We designed this space with such grandeur it was essential to use this natural crystal light fixture to add a human scale to it.  The walls are hand embroidered panel and the carpet is inspired by Monet in style.


Can you believe this room was all pine — head to toe smothered in knotty pine. A modern lacquer technique and a lot of editing transformed this entire space. Check out the before and after At Home in Fairfield County Magazine.
📷 Mixit, Inc.

Food and Wine Magazine: Recipes

Part of making a healthy lifestyle a priority is taking the time to cook well rounded meals.

Part of making a healthy lifestyle a priority is taking the time to cook well rounded meals.  I’ll be the first to admit that I am not one to spend a lot of time in the kitchen; however, I do want to help my kids learn the importance of cooking at home rather than relying on pre-made, processed foods or indulgent takeout meals.  I love Food and Wine Magazine because it has really inspired me to cook at home.  Many of the recipes not only look delicious, but are dishes I can actually see myself preparing at home.

I’d like to feature some of the recipes that catch my eye from time to time as part of my commitment to sharing how important health and fitness are to me.  Preparing dinner at home more often is a reasonable goal for anyone, no matter how busy, and is a great part of an overall healthy approach to mealtimes.  Here are some recipes that recently caught my eye!

SalmonMustard Salmon with Cannellini Bean Ragu

Serves 4



3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 large shallot, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tomatoes, chopped

2 tsp finely chopped thyme

salt and pepper

2 15 oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

3/4 cup chicken stock

1 head escarole (3/4 lb), with dark leaves discarded and remaining leaves torn

2 oz prosciutto, chopped

1/2 tsp grated lemon zest


extra virgin olive oil

4 skinless salmon fillets, 4 oz each

salt and pepper

1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tbsp whole grain mustard

2 tsp dry white wine

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp finely chopped thyme

1.  Make the ragu.  In a deep skillet, add the oil, shallot, and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, thyme, and a pinch each of salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes start to break down, 4 minutes.  Add the beans and stock and simmer until the beans are hot, 2 minutes.  Add the escarole, prosciutto, and lemon zest and cook over moderately high heat, stirring until the escarole is just wilted, 4 minutes.  If the bean ragu is too thick, add a little water.

2.  Prepare the salmon.  Preheat the broiler.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and brush it with oil.  Season the fish with salt and pepper and set on the baking sheet.  In a bowl, whisk both mustards with the wine, 2 teaspoons of oil, the garlic, thyme, and a pinch each of salt and pepper.  Broil the salmon fillets 6 inches from the heat for 2 minutes, until the top just starts to brown.  Spoon the mustard on the salmon and broil for 5 minutes, until the fish is nearly cooked through and the top is browned.  Spoon the bean ragu into bowls, top with the fish, and serve.

Balsamic Figs

Balsamic Figs

1 lb fresh Black Mission figs, stemmed and halved lengthwise

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

6 basil leaves, thinly sliced

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Kosher salt and pepper

Toasted crostini, for serving

Goat cheese, for serving

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan.  Lightly brush the cut sides of the figs with olive oil and grill until lightly browned and warm, 2 minutes.  Transfer the figs to a bowl and top with the basil, balsamic vinegar, and the 2 tbsp of olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Toss to coat and let stand for 20 minutes.  To serve, top crostini with goat cheese and figs.

What is your favorite source for memorable recipes?


Swordfish Provencale

A favorite seafood of mine, swordfish is a mild tasting, white-fleshed fish.

A favorite seafood of mine, swordfish is a mild tasting, white-fleshed fish.  It is also a heart healthy choice because of its omega 3 fats.  Swordfish is particularly good grilled either as a steak or kebobs.  It’s also delicious broiled or sautéed.

During the times when I cannot the grill swordfish, I like to cook it in a provencale sauce made with olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, onions, and herbs. When I cook this for my family, I will add clams and mussels to the dish, making it a much heartier meal.

Swordfish ProvencalSwordfish Provencal 10Serve a side dish of linguini for those who want pasta, add crusty bread for dipping, and you have a meal that pleases everyone.

Swordfish Provencale


4 8 oz swordfish steaks, 1 inch thick

1 lb mussels, cleaned (optional)

12 little neck clams, cleaned (optional)

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 28oz can San Marzano tomatoes

¼ c extra virgin olive oil

1 c white wine

1/2 c fresh basil, chopped

1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped

¼ tsp hot pepper flakes (optional)

crushed black pepper

Sea salt to taste

½ to 1lb fresh or dry linguini (optional)

Serves 4

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil.  Sauté the garlic and onions till golden,  then add the black crushed pepper and red crushed pepper.  Cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the white wine and stir the mixture, letting the flavors absorb.  Crush the tomatoes by hand and add them to the pan.  Stir in the chopped basil and parsley, then season with the sea salt.  Add more pepper if needed.  Let the mixture simmer.

Remove the skin from swordfish, and cut away the darker areas, and place in the sauté pan, spooning sauce over fish.  Cook for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, steam the cleaned clams and mussels in a separate pot.  Once they are opened, add to the sauce and simmer until ready to serve.  Adjust the seasoning to taste.

If you are preparing the linguini as a side dish, boil water in a separate pot, add linguini, and cook as directed.  Drain the linguini and place in bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.  Chop some basil and parsley to add to the linguini and  toss until all ingredients are absorbed.

Transfer the swordfish steaks to warmed individual plates, add the clams and mussels with the sauce.  If serving linguini with the meal, place the swordfish, clams, and musses over the linguini and top with fresh chopped parsley.

Swordfish Provencal 2

swordfish recipe

Serve with a crusty loaf of bread and, of course, a salad.  Enjoy this delicious meal!

Pasta e Fagioli

Simple and hearty, this true peasant dish will definitely warm you up.

This is a great dish to make on a cold winter’s night.  Simple and hearty, this true peasant dish will definitely warm you up.  Pasta e fagioli translates to beans and pasta; it is often pronounced “pasta fazool” in the United States after the pronunciation of the word beans in the Neapolitan language.

Pasta e Fagioli
Pasta e Fagioli

The recipe for this soup varies based on the region or town in which it is prepared.  The consistency of the dish can also vary, with some versions being soupy while others are much thicker.  Some variations do not include tomatoes at all but are made from a broth, and some use a pancetta in the base of the sauce.

The recipe I had was pretty basic, so after looking through a few of my cookbooks I decided to go with my recipe but add a few ingredients.  As always, my measurements are estimated and you may need to adjust them.

Most recipes use dried beans, which need to be soaked as directed.  If time is a factor, canned beans can be used.  I use pancetta, but some recipes use bacon.  Both can be optional, although I feel that the pancetta gives the pasta e fagioli that extra flavor.  If you want a lighter soup, use half of the tomatoes to start with and add the rest if needed.  I also take a rind of the Parmesan cheese and add it to the mixture while cooking, a tip I learned years ago from my favorite Italian deli in the Bronx.

Parmesan Cheese
Parmesan Cheese
Cannelloni and garbanzo beans.



½ lb pancetta

1 large onion

1 carrot

1 rib celery

1 glove garlic, optional

1 14 oz. can cannelloni beans, or dried beans

1 14 oz can garbanzo beans, or dried beans

8 oz of vegetable or chicken stock

2 cups of water

1 28 oz can of San Marzano tomatoes

1/2 cup olive oil

1 Bay leaf

2 Sprigs of rosemary

2 Sprigs of thyme

1/4 cup basil, chopped

¼ cup parsley, chopped

1/2 tsp coarse black pepper

Salt and Pepper to taste

Rind of Parmesan cheese

1 lb ditalini pasta

Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1 loaf of crusty bread

Serves 4 to 6

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven.  In a food processor, chop the pancetta, add it to the olive oil, and brown until golden.  Add the coarse black pepper at this time.  Chop the garlic, onion, carrot, and celery and add to the pancetta.  Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the vegetable or chicken stock and 2 cups of water.  Crush the tomatoes by hand and add to mixture, then bring to a slow boil.  Drain and rinse the beans and add to the pot.

Wrap the thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf in a piece of cheese cloth.  Secure with kitchen twine and add to the mixture along with the chopped parsley and basil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the rind of the parmesan cheese and let the mixture simmer.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the pasta.  Cook until al dente and drain the pasta, reserving some of the liquid.  Remove the sachet of herbs and rind of cheese from the soup.  Add the pasta and some of the reserved cooking liquid to reach the desired consistency.  Check the seasoning; I usually add extra parsley and basil prior to serving.  Let mixture simmer for a few minute to give the flavors a chance to blend.

Crusty Italian Bread
Crusty Italian Bread

Ladle into soup dishes and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.  Serve with a warm crusty loaf of Italian bread and, of course, your favorite salad.


Holiday Traditions

With the start of the holidays a few weeks away, I am always brought back to the many traditions that were handed down through the generations in my family.

With the start of the holidays a few weeks away, I am always brought back to the many traditions that were handed down through the generations in my family.


We lived next door to my grandparents, so I was very fortunate to have been able to watch my grandmother as she would cook and bake.  We were quite a large family, so when the holidays came she would start to prepare days in advance by baking cookies and storing them until she was ready to use them.  Her pastas were made fresh; I remember her cutting the raviolis on the kitchen table.

Everything was homemade.  She would can and jar the vegetables and fruits from the garden that my grandfather grew to enjoy them throughout the year.  Of course, at the time I was too young to realize this was the way she was taught by her mother.


She made so many great meals and desserts, so I thought I would share her recipe for one of my favorite cookies that she baked, her melt-in-your-mouth Walnut Sticks.

I try to keep with tradition, though unlike my grandmother, I may not cook or bake everything from scratch. One of the desserts I bake every Thanksgiving is Pumpkin Pie.  This is a favorite in my house and I always make sure I bake enough of them so there is plenty to go around.

I hope you enjoy these desserts.  It’s never too late to start a tradition of your own to pass down in your family!

Walnut Sticks

Walnut Sticks Recipe


2 cups all purpose flour

1 ½ cup of dark brown sugar

1 cup Crisco or 2 sticks margarine or butter

1 cup chopped nuts

2 eggs

Use a quarter sheet cookie baking pan.  If using a full half sheet, you will need to double recipe and cooking time.

Makes approximately 2 dozen.

Mix together the flour, 1 cup brown sugar, Crisco or butter, and 1 egg.  Mix until soft enough to spread onto a cookie sheet pan.  Spread evenly, making sure it is not too thick or the cookies will be doughy and heavy; they need to be thin and crispy.  Beat the other egg slightly and spread on top of the batter.  Sprinkle the ½ cup of brown sugar on top of the batter, then spread the nuts on top.

Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely.  Cut into 1 ¼” wide and 2 ½” long cookies.

Pumpkin Pie



1 ½ cups sugar

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

1 ½ tsp. ground cloves

4 large eggs

1 can (29oz.) Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin

2 cans (12 fl.oz. each) Carnation Evaporated Milk

2 unbaked 9-inch (4 cup volume) deep-dish pie shells

8 to 16oz heavy cream for whipping

Makes 2 pies.

Mix sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in a small bowl.  Beat eggs in a large bowl.  Stir pumpkin and sugar mixture into eggs.  Gradually stir in evaporated milk.  Pour into pie shells and bake in preheated oven at 425F for 15 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 350 F and bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until knife or toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack for 2 hours, then serve immediately or refrigerate.

I usually make these pies the night before.  Just be careful not to touch the top of the pies when storing them.

Whip the cream just before serving pies; I usually add some sugar to the cream while whipping.  Enjoy!

Pollo alla Cacciatora: Hunter’s Chicken

Now that fall is officially here with cooler days and nights, we tend to start cooking heartier meals.

Now that fall is officially here with cooler days and nights, we tend to start cooking heartier meals.   One that comes to mind is Chicken Cacciatora, or Hunter’s Chicken.  Cacciatora means hunter in Italian.  In cuisine, alla cacciatora refers to a meal prepared hunter-style with tomatoes, onions, herbs, often bell pepper, and sometimes wine.

CacciatoraWhat’s great about this dish is that it can be cooked in one pot. There are many different versions of this dish, but the one I go to is from one of my favorite cookbooks:  Elodia Rigante’s Italian Immigrant Cooking.  It is filled with many wonderful recipes that were passed down in her family for generations, recipes that originated in the Apulia region in southern Italy where her parents were from.

Italian Immigrant CookingTo quote Elodia, “The best cacciatora is cooked slowly for a long time, so that the flavors in the sauce are subtle and perfectly blended, and the chicken is tender as butter.  Therefore, even though I say to let this dish simmer for an hour, if you have time simmer it for two hours on very low heat.”

The recipe calls for a whole chicken cut up, but I prefer to use chicken legs and bone in breasts.  I also like to cook with cremini mushrooms, but it is one’s preference. The original recipe adds cheese to the dish before serving, but this is optional.  I am not one to measure, so always check your ingredients.  You may have to adjust them.

mushrooms and carrots


1 chicken (5 pounds) cut in pieces, or 6 chicken legs and 4 whole chicken breasts with bones, split in half with skin removed

1⁄4 cup olive oil

1 cup flour

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms

1 cup julienned carrot

1 cup julienned green pepper

minced garlic (optional)

1 35 oz can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand

1 6 oz can of tomato paste

3⁄4 cup red or Marsala wine

1⁄2 cup of chopped fresh basil and parsley

1 tsp chopped fresh oregano

2 whole bay leaves

crushed black pepper to taste

salt to taste

grated Romano cheese (optional)

loaf of Italian bread

Serves 4

Wash and dry the chicken pieces.  Heat the oil in a deep skillet or Dutch oven.  Roll and coat each chicken piece in the flour, and brown each piece on all sides to a golden brown. Transfer the chicken to a paper towel to drain.

Sauté the onion, mushrooms, carrot, green pepper, crushed black pepper, and garlic, if you are using it, in the same skillet for 10 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and sauté for another 5 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste to thicken (you may not use the whole can), then add wine, herbs and salt, and cook over medium heat for another 5 minutes.

Add all the chicken pieces and mix well.  Turn down the heat very low, and simmer, covered, for 1 hour or longer if you have the time to do so.  Adjust the salt and pepper to your taste.  Remove the bay leaves before serving.

Serve with freshly grated cheese (optional), a nice warm loaf of Italian bread, and your favorite salad.  Enjoy!

Italian Bread

Spaghetti with Clams

When I want to cook a light meal or a side dish to go with a fish such as grey sole, I will make this dish.

This dish is one of my favorites!  It reminds me of enjoying meals in trattorias while traveling in Italy, restaurants in New York City’s Little Italy, and on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. They were good times spent with my family while enjoying great food.

When I want to cook a light meal or a side dish to go with a fish such as grey sole, I will make this dish.  The recipe is from one of my favorite chefs, Giada DeLaurentiis.  You can find this recipe and many others in her book Everyday Italian.

Everyday Italian
Everyday Italian

As Giada says in her book, “Spaghetti with clams is very different from spaghetti with clam sauce, they are not the same dish.  The first is a dish with a light, fragrant dressing tossed with whole clams and in my opinion the only way to make this dish.”

Spaghetti with Clams
Spaghetti with Clams

To make this dish you will use Manila Clams.  They are a smaller clam and are sold by the pound.  You can also use Cockles or, if you prefer a larger clam, you can use small Little Necks, which are sold by the dozen.  I use linguini instead of spaghetti, which is flat pasta.  If I can, I will buy the pasta fresh. When using fresh pasta, you may want to increase the amount used by a ¼ of a pound.

Manila Clams
Manila Clams.  Image via Pangea Shellfish.
Fresh Pasta
Fresh Pasta.  Photo from Huffington Post.

Spaghetti with Clams



1 lb dried spaghetti or linguini , or 1 ¼ lb fresh pasta

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 to 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 ½ to 3 pounds Manila clams, scrubbed clean

½ to 1 cup dry white wine

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon course black pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)

Grated Reggio Parmesan cheese

Serves 4

In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over a medium high flame.  When almost smoking, add the shallots and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and sauté until the garlic is golden brown and the shallots are translucent, about 3 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the black pepper and let it absorb for a minute.

Add the cleaned clams, wine, sea salt, chopped parsley and basil. Cover and simmer until clams have opened; discard any that do not open. Whisk in the butter to thicken the sauce slightly.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the spaghetti and cook until tender, about 8 minutes.

Drain the spaghetti, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.  Do not rinse the spaghetti with water; you want to retain the natural starches that help the sauce adhere to the spaghetti.  Toss the spaghetti with the clam mixture in the pan to coat.  Add enough of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten.

Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl.  Garnish with chopped parsley.  Ladle into individual bowls and top with the Reggio Parmesan cheese.

Serve with your favorite salad and crusty Italian bread.  Enjoy!

A good bread is a must.
A good bread is a must.  Image from Mad Foods.