Roman Bean & Ditali Soup

This is old school pasta with beans. My great grandmother used to cook it this way. There’s no building a flavor base or fancy sea salts. It’s one of those recipes where you put everything in the pot and just make dinner. If you can find fresh roman beans it will taste even better. When you use fresh beans they go in the pot with the other ingredients at the beginning.

1 14 oz can roman beans (drained and rinsed)
3 quarts water
1 large potato (peeled and diced 1/2″ to 3/4″)
1 14 oz can whole tomatoes
2 large carrots (peeled and diced 1/2″ to 3/4″)
1 medium onion diced course
5 basil leaves chopped
1/4 cup pure olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper

1 lb ditali
4 quarts of water
1 tbsp salt

You need an 8-quart pot for the soup and a separate pot to boil the pasta in. Put all the soup ingredients, except the beans, into the pot and bring them to a boil. Boil the soup for 15 minutes. Add the beans. Turn the fire to medium and cook it for 20 minutes and then turn off the fire. At the same time you add the beans start boiling the pasta. When the water comes to a boil add the pasta and boil it for 12 minutes. Strain the water out of the pasta, add the pasta to the soup and serve.

Colomba Story – not so much a recipe

Every one knows what a panetonne is.  Do you know what a Colomba is?  It’s the Easter version of Panetonne.  We get a few cases in from Italy every year.  They just came in this week with the chocolate eggs.  Sorry, I don’t have a recipe for these, but they’re really hard to make.  They might need to be hung upside down like the panetonne.  I’m not sure.

Here’s the official answer:

Colomba pasquale [koˈlomba paˈskwaːle] or colomba di Pasqua [koˈlomba di ˈpaskwa] (“Easter Dove” in English) is an Italian traditional Easter cake, the counterpart of the two well-known Italian Christmas desserts, panettone and pandoro.

The dough for the colomba is made in a similar manner to panettone, with floureggssugar, natural yeast and butter; unlike panettone, it usually contains candied peel and no raisins. The dough is then fashioned into a dove shape (colomba in Italian) and finally is topped with pearl sugar and almonds before being baked. Some manufacturers produce other versions including a popular bread topped with chocolate.[1]

The colomba was commercialised by the Milanese baker and businessman Angelo Motta as an Easter version of the Christmas speciality panettone that Motta foods were producing.

Fritatta

 

It’s the classic Sunday night dinner.  You can put in it whatever you have in the fridge. There’s really no rules, so what I’m going to give you is the process.

One:  get a pan that can go in the oven.

Two:  Roast or saute your vegetables with some salt and olive oil.  I used shredded potatoes browned in the pan with butter, and (roasted mushrooms, peppers, onions).  After those two were done, I put some very thin sliced garlic and shredded cheese in the pan with them.

Three:  Scramble a bunch of eggs.  There are eight eggs in the pan I made.  Put everything in the pan.  Make sure the eggs get around everything, or it’ll break.  I had already used the pan to cook the potatoes, so it was still hot.  The hot pan will start to cook the eggs right away.

Four: Bake the whole thing uncovered on 275 for about twenty minutes to a half hour.  Oh yeah, make sure the oven is hot before you put the eggs into the pan.

Five: Flip it carefully.  I used a spatula to loosen the fritatta from the pan.  Put a dish on top of the pan and flip the pan over with your hand on the dish.  Flip it again onto another dish to get the pretty side facing up.

Sausage & Kale Soup

For at 6 quart pot

Two bunches of Kale – ripped up into bit size pieces
One and half pounds Italian sausage
two 35 oz cans peeled whole tomatoes
Six redskin potatoes – cubed with the skin still on them
One diced onion
One clove of diced garlic
olive oil
salt
peppers
Thyme

Brown the sausage in the oven, 375 degrees 15 minutes.  When it’s ready, set the tray aside to cool.

Put your kale, garlic and onion in the pot first.  Season with a tablespoon of salt, a teaspoon of black pepper, a teaspoon of thyme,a drizzle of oil and a pinch of red pepper.  Cook for a few minutes, until the kale and onions get soft.

Then, put the tomatoes in the pot, and let them cook for another 10 minutes.  Add the potatoes.  Top everything in the pot with water.  Boil until the potatoes are fork tender.

While you wait cut the sausage into bite size pieces.  When the potatoes are ready add the sausage to the pot and let it all cook together for another 12 minutes.

Orzo Pasta Salad


1 lb Orzo Pasta
a little pasta water
1/4 lb pitted Kalamata olives
1 hot pepper finely diced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped Parsley
salt & Pepper

There is a little bit of timing required to make this.  You need to add a little pasta water to the frying pan.  So, the trick is to have the pasta boiled before the olives are done frying.  Don’t worry.  Just adjust the frying pan heat to get the timing right.

Boil the pasta for about ten minutes.

Get the frying pan hot and fry up the olives and diced pepper with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

If the pasta isn’t ready by the time the olives and pepper are done, turn off the fire and wait for it to finish boiling.

When the pasta is ready save a 1/4 cup of pasta water.  Drain the rest.

Put the pasta into the frying pan and start cooking it on medium-high.  Sprinkle in the pasta water as you stir the pasta in the pan to prevent it from sticking to the bottom.

When the water is all absorbed and the pasta has picked up all the flavors from the pan it’s done.

Put eveything from the frying pan into a big bowl and stir in the fresh parsley.

 

Fried Eggplant

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Fried Eggplant

Pan frying is an art form.  

To achieve masterful frying finesse, resulting in perfectly brown crispy edges and creamy soft centers, takes practice.

First, you need someone to show you the basics.

One large eggplant

2 cups of flour

2 cups of seasoned breadcrumbs

5 eggs – scrambled

1 to 2 quarts of corn oil (enough for 2″ – 3″ deep in the pan)

Prep the work station

Line up three bowls: 1st flour, 2nd eggs, 3rd Breadcrumbs.

Cut the tips off the eggplant and slice the rest into 3/4” slices.

Flour & Breading

  1. Put all the eggplant slices into the flour bowl.  Turn them around until all the surfaces are coated with flour.
  2. One at a time dip a piece into the eggs.  Then put the slice into the breadcrumbs.   Pat breadcrumbs firmly all over the piece.
  3. Repeat until they’re all breaded.

Fry

Take your time.  The important thing here is not to rush.

You will be adjusting the fire, and therefore oil temperature a few times while these cook.

** The cook times are estimates you need to see the color change yourself.

Taste one to check if you have to.  **

  1. Get the oil hot.
  2. Add as many pieces to the pan as you can without any overlapping.
  3. Turn the fire down half way.
  4. Let the eggplant cook for  about 4 or 5 minutes.  Until the bottoms start to turn brown.
  5. Turn the fire back up and flip the eggplant slices.
  6. After a minute turn the fire back down and cook the eggplant for around another 5 minutes.

Drain

When they’re done stack them on a wire rack so the extra oil can drain off.

 

rice balls – arancini

 

Rice Balls (Arancini)

This recipe makes 36 rice balls.

Originally, when I planned to write down this recipe, I was concerned that it was for too many, or too large a batch of rice balls.  No one makes just one rice ball, but I thought that the recipe we use in the store was too large.

After I started going through the recipe I realized two things:

  1. All the ingredients are scalable.  Everything from the rice to sauce.  If you want half as much, just use half the ingredients.

  2. If you’re making rice balls for Christmas, or some other party, you still need a few dozen of them at a time.  For example, my mother said she’s only ever made a full, 36 piece, batch of arancini.

So, make as much as you like.  The technique is going to be the same.

Part One: Sauce (filling)

The sauce we make is a mix of ground beef and peas.   There are thousands of different recipes for rice ball filling.   There are no rules here just guidelines.  I bet every town in Sicily has their own style of arancini sauce.

The options for rice ball sauce are limitless, but here’s the way we do it.

This is the easiest sauce in the world to make.  Every step is easy.  And remember, it’s supposed to be a thick sauce, so it cooks fast.  There’s not a lot of extra liquid that will take time to cook down.  When the sauce is done you will be able to scoop it like ice cream onto a big spoon.

Filling / Sauce

3 lbs ground beef

28 oz tomato puree

6 oz tomato paste

1½ tbsp salt

½ tbsp pepper

1 pound frozen peas

½  pint Chopped onions

Put the beef into a pot and turn the fire up high.  Use a wooden spoon to break up and stir the beef as it cooks.  You have to do this the whole time the beef is browning.  When it’s done (not pink anymore) it should also be broken up into small bits.

Drain the beef with a colander (pasta strainer).

Put the meat back into same the pan.  Along with the onions, the tomato paste,  puree and salt & pepper.   Mix the sauce together really well, and let it cook for about 10 minutes.

Cook the sauce on low heat so it doesn’t burn.

When the sauce is hot all the way through, add the peas and keep on cooking until the peas are warmed through, 5 to 10 minutes more.

Did I say to stir the peas into the sauce?  You knew that part, right?

Pour the sauce into a strainer and let it drain for 30 minutes.  You want it dry because too much oil or liquid in the rice will keep the rice balls from sealing together nicely.


Part Two: Rice

Our recipe uses regular long grain white rice.

Rice to water ratio is 2:1

12 cups rice

24 cups water

3 tbsp salt

Our rice is a two to one ratio.  Therefore, you can realistically make as little or as much as you want.

Cooking Directions

Put the rice into the cold water and add the salt.  Stir the rice and then put a cover on the pot.  Bring the water to a boil.  Stir the rice often, or the edges will cook faster than the middle.

Once the water starts to boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and cook the rice for 15 minutes.  Your rice should be slightly al dente.  You’re going to let it steam for a bit afterwards.

When the 15 minutes is up, take the pot off the burner, cover it with saran wrap and let it set for 20 minutes.

Finish Making the Rice

1 ½ lbs grated pecorino cheese

3 – 4 eggs

1 lb of butter

If you change the amount of rice, just change these ingredients by same amount.

Leave the rice in the pot while you add the butter.  Push the butter sticks right into the rice.

After the butter has started to melt dump all the rice into the biggest bowl you have.  Put the cheese into the bowl and knead it into the rice until it’s fully mixed.

Important!

Don’t let the rice get cold.  You don’t have to burn your fingers, but mix the rice while it’s still hot.  All the ingredients will mix together much nicer.

Knead the rice well.  The rice grains should start to smash and break up while you knead them.  Remember, you’re going to be shaping the rice by hand.  It won’t work with loose fluffy rice grains.  The rice will not stick together very well unless the grains are broken up a little.

After the cheese and butter are mixed in, add the eggs and knead the rice thoroughly again.

When you can form a small ball rice in your hands that stays together nicely you’re done kneading.


Part Three: Form the Rice Balls

To assemble rice balls, you need 4 eggs’ whites, some water to keep your hands clean, and a bowl with 2 quarts of unseasoned breadcrumbs.

This part isn’t that hard to do.  It doesn’t even require a lot of finesse, but it’s much easier to learn if you can see someone do it rather than just read the directions.  Therefore, I really recommend watching the video for this part more than just reading the directions.  Check out our Youtube channel to see the video.

4 eggs’ whites

Bowl of clean water

2 quarts of unseasoned breadcrumbs

Assembly

The water is there so you can keep your hands soft and clean.  If they get sticky just rinse your hands.

Grab a handful of rice.  Roll it into a ball.  Then while you hold the ball in one hand make a well in it with your other hand.  Put a big spoonful of sauce into that well.

There’s a little trick to adding the rest of the rice and covering the filling.  You’ve still got the rice ball in your hand right?  With your other hand grab a small handful of rice and smash it flat against the back of your hand with the rice ball in it.  The video will make this clear.

From here it’s pretty simple.  Put the rice you’ve just flattened out over the sauce, and roll the rice ball around in your hands until you smooth out the bumpy spots and make a nice sphere.  If you need more rice to help fill in rough or thin spot go ahead and add it.

I would recommend finishing all the rice balls through this step first before you move on to the breading.

It’s a smart idea to keep the rice balls that you’ve just made covered with saran wrap while you’re finishing the rest.  If you take too long, they can start to dry out.

Breading

For each rice ball pick up a pinch of egg whites and rub the egg around the outside of the rice ball.

From there, put the rice ball into the bowl with the bread crumbs.  Cover the ball thoroughly, and then rub the bread crumbs firmly onto the rice ball.


Part Four: Frying

It’s faster if you do the frying at the same time as you’re doing the breading.  Bread one ball, drop it in the oil.  Bread another, turn the first one in the oil, and add the second.  Repeat until they’re all done.  Cooking them one at a time takes forever.  Don’t torture yourself like that.

The rice balls have to be completely submerged in the oil while they’re frying.

Deep sauce pots work the best at home.  The more rice balls you can cook at once the faster it will go.  If you only have small pots, use more than one at a time.

Fill the pot with enough oil to completely cover the rice balls while they cook.  Keep the fire low, so the oil doesn’t get to hot.

Turn each one periodically (once a minute or so).  When the outside is solid and golden brown they’re done.  It takes about 15 to 20 minutes for one to cook.  To test if a rice ball is done, take one out of the oil and give it a good tap with your fingernail.  If it is solid it’s done.

Fried Zucchini on Sunday Pasta

fried zucchinizucchini on pasta

What it the best thing to put on top of a dish of pasta?

If it’s summer, you can get away with fresh basil.  Just  rip up some fresh basil leaves on to the top of each dish you eat.

What got everybody in the house excited on Sundays was if mom or dad was frying some zucchini for the pasta.

 

This couldn’t be simpler.

Slice zucchini into thick round slices

Fry them in olive oil until they are nice and brown.

While they’re still hot season the zucchini with a sprinkle of salt and a half sprinkle of pepper.

Set each piece gently on a piece of paper towel until the pasta is ready.

Put them on top of your dish of pasta.

Olive Bread

oliv bread

 

Dough

kalamata olives

fresh thyme

olive oil

After the dough has risen lay it flat on the table.  Chop up the olives and spread them and the thyme onto the dough.  Fold the toppings into the dough and let it rise for another hour.  To have it rise the best, put the dough in a bowl and cover it with a saran wrap and leave it in the sun.

 

When you bake the bread drizzle a good amount of olive oil on top, and bake it in a hot oven, 450 degrees for 20 minutes.   Check to see if the bottom is brown.  If it’s not, bake the bread for another 10 minutes.