Lobster Mac & Cheese - Zantonio Style

Lobster Mac & Cheese - decadence on a plate. And this one is Decadence Incarnate!

Our friend, Tony has a business back east - Zantonio Brands of Hammonton New Jersey - and makes a couple of really great products - a fresh Bruschetta and a garlic parmesan butter marketed as Scampi Sauce. Both are available in Acme and Shop Rite stores back east, but there's no national distribution.

We've been working with him to help develop some online sales - something that is definitely not easy with fresh food. Our once-fabulous Postal Service isn't always as efficient as it should be - although even delayed packages have been within acceptable temperatures.

The best part of it for us has been receiving samples in the mail! When one has five pounds of Garlic Parmesan Butter/Scampi Sauce, one needs to find uses for it.

And we are...

Last night, I made a Lobster Mac & Cheese - using a recipe from Food and Wine magazine as my guide. The beauty of Tony's butter is I didn't need at add any additional herbs or spices other than a bit of salt and pepper, to taste. Everything else was there!

The biggest secret to this recipe - other than the Garlic Parmesan Butter/Scampi Sauce -is making the lobster stock. Letting it all simmer together makes for a really rich and flavorful base.


Lobster Mac & Cheese Zantonio Style

  • 6 small lobster tails – about 1 1/2 lbs, total – thawed, if frozen
  • 9 tablespoons Zantonio Garlic Parmesan Butter/Scampi Sauce, divided
  • 3/4 cup sliced yellow onion
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 pound uncooked short curly pasta – elbows, cavatappi, or campanelle
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 16 ounces mixed grated cheeses – fontina, Gruyère, cheddar, asiago – cheeses you like
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt, to taste

Crumb Topping

  • 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs – fresh, store-bought plain, or panko will work
  • 3 tablespoons Zantonio Garlic Parmesan Butter/Scampi Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika


Grease a 3-quart, 13- x 9-inch baking dish with butter; set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high. Add lobster tails; cook, undisturbed, until shells turn red but meat is still slightly translucent, about 2 minutes (lobster will be undercooked). Using tongs, transfer lobster to a large bowl; let cool 5 minutes.

Transfer 2 cups of the cooking water to a heatproof measuring cup and set aside; reserve remaining water in pot on stovetop.

Using kitchen shears, cut down the center of each lobster tail shell, transfer meat to a cutting board, and add shells to bowl. Clean the lobster tails.

Chop lobster meat into 1-inch pieces and place in a medium bowl; cover and refrigerate.

Make lobster stock

Melt 2 tablespoons of the Zantonio Garlic Parmesan Butter/Scampi Sauce in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add reserved lobster shells with any juices from bowl; cook, stirring often, until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until onion is soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add wine; cook, stirring often, until almost dry, about 6 minutes more.

Stir in reserved 2 cups cooking water in measuring glass, and bring to a simmer over medium. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Stir in milk and cream; cook over medium-low, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a large heatproof bowl; discard solids. There should be about 4 cups lobster stock; set aside. Wipe saucepan clean; set aside. Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cook pasta

While lobster stock reduces, return remaining lobster cooking water in large pot to a boil over high. Add pasta and cook for 1 minute less than package instructions for slightly less than al dente. Drain and set aside.

Make cheese sauce

Melt 4 tablespoons of the Zantonio Garlic Parmesan Butter/Scampi Sauce in cleaned saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour; cook, whisking constantly, until bubbly and light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in reserved 4 cups strained milk mixture. Cook, whisking often, until thickened, 6 to 8 minutes.

Remove from heat; gradually whisk in cheeses, whisking until melted. Add mascarpone and whisk until smooth. Gently stir in cooked pasta and lobster meat. Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish; set aside.

Make topping

Melt remaining 3 tablespoons Zantonio Garlic Parmesan Butter/Scampi Sauce. Stir in panko, lemon zest, and paprika. Sprinkle evenly over mac and cheese mixture in baking dish.

Bake in preheated oven until bubbly and golden brown on top, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes.

About 8 servings.



Tony is still not set for online sales - yet - but it's in the works. We'll definitely let you know when it happens!


Soft Mustard Molasses Cookies

These cookies come from a 2009 edition of the now-defunct Gourmet Magazine. I've had it laying around probably since then, but never quite got around to making them. I mean... Mustard in a cookie?!?

Well... as so often happens, I was wrong.

Yes, mustard in a cookie! They're like a soft version of a gingersnap - but with a bit more oomph! 

They're really flavorful and you don't actually taste mustard. A keeper, indeed.

Too bad it took me 15 years to get up the courage to make them.


Soft Mustard Molasses Cookies

adapted from Gourmet Magazine

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg at room temperature 30 minutes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup mild molasses
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • Demerara sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Grease 2 large baking sheets.

Whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.

Beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in egg, mustard, and molasses (mixture may look curdled).

At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture, and mixing just until smooth.

Drop 1 1/2 Tbsp batter per cookie onto baking sheets, arranging them 3 inches apart (cookies will spread). Sprinkle with Demerara sugar.

Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until cookies are puffed and dry to the touch, 17 to 19 minutes. Cool on sheet 1 minute, then transfer cookies to a rack to cool.


Make a batch - don't wait 15 years!

Pear Blueberry Dutch Baby

He's done it, again!

Victor the Kitchen Magician has used his magical skills to create the perfect dessert!

Dutch Baby's are one of the most versatile things to make. They can be sweet, they can be savory. Items can be mixed in or served on top after cooking. Victor took a basic formula and added orange zest, thinly sliced pears to the pan before adding the batter, and blueberries scattered on top to create a truly excellent dessert!

The delicate orange came through, the pears were sweet and tender, and the blueberries popped with juicy flavor!

Light and delicate - the perfect dessert!


Pear Blueberry Dutch Baby

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp fresh orange zest
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 Bosc pear, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • Confectioners' sugar, for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Put a 10-inch cast iron skillet or oven-safe nonstick pan into the oven and heat for at least 5 minutes.

In a blender, combine the eggs, flour, milk, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, the salt, orange zest, and vanilla. Blend until completely smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender jar as necessary, about 30 seconds.

Open the oven door and drop the butter into the preheated skillet. Close the oven and allow the butter to melt, about 2 minutes (do not let it burn).

Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven and place the pears in pan. Pour the batter into the buttered skillet and scatter the blueberries on top.

Place the skillet back into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until puffed and golden.

Carefully remove the skillet from the oven.

Dust with confectioners' sugar and then cut into wedges.

Serve with maple syrup.

I'm thinking having a Breakfast for Dinner sometime soon with a savory version...

Stay tuned!



In The Beginning...

... there was no World Wide Web. There was no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok... There wasn't even MySpace, let alone the concept of streaming movies or TV on demand.

Back in those Dark Ages, there was Compuserve, Prodigy, and America Online. You paid a monthly fee for an extremely slow dial-up connection to your service of choice. That fee entitled the user to 'X'-amount of minutes per month - and when you went over your allotment, you were charged by the minute for your overages. A lot. I know.

Victor and I were introduced online - he was on Prodigy, I was on America Online, and our Yenta, Nancy, was on both. She decided we should meet.

We did, and it will be 30 years in November...

During those years on Prodigy and America Online, we met a lot of really great people - people we were able to connect with in real life, and who remain cherished friends to this day.

One person we only knew from the Prodigy online world - who we lost contact with when Prodigy went away in 2001 - was a woman named Lisa Deaton. Lisa will always be remembered because she gave us her recipe for Double Fudge Brownie Decadence. And, as the recipe implies - it is decadent!

The secret to this particular recipe is the corn syrup. And, yes, boys and girls, there is a difference between Karo Corn Syrup and high fructose corn syrup.

Double Fudge Brownie Decadence

Lisa Deaton


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate


  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 9" cake pan.

In saucepan, heat butter and corn syrup until butter is melted. Stir in chocolate until melted. Cool, slightly.

Add sugar and then eggs, mixing well. Add vanilla, flour, and nuts, mixing well.

Pour into prepared pan and bake about 30 minutes, or until it springs back when lightly touched.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then remove and fully cool on rack.

For glaze:

Melt together chocolate, corn syrup, and butter. Stir in vanilla. Frost with glaze and then chill about 15 minutes to set glaze.

The online world really was so much different back in those days. To quote Simon and Garfunkel... A time it was, and what a time it was, it was... A time of innocence...

Not that we were actually innocent, mind you... we could definitely be hell-raisers walking the fine line of being TOS'd... I spent an inordinate amount of time on the Christianity Boards. It was fun being the Gay Atheist who knew more about the Bible than those who professed to follow it...

I also came close to working for the GLCF - Gay Lesbian Community Forum - on AOL circa 1992-93. Alas, the actual money wasn't there. With 20/20 hindsight, I probably would have made a fortune in stock. Oh, well...

It is difficult to imagine a time when you didn't carry access to the entire world in your pocket. A time when you called someone on the phone and it would be busy for hours because they were online with their dial-up. It's also hard to imagine a time when 14.6kbs was fast! You actually had to go to a bank - online banking didn't exist. Bills came in the mail - and were paid by check. It was downright archaic!

But I digress - as usual...

Thanks, Lisa, for the recipe - and the stroll down Memory Lane...

And speaking of Memory Lane... the plate is from the 1992 James Beard Award Dinner - a set of 4 from our friend, Susan, who has been a friend for more than 45 years - waaaaay before the online world existed.

Cannoli Crepes

I was sitting in the office, minding my own business - more or less - when I heard a bit of clatter in the kitchen. The office is adjacent to the kitchen - it used to be the garage - so it's easy to listen in. (We have a very quirky house.)


I peek my head in and Victor is standing over the stove. I casually asked him what he was doing, and with a big smile, he said he was making Cannoli Crepes!

I swooned.

And after I tasted them, I swooned even more!

They were the perfect dessert and a perfect substitute for their much more complicated cousin.

Our sister-in-law Marie's mother made homemade cannoli into her 90s, and the last time we actually had a cannoli was at Mike's in Boston's North End.

Big Gram's were better than Mikes, but the absolute best were in Modca, Sicily, at Pasticciera Chantilly. The pastries and chocolates were unbelievable! And the cannoli were perfection.

They were filled fresh right in front of us! The owner and his assistant were a lot of fun and really enjoyed our enthusiasm.


And they really were delish!


But I digress...

Cannoli shells are a pain in the ass to make, but I do think one of these days I may have to try it. In the meantime, their crepe cousin is a fantastic substitute.


Cannoli Crepes


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar


  • 1 15 oz container ricotta – drained (or ½ and ½ ricotta and mascarpone)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar – (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Mini chocolate chips or grated chocolate.
  • 1 tsp grated lemon or orange rind (I used both)
  • Chopped pistachios (or almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc...)
  • Optional – candied fruit, cherries

For Crepes:

Mix all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

Heat a lightly buttered non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Pour Scoop about 1/4 cup batter into yhe hot [an. for each crêpe. Tilt the panand swirl until pan is covered.

Cook until the top of the crepe is reasonably dry. Flip and cook until the other side is a light brown.

Repeat with remaining batter, stacking crepes and covering with a clean dish cloth.

For Filling:

Drain ricotta in a sieve for about an hour. Mix with mascarpone, if using.

Add powdered sugar and vanilla.

Add remaining ingredients and blend well.

To Assemble:

Place crepe on board. Spoon desired amount of filling in center and roll tightly with seam-side down.

Top with powdered sugar or chocolate sauce, if desired.


They were perfectly light, tons of flavor, great contrasts in texture... an absolutely perfect dessert!

And we have more for tonight!

Homemade Soup and a Loaf of Bread

We finally made it to the grocery store, yesterday. First time in almost 2 weeks. We've had a bit of weather that just wasn't conducive to being out and about.

It's definitely age-related... Back in my youth, I'd be on the roads in a snowstorm half-lit with bald tires heading to the store because we had the munchies or were almost out of beer. Now, common sense coupled with a profound fear of meeting a 2024 version of my youthful self in the middle of an intersection keeps me put.

Fortunately, a well-stocked freezer and pantry kept us well-fed.

The nice thing about not shopping for 2 weeks is we can now actually see into the freezer and cupboards! There's nothing languishing in a far corner, dying of freezer burn. No packaged goods with a Use By date of July 2019. It's all ready to be packed out, again!

Another fun thing about not shopping for a while is getting creative with the things you have - like last night's soup. We had every ingredient but one in the house - and the one ingredient we didn't have was being delivered by Imperfect Foods.

I rarely follow a recipe for soup - it's soup, after all - but once in a while I see something that sounds interesting. I really like the flavor combinations of Moroccan food and this one hit all the buttons.

The original recipe called for a can of chickpeas and no chicken, but... we have several pounds of dried chickpeas from Palouse, so I used them. Also, since the recipe said to use chicken broth, I added some chicken. Leave the chicken out and switch the broth to vegetable broth and you have a lovely Vegan soup...

Moroccan Lentil and Chickpea Soup

adapted from America's test Kitchen

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 oz chicken breast or thigh, cubed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Saffron
  • 3/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup orzo
  • 4 ounces Swiss chard, stemmed and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent and starting to brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and ginger, and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Stir in coriander, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, and pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken and brown lightly. Stir in 1/2 cup cup parsley and cook for 1 minute.

Stir in broth, water, and chickpeas. Cook until chickpeas are almost cooked through. Add tomatoes and lentils; increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and gently simmer until lentils are just tender, about 20 minutes.

Stir in pasta and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in chard and continue to cook, partially covered, until pasta is tender, about 5 minutes longer. Off heat, stir in lemon juice and remaining 1/4 cup parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I did make a vat of this - lunch for several days!!

And since we were having soup, I decided we needed some fresh-baked bread.


The recipe for the bread was actually a sun-dried tomato and olive bread. I didn't have any decent black olives in the house, so I just made it without the olives and tomatoes.

This is a really easy go-to recipe that is excellent plain, or made with any number of add-ins. Light crumb, chewy crust... Gotta love it!

And I really do like weighing ingredients - it is just so much easier.

Sun-Dried Tomato and Olive Bread

adapted from the BBC

  • 500g/1lb 2oz strong white flour
  • 15g/½oz salt
  • 55ml/2fl oz olive oil
  • 20g/¾oz fresh yeast
  • 275ml/9fl oz water
  • 170g/6oz black Greek olives, pitted and chopped
  • 55g/2oz sun-dried tomatoes

Mix all ingredients, apart from the olives and tomatoes, in a large bowl. Take care not to put the yeast in direct contact with the salt when they are first added to the bowl.

Knead well with your hands and knuckles until the dough is elastic, smooth and shiny. Cover with a piece of cling film and leave to rise for one hour.

Divide the dough into two and add half of the olives and sun-dried tomatoes into each.

Mould both the doughs into rough round shapes and press firmly down. Sprinkle white flour lightly over the top and mark them with a cross.

Place them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper (silicone paper) and prove for one hour in a warm place.

Bake at 220°C/425°F/Gas 7 for 30 minutes until golden-brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.


Two loaves of bread - one in the fairly empty freezer.

Bring it on, Mother Nature. We're set!

Roasted Mushroom Chicken Marsala

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the kitchen is so delightful...

I just love it when I haven't been to the store in days, I find a recipe that looks pretty good, and I actually have the ingredients in the house to make it!

Case in point - last night's Roasted Mushroom Chicken Marsala!

We haven't been to the store because we've had some fun snow and ice - with more freezing rain about to start any minute. With highs only hitting the teens, the roads have become packed ice and snow. Our latest round of Cold Rain and Snow [cue the Grateful Dead] is only supposed to last until about 5am, tomorrow - an inch of snow and a half-inch of ice down at our level... More than a couple of streets are closed because of fallen trees or stuck vehicles and with plenty of supplies, there's just no reason to venture out. Besides, kids are sliding down our hill using a kiddie pool as a sled - who wants to interrupt their fun?!?

The chicken dish was compliments of a recipe I found on Food and Wine. It's one of the few food magazines I still subscribe to. Why I subscribe to any at this point is a mystery - I have literally thousands of recipes filed that I haven't made yet. I don't really need any more...

Be that as it may... this came out pretty good.

Roasted Mushroom Chicken Marsala

adapted from Food and Wine magazine

  • 1 lb mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup shallots cut into thin rings
  • 2 chicken breasts sliced in half and pounded into cutlets
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup Dry Marsala
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • S&P to taste

Heat oven to 425°F.

Toss the mushrooms, garlic and shallots in a 9x13 pan with 1/4 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and toss again. Roast on the middle rack of the oven, tossing the mushrooms once or twice, until the mushrooms are softened with crisp, golden edges - 20 to 30 minutes.

Season the cutlets with salt and pepper. Place the flour on a plate and then dredge the seasoned cutlets to coat them all over.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Once hot, sear the chicken in batches, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Transfer the seared cutlets to a plate and set aside.

Add the marsala wine, chicken stock and soy sauce to the pan, with the heat on medium-high, and reduce by half.

Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter.

Once melted, place the chicken cutlets and roasted mushrooms back into the pan.

Heat for a couple of minutes to warm the chicken, then turn off the heat and serve.


Parsley Buttered Noodles and Green Beans finished off the plate. And dinner only took three pots and a roasting pan!

It was worth it.

And the leftovers became sandwiches for lunch, today.

A New Batch of Sauce

Ah... the perfect way to start the New Year - 15 quarts of Pasta Sauce!

I do love this stuff - and I do love having it on the shelf to use whenever it strikes my fancy!

12 28oz cans of San Marzano tomatoes, a full bottle of a good Chianti, bone-in pork chops... Obviously, we make a bit more than the following recipe.

Granted, making sauce like this costs more than buying a quart of Ragu, but, oh, what a difference... You definitely get what you pay for.


Victor’s Pasta Sauce

  • 2 – 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 – Sm can tomato paste
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (or to taste if you like more) chopped fine
  • Olive oil
  • Dried Italian seasonings
  • Hot red pepper flakes (a tsp or more or less to taste)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Red wine (always cook with a decent wine, never “cooking” wine) about a cup or cup and a half
  • Meat – such as Italian sausage or some nice beef or pork ribs or pork chops

Ok…I ALWAYS make my sauce with meat, so start with a deep, heavy pot and add about 3-4 TBS of olive oil. On high heat, once the oil is hot, start frying the sausage or pork, Let the meat get good and caramelized although you don’t have to cook it all the way through because you’ll add it back to the sauce to finish. Once the meat is browned take it out of the pot, put it on a plate and set aside.

Lower the heat to medium and sauté the tomato paste for a couple of minutes until it begins to “melt”. Add the chopped garlic and sauté with the tomato paste for just a minute (no longer or it will burn). Then add about a cup of the red wine and deglaze the pan with it, scrapping up all the good bits that stuck to the bottom when cooking the meat.

When the wine reduces by about ½ start adding the canned tomatoes.  Add one can of hot water for every can of tomatoes you use.

Now start adding the dried Italian seasonings.  I eyeball it but I would guess a good 2 TBS is fine.  Add about another ½ cup of red wine, with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir everything into the sauce. It will be very thin at this point.

Add back the cooked meat. Now this is important….at the bottom of the plate you let the meat rest on will be some of the oil and juices that seeped out. Pour that back into the pot. It has a lot of flavor in it.

Bring the sauce back to a boil then turn the heat down low and let it simmer for at least 1 and a half hours, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes to keep it from burning. It should reduce by about a third or a little less and get thicker. The meat will absorb the sauce and get very tender.

When I make meatballs, I don’t fry them, I bake them on a sheet pan. When I do, I add them to the simmering sauce when they’re done so they also absorb the flavor.

I usually make the sauce early in the day and after it’s done, just let it sit on the stove until dinner then I re-heat it. This should make enough sauce for a couple of dinners or good sized lasagna.



Part of the fun of canning is making labels for things. This is the latest one for sauce - I have a lot of them on file, but like to come up with new ones now and again.

Our pressure canner holds 7 quarts at a time, so I canned two batches and part of the 15th quart became last night's dinner - Pork Chops Parmesan - using the chops that had simmered in the sauce. I didn't get a photo, but it came out pretty good with some shell pasta on the side.

An excellent dinner and sauce to last us through the Winter.

Life is good... [urp!]

Pane Siciliano

I have been making Pane Siciliano for years - ever since I first got Carol Field's The Italian Baker - some 25 or so years ago. I even baked a couple of loaves in Sicily when we were there! It's a good loaf of bread.

I received the latest issue of Milk Street Magazine and, lo and behold, they had a recipe for Pane Siciliano that was just a tad different - it called for ground, toasted sesame seeds in the dough!

Naturally, I had to bake a loaf!



And I must say - the addition of the ground, toasted sesame seeds really knocked it out of the ballpark! It worked really well with the semolina, adding just the right amount of nuttiness without overpowering the loaf. Needless to say, we liked it!

It has a beautiful, soft crumb and the crust has just the right chew.


Pane Siciliano

adapted from Milk Street

  • 40 grams (4 tbsp) sesame seeds, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 3 tbsp warm water,  divided
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp honey, divided
  • 340 grams (2 cups) semolina flour
  • 137 grams (1 cup) bread flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

In a skillet over medium heat, toast 30 grams (3 tablespoons) of the sesame seeds, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder and pulse to a fine powder.

In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, stir together 1¼ cups of the warm water, the oil and 1 tablespoon of the honey.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the ground sesame, both flours, the yeast and salt. Attach the bowl and dough hook to the mixer.

With the mixer on low, gradually add the water mixture. Increase to medium and knead until a smooth dough forms and clears the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.

Form the dough into a ball, place back in the bowl, cover, and let rise at room temperature until doubled, 1 to 1½ hours.

Meanwhile, line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment and dust it with semolina.

Turn the dough out onto a dry counter (not floured).

Form the dough into a thick log about 12 inches long. Using your hands, roll the log back and forth against the counter while applying light pressure, stretching the dough into an evenly thick rope about 30 inches long.

Starting at one end, tightly coil the rope, stopping at the rope’s midpoint. Coil the other end of the rope in the opposite direction from the first, forming an S shape.

Place the shaped dough on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise at room temperature until  almost doubled, 45 to 60 minutes.

Position racks in the middle and lower-middle of the oven. Place a metal baking pan on the lower rack and heat the oven to 375°F.

In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 3 tablespoons warm water and the remaining 1 teaspoon honey. Have ready 3 cups hot to pour into the baking pan to create steam for baking the bread.

When the dough has almost doubled, brush it with the honey-water mixture and then sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1 tablespoon sesame seeds.

Place the baking sheet on the upper rack of the oven, carefully pour the hot water into the baking pan and quickly close the oven door. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes.

Cool the loaf on the baking sheet on a wire rack for about 5 minutes. Transfer directly to the rack and cool completely.


The recipe states one can also make 6 rolls from the dough, pretty much following the above instructions but rolling into balls and then flattening them to about 1" thick, cover and rise until doubled, and bake 35 or so minutes. I shall do that next time.

I shall be making it again. And again... It's an extremely easy loaf to make.


Andalusian-Style Chicken

I decided we needed something different for dinner... I had already baked bread - Pane Pugliese made into rolls - and wanted something that would go with it. It's one of my favorite breads to make - and it always comes out great!

I started going through chicken recipes, and since the larder was fairly well-stocked, went with a variation of Andalusian-Style Chicken from BBC Food. It's a Spanish version of Italian agrodolce.

I played with the recipe quite a bit - shocking, eh?!? I added eggs - shakshuka-style - and it really did come out good.. They were definitely correct about serving it with crusty bread.

Andalusian-Style Chicken

adapted from BBC Food

  • large pinch of saffron
  • 2 cups turkey stock
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 boneless, skinless thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • large pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 can San Marzano peeled tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 25g toasted pistachios
  • S&P to taste
  • 4 eggs
  • crusty bread, to serve


Add the saffron to the hot stock to soak. Heat the butter in a medium skillet and cook the onion until it is soft and just beginning to turn golden. Push to the side of the pan and add the chicken. Cook for a few minutes until the chicken is browned all over.

Add the cinnamon, cumin, and chilli, and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the stock, vinegar, honey, tomatoes, tomato paste, and raisins. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat a bit and cook until the sauce is reduced and the chicken is cooked through. When ready to serve, add 4 eggs, cover, and simmer until eggs are cooked to desired firmness. Scatter with the nuts, and serve with bread on the side.


This is a loaf of the Pane Pugliese I made a while back. I didn't take any separate pictures of the rolls.

Pumpkin Rolls

I've been making these rolls for probably 30 years or more. I don't really recall the origin of the recipe - just that it came about one Thanksgiving, lo these many years ago - and has been a holiday staple ever since.

My best guess is that they came from a magazine like Bon Appetit or Gourmet, but I haven't been able to find a similar recipe doing a web search... They're extremely easy and really good.  I use the food processor to blend the butter and 2 cups of flour together and then add it to the rest of the flour.

For this batch, I switched things up a bit... I went from 3/4 cup butter to 1 cup, and 1 egg to 2. I also used 3 cups bread flour and 4 cups all-purpose. And I cut the nutmeg to 1/2 teaspoon and added a half-teaspoon of mace.


Pumpkin Rolls

  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp mace
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups pumpkin
  • egg wash made by beating 1 large egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water

In a mixing bowl proof the yeast with 1 teaspoon of the sugar and the milk for 5 minutes.  Combine 6 cups of the flour, nutmeg, salt, and the remaining sugar and blend in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the eggs, the pumpkin puree, and the yeast mixture and mix until it is combined well.

Using a dough hook, knead -- adding as much of the remaining 1 cup flour as necessary -- for about 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Form the dough into a ball, transfer it to a well-buttered large bowl, and turn it to coat it with the butter. Let the dough rise, covered in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until it is doubled.

Turn the dough out onto your counter, divide it into 24 pieces, and form each piece into a ball. Place the balls onto a buttered sheet pan and let rise, covered with a kitchen towel, in a warm place for about 45 minutes or until they are almost double in size.

Brush the rolls with the egg wash and bake them in the middle of a preheated 350° oven for 35 to 45 minutes or until they are golden brown.

I think this will be the new go-to version, although I think I'll go all bread flour, next time just to see how they come out.

In any event, they're easy to make - and make great sandwich rolls!

I may have to make these a bit more often...


Perfect Panettone

How this came out as perfect as can be will always be one of life's great mysteries...

For the last two years, I've actually made a pretty darned good panettone. The previous years - not so good.

Using the same recipe each time, I kinda figured out what I was doing wrong - usually not allowing it to proof properly or refusing to believe it really is a fairly wet, sticky dough and adding too much flour.

This year, I started off as always, but when I mixed the flour with the milk, it kinda lumped together. It was like a mixing bowl of orzo.

I considered tossing it and starting over, but decided to go for it. I added the eggs - too quickly, I'm sure - and I ended up with a lumpy wet mass. At this point, I should add that I had six eggs in the carton and added all six. Not a smart move.

Knowing it was too loose, I started adding more flour by the tablespoon. I knew I needed a sticky dough, so I set the timer for 10 minutes and walked away - letting the mixer run,.  came back to a pretty decent looking dough - lumps gone.

Time to start adding the butter.

Even though the butter had been out for several hours, it wasn't quite as soft as it should have been. "Room Temperature" is a subjective term - ours is probably colder than many. Anyway... I started adding the butter and it took forever for it to mix in. Where the recipe states "Total mixing time will be about 10 minutes – maybe a bit more." it definitely took more - it was easily 20 minutes of non-stop mixing.

30 minutes of pretty much non-stop mixing. It was silky and satiny.

I scraped it into a bowl, added a lid, and into the refrigerator it went. The following morning I followed the instructions for adding the fruit and rolling it into a ball and placing it in the buttered panettone paper mold. (I placed the paper mold into a 7" springform pan for added support.)

I then let it rise for a full three hours at 95°F on the proofing setting of our oven. I then pulled it out, heated the oven to 350°F, and into the oven it went. The result was perfection!



  • 300gr mixed dried fruits (currants, raisins, cranberries, candied lemon and orange peel, dried cherries, or any combination)
  • 6 tablespoons brandy


  • 1 1/2 tbsp rapid-rise yeast
  • 5 ounces 98°F milk
  • 50gr (1/4 cup) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp Fiori Di Sicilia extract
  • 500gr (4 cups) bread flour
  • 5gr salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • 255gr unsalted butter, at room temperature

Place dried fruits in bowl, add liquor, cover and keep at room temp overnight.

Mix sugar with barely warm milk. Add yeast and set aside.

Mix flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add yeast mixture and mix to combine.

Add the eggs. Mix on medium speed until the dough begins to smooth out.

Cut the softened butter into 1 tbsp chunks and add the butter a few pieces at a time, mixing it in fully before adding more. Total mixing time will be about 10 minutes – maybe a bit more. It should be glossy and satiny. It will be sticky.

Butter a large bowl and scrape dough into it. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The following morning, strain the soaking fruit.

Place dough on a lightly floured counter and spread out into a rectangular shape.

Place half of the fruit onto half of the spread-out dough. Fold the dough over the fruit and fold over, again. Pat out, again, add the remaining fruit, fold several times and then form into a ball.

Butter a 7″ panettone mold or paper.

Add the dough ball, lightly cover, and allow to rise for about 3 hours – or until the dough is rising above the rim.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 300° F and bake for an additional 45 to 55 minutes.

Cool completely before slicing.


The baking gods were definitely watching over me on this one.