Nana’s pecans

My grandmother made these roasted pecans every Thanksgiving. Everyone loves them!
Roasted pecans
Melt 2 T. butter and 2 T. olive oil on a cookie sheet in a 325 degree oven. Add pecans and stir to coat. Cook 10 minutes then stir again and cook for 8 1/2 minutes. Drain on paper towels.


Holiday Cake

Holiday bundt cake
A holiday bundt cake

This recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan who has several wonderful books including Baking With Dorie. A perfect cake for breakfast or dessert!

Holiday Cake

1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp., plus a bit more for the pan

2 cups all purpose flour

2 t. baking powder

1/2 t. baking soda

2 t. cinnamon

1/4 t. nutmeg

pinch of salt

1 1/2 t. grated fresh ginger, or 1 t. ground ginger

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs, room temp.

1 t. pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree, unsweetened

1 large apple, peeled, cored and diced

1 cup cranberries, roughly chopped

1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Maple Icing -optional, but delicious! see Note below

Butter a 9-10″ bundt pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in the center.

Whisk together the flour, b.p.,b.s.,cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and ginger powder, if using instead of grated ginger.

Working with a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter with the sugars for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at time and beat 1 minute after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

Reduce speed to low and add the pumpkin, apple and grated ginger, if using. Batter may look curdled, don’t worry! Add dry ingredients, mixing only until incorporated. Fold in cranberries and pecans with a spatulat. Scrape into bundt pan and smooth the top.

Bake 60-70 minutes or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before unmolding.

Note: Maple Icing-sift 6 T. powdered sugar into a bowl. Stir in 2+ T. maple syrup, a little at a time. Drizzle over cake.

Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta Puttanesca

Another great recipe from La Dolce Vita by David Rocco-his grandmother’s recipe


3/4 lb. spaghetti

4 T. extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

dried red chili flakes to taste

4 anchovies, roughly chopped

2-4 T. capers, drained

16 black olives, pitted

1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

1 14 oz. can of plum tomatoes or diced tomatoes, with juices

salt to taste

fresh finely  chopped parsley

Begin by cooking the pasta. The sauce will be done before the pasta is ready (I did not believe this but it is true!).

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat and add the garlic, red chile flakes, anchovies, capers, olives and walnuts. Cook gently until the anchovies begin to dissolve and the garlic is light brown.

If using plum tomatoes, pour into a pour and crush with your hands. Add tomatoes to the saucepan and cook.

Once the pasta is done, drain it, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Add pasta to the saucepan and add a bit of the cooking water to get the the consistency you like. Cook a minute or two. Finish with some chopped parsley.

The recipe did not call for cheese and it was delicious without it-there are so many flavors going on in this sauce that I think the cheese would interfere.

Nana’s Egg Salad

I am not giving amounts as it is up to you how much you love of any of these ingredients. My grandmother made egg salad sandwiches on whole wheat bread for us whenever we were going on a road trip or stopping at her house en route to somewhere else. I remember going there from Colorado to NYC and she fixed my friends and me the hugest breakfast and then she sent us off with egg salad sandwiches for all of us-wrapped delicately in wax paper and layered in a paper bag-at least 10 sandwiches for the 4 of us! I still make egg salad whenever I go on a road trip with my friend Laurie and feed it to her on crackers as we drive to our destination!
Hardboiled Eggs, finely chopped

Scallion or red onion, finely chopped

Celery, finely chopped

Carrot, grated

Bacon, crumbled


Black olives-optional



Herb of choice-parsley, chives, lovage

Lasagna with Bechamel and Bolognese sauces

I made the bolognese sauce a day before I assembled the lasagna. First I had to make the bechamel. David Rocco’s bechamel was very thin and I am not sure I took the time to make it correctly. Here is the recipe for the bechamel and then the assembly of the lasagna follows:

Salsa Besciamella From David Rocco’s La Dolce Vita

4T. Butter

4 cups Milk

4T. all purpose flour.

Get out two pots and place them over medium heat. In one pot melt the butter, in the other, warm up the milk. Be careful not to brown the butter. Once it’s melted, remove it from the heat and start whisking in your flour a little at a time. Keep going until it’s all incorporated. Just before the milk reaches a boiling point, remove it from the heat. Add a few ladlefuls of milk to the pot with the flour and butter. Put the flour mixture back on the burner and start whisking. When the milk is absorbed, add some more, a little at a time and stir, stir until you have used up the milk. Keep whisking until you get a creamy, velvety consistency.

Lasagna Assembly

6 cups of bolognese

1 # dry lasagna noodles

3 cups bechamel sauce

3 cups shredded mozzarella

fresh parmesan for sprinkling

Spread a bit of the bolognese in the bottom of your lasagna pan. Cover that with a layer of uncooked lasagna sheets, then a good amount of bolognese. Drizzle some bechamel sauce on top and sprinkle with some mozzarella. You are going to make 3 or 4 layers in the same order-pasta, bolognese, bechamel and mozzarella. Use a generous amount of bolognese as the liquid is going to cook the raw pasta. Your final layer should be pasta with bolognese sauce and then sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 for 40 or until golden on top. Let it rest for 10 minutes-it tastes better when it cools down a bit.

Black Bean Chili and Lasagna

I have continued to cook almost all day and am super excited about my black bean chili from The Greens cookbook page 109. I will post that recipe later as I am more excited about David Rocco’s Lasagna.

My husband David loves Rocco’s show “La Dolce Vita” so I ordered the cookbook and it is chock full of fabulous recipes. His lasagna layers bolognese, bechamel, noodles and mozzarella. I am making the base bolognese now will assemble tomorrow.

Bolognese sauce

One onion finely chopped, (Rocco grates all of his vegetable so they melt into the sauce)

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped

2 T. uns. butter

1/2 lb. ground beef

1/2 lb. ground pork

1 cup white wine

1 cup milk

3 cups tomato puree


Note ***If making bolognese for lasagna, increase tomato puree to 5 cups ( I am adding some diced tomatoes as they will simmer down into great texture)

Grate or finely chop the vegetables and saute in the olive oil (Marcella Hazen-Italian food goddess from years ago) recommends using an earthenware pot or heavy cast iron deep pot.

Take your time as you saute and gently brown the vegetables so the flavors become sweet and intense. Add butter and ground beef-cook over medium high heat until browned. Stir in wine and simmer until it’s evaportated. Add the milk and soften the meat. Add the tomato puree, salt and simmer for a few hours.

Assembly will follow tomorrow with the bechamel recipe! When using this sauce for lasagna, increase the tomatoes to 5 cups. I used part tomato sauce and part diced tomatoes.

Green Cabbage Soup

In anticipation of another huge snowstorm coming tonight, I am making Deborah Madison’s wonderful Cabbage Soup. It is so easy and delicious!

1 1# Savoy cabbage, quartered, cored and sliced

2-3 T. Butter

1 large Leek, quartered, chopped and rinsed

1 large Yukon gold potato, peeled and roughly chopped

sea salt and fresh pepper

Rustic bread, sliced

Sliced Gorgonzola or Blue Cheese, like Maytag or Point Reyes

You should have about 5-6 cups of sliced cabbage. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and blanch the cabbage one minute. Drain,

Melt butter in soup pot. Add leek and potato ad cook for two minutes. Add cabbage and 1 t. salt. Pour over 5 cups water, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes, covered, until the potato is tender.

Tear bread into small pieces and to pot. Turn off heat and let stand 10 minutes. Ladle into soup bowls and top with gorgonzola. Break up the bread as you eat the soup.

You can also omit the bread and gorgonzola and simply garnish the soup with sour cream-divine!

Vegetarian Thanksgiving ideas

I am super excited for my vegetarian family to come for Thanksgiving and found this amazing article in the Health section of the NY Times. Today I am trying the Curried Coconut Squash Soup!

Coconut Butternut Squash Soup

Once you’ve got the squash baked, this soup comes together quickly. The mellow flavors of squash, kale and red onions synergize delectably and look gorgeous together as well.

1 large butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil or other vegetable oil
1 large yellow or sweet white onion, chopped
1 medium apple, any variety, peeled and diced
2 cups prepared vegetable broth, or 2 cups water with 1 vegetable bouillon cube
2 teaspoons good-quality curry powder
2 teaspoons grated fresh or jarred ginger, or more, to taste
Pinch of ground nutmeg or allspice
1 14-ounce can light coconut milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 medium red onions, quartered and thinly sliced
1 good-size bunch kale (about 10 to 12 ounces)

1. To bake the squash, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut in half and place halves, cut side up, in a foil-lined shallow baking dish and cover tightly with more foil. Bake for 30 to 50 minutes, until you can easily pierce the flesh with a knife. Scoop out and set aside.

2. Heat about half the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until golden, about 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Add the apple, squash, broth and spices. Bring to a steady simmer, then cover and simmer gently until the apples are tender, about 10 minutes.

4. Transfer the solids to a food processor with a slotted spoon, in batches if need be, and process until smoothly puréed, then transfer back to the soup pot. Or better yet, simply insert an immersion blender into the pot and process until smoothly puréed.

5. Stir in the coconut milk and return the soup to a gentle simmer. Cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until well heated through. Season with salt and pepper. If time allows, let the soup stand off the heat for an hour or two, then heat through as needed before serving.

6. Just before serving, heat the remaining oil in a large skillet. Add the red onions and sauté over low heat until golden and soft.

Note: I only had regular coconut milk so I added an extra cup of water.