Chef Chuck's Italian Doughnuts


Bomboloni are fried warm doughnuts made of soft dough lightly dusted with cinnamon and sugar. You can make this with a 2 inch round cookie cutter. A dolci to remember, a wonderful treat for the family on Sunday morning!

Italian Donuts
3 tablespoons yeast
1/4 warm water, 110 degrees
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup whole milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 cups flour

canola oil for frying
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a mixer with dough hook attachment add yeast, water, sugar, egg, melted butter, milk, vanilla and salt. With mixer on low add flour a little at a time. May need to add more flour if dough is too sticky, it will be a little sticky. Knead just enough to form a ball and place in an lightly oiled bowl cover with plastic wrap, let rise 1 hour or overnight. Place dough on a floured board roll out to 1/4 inch thick. Use a 2 inch round cookie cutter and make rounds, or for doughnuts remove the center, place on a floured baking sheet, let rise 10 minutes, in a warm spot discard any left over dough. In a small bowl mix sugar and cinnamon and set aside. In a small heavy pot heat oil to 350 degrees add one or two donuts at a time turning till golden brown. Drain on paper towels, and toss in sugar and cinnamon mixture, serve warm. Makes about 2 dozen.

Chef Chuck's Stewed Chicken with Orzo

Stufato di Pollo con Orzo

Slowly cooked tender chicken that melts in your mouth with an incredible flavorful gravy. A medley of healthy vegetables on top of orzo pasta completes this meal.

Stewed Chicken with Orzo
5 chicken thighs
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 onion , chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth, warmed
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
8 ounces orzo (pasta)

In a large pot heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and saute celery, carrots and onions, for 10 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove vegetables and set aside. Wash and pat dry chicken, combine flour, salt, pepper and oregano. Dredge chicken in flour mixture, add butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to pot and brown each side for 3 minutes. Slowly pour in wine, and reduce for 3 minutes. Add chicken broth, balsamic vinegar, honey and parsley, simmer with lid on for 1 hour 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook orzo in well salted boiling water till al dente, serve chicken over orzo. Serves 4

Chef Chuck's Baked Macaroni and Ragù

Maccheroni al Ragù al Forno

Layers of flavors, a flaky pastry, with a velvety ragu sauteed with beef, onions and mushrooms, then a layer of macaroni with a combination of cheeses and spinach. A dish like this takes time to prepare, then bake but is so rewarding.

1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
1 pound organic ground beef
8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons Marsala wine
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup organic chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 cup parmigiana cheese, grated
1 egg
about 1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves

2 1/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons sugar
3 1/2 ounces butter, cubed
1 egg
4-5 tablespoons cold water

6 ounces elbows or ziti
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
1/2 cup parmigiana cheese, grated
1 cup mozzarella, grated
2 tablespoons milk
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper

1 egg white for brushing

In a large pot heat butter and olive oil saute onions and garlic for 5 minutes. Add beef, salt and pepper and brown, then add mushrooms, Marsala and white wine. Stir in tomato paste cook for a few minutes. Pour in chicken broth and parsley let simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and mix together the parmigiana and egg and pour in, stir till all incorporated.
Prepare pastry in a mixer, food processor or by hand by blending together flour, sugar and salt. Cut butter in small chunks add to mixer, then egg and water. Check consistency of the dough if it holds together that's ready, if too dry add a little more water. Transfer to a floured board knead to form a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator.
In a medium pot heat water, add salt and cook pasta till al dente. In a bowl mix ricotta, parmigiana, mozzarella, milk, egg, salt and pepper. Add cooked pasta to this cheese mixture, set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Start assembly, divide dough into two balls one larger then the other. Roll out the larger piece to fit baking dish I used an 8 x 10 pan. Butter the baking pan fit dough in put half the beef in, then top with pasta mixture. Lay spinach leaves on top and repeat layer, with beef then pasta. Brush rim with egg whites place top layer of dough on and seal with fork, brush with egg whites and make a small opening on top. Bake for 50 minutes or till golden brown, place a baking sheet underneath to catch any drips. Let rest 10-15 minutes before cutting, serves 6.

Chef Chuck's Grape Focaccia

Schiacciata Con Uva Passa

A focaccia like no other with grapes and Marsala soaked raisins, it's so delicious. A great breakfast bread, so sweet and delightful. A Tuscan favorite, made during the grape harvest.
Black or red grapes are usually used but any sweet grape will make this recipe a hit.

Grape Focaccia
3 ounces raisins
1/3 cup Marsala wine
1 tablespoon honey
2/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
1 1/4 cup grapes
1 egg white
olive oil

Soak raisins, honey and Marsala in a small bowl, set aside. In a small pot heat milk to about 110 degrees, pour in a bowl sprinkle yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar and mix gently. Let it sit for 5-7 minutes to activate. If the yeast is not active (bubbly) the temperature of the milk was probably not correct, try again. In a mixer add flour, 1/3 cup sugar and the salt, mix. Add yeast mixture and mix, if too sticky add more flour. Transfer to a floured board, knead for a few minutes adding flour as needed. Place in a large bowl coated with olive oil cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, place in a warm area. Let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until double in size. Drain the raisins and pat dry. Punch down dough divide in half and form two round disc about 8 inches each. Use a baking sheet, coat with olive oil, and place one round dough down then half the grapes and raisins. Put the other dough on top and use remaining grapes and raisins. Cover and let rise 1 more hour. Brush with egg whites and sprinkle the remaining sugar on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.

Chef Chuck's Pork Ribs and Meatballs

Costine di Maiale e Polpette

Homemade tomato sauce with pasta, pork ribs and meatballs is truly comfort food. The pork was fork tender while the meatballs were so light. I slow cooked this meal in my new revolutionary nickel impregnated cast iron pot. This pot has unique qualities that others don't, it's quite efficient, the green pot, because it holds the temperature evenly on a low heat.

Pork Ribs and Meatballs

3 large cans tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

salt and pepper to taste
2 large country style pork ribs with bone
or 4 small ribs, room temperature

 1 pound ground beef, room temperature
1 cup parmigiana cheese, grated
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs

2 eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

In a large pot heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and brown ribs on all sides, remove and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and brown tomato paste for about 4 minutes, add garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Pour in tomato sauce, herbs, add ribs and water, cover, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 30 minutes. Meanwhile make meatballs by gently combining all ingredients in a large bowl. Form meatballs lightly and drop raw into sauce, bring to a boil and reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Serve with your favorite pasta.

Chef Chuck's Shrimp and Rice Soup

Minestra di Riso e Gamberi

These succulent shrimp have the saltiness flavors of the oceanic waters. Shrimp and rice soup is a unique way to enjoy soup. The shrimp were so plump and tender and the parsley added some garden freshness.

Shrimp and Rice Soup

1 pound shrimp, shells on
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/3 cup shallots, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup white wine
1 cup shrimp broth
3 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
cooked rice

Peel shrimp, wash and set aside. Place shells and 1 cup water in a small sauce pan season with salt and pepper and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and reserve liquid, this will be the shrimp broth. In a large pot heat olive oil and season the oil by cooking the garlic for 1-2 minutes, remove and discard. Then cook tomato paste for about 4 minutes. Add sun dried tomatoes, shallots and carrots and saute for a few more minutes. De glaze pan with the white wine and cook wine for a 2 minutes. Pour in shrimp broth, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add whole shrimp cover for 3 minutes toss in parsley. Serve over rice.
Serves 4.

Chef Chuck's Ricotta Cake

Torta di Ricotta

A moist ricotta cake sprinkled with powdered sugar and lightly drizzled with honey is sweet and satisfying. The raisins soaked in Marsala wine was a wonderful additive to the cake. A small slice served with coffee or tea reminds me of a European cafe.

Ricotta Cake
4 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 3/4 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
zest of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup Marsala wine
1/4 cup raisins

powdered sugar, for dusting

In a small bowl combine raisins and Marsala, set aside. Whisk eggs and brown sugar together, remove whisk replace with beater. Add ricotta a little at a time, then lemon zest, olive oil, milk and lemon juice. With mixer on low add all dry ingredients, add raisins and Marsala, mix just till combined. Pour batter into a well buttered 9 inch pan or a bundt pan, bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean. When cooled dust with powdered sugar, when serving drizzle with honey.

Chef Chuck's Sausage and Peppers

Salsiccia e Peperoni

An old favorite family recipe, sausage and peppers. Pan grilled hot or sweet Italian sausage combined with onions and peppers is a great blend. This dish is also delicious with tomato sauce added and served on a sandwich.

Sausage and Peppers
6 hot or sweet
Italian sausage links
2 large onions, sliced
2 green bell peppers, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Grill or pan fry sausage till browned, internal temperature should be 140-145 degrees. In a large sauce pan heat olive oil add peppers, oregano, salt and pepper cook for about 5 minutes. Then add onions and saute till they are translucent. Add sausage to onions and peppers, drizzle with olive oil. Serves 4 - 6.