Chef Chuck's Tomato Pesto and Pasta

Pesto di Pomodoro e Pasta

A Sicilian pesto made with fresh tomatoes, garden basil, lots of garlic, and almonds. In southern Italy a red pesto made with tomatoes is more popular, unlike northern Italy where most pesto are basil based. If you love garlic this is the recipe to make tonight for your family.

Tomato Pesto and Pasta
1 pound of pasta
3 large ripe tomatoes
6 garlic cloves
1/4 cup almonds
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh basil
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper
goat cheese, crumbled

In a mortar or food processor blend tomatoes, garlic, almonds, salt, pepper and basil. Slowly drizzle in olive oil. Slice red bell peppers thin and saute in a pan with olive oil till softened.
Cook pasta till al dente, pour pesto over pasta, add crumbled goat cheese and place peppers on the side.

Chef Chuck's Chocolate Wafer Biscotti

Chocolate Wafer Biscotti

Sweet, light and crunchy around the edges compliment the creamy chocolate filled inside, making this biscotti sandwich the perfect little treat. Enjoy after dinner, or pair with tea and coffee for mid morning pick-me-up.

Chocolate Wafer Biscotti
14 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
4 egg whites
rind of 1 lemon
1/2 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
nutella for filling

In a mixer on low speed beat butter then add egg whites. When combined add sugar, flour, salt, vanilla and lemon rind. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and a spray of Pam use a pastry bag, form cookies 3 to 4 inches long and 1 inch wide. Bake at 375 degrees for 7 minutes or till edges of cookie are golden. Cool on a rack and use nutella for cookie filling.

Chef Chuck's Fried Mozzarella Sticks

Bastoncini di Mozzarella Fritti

Fried mozzarella sticks, has a buttery crunch flavor plus a saltiness from the proscuitto ham, which makes a perfect appetizer. A quality cheese is a must for this recipe. Serve with your favorite marinara sauce for dipping.

Fried Mozzarella Sticks
thin slices of prosciutto
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
panko breadcrumbs
canola oil for frying

In a small heavy saucepan, heat 3 inches of oil to 350 degrees, meanwhile cut mozzarella to 1/2 inch square sticks and about 3 inches long. Wrap proscuitto around cheese dip in flour, egg, then breadcrumbs. Fry 2 to 3 at a time, until golden brown, be sure to maintain 350 degrees. Place on paper towels and salt.

Chef Chuck's Prosciutto and Melon

Prosciutto e Melone

A refreshing summer snack, proscuitto and melon, is light, and so enjoyable. The mild saltiness of the proscuitto blends well with the sweetness of the melon. Served with fresh mint is a nice compliment.

Proscuitto and Melon

1 ripe melon, honeydew or cantaloupe
1/4 pound thinly slice proscuitto

Select a ripe melon and cut in half, remove seeds and slice 1 inch slices. Square off chunks and wrap with a 1/3 of a slice of proscuitto. Continue wrapping till all melon is ready for serving!

Chef Chuck's Spaghetti al Nero with White Sauce

Spaghetti Neri con Salsa al Formaggio

I selected this black pasta, (Spaghetti al Nero) to showcase my white sauce. A creamy and smooth sauce with imported parmigiano cheese and garlic. The pasta gets it's color from the ink of a cuttlefish, a classy presentation for a quick and inexpensive recipe.

White Sauce
8 tablespoons butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup heavy cream
12 tablespoons parmigiano
cheese, grated
salt to taste
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 pound pasta

In a saucepan melt butter on low and whisk garlic for 30 seconds, be sure not to burn butter. Continue whisking and add heavy cream, cheese, and salt. Whisk for 2 - 3 minutes to thicken sauce. Cook pasta till al dente and pour sauce over pasta, sprinkle parsley on top. Serves 4.

Chef Chuck's Lemon Calamari

Calamari al vapore con il Limone

Steamed calamari is a light summer salad that is so delicate and tasty. A popular dish on the Mediterranean, served hot or cold.

Steamed Lemon Calamari
1 pound calamari, squid
1 lemon

2 bay leafs
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

2 cups water

In a small pot that can fit a steamer, heat 2 cups water, zest of 1 lemon, and 2 bay leafs cover and steam for 20 minutes. Clean and cut the tubes to 1/2" pieces and clean the tentacles. Place squid in steamer and cook on low for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and place in a bowl drizzle olive oil, juice of half a lemon, salt, pepper and parsley over the calamari, enjoy.

Chef Chuck's Pesto Shrimp Pizza

Pesto Gamberetti Pizza

Basil pesto shrimp pizza, is a wonderful way to continue on bringing some more flavors from your garden! With all that basil around we must find great avenues for its use. There are many ways to indulge in pesto. Pesto pizza is one great way, just add a little shrimp for a recipe to enjoy!

Basil Pesto Shrimp Pizza
2 cups fresh basil
3/4 cups parmigiano cheese, grated
1/2 cup pine nuts
2-3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
salt and pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
Toppings: 6 shrimp

Put all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor, slowly drizzle in olive oil till all ingredients are combined.

1 cup warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2-3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Add 1 tablespoon of yeast to warm water and sugar, stir. Let sit for 7 minutes (until foamy). Pour into mixer bowl, set to a medium speed, add olive oil. Mix in one cup of flour at a time with salt until it forms into a ball of dough. Dust a cutting board with flour and knead dough for 3 minutes. Lightly coat a large bowl with olive oil, transfer dough and cover with plastic wrap and layer towel on top. Let rise in a warm area for 1 hour 30 minutes - 2 hours.
Makes 1 pizza.

On a floured board work dough to desired shape, transfer to an oiled baking pan spread pesto evenly on dough and add shrimp. Bake at 475 degrees for 13-15 minutes.

Chef Chuck's Linguine and Garlic

Linguine Aglio Olio e Peperoncino

Pasta, garlic and peppers is a flavorful, quick and easy recipe to make. These ingredients are all homegrown from my garden which makes this dish close to my heart. All the flavors of Italy. I used red nubian garlic, which has a wonderful sweetness to it. I infused the oil with stromboli hot chile peppers, which originited from one of the great islands, any hot pepper will work.

Pasta and Garlic
1/2 pound pasta
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
red hot pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
parmigiano cheese, grated
2 stromboli peppers, whole

In a large pot of heavily salted boiling water, cook pasta of your choice till al dente. During the last minute of cooking the pasta, in a frying pan heat olive oil on medium heat. Add garlic, peppers and pepper flakes to infuse the oil, stir for 30 seconds to 1 minute, be careful not to burn the garlic. Add cooked pasta to oil, season with more red hot pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Grate parmigiano cheese over the dish, serves 2.

Chef Chuck's Grilled Zucchini Panini

Zucchine Panino

My summer panini has crusty Italian bread, garden fresh zucchini, grilled onions, red roasted peppers and a ricotta parmigiana spread. There are countless ways to make a panini I like the garden vegetables and a soft cheese. Ciabatta bread is a great choice for this recipe.

Summer Panini
crusty Italian rolls
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced
red roasted pepper
1 garlic clove

Ricotta Dressing

4 tablespoons ricotta
2 tablespoons parmigiana, grated
2 teaspoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine ricotta dressing ingredients in a bowl set aside. Peel and slice zucchini long ways, brush with olive oil and grill both sides. Brush olive oil on full slices of onions and grill till soft and translucent. Grill bread till toasty then rub garlic clove on both sides. Assembly panini with slices of zucchini, red roasted peppers, onions and spread the ricotta mixture on the bread. Makes 2 panini.

Chef Chuck's Broccoli and Pine Nuts

A broccoli salad with toasted pine nuts, minced garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. A vegetable recipe packed with flavors, nutrients and fiber. Can be served hot or cold, great to bring to picnic's or the backyard barbecue.

2 cups broccoli, cut
in small florets
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Steam broccoli for 4 minutes, place in a bowl. In a small saucepan on low heat toast pine nuts, till golden brown. Heat olive oil and saute garlic, add to bowl, squeeze lemon juice over broccoli, salt and pepper to taste.

Chef Chuck's Torta alla Frutta

Torta alla Frutta

A tasty fruit torta made with a sweet crust, pastry cream and fresh fruit. A great dessert for breakfast or anytime of the day.

1 2/3 cups flour
1 egg 1 yolk
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter, cold
cut in small pieces
zest of 1/2 a lemon
pinch of salt

In a mixer cream the butter, add egg and yolk. Mix together flour, sugar and salt and slowly combine to the butter add zest. Rest for 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Butter a 12 inch pan, roll dough out to 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick cover with foil place 2 cups dry beans on top and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove foil and beans and cook for 2 more minutes. Cool completely before filling with pastry cream.

Pastry Cream

2 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean or
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons flour, sifted
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt

Heat 1 1/2 cups milk and vanilla bean to warm. Whisk egg yolks, add flour then sugar and 1/2 cup milk. Whisk till there are no lumps. Discard vanilla bean slowly add warm milk to egg mixture, return to heat till it almost boils and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from pot and put in a glass bowl to stop the cooking. Let cool then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.


1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
zest of 1 lemon

Combine and cook on medium heat to a low boil and cook for about 10 minutes, strain zest.

Fill crust with pastry cream and decorate with fresh organic fruit of your choice. I used strawberries, bananas and blueberries. Brush syrup on fruit and serve.

Chef Chuck's Tomato Salad

Insalata di Pomodori

This simple tomato salad consists of garden fresh tomatoes, red onions, fresh oregano and a couple of ice cubes for bread dunking goodness!! I enjoy that tomato onion flavor. This is my Mom's recipe, she makes it every summer.

Tomato Salad
4 ripe tomatoes, quartered
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
a splash of red wine vinegar
a healthy drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
3 or 4 ice cubes

Core tomatoes and cut into quarters, place in a bowl, add all other ingredients gently stir and serve. Can be refrigerated and is tastier the next day.

Chef Chuck's Salmon with Black Cherry Reduction

Salmone con Amarena

Salmon and black cherry reduction sauce was a surprising combination, that I decided to create today. The reduction sauce was sweet and light and paired well with the salmon. These black cherries were a seasonal delight.

Salmon with Black Cherry Reduction
1 pound salmon
1 1/2 cups black cherries, pitted
1 cup water
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients except salmon in a saucepan and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place salmon in baking pan salt and pepper, pour cherry reduction over top. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Chef Chuck's Apple Cake

Torta di Mele

Happy Fourth of July, here's my apple cake, for the holiday. This cake is light and delicious, a great dessert for anytime of the day. Enjoy all the culinary delights this day will bring you, Happy Birthday America!!

Apple Cake
4 granny smith apples
juice of 1 lemon

8 ounces butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
3 ounces sugar
1 1/4 cup flour, sifted
1 tablespoon yeast

pinch of salt
1 tablespoon milk

For topping:
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar

Peel, core and thinly slice apples, place in a bowl and pour lemon juice over apples. In a mixer combine melted butter and sugar then add beaten eggs. Sift flour, yeast and salt together add to mixer then milk. Butter pie plate and lightly flour, add mixture and arrange apples pour butter and brown sugar over top and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Chef Chuck's Lemon Basil Ice

Limone Ghiacciato al Basilico

A cool summer time treat, lemon basil ice is so refreshing. Served in half a lemon makes a distinctive presentation, which somehow enhances the lemon flavors!

Lemon Basil Ice
3 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, bruised
pinch of salt

In a small sauce pan heat 2 cups water, 2 cups sugar and basil leaves to a simmer. Stir to dissolve sugar, remove from heat add lemon juice, salt and 1 cup cold water. Strain liquid, pour into a large deep pan and place in freezer. Scrape with a fork and serve in lemons or a dessert cup.
Tip: Can use 1 cup sugar, to decrease sweetness.

Chef Chuck's Scallops and Prosciutto

Cappesante e Prosciutto

Fresh scallops wrapped with prosciutto seared to perfection. A touch of the sea, fresh vegetables plus a complemented glass of wine.

Scallops and Prosciutto
12 medium fresh scallops
6 thin slices prosciutto
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Wash and pat dry scallops, wrap each one with half a slice of prosciutto and secure with a toothpick. Salt and pepper both sides. In a small heavy frying pan on high heat add oil and sear scallops, about 2 minutes on each side.