Big Phil’s Birthday and the In-laws’ Anniversary Sunday Suppa Celebration

I taking a different tack with my blog and be less about recipes.  I’d like to share more about the Calandrino family and what’s cooking at Casa di Calandrino.  Of course, if I create something original and stellar, I’ll be sure to share too!

Nearly everyone knows that I host Sunday suppa nearly every week for my in-laws.  It’s a wonderful time for us to catch up since my in-laws run their own business and my husband and I both have our own businesses too.  Needless to say, we don’t have much time to communicate for more than a minute or two here or there during the week.

Several years ago, we had the in-laws over for supper on Sunday. Then, we met again the following week and the week after that.  Soon we realized that we usually don’t have a gala or dinner date or anything else usually going on Sunday nights so we made it a standing date. Unless we are out of town or there’s an overwhelming reason to skip, we meet to share food and love.  I really look forward to it.

Sometimes, I make something as simple as a taco bar or a stew.  There are weeks too when we are all exhausted and we will pick up a rotissarie chicken to take to the in laws’ house instead of them coming over here.  On other weeks, I feel like a domestic diva fired up to experiment and make something fancy.  This is one of those weeks!

For this week’s Sunday suppa, we are celebrating my father-in-law’s birthday and my in-laws’ wedding anniversary!  Also, my little brother Allen is in town from Vermont.  I decided to fuse my husband’s family’s Italian roots and make the old Calandrino family canoli recipe for the sweet treat along with an American styled meal.

Our protein will be Wild Salmon with Almond Butter, Caramelized Pears, and Radicchio Marmalade.  This is from the “The Ravenous Pig: Seasons of Florida” cookbook by the owners James and Julie Petrakis.  They are local celebrity chefs with two successful farm to table restaurants – Cask & Larder and The Ravenous Pig.  The latter was their first local restaurant.  If live in Orlando or ever come to visit, you have to try at least one.  Both if you can!

I’m going to serve with my Meme’s Mashed Potatoes and GQ’s Broccoli Fritto.  For the birthday dessert, I’m making the Calandrino family recipe.

Early 1900's recipe
Early 1900’s recipe

A couple words of advice with the recipes.  For the main dish, I buy my wild salmon from Costco and it’s pre-cut and thaws quickly.  I keep it on hand at all time.  I’m also using packaged almond butter because I have it and like to use what I have.  For the broccoli recipe, I usually make my own mayonnaise because it’s super easy.  In fact, I have shared how I make mayonnaise on this blog before so check it out.

Tonight’s recipes are at the very end of the blog post.

Fast forward, it’s 9:33 p.m. and I’ve cleaned up all the dishes.  I began drafting this blog entry around 1:00 p.m. during my preliminary planning.  Well…my plan didn’t quite come to fruition.

I didn’t get to try The Ravenous Pig salmon dish, because:

1. I lost the currants I had purchased (I’m still bewildered as to where they can be….);

2. The canoli was not cooperating as some of the measurements were not spot on; and

Canoli preparation
Canoli preparation

3. My whippet puppy Duke went bonkers and my husband wasn’t home to help contain his excitement.


Isn’t he cute?

Instead of the fancy restaurant recipe, I just did a little Old Bay, salt, and garlic powder seasoning with olive oil drizzle seared in a skillet.  We also used the jalapeno aioli on the salmon too because it’s so TASTY.

Here’s everyone enjoying dessert (L to R – me, my brother Allen, my mother-in-law Jo Ann, and my father-in-law Phil a/k/a Big Phil).  In the end, the in-laws and my brother didn’t know that I didn’t make the protein I intended.  Remember to breath and go with the flow and adapt when you’re hosting.  It’s about getting together and enjoying each others’ company.  The food is always secondary.


Today’s blog was an experiment and I hope to keep this “flavor” moving foward.  I’m going to share a little bit about what’s going on and/or background of the recipes, some pictures of my preparations and the meal, and the recipes.  If you could share your feedback and let me know what you think, I’d really appreciate it.  Have a great week everyone!

Wild Salmon with Almond Butter, Caramelized Pears, and Radicchio Marmalade

The Ravenous Pig: Seasons of Florida by James and Julie Petrakis – pages 214 – 215 and page 234

Almond Butter

1 1/3 cups blanched almonds

2 cups hot water

Coarse salt, to taste

Radicchio Marmalade

1 tablesppon coriander seeds, toasted

1/2-inch-length fresh gingerroot, peeled

3 springs thyme

2 heads radicchio, diced small, about 6 cups

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

Caramelized Pears

2 Warren pears, cored and cut into 12 wedges

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup St. Germain elderflower liquer

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Coarse salt, to taste


6 (6-ounce) wild salmon fillets, skin on

Coarse salt

Canola oil

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 garlic cloves, smashed

2 springs thyme

2 fresh bay leaves

1/2 cup Currant-Citrus Gastrique (see recipe after the instructions for the preparation of these components)

Make Almond Butter

1. Steep almonds in hot water for 1 hour.  Drain and reserve water.

2. Puree almonds in a blender for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down sides of blender and adding enough reserved water – about 1/2 cup – to make a smooth paste.  Season with salt.

3. Push through a food mill or tamis.  Set aside.

Make radicchio marmalade

1. Place coriander, ginger, and thme in cheesecloth and tie tightly to make a sachet.

2. Combine the herb sachet, radicchio, sugar, and vinegar in saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until radicchio begins to soften, about 10 minutes.

3. Reduce heat to low and cook until radicchio is soft, about 15 minutes more. Remove from heat.

Make caramelized pears

1. Toss pear wedges in sugar to coat.

2. Cook sugared pears over medium heat in a saute pan, turning to evenly carmelize sugar, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in liquer and bring back to a simmer; stir in butter.  Season with salt.

4. Remove pear wedges and keep warm.  Strain caramel through a fine-mesh strainer and keep warm.

Make Salmon

1. Season fish with salt.  Heat canola oil in a large saute pan over high heat until it begins to smoke.  Add fish to pan, skin side down.  Do not overcrowd.

2. Push fish down gently with your fingers or a spatula to make sure skin evenly sears.  Turn heat to medium so skin doesn’t burn.

3. When salmon is halfway cooked, about 5 minutes, add butter, garlic, and herbs and baste salmon until cooked through.

4. Drain, skin side up, on paper towls.


1. Use a tablespoon to make a swoosh of almond butter on each serving plate.

2. Add 2 tablespoons of warm radicchio marmalade at the top of swoosh. Center 2 warm pear wedges on the swoosh and plate salmon on top, skin skide up.

3. Drizzle warm gastrique around salmon.

Currant-Citrus Gastrique (makes about 1 cup)

1/2 cup dried currants

Juice of 1 grapefruit

1/2 cup honey

Coarse salt, to taste

1. Soak currants in grapefruit juice in a small bowl at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat honey in a heavy pot over low heat until it turns dark amber, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in currants and juice.

3. Return to low heat and reduce until liquid evenly coats the back of a spoon, about 25 minutes.  Season with salt to taste.

Meme’s Mashed Potatoes


2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and quartered

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup milk

salt and pepper to taste

A pinch of sugar (this is Meme’s secret!!!)


1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes; drain.

2. Combine potatoes, milk, butter, salt, pepper, and sugar in your mixer or bowl and mash or whip until smooth and creamy.

Broccoli Fritto

2 heads broccoli
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped pickled hot peppers (like jalapeño)
2 Tbsp. liquid from pepper
Black pepper
Canola oil (for frying)
1 3/4 cups rice flour
1 1/2 cups ice water
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


1. Clean and trim the broccoli into florets no bigger than 1 inch wide.

2. For the aioli: Blend the mayonnaise with the peppers and liquid. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

3. Heat 4 inches of canola oil in a 3-quart saucepan to 360 degrees, or until a drop of water sizzles on the surface.

4. Mix the flour and water in a bowl until just combined; a few lumps are okay. That’s your tempura batter.

5. Coat the broccoli florets with the batter, then set (not drop) them into the oil. Don’t let them stick to one another. Fry for 2 minutes, until the batter is crispy. Drain the florets on a towel and hit ’em with salt (as much as you would french fries).

6. Place the broccoli on a platter, then top with—in this order—the aioli, the basil, and the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Eat.


I used a recipe from the early 1900’s which didn’t have exact measurements so this is still a work in progress.  I will share the recipe once I perfect it.  I promise because the shells came out great, but the filling wasn’t quite the right consistency.

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