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 sipping limoncello made by my British friend (British!), Susan. 

This frittata, bursting with spring flavors, is a super easy solution for brunch, lunch, or dinner. Add a green salad and crusty bread and the meal is complete. Omit the ham for a vegetarian version.

Serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces fresh mushrooms (any variety you like), thinly sliced
10 asparagus spears, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup diced ham
8 large eggs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat the broiler. In a 12-inch ovenproof or cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Toss in the asparagus and ham and cook until the asparagus is bright green and barely tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 

While the vegetables are cooking, in a medium bowl whisk the eggs and thyme. Stir in the goat cheese and salt and pepper, to taste. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet; do not stir. Cook, undisturbed, until the eggs have set and thickened and only the surface is runny,  about 5 minutes.

Put the skillet under the broiler (about 4 inches from the heat) and cook until the center is set and the top is golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the frittata from the oven and let it rest 5 minutes before serving. Loosen the frittata with a spatula and slide onto a plate. Cut in into wedges. Serve the frittata hot or at room temperature. 


Ciao'd while watching Love Actually. I feel it in my toes.

When beef tenderloin took the place of ground beef in my mother’s stroganoff, it became company food. I think “company” works perfectly well for “family,” too. In this rendition, I use chanterelle mushrooms. They imbue the stroganoff with a sweet richness that plays off the tart sour cream. Spoiler alert: wild mushrooms can be pricey. Feel free to use cremini mushrooms instead. The flavor will not suffer. Beef Stroganoff with Chanterelle Mushrooms is comfort food with an adult attitude. That said, button mushrooms are a worthy substitute for the chanterelles.

Serves 6

2 pounds beef tenderloin, cut into 2-inch strips
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
¾ pound fresh chanterelle mushrooms (thickly slice larger mushrooms) 
¼ cup dry red wine
1 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water
¾ cup sour cream (don’t use low-fat), at room temperature
¾ pound (12 ounces) egg noodle
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Pat the meat dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a large heavy skillet over high heat, heat the oil until very hot (the oil will shimmer). Add the beef strips in a single layer, and sear, turning once, until brown, about 1 minute per side. Do not crowd the beef; you may have to cook it in batches. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

Reduce the heat to medium-high and melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in the skillet. Add the shallot and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté until the liquid evaporates, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the wine and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan to release the meat and mushroom bits, until the wine reduces by half, a minute or so. Add the beef broth and simmer until the liquid begins to thicken, about 10 to 12 minutes. Combine the cornstarch and water and stir into the mixture; cook until the sauce thickens further, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the sour cream and heat through but do not allow it to boil. Return the beef to the pan and simmer over medium-low heat until the meat is heated through, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Toss the cooked and drained egg noodles in the remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Serve the beef and sauce over the egg noodles, sprinkled with parsley.  


Ciao'd as my husband makes dinner. Angel. 



There is nothing like a compound butter to elevate the ordinary to the extraordinary. The mixture of butter and other ingredients melts into an instant sauce when placed on cooked beef, fish or vegetables. It truly is the secret sauce.  This butter is particularly well suited to steak. Choose your cut and welcome the kudos whether it’s a weeknight family dinner or a Saturday supper with friends. 

Makes 1/2 cup

2 tablespoons finely chopped dried porcini mushrooms
1 tablespoon Marsala wine
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the mushrooms and Marsala in a ramekin or small bowl. Microwave on high for 10 seconds; let cool.

Put the butter in a sall bowl, add the mushroom mixture and using a fork, mash together until well combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, parchment paper or wax paper, with the edge closest to you forming  2-inch or so border. Fold the wrap over the butter and roll into a cylinder about 1 1/4-inches in diameter. Twist the ends of the paper to seal and wrap well in aluminum foil. Chill until solid. The butter will keep up to 2 weeks refrigerated or up to 3 months frozen.

The Steak

There are as many methods for cooking a steak as there are chefs and cookbook authors. My favorite recipe comes courtesy of The New York Times and the deliciously pragmatic Julia Moskin. I only take issue with the recipe calling for boneless meat as I am a believer that the bone lends flavor. You make your decision but for those who opt for bone-in steak, calculate more time for cooking it. Here you go: Cast-Iron Steak.  Enjoy!


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.