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Italian Meat Balls


This recipe is from an Italian-French cooking school called The Antoinette Pope School. It was in downtown Chicago and my mom took lessons there in the 1940’s. This recipe is straight from their cook book. 

I always make a large quantity of these meatballs because they freeze well and everyone loves them. They’re great plain or with Italian tomato sauce. 

Here is the mixture which needs to set for 30 minutes

These meatballs are ready to bake to 150 degrees F. Parchment paper is a better liner than foil for baking


3 pounds lean ground beef

1 tablespoon or more dried oregano

1 cup grated Italian Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

6 cloves garlic, minced

6 eggs, beaten with a fork 

1 and 1/2 cups cool milk or water

1 and 1/2 cups dry bread crumbs

  • Preheat oven to 350 degree F
  • In a very large bowl combine ingredients in the order given, and with a large fork or spoon beat in each ingredient.
  • Now let the mixture stand for 30 minutes.
  • Form into 1 and 1/2 inch size balls
  • Place on  baking sheets lined with parchment paper or foil.  Parchment is best. Do not crowd the meatballs.
  • Bake 20-30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 150 degrees F. Use an instant read thermometer.
  • Cool thoroughly before freezing. 
  • Serve as is or simmer in an Italian tomato sauce.

Enjoy!

Pasta alla Marinara alla Americano

Marinara Sauce

Pasta and Marinara Sauce with Italian Turkey Sausage and Grated Parmesan

Pasta alla Marinara is an Italian dish from the Campania area around Naples Italy. All of the ingredients are available in this region. These people immigrated to the US in large numbers and gave us our current love of Italian pizza and tomato sauce.

We have broken some rules with this recipe as you can see above. #1 We served meat with the pasta. #2 Sauce was served on top of the pasta. #3 Grated parmesan was added to the final dish.  We did eat the green salad after the pasta though 🙂

Yes food is a religion in Italy and the rules are endless. As the New York Times articles inform us, the meat is served after the pasta on a clean dish; the pasta is not left to drain in a colander, but is lifted out of the cooking pot and then added to the marinara sauce for final cooking; parmesan is not added to marinara. We did combine the pasta with most of the sauce in the skillet. Otherwise, we followed the specifics of this recipe and Lidia Bastianich’s recommendations.

Attencion! Pay attention to the following points of advice from Lidia Bastianich and Julia Moskin:

  • Make sure the garlic is not yellow or sprouted and is firm and white
  • Only peel and slice the garlic. Mincing the garlic breaks down the cells and releases the sulfurous molecules which give the strong flavor and odor.
  • Look for Cento brand or other San Marzano certified D.O.P. whole plum tomatoes, though this special tomato authenticity is questionable. The San Marzano tomato is only grown near Mt. Vesuvius (think Pompeii) and is only a 60 square mile area. That’s a pretty small area for the millions of cans of “San Marzano certified” tomatoes sold every year. A domestic brand recommended is Redpack.
  • Taste test several canned tomatoes to discover a favorite. Look for tomatoes that are fleshy and juicy, ripe from end to end, naturally ripened with few seeds and with a taste balance of acid and sweet. Whole tomatoes with added water/juice may be better than tomatoes canned with added sauce. The added sauce may make a Marinara too thick, but it is all about the taste!
  • Again, I will only add water to the tomatoes, no stock or wine which “muddies” the taste.
  • I will again only use a small dried whole red chile!
  • Fresh basil only, though I do have the dried oregano on the branches purchased in Greek Town Chicago, which is an intriguing alternative. I will pay attention to look for the fresh basil with smaller leaves such as the small potted plants available.
  • A new additional ingredient to this Marinara is seaweed and sea salt. Alla Marinara means “of the sailor”. The historical references are many, but one is the sailor’s trick for deepening the flavor: Their tomato sauce contained seaweed and sea salts which contain glutamates and produce umami, an element that adds a a rounded satisfying and savory flavor.
  • Look for a lightweight pasta pot with a perforated lid such as the Barilla pasta pot Lidia Bastianich uses. She drains the hot water into the sink, but reserves some water in the pasta pot to prevent sticking. If not, I will cook the pasta al dente and then lift it out of the pasta pot and hold it above the hot steam for a moment before adding it to the simmering sauce for final cooking. “Never, never leave pasta sitting around in a colander. In Italy you could go to jail for that.”
  • Never serve Marinara on top of plain pasta. This is the most important rule! Add the al dente pasta to the sauce to heat through and complete the cooking. Serve the sauce coated pasta on the serving plate.
  • No cheese with Marinara! Never serve cheese with fish or seafood either!!!!
  • The meat will be served after the pasta, though for me, this is not a big deal to combine them at serving. I won’t cook the sausage in the sauce. Marinara can be cooked with fish and seafood, added at the last moments of cooking.

The following is written by Julia Moskin, The New York Times. Adapted from Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking by Lidia Bastianich. Click the link below for a cool video.

Homemade marinara is almost as fast and tastes immeasurably better than even the best supermarket sauce — and it’s made with basic pantry ingredients. All the tricks to a bright red, lively-tasting sauce, made just as it is in the south of Italy (no butter, no onions) are in this recipe. Use a skillet instead of the usual saucepan: the water evaporates quickly, so the tomatoes are just cooked through as the sauce becomes thick.

TOTAL TIME
25 minutes                            

Ingredients

  • 1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes,certified D.O.P. if possible
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 7 garlic cloves, peeled and slivered
  • Small dried whole chile, or pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large fresh basil sprig, or 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, more to taste

Preparation

1. Pour tomatoes into a large bowl and crush with your hands. Pour 1 cup water into can and slosh it around to get tomato juices. Reserve.
2. In a large skillet (do not use a deep pot) over medium heat, heat the oil. When it is hot, add garlic.
3. As soon as garlic is sizzling (do not let it brown), add the tomatoes, then the reserved tomato water. Add whole chile or red pepper flakes, oregano (if using) and salt. Stir.
4. Place basil sprig, including stem, on the surface (like a flower). Let it wilt, then submerge in sauce. Simmer sauce until thickened and oil on surface is a deep orange, about 15 minutes. (If using oregano, taste sauce after 10 minutes of simmering, adding more salt and oregano as needed.) Discard basil and chile (if using).
YIELD: Makes about 3 1/2 cups, enough for 1 pound of pasta
           Originally published with             Marinara Worth Mastering

My husband Dave looks for recipes like the research scientist he is. This Marinara Sauce he found scrolling through the New York Times. Here are the two links which have all the info.

http://www.nytimes.com/recipes/1015987/marinara-sauce.html

http://nyti.ms/MbjajG

Balsamic Vinegar Apertif

Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar is Delicious as an Apertif

Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar is Delicious as an Apertif

As an after dinner drink to settle the stomach, balsamic vinegars have long been a favorite. This week I discovered Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar at Peggy Finger’s oil & vinegar shop in Midland. It is addicting! The color is so beautiful and bright and it has a perfect combo of tart and fruitiness!

After drinking a few glasses of wine at a dinner party, an alcohol free digestive like the original and flavored balsamic vinegars we have today are a welcome change to the high alcohol limoncello, grappa, brandies and cordials usually served. They settle the stomach and give us a chance to use our fancy cordial glasses tucked away in our cabinets!  Enjoy!

For info about the craft of making balsamic vinegar:

http://yumfood.org/articles/balsamico.html

Mercato di O & V is Peggy Finger’s shop located on Rodd Street 1/2 block off of Main Street, downtown Midland.

https://www.facebook.com/mercatodiov

Genoese Basil Sauce/Pesto

All the ingredients you need to make pesto!

All the ingredients you need to make pesto!


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Take a stem of leaves in one hand and wipe the leaves with the other using a damp paper towel


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Add to the food processor the basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and olive oil


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Pureed ingredients before adding the cheese. You can freeze the sauce at this point and add the cheeses at a later date when you are ready to serve the Pesto.


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Pour the pureed mixture into a mixing bowl


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Add the Parmesan and Romano cheeses


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Pesto ready for freezing in the ice cube trays and mini muffin tins. When frozen, pop them out and store in Ziploc freezer bags or cartons in the freezer

Pesto ready for the frig!

Pesto ready for the frig!

Dave’s basil was bountiful this year. He filled two large garden pots with 4 plants each. The leaves were not huge and since the plant was beginning to flower, I cut it all down and made five batches of pesto today. That’s about 20 cups of fresh basil leaves!

I have two other Pesto recipes posted on my blog. Today’s recipe is closest to the traditional Genoese Basil Sauce. Genoa is the city where Pesto originates. Christopher Columbus was Genovese and he carried pesto on his ships to the New World, the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. I wonder why I remember all this?

This recipe is to be made in a standard size food processor. It is an adaption of Marcella Hazan’s from her cookbook, The Classical Italian Cookbook. A well-rounded pesto is never made with all Parmesan or all Romano. Marcella and I use 4 parts Parmesan to 1 part Romano in this recipe.

4 cups fresh basil leaves, lightly wiping the leaves with a damp paper towel to clean. Basil does not like to be wet and will brown quickly. I grab a stalk with one hand and then with a damp paper towel wipe the leaves. Then gently tear leaves into two or more small pieces. Be careful not to crush the basil. The purpose is to make fairly even sized pieces for uniform measuring. I prefer the traditional green leaf basil. It makes a nice bright green pesto. The purple basil produces a darker brown-green pesto.

1 cup olive oil

4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed with a heavy knife and peeled (don’t over do the garlic; a very large clove counts as 2 cloves)

2 teaspoons Kosher salt

1/4 cup pine nuts, (about 1-1.5 ounces)

1/4 cup freshly grated Locatelli brand Romano cheese (other brands are fine, but this is my favorite)

1 cup (about 1/4 pound) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

In a food processor place the basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic cloves and salt. Process with the knife blade till well blended. Do not overprocess or allow the basil to heat up. Scrape the sides of the bowl during processing.

Pour the sauce into a medium size bowl and stir in the cheeses. Freeze pesto in ice cube trays  or tiny muffin tins and when frozen, place the cubes in a freezer carton or bag for storage in the freezer. You can also store the pesto in a jar in the refrigerator by keeping a layer of olive oil on the surface and covering with a lid. Presto! Serve with pasta as the original recipe. Use as a spread on tomatoes and fresh mozzarella or sandwiches and bruschetta. Add as a flavoring to soups, sauces and stews. Use as a marinade for chicken.

OPTIONAL: Instead of freezing with the cheese, omit the cheese and add it instead after thawing the cubes. This will give a fresher flavor, but is another step in your preparations.