Monday, December 19, 2011

Lasagna = Love

We Love Lasagna. There are so many different ways to make it. Our favorite is the traditional way with ricotta cheese between the layers of Lasagna sheets.
If I had the time I would have liked to have made my own lasagna sheets, but this time of year, unless I really plan ahead it's not going to happen. I used Barilla Lasagna sheets. The ones that you boil. I do not like the no cook sheets. I'm not saying that they are  bad, I just don't like them.
After boiling the lasagna sheets in a huge pot of salted water I run them under cold water and then lay them out on dish towels to dry them.
When they are dry I layer my noodles, starting with sauce on the bottom of the pan and then a layer of lasagna sheets. I cooked some Sweet Italian sausage, out of the casing, and crumbled it up and sprinkled some of the sausage meat on the first layer and added some more sauce.
This is the first layer of my lasagna
If I am really ambitious I will make tiny meatballs and put them into the layers of lasagna too. I was serving meatballs on the side and decided not to add the meatballs this time.
Keep layering the lasagna sheets with the cheeses, meat and sauce until you don't have any Lasagna sheets left.
all layered and ready to go into the oven

I like to top off the whole pan with a generous amount of shredded mozarella cheese and some grated Reggiano Parmiagano.
Bake in a preheated 350 - 375 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour until nice and hot and some of the Lasagna noodles get crispy! (That's my favorite part!)
I forgot to take a picture when it came out of the oven. You'll have to trust me on this one, it was beautiful!

Here's what I used to make this lasagna.

2 pounds of lasagna sheets
3 pounds of Ricotta cheese, either whole milk or skim
2 cups grated parmiagano cheese
2 pounds shredded mozzarella cheese
2 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
a small bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
Sunday Gravy sauce that my meatballs, sausage and pork have been simmering in for hours.

Mix all the cheeses together, reserving some of the shredded mozzarella to top the lasagna. Add the eggs, salt, pepper and flat leaf parsley. Mix well so all gets incorporated.  This is what you will use in your layers of lasagna.
Add some meat if you want. We like the flavor of sausage, which was cooked prior to adding it. I took the sausage meat out of the casing and cooked it through and crumbled it.
You can also cook the sausage whole and then slice it and add it to your lasagna. You may also add meatballs, either tiny ones or sliced. It doesn't matter...add what ever you want to your lasagna, it will taste great.
Just do me a favor and make your own sauce! That's the one thing that you should never cheat on!

Buon Appetito

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Octopus Salad

My family loves Octopus. This is something I never had as a kid growing up. My mother's idea of seafood had nothing to do with Octopus. I can't recall the first time I had it, it might have been while dining in a Greek restaurant and all I can say is that it was love at first bite.
My sister Marlene stayed away from Octopus each time I served it. I don't know how I got her to try it, but she did. After she tasted it, she looked at me and said, "This is what I have been missing all these years!" OMG!
Yes, Marlene, that is what you have been missing all these years! lol We told you so!
The above is 2 large octopi, aboutt 5 pounds between the two of them. They are going to go into a pot of salted water with a bay leaf.

 After bringing  to a boil, lower the heat and cover and simmer for at least 2 hours. I usually know when it's done because it's tender and the head pulls off!
 They are out of the water and ready for me to clean. It's easy to clean them. I just run them under cold water and take off all the slimy stuff. What's letf is a clean white meat.
 After cleaning, slice the octopus up. I like to slice them on an angle.
 After all is sliced add some olive oil, chopped garlic, lemon juice, chopped parsley, salt, pepper and to taste and add a pinch of hot pepper flakes.

 Toss all together and serve!
The Octopus is absolutely so tender and so sweet. This is going to be such a tease for my family! I should have bought more!

Buon Appetito

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cranberry Pound Cake

Looking for a new desert for the Christmas? You should try this! It will be a hit! Promise!
This recipe was given to me by my friend Irene. Many years ago she served this at one of her holiday parties. I took just a sliver, thinking nothing is that good, and as soon as this cake went into my mouth,  I went back to the table and added a very large slice to my dish! It was delicious. It has a sweet taste, but is also a little tart from the cranberries. As far as I am concerned, it's perfect! This is such a festive looking cake. Perfect for this time of year!  It's a favorite of many of my friends and is requested quite often. I love serving this with some fresh made whipped cream or even better,  vanilla ice cream.
1 stick of unsweetened butter (1/2  cup or 1/4 pound) softened at room temperature
1 cup of sour cream
2 cups of flour
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs

1/4 cup of flour
1/4 cup of butter
1 tsp cinnimon
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 bag of fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Make strussel by combining all of the ingredients together with a fork. It will become crumby. Set aside.

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla together until light and fluffy, add eggs one at a time. Mix in the flour and the sour cream alternating each. Mix well until the flour and sour cream are fully incorporated into the batter. Add salt, baking soda and baking powder. Mix well.

Prepare a 10" round spring form pan by buttering the bottom and sides. I like to put a piece of parchment on the bottom of the pan. This way, when the cake is done, I can easily remove it from the baking pan.
Spread a little less than half of the cake batter on the bottom of the pan. Then sprinkle with half of the strussel and half of the bag of cranberries. The next layer is a little more difficult to spread the cake batter over the cranberries, just keep working it and it will get there. Sprinkle the rest of the strussel on top of the batter and add the rest of the bag of cranberries.
Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Buon Appetito

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Arancini Again!

The other day I posted about making Arancini with my friend, Mariann.
Some of you have asked for a more specific recipe.
This is the recipe I use when making my own Arancini. And the only reason I used this recipe is because I didn't have the one from Mariann's mother. I didn't know how to make them, just looked up a recipe on the internet, looked in some cook books and took what I liked from different recipes.

The following recipe makes approximately 18 Arancini.

For the Filling
2 Tbs olive oil
1 onion chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 pouind of ground beef
1 1/2 cups chopped canned Italian peeled tomatoes
salt and pepper  to taste
1/2 cup or more to taste frozen peas

For the Rice
2 cups of rice, I like Carolina's for this recipe.
5 cups of water
2 Tbs butter
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano
4 large eggs yolks

To Assemble
3 cups of seasoned bread crumbs, I like 4C
4 large egg whites, or more as needed
flour for dredging
1/2 pound of sharp  provolone cheese, cut into small pieces
Vegetable oil for frying

Make your sauce using the onion, and garlic with the olive oil. When the onion and garlic is soft add the beef and cook until browned. Drain excess fat and then add tomatoes and seasoning. Bring sauce to a simmer and then reduce heat and cook on low for about 30 minutes.
Add the peas and cook another 5 minutes.
Let cool.

Add the rice, water , butter and salt to a large pot that can hold all the rice. Bring to a boil and cover and cook on low for 20 minutes. Do not lift the lid while cooking. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes before removing the lid.
Let the rice cool slightly before adding the egg yolks and the cheeses. Mix all together and taste and then adjust seasoning.

Here's my assembly of the Arancini.
Beat egg whites in a bowl and set aside. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on one sheet of wax paper and the flour on another sheet of wax paper.
Dip your hands in cool water, and then take about 1/3 cup scoop of the rice and form a pattie in your hand, making a dent in the middle, but not a hole. Put your filling in the the indentation and cover with more rice and work it in your hands to make a ball.
Roll the ball in the flour and then the egg whites and then roll in the breadcrumbs. When made the other day we did not use the flour or the egg whites and they came out fine. So if you'd like you can skip that part and go right to the breadcrumbs.
I like to set the Arancini on a baking rack after they are rolled in the breadcrumbs and let them rest before frying them.
I like to deep fry them, they cook evenly and have a beautiful color. If you don't have a deep fryer you may pan fry them, or use a small stock pot and put about 3 inches of oil in the pot and cook them in the heated oil that way!

Buon Appetito

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Arancini with Mariann and Diandra

Today I had a fabulous day with my goomara, (Italian slang for really good friend)  Mariann and her daughter Diandra.
 Mariann and I have been friends since we were in grade school at East Memorial, in Farmingdale, New York. I say we met when we were in Kindergarten, Mare say's it was First grade. She has recently found pictures of herself while in Italy in uniform attending Kindergarten, so I stand corrected. We've been friends since 1st grade. In any case, that's 45 + years.  I could write pages about our friendship and try to describe Mariann's inner and outer beauty and I wouldn't come close to doing justice to her, or our friendship...Mariann I love you!!! I'll just move on to the tradition of the Arancini!
When ever there was a major event or any special occasion, Mariann's mother, Concetta and her Aunt Gina would get busy in the kitchen. These two tiny woman with huge personality and cooking talent were amazing!  They would make hundreds of these rice balls, Arancini, for any special occasion especially at Christmas and then turn around and make another 100 for New Year's Day. If there was a party there was always a huge platter of Arancini. I was never disappointed, and I always looked for them.
They never tired of cooking for their loved ones and extended family. I am so blessed to be one of many of the beneficiaries of the extended family!

The first thing you have to do is make a sauce of peas, chop meat, onion, garlic and tomatoes. Mariann sauteed 12 pounds of chop meat to make this recipe, which I have to say made a gigunta amount of sauce. Most people are not going to make 100 Arancini, so most people don't need that much sauce. We didn't need that much sauce!
I would start with one onion, chopped a clove or two of garlic chopped and saute them in a little olive oil in a large pan. Add your chop meat, crumbling it as you add it to the cooking onion and garlic and cook until your meat gets browned. Remove excess oil and add tomato sauce, salt, pepper, and bay leaf, a nice bunch will do. Let the sauce start to simmer and add sweet peas (one bag of frozen) and a little romano cheese.
Let your sauce cool.

Step 2
Make the rice. Mariann likes Carolina brand rice for this recipe. She used one medium size bag of rice and cooked it according to the directions on the bag. It's a sticky kind of rice. Let the rice cool at room temperature, or at least so you can handle it.  Once the rice cooled Mariann added Parmesan Cheese, Romano Cheese, salt, pepper, a little chopped parsley and a few whole eggs and mixed it all together. Once she got the taste and the texture she wanted it was time to start making them into delicious orbs better known as Arancini.

Diandra is the master at making the Arancini. She has sculptors hands and has a magic way of working the rice in her hands while filling them, and I mean filling them up with the meat and pea sauce!

Once we all started to help Diandra we had a few made and into the deep fryer they went.

After 2 - 3 minutes we checked on them, and when they had a beautiful golden color we took them out of the fryer and let them sit.

The first few we made came out huge. The more we made the more uniform in size they became, but not without a few's always about size, isn't it? lol And to Mariann's surprise I had a little trick up my sleeve.

I know each time we make something we always say, these are the best ever! Take a look at the inside of this baby! Doesn't this just look delicious? YUMMM!

I hope you get an idea from this on how to make an Arancini.  Good luck and email me, or leave a comment and I'll get back to you and assist you in any way I can.

There are hundreds of recipes out there on the internet for Arancini.  Each one is different and I'm sure delicious. It's fun to try all new recipes and then decide which one you like best.

Thanks for visiting me today. This post was a little different with all the videos added, and may be a little discombobulated. Please be patient with me during my growing pains!

Buon Appetito

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's not me for MasterChef 3!

This weekend it was my pleasure to go into New York City and audition for MasterChef Season 3.
I had fun standing in line, meeting new people who are passionate about cooking and want to have fun while doing it. That's what this is supposed to be, fun!

One of them F.M. is going to go all the way, I can just tell!
I met Joe Bastianich and had a short on camera interview with him. I told him that he made a mistake last year by not picking me to be on the show. We had a little debate, but it was all in fun.
This year, I had many reservations about the audition process for the show. Last year I knew my food was great, the producers liked me, they called me adorable and yet I was not picked to be one of the "100 best cooks in the country"! Those are their words, not mine!  Yet, the lady with string beans got on and my osso bucco and homemade ravioli took a back seat to her? Come on, REALLY!
I was crushed when I wasn't picked. I never expected not being picked! How naive was I?
Osso Bucco with homemade meat ravioli

Veal Spidini with a salad of argula, fennel, tomato and red onion

You can start to understand why I was on the fence about auditioning again.
While in Florida, I got a phone call from one of the producers of MasterChef asking me to come to the audition. I told him all of my reservations. I told him I didn't have a "story" I have an excellent life with a really great family who love and support me. If it were just about the food I knew I would have a shot at this game, but there are so many other aspects that come into play here. The producer assured me that it was primarily about the food...yes, but after all it is a tv show and they do need ratings, but the food is really important.
I discussed all of my reservations about the interview process. I told the producer I felt like I was just spinning wheels. I was told to be myself and put my best dish forward. That's what I did. That's who I am, and I'm not what they wanted.

I should have known that it would be the same thing all over again. I was actually almost past up after the tasting. The woman who came around the table was like a pit bull. She came after us and told us, don't talk to me about your food. I don't care about your food. I want to know about you! Bark! Bark! How are you supposed to answer someone when they ask you, "so tell me about yourself. "  What do you want me to say?  I'm kind of sassy,but all my friends love me anyway!  Then another BARK! "Tell me quick, cause I don't have all day!!!!"  grrrrrr  "So What's your story?"  I wanted to rip my hair out. I don't have a story!!!!! Well, I do have a story, we all have a story, but I don't have a story that you want.  Pit Bull PASSES!!!
When my name wasn't called and I wasn't asked to move on I saw one of the tasters step up and put my application in with the ones who would move on. He knew my dish was one of the best of the day!  OK, now I get to go in with the producers, but the crazy person asking us those stupid questions told me I had better be bad and give them some attitude. So I did, and I think that's what got me in trouble. Lol!  I told them that they made a big mistake last year! They didn't care. I didn't have a story. But I do have a story, it's just not the story they are looking for!
So that's it. I'm done! and I'm not really upset this time. I knew what to expect. I'm really in a good place. The only way I would audition again for MasterChef is if they invited me to LA to cook for the 3 judges and let them judge me based on the food I prepared. I want someone to tell me, I'm sorry your food is not good enough and send me home. Don't send me home because I wasn't crazy enough in your interview process.
So there, you have it all, and I have got this off my chest! Whew! Done! Gone! Yippee!
I just had to get it out of my system.
 I know that my dish was the best in the room. One woman asked me for my left overs after she tasted the osso bucco and ravioli. She said she wanted to bring them to her husband because she knew that he had never tasted anything so delicious in his life. Now that was real! It kind of says something too, doesn't it?
All I wanted was a chance to be one of the 100 to go to the real judges, the people who will judge you based on your food. My passion and my talent would have taken me all the way!
For those of you who know me, you know that I am real. I tell it like it is, and usually don't back down.  This is what I sent to the MasterChef production team.
Do you think they'll call me after that? lol
You know what? I really don't care!
Thanks for letting me vent!
My next post will be about the food. Arancini's are coming up!


Monday, December 12, 2011

Ricotta Gnocci with Sundried Tomato Pesto

I love Gnocci, when it's made right they should be nice and light, not little lead balls.  My family likes them made with ricotta cheese instead of the potato. They are very easy to make, don't really take that much time and usually when I make them I get lots of yums. Isn't that what it's all about when cooking? Making the people who are eating a happy bunch? If you'd like to try to make these follow the recipe that I used here, just omit the sweet potatoes, brown sugar and nutmeg.
Tonight I made these with a sundried tomato pesto. The pesto is relatively an easy thing to make.
Here's what I did
1 head of parsley cleaned, big stems removed
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
a bunch of basil, cleaned and stems removed
salt and pepper to taste
10 sundried tomatoes
***a handful of pine nuts or walnuts- these are very optional
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup romano cheese, grated
extra virgin olive oil to blend

I just put everything in the blender adding the oil a little at a time until everything is nice and smooth and blended.
Toss the Gnocci with the pesto and serve with a little more grated parmesan cheese.
You'll enjoy the Gnocci and the yums that come with it!

Buon Appetito

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Asian Style String Green Beans

Let me start off by saying that I did not follow a recipe to make this side dish. I followed my sense of flavor and used what I had in the house to make these delicious string beans, or in the culinary world sometimes referred to as Haricot Verts.
I washed the string beans and then dried them off making sure there was no moisture on them. I got my big pan out and heated it up and added some vegetable oil to the pan and placed the string beans in the hot oil. There wasn't a huge amount of oil in the pan, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan and then some. I sprinkled the beans with course kosher salt and then "fried" the srtring beans. They will start to crinkle up a bit and get a little color on them.  I know, I know, I should be using a wok!
After they are "fried" I removed them from the pan and added ground turkey meat. I usually use ground pork in this dish. I then added 5 cloves of chopped garlic and a nice piece of ginger that I chopped. We love the flavor of the ginger. You can always adjust this, just keep tasting and add more if needed.
Cook the meat and the garlic and ginger until the meat is cooked through. As the meat is cooking I added a  1/2 Tablespoon of Chili Oil and 1/2  Tablespoon of Sesame Oil. Add soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. I used equal parts, about 1/8 cup of each...sorry I didn't measure.
When it's all cooked through and the soy sauce and rice wine vinegar cook off a little add the string beans back to the pan with 1/2 cup of pickled vegetables. I used Italian Gardiniera. It added a little heat to the dish and a little pucker did the trick!
Mix it all together, and then just before serving sprinkle with some toasted sesame seeds!

When ever I make this there is never any left! It's a winner! I hope you and yours enjoy this dish as much as we do.

Buon Appetito

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

∩ │◥███◣ ╱◥███◣
╱◥◣ ◥████◣▓∩▓│∩ ║
│╱◥█◣║∩∩∩ ║◥█▓ ▓█◣
││∩│ ▓ ║∩田│║▓ ▓ ▓∩ ║
•°*”˜˜”*°• From my house to your house •°*”˜˜”*°•
•°*”˜˜”*°•Happy Thanksgiving to family and friends•°*”˜˜”*°•

If you are reading this I want to thank you for taking the time to stop and visit this blog. With so many food blogs out there, I am thankful that you pop in and read mine. 

If I have been able to help you, or inspire you to cook a dish that you hadn't before,  I am thankful.
I am thankful that you have the confidence in me to try one of my dishes.

I am thankful for so many things.

But most of all I am thankful for  my beautiful family.
 They are loving and supportive in all that I do.
I am thankful for my dear friends. 
Some of you have known me forever.
You laugh with me and cry with me, and never question why.
I am thankful for the new friends in my life.
I love the bridges that we are building and all the common interests we share.

So Thank You for letting me be a small part of you lives. 
For this I am most Thankful.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sweet Swiss Chard

If you are looking for another side for Thanksgiving Swiss Chard is an easy and delicious vegetable to serve.
Swiss Chard is a leafy vegetable and has a long stalk like stem. The stems  can be a little stringy so I peel them.
I cut off the leaf part and then work the stem cutting it into pieces, as I cut the "stalk" into  2 - 3 inch pieces I peel away some of the tough fibers.
Clean the leaves by soaking them in a pot or in your sink. The dirt should fall to the bottom of the sink or the pot. Remove them from the cleaning water and clean them again. When you think they are clean, submerge them in more water and clean them again. There is nothing worse than biting into something that is a little gritty. I hate when that happens!
Cook the stems first as they will take longer to cook than the leafy part. After a few minutes of the stems cooking in boiling water add the leafy part of the vegetable to the boiling water. Once the leaf wilts I remove them from the water.
In a frying pan you are going to saute garlic and then add the cooked Swiss Chard to the garlic and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Top with some freshly grated parmesan cheese and cover the pan until the cheese melts. Serve while hot!
You can make the Swiss Chard ahead of time, just wait until you are ready to serve them to saute them with the garlic and cheese.

Buon Appetito!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Asparagus Bundles

It's that time of year again, when everyone get's really busy. The Holidays are almost upon us.
I don't know about you, but I am always looking for something a little different to serve as a side on Thanksgiving, or for that matter at anytime!
The other night I made a delicous bundle of asparagus. It was a little bit of an after thought so I didn't have all the perfect ingredients or everything needed so I improvised. Let me tell you, my bundles were great. Sometimes you just make it happen using what you have! Here's what I had...

One roll of pie crust, yes you know which one I'm talking about. It comes in a box, and you keep it in the frig and when you need it you let it come to room temperature and unroll it!
2 bunches of thick asparagus, which I trimmed off the hard bottoms and then using my vegetable peeler, took off the skin on the sides of the asparagus.
3 slices of fresh mozarella cheese
a chunk of smoked gouda
a package of speck

I took two asparagus stalks and wrapped them in the speck. I cut up the cheese and put a piece of each cheese on top of the speck. I cut the pie dough into strips and wraped them up in the crust.
Place the asparagus on parchment paper, drizzle them olive oil and season with salt and pepper, (I had some left over truffle so I shaved some of it on top)
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven until the crust gets a little color.

I served these bundles on top of the pasta I made the other night.  These are delicious on their own and will definitely find a way to the table for the holiday!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me!

Buon Appetito

Friday, November 18, 2011

Truffles, Truffles, Truffles

My husband absolutely adores Truffles. When it's the season he wants to eat Truffles on everything. He asks chefs to prepare meals around the delicious fungi!
The other day while dining at 87 Vines Restaurant in Yonkers, my husband had the opportunity to make a purchase. To his delight two salesman from Italy came in for our friend Gino, who is the proprietor of the restaurant, to take a look and sample some of the Truffles that they had for sale. It was my husbands lucky day!
After weighing the truffles and bargaining over the pricing my darling came home with a truffle that delighted us all.
While I know that this may not be the most appealing object to look at I have to tell you that the aroma and the taste emitted from the White Truffle is most magnificent! The only thing I had to do was decide what to make with this, that would compliment the flavor of the truffle and make my husband happy.
I decided to make a homemade tagliatelle pasta with a porcini and butter sauce with freshly grated parmesan cheese. It was a very simple sauce, and the fattiness from the butter was made to enhance the flavor from the truffle.
For the sauce I melted a stick of unsalted butter,  (1/4 pound), added 3 whole cloves of garlic. I slowly melted the butter letting the garlic cook in the butter without getting any color. Then I added 1/4 cup of porcini mushrooms, which had been soaked, and sliced, to the melted butter. Cook this on low heat.
While the pasta is cooking, remove the whole cloves of garlic and discard. Season the butter with salt, black pepper and a little grated fresh nutmeg.
Add the shaved truffles into the porcini and butter. Reserve some of the truffle to grate on top of the pasta. Before draining the pasta add one soup ladle of the pasta water into the porcini, truffle butter.
Drain the pasta.
Add pasta to a serving bowl and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese and toss the pasta. As you are tossing the pasta to make sure it's getting coated with the cheese, start adding your butter sauce to the pasta. tossing so all the pasta gets a nice coat of the delicious buttery nutty sauce!
I didn't add more grated truffles to my portion. I thought it was perfect the way it was. I should have taken a picture of my husbands dish. He couldn't get enough!

P.S. If fresh truffles are not available you can always make this dish without. Just use extra Porcini mushrooms, and if fresh porcini is not available you can always find them dried in a good Italian market.

Buon Appetito

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


This past weekend my sister and I made homemade ravioli. The recipe has been in the family forever. I can remember being a young girl watching my Nona, mother and Zia make these delicious meat filled ravioli. My sister and I had a very important job, we were sent to count the ravioli sheets as the were made.   How many?  they would ask us, and we'd run and count. Dozen or sheets? and we'd run back again and count all over. My sister Marlene still counts by the dozen, while I still count the sheets. It's funny how some things just don't change.
At the time when they made them they would proudly make 200 dozen.  That was a huge amount. Everything was done by hand. They didn't have a Kitchen Aid mixer with pasta attachments to help them make the dough! As Marlene and I got older we were honored to help turn the crank to get the sheets of pasta to the smooth consistency needed so they could be stuffed. Marlene decided that she likes the stuffing part, and I have become the master of cranking out the pasta.
With the help of machinery we are able to make a few hundred dozen in a day rather than a weekend. It's still a tremendous amount of work, exhausting actually, but we love working together. It brings us together, we miss those who are not able to be with us, especially our sister, Michele who lives in California.  We know that while we are working we have the company of two angels, our Nona and our mother. If we get stumped or stuck on something and the answer or solution comes to us, it comes from them. We know how proud they are of us, and it makes us happy to know that they are happy!
They never worked with exact quantities. I don't think they even had a recipe written out until we asked. I remember sitting with a bowl under my mother's hand trying to catch the amounts she was using, and then measuring,  just for a rough idea of how much she was using. We now know that the water needed to make the pasta is approximately 3 - 3 1/2 cups!
When we make the meat ravioli I always try to have equal parts of the meat. If I am cooking 5 pounds of beef, I'll also cook 5 pounds of pork and veal.  However, I will only use about 3 pounds of the sausage meat.  The onions are another story. The more onions, the more sauce. We use about 20 pounds of onions which I hand chop.
I remember them using porcini mushrooms while cooking the meat and there is no mention of the mushrooms on the recipe card.  I make sure that they are added. They give a very delicious flavor to the meat mixture and the sauce.
It's taken us years to interpret the recipe.
Here's what my mother had written down.
For meat stuffing...
Rosolare pork, beef and veal in olive oil and butter until brown, add onions, rosemary and bay leaves.
Saute sausage meat with garlic and spinach.
Seperate meat from the onions.
Chop everything, add parmigiano cheese, salt, pepper and one whole ground nutmeg. Add egg to moisten to hold together. If needed add breadcrumbs.
At least we have one measurement here! LOL! One whole nutmeg!
5 lbs flour
2 eggs all
6 egg yolks
little oil, salt, and luke warm water
mix all together

I started making the meat mixture on Thursday. I cut all my meats into chunks and cooked them with the onions and seasoning for about 4 - 5 hours.
On Friday, I seperate the meat from the onions. The meat chunks went into the food grinder and the onions and the sauce were reserved and put into containers. This is the sauce that is used on top of the ravioli.
On Saturday we mixed all of the gound meats together with the spinach, cheese and eggs and seasoning.
The pasta was made and let to rest for 1/2 hour before working it.

After the pasta has been worked through the machine and is the right size and thickness it goes to the table where the stuffers are waiting to work! We will try to recruit any and all!

The trays get stuffed, then trimmed up and put on a tray.

They are then put on a sheet so they dry out a little, and then flipped hours later.

We work until all the meat mixture is gone. Usually there is pasta left over.
This year we made a few with spinach and cheese.

And when the spinach and cheese was gone we made the left over pasta "dough" into tagliatelle.

We've started a little tradition of our own when making these.
 In the past we would order out for food to eat for diner. Who wanted to cook after working hard all day. One year while making these at my mother's house my husband was in shock that we were going to order out for food. He insisted that we put a pot of water on and eat some of the ravioli that we had been making all day.  We were like, what? eat them now? lol  I'm so glad we did!
So now, every time we make them, after we count them and there is an odd number of sheets that can't be divided and packaged up (we like to put 10 dozen into one package)  they go into the pot of waiting hot water. I can't even begin to tell you just how delicious they are!

We love carrying on the traditions that were shown to us. My hope is that my children learn from us and one day show their own children the special "magic" that can be created through love of family and honoring traditions. Through this love and magic the family traditions will never be forgotten, nor will the people who started them or the people who kept them alive. ❤❤ 

 Buon Appetito
 Lorraine ❤❤