Foreigners, Family and Friends

August 28 – September 3, 2017


Monday:              Guacamole / Grilled Flank Steak with Zucchini Salsa /
Ember-roasted sweet potatoes


Tuesday:              Escarole with Sausage Soup


Wednesday:      Tortiglioni with Trapanese Pesto


Thursday:            Moroccan Meatballs with Cucumber and Tomato, Lime Yogurt Sauce and Pita


Friday:                  Fish Milanese, Escarole with Cannellini


3 of the girls from Saturday dinner:  Hilda, Annie, Beez

Saturday:             JW Burgers + Turkey Burgers, Baked Beans, Cole Slaw
Apps:    Roasted Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce
Hilda’s Artichoke Dip
Annie’s Baked Brie Bites
Two Desserts:  Pastries from Bella Christie and Roquefort and Stilton with
walnuts, figs, raisins and Calvados

Toasted Cheese

Sunday:                Toasted Cheese Sandwiches

Do you invite foreigners to dinner?  We do, in the form of food from different national cuisines.  And this week we had a melting pot from Sicily (Trapanese Pesto), Morocco (Meatballs with Lime Yogurt Sauce), and Milan and, I suppose you could toss in Escarole with Sausage Soup, which ain’t exactly Betty Crocker.

But the highlight of our week – and it was a great week, so this was a serious highlight – was the gathering of family and friends at our house on Saturday night.  With Greg and the kids, Annie and Rick (just back from Nova Scotia), Tim and Hilda and our beloved former Pastor, Father Bob Duch, the beloved former Pastor of St. Scholastica parish, we had an undemanding crowd that knows where the bar is, rarely gets into fist fights and has never committed any property damage at Casa Stuarti (well, maybe Rick).  We are blessed to have such a group to hang out with and relax among.

Food, in such circumstances, is secondary, but still pretty important, and we had a fine week of cooking even before Saturday.  I’ve noted the “foreigners” on the roster, all of which we’ll share with you some day.  The Moroccan Meatballs will beat any gyro place you’ve been to.  The Fish Milanese is a great way to handle flounder (or Turbot).  But this week we’re going to share our third ‘foreigner’ with you –  Tortiglioni with Trapanese Pesto is one of the best pasta dishes you’ve ever had and easy to cook.  And perhaps you should know about my way of dealing with toasted sandwiches for those nights when there’s not much in the larder and you just don’t want to spend the time or the energy to cook – we’ll throw that in as an extra.

Aside on serendipity:  We discovered that Tim and Hilda are watching Blue Bloods on Netflix and just into the 2nd season, as are we, and that Tim reads Ian Rankin’s detective novels, as does Bill.  In this large and scary world, if you work at it, you’ll find some small and friendly places, like the Northeast of Pittsburgh and its suburbs – God bless and keep it that way.



(From Milk Street Magazine, July – August, 2017)

Tortiglioni (a sort of twisted rigatoni) is the perfect pasta for the kind of chunky sauce this recipe calls for.  Not only does the pasta get coated on the outside with this appetizing, light-red sauce, but bits of tomato and almond get inside the pasta as well.  You will begin using tortiglioni for lots of pasta dishes.


20 minutes at the most – You toast almonds, mix them with tomatoes, herbs and seasoning in a food processor, cook the pasta, mix with the sauce and serve.

 Ingredients:                                                       Serves 4

1 cup whole, skin-on almonds, toasted (you can use skinned almonds or slivered almonds, in a pinch)
1 pound grape or cherry tomatoes
1 cup lightly packed basil leaves
1 small clove of garlic, grated
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces short, sturdy pasta such as rigatoni (we used, and suggest, tortiglioni – a real find)
½ cup grated pecorino, plus more to serve


Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil

Toast almonds until fragrant

Make the Pesto:

Pulse the almonds in a food processor until coarsely chopped 6 or so pulses.  Transfer the nuts to a bowl.

Into the processor put the tomatoes, basil, garlic and pepper flakes and pulse 10 times.  Add the oil and pulse until incorporated – about 5 pulses.  Transfer the pest to a bowl large enough to hold the cooked pasta with room enough to toss vigorously.


Cook the past until al dente.

Reserve between ½ and 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Drain the pasta and put into the bowl with the pesto.

Add ¾ teaspoon each of coarse kosher salt and ground black pepper and toss well.  (Add some of the reserved cooking water if too thick).

Now toss in the reserved nuts and the grated cheese and toss.  Taste and correct seasonings.  Serve with extra grated cheese.

Toasted Cheese

EXTRA                                                   Toasted Cheese Sandwiches

 This recipe is even simpler than the pesto.  The basic idea is to use a good piece of bread (Whole Foods Sourdough would be great) and whatever you have by way of chicken or turkey or ham in the refrigerator (slice it thin) with a few slices of ripe tomato, some crisp bacon if you’d like, and enough good cheddar or other good-melting cheese (Fontina, Gouda, Swiss, etc.) to roast and/or broil an open-face sandwich.  This is the kind of sandwich you eat with a knife and fork.  The meat and bacon give you more protein and taste than you need, the tomato brings a wonderful juicy sweetness to the party and the cheese – well, if you don’t like toasted cheese, you are a new species of human.  Add a green salad and you have a satisfying – and quick dinner.  You can do this any way you want.  Here’s what we did the other night.

Roasted and Broiled Open-Face Bacon, Turkey, Tomato and Cheddar Sandwich

 Timing:                                                 12 minutes

Ingredients:                                       Feeds 2

2 slices of substantial bread (we used pre-sliced sourdough from Whole Foods)
4 slices of smoked turkey (Deli Counter at Giant Eagle)
6 slices of cheddar cheese (we shaved maybe 2 oz. of very sharp cheddar form a block)
4 thick slices of ripe beefsteak tomatoes (or enough slices of smaller ripe tomatoes to cover the bread)
4 slices of crisp-cooked bacon (the pepper bacon from Giant Eagle or Whole Foods works well)


Preheat oven to 425 F

Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil

Butter one side of the bread slices (to make sure it doesn’t stick to the aluminum foil) and place them, buttered side down, on the cookie sheet

Top each slice with 2 slices of bacon, then the turkey, then the tomato (sprinkle some flaky sea salt or kosher salt and some pepper on the tomato).

Now top each sandwich with the cheese

Place an oven rack about 6 inches from the top of the oven and place the cookie sheet on that rack.

Cook for about 5 minutes, then turn on your broiler element and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes.  YOU NEED TO KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE SANDWICH AT THIS POINT.  YOU WANT TO TOAST THE CHEESE, NOT INCINERATE IT.

Serve with a pickle and/or a green salad.

2 thoughts on “Foreigners, Family and Friends

  1. Proscitto will definitell work – I might even give it a bit of toast first. Toasted Cheese is perfect for a chilly night. As for answers – I’m willing to share about cooking for family and friends out of my limited knowledge

  2. It all looks delicious, Bill.  Might have to do the cheese, tomato, etc sandwiches tonight!

    Think you can put procuitto on the sandwich?  I have a few pieces.

    Maybe you should start an “Ask Bill” column; show what people ask and your responses.



    Katie McSorley President, Mid-Atlantic Havas PR

    m 1-724-413-6565 w a 925 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222



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