Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Table 2013

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Of all the chinas I have, this is the one I use the most.  I purchased it on one of my trips to France at the factory in Gien.  It is Madame Mere's favorite and it has slowly become mine.  It is not my fanciest or most expensive.  On the contrary it is quite casual but a lot of fun to plan around.  Perhaps it is because I like to entertain in the Fall and have used it not only for Thanksgiving and Halloween dinner parties but also for many lunches.  The dessert (and bread plates) have a small red pepper, shallot, onion or chili in the middle and I usually put them on top when I am serving soup or a first course.  They fill the void in the middle of the dinner plate.  This time I decided to keep it simple although I must admit I like the place setting better the other way.   The pumpkins were a steal at Michael's a couple of weeks ago.  I shouldn't tell you that considering where they sit but that is the fun of planning tables, mixing the good things with the not so good.




The children's places are marked with a couple of felt turkeys and you will notice there are no napkins on their places.  You know what kind they are getting, but only at the last minute.  Little silver spoons and forks, so they get to appreciate the good stuff from an early age.









Before anyone tells me, I know I have to hide that chord. 



The buffet table is ready for the service pieces. 






I think Coco has decided to stay
 Meanwhile, back in the kitchen


The stock was made and reduced







twice (I do what I preach)



And placed in the refrigerator



Basil in olive oil waiting to go into freezer.  When frozen, the cubes will be put in plastic bags to save room.


This last chore is not part of the Thanksgiving prep, but it's freezing here with snow expected tonight and I had to bring everything in.  Not something I needed this week!  Tomorrow is sides and pies.  Oh, and I am making the chocolate pecan pie.  There's another couple coming for dessert, just the excuse I needed.

This will be my last post until later this weekend so have a Happy Thanksgiving and remember....don't sweat the small stuff!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Your Yearly Reminder...Thanksgiving Etiquette, Y'All Behave!

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In spite of the fact that I wrote this post 3 years ago and have published  it every year since then, it's worth reading again.  And again.  Trust me, it's more important than your menu.


It's that time of the year again...The Family Dinner From Hell.

This is the time when family grudges are aired in anticipation of forgiveness and peace by the time the Christmas holidays come around. 

Here are a few tips for hostesses, family members and guests to make the holiday a pleasant one for all involved:

Guests:

Dress appropriately, watch your language, arrive on time and keep your elbows off the table!

Try a little of everything and praise everything that is laid on your plate even if its burned or raw.  Thank your lucky stars you are having a warm meal that someone else cooked for you!

Don't get mesmerized by the football game.  Socialize, talk to others outside your group or family and help your hostess by offering to fix drinks or pass the appetizers.  She will be most grateful.

Talk to the old people. They appreciate every nice gesture we throw their way.

Turn your damn i-phone off and, by all means, don't even consider bringing it to the table!  Texting is NOT an alternative.  Make this sacrifice for world peace...

Stay out of the kitchen. Your hostess is hassled enough without you going in and bombarding her with stories of your last trip to Paris with your new boyfriend.

Don't surprise your hostess with unexpected  "guests of guests".  Call beforehand, make sure it's okay and bring something edible like an extra pie or casserole AND a couple of bottles of wine.



Family Members:

Avoid confrontations, unpleasant surprises and sarcastic comments.  That's all..

Wait!... and serve your little ones before you and everyone else sits down at the table.





Hostesses:

Don't try to cook everything at the last minute.  Be calm, cool and collected by the time your first guest arrives.

Your turkey should be out of the oven at least 1/2 hour before guests arrive and kept warm by tenting it.  Everything should be done by the time the doorbell rings... that includes the dreaded gravy.  1/2 hour before serving, stick your casseroles and dressing or stuffing in the oven for warming.

Spend time with your guests and family, that's what this holiday is all about.

Keep the booze light.  Alcohol has a way of un-inhibiting the inhibited and accentuating delusions...

Don't delay the meal waiting for "halftime".  Serve when you are ready.

At this point it's up to the gods of civility.  What will happen is going to happen... you have done your bit.   Don't sweat the small stuff and have a good time!






Have A Happy Stress-Free Thanksgiving!



Stay tuned for tomorrow's post, The Thanksgiving Table 2013


Top image Google
Cartoons from cartoons.com

Monday, November 25, 2013

Creamed Oysters On Toasted Cornbread

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If you are of a certain age, you will remember these fondly, especially at this time of the year.  

Oysters have been an important part of a Thanksgiving menu since the Indians brought them to that first three day celebration with the Pilgrims in 1620.  They were particularly popular in New York and New England.  During the heyday of New York’s oyster production (In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the city’s waters produced around 700 million oysters a year) East Coast cookbooks unanimously and prominently featured oysters on the Thanksgiving Day. menu.


Fanny Farmer"s


The Plaza Hotel 1899
 


The trend seems to have taken a real upswing in the Gilded Age and endured — at least in the cookbooks sampled — until around WWII. What happened then? They probably became too much of a luxury, I suppose, and in the city, the local beds were long since polluted and harvested into depletion.

This particular recipe used to be a classic in the mid 1900,s but it too disappeared from everyone's radar.  Perhaps people got tired of it or oysters became prohibitively expensive to serve for a group.  Those who know about the good things in life have not forgotten them.  You can buy them shucked, in their liquid, in the Fish section of most grocery stores.  They are not that expensive and taste very fresh.  If you want to impress a group of gourmets sometime, I suggest you serve them.  I, on the other hand, am trying to singlehandedly revive them.  It's simply too good a recipe to shelve.  Aside from Thanksgiving, Creamed Oysters make for a wonderful lunch, served with a salad.  The cornbread is a new twist on the usual thin toast over which they are serve.  It is not my idea.  It is Gourmet's.


Readers know that this time next week I will be entertaining my grandchildren for Thanksgiving for the first time ever.  For this occasion, they will be the guests of honors and will be catered to in every which way a grandmother knows how to do, but to a certain extent.   Yes they will be privy to all the things Lindaraxa enjoyed as a child but they will also sit at the table and hopefully behave like their parents have trained them to.  I did not get to sit with the grown ups until after I was eight but parents these days are different so we must adapt.  Compromise, my favorite new word.

I enjoyed a small sample for lunch today after  I shot these photos.  Yep. that's my plate. I had every intention of bringing out the silver and staging a more professional shoot, but promptly gave up.  They looked too good to pass up. 




 

 

Creamed Oysters on Toasted Corn Bread

Serves 8 as a first course

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup minced shallot
  • 1/2 cup minced celery plus 3 tablespoons finely chopped celery leaves
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 32 shucked oysters, reserving 1 1/4 cups of the liquor, strained
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground celery seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  • 8 squares of corn bread, split, toasted, and buttered
  • In a large heavy saucepan cook the shallot and the minced celery in the butter over moderate heat, stirring, until the vegetables are softened, add the flour, and cook the mixture over moderately low heat, stirring, for 3 minutes. Stir in the reserved oyster liquor, the milk, and the cream, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring, and simmer it, stirring, for 3 minutes. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, the celery seeds, the cayenne, the oysters, and salt to taste, simmer the mixture for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the edges of the oysters curl, and stir in the celery leaves.
  • Arrange a bottom half of a corn bread square on each of 8 heated plates, spoon the creamed oysters over the bottom halves, and top them with the remaining halves.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thinking Ahead...Turkey Stock And Tips

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I know you are probably disappointed in the title of this post, perhaps expecting a new twist on sweet potatoes or pumpkin pie for next week's Thanksgiving dinner; but I am probably giving you the most important recipe of the whole meal.  So, listen up and read on! 

 

Stocks are the building blocks of cuisine and essential in the success of  a dish.  They are the difference between okay and fantastic.


In the case of Thanksgiving, a good turkey stock is a fundamental component of the gravy and the stuffing as well as the flavor and moisture of the meat that comes from basting the bird while cooking  You can also freeze it and use it later in some classic leftovers like Turkey Tetrazzini or Turkey Chili, to name a few.

 

  This  recipe yields more than enough for the gravy, basting the turkey and adding some to the stuffing before and after it cooks.    You'll be happy to have the extra when it comes time to make soup.


 




Roasting the turkey and vegetables before simmering them results in a dark stock that takes you more than halfway to a rich brown gravy. On Thanksgiving Day, bring the gravy base or stock to a simmer on the stove top. Add some wine, port or Madeira,  if you wish. To thicken it, whisk in a mixture of equal parts flour and butter, known as beurre manie.When the turkey comes out of the oven, whisk pan drippings into the base to boost the flavor. Skim off the excess fat or strain and your gravy is ready to go.

 




 If you think this is too much work and can't be bothered, think again. Gravy tops the list of intimidating Thanksgiving tasks, especially since you need to make it at the last-minute. There is nothing more nerve wrecking than having to make something with everyone crowding your kitchen to watch the turkey come out of the oven and asking how they can help.  Making a gravy, THE GRAVY, at this particular moment is the last thing you want to do.   For some people this is the make or break component of the entire meal and the one on which your entire meal will be judged.  If the gravy is good, the entire meal is a success. Well, I have news for you.  This turkey stock is a great gravy base.  Not only will your gravy be more than halfway done, it will be fantastic and so will your stuffing and anything else you care to make with the leftovers.

 

 


So get cracking and make some this week.  You will be very happy you did this.  Trust me.

 

Stock Tips 


  1. Always start with cold water.  Skim off the foam that comes to the top so you will end up with clear stock. 

  2. Most stocks include the classic seasoning vegetables of chopped garlic, celery, onions and carrots called a "mirepoix" but use them in moderation so they don't overwhelm the flavor of the meat

  3. Don't caramelize the vegetables together with the meat.  Roast separately or sautee them in a pan on top of the stove.  They give off steam and prevents the browning.  They also soak fat.

  4. A good stock simmers uncovered for at least 6 hours.  The longer the better.

  5. The turkey or chicken parts should be chopped in small pieces to get a complete extraction of their flavor.  

  6. Purchase a heavy stock pot with at least a 12 cup capacity.  (You can boil spaghetti or steam lobsters in it also

  7. If you don't have room to freeze all the stock, boil the strained batch of stock until reduced by half.  Freeze the concentrated stock in containers.  Reconstitute by adding an equal part of water to bring it back to its original volume.


    And here is the most important...A good meat stock is made with uncooked meat and bones, not with cooked leftover meat or bones! 

     

 

 

Turkey Stock


Makes  about 13 cups
  • Active Time:20 min
  • Start to Finish:4 1/2 hr to 7 hours

Ingredients:
  • 6 lb turkey parts such as wings, drumsticks, and thighs
  • 3 medium yellow onions, left unpeeled, trimmed and halved
  • 3 celery ribs, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 3 carrots, quartered
  • 5 qt cold water
  • 6 fresh parsley stems (without leaves)
  • 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Special equipment:
    a 17- by 14-inch flameproof roasting pan

  • If using turkey wings, halve at joints with a cleaver or large knife, then crack wing bones in several places with back of cleaver or knife. (Do not crack bones if using other parts.) Pat turkey dry.
  • Put oven rack in lowest position of oven and preheat oven to 500°F. Roast turkey parts, skin sides down, in dry roasting pan, turning over once, until browned well, about 45 minutes. Transfer to an 8- to 10-quart stockpot with tongs, reserving fat in roasting pan
  • Add onions (cut sides down), celery, and carrots to fat in pan and roast, stirring halfway through roasting, until golden, about 20 minutes total. Add vegetables to turkey in stockpot.  DO NOT ROAST THE VEGETABLES TOGETHER WITH THE TURKEY PARTS AS THEY WILL STEAM AND PREVENT THE MEAT FROM BROWNING.  I like to Sautee these instead in the stock pan so they will caramelize, but either method is fine.

  • Straddle pan across 2 burners, then add 2 cups water and deglaze by boiling, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. Add deglazing liquid to turkey and vegetables in stockpot, then add parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns, salt, and remaining 4 1/2 quarts cold water. Reduce heat and gently simmer, partially covered, at least 3 hours.  I usually simmer mine 6 hours to get a more concentrated stock which takes less room to freeze.  When needed I dilute with water.
  • Pour stock through a large fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, discarding solids. If using immediately, let stand until fat rises to top, 1 to 2 minutes, then skim off and discard fat. If not, cool completely, uncovered, then chill, covered, before skimming fat (it will be easier to remove when cool or cold).
Cooks' note: Stock can be chilled in an airtight container 1 week or frozen 3 months.


Stock recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine
Photos Pinterest

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Grandmother's First Thanksgiving...Tips For A Kid Friendly Menu

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If you are hosting Thanksgiving this year chances are a small group of your guests will be little people, something we tend to forget as we get all wrapped up in planning a menu to impress our guests.    Children have different tastes than adults, a fact which should be taken into consideration when they are included in a family holiday like Thanksgiving and Christmas.  This is something I neglected to see as a young mother, for which I am at fault and deeply regret. But it's never too late and I will not make that mistake as the grandmother of a five and a three year old.   This year I will  tweak revamp my usual menu to make sure everyone goes home well fed and satisfied.

When my children were small and we gathered at Madame Mere's for a mid day meal straight out of Gourmet magazine, I had a hard time making them understand that what they considered (a yucky) lunch was it for the rest of the day.  My son Ted was the worst.  He did not like anything in this menu and would not budge in spite of the fact that I would remind him that this was lunch AND dinner so he'd better eat up.   All the way home he would cry, demanding his usual dinner and yelling but that was lunch, not dinner.  We still laugh about it and I am sure we will again this year when he and his family come to my house for our first Thanksgiving together. I can't wait.

Armed with experience from all those years, I have decided to pick some of the things I think the children, as well as the adults, will enjoy.  No reason to sacrifice one group for the other.    Everyone eats turkey, so the bird is safe.  And if they won't eat my Madeira Sauce, no harm done.  There is plenty more to choose from.

I have chosen to serve the French Green Bean Casserole with French fried onion rings instead of my favorite Creamed Onions.  And instead of a fancy potato or sweet potato gratin, we will have sweet potato puree with marshmallows, the big ones! I wonder if they would like them served in orange cups?  And then there's the stuffing which no kid will eat.  But I have a solution...

Stuffing Balls




Set aside some of the dressing or stuffing you are serving, enough to feed the little ones.  Mine has either apples or pears.  Avoid chestnuts and nuts and visible onions or scallions.  For some reason, kids hate onions.  Remember when it comes to this kind of stuff, they prefer plain to fancy (they are not gourmets yet) and it's easy to pick these things out from their share of the stuffing. 

Shape into small balls, the smaller the better.  Place them in a small cookie sheet, brush them with butter and cook next to the dressing at 375 degrees until browned.  Remember, they will take much less than the dressing to cook.  If you are stuffing the turkey, proceed as above and cook for about 20 minutes.  It all depends on how large they are.

You can make them even more enticing by putting a small amount of cranberry sauce on top.  Anything to make them pop these babies into their mouths!



 If that doesn't fly, this definitely will!



and....My French Green Bean Casserole!



How am I doing so far? 

The biggest compromise for me will be dessert.  Nothing has ever stood between me and a Pumpkin Pie and a Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie , one of the most popular recipes of the blog.  Nothing.  I always offered to bring the pies just to make sure they made their appearance, just as I liked them.  But grandchildren work in strange ways .  The Sous Chef is right, I am getting old and softie.   Since it's just the six of us and my daughter doesn't like sweets,  I want to make only one dessert.  Fortunately she loves cheesecake and has volunteered to make a pumpkin cheese cake with a ginger snap cookie crust.  It's called compromise and the older I get,  the more I like this word.  The little ones might not like this either so I will buy some of those pumpkin and turkey shaped cookies they have at Publix to be on the safe side.   Luckily they are not gourmets yet and won't know the difference between home made and store bought.  But not for long.  One day they will know the difference,  if it's the last thing I do.


Recipes by Lindaraxa
Photos 2 & 3 Google Images
Photos 1 and 4 Lindaraxa

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Gourmet Nostalgia...Upside Down Pear Gingerbread Cake

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One of the things I love about going to visit Madame Mere is perusing through her old Gourmet magazines.  She has them all filed away in those big albums available at the end of the year, all the way back to the seventies.  Every time I open one I am saddened by the fact that we don't get that kind of content in a food magazine anymore.  The Wine, California, New York and Paris Journals... what delight.  And the in depth articles on travel and food from around the globe. Gourmet, The Magazine of Good Living, read the caption below. That said it all.

I remember in the last months of Gourmet the quality of the articles began to decline as the magazine emphasized photography instead.  Boy, was that a mistake.  Did they not realize that we mainly bought Gourmet for the recipes and the articles and not the artistic content?  When I first began to cook, we were supposed to read a recipe and determine if we liked it or not.  Cold turkey.  No pictures, no detailed instructions, no reviews. Take it or leave it.  It was a leap of faith, so you had to know who to take the plunge with.  Joy of Cooking?...yes.  Julia?...yes.  The New York Times' Craig Claiborne?...check. Gourmet?... definitely.


Gourmet, The Magazine of Good Living

 I know that nowadays people would rather look at a beautiful photo than read a recipe. Food porn, that's the new thing. Look at the success of Pinterest and  Instagram.  Combined with texting and email we are rapidly becoming a society of mutes and voyeurs.   And, of course, there goes etiquette and social manners.  No more engraved invitations or thank you notes.  And don't get me going on the demise of the dinner party... or any kind of entertaining at home.  No, those days are gone and boy do I miss them and worry about what's in store for my grandchildren. 



 I sometimes regret having all the china and silver that are packed away and  gathering dust in the basement.  And the linens that need to be carefully washed and ironed.  Who's going to use all that stuff after I'm gone ???  I expect to be turning in my grave like the spin cycle in a washing machine. Regardless, brides still want the loot.  Life is funny. 

Today we have more advantages than ever before yet we choose not to cook or entertain.  The most important and expensive part of any house these days is the kitchen and, except for the refrigerator,  it remains immaculate and looks practically new.  Our grocery stores are full of food and spices from all over the world and as far as pots and pans and gadgets, you have one for every chore and cuisine.  Tagines? in all colors.  Just look at the Williams Sonoma catalogue.  Who buys this stuff?! And cookbooks? even the cat has a cookbook, with photos and videos.  Speaking of which...I give you Madame X  She doesn't cook, but she eats rather well.





I don't know what got me going on this tirade, except I like and miss the good old days.  Yes, I miss Gourmet magazine and wish they brought it back.  Soon.  I would give up the entire Food Channel and all the cooking blogs, including mine.  All for one good cooking magazine.  Gourmet.

For old times sakes, I am posting a recipe from an old issue, very appropriate for this time of the year and very simple to make.   It is a rich cake.  It has a great picture too....

Topped with beautifully browned fall pears, this moist cake is perfect on its own—and even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

Upside Down Pear Gingerbread Cake


 Serves 6

 For topping

  • 2 1/2 firm pears (preferably Bosc)
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

For cake

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup molasses (preferably mild)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten 
  • Special equipment:

    a well-seasoned 10-inch cast-iron skillet or a 12-inch deep nonstick skillet (handle wrapped with a double layer of foil if not ovenproof)
  • Accompaniment:

    vanilla ice cream

Make topping:

  • Peel and core pears and cut each into 8 wedges.
  • Melt butter in skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides. Reduce heat to low, then sprinkle brown sugar over bottom of skillet and cook, undisturbed, 3 minutes (not all sugar will be melted). Arrange pears decoratively over sugar and cook, undisturbed, 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Make cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together molasses and boiling water in a small bowl. Beat together butter, brown sugar, and egg in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes, then alternately mix in flour mixture and molasses in 3 batches at low speed until smooth.
  • Pour batter over topping in skillet, spreading evenly and being careful not to disturb pears, and bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes.
  • Cool cake in skillet on a rack 5 minutes. Run a thin knife around edge of skillet, then invert a large plate with a lip over skillet and, using pot holders to hold skillet and plate tightly together, invert cake onto plate. Replace any pears that stick to skillet. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Italian Meatballs With Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce

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Here the most famous tomato sauce on the Internet, from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, is added to Italian meatballs for an unforgettable main dish.

As most of you know, Marcella Hazan recently passed away in her home in the Florida Keys.  She was the Italian Julia Child and is responsible for educating Americans in the true elements of authentic Italian cooking.  I have most of her books and have been making her recipes, including her famous Bolognese, since they were published.  I have to confess, though, that although I had heard about it many times, I had never made her famous Tomato Sauce until tonight .  It is supposed to have gone viral the moment it was published.  The amazing thing is that it is so simple anyone can make it, including the Sous Chef with her eyes closed.

This tomato sauce is a very subtle sauce, nothing like the robust one most of us are used to.  It has no herbs and, God forbid, garlic.  Just tomatoes, one onion and butter. Make sure, though, that you buy the best Italian canned tomatoes like San Marzano's.



On Halloween night I had no time to be creative with dinner. I had to serve something hearty, yet quick and simple, so I could greet the kiddies at the door and rush back to my neighbor's house to snap photos of his fabulous decorations and post them before midnight.  I had some chopped sirloin and pork left over in the freezer and the thought of meatballs with a baguette came to mind.  I had this sauce in back of my mind ever since I heard Ms. Hazan had passed away.  Perhaps I had never tried it because I was so enamored of the one I always make which is Lidia Bastianich's and our favorite.   Time for a new adventure.  After all, it was Halloween night, everyone was hassled and, in a pinch, there was plenty of candy.

Suffice it to say that in spite of the trick or treaters interrupting our meal every five or ten minutes, we enjoyed the new recipe tremendously.  I am not much of a lover of spaghetti with meatballs but this is now a favorite.  

Since the sauce was subtle,  I felt I had to tone down the meatballs.  I added maybe two tablespoons of fresh basil and a small amount of garlic.  I coated them in a little flour to sear the outside and keep them moist inside.  They turned out juicy and slightly brown on the outside, a perfect combination for the sauce.  

Of course we could not eat all the meatballs in one night, so half were frozen before coating them with flour.  The rest my daughter took to work for lunch.




If meatballs are not your cup of tea, at least try the sauce one day with spaghetti.  You should,  at least for the sake of tasting what some people consider the best tomato sauce under the sun. I thought it was excellent and, albeit different, enjoyed it almost as much as the one I usually make.  Like the chicken previously posted, sometimes it's okay to cheat on our recipes.

I know I have been on an Italian kick for awhile now and promise the next recipe will be radically different.





Italian Meatballs With Marcella's Tomato Sauce 


Serves 6, enough to sauce 1 to 1 1/2 pounds pasta or add to the meatballs

For the sauce

  • 2 cups canned imported Italian tomatoes, cut up, with their juice (for example, a 28-ounce can of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes).
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
  • Salt to taste
  1. Put either the prepared fresh tomatoes or the canned in a saucepan, add the butter, onion, and salt, and cook uncovered at a very slow, but steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until it is thickened to your liking and the fat floats free from the tomato.
  2. Stir from time to time, mashing up any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon.
  3. Taste and correct for salt. Discard the onion before tossing with pasta. Same if you are adding to the meatballs.  Serve with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese for the table.


For the meatballs 


In a bowl combine 1 lbs ground sirloin with 1 lbs. ground pork 


Add 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil.


In a skillet melt 2 TB olive oil and 2 TB butter

Sautee  3 garlic cloves, mashed and diced and 1/2 cup chopped onion until translucent.  Add to the meat.

Wipe the pan clean with a paper towel.

Season with salt and pepper.

Shape meat into 1 1/2 inch meatballs.  Refrigerate for at least 1/2  hour or more.

In a small bowl place about 1 cup flour.  Add more if necessary.

Bring meatballs out of refrigerator, pass through flour.  Hold meatballs between your fingers after flouring and shake off excess.

Add a 1/2 cup of olive oil and 2 TB butter to the clean frying pan and heat on medium high.  When ready add the meatballs being careful not to overcrowd.  Sautee on one side for about 5 minutes.  Turn and do the same on the other side.  Fold a paper napkin and lay on top of a plate.  With a slotted spoon remove meatballs from the pan and place on the plate.  Repeat with the rest of the meatballs until they are all browned and slightly cooked. 

Add the meatballs to the sauce.  Mix and cook for about 10 minutes in a low heat. Add a little water if the sauce becomes too thick.  I added some of my vodka on the rocks but that is optional.

Serve with a good sprinkling of grated fresh Parmesan cheese and enjoy with a baguette or spaghetti on the side. 

 
Photos: Lindaraxa

Friday, November 1, 2013

An Evening In The Garden Of Good And Evil

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Halloween decorations walk a fine line between tacky and cool.  Let's face it, how elegant can we make a spider or monster surrounded by cobwebs and hanging from a front door.  It seems, though, that one of our neighbors has conquered the art quite masterfully by integrating the monsters and spiders into the landscape in a way that is both creative and  in good taste.  Madison Avenue move over.

I don't know how much time he and his son spend planning the whole thing but I can tell you that everything comes together in less than 48 hours.  I know, I watched him.  I go by his house practically every day and take note of what's new or sprouting in his garden.  The landscaping around his house is beautiful and immaculate.  The man is an artist.  Just this afternoon at 5 o'clock he was in the garden putting on the finishing touches while his son helped with the lights and background music.  Oh yes, there is music, scary and otherwise.  By tomorrow afternoon the yard will be spotless again and he will start planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We are so lucky to have people like him in this world.

These photos were taken late afternoon.  If you look closely, you can see him in some of the photos hanging spider webs he makes himself.  Talk about creativity and dedication ...




























These are some of the best and most realistic monsters I've ever seen.  Some of them speak!









The ghosts are made by him.  The heads underneath are pumpkins.



About two weeks ago, the hands suddenly appeared in the garden and then nothing.   I thought that was all he was going to do this year until ladders made their appearance this weekend.  He likes to tease us that way...




Here is another of the talking monsters.  She greeted you at the entrance




I went back around nine o'clock and this is what was waiting for me.  The quality of the photos is pathetic but I was using the little camera with no flash.












The talented and gracious host between my daughter and his date

One of the front windows of the house









Meanwhile, back at Lindaraxa's I was greeted with this:

No, Coco is not part of the decor...although the Sous Chef would be delighted to see her mummified. 


What the%#^%


I've been waiting for you...

Guess who has your keys!




Not much left!

I think next year I'll go to Halloween School. Actually, this is more than we ever do thanks to some last minute touches added by my daughter.  I guess she learned a thing or two at Parsons.

On to Thanksgiving...
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