Italian

Black truffle carbonara spaghetti

Truffles are extravagant. These are not the balls of chocolate but the funghi that grow on the roots of trees and require a reverse mortgage to purchase. When truffles are shaved onto a dish, no matter what's on it, the plate is transfigured from something ordinary to something celestial. Eggs and truffles are a naturally wonderful [...]

Sautéed Geoduck, Italian Fra Diavolo style

The geoduck is an astonishing two-for-one special! There's a distinct clam trunk and body. Its trunk was created to be sashimi. This is the best way to experience the large clam's remarkable crisp texture and salty yet sweet oceanic taste. The body, however, was not created to be eaten for one perfect purpose. I have heard the geoduck body is [...]

Cherry tomato and ricotta salata crostini

Fluffy, powdered peaks of snow, perched on rolling red hillsides, with the taste of pure sunshine. The simplest of recipes, with much care, can result in the profound. This is one of my favorite crostini's (sliced toast with toppings, Italian style). While it is best served outdoors on a cloudless, warm afternoon, it is also [...]

Quick lobster fra diavolo, stir-fry style

The devil made me do it, and it was glorious. Lobster fra diavolo, a messiah of a recipe. Lobster, the prodigal ingredient that in the last 100 years gone from prisoner food to haute cuisine. More often than not, I find lobster bland and boring. Unless accompanied with enough butter to make Paula Dean blush, [...]

Black Perigord truffle pasta, simple and elegant

The black Perigord truffle was made funghi flesh, and it dwelt among us. Ding dong. Make way and open the door, as royalty does not deserve to wait. Truffles, particularly the famous black Perigord and white Alba, personify luxury. They are rare and primarily found only in the wild, tucked underneath European species of oak [...]

Broccoli pesto farfalle (bow-tie pasta)

Pounded and blended herbs, sharp hard cheese, garlic, and olive oil - a tapestry of flavors and a foundation for a fountain of imagination, if you are liberal enough to break away from Italian culinary tradition. Pesto. Part sauce, part spread, part "I can put this on anything and it'd be rocking", it is the [...]

Sweet and sour balsamic and red wine vinegar braised chicken

Chicken - bland, boring, dry, and pedestrian. That sounds like someone I used to know...Times, they are a-changing. Of course chicken sucks when it is cooked inappropriately. So we have to cook it appropriately and in ways that are exciting yet accentuating of its natural essence. This is one such recipe where braised chicken shines [...]

Broccoli pesto crostini

I'm sorry to do this to you pesto. You are not only the pride and joy of Genoa, but you are the one of the world's favorite sauces/pastes. Your versatility is legion and can make mustard jealous in some circles. You are many great things, but one such thing you are not is a super [...]

Old Bay crab pasta with creamy tomato sauce

Crab cakes and football, that's what Maryland does! Growing up close to the Chesapeake, we grew up enjoying live blue crabs and of course, covered them Old Bay Seasoning. The elixir of life of Baltimore and the delight of any finger licker. This crab pasta dish is an Italian homage to my blue crab plucking [...]

Sicilian inspired chicken meatballs in bell pepper tomato sauce

Chicken meatballs. I once thought these were sacrilegious.  Too healthy, lean and dry, and worst off, untraditional. My thinking of food, thankfully, continues to evolve. And if you're a current believer that chicken meatballs are second-rate to beef/pork meatballs, I hope this recipe changes your mind. This recipe for chicken meatballs makes sure the meatballs [...]

Grape tomato cacio e pepe, a Roman pasta classic twist

Classics, with a twist. This statement certainly turns heads. Either you embrace the idea of modifying a tried and true dish or you proclaim heresy and admonish those individuals that go tempering with tradition. I straddle both sides of the coin. Cacio e pepe is one of Rome's greatest pastas. Roman food is simplicity at its [...]

Spaghetti with bottarga tomato sauce (dried fish roe)

Impress your dinner guests at your next Mediterranean themed event by serving them bottarga. To those that know, it is both a delicacy and is renown as the poor man's caviar. Bottarga is pressed dried eggs of either a tuna or grey mullet. The roe sack is removed from the fish, salted and sun-dried for a couple [...]

Ricotta cheese spread with honey, thyme and orange

Whenever I have friends over for dinner, a cheese plate of some variety has to be served. Typically, my adoration for fresh and raw ricotta cheese is on display. I am a ricotta cheese advocate. Ultimately, ricotta cheese is crafted by the byproduct of the cheese-making process. It basically makes use of the left-over materials made [...]

Seared duck breasts and legs with balsamic vinegar agrodolce

Whenever duck is on the table, regardless of the occasion, the meal feels grand yet homey at the same time. The creature's sovereign elegance is personified in mystical French dishes, such as pressed duck or any duck dish at La Tour d'Argent. Yet, this same supreme duck is found across countryside dinner tables with families [...]

Tomato and Onion with Gorgonzola Dressing, a Steakhouse Classic

Tomato, Onion and Gorgonzola. This is the King of Salads and one of my favorite dishes. I fell in love with this dish at Spark's, the famous (and my favorite) steakhouse in New York City. For me, this is the epitome of what an appetizer should be before a huge big piece of meat. The fresh sunshine [...]

Pizzelle cookie wonderland, Italian holiday treats

When Christmas or Easter come around, there are always pizzelles in my mom's kitchen. This is another Italian tradition to lives on. Pizzelle are simple sugar waffle cookies that pack a punch. The waffle cookie is a straight-forward mixture of eggs, sugar, and flour, but spiced up with vanilla, lemon and star anise. Pizzelles are [...]

Panettone french toast, a holiday morning breakfast treat

In an Italian household, Christmas and the Holiday Season just does not feel like home without Panettone, the cake bread of luxury. When the panettone is unveiled, exuberance rings forth. Surely, these cheers are not broadcasted because of everyone's affinity for the panettone's taste. Quite honestly, people tend to find faults with at least one [...]

Prosciutto spicy salmon rolls, Italian sushi

Italy and Japan collide in this East meets West fusion sushi roll. I love seaweed, but who ever made the rule that all sushi rolls must use dried seaweed? This twist on the standard spicy salmon roll is a fun and eccentric spin on the classic. It replaces the tried and true, dried seaweed, with [...]

Taco Dip Recipe, Italian Mexican Style

Cinco de Mayo has come and gone, but the spirit lives on. Tequila, Tex Mex, bad decisions - always a good call. This year, I used Jaime Dean's taco dip recipe as an inspiration. The notion of dipping corn chips into a concoction that mimics a cheesy taco is simply amazing. I had to spin [...]

Nigel’s Meat ‘n Greet: This week, Spicy Broccoli Rabe

Granted, I recognize the irony that the inaugural posting for Meat ‘n Greet is, in fact, not about meat at all, but instead about a rather uncommon vegetable. But that said, while my culinary thoughts tend to drift toward anything that can be grilled, barbequed or cured, I think the occasional departure to look at [...]