Murales in Bushwick, Brooklyn



This mural has stunning colors!




TMS: The Meatballs Store
That is what it reads on the left of the door.


… some more



How to go there:
From the Jefferson Street stop on the L line to the Lorimer Street stop of the G/L line (basically walked along the L line)

Stuffed Cubanelle (and not) Peppers

Here I am, back to my NYaldente-kitchen after a long and beautiful summer!

I made these stuffed peppers already twice as they are really delicious. The first time I used Cubanelle pepper,  and the second time I used some sweet yellow bell peppers. Both versions are very good. By the way, I made more than two but most of them were gone before I could take a picture! That is how good they are  😉


  • 500 g of peppers
  • 150 g bread (discard the crust, use only the white mollica)
  • 50 g of Parmesan cheese grated
  • 30 g of black pitted olives (I use Nicoise, Gaeta or Calamata olives)
  • 20 g of capers
  • parsley
  • 1/2 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • milk
  • 2 Tbsp white wine
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Remove the crust from the bread and cut the mollica (the white soft part) in one or two inches cubes. Put he bread in a bowl, almost cover with milk and let it soak.

In the mean time cut the top part of the peppers, and remove the seeds and the white parts from the inside. Keep the top with the stem to use as a decoration for the final dish.

Prepare the stuffing in a bowl. Squeeze well the bread from the milk, add the olives, capers, chopped parsley, grated Parmesan cheese and the garlic. Add a bit of white wine, pepper and salt. Mix well.

Heat the oven to 180C ( 360 F)

Take a baking dish (I cover it with parchment paper) and spread some olive oil on the bottom. Stuff the pepper (not completely otherwise the stuffing will overflow cooking) and put them in the baking dish. Bake in the hot oven for 40 or 50  minutes, or until the peppers turn slightly brown.

Quick Octopus Salad

Octopus salad is a great summer dish. This is my quick version, instead of boiling the octopus I buy the marinated octopus sold in the delis (Fareway and Grace’s in New York have it, and also any Greek grocery store should have it). I then freshen up the octopus with chopped fresh vegetables and some dressing.


  • 1 lb of octopus
  • 1 cup of grape tomatoes
  • 1 or 2 celery stalks
  • 1 scallion
  • parsley
  • chili pepper, as you like
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • salt

Chop the octopus in smaller pieces, cut the grape tomatoes in half , chop the celery, scallion and parsley. Mix all the ingredients and dress with some good extra virgin olive oil, hot chili pepper, lemon juice, and salt (not too much salt, only enough for the vegetables because the octopus is already salted).

If you like you could add a bit of crushed garlic, and/or some red or yellow bell pepper chopped in small pieces.

Serve with lettuce salad.

Baba Ganoush

Any time I prepare this middle eastern eggplant dip it disappears in no time, it is delicious! It can be served as an aperitivo or antipasto with fresh bread, toasted if you like, some pita, or some crudités.


  • one whole eggplant
  • parsley (a handful of cleaned leaves)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 Tbsp tahini
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt
  • extra virgin olive oil, and red hot chili pepper for garnish

Grill a whole eggplant for about 20 or 25 minutes. I use a heavy non stick pan, turn the stove on medium-high, and grill the eggplant turning it 90 degrees every  6 or 5 minutes until each side is roasted and the interior is soft.

Then place the eggplant on a plate and peal it. The skin should come off relatively easy. Discard the skin and the stem. Cut the eggplant and let it cool. Do not discard the liquid released by the eggplant. I usually discard the seeds with the help of a spoon.

Chop finely the garlic and the parsley.

Use an immersion blender to blend the eggplant, salt, parsley, garlic, tahini, and lemon juice.Blend until you obtain a cream. Adjust salt and lemon juice to taste.

Put the eggplant cream in a bowl, and garnish with some extra virgin olive oil and thin slices of fresh red chili pepper.

Freedom Tower Work Progress

A few weeks ago I was walking along the Hudson River Park and I was admiring the reshaping of Lower Manhattan skyline.

I took this picture showing the Freedom Tower under construction (as of May 2012).

Pasta with Fried Eggplant and Grape Tomatoes.

This is a variation of the Pasta alla Norma, a Sicilian recipe for pasta with eggplant, tomato sauce, and ricotta salata. Instead of making a tomato sauce I used grape tomatoes. For a lighter version of this recipe you can simply saute the eggplant instead of frying.

Ingredients (for 4 servings)

  • 1 medium egg plant
  • 1 quart of grape tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • hot pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • parsley
  • basil and mint
  • ricotta salata (or pecorino cheese)
  • flour
  • oil for frying

1) Heat the peanut oil in a small pot for deep frying the eggplant.

2) Clean the eggplant, cut it in small cubes and roll them in flour so that they will be covered with a thin layer of flour.

3) Fry the eggplant cubes, few at at a time, and put them on a plate covered with kitchen paper to dry. Add some salt to the fried eggplant.

4) Cut the grape tomatoes in halves, and finely chop some parsley.

5) Warm up some olive oil in a wok, and add a clove of garlic halved and a bit of hot chili pepper (if you like it). When the garlic begins to be golden add the tomatoes and then the parsley. Season with salt and pepper. And let cook just a few minutes.

6) Boil the pasta.

7) When the pasta is ready, drain it and add it to the sauce in the wok. Let it blend on a medium heat and at then add the grated cheese. Mix for a few seconds.

8 ) At the end add the fried eggplants, some chopped basil and mint. Some more cheese, if you like, and serve.

Spaghetti al Ragu di Triglia (Red Mullet)

Spaghetti with Red Mullet Sauce.

Today’s recipe really brings the flavor of the Mediterranean sea to the table. It is quite a while that I wanted to make a sauce for spaghetti with Red Mullets or Rougets (Triglie in Italian) and I  am very satisfied with the result! Definitely a recipe to repeat!

Any time I eat Triglie  I think of my favorite Italian police inspector Salvo Montalbano, from the novels of Andrea Camilleri. He lives and works in Sicily, he is a foodie and Triglie  are one of his favorite dishes.

I bought the Red Mullets at Citarella and they cleaned it for me but did not fillet it, so I had to do it myself. I first cut the head and then split the fish in halves separating it from the central bones. I pulled one by one the bones that still were left in the fish meat.

Ingredients (for two to three servings)

  • 3 red mullets (about 1 lb) cleaned and filleted
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • dry white wine
  • finocchietto selvatico (wild fennel)
  • 3 tomatoes on the vine
  • parsley
  • red chili pepper
  • sugar and salt

First stir fry the fish

Fillet each mullet and cut it in 4 pieces. Heat about 2 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in a pan. Finely chop half of the the garlic and add it to the warm oil. When the garlic start to become golden add the fish and saute for a few seconds. Add some white whine and let it evaporate, but not completely. Finally add some “finocchietto” (wild fennel) and let cook one more minute.

Then prepare a sauce “a crudo” with the tomatoes.

Peel the tomatoes and chop them in small cubes. Finely chop a good amount of parsley and the other half of the garlic clove. If you like it also finely chop just a bit of red chili pepper. In a wok heat 2 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, add together the tomatoes, parsley, garlic and the chili pepper. All the ingredients are added at the same time, this is why it is called “a crudo”. Cook for a minute or two adding 1/2 tsp of sugar and salt. Then add the fish and let cook for one more minute.

Cook the spaghetti al dente, drain them, and add them to the wok with the sauce. Let the flavors blend on high flame for just few seconds. Add some freshly chopped parsley and serve.

Biscotti with Almonds and Orange

This is a recipe to make a “hard” crunchy version of the classic biscotti called Cantucci. I added some of my home-made candied orange rind.


  • 150 gr sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • a pinch of salt
  • 250 gr all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp candied orange rind
  • 140 gr whole almonds
  • milk

1) Put the eggs with the sugar in a bowl and whisk very well until light and foamy.

2) Add the vanilla extract, a pinch of salt, and slowly add the flour while mixing with the flat beater attachment.

3) Add the candied orange peal, and the whole almonds. Mix well with a wooden spoon.

4) Pour the dough over a working surface well dusted with flour. Shape the dough. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and transfer the dough on it. Brush the surface of the dough with some milk and sprinkle it with some sugar.

5) Bake in the oven preheated to 356F for 25 min or until golden.

6) When golden take it out of the oven, let it cool down for five minutes and then slice it.

7) Lay the slices back on the baking sheet and bake for 5  more minutes. Then turn the slices on the other side and bake for other 5 minutes. Keep an eye on them so they do not darken too much.

8 )  Lay the biscotti on a grid to cool down.


Thin Rosemary Focaccia

This thin rosemary focaccia is excellent eaten hot, just out of the oven. Can be enjoyed by itself, with salad, or with a platter of cheeses and salumi.


  • 2 cups of bread flour
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp of dry yeast
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • for the topping: extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, rosemary

In a bowl, mix the bread flour with the all purpose flour.

Use an electric mixer to knead the dough.

Pour half of the flour in the mixer’s bowl.

Add mostof the water keeping 1/3 of a glass aside.

Warm slightly the water kept in the glass and use it to melt the yeast. Add the melted yeast into the mixer’s bowl.

Add the olive oil.

Mix well until all ingredients are smoothly mixed.

Add the salt to the remaining flour and slowly add it into the mixer’s bowl as it is kneading the dough.

When all of the flour is incorporated into the dough, let the mixer knead the dough for 10 more minutes.

Transfer the dough in a glass or plastic bowl, cover with clear plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place for 60 minutes. I put it inside the oven turned off with the oven light turned on. The dough should be more than doubled in volume. Take it out of the oven.

Position a pizza stone in the lower part of the oven, on the second rack from the bottom.

Heat the oven to 500F (260 Celsius), use both the upper and lower heat if possible.

Roll less than a quarter of the dough into a very thin (1/8″)  rectangle about 16″x11″.

Spread extra virgin olive oil on the thin focaccia ( be generous), sprinkle with sea salt and rosemary leaves.

When the oven is hot put the focaccia on the pizza stone and bake for 3 minutes.


Branzino al Sale

A very healthy and simple way to cook fish is to bake it completely covered with salt. This cooking method preserves all the moisture and flavor of the fish. You just need a whole fish simply cleaned of scales and insides (head and tail should not be removed), kosher salt, and aromatic herbs.


  • one branzino of about 1 lb (serves 2 people)
  • kosher salt
  • aromatic herbs (parsley and thyme)

1. Heat the oven to 400F.

2. Place some parchment paper on a baking sheet, I usually slightly wet the baking sheet with some water so that the paper adheres.

3. Place a layer of kosher salt on the baking sheet.

4. Lay the fish on the salt. Insert the aromatic herbs (whole sprigs) in the fish belly, and close it well so that salt will not go inside the fish when you cover it with salt.

5. Cover the fish with salt entirely (leave just the tail off).

6. Bake for 20 minutes.

7. When the fish is baked, take the salt off and transfer the fish on a dish. Take the skin off from the top and bring it to the table to be portioned.

You can eat it as it is, or with a bit of extra virgin olive oil.

Good side dishes could be salad, asparagus, or  zucchini.

Wine suggestion: Nigel Gruner Veltliner from Austria.