Category Archives: Soup

Happy New Year 2016 – Lentil Soup

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(Click on PHOTO to enlarge and then hit the back arrow to return to original size).

Hi Everyone,

From my family to yours, have a very Happy, Healthy New Year.

All the best to you in 2016.

It is customary in many countries around the world to eat “Good Luck” foods to ring in the New Year.

On New Year’s Day in the Italian tradition it is customary to eat Lentils and Cotechino Sausage. The lentils, because they are shaped like little coins symbolize good fortune and prosperity. The cotechino, is a big pork sausage that’s boiled over low heat for about four hours before serving. When sliced, the pieces also look like coins and is meant to give wealth in the new year. My grandmother would also add spinach to the lentils because it is green and resembles the color of money.

So to keep with tradition, I wanted to share my recipes for Lentils with you. 

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Diane’s Lentil Soup

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 medium red onion, chopped

3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

3-4 garlic cloves, chopped

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

1 (14 ½ oz.) can of diced tomatoes with their juices

1 tbsp. tomato paste

1 bag of lentils (1 bag usually equals 1 ¼ cups)

8 cups low sodium chicken broth (2 boxes) or homemade broth

4- 6 sprigs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 cup grated cheese

Cooks Note: I always make lentil soup when I have the bone of a spiral ham. You could use a ham hock or skip this ingredient entirely

I have also used a 1/2 lb. of chopped bacon sauteed in a small amount of oil as the first step.

Directions:

  • Sort lentils for any stones, rinse with cold water – set aside
  • Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat
  • (saute bacon if using)
  • Add the red onion, celery and carrots and a pinch of salt to sweat the vegetables.
  • After 2-3 minutes add the garlic, tomato paste and pinch of red pepper and sauté until all the vegetables are tender, about 5-8 minutes
  • Add the tomatoes with their juices
  • Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes
  • Add the lentils and mix well to coat. Sauté 1-2 minutes
  • Add the broth, bay leaf, thyme springs, and ham bone, if using
  • Bring to a boil over high heat
  • Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes
  • Remove the ham bone; when cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone. Discard the bone; dice the meat and return to the soup. Discard the bay leaf
  • Add salt and pepper and taste for seasonings
  • When serving, you can drizzle soup with a little olive oil and serve with grated cheese

 Cooks Note- salt the lentils at the end of cooking, rather than the beginning, so that they don’t remain hard.

 I hope you try this recipe and it brings you and your loved ones,

good fortune in 2016 !

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Diane

Please ask your family and friends to follow and share DishingwithDiane.com either on facebook or sign up for emails directly from the web page.

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post…

And please continue to send me your comments, I love hearing from you.

Shrimp and Clam Chowder

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Hi Everyone, 

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends. My son is visiting for three weeks, so I am having a great time. That is why DishingwithDiane.com has been so quiet lately, I am enjoying every minute that my son is home.

But I will be back in 2016 with more stories and more tablescapes.

I just had to stop what I was doing so I could share this fantastic recipe with you. I know, more fish. You think I would be sick of fish by now right after Christmas Eve and the Feast of the Seven Fishes, but no. I could have fish every day of my life.

This recipe was given to me by a dear friend and fellow blogger, Peter Battaglia. Peter has a terrific website called, A FOOD OBSESSION (see link below).

You have to give it a look for yourself. Peter is a wonderful chef and not only does he share his great recipes on his blog, he also shares stories of his Italian heritage and experiences of his travels.

I saw Peter’s “Shrimp and Clam Chowder” recipe and I immediately stopped in my tracks. Everything I loved all in one recipe; soup, clams and shrimps. I hit the trifecta.

I looked over the recipe and both the ingredients and directions were quite simple so I decided to give it a try. I am so glad that I did, it was delicious. The chowder is smooth and velvety, not too fishy and a hint of heat – just perfect.

 I originally planned to make the chowder as part of my Christmas Eve menu but with all the other fish dishes that evening, I decided to wait for another night.

I am so glad that I waited because during the week, we had a cold rainy day that was the perfect weather for soup. I could now savor the flavor of the chowder and really enjoy it. Like I said, it was delicious. My entire family loved it and my husband said it was restaurant quality that reminded him of a soup we had at the famous Oyster Bar in NYC.

I immediately got in touch with Peter to let him know how terrific this chowder was and asked if I could showcase it on DishingwithDiane.com

So with Peter’s permission, here is the link to A FOOD OBSESSION and this wonderful recipe. You won’t be disappointed, give it a try.

https://afoodobsessionblog.wordpress.com/

I hope you have a safe New Year’s Eve and 2016 brings you the best life has to offer.

I wish you good health, happiness and many blessings.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Diane

Please ask your family and friends to follow and share DishingwithDiane.com either on facebook or sign up for emails directly from the web page.

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post…

And please continue to send me your comments, I love hearing from you.

Uncle Vinny’s Soup

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(Click on PHOTO to enlarge and then hit the back arrow to return to original size).

Hi everyone, 

I prepared this tablescape on Friday and was about to post it when the terror attacks struck Paris and then I couldn’t post anything. My heart is broken and saddened by the events in Paris and my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Paris.

This is a fun blog meant to be informative and entertaining and that is my goal. I hope this post can make you smile, even for a brief moment…..

Yesterday I was reminiscing about my Uncle Vinny. Uncle Vinny was a very tall, loud, loving man that worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and his family meant the world to him. He was the father to my cousins Laura and Jeanette and husband to my Dad’s sister Rose. He was also one of the first “foodies” that I ever met, even before that term was made popular.

To me he was a gentle giant and if you read my 4th of July post, he is the uncle that always drove out from Brooklyn to give us the best fireworks display each year. He loved all the kids so much. But for me, he always brought me my favorite, sparklers!

Back to my uncle, the foodie. My Uncle Vinny was very particular about what he ate and he had to have his food from certain places around Brooklyn. This drove my Aunt Rose crazy. He had a special butcher, fish monger, and grocer. You name the food and he had someone special to buy it from. All the store owners knew him and knew how he liked his food. 

In addition to the usual Italian fare, he introduced me to certain Italian delicacies when I was a child. For example, Uncle Vinny ate rabbit, snails, tripe, frog legs and the ever frightening lambs head at Easter. Yes, I have to say that I have tasted it all; probably because he told me after I took a bite what I was eating, but I tried it none the less.

But of all the foods he loved, Uncle Vinny LOVED “escarole soup with meatballs” the best. Today it is know by the name, Italian Wedding Soup. I have no idea how this soup evolved into that name and honestly, I have never seen it served at any Italian wedding I have attended.

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In our home we renamed the soup to be respectfully called “Uncle Vinny Soup”. Even when I had friends over, they all knew it by that name. Uncle Vinny became famous for this soup and I think as a food lover, he was thrilled that a food was named after him.

In fact, every year we had to have Uncle Vinny soup for our primo course at Thanksgiving. I still keep this tradition going since I got married and passed this along to my son. It brings a smile to my face when serving this soup, as if Uncle Vinny is sending us a blessing from heaven. 

And no Thanksgiving is complete without it.

Yesterday for some reason, I woke up and Uncle Vinny was on my mind. Did you ever have that happen with someone? You just can’t stop thinking about them. Well, in his memory, I decided to make his soup and not wait until Thanksgiving. I had all the ingredients in the house and took that as a sign to start making soup.

Of course, I will still be making this soup again on Thanksgiving.

We can’t break a tradition.

I want to share this special recipe with all of you. I hope you try it and enjoy.

But first, a simple Autumn tablescape to showcase the soup.

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Naturally with all of the beautiful colors of the leaves changing this time of year, I had to use dishes with autumn leaves featured. 

The dishes I am using today are my every day Autumn dishes, (yes, I change my dishes quite often). The dishes are a light beige background adorned with leaves in beautiful fall colors, along with acorns, cranberries and tartan plaid ribbons.

Something different for me this time; the dishes are square. I usually gravitate toward round dishes, but they were too pretty to pass up.

The name of the dish pattern is “Autumn Celebration” and that is exactly what it is.

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Since there are so many colors and patterns going on with this dish, I decided to stay with the neutral color scheme for my accessories so I am using a very basic tan tablecloth.

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However, I am picking up the leaf pattern from the dishes with the napkins I chose. They are once again, a light beige background with autumn leaves in the same fall colors as the dish.

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The napkin rings are wrapped rayon yarn in autumn colors. I am using the spiced red and gold from the set that also includes forest green and brown. 

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You know I love to set a table with a charger plate but it wouldn’t work for this tablescape. Since the dishes are square I am using  NEW autumn placemats that I bought in Pier 1 that could work perfectly. The placemats are gathered maple leaves. I fell in love with these placemats as soon as I saw them. The colors are just so rich with the gold accents.

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The flatware is also a neutral color and I am using off white with a pearl finish to pick up the background of the dishes. This time I am setting the table with the addition of a soup spoon.  It doesn’t come with the set but I always use a soup spoon for soup instead of a large dinner spoon.

I have been doing this since I was a child (thanks Mom) and it’s a habit I just can’t break. I even bought a set of soup spoons for my son when he got his apartment.

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Keeping up with the simple and neutral color scheme; I am using amber goblets for my glassware. You have seen these before on a few of my other tablescapes. The amber picks up the color of the acorns on the dish.

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I wanted an earthy feel to the centerpiece, so I am using a basket made completely out of twigs. I usually have this basket in my den (remember the Safari room)? This time I am filling it with assorted gourds and autumn leaves for a real outdoor feel.

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The table scatter (which I must have) for my tablescapes, are various colored autumn leaves.

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I am using two other pieces from the Autumn Celebration collection and that is the soup tureen and also the small oval Thanksgiving platter which I will use to serve hot biscuits.

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What is better than soup with hot buttered biscuits? I could have that every day for every meal.

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The saying on the platter is a quote from American poet, Wilbur D. Nesbit.

“Forever on Thanksgiving Day. The heart will find the pathway home”

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This simple lunch is served in memory of my Uncle Vinny; a man who brought a lot of love and fun to the family and is missed so deeply.

There is a reason why Uncle Vinny was on my mind today; maybe to send us a blessing before the holiday season or just remind me not to forget to make the soup.

Please try the soup recipe (recipe printed at the end of the post) and may you and your family receive many blessings of your own.

Don’t forget some hot buttered biscuits to go along with the soup. These are buttermilk biscuits topped with sesame seeds and LOTS of butter.

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Place Setting

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Tablescape Details

Autumn Celebration dishes from Macy’s

Napkins from The Christmas Tree Store

Tablecloth from Amazon

Napkin Rings from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Maple Leaf placemats from Pier 1

Off White Pearl flatware from Amazon

Twig centerpiece from Fortunoff’s

Gourds and leaves from Michael’s Arts and Crafts

Amber goblets from JC Penney

Soup spoons from Chef’s Catalog

I have also included my recipes for homemade chicken broth, chicken stock, meatballs and meatballs with sausage along with the soup recipe in case you want to look these over as well.

Have fun cooking.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Diane

Please ask your family and friends to follow DishingwithDiane.com either on facebook or sign up for emails directly from the web page. 

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post…

And please continue to send me your comments, I love hearing from you.

Let’s get started…

I am making homemade chicken broth first. Usually, I have some broth in the freezer, but not today.

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Uncle Vinny Soup

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Ingredients:

  • 8 cups of homemade chicken broth (recipe follows), canned or boxed is fine*.
  • 3 large carrots, diced
  • 3 large celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Red pepper flakes – to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp. of tomato paste
  • Fresh nutmeg
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup grated cheese + 3 tbsp. for egg mixture
  • 1-2 bunches of escarole, washed and shredded (approx. 3-4 cups)
  • ½ cup of parsley- chopped fine
  • 1-2 cans of cannellini beans (your choice) –rinsed and drained
  • 1 ½ lbs. of mini meatballs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 Cooked ditalini, acini di pepe or pastina – (1 cup dry)

  • (Optional – 2 tbsp. chicken fat)
  • (Optional – shredded chicken from homemade soup)

In a large pot, sauté the carrots, celery and onion in 3 TBSP of olive oil for 10 minutes until veggies soften. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and 1 tbsp. tomato paste and cook for 1 more minute

Add the chopped escarole and beans to the pot and sauté until the escarole wilts (3-4 minutes)

Add 8 cups of broth (homemade, canned or boxed *), parsley, bay leaf, salt and pepper and simmer for 15 minutes. (If you are using chicken fat add it now)

  • If you use boxed soup, “Imagine” has an organic chicken broth but DO NOT BUY the Kosher chicken broth variety- that contains soy, canola oil, yeast extract (aka MSG) and xanthan gum

While the soup is simmering on LOW, make the mini meatballs (various recipes below, either with or without sausage), and then add them to the broth – they will cook in the broth in approx. 20 minutes (they will float to the top of the pot when they are done)…If you are using shredded chicken from the broth, add it now.

Meanwhile, prepare the egg mixture – In a bowl combine 3 large eggs to 3 tbsp. of grated cheese. (Additional parsley can be added at this time). Beat the mixture lightly with a fork or whisk.

Add the mixture in one fell swoop to the hot broth, stirring vigorously with a whisk or fork so as to break up the egg (this will form fine light flakes or stands of egg). Simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly and remove from heat.

I serve the soup over cooked pasta in the soup bowl. (I don’t like to add the pasta to the soup because it expands and gets mushy the longer it sits)

Serve the soup with additional grated cheese

Serves 6-8

MEATBALL RECIPE

  • 1 ½ lbs. ground grass fed beef or ½ lb each of meatloaf mix( Veal, pork, beef)
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup grated cheese
  • ½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, diced or 1 tsp minced garlic from a jar
  • Fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste

Combine ALL ingredients in a large mixing bowl. The mixture should be solid, not mushy. If too mushy, add more breadcrumbs. Roll the meat to form mini meatballs

MEATBALLS WITH SAUSAGE 

  • ½ lb. grass fed ground beef
  • ½ lb. ground pork
  • ½ lb. ground veal
  • 2 mild sausages, casings removed
  • ½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup grated cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, diced or 1 tsp minced garlic from a jar
  • 1 tsp of kosher salt & ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup whole milk

Using a whisk, mix the milk and the breadcrumbs in a deep bowl. Add ALL the remaining ingredients. Mix well and form the mini meatballs. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place meatballs 2 inches apart. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until lightly brown…add the meatballs to the soup

HOMEMADE CHICKEN BROTH

This is a good basic broth to keep in the freezer to use as a base for other soups, as a flavor base for sauces, or to use on it’s own. Simmer it slowly to prevent cloudiness. To create a richer, darker broth, you can roast the chicken in the oven before simmering.

  • Add any saved chicken parts (wings, necks and bones you saved in your freezer for stock) to the pot

Ingredients:

DO NOT wash the chicken

  • 1 (4 lb. chicken, whole)
  • 8 cups of water (2 quarts)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1 medium parsnip, peeled
  • 3 stalks of celery cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 head of garlic, halved
  • 3 generous sprigs of fresh thyme OR 1 tsp. dried
  • 3 generous sprigs of fresh parsley OR ¼ cup just leaves
  • 1 small bunch of dill, tied together with a string
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to rub inside the cavity of the chicken (2 tsp salt & ¼ tsp fresh black pepper) plus additional salt and pepper for seasoning
  • (Optional – 1 organic tomato, quartered)
  • (Optional – 1 (14 oz.) can of low sodium chicken broth for added flavor)
  1. Combine ALL ingredients in a large stockpot. Do not remove the skin from the chicken because this helps to create a richer soup. Simmer on MEDIUM to just under a boil
  2. Reduce the heat to a very LOW simmer, so that 1 or 2 bubbles break the surface of the broth about once a minute – this will cook for 3 hours. Periodically, skim fat and scum from the surface with a ladle, large spoon or skimmer……(To prevent losing a lot of stock when skimming, put the skimmed liquid into a degreasing cup, and return useable broth back to the pot)
  3. At hour # 2 or until chicken is cooked through but not dry, remove the chicken from the pot and continue to simmer the broth. Cool the chicken for about 10 minutes. Cut the chicken meat from the bone, and return the bones to the pot and cook for the last hour.
  4. When all the cooking is done, strain the broth through cheesecloth into another pot. Taste and season with salt & pepper
  5. Broth can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days

Chicken Stock instead of broth

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 ½ lbs. of chicken wings, backs and bones
  • 3 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 onions coarsely chopped
  • 4 ribs of celery, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. of tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 bunch parsley stems
  1. In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil over high heat until smoking. Add ALL the chicken parts and brown all over, stirring to avoid burning. Remove the chicken and reserve.
  2. Add the carrots, onions and celery to the pot and add 3 quarts of water, the tomato paste, peppercorns and parsley.
  3. Stir with a wooden spoon to dislodge the browned chicken and vegetable bits from the bottom of the pan.
  4. Bring almost to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook at a LOW simmer until reduced by half, about 2 hours – occasionally skimming excess fat.
  5. Remove from the heat, strain and press on the solids with the bottom of the ladle to extract out all the liquids.
  6. Stir the stock to facilitate cooling and set aside.
  7. Refrigerate stock in small containers for up to a week or freeze up to a month — yields 1 ½ quarts

Saint Joseph’s Day

Once again the month of March is like February, and all the holidays that I prepare a tablescape for are all a few days apart so I decided to showcase them randomly and not on the actual date to spread them apart. Let’s start with Saint Joseph’s Day.

(click on photos to enlarge)

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(photo credit-sodahead.com)

Saint Joseph’s day is March 19th

At the end of this post I have included all the traditional recipes for Saint Joseph’s Day including a recipe for “fig cookies” or Cuccidate from a dear friend, Paula Carbone Gati who has a fantastic facebook page I follow.

Paula’s page is called  Born Again Italian” and it highlights all the old Italian family recipes. Give it a look.

10432988_10203212085284693_4395128701798220187_n- cuccidate from Paula Gati

There is no special tablescape that I can prepare for Saint Joseph’s Day unless I make a Saint Joseph’s Day altar and that is a little bit much for a household of two. If there were Saint Joseph’s Day dinnerware, believe me, I would own them. Instead, I use my dishes from Italy.

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I am having this meal twice this month. The first time so I can show you a picture of what my holiday meal will look like for Saint Joseph’s Day and then the second time on the actual holiday, March 19th.

 Saint Joseph is the patron saint for my family, so instead of a tablescape, I decided to share with you some of my family traditions and customary foods for this special holiday.

Before we start, a little background for Saint Joseph or San Giuseppe that might help you understand the holiday a little better. Saint Joseph was the husband of Mary. It is in Sicily where Saint Joseph is regarded as their patron saint for preventing a famine during the Middle Ages. There was a severe drought and the people prayed to Saint Joseph for rain. They promised that if he answered their prayers and the rain came they would prepare a feast in his honor.

Well, the rain came and the people prepared a large banquet. Legend has it that the fava bean was the crop which saved the population from starvation and that is always part of the Saint Joseph day dinner.

When I was younger (much younger), on Saint Joseph’s Day my Grandmother would take me to bring food to the Saint Joseph’s Day altar of her local church after Mass. Many of the older generations set up altars in their homes, but we did not. We always wore red to honor Saint Joseph, in the same way that green is worn on Saint Patrick’s Day.

The altars are quite a sight to see and they have 3 tiers to represent the Holy Trinity. The top tier holds the statue of Saint Joseph surrounded by flowers (especially lilies). The reason is that – “The lily is associated with Saint Joseph, spouse of Mary, through an ancient legend that he was chosen from among other men by the blossoming of his staff like a lily”. 

 The other tiers hold candles, figurines, special breads, pastries, lemons for luck, fava beans, pineapple for hospitality and wine. There is also a basket on the bottom tier where you can place prayer petitions.

 Here is a picture I found of of a Saint Joseph’s Day altar just to give you a better idea. Definitely wouldn’t work in my dining room.

5547597178_9560e0b681_z- st joseph altar USE

(photo credit-isitsauceorgravy.com)

 In my family, my Grandmother (even though we are not Sicilian) believed deeply that praying to Saint Joseph would protect her family and she bought all her grandchildren, at a very young age, a statue of Saint Joseph. This is a photo of mine that I proudly display in my bedroom today. It is over 50 years old. In fact, my son’s middle name is Joseph to honor Saint Joseph.

st joseph statue

In addition to the celebration of Saint Joseph’s Day, I have always enjoyed the FOOD for Saint Joseph’s Day. Many of you know this day only by the pastry (zeppole or sfinge di San Giuseppe) but we had a fantastic meal before the pastry.

(There were no words to describe how fantastic these pastries were today)

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Purchased at Alpine Bakery- Smithtown, NY

My family would make the pilgrimage each year to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx because we wouldn’t run the risk of buying ingredients at a local grocery store and be disappointed. No, ingredients had to be Italian and imported. No questions asked.

If you ever have the chance to visit Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, NY you will be thrilled. The food is so fresh and it is like stepping back in time with the mom and pop shops. But Arthur Avenue isn’t just shops, it’s restaurants as well and the food is fabulous. A real Little Italy.

Different regions celebrate Saint Joseph’s Day differently but all involve meatless foods (because this holiday always falls during Lent), minestrone soup and pasta with breadcrumbs (The breadcrumbs represent saw dust since Saint Joseph was a carpenter), seafood, and fava beans for luck and for dessert, the star of the show, zeppole and sfinge di San Giuseppe.

Here is a picture of my minestrone soup

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In my family, we made minestrone soup followed by bucatini with anchovies and breadcrumbs. (For those of you who are not familiar, bucatini is basically a larger spaghetti with a hole inside. Another pasta that is traditional is mafaldine; this looks like thin strips of lasagna noodles). Sicilians usually make the dish with sardines (Pasta con Sarde) instead of the anchovies.

Here is a picture of my bucatini with breadcrumbs

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The Saint Joseph’s Day bread was another special part of the meal and my Dad would buy the bread and have it blessed before he brought it home. It is a round crusty loaf scored with a cross.

joebreadsm2- ST JOSEPH BREAD

(photo credit-bennisoncakes.com)

And now back to the pastries. They are called zeppole or sfinge di San Guiseppe and I am sure you have all seen them. It’s a sweet dough like a big cream puff split and filled. They can be filled two ways. One with cannoli cream with tiny chocolate chips and candied fruit and also with custard cream; both topped with powdered sugar and a cherry and both delicious. Every year I always have to have one with each filling.

A fine tradition I passed along to my son.

st joseph's pastries 2

(photo credit-homestyledessertsbakery.com)

A lot of the old traditions unfortunately are not practiced as much today. Grandparents and parents have passed on and lives have become much busier, but I try to keep as many traditions going in my family as I can. I do make the bucatini with anchovies and the minestrone soup, but I buy my pastries because baking is just not my thing. (I have included the recipe at the bottom of the post, in case you want to take the baking challenge). I personally don’t make the fava beans for this holiday either, but I wanted to mention it again because it stands for “good luck” in case you wanted to include them on your menu.

All in all this holiday brings back great memories for me when I was younger and my family was still here with me, enjoying each others company and a great meal together.

Here is a picture of me (I am the toddler) with my parents, grandmother and two older sisters. All of my family have passed on now and all are missed every day. I keep the traditions alive to honor them; and thank them for all they have taught me about traditions and being proud of my heritage. 

Squeglia Family

(click on photos to enlarge)

I don’t have many photos for this holiday but at the bottom of this post, I will leave you with some traditional recipes if you want to celebrate St Joseph’s Day with your family.

It has been my pleasure to share my traditions with you for this special day. I hope this post gave a few of you some inspiration to try some new Saint Joseph’s Day holiday recipes.

Until my next post, stay well and make every day a celebration!

Diane

Saint Joseph’s Day is also the birthday of my dear friend Sue Tetonic.

Happy Birthday Sue!

RECIPES

Toasted Fresh Bread Crumbs

Warm 2 tablespoon olive oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat.  Add 3/4 

cup of fresh breadcrumbs and stir to coat with oil.  Cook, stirring constantly,

until the crumbs are golden brown and crunchy, about 5 minutes. I add a little grated cheese

to the breadcrumbs as well. You can never have to much cheese.

Bucatini with Anchovies and Breadcrumbs

Ingredients:

 12 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained and finely chopped (small can- 2 oz.)

Salt

1 pound bucatini

1/2 cup olive oil

6 large garlic cloves, minced

Large pinch of red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2/3 cup toasted fresh breadcrumbs

 Directions:

 Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve some pasta water.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat

Add the garlic, red pepper, and finely chopped anchovies.  Cook, stirring

until the anchovies dissolve.  Remove the skillet from the heat. 

Stir in the parsley

Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta.  Add the pasta to the

skillet with the anchovy sauce.  Toss until the strands are well coated.  Add

some of the reserved pasta water if the mixture seems too dry.  Set aside 2

tablespoons of the toasted bread crumbs.  Add the remaining crumbs to the

skillet and toss the pasta again.  Transfer the pasta to individual serving bowls.

Top each serving with a sprinkling of the reserved bread crumbs.  

Minestrone Soup

Ingredients:

¼ cup olive oil

1 cup onion, finely chopped

½ cup celery, with leaves, chopped

1 carrot, sliced thin

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

1 (28 oz.) can of whole tomatoes, with juice

1 large can of cannellini beans

5 cups of beef or vegetable stock

½ cup flat parsley, finely chopped

1- 2 cups finely sliced, then roughly chopped spinach

2 zucchini, unpeeled and cut into little cubes

½ cup small pasta (like ditalini)

Freshly grated Parmesan or Locatelli cheese

1 tsp. dried basil (optional)

1 tsp. dried oregano (optional)

pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

Sauté the onion, carrot and celery in the olive oil until soft. Toss in the garlic and stir for another minute.

Cut up the tomatoes and add them to the pot and cook down for 15 minutes.

Stir in the beef or vegetable stock and the bay leaf and beans and bring to a boil. Add half the parsley, dried oregano, dried basil, pinch of red pepper and lower the heat and cook for about 30 minutes

Add the spinach, zucchini and pasta and cook at a gentle boil until the pasta is tender. * If you are not serving the soup immediately, make the pasta separately and add to the soup when serving otherwise the pasta will absorb all the soup if left in the pot to sit.

When ready to serve, stir in the rest of the parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve with the crusty bread and topped with grated cheese

Fava Beans
(I do not remember who gave me this recipe).

1 lb. dried fava beans
1 bunch green onions
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic
3 bay leaves
chopped parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Cook dried fava beans in boiling water until tender, adding more water as needed. Sauté seasonings in olive oil ’til tender, then add to beans. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve in soup bowls.

Zeppole di San Giuseppe

Recipe credit-mangiabenepasta.com)

(Makes about 12 (2-1/2-inch) zeppoles

Ingredients:

 Pastry:

1 cup water

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Pinch of salt

1 cup flour

4 eggs

Filling:

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup whole milk

2 egg yolks

1/2 tablespoon dark rum

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup heavy cream, whipped

 Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Maraschino cherries

 Directions:

 To make the pastry:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

 In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, sugar, and salt. Bring to a

boil.  Remove from heat.  With a wooden spoon, beat in flour all at once.

Return to low heat.  Continue beating until mixture forms a ball and leaves

side of pan.  Remove from heat.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating hard

after each addition until smooth.  Continue beating until dough is satiny and

breaks in strands.  Allow the mixture to cool.

 Transfer the dough to a pastry bag with a large star tip.  For each pastry,

pipe a 2-1/2 -inch spiral with a raised outer wall on the baking sheet.  Bake

for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.  Remove and allow to cool before

filling.

 To make the filling:

Combine sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan.  In a bowl, whisk together

milk and egg yolks  Whisk milk mixture into sugar mixture.  Place the

saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking

constantly.  Boil for 1 minute; remove from heat.  Stir in rum, orange zest,

and vanilla.  Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl. Place a piece of plastic

wrap directly on the surface. Allow to cool for 30 minutes and then

refrigerate until cold.  Fold in the whipped cream.

 To assemble the zeppole:

Cut the pastries in half horizontally.  Transfer the filling mixture to a pastry

bag with a star tip.  Pipe some of the filling onto the cut side of the bottom

half of each pastry.  Place the top half of the pastry on the filling.

Pipe a small amount of the filling into the hole in the center of each pastry.

Place a maraschino cherry in the middle.  Dust the pastries with

confectioners’ sugar.

Fig Cookies (Cuccidate)

Courtesy of Paula Carbone Gati from facebook page- Born Again Italian

Dough:

4 cups of flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups of butter, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup of Crisco, cold and broken into small pieces
2 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
2 tsp vanilla

Filling:

One 12 oz pkg of dried figs, I use either mission or calimyrna
1/2 cup almonds… chopped,,,not to fine,,,more on the course side
1/2 cup of dates -no pits
1/2 cup of raisins
1/3 cup of honey
1/4 cup of orange marmalade
1/4 cup whiskey
1 tsp of good cinnamon

Icing:

4 cups confectionary sugar
a few table spoons of milk
nonpareils

In stand mixer…mix all dry ingredients, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt set aside….to this add butter pieces little at a time, then cold Crisco, then have all wet ingredients mixed and slowly add this to the flour until a nice smooth dough forms…after the dough comes together..put on table and knead a few minutes till the dough is smooth, add more flour if necessary… make a smooth ball and cover in saran and refrigerate …while you prepare filling

I double this recipe..because I make a big batch and for the amount of work that goes into this its best to do it at once…it makes approx 5 doz cookies for this recipe…. which is a good amount..but you can freeze these cookies..I usually pack 6 at a time in a Ziploc then put in glad ware container and take out as needed..they freeze really good.

I remove the dried stems from the figs, and put all the dried fruits through the meat grinder
when all the fruit is ground up I add the rest of ingredients,,, and mix really well…I usually let this sit over night for all the flavors to really marry.

Start the assembly…taking a piece of dough at a time roll out to make approx a 3 inch by 12 inch rectangle..cut with knife to square off…then take the fig filling and make a log approx 12 inches long….place this log onto the rectangle of dough and roll and have seam side down….cut approx 1 1/2 inch pieces and place on parchment lined cookie sheets…..350 degree oven for approx 15 minutes, till bottoms are slightly golden…
Make icing and after cookies are cool….spread a little icing onto each little bundle and sprinkle with some nonpareils…

New Year’s Eve

Even though it is after New Year’s Day, I still wanted to start this blog with my

first tablescape of the New Year

Ah, New Year’s Eve, the end of the busy holiday season, and 

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a time of reflection and hope for all good things in the New Year.

This year, before we left for dinner at a local restaurant, I set the table for the usual midnight hors d’ oeuvres and champagne. But when we got home from dinner we were too full to move, let alone eat one more bite, so I left the table set for the morning and this is where we had New Year’s Day breakfast (always, William Sonoma chocolate and plain croissants- if you haven’t tried them, order a box. They arrive frozen and you bake them fresh, you will not be disappointed.)

This tablescape is an example of a “mix and match” table- don’t be afraid to experiment -the table setting ranges from paper plates from Party City to champagne flutes from Tiffany’s and it all works out in the end.

(Click on photos to enlarge)

For the centerpiece I used an old square glass vase that I kept from a floral arrangement I received and Christmas ornaments from the Dollar Tree store.

Centerpieces can be simple, no need to call the florist all the time.2014-12-31 17.25.28The place setting:

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New Year’s Eve table details:

Placemats from HomeGoods

Tablecloth and napkins from Macy’s

Glass charger plates – from Crate & Barrel

Gold dinner plateplastic plate from Party City

Silver and white glass accent plate from Fortunoff’s (purchased many years ago.)

Theme paper plate from Party City

Flatware was a bridal shower gift (don’t ask how long ago)

Champagne Flutesfrom Tiffany’s

  I served dessert later in the day with New Year’s dishes from Pottery Barn

and a coffee set from Fortunoff’s.

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Holiday noisemakers and party hats are from Party City to complete the celebration and start the year off right.

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So that is my 1st tablescape for the New Year. I hope you enjoyed the pictures and tips and come back for my next post…

From my family to yours, have a wonderful 2015…cheers!

2015-01-01 00.29.05And for some “Italian” good luck, don’t forget the lentils for New Year’s Day

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Diane’s Lentil Soup

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 medium red onion, chopped

3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

3-4 garlic cloves, chopped

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

1 (14 ½ oz.) can of diced tomatoes with their juices

1 bag of lentils (1 bag usually equals 1 ¼ cups)

8 cups low sodium chicken broth (2 boxes) or homemade broth

4- 6 sprigs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 cup grated cheese

Optional: I always make lentil soup when I have the bone of a spiral ham. You could use a ham hock or skip this ingredient entirely

Directions:

  • Sort lentils for any stones, rinse with cold water – set aside
  • Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat
  • Add the red onion, celery and carrots and a pinch of salt to sweat the vegetables.
  • After 2-3 minutes add the garlic and pinch of red pepper and sauté until all the vegetables are tender, about 5-8 minutes
  • Add the tomatoes with their juices
  • Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes
  • Add the lentils and mix well to coat. Sauté 1-2 minutes
  • Add the broth, bay leaf, thyme springs, and ham bone, if using
  • Bring to a boil over high heat
  • Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes
  • Remove the ham bone; when cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone. Discard the bone; dice the meat and return to the soup. Discard the bay leaf
  • Add salt and pepper and taste for seasonings
  • When serving, you can drizzle soup with a little olive oil and serve with grated cheese