Turkey London Broil

This weekend was opening day for my running group.  Our first meeting of the season and our first run together in my favorite place – Central Park.  I have such a long history of going to Central Park and whenever I return after an absence, it feels as if I’ve come home.  I wandered those rocks, tunnels and paths as a child and teenager.  I spent countless days discussing life on those rocks, as we sunned ourselves and laughed the day away.  When I was 13, my friends Stacey, Michele and I used to ride the train from school to the park and hang out.  We spent so many days just wandering around and I remember how grown up I felt to be there.  We spent a lot of time at the zoo and just enjoying being in the city.  There’s really not a better park in New York City that I know of and none that holds so many of my memories.  Forty years later, as I run past those rocks, I find myself glancing up hoping to catch a glimpse of my younger self as we were back then.  Oh, if only for a day…

StaceyCentralPark
Will look for photos from our middle school Central Park days. This is Stacey, front and center, circa 1979 in Central Park.

This weekend, my running group met at the YMCA on 63rd Street and proceeded to walk over to the park together.  We did our loop of the park and then returned to the YMCA for a breakfast meeting with Olympian, Jeff Galloway.   This run was my first run since that fateful injury in late October, just two short weeks before the NYC marathon.  I must admit I was slightly nervous, but knew I had worked hard on my functional strength over the long winter.  I’m not at my running weight yet, but my legs are strong and ready to begin again.  Thankfully, the first run is just one quick loop around the park.  Anyone who actually enjoys running knows what I mean when I say how good it felt to be able to run again.  It was a gorgeous, sunny day and I had my friend Helen by my side.  My husband and dog were hanging out in the park, waiting for me at the finish.  Life doesn’t get any better than that.

This is the group entering the park at Columbus Circle.  You can’t see me, but I see Helen’s blue shirt.  We are in the middle front, behind the woman in the pink jacket.

Today, I am happy to say my glutes felt like they were used on the run.  I woke with slight muscle soreness and was so excited that it wasn’t in my quads, or feet, where it normally lands.  The training is working and I will continue to strengthen my core and glutes. This morning, I went for a 90 minute yoga class which ended up being a beautiful mix of flow and stretch, ending in a wonderful restorative resting pose.  It was exactly what my body and mind needed.  When I got home, my husband showed me a beautiful Turkey London Broil he had purchased.  I’ll admit I wasn’t as excited as he was, but quickly set out to prepare for our Sunday meal.

As I stared at the beautiful turkey meat, I dreamed of making a rolled and stuffed turkey meal.  Oh how great would mushroom bread stuffing be on this cloudy day.  I also thought about making a lovely mushroom pan gravy to eat over the meat.  Then, I remembered that I’ve got a goal ahead of me and my husband really wanted it grilled.  I mixed up a quick marinade and put the turkey in to sit for about 3-4 hours, turning once midway through.  I then spent the day relaxing, what a difference from the endless meal prepping I used to do on Sunday’s.  I love cooking, but not cooking all my meals for the week opens up the day to do anything I wish.  Plant based meals are generally super easy to prepare and can be cooked in 30 minutes.  This allows me time to make a quick, fresh and delicious meal when I get home from work.

Ironically, my husband has lost a ton of weight eating what I’m eating.  He didn’t even need to lose any weight, as he was already at a very healthy weight.  Isn’t it the way?  Of course he would lose more weight than me and fast too.  He’s so excited about it too and keeps telling me how good he feels.  Me, I’ve lost 10 pounds so far and have more to go to get back to a comfortable running weight.  The next phase of my online course will reintroduce foods that were eliminated to see how my body responds to them.  This will be done slowly, over the course of the next 3 weeks.  I’m truly not craving anything and eating intuitively has allowed me to eat what I need.  I haven’t been stress eating and mostly eat my meals and no snacks.  It’s been a great learning experience and I’ve decided to continue with the plant based meals, as I feel they are fueling me better and I just plain feel better.  I’m going to cycle through the online course again as it was a lot to process the first time through.

Turkey London Broil & Chopped Salad

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp ginger
  • 1 Tbsp organic raw honey
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Marinade Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Whisk together to combine.
  3. Place Turkey London Broil into the marinade and turn over to coat both sides.
  4. Cover bowl and place in refrigerator for 3-4 hours, turning once.5150C680-BD2A-4453-AF25-86CD7B62F4B3.jpeg

Turkey Cooking Directions:

  1. Take turkey out of marinade and discard the marinade.
  2. Salt turkey on both sides lightly
  3. Place on hot grill and cook about 8 minutes on each side.  (I use a T-fal grill so no need to turn.  This grill has a sensor and tells you when the food is ready.  It comes completely apart when cooled and goes right in the dishwasher.  I’ve had it for years now and it was the best investment ever!)
  4. Let turkey rest for about 5 minutes before carving.
  5. Slice to desired thickness.

Leftovers can be used in salads or sandwiches all week.  It was a delicious, light meal which we plated with a hearty chopped kale, broccoli slaw salad.

This is the grill I use. Click on the picture to see further information.

Prime Rib Roast

Yesterday we celebrated Easter and my husband’s 61st birthday.  It hardly seems possible that we’ve been together for 40 years!  Where exactly time goes I do not know.  My children all came home for the holiday and the weather was just perfect for some outside fun.

Easter has always been a big holiday in our family.  Usually it falls closer to my birthday in April, but this year it was my husband’s turn to get the holiday.  Bob requested that I make Prime Rib for his  birthday dinner.  I don’t often make this meal, but when I do I wonder why that is since it is so delicious.  When I was a young child, my mom dressed me in my Easter finest each year.  As you can see by my face in this photo, I was less than thrilled with these outfits.  My friend Lianne lived on the block and she looks equally as thrilled with the outfit as I was.  Her basket hat really tops off the look perfectly.

LauraLianneEaster
Laura & Lianne at Easter on 72nd Street

My mom tried to dress my daughter Cathy for Easter when she was young, but she was even less tolerant than I was about it.  That lasted a few years and then mom gave up.

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Cathy at Easter less than happy about outfit

Yesterday was such a beautiful and sunny day.  We were able to play a few games as the men watched the ballgames.  We got to enjoy the yard as it was warm and sunny, despite the talk of more snow heading our way in the coming days.  My beautiful daughter and daughter in law to be were both willing to play some Jenga with me.  I lost, of course, the first game but not the second.  Then we had our dinner and celebration.  A truly beautiful day.

897DA1BD-ABF2-4A66-8224-94C20E7AAC0B
Cathy & Gracie (No Easter hats required)

The recipe I use comes from Ina Garten, my go to chef for many delicious meals.  I highly recommend you follow her directions exactly as the roast comes out perfectly every time.  I made a nice pan gravy to go with the roast and some mashed potatoes.  We have a small bit leftover for today’s meal and for my husband to pick on while I’m away.

Ina’s Prime Rib Roast

Ingredients:

  • One 3-rib standing rib roast (7 to 8 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Two hours before roasting, remove the meat from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. (Make sure your oven is clean!)
  3. Place the oven rack on the second lowest position.
  4. Place the roast in a pan large enough to hold it comfortably, bone-side down, and spread the top thickly with the salt and pepper.
  5. Roast the meat for 45 minutes.
  6. Without removing the meat from the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F and roast for another 30 minutes.
  7. Increase the temperature to 450 degrees F and roast for another 15 to 30 minutes, until the internal temperature of the meat is 125 degrees F. (Be sure the thermometer is exactly in the center of the roast.)
  8. The total cooking time will be between 1 1/2 and 1 3/4 hours.

Forgive the bad picture, I eat the end only so it looks darker than usual.   I was too busy eating to get a better picture.  22D1208C-32C7-42A3-B237-BFB48AADA7B5.jpeg

Stuffed Roast Pork

We were out Saturday night for dinner with some friends.  We ended up going out to a German restaurant on Long Island and I ended up eating pork loin, which happened to be on the menu for Sunday dinner this week.  I prepared the loin to cook this morning, but decided to wrap and hold it in the refrigerator for Monday instead.  This meal is one generally reserved for holidays, but my husband has been asking me to make it since I didn’t make it on our last holiday.  He purchased the meat and brought it home, so how could I possibly say no.

My dinner friends have been friends since we were in kindergarten.  These are the best kind of friends to have, as you have so many shared memories.  We went all through schooling together K – 12, so there’s nothing we didn’t experience together growing up.  I’m thankful we have kept in touch through our adult years and truly enjoy the times we spend together.  I wish we lived closer to each other, but we still manage to see each other several times each year.  Each time we meet, there’s tons of laughter and reminiscing of days gone by.  Gail is the memory keeper who inevitably cleans a closet and finds a photograph, or note we wrote each other back in junior high school.  This was the 1970s version of a group text.  It’s so much fun to read something your younger self wrote.  Marianne was always the level headed one in the group, whose current self loves to call to question that label.  Barbara, who couldn’t make it this time, was and continues to be the wild child who keeps us laughing all night.  These ladies have shared much of my life journey and I’m thankful to have them still in my life.

 

Sunday morning we decided to hold off on our roast, but I still needed to prepare it for cooking.  I came across a cooking page – Cooking with the Kingfish – recently that showed an easier way to cut a roast for stuffing.  I decided to try that out with this roast and it worked out well, super easy.  I prepared my sausage stuffing, cut the roast, pounded, stuffed, rolled and tied it for roasting  It was then placed in a roasting pan and wrapped for overnight.  On Monday, my husband will place it in the oven while I am at work for roasting.

Sausage Stuffing 

Ingredients

  • Onion chopped
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • Sausage meat (I used sweet removed from casing)
  • Rye bread (half loaf)
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Chop celery and onions small and saute in tablespoon of unsalted butter until soft (4 minutes)
  2. Add sausage meat and brown
  3. Add chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute201C0C63-77F3-4F6F-9438-08BFD13E7EC2
  4. In separate bowl place cubed bread
  5. Pour sausage and vegetable mixture over bread
  6. Add egg and spices77BE9931-9B1C-43F5-8283-6F5C3492B94C
  7. Add 1/4 cup of chicken stock
  8. Mix with hands until fully blended and set aside.110671EF-D293-4432-9CB2-1796FC68085D

Stuffed Roast Pork Loin

Ingredients:

  • 5 lb boneless pork loin
  • 1 onion chopped large
  • olive oil
  • 4 sweet potatoes chopped into large pieces (1 – 1/2 inches)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Pour cup of coffee because it’s far too early for wine and turn on Alexa for dancing in the kitchen.
  2. Rough chop onion and place in roasting pan
  3. Wash and pat dry roast and place on cutting board
  4. Slice gently with sharp knife the long way, almost in half but do NOT cut all the way through.
  5. Unfold the roast.
  6. Starting at center and moving toward outer edge slice in half without cutting all the way through and unfold
  7. Repeat this step on other half
  8. Place plastic wrap over roast and pound to even out24F53EB9-799A-477D-A46F-12D2FF793BF0
  9. Place stuffing on top of flattened roast and spread evenly07044235-8043-4E38-816D-DF4F3C2AC7F8
  10. Roll roast long way much like you would a jellyroll cake.
  11. Tie roast with roasting twine7D259DF6-07E8-41EC-A1A6-8986D68EACE7
  12. Rub pork with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with paprika.
  13. Stir together the flour, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the seasoned flour mixture evenly over the pork loin. (I didn’t put the flour on yet in the photo below. I’ll do that tomorrow, just prior to roasting.)
  14. Place on top of onion and sweet potato in roasting pan5063D2D3-BC4D-4556-AA74-0CAD47741C70
  15. Add 1 cup of chicken stock to bottom of pan
  16. Roast in oven at 450 degrees F for about 10 minutes.
  17. Reduce oven to 350 degrees F and continue to roast for 60 minutes
  18. Insert meat thermometer into pork – not stuffing – ready when 150 – 155 degrees F
  19. Let pork rest for 10 – 15 minutes.  Temperature should be 160 degrees F
  20. Slice with sharp knife and serve

In the past I just cut the roast almost in half and stuffed.  Rolling it made distribution of stuffing more even and presentation was much nicer. Delicious and enough for my dad and leftovers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not My Mother’s Meatloaf

When I was a little girl nothing disgusted me more than meatloaf.   There was nothing about my mom’s meatloaf that appealed to me.   Seriously, who puts ketchup and raw onion in their ground beef?   I hated onions as a kid and putting ketchup on anything grossed me out – just ask my cousin how her dad tortured me with that one.  As meatloaf was a favorite of my father, it was in mom’s weekly rotation.   Gosh how I remember feigning sickness every time it came around on the menu.

When we were first married, my husband mentioned to me that he liked meatloaf.   I thought I had escaped this meal, but it was rearing it’s ugly head again.  I said I’d look around at some recipes and see what I could find.   I hoped he’d forget all about it, but he brought it up again a few weeks later.   I knew that I loved meatballs, so there had to be a way I could like meatloaf.  I vowed to have an open mind and give this meal another try.

We don’t eat meatloaf often around here, maybe once or twice a year.  After a lot experimenting I found a recipe we both can agree on.  Thankfully, it doesn’t require ketchup or raw onions, though that likely wouldn’t bother me as much anymore.   This recipe is very simple to make and we have had many different variations of it.   Depending on your tastes and side dishes you can change the filling to whatever you’d like.  Be creative and have fun with it.

My version of meatloaf is more or a stuffed meat log.   We’ve used chopped turkey or beef, but both prefer beef.   When we are in the mood for roasted potatoes, I fill the log with feta cheese and spinach.   When, like today we want a little sauce I fill the log with mozzarella cheese and spinach. Either way you make it, there’s likely not going to be much left.

This recipe as written was enough for two, with a care package for my dad.   Even though it’s not my mother’s meatloaf, dad still really enjoys it.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb grass fed ground beef
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup flavored bread crumbs
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 lb mozzarella cheese chopped
  • Fresh organic baby spinach

Directions

  1. Pour a glass of Malbec and turn on Alexa for dancing in the kitchen. 38B1C00C-2345-4189-9151-2AE4F8E082AE
  2. Mix ground beef, egg, Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs and crushed tomatoes in Kitchen Aid mixer with paddle attachment.
  3. Spread mixture onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  B82B5BD3-BF30-4D98-9274-6F4A5490E813
  4. Put layer of chopped mozzarella and baby spinach on top of beef, spreading evenly.  Leave about 1/2 in border clear.  85D6CDAF-953B-4CCF-8664-90E812C620D9
  5. Lifting parchment paper, begin rolling beef into a log. End with seam down.  E4F405A6-549F-4622-BD21-349725389C57
  6. Place on greased, lined baking sheet. Be sure the tray has a lip to prevent grease from dripping in oven.
  7. Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes, or until cooked through.
  8. Serve immediately with or without sauce.082BBFE8-6021-492E-803A-B79ACDF915F4

We ate ours tonight with homemade potato gnocchi and a touch of Sunday sauce. Delicious!

Recipe for homemade gnocchi can be found here – Pete’s Lemon Basil Chicken with Gnocchi

Recipe for Sunday sauce can be found here – Sunday Sauce

Let me know if you try any of these recipes.  If you have a favorite recipe you’d like to share, send me a note below.

 

Compromises

Sunday dinner is taking a different twist today.  We have been eating a lot of comfort meals lately and many have been meat based. Today, we are enjoying one of our favorite meatless Sunday sauce recipes.   My husband brought home a nice large eggplant today with hopes I’d make eggplant parmesan again.  Since we just had that last week, I decided to turn this beautiful eggplant into a meatless meatball for our sauce.  We’ve had this meal before and it is a nice change of pace from the traditional meatball, and surprisingly quite tasty.

My brother and my niece are both vegetarians.  George grew up on the same meals as I did and has commented on my recent blog posts.  I knew he wouldn’t be eating them though and began to wonder how to offer meatless versions of these family traditions.  I will be experimenting with that concept over the coming months and hope my brother will join me.

image
George on left, Michael on right, yours truly in middle.

During the recent snowstorm, I made a Chicken Schnitzel and George commented how the meatless gravy on spaetzle is often not quite as good as the version we grew up on.  We spoke that day about the mushroom gravy that goes on my Schnitzel. This mushroom based gravy is only used to top the chicken.  That recipe just needs one tweak to be meatless – change the chicken broth to vegetable broth in the recipe.   For Sunday sauce it’s easy to whip up marinara, but for us meatballs are a huge part of this favorite meal.  If I decided to never eat a meatball again, I’d surely be looking for ways to replace them in my sauce.  This eggplant “meatball” is one way to start thinking about alternatives to meat in Sunday sauce.  Today’s menu will include – Sunday Sauce with Eggplant Meatballs served over homemade, hand cut pasta.  Both will be accompanied with a nice robust glass of Merlot and football playoff games.

Meatless Meatballs – Eggplant

Ingredients:

  • 1 large Eggplant
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 cup Pecorino Romano Cheese
  • 1 egg
  • Flour
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Pour glass of Merlot and turn on Alexa for dancing in the kitchen.3696CC4B-0446-4256-ABF1-53FED1C597C4
  • Cut eggplants in half lengthwise and trim off ends.  Make a few slits on the cut side and brush with olive oil.   Sprinkle lightly with salt.2881BED9-3233-4F24-BCA7-C8A79D3E2EB1
  • Place the eggplant on a baking sheet, skin side down.
  • Cook at 400 degrees 30 – 40 minutes, depending on size of eggplant.
  • Remove eggplant and allow it to cool before handling.
  • Scoop out the soft insides of the eggplant into your Kitchen Aid mixer with paddle attachment.
  • Add cheese, egg, salt, pepper and breadcrumbs to the bowl and mix on low until combined.  You may need to add more breadcrumbs if mixture is very soft.F3552CCC-0551-41FD-9EC0-06C9DFDC02F9
  • Roll the mixture into balls and dredge in flour. Fry the balls in olive oil until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes.8365AB1D-CD79-4359-8265-EC2436D05429
  • Add to sauce and serve immediately.  There is no reason for these meatballs to cook in the sauce.  They are cooked and ready.  For less saucy eggplant balls, just serve plain with sauce on side.

Last week I shared my sauce recipe, along with the recipe to make easy homemade pasta.  Both recipes can be found by clicking on this link –

Sunday Sauce

Since the eggplant was large, I was also able to make Eggplant Lasagna.   Super easy and great for a gluten free lasagna.  This meal is made and assembled exactly like the traditional version.  The substitution was eggplant for lasagna noodles.    Slice the peeled eggplant lengthwise.   Place on lightly oiled baking sheet.  Roast for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.   Let cool, then assemble as usual.

 

How have you tweaked your meals to include meatless versions?  Please share some of your recipes with me.  I am always looking to try something new.  If you make this recipe, please leave me a note to tell me how it was, including any tweaks you made to improve it.

 

Comfort Food

What do you do when you come home from a visit to the nursing home sad, your house is an empty nest and you’re in need of some comfort?   Of course you start menu planning and cooking.  When I get in these funks, I love to find comfort in food.  I’m not talking chips and cake, though those would be just fine.  I’m talking good, hearty meals that bring back memories of days gone by.  Using what I have in the house, today I decided to make one of my childrens’ favorite meals.  Whenever I had chicken and would ask them what they wanted for dinner, inevitably they’d all say – chicken in broth.7E10B182-A46A-4C4E-ACB6-788142EAEBF6

I have three children, two boys and one girl.  They are off being busy adulting these days, but I can still remember when they were all here.  The madness, the noise, the mess, be careful about wishing them away for you will miss it all someday.  My house is way too quiet for me on these dreary winter days, so today I will conjure up images of the past and eat some beautiful chicken with broth.  Maybe, just maybe, if there’s any left I’ll pack some up for them.

When I was a young working mother of three, I really had little time to prepare any fancy meals.  I looked for easy meals that would be finished in a short amount of time and didn’t require a lot of ingredients or preparation.  My dad always loved chicken pot pies, but who really had the time back then to make pie crusts and fill them.  My kids all preferred the insides of the pie anyway, so I just made up a simple version that did not require baking, or a crust.  I loved the simplicity of the meal, but it packs a good punch of comfort and warmth.  If you decide to try it, please let me know how it worked out for you.  If you tweaked it, I don’t get offended, let me know as well.

Laura’s Chicken in Broth

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb chicken tenders cubed
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 2 cups of chicken broth (If you like it thicker use one cup)
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • 4 carrots chopped
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • flour
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • unsalted butter or olive oil

Directions:

  • Pour a glass of Pinot Grigio and turn on Alexa for dancing in the kitchenF32DA590-EDBB-4799-B8ED-3FFA51E50D20
  • In Dutch oven over medium heat, brown chopped onion, red pepper flakes, celery and carrots in unsalted butter or olive oil. (4 minutes)A1386E2C-A490-4387-82AF-1905CF25D403
  • Add chopped garlic and sautee for an additional minute.
  • Place chicken cubes into a food storage bag with flour. Shake to coat.
  • Move onion mix to outside edges of pot to make room in center for chicken.  Add some oil and place chicken in.
  • Cook to brown, stirring as needed.95B73322-8591-4CD3-850E-B23F3B85D76D
  • Add some broth to deglaze the pot, then add remaining broth.
  • Add spices2DBEC3CB-C3C0-4EDA-A8CE-13BCBC96476B
  • Stir, reduce heat and cover
  • Cook on stovetop, covered, over low heat for 60 minutes.3E8A0B1E-3B93-4F37-AAE8-66FD92E16DE5

We have added pasta, potatoes, rice, spaetzle and many other items to this recipe.  Today, I added small red potatoes.  They were peeled and put in right from the beginning.  If adding pasta, only add it during the last 30 minutes.  Do the same for rice.

Today, since I am seeking comfort in food, but avoiding the Ruffles, I decided to make homemade biscuits.  They are wonderful for soaking up the broth.  These are NOT biscuits that will rise and be buttered   These are biscuits that you put right in the broth in your bowl.  Break them into pieces and put them right in.E31943DA-656F-49C7-BAC6-B04E6B845F7E

Laura’s Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream or half-and-half

Directions:

  • Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in your Kitchen Aid mixer, using paddle attachment.2C92FE4B-6464-406A-9EBC-3EE5A1E6094B
  • Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas.
  • Add the heavy cream and combine on low speed.
  • Place the dough on a well-floured board and, with a rolling pin, roll out to 3/8-inch thick.86CE6039-C556-4394-8B04-129E10AFEC82
  • Cut out six circles with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter. (Makes 12 so I freeze half for another meal)
  • Bake 20 minutes in 375 degree oven.  You can put egg wash on if preferred, we like ours plain.86DDE6E6-AC93-4A0E-9793-3BC6DBA1784B

We are eating in the kitchen tonight so we can watch and listen to the playoff game.  5F2AD953-60AF-4C6B-A0CD-70B8101CFC76

Sunday Sauce

My favorite cookbooks are those that have a memoir weaved throughout.  Food, after all is woven throughout our lives.  Its connection to our memories can’t ever be overlooked.   The mere smell of onions browning brings to mind images of my mother cooking her Sunday roast beef. If I close my eyes I can almost transport myself back to that time.  Sundays around here do not find me cooking roast beef.   After all,  I live on an island known to be full of Italian people and also known for its great Italian food.  What’s a German lady to do when living on such an island?  Learn to cook Italian food without a Nona to teach her!

We’ve been eating Sunday sauce since I’ve been married.   My husband and I both love spaghetti and meatballs so I needed to learn very early in our marriage how to make this traditional Sunday meal.  I grew up in Middle Village, Queens on a block made up of brick row houses.  Each house was exactly the same, yet each was so very different.   0DF6BD35-AF6C-4530-9307-A9D0396CE93AWe were truly lucky to grow up on this block, and lived a very safe and happy childhood.  My attached neighbors to the right were an Italian family, Paul and Rita and their two sons Sal and Johnny.  Both boys were much older than the group I grew up with, but the close proximity of our homes enabled us to know each other well.   Paul was a tailor and Rita a stay at home mom.   Rita was an amazing cook and just the happiest lady.  She was always laughing and always cooking up great food.

As a newly married girl, I knew I needed to learn how to make sauce.   My mom was a great cook, but sauce was just not her thing.  She rarely, if ever, made any sauce that didn’t come from a glass jar labeled Ragu.  So, one day I called Rita on the phone and asked her to teach me how to make homemade sauce.   She shared her recipe with me and I remember being surprised by the short list of ingredients.  I wondered why my mom thought it’d be hard for her to make.  I’ve used this recipe ever since that day, though I’ve taken a few liberties with it as I’ve grown as a cook to personalize it to our tastes.

To go with this sauce, there’s nothing that compares to homemade, fresh pasta.   Dried pasta in a bag just doesn’t work for us.   I’ve been using a Kitchen Aid pasta attachment for years but can’t seem to get the consistency I want.   Sometimes it’s great, others too thick.   Today I decided to go back to hand rolling and cutting to see if that works.

Today, on this very cold Sunday, the smells of sauce permeate my kitchen.   If I close my eyes I can see Rita smiling and hear her joyful laughter.      If I close my eyes I’m sitting on the porch on 72nd Street smelling this food and wishing Rita was cooking for me.   Lucky enough she is.

Here’s Rita’s recipe that I tweaked slightly, along with my pasta recipe.

Sunday Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 2 large cans crushed Tomatoes (Rita used Redpack, I use Tuttorosa)
  • 1 small can tomato paste (I don’t use)
  • pinch sugar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • crushed red pepper

Directions:

  • Pour a glass of Chardonnay and turn on Alexa for dancing in the kitchen
  • Sautee onion and red pepper flakes in olive oil until translucent (4 minutes)70879188-EB6A-4F3D-8365-4FC79FB517FB
  • Add chopped garlic and cook 1 minute longer
  • Add tomatoes and stir
  • Add sugar, salt & pepper
  • Add 1 Bay leaf
  • Refuce heat as low as possible, stir and simmer slowly for at least two hours 984859D5-526A-4957-B6C9-DF6BAEEC94E7
  • Add meatballs during last hour

Pasta Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs

Directions:

  • Mix together in Kitchen Aid with dough hook on low setting until it forms a ball 60FEA507-1BA4-440C-BBC9-982BCCA78C86.jpeg
  • Let dough rest at least 30 minutes
  • Knead dough lightly on well floured board
  • Cut dough into four sections
  • Roll each section as thin as possible.  45B50FCC-9FD5-405B-A289-616EA14D5533.jpeg
  • Hand cut using pizza cutter as thin as possible 

  • Cook in boiling water no more than 2 minutes.

*This recipe is for two people, rule of thumb is 2 eggs for every 1 cup of flour.

I served mine today with meatballs and eggplant parmesan.  It was quite delicious.  I learned from the best!

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If you make this recipe, drop me a note and let me know how you made out.  Enjoy!