The Feast of San Gennaro

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(photo courtesy of http://millefiorifavoriti.blogspot.com/)

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Hi everyone,

I know it’s been a few weeks since I posted but life just got in the way. I have missed you all and I hope you are all well.

Today, (September 19th) is the Feast of San Gennaro.

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(photo courtesy of http://millefiorifavoriti.blogspot.com/)

The beloved Feast of San Gennaro is an annual celebration of the Patron Saint of Naples. The first Feast in NY took place on September 19, 1926 when newly arrived immigrants from Naples settled along Mulberry Street in the Little Italy section of New York City and decided to continue the tradition they had followed in Italy to celebrate the day in 305 A.D. when Saint Gennaro was martyred for the faith.

Since then the Feast has grown and is now New York City’s biggest, most famous and longest running religious festival and takes place in Little Italy each year for 11 days.

The streets of Little Italy are lined with food vendors, carnival games, stages and patio dining throughout the Feast of San Gennaro.

I will share with you, two of my recipes for “Feast Food” at the end of the post.

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(photo courtesy of http://millefiorifavoriti.blogspot.com/)

The food vendors during the Feast serve a variety of traditional Italian foods– sausage and peppers, zeppoles, calzone, gelato, tiramisu, torrone, broccoli rabe, stuffed artichokes, grilled eggplant, fried calamari, pork braciole, and my favorite, “rice balls”.

For dessert, mostaccioli riepeni (Italian chocolate cookies with fruit and nuts inside), Italian pastries such as cannoli, sfogliatelle, pignoli cookies, baci kisses and biscotti and let’s not forget the espresso, cappuccino and of course wine.

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(photo courtesy if http://millefiorifavoriti.blogspot.com/)

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(photo courtesy of http://millefiorifavoriti.blogspot.com/)

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(photo courtesy of http://millefiorifavoriti.blogspot.com/)

ARE YOU HUNGRY YET?

Zeppoles are one of the most popular foods at the Feast and with good reason- who doesn’t love fried dough dusted with powdered sugar?

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(photo courtesy of recipedeva.com)

Torrone is also quite popular- what more can I say? An Italian candy made from honey, sugar, toasted almonds, and egg whites- delicious.

torrone

(photo courtesy of wikiwand.com)

My recipes for today are two that I have previously posted but I wanted to put them together on this post as an easy reference for you, if you want to make “Feast food” for your family and friends. They are sausage & peppers and rice balls.

Since my last post about rice balls, when I introduced my beloved rice ball maker in the traditional round shape; I have since purchased another rice ball maker in a cone shape.

My mother made the cone shaped with sauteed broccoli rabe as a filling and the round was always traditional rice, meat, peas and mozzarella.

I got a little daring and made shrimp, peas, chorizo sausage and mozzarella for the cone shaped.

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If you would like to see step by step instructions with photos, just look at my original post from December 13, 2015 by typing “rice balls” in the search box and it will take you directly to the post.

Rice Balls

Ingredients:

For the risotto:

3 tbsp. of butter – ( 3 tbsp. of olive oil can be used if you prefer)

1 lb. Arborio rice (2 cups)

6 cups of chicken broth

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 small yellow onion, diced

1/2 cup grated cheese (Locatelli or Parmesan)

Salt and white pepper to taste

1 package of saffron powder (optional)

For the meat filling:

3 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 yellow onion, finely diced

1 celery stalk, finely diced

1 carrot, finely diced

1 lb. ground beef

6 ounces (1 small can of tomato paste)

1 cup water

1 -1/2  cups frozen peas, thawed ( more can be added to your liking)

1/2 cup of fresh basil

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For assembly you will need:

Fresh mozzarella ball, diced into 1/2 inch cubes

1 cup all purpose flour

Salt and fresh ground pepper

4 eggs, beaten

Breadcrumbs, for coating

Vegetable oil, for frying

Directions

For the rice: 

Follow package directions

or 

Follow the instructions below

Heat 6 cups of chicken broth in a sauce pot- (If using saffron add it to the broth now).

Heat the butter in another pot over medium high heat

Add the onions and saute until translucent, adding a pinch of salt

Add the rice and stir until evenly coated. Toast for a few minutes.

Add 1/2 cup of white wine. Once the alcohol starts to burn off, start adding the first ladle of HOT chicken broth

Once the broth has been absorbed, continue to add a ladle at at time of broth, stirring occasionally.

Once ALL the broth has been absorbed, the rice should be tender and creamy, but “al dente”

Remove the pot from the heat and add 1 tbsp butter and the grated cheese and mix well. 

Pour the rice onto a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours to cool.

The rice should be able to form into a ball once cooled properly.

For the filling:

Heat 3 tbsp. of olive oil in a saucepan

Saute the onion, celery and carrot until translucent

Add the ground beef and season with salt and pepper to taste

Once the beef is added, with a wooden spoon, break down any chunks; the beef should be as fine as possible.

After browning the meat, if you find there is too much fat, simply drain some of the fat out and continue (you don’t want to make the rice soggy)

Add the can of tomato paste and 1 cup water. Mix well

Once the ground beef and the tomato paste begin to simmer, turn down the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes.

If the mixture begins to stick, add a touch of water

Add the peas and 1/2 cup of torn fresh basil

Cook for another 5 minutes to heat the peas

Transfer to a bowl and cool in the refrigerator

For Assembly:

Set up a dredging station of flour, eggs and breadcrumbs

Remove the cooled rice from the refrigerator and add two egg yolks to help bind the rice mixture

Remove the cooled meat mixture from the refrigerator

“If you do not have a rice ball maker, follow the directions below”

Take a handful of cooled rice, form a ball and flatten slightly while forming and indentation in the middle of the ball

Take a teaspoon of the cooled meat mixture and mozzarella cubes and place in the indentation of the rice

Take another handful of rice and finish forming the rice ball. The rice will be sticky so dip your hands in water to better handle the rice

Repeat with the remaining ingredients until all the rice balls are formed

Place the tray of rice balls in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up

Now to the dredging station:

Add a pinch of salt and pepper to the flour. Add some grated cheese to the breadcrumbs. Added parsley to the breadcrumbs (optional).

Dip each rice ball in flour, then egg and then the breadcrumbs to evenly coat

Once all the rice balls are coated, place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes while you get the fryer ready.

After 15 minutes, fry the rice balls in 3 inches of oil in a sauce pot (or fryer) at 350 degreesfor approximately 3-4 minutes until golden brown.

Once they are done, place them on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels to absorb any extra oil. Sprinkle with some grated cheese.

COOKS NOTE: If you don’t have a candy thermometer to test the temperature of the oil, just heat the oil and toss in some breadcrumbs. If they sizzle, you are ready. Don’t overcrowd the pan or the temperature will drop.

Have a great time cooking and enjoy your arancini!

They are best served hot, but can be served at room temperature as well.

Serve with marinara sauce (optional)

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Sausage and Peppers

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This is the basic recipe for sausage and peppers. At the Feast, you will get this piled high on a hero.

Sausage and Peppers

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 large skinny sausage ring- I use parsley & cheese (or 1 lb. sausage- sweet, hot, mixed- your choice)

¼ cup olive oil

2 yellow onions, sliced

5- 6 sweet bell peppers – mix of colors, sliced

5 or more cloves of garlic- minced

Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper- approx. 1 tsp each

½ tsp dried oregano

¼ tsp. red pepper flakes

2 tsp. garlic powder

½ cup fresh basil or parsley, chopped – your choice

3 tbsp. tomato paste (regular or spicy)

1 cup white wine

Optional Additions:

2 cherry peppers in the jar, finely diced

2 sweet peppadew peppers (found in an Italian deli), diced small

4 sundried tomatoes-diced

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage ring and cook until light brown on both sides, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

Add the peppers, onions, salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper to the skillet and cook until they pick up some color and soften, about 5 minutes. Add the oregano, garlic powder and garlic and cook for another minute

(Add any pepper additions at this time)

Make room in the center of the pan and add the tomato paste and stir for a few minutes to toast the tomato paste; then mix it well with the peppers and onions.

Add the white wine, ½ cup chopped fresh basil or parsley. Stir to combine and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the browned bits. Bring to a simmer.

Cut the sausage into 1 inch piece and add the sausage back to the pan and stir to combine.

Cook until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.

Can be served in a bowl or on a toasted hero roll. Serve immediately.

*Can also be served with polenta

ENJOY the Feast foods from San Gennaro

and until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Diane

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