Sunday, June 28, 2020

Shredded Red Cabbage Salad

My son Joe has become quite the healthy chef during this Stay at Home crisis. (COVID 19) This salad is not only healthy and delicious but also a refreshing side dish during the long hot days of summer.

        Ingredients:
      • 1/2 medium red cabbage, core discarded and sliced thinly
      • Small bunch flat leaf parsley, stems discarded and chopped
      • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
      • Juice of 1/2 lemon
      • Salt and pepper
      • 1 Tbs Red Wine Vinegar
      • 1 tsp sugar
      1. Put the cabbage in a colander, add 1 tbsp salt and massage well. Leave on a plate until the cabbage has softened a little, at least 30 minutes, longer if you can.
      2. Rinse and drain the cabbage. Mix with the parsley, olive oil and lemon juice, reserving some of the parsley to scatter on top. Season. Serve with a sprinkling of parsley.
      Note: Add more or less vinegar and sugar to taste. Some may like a little more or less.

    Rice Ball Casserole

    My niece Christine inherited the cooking and baking genes of the Mancuso/LaSasso families. This girl is rocking and rolling in the kitchen.  She has donated many delicious recipes to her old aunt and this one is exceptional.  If you love Sicilian Rice Balls but don't dare attempt to make them...try her recipe for Rice Ball Casserole. You will not be disappointed.



    Ingredients
    • 3 cups long grain rice uncooked
    • 6 cups of water
    • 3 eggs
    • 3 Tbsp butter
    • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/8 tsp black pepper
    • 1 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1 pound 90% lean ground beef
    • 1 garlic clove- diced
    • 1 medium onion- chopped
    • 1 cup frozen peas
    • 28-ounces (3 +1/2 cups) Mom's Quick Marinara Sauce - divided
    • 2 Tbsp grated cheese
    •  olive oil cooking spray
    • 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
    • 1+ 1/2 cup shredded part-skim/whole milk mozzarella
    • Extra heated marinara sauce needed for serving

    1. First, cook the rice with 6 cups of water, add 1 teaspoon of salt, and follow directions on the package. Transfer rice to a large mixing bowl, add the butter, mix, and set aside to cool.
    2. In the meantime, using a medium skillet, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil for 2 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook meat until browned and well cooked. Using a wooden spoon, break the chopped meat while cooking. Season with salt and pepper. Add peas and 8 ounces (1 cup) of tomato sauce. Cover with a lid and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. Turn off heat.
    3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    4. In a large mixing bowl, combine rice with eggs, pecorino cheese, 8-ounces (1 cup) of marinara sauce, and mix well. Rice will be sticky.
    5. Spray a 13 x 9 casserole dish, including all four sides, with cooking spray. Add breadcrumbs to the baking dish, roll the dish until bottom and all sides are coated with breadcrumbs.
    6. Take half of the rice mixture and cover the bottom of the dish and pressing down to form a layer.
    7. Add the entire meat and peas mixture to cover the rice. Spread an additional ladle (or about 1/2 cup, or more if needed) of marinara sauce over the meat and peas mixture. Then scatter with a layer of shredded mozzarella on top.
    8. Add the remaining rice and press with the back of a spoon until the layer is even.
    9. Top with remaining marinara sauce. Sprinkle with some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and top with a layer of shredded mozzarella.
    10. Cover with foil and Bake @ 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5 minutes until the mozzarella is melted. Remove and cut into 12 squares. Serve with extra sauce heated.
    11. Serves 8 to 12
    Note: You may want to cut this recipe in half for smaller gatherings.


    Saturday, June 27, 2020

    Fried Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

        



    It's that time of the year again. Zucchini flowers are blooming. Since we all have that extra time to stop and smell the roses (COVID 19), why not pick a few zucchini flowers while you're out there and turn them into a wonderful treat. I found these recipes online with a variety of stuffings and wanted to share them

    For the Batter:
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 8-9 tablespoons flour
    • 1/4 cup milk 
     
    For the Stuffing:
    • 8-10 zucchini flowers
    • 1 small fresh mozzarella cut into small cubes
    • 3-4 slices prosciutto cut into small strips
    Instructions
    In a medium-sized bowl using a whisk beat eggs well, whisk in salt, then flour 1 tablespoon at a time ( first 5 tablespoons) then add milk, whisk until smooth, and then add last 3-4 tablespoons, and continue whisking until smooth, should be thick enough to coat the zucchini.**
    To Clean the zucchini, trim the top of the flower, then cut down the middle and remove the middle stem (stamen) leave approximately 1/2 inch (1 centimeter) of stem. Rinse and towel dry.
    Stuff the flower with approximately 3 cubes of mozzarella and 3 strips of prosciutto (if you like anchovies then you can substitute them for the prosciutto). Dip in batter, coat well, fry till golden in hot oil, drain on paper towels then serve. Enjoy!

    Alternate Stuffings:

    Goat Cheese Stuffing: 
    • 1/3 cup (2 ounces) goat cheese, at room temperature
    • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 2 teaspoons heavy cream
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
    • 1 green onion, finely chopped
    • Salt & Pepper to taste

    Ricotta Stuffing :

    • 1 cup ricotta
    • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped mint
    • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
    • Kosher salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper


    Monday, March 26, 2018

    Mom's Easter Grain Pie

    The celebration of Easter Sunday is approaching. It's a time for rejoicing and celebrating the Resurrection of Christ.

    In the Mancuso/Esposito household, Holy Saturday was celebrated in a special way.  My son, Marty, refers to it as Easter Pie Saturday.

    My Mom would start preparing the baked goods on Holy Thursday and bake right into Saturday morning.... Braided sweet Easter Bread with brightly colored hard boiled eggs, Black Pepper Taralli, Orange Glazed Cookies, Pizzagaina (Rustica),  Easter Pasta Pie and of course homemade Grain Pie.

    Grain Pie was the most complicated recipe of all. There were actual "steps" that needed to be taken to complete this masterpiece.  Over the years, I have tried my best to keep this tradition alive.  Lucky for me, my future daughter-in-law, Brittany, has mastered this art and who I gladly hand the torch over to.



    Grain Pie

    Step 1
    • 1/2 lb uncooked or 1 lb whole wheat cooked grain 
    • 1/2 tsp salt 
    • 1/2 tsp orange zest 
    • 1/4 cup chopped citron 
    • 1 tbs sugar 
    • 1/2 cup evaporated milk 
    Soak uncooked grain overnight in water in the refrigerator.
    Drain water and cook similar to rice doubling the amount of water to the amount of grain.
    Add salt, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer over low flame for 1 hour stirring occasionally to prevent sticking
    After one hour, add evaporate milk, sugar, citron and orange zest. Bring to a simmer and cook for additional 1/2 hour.
    Cool.

    Step 2
    • 1 1/2 lb of ricotta 
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar 
    • 6 egg yolks 
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
    • 1 tsp almond extract 
    • 1/4 cup chopped citron 
    • 1 package instant vanilla pudding 
    • Juice of 1/2 fresh orange 
    • Juice of 1/2 fresh grapefruit 
    Beat with mixer until well blended

    Step 3
    • 6 egg whites 
    • 1 tbs sugar 
    • 1/4 tsp lemon juice 
    Beat until stiff

    Step 4

    In a large bowl, mix Step 1 and Step 2 together then fold in Step 3

    Step 5 - Dough
    • 2 1/2 cups of flour 
    • 1/2 cup sugar 
    • 1/4 tsp salt 
    • 1 heaping tsp baking powder 
    • 3 eggs 
    • 1/4 cup milk 
    • 1 stick softened margarine 
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
    • 1/2 tsp almond extract 
    Mix dry ingredients in mixer, add milk, margarine, extract and eggs one a time.
    Knead dough and form 4 dough balls. Add more flour as needed.
    Make ahead and refrigerate for easier rolling.

    Roll dough and press into two 10" deep dish greased pie pans. Fill pie pans with Ricotta mixture.
    Roll remaining dough and cut into lattice pieces making a criss-cross design over filling and around each pan.
    Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour or until golden brown.

    Britt, my mom would have been so proud. You are only lucky man, Mike.

    Saturday, July 18, 2015

    Italian Doughnut....Zeppole

    The Italian Doughnut.....In Brooklyn, we grew up eating zeppoles. They were a main attraction at all of the Italian Feasts and Church Carnivals. My grandma, Eva, would make them during the holidays and my mom carried on the tradition. I used to make them when the kids were younger but now with all the hype about healthy eating, the tradition fell by the wayside.

    The first time I went to the Monmouth County Fair in NJ, I was introduced to Funnel Cakes.... same idea, different shape. Even though, the New Jersey version are delish, I still miss the old fashion chewy Zeppole. I saw this recipe on FB and it is exactly the same as the one I have in my old recipe box. If you're in the mood for a cheat, try it.

    Zeppole

    Ingredients:
    • 1 cup flour
    • 2 1/4 tsp baking soda
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1 cup ricotta
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 eggs, well beaten
    • Confectioners sugar for garnish
    • Vegetable Oil for frying
    1. Pour about 2-3 inches of oil into a 3-quart pot and heat over medium-high flame.
    2. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
    3. Add in eggs, vanilla and ricotta and mix well. The consistency will be like a thick batter.
    4. When oil is hot (about 375 degrees), start frying in small batches of 3 or 4 at a time using about 1 tablespoon of batter for each zeppole. The batter will puff up when dropped in the hot oil.
    5. Fry about 3 minutes or until deeply and evenly browned on all sides, flipping over about half way through.
    Transfer fried zeppole to paper towels to absorb excess oil and sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.  You can also use regular granulated sugar, if desired.
    Serve warm.

    Sunday, April 19, 2015

    Fresh Berry Slab Pie


    Saw this on FB.  What a great recipe.  This is not only easy but it's a patriotic addition to the Memorial Day or Fourth of July dessert table.  

    Fresh Berry Slab Pie
    • 1 box Pillsbury™ refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box
    • 2 packages (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
    • 2/3 cup sugar
    • 1 tablespoon milk
    • 6 cups assorted fresh berries (sliced strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
    • 1 cup strawberry glaze
    1. Heat oven to 450°F. Remove pie crusts from pouches. On lightly floured surface, unroll and stack crusts one on top of the other. Roll to 17x12-inch rectangle. Fit crust into ungreased 15x10x1-inch pan, pressing onto corners. Fold extra crust even with edges of pan. Prick with fork. Crimp edges. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
    2. In medium bowl, mix cream cheese, sugar and milk until smooth. Spread into crust-lined pan. Refrigerate about 1 hour or until set.
    3. Gently mix berries and strawberry glaze. Spoon berry mixture on top of cream cheese-topped pie crust. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

    Triple Chocolate Fudge Cookies

    Cake Mix Chocolate Cookies

    This cookie put a big smile on Tom "TheBomb" Verni's face. Try it.   You won't be disappointed.

    Triple Chocolate Fudge Cookies
    • 1 box Betty Crocker™ SuperMoist™ Triple Chocolate Fudge cake mix 
    • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    1. Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). In large bowl, mix cake mix, oil, vanilla and eggs with spoon until dough forms.
    2. Refrigerate dough 15 to 30 minutes or as needed for easier handling. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in sugar. On ungreased cookie sheets, place balls about 2 inches apart.
    3. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until set. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Store tightly covered.