The moist and fragrant casserole pastitsio combines béchamel (a sauce of butter, flour and milk), pasta, ground lamb, tomato sauce, cheese, cinnamon and nutmeg. Instead of béchamel, Grace Parisi stirs a ricotta mixture into the pasta before baking it.
Jose Garces learned how to make a classic potato gratin while studying at Kendall College's cooking school in Chicago. It's still one of his favorite side dishes. This version combines lots of sharp, nutty Manchego cheese and smoky San Simón cheese (Gouda is a fine substitute) for rich, complex flavor.
"This is like a really fine chocolate truffle that melts in your mouth," says bartender Marvin Allen. He makes this variation on a chocolate martini with nocino, a walnut liqueur produced in Modena, Italy.