Wednesday, August 31, 2011


A few weeks ago P and I joined the 21st century, tossing out our old “double wide” TV and getting a new flat screen-hi def-and internet savy stuff TV. We also tossed out Comcast for Direct TV with more channels than we will every watch. Why am I telling you this? Because the other I just happened to run across Everyday Italian as Giada De Laurentiis was describing ravioli caprese, in which the dough is made with only flour and water. Since I’ve been thinking about making ravioli for the past few weeks this seemed like something I should try.

I decided on a crab meat-ricotta- mushroom filling with a bit of Romana cheese. The ravioli will be served under a creamy fresh tomato sauce.


2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup of very hot water
Crab meant…pre cooked in refrigerated seafood section
Ricotta cheese
Mushrooms, cut into small pieces
Lemon zest
Fresh tomato sauce…described in recent posts
Heavy whipping cream


For the filling…Cook the mushrooms and garlic with dill in olive oil and allow to cool. In a bowl combine equal amounts of mushrooms, crab meat, and ricotta cheese and mix well. Add the zest on one lemon to the mix.

For the ravioli…in a large bowl combine the flour and water and mix with spoon until large clumps form. Then work with your hands for several minutes until a large ball of dough is created. Use flour to keep it from becoming to sticky. Divide the dough in half and on a well floured surface, with a well floured rolling pin, roll the dough to a thickness of abour 1/8”. This stage requires some judgment on your part. Place a dollops of filling on the dough, cover by folding over the dough and cut. Some water may be needed if the edges of the dough do not stick.

For the sauce…after warming the sauce transfer to a blender or food processor and pulse until creamy. Return to the pan and add the cream. ( Coconut milk can be substituted for the cream.)


The sauce and filling were delicious, but I was severely disappointed in the dough. I thought I rolled it as thin as I could and still have it “workable”, but it was still too heavy and thick, taking away from the the rest of the ingredients. I guess there is a limit to what you can do with just flour and water.

I will make this again…with regular pasta dough!

Note..This was the 81st pasta dinner to close out our first 4 months of pasta!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


When I began this pasta marathon I was thinking of a different dish every night until I ran out of ideas, and this would have worked. Except I did not count on the CURSE OF THE ZUCCHINI! This incredible creation of God…that masquerades as a vegetable…never stops. Every time I turn around there is another batch of fresh zucchini staring at me! And right along side of those green things are other green things, just a little skinnier..GREEN BEANS!

You’ve probably figured out where I’m going with this. Since I cannot bring myself to throw away fresh food I have not alternative but to repeat some of my pasta dishes. This, our 81st, may not be an exact duplication, but it will use familiar ingredients.


Pasta-any shell or short tubular pasta will do
Green beans, cut into 1-2” pieces
Zucchini, cut crosswise into thin pieces
Bacon, cut into small pieces
Garlic, onion
Fresh parsley, basil, dill, and oregano
Olive oil
Fresh tomato sauce (prepared earlie…see the post of 8-17
White wine
Lemon zest


Cook the bacon, remove from pan and discard the fat. Add olive oil, onion, and red pepper flakes to the pan and cook for several minutes before adding the zucchini and green beans. Add the lemon zest, herbs, and white wine and cook under cover for about 10 minutes then add the tomatoes, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Add the cooked pasta to the pan, mix well, and add the bacon bits and serve.


Wonderful! I don’t know if it is the fresh tomatoes, the wine and dill, or a little bit of everything, but this is great dish. There is also the satisfaction of using fresh, seasonal ingredients.

I can also say that this is not a repetition of a previous dish because of the fresh tomato sauce, the dill, and because I say so. Buon appatite

Sunday, August 28, 2011


With Patience out of town I thought I would try my hand (s) at making gnocchi, aka, potato dumplings. To my consternation every reference I encountered provided a different recipe for the dough, although they all agreed on the basic ingredients…potatoes, flour, and eggs. Agreeing on the ratio of these ingredients was another matter. In addition, half of the recipes called for salt and olive oil and the other half turned up their noses at such heresy.

So what is a guy to do….select the simplest recipe to start with and go from there, which is what I did.


One large Russet potato
One cup of flour
One large egg

Olive oil
Fresh basil coarsely chopped

salt and pepper
Fresh lemon juice


Boil the potato for about 45 minutes, cool and peel. Pass through a ricer into large bowl. Add the the flour and egg and begin mixing with fork, then working with hands until a ball of dough is formed. should only take about 4-5 minutes.
Add flour if needed to keep dough from sticking.

Take a piece of the dough about the size of a plum and roll out a rope a little less than an inch thick. Cut off 1 inch sections, then roll them with the tiines to a fork. You may need more flour if things are too sticky. Set the pieces aside on a floured surface until finished.

The “sauce” tonight was warmed olive oil with fresh basil and lemon juice.

Place the gnocchi in boiling water and remove with a slotted spoon as they float to the surface…only about 2-3 minutes…and place in the sauce.


Although my dough was too sticky, making it more difficult to use the fork to create the classic groves of gnocchi, it cooked just fine. I would add more flour next time. Also, I will add salt to the next batch I make.


There is no predicting where we will find ourselves at times. Yesterday, after whining about the absence of the muses, I found myself on an interesting path.

In the '80s and early '90s I visited many towns and cities in the eastern U.S. in search of material for cityscapes and townscapes which I would publish and sell, both retail and wholesale. I worked from photos and slides that I carefully cataloged, filed, and saved. Yesterday, as I began a series of small drawings from these files, it occurred to me that it would be fun to re-visit all of the places (through the photos) and create a new series of drawings documenting those visits.

What makes this of interest to me is that on many of those trips I was accompanied by one of several very dear friends who joined me for the company and/or to help with the driving. There were often times I would be hanging out the car window with my camera trying to catch a scene or building that could only be done from the road.

The more I think about this project the more interesting it becomes. It remains to be seen how it plays out.

The first 2 photos are from Paducah:

The next photo is from my trip to Charleston SC in 1988, accompanied by my daughter Amy.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


I’m referring of course to the muses who have not been seen around here for awhile. For over a month I’ve been wandering aimlessly about the studio…well…sitting quietly with my feet up is probably more accurate…looking for some inspiration and/or direction. I’ve gone through the usual routine, looking through my collection, of reference materials, photos, and slides, with little success. I either need new material or a new way of interpreting or representing the old. Or, I can simply sit back and wait…that also works if I can remain patient.

In the meantime, there is always the small sketch/drawing. Here are a few more from the sketch book:

Some of these may find there way into a new book I'm working on.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


It seems like I'm spending as much time in the kitchen as in the studio lately, which is good for my spirits if not my waistline.

However I'm still working out there, just on a smaller scale. The acrylics have been put away for awhile, replaced by pencils, pens, and ink. My latest project is the creation of an iBook of paintings and drawings of Paducah, combining old work with new drawings. I hope to be able to announce a "publication date" soon.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


My new pasta machine arrived yesterday which means the only decision I have to make regarding tonight’s dinner is…fettuccini or ravioli? At this point (It is only 12:30 PM) I am leaning towards the fettuccini, but that may change at any time.

6:30 PM…I feel redeemed! It was not my dough that was the problem. Making pasta tonight with the new machine (Marcato, made in Italy and purchased from was both easy and fun, with none of the frustrations I experienced with the other machine. I made a small batch of fettucini for Patience and me. In the freezer I found a package of Sunday gravy that I made last month and decided to spare myself the work of making a fresh sauce.

I still have a lot to learn. You may not be able to tell from the photo but some of the pasta is sticking together…probably need more flour dusting before it’s cut.


This was a 2 egg batch of dough, using 2 large eggs for 8oz. all purpose flour. The recommended recipe was 1 egg to 31/2 ounces of flour, but I added the extra flour because of the high humidity.


This is a rich, sausage based sauce that I have described in previous posts. As usual with left over sauce, the sausage is long gone.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Yesterday I took on the zucchini. Today I confront the cucumbers that seem to be propagating themselves in the produce compartment. Taking advantage of the fresh tomatoes lining the counter in our kitchen I’ve decided on a salad combining both of the fruits of summer. (I know…cucumbers are not a fruit, it was merely and expression.)


Tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
Cucumbers, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
Fresh basil and oregano finely chopped
Garlic finely chopped
Olive oil
Red wine vinegar
Black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped.


Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl…adjusting the liquids to create a layer of juice in the bottom of the bowl, cover and set aside to marinate for about an hour.

Drain the pasta and mix well with the salad.


This is a great summer dish…Patience said the only thing missing was some fresh corn on the cobb.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pasta Fagioli with zucchini and fresh tomatoes 8-22

Once again I’m faced with an abundance of zucchini that I can no longer ignore. Looking for a different way to incorporate it into a pasta dish I’ve decided to try a variation of pasta fagioli (pasta and beans).


Zucchini, diced
Cannellini beans (navy, northern or small white beans can be used)
Pancetta, chopped
Olive oil
Garlic, onion
Fresh tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
Fresh basil and oregano
Sweet vermouth or dry red wine


Drop the tomatoes in boiling water for several minutes, remove, cool, peel, and coarsely chop. Save the water for the pasta.

Saute the pancetta in olive oil, add the garlic and onions and cook until soft. Add the zucchini and a splash of wine to deglaze the pan and the herbs plus salt and pepper. cook until the zucchini softens, then add the tomatoes and the beans and simmer covered over low heat.


I think of this as one of the “utilitarian” or peasant dishes from southern Italy…using what is available. BUT…I gotta tell you…it was delicious. I think it was the fresh tomatoes and zucchini that made the difference. Patience worked almost 13 hours today, so she is too brain numbed to comment.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Salmon-asparagus and pasta 8-21

I cannot walk through the produce section without buying asparagus; it calls out to me…”hey Bill…over here. I’m waiting for you to nuke me, drizzle me with olive oil and fresh lemon juice and…well…you know the rest”, and of course I do, a scrumptious lunch with fresh tomato slices, mozzarella cheese, and basil.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because it’s time to think about tonight’s pasta dinner and I have asparagus that must be used. The challenge is avoiding the usual routine…asparagus and salmon in a lemon cream sauce. I plan to borrow shamelessly from our friend Paul who recently served us a pasta dish where a chicken breast with a light sauce was served on the same plate as the pasta, but on the side, not incorporated into it as a sauce. Instead of chicken I’ll use a salmon fillet under a bed of asparagus in a lemon butter sauce. The pasta will be in a simple olive oil and lemon sauce with a bit of garlic and black pepper.


Salmon fillets
Shallots, garlic
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Fresh basil, dill, and parsley
White wine


I got a little stressed out trying to establish the timing on this meal…I tend to do that so I prepared all the ingredients in advance. After placing the pasta in the pasta water I sautéed the garlic and shallots, and quickly added the asparagus, herbs, butter, and a splash of white wine. After 4-5 minutes I added the salmon and lemon juice. When the pasta was cooked (al dente) I placed it in a bowl and added finely chopped garlic, parsley, olive oil, and fresh lemon juice and black pepper.


This was great. Believe it or not, I’ve never prepared the pasta this way…it was basically Aglio Olio with lemon. This opens the door to an entirely new genre of dishes…. Thanks Paul.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Maybe not, but sometimes working small is just plain fun, and that is what I’ve been doing lately. Working from memory, imagination, and photos, I’m creating these small sketches/drawings, reaching deep into my collective experiences for bits and remnants of things past.

Predictably one thing usually leads to another and we end up far from where we started. It will be interesting to see where this takes me.

All drawings done with pencil and markers

Friday, August 19, 2011


With Patience away for the weekend I invited my “cousin from New Jersey” (his wife is also out of town) to join me for dinner.

I refused to cook anything that resembled zucchini or summer squash…and decided on broccoli with a touch of sausage.


Sausage…removed from the casing
Olive Oil


Cook the sausage and remove from pan. Add the olive oil and cook the garlic until soft.. Bring the pasta water to a boil and cook the broccoli for about 4 minutes. Drain the broccoli and add to the pan with the oil and garlic. Return the sausage to the pan and simmer under low heat. Add lemon juice to the pan.

Cook the past in the broccoli water, add to the pan and mix well.


I committed a cardinal sin tonight…forgetting to salt the pasta water. As a result I felt the dish was less than superb and give it a 71/2 or 8.

But, the company more than made up for the culinary shortcoming of the cook.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I’m still working out the kinks in my pasta making. Each batch shows some improvement, but there is still a ways to go before I can feel totally comfortable with the process.

The sauce tonight is pretty basic, fresh tomatoes and herbs. The only twist is the addition of the butter, about 2-3 tablespoons.


3 large fresh tomatoes
Olive oil
Red pepper flakes
Fresh basil, finely chopped
Dry oregano


The pasta…. 7 oz. all purpose flour and 2 large eggs.

The sauce…Peel and coarsely chop the tomatoes. Saute the garlic in olive oiland butter, then add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, basil, and oregano and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Add the pasta to the pan with the sauce, mix well and serve with grated parmesan cheese.

Nuke the bacon until crisp, crumble and spread over the pasta.


Patience says “YUM… OMG, I ate too much’!

The sauce was delicious. The combination of the fresh tomatoes, butter, and bacon was delightful.

With a few minor variations this sauce would make a great tomato soup.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Our grandson William, who will be 11 in a few weeks, was here for a visit last week. Since he likes to draw I thought I thought it would be fun if we worked together on a large drawing. Looking at pics from our trip to Italy a few years ago, we selected as our subject a view from the Ponte Vecchio in Florence.

I started us off with a pencil drawing of the scene, and William divided the composition into the individual buildings. From there we each began working on our side of the drawing, then later switched sides so our individual contributions would be more fully integrated.

From the Bridge...pencil and markers...18x24

Monday, August 15, 2011


I’m raiding the freezer tonight. Patience will be home late and I’m not feeling very creative…or ambitious. A glance in the freezer revealed the answer to my dilemma, a container of tomato sauce I made with crabmeat several weeks ago.
I will use this sauce and add some pre-cooked shrimp and serve it with Angel hair pasta.

I have all sorts of mixed feelings about this dish. On one hand I feel I shouldn't be rewarded with such a great meal because I did so little to prepare it. On the other hand I feel pleased that I could put some leftover gravy from the freezer to such good use.

The bottom line was great.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


The gallery closes at 3 on Sunday and Patience won’t be home from work until near 8 PM leaving me 5 hours with nothing to do except make pasta. The last attempt was pretty pathetic and I have been anxious to redeem myself. So…I set out armed with the knowledge of our mistakes, and with that I was able to create dough of the right consistency and dryness. I used my mom’s chitarra to make a handful of linguine but the dough, which I hand rolled, was not thin enough and I turned to the pasta machine. The result was a delightful batch of tagliatelli.

THE PASTA…I used 3 large eggs to 21/3 cups of all purpose flour.

THE SAUCE…In the pasta serving bowl combine Mascarpone cheese, grated parmesan cheese (aprox. ratio of 2:1), about 1 tbsp of gorgonzola or blue cheese, 2-3 tbsp of butter, and freshly chopped basil and coarsely mix by hand.

Add the cooked pasta to the bowl and mix well…the heat of the pasta will melt the ingredients. Add pasta water if needed to maintain moisture.


Aw man….this was so F-ing good! I have nothing else to say on the matter.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Feeling less than well I find myself facing the dinner hour with less than maximum enthusiasm tonight. This of course translates into something tried and true, and that means salmon, asparagus, lemon, a little white wine and some cream. As a token push of the envelope I’ll add some yellow squash (we have tons of it on hand.).


Asparagus, cut into 1-2” pieces
Salmon, skinless, cut into bite size pieces
Garlic, shallots
Olive oil
Yellow squash, diced
White wine
Parsley, coarsely chopped.
Heavy whipping cream


While waiting for the pasta water to boil sauté the garlic and shallots until soft, add the squash and asparagus plus lemon juice and herbs and cook over low heat until cooked through. Then add the salmon and white wine and cook uncovered. After placing the pasta in the water add the cream and butter and stir frequently. If a thicker sauce is desired add about ¾ tsp of corn starch. Add the pasta to the pan and mix well. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.


After eating this dinner I feel the best that I have felt all day. Of course the wine has had nothing to do with this.

Seriously, as my grandson William says (ad nauseum), this is a great dish. I especially like the texture that the squash added.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Grandson William is here so it was time to make some pasta. We remembered well the fiasco of our first attempt when the eggs broke through the walls of our flour wells, and I am pleased to say we avoided that, only to face another one further along in the process.

Apparently our dough was too sticky (not enough flour) and kept clogging up the pasta machine. We managed a few passes of spaghetti before giving up and resorting to hand rolling the dough, cutting it, and passing it through the cutting rollers. We ended up with a little over a pound of fresh pasta that was not much to look at. however, it cooked up just fine, not into the sticky mess we feared, and with the sausage rich gravy tasted fantastic.

And we were fortunate enough to have our friend Keyth to share the meal with us.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Grandson William, who will be 11 this October, is spending several days with us this week. There are a number of ways he and I can bond: in the studio because he loves to draw, walking dogs, watching Cowboys and Aliens, (which we did last night) and/or making pasta. But I realized that the tightest bonding would be with food when I asked him what he would like for lunch and he replied, bread, olive oil, and salami!

Brie, leftover Braciole, tomatoe, salami, Ciabatta bread, olive oil for dipping.

Tonight we’ll have pasta with a sausage based tomato sauce currently sitting in our freezer from earlier this month.

Monday, August 8, 2011

EGGPLANT & ANCHOVIES 8-8, or, cooking outside the box

I’m feeling a bit adventuresome tonight, a.k.a. I’m trying something new, at least to me. I’ve enjoyed the rather sweet taste…almost cinnamon–like…of the eggplants in recent dishes, and have decided to combine it with something from the other side of the spectrum…Anchovies.

Here’s the plan…anchovy infused olive oil sauce, combined with sautéed diced eggplant and toasted croutons.


Angel Hair pasta
Anchovy fillets, finely chopped
Olive oil
Garlic, 1 clove passed through a garlic press
Ciabatta bread
Flat leaf parsley
Sweet vermouth
White wine
Lemon juice


Peel the eggplant and slice crosswise. Salt both sides and place in colander, cover with paper towels and allow liquid to drain. This can be enhanced by placing bowl on top to exert pressure. After 30 minutes remove and dice the eggplant.

Meanwhile, cut the bread in small pieces, coat with olive oil and toast in oven.

Mix the anchovies and garlic in a teaspoon of sweet vermouth and sauté in olive oil until the anchovy breaks down. Add the eggplant and cook over medium high heat, adding the parsley while it’s cooking. On an impulse I added lemon juice and a splash of white wine.

A few grape tomatoes were added for color.

Add the pasta to the pan along with the croutons and a few drizzles of olive oil. Serve with Parmesan cheese.


Patience’s response was “Bravissimo!”

Don’t be turned off by the anchovies…it works to create a fusion of delight.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Of the many gravy meats my mom prepared, “Bra-zhoul” was my favorite, a thin piece of beef rolled up with garlic, parsley, and cheese inside. This was first browned in a skillet and later allowed to finish cooking in the gravy, giving it a rich, deep flavor. It was years later that I learned this was actually Braciola, and last year in Italy discovered it is also known as Involtino in some regions of the country. The things they don’t teach you in an Italian-American household.

So, I woke up with Braciola (or more accurately…Bra zchoul) on my mind this morning and remembered I had a flat Iron steak in the freezer. I thought, “why not”?


Flat iron steak, sliced and pounded into thin pieces
Fresh parsley, basil, and oregano
Parmesan cheese
Lemon juice
Garlic, onion
Whole peeled tomatoes, 28oz can
Crushed tomatoes, 14oz can
Olive oil


Mix together minced garlic, herbs, and cheese with enough olive oil to make a thin paste. Season both side of the meet, and then spread the paste on one side, followed by fresh lemon juice. Roll the meat up tightly and fasten in closed with toothpicks or string.

Heat some olive oil in a deep pot and brown the meat on all sides and remove. Deglaze the pan with red wine, scraping the debris and remaining wine into the plate that is holding the meat.

Add more olive oil and cook the garlic and onion until soft, then add the tomatoes. Simmer for several minutes then return the meat to the pot along with the debris and several leaves of fresh basil. Cover and simmer over low heat for at least one hour.


My concerns were unfounded. The Braciole was delicious…tender and tasty…and capable of triggering memories of meals in our kitchen on the farm oh so many years ago. Of course not as good as my mom’s.

Our dear friends Lee and Dee joined us for dinner so we were able to avoid the problem of leftovers by sending them to 6th street.