Monday, February 29, 2016

Recipe #109: Rosemary Verga's Spaghetti & Meatballs

I worked with Rosemary back in 1989 in San Francisco.  She was as Italian as they came, and happily parted with her mom's recipe for the above.  The meatballs are the most tender you will ever eat, and the best part about them is that they are BAKED, not fried.   Now, if you're looking for a marinara sauce, I have already put one in the blog.  This is a meat sauce, along with the meatballs, but I really love that.  The more meat, the better.  Now, let's cook...

MEATBALLS

1 lb ground beef (use 90/10, because the          1 lb plain ground pork
     the pork will have enough fat)                        4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 eggs, beaten                                                          1 cup grated parmesan cheese (I use a mix of
3 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped                     parmesan and romano)
2 cups Italian style bread crumbs                       1 3/4 cup room temp water
1 tsp dried basil                                                       2 tsp salt

Heat oven to 350.  Place pork and beef in a large bowl and mix together with your hands, incorporating it well, without overdoing it.  Add the rest of ingredients to the bowl and mix everything together, continuing to use your hands.  Spray a large metal lasagna pan with cooking spray.  Shape mixture into 2" meatballs placing in pan as you go.   Yes, they will be extremely soft. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven, turn meatballs over with tongs, and bake another 10 minutes.  Set aside. 

SAUCE

3/4 lb ground beef (I use 90/10)                         2 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium onion, chopped                                     1 large can tomato puree
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (I buy Italian           1 large can tomato paste
    style if I can find it)                                             1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a very large dutch oven or a soup pot is even better as you will be putting the meatballs in this pot and will need room to stir.  Saute onion and garlic.  Add ground beef and cook until brown.  Add the tomato paste and cook for about 10 minutes on low heat until the paste starts sticking to the bottom of the pan a little bit.  Add puree, tomatoes, salt and sugar, scraping up the "baked" tomato from the bottom of the pan.  Add the meatballs and simmer, uncovered, for about 2-3 hours.  Bon appetit!


the meatballs will be extremely wet, but will hold their shape...

place all meatballs in pan...

these have baked 10 minutes...now time to turn over...

halfway through the baking process...

turned over..yes, they looked lopsided, but will be okay...

a little brown color, but that's a good thing...

after adding paste, cook on low, so that some of sticks to bottom, creating color and flavor...

start the simmering process with some fresh basil...

keep cooking it down...

and down...

dinner is served...

Monday, February 15, 2016

Recipe #108: Jan Vitcovich's World Famous Carrot Cake

I worked with Jan a number of years at United Airlines and if you were lucky enough, you might have been able to partake of her carrot cake when she brought one in.  This is THE BEST carrot cake recipe I have ever made.  It can stand well enough alone without the help of any icing, but that said, for this recipe, I made it and iced it with the BEST cream cheese icing ever....why?  Because the ratio of cream cheese to butter is greater, giving the icing a little more zing.  You will absolutely love this recipe, whether you make it in a bundt pan, tube pan or 2 9" cake pans.  Now, let's bake...

2 cups sugar                                                          4 eggs
3/4 cup canola oil                                                 2 tsp each baking soda and powder
3 tbsp cinnamon                                                   1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg*
1/8 tsp ground clove*                                           4 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts                                         1 can crushed pineapple, put in a sieve and juice
1/2 cup coconut*                                                      pressed out
1/4 tsp salt

*I added the clove and nutmeg, and bumped up the coconut from 1/4 cup

In a stand mixer, beat the sugar and eggs until pale.  Add the oil.  Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the egg mixture.  Fold in the carrots, walnuts, pineapple and coconut.  Bake in whatever greased and floured pans you wish at 350.  If using a bundt or tube pan, bake for about 1 hour.  9" pans will take about 35-40 minutes...test with a toothpick.  Bon appetit!

CREAM CHEESE ICING

12 oz cream cheese                                           6 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla                                                       1/4 tsp salt
1 box powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl.