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Fresco’s famous crab cakes with avocado salsa

The Scotto family shares their favorite holiday dinner recipes — crab cakes with avocado salsa, lasagna bolognese with béchamel sauce, roasted boneless loin of veal and a bittersweet chocolate pudding cake with vanilla gelato:

Crab Cakes with Avocado Salsa

4-6 servings


  • Avocado Salsa

    • 2 large ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and coarsely smashed
    • 1 small ripe tomato, diced
    • 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
    • 1/4 cup fresh corn, cooked
    • 1/4 cup fresh peas, cooked
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
    • Juice of 2 limes
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • Tabasco sauce
    • Salt
  • For Crab Cakes

    • 1 medium zucchini, seeded, finely chopped, and squeezed dry
    • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
    • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, finely chopped, and squeezed dry
    • 1 large shallot, finely minced
    • 1/2 cup ketchup
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (Hellman’s)
    • Tabasco sauce
    • 1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked clean
    • 1 cup packaged dried bread crumbs (store bought)
    • 1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil


Baking Directions:

To make the avocado salsa: In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients thoroughly. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Set aside. To make the crab cakes: In a large bowl, mix the zucchini, celery, capers, shallot, ketchup, mayonnaise, and Tabasco to taste to make a dressing. Reserve ¼ cup to garnish the crab cakes before serving. Gently fold the crabmeat into the dressing. Using a ½ cup measure form the crabmeat mixture into 4 to 6 balls. Mix the bread crumbs and almonds in a small bowl. Thoroughly coat the crab balls in the bread crumb mixture. Flatten the crab balls to look like a hockey pucks. Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, pan sear the crab cakes in the oil until golden brown, about 3 minutes, turning once. Place the crab cakes on a baking sheet and bake for 5 to 6 minutes, or until cooked through. To serve, place a generous spoonful of avocado salsa on a plate. Place a crab cake on the avocado salsa. Top with a small spoonful of the reserved dressing. Serve with potato chips.

Lasagna Bolognese with Béchamel Sauce

6-8 servings


  • For Bolognese Sauce

    • 1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
    • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
    • 1 large bulb fennel, coarsely chopped
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 2 pounds ground chicken
    • 2 pounds ground veal
    • 1 cup tomato sauce (store bought or fresh, see recipe)
    • 1/2 cup white wine
    • 1 cup veal stock
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 3 cups parmesan cheese
  • For Bechamel Sauce

    • For The Béchamel Sauce
    • 21/2 cups whole milk
    • 1 shallot, coarsely chopped
    • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 3 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
    • Salt
  • For Fresh Tomato Sauce

    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 small onions, peeled, cut into small dice
    • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
    • 1/4 to 1 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper flakes
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 8 fresh basil leaves, finely shredded
  • For the Lasagna

    • 4 cups Bolognese sauce
    • 3 cups grated parmesan cheese
    • 5 fresh pasta sheets (store bought), or 2 pounds lasagna noodles


Baking Directions:

In a food processor, grind the carrot, onion, and fennel until fine. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the ground vegetables, pepper flakes, and garlic and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the moisture evaporates, stirring occasionally. In the same saucepan, brown the chicken and veal, then add the tomato sauce, wine, and veal stock. Stir to mix and simmer over medium to high heat, stirring occasionally, for 1 and 1/2 hours or until the sauce thickens and is reduced by one quarter. Remove from heat, stir in the butter and parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper if needed; set aside. To make the béchamel sauce: Combine 2 cups of the milk, the shallot, and nutmeg in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 5 minutes. Cover and set aside to keep hot. In another saucepan, melt the butter over medium to low heat. Add the flour and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the flour absorbs the butter and forms a roux. Continue stirring for 2 to 3 minutes longer while the mixture bubbles and thickens. Slowly pour the hot milk into the flour, whisking continuously to prevent lumps. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, until smooth and thickened. Season to taste with salt. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl or glass measuring cup. Add as much of the remaining 1/2 cup milk as necessary to make 2 cups, whisking well to incorporate. Set aside, covered, until ready to use. To make the sauce: In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and onions, and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until the garlic just begins to turn golden brown. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes are softened and a sauce is formed. Stir in the fresh basil and remove from heat. To make the lasagna: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat and cook the pasta until al dente, about 1 minute. Drain and shock in cold water. Preheat oven 350°F. In the bottom of 8 x 12-inch baking pan, spray with non stick baking condiment of your choice or grease with butter. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with one layer of pasta sheets. Using a spatula, spread 1 cup prepared béchamel sauce evenly across bottom, next on top of béchamel sauce spread evenly approximately 1 cup prepared Bolognese sauce, then sprinkle these two layers with approximately ½ cup parmesan cheese. Place second pasta sheet over filling and press down evenly. Repeat two more times to yield 3 layers and cover the top of the lasagna with pasta sheets. Spread remaining béchamel and ½ cup tomato sauce on top layer of lasagna and sprinkle with 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese. Bake lasagna for 1 hour until bubbling or until the top is golden. Remove from oven and let set stand for a few minutes to set before cutting. Serve with remaining parmesan cheese.

Roasted Boneless Loin of Veal alla Toscana

6 servings


    • 1 boneless loin of veal approximately 4 to 5 pounds
    • 4 cloves garlic, crushed with blade of knife
    • 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
    • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 4 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
    • Salt and pepper to taste


Baking Directions:

In a bowl, add garlic, rosemary, thyme, olive oil and balsamic; mix together thoroughly. Season loin with salt and pepper, and roll veal in marinade. Marinate for 5 to 6 hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 375 to 400 F. Remove veal from marinade. Place in roasting pan. Save leftover marinade in separate bowl. Roast veal at 375 F for approximately 40 minutes. Check internal temperature; should be 128 F. If veal is not done, raise oven temperature to 400 for additional 10 to 15 minutes or until internal temperature reads 128. Baste loin of veal with marinade during roasting time. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding Cake with Butterscotch Sauce and Vanilla Gelato

6-10 servings


  • For the Pudding

    • 13/4 cup flour
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 cup butter
    • 13/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
    • 4 eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3/4 cup hot water
    • Store bought vanilla gelato
  • For the Butterscotch Sauce

    • 2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
    • 1 cup butter
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup


Baking Directions:

To make the pudding cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and ½ cup of the cocoa powder. In a large bowl, beat the butter and 1 cup of the brown sugar at medium speed until light. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Stir in the sifted dry ingredients. Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish. Spoon the batter into the dish. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining ¾ cups brown sugar and 2 tablespoons, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, and ¾ cup hot water. Pour the liquid over the batter and place the baking dish into a larger pan. Place the pan in the oven and pour enough hot water into the larger pan to reach halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the pudding is barely set and has begun to pull away from the sides of the baking dish. To make butterscotch sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat, and remove from the heat. Serve the warm pudding with the butterscotch sauce and vanilla gelato on top.