Bagna Cauda to die for

Basically a hot dipping sauce for chunks of fresh vegetables, Bagna Cauda also lends itself to being used as a dressing for all sorts of greens. For arugula, just grab a few leaves with your fingers, swish them into the sauce, and pop into your mouth. Endive and Romaine lettuce leaves are great because they can hold more sauce than broccoli or cauliflower flowerets.
One 2-ounce can flat anchovies in olive oil or 3 salt-packed whole anchovies
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more if needed
Salt to taste

Vegetables of your choice such as Belgian endive leaves, bell pepper strips, celery, halved radishes, cauliflower and broccoli flowerets, green onions, arugula, cucumber, Romaine leaves.

If using canned anchovies, drain well, pat excess oil off filets with paper towels and chop finely. If using salt-packed anchovies, you’ll have to remove their bones. Split the fish down their backs and lift the fillets off their skeleton. Rinse well under running tap water to remove excess salt and pat dry with paper towels. Chop finely.
If you have a mortar and pestle, grind the chopped anchovies and garlic together to make a paste. Or just smear the chopped garlic and anchovies together on a board with the blade of a knife to make a paste.
Put the olive oil and butter into a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the anchovies and garlic and let them melt into the butter and oil slowly, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook another 10 minutes without allowing the sauce to boil. Stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Taste. Add more lemon juice if you feel the sauce needs it and salt to taste.
To serve, transfer the hot sauce to a heated bowl and set it in the center of a large platter surrounded with the vegetables you’ve chosen. Eat as soon as possible.
• Makes 6 servings.

Sweet wine biscotti to die for

1 cup red sweet wine
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
Additional granulated sugar for rolling dough balls

Whisk together wine, sugar and oil until well blended. Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Create a center well in the flour mixture and pour in the wine mixture. Slowly start to blend the dry and wet ingredients until all are combined and the mixture begins to come together as a dough. The dough will be a bit sticky and oily but, easily able to roll and form balls. If unable to roll dough, add enough (2 tablespoons at a time) flour until dough easily forms a ball. Be aware that adding too much flour will yield a tough biscotti.

Roll and toss heaping tablespoon-size balls into medium bowl with sugar, then roll sugared balls into a log and place on parchment paper covered cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until firm to touch and golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Store biscotti in a sealed container. They will keep very well in a cool, dry place or you can freeze them and thaw for later use. 

Caponatina to die for

½ — ¾ cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups diced celery
1 large eggplant, pared, sliced and cut into small cubes, about 3 cups
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
¼ cup parsley
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
1 cup tomato paste
2 large tomatoes, peeled, diced
1 cup water
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup small pitted green and black olives
Mushrooms, optional

Heat oil and saute garlic and celery. Remove and set aside. Saute eggplant, onion, green pepper, parsley, sugar, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper and cook on low heat for 10 minutes. Add tomato paste, tomatoes and remaining ingredients and cook until soft. Chill until needed.

Note: When sauteeing, never allow garlic to turn brown as it becomes bitter. Before that happens, remove from the oil and set aside, then, if desired, return it to cook along with the rest of the ingredients.

Minestrone soup to die for

1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
3 carrots, pared and coarsely chopped
2 potatoes, cut into ¾-inch cubes
2 stalks celery, chopped
½ pound green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
Small zucchini, cut into ¾-inch cubes
½ pound cabbage, coarsely shredded
28-ounce can plum tomatoes
1 ½ cups water
3 ½ cups beef broth
1 ½ teaspoon basil
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon rosemary
1 bay leaf
Grated Parmesan cheese, optional
Heat oil and butter in stock pot at medium heat. Add onions and saute until soft. Add carrots and potatoes and saute 5 minutes. Add celery and green beans and saute 5 minutes. Stir in zucchini and saute 3 minutes. Add cabbage and cook for 1 minute. Puree tomatoes in a food processor and add to stock pot along with water and beef broth. Stir in basil, pepper, garlic powder, rosemary and bay leaf. Heat to boiling, then simmer, covered, on low for 2 hours. Remove bay leaf. If desired, serve with grated Parmesan cheese.
Yield: about 12 cups.

Grilled Polenta Squares Topped With Pesto Shrimp

View of the burned car and the charred remains (under burlap bag) of gangster Morris Grossman in front of 240 E. 81st St

2 cups instant polenta
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup basil leaves
11/2 cups cup olive oil
2 cloves peeled garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt for pesto mixture
2 tablespoons butter
Cook polenta according to directions on package. Allow to cool in a sheet pan or two rubbed with olive oil. Use a spatula to even out the mixture to a height of approximately 1 inch. Once cooled and firm, remove from pan and cut into 2-inch squares. Grill in a stove-top grill pan just long enough to make grill marks and set aside for later use. Can be done a day ahead.
Make a light pesto by combining the basil, olive oil, garlic and salt in mini food processor and mix; season to taste.
One hour before cooking marinate the peeled and deveined shrimp in half the pesto mixture. Dry the shrimp mixture on paper towels and saute in a large saute pan coated with olive oil until just pink. Add the remaining pesto mixture and finish cooking the shrimp about 2 more minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside. Swirl 2 tablespoons butter into the remaining liquid and melt. Set polenta squares on serving platter and using a basting brush coat them with liquid in the pan, top each with a shrimp and serve.

Provençale Tomato Sauce

View of the burned car and the charred remains (under burlap bag) of gangster Morris Grossman in front of 240 E. 81st St

•           ¼ cup olive oil
•           cup finely minced yellow onions
•           Kosher salt and black pepper
•           4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
•           5 to 6 pounds ripe tomatoes, quartered
•           ⅛ teaspoon sugar, plus more to taste
•           4 cloves garlic, minced or put through a press
•           A large herb bouquet: 8 sprigs parsley, 1 bay leaf and 4 sprigs thyme, all tied in cheesecloth
•           ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
•           ½ teaspoon dried basil, oregano, marjoram or savory
•           Large pinch saffron threads
•           1 dozen coriander seeds, lightly crushed
•           1 2-inch piece dried orange peel (or 1/2 teaspoon granules)
•           2 to 3 tablespoons tomato paste (optional)

1.         In a large heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with salt and cook slowly for about 10 minutes, until tender but not browned. Sprinkle on the flour and cook slowly for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally; do not brown.
2.         Meanwhile, fit a food processor with the coarse grating blade. Working in batches to avoid overfilling the machine, push the tomatoes through the feed tube to make a coarse purée.
3.         Stir the tomatoes, sugar, garlic, herb bouquet, fennel, basil, saffron, coriander, orange peel and 1 teaspoon salt into the pot. Cover and cook slowly for 10 minutes, so the tomatoes will render more of their juice. Then uncover and simmer for about an hour, until thick. The sauce is done when it tastes thoroughly cooked and is thick enough to form a mass in the spoon. Remove herb bouquet and taste. Season with salt, pepper, sugar and tomato paste, and simmer two minutes more. The sauce may be used immediately, refrigerated or frozen for up to 6 months.

Grilled Eggplant With Mozzarella Cheese

The body of Tommy Protheroe lies outside his apartment house in Sunnyside, Queens, where he and his female companion, Elizabeth Connors, were shot by gangsters

•           3 large eggplants, about 1 1/2 pounds each
•           1 ¾ pounds tomatoes, sliced thinly
•           1 ¼ pounds fresh mozzarella, in 1/4-inch slices
•           1 bunch fresh basil leaves
•           Salt and freshly ground pepper
•           3 tablespoons olive oil

1.         Cut the stems off the eggplants. Slice each eggplant lengthwise into four even pieces. Rub some of the olive oil over the slices and season well with salt and pepper.
2.         Lay tomato slices over six of the eggplant slices. Place basil leaves over the tomatoes. Lay mozzarella slices over the basil leaves. Coat with remaining olive oil and make sandwiches with the remaining eggplant slices. Wrap well in heavy-duty aluminum foil.

3.         Place the eggplants over the grill and cook for about 30 minutes, turning occasionally, or until the eggplants are cooked thoroughly and the cheese is melted.

Greens Frittata With Mozzarella and Prosciutto

Shortly after a blonde dancer gave police important clues in the recent murders of three gangsters, a fourth was laid low by screaming under-world bullets. He was Dominick Didato, a former Spitale henchman.

•           5 to 6 ounces arugula, spinach or chard, stemmed and sliced into 1/2-inch ribbons
•           2 small garlic cloves, minced
•           Salt
•           pepper
•           Olive oil
•           8 large organic eggs
•           Pinch of red pepper flakes
•           2 tablespoons grated parmigiano
•           ¼ pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
•           3 or 4 slices prosciutto, torn into strips

1.         Put the greens in a large mixing bowl. Add the garlic, season with salt and pepper and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Toss the greens with your hands to coat the leaves.
2.         In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and season with salt and pepper. Add the red pepper flakes and parmigiano. Pour the egg mixture over the greens and stir them together.
3.         Heat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or 9-inch omelet pan on medium-high. Pour in a film of olive oil and let it heat. Add the frittata mixture and let it cook briskly, lifting the edges with a spatula and tilting the pan to help the bottom set. Reduce the heat to prevent the bottom from over-browning and quickly arrange the sliced mozzarella and prosciutto over the surface. Cook for about 3 minutes.
4.         Place a large plate over the pan, then carefully invert the frittata onto the plate. Return the pan to the heat, add a touch more olive oil, and slip the frittata back into the pan, uncooked side down, for another 2 minutes. (Alternatively, leave the frittata in the pan and finish under a broiler). Slide the frittata onto a platter. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature, cut into wedges.

Fennel al Forno

Police and Assistant Attorney William O'Hare (kneeling) inspect the body of murdered gangster James Palermo, who was dumped in Astoria, Queens

•           4 medium fennel bulbs, about 2 1/2 pounds, topped, a few green fronds reserved
•           Salt and pepper
•           3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more to oil the baking pan
•           ½ teaspoon fennel seed, crushed or roughly powdered in a mortar or spice mill
•           3 garlic cloves
•           ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
•           ½ teaspoon chopped rosemary
•           ½ pound fresh mozzarella, sliced or shredded
•           2 teaspoons rosemary leaves
•           ¼ cup coarse dry homemade bread crumbs from an Italian or French loaf
•           ½ cup grated Parmesan (about 1 1/2 ounces)
•           2 tablespoons chopped parsley, or a mixture of parsley and fennel fronds

1.         Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove a thin layer of the fennel bulbs’ tough exterior with a paring knife or sharp vegetable peeler. Cut the fennel crosswise into half-inch-thick slices. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Boil the fennel for 1 minute, then put it in a bowl of cold water, drain and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper. Lightly oil an oven-proof baking dish. Layer in the fennel to a depth of 1 1/2 inches (pushing down, if necessary).
2.         In a small bowl, stir together 3 tablespoons olive oil, the fennel seed and the garlic, smashed to a paste with a little salt, the pepper flakes and the chopped rosemary. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of this mixture over the fennel. Sprinkle with the rosemary leaves. Cover with a layer of sliced or shredded mozzarella, then sprinkle with bread crumbs. Drizzle the remaining oil mixture, then sprinkle with Parmesan. (The dish may be prepared to this point several hours before baking.)
3.         Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes, until nicely browned. Garnish with the chopped parsley or a mixture of the parsley and fennel fronds.

Hot Italian Sausage

ice wagon connors

•           1 pound coarsely ground pork shoulder, not too lean
•           1 teaspoon salt
•           1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
•           ½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or more to taste
•           1 tablespoon mild paprika
•           3 garlic cloves, minced
1.         Put the pork in a bowl and add all remaining ingredients. Mix well to distribute the seasoning evenly throughout the meat.

2.         Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for future use.

Tomates A La Provencale (Baked Tomatoes)

 Harry Meagher Assassinate In Los Angeles

•           8 (about 2 pounds) ripe, round tomatoes, cored and halved
•           Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
•           8 cloves garlic, peeled
•           ¾ cup freshly ground bread crumbs
•           A handful fresh, flat-leaf parsley, finely minced
•           3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1.         Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2.         Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, in a large baking dish. (Unless the tomatoes are exceptionally watery, do not seed or drain them; they will better hold their shape and the natural juices will mingle nicely with the garlic and herbs.) Season generously with salt and pepper. Slice the garlic into thin chips and sprinkle over the tomatoes. Combine the bread crumbs and parsley, and scatter the mixture over the tomatoes. Drizzle them with oil.
3.         Bake, uncovered, for one hour, or until the tomatoes are soft, browned and sizzling. Serve immediately.

Roasted Pepper Tartine

gangster Michael Sisto after he was shot gangland style at President St. and Fourth Ave

•           2 roasted red or yellow bell peppers (good-quality jarred peppers are fine)
•           Salt and pepper
•           1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
•           2 garlic cloves, minced
•           2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
•           4 large 1/2-inch-thick slices bread from a day-old rustic loaf, such as miche or pain au levain (about 6 by 4 inches)
•           4 tablespoons sun-dried tomato purée (optional)
•           12 black olives, pitted
•           4 ounces firm fresh goat cheese log or 4 ounces Camembert

1.         Remove and discard seeds from peppers, then slice peppers into strips 1/4-inch wide. Put strips in a small mixing bowl and season well with salt and pepper. Add marjoram, garlic and olive oil and stir to coat.
2.         Put the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast lightly on both sides under broiler (or use a toaster and place toasted slices on baking sheet). Brush with sun-dried tomato purée, if using. Divide peppers among the 4 toasts and spread out to cover. Tuck the olives here and there.
3.         Top each toast with 1/2-inch slices of goat cheese or Camembert (about 1 ounce total on each toast). Broil for 2 to 3 minutes, not too close to the heat, until nicely browned. Alternatively, bake tartines 3 to 5 minutes on top shelf of a 450-degree oven, or individually in a countertop toaster oven. Serve hot.

Fritto Misto di Mare

Gangster Jacob (Little Augie) Orgen is laid to rest in the Mount Judah Cemetery in Queens as his grieving mother looks on

For the batter:
•           1 cup all-purpose flour
•           ½ teaspoon salt
•           1 cup white wine
•           ¼ cup seltzer or club soda
For the dredging:
•           1 cup all-purpose flour
•           ½ teaspoon salt
•           ½ teaspoon black pepper
For the fritto misto:
•           4 cups vegetable oil, or a mixture of olive oil and vegetable oil
•           ½ pound medium shrimp, peeled
•           1 pound cleaned squid, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
•           ½ pound bay scallops
•           1 pound mussels, steamed and shucked
•           1 pound white bait or smelt
•           1 lemon, sliced very thin
•           1 bunch scallions, trimmed to thin, 4-inch lengths
•           Sea salt
•           Pinch of crushed red pepper for garnish, optional
•           Parsley sprigs or chopped parsley for garnish, optional
•           Lemon wedges
1.         Make the batter: Put flour and salt in a small bowl and gradually whisk in wine to obtain a smooth, lump-free mixture. Rest 30 minutes. Add seltzer just before frying.
2.         Near the stove, put the seasoned dredging flour in a shallow bowl. Place finished batter next to it and an empty plate next to that. Put fish and other ingredients for frying nearby.
3.         Put oil in a large wok or a wide, deep pot and fasten a candy thermometer to the side. Heat oil to 375 degrees.
4.         Working in small batches, dip a few pieces of shrimp, squid, scallop, mussels, white bait, sliced lemon and scallion first into the seasoned flour to coat lightly, then into the batter. Put battered pieces on the empty plate.
5.         Slip a few pieces into the hot oil and fry 3 to 4 minutes, until golden. Remove with tongs or wire spider and drain on a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Hold fried food in a warm oven while continuing to fry. Make sure to regulate heat below wok to keep oil at correct temperature (adding too many pieces to the oil will cause it to cool.) Rid oil of debris between batches with a fine meshed skimmer.

6.         As soon as you have enough to serve, pile it onto a warmed platter. Sprinkle with sea salt (and crushed red pepper if desired). Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges. Continue to fry in small batches.

Lasagne with sausages and mushrooms ragù

                                                         Frankie Yale's ex-wife

Ingredients for 6 portions:
•           2 medium carrots
•           2 medium onions
•           2 celery stalks
•           750 gr of chipolatas
•           350 ml of white wine
•           250 ml of vegetable stock
•           350 gr of chestnut mushrooms
•           500 gr of egg lasagne sheets
•           100 gr of grated parmesan cheese
•           100 gr of grated pecorino cheese
•           3 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil
•           Salt and pepper to taste
For the béchamel sauce:
•           100 gr of butter
•           100 gr of “00” flour
•           1 litre of milk
•           Salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste

1. Remove the sausage meat from its skin, put in a bowl and mash roughly with a fork. Finely chop the onions, celery and carrots. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, then add the chopped vegetables and let cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes.
2. Add the sausages and brown them evenly, add the wine and let cook on a low heat for at least two hours, stirring occasionally. If the ragù becomes too dry, add a ladleful of vegetable stock every time it’s needed.
3. Clean and slice the mushrooms. Add them to the meat the last 15 minutes of cooking. Add some more stock if necessary. Stir well. Season lightly if needed (keep it conservative, as the ragù is already quite savoury due to the seasoning in the sausages). Once cooked, cover and set aside in a warm place.
4. Prepare the béchamel. Melt the butter in a saucepan on low heat, add the flour and stir well. Keep cooking for a couple of minutes, always stirring, then add a little milk at the time, incorporating it well into the roux before adding some more. Once all the milk has been added, raise the heat to medium, and stir until the sauce has thickened. Season with little salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cover and set aside in a warm place.
5. Prepare the lasagne sheets: even though it might be indicated on the package not to pre-cook them, I do advice to cook them in boiling salted water (about 9 minutes for dried lasagne and a couple of minutes for the fresh lasagne). This is because the sauce used to season the lasagne is rarely watery enough to cook them thoroughly, and you will end up with uncooked, hard pasta that will ruin your lunch experience. Be careful not to overlap the cooked sheets, otherwise they will glue together making it impossible to handle them.
6. Preheat the oven at 170˚C/ gas mark 3. Take an oven dish of roughly 30cmx23cm. Spread a little béchamel sauce over the bottom. Cover with a layer of lasagne, then evenly spoon a third of the ragù over it, drizzle some béchamel sauce over, finally sprinkle it with the mixed grated cheese. Keep layering this way –lasagne, ragù, béchamel and grated cheese (you should get three layers) - until all the ingredients are finished. Terminate with a layer of lasagne, the béchamel and plenty of grated cheese. Put it in the oven and cook for 60 minutes.
7. Take the lasagne out of the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Spaghetti Lasagna

8 ounces of dry spaghetti
•           1 medium vine ripe tomato
•           one and a half cups of marinara sauce
•           one fourth cup of chopped yellow onion
•           2 tablespoons of finely chopped garlic
•           half cup of small chopped blocks of sharp cheddar cheese
•           half cup of crumbled feta cheese
•           1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped sun-dried tomatoes
•           Italian spices
•           Olive oil to coat the pan
•           Cook the spaghetti as directed.
1.         Pre-heat oven at 375 degrees.
2.         Drain the spaghetti and spread it into an olive oil coated 8 by 8 inch baking or casserole dish.
3.         Spread a half cup of marinara sauce on top of the spaghetti.
4.         Slice the tomato into about 8 slices and layer each slice over the sauce.
5.         Spread the onion and garlic evenly over the tomato slices.
6.         Spread the remaining 1 cup of marinara sauce over the onions and garlic.
7.         Spread the cheddar cheese pieces and the feta evenly over the sauce.
8.         Add a sprinkle of your Italian spices over the food creation.
9.         Lay the pieces of sun-dried tomatoes over the spices.
10.       Place the dish in the oven at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Allow the dish to cool a bit after cooking, yet best when served warm and fresh.


Spaghetti alla Matriciana

1/2 Lb - Spaghetti
o          1/2 Cup - Guanciale or Pancetta
o          3 Cups - Crushed tomatoes
o          1/2 Cup - White wine
o          1 Medium onion
o          1/2 Cup - Pecorino romano
o          1 Peperoncino
o          2 Leaves fresh basil
o          EV olive oil
o          In a large saute` pan add 3 Tbs of EV olive oil.
o          Chop the onion finely and saute` it in the oil.
o          Add the pancetta and let it brown slightly.
o          Add the white wine and let the alcohol evaporate.
o          Add the crushed tomatoes, the peperoncino and the basil.
o          Cook for another 10 minutes.
o          Boil the spaghetti very "al dente" and pour into the saute` pan.
o          Add 3 Tbs of pecorino romano and mix for 2-3 minutes.
o          Serve by adding a generous sprinkle of pecorino romano.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

boil the pasta in water (4 quarts)
1.         salt water as desired. Boil the pasta al dente
2.         while the pasta is cooking, in a bowl beat well the eggs with a little salt and pecorino and some fresh pepper
3.         in a pan fry the guanciale with a little EV olive oil
4.         when pasta is ready, drain it and  quickly add the guanciale along  with oil and eggs from the top
5.         toss the pasta immediately and very quickly as the heat of the pasta will cook the eggs
6.         you may also want to toss it on the  flame for 1 more  min to cook the eggs a little more
7.         garnish with fresh pepper and pecorino

Risotto alla Milanese

1/2 Lb - Risotto Arborio
o          1 Small onion finely chopped
o          1 Stick - Butter
o          1 Cup - White wine
o          Parmigiano cheese
o          Pinch of saffron
o          Several cups of chicken broth
o          In a large pan melt 1/2 stick of butter and let it melt.
o          Add the chopped onion and saute` until the onions is translucent.
o          Add the arborio rice and mix well into the butter and onion.
o          Add the wine. When the alcohol is completely evaporated add a 1 cup of chicken broth. At this time also add the saffron filaments and mix well.  The rice will begin to turn yellow.
o          Do not let the rice get dry. Continue to add chicken broth a bit at the time while you continuously stir the rice.
o          When the white internal part of the rice has disappeared and the rice is soft and fluffy, you are ready for process of Mantecare.
o          Add the additional 1/2 stick of butter (soft) and three Tbs of Parmigiano cheese to the rice. Mix well until the butter is completely melted and serve by adding another sprinkle of Parmigiano cheese.