Category Archives: Italian

I found it, I found it!

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I think I found my “go to” spaghetti and meatball recipe. I really love a good red sauce that tastes like it could be authentically Italian. I know taste is a matter of opinion, but I think this sauce had the perfect mix of flavors for me. I also love meatballs a little more than the average person probably should, and these were fantastic meatballs. I think the method of soaking the bread in milk made a difference (see instructions below.)

The recipe came from the Jan. 09 issue of Gourmet. It’s their cover recipe, actually, titled Spaghetti and Meatballs. I halved the recipe because I wanted to freeze leftovers, but not THAT many leftovers. The recipe here is listed “as is,” not halved.

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Spaghetti and Meatballs (recipe from Gourmet, Jan 09)

Serves 12 TO 16;  Active Time: 2 HR; Start to Finish: 3 HR  

FOR TOMATO SAUCE     

Ingredients       

  • (28-oz) cans whole tomatoes in juice (preferably San Marzano *I did find this kind of tomato, and I think it did make a difference in the flavor)
  • 2medium onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil *Use a good quality oil because this is really flavoring the sauce
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • FOR MEATBALLS  

    Ingredients

  • 2medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 cups torn day-old Italian bread
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/4 lb)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped oregano or 1 tsp dried, crumbled *I used fresh
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 lb ground veal
  • 1 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 1/2 lb ground beef (not lean)
  • 1 cup olive or vegetable oil
  • FOR PASTA

    Ingredients

  • 2 lbs dried spaghetti
  • ACCOMPANIMENT:

  • grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • EQUIPMENT:  

  • a 12- to 16-qt nonreactive heavy pot or 2 smaller nonreactive pots; a 6- to 8-qt pasta pot with a pasta/steamer insert for cooking spaghetti in 2 batches
  • MAKE SAUCE:

    Drain tomatoes, reserving juice in a large bowl. Crush tomatoes with your hands and add to juice. *I thought this would be a pain in the butt, but it was actually really fun.

    Cook onions in oil in pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with their juice, 4 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper. Simmer sauce, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Season with salt. *I did not add any more salt.

    MAKE MEATBALLS WHILE SAUCE SIMMERS:            

    Cook onions in extra-virgin olive oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl to cool.

    Soak bread in milk in another bowl until soft, about 5 minutes. Firmly squeeze bread to remove excess milk, discarding milk.

    Stir together cooled onion mixture, bread, eggs, parmesan, parsley, oregano, lemon zest, 5 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 1/2 tsp pepper until combined. Add meats to bread mixture, gently mixing with your hands until just combined (do not overmix).

    Form meat mixture into about 70 (1 1/2-inch) balls with dampened hands, arranging meatballs on 2 large baking sheets or in shallow baking pans.

    Heat olive or vegetable oil (1 cup) in a 12-inch heavy skillet (preferably nonstick) over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown meatballs in 4 or 5 batches (without crowding), turning frequently, about 5 minutes per batch. Return to baking sheets.<

    Add meatballs to sauce and gently simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes. (If pot is not large enough, divide meatballs and sauce between 2 pots.)

    My sauce simmering away on the stove:

    PREPARE PASTA:             

    Cook spaghetti in 2 batches in pasta insert in boiling salted water (3 Tbsp salt for 6 qt water *I did not add this much salt) until just al dente, draining and tossing each batch with some of sauce in a large serving dish.

    Serve with meatballs, remaining sauce, and grated cheese.

    COOKS’ NOTES:                        

  • Meatballs can be made and simmered in sauce 5 days ahead and chilled (covered once cool).
  • Meatballs with sauce can be frozen in an airtight container or heavy-duty sealable bags up to 3 months.
  • RECIPE BY MAGGIE RUGGIERO

    I served the spaghetti and meatballs with a red leaf lettuce salad with homemade croutons (had to make use of the leftover day old Italian bread!) We had blue cheese dressing because it’s my husband’s favorite… so I cheated and used store bought. 🙂

    I also made the Garlic Knots from “Amber’s Delectable Delights.” Thanks for posting, Amber! They were a huge hit. Here is the recipe with my modifications in italics. The source that Amber got the recipe from is listed too. Please visit her blog for some awesome pictures of how to tie the dough into knots!

    Soft Garlic Knots
    Source: I Heart Food for Thought adapted from King Arthur Flour

    Ingredients
    Dough

    3 cups bread flour
    1/4 cup milk
    1 tablespoon sugar
    2 teaspoons instant yeast
    1-1/4 teaspoons salt
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 cup + 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
    Glaze
    2-4 cloves peeled, garlic
    2 tablespoons melted butter
    1/4 teaspoon Pizza Seasoning or Italian seasoning, optional *I omitted.

    Directions
    1. For the dough – In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the dry ingredients together then add the olive oil, milk and water *I heated the milk and water a bit together on the stove. Using the paddle attachment or dough hook, mix and knead to form smooth, elastic dough, adding additional water or flour as needed. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover it, and allow it to rise for about 1 hour, until it’s doubled in bulk. *I mixed and kneaded by hand.
    2. Divide the dough into 8 pieces *For some reason, I got 11! I guess I don’t divide evenly well 🙂, and roll each into a rope about 10 inches long; tie each rope into a knot. Place the knots on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet, cover, and let rise for 45 minutes to about an hour, until very puffy looking.
    3. To make glaze – Unpeel garlic cloves. Chop the garlic in a food processor (or you can use a garlic press), with the melted butter.
    4. To bake – Bake the knots in a preheated 350°F oven for 15 to 18 minutes *I let mine go for about 23 minutes because some of them were big. They were also kind of baking together because I used a small pan. They should be set, but only very lightly browned. Remove the knots from the oven, and brush or drizzle them with the seasoned butter. (You can reheat the butter briefly in the microwave, if it’s solidified).

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    Make your own pizza night

    I love hanging out with old friends around Christmas. Luckily, 2 of my best friends were free at the same time that I was, and they were able to come over for dinner! I decided to do a make your own pizza night. I started with an appetizer of Wingless Buffalo Chicken Dip:

    img_0219(Source: my mom’s friend from work. I will post the recipe soon!)

    I cheated a bit, and bought a pre-made dough ball from Wegmans. There was just no way homemade dough was happening yesterday, and Wegmans dough balls have never done me wrong!

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    With my husband, there were 4 of us, so I split the dough ball into 4 sections, and everyone got to make their own pizzas! We all decided we felt like thicker, puffy dough, so we didn’t bake the crusts by themselves at all. We just topped and popped into the preheated oven onto preheated stoneware (450 degrees.) I included pizza sauce, shredded mozzarella and provolone, shaved asiago, grated parmesan, pepperoni from the deli counter, proscuitto, fresh arugula, and mushrooms (these I sauteed in a little butter and olive oil with some fresh thyme, coarse salt, and ground pepper for about 10 min. and let cool). I also had some hot red pepper flakes out on the counter, and some olives for snacking.

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    I also put out a mixed green salad with raspberry vinaigrette. Dessert was not photographed… I made some molten chocolate cakes that I overcooked (only I would overcook a cake that by nature is supposed to be undercooked in the center, haha.) They were tasty!, but not quite as intended. 🙂

    Here are a few action shots of the pizza making…

    My friend Lauren, concentrating:
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    Hubby Ben:
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    Me (Things to note: 1. There is, as always, flour all over my shirt. 2. My friend is on the phone. Apparently I was taking too long with my dough? ;), and 3. I really need a hair cut.
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    Finally, my friend Jen, who truly never cooks. Her pizza came out really great!! We’re proud of you Jen! 🙂
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    Jen’s awesome pizza:
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    And Locatelli comes in at….

    …#2 on my list of favorite cheeses! Brie comes in #1 of course. We can discuss brie (at length) another day.

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    Apparently Locatelli is (I think) a brand of cheese. Growing up, I thought it was a type of cheese, not a particular brand. My uncle always used to make tons of fabulous Italian food at his house, and without fail there would be a little glass bowl of finely grated Locatelli. We’d pass it around and sprinkle a mountain of it on our food with a little metal spoon. Here is a link about the history of Locatelli cheese in case you are interested: History of Locatelli Seriously, the stuff is amazing.

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    I was so excited when I found Locatelli at our grocery store recently. It used to be so special when we traveled to New Jersey to visit my aunt and uncle. Now I can have it at home. Even better: I found a recipe that called for Pecorino Romano. That’s what I made tonight: Farfalle with Cauliflower and Turkey Sausage from December 2008 Cooking Light.

    4 servings (serving size: about 1 1/2 cups)

     

    • 2  (4-ounce) links mild Italian turkey sausage
    • 3  cups  small cauliflower florets
    • 2  tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    • 1/2  teaspoon  salt, divided
    • 5  garlic cloves, sliced
    • 4  cups  uncooked farfalle (bow tie pasta) [I used ziti because that’s what I had!]
    • 1/2  teaspoon  crushed red pepper
    • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese
    • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper

     

    1. Preheat oven to 450°. [Yes, I used the new toaster just because I could! See previous post :)]

    2. Pierce sausage several times with a knife. Combine sausage, cauliflower, and 1 tablespoon oil in a small roasting pan; toss. Sprinkle evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes. Add garlic to pan; toss. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until sausage is done. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut sausage crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

    3. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain, reserving 2 tablespoons pasta cooking water. Combine pasta, reserved cooking water, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and crushed red pepper in a large bowl; toss. Add cauliflower mixture, sausage, and cheese; toss gently to combine. Sprinkle with black pepper.

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    Hamburger Grape-Tomato Pizza

    I had to put a hyphen in Grape-Tomato because the first time I said this out loud it really sounded like Grapes and Tomatoes, not Grape Tomatoes. 🙂

    It’s a recipe from Everyday Food May 2008, and also marks my first experimentation with a pizza dough ball. I bought it at Wegman’s from their pizza shop, and they sold me a frozen one so I could keep it longer. I was a bit afraid, having heard lots of horror stories… but I have to say, the dough rose just enough, cooked the whole way through, and tasted like pizza dough should taste. Yay!

    Hamburger Grape-Tomato Pizza
    2 teaspoons vegetable oil, such as safflower
    All-purpose flour, for work surface
    1 pound frozen pizza dough, thawed
    3/4 cup store-bought marinara sauce (I used store bought pizza sauce)
    1 cup grated provolone cheese (4 ounces) (4 oz. seemed like A LOT, so I didn’t use that much)
    1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved (I used grape tomatoes)
    1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
    1/4 pound ground beef chuck
    Coarse salt and ground pepper

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Rub a large rimless baking sheet (or a rimmed on, upside down) with oil. On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin and your hands to roll and stretch dough into a 15×11 inch rectangle (if dough becomes to elastic to work with, let it rest a few minutes). Transfer to prepared sheet.

    Spread sauce evenly over dough, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Top with provolone, tomatoes, and if desired, onion; scatter beef over top. Season with salt and pepper.

    Bake until crust is golden, beef is cooked, and cheese is melted, about 20 min. Serve immediately. (We actually saved 1/2 of it for the next tday and reheated it in the oven. It was a bit dry the 2nd day, but just as yummy!)

    Only problem: it WOULD NOT become a rectangle. HAHA! Anyone want to vote for what my pizza looks like? Maybe a state, or a country….? 😉

    And one last picture, that I think looks kind of like a planet, or craters on the moon. (Yes, I know the thing that looks like the moon is my flash reflecting in the stove.) Perhaps I need a new hobby.