Sunday, November 3, 2013

My sister Diana and I ventured out to an Apple Festival along with my two daughters and three granddaughters. It said they had apple pie, apple butter, apple turnovers and apple zeppoles. WHAT?  Apple Zeppoles!?!  We all couldn't wait to try them!!   After sitting in the car for 2 1/2 hours in bumper to bumper traffic we got to the festival only to find out there was no parking.  So we turned around, went to the closest town, took the kids to the children's museum and had lunch.  But we were all so bummed that we weren't able to taste the apple zeppoles.  Of course, not to disappoint, the next day I made them.  They are lighter and fluffier than regular zeppoles which makes it easy to pop several in your mouth with worrying that you blew your diet (or so I told myself!).  So, we didn't get to go the apple festival....I brought the apple festival to us!!!


I large apple, peeled and grated
1/4 c sugar
1 stick butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c water
1 c flour
4 eggs
confectioners' sugar and cinnamon

In a medium saucepan  combine the butter, salt, sugar, and water over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Take pan off the heat and stir in the flour. Return the pan to medium heat and stir continuously until mixture forms a ball, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the flour mixture to a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer on low speed, add eggs, one at a time, incorporating each egg completely before adding the next. Beat until smooth. Add the grated apple and stir to combine. 
Combine the  confectioners' sugar, and cinnamon in a
medium bowl. 
Meanwhile, pour enough oil into a medium pot  to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat.
Carefully drop about a rounded tablespoon of the dough into the hot  oil. Turn the zeppole once or twice, and cook until golden and puffed up, about 4 minutes. Fry the zeppole in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan. Drain  on paper towels. Transfer the zeppole to a serving dish and roll the zeppole in the sugar mixture.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Piss what?!

I was at the seafood counter in the grocery store recently checking out the clams. They had a good supply of little necks and cherry stones, so I asked the man behind he counter, “Do you have piss clams?”

He looked puzzled, so I repeated. “Piss clams. Do you have piss clams?”

“Piss what?” he asked.

Before I had a chance to repeat myself again, the small, dark-haired Italian woman standing next to me who was patiently reading the sales circular while she waited her turn, blurted out, “Piss clams! Piss clams!” as she waved her hand around as if that would make him understand. She glanced at me and said, “I know what you want. The clams with the tail hanging out.”

I shook my head in affirmation.

“Oh you mean steamers,” the man said proudly, and headed to the back room where, for some unknown reason, the clams in question are kept out of the public eye.

For me, these funky-looking clams conjure up memories of nights at the Jersey shore, sifting through the bucket to find the biggest ones before anyone else grabbed them. Then came the fun part. Oh so carefully peeling the brown, thin skin off the tail, then swirling the clam in the hot broth to clean it, then a dip (or two) in the melted butter, and finally one big gulp down the hatch.

I remember how my father would be totally skeeved when I ate the tail. “You’re not supposed to eat that,” he’d say and wrinkle his face. “It’s just there so you can hold it to dunk.”  (This from a man who dunked bologna sandwiches in his coffee, but that’s a whole other story.)

Luke and my dad crabbing at the Jersey shore. 
My mother, as usual, debated. “Don’t listen to your father. You can eat the tail.”  (This from a woman who made us raw ground beef sandwiches for lunch. Again, a whole other story.)

And this was the conversation that took place every year when we had our first bucket of the summer.

I left the grocery store with my piss clams in hand and set them out with dinner that night.  My son Luke and I dug in. He held the tail tightly between his pointer finger and thumb, dunked the clam first in the broth, then in the butter, and then bit the clam off the tail. I peeled, dunked, dunked and popped it in my mouth like an aspirin.

He stared at me silently for a second and then said with disgust, “That’s just gross. You’re not supposed to eat the tail.”

I just smiled. 


Monday, February 11, 2013

Mini Spinach Frittatas

"I’m always trying to find new ways to ‘trick’ my girls into trying new things, so I decided to use my muffin pan to make mini frittatas.  Apparently good things do come in small packages!" —Jennifer

What you need:

2 large eggs
1 small container of egg whites
½ bag fresh spinach
½ cup feta cheese
½ sweet onion, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
In a large bowl whisk the eggs and enough milk to make fluffy (as if you were making scrambled eggs).
Add the spinach, cheese and onion.
Spoon the mixture into a muffin pan.
Cook until slightly brown on top.
Flip the pan to remove the frittatas and serve.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Kidney Stew

"For as long as I can remember, my mother and grandmother always enjoyed a good bowl of kidney stew. They don't have it often, but when they get a hankering, or "the woolies" as my mother would say, they have to have it! Walking into my mother's house last night and seeing the two of them sitting at the table enjoying their stew, for me was like a looking at a Norman Rockwell scene. Then it dawned on me that it was my turn to post a recipe and I had nothing. Perfect! Kidney stew it is. So I grabbed a pen and paper and told the two of them to start taking. In addition to the recipe, I heard some interesting stories. 

Turns out my grandmother's mother would go to the farm, squeeze all the chickens to find the plumpest, and then take the headless victim home in a bag for my grandmother to pluck away the feathers. 'She cooked. every part of the chicken,' my grandmother explained. 'She even made lung stew.' OK, gross. But wait; it gets better. 'Then she would peel the membrane from the brain, cut it up, and bread the pieces and fry them up. They were delicious; I loved them.' Hmmm.  

My mother recalled eating blackbirds as a child and how, when she was 5, she ruined Easter for everyone when she made a commotion after discovering that her favorite pet duck, Donald, was dinner. Needless to say it was an interesting night. I may not like kidney stew, but sure do love the memories and stories that go with it." —Diana 

You'll Need: 
2 veal kidneys (you can use pork or beef if you prefer)

1 medium onion, red or yellow, sliced

1/2 cup white vinegar 

1 tbsp. salt

1 can vegetable broth (or equivalent amount of water)

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

3 bay leaves 

The kidneys need to be cured before cooking. Put them in a pot or bowl and cover with water. Add the white vinegar and salt. Let soak for at least 2 hours. 

When done soaking, drain and rinse the kidneys with cold water. 

Heat a large skillet coated with oil and sauté the onion slices until golden. Add the kidneys, black pepper, red wine vinegar and bay leaves. Mix gently then add the vegetable broth or water. 

Cover and cook on medium heat for about one hour. When done, add flour to thicken to desired consistency. 

Serve over rice or spaghetti. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Salad and Subs a la Rita

"My mom Rita has been making this salad for as long as I can remember. It's a version of her antipasta platter, but as a salad. You can serve it with chips or crusty bread, which I recommend with everything,or it's great as an entree with grilled chicken or as a side with burgers, pasta or fish. We love it it with my mom's Italian subs—a perfect combination for Super Bowl Sunday. Game on! —Jill

You'll need:
1/2 lb. thick-cut Genoa salami, cut into cubes
1/2 lb. block Swiss cheese, cut into cubes
1 can pitted black olives
1 jar pimento-stuffed olives
1 medium red onion, diced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp. oregano
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (about a half a lemon)
4 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. sugar

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Cover, shake to mix well, and place in fridge overnight. If you are in a pinch for time, you don't have to let it sit overnight, but it always tastes better when you do. 

Serve alongside Rita's Italian subs...

You'll need: 
One large ciabatta bread
Italian boiled ham, sliced
Fresh mozzarella, long slices
Roasted red peppers, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
Olive oil
Red wine vinegar

Slice bread and layer with ham, mozzarella, peppers, and onion. Drizzle with olive oil, red wine vinegar and sprinkle with oregano. Serves four. 

Go team! 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Salmon and Shrimp Fried Rice

"I decided to break from tradition and not cook my usual Italian, Sunday pasta meal. Instead, this particular Sunday screamed fried rice. To keep it healthier, I used low-sodium soy sauce, salmon and daughters' favorites. Enjoy. I know my family did!" ~Jennifer

What you’ll need:
2 eggs
½ pound salmon, skinned and cubed
½ pound shrimp, cleaned and deveined.
1 1/2 cups white rice
Snap peas
Baby carrots
Bushel of scallions
Low-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Follow cooking instructions for white rice. 
In a separate pot, bring water to a rolling boil for vegetables.
Rough cut the baby carrots and snap peas and add to boiling water.  Cook until tender.
Heat wok and place a tablespoon of sesame oil and the tablespoon of vegetable oil to coat the bottom.
Place salmon in the wok.
Rough cut the scallions and add to the salmon.
Add the boiled carrots and snap peas.
Add the eggs, let cook until whites are visible (like a fried egg) and begin breaking up.
Add tablespoon of sesame oil and throw in the shrimp. Cook until pink.
Finally, add the white rice and begin adding soy sauce to taste.
Add more scallions for garnish, grab your chop sticks and dig in! 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Deep Fried Chicken Wings

Every Christmas Eve I make fried calamari. I didn’t have a deep fryer so I would use a deep pot, heat the oil until I thought it was hot enough, then used my spider to fry the calamari.  This year got myself a new toy! I went high tech and bought myself a deep fryer. It has a temperature gauge that I can set and a timer. Oh yes, I was very excited! This year's Christmas Eve calamari was better than ever. 

But I couldn't just pack away the fryer until next year. Oh no. Picture it: Wildcard Sunday. My house has two Washington Redskin fans. So when the Redskins were playing the Seahawks and my son told me he had a couple of guys coming over to watch the game, it was the perfect opportunity to make chicken wings. 

Unfortunately the “pig pen” (Redskins fans will know what that is) was unhappy with the outcome of the game, but everyone was happy with the wings! Lisa

You'll need:
Vegetable oil (as per your deep fryer)
1 large package chicken wing sections, completely defrosted
2 cups buttermilk
3 ½ cups flour
2/3 cups cayenne pepper

Heat the oil to 375 degrees.

Soak the defrosted chicken in the buttermilk for about 1 hour.

Mix the flour, cayenne pepper and salt

Coat the chicken completely with four mixture.

Cook chicken in batches of 6-7 pieces (depending on the size of your fryer) for 10-13 minutes or until the coating is deep golden brown. 

I love my new toy!