Chef Chuck's Gazpacho


A refreshing blend of organic garden vegetables makes this cold soup quite delightful. This soup has a clean refreshing flavor. An ancient recipe sure to please any vegetarian.

2 pounds ripe tomatoes
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, crushed
salt and pepper to taste

Cut tomatoes in half, place on a baking sheet along with the peppers and roast on broil in oven till soft and blackened. Let cool, and remove skins and place in a bowl. Add all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend till you get a smooth consistency. Refrigerate and serve chilled.
Optional: Chop a few vegetables small to place on top of soup, for additional texture.

Chef Chuck's Spring Pasta Dish

Primavera Pasta

Spring has sprung with a delicate and light pasta dish made with fettuccine, fresh vegetables and prosciutto. A garden blend of bright colors, insures a healthy meal.

Spring Pasta Dish 1/2 pound fettuccine
2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1/2 bunch of asparagus,
cut in 1-2 inch pieces

1/4 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup vegetable broth, or beef
4 slices of prosciutto, shredded
parmigiana cheese, grated

salt and pepper

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta till al dente. In a large frying pan heat olive oil and butter add mushrooms and cook a few minutes. Add asparagus, peppers, salt and pepper, cook 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in broth, stir in strained pasta to frying pan, grate cheese over pasta. Sprinkle prosciutto over dish and enjoy. Serves 4.

Chef Chuck's Chocolate Mascarpone Torta

Chocolate Mascarpone Torta

A moist chocolate torta with mascarpone cheese is heavenly. Mascarpone is an Italian cream cheese, similar to cream cheese, but richer and creamier. This recipe was inspired by a friend, although I changed the recipe to give it an Italian flair.

Cheese Batter
4 ounces mascarpone or
cream cheese
2 ounces sugar
1 egg
pinch of salt
chocolate chips

Chocolate Batter

1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat cream cheese till soft add sugar, salt and egg, beat till smooth, set aside.
Using a mixer combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add water, olive oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Scrape down and mix till combined. Use a 9 inch greased torta pan, fill half way then spread the cheese batter around in a swirl and drop chocolate chips in the cheese. Or you can make cupcakes using paper liners, fill half way, place 1 teaspoon of cheese mixture in the middle and place 3 or 4 chips in the center. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
Tip: May have some batter left over if making the torta, I made a few cupcakes!

Chef Chuck's Kale and Bean Soup

Minestra di Fagioli e Kale

This robust kale soup is a highly nutritious dish that is superb on a cold evening. Kale combined with white beans and vegetables, makes a harmonious soup.

Kale and Bean Soup
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch of kale, chopped
remove thick stems
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
4 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can white beans
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon thyme, finely chopped
parmigiano cheese, grated
optional: red hot pepper flakes

In a large pot heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and brown carrots, celery and onions for 15 minutes. Remove vegetables and set aside add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil in pan and brown tomato paste and 3 garlic cloves. Stir and cook for 3-5 minutes remove and discard garlic. Add vegetables back in the pot along with the broth, vinegar and thyme. Bring to a boil, then add beans and kale, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes with lid on. Serve with parmigiana, red hot pepper flakes and a drizzle of olive oil.

Chef Chuck's Blueberry Pastry

Pasticcini ai Mirtilli

A delightful blueberry pastry, warm out of the oven, drizzled with a sugary vanilla glaze and thoroughly enjoyed. The pastry was so light and the blueberry curd sweetened up the blueberries to make this a perfect dessert.

Pastry Dough
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
1/4 cup butter, softened

1 egg white

Heat milk until 105 degrees, in an electric mixer or food processor, dissolve yeast in the warm milk until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add 2 cups flour,1/4 cup butter, salt, sugar, and egg 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. Roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thick gently spread 1/4 cup softened butter all over. Roll up dough and cut 1/2 inch discs place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with a towel and let rise another 45 minutes. Brush on egg whites, and with your finger form a circle. Place a few blueberries in center and 1/2 teaspoon of the blueberry curd. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. When cooled drizzle glaze on top.

Blueberry Curd
1/2 cup blueberries
1/4 cup butter, chopped
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch

3 eggs, beaten

In a small pot heat blueberries and 1 tablespoon of water simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat strain into a double boiler, add butter and sugar, stir till melted. Be sure the water does not boil. Strain in the eggs using a spoon to push the egg through. This mixture needs to cook for 35-40 minutes. It will thicken a bit, stir occasionally and more towards the end. Strain and put in jars and refrigerate. Makes about 1 cup.

1/2 cup blueberries

1 cup powdered sugar
4 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all ingredients together, drizzle over pastry.

Chef Chuck's Stuffed Onions

Cipolle Farcite

A unique sweet baked onion filled with a meaty stuffing. First boiled, then stuffed and baked to perfection. Onions and beef have always been a great marriage of flavors.

Stuffed Onions
4 medium size white onions
1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tomato, diced
8 ounces organic ground beef
2 tablespoons Italian breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 egg
1/4 cup parmigiano cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot of boiling water add onions and boil for 10 minutes, remove and set aside. In a frying pan heat butter and olive oil saute onions and peppers for 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and tomatoes, stirring for another minute. Cook beef with bread crumbs, parsley, salt and pepper till browned. Stir together the egg and cheese and add to beef mixture, remove and let cool. Cut the bottom of the onion off so it will sit, then cut off the top and with a teaspoon and knife hollow out most of the inside. Stuff each onion and place on a baking sheet, bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, uncovered.

Chef Chuck's Pork Chops with Gravy

Braciole di Maiale con Salsa

Succulent pan fried pork chops covered in a rich, full flavored gravy. These pork chops were so tender and juicy. Served with roasted herbed potatoes and healthy spinach with garlic.

Pork Chops with Gravy
2 pork chops with bone
flour for dredging
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons flour

Wash and pat dry chops, mix salt and pepper with the flour and coat both sides. Heat a frying pan on high, add butter and oil then brown pork chops 3 minutes on each side. The internal temperature should be 160 degrees. Remove from pan cover and let rest 5 to 10 minutes. Add the broth slowly to the pan while scrapping the bottom then bring to a boil. Mix 2 tablespoons of flour with a little water to make a watery paste. Drizzle in while stirring, gravy will start to thicken. Serves 2.