Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Sunday supper Posted by Picasa

stuffed brasciole Posted by Picasa

roasted eggplant, zucchini and red peppers Posted by Picasa


Sunday Supper--brasciole and roasted vegetables

Ciao amici!

I had guests Sunday evening and grabbed what I had on hand to satisfy our hunger. Later in the evening, we watched fireworks on the rooftop as Boston celebrated its 375th birthday.

Shown above is a stuffed brasciole (pronounced brah ZHEEO lay). Traditionally made with flank steak, brasciole in my family was always made using a meatball recipe and then stuffed with all manner of goodies: salami, cheese, hardboiled eggs, raisins, pinenuts, spinach, roasted peppers, breadcrumbs. I chose to stuff this one with mortadella, provolone cheese, fresh basil leaves and two hardboiled eggs.

Brasciole can be made ahead of time and then served at room temperature. This will allow you to make nice even slices.

1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
1 jumbo egg
1/2 cup grated parmesean cheese
1 cup cubed stale good quality bread, soaked in milk
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 lb. pancetta (Italian bacon) or American bacon

Place ground beef and pork in large bowl. Add egg. Squeeze excess milk from the soaked bread and crumble bread into meat and egg. Add grated cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. Wash hands thoroughly and then plunge them into the meat and mix until well amalgamated. Do not over mix.

Scrape meat mixture onto a large wooden board and pat into a rectangle, about 1/2 thick. You may then use your imagination for stuffing the brasciole. I used five thin slices of mortadella and provolone, five or six fresh basil leaves, and two hardboiled eggs. Carefully roll up, from the shorter side, the meat and form into a loaf, smoothing over any holes so the stuffing doesn't melt out during the baking.

Place in a heavy casserole dish that does not crowd the loaf. Place slices of pancetts/bacon over the top of the brasciole.

Cook in 350 degree over for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Take out and let cool. Slice when completely cool.

Serve with your own tomatoe sauce.

I also served this with roasted vegetables. Eggplant, roasted red peppers and zucchini, sprinkled with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and minced assorted herbs.

Also seen, steamed asparagas with olive oil, salt and pepper, and a sprinkling of parmesean cheese.

This was simple, economical and delicious. I started with penne and homemade tomato sauce made with fresh roma tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and fresh basil.


Friday, September 09, 2005


A Tribute to New Orleans: THE MUFFULETTA

Isabella has been unable to think of the luxury of cooking and eating in her dry, comfortable home while thousands of her fellow countrymen are suffering and dying.

As I watch this disaster unfold, I remember a wonderful trip to New Orleans two years ago, (also to Biloxi, and Mobile.) And as the sadness and poignancy of this awful time engulfs her each day, Isabella wants to remember the special place that is New Orleans and the many things that make it special.

While in New Orleans I discovered a fantastic sandwich, the muffuletta, which originated in NOLA by Italians. I’ve never found this sandwich in any other American city, and I wonder why.

French, Spanish, African and Creole are not the only cultural and culinary heritage of New Orleans, nor is the “po-boy” the only sandwich that is famous in this sultry, jazzy town. The muffuletta is as New Orleansian as the po-boy, and there’s nothing Creole about it. It is pure Italian, and pure Sicilian if you want to be specific.

New Orleans, in its population and its cuisine, owes much to Italy and especially Sicily; Italians have been coming to the Crescent City since the 1880s. It wasn't always easy for them -- one of the worst lynchings in American history was a massacre perpetrated upon a group of Italians in New Orleans in 1891.

The Italians soon settled in comfortably into New Orleans culture, and we are the richer for it. Their contribution to local culture and cuisine has been immeasurable; in fact, you frequently see "Creole-Italian" referred to as one of the local sub-cuisines.

According to legend, the muffuletta sandwich was invented by Signore Lupo Salvadore, who opened the now-famous little Italian market called Central Grocery on Decatur Street in the French Quarter in 1906 and created the muffuletta sandwich, named for a favored customer (although I had also heard that the sandwich was named for the baker of the round Italian bread on which the sandwich is served).

You'll hear lots of New Orleanians pronounce the sandwich "muff-uh-LOT-uh", but I understand that the proprietors of Central Grocery pronounce it "moo-foo-LET-ta". The common abbreviation is "muff"; e.g., "I'll take me a half a muff."

The sandwich consists of the round loaf of crusty Italian bread, split and filled with layers of sliced Provolone cheese, Genoa salami, capicola ham, and mortadella, topped with olive salad: a chopped mixture of green, unstuffed olives, pimientos, celery, garlic, cocktail onions, capers, oregano, parsley, olive oil, red-wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

The sandwich is layered with the meats, cheese and olive salad, then wrapped tightly with waxed paper. People who’ve been eating this sandwich for years advise that you let it stand for an hour or more so that the flavors of the filling blend and improve. It is an unforgettable sandwich. And one sandwich can easily feed two or three people.

Isabella plans to make them to honor the beautiful, tragic city of New Orleans. She suggests you all do the same while listening to Sweet Emma sing "Just a Closer Walk With Thee."

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