Friday, December 31, 2010

Play Ball

Meatball pure and simple
Italian food, South Philadelphia style is my kind of soul food, as I grew up in and around Philly and its Western suburbs.  When I was a kid, dinners in a "down town" Italian restaurant meant only one thing and everyone knew it;  South Philadelphia.  Waitresses with big hair who called you "hon",  who had very little patience but a big sense of humor were the norm and you could always count on the bread and the meatballs.  The bread was always impeccably fresh, crusty, studded with sesame seeds and most likely from the bakery next door. The meatballs were over sized, tender, garlicky, and swimming in gravy (the South Philly term for red sauce).
Sundays in our house usually involved a huge pot of sauce with my mom's amazing South Philly style meatballs, sausage, and often falling off the bone pork which had been simmered for hours in the pot.  Part of what makes this pot of meat and sauce so delicious is that the meatballs are cooked entirely in the sauce which allows all of the flavors to blend together and become one.  None of the the meat jus is lost by pre browning the balls.
I managed to inherit my mother's technique for making these meatballs (thanks for the meatball nirvana, mom).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Free Form Fabulous (tart)

Swiss Chard, Shitake, Parmesan Galette

News flash:  I've never been one to follow the rules.  This does not mean that I can't, it simply means that I don't like imagine my delight in creating the Galette!  A free form tart is perfect for those who don't especially like to color within the lines.  There are no rules, yay! Round, square, oblong rectangular, you name it, now you're speaking my language.  The topping varieties are only limited by your imagination and desire (double happiness) and they are relatively quick to make, the pastry requires 1 hour of resting time in the fridge which can be done while you make the topping and allowing it to cool (or make your pastry earlier in the day or even have it at the ready in your freezer).  On this day, I found beautiful  Swiss Chard and Shitake mushrooms at the market.  Swiss Chard is a seriously underrated green, in my opinion (and I know Greens).  It is very mildly flavored which allows it to marry freely to whatever it is paired with.  I like the earthy flavors of the greens and mushrooms and they are the perfect vehicle for garlic and cheese.  Those of you who know me, will not be surprised that I also relied on the very classic Italian pairing of raisins and  pine nuts in a savory preparation.  So, Swiss Chard, garlic, Shitake, Parmesan Cheese (use the best quality Reggiano as it makes the difference and grate it by hand), raisins and pine nuts are all featured on a bed of farmers cheese.   I discovered farmers cheese recently at my market and I am loving the tangy, tart dryer texture of this Ricotta/cottage sort of cheese.  Wow, what a wonderful combination on my tart du jour.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I'm On A Roll

Rolled Stuffed Breast of Turkey

I have a secret.  I don't really like turkey.  I know, it's seriously unpatriotic and I apologize, but I can not tell a lie.  Give me stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, vegetables, Parker house rolls, but hold the turkey.  That was my old tune, but...
Thanksgiving this year would be different, I was determined.  I wanted to be super organized (truly different), and prepared (not so different).  I wanted to do as much as possible ahead of time, so that I could really enjoy the experience with 18 of my closest family members + friends (different).  The thought of roasting a huge bird for the entire day, only to end up with the same old, same old, seemed, well, old.
In with the new!  I think I may be a convert.  Moist, tender, juicy and delicious turkey IS possible and guess what? I liked it! I liked it that night, the next morning and several days later.  I'm certain that you will too.  Here's the deal: