Happy International Women's Day! Let's celebrate with a sip of soup. #BeBoldForChange

This is a great soup to serve as the season transitions from winter to spring. It's satisfying yet not overly heavy, with a lushness created by pureeing the beans. No heavy cream required. For a vegetarian version, delete the pancetta, and substitute vegetable broth for the chicken stock.

Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 ounces chopped pancetta or bacon (about ¼ cup)
½ medium onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cans (each 15 oz.) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
5 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 generous handfuls fresh spinach leaves
½ cup grated Parmesan
Finely chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

In a 3 1/2-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat renders and the pancetta is just crispy, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, carrot, celery and sage, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the cannellini beans, broth, and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook 10 minutes more.

Remove the pan from the heat. Discard the bay leaf. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Alternatively, puree the soup in batches in a blender. Return the pan to the heat and stir in the spinach. Cook until the spinach leaves wilt, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and black pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with the parsley. Serve at once.


Ciao'd while trying not to eat my son's Valentine's Day chocolate.



I like to serve this sprightly pasta dish with its bright, sunny flavor when the day is rainy or snowy or grey. It’s a pick-me-up in the most delicious way. Tortellini can be had in many flavors. Choose your favorite.

Serves 4

1 pound (16 ounces) fresh or frozen tortellini
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
¼ cup minced fresh basil
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for passing at the table

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the tortellini according to package directions.

As the tortellini cooks, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the lemon zest and basil and stir to mix. Drain the tortellini and add to the butter mixture along with the lemon juice. Toss to coat.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with the Parmesan.


Ciao'd while toasting the return of football season. Go Giants. And Broncos. 



I cannot take credit for this recipe in its entirety. My friends at offer a recipe for Truffled Tallegio and Mushroom Pizza on their site. It was created by Paul Grimes for Gourmet magazine (RIP. Sad face) in 2008. I have adapted the recipe a bit but not enough to take credit for as my own. Here are the few changes I made simply based on my preference:

Instead of 3/4 pound of the one cheese (Tallegio or Fontina) in Gourmet's recipe, I call for 1/4 pound of each of three cheeses: Tallegio, Fontina, and fresh Mozzarella. Gourmet's recipe calls for "sliced mushrooms" without indicating variety. The the mushrooms Gourmet photo look to me like the common variety rather than an assortment that includes wild mushrooms. I used a combination of wild mushrooms and cremini mushrooms on my pizza. Finally, Gourmet offers the option of drizzling the finished pizza with truffle oil. While this is a beyond delish finish, I suggested fresh thyme which is more in line with the 4 PM Fix concept of using pantry ingredients. 

Regardless of the pizza you choose to prepare, you can be assured that the recipes are super simple, quick, and #dolcevitadelish. Plus, pizza is always a good vehicle for promoting family time. My 17-year-old son helped me prepare mine. Go figure. 

Epicurious, Gourmet and Paul Grimes get first billing. Here's the link again to the original recipe.

And here's mine (it's in the photo above):

Serves 4

1 pound pizza dough
Olive oil, for brushing dough
½ pound sliced mushrooms, assorted varieties
¼ pound chilled Taleggio cheese, rind discarded and cheese sliced
¼ pound chilled Fontina cheese, rind discarded and cheese sliced
¼ pound fresh mozzarella, sliced and each piece patted dry
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Put a large heavy baking sheet on the lower rack of the oven, and then preheat it to 500ºF.

Stretch out the dough on a lightly floured surface (do not roll it) into a shape (rectangle or oval or completely organic) approximately 16 by 13 inches. Don’t stress it. Transfer to a parchment-lined tray or baking sheet. Poke the dough all over with a fork. Brush with a bit of olive oil.

Slide the dough along with the parchment onto the hot baking sheet. Bake until the top is puffed and both the top and bottom of the pizza is beginning to turn golden, about 10 minutes.

Remove the pizza from the oven and prick any large bubbles. Top the crust with the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the cheese on top.

Bake the pizza until the edge of the cheese has browned and the cheese is bubbling, 8 to 10 minutes.  Scatter the thyme on the pizza. Serve immediately.  Recipe adapted from Gourmet|epicurious. 


An authentic Florentine T-bone steak is cut from a Chianina cow and aged for about a week. Though Chianina beef is lean, it's prized for its rich flavor and balanced texture (perhaps due to the Chianina's grazing locale in Siena, Arezzo and environs). Since we do not breed pure Chianina cattle in the United States, purchase the best steak you can find. The meat should be 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick and weigh 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 pounds. Ask for a porterhouse steak as this is the larger of the T-bone steaks. It's essential that the steak is grilled over very high heat (charcoal is best) but a cast-iron grill pan works, too...

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