Enjoy Italian Cooking at Home


Oct 2015

Delicata Soup with Pancetta and Chives

Posted by / in Into the Fire Blog, Recipes, WCSH6 /

October is the perfect time of year to stock up on stock. If you do this and load up your freezer with this essential building block, your Thanksgiving will be destined for greatness. Once your freezer is full of rich chicken or turkey or duck or ham stock, you can create memorable soups and sauces. One of my favorite soups to serve at Thanksgiving is Sweet and Smoky Delicata Soup with Pancetta and Chives. We eat Thanksgiving late in the afternoon so this soup, which is served at noon time is always so welcome. It is richly flavored, yet has no butter or cream in it and it is beautiful to present to your guests in a plain white bowl.  Don’t forget to garnish this golden and velvety first course with tiny bits of crispy pancetta and fresh chive.

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Sep 2015

Prune Plum and Pistachio Cake

Posted by / in Into the Fire Blog, Recipes, WCSH6 /

Italian Prune Plums have a unique flavor when eaten raw, but they are most spectacular when baked. That’s when the color becomes brilliant and the fruit becomes jammy and the flavor intensifies. The small egg-shaped purple plums are hard to find in Maine and are only available in my neck of the woods for a few weeks in September. I usually find them at the Farmer’s Market and at the local grocery story. I love to turn them into prune plum sorbet or caramelize them and serve them in prune plum tart. I also love to add them to a simple coffee cake. There is one coffee cake recipe for prune plums that almost everyone knows and loves. You can find it In The Essential New York Times Cookbook. It is Marian Burros’ Purple Plum Torte recipe first published in 1983. The recipe is so simple and so good that many chefs have tweaked it slightly and then called the cake by a different name. Jody Adams, in her book: In the Hands of a Chef added a few twists to the recipe. She marinated the prune plums in brandy and sugar and she added lemon rind to the dough. She also added chopped, toasted walnuts. I like Jody’s enhancements but I wanted to add my own twist and substituted pistachios for walnuts. I think just about any toasted nut will work in this recipe so choose the one that most delights you. I also want to put in a plug for the Goldtouch non-stick spring form pan that I use whenever I make this recipe. The Goldtouch pan (which you can buy at Williams-Sonoma) is sturdy, beautifully made and you will never have to bother prepping the pan with butter and flour.  

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Jun 2015

Crab Cakes for Jackie

Posted by / in Into the Fire Blog, Recipes, WCSH6 /


When the weather gets hot in Maine, I love to eat things from the sea and from my garden. One of my favorite summer meals? Maine crab cakes perched on a pretty, crisp salad, drizzled with honey basil vinaigrette. When WCSH6 anchor Jackie Ward let me know she is moving to San Francisco and would appreciate a good crab recipe, I offered to show her how to make this appetizer or luncheon dish. In Maine, it’s best to use peekytoe crab (the the most delicate variety of all Maine rock or sand crabs). Peekytoe crab is not as meaty as Wild Atlantic Jonah crab or the crab Jackie will find in San Francisco, but she can always substitute Dungeness Crab for Maine Crab. Both work beautifully in this recipe. There is no point in masking the subtle flavor of fresh picked crabmeat so when I make crab cakes, I stick with a few simple ingredients. I am fond of using some fluffy white bread (Standard Baking in Portland makes a killer Pain de Mie )as a bit of filler and I coat my crab in Panko (Japanese bread crumbs) for a little crunch. The glue that holds everything together is a little tartar sauce and some egg. Please remember to let the crab cakes sit quietly in the fridge for an hour. The cold temperature allows the seafood, bread and sauce to marry and congeal and the crab cake then holds together pretty well. I like to pan-fry my crab cakes in organic canola oil for a couple of minutes, flip them, and let them continue cooking until they turn golden brown.

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