Sunday, August 26, 2007

Grandma's Homemade Italian Meatball's

For as long as I can remember Sunday has always been spaghetti and meatballs day at our house. Having grown up with this tradition is the main reason that I don't order meatballs when dining out. Because really who's meatballs are going to be better than my mom's except of course my grandma's.

Grandma's Meatball Recipe
1lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 pound ground veal
3 cups bread crumbs
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
6 garlic cloves minced
3 large eggs
1 tbs salt
oil for frying

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl until evenly blended. Shape the mixture into balls. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Put as many meatballs that will fit into the oil and fry. Turn as necessary to get the meatballs brown on all sides. Remove the meatballs and blot with a paper towel to absorb some of the oil. Repeat with remaining meatballs.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Haley's Infamous Blueberry Pie

I've never really been much of a fruit pie eater. Something about cherry pie filling in a can ruined my desire for fruit pies. So when my friend Haley said she was making us a blueberry pie last Saturday night, I was a little nervous. What if I didn't like it. All week I just kept thinking the worst. Then Saturday night came and Haley and Chris arrived with the blueberry pie still warm from the oven. Things seemed to change for me at that moment and I couldn't wait to try the pie. One bite and I was hooked. The pie was delicious. Will I try other fruit pies now? Only time will tell.
Haley's Infamous Blueberry Pie Ingredients 2 cups (16 oz.) of blueberries – you can use fresh or frozen – washed & drained 8 oz. of real maple syrup sprinkling of cinnamon 4 tbs of butter 2 prepared pie crusts Directions Preheat oven to 450. Lay 1st pie crust in your pie pan. Place blueberries on top of crust. Sprinkle cinnamon lightly over blueberries. Dab butter over top of blueberries. Pour maple syrup over all ingredients. Top pie with 2nd pie crust – turn down edges and make slits in top for air to escape. Place pie in oven (Haley recommends putting a cookie tray on the rack below to catch drippings; as it can sometimes boil over). Bake on 450 for 20 minutes. Turn oven down to 400 and bake for another 20 minutes. Turn oven down to 350 and bake for the last 20 minutes. Pie bakes 60 minutes in total. Allow to cool for at least 3 hours.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Twice Baked Cookies...AKA Biscotti

The word biscotti in Italian roughly means "twice baked." The key to making biscotti is to bake the cookies in a loaf, then slice the loaf and reheat the slices. Biscotti are traditionally a dunking cookie. In various parts of Italy they are served with wine for this purpose. There are hundreds of recipes for biscotti. The one I use has been in our family for generations. It was passed on to me from my father's sister; Aunt Rosie. Aunt Rosie's Biscotti Ingredients 1/2 cup butter 1/2 cup shortening 1 cup sugar 6 eggs 3 cups flour 1 tsp baking powder 1 tsp vanilla 1 tsp anise extract Preparation Preheat oven to 350 Beat together butter and shortening. Add sugar beat until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time. Mix in vanilla and anise. Add flour and baking powder slowly; mixing well after each addition. Batter will be stiff. Form batter into 3 inch wide slabs on ungreased cookie sheet. (should make 4 slabs). Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into 1 inch bars and return to oven for 10 minutes flipping half way.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Andreoli's Italain Grocer

In preparation for a dinner we were hosting on Saturday night, my husband and I headed to Andreoli in hopes of finding some good Italian table cheese. Not knowing exactly what we wanted we were very happy to be helped by the owner himself, Giovanni. He knew a lot about cheese and was able to offer us a variety of selections. What was really surprising was when he started cutting hunks of cheese for us both to taste. It's always a nice touch to be able to sample products before you buy them. I wish more specialty shops would do this. After trying several different varieties of cheese, we finally settled on two and were about to check out when Giovanni came over with a slice of homemade Italian bread for us to try. "You can't have good cheese without good bread," he said. One taste told us he was right. The bread was delicious and would make a great accompaniment to our cheese plate. Although I think it's a bit expensive at $5.50 a loaf, it was really good, so we bought it. Realizing it was nearing 2:00pm and we still had several hours before dinner we decided to grab a quick bite to eat. Andreoli's offers several different panini's, a few pizza's and some Italian antipasto items. They also have a nice sized pastry counter. My husband and I decided to share the prosciutto, roasted pepper and mozzarella panino and the Gorgonzola, prosciutto and zucchini panino.

All of the panini's are served with a boring green salad, which in my opinion could have been omitted. Both sandwiches we had were very good with ample amounts of filling and just the right combination of flavors. Next time, yes there will be a next time, I think I will try the roasted pork or maybe the fillet Mignon panino. As we sauntered out to the car with smiles on our face and food in our bellies we both decided that Andreoli's is a keeper. With Giovanni's knowledge and passion for Italian food shining through in everything he does, how could you go wrong.

Thursday, August 9, 2007


My uncle turned 65 at the end of July and we celebrated with a small dinner party at our house. The main course was such a big hit that I thought I'd share it here. We made what was essentially a stuffed, rolled pork shoulder with a side of pasta. This is an adaptation of a recipe found in Mario Batali's Holiday Food cookbook.
Braciolona Ingredients 3lbs of boneless pork shoulder or leg, butterflied and pounded to yield 1 large piece 1/2 inch thick and 12 inches square 1/2 cup plus 2 tbs chopped parsley 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted 1/2 cup dried currants 3/4 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese 16 slices of prosciutto di Parma 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced several gratings of nutmeg 4 tbs dried oregano 1/4 cup olive oil 2 red onions cut into 1/4 in dice 4 garlic cloves thinly sliced 2 cups of dry white wine 3 28 ounce cans plum tomatoes, crushed 2 tsp red pepper flakes 2 pounds of ziti, cooked Directions Lay the pork out flat and season with salt and pepper. In a mixing bowl, stir together 1/2 cup of the parsley, the pine nuts, currants and 1/2 cup of the pecorino. Season with salt and pepper. Lay the prosciutto slices over the pork piece to cover completely. Sprinkle the parsley mixture evenly over the prosciutto. Arrange the eggs in rows across the meat. Grate nutmeg over the entire piece and sprinkle with 2 tbs of the oregano, rubbing t between your fingers to release the oils. Carefully roll the meat up like a jellyroll and tie firmly with butcher twine in several places. Season again with salt and pepper. In an 8 quart Dutch oven, heat the oil until smoking. Carefully brown the pork roll on all sides. This should take 15-20 minutes. Remove the meat and set aside. Add the onions, remaining 2 tbs of oregano, and the garlic to the pan. Cook until light golden brown and soft, 9-11 minutes. Add the wine, tomatoes and pepper flakes and bring to a boil. Return the pork to the pan and simmer partially covered for 1 hour 20 minutes, moving occasionally to avoid sticking. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and remove the butcher twine carefully. Slice the braciolona 3/4 inch tick with a very sharp knife. Arrange the shingles on a warm platter and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of pecorino and chopped parsley. Serve with cooked ziti.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

More to Calmari than Meets the Eye

Calamari is the Italian culinary name for squid. Squid is popular throughout the world because it's body, tentacles and ink can all be eaten. Thus it goes a long way when feeding many people. Most dining establishments in the US serve calamari fried. What you may not know is that this versatile creature can also be grilled, stuffed or made into a salad. There are so many ways to cook and serve calamari; so don't be afraid to try something new. Below is my favorite recipe for cooking calamari. If possible I buy the calamari whole. This allows me to have control over the size and thickness of the rings I cut. Ingredients 3lbs calamari cleaned and cut into rings 1/2 cup olive oil 1/4 cup Marsala wine 1/4 cup white wine 1 tbs garlic chopped juice & rind from a 1/2 of lemon 1 tbs fresh basil chopped 1 tsp dried oregano salt and pepper to taste Preparation Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until golden. Add Marsala and wine. Reduce mixture slightly. Add lemon juice & rind. Let simmer for 1 minute. Sprinkle herbs over calamari and add to the skillet. Saute for 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve with pan juices.