Sunday, March 30, 2014


Also, I have tons of recipes from sources that I cannot republish, so if you need a recipe, do not hesitate to ask me by email.

Temporary table of contents

You can browse through the blog by simply going to the bottom of each page and clicking on OLDER POSTS. If you want to find something specific follow the instructions below.

If this seems difficult, and I have no doubt that it is, just type a search in the white space at the top for what you are looking for.

Until I get things in a more concrete format, I am giving you an easy way to find recipes you might like. The format of the blog makes it difficult to do this any other way except by date. So, you will find general photos and posts at the very beginning. These include links to other blogs family photos and statements about the blog.

On the right side find the Blog Archive below my picture.

Click on 2008 to find recipes from outside the family or food related stories.

On the same part of the page, you will have a 2009 list of past posts by year and month. Click on that 2009 to reveal the months of the year. Click on them to find the recipes in the following categories:

January: Side Dishes/Contorni/Potato
February: Alcohol/Alcole
March: Desserts/Dolci
April: Fish/Pesce
May: Chicken/Pollo
June: Meats/carne
July: Pasta and Sauces/Pasta e Salsa
August: Bread, Pizza and related/Pane, Pizze et altri
September: Salads, Vegetables, Appetizers and Soups/Insalata, Antipasti e Minestre
October: weight measure and temperature conversions

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Desperate Attempt to Lose Weight or at Least Be Healthier

I decided that it was time I took the bull by the horns.  My partner and now husband of 13 years has cancer....a particularly painful form.  I am basically the sole caregiver, though we have Hospice and his nephews are helping out.  My nerves are shot, and I have been eating to make up for all that John is NOT eating.  I cannot envision a life without John.  But you did not start reading this to hear about my troubles.

I thought that I had better get back on track with a Mediterranean diet.  Also, I expect to be on a more restricted diet...budget-wise, so I limited myself to $50.00 for a week.  I could easily have dropped this down to half that as it turns out.

The Mediterranean diet is fairly easy and not TERRIBLY expensive with a couple of exceptions.  I figured that this would be a good trial run, as I hope to retire to Italy, and guess what they eat there!?

Fruits and vegetables, pasta(whole wheat would be good though not necessarily traditional), legumes, fish, garlic and olive oil are hallmarks of the diet there.  Protein, other than the fish, comes from eggs and tiny amounts of meat, used more as a flavoring than as a slab of flesh.  A glaring exception to this rule is the Chianina beef steaks.  They are a T-bone...of course there are other cuts.. which is cut like 3 inches thick...barely heated through over a bed of coals, and served sliced from flat side to flat side about 3/4 of an inch thick.  Absolutely a luxury dish in Tuscany.

I bought:

1 can of Chick peas(dried beans and peas are cheaper by far, but I do not have the time this week to deal with be honest, I do not know what I would do with a whole pot of these.. I have enough trouble getting through a can on my own unless I am making soup.).
1 can of white Cannelini beans
2 Red Bell Peppers (I had a small bag of mini peppers in the refrigerator)
Small Potatoes about 20 red skin minis.
4 apples
Half a pound of Prosciutto Crudo
1 pound of frozen bay scallops
2 fillets of sole
6 sweet sausages
2 baby zucchini
1 dozen eggs
1 bunch of Asparagus
1 bottle of capers in brine(dry salted are better, but not as easily available)
1/2 pound of mixed olives
1 ball of Mozzarella
1 pound bag of carrots
1 jar of Romano cheese(I would usually grate my own, but I was trying to do one weeks worth of food at one time instead of buying a big piece)
2 heads of garlic
1 small container of Gorgonzola
1 pound of Spaghetti
(I had flour and whole wheat flour at home)
2 pounds of Plum tomatoes
1 loaf of wheat bread.
Fruit juices
1 container of pesto

Alternatives for me would include:

Calamari, swordfish, tuna(canned or fresh), cod or salt cod, shrimp, Eggplant, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Savoy cabbage, radicchio, pears, lentils, Pancetta, Salami, Chicken, pepperoni, olive oil, grapes and raisins. dates, citrus fruit, Aged Provolone, Fontina.

I roasted a whole lasagna pan full of Italian vegetables in olive oil salt and pepper and whole cloves of garlic.  I will use them bit by bit all week in various combinations to save work.  Sometimes I add balsamic vinegar.

Day one, Tuesday:

1 Egg and grilled peppers in a bread frame.

Sole covered in chopped black olives, chopped tomato, capers, chopped onion and a few Tablespoons of left over marinara, baked and served with a few spears of roasted Asparagus, and about a cup of pasta.

I was nervous about a health care issue for John late in the day, so I had a big piece of chocolate cake...Damn...I made up for it by having a big apple for supper.

Day two Wednesday:

No breakfast...that is my norm.

I baked fresh whole wheat rolls and filled them while hot, with roasted vegetables (I made a lasagna pan full the previous day) and Prosciutto.

1 sausage, a cup of pasta with pepper and Romano cheese and roasted veggies with a bit of Romano cheese.

Day three Thursday:

1 cup of whole grain cereal
A three egg omelet with grilled onions, red peppers and one sliced sausage.
Left over fillet of sole as above.

Day four Friday:

A broiled open face sandwich ,wheat roll, baby figs, walnuts  and goat cheese with Prosciutto.  Drizzle with honey.  I do not like honey as a rule, but this is wonderful.
1 cup of spaghetti with Gorgonzola sauce and roasted vegetables.

I cup of whole grain cereal with almonds

One apple

Day five Saturday:

Whole grain cereal

A Fritatta made with three eggs, roasted vegetables, a cup of Pasta and a bit of Parmesan cheese.  Heat the veggies and pasta in the pan and pour the beaten egg with a little water into the pan to cover.  Fry on both sides.

Apple and Prosciutto ham.  Olives, marinated mushrooms and rounds of grilled bread drizzled with olive oil topped with roasted asparagus.

Here I ran into a road block.  John wanted Pizza and felt a little, left out, of the routine, so I went off the TRUE PATH and ate with him and made pizza(not really a variation on the Mediterranean, but the volume and toppings sidetracked me)...back to the routine tomorrow, or when I regain my composure and resolve.  I will continue with the days as if they were in sequence.  Just like an alcoholic...It is best to confess your sins!!! 

Day six Sunday:

Whole wheat cereal

Hard boiled egg, toasted whole wheat bread, rubbed with a clove of garlic...served with  warm white bean Hummus, chopped tomato and red pepper. 

Apple, ham  and toasted Italian bread.

Day seven Monday:

Whole wheat cereal

1/2 cup of Grilled bay scallops in olive oil with garlic.  Served with pasta and a more or less, fresh sauce of chopped tomatoes and asparagus.

Grilled vegetables, potatoes and prosciutto.

Left over from my purchase,

I have half a bag of scallops, one cup of bean hummus, most of a bag of onions, a can of chick peas, one tomato, 1 red pepper, most of a container of pesto, the ball of mozzarella, most of the olives, 3/4 bag of carrots, half of the Gorgonzola, and a number of other scraps and odd and ends.

Obviously, I did not lose any weight, but I feel better knowing that it is possible to live on far less than $50.00 and I know that that week of food was very healthy compared to my normal fare.  Perhaps this proves that I will be able to eat during my retirement years...I knew I would have to cut something...I was hoping it was not going to be food!!!  

Additional meals:

Roasted potatoes carrots and peppers in oil, served with several slices of Genoa Salami and two slices of bread with Parmesan.

Steam half a bunch of asparagus(that was just what appealed to my pocket book and my craving this week...could be green beans, broccoli florets etc... cut them into two inch pieces.  Saute half an onion minced, in plenty of olive oil.  Add one chopped tomato, and three slices of chopped Prosciutto crudo... cook till the tomato and onion have softened.  Add the Asparagus and 2 cups of cooked pasta shells.  When all is heated through, add Parmesan and serve.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Best Roast Beef Ever

I used to make a lot of roasts.  John and I have gotten sick of the rapid fire "turkey holidays".   For several years, we have done rib roasts for Christmas, and have always been thrilled with the results.
Mom always coated roasts with flour, salt, pepper and other seasonings, then roasted the meat at a high temp to start and finished it slow.  We usually had Eye of the Round though...tough, but great flavor.  John hates the tough texture though, so the Rib Roast was the roast of choice.
However....I doubt if I will ever do a Rib Roast again!
I have discovered the charms of the New York Strip Roast.  This is just an uncut version of the New York Strip steak.  This is not a cheap cut, and you will choke when you see the price, but if it is well trimmed, it is still a good value.  see below. 
It really is best if you buy a meat thermometer, and understand that about 145 leaves you with Medium Rare beef.  I like a bit more well done, and John's family is into still screaming beef!
Adjust as required.

The roast is quick and easy to do.  It is a rather flat roast, and you really don't think it will feed anyone.  It looks small for the servings it yields.  We served six people on the day of John's sister's party.  We served three the following day reheated.  There is enough in the four and a half pound roast I bought for at least four more people!
So, that makes 13 people served, out of a 4.5 pound roast!  It does not stay in the oven very long.  It has very little waste.  There is a line of gristle on one side, and you have to ask the butcher to trim a lot of the fat, or do it yourself.  There is a single solid layer on one side.  Mine had a generous layer, and still worked out well for servings.

Take the trimmed roast and lay it in a roasting pan with the fat side up.
Generously coat the entire roast with butter or olive oil.
Salt and pepper the entire roast and give it a nice sprinkling of Thyme.
If desired, try a bit of dried garlic, or massage the roast with a couple of crushed garlic cloves.  The paste of garlic should be massaged deep into the meat.  Any amount left on the surface could burn.

Place the roast in a 500 degree oven for about fifteen minutes, or till seared all over.  But keep an eye on it and leave it in till the color suits you.
Reduce the temperature of the oven to 300 degrees,
Roast for about 20 minutes and begin checking the temperature at the thickest part of the meat.

When it reaches temperature, remove the roast to a platter and cover loosely with foil.  Allow to rest for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, the roast does not produce a ton of liquid.  But you may have a nice fond on the pan to add water or wine to get the makings of a good gravy.

My sister just put her pan drippings and pan directly over the flame and thinned it down with water or wine.  She began whisking the liquid and sifting in flour till it thickened to taste.

I like caramelizing onions and mushrooms in butter..3 T of butter.  Brown, then add water, reduce, brown, thin again and reduce till you just have onions, mushrooms and butter, and no water.

Then I add three tablespoons of flour and a bit of Thyme and allow it to fry till just till colored slightly.

Thin the roux you have just made with the pan drippings and extra broth, wine or water.  Taste for salt and pepper.

Keep warm till time to serve.  Sift in a bit of flour and whisk till thick if it is too thin.

Big pieces of meat can be done similarly if you like a nice even color.  You can sear just as well in a frying pan, then put the meat in a low oven to finish.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Spicchiteddi della Nonna Maria Picone from Maria Taranto

Spicchiteddi della Nonna Maria Picone
Set oven to 350 F
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp blk pepper ground
1/2 tsp cloves ground
1-2 tsp cinnamon ground
1/3 cup diced candied citrus peel
3/4  cup molasses or vino cotto
Pieces of walnuts for garnish
Combine dry ingredients in a  large bowl. Add citrus peel. Make a well in dry ingredients and add molasses ( or vino cotto).  Knead until dough becomes smooth and shiney, less than five minutes. Cut off pieces of dough enough to make a rope about 6 inches long and about 3/4 inch thick. Flatten slightly.  From one short end cut three parallel slits towards the center of the rope so that you have three "arms."  Turn the rope around and do the same at the other end.  Now twist the arms into spirals, in the same or opposite directions.  Be creative.  Your cookies will look a bit like curly cues or sea urchins, etc.  Press a piece of walnut into the center of the cookie or wherever there is a space.  With spatula place on baking sheets covered with parchment paper or greased with oil.  Bake from 7-10 minutes.  Do not overcook or you will have rocks to eat.  Cookies get harder as they cool and age.  Place in a tight container to store.   Best Luck!
Maria Taranto

Maria adds that her grandmother used ground ginger instead of the cinnamon and cloves.