Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Carmela Soprano's Spaghetti Puttanesca - Whore's Style Spaghetti

Tomorrow's my birthday.
I'm still a little rattled by the Jay Leno turning 63 kerfuffle.
I could do with a heavy dose of carbs.
it's time to visit the shrink, Dr. Jennifer Melfi, M.D., M.A., M.F.T.
I know she is nowhere near 63.
But she always tries to help, no matter how old her client is.

Jennifer's chapter Rage, Guilt, Loneliness, and Food in Artie's The Sopranos Family Cookbook has a nice simple spaghetti sauce recipe, Spaghetti Puttanesca.

It's a classic, kind of like the classic opera Carmen.
Yes, Puttanesca is Italian for whore.
It's more commonly known as Spaghetti alla Puttanesca (whore's style spaghetti).
The earliest known mention of it is in a 1961 Italian novel.

With anchovies, without anchovies.
With green peppers, without green peppers.
With crushed red pepper, without crushed red pepper.
With Extra Virgin olive oil, or with oil that's been around.

Hey, different strokes for different folks.

If you have fresh tomatoes, you can substitute
2 1/2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

The sauce also goes well with penne, bucatini, linguine and vermicelli.

Make it a dinner and a movie night…
Rent Sophia Loren's Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.
Ah, the sixties!

                        Spaghetti Puttanesca

Serves 4 to 6

In a dutch oven place
1/3 Cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
pinch of crushed red pepper (or 1 small dried peperoncino, crumbled)
Cook over low heat until the garlic is golden.
Raise the heat to medium and add
1 28 to 35-ounce can Italian tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
pinch of salt
Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the liquid is reduced.

Stir in
1/2 Cup pitted and chopped oil-cured olives
1/4 Cup capers, rinsed
8 to 12 anchovy fillets, drained
1/4 Cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Cook for 2 minutes more.

WHILE THE SAUCE IS SIMMERING, in a large pot place
4 quarts water
salt to taste
Bring to a boil.
1 pound spaghetti
Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente.
Drain the pasta and place it in the sauce.
Toss the pasta until it is coated.
Serve immediately.

Would I make Spaghetti Puttanesca again?
Sure, It's easy.
So is Sophia in Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.
And, with enough pasta and wine, you can be, too.
Works for me….

One recipe down.  Seventeen more to go.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Carmela Soprano's Chicken Scarpariello - Chicken and Sausage Casserole

Sunday dinner with the family.
You just know somebody is going to complain.
It's best to have a sort of 'surf and turf' main course.
Something for everybody.  More or less...

There's a something for everybody main course in Artie's chapter Mia Cucina in The Sopranos Family Cookbook: Chicken Scarpariello.

Maybe Artie and Charmaine had invited a few relatives to dinner.
Some wanted chicken.
Some wanted sausages.
Wallah!!  An Italian 'perch and pen' dish to the rescue.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention… and recipes.

The skillet should be large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer.

                        Chicken Scarpariello

Serves 6

In a medium skillet place
1 pound Italian-style pork sausages
Prick them all over with a fork.
Cold water to come half way up the sausages.
Cover the pan, place over medium heat.
Cook until the water has evaporated and the sausages are cooked through.
Uncover and cook until browned.
Cut the sausages into 1-inch pieces.

Pat dry
3 pounds chicken pieces (18 pieces, more or less)

In a large skillet pour
1/4 Cup olive oil
Heat over medium heat.
In the heated oil place in a single layer 
The dried chicken pieces
Sprinkle with
salt and pepper
Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes.

6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Cook over low heat 2 minutes.

Tip the pan and spoon off most of the fat.
the cooked sausage pieces
1/4 Cup chicken broth
1 Cup pickled sweet peppers, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 Cup white wine vinegar (or the peppers' pickling liquid)
Cook over high heat, stirring often, about 10 to 15 minutes. 
The liquid will be reduced to a glaze.
Serve immediately.

Would I make Chicken Scarpariello again?
Yes, but I would use white wine instead of the vinegar or the pickling liquid.
With relatives visiting, who needs more agita?

One recipe down.  Eighteen more to go.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Anna Sultana's Qaqocc Mimli - Stuffed Artichokes, Maltese Style

I recently posted Paulie Walnuts' recipe, Stuffed Artichokes - Carciofi Ripieni.
It's okay, but I mentioned I prefer my Ma's recipe.

When I started posting Carmela's and Ma's recipes, I wasn't too exact.
I had posted Ma's recipe for stuffed vegetables, more or less.
Okay… way less.  I'm sorry.
So, of course, I got some e mails.

Maltese recipes, except for cakes and pastries, are often just a guideline.
Think of the way you'd explain how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
I mean, you don't say "A third of a cup of peanut butter…"

A lot of Maltese recipes make use of what's in the house or garden.
Or what a picky family member likes to eat.
Or what's on sale.

Another feature of Maltese recipes is a heavy reliance on carbs.
Really.  We've never met a carb we didn't like.
A layer of flaky or puff pastry lining the pan, which is then filled with pasta. 
Then the pasta is covered with another layer of pastry.
Dr. Atkins would have a fit.

Ma had her own recipe for Stuffed Artichokes - Qaqoċċ Mimli.
Here's her recipe.
More or less.
Depending on what she had on hand.
It's all good.

                        Qaqoċċ Mimli

Serves 8

Artichoke Prep Work

The 8 artichokes are soaked in salted water for 25 minutes.  
Then the leaves are opened by taking the upside down artichokes and smashing them against a table top.  

The Stuffing

Mix in a bowl
8 Tablespoons parsley
300 grams plain bread crumbs
200 grams finely chopped anchovies
2 garlic cloves, chopped
12 olives, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Gently spread the artichoke leaves apart and lightly stuff the artichokes.
Place the artichokes in a pot large enough to hold them upright.

Cooking Artichokes

Add to the pot
3/4 inch water

Drizzle over the artichokes
3 Tablespoons Olive oil
3 Tablespoons wine vinegar

Cover the pot and place over medium heat.
Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low.
If the water evaporates away add more warm water so they won't scorch.
Cook until the leaves can be easily pulled out, about 1 1/2 hours.
Serve hot.

Ma had a second recipe for Stuffed Artichokes.
Try both!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I'm Turning 63 by Margaret Ullrich

Tomorrow is Full Moon number four for 2013.
It's also my last Full Moon before I hit 63.
Next week is my birthday.
So it goes.

Recently NBC announced that Jimmy Fallon will be hosting The Tonight Show. 
They said that Jay Leno was ready to retire.
As further explanation, they mentioned that Leno was in his mid 60s.

Excuse me?
Jay Leno was born on April 28, 1950.
He is three days older than I am.
And I know I am not in my mid 60s.

There's a slogan going around lately.
You might have heard it.
Sixty is the new forty.
Don't you believe it.

Insurance companies don't buy the Sixty is the new forty crap.
They have the math to back up the higher fees they gleefully charge. 
Especially if you like to travel. 
Over 60?  You're 10 minutes away from a heart attack.
Don't even think of going to a doctor to get a mole removed while out of the country.

Being in my sixties reminds me of being a kid during the 1960s.
Really, wait, hear me out…

A ten-year-old has achieved a milestone.
Two whole numbers… 
Way cooler than just being nine!

A thirteen-year-old is one kind of teenager.
He expects to be treated as an adult, but isn't ready to give up favourite toys.
No pressure, he's just testing the teen waters.

A sweet sixteener is another.
He knows the score and is enjoying being a teenager to the hilt. 
It's a golden time without responsibilities.

And an eighteen-year-old is a whole other teenager.
During the 1960s, with a draft card in his pocket, he became cannon fodder.
He knew good times could come crashing to an end in an instant.

A sixtieth birthday is a transition.
You wake up and check yourself over, much as you would after being in an accident.
You give yourself a shake and try to ignore what's just happened.
After you get used to the 6_ instead of the milestone 5_, it's no biggie.
It's like using 20__ instead of 19__ when writing a cheque.
And anyway, you're five years away from being an honest to goodness senior.
Although you don't mind qualifying for the occasional senior discount.
I mean, if a store wants to extend some goodwill, what's the problem?

Then… sixty-five… a patriarch… retirement...
Images of grandparents waiting to die in Florida clutter your dreams.
Or maybe you've been watching Ed O'Neill in Modern Family.
His character, Jay, just fathered a baby.
Sure, why not, you still have your health, anything's possible.

Then there's sixty-eight… that's a whole other stage.  Trust me.
Some older friends tell me they read the obits daily to check if they're in them.
I'm not quite sure if they're joking.
They tell me Being old ain't for sissies.
They have a regular litany of things that can and do happen.
It reminds me of being pregnant and hearing the war stories of experienced moms.
I mean, all of those things can't happen to one person... can they?

Back to Jay...
A thirteen-year-old is not a sixteen-year-old.
And being sixty-three-year-old doesn't automatically mean you're ready to retire.
I know I'm not.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Carmela Soprano's Carciofi Ripieni (Stuffed Artichokes) l Vegetable Stuffing Recipe

Today is Earth Day.
I'm old enough to say I've seen them all.
Okay, it's not like being able to say "I've seen every Christmas".
But still, it makes me feel like I've been part of an era.
Yeah, it doesn't take much.

When the first Earth Day was held in 1970 I was a student at Pratt Institute.
Classes were cancelled for the day.
We had a big inflated balloon on campus.
We entered it, bounced around a bit, and celebrated that we were living on earth.
Yeah, like we had a choice.

What can I say?
We were children of the 60s and it didn't take much to impress us.
I mean, compare what the performers did in Dream Girls to what teen stars do now.
We'd have run screaming out of the building if we'd seen fireworks onstage.

Back to Earth Day…
Veggies grow on the earth.
Time to eat a veggie.

Paulie Walnuts' chapter My Nucci in Artie's The Sopranos Family Cookbook has a nice veggie recipe, stuffed Artichokes - Carciofi Ripieni.
Yeah, he stuffs it.

To remove the choke, use a small knife to scrape out the fuzzy leaves in the centre.

                        Carciofi Ripieni

Serves 8

Artichoke Prep Work

With a large sharp knife
trim off the top 1 inch of the pointy end of
8 artichokes

Rinse them well under cold water.
Cut off the bottom stems so the artichokes can stand upright.
DON'T THROW THE STEMS AWAY - you need them for the stuffing.
Peel off the tough outer skin of the stems.

Snap off the small leaves around the base of each artichoke.
With the kitchen shears trim off the pointy tips of the remaining leaves.
Removing the choke is optional.
Place the artichokes in a pot large enough to hold them upright.

The Stuffing

Finely chop the artichoke stems.
Mix them in a bowl with
3/4 Cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 Cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 Cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 large garlic clove, very finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil - enough to moisten the crumbs

Gently spread the artichoke leaves apart and lightly stuff the artichokes.
Return the artichokes to the pot.

Cooking Artichokes

Add to the pot
3/4 inch water

Drizzle over the artichokes
3 Tablespoons Olive oil

Cover the pot and place over medium heat.
Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low.
If the water evaporates away add more warm water so they won't scorch.
Cook until the leaves can be easily pulled out, about 45 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Would I make Carciofi Ripieni again?
Well, without anchovies and olives they're kind of blah.
I prefer my Ma's recipe.

One recipe down.  Nineteen more to go.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Carmela Soprano's Tortellini in Brodo - Tortellini in Broth l Broth Recipe

Junior's Pasta Fagioli (Pasta and Beans) is a basic staple.
As are most of the recipes on his chapter.

Then there is Artie's chapter Mia Cucina in The Sopranos Family Cookbook.
Don't get me wrong.
The recipes are good.
They are just, well, not always regular people friendly.

Tortellini in Brodo - Tortellini in Broth - is an example of this.
A great recipe from the sound of it.
It's just, well, not my style.
But it makes a nice read.

The homemade tortellini can be refrigerated overnight.
For longer storage, freeze them on the baking sheets for 1 hour, until firm.
Then transfer them to plastic bags and store in the freezer up to 1 month.
Do not thaw before cooking.
If cooking from frozen, give a longer cooking time.

Most supermarkets sell tortellini in the meat department.
The clerk won't tell anybody of you pick up a package or two.

Artie prefers homemade broth.
Yeah, well, he has a staff.
The supermarket also has prepared broths.
Bon appétit!!

                        Tortellini in Brodo

Serves 8

For the Tortellini Filling

In a small skillet, over medium heat, melt
2 Tablespoons butter
4 ounces boneless pork loin, cut into 1 inch pieces
Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
Let the meat cool.

In a food processor or meat grinder, grind very fine
the cooked pork
4 ounces  prosciutto
4 ounces mortadella

In a bowl mix
the ground meats
1 Cup grated Parmesan
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the Tortellini Pasta

In a food processor or bowl of a heavy duty mixer, place
4 large eggs
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Gradually add
2 1/2 Cups flour
Mix until the dough forms a ball.
Stop the machine and feel the dough.  It should be moist but not sticky.
Add more flour if needed.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface.
Knead for 1 minute.  It should be firm and smooth.
Cover with a bowl and let rest 30 minutes.

Line 2 or 3 large baking sheets with lint-free towels.
Dust the towels with flour.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces.
While you're working with 1 piece, keep the remaining pieces covered.

With a rolling pin or pasta machine, roll out the dough as thin as possible.
Cut the dough into 2 inch squares.
Place 1/2 teaspoon of the filling on each square.
Working quickly so the dough doesn't dry out, fold the dough over the filling to form a triangle, and press the edges together to seal.
Then fold the two opposite points of the triangle together, to form a circle, and pinch the ends to seal.
Place the formed tortellini on the towel lined baking sheets.
Prepare the remaining dough and filling in the same way.

Refrigerate the tortellini until ready to cook. 

For the Broth

In a large pot combine
8 Cups beef broth
8 Cups chicken broth
Bring to a simmer.
Add the tortellini and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes.
The pasta should be cooked through.
Serve with 
grated Parmesan cheese

Would I make Tortellini in Brodo again?
Right after I make another little visit to the market's meat department.
And pick up a few containers of prepared broth.

One recipe down.  Twenty more to go.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Carmela Soprano's Pasta Fagioli - Pasta and Beans l Preparing Dried Beans

April… Taxes… Oy!!
Stlll, a person has to eat.
Maybe not so high off the hog.
Not after filling out those tax forms.
But that doesn't mean you can't eat something delicious.

As I've said before, Junior's recipes in his chapter The Soprano Family Tradition in Artie's The Sopranos Family Cookbook are really basic, right off the boat recipes.
Here's a classic: Pasta Fagioli - Pasta and Beans.

What could be cheaper… or more delicious.

If you like more of a garlic kick (as I do) mince the cloves of garlic finely and leave them in the pot.

I find elbow macaroni works well in this dish.
Al  dente means the pasta is tender yet still firm to the bite.

If you're using dried beans, they'll need a little prep work.
One cup of dried beans will give you an amount equal to 3 Cups canned.
Oh, if you have different beans, no problem.

Preparing Dried Beans

Place in a bowl
1 Cup dried cannellini or Great Northern beans
enough cold water to cover by 2 inches
Let stand for 4 hours, or overnight, in the refrigerator.
If the beans appear above water level, add more water.

Drain the beans and place them in a pot with fresh water to cover by 1/2 inch.
Over low heat, bring to a simmer.
Cover the pot and simmer about 1 hour.
If the beans appear above water level, add more water.
When the beans are soft, drain and use as canned.

                        Pasta Fagioli

Serves 8

In a large saucepan place
1/4 Cup olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, lightly crushed
1 celery rib, chopped
Cook over moderate heat.
When the garlic is lightly golden, discard it.

1 Cup Italian tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1/2 Cup water
pinch of crushed red pepper (or 1 small dried peperoncino, crumbled)
salt to taste
Simmer for 10 minutes.

3 Cups canned (or prepared) cannellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
Mash some of the beans with the back of a large spoon.
Bring the mixture to a simmer.

Stir in
8 ounces ditalini or spaghetti or any pasta in about 1 inch pieces
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente.
If the soup seems too thick, add boiling water.
Turn off the heat, and let it stand 10 minutes before serving.

Would I make Pasta Fagioli again?
It's a basic item at my house.
Even when it's not tax time.
A loaf of crusty Italian bread goes well with it.
After eating all those carbs, who could be nervous?

One recipe down.  Twenty-one more to go.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Anna Sultana's Pizza, Maltese Style

While I was growing up, pizza was a regular meal.
Not the round pizza in the frozen food section or the pizza we see in commercials
for take out or delivery vendors.
Just a simple, homemade pizza.
Easier, and maybe healthier, than Carmela Soprano's Pizza.

I couldn't say how many this would feed.
Sometimes it was the main course.
Sometimes it just added a bit of heft to a soup dinner.

It was Ma's pizza.

The toppings (spices, tomatoes and cheese) are the total amounts for both pizzas.
Just use half on each.
Or modify to suit your family… or budget.


In a large bowl combine
3 Cups warm water
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons yeast
Let sit 10 minutes.

Stir in
2 teaspoons salt
8 Cups flour
Knead 15 minutes.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl.
Rotate the dough to cover the surface with oil.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel.
Let rise 2 hours.

About 30 minutes before the dough is finished rising
combine in a small bowl
1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
4 teaspoons oregano

8 ounces pepperoni (optional)

16 ounces mozzarella

Grease 2 large cookie pans

Divide the dough and knead each piece on a floured surface.
Roll out a piece of dough, place it in a cookie pan and stretch it to fit.
Repeat with the other piece of dough.

Preheat oven to 450º F

Top each pizza with
3 Cups crushed tomatoes
Sprinkle the cheese / spice mixture over the tomatoes.

Drizzle over each pizza
1/4 Cup olive oil, about
Run the back of a spoon over the tomatoes to blend the ingredients.
Top with
the prepared meat and cheese

Bake 25 minutes.
Serve hot.
Ma's pizza is also good cold.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Carmela Soprano's Baba au Rhum - Rum Cake

Years ago, when Eaton's was still in business, I bought a tin of Baba au Rhum.
We quite enjoyed them.
It was a nice surprise to find the recipe in Bobby Bacala's chapter
If I Couldn't Eat, I'd F**king Die in Artie Bucco's The Sopranos Family Cookbook.

Baba au Rhum sounds rather exotic and difficult.
If you've made monkey bread, you've made a G-rated Baba au Rhum.
Now it's time to make the adult version.

                        Baba au Rhum

Serves 8 to 10
Generously butter a 10-inch bundt pan

The Cake

In a small bowl combine
1/4 Cup warm water
1 Tablespoon yeast
Let sit 1 minute, then stir until the yeast dissolves.

In a large mixing bowl beat together
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest

Beat in
2 2/3 Cups flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

the yeast mixture
12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
Beat until well blended.
Scrape the dough into the prepared pan.
Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest in a warm place 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400º
Bake the cake 30 minutes,
or until a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Invert the cake on a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes.
Remove the pan but keep it handy.

The Syrup

While the cake is baking, combine in a medium saucepan
2 Cups sugar
2 Cups water
Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Stir in
1/2 Cup dark rum
Remove from the heat and set aside 1/4 Cup of the syrup.

Return the hot cake to the cake pan.
With a skewer, poke holes all over the surface.
Slowly spoon the hot syrup over the cake.

Just before serving, invert the cake onto a serving platter.
Drizzle with the reserved 1/4 Cup of the syrup.
Serve with
Whipped cream

Would I make Baba au Rhum again?
One of the perks of being over 60 is not everything has to be G-rated.
We seniors lose a few, but we gain a few, too.

One recipe down.  Twenty-two more to go.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Carmela Soprano's Polipetti in Salsa di Pomodoro - Baby Octopus in Tomato Sauce l Preparing Octopus and Friselle

A few days ago I was posting 'I'll never make that' recipes for relaxation.
Well, here's another one.
Unless baby octopus is a common item in your neighbourhood.

The librarian, Natalie Del Greco, had written an interesting chapter called
Cooking the Neapolitan Way for Artie's The Sopranos Family Cookbook.
Octopus is a common food in Mediterranean and Portuguese cuisine.
So I guess octopus could be a common item in a Neapolitan neighbourhood.

Friselle are black pepper biscuits.
Before serving, sprinkle them with cool water and let them sit for 10 minutes.
After they soften, break them into pieces and put the pieces in 6 bowls.
Toasted sliced Italian bread works, too.

If you have fresh tomatoes, substitute
2 Cups peeled, seeded and chopped for the canned.

Before cooking, rinse the octopus and drain well.
Remove the hard round beak at the base of the tentacles of each octopus.

Cooked octopus contains about 139 Calories per three-ounce portion,
and is a source of vitamin B3, B12, potassium, phosphorus, and selenium.

The arms and body parts are prepared in various ways, depending on the species.
Octopus is an ingredient in Japanese cuisine: sushi, takoyaki, and akashiyaki.
In Korea, some small species are sometimes eaten alive as a novelty food.
A live octopus is usually sliced up, and it is eaten while still squirming.

Don't worry.
These babies are served cooked.

                        Polipetti in Salsa di Pomodoro

Serves 6

In a large saucepan place
2 pounds prepared baby octopus (see above)
2 Cups Italian tomatoes, chopped and peeled
1/4 Cup olive oil
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
pinch of crushed red pepper
salt to taste

Bring to a simmer and cover the pot.
Reduce the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.
Uncover the pot and cook for 15 minutes.
The octopus should be tender when pierced with a knife.

Place the prepared friselle or toasted sliced Italian bread in the 6 bowls.
Spoon the octopus and sauce on top of the bread.

Sprinkle with the remaining
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Serve immediately.

Would I make Polipetti in Salsa di Pomodoro?
Sure, if I could find it.
Or if I move to Naples.
Location is everything.

One recipe down.  Twenty-three more to go.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Carmela Soprano's Pizza - Ah Beetz'

There's a new moon tonight.
Sometimes a new moon means it's the perfect time to do something new.
And sometimes it's the perfect time to enjoy an old favourite.

Charmaine Bucco's chapter Cooking for the Whole Famiglia in Artie's
The Sopranos Family Cookbook has some nice realistic recipes.
No Penne alla Vodka for Charmaine.
Gather your family and friends and enjoy some Pizza.

An envelope of yeast is equal to a Tablespoon.
The tins and jars of yeast are cheaper than the sets of 3 envelopes.

If you're making the 6 pizzas, divide the dough and knead a quarter at a time.


Serves 6 - 8 (1 pizza)                                             Serves 50 (6 pizzas)

In a bowl combine
1 1/3 Cups warm water                                               8 Cups
1 Tablespoon yeast                                                      6 Tablespoons
Let sit 1 minute, then stir until the yeast dissolves.

In a large bowl combine
3 1/2 Cups flour                                                           21 Cups                  
2 teaspoons salt                                                           1/4  Cup
Add the yeast mixture.
Stir until a soft dough forms.
Turn the dough out and knead on a floured surface,
adding more flour if necessary.
Knead about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.

Lightly coat a large bowl with oil.
Place dough in oiled bowl.
Rotate dough to cover with oil.
Cover with plastic wrap.
Let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Grease a 15 x 10 x 1 inch cookie pan.                  Grease 6 cookie pans.
Flatten the dough.
Place the dough in the pan and stretch to fit.
Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest 1 hour.

The Sauce

In a large saucepan combine                               In a dutch oven  combine
2 pounds fresh plum tomatoes,                           12 pounds fresh plum tomatoes
    peeled, seeded and chopped or                            or
    1  28 ounce can crushed tomatoes                  6   28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 clove garlic, finely chopped                               6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 Cup olive oil                                                       1 1/2 Cups olive oil
salt                                                                                  salt
Bring to a simmer.
Cook, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes.
4 fresh basil leaves, torn into bits                       24 fresh basil leaves, torn into bits
Let the sauce cool.

Preheat oven to 450º

With your fingertips, firmly press the dough to make
dimples about an inch apart all over the surface.
Leaving a 1/2 inch border around, spread the sauce over the dough.
Bake 20 minutes.

Remove the pizza(s) from the oven.
Arrange over the top
12 ounces mozzarella, thinly sliced             4 1/2 pounds mozzarella, thinly sliced
Sprinkle with
1/2 Cup grated Parmesan or Romano          3 Cups grated Parmesan or Romano
Drizzle with
olive oil                                                                    olive oil

Return the pizza(s) to the oven.
Bake 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crust is browned.
Cut into squares and serve hot.

Would I make Carmela's Pizza again?
It's nice enough.
I just prefer Ma's pizza.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Our Forty-first Wedding Anniversary by Margaret Ullrich

On Good Friday there was a Harry Potter marathon.
Oh, they were so little when the series started!

In it Harry and Hermione time travel using Hermione's time-turning device.
She got it so she could take two classes at the same time.
Yeah, Hermione would want to do that.

They went back in time to rescue Harry's godfather, Sirius Black, and Buckbeak.
But, Professor Lupin, having been exposed as a werewolf, has to leave.
Harry watches Lupin wave a wand and everything in his office is neatly packed.
Oh, to be able to handle chores with a wave of a wand!

The clock measures it out, 60 seconds to the minute, 60 minutes to the hour.
But it we don't live it like that.
When we're young a summer vacation seems to be an eternity.
When we're old a year flies, as if it were a whirlwind.

While we were watching TV we were also surfing the net.
There was some sad news: 
Richard Griffiths, Harry Potter's muggle Uncle Vernon, had died.
He was 65.

We don't know how much we have.
And, as we get older, it speeds up, as if attached to a portkey.
Paul and I have been married forty-one years… some good, some bad.
Some events important, even life changing, some events forgotten.
Some I would love to relive, most I can't even remember.
Some people very important, most just a minor character.

As I get older, it sometimes feels like I'm watching a rerun.
I'll meet someone, or hear about something, and it's 'Here we go again'.
Really, it's like I've done this already and I know how it's going to turn out.
Some might call that prejudice.
Some might call that experience.
I just trust my gut more than I trust what someone is telling me.
As one gets older, one just knows.

I can't handle chores with a wave of a wand.
Truth is, I can't handle most chores as quickly as I used to do them.
But, I can choose what and whom to focus upon, to remember, to believe.
I can stop doing some things, and start doing something else, hopefully better.
I can still learn.
That is a magic everyone possesses.
Especially as we get older.

And, as Harry said, "I love magic!"

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Carmela Soprano's Scungilli in Hot Tomato Sauce l Preparing Conch and Friselle

The turkey leftovers are getting on everyone's nerves.
And the sugar and caffeine from the chocolate isn't helping either.
Time to visit the shrink, Dr. Jennifer Melfi, M.D., M.A., M.F.T.

Jennifer's chapter Rage, Guilt, Loneliness, and Food in Artie's The Sopranos Family Cookbook has a recipe for conch.
The recipe is simple enough.
It's just a bit of a hassle to find scungilli.
Especially if you live in a neighbourhood like mine.
In cooking, as in real estate, location is everything.

Conch, also called scungilli, is second in popularity to the escargot for edible snails.
It can be eaten raw, as in salads, or cooked, as in fritters, chowders and gumbos. 
All parts of the conch meat are edible.
Some people only like the white meat.
Lucky them if they can find it.

Friselle are black pepper biscuits.
Before serving, sprinkle them with cool water and let them sit for 10 minutes.
After they soften, break them into pieces and put the pieces in 4 pasta bowls.
Toasted sliced Italian bread works, too.

If you have fresh tomatoes, substitute 
3 pounds peeled, seeded and chopped for the canned.

If you do find frozen scungilli place them in a large bowl of cold water to cover 
and refrigerate several hours or overnight to thaw, changing the water occasionally.
Rinse the scungilli and cut it into 1/4 inch slices.
Remove and discard the dark tubes - they're filled with spongy, gritty matter.
The tube on the outside is safe to eat.
Rinse the slices and pat dry.

If you can't find scungilli, no problem.
The leftover turkey is getting a bit off.
Time to disguise it a bit.

                        Scungilli in Hot Sauce

Serves 4

In a large saucepan place
1/3 Cup olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
pinch of crushed red pepper
Cook over medium heat until the garlic is lightly golden.
2 28 to 35-ounce can Italian tomatoes, chopped
! Cup dry white wine
salt to taste
Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat and cook for 15 minutes.
Stir occasionally.
Add the scungilli and bring to a simmer.
Cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
If the sauce become too thick, stir in a little water.
Taste for seasoning.

Place the prepared friselle or toasted sliced Italian bread in the 4 bowls.
Spoon the scungilli onto the bread and serve immediately.

Would I make Scungilli in Hot Sauce?
Sure, if I could find it.
The sauce worked well with the leftover turkey.
I'm going to try it with large shrimp and serve them with spaghetti.

One recipe down.  Twenty-five more to go.