A juicy lamb patty, simply seasoned with fresh rosemary, salt and pepper, is delicious in its own right. But when I have a vote, I prefer mine with a homemade sauce to take it a level up in flavor.

When I first started making lamburgers , tzatziki was my go-to sauce–that creamy cucumber, lemon and dill sauce you find on a gyro. It had been so long since I made it, I was scanning recipes to refresh my memory how I put it together, when it hit me–most of these recipes are made for more than just two people. The Yankee in me hates to waste food, so I scaled it down and added parsley instead of dill. The traditional sauce is definitely Greek, but in this very Italian kitchen, as Frank sang, I did it my way. There was more than enough for two lamb patties with some leftover to spread crackers or to use a a dip for vegetables.

Not a big tzatziki fan? My other sauce of choice is salsa verde. Not a lamb eater? This would be delicious on fresh, warm pitas.


3/4 cup Fage full-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 a lemon, squeezed
2 mini English cucumbers, grated; then squeeze in a paper towel to remove excess water
1 small clove of garlic, pressed
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
drizzle of Meyer lemon olive oil (I love my Seven Barrels oils and balsamic vinegars)
handful of parsley, chopped

Whisk together yogurt, lemon juice and Meyer lemon olive oil. Add pressed clove of garlic and salt. Add some black pepper, too, if you like. Grate two mini English cucumbers, then squeeze in a paper towel or colander to remove excess water. Coarsely chop a handful of parsley and stir in. In just a half hour or so, the flavors will meld nicely enough, but if you prep it ahead of time, it will mellow out the garlic a bit more.

We had our lamburgers with mashed sweet potatoes and spinach sauteed with garlic. Told you they were juicy!



If you’ve never bought mushroom ravioli, you may never have wondered what kind of sauce to make to go with them. But mushroom ravs are things of deliciousness. And if you live in driving distance of DiFiore Pasta Co. in Hartford’s Little Italy, you really owe it to yourself to get there. Don’t like mushroom ravs? They have plenty of options, traditional and creative, and sauces to go with. And their manicotti are outta this world.

Here’s my special sauce for mushroom ravs. We’re pretty fond of this combo ’round heah. Hope you will be, too.

(for two)

2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, minced
1 rib celery, diced
8 oz. of your favorite mushrooms, sliced–plain ol’ white shrooms are fine, as are baby bellas or shiitakes
¼ cup Harvey’s Bristol Cream
Salt and pepper to taste (honestly, you can get away without it)
½ cup light cream (you can also use half-and half)*

*½ cup is plenty for 2 people; ¾ cup is nice for 1 more portion

sprinkle of tarragon or fresh lemon thyme

Set a pot of water to boil for your ravs.

Meanwhile, melt butter, sauté shallot and celery about 4-5 minutes over medium heat, then add mushrooms.

Note: This is a perfect time to add the ravioli to the pot of water, which should be boiling by now.

Add tarragon or lemon thyme if you like, cook mushrooms about 7-8 minutes. They’ll get nice and golden. Add Harvey’s Bristol Cream. Give it about a minute before you add the cream. It will get all bubbly in the pan. Now your sauce is done–and so are your ravs!


Don’t forget to swing into Modern Pastry Shop while you’re up on Franklin Ave. Their lobster tails filled with light-as-air cannoli cream are totally worth the extra calories as are their (leave the gun, take the …) cannoli.



I woke up this morning and found a message wishing me a happy anniversary. It’s been four years–162 posts!–of food and tasty beverages! Time flies when you’re having fun.

The past month, I’ve been on a frozen cheese blintz kick. It’s nice ‘n’ easy to throw a blintz in a pan with some butter and oil, then top it with homemade blackberry syrup and a sprinkle of powdered sugar. In fact, it’s so easy to make, I made the syrup today as my blintz was sizzling. Of course, it would be delish on pancakes or waffles, too. Or  ice cream. But who eats ice cream for breakfast?


6 oz. container of blackberries
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Ready for how easy this is? Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. As the berries get soft, you can use a potato masher just to break them up a bit.

Let cool and store in the fridge. Enjoy a sweet start to your day! And remember this sage advice from our friend Frank: Nice ‘n’ easy does it every time. Snap. Snap. Snap.


With meteorological summer upon us–if I may speak meteorologically with you, my amici–it’s the purr-fect time to cook up some bourbon barbecue sauce. When we make pulled pork, you’ll thank me for suggesting you have your own delicious sauce on hand.


1/2 cup bourbon
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (1/2 a teaspoon if you prefer less heat)
½ teaspoon ground chipotle
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup hot water + 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup ketchup
½ cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon coarse ground mustard

Chop the onion.

In a saucepan over medium heat, add oil; sauté garlic, onion, cumin, red pepper, chipotle and salt. Reduce heat as you go, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes till onions are soft. As always, don’t brown the garlic.

Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Let cool a bit, then blend carefully with a stick blender. Refrigerate and enjoy throughout the grilling season. Don’t have a grill? Me, either, but that’s OK, because I have a crock pot–so tomorrow, we will make pulled pork!

Note Mister SuperKewl in the photo above, by the way. He arrived last week, quite magically and by surprise. I spied him on my counter, in all his colorful glory, among my other cool collectibles. After a bit more thought, I decided he needed a real name. So meet Antonio–named after Poppy’s father.

And here’s the real Antonio, my great-grandfather, who immigrated from Italy and planted our family roots here–both figuratively and literally, as he was a farmer. He would likely wonder why I don’t have an Italian name, either (like my mom, Jane, who he called Giadi) and would call me Speranza. CENT’ANN’!

Now that we’ve made introductions, I’m off to pick up 2 pounds of Boston butt to put this sauce to good use tomorrow. If you’d like to crock along, you’ll want to grab your butt (!) along with a beer, a sweet onion and a shallot! See you soon!