Clams casino is a regional favorite in this neck of the woods. What is not to love about any dish made with bacon, peppers and wine? But why should clams be the only ones invited to the casino? Chicken is a delicious casino variation and tastes oh-so-fine over capellini. So, all you clam haters, this one’s for you!


3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 shallot, chopped
6 pieces of bacon
3/4 pound chicken breast, cut in chunks
fresh parsley, coarsely chopped (a generous handful)
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine (I like Meridian Chardonnay)
extra-virgin olive oil
½ fresh lemon, squeezed
1 red bell pepper cut into matchstick pieces and roasted
1 tablespoon capers

Before you get started, roast the peppers in the oven. Try about 15-20 minutes in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F. Take a peek around the 10-minute mark to make sure everything’s on track and then set your timer for 5-10 more minutes.

Now, cook the bacon. Set aside on paper towels, cool, then chop or crumble finely. Don’t get rid of all the bacon drippings! Reserve enough to barely coat bottom of skillet.

This would be a fine time to set a large pot of salted water to boil for your capellini.

Meanwhile, add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet. Add chicken and cook till no longer pink.

Remove chicken and sauté the garlic and shallot. You know the drill—don’t brown it!

Add chicken broth, white wine and lemon. Add capers and roasted peppers just to get them warmed up and incorporated.

Serve in deep soup bowls over capellini. Sprinkle bacon on top and garnish with fresh parsley

And for those of you who are clam fans, check out the original clams casino capellini alla Speranza!


For as long as I can remember, my mom made broccoli and pasta–something she learned when she moved to my hometown, the sister city of Melilli, Sicily. I point this out as my Nanny wasn’t a nonna, so my mom learned Italian cooking from her neighbor, Mrs. Adorno. Then my mom passed what she learned on to me over time.

Though I wasn’t quite so fond of trees (you know, kid code for broccoli) back then, somehow, the magic of garlic and pasta with “sprinkle cheese”–always Pecorino Romano in our house–even made trees taste good. And now that I make this on my own, I’ve adapted the original recipe to include hot sausage, white beans, lemon juice and lemon zest. It’s versatile. You can add and subtract as you like. So, let’s get cookin’!


1 pound broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 shallot, chopped
Olive oil
1 pound hot sausage (I love Longhini, out of  New Haven–you can buy locally at Xpect Discounts in Cromwell)
zest and juice of half a lemon
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained (cannelini, navy beans or small white beans)
1 tablespoon or so of butter (optional)
1/2 pound pasta–try bite-sized rigatoni or double elbows (a.k.a. cellentani or cavatappi)
Note: save 1/2 cup of pasta water before you drain. Tip: put a 1/2 cup measure in your colander as a reminder!

Steam your broccoli till it’s tender, but still bright green. Timing? Oh, I don’t know. Set the timer for 5 minutes or so after it boils and stick a fork in it to check after that.

Meantime, boil a pot of water, add salt, cook pasta according to package instructions. Save a 1/2 cup of the pasta water before you drain it.

Sautee garlic and shallot in a skillet. You know the drill: don’t let it brown! Add sausage, breaking up into bite-sized pieces as it cooks. Once the sausage is no longer pink, add the beans to warm them up. Then add the lemon zest and juice along with the broccoli and pasta. Let the butter melt in as you toss. Add however much pasta water you like to make a bit of a sauce. You may find you like it with more or less–it’s up to you.

Serve with grated Pecorino Romano and crushed red hot pepper flakes. And a nice glass of wine, if you like. This reheats beautifully with a spin in the microwave.

So, what will be your pasta shape of choice for this dish? Back in the day, it seems ziti was a popular pick overall. For this broccoli dish, it was often elbows. For vodka sauce, penne. And for sauce in general, spaghetti or perhaps the occasional screws (rotini). Screws is a funny word, anyway. Especially because in its singular form, it was a verb in my family: “Oh, really? Well, screw that!”

Hot summer days scream for meals you can pull together quickly without heating the house too much. So I share with you (ta-da!): tapenade pasta. I serve it warm, but you can eat it cold as suggested in the original video recipe I found on How can you not love their site for its tagline alone: “Italians do eat better.” We sure do. So can you.

inspired by Chef Alessandro of

Serves 4

1 pound pasta*
1 pint grape tomatoes—leave half whole, cut remainder in half
4 oz. Kalamata olives, pitted
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon anchovy paste (please trust me–you won’t taste a hint of fish in this dish!)
1 clove garlic
basil (handful of leaves)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon (organic is nice if you can find)—juice and zest

*I made it with penne rigate, but also love it with Sclafani’s double elbows (a.k.a “bouble elbows”). Typos are fun. 🙂

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, put half of the tomatoes (the whole ones) in your food processor along with the basil, Kalamatas, anchovy paste, garlic, capers and lemon juice.

Chop/grind, then blend in add olive oil.

Drain pasta; transfer to a large bowl (or pot), add the olive dressing, remaining tomatoes and lemon zest and toss well. Transfer the pasta to a serving dish, top with fresh basil leaves and Pecorino Romano.“It’sa so delish, everybody come capisce…”

Buon appetito, amici!

Remember the roasted grape tomatoes we made last summer? Well, though winter has felt more like spring of late, this is a much more practical time to make and enjoy them–not to mention they’re about the only tomatoes of tastiness this time of year…and they get even tastier when vodka joins the party. CENT’ANNI!

Here in the Land of Steady Habits, grape tomatoes keep popping up buy one/get one free, so no time like the present! Let’s heat things up in the kitchen!


For the tomatoes
2 pints grape tomatoes
3 large (or 6 small) garlic cloves
olive oil to coat the bottom of your baking dish
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

For the vodka sauce
1 pound hot chicken sausage, cooked/crumbled (I love Stew Leonard’s–try it if you’re local and like it hot!)
1/3 cup vodka
1 cup half-and-half (equal parts milk and cream)
zest of 1 lemon
juice of half the lemon
extra ½ teaspoon Kosher salt

First, get the tomatoes going!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Drizzle olive oil to coat 9 x 13″ glass baking dish. Roll the tomatoes around in the olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Gently smash the garlic cloves with the side of your knife–or use a garlic press–and add to baking dish. Make sure all the tomatoes are in an even layer.

Let ‘em roast for 10 minutes, give ’em a shake, then 10 more minutes of roasting and you’re done! Here’s a Yankee housewarming tip: when you’re finished, leave the oven door open and enjoy the extra warmth. Ma, this one’s for you for all the times you have reminded me to do this–now EVERYBODY knows! HA HA!

While the tomatoes are roasting…
Now’s a good time to get a BIG pasta pot boiling so you can make a pound of penne. Or rigatoni. Penne rigate is my pasta of choice.

Coat a large saute pan with olive oil and cook the sausage—squeeze it from the casings and break into small pieces. Once you’ve completely cooked and crumbled the sausage, drain the excess oil and leave the sausage in the pan.

Once the tomatoes are done…
Use a potato masher to give the tomatoes a squeeze right in the baking dish. Be careful–they’re hot little devils and have a tendency to squirt where you don’t want them to go. Add 1/3 cup vodka. You’ll hear it sizzle. Sizzling is good! Squeeze half the lemon.

Now back to the pan with the sausage in it. Keep the pan on a low heat, just to simmer. Add the tomatoes, garlic and all the liquid from the baking dish to the sausage. Add the half-and-half. As it all simmers, the sauce will thicken just a bit. You’ll see. Don’t forget to add the lemon zest.

Magically–or at least when I’ve made it–by the time the penne were ready to drain, the vodka sauce was ready. Toss the drained pasta with the sauce. You should have no trouble getting six servings out of this recipe. I like to sprinkle Pecorino Romano over mine. Hope you LOVE!

Update: went to sleep in spring and woke up in winter. Take a look!

The Queen is bird-watching from the safety of her snow shelter!

This one’s for ma famiglia. All our collective years in the kitchen at home and on Bridge Street, and I don’t recall any of us ever making Bolognese. Given our love of all that is delicious–and Italian, for that matter–it’s just not right.

Since I couldn’t learn to make this dish from anyone in the fam, I found someone named Marie of Food Nouveau, Anne Burrell and the fine folks at Fine Cooking to guide me. With their help, I made the richest, meatiest sauce EVAH! I just know you’d love it. If only you were here so we could have Sunday dinner in the kitchen as we did when we were kiddos. I think it would taste much better with a bottle of wine than it did with a glass of milk back in the day on 216. CENT’ANNI!

as taught to Katty’s Kitchen by Marie of Food Nouveau, Anne Burrell and Fine Cooking

1 large sweet onion, finely diced
2 large carrots, finely diced
2 stalks celery finely diced
4 cloves garlic, pressed
Extra virgin olive oil for the pan
Kosher salt
2.5 pounds ground beef/veal/pork combo
1/3 “ thick slice of pancetta, diced (about ¼ pound)
1 cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 28-oz can whole San Marzano tomatoes (give them a quick chop in the food processor–you will use both the liquid and the tomatoes)
1 cup beef stock
fresh basil (for serving)
Pecorino Romano (for serving)
1 pound hearty pasta–I picked up something fancy from Public Market, of course!

Let’s check out the ingredients first. I don’t think I ever bought this much meatloaf mix in my life–and yes, for those of you who don’t make meatloaf or meatballs this way, it’s a mixture of ground beef, pork and veal that Middletown’s Public Market will gladly grind for you on request. That’s a generous 2.5 pounds, amici! MEATY!

Now about that fancy pasta. You’ll often see Bolognese served over tagliatelle or pappardelle, but I was drawn to these lovely shapes at Public. I researched a bit and was tickled to see mafaldine is also known as reginette (Italian for little queens). Won’t Queenie be honored to know there’s a pasta shape named for her?

All right, let’s get cookin’! Marie’s recipe calls for a fine dice to make a basic soffritto, but I used Anne’s technique. Chop the carrot, celery and onion, run the garlic through a press, add ½ teaspoon salt and don’t worry about your knife skills ’cause a food processor will do the work for you. I had to process in batches using the mini food processor, but no problem. Puree to form a coarse paste like this. Transfer to a separate bowl because you’ll need the food processor one more time to give the San Marzanos a quick buzz.

Now the pancetta!

Dice like so!

Coat the bottom of a Dutch oven (or large pot) with olive oil, bring to medium-high heat and add the vegetable puree. Cook until all the water has evaporated and the mixture becomes nice and brown. Stir frequently–this step takes about 5-10 minutes.

Next, add the pancetta and cook 10 minutes, until vegetables are softened and pancetta is golden.

Now it’s time to add the ground meat mix. Season with 2 teaspoons Kosher salt and add to the pot in thirds. Turn up the heat to medium high and brown the meat, cooking another 15 to 20 minutes (helpful to set a timer). Stir and stir and stir and stir so it browns, but doesn’t burn. Marie says you want your meat to caramelize and even become crispy in spots. Lower heat to medium toward the end of your 15-minute sautéing time (check after about 8-9 minutes). Anne Burrell says not to rush, so I took about 5 extra minutes for a total of 20 minutes as Anne suggested!

Add white wine and use it to help you scrape the brown pieces at the bottom of the pot. Stir and stir and stir. By the time you’ve gotten everything incorporated (about 2-3 minutes), the wine will have evaporated. Be careful not to let the meat stick again; lower the heat if necessary.

Add milk, cream, diced tomatoes (with liquid), beef stock, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt and some freshly ground pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat so it can simmer, half-covered, for about 4 hours. Here’s where my new friend the pot moose was very helpful.

Mr. Moose perches on the edge of the pot to vent the lid.


Everyone should have a pot moose! Mine was handmade just for me. I ♥ him.

Give the pot an occasional stir. I cooked this batch in just under 4 hours total. Toward the end of your cooking time, boil the pasta, reserve some of the water when you drain, and toss pasta with a few pats of butter and some of the pasta water, then the Bolognese. I snipped fresh basil over the top and added Pecorino Romano as well.

BUON APPETITO! Enjoy a Sunday dinner with your family! As always, wishing you were here, Nanny and Poppy. Love and miss you, Hopey

Hey, hey, Julia…your parsley sauce has been a favorite of mine since this kat first had her own kitchen. I stay true to the very basic ingredients, but along the way, I’ve adapted the prep a bit.

As I attempted to run my knife through a board of parsley, it crossed my mind:  someone smarter than you would use a food processor. So I became that smarter person. Really slick idea unless maybe you have a mezzaluna, which I do not. I’ve always kinda wanted one–not just for the tool itself, but because I like to say mezzaluna. 🙂

My beloved blue pasta bowl bit the dust in a freak no-knead bread accident earlier this year–DOH/DOUGH! However, I was lucky to find a hot, red replacement from Italy (of course!). It is IMMENSE and provides plenty of space to toss the pasta and distribute everything evenly. Be sure you have a good-sized serving bowl for this recipe. Here’s a cool pic of my new bowl from this winter. Note the snow in the background and think cool thoughts! I hope we’ll make many beautiful meals together in the years to come!

For the first time, I added crumbled sausage to this dish. I wanted some meat to go with, and Public Market’s finest chicken sausage sounded good to me, as it always does! The original recipe is meatless. If you do add sausage, half a pound or so, cooked and drained, is plenty. So, shall we? Andiamo!

adapted from Julia della Croce

2 sticks butter
3 cloves garlic, pressed
3 egg yolks
1 pound capellini (DeCecco and Delverde are my favorites)
about 2 cups or so fresh parsley, chopped
½ cup Pecorino Romano, grated

Melt butter in small saucepan. Add minced garlic and allow to infuse, slow and low.

Beat egg yolks in large bowl, where you’ll eventually toss the pasta and pull this all together.

Cook capellini according to directions on package. When you drain the pasta, quickly transfer it to the bowl with eggs while still dripping and toss with garlic and butter immediatemente to coat the pasta. Add cheese and parsley. If you’re adding sausage, get that in there, too.

Bonus points for you if you can think of a name for parsley sauce in Italian that starts with “p” besides prezzemolo. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

It sure is HOT, in and out of Katty’s Kitchen. Hope you’re staying cool. Ciao for now!

NO VAMPIRES. That’s right. There were no vampires anywhere near my neighborhood when I roasted grape tomatoes not once, but twice, last week. Even when it’s hot outside, you can pull this off with just 20 minutes in the oven.

How delicious roasted tomatoes taste over your favorite ravioli! A trip to Franklin Avenue netted me some nice meat ravs from Di Fiore and freshly-filled cannoli from Mozzicato DePasquale. But let’s get going on dinner first–it’s quick ‘n easy and oh-so good!

adapted from Food & Wine

2 pints grape tomatoes
3 large (or 6 small) garlic cloves
olive oil to coat the bottom of your baking dish
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Drizzle olive oil to coat 9 x 13″ glass baking dish. Roll the tomatoes around in the olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with kosher salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Gently smash the garlic cloves with the side of your knife and add to baking dish. Make sure all the tomatoes are in an even layer.

Let ’em roast for 10 minutes, turn ’em over, then 10 more minutes of roasting and you’re done with the oven!

I used a potato masher to give the tomatoes a squeeze. Be careful–they’re hot little devils and have a tendency to squirt where you don’t want them to go: walls and windows and clothes, oh my! Got fresh basil? I snipped some lemon basil with scissors.

Spoon over your ravioli, or pasta, or you can just eat them plain, so I’m told. I’d definitely find some good bread if I had no ravs, that’s for sure. Buon appetito from Hartford’s Little Italy and Katty’s Kitchen!

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