Food & Drink


By Barbara Beltrami

METRO photo

One of the best things to do this season is go apple picking. Even though you still have to wear a mask and social distance (even from the limb of a tree!), it’s outdoors and the air is fresh. But after you unload your trunk with your harvest and stagger inside with those apples, then what do you do with them?

For most of us, the first thought is to munch them as we scuffle through leaves during an autumn walk or faithfully shove them in the lunch bags. If we’re feeling ambitious we might bake an apple pie or make applesauce. Those are all fine, but there are so many other things to do with apples. What about cooking them with cabbage and serving them with pork chops? A spicy apple cake? An apple-fennel salad? Take your pick! (pun intended)

Apple and Cabbage-Smothered Pork Chops

The apples and cabbage give a whole new dimension to the pork chops.

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Flour for dredging

4 thick pork chops

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3 Granny Smith apples, pared, cored and sliced into 1/4” wedges

2 large onions, chopped

1 medium head green cabbage, thinly sliced

1 cup beef stock

1 cup dry white wine

1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 bay leaf

1 sprig fresh sage, leaves removed and chopped


In a shallow dish combine salt, pepper and flour; dredge pork chops in mixture. In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat; add pork chops and cook, turning once, until lightly till lightly browned on both sides; remove and set aside.

Add apples and onions to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden brown and apples are soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add cabbage and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add stock, wine, caraway seeds, bay leaf, sage, and more salt and pepper to taste.

Cook, uncovered until mixture comes to a boil, add pork chops, cover and simmer 1 to 1 1/4 hours until chops are fork tender. Remove bay leaf. Serve with pan juices, boiled potatoes and pickled beets.

Apple–Walnut Cake

This cake couldn’t be easier and will keep for days if everyone doesn’t gobble it up.

YIELD: Makes 12 servings


1 stick + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

2 level cups flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar, tightly packed

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, pared, cored and diced

2/3 cup chopped walnuts

2 eggs, lightly beaten


Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13’ baking pan with the one tablespoon butter. In large bowl lightly whisk together the stick of butter, flour, sugars, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, apples, walnuts and eggs. Spread batter evenly in pan and bake 40 to 45 minutes, until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan. Serve with pumpkin ice cream.

Apple-Fennel Salad

This is a spin-off of what used to be called Waldorf salad way back when. It’s full of crunch, texture and flavor.

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings


4 Gala or Fuji apples. cored and diced

Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon

1 fennel bulb, diced

1/2 cup chopped almonds

1 cup red seedless grapes, halved

1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 endives, leaves separated


In a medium bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice. In another large bowl combine the fennel, almonds, grapes, apples, mayonnaise and black pepper. Arrange endive leaves on salad plates, then scoop mixture onto them. Serve at room temperature with meat, poultry or fish.

File photo

Hooks & Chops, a new restaurant featuring specialties from both the land and sea, has officially opened its doors. Brought to you by Executive Chef and Operator Steven Del Lima, the restaurant moves into the space formerly occupied by Ruby Tuesdays located at 6330 Jericho Turnpike in Commack. The restaurant is open daily beginning at 5 p.m. which the exception of Sunday when it opens at 4 p.m. A special happy hour menu is offered Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. For more information, call 631-600-0521 or visit

Photo by Heidi Sutton

The Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting for SoBol in Port Jefferson Station on Oct. 7. The event was attended by members of the chamber, state and local officials as well as corporate members from SoBol.

Photo by Heidi Sutton

Located at 1035 Route 112, Port Jefferson Station in the Crossroads Shopping Center, the East Coast based franchise specializes in acai bowls, pitaya bowls, green bowls and fruit smoothies. They also offer coffee and kids bowls.

“Thank you to all who have been a part of our opening! We are so excited to be a part of the Port Jefferson Station community,” said owner Numa Hernandez.

Pictured from left, SoBol co-founder Jim Kalomiris; Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn; owner Numa Hernandez; Councilwoman Valerie Cartright; President of Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce Jennifer Dznovar; SoBol Project Manager Bill Meindl; SoBol founder Jason Mazzarone; Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine; NYS Assemblyman Steve Englebright; and President of Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce Barbara Ransome.

The cafe offers call in orders, online orders, and works with third-party delivery services like Doordash, Uber Eats, Postmates and GrubHub. Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, call 631-743-9643 or visit

Classic Meatloaf

By Barbara Beltrami

I know someone who is very sophisticated, has traveled all over the world and dines in the finest restaurants. She recently reached a milestone birthday and guess what she requested for dinner? Meatloaf! I suspect many of us would do likewise because I can’t think of another dish that’s more a comfort food. I know that most recipes call for a generous inclusion or slathering of ketchup. However, the best meatloaf I’ve ever had was made by my Aunt Ginny who used to lace hers with torn pieces of wet white bread and then drenched the meat loaf in tomato sauce part way through the baking. For many years I’ve been trying to recreate it, but haven’t been able to quite duplicate it. In my attempts I’ve come up with some pretty good meatloaf recipes, and the ones I like best do use tomato sauce. And by the way, not only is meatloaf a wonderful dinner entree but it also makes a great sandwich.

Classic Meatloaf

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings


2 tablespoons olive oil

3 onions, chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/3 cup beef broth

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3 pounds ground chuck

2/3 cup unflavored bread crumbs

3 eggs, beaten

Nonstick cooking spray

1/2 cup ketchup


Preheat oven to 350 F. In medium skillet, warm olive oil over medium low heat; add onions, salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are wilted, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat, add Worcestershire sauce, broth and tomato paste, stir and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, combine the meat, bread crumbs and eggs; stir and toss to thoroughly combine. Spray a shallow baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer mixture to center of pan and shape into a loaf; spread ketchup on top. Bake until cooked through, about 60 minutes. Slice and serve hot with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.

Aunt Ginny’s Meatloaf

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings


3 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 onions, chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

One 14-ounce can tomato sauce

2 pounds ground chuck

1 pound ground pork

1 cup unflavored bread crumbs

3 slices white sandwich bread

2 eggs, beaten


Preheat oven to 375 F. In medium skillet, warm oil over medium heat. Add onions and salt and pepper, and stirring frequently, cook until onion is transparent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Soak bread slices in cold water just until soggy, remove but do not squeeze dry; tear into bite-size pieces. In large bowl combine onions, half a cup of the tomato sauce, the meat, bread crumbs, bread pieces and eggs; toss lightly. Transfer mixture to shallow baking pan. Shape into rectangle and bake 40 minutes, until brown on top; pour remaining tomato sauce over loaf and continue baking until sauce is bubbly and meat is cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes. Slice and serve hot with buttered broad noodles and a salad.

My Meatloaf

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings


2 onions, chopped

1 large tomato, diced

1 Italian frying pepper, seeded and minced

6 to 8 fresh mushrooms, cleaned and minced

3 pounds ground beef

1 cup unflavored bread crumbs

3 slices white sandwich bread

3 eggs, beaten

Salt and pepper to taste

One 8-ounce can tomato sauce

Nonstick cooking spray


Preheat oven to 375 F. Soak bread slices in water just until soggy, remove but do not squeeze dry; tear into bite-size pieces. In large bowl combine onions, tomato, pepper, mushrooms, beef, bread crumbs, bread, eggs, salt and pepper. Spray a nonstick shallow baking dish with nonstick cooking spray; transfer mixture to pan and shape into rectangle. Bake 40 minutes, until brown on top; pour tomato sauce over top and continue baking until sauce is bubbly and meat is cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes more. Slice and serve hot with baked potato and winter squash.

Acorn Squash. Metro photo

By Barbara Beltrami

The minute I see mums and pumpkins and squash piled in pyramids I start to think autumn.  The sunflowers and geraniums are still prolific, there’s a little basil and a few tomatoes left in the garden, but I’ve gone fickle, have lost interest in them and am now focused on things autumnal. In come those earthy veggies, out come the recipes. Acorn squash is my favorite because it’s delicious baked with just butter, salt and pepper or stuffed with a variety of concoctions. Preparation is simple: Wash it, halve it stem to end, and scoop out the seeds.

Sausage, Apple and Fennel- Stuffed Acorn Squash

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


2 acorn squash, washed, halved and seeded

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound Italian fennel sausage

2/3 cup finely chopped onion

1 cup finely chopped fennel

2 Granny Smith apples, pared, cored and diced

1 tbsp. minced fresh sage leaves

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 large egg


Preheat oven to 375 F. Place squash halves, cut side up, in shallow baking pan, brush with butter and season with salt and pepper. Bake 50 to 60 minutes until tender but not mushy. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; add sausage and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides; remove and set aside; place onion, fennel, apple and sage in skillet and, stirring frequently, sauté until tender. Remove sausage from casing and crumble; in medium bowl, combine with sautéed veggies; stir in bread crumbs and egg. Scoop filling into baked squash halves, return to oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes until heated through and a little bit crisp on top. Serve hot with poultry or pork.

Curried Quinoa and Raisin- Stuffed Acorn Squash

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


2 acorn squash, washed halved, and seeded

Scant 1/4 cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Scant 1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 large shallot, chopped

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

2 teaspoons curry powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/3 cup raisins, soaked in warm water and drained

1/2 cup chopped pistachio nuts

1 cup finely chopped Italian flat parsley leaves


Preheat oven to 375 F. Place squash halves, cut side up, in a shallow baking pan. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, brown sugar and two tablespoons of the oil; brush squash with mixture, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until flesh is tender, about 50 to 60 minutes.

In a medium skillet, heat remaining tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat; add shallot and, stirring occasionally, cook about 5 minutes, until browned. Add quinoa, spices, and salt and stir until they are browned and release their aroma, just a minute or so. Add 2 cups hot water, bring to simmer, cover skillet and continue simmering until quinoa is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes, then stir in raisins, pistachios and half of parsley. Scoop into squash halves and sprinkle with remaining parsley. Serve hot with lamb, beef or poultry.

Wild Rice, Mushroom and Spinach- Stuffed Acorn Squash

YIELD: Makes 8 servings


2/3 cup wild rice, cooked according to package directions

4 acorn squash, wash, halved and seeded

2 tablespoons olive oil

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup finely chopped celery

4 ounces fresh mushrooms, cleaned and chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

One 1-pound package fresh spinach, washed and chopped

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


Preheat oven to 425 F. Brush cut sides of squash with half the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place cut side down on baking sheet and roast 20 to 30 minutes, until tender.

In large skillet heat remaining olive oil over medium-high heat, add onion and celery and sauté, stirring frequently until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté another 3 to 5 minutes; add garlic, thyme and spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted, just a minute or two.

Stir in cooked rice and lemon juice, adjust seasonings and scoop mixture into squash halves. Bake until heated through, about 10 minutes. Serve hot with poultry, meat or fish.

Ask your doctor before starting gluten withdrawal. Stock photo

By David Dunaief, M.D.

Dr. David Dunaief

A quick trip to the grocery store or a restaurant will confirm what you already know: gluten-free is a “thing.” Pizza, pasta, bread, and even breadcrumb-encrusted products have been reformulated, and everyday products, like frozen vegetables, have been relabeled with splashy language promising “gluten-free.” The marketers are on board: gluten-free diets are hot.

“Gluten-free” is not necessarily synonymous with healthy. Still, we keep hearing how more people feel better without gluten. Is this a placebo effect? What is myth and what is reality in terms of gluten? In this article I will try to distill what we know about gluten and gluten-free diets, who may benefit and who may not.

Why gluten-free?

Gluten is a plant protein found mainly in wheat, rye and barley. While more popular recently, going gluten-free is not a fad, since we know that patients who suffer from celiac disease, an autoimmune disease, benefit tremendously when gluten is removed (1). In fact, it is the main treatment.

But what about people who don’t have celiac disease? There seems to be a spectrum of physiological reaction to gluten, from intolerance to gluten (sensitivity) to gluten tolerance (insensitivity). Obviously, celiac disease is the extreme of intolerance, but even these patients may be asymptomatic.

Then, there is nonceliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), referring to those in the middle portion of the spectrum (2). The prevalence of NCGS is half that of celiac disease, according to the NHANES data from 2009-2010 (3). However, many disagree with this assessment, indicating that it is much more prevalent and that its incidence is likely to rise (4). The term was not even coined until 2011.

Celiac disease vs. gluten sensitivity

Both may present intestinal symptoms, such as bloating, gas, cramping and diarrhea, as well as extraintestinal (outside the gut) symptoms, including gait ataxia (gait disturbance), malaise, fatigue and attention deficit disorder (5). Surprisingly, they both may have the same results with serological (blood) tests.

The first line of testing includes anti-gliadin antibodies and tissue transglutaminase. These measure a reaction to gluten; however, they don’t have to be positive for there to be a reaction to gluten. HLA–DQ phenotype testing is the second line of testing and is more specific for celiac disease.

What is unique to celiac disease is a histological change in the small intestine, with atrophy of the villi (small fingerlike projections) contributing to gut permeability, what might be called “leaky gut.” Biopsy of the small intestine is the most definitive way to diagnose celiac disease. Though the research has mainly focused on celiac disease, there is some evidence that shows NCGS has potential validity, especially in irritable bowel syndrome.

Before we look at the studies, what does it mean when a food says it’s “gluten-free”? The FDA requires that “gluten-free” labeled foods have no more than 20 parts per million of gluten (6). Effective October 13, 2020, new FDA guidelines go into effect for proving fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and yogurt, and hydrolyzed ingredients found in many packaged products meet the same criteria.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a nebulous disease diagnosed through exclusion, and the treatments are not obvious. That is why the results from a 34-patient, randomized controlled trial, the gold standard of studies, showing that a gluten-free diet significantly improved symptoms in IBS patients, is so important (7). Patients were given a muffin and bread on a daily basis.

Of course, one group was given gluten-free products and the other given products with gluten, though the texture and taste were identical. In six weeks, many of those who were gluten-free saw the pain associated with bloating and gas mostly resolve; they had significant improvement in stool composition, such that they were not suffering from diarrhea, and their fatigue diminished. In one week, those in the gluten group were in substantially more discomfort than those in the gluten-free group.

As part of a well-written editorial in Medscape by David Johnson, M.D., a professor of gastroenterology, questioned whether this beneficial effect from the IBS trial was due to gluten withdrawal or to withdrawal of fermentable sugars because of the elimination of some grains themselves (8). In other words, gluten may be just one part of the picture. He believes that nonceliac gluten sensitivity is a valid concern.


The microbiome in the gut may play a pivotal role in whether a person develops celiac disease. In an observational study using data from the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register, results indicate that those who were given antibiotics within the last year had a 40 percent greater chance of developing celiac disease and a 90 percent greater risk of developing gut inflammation (9). The researchers believe that this results from a misbalance in the microbiota, or flora, of the gastrointestinal tract from antibiotic use.

Not everyone will benefit from a gluten-free diet. In fact, most of us will not. Ultimately, people who may benefit are those who have celiac disease and those who have symptomatic gluten sensitivity. Also, patients who have positive serological tests, including tissue transglutaminase or anti-gliadin antibodies, are good candidates for gluten-free diets.

There is a downside to a gluten-free diet: potential development of macronutrient and micronutrient deficiencies. Therefore, it is wise to ask your doctor before starting gluten withdrawal. The research in patients with gluten sensitivity is relatively recent, and most gluten research relates to celiac disease. Hopefully, we will see broader studies in the future.


(1) Am J Gastroenterol. 2013;108:656-676. (2) Gut 2013;62:43–52. (3) Scand J Gastroenterol. (4) Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2013 Nov;25(11):864-871. (5) (6) (7) Am J Gastroenterol. 2011; 106(3):508-514. (8) (9) BMC Gastroenterol. 2013:13(109).

Dr. David Dunaief is a speaker, author and local lifestyle medicine physician focusing on the integration of medicine, nutrition, fitness and stress management. For further information, visit

Lemon Pound Cake

By Barbara Beltrami

What’s in a name? Pound cake gets its name from the fact that it was originally made from a pound each of flour, sugar, butter and eggs (at about two ounces each there are 8 or 9 large eggs in a pound). So if you’re watching your cholesterol, don’t read any further. But if you’re a huge fan of pound cake as my husband is, then get out your loaf pan and read on to check out my recipes for old-fashioned pound cake, chocolate pound cake and lemon pound cake. The last two are really just loaf cakes, but they have the texture and taste of pound cakes, and that’s what really counts.

Old-fashioned Pound Cake

YIELD: Makes 2 loaves


1 pound butter

1 pound sugar

9 large eggs, separated

1 pound cake flour, sifted


Preheat oven to 325 F. Cream butter until soft; gradually beat in sugar until combination is light and fluffy. Beat egg yolks until thick and lemon-colored, then beat into butter and sugar mixture until whole mixture is light and fluffy. Beat egg whites until stiff; add flour alternately with egg whites; beat until very smooth and light after each addition. Line two 8” x 5” x 3” loaf pans with waxed paper and butter it; turn batter into loaf pans and bake for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream and fresh berries.

Chocolate Pound Cake

YIELD: Makes 1 loaf


Nonstick cooking spray

1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2  cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup milk


Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9” x 5” x 3” loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and coat with the quarter cup of flour. In a large bowl beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. With mixer on low speed add the salt, vanilla extract, baking soda, baking powder and cocoa and blend thoroughly; add eggs, one at a time and beat well after each one. With mixer still on low speed, add the flour and milk alternately a little at a time, but do not overbeat.

Pour batter evenly into prepared loaf pan and bake one hour or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack about 10 minutes; then remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack before serving.

Lemon Pound Cake

Lemon Pound Cake

YIELD: Makes 1 loaf


2 sticks unsalted butter, softened plus more for greasing pan

Parchment paper

3 lemons

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1 2/3 cup flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk


Place rack in center of oven; preheat oven to 350 F. Generously butter 9” x 5” x 3” loaf pan and, allowing 2 to 3 inches to hang over top, line with parchment. In large bowl, finely grate zest of lemons but reserve one-third; add butter and sugar and with mixer on high speed beat until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, making sure each one is fully incorporated before adding the next, then continue to beat about two minutes until mixture is even fluffier.

In another large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add half the dry ingredient mixture to first mixture and beat until just combined; add milk and beat on low speed just until smooth, then add remaining dry ingredients and beat on low speed just until combined.

Scrape batter into loaf pan, sprinkle remaining lemon zest on top and bake 45 to 50 minutes, until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool on cake rack 10 minutes, then using overhanging parchment, carefully lift out of pan, place on wire rack and allow to cool to room temperature.; remove parchment and serve with lemon sorbet or vanilla ice cream.

Stock photo

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Serving wine at home, on a picnic or during a festive occasion is fun and with just a few simple tips listed below, you will be on your way to an enjoyable time.

Opening Table and Sparkling Wines

Table wines: Cut the capsule near the bottle’s neck, then remove it using the edge of the knife blade. Insert the point of the corkscrew’s worm into the cork and with a gentle downward pressure, screw the worm clockwise until only one notch is showing. Then, attach the corkscrew’s lever to the lip on top of the bottle and while holding it firmly, lift the handle of the corkscrew in a straight motion until the cork comes out of the bottle.

Sparkling wines. Remove the foil capsule; untwist and loosen the wire cage but do not remove it. Hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle pointed away from you and anyone around you; while holding the cork in one hand, twist the bottle in a downward motion with the other hand. Allow the cork to ease out until a gentle “pop” is heard. Continue to hold the bottle at this angle for a few more moments to equalize the pressure inside the bottle. Then stand the bottle up; it is ready to pour. Under no circumstances ever use a corkscrew to open a bottle of sparkling wine.

Serving Tips

• White and sparkling wine can be chilled in 20 minutes if immersed in an ice bucket containing a mixture of ice and cold water.

• A wine glass should have a stem and contain between 6 to 10 oz.

• Champagne glasses should be flute or tulip-shaped, rather than the flat, “saucer-shaped” glass.

• Wine glasses should be filled only one-third for white wines and one-half to two-thirds for red wines.

Serving Temperatures for Table Wines

• Dry white wines  50–55 degrees

• Dry, light-bodied red and rosé wines 60–65 degrees

• Dry, full-bodied red wines 65–68 degrees

• Sparkling wines 42–46 degrees

• Sweet red and white wines 42–46 degrees

Proper Order of Serving Wines

• Light wines should precede heavy or full-bodied wines.

• Dry wines should precede sweet wines.

• Dry white wines should precede dry red wines.

Dry red wines should precede sweet white wines.

• Dry sparkling wines can be served before, during or after dinner, while sweet sparkling wines are best after dinner.

• Port, Sherry, Madeira, and Marsala are generally served after dinner. However, the dry versions — White Port, Fino Sherry, Sercial Madeira, and Dry Marsala can be served before dinner.

Well, there you have it. Now go and enjoy yourself!

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need To Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on He conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR [email protected].

Photo courtesy of Disney Enterprises/Pixar Animation Studios

By Barbara Beltrami

Although many of us fondly think of Ratatouille as the Disney movie with the eponymous cute little rat, it is actually a French vegetable stew of eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, peppers and fresh herbs that originated in Provence. It’s the best way I know of to enjoy late summer’s bounty all together in delicious mouthfuls of garden goodness. As with most regional dishes, each cook has her own adamant way of preparing her ratatouille.

Because it’s one of my favorite veggie dishes,  whenever I’ve visited France, I’ve managed  to come home with another recipe for ratatouille. Please note that these first two very traditional recipes call for cooking each veggie separately; that’s what makes them so colorful and preserves their distinct flavor and texture. The third recipe is a spin off of ratatouille, but equally savory. All recipes can be served hot, warm, at room temperature or cold. I think ratatouille goes well with almost anything!

Giselle Renouard’s Ratatouille

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


1 pound eggplant, sliced into 1/2” rounds

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Olive oil

1 pound zucchini, diced

1 pound mixed red and green bell peppers, cored, seeded and thinly sliced

1/2 pound onions,  finely chopped

1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes, chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Leaves from several sprigs thyme

Leaves from one large sprig basil, julienned


Place eggplant in a colander, sprinkle with salt and let drain 30 minutes. Pat dry and cut again into small chunks. In large skillet over medium heat, warm olive oil; add eggplant, stir occasionally and when brown on all sides remove and drain on paper towels. Add a little more oil and cook the zucchini just until soft; remove and drain. Next, add a little more oil, if needed, and cook peppers; remove them when tender; add onions, cook until soft but not brown, then add tomatoes, garlic, sugar, parsley and thyme and simmer for about 30 minutes. Return the rest of the vegetables to the pan and, stirring frequently but gently, simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add basil, salt and pepper.

Mme. Marie Ouvrard’s Ratatouille

YIELD: Makes 6 servings


3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 red bell pepper, seeded, cored and diced

1 1/2 pounds small zucchini, cut into 1/2” cubes

3/4 pound eggplant, cut into 1/2” cubes

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

5 medium tomatoes, diced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil


In large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat; add onions and garlic and, stirring often, sauté, for a minute or two until onion softens and garlic releases its aroma. Stir in red pepper and cook over medium heat, 4 to 5 minutes, until soft. Add zucchini and eggplant and simmer briefly. If mixture starts to stick to pan, add a little more oil or hot water. Stir in thyme and tomatoes; season with salt and pepper; simmer until all vegetables are soft but not mushy, about 5 minutes. Just before serving, add basil.

Lucie Durand’s Ratatouille

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


Nonstick cooking spray

2 large onions, sliced thin

2 pounds eggplant sliced 1/2” thick

2 orange or yellow bell peppers

2 red bell peppers

4 large tomatoes, cut into 1/2 slices

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

8 garlic cloves, halved

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley

1 tablespoon minced fresh basil leaves


Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray bottom and sides of a casserole with nonstick cooking spray. Make a layer using  half each of the onion rings, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, thyme, salt and pepper and garlic in that order. Repeat and drizzle with olive oil. Place in oven and bake about 50 to 60 minutes, until bubbling and tender. Occasionally, using the back of a wooden spoon, press down on the vegetables to make sure they are cooking evenly. Remove from oven, garnish with parsley and basil before serving.

Stock photo

By Barbara Beltrami

So you love pizza. Who doesn’t? And you say you wish you could eat it 24/7 three times a day. Well, the pizza genie has granted your wish. Beyond the basic pizza margherita with tomato sauce and cheese, there are so many versions of that uber popular pie that it’s hard to count them.

However, if you’re serious about having pizza for every meal or maybe you think you might like to spread the wealth around over a few days or weeks, I’ve got three pizzas for you: The first, of course, is for breakfast and has, among other ingredients, eggs; the second takes inspiration from a lunchtime favorite, tuna salad; and the third is a dinner pizza that has so many ingredients and toppings that you’re going to need extra napkins.

Breakfast Pizza

YIELD: Serves 4 to 6


Nonstick cooking spray

2 tablespoons cornmeal

One 12-inch pizza crust

3/4 pound bacon

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, diced

1 cup diced potatoes

1/2 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese

1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

4 to 6 large eggs


Preheat oven to 450F. Spray a rimmed pizza pan or baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with cornmeal and spread pizza crust to edges. In a large skillet over medium-high heat fry bacon until it just starts to shrivel and turn golden, about 5 to 10 minutes; remove and drain on paper towels. In another large skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium high heat; add onion and potatoes and sauté, turning often, until both are soft but not mushy.

Sprinkle cheese over crust, then tomatoes, then onions and potatoes; season with salt and pepper and bake for 6 to 8 minutes, until everything turns light brown. Remove from oven, place on rack and carefully break eggs evenly over top; place partially cooked bacon slices in between eggs, return to oven and bake another 8 to10 minutes until eggs are set and bacon is crisp. Remove from oven, drizzle with olive oil, cut into slices and serve immediately with hot coffee, Bloody Mary’s or mimosas.

Lunch Pizza

YIELD: Serves 4 to 6


Nonstick cooking spray

2 tablespoons cornmeal

One 12-inch pizza crust

Two 7-ounce cans water-packed tuna, drained

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon prepared mustard

1 teaspoon pickle juice

1 shallot, minced

1 celery rib, finely diced

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1/2 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced


Preheat oven to 450 F. Spray rimmed pizza pan or baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, then sprinkle cornmeal evenly over it. Spread pizza crust to edges of pan; bake until crust is slightly crispy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile in medium bowl thoroughly combine tuna, mayonnaise, mustard, pickle juice, shallot, celery salt and pepper. Spread evenly over partially baked crust, top with cheese and bell pepper slices and bake 8 to 10 minutes until crust is golden and filling is heated through and bubbly. Serve hot or warm immediately with a mixed green salad.

Dinner Pizza

YIELD: Serves 4 to 6


Nonstick cooking spray

2 tablespoons cornmeal

One 12-inch pizza crust

2/3 cup marinara sauce

3 ounces thinly sliced pepperoni

2 ounces prosciutto, coarsely torn or chopped

6 anchovies, diced

1 medium Portobello mushroom, thinly sliced

3 roasted red pepper halves, julienned

1/2 cup oil-packed artichokes, chopped

1/2 cup black olives, sliced

Salt to taste

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

12 ounces fresh mozzarella, shredded

1/4 cup olive oil


Preheat oven to 475 F. Spray a rimmed pizza pan or baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, then sprinkle with cornmeal and place the pizza crust on top, stretching it to the edges. Slather sauce over crust; evenly scatter pepperoni, prosciutto, anchovies, mushrooms, roasted pepper, artichokes, olives, salt and crushed red pepper flakes over sauce; top with mozzarella and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until vegetables are soft and start to brown a little and edge of crust is golden, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, slice and serve hot or warm with sautéed broccoli rabe or spinach.