Easy Baked Fish

Every month I make lunch for the board members of the Pacific Italian Alliance.
The most recent menu featured baked fish which I made following the recipe for
Sea Bass in Parchment (page 168 ) in our cookbook: Cooking Dinner.

Orange Roughy with sliced zucchini & red onion.I substituted orange roughy and it came out excellent. I have also used salmon fillet so I am confident that this method is easy and foolproof! Basically, you place a 3 to 4 oz piece of fillet in a large rectangle of parchment paper. Drizzle with a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt & pepper. Add some fresh herbs and thinly sliced vegetables. You can make individual pouches or wrap two pieces or a whole fillet in one pouch.
Bake at 400*F for 20 minutes and serve.

Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia


Sea Bass with sliced zucchini, potatoes & tomatoes

A la Mode

Forgot to tease everyone with the “a la mode” version. Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia


Blueberry Crisp (Traditional or Gluten Free)

Summer and Fresh Berries make for simple baking and delicious desserts.

Use fresh blueberries to make this easy dish!


Place 4 cups fresh blueberries in a 9×9-inch baking pan.
Mix in 2 tbs corn starch and  2-4 tbs sugar. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix:
1/2 cup A Tavola Together Gluten Free All Purpose Flour  (or regular all purpose flour)
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1      teaspoon cinnamon
dash ground nutmeg
1/2  teaspoon sea salt





Stir in 1/4 cup soft butter, (1/2 stick) cut into fourths

Preheat oven to 350*F.

Spread topping evenly over blueberries. Bake 45 to 50 minutes until top is light brown.

Macarons for Mom

Sweet, soft yet crunchy, and colorful, the over-sized macarons beckon to hungry customers from the large pastry case inside Lemonade, our favorite restaurant in Venice Beach.  A few miles away at MILK, a local creamery, ice cream sandwiches of delicious flavors made with macaron cookies become an anytime irresistible dessert.MACARON FILLED sm

I discovered the wonderful colors and flavors of macarons in Paris, last summer, but only became obsessed with making them myself after we sampled these enchanting treats in southern California.  Something about their innocence inspired me to master their delicate elegance. I assumed that an experienced baker like me would have little difficulty. Well, after 20 batches, I discovered the method is more about the process than the actual ingredients which are few and relatively common.

After researching several recipes, I discovered that four important kitchen tools are a must! I list below the exact steps and directions that proved the most successful in my latest culinary adventure. Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia

You will need: a kitchen scale, a sifter, a stand mixer fitted with a whip and a wide-mouth pastry bag.
2 large eggs, granulated sugar, powdered sugar and almond flour.MACARON DRY ING sm - Copy1. Break and separate the egg whites from the yolks. Measure 2 ounces of egg whites and place into the bowl of the mixer. Add 15 grams (about 1 tablespoon) granulated sugar to the whites and allow to  come to room temperature while you prepare the powdered sugar and almond flour.

2. Sift about 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar into a bowl. Then measure 115 grams (4 ounces) of sifted powdered sugar into a separate bowl.

3. Sift about ¾ cup almond flour into a bowl. Then measure 58 grams (2 ounces) of sifted almond flour and add to the sifted powdered sugar. Mix until combined. Set aside.

4. Place mixing bowl with egg whites in mixer stand and set speed to 2. Beat for two minutes. Increase speed to 4 and beat for two minutes. Increase speed to 6 and beat for two minutes. Increase speed to 8 and beat for two minutes.4A MACARON EGG WHITE STIFF

5. Remove bowl from stand. Add powdered sugar and almond flour all at once. With a rubber scraper, fold into beaten egg whites counting 40 strokes.

IMPORTANT:  add optional food coloring and or flavorings during the last 30 seconds of beating the egg whites,
OR during the last 10 strokes of folding in the dry ingredients.

6. Invert the pastry bag over a tall glass and fill with meringue mixture using the rubber scraper.6  MACARON PASTRY BAG - Copy7. Pipe 16 rounds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

8. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

9. Preheat oven to 325*F.

10. Bake macarons for 13-14 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

11. Place two halves together with buttercream frosting or fruit filling. For buttercream, I blend ½ cup room temperature butter with 3 cups sifted powdered sugar, ¼ cup melted white chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon heavy cream.MACARON BOW sm

Birthday “Pup” Cake

Making food for your family pets is easy and pet- healthy. Ellie, our  Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, is celebrating her second birthday! This Birthday PupCake is made with all natural ingredients…including A Tavola Together Gluten Free All Purpose Flour.
Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia

  • Birthday PupCake
    1 egg
    1/4 cup peanut butter
    1/4 cup cooking oil
    1 tablespoon honey (optional)
    1 cup shredded carrots
    1 cup A Tavola Together Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Plain Greek Yogurt for frosting



  1. Preheat oven to 350* F. Grease a medium cupcake mold.
  2. Combine the egg, peanut butter, oil, and honey, in a large bowl; blend well. Stir in the carrots and mix thoroughly.
  3. Stir together GF all-purpose flour and baking soda and fold into the carrot mixture. Spoon cake batter into prepared pan.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes. Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes; then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Assemble with peanut butter in the middle and frost with Plain Greek Yogurt.

Pizza Dough Mix at the Bethlehem Bakery

Prior to Christmas, parishioners of St Peter Lutheran Church of Lodi, CA produced their annual Journey to Christmas – featuring a walk-through of six live scenes with witness actors and animals depicting the birth of Jesus. Attendees enjoyed an interactive Bethlehem Village, hot drinks, holiday cookies and pizza from the Bethlehem Bakery. The bakers used A Tavola Together Pizza Dough Mix to feed the hungry travelers. Season’s Greetings.  Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia

I Love Veggies!

I plan to bring 3 vegetable side dishes to our Family Thanksgiving this year – as well as plenty of Focaccia!
Here’s an easy Roast Vegetable Combination that features a variety of winter vegetables. Mix them up to your liking.

Maple & Rosemary Roasted Vegetables

1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted
1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4″ thick on the diagonal
1 pound cauliflower florets
1 pound butternut squash cubes
1 pound brussels sprouts, halved
1 pound small red potatoes, cut into 1″ cubes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1. Preheat oven to 425*F. Spread pecan halves in a pie plate and toast about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

2. Place carrots, cauliflower, butternut squash, brussels sprouts and red potatoes in a large bowl. Add olive oil, vinegar and seasonings and stir to coat all vegetables well. Spread them on TWO rimmed baking sheets and roast for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to ONE large roasting pan. Add maple syrup and stir to coat well. Return  to oven and roast for 20-25 minutes until done. Garnish with pecan halves and serve!

Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia

Ginger Snaps

Yesterday, my daughter called and hinted that she has not had my Ginger Snap Cookies in such a long time. Sensing an urgent request from a homesick college freshman, I immediately set out to bake a batch to send to her. Here’s a recipe that unites the perfect amount of spice within a crisp, yet soft treat.

Ginger Snaps
Servings: 20  Prep Time: 20 minutes  Cook Time: 8 minutes

¾       cup butter, room temperature
¾       cup dark brown sugar, packed
¼       cup dark molasses
1        egg
1        teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3        cups all-purpose flour
1        teaspoon baking soda
2        teaspoons ground ginger
1        teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼       teaspoon sea salt
few shakes of ground cloves
few shakes of ground nutmeg

1/2     cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350* F.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

Combine butter, brown sugar and molasses in a large mixing bowl. Beat well with an electric mixer on high speed until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla

Stir flour, baking soda, spices and salt in a separate bowl. Add to batter and beat on very low speed, just until mixed.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar. Place on cookie sheet – pressing to flatten slightly. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges just turn brown. Do not overbake!

Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia


Let Them Eat Cake

Last night, Mary Graham Children’s Foundation and The Lucas Winery hosted their first annual Vineyard Toast – Wine Tasting and Food Pairing, benefiting the Mary Graham Trade School and College Scholarship Program. Chef Warren Ito prepared delicious, melt-in-your-mouth braised short ribs, Angelina’s donated pesto pasta and beef brochettes and I supplied dessert. Here is the recipe for the featured Lemon Cake.

Lemon Cake

2          cups all-purpose flour
1/4      cup almond meal
1/2      teaspoon baking powder
1/2      teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4      teaspoon sea salt
3          large eggs
2          cups sugar
1          cup extra virgin olive oil
1          cup lemon yogurt
1/4      teaspoon pure lemon extract
1/4      cup sweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted, optional
For Glaze:
1/4      cup white chocolate chips
1          cup powdered sugar
4-5      tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Grease a 9×13” pan with baking spray.
Combine, Gluten Free Focaccia Mix, almond meal, baking soda and cream of tartar. Set aside.
Beat eggs and sugar on high for 5 minutes. Stir in oil, yogurt and extract until well incorporated.
Stir dry ingredients into batter. Do not overmix! Stir in toasted coconut.Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out with moist crumbs.
Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
For Glaze:
Melt white chocolate chips. Stir in powdered sugar and lemon juice – adjusting sugar and juice until desired consistency.
For Gluten Free Option: Substitute 2 cups A Tavola Together Gluten Free Focaccia Mix and omit salt.
Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia




Spaghetti with Meatballs


Since the days of Café Luna, I have been in search of the ultimate Meatball recipe. In Italy, food is very regional and in Tuscany, where I come from, we do not eat meatballs with pasta. To be exact, we have a meatball dish, but it is not eaten “with” the pasta, it is a Secondo Piatto and it is served without tomato sauce.  Meatballs with pasta is a traditional southern Italian dish.

Being in California for 20 years, I have come to appreciate that Americans love spaghetti with meatballs.  Recently, after looking up and down the country I finally found what I was looking for and here it is.

One note of caution: this is not a typical two minute sauce. Be prepared to spend at least one hour preparing the sauce. But what would be better time than the Christmas/New Year vacation to spend time cooking together in the kitchen!!

 For Meatballs

1 Pd Ground Beef

2 eggs

2 medium potatoes

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon thyme

1 garlic clove crushed

A pinch of nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

2 cups of breadcrumbs

2 cups canola oil

For Tomato Sauce

1/2 cup good olive oil

2 garlic cloves crushed

1 cup of finely chopped parsley

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

1 can tomato sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt


Peel, cut and boil the potatoes. Transfer them in an medium bowl and mash them while still warm.

Add ground beef, Parmesan, thyme, garlic, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Mix with your hands.

In a large plate pour breadcrumbs. Make 1 inch balls with the meat and roll in breadcrumbs until coated all around.

In a large deep pot pour the oil and fry a handful of meatballs at a time, for about 2 minutes making sure they are fried on all sides.

To make the sauce in another large pot pour olive oil, add garlic, parsley and pepper flakes, sauté for 2 minutes (being careful not to burn the garlic) add tomato sauce, salt and cook for 10 minutes. Add meatballs and cook for half hour.

Cook spaghetti al dente, drain, add pasta to the sauce, sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan and serve immediately.

Buon Appetito e Buon Anno.

Rima, Cook with your heart and… Happy New Year!!