Mum’s Buffalo meatballs

Meatballs are a staple in a variety of cusines , but the Italian version always springs to mind first , draped in a zesty tomato basil sauce and topped with freshly gated parmesan cheese . Cook up some pasta , and you are ready to eat . This is a homestyle , ” sunday ‘ type dinner in our home , simple , rustic and so satisfying .  These are baked and not fried as we like to keep fat to a minimum . Please remember buffalo meat is naturally very low in fat so do not overbake them or they will be dry.

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

1 lb ground Bison ( Buffalo meat )

2 large eggs , beaten

1 cup fresh bread crumbs

1 small bunch fresh flat leaf parsley , finely chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1 small spanish onion , finely chopped

5 garlic cloves , minced

1 tbs heavy cream

1 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

salt and black pepper , to taste

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes ( optional )

Preheat oven to 350*F . Spray a foil lined baking tray with olive oil or Pam cooking spray .

Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl . Do not squeeze , keep the mixture well mixed but not tight . Form teaspoonfuls of meat mixture into meatballs and place them on the prepared baking tray.

Bake till just cooked through , about 20 minutes .



Warm chicken salad with capers , olives , and tomatoes

Living in NYC was a real treat ,  we were treated to some of the best food choices possible . One of my favorite restaurants was Campagna , with chef , owner Mark Strausman . He created this great salad , which , to me , is a whole meal served simply with a great crusty piece of bread  ( hot and fresh , preferably ! ) .

Makes 4 to 6 meal -size servings

Mark Strausman , Campagna Restaurant

8 oz mixed baby salad greens  , or a mixture of your choice ( I actually love Romaine and baby spinach )

6 large boneless , skinless chicken breast halves , cut into strips.

Salt and freshly ground pepper

All purpose flour , for dredging

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup top quality balsamic vinegar , preferably aged

1 tsp capers , rinsed

3 plum tomatoes , diced

12 black brine cured olives , such as Nicoise or Gaeta , pitted

20 fresh basil leaves , torn into small pieces

1/4 cup extra virgin oil

Arrange salad greens on serving  plates.

Season chicken strips with salt and pepper . Working in batches , spread  1/2 cup of flour out on a plate and dredge chicken in flour , shaking off excess . Meanwhile in a large skillet , heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat . Add the chicken as it is dredged and cook , stirring occasionally , until browned . Remove the chicken to a plate .

Wipe out the skillet with paper towels and add the balsamic vinegar . Heat over medium heat until simmering . Add browned chicken and toss to coat . Add the capers , tomatoes , olives , basil and salt and pepper to taste . Toss , add the olive oil , and toss again

Divide the chicken mixture on top of the greens , gring pepper over the top and serve immediately .


Penne with pistachios , Asparagus and cream

For years Mary Ann Esposito  has been inspiring us with her Italian creations. There is really no greater convience food than pasta to me, it is the ultimate pantry staple, seriously. Here Mary Ann has combined this dish with fresh asparagus , but I have used fresh or frozen artichokes too, feel free to substitute pistachios for pine nuts or any nut of your choice.

Serves 4

1/3 cup pistachio nuts , toasted

1 lb thin asparagus , cut into thirds, sauted in 1/4 cup unsalted butter

1 large clove garlic , peeled and halved lenthwise

1/4 tsp ground white pepper

1/3 cup dry white wine

1 cup half and half

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 lb penne pasta

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano -Reggiano

Saute garlic in butter in a saute pan over medium heat, when the edges start to brown , remove and discard garlic.

Add the Asparagus and pepper. Increase heat to high and pour in the wine , stirring for about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium.

Pour the half and half and cream over Asparagus mixture and simmer about 2 minutes. season with salt; Keep warm while boiling the pasta.

Prepare penne according to package directions; drain and return to the pot. Combine Asparagus sauce with pasta, stirring over low heat. Add cheese, stirring until it melts; transfer to a platter.

Garnish with pistachio nuts and serve immediately.

Chicken Pomodoro

It can be challenging to create meals for two , especially on a weeknight , that’s quick ,delicious and not too fussy. Here is where boneless , skinless chicken breasts come in handy. The quick  cooking ensures tender , juicy cutlets you will just love to sink your teeth into after a busy day.


2 boneless chicken breasts , cut into cutlets.

Salt and pepper, I like freshly ground

All purpose flour

Non stick spray , use a combination of canola oil and butter to splurge

2 tbs vegetable oil

1/4 cup vodka

1/2 cup chicken broth

2 tbs fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup chopped tomato ,I use fresh Roma Tomatoes

2 tbs heavy cream

1/3 cup sliced scallions

Season cutlets with salt and pepper and dust with flour. Coat a saute pan with nonstick spray and oil and heat over medium high heat.

Saute cutlets on both sides. Transfer cutlets to a platter; pour fat from pan.

Deglaze pan with Vodka (AWAY FROM HEAT,PLEASE); return to heat and cook until nearly evaporated. Add broth and lemon juice. Return cutlets to pan and cook on each side for 1 minute.

Transfer cutlets to a warm plate. Stir tomato and cream into sauce. Heat through, pour over cutlets.

Pesto ,Salmon,and Olive Cream Cheese Torta

I am now in my holiday mode. With Thankgiving fast approaching I am thinking of all my make ahead recipes  with ease of preparation ,hopefully using some store bought items to create something with a wow factor. This is an old stand by from Bon Appetit magazine.

30 Appetizer Servings

36 oz cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup unsalted butter,at room temperature

1 7 oz package store bought pesto

6 oz smoked salmon

1  41/2 oz can chopped black olives,drained

Fresh Basil leaves,optional

Using electric mixer,beat 24 oz cream cheese and butter in large bowl until well blended.

Mix 4  oz cream cheese and pesto in a bowl.

Mix 4  oz cream cheese and salmon in another bowl.

Mix 4  oz  cream cheese and black olives in a bowl.

Line a 9 by 5 by 3 inch loaf pan ,overlapping edges generously. Spread 1/4 of butter mixture in bottom of pan. Spread pesto mixture over. Drop 1/4 of butter mixture over by teaspoons;spread gently to cover. Spread olive mixture over. Drop remaining butter mixture by teaspoons;spread gently to cover.

Fold plastic over torta to enclose. Press firmly to compact. Chill Torta ,refridgerated for a minimum of 6 hours and up to 3 days.

Remove plastic from top of Torta. Turn out onto platter. Remove remaining plastic. Garnish with basil,if desired.

Serve with assorted crackers or breads.

Brutti ma Buoni,ugly but good hazelnut cookies

Years ago I was on a tour of Italy with friends and my very best friend Fiona. we were in the Val d’aosta in Italy. On our last evening there we stopped by a bakery and picked up cookies. Back in our hotel Fiona proceeded to eat her cookies,Brutti ma Buoni,and went on and on about how delicious these cookies were,she mused on the strangeness of their name,but,my ususally generous friend refused to offer me any;till just scraps remained and…now she was generous. Suffice it to say they were divine. I have searched and found sereral recipes but none that come as close to the ones we shared in Italy , these from Nick Malgieri.

4 large egg whites

pinch salt

11/3 cup sugar

31/2 cups (about 14 oz) whole hazelnuts,finely ground in a food processor

2 cookie sheets lined with parchment or foil

Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees

Whip the egg whites and salt in an electric mixer with the whisk on medium speed until they are white and opaque and beginning to hold their shape. Increase the speed to medium high and whip in the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time,continuing to whip the whites until they hold a firm peak. remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the ground hazlenuts.

Scrape the batter into a medium saucepan and place over low heat. Cook,stirring constantly with a wooden spoon,until the mixture is heated through,about 8 minutes.

Use 2 spoons to form 3/4 inch cookies. Use one spoon to scoop up some batter and the other to scrape it off the first,rounding it somewhat as you do,and drop the cookies onto the prepared pan,spacing them about 1 inch apart from each other in all directions.

Bake the cookies until they are well colored and slightly firm, about 20 -25 minutes.

Cool the cookies on the pan on a rack.

Makes about 60 cookies.

Classic Tiramisu (EGGLESS)

I have searched all over the universe for a classic ,Eggless Tiramisu. Never found one till a old copy of Bon appetit surfaced. This version is just superb. It serves 12 but in my house… guess.

2 (about ) 4.4 oz packages Savoriardi cookies

21/2 cups hot water

1/4 cup sugar

5 teaspoons instant espresso powder

1/4 cup brandy

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1 8 oz container marscapone cheese

3 tablespoons sifted powdered sugar

1 cup chilled whipping cream

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Espresso beans (optional)

Cover bottom of 13*9*2 inch glass baking dish with single layer of biscuits. Combine water,sugar and espresso powder in large bowl and stir until sugar and espresso powder dissolve,stir in brandy and vanilla. Pour 1 cup of espresso mixture over biscuits in baking dish. Reserve remaining espresso mixture.

Beat marscapone cheese and 2 tablespoons powdered sugar in medium bowl until creamy. Using electric mixer fitted with clean beaters,beat cream in another medium bowl until peaks form. Gently fold whipped cream into cheese mixture in 2 additions.Spread mixture evenly over biscuits. Dip enoughbiscuits into remaining espresso mixture to cover tiramisu and arrange in single layer over cream cheese. Cover and refridgerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Combine cocoa powder and remaining 1 tablespoons powdered sugar in a small bowl,sift evenly over tiramisu. Garnish with espresso beans.