Chef Chuck's Pasta and Beans

Pasta e Fagioli is a famous dish in Italy, probably because beans are extremely popular. There are so many varieties in making this recipe, depending on the region. I suggest using a high quality olive oil, and select a short pasta that is comparable to the size of the beans. A wonderful and hearty meal that takes little time to prepare.

Pasta and Beans 
1 onion, rough chopped
1 carrot, rough chopped
2 celery, rough chopped
2 slices pancetta, 1/4 inch thick, chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, whole
1-14oz. can diced tomatoes
4 cups organic vegetable broth
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 cans kidney beans, drained
8 ounces ditalina pasta
salt and pepper to taste
parmigiano cheese, grated

Chop onion, carrot and celery then place in a food processor, chop, then add pancetta and chop till fine. In a large pot add onion mixture then pour olive oil in slowly, add whole garlic and cook on medium heat for 20 minutes. Add tomatoes, broth, red wine vinegar, and simmer an additional 10 minutes. Cook pasta only 3 minutes and drain add to pot along with the beans, cook 4 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve with grated parmigiana cheese. Can substitute pancetta with bacon.

Chef Chuck's Apple Torta with Pastry Cream

Torta di Mele con Crema Pasticciera

A different approach to the usual apple pie. This apple torta has a unique pastry crust, sweet pastry cream and tart granny smith apples tossed in brown sugar, honey and cinnamon. Just in time for the Fall season, a warm and comforting apple dessert.

Apple Torta with Pastry Cream


3 tablespoons whole milk
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons butter
pinch of salt
1/2 cup flour
3 eggs

In a small pot heat milk, water, butter and salt till it boils. Remove from heat stir in flour place back on low heat for 10 seconds. Place in a mixer bowl and cool for 7 minutes, beat in one egg at a time and mix on high for 1 minute till it all comes together. Butter a 9 inch round pan and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

1 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3 egg yolks
pinch of salt
3 tablespoon flour

3 ounces sugar

Heat 3/4 cup of milk and vanilla till almost boiling. Whisk egg yolks for one minute, add salt, flour, sugar and a 1/4 cup milk. Add to warm milk mixture, cook for about 2 minutes, stirring till cream thickens. Remove from heat, pour in a bowl and cool. When cake is cool spread cream over pastry and refrigerate.

3 granny smith apples
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter

Cut apples into thin slices, in a bowl combine brown sugar, cinnamon and salt and toss apples. Add vanilla, honey, and lemon juice and mix to coat all apples. In a large frying pan heat butter add apples and cook with lid on for 5 minutes. Cool and place on top of cream, refrigerate.

Chef Chuck's Raspberry Mascarpone Sponge Cake

PanDiSpagna ai Lamponi e Mascarpone

A decadent dessert with a classic refreshing flavor. It all blended so well, a light sponge cake soaked in a coffee mixture coated in dark chocolate. Topped with a mascarpone cream and fresh juicy raspberries. A sinful dessert to enjoy anytime.

Raspberry Mascarpone Sponge Cake
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Coffee Mix
3 ounces sugar
3 ounces water
2 ounces espresso
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate Glaze
1/4 cup dark chocolate
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Mascarpone Cream
16 ounces mascarpone cream
6 ounces powdered sugar
6 ounces heavy cream


Separate eggs, beat yolks and powdered sugar for 3 minutes. Beat egg whites with salt till stiff peaks form. Gently fold the yolk mixture into the egg whites. Sift a little flour at a time over the batter and fold in, continue till all flour is blended. Add vanilla, lemon juice and zest. Use a 12x9 baking pan, line with parchment paper then butter. Pour in batter and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool and place on a rack. On a cutting board, cut into rectangles about 1 1/2 x 4 inches, then slice in half to make layers.

Coffee Mix, combine sugar and water in a small pot till it boils and cool, add coffee, brush on the bottom layer of cake.

Melt chocolate and heavy cream in a double boiler. Coat a thin layer of chocolate on top of coffee layer, then refrigerate till is hardens. This takes about 30 minutes.

Mix mascarpone cream with the sugar and a little cream at a time, till it is all blended and thickens.
Add a layer of cream over chocolate then on top of cake use a star tip with a pastry bag or spread the cream, top with a few raspberries.

Chef Chuck's Tomato Tuna Salad

Insalata di Pomodori Tonno

A fresh tomato tuna salad prepared with red and yellow tomatoes, tuna, purple onions, lemon infused salt, basil and a good drizzle of olive oil. The lemon infused salt gives this summer salad a bright and lively taste. Serve with crusty Italian bread.

Tomato Tuna Salad
purple onions
lemon infused salt
olive oil

Prepare salt ahead of time using a jar with a lid, cut up lemon slices add lots of sea salt and refrigerate for at least one day. In a bowl cut tomatoes in quarters, add chunks of tuna, slices
of onions, lemon salt, chopped basil, and a good drizzle of olive oil.

Chef Chuck's Fried Eggplant Balls

Polpette di Melanzana

An appetizer made with eggplant, parmigiana cheese, breadcrumbs, basil and eggs with a bit of mozzarella cheese nestled inside, then fried to perfection. Serve with a marinara sauce and this is a perfect vegetarian snack.

Fried Eggplant Balls
2 eggplants
1 cup parmigiano cheese, grated
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 eggs
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
mozzarella cheese, cut in small chunks
salt and pepper
olive oil for frying
marinara sauce for dipping

Cut off ends of eggplants, peel and cut in chunks, boil for 10 minutes in salted water. Drain the eggplant and use a fork to squeeze excess liquid out. This is a very important step, so drain well. Place in a bowl, add cheese, breadcrumbs, eggs, basil, salt and pepper mix till combined. Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Make small balls and place a small chunk of mozzarella in the middle of each ball. Fry on all sides till golden brown, drain on a paper towel and serve with a marinara sauce.

Chef Chuck's Zucchini and Potato Soup

Zuppa di Zucchine e Patate

A zucchini and potato soup filled with garden vegetables and pasta. Another great way to use all those zucchini's from the garden. A healthy and tasty meal, to enjoy on these cooler evenings.

Zucchini and Potato Soup
5 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced
4 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 zucchini, cut in chunks

3 medium potatoes, cut in chunks
4 cups vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
red pepper flakes
parmigiana cheese
2 cups short pasta

In a large pot add olive oil and saute onions and celery for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, zucchini potatoes, salt and pepper for an additional 3 minutes. Pour in vegetable broth cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add parsley, red pepper flakes, and parmigiana cheese. Cook pasta till al dente, add to soup when ready to serve.