Tag Archives: FRIED

POLISH CHOPPED CHICKEN CUTLETS..KOTLETY POZARSKIE, IN SOURCREAM DIJON AND DILL SAUCE

Often there’s something that “triggers” in a good way my cooking or blogging. These inspirations come from everywhere, including just scrolling through FaceBook. Today a FB friend posted his Polish Grandmother’s obituary. While I’m not Polish I was raised in a Polish neighborhood so all things Polish seem very familiar to me. Reading about this woman’s life and family brought up these “Polish” sentiments. Reminded me of a dish I first had at a Polish deli in Jersey City NJ’s Paulus Hook neighborhood. The dish is called KOTLETY POZARSKIE and it’s amazing. Ground/Chopped Chicken or Veal, sometimes Turkey is mixed with eggs, seasonings, then breaded and fried slowly in butter. Served as is. For a dinner one night I created a “sauce” thinking along Polish flavor lines and came up with a sour cream, Dijon mustard and fresh dill sauce. Really tasty. The genesis of this recipe is actually Russian but it became a popular dish in Polish cuisine. Take your cooking inspiration from the wide world around you, you’ll never get bored in the cooking department. I hope this inspiration is worthy of a Polish grandmother’s praise and memory.

KOTLETY [POZARSKIE FOR: 4 TIME: 1 HOUR 15 MINUTES, APPROX.

3 BONELESS AND TRIMMED CHICKEN BREAST HALVES, CHOPPED IN TO A FINE DICE

2 EGGS SEPARATED

1 KAISER OR HARD ROLL TORN INTO PIECES AND SOAKED IN A LITTLE MILK

1 TBS. SOFTENED BUTTER

1 TBS OF FINELY CHOPPED PARSLEY

PINCH OF MARJORAM

SALT, BLACK PEPPER

2 TBS. SEASONED FLOUR (KOSHER SALT, SWEET PAPRIKA, GRANULATED GARLIC)

1 BEATEN EGG

DRY UNSEASONED BREADCRUMBS

2 TBS BUTTER, 1 TBS CORN OR CANOLA OIL

FOR THE SAUCE

2 TBS OF BUTTER

3 TBS. SOUR CREAM

1 TSP. CHOPPED FRESH DILL

1 TBS. DIJON MUSTARD

SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl beat 2 egg yolks, blend in the butter. Squeeze the milk out of the roll and mix with the eggs yolks and butter, beat the 2 egg whites till stiff and reserve. Blend the chicken with the yolks and bread mixture. Add the parsley, marjoram, salt and pepper to taste. When this is all blended gently add the stiff egg whites. Form into 2 1/2 inch oval patties. If too sticky to work with add a small amount of breadcrumbs. Not too much, just enough to make them easy to form. Chill in the fridge for 10 minutes. Now flour them , dip into beaten eggs, then into the breadcrumbs. Chill for 10 minutes. Using a heavy pan heat the butter and oil. When hot , remove the cutlets from the fridge and fry on medium heat for 5 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. When done with all the cutlets place in an ovenproof dish and place them in the oven for 15 minutes. While they are baking, create a sauce by melting 2 tbs of butter in the pan over low heat, Then add the sour cream and whisk it into the butter, then the Dijon Mustard…whisk till smooth then add the dill , salt and pepper to taste. Remove the Kotlety from the oven and on a platter pour the sauce and arrange the Kotlety on top. Makes about 8 kotlety. What to serve with? Mashed or Boiled potatoes, steamed green peas or sauteed cabbage. HAPPY COOKING!!

PANZAROTTI NAPOLETANI, POTATO CROQUETTES NAPLES STYLE, AS MADE BY MY MOM

PANZAROTTI NAPOLETANI!!  Potato Croquettes made Naples style, Grandma Scaramuzzi and my mom Assunta “Sue”Battaglia’s style could be one of my most favorite foods on Earth!  Grandma Scaramuzzi taught her daughter (my mom) how to make these culinary delights from the city she lived in before she immigrated to Staten Island NYC to marry my grandfather.  Now let’s discuss the word PANZAROTTO/PANZAROTTI (plural) shall we?  In every other part of Italy a Panzarotto is a “pouch” of filled dough.  They are baked or fried and depending on the region will be filled with all sorts of vegetables, cheeses, and meats.  Google PANZAROTTI PUGLIESI and you’ll see what I mean.  But for some reason, and this happens all over Italy one word will have a million different meanings regarding food.  In the language and dialect of Naples Panzarotti means a fried Potato croquette.  Growing up I watched Mom make these and she had a specific way of making them.  First of all they usually were a way of using up leftover mashed potatoes.  Certainly she’d make them on their own as well but NEVER with potatoes cooked the same day.  Something happens to the potatoes when you cook and mash them on day one and on day two form the Panzarotti and fry them.  She had some rules.  Only bits of  diced mozzarella, not too much.  Lots of Pecorino and black pepper in the mix.   Only egg yolks in the mix.  The whites would be for later when breading.  And the breading always PLAIN breadcrumbs, not the Italian Seasoned type.  Are you with me here?  Are you ready to take a stroll down the streets of Napoli and eat the foods that are sold in the Fry shops?  For those who want to be further confused they are also called CROCCHE’ DI PATATE and if you go to Sicily, they are called CAZZILLI where they can be either fried without the breading or with the breading.  Confused yet?  Don’t be…Italian and Italianamerican cuisine has lots of variations, twists and turns.  Whenever I decide to blog a new recipe or a traditional family recipe I do lots of research to see if my family simply creating these rules on their own or if they are following a hallowed ritual.  Happy to report that mostly all the recipes from Napoli I’ve researched dip the floured formed Panzarotti in beaten EGG WHITES and then into PLAIN BREADCRUMBS.  Moral of the story…don’t ever disagree with a Napoletana Mother and Grandmother!!!

PANZAROTTI NAPOLETANA      NAPLES STYLE POTATO CROQUETTES YIELD ABOUT 24

3 LBS RUSSET BAKING POTATOES   PEELED AND CUT INTO QUARTERS

3/4 LB MOZZARELLA DICED SMALL

1/2 TSP. KOSHER SALT

3/4 CUP FRESHLY GRATED PECORINO ROMANO OR PARMIGIANO  (MOM USED THE PECORINO)

1/2 TSP. GROUND BLACK PEPPER

1/4 CUP FINELY MINCED ITALIAN FLAT LEAF PARSLEY

1 WHOLE EGG AND 2 YOLKS, RESERVING THE EGG WHITES FOR BREADING

1 CUP UNSEASONED ITALIAN BREADCRUMBS

1/2 CUP TIPO 00 FLOUR OR 1/2 CUP SIFTED AP UNBLEACHED FLOUR FOR DREDGING

3 CUPS OLIVE OIL, PEANUT OIL, OR CORN OIL   (WE PAN FRY OURS)

First we make the potatoes.  In a large pot filled with well salted water and bring to a GENTLE boil then simmer for at least 15-20 minutes.  Do not overcook.  When a fork easily pierces the potatoes they are done.  Drain the potatoes and place on a FLAT pan in one layer. Let this cool to room temperature, then  cover with foil and refrigerate for no less than 5 hours, preferably overnight.  Trust me.  Then bring them back to room temperature  and mash or rice them.  Beat the whole egg and yolks.  After you’ve mashed the potatoes, add the eggs, the cheeses, parsley, salt and pepper.  Blend well making sure your mixture isn’t too wet or sticky.  If so a little flour will tighten that up, just a little.  Now form the mix into about 24 equal sized panzarotti.  About 3 1/2-4 inches long in the shape of a cylinder.  Place on a baker’s pan lined with parchment.  Loosely cover and chill for 1/2 hour.  Now set up a station of the flour….then the beaten EGG WHITES…then the breadcrumbs.  Gently dredge the croquettes in the flour,, then into the eggs carefully letting the excess drip off, then into the breadcrumbs, make sure they are completely coated.  Line back up on a parchment paper coated tray.  Heat 3 /4 in of oil till it gets to hot, about 350 degrees F or when you place a cube of bread in it the cube sizzles and starts to brown.   Gently add the croquettes no more than 5-6 at a time DO NOT CROWD THE PAN!!!  Use a heavy high sided wide one.  When one side is done, takes about  2 1/2 minutes or less per side, turn gently. When all golden brown you are done.   Transfer to either a cooking rack or lots of paper towels.  Add more oil and wait between batches to let the oil come up to temperature again.  There’s a nice amount of mozzarella in there so you maybe have a little mozzarella burst thru but if you don’t overfry you should be fine.   

Serve them immediately, or you can reheat them when ready to serve uncovered in a hot oven for only a few minutes.  Here’s some other ingredients you can add….Provolone, thin strips or fine dice of sopressata, dry sausage, salami, prosciutto.  If using the cured meats just a small bit will work and the finer you dice/mince the better.  What a treat to have these on their own in a paper cone from  a Friggitori in Naples or on your own table at home.  Now you’ve made NU BELL PANZAROTT o CROCCHE’.  Eat like a Napoletano!!!

SICILIAN CAULIFLOWER AND POTATO CROQUETTES, CAZZILLI DI VRUOCCULI E PATATE

12301481_523460571155581_6765352164488669537_n Italians love fried little bits…fritti…and the fritti come in many forms.  Depending on the region you will often find little street stands or stores that specialize only in Fried Foods. Stop.  I see your eyes rolling.  Life’s too short not to enjoy a fried treat now and then.  The list of Italian fried bits is very long AND delicious but let me introduce you to this one from Sicily.  The CAZZILLO.  Plural, CAZZILLI.  Now pardon my comments here but Sicilians love the bawdy and love things that make you laugh in embarassment.  Cazzo is Italian for the male organ…Cazzilli is Sicilian for, well, a little one LOL.  Are you embarassed and shocked?  The Sicilians have done it again.  Have some fun, life’s too short not to laugh a little.  This dish combines the Sicilians love of a good joke with a few of their favorite foods, potatoes and cauliflower.  VRUOCCULI is actually a type of cauliflower, a little greener than our pure white American Cauliflowers.  This CAZZILLI recipe is a version of the typical Sicilian potato croquette combined with mashed cauliflower.  Sicilians make their potato croquettes either simply rolled in flour and fried OR breaded and fried.  Generally when I’m making a Napoletana style Potato Croquette (Panzarotti) I will bread them. But when making Sicilian ones I don’t bread them.  These Cazzilli have a hefty helping of grated Caciocavallo cheese in them.  Now Caciocavallo is not available everywhere so instead you can use the more accessible Provolone or Pecorino.  See, I”m not going to give you a recipe that you can’t reproduce in your kitchen.  Truth be told most cooks in their homes will use what’s on hand to make a dish so it’s fine to use any one of the three.  Caciocavallo is most Sicilian.  If you have a good cheese store by you see if they carry CACIOCAVALLO RAGUSANO, from Ragusa, Sicily. It’s amazing.   Now here’s a few tips.  Start with leftover or day old Mashed Potatoes.  Many recipes tell you to make it all the same day.  No.  There’s a magic that happens when a cooked starch sits overnight.  Trust me.  ItalianAmerican Moms and Grandmothers would make their versions of Potato croquettes usually with leftover mashed potatoes from the day before’s dinner. Same for RiceBalls (Arancini).  The end result is just better, and they don’t fall apart.  You’ll need 3 cups of mashed potatoes of this recipe.  Steam the cauliflower the day before as well.  One head of cauliflower for 3 cups of mashed potatoes.  When the cauliflower is still warm, mash it well.  set it in a strainer and let it drain overnight.  OR if you have leftover cauliflower, simply mash it.  So those are the starting points for these CAZZILLI.  Let’s get cooking now!!

TIME: 24 hours                   SERVES: 6 (up to 3 per person)

3 cups chilled day-old Mashed Potatoes

1 mashed steamed Cauliflower head

2 beaten eggs

1 1/4 cup grated CACIOCAVALLO or PECORINO or PROVOLONE cheese

2 tbs. All purpose flour

1 tbs. minced flat leaf Italian parsley

salt, fresh ground black pepper

Olive oil for frying

Lemon slices for serving

Simply blend ALL the ingredients and season with salt and lots of black pepper until you can form a small oval shaped croquette, about 2 inches long.  Roll each one in flour, and then chill for 1/2 hour.  In a large heavy high sided pan (pull out the cast iron skillet for this!) Bring 2 inches of  oil to 360 degrees F and start frying the Cazzilli.  DON’T CROWD THE PAN!!! 5-6 at a time works well.   Fry till golden on all sides, takes about 3 minutes per side.  Drain on paper towels.  When done frying transfer to a nice serving platter and garnish with lemon slices.  They are wonderful hot or at room temperature.  Enjoy your CAZZILLI!!! HAPPY COOKING.

FRIED BROCCOLI, BROCCOLI FRITTI

broccolifritti004 There’s a certain aroma and taste to our comfort foods that makes us feel safe.  Loved.  Part of something. Makes us feel OK.  We all have our own comfort foods that give us these needs and they help us when we are happy or sad.  Food has that astonishing quality for us.  When I think of comfort foods i think of many but the foods of my youth are the ones that work best.  ItalianAmericanism means you will have a fair share of things fried in breadcrumbs regardless of what part of Italy your family originally came from.  I’m postitive that my DNA craves fried or toasted breadcrumbs on a regular basis.  Certainly we can’t eat fried foods all the time but as a party food, a starter, a side the dish we will discuss in this post is one of the best in show.  BROCCOLI.  Specifically Breaded Fried Broccoli ItalianAmerican style.  Plenty of ways to fry up delicious cooked broccoli.  The way it was most served up was dipped in flour, then into eggs beaten with Locatelli Pecorino Romano, then into Italian Seasoned  breadcrumbs (Mom used the 4C Brand, and once in a while Colonna or Progresso.  Store sales dictated the purchases.) and then fried till golden on all sides.  Simple.  But they are a 5 star dish with all that flavor and you finish them with a squeeze of Lemon and maybe a sprinkle of peperoncino and more Pecorino.  Can you use Parmigiano-Reggiano? of course.  It’s just a more subtle taste.  I only think they can substitute for each other because they are both Italian Grating cheeses.  I don’t think they  taste even closely similar and I use them in different applications. But that’s just me and my foodcentric OCD at work.  When Mom made this it generally was a “next day” dish using Leftover broccoli.  I’d advise that as well.  Steam the Broccoli on Monday.  Make the Fritti on Tuesday.  Or let them fully cool after steaming and then use but they seem to turn out just right when the broccoli is leftover.

For Broccoli Fritti for 4

  • about 2 lbs of cooked, steamed, cooled or leftover Broccoli Florets
  • 3 eggs beated with 1/2 cup Grated Pecorino Romano
  •  Salt
  •  Black pepper
  • 1 cup  seasoned and sifted all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups Italian Seasoned Breadcrumbs to which you add 1/4 cup of grated pecorino
  •  Olive Oil or Corn Oil for frying
  • 2 lemons, quartered, for serving   
  •   broccolifritti 001          Let’s start cooking the broccoli!!!  Simply dust/dredge the cooked broccoli in the flour, dip into the beated eggs, then coat completely with the breadcrumb mixture.  When this is done place in the fridge for 1/2 hr- 45 minutes.  Get a large cast iron or heavy frying pan, filled 1/4 inch with the oil. When a small cube of bread sizzles and browns in it, your oil is ready.  Remove the Broccoli from the fridge.  and without crowding add the broccoli to the pan (GENTLY GENTLY ) or as they say in Italian.. Piano Piano!! and since the broccoli is already cooked, once one side is nicely browned, turn and do the same.  Don’t overcook….burnt breadcrumbs will ruin and dish and foul the oil.  Remove to paper towels on trays to drain.  Add more oil if necessary and remember to always LET IT COME BACK TO FRYING TEMPERATURE before you add the next batch… Cook these in batches.  When complete sprinkle the broccoli fritti with a little salt, pecorino and lemon juice and wedges.     Great for parties too because you can cook them ahead of time and either serve at room temperature or gently reheating in the oven.  Thanks for letting me into your kitchens as it’s my honor to share my recipes with you.  HAPPY COOKING!!!           

FRITTATINE, “SPAGHETTI CROQUETTES” FROM NAPLES, ITALY

frittatine-010Back to Naples for some inspiration and ideas, there is just so much there to choose from that become magic and a feast in your kitchen and dining room.  FRITTATINE is one of those glories of the CUCINA NAPOLETANA.  Basically it is a SPAGHETTI or MACARONI CROQUETTE, the cooked pasta is bound with a BESCIAMELLA Sauce, cheeses, enhanced with vegetables and cured meats, then formed and coated in a light batter and fried. Many versions add a bread crumb coating over the batter.  My version is the breadcrumbed one. Why?  Because anything fried in breadcrumbs usually rocks and it’s SO GOOD with this creamy molten center that you’ll agree after one bite to continue to use the breadcrumb version.  Some background on this treat—-I’m always talking about my strong Napoletana heritage as it’s the city where my maternal grandmother lived for 10 years of her life, from 10 to 20.  The New York City region is heavily influenced in it’s ItalianAmerican culture by the immigrant Napoletani culture and foods, take spaghetti, take Pizza, take Sausage and Peppers, take Mozzarella, take Zeppole…you get the idea. However, FRITTATINE never really made that leap across the Atlantic like many other Napoletana dishes did.  Strange.  Now Potato Croquettes (or as the Napoletane called them PANZAROTTI) definitely made the jump, think of all the restaurants that serve them as a side dish, or how many of our own kitchens recreate that treat.  FRITTATINE? Never heard of them.  Apparently I missed them on a trip to Naples as they are one of the most beloved and popular FRIED SNACKS in the Napoletana Fry shops known as FRIGGITORIE, the best places to sample Naples’ famous street food.  One night in NYC at one of the the new wave of Pizzerias to hit the US, the PIZZERIE NAPOLETANE, pizzerias that adhere to a prescribed formula for making the unique Pizza Napoletana (of which the American NYC Pizza is based on) I encountered FRITTATINE.  Don Antonio by Starita in Manhattan is a palace of simple Napoletana foods and pizza.  A host of other pizzerie have opened in the last 7 years that follow the same certified formula.  I ordered the FRITTATINE and was in love.  Absolutely love croquettes and this creamy macaroni version made me swoon.Of course I needed to recreate them in my own kitchen and here we are.frittatine-008 Aren’t they beautiful?  They taste as good as they look.  Ones containing prosciutto cotto and peas, provolone and spaghetti or bucatini are the most popular.  This is one of those recipes where, AS LONG AS YOU STAY WITHIN WHAT WOULD ORGANICALLY FIT INTO THE RECIPE, you have some wiggle room. Fine dice of cured italian meats….italian greens….italian cheeses…..that’s what’s allowable.  I used Finely chopped chard and sopressata in mine.  Spinach works too.  Provolone, Caciocavallo, Scamorza, PrimoSale, Parmigiano, Mozzarella, Pecorino, Asiago some of the cheeses that work in this.   No balsamic vinegar, sun dried tomatoes, or gorzonzola please, and no chicken.  please. no chicken. One more rule..lol…No dipping sauce.  No side of Marinara.  They are rich and creamy and full of complex textures and flavors..no dipping sauce.  Overkill.  Let’s now fly over to sunny NAPOLI or just stay in your own kitchen and COOK WITH ME!  Time to make the FRITTATINE, translates as small fried things, or Fried Pasta Cakes.  Frittatine sounds best. FREE-TAH-TEEH-NAY.

MAKES: about 20 2 inch Frittatine                                       TIME: cooking and prep: 3 hours

10 tbsp. UNSALTED BUTTER
1 12 cups TIPO 00 FLOUR, or SIFTED ALL PURPOSE FLOUR
4 1/2  cups WHOLE MILK
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 lb. DRIED  IMPORTED FROM ITALY SPAGHETTI OR BUCATINI
4 oz. PROSCIUTTO COTTO, or SALAME or SOPRASSATA, finely diced
8 oz. SMALL DICE OF PROVOLONE, or MOZZARELLA, or SMOKED MOZZARELLA
1/4 CUP FINE CHOPPED BLANCHED SPINACH OR SWISS CHARD, or COOKED PEAS
3 TBS. PARMIGIANO REGGIANO GRATED

 1/8 TSP. FRESHLY GRATED NUTMEG
OLIVE OIL FOR FRYING (or CANOLA, or VEGETABLE, or PEANUT)

2 cups UNSEASONED ITALIAN BREADCRUMBS

Gently melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add 1/2 cup of the flour and while stirring cook for 2 minutes.  Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil, gently whisking (gently or you will splatter the hot milk/flour everywhere).  Once it’s boiling reduce to a simmer and let it cook until thickened, takes about 5 minutes.  Make sure to frequently stir so the flour doesn’t collect on the bottom and scorch.  Now set this aside, cover the pan with plastic wrap.
If using Spaghetti or Bucatini, break them half. Cook the pasta you are using just till al dente according to the package directions.  Drain and shake well to make sure all the water evaporates.  Add all the other ingredients except for the besciamella sauce and the breadcrumbs. Mix with the cooked pasta.  Now pour the sauce over it and mix well.  Press the mixture into a lightly greased baking pan and cover with plastic wrap.  Keep in the Refrigerator for no less than one and 1/2 hours.frittatine-001frittatine-002frittatine-005 You can use a 2 inch round cutter OR do what I did, and hand form about 20 of these frittatine.  Once they are are formed, place back into the fridge for 10 minutes.
 Make the batter by Whisking 1 cup of flours with 1 cup of water to make a batter.  Set aside.  Pull the Frittatine out of the fridge and dip first into the batter, then into the plain breadcrumbs. Line on parchment paper over trays till they are all coated.  Heat a heavy pan or saucepan with 2 1/2 inches of your oil until the thermometer reads 325 degrees F.  Now gently add a few of the frittatine at a time into the pan.  Fry till golden on each side.frittatine-006

When they are golden on both sides and somewhat firm to the touch, drain on paper towels or paper bags or racks.  SERVE immediately..you want them to be very creamy.  frittatine-007

Serve with an Arugula Salad with parmigiano, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and lots of fresh lemon juice.

frittatine-009Seriously, how good do they look???  Make them even smaller for a party appetizer or passed hors d’ouevres.  Just break up the pasta smaller or use small pasta for it

What fun it is to cook with you…..can’t wait to see your FRITTATINE!! BUONA CUCINA!!!

POTATOES AND EGGS, ITALIAN AMERICAN COMFORT FOOD

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Today we go back to Italian-American cuisine, that oftimes misunderstood, sometimes terribly gone bad cuisine that is the evolution of Immigrant Italian’s cuisine with their new country, America.  Let me first say that most of the offensive forms of Italian-American cuisine are created in the corporate board rooms and kitchens of large U.S. corporations.   Red Bell Peppers are not part of a Sunday Tomato Sauce for pasta,  here or in Italy. What seems to have happened is that a single ingredient that IS part of Italian cooking gets thrown into everything that a corporate type or misinformed American thinks SHOULD make a dish Italian. Like that completely un-Italian dried mess known as “ITALIAN SEASONING”.423047_2817814366881_1304531591_32126981_153248436_n  The ONLY thing ITALIAN about that mixture is the word ITALIAN on the label, after that, it’s an AMERICAN convenience food idea of what constitutes a mix of herbs used in Italian cuisine.  Rarely will Italian cooking contain a mess of more than 2 herbs, and with the exception of dried Oregano, dried herbs are NOT used in Italian cooking.  Dried Oregano yes, that’s authentically Italian, fresh is hardly ever used, it’s a more modern addition to recipes if you see it.  Dried Rosemary, Basil (NEVER!), Tarragon, Savory, whatever else they blend together in those spice factories is not Italian.  Rant over. It’s 2015, most people live near big supermarkets which carry fresh herbs, all the time. Seek them out rather than a dried mess in a very non-Italian blend.  The number one way you produce outstanding dishes starts with the raw materials/ingredients.  So speaking of ingredients this brings us to the point of this blog..POTATOES AND EGGS, a frittata, scrambled egg-ish mix of cooked fried potatoes, beaten eggs, with only a few other ingredients added. Traditionally this is tucked into a good Italian hero roll or Italian bread, or can be eaten on it’s own.  It’s Italian-American comfort food.  Clearly it’s the evolution of a simple frittata from Italy.  The quality of this dish comes from the quality of the ingredients.  Start with the best eggs you can find (at the risk of sounding like Ina Garten’s teleprompter).  Eggs should not cost 1.87 @ dozen.  Cage Free, Organic, these are some labels you should be looking for when purchasing eggs.  Best?  Farm fresh, but seriously expounding that notion is quite romantic but ridiculously impractical.  If there’s a local farmers market where you can access those types of egg that’s perfect.   548528_2971219081903_1304531591_32189688_1417227459_n  So that’s living ina perfect world for buying your ingredients.  Not practical though, so seek out what are the best in the market you are going to.

POTATOES AND EGGS, A FOOD OBSESSION’S VERSION

SERVES: 4                                           TIME:  20 MINUTES

2 PEELED AND DICED BAKING POTATOES,COOKED IN SALTED WATER TILL  JUST ABOUT TENDER, DRAINED AND COOLED.

8 FRESH EGGS, CRACKED INTO A BOWL

GROUND BLACK PEPPER or PEPERONCINO

KOSHER SALT

3 TBS. GRATED PECORINO ROMANO

2 TBS. GOOD OLIVE OIL

In a non stick frying pan heat 1 tbs. of the olive oil and pan fry the potatoes, sprinkling about 1/8 tsp of salt over the potatoes.  Fry them until the are just light golden brown on both sides.  While the potatoes are frying beat the eggs with the cheese and 1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper or a pinch of Peperoncino NOT BOTH!!.  Add  additional tsp. of olive oil to the pan when the potatoes are done and swirl the new oil in the pan gently around.  Now pour the egg mixture over the potatoes.  When the sides have started to set leave the pan on medium heat and in 3minutes, with a rubber spatula, check the bottom of the eggs to see if they are not only set but lightly browned.  Slide the eggs onto a plate, cooked side down. Then invert the plate over the pan and slide it back into the pan..cooked side up remember.  Let this cook for no more than 3 minutes.  If using a flameproof pan, you can run the eggs under a broiler for 2 minutes and skip the “inversion” process.   When it’s done simply slide back onto the plate and cut in quarters to serve.

Did I just hear someone say…”What about the onions?””What about the peppers or mozzarella???””No herbs??”  Here’s the deal.  ALWAYS learn the basic version first.  This is how it was done originally, then the bits and pieces from the fridge started to show up..maybe cooked onions, or peppers, or both.. (Peppers and Eggs is another distinct dish from the same school) bits of salami, mozzarella, scamorza, swiss, ricotta, oregano, parsley, zucchini, etc. all found there way into this delicious mix.  Try the basic to start.  Add it to some good Italian bread for an awesome sangwich. I sprinkle some Peperoncino and a little Pecorino over it..do that, or not..up to you. Simple. Basic.  Italian.  Try this out and tell me how you like it!!

In the lead picture I added some fresh picked oregano for color to make LA BELLA FIGURA for a nice shot.  A little chopped fresh oregano is very tasty on this. Since I make this basic and with fridge additions as well, the day I decided to snap a shot of the dish, i had some cut onion in the fridge so it went into the potatoes and oil. I’ll leave that all up to you.

 

ITALIAN-AMERICAN SHRIMP BALLS ALLA LITTLE CHARLIES CLAM BAR, NYC

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  These are Shrimp balls  (ok, stop your lol’ing) and you will want to eat these balls.  Period, end of story.  Tasty morsels of everything that’s good in an Italian-American kitchen and more, it’s SEAFOOD!  And like with all little fried tidbits they are great for entertaining or as a first course.  Now let me tell you about these particular ones, first of all they are not my idea, they are a creation (although probably not unique) of a now extinct Italian-American Clam bar restaurant on Kenmare Street in the old Little Italy section of Manhattan, NYC.  It’s name was LITTLE CHARLIE’S CLAM BAR and it was famous. I know, everywhere is famous, but this place was.  It was pure Goodfellas with a touch of Rat Pack and Godfather and Pope of Greenwich Village thrown in for added effect.  Call it a “Red Sauce” joint if you want (I don’t want, I hate that term) with seafood as it’s specialty.  Little Italy seafood restaurants were /are a subset of all other seafood places.  They of course have the requisite Raw Bar, but they also have this Napoletana influenced fried seafood assortment.  Shrimp and calamari are lightly dusted in flour, quick fried, then placed in a platter, a FRISELLE (hard Italian Black Pepper Biscuit) on the bottom, and your choice of 3 sauces..these hard core garlic laden tomato sauces which come in varying degrees of heat. Sweet, Medium, or Hot.  Get your choices straight or you are in for trouble. The sauce is then poured over the top with lemon on the side and this is the stuff Italian-American food dreams are made of.  This is a picture of Little Charlie’s which closed about 5 years ago. The name is still up there but it’s not the restaurant it was:461044384_b40cc290fe  The cooks and chefs walked over the Manhattan Bridge and resettled in hipster trendy central, Williamsburg, Brooklyn and opened Desy’s Clam Bar.  You can find some of the old flavors there including these SHRIMP BALLS which when we used to order out or in at Little Charlie’s we would get extra.  They are that good.

MAKES: ABOUT 20-25 SHRIMP BALLS                                      TIME: 1 1/2 HOURS

1 1/2 LB CLEANED, DEVEINED MEDIUM SHRIMP (DO NOT USE LARGE OR JUMBO BECAUSE IT’S A SHAME TO CHOP THEM  UP), THEN CHOP THEM INTO SMALL PIECES

1 1/8 CUP PLAIN ITALIAN BREADCRUMBS

2 TBS. OLIVE OIL

JUICE OF ONE LEMON

3 FINELY MINCED (ALMOST INTO A PASTE) CLOVES OF GARLIC

3 TBS. CHOPPED FLAT LEAF ITALIAN PARSLEY

1/2 TSP. PEPERONCINO (LESS IF YOU ARE NOT A FAN OF THAT SPICY KICK)

1 TBS. WHITE WINE

2 BEATEN EGGS

1/8 CUP GRATED PECORINO ROMANO

1/2 TSP. DRIED OREGANO RUBBED BETWEEN YOUR HANDS

First mix all the dry ingredients.  Then add the eggs, oil, lemon juice then the shrimp.  Blend well.  Form as many golf ball sized Shrimp balls as you can.  Place on a baking sheet you have covered with a piece of waxed paper then loosely cover and chill them in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour.

In a heavy skillet add 1/2inch of olive oil.  Bring up the heat and fry the balls off till nicely browned on all sides.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Aren’t they beautiful??  And they taste even better than they look. This process should take no more and 8-10 minutes but LET YOUR EYE BE YOUR GUIDE!!!  A recipe is a guide which sometimes needs adjusting.  You may follow my instructions but have your heat too high, or too low and it will affect the final product.  You want to make sure that the balls are cooked through and no more.  Cook  in batches and drain on Brown paper bags or paper towels.

THE SAUCE:

This is important…it’s what makes something “Little Italy” style in my eyes.  It’s not a Marinara or Sugo di Pomodoro that you generally have with a vast array of pastas or using as a dipping sauce.  One day I’ll find out the genesis of this sauce and be very happy with that knowledge. Till then, just make it, it’s intrinsic to the dish.

You will notice my departure from the San Marzanos. SHOCKING! Here’s why, this is a thick sauce and I’m thinking that this sauce may have been devised in the kitchens of early immigrant Italian cooks to the U.S. Tomato puree and paste are best for this.

1 can Tomato Puree

1 can tomato paste

5 (yes~another reason I think the sauce is a made in  America version of an Italian sauce) CLOVES OF SLICED GARLIC

3 TBS OLIVE OIL

1/4 TSP PEPERONCINO for a SWEET version

1 TSP. PEPERONCINO FOR the MEDIUM version

2 TBS.PEPERONCINO FOR the HOT version

2 tbs. WHITE WINE

SALT, PEPPER

Pay attention to those amounts…you will kill your dish if you don’t pick which heat intensity you are comfortable with.  the Hot version is REALLY hot.

In a heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil..then add the Peperoncino right into the oil..this is going to carry that heat and chile flavor through the finished sauce.  Now add the garlic and let this sizzle JUST until it starts to get golden…work quickly here..then add the wine  and then the tomato paste.  Mix in the paste with the hot oil (at this point lower the heat a bit) and cook for 2 minutes, stirring while you wait.  Then add the tomatoes and 1/2 can of water (using the tomato puree can). Salt and Pepper to taste. Stir well then bring to a boil. Now lover the heat to a simmer and let this cook until it’s about 1/2 reduced.  This should take about 1 hour 15 minutes.  Just keep on low(simmer) and keep stirring.  It’s a hot, spicy, deep colored sauce.   Serve the sauce over the balls or in a small bowl for dipping.

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There’s a bit of dried oregano in the sauce, but that’s  not a good garnish.  Instead I’m using fresh oregano sprigs from my garden.  A note on garnishing, always use something that’s an ingredient in the dish (flowers are exempt from this rule).  Now you must be saying, there’s dried oregano in the sauce and fresh as the garnish. WHAT the hell???  It’s the same herb,yes different tastes but it looks good without throwing you off.  Don’t like that logic?  LOL…sorry, pull up a chair , squeeze some lemon over the balls and dip into that sauce.

By the way I didn’t miss the step where you bread the balls…they do not get breaded.

MOZZARELLA EN CARROZZA, ANOTHER GIFT FROM NAPLES..FRIED MOZZARELLA TRIANGLE SANDWICHES

MOZZARELLA EN CARROZZA

 

 

  Let me take you all back to Naples, or Naples via my Grandmother and Mother’s kitchens with one of the most delicious of all “spuntini (snacks)” the famous MOZZARELLA EN CARROZZA.  It literally means Mozzarella in a Carriage because of how the bread holds the cheese inbetween it’s egg battered and fried pieces.  This dish is butchered so often with lots of extra ingredients or, for me, adding breadcrumbs to the coating.  I love breadcrumbs on anything and everything but this is not supposed to be that way.. Why?  Who knows, I’ll blame my Napoletana Grandmother who would refer to these morsels as the good grilled cheese (although she did say grilla cheese).  It’s a simple snack or lite course that need not be fussed with, ok, sometimes a little piece of anchovy goes into the center, or a thin slice of salami or prosciutto or prosciutto cotto (cooked ham) but to experience a food as it was intended..Who says it was intended?  Research and my Grandmother..two very good sources.  As always, I ask you to try the recipe as I’m giving it to you then you can branch out to change it with whatever you think you want, but at least give the as close to the authentic (because we REALLY can’t say that for sure) as possible.  It’s always good to do that with whatever recipe you are following for something.

One warning, and I will argue this with any Italian cook if I have to!…If using a fresh mozzarella do not use it on day one.  It will release water into the bread and give you a quite soggy product and send liquid into the frying pan..that mean splattering oil.  A mess. A good brand of low moisture block mozzarella or day old fresh will give you your best carrozza.  Another thing, keep the thickness down to a minumum so it fully melts while frying (no you cannot make this in a crockpot, just saying).  LET’S COOK!!

for 8 TRIANGLES                       TIME: 20 minutes or so

8 SLICES OF FIRM WHITE AMERICAN BREAD  OR SANDWICH BREAD,CRUSTS CUT OFF

1 LB MOZZARELLA, IF USING FRESH, DAY OLD…OR USE A GOOD LOW MOISTURE BLOCK STYLE LIKE POLLY-O OR GALBANI SLICED INTO 1/4 SLICES

HANDFUL OF CHOPPED ITALIAN FLAT LEAF PARSLEY (OPTIONAL)

1/4 CUP GRATED PECORINO ROMANO

1/2 TSP FRESH GROUND BLACK PEPPER

PINCH OF KOSHER SALT

4 LARGE EGGS, WELL BEATEN

1 TBS WHOLE MILK

3 tbs. UNBLEACHED FLOUR

OLIVE OIL FOR FRYING

Beat the eggs with the milk then add the pepper, cheese, salt and parsley. Make sure it’s well blended or you will have patches of eggwhites on your Carrozza.  They need to be golden colored.

Between 2 pieces of the bread add 2 slices or enough to thoroughly cover the surface of the bread.  Slice the bread on a diagonal and dip the bread into the flour and coat all sides (this is to help seal the cheese inside).  In a wide pan heat 2 tbs of olive oil until a drop of the egg mixture dances around in it when added to the pan.  Now gently dip the triangle into the egg..let it sit for a 30 seconds, then do the other side  letting exscess run off then into the pan.  Do this only until you have 4 in the pan.  Crowding will reduce the heat, more oil will be soaked and flipping them will be a royal nightmare.  Keep the flame on medium giving the egg a chance to cook, the filling a chance to melt and don’t burn it whatever you do.  Burnt eggs are nasty.  Drain on paper towels. Continue with the next batch. Make sure you lightly top tent the platter with foil and keep in a very low oven.  Add more oil if neccessary.

Now what to do with our little mozzarella en carozza besides eating them…??  Well, here in the USA a bowl of dipping sauce seems to come with everything.  Marinara is the usual suspect here.  For me, and for Napoletana’s in Naples there is no dipping sauce.  Must we dip everything?  A Little bit of pecorino…a little fresh lemon, or just nothing.  Sometimes they are served with a butter, wine, and anchovy sauce but that really goes with Carrozza’s slightly more northern cousin, Spiedini Alla Romana, which may have nothing to do with Rome and everything to do with Naples.  Fact check and research for another time.    For now we will stick with  Mozzarella en Carrozza.  So simple, so good.

Serving suggestion…along with a lemon, olive oil and arugula salad.  What a meal!!!  Can be made ahead of time and gently reheated.