Lemon Semi-Freddo

I always find after any meal anyone who has managed to control their drinking enough to appreciate anything enjoys a sweet and creamy thing in their mouths. NOTHING is better than Semi-Freddo. Betimes I have just assembled dinner guests on the couch and with a single spoon hand fed them from a big bowl like baby birds.  Industrially made ice cream cannot touch this for cream content and perfect lemon flavor. Basically what you are making is some lemon curd and a big bowl of whipped cream. Freezing it and eating like ice cream. If you use the sliced almonds be sure and toast them a bit – they add to the taste..although personally I can do without the nuts…and might prefer a nice thick slice of lemon sponge cake…
Serves 12| Hands-On Time: 40m| Total Time: 6hr 30m


  • 6  large egg yolks
  • 1  tablespoon finely grated lemon zest PLUS 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1 1/2  cups  sugar
  • 2  cups  heavy cream
  • 1/4  cup sliced toasted almonds


  1. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl. In a heatproof medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, lemon zest and juice, salt, and 1 cup of the sugar. Set the bowl over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring constantly, until the lemon mixture becomes opaque and has thickened slightly, 12 to 15 minutes.
  2. Pour the lemon mixture through the sieve into the bowl. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the lemon mixture and refrigerate until completely cool, at least 2 hours.
  3. Using an electric mixer, whip the cream and the remaining ½ cup of sugar on medium until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. In 3 additions, gently fold the whipped cream into the lemon mixture. Pour into an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan or another 6-cup pan, cover, and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, heat oven to 375° F. Spread the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, tossing once, until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Serve the semi-freddo sprinkled with the almonds.

Image  —  Posted: 2013/01/18 in Uncategorized

Salmon in Lemon Butter

Posted: 2012/03/13 in Uncategorized

Fish. Americans have issues with cooking fish correctly. Unfortunately or fortunately we have cultural fears hard wired about not cooking our food to the point just before it reaches the charcoal briquette state so we don’t all end up spending the evening in Emergency with Salmonella or Ecoli. The admonition to NOT eat undercooked food was second only to Don’t Talk To strangers or god forbid accept candy from them in our life lessons from our parents. To this day I have trouble accepting a piece of candy from anyone I didn’t go to kindergarten with. Makes for some bleak Valentine’s Days I can tell you. Anyway that poor fish did not give up its life just to be cooked to taste like a wad of Kleenex. Respect the fish. It was probably our ancient ancestor at some point in our evolutionary process. Oh and if the vague concept of cannibalism flashed across your brain I apologize. Being a (lapsed) Catholic I have been brainwashed since infancy on the issue. You get used to having some stranger push something the size of a silver dollar in your mouth and assure you you were eating Jesus’ body…yeah try choking that down. Did I mention you could not, under penalty of a yet another sin, chew Jesus’ body bits? I was usually half way home after mass before I could bring myself to flip that wafer to the back of my  throat and let gravity do its thing. OK back to fish.
Oh well one more thing. When I cook I crank up some music…You might say I choreograph and cook. I dance and sing along. It horrifies the cats but I have a good time. Plus you are in a good mood – which is crucial to cooking. If you’re having a real bad day or the monkey on your back is bleak suicidal despair I suggest ordering take-away. Have a pizza delivered. A nice cheesy hot pizza with a crunchy crust will if not put you off suicide will certainly delay it until you finish the pizza. Anyway I am listening to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OOK1kxoX2I the Tom Waits ‘Bad As Me album’. If this doesn’t get yah going yer dead on the inside. “It takes a raised right man to keep a happy hen…” OK back to fish.

Lets go for a nice thick Salmon fillet. I never grasped the Salmon ‘steak’ thing with the bit of fish spine in the center…so ignore those. I know salmon is relatively expensive – often its touted as being ‘Wild Caught” – yeah like bears stand in the rivers with large buckets snatching up passing salmon just for YOU.  The same bears that are shot for their glands which are sent to Japan for failing libidos – oh don’t get me started.  Ok…we have probably all eaten sushi so we KNOW even raw fish will not kill us on the spot. So trust me on this.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a saute pan and squeeze juice of 1 large lemon in the butter. OK my cave woman method for doing the lemon is to halve it and dig my fingers inside until I reach the pith and rind. I cup my hand to catch any seed that may fall out but let the juice and pulp drip through. What smells better than fresh lemon juice on your hands? I don’t know. Not much. Once the butter/lemon is hot but not turning brown or YIKES black slide in the fish skin side down. If the butter/lemon starts to turn brown reduce your heat. Ok..here’s the great method – spoon the hot butter/lemon over the top of the fish…it will cook the top side of the fish. It should take no more than 7 minutes. The fish will continue to cook after you remove it from the pan. If you like the darkened crispy bits turn your fish flesh side down just before removing for a minute. That’s it – no salt, no pepper, and for the love of an imaginary god please no paprika!  If you feel compelled beyond all reason to decorate the fish remember all those chopped up fresh herbs will detract from the fish taste. Maybe sprinkle your chopped herbs around the edge of the plate and your X-Mas tree bough sized branch of rosemary not ON the fish but off to the side somewhere. If one of your guests asks for Tartar Sauce…show them the door – they have issues.
Anything imaginable can be served as a side to fish EXCEPT cheese. One great looking side is fire roasted asparagus. Just coat fresh stem peeled asparagus with olive oil and if you are lacking a stove top grill use long metal tongs with the handles wrapped in a towel or held by an oven mitten (no burned fingers)…grasp 4-6 spears in the tongs and hold over a burner flame. NO do not extrapolate and use your vanilla scented candle. They will get a great grilled look and who doesn’t love slightly carbonized vegetables? You can microplane a little fresh lemon rind over the asparagus once plated up…REMEMBER graters can cut you!
So Voila! Enjoy the taste and texture of the fish.

Chicken Liver Pate

Posted: 2012/02/10 in Uncategorized

Yeah, it’s further homage to the humble clucker. Don’t eat organ meat? Well Pluck You!

Pate is something that’s deeply satisfying…maybe long ago our caveman ancestors spent a few lazy afternoons bashing mastodon livers into paste with their clubs. Unfortunately they had no fresh chewy baguettes to rip up and spread with the pate…I suppose a filthy all-purpose finger or animal bone for the more fastidious had to do. When you think about our current horror of germs…and I have seen women (annnnnd some men) actually scream out loud at a small dark smear on a toilet… hysteria fanned by our ‘scientists’ and NBC…it’s astounding the human race thrived. Of course if you read Clan of the Cave Bear…which was a Martha Stewartish prehistoric manifesto…you might think it was all real nice and cave people washed all the time in that glacier fed lake and used wildflowers for shampoo. Maybe they did…after all we’re still here. What do I know? Ok back to the chicken. Most chickens processed for meat in America are doomed to a horrific existence in battery cages until they’re plump enough for electrocution and mutilation and plastic wrapped and then delivery to our supermarkets.  Sometimes you get a pack of chicken breast I swear to god must be from a turkey on steroids.  Other times you get some that must have been from puny chickens who spit up their growth hormone pills or something.  Ok…the liver. I believe once an animal gives up its life for our food we should be obligated to eat as much as possible of it to show some respect.  Don’t worry I am not taking that to the extreme, no feet, no eyes, no fatty bumhole.  When buying the chicken livers you will find them conveniently packaged in plastic tubs near the chicken bin at your market. If you have some access or enough energy to toddle off to a shop where they manage specialty meats ask the butcher for a couple pounds of fresh livers – he has them because he spent half his day cutting up whole chickens.  Mostly he will be happy to get rid of them.  Oh I should have mentioned earlier – if you do not have a food processor or nice blender there is no way you can make this particular recipe.


2 Lbs. chicken livers

1 cup butter

1 large Vidalia onion

Bit of salt and pepper

Pinch of cinnamon powder

Roughly chop the onions.  In a large skillet melt the butter. Drop in the onions and on a low flame sweat them until they are translucent (3 minutes) then add the drained livers and salt and pepper. Let the whole mess cook over a low flame until the livers are cooked…stir about at times to prevent any crisping of anything.  If you are in any doubt about the liver being done slice on open. If you see a light pink center …uh the pink of a pretty peony…not barely cooked tenderloin…its fine. Remove from heat and wander off for 5 minutes to let it cool down a bit. If you have a food processor, dump everything in adding the pinch of cinnamon powder and turn it on. If you are using a blender you will have to do this in smaller batches.  It takes about 2 minutes to make a silky pate.  At this point you should taste it so you know if you have salted it enough for your palate.  Try to resist the urge to just keep eating it. If you have a bowl you are using just pour your pate in there and cover with plastic wrap. If you are using a mold with the intent of turning it out of the mold at some point – line whatever container/mold you are using for the pate with plastic wrap which overlaps all the edges. Pour your pate in the mold and fold the plastic wrap over until it’s sealed. Refrigerate. I usually do this overnight to make sure it’s perfectly set.  To serve you can just uncover and flip onto a serving plate.  Here you can exercise some creativity. Sprinkle the pate with finely chopped parsley or cracked pepper. Even if you manage to recreate yer lump of pate into a Faberge Egg your guests will demolish it like brutish proletariat in minutes.

There!!! That’s it. I like it best with fresh buttery smelling baguette chunks…or Carr’s Table Water Biscuits. I have seen a mania for using croissants but personally although I love the taste of croissants all those oily crumbs falling everywhere drive me…yah have to keep licking yer fingertip and pick up every one of them…which distracts you from eating more pate.


Posted: 2012/02/04 in Uncategorized

This is known to non-Italians as tomato sauce or spaghetti sauce. The permutations are endless. In my family a pot large enough to wash the dog in was kept simmering night and day on the back burner. Whole chickens and hard boiled eggs were betimes dropped in. To be fished out later for a snack or base for Cacciatore or something. There was always a fresh loaf of Italian bread near the pot. So you could tear off a chunk and dunk it in the sauce.  Kind of like the potato chip of Italians. You don’t believe me? Watch an Old Italian dunk his bread in a glass of wine while waiting for his dinner. No real Italian can pass a pot of sugo on the stove and not dunk bread. It’s more reliable than a DNA test.


1/2 pound mild Italian bulk sausage

1/2 pound lean ground beef

1 large onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

4 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce

2 (6-ounce) can Italian-style tomato paste

1 Large can of chopped black olives (this is my personal favorite)

3 cups water

1/4 cup sugar (use this judiciously – add a bit at a time as the sauce cooks according to your taste)

1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley

1 teaspoon fresh chopped basil

1 teaspoon fresh chopped oregano

(All herbs are best fresh but sure go ahead if you only have dried…)


Cook sausage and ground beef in a large skillet (I’d include Dutch Oven but who has those really) over medium heat 6 minutes, stirring until meat crumbles. Add onion and garlic, and sauté 4 minutes or until beef and sausage are no longer pink. Drain fat and set aside. Get out your largest pot and combine all the ingredients, cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens.  I do this on a low flame for hours and hours until I think it looks thick enough. REMEMBER to keep tasting this sauce and adjusting for your personal tastes. The sugar relieves the acidity of the tomatoes but too sugary and it’s icky. And you can add stuff like sliced mushrooms, truffles, chopped tomatoes, more garlic. I have an auntie who drops a bit of butter in to make the sauce silky.

So try the sauce – make it your own and serve over your favorite pasta. A tip on cooking pasta: Use a large enough pot – don’t cramp your noodles; NEVER add olive oil to the boiling water in an effort to prevent sticky noodles – this just ensures your sauce will slide right off those same noodles; and this is super important never ever wash the drained noodles in cold water. Also about the cheese, Parmesan or Romano…fresh shaved is best but otherwise if you get the shaker try to get one without fillers. Now!  Eat you’re so skinny…..

Been Meaning to Clean That

Check back here for diner events.  My pies are worth it. Tra

This is an easy slow cooker dinner. Definitely NOT for people who like to poke, prod, drip sweat on or personally finger every inch of the ingredients as much as possible. Yeah you know the type…ubiquitous on cooking shows. Personally I hide my slow cooker/crock pot. It’s shameful. I own $3000 worth of copper pots from Switzerland. But I also like a hot meal that cooks itself while I am out running the streets buying unnecessary things and tanking up on espresso every few blocks…ok ok mostly I am sleeping or roughing up my cats.


1lb of Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (about 3)

2 Tablespoons Butter (notice I did not specify unsalted cause that’s a huge affectation considering 99% of recipes go on to direct you to add salt anyway)

2 cans Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup

1 ½ Cup of Chicken Broth (buy the chicken bouillon paste and mix with water – never buy that canned broth – it smells like 4 inches up a dogs bum)

½ Cup White Wine

1 Medium White Onion, diced

8 oz. Sliced Mushrooms – any sort but Portobello give it a nice rustic look

½ Cup Sliced Carrots

Bisquick Mix


Place thawed chicken in crock pot and top with butter.  Add everything else. Cook on High for 4-6 hours or Low for 8 hours.  Resist the urge to peek inside or stir…go watch TV or nap or dust your CDs or something if you’re the obsessive compulsive type (otherwise slow cooking is NOT for you).


Remove chicken from slow-cooker and shred with a fork after about 4 hours. One hour before the finish time follow the directions on the Bisquick box for dumplings and using a couple spoons drop nuggets of dough in the hot mix and recover. Continue to cook on High for 30 minutes.    Serve hot (like I have to tell you this). If guests are blighting your doorstep for dinner – be sure to put everything in your nicest covered tureen and hide the crock pot.