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Ossobuco di Piero .. Piero's Braised Veal Shanks
Cannoli di Ricotta

serves 4


4 veal shanks about 5-6 inches in diameter, less than 1 inch thick)

odori = 1 carrot, 1 small onion, 1 stalk of celery, handful of parsley 

meat broth

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper


Finely chop the odori and put them in the bottom of a casserole with abundant olive oil, place the meat on top add salt and pepper and set the flame to medium. Add a ladle of warm broth and cover. When the broth begins to bubble, flip the meat, lower the flame and cover. Check periodically to turn the meat and make sure the pan doesn't dry out (add more broth if necessary). Let the meat cook for about 3 hours until it's falling-apart tender and a rich, dark sauce has formed in the bottom of the pan.

Sunday lunch recipe of  the

wise and hearty Piero di Sanino

(Pietro Dogolini), ready for

anyone who stopped by on their

way down or up the mountain.

Pesto alla Trapanese .. Pesto from Trapani

serves 4


big handful of basil leaves

4 cloves garlic

1.5 oz (40 g) peeled almonds

sale grosso, big salt or coarse salt

4 mature tomatoes

      or the equivalent in cherry tomatoes

about 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3/4 lb of long pasta


If you want to remove the skins from the tomatoes you can pierce the skin with a knife and drop them into boiling water for a minute or until you can easily peel away the skins. Chop the tomatoes into pieces discarding the seeds.

Peel the cloves of garlic and chop each into 3 or 4 big pieces.

Roughly chop the almonds.

In a mortar and pestle crush the garlic and basil with big salt. Add the almonds and reduce them to small pieces, it should be a  chunky mixture.

Add the tomatoes and crush them into the garlic almond paste just enough to make a thick mixture that hangs together.

Stir in just enough olive oil to make a kind of sauce.

Boil the pasta (usually the long, twirly busiati) in salted water until it is al dente reserving some of the pasta cooking water.

Dress the pasta in a serving bowl tossing it with the pesto and adding some of the pasta cooking water to help the sauce coat the pasta.


Using the mortar and pestle brings out the essential oils of all the ingredients exalting the flavors and also making a creamy consistency. Although the effect is a bit different you could use a food processor or an immersion blender but be careful to not over process, the sauce should be chunky.


or coppatedde for a simple country version 


Cannoli are called cannoli when their shells are formed by wrapping the dough around a piece of canna (these days a metal tool has replaced the typical piece of cane or bamboo) and then frying them to make a tube-like shell. In the Sicilian countryside Aunt Francesca makes an alternate sandwich version called coppadtedde.

for the pastry shells 

1 cup flour 

2 T sugar

2 T extra virgin olive oil 

2 T Marsala or white wine

1 T strong coffee

1 egg yolk 


Mix the liquids with the sugar and then stir in the flour. Mix well, knead well to form a ball adding flour if the dough is too sticky, adding Marsala if the dough is too dry. It should be the consistency more or less of pasta dough. Roll through a pasta machine or use a rolling pin, folding and turning several times, to make thin sheets of dough (about 1/8 inch thick, not transparent) and prick with a fork. 


For the tube shells, cut the dough into 10cm squares and wrap around the tube fixing the overlap with an egg wash, fry in hot oil (170-180C / 325-350F) until they are a dark golden color, drain on paper towels.


For the coppatedde use a glass or biscuit cutter to cut the dough into circles about 3 inches in diameter, fry in hot olive oil until dark and golden, drain on paper towels.


for the filling

1 lb ricotta

up to 1/2 lb sugar or to taste (or to taste)

flavoring options: cinnamon to taste, or lemon zest if you prefer (lots of it says aunt Francesca who gave me this recipe), finely chopped zuccata (that’s the green candied cucuzza squash) or some chopped chocolate although chocolate arrived in Sicily over 400 years after this recipe was invented.

Beat the ricotta with the sugar, or pass the ricotta through a sieve and mix it with sugar, it should be very creamy.  Stir in the lemon zest or other flavoring you choose. 

Most traditional recipes for cannoli filling use zuccata or candied citron, but the lemon peel is the better option if you haven’t made zuccata lately since most store-bought versions of candied fruit taste medicinal; if you can get a good one use it, otherwise I suggest lemon zest or cinnamon. 


for decorating

candied cherries

pistachios chopped finely

powdered sugar


Assemble right before serving otherwise they will get soggy. For cannoli use a sac à poche to fill the pastry tubes, dip the ends in chopped pistachios or decorate with candied fruit, sprinkle with powdered sugar.  For the coppetedde spread the ricotta cream on one side of one of the little pastry cups, top with another pastry cup, roll the edges in finely chopped pistachios and sprinkle with powdered sugar.


pasta alla gricia (aka alla Grisciano)

serves 4-5-6 

depending on your appetite and what else you're serving


150 g (5 - 5.5 oz) guanciale sliced into very thick julienne

cured hog jowl, or use cured pancetta 

60 g (2 - 2.5 oz) grated sheep milk cheeses

salt and freshly crushed black pepper

400 g (14 oz) short format pasta

(paccheri, mezze maniche, calamarata, rigatoni, etc.)


Boil the pasta in salted, boiling water. Cook the sliced guanciale in just enough olive oil that it doesn't stick in the beginning until it forms bit of a crust and the fat is translucent. When the pasta is al dente lift it from the water adding it directly to the hot pan with the guanciale. Stir it together adding a bit of the pasta cooking water if necessary to create a little creamy coating, turn off the heat, stir in abundant grated cheese and freshly crushed black pepper and serve or transfer to a serving bowl immediately.    

thanks to the shepherds

of the Monti Sibilini for

the earthy goodness of their

combination of ancestral flavors 


pasta all'Amatriciana

serves 4-6


200 g (7 oz) guanciale sliced into very thick julienne

cured hog jowl, or use cured pancetta 

swirl of extra virgin olive oil

5-6 small tomatoes, peeled (use a mix of different tomato varieties, canned or fresh in summer)

60 g (2 - 2.5 oz) grated sheep milk cheeses (pecorino romano plus a milder pecorino)

salt and freshly crushed black pepper

400 g (14 oz) thick spaghettone or a short format pasta

(paccheri, mezze maniche, calamarata, rigatoni, etc.)


Boil the pasta in salted, boiling water. Cook the sliced guanciale in just enough olive oil that it doesn't stick in the beginning until it forms bit of a crust and the fat is transluscent. Add the tomatoes to the hot pan squishing them with your hands, there should still be some bits of tomato visible when serving. Stir to cook and let the tomatoes reduce until you have an almost dry  pan. When the pasta is 2 minutes from being done (check the cooking instructions on the package) lift it from the water directly into the pan with the guanciale and tomatoes. Add a ladel of the pasta cooking water to the pan and finish cooking the pasta in the tomato liquid. When the pasta has absorbed the liquid and is al dente turn off the heat, stir in crushed black pepper and enough grated sheep's milk cheese to make it turn a light orangey-pink, serve or transfer to a serving bowl immediately.


pasta all'Amatriciana should be just barely coated with tomato and decidedly not swimming in sauce

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Frittella .. Spring Vegetables

serves 4-6


4.5 lbs fava beans (in the pods)

2.2 lbs peas (in the pods)

some asparagus

4 artichokes

2 stalks green garlic, or a few new onions, or a few cloves dried garlic

extra virgin olive oil


fresh ricotta

salt & pepper


Shell all the beans.

Prepare the artichokes by removing all tough exterior parts (remove the outer leaves, cut off the top 1 inch or so, pare the heart/stalk), cut into quarters and remove the choke and chop into medium dice.

Slice the garlic in rough julienne and let it cook a good amount of olive oil. When the garlic is transparent add the vegetables with some salt and pepper and let them cook...


for a pasta topping or side dish:

add a tiny bit of water and let the vegetables cook for about 10 minutes or so, remove from the heat and stir in finely sliced mint. Serve them as is for a side dish or ladel them into a bowl of pasta together with some pasta cooking water and top with a big spoonful of creamy, milky, fresh ricotta.


for a soup: 

to the vegetables add 4 cups of water,

cover and let them simmer for 1 hour or

until the vegetables are wilty. Serve in a bowl

with the broth and top with a poached egg.


for the poached egg:

bring a pot of water to a boil with a teaspoon or so of white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Stir vigorously to make the water swirl, tip an egg into the center of the swirl and let it boil for 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a dishcloth or paper towel to blot it dry before adding it to the soup.

Torta di Ceci .. chickpea flour crepe

makes 1 10” round pan

this is a typical street food on the Tuscan coast

and islands, also known as cecinaceciata



1 1/3 cups (150 g) chickpea flour

2 cups (450 ml) water

6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 

salt and back pepper


Make a smooth, runny batter with the flour, water, 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, ½ teaspoon of salt and black pepper to taste. Mix well with a whisk and let it rest for several hours.

Preheat the oven to 220C/430F. Coat the pan with 3 Tablespoons of olive oil, pour in the runny batter and  bake in a hot oven for 25-30 minutes, it will be golden and sort of bubbly looking on top and a little crimped at the edges. Serve hot.

Fennel flowers are really good here too although that's more of a Sicilian idea, they use them sometimes in panelle, a fried version of torta di ceci.

Both can be eaten in sandwiches, in western Sicily you eat a panino con le panelle with lots of salt and lemon juice (lemon juice being another excellent Sicilian addition to consider), along the coast of Tuscany and Liguria you eat a 5&5 (cinque e cinque): 5 lire of focaccia filled with 5 lire of torta di ceci


focaccia barese .. tasty, oily good flat bread from Bari

makes 2 10” rounds


2 1/2 cups (350 g) all purpose flour 

1 1/2 cups (250 g) rimacinata (very fine durum wheat semolina, run coarse semolina through or order some rimacinata from Molini del Ponte in Castelvetrano)

1 1/2 cups (340 ml) total water 

12 grams cake yeast (1/2 a cake) or follow the instructions on your yeast package

1 heaping teaspoon (5 g) sugar

1 waxy potato boiled and smashed with a fork, circa 5 oz (150 g)  

2 teaspoons (10 g) salt

1 lb (450 g) small tomatoes (if out of season let them shrivel in a warm oven, 140C / 280F for 1- 2 hrs)


20 or so green olives  

extra virgin olive oil 



Put the water on to boil.

Melt the  yeast with the sugar in a

few tablespoons of warm water (take it from the pot as you are bringing the water to a boil).

Using a mixer with the dough hook attachment (or by hand in a big mixing bowl) add both flours, the smashed potato and most of the hot water (which has just boiled) and mix together for 1 minute. Add the yeast/water/sugar and mix 7 minutes.  

Add the salt and the rest of the water (which has now cooled somewhat), raise speed and mix for 7 more minutes adding 2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil at the very end. 

Generously oil a sheet pan and your hands. Divide the dough into two and fold the edges under to make two smooth rounds. Cover and let them rest in a warm place for two hours (or in the refrigerator overnight).  

Preheat the oven to maximum temperature 480 F / 250 C or 500 F / 260 C.

Very generously oil the baking pans and your hands, spread each round into a 10” baking pan or onto a sheet pan using your fingers to flatten it out into an even disc. 

Top with tomatoes breaking them open with your hands so that the juice falls onto the dough. Press olives gently into the dough. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and with a lot of fragrant dried oregano. Drizzle very generously with extra virgin olive oil.  

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes in a very hot, static oven until the bottom is golden, the edges are a bit black and the tomatoes just begin to look toasty. Serve hot, warm or room temperature.

risi e bisi .. brodoso / brothy rice & peas

serves 4


generous 2 lbs (1 kg) peas in the pod

5 1/2 cups (1300 ml) vegetable broth

4 Tbs (60 g ca) butter

new spring onions or 1 small white onion, finely chopped

1.7 oz (50 g) rigatino or pancetta (unsmoked bacon), in small cubs

1 3/4 cups (350 g) vialone nano or other short grain rice (carnaroli, arborio, roma etc.)

extra virgin olive oil

small bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

1.5 oz (40 g) grated parmigiano

salt, white pepper


Make a light vegetable broth by boiling carrots, celery, onion, parsley, etc. in salted water for about an hour.

Shuck the peas keeping the pods. Rinse the pods and boil them in 5 1/2 cups of vegetable broth, covered, for 30 minutes. Purée with an immersion blender and pass the puréed pods through a sieve to remove the fibrous parts. Keep warm or rewarm before using it.

In a high sided casserole melt half butter with the finely chopped onion and sautée just until translucent, add the chopped pancetta and cook for a few minutes until the fat is translucent and just begins to brown at the edges. Add the peas, a bit of extra virgin olive oil and 2 ladles of hot water or vegetable broth and boil for 5 minutes. Add the pea pod purée and bring to a boil, add the rice and stir. Let the rice bubble gently until the rice is al dente and the whole thing is brothy but not as loose as soup. Remove from the heat (the rice will continue to cook and to absorb liquid), season with salt if necessary and white pepper, stir in the butter, parsley, grated cheese and a swirl of extra virgin olive oil.  It should be quite loose, al onda / like a wave. Eat it hot with a spoon.

olive oil brownies

makes 16 brownies


3/4 c (112 g) flour 

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp flaky salt

2 eggs

1 cup (200 g) sugar

seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean split lengthwise and scraped with the back of a knife

1/2 cup high quality, extra virgin olive oil 

6 Tbs (50 g) cocoa 

3/4 cup (60 g) hazelnuts, toasted, finely chopped 


Mix together the flour, and baking powder and set aside. 

Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla on until the eggs are light and voluminous. Mix in the olive oil and the cocoa, then the reserved flour mixture and then the nuts.

Prepare an 8 x 8 x 2 inch pan by coating it lightly with olive oil and flour.

Spread the batter into the pan, sprinkle with flaky salt and bake at 325F/170C for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the center comes out reasonably clean but not too clean. Cool in pan, cut into squares to serve. 


Aunt Ida’s Pound Cake, Olive Oil Version

makes 1 tube pan, 2 large loaf pans or 3 smaller loaf pans

1 cup (250ml) high quality, extra virgin olive oil 

3 cups (600g) sugar
seeds from 1 vanilla bean split lengthwise and scraped with the back of a knife

3 cups flour (450g)                    

9 eggs
Oil and flour the baking pans, and line with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit the bottom of the pan.
In an electric mixer, mix olive oil, sugar and vanilla until well combined. Add the eggs 3 at a time with 1 cup of flour until they are all used, mixing well after each addition.
Pour batter into prepared pans and bake at about 325F/175C for 60-65 minutes (80 minutes for the tube pan). Cool in pan. 

‘a parmigiana di zucchine .. zucchini parmigiana

for a small pan of 6 portions, about 7 x 9”


Agata's calabrese parmigiana .. perfection in a savory, rich, harmonious amalgamation of flavors. The better known form of this recipe is made with eggplant, prepared in exactly the same way substituting slices of eggplant for the zucchini and leaving out the salame.


1.5 kg / 3 lbs white zucchini (the pale green kind if you can find them, if not any zucchini will do)

extra virgin olive oil

finely ground semolina 

provola (relatively fresh, not aged, soft, mild, cow’s milk cheese)

parmigiano reggiano, grated

soppressata / a rough grain calabrese salame with some hot pepper, thinly sliced

2 hard boiled eggs, thickly sliced

tomato puree

2 cloves garlic

handful of sweet basil



Slice the zucchini in rounds that are roughly 1/2” thick or less, toss them with salt and let them sit in a colander to release liquid for 20-30 minutes (do not rinse). Dry the zucchini thoroughly in a clean dish cloth, toss in flour or corn meal and fry in olive oil until golden.      


Make a simple red sauce with the tomato puree, enough water to clean out the bottle, 2 whole cloves of garlic, a handful of  sweet basil leaves and salt to taste. Let it boil for about 10 minutes or until it reduces slightly.


Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of a baking pan, cover with a thick layer of overlapping slices of fried zucchini and then add in layers: small spoonfuls of tomato sauce, a sprinkling of grated parmigiano cheese, a layer of thinly sliced provola, thick slices of hardboiled eggs, a few small bits of very thinly sliced salame (don’t overdo the salame, it’s best if it’s just a suggestion of flavor), and few more spoonfuls of sauce. Top with another thick layer of overlapping slices of fried zucchini, a sprinkling of grated parmigiano and a tiny bit of sauce. 


Bake at 180C/350F for 20-25 minutes until the cheese melts and the top browns a bit. Serve warm or room temperature. 


RESTRAINT with both the sauce and with the salame is key.

If you can't find a good (coarse grain, hand-made) calabrese salame, leave it out. 

If you can't find provola you can substitute with any young, mild, cow's milk cheese (note that provolone is aged longer and therefore more pungent than provola and so not appropriate for this recipe).