Nov 24

An after dinner drink which is made from distilling the leftover skin and seeds from pressed grapes that were grown in Italy and used for Italian wines, grappa generally has little or no color and a strong, fiery flavor. It was originally known as the poor man’s brandy since it was inexpensive to make, however today it is known more for its refined, but acquired taste. Grappa is not only excellent as an after dinner drink, but it is also great as a cooking ingredient, like in the recipe below.

Grape and Grappa Risotto

Grape and Grappa Risotto

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
1⁄2 cup grappa
6 cups chicken stock, heated
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 cup green seedless grapes, halved
2 tablespoons butter
1⁄2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
salt and freshly ground pepper

In a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent. Add the rice and toast for 3 minutes. Deglaze the pot with the grappa and cook until the grappa evaporates. Add the stock in 1⁄2-cup increments, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding more. Continue to cook, stirring, until the rice is tender and creamy, about 20 minutes. Stir in the parsley and grapes and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the butter and Parmigiano, and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately. Serves 4

  • This recipe was featured in the November 2010 issue of our e-magazine Cibo. To subscribe, please click here.
Nov 19

For a refreshing, healthy salad, all you need is a homemade basic vinaigrette and some greens. It’s also a great way to save money on those pricey supermarket dressings!

Step 1. Combine minced shallots or garlic with some Dijon mustard in a bowl. Alternatively, shake the ingredients in a small jar (a great way to use the last bit of mustard). Season with salt and pepper.

Step 2. Add an acidic ingredient, such as citrus juice or vinegar. Try bolder acids, such as sherry vinegar with frisée, radicchio or other bitter greens, and use milder vinegars to dress more buttery greens.

Step 3.  Whisk in some extra-virgin olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Continue whisking until the dressing begins to thicken and the mixture emulsifies. (A good ratio to follow is three parts oil to one part acid.)

Step 4. Season with freshly chopped herbs, such as parsley, basil, oregano or chives, and whisk again. If salad is not on the menu, store in a jar and refrigerate for future dressings, sauces and marinades.

Step 5. Toss mixed salad greens with the prepared vinaigrette and serve immediately (acid will quickly wilt the greens). Always dry greens well first so that the vinaigrette sticks to the leaves.

Nov 12

Whether you want a simple cranberry sauce that can be made in a hurry or a different twist on the traditional Thanksgiving dish, here are two recipes that will surprise and delight the taste buds of your guests this year.

Quick Cranberry Sauce

Quick Cranberry Sauce

2 16-ounce cans whole cranberry sauce
2 medium apples, cubed
1⁄2 cup currants
zest of 2 lemons, grated
2 tablespoons sugar (optional)

In a saucepan over high heat, combine the cranberry sauce, apples, currants and lemon zest. Stir well to combine and to break down the canned sauce. Add some water, a little at a time, until a sauce-like consistency is reached. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, if desired.  Makes about 4 cups

Amaretto-Cranberry Sauce

1⁄4 cup butter
12 ounces fresh cranberries
2 cups sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1⁄2 cup amaretto
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
2 teaspoons lemon zest, grated

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the cranberries, sugar and lemon juice and mix well to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cranberries begin to pop. Remove from the heat. Add the amaretto, marmalade and lemon zest. Mix well to combine.  Makes about 3 to 4 cups

Nov 4


Although making a pot of pasta is a basic cooking skill that most of us know how to do, many people boil the right amount of water or add the correct amount of salt. So what is the correct ratio? The answer is: 6 quarts of water per 1 pound of pasta plus 2 tablespoons of salt is the perfect amount. Now that you know how much water and salt to use, here’s a new pasta recipe to try.

Spaghetti alla puttanesca

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

 2 2-ounce tins anchovies
2 ounces capers packed in salt, drained
1 cup black olives
1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
2 tsp. tomato paste
1 pound spaghetti
freshly ground pepper

Rinse the anchovies and roughly chop them. Rinse the capers well and set aside. Remove the pits from the olives by making a cut around the circumference with a sharp knife and twisting both halves apart. In a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and hot red pepper flakes and cook until golden. Add the anchovies and stir until they disintegrate. Add the tomatoes, olives, capers, and tomato paste and mix well. When the mixture starts to boil, turn the heat down to low. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until it thickens, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta, then transfer it to a bowl, add the sauce, season with freshly ground pepper, and toss to coat. Serve immediately. Serves 4