Family Secrets

Neapolitan Egg Stuffing

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is enjoying my family recipes that have been passed down for generations. For as long as I can remember I have been enjoying my grandma's Neapolitan style stuffing every Thanksgiving. The most unique part of this stuffing is that the main ingredient is not bread, it is actually egg. This stuffing will really give you a true taste of old world Naples, Italy, because it contains a few classic Neapolitan ingredients including Pine Nuts, Raisins and Prosciutto. This stuffing is sweet and savory and has a wonderful moist, eggy texture. You can make the stuffing and then put it inside the turkey before you cook the big bird, or you can make it separate like my family does. 

 

Ingredients-

  1. 10 Large Eggs (beaten in a bowl)
  2. 1 Small Mozzarella about 3/4 LB diced small (you can use a bran like Polly-O because it doesn't release as much water) 
  3. 1 Cup Raisins
  4. 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley
  5. Two 10 oz Boxes of White Mushrooms- You will be using the stems only! Remove the Stems and  boil them for 5-10 minutes or until tender. Drain and dry with paper towels. Then dice into small pieces. 
  6. Salt and Pepper to taste
  7. 1/3 Cup Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese (I use Locatelli)
  8. 1/3 cup Plain Breadcrumbs
  9. 1/4 Cup Pine Nuts, lightly toasted 
  10. 3 Thin Slices of Prosciutto Chopped into Small Pieces
  11. Olive Oil

 

Steps-

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. 
  2. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan (just enough to coat the pan).
  3. Pour the stuffing mixture all at once into the pan and use a wooden spoon to push the ingredients around as they cook just like you would scrambled eggs. 
  4. Once the eggs fully scramble and the ingredients come together and the cheese is melted etc. you are all done! If you make it ahead, just pour the stuffing into a pyrex dish and then reheat in a low oven.  You can also stuff your turkey with this stuffing and tie the legs of the turkey closed so it doesn't fall out. 

Three Bean Pasta Fagioli

Nothing is better than a hot bowl of Pasta "Fazool" on a cold winter day! Everyone knows February is award show month, and this is my "Award Show Meal."  I like to make a big pot of this and then cuddle up in sweats on the couch with my boyfriend and friends in front of the television. We sit and watch all of our favorite celebrities in awe, commenting on their wacky outfits and their butchered acceptance speeches...and the good ones too. 

Ingredients-

  1. 4 celery stalks diced small
  2. 1 cup carrot diced small
  3. 1 medium/large onion diced small (an onion about the size of a large orange)
  4. 4 pieces of bacon diced small
  5. 2 bay leaves
  6. 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  7. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  8. 2 Ounces Kale -Chiffonade
  9. 3 small garlic cloves minced
  10. 2 Sprigs of fresh rosemary chopped up finely
  11. 2 cups canned diced tomatoes with some of the juice 
  12. 1/3 cup dried brown or green lentils
  13. 14 oz canned Cannellini white beans
  14. 15.5 oz can of Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans)
  15. 14oz chickpeas 
  16. 6 cups Chicken stock/broth
  17. 1 cup white wine
  18. 1 Cup Small Pasta (I prefer Ditalini or small shells)
  19. Salt and Pepper to Taste
  20. Fresh Parmegiano Reggiano Cheese


Steps-

  1. Heat a large ceramic pot (like a Le Creuset if you have it) on medium-low heat. Add the bacon and cook until the fat renders, about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon and set aside (you will add it back in). Add the onion, carrot, celery, red pepper flakes and bay leaves and increase the heat to medium; cook, stirring frequently, until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
  2. Add the wine and cook until it has reduced slightly. Add the bacon back to the pot along with the broth, beans, lentils, chickpeas, diced tomatoes and rosemary. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the lentils are just tender, 15-30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer 1 cup of the bean mixture and a little liquid to a blender or food processor. Hold a kitchen towel over the opening to prevent splatters as the liquid is very hot. Purée until smooth and add back into the pot.  This will help to thicken the soup slightly.
  4. Add the dried pasta to the pot and stir to incorporate. Turn the heat up to a gentle boil and cook until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, anywhere from 8-12 minutes depending on the type of pasta you used. The soup will thicken a bit by the time the pasta is cooked. Discard the bay leaves.
  5. Ladle the soup into bowls. Drizzle each portion with a touch of extra-virgin olive oil and grate a good amount of Parmegiano Reggiano on top.

I love to serve this with some homemade Focaccia bread. Check out Tyler Florence's recipe! I just use his bread recipe without his toppings and add lots of fresh rosemary and sea salt to mine  before baking and it compliments the soup perfectly. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/fabulous-focaccia-recipe.html

Sweet Arancini- Fried Rice Pudding Balls


One year ago I was on the beautiful island of Sicily with my big, loud, Italian family.  There are many dishes that are specific to the Sicilian culture that I grew up eating, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the “real thing.”  Canolis, Eggplant Caponata, Cassata Cake, Fig Cookies and of course Arancini.  Arancini are a popular street food in Sicily, so common that you can even purchase them at a gas station convenience store. Arancini are these dense, creamy, cheesy, fried rice balls that are often stuffed with things like ham, peas, ground beef and tomato sauce.  The Sicilians make these so well, that even when you purchase them from a sketchy “mini-mart” chances are they are still going to be down right delicioso.  I decided to reinvent Arancini and combine them with another classic rice dish, Rice Pudding.  My Sweet Arancini are crunchy, creamy bundles of gooey, rice pudding, coated in a blanket of delicious graham cracker crumbs and fried to perfection.  These bella balls are not complete without their silky, tangy Apricot and Peach dipping sauce.  Make these for your next soiree and I promise you everyone will not be able to take their hands off your rice balls.

 

 Ingredients-

  1. 2 cups water
  2. 1 cup  Arborio rice
  3. 2 1/2 cups whole milk (you can use any milk but whole works the best)
  4. 1/4 cup sugar
  5. 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  6. 1 egg
  7. Dash of Cinnamon
  8. Pinch of Nutmeg
  9. 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  10. 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  11. 2-3 eggs beaten
  12. 1 1/2 Cups Graham Cracker Crumbs- you may use a little less or more (you can buy the crumbs in a box in the baking isle or by the breadcrumbs or just crush plain graham crackers in a food processor)
  13. Canola Oil or Peanut Oil for frying
  14. Confectioners sugar for dusting

 Apricot Peach Dipping sauce-

Ingredients-

  1.  1 Cup Peach Preserves (jam)
  2. 3 Fresh Ripe Apricots (you can use any fruit you like!)
  3. 1 Tablespoon Butter

 Steps-

  1. First make the dipping sauce. Remove the pits from the apricots and chop the flesh into small chunks.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the chopped fruit. Cook down on low heat until some of the juices release from the fruits.
  3. Add the peach preserves and melt down until it thins out and becomes a sauce consistency. You may need to add some water if it is too thick. Place in the fridge until you are ready to use.  If the sauce gets too thick just add a little water and heat it up in a pot or the microwave for a few seconds until it is warm and thins out.

 Rice Balls-

Steps-

  1. In a medium pot, bring the water and rice to a boil. Stir, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the water has been absorbed. Add the milk and bring to a boil. Simmer gently, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently until the rice is tender. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cornstarch. Add the egg and vanilla and combine with a whisk. Gradually pour this mixture into the rice pudding and cook for about 2 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly, or until the rice thickens and becomes very sticky like risotto.
  3. Spread the rice in a baking pan or loaf pan and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 2 hours or until completely chilled.  This is a great thing to make the day before!  You want the texture to be very thick and gelatinous so you can form balls easily.
  4. Next, preheat the canola oil in the deep fryer on high temperature. Set a wire rack and paper towels aside.
  5. Place the flour, eggs, and graham cracker crumbs in three separate bowls. Set aside.
  6. With your hands, shape each ball of the rice pudding.  You want them to be a little bigger than ping-pong balls, but you can make them as big or as small as you like!  A small 1 1/2 inch ice cream/cookie scoop works well too! When doing them by hand flour your hands to prevent the rice from sticking to you. You can also stuff them with any sweet treat you would like if you wanted!
  7. Dredge the balls in flour and shake to remove any excess. Dip them in eggs and drain. Coat with the graham cracker crumbs.
  8. Fry the pudding balls, a few at a time until they are nicely browned and have a nice crunchy outside, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on the baking sheet and paper towels and continue with the remaining balls.
  9. Dust the rice balls with powdered sugar and serve slightly warm with the apricot peach dipping sauce!

 

"Gagoots & Eggs"- Zucchini & Eggs

Italian Americans have quite a Rolodex of slang terms especially when it comes to foods. Whether it be mootsadell (mozzarella), proschoot (prosciutto), manigot (manicotti) we've got a name for everything! One of my grandmother's famous dishes also happens to have one of the funniest names, and it is called "Gagoots and Eggs" or (Zucchini and Eggs).  "Gagoots" comes from the word "cucuzza" which is a word for squash in the Italian language. This recipes has just a few simple ingredients and is the perfect lunch/dinner time sandwich, or side dish with meat or fish, or just a great afternoon snack. You can ask my grandma, this simple dish is such a crowd pleasure that all 10 of her grandchildren have her hovering over the stove frying up pounds and pounds of zucchini so they can all get a taste. My gagoots brings the kids to the yard and they're like it's betta than yours... 
 

Feeds 2-3 people

Ingredients- 

  1. 4 medium to large zucchini (leave the skin on just cut the ends off)
  2. 4 eggs beaten and set aside
  3. Canola/vegetable oil
  4. Extra virgin olive oil
  5. Salt and pepper
  6. Bread of your choice (I like a baguette or any Italian bread)


Steps-

  1. Using a mandolin or sharp knife, slice the zucchini in very thin rounds. The mandolin is a great tool because it takes about 1 minute to slice the whole zucchini,  and it slices it paper thin, which is what you want. 
  2. Next, pour equal parts of canola oil and extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan until the oil completely coats the bottom of the pan. You want about 1/8 inch-1/4 inch of oil in the pan. 
  3. Heat the oil on medium heat until it gets hot enough where it sizzles and little when you put in a piece of zucchini. The key to this is you want the zucchini to brown and cook evenly. Once the oil is hot. Place a single layer of zucchini flat around the pan in the oil. Let it cook until it gets golden brown and then flip each piece with tongs or a fork and cook on the other side until it browns. Once It's brown and cooked on both sides, using a slotted spoon or tongs take the zucchini out and place it onto paper towels to drain some oil out. Sprinkle them with a little salt and pepper while they are hot so it sticks. 
  4. Repeat the frying process until all the zucchini is cooked. In between each batch add more oil if you need to or it will burn.
  5. Once all the zucchini is fried wipe out the excess oil and grease felt the pan. Add a little more clean olive oil to the pan just about a tablespoon or so just to cost the pan and place it on medium heat.
  6. Pour all the browned zucchini back into the pan And spread it out evenly. Pour the beaten eggs over the top of the zucchini and let it sit a few seconds. When you see the eggs are starting to cook use a wooden spoon and stir the mixture all around as if you were making scrambled eggs and let the eggs cook and meld with the zucchini.
  7. Once the eggs are cooked and everything is blended together, pour the zucchini and eggs into a bowls and add a little more salt and pepper to taste.
  8. You can now eat it as is or put it on some nice warm, toasty Italian bread. 





Chicken and the Egg Soup

I know it's almost summer and the temperature is rising, but no matter what time of year, who doesn't love a nice bowl of homemade chicken soup! When I am sick, stressed or just in need of some TLC, chicken soup always delivers!  It just nurtures the body and soul from the inside out! Growing up my mom made homemade chicken soup pretty often, but she always put her own spin on.  The base of the soup is traditional, but we add some spinach leaves and beaten egg into the soup to give it an amazing egg drop soup consistency to it as well. I add some leeks to the mirepoix because they have such a rich, wonderful flavor to them that is less harsh then a traditional onion.  This is one of those one pot meals that you can throw together, set on the stove, get some chores done and then sit down to enjoy it..no fuss!

  1.  Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  2. 32 oz Low Sodium Chicken Stock
  3. 1  1/2  Cups Chopped Carrots (peeled) 
  4. 1  1/2 Cups Chopped Celery
  5. 1 leek finely chopped  (clean it thoroughly and cut of the top dark green part of the leaves)
  6. 1/2 large Vidalia onion chopped
  7. 2 Bay Leaves
  8. 2 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
  9. 1/3 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
  10. 1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley Chopped
  11. 2 Large Garlic Cloves Minced
  12. 1 Whole Raw Chicken (cleaned, gizzards removed)

  13. Salt and Pepper

  14. 1 packet (or cube) chicken bouillon powder

  15. About 4 Cups water

  16. 2 Cups of Spinach Leaves coarsely chopped (you can use baby spinach but I prefer the large spinach leaves.  Make sure you remove the thick stems)
  17. 2 Eggs beaten

Parmesan Cheese (optional)

  

Cooked Egg Noodles, Orzo, Ditallini Pasta, Elbow Pasta, Small Pasta Shells (whatever you like!) (optional)

 Steps-

  1. Drizzle 1-2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil into a large pot and heat on medium low.
  2. Drop in the chopped leek, Vidalia (or white) onion, bay leaves and Red Pepper Flakes and sweat for about 5 minutes to release the flavors.
  3. Add the chopped Carrots, Celery and minced Garlic and stir to combine.  Cook on medium low heat about 5-7 minutes or until the flavors come together.
  4. Add a dash of Salt and Pepper and the whole sprigs of thyme.
  5. Place the whole chicken in the pot and pour in the chicken stock.
  6. Sprinkle the chicken bouillon into the 4 cups of hot water and stir to dissolve.
  7. Pour the water/bouillon mixture into the pot with the chicken and vegetables.
  8. Bring the mixture to a boil and then cover and simmer on medium low heat for an hour and a half.
  9. After roughly 90 minutes, remove the chicken from the pot and shred I using tongs or your fingers.  Be careful it will be hot!!
  10. Place all the shredded chicken meat back into the pot with the soup and discard the bones. Remove the Thyme sprigs and Bay leaves from the soup and discard.
  11. Add the spinach leaves and parsley to the soup and stir until the leaves wilt. 
  12. Take the two beaten eggs and while whisking or making a beating motion with a fork in the soup, carefully pour in the raw beaten eggs into the soup.  You want the soup to have a slight fogginess but not have huge chunks of scrambled egg, that is why it is important for the liquid to be moving (by the motion of a whisk or fork) while pouring in the egg.
  13. Let the soup simmer for about 5 more minutes then serve!  If you want to have noodles or pasta in the soup, keep them separate and scoop a little pasta into each persons bowl.  Keeping the pasta separate is important because if you put it in the soup it will absorb all the liquid.
  14. Scoop some pasta into each persons bowl, pour in some soup, grate some fresh Parmesan cheese over top and enjoy!

Sicilian Ricotta Cheesecake

I was born and raised a New Yorker so naturally I love me some cheesecake! Cheesecake is rich, creamy, dense, tangy, mildly sweet and just so comforting to consume.  As much as I love NY style Cheesecake, it can be a super heavy dessert to eat after a big meal.  After growing up in a Sicilian household and traveling all over Sicily last summer, I discovered the beauty of using ricotta cheese in desserts.  Sicilians use ricotta based fillings and custards in tons of desserts like layer cakes, cream puffs, casadelle (fried “calzone” shaped pieces of dough stuffed with a delicious sweet ricotta filling and chocolate) and many more! This Easter I came up with my own Sicilian style cheesecake recipe that was such a hit, even my Dad’s cousin Sal who was visiting from the motherland gave it a “molto bene!”  This cheesecake is light and buttery and has a wonderful citrus flavor that is perfect for any spring/summer get together.  This recipe is pretty simple to execute and is always a hit with my guests! Remember tweet me or Instagram me pics of your Got Room For More creations @gotroomformore.

 

Ingredients-

  1. 1-2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter Melted
  2. ½ Cup finely crushed Almond Biscotti Cookies (You can also use graham crackers, chocolate biscotti, Amaretti cookies or whatever you like!)
  3. 2  Pounds Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
  4. 1 Pound Mascarpone Cheese
  5. 1 ½ Cups Granulated White Sugar
  6. 6 Large Eggs
  7. 2 Egg Yolks
  8. 2 Tablespoons Fresh Orange Zest
  9. 1/4 cup Heavy Cream
  10. 2 Teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
  11. 1 ½ Tablespoons Fresh Orange Juice (squeeze the orange you zested)
  12. Powdered sugar, for dusting

Steps-

  1.  Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  2. If there is a lot of excess water in your ricotta (which may happen if you use fresh/homemade), drain the ricotta in a colander or in some cheesecloth set over a bowl for about 30 minutes to an hour. 
  3. In a small bowl stir together the biscotti crumbs and melted butter. Cover the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with aluminum foil.  Make sure it is covered well so the water bath doesn’t get into the pan and make the crust soggy. Make sure the foil is not bulky so the pan can lay flat. 
  4. Pour the buttery cookie crumbs into the springform pan and press them into the bottom of the pan and up the sides of the pan a little. Make sure there is a thin, flat, even layer throughout.
  5. Place the pan in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until slightly dry and starting to brown. 
  6. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  7. Using an electric mixer, beat the ricotta, mascarpone and sugar together until smooth.  With the mixer Add the eggs one at a time, orange zest, cream, vanilla and orange juice and mix until completely smooth and combined. 
  8. Pour batter into the prepared springform pan and set the pan inside a larger pan (roasting pan, jelly roll pan, glass Pyrex dish etc.) Fill the outer pan with boiling water until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan.
  9. Bake for 1½ to 2 hours or until the cheesecake is mostly set in the center. Turn off the oven and let the cake rest inside for 30 minutes.
  10. Remove cake from the oven and let cool to room temperature on a wire rack.  Run a sharp knife around the perimeter of the cake to loosen it and unmold. 
  11.  Chill the cheesecake in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
  12. Make the whipped cream topping (see below) and spread it over the top of the chilled cheesecake.
  13. Top with fresh raspberries or just some powdered sugar and some orange or lemon slices as I did.

 

 Topping-

  1. ½ Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  2. 1-2 Tablespoons Confectioners’ Sugar (depending on how sweet you like your whipped cream)
  3. ½ Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

Beat together in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer or whisk until the cream has stiff peaks and turns into whipped cream.

Mama Marullo's Famous Fusilli

I am incredibly passionate about this dish because it is one of the most unique pasta dishes you will ever taste! It brings back so many wonderful memories of friends coming over for sleepovers and play dates and my mom in the kitchen prepping this pasta for us to enjoy.  Even though this dish is full of carrots and peas (which tend to be a kids worst nightmare), my friends used to BEG my mom to makes this dish when they came for dinner, even back in elementary school!  This dish has such a beautiful, creamy and crunchy texture, and a very rustic, earthy flavor.  Most people taste this dish and say they have never tasted anything quite like it.  Another great thing about this dish, is it tastes great even 3, 4, 5 days later!  Just throw it in a Tupperware, pop it in the fridge and it enjoy it the next day for lunch!  This is the perfect dish to make in September and October when we are transitioning from Summer to Fall.

Ingredients-

  1. ¾ Cup Seasoned Breadcrumbs
  2. 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  3. ½ Cup Finely Chopped Shallots
  4. 1 Small Garlic Clove Minced
  5. 1 Cup Frozen Peas (Thawed)
  6. ¾ Cup Chicken Stock
  7. 1 ¼ Cups Finely Grated Carrots (Use a Food Processor)
  8. 1/4 Cup Heavy Cream
  9. ½ Pound Fusilli (I like to use the long Fusilli that’s long like Spaghetti but twisted, or the corkscrew-like short Fusilli.  It needs to be a shape that the sauce will latch onto)
  10. 3-4 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Mint Leaves
  11. Salt and Pepper to Taste
  12. Grated Parmigiano Reggiano 

Steps-

  1. In a pan, toast the breadcrumbs in 2 Tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Be sure to stir them around occasionally so they don’t burn.  You want them to get golden and crunchy. Set them aside in a bowl.
  2. In a large skillet, sauté the shallots and minced Garlic in the remaining 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil until they are soft and translucent. 
  3. Add the Peas and Chicken Stock and simmer for about 3-4 minutes. 
  4. Stir in the Carrots and cook at a simmer until the carrots are tender.
  5. Stir in the Cream and Salt and Pepper (to taste).
  6. Simmer the mixture until it reduces about one fourth.
  7. Set sauce aside and keep it warm while you cook the pasta.
  8. Boil a large pot of water (add some salt to the water) and cook the pasta until al dente.
  9. Drain the pasta and toss it with the sauce, about ½ of the breadcrumbs and the fresh mint.
  10. Divide the pasta into pasta bowls and finish the dish with a sprinkle of the extra breadcrumbs on top and some fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano. 

Eggplant Caponata

Okay, the secret is out! I am about to share one of my all-time favorite family recipes with you…Eggplant Caponata.  Caponata is a cooked vegetable mixture consisting of eggplant, celery, olives, capers, sweetened vinegar and spices.  Caponata is traditionally eaten before the meal as an appetizer or antipasto as we say it in Italia.  Caponata originates from Sicily and showcases some of the most common flavors found in that region.  This July, I was fortunate enough to spend 10 days in Sicily with my family.  Along with octopus salads, pasta with sardines and pizza we must have tried 6 or 7 different Caponata recipes.  Although each one was uniquely delicious, my favorite one is still my Grandmas! Enjoy this with crackers or sliced Italian bread beside Italian meat and cheeses, or even do as my father does and mix it together with some canned tuna for a delicious healthy lunch!  

Click on the photo to see more pictures of the dish!

Ingredients-

  1. 1 Extra Large Eggplant- Cut into ¾ inch cubes (leave skin on)
    2 Medium White Onions- Diced small (use onions that are about the size of a peach or orange)
  2. 3 Stalks of Celery- Chopped into small pieces
  3. 3 Garlic Cloves-Diced fine
  4. ½-3/4 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  5. A sprinkle of Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
    1 Cup Green Spanish Olives- Roughly Chopped (Do not use the pimento. Make sure theyre plain)
    1- 6oz Can Black Olives- Roughly Chopped (cut each olive in about 3-4 pieces)
    2 Tablespoons of Capers
    1- 12oz Can of Tomato Paste
    ½ Teaspoon Dried Oregano
    2 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
  6. 2 Tablespoons White Granulated Sugar
  7. Salt & Pepper to Taste (about 1/2 Teaspoon of salt)

Steps-

  1. In a large pot or Saute the eggplant, onions, garlic, celery and red pepper flakes in the olive oil on medium-low heat. Add more olive oil if you feel its too dry and the vegetables are not sauteing. 
  2. Cover the pot, and stir occasionally until the vegetables start to get soft.
  3. Add the tomato paste, oregano, red wine vinegar, capers, olives and sugar.
  4. Stir and allow the mixture to cook down for at least 15 minutes.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. If the mixture is way too thick add a little bit of water. I did not need to add any but it depends on your preference.
  7. You want the mixture to cook down and all the flavors to come together. 
  8. Remove from the heat and serve it hot as an appetizer beside Italian bread (or crackers) and cheeses, or serve cold…its great any way you like!  You can even mix it with pasta or with canned tuna.

The Sicilian Breakfast of Champions- Spiced Greek Yogurt with Figs & Almonds

As I have discussed in my previous blog post, it is fig season, and I just can’t help but purchase a box every time I walk past the fruit stand on the corner.  The sweet, honey-like smell they give off when they are ripe, can put one in a state of trance.  After a long workout this morning I started rummaging through the cabinets for something healthy to eat for breakfast.  My friends and family can tell you that I don’t just have a sweet tooth, I’ve got sweet teeth…I just love sweets especially in the morning when I wake up and at night before bed (probably not the best habit).  What’s great about figs and honey, is they have natural sugars, so you’re still satisfying your cravings but not negatively effecting your health.  This super simple recipe can be eaten for breakfast, a lite lunch, or even as a dessert, because that is how delicious it tastes! Go Fig-ure!

It is as simple as this-

Serves 1 Person-

Ingredients-

  1. ¾ Cup Plain Greek Yogurt (I use 0% fat Fage brand)
  2. 3-4 Black Mission Figs (quartered)
  3. 1 - 1  1/2 Tablespoons Slivered Almonds (as much as you prefer)
  4. 1/8 Teaspoon Orange Zest
  5. A Sprinkle of Cinnamon
  6. A Drizzle of Honey

Steps-

  1. Place Greek Yogurt in a bowl.
  2. Top it with the sliced Figs and Slivered Almonds
  3. Evenly sprinkle the Cinnamon and Orange Zest over the top.
  4. Drizzle the honey over the top.
  5. Enjoy and then lick the bowl clean…

Fall-Apart, Melt in your Mouth, Lemon, White Wine Chicken

Many have stated, "this is THE BEST chicken I have ever had!"

At the age of 23, I am very lucky to have all four of my grandparents still living…and all in NY for that matter!  My grandparents taught me a lot about life, love, hard work and of course FOOD. Some of my fondest memories are of my family sitting shoulder to shoulder at the dinner table, listening to beautiful stories from my grandparent’s past.  My grandmother Anita will not only shower you with kisses and compliments, she will shower you with some of the most delicious food you will ever consume!  Since my family lived just 12 minutes away from their house, we would often have “meals on wheels,” (as my Grandma Anita called it).  If my parents were working late, you better believe Grandma Anita was waiting for us at the house with a stove full of food.  A scent that will forever remind me of my amazing Grandmother is the smell of Chicken Picata; butter, lemon, and herbs cooking down slowly into a sauce that may as well be liquid gold.  Since I have watched my Grandma Anita and my mother cook this dish countless times over the past 23 years, I have decided to put my own twist on the family recipe, and share it with my readers of course. The most common phrase that comes out of my friend’s mouths when I make this dish for them is “this is THE BEST chicken I have ever had in my life”…so you really can’t go wrong!

 

Feeds 2-3 People

Ingredients- 

  1. 1.75 Pounds of Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (If they are super Thick, butterfly them (cut them in half )
  2. 2 Eggs
  3. Seasoned Breadcrumbs (I love 4C brand) (You should only need about 2 cups or so)
  4. 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  5. 3 Tablespoons of Shallots (chopped)
  6. 2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced (medium size) (about 2 teaspoons of jarred minced garlic but you should use fresh)
  7. 2 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
  8. 1.5 Packets of Instant Chicken Bouillon (Herb Ox is my favorite brand) If you can’t find the powder use 1½ Chicken Bouillon Cubes   
  9. 1.5 Cups of very hot water or boiling water
  10. The juice of 1.5 lemons
  11. ½ Cup White Wine (Any dry white wine)
  12. ½ Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  13. A pinch of salt (if necessary! The bouillon is salty so do not over salt..taste it first!)
  14. 3 Tablespoons of Fresh Parsley Chopped

Steps-

  1. Beat the eggs in a bowl and pour the breadcrumbs in a separate dish
  2. Dip the chicken cutlets in the egg and then the breadcrumbs and make sure they are fully coated.
  3. Put the Olive Oil in a deep nonstick skillet (about 3 inches high or so) (or a ceramic dutch oven) on the stove and heat on medium heat.
  4. When the oil is hot and sizzles if you drop a piece of breadcrumb in it, fry each piece of chicken on each side just until they are golden brown.  You do not want to cook them all the way through, but you do want to create a nice crust on the outside.  Once the chicken is browned remove from the pan and set aside on the counter. (click the picture to see the chicken at this stage)
  5. Put the butter in the same pan where the chicken was and let it melt on medium/low heat. (do not wash the pan, you want the chicken drippings in it)
  6. Put the chopped shallots and garlic in the pan with the butter and sauté until they soften and get slightly translucent.
  7. Place the chicken back in the pan with the shallot mixture.
  8. In a liquid measuring cup, measure out the 1.5 cups of boiling water, and stir the chicken bouillon into it so that it dissolves and turns into a chicken stock.
  9. Pour the stock over the chicken.
  10. Pour the lemon juice and wine in with the chicken
  11. Sprinkle in the black pepper and half of the parsley
  12. Cover the pan and let the chicken simmer on low heat for about 1 to 1 ½  hours. You want the chicken to stew in the liquid until it breaks apart easily with a fork...no knives needed!
  13. Remove the lid and reduce the liquid down until it is thick like a turkey gravy.  You will  reduce the liquid by about half or a little more.
  14. Once it is reduced down, sprinkle the remaining chopped parsley over the top and you are ready to eat!
  15. Serve with pureed cauliflower (mock-mashed potatoes), mashed potatoes, or roasted potatoes and a green vegetable of your choice.

Farina with Raspberry Liqueur, Devonshire Cream & Fresh Berries

One of my fondest memories of growing up was waking up on a Saturday morning to a piping hot bowl of creamy Farina, made by my beautiful mother.  This wasn’t your average bowl of Cream of Wheat, (you know the bland, paste like hot cereal that kids dread to taste) this one was magical. To give my Farina some extra sweetness and color my mom would put in a few drops of Chambord, a Raspberry flavored Liqueur.  The funny thing is, my mom did not realize this was alcohol at first, and would let me put in a few extra drops since I loved the taste so much.  I am sure the alcohol was slightly cooked off by the heat of the stove, but hey maybe this is why I was such a well behaved, friendly child? Anyway…I would stir my Chambord Farina around until it turned a pretty pink color and then before my mom knew it, it was all gone.  On a trip back home to Long Island, I found the little nip of Chambord in the kitchen cabinet where it always was, and decided to put my own twist on this rather funny family recipe. I make basic Farina, Drizzle some Chambord on top, put a dollop of homemade Devonshire Cream (Clotted Cream) and a handful of mixed berries…simple yet delightful.  Eat this for breakfast any day of the week, or even serve it in small bowls as a starter course at your next Brunch party beside some Chambord Champagne Cocktails.

 

Recipe Serves 3-6 People (3 larger bowls or 6 small helpings)

Ingredients-

Farina-

  1. 1+2/3 Cups Milk (I used 1%)
  2. 1+2/3 Cups Water
  3. ¼ Teaspoon Salt
  4. 2/3 Cup Farina- Creamy Hot Wheat Cereal
  5. Granulated White Sugar
  6. Chambord (or any Raspberry Liqueur)- A few Teaspoons full (as much as you like!)
  7. Mixed Berries (about 1 Cup) I use Raspberries and Blueberries

Devonshire Cream-

  1. ½ Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  2. ¾ Cup Sour Cream
  3. 1 ½ Tablespoons Powdered Sugar

Steps- 

  1. First make the Devonshire Cream (Clotted Cream), by whipping the cream with a stand mixer, hand mixer or a whisk, until soft peaks form.
  2.  Add the Powdered Sugar and Whip until fully incorporated. 
  3. Add the sour cream and beat until the cream is nice and fluffy and holds its shape.
  4. Set aside in the fridge.
  5. Note: This cream can also be used on desserts like fruit pies and cakes, or with scones and biscuits too!
  6. Next, make the Farina by stiring together the milk an water in a medium size pot or saucepan and bringing it to a boil.
  7. Once the liquid is boiling, stir in the Farina gradually and stir constantly so there are no lumps.
  8. Return to a boil and then lower the heat so that it is just boiling slightly and stir continually until it has reached our desired texture.  I prefer it to be thick but still creamy so it can pour off the spoon and not latch onto it. 
  9. Ladle the Farina into serving bowls.
  10. Sprinkle some granulated sugar evenly over the top so there is a light dusting of sugar throughout the dish.
  11. Drizzle some Chambord over the Farina (about 1 to 1 ½ Teaspoons per serving or as much as you’d like)
  12. Put a handful of berries on top of each dish
  13. Remove the Devonshire Cream from the fridge and put a dollop in the center of each bowl.
  14. Enjoy!

New Zealand Clams with Orange & White Wine

When visiting my family back home on Long Island, my mom and I took a trip to one of our favorite specialty grocery stores.  We were thrilled to find a bin of live lobsters priced at $5.99 per pound…amazing! We decided to make succulent steamed lobsters with the traditional corn on the cob and baked potato side dishes, but we needed the perfect appetizer to start the meal.  My mom decided to add to the seafood theme by making her New Zealand Clam recipe, that is both simple and incredibly flavorful.   The fresh squeezed orange juice brightens up the dish with its fresh, tangy flavor and the white wine and garlic just go together organically, especially with clams.  Serve each guest a nice big bowl of clams with enough broth so that you can enjoy some with each bite and soak up the rest with bread.

 Recipe Feeds about 4 People

Ingredients-

  1. 2.5 Lbs of New Zealand Clams (They are about the size of a quarter)
  2. 4 Cloves of Garlic Minced
  3. ¼ Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  4. 3 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Italian Parsley
  5. 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  6. 1 Tablespoon Butter
  7. ¾ Cup Dry White Wine
  8. ½ Cup Clam Juice
  9. The Juice of 1 Large Orange
  10. ½ Teaspoon Freshly Grated Orange Zest
  11. Dash of Black Pepper
  12. 1 Loaf of Bread (Italian Bread, French Baguette or Ciabata) 

Steps-

  1. Thoroughly clean each clam under cold water using a potato brush or paper towel to make sure there is no sand on them. Put them aside.
  2. Pour the Olive Oil into a large pot on medium low heat and heat it up slightly.
  3. Add the butter and allow it to melt.
  4. Put the garlic, parsley and red pepper flakes into the pot with the oil and sauté them until the garlic starts to brown slightly. (Do not let the garlic get to dark in color, this will give the dish a bitter taste)
  5. Once the garlic becomes very aromatic and browns slightly, add the clam juice, wine, orange juice, zest and pinch of pepper.
  6. Put the clams in the juice and cover the pot
  7. Bring the liquid to a simmer and cook the clams until they pop open on their own.  This should take about 5 minutes.
  8. Once the clams open, gently stir them around in the broth so they absorb the flavors of the juice.
  9. While the clams are cooking, toast and slice the bread the way you like it.
  10. Spoon a nice helping of the clams into each serving bowl and pour a nice ladleful of broth over the clams.
  11. Serve with a piece of the toasted bread to soak up all the juices
  12. Sit back and listen to the “slurps” around you! Enjoy!

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