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Summer Sundays in Marion’s Backyard

I am always sad to see summer slowly fade away, even though it’s been too rainy this season for “My Backyard.” But this week promises to be lovely and sunny so let’s plan an outdoor Sunday dinner.

Let’s start with an apricot salad; the fruit should be really ripe now. Follow it up with my Calabrian pepper and shrimp, which should make a spicy start to the dinner. Add the pepper to a mild amount if you like. I usually play with it and taste it until I reach the amount of heat I need.

While your guests are enjoying their salad and appetizer, you can boil the water and prepare the Pappardelle. Make the sauce the day before or morning of the dinner. Take the roast out and let it settle.

Now comes my favorite part of the day, when I get to sit down and enjoy my Tito’s Vodka Espresso Martini…sooo good and the espresso peps me up just enough to do the party clean-up. Have two – like I do and relax because summer is almost over… See you next week – Ciao!

Spicy Shrimp with Calabrian Pepper


  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Calabrian pepper
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil
  • 1 lb. large shrimp (deveined)


Whisk the Parmigiano, olive oil and Calabrian pepper, lemon zest, oregano and salt all together.

Toss in and coat the shrimp. Let stand for 15 minutes then arrange the shrimp on a rimmed baking pan and bake at 400F for 10 minutes until the shrimp become a pink color.

Pour some lemon juice and basil on the hot shrimp and serve warm.

Apricot, Corn & Mascarpone Salad


  • 2 ripe apricots
  • 1 hot pepper (thinly chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons white Balsamic Vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 12 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 8 pieces Italian bread (ciabatta or panella)
  • 1 can kernel corn
  • 1 container of mascarpone
  • 2 hearts of butter lettuce
  • pistachio nuts (shelled)


In a bowl, mix apricots, hot pepper pieces, vinegar, oil and salt and gently turn it all together. Let it sit for ½ an hour.

In an oven pan, place the bread slices (not overlapping) and brush with olive oil. Grill under broiler on both sides about 5 minutes for both sides.

Add the corn and pistacchios to the apricot mixture and blend in.

Arrange the lettuce nicely on a rectangular platter and put of scoop of the apricot mixture on each and put a teaspoon of mascarpone on top. Serve with the grilled bread on the side.

Veal Roast


  • 3 lb veal roast
  • Handful of fresh sage leaves
  • 3 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 2 ½ sticks of unsalted butter
  • 2 clove garlic
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 pinches sea salt


Wrap the sides of the roast with the sage and rosemary and tie them on with string to hold the herbs.

Melt the butter and garlic together and cook for 2 minutes. (Don’t burn the butter or garlic.) Place the roast in a large roasting pan with the garlic and butter. Salt the meat on all sides and brown it in the pan for 5 minutes. Gently turn the roast with a large spoon to release its natural juices. Add the white wine and cover the pan. Simmer for 30 minutes. The roast should be slightly pink inside and ready to slice and be plated. Serve immediately.**

**At this point, the meat should be sliced so if you or your guests like it cooked more, put those slices in the oven again in their juices and cook until your desired wellness.

Fresh Pappardelle with Sweet Red Peppers & Sausage


  • 1 lb Pappardelle (very easy to make yourself or buy fresh in refrigerated section of your supermarket)
  • 2 ½ lbs red and yellow sweet bell peppers (cut in ½, clean out seeds & slice into strips)
  • ½ stick butter
  • 4 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion (chopped)
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • handful fresh basil (torn)
  • 2 ¼ lbs cherry tomatoes (quartered)
  • 1 cup of your own tomato sauce (marinara – no meat) or 1 cup of tomato puree from a can
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • peanut oil
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano


Sauté peppers in peanut oil for 10 to 15 minutes. Place on paper towels.

In a separate pan, melt the butter and oil together; add the onion and cook until golden (not burned). Add the sausage and brown it. Cover and cook another 3 minutes. Uncover and pierce the sausage so the juices come out. Add the peppers, tomatoes, basil, salt and cup of sauce to the pan. Cover and cook for ½ hour. When done, remove the sausage and cut into small pieces and put back in the pan.

Meantime, cook the Pappardelle. Drain and add the sauce. Toss and sprinkle 1 cup grated Parmigiano on top. Serve hot.

Serves 4 to 6

Crespelle alla Fiorentina


For the batter:

  • 5 1/4 oz. flour
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 oz butter, melted
  • eggs
  • pinch of salt


For the filling:

  • 1 egg
  • 9 oz ricotta
  • 1 lb blanched spinach
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • For the besciamella sauce:
  • 2 1/2 cups milk (for a richer sauce use half milk, half cream)
  • 2 oz butter
  • 2 oz flour
  • salt and pepper



Preheat the oven to 350°.  For the crespelle, sift the flour into a bowl and add eggs; mix well with a whisk then add milk, melted butter and a pinch of salt. The mixture should be fluid (it should run off a spoon like oil) and no lumps. If it is too dense you can add a little water or some more milk. Set the batter aside, ideally the batter for about 30 minutes.

Set a non-stick, lightly greased pan on medium heat and pour ¼ cup or ladle-full of the crespelle batter into the center of the pan, swirling to cover. When the top begins to slightly bubble, gently flip with a spatula and cook for another 10 seconds. They don’t need to brown and should remain soft. Set aside until all the crespelle are done (this mixture should make eight crespelle).

For the besciamella sauce add butter to a saucepan over low heat and when just melted add the flour and mix until smooth. Carefully cook for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in the milk until very smooth and bring to a boil, whisking continuously. Cook for 10 minutes or until thickened (the sauce should coat the back of a spoon). Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

For the ricotta filling cook the spinach quickly in boiling water then rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process, drain very well and squeeze out water. Then chop finely. Place in a bowl with the ricotta, egg and grated cheese and mix all.

Finally, place a large tablespoon of ricotta filling on a crespella, fold in half, then in quarters and place, slightly overlapping in a greased oven proof dish. You can also roll up the crespelle. Spoon the besciamella sauce over the crespelle and serve.

Espresso Martini


  • 2 oz vodka (I like Tito’s)
  • 1/2 oz coffee liqueur
  • 1 oz espresso, freshly brewed
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • coffee beans


Add vodka, coffee liqueur, espresso and simple syrup to a shaker filled with ice and shake until well-chilled.

Strain into a chilled Martini glass. Optional: Garnish with 3 coffee beans