I know that I call this Good Dinner Mrs. Mellen and as I’ve been reminded I haven’t shared much dinner. I have been spending most of my time in my gardens, that has been my focus this spring.
As much a I love to garden,I do love to cook and entertain. I learned to cook and appreciate good food from my Mother and Grandmother. I have fond memories of growing up sharing wonderful meals with my extended family. My Grandmother made everything from scratch including growing the herbs, garlic and plum tomatoes for her sauce. Yes in my Italian family we call it sauce not gravy.(Gravy is what you made from turkey and beef). My Grandmother made the most wonderful meals without recipes, fancy tools or gadgets, just the best ingredients and some simple kitchen tools. She didn’t even measure her ingredients she just knew how much by sight. Everything that she made was just delicious, even a simple cheese sandwich was heaven to taste. My Mother carried on this tradition of being an exceptional cook and we all love to eat at her home. I must confess that no matter how many times or how hard I try my turkey never comes close to my mother. Her Turkey rules! Later I will share some of her secret to the most tender, moist turkey.
My Grandmother and Mother always cooked with feeling and intuition, just knowing how to combine the right ingredients that make a simple dish outstanding. I can only aspire to continue the traditions I learned from these two outstanding cooks!
Cooking is not hard, if you can read you can cook. But to be a very good cook you have to practice and enjoy cooking. It’s like anything, sports, work, etc, the more you do the better you become. And leave your fear, intimidation and trepidation at the kitchen door. Have fun and enjoy. Cooking is easy, we're not talking brain surgery. Think of making a meal as a wonderful gift you are sharing with your family and guests.
My Mother makes a wonderful, easy one pot meal that everyone loves in my family. I have served it many times over the years to family and friends. We call it Mom-Mom's Italian Pot Roast. It can be a family Sunday dinner or you can add some courses for a dinner for company. For a Sunday dinner I would just serve Italian Pot Roast with a nice tossed salad of field greens, tomatoes, kalamata olives, croutons tossed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar or with Our Favorite Dressing (www.ourfavoritedressing.com)and a loaf of good bread. To make the meal more elegant for company you could do an antipasta first course. I like to serve for my antipasta, a home made olive tapenade, assortment of olives, provolone cheese, dipping olive oil,prosciutto and bread. I'd still serve a nice light salad(I love salad and always serve salad with dinner). Finish off this meal with gelato and a nice homemade biscotti. (you can also purchase biscotti) or fresh mellon.
When your done you have a very simple to make yet delicious meal, that can be dressed up for company!
1 CUP OF PITTED KALAMATA OLIVES
1 CLOVE OF CHOPPED GARLIC
1 TBSP RINSED CHOPPED CAPERS
1 TSP FRESH LEMON JUICE
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Refrigerate until serving and can be kept refrigerated up to two weeks. Serve with bread or crackers.
Mom Mom's Italian Pot Roast
4 LB. RUMP BEEF ROAST or EYE ROAST (I use an Eye Roast)
3 TABLESPOON OF OLIVE OIL
1 GARLIC CLOVE, thinly sliced
1 CUP OF CHOPPED CARROTS (I use baby carrots)
1 CUP OF CHOPPED ONIONS
1 CUP OF TOMATO SAUCE or CRUSHED CANNED TOMATO
2 CUPS OF DRY RED WINE
2 BAY LEAVES
SALT TO TASTE
1/2 TEASPOON OF THYME
1/2 TEASPOON OF ROSEMARY
1/2 TEASPOON OF NUTMEG
1 LBS PENNA PASTA (you can use any kind this is just what I use)
CUT SLITS IN BEEF AND INSERT SLICED GARLIC into slits
BROWN BEEF ON BOTH SIDES
ADD ONION AND CARROTS SAUTE FOR 2 OR 3 MINUTES
ADD WINE AND SIMMER FOR A FEW MINUTES
ADD TOMATO SAUCE AND SEASONINGS
COOK(LOW HEAT) UNTIL BEEF IS TENDER ABOUT 30 MINUTES
Remove beef. IF SAUCE IS THIN MIX 2 TABLESPOON OF FLOUR with 1/2 CUP WATER. Add to SAUCE TO THICKEN
POUR SAUCE OVER PASTA
Slice beef and arrange over pasta
Serve with fresh graded Parmesan cheese.
Helen Anise Biscotti
2 1/2 CUPS FLOUR
1 CUP SUGAR
4 TBSP BUTTER(I like unsalted butter for baking)
1 TBSP ANISE SEEDS, CRUSHED OR I PREFER 1/2 TSP OF ANISE OIL
2 TSP BAKING POWDER
1/4 TSP SALT
3 LARGE EGGS
In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of flour and remaining ingredients. With the mixer on a low speed, beat until just mixed, then increase speed to medium and beat 3 minutes. With a spoon stir in the remaining flour. Wrap dough with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1 hour until firm, or place in freezer for 30 minutes.
Preheat over to 375. Grease large cookie sheet. Divide dough in half. On well floured surface, shape each half into a 10 by 3 inch loaf. Place both loves, 2 inches apart on cookie Bake 20 minutes
Remove cookie sheet from oven immediately slice each loaf crosswise into 3/4 inch thick slices. place slices cut side down, on the same cookie sheet. Return to over and bake cookies 5 minutes longer until light golden. Cool cookies on wire rack. Store in tightly cover container.
You can after the cookies are cooled dip ends in melted chocolate, white or dark or just serve plain.
I hope you enjoy these recipes. Have fun making them. Add your own personal touch, maybe you like to add more of one seasoning or omit something that you don’t like. Remember no fear, what’s the worst that could happen, it doesn’t turn out like you want, then try something else. Many times I cooked something that I thought sounded delicious and it wasn’t. Oh and don’t blame yourself. I learned that recipes in magazines and cook books aren’t always good and I do believe that the some recipes are not tested to see if they taste good or that the recipe turns out as pictured or stated.
Enjoy and share your successes with me.
As my Grandmother always said Mangia, Mangia!