Category Archives: Italian

Almond Cake by Marcella Hazan

Almond Cake

Made this cake to take to work.  Didn't have enough daylight in the morning to get a good photo.

Maybe next time.

But it got rave reviews.

 

Almond Cake
Compliments of JennaDish

from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan

10 ounces shelled, unpeeled almonds, about 2 cups
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
8 egg whites
Salt
The peel of 1 lemon grated without digging into the white pitch beneath
6 Tablespoons flour
An 8- or 9-inch springform pan
Butter for greasing the pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  

Put the almonds and sugar in a blender or food processor and grind to a fine consistency, turning the motor on and off.

Beat the egg whites together with 1/2 teaspoon salt until they form stiff peaks.

Add the ground almonds and the grated lemon peel to the egg whites, a little bit at a time, folding them in gently, but thoroughly. The whites may deflate a bit, but if you mix carefully there should be no significant loss of volume.

Add the flour, shaking a little of it at a time through a strainer, and again, mixing gently.

Thickly smear the pan with butter.  Put the cake batter into the pan, shaking the pan to level it off. Place the pan int he middle level of the preheated oven and bake for 1 hours. Before taking it out of the oven, test the enter of the cake by piercing it with a toothpick. If it comes out dry, the cake is done. If it does not, cook a little longer.

When done unlock the pan and remove the hoop. When the cake has cooled somewhat, and it is just lukewarm, loosen it from the bottom of the pan. Serve when it is completely cold. It will keep quite a while if stored in a biscuit box. [or a cake taker, I presume]

 

 

Pasta and Sauce with Black Bean & Toasted Bread Crumb Topping

Pasta with Black Beans and Toasted Bread Crumbs and Onions

 

Pasta and Sauce with Black Bean & Toasted Bread Crumb Topping
Compliments of JennaDish

original recipe

MAKES 2 GENEROUS SERVINGS

8 ounces fresh pasta (mine is from Bouchard's at Findlay Market)
2 cups pasta sauce (I used Muir Glen's Organic, Cabernet Style) 
2 cups toasted bread crumbs (mine is from Blue Oven's Spelt Bread, ground and toasted)
15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained 

Saute the bread crumbs in a little olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  After crumbs are heated, add the beans to the pan to heat up.

Meanwhile, heat the pasta sauce in a sauce pan, and cook the pasta according to package or vendor instructions.

Drain the pasta, serve in a bowl, top with sauce then the crumb/bean mixture.

 

Panzanella with Sunflower Seed Bread & Yellow Pear Tomatoes

Panzanella
Panzanella Salad

This salad, like most, is highly adaptable.  My first tip would be to use a dense, strong bread, in order to stand up to the saute and the liquids. 

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Other than that, substitute a fresh veggie (think Italian) that seems to make sense, for a veggie you don't have.

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I had some little pear tomatoes, so I used those instead of more peppers.  I also didn't have cucumber so I used a few of my fresh, homemade pickles.  If you're a pickle-lover go for it.  If not, nix that idea and sub something else.  It's too strong of a taste if you aren't thrilled with tangy pickles.

 

Panzanella with Sunflower Seed Bread & Yellow Pear Tomatoes
Compliments of JennaDish

adapted from Ina Garten on Food Network.com

MAKES ABOUT 3 to 4 SERVINGS as a side

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups of 1" cubes of sunflower seed bread (or any dense, whole grain or sourdough bread)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large, ripe tomato, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 to 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, sliced 1/2-inch thick (I used 1/3 cup fresh pickles)
1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
10 yellow pear tomatoes
1/2 red onion, chopped
10 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1 to 2 Tablespoons capers, drained

Vinaigrette

1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 Tablespoons Champagne vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber (or pickles), red or yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.  The salad tastes even better the next day.

Vegan Ricotta & Spinach Lasagna

Our 6-Week Vegan Challenge

Vegan Lasagna

I've never had a non-dairy lasagna.  I was bracing myself to be tolerant. But to my surprise, it tasted just like another awesome Italian dish.  No tolerance necessary.

Vegan Spinach Lasagna

Alyssa and Allen liked it also.  Jill wouldn't try it. 

The "ricotta cheese" is replaced by a mixture of crumbled extra firm tofu, roasted cauliflower and nutritional yeast flakes.

No Dairy No Meat Lasagna

Here it is assembled and ready for the oven….

Cut Vegan Lasagna

and after being baked and cut.

Also, I used plain lasagna noodles, which is what we had on hand.  But the original recipe called for, and I would recommend, using whole wheat.

 

Lasagna with Roasted Cauliflower Ricotta & Spinach
Compliments of JennaDish

adapted from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

SERVES 4-6 

Drain the tofu well by squeezing gently to release much of the excess water, then wrapping the tofu well in thick paper towels and setting a heavy on top for 10 minutes or more.  You can make the "ricotta" mixture ahead and refrigerate.  Hodgson Mill's makes a whole wheat lasagna with flax seed.

"RICOTTA" MIXTURE:
1 head cauliflower, chopped into 1/2" pieces
3 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound extra firm tofu, drained well
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
6-8 grinds of freshly ground pepper, or a few pinches canned pepper

RED SAUCE:
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with basil (or add about 10 fresh basil leaves, torn)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon salt

LAYERS:
5 whole wheat lasagna noodles, broken in half, cooked according to directions
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1/4 cup black olives or green olives for top, (other ideas: pepperonata, capers, roasted red pepper strips)

Summary of Timing: 
Preheat oven, start draining process with tofu, meanwhile roast cauliflower, meanwhile put pot of pasta water on medium low (so that getting it to the boiling point later won't take as long), start on sauce by sauteeing garlic in oil, after "ricotta" mixture is finished, turn pasta water up to high and start cooking noodles.  Basically, you have 3 things to make,but you never have more than 2 things going on at the same time that you have to watch.  

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  

On a heavy baking sheet or roasting pan, drizzle a little olive oil and spread over bottom, dump the cauliflower pieces in a pile, drizzle with remaining 2 teaspoons oil, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and mix together well with your hands, coating all pieces of cauliflower.  Spread evenly over pan.  It doesn't have to be a single layer. 

Bake for 10 minutes, remove and stir/flip cauliflower well with spatula.  Bake for another 10 minutes. Flip and stir again.  Bake another 5-10 minutes if necessary, until cauliflower is lightly browned and tender.  Set aside.  Turn heat down to 350 degrees F.

In the meantime, in a pot that will hold the tomato sauce, turn heat to medium, pour the 2 teaspoons oil and sautee the garlic until lightly golden and starting to become aromatic (don't burn), pour in the crushed tomatoes and thyme and let simmer on low for 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally so it doesn't stick.

Crumble the drained tofu into a medium mixing bowl, add the nutritional yeast and lemon juice and mix well.  Add the cauliflower, mix well, and mash well with a potato masher, or pulse it a few times in a food processor.  Set aside.

Boil lasagna noodles according to package directions – a little salt and a little oil is recommended. Drain, run cold water over noodles to stop cooking, lay them out on a lint-free towel or on a plate. 

To assemble:  In an 8×8" baking dish or something close – I used an 8"x10" clear Pyrex baking dish – put a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish.  Place a single layer of noodles on the sauce, spread 1/3 of the "ricotta" mixture evenly over the noodles, layer with 1 cup chopped spinach evenly, pour on a cup of sauce.  Repeat this one more time.  Then the last layer will be noodles, then sauce, then the "ricotta" (no spinach).  Sprinkle will olives in whatever design you prefer.

Bake 40 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and top has at least lightly browned.  Serve immediately or let cool just a few minutes.  Unlike regular cheese lasagna, this dish will not hold it's heat for very long, so don't plan on letting it cool more than 10 minutes.

 

Vegan: How to Make Sauteed Vegetables with Italian Herbs

Our 6-Week Vegan Challenge

Considering that I'm trying to be at least 90% vegan (well, no dairy/no meat) to support my daughter, Alyssa, for the next 6 weeks or so, I need to eat veggies, plus it doesn't hurt to use things up in the fridge…

Over the last few weeks, I've made sauteed vegetables and potatoes three times.  Here are three versions of a dish that seems like they are all the same, but depending on the amount of veggies and potatoes, the spices, and the cooking method, can taste quite different.

Sauteed Potatoes Veggies
Sauteed Potatoes and Veggies
The above (2 photos, same dish) was made with the following ingredients and method, enough for 3 people:

Olive oil, as needed
1 large zucchini, diced small
1 stalk celery, chopped small
1/2 – 1 red pepper, chopped small
1/2 onion, chopped small
oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, thyme sprig (optional)
9 new potatoes, boiled until tender, mostly peeled, cut in large chunks
Non-Dairy Basil pesto (1 cup basil leaves, 1-2 Tbsp pine nuts, olive oil, ground)
(feta cheese for your dairy eating loved ones)

In oiled cast iron skillet over medium heat, throw in the first 4 veggies & the 6 spices/herb. 
Cover and let the veggies cook without stirring, about 10 minutes, then turn and toss until tender.
Dump the veggies in a bowl and set aside.
Using more oil, throw in the pre-cooked potatoes, turn up the heat to medium high, and do the same – let cook while still, then flip and toss until mostly browned.  When about done, throw in pesto and toss to coat evenly. Quickly remove pan from heat.

Place potatoes in bowls, throw earlier veggies back in the pan to quickly stir and reheat.
Spoon the soft veggies over the potatoes.
Sprinkle feta on the dish of anyone who prefers their cheese, please.

Potato Onion Pepper Saute

The saute above is made up of new potatoes, red onions, tomatoes from my porch plant, green beans, poblano peppers, herbs de provence, and some fresh ground pepper.

 

Potato Zucchini Tomato Onion Saute
This one had quite a different taste.  Better I would say.  Even Alyssa nearly raved about it and she's not a big veggie eater.  The ingredients for this one in order of the cooking process:  olive oil, red pepper flakes, minced garlic, zucchini coins, chopped poblano pepper, onion sliced thin to cook faster, a previously baked potato cubed, tomatoes cut about 1" pieces.

 

HOW TO MAKE A POTATO VEGGIE SAUTE
Compliments of JennaDish

Look in your fridge and see what veggies you have, and decide how much you want to make and how big of a pan you have to accommodate the stinkers.

Let's say you are cooking for yourself but you may as well make enough for leftovers tomorrow.  For two people I cooked the following:

olive oil
big pinch red pepper flakes
1 big clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 zucchini, cut into 1/8" to 1/4" coins
1 red onion, cut in half then sliced thin
1 whole baked potato, cubed to 1" pieces
1/2 to 1 poblano (or green or red) pepper, cut into small 1/2" pieces 
8 cherry tomatoes cut in half, or a whole tomato or two cut to 1" pieces
fresh basil, optional

That would defintely feed two, expecially if you are having something else like bread.  But you could throw in a little more just to make sure.  Use a 10" or 12" pan for this much so you have tossing room.

Have everything chopped and ready to go.  The French call this Mise en Place (pronounced miz on plas) which basically means put in place.

Layer flavors.

Start with a non-stick skillet or cast iron skillet on medium heat.  

Add olive oil, 1-2 tablespoons to start.  Let it get warmed up about 2-3 minutes.

Throw in a pinch of red pepper flakes.  If it sizzles and seems it will burn, turn the heat down a bit and lift the skillet to quickly reduce the heat and stop the food from burning.  You don't need to cook red pepper flakes, you just want to heat it enough to bring out the flavor of the spice and to meld it with the oil.  So 20 seconds or so.  

Make sure your heat is under control now.  Not so low that it does nothing, and not too hot.  Then, immediately put in the minced garlic.  Same general idea – pieces are very small and delicate so it will burn quickly.  Stir around until it seems it's starting to become golden but before it burns, for Pete's sake.  Add a little more olive oil if you need it.  That will also help it to cool down briefly.

Now toss in the zucchini and stir around for 4 minutes or so until they are really softening up and starting to brown.  Now add small-cut peppers, stir a minute or two, then throw in the onion and keep tossing every minute or so.  Let things start to caramelize.  Once you get all the veggies about 2 minutes away from being the way you like them, throw in the potatoes which just need to heat through another 2-4 minutes.  Then add your tomatoes and heat through a couple minutes.

The whole idea here is to start with aromatics, meld and layer flavors, then start adding vegetables starting with those that will take the longest.  You also decide what to put in next based on how much you want something cooked.  For example, I only want the tomatoes heated up, so I put those in last.

Remove from heat and divvy up some veggies on your plate.  You can add fresh, torn basil if you like.

Yer done.

 

 

 

 

Pizza with Arugula, Cherry Tomatoes and Prosciutto

  Pizza Arugula Cherry Tomatoes Prosciutto

OK fine.  That's not prosciutto.  We had leftover salami so we used it. Use either one, or even strips of smoked ham.  There's such a small amount of meat on each, it's not likely to matter that much.

If you're not familiar with arugula, it's not your basic lettuce.  A basic lettuce, like iceberg, would be lame on pizza.  Don't do that.  People will cry for you.  Arugula has a peppery bite.  Makes things interesting. 

My English teacher hated that word.  Interesting.  So I feel self-conscious every time I use it.  Like I'm being pathetic and unimaginative.  

Anyway, if you add fresh basil leaves also, and even just a teeny amount of red chili flakes, it's just enough exhilaration without the bother of climbing on a roller coaster.  

Pizza with Cherry Tomatoes and Salami
Above is the pizza before the greenery.  See – not much meat.

Here's an overview of the method to get this extremely thin and crispy-crusted pizza, using the grill.

Get some really thin store-bought crusts.  We used something we've never seen before – Golden Home Ultra Thin Pizza Crust – purchased at the former Bigg's, now Remke's, in Hyde Park Square (Cincinnati).

Preheat your grill on a low setting.

Put a thin coating of pizza sauce on the crust, cover with cheese, then distribute tomatoes, cut in half (so they won't squirt hot tomato juice in your mouth when you bite into it).  

Place on the grill for a couple of minutes, then check the bottom of the crust.  If it's starting to crisp and burn before the cheese melts, place a heat-safe pan or ceramic tile under the pizza and close the cover until the cheese melts.  Or if you don't have anything to place under the pizza, remove the pizza and place it pizza under your oven broiler to finish it.

Remove from grill (or oven) when finished cooking, and place on a cutting board.  Add arugula, meat, parmesan cheese, and red chili flakes, if using.  

Pizza with Arugula, Cherry Tomatoes, and Prosciutto
Compliments of JennaDish

Adapted from Cook this Not That: 350-Calorie Meals by Zinczenko & Goulding 

MAKES TWO 12" PIZZAS

2 thin crust, 12" prepared crusts (I used Golden Home Ultra Thin crusts from Bigg's/Remke)
1 cup your favorite healthy pizza sauce 
1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella
2 cups cherry tomatoes (we cut them in half)
2 cups arugula
Basil leaves, torn (optional)
6 slices prosciutto, cut or torn into thin strips (substitute ham – less salt and lower cost)
Shaved Parmesan 
Red chili flakes, optional

For the grill:
Preheat your grill on a low setting.

For each pizza, use 1/2 the listed amount of each ingredient.  Put a thin coating of pizza sauce on the crust, cover with cheese, then tomatoes cut in half (so they won't squirt hot tomato juice in your mouth when you bite into it).  

Place on the grill for a couple of minutes, check the bottom of the crust.  If it's starting to crisp and burn before the cheese melts, place a heat-safe pan or ceramic tile under the pizza and close the cover until the cheese melts.  Or if you don't have anything to place under the pizza, place the pizza under your oven broiler to finish it.

Remove from grill (or oven) when finished cooking, and place on a cutting board.  Add arugula, meat, parmesan cheese, and red chili flakes, if using.

For the oven:  
Preheat oven to 425oF (or according to your crust instructions). For each pizza, distribute 1/2 the sauce (should be thin layer), sprinkle evenly with 1/2 the mozzarella cheese, and cover with 1/2 the cherry tomatoes.

Bake until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.  Placing directly on rack will yield a crisper crust, but be careful about dripping cheese on the bottom of the stove.  Otherwise, use a baking sheet. 

Remove pizza to a cutting board and immediately top with 1/2 the arugula (will wilt from heat), and 1/2 the prosciutto (or meat) and parmesan cheese to taste.  If you have a block of parmesan, shave it thinly with a vegetable peeler right onto the pizza.

Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter

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"This is the simplest of all sauces to make, and none has a purer, more irresistibly sweet tomato taste.   I have known people to skip the pasta and eat the sauce directly out of the pot with a spoon.  
– Marcella Hazan

This is true.  Delicious.  A game changer (finally!) for pasta.  So good, I even forgot to add the freshly grated cheese.  I ground some herbs de provence over it and it was wonderful.

And this is what Alyssa was doing while I was finishing up the sauce…

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Steering her new remote-controlled helicopter toward my head…

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Nice job Alyssa.

Recommended pasta with this sauce: Potato Gnocchi (prounounced like NYO' KEY).  The best gnocchi, beside homemade, that I've had is frozen.  I've had the vacuum-packed kind and it was rubbery.
UPDATE: I made this sauce a second time and tossed it with a pound of campanelle pasta which was NOT great.  If there's a lot of pasta, and the pasta has grooves in which the sauce hides to make it even worse, then the sauce is too sparse and tasteless.  You need the dish to be saucy to taste the subtleness of the butter, onion flavors.

Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter
Compliments of JennaDish

MAKES 4-6 SERVINGS

from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan

2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes,prepared as described below* OR 2 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up with their juices (I used canned, certified San Marzano tomatoes)
5 Tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
Salt
1 to 1 1/2 pounds pasta
Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese for the table

Put tomatoes in a saucepan, add the butter, onion, and salt, and cook uncovered at a very slow, but steady simmer for 45 minutes, or until the fat floats fre from the tomato.  Stir from time to time, mashing any large piece of tomato in the pan with the back of a wooden spoon.  Taste and correct for salt.  Discard the onion before tossing the sauce with pasta.

Great the next day also.  Leftover sauce is good for supplementing other tomato-based dishes such the Cioppino I made.  Really took it up a notch.

* To blanche tomatoes, plunge tomatoes in boiling water for a minute or less.  Drain them and , as soon as they are cool enough to handle, skin them, and cut them up in coarse pieces.  Some people like to lightly cut an X in the top of the tomato before boiling, to make it easier to peel.

 

Bobby Flay’s Meatballs

Meatballs made with bread crumbs
This is a recipe Alyssa preferred to make tonight.  But a few days ago she made Marcella Hazan Meatballs with milk-soaked bread and ground chuck only.  Bobby Flay's recipe is made with dry bread crumbs and 3 types of meat.  Those are the biggest differences.

Alyssa and Jill prefer these meatballs but I'm torn between the two.  Jill said they taste like LaRosa's, which is a compliment coming from Jill.  She loves LaRosa's meatballs.  Their firmness makes it easier to move around and transfer, pick up, etc.  But I don't like the denser texture to eat.  I prefer the melt in your mouth meatballs.   But I do like that these have more parsley in them.  Sounds like, for me anyway, I need to tweak a recipe that comes somewhere in between.

Bobby Flay's Meatballs
Compliments of JennaDish

MAKES A LOT OF MEATBALLS, too many for family of 4, but then leftovers are excellent next day!

1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground beef
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped and Sauteed
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup pure olive oil

Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl, except olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat the oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat. Roll the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls and fry until golden brown. 

(If using prepared spaghetti sauce, cook meatballs completely, then add to sauce.  If making homemade sauce which needs to simmer 30 minutes or so, can brown meatballs but not cook all the way through, then transfer to sauce and let meat finish cooking while sauce simmers.)

Roast Chicken with Two Lemons

Happy New Year! 

This holiday season I was off work December 23rd to January 2nd.  Alyssa and Jill and Allen were also all home, and we did a lot of cooking.  On New Year's Eve Alyssa made meatballs and spaghetti (1st time Marcella Hazan, 2nd time Bobby Flay recipe), then she and Jill left for separate parties.  On New Year's Day (today) Alyssa made Buffalo Wings and I made Cuban Black Bean Soup.  Other dishes we made over the break were this chicken, baby back ribs, pork barbecue, pot stickers, crepes with Nutella and banana, and I made and froze some Asian meatballs for a future meal.  All recipes are either posted or forthcoming.

Hardly any sweets! Unbelievable.

Chicken with Two Lemons

I'm pretty sure this Marcella Hazan recipe will be my go-to recipe for roast chicken from now on.  It's easy and straightforward.  Just like I think it's supposed to be.  No brine, no rubbing herbs under the skin, no onions tossed hither and fro, no broth or butter or oil or peppercorns for Pete's sake.  No basting, no fancy trussing, no fussing.

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Just salt and pepper all over, stick a lemon or two in the cavity, truss with toothpicks, tie legs loosely in their natural position.  Plop in a dry pan breast side down, turn it breast side up 30 minutes later, and that's about it.

As Ms. Hazan's recipe foreword describes it, "After you put the chicken in the oven you turn it just once.  The bird, its two lemons, and the oven do all the rest."  That's absolutely true. 

I don't like cutting a bird at the table.  Very unattractive.  So in the future I'll cut it in the kitchen and serve it on a platter.  Also, Nigella Lawson says her mother used to roast two chickens at a time, one to serve that day and one to keep in the fridge to pick at through the week, or use in another recipe.  Good idea. 

UPDATE:  I purchased a Granite Wear roasting pan (photo below) from Walmart for $13 that works great and cleans up perfectly.  Many years ago, I refused to go into Walmart because I think they are one of the reasons small businesses can't make it and American manufacturing is being outsourced.  But with the economy I can't try to save the world by myself.  We need to change bigger things in this country than where Jenna shops.  But at least this pan is American made, so that helps.  Same pan with Martha Stewart's name on it at Macy's is $20. 

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I know I know.  This is the weirdest bird I've even bought, a separate one from the top photos.  Broken wing, skin slightly strange in places, not perfectly de-feathered.  But oh well. It's an Amish chicken so it was a very nice quality otherwise.  Mainly I wanted to show the pan and how much liquid comes from the chicken, with no oil or buttered added.

Roast Chicken with Lemons
Compliments of JennaDish

from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan

A 3- to 4-pound chicken
Salt
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
2 small lemons (or 1 large)

PREHEAT oven to 350o.

WASH the chicken thoroughly in cold water, both inside and out.  Remove all the bits of fat hanging loose.  Let the bird sit about 10 minutes on a slightly tilted plate to let all the water drain out of it.  Pat it thoroughly dry all over with cloth or paper towels.

SPRINKLE a generous amount of salt and black pepper on the chicken, rubbing it with your fingers over all its body and into its cavity.

WASH the lemons in cold water and dry them with a towel.  Soften each lemon by placing it on a counter and rolling it back and forth as you put firm downward pressure on it with the palm of your hand.  Puncture the lemons in at least 20 places each, using a sturdy round toothpick or similar implement.

PLACE both lemons in the bird's cavity

CLOSE up the opening with toothpicks or with trussing needle and string.  Close it well, but don't make an absolutely airtight job of it because the chicken may burst.  Run kitchen string from one leg to the other, tying it at both knuckle ends.  Leave the legs in their natural position without pulling them tight.  If the skin is unbroken, the chicken will puff up as it cooks, and the string serves only to keep the thighs from spreading apart and splitting the skin.

PUT the chicken into a roasting pan, breast facing down.  Do not add cooking fat of any kind. This bird is self-basting, and will not stick to the pan (I can attest to this).  Place it in the upper third of the preheated oven.  After 30 minutes, turn the chicken over to have the breast face up.  When turning it, try not to puncture the skin. 

COOK for another 30 to 35 minutes, then turn the oven thermostat up to 400o.  and cook for an additional 20 minutes.  Calculate between 20 and 25 minutes' total cooking time for each pound.  There is no need to turn the chicken again.

You can leave the lemons in while carving and spoon the juice over the sliced chicken.

Marcella Hazan Meatballs

 Happy Birthday Alyssa!

Marcella Hazan Meatballs

Thank you for making Italian Meatballs from the famed cookbook Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan on your birthday.

Meatballs and Sauce

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Meatballs
Compliments of JennaDish

from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan

SERVES 4

A slice of good-quality white bread (used Italian bread)
1/3 cup milk
1 pound ground beef, preferably ground chuck
1 Tablespoon onion, chopped very fine
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
1 egg
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
Whole nutmeg (I used ground nutmeg)
Salt
Black pepper, freshly ground
Fine, dry, unflavored bread crumbs, spread on a plate (processed about 3-4 large Italian bread slices)
Vegetable oil

1. Trim away the bread crust, put the milk and bread in a small saucepan and turn on the heat to low.  When the bread has soaked up all the milk, mash it to a pulp with a fork.  Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

2. Into a bowl put the chopped meat, onion, parsley, the egg, the tablespoon of olive oil, the grated Parmesan, a tiny grating of nutmeg – about 1/8 teaspoon – the bread and milk mush, salt, and several grindings of black pepper.  Gently knead the mixture with your hands without squeezing it.  When all the ingredients are evenly combined, shape it gently and without squeezing into balls about 1 inch in diameter.  Roll the balls lightly in the bread crumbs.

3. Choose a saute pan that can subsequently accommodate all the meatballs in a single layer.  (or cook them in two batches) Pour in enough vegetable oil to come 1/4 inch up the sides.  Turn on the heat to medium high and when the oil is hot, slip in the meatballs.  Sliding them in with a spatula will avoid splashing hot oil out of the pan.  Brown the meatballs on all sides, turning them carefully so they won't break up.

This is a partial recipe of Marcella Hazan's Meatballs and Tomatoes recipe.  I just preferred to use Muir Glen Organic Pasta Sauce in place of cooking plain tomatoes.