Saturday, February 25, 2012

Anna's Baked Stuffed Clams

            12 Large clams
1 cup of Seasoned bread crumbs
2 medium garlic cloves minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/8 teaspoon of pepper
1/8 teaspoon of salt (optional)
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Italian seasoning (optional)
10 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 cup of Parmesan or Romano cheese
Clean the clam well with a brush, them open , making sure to pour the juices into a medium size bowl.  Cut the clams into small pieces and put into the clam juice.  Put the 12 clam shell on a baking sheet of foil covered cookie sheet.

Take your parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash, and saute in 5 tablespoons of olive oil on low heat, add the bread crumbs to this mixing it all together for 2 to 3 minutes.  If needed and mix looks dry add more olive oil.  Cook until you see the garlic in the mix turn a golden color.  Once this happens remove it from the stove top.

Take the saute mixture and pour into the medium size clam and juice mixture, and mix well together.

Now spoon the mixture into the clam shells until they are nicely filled.  Sprinkle the cheese lightly over each shell. Sprinkle the baking sheet with remaining olive oil then place the stuffed clams on it.

Preheat the oven at 375 degree oven:  Bake the clams for about 25-30 minutes, when you notice a crust forming on the clams remove from oven.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Easy Gravy or Sauce for Meatballs & Sausage

2 large cans of tomatoes sauce puree
1 can of tomato paste
1/4 cup of olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves
1 small onion chopped
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 cup of red wine
1/2 of Parmesan or Romano cheese
1 1/2 teaspoon of salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon of basil
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 cup of cold water
6 Sweet Sausage pieces (parboil in water ahead) 

In a large pan heat olive oil on medium heat, add the garlic cloves, the onions and pepper.  Saute until ingredients are soft and golden brown for about 3-5 minutes.  Then add the tomatoes sauce, cup of water, red wine, sugar, and cheese and salt, stir well to blend over medium heat.  Add the boiled sausage and  meatballs noted in the blog. 

Please note I like to parboil my sausage ahead and drain to take all the grease out of it which puts less grease and fat into the sauce. You do not need to, but I like it better this way.  I find that it does not take away from the flavor of the gravy, although some may feel otherwise. 

You may also cook this sauce in a slow cooker at low heat for the 4-5 hours, in which case you would saute the garlic, onions, pepper first then turn into slow cooker adding all other ingredients into the slow cooker.  You can fry you meatballs first then turn into the pan or slow cooker, or drop them into the sauce not fried.
I usually do not fry them, but both ways are fine.

This recipe is an easy meat gravy for Pasta.  I will be posting an Italian meat sauce gravy with another blog.

Serve this sauce over your favorite pasta!

Linguine in White Clam Sauce

8 tablespoons of extra virgin oil
4 medium garlic cloves minced
3 anchovies in oil
40 clams, cleaned and scrubbed
1/4 teaspoon of red or black pepper
1/4 teaspoons of oregano 
1/4 teaspoon of basil 
1/2 cup white wine
3/4 cup chopped Italian parsley(fresh) or 1/2 dry

1 pound linguine

Boil in a large pan bring to boil  8 cups of water for linguine.  Set stove at medium heat, in a deep skillet, add  4 tablespoons of olive oil, the add the minced garlic cook for about 3 minutes,  add the anchovies breaking them to dissolve stirring into the oil and garlic about 2 to 3 minutes.

Once anchovies are dissolve slowly add all the clams to the skillet, then the pepper, and oregano and basil and lastly the white wine.  With a soup ladle add about 2 cups of the water that was boiling for the pasta.  Cover the clams and simmer low medium heat until the clams start to open 5-10 minutes.  As you notice the clam open, start removing open clams to a deep bowl.

Now add the linguine to water and cook to your taste!  When the clams are all cooked and out of the pan, increase the heat to high and add the parsley and rest of olive oil. Let cook high until about half the liquid is left.

While the liquid from the clams cooks, shuck the clams out of the shell.

Once your pasta is cooked to your liking add the drained pasta into the clam sauce, cook and stir until the linguine is totally coated with the sauce, add the shucked clams and cook for about 3 minutes more so that all everything blends well together.  

Serve with garlic bread, Italian bread or alone!  Some like to add grated cheese to this dish, its all your own taste.  I would rather not, its not the true way to serve this dish!  However you serve enjoy! 

If you do not have the time to cook and shuck the clams you can get 4 cans of minced clams. 

Cook pasta to your desired taste

In another pan, at medium heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil, add the minced garlic cook for 3 minutes, then add the anchovies break to dissolve stirring into the oil and garlic about 2 to 3 minutes.  Once the anchovies are dissolved add the clams with most of the liquid from the can, then the pepper, and oregano, basil the parsley, lastly add the white wine. heat well to cook the ingredients  through.  Once cooked drain, but do not rinse the pasta.  Toss the Linguine well with the clam sauce until all the flavors blend well together for the best taste.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mozzarella Sticks

1 pound of mozzarella
1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)
3 medium eggs beaten well
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup flour
1 cup seasoned or plain bread crumbs 
Canola oil for frying
Tomato sauce (optional)

Place mozzarella on cutting board and cut into 1/2 inch slices, then cut those slices into 1/2 wide sticks.  Place the sticks on paper towels and pat well.  In a shallow bowl beat the eggs, salt and pepper.  On wax paper evenly spread the flour, and spread the breadcrumbs on another piece of wax paper evenly.  

Dip the mozzarella sticks in egg first, then roll the mozzarella in flour, them dip it again in egg, and lastly dip the mozzarella in the bread crumbs, making sure they are completely coated with the eggs and crumbs. Place on a plate and refrigerate the mozzarella sticks for 40 minutes.  (You can even hold these over night, if you want to prepare them ahead.)

In a deep skillet, pour about 1 inch of canola oil, and heat over medium heat until hot. Start adding your mozzarella sticks making sure not to over crowd them in the pan.  Turn the mozzarella sticks carefully, until they are golden on all sides, about 5-6 minutes.  Once cooked place the mozzarella sticks on a paper towel lined cookie sheet for absorption of the oil onto paper towel.   

These can be served hot alone or with tomato sauce.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lentil Soup (Minestra di Lenticchie)

1 bag of Lentils (Go through the lentils before cooking to take out any impurities and then wash well)
6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 celery stick chopped finely
1 small chopped onion
2 medium cloves of garlic chopped finely
2 carrots diced finely
2 tablespoons of hunts tomato sauce (puree)
1 tablespoon of pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon of salt (optional)
3 tablespoons of dry parsley or fresh
1 teaspoon of Mrs. Dash Italian blend
1/4 pound of Pasta (ditali or spaghetti broken in fours or elbow)

Cook lentils in 6 cups of water, for about 30 minutes in medium size pot. Once cooked put to one side.

While lentils are cooking, in another medium size pot heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil, add celery, onion, garlic and carrots and saute at low heat for about 10 minutes till soft and golden, then add the sauce cook another 5 minutes.  Once tender slowly add the cooked  lentils liquid and all, do not drain lentils. If needed add more water.   Add the pepper, salt, parsley and Mrs. Dash and cook for another 10 minutes bringing to a boil, slowly add pasta into this mixture and cook until tender but not too soft.   Season more if needed to your taste.

Serve with Italian bread, or garlic bread, or just as is.



Saturday, February 18, 2012

Italian Tomato Soup from the Vine!

                                          1 pound of plum tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
1  medium garlic clove finely chopped
1 celery stalk chopped
2 cups of Chicken stock

2 ounces of your favorite soup pasta!
A pinch of salt  (optional)
1/8 teaspoon of pepper
Grated Cheese (optional)

In a large pan put in olive oil, onions, garlic and celery, then add in the plum tomatoes.  Cover and cook for 50 minutes over low heat, checking and stirring occasionally.  Once cooked Transfer the pulpy mixture into a food processor or blender and blend to a smooth puree.  Love the texture of this soup! Push this puree mixture through a strainer (colander) into a clean pan.

Once this is done,  cook over low heat, add the Chicken stock and bring to an even boil, then add our favorite pasta and cook for 10 minutes.  Cook until the pasta is tender but not mushy. Add salt and pepper to taste!

Serve with Italian bread, sprinkle grated cheese if you like!  You can also add cooked rice instead of pasta. This soup is great to have with a meatloaf sandwich, or any sandwich  for that matter.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Stuffed Tomatoes Sicilian Style

8 ripe large ripe tomatoes
10 tablespoons of extra virgin oil
2 onions chopped finely
Anchovy 1 can in oil (optional) but great for taste
2 medium garlic cloves finely chopped
2 cups of seasoned bread crumbs
6-8 black olives  pitted and chopped
2 teaspoons of parsley (fresh or dry)
6 tablespoon of grated cheese (Parmesan or Romano)
1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash Italian Medley
Pinch of salt (optional)

Wash your tomatoes, cut the tops off each one. Scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon and discard the tops and the seeds. Once you do this put them on a paper towel covered plate to drain.

In a medium skillet, heat 6 tablespoons of olive oil over low heat, add the onions, and garlic stirring occasionally making sure not burn for 5-7 minutes or until tender.  Remove the skillet from stove top and stir in the seasoned bread crumbs, olives, anchovy and all herbs.

Using a teaspoon, fill all the tomato shells with the crumb mixture, make sure not to tear the tomatoes.  Place the stuffed tomato shells in a single layer, in a baking dish.  Then sprinkle the shells with the grated cheese and remaining olive oil.

Bake in a preheated oven 350 for 20-25 minutes or until  stuffed tomatoes are tender and golden brown.

These can be served warm or at room temperature.  Serve them with meat, fish and pork or just as a side dish or even with pizza or for a pot luck event.

Great way to use up garden tomatoes when you have a lot left over from a season of gardening. Enjoy!  These can also be stuffed with rice or meat like a stuffed pepper.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Moms Spaghetti in Red Clam Sauce

3 1/2 medium garlic cloves minced
1/8 teaspoon of black pepper or crushed red pepper 
1/3 cup virgin olive oil
about 2 tablespoons of parsley or about 5 sprays of fresh parsley
2 pints of crushed tomatoes
1/8 teaspoon of salt (optional)
White wine (optional) about 3 tablespoons
1 pound of your choice brand of linguine of spaghetti
3 1/2 pounds of clams (if you like you can also use mussels)

Wash and clean your clams well under running water with a brush, then rise them well.  Make sure you get rid of any clams that are not closed or are cracked or broken.

In a pan large pan, big enough to hold the cooked spaghetti and clams, saute on medium heat, the garlic, red/black pepper in the olive oil, until golden about 3 minutes.  Slowly stir in the parsley, adding the crushed tomato and salt. Cook about 8-10 minutes until the tomatoes are tender, then add the clams and cover the pot.  Cook another 8-10 minutes of until you notice that all claims are open.  Make sure to discard any clams that have not opened. 

In another large salted pot (optional salt) bring about 4-5 quarts of water to a boil. Add the pasta, stirring often.  Cook pasta till tender, some like it al dente.  Once pasta is cooked, drain well, then toss it into the pan with the clams.  Stir the pasta and clams together well, at which point you can transfer to a large serving dish.  Serve while hot with Italian bread and a nice glass of white wine.   Enjoy!

Monday, February 6, 2012

When its Sunday its Meatballs

1 pound of lean ground hamburg or 1/2 pound of ground pork and 1/2  pound of lean ground beef
3 eggs (small or medium size)
3/4 to a 1 cup of your favorite seasoned bread crumbs
1 1/2 garlic clove finely chopped
1/4 cup of fresh parsley 
sprinkle of salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese ( you can use Romano if you like or both to measure the 1/4 cup)

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, and blend well until you notice mixture is blended well with all the seasonings.  If you find that it is not moist enough add another egg.

With the help of a tablespoon start forming the meat into the meatballs, making them nice and round.  (if using these for a buffet you can make them with a teaspoon about one inch in diameter.) Or you can roll them in the palm of your hands.

You can drop your meatballs right into a fry pan filled with about 5 tablespoons of Wesson oil or olive oil, at medium heat for about 5 minutes turning them to lightly brown all sides. Once done drop them into your pan of tomato sauce.  (If you are going to fry I suggest putting them on paper towel to pick off the oil, then dropping them in the sauce.)
If you are not going to fry the meatballs, then just drop them into the boiling tomato sauce pan, once you form them.  The meatballs alone take about 25 minutes to cook.  You can make about 20 meatballs at medium size or about 50 buffet style meatballs

Please take note that if you are going to add other meats to the gravy, then make sure you have a large enough pan.  In resent years I have been cooking my gravy in a slow cooker and really love it!

The Sunday Gravy recipe will be added to the blog!   
I  also have some interesting variations that can be used to these meatballs for buffet style entertaining.  


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Gravy and Sunday's

You say tomato and I say tomahto, thus goes the story of gravy vs. sauce.  This has been a long debated issue which I will try to address with this blog, and maybe try to put to rest.  The reason for my family calling it gravy is all about the region, as well as the fact that, the tomato sauce becomes gravy when the meat drippings themselves becomes the very base for the gravy. At this point its all up to the cook of course and how they feel about this explanation.

 I grew up as a child on Federal Hill in Providence, Rhode Island on a street lined with three tenement houses and large porches. The ritual on Sunday mornings was always the same, Church and then home to make homemade meatballs and gravy.  My  Nonna  (Grandmother) would be the one to cook, what are now these valued memories. The smell of her gravy would spread throughout the house and into the stairwells of these beautiful old homes as well as surrounding outside area.  It was a sweet smell of the freshest herbs and ingredients.  The gravy was thick and red, and the white pan on the stove held the gravy and all its riches.  The meatballs, sausage, and beef braciole stuffed and rolled like a Jelly role just added to the flavor of this gravy. The meatballs rolled and then fried in the old heavy fry pan, that came out every Sunday for this special meal. Nonna never measured, she just added a touch of this and a little of that, and yet it was always great, always perfect. Now when I cook my gravy and meatballs, the the aroma reminds me of these days on the Hill and my Nonna cooking those wonderful meals.   Thank you to my Nonna for showing me the way!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Stuffed Pepper Soup Italian Style (Slow Cooker)

1 pound of ground sausage 
1 1/2 teaspoon of minced ground garlic
1 cup of chopped onion
1 6 ounce can of tomato paste
1 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes with all the juice from the can
3 1/2 cups of chopped green peppers ( use green to add color)
4 1/2 cups of chicken broth (you can use regular or low sodium)
2/3 cup of white or brown rice uncooked
3 tablespoons of packed brown sugar (light or dark)
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

In a large pan (skillet) cook ground sausage, garlic and onion over medium heat turning slowly while cooking until browned do not burn.  Once cooked drain any juices that may form from the mixture. Once this is done transfer mixture to a slow cooker.  At this point add all remaining ingredients and stir mixture together slowly.  Cook at low heat for 8-10 hours.  You can add more chicken broth if you feel that it is too thick.

This makes about 6 servings
Cook time is about 8 hours

Note that instead of Sausage you can add 1 pound of ground turkey for a lean soup.

Enjoy with a loaf of Italian bread or a side of white pizza, great for a cold night or Superbowl Sunday!