Ciao'd with a robust glass of red.

I don't know who took this photo. Please let me know if you know. Brilliant.   

I don't know who took this photo. Please let me know if you know. Brilliant.


I was at once enamored and scared of him. Completely transfixed. He was like the guy I met in a college bar who I knew my parents would never approve of. Because! Because Anthony Bourdain was a firebrand. He was the kind of guy who touched my soul in places that enlivened me, excited me, and made me feel like I could stretch beyond my expected norms. His weathered exterior masked his kind, sensitive heart.

It wasn't just about Anthony's food knowledge. He was not a cooking channel talking head. Not by a long shot. Anthony gave a master class in storytelling. His global curiosity was unmatched.  And perhaps most moving, his authentic and soulful love for real people around the world torpedoed through the television screen and into our hearts and minds. With food as his lovely, melodic instrument, Anthony united us with people in other (and sometimes strange) cultures. From Seoul to Tokyo, Hanoi to Hawaii, and so many points in between, Anthony Bourdain was #badass. 

"Food is everything we are. It’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It’s inseparable from those from the get-go.”  Roger that, Anthony.

This recipe is great, but if you choose not to make it, please read the recipe. His voice, true and exciting,  resonates. God, we need more people like this. Rest in peace, Anthony Bourdain. You were a force. 

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6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3/4 lb (12 ounces) button mushrooms
4 cups chicken stock
1 sprig Italian parsley
Salt and pepper
2 ounces dry sherry

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the mushrooms and the remaining butter. Let the mushrooms sweat for about 8 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock and the parsley and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour. Remove the parsley and discard. Let the soup cool for a few minutes. Transfer to the blender and blend at high speed until smooth. Do I have to remind you to do this in stages, with the blender's lid firmly held down, and with the weight of your body keeping that thing from flying off and allowing boiling hot mushroom puree to erupt all over your ktichen?

To astound your guests with a Wild Mushroom Soup, simply replace some of those button mushrooms with a few dried cèpes or morels, which have been soaked until soft, drained, and squeezed. Not too many; the dried mushrooms will have a much stronger taste, and you don't want to overwhelm the soup. Pan sear, on high heat, a single small, pretty, fresh chanterelle or morel for each portion, and then slice into a cute fan and float on top in each bowl.

And if you really want to ratchet your soup into pretentious (but delicious), drizzle a few tiny drops of truffle oil over the surface just before serving. Why the hell not? Everybody else is doing it.

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Ciao'd while watching my version of March Madness: Tennis at Indian Wells. 



The sweetness of the shrimp marries deliciously with the herbal pesto and zucchini in this freshly flavored dish. It’s pretty, too! Traditionally, Parmesan cheese does not gild seafood dishes but, what the heck, I like it. 

Serves 4

1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
12 oz. bucatini or linguine pasta
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/3 cup prepared pesto (or more to taste)
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, chives, and shrimp; set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Generously salt the boiling water and add the pasta. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just al dente (tender but firm to the bite), according to package directions. Drain, but don’t rinse, reserving about ½ cup of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is almost crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add the shrimp, red pepper, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp turn pink, about 3 to 4 minutes more. Remove from the heat and stir in the pesto. 

Add the pasta to the pesto mixture and toss to combine. Use the reserved water to loosen the sauce, if needed. Serve immediately, passing the Parmesan cheese at the table.


This is a take on the classic Portuguese dish, Alentejana, a brilliant combination of pork and clams. It's a classic example of how simple, rustic ingredients can orchestrate perfection. Linguica is a Portuguese smoked, cured sausage flavored with paprika and garlic, If you can't find it, substitute chorizo. Serve the clams with crusty bread for mopping up the broth. Just, yum. 

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While I can eat this dish on its own - milk softens the polenta, Parmesan cheese enriches it, and black pepper spikes it - it is also a lovely complement to a host of flavors. Serve it alongside stews, roast chicken, or sausage. For a vegetarian option,  pair the polenta with braised greens, sauteed mushrooms, or tomato sauce. In the spirit of saving time, I opted for quick-cooking polenta. Recipe here...

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Ciao'd while watching a dozen robins on the lawn. 

Garlicky Shrimp with White Beans and Sausage was one of the first recipes I posted when I started my blog six months ago. It remains one of the most popular and most requested recipes to date. Redolent with a riot of complementary flavors - garlic, smoked paprika, and tomatoes to name a few - the stew is a family and friend favorite no matter what time of year you serve it.

So why not a throwback to this comforting dish during the cold winter season? Those of you who just joined the Ciao Donata party may have missed the recipe, so it's new for you. I think you'll like it. And did I mention, it's SUPER easy and quick to prepare? Indulge here.