BUTTERMILK CORN FRITTERS

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1 1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg, beaten
2 cups corn
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons canola oil, plus extra

1. I use leftover corn from a dinner. But if do not have using frozen corn, cook and then drain. If using canned corn, just drain and set aside. In a medium bowl, add flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Sift together, then add melted butter, buttermilk and egg. Beat on a low speed. With a wooden spoon, stir in the corn and mix well. Set aside.
2. In a cast iron skillet, if you have one, if not, use a medium frying pan, add the canola oil and heat on a medium flame.
3. Drop tablespoons of the corn batter into the oil. Brown the fritters on both sides, using a spatula to flip the fritter.
4. Drain the corn fritters on paper towels, serve warm. Makes 12 to 16 fritters, depending size.
5. ENJOY- Leftover corn never tasted so good!

Sometimes I feel the need to cook or bake a memory. I miss my mom and her cooking.

Some people find relaxation and bliss in art, music, meditation, yoga, or even knitting; I find it in baking and cooking. The art of preparing food is a ritual and an act of love, and makes old memories come alive and feel fresh again. I frequently feel the need to connect with my mom, and when I cook and bake, it brings us together again in spirit.

Memories of my mom cooking at the stove are all happy ones. She genuinely seemed to enjoy it, and never used a cookbook or followed a recipe. I vividly recall our family eating dinner together at the kitchen table (we didn’t have a dining room) every night. We took turns hosting Sunday dinners with my aunt and uncle; our tables were filled with Italian food, wine and laughter. The image of my mom’s colander (which I still have and use regularly) filled with a few cheese raviolis sprinkled with grated Romano cheese cooling off and waiting to be tested for doneness, is by far one of my favorite memories. My dad and mom would gently remove 2 or 3 raviolis from the cooking pot to cool and test, and I was lucky enough to taste one of those special raviolis. My dad would make a special trip to a little shop to purchase freshly made ravioli after going to church. They were a treat and reserved for special Sunday meals.

Even though my mom cooked mostly Italian dishes to please my Dad and my Italian grandmother, other times were spent cooking good old American fare. Those American dishes my mother cooked bring back the best memories of her to me, especially her corn fritters. Corn fritters were something she would make randomly, for no special reason. However, it was always love at first bite! Everything that meant love and home was felt and remembered in that instant. When I cook my mom’s corn fritters for my family it brings back the same feeling of love and joy! There is no better feeling than that.

We hardly ever eat anything fried anymore. Everything is baked nowadays. Leftover corn sitting in the refrigerator is always a cue for me to start cooking those fritters. Mom never used buttermilk in her recipe, but I thought it would only enhance the flavor of the fritters. I was right, and you’ll find it in this recipe.

So, if you want to create some new memories with your loved ones, break out the pots and pans and start making your own corn fritters!

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ARTICHOKE PIE

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2 9-inch deep dish pie crusts
2 cans whole artichoke hearts in water, drained
6 ounces heavy cream
6 ounces half and half
10 eggs
1/ 2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 tablespoons cornstarch
12 ounce package Quattro Formaggio – Trader Giotto’s
(Asigago, Parmesan, Fontina and Provolone cheeses)

1. Oven 375 degrees.
2. In the bottom and sides of the pie crusts, poke holes with a fork then place in oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
3. Lower oven to 350 degrees.
4. After draining all water from artichokes, chop the artichoke hearts into small pieces, place in a bowl. Add about 6 ounces of the shredded cheese combo mix to the bowl and toss cheese and artichokes till mixed well. Split the artichoke/ cheese mixture between the two pie crusts evenly.
5. In a separate bowl, beat eggs with half and half and 3 ounces of heavy cream. Add nutmeg and cornstarch to eggs and continue beat until well blended. Pour egg mixture over tossed artichokes and cheese. Sprinkle remaining shredded cheese on top of each pie.
6. Pour remaining heavy cream over the shredded cheese on both pies.
7. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn oven to 300 degrees and continue cooking for 1 hour longer.
8. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes before slicing. Serve immediately.
9. ENJOY – The more the merrier, when it comes to cheeses!

I love me some artichokes and this pie is nothing but artichokes. And of course cheese, plenty of cheese.

My friend, Regina, made this pie for a Saturday girlfriend luncheon. We all raved about it. The next week I made it but I really wanted to use the cheeses she had in her recipe. That meant a trip to Trader Joe’s for their special blend of grated cheeses. Why buy four separate cheeses when I could get them all in one package.

Regina used more artichokes in her original recipe than I did in mine, but I had only two cans in the house when I made it and it was plenty. When cooking, baking, creating in the kitchen, there is nothing more annoying than to be out of an ingredient. So, I alter the recipe, substitute an ingredient, or go without. Depending on what ingredient is missing at the time. If it is really essential to the dish, I will put everything aside and run to the store and get it, or ask my husband or daughter to pick it up for me. Cooking is experimenting and sometimes those experiments turn out better the second time around. This artichoke pie is one of those experiments where I felt it came out a winner. At least my husband thought so, because he loved this pie. If he’s happy, then I am happy. On to the next experiment, I mean recipe!

Bruschetta with Micro Arugula and Basil

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1 to 2 large loaves Italian bread seeded
1/3 cup olive oil
8 ounces fresh mozzarella
3 to 4 large pulp tomatoes
1 bunch micro arugula
1/4 red onion
garlic cloves
1 handful micro basil
salt and pepper

1. Oven 375 degrees.

2. Wash fresh micro arugula and basil. Rinse and put on paper towels
drain. Cube the mozzarella, set aside. Chop tomatoes into small
cubes. Dice the red onion. Place the arugula and basil into a
medium bowl, add mozzarella, tomatoes and red onion and toss
together and set aside.

3. Slice Italian bread and put on a cookie sheet. Toast the bread slices 8 minutes each side
or until golden. Remove bread from oven and rub cut garlic
cloves on one side of bread. Not too much.

4. Drizzle olive oil and red wine vinegar over micro tomato and arugula mixture, sprinkle in
salt and pepper. Place tablespoonfuls of tomato mixture over
toasted bread slices and serve immediately.

5. ENJOY – A slice of bread or a slice of heaven !

During a visit in July to my brother Jim’s home in Montauk, he took me on a tour of Good Water Farms as a treat. Jim appreciates my passion for cooking and my interest in searching for those special ingredients that make a meal memorable.

Good Water Farms is unique in that it is a micro farm, and it’s owned by my brother’s friend, Brendan. Well, my interest was definitely peaked as I had never heard of micro farming!

Brendan was a most gracious and generous host to Jim and me. His tour was fascinating and educational. Not only did he show us around, but he explained his passion for micro farming. When Brendan first offered me a taste of the micro arugula, I declined. Truthfully, I was afraid that it would show on my face if I didn’t like it; I am not great at disguising my feelings. Once I accepted this odd little green morsel, I was astonished by the rush of flavor that just burst in my mouth! I am totally into micro now; Brendan got me hooked!

Before Jim and I departed, Brendan gave us a tray of micro basil and micro arugula. The Bruschetta featured in this blog is prepared with…guess what! You got it — micro arugula and basil. Although tiny in size, they are mighty in flavor.

When I crave these delicious greens, I can always go to Whole Foods to purchase micro greens by Good Water Farms. Give them a try, and you’ll be glad you did.

My thanks to Brendan for his generosity and tour of Good Water Farms. I hope to be back soon to see him and sample some other micro greens.

I can’t wait to see what other recipes I can come up with using micro greens – stay tuned!

Tom’s Carrots

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2 lbs carrots

water

1 cup dry white wine

3 1/2 tablespoons butter

salt and pepper

1.  Peel carrots and then rinse them under cold water.  Slice thin with a food processor or by hand, but try to keep them the slice the same size.

2.  Place the carrots into a 4 to 5 quart pot.  Cover them half way with water.  Bring the water to a boil and then turn the flame down to simmer.  Cook 15 to 20 minutes while stirring occasionally.  If any water is still left in the pot, then drain.

3.  Add 1 cup of dry white wine to the carrots.  Cook another 15 to 20 minutes until carrots are tender, stir occasionally.

4.  Add butter, salt and pepper to taste, and cook 5 minutes more.  Serve immediately.

7.  Enjoy –  Carrots never tasted so good!

Every year our family’s Christmas dinner is hosted by our son, Tom, and his wife, Christine.  Tom, a chip off the old block, enjoys cooking and trying new recipes for these holiday dinners.  Though he manages to serve new dishes every year, there is one dish that always appears on his menu: Tom’s Carrots. I named it Tom’s Carrots, and I look forward to having them every Christmas.  

This year after the holidays, I asked Tom for his recipe so I could share it with my Somebody’s Mom’s audience.  He gave me instructions over the phone, so please consider that every measured amount for each ingredient is actually an estimation on my part.  Tom (hey, he’s a guy after all) just provided the ingredients for his carrot dish.  

Fortunately, I have been cooking for a long, long time and a recipe without amounts does not deter me.  Most of my recipes are creations from someone telling me the basic ingredients of a dish they made and me figuring out the rest on my own!  Not every recipe is a hit on the first try, but most of them are pretty close.  Half the fun of cooking something new is the trial and error part.  This carrot recipe was one of the easier ones to figure out. 

So, till next time and my next experiment…..umm…..recipe, enjoy Tom’s Carrots. As mom used to say, “eat your carrots, they’re good for your eyes!”

 

 

 

Homemade Tomato Sauce

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1 large bowl of home grown tomatoes
olive oil
hand full of fresh basil
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 to 2 cans tomato paste
salt and pepper

1. Rinse tomatoes, make a crisscross on one end of the tomatoes.
2. Fill a large pot with water about 3/4. Bring to a boil. Drop tomatoes into the boiling water for less than a minute, remove from boiling water with a
slotted spoon. The tomatoes will be very hot to handle, so with a pot holder on one hand, quickly peel the skin from the tomato with the tip of a sharp
knife with the other hand. The skins should fall right off if done immediately.
Set peeled tomatoes on the side.
3. In the meantime, in another large pot, add olive (about 2-3 tablespoons) to cover the bottom of the pot. Add chopped garlic and onions. Saute on a low
to medium flame, until the onions are translucent.
4. On a cutting board, quarter tomatoes and place into a food processor. Blend tomatoes. With a strainer over the pot of garlic and onions, add the blended
tomatoes to the pot. I use a large spoon to strain and squeeze the tomatoes through the strainer. This straining will keep the tomato seeds from going in
the sauce in the pot. Continue this process till all of the tomatoes have been strained.
5. All the time, cook your sauce on a low to medium flame. Fresh tomatoes contain a lot of water. Add one to two cans of tomato paste to thicken your sauce.
6. If fresh basil is available, wash a handful and put into the sauce. Add salt and pepper and stir.
7. Cook sauce with a cover that is sligthly ajar for about 3 to 4 hours on a low flame, to just simmer. Stir every 20 minutes to 30 minutes.
8. ENJOY – Mangia!

Here a tomato, there a tomato, everywhere a tomato. If you planted your tomatoes at the right time, now at the end of summer, you probably have a bounty of ripe tomatoes.

That is exactly what my daughter, Marisa and her husband, Jeff, have at their home in Buffalo, New York. They were coming to my house for a visit last weekend and I called to see if they needed anything special from the supermarket. Marisa asked me what I was shopping for and I said I needed tomatoes. “Don’t buy any tomatoes!” she practically shouted through the cell phone. “We are bringing you a bag full, and some cucumbers and zucchini”. Okay, I won’t buy tomatoes. Truthfully, I was thinking she was bringing a brown paper bag of tomatoes and not the shopping bag full of tomatoes she actually brought me.

After cutting up a few tomatoes for a pasta salad, I thought now what am I going to do with all these beautiful ripe tomatoes. In previous years, I canned tomatoes. I did it two years in a row and I pretty much made the decision that canning wasn’t something I really enjoyed. Marisa and Jeff can tomatoes and I patiently wait to see if they will share a few jars with me.

Tom, my husband, who in his own right is a good cook, and I decided to make homemade fresh tomato sauce with the shopping bag of Marisa and Jeff’s tomatoes. It was a joint effort with him boiling and peeling the tomatoes and me processing and cooking the sauce.

The aroma of the tomato sauce was so overwhelming while simmering on the stove, my other daughter, Mia, impatiently, burned the roof of her mouth, from dipping bread a few times into the pot of hot sauce to taste.

We all agreed over our pasta dinner that night, this homemade tomato sauce compliments of Marisa and Jeff’s home grown tomatoes, was delizioso !

VEGETABLE LASAGNA WITH WHITE SAUCE

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1 pkg 16 ounces lasagna noodles
1 pkg 8 ounces mozzarella cheese shredded
3 cups ricotta cheese
6 to 8 cups homemade tomato sauce
1 cup steamed spinach, drained
6 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 small onion chopped
4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced

1 10 ounce pkg of frozen chopped broccoli, cooked and drained thoroughly
1 – 3 carrots, sliced and steamed
1 – 3 zucchini, sliced and steamed

White Sauce
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
3/ 4 cups half and half
3/ 4 cups milk
salt and pepper

1. Prepare lasagna noodles according to package. Use a drop of oil in water to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Cook 1 to 2 minutes less than the directions, so the noodles are not too soft. Run noodles under cold water immediately after draining them. Spread out long sheets of wax paper. Lay the noodles side by side until no room left on sheet. Then place a sheet of wax paper on top and continue until all noodles are used. This will prevent them from sticking to one another.
2. In the meantime, in a large frying pan, sauteed the garlic, chopped onions and tomatoes, cooking till tender. Add spinach and continue to sauteed till everything is heated. As an option for a different version of vegetable lasagna try it with – 1 10 ounce pkg of frozen chopped broccoli, cooked and drained thoroughly, 3 carrots, sliced and steamed, 3 zucchini, sliced and steamed.
2. Oven 375 degrees.
3. Mix in a bowl the spinach sauteed mixture with ricotta and 4 ounces of mozzarella. (I use whole milk, or part skim ricotta and mozzarella.) The other 4 ounces of mozzarella should be set aside to sprinkle on top of lasagna.
4. In two 9 x 13 x 2 oven baking pan, spoon sauce on the bottom.
5. Layer 3 to 4 noodles over the sauce. Spoon the cheese vegetable mixture onto the layer of noodles. Spoon some sauce over the cheese mixture, then top with a layer of noodles and continue until entire pan is almost full but not all the way to the top of the pan. The last layer should be noodles with sauce covering them and some mozzarella sprinkled over the sauce.
6. Cover and bake for 40 minutes.
7. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add flour gradually and stir with a wooden spoon and continue to stir. Slowly add half and half and milk with salt and pepper. Cook and continue to stir until the white sauce thickens a bit. (The sauce will be smooth and thin, but it thickens the longer it sits.) Cover and heat just before serving.
8. Remove cover and bake for 10 minutes longer.
9. Let lasagna sit for 10 minutes after removing from oven before serving and slicing. Serve on the side the white sauce. I serve it in a gravy boat and tell my guests to pour it over the lasagna the desired amount.
10. Makes about 8 servings. Serve with bread and salad.
ENJOY – Vegetarians everywhere unite for lasagna…..

The first time my dinner guests eyeballed my Vegetable Lasagna with white sauce, the silence was deafening. I could sense their disappointment! I knew most of them were expecting the traditional lasagna; pasta loaded with tomato sauce, not this white stuff. I had prepared a different kind of lasagna with a chicken broth and cream based sauce that the ladies felt might not be a winning combination. One friend actually made a face when I told her to “just try it.” She did, and fell in love; I won everyone over at the first bite….al dente, of course. Yep, they even came back for seconds.

The combination of spinach, tomatoes and onions was what I had to work with at the time. Feel free to experiment with any other vegetables. If I had broccoli I could probably substitute that instead of spinach. Carrots are a little sweet so they can add to the flavor, while zucchini can be somewhat bland so no extra flavor there, however, when sautéed together, they can add a punch of flavor. Hey, it’s also an easy way to get your family to eat more vegetables. As far as the white sauce is concerned, I like a very smooth, light sauce to cover the lasagna. Thick sauces tend to be overbearing so other more subtle flavors risk getting lost.

My co-worker, Victor, and I discuss recipes all the time. He used to be a cook in an Italian restaurant and we really enjoy kicking around new ideas. Victor told me to try the white sauce over the lasagna. I know no fear when it comes to cooking; I’m not afraid to fail even when serving friends. I find that people are so grateful when you cook for them that they don’t care if you never made it before. They don’t mind being guinea pigs! I would love if I was a guest for dinner and someone was trying a new recipe on me and wanted my honest opinion. I would feel very privileged to be included in their taste testing.

I consider myself to be a very unpretentious, easy-going and laid back person, and I believe that this is reflected in my cooking. Baking and cooking are fun to me, and I really can’t imagine losing this joy. After all these years, I still love it! OK, cleaning is another story…….

In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy and explore the world of cooking and baking. I hope you continue to enjoy taking the journey with me!

FRITTATA

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Olive oil
2 medium cooked baked potatoes, cubed
1 cup cooked broccoli, cut into small pieces
1/4 red and 1/4 green pepper, chopped
1 cup Cheddar Cheese, grated
9 eggs
1 tomato, chopped
1/ 2 cup half and half
1/4 cup scallions or onions, chopped
pepper

1. Oven 425 degrees
2. In a 10-inch oven proof casserole dish put olive oil. Place on top of the stove under a low flame. Saute scallions, peppers in olive oil until tender. Add broccoli and potato. Cook everything until hot, stirring well. Dash in some pepper.
3. In a bowl beat eggs with 3/4 cup of half and half.
4. Pour eggs over vegetables. Sprinkle top with grated cheeses. Pour that
1/4 cup of half and half over the cheese.
5. Bake 20 to 30 minutes depending on your oven. Serve warm or hot. For 4 to 6 people.
6. ENJOY – It’s breakfast, it’s lunch. It’s brunch!

Frittata is a one dish wonder; a quiche without the piecrust. Preparing a frittata is definitely the easier option as it can be prepared in a single baking dish…no piecrust involved. For me, it’s all about sautéing my frittata vegetables in my square 10-inch Corning Ware dish on the stove, tossing in a few other ingredients, and then popping it into the oven. Viola!

My house is always buzzing with people, and that’s the way I like it. I also like using leftovers; whether it’s meat, vegetables or pasta, I will find a way to add it to something else. And the frittata is the perfect dish to utilize those leftovers. Take a good look inside your fridge. This morning I discovered 4 pieces of bacon, 10 cherry tomatoes, and one-half cup of cooked spinach. I just added some eggs and cheese and ended up creating an awesome tomato, bacon and spinach frittata. My mood and my leftovers dictate the type of frittata I’ll be serving. Eggs and cheese provide the foundation, with certain cheeses complimenting certain ingredients. Mozzarella is good with tomatoes and veggies such as broccoli, spinach or asparagus. In addition, these vegetables go well with cheddar, Swiss or provolone cheese. The only meats I add to my frittatas, if any, are chicken, bacon or a small amount of salami. In lieu of adding meat to my frittatas, I might choose to serve bacon or breakfast sausages as a side dish.

So, take that peek into your pantry and fridge and create that frittata – your way!