Sunday, January 30, 2005


Ever wonder what to do with - or toss - stale bread? Croutons for salads, soups, chowders, or a dozen other things are great tasting, and easy to make.

• 6-8 slices of stale bread, preferably white - but ANY kind - except rye. And more slices if you have them.
• Garlic powder
• Powdered Thyme
• Powdered Rosemary
• Salt
• Pepper
.• 3 TBS Olive oil
• 3 TBS butter

Dice/slice bread into half inch pieces (Crust excluded.)Heat pan to hot with olive oil and butter and just before smoking stage, add bread cubes into pan, sprinkle with rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Stir constantly until bread cubes are a golden toasty color, and appear dry. Remove bread cubes, place on paper towel to degrease, and place in container if you're not going to use them right away. Refrigerate. They are so good in soups and anything that calls for or suggests croutons.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

White Wine Clam Sauce

This recipe is delicious, but doesn't compare to Mario's White Clam Sauce - Joseph will know what I refer to. Ah Boston - the land of the free and the home of great Italian food. I still remember that visit. Joseph served me fresh Italian sausage and pasta that he bought at a local Italian store along with a fresh block of parmesan cheese that he grated for our meal. After eating Joe's fantastic meal, we went off to Mario's. I was SO full!! Once we got to Mario's, we talked and talked; the chianti started to flow and my appetite was fully renewed. Then Mario asked what I liked in the way of food. He went off to the kitchen and made up a huge batch of deep fried whole, small fishes served over a bed of lettuce, and a dipping sauce and I wish I could remember what was in it. I don't remember what kind of fish they were, but OH MY; unbelievably delicious! After more Chianti - the supply which never ran dry, and an hour or so later, Mario came out with an enormous bowl of linguini with white clam sauce - a sauce that Mother Theresa, Emeril, and Mama Leone would have cried over. After the linguini, we went back to the apartment, napped, and mentally prepared for the party later that evening. I made it through about 30-minutes of more food, wine, and the gathering. I slowly walked back to the apartment and went to sleep.

12 Ounces Chopped Clams ( Reserve Juice)
4 Ounces Butter
4 Ounces GOOD Italian olive oil
1/4 cup Chablis Wine - the sweeter the better
1 Medium onion, diced
4 tsp finely chopped Garlic
2 tsp fresh finely chopped Italian parsley
Salt and white pepper to taste

Drain clams and reserve juice - and/or add a bottle of clam juice. Sautee onion in olive oil, then add garlic and stir. Add clams and parsley. Turn off heat. Add butter. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve over 'al dente' linguine, and garlic bread which is also posted here.

As my dear Aunt Anna and Mario said to me many times: Mangia, MANGIA!!! you are so skinny - eat - EAT! I ate!! Oi! Did I EVER eat!!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Garlic Bread - the REAL thing!

If you go through all the trouble of making Italian bread - whether it be sourdough or your favorite recipe, PLEASE, do NOT ruin it by slathering, soaking, or otherwise decimating it with tons of grease and garlic powder and/or garlic salt! Garlic bread is a Sicilian thing that requires a delicate hint of garlic and the best olive oil you can afford.

• 1 loaf of fresh Italian bread
• 2-3 cloves of garlic - peeled and cut in half lengthwise
• Olive oil

Cut 1" thick slices of Italian bread. Place on pan under the broiler. When toasted to your liking, turn bread over and toast the second side. Remove toasted bread, rub one side of the bread with the sliced garlic buds, then lightly spritz the slices with olive oil. Try it! Everyone I know who has made it this way, has never gone back to the grease soaked, bitter garlicky stuff they used to make.

Anise Pecan/Raisin Rolls

Dough Ingredients

2 packages of yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs
5 cups flour
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp Crushed Anise seed

To make dough: Soften yeast in warm water with 1 teaspoon of sugar for 10 minutes. Scald milk and pour into large bowl. Add remaining sugar and salt and cool. Stir yeast into cooled milk mixture, beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in 2 cups flour, mix well. Add oil and beat well. Add the remaining flour and mix well. A bread machine works well here FOR KNEADING ONLY. Let rest 10 minutes. Knead dough on a floured surface for an additional 1-minute. Put dough into oiled bowl and turn to coat all sides. Cover and let rise in a warm place 1 hour. Punch down dough and let rise again for 45 minutes. Punch down dough again and divide into 2 pieces.

Roll each half into a rectangle and fill the middle of the dough with the raisen mixture..

Roll up each filled rectangle like a jelly roll - wetting where the ends join - to seal the roll. Cut into 12 slices. Place slices, cut side down into prepared pan. Let rise 45 minutes. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake another 20 minutes. Let dough cool in pan 5 minutes. Loosen sides with a knife if needed, then invert onto rack to cool.

Filling Ingredients

4 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins

Mix all ingredients together. Sprinkle half of filling onto each rectangle and roll up.

Pan Preparation

6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups pecan halves

Pour melted butter into a 13x9-inch baking pan coating the bottom. Sprinkle brown sugar over butter in pan. Heat on stove until the brown sugar is dissolved/melted into the butter. Sprinkle pecan halves over brown sugar and spread so the pecans are evenly distributed.

These can be assembled and placed in baking pan before you head out. When you get back from church, they will be ready to put in oven.

Makes 24-rolls.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

L'omelette di uovo per la mattina dopo!

Omelets fit many occasions, but this is great for the 'morning after!'

2 tsp Olive oil
1/3 Cup chopped green bell pepper
1/3 Cup finely chopped onion
2 Slices prosciutto ham diced
1 Slice Provolone cheese
1 TBS grated parmesan and/or Romano cheese
2-3 Eggs beaten

Sautee peppers and onions in oil until the onions are translucent. Add chopped ham and cook for an additional 5-minutes. Add beaten eggs and cook half way through. Add chopped Provolove and Parmesan or Romano cheeses. Turn eggs with spatula, and cook until cheese has melted throughout.

Serve with broil-toasted Italian bread.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Cassata - Sicilian Rum Cream Cake

This dessert recipe is probably the most decadent dessert I have ever eaten or made. Just looking at the finished product, will cause serious weight gain, but IS IT EVER WORTH IT!!!

Here we go! There are five parts to building this structure: Spongecake, Rum Syrup, Ricotta Filling, Chocolate Ricotta Filling, and finally Assembly. (Whipped Cream NOT included!)


7 eggs
1 Cup confectioners Sugar
1 Cup Sifted Cake Flour
1 TBS Grated Lemon Peel
1 TBS Sweet Vermouth

1 pound crushed pistacio nuts (optional)

Separate eggs and bring to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter two(2) round cake tins, and dust with confectioner's sugar.

Add 1 cup confectioner's sugar to egg yolks; beat at high speed until thick and lemon colored. Add grated lemon peel, flour, and vermouth. Beat at low speed until well combined.

Beat egg whites stiff. Fold half the beaten egg whites into yolk mixture until well combined. Fold in remaining egg whites until just combined. Turn into buttered cake tins. Bake 25-30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and remove to rack.

Rum Syrup

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 Orange Slices
2 Lemon Slices
1 Cup Water
2/3 Cups golden rum.

Combine sugar, water, orange and lemon slices in sauce pan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil gently - uncovered - for 20 minutes. Discard fruit slices; stir in rum, cover and set aside.

Ricotta Cheese Filling

1 Lb. Ricotta cheese
1/2 cup mini chocolate bits
1 TBS rum
1/2 Cup Confectioner's sugar
1 Small jar of mixed, candied fruit (citron).

Combine cheese and sugar; beat for 3 minutes. Stir in chocolate bits and chopped candied citron.

Chocolate Cheese Filling

Remove 1 cup of the above cheese filling to a small bowl and stir in melted chocolate 2-TBS of bits - until well blended. Refrigerate both fillings.


1 Jar of seedless raspberry jam

Split each cake layer in half, as for a torte. Place cut side up on a large plate.

Drizzle 1/2 cup rum syrup. Spread with plain cheese filling. Spread raspberry jam on second layer and place jam side down on other layer. Drizzle 1/2 cup rum syrup and spread with chocolate cheese filling. Add third layer cut side up. Drizzle 1/2 cup rum syrup and spread with remaining plain cheese filling. Spread jam over cut side of fourth layer. Place jam side down over cheese layer. Drizzle on remaining rum syrup.

Spread top and sides of cake with thick whipped cream, and garnish with candied cherry halves, or marachino cherries that have been well-drained and dried. If you have the patience, you can add crushed pistacio nuts to the sides if the cake. Refrigerate for 4-hours before serving.

Fig and Date Filled Cookies

Goes great with espresso or just plain ol' coffee.

1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups sifted flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk

1 package dates
1 package figs
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 orange peel grated
1/2 cup mini chocolate bits
2/3 cup honey
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Put the dates, raisins and figs through a food chopper, then combine remaining ingredients.

For Dough, cream butter; add sugar, eggs and vanilla. Beat until light. Add sifted flour, baking powder, salt, and milk and mix well. Chill several hours or overnight.

Roll dough thin on a floured cutting board or counter, and cut into 2 1/2 inch squares. (Good place to use a hand crank pasta maker.) Put 1 tsp of the filling in the center of the square, and roll up -tucking the ends on the bottom. Seal edges tight. Brush with beaten egg white and a little water. Bake in 350F oven until slightly browned - about 12-15 minutes.

Classic Minestrone Soup

1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, with leaves, chopped
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can of tomatoes, with juice
1 box of frozen spinach
1 large can Italian white beans or Great Northern

5 cups beef or vegetable stock
1/2 cup finely
chopped parsley
1 cup extra-finely sliced, then roughly chopped cabbage
2 zucchini, unpeeled and cut into small cubes
1/2 cup ditalini (little tiny macaroni)

Garnish: Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

Sautee the onion and celery in the oil until wilted, toss in garlic and stir for a minute, then add cut-up tomatoes and cook down for about 10 minutes to concentrate flavors. Stir in beef stock, reserved tomato juice, and beans and bring to a boil. Add half the parsley, lower heat, and cook for about 30 minutes.

Add cabbage, zucchini, spinach, and ditalini and cook at a gentle boil until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.

When ready to serve, stir in the rest of the parsley, maybe sprinkle in some more minced garlic. Season to taste and grate in some Parmesan or Romano.

Dessert Cannoli

I recommend making the dough, wrapping it in waxed paper and chilling for 24 hours.

To make the dough, sift the dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the liquid inside. Little by little, stir the dry ingredients into the liquid until all the liquid is absorbed. Knead the dough for five minutes to ensure that it is smooth. This is a fairly stiff dough. Wrap and chill dough overnight.

Now comes the fun part. With a rolling pin, roll dough to about 3/16 inch thick. Make sure the dough and table are well floured. The dough will probably spring back a lot. If this happens, let the dough rest for ten minutes and then come back to it and roll again. We have an adjustable
hand crank pasta maker that works well for this. Adjust the rollers to a thinner setting each time you put the dough through the rollers.

Once the dough is the proper thickness, cut circles with a 3" round cutter. Next you'll need cannoli tubes. These are metal tubes approximately 5" long and 3/4" in diameter, and come in a package of 6 or 12. You can get them at a good culinary store, perhaps the Pastry Chef: The old Sicilians used to use a wooden dowel or broom handle cut to size.

Take a circle of dough and wrap it around the tube, but not tightly. The dough should be slack around the tube, because it needs room to puff when it deep fries. Moisten one edge of the dough and press the two overlapping edges together.

Deep fry the shells in 375F oil until light golden brown. Remove from oil and let cool a couple of minutes. Slide the shells off the tube. Voila! You have a cannoli shell. This pastry is very delicate and breaks easily, so be careful when stuffing them.


3 Cups Flour
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 tsp Cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
3 TBS Shortening
2 Eggs well beaten
2 TBS White vinegar
2 TBS Cold water
¼ Cup Tangerine liquor

Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. Cut in shortening to pieces the size of peas. Turn dough on to a floured counter and knead to smooth. Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 30-minutes. or more.

You can roll the dough out with a rolling pin, but I find the best method is using a hand-crank pasta maker. Roll first on the widest setting (5) and then in increments all the way to setting (1).

FILLING (for 20)

1-1/2 lbs ricotta cheese
1 -1/4 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 Cup chocolate shavings or mini-chocolate bits
1 TBS orange or lemon zest
1/2 Cup Chopped candied citron (Optional)

Unless you have purchased DRY ricotta, DRAIN THE RICOTTA IN CHEESECLOTH for 2-3 days before making the filling!! Mix well by hand with a wooden spoon. If the ricotta has been drained, use your mixer and the beaters. If you use the beaters and the ricotta has NOT been drained, you will end up with "soup!"

Stuff the shells with filling, being careful not to break them. An iced tea spoon works well here. Arrange on a large serving plate, and then dust with confectioner’s sugar. A demitasse cup of espresso or a dry Marsala wine is the perfect accompaniment.