Deviled Eggs

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10 hard-boiled eggs
1 /2 cup mayonnaise
1 1/ 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
salt and pepper

paprika

1. To hard boil eggs, prick a pin hole on one end of the egg. Place egg in a pot of cold water. Cover the eggs completely with water. Place on a high flame on the stove and leave on till the water is full boil. Once it is boiling. Boil for a full 10 to 12 minutes to cook the egg.
2. Remove the hard boiled egg from the stove and dump out the hot water. Run cold water over the eggs and let them sit in the cold water for a few minutes. Then dump that warm water out and run cold water again over the eggs.
3. While the eggs are cooling, take one egg at a time and with the faucet running cold water, start to peel where you pricked the egg with a pin. The shell under the running water should come off easy. Discard shell and place egg on a paper towel.
4. Slice eggs in half lengthwise. Gently remove yolks and place in a food processor or small bowl. Using the chop switch or with a fork, finely crumble the yolks.
Stir in mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper until smooth.
With a spoon (or with a decorating bag) fill the egg white centers where you removed the yolk. Decorate with paprika.
5. Serve immediately or cover tightly and refrigerate for a few hours before serving.
6. Enjoy – The Dijon mustard devil made the eggs!

Deviled eggs are one of the simplest and most satisfying recipes you will ever make. When these little colorful babies make an appearance on my table, everyone makes a beeline for them! However, have you noticed that they’re not front and center anymore when you head for the appetizers? Yep, we’re all worried about the cholesterol; the stomach says “oh yes” and the head says “no way!” Who wins your battle?

When my second child, Marisa, was born, we were pretty broke. I was planning on having her Christening celebration when she was 6 weeks old. My husband and I thought we would invite just the family; before we knew it, the “family” expanded up to about 70 people. Entertaining that many people at a restaurant was way too expensive at the time. My neighbor, Joan, suggested we rent the Girl Scout house in the park. We did that and then we had to figure out the food. I made some calls and asked family and good friends if they would bring something. I started by asking my mom to cook something and it just took off from there. An aunt made her famous chili; my sisters-in-law brought stuffed shells, potato salad and desserts. Someone brought gallons of wine, a roast beef, appetizers etc. Everyone was unbelievably generous, leading me to the reason why I am telling this story. My friend, Sandy, offered to bring something too and had decided on making her much revered deviled eggs. I let her know that I was totally up for that. She asked how many people I was expecting, so I told her there’d be about 70. God Bless her heart, Sandy made at least 50 deviled eggs. Understand this, while the recipe is simple and the outcome worth the effort, it does take a little time and patience to make them look good on a tray and to be worthy of a little admiration before devouring. (I’m sure you, like my friend Sandy, can appreciate the visual difference between a deviled egg served at a backyard cookout and one presented at a restaurant). Anyway, Sandy was so traumatized after making all those good looking deviled eggs for Marisa’s christening that I don’t think she made another deviled egg for many years after! While writing this story, I called Sandy to verify the amount of deviled eggs she made. She still remembers that for years after the christening, she couldn’t even look at a deviled egg!

I always felt that party was one of the best parties I ever had. Everyone pitched in and made their special dishes. The menu included appetizers through desserts of all different homemade dishes. There is nothing like food made with love. I never forgot how everyone brought something. It just goes to show you it never hurts to ask for help, because you just might get what you asked for — seventy fold!

Pastina

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About half bag of a 16 ounce package of skinny egg noodles
(any noodle will work)
Milk
Butter
Eggs

1. Cook egg noodles al’dente and drain them.
2. Add about 2 tablespoons of butter into the same pot, you just drained the noodles from.
3. Put the noodles back in the pot on top of the butter. Add milk by starting with 1/ 4 cup to 1/ 2 cup or more depending on how you like your pastina either very dry to very moist, adding more milk to make it more moist.
4. Add between 1 to 2 eggs into the pot. Put the flame on medium and just mix it all up really well and stir continually until it thickens and starts to bubble a bit on the sides. (The eggs don’t have to be fully cooked. Look in the pot and when you like the way the eggs look, almost scrambled mixed up with noodles, than it is done.) I don’t make it too thick because it thickens after it sits there. Remember this is not a recipe you can leave on the stove and walk away; you have to watch it as it cooks.
5. Serve immediately and keep covered on the stove. May need salt.
6. ENJOY – I never had a recipe for this. Ma just showed me how to make it.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I am honoring my mother by posting her Pastina recipe. Of all the recipes I’ve made, this is the one most requested by family and friends. Those who knew my mother lovingly remember her for her Pastina.

Pastina is a favorite comfort food for me and my children. It is the simplest dish to make; the ingredients are basic staples found in almost all kitchens: milk, eggs, butter and noodles. It isn’t rocket science, anyone can make it, and you can trust that it’ll taste good whether it’s cold, warm, sunny, or rainy! The first forkful instantly brings me back to our family kitchen with my mom at the stove, and I want to take you back with me…..

I remember “Ma” not only for her Pastina but for all the meals she made. My favorite week night would be the night she chose to make her meatloaf, mashed potatoes and corn – and without fail, it was on the table at 6:00 pm on the dot. My favorite Sunday meal always appeared at Ma’s table at 2:00 pm: homemade meatballs made with stale Italian bread and fried in olive oil paired with fresh raviolis that my dad picked up at the Italian pasta store in Astoria, Queens earlier that morning. Nostalgic images often run through my mind: of bread dough rising in pans covered with moist cloths on the radiators in the living room; homemade spaghetti sauce cooking on the stove and the special honor of being the one chosen to taste the one ravioli taken from the pot and having it dredged in Romano cheese to taste test for doneness; and so much more. I’ll never forget her incomparable buttermilk waffles with vanilla ice cream that would appear on a hot summer Friday evening as a very special dinner treat, dinner and dessert in one. I don’t ever remember her complaining about cooking, but I do remember her always being in the kitchen and always being around people. My heart is filled with memories of my mom cooking, my family sitting around the kitchen table eating dinner and the large family holiday parties my parents hosted.

OK, I’m not saying you’d find us in a Norman Rockwell painting, we were just a regular family having dinner. I wasn’t a good eater growing up and didn’t finish my dinner many times. My mom kept it on the stove and if I was hungry later, I got served that same plate. One time she served it to me for breakfast. You didn’t mess with my mother; she experienced deprivation during the Depression and remembered very well what it was like to be hungry. There was no wasting food in my house growing up, and I tried to instill the same lesson in my children. But there never was a problem for me eating when mom made me her pastina. It was the one dish I finished when it was served to me.

My Uncle Danny loved his wife, Suzie, as well as her cooking and baking. Shortly after she died years ago, we visited my Uncle Danny. I was a child, but I distinctly remember him telling my father, his brother, how he dreamt of Suzie the night before and she was holding a big pot of raviolis. Uncle Danny died within a year after Aunt Suzie. I never forgot that day and can still see him talking about that dream of his Suzie with such happiness and sorrow all showing on his face. I certainly understand Uncle Danny’s bittersweet feelings. I often think of my mom standing at the stove making Pastina, all the while feeling happiness for the memory and sorrow for the absence of Mom in my life.

So, I honor her memory this Mother’s Day by sharing some fond memories of “Ma”, and I hope you’ll find as much comfort when you dip your spoon into a big bowl of my Ma’s pastina!

EASTER PIE

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4 cups flour (all purpose)
4 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
8 tablespoons margarine, chilled and cut into small pieces
4 egg yolks, slightly beaten (separated into 3 and 1)
2 to 4 tablespoons water (if needed)

13 eggs, (separated into 12 and 1)
2 cups basket cheese or whole milk ricotta
1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
1 / 2 pound provolone cheese, diced
1 / 2 pound Genova salami, diced
1 / 2 cup Romano cheese, grated
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon milk

1. In a large bowl sift flour and sugar together. Cut in margarine and butter with a pastry cutter or fork. Blend until mixture is crumbly. Stir in 3 egg yolks and 1 whole egg until just mixed. (If dough is too crumbly, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time to bring the dough together, if needed.) Mold into a ball and chill in refrigerator for 1 hour.
2. Oven 375 degrees.
3. Butter and flour a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Divide the dough into 2 parts. One a little larger than the other. Roll out the larger part on a floured board or table. Fold the dough into a square to lift it off the table and transfer it to the baking dish. Gently, unfold the dough to fit the bottom and partway up the sides of the baking dish.
4. In another bowl, stir together the 12 eggs, slightly beatened, with the ricotta, mozzarella, provolone, salami, Romano cheese, and parsley. Pour into the bottom crust of the baking dish.
5. Roll out the remaining dough to form the top crust. Gently press the top dough to meet the edges and seal well.
6. Mix 1 egg yolk with milk and brush top of dough before putting into oven.
7. Bake 50 minutes or until the crust is golden. After baking let it settle for 20 minutes or longer before slicing.
8. ENJOY – This is no pie this is a meal!

Wanna celebrate Easter with a luscious slice of pie that just happens to be of Italian origin? Hope so, because I bet you’re gonna love this delicacy for Easter or any holiday! Easter Pie is a heavy dish, great for brunch or early dinner, but not the best choice for a late night snack. Men seem to love it even more than women and you get only one guess as to why – yep, because of the meat inside! Women like it because it’s a one dish wonder…..translation: easy clean up. Plus, there’s no frying involved. I just adore this pie. It’s unlike the routine dishes I prepare all the time, and friends and family love it because it is different, tasty and interesting.

This recipe is made in many different ways in the US just as you’ll find this to be true in the many regions of Italy, home of the Easter Pie. I have been researching the different ways this recipe is prepared. Everyone who makes it has their own way of doing it and their own set of extra added ingredients. Every time I make it I change it by adding different meats or just use one meat in the pie, depending on my mood. Some people make Easter bread with similar ingredients instead of the pie. No matter how you make, just make it.

I’ve made this pie just a few times in the past. Never a problem, the process went smoothly. For this posting, everything went wrong with the dough. It kept crumbling. I got it together and it fell apart. I was ready to throw it out the window, except for two reasons. I spent a few bucks on the ingredients from an Italian deli, plus I planned on bringing it to dinner at a friend’s house. When nothing goes right, don’t give up the fight! Improvise, improvise and improvise some more. I was finally able to lay a solid piece of dough on the bottom of the pan. I achieved this small miracle not by rolling it out, but by picking up the crumbling pieces and patting them down until the entire bottom and half way up the sides were covered. The top layer was a completely different challenge. No way was I able to roll out one sheet to cover the pie. I had no choice but to make a patchwork quilt of dough, layering the pieces on top and hoping for the best. Just when I thought I was home free, I never heard the buzz of the kitchen timer go off – dead batteries anyone? So, I ended up cooking the pie for an extra 15 minutes. Thank goodness I had an instinct that it was taking way too long to cook, much more than 50 minutes. Guess what, it was. All in all the pie survived these setbacks and the end result was, surprisingly, great! It all worked out in the end or so it seemed for today. Signing off for now or until the next cooking disaster for this mom!

SPINACH STRATA


1 tablespoon olive oil
5 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
6 eggs
1 package fresh spinach, washed, chopped, squeezed dry or
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 2/3 cups half and half
½ small onion, sliced thin
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 tablespoons butter, softened
½ cup white wine
8 slices of stale hard Italian or French bread
salt and pepper

1. In a greased 8 or 9 inch square baking pan, arrange 4 slice of the hard stale Italian/French bread in a single layer. Spread the 1 tablespoon of the softened butter on 4 slices of the bread in baking dish and then spread the other 1 tablespoon of the softened butter on 4 slices outside the dish. Set aside.
2. In a 10-inch frying pan add olive oil and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place on top of the stove under a low flame. Sauté onions, garlic and tomatoes until tender. Add spinach. Cook everything until hot, stirring well. Set aside in a bowl.
3. Meanwhile add wine to pan. Increase heat to medium-high; simmer until reduced to ¼ cup, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
4. In a bowl whisk eggs then add the wine, while continually whisking, add the half and half and dash in some salt and pepper
5. Top the 4 slices of buttered bread with spinach mixture and then top with half of the grated cheese. Arrange remaining 4 bread slices in a single layer over the cheese and repeat the layer of spinach and cheese.
6. Pour the egg mixture evenly over everything and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerator at least 2 hours or overnight.
7. Oven 350 degrees. Remove dish from refrigerator and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Uncover and bake for 45 minutes or until puffed and edges have pulled away slightly from sides of dish. Let it sit for a few minutes before cutting.
8. ENJOY – Good enough to gain weight for!

I have a problem with throwing food out. This of course is my parents’ fault. They were the generation of The Great Depression in America during the 1930’s. Believe me when I say I heard all the stories. To this day, my mom still drinks black coffee because of the shortage of sugar back then. I bought a book for my mom a long time ago called “Grandma Remembers” with empty spaces for her to fill in information. I wanted to have some written history of our family. She never wrote any information down in the blank areas where the questions were listed in the book. During my visits to mom, I would ask a few questions from the book and write in her answers myself to make it easier. Sample questions were: “What was your favorite toy when you were small?” “What was your favorite meal for dinner?” “What did you get for Christmas?” My mom gave me the same answer to every question I asked. “I didn’t have a toy, we were poor”. “We were poor, and I ate whatever my mother gave me”. “We didn’t get Christmas presents; we were poor”. Because she was poor, it sounded like she had no life. Here was this book of memories for me to pass on to my children and generations to come, and every question was answered with “We were poor.” Mom and I laughed so hard together at her answers when we read them back. The reason I am telling you this story is that my mom was poor (I know you got that by now), and it was a sin to waste food since there was a time when there wasn’t any food to waste. She brought me up with those values; don’t throw out food.

This recipe was created because I had some leftover Italian bread, cooked spinach and cheese that I needed to use soon. Since I didn’t want to throw out these leftovers, I started pouring through my cookbooks and recipes for ideas. My collection is big and diversified. Thank goodness I have a great memory, and I remembered that one of my Italian cookbooks had a dish called strata which reminded me of a quiche-like dish. The combination I used for this recipe was the yellow eggs, green spinach and red tomatoes, and this made a delicious colorful dish. I prepared the dish and let it sit overnight for dinner the next evening. The reaction from my family was, at first, very unhappy to have eggs for dinner, especially since there was no meat in this recipe. This was a double whammy as far as the guys were concerned. But believe it or not, my husband loved it and my daughter, too. I am a huge vegetable fan, so I loved it also.

This is a great dish and a great way to use your leftovers and then no food is wasted. There are people who never waste food and never forget when their mother was poor.