Crouton’s Pasta alla Puttanesca

This is my interpretation of spaghetti alla puttanesca (whore’s spaghetti), a simple yet robust pasta dish that’s easy to make with around-the-house ingredients (well, our house anyway). Don’t be squeamish about the anchovies … they add flavor to the dish, but without the strong salty taste people associate with anchovies on pizza. You can make […]


Photoblog: an Italian Family Dinner

Yesterday Ditalini and her Aunt Radicchio made three pounds of gnocchi and a big pot of sauce.

Gnocchi (from Ditalini’s family recipe)

When it comes to rolling and shaping gnocchi, there’s some twist of the wrist thing I never quite mastered, but Aunt Radicchio, now the matriarch of Ditalini’s Italian-American family, passed the secret […]


A Birthday Dinner Photoblog

It’s been an annual tradition for several years now: Osso Bucco, our friend from Las Vegas, comes down to visit during my birthday week (his birthday is a week from now, so we celebrate together) and we all go over to Poulet en Crote’s house for a gala dinner.

This year Ditalini prepared three appetizer […]


Second Rule of Cooking Club

If it looks wrong, go with your gut.

Our second cooking club dinner was last night. The theme was Italian, using recipes from the cookbooks of celebrity chef Mario Batali. Ditalini and I were in charge of the antipasto; Magret de Canard, our host, prepared the main dish; Manzo & Anitra Spezzatino brought the salad; […]


Sausage & Spinach with Fettuccini Alfredo

We went to one of our favorite Italian restaurants a few weeks ago. We were with a crowd, so we ordered appetizers. On the appetizer menu was a dish labeled Sausage & Spinach. Sounded good, so we tried it, and it was a hit with everyone. Naturally, I had to try making it myself at […]


Ditalini’s Family Gnocchi Recipe

Ditalini’s Aunt Joyce, a first-generation Italian-American and today the matriarch of the della Fagiolis, taught us this authentic gnocchi recipe, brought to the USA from Vittorio Veneto when the family emigrated.


5 lbs russet potatoes 2 eggs, lightly beaten 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting salt and pepper to taste dash of […]



I learned about polenta when I married Ditalini. It was what you ate when you were poor, or when you were tired of pasta and wanted something different. Sometime during the 1980s polenta became trendy and today you can find it on upscale restaurant menus.

All it is is ground cornmeal, cooked into a thick […]


Ditalini’s Family Meat Sauce Recipe

This is the real stuff, a family meat sauce recipe from the Veneto region of Italy, handed down to my wife Ditalini from her family, the della Fagiolis. I’m sure the recipe changed as it adapted to life in the United States, but when Ditalini and I visited the old folks in Vittorio Veneto back […]


Ditalini’s Pasta alla Carbonara

We love pasta carbonara, but it’s so rich we have it only once or twice a year. Ditalini bases her recipe on one from Mario Batali.

Pancetta and other ingredients


olive oil 8 oz pancetta or bacon 1 lb spaghetti or other pasta (fettuccine works very well) 1 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan […]


What’s On the Stove?

Pasta alla Putanesca, that’s what!