Spinach Semolina GnocchiBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterSemolina Gnocchi is a specialty of Rome, and does go back to ancient Roman times. It was at first a very simple combination of Semolina, and milk or water. Now this classic dish contains eggs and grated cheese. Most of us are familiar with gnocchi made from potatoes, but that version was not until the 16th century when potatoes were introduced to Europe. My version is just a bit different with the addition of spinach and ricotta. Thus combining the ancient Roman dish and add a bit of my Northern Italian heritage. These are simple to make, and one of really great things is that the gnocchi dough can be made several days in advance and baked when needed. This recipe will serve 8 as a side dish or 6 as a main course with a nice green salad.Warm Spinach SaladBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterSpinach is such a versatile, healthy, year-round vegetable. It can be steamed, sautéed, put in soups, soufflés, pastas or eaten raw in salads or on sandwiches. This version has it tossed with a warm balsamic dressing that has not only the olive oil, but the added flavor of bacon drippings. The spinach is just slightly wilted, the parsnips and bacon are crunchy, the mushrooms are earthy, the onions add bit of sweetness and the toasted pine nuts are buttery. I think a good rich balsamic (and I really love the Olivier VSOP brand from Napa) adds just the right tartness to the dressing. There is so much going on with this salad that with a slice of a good crusty bread it can easily be the main course. Chicken Thighs with Ricotta & HerbsBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterChicken thighs are one of my favorite pieces of the chicken. They are moist, tender, versatile and can retain all of their excellent qualities whether they are roasted, broiled, braised or stewed. This recipe is easy to make, just takes a bit of time to stuff and tie the pieces, and this part of the prep can be done a day ahead. You can either practice your deboning skills or have the butcher remove the bone for you. For a slightly different flavor for the sauce, try substituting Marsala or Madeira wine for the white wine. Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms and Butternut SquashBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterThis Risotto is a perfect Fall/Winter dish with it's creamy butternut squash and earthy mushrooms. It can be a first course, or become a satisfying main course with the addition of a simple salad and a glass of wine. Risotto was a major part of our food groups growing up, and I'm still in love with it and its many variations. My father comes from the Northern part of Italy where the carbs came from rice and polenta, and thus became prominent in our household. When I started cooking on my own, I realized that there were endless ways to fix rice using the "risotto" technique. There seems to be something for every season. In the Spring there are asparagus, peas and prosciutto, artichoke hearts in early Summer, seafood and lobster stock, saffron, and the list goes on and on. What is critical is the process, using the correct short grained high starch rice, using an excellent stock, and taking your time. Remember, it's a bit like a soufflé, in that it's meant to be served as soon as it's finished cooking. It waits for no one.Chicken Wings in Asian Master SauceBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterCrispy, tasty finger food that's easy to make. Master Sauce sounds impressive, but actually is a very simple sauce that originates from Eastern China. Every family seems to have their own version, but classically the sauce contains Star Anise, ginger root and Szechuan pepper, along with the soy. This simmering sauce is used for chicken as well as pork, and often the braised meat is eaten just over rice. This version of the chicken wings adds an additional step of creating a glaze from part of the sauce and crisping the skin of the chicken wings, either under a broiler or on a grill. The sauce can be reused many times. Simple allow it to cool, strain out the solids (the star anise, ginger root, peppers), skim the fat from the top and freeze. In the past, in China, they simply used it very often and brought it to a boil to kill any bacteria, but I suggest freezing just to be on the safe side.Rice & Vegetable Curry TartBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterA tasty savory tart that can be eaten hot, room temperature or cold. It's great for lunch with a salad, part of a picnic spread or even a light dinner. The curry and cumin gives the tart a wonderful aroma, as well as depth in flavor. The spices pair perfectly with the firm, lightly processed rice blend as well as the medley of vegetables. Basic Savory PastryBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterThis is another in a series of basic pastry doughs. It is used mainly in savory dishes like quiche, the rice and vegetable tart and meat or chicken pot pies. The dough can be made ahead, refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to a month, or several months if you use a food saver vacuum sealer. As with most pastry doughs of this type, it is best when worked as little as possible, and that all ingredients be very cold. When rolling out the dough, you should be able to see small pieces of butter. This will ensure that it will be tender and flakey when baked.Butternut Squash & Curry SoupBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterI love soups for many reasons. They are generally easy to make, they feed your spirit, and soups place no limits on your creativity. This flavorful soup fills the house with the aroma of the curry and other spices that date back thousands of years. Curry powder is actually a spice blend, so different brands will have slightly different flavors. Any that appeal to you will work for this recipe. Red Wine Risotto with Sausage, Porcini and GibletsBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterMy grandmother was born in a small town in the Lombardia region of Italy, that bordered the Piemonte region. I don’t know for certain, but through research I believe this is the reason that growing up, the risotto in my house was made using red wine as was common in Piemonte. I actually wasn't aware that there were other ways of making it until I moved to San Francisco in 1964 and tasted Risotto Milanese. It was also a great introduction to saffron. Since then I've made my favorite rice dish many different ways, but this version from my childhood still feeds my soul. I realize that the giblets are something that most people discard, but I urge you to try them. They add a special flavor and texture that blends well with the spiciness of the sausage, the earthy quality of the dried Porcini and the "toothyness" of the rice. Bottaggio – Pork & Cabbage StewBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterThis dish comes from the Lombardia region of Italy, where my Father was born, and has been made for ages. If you go back in time when the farmers and villagers ate mostly what they grew or raised, you would find that they cooked with lard. There wasn't a huge production of olive oil in the region at that time, but they did raise pigs. This stew was traditionally made using the less tender parts of the pig, and it would contain the feet, nose, and ears and some of the rib bones. Nothing was wasted. However, in this day and age, we can use the more accessible cuts of pork, but I would encourage you to find fresh pork rind and use that. It adds a creamy richness to the broth, and a bit of a crunch in contrast to the soft, tender pork cubes.Spinach & Ricotta Filled Pasta RollsBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterThis dish was described by a friend as "The most ethereal taste of paradise I've ever put in my mouth". The filling, which has been in my family for generations, is full of flavor without being heavy, and and can be made with the sausage or without if you choose. The fresh pasta strips are tender and light. It takes a bit of time to bring it all together, but some of the parts can be made a day or two before assembly. You can use dry pasta, but I would recommend that you make your own, as fresh is so much lighter.Wild Mushroom Butternut Squash Savory Bread PuddingBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterWhen I was growing up, we had fresh French bread from our bakery every day. Which means, we always had day old bread. Not much has changed, and it seems I too have day old French bread, and dislike wasting it. This is a tasty way to use the bread, and as seasons change the vegetables can change. With the addition of a salad, it makes a great vegetarian meal, or can be served along with roasted chicken, turkey or pork.