Finally Friday!


We’re going Italian today!  It’s hard to beat great Italian food.  I’m one of those make it from scratch, never use sauce out of a jar, well, almost never, kind of cooks.  This is one of my favorite “comfort” meals.  We all need one now and then!

Ice Cold Peroni Beer

Pan Fried Ravioli with Sicilian Dipping Sauce

Pork Chops Marsala

Broccoli Rapini

Angel Hair Pasta

Fresh Plum Tart




When I eat Japanese food I like to drink Kirin, Chinese calls for TsingTao, soooooo, Italian has to have Peroni!  I’m not a big beer drinker, but there are certain foods that just cry out for the crisp, cold flavor of beer.  Peroni is the perfect accompaniment to today’s appetizer!

fried ravioli


Pan Fried Ravioli with Sicilian Dipping Sauce

These are super easy to make and they always get applause.  Be sure to drain the ravioli well on paper toweling before serving.

1 package wonton wrappers

1 cup low fat ricotta cheese

1/4 chopped, fresh basil

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1 clove garlic, finely minced

Mix the cheeses and herbs together.  Take one wrapper, top with a spoonful of cheese mixture and then with another wrapper.  Moisten the edges and crimp with a pastry wheel if you desire.  Heat 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil in a small saute pan and add “ravioli”, one at a time, until golden brown on both sides.  Sprinkle the finished ravioli’s with parmesan cheese and garnish with a fresh basil sprig.

Sicilian Dipping Sauce

1 cup finely chopped, plum tomatoes

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/4 fresh basil leaves, chopped

Sea salt to taste

1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Mix all ingredients and let stand at room temperature for up to one hour.  Serve in a bowl on a platter surrounded with the ravioli.

Chef Chuck's Italian Pan Fried Pork Chops03

Photo by Chef Chuck

Pork Chops Marsala

4 bone in pork chops

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 shallot, finely chopped

1/4 cup marsala wine

1/4 cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons capers

1/4 cup fresh sage leaves

1 tablespoon raw sugar

sea salt and pepper to taste

Salt and pepper the chops.  Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan.  Add the chops and brown on both sides, about three minutes each.  Remove the chops and add the marsala to the pan, then the garlic and shallot.  Place the chops back in the pan and add the chicken broth.  Cover and simmer for 1/2 hour.  Remove the cover and sprinkle the chops with the raw sugar, spooning the sauce over them and allowing to simmer on very low heat for another five minutes.  Add the capers and sage leaves to the sauce.  Serve with the pasta, spooning plenty of sauce over both.


Broccoli Rapini

Some say this is an acquired, but I find myself craving it almost anytime.  Broccoli Rapini has a slightly bitter taste.  You’ll want to find it in peak season, usually the end of winter to beginning of spring.  Wash it well and chop the leaves and part of the stem.  Saute the greens in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until tender, about 10 minutes on low heat.  Add two cloves of garlic, thinly sliced, and saute for two more minutes.  Season with sea salt and serve.  Note:  This is delicious as a light lunch served with Sicilian Salsa and good crusty bread…..and a Peroni, of course!

Fresh Plum Tart

I always give credit where credit is due.  Ina Garten always manages to provide some of my best recipes.  AND, you can order the book if you want!  Delicious!

Photo: James Merrell

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), diced
1 egg yolk
2 pounds firm, ripe Italian prune plums, pitted and quartered lengthwise

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the flour, walnuts, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and the egg yolk. Mix, either by hand or with an electric mixer, until crumbly.

Press 1 1/2 cups of the crumb mixture in an even layer into the bottom of a 9 1/2-inch springform or tart pan. Arrange the plums in the pan, skin-side down, to form a flower pattern; begin at the outside and work your way in.

Sprinkle the rest of the crumb mixture evenly over the plums. Bake the tart for 40 to 50 minutes, or until it’s lightly browned and the plum juices are bubbling. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and transfer the tart to a flat plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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