the dish that makes me channel Carmela Soprano


recipe first. that’s the rule.

SAUSAGE, POTATOES, & PEPPERS (I call this an Italian-inspired Sunday dinner meal, you got a problem with that?)

12 sausage links (I used True Story chicken, got them at Costco)

12-15 waxy red bliss or yukon gold potatoes, sliced

1/2 jar sliced peperoncini with bottle juice (I use Jeff’s Naturals)

1-2 evoo, or coconut oil, your choice

1/2 red onion, sliced thin

1 tsp dried oregano

all purpose seasoning, I love FlavorGod Everything)

dash paprika

salt & pepper to taste


I don’t have a life like Carmela Soprano did. I couldn’t ride out The Sopranos until the end. I listened to the conspiracy theorists about the series final episode for fun.

Aside from Tony singing Steely Dan‘s “Dirty Work” in his car with a monotonous “oh yeah…”, Carmela in the kitchen was my favorite part of the show.

If I were Italian, I told myself (and thanks to the DNA tests, turns out I am 13%, I KNEW IT!!!), I would have some kind of claim over the food that is my favorite, the cuisine I most love to cook, the history I get lost in, and the country/destination #1 on my list. Positano. Then Florence. Those museums and architecture, before I die.

For years on Sunday nights, I watched The Sopranos to see what Carmela was cooking.  I love how Uncle Jun knew someone else (Janis?) was trying to pass Carmela’s lasagna off as hers. Meadow cracked me up when she scoffed at her mom for blaming Tony’s vomiting on Indian food. I could go on and on.

Well, I’ll tell ya, thanks to the decade of the 90s, and I mean the explosion of food and cooking networks and shows, and shows like The Sopranos, I learned how to glean the basics from a recipe: proteins, starches, acids, lipids….and get creative on my own, departing from recipes.

I no longer use a recipe for lasagna (and because of Carmela, I use Italian sausage). I make my own bolognese, sometimes doing an all-day sauce like Livia (a strange bird, Livia).

And now that I know I’m Italian, do I ever pull a Rita Moreno and say “Please! I’m Italian!” like in that other movie (The Four Seasons, my husband HATES it, I love it). Yes, I do. Can I do my own scratch sauce, a quick version, a healthy version, an all-day Sunday gravy version? Can I cook it for 2, and up to 75? You bet your a** I can.

Because I’m Italian. Even if it’s just a drop, come on, that drop. It’s Italian.

And I’m a sponge when it comes to food tips, finding foodies, pulling knowledge from even the most old-school, “not-sharing-my-secrets” cook.

If you remember HBO years ago like me, there was carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City at 8pm, saying she skipped meals to buy Vogue because she felt it fed her more.  Then you had The Sopranos at 9pm, when Tony was getting a steak thrown at him by a jilted lover.

I looked forward to 9pm more.

My life isn’t like Carmela Sopranos was. And yeah I’m aware it wasn’t real life.

But when I get to Positano, and I’m eating shrimp by the seaside with my Greek guy just like Marisa Tomei in Only You, I will say “You like shrimp? I like shrimp!” and then tell me that a movie isn’t real life. Go ahead.  Tell me.

I’ll find you in a diner while you’re eating onion rings.



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