I love making this! While it may seem a bit of an involved process, it really isn’t if you organize yourself well and have everything laid out. Simple enough for a weekday meal, yet elegant and simply delicious. Add some wild rice and seasonal vegetables and is a great dish for entertaining.

Saltimbocca Ingredient Lineup

Saltimbocca Ingredient Lineup

Ingredients – Serves 4
4 TB extra virgin olive oil
3 TB butter, divided
8 sage leaves
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 slices provolone cheese
8 slices prosciutto
salt and pepper
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock

Sauteeing - Prosciutto Already Browned

1. In a large skillet heat up the olive oil and “fry” the sage leaves, about 30 second per side.
2. Remove from the skillet and set on paper towels.
3. Cut each breast into two half pieces and flatten with a meat mallot.
4. Lay two sage leaves on top of each breast half. Top with cheese and then prosciutto. Secure the prosciutto to the chicken with toothpicks.
5. Season the flour with salt and pepper.
6. Turn the chicken onto the flour and coat both sides, make sure to shake excess flour. Put aside on a dry plate.
7. Return to the skillet to the heat and add a tablespoon of butter.
8. When the oil and butter mixture starts to bubble up, place the chicken on the pan, pancetta side down. Brown for three minutes on each side and remove from the pan.
9. Add remaning butter, wine and stock.
10. Return chicken to the pan and cook on medium heat for 15 more minutes, turning the chicken halfway through cooking.
11. Plate and top with the remaining pan juices.

Saltimbocca Success!

Saltimbocca Success!

This recipe has been “somewhat in development” for a while.  I have made gnocchi with mushrooms many times over, different varieties depending on the season, always finished with a garlic aioli and fresh parm.  I always thought I should make a winter version of it by adding a hearthy cream sauce.  Well, I was in Amsterdam last November and found just the right inspiration here. This velvetty cream sauce has just the right consistency and such delicate flavor. I set to replicate what I tasted at Pianeta Terra and can now share it with you. By the way, if you are ever in Amsterdam, you have got to try this place. Hands down, best Italian food I have had outside of Italy.

Gnocchi al Tartuffo

Gnocchi al Tartuffo

2 TB butter
1 cup chopped onions
2 cups chanterelle mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 pkg gnocchi, about 4 cups dry
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whole milk
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded parmessan cheese
2 TB truffle oil

1. In large skillet with tall sides melt butter and sautee onions till softened. Add mushrooms and continue to cook over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper.
2. In a medium stock pot bring water to boil, add salt and gnocchi.
3. Cook gnocchi till doness according to package, typically 4 minutes.
4. While gnocchi cooks, to the skillet add the heavy cream, milk and cheese. Season again with salt and pepper and bring to a slow simmer.
5. Remove the cooked gnocchi from the stock pot using a slotted spoon and put directly into the skillet with the creamy mushroom sauce.
6. Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken.
7. Drizzle with truffle oil and enjoy!

Chef’s Notes
– Chanterelle mushrooms are the best choice for this dish, but when not available, criminis work nicely.
– In the absence of truffle oil, you can always use high quality extra virgin olive oil.
– This is a great stand alone main dish, first course, or side dish to filet mignon or roasted lamb chops… I have tried them all!

Not sure if I am just noticing them, but it seems heirloom tomatoes hit the market stands later than usual this year.  I created this recipe last summer and was featured in my late summer menu.  After making it many times over for several clients and getting great reviews, I finally got around to making it for the family.

My favorite heirloom tomatoes come from my local farmer’s market. Laura (KG Acres) grows the best tomatoes in her farm in Lebanon. You can also find her at City Market, downtown Indy.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

This recipe is so simple, that I am just going to list the ingredients as I write the instructions on how to assemble.  Here it goes:

1. In a cookie sheet prepare a batch of prepared crescent roll dough.  Just don’t break it apart, bake as a flat sheet, according to the directions in the package.  Set aside to cool after baking.

2. In a bowl mix together an assortment of heirloom tomatoes (about 5), a few leaves of basil (finely chopped), salt, pepper and olive oil.  Set aside.

3. In a different bowl, mix together softened boursin cheese (or cream cheese) and pesto.

4. To assemble the tarts, simply spread the cool cream mixture over the crescent roll sheet and top with the tomatoes.

See! Easy, fast and a guaranteed hit with your guests!

Heirloom Tomato Tart

Heirloom Tomato Tart

Tasso ham, wild jumbo shrimp and leftover rotiserie chicken = Gumbo!





This may be one of my more time consuming recipes. Noticed that I said, time consuming, not difficult. To that end, when you take the time to make this, prepare two lasagnas. Enjoy one on the day you make it, and freeze the other one. They freeze beautifully and taste freshly made up to a month later.

Writing this up was also time consuming, but I took care of that for you!

The pieces of this puzzle are: no-boil lasagna noodles, bolognese sauce, ricotta mixture, spinach bechamel.

Ten Layer Lasagna

Ten Layer Lasagna

Ingredients – Bolognese Sauce
2 TB olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs lean ground sirloin
14 oz top quality canned crushed tomatoes, like San Marzano*
salt and pepper
2 TB tomato paste
3 TB chopped green olives
3 TB chopped roasted red peppers
2 TB capers, rinsed
2 teaspoons dried french thyme
6 fresh basil leaves, thorn by hand

1. To a saute pan add the olive oil and heat up. Add the onion and cook till translucent, about 3 – 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and the ground beef. Cook till the meat begins to brown.
2. Turn up the heat and add the remaining ingredients, except the thyme and basil, waiting 1 – 2 minutes before each addition.
3. Turn the heat down to medium and cook covered for 15 minutes. Add the thyme and basil, stir and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from the burner.

Ingredients – Spinach Bechamel
2 TB unsalted butter
2 TB all purpose flour
1 cup milk
6 oz Boursin cheese**
1 pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

1. In a heavy saucepan melt the butter. Add the flour and combine well. Cook for a couple of minutes.
2. To the flour mixture add the milk and continue to stir until the mixture starts to thicken. Add the boursin cheese and cook for 5 minutes until the cheese melts and is well incorporated.
3. Add the spinach and cook for another 5 minutes. Set aside.

Ingredients – Ricotta Mixture
2 cups part skim ricotta
1 cup grated parmessan
2 TB dried oregano
1 teas red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

1. Stir all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Assembly & Bake

This is the easiest part! Start by spraying a pan, that is at least two inches tall, with non-stick spray. Put a thin layer of the bechamel sauce in the bottom of the pan and then add your first lasagna sheet. From there the layers go in this order:
– bolognese
– ricotta
– bechamel
– noodles
– bolognese
– ricotta
– noodles
– bechamel

Once assembled, bake in a 375 oven for 45 minutes, covered. Even if you plan on freezing the lasagna, I have found that it is better to bake immediately and then freeze.

*Alternatively, if you have a kcik-ass, home made marinara sauce, substitute here. When I have time, I use my oven roasted garlic & tomato sauce.
** If Boursin is not readily available, plain whipped cream cheese may be used.

There are a lot of sweet and salty combos hitting store shelves and bakeries these days. When it comes to this trendy combo, on the top in my list you will find salted caramel cupcakes from More in Chicago and the simpler things, like kettle corn. I have been wanting to try my hand at salted caramels for some time, and it finally happened.

Salted Caramels

Salted Caramels

I can not post the recipe for the caramels here. The original recipe, is a family recipe that came from one of my good friend’s late grandmother. However, any well rated recipe from Cooks Illistrated, or even Epicurious, should do the trick. Just add 2 teaspoons of Fleur de Sel as you are cooking it, and then sprinkle some more over the top as they cool. Just make sure to use very good quality salt. Also, don’t take the mix past 140 degrees if you want a chewy consistency.

If you are in Indiana, and haven’t tried the lamb from Royer Farm, you are missing out.  Every time I cook lamb, I end up making something with a Greek twist to it.  Two years of sharing a dorm room with a Greek roommate will do that to you! And yes, there’s the irony of one of the ingredients listed being “Tuscan Sunset”, however this seasoning from Penzey’s has some of the same ingredients you will find in most Greek blends…. oregano, garlic, bell pepper… yep, it’s all Greek to me!

Greek Style Shells

2 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 lb lamb sausage
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 TB thyme
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup black olives
pasta shells, cooked according to package directions
12 oz ricotta cheese
8 oz crumbled feta cheese
2 TB Penzey’s Spices Tuscan Sunset seasoning, or a Greek style spice blend
1 TB water

1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the lamb sausage, salt and thyme and cook for 15 minutes till browned and you don’t have any large chunks of lamb left.
2. Add the green onions and black olives and cook for an additional 10 minutes in low to medium heat.
3. While the lamb finishes cooking, in a medium bowl combine the ricotta, feta and seasoning.
4. Fill shells with cheese mixture, and place in a baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Add one tablespoon of water and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
5. Bake shells in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes, top with lamb mixture and enjoy!

** Be sure to not overcook the pasta, just cook to “al dente”. It will finish cooking in the oven.

Granted, this would be even better using fresh apricots, but in early spring, jarred apricot does the trick!

Goat Cheese Stuffed Apricot Chicken

Goat Cheese Stuffed Apricot Chicken

1 jar apricot preserves
2 TB soy sauce
2 teas creole mustard
2 boneless skinless chicken breast, split in half
salt, pepper and oregano
4 tablespoons of crumbled goat cheese
2 TB extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a small sauce pan, mix together the apricot preserves, soy sauce, and creole mustard. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Set aside.
3. In the meantime, pound chicken breasts with a meat mallot to a 1/4″ thickness. Season with salt pepper, and oregano.
4. Sprinkle one tablespoon of goat cheese on each chicken breast, roll, and tie with butcher’s twine.
5. In a medium sized skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and sear the chicken breasts; 2 minutes per side.
6. Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish, cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil, top with half of the apricot mixture and bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes.
7. Plate and top with the remaining apricot glaze.

A simple dish of cook orzo tossed with roasted tomatoes, black olives, garbanzo beans and feta cheese is a great side dish choice!

Churrasco is one of the first things we seek when we visit Puerto Rico. My husband fell in love with this dish during one of his first trips to the island, and frankly, it is pretty darn good! The word Churrasco is commonly used to describe a cut of meat that is prepared on the grill.

There are several variations of this dish, they stem from the cut of meat used. Skirt is pretty popular, and I have even seen flank steak used. I much prefer to use a fillet mignon that I “unroll” by cutting into one long strip, about 1/3 ” in thickness, then flattened with a mallet. The one commonality, no matter the recipe or its country of origin, is the chimichurri sauce that is served with it. Chimichurri is a cilantro based pesto used to dip the Churrasco.

Churrasco w/ Chimichurri and Seasoned Parmesan Fries

Churrasco w/ Chimichurri and Seasoned Parmesan Fries

2 fillet mignons, about 3/4 lb each
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
garlic powder
2 TB extra virgin olive oil

1. Using a sharp knife, cut the fillet into one long strip. Place in between two pieces of plastic wrap and flatten with a meat mallet until you reach about 1/8″ in thickness.
2. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
3. Drizzle with olive oil and refrigerate for 3 – 4 hours.
4. Remove meat from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature, approx. 20 minutes.
5. Heat oven or grill to 450 degrees. Cook in the grill, or oven grill, 2 minutes per side for medium rare.
6. Serve with chimichurri sauce. Serves 4.

Chimichurri sauce:
In a food processor, puree the following ingredients: one bunch of parsley, one bunch of cilantro, 4 garlic cloves, 2 jalapeno peppers (one seeded), 3 TB olive oil, 2 TB chicken broth, 1 TB kosher salt, 1 teas. ground pepper.

1. The chimichurri recipe above makes about 8 servings. Make the entire recipe if you wish, and just freeze for future use.
2. Leaving the seeds in one of the jalapenos will make the chimichurri a little kick. For a milder version, seed and devein both peppers.

This recipe is so easy that you will find yourself making it over and over again. Not sure I should even call it a recipe, but more of “an alternative to the traditional gyro”. Though, my college roommate is probably rolling her eyes as she reads this. You see, in the brain of a Greek person this does not compute: gyro~pork.

The recipe I will share here is the one for the tzatziki. I also learned to make this in college, and the trick here is to strain the cucumbers and eliminate as much of the water as possible. This guarantees the dip to stay creamy. I like to place the grated cucumber in a piece of cheese cloth, tie it, and let it drain over a strainer.

One last thing, chicken works very nice as a substitution to the pork.

Roasted Pork Pita

Roasted Pork Pita


2 boneless pork chops
Salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup chicken broth
Sliced cucumber
Sliced tomatoes
Sliced onions
1/2 cup tzatziki
Crumbled Feta cheese
Chopped cilantro

1. Season pork chops with salt, pepper and crushed garlic. Place in a pan with chicken broth, and simmer in low to medium heat for 1 hour. Cut up into cubes and set aside.
2. Prepare tzatziki per instructions below, set aside.
3. Toast pita bread in a toaster oven or a skillet for a minute to warm up the bread.
4. Assemble pita by starting with the pita bread, followed by tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, pork, tzatziki, feta and chopped cilantro.

For the Tzatziki:
2 medium cucumbers, peeled and seeded
1 cup light sour cream
2 cloves of garlic
1 TB lemon juice

Grate the cucumbers and allow them to drain for an hour if possible. In a small bowl mix together the sour cream, crushed garlic and lemon till well combined. Then fold in the grated cucumber, and there you have it! Fresh tzatziki to enjoy in this recipe and use as a great dip for pita bread and fresh veggies.

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