When the family sits down to this harvest feast, no one will leave the table wanting. Clockwise, from foreground: pumpkin ravioli, roasted cauliflower, pumpkin harvest lasagna, organic baby lettuce and spinach salad and roasted Brussels sprouts.


Home-cooked meals steeped in tradition is
what Maria’s Italian Kitchen is all about

Madelyn Alfano looks back with nostalgia on the days when she and her four siblings worked alongside their parents, Donald and Maria, at their Brentwood market.

Organic Baby Lettuce and Spinach Salad

16 oz. mixed greens

3 oz. crispy pancetta

6 oz. blue cheese crumble

8 oz. white button mushrooms, sliced

6 oz. toffee walnuts

6 oz. balsamic vinaigrette

6 oz. dried cranberries

Combine all ingredients except the greens in a mixing bowl, tossing well. Place greens in a separate serving bowl.

Top with mixed ingredients.


Roasted Cauliflower

2 heads cauliflower

2 oz. extra virgin olive oil

2 pinches of kosher salt

2 pinches of black ground pepper

4 oz. lemon vinaigrette dressing*

2 oz. bread crumbs

1 lemon for lemon zest

Remove leaves from cauliflower, wash. Cut cauliflower into 1 oz. florets. Place in a mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add salt, pepper and mix well. Place cauliflower on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven at 450° until lightly browned, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a large platter. Top with lemon dressing, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs and lemon zest.

Serve hot.

* Lemon vinaigrette dressing is available at most major supermarkets

Pumpkin Harvest Lasagna

8 oz. béchamel sauce

5 6″ x 8″ carrot pasta sheets*

34 oz. pumpkin puree

32 oz. cooked ground chicken

32 oz. roasted butternut squash

16 oz. fontina cheese, shredded

16 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350°. Spread 2 oz. of béchamel sauce on the bottom of a 6″ x 8″ baking dish. Place one sheet of pasta on top of spread. Spread 2 oz. of pumpkin puree and 2 oz. of béchamel sauce on top of pasta. Place 8 oz. of ground chicken, 8 oz. of pumpkin puree, 8 oz. squash and 4 oz. of each type of cheese evenly in pan. Repeat three times, finishing with a layer of pasta on top. Spread remaining béchamel on top of the top layer of pasta. Cover with plastic wrap and aluminum foil.

Bake for 50 minutes.

*Available at Whole Foods Market or through Maria’s Italian Kitchen.

Béchamel Sauce

1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. butter

1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

½ tsp. salt

⅛ tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated

Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until melted. Add flour and stir until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture turns a light golden color (about 6 to 7 minutes). In a separate pan, heat milk until just below boiling. Gradually add hot milk to butter mixture, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil and cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and season with salt and nutmeg.

Maria’s Ground Chicken

2 oz. olive oil

1 oz. shallots, chopped

2 lbs. ground chicken

2 oz. Marsala wine

2 oz. water

Kosher salt to taste

Ground nutmeg to taste

White pepper to taste

Saute shallots and oil in a hot 12″ pan until light brown. Add all other ingredients. Cook over lower to medium heat until chicken is done and liquid has evaporated (about 5 to 8 minutes).

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

2 oz. oil blend (75% canola, 25% virgin olive oil)

4 oz. pancetta or bacon, diced into

¼” squares

2 lbs. Brussels sprouts

3 oz. butter

2 oz. Parmesan cheese, shaved

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Balsamic reduction*

In a large saute pan, cook pancetta with oil until halfway done. Add Brussels sprouts and butter. Saute until butter is browned and Brussels sprouts are hot. Season with salt and pepper. Place in a large platter, garnish with Parmesan and balsamic reduction. Balsamic Reduction ¼ cup sugar 1 cup balsamic vinegar In a small saucepan, combine sugar and balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, simmering until vinegar mixture has reduced to ⅓ the original amount (about 10 minutes). Cool.

*Balsamic reduction, also known as balsamic syrup, may be purchased at most supermarkets.

Pumpkin Cheesecake


16 oz. graham cracker crumbs

4 oz. granulated sugar

4 oz. butter, melted

⅛ tsp. mace

2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Combine ingredients and press into bottom of greased springform pan.


2 lbs. cream cheese

8 oz. granulated sugar

2 oz. heavy cream

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

1½ oz. egg yolk

3 whole eggs

1 lb. pumpkin puree

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

⅛ tsp. nutmeg

⅛ tsp. mace

1 tbsp. molasses

2 oz. all-purpose flour

Combine cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add cream, vanilla and eggs. Mix well. Add pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice. Add nutmeg, mace, molasses and flour until just blended. Do not over mix. Pour filling into crust and bake at 325° for one hour until cheesecake is set. Cool.


6 oz. butter

6 oz. powdered sugar

1 lb. cream cheese

¼ tsp. nutmeg

8 oz. pumpkin puree

1 Tbsp. molasses

Mix ingredients and spread on top of cooled cheesecake.


Apple Cake

½ cup melted butter

1 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced

⅔ cup all-purpose flour

¼ tsp. nutmeg

½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. kosher salt

2 whole eggs

1 egg yolk

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ tsp. grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 300°. Melt butter. Set aside ¼ cup. Mix ¼ cup of butter with apples in saute pan over medium heat and saute until apples are brown and soft. Set aside. In a metal bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate mixing bowl, beat eggs and egg yolk for two minutes at medium speed. Do not over beat. Add sugar, vanilla and lemon zest to eggs and mix for one minute. Add dry ingredients and continue mixing until everything is incorporated, then add butter and apples. Line greased 9″ to 10″ springform cake pan with a circle of parchment paper. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Note: Cake will not rise much.

Milan Cocktail

1½ oz. Absolut vodka

1 oz. orange juice

½ oz. lime juice

½ oz. simple syrup

½ oz. Limoncello

8 drops cranberry bitters Lime twist Combine ingredients in shaker. Fill halfway with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into martini glass.

Garnish with lime twist.

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