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
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!
We have gathered together more than 100 terrific recipes from countries all over the world and now we are getting ready to make some of them on a brand new cooking marathon scheduled for Saturday, February 26 at 10am. Right now it looks like we’ll be making Chinese Dumplings, Irish Stew, Ceregi, Cassoulet, Stollen, Pastitsio, Chicken Cacciatore, and Paella. this is a show you won’t want to miss.
I need your help for a new cookbook and show we are putting together. I want to gather the recipes for the most famous dishes from every cuisine. French, Italian, Irish (?), Greek, Indian, Eastern European, etc. So for French it would be things like Coq Au vin and for Greek it would be Pastitsio. But I need at least 20 dishes from 20 different cuisines. Please let me know your candidates.
I’ll be at two great food events this weekend. First I’ll be serving up crepes, quiche and French onion Soup at the French Booth of the St. Malachy’s Nationality Festival. Melissa Kehl was one of the “Church Ladies” in our original cooking marathon by that name and I’ve been going out to her parish to help ever since. IF you go, don’t miss the heavenly donuts, the sinful pierogies and everything at the Italian Booth. All the food is amazing. You can get more information here – http://www.stmalachypgh.org/
Then on Saturday I’ll be driving out through the beautiful Fall foliage to enjoy the Ohiopyle/Stewart Volunteer Fire Department’s Fall Buckwheat Festival. All you can eat buckwheat or regular pancakes, sausage, home fries, apple sauce and sweet pickles. The food is just great and the atmosphere is authentic America. They’ll be open this Friday and Saturday, October 8 and 9 from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM. I have to remember to pick up some of the delicious apple cider they have. It’s the best I’ve ever tasted. And I want to make sure I get my fill of the buckwheats because the Master Chef who has been making them for years, Al Smith, is making noises about retiring and training someone else to take his place. Someone else can make the cakes but no one will replace the master.
In this months issue of Pittsburgh Magazine they featured a long list of “The Best in the Burgh.” One of my selections was the home fries and Ham Off the Bone that they serve at Nancy’s in Wilkinsburg. They couldn’t include a photo in the article so I thought I would post one that I took this morning. I was happy to see that the little restaurant was humming with warmth and activity. The food is real and so are the people. A big hug from me to Nancy and the whole family. You are the Best of the’Burgh!
The picture quality is terrible but I did want to post a few photos from the dinner at Benihana this week for the benefit of the three Rivers Adoption Council. My son, Joseph. and I were stationed at a table with the folks from PNC Bank. They seemed to have a good time and no one got cut or burned – so I guess it was a success. Have to also mention that the staff at Benihana is so very gracious and helpful for this event. Many thanks to them.
And the first cookbook goes to….. John Michael Keba.
Best thing he ever ate? Just go to the “comments” section at the bottom of the posting. Now I’m waiting for number 10.
There’s no way for me to tell if anyone is checking out my blogs. So I came up with an idea. I’d like to ask all of you to send me a response to this blog listing the best thing you ever ate. I’ll send an autographed cookbook to the 1st, 10th, 20th. 30th and 40th response I receive. It would be great to hear from you.
It might have been these pastries I ran into in Paris – I’ll have to think abouot my answer. In the meantime, send me yours and you’ll have a chance to get a free cookbook.