Chef Chuck's Chocolate Raspberry Torta

Torta al Cioccolato e Lamponi

A decadent rich chocolate cake with raspberry filling and a ganache icing. If you love chocolate you are going to love this moist and dense European style dessert. The combination of chocolate and raspberries is always so pleasing to the palate.

Chocolate Raspberry Torta

1 cup bittersweet chocolate, melted
9 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
8 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
3/4 cup flour

Raspberry Filling
1/2 cup raspberry jam, seedless
3/4 cup fresh raspberries

1 cup bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Cake preparation
Melt chocolate in a double boiler and set aside. In a mixer beat butter and sugar for 2 minutes on medium speed. Separate eggs and add yolks in one at a time till all incorporated. Stream in warm chocolate, add vanilla and a pinch of salt. In a separate bowl whip egg whites till stiff peaks appear. Fold whites into chocolate batter. Sift flour over batter and fold in. Use two 8 inch baking pans, butter and lightly flour, divide the batter and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool and remove from pans rest on racks.

In a small saucepan heat jam and cut fresh raspberries in half, simmer on low heat till it reduces, about 10 minutes. Cool and strain, discard all seeds.

In a double boiler heat chocolate and cream till melted, add sugar and keep stirring till smooth.

When cakes are completely cooled use a pastry brush and put half the jam on one cake and the other half of jam on the other cake. Let the jam soak in, then place one cake on top of the other. Keep the cake on the rack and pour the warm chocolate over, if needed use a knife to ice the sides. Refrigerate till the chocolate hardens, place on a cake plate, serve with whip cream and fresh raspberries.

Chef Chuck's Strawberry Risotto

Risotto alle Fragole

A surprisingly delicious strawberry risotto, yes strawberries, and its sweet and savory. The creamy arborio rice and salty parmigiano cheese complemented the sweet juicy strawberries, this is a favorite.
The rice takes on a reddish hue, so it's quite appealing to the eye.

Strawberry Risotto

1 cup arborio rice
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 cup white wine
4 cups vegetable broth, warm
2 cups organic strawberries, chopped
1 cup parmigiano cheese, grated

In order to make a traditional risotto, it takes about 25 minutes to prepare, so pull up a chair and enjoy. Prepare strawberries by washing, removing stems and core and cutting into small pieces, crush with a fork, set aside. In a large frying pan heat butter and olive oil, saute onions till translucent. On medium to low heat add rice and let it toast for a minute or two, stirring occasionally. Pour in wine and let it reduce for approximately 2 minutes. Start adding warm broth one ladle at a time and stir, when it almost dissipates add another ladle. When half the broth is used, add crushed strawberries continue with adding broth till it is finished. Sprinkle on parmigiano and salt, garnish with a strawberry or two and serve.

Chef Chuck's Lemon Biscotti

Biscotti al Limone

A light and refreshing lemon cookie made with hand picked lemons and pine nut flour. Using the pine nut flour, gave these cookies a buttery unique taste. The lemon flavored icing was sweet and tart with the added lemon juice.

Lemon Biscotti

1+3/4 cups flour, sifted
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
zest of 1 lemon
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup pine nut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

In a mixer blend butter and sugar together, then add 1 egg at a time till all incorporated. Sift flour, salt and baking powder and slowly add in along with lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla. I made the pine nut flour in my food processor and pulsated the nuts just till fine. Add nut flour don't over blend. Wrap dough in parchment paper or wax paper and roll up to desired shape. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees use parchment paper or a silicon pad, cut 1/4 inch slices and bake for 15 minutes. Transfer to a baking rack and cool.

2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients till smooth. Pour into a pastry bag or plastic bag to pipe onto cookies or spread with a knife. Refrigerate so icing sets.
Ricette by Chef Chuck's Cucina

Chef Chuck's Steak Sandwich

Bistecca Panino

This ultimate steak sandwich melted in my mouth. Skirt steak is inexpensive, yet full of flavor and when thinly sliced it's so tender. I composed my sandwich with buttery parmigiano cheese, peppery arugula, grilled red onions and garden fresh tomatoes. The dressing was a light mist of extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Steak Sandwich

skirt steak
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1 teaspoon marjoram
salt and pepper
grilled red onions
parmigiano cheese, shaved
tomato slices
olive oil and red wine vinegar
favorite rolls

Wash and pat dry steak, prepare marinate by combining olive oil, vinegar, onions, marjoram, salt and pepper. Pour over steak, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Heat grill pan to high heat place steak on and cook for 3 minutes. Turn over and cook an additional 3 minutes. Place on a meat board, cover with foil and let rest for 15 minutes.
Assemble sandwich with arugula, thinly sliced steak, grilled onions, parmigiano, tomato, a mist of olive oil and vinegar, salt and pepper.

Chef Chuck's Beef Ravioli

Casonsei of Brescia

A beef ravioli recipe from Brescia, an ancient town in the beautiful Lombardy region, which lies in the famous Po Valley, in northern Italy. These delicate ravioli are filled with a beef and breadcrumb mixture, then gently sauteed in a butter and sage sauce.

Beef Ravioli

7 ounces ground beef
2 ounces butter
2 tablespoons beef broth
3/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup parmigiano cheese, grated
1 egg
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 garlic clove, minced
salt to taste

In a frying pan brown butter add chopped meat and beef broth, till cooked. Stir in breadcrumbs, parmigiano cheese and salt. Remove from heat add egg, parsley, garlic and garlic powder. Salt to taste.

1 2/3 cups flour
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine in a food processor till ball forms, or make a well with the flour add eggs in middle and mix till all combined and smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for 1/2 hour.

4 ounces butter
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, chopped

Saute in a large frying pan for a minute or two.

Roll out dough and make ravioli or any shape, using 1 tablespoon of beef in each ravioli. Place on a baking sheet sprinkled with semolina and cover with a towel, till all the ravioli are prepared. Boil in salted water for 3 minutes, then transfer to the butter and sage pan and serve with grated parmigiano cheese on top. Makes about 3 dozen.

Chef Chuck's Pasta with Onions

Pasta con Cipolle

A pasta recipe filled with wonderful flavors, sauteed sweet red onions, smoky pancetta and a silky ricotta cheese mixture. I purchased red onion bulbs in a market in Florence, then I planted the sweet red bulbs in my garden. I also used pancetta, which is Italian bacon, you could replace the pancetta with bacon. This is a hearty and satisfying pasta meal.

Pasta with Onions

1/2 pound penni pasta
3 cups sweet red onions, sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 slices pancetta, cubed
4 tablespoons ricotta
1/2 cup parmigiano cheese, grated
1 tablespoon oregano
salt and pepper

Saute onions in butter and olive oil till caramelized this takes about 15 minutes. Cook pasta in boiling salted water till al dente. Cook pancetta with the onions and brown. Add cooked pasta and a little pasta water (one ladle). Combine the ricotta, parmigiano, oregano, salt and pepper. Add this mixture to the warm pasta. Stir till everything is incorporated and serve with a salad and bread.