March’s Delicious Offerings And It’s Already The End of April…

I wrote this a while ago and realized it hadn’t been posted, their such beautiful memories I didn’t want them to stay on my computer. Enjoy!

I haven’t blogged in quite a while, but I’ve been writing a lot in notebooks and mental scratch paper because my words have been spent teaching and quieting down to prepare to teach. I’m loving the whole process, but sometimes I just need to make a fantastic meal and everything else falls into place. I’ve been quite busy—life’s comings and goings and all the other crazy business that comes with cooking and teaching yoga in Los Angeles, but I couldn’t be happier. My niece will be celebrating her 2nd birthday at the beginning of April so the thoughts for menu and preparations are working in my mind.

I had the great privilege of catering a sweet friend of mine’s (Lizzi) baby shower for her sweet new daughter Audrey, who is on the way. Her wonderful family and friends came together in a beautiful home in Lake Sherwood over food, drinks and anticipation of the families’ grandchild. Love definitely filled the whole occasion from the gorgeous photos to the intricate details of months of planning, it was a beautiful event and I’m so grateful Unrivaledkitch was able to partake in the festivities. Here are a couple of phone photos I was able to take from the event.

arranchini baby shower lizzi chicken baby shower crab cakes egg salad

My sister celebrated her 30th birthday on 3/12. We had the family over for a huge lasagna party. And I’m not joking about “huge.” I spent about 5 hours making the perfect bolognese sauce with just the right amount of everything. A mental recipe that I’ve spent years crafting, but it makes it out for special occasions such as birthdays. I also made a very special creamy bechamel sauce with a hint of nutmeg and Parmesan cheese and layers of luscious meat and cheese sauce, over slowly baked pasta sheets and a touch of ricotta and mozzarella for an added richness. We had plenty left over and I think I probably had lasagna for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next couple of days, which was perfectly fine for me. We also had an antipasto salad and finished the meal off with my sister’s favorite, pistachio pie, made by my mom from years of birthday tradition. It was so nice to have everyone around the table to share such a special day with my sister!


Last week I had the great pleasure of sharing my cooking with a fellow yoga teacher. She contacted me after a bit of a scare taking on a 70-person baby shower—for anyone, it is a bit of a shocker. I prepared a delicious roasted vegetable salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette for 70 people and she graciously picked it up from the yoga studio. I’m so grateful to be able to help take some of the pressure off of such a loving event.


I’m so appreciative of the opportunity to bring my food to my friends and family as well as extended acquaintances. I hope everyone is having a wonderful March! Though the time seems to be flying by, thanks for taking a moment with me to reflect on these special culinary events.


Maleeya’s First Birthday Celebration and Catering

My niece, Maleeya, just recently turned one on Easter, which was April 8th, so we decided that it would be a good idea to celebrate Easter with our family, including a small birthday celebration for her and then, the following Sunday, have her huge birthday celebration at the park. First birthdays, and birthdays in general, are a huge deal for the Fujitaki family, so we knew it was going to be a big production to get everything together; naturally, I was in charge of the food. As the number of guests grew and grew as we approached the party date, I knew that I was in for a good weekend full of catering and cooking, which felt nice because I haven’t done a large event in a while, but boy did my body feel it after cooking for 14 hours, not to mention the countless hours in preparation, shopping, organizing and sourcing. Needless to say, I slept a lot the next day and took a completely necessary yoga class to get my aching back and feet back to normal. 
I didn’t have time to make the cakes but these are pretty darn cute!
The final count for Sunday was about 65 people and I think there seemed to be even more people than that. I have no problem making a lot of food for a lot of people, but with space limitations, refrigeration limitations and my new time limitations (aka Yoga Teacher Training), I found myself planning a different sort of menu.  One person cooking for 65 people in a residential kitchen can be a tricky thing, but with a little patience, a lot of intuition, and a calm demeanor, anything can happen.  I want to thank my sister, my parents and our friend Valinda for helping me put the last minute touches on everything and hauling it over to the park. The whole party was such a success with everyone’s help and I’m so grateful to be a part of such an amazing family and extended family and friends. It’s such a beautiful feeling to see how much love is surrounding this amazing little girl and how it shapes and molds her lovely little soul. Happy Birthday Maleeya! Auntie loves you so much.

Roasted Chicken, Sundried Tomato, Mozzarella and Spinach Basil Pesto Sandwich on Rosemary Garlic Bread
Chinese Spiced Pork Tenderloin (Char Siu) Sandwich on Toasted French Roll with Spicy Asian Mayo, Cucumbers, Pea Shoots and Carrots
Roasted Salmon Lettuce Wraps with Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula, and Quinoa
Sliced Turkey Pinwheels with Hearts of Romaine and CheeseScallion, Black olive and Celery Potato Salad
Rainbow Pasta Salad with Roasted Peppers, Tomatoes, Red Onion and Colby Jack Tossed in Red Wine Vinaigrette
Orzo Salad with Stripped Beets, Broccoli, Cranberries and Fresh Spinach Tossed in Sherry Vinegar Dressing
Purple Cabbage Coleslaw with Honey, Peanuts, Carrots and Granny Smith Apples
Vegetable Platter And Fruit Platter



Dinner for 8: Happy Birthday Big Sister Keek‏

Birthdays are my favorite occasions to celebrate. I always have some extravagant plan for someone I love, if it’s at all possible to get done.  The weekend of the 12th my big sister, Kristen, had a birthday celebration for the family, and myself and Brandon cooked for everyone. We decided on a last-minute venture all over the place, including a trip to Oxnard farmer’s market and a couple of other grocery stores on the way home. We cut the preparation pretty close, but my family is always pretty flexible when it comes to me cooking. I honestly came up with the menu last-minute, so it’s good I had Brandon with me so he could fill in my brain gaps with the menu. So here’s what we decided on for the fun of it all. (Some photos are missing)

Appetizers: Buffalo mozzarella, melon, olives, humus, and pita
Whole sautéed head on prawns with garlic
Three color: white, candy cane, and golden beet salad, with prosciutto chips, goat cheese and mixed greens with honey balsamic vinaigrette
Cabernet and Italian herb braised beef and ricotta stuffed shells
Homemade pasta filled with spinach and chicken ricotta and herbs
Homemade basil spinach pesto with pine nuts and aged Parmesan
Vine-ripened red heirloom pomodoro fresco with basil and extra virgin olive oil
Alfredo sauce over chicken-filled fresh tortelli
Tuile cookie with orange pastry cream and fresh blueberries and blackberries
I think my sister was happily stuffed and opening presents like we used to when we were kids. I loved everyone being together and seeing our little addition, Maleeya, join in the fun.  I love my family very much and my sister is a huge part of that love. I love you Keek. Happy birthday, you old lady! Just remember, I’ll always look up to you just like I did when we were little like monkey. You’re the best sister ever.

Marinating Meats and Pig Belly Chef Ideas‏

Lavish dinners are always in my repertoire of things I like to do. I think this one takes the cake for best meal or close to best meal of the month so far.  I love marinating meats. One of my fortes in cooking is preparing sauces and marinades. I love the strength of a good marinade and its capability to turn something that’s just ordinary into something absolutely extraordinary. So for this marinade, I decided to create two different styles of flavor. I don’t necessarily know if I meant to eat all this in one meal or break it into two meals, but I wanted to cook both proteins anyway, so that’s just what we did.

If you haven’t had pork belly, you should eat it right away. Pork belly is brilliant, fatty, decadent and delicious. The sweetness and tartness of the tangerine is a really nice combination with sort of Spanish flavors. I love balsamic marinated steaks. They give that luxurious feeling of tartness and the char that you get when vinegar is grilled is something that is an unlikely flavor combination. I can’t really say anything more about sausage and Swiss chard. It’s probably one of my favorite combinations, though I do love a little rapini as well. But the Swiss chard gives a little bitterness and crunch to the polenta, along with sweet red onions and spicy pork sausage with fennel and other Italian seasonings, you honestly can’t go wrong. If you took the sausage out, and made spicy red onion marmalade with Swiss chard and rapini, that would be delicious as well.


Balsamic, Honey, Garlic, Parsley and Worcestershire Sauce Marinated and Grilled Skirt Steak

Tangerine, Cumin, Coriander, White Wine and Cilantro Marinated Pork Belly Slow-Braised Then Seared

Spicy Italian Sausage Polenta with Swiss Chard and Red Onion

Grilled Asparagus and Grilled Zucchini

It’s unlikely that you’ve cooked with me, unless we worked together.  I have to be in the right mood to cook with others, and since I’ve mostly cooked on my own for the last year and a half, it’s a learning experience to cook with someone else in the kitchen. I love teaching and showing people how to cook something new, but I think it’s a mindset; you need to be in that mode of thinking. If I’m just creating from a space of freedom, it’s harder for me to vocalize exactly what needs to be done. Lucky for me, I have Bistecca who already pretty much knows what I’m thinking anyway and if I have my moments of insanity, he already knows how to deal with them. Like the occasional, “Hey don’t burn my stuff!” Even though he’s cooked a million steaks and grilled a billion vegetables before. I can be quite the kitchen tyrant at times; it’s a territorial thing. He got a pretty amazing meal out of it, so I think it was worth it. I’m sure you’ll see many a brilliant meal from the two of us in the future, but this one was pretty phenomenal.



Why Write Recipes When You Can Just Cook?

I cook often. If I could blog as easily as it seems for me to whip something up to eat in the kitchen, I’m sure I could fill another four blogs with my recipes. But as most of you know, I cook with more intuition than I do with recipes. Recipe writing is an art, a skill, a talent and I’m trying my hardest to be able to do more of it, but sometimes it’s very difficult for me to do so because I was never taught to cook from recipes; I was taught by watching the people I love, make the food they love.  I hope even if there aren’t recipes per se on my blog about everything I cook, if you’re curious about how to make something or how I’ve made something, you do a little research – say hello, drop me a tweet, facebook comment, e-mail, or whichever way we chat, let me know and I’ll come up with a way for you to make it happen. Here are some of the dishes I’ve photographed in the last week of ideas and meals we’ve enjoyed at home. I want to come back and write recipes for them all, hopefully one day I will. But here are the descriptions and a couple of quick recipes. I hope you enjoy these tasty ideas.


Romaine Hearts and Arugula Salad with Minced Beet, Pears, Pistachios, Avocado, Cucumber and Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 romaine heart, cored and sliced into small pieces

8 oz arugula

1 large beet, boiled or roasted, peeled and minced into small pieces

1 avocado, diced

1/4 cup of shelled pistachios

1 pear, peeled and thinly sliced

½ hot house cucumber, sliced

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Black pepper


To make dressing

Add balsamic, honey and Dijon together and add a pinch of black pepper and salt. Mix together well and then slowly pour in extra virgin olive oil till incorporated. Use less or more oil for your desired consistency.

Combine all vegetables in large bowl, except for beets, and toss with vinaigrette.

Before serving, sprinkle on minced beets and consume.

 Black Pepper and Herb Roasted Turkey Breast with White Wine Cherry Tomato Basil Sauce and Lemon Zest served aside Roasted Red Potatoes

Roasted Red Potatoes

Approx. 3 lbs of medium to small-sized red potatoes, quartered and washed, but not peeled

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons minced sage

1 tablespoon minced rosemary

4 cloves garlic, minced



In a large pot, add red potatoes, cover with cold water and add salt to taste.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cook potatoes in water until almost done, about 15-20 minutes, but still having firmness when poked with a fork.

Drain water from the potatoes.

Place the potatoes in large bowl and add a couple pinches of salt, pepper, garlic, herbs, and ½ of the oil, incorporate well and place on a large baking sheet. Then pour the rest of the oil over the top of the potatoes.

Put the potatoes in preheated oven and cook for about 15 minutes. Take potatoes out and shake and stir them loose to roast other sides another 10-12 minutes, till crunchy on the outside, but soft on the inside.

Serve with your favorite meat or vegetables.

Carrot California Chile Colorado with Braised Beef served over Black Rice with Roasted Beet Greens and Garlic and Romaine topped with Avocado

Sliced Turkey, Roasted Zucchini, Mushrooms, Almond Butter, Spicy Carrots and Rice Noodles topped with Almond Cilantro “gremolata”

New York Strip Milanese (New York Steak seasoned with cumin, coriander, black pepper and lemon, then breaded in panko and deep fried) served with Slow-Cooked Black and Pinto Beans with Roasted Garlic and Tomato Spanish Rice

Potato, Sausage and Kale soup with Red Pepper Flakes and Parmesan




Las Vegas: TOOL, Va Bene Caffe and Estiatorio Milos

I don’t know how to explain the magic that is TOOL live. It’s a complete experience that transcends me beyond what I think is honest and real, into the purest sense of reality without hesitation. My best friend, Virginia, and I traveled from the center of downtown Los Angeles to Mandalay Bay Event Center in Las Vegas, NV 1/15 Sunday afternoon, just in time to see our 8:00 p.m. show. Pressing our luck with time, nothing would stop us from getting to our destination to have our souls shattered open by the vast depths of the music that is TOOL. I’ve been listening to TOOL for a huge portion of my life and have seen them in concert once before in ’07 in Los Angeles. I was completely open and in the whole experience for those precious moments that never fail to show me something I’ve never felt before. There’s no way I could tell you how much this meant to me and what it’s done for my mental sanity.
Set List
Hooker With A Penis
Ticks & Leeches
Schism (Extended Intro)
Forty-Six & 2
The Pot
While in Vegas, of course we had to partake in at least one amazing meal or else it would have been a loss of a great culinary experience. I love Vegas; not for the other sin city attractions, but for the food. My first after 21 Vegas experience was the most amazing time filled with lots of brilliant food and great menu scouting all up and down the strip. My favorite part of Las Vegas is the food and the amazing ideas that come along with it. Virginia and I roamed the strip looking at all the gorgeous attractions that make up Vegas. All the glamour and glitter worked up quite an appetite.
As we walked through the Bellagio, The Cosmopolitan, and Aria, we found ourselves taking extra time in The Cosmopolitan looking at the beautiful chandelier bar and in between window shopping we decided to stop over to Va Bene Caffe for a coffee and a sweet snack.  I had a cannoli and Aranciata, which is an Italian orange beverage that I’ve loved for years now. The cannoli was a little sweeter than I normally like, but the texture of the ricotta and the slight citrus flavor in the creamy center, with a perfectly crunchy shell and chocolate dipped sides with pistachios made my mouth water–a delicious decadent snack.  After walking around taking in the vast and lavish sights that are sin city, we decided to finally stop for lunch.
Virginia found a teleprompter, which gave us listings for restaurants in The Cosmopolitan and we decided to check out Estiatorio Milos. Milos is a stylish and classically chic restaurant with a beautiful color palate of woodsy browns and beige tones. The architecture of the restaurant is something to be seen; the center dining room overlooks the main focal point, the open kitchen in the corner, which has a large display of fresh vegetables and fruits, then on large piles of crushed ice, is the freshest fish that you could ask for, all decoratively placed with precision. The style of food that Milos offers is the freshest fare possible, with Greek influences and Mediterranean flavors. My passion for Mediterranean flavors is an ever expanding bank of culinary knowledge. I find it fascinating, elegant, truthful and pure in so many of its forms. This was probably the highest form of elegant Greek food I’ve ever had and that in itself was an amazing experience.
We eagerly perused the menu, which was in the set of a 3-course prix fixe, where you have the choice of one, amongst a wide variety of each: appetizer, entree and dessert. Virginia is a pescatarian and there were plenty of amazing options for her to eat.  She chose the Greek Meze Plate for her appetizer, which came with three varieties of spreads, pita, kalamata olives, and cherry tomatoes. All the spreads were topped extra virgin olive oil from Greece and were very fresh and delicious.
Htipiti: Red pepper spread – a chunkier, fire-roasted red pepper flavor with bold notes of garlic and lemon
Tzatziki: cucumber and herb infused white cream  spread – completely smooth and pure white, which tasted just of cucumber and perfect seasoning
Tarama: Fish roe with caper spread – slightly fish fragrant flavor spread with salty capers
Seared scallop with a salad of orange, fennel, red onions and Greek olive oil
The scallop was seared to perfection–that still opaque center with perfect grill marks and the best seafood flavor and texture possible. A slight seasoning highlights the true flavors of the scallop in a perfect way. This dish was a simple and to the point scallop preparation with scrumptious results.
Tuna Burger with fried zucchini and aioli
The tuna burger was not your run-of-the-mill option. The tuna was high quality and masterfully seasoned with Asian flavors such as soy sauce, ginger, and orange. The burger was topped with small ribbons of red onion and fennel with a toasted sesame seed bun. A wonderful run of textures concluded on your pallet when biting into this whole concoction.
Lavraki: Grilled Mediterranean Sea Bass
This bass was a flawlessly prepared whole fish. The seasoning was a triumph and the expertly cooked flesh of the bright flavorful fish was beyond explanation.  One bite and that kind of sigh of happiness comes over your body as you realize you have a whole plate to go. There’s something about whole fish that just makes sense; it takes the simplest idea and perfects it with capers, olive oil, and the brightness of lemon. I thought to myself, ” I could eat this my whole life”, as I finished the body of the fish, combing over the crunchy collar pieces and plucking out the succulent cheek flesh for the last bites as a savage carnivore. I found myself in the presence of collective genius.
Walnut cake with mint sorbet
A moist brown cake with lots of walnuts, seemingly light and dense both at the same time, was placed in front of us for our enjoyment. The mint sorbet cleaned the pallet and added a refreshing element to the cake.
Yogurt Martini
Sweet, creamy yogurt topped with passion fruit preserves, offering a mouth-watering and luscious way to end a fantastic meal.
Throughout our meal, we shared sentiment and quiet moments with delicious food, not to mention phenomenal service from wait staff and kitchen staff at the top of their game at a moment’s notice. Though we were in for a late lunch, we were taken care of as if we were the first guests to arrive–with precision and grace. I’m so glad that we were able to experience this incredible meal together. Virginia is a gift in my life and I’m so blessed to be able to share these phenomenal moments with her.

Homemade Sauce and Wheat pita Balsamic BBQ Chicken Pizza

For holiday presents this year, I decided to take on some jarring adventures. I made homemade tapenade with rosemary, tomatoes and black olives; marinara with mirepoix, fresh basil and parsley; spicy marinara with roasted garlic and red pepper flakes (Arrabbiata sauce); and balsamic barbecue sauce with brown sugar, molasses and aged balsamic vinegar. With everything that I’ve tried and translated into other things, jarring is one of the techniques that I haven’t implemented that often, so this was a great new experience. These sauces are some of my favorite things to have on hand and to make, but they are intended to be slow-simmered and aren’t suitable to make on a whim, which is why I decided to take the work out of it for my family and friends and jar them up and give them as gifts. Nothing is like giving a gift from the heart, especially at Christmas, and as a chef, there is no more personal gift I can give than something I have made.

The flavors meld well together after they have been jarred and served with your favorite things such as toasted foccacia and goat cheese with tapenade or simply crackers and tapenade, spaghetti with marinara, penne with arrabiata, or lasagna made with homemade sauce. The sauces give these dishes the slow-cooked feel, but can be made in half the time since the sauce is pre-made. Balsamic BBQ pizzas made with roasted chicken on a wheat pita topped with cilantro, red onions and mozzarella cheese, BBQ glazed chicken breast, or balsamic BBQ ribs are other great ways to enjoy the homemade BBQ sauce. I love the many uses of such versatile sauces for the holidays, when we’re so busy doing too much that we could use a little home cooking ready in the fridge.
Quick Recipe
Wheat pita Balsamic BBQ Chicken Pizza
1 wheat pita
2 sprigs cilantro, off the stem
1/4 cup roasted chicken, shredded
1 tablespoon red onion, minced
3 tablespoons Balsamic BBQ or 2 tablespoons regular BBQ sauce with 1 teaspoon Balsamic vinegar mixed in.
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Place pita in the center of a large baking sheet and spread 2 tablespoons of BBQ sauce or more if desired.
Then add shredded chicken and cilantro, sprinkling over pizza evenly.
Add mozzarella and place cilantro and red onions on top.
Drizzle with last tablespoon of BBQ sauce.
Bake in preheated oven about 8-10 minutes until pita is crispy and cheese has melted.
Cut and serve warm.
I jarred the sauces and my sister made baskets with the bells and whistles, some dry spaghetti, bottle of wine and a box of crackers. Sometimes giving is as simple as a sauce.
Here are a couple of links I found useful about jarring if you’re interested:
Lots of Love

Capellini Green Beans and Sweet Tomato Sauce

I’m pasta crazy. I always have been and I always will be. It’s one of my favorite things to eat in the world. I first had something similar to this dish at a friend’s house with bread instead of pasta and so much oil I thought I had it coming out of my pores, but now I know it’s completely necessary to have all that delicious fruity olive oil in this dish. The combination of crispy green beans, onions, tomatoes and a bit of sugar, melts into one wonderful sauce. All these elements just work for me. I hope they do the same for you.  Enjoy

Capellini Green Beans and Sweet Tomato Sauce
2 cups trimmed green beans or haricot vert, cut into bit sized pieces
1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
Black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon minced parsley or 1 teaspoon dry parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ red onion, minced
½ teaspoon red chili flake
4-8 ounces of water
Minced cooked chicken (Optional)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ pound capellini pasta
In a large pot, salt and boil water. Add trimmed green beans to the water and cook for 3 minutes. Take out of hot water and set aside. Leave water boiling for pasta.
In a large to medium sized pot add oil to pan and heat until hot. Add onions and garlic. Saute until translucent, about 5-8 minutes.
Add red chili flakes, pepper, parsley (if using dry), and sugar to onion mixture and incorporate.
Add tomato sauce and diced tomatoes to sauce. Add 8 ounces of the water from the pasta pot to the mixture and cook for 10 minutes.
Add green beans to mixture and incorporate. Cook until warmed through and beans are the texture you desire.
Add chicken last and parsley (if using fresh).
Cook pasta in water until barely done 3 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving some water in case the sauce needs to be loosened.
Add pasta to sauce and finishing cooking in tomatoes.
If sauce is not thin enough, adjust consistency with pasta water.
Adjust for spiciness and salt content.
Finish with extra fresh parsley and good extra virgin olive oil.
Plate and eat.
Don’t cook capellini ahead of time ever; you’ll have a messy blob of pasta on your hands.
Also, mastering finishing the capellini in the sauce is the key to the sauce sticking to the pasta perfectly, with just the right amount of shine and no watering.
Good luck



Little Brother’s Big 25 and Recipe for Pork Chop “Saltimbocca”

As time goes by, it seems that things change and we get lost in the adult whirl wind of life. Though I don’t believe I’m truly an adult at heart, the time has come to come to grip with the fact that I’m not a kid anymore either. I’ll always find humor in being young forever; the people around me of all ages are so young at heart that I could never age myself by dwelling on a number. Seeing as my great-grandma is 97 years old, she’s proof that there’s still so much life to live and no number is going to change that.  My brother is now 25, which is insane. He’s accomplished so much for being 25, I’m proud of him every day.
Me, Kyle in the red and my sister Kristen behind
Kyle, Kristen, and Me
I always picture us so young, but we aren’t and that’s okay too. We’ll always be running around making fun of each other, punching and talking trash to one another, no matter how old we are. I’m so glad to have such an amazing family.
Happy birthday, I love you little brother.
So for Kyle’s birthday I made dinner for our family and his wife’s family as well. There were 11 of us at the table, enjoying each other’s company and the food that was made. I fashioned this menu from some things that came to mind while utilizing my limited refrigerator space after Thanksgiving and refashioning some left over at that.
Balsamic, Honey, Spinach and Arugula Salad with Cucumber, Tomato, Mozzarella and Red Onions
Caprese Salad with Imported Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Chicken Marsala with Roasted Baby Bellas, Shitake Mushrooms and Steak Button Mushrooms
Center-cut Pork Chop “Saltimbocca” with Crispy Sage,  Prosciutto di Parma, and Bruleed Mozzarella Cheese with Champagne Sage Beurre Blanc
Butternut Squash Mashed Potatoes
Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts, Parmesan and Banana Peppers
Tri-Colored Rotini Pasta with Parmesan Cream Sauce, Roasted Green Beans and Honey Baked Ham
Saltimbocca which translates in Italian to Jumps in mouth, can be prepared in a variety of ways, and originates from different places in the world. Traditionally it is a Roman, Italian dish, which includes veal, sage and prosciutto that is rolled and cooked in a sweet butter wine sauce.  This recipe isn’t traditional, but a bit of a spin on what I know to be saltimbocca. I love the use of pork chops in this dish because it’s an elegant way to make an affordable delicious meal, since veal can be costly. So the next time you have pork chops and want to try something new, think about this.
Center-cut Pork Chop “Saltimbocca” with Crispy Sage,  Prosciutto di Parma, and Bruleed Mozzarella Cheese with Champagne Sage Beurre Blanc
15 sage leaves
4 tablespoons butter
5 center cut (½ inch to ¾ inch) pork chops
5 slices Parma prosciutto
5 slices whole milk mozzarella
1 cup  dry white wine or brute champagne (I used left over from the past evenings festivities)
1/2 cup vegetable stock or chicken stock
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Garlic power
¼ cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Season pork chops with salt, pepper and garlic powder on both sides.
Place in the bottom of large sauté pan, 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Heat until sizzling.
Add sage leaves to hot oil mixture and fry until lightly crisp, about 5 minutes (careful not to burn). Then remove from oil and set aside.
Add one more tablespoon of butter to pan and heat until melted.
Then add prepared pork chops.
Depending on thickness, cook on each side about 3 minutes or until golden on each side.
Place in baking dish and add two leaves of sage to each pieces of pork, one slice of prosuitto, and top with one slice of mozzarella.
Add remainder of butter, lemon juice and wine to pan and reduce by half on medium heat about 5-7 minutes.
Then add stock to pan as well and reduce for an additional 5 minutes.
To finish, add cream to sauce until thickened and the sauce comes together loosely.
Taste for seasoning
Add ½ of the sauce to the bottom of the baking pan with the pork.
Finish pork chops off in 400 degree oven for 6-7 minutes, but depending on the size of chops. You can use a meat thermometer to make sure it reads 150 degrees in the center of the chop.
Lastly, place pork chops in the broiler to brulee cheese to a golden brown.
Place on platter to rest 5 minutes.
Heat sauce and ladle over top of chops, adding extra sage for garnish.
Serve with mashed potatoes or your favorite vegetables.

Spinach and Cabbage Minestrone

What is Minestrone?  It’s said to be a soup comprised of the things you have on hand; maybe vegetables, meat, broth, beans or pasta. In Italian, minestrone, roughly translated, means the big soup. The kind of minestrone I like, is simmered for long periods of time, made with love and flavor that’s suited to my own pallet, which tends to include what I’ve recently bought at the market. I like perfectly plump white beans that have been simmered with onions, carrots, bay leaves and a slight heat from some red chili flake with tons of vegetables, cooked for different lengths of time to very textures.

I also love tomatoes in my minestrone. They bring richness, sweetness and acid, to a sometimes watery sea of vegetables. I used to make about five 22 quart containers of minestrone every week for the restaurant I used to work in, but this is not that minestrone. This is a combination of the flavors I had on hand, spices I love and flavors I adore, with an inspiration and a memory of the essence of what we used to create.
Very seldom do I keep to my old recipes, but I often try to escape new light into old favorites and this is just that. I won’t be able to tell you just how to make it, because there is no certain way to tell this particular tale in perfect soups, but know years of minestrone down the road, you’ll find the exact recipe you’re looking for and it probably won’t be written down. As you know, most of my recipes are ideas and schemes I’ve put together on the fly. I hope during these fall festivities you find yourself with a delicious bowl of hearty soup.

Ingredients I used:

Brown onion
Garlic, mashed
Diced tomatoes
Slow cooked Fresh white northern beans
Bay leaf
Red pepper flake
Black pepper
Garlic powder
Olive oil
Finishing  with best olive oil you can get your hands on
Tips and Tricks
Always cook root vegetables first, because they need the longest times to break down and develop flavor.
Soft vegetables and herbs can be placed in last minute, to maximize flavor and texture retention.
If using canned tomatoes, develop flavor by cooking them for a longer period of time with root vegetables.
Beans are never cooked with salt, because they have the tendency to lose their shape and won’t absorb water well. Cook beans aside soup base and add seasoned beans to vegetables at ¾ the way through and simmer together to increase flavor in soup.
Taste your soup throughout the process.
And don’t forget, it will taste better tomorrow.