Chef Chuck's Chocolate Truffles

Tartufi al Cioccolato

Chocolate Truffles are rich creamy and smooth, they are a special holiday treat. So many ways to decorate these chocolate wonders. Happy Holidays!

Chocolate Truffles
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate, melted
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 vanilla bean or
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup heavy cream
cocoa powder for dusting

In a double boiler melt chocolate. In a mixer beat butter and sugar till creamy, add 1 yolk at a time. Bring cream and vanilla to a boil and pour into the butter and sugar. Slowly add melted chocolate. Pour into a shallow pan and refrigerate for about 1 hour. Scrape with a teaspoon and roll into a ball, about 10 grams. Roll in cocoa powder, pistachios, hazelnuts, coconut, powdered sugar or just be creative. Place on parchment paper and refrigerate. Makes great holiday gifts.

Chef Chuck's Mini Pecan Pies

Torta di Noci

A mini pecan pie is the perfect dessert, sweet and nutty with a flaky crust. Who needs the whole pie when these bite size goodies are just the right size.

Mini Pecan Pies


3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup flour


1 cup pecans, chopped
1 egg
1 tablespoon butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
confectioners sugar, for dusting

Dough: In a mixer blend together cream cheese, butter and flour to make a dough. Place on floured board and kneed to make a smooth ball. Cover with plastic wrap. Either take 1 teaspoon of dough and form each cup with your fingers, or roll out and cut out 1 1/2 inch circles to form in each cup. It is a sticky dough, use just a little flour when rolling out.
Filling: Combine all ingredients, fill each cup half full, using about 1 teaspoon of filling. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool on rack, freezes well in air tight containers. When cooled sprinkle with confectioners sugar.
Makes 24

Chef Chuck's Sweet Pumpkin Bread

Pane di Zucca

An old recipe, this pumpkin bread is always good this time of year. All the scents of the season, this sweet bread makes a wonderful gift to share with your family or friends. This recipe makes three small loaves and freezes well.

Sweet Pumpkin Bread 
3 1/2 cups flour
3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

4 eggs, beaten
1 cup olive oil

2/3 cup water
2 cups pumpkin
1 cup raisins
chopped walnuts, optional

In a mixer combine all dry ingredients, add eggs, olive oil, water, pumpkin, and raisins. Beat till combined. Prepare 3 loaf pans with spray or butter and lightly flour, fill 3/4 full, top with chopped nuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean. Makes 3 loaves.

Chef Chuck's Coconut Cake

Torta di Cocco

A different kind of coconut cake, this recipe calls for coconut flour which intensifies the flavor. Topped with a chocolate ganache icing and sprinkled with coconut. This cake can be served anytime of day, with a hot cup of coffee or tea.

Coconut Cake
3 eggs
7 ounces sugar
1 cup flour
6 ounces plain yogurt
4 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

Beat room temperature eggs with the sugar for 3 minutes. Alternately add 1 cup flour, yogurt and melted butter, starting with the flour and ending with flour. Sift together coconut flour, salt and baking powder add to batter, just till all incorporated. It is a thick batter scrape into a buttered and floured 9 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or till toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely and ice with melted chocolate and coconut.
Ganache icing: 1/2 cup dark chocolate 1/4 cup heavy cream, heat in a double boiler.

Chef Chuck's Pasta with Anchovies

Pasta con le Acciughe

The delicate angel hair pasta paired with the hidden flavor of anchovies, the sweet cherry tomatoes and the melting mozzarella makes this recipe so delicious. Added with the soft crunch of the almonds and the capers this dish is ready as soon as the pasta is al dente. A strong flavored fish the anchovy gives a wonderful taste of the sea to this pasta.

Pasta with Anchovies
1/2 pound angel hair pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 anchovies
8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup capers, rinsed
6 ounces mozzarella, cut in pieces
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Cook pasta in boiling salted water till al dente. Meanwhile in a large frying pan on heat olive oil and saute garlic a minute add anchovies, stir and crush till they dissolve. Add tomatoes, capers, and almonds, cook on low for 3-4 minutes. Toss pasta into the pan with a little pasta water remove from heat and stir in mozzarella.

Chef Chuck's Focaccia Stuffing

Focaccia Ripieno

Homemade stuffing, made with focaccia bread, celery, onions, carrots and mushrooms is the perfect side dish to share with your family. The stuffing could be used to stuff your favorite bird, serve it with pork or bake in the oven for a vegetarian stuffing. If you don't make the homemade focaccia, use your favorite bread.

2 cups warm water, 110 degrees
1 tablespoon dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
4-5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon 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 lay kitchen towel on top. Let rise in a warm area for 1 to 2 hours. Turn out onto a floured board and roll out to fit a baking pan. Transfer to an oiled baking pan cook at 475 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Cool and cut in small cubes, let sit out overnight to air dry or bake in the oven at 200 degrees till bread is dried out, about 1 hour.
Focaccia Stuffing

1 onion, diced

3 celery stalks, diced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
black ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter

5-6 cups focaccia bread, cubed

In a large frying pan heat olive oil and butter and saute onion, celery, and mushrooms. Add cubes of bread, fresh parsley, sage, and pour vegetable broth over, stir, add pepper to taste. Place in bird or in a covered baking dish and heat up 30 minutes in an 375 degree oven.

Chef Chuck's Ricotta Cheese Omelet

Frittata Con La Ricotta

A breakfast favorite, a ricotta cheese omelet with farm fresh eggs, ricotta cheese and Italy's bacon, pancetta. These creamy fluffy light eggs were a perfect breakfast to begin a Saturday morning !

Ricotta Cheese Omelet
1 cup ricotta cheese
4 large eggs
2 slices pancetta, chopped small
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

In a nonstick pan heat olive oil and cook pancetta till crispy. Remove and set aside wipe pan clean, add a little olive oil and fry ricotta for a few minutes add scrambled eggs over the cheese, and sprinkle pancetta over eggs. Using a spatula pull sides of egg away from pan to allow raw egg in middle to cook turn over and cook a few more minutes. Serve with toast.

Chef Chuck's Baked Apples

Mele al Forno

The sweet smell lofting from the hot oven is irresistible, the baked apples are ready to be savored. A delectable recipe for this season, apples are in abundance, time to heat up the oven, and have a fruit dessert. The best apples to use are Rome Beauty, Golden Delicious or Jonogold.

Baked Apples
4 Rome apples
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons raisins
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped

2 tablespoons butter, cubed
1/3 cup apple cider or juice

drizzle of honey
pinch of salt

Wash and core apples then peel skin one inch down. In a bowl mix brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins, walnuts and a pinch of salt. Place apples in a baking dish fill each apple with filling. Place one or two small cubes of butter on each apple, pour cider or juice over apples then drizzle with honey. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Enjoy while