March 2009

Fresh Semolina Egg Pasta (Recipe)

Fresh cut pasta


When I first attempted making Fresh Pasta I wasn't sure if I could do it?

  After all its Fresh Egg Pasta, and it is made with Semolina, not the stuff from the box that folks reach up and buy, boil and toss with jar sauce and eat.


The majority of people, because of their busy lives, depend on the convenience of ready to cook or heat and serve foods. In the 80's fresh pasta was emerging as the hottest thing in the country.

  To be able to say that the Pasta in your restaurant was made in house was a draw for those who either haven't experienced it or know what it's like to experience this simple but delicious food.

It took me some time and practice and eventually I could crank out a small batch in no time!

Please do not be discouraged If you don't nail this recipe and technique at first. It's worth the time and effort!

I will cover flavored Pasta in future posts.

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Basil and Oregano Pesto with Walnuts Recipe


  Basil pesto

image courtesy of

This recipe originated when I was Chef at Steven Restaurant in Scottsdale Arizona.

We used this to toss with pasta, marinate chicken breasts, mix in meatballs, add to sauces, create herb marinades and compound butters.

It is easy to see how by changing some herbs you can create a whole new taste.  Try substituting rosemary instead of oregano and add some fresh thyme!

Don't like the nuts, simply leave them out and add more cheese.  Why not create a Greek version with Feta and Olives!  I better stop!  If you want these versions I would be happy to add them to the posts!  Just let me know!

Basil and Oregano Pesto with Walnuts  print version

2 bunch fresh Basil picked
1 bunch fresh Oregano picked
1 oz peeled fresh Garlic
2 oz grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1 oz of Walnuts or Pine Nuts
Juice of 1 lemon
4 oz good quality Olive Oil

In a food processor or blender place the Basil, Oregano, Garlic and Olive Oil.

Blend until chopped fine, if you like a smoother Pesto let it blend or process longer.

Proceed by adding the cheese and then the Walnuts, this will thicken up the mixture.

If you want a looser Pesto add more oil slowly.  If you don't care for Oregano substitute 1/2 flat Italian parsley.

The classic method using a Mortaio and Pestello

Below is a video which shows you the classic way of making Pesto with a Mortaio and Pestello! This creates a texture which is by far superior than blending or processing.  Sure its more work but it is a labor of love and may be done as a demonstration before your guests while they enjoy a glass of wine and wait in anticipation for you to create fresh cooked pasta tossed with this wonderful classic sauce.

In order to allow the full release of its aromatic leaves the basil should be crushed by hand in the Mortaio by means of a wooden stick called "Pestello". The movement of the wrist is very important. It should be a round movement, allowing you squeeze the leaves while crushing them. You gradually pour some Extra Virgin Olive Oil, then put some sea salt and again continue with the milling, finally pour in the Parmesan cheese along with the Pine Nuts and some more Olive Oil. The result should be a creamy Pesto, thick but not hard solid.

Pasqua Rustica - Easter Pizza (Recipe)

Easter Pizza

Photo is from stickygooeychef


My Cousin Denise wrote:


Here are two more of our favorite traditional Easter dishes.  Your web site has definitely brought us down memory lane.  Mom & I spend a lot of time talking about all these traditional dishes and when grandma / grandpa would make them.

Thanks for keeping the tradition alive.


This is what! is all about!

Pasqua Rustica - Easter Pizza (Recipe) print version



2 lb ricotta (I prefer whole milk )
1 doz. Large eggs
½  lb Tuma cheese (or sharp Swiss)
½   lb prosciutto (Don't use the expensive one for this)
½   lb Salami

1c raisins (golden)
½  cup grated cheese (Pecorino Romano)


3 cups flour
4 to 5 eggs (enough to make workable dough)
Cheese, pepper and salt to taste


Cut this recipe in half to make smaller amount.

Cut cheese prosciutto, salami in small pieces, set aside. Beat eggs till foamy.

Blend ricotta into eggs and add cheese, prosciutto, salami, raisin and grated cheese.

Make crust. Roll half to fit bottom of a Pyrex Pan.

Fill bottom, cut top crust in strip & cover filling.

Brush crust with eggs. Bake 350% for 1 hr. (45 min to 1 hr. watch not to burn)

Easter Lamb Cake (Recipe)

Easter Lamb Cake

My Cousin Denise reminded me of the most important Italian Easter traditions which is the baking and decorating of the Lamb Cakes!


My Grandfather and my Father, Jim both created these and sold them in their bakery in Chicago, Sarnos Pastry Shop.  The image is from a bakery in St. Louis, which is the closest detail what our family created!

  Here the Easter Lamb Cake is simply frosted with a star tube.  What I enjoy most are the ones that are covered in fluffy coconut!

You may also color the coconut as well or toast it if you like.  Many people don't take the time to dip the head in fondant then finish with a buttercrean then paint the features, you have to do this or your Lamb Cake will look like a Bichon Frise! don't forget the bows! 

Serving your creation: Everyone starts from the rear and slices toward the head unless some kid (I'm not saying who) snaps off the ear or even worse cuts from the head! Bless me father for I have sinned, I ate the lamb cake head!

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