Pesto Sauce

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Part 2  Cooking for my Childhood Friends

“As I dropped the pasta in the pot of boiling water I called out to my friends, “How do you want the pasta cooked?”  I was wincing waiting for the answer.  They all matter-of-factly answered together, “al dente!” My heart leaped for joy as I realized they have come a long way from when I first met them 50 years ago!

Growing up in Hyde Park so many years ago, I was always taken aback whenever pasta was served.  I am not talking the way it was served in the school cafeteria.  They did have a lot of children to serve!  But I could never bring myself to eat the school cafeteria pasta.  Depending on whom the lunch lady was, the spaghetti varied between, large worm- like spaghetti swirling on my plate with runny sauce or it was scooped out with an ice cream scoop.

Even the neighborhood deli always had cooked pasta with sauce in their display case.  I often rode my bike to the corner store with my friends to get candy.  I would find myself looking on with curiosity when the deli man  scooped up cold pasta mixed with sauce into containers. Watching him squish down the pasta to make room for more, I shuddered as the soft pasta flattened into a pudding like consistency.  I just couldn’t understand why someone would want to eat that mush!

One day I had an opportunity to watch neighbor-hood mom cook pasta and I began to understand this phenomenon.  When we made pasta at home it was always well attended to.  Meaning when you dropped the pasta in the boiling water my mom stood by stirring and checking when the pasta was done.  Just when my mom thought it was ready she would take it out blow on it and would hand it to me. I had the privilege to tell her when it was “al dente”. “Al dente” was when it was just short of being fully cooked through, firm but not soft. The pasta was then immediately drained and plated into individual plates which was served right away. We actually had an assembly line to the table to speed up the process.

When my neighbor cooked pasta, it was left in the pot boiling while she attended to other cooking.  The pasta boiled and boiled.  After the water was good and starchy she drained the soft limp pasta. But that wasn’t enough! She then washed the gooey pasta to make sure all the goop was rinsed away.  It was then put in a large bowl with sauce. It sat while everyone slowly came to the table.  Maybe that’s why cooked pasta was offered at the deli.  This mush pasta took all day to make!

Years ago American pasta was not made from durum wheat. It was made from the same flour they used for soft bread. So technically it was hard to make pasta “al dente”. Besides needing a quick technique to serve pasta one also needed imported pasta from Italy made from durum wheat.  Italian pasta was so much more expensive back then and not accessible to everyone.

America has come a long way. We have so many more options now and most pasta is made from durum wheat.  I have to believe that my Italian family had a large part in the way pasta is served today. Well at least in Hyde Park!”

See our Pesto Sauce recipe.

Pesto Sauce Recipe

 

Ingredients:
1 cup of chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 ½ cup chopped fresh basil
½  cup grated cheese (parmagiana is best)
½  extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup toasted walnut or
¼ cup of toasted pignoli nuts
1 clove garlic
¼ tsp salt
½ boiled potato (1/4 mashed)  yellow potato is creamiest to use

Procedure:
Add parsley
parsley 1

basil
basil

and coarsely chop
chop the basil

Toast the pignoli in a small skillet for a few minutes until lighty browned
toast the pignoli

Add grated parmagiana cheese, garlic, olive oil and salt
add ingredients for pesto

Blend together either in blender, food processor or an immersion blender. Then add boiled yellow potato
mix and then add cooked potato

and continue blending
creamy blended pesto

It is ready to serve.  Pesto is served mixed in with pasta.  Of course pasta “al dente.”

I made my friends a pasta that was served in the restaurant.  It was pasta that was layered with a ladle of hot marinara, a scoop of pesto, and topped with spoon of ricotta cheese.  We called it:

Pasta Amalfitano!

pesto amailfitano

Buon’ Appetito!

Chicken Scallopini alla Francese

cartoon chicken ala francese
“My dad was the first of his brothers to leave the apartment life over the restaurant to buy a house in the countryside.   The first day in our new home was both exciting and scary.  Living only with our immediate family without all of our Italian speaking aunts, uncles and cousins was an entirely new experience for us!  I even got my own room!! Mornings were so quiet!  No more dishes, pots and pans clinging and clanging!  As much as it was strange for us to go from an apartment dwelling with my huge Italian speaking family it was strange for our neighbors to have Italian immigrants that barely spoke English move into their community.   =

The first little girl I met was a pretty red haired girl the same age as I was! I was intrigued by her beautiful straight red hair!  She was just as awestruck by my long unruly curly hair and olive complexion.  My first day of school was a little intimidating. It was hard for me to fit in.  My parents were really stuck on making sure I knew my roots and were afraid that I would lose my Italian heritage if I became Americanized. It wasn’t only my Italian heritage; my dad had this old world opinion of what girls should be allowed to do. Because of my parents’ immigrant mentality and old world views they were reluctant to allow me to participate in childhood activities that my friends were accustomed too.  But my new friend made things so much easier.  She introduced me to her four best friends.   But instead of ignoring me my little group of friends accepted me for who I was.  On the other hand, it wasn’t as easy with my classmates.  I learned early on to hide a part of myself.  I was known as the shy quiet girl.

That little red haired girl and her friends were the only ones that got to know the real me.  I was myself with them.  I couldn’t help but let the loud Italian me out! They understood the struggles that I had with Italian and American culture and they helped me assimilate.  The little red haired girl taught me how to feed oatmeal to her baby sheep.   My short,  cute friend shared her beautiful Ukrainian Easter Eggs! My Hungarian friend shared her family ghost stories!  My other friend introduced me to cheese danishes. And then there was my friend who lived on the other side of town;  she showed me that Dads came home at 5 o’clock with dinner waiting for them!  I learned that I too could fit in the American melting pot!

The bond that I made 50 years ago with those friends was never broken! In fact we still are the best of friends and love hanging out with each other. We are all grown up now with children and grandchildren. As different as we all became, living in different states with a menagerie of careers, we are exactly what the old saying says,”The more things change, the more things stay the same!”  We all share that one thing that has kept us together all these years – the willingness to accept each other for who we are.

Some of us  met up this summer and spent a few days together. We went to the little red haired girl’s lakeside home and I cooked for them!  Please read on as I share the recipe I made for them!!”

Paula, Jodie, and Mary!!
Paula, Jodie and Mary!!

See our Francese Sauce recipe.

Francese Sauce Recipe

finished frances dish

Ingredients:
1 cup of chicken stock (unsalted)
5 TBSP butter
Juice of 1 ½ lemons (1/4 cup)
3 dashes of Tabasco
3 oz of sherry or white wine ( milder)
½ tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
2 sprigs of chopped Italian parsley
*Prepared Chicken Scallopini

Procedure:
Add all ingredients to prepared chicken scallopini and the whole wedges of lemon. (You also prepare sauce separately and add chicken later)

add all ingredients to francese

and simmer on medium heat until reduced and slightly thickened about 10 minutes. Remove chicken  and wedges of lemon and finish simmering until thickened.  Just about 2-3 minutes.

francese reducing

This sauce can be used for veal, chicken, shrimp, filet of sole, soft shell crabs….
Plate chicken and pour sauce over.  Garnish with a sprig of parsley.

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*We used chicken for this recipe:

A package of 2 skinless boneless breasts. Depending on the size of the breast…slice it into 3 horizontal slices .  Take each slice and cut it in half.  You will have 6 pieces.  Sometimes the meat departments will sell the chicken already in large scallopini slices which you will still have to slice in half.

Take one of the slices and put it in a plastic gallon size freezer bag ( freezer bags are thicker than the regular storage bags) using the flat part of the meat cleaver pound 3-4 times on one side and then flip to pound the chicken on the other side.  Do this to all the other 5 slices.  Using plastic freezer bags makes it easier to keep your kitchen clean and sanitary.

Beat up three eggs in a bowl and put ½  cup of flour (you may need more)  in another bowl.  Salt the slices of chicken on both sides, dredge in flour and then in the beaten egg.  These slices are then fried in a pan with vegetable oil until  golden in color.  Don’t worry if they aren’t cooked through because we finish cooking the chicken in the sauce.  After all the chicken has been prepared we set it aside and make the Francese Sauce.

Buon’ Appetito!!

and as my friends taught me to say:

“Dig In”!

God Bless America ala Nonna Concetta

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“However exciting it was for my parents and their siblings to start a restaurant business it really did take a toll on us children.  The three families lived in one apartment building and all the adults worked in “the restaurant” except for one sister. The one sister would babysit six children who were all under the age of five. Needless to say we children were desperately in need of some tender loving care.  The days we got to spend with Nonna (my grandmother) were memorable!   Nonna in her caring and nurturing ways cooked all of our favorites for us!  My brother and I absorbed all that love that we so desperately needed. As I got older I looked forward to listening to all her stories.  Even though they were sad stories she always prefaced them by how happy she was once her family came to America.  Nonna, a deeply religious woman when speaking of her life would always equate God answering her prayers with coming to America.

Nonna Concetta was born in 1913 just before World War I on the island of Ischia, an island in the bay of Napoli, Italy.   Her dad was a prominent fisherman where he and his brothers owned a fleet of fishing boats.   Nonna did not remember much about her mom because the mom died when Nonna was only 5 years old.   Right after the WWI while the island of Ischia was just getting back on its feet, a contagious illness ripped through the island like a tornado, leaving a trail of destruction in its path!  Some say that the soldiers brought it back with them. It was flu, so deadly that people would get sick before bed and not wake up. The infamous Spanish Pandemic Flu of 1918 affected young people ages ranging from 15-35.  This flu destroyed so many people so fast that there was a shortage of coffins, morticians and grave diggers. The unfortunate families had no other choice but to bury their loved ones at a mass grave located in the cemetery in Ischia Ponte.   Nonna’s mom was one of the victims buried in that mass grave.  For some reason it almost wiped out the entire side of the mom’s family.   But Nonna, her father and four siblings were spared.  The dad had no other choice but to marry right away so he had help to raise his five children.

It wasn’t the perfect family.  The children grieved for their mother while dealing with their newly married young step mother. The step mother was so overwhelmed by taking care of five young children that she was borderline abusive.   Nonna would tell me many stories of the step mother’s abuse and Nonna had turned to religion for solace praying for it to get better. One story that really saddened me was that being that she wasn’t allowed to attend school Nonna paid her step sister to teach her to read and write just so that she was able to read the bible. Nonna, a very tall beautiful woman remained in that house until she married at age 22, ecstatic to finally get away to start and raise her own family.  Her happiness did not last long because WWII broke out in 1939 and her husband had to serve as a Medic in Mussolini’s army for 6 years. It was difficult but she managed to raise 4 children on her own while her husband was away.  In 1945 the war ended and life was pretty good with my grandfather being back home. Although the family struggled they never went without any food.  Nonno, my grandfather not only farmed on the inherited piece of Nonna’s mom’s land but also was a fisherman.  My grandparents had three more children. Many families left Ischia to go find work and live a better life. After two wars Ischia was economically ruined.  Work was minimal and people struggled to make a living.  In 1949 Argentina was experiencing great prosperity under the Argentinean President Juan Peron and his wife Evita.  Nonno decided to go to Argentina to see if he can start a new life for his family.  Leaving his wife with 6 children and another child on the way Nonno set out for Argentina with the intention of his family to follow later.  He found prosperity in Argentina as soon as he arrived but unfortunately the prosperity was short lived.  The money that Nonno sent to Ischia had no value in the Italian currency and his family was literally starving. The church would send food to Nonna’s house but it wasn’t enough for a family of 7.  But Nonna persevered and she and her children helped themselves by knitting and making baskets to sell to tourists.  Nonno ended up staying in Argentina for three years before a heartfelt letter written by his daughter convinced him to return home. Finally life seemed good and Nonna was happy to have her husband back and the stress of taking caring 7 children on her own dissipated. But alas it was still very hard to make a living in Ischia.  Many Ischiatanos left to find work in other countries.  My grandmother’s sisters and brother ended up leaving Ischia for England, Australia and the US.  Nonno needed to find a better life for his family.  His two brothers had moved to Marlboro, NY and were doing well.  So he started the immigration process to move his family to New York. In 1955 Nonno, along with three of the older children moved to New York to prepare a life so the rest of his family could join him.  My mom, her sisters and Nonno worked very hard in factories located in Newburgh, NY.  In five years they made enough money to buy a house and were able to move the rest of the family to the US. In 1960 the day my Nonna stepped off the boat in NYC to join her whole family she vowed to never move back to Italy because for the first time in her life she was truly happy. There was food on the table that night and every night after that!  Her husband even made sure that the church was just 2 doors away.

It took 42 years but God finally answered all Nonna’s prayers!  To this day whenever I hear the words “God Bless America” I always think of Nonna’s relentless faith and her long journey to keep her family safe and together!”

See our Marinara Sauce recipe.
See our Chicken ala Parmagiana recipe.

Marinara Sauce Recipe

penne with marinara  

Ingredients:
28 ounce can of  whole plum tomatoes ( coarsely chopped)
1 ¼ cup of crushed tomatoes
¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
6 medium to large fresh basil leaves
10 sprigs of parsley (trim off the stems)
4 cloves of garlic chopped
1 ½ tsp of oregano
¾ tsp of sugar
½ tsp of salt
1/8 tsp of black pepper

Procedure:

  1. Combine all tomatoes in a medium pot
  2. Saute 4 cloves of garlic in 4 oz of extra virgin olive oil in a small skillet until garlic turns a golden brown.
  3. Immediately put chopped parsley in the garlic/oil and take out of the burner.
  4. Pour garlic/parsley/oil saute into the tomatoes
  5. Slice or tear basil leaves and fold in the tomatoes
  6. Add oregano, salt, pepper and sugar
  7. Bring to a boil and it is ready to serve

Chicken ala Parmagiana Recipe

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Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts (pounded well – make sure they they evenly pounded)
2 eggs
1/4 cup of milk
pinch of salt
1 cup of flour for dredging
2 cups of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
Corn oil or soybean oil
Mozzarella Cheese (either fresh or aged mozzarella)
Marinara Sauce (home made or the 825 MAIN Marinara Sauce)

Procedure:
pounded chicken
1. Pound chicken breasts well inside a gallon size freezer baggie.  Make sure that it evenly pounded.  If it’s uneven it will not fry evenly.

chicken dredged in flour
2. Dredge pounded chicken in flour.

chicken dipped in egg wash
3. Dip in egg wash (2 eggs beaten with 1/4 of milk)

patted on both sides
4. Then place the flour dredged chicken that has been dipped in egg wash into bread crumbs. Flip the chicken while patting it down into the breadcrumbs coating both sides well.

fry in oil
5. In a skillet place 1/2 cup of oil and heat on medium high.

chicken fried until golden
6.Fry the prepared chicken breast in the skillet. One piece of chicken at a time or the oil temperature will drop.  If the oil temperature drops the chicken cutlets will absorb all the oil. Fry for about 5 minutes on each side. The chicken will be golden brown in color. Keep an eye on the chicken so it doesn’t burn.

7. Drain on paper towels.

chickeb ladled with marinara
8.Place the chicken cutlets on a cookie sheet and top with ladles of marinara sauce. Amount of marinara sauce varies to your liking.  We just put enough to cover the cutlet.

chicken with mozzarella
9. Top with mozzarella cheese.  We used fresh mozzarella cheese.  But you can also use shredded mozzarella cheese or sliced mozzarella from the deli. Same with the mozzarella it is all to your liking.  We just put a couple of slices to cover but you can add more if you like.

10.  Place cookie sheet with prepared chicken ala parmagiana on second rack in oven and broil just until the mozzarella melts. About 5 to 10 minutes depending on your oven.

Buon’ Appetito!!!

Deviled Crab Meat Stuffing

cartoon deviled crabmeat 003

Trying to wake up my memory from the 1960’s when the restaurant first began I decided to study the first dinner menu. I counted 183 menu items.  In fact there was nothing anyone could want that wasn’t listed on that menu.  Not only were there many items but they were really odd entrees. On the cold appetizers category I noticed they had tuna packed in oil. (Did people really go into a restaurant and ask for tuna packed in oil on a plate?) Oh and let me point out that we had a California Fresh Fruit Cup listed on the menu!! (Is California fruit better than Florida fruit? Why not local fruit?) They also served veal kidneys, tripe and chicken livers! There was even a category for omelet’s. Through the years  the menu was shortened and thankfully they dropped the word California from fresh fruit cup. We stopped serving pizza and organ foods except for chicken livers. We tried to take chicken livers off the menu but the customers revolted and we apologetically put it back on the menu.

The chicken livers entree on the menu was always a surprise to me. In the latter years these 2 lawyers came to the restaurant  that I recall serving when I was a little girl. They had retired to Florida and met up for a lunch date to relive the olden days and they both gleefully ordered the Chicken Livers Marsala. I was thinking to myself “Are you kidding me?” With all the most delicious things on the menu that the restaurant is famous for they ordered Chicken Livers????

As I perused through the whole menu, I noticed that a lot of the menu consisted of Italian-American foods. Most of the entree are not served in Italy. My family is from Naples, Italy. I wanted to find something, anything that came from their hometown. I found that the menu represented a melting pot of items of all the places that my dad and his brothers worked before they opened up their own restaurant. They worked in American pizzerias, French restaurants, American Grilles, and Italian/American restaurants. They also consulted with their uncle Zio Monico who had a restaurant (The New Corner Italian Restaurant) which to this day is still open in Brooklyn from 1936. They used the uncle’s menu for ideas too! Now I know why the restaurant menu had 183 items. Not only did it represent every eatery they worked at but also their uncle’s Brooklyn restaurant.

There were many different pasta and sauces. And lots of parmigiana entrees and even spaghetti parmigiana! But what exactly is parmigiana and did that come from Italy? I remember one year when we all went to Italy on vacation, we went out to eat and an American friend that came with us wanted Chicken ala Parmigiana. We were in Capri at a small local restaurant. You have to understand that in the Naples area when you go into a small restaurant there are no menus. The patriarch, aka my dad, asks what they have. For appetizers, it’s always the staples, some charcuterie and cheese or fresh caught octopus, shellfish etc…. For secondo- it’s always the pasta of the day that they prepare. And then the entrée is just a plain bistecca or some fresh caught fish. Sometimes they may have roasted chicken. I felt bad for my friend when he asked for Chicken Parmigiana. The waiter in his typical Napolitano way, hunched his shoulders, put his cupped hand up in a gesture, and with a look of utter disgust exclaimed in Napolitano “Where do you come from!”

With a little research I found that Parmigiana has nothing to do with cheese or the Parma region! Parmigiana is a southern Italian dish based upon melanzane alla parmigiana, what we call eggplant parmigiana. (My family doesn’t put tomato sauce on eggplant parmagiana, it is individual servings of eggplant where an egg cheese mixture is sandwiched in between eggplant dipped in eggwash, floured and fried.) Adding veal or chicken in place of eggplant is an invention of the Italian immigrant communities in the U.S. The name itself may come from a Sicilian word, parmiciana — for the slats of wood in a shutter, which overlap in the same way as the slices of eggplant in the dish.

Okay! I am beginning to understand the thought process to this menu. But where is our Italian Napolitano roots represented in this menu! There must be something! In my last blog I was surprised that they didn’t even call espresso by it’s name but by demitasse.

And there it was! At a quick glance I thought it was a typo…..but over and over …..like a glowing firefly in the dark. There it was! The very essence of my Napolitano roots!! Finally!!!

I wished they highlighted it or capitalized the letters. Or maybe they should have made the font bold and huge! Wait for it!! Here it comes!!

They spelled mozzarella…. muzzarella!!!

Muzzarella is the Napolitano pronunciation for mozzarella. Muzzarella is like music to my ears. It is home! And there it was on the first menu…… Muzzarella! The only thing Napolitano on that first menu that represented the three immigrant chefs!!

You will never see that word written! But you may hear an Italian/American say that word in it’s shortened version…..Muzz!

See our Deviled Crab Meat Stuffing Recipe.

Deviled Crab Meat Stuffing Recipe

This stuffing has been a favorite amongst our customers through the years.  It has been a sought after recipe.  The only reason of  our reluctance to share was only that there are so many steps in making this coveted dish.  I believe this recipe originated from a dish served at one of the restaurants that the brothers had worked at in the 1950’s.  I want to say it comes from Nick Beni’s Anchor Inn. I am sure it has been tweeked from the original recipe. Take your time and enjoy!!

Ingredients:
16 oz Crabmeat (lump or claw)
9 oz Sherry
3 large mushrooms
1 medium onion ( 2cups of finely chopped onion)
1 ½ sticks of butter ( 12 TBS butter)
1 quart of whole milk
¾ cup of clam juice ( reserved from 4 cherry stone clams) or buy clam juice in a bottle at grocery store
4 cherry stone clams finely chopped, optional
19 oz flour
10 oz corn starch
10 oz shortening
1 ¼ tsp egg food coloring
¾ cup of water
11 oz water
1  TBS salt
1 ½ tsp ground black pepper
1 ½ tsp oregano

Utensils:
2 medium pots, 1  large (2 gallon) pot 1 bowl, whisk, knife,  measuring cup, measuring spoons.

Procedures:

  1. Finely chop onions. Set aside.
    Deviled crabmeat stuffing 052
  2. Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Slice and dice whole mushrooms (stems and all). Set aside.
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  3. Coarsely chop crabmeat. Set aside.
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  4. Combine the 2 cups of finely chopped onions, ¾ cup of water, 12 TBS butter in a pot over high heat until it comes to a boil then lower the heat to simmer.  Continue simmering  on low heat while the rest of the ingredients are put together.
    Deviled crabmeat stuffing 053
  5. Corn Starch preparation: In a bowl with 1 cup of cold water  slowly add 10 oz of corn starch whisking vigorously to avoid clumping.  The mixture will set up and become thick. Set aside.  Don’t worry if corn starch sinks to the bottom.
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  6. Rue: In a very large pot (all the ingredients will be combined in this pot)  melt  10 oz of vegetable shortening on low heat. Turn off heat and remove pot from the burner. Slowly add flour  until all the flour is mixed in and the  rue becomes thick.  End product should be the consistency of a thick paste.  
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  7. Clam Juice: Either buy a bottle of clam juice found at your grocer. Or shuck 4 cherry stone clams reserving ¾ cup of the juice and chopping the clams and adding it to the mixture. One may even add small tiny shrimp to this.  We have done both in the restaurant.
  8. In a separate pot warm 1 quart of milk with 1 ¼ tsp of yellow food coloring over medium heat.
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At this point there will be 3 pots and a bowl.  You will have the large pot with the rue, smaller pot with onion mixture, small pot with the yellow warm milk and a bowl of cornstarch mixture.  At this point we will start combining the prepared ingredients.
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  1. To the pot with the onion mixture add the 9 oz of sherry , chopped mushrooms, chopped crabmeat, chopped clams (optional) and  ¾ cups of clam juice.  Keep simmering on low heat.
    Deviled crabmeat stuffing 061
  2. Start warming up the rue again and when it starts to bubble slowly add the yellow milk mixture and vigorously whisk so that no lumps form and the yellow mixture is thickening. Keep stirring until you take it off the heat or it will burn. It should become a very thick and smooth.
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  3. Turn off heat on onion mixture and slowly pour into the yellow rue and stir until smooth.  Bring to a boil.   You will see bubbles and popping.  Turn off heat.
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  4. Add the seasoning: 1 TBS salt, 1 ½ tsp ground black pepper, 1 ½ tsp oregano
  5. Taste it and see if it to your liking. This is the time to adjust the seasoning. Add a little more salt if you like.
    Deviled crabmeat stuffing 067
  6. Stir the cornstarch mixture in the bowl. If the cornstarch sank to the bottom and will be hard just keep stirring until it is all blended again.
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  7. Put the yellow mixture on medium heat until it becomes bubbly again. Add the corn starch mixture in small doses (like in 10  parts) .  Whisk the corn starch continuosly. Continuosly stirring and completely incorporating the cornstarch during each addition. It will become very thick where it is hard to turn the whisk. You may want to have someone hold the pot in place as you stir.
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  8. Let it cool and then place in refrigerator to set.

This is a large batch and it yields 11 cups of stuffing. You can freeze it.  But it needs to be portioned out in balls and wrapped  individually and put it freezer.  We never froze it in the restaurant but for the home cook these are large portions.  I even stuffed clams shells and wrapped each one and then froze them.  The frozen balls can then be put on shrimp or wrap filet of sole around them and placed in oven.

** Suggestion:  Timing is critical in this recipe.  Have all the ingredients and utensils ready.  Please be sure to have all the pots of ingredients boiling hot when they are added except for the milk. You can turn off the heat while you get to next stage but be sure to bring to temperature when you are ready to add to the final stage.  (Milk should be hot but not boiling as it will burn.)

For  stuffed clams the oven is preheated to 350 degrees.  Sprinkle paprika on stuffed clams and drizzled with olive oil. Bakes 20-30 minutes depending on size and amount of stuffing.  I generously stuff the clams.  Bake until the tops of clams are light brown and crispy.  Then serve.Deviled crabmeat stuffing 070

For stuffed shrimp:   Roll a large a heaping table spoon of stuffing into a small log and place in the middle of a shrimp. 3-4 shrimp per person.  Put in a casserole with a little water on bottom top with mozzarella cheese and drizzle with melted butter.  Bake in  350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

Buon Appetito!!

“Un Caffé” and a Alfredo Sauce Recipe

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“Maybe it’s because I grew up bilingual but I always took a great interest in words.   It was always a language challenge to grow up in a bilingual household. The spoken word was not always what it was meant to be. So much so, that I would always double check before something came out of my mouth whether it was English or Italian. But what was even more perplexing was the written word, for example, the restaurant menu.  As a little girl I would often hear the wait staff ordering demitasse.  Like what the heck is demitasse?  I looked on an old 1960’s menu and there it was “Italian Demitasse for two”!  Demitasse is the French word for small cup.  It also the word used for serving coffee in a small cup. I read somewhere that demitasse is also the name for Turkish coffee.  But why would an Italian restaurant run by Italian immigrants refer to espresso as demitasse?  As the years went by, demitasse was soon replaced on the restaurant menu as expresso!! What was going on?  Was it a typo from the printers? I do remember everyone calling it expresso.  Didn’t they know how to pronounce espresso?  Was this typo causing customers and wait staff to pronounce it wrong?  Even at that young age I accepted  that everyone was language challenged! Maybe the reason the wait staff referred to coffee as either brown or black was to avoid mispronouncing espresso!

Through research I found that it was the norm in Italian restaurants to spell espresso with an x until the 70’s when there was a huge revolt.  So it wasn’t a typo! Ordering an expresso in the 1970’s was so cringe worthy to baristas that they would wear t-shirts with the “There is no X in espresso!” slogan.  So in the 70’s the restaurant menu went through another metamorphosis and listed  Italian coffee as espresso.  Phew!  It took a few years but all is right with the world now!

All this fuss over an espresso.  In Italy it is quite simple.  They don’t even say espresso!  Italians elbow themselves up to a coffee bar utter a greeting followed by “un caffé”.  It is served quickly in a very tiny cup filled half way up with rich dark coffee and a layer of foam. The Italian without sitting, downs the espresso and is on his way.  Oh wait!  Is that why in America it’s referred to as express….o?

Oh!  By the way, expresso is served in Spain, Portugal and France. But let it be known that the way espresso is made was invented and perfected in Italy. So it’s settled!  Espresso it is!!!”

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See our Alfredo Sauce recipe.