POTATO SALAD

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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

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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?

The Original Pancake House Breakfast Review

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We’re back! Mela and I are hitting the road again in our quest for some good eating breakfast joints.

My co-worker, Larry, a very trustworthy fellow foodie who’s really into no holds barred breakfasts, told me about a new place that opened recently in White Plains called The Original Pancake House. Larry had dined at The Original Pancake House in Rockland, and told me I should check it out.
We set out on a recent Sunday morning to find what we always hope will be our new “go-to” breakfast place. Could it be The Original Pancake House? We found metered parking right in front, and parking is free on Sundays….sweet! Parking any day other than a Sunday at 9:00 am may be difficult.
There was a large, welcoming poster in the window that we couldn’t miss, but nothing permanent at that time. Our waiter, Greg Hoffa, from White Plains, was upbeat and solicitous. The coffee was served quickly, and we both agreed it was a strong cup of Joe. The place was on the chilly side, so the warmth of the coffee (along with our jackets) served us well until they cranked up the heat a bit. We were impressed by the simple, contemporary décor and everything appeared to be new and clean.

Our order consisted of a Broccoli Cheddar egg white omelet that came with 3 average sized buttermilk pancakes. All omelets come with pancakes. While broccoli cheddar omelets aren’t listed on the menu, they had no problem letting us substitute ingredients. It’s always a good sign when you can change up something on the menu. Toast and home fries were extra, but with pancakes, who needs them. The omelet was very fluffy, and the broccoli was fresh, not frozen, and had just the right bite to it. Happily, the cheddar was not overwhelming either, which we’ve experienced at many diners.

The pancakes were disappointing as they lacked flavor and were slightly doughy rather than fluffy. This is a pancake place after all. We commented to the hostess and she said it was the first time she heard that, and this could have been an off batch. The one item on the menu that was new to our breakfast jaunts was the Dutch Baby. Mela never had one and I love them. It took a little convincing to get her to try something new. Well, Mela tried it, and she liked it! We both loved the Dutch Baby with real maple syrup. It was excellent! Over all, the presentation of the meal was visually enticing. By 10:05 am, the place was packed and a crowd of people was waiting to be seated.

At $32.89, without tip, our breakfast was about average for a specialty breakfast place. Even though the pancakes were not as fluffy as they should be, we decided there was potential enough for there to be a next time. Dreaming of that Dutch Baby right now!

The Original Pancake House, 170 Hamilton Avenue, White Plains, NY 10601 (914) 683-3770

Nutella Pound Cake

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1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks salted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
Half of one 13-ounce jar Nutella
1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Lightly grease and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. In a bowl, sift flour and baking powder.
2. In a separate large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer at medium-low speed, gradually beat in the eggs and vanilla until fully mixed. Add in the flour mixture gradually, beating at low speed between additions until mixed well. Continue to beat for 30 seconds longer.
3. Open the jar of Nutella and microwave for 30 seconds to get it spreadable/smooth. Stir with butter knife. If still too thick, microwave again for another 10 seconds. Set aside
4. Spread one-half of the batter in the prepared pan, then spread some of the Nutella, (about 3 to 4 ounces, or 1/ 4 of a jar) on top of batter. Repeat with the rest of the batter and then top with another 1/ 4 of a jar of Nutella and then gently swirl with a butter knife the Nutella into the batter. Do not overmix.
5. Bake the cake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a wire rack, turn it right side up and let cool completely, about 2 hours. Cut the cake into slices and serve (coffee ice cream goes very well with it).
6. ENJOY – You tella, me tella, it’s wonderful Nutella!

Somebody Else’s Mom – Julianne’s Spanish Rice

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This is my friend Julianne’s Spanish Rice recipe. Julianne’s husband and sons give high praise for this Spanish Rice recipe as their favorite dish.

6 sweet sausages
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1/ 4 cup green pepper, chopped
1/ 4 cup red pepper, chopped
1 15 ounce can Goya Green Pigeon Peas, undrained
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
2 envelopes Sazon Goya con Cilantro y Achiote
3 cups long grain rice, rinsed
3 cups water

1. In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add crumbled sausage meat and cook through or until there is no pink coloring. Add the garlic, onion and peppers. Saute for a few minutes. Add pigeon peas and tomato sauce, along with the Sazon seasoning.
Simmer for another few minutes.
2. Meanwhile, put the 3 cups of rice in a bowl and add cold water to cover the rice. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then drain the water from the bowl.
3. Put the pot on a low- medium flame. Add rice and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the water. Cover the pot. Cook for 30 to 45 minutes or until water is absorbed. (In between, stir the rice once after water is absorbed and put the flame on low.)
Serve immediately.
4. Options – Substitute sausage with chicken or pork or ham steak or prepare the rice meatless.
5. Makes about 8 servings.
ENJOY – You don’t have to be Spanish to love Spanish rice!

My high school prom was June 1974.

The passage of nearly 40 years has not diminished my wonderful memories of the Monsignor Scanlan prom; reminiscing about that night still fills me with joy and gratitude. I look back at my childhood friendships with Julianne and Linda who bonded with me from our first days of starting Monsignor Scanlon, and whose friendships I still cherish. We ate lunch together every day in the cafeteria, attended some classes together, and shared young girls’ dreams about our futures. When our senior prom was planned, it was a given that we would go together with our dates in one limo and sit together at the same table. Our prom was held at the Marina Del Ray catering hall in “The Bronx”. My beloved Uncle Dom, a father figure to me since my Dad passed when I was only 12, had made a few suggestions about where to go after the prom. The real fun started after the prom dinner and began with a night on the town in Manhattan. Our first stop was Rodney Dangerfield’s Comedy Club. We had front row seats and Mr. Dangerfield actually headlined that night! Next up was the Rainbow Room in the Empire State Building, another suggestion my uncle had made. To our delight and unbeknownst to us, my uncle reserved a really good table adorned with 2 bottles of champagne already ordered and paid for. In a club that was so sophisticated and classy, we felt like adults on top of the world and acted as such. To top off this amazing evening, we headed to the Staten Island Ferry which was considered a traditional ending to prom night at the time. Before we knew it, it was 6:30 a.m. and we were back at Linda’s house for rides home. It was a night to remember forever.

Today, I live in New York, Julianne in New Mexico and Linda in Connecticut. Different locations have not kept us apart. Julianne occasionally visits New York, and during those visits the three of us always manage to figure out how to connect. Last year, for the first time, Linda and I flew to New Mexico to stay with Julianne for a few days. We laughed, we cried, and we bonded as if we never left high school.

Proms usually represent an end to high school friendships. However, what I really know for sure is that my Monsignor Scanlan prom proved to be the beginning of treasured, life-long friendships.

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Stuffed Zucchini with Artichokes

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4 large zucchini
olive oil
1 /2 onion (small), chopped
1 14 ounce can whole artichokes in water
2 t0 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
Salt and pepper
1 /2 cup Italian flavored bread crumbs
1 /2 cup grated Romano cheese

1. Oven 350 degrees
2. Wash zucchini and cut in half lengthwise. With a spoon scrape out the inside of the zucchini
shell carefully starting in the center, leaving a shell for filling later. Steam the shells in
the microwave for 2 to 5 minutes. Place on paper towels to absorb water from steaming.
3. In a large frying pan, add olive oil to semi cover the bottom, use medium heat.
Add chopped garlic and onion. Cook a few minutes. Add scooped out zucchini.
4. Drain water from artichoke can. Cut up artichokes into bite size pieces. Add to frying pan, and
continue cooking. Add oregano, basil, salt and pepper, sauté until everything is tender.
4. Turn off heat and stir in grated cheese and bread crumbs. Mix thoroughly. If too wet looking,
sprinkle in a tablespoon at a time, more grated cheese and/or bread crumbs.
5. Spoon mixture into zucchini shells and place stuffed side up on an oven pan or cookie sheet. Bake
20 to 25 minutes. Then turn oven to broil and broil for 1 or 2 minutes to brown the top, keeping
an eye on the zucchini, they brown quickly. Serve immediately.
6. ENJOY! – Zucchini and artichokes were meant to be together!

If you love zucchini and artichokes as much as I do, you will love this recipe. Combining the right vegetables is like combining the right guests for a meal. One will compliment the other.

I entertain frequently and I enjoy bringing people together to my table. Sitting people together over a meal usually means there is no loss for conversation. All that I need to get strangers to converse with each other, is to talk about what I am serving. I am fearless in cooking and try new dishes on friends and family all the time. This is definitely a great way to break the ice and get the conversation going. I encourage comments and feedback on the new recipe that was prepared. Whether they love it, hate it or have no opinion, it gets everyone talking.

Don’t be afraid to try a new dish and or to bring people together the next time you entertain. Either way the results may surprise you. Just sit back and enjoy the conversation as well as your company!

ORZO WITH TOMATOES AND GARLIC

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1 lb box of Orzo or some other small pasta
3 – 4 large pulp tomatoes (egg shaped tomatoes), chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
¼ cup scallions, chopped or 1/2 red onion, chopped
Basil and or parsley
olive oil

Good Seasons Italian Dressing

1. Cook orzo according to directions. Rinse under cold water to prevent sticking.
2. Chop tomatoes, garlic and scallions or red onion. Mix together with well drained pasta in an
attractive bowl for serving.
3. Make the Good Seasons Italian Dressing. My secret is this. I use less water than the
Directions call for first of all. I use half the water portion and substitute it with
vinegar. Where it says vinegar, I use half the portion with red wine vinegar and the
other half with balsamic vinegar.
4. After making the salad dressing according to your taste, pour about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the dressing into the pasta salad and mix together. Let that sit for awhile. Refrigerate the pasta until nice and cold. Just before serving drizzle olive oil (about 2 to 3 tablespoons, I don’t measure, I just drizzle) and some more dressing if needed. Toss and taste.
5. ENJOY – Mama Mia what a pasta for me a.

Justine, my niece, recently texted me with a request for my Orzo with Tomatoes, her “favorite recipe”! As you can imagine, that was music to my ears. For someone who takes pride in their cooking, a request for one’s recipe is a compliment of the highest order.

I told Justine she could find it on my website, only to discover this family favorite wasn’t there. So, I quickly poured through my secret stash of recipes and added it to my site. Justine, this one’s for you! I hope you won’t mind sharing it 

Scarsdale was and still is a great place to live and work; however, eating on the cheap is not something this town offered. When I worked downtown years ago, I was too busy playing Supermom to have any time to make my own lunch to schlep to work, and how much pizza can one person eat in a given week? One of my favorite places was a gourmet chicken take-out store. I would typically order a small container of chicken salad or pasta with tomato and garlic to the tune of $6 … which was about $3 too much at the time.

I always feel challenged to make something at home just as tasty but cheaper, and this pasta was just the inspiration I needed. It has become a focal point and huge hit at all my barbeques, proving, once again, that a good recipe does not have to be expensive or complicated. I do feel compelled to let you know that I did not request their recipe out of respect. Back in the day, folks believed it to be fair business practice to pay for recipes, especially if they were purchasing a food business. Well, times have changed and many folks feel it’s a compliment to be asked for a recipe. I know as I have done this many times over the years, and I have never been turned away.

The next time you enjoy something from a restaurant, a store, or even a party, don’t be shy — ask for the recipe. Go home and give it your best shot; you’ll be amazed with the results. Make this dish for the next party in your life, and I am sure you too will be asked for your recipe!

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