Marco La Vecchia ‘22
Focaccia is our favorite yeast-bread to make at home. It has a crisp outside and soft inside, and is perfect to serve with dinner, soups, stews, or even sliced in half and used for sandwiches. Thanks to the ingredients, it’s also naturally vegan.
Extra-virgin olive oil is what makes focaccia taste so unbelievably delicious. It adds to the texture as well as the flavor of the bread. I truly believe that the secret to the best focaccia bread is using a great tasting olive oil. You don’t need to spend lots of money, just use an olive oil you love the flavor of. We have Partanna Extra Virgin Olive Oil in our kitchen and love it.
Fresh garlic is essential for perfect garlic focaccia. I use two cloves, but for a really garlicky bread, you can increase that.
Fresh herbs are also excellent. Use what you love and have available to you. I love rosemary focaccia, so I always use fresh rosemary. In the photos below, I’ve also added some fresh thyme. If you don’t have access to fresh herbs, we have shared dried substitutes in the recipe below.
Yeast, warm water, and honey help the bread rise and give it structure. The warmth of the water and the sugars in the honey wake up the yeast. If you don’t have honey, substitute with a sugar.
All-purpose flour is perfect for making focaccia bread. You can use bread flour, but the bread will be a bit more chewy.
Salt and pepper make the bread taste amazing. Just like when we season soups and sauces, it’s important to season bread dough.
Step 1: Infuse olive oil with garlic and fresh herbs. This simple step makes the bread unbelievably delicious.
Step 2: Mix yeast with warm water and honey. This wakes up the yeast so that it is ready to help the dough rise.
Step 3: Add the flour, salt, and some of the garlic herb oil to the yeast mixture, and then knead the dough 10 to 15 times (no more kneading is necessary).
Step 4: Let the dough rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
Step 5: Add the dough to a small sheet pan or baking dish and add dimples to the top of the dough and top with the remaining garlic herb oil.
Step 6: Let the bread rise for another 20 minutes, and then bake until golden brown.
Chicken marsala is a one pot, 30 minute meal made with golden brown chicken cutlets, savory mushrooms and a rich marsala wine sauce that is every bit as tasty as a restaurant version!
Tips for Starting:
1) Get quality ingredients!
2) Either slice chicken breasts in half (horizontally) into thinner pieces, or pound them until they are about 1/2 inch thick. Not only does this help make this a 30 minute meal by allowing the chicken to cook through quickly, but it also ensures that each bite isn’t all chicken and nothing else.
3) Don’t be afraid of those browned bits on the bottom of your pan after cooking the chicken. Those bits = TONS of flavor. Just use a wooden spoon to gently scrape the bottom of the pan as the mushrooms and onion are cooking.
4)The flour used is for not only making the chicken nice and crispy, but for thickening the sauce as it cooks.
5) Use a combination of olive oil and butter when cooking the chicken. The olive oil ensures the butter doesn’t burn, and the butter lends amazing richness and flavor to the dish.
6) To save yourself some time, some grocery stores offer “thin cut” chicken, or chicken cutlets. These are a great option since they don’t need any slicing or pounding to be nice and thin.
7)Use any combination of mushrooms you like. I’ve used all cremini (or baby portobello), all white buttons, and a combination of both.
- 4 chicken breasts – sliced horizontally or pounded until 1/2″ thick
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 5 Tbsp olive oil – , divided
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter – , divided
- 8 oz white button mushrooms – sliced
- 8 oz cremini mushrooms – sliced
- 2 Tbsp shallots (or your favorite onion) – minced
- 2 cloves garlic – minced
- 2/3 cup dry Marsala wine
- 2/3 cup beef stock
- sprig of fresh thyme (optional)
- Fresh parsley – minced, for garnish
- To a large pan or skillet, add 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp butter and heat over MED-HIGH heat.
- Sprinkle pounded chicken cutlets with salt and pepper on both sides, then lightly dredge in the 1/3 cup flour. Shake off excess flour and add chicken to a hot pan. Work in batches if needed, as over-crowding the pan will prevent the chicken from crisping up.
- Cook chicken about 3-4 minutes per side, until golden.
- Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.
- Add 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp butter to the pan and add mushrooms.
- Saute about 5-8 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper about half-way through cooking.
- Remove mushrooms to the plate with the chicken and set aside.
- Add remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil, then add shallots and garlic. Saute about 1 minute, until soft and fragrant.
- Sprinkle in the 1 Tbsp flour and stir to coat. Cook for a minute to get the flour taste out.
- Pour in Marsala wine and beef stock, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
- Cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes, or until sauce is slightly thickened.
- Slide chicken and mushrooms back into the pan, making sure to get all the juices from the plate into the pan – that’s pure flavor there!
- Add 1 Tbsp butter to the center of the pan, toss a sprig of thyme in there if desired, then cover the pan and let cook for about 2 minutes.
- Stir and spoon sauce over chicken.
- Garnish with parsley if desired and serve.
*Can be served over pasta, mashed potatoes, rice, quinoa, veggies, whatever you’d like.*
Cacio e Pepe
Literally “cheese and pepper”, this minimalist cacio e pepe recipe is like a stripped-down mac and cheese.
(Serves 2 people)
6 oz. pasta (such as egg tagliolini, bucatini, or spaghetti)
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed, divided
1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
¾ cup finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan
⅓ cup finely grated Pecorino
Step 1: Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5-qt. pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain, reserving ¾ cup pasta cooking water.
Step 2: Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and cook, swirling pan, until toasted, about 1 minute.
Step 3: Add ½ cup reserved pasta water to a skillet and bring to a simmer. Add pasta and remaining butter. Reduce heat to low and add Grana Padano, stirring and tossing with tongs until melted. Remove pan from heat; add Pecorino, stirring and tossing until cheese melts, sauce coats the pasta, and pasta is al dente. (Add more pasta water if the sauce seems dry.) Transfer pasta to warm bowls and serve.
American favorite shepherd’s pie recipe, casserole with ground beef, vegetables such as carrots, corn, and peas, topped with mashed potatoes.
- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds potatoes (about 3 large potatoes), peeled and quartered
- 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1-2 cups vegetables—diced carrots, corn, peas
- 1 1/2 lbs ground round beef
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice
Step1 Boil the potatoes: Place the peeled and quartered potatoes in a medium sized pot. Cover with at least an inch of cold water. Add a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender (about 20 minutes).
Step 2 Sauté vegetables: While the potatoes are cooking, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until tender, about 6 to 10 minutes.
If you are including vegetables, add them according to their cooking time. Carrots should be cooked with the onions, because they take as long to cook as the onions do.
If you are including peas or corn, add them toward the end of the cooking of the onions, or after the meat starts to cook, as they take very little cooking time.
Step 3 Add the ground beef, then Worcestershire sauce and broth: Add ground beef to the pan with the onions and vegetables. Cook until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the Worcestershire sauce and beef broth. Bring the broth to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, adding more beef broth if necessary to keep the meat from drying out.
Step 4 Mash the cooked potatoes: When the potatoes are done cooking (a fork can easily pierce), remove them from the pot and place them in a bowl with the remaining 4 Tbsp of butter. Mash with a fork or potato masher, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Step 5 Layer the meat mixture and mashed potatoes in a casserole dish: Preheat oven to 400°F. Spread the beef, onions, and vegetables (if using) in an even layer in a large baking dish (9×13 casserole).
Spread the mashed potatoes over the top of the ground beef. Rough up the surface of the mashed potatoes with a fork so there are peaks that will get well browned. You can even use a fork to make creative designs in the mashed potatoes.
Step 6 Bake in oven: Place in a 400°F oven and cook until browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes. If necessary, broil for the last few minutes to help the surface of the mashed potatoes brown.
Put a layer of creamed corn between the ground beef and the mashed potatoes.
Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese over the top of the mashed potatoes before baking.
Classic New England Lobster Rolls
Nothing says summer like a New England Lobster Roll! This classic recipe lets the lobster shine with big chunks of sweet meat, a little mayo, and a touch of lemon. Keep it simple and serve it with a side of chips.
What’s the best lobster for lobster rolls?
Here are three ways to get your lobster if you don’t live in New England:
- Live Lobster: Typically, if you’re going to cook a live lobster, you want to dip it in butter, not put it in a roll. But if that’s the only way for you to have fresh meat for your roll, and you have the time (and money), then go for it. Check out our post on How to Boil and Eat Lobster.
- Frozen: You can purchase pre-cooked frozen lobster meat or uncooked frozen lobster tail at fish markets. Either one will do the trick.
- Mail Order Lobster: If you don’t live in New England and don’t have access to freshly cooked meat or live lobster, but you want to be as authentic as possible, several Maine lobster companies such as Maine Lobster Now can ship fresh, frozen, or even live lobsters to you overnight. It’s pricey, but fresh lobster meat really is the best. I have plenty of local options, so I can’t vouch personally for the shipping companies, but I have faith in Mainers that they will treat you well.
For the filling:
- 1 pound cooked lobster meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
For the buns:
- 4 to 6 New England style split-top hot dog buns
- 2 to 3 tablespoons soft butter
- Lemon wedges
- Potato chips
Before you start:
A prized lobster roll has large, bite-size chunks of lobster; so don’t chop it too small. Some lobster rolls are made with just lobster, a little lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Now that’s true understatement.
Step 1 Make the lobster salad: In a bowl, stir the lobster meat, lemon juice, salt, pepper, celery, and mayonnaise together. Taste and add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice, if you like.
Step 2 Toast the buns: Spread the outsides of the buns with softened butter. Set a skillet or cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Toast the buns with butter for about 30 seconds on each side, or until golden brown.
Step 3 Assemble the lobster rolls: Fill each bun with lobster salad. Serve with potato chips and a wedge of lemon.
Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler
If Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler isn’t on your summer bucket list yet, it’s time to run to the store, snag all the peaches, and prepare for what is sure to be the highlight of your season. The easy cobbler batter takes less than five minutes to stir together, the juicy peach filling will drip down your chin, and from the very first bite, you’ll realize you are happily ruined from every other dessert from now until next peach season.
For the Filling:
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 pounds ripe peaches about 5-6 large or 8-9 small/medium peaches
- 1/3 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
For the Topping:
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- Vanilla ice cream homemade whipped cream, Greek yogurt, or a pour of heavy cream
Description of Ingredients:
- Butter. My Grammy’s recipe calls for a full stick; I trimmed it down to 6 tablespoons with lusciously buttery results.
- Flour. I used a mix of white whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour for the sake of sneaking in a few whole grains. Feel free to go for 100% all-purpose if you care to be a peach cobbler purist. (It is summer, after all.)
- Sugar. My Grammy’s recipe uses sugar in both the peach filling AND in the cobbler topping. I used honey in the cobbler filling instead. I adore honey and peaches together, and it leaves me wiggle room for an extra scoop of ice cream.
- Milk. Any kind of you like! Grammy uses whole milk. I used almond milk because that was what we had in the refrigerator. Both work deliciously.
- In-season, ripe peaches are the stuff of summer dreams. If you can get your hands ripe, fresh peaches, I beg you to use them to make this Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler…and I might even say that if you can’t get them, wait until next summer and make this recipe a priority.
- That said, if you can’t find fresh peaches and need peach cobbler in your life STAT (understandable), you can use canned peaches. Buy the best quality you can find and drain away any excess syrup first (this is how Paula Deen’s Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler recipe is written, so there must be some tasty truth to it).
- If you’d like to make this Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler with frozen peaches, I suggest using only frozen peaches that you know were picked in peak season. Sometimes the bags of smoothie-style peaches can be flat.
- Step One: If baking in the oven, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (See recipe notes to if cooking this cobbler over a campfire.) Place the butter in the bottom of a 10-inch dutch oven or a 3-quart baking dish with high sides. Once the butter is melted, remove the dish from the oven.
- Step Two: To quickly and easily peel the peaches: Bring a very large pot with enough water to cover the peaches to a boil. While the water comes to a boil, prepare an ice bath by placing a handful of ice cubes in a large bowl and then filling it with cold water. Once the water is boiling, with a slotted spoon or tongs to protect your fingers, gently lower the peaches into the water. Add the peaches in two batches so that the water temperature does not rapidly drop. Boil for 1 minute. Remove peaches from the pot and plunge into the ice bath to stop the cooking. The skins can now be easily slipped off with your fingers. Cut peaches into 1/3-ish inch wide slices, then place the slices into a large mixing bowl. If you prefer, you can peel the peaches with a vegetable peeler.
- Step Three: To the bowl with the peaches, add the honey, cornstarch, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and ginger. Stir gently to combine. Set aside.
- Step Four: In a separate bowl, prepare the topping. Whisk together the sugar, white whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the milk, and whisk to combine. Gently pour the batter over the melted butter. DO NOT STIR. Now, carefully spoon the fruit and any juices that have collected in the bottom of the bowl on top of the batter. Again, DO NOT STIR.
- Step Five: Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the topping is deep golden at the edges and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the topping (not the peach filling) comes out clean. The topping will rise above the peaches, puff up, and turn golden so that you have a cake with fruit beneath. Serve the cobbler warm with whipped cream, a scoop of ice cream, or our family favorite: a pour of heavy cream.
What Size/Type of Dutch Oven to Use For Peach Cobbler:
- This recipe is written for a 10-inch Dutch oven peach cobbler. That said, it’s flexible!
- You can use a Dutch oven ranging in size from eight to 12 inches; just adjust the cooking time accordingly. A smaller Dutch oven will need longer, while a larger Dutch oven may finish cooking more quickly.
Baking a Peach Cobbler NOT in a Dutch Oven:
- Even though I called this “Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler,” as it is my vessel of choice (it’s so homey and works perfectly for baking and serving this recipe), you don’t actually need a dutch oven to make this peach cobbler.
- Any 3-quart baking dish with high sides will do.
- If you are feeling super alternative, you can also check out my Crock Pot Peach Cobbler to make peach cobbler in a slow cooker (this exact recipe won’t translate, but that one is yummy and from-scratch as well).
Making Butch Oven Peach Cobbler Over Campfire:
(You’ll need to adapt the cooking method to ensure the cake doesn’t burn underneath.)
- First, make sure you are using a camp dutch oven like this.
- Next, preheat 45 charcoal briquettes until white and glowing.
- Lightly butter the inside of a camp dutch oven—do not melt the butter inside of it as with the oven method. Prepare the peach filling as directed.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the topping ingredients as directed. After adding the milk, stir in the melted butter. Spoon the fruit into the bottom of the buttered dutch oven, along with any juices that have collected. Slowly pour the batter over the top of the peaches. DO NOT STIR.
- To Cook: Cover the dutch oven with its lid. Place 15 hot charcoal briquettes together (they will be covered with ash) and set dutch oven over them. Using tongs, place the remaining 30 briquettes on the dutch oven lid. (This number and placement is necessary for the dutch oven to reach 350 degrees F.)
- After 10 minutes, rotate the dutch oven over the coals clockwise and the lid over the dutch oven counter clockwise to promote even cooking.
- Check after 20 minutes. The cobbler is done when the topping is golden brown and the fruit juices are bubbling.
- Continue cooking as needed—about 35 to 45 minutes or so total—the time will vary based on the exact temperature of your coals, so trust your judgement and adjust the time as needed. The cake will rise higher than it does with the oven method. Because the fruit is placed underneath the cobbler batter instead of on top of it, it doesn’t weigh it down. This order is to keep the fire from burning the bottom of the batter.
- Your campfire Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler will taste just as fabulous as the standard oven method!
To store: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
To reheat: Reheat gently in the microwave, then top with more ice cream (or whichever yummy topping you choose!)
Quick and Easy Stromboli
Stromboli is a type of turnover filled with various Italian cheeses and cold cuts or vegetables. The dough used is either Italian bread dough or pizza dough. Bread dough, cheese (typically mozzarella), meat or vegetables are the main ingredients.
Stromboli’s are usually thought of more with Pizza. You could say it’s a different take on a Calzone. While a Calzone is Stuffed inside of pizza dough, Stromboli’s ingredients are rolled in it. This Stromboli is a bit different. As you can see it’s not your classic pizza ingredients. In my opinion these contents give this meal more opportunity to be on the table at any time.
- Refrigerated Pizza Dough: Pillsbury Thin Crust is what I used
- Pizza Sauce: Choose the best one for your family
- Italian Salami: Always one of my favorites
- Pepperoni: Thinly sliced is best
- Mozzarella Cheese: Sliced cheese melts evenly
- Egg: Whisk together and spread over top the outside of the pizza dough.
- Italian Seasoning: Sprinkled on the outside for best
- Parsley: Freshly chopped for garnish.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll the dough out and stretch it out on a piece of parchment paper. Spread the pizza sauce leaving about 2 inches from the edge. Top with italian salami, then the cheese, and end with pepperoni.
- Roll the dough up like a cinnamon roll and pinch the edges to seal and fold where the seam is. Lay the stromboli seam side down. Brush with the egg and cut small slats on the top. Top with 1/4 cup cheese, italian seasoning and sprinkle with fresh parsley.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve with warm pizza sauce.
If your Stromboli burns before the inside is baked, your oven may run hot! Be sure to bake stromboli in the lower half of the oven for best results.
- Vegetables: Mushrooms, bell peppers, onions and black olives are great texture fillers.
- Meat: Pepperoni, bacon, Canadian bacon or sausage are fun variations of meat.
- Cheese: Mozzarella, fontina, gouda, asiago, provolone or gruyere are perfect for melting.
- Dough: Fresh or frozen dough will work great for this Stromboli recipe.
Pizza Dough Pretzels
When you suddenly get a craving for homemade soft pretzels and you’re not at the mall, you won’t need to wait for dough to rise if you use store-bought pizza dough! Serve, of course, with mustard.
- 1/4 cup (or more as needed) all-purpose flour
- 1 package (16 ounce) refrigerated pizza crust
- 1 tablespoon (or as needed) cornmeal
- 6 cups water
- 1/3 cup baking soda
- 1 recipe (for sprinkling) coarse salt
- Lightly flour a work surface. Place dough on flour and sprinkle more on top. Begin to knead dough, kneading about 2 tablespoons flour into dough until it is soft and supple but not too sticky, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Cover dough with a large bowl and allow it to rest and come to room temperature, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle lightly with cornmeal.
- Place water in a deep skillet. Whisk in baking soda to create an alkaline bath. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Adjust heat to keep water at a low simmer while you shape the dough.
- Dust dough with a sprinkling of flour as needed so that dough does not stick to work surface. Flatten slightly and divide into 6 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a round dough ball.
- Shape each dough ball into a disk, thinner in the middle, thicker around the edges. Poke a hole in the center. Gently keep pulling and stretching until you’ve achieved a round pretzel shape that’s not too thick.
- Transfer pretzels (in batches if necessary) to simmering alkaline bath. Boil about 30 seconds per side. Transfer to prepared sheet with slotted spoon. Immediately sprinkle with coarse salt while pretzels are still wet and sticky. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before baking.
- Place on center rack in preheated oven until beautifully browned, and stretch marks have formed, about 20 minutes. Exact times will depend on the specific size and shape of your pretzel.
- Transfer to a rack to cool a bit.
- Note: When you’re shaping the dough into rings, be sure to stretch them out, so your pretzels are not too thick. If you make them too fat, they become too bready. Larger, thinner dough rings will give you a chewier pretzel, closer to the ones you get at the mall.
Crab and Cherry Tomato Fettuccine
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound fettuccine
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- Two 14-ounce cans cherry or baby Roma tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 cup jumbo lump crabmeat, picked through for shells
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
- Torn basil leaves, for garnish, optional
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for 2 minutes less than the package directions. Drain well, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
- Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, shallots, garlic and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes.
- Deglaze the skillet with the white wine, then bring to a boil and cook until almost entirely evaporated, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and oregano; bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the crabmeat and butter, stirring until the butter is emulsified. Add the pasta and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water, and sprinkle the plain pasta with the Parmesan before stirring. Using two spoons, toss well to coat.
- Continue cooking until the pasta is al dente, adding additional pasta water as needed, 2 more minutes
- Serve sprinkled with additional Parmesan and torn basil, if desired