From the category archives:


A million years ago I had the pleasure of living in Cortona, Italy. A picturesque Tuscany town way up in the hills. As an art student (well for that year anyway) the simple upended nature of a town older than Rome perched almost sideways on a mountain was astounding. Just beyond what you imagine Tuscany.

But being me, my favorite thing was a breakfast sandwich made of focaccia with garlic, rosemary and olives with a thin rolled up omelet and house made mayonnaise tucked inside. Yes, Saint Francis lived there; never saw his room. I never did draw a sunrise or even bother to photograph one, but I would get out of bed to get one of these treasures. At about 6:30 AM I would climb a few thousand steps down to a small bakery that sold these little sandwiches wrapped in butcher’s paper. By 7:00, they would be gone. The bells for the monks would go off at 6:00; If you did not get up, you did not get one.

I did need to get up. I needed to get back up to the convent of Santa Margherita before school to start the sauces and prep the kitchen for the chefs. 4 millimetri a cubetti padrone? Si! Well my Italian sucks, but I did learn to cook.

Anyway, I never liked to get up early. But this, this was about the same as the Sistine Chapel. Artistry. From a bakery several hundred years old.  Magic.

Ok, it’s out and the kids are attacking. One walked off with a letter sized chunk. I can’t wait for breakfast. Go make this now!


6 tablespoons olive oil divided
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 heaping tablespoon yeast
½ teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan
½ cup Kalamata olives roughly chopped
Sea salt or Kosher salt optional as a topping.


Combine yeast, sugar and warm water in your mixing bowl and let stand 15 minutes

Add the flour and salt and mix for about 60 seconds with an electric mixer with a dough hook. Add a bit more water if the mix becomes a thick dough. The mix should be somewhat runny and sticky.

Add the rosemary, garlic and olives and mix until blended in for about 15 to 30 seconds

Drizzle 3 tablespoons olive oil in a 9 x 13 sheet pan. Make sure to coat the sides and let the rest settle on the bottom.

Spread the dough in the pan and let it rise at room temperature for 60 minutes. Well at least 60 minutes, a little more won’t hurt.

Drizzle the dough with the last half of the olive oil. Use your fingers to poke down the dough (see the picture below). Let it rest for 15 minutes.
If you plan to eat the loaf warm and fresh, sprinkle the top with the salt. If you plan on cooling the loaf for the next day, skip this step. The salt will make then to soggy overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Bake the bread until for 25 minutes. Turn the oven up to 425 and bake another 5 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and wait 5 minutes. You can turn it out on a rack to cool, or better just set it on a cutting board and eat it hot.


The reason for meatballs in red sauce is not to top spaghetti. The real reason is the meatball sub. Growing up, I didn’t have many of these and I am not sure why. It was more likely that we would have meatloaf sandwiches. Mom made great meatballs but I guess my brother made sure that there was none left.

So this is a recipe as a work in progress. Over time, my mom’s recipe became closer to my Italian sausage recipe. And I adopted my sister-in-laws idea of finishing them in the sauce at a low temp for a few hours. I suppose that it will change further as my tastes change. But it has been stable for two years. That means I only messed with it for 30 years.

This will make a lot, but it will make two meals. Sunday spaghetti night and subs on Monday.

And as always, I am cooking for 4, but one is a fourteen-year-old athlete so he eats like two. It’s his favorite sub. I couldn’t let him think that Subway was good.


1 LB Ground beef – 85/15 fat content
1 LB Ground pork
2 Eggs
½ Cup Milk
½ Cup breadcrumbs
¾ Cup grated parmesan cheese
1 Teaspoon red chili flakes
1 Teaspoon smoked paprika
1 Teaspoon oregano
1 Teaspoon thyme
1 Teaspoon black pepper
1 Teaspoon salt
½ Cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Batches of marinara plus 1 cup of red wine


In a large mixing bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, milk and spices and salt and mix. Let it rest for 15 minutes.
Whisk in the eggs.

Whisk in the cheese and parsley.
Add the pork and beef.

Mix this by hand until combined. Both hands. In the bowl.

Cover a baking pan with either nonstick tinfoil or parchment paper.
(Or be prepared to scrub a pan).
Preheat oven to 350.

Roll the mixture into roughly 2-inch balls.
Place about ½ inch apart on the pan.
Start the tomato sauce.

Bake the meatballs for 30 minutes.

Place the baked meatballs in the sauce and lower the heat on the sauce to just below a simmer.
Cook for at least two hours – less would be OK but the more time the more tender the meatballs. I usually make this over lunch and let them cook until dinner.

At this point you could just eat them out of the pot. But the way we do it is like I said, Sunday dinner follow by meatball subs.



Grilled Rueben with a Hot and Crispy Potato Salad

Thumbnail image for Grilled Rueben with a Hot and Crispy Potato Salad March 21, 2013

Okay, it’s the third day after Saint Patrick’s day and what are you going to do with the leftovers from the boiled dinner? Especially the vegetables. How about a grilled rueben with a hot and crispy potato salad? The star here is the potato salad. And this is good stuff. Kid approved stuff. Potato crack. […]

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