Giardiniera – Mixed Vegetable Pickle

This is my version of a mixed vegetable pickle. There are some regions where the vegetables you put in the mix are a very specific combination but, I say add whatever you like the best. This is my preserved vegetable pickle often called Giardiniera in Italian. You can add or omit some chili peppers if you wish to make spicy and it is a combination of vinegar and olive oil, in my case….. lots of GREAT Extra Virgin Olive Oil!! 

You will need:

  • 3 small carrots
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1/3 of a small cauliflower (about 3 cups of florets when they are separated)
  • 150 grams or a handful of green beans
  • 3-4 fresh or dried small onions (I used both)
  • 1 sweet red pepper
  • 125 grams of eggplant cut into strips and salted for at least 30 minutes 
  • 2 chilies – I used a milder Fresno chili which was hot enough for me- you add whatever you prefer!
  • 1/2 small bulb of fennel 
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic sliced thinly
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar (I used champagne vinegar)
  • 15 peppercorns
  • couple of big bay leaves
  • 2 tsp of salt 
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 bottle 500ml of great extra virgin olive oil- I used Casas D Hualdo Organic
  • 3 tsp of dried oregano
  • 3 cloves of garlic -sliced
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • some fennel fronds chopped if you like
  • 100 grams of olives pitted and chopped.
  • 2-3 tbsp of chopped flat Italian parsley (it has better flavor than the curly in my opinion)

Step 1: sterilize 3 x 2 cup preserving jars by washing thoroughly. You can also rinse them with a little vinegar after they are washed. If you have new jars I like to wash them, place them in boiling water for 2 minutes and then rinse with a bit of white vinegar and dry well. 

Note* Once you have filled your jars you can pasteurize them by sealing them well with new lids, wrap the jars in tea towels, place in a lar pot filled just above the jars with water. Let come to a boil and then turn down to a medium low boil for 30 minutes. Then allow to cool in the water bath before removing jars. They can then be stored in the cupboard. Once opened they should be stored in the fridge. 

Step 2: slice or chop all vegetables in chunks or thin slices of a similar size (I like the look of the thinner finer slices but you can chop them in chunks if you like) 

Step 3: in a pot you will add the vinegar, peppercorns, bay leaves, 3 cloves of garlic, salt and water. 

Step 4: in batches you will add the vegetables to cook and soften in the vinegar bath. Then remove with a slotted spoon onto clean towel. Then into a large bowl to dry slightly and cool. 

These are approximate times depending on how you slice your veggies, it could be a bit more or less. 

Carrots, celery and cauliflower 5-7 minutes

Green beans 4 minutes

Peppers, fresh chilies, fennel and onions 3 minutes

Eggplant 2 minutes

Step 5: add about 1/2 cup of the olive oil just to toss all ingredients in the bowl and then you will top off the rest once in the jars. 

Step 6: add the dried oregano, sliced garlic, chili flakes, celery seed, fennel fronds and chopped parsley and toss to combine. 

Step 7: carefully fill the jars, pressing down the ingredients trying not to break them while getting the jars filled. 

Step 8: using a chop stick you can pour over the great oil and move the veggies to let the oil get in all the cracks. Seal and Pasteurize as described in Step # 1. Or you can just store in the fridge and consume within a few days if you don’t wish to preserve.

Once the jar is opened you may wish to top off with a few more tablespoons of vinegar and you can also add a bit more olive oil. 

Any remaining pickle should be stored in the fridge once the jar is opened.

It is natural to have the olive oil solidify when in the fridge so don’t be alarmed. Before eating  leave the jar on the counter for a few minutes and it will go back to it’s liquid state. The cold will not harm the oil. 

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

When I was a kid we used to eat chocolate hazelnut spread (specifically Nutella!) everyday after going to the corner store to buy fresh Italian bread. My friend Kim’s Mom would slice big fat slices of bread and we would slather on the Nutella every afternoon as soon as we got home from school.  My Dad would make crepes (“Palacinka” – which are a Slovak version) and he would sprinkle lemon and sugar or Nutella on them for me and jam on them for him! Of course you can buy spread in the store but, I like my version because I know the quality of ingredients is higher and I know what’s not in them! preservatives.

I was just recently in Milan and Genoa and when in Eataly I found an entire shelf of better quality versions but in most North American places it might be difficult to find anything other than the basic versions. I did find an Organic version in my local grocery story but why not try making your own. It makes a nice gift and can be used in Crepes, on Croissant or even melted and poured over Ice Cream!!

If you want to use a different type of nut or a combination of nuts go ahead !! experiment away!

You will need:

  • 1 cup of hazelnuts  (if you have hazelnut butter you can use that instead)
  • 12 oz of Milk Chocolate (or of course you can make the dark version)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil – I used Bondolio from California
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract (pure never artificial)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup

I made both a milk chocolate and a dark chocolate version.

Step 1: place hazelnuts ( also sometimes called filberts) on a baking sheet and toast for 8 -12 minutes – turn them halfway and be careful to watch they do not burn. Once they come out of the oven place in a clean tea towel (kitchen towel) and try to rub some of the outer husk off- I never get them clean if the hazelnuts are fresh so don’t worry if there is lots left on. I leave the husks and place the somewhat cleaned nuts in the food processor or a good quality blender to make into butter. If you happen to find hazelnut butter you ca use that and skip this step.

 Step 2: I like to line up all my measured ingredients  so that I don’t forget anything. Remember this was a double recipe because I made one in the traditional milk chocolate and the other dark chocolate.

Step 3: I washed a few little jars for my finished spread. Although these are cute I would suggest a plain glass jar so that you can microwave for 10-30 seconds to get the spread more liquid when you want to use it. Because there are not preservatives in the spread it will thicken and harden especially if you keep it in the fridge. You can microwave for a few seconds before spreading which brings it back to is almost liquid consistency. It is essentially a nut butter with chocolate.

 Step 4: you will need to be patient for this step. The nuts will turn into a powder and you should stop the machine every 30 seconds to 1 minute and scrape down the sides until eventually it will turn into a thick butter. This takes about 5 minutes in total.

Step 5: in a heat proof container melt the chocolate in the microwave for 1 minute then stir, melt again for 30 seconds and stir and only if necessary melt for a final 30 seconds.

 Step 6: Mix in a large bowl the nut butter, the melted chocolate, the Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or you can add melted butter) pure vanilla extract, salt, cinnamon and maple syrup.

 Step 7: place in a glass jar (so that you can melt safely when it solidifies. It is not safe to melt things in the microwave in plastic containers.

 This is a better glass jar because there is no metal (you have to remove the metal from the other jars so they are safe to microwave) They are not as pretty but way easier to melt so that the spread becomes like a thick melted chocolate butter.


Baked Jalapeno Poppers

OK! I must admit these were pretty good. They are perfect for a party because they can be made made ahead of time, then just baked until “melty” and delicious!

You will need:

  • 5-6 Jalapenos (this recipe can easily be doubled for larger crowds!)
  • 2 Spring onions (scallions)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic -minced finely
  • 1 tbsp your favorite Bar-B-Q sauce
  • 2 heaping tbsp of cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro (coriander)
  • 3 strips of bacon- cooked well and chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup of cheddar or spicy cheese I used a Habanero cheese!

I found this Habanero cheese which has some pretty nice heat but you can use any sharp cheddar or jack cheese you prefer.

Step 1: If you are sensitive use gloves when handling chilies. Slice Jalapenos in half, lengthwise, then clean out seeds and membranes with a spoon. Place on a foil lined baking sheet.

Step 2: cook bacon and then chop info small dice.

Step 3: chop all ingredients finely and place in a bowl. Reserve a few bacon bits for topping.

Step 4: fill mixture in jalapeno boats and top with some breadcrumbs. Bake in a 425 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes or until peppers are soft and topping is browned.

Finish with a few more bacon bits and serve with a bit of sour cream to cool that heat!!

Fire Roasted Salsa

You can make this salsa anytime! It is a simple salsa made with canned fire roasted tomatoes and a few other ingredients. Get out the food processor and in a few minutes you are done!

You will need:

  • 1/2 -1 fresh jalapeno pepper (ha- la payn-yo! pepper)
  • 1/4 -1/2 white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • a handful of fresh cilantro/coriander
  • 1/2 tsp canned chipotle in adobo sauce
  • 1 fresh lime juiced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste – it needs more salt than you think- so taste!
  • 1 8 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • tortilla chips

Step 1: I add the jalapenos, onion, garlic and cilantro to the food processor first. I do chop most things at least a bit before adding it to the machine. Chop.

Step 2: add the salt and chipotles (you can buy them in a can or a jar typically) they are very hot so start with less and add more if you like.

Step 3: add the lime juice, olive oil, and finally the tomatoes.  Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as necessary. I also like mine with lots of lime.

Serve in a pretty bowl and get the Tequila baby!!

Socca or Farinata -Chickpea pancakes

In the Ligurian region of Italy Farinata is a typical snack and Socca is a street food snack found near the Italian border in Nice. There are slight variations all over and you can make these plain with the basic ingredients or I like them with the addition of lots of pepper, some garlic and even a sprinkle of fresh Parmesano Reggiano on top. They are often made in a wood fired oven and in order to add a bit of smokiness to these homemade versions I have added a bit of cumin.

Perfect with a glass of sparking Prosecco or Rose as they do in France. They are typically served in paper cones to soak up any excess oil.

You will need:

  • 1 cup Chickpea flour (also called garbanzo bean flour)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp good sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tbsp best quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil – I used Viragi from Italy. (lots more to fry with)
  • 1/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 small clove garlic -minced very finely

To finish

  • more salt and pepper
  • a bit of finely zested lemon
  • a few gratings of freshly grated Parmesano Reggiano

Step 1: In a large measuring cup (which makes it easy to pour) add chickpea flour, water, lemon juice, salt, cumin, olive oil, pepper and garlic. Whisk and leave at room temperature for 1-2 hours.

Step 2: Heat oven to broil and make sure rack is close to the top element. I make these in a small regular fry pan (not a non-stick pan or any pan that cannot safely go into the oven) Many people use a large pan or even a round pizza pan. I use the small pan because I want to easily flip the pancake over to get it browned on both sides and the small pan is just easier to control. Heat your pan in the oven or on the stove to get it very hot. Once the pan is very hot I pour 1-2 tbsp best EVOO in the pan and swirl. Pour in an even layer of batter and swirl as if you are making a crepe. The batter should immediately start to sizzle around the edges like when you make Yorkshire Puddings or Popovers.

Step 3: cook under the broiler until the pancake starts to get brown spots – you need to watch these or they will easily burn.

Step 4: Carefully remove your pan from the oven and flip the pancake. Return to the oven and cook until it is as browned as you like. Remove to a cutting board and sprinkle with more salt and pepper, lemon zest and some grated Parm! Cut into pieces and eat while hot!

Step 5: continue making the rest of the batter in the same way.

PS I have also made them in a hot non-stick pan on the stove and although they do taste better in the oven they are much easier to make on the stove. It is like cooking crepes. Always remember to add lots of oil and make sure the pan is very hot before you start to add the oil and batter. 

Pork and Apple Pot Stickers


Pot Stickers are worth the effort because they are just so delicious! If you really don’t want to make your own dough you can buy store bought won ton wrappers and I will show you how to make both ways in this recipe. I gotta say, they are WAY better if you make them all from scratch! You can  freeze them and keep them for your next get together too. Your guests will be dazzled! I can just hear my friend Mary Ann saying “dough is just too much work I will make them from scratch when I retire!!” Come on, try them once and you will be hooked.

You will need:

  • 2 cups of flour – all purpose
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups boiling water

*this makes enough for approx 32 (3 1/2 inch circles)

* or if you don’t want to make the dough you can use store bought won ton wrappers

  • 1 pound or 1/2 kg. of minced pork (you could also use mild Italian sausage, casing removed)
  • 4 small leaves of Savoy cabbage
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 hot chili – I used medium hot
  • 1 scallion/spring onion
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 small handful of cilantro/coriander
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Tamari Soy sauce
  • 1/2 apple – cut into chunks, skin on
  • 1/4 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Dipping Sauce

  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp finely chopped red chili (the strength of heat you like!)
  • 1 tbsp honey

Step 1: start with some good quality minced pork. If you find it difficult to find any you can use some mild Italian sausages instead. I just slit the casing and remove them so you have just the minced meat.

Step 2: in a pot add an inch of water to the bottom and add 4 small leaves of savoy cabbage. My cabbage is a small one and you can use another variety of cabbage if you have it. Cover and cook on high heat for 5 minutes until the leaves are tender and soft.

Step 3: take the onion, garlic, small red chili (as hot as you like- mine is mild/medium hot) Spring onion also called scallion, fresh grated ginger, cilantro, sesame oil, soy sauce, apple, 5 Spice powder and salt into a food processor. Pulse until minced.

Step 4: add the soft cabbage leaves and process again until finely minced and combined.

Step 5: add pork and pulse 4-5 times until combined. Place in a bowl and keep covered in fridge until you are ready to fill your dumplings.

You can get square or round won ton wrappers in the fridge of any grocery store usually.

Step 6: Place a tsp – tbsp of filling in on a few wrappers (they dry out so you must cover the remaining and only do a few at a time. I dip my finger in water and run it along 2 sides of the wrapper then seal with the 2 sides that are dry. You are folding the square to make a triangle.

Place in a floured plate or cookie sheet. Do not let them touch each other to avoid sticking. You can separate them and freeze them at this stage. Once frozen you remove them to a Ziploc Bag for storage until you need them.

Step 7: in a non stick pan (very important!) add a small bit of Olive Oil or other vegetable oil you prefer but, I am using a mild Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Step 8: fry on one side until they get browned slightly, then carefully flip to cook the other side. Once both sides are browned. Add 1/4 cup to the pan (it will spit so be careful!) then immediately cover with a lid. Let them cook for 3-4 minutes will the water evaporates and they eventually start to fry again in the oil.

Make the dipping sauce by combining all ingredients listed under the Dipping sauce above and mixing. The store bought won tons are much more fragile and delicate. They will tear easily and you should avoid filling the wrappers too much so they don’t break.

Step 6: (again! for the homemade dough) Take flour and salt and mix in a bowl.

Step 7: add boiling water 1/4 of a cup at a time. I make a well in the center of the flour and add the water. I then take a fork and start to gather the flour around the crater into the water, mixing as I go.

Step 8: once you have a shaggy dough and it is cooled enough to handle. Knead the dough and gather all remaining flour until you have a smooth dough.

It takes about 5 minutes to knead it until smooth.

Step 9: you can roll the dough out entirely into a flat sheet and take a round cookie cutter or even a drinking glass to cut out 3 1/2 inch circles. I find it easier to just keep dividing the dough in half until I get 32 even balls, then I roll each one. This avoids scraps and re-rolling and cutting. I take the ball of dough and cut it into 2, then each into 2 and so on until you have even pieces.

I flatten each ball of dough with the palm of my hand and easily roll out a circle by rolling and turning, and rolling and turning. If you find this too hard then the cookie cutter method might be the better option. I always roll a few, stuff and roll a few more to avoid drying out.

Step 10: I like to measure out the filling -these are 1 tbsp each.

Step 11: hold the circle of dough in your hand with the filling in the center. Pinch the center to hold in place. Fold a pleat and pinch, going towards one end. I kind of pull towards me, fold, pinch and go to the next one. I make 3 folds on one side, then 3 folds on the next. I am sure you can Google how to make dumplings if you don’t understand my instructions in photos. This dough is very forgiving and easy to work with.

The circles don;t need to be perfect just relatively round. Remember flatten with your palm, roll and turn, roll and turn.

Since you are only pinching and gathering dough on one side it creates a nice dumpling with a flat bottom that can stand up. Place on a floured baking sheet to finish all of them. You can freeze them at this stage or cook them. Don’t let them touch or they will stick.

In a non stick pan add some mild Extra Virgin Olive Oil or other vegetable oil if you must. I let them fry on one flat side until browned.

Then flip to brown on the other side.  Then place on its bottom and immediately add about 1/2 cup of water or broth and cover. Let them steam for 5 minutes until you hear them start to fry in the oil again.


Serve the homemade dumplings while hot with the dipping sauce.

Both ways are good!

Gennaro Contaldo’s Fried Stuffed Gnocchi

This is one of the nicest decadent treats I have had in a long time!! These are gorgeous little puffy pillows that have the perfect contrasting spicy Arrabbiata sauce and some Parmesan shavings on top. This recipe is Gennaro Contaldo’s recipe from You Tube for Stuffed Fried Gnocci, with Arrabbiata Sauce  If you have never seen Gennaro you simply much watch his You Tube videos, he is my favorite. I love his passion and love of good food. I think one of my favorite shows was on BBC Two Greedy Italians with Gennaro and Antonio Carluccio

This recipe is Gennaro’s recipe for the perfect Christmas starter. I think the recipe is just perfect. It takes a bit of time but, so so so worth it!! I promise you. You can also freeze the gnocchi (I tried it last night) and let them come to room temperature before frying them. I do not recommend boiling them because they are stuffed and get heavy. If you make them as he does they are puffy and gorgeous!!

COME ON!! It’s for Christmas, you don’t eat this everyday!! 

You will need:

Gnocchi Dough

  • 1.5 kg (4-5) Baking Potatoes – I used Russet you want dry not waxy potatoes.
  • 2 large egg yolks (save 1 of the egg whites)
  • 15-20 scrapes of whole nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 150 grams 00 flour
  • rice flour for dusting and rolling


  • 150 grams ricotta cheese
  • 50 grams finely grated Parmesano Reggiano cheese
  • 50 grams breadcrumbs
  • 100 smoked mozzarella – torn (I will show you how to make some if you can’t find it)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 10 scrapes of whole nutmeg

Arrabbiata Sauce – ( this is my modified from original recipe for a smaller batch)

  • 85 grams sun dried tomatoes dry (not in oil)
  • 2 tbsp dry oregano
  • 1 tbsp (yes that much!) chili flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 150 ml extra virgin olive oil – I used Pruneti Frantoio from Italy
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 150 ml water -added to blender – to thin out

Gennaro’s original recipe 

  • 300 grams sun dried tomatoes dry (not packed in oil)
  • 1 handful of chili flakes (yes he used that much!!)
  • 1 handful dry oregano
  • 200 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 400 ml of olive oil
  • fresh parsley
  • salt to taste

To finish

  • chopped parsley
  • fried sage leaves
  • more grated Parmesan Cheese
  • bit of salt

Step 1: roast 1.5 kg. (4-5 large) russet potatoes in a 400 degree F oven for at least 1 hour to get potatoes very soft (I rub a bit of olive oil on potatoes)

Step 2: once potatoes are cool enough to handle (don’t wait until they are cold they should still be hot for ricing) peel skins and rice in a potato ricer or food mill. This tool is really the secret to the best mashed potatoes too..It’s like a giant garlic press. You place cooked potatoes in it and squeeze out the little squished pieces that look like rice!

Step 3: add egg yolks (keep 1 egg white for brushing on dough – food glue!), nutmeg, salt and pepper (it takes lots) and flour. Mix lightly with a spatula. I like to fold it like I am incorporating whipped egg whites into something. Just a few turns and then you can mix lightly with your hands before turning out everything from the bowl onto counter. You want to just gather all the flour and create a dough. You do not want to overwork or the gnocchi will become tough. Taste to see if you need more salt and pepper.

Step 4: if you cannot find smoked mozzarella you can make your own! Add some food safe wood chips to a smoker box for the barbecue and light the wood on fire in your outdoor grill. Once the smoke starts going I place the ball of mozzarella on a plate/bowl next to the smoker box. Close the grill lid and let the wood smoke permeate the cheese. It will not melt the cheese if it is just a handful of chips you are burning. I remove the mozzarella after 5 minutes and it is smoky. Gennaro had a really nice charred one in his video!

Step 5: make filling in another bowl. Add ricotta, finely grated Parmesan, smoked mozzarella torn/squished into pieces with your hands, Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and egg yolks. Mix well. It should be on the drier side (like a paste) not runny. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.  You can place in a piping bag or Ziploc bag with one end cut to pipe filling onto potato dough.

Step 6: Divide potato dough into 4. Roll one section into a thick rope (approx 24 inches long and 2 1/2 inches wide) using plenty of rice flour to avoid sticking.

Step 7: press log with heal of your palm to flatten or use a rolling pin.

Step 8: brush with egg white.

Step 9: add a row of filling. My filling was dry enough that I could roll it out with my hands.

Step 10: roll the potato dough over the filling and gently seal and roll to encase with more rice flour.

Step 11: chop into 1 inch pieces or the size you like. Place finished gnocchi on a cookie sheet with lots of rice flour to avoid sticking.

Repeat for the other 3 rolls – this recipe is perfect for 4 rolls of dough and 4 equal rolls of filling.

Making the Sauce

Step 1: in a food processor add sun dried tomatoes and pulse to mince.

Step 2: add minced tomatoes to a saucepan along with chili flakes, oregano, salt, parsley and olive oil. Cook on low heat for 3-4 minutes to soften.

This is my addition Gennaro did not add water. 

Step 3: remove from heat and add to a blender. Add water and blend until becomes a thick chunky sauce. If you need to add a bit more water to get it to the consistency you like feel free. Taste and adjust salt. It will taste spicy but, it will mellow over time and the fried gnocchi go so well with the contrasting spicy sauce.

Fry the gnocchi in hot oil at 350 degrees F if you have a deep fryer this works well.  I  shallow pan fried (oil goes halfway up the gnocchi. I cooked them in good olive oil (cause it is a delicious unrefined oil and yes you can fry with it ) If you have a deep fryer this method is easier because you don’t have to fiddle and turn but, both work fine.

Quickly fry some sage leaves in a bit olive oil.

Serve on a pretty plate or cutting board. Sprinkle with a bit of salt, add some shaved Parmesan and decorate with some fried sage leaves. Dip or top the gnocchi with the sauce and prepare to be amazed!

Big Pete went out of his mind!! told me I could make those anytime I liked!!

Thank you Gennaro!!I love it.

I ate some and froze the rest. If you are cooking from frozen. Take out gnocchi and let come to room temperature making sure they are separated to avoid sticking together before frying.

Do not boil these they get heavy and are not gorgeous and fluffy.

Mushroom Bruschetta

When you have access to some beautiful mushrooms like my favorite chanterelles mushrooms, you must try a simple bruschetta like this one. Some beautiful mushrooms, some good olive oil, garlic and crusty bread and a glass of wine to start your next dinner! You know you want to cook this!

You will need:

  • a pkg or pile of Mushrooms- mine are chanterelles mushrooms expensive but worth it!
  • 3-4 garlic cloves – sliced thin
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • a generous sprinkle of salt and fresh pepper
  • a good glug of great robust extra virgin olive oil – I used Domenica Fiore Monacco
  • a few slices of crusty bread
  • a fine grating of Parmesano Reggiano

Step 1: Look at that pretty oil!! Add a few tbsp of best quality of extra virgin olive oil in a small pan. Add some sliced garlic and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. You could also add a tbsp of butter if you like but, I honestly love the olive oil on it’s own. This is a peppery robust oil perfect for this dish. I used Domenica Fiore from Orvieto in Italy. Cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes.

Step 2: I brush the mushrooms to clean off any dirt and simply tear into pieces.

Step 3: add the mushrooms to the hot oil and strip a few sprigs of thyme and add to the mushrooms. Add a bit more salt and pepper if necessary. You need to taste the mix. I cook for a few minutes and then remove from the heat.

Step 4: toast some hearty bread, rub the top of each piece with a raw peeled garlic clove. Just a few scrapes back and forth should do it. Pour on some more olive oil.

Step 5: top with the mushrooms, a grate of fresh Parmesano Reggiano and pour yourself a nice

glass of wine!


Sticky Orange Brown Sugar Ribs

These are sticky, slightly spicy and sweet. I cook them on the rotisserie of my outdoor grill for most of the way and then finished them in the oven to create a nice sticky lacquer of goodness on the top. If you like ribs you will love these.

You will need:

  • 2 racks of baby back ribs – silver skin on the back removed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 a jalapeno pepper chopped fine (you can add the whole thing if you want it hotter)
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp course salt – like pink Hawaiian Alaea
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • cracked pepper and salt 1/2 tsp of each

Step 1: I always wash and dry the ribs to make sure there are no bits of bone on them and then I remove the silver skin on the back of the ribs. This is a membrane that I simply poke a knife under  then rip the membrane off. If it is too slippery then use a paper towel to grip it. Gross I know!

Step 2: with a knife or a mini processor. Finely mince garlic, a half to a whole fresh jalapeno pepper (depending on how hot you like it) add granulated garlic, ground ginger, chili flakes and salt (I used a course Hawaiian Alaea salt but, you can use whatever you have.)

Step 3: rub the paste over the ribs. Add a sprinkle of your favourite bar-b-q spice rub and let it sit overnight or at least an hour.

Step 4: put on the rotisserie on low for 2 – 2 1/2 hours.  They will baste themselves.

Step 5: place orange juice, star anise, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small pan and cook on low heat until it is reduced and thicker and stickier. This may take 30 minutes.

Remove ribs from rotisserie and slice in one or two rib sections. Brush with glaze every 20 minutes and bake at 325 degrees F for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours until sticky and well cooked. Save a bit of glaze for serving.

serve with additional sticky glaze. You will love them and you will need a bath after!

Halibut Salsa

This is a perfect appetizer for a hot summer evening. Serve it with rice crackers or tortilla chips. The fresh tastes of a salsa and the fresh halibut served like a poke or ceviche. Fresh and delicious they will devour this one!

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup of small diced fresh halibut
  • 1 tomato – chopped into small dice
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped jalapeno
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 ripe avocado – chopped into small dice
  • 1 clove garlic – chopped fine
  • 4 tbsp mild extra virgin olive oil -I used Domaine Oltremonti
  • 1 lime zested and juiced
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: chop halibut and place on paper towel to absorb any additional water while chopping all other ingredients.

Step 2: chop all other ingredients.

Step 3: place fish in a small dish. Zest 1//2 lime and juice entire lime over fish. Drizzle 2 tbsp olive oil and mix. Cover and let stand in fridge for 1 hour to almost cook tender fish in the acid. You can also add some salt here if you want a firmer fish.

Step 4: mix all ingredients together, add extra olive oil and salt and pepper. Adjust as necessary. Serve with chips/crackers and a tequila cocktail.