These luscious eggplant balls look just like meatball’s but are a “no meat” kind of meatball made with eggplant, fresh garlic, parsley, eggs, Reggiano Parmesan and bread crumbs. They are formed into balls and broiled with a drizzle of olive oil until golden! They are vevelty on the inside with a little golden caramelization on the outside. They are so delicous all on their own and when you simmer them in a tomato-basil saucethey get even better, if that is at all possible!
A few weeks ago, I got a message from a friend of mine that I needed to meet this family of amazing Italian cooks who were so much fun to be around and how it would make for a great show! Boy, was she right! Adele and her daughter Sonia are just lovely people. Adele is not only passionate about her recipe’s and cooking but about life in general. Sharing her memories from Italy made me feel like I was there with her. Adele’s vivaciousness is an inspiration to how life ought to be lived.
Now, I thought I was the eggplant queen, loving everything about eggplant and all that there is to create with eggplant, from eggplant parmesan, rollatini, to stuffed eggplants (haven’t had a chance to put the stuffed eggplant show together yet…but it’s on the list!) until I met Adele and had a bite of her unbelieveable eggplant balls! Wow, what can I say. The day she invited me over to taste these incredible morsels I knew I had to let the secret out and share this recipe with all of you so you too could experience this creation!
It looks like you now have an amazing reicpe to take care of all those eggplants you have in your garden. If you don’t have a garden, don’t fret there’s an abundance of eggplants at your local market, year round really. Can’t wait for you to make these eggplant balls of Adele’s and add this recipe to your “go to” Italian dishes to impress dinner guests! You might want to add a couple of apps to this like my baked asparagus wrapped in proscuitto, or crab cakesand don’t forget to throw in some incredible desserts like baklava, chocolate pecan pie or drunk blondies with a caramel bourbon sauce!…YUM!
12 cups cubed up eggplant – 6 small eggplants
4 cups – 1 full loaf of 1-2 day old Italian bread, wheat bread if you can get it, coarsely ground up in the food processor (Adele’s says you can even use a “Thanksgiving” bag of bread crumbs!)
The anticipation of these light and fluffy, melt in your mouth gnocchi is what keeps you focused while you are working away forming these little potato pillows. The recipe for these delicious gnocchi we made at my friend’s Louie and Rachel’s house last weekend is probably the easiest one out there. Having our other friend’s Marco and Sheryl (from the show’s “Salmon B.L.T. Slider’s at Marco’s” and “Lobster Mac & Cheese at David’s“) working together with us forming and shaping the gnocchi made it a breeze. in fact, it felt as though we were only working on the gnocchi for mere minutes before popping them into the salted water. Louie served his gnocchi with a gravy or sauce made from tomatoes, red wine, herbs, garlic, homemade meatballs and sausages where the aroma’s alone made you salivate when first arriving at their front door!
If you have never made homemade gnocchi before you must try this simple recipe. Louie has been making his family’s gnocchi for over 20 years so this is a solid recipe thru and thru. You begin making the gnocchi with only 2 large potatoes and believe it or not this is enough potato to make about 200 gnocchi pillows.The other ingredients in the recipe are ricotta, egg, flour and Parmesan which balance out the dough nicely keeping it super light.
So remember to have a few friends over when making these delightful gnocchi to help with the task and before you know it you too will have a plate of homemade gnocchi right in front of you! A wonderful sauce to have with these gnocchi is my bolognese made with veal, pork, bacon, red wine, heavy cream and rosemary..YUM! Or you could go with a traditional red sauce with beef or turkey meatballs. Don’t forget some appetizers to go with these melt in your mouth gnocchi at Louie’s like my famous Caesar Salad or Crab Cakes! Mangia…Mangia! 🙂
2 ex-tra lg russet potatoes – 1.5 lbs. total
1 cup whole milk ricotta
1 lg egg
1/3 cup grated Reggiano Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
Bring medium pan to a boil, adding 1 tsp salt
Add in the 2 whole russet potatoes – NOT PEELED
Boil the potatoes til tender, can pierce with a fork – APPROX 40 MINUTES
Remove potatoes with tongs to a cutting board and begin to peel off the skin with a fork gently scraping the outer layer
Cut the hot potato into half and load the potato ricer – MUST RICE THE POTATOES WHILE HOT for light and fluffy gnocchi!
Push the potato thru the ricer onto a cutting board and spread out the potato now to cool
Add 1 egg to a large mixing bowl and whisk
Add in the riced potato and mix with a fork just to combine
Add in the ricotta, Parmesan, salt and pepper and mix with the fork to combine
Add in 1 1/4 of the flour and mix with a fork at first and as it comes together begin to mix with you hands, if it’s too sticky add a pinch more flour
Turn dough out onto work surface with a small amount of flour
Begin to cut off a little at a time from the lg ball of gnocchi dough and roll out each piece into a long 1/2″ x 18″ (approx) rope
Cut rope into 1/2″ pieces and then roll each piece off a fork to form indents
These indents help to hold the sauce
Lay a dish towel over a cookie tray and sprinkle a little flour on top
As you form these little potato pillows lat them onto the dish towel
Bring a large pan of salted water to boil
Swirl the boiling water with a lg spoon to create a circular whirlpool …help to keep gnocchi from sinking to the bottom completely
Begin to add gnocchi to the boiling, swirling water
They will sink a little at first and then when they start to float when they are cooked – 3 MINUTES
Immediately begin to remove floating, swirling gnocchi with a slotted spoon to a large serving bowl with your gravy or sauce
Continue to do this until you go through all the potato dough
Cook what you want at this point
TO FLASH FREEZE: Line up the extra gnocchi onto cutting boards that fit into your freezer and begin to flash freeze them until solid, sprinkle a little flour directly onto each board – Do not use a dish towel at this point
Then pop the frozen gnocchi off of the cutting boards and place frozen gnocchi into lg Ziploc baggies and back into freeze until future use
TIP: When using flash frozen gnocchi in the future go directly from the freezer to the boiling water, give a couple of stirs so as not to clump at the bottom. NEVER thaw first or leave on counter too longer especially marble or granite because they will thaw quickly.
This best guacamole ever recipe will definitely change the way you look at that mixture they call guacamole at the market. I find most of the brands out there both watery and mysterious. Why chance quality. The simple fact is, when my best guacamole recipe is so simple to make why settle for second rate! Even the amounts of finely chopped sweet onion, tomato, jalapeño and cilantro in this recipe are minimal so there’s not a whole lot of prep going on either. These amounts are just enough to add hints of lovely flavors and not take away from the sweet creamy California avocado’s.
Avocado’s are on sale just about every other week at the market so take advantage of this and load up. You can never buy too many and they don’t all have to be perfectly ripened right at that moment. They will ripen on your counter in a matter of days.
If I am not serving this best guacamole ever right away I put one of the avocado pits back into the middle of the guacamole, cover it with saran wrap and put it into the refrigerator until I’m ready. The saran wrap should go directly onto the surface of the guacamole so as not to let the dip oxidize and turn brown. If part of it does oxidize just skim that part off with a spoon and there will be a fresh green surface underneath. And, when making guacamole it’s best when it’s eaten the same day, or definitely by the next.
Kathy’s Ricotta pie gives you a filling with the creaminess of a cheese cake and the flavors of an Italian cannoli without all the work. My favorite part of this recipe is the cookie crust crunch that brings it all together! You just can’t go wrong here making this incredible dessert that’s also ideal for breakfast.
Ricotta pie is really a traditional Italian dessert served at Easter. There are so many different versions of ricotta pie out there. Both the filling and the crust vary from cook to cook and family to family who treasure this little treat. That’s what makes each recipe so special because it becomes very personalized. Whether it’s adding orange zest, lemon zest, cranberries or even Marsala wine to the crust to make it more in sink with the makings of a cannoli shell the avenues of creativity are endless.
You’ll know why this Greek Baklava is considered “The Dessert of the Gods” when you bite into the rich flavor of the walnuts, the sticky, syrupy bottom and the buttery-flaky top layers. Not to mention, hearing that sizzling as you pour the cooled honey syrup over the hot baked phyllo dough with layers of ground walnuts, cinnamon and cloves will make you mouth water!
It’s truly amazing how the top layers of the Greek baklava soak up that honey-syrup yet remain flaky and stay drier then those sticky and syrupy bottom layers of the Greek baklava -the perfect combination. The trick here to not having a gooey, soggy baklava is to make sure the baked baklava is hot and the honey-syrup is cooled. It’s important that they’re not both hot.
Looking at the gorgeous golden layers of phyllo and walnuts in the Greek Baklava you’ll automatically think that this may be too difficult to make. On the contrary, the Gods are very forgiving here because this really is a fail safe dish! Phyllo dough can be temperamental whether it’s your first time working with it or your hundredth . That fact is, it won’t matter whether you are layering with a piece that has a rip in it or not because the buttery layers completely flake up and turn golden when the are baked and you just can’t tell.
It was such a fun afternoon at my dear friend Maria’s house learning how to make her amazing Greek Baklava. I’m grateful she shared a family recipe that holds much tradition for the holidays. I hope you can add this incredible dish to your parties and or holiday’s too. Who knows, maybe some day I will get Maria to share with us her Moussaka recipe!
When you learn to make my basic salsa 101 there will be no stopping you! It’s packed with flavor from the juicy summer tomatoes, sweet Georgia Vidalia onions, add in some fresh squeezed limes, chopped cilantro and jalapeño and you have yourself a fiesta!
When you know how to make a basic salsa the world your oyster! No food pun intended here, but seriously! From this salsa 101 recipe you can totally make it yours by adding in 1/2 cup of avocado, mango, pineapple or even cucumbers. Don’t be afraid to try adding your favorite’s to the basic recipe because that is how you learn to create, to taste different flavors. You can even try adding 1 cup of black beans to the salsa! YUM! Have fun and enjoy:)
Adding in the extra virgin olive oil and “seasoned” rice wine vinegar with the fresh squeezed limes keeps my salsa delicately balanced where one flavor isn’t over powering another. I love using the Georgia Vidalia onions because they are so sweet! If you are not a big onion fan these will surprise you for sure. You could also cut back on the amount of chopped onions even though I believe it’s a perfect amount in my salsa 101 when “finely” chopped. The beautiful thing about the salsa 101 recipe is you can use what ever tomatoes you want from heirlooms, to grape, to cherry, tiger tomatoes …what ever your little heart fancies!
Secret Meatball Recipe at Glenn’s New Haven Apizza
One of the most delicious meatballs you’ll ever have and the mammoth size will knock you for a loop! Glenn Proto, at New Haven Apizza & Bakery, right here in our very own Madison, CT, shared his mother, Annette’s, secret meatball recipe with me this week. The ingredients he use’s in his meatballs couldn’t get any fresher because he even grind’s his own meats for these meatballs. Freshly ground brisket, short ribs, 80/20 beef and Longhini sweet sausage are the main ingredients in his meatballs. Oh, but let’s not forget what he calls his “secret” to the meatballs, his addition of finely chopped pepperoni! Glenn says this is what give’s these authentic Italian meatball’s that extra special something!
Once we get past all the freshly ground meat that goes into Glenn’s meatballs the love doesn’t stop there, he then caramelizes red onions, adds in Ricotta fina (a special and costly ricotta from the very best Liuzzi Cheese in North Haven,CT, eggs, grated Romano cheese, Italian cubed up bread soaked in heavy cream, and fresh garlic and herbs! Wow, he doesn’t hold back on quality that’s for sure. What an incredible ingredient list for these most flavorful and succulent morsels. Maybe I shouldn’t use the word “morsels” either because the size of these meatball’s are cray cray! It was a blast rolling the meat mixture into bigger then baseball size meatballs with Glenn and his son Dylan. Isn’t it wonderful how the tradition carries on as Dylan and his siblings grew up making these incredible meatballs just as Glenn did. And now, we can add some of this lovely tradition into our kitchen’s since Glenn was so kind as to share his family’s recipe with all of us. He believe’s traditions and recipe’s are meant to be shared so everyone can enjoy them!
2 1/2 lbs. of ground beef (.75 lbs ea. of ground brisket, short ribs and 80/20 ground beef)
1 1/4 lbs. Longhini sweet sausage
1/2 cup finely chopped pepperoni
2 cups Italian bread after soaked in heavy cream and squeezed slightly (1 lb. about 1 loaf of Italian bread, cubed and soaked in heavy cream)
2-3 cups heavy cream – to soak cubed up Italian bread
3 lg eggs
1 cup grated Romano cheese
3/4 cup ricotta (ricotta fina if you can get it)
3/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
1/3 heaping cup finely chopped fresh garlic
1/2 cup caramelized red onions (finely chop 2 med. size red onions and sauté on medium/high with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter for 5 minutes and then twenty minutes on low with adding 1 tbsp sugar and 1/4 tsp salt)
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp finely ground pepper
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp dried oregano
Pre-heat oven to 400º
Cube up the Italian loaf of bread to 3/4″ pieces
Add cubed up bread to 2 – 3 cups heavy cream – should be enough to have all the pieces get saturated and soak for approx 15 minutes
Add beef and sausage to a large bowl and combine with your hands
Add in the pepperoni and the rest of the ingredients in the list and combine with your hands – Don’t over mixed meat …just until combined
Begin to roll meat mixture into desired size meatballs dipping your hands in the left over the heavy cream to help smooth the edges of the meat while shaping them
Place the meatballs onto a cookie tray..they can be right next to each other
Note: the larger they are the longer you will bake them
Bake for 45-60 until the tops are crispy and brown …mangia, mangia!
I was kicking off my seasonal summer dishes on the set of CT Style Morning Show in the Bender Kitchen this week! Doing the cooking segment on CT Style was so much fun, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute and everyone there was very welcoming. Besides presenting the “featured” recipe in the segment showing off some of my other high viewing YouTube shows was important to me so I began to organize and get the prep work done. These other recipe’s that I wanted to display in the segment were my homemade Caesar Salad, Buffalo Chicken Dip, Baked Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto, CrazyGood Candied Pecans and the Pavlova. The other aspect of getting ready for CT Style was getting all my art work and photos in order with high resolution graphics and Steve atGulla Design did a wonderful job helping me with this!
“Nat’l Selfie Day” too…w/Ben the Cameraman!
The actual featured recipe for the show was the cold cucumber & fennel soup topped with seared scallops. If you have never tried this yet you need to put this at the top of your list because the flavors here are out of this world! If you are not a big soup person you have to at least have the seared scallops with mygreen goddess sauce for another amazing duo!
The cold cucumber and fennel soup is the same soup I presented in the MasterChef Open Casting Call in NYC this past March. All the tasting judges had loved the soup! Although, for the MasterChef presentation I had topped the soup with Alaskan King Crab. For the CT Style segment I placed seared scallops in the center of the soup. Scallops are very tender when cooked properly, and have a mild flavor but can totally stand up to the bursting flavors of the soup without getting lost. Topping the soup with the scallops is definitely my favorite way to have this dish. The cold cucumber & fennel soup and seared scallop make for a perfect match!
I hope you will enjoy my “CT Style Summer Kick Off” as much as I did! This cold cucumber & fennel soup with seared scallops may change your summer. Since we are talking about boosting your culinary summer, I’m going to keep on you about making your own BBQ Sauce until you get it done! Another great side dish for summer is my Zucchini Torta and a refreshing dessert of Fresh Berry Granita! And don’t forget the amazing Metaxa Mojito’sto kick off your get together! Enjoy 🙂
Seared scallops are so gosh darn delicious you really don’t need anything else to accompany them. They have a succulent and creamy texture that’s so tender they melt in your mouth when cooked correctly. All that is needed to sear sea scallop’s is a hot non-stick pan, a couple tablespoons of olive oil, butter for basting at the end, a squeeze of fresh lemon and violà, you have an amazing seafood dish in 4 minutes.
Butter is just one of additions to seafood that always seems to give one last flavor boost. That’s why I have you baste the scallops in the last few seconds in the show. Butter makes everything better, right? You can’t get any easier then making scallops in mere minutes. It is best to use a non-stick pan to sear these though because it will make for a smooth ride home and super easy to flip them over to get that golden sear on the other side of the scallop.
You really need to try my cold cucumber and fennel soup to go with your seared scallops. The flavors you will get from all the vegetables and herbs in the soup to the creamy scallops will put you over the top. The green goddess sauce II goes without saying when paired up with the seared scallops. If I’m serving the scallops for an appetizer I set a small bowl of green goddess sauce right in the middle of a platter for dunking and scallops placed all around…YUM!
It’s like BBQ sauce candy! My Homemade BBQ Sauce is the perfect balance of sweet, tangy and a little spicy! This recipe is one of my versions of a classic “Kansas City” style sauce, meaning it is a tomato based sauce with a sweetener and a vinegar. Ketchup, dark Molasses, brown sugar, cider vinegar and spices are the core ingredient’s that make up this delicious blend of barbecue sauciness. It’s not too sweet or too tangy and it has just a pinch of heat to remind you that it’s a BBQ sauce. It really can’t get any easier to make BBQ sauce then this here recipe. It will definitely make it hard for you to go back to the bottle stuff with the high fructose corn syrup. In fact, I guarantee that you will find yourself dipping that spoon back into the pot to get one more lick of this homemade sassy sauce!
Using the liquid smoke, which is simple to find at your local grocer now a days, is ideal for emulating that smokiness you would get with outdoor barbecuing. I have you adding in chipolte chile powder and a Spanish smoked paprika too which gives off a delicate flavor to the sauce without being too overbearing.
The 3 basic BBQ sauce type’s out there are a tomato based, a vinegar based and a mustard based. Believe it or not, there actually is a mayo based as well. The “Kansas City” style is the tomato based and probably the most popular through out the U.S. There’s a “Memphis” style similar to Kansas City with the tomato base but a thinner, more vinegar type sauce. The actual vinegar and mustard type sauce’s are quintessential to the Carolina’s. South Carolina being partial to the mustard type sauce and North Carolina to the vinegar type sauce. Then there’s that white BBQ sauce that’s mayo based, a signature sauce of Big Bob Gibson out of Alabama.
1/2 tsp chipolte chile powder (If you can’t find “chipolte” chile powder just use chile powder it will still be wonderful)
1/2 tsp Spanish smoked paprika (It doesn’t have to be “Spanish” and if you only have plain paprika add 1 extra tsp of liquid smoke to compensate 🙂
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper
OPTIONAL: To take the spice up a notch…. Add 2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce to the pot when whisking all the ingredients together
Put all above ingredients into medium sauce pan and whisk to combine
Bring to a boil
Immediately turn down heat and simmer on a low bubble for 25 minutes
Baste your grilling meats in the last 3-5 minutes on each side so as not to burn and oven cooking meats in the last 10 minutes on each side…the sugars in the BBQ Sauce will burn if you put it on too early