Friday, December 17, 2010

Italian Fig Cookies

This recipe is from the Fazio family. Sandy was my chiropractor and her daughter Janine worked for me at the Caffe. I am so happy they shared it with me because they are so delicious and bring back memories! We caught up on Facebook the last couple of years. This is why I love facebook.

Cooks note: I used a little less honey than what was called for. The nut and fruit mixture is not wet and not dry. I cut my dough into squares and then placed a ball of the mixture in the middle and folded like a cannoli or made a little pouch by bringing all the corners together in the center.
I added little colored beads to mine after brushing with the egg wash and again after icing. RAVE reviews! Thanks again for sharing your recipe!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Time Food, Sweets and Traditions

Drew and I are adding some of our favorite photos of Christmas traditions during the month of December!


Crab Pasta


Panettone is a holiday tradition!

Our mom is famous for this red outfit at Christmas.

We are sitting down to our traditional "Wedding Soup" as a starter on Christmas Day.

Made a bunch of Pizzelle with my friend Anna the other night.

Here is my old Pizzelle recipe from the Caffe.

I love the old pieces of paper these recipes were written on.. this book had all my restaurants secrets in it!

Sprinkles add a festive touch to coffee drinks!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Emergency Lasagna posting for a friend!!

Here is a quick Lasagna video! See next blog entry for recipe and finished photo!



Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach Filling

To make a tray of lasagne this size you will need:

1 box of Barilla lasagna pasta

1 recipe of Tomato sauce ( mine or your favorite)

Shredded Mozzerella Cheese

1 recipe of ricotta filling ( recipe to follow)

Ricotta filling

1 pt of ricotta cheese

1 egg

1/2 cup or so of grated cheese ( romano or parm)

fresh chopped italian parsley ( 1/4 cup more or less)
garlic powder 1-2 tsp to taste

salt and pepper

You can mix all this together in a cuisinart or large bowl.

If you want to make it spinach like this one.. add 2 cups fresh spinach to the cuisinart and mix into the ricotta filling. If you don't have a cuisinart, just chop the spinach fine and add to your mixture. (this makes a great ravioli filling as well)

I made some meatballs to go on the side of the lasagna, so my friend can have a nice dinner of lasagna and meatballs.

Cook at 375 degrees for 1 hour. I do cook it covered with foil until the last 10 minutes or so and then remove the cover and either add the shredded mozzarella then and cook for 10 minutes longer or after it is completely cooked, sprinkle the cheese on and it will melt on top.

Be sure to let it set for half an hour or when you serve it it will not be firm. Cover lightly with your foil or a piece of parchment paper and it will be ready to serve as you prepare your salad or garlic bread , etc.

To reheat a pre-baked lasagna.. just tent some foil over the top of the pan so not to touch the cheese and bake till heated thru about 40 minutes at 350 to 375 depending on your oven. Take the cooled tray out of the refrigerator at least one hour prior to baking it. You can serve it right away if it has been baked once before.



Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Our good friend is going to be on the Cooking Channel

Our good friend Anna , 3rd from top on right side, will be one of the contestants in Season 2 of "Worst Cooks in America". Should be funny because she is born in Calabria and can't cook anything. Her mamma does it all for her!
We hope to feature her in one of our videos soon! I am going to teach that girl how to cook!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Basil Oil

Stephanie teaches us how to make Basil Oil.

1 1/2 cups of packed Basil leaves
2 cups Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

We used the left over leaves to make pesto.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Fast and Delicious Spaghetti ( Video and Recipe)

When you come home and want something really delicious and quick here is the pasta for you!
All you need it garlic, olive oil, a fresh tomato, some fresh basil and some angel hair or spaghetti.

Here is how you do it for 1 serving dinner or 2 first course.

2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3-4 med cloves of garlic sliced thin or chopped
1 ripe tomato cut in pieces
hot pepper seeds to taste
4 to 5 basil leaves

2 to 4 oz dry spaghetti or angel hair cooked al dente ( I like whole wheat)

Before you start your sauce, put your water on to boil for the spaghetti and salt it to taste.
Then, add your olive oil and garlic to a skillet and saute ( do not let brown), add hot pepper seeds to taste and then the pieces of tomato and once they soften, smash them with the back of a fork so as to incorporate into the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Once this is cooked and it doesn't take long you can turn the heat off while you're boiling your pasta.

When the pasta is done, fire up the skillet again ,add a little of the water from the pot to the skillet and then add the drained spaghetti and toss for a minute to coat it well. Top with your favorite cheese if you like and you have just added a new dish to your repetoire that is easy, economical and you will amaze yourself and your friends.

Cooks note: If you want to add some variety or don't like hot pepper seeds, try adding some sliced olives or a few capers in your sauce. If you like your sauce with more tomato, simply add more fresh tomato and season to taste. A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top makes it even better!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

October is national pizza month.

So here is a pizza posting!

Stephanie made pizza with her mom and dad.  Steph's parents are real pizza connoisseurs so this was a real test of how well we can make pizza and we passed the test!       

Here is an email I received from Stephanie along with some pictures. 
"These pizzas came out fabulously!  We made two types:  Pepperoni and Margherita
with mozzarella di buffala, basil and tomatos"

Monday, September 27, 2010

Lets Make Pesto!

Here is Stephanie's first video on our blog.  She normally films our videos but she's such a good cook we had to get her in front of the camera! 

4 cups of basil leaves
1 1/2 cups of olive oil
1 cup of pine nuts or walnuts
1 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
3 cloves of garlic
Salt & Pepper to taste
Use it on pasta or pizza.  It's awesome on a turkey sandwich.   I use it on toast instead of butter.  We love tomato sandwiches and pesto makes them even better.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Homemade "Brodo" Broth

This is the finished product of homemade soup with greens, chicken and homemade meatballs.

 There is nothing better than homemade broth, chicken or beef as it has so much flavor and is a great starter for soups and risotto. It can be frozen and kept on hand.

Basic Recipe for Broth

Whole chicken or chicken breasts ( to keep it lower in fat)
Water to cover your meats and veggies
Celrey 2 to 3 ribs cut into pieces
Carrot 1 or two cut into pieces

Tomato 1 or 2 fresh or a handful of whole canned tomato

Onion 1 large or 2 med sliced into med pieces Fresh herbs ( Italian Parsley, Thyme, basil )
Salt and pepper

Add all to a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer and cook for about 2 hours or so till meat is tender and falling apart.

Here's what the start of the soup looks like

You can strain the soup when it's done and have a clear broth.
You can strain and remove the thyme stems and meats and then blend the cooked veggies into your broth.

If your broth looks like it has too much fat in it, then strain and put the broth into the fridge for a day and the fat will get hard and float to the top. You can then easily remove it.
Here I added some white beans to my soup

After a couple of hours of simmering

Chill strained broth to have the fat harden on top and be easy to remove

You can keep a little for flavor

Steam the greens first and then add to the cooked broth along with some of the cooking liquid
I like to add cooked greens to my soup ( endive, napa cabbage, rappini, anything you like) and then shred my chicken and add it all together to make a wonderfully delicious soup similar to an Italian wedding soup. Add a couple of meatballs that you have made from the freezer and it is a complete dinner.

You can also add some tortellini to the cooked broth and serve with grated cheese for a delicious starter. The possibilities are endless!

When I was little my mom used to ask what we wanted for our birthday dinner and I always wanted her chicken soup with rice.

Cooks note: You can use beef or chicken or a combination of anything you may have in your freezer. Bones give great flavor so make sure your meat has some bones.

Grilled pizza with the help of a Pizza Stone

Grilled Mushroom with Pesto Oil

Grilled pizza with peppers,onion, olive and fresh tomato plus pesto oil

Last night we tried something I saw on Bobby Flay's show.He was showing how to do pizza's on the grill.  His guest grilled her pizza on a stone that was on top of the grill. Now I like my grill marks so I start out on the grill doing both sides, brush some olive oil on your bottom of the dough and then put the dough olive oil side down on the pizza stone. Add the cheeses and close the lid so it starts to melt. Then add your toppings and continue to cook. You have a lot more time when it's on the stone then when it's just  on the grill as it cooks quickly on the grill and can burn easily.

Cooks note:  A Huge Metal Spatula is a tool you will want or a Pizza Peel to help moving the pizza around when you are doing this.

To finish it off, slide it over to the grill again till the cheese is all bubbly and hot and finish off with the pesto oil. Recipe to follow.

Pesto oil recipe

Fresh basil leaves
Fresh garlic
Olive oil and salt to taste

Just mix it all in a blender or mini chop type food processor and drizzle over your pizza when it comes off the grill.

A new cook in training~


Monday, September 20, 2010

Spinach Fritatta

There is a definite technique to making a really nice looking fritatta. I will post the recipe soon!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Basil Harvest 2010

We picked (almost) all of our basil last weekend.  We turned most of it into Pesto, I took video and I'll be posting it soon.  We tried a couple different storeage methods that we will test in a few months.  If everything works out, we'll be eating pesto all winter.  I can't wait to make a pesto pizza!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lentil Soup

Lentil soup is one of our favorites. It is easy to make, delicious and economical. It is also very healthy.

Here is the recipe our mom has passed on to us. We are from Bari, Italy and of course every region has it's own favorite ways of doing things.

Lentil Soup

1 bag of brown lentils ( raw or soaked in water and drained)

2-4 cloves of garlic chopped

3 stalks of celery cut as you like it

1-2 carrots cut or chopped

2-4 bay leafs

Olive oil I don't measure but seems like 1/3 cup at least

1 large can of tomatoes, either crushed , whole or sauce ( you can use fresh tomato if you prefer)


Salt and pepper to taste

You can soak your lentils for a couple of hours or overnight. This will cut down on cooking time but is not necessary.

Add lots of water to your stock pot to cover the soaked lentils by about 2 inches and if raw use more. You can always add more water if it looks too thick.

Drop in your chopped garlic, celery and carrots.

Add your bay leaves

Turn heat on high till mixture starts to boil and then down to a rapid simmer. If lentils are raw, cook for awhile till they start to absorb some of the water. If you soaked them you can add your large can of tomato in now and then once the heat adjusts, drop it down to a simmer.

Add the olive oil.

I do not add salt at this time. I usually wait till it's almost done to adjust with salt and pepper. If you prefer to use a chicken stock or vegetable stock instead of water or in addition to.. that is fine.

Once soup is cooked, adjust your seasonings. Add water to desired consistency, and if you like it a bit blended, use your immersion blender to thicken it up a bit. This is a wonderful soup on it's own and can be served with bread and salad to make a complete meal. You can add rice or cooked pasta as well. One of my favorite chefs on tv is Mario Batali. He knows so much about cooking from our region of Puglia. Soups and even frittata are so much about what you have in your pantry or refrigerator. Make them your own, use what you have and add your own touch.

Cooks note: Sometimes after a day or two, it always tastes better once it's refrigerated and heated up, you can add some spinach and turmeric or a touch of curry to give it a different twist, and adding broth or water to loosen the texture is always good.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My friend Larry made Meatballs and Sauce for the first time!

My good friend Larry is really enjoying cooking these days. He has changed his eating habits and lost quite a bit of weight. I keep telling him he can incorporate some of our Italian dishes into his regime because they are quite healthy, so he made some meatballs and tomato sauce for the first time. It looks pretty good!

Larry has started his own blog on healthy eating. Here is a link.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Grilled Pizza at a friend's house

These were really great!
We added bell peppers, mushrooms, artichokes, olives and fresh basil over the basic tomato mixture and drizzled some olive oil over them before serving.
You can add a lot of different toppings as long as they are cooked ahead of time and don't need to be eaten hot.

We did have one mishap when the grill was way too hot. Those 2 pizza doughs went up in smoke in no time flat.

Cooks note: You have to find your right temperature on your grill for success with this. I strongly suggest you practice once before doing for friends or have some extra dough handy.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Theresa's Tomato and Basil Sauce

This was one of the most popular sauce's at my Caffe in Fountain Valley and one I like to keep on hand most of the time. It is fast, easy and is delicious on it's own or you can add things to it or use it for lasagne, ravioli, etc.
Here is my recipe:
2 large cans of tomato
1 - 2 yellow onions sliced thin.
3 or so cloves of garlic chopped fine
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Fresh basil to taste ( I like lots of fresh basil)
Hot pepper seeds it you like it spicy

2 Cans of Crushed tomatoes ( the large ones) Or 1 can crushed and 1 can tomato sauce. ( whole tomato works well too, whatever you have in your pantry) I was in my garage this am and I have about 15 cans of tomatoes on hand.. not to mention loads of pasta (IT'S AN ITALIAN THING)

Fill the bottom of a medium to large saucepan with some good olive oil and heat it up.
Add the onions and garlic and saute till limp but not browned.
Good time to add hot peppers if you are inclined to do so.

Add your canned tomatoes.. 2 cans of whatever you like. Rinse the cans with some water and pour that in there too. It will reduce as it simmers.

I use approx 1/2 can of water per can of tomato.

Salt and pepper to taste

Let it come to a strong simmer and then lower the heat, add your fresh basil leaves and simmer on low for about 30 minutes or so. Season to taste. If you like basil, use lots of it, if not use a few leaves. You can always add more later if you can't taste it.

This sauce will keep in the fridge for a week. You can use it for chicken with mozzerella, put on your pasta, add steamed veggies and make pasta primavera, add olives, capers and hot peppers for a spicy dish of spaghetti.. the possibilities are endless. Drop some homemade meatballs in this sauce and it changes the taste completely!

And guess what? No preservatives added, you control the salt and for very little money you can feed your family something absolutely delicious!
Cooks Note: if you don't like to see pieces of onion or basil in your sauce, you can use an emersion blender to blend it once it's cooked!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Meatballs Frying in Olive Oil and Meatball Sandwich

My friend Linda got inspired to make some meatballs and made this delicious looking meatball Sandwich on a french roll with peppers and melted mozzerella. Doesn't that look delicious? Thanks for sharing that photo Linda!!!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Meatballs 101

Basic Meatball Recipe

1 lb. Turkey Meat (or substitute lean meat)
1 egg
2/3 cup of bread crumbs (plain or seasoned)
2-4 cloves of garlic chopped fine
¼ cup to 1/3 cup of chopped flat leaf parsley (Italian Parsley)
Salt and pepper to taste (2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper approx)
1/3 to ½ cup of grated Romano cheese

Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix but don’t overwork the mixture as it can make the meatballs less tender. I like to put a small amount of the mixture in the microwave for 1 minute or fry in olive oil to taste for seasonings at this point. Adjust if necessary.
cooks note: If it seems a bit dry, you can add a little milk to moisten the mixture.. but not too much. An alternative to the bread crumbs is just some sliced bread soaked in milk and then squeezed to get the excess milk out. Crumble into mixture in place of dried bread crumbs.

I like to scoop out with an ice cream scoop to keep them of equal size and then round them out in my hands. Makes about 15 or so.

You can either fry in a skillet with olive oil till browned or cook on a parchment lined cookie sheet for approx 30 minutes at 375 degrees till browned. Then drop them into the sauce so they absorb the wonderful tomato flavor. Don’t stir too much as the meatballs could break apart. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes or so until they are done.

NOTE: This is a basic recipe. You can add lots of different things to this like hot pepper seeds, different meat combination, etc.

It's easy to double or triple this recipe for a crowd. You can keep the meatballs in cooked form (before adding them into the sauce) in the freezer if you want to prepare extra and have for another time.

Try them and you will never eat store bought meatballs again. They are just so much better made with love at home.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"Arancini" Rice Balls

Arancini translates to "little oranges" but these wonderful treats have nothing to do with oranges. They are made out of rice. One of our cousins grandmother used to make them for the holidays. She always said they were very hard to make and showed us how to do them once. I never tried to make them till I saw David Rocco on the Cooking Channel do them. He uses his favorite Risotto recipe, and then chills it overnight. That was way easier than the way I was taught.

To make the rice balls, or Arancini...
Scoop out a nice ball of the chilled rice and form roll into a nice round shape about the size of a small Valencia orange.
Do this with all your rice and put on a plate covered with wax paper. Rice should be cold. You can prepare to this point and refrigerate if you want to serve them hot!

Then mix a couple of eggs with a spoon of water and beat it with a fork. Keep this in a bowl.

Get some plain bread crumbs and season with salt and pepper. Have them in a shallow bowl. Now dip the balls one by one into the egg wash and then roll in bread crumbs. Have them all ready to fry.

Heat up your olive oil till frying temperature. Gently fry the rice balls and turn them until they are browned all around. Let them rest on paper towels and sprinkle with salt just as them come out of the frying pan.

You are in for a treat! If you don't have a favorite risotto recipe. Just look for one. I used tomatoes and ground sausage in these, with some tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese as well as romano cheese. Risotto can be made from just about anything you have in the fridge, so get creative. Josaphine La Barbera, our cousins grandma always put a meat surprise in the middle of her rice ball. Her rice was more plain and then you would get this spicy meat filling in the middle. It was quite delicious. David Rocco put some mozzarella in the middle of his, so when you ate it warm, the cheese would ooze out of it. Here are some photos of mine in the process.
I love making risotto and can't wait to try some different versions of these!
Cooks note: These are traditionally deep fried to keep their wonderful round shape but since I don't fry that often, I just did them in a frying pan to save on oil.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Spaghetti with Fresh Raw Tomatoes ( Super Easy)

Celebrate the season with this super easy recipe!

Get some of the best tomatoes you can find, homegrown or some good organic heirlooms are wonderful. Get a few different tomatoes going on in there to add some color and flavor variety.

Cut them up in various sizes and put in a bowl with some sea salt, grated clove of garlic, a bit of dried oregano, some fresh basil leaves and some extra virgin olive oil. Let sit and the juices will come out of the tomatoes making a delicous sauce. Adjust to taste with more salt, pepper and hot pepper seeds if you like.

Cook up some of your favorite spaghetti or angel hair. I used whole wheat angel hair in mine, and cook al dente.

Toss into the tomato mixture and you have dinner! Add cheese if you like but it's so good just like this. Now you don't have an excuse not to cook on a hot day because this is a no brainer! Some feta cheese would be good on this or a shaving of pecorino.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A New Pizza Dough Recipe

This was inspired by Jamie Oliver. He uses some semolina in his dough along with a bread flour. It has a very nice taste and worth trying!

His recipe was in grams so I tried it like this.

2 cups bread flour
1 cup semolina flour
2 T. Olive Oil
1 T salt
1 cup warm water
1.5 tsp of yeast or 1 packet
pinch of sugar or honey

Add yeast to warm water and add sugar or honey. Wait till it starts to bubble and add in the 2 flours, salt and olive oil. Mix till it goes together and then knead for a few minutes. Dough is a very nice yellow color because of the semolina. Let it rest in an oiled or sprayed bowl covered with a towel for at least 45 minutes and then you can make pizza!

If you want to see the video demo, refer to our "How to make Pizza Dough Video on the blog"

Grilled Pizza! My new summer favorite

I have seen this done so many times and decided to try it this year. It couldn't be easier. You do need to have all your ingredients at the grill because it goes super fast. So far I have done it like this:

Basic Pizza Dough recipe ( I will post a new variation with bread flour and semolina that was inspired by Jamie Oliver)

Make sure to turn up your grill to high to preheat.

Cut dough in half if using 3 cups of flour for your recipe and roll it out on a board or peel.

Rub some olive oil on the top of the crust or spray with Pam.

Before you roll the dough or while it's sitting on the board cut up some really good tomatoes and toss with fresh basil and some extra good virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Let them sit and the flavors will blend.

Have your cheese out of the fridge for about an hour if possible so it's not super cold when it hits the pizza. I use slices of provolone or mozzerella.. but you could be creative here. It is not a very cheesy pizza so use less cheese than normal.

I sliced some onions really thin and chopped up a clove or 2 of garlic really fine as well. Then I quickly saute them in a pan with a little oil or on a grill over the bbq till they get a bit soft.

You can also fry some bell peppers, mushrooms, and have some marinated artichokes, black or green olives.. use your imagination here.

Now get ready!

Lower your grill to medium to medium high heat. Put your pizza olive oil side down on the grill and leave it alone for at least a few minutes. Check the underside and continue to cook till you see some nice grill marks and it feels crispy underneath.
cooks note: This can be the tricky part. KNOW your grill. A too hot grill will burn the dough before it's cooked.. just experience this first hand last night at a friends house. It should be med to med-high..
Try this alone before you invite friends over just so you can make adjustments.

Turn it and immediately place your cheese on top. Close the grill lid for a few minutes. Then add your onion and garlic and cook a bit longer ( 1 to 2 minutes) and then top with your tomato mixture. You can also add peppers, olives or whatever else you want to put on. ( All ingredients must be pre-cooked as there is no time on the grill ) IT GOES FAST!

Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on top before serving.

Get it off the grill and add some hot pepper seeds if you like them and start eating!

Try it and you will see how easy it is and no hot oven in the kitchen!

Friday, April 30, 2010

PIzza 911 Call

My friend Michelle was so inspired by our video that she tried to make pizza 2 times on her own. Both times she was disappointed that her pizza was soggy, and not well cooked. So, she invited a few friends and the other night I demonstrated how to do it. The video below is from when Mike aka Spike wanted to make a pizza for the kids .. it is pretty hilarious after a few glasses of wine and watching me make a few.. he wanted to do it on his own.

We determined that Michelle was putting too much sauce on her pizza and the oven wasn't hot enough. Here are a few pics of what we did that evening and she is now ready to try it again! It takes a little practice but anyone can do it!

Theresa helps some friends to make a pie

Monday, April 26, 2010

Making Pizza with kids!

My good friend Campbell asked if I would help her and her friends make pizza for her birthday slumber party. Here are a few pics. They had a great time building their own pies!