Historic recipes with a modern twist

Local chefs put a local spin on a few Old-World classics. 

A taste of Italy 

Take your orecchiette pasta to a whole new level with luscious lumps of crab and flavorsome florets of cauliflower. Chef Nunzio Patruno shared this recipe, which combines fresh seafood with fresh produce, creating an invigorating dish. “Each region in Italy is very proud of its region’s artisanal pasta, which makes them distinct from each other,” Patruno explained. ”Puglia, namely in Mola, are known for their seaports and fisheries. They are also known for their pasta dishes. This one features my favorite favorite pasta — orecchiette.”

Historic roots

Puglia forms the heel of Italy’s “boot.” In addition to its amazing orecchiette, the region is also known for its whitewashed hill towns, centuries-old farmland and miles of Mediterranean coastline. A number of castles were built in the area by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, including Castel del Monte, sometimes called the “Crown of Apulia,” which appears on the Italian version of the one-cent Euro coin.

Key ingredient

Orecchiette (pronounced o-rek-kyet-teh) originates in the sunny southern province of Puglia, Italy. The name directly translates to “little ears” in Italian, which has much to do with their oval shape which resembles a small ear. The pasta is typically served with a meat, capers and a crisp white wine.

Nunzio Restaurant + BarOrecchiette with cauliflower, fennel and crab meat 

Serves 12


1 pound jumbo lump crab meat

1 pound orecchiette, dry or fresh

1 head of cauliflower, cleaned and cut into florets

1 large fennel bulb (save the fur), julienne

1 ounce pine nuts

1 ounce soaked rice raisins 

1 garlic clove

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

Pinch of parsley

Pinch of basil

Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Pinch of hot pepper flakes

3 ounces pecorino cheese

2 ounces extra virgin olive oil

Directions [1] In a sauté pan, heat olive oil and add chopped garlic, cherry tomatoes, fennel fur, raisins, pine nuts, and hot pepper flakes. Cook for five minutes and set aside. [2] Cook the orecchiette pasta in salted boiling water. [3] Mid-point of cooking the pasta, add the cauliflower florets and fennel. Strain pasta and vegetables together, place in mixing bowl, and add crab meat and sauce. [4] Toss together and add fresh basil, parsley, and fresh ground pepper. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, dust with grated pecorino cheese and serve. 

French connections

Moss Creek executive chef Lenny Giarratano shared two recipes that are sure to please. A bouillabaisse loaded with redfish, shrimp and mussels is a seafood lover’s dream, and his twist on a pineapple upside down cake will have you pining for more. It combines all of the traditional sweet ingredients with savory ones like black pepper, basil and balsamic. 

Historic roots 

Bouillabaisse is a traditional Provençal fish stew originating from Marseille, a port city in southern France that has been a crossroads of immigration and trade since its founding by the Greeks circa 600 B.C. At its heart is the Vieux-Port, where fishmongers sell their catch along the boat-lined quay.

Moss CreekSea Island bouillabaisse 

(Serves 4)


1 each 4-ounce medallions local redfish fillet

12 shrimp, peeled and tail off

12 live mussels

1/2 cup carrots, shaped into balls with melon scooper

1/2 cup potatoes, shaped into balls with melon scooper

1/2 cup medium onion, diced

1/8 cup celery, finely diced

2 teaspoons fresh chopped garlic

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 teaspoon saffron threads

1 teaspoon dried tarragon

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 cup chiffonade collard greens

1 cup white wine

1 quart shrimp stock

Zest of 1 lemon

Clarified butter, as needed

2 tablespoons cornstarch 

Crusty Cuban bread, for dipping

Directions [1] Sauté carrots, onions, and celery in butter and add pepper and garlic. Be sure to not brown the garlic. [2] Add wine, zest, stock, water, greens, saffron and herbs. Simmer until carrots are tender and greens are limp. [3] Add potatoes and simmer until potatoes are almost tender. [4] In another deep sauté pan, heat butter and sear shrimp and on both sides. Cover with broth and simmer until done. Make slurry with cornstarch and 2 tablespoon of cool water and add to mixture while stirring. Cook one more minute. [5] Present in a soup bowl and garnish with grilled bread.

Historic roots

According to historians, the term “upside-down cake” first started appearing in the late 1800s. Before then, they were called skillet cakes. Since ovens were neither common nor reliable, the cakes were made in cast-iron skillets on top of the stove. Inverting a cake to reveal a topping has been popular since the Middle Ages.

Key ingredient

Maraschino cherries are first preserved in a brine solution to bleach the fruit, then soaked in a suspension of food coloring, sugar syrup, and other components. In addition to the customary red, you can purchase them in a variety of fruity flavors and colors, including purple, green, orange, blue and yellow.

Moss Creek – Black pepper pineapple upside-down cake


4 eggs

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup packed light brown sugar

20-ounce can sliced pineapple

10 maraschino cherries, halved

1 cup sifted flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1 teaspoon almond extract

Directions [1] In a heavy 10-inch iron skillet, melt half-cup butter over very low heat. Remove from heat and sprinkle brown sugar and pepper in the pan evenly. Heat oven to 375 degrees. [2] Arrange pineapple slices to cover the bottom of skillet and arrange cherries between the pineapple. [3] Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. [4] Separate eggs into two bowls. In a large bowl, beat whites until soft peaks form. Add white sugar gradually, breaking well after each addition. Beat until medium-stiff peaks form. In a small bowl, beat egg yolks at high speed until thick and yellow. Using a rubber scraper, gently fold yolk mixture and flour into whites until blended. [5] Fold in tablespoon melted butter and almond extract. Spread batter evenly over skillet, and bake for 35 minutes or until surface springs back when gently pressed with fingertip and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. [6] Loosen the edges with a knife and cool 5 to 10 minutes before turning cake onto a cutting board. Serve with vanilla gelato, sweet balsamic syrup, and micro basil sprouts.

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