Chef Chuck's Lemon Torta

Torta di Limone

A lovely lemon dessert, so cool and refreshing. Fresh organic lemon filling nestled in a shortbread crust, topped with a cool homemade whip cream. The whip cream accented the lemon flavors.

Lemon Torta

1 1/3 cup flour
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter
2 egg yolks
zest of 1 lemon

Lemon Filling
juice of 5 lemons,
almost 1 cup
10 tablespoons butter
6 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
powdered sugar or whip cream

Whip Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

To prepare pastry, I used a food processor and blended the flour, salt and sugar. Then added small chunks of butter then egg yolks and lemon zest. Knead on a lightly floured board to combine till smooth, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Let dough rest on counter 15 minutes or so then start rolling to fit a 9 inch pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

Filling is prepared while dough is baking. Melt butter in a small pan, set aside. In a saucepan whisk eggs and sugar then cornstarch. Slowly pour in melted butter, and add lemon juice. Continue to whisk for 10 minutes till lemon filling has thickened. Pour in baked pastry and bake an additional 10 minutes. Cool and refrigerate. Top with powdered sugar or whip cream. Combine whip cream and powdered sugar in a mixer till stiff peaks form.

Chef Chuck's Baked Sausage and Potatoes

Salsiccia e Patate al Forno

A comfort dish for tonight, baked sausage, potatoes, onions and red roasted peppers, baked in just a half hour. The aromas were intriguing, the taste was sweet, spicy and hot, and those crispy potatoes were delicious.

Baked Sausage and Potatoes

2 hot sausage links
4 potatoes, sliced thin
2 large onions, sliced thin
red roasted peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
plus 1 tablespoon butter for pan
salt and pepper

parmigiana cheese, grated

Saute onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter until golden brown. Butter an oven proof pan, layer potatoes on bottom and sides overlapping . Remove casings, layer sausage on top of potatoes. Next layer is the onions, then slices of peppers. Arrange a top layer of potatoes, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle a generous amount of cheese, salt and pepper. Bake at 450 degrees for 25 minutes. Serves 2

Chef Chuck's Pasta with Zucchini Cream Sauce

Pasta e Salsa di Panna Zucchini

A pasta dish made with creamy zucchini and onion sauce, crunchy pancetta and salty parmigiana cheese. A light and flavorful sauce was created with all these flavors combined. Any pasta would compliment this recipe and pancetta can be omitted to make this a vegetarian dish.

Pasta with Zucchini Cream Sauce

1/2 pound Rotini
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 small zucchini, sliced
about 1 cup
2 whole garlic cloves
2 slices pancetta
1/2 cup parmigiana cheese, grated

Start boiling water for the pasta. Wash and slice zucchini leaving skin on. In a large frying pan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook onions for 3 minutes. Add whole garlic cloves and zucchini, cook an additional 3-4 minutes, add a ladle or two of pasta water. In a small pan heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and brown pancetta. When zucchini is soft, add to a food processor discard garlic and pulse till creamy. Add zucchini back into pan along with pancetta, omit oil. Add al dente pasta and about 3 more ladles of pasta water. Simmer for 2 or 3 minutes, sprinkle on cheese. Serves 2.

Chef Chuck's Eggs in Purgatory

Uova al Purgatorio

Eggs in Purgatory is a very spicy tomato sauce with fresh eggs poached gently on top. I enjoy the eggs served over crusty Italian bread. This recipe is simple, inexpensive and really delicious. With any left over sauce, serve with pasta.

Eggs in Purgatory
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
pinch of salt
1 large can of tomato sauce
parmigiano cheese, grated

In a small sauce pan heat olive oil and brown paste, oregano and red hot pepper flakes for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onions, salt and cook an additional 2 minutes. Pour in tomato sauce simmer for 20 minutes, with lid on. When sauce is boiling gently add eggs cover and cook 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with parmigiana cheese and red hot pepper flakes, serve over bread.

Chef Chuck's Chocolate Walnut Lemon Cream Torta

Torta di Noci al Cioccolato e Crema al Limone

A big name for an impressive torta, this dessert is packed with lemon and chocolate flavors. An easy walnut crust that anyone can make, that surrounds a creamy lemony custard. I created this new recipe for the torta lover in you.

Chocolate Walnut Lemon Cream Torta

2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon yeast
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 egg 1 yolk
7 tablespoons cold butter

Combine in a food processor all dry ingredients including walnuts, then add egg and yolk then butter in small chunks. Transfer to a wooden board, this is a very crumbly crust. Form a ball wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Use a 9 inch pan, roll out bottom layer of crust and form in pan using your fingers to form around sides. Crumble the rest of dough for topping.

2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons flour
pinch of salt
2/3 cups sugar
6 egg yolks
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

In a small bowl combine flour, salt, sugar, eggs and 1/2 cup of milk and lemon set aside. Heat 1 1/2 cups of milk with vanilla till it starts to boil, whisk in slowly the egg mixture. Keep whisking till it thickens this takes about 2 minutes. Remove from heat let cool 15 minutes. Fill pan and crumble the rest of the dough on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool 1 hour and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Chef Chuck's Roman Style Stuffed Tomato

Pomodori Ripieni di Riso

These Roman style tomatoes are stuffed with rice, garlic, herbs and capers. Drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and baked to perfection. The potatoes help keep the tomatoes in place. A delicious appetizer or a tasty side dish, these tomatoes can be served hot or cold.

Stuffed Tomatoes
4 organic tomatoes
1 cup rice, cooked al dente
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon capers
2 potatoes, peeled and sliced
salt and pepper
olive oil

Wash tomatoes cut bottoms off, using a teaspoon remove pulp. In a food processor combine pulp, garlic, basil and parsley, blend well. Place pulp in a bowl add cooked rice, capers, salt and pepper. Fill each tomato with rice mixture, place tomato lids on. Peel and cut potatoes, arrange around tomatoes, this will help the tomatoes stay in place. Drizzle olive oil over tomatoes and potatoes. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

Chef Chuck's Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Maccheroni e Formaggio  al Forno

Macaroni and cheese with bits of prosciutto is truly a comfort food. So easy to assemble and so enjoyable to eat, mac and cheese is an affordable dish that everyone enjoys. The asiago and parmigiano cheese combination made this dish so creamy. I love the salty prosciutto and that crunchy crust.

Macaroni and Cheese
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup warm milk
1/2 cup asiago cheese, cubed
1/2 cup parmigiana cheese, grated
salt and pepper
3 slices prosciutto, chopped
olive oil

Butter a 9" pan, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta in boiling salted water till al dente. While pasta is cooking heat a large frying pan melt butter add flour and kept stirring with a wooden spoon or a whisk. Slowly add warm milk stirring constantly till you have a smooth sauce. Add asiago cheese stir till melted then add parmigiana cheese, salt and pepper. Add pasta and coat with sauce, add prosciutto. Place in buttered baking dish sprinkle with breadcrumbs, parmigiana and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes, raise heat to 425 degrees for 5 minutes to get a crunchy crust.