Grilled Pizza

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Grilled pizzas! I used the recipe from The Best Bread Ever. Sauce was a simple can of Tutorosso chopped tomatoes. The crust was perfect: light,  crisp,  and with a slight smoky flavor you just can’t get from an oven.

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Pasta e Fagioli

My dad’s Americanization of this recipe always makes me laugh: “Pasta Fazzu”. It really is his favorite, and even though as a kid I didn’t like it, I always liked when mom made it because it smelled so great.

Here’s the recipe, as my mom sent it to me recently.

Also note – if you are going to use pasta in this recipe rather than bread – cook that pasta separately and add it in as you plate the soup, otherwise the noodles will absorb all  of the liquid.

Glad you have time to edit my recipes…this one in particular is daddy’s favorite soup and I learned it from Grandma just the way it is…I will tell you that you can add spinach, also purée half of the beans to add creaminess to the soup…

Here it goes: You have the picture of all the ingredients…you should add lots of grated Parmesan cheese to that.

Remove the casing from one link of Italian sausage – could be hot or mild, as you prefer.

Brown the sausage in one tbsp. of olive oil, breaking it down to small pieces as it cooks.

Once browned add the whole can of chopped tomatoes, one can of water, the sliced or chopped onions, the cut up celery stick in bite size, the red pepper to your taste and the chicken bullion.

Bring it all to a boil, cover it and let it simmer for 20 minutes.

Now add the can of cannellini beans, the whole garlic clove smashed with the back of your hand and the bay leaves. Continue cooking the soup for another 25 min.

Remove from the burner and wait about 10 min before eating.

This soup is even better the next day. As far as pasta, I like to use the small shells but even broken up spaghetti will work. This time, since I had home made bread I served the soup with croutons cooked in butter, parsley and garlic salt to taste.

Serve into a bowl, dress with lots of Parmesan cheese and enjoy.

Zuppa di Pasta e Fagioli Ingredients for Pasta e Fagioli

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Cestini con Pecans

Continuing the best of “nonna’s cookies” recipes today. Here we have the recipe for “cestini con picanz”. I don’t have a picture of them – but basically they’re little cups of gooey pecan deliciousness. Almost like pecan pie bites. But less gelatinous and more nutty.

Interesting thing: the dough here is a bit savory. It could probably be filled with anything.

Ingredients and Preparation

There are two main parts to this recipe: making the dough and making the filling.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. Prepare the dough.
  3. Prepare the filling.
  4. Fill the cups of a mini-cupcake pan with the dough. Make sure that the dough is as thin as possible.
  5. Fill the dough-lined cups with the filling.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes.
  7. Top with powdered sugar.

Dough ingredients and preparation

  • 6 ounces of softened cream cheese
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 2 cups of flour
  1. Mix the ingredients together until well blended.

Filling ingredients and preparation

  • 1 cup of finely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. melted butter
  1. Mix ingredients well.
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Italian Almond Cookies

My grandmother used to make these for me. She called them “kiss cookies”. They’re basically nut-flour cookies, akin to danish wedding cookies – you know, those little powdered-sugar bombs.

The ingredients are accurate but the technique is something which will take a few tries to master.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 sticks of butter, softened
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup of very finely chopped almonds
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp. water

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Mix everything well – dry ingredients first; then pour in wet.
  3. Use 1tbsp. spoon of dough to form a small crescent shape – think the size of  your pinky finger when curled.
  4. Bake for about 15 minutes until firm; they should not be too brown. This is a very dry dough and will become crumbly if you bake them too long.

 

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Bruschetta!

Today I present to you three toppings for dry, crusty bread. Also known as bruschetta, these delicious morsels are great party snacks, and can be made days in advance. In fact, they are generally better when allowed to sit and mellow for a while before being served.

Tomato topping for bruschetta

  • 6 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 small onion chapped
  • 1 garlic clove chopped
  • 3 basil leaves chopped or use scissors to cut in very small pieces
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • olive oil as needed

Mix all of the above except the salt and place in the fridge even the day before serving. When ready add the salt and top what ever bread you like to use.

Olive spread for bruschetta

  • 1/2 lb of pitted Kalamata olives
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons coarse-grained Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh sage
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

Finely chop black olives and 3 tablespoons tasted walnuts in processor. Add olive oil, dijon mustard, garlic, thyme, oregano, sage, and cayen pepper and process until coarsely pureed. Stir in remaining 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts. (Spread can be prepared up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated)

Pepper topping for bruschetta

  • 1 large green, red and yellow peppers
  • 1 clove of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp of parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp of capers
  • olive oil

Roast peppers in the oven @500 – you want to blacken the skin – making sure you turn them while cooking. Place the roasted peppers in a covered bowl and allow to cool. Once cooled, remove the skin and cut into fine strips. Place the remaining ingredients and stir well. Top your favorite bread…

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Pizza Rustica

A traditional Easter dish, but my family likes to make it during the holidays. It’s typically gone before it completely cools, but it’s good cold too. Also, be sure to refrigerate it, since it’s full of meat, cheese, and eggs.

You will need a package of pastry dough, follow the package directions for handling. I use Pepperidge Farm.

  • 1 package (2 sheets) of pastry dough – rectangle shaped, not circle
  • 1 lb. of ricotta cheese (not the fat-free crap)
  • 1 thick slice of smoked ham (diced in small pieces, about 1/2 pound)
  • 1 thick slice of Genoa salami (diced in small pieces, about 1/2 pound)
  • 1 lb of mozzarella cubed small or grated
  • pepper (I like it to taste peppery)
  • 1 cup of parmesan cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 a stick of butter

Simple prep and cooking – takes less than an hour total. Note that in no step here do you add salt – it’s typically not necessary with all of the cold-cuts and parmesan.

  1. Roll out the pastry sheet on a floured work surface. Roll it out so that it fits into the 13×9 lasagna pan and flops over the edges no more than 1/2″ or so. Line the lasagna pan with the pastry sheet you just rolled out, saving the other sheet for the top.
  2. Mix up the ricotta, meats, mozzarella, and parmesan in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Scramble the eggs in a separate bowl.
  4. Mix the scrambled eggs into the large mixing bowl with the rest of the ingredients.
  5. Dump the contents of the bowl into the baking dish lined with the pastry.
  6. Roll out the second pastry sheet so it’s large enough to fit over the contents of the lasagna pan.
  7. Put the second pastry sheet on top of the pizza. Crimp the edges from the bottom sheet onto the top. Feel free to cut off any excess so you don’t have super doughy edges, unless you like that sort of thing.
  8. Pierce the top with a knife about a dozen times.
  9. Melt the butter in the microwave. Brush the butter over the top of the pastry sheet. You could also use a milk or egg wash if you like.
  10. Bake on the bottom of a 375-degree oven for 20 minutes, then move it up to the top shelf and bake it for another 10 minutes.

These are the pastry sheets I use:

This is what the finished product looks like:

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Good But Cheap Recipes (for a College Student)

Okay, so I am definitely late to this party, but this is something I want to keep around because of its value – lots of fresh ideas (for me) and thinking. All recipe books should be this simple. Thanks go to Erazuu for compiling the document from a thread posted by a hungry college student seeking help from redditors.

By the way, the techniques and recipes in here are helpful not just for college students, but also for young families, yuppies, retirees, etc. Anyone who’s interested in living frugally and eating well.

Enjoy this cookbook: Good but Cheap Recipes for College Students.

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Buttermilk Biscuits

Simple, easy buttermilk biscuits that almost always come out perfect, and take almost no time to make.

  • 2 cups white all purpose flour (not self rising)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup of buttermillk
  • 5 tbsp butter (yes, butter)

So this is the simple prep:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 F.
  2. Blend the butter into the flour using one of your favorite techniques, including mashing it all together with two butter knives. I have found that the paddle attachment of my stand mixer does a decent job.
  3. Into the flour + butter mixture, add the baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Into the dry ingredients, add the buttermilk and stir/mix until a wet ball of dough forms.
  5. At this point you need to add more buttermilk if the mix is too dry or more flour if it’s too wet.
  6. Take some additional flour (above the initial 2 cups) and put a bunch of it on the work area, leaving a nicely floured surface.
  7. Dump the wet ball of dough out onto the floured working surface and knead it for no more than a minute. This will be difficult because the dough is wet, so you’ll end up just folding it over onto itself a few times.
  8. Roll it into a generally even thickness of about 1/2″ thick and use a glass (or biscuit cutter if you happen to have one) to cut the biscuits. You should get approximately 10 biscuits out of this, even if you have to refold and re-roll the dough.
  9. Bake the biscuits for 11 minutes. I use an aluminum baking sheet.
  10. Take them out and eat them immediately!
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Pettole!

Each and every holiday growing up as a kid, my mom, my aunts, or my grandmother would make pettole around the holidays. Imagine delicious yeasty donuts, without holes, with raisins. They’re delicious. Trust me.

Here’s our recipe:

  • 1.25c warm water
  • a pinch of sugar (more to come later, I promise!)
  • 1 envelope of active dry yeast
  • 2.5c of flour
  • .5c or more of raisins
  • oil for frying (not a lot, like 2 cups in a little fry daddy, or more if you’re using a pan)
  • sugar for coating

Start by preparing your wet ingredients – wake the yeast up in the warm water with the sugar pinch, then mix the water into the flour. Add some raisins. Basically, you’re looking to create a nice, sticky, yeasty dough, studded with raisins. Check out some of the images of pettole on flickr for more information. If you have to adjust the water or flour amounts, do it; you’re looking for a dough that is super sticky – one you wouldn’t want to touch with your hands because it’s so sticky and wet.

After the dough has risen (about 2 hours), spoon it into 350 degree oil until they’re done (they’ll sort of float up and get nice and brown.) After you take them out of the oil, let some of the oil soak off, then roll the suckers in sugar.

These things are delicious when they’re warm and fresh so eat ’em up. Enjoy.

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