Romesco Sauce

Elizabeth Thomas

Top fish, potatoes, serve with crudites, or as a pasta sauce.

Combine and blend until smooth:

  • 2 cups roasted, peeled, red bell peppers
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/4 cup salted almond butter
  • 1 1/4 cups olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar OR
  •  1 1/2 tbsp sherry vinegar

Serve chilled or at room temperature

Lamb Burgers

Lamb Burgers with Fennel Slaw

Ya know how sometimes you make something that is truly excellent?!? We did it, tonight. Lamb Burgers with all the trimmings!

We tend to get into a rut, now and again, with beef-chicken-pork because it's almost always in the freezer and easy to pull out and thaw, so last time I was at the grocers, I picked up a package of ground lamb. No real plan for it, but I thought it would help to get the creative juices flowing.

And it did!

Victor found a recipe for lamb burgers with a fennel slaw and aioli that had promise, so he went off to make his own version of the aioli. That left me with the fennel slaw and the lamb. We do good tag-team kitchen!

Lamb Burgers with Fennel Slaw


  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 2 oz Sambuca
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • Salt and Pepper

Lemon-Caper Aioli:

  • 1/4 cup rinsed salt-packed capers
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt

Fennel Slaw:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 celery stalks, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste


Lamb Burger:

Place lamb in bowl. Sprinkle with Sambuca and spices. Mix well and form into patties. Grill to desired doneness.

Lemon-Caper Aioli:

Whisk capers, mayonnaise, oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, mustard, cayenne, and garlic in a medium bowl; taste and season with salt and more lemon juice, if desired.

Fennel Slaw:

If you have a mandoline, use it to thinly-slice the fennel, celery, and onion. If not, cut as thin as you can. Toss the fennel, celery, onion, and mint with the lemon juice and olive oil. Add salt and pepper, as desired.

To Assemble:

Toast thick slices of bread or good rolls. Place aioli on bread, top with burger, top with more aioli, and then the slaw.

Lamb Burgers

This was definitely a hit! Lots of spice from the aioli, crunch from the slaw, and sweetness from the lamb. The flavors just worked. It was the perfect knife-and-fork burger.

The aioli recipe makes a lot, so the challenge will now be to see how I can incorporate it into something else.

I love a good challenge!




Gorgonzola Dressing

Gorgonzola Dressing

'Tis the Season! Its officially Spring - and that means making salad dressings! Dressings are just too easy to make and so much better than the stuff you buy at the store. Simple ingredients - and you can tweak them to your own preferences!

I had some gorgonzola in the 'fridge, so I thought a take on a nice Bleu Cheese dressing was in order.

Gorgonzola Dressing

  • 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tsp Blue Cheese mustard (or mustard of your choice)
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • a few drops worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Mix vinegar, shallot, mustard, celery seed, garlic powder, worcestershire sauce, and a hefty pinch of salt & pepper. Mix in the sour cream and then the milk.

Add the gorgonzola and mix well. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, as desired.

Rich, creamy, chunky, and perfect on a salad or as a dip.


Steaks with Bacon and Chipotle

The End of Week Thirty

I'm definitely filing this in the who woulda thunk category, today.

Really. Who woulda thunk we'd be doing this for thirty weeks - losing weight, gaining strength and stamina, eating better - and actually enjoying it?!? It seriously boggles the mind.

I had to buy a new pair of gym shorts, yesterday, because the old ones were too big and starting to fall off me. All of the XXL clothes have been donated, and while the closet is looking a bit sparse, we're not buying anything new, right away, except for jeans. I've gone from 40x32 to 34x32. Damn, it feels food.

What also feels good is doing things I never even conceived as being possible. Our trainer has us doing the seemingly impossible - and we continually succeed. I may not have a lot of finesse or style, but I'm making up for it with pure grit and determination. I figure finesse and style will come, eventually - my main focus right now is simply not dying while I'm doing whatever crazed thing he has us doing. Remembering to breathe is important.

Eating is important, too.

And we're definitely eating. Tonight was a celebratory steak topped with bacon, onion, tomato, and chipotle. Ridiculously good. The idea came from the NY Times Cooking pages.

Bacon and Chipotle Sauce

  • 4 oz bacon, chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder - or to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Cook bacon in a small skillet until crisp. Add diced onions and cook well. Add chipotle powder and quickly mix in. Add drained tomatoes and mix well. Cook until everything is hot and reduced to a jam-like consistency. Season with salt & pepper, as desired.

This is one of those things that could be used for anything - starting as the filling for a grilled cheese sandwich! Every bite is pure flavor. I cooked the baby zucchini in it, tonight, and it added some excellent flavor to an often-bland vegetable.

I marinated the steak in the drained tomato juice, cumin, Mexican oregano, and ancho chile powder. I seared it on the stove and finished it in the oven.

Waste not, want not, ya know?!?

So... here's to another successful week - and the next one coming up.

I'm feeling better and better about this.







Steak and Horseradish

Steak and Horseradish

My impulse buy at the store on Friday was a piece of fresh horseradish. I haven't done much with fresh horseradish over the years, so, seeing it in its little basket in the produce section of the local Wegmans got me thinking that it's about time I did.

A few of the hotels I worked in made fresh horseradish sauce for their steaks, but it was always handled by someone else. When I was cooking, I was the end-user, not the creator - even if I did know the basic recipe. And... most of them were pretty much the same. Probably a few variations on amounts, but ingredient-wise, spot on. Escoffier would be proud.


I peeled and then shredded the little guy, catching quite the whiff of horseradish. Yum.


A bit of white balsamic vinegar and a bit of salt really brought out the flavor. Surprisingly, though - at least to me - was how pungent it smelled, yet how mild it was mixed with the sour cream. Go figure.

Regardless, it was really good! Lots of flavor, but very little heat.

Horseradish Sauce

  • 1/2 cup freshly grated horseradish
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp tabasco sauce
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients and serve.

Really simple.

I still have a half-cup of the grated horseradish in the 'fridge. it will stay for months, but I need to figure out something else way before then!

Stay tuned.





Tomato Sauce

It seems the weather has finally started cooperating - we're getting tomatoes! We went out to do some yard cleanup and a bit of harvesting - and the bit of harvesting was 20 pints of tomato sauce - 16 canned and down stairs, 4 in the refrigerator. I can only can 16 pints at a time...

The sauce is just a plain tomato sauce - a bit of red wine and a bit of salt and pepper - but nothing else. We will be able to use it for anything we want!

It was really a simple process - i pureed all of the tomatoes in the blender and then cooked them down a bit...

Tomato sauce

Whenever I break out the big blue pot, I always think of Macbeth... Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and caldron bubble. The pressure canner is just slightly larger - double the pleasure, double the fun... I think I'll stop, now...

tomato sauce

I'm thinking this will be making some good soups and stews, this winter...


Dried Pepper Hot Sauce

When I was at Gentile's, yesterday, I saw a bunch of dried peppers hanging by the register. My impulse buys of the morning were Guajillo peppers, Pasilla peppers, and Chipotle peppers. I had also picked up a couple of fresh poblanos - with no firm plan as to what to do with them.

This morning, hot sauce came to mind...

The hot sauce I made from our garden peppers last October came out great - and we're down to the last bottle. There's no way I can replicate the last batch - we have different peppers growing this year - so it's time to make something new!

I started off by simmering the dried peppers for about 30 minutes.

I then fried up onions, garlic, and the poblano peppers...

As soon as the peppers cooled, I removed the stems to get ready for pureeing them in the blender with the poblanos and onions. I also added a couple of small cans of mild green peppers just for the hell of it. I had to do numerous batches - I made a lot more than I was planning to...

I was a good boy. I wore gloves! Seeds and all went into the blender, and then I strained everything into a pot, using the soaking water to thin.

I added about a cup of tequilla, 2 cups of vinegar, a cup of sugar, a hefty amount of oregano, and salt and pepper, and let it come to a boil and then boiled it for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, I had my bottles boiling away on another burner.

I filled the hot bottles, capped them, sealed them, and labelled them.

We're set until the summer peppers are ready!

The Weekend Food Fest

It doesn't get much better than having dear friends over for the weekend - especially when said friends are as enthusiastic about food as we are about cooking it. Definitely a friendship made in heaven!

Ann and Julie drove down from Rochester, taking a couple of days and meandering through Lancaster and the environs... Bird-in-Hand, Intercourse, Blue Ball... all the places with names that can get junior high school kids - or senior citizens - all in a twitter with double entendres.

Maturity is so overrated...

They arrived for dinner and the food-fest began!

Prosecco, of course, because... Prosecco. And a simple seafood dinner. Haddock with an Italian Salsa Verde, Potatoes and Savoy Cabbage, and Roasted Rainbow Carrots - and homemade bread, of course...

I picked up the haddock at Reading Terminal Market. I set it on lemon slices in a pan, added a bit of white wine, and put it in a 375°F oven for about 10 minutes.

It was topped with a fresh herb sauce:

Salsa Verde

  • 1 cup parsley
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 8 leaves basil
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 anchovy fillets
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste - if desired
  • 1 cup olive oil

Place everything but olive oil into food processor and process until reasonably smooth. Slowly add olive oil.

Taste for seasoning and add salt and/or pepper, if desired.

It is really refreshing! Lots and lots of flavor going on.

The potatoes were cooked and mashed with savoy cabbage. This was Victor's idea. He generally dislikes cabbage, so when he suggested it, I ran with it! I love cabbage and just don't seem to get it often enough.

It was not unlike a Colcannon, but with an olive oil twist.

Mashed Potatoes with Savoy Cabbage

  • 2 lbs russet potatoes
  • 1/4 head savoy cabbage
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • S&P

Peel and cube the potatoes. Chop the cabbage. Place both in a pot and cover with salted water.

Boil until the potatoes are tender. Drain.

Return to pan and mash with butter and a healthy drizzle of olive oil.

Season with salt and pepper and top with chives, if desired.

Really simple and they played well with the fish.

Another thing that played well was little rainbow carrots. Roasted in the oven with olive oil and thyme sprigs, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Really simple. Nothing overpowered anything. The flavors all spoke for themselves.

And a loaf of bread. Also simple.

Dessert was Panna Cotta topped with Blackberries in Sweet Marsala.

I didn't get a picture of it because I served it just as Lawrence Welk was starting. Lawrence Welk, you say?!? Yes... Lawrence Welk. We've had a long-standing tradition of watching Lawrence with Ann and Julie - us in Pennsylvania and them in New York. Texts flying back and forth with "My gawd, can you believe what she's wearing?"or "Rose must have been on drugs to come up with that outfit." It is a total hoot to watch a totally campy show with friends long-distance. I highly recommend it.

This is the most basic of recipes - and easier than easy to prepare.

Panna Cotta

  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Soften gelatin in the 2 tbsp water in a small saucepan. Heat to dissolve. remove from heat.

Bring heavy cream, half & half, and sugar to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in gelatin and vanilla. Mix well.

Pour into 6 6oz ramekins. Chill until completely set.

To unmold:

Dip ramekin in hot water for a few seconds. Run a sharp knofe around the ramekin and unmold onto a small plate.

Top with your favorite topping.

Blackberry Marsala Sauce

  • 8 oz blackberries
  • 1/2 cup sweet Marsala

Rinse berries. Pour Marsala on top, and mash a few of the berries. Let macerate an hour. Spoon over panna cotta.

More fun, laughter, and Pistachio Liqueur, it was time to call it a night.

We started off Sunday with Brunch - a fritatta. It's simple to make. Mushrooms, leeks, eggs, asparagus, herbes d'Provence... It was served with Blackberries in Prosecco - because we had leftover blackberries and leftover prosecco. It's great when things work out like that. We also had roasted potatoes with thyme and fresh squeezed blood orange juice with seltzer. Yum.

Of course, I forgot to photograph all of that when it was being served. Oh well. here's what was left.

We sat around talking and laughing and all the tomfoolery that friends seem to do, when I noticed it was getting into the middle of the afternoon, so I headed off into the kitchen and whipped up a loaf of bread and a torta di mele - an  Italian Apple Torte - while the kids were all occupied.

The bread is straight James Beard. I have been making it for years and years. It is a one-rise-into-a-cold-oven loaf. It never disappoints.

James Beard French-Style Bread

  • 1 pk active dry yeast
  • 1  tbsp  sugar
  • 1 cup  warm water
  • 1 tbsp  salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 tbsp  Yellow cornmeal
  • 1 egg white mixed with 1 tbsp cold water

Combine the yeast with sugar and warm water in a large bowl and allow to proof. Mix the salt with the flour and add to the yeast mixture, a cup at a time, until you have a stiff dough.

Remove to a lightly floured board and knead until no longer sticky, about 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary.

Place in a buttered bowl and turn to coat the surface with butter.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk..1 1/2-2 hrs.

Punch down the dough. Turn out on a floured board and shape into a long, French bread-style loaf. Place on a baking sheet that has been sprinkled with the cornmeal, but NOT buttered.

Slash the tops of the loaf diagonally in two or three places with a single edge razor blade or sharp knife, brush the loaves with the egg white wash.

Place in a COLD oven, set the temperature at 400° and bake 35 minutes, or until well browned and hollow sounding when the tops are tapped.

I use the microwave as my proofing box, nowadays. I boil a 2 cup measure with water, place it in the corner, add the bowl of dough and close the door. It drives Victor crazy because inevitably he wants or needs to nuke something, but the concept works great.

And then dessert... a Torta di Mele.

This is another simple dessert - but it looks impressive as hell.

Torta di Mele

  • 4 apples - I used an assortment
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 7 tbsp butter
  • 2/3 sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/8 cup Calvados
  • 1 lemon - zest
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • salt

Heat the oven to 390°F.

Cream sugar with butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs and egg yolk. Add Lemon zest. Add milk and Calvados.

Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt.

Peel and core apples. Slice half into wedges and chop half.

Stir the chopped apples into the batter.

Spread into a 10" springform pan that has been buttered and floured.

Arrange apple wedges around torta.

Bake about 30 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

I vacated the kitchen and Victor came in to make a baked pasta. Pasta with sausages, ricotta, five cheeses, and homemade sauce... Be still my beating heart. It was delicious. Even Nonna licked her plate clean.

There is something so comforting about ooey-gooey-cheesy pasta that is only made better when shared with friends. Then again, I think Italian food, in general, evokes family and friendship. There's just something about it that makes you want to eat, laugh, share, and talk for hours upon hours.

We never left the house. We simply moved from kitchen to living room to kitchen to living room.

So invite friends over for the weekend and just sit around and cook and eat. I highly recommend it!








Smoky Sweet BBQ Sauce

When we did our latest harvest from the garden, I thought a BBQ sauce was in order. We've already done pasta sauce, straight tomato sauce, and salsa. Time for something new.

I've made BBQ sauce in the past with varying degrees of success and thought it was time to tackle it. again.

Armed with a boatload of tomatoes, I started off.

I didn't peel the tomatoes - although I did core them. I used an immersion blender and didn't use a food mill, either. The end result isn't the thick, silky sauce from the national brands - there are no emulsifiers or thickening agents - but it's still thick and rich with lots of sweet smoky flavor!

Smoky Sweet BBQ Sauce

  • 8 pounds Tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 onions, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 hot peppers, chopped
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 1 cup brown sugr
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper

Saute the onions in olive oil until they begin to become translucent. Add garlic, tomatoes, peppers, and bourbon. Cover, and cook until tomatoes break down - 20 to 30 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, puree tomato mixture. It doesn't have to be perfectly smooth at this point - you'll keep blending as you go along.

Add remaining ingredients, using the immersion blender to mix everything really well and to make the sauce as smooth as possible.

Bring to a slow boil and cook, mixing often with the immersion blender to prevent scorching, for another 45 minutes to thicken.

Taste and check for seasonings, tweaking the smoky/spicy/sweet balance to your liking.

Bottle the sauce according to the type of jar, bottle, or container you choose.

I used 12 ounce sauce bottles and got exactly 12 bottles - pretty much a miracle. I never get exact amounts like that when I can!

You can play with this one a lot. Switch out the type of chili powder, the type of hot pepper, use a different vinegar... Have fun with it!

And speaking of canning...

You can get mason jars at pretty much any major grocery store, but if you're looking for special bottles or jars for something more fun or special, take a look at Fillmore Container. Their jars and lids are reasonably priced and they ship immediately! I've had great luck with them!


Zantonio Bruschetta

I don't often write about things we didn't make ourselves, but every once in a while, someone else makes something that is just too good not to blab about. And tonight is one of those times.

The guys we had brunch with, yesterday, are old friends of Victor's from the Lickety Split and Montserrat days - the beginning of the young and hip restaurant renaissance in Philadelphia. One pal, Tony, started Zantonio Brands of Hammonton.

At brunch, Tony gifted us with a batch of his bruscetta sauce - it's bru-SKETTA.

Bruschetta to Italians is like salsa to Mexicans. You put it on everything. And, like salsa - some bruschettas are good, some are okay, some suck, and some are awesome. Tony's is awesome. And I'm not just saying that because it's true. It really is awesome.

The first thing I did when we got home was open the lid. I was immediately hit with the scent of tomatoes. Real tomatoes. And the flavor. It tasted like it had just been made with the best tomatoes right out of my yard. I've been around food long enough to know it ain't easy to make something in quantity and have it taste like it was just made in your own kitchen.

Tony did it. And without preservatives!

As I was standing at the counter eating spoonfuls out of the container, I thought that for my first dish I'd use it to top a chicken breast. It's pretty much a classic pairing, but something this good meant I had to up the chicken game, a bit.

08-15-16-zantonio-bruschetta-and chicken

I started off with organic, free range boneless, skinless chicken breasts because I love being pretentious now and again. If I could have found pastured chicken at the local grocery I would have gone with it - damn the cost!

I floured them, dipped them in egg, and then dipped them in a coating of fresh bread crumbs, shredded Locatelli, grated garlic, and a bit of freshly-ground pepper. I browned them in a skillet with olive oil, and then placed them on a rack in the oven to finish. It is so much easier -  and much less messy - to cook them this way.

Five minutes before pulling them out of the oven, I topped them with generous helpings of bruschetta and then a handful of lump crab meat because crab makes everything better. That, and crab, chicken, and tomato just really go well together.

For a side dish, I baked slices of potatoes in the oven on a sheet pan and then tossed them into a skillet with several different olives, pimento strips, and about a third of a cup of homemade tomato sauce. Just enough to coat everything.

Dinner was spectacular. Even Nonna completely cleaned her plate.

Tomorrow will probably be a classic bread and bruschetta since I baked bread today.

Locally, you can get Tony's bruschetta at Shop Rite and at Acme. It's refrigerated. He also makes a scampi sauce that I'm going to actually go out and buy!

Can't wait to try it!

Bone-In Pork Chops with Leeks

I got a great deal on a bone-in pork roast the other day. It was much too big to actually cook as a roast for us, but perfect for cutting into bone-in pork chops! I really do like bone-in steaks and chops - and chicken, too, for that matter. The flavor is so much more pronounced.

I usually go the quick-and-easy route with boneless whatever just to get it on the table quickly, but when I have the time... Besides, I needed to practice for my life of leisure after winning the $900 million+ Powerball tonight. Almost a billion dollars. That could build one hellava kitchen in our new house - and pay for someone to clean up after me. That would be such a luxury - and Victor would be so happy since he's the one who cleans up after me most days. I mean, it's not like I'm a total slob, but I can definitely dirty some pots and pans.

Armed with my trusty knife, I cut six huge chops. I have to admit it was not the neatest butchering job I have ever done, but, I had six edible portions and no waste when I was finished. That's pretty much all that matters, right?!?

I found a recipe in a 10 year old Bon Appetit that seemed perfect - being that I had all the ingredients in the house - and to work I went!

Pork Chops with Leeks and Mustard Sauce

  • 4 1 1/2"-or thicker bone-in pork chops
  • 2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 bacon slices, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups thinly sliced leeks
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup sour cream

Mix the salt, thyme, rosemary, and pepper. Liberally cover the pork chops and let sit at room temperature about an hour.

Saute chopped bacon in a large skillet until crispy. Remove bacon and set aside. Add pork chops to pan with bacon grease and cook about 5 minutes on each side.



Remove pork chops from pan and add leeks.


Cook about 7 minutes or so and then add the garlic. Cook another minute or two and then add the brandy and broth and bring to a boil. Add the cooked bacon and the sage and let simmer a moment.

Nestle the chops into the leeks and simmer about 3 or 4 minutes. Flip the chops and cook another 3-4 minutes or until cooked through.


Remove the chops and set aside. Bring the leeks to a boil until most of the liquid evaporates. Stir in mustard and sour cream and just heat through.


Spoon over pork chops and enjoy!

I served them with broccoli rabe and parslied potatoes.

The pork chops were extremely tender and the sauce really worked well. The flavors all played well together and in each bite there was a hint of bacon, a hint of mustard, a hint of brandy... As silly as it may sound, I could see this sauce atop a nice hamburger steak.

We shall see... In the meantime, there are still three more huge pork chops in the freezer...

Stay tuned...

Baked Crêpes Cacciatore with Parmesan Cream Sauce


I tend to toss cooking magazines, nowadays... I have subscribed to, read, saved, and otherwise consumed so many magazines over the years, I could star in an episode of Hoarders. I probably have 50 or so left - mainly La Cucina Italiana since they no longer publish - but there's a few others that have made the cut, as well - like the April 2012 issue of Fine Cooking.

It's a pretty good magazine and, unlike Bon Appetit, there's always something I feel like making. Sometimes I take a while to get around to it, but that's life, ya know?!?

The cacciatore crepes called out to me the first time I saw the recipe but that was about the time Nonna had moved in and things were in a bit of an uproar. And then another magazine arrives and another arrives, and the focus goes elsewhere.

I was culling the remaining magazines the other day - I really am trying to pare down - when I saw the recipe, again. This time, I knew I was making it.

We've really been in a rut around here. Nonna's eating habits are a challenge, at times. She will zero in on something and want it all the time - and then, without notice, decide she no longer likes it. It definitely makes for some interesting mealtimes. The recipe as written had several things she's no longer interested in - mushrooms, red peppers, and chili peppers, to name but three - but the basic concept was sound.

She likes manicotti and other stuffed pasta, so I figured I could work this into a meal she - and we - would like!

First thing I did was make the filling. I used tomatoes from the garden, as well as some cooked, shredded turkey that was in the freezer.


Then it was time to make the crêpes. These use browned butter which adds a nice nuttiness to the dish. I don't flip my crêpes when I make them - they cook through just fine.


Then it was time for the sauce. Just heavy cream and parmesan cheese. Super easy.


Putting it all together was a snap, as well. They were rolled and in the pan in no time, at all.


And, finally, the finished product...


They really did rock the casbah. Even Nonna ate two of them! The crêpes were light and delicate and the sauce added its crowning glory. I can see lots of variations on a theme, here!

Here's the recipe as written at Fine Cooking. It looks long, but it really is easy. Just do it in steps.

Baked Crêpes Cacciatore with Parmesan Cream Sauce

adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine

For the filling:

  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter; more softened for the baking dish
  • 8 oz. cremini or white button mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 2-1/2 cups)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium (8 oz.) red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into small dice
  • 1 large mild fresh green chile (such as Anaheim) cored, seeded, and cut into small dice
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbs. all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 cup lower-salt chicken broth
  • 1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice; more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. hot sauce
  • 2 cups chopped leftover roast chicken or store-bought rotisserie chicken

For the cheese sauce:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 oz. (1-1/2 cups) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For assembly:

  • 12 8-inch crêpes, warmed if made ahead
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika (optional)

Make the filling:

In a 12-inch skillet, heat 1 Tbs. of the oil and the butter over medium-high heat until sizzling. Add the mushrooms, season with 1/2 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms release much of their liquid and begin to brown, 7 to 9 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and return the skillet to the heat.

Add the remaining 2 Tbs. oil, the bell pepper, chile, onion, rosemary, and 1 tsp. salt. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft and fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes; don’t let them brown.

Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook for a minute or so, stirring and scraping so the flour gets mixed with the fat and starts to toast a bit. Add the broth and let it come to a simmer, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, lemon juice, and hot sauce; bring to a simmer again and cook for 1 to 2 minutes to slightly thicken the sauce.

Add the chicken and mushrooms and simmer for a few minutes until everything is heated through. Remove from the heat and season to taste with more salt, pepper, hot sauce, or lemon juice. Cover the filling and keep warm.

Make the cheese sauce:

In a heavy-duty 1-quart saucepan, bring the cream to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a lively simmer and cook until the cream has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the cheese, stirring until melted. Season generously with pepper. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Assemble and bake the crêpes:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13-inch baking dish.

Working with a few crêpes at a time, lay them on a clean work surface. Spoon about 3 heaping Tbs. of the filling evenly onto the bottom third of each crêpe. Fold the bottom edge of each crêpe up and over the filling, fold the sides in toward the center, and finish rolling up from the bottom. Evenly arrange the crêpes seam side down in a single layer in the baking dish.

Spread the cheese sauce evenly over the crêpes and sprinkle with the paprika (if using). Bake until the sauce is golden and bubbling slightly, 12 to 16 minutes. Serve.