Recipe Links
Basil Oglio Fra Diavlo Black Pepper and Fennel Shortbread Crackers Bleu Bacon and Italian Burgers Blueberry Almond Crumble Pie Braised Beef Short Ribs Breakfast Sausage Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies Buttermilk Pancakes California Grilled Artichokes Capressa Fra Diavlo Cherry Garcia Icecream Cherry Sangria Chicken and Polenta Chicken Cacciatore Chicken Vegetable Soup with Broccoli Rabe Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting Chocolate Sparkle Cookies Christmas Shortbreads Classic Hummus Coconut Cake Coq Au Vin Wine Braised Chicken Cranberry Orange Crumb Cake Cream Corn and Lima Bean Succotash Cream of Crab and Corn Soup Devishly Chewy Brownies Eggplant Parmesan Fetticini Alfredo with Bacon and Peas Fusilli a la Vodka Sauce Ginger Chocolate Spice Cookies Gnocci with Broccoli Rabe and Sausange Gramma Daly's Cole Slaw Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Blue Cheese Butter Grilled Swordfish Hazelnut Biscotti Cookies Heavenly Blondies Homemade Italian Sausage Homemade Sauerkraut Hot Artichoke Dip Italian Meatballs Lasagna Bolonase with Ragu Sauce Little Sister's BBQ Ribs Molten Chocolate Cake Olio fra diavlo pasta salad Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake Quiche (Sans the Lorraine) Red Velvet Cake Seafood Francaise Shaved Brussel Spouts & Polenta Cake Slow Cooker Thai Pork and Coconut Rice South Florida Fish Stew Spagetti ala Olio Aglio and Pepperoncino Spiced Pear and Cranberry Chutney Steak Braciole Sunday Tomato Sauce Sweet Potato Corned Beef Hash Swordfish Oreganade Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin and Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce The White House Maryland Crab Cakes Tomato Bisque with Chichen and Rice Turkey Paprikash Soup Walnut Shortbread Christmas Cookies White Bean Pasta Fagioli

Christmas Morning: Gramma Daly's Crumb Cake

I grew up in the middle of my Grandfather's farm.  He granted the lots to his three children to build houses on. Ours in the middle, my father's brother and his family on one side, and my father's sister and her family on the other.  It was known as "the hill" and there were 10 kids growing up so it was our own little neighborhood.

We had horses and a horse-drawn sleigh, a skating pond, a sledding trail, a swimming pool, a swamp, a brook, climbing trees, a sandpile, a tire swing, and a Christmas Tree Farm.  My parents couldn't understand why I wanted to go away to summer camp.

On Christmas, my brother would get up at all hours of the night, sneak into the living room, and peak at all of his presents before anyone else got up.  Then he could finally get to sleep.  The rest of us kids would get up at dawn because we were so excited to see what Santa brought we couldn't sleep either. My parents (who were up till late getting out the presents) would be the last ones awake, and we weren't allowed to open family gifts until they were up.

Christmas morning meant three breakfasts after we finished opening our family presents.  Once those were opened, it was time to begin the trek between houses to see what the other kids got for Christmas.  My Aunt Gen would make my Gramma Daly's Crumb Cake for breakfast.  Then we would make the trek past our house over to my Aunt Lorraine's house for homemade egg nog and cold lobster salad sandwiches.  As I got a bit older, the egg nog got spiced with rum. 

After that, it would be back home to get ready for Christmas Dinner, usually at one of my aunts on my mother's side of the family.  We would walk into the house with it smelling like Christmas Eve dinner all over again because by now my brother was up again and heating up leftover baked stuffed shrimp for breakfast.

That was three, right?


Its Birthday Time for the Girl: Christmas Shortbreads

Yeah, time to get out the decorations and the bakeware.  I don't have my kitchen slave with me this year, she is spending a year abroad in Switzerland, so I am sending over a tin of cookies for Christmas and her birthday, along with a few other surprises.  She loves decorating cookies and trimming the tree, but I have to do it all myself this year.

We all miss you, Gracie Girl!   Have a wonderful birthday and enjoy these Christmas Shortbreads!



Grace's Favorite: Chocolate Sparkle Cookies


OMG, she's 14!  The Girl, that is.  My sister walked in at Christmas, and proceeded to blame me for letting her grow up.  Who is she kidding, she did the same thing with her daughter (Broken Promises and Pecan Sandies). 

Back to Grace.  She's still my Kitchen Slave, but now she's wearing my shoes.

And sleeping late on Saturday's like a typical teenager.

She promised she was going to help me make Chocolate Sparkle Cookies for Christmas and for her birthday.  By the time she got out of bed, I had already blanched and skinned the almonds for these cookies.  Which left her with the easy part. 

I got her back, though.  She was still in time to make the 160 Walnut Shortbread Christmas Cookies that are part of the family ritual. 

And also part of my gift giving ritual when I lived out West.  I ran with a rather well-heeled crowd and they were very difficult to buy gifts for.  I eventually ended up baking these and about six other varieties of cookies as gifts.  Couldn't get them at Nordstrom, that's for sure.  My dear friend Barbara and I exchanged gifts this season:  she got these, and I got a box of See's Victoria Toffee.


Lasagna Bolagnase: The Way to a Man's Heart

My grandmother, Caroline Martone, who was born in Italy in 1892, made this version of Bolognase Sauce, eminating from the city of Bologna in the Emilia Romagna Region.  Every family in Emilia Romagna has a Ragu recipe, and her family was no different.  Now, our family heritage holds that Caroline wooed Vincent Euzzine with this recipe, using the tried and true method of getting to a man’s heart.

Caroline and Vincent immigrated to America in 1918, and settled in Connecticut, to join other members of the Martone family in Branford.  Caroline died in 1938, and Vincent died in 1940, leaving six daughters, the oldest 20, and my mother Nancy, the youngest, just 8 years old. 


All six daughters were wonderful cooks, and a few of their mother’s recipes survived, and were passed along.  My mother fell in love with a handsome Irish hunk, Edward, and used this Ragu recipe to snare him.  When I showed an interest in cooking at an early age, she taught me to make this sauce.  It’s nothing like the canned versions of tomato sauce made popular in the 1950’s and 60’s.  In fact, it has very little tomato in it, which makes it stand apart from the normal, Southern Italian fare popularized in the Northeast.  


So, when a certain gentleman came into my life with all the right stuff, I made up my mind to use my family’s love potion to seal the deal.  The first time I made it for him, I thought he was going to cry.  The second time, he showed a particular interest in learning the ingredients.  The third time, which I thought was going to be the charm, he showed up early enough to “help” the cook.  He painstakingly wrote down every ingredient as I added it, and watched the sauce cook slowly to perfection.  Again, tears when the meal was served.  I eagerly awaited his proposal during dessert.  

I never saw him after that night.  I thought he wanted me, but he just wanted this recipe.  So, here it is  Paparadella or Lasagna Bolognasse.  Take your time with it, buy the best ingredients you can find, and be very, very careful who you serve it to.



If someone told me that I was going to build my own chandeliers, I would have thought them crazy.  Turns out, I'm the one that's crazy.

When we built our house, I got to pick out all new lighting.  When the saleswomen told me that lighting is like jewelry for your house, I knew I was in the right place.  I wanted bling, and lots of it. 

You know how you feel when you realize you have left your house without earings on?  That's how my dining area felt.  I had purchased monorail lighting at my other house, and intended on re-using it whereever we landed.  But I was unable to find pendents in a chandelier style. 

It took me three years, several trips to Brimfield (the seasonal antique fair in New England), trips to every lighting store in a 100 mile radius, and countless junking expiditions, along with some on-line searching to find all of the parts I would need to build these things, but I finally finished them.