Category Archives: Sides

Loraine’s Stuffed Artickokes

Loraine’s Stuffed Artichokes

The last time we were in Florida, our good friends Paulie and Loraine who live there, met us at our hotel. Loraine brought us a snack to pick on at the beach – stuffed artichokes. They were delicious and hit the spot. Here’s her recipe.Loraine's Stuffed Artichokes
  • Plain breadcrumbs (about two cups)
  • A few cloves of garlic (more or less depending on your taste)
  • A little salt
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • Locatelli Romano cheese (about a cup or more depending on your taste)
  • Olive Oil (not extra virgin)
  • 2 or 3 artichokes depending on size
Artichokes – Cut the stem off – cut the top off – cut the leaves in steps – different levels for easier stuffing.Loraine's Stuffed Artichokes
Boil them for about 10 minutes to make them pliant.
Stuffing – Mix all together in a bowl – drizzle with the olive oil so it’s not too dry – not too wet.Loraine's Stuffed ArtichokesStuff the artichokes and then put them back in the pot you boiled them in – adding a little bit of the stuffing and add some olive oil. Sprinkle a little water over the stuffed artichokes to make sure they are moist. Cover and steam until the leaves pull off easily – keep watching to see if more water needs to be added.
After cooked- put them in a cake pan (round or square) – sprinkle with more Locatelli Romano cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes!Loraine's Stuffed Artichokes

ENJOY!Loraine's Stuffed Artichokes

Nicki, Loraine and Bridget

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Latkes for Chanukah

Latkes for Chanukah

If you’ve been following my blog you know that I’m Italian-American and most often post Italian recipes. But not this time. I grew up in New York and specifically on the Lower East Side so that means I grew up with Jewish food. Latkes have always been one of my favorites and my grandmother used to make them. If you think about it, a Jewish latke isn’t very different than an Italian  potato and egg frittata.
My father’s mother, Amalia came to America from Italy in the early 1880s as a young teenager. Her family settled on Prince Street in what was to become Little Italy but was then a mix of Irish, Jewish and Italian immigrants. Her first job was in a nearby Jewish garment factory and being surrounded by girls and women speaking nothing but Yiddish, that was the first language she learned in America. English came later.


My Aunt Sis told me that once when she was shopping with her mother, she saw a coat she liked. Grandma said it cost too much and started to leave the store.
One of the shopkeepers told the other in Yiddish, “These Italian mothers always give in to their kids. She’ll be back for the coat.”
My grandmother turned to him and said in impeccable Yiddish, “It’s too expensive but I might buy it if we could negotiate a better price.” The surprised shopkeeper did just that.
I remember family dinners at her apartment on Prince Street and there were often some of her garment worker friends invited. Grandma spoke perfect English and Italian and it was always fun for us grandchildren to hear her conversing with her old friends in Yiddish.
I think I’ve figured out the Latke recipe she used although it’s possible she fried them in olive oil. But whatever kind you use, the oil is a reminder during Chanukah of what was burned to keep the eternal flame alive the temple.

Latkes for Chanukah

Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and pepper in a large bowl. Add the beaten eggs and stir until the flour is absorbed. Use the coarse side of a grater to grate the potatoes and onion. Latkes for ChanukahDo this right over a dish towel and then squeeze out and discard as much of the liquid as you can. Add potatoes and onions to the flour and egg mix and blend thoroughly.Latkes for Chanukah

Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan. Put a tablespoon of the potato mix in the pan (I use an ice cream scoop) and flatten it with a spatula. Don’t worry about rough edges – they’ll get crisp and that’s what you want.Latkes for Chanukah
Cook them for about 4-5 minutes and turn them. Then the same on the 2nd side. When they’re done, drain them on a paper tower (or a brown paper bag like Grandma did) and sprinkle with salt. Serve them hot with apple sauce and sour cream. Happy Chanukah!Latkes for Chanukah

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Gladiator Diet

Pollice Verso (With a Turned Thumb) by Jean Leon Gerome, 1872


Gladiator Diet

I guess everyone has heard of the Paleo Diet – that’s what people ate 10,000 years ago. It’s basically meat, nuts, fruit and vegetables. There’s something a little more current, well, from about 2,000 years ago, the Gladiator Diet. It’s what Roman gladiators ate to stay in fighting condition. And surprisingly, it was almost a completely vegetarian diet.

Gladiator Diet

Barley Gruel

Gladiator Diet

Oat and Seed Cakes

No meat and potatoes for these guys. They ate mostly barley, beans and some pasta too, often flavored with fish sauce, trying to put on enough weight to cushion those sword and spear wounds in the arena. That wasn’t enough to strengthen their bones so they drank a sort of “sports drink,” a mix of wood and bone ash to build up calcium. They also drank goats milk and water but no wine. This combination of food and drink made them fit and tough.

String Beans a la Gladiator   (based on what we know they ate and what was commonly available in Rome back then)


  • 1 lb. string beans
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2  chopped onion
  • 4 tbsp gaurm*

*The Romans used a fish sauce called garum. The modern equivalent is colatura di alici.


Boil the string beans for 5 minutes. In another pot sauté the onion in oil until soft, translucent and just beginning to brown. Add the drained, cooked string beans to the onions, add the colatura di alici and about 1/2 cup of the water you boiled the string beans in. Taste for seasoning. Colatura di Alici can be very salty and you may not need any more salt. Simmer for a few minutes and serve.

String Beans a la Gladiator

Some more information on the Gladiator Diet here –



Science Daily

Gladiator Diet

Definitely not part of the Gladiator Diet

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Platanos (plantains)


2 preparation techniques – tostones with green unripened platonos and meduros for yellow/black ripe ones.


Tostones can be served along side meat like potatoes or as a snack like potato chips. They’re made from an unripe platano (plantain). That’s a type of a very hard and starchy green banana.
I learned to make them while hanging out with a Puerto Rican friend in his sister Evelyn’s kitchen. You start by cutting off the two ends and making shallow knife slits in the skin along the length of the platano. The skin is thick and hard and not easy to peal like a regular banana.Platanos plantains
After they’re peeled, cut them into ¾ inch rounds and fry them in light oil like Wesson or Canola. Lightly brown them on both sides and remove them to drain on a paper towel. After they cool a bit, flatten them and fry them again until the edges get crisp. Platanos plantains                                                                          tostonera

Platanos plantains

Some people use a tostonera but whacking them with the bottom of a Coke bottle works just as well for this step. I thought it interesting that Evelyn used a Coke bottle to flatten her tostones and my mother used one to squash olives so she could remove the pits – a cross-cultural improvised kitchen utensil.


Platanos plantains

After the second frying, sprinkle them with salt and serve hot or room temperature.


Platanos plantains

Meduros are made in a similar way but don’t need to be flattened and fried twice. A meduro is a ripened platano. You should buy the ones that are almost black. As they ripen the starch turns to sugar so a meduro is sweet instead of savory like a tostone.
Peel them the same way and cut them into one-inch slices on a bias (diagonally). Fry them on a high heat to brown them, then lower the heat and cook until they soften. They may be sweet but they’re also served along side meat.
Platanos plantains

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Giambotta is a Southern Italian vegetable stew usually made in late summer and takes advantage of whatever vegetables are available. It’s pronounced “jamm-baught.” Everyone makes it a little differently and you can vary the recipe based on what vegetables are ripe.
As I said, everyone makes it differently and my family’s recipe is more different than most. My Aunt Vicki’s mother brought her family’s recipe from Italy in the early 1900s. That version was a little fancier. In addition to the vegetables, she’d add some bite-sized, cubed pieces of mortadella. Back then mortadella wasn’t so easy to find in America but frankfurters were, so she used them instead. If you think about it, they’re not so very different. My family still makes it the same way. It may seem like a strange combination of ingredients but to me, it’s comfort food.

Except for my family’s recipe, Giambotta is typically made without meat. So if you want it vegetarian, leave out the frankfurters.

Lightly brown the potatoes in oil in a pot large enough to hold all of the ingredients. Remove the potatoes. Add the onions and cook until soft and transparent but not brown. Add the pepper slices and cook until soft. Add the zucchini and frankfurters and stir and simmer for a few minutes. 

Then the tomato puree and basil – you might have to add some water if it’s too thick. Return the potatoes, taste for seasoning and simmer covered on low for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are done. Serve it then and it’s even better left-over.

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Eggplant and Squash

Eggplant and Squash – Lots of people say they don’t like eggplant and squash after only having tasted them in their school cafeteria.  If they tried it made with care and the right ingredients they might change their mind.
Eggplant with Mint
Eggplant and SquashThis same recipe works for both eggplant and squash (use zucchini). It’s good on sandwiches or in antipasto. If you leave out the mint and vinegar and do everything else the same you can also serve it on pasta with tomato sauce. This isn’t something you’d see in a restaurant but it’s not uncommon in Napolitano home cooking.
The ingredients are approximate. So don’t worry if you have to add some or have any left over. (if you have left over mint make a mint julep)

– only fresh mint works with this recipe –

Eggplant and Squash

Cut into 1/2  inch rounds. Lightly brown in oil, don’t drain it, and then layer in a container.Eggplant and Squash

Start with some salt, a few pieces of garlic, some mint and a sprinkle of vinegar in a Tupperware container. Then the first layer of eggplant. Between layers of eggplant add a sprinkle of salt, a dash of vinegar, some  mint and a little garlic. When it cools, cover and shake the container so it settles. It should be ready after a couple of days in the fridge. The mint leaves will darken but it will keep refrigerated for a few weeks.

Delicata Squash

Wash, cut off both ends, cut squash lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Use a spoon or melon-baller.

Cut into half round slices – about 3/4 inch. Toss with oil, salt, black pepper, chopped parsley and minced garlic. Make sure it’s coated completely with oil.

Put in a baking pan and cook for 30-35 min. in a 375 degree oven. Turn them after 15 minutes. The skin is edible.

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Skillet Corn Bread

corn bread 1

Skillet Corn Bread


I was in the South often enough to develop an appreciation for corn bread but when I buy it here in New York, it’s usually too crumbly and sweet. Not really bread at all but more like a corn muffin. Ok for breakfast but it doesn’t stand up beside real food. I tried a few recipes but couldn’t quite get what I wanted until I asked my friend Lindsey Prokscha, baker extraordinaire, for some help. She made a few tweaks and this is the result.

Lindsey Prokscha

Skillet Corn Bread (2)


Start by preheating your oven to 450 degrees.

Mix the corn meal, flour, baking powder & soda, salt and sugar. In a separate bowl the whisk egg and buttermilk then mix it with the dry ingredients. Heat the bacon drippings in a 10 inch cast iron skillet until it sizzles, coat skillet, then pour what remains of the bacon fat into the batter and stir it in,

Pour the batter into the hot cast iron skillet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

It should be firm and golden brown on top and pulling away from the sides of the skillet when it’s done.

Cast Iron Pie Pan
Cast Iron Pie Pan

Cornfield photo from The Kitchen Garden

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Escarole, Broccoli & Cardoons

Escarole, Broccoli & Cardoons

Three green recipes –  simple and cheap.


Usually a side dish but it makes a great vegan sandwich. 

escarole (2)Escarole ingredients


Cut of the base of the stem off 2 heads and cut the leaves in half. Soak in sink full of cold water.

Place leaves in a pot, cover with cold water and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large pan with 1 tsp salt, black pepper and garlic. Drain the leaves and add to the pan while they’re still slightly damp. Toss and simmer for a few minutes. Remove it from the pot with a slotted spoon. Drizzle with a little more oil in its serving dish.

escarole sandwich

Broccoli Salad

broccoli salad

Broccoli Salad ingredientsRinse broccoli & trim florets and stems. Boil in a salted water until stems are tender and drain.

Add salt and black pepper, thickly sliced cloves of garlic, oil and lemon juice and toss. Chill and serve.


(This is for Bea)

growing wild

This is a rare edible weed that you seldom find commercially, even at the best markets. Whenever I’ve eaten it, it was only because someone went to a rural area in New Jersey or upstate New York in spring and picked it where it grew celery

It’s a leafy plant that grows close to the ground. The leaves are inedible. It’s the stems that you want. When cleaned they look something like a stalk of celery but don’t attempt to eat them raw. They have to be boiled to soften them with the thicker ones split down the middle to make them all about 1/2 to 3/4 inch width.

Dry them and dip them in an egg wash. Then coat them with bread crumbs seasoned with salt and pepper and maybe a little finely chopped parsley. Fry them until golden brown in olive oil. They are worth the troublefried

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Roasted Peppers

Roasted Peppers

Roasted Red Bell Peppers

Good on sandwiches or in antipasto.

roasted peppers

Roasted Peppers ingredients

Char peppers over a gas burner set on high, turning frequently, until skin is blackened and blistered on all sides. Transfer to a bag or a bowl and cover tightly; let stand 15 minutes.

Rub the skin off peppers with the back edge of a knife (without rinsing), remove and discard cores and seeds. Cut peppers into smaller pieces. Don’t worry about some of the black char remaining on the pieces

In a bowl, gently toss together peppers, oil, parsley, salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving.   You can refrigerate left overs in a jar. Make sure to top it off with oil. Serve at room temperature.

Jalapeno Brochettes

They can be very hot.

jalapeno brochette

Roast jalapenos on an open flame until blackened. Put them in a bag to sweat until cooled. Scrape off most of the blackened skin, slice and remove veins and seeds.

Put them on a piece of bread, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with garlic power and coarse sea salt.


Basilicata Home Fries

Basilacata Home Fries

Basilicata Home Fries

My father’s family came from Laurenzana, a small town in the hills of Basilicata.Basilicata Home Fries Ingredients

Cut the potatoes into 1 inch pieces. Boil in salted water until slightly soft and drain. Fry green pepper in a hot dry pan until it starts to brown. Remove the pepper. Sweat the onions in oil with salt and black pepper then add the potatoes. Sprinkle liberally with powdered red pepper and fry, chopping with spatula until done with brown edges. Return the green peppers.

Basilacata Home Fries a

Basilacata Home Fries b

Basilacata Home Fries c

Left over, this is a good start for Potato and Egg Frittata.