Archive for April, 2011

SIZZLING ITALIAN MEATBALLS

There is nothing like really good Italian Meatballs, bursting with the flavor of garlic, onions and herbs and made light and fluffy with the use of eggs.

To make your own Meatballs you will need just a few ingredients.   First of all you need the  meat (ground beef is my favorite – lean – but some people prefer turkey or chicken or a combination of beef, veal and pork.)  For every pound of beef you will need:

  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Italian Style Bread Crumbs
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground Black Pepper
  • 3 Tbsps. Romano Cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. minced Parsley

 

Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well by squeezing the ingredients together with your hands.  (You may wear plastic gloves if you so desire) Be sure that all the ingredients are evenly combined and well mixed.

Shape the meat mixture into golf ball size portions (using a #20 or 30 food scoop works really well) If you are using the scoop, scoop each portion first and place on an oiled tray.  Then moisten your hands with cold water and finish shaping the meat into round balls.

There are two methods of cooking:

I –    Place the Meatballs on a foil lined jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides) and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15  20  minutes.  Finish cooking them in the sauce of your choice.

OR

 

II –  Heat about 1/4 cup of Olive Oil in a large skillet over medium high heat;  add the meatballs to the hot oil  and  cook  until  brown on the cooked side.  Gently turn over and cook on the other side.  Remove from the skillet and blot on paper towels, then add to the sauce of your choice.

To see the meatballs sizzling please check out Youtube.

You can make the meatballs early in the day and refrigerate until you are ready to add them to the sauce.

The quantities above will yield approximately 12 – 15 meatballs.

 

For our Spaghetti and Meatball dinner I made a mushroom sauce with onions, garlic and crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes.  I used plenty of fresh Basil and about 1-2 tsps. dried Oregano.  You can use any kind of pasta that you like but tonight I went traditional and used De Cecco Spaghetti.  A mixed green salad and garlic/cheese bread finished off the meal along with mango iced tea.

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by sylveee - 2011/04/22 at 10:38 PM

Categories: Dinner Ideas, Italian, Main, Pasta   Tags: , , , , , ,

CINCO DE MAYO – FESTIVAL TIME

ENTERTAINING FOR CINCO DE MAYO

Cinco de Mayo is the Fifth of May and is a Mexican national Holiday which celebrates the Mexican Victory over the French at Puebla in 1862.  Cinco de Mayo is a time for celebration and fiestas throughout Mexico and throughout much of the United States. Cities such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago and Colorado have Cinco de Mayo Festivals.  For those of us who do not live near where these festivities are planned or who like to celebrate at home, Cinco de Mayo is a great time to have your own party, whether it be for family, friends or your children.  Your party can be as elaborate or as simple as you would like to make it.  Sometimes though, simple can be best.  When one tries to be elaborate, many complications can get in the way, so the following paragraphs will be a guide to a simple Cinco de Mayo Celebration at home either in your house or backyard.

Let’sstart with the decorations.  The first thing you would want to buy would be the center piece of your party and that is a Pinanta.  A pinata is made from paper maiche and comes in many different shapes and is usually filled with candy and other treats.   The Mexican Flag is Red, White and Green and much of the Paper Goods  that are made for Cinco de Mayo will be made in those colors but there will also be additional varieties that are very colorful.  You can keep it simple and purchase solid shades so that leftovers can be used for other parties or you can go all out and buy paper goods that are made specifically for this event. Following is a list of paper goods and other items that you may wish to purchase for a Cinco de Mayo party:

  • Tablecloths & Napkins
  • Paper or Plastic Plates and Cups
  • Cutlery to Match
  • Streamers
    (these can be made from crepe paper)
  • Mexican
    Flag (small paper ones for favors or party bags)
  • A piñata ]to fill with goodies and for the children to break
  • A Punch Bowl

The next item to think about would be the food you serve.  A great way to serve food for a large crowd is to have a ‘build your own taco bar’ Purchase or prepare the meat fillings and set them out in warmers or chafing dishes for guests to help themselves.  You would also need a variety of condiments.  Listed below are suggested fillings for Tacos and Condiments to go along with them.

  • Carne Asada (Beef)
  • Tomato Salsa
  • Carnitas (Pork)
  • Guacamole
  • Chicken
  • Shredded Cabbage or Lettuce
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Diced Tomatoes

Additional Items

Crema (Mexican version of Creme Fraiche)

Tortilla Chips

Grilled Scallions (Green Onions)

Sliced Olives

Radishes

Cilantro Leaves

Of course you are going to need tortillas for your tacos.  Authentic tacos are made with soft shells which you can just steam, microwave or heat up on a hot grill or over a gas flame.  If you like crispy shells (best made with corn tortillas) you can do them ahead of time or purchase them already made.

Most of the meat items and condiments can be made or prepared ahead of time.  If making the meat items ahead of time, undercook them slightly so that when you reheat them they won’t get overcooked.  Shredded Cabbage keeps better than shredded lettuce and is actually more authentic than lettuce.  Salsa keeps well for many days, but guacamole is best made right before serving as the avocado has a tendency to darken. Non Alcoholic Beverages such as Virgin Strawberry Margaritas or  horchata can be served.

Other Menu Items which you may wish to have are:

  • Fruit Salad
  • Rice & Beans
  • Enchiladas
  • Taquitos
  • Burritos

Watch our website (Recipe Section) for Mexican Recipes you may wish to try.

 

 

 

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Posted by sylveee - 2011/04/21 at 11:56 PM

Categories: Birthday Parties, Cooking for Everyone, Cooking for Kids, Holiday Ideas, Holiday Meals, Holiday Tidbits, Main   Tags: , , , , , ,

Grandma’s Buns

 

Grandma's Buns

 

While my brother and I were growing up, my Mother did a lot of baking and cooking.  One of the favorite things that everyone remembers about my Mother were her buns.  My sons, grandchildren, nephews and niece remember Grandma’s buns.  That was one of the favorite things about visiting my parent’s home or when the grandparents visited ours.  What the younger generation doesn’t know is how those buns came into being.

Every weekend as far back as I can remember, my Mother made what she called coffee cake.  Her coffee cake was nothing like the coffee cake that is normally called coffee cake.  Most coffee cakes are made with baking powder and are crumbly.  My Mother’s ‘coffee cake’ was more like everybody’s favorite – Cinnamon Rolls, made with a yeast dough.

My Mother usually made it in a ring style.  The dough was rolled out like Cinnamon Rolls, buttered and dressed with Cinnamon Sugar and sometimes with raisins or candied fruit.  Then the dressed dough was rolled into a tube.  This is where the difference came in – my Mother’s roll wasn’t cut into individual pieces.  The tube was fastened into a circle and pinched together at the ends.  Then the tube was partially cut about every 2-3 inches.  It was placed on a greased  baking sheet  and then each partially cut section of dough was turned so that the layers of cinnamon could be seen.

Essentially the rolls were shaped into a flower-like pastry.  During the winter holidays my Mother made these and topped them with a Vanilla Glaze and put Cherries on top.  My Mother would wrap these cakes up in  cellophane wrap  and my Father brought every one of his co-workers one of my Mother’s creations for their holiday gift.

My Mother Naomi made these rolls every Friday and they were our Saturday breakfast.  We usually ate them spread with butter, not frosting.  I cannot remember a Saturday morning that we did not have these rolls.  The year that I was nine my Mother had surgery for a hernia and could not make the dough.  I convinced my Mother to let me do it and while she instructed and supervised, I made the dough for our weekend rolls.  I don’t remember how they turned out, I only remember making the dough, but I do remember that my Mother talked about it to her friends and family members for a long time afterwards so they must have turned out pretty well.

As the years went by and the grandchildren were born, my Mother’s ‘coffee cake’ somehow evolved into little twisted buns that were always available for the grandchildren to eat when they visited or were brought to the children’s homes when my Mother visited them.  In my home, we always had to watch out for my second eldest son Joel, who would have eaten the whole batch if allowed.

The dough is a rich butter dough and melts in your mouth.  My children always had fond memories of these buns and all of the sudden one year it dawned on me, why don’t I make them.  I knew exactly how my Mother made them and I had been making Cinnamon Rolls for years so now when there is a family event, I make ‘Grandma’s Buns for the grandchildren (my children and niece and nephew) and of course my grandchildren.

Several years ago I flew to Ohio with my son Joel, my granddaughter and grandson to attend the graduation of my eldest grandson who was attending school there.  I made a batch of buns to take on the trip and to bring to my grandson in Ohio.  The buns never made it all the way to Ohio.  Between my son and grandchildren, they disappeared while we were on the plane.  Since we were staying at my Grandson’s home in Ohio, I was put to work right away making another batch.  Fortunately I know the recipe by heart.  For my version of Grandma’s Buns check our recipe section.  The recipe will be under Baked Items and then under Bread.  http://sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/baked-goods/breads/baked-productsbread/   So, this is the story of ‘Grandma’s Buns’.  Anybody else out there have stories like this.  It would be fun to hear them.

 

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Posted by sylveee - 2011/04/16 at 7:51 PM

Categories: Baking, Breakfast Ideas, Cooking for Everyone, Dessert Ideas, Food as Gifts, Main   Tags: , , , ,

Pasta, Pasta # One: Flat Pasta

 

Mushroom Papparadelle

When you walk down the pasta isle in the market how do you choose which pasta to buy and which to use for what purpose?  There are flat pastas, round pastas, hollow pastas and twisted pastas.  There is pasta that is made to look like rice (Italian orzo) and pasta that resembles gnocchi (potato dumplings).  There are shells and tubes and then there is pasta that is made into shapes to fit the season.

To clear up some of the confusion, this will be an ongoing series that deals with different types of pasta.  For our first installment we will deal with the flat pastas. But before we get into the shapes of pasta, you might want to consider what pasta is made from.  The best quality pasta is made from semolina (hard durum wheat) and eggs with maybe a little salt and some olive oil thrown in.   There is pasta that has no eggs in it and then there is pasta made for those with gluten allergies.  To avoid pasta with gluten, you can buy  rice pasta  usually in the Asian Isle in the market) and pasta made from corn flour.  There is pasta that is made domestically and then there is the imported dried variety.  There are many types of Italian Pasta, most of which are very good.  It used to be very difficult to find pasta imported from Italy, but now you can find them most anywhere.

There is fresh pasta which you can usually purchase from your local Italian deli or you can make it yourself.  There are many  pasta machines available on the market which help to make the production of pasta at home a fairly simple task.

The best way to cook pasta is to have plenty of boiling water which has been salted.  The salt not only helps to flavor the pasta, but it also increases the temperature of the water which makes the pasta cook more quickly.  Dried pastas usually have a recommended cooking time on the package and it is wise to follow that at least until you have cooked the pasta at least once.  Pasta should be cooked to ‘al dente’ which means “to the tooth”.  You should be able to bite into it, but not have it crunch.

The flat pastas include lasagna, linguini, fettuccini and papparadelle.   Dried Lasagna noodles are usually about 2-3” wide and can be purchased in boxes either uncooked or precooked.  Domestic lasagna noodles are longer than the imported ones; however most of the imported ones are of a better quality.  You can usually also purchase fresh pasta which can be used for lasagna from your local Italian deli.  Lasagna may either be served simply with a Bolognese (meat) sauce with shredded parmesan or more traditionally as a layered  casserole. The sauce for lasagna can vary from marinara (tomato) to Bolognese, mushroom, vegetarian or seafood.  There will usually be a layer of pasta, a layer of ricotta cheese, a layer of sauce and a layer of mozzarella.  Sometimes the pasta and cheese is layered without the sauce and the sauce is added at serving time.

The narrowest of the flat pasta is linguini; linguini is long narrow pasta (about ¼” wide) which can be served with any number of sauces.  A favorite that is served with linguini are clams in either a white wine sauce or a spicy red sauce. The next size up is fettuccini which is usually served with an Alfredo sauce (cream or béchamel) made with butter, heavy cream and parmesan.  It is utterly delicious, easy and simple to make and loaded with calories.  Not for those who have to watch their cholesterol intake!

Other than lasagna, papparadelle are the widest at about one inch in width.  Papparadelle can be served with most any kind of sauce.  Papparadelle go especially with vegetables primavera as they provide a nice contrast to the vegetable and are substantive enough to provide contrasting texture and flavor to the vegetables.

All of the above pastas are also made with variations in flavor.  You can find [amazon  Spinach ],  Tomato or Squid Ink Pasta.  The Squid Ink is a little more difficult to find and will probably be in specialty shops.  In addition to the manufactured dried pastas there are also gourmet pastas which are made in different colors and sometimes have a decorative edging.  Choose the ones that most appeal to you,  add a flavorful  sauce and make a salad and voila!  You have a wonderful meal!  See our recipe section for Papparadelle with Mushroom Cream Sauce. http://sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/dinner/pappardelle-with-mushroom-cream-sauce/

 

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Posted by sylveee - 2011/04/13 at 7:25 PM

Categories: Cooking for Everyone, Dinner Ideas, Italian, Main, Pasta   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

CULINARY MAKEOVERS – Number Four SPINACH/MASHED POTATOES

What do you do with one leftover portion of mashed potatoes and a small amount of frozen spinach?  Well, here is what I did with them.

Mashed Potatoes -whisk them up really well to get out all the lumps and then add one beaten egg and mix well.

Spinach – Thaw and drain well.

Combine the foregoing ingredients with ¼ cup chopped onions and 2 Tbsps. shredded Parmesan Cheese and then add salt and pepper to taste.

Butter a 1 quart casseroleand transfer the Potato/Spinach mixture to the casserole.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the mixture is hot.

Place under the broiler for up to 5 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.

Serve immediately.  This amount will yield 2 medium portions.  For more portions, just increase the ingredients.

This dish is very tasty and you do not have to wait for leftovers to create it.  Just mix up some mashed potatoes and spinach (fresh or frozen), chopped onion and season to taste.  This is a good way to get your starch and vegetables all in one dish.

Other vegetables that you can add to this dish are sautéed mushrooms, chives, green onions, or other vegetables that you may have such as chopped broccoli or cauliflower.  Use your imagination and see what you can come up with.

If anyone does come up with a similar creation, please let me know. [email protected]

It will be interesting to see what other palates will create.

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Posted by sylveee - 2011/04/08 at 4:29 PM

Categories: Cooking for Everyone, Dinner Ideas, Leftovers   Tags: , , , , ,