I love to cook. Here are some of my personal favorite recipes that I've picked up over the years.

Penne with Shitake and Prosciutto Cream Sauce

I owe my knowledge of this recipe, and really all of my pasta sauce recipes to the generosity of Angelo Belgrano. He was an Italian chef that I used to know when I lived in the Bay Area. At one time he stayed at my house for several months, during which time he imparted much culinary wisdom upon me. Thanks Angelo, where ever you are.


1/3 lb. penne (I like Barilla Plus)
1/2 cup of heavy cream
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of salt
1 shallot, sliced thin or diced
4-5 sprigs of italian parsley, destemmed and chopped fine
1/2 cup of shitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
3 oz. of fresh prosciutto (di Parma preferred), diced
1 oz. tomato paste


Fill a large pot with water, add the salt, bring to a boil. Add Penne to the water and cook until al dente. In a medium stainless steel frying pan heat the oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot add the prosciutto and shallots. Sautee for 2 minutes then add the mushrooms. Continue cooking for 2 more minutes. Toss or stir occasionally, but it's ok to have bits sticking to the pan. Reduce heat to medium and add the tomato paste and parsley. With a wooden spoon keep stirring the ingredients for about a 30 seconds, scraping the goodness off of the bottom of the pan. Then continue this as you add the cream. The cream will deglaze (get the goodness off the bottom of) the pan. Turn up the heat back to medium high. Reduce the cream, stirring occasionally, until thick (ie, by about half). Add the cooked penne to the pan and stir in over low heat, smothering the pasta in the sauce. Serve immediately.

Jerk Chicken #5

When I lived in New York City I used to play in a Jamaican restaurant called True Bliss. The chef there, Paul, got me hooked on his jerk sauce. Since then I've been trying to perfect my own jerk recipes. It has been my elusive white whale. My friends all love my jerk chicken. But it keeps changing as I hunt for Paul's secret. The recipe below is one of the variations I've tried recently. The big difference in this recipe compared to others I've tried is that you brine the chicken and you use buttermilk in the marinade. The result is well-seasoned, tender chicken.


6 chicken drumsticks
1/2 gallon of cold water
1/2 cup of canning or pickling salt
3/4 cup of fresh whole buttermilk
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp of cooking oil (any vegetable oil)
1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
1/2 cup of fresh thyme, leaves and stems, chopped
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp freshly ground Jamaican allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Scotch Bonnet or Habanero pepper, seeded and chopped fine
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper


Fill a large pot with the water, add the salt, stir until the salt has dissolved (pickling salt dissolves in cold water). Add the chicken to the cold, salty water, and keep it submerged with a plate. Cover and put the pot in the refrigerator for an hour. Meanwhile to prepare the marinade, use a small or medium-size food processor. Put the onion, scallions, thyme, sugar, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, hot pepper, and black pepper all into the food processor and chop well. Then add the buttermilk, soy sauce, and cooking oil and combine. Pour this, the marinade, into a bowl big enough to keep the chicken in too (a bowl is preferable to keep the chicken submerged in the marinade). After an hour has passed since you placed the chicken in the salt water, remove the chicken from the water. Rinse the chicken under cold water, pat dry, and submerge into marinade. After you have all the chicken in the marinade rub it to work some of the spices under the skin. Tightly cover the bowl and put in the refrigerator over night. The next day, preheat your grill to medium heat. Spray or brush a little cooking oil on the grill to prevent sticking. Grill the chicken, turning occasionally for about 25-30 minutes or until the internal temperature is over 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Serve immediately.

Revised June 26, 2009



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