This week I am At Home in the Kitchen with Joseph Marini. Joseph is a veteran caterer, event designer, and an ardent host who is as passionate about home as he is entertaining family and friends. Joseph has had the honor of catering an intimate dinner in which President Jimmy Carter was the esteemed guest of honor. As well as a memorable candlelight dinner for a prominent United States Air Force Colonel. When he is not cooking at his home in St. Petersburg Florida, you will find him tending to his garden and designing homes across the US. Enjoy the podcast.



Asparagus Soup with Lemon and Parmesan
Serves 4

2 bunches asparagus, bottom ends trimmed and peeled
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 6 minutes. Do not brown the onions.

Cut the tips off of one bunch of the asparagus and set aside to use for a garnish. Cut the remaining spears and the other bunch of asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces. Add the chopped asparagus to the pot of onions and add the chicken stock, salt and pepper. Bring to a low boil. Cover and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender.

Meanwhile, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the reserved asparagus tips for a few minutes, or until tender-crisp. Drain the tips and then place them in a bowl of ice water to tops the cooking process and preserves their bright green color. Once the tips are cool, drain them and set aside.

Purée the soup with an immersion blender until completely smooth. Bring the soup back to a simmer and stir in the lemon juice and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Ladle the soup into bowls. Top each bowl with asparagus tips, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and freshly ground black pepper

Saffron Risotto
Serves 4

3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
Large pinch of saffron
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus shavings for garnish

Bring stock to a low simmer in a medium pot. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat for 1 minute. Cook onion until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add rice and a pinch of salt. Sauté until rice is translucent, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine and saffron; bring to a simmer, stirring, until rice has absorbed most of wine.

Add 2 ladles of stock to rice; simmer, stirring, until rice has absorbed most of stock. Continue adding stock, allowing rice to absorb it before adding the next ladleful. Cook until rice is al dente and mixture is a little loose. Stir in butter. Turn off heat. Stir in grated cheese. Cover and let sit 2 minutes. Divide among 4 bowls. Garnish each with cheese shavings, if desired.

Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Buttercream

Cake Layers
Vegetable shortening, for greasing pans
1 (4-oz.) semisweet chocolate baking bar, chopped
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup (8 oz.) salted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (about 8 1/2 oz.) all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup whole buttermilk

1 cup (8 oz.) salted butter, softened
6 cups (about 1 1/2 lb.) unsifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh strawberries (from 6 whole strawberries), divided
Additional Ingredient
Whole and halved fresh strawberries

Prepare the Cake Layers: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 3 (8-inch) round cake pans; set aside. Place chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl; pour boiling water over chocolate. Whisk until chocolate is melted and smooth. Let stand until cooled to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Beat butter with a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add granulated sugar and brown sugar, beating until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add egg yolks 1 at a time, beating until just blended after each addition. Add vanilla and cooled melted chocolate, beating until blended. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating on low speed until just blended after each addition.

Beat egg whites in a separate bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Gently fold into chocolate batter. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.

Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in centers of Cake Layers comes out clean, 20 to 30 minutes. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove Cake Layers from pans; let cool completely on wire racks, about 40 minutes.

Prepare the Frosting: Beat butter with a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the chopped strawberries, beating on medium speed until mixture is creamy with streaks of strawberries throughout. Increase speed to medium-high; beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Gently fold in remaining strawberries.

Place 1 Cake Layer on a platter; spread about 1/2 cup Frosting over top of layer. Repeat process with 1 additional Cake Layer and 1/2 cup Frosting. Top with remaining Cake Layer; spread remaining Frosting over top and sides of cake. Garnish with whole and halved strawberries.

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