Friday, March 29, 2013

Risotto alla Zucca - Pumpkin Risotto

Ingredients (6 people)

1 Lbs Pumpkin Pulp
1 Lbs Rice
8 Cups Vegetable Broth
3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
6 Tbsp Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Medium Branch Fresh Rosemary
1/4 Cup Butter
Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg Powder

Brown the garlic in the butter, add the pumpkin (if you use fresh pumkin, make sure to cut the pupl in small pieces), cook for five minutes.
Add rice, stir it for one minutet. Pour in the hot vegetable broth and cook for 15 minutes (or until broth is, absorbed by the rice) stirring occasionally. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
When rice is ready, remove from stove and mix in the parmesan cheese. Serve.

Italian Cooking - Using the Right Rice

Risotto lovers know that northern Italians make some of the best of it, largely due to the variety of specialty grains grown and harvested there. More than 20 varieties of white rice are grown in Italy, with a large majority flourishing in Veneto, Piedmont and the fertile Po Valley.
 Arborio Rice

The rice varieties listed below may all look the same, but they command distinctly different uses since they possess varied flavors and textures. Some are ideal for producing toothsome, creamy risottos, while others are delicate enough to work deftly into desserts. Here are some of our most readily available styles and some brands to look for:

Originario: Marked by its small, pearl-like appearance, this was the go-to for risotto until Carnaroli was created in 1945 and took its place. Though still a fine risotto rice, its softer texture also works for soups and desserts; great also for asian food as sushi and stir fry. This variety comes from the Novara province of Piedmont.

 Pumpkin Risotto (Originario Rice)

Carnaroli With large oval grains that have especially high starch, it makes a velvety risotto with strong texture. For this reason, it¹s the most popular risotto rice. This lauded producer has been in Piedmont's Vercelli province since 1935.

 Risotto alla Milanese (Carnaroli Rice)

Arborio One of the most well-known Italian rices, its burnished kernels and high starch content create a creamy coating when cooked. Ideal for risotto, soups and pilaf, this brand comes from the Po Valley.

Risotto With Creamy Salmon (Arborio Rice)

Vialone Nano: Common in the Veneto region, Vialone Nano is shorter and rounder than other varietals, and also absorbs more liquid, which gives it a creamier base in cooking. Delicate and moist, it¹s a no-brainer for matching with seafood and vegetables.

 Asparagus Risotto (Vialone Rice)

Risotto agli Asparagi - Asparagus Risotto


for 4 people
400 grams (approx. 2 cups) rice, preferably arborio
1 lb. (450 g) asparagus
1/2 of a medium onion, minced
1 qt (approx. 1 liter) vegetable broth
2 cups (250 ml) water
2 Tbsp. butter (approx. 30 g)
2 Tbsp. olive oil (approx. 30 ml)
1 cup (approx. 100 g) grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Salt and ground black pepper to taste


Cut the bottom 1/3 off of the asparagus spears and cook them in salted boiling water for 10-12 minutes, until tender. Drain and set aside.
Melt the butter in a wide saucepan over low heat. Add the olive oil and the minced onions and sauté for 5 minutes, paying attention that they don’t brown. Add the rice to the onions, and stir until all grains are coated in the oil and butter. Let the rice toast in the sauté for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cut the tips off of the cooked asparagus, and chop the spears into 1/4 inch (just over .5 cm) pieces. Discard any tough parts of the spear, and add the tips and chopped asparagus to the rice and onion mixture. Stir together.
In a separate saucepan, bring the vegetable broth and water to a boil. Adjust the heat of the rice mixture to medium-low, and add the broth to the rice one ladle at a time, stirring well in between until the rice absorbs the liquid and the risotto assumes a creamy consistency. Be patient; this process will take 30-40 minutes. When the last of the liquid is absorbed, stir in the grated Parmigiano. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and serve immediately with a dusting of Parmigiano on top.

Risotto alla Milanese


7 cups chicken broth (homemade stock or low-sodium store-bought)
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp saffron threads
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup finely minced onion
2 cups carnaroli or arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese, grated
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste


Bring broth to a boil in a large pot and set aside at a simmer on the stove. Boil 1/2 cup water and pour into a glass measuring cup; add saffron threads and set aside. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet. Add onion, and sauté until soft but not brown, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the rice, making sure to coat each grain, and let toast for just a minute. Remove pan from heat, and stir in the wine. It will bubble up, so keep your distance! Return the pan to the heat. When the liquid is absorbed, begin adding broth, 1 ladleful at a time, letting each bit of liquid be absorbed. After 2 cups are added, stir the saffron water into the rice. Continue adding broth, reserving 1/4 cup at the end. Remove from heat. Add butter and cheese, and stir vigorously for 2 minutes. Add in reserved 1/4 cup broth and stir to desired creaminess. Season to taste with black pepper, and serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Gourmet Burgers

Burgers with a sweet or a zesty twist. I made these few days ago and I received thumbs up from my family. I used sliced bread because my family like the toasted bread, but you can use regular hamburger buns.


For the Burgers:

2 LBS Ground Beef (the leanest the better)
3 Garlic Cloves Minced
1 Cup Breadcrumbs
2 Eggs
1 Cup Flour
1 Tsp McCormick Hamburger Spices
1 TSP Allspice
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive Oil to cook (if you cook them in a skillet)
Cheese Slices

For the Sweet Taste:

1 Large Red Apple
1 Large Navel Orange
Cramberry Sauce
Cinnamon to taste

For the Zesty Taste:

1 Large Onion
1 Tsp Dijon Mustard
1/4 Cup fresh Rosemary Leaves
Mac and Cheese (optional)

In a large bowl mix the ground beef, garlic, eggs, breadcrumbs, spices, salt and pepper. Pour flour on the meat and incorporate. Form 8 1/4 pounders burgers.
Grill  the burgers(or cook them in a skillet with olive oil).

While cooking the burgers prep the sauces. Blend the apple and the orange with a pinch of cinnamon,
pour in a small bowl.
Blend the onion, rosemary, dijon mustard adding a very small amount of water, pour in a small bowl.

For the sweet taste, spread the sweet composte on two tosted bread slices (or hamburger bun), add burger, cheese slice, cramberry sauce. Ready to serve.

For the Zesty taste, spread zesty composte on two tosted bread slices (or hamburger bun), add burger, cheese slice. Add some mac and cheese (kids will love this add on) and serve.

Penne Rigate al Provolone dolce - Penne Rigate with Sweet Provolone

Ingredients for 4 people
1 Pack of Penne Pasta
1 Cup Butter
1 Cup Sweet Provolone, Grated
1/4 Cup Tomato Sauce
3 Tbsp Chopped Parsley
Black Pepper
Cook the pasta. In a saucepan melt the butter, add the tomato sauce, the provolone and a pinch of black pepper. Mix well until the provolone is completely melted. Add to cooked pasta immediately. Sprinkle with parsley.

Farfalle alla Ricotta - Butterfly Pasta with Ricotta Sauce

Ingredients for 4 people
1 Pack Farfalle Pasta (I use Barilla, Buitoni or De Cecco, these are real Italian brands)
1 Chopped Small Onion
1 Fresh Parsley Bunch, Chopped
5 1/2 oz Ricotta
1 Lbs Peeled and Chopped Roma Tomatoes (you can use the can whole tomatoes for a quicker version)
3 Tbsp Extra vergin Olive Oil
Salt for the pasta's water
Black Pepper

Cook the farfalle following the box instructions, do not overcook, pasta is always better "al dente".

While the pasta is cooking, brown the onion in the olive oil, add the parsley and stir for a minute. Add tomatoes and cook on medium- high for 10 minutes, stirring the sauce very often. Add the ricotta cheese, stir well until it looks creamy.
Add to pasta, mix sauce and farfalle adding a pinch of black pepper.

Quick Marinara Sauce

2 Cup Tomato Sauce
4 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon Oregano
1 Teaspoon Chopped Basil
1/2 Teaspoon Minced Garlic (or Garlic Powder)

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, mixin well. Simmer mixture for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve. Perfect as dipping sauce, or for a fast spaghetti dinner Leftover sauce can be refrigerated in air thight container up to 1 week. You can also make batches of sauce and freeze them for 3 months.

Filet Mignon in Brandy Sauce


1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
2 Tablespoons Brandy
4 Filet Mignons (trimmed), 6 ounces each
3/4 Teaspoon salt
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Tablespoon Butter
2 Tablespoons Pecan Oil (if you cannot find it use olice oil)
1/2 Chopped Rosemary Leaves

Combine the Worcestershire, mustard and brandy in a small bowl and wisk to blend. Set aside.
season the filets with salt and cayenne pepper. Combine the butter and the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the filets and cook for about  minutes on each side for medium-rare. Brush the sauce over the filets and cook for a minute longer. transfer the filets to a platter and pour the pan juice over then to serve. Sprinkle the rosemary over the filets and serve.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Gnocchi di Patate al Burro e Salvia - Potatoes Dumplings (from scratch) with Butter and Sage

Small dumplings (Gnocchi) are one of the oldest preparations in the history of food, recorded as far back as cookbooks of the thirteenth century. In a fragment of a book of the 1300s there is a recipe for gnocchi written in the Tuscan dialectal language .
In spite of the long description, gnocchi are very easy to prepare. Gnocchi can be dressed with many sauces, but are especially good with pesto, Amatriciana sauce, Ragu', four cheeses, butter and fresh tomato sauce, or very simply butter and sage as in this presentation. The taste of the butter - sage dressing is very delicate and will enhance the taste of the gnocchi. Gnocchi are also one very refined dishes, worthy of the most sophisticated menus.
for the gnocchi2 lb (approximately 1 kg) whole old russet potatoes, unpeeled2 cups (approximately 300 gr) flour1 egg (optional)1 tablespoon salt

for the dressing
2 oz (60 gr) butter4 - 5 fresh sage leaves3 oz (90 gr) freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

Wash the potatoes, place them in a large stock pot filled with water, and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are soft without overcooking to prevent them from breaking. Cooking time may vary depending on the size of the potatoes. Peel immediately while potatoes are still hot and mash them on a work surface using a potato masher or a food mill.

When the potatoes are still warm but cool enough to be handled, shape them in a mound with a well in the center.


Add 1 cup (150 gr) of the flour, the egg, and salt. Draw the ingredients together and mix to form a dough.

At this point the dough will be sticky on your hands. Sprinkle a little of the remaining flour on the dough and work the dough with your hands until the potato dough incorporates the flour.
Continue adding flour a little at a time and kneading the dough, until the potato dough is no longer too sticky. The dough must be soft and fluffy: avoid incorporating too much flour.
Cut the dough into four pieces. Sprinkle the work surface with a little flour, and place the first piece on it.

Roll the dough into one or two long sticks approximately 3/4 inch (2 cm) in diameter. 
Then cut the sticks into pieces 3/4 inch (2 cm) long.

Roll the pieces in your hands to give them a rounded oval shape.

Roll the pieces along the prongs of a common fork using one finger, in a way that the side of the piece running along the fork will be ruffled and the side you are pressing with your finger will be a little concave.

Fill a stockpot three quarters full with water, bring to a boil, and add salt. When the water is at a fast boil, drop the gnocchi in a few at a time to avoid damaging them. The gnocchi will fall to the bottom of the pot.

In a skillet large enough to contain the gnocchi, place the butter and sage leave. Turn heat to medium to melt the butter.

After about 1 – 2 minutes the gnocchi will come up to the surface, and this will be the sign that they are cooked. Don't drain gnocchi in a colander as you would do with pasta. Gnocchi are very soft and may be damaged. Instead remove them as soon as they float to the surface, with the help of a large slotted spoon or strainer, draining thoroughly.

Transfer the gnocchi to the skillet and sauté briefly, stirring gently with a large spoon, until the gnocchi are fully covered by the butter.

Transfer to a serving dish, top with the grated parmigiano cheese. Serve hot at once.


Italian Easter Bread

1 Pkg Yeast
1/4 Cup Warm Water
1/2 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Sugar
6 Egg Yolks
1/2 Tsp Salt
3/4 Cup Warm Milk
1 Tsp Lemon Zest, Grated
2 Tsp Vanilla
4 1/4 Cup Flour
1 Tsp Melted Butter
1 Egg White, Scrambled
6 Colored Eggs (Raw)
Sprinkle yeast in warm water to dissolve. Cream butter and beat in sugar, egg yolks and salt. Then stir in warm milk, lemon zest, vanilla and yeast mixture. Add 2 cups of the flour and beat for 5 minutes. Gradually beat in remaining flour, then place dough on floured board and knead.
Place dough in greased bowl and top with a little melted butter. Let rise 1 1/2 to 2 hours, then knead again.
Cut dough into 6 pieces and roll each piece into a rope. Form 3 ropes into a braid (you will get two loaves). Nestle colored raw eggs throughout each braid. Brush top of loaves with egg whites. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers

20-24 large jalapeno peppers (as large as possible)

16 oz (453.59 g) cream cheese room temp. (2 packages Philadelphia works best)

4 large garlic cloves minced

1/4 cup (59.1 ml) finely chopped sun-dried tomato

2 tablespoons (29.58 ml) finely chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 teaspoon (2.46 ml) coarse sea salt (to taste)

1 pound (453.59 g) thin bacon slices

toothpick, soaked for about 15 minutes in water


  1. Mix cream cheese, garlic, sundried tomatoes, cilantro and salt until well blended. You can now set the mixture aside or even freeze for up to a couple of months in a freezer bag.
  2. You'll want to wear some kitchen gloves for this step! Slice the jalapeños lengthwise, being careful not to slice them in half. Then slice at the top along the width of the pepper just about a quarter inch below the base of the stem until you cut through the core, again being careful not to cut completely through the pepper (This step will probably take some practice). Now you need to decide whether you want to keep the seed webbing for those that like it really hot, or remove them for a lot less heat. I like to do about half and half so that you can please everyone. Anyway, if removing the seeds, gently remove the core using a paring knife by spreading the pepper carefully, you may need to shake some of the remaining seeds out.
  3. Separate the strips of bacon and cook in the microwave for about 5 minutes on high, just enough to give it a head start. Then pat dry with paper towels. Just to soak up some of the grease. Set it aside to cool.
  4. Fill either a pastry bag or just a freezer bag (cutting one corner out), and pipe some of the filling into each pepper until full but still able to almost close the pepper.
  5. Wrap each pepper with a strip of bacon then use two or three toothpicks to secure the pepper closed.
  6. Place the jalapeños on a medium heat grill and cook until the bacon is crisp. you'll need to turn frequently to heat them evenly. you may even want to use foil to prevent the mess. I find that by cooking the bacon a little first and not over filling that you'll get minimal mess however
  7. Let them sit for about 5 to 10 minutes and serve them up! Don't forget which ones have the seeds!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Stuffed Italian Bread

1 Italian loaf, about 12 inches long
1 stick butter, melted
1/8 cup olive oil
3 tsp minced onion
2-3 cloves garlic, grated
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp poppy seeds
3 tsp chopped parsley (add more if you wish)
12 oz grated cheese (use a mix of white cheddar and Monterrey jack.)(Or your choice)

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Mix the melted butter, olive oil, onion, garlic, Dijon mustard, poppy seeds and parsley in a bowl.

Cut the bread into cubes with X slices without cutting all the way through the bottom crust.

Pour the butter-onion garlic mixture carefully into those X cracks using a small spoon and over the top of the bread. Fill those delicious cracks with the grated cheese. (It seems like a lot of work and trouble but it's all worth it. Yes.)

Wrap the entire loaf with foil, sealing the sides properly and bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and unwrap. Bake for another 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and gooey.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Shrimps and Asparagus Risotto

(Serves 4)

5 tbs. butter
1 onion –diced
1 1/3 c risotto rice
1 glass dry white wine
2 qt. shrimp stock –hot
40 asparagus tips –steamed
8 oz. large shrimp –peeled and cleaned
¼ tsp. garlic powder
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

1) Heat up 3 tbsps. Of the butter in a large heavy bottom sauté pan. Add the leeks with a pinch of salt and sauté until they start to soften about 5 minutes. Add the rice and allow to toast for a few minutes until opaque then add the wine and simmer until absorbed almost completely.
2) Start adding the stock a ladle at the time, just enough to cover the rice. When almost all of it is absorbed add more stock and stir often. Once the rice is tender remove from flame and stir in 1 tbs. of the butter and adjust seasonings with the salt and pepper. Allow to rest.
3) Season the shrimp with the garlic powder and some salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan heat up 1 tbs. of the butter and sauté the shrimp until it turns pink and curls up and is no longer opaque.
4) Gently fold the cooked shrimp and asparagus into the risotto reserving a few pieces of each for garnish. Divide into 4 plates and serve warm.

Arancini di riso - Rice balls



3 cups leftover risotto*
1/4 pound fresh mozzarella, cubed
2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 egg, beaten
1 cup bread crumbs


*If leftover risotto is not on hand, add a generous amount of grated Parmigiano cheese and a small amount of tomato sauce to boiled, salted arborio rice.

Grab a handful of leftover risotto and shape it into a 2 1/2-inch diameter ball. Press a hole in the middle with your thumb and place a few cubes of mozzarella cheese inside. Reshape the rice ball, until the mozzarella is fully enclosed in the rice.

In a deep saucepan, heat the extra-virgin olive oil to 350 degrees F.

Roll each rice ball into the beaten egg, and then coat evenly with bread crumbs. Gently place the rice balls in the hot oil without overcrowding. Make sure the olive oil is hot before the rice balls are added; otherwise the rice balls will absorb the oil and become heavy. Fry the rice balls for a few minutes on each side, or until golden. Place the rice balls on the paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Transfer to a plate, and serve them hot or at room temperature.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Friday, March 15, 2013

Grissini - Bread Sticks


1 teaspoon active dry yeast (from a 1/4-ounce package)
1 1/2 cups warm water (105-115°F), divided
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 cups semolina flour
1 1/2 cups Italian "00" flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Equipment: a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment

Stir together yeast, 1/4 cup warm water, and sugar in bowl of mixer and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn't foam, start over with new yeast.)
Add semolina flour, "00" flour, and salt to yeast mixture along with oil and remaining 1 1/4 cups warm water and mix at low speed until a very soft dough forms. If necessary, mix in just enough "00" flour (up to 1/4 cup) to prevent dough from sticking to side of bowl. Increase speed to medium and beat, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes (dough will be soft). Scrape dough into center of bowl and dust with 2 tablespoons additional "00" flour. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350°F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Punch down dough and turn out onto a floured surface (do not knead), then cut dough in half. Keeping 1 half covered with plastic wrap, cut other half into 16 equal pieces and roll each into a 15- to 16-inch rope (1/8 to 1/4 inch thick), lightly dusting your hands if dough is sticky. Arrange ropes 1/2 inch apart on 1 baking sheet, then make more ropes with remaining dough and arrange on second baking sheet.
Bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until grissini are pale golden and crisp, 30 to 35 minutes total. Transfer to racks to cool.
Cooks' note:Grissini can be made 5 days ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Empanadas De Minilla de Atun - Tuna Minilla Empanadas or Tuna Turnovers

Since I came to El Paso Texas, my interest in the Mexican and the Tex-Mex cuisine began. I tried some experiment that came out ok, then I started googling chefs.. and there she was... Patricia Jinich. She is by far one of the best Mexican chefs and this is one of my favorite recipes.

Tuna Minilla Empanadas
finished empanadas de minilla de atúnInsanely practical, that’s what these empanadas are. Perfect to make ahead for gatherings, as you can eat them hot or not. And they are oh, so, comforting: think of a tuna casserole in the good old style, but revamped with great Mexican flair and then flipped and turned into individual size. They withstand hours of travel and will remain delicious until you are ready to take a bite.
floured countertop with rolling pin
Lessons learned:
1. Make a double batch.
2. If you don’t, refrain from telling your friends about the fabulous thing you prepared but couldn’t bring because you finished it before hopping in the car. They won’t like it.
A simple way to describe an empanada is a turnover-looking packet stuffed with one or another kind of filling. The story goes that they’ve existed since the Spanish Crusades as they were perfect travel food. It was the Spaniards who brought them to Mexico.
From the Spanish word “empanar,” which can translate as “the act of covering something with bread or bread dough,” aside from practical, they are also versatile. They can go from mini to giant, from savory to sweet, from a tasty appetizer or funky main meal to a sweet bite, depending on the fillings.
cutting rounds into puff pastry
I can think of three things that distinguish empanadas from quesadillas. First, quesadillas aren’t sweet. And, whereas quesadillas are made with flour or corn dough (or flour or corn tortillas) empanadas are made with flour dough. That doesn’t make empanada variations limited. Oh no. There are as many fillings and as many flour doughs as one can think of. One of the fluffiest ones are made with puff pastry, called hojaldre in Spanish.
Delightful, because as it bakes, the seemingly flat dough develops its multilayered structure: paper-thin layers of dough puff up with air, and delicious butter, in between them.
You can make your own puff pastry or simply buy it at the frozen section at the store. Just be sure to thaw before you roll out.
Then make rounds. You can make them as big or as little as you like. Here I am cutting 5” rounds. Brush with egg wash (just a beaten mix of egg and water) around the edges. Then add the filling.
brushing egg wash on outer edges of rounds cut from puff pastry
A second difference between empanadas and quesadillas is that it is pretty hard to find a quesadilla that is sweet, for a good reason. Whereas not only are there plenty of sweet empanadas but even when they are savory, they have a sweet element to them, like the Tuna Minilla that is going in here….
tuna empanada filling in pan
Minilla is a very popular way of cooking fresh fish and also canned tuna along the Mexican Pacific Coast, especially in Veracruz.
It is so tasty and its flavor shows the impact that kitchens in Veracruz received from it being a port of entry to the Spaniards. It has a base of cooked onion, garlic, plenty of tomatoes, pickled jalapenos, along with the capers, olives, raisins and herbs the Spaniards brought. Pretty much like the Fish a la Veracruzana style. The sauce gets cooked until moist and the flavors have been completely absorbed and combined.
You can eat Minilla as a main dish on top of rice. You can use it to make sandwiches or tortas and inside the Empanadas.
tuna empanada filling scooped into center of puff pastry
Then seal the empanadas by folding the circle over the filling. Then use a fork to not only decorate the edges but to seal them even better. In Mexico, many cooks know a fancy technique of decorating and sealing the edges of the empanadas so they look like encaje or embroidery.
sealing empanadas with a fork
The third thing that distinguishes empanadas from quesadillas, is that empanadas are mostly baked. Not fried or cooked over the stovetop on a comal or skillet.
Once in the oven, the puff pastry layers do what they must… puff and puff and puff, the top crisps, the middle gets moist, and the filling bonds with the packet.
finished empanadas de minilla de atún
Off you go!

Empanadas de Minilla de Atún
Makes about 16 empanadas
For the filling:
¼ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup chopped white onion
1 finely chopped garlic clove
1½ pounds chopped ripe tomatoes, or about 6 roma tomatoes
2 7oz cans tuna, drained and shredded
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste
1/4 cup roughly chopped raisins
1/4 cup roughly chopped manzanilla olives stuffed with pimientos
1/4 cup seeded and roughly chopped pickled jalapeño chiles, store bought or make your own, more to taste
1 tablespoon capers
3 tablespoons chopped Italian or flat-leaf parsley
To form the empanadas:
1 egg
2 tablespoons water
1 1.2 pound package frozen puff pastry, thawed, or homemade puff pastry
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Once hot, but not smoking, stir in the onion and cook until it is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, stir, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and cook, stirring often, until completely cooked, softened and mashed up and pasty looking, about 15 minutes.
Toss in the tuna and with a spatula or fork, mix it well with the tomato mix, making sure there are no big chunks. Add the bay leaves, sugar, oregano, thyme, salt and mix well. Add the raisins, olives, pickled jalapenos, capers, fresh parsley and mix well. Cover the skillet and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for about 10 minutes, the mixture should be very moist but not too watery. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Remove the bay leaves and set aside.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350. In a small mixing bowl beat the egg along with the water.
Gently flour your countertop and rolling pin and roll out one thawed sheet of pastry to about 1/8” thick. Cut out 5” to 6” rounds with a cookie cutter or anything that can act as a mold. With a pastry brush, brush the edges of the rounds with the egg wash. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of tuna in the center of each round, fold as a turnover or quesadilla to make a half moon, pushing the tuna inside of the empanada at the same time as you press the edges of the dough to seal it. Gently press the edge with the tip of a fork, this will act as decoration but also help seal the edges. Place the empanada on a lined baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the rounds and the second sheet of puff pastry. When all empanadas are formed, brush their tops with the remaining egg wash.
Place them in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until crisp, puffed up and golden brown.

Pasta alla capricciosella -



Serves 4-6 people
For 400g (14 oz.) spaghetti, bavette or linguini (or other long pasta of your choice)
  • 500g (1 lb) baby squid, cleaned and roughly chopped (see Notes)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
  • Olive oil
  • White wine
  • 200g (7 oz) cherry or grape tomatoes, split in half (see Notes)
  • 100g (3-1/2 oz) mushrooms, roughly sliced or chopped (see Notes)
  • 100g (3-1/2 oz) peas, frozen or fresh
  • A few sprigs of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper


In a sauté pan large enough to hold all the pasta, sauté the garlic cloves in abundant olive oil over moderate heat until they are just beginning to brown. Remove the garlic cloves and add the chopped calamari. Season with salt and pepper, stirring so that all the little pieces are nicely coated with the flavored oil. Turn the heat down to very low and cover the pan.
Let the squid braise until it is very tender, about 20-30 minutes for baby squid, 45-60 minutes for ‘regular’ squid. The squid will give off a fair amount of liquid to begin with, but as it cooks it may dry out, in which case add a few spoonfuls of water or wine from time to time to keep things moist. The squid itself should be much reduced in size and darken as its liquid cooks out; this is perfectly normal.
While the squid is cooking, start the pasta water going, then prep your veggies.
When the squid is done, uncover it, increase the heat to medium-high and add the white wine. Let the wine reduce, then add your veggies. Mix well to cover them completely with the sauce in the pan. Season well with salt and pepper as you stir.
Then, once again, reduce the heat and cover the pan. Let the veggies braise until the mushrooms are tender, about another 10 minutes or so. The tomatoes will soften and begin to ‘melt’ into the sauce, but not completely. A minute or two before the end, add half of the chopped parsley.
Just when you cover the pan again, salt the boiling water very well and add your pasta, making sure that . it should be done about the same time as your veggies. When it is done very al dente, add the pasta to sauce in the sauté pan. Lower the heat as low as it will go, and mix it all up so that the pasta is well coated with the sauce. If things are a bit dry or sticky, add some more pasta water to loosen things up. The pasta should not be at all watery but slight ‘slither’ around the pan easily.
Serve immediately in warmed pasta dishes. The best way to do this is to grab a good portion of pasta with some tongs (or a pasta fork) and swirl it into the dish. Then spoon out a nice portion of the sauce, with squid and veggies, too, on top of the pasta. If you like, sprinkle a bit of fresh parsley on top for garnish, perhaps with un filo d’olio—a drizzle of olive oil, no cheese.


I can find baby squid, pre-cleaned and frozen, in my local supermarket. It is a real god-send. Baby squid (or calamaretti) are much more tender then ‘regular’ squid and have a wonderfully sweet flavor. But if you can only find the larger kind, no worries, it will just need to cook longer to reach that point of perfect tenderness at which the squid becomes almost ‘creamy’. Most squid sold in the US these days comes pre-cleaned.
The recipe does not specify cherry tomatoes, and in summer you could use fresh tomatoes in season. But cherry tomatoes do a very nice job, adding a bit of color and tomato flavor without overwhelming the dish. If you want to add canned tomatoes, add fewer and let the veggies cook longer than indicated above, holding back the peas for the first 5 minutes or so, so they don’t overcook.
As for the mushroom, garden-variety cultivated supermarket mushrooms are fine—in fact, the recipe calls for them—but I like those packs of mixed mushrooms. I would not use expensive wild mushrooms for this dish, however—not worth the price in a simple dish like this, where their taste would, in any event, be playing second-fiddle to the squid.