Best Ever Fresh Roasted Pumpkin Pie – No Evaporated Milk – Zero kilometer – we say that in Italy when its local

The only way is the BEST way in Italy I found out after making the best pumpkin pie in my life!

Roast about 2 pounds of fresh pumpkin wedges to get 2 cups of puree

…then add 2 large beaten eggs, 1/4 cup light cream or milk, 3/4 cup sugar, tbsp of flour,  1 tsp vanilla, spices of preference and Bam!  You just need to pour into the pie crust you already made.

I doubled the recipe to make them deep dish.    Here is the pie crust I used:…/old-fashioned-flaky-pie-dough-recipe 



1 pastry for single crust pie – 9 inch

2 eggs slightly beaten

2 cups pumpkin puree

1/4 cup cream, half & half or milk

1 tbsp flour

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves


To make puree :place  2-3 pounds of fresh pumpkin wedges on sheet pan  in 200 degree  oven for 25 minutes or until knife inserts easily into flesh – remove from oven, cool then peel skin and let drain in strainer of excess liquid for 30 min. or longer

Line a 9 inch pie pan with pastry, crimp edge as desired and chill until ready to fill

In large bowl stir together eggs, pumpkin and cream or milk.

Stir in sugar, flour, vanilla, salt and spices

pour mixture into prepared pie pan

To prevent over browning, cover edge of pie with foil

Bake in 375 oven for 25 minutes

remove foil

bake for 40 minutes more until a knife inserted near center comes out clean

cool on wire rack

cover and refrigerate within 2 hours





Which Olive Oil to Buy in the USA?

Here is new information regarding authentic olive oil to buy:

NAOOA Certified Olive Oils

NAOOA Certified Olive Oils

List of authentic olive oils bearing the NAOOA Quality Seal which is awarded to olive oils that are tested for purity and quality.

365 Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Spain
365 Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Greece
365 Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Spray)
365 Organic Mediterranean Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil
365 Unfiltered Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil
365 Unfiltered Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
365 100% Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
365 Mediterranean Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil
American Roland Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Athenos Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Carlini Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Carlini Olive Oil
Cibaria Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Classico Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Classico Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Colavita Premium Selection Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Filippo Berio 100% Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil Delicato
Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil Robusto
Filippo Berio Light-Tasting Olive Oil
Filippo Berio Olive Oil
Filippo Berio Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Goya Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Goya Unico Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Goya Olive Oil
Goya Light-Tasting Olive Oil
Iliada Extra Virgin Olive Oil
La Tourangelle Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil Robust
Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil Smooth
Pompeian Classic Olive Oil
Pompeian Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pompeian Light-Tasting Olive Oil
Sclafani Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Simply Nature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sprouts Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sprouts Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sprouts Extra Virgin Olive Oil Arbequina
Sprouts Extra Virgin Olive Oil Cornicabra
Sprouts Extra Virgin Olive Oil Greek
Sprouts Extra Virgin Olive Oil Italian
Sprouts Extra Virgin Olive Oil Spanish
Sprouts Extra Virgin Olive Oil Tunisian
Star Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Whole Foods Market Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Sicily
Whole Foods Market Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Seville
Whole Foods Market Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Greece
Whole Foods Market Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Portugal
Zoe Extra Virgin Olive Oil

NAOOA Certified Quality Seal Program

Heart-healthy benefits and superior flavors have made olive oil a staple in many U.S. kitchens. But as with any premium product, there is a potential for imposters to mingle with the real thing. However there is an easy way for consumers to identify olive oil that delivers the quality they expect. The North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) offers a Certified Quality Seal Program as a way to recognize and promote olive oils that measure up to the industry’s standards of excellence.

It is a condition of NAOOA membership that all oil marketed by members must meet or exceed the International Olive Council (IOC) standard, so membership in the NAOOA is a de facto certification program. The NAOOA Certified Quality Seal Program steps up quality control another notch by submitting the Seal products for testing even more frequently and by including organoleptic analysis. One key difference with the NAOOA Certified Quality Seal and other programs is that brands participating in this program agree to have samples taken directly from the retail marketplace, in the same manner any consumer would purchase them.

To use the seal, a company must be an NAOOA member in good standing and the type of oil bearing the seal must be tested to ensure it meets or exceeds the IOC standard for olive oil. For more than fifty years, the IOC has been recognized as the worldwide quality-standard-setting body for the olive oil industry and its standard is the basis for the newly implemented USDA standard. An annual licensing fee for the Seal program allows the NAOOA to perform rigorous quality testing of each product at least twice per year.

The Certified Quality Seal Program demonstrates the NAOOA’s long-standing commitment to educate consumers about the benefits of olive oil and ensures the integrity of the product. It also lets product marketed by NAOOA members stand out from the competition, and with good reason. These companies have taken the initiative to lead the industry by voluntarily following standards that are far more stringent than what’s required by the U.S. government.


Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe & Garlic Toasted Bread Crumbs (Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa)



Broccoli rabe, or rapini, is a bitter green that comes into season in autumn. It is a member of the turnip family and you will find it at selected greengrocers in bundles of large leaves with broccoli-like flower heads opening into small yellow flowers.   It’s earthy and rustic – a peasant-style Puglia dish to get you through the day.  In Puglia the main meal is lunch at around 1:30. Stores close at 1.  After lunch  they take a nap (penneca) since nothing is open anyway again until 6pm.  Carmen who does my nails at her home always asks what i made for lunch and we talk about food. She gave me her way of doing this classic Puglia dish and went home and made it as it sounded so good!


  • 400g cime di rapa or 1 pound
  • 200g pasta of your choice (the tradition is orecchiette)  I go veggie heavy and pasta light and make up for it all with the fresh pressed olive oil I helped produce.
  • Olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • half cup fresh bread crumbs – at the bread counter in Italy (i make crumbs out of stale bread and keep in freezer)
  • 4 anchovies (optional but they make the flavor jump!)
  • Pinch dried chilli flakes or preferably a whole dry chili broken in half and tossed in
  • Parmesan, grated, to serve
  • Salt & pepper


  1. Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Wash the Cime di Rapa well, slice the lower part of the stalks into 2-3 cm pieces, keep the leafy tops whole. Drop the greens into the water.  You will add the pasta to the same pot when the Cime is almost done and a knife slices easily through it
  2. Meanwhile gently heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan (must be big enough for the finished dish) and slowly cook the garlic until fragrant but not burning.  Add the bread crumbs and dried chilli, cook gently for 2 minutes until the crumbs are toasted and golden. Cut the heat and save for later
  3. Drain the pasta and greens together when the pasta is still al dente (it will keep cooking as you finish) keeping a cup of the water for later in case it’s too dry.  Dump the drained mixture into the  bread crumb pan, add the anchovies if using and stir it all together fast while on medium heat adding some of the pasta water if needed and drizzle of good olive oil. Serve piled into shallow bowls and finish with plenty of grated Parmesan and more good olive oil.  I love fresh cracked black pepper on everything but in Italy you don’t put chilli peppers and black pepper together ever! But in the end I do what I want and like.

Pasta Calamarata with Mussels and Shrimp with Butter Garlic Sauce

20170908_133446This pasta is called Calamarata because it looks like  rings of calamari doesn’t it?

It’s very simple to make. It’s deliciousness depends on good, fresh ingredients and not ruining them.  I bought the pasta fresh from the refrigerator section in my corner store here in Manfredonia but you can use penne, rigatoni or spaghetti for this. One rule of thumb here in Puglia is for white sauces use smooth pasta, for red sauce you can have ridges that grab the sauce better. This is especially true with Carbonara or Cacio e Pepe.


1 pound pasta – calamarata or penne, rigatoni, spaghetti                                                             1 cup dry white wine                                                                                                                           1 pound fresh mussels – rinsed with fur pulled out – discard any already open mussels 1pound fresh shrimp – preferably with shells , head and tail which adds so much flavor!1 1 white or yellow onion- chopped in 1/2 inch pieces                                                                    3 cloves garlic minced                                                                                                                        3 T unsalted butter                                                                                                                                handful of Italian parsley chopped  or use whole arugula leaves which I did since my husband doesn’t like parsley- and no chopping required

Make It

  • Saute’ butter in large pan  while water boils for the pasta.
  • Wait to boil the pasta until you are 10 minutes from eating –  add a generous handful of salt before throwing the pasta in. (the pasta water should taste salted and flavorful)
  • cook pasta until al dente – as it keeps cooking after you remove from heat
  • drain pasta reserving a cup of pasta water in case the finished dish is too dry.
  • Put the pasta back in the empty pot with a little butter and stir it around – leave it until you are ready to assemble it all
  • When butter is sizzling add the onions and garlic  and cook for a couple minutes on medium heat until transparent.
  • Add the shrimp and toss around in the pan until they are pink, then add all the wine and cook until it evaporates.
  • Add the mussels, cover the pot for about 3 minutes until the mussels open

Put it all together

  • Heat up the pasta on medium for  30 seconds, add the shrimp and mussels stirring for a couple minutes until the pasta absorbs the sauce.  Add the pasta water if it seems too dry.
  • Lastly throw on the parsley or arugula and Mangia!











Octopus the gem food of Puglia


The key to tender Octopus (vs. chewy and tough) is the capture and storage of it. On the coast of Puglia it’s common to see men wacking their specimens on the rocks to tenderize the meat which is the most reliable method. We can’t expect that at the fish market though so the next best thing is to freeze for at least 24 hours to break down the fibers. It’s the only fish I recommend freezing! My husband, spearfishing for fun brings home the freshest of seafood so anything less than fresh is an acceptable in our home.

Octopus must be cleaned, so you may want to ask your fish monger to do it if you’re not into digging around a slimy sea creature. It’s not hard. Just hold the head under running water remove and discard the ink sac, stomach, and eyes. Then use a sharp knife to cut out the beak, which is at the bottom of the head

There are many recipes for boiling and braising octopus, but I usually put it in a pot and cover it with water and a cup of white wine. I add some peppercorns, lemon, and three or 4 cloves of garlic, and then let the mixture slowly simmer. I may throw in a wine cork bit I’m not convinced it does anything but it is an italian wives tale that is suppossed to reultbin tender meat. You can tell when the octopus is tender by piercing it with a sharp knife: if tender, the knife should go in very easily. Cooking times vary depending on the size of the octopus and whether if was frozen, but it usually needs 45 to 90 minutes to become sufficiently tender. The addition of the wine cork is a bit controversial—advocates, like Mario Batali, claim it contains and enzyme that helps tenderize the octopus while it cooks. Since its so easy to add, I often toss it in. Harold McGee offers some contrary evidence.

I love eating it straight out of the pot even a room temperature with a drizzle of evoo, sea salt and a grind of pepper.

It’s also delicious thrown on a grill for 2 minutes to get a smokey, grilled flavor with yummy charred bits to boot. Wood fire is preferred but gas grill works as well.