Brussel Sprouts with Roasted Garlic & Pancetta

20 brussel sprouts
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced pancetta
3 cloves roasted garlic, coarsely chopped*
Freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste

Prepare a pot of boiling salted water and a bowl of ice water. Rinse the brussel sprouts, remove any yellow outer leaves, and trim stem. Place brussel sprouts in boiling water and cook for 3 minutes (or 4 minutes for large brussel sprouts). Remove, drain, and set in ice water: once cool, drain again.

Slice brussel sprouts in half and place on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and then add the pancetta and garlic; toss well to coat. Set in the wood-burning oven and roast for about 10 minutes, or until tender and lightly browned. Remove; add salt and pepper to taste.

*To roast the garlic, cut the top from a whole head of garlic (or more if you wish)/ Set in a small terra-cotta dish, drizzle with olive oil, add 1 tablespoon water and cover. Set in the oven and roast for about 20 minutes, or until light caramel in color and soft (or, alternately, do the same with foil instead of a dish).

Roasted Potatoes with Smoked Salmon    

1 pound small red potatoes, about 20 to 25
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped chives
2-3 ounces smoked salmon cut into 1/4 x 2 inch strips

Place the potatoes onto the 1/4 sheet pan. Toss with the olive oil and salt. Put into oven and roast until tender when pierced with a knife. About 13 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Combine the sour cream and chives together, set aside.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle cut each potato in half (around the equator). Using a small spoon, scoop out a little of the potato to make room for the sour cream. Set cut side up on a serving platter. Trim a little off the bottom of the potato so it doesn’t roll. Fill each potato with a little of the sour cream chive mixture and drape a piece of smoked salmon over the top.

Baked Apples with Caramel Sauce

DSC_00274 large baking apples (Granny Smith, Gala, Rome, or Jonagold)
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar Light or Dark
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
¼ cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon unsalted butter divided into fourths
1 cup of apple juice

To Prepare:
With a paring knife remove stems and core the apples to ½ inch of the bottom of the apples. Make the holes about 1 inch wide.Combine the sugar, cinnamon, nuts in a small bowl. Place the apples in a Lodge cast iron Dutch oven with lid and fill with sugar mixture. Top with butter and add apple juice to the bottom of the Dutch oven. Bake COVERED for 25 to 30 minutes when the temperature of your wood fired oven is between 400-450 Degrees. Test the apples with the tip of a paring knife AVOID over cooking them they will become mushy if overcooked. Serve with a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream or custard.

Baked Ziti

1lb pound ziti pasta

2 cups basic tomato sauce

2 cups Béchamel sauce (see below)

1 pound fresh buffalo or fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs


1. Bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil and add 2 tablespoons salt.

Cook the ziti 2 minutes short of the package instructions. They should be too “al dente” to enjoy. Remove, drain and refresh in cold water.

Drain the pasta a second time and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the tomato sauce, Bechamel, mozzarella and grated cheese and stir to mix well.

2. Divide the pasta and sauce mixture equally among 4 gratin dishes or one large terra cotta dish. Sprinkle the ziti with bread crumbs and bake in the oven until bubbling and crusty on top, about 12-15 minutes cooking covered for first 10 -12 minutes with aluminum foil

3. Remove from oven and serve immediately.


5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3 cups whole milk

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Cook, stirring until light golden brown, 6 to 7 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in another medium saucepan, heat the milk to just under a boil. Add the milk to the butter mixture about 1 cup at a time, whisking constantly until very smooth, and bring to a boil, whisking. Cook, whisking, until thickened, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat. Season with the salt and nutmeg. Transfer to a bowl and let cool, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use.