Italian-American Chili




A local pizza joint near me was pushing their Italian Chili item recently which made me think, “What would my version of such an idea be?”  They had an unappetizing photo and description, “Meat, beans, and hot cherry peppers.”  Well, it didn’t take me long to get into the kitchen to concoct how I would make this dish.

First, I’ve already informed you about the noticeable differences between Italian food and Italian-American food.  Since this is chili, Italian-American is the better option.  Many of you are familiar with white bean and escarole soup as a delicacy in Italian-American cuisine and this builds on that adding meat and hot peppers.  I like my chili a bit thicker, so I’ve added a bit of a ragu to this dish as well.  The result is very satisfying especially for a cold, rainy day on the weekend.






16 oz. bag of dried Cannellini Beans

1 TBSP Olive Oil

1 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt, to taste

Ground Black Pepper, to taste

1 Tsp Canola Oil

2 to 3 beef, veal, or pork bones

¼ cup Olive or Canola Oil

3 lbs. Ground Beef, Veal, and/or Pork

1 large Yellow Onion, peeled and chopped

1 large or 2 medium Carrot(s), peeled and chopped

2 Celery Ribs, chopped

3 Garlic Cloves, peeled and finely chopped

4 oz. Hot Cherry Peppers, chopped

1 cup Dry White Wine

28 oz. can Diced or Chopped Italian Tomatoes

2 TBSP dried Italian Seasoning

6 to 8 cups of Water

1 small head of Escarole, washed, leaves torn or chopped, ribs discarded

Ricotta Cheese (optional)

Shredded or Grated Italian Cheese (Pecorino, Romano, Parmesan, Asiago)

Red Onion, chopped (optional)

Cooked White Rice (optional)



  1. Soak the Beans overnight in enough cold water to cover
  2. Drain the beans and rinse with cold water. In a 4 qt. pot, add the beans and enough water to cover by at least 3 inches.  Add a pinch of Salt and 1 TBSP Olive Oil to the pot.  Heat to boil, then simmer gently for 20 minutes.  Drain the beans and rinse with cold water for 30 seconds to 1 minute to stop the cooking process.
  3. Add half the Beans, a pinch of Salt and Black Pepper, and 1 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil back into the empty pot and with a potato masher or a wooden spoon mash the Beans and set aside. Leave the other half of the Beans whole and to the side.
  4. In a medium frying pan (preferably cast iron), heat 1 Tsp Canola Oil over high heat. Season the Bones with Salt and Pepper and fry on each side 2 minutes each.  Set aside Bones.
  5. In a large stockpot, heat the ¼ cup Oil over medium high heat
  6. Add the Ground Meat to the pot and fry, breaking it apart as it cooks, until browned. Season with Salt and Pepper.
  7. Add the Onion, Carrot, and Celery to the pot. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes.
  8. Add the garlic and Hot Peppers and cook another 2 minutes
  9. Add the Wine and cook about 5 minutes until most of the Wine is absorbed
  10. Add the entire contents of the Tomato Can to the pot and stir. Add the mashed Beans to the pot and stir again.
  11. Add Salt and Pepper to taste. Add the Italian Seasoning and stir several times.
  12. Add the Bones to the pot and add the Water and turn up the heat to high until the liquid boils. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 2 ½ hours.  Add additional water if too thick.  Cook longer if too thin.
  13. After 2 ½ hrs., add the whole Beans to the pot and simmer for another 15 minutes
  14. After 15 minutes add the Escarole to the pot and simmer for another 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and adjust seasonings.  Remove the Bones from the pot and discard.
  15. Serve over White rice if desired and garnish with any or all the following: Ricotta, Italian Cheese, and/or Red Onion


WINE PAIRING:  This is a type of chili that can be paired with wine and I also believe this can be enjoyed equally with a white, rosé, or red wine.  There are a few varietals from the Piedmont region that I think pair well.  A young, medium bodied Barbera d’Asti would work nicely and I think a better option that a Montepulciano or Chianti.  For white, a quaffable Gavi is not hard to find that would also be a different approach to pairing with this great dish.  A beer is always a good option, too.


Baked Curry Chicken, Vegetables, and Rice




Dear faithful readers, I apologize for being away so long.  I’ve been concentrating most of my spare time working on a novel (or series of novels) which is progressing at a glacial pace but is certainly enjoyable for me.  Unfortunately, that has kept me out of the kitchen and zapped most of my creative juices in 2018.  I don’t intend to be as active on as I was when I conceived this website but I do promise to post an occasional new creative recipe and commentary a few times per month.

In the meantime, I want to focus on something I really enjoy about cooking and that is to blend different food staples from one country to another.  This first entry for this category is something I whipped up last night that blends a lot of different ideas from Asia into a casserole dish that comes from Europe or the United States.  This is simple to do, and you can certainly substitute beef, lamb, pork, shrimp, or tofu as a protein and use any combination of vegetables you might fancy.

Thank you for understanding and being patient.  If anybody has a suggestion or something, they would like to see on this website please don’t hesitate to write.  I look forward to creating more unusual menu items for you in 2019!






4 TBSP Olive Oil or Canola Oil, divided


3 ½ TBSP Basic Curry Powder, divided

1 lb. boneless, skinless Chicken Breast, medium diced

Salt, to taste

Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

1 TBSP grated or finely chopped Ginger

1 TBSP grated or finely chopped Garlic

3 Scallions, thinly sliced, white parts and green parts separated

1 Head of Broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces

2 medium size Carrots, peeled and medium diced

6 oz. Shiitake, Oyster, or White Button Mushrooms, sliced

¼ cup Water

14 oz. can Unsweetened Coconut Milk

4 cups cooked White or Brown Basmati Rice



  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F
  2. In a wok or large frying pan, heat 2 TBSP Olive Oil over medium high heat
  3. Add 1 TBSP Curry Powder and fry for 30 seconds
  4. Add the diced Chicken Breast and sauté, turning a few times till the Chicken is cooked through, about 6 minutes. Remove cooked Chicken from wok or pan and place in a large bowl.  Wipe out the wok or pan.
  5. Heat 2 TBSP Olive Oil in the same wok or pan over medium heat
  6. Add the Ginger, Garlic, white parts of the Scallions, and 1½ TBSP Curry Powder in fry for 30 seconds to 1 minute
  7. Add the Broccoli, Carrots, and Mushrooms and fry for 2 minutes. Add the Water and scrape up any brown bits at the bottom of the wok or pan.  Simmer until water is absorbed and vegetables begin to wilt, about 4 minutes.  Add more water to wok or pan if too dry.  Remove cooked vegetables to bowl with Chicken.
  8. Meanwhile, shake the Coconut Milk so it blends, in a bowl or measuring cup add the contents of the can of Coconut Milk and 1 TBSP Curry Powder. Whisk until smooth.
  9. In a greased baking pan, add the cooked Rice and the Chicken and vegetables from the bowl and mix together. Add the Coconut Milk and Curry mixture and mix together.
  10. Cover the baking pan with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes then add the green parts of the Scallions as a garnish.  Serve hot in shallow bowls or plates.


WINE PAIRING:  There are two types of wine I always feel go best with a curried dish and they are Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer.  The latter I think works much better with this recipe especially if you decide to spice up this dish with a little Siracha hot sauce or chili.  If you prefer red to white you can probably get away with a Gamay or Beaujolais.


THE EAGLES – Bake It Cheesy






It’s about time we got to a recipe at that the kids can enjoy too.  That’s why I’m doing a family sized portion for you this week with plenty of leftovers.  If you don’t need that much just divide all the ingredients in half and use a smaller baking dish.  But this is not a store bought, processed, do it all on the stove Mac N Cheese meal.  This is real pasta with your own cheese sauce that’s easy to do as the late Glenn Frey and The Eagles told you so.

The Eagles are always the first band thought of when somebody mentions “easy listening” music when it comes to Classic Rock N Roll.  Ironically, they are also one of the first groups mentioned when it comes to in-fighting within the band.  Their history is well documented, and they have given us some of the finest music of the 70’s which is a part of our American culture.

We tend to think of Mac N Cheese as a side dish for fried chicken, ribs, or even burgers.  A lot of fast food places will serve it this way.  This recipe is to remind everyone it is still a pasta dish.  Baking it brings out the better part of the cheese sauce in my opinion.  I recommend using an aged Cheddar rather than a generic, factory processed type.  I also awaken the flavor a bit with smoked paprika and give you the option to spice it up more with hot pepper.  Bread crumbs are the traditional topping and many versions, including this one, use Parmesan cheese to add a bit more flavor to the dish.  It’s all about the cheese so take it easy and get baking.






2 lbs. dried Elbow Macaroni

2 TBSP Olive Oil

6 TBSP Butter

6 TBSP all-purpose Flour

3 cups Whole Milk

9 oz. shredded Aged Cheddar Cheese

1 TSP Smoked Paprika

½ TSP Salt plus more to taste

¼ TSP Ground Black Pepper plus more to taste

1/8 TSP Cayenne Powder or a few drops Hot Sauce (optional)

½ cup Plain, dried Breadcrumbs

½ cup grated Parmesan Cheese

2 TBSP finely chopped Italian Parsley



  1. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Fill 2 stockpots with 6 quarts of water and cook the pasta separately al dente according to the instructions on the box. Drain the Macaroni and return to a pot.  Add the Olive Oil to coat the pasta and keep it from sticking together.
  3. In a bowl combine the Breadcrumbs, Parmesan, Parsley, Salt and Pepper and mix evenly
  4. While the pasta cooks make the sauce. In a 3 qt. pot melt the Butter over medium heat.
  5. When the Butter is melted add the Flour and stir constantly to make a roux. About 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Gradually add the Milk and raise the temperature to medium high. Bring to just a simmer and then lower the heat to maintain a tiny simmer.  Keep stirring to make sure no lumps form.
  7. When tiny bubbles start to form add the Cheese, Paprika, Hot Pepper (if using), Salt, and Pepper. Keep stirring to blend.  Make sure no lumps are in the sauce and it is well blended.  About 2-3 minutes.  Remove from the heat.
  8. In a very well-greased large baking pan add the Macaroni and then the Cheese Sauce. Season a bit with Salt and Pepper. Mix together until spread evenly.  Top with the Breadcrumb mixture spread evenly over the pasta.
  9. Bake in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes until the Parmesan cheese and Bread Crumbs are toasty brown. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.



WINE PAIRING:  My top choice to pair with this dish would be a Dolcetto.  This is a Northern Italian red wine that marries well with cheese and pasta.  Aged Cheddar may not be the best combination, but it works well especially with the Parmesan.  This recipe would also work with white wine or rosé.  Dolcetto is a very light red wine that resembles Pinot Noir in many ways.  This is of course a recommendation for serving this as a stand-alone dish.  If you are serving it as a side, then you must take the main dish and other side dishes as well into consideration.



CHICAGO – Just You and Miso





Welcome to a special edition for Valentine’s Week at  Yes, I said “week”.  Doesn’t your special someone deserve more than just a day from you?  I know it’s also Mardi Gras today and I could have chosen that route instead but that also means it’s the first week of Lent too and the three recipes in this entry are devoid of meat so that works too.  But this about you and your partner and I’ve put together a few recipes using the wonderful flavor of miso that are so popular in modern cuisine for you to try together.

I am a child of the seventies and I certainly have strong recollections of the music my parents used to listen to.  I was too young to really appreciate the complex rhythms, the interplay of the horns and percussion, and the legendary guitar playing from the late Terry Kath.  These are feel good songs that evoke a lot of great memories and innocence.  Chicago’s music has left an enduring impression on me that I’m happy to share this week.

I’m giving you three ideas for miso that you can do as a three-course meal too for Valentine’s Day together.  I don’t do desserts as you’ve probably realized if you’ve been following this blog.  Some of you who check in regularly or from time to time do such amazing things with dessert recipes I could never compare.  Miso paste is available in most supermarkets and certainly every Asian specialty grocery.  It’s very healthy and flavorful when combined with other seasonings.  So, have some fun cooking with each other this week and share the good times and memories to come.  And to my better half, “You are my love and my life.  You are my inspiration.  Just you and me, simple and free.  Baby, you’re everything I’ve ever dreamed of.”






Miso Soup with Ramen Noodles and Vegetables


2 Eggs

¼ Purple Cabbage, cored and sliced thin

1 TBSP Rice Wine Vinegar

1 TSP Sugar

5 oz. Ramen Noodles

4 cups Vegetable Broth

1 TBSP Olive Oil

1 TBSP Sesame Oil

2 oz. sliced White Button Mushrooms

½ small Daikon Radish, peeled and sliced thin

3 Scallions, diced, white and green parts divided

1 TSP Dashi

1 TBSP Soy Sauce

2 TBSP White Miso paste

Salt, to taste

Ground Black Pepper, to taste



  1. In a small pot boil enough water to cover the Eggs by a couple inches. Once boiling carefully add the Eggs to the pot without cracking the shells.  Boil for exactly 8 minutes.  Remove the Eggs from the pot and immediately run cold water over them to stop the cooking process for about 1 minute.  Set aside to cool.
  2. In a medium bowl place the Cabbage strips, the Vinegar, and the Sugar. Stir a few times and let marinate for 10 minutes.
  3. In a large pot cook the Ramen Noodles according to the package instructions. Drain and immediately wash with cold water to stop the cooking process for about 1 minute.  Set aside.
  4. While the Cabbage marinates, and the Noodles cook, in a large pot heat the Vegetable Broth to a boil then turn the heat till the Broth is just at a simmer
  5. While the Broth is heating in a medium frying pan heat the Oils on medium. Add Mushroom, Radishes, Cabbage, and the white parts of the Scallions and fry for about 3 minutes.  Turn off the heat.
  6. Add the Vegetables to the Broth and give a quick stir. Add the Dashi, Soy Sauce, and Miso and stir.  Add the green parts of the Scallions.  Turn off the heat.
  7. Peel the Eggs and slice in half.
  8. Label the Soup into 2 bowls and add two Egg halves to each. Season the Eggs and Soup with Salt and Pepper and serve immediately.


Garden Salad with Miso Dressing


1 TSP Finely chopped fresh peeled Ginger

1 TBSP White Miso paste

½ TBSP Rice Wine Vinegar

1 TSP Soy Sauce

1 TSP Honey

½ TBSP Sesame Oil

1 ½ TBSP Peanut Oil

4 oz. Spring Mix Lettuces

1 large Carrot, peeled and shaved

½ pint Grape or Cherry Tomatoes, halved



  1. Make the dressing first. In a small bowl combine the Ginger, Miso, Vinegar, Soy Sauce, Honey, and Oils and stir together until well blended.
  2. In a large salad bowl place the Lettuce, Carrot shavings and Tomatoes. Top with the dressing and toss until combined.
  3. Serve on salad plates or into salad bowls


Grilled Salmon with Miso Glaze


½ TBSP Crystalized Ginger finely chopped into powder

1 TBSP Red Miso paste

1 TBSP Mirin

2 TSP Soy Sauce

2 6 oz. Salmon filets

2 TSP Olive Oil

Fine Sea Salt, to taste

Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste



  1. Make the glaze first. Combine Ginger, Miso, Mirin, and Soy Sauce in a small bowl.  Stir together until blended.
  2. Rub 1 TSP Olive Oil over each Salmon filet. Season with Salt and Pepper.  Let rest on a plate while you prepare your grill.
  3. Prepare a grill or grill pan for cooking. Spray with cooking spray and heat on high.
  4. When grill is ready place each Salmon filet on the grill or grill pan and cook on one side for about 5 minutes. Flip and cook on opposite side for 2 minutes than apply a layer of glaze on the top cooked side.
  5. Grill 2 minutes longer and remove filets from heat to a warmed plate. Flip again and apply another layer of glaze. Let sit 2 minutes on plate before serving.
  6. Serve immediately on separate plates with Jasmine rice and your favorite green vegetable such as broccoli or asparagus.



WINE PAIRINGSake would make a lot of sense here and you can’t go wrong there.  This is a romantic dinner for two so Champagne or any Sparkling Wine would do the trick even and the flavors work but not ideally.  A fruity white wine such as a Fume Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc is also a good match for all three of these dishes.  A Riesling would also match the Salmon dish very well.