Friday, May 25, 2012

New Website and URL

Hello friends!

If you don't already know or if you are finding this blog for the first time I want you to know that my blog has been moved from blogspot. You can find my new layout with a much cleaner look, easy search, favorite recipe drop down and new links. You can still listen to the music at your own leisure and you can turn it on or off as you like.   All my older recipes can still be found by using the search button and more recipes will be added to the drop down in time. If you follow me in a reader please change the url to www.myitaliangrandmother.com. Thank you and I hope you enjoy the new website!

Michele

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Swedish Apple Pie

It's Dinner Divas time and once again it was my turn to make dessert.  The theme was Swedish food which is not the easiest to work with but I was able to find a Swedish dessert thanks to Stacey Snacks!  This was easy enough that I was able to make it and not worry too much about it being perfect.  It is a very simple rustic dish that everyone seemed pleased with....even though I forgot to peel the apples! Talk about rustic!  If you ever find yourself with an abundance of apples you've got to give Swedish Apple Pie a try. 



Swedish Apple Pie
Source: Stacey Snacks


Ingredients:

5 medium apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup sugar (for sprinkling)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cloves

Topping:

1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
3/4 cup butter (1 and 1/2 sticks)
1 egg


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9" pie pan and fill with sliced apples & walnuts.

Mix the 1/4 cup sugar with the cinnamon and cloves. Sprinkle over apples and coat well.

Melt butter and add remaining ingredients (flour, sugar and egg). Pour the batter over apples and spread with a rubber spatula.

Bake for about 45 minutes or until golden.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Orechiette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Pesto

I've always had mixed feelings about Anne Burrell.  She has such a strange personality and says weird things (like calling the yummy stuff that sticks to the bottom of a pan, crud.) that turn me off but her recipes always look delicious.  So when I found out that she had a cookbook coming out I immediately put it on my Christmas list.  My parents gave it to me as one of my gifts (thanks mom and dad!) and now I have half the book covered in post it notes.  I really enjoy reading cookbooks as much as I enjoy the recipes.  I like to get to know the story behind the chef and learn what makes them different.  One of the things I learned from reading Cook Like a Rock Star is that Anne Burrell is not a huge fan of black pepper.  Guess what, either am I.  In almost all of my recipes I write salt and pepper to taste as an ingredient however, I often leave out the pepper or put very little.  I know this may seem silly but it was almost liberating to read that salt and pepper DON'T always have to go together.  It is perfectly OK to leave out the pepper!  So from now on I am letting go of the rule that I somehow learned about where you add salt you add pepper.  Thanks Anne!

I followed this recipe pretty much word for word except I only used anout one-third of the pesto and as always I keep Pecorino Romano cheese in my house so that's what I use.  Other than that the only change I would make next time is to use the full pound of sausage.  This was a fantastic recipe and I can't wait to make some more pasta to eat with the leftover pesto! Just thinking that if you left out the sausage this would be a great meal to serve on one of those meatless nights during Lent. 

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe Pesto and Sausage

Source: Cook Like a Rockstar by Anne Burrell

Ingredients:

For the Pesto:

Kosher Salt
1 bunches of broccoli rabe, tough lower stems removed, coarsely chopped into 1-inch lengths
1/2 cup chopped pistachios
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup mascarpone

For the Pasta:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 pound Italian sausage, sweet or spicy, casings removed
1 pound orecchiette
Big fat finishing oil
Freshly grated Parmigiano

Directions:

For the Pesto:

1.  Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.  Drop the rabe into the water, give it a swish, and remove it immediately, saving the water to cook your pasta in later.

2.  Reserve a cup of the rabe.  Toss the rest in a food processor and pulse, pulse, pulse until you have a coarse paste.  Add the pistachios and Parm and puree until smooth.  If it seems dry, drizzle in a little olive oil while the machine is running.  It should be slightly bitter, nutty, and creamy at the same time. Reserve.

For the Pasta:

1.  Coat a large saute pan with olive oil and bring a medium-high heat.  Add the sausage, using a spoon to break it up, and cook until brown and crumbly, 8-10 minutes.

2. Bring your broccoli rabe water back to a boil and toss in the pasta, cooking for 1 minute less than the package recommends.  Drain the pasta and add it, along with 1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water, the reserved rabe, and two-thirds of the pesto, to the pan with the sausage.  Stir to combine and cook until the water evaporates and the pesto is clinging to the pasta.  Remove from the heat, drizzle with some big fat finishing oil, sprinkle with more Parm, and stir vigorously to combine.  Divide among bowls and serve immediately. 
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.


The dish I served this in is microwave and oven safe.  It can be found by clicking here. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Spiced Applesauce - Secret Recipe Club

It's that time again, time for the Secret Recipe Club!  If you don't already know SRC is a group of bloggers that are assigned a secret blog and we each pick a recipe from our assigned blog and post it on ours with links to the original source.  It is a great way to discover new blogs and have others discover ours.   This month I was assigned Pepper and Sherry , a blog from England.  This was brand new to me and I there were a ton of recipes I wanted to try.  Unfortunately for this blog but wonderful for my business, the past two months have been extremely busy and I hardly cooked much at all.  I was planning on making the Cottage Pie because it has so many unique ingredients than what you normally find in Shepherd's Pie, such as dried Shitake mushrooms and a red chile.  I will get to this as soon as I can but if you try it before me please let me know.  It looks divine!

I decided to make Appelmoes also known as Dutch Apple Sauce.  I've been wanting to make apple sauce (and baked apples) all season and I loved the spices that are added.  I also picked this because my nieces and nephew love apple sauce and eat it as a snack all the time.  I thought that they might like to try a homemade version and since I'll be seeing them tomorrow it was a perfect fit.  This recipe couldn't have been easier and yet it is still full of flavor.  You can eat it as is or use it as an accompaniment to pork or something I love...Pierogies (Steve thinks that is so weird)! I didn't make many changes to the recipe at all.  I just left out the cardamom because I couldn't find a small container and I didn't want to buy a big bottle for $7 that I may not use again.  I don't think that mattered too much.  I also reduced the amount of some of the spices because I wanted to make sure the kids would eat it and it wouldn't be too strong on their delicate palettes.  I will post the recipe with my changes but you can view the original recipe (and check out all the other fantastic recipes) by clicking here

Spiced Applesauce


Ingredients:

4 cortland apples
2 tablespoons brown sugar 
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon 
1/4 tsp ground ginger 
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 
2 whole cloves

Directions:
  1. Very simply, peel and chop the apples, place in the saucepan with the sugar and spices and only about 1/2 cup of water.
  2. Bring to the boil and then cover, turn down to a low heat and cook, covered, for thirty minutes.
  3. The apples should now be soft so bring up the heat and stir until it thickens into a good, proper sauce.  (I used a potato masher so the sauce wouldn't be too chunky for the kiddies.)







Sunday, February 12, 2012

Teriyaki Mini Meatballs

We went to a Superbowl party last week and I knew that I wanted to make those Buffalo Chicken Meatballs again.  They were damn good!  I was having fun with the mini meatballs so I thought I'd try another one.  Steve was looking for an Asian style meatball so I made my usual meatballs (minus the Romano cheese and just a couple of additions) and found this fantastic sauce recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  What a great find her blog is!  You should check it out! I followed her ingredients for sauce but I thickened it with a little butter in flour instead of the cornstarch but either method is fine.  I also added some sesame seeds and later thought some sliced scallions would be good so I'll try that next time.  Let me just tell you, I definitely scored with those buffalo chicken meatballs but the teriyaki meatballs were a Touchdown!

Teriyaki Mini Meatballs
 
Yield: 38-40 meatballs 

Meatballs:

1 lb ground beef (85% lean)
3 large gloves garlic (minced)
2 tablespoons milk
1 egg
salt and pepper, to taste
½ cup bread crumbs
1  tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon Teriyikai Sauce

Directions:


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  
Mix all ingredients together and form mini meatballs.  Place on a greased baking pan and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until nicely browned. 


Sauce:


slightly adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
 
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 3/4 cups water
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablspoons sesame seeds
1/2 cup sliced scallions


Directions:


In a bowl whisk soy sauce, water, ginger, garlic powder, brown sugar and honey in a bowl. In a small sauce pot melt 2 tablespoons of butter and then add 2 tablespoons of flour.  Whisk together and let cook for 1 minute.  Add the sauce mixture and let cook until combined and thickened.   Add meatballs to pot and let simmer for about 10 minutes.  Garnish with sesame seeds and sliced scallions 




So what do you think of my new dish?  It's called a split server.  Have any suggestions on how else to cook in it/serve in it?  It's oven safe up to 450 degrees.  You can see the details here





Click here for a printable version of this recipe.  

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Farro salad


Say goodbye to boring rice salad forever!  Farro is a grain that reminds me of barley as it has great texture and a chewy bite.  I’ve used it in place or Arborio rice and made Farroto.  It was delicious.  I’ll be making that again and posting it for you here.  It’s a great blank canvas but has a lot more interesting flavor that any rice does (in my humble opinion).  Try adding this to soups instead of pasta or with some sauteed veggies. Most supermarkets carry Farro now and it is affordable at about $3.99 per pound. 


Farro Salad

Serves 4 as a side dish

Ingredients:

1 cup Farro, rinsed
1 tomato, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons muffaletta salad, olive tapenade or chopped olives
1 tablespoon capers
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1celery stalk, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste
Red wine vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Combine Farro, salt and 3 cups water in a small saucepan.  Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 15- 20 mins.  The Farro should have a bit of a bite to it.  Drain and add to a large bowl to cool.  To the bowl add olives, tomato, scallion, celery, garlic and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil and vinegar to taste.  Toss and taste to adjust seasonings.  Serve room temperature.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Mini Meatballs

Happy New Year Friends! I hope everyone had a safe evening last night!  Thank you for spending 2011 reading my blog and trying new recipes with me.  I appreciate all the wonderful emails I get and am so happy when you share with me that you've tried a recipe and what you thought. Thank you!  Here's to another year together!

About a month ago I was watching Rachael Ray's talk show and saw these two guys talking about meatballs.  Of course, I perked up and started paying closer attention.  The first thing I noticed was that they were not Italian...but they are experts in meatballs and have a restaurant called The Meatballs shop.  How cool is that?!?! I watched them make Buffalo Chicken Mini Meatballs and I thought that it would such a great appetizer for New Year's Eve or Superbowl or anytime we are getting people together.  A few weeks went by and I forgot all about these guys until I was doing some Christmas Shopping and came across their cookbook.  I did a quick flip through and saw so many nontraditional meatball recipes that caught my eye.  The Spaniard - pork chorizo and manchego, Mediterranean Lamb balls - which have raisins, walnuts and mint and Gobble Gobble balls that are made with turkey, garlic croutons and dried cranberries are just a few that interested me.  Of course, I bought the book and so I tried the Buffalo Chicken Balls first.  They were a big hit and I loved them.  I brought them to a party already prepared but not cooked and didn't bring the cookbook with me.  I realize now that I should have had the oven at 450 instead of 400 which is why they didn't get as dark as the ones in the cookbook photo but that's okay.  They still tasted great!


Speaking of photos what do you think of my photo of the meatballs?  Hopefully it's better than what you're used to seeing here because I got a brand new camera for Christmas! I still need to learn how to use it properly but I can already see a difference.   

Buffalo Chicken Mini Meatballs

From The Meatball Shop Cookbook
by Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup Franks’s Redhot sauce
1 pound ground chicken, preferably thigh meat
1 large egg
½ celery stalk, minced
¾ cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450° F.  Drizzle the vegetable oil into a 9x13 inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface.  Set aside.

Combine the butter and hot sauce in a small saucepan, and cook over low heat, whisking until the butter is melted and fully incorporated.  Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes.

Combine the hot sauce mixture, ground chicken, egg, celery, bread crumbs, and salt in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated.

Roll the mixture into round, ¾ inch balls, making sure the pack the meat firmly.  Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, being careful to line them up snugly and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid.  The meatballs should be touching one another.  

Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through.  A meat thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball should read 165°F.  

Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving. 

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Appetizer Party Platter


I'm always looking for easy appetizers to bring to a party or to make ahead when I'm hosting a party in my own home. It's easy to fall into a rut and make the same boring appetizers over and over, I'm guilty of it myself. I created this appetizer plate with some of the usual items but tried to add something different to make them feel new again.  The stuffed mushrooms and peppers had the usual bread crumb filling but I added some crispy prosciutto to the mixture. On the mushrooms I added a little piece of Italian Fontina cheese to the top of each one. The potatoes (trader joe's teeny tiny potatoes) were sauteed with shallots sundried tomatoes and then tossed with a premade muffaletta salad.  Recipes to come soon!


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Aunt Maryann's Chicken and Rice


Hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and enjoyed your time with your families!  I had a great Christmas and unfortunately have ended it with a cold.  I wanted some comfort food and this one has always been like a warm hug on a cold day. Aunt Maryann has been making her chicken and rice for as long as I can remember.  It's famous in our family! It's not the Spanish chicken and rice that probably comes to mind.  This is another one of those red sauce dishes that my family loves.  It's also one of those dishes that is great the next day (just don't heat it in the microwave, it makes chicken taste funny) and I even love it room temperature.  Add peas to it if you'd like to add some color or maybe some chopped parsley for a little pop.  Aunt Maryann doesn't do that but she said it would  be acceptable.   You can use the entire chicken for this recipe but I've been removing the back and the wings and freezing it for stock.  There isn't too much meat there and it will serve me better when I make soup. The only additions I made were adding about 1 tsp Italian seasoning and 2 frozen basil cubes because I like to see the specks of color throughout the dish and I use a whole onion.    Here is Aunt Maryann's recipe as she gave it to me. 

Aunt Maryann’s Chicken and Rice

Serves 4


Ingredients:


2 tbsp. olive oil
1 – 16 oz. can Delmonte tomato sauce
1 can water
1 whole chicken cut up and cleaned
½ medium size onion
2 cloves of garlic chopped
2 cups white rice
4 cups warm water
2 tbsp. parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

In a Dutch Oven heat oil and brown chicken.  Remove chicken and set aside.
Lower flame and Saute onion and garlic until translucent.
Add s, and one can of water (from the delmonte sauce) and stir.  Add cheese salt and pepper, stir well. When sauce reaches a simmer return chicken to the pan and make sure it is covered with the sauce, cover with lid.  Let the sauce cook for ½ hour. 
Add 4 cups of water to sauce and let it come to a boil.  Add ½ tsp of salt or to taste.  Add white rice, stir frequently.  Let cook until all liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked approximately 30 minutes.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Shot Glass Apple Parfaits

Here's another item from my cookie exchange brunch.  This brilliant and adorable idea came from Jersey Girl Cooks.  It's a great addition to a brunch menu because you can make them ahead of time and it's a healthy option.  I don't know about you  but if I was at a party and full size yogurt parfaits were served next to lots of savory exciting food I would totally pass it up.  However, this is something that veryone can partake in because it's just a few bites!  I topped mine with pecan praline granola from trader joes and  left some plain with just a sprinkle of cinnamon on top for a guest who can't eat nuts.  I made mine with only 2 chopped apples because these dishes are so tiny.  My mom bought this little set for me for Christmas last year and I just got around to using them.  They came with these tiny little plates, forks and spoons!  They are resusable OR disposable.

Shot Glass Apple Parfaits


The amount of ingredients you need will vary with the size of your shot glasses.

Ingredients:

4 medium apples, cored and chopped into 1 inch cubes
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla paste – if you do not have vanilla paste you can regular vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
24oz. vanilla flavored Greek yogurt
granola

Directions:

Take chopped apples and put in large bowl. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice and vanilla paste, stir and let sit for 30 minutes. The apples will be sitting in a bowl of sugary liquid. Take apples and juice and put into saucepan on the stove. Simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the apples are soft but not falling apart. The sugar mixture should thicken up a bit. Remove from heat and let cool. Layer the yogurt and cooled apple mixture into 12 shot glasses (less or more depending on the size of your glasses). Continue until you reach the top of each glass, then sprinkle with the granola.