Chef Chuck's Mushroom Bruschetta

Bruschetta ai Funghi

Mushroom bruschetta, is an appetizer made with crusty Italian bread, meaty flavored portobello mushrooms, caramelized sweet onions, creamy mozzarella and thyme. Nubian garlic from Sicily rubbed on the toasted bread just melts in the nooks and crannies. Finger food is very festive for the New Years parties, this bruschetta is the perfect choice.

Mushroom Bruschetta
4 thick slices of crusty bread
3 large portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves
4 slices mozzarella
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup water

In a pan over medium heat, saute butter and olive oil add onions, salt, pepper and a 1/4 cup of water, cook 5 minutes with lid on. Remove lid and continue cooking for an additional 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, till there are a deep golden brown. In a separate pan heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil, add sliced mushrooms and cook on medium heat, don't stir, flip, add thyme and cook on other side till golden edges appear. Cut bread in thick slices either broil or grill over charcoal till a hard crust appears. Remove and rub garlic clove on bread, top each bread slice with mozzarella. Return to oven or grill to melt cheese. Add onions, mushrooms and a drizzle of olive oil, enjoy.

Chef Chuck's Lobster Ravioli

Ravioli di Aragosta

Merry Christmas to all and to all a Happy and Healthy 2010. Lobster ravioli, is our specialty dish for this holiday. Light and delicate, with a sweet lobster filling accompanied with the creamy ricotta. The homemade pasta was so tender, and the sauce was brewed with all the shells from our seven seafood's we enjoyed on Christmas Eve. We are all so lucky to have family, friends, good health, happiness and fantastic foods.

Lobster Ravioli
2 lobster tails, 2 cups
1 cup whole milk ricotta
2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Ravioli Dough
1 1/2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons water

In a mixer or food processor, combine all ingredients for the dough together to get a smooth dough. Roll into a ball on a floured board and wrap in plastic for 15 minutes. Meanwhile remove lobster meat carefully from their shell, cut in small chunks. Saute butter and olive oil add chunks of lobster, parsley, salt and pepper cook for 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool, then combine ricotta and pepper with the lobster. Cut dough in 4 sections and work with 1 section, keeping the other 3 sections wrapped. Roll out with rolling pin or use a pasta machine to make long pieces. Place a 1/2 teaspoon of lobster mixture every 1 1/2 inches, fold dough over or top with another pasta sheet and use an egg wash to seal and trim with cutter to make decorative edges. Place on a baking pan with flour or semolini and cover while making the rest of the ravioli.
Makes 2 dozen

Chef Chuck's Hazelnut and Pistachio Torrone

Torrone Morbido

An ancient confection that is quite popular in Italy, especially around the holiday season. Torrone, meaning tower, and morbido meaning soft is a sweet and nutty nougat, that dates back to the 14th century. Simple ingredients with an extraordinary outcome.

Hazelnut and Pistachio Torrone
7 ounces honey
3/4 cup water
2 1/3 cups sugar
3 egg whites
3 cups hazelnuts
1 cup pistachios
wax paper or rice paper

Melt honey in a double boiler till it reaches 225 degrees, check water level. Heat sugar and water till 250 degrees stirring constantly. Toast nuts in an 300 degree oven for 10 minutes, but keep nuts hot. Using a mixer whisk egg whites till soft peaks appear, trickle in sugar and water syrup. Then slowly add honey, whisk 5 minutes. Replace whisk with beater paddle add hot nuts and mix for 2 minutes. While mixing the nougat you should maintain a temperature of 200 degrees, this can be obtained by using a torch! Carefully heat the metal bowl. Pour nougat on paper place another sheet of paper on top. Using a rolling pin gently press to get out any air bubbles, nougat should be 3/4 to 1 inch high. Let set out at room temperature for a couple of hours. Cut with paper on and store in an airtight container. Keeps for two weeks.
For chocolate covered torrone, melt 1/2 cup dark chocolate, 3/4 cup heavy cream and 2 tablespoons butter. Heat over a double boiler and pour over candy.

Grilled Eggplant Panini

Panini con Melanzane alla Griglia

A delicate round panini composed of homemade focaccia, grilled eggplant, soft mozzarella, prosciutto and fried sage leaves. All these flavors combined together spell, Italian.

Grilled Eggplant Panini
focaccia bread
1 eggplant, peeled and sliced
mozzarella, thinly sliced
sage leaves, chopped

Make focaccia bread and cut into small circles. Peel eggplant and slice to a 1/4 inch thickness, lay out on paper towels then cover with paper towels and let sit for 30 minutes, this takes out the bitterness. Brush both sides of eggplant with olive oil, salt and pepper, grill. Flip over and place 1 slice of mozzarella and 1 slice of prosciutto on top of half the eggplant slices. Sandwich with the remaining eggplant slices. Make panini and top with chopped sage leaves.

Chef Chuck's Lemon Coconut Bars

A refreshing dessert with a buttery short bread crust and a bright lemony filling. Lightly dusted with coconut, gives these bars a little different texture. Always choose organic lemons that are firm.

Lemon Coconut Bars
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup flour
pinch of salt

Filling 4 egg yolks
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons flour
pinch of salt
1/4 cup milk


Beat butter and sugar till creamy, slowly add flour and salt, the dough is dry and crumbly. Press into an 8 inch pan covered with parchment paper and buttered. Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Meanwhile make filling, in a mixer using the whisk attachment, beat yolks, sugar, lemon zest and juice. Add flour, salt and milk. Pour over hot crust and bake an additional 30-35 minutes. Cool for 1 hour, put in refrigerator for 3 hours, cut and sprinkle coconut over top.

Chef Chuck's Shrimp Diavolo

Gamberi alla Diavola

A spicy hot shrimp recipe served over campanelle pasta ready in less then a half an hour. The fresh succulent shrimps released their wonderful flavor throughout the savory tomato based sauce.

Shrimp Diavolo
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons red hot pepper flakes
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large can tomato sauce, plus 14oz. can crushed tomato
1 tablespoon oregano
salt to taste
1 pound pasta
1 or 2 ladles of pasta water

Heat a large pot of water, salt well and cook pasta till al dente. Meanwhile in a large frying pan heat olive oil and saute onions about 5 minutes add pepper flakes. Then add roasted red peppers and garlic cook for 30 seconds or so, add tomatoes, oregano, and salt. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, add shrimp cover and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Add cooked pasta to shrimp pan, ladle pasta water on top then toss. Drizzle olive oil over finished dish.

Chef Chuck's Holiday Roll

A holiday roll made with white sponge cake and a chocolate espresso whipped cream. A wonderful treat for the whole family to enjoy. Sprinkle white chocolate to create a snowy
feeling during this festive season.

Holiday Roll

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 eggs
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon crushed walnuts

1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 teaspoons espresso powder,
finely grinded

1/2 cup chocolate
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter

white chocolate, grated for topping

Heat oven to 350, in a small bowl combine flour, sugar and cornstarch. In a separate bowl whisk eggs and honey add this to flour. Beat ingredients till smooth, spread in a 10 x 14 baking pan lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle walnuts over dough. Bake 8-10 minutes or till golden brown. Dust a board or work space with powdered sugar and flip cake onto the sugar, let cool.
Prepare filling using a cold bowl, whip cream 1 minute then add sugar, cocoa and espresso powder, beat till firm peaks. Chill in refrigerator. When cake is cooled spread a thin layer of filling and begin rolling up using parchment paper to help to roll. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Melt chocolate, cream and butter in a double boiler. Place cake on a grill with a baking pan underneath and ladle melted chocolate over the log. Refrigerate again till chocolate hardens, grate white chocolate on top and enjoy!

Chef Chuck's Stuffed Pork Chops

Braciole di Maiale Farcito

A succulent pork chop with focaccia apple stuffing is a heart warming meal. Cooked to perfection this chop remains moist and tender. I brown the chop in butter and olive oil and transfer to a heated oven to finish the cooking.

Stuffed Pork Chops
2 pounds bone in pork chops
2 cups stuffing
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper to taste

Wash and make a cut to form a pocket in the pork chop. Bring chop to room temperature about 1 hour. Make your stuffing and gently place in pocket of chop. Heat frying pan add oil and butter and brown both sides of pork chop. Continue cooking in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. The internal temperature should be 160, I remove from oven at 155 because it still cooks when out of the oven. Let rest a few minutes and serve with a green vegetable.

Chef Chuck's Lemon Almond Sweet Pastry

Bensone alla Mandorla

A sweet pastry with crushed almonds gently rolled within the soft dough and a hint of fresh lemon is a wonderful dessert. The vanilla lemony icing enhances this pastry and adds a finishing touch to this sweet delight. Tasty anytime of the day with a cup of tea or coffee. Warm out of the oven and the melting icing dripping down I can hardly wait to taste.

2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour
zest of 1 lemon

1/4 cup butter softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups almonds chopped
1 tablespoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 egg white for brushing

Heat milk until 105 degrees, in an electric mixer dissolve yeast in the warm milk until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add 2 cups flour, butter, salt, sugar, egg, and lemon zest, mix using the dough hook until the dough comes together. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour if needed, the dough should form a ball. Turn it out on a floured board and knead until smooth,about 5 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place dough in the bowl and coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubles in size about 1 hour. Turn out dough onto a floured surface roll out to 12x18 inches. Spread the butter all over. In a small bowl mix the cinnamon, sugar, salt and almonds. Spread mixture over buttered dough, roll up gently and place the seam down. Place on a parchment lined baking pan. Using a sharp knife or scissors make cuts every inch cutting only three quarters of the way through. Cover the roll with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes. Brush egg whites on dough. Bake at 375 degrees 20 to 35 minutes, till golden brown. Let cool on rack, when cooled drizzle icing all over the ring.

Chef Chuck's Chicken with Peppers

Pollo con Peperoni

A hearty chicken dinner the whole family will love. The smells are making my mouth water from the roasted peppers to the chicken and onions simmering in the pot. The chicken comes out moist, tender and flavorful. I made this dish with couscous, you can use rice or orzo. A classic Roman dish usually served with rustic bread.

Chicken with Peppers
1 1/2 pounds organic chicken breasts
2 bell peppers, roasted and sliced
1 onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon butter

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup whole tomatoes,
cut in large slices

1 cup organic chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

salt and pepper to taste
2 cups couscous

Roast peppers over open flame till charred, place in a brown bag for 15 minutes, then peel remove seeds and slice. Wash chicken, cut in large pieces, cover with wrap and pound. Salt and pepper the chicken and toss in a bowl with flour. Heat butter and olive oil in a large pot brown chicken pieces on both sides. Add garlic, peppers, onions and celery. Pour in tomatoes, chicken broth, parsley, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.