Cacio e Pepe

Photo Francine Zaslow

Cacio e pepe is a pasta dish from modern Roman cuisine. Cacio e pepe means “cheese and pepper” in several central Italian dialects. The ingredients of the dish are simple: black pepper, grated Pecorino Romano cheese,(some recipes mix in some Parmesan cheese) and spaghetti.


         3 to 4 ounces of uncooked bronze thick pasta

         2 tablespoons good quality, coarsely ground black pepper such as                                  Tellicherry

         1 ½ cups freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese with a Microplane, plus more for garnish 


Boil the pasta in half the amount of salted water you would regular use. Cook, al dente, 2 minutes less than the package directions. Drain reserving the water. 

A few minutes before the time is up for cooking the pasta, add the freshly ground pepper to a non-stick skillet. Heat on high for several second, shack the pan until you smell the aroma of the roasted pepper. Then add one ladle of the pasta water to the pan. The starch in the water helps prevents lumps in the sauce.

Constantly stir the liquid until it had reduced by half and turn heat to low.

Put the cheese in a small bowl, stir in a half a ladle of the pasta water, beat with a whisk, to make a creamy thick sauce. Add more water if necessary.

Turn the heat to high on the pepper, add the pasta and the pecorino cream sauce, 

Quickly toss and stir gently to combine the two. Add more pasta water and continue mixing to combine. When the pasta is cooked and the creamy sauce had thickened slightly, the Cacio e pepe is ready, Divide between two warm bowls, sprinkle with more fresh black pepper and pecorino cheese.


Photo Francine Zaslow

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

            1 ¼ ground pork

            ¼ cup breadcrumbs

            ¼ cup whole milk

            1 tablespoon fresh parsley

            1 small onion, minced and sauteed in 1 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. 

Apple Cranberry Crisp

When I was developing this recipe. I suggested, during the fall, using Cortland apples for this crisp because they hold they maintain their whiteness and hold their shape. Later in the season Baldwin and Northern Spy are available and are great for baking. During the winter months, use Granny Smith apples. But most of these apples can be found year- round in the produce section of your local grocery store.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

            4 cups tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced

            ½ cup chopped cranberries 

¼ cup light packed brown sugar 

            1 tablespoon cornstarch

            ¼ cup apple cider

 Generously butter a 6 x 10 x 2-inch baking dish.

In a medium bowl, toss the apples, sugar and cornstarch and mix well. 

For the topping

            ½ cup all purpose baking mix

            ½ cup packed light brown sugar         

            4 tablespoons salted butter      

            1 tablespoon cinnamon 

            ½ cup chopped pecans 

Lightly work the above ingredients except the nuts with a pastry blender or rub in with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Then mix in the nuts and set aside.  

Place the apple mixture in the baking dish and distribute the crumble topping evenly over the apples and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until top is light brown. Serve warm with cinnamon Ice Cream. 

Serves 4 to 6


I once learned to make this bread from my dear friend Mufalda (Muffy Maioline. The way she cooked was typical of the way the Italian women in the village of Sagamore cooked. Muffy could not tell me the amounts of the ingredients she was using so to record this recipe, I had to measure everything. In her mind, there was no question as to the amounts she was using. She created the bread through instinct and intuition. Muffy passed away at age ninety eight.

Ingredients in Bruzadella
Photo Francine Zaslow


         4 cups all-purpose flour

         2 tablespoons baking powder

         1- cup sugar

         1/8 teaspoon salt

         ¼- pound (1 stick) butter, cut in small pieces

         1 cup raisins, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes

         4 eggs, slightly beaten

         1 ½- ounces whiskey

         1 teaspoon lemon extract

         1 tablespoon vanilla

         ¼- cup milk

         ½- cup savor or mincemeat 

         1 egg

         2 tablespoon milk

         2 teaspoons sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 15-inch pizza pan or flat pan with sides.  In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.  With your fingers work the pieces of butter into the flour mixture until granular in texture.  Then turn the mixture onto a work surface and make a well in the center.  Put the eggs, raisins, whiskey, lemon extract, vanilla and milk in the center.  With a fork or with your fingertips, combine the liquid mixture with the flour until the ingredients are well incorporated and you can form a ball.  Do not knead.

Anchovy Pasta sauce

This is a tasty twist on an old classic, pasta served tossed with an anchovy sauce.  The difference is that it is partially cooked the pasta and then finish cooking it in the sauce over high heat, making a very rich and intense dish.  Don’t worry about the amount of pasta water you’re adding to the sauce. It will reduce as it cooks and helps bind the sauce.


            ¼ cup olive oil

            1 (2 ounce) can anchovies packed in olive oil, undrained

            1 to 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

            ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

            2 tablespoons tomato paste

            ½ cup dry white wine

3 tablespoons drained capers in brine (or capers in salt, rinsed and drained)

½ heaping cup chopped Italian parsley

1 pound linguine

Zest of 1 lemon, grated 

Salt (for cooking linguine)


Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a deep, heavy skillet large enough to hold the cooked pasta (about 12 inches in diameter). Add the anchovies, garlic, and red pepper and sauté gently, stirring often, until the garlic turns golden.  Immediately dissolve the tomato paste in the wine and stir into the mixture.  Stir in the capers and about 1/3 cup of the parsley, reserving the rest.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce, uncovered, for about 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring 5- quarts water to a boil in a large (6- to 8-quart) saucepan.  Add the lemon zest while it heats.  When the water boils, add the salt, drop in the linguini and cook just until it has wilted, about 1 minute. It will still be close to raw.  Add 3 to 4 ladleful of the linguine cooking water to the anchovy sauce. Drain the linguine in a colander and add it to the sauce in the skillet, toss or stir with two wooden spoons or a pasta fork to distribute the contents, turn up the heat to high and finish cooking the pasta in the sauce, uncovered, for about 8 minutes.  The liquid will reduce and the pasta will be al dente.  To serve, turn into four large heated bowls and sprinkle with the reserved chopped parsley. Serves 4.

Sally’s Pumpkin Pie

This pie recipe was given to me by my friend Sally Darr former chef, the famous La Tulipe restaurant in New York City. The pie plate is one made by Frederique Poulain, 

Classic Pumpkin Pie
Sally’s Pumpkin Pie

For the pie crust:

           1 cup all-purpose flour

           1/2 teaspoon salt

           1 teaspoon sugar

           1 stick unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into small pieces

           3 to 4 tablespoons of ice water


In the bowl of a food processor. Combine flour, salt, and sugar.

Add butter and process until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, about 10 seconds.

With the machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube.

Pulse until dough holds together without being wet. It should look crumbly.

Empty dough onto a flowered surface and shape it into a round-flat disc.

Wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour.

When ready to use, place dough on a lightly floured

surface, roll the dough out to a 12- inch circle and be about 1/8–inch thick and place it onto 

a 9-inch pie plate. 

Gently unflood and press down to line the pie dish with the dough. Freeze until ready to bake.  

Place a piece of foil in the bottom of the crust and fill with beans.

Bake crust at 400- degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, remove from the oven take out the foil and beans. Return crust to oven until light brown.

For the filling:


           3 eggs

           ¼ cup brown sugar

           ¼ cup regular sugar

           ¼ dup Kyero syrup

           2-3 tablespoons Molasses

           1ts cinnamon

           Pinch of salt

           Pinch ground cloves

           2-3 teaspoons ground ginger

           One 12 ounce can of pumpkin puree

           1 ½ cups cream (1 cup heavy ½ cup light milk)


In a bowl, beat the eggs, sugars, Kyero cinnamon, salt, cloves, ginger 

Add the pumpkin and cream.

Pour into pie shell. 

Put the pie in the 400-degree oven immediately reduce

heat to 325. Bake 30 to 40 minutes until set.

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