April 25, 2010


                   MEAT BALLS
You don't have to be Italian to love one of the greatest creations in food.   My Grandpa Ernie made the best Meat Balls on Earth.  He would use lots of fresh Garlic right out of his own garden and large uncooked pieces of Onion.  This recipe is based on his method.  Meat Balls are almost necessary when you eat Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce.  Steaming hot, tender and full of spice and flavor, these Meat Balls will bring some vegetarians back to eating meat.  And who can resist the Meat Ball Sandwich!  Use these delicious Meat Balls with my Tomato Sauce and you will be Cooking The Amazing.

         Grandpa Ernie

Here is the recipe.

1 lb.  Ground Chuck Beef
1/2  lb.  Ground Italian Sausage
3  Eggs, large
1/4 c  Whole Milk
1  Yellow Onion, medium, diced
4  Garlic Cloves, crushed fine
1 1/2 c  Sour Dough Bread Crumbs, fresh
1 c  Parmesan Cheese, grated
1 t  Sea Salt
1 t  Pepper, fresh ground
2 t  Oregano, dried
4 T  Olive Oil (for frying)

Makes about 20-25 Meat Balls.

1.  These Meat Balls can be pan fried in Olive Oil or baked at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes on a foil lined cookie sheet.

2.  If baking, preheat your oven 350 degrees.

3.  In a large bowl lightly whisk the Eggs with the Milk.

4.  Add the Ground Meats and all the other ingredients at once.  To make Sour Dough Bread Crumbs simply grate fresh bread on a box grater or use a food processorIf you don't have a food processor or box grater, remove the crust and tear into very small pieces by hand.

5.  Using your hands, mix well, but do not over work it.  It will toughen the Meat Balls.  Be gentle.

6.  Roll the mixture into 2 inch round balls using your hands being careful not to compact too tightly.

7.  Line a cookie sheet with foil if baking or put a large pan on medium-high heat with 4 T Olive Oil in the pan.   Keep the Meat Balls from touching so they will brown and not steam.  You will need to do this in two batches. 

8.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or saute on all sides until browned and the inside is done then drain off excess oil.  The Meat Balls should be very browned on the outside.  This will help them stand up to simmering in Sauce and stay intact for 2 hours.

9.  To make very tender Meat Balls add them to Tomato Sauce and simmer on the stove top on low heat for 2 hours mostly undisturbed so the Meat Balls don't break apart. Stir gently every 20 mins.

TIP:  Use fresh Bread Crumbs that you grate yourself.  Any kind of fresh white bread will work if you don't have Sour Dough Bread.  Store bought bread crumbs in a can are the last thing you want to use if you are going to the trouble of making Meat Balls by hand.  They will dry them out and make them rubbery.

                                                     COPYRIGHT (c) 2010


                TOMATO  SAUCE

If you have a sweet Italian Grandma that has an old family recipe for Tomato Sauce then skip this recipe and make one of my Cake recipes instead.  Grandma Nonna wouldn't be happy if you messed with family tradition.  If you are like the rest of us that think of Ragu as your Italian Granny then this recipe is for you.  Tomato Sauce is a basic that is very easy to make and one that can be adapted to your specific tastes.  If you love garlic, add more.  Don't like garlic, leave it out.  Love lots of Mushrooms, add as much as you like.  It's your Tomato Sauce and when you make it your own, you are Cooking The Amazing.

Here is the recipe.

3 T  Olive Oil
4 T  Butter
1 Medium Yellow Onion, diced fine
6 Large Cloves of Garlic, finely minced
3 T  Dried Oregano
1 t   Dried Thyme
1/2 t  Fennel Seeds
2  cans of crushed Tomatoes, 28 oz. each
2 1/2 t   Sea Salt
2 t   Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 1/2 c   Grated Parmesan Cheese
15  Fresh Basil Leaves

Optional: 1 t  Hot Pepper Flakes, 1 c  Sauteed Mushrooms, 3 T Capers, 1/2 c Kalamata Olives, chopped,  1 c chopped  Sauteed Red Bell Pepper,
 Meat Balls, or Cooked Ground Chuck or Italian Sausage.

1.  In a large pot place the Olive Oil and Butter over medium heat.  Once hot, add the chopped onions and saute for 6-8 minutes until the Onions are soft and translucent then add the garlic and all the dried herbs and Fennel Seeds.   Saute for 2 minutes.

2.  The best canned Tomatoes are San Marzano Italian Tomatoes.  They taste amazing but they cost a lot and are hard to find.  (Whole Foods stocks them.) I use them often but I also use a good quality imported Italian canned Tomato that I can get at most markets and the taste is very good.   Use crushed canned Tomatoes or whole ones that you crush yourself in the pan.  Crushed is just a lot easier.  Add the 2 cans of Crushed Tomatoes and stir well.  Watch for splattering!

3.  Add the Salt and Pepper and bring to a simmer.  Cover the pot part way to prevent sauce from flying all over your kitchen.

4.  Simmer for 40 mins on low heat then add the Parmesan Cheese and stir in well then simmer for 10 mins more.

5.  Add any Options at this stage during the 10 minute simmer above. 

6.  Add the fresh Basil just before serving.  Tear the Basil into pieces so it will not bruise.  Taste for seasoning and correct Salt and Pepper if needed at this stage then serve.

7.  If you are adding  Meat Balls, Italian Sausage or Ground Chuck, allow it to simmer in the sauce partially covered for 2 hours before adding the basil at the last minute before serving.

TIP: Allow the Meat Balls to simmer undisturbed to prevent breaking them up.  This long simmer will make them very tender and flavorful.  Click  HERE  for the recipe.

                                    COPYRIGHT  (c) 2010

April 23, 2010


Summer is just around the corner and so are family picnics and cookouts where side dishes like Potato Salad are expected on the table next to the Watermelon.  There are a million and one Potato Salad recipes and many are good but some are just boring Potatoes mixed with globs of Mayonnaise.   My Potato Salad recipe is full of flavor and will out shine the grilled Hamburgers and Hot Dogs because you are Cooking The Amazing.

Here is the recipe.

2 1/2 lbs.  Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 T   Sea Salt for cooking Potatoes
8  Eggs, large, boiled
2  Stalks Celery, diced
3  Green Onions, diced, including green parts
1/2 c  Red Onion, diced
4 T  Sweet Pickles, diced
3/4 c  Mayonnaise
1 1/2 t  Yellow Mustard, prepared
1/2 c  Sour Cream
1 T  Sweet Pickle Juice
2 T  Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 T  Vinegar (White or Apple Cider)
1 1/2 t  Sea Salt
1 1/2 t  Pepper, fresh ground black
1/4 t  Celery Seed
1/2 t  Thyme, dried or fresh
Option:  2 T Capers, Bacon crumbles

1.  Peel and dice Potatoes into 1 inch chunks.

2.  Bring to a boil a large pot of water with 1 T of Salt then add the Potatoes, cover with a lid and reduce to a simmer for 15-18 mins until just tender.  Don't over cook to prevent watery Potato Salad.

3. While the Potatoes simmer, bring a medium pot of cold water with 8 large Eggs in it to a rolling boil and allow to boil for 3 minutes.  Then cover the pot with a lid and remove from the heat.  Allow to sit undisturbed for 15 minutes.

4.  Dice small (all about the same size) the Celery, Green Onions, Red Onion, Sweet Pickles and place aside.  Option:  Add 2 T of drained Capers.

5.  In a large bowl mix well the Olive Oil and Vinegar and Mustard until well mixed. 

6.  Add the Mayonnaise,  Sour Cream, Sweet Pickle Juice, 1 1/4 t of Sea Salt, Pepper, Celery Seed, Thyme and mix well.

6.  Drain the Potatoes well.  Allow to sit in a strainer for 5 minutes while you peel the eggs. 

7.  Peel the Eggs and remove the yolks from 4 of the Eggs.  Mash the 4 yolks into a paste with a fork and add to the Mayonnaise, Vinegar and Oil and Mustard mixture, mixing in well.

8.  Add the still hot Potatoes to the Mayonnaise mixture and fold gently avoiding breaking up the Potatoes, covering each Potato.

9.  Chop the 4 left over Egg Whites and add to the Potatoes.  Then add all the diced Onions and Celery mixture and fold into the Potatoes. 

10.  Taste and adjust if needed for Salt and Pepper.

11.  Slice the 4 remaining Eggs and layer over the top to garnish and cover with plastic wrap placed touching the top of the Potato Salad and refrigerate at least 4 hours.  Over night is best.

12.  If you are adding cooked crumbled Bacon, add it just before serving to the top.  It will be mushy and wet if you add it while being refrigerated.

13.  Garnish with Celery leaves on top which are full of flavor as an option.

                                  COPYRIGHT (c) 2010