RITA’S RISOTTO BALLS

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
3 cup + 3 ounces water

3 egg yolks
1/ 2 cup grated Romano cheese
1 tablespoon chopped Parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Italian bread crumbs
Canola oil

1. Melt the butter and olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add risotto and cook a few minutes. Add some of the water just to cover the risotto and simmer. Continue sly stir with a wooden spoon. As the risotto thickens, add more of the water at about 1 cup at a time, stirring frequently. Wait until each addition of water is almost completely absorbed before adding the next. When the rice has cooked for 15 minutes or more and most of the liquid has been incorporated, continue to cook a few more minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Do not overcook. When done, remove rice from the stove and scoop into a bowl.
2. Cool the risotto completely, not warm, cool (wait a few hours). Option – cook risotto and store in refrigerator overnight, before continuing recipe.
3. Take the cooled risotto and stir in the Parmesan cheese, parsley, egg yolks, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly with a spoon. Use your hands when ready to roll the risotto balls. Make them 1 to 1 1/ 2 inch round. The risotto will be sticky. Then roll the balls into the Italian bread crumbs. Place the risotto ball on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. This recipe makes 30 to 36 balls, depending on the size.
Place cookie sheet of balls into refrigerator for another hour.
4. When you are ready to fry, heat canola oil in a pot or deep fryer. Fry 6 to 8 balls at a time in the fryer basket for 3 to 4 minutes. Check balls, they should be a golden brown color. Drain the balls on paper towels. Serve immediately while still warm. Option – serve homemade tomato sauce on the side for dipping.
5. ENJOY – You say Rice, I say Risotto, either way it tastes Buona!

Risotto Balls? I have had risotto and I have had rice balls, but risotto balls? My reaction exactly, until I tasted Rita’s last Christmas. I’ll never forget the lovely experience of my very first risotto ball.

Maria, my good friend for many years, had her mom staying with her over the holidays. I stopped by for an impromptu visit to say hello and spread some Christmas cheer with a platter of my homemade cookies. Of course, within minutes, I too was offered some of their cookies, but I declined since I was just about cookied out. However, when I was offered what appeared to be a rice ball, I was intrigued and went for it. I thought to myself, wait a minute – hold the show. I didn’t see the familiar sight of meat or peas in this small and delicate ball. The appeal was instantaneous, and I scarfed it down. I knew then that I had to make them myself!

Maria’s mom, Rita, has been making these risotto balls for years, just as long as her own mother, Gelsomina, had before her. Generational recipes handed down from mothers to daughters are my favorite kind of recipes. When the Christmas holidays ended and a new year began, I kept thinking about those risotto balls. Maria, I begged, “Can you get me your mom’s risotto ball recipe?” Finally, I got the call I’d been hoping for. It was Rita calling from her home in Florida, “Maria told me you want my risotto ball recipe.” When I asked her what brand of risotto she used, her response was, “I don’t know what it is, but they sell it in Florida.” Ya gotta love it!

After making the risotto balls, and receiving my family’s praise, I thought to myself – honestly, they’re good, but Rita’s are better. I believe this is one of those dishes that will get better over time. In fact, I’m pretty sure that after another 10 or 20 years, just maybe, my risotto balls will be just as good as Rita’s!

Rochelle Coffee Shop Breakfast Review

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I live in New Rochelle and I read my local New Rochelle paper, The City Review faithfully. I want to know what is happening in my hometown.

In the summer there was an article in The City Review written about a new diner and coffee shop that opened. The picture of the owners, Taso, Helen and Spiros Michialis, struck me as nice friendly people. As I read the article, I paid attention to the fact that they are open seven days a week early in the morning, and serve breakfast. We all know, Mela and I love to meet for breakfast. We now had a new place to check out.

On a recent Thursday morning, Mela and I pulled right into a parking spot in front of the Rochelle Coffee Shop inside the Quaker Ridge Shopping Center, located right near the Post Office. Immediately upon entering the coffee shop, we noticed its cozy, retro diner décor. Almost all of the stools at the counter were taken with what seemed to be regular customers, who were relaxed and chatting away. Mela and I took a seat at one of the many booths.

We were off to a great start with the coffee, which was tasty and smooth. Later on I asked Helen about the coffee and she told us that her husband and she herself tasted a lot of coffees before deciding on which one to serve. After all coffee is part of their name, so it better be good and it was.

The breakfast menu had a large selection to choose from. Mela and I chose a waffle and a spinach mozzarella egg white omelet with home fries and 7 grain toast to share. Everything was delicious. But in our haste to enjoy breakfast, I forgot to take a photo of the dishes.

My second trip to the Rochelle Coffee Shop was with my friend, Vivian. We shared the Challah French Toast and a western omelet with home fries and 7 grain toast. Truthfully, the coffee tasted even better the second time around if that is even possible. Everything was cooked to our liking. You just have to ask and your home fries can be made crispier. There is real butter pats but no real maple syrup. Surprisingly the syrup they do use is not too sweet, as some commercial syrups can be. Since my first visit to Rochelle Coffee Shop, it has become my go to place. Helen is always friendly, gracious and easy to talk to, which makes it an extra special treat to patron there.

Mela and my breakfast was $13.80, without tip, which I feel is very reasonable. Apparently, there is a special starting at 6:00 am and ending before 11:00 am breakfast Mondays through Fridays.

The sign, “Friends Gather Here”, hanging on the wall of Rochelle Coffee Shop, really is the place to go to for this new friend!

Rochelle Coffee Shop, 8 Quaker Ridge Road, New Rochelle, NY 10804 (914) 336-2727

Click here to Reply or Forward

OLIVE OIL AND ROSEMARY CAKE

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
2/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Oven 325 degrees.
2. Grease a 10-inch loaf pans, (or 6 mini loaf pans ).
3. In a medium bowl cream together eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add olive oil slowly and beat thoroughly blending well.
4. Gently stir in chopped rosemary into the batter.
5. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Add to wet ingredients.
Beat on a low speed until mixed well.
6. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 35-50 minutes or until cake is done.
( Test with a toothpick in center, until it comes out dry.)
7. Cool cake in pans 20 minutes. Remove from pan and place on racks until
completely cooled.
8. ENJOY – Savory and sweet, makes this cake complete!

Summer is over and fall is here! On my deck and awaiting my attention is my herb garden, now overgrown and ready to be stored for winter use. A seemingly delicate and fragrant herb, my rosemary has proved to be the hardiest of all. For the last few years I felt a calling to use her creatively, and the result is this rosemary olive oil cake.

I surfed the Internet and browsed through my many cookbooks, and the one recipe for rosemary olive oil cake that I thought was the best was Chef Mario Batali’s version. I remained faithful to his recipe except for the amount of rosemary used. As soon as I read that he used 2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, my gut told me that it might be too potent. Pungent and actually related to mint, I realized that a little rosemary will go a long way in any recipe. Whether preparing roasted potatoes, a pork tenderloin roast, or baking a cake, just a little bit of fresh rosemary added to any dish will do the trick in my opinion.

My version of rosemary olive oil cake uses only 1 tablespoon of rosemary, and I feel it is just the right amount. My family and friends, aka taste testers, all agree that the rosemary in the cake was powerful enough and twice the amount of rosemary would have been too much. However, if you’re really into rosemary, follow Mario Batali’s version.

SAUSAGE AND PEPPERS

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

2 lbs sausages (sweet, hot and/or chicken)
1 large onion, sliced
1 pepper, sliced
olive oil

1. Oven 350 degrees.
2. In a 9 x 13 pan, drizzle olive oil on bottom of pan, sparingly. Add sliced onions and peppers. Lastly, arrange sausages on top of peppers and onions. Cover pan and bake for 30 minutes.
3. Remove cover from pan and with a fork, poke the sausage to allow the steam to come out. Continue baking in oven for another 20 minutes with the cover off.
4. Check on the sausages, they should be starting to brown. Turn sausages over to brown the other side. If the pan seems dry, (no juices) add a couple of tablespoons of water. Continue to bake for another 20 minutes, or until the topside of sausages are browned.
5. Optional – Serve on semolina Italian bread with melted provolone or mozzarella cheese if you like. Otherwise serve over pasta. Serves 4 to 6.
ENJOY – It’s a sandwich or it’s a meal, either way what a deal!

Oh boy, what a summer I had! Talk about bad timing, the first day of my vacation I slipped and fractured my ankle. The next three weeks were spent on my couch staying off my foot. I wasn’t able to climb stairs or drive a car for at least 5 weeks since my foot was encased in an awkward cast that was starting to grate on my last nerve. Cooking became a bit of a challenge as I couldn’t stand on my foot too long. Preparing dishes that were easy to prep while sitting at the kitchen table was fine, and cutting, slicing, and dicing veggies and salads was also manageable. But let’s face it dear readers, sometimes cooking is work even in the best of times! However, this sausage and peppers recipe isn’t.

Many years ago, my mom told me to fry the sausages on the stove in a large frying pan, which I did in my early years of marriage. But, I like to change things up a little and not take too many unnecessary steps while cooking. Preparing many dishes at once is a welcomed challenge, so I try to take shortcuts that will give me more time to make several dishes simultaneously. So, I improvised by baking the sausage and peppers in the oven. They are just as delicious as if prepared on the stove. Sometimes, I add potatoes and bigger chunks of peppers to create a heartier meal. Either way, oven cooking is often better time wise and taste wise than stove top cooking for some recipes. One example is bacon. I bake it in the oven on a rack on top of a rimmed cookie sheet. The bacon is crispier and less greasy. I also bake “fried” eggplant and meatballs in the oven on lightly olive oiled cookie sheets. I turn often so the eggplant is browned evenly on both sides. It’s delicious, doesn’t have to be monitored so closely, and the stovetop stays a whole lot cleaner!

Baking is better, and no one can seem to tell the difference anyway. So, let’s keep this between us!

BROCCOLI CHEDDAR QUICHE

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1 head of broccoli florets
2 9-inch deep dish piecrusts
1 1/ 2 cup Durkee French Fried onions
1 cup milk
1 cup half and half
8 extra large eggs
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon margarine, softened

1. Oven 425 degrees. Punch fork holes on bottom and sides of piecrusts. Bake 10 minutes. Take out piecrusts and set aside to cool.
2. Spread softened or melted margarine in the bottom of the piecrusts with pastry brush.
3. Cut broccoli up into bite size pieces. Steam broccoli florets. Place broccoli on paper towel after steaming. In a large bowl, place broccoli florets, French fried onions and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Toss and mix together. Split the broccoli mixture between the two piecrusts evenly.
4. In a separate bowl, beat eggs with milk. Pour mixture over broccoli mixture in piecrusts. Sprinkle 1/ 2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese on top of each quiche.
5. Pour 1/2 cup of half and half evenly over the cheddar cheese on each quiche.
6. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn oven to 325 degrees and continue cooking for 35-45 minutes longer.
7. Let stand 15 minutes before slicing. Serve immediately.
8. ENJOY – Quiche and Brunch go together like icing on a cake!

Every Sunday I cook. Sunday left overs are perfect for work week lunches. My daughter, Mia, and I bring our lunch to work a majority of the time. Every office now-a-days has a refrigerator, microwave, coffee pot, etc. Some even have mini kitchens available for employees to encourage brown bagging lunches. When employees bring lunch, they usually eat at their desks which means less time away from the office.

Quiche of any kind is Mia’s favorite choice for brown bagged lunch. I never make one quiche at a time. I prepare two. One can be frozen or used for lunch for work. Salads also make great lunches. My Sunday dinner will always have a huge salad. Leftover chicken or steak cubed and added to a salad makes for a heartier lunch. Throw in some leftover steamed asparagus or broccoli and it is almost a complete meal.

Sunday dinner is really all about what are we bringing to lunch on Monday and Tuesday. There is nothing better on a Monday morning, rushing for work, knowing that your lunch is packed and ready to go!

POTATO SALAD

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

POTATO SALAD

1/2 bag potatoes ( 2 1/2 lbs.)
3 eggs
3 stalks celery, diced small
4 stalks scallions, diced small
Mayonnaise, 3 extra-large tablespoons
water
salt and pepper
paprika

1. Place potatoes in a large pot with skins on fill with cold water to cover potatoes. Add 3 eggs,
( I put a pin hole in each egg before boiling, it makes it easier to peel later). Bring water to a boil. Time it for 10 minutes at a full boil. Your eggs should be done. Remove the eggs with a spoon from the pot to cool down. Run cold water over them or place them in a bowl of cold water. Peel the eggs and set aside to cool, then chop.
2. Continue to boil the potatoes for 10 to 20 minutes more on a full boil, keep checking for doneness by putting a fork in them. If the fork goes in hard, not done, goes in easy, done. Try not to overcook the potatoes if you can.
3. When potatoes are done, cool for a bit, but it is good to peel while they are warm, the skins come off easier. Dice the potatoes into small cubes.
4. Add potatoes, celery, eggs, scallions, salt and pepper into a large bowl. I add about 3 hefty scoops of mayonnaise to start, more if preferred. Secret is to add water, about 1 to 3 tablespoons depending on look and taste. The water will cream out the mayo.
5. Decorate with paprika on top if you want before serving. Serves 8.
6. ENJOY – Summer without potato salad is like summer without sunshine!

During years of backyard barbeques, graduations, baby showers, and outings, a lot of potato salad has passed my lips; however, my mom’s potato salad is still the best I’ve had. Everybody loves it. I should know; I’ve been making it for years and hearing the satisfied sighs as my friends and family devour it by the forkful.

My mom, Helen, was a good cook and enjoyed cooking and entertaining. To know me is to know that I am my mother’s daughter. She taught me to always chop ingredients into small sizes, believing that it was more pleasing to the eye if the potatoes, celery, and scallions were cubed in small pieces. She did this to regular lettuce salad too. She’d cut up everything into small pieces, including the tomatoes and cucumbers. Mom was right! Smaller is better. Who wants a big chunk of potato or a huge leaf of lettuce when eating? Not me.

The only change I made to the original recipe that she gave me is that I add a bit of water. Many years ago my life-long friend, Joanne, made potato salad for a party, and I noticed that hers was creamier than mine. Her secret was adding water. At the time, I was adding a bit of milk to thin out the mayo in my potato salad. I’m convinced that water is better than milk and makes for a creamier potato salad.

Summer isn’t summer without Mom’s potato salad. When something is this good, you never get tired of making it. My family and friends will agree, because they never get tired of eating it!

STEAK PIZZAIOLA

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

2 pounds bone-in chuck steak
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 to 3 tomatoes, chopped
1 14 ounce can petite cut tomatoes, drained
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1/ 2 cup white wine

1. Oven 350 degrees.
2. In a 9 x 13 oven baking dish, sauté garlic in olive oil. Cook garlic on the stove till slightly tender. Add chuck steak to dish and brown / sear both sides of meat.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, add chopped tomatoes, can tomatoes, salt, pepper and oregano. Toss together. Add white wine and mix well. Add mixture to the top of the steak.
4. Cover dish and place in oven.
5. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Remove dish and serve immediately over pasta or polenta.
6. Options – Add chopped olives and capers to the tomatoes mixture after taking out of the oven and before serving.
ENJOY – Steak Pizzaiola or Steak Pizzazz!….

Talk on the street had it that Steak Pizzaiola could be a memorable dish. Sure, I’d heard about it, but I never took up the challenge until I consulted my hairdresser, Paul De Carlo, the owner of De Carlo’s Salon in Bardonia up in Rockland County.

He’s been doing my hair forever, and just a few months ago I was in the chair and we got into our favorite subject – cooking. I asked him if he ever made Steak Pizzaiola and, if so, would he give me the recipe. He said he got the recipe from his aunt who advised him to use only oregano and a chuck steak with the bone in. Angela, who also works at the salon and whom I have known just as long as Paul, is another good cook and wanted to give me her tips as well. So, she shared her recipe which called for olives and capers. Between Paul and Angela, I noted the essential and varied ingredients for Steak Pizzaiola on a piece of paper. Immediately upon leaving the salon, I went to the market and purchased the ingredients I needed. One change I made from Paul’s original recipe was the amount of tomatoes. I doubled the amount using a combination of canned and fresh. As a side dish, I prepared polenta and thought it would be good to have extra tomatoes to use as a topping. The steak pizzaiola turned out to be tender and delicious.

A few weeks later I went to Buffalo to visit my daughter and son-in-law, Marisa and Jeff, two promising cooks! I told Jeff about Steak Pizzaiola and promised to make it for him while I was visiting. Jeff and I went food shopping together and could not find a chuck steak with the bone in. Jeff went to one or two more supermarkets and still no luck. Sadly, Jeff never did enjoy my Steak Pizzaiola. When Jeff and Marisa came to see us shortly thereafter, I made it my mission to make him the Steak Pizzaiola. Would you believe the weekend came and went and still no Steak Pizzaiola?? We were very busy all weekend and there was no time to prepare it!

Jeff, I still owe you that Steak Pizzaiola dinner. So, when will you be coming again?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 223 other followers