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Genovese pastries from Sicily

Erice is a hilltop, medieval town in Sicily with narrow cobblestone streets, a Norman castle and a fabulous bakery called Maria Grammatico. The eponymous bakery has plentiful Sicilian treats including these pastries known as “Genovese.” While staying in Erice last month, I was perplexed by the name of the pastry, which refers to the town of Genoa, nowhere near Sicily. After returning home, I found a couple of explanations in La Cucina Italiana : “The name of this delicacy – which is not at all Sicilian – probably comes from its shape, which resembles the cap of Genoese sailors who stopped at the ports of Sicily between 1300 and 1500. Another hypothesis, which is decidedly more romantic, claims that the genovesi come from the love between a girl from Erice and a young Ligurian boy: the girl gave the name to the dessert she made for her beloved.”

No matter the origin, genovese are delicious, and are filled with a lemony custard, enveloped in a shortbread pastry, or pasta frolla. Maria spent 15 years in a convent after her father died and her mother was left with six children to raise amid the poverty of post-World War II Sicily. It was a difficult life, with little to eat, although the nuns made pastries to raise funds, and Maria absorbed that knowledge and opened her own shop in 1963. Her account of growing up in the convent is one of loneliness and hardship and is recounted in her book, “Bitter Almonds”, written with Mary Taylor Simeti. The book includes various recipes, including this one for Genovese.

Be careful not to overcook the custard, or you could end up with scrambled eggs. I ran the custard through a sieve to eliminate any possible lumps.

Roll out the dough, place a heaping spoonful of the filling on top, then moisten the edges with water and place another disc of dough on top, pressing down to seal the edges.

Bake until just barely tan.

They are served warm at Maria’s shop, sprinkled with powdered sugar.

They’re delicious at room temperature too.

Here are just a few of the other treats for sale at Maria Grammatico’s:

martorana (almond paste) fruits:


and a fig-filled ring (buccelatto or cuccidato):

A trip to Erice is like a trip back in time, with its tiny cobbled streets and alleys:

And the castle of Venus, a 12th century Norman castle:

The 14th century duomo and bell tower:

And the stunning views from Erice out to Trapani and the Mediterranean Sea:

Check out Ciao Chow Linda on Instagram here to find out what’s cooking in my kitchen each day (and more).

Genovese pastries from Sicily
  • 1¾ c. flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 Tablespoons ice water
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup sugar plus 2 Tablespoons
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1½ cups milk
  • grated zest of ½ lemon
  2. Place the flour, sugar and egg yolks in a food processor and whir until blended.
  3. Add the ice water a tablespoon at a time until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.
  4. Do not add too much water or it will be difficult to work the dough.
  5. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and form into a flat disc.
  6. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
  8. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a small heavy saucepan without turning on the heat.
  9. Dissolve tthe cornflour in a quarter of the milk in a glass or mixing cup, then gradually add the rest of the milk and mix well.
  10. Slowly pour the milk mixture into tthe egg mixture, whisking until blended.
  11. Place over low heaat and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring constantly, until shiny and very thick, the consistency of pudding.
  12. Or cook in a double boiler for 20 to 25 minutes.
  13. Stir in tthe lemon zest.
  14. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap placed directly on top of the cream.
  15. Cool and refrigerate until ready to use.
  17. Cut the dough into four parts.
  18. Work with one part and keep the rest refrigerated.
  19. Roll out thinly and cut out circles, using a 3 inch biscuit or cookie cutter.
  20. Place about a tablespoon or slightly more of the filling in the center of one of the discs.
  21. Wet the perimeter of the disc with water, then top with another disc and press down on the edges.
  22. Bake on parchment paper in a 375 degree oven for 15 -20 minutes until tops are slightly tan in color.
  23. Cool briefly and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
  24. Best eaten warm but delicious at room temperature too.


Sicilian Potato Salad and Cooking With The Duchess in Palermo

  • May 17, 2023

On my recent trip to Sicily, I had the good fortune to cook with literary nobility. Let me explain. The above recipe from the cooking session appears at the end, so if you’re here just for the food, skip to the bottom of this post. But then you’d miss learning about a slice of Sicilian history.

One of my all-time favorite books is “The Leopard” by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. I first read it in Italian (“Il Gatttopardo”) more than 30 years ago, and have read it in English twice since. It’s a masterpiece of literature and considered one of the 100 greatest books ever written, chronicling the decline of Sicily’s aristocracy, and the rise of the middle class during the unification of Italy in 1861, known as “Risorgimento.” Initially rejected by publishers, it was published in 1958, a year after the author’s death, and went on to become an international success, selling more than 3 million copies, in more than 30 languages. The book was also adapted into an opulent (and excellent) movie in 1963, starring Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale.

Tomasi di Lampedusa, who was himself a prince, modeled the main character (Don Fabrizio, Prince of Salina) after his great grandather, Don Giulio Fabrizio Tomasi, another prince of Lampedusa.

The book’s main character was modeled after the author’s great grandfather, who was an amateur star-gazer, as is the protagonist in the book.

In the book, the prince dotes on his nephew and “adopted” son, Tancredi, while in real life, the author, who had no heirs, really did adopt his distant cousin, Gioacchino (Giò) Lanza Tamasi, who was already part of a different Italian aristocratic family.

Sadly, as I was writing this blog post, I learned that Giò died last week in his Palermo home – Palazzo Lanza Tamasi on via Butera, the palace that was once home to Lampedusa after his original home on via Lampedusa was bombed during World War II.

Palazzo Lanza Tamasi

A few weeks ago, I found myself sitting next to Giò during a luncheon in the 17th century palazzo, following a wonderful day of shopping and cooking with his wife Nicoletta, the duchess. Although duke and duchess, they were extremely down-to-earth and use their first names in introductions.

It almost seems trivial to write about our deliciously fun day of cooking last month after learning of Giò’s death this week, but the classes are vital in maintaining the palazzo, since upkeep on Palermo palaces doesn’t come cheap. There are a number of apartments in the palace that Nicoletta rents out to visitors also. If you’re planning a trip to Palermo, do yourself a favor and check out her website: Butera 28.

We began the day with a short trip to one of the city’s markets — Capo — to buy provisions for the lunch, then Nicoletta directed us in the preparation for the various courses. The menu was printed for everyone, headlined by the family crest:

We strolled through their ample patio overlooking the sea, to harvest herbs and lemons for the meal:

 We all took a hand in chopping, squeezing, peeling, stirring or whatever needed to be done — from the youngest —

to the oldest (my husband and I, without a doubt)

Through it all, the energetic Nicoletta directed us with humor but also the conviction of a drill sergeant — “No, that’s still not chopped finely enough….” or “You missed some of the flesh, keep scraping the eggplant….”

She cooked right alongside us, with a knowledgeable and sure hand in whatever task was needed. The kitchen was equipped with a fabulous batterie du cuisine:

And plentiful local ingredients, including capers from Pantelleria, which were used in the recipe at the end of this post.

When our preparations were complete, we sat down to a multi-course lunch in a gorgeous dining room overlooking the sea.

During lunch, it was a privilege to sit next to Giò. He was an accomplished music critic, author, professor, director of several theater and opera companies during his lifetime, and one-time director of the Italian Cultural Center in New York, just to name a few of his numerous achievements. He was keeper of the flame for his adopted uncle’s literary heritage, and with his death, it also feels like the last living legend of “Il Gattopardo” has also gone.

Nicoletta gave us a tour of the palazzo after lunch, starting with the vast library:

There were several sitting rooms, including this one with yellow upholstered furniture, precious tapestries, art work, and Venetian chandeliers.

Another room in the palace:

With a photograph of Giò and Nicoletta earlier in their 40-year marriage:

In addition to paintings with historic, religious or mythical subjects, family ancestors were also captured for posterity:

Including a couple of sketches of family members by Picasso:

But for me, the highlight of the tour through the palace was seeing the original manuscript of “Il Gattopardo” written in Lampedusa’s own handwriting.

It’s sad to think he didn’t live long enough to see the success and popularity of his masterpiece.

Here is a photo of the author with more of his handwritten manuscript:

The members of the cooking class had come from the U.S., France and Germany and were a happy, easy-going group of travelers.

While there were several courses, I’m posting the recipe for just one here — a potato salad that would be perfect for that picnic you might be thinking about now that the weather has warmed. I came back from Sicily armed with the salted capers from Pantelleria that Nicoletta uses in this recipe. I also brought back sea salt from nearby Trapani, where salt has been harvested for decades. If you aren’t planning a trip to Sicily, you can buy both online from The photo below is the dish we prepared that day, using the famed red onions from Tropea, impossible to find in the U.S. In the absence of those, supermarket red onions will stand in just fine.

We were too late to rent an apartment at Palazzo Lanza Tamasi. However, we rented a modern apartment in Lampedusa’s original palazzo that was bombed on Via Lampedusa, very centrally located in a quiet street.

The entrance includes a wall with writings from Lampedusa:

There are several apartments for rent. If you’re interested, send me an email and I will send you the rental info:

Check out Ciao Chow Linda on Instagram here to find out what’s cooking in my kitchen each day (and more).

5.0 from 1 reviews
Sicilian Potato Salad
  • 2 pounds (1kg) of potatoes
  • 1 pound (1⁄2 kg) of tomatoes, optional
  • 1⁄4 cup of salt preserved capers
  • 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
  • 1 medium red onion
  • Good red wine vinegar
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Small new potatoes and Roma or San Marzano tomatoes would be ideal for this recipe.
  1. Steam the potatoes until done, peel and cut them in large chunks.
  2. Put them in a bowl, let them cool.
  3. If using, cut also the tomatoes in bite-size pieces, seed them and add them to the potatoes.
  4. Thoroughly but delicately rinse the capers and gently pat them dry.
  5. Thinly sliced the onion in rings.
  6. Add the capers and the onion rings to the bowl.
  7. Sprinkle the oregano and the pepper.
  8. In a little jug, mix the oil and the vinegar (1/3 of vinegar and ⅔ of oil).
  9. Dress the salad with this mixture just before serving, otherwise the potatoes absorb all the oil and become soggy.
  10. Serves 6-8.




Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

  • May 8, 2023

It’s the season for those chunky red stalks of rhubarb right now — and I can’t think of anything that pairs better with rhubarb than strawberries. It’s a little early for local strawberries, but the ones I’ve been buying from my supermarket have been pretty good lately. It’s a quick dessert that’s easy to make. Mix the cut chunks of fruits with some sugar and lemon, then top with the oatmeal crumb topping and bake for a half hour. Let it rest for 1/2 hour or it will be quite runny. It’s delicious by itself, but top it with some premium ice cream (life is too short for the cheap stuff) for an even more delightful treat.

Check out Ciao Chow Linda on Instagram here to find out what’s cooking in my kitchen each day (and more).

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
  • 3 cups fresh rhubarb, sliced into pieces aboutt ½ inch thick.
  • 3 cups strawberries, cut into large pieces
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • dash of cinnamon
  • grated peel of one lemon
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup oatmeal
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup butter, cut into pieces
  • dash of cinnamon
  1. Mix the berries, rhubarb, sugar, cornstarch, lemon peel and cinnamon together thoroughly.
  2. Place in an ovenproof casserole.
  3. Mix the topping ingredients together in a bowl, using your fingers to blend the butter with the other ingredients.
  4. Don't worry about getting everything finely blended.
  5. You can leave some of the butter in larger pieces.
  6. Place the topping over the fruit and sprinkle with a little more cinnamon.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F. for ½ hour.
  8. Let it cool at least ½ hour before serving.
  9. Great with ice cream.


Stuffed Fluke Rollups

  • April 27, 2023

I’m just back from Sicily where I ate fish almost every day (sometimes twice a day) but I also indulged in too many pastas, prosciutto and pastries. The scale doesn’t lie and it told me I gained six pounds in the three weeks I was gone. The older I get, it seems the harder it is to lose weight, despite all the walking I did on my trip — most days at least 12,000 steps and one day even 21,000 steps (or 7 miles)! It’s all about what goes in the mouth, and I’m paying for it now, but I don’t regret one cannolo or plate of busiate. But I need to do a detox or I’ll look like a cannolo myself.

This fish dish is healthy, easy to prepare, tastes great and is pretty low-cal too. If you want to make it for company, you can prepare it ahead of time and bake at the last minute, while you enjoy a cocktail with your guests. The recipe is for two people, but it easily doubles or triples to feed more. I live in New Jersey where locally caught flounder or fluke is easy to find. This would also be delicious with sole or snapper. The shrimp I buy are wild-caught too, from U.S. waters. I’m very skeptical of quality control in shrimp or any fish (frozen or otherwise) that comes from Asia, so I typically seek out only wild caught seafood from the U.S.

Season the filets with salt, pepper and paprika and place the filling at one end.

Roll up the pieces and keep the open end on the bottom.

Place them in a casserole lined with lemon slices, then sprinkle salt, pepper, paprika and minced parsley on top. Place a few pats of butter on top, but don’t overdo it. For this recipe of three pieces, I used only a tablespoon of butter. Pour the wine around the fish and bake, covered with aluminum foil until it flakes easily. If you make this ahead of time, be sure to remove from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature, or you’ll need to bake it longer in the oven.

I always like to serve rice with a dish like this, to sop up some of the flavorful juices. I’ve gotten quite partial to brown rice over the years, not just for its nutritional advantages, but also its nutty taste.

The three pieces, weighing less than a pound, were more than enough for the two of us, when served with the rice and snow peas. Any green vegetable, like broccoli, green beans or spinach, would also pair well with this dish.

Check out Ciao Chow Linda on Instagram here to find out what’s cooking in my kitchen each day (and more).

Stuffed Fluke Rollups
  • 3 pieces of fluke or flounder filet (all three pieces weighed about ¾ lb.)
  • 4 or 5 medium size uncooked wild caught shrimp, cut into pieces
  • 3 thick slices of firm Italian or French bread, trimmed of crusts and cut into pieces
  • 1 egg, beaten (but only use half the egg)
  • 1 medium size shallot, minced
  • 1 small piece of celery, finely diced
  • minced parsley
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • paprike
  • 2 tbsps. of butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • white wine to pour around fish (about ½ cup)
  1. Place the olive oil and one tablespoon butter in a saucepan and cook the shallots and celery on low heat until they are transparent.
  2. Place the bread in a bowl with the shrimp and the sauteed vegetables.
  3. Add the seasoning (salt and pepper) and the parsley.
  4. Pour in about ½ the beaten egg and mix with your hands.
  5. It should stick together somewhat.
  6. If not, add more egg.
  7. Dry each fish filet and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Divide the filling mixture evenly and place at one end of the filet.
  9. Roll up the filet and place in a casserole lined with lemon slices.
  10. Season the top of the filets with salt, pepper and paprika, and place a tbsp of butter on top, dividing among the three pieces.
  11. Pour the wine around the fish.
  12. Cover with aluminum foil and bake aat 375 degrees for about 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Spinach Sformato

  • April 3, 2023

Spring is finally here and that means a return to all the leafy green vegetables associated with the changing season — including spinach. This recipe takes the humble spinach up a few notches, and would make the perfect first course to your Easter or Passover meal. Plus it can be made ahead of time (actually it’s easier to unmold if you do make it ahead of time).

I used two boxes of frozen spinach, but you could substitute fresh spinach if you prefer. The sformati get baked in small ramekins in a bain marie (water bath) to ensure even cooking.

This recipe makes anywhere from six to eight servings, depending on how high you fill the ramekins.

I like to bake them ahead of time, chill them (overnight is fine) then reheat in the microwave until warm, and flip them out. Serve them with an irresistible fontina cream sauce that’s a cinch to make, then top with toasted pine nuts.

Dig into this luscious morsel of springtime.

Check out Ciao Chow Linda on Instagram here to find out what’s cooking in my kitchen each day (and more).

Spinach Sformato
  • (eight ½ cup serving)
  • 2 boxes frozen spinach, thawed
  • 2 cups milk or a combination of milk and cream
  • ½ stick unsalted butter, plus more for greasing molds
  • ¼ cup flour plus 2 T.
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt, white pepper, to taste
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup shredded fontina cheese
  • optional: toasted pine nuts
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  1. Thaw the boxes of spinach in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Remove the paper from the boxes of spinach, and squeeze as much water out of it using your hands.
  3. Butter seven or eight ¾ cup oven-proof custard cups or flan molds and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Place the squeezed spinach between paper towels and squeeze more water from it.
  5. Chop the spinach finely in a food processor.
  6. Heat the milk in a saucepan until warm and little bubble start to form.
  7. In another saucepan over low heat, melt the butter, then add the flour and stir and cook for a couple of minutes until smooth.
  8. It will start to get “pasty,” but that’s fine.
  9. Add the milk and continue to stir constantly, using either a whisk or wooden spoon, for about five minutes.
  10. Let the mixture cool slightly, then add to the spinach in the food processor and whir until everything is well blended and pureed.
  11. Beat the eggs and add the parmesan cheese.
  12. Add the eggs and parmesan cheese mixture to the spinach mixture in the food processor and whir until everything is mixed.
  13. Pour into the buttered molds and put the molds in a bain-marie or hot water bath.
  14. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the sformati are puffed slightly and feel just firm to the touch.
  15. Remove the molds from the water and let them rest for a few minutes minutes before trying to unmold.
  16. If you unmold too soon, they won’t hold their shape.
  17. They actually hold their shape better the next day when you reheat them.
  18. I reheated them by microwaving them in their molds, then flipped them out onto individual plates.
  20. Place the heavy cream in a saucepan, and reduce until it coats the back of a spoon.
  21. Remove from heat, add the fontina and stir.
  22. Spoon the fontina cream sauce around the spinach sformati.
  23. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts to serve.

Warm Spiced Sweet Potato Soup

  • March 24, 2023

Whenever I’m in London (where my daughter and her family live), I try to get to one of Yotam Ottolenghi’s restaurants, which are scattered throughout the city. On my most recent visit a few weeks ago, we ate lunch at his Marylebone location — a fun neighborhood not just for eating, but for good shopping too and home to the fabulous Wallace Collection. It was a cold March day and this soup, with warm spices and topped with feta cheese, was the perfect antidote to the chill outside. I tried recreating it at home, but couldn’t find the exact recipe in any of his cookbooks. So I searched a bunch of different ones online and came up with this recipe, which was every bit as delicious as the one I ate in London. It may even have usurped my favorite cold weather soup till now of butternut squash. The two vegetables are very similar in flavor when used in soups, especially after infusing the soup with all the spices. I used about three and a half pounds of potatoes, which made enough soup to serve at least 8-10 people. You can cut it in half if you prefer, or just freeze the leftovers for another day.

I served the soup to company a couple of weeks ago, and included a tray of accompaniments on the table — a small pitcher of warmed cream, some feta cheese, olive oil, and pepitas (pumpkin seeds). The soup is delicious all by itself without any cream or other toppings, but it’s nice to give guests the options, if you have them.

The version at Ottolenghi (photo below) was served with feta, a drizzle of olive oil and chopped chives and it was perfect.

Check out Ciao Chow Linda on Instagram here to find out what’s cooking in my kitchen each day (and more).

5.0 from 1 reviews
Spiced Sweet Potato Soup
Serves: makes at least 8-10 servings
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 2 large stalks of celery, diced
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into slices
  • 4 large sweet potatoes (about 3½-4 pounds), peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 T. zatar
  • 1½ teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you want to keep it vegetarian)
  • 2 cups water
  • optional accompaniments:
  • heavy cream, warmed to drizzle on top
  • crumbled feta cheese
  • pepita or sunflower seeds
  • olive oil to drizzle
  1. Saute the onions in the olive oil until golden brown.
  2. Add the celery and saute until softened.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer until vegetables are tender, about ½ hour to 45 minutes.
  4. Use a stick blender or a regular blender to homogenize everything and eliminate any lumps.
  5. Add more water if the soup is too thick.
  6. If you have leftover, it will thicken more overnight in the refrigerator, so add more water then too.
  7. Top with optional ingredients



Latvian Stew

  • March 13, 2023

I served this stew to my book club during the monthly dinner we hold in conjunction with our book selection. We try to prepare food that has a connection to the book, and in this case, it was Amor Towles, “A Gentleman In Moscow.” It’s a book that I’ve read twice now, and could read it again and again, for its witty, elegant style and its urbane central character, a Russian count who is confined by the Bolsheviks in Moscow’s famed Metropol Hotel, and is relegated to a tiny garret from his opulent suite. The book is filled with myriad references to food and wine, as well as history, music, politics, friendship, family ties and more. But the overarching theme of the book to me, at least, is one’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances and not only tolerate them, but find the joy in them.

At one point in the book when the count is in the hotel’s main dining room, he sees a young man struggling to order something from among the extensive (and mostly expensive) items on the menu to impress his date, but one that won’t break the bank.

The young man’s gaze drifted back and forth between these opposing hazards. But in a stroke of genius, he ordered the Latvian stew. While this traditional dish of pork, onions, and apricots was reasonably priced, it was also reasonably exotic; and it somehow harkened back to that world of grandmothers and holidays and sentimental melodies that they had been about to discuss when so rudely interrupted.”

Further, when the headwaiter, who is later to become the count’s nemesis and manager of the Metropol Hotel, suggests an expensive Rioja wine, the count overhears this and recoils, knowing that the Spanish wine is not only too  expensive for the young man, but the wrong wine to accompany the stew. Overriding the headwaiter’s suggestion, (and foreshadowing a future perilous confrontration) the count interjects and says “If I may, For a serving of Latvian stew, you will find no better choice than a bottle of Mukuzani.”

While there are food references galore in the book, the Latvian stew scene cinched the deal for me, and I was determined to find the Mukuzani wine to serve along with the stew to my book club compatriots. It was easier to find than I imagined, and was not only delicious, but at $10.00 a bottle, was a real bargain.

There are several recipes for the stew on the internet, but the one I settled on came from the website “A Little And A Lot.” Even so, I changed it somewhat to eliminate the liquid smoke she used, to add more carrots and increase the amount of pork. I also found that after cooking the stew at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours, it was bubbling too much and the liquid was reducing and thickening too quickly. The meat was already nearly tender, so rather than cook the meat for another hour at the same temperature as the recipe suggested , I lowered the temperature to 200 degrees, added a little more water, and let it gently simmer for another hour in the oven until my guests arrived.  Make sure to use a boneless pork shoulder because it needs the fat marbling to produce succulent, tender meat. I bought mine at Costco and there was actually too much outer fat on my pork roast, which I trimmed. From a piece of meat that weighed 6 pounds at the start, it was only 4 1/2 pounds after I finished trimming it — more than enough to easily serve 8-10 people.

The other members of the bookgroup contributed other foods either mentioned in the book, or aassociated with Russian or Slavic cuisine, starting with a delicious appetizer of ponzu salmon and avocado toast:

First course of borscht:

Traditional vegetables served in Russia: salad, potatoes and cabbage:

And for dessert: a multi-layered honey cake —

and chocolate “kielbasa”

Check out Ciao Chow Linda on Instagram here to find out what’s cooking in my kitchen each day (and more).

Latvian Stew
  • Inspired by Amor Towles and a Latvian Stew recipe from the website, A Little and A Lot
  • 4 lbs (48oz) boneless pork shoulder
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil.
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 6 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 4 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups (1183ml) water
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 7 oz dried apricots
  • 7 oz prunes (dried plums)
  • ½ cup (about 1oz/ 13g) chopped fresh Italian parsley
  1. Cut pork into 2-3 inch pieces.
  2. Trim any excess fat.
  3. Lay the pork on a plate or baking sheet that has been lined with paper towels. Blot the pieces of pork on all sides with another paper towel to dry.
  4. Sprinkle the pork on all sides with a generous amount of salt and pepper.
  5. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (232 degrees C).
  6. Add oil to a large, heavy bottom, ovenproof saucepan or dutch oven.
  7. Set it over medium high heat until the oil is very hot and shimmering.
  8. Add the pork and cook, turning the pieces in the hot oil every so often, until the pieces are browned on all sides.
  9. Remove the pork from the pan with tongs or a slotted spoon.
  10. Add the chopped onion to the pan and cook over medium heat until soft and translucent.
  11. Add minced garlic, tomato paste, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
  12. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
  13. Add carrots and browned pork to the pan, stirring to combine.
  14. Remove the pan from the heat.
  15. Stir together the paprika and flour, sprinkle it over the meat and vegetables, and toss everything around in the pan to coat.
  16. Put the pan in the preheated oven, uncovered, and let bake for 5 minutes.
  17. Remove the pan from the heat, stir, and then bake uncovered for an additional 5 minutes.
  18. Remove pan from the oven.
  19. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C).
  20. Add 5 cups of water and worcestershire sauce to pan.
  21. Stir, being sure to scrape up any brown pieces from the bottom of the pan.
  22. Set it over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
  23. Stir in the dried apricots.
  24. Cover the pan and place back in the oven.
  25. Let cook for 1 ½ hours.
  26. Remove pan from the oven and stir in prunes.
  27. Cover, place back in the oven, and cook for 1 hour longer - OR, until the meat is very tender. (NOTE: Although the original recipe says to cook for another hour, it was tender much before the second hour was over, and bubbling a lot, so I lowered the temperature to 200, added a little more water and let it cook for another hour at the lower temperature, waiting for my guests to arrive. It was perfect.)
  28. Remove the pan from the oven and taste; add more salt if needed.
  29. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

Butternut Squash Tart

  • March 5, 2023

Sometimes the best meals come from digging around in the refrigerator to clear things out just before a trip. A few days before leaving on a recent trip to London, I roasted a piece of butternut squash that had been hanging out in my fridge for a while, and combined it with some other flotsam and jetsam on the shelves, including a leftover piece of fontina cheese, half a container of ricotta and a bit of heavy cream. The combination of ingredients turned out to be an inspired match, and I won’t be waiting for leftovers to make this again. Start out by cubing the squash and roasting in the oven with olive oil and seasoned salt at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until softened. Note: I used only about half of this in the tart.

Make sure you blind bake (prebake) the crust so you don’t end up with a soggy bottom.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and gently pour into the tart shell, then bake it for almost a half hour.

The results are creamy, cheesy and wickedly good. It’s nearly the same as a quiche, but the ricotta brings it some extra oomph. Serve with a salad on the side for a complete meal.

Check out Ciao Chow Linda on Instagram here to find out what’s cooking in my kitchen each day (and more).

Butternut Squash Tart
  • 2 cups butternut squash cubes, roasted in the oven at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, with a drizzle of olive oil, and sprinkling of seasoned salt.
  • ¾ cup ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated fontina (or Swiss, mozzarella or cheddar)
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • a small bit of fresh parsley, minced
  • pastry shell, homemade or store-bought
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Make or buy the pastry and place in a 9" tart pan.
  3. Prick the dough in the pan, and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes
  4. Place a greased sheet of aluminum foil in the tart shell and place pie weights inside (I use a combo of beans and rice that I've had for more than 30 years.)
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the aluminum foil and pie weights and bake another five minutes.
  6. With a whisk, beat the eggs with the ricotta, cream, seasonings, salt and pepper, parsley and cheese.
  7. Place the tart pan on a cookie sheet (I spray mine first with PAM), and gently pour the filling into the prebaked tart shell.
  8. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 30 minutes.
  9. Raise heat to 400 and bake for another 5 minutes or until top is a little golden.

One-bowl Chocolate Cake

  • February 20, 2023

There are times when I (or my husband) crave a homemade chocolate-y dessert but don’t want to make it a big production. If you’ve ever felt that way, this is the perfect recipe for you. This cake is made in one bowl, without using a mixer —  a whisk or wooden spoon and a bowl is all you need. Plus it tastes out-of-this-world delicious — fudgy, moist and tender. I found the recipe on The Seasoned Mom website while searching for a chocolate cake to make with the leftover buttermilk in my fridge. If you haven’t got buttermilk, no problem. Just add a few squirts of lemon juice or vinegar to regular milk and let it sit for 10 minutes or so. The original recipe makes a much larger cake — calling for twice the ingredients and a 9″ x 13″ baking pan. However, I cut everything in half and baked it in an 8″ x 8″ pyrex pan. It is the perfect snack cake, and one I’m sure I’ll rely on time and time again in the future. The Seasoned Mom topped her cake with a ganache-type frosting, but I made a buttercream frosting instead. It stays nice and soft on the cake, while ganache hardens. Either way, I’m sure you’ll love this cake.

Check out Ciao Chow Linda on Instagram here to find out what’s cooking in my kitchen each day (and more).

5.0 from 1 reviews
One-bowl Chocolate Cake
  • Cake recipe from "The Seasoned Mom" website
  • 1 cup all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup whole buttermilk
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½ cups confectioner's sugar
  • 4 tablespoons milk, or more as needed to achieve a creamy, spreadable consistency.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrrees.
  2. Grease and flour an 8" x 8" baking pan.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powdr, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add the egg, oil and buttermilk and vanilla, whisking well to combine.
  5. Add the hot water and whisk until the batter is smooth.
  6. Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan.
  7. Tap gently on the counter to release any air bubbles.
  8. Bake forr 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserved in center comes out clean.
  9. Let cool, then frost if desired, or just sprinkle with powdered sugar.
  11. Beat all ingredients together in a mixer, beating until creamy and smooth.
  12. Start by adding half the milk, then add the other half, or more to achieve a spreadable consistency.
  13. Top with chocolate jimmies (sprinkles) if desired.

Almond and Fig Torte

  • February 8, 2023


Fresh figs are months away here in New Jersey , but this cake makes use of dried figs, readily available any time of year. My dad’s wife made this cake years ago and gave me the recipe, one she got from her local newspaper, but it’s attributed to chef Al Paris, of Philadelphia’s (now closed) Heirloom and Paris Bistro restaurants. With almond paste as one of its ingredients, the fragrance alone is inviting. The flavor is every bit as delicious as the smell that will permeate your kitchen while in the oven, and the texture is dense and moist.  The recipe calls for dried figs, but once fresh fig season arrives, this would be delicious with those as well.
Check out Ciao Chow Linda on Instagram here to find out what’s cooking in my kitchen each day (and more).
Almond and Fig Torte
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
  • ¾ c. sugar
  • 12 ounces almond paste
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 T. vanilla extract
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • ½ cup almond flour, sifted
  • 1 cup dried black mission figs, stemmed, halved, and soaked in hot water
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 10-inch springform pan with butter.
  3. Add the remaining butter and sugar to the bowl of a standing mixer.
  4. With the paddle attachment, cream until fluffy.
  5. Add the almond paste, eggs, and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
  6. Add the baking powder and almond flour and mix until incorporated.
  7. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  8. Drain the figs and then arrange them cut-side up on top.
  9. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the figs. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until the edges of the cake are browned and the center is set. (
  10. The cake will be dense and soft, with the texture of almond paste.)
  11. Turn the oven off, crack the door of the oven, and let the cake rest in the oven for 20 minutes more. Slice and serve.