Polpo con patate (octopus with potatoes)


  • 1 whole octopus, the bigger the better. Realistically speaking, in the US the largest octopi that I have seen are about 1.8 lbs. A few years ago in Italy I was able to secure a 5lbs octopus. A beast!
  • 50% by weight of Yukon gold potatoes. So for a 1.8 lbs of octopus get 3/4 lbs of potatoes.
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley, the bigger the better.
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic.
  • 1/2 cup of exgtra virgin olive oil.
  • 2 bay leaves, preferably fresh, but dry would do too.
  • 1/2 cup of red wine vinegar.
  • 1 tbls of salt.
  • 1/2 lemon.

Preparation (octopus):

Clean and rinse the octopus.

Fill a large pot with water, add the bay leaves and the vinegar.

Bring it to a boil.

With the water boling, immerse and lift the octopus 3 times, so that the tentacles become curly. Then leave the octopus in the boling water, covered.

Time: 20 minutes per each lbs of weight, so for a 1.8 lbs octopus let it simmer for 36 minutes.

Once the cooking time has elapsed, turn off the heat, and let the octopus rest for 1 hour.

After that, remove it from the pot, and let it rest on a plate for at least 15-20 minutes.

Preparation (potatoes):

At the same you’re cooking the octopus prepare the potatoes.

Scrub the potatoes, dice the in 1″ cubes.

In a pot with plenty of water and salt, let it come to a boit, and then simmer for 10-15 minutes (check for doneness).

Preparation (parsley pesto):

Wash the parley, and separate the leaves from the stalks. Discard the stalks.

Peelmthe garlic.

Cut the parsley and the garlic with a chef knive on a cutting board, it needs to be coarse and not too fine.

Preparation (final assembly):

In a large seving bowsl, cut the octopus legsinto 1″ long piece.

Add the potatoes, the pesto, and the olive oil and the lemon juice.
Mix it gently.

Serve warm, room temperature, or cold.

Enjoy with slices of good quality crusty bread.

Ragù bianco

Ragù bianco

A variation on the classic Ragù alla Bolognese, ragù bianco is a noble classic of Italian Cuisine that everyone should experience making and sharing with friends.


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 8 oz pancetta, diced
  • 75 grams of carrots, coarsely minced
  • 75 grams of red onion, minced
  • 75 grams of celery, minced
  • 100 ml of dry white wine
  • 3 tbl extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-5 cups of quality (homemade) beef stock, nothing from a can or cardboard, please.
  • 2 springs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or flour


Have the beef stock simmering in a pot.

In a large non-stick skillet, saute the carrots, onions, and celery in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes.

Add the ground beef and the pancetta, and sear it stirring continuously until it’s thoroughly browned.

Add the wine, and continue stirring, until the wine has evaporated completely.

Add the beef stock and cook for 3 hours, covered. Check every 30 minutes or so, adding more stock if needed.

Add salt to taste, but it should be pretty much OK as is since the beef stock will give the ragù enough flavor.

In the end, cook uncovered to make sure the ragù bianco is creamy and not too runny.

Enjoy over good quality pasta, preferably fresh pasta, or filled pasta like tortelloni or agnollotti.



  • 3 pounds fresh ricotta
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup grated zwieback or biscotti
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream or mascarpone, optional
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Your choice of additional flavorings like 1 teaspoon Dutch-process cocoa powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water, or 1/4 cup chopped citron or 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest and 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, etc.


Place the ricotta in a sieve over a bowl and let drain for 1 hour. Butter the bottom, sides and rim of a 3-inch-by-10-inch leakproof springform or plain round cake pan. Mix the grated zwieback crumbs with 1 teaspoon sugar and coat the pan.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the ricotta in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at low speed until smooth. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, until smooth. Beat in the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar. Continue to beat until mixture is very smooth. Beat in the optional cream or mascarpone, vanilla and any desired flavoring. Pour into the pan and smooth the top.

Place the pan inside a roasting pan whose sides are not higher than the cake pan and add warm water to the larger pan to within 1 inch of the top of the smaller pan. Place pans in the oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours, covering the top loosely with foil after 30 minutes. Remove and let cool to room temperature in the water bath. Lift pan out, dry it and remove the foil. Refrigerate overnight, and it will firm up.

To unmold, slide a thin knife around the cake edges. Release the sides of the springform pan. If using a plain cake pan, invert onto a large plate covered with plastic wrap, tap the bottom and the cake should slide out. (If it does not, soak a towel in hot water, wring it out and place it over the bottom and sides of the pan for 10 seconds.) Reinvert cake onto a platter. Refrigerate until serving.

Makes 12 servings.


Photography by Stuart Spivak