Saturday, March 31, 2012

Italian wedding soup

  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  •  1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  •  1/4 cup of seasoned Italian bread crumbs
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Sprinkle some salt (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Have a family member help make these for you, they get to help and it saves you time.

  • 12 cups chicken broth
  • 1 pound well washed escarole or fresh spinach, cut into small pieces
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  •  1/2 teaspoon of black pepper 
  • ½ cup pastina or acini  pasta
  • Make the Meatballs:
    In a large bowl mixing bowl, mix all your  meatball ingredients together  until it us  well mixed.
    Shape the meat into small size meatballs, about the size of a marble
  •  Once all made put the meatballs  into a bowl  and set aside until they are added to the soup (you can put them in refrigerator till them to keep meat safe.
  • Make the Soup
  •  Now bring your  broth to a boil in a large pot over medium heat.
     Slowly add the meatballs and escarole or spinach and cook until the meatballs are cooked through and the escarole (or spinach) is tender, about 12 minutes.
    Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper (optional)
  • Using a ladle put soup into bowls and serve with  your favorite grated cheese.

Easter Frittata Cook by Skillet or by Oven

  • 12 large eggs
  • l/4 cup half & half
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 pound of Ricotta cheese (drained overnight this will remove liquid)
  • 1 1/2 cups Romano cheese
  • 8 ounces Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 pound of bacon
  • 1 pound of ground Italian sausage (sweet or hot or half of each)

Preheat your  broiler on on medium. Whisk all the eggs,  and your half & half, & pepper. Once beaten set to one aside.
Cook the sausage and bacon in a large  nonstick over proof skillet set to medium heat. Once cooked drain the fat and add butter. 
Coat the sides of your pan with the butter. Raise the heat to medium-high, now add the cheeses. 
Cook for a few minutes until you notice that the eggs are starting to set. Reduce your  heat to low and cook until you notice that your  Frittata is almost set, about 4 minutes.
Place the skillet under broiler and cook until top is set a nice golden brown, for  about five to eight minutes.
Let the Frittata stand for about five minutes. Using spatula carefully loosen the Frittata from the pan and slide onto a plate. 

The fun of cooking is often experimenting with recipes. So here is a variation to this one. 

Frittata Made Easy.  I love this variation and its just as good!

Whisk all the eggs,  and your half & half, & pepper add cooked asparagus that have been cut in 3s  and set aside.  

Cook the sausage and bacon in a large  nonstick pan over medium heat. Once cooked drain the fat and add butter, then all  the cheeses cook and mix well for about 5 minutes.  

Then turn this entire mixture into the egg mixture and mix together well.  

Once all mixed pour into a well butter coated 2 1/2 quart baking pan and bake at 365 degrees for about 1 hour or until golden brown.

Serve for breakfast, brunch or with Easter Dinner.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Polenta Bolognese

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup onion chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup carrot chopped finely
  • 3/4 pound ground beef 
  • 3 medium garlic cloves minced
  • 1/3 cup red wine 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon fennel seeds 
  • 1/4 teaspoon  ground black pepper
  • can diced tomatoes,  do not drain (28-ounce)
  •               Polenta:
  • 1 1/2 cups 1% reduced-fat milk 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • can chicken broth (14-ounce)
  • 1 cup polenta  dry
  • 1/2 cup  grated  Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil  (you can use fresh)
  • Start your sauce by coating  a large skillet with cooking spray over medium heat, add your onion, carrot, beef, and garlic; cook 8 minutes making sure that your beef is browned, stirring enough in order to crumble you meat.  Now add your wine; cook 1 1/2 minutes, 1/4 teaspoon salt, fennel seeds and pepper, and tomatoes. Bring sauce to a  boil then cover and reduce heat to low, and  cook at low for another 40 minutes.
  • Now prepare your  polenta, combine milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and chicken broth in a medium saucepan, slowly add polenta, stirring constantly using a  whisk,  bring to a boil then lower the heat to medium; cook 2-3 minutes until it becomes thick, keep stirring constantly. Stir in 6 tablespoons  your favorite Romano or Parmesan cheese.
  • To finish, spoon the cooked polenta into a coated with cooking spray 8-inch square baking dish.  Let the polenta stand for 10-12  minutes or until firm, once firm.loosen the edges of polenta from baking dish with a knife. Invert the polenta onto a cutting board; cut it into 4 squares then cut again, each square diagonally into 2 triangles.
  •  Now get ready to serve by placing each triangle into 8 plates; top each serving with 1/2 cup sauce, 3/4 teaspoon cheese, and 1 1/2 teaspoons basil.  
  • You can also leave in the baking pan and top with the sauce and serve accordingly.   This is great with a salad and a glass of red wine.  Serves up to 8

Chicken Corden Blue Italian Style

Preheat oven 350   "le cordon bleu" just means "the blue ribbon." Or Blue Ribbon Cook.

  • 1/4 cup  chicken broth
  • 5 teaspoons butter (melted)
  • 1 medium garlic clove (minced)
  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano cheese
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (optional)
  • boneless chicken breast halves (skinless)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano (you can use fresh)
  • 1/4 teaspoon  ground black pepper
  • 4 thin slices prosciutto (you can use ham instead of prosciutto) 
  • 1/4 cup shredded  mozzarella cheese
  • Cooking spray
  1. Heat broth in a small pan at medium heat, about 15 seconds or until warm. Stir in butter and garlic. Combine in breadcrumbs, Parmigiano cheese and paprika in a medium deep bowl; set aside.
  2. Place each of your chicken breast half between 2 sheets of  plastic wrap, and pound each to 1/4-inch thickness with a meat mallet or your rolling pin. 
  3. Sprinkle both sides of each chicken with salt, oregano, and pepper. Top each breast half with 1 slice of prosciutto or ham and 1 tablespoon mozzarella. 
  4. Now take each breast half like a jelly-roll then take each one and dip each roll in chicken broth mixture and then roll  in your breadcrumb mixture. 
  5. Place each chicken breast, the seam facing side down, in an 8 or 10-inch square baking dish, coat the dish first with cooking spray. 
  6. Take your  remaining broth mixture and pour over chicken. 
  7. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes making sure tops are golden and juicy.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Baked Polenta and Sausage & Tomato

6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 28 oz. can of your favorite crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoons of fresh chopped oregano
1 medium onion, cut into wedges (thinly sliced)
1 medium bell pepper (red, orange or yellow)
2 garlic cloves minced
1/2 teaspoon of salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of red chile flakes
1 pound of Italian sausage (sweet or spicy) (or 1 pound of ground sausage
2 tubes of prepared polenta (sliced 1/2 inch thick rounds)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella (make sure it is drained and sliced into 1/4 in thick rounds

Preheat broiler to medium. Heat 3 teaspoon, oil in a 2- to 3-qt. saucepan s on medium heat, now add your crushed tomatoes, oregano and simmer slowly, (do not cover)    15-20 minutes

In a large fry  pan, heat 1 tbsp. oil over medium heat, now add your onion,  bell pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, and chile flakes, stir together to mix well.  Cover pan, keep heat to medium, and cook until vegetables are tender, about 5-7 minutes. Now add  sausage, stirring and breaking into small pieces  about 5 minutes. Continue to cook in covered  pan ,cook until vegetables are tender and sausage is cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes more. Add crushed tomatoes and  simmer 10-12 more minutes

While this sauce is cooking.

Pour your remaining  oil into a 9- by 13-in. baking dish making sure to coat bottom of pan with oil.

Now add your polenta slices in the  pan and turn to coat with oil, then arrange slices lengthwise in 3 slightly overlapping rows, then broil polenta about 4 in. from heating element until golden brown and crispy, 10 to 15 minutes making sure not to burn.

Now pour your sauce over broiled polenta,  arrange mozzarella slices on top.  Broil until cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about 2-3 minutes.   Serve top or cool with a salad.  

Shrimp & Asparagus Risotto

5 Cups of vegetable stock
10-12 oz of fresh asparagus spares (cut them into 3 pieces)
2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium onion chopped finely
1 medium garlic clove chopped finely
1 5/8 cups of risotto  (12 oz)
1 pound of shrimp (peel shell and deveined)
2 tablespoons of fresh basil
1/8 teaspoon of pepper
1/8 teaspoon of salt (optional)
Parmesan cheese

In a large pan at medium heat, boil vegetable stock, add the asparagus and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until tender, then take.  Strain reserving the vegetable stock.  Rinse the asparagus, under cold water, drain, and put to one side.

Return your vegetable stock to stove on low heat, while you cook the risotto .

Heat olive oil in a large pan at medium heat, add your onion, stir occasionally for about 6 minutes until tender.  Add garlic and cook for about 35 seconds.

Lower you heat, add your risotto, and mix well so that its coated with the oil and onion and garlic. Cook 2-3 minutes stirring constantly  or until the risotto is clear.

With a ladle, slowly add the hot vegetable stock, making sure to reserve 1 ladle.  Stir constantly.  Increase the heat so that the ingredients bubbles.  Cook for about 29 minutes, until you notice that all the liquid is absorbed by the risotto and you will notice that the mixture is nice and creamy.  Now add the shrimp and asparagus and the last ladle of vegetable stock.

Remove you pan from the heat, stir in your fresh basil, pepper and salt.

You can garnish your Risotto with Parmesan cheese.   

Monday, March 19, 2012

Maria's Slow Cooker Corn beef & Cabbage

2 Celery stalks cut in fours
4 carrots cut in fours
2 small onions cut in fours
6-8 red potatoes
1 4-pound corned beef brisket
1 bottle of dark ale
1 teaspoon of parley 
1 medium cabbage head cut in 6 wedges

In slow cooker or Crockpot, place celery, carrots, onion and potatoes at the bottom.  Rinse your corn beef and place it on top of vegetables.  Add the bottle of ale, and spices, then add water making sure to just cover over your meat.  Cover and cook at high heat for 4 hours, then remove the lid and add the cabbage cover and continue to cook all together for another 3 hours.

After cooked, carve the beef into slices with cabbage and vegetables surrounding it, add some of the cooking liquid over all of it. 


Mary Piccirillo's Corned Beef & Cabbage

4- 5 pounds of Corn brisket of beef
6 large carrots, cut into 3's 
2 celery Stalks
2 small onions
6-8 red  potatoes  
1 teaspoon of dry mustard
Dry or fresh parsley
1 head of cabbage
1/4 teaspoon of pepper

Put the Corn beef into a large pot, add carrots, onions, and mustard than fresh or dry parsley.
Cover the Corn  Beef with cold water, and bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 2 hours.  Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage then cut into 6 wedges, and add to corn beef pot along with potatoes. Cook for another 1-2 hours or until the meat falls apart and vegetables are soft and tender.

Serve the corned beef in slices, and surround the corn beef with the vegetable and a little of the liquid you cooked the corn beef in.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mom's Sicilian Pizza

Sicilian Pizza Dough Recipe

2 packages dry yeast
1 1/2 cups  water make sure its warm
4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar 

Coat a mixing bowl with oil and then set aside for later. 

Stir your water, sugar and yeast together, then let it sit for about 10-12 minutes.  Put 3 cups of flour in a large mixing bowl and add your salt.  

Now take the rest of your flour and spread it over your board or table area, add the olive oil to the yeast mixture, and add this to the bowl of flour.  Stir this mixture well, then turn it onto your floured board.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Knead the pizza dough until you have a smooth ball of dough. After you kneaded it well, place it in your greased bowl, and cover with a plastic saran wrap and cover over that with a kitchen towel and let this sit for 45 minutes on your counter until your dough has doubled in size. 

This makes 2 pizzas, shape your dough and brush the edges with olive oil, and your choice of toppings, or the ones I have listed below for  Sicilian pizza.  Bake for about 15 minutes.
You can make this on a  square pizza pan or ceramic tile or pizza stone.

Topping for the Sicilian Pizza  (These toppings are all optional)

Pizza sauce
2 cans of anchovy fillets (this is what makes a real Sicilian pizza, but its up to the cooks taste)
15 black olives minced
1/2 pound of Provolone cheese or mozzarella or half of both
1 onion minced
6 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese (this can be optional)
Pepper to sprinkle over
Sausage boiled and sliced
Mushrooms fresh or canned
Green peppers washed and sliced 
Garlic minced
Meatballs sliced

                                  The usual Sicilian pizza is often square shaped

              If you do not want to make the dough you can purchase your favorite dough, spread it in a square pan and have it rise for about 15-20 minutes, then top with any or all of  these toppings to make Sicilian Pizza.  Enjoy!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Mary Piccirillo's Irish Soda Bread

3-1/4 cups flour
1/3  sugar plus two table spoons, divided
1 teaspoon of  Baking Powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup butter make sure its cold
1-1/3 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup  raisins you can use currants (I like the taste that the raisins give better)
3 teaspoons of caraway seeds

Heat your oven to 350 degrees 

First mix flour, then add 1/3 cup of sugar and baking powder and lastly salt in a large mixing bowl.  Add your butter by cutting in using a pastry blender or a folk of knife, until you notice that mix looks like coarse crumbs, now slowly add butter milk, and then your raisin or currants.  Mix until this becomes moistened.

Now place your dough onto a floured surface, need 10-15 times.  Shape into round loaf, which will be 1 1/2 inches thick. Place your dough on a greased baking sheet.  Cut a 1/2 (X)  on the top of the dough.  Now sprinkle the rest of your sugar of the dough.

Bake your Soda bread 1 hour and until it is a nice golden brown.  Once baked cool completely on a wire rack. 

I will be sharing many of Mom Piccirillo's wonderful recipes on this blog.  Thanks to her for many wonderful meals on Sunday night's.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Easter Rice Pie

8 eggs
3 pounds for your favorite ricotta cheese
2 1/2 cups of sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon pf grated lemon rind
1 cup of rice raw/then cook
2 cups of milk

Pie Crust
2 cups of flour
1 cup of sugar
4 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 eggs, beaten slightly
1/3 cup oil
1 cup warm water but not hot
1 teaspoon lemon extract

Crust:  With the two cups of flour on a table lined with parchment paper or board, make a well in the center, place the eggs, oil and water, then add lemon extract in the center of the well and work in the rest of the dry ingredients.  Knead briefly to make a nice smooth workable dough.  Add more flour if needed so that the dough is not sticking,  Now divide the dough into four parts. Lightly flour a board and roll 2 of the parts of dough to form the bottom crusts for 2 9 inch deep pie pans. (make sure the pie pans are deep).  Now roll the remaining out and cut them into strips in order to form lattice for the top of the pie.

Rice filling: Beat your eggs until nice and foamy, then add the ricotta, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, lemon rind and vanilla, then slowly pour in milk, mixing well.  Then stir in the rice.

Slowly pour mixture into unbaked pie crusts and then add the lattice strips over the top of crusts.  Bake the pies at 350 degrees for about 1 hour.  Bake then till lightly golden, but not over cooked.  This makes 2 nice pies 

You can use your favorite frozen dough or pie crusts dough for these pies. 

1.You can add a 1 cup of pineapple to this for a different taste.
2.Or you can also add a 1 cup of chocolate chips. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Palm Sunday and Easter

Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday in our family was marked by religion, traditions, and food and lots of it.  As a child I remember my mother and father going to downtown (Providence) and they would shop for  Easter cloths.  The Outlet Company was the store to get it all.  At that time there were no malls, no shopping centers and not as many choices of stores as there are now.  In fact there were fewer cars, so the city was really the only place you would shop. You would drive to downtown Providence, or take the bus into the city.  We had stores such as the Outlet Company, Peerless, Gladdings Department Store, Cherry & Web, Kennedy's  and lets not forget Shepards, where if you split up during shopping,  we would all meet up again under the Shepards clock. 

The Outlet sold cloths for men, women and children, from everyday cloths to our Sunday best.  My mother would pick and the prettiest dresses, patent leather shoes and matching  purse for me as well as white socks or leggings, and my Easter bonnet.  Everything matched perfectly!  Then during this visit to the Outlet, no Easter would be complete without a visit to the Easter Bunny and Pictures taken with my favorite bunny.

Once the Easter outfits were purchased, then it was time to think about food for the two holidays.  Our family got together for both Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.  Palm Sunday in Italian is known as (Domenica delle Palme) translated Sunday of the Palm. Easter not only marked the arrival of Spring, but also the many traditions and  sacred aspects of Palm Sunday and  Easter also known as 'La Pasqua' in Italian.  Most Cities and towns in Italy mark the Holy Season with their own traditions in regards to food and religious customs during Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, these customs made there way to into cities and towns across America, and Federal Hill in Providence, Rhode Island was no different.

On Palm Sunday we would dress up in Sunday best and go to Church as a family, there the Palm was blessed and given out to it's  parishoners during Sunday Mass. At the end of Mass many would try to get more palm so that we would have enough to share with family and friends. The rest of the palm, would be used to make woven palm crosses.  I remember sitting with family members as they took these long straight palms and wove  them into beautiful crosses of all sizes.  These crosses would be hung in our homes and cars until the following Palm Sunday when they would be replaced with a new ones.   The weaving of the palms was not only a tradition in our home, but an art by those that knew how to weave them.   The remaining Palm held by the churches were reserved for burning and the ashes used for Ash Wednesday the following year.  Many areas throughout the world use olive branches instead of Palm, Italy included.

Easter Mass is celebrated to mark the resurrection of Jesus, after his crucifixion and is marked by many traditions observed throughout the country and the world.  The Easter dinner is a feast of special dishes and delicacies.  In Italy the most important dish is lamb, eggs are used in soups and in various types of Sweet Easter breads, and Pannetone is given as gifts to families and friends. Families also gave each other Chocolate Hollow eggs,  that always contain a surprise inside them. These gifts are still given today and can be found at Italian food emporiums on Federal Hill in Providence and throughout the state and country, not to mention in towns throughout Italy.

Our family would go to various markets on Federal Hill to shop for Easter dinner ingredients, these shops would include Tonys Colonial Market, Roberti's Meat Market, Gems, and Venda.  these markets held the very ingredients such as, meats, and staples to insure the perfect Easter meal.   These staples were then purchased and taken home to create the very dishes that family members longed for and enjoyed year after year.  This holiday brought family members from near and far to one table to enjoy these beloved family dishes.