Because the best things in life are simple

Tuscan

Tuscan-Style Fried Sage Leaves

Tuscan-Style Fried Sage Leaves

The light batter is reminiscent of tempura: another example of the similarities between Asian and Italian cuisine.

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers The Way My Mother Made Them

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers The Way My Mother Made Them

Light, crisp, delicate and delicious.

Mushrooms Stuffed With Nepitella Pesto

Mushrooms Stuffed With Nepitella Pesto

Nepitella is a cross between basil and mint and pairs perfectly with mushrooms.

Picture Perfect Bread

Picture Perfect Bread

(Above: Head baker and manager Ben Tock of Bricco Panetteria in Boston’s North End. ) I wrote a story for the Boston Globe about a North End bakery that specializes in old world Italian bread. I thought a Globe photographer was scheduled to take photos at […]

The 12 Treats of Christmas

The 12 Treats of Christmas

There are some foods I make every year around Christmastime. They are tried and true classics that continue to make taste buds happy year after year. And each year, I also try some new recipes. Some stick and become a classic, others fade away either […]

Risotto (This time with mushrooms and eggplant)

Risotto (This time with mushrooms and eggplant)

Making risotto is not hard, but it is an art.

Patata Ball In Tomato Sauce

Patata Ball In Tomato Sauce

This makes a great first course or can be served as a side dish.

Pork Cutlets With An Express Marinade

Pork Cutlets With An Express Marinade

I made this one up Monday night with ingredients I had on hand. It was quick and easy to make and very garlicky. In other words, it’s a healthy dish. Ingredients: Pork cutlets (about 1 pound) Garlic powder (2 tbspoons) Paprika (2 tbspoons) Dried sage […]

Eggplant and Mushroom Stacks

Eggplant and Mushroom Stacks

I improvised this dish one night using ingredients I had on hand. The taste is savory, sweet, and comforting. And it’s something that can be whipped up in about half an hour. Ingredients: 1 Eggplant (Make sure it’s firm, shiny and a dark purple. This […]

What’s Cooking This Christmas

What’s Cooking This Christmas

So here’s what I cooked up this holiday season. I started by making a couple of hundred Befana cookies, a traditional Italian Christmas cookie with flavors of sugar, orange, lemon, almonds and anisette. I then moved on to try something new: chocolate bark with orange […]

Cookie Cutters Just In Time For Christmas

Cookie Cutters Just In Time For Christmas

These vintage babies arrived in the mail this week. Every Christmas I make Befana cookies and look for cookie cutters in the shape of the four playing card suits (that’s how my grandmother made them) but had no luck until this year. Last week, I found […]

It’s Time For Bolognese

It’s Time For Bolognese

I’ll admit I made bolognese sauce a couple of times over the summer. But this rich, thick, meaty sauce is usually more appropriate with cooler times. One way to look forward to the cooler seasons approaching is to think of all the seasonal delicacies you […]

Make Biba’s Mother’s Fried Meatballs For Your Valentine

Make Biba’s Mother’s Fried Meatballs For Your Valentine

These are so delicious they’re an act of love. Like all good things they take a little work but aren’t the loved ones in your life worth it? Restaurant owner and cookbook author Biba Caggiano has the best recipe for meatballs or polpette (as the […]

Simplicity at its Lemon-Roasted Best

Simplicity at its Lemon-Roasted Best

My friend Jeannie gave me the most beautiful cookbook for Christmas. It’s part of Williams-Sonoma’s “Authentic Recipes of the World” series. And this one focusses on the city of Florence. Northern italians cook simply with the freshest and best ingredients at hand. And that’s what […]

Some of My Favorite Things (for the Holidays)

Some of My Favorite Things (for the Holidays)

You’re busy enough this time of year. And so am I (which is one of the reasons I haven’t updated this site recently). So here are some of my favorite recipes that will hopefully help you out around the holidays: Asian Shrimp Salad: Looking for […]

Gnocchi Di Pollo E Patata Soup

Gnocchi Di Pollo E Patata Soup

This is chicken and potato gnocchi soup from the classic nineteenth century Italian cookbook, The Art of Eating Well, by Pellegrino Artusi.

Lasagna, from The Figs Table

Lasagna, from The Figs Table

Chef Todd English makes a good lasagna. I still remember one I had at his Olive’s Restaurant in Boston that was made with veal. He has a knack for taking an old standard and then being innovative, without being preposterous, paying more attention to the […]

Making Dinner During a Heat Wave

Making Dinner During a Heat Wave

Afternoon thunderstorms gave some relief from the Greater Boston area heat wave today. And so, I returned to the kitchen after a week of take out, cold cereal, and quick omelette dinners. But it’s still hot. So what’s a well-intentioned cook to do? Tonight, I’m […]

Nine Recipes That Will Make Your Cookout Memorable

Nine Recipes That Will Make Your Cookout Memorable

The unofficial kickoff of the summer season is only a week away (Memorial Day Weekend). So break out the grill and try one (or more) of these nine time-tested recipes. Your guests won’t forget these simple, extra touches. And here’s some music to grill by, […]

Chicken Basilico

Chicken Basilico

I found this recipe stashed away in the deep recesses of the RootsLiving library. The details of how I created it are sketchy. The last time I made this was probably 10 years ago. And I’m guessing I created it by working with ingredients I […]

Rum, Yum: How a Midnight Snack Was Born

Rum, Yum: How a Midnight Snack Was Born

Tricia had a craving for oatmeal with blueberries one night. She had been reading about this dish in a magazine or saw an ad there and mentioned it sounded good. So I said, we have frozen blueberries. I’ll add them to some oatmeal and we’ll […]

Vegetable Lasagna Masterpiece

Vegetable Lasagna Masterpiece

(This recipe is based on a spinach lasagna recipe from Pomodoro’s Restaurant in Boston’s North End. However, I incorporated some techniques learned from Cook’s Illustrated magazine and added some tricks of my own — the addition of tomato sauce to the bechamel sauce and pine […]

Soup and Sandwich Night With Style (Instead of Take-Out)

Soup and Sandwich Night With Style (Instead of Take-Out)

So maybe you forgot to go shopping or make a dinner plan. You’ve worked all day and now you have the dreaded task of figuring out what’s for dinner. You hate to spend money on take-out again: a pizza, subs, chinese food, etc. But you’re […]

A Gift: Smothered Escarole (Scarola Affogata)

A Gift: Smothered Escarole (Scarola Affogata)

I came home the other day and found a plastic bag filled with four heads of escarole tied to my back fence. There was no note: just the mystery lettuce left hanging there. I didn’t bring it in right away. After all, I live in […]

Little Ears Filled With Eggplant & Sausage

Little Ears Filled With Eggplant & Sausage

I can’t pass up a good-looking eggplant. If I see one at the grocery store I buy it, regardless of my dinner plans for the week. This is because a good eggplant is not always easy to find. I’d say there’s about a 50/50 chance […]

Chicken Parmesan (or beef or veal)

Chicken Parmesan (or beef or veal)

This recipe works for chicken parmesan, beef parmesan or veal parmesan. If you want to make beef or veal parmesan, buy good quality beef or veal cutlets and omit the sage. (Good veal should be pink, not brown or gray.) My mother often made the […]

Tomato Sauce

Tomato Sauce

Here’s my standard tomato sauce recipe. I got this from my mother who was an excellent cook. I’ve changed a few things over the years, adding touches of my own and some embellishments from my cousins in Italy. It’s great to use when making chicken, […]

Pane alla Cioccolata (Chocolate Bread)

Pane alla Cioccolata (Chocolate Bread)

This lightly sweetened bread is great with a cup of coffee or a glass of red wine. The recipe comes from “The Italian Baker” cookbook, by Carol Field. I’ve made this several times before but this time it tasted better than ever. The texture was […]

Meal Plan: Julia meets Bruna

Meal Plan: Julia meets Bruna

This makes a great hearty meal in the winter.

Christmas Befana Cookies

Christmas Befana Cookies

La Befana is an old woman who visits children in Italy on Jan. 6 in celebration of the Epiphany. Similar to Santa Claus, she enters their homes through the chimney in order to deliver gifts. Small towns throughout Italy celebrate her arrival each year, including […]

Ribollita Soup

Ribollita Soup

Also known as “Tuscan Bean Soup,” this is a real crowd pleaser.

Easy Weeknight Pasta

Easy Weeknight Pasta

Sometimes you need a recipe like this to remind you how easy perfection can be. This is a simple tomato and pasta dish that dates back to the classic Italian cookbook, “The Art of Eating Well,” published in 1891 by Pellegrino Artusi. Artusi travelled throughout […]

RootsLiving Wins First Place, and Third Place in Wine Competitions

RootsLiving Wins First Place, and Third Place in Wine Competitions

BREAKING NEWS OCT. 7, 2009: THIS JUST IN — Wine made last year in the RootsLiving wine cellar took first place in the Zinfandel category at this year’s Topsfield Fair. This was the first time the RootsLiving wine cellar entered one of its wines in […]

Pressing the Grapes

Pressing the Grapes

The wine stopped fermenting on Oct 7, exactly 10 days after it began. This seems to be the usual amount of time it takes in the RootsLiving Cellar. Once the wine stops fermenting (you can tell when it stops gurgling), the juice is taken out […]

Shhh! Don’t Disturb: Nature At Work

Shhh! Don’t Disturb: Nature At Work

Come a little bit closer. Now be quiet. Hear that? No? Well click here or on the photo and put your ear up to your speakers. Here’s a video I made of 480 pounds of grapes fermenting in the RootsLiving wine cellar. This is the […]

Calling on Nature For A Good Batch of Wine

Calling on Nature For A Good Batch of Wine

It’s September and once again I’m calling on nature because the wine grapes have been picked and shipped across country and are ready for me to start crushing them into a purple concoction of bliss. Making wine is spiritual. You have to believe in a […]

Eggplant Parmesan Light

Eggplant Parmesan Light

(The first in an occasional series of low-calorie meal recipes.) I should weigh 1000 pounds. After making, eating and writing about food for RootsLiving – with recipes such as Ma’s Stuffed Peppers, Mac and Cheese for Adults, Chicken with Polenta,  and Italian Cheeseburgers — I need […]

Take a Four Minute Trip to Italy (Audio Slideshow)

Take a Four Minute Trip to Italy (Audio Slideshow)

(Click here or the photo above to watch an audio slideshow on the doors and windows of Italy. To watch it full screen, click on the arrows in the lower right corner of the slideshow.) With the euro high and the economy weak I thought […]

Corn, the Way Mario Makes It

Corn, the Way Mario Makes It

Mario Batali is very clever. In his new book, “Italian Grill,” he offers a recipe called “Corn, as Italians would eat it.” He never says this is a recipe he got in Italy or this is an Italian recipe, passed down from generation to generation. […]

Grilled Braciole Fit For a Saint

Grilled Braciole Fit For a Saint

No need to sweat in a hot kitchen for this one. This braciole is cooked outside on the grill and with outstanding results. “San Rocco Braciole” is a specialty of the St. Rocco Feast in Malden, Mass. and was created by Malden City Controller Domenic Fermano. […]

Prized Recipe: Chicken with Polenta

Prized Recipe: Chicken with Polenta

(Special thanks to professional food photographer Russell French for photographing this meal. His photos appear courtesy of Russell French Studio.) This is one of my prized recipes. My grandmother, Bruna, used to make this and it was my favorite dish when I was a little […]

Italian Fried (not really) Chicken

Italian Fried (not really) Chicken

I call this dish, Italian Fried Chicken, which is a misnomer because there is no frying involved. But the end result — with it’s moist, breaded, and savory crust — is reminiscent of that traditional American favorite. I got the basic recipe for this dish […]

Best Coffee and Spice, and at a Reasonable Price

Best Coffee and Spice, and at a Reasonable Price

When you walk into Polcari’s Coffee store in Boston’s North End it’s like walking back in time: a very fragrant time. The scent of more than 40 different types of coffee beans mingles with the scent of a 100 different freshly ground spices to create […]

A Must-Have Wild Italian

A Must-Have Wild Italian

Nepitella completes the trifecta of Italian herbs that are a must-have in any Tuscan kitchen. You know about oregano and basil, but what is nepitella? It’s an herb like no other and one I wouldn’t dream of living without. Some describe it as a cross […]

Grilled Pork Chops with Peppers and Capers

Grilled Pork Chops with Peppers and Capers

This was the first recipe I made out of my newest cookbook, Mario Batali Italian Grill, and the results were amazing. My wife Trish commented that she had a hundred flavors mingling in her mouth while she ate this. And although the recipe says it […]

The Real Rocky

The Real Rocky

My friend Joe Gemellaro is one of the most talented artists I know. He has a knack for recreating the human form, especially faces. It is a gift he was born with. Shown here is a study of a portrait Joe drew of Brockton native […]

Italian Cheeseburgers and Fries

Italian Cheeseburgers and Fries

OK, so I know cheeseburgers and fries are an American staple: one that would be hard — if not sacrilegious — to try to improve. But looking through the Artusi (a classic Italian cookbook written in the late 1800s), I found two recipes that are […]