cut into approximately ⅛-inch pieces. Sprinkle the smaller amount of water over the flour mixture and toss with fingers or a fork until evenly moistened and the dough just holds together if squeezed. Add additional water only if necessary.

To continue for either technique:

Gather the dough into one or two balls and flatten into a disk or disks. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. It may also be frozen for 1 month, in which case, protect it further by placing in a

zipper-top bag; defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Let the dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.

The Republic of Tea serves dessert in a teacup

Coconut Cocoa Dessert Tea I've heard there are people who don't like dessert.  I am not one of them.

The thought of ending a meal without something sweet makes me sad.  But then I remind myself that dark chocolate is chock full of anti-oxidants and no more blues.

When I heard The Republic of Tea was introducing a new dessert tea - specifically chocolate - I was ready to give it a taste test.

The Republic's Minister of Enlightenment was kind enough to send me the new Coconut Cocoa Dessert Tea and a recipe for Chocolate Coconut Iced Latte.

The low caffeine dessert tea is an herbal blend of roasted carob, caramel malted barley, roasted chicory, dates, coconut flavor, cocoa powder and chocolate flavor. 

Since my only experience with barley is in soup and my acquaintance with chicory is limited to its use as a coffee substitute, I wasn't sure what to expect when I opened the canister. 

A little research demonstrated that both barley and chicory are good, good, good for you as a brew. Barley is reported to aid digestion and ease congestion and bronchitis symptoms while chicory is said to cleanse the blood and improve the health of the liver.

Chocolate and coconut added to the mix could only be a bonus.

Opening the canister, I got a whiff of the wonderful pleasures to come.  The aromas of coconut and coconut were rich and dark, like a delicious cordial.

I put the kettle on and got the teapot ready.  My mother and I watched the kettle impatiently.  After rinsing the pot, we poured the hot water over two tea bags and waited for the tea to steep sufficiently.

The tea's color was a deep, nut brown and the aroma was lovely and tropical. I was happy just smelling my cup. 

Normally, I take milk and sugar in my tea, but since The Republic promised this tea was naturally sweet (and therefore a low calorie treat), I took my first indulgence without the usual suspects.  It is naturally sweet and could certainly be consumed without any addition.

But I am a creature of habit and nothing says tea cozy like a milky-sweet cup. I added my sweet addictions and finished the last drop.

My mother is a tea purist. She takes her tea with a teaspoon of sugar, no more, and no lemon, no milk. Nothing fancy for her. Black tea or green tea keeps it simple.  She found the coconut overwhelming. It was not her cup of tea.

Of course, I loved it. Coconut Cocoa Dessert Tea lends itself to lingering after dinner and I'm pretty sure it would pair quite nicely with a mango mousse or pumpkin cheesecake.

Coconut Cocoa Dessert Tea is packaged in a recyclable tin containing 36 unbleached, round tea bags free of unnecessary strings, tags and staples. Available now, the dessert tea has a suggested retail price of $9.50.

Also available from The Republic of Tea is Double Dark Chocolate Mate, an organic roasted yerba mate from Brazil generously dusted with all-natural dark organic cocoa powder. Available now, the dessert tea has a suggested retail price of $15 for a tin containing 36 unbleached round tea bags.

Chocolate Coconut Iced Latte

Yields one serving.


2 tea bags, Coconut Cocoa Dessert Tea

6 ounces filtered water, heated to boiling

3 ounces milk or milk substitute

Sweetener, if preferred

Brew two tea bags in 6 ounces of filtered water for five minutes. Remove tea bags and allow tea to cool.

Add 3 ounces of milk or milk substitute. Blend milk and tea. Serve in a tall glass over crushed ice. Sweeten as desired.

Pasta Sfoglia: a pasta primer from acclaimed Nantucket & NYC restaurants

224 pages of tender and tasty pasta PASTA sfoglia

Ron Suhanosky, Colleen Marnell-Suhanosky

with Susan Simon

Wiley, Hardcover

224 pages

September 2009


Sfoglia, Italian for an uncut sheet of pasta, is an apt name for the Nantucket and New York City restaurants of chefs Ron and Collen Suhanosky.

With their Renaissance-inspired menus featuring sweet and savory flavored sauces enrobing egg-rich pastas, the acclaimed restaurants have earned their place in the hearts and stomachs of their clientele.

Even former NY Times food critic, Frank Bruni, whose reviews were renowned for their pungency, was mellowed by a meal at Sfoglia NYC. 

Bruni wrote:

A dish of pasta this fantastic, its sauce of cream and vin santo applied with restraint and leavened cunningly by shredded carrot, convinces a person that whatever path led him to it should be embraced more often. In this case the impulse to enjoy an unhurried midday meal had taken me there. That, and the very lucky decision to enjoy that meal at Sfoglia.

Now after a decade and more of mastering their craft, the Suhanoskys have developed a cookbook. With 111 recipes - including the Fusilli, Guanciale, Carrots, Vin Santo and Cream that Bruni admired in his 2007 review - PASTA sfoglia gives guidance to the home cook.  

Master recipes for fresh egg pasta, gnocchi, crespelle (thin Italian crepes), and brodo (a hybrid cross between stock and broth) are the foundation of this beautifully staged cookbook. Included also are recipes for ingredients Sfoglia pasta dishes rely upon: Limoncello, a lemon infused liqueur made in nearly every seaside Italy village, preserved lemons, and goat's milk cheese.

The two-page section detailing how to roll and cut pasta for various shapes is as precise as can be, but suffers from a lack of illustration.  I would have liked to see the process through the lens of food photographer Ben Fink, whose gorgeously styled photographs tell the unwritten story throughout this cookbook.

A shared passion for the Italian cooking of their youths is evident in PASTA sfoglia.  One of the sublime pleasures of this cookbook is reading the personal notes, the intimate experiences, of the couple's food journey.  The reader gets a glimpse of big family dinners and working stages in Italian kitchens as well as insights about a centuries old cuisine and way of eating that is as much an art as it is a lifestyle. 

Each recipe is prefaced by a short passage, which is one part inspiration and technique, one part memoir, that provides readers with the hidden nature of how the recipe evolved.  In the recipe, Ricotta, Prunes, Walnuts, Fazzoletti, and Valpolicella Sauce, the couple tells us the filling for these plump fazzoletti - literally handkerchiefs - were the Valpolicella wine-soaked prunes dipped in chocolate they ate while traveling in Verona.

Organized in six sections - master recipes, fresh pasta, dry pasta, filled pasta, gnocchi and grains, which the Suhanoskys consider as "cousins of the more traditional pastas" - the cookbook builds on the basics. Ron Suhanosky, who says he dreams about pasta, simplifies the process of making fresh pasta by using a food processor to blend the dough and an electric pasta maker to roll out the sheets of dough.  "Fresh pasta is something special, but something not just for special occasions'," he writes in urging home cooks Niente paura or Have no fear.

The authors provide an extensive and detailed list of resources for necessary specialty products as well.

What makes this cookbook indispensable is its wide range of pastas and sauces as well as its insider tips for creating memorable meals. The book takes the terror out of making fresh pasta and details inventive ways of using ingredients in sauces, which for the time-pressed may be combined with either store-bought fresh or dry pastas.

Condensed from PASTA sfoglia

Serves 4 – 6


My original idea was to make a carrot salad with guanciale. Then I thought about pasta – just because pasta is always the first thing I want to eat. This recipe is kind of a spin off of carbonara because of the crispy guanciale and creamy sauce.

1 tablespoon grape seed oil
1/2 pound diced guanciale (see resources)
3 medium-large carrots, peeled and finely shredded, yield approximately 2 cups
1/2 cup vin santo or Malvasia
1 pound good quality fusilli
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the grape seed oil and guanciale to a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until the guanciale has rendered it fat,is deep gold and crispy, 6 – 8 minutes. Remove from the heat. Pour off all but 1/4 cup of the fat.

Return the skillet to medium-high heat. Add the carrots and cook until they have wilted, 2 – 3 minutes. Add the vin santo and reduce to 1/4 cup.

Add the fusilli to the boiling water and cook according to the package directions.

Add the heavy cream to the skillet and reduce by half, about 10-12 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup pasta water to the sauce. Use a wire mesh skimmer to remove the pasta 2 minutes before cooking is complete and place it directly into the skillet. Toss to thoroughly coat the pasta and cook for the remaining 2 minutes.

Serve immediately with grated Parmesan cheese.

It's time for the great pumpkin - pie, that is!

Tired of the same old, same old pumpkins pie? Me, too!

That's why I love this great recipe from Zabar's - Pumpkin Mousse Cheesecake. The gingersnap crust is a deliciously different touch. You can use canned pumpkin or puree your own.

If you want to make your own pumpkin pie filling, has tips for picking, baking or boiling fresh pumpkin for your harvest baking.

It's easy as pie!

Saturday night eat-in: Spinach Mushroom Risotto

Spinach Mushroom Risotto
Risotto is easy and classic with limitless possibilities.  The Italian rice - Arborio, Vialone Nano and Carnaroli needed to prepare this dish is readily available almost everywhere. 

For years I was intimidated by this wonderful Italian specialty.  But once I began experimenting with risotti, I discovered it was as simple as good timing and a strong stirring arm.

Risotto is a great dish for sneaking vegetables into unsuspecting kids - diced spinach, pureed winter squash, even mushrooms.   The kids gobble up the Parmesan cheese laden rice with its hidden nutrients and are none the wiser that they've eaten something healthy. 

Rachel Ray takes risotto one step further with a Risotto and Mini Meatball dish that is a bit too cute for my taste, but is sure to make the kids ask for seconds.

A basic risotto recipe can be altered simply by changing the intingolo, the sauce or cooked ingredients added to the risotto.  Risotti are prepared following the same basic procedure, with variations according to the intingoli.

For this recipe, you'll require two pans - one for the intingolo and the other for the basic risotto.

Basic Risotto Recipe

Serves 6 to 8

  • 1½ cups Arborio rice
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 medium shallot or ½ small onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped
  • Kosher salt, to taste


Heat the stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan, then lower the heat so that the stock just stays hot. Note: Liquids added to the risotto should be warm rather than cold.

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the chopped shallot or onion. Sauté for 2-3 minutes or until slightly translucent.

Add the rice to the pot, stirring briskly with a wooden spoon until the grains are coated. Don't let the rice turn brown.

Add the wine, stirring until the liquid is fully absorbed.

Then add a ladle of warm chicken stock to the rice, stirring until the liquid is fully absorbed.Continue adding ladles of stock and stirring the rice while the liquid is absorbed. As it cooks, the rice will take on a creamy consistency as it begins to release its natural starches.

Continue adding stock, a ladle at a time, for 20-30 minutes or until the grains are tender but still firm to the bite, without being crunchy.

If you run out of stock and the risotto still isn't done, you can finish the cooking using hot water. Just add the water as you did with the stock, a ladle at a time, stirring while it's absorbed.

As the last stock is being absorbed, stir in the desired intingolo.

Finally, stir in the remaining butter, the Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese and the parsley.  Correct to taste with Kosher salt.

Serve immediately since risotto turns glutinous if held for too long.  Properly cooked, the risotto should be soft and creamy.

Spinach Mushroom Intingolo


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup Cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup, red pepper, diced
  • 4 cups spinach, washed & coarsely torn

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the Cremini mushrooms, red pepper and garlic.  Saute until tender. Then add the spinach and continue cooking until the spinach has wilted, about 3-4 minutes.

Chicken Marabella: a Silver Palate classic

Find Chicken Marbella and more recipes at   Recently we ate Chicken Marbella at a friend's party and were reminded how fabulous a classic dish can be.  Not only is this chicken classic beautiful to look at, it tastes simply wonderful with its blend of sweet and savory flavors.

One bite and it's easy to see why it's been popular with home cooks for over 25 years.

This was the first main-course dish to be offered at The Silver Palate shop.  The distinctive colors and flavors of the prunes, olives and capers have kept it a favorite for years.

It's good hot or at room temperature. When prepared with small drumsticks and wings, it makes a delicious hors d'oeuvre.

The overnight marinating is essential to the moistness of the finished product: the chicken keeps and even improves over several days of refrigeration; it travels well and makes excellent picnic fare.

The recipe may be doubled for entertaining.

Editor's Note: Sheila Lukin, 66, who co-authored The Silver Palate Cookbook with Julee Rosso, her business partner, died of brain cancer Sunday, August 30, 2009. Lukins and Rosso were pioneers in the  New American food movement of the 1980s.

Chicken Marbella

serves 6


2 chickens, 2 1/2 pounds each, quartered
1/2 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed
2 tablespoons dried oregano
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pitted prunes
1/4 cup pitted Spanish green olives
1/4cup capers with a bit of juice
3 bay leaves
1/2cup brown sugar
1/2cup white wine
2 tablespoons Italian parsley or fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped


In a large bowl combine chicken quarters, garlic, oregano, pepper and coarse salt to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight.

Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.

In an oven preheated to 350 degrees, bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with pan juices. Chicken is done when thigh pieces, pricked with a fork at their thickest, yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice.

With a slotted spoon transfer chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro. Pass remaining pan juices in a sauceboat.

To serve Chicken Marbella cold, cool to room temperature in cooking juices before transferring to a serving platter. If chicken has been covered and refrigerated, allow it to return to room temperature before serving. Spoon some of the reserved juices over chicken.

Soup's on: what to do with the leftover roast

Bean soup for a chilly day

Recently we had a delicious and meaty pork roast for dinner, but with lots of pork left I needed to find a fresh way to serve up leftovers. Pulled pork sandwiches are terrific, but so is a hearty soup.

With the weather turning cooler, a perfect solution for meat leftovers is a stockpot full of comforting and healthy soup. This Two Bean Soup is nutritious and easy to make, has a little kick to it, and takes care of those leftovers.

I keep beans - dried and canned -as well as chicken stock as a pantry staple, so there is no extra shopping to be done.  I used leftover pork as a base for my soup, but you could easily substitute leftover chicken or roast beef. 

If all the ingredients aren't on hand, substitutions are fine. 

No beans? Use a combination of vegetables - carrots, peas, corn, diced potatoes, coarsely chopped tomatoes, celery, string beans, etc.  All of these ingredients can be bought fresh in the farmers market and frozen or canned for later use also.

No herbs of Provence? Substitute cilantro or basil. You can grow these herbs all year around in a sunny kitchen window garden too. A splash of Tabasco or a pinch of cayenne pepper can add a bit of heat in the absence of fresh Poblano chiles.


Two Bean Soup

Serves 6


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 Poblano chile, cored and diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 onion, diced

1 teaspoon herbs of Provence

1 cup of  pork, cubed

6 cups chicken stock

1 16-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 16-ounce can Canellini beans, rinsed and drained


In a stockpot, saute chile, garlic, and onion until soft. Add herbs, pork, chicken stock and kidney beans. Simmer for at least two hours to marry the flavors. 

Serve with French bread croutons.

Flop Cake: testing an adapted recipe

It's not pretty, but it tastes good

Someone gave me some pears from their overburdened fruit trees and I decided to try out a skillet cake similar to an Old-Fashioned Pineapple Upside Down Cake. 

I love the richness of the fruit caramelized with brown sugar and butter and the moist texture of the yellow cake, but I often want fruit other than pineapple. I used my pears and added some sweet dried plums (prunes, yes)

I decided to take a short cut and use a packaged cake mix (which I rarely do) since I was in a bit of a hurry since I was making some homemade soup at the same time.  I added ricotta cheese to the box mix to enrich the flavor and texture - a good move - but didn't adjust for baking time - a big mistake. I also added a little lemon extract to brighten the flavor.

The cake came out underdone, but undaunted I managed to get it back in the skillet and into the oven without too much of a disaster.  The cake, as you can see, is not going to win any prizes for looks, but it tastes pretty fantastic. 

That means I'm going to have to bake it again because this cake will be a keeper once the recipe is perfected. The reasons I like the idea of this cake is its ease of preparation as well as its rustic simplicity. Plus, you could glam it up a bit with garnishes of a raspberry coulis or creme anglaise.