Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sara's Cannolis

This is the recipe for the filling for my mom's cannolis. When I get the recipe for the shell I will add that too.
This stuff is *DELICIOUS* even without the shell and could easily be the base for other desserts if you wanted to be creative. mmm a cake with this between the layers for instance... drizzled with some grand marnier... you get the idea.

3 lbs fresh ricotta cheese

3 tbsp. grated semi-sweet chocolate

2 tbsp. finely minced candied orange peel

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup crème de cacao or other sweet liqueur

1/2 cup chopped pistachio nuts

1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds

Note: Candied cherries or candied mixed fruit can be substituted for candied orange peel

Beat ricotta vigorously for 2 minutes. Add sugar and liqueur and continue beating for

5 minutes longer, or until smooth. Mix in chocolate and orange, stir in nuts, until well

combined. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Fill pastry bag (medium tip) with filling and stuff cannoli shells starting with one end and

then the other. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar if desired.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mom's Cornbread Dressing

Sara's Cornbread Dressing Recipe
Two boxes of ballard corn bread mix (two pans baked)

(ingredients below for two pans put 1/2 in one pan and 1/2 in the other)

1 cup medium chopped celery
¾ cup medium chopped white onion
4 boiled eggs
3 tsp ground sage
2 tsp black pepper
4 cans chicken broth
6 slices of white bread crumbled
4 eggs

crumble cornbread
add celery and onion and mix
add eggs and mix
add spices and mi
add broth and mix well
add eggs and mix well
add slices of crumbled white bread and mix
bake @425 until done (30- to 45 minutes
Add Turkey drippings and broth as needed to keep moist

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Leg of Lamb and Pilaf Rice

We have lamb and pilaf rice every Easter. We also have ham, stuffed artichokes, baked pasta, and different vegetables. Here is Sara's recipe for the lamb:

Buy Legs of Lamb - 2 boneless(or if bone in ask butcher to cut off any extruding excess bone)

Lightly marinade over night, by rubbing a little Dale's or Moore's marinade on it but not very much or it will get too salty.

The next day:

Cut very small slits into various areas of the exterior of the lamb

Clean garlic cut larger cloves in half but use whole small cloves andd push pieces of garlic into slits

Sprinkle lamb with fresh lemon juice

Rub lamb with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Rub olive oil into lamb and sprinkle some salt on the lamb and rub it in. Then sprinkle some oregano onto the lamb and rub it in.

Sprinkle heavily with black pepper

Place lamb in pans and add a little bit of beef broth to the pans

Bake at 325 for….depends on weight at least 30 minutes per pound

Check every 20 minutes and add beef broth to bottom of pans to keep moist as needed a little at a time – baste as needed

If begins to brown too quickly or before done then tent with tin foil.

When done remove from oven and let cool slightly – then remove lamb to cutting board for slicing

Save all juices and dripping from pans into container to use for cooking rice and mushroomss

Cook pilaf rice and sliced mushroom in juices and drippings and beef broth.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Marinara Sauce and Eggplant Parmesan

Here is Sara's recipe for Marinara sauce, and for Eggplant Parmesan, which will use the Marinara sauce in it.

Basic Marinara sauce

1 lg. can Cento brand imported Italian plum tomatoes

1 bunch green onions, chopped

3 lg. garlic cloves, chopped fine

3-4 fresh basil leaves, chopped coarsely

Pinch of dried oregano

1 tablespoon sugar

Olive oil

In a large bowl, break up tomatoes and set aside. In a large skillet or dutch oven medium heat, heat olive oil and add onions, sauté 1 minute, add garlic and cook another 2 min., do not allow garlic to brown. Add tomatoes, sugar salt and pepper to taste. Bring to just boiling. Turn heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes uncovered. Add basil and oregano and cook 15 minutes more, uncovered.

You may add 1 cup frozen sweet peas or 1 cup of sliced mushrooms, if desired. Serve over cooked pasta and sprinkle with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Eggplant Parmesan

Marinara sauce

2 med. Size eggplant

Italian bread crumbs (store bought will do)

3 eggs, (start with 3 may need more)

12 slices Mozzarella (more if you desire)

Grated Romano cheese

Oil for frying

Pepper (no salt)

Slice unpeeled eggplant into ½ inch slices; salt both sides and let rest 30 minutes. Rinse in cold water, pat dry with paper towel.

Beat eggs and set aside.

Pour half of bread crumbs into shallow dish or on wax paper

Dip eggplant in egg then in bread crumbs coating well. Add more crumbs if needed.

Have oil heated in skillet, and brown eggplant on both sides (they will brown quickly so watch carefully). Drain browned eggplant on paper towels.

Place a good amount of sauce in 9’x13’ casserole dish. Place a layer of eggplant and cover with sauce; top with Mozzarella slices, sprinkle with grated cheese (not too much) continue to layer, until all is used. Cover with an oiled sheet of foil, bake @ 350 degrees, for about 30-40 min. or until Mozzarella has melted. This is a rich dish, so serve with salad and good bread.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Beef Soup

Here is Sara's Beef Soup Recipe:

4 - 6 beef short ribs - at least two with those little bones - Not too lean cause you need some fat
1 medium white onion
4 or 5 green onions
3 or 4 stalks of celery
4 or 5 carrots
one medium to large potato
cut everything kind of chunky
one medium can diced tomatoes (I used winn dixie organic)
put in pot and cover with water and one can of beef broth
bring to a boil and then turn down, cover and simmer for at least two hours.
Add salt and pepper to taste and add a little (1/2 tsp.) fresh or dried basil - then take the top off and add 1 or 2 cans of beef broth as it cooks down - when almost done then add one drained can of english peas and package of sliced mushrooms and simmer until mushrooms are cooked - this is a big pot so you can divide into freezer bags if you want. Just put two or three servings per container. (A serving would be1&1/2 cup per person without pasta - don't add pasta until you are ready to reheat and serve.)
Cook pasta (any kind but I like angel hair or vermicelli) in soup and serve with grated Pecorino romano cheese (and a good bread to sop up after you eat all the pasta...)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

my mom's bread crumb and stuffed artichoke recipe

Get some quality bread, Italian preferably. Not the stuff made at the grocery stores! The inside of that stuff is gummy. *edit 2019 - some grocery store bread is pretty good these days.  But support your local bakery if you can! * Get bread from a real bakery. Cut it into pieces and let it dry out thoroughly. But not stale...
To make the bread dry but not stale, get a whole loaf of good fresh bread that is not sliced, and cut it so the insides will show, i.e. down the middle (longways) to expose the white. Then cut it again into big pieces. Then leave them out on the counter on a tray and check them, switch them around 'cause you might see one side get drier than the other. Leave them overnight for 3 days. You could always stick it in the oven and get it hot but not toasted, and then when you pull it out it will get dry quicker. Taste them and make sure they don't have a stale taste before you grind them up.
Grate the bread in the food processor.
Add 1 cup of grated cheese for every 2.5 cups of bread crumbs.
Add some green onion, maybe 3 per batch (as she said, all of this depends on how much bread crumbs you intend to make. Let's pretend it's a full bowl on a food processor. The green onion is an ESSENTIAL part of this recipe). Add lots of fresh garlic, a pinch of oregano *do not put oregano in the breadcrumbs if you're stuffing artichokes*, several fresh leaves of basil, and process these ingredients until fine and add to the crumbs and cheese mixture. She told me not to overdo it on the oregano, but not to worry about overdoing the fresh garlic. Too much oregano can ruin a dish; I'm not sure there can be too much garlic!
Buy a slice of cured ham, preferably Hamilton brand. Wash and dry the ham. For every 3 cups of bread crumbs add ¼ cup of ham diced into little cubes.
I didn't ask her about salt and pepper. The cheese and ham will add some salt. Taste the raw crumb mixture and see if they need any salt. You don't want them too salty!

You can freeze this recipe, and use it for alot of different recipes. We use it to stuff artichokes, bread pork chops and chicken...

For the artichokes - buy some nice looking artichokes that are not the pointy kind preferably - you know how some are more flat and round on the top? I prefer those.
Cut off the tops of the big leaves (use a knife to slice the top flat). You're just trying to remove the tips of the leaves that have thorns on them. Look at the pictures above- the artichokes are mostly whole. Leave the "choke" - it's easy to eat around. Cut the stems off so the artichokes will sit flat on a plate. Peel the stems and set aside. Spread the leaves and wash the artichokes thoroughly, then set them top down on paper towels to drain.

Stuff the bread crumbs into every crack and crevice on the artichokes. Spread the leaves and aggressively stuff the artichokes until they are huge. Make sure to wipe off the crumbs from the bottom of the artichokes because the crumbs will burn there if they remain. Set them in a big pot so they are tightly enough together that they will not tip over. You can put the peeled stems in here, too - they are yummy. *CAREFULLY* add some salted water to the pot, just an inch or two or three, not too much or you'll wash out the stuffing from the artichokes; not too little or they'll burn on the bottom. Drizzle some olive oil on top of each artichoke. Cover and steam until they are tender. Keep an eye on the water and add as needed to make sure they don't burn on the bottom.

When they are done - eat them! Which can be challenging. You don't use a knife and fork, use your fingers. The larger leaves you must scrape with your teeth then set aside. The smaller leaves can be eaten whole. The choke cannot be eaten, but the heart of the artichoke below the choke is delicious.

*UPDATE 04-15*.   I had a eureka moment, a simple one but useful to remember.   Grate a batch of bread in the food processor.  Add the cheese, green onion, garlic, ham, and fresh basil.   Stuff some artichokes. Then grate another batch of bread... this way you are not wasting time making a big bunch of breadcrumbs you don't need.  If you are short on time and need to get this recipe done, this can be a big help.

Monday, September 7, 2009


I grew 7 basilico plants this summer. Pronouced ba-sili-cau. That's sweet basil. Saturday I culled the leaves and went to my mom's to make pesto. Not pest-oh. Bay-stho. My family had pesto before pesto was cool.
We used her small food processor. Some folks would shake their heads at this. Well, when you get to be a 79 year old great-grandma, you can still use your mortle and pestle. We used the food processor. We used the 's' shaped blade.
First though we washed the basilico leaves, by filling a pot with water, putting some leaves in, not too many at a time, stirring them around, lifting a handful out, shaking out the excess water, and putting them on clean kitchen towels spread out on the counter. Each time we would empty the pot of leaves we would drain the pot and wash it out with some more water, then fill again.
Then we left the leaves to dry and went shopping for a couple of hours.

When we got back, we set up the food processor and my job was to put in a few leaves at a time, pulse them, add a few more, pulse them, making sure I wasn't cutting them too much or they would be reduced to goo. At times I used a wooden spoon to push down the uncut leaves, pull up some of the cut leaves and clean off the blades. After the processor bowl was about half full, my mama added 2-3 large cloves of garlic. We like garlic. You can add too much she says, she goes by the smell of the mixture in the air. I think this is a learn by error process. I would probably be happy with the 'error' batches. Then we added 3-4 heaping tablespoons of grated pecorino romano. And then I put the lid on and she drizzled/poured extra virgin olive oil through the top hole; we would stop every 5 seconds or so and check the contents until she felt it had the right consistency. Then I spooned out the pesto into little jelly jars she had saved. We topped off the jars with more olive oil. Then we would start over with the next handful of leaves. I believe we made 7 or 8 batches. I filled 3 small jars and most of one regular sized mason jar (mine!).
This will keep 3 weeks or so, she says.
I can freeze it, she says it will change color and she doesn't like the frozen version nearly as much, but that is what I am going to do. But she says not to freeze it in the jar, so I must put it in ziplock bags.

And that is the simple way we make pesto.

notes - we use grated pecorino romano, sheep's milk, that my brother sells in his store. It is the best, I do mean best, grated cheese I have ever had. If I didn't have access to it, I would grate my own. It's that good - I prefer it to grating my own. Even the grated romano I bought at Whole Foods does not have the flavor of this cheese. I will try to find out who makes it. We have to keep it in the freezer because it has high moisture content and would spoil fast in the fridge.

-we don't put pine nuts in it. Momma likes pine nuts; I do not. My mom says that back in the days of yore pine nuts simply weren't available to buy in B'ham so she never used them. Also our family doctor and his wife never put pine nuts in their pesto, and we are following their venerable lead.

-doctor- that was Dr. Botta and his wife, who had a garden full of basilico, who would make huge batches of pesto to give as gifts, who according to my mom did use a mortar and pestle. Years ago when Mrs. Botta was too elderly to harvest her basilico anymore, she invited my mom and I to come get some to make our own pesto. I will never forget her garden. We harvested, if I recall correctly, two paper grocery bags full of basil leaves. And didn't come close to putting a visible dent in the amount of basil there.

-basilico - that's the Italian word for it. The amazing Internet tells me that the sicilian word for basil comes from the greek word for it - "basilikon", which explains the pronunciation - the stress is at the end instead of the beginning like the Italian. I would spell it basilicau phonetically.

This whole process took quite some time, but then again we were making a lot of it. It would be easy to make just a bit at a time for a treat at your home. After we settled into watching football, my mom decided to put on some fettucine and we had it with the fresh pesto, nothing else no butter just the pesto and a little of the pasta water to keep it thin enough, a touch more grated romano on top. It was incredible.