This is a basic recipe for Italian-American meatballs. You can add other ingredient to it like ground a few pieces of mortadella, a dash of nutmeg for variety.


            1 ½ ground beef

   ½ pound ground pork

            1 egg lightly beaten

            ¼ cup breadcrumbs

            ¼ cup whole milk

            1 tablespoon fresh parsley

            1 small onion, minced and sauteed in1 tablespoon butter until lightly brown

            1 garlic clove, minced

            ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

            Salt and freshly ground pepper

            ¼ cup all- purpose flour

            Olive oil for frying


Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix with your hands until well combined.

Roll small amounts of the meat mixture into small balls, smaller than golf balls.

Roll in the flour and set aside.

In a large skillet heat a small amount of oil over medium heat, when hot, add the meatballs and brown on all sides. 

Put your marinara sauce in a saucepan, heat and arrange the meatballs in the sauce and cook for 1 to 2 hours until done. 

Torta di Riso (Rice Cake)

This recipe, which has many variations, is a dense, rich rice cake best when served with a dollop of slightly sweetened whipped cream. Making this dessert the day before serving allows the flavors to marinate. It can be made either in two 7-inch springform pans that make smaller cakes, or one large pan that takes longer to bake but results in a higher cake

Photo Francine Zaslow


         3 1/2 cups milk

         1 cup (7 ounces) imported Arborio rice

         5 large eggs

         1 1/4 cups sugar

         1 teaspoon almond extract

         1 teaspoon vanilla

         1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

         3/4 cup candied citron, finely diced

         1/2 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped

         2 teaspoons butter

         Bread crumbs for dusting pans



In a heavy 3- to 4-quart saucepan with cover, combine the milk and rice. Bring to a gentle boil over high heat. Turn heat to low, cover tightly and cook about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to check for sticking. The rice should be a little tender but still resistant to the bite. The mixture will also be a little soupy. Turn into a large bowl and allow it to cool.

Butter 2 (7-inch) spring form pans, dust with breadcrumbs and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Beat the eggs and the sugar with an electric beater until well combined. Add the almond extract, vanilla, and lemon zest. Pour egg mixture into the cooled rice and fold in the citron and almonds. 

Divide the mixture between the two prepared spring form pans, and bake 45 to 55 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and pour generous amounts of whisky over the cakes. Allow to cool on a rack, then unmold and serve at room temperature topped with a little whipped cream. One cake serves 6 to 8.

Laura’s Biscotti

My friend Laura Borghi has this recipe down pat.  When ever I am having a special, occasions, Laura makes her biscotti for me. They are great for dipping in wine and a good accompaniment to roasted chestnuts with wine. 

Laura Borghi


            1 cup sugar

            3/4 cup butter

            4 eggs

            1 teaspoon vanilla

            1 ounce bottle anise extract

            4 1/2 cups all purpose flour

            2 teaspoons baking powder

            Pinch of salt

            1/2 cup chopped candied citrus

            1/2 cup blanched almond, toasted and chopped


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  

In a food processor combine the sugar, butter, eggs, water, vanilla and anise extract and blend for 10 to 12 seconds. 

 On a large working surface mix the flour, baking powder and salt together and make a hole in the center.  Empty the ingredients from the processor into the well of the flour. 

Add the candied citrus and almonds.  

With your hands start incorporating the three mixtures together.  Knead for 10 to 12 minutes, until mixture forms dough and it is no longer sticky.  

Shape the dough into 5 long rolls, 4 inches in diameter and 14 inches long. 

Place on a buttered cookie sheet and brush tops of the dough with melted butter.  Bake for 20 minutes in a 325-degree oven.  Remove from oven and slice rolls with a bread knife at 3/4-inch intervals, cutting at a 45-degree angle.  Place the slices on the cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes more.  Remove from oven; let cool.  Store in airtight container. 

 Makes 7 to 8 dozen.

Photo Francine Zaslow

Espresso Gelatina Caffè (Espresso Coffee Jelly)

Photo Francine Zaslow


            (1/4-ounce) package unflavored gelatin

            4 tablespoon sugar

            3 tablespoons cold water

            2 cups fresh brewed espresso coffee


In a small saucepan, combine gelatin, sugar, and cold water. Add 1 cup of the coffee and boil over high heat. Stir until the gelatin and sugar have dissolved. Pour the mixture into a small bowl with remaining coffee, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator until solidified about 6 hours.

Serves 4


What better way to entertain guest for the holidays than an abbondanza Italian antipasto beautiful and artfully presented? It should be pretty to look at. Choose foods with lots of flavors and a variety of color and tastes. Usually this antipasto is not followed by a first course because it is very substantial. It is a dish ment to excite your guests, not to fill them up. A good antipasto will creat a spirit of conviviality, whether served before a meal or at a cocktail party.

Photo Francine Zaslow

Here is a list of suggestions:

Assortment of sliced meats: ruffles of prosciutto, salami and mortadella

Roasted red pepper

Fresh mozzarella balls

Chunks of Parmigiano Reggiano

Cubes of provolone cheese

Assorted olives

Great tomatoes

Toasted slices of small bread or bread sticks is a good accompainment to the ingredients

Easy Tiramisu Dip

Photos Francine Zaslow

Rich and creamy mascarpone, bittersweet cocoa and bold espresso come together in this dessert-style dip. Serve it up with our crispy, airy Savoiardi Ladyfingers for a unique treat that is perfect for snacking or entertaining.


  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 (8-ounce.) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • Chocolate shavings, for garnish (optional)
  • 1 (7.06-ounce) package DeLallo Savoiardi Ladyfingers


Whip mascarpone cheese with sugar and espresso powder until smooth. Fold in whipped topping until combined, reserving some for garnish. Transfer dip to serving bowl and top with remaining whipped topping. Sprinkle with cocoa powder and shaved chocolate.

Serve with Savoiardi Ladyfingers for dipping. 

Panforte di Siena

This Italian recipe dates back to the 13th century and originated in Siena. I have eaten this desert, but never made until I asked Gillian Riley for a quote  for an article I was writing on Italian desserts. I decided to develop this recipe around the ingredients in Gillian’s book, The Oxford Companion to ITALIAN FOODS. This is my version. 

Photos Francine Zaslow

Breadcrumbs for pan:

         1 tablespoon cake flour 

         1 tablespoon fine bread crumbs

         2 tablespoons ground almonds 

Preheat oven to 300° F and adjust oven rack to center position. Brush an 8-inch spring form pan with butter. Cut a dish of parchment paper, or rice paper* to fit pan bottom. Brush paper with butter and fit into pan bottom. In a small bowl, combine cake flour, breadcrumbs, and almonds; evenly scatter over sides and bottom. 

* If using Asian-style rice paper wet the paper to make it easier to cut, then trim it to the correct size with scissors.

For the cake: 

         1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour, divided 

         1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided 

         1/4 teaspoon ground coriander 

         1/8 teaspoon ground clove 

         1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 

         ¼ teaspoon allspice

         1/8 teaspoon black pepper

         ¼ teaspoon cardamom 

         NOTE: Any spices may be used, If you do not like a particular spice, take it out

         1/2 cup honey 

         1/2 cup granulated sugar 

         1/2 cup candied citron, cut into small pieces 

         1/2 cup candied orange peel, cut into small pieces 

         1 cup almonds toasted and coarsely chopped**      

         Powdered (confectioner’s sugar) sugar 

** To toast nuts, preheat oven to 350° F.  Place nuts in a single layer in an ungreased shallow pan or rimmed baking sheet. Bake 5 to 10 minutes, stirring once or twice during toasting to aid in even browning, or until they are golden brown. Remove from oven and remove from pan; let cool. In a small bowl, combine ½- cup cake flour, 1-teaspoon cinnamon, coriander, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, black pepper and cardamom set aside. In another small bowl, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of cake four and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon sugar; set mixture aside and save for the top.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine honey and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until mixture comes to a full boil: remove from heat. Stir in candied fruit and almonds or hazelnuts. Sift in flour mixture; stir until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Smooth top slightly with wet fingers. Sift reserved cinnamon-flour sugar mixture over the top. Place cake in center of middle oven rack. Bake 30 minute or until panforte just starts to simmer around edge of pan. Remove from oven; cool completely on a wire rack.

Loosen from pan by running a small knife around perimeter (if using a Spring form Pan, remove sides of spring form pan). Invert onto a wire rack, letting excess cinnamon flour fall away. Use knife to peel away parchment or rice paper. Invert panforte again and transfer onto a wire rack. Dust top with powdered sugar.

When cool, it can be wrapped in several layers of plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil and stored in an airtight container for several weeks, or frozen for up to six months. Serve at room temperature. Before serving, dust lightly with additional powered sugar. Cut into small wedges to serve. Makes 16 servings. 


Vintage ideas for your next special occasion

The story begins at an estate sale. I was in the kitchen of a turn-of-the-century house here on Cape Cod, checking the selection of outdated, kitschy cookbooks. I found a 9×12 booklet, Knox On-Camera Recipes, published in 1962. The food stylist in me grabbed it. The recipes are old-fashioned and fun, and many have charm.

We are all looking for ideas to brighten this unusual holiday season. Let’s have fun with our food. I will be posting some of these recipes on my blog, along with suggestions. Looking to the past, we can make some of these recipes instead of our old standbys for holiday dining and entertaining. The blog will include appetizers, salads, and many dishes to accompany the main meal. All the food can be made ahead of time. They are easy and foolproof. Here is an opportunity to add a colorful, “picture-perfect” presentation to your table.

Recipes and images from Knox On-Camera Recipes, copyright © 1962. Used with permission of Kraft Foods. For more recipes visit


This recipe was given to me by Marco Pappalardo owner of Il Regno Seffa Pasta, a shop in Bologna where I bought fresh pasta and dolce treats. In researching this recipe, I found it is a dessert typical of the city of Ferrara. The intense chocolate flavor, moist inside, has few ingredients and is easy to make. Perfect served with a whisky flavored whipped cream, a scoop of coffee ice cream, or even a dollop of rich Mascarpone cheese.


         8- ounces bittersweet dark chocolate, finely chopped

         ½ cup butter. (one stick), cut into small pieces

         5 eggs, room temperature, separated

         1 cup of sugar 

         1/3 cup of all-purpose flour 

         Powdered sugar to decorate


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Butter the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan and place a buttered piece of parchment paper in the bottom. Set aside

Dissolve the chocolate in a double boiler, stirring constantly. When the chocolate is melted, stir in the butter until well incorporated. Let the mixture cool slightly.

Place the egg whites in a clean bowl and with an electric hand beater, beat to the soft peaks stage. Add half of the sugar a tablespoon at a time, continue beating until whites are glistened and fluffy. Set aside.

Put the egg yoks in another bowl with the remaining sugar and beat until a light golden mixture is formed. Add the cooled chocolate and mixture a little at a time beating on low speed until well combined.

With a spatula, fold 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the mixture to lighten the batter. Continue folding remaining egg whites, gently mixing from bottom to top. While folding, add the flour, a tablespoon at a time until a uniform mixture is obtained. 

 Pour the batter into the spring form pan and bake for 12 to14 minutes.

NOTE: The timing is very delicate. Start checking the time after 14 minutes. The center should be slightly soft.  

Allow to cool, remove from pan and dust with powdered Serves 6 to 8 

Oysters Rockefeller

The original recipe was created in 1889 at the New Orleans restaurant Antoine’s. It has many variations and interpretations. Here is one that calls for simple ingredients. It’s both delicious and easy to put together.

Photo: Francine Zaslow
Photo: Francine Zaslow


2 dozen shucked oysters on the half shell

1 pound spinach, blanched and chopped

2 tablespoons finely minced shallots

1 stick butter

½ cup dried bread crumbs

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 to 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce

Several drops Tabasco sauce

2 tablespoons Pernod

Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Sauté shallots in 1 tablespoon of the butter until they are translucent and start to brown slightly. Melt remaining butter and set aside.

In a bowl mix, together the shallots, spinach, bread crumbs, cheese, Worcestershire, Tabasco, Pernod, and melted butter. Salt and pepper to taste.

Top each oyster with a spoonful or more of spinach mixture, and place on a cookie sheet. (To hold the oysters upright when baking, place them on crumpled aluminum foil.)

Bake for 7 to 10 minutes until slightly brown.

Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer