Archive for March, 2011

Meatball Mania

I am officially declaring this the Year of the Meatball.  Just ask Daniel Mancini of “Mama Mancini’s Meatballs in sunday Sauce” or Johnny Meatballs from New Jersey.  They are gearing up to meat the demand (pun intended) of the public for those little round servings of meaty delight.  I predict whole cookbooks and television series devoted to this Italian staple of humble origins.  Of course, other nationalities have their own version of ground meat delicacies.  But my memory goes straight back to Brooklyn in the 1950’s and 1960’s when I would come home from 9 o’clock mass at St. Ephraim’s (the children’s mass).  the aroma of the sauce hit me as soon as I came in the door.  It was still two hours from completion but the meatballs were already bobbing in a still thin tomato sauce.  Gram would cut a fresh soft roll in half and spoon on a pulpetta with a little of the sauce.  You had to eat it over a dish with your elbows pointing out so the sauce would drip onto the plate.  then you mopped that up with the last of the roll.  Now that was good eats.  The pot of sauce in the picture is from this Sunday.  My son, Joseph, loves it when we make THE SUNDAY SAUCE and it always includes meatballs.  Passing fancy?  Maybe for the fickle American palate but I’ve been enjoying the same Sunday breakfast for 60 years.  “Don’t get that sauce on your white shirt!”  I won’t, Gram.


When they asked me to read a story to the students out at the Chartiers Valley Primary School to celebrate READ ACROSS AMERICA WEEK I couldn’t resist selecting “If  You Give a Moose a Muffin.”  It’s a wonderfully silly story and the kids all seemed to enjoy it.  What a treat to see all their bright faces and attentive smiles.  It also made me realize that we can’t possibly pay teachers more than they are worth since the future is in their hands every day.  So, how about a muffin recipe?



2 cups oat bran

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt

1 cup milk

1 egg

¼ cup molasses

2 TBS canola oil

1 grated apple


The key to fluffy and tender muffins is to mix the dry and wet ingredients separately.  In this case blend the oat bran, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat the egg then add the milk, molasses and oil.  Slowly add the liquid to the dry ingredients, stirring gently with a fork just until everything is moist.  Peel the apple and grate it into the bowl then fold in gently.  Divide the mixture among 10 muffin cups that you have sprayed with non-stick spray or lined with paper cups.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.


My son, Joseph, has discovered the joy of a simply fried egg in the morning.  He’s so proud of his ability to melt a little butter in the pan, crack in an egg, wait a minute and then gently flip over for a perfect result.

Then yesterday I got a call from a viewer who was having trouble turning out hard boiled eggs with perfect yellow yolks.  So I gave her the Jacques Pepin instructions:  Put the raw eggs in a pot of cold water.  Bring the water to a boil then cover and remove from the heat.  Set the time for exactly 15 minutes.  Then drain and rinse the eggs with cold water, giving them a little shake in the pan to create small crack that will facilitate peeling.  Gently peel the eggs under running water.  the whites will be firm but not rubbery and the yolks will be perfectly cooked and yellow without that ring of grey around the outside.  Try it!