Apple Crisp

In Italy, the traditional baked fruit-based dessert is called a crostata.  Although I love a crostata made with seasonal fruit for either dessert or breakfast, the “fruit crisp” that I discovered here is just as delicious and easier to make. 

Fruit crisps are very similar to fruit crumbles, except that the crisps contain oats, making it a perfect breakfast food for me and my family.  I like this dish for dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.  You can also serve it with a dollop of plain yogurt for breakfast.

Servings: 6-8


Fruit base:

  • 6 Granny Smith apples, or 4 apples and 2 peaches (see note*)
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider

Crisp topping:

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup oats
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup cold salted butter, cut into pieces (you can also use unsalted butter and add a pinch of salt instead)
  • 4 teaspoons of maple quinoa granola (or substitute 3 tablespoons of regular granola and one tablespoon of maple syrup)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. Peel, halve and core the apples, then slice them into ¼-inch slices.  Place in a 10 ½ x 7 inch baking dish or 6-8 individual ramekins.
  3. In a medium-size bowl, mix the ingredients for the crisp with your hands so the pieces of butter are incorporated well.  
  4. Break the mixture into small chunks and evenly distribute over the fruit.
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until bubbly and golden brown.  
  6.  Serve warm, or refrigerate overnight for a delicious breakfast treat.

*Note: You can also use Braeburn, Cortland or Jonagold apples when in season.  Adjusting the quantity to 4 apples and 2 peaches works well in the late summer months.

Potato and Herb Frittata

Italians are not known for eating large breakfasts. They might start their day with an espresso or cappuccino with a simple pastry, toast or cookie.  The frittata, an egg-based Italian dish similar to an omelette, is typically eaten for lunch, dinner, or as a snack.  At my house, we typically eat it as a weekend brunch or lunch. 

My children like their scrambled eggs loose and fluffy, so making a cheesy, creamy frittata that is not too “eggy” is how I get them all to enjoy it.  (I also keep it light on the vegetables, and often make it with potatoes, scallions, and just a few herbs instead).  Frittatas keep well, so you can also use them as sandwich fillings or serve them with a simple green salad. 

Servings: 8


  • 12 eggs, whisked just until the egg yolks and whites are blended
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream or half and half
  • 3 cups cooked potatoes, sliced (you can also mix in some seasoned vegetables with your potatoes – just adjust the amount so that the total equals 3 cups)
  • ½ cup of chopped scallions (include the green part)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) grated, shredded, or crumbled cheese (my preference is Grana Padano, Parmigiano Reggiano, or sharp cheddar)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2-3 chives, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 leaves of fresh basil, chopped or torn for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Crack the eggs into a medium-size mixing bowl. Add your cream or half and half and the salt. Whisk just until the egg yolks and whites are blended.
  3. Whisk in all or half of the cheese (you can reserve the other half for topping the frittata before baking, if desired). Set the mixture aside.
  4. In a 12-inch cast iron skillet (or other oven-safe skillet), warm the olive oil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the potatoes and scallions and cook for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt, to taste.
  5. Whisk the eggs again and pour over the potatoes.  Using a spatula, distribute the mixture evenly across the pan.  If you chose to reserve some of the cheese, sprinkle the remainder on top of the frittata now.
  6. Cook for approximately 30-60 seconds until the outside of the frittata turns lighter in color and then transfer the frittata to the oven. 
  7. Bake for approximately 7-10 minutes, until the eggs are puffed and opaque, and the center of the frittata still shakes a little bit when you move the pan.  (Remember that a frittata continues to cook after it’s removed from the oven, so leaving it a little loose is important so you don’t have a dry frittata with the texture of a sponge.)
  8. Garnish with a few basil leaves, slice, and serve.

Note:  If your family likes vegetables in their frittatas, I like a zucchini, mozzarella and basil combination. Chives, bell pepper and basil also go well together.  For something a little less Italian, I like manchego with cilantro and chives.

Homemade Ricotta

I used to make house-made ricotta daily at Felidia, and sometimes would make it on weekends with my daughter at home.  I love it on toasted bread with some seasonal fruit for a late breakfast.  I also like to serve it as a snack before dinner, or I’ll add a dollop to certain pastas and soups for some added freshness. For the best results, use organic dairy.

Servings: Makes 2-3 cups


  • 2 quarts whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice.


  1. Line a large sieve with a double layer of damp cheesecloth. Set it over a bowl. 
  2. Add the dairy and salt to a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Slowly bring the mixture to a boil.  
  3. Add the lemon juice, and reduce the heat to the low.  Begin to stir your ricotta mixture gently for two minutes until the mixture begins to curdle.
  4. Remove from heat, and let the ricotta sit without stirring for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Pour the mixture through the cheesecloth, and let it drain for 30 minutes. The homemade ricotta is what you have left in the cheesecloth. 
  6. Chill until ready to use.

Note:  Homemade ricotta is delicious for breakfast, but I enjoy it anytime of day. Try adding a dollop of freshly made ricotta to a spicy tomato sauce or a spring vegetable soup for a little extra flavor and freshness.

Nutella Crepes

Servings: 6


For the crepes:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon or lime
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly + 2 tablespoons of cold butter for the pan

For the filling:

  • 12 tablespoons nutella
  • 1 tablespoon crushed hazelnuts (optional)
  • 1-2 scoops of vanilla ice cream


  1. Whisk together the eggs, flour, milk, salt, and lemon zest in a large bowl until well blended and smooth. Make sure there are no lumps from the flour.
  2. Drizzle in the melted butter and whisk until the batter has thickened. It should have the consistency of melted ice cream.
  3. Set a crepe pan or medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until it is hot.  Butter the pan with your cold butter and immediately ladle in a ½ cup of the batter. Tilt and swirl the pan so the batter coats the bottom, and set the pan on the burner.
  4. Lower the heat to medium, and cook the crepe for a little less than a minute, until the underside is lightly browned in a lacy pattern.  Flip it over with a spatula, and continue to let it cook for ½ minute or longer, until the second side is lightly browned, then remove it to a warm platter.  Keep in mind that sometimes the first crepe cooks a little bit unevenly or becomes too brown along the edges. It gets easier as you continue and temper the pan.
  5. Heat the empty pan briefly, then butter it again. Repeat the process and ladle in another 1/2 cup of the batter to make another crepe. Repeat the sequence, stacking up the finished crepes on the platter, until all the batter is used up.

To Serve:

Fill and serve the crepes as soon as possible, while they are fresh and warm. Take one crepe off the stack, and place it with its lacy-patterned side down.  Spoon a generous 2 tablespoons of nutella in the center of the pancake and spread it over the surface, leaving an inch-wide border.  If you want to “chef it up”, scatter a spoonful of chopped hazelnuts over the chocolate layer for some added texture. Then fold the round in half, hiding the filling, and fold again into a plump quarter-round.  Fill and fold all the crepes the same way. Serve each crepe with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream.  

Feel free to experiment with different fillings like fruit jams, melted chocolate or even a combination of peanut butter & jelly.