Monday, October 31, 2011


I began this pasta marathon six months ago. One hundred and twenty pasta meals and 5 pounds later, it is time to stop and take stock of what we’ve done.

My goals were: 1. To show how delicious pasta dishes could be prepared with simple local fresh, and supermarket ingredients, and 2. To demonstrate the infinite ways pasta can be prepared. I think I’ve done a pretty good job in meeting both goals. But if I am to continue this for the full year as planned I will have to make some concessions. It is becoming increasingly difficult to prepare a different dish each night I cook without a great deal of planning and preparation requiring more and more of my time. Since I have every intention of continuing this for the next six months, and since it is supposed to be fun, and not something to stress over, I’ve decided on the following:

I will continue to cook pasta every night we eat at home, and endeavor to present 2-3 new dishes every week, and to the extent possible, I’ll introduce a few variations in the repeat dishes.

Now to the good part…



Olive oil
Garlic, chopped or finely sliced
Red pepper flakes
Lemon juice and/or zest
Fresh oregano chopped
Bacon, chopped


Cook the bacon and remove from pan and discard the fat. Or, cook the bacon in the microwave and set aside.

Place the pasta in the boiling pasta water. About 5-6 minutes before you expect the pasta to be ready…al dente…don’t over cook…sauté the garlic and broccoli in the olive oil with the Oregano and red pepper flakes. When the pasta is done add it to the pan, along with some of the pasta water, and mix well. Add the lemon juice or zest and mix. Sprinkle with bacon and Parmigiano Reggiano and serve.


Very good! I finally managed not to overcook the broccoli, and by not adding the lemon until the end the broccoli remained nice an green.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Oak Park Illinois

Today is my last day in Oak Park. I will leave O'hare at 10 PM and get to put my arms around my wife one hour later. It has been a great visit, but I'll be glad to be back in my studio and kitchen. Amy and I collaborated on some great meals... Crab cakes and Capellini one night and Linguine Alio Olio crudo with assorted toppings last night.

Oak Park is a wonderful community, especially if you like arts and crafts style architecture (Frank Loyd Wright's first home and studio are here). The neighborhoods are a mixture of prairie style and Victorian architecture as you can see from these iPhone photos taken on my walks.

Amy and Bob's house

And of course there were the grandkids...

William the artist/writer with his journal

Abigail the rocker with her base guitar

And Abigail the hockey player...I'll will get to see her play later today!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

10-26…Pasta with Abigail and William

This post is coming from Oak Park IL where I am sitting in for parents away on a business trip…the pleasure is all mine.

Italian sausage in a quick tomato sauce.


Italian sausage cut into 1” pieces
San Marzano tomatoes
Garlic and onion
Olive oil


Brown the sausage, remove, and deglaze the pan with wine, saving the remnents with the sausage.

Add olive oil and sauté the garlic and onions. Add the tomatoes and sausage and simmer covered for about 30 minutes, adding the basil in about 10-15 minutes.


I was in such a hurry to start eating that I forgot to take a photo of the finished dish….

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

10-25…Crab cakes and Capellini alla Renzulli

OK…now this is a new experience for me. For my last meal at home for 5 days I’ve decided to make crab cakes and serve them with a light cream sauce on a bed of Angel hair pasta. My original plan was to use dill and lemon in the cakes, but Patience said she was in the mood for Cilantra so there has been a little change of plans.


8 oz. backfin crab meat
Cucumber diced into ¼” cubes
Juice from one lime
Cracker crumbs


Mix all ingredients well and form into cakes and place in refrigerator for about one hour. Dust lightly with flour before cooking in olive oil until golden brown on both sides. Remove and keep warm.


Olive oil
Garlic, pressed
Fresh dill coarsely chopped
Heavy whipping cream
Lemon zest
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


In the same pan used to cook the crab cakes add more olive oil if needed, then proceed to cook the butter with the dill, lemon zest, and cream, adding the cheese after 4-5 minutes.

When the pasta is finished place a nest of pasta along side a crab cake and add the sauce over both.


This was fantastic! I have nothing else to say.

Monday, October 24, 2011

10-24…Welcome home Patience pasta

I wanted something different, some subtle Italian aphrodisiac. (I won’t know until later if I’ve been successful.) I checked the fridge and came up with this mish mash of ingredients; if it works I’ll be able to retire completely.


Farfalle pasta
Chicken breast, filleted
Garlic, onion
Olive oil
Sun dried tomatoes in oil
Fresh parsley, basil, and oregano
White wine


Coarsely chop the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove, drain, and set aside.

Cook the garlic and onions in olive oil and add the chicken breasts to brown. Remove the chicken and cut it into small pieces. Return the chicken to the pan along with the chopped sun dried tomatoes and herbs. When the pasta is added to the water add the arugula to the pan, cover, and simmer over low heat while the past cooks. Add a splash of wine before the pasta is done.

Add the pasta to the pan, mix well and add parmesan cheese over the top before serving.


Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 23, 2011


With Patience out of town, and a dinner invitation last night I've not been cooking any pasta. I thought I might do so tonight until I watched Eat Street on tv and decided the pasta could wait one more day.

Chicken Caprese

This is a piece of toasted multigrain bread with mayo, chicken, tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil pesto, inspired by the amazing food I saw on tv. It was delicious!

THE QUICK & NOT SO QUICK and a note about barns

The not so quick...another barn, this one rendered with pen, ink, markers, pastel, and watercolor pencils.

The quick...a small marker sketch of Bee Bee's, a fantastic gift shop in downtown Paducah.

Why all the barns?

Barns evoke a number of feelings in me, some very personal. I am reminded of the cold winter days milking our family cow in our barn, leaning my head into the cow's flank to absorb her heat, while cats and kittens milled around the pail waiting for a squirt of milk. And there are the not so long ago memories of our barn on the Maryland farm...escaping the cold winter wind and relishing the warmth and the smells of the horses in freshly cleaned stalls. (note the that I'm focusing on the winter days and not the hot, sticky days of summer, getting slapped in the face by the cows tail as she shoos away the flies. I should also mention here that in Maryland Patience did ALL of the mucking...her choice. I got to enjoy the fruits of her labor.)

I am especially fond of the rambling dairy barns, where one or more additions have been tacked on to the main structure, often with only function in mind, resulting in a mish mash of architecture and texture...much to my great delight. Looking at these rural icons, many of them now abandoned or a little more than storage facilites, I wonder about their stories, and the hopes and aspirations of the farm families when the barns were new and ready to serve.

I am saddened to see so many of these wonderful structures, from the simplest to the most elegant, fall into disrepair and treated with such little respect and appreciation for all that they have provided.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

10-22…The Perils of Pasta

I have some decisions to make. Since starting this almost daily pasta I have gained 5 pounds. That doesn’t sound like much, but it must be a critical 5 pounds, because suddenly I have very few cloths that I can comfortably wear (comfortably is the key word here.). I want to shed these 5 pounds, and more if possible, and the question is…can I do it without giving up my goal of cooking pasta every night we eat at home for one year?

I think it can be done if I can find the discipline to change some long standing eating habit s of mine. This means lighter breakfasts and lunches, less in between meals snacking, and less wine…or a little less wine. And most importantly, limiting myself to one serving of the pasta at dinner and the resumption of my daily walks.

I will give it a try and report back in 4 weeks with the results.

On more pleasant note...or...on a lighter note, here is the latest shipment of San Marzano tomatoes to arrive at la casa Renzulli. I buy them from Ditalia, and online dealer that provides great service.

Friday, October 21, 2011


while I try to find my way in this maze called a studio...I work away at my drawing table/station, hoping the muses will come and lead me into the chosen direction. In other words, what the hell should I be doing? I'm not complaining, because I really enjoy doing these mini paintings and drawings.

Yesterday several clay mono types that had been out on loan were returned to the gallery...this in one of my favorites and measures approximately 14x7".

And completing this post is a view of my "drawing station" taken with my iPhone. Everything I need is within arms reach.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

10-20…Spinach fettuccine with arugula-mushroom-tomato sauce

This was a night to use what I could from the fridge. Patience will be out of town for the next 4 nights and I may not be doing much cooking.


Spinach fettuccine made with Jerusalem artichoke flour, from Krogers
San Marzano tomatoes
Olive oil
White mushrooms
Fresh dill and basil
Red pepper flakes
Red wine


Cook the garlic and mushrooms in the olive oil with fresh dill. Then add the tomatoes and basil and simmer covered for about 30-45 minutes. While the pasta is cooking add the arugula and a splash of red wine to the sauce.


I liked the texture of this pasta, and the addition of the arugula to the tomato sauce created a delightful combination of texture and flavor.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

10-18 Salmon ravioli in creamy lemon asparagus sauce

Our friend Crystal from northern Illinois will be our guest tonight. So, for the sake of our guest, my wife, and myself, I’m making Salmon filled ravioli to be served in cream-asparagus-lemon-butter sauce.


Salmon fillet, coarsely chopped
Ricotta cheese
Mascarpone cheese
Fresh dill
Lemon zest

Mix all ingredients loosely in a bowl, then transfer to food processor and pulse to an almost creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Olive oil
Fresh dill
Fresh lemon juice

Cut the asparagus into 1-1 ½ pieces and cook in olive oil w garlic and butter. Add lemon juice, fresh dill, and continue cooking for about 5 minutes. Add cream and butter and stir until slightly thickened. I needed to add a bit of roux to get the thickness I wanted. I also added a bit of mascarpone cheese.


Oh my….this was so good. You cannot go wrong with dill and lemon plus butter.


I'm not making any promises, but this could be the last of the Red Barn series. If I can keep myself from thinking about it and move on to something else there won't be anymore Red Barns. How hard can it be to do that?

Monday, October 17, 2011

10-17…chicken noodle soup

About a quarter pound of pasta was left uncooked from yesterdays enterprise, and when I tried removing it from the racks it began to break apart. Accepting the inevitable I broke all of into short noodles and tonight will try my hand at creating a “noodle soup”. My first thought was a simple broth with celery, parsley, and noodles, and maybe white beans. Then I remembered the boneless chicken breasts in the freezer, and suddenly tonight’s dinner is taking shape.


Day old homemade pasta
Olive oil
Garlic and onion
Celery stalk with fronds….chopped
Boneless chicken breast
White beans (navy, northern, or Cannellini)
Fresh basil, parsley, and thyme
Bay leaves
Fresh lemon juice
Chicken broth
White wine


In a large sauce pan sauté the garlic, onion, and celery in olive oil and butter. Then add the beans and simmer. In the meanwhile brown the chicken in a skillet with olive oil, seasoning of your choice, and some lemon juice. When finished, remove from pan and cut into small pieces. De-glaze the pan with wine and add results to the soup pot. Add the chicken broth, the chicken, and bay leaves and simmer covered for 30-45 minutes. Add the pasta and cook for about 5 minutes before serving.


It took all the will power I could muster not to have a third bowl of this soup!



I thought I was done with this barn...but apparently not. Before I knew it was happening I found myself working on still one more version of the structure. If that is not scary enough, another image is already forming in my mind.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

10-16…Sunday homemade pasta

The house has been wonderfully quiet and still this morning. P is working, the dogs resting or lounging about the house and yard, no radio or iPad playing, and not street noise. I will open the gallery later, but until then I’ve enjoyed the solitude, thinking about any number of things, including today’s pasta.

Since it’s Sunday the choice is simple; I’ll go with the Italian-American classic…pasta with a rich, meat based gravy, of which there are countless variations. To make it special, I’ll make my own pasta today using my mother’s old chitarra.

For the dough I used a recipe I haven’t used before…1 cup of all-purpose flour and 1 cup of Semolina flour, plus 2 large eggs and 1 yolk. The addition of the semolina flour produces a sturdy dough that is good for long pastas. I used the machine to roll the dough into two thicknesses, #4 and #5 and found that the thicker dough was easier to work on the chitarra. Of course I could have avoided some of the frustrations by using the machine to cut the pasta…but it had to be the chitarra!

The chitarra is a two sided instrument with a center panel that slides out to remove the pasta.
On one side the wires are separated by linquine thickness, and on the other side, spaghetti thickness. Tonite I wanted to make spaghetti, although with the chitarra they are square and not round.

The sheet of dough is placed on the strings and pressed down with a rolling pin, falling onto the removable panel where they are recovered and hung out to dry.

The sauce is sausage based and uses imported San Marzano peeled, whole tomatoes. For the recipe see my post on May 8th and simply substitute sausage for the chicken.


The addition of the semolina flour was very evident after the first bite. P thought it was a bit too heavy, but I enjoyed the nuttier texture. Of course with this gravy I would probably enjoy cardboard. There is another option…simply use less semolina. Something for another dinner.

Was it worth all the effort? Absolutely!!


How many ways can I render the same red barn? I thought it would be fun to find out, and this resulted in the following 4 paintings...all about 8x10". Of course, like cooking pasta, there are infinite possibilities, and these paintings barely scratch the surface. I'm not sure how many more...if any...I will do, but be assured that if I do they will be posted.

Red Barn #1

Red Barn #2

Red Barn #3

Red Barn #4

Saturday, October 15, 2011

10-15… CLAMS W FRESH TOMATOES & Angel hair pasta

For tonight’s dinner I’ve gone back to July, 2004 for a dish I served to Patience, Terrie, and myself. As soon as I saw the wonderful grape tomatoes and the farmer’s market this morning I knew what I wanted to do. With a few minor changes, this is the same dish that it was over 7 years ago. (now that is a frightening observation…the time, not the recipe.)


Cherry tomatoes cut in half
Whole baby clams with juice partially drained
Fresh parsley and oregano
Anchovy fillets finely chopped
Olive oil
Sweet vermouth
Red pepper flakes


Sauté garlic, red pepper flakes, finely chopped anchovies, celery, and parsley in olive oil, then add clams, fresh oregano, and the tomatoes. Cook for several minutes then add red wine. Serve over the pasta, garnished w fresh parsley.


I could have easily eaten a pound of this pasta was sooooo good. One of the changes I made was to substitute Sweet Vermouth for the red wine, which gave it a smooth, sweet taste that I found difficult to resist.


Sixteen years after his death, I can easily access a number of mental images of my father, but there is one that stands out above all the others. In my favorite memory of the man he is sitting with his elbows on the kitchen table and one hand folded into the other, and as the dish of pasta is set before him his face is transformed into one of absolute delight and an audible “ahhhhhhhh” escapes from somewhere within. My father loved pasta and never failed to express his appreciation for every opportunity to indulge his love. Even after he lost most of his speech and some motor functions to a stroke (which he survived for about a year) this simple display of joy at the dinner table never faltered, and in fact may have even become a bit more pronounced. I do not doubt that in some way this whole pasta affair is my attempt at emulating my father. Did I mention that he also loved wine?

He would be 98 years old this month.

Friday, October 14, 2011

10-14…Seafood medley with linguine

It’s 3:30 and time to begin thinking about dinner. Actually I begin thinking about dinner as soon as I wake up in the morning…not so much about wanting to eat as about deciding what to cook. They’re not the same. Even though we had the tuna two nights ago I still have seafood on my mind, and I know that in the freezer I will find bay scallops, shrimp, orange roughy fillets, and salmon. Here’s the plan…


Orange roughy cut into bite size pieces
Bay scallops
Anchovy paste
Bay seasoning
Garlic and onion
Fresh basil
San Marzano tomatoes
Red wine
Red Pepper flakes


Cook the garlic, onions, and anchovy paste in olive oil along with the red pepper. Then add the tomatoes and basil and cook for about 10 minutes before adding the Orange roughy. Continue to simmer over low heat while waiting for the pasta water to boil. Add the scallops, and Bay seasoning to the sauce when the pasta goes into the water. About 5 minutes later add the shrimp and a couple of splashes of red wine.


This dish is like an old friend; I've been making it for years and it never fails to satisfy me.


After completing two more small drawings I decided it was time to punch things up a bit, moving to a larger size with a bit more deliberation in the process, hopefully maintaining some, if not all, of the looseness of the smaller pieces. I'm not talking real large, but 9x12 as opposed to 4x6 and 5x7.

Here are the last two drawings...each about 4x6

And here is the larger piece...9x12

I started out with watercolor, added a few lines with the pen, and ended with pastel pencils for highlights and some detail (not sure they can be discerned.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

10-13…Fettuccine with green beans, sun dried tomatoes and lemon

I opened the box of CSA veggies 2 days ago to find, among other goodies, a bag of green beans (almost as bad as Okra), and thus the challenge was laid down before me…green beans and what? Green beans and pasta has never been one of my favorites, so tonight I looked for something different. This is the result of that search.


Sun dried tomato fettuccini (found at Tuesday morning of all places)
Fresh green beans
Olive oil
Garlic and shallots
Red pepper flakes
Ground black pepper
Lemon juice
Bacon, coarsely chopped
Sun dried tomatoes in oil


Cook the bacon, set aside, and remove the fat.

Cut or break the beans into 1-2 inch pieces and cook for 3-4 minutes in boiling water. Remove the beans and set aside. In the meantime cook the garlic and shallots with red pepper flakes and then add the beans to the pan along with fresh lemon juice and coarsely ground black pepper and cook.

When the past is almost done remove and add to the pan with the beans. Mix well, adding the bacon and more lemon juice and pasta water as needed.


I went a little heavy on the pepper so this dish had a real bite to it. This resulted in an absolute need for Ice cream immediately after finishing the pasta.

I am pleased to say that of all the ways I’ve served green beans with pasta this was the very best. It was so good that there is only a small bit left for me to give to Keyth, and I know he will enjoy it because of the heat.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I have abandoned all my restraint and given in to my addiction...BARNS -BARNS-BARNS. After years of struggling to avoid being known as the guy who paints barns, I know longer give damn. I like barns, I like the their practical architecture with the occasional flair, I like the way they serve the needs of the farmers and the livestock, and I like the way they survive abandonment with dignity, but most of all I like the stories they trigger in my imagination of the hopes and aspirations of their owners. So, in keeping with this new state of mind, here are the latest in my series of mini-drawings...all barns:

Monday, October 10, 2011

10-10…Tuna with tomatoes, arugula and lemon

Tuna canned in oil is a common staple in many Italian kitchens, and I find that recipes for canned tuna far outnumber those for fresh tuna in the more than a dozen Italian cookbooks I’ve reviewed.

I’ve previously posted 2 variations of pasta with canned tuna (5/30 and 7/24) and tonight I’ll add one more.


Tuna in oil
Olive oil
Garlic and onion
Lemon juice
Arugula, chopped
Two ripe, medium (or one larger one) tomatoes peeled and coarsely chopped
Anchovy paste


Run the garlic through a garlic press and cook in olive oil along with the onion and anchovy paste. After several minutes add the tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the cooked al dente pasta to the pan and mix in the tuna and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the dill, arugula, and lemon juice, mix well, and serve.