I Did It My Way! Veal Sinatra Inspired By Locanda Rustica

I Did It My Way! Veal Sinatra Inspired By Locanda Rustica

Tonight’s dish is inspired by a local Tequesta/Jupiter hangout where everyone knows your name and the Chicken Sinatra SINGS!  Make veal in marsala wine sauce, MY WAY! Click to skip to the recipe

pumpin swordfish chowder

Everyone has a favorite neighborhood restaurant. And every favorite neighborhood restaurant has a specialty dish.

We have one such restaurant in our neighborhood. The name is Locanda Rustica and it holds court among other small eateries in a strip center on the main drag in Jupiter, FL.

This is the kind of place that sees repeat customers on repeat days. If it’s Wednesday, and the Coleman’s don’t appear at their established time, there will be an inquiry from the owner as to where they were, when they show up the next week.

Patrons are known by their first name, and their drink order is served before it’s ordered. Guest of these patrons are introduced to staff as if they were meeting their family. Before the bread is served, the specialties are announced.

It’s at this moment that you realize you just hit the jackpot of weeknight dining!

This week’s specialty dish was Chicken Sinatra and let me tell you, Frank would be Flying to the Moon over this one.

He would toss Three Coins in the Fountain to get seconds.

He would have High Hopes to know that It Was A Very Good Life that included Chicken Sinatra.

There are no Strangers in the Night when it comes to this dish and you don’t have to be in New York, New York to eat it. 

Spinach, prosciutto, and cheese are sandwiched between two thin chicken cutlets. Then they are battered and sauteed. Two people at our table ordered this special, and I took a bite out of each! I was still left wanting.

You could say that I Got Chicken Sinatra Under My Skin. That’s why two nights later, I found myself creating a dish using it as my inspiration.

I had veal instead of chicken, salami instead of prosciutto, and fresh sage leaves instead of spinach. I added my mother-in-law’s Masala wine sauce. It was delish! I did it MY WAY!

The next time you are in your favorite eatery, I hope you get inspired by a weeknight special dish. After all, That’s Life!!

Veal Sinatra
In Marsala Wine Sauce

Serves: 2

Time:  30 minutes ’til it’s ready


4 thin slices veal cutlet, about 3 to 4 ounces

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

4 thin slices of Swiss cheese

Two thin slices of salami, cut in half

 6 to 8 sage leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water

1 cup all-purpose flour

For sauce:

1 large shallot, peeled and finely diced

1-pint white mushrooms, sliced

1 cup Marsala wine

1 cup beef broth

2 tablespoons butter

Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra

Place the veal slices between two pieces of parchment paper. Use a meat mallet to pound the veal to about ¼-inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper. Layer 2 slices of veal with cheese, followed by salami and sage. Top with the remaining veal slices forming two veal sandwiches!

Place the flour into a shallow bowl. Whisk the egg with the water. Dredge one veal sandwich into the four, coating both sides. Gently shake of excess flour and then dip into the egg, again coating both sides. Shake off the excess egg and dredge once more into the flour. Place the coated veal onto a plate and repeat with the second sandwich. 

Heat 2 tablespoons of both olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter is bubbling add the veal. Cook until golden brown on one side, about2 to 3 minutes. Carefully turn and cook until golden on the other side, another few minutes. Transfer to a platter. 

Add the shallot and mushrooms to the skillet. Cook until the shallot pieces are soft, and the mushrooms are golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Fall Means Casserole Season: Moussaka Casserole

Fall Means Casserole Season: Moussaka Casserole

It’s casserole season, and I’m upping my game! When crimson leaves begin to Fall, my thoughts turn to cheese, and with this casserole, anything goes.

Click to skip to the recipe




It’s Casserole Season!

And I’m upping my game! When cooler breezes flurry and crimson leaves begin to fall from the trees my thoughts turn to….cheese.

Yup, cheese.

Why is it that cool weather gives you permission to eat melty cheesy things? It’s like a right of passage.

You turn your nose up to a melty, crisp, gooey grilled cheese sammich in June, but you’ll take that sammich and cram it with more and more cheese in October.

You’ll eat fresh broccoli bathed in only lemon juice and pepper in July, but come November that broccoli is smothered in cheese sauce and topped with butter cracker crumbs.

No shocker….This is how it should be! 

Garden fresh veggies tossed in olive oil and garlic, served over thin pasta noodles is a perfect summer supper, while December suppers by the fire require a cheese-filled pasta side dish or better yet a must-have cheese-stuffed casserole. Fall is like a cheese pass aboard the all-seasons train!

Well, fans, I have one for you.

I dug this out of my Fresh Traditions cookbook. I must admit that I hadn’t made this in quite a while.

I came across ground lamb in the butcher section of the grocery store and it hit the old casserole nerve.

Moussaka is a combination of eggplant, a rich lamb ragù, and a cheesy topping.

The best part is that you can prepare this in advance when you have time (and the inclination strikes) and bake it when the need arises.

I’ll be adding a few of my favorite cheesy casseroles over the next few weeks. Why not…Fall just got here!!

Moussaka Casserole

Think lasagna with eggplant instead of pasta, lamb in place of beef, and you have the essence of this Greek-inspired dish. Feel free to add your favorite veggies to the sauce. With this casserole, anything goes.


For eggplant:

3 large eggplants, peeled and sliced into ½-inch thick lengths

1 teaspoon kosher salt 

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

½ cup olive oil

2 large cloves garlic, minced, about 2 tablespoons

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried cumin

For lamb ragù:

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 large yellow onion, diced into ½-inch squares (about 1 cup)

2 large carrots, diced (about 1 cup)

2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)

2 pounds lean ground lamb

1 cup red wine

1 (16-ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 cinnamon stick

For béchamel topping:

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups milk

1 cup ricotta cheese

4 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese (about ½ cup)

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Makes: 6 to 8

Time: 45-minute cuisine plus baking for 15 minutes.

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Preheat the oven to 425°. Season the eggplants with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Place into a colander for 30 minutes to exude excess moisture. Stir together ½ cup olive oil, garlic, oregano, and cumin. Brush both sides of the eggplant with the seasoned olive oil. Place onto a baking sheet and roast until the slices are tender and golden, about 30 minutes. The slices can overlap. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°.

Heat 2 more tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet.  Cook the onion and carrots until soft and golden, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the lamb to the pan.  Cook, breaking up the meat with a spatula until browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.  

Stir in the wine, tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, and cinnamon stick.  Simmer the ragù for 15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove the cinnamon stick.

Heat the butter in a deep pot over medium high heat.  Whisk in the flour.  Cook until golden and bubbling, about 2 to 4 minutes.  Pour in the milk.  Cook, stirring constantly until the sauce is thickened, about 6 to 8 minutes.  Stir in the ricotta and Parmesan cheeses.  Season with ground nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Assemble the casserole by placing a layer of eggplant slices in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.  Top with half of lamb ragù.  Add another layer of eggplant and another layer of lamb.  Finish with a layer of eggplant.  Top the casserole with béchamel sauce.  Bake until the casserole is bubbly, and the top is golden, about 30 to 40 minutes.  Allow the casserole to sit for 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh mint.

Warm Up with a Spicy Indian Dish Tonight

Warm Up with a Spicy Indian Dish Tonight

Another fabulous Christmas dinner is spicy lamb, made the way they love it in India. My recipe features a lamb tenderloin – the center portion cut from the rack of lamb. With the Christmas countdown at 13 days, I say you cheat a little and make this dinner partly take-out.

You can purchase lamb from your local butcher, from specialty markets like The Fresh Market and online. If you are unable to find lamb loins, substitute with a whole rack of lamb. Season the rack with salt and pepper. Grill or broil the lamb for 12 to 15 minutes per rack. Rest the lamb for 5 minutes. Cut the lamb into double chops, and serve over a spicy Indian spinach sauce. So far as sauces go, this is one of my favorites! Mostly because it’s so versatile. This rich, spicy spinach sauce works great on chicken or pork…. So, don’t fret. It’s all about Christmas!!

The only thing you need to worry about is having enough bread on hand to dip into the saag, the spicy spinach sauce this meal revolves around. I think spinach is the perfect accompaniment for lamb; the two served together is sure to be a Sunday favorite, if you don’t get a chance to debut it sooner.

And speaking of acting fast….no Christmas is complete without a personalized copy of SUNDAY BEST DISHES: A COOKBOOK FOR PASSIONATE COOKS. Email me your address at jorj@jorj.com and I’ll sail my glossy, beautiful cookbook right over, with a cute bookplate made out just for you!

Spicy Lamb Saag



2 pounds fresh baby spinach

1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

6 cloves garlic, peeled

1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and deveined

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, peeled and finely diced, about 2 cups

1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

Use a microwave steam dish, or a steamer basket over boiling water to steam the spinach (in batches). Drain in a colander.

Place the ginger, jalapeno pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine.

Melt the butter and olive oil in a deep pot over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook until it begins to caramelize, about 8 to 10 minutes (note: not sure if it takes that long to turn brown). Add the ginger and spices and cook for 2 minutes more. Pour in the tomatoes and cook until most of the moisture begins to evaporate, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and garam masala. Cook until the spinach is warmed through, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low and stir in the yogurt. Stir until the sauce thickens.



1 (2.5 to 3-pound) package lamb tenderloins

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the loins to the pan and sear on all sides until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes total. The lamb should be quite rare in the center. Let the lamb rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes. Cut into 2-inch diagonal slices and add to the sauce. Add the butter to the sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Traditional accompaniments for Saag are naan (Indian flatbread) and rice.







A Glamorous Christmas Dinner…Veal Chops Milanese

A Glamorous Christmas Dinner…Veal Chops Milanese

It’s HOLIDAY PARTY time! Invite your besties over for an intimate holiday dinner party. My recipe for Veal Chop Milanese with Baby Broccoli yields four nice, big portions and is ideal when gathering your nearest and dearest to toast the holiday season! The recipe is an Italian classic, and pairs well with red wine. Think Cabernet Sauvignon and subtlety sweet Merlot, and plan on sparing a bottle per every two guests.

An intimate Christmas dinner by a roaring fire, or under the glow of a candelabra should hit all the right sweet, subtle notes, and that’s why this DISH OF THE DAY features baby broccoli as its side.

In case you’re wondering what Baby broccoli looks like, it’s in season now through early spring; it’s different than standard broccoli in that it has a mild, peppery and subtlety sweet taste. The entire plant is edible. Remember that baby broccoli, sautéed with a bit of garlic and lemon, is always an elegant and welcome side dish. SUNDAY BEST runneth over with festive dishes like these.

If you want 2018 to be elegant and gourmet year, order SUNDAY BEST DISHES for the foodie on your Christmas list! Nothing will delight me more than getting a hand cramp, personalizing copies, so shoot me an email with your address. I’ve always believed truly great recipes make the season warm and bright, and that’s why I’m sharing them with you on this Christmas Countdown! Only 16 days left. Tick tock!

Veal Chops Milanese

with Baby Broccoli




4 veal rib chops, about ¾ pounds each, about 3-inches thick

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoon butter, room temperature

1 cup prepared Italian bread crumbs

2 or more large lemons

1 bunch baby broccoli, trimmed and blanched

Use a sharp knife to cut through the chops, splitting the veal into halves without detaching from the bone. Place the butterflied chops onto your work surface in between layers of plastic wrap. Use a meat mallet to pound the meat to ½-inch thickness. Season the chops with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Place the bread crumbs into a shallow bowl or plate. Lay the chops into the bread crumbs pushing down so that they adhere to the meat. Place the chops (one at a time depending on the size of your skillet) into the hot oil. Squeeze lemon juice onto each chop. Cook until the bottom is golden, about 5 minutes. Turn, sprinkle with additional juice and cook on the second side until golden, about 5 minutes more.

Toss the broccoli into the pan. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes.

Serve the stuffed veal chops on a platter with the broccoli draped on top.