Main Dish · Pasta · Recipes · Vegetarian

Vegetable Bolognese

I love porcini mushrooms, and they are the star of this vegetable bolognese.  I bought my dried porcinis in San Francisco at the Ferry Building.  I used the last of them for this dish.  Now I’ll have to go back for more.  The recipe from  Giada De Laurentiis is awesome.  I added a lot more porcini than was called for.  I didn’t have tomato paste, so I replaced it with pureed sundried tomatoes.  I also added more wine.  Here is the recipe with the original quantities.

Vegetable Bolognese

  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 ounces mushrooms, stemmed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

Rehydrate mushrooms in hot water until softened.

Place vegetables in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.

Add mushrooms and pulse to combine.

Heat olive oil in a large pan.  Saute vegetables along with thyme and oregano for 6 minutes.

Add tomato paste and wine, and continue to cook for 1o minutes.  Add mascarpone cheese and serve over pasta.

Appetizers and Snacks · Recipes · Vegetarian

Bruschetta al Pomodoro

Stephanie and Peter are off to Italy.  Luck outs.  They should be in Sienna by now.

We were in Sienna a few years ago for Danielle and Paul’s wedding.  What a glorious time we had.  The wedding was beyond amazing, set right in the heart of the wine country.

We stayed in an “apartment”.  It was the most amazing apartment, with a cypress lined driveway.

We had dinner at La Bottega del 30, and loved it so much we wanted to go back again the next day.  We couldn’t because they were closed for their cooking school.  Of course we took the class, and this bruschetta was one of the dishes we made.

Sunshine was the super star of the class.  He’s using a mezzaluna knife to chop the nettles used for our pasta.

Bruschetta al Pomodoro

  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch of basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 6 slices country-style bread
  • salt and pepper

Cut an “X” at the bottom of each tomato.  Drop into boiling water for a few seconds, until the skin starts to pull away from the tomato.  Remove tomatoes from water and peel.  Remove seeds and dice.

Place tomatoes in a bowl, along with garlic, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper and olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Grill bread and serve topped with tomato mixture.

Grape vines outside of our apartment.

What a beautiful sunset.

This was taken at the Duomo in Sienna.

My handsome photographer.

Cakes and Cupcakes · Dessert · Recipes

Salted Caramel Cheesecake

These little cheesecakes are so easy to make.  I especially love the fact that they are so small, which makes them almost guilt free.  Well…they are small….

I found this recipe at Food & Wine, I’ve made a few adjustments according to my oven and stove top, but the ingredients remain the same.   Here it goes..

Salted Caramel Cheesecake


  • 1/2 pound cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream


  • 6 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup plus tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 heavy cream
  • Fleur de sel

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until smooth.  Beat in one egg at a time, adding the next egg only after the previous egg has been fully incorporated.  Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally to remove any ingredients that are stuck to bowl.  Pour the batter into six 5-ounce ramekins.

Set the ramekins in a pan, adding enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.  Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes.  Turn off the heat and leave cheesecakes in the oven for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and set ramekins on a rack, cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the caramel: In a medium saucepan, cook corn syrup and sugar over moderate heat, undisturbed, until a deep amber caramel begins to form, about 6-7 minutes.  Keep an eye on your caramel, it can burn quickly.  Remove from heat, and whisk in the butter.  Once the butter is incorporated, add cream slowly, whisking vigorously.

Transfer to a pitcher, add a sprinkle of fleur de sel.

Pour caramel over cheesecake, swirl to coat.

Refrigerate cheesecakes for 3 hours or up to 2 days.

Sunshine is a jungle gym.