Born in "THE" Bronx, raised on Long Island...stints in Rochester, NY; Manhattan, NY; Andover, MA; Montclair & West Windsor, NJ and now Memphis, TN., our cuisine of birth is Italian, but we enjoy cooking Chinese, Mexican, American and hodge-podge.

Our recipes will be as accurate as possible, but you see, I rarely measure things. I prefer to combine based upon taste.

Also, I will use brand names on occasion, but am not sponsored by any company and these mentions do not put cash into my pocket.

Music is my other love & we will share music related to food (in even the smallest sense) with y'all with every new post.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Challenge 1 - Food Blog Challenge - All About Mangia Y'all

Foodbuzz.com is a site for food bloggers. Both average, everyday people and skilled cooks whose lives are spent in the kitchen.  The one common factor is they love to share their passion.

Back in March of 2009, after a conversation with a good friend who had begun a cooking blog, I joined this community.

As I look through so many of the contestants, I know that I have not been as prolific here on my food blog as I have been on my everyday blog and my music blog.

Yes, I also write a music blog and host a show on BlogTalk Radio about independent musicians. Music and food...my passions in life.

They have been since I was a child. I have vivid memories of sitting in the kitchens of both my grandmothers and my mom and watching them as they created wonderful meals.

As I got older, I was there with mom rolling meatballs on a Sunday. Watching as she painstakingly added wonderfully aromatic ingredients to create Sunday gravy or another meal.

What do I share on Mangia Y'all? Well, I have a three part video on making lasagna...friends laughed at it's length and looking back, I could have edited more...but as I am verbose in my writing, I tend to be that way in real life.

I also love to share my weekend cooking sessions where I cook multiple meals and then vacuum seal and store for future use. Other recipes are those that come from my head and even when I find a deliciously wonderful recipe in one of my 60 or so cookbooks, I will share that as well. I even share the tools of the trade I use when in the kitchen, because some people who read are not as acquainted with the proper tools

Walking into my kitchen with nothing planned for dinner and then opening the cupboards and freezer to see what is available and creating a meal from thin air is a challenge I throw at myself from time to time.

I am me...nothing more, nothing less. I am not going to recreate an entire cuisine and change the way the world cooks.

What I will do is show you tricks, explain the differences in taste of various ingredients and give those who read me a new idea to treat your family and friends.

I have been told I am successful in explaining techniques in simple terms for those of my friends who are not kitchen friendly.  This makes me smile.

Cooking meals for friends is always a challenge, and in this case, I add extra challenges to myself. Normally, if you are coming to my home for dinner, you will be served something I have never tried before.

Why? because I find it fun to try new foods with friends...and my friends now know they are guinea pigs when they accept an invite.

When I am cooking I keep my camera close so I can record the steps.

Much luck to all of the contestants in the FoodBuzz Project Food Blog Challenge. Whether I make it one week or 10, I will be following the progress closely...

"Mangiare Bene e Piacere" or "Eat Well With Pleasure"

Monday, July 26, 2010

Seafood Feast On The Grill

I realized that I have not swapped over to the new format for this blog and will have t do so over the next few weeks.

A beautiful Saturday night and a need for some seafood brought us to reach for one of my favorite books for cooking on the grill - Bobby Flay's "Boy Gets Grill". I flipped through looking for something that caught my fancy and three recipes jumped out.

They were "Tomato bread With Prosciutto", Grilled Sea Scallops With Papaya-Tomatillo Salsa" and Grilled Clams In The Shell With Serrano Ham".

Having an International Market within 20 minutes meant I knew I could get the tomatillos, papaya, and the seafood needed for the recipes.

We had an abundance of tomatoes from the garden of Nancy's brother, so the Tomato Bread with Prosciutto was an easy choice.

I did substitute Prosciutto for the Serrano Ham with the clams to keep the flavor consistent across all three dishes.

"Tomato Bread With Prosciutto"

6 very ripe plum tomatoes (or 3 beefsteak tomatoes) - seeded and chopped
4 cloves garlic - finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil (plus extra for bread)
Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper
1 tblspn fresh thyme leaves - finely chopped
8 slices ciabatta or any crusty bread - cut about 1/2" thick
8 slices Prosciutto Ham

Combine tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in food processor or blender.

Puree until smooth - transfer to a bowl and stir in thyme


Let sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes (You can make it a day before and refrigerate. Bring to room temp before serving)

Heat grill to high


Brush the bread with olive oil on both sides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Put on grill about 1 minute per side to char lightly and get those nice grill lines.

Generously brush each slice with the tomato puree on one side, add a slice of the Prosciutto and serve immediately.

I think I would have put more of the puree on next time. there was left over puree which we warmed to room temp and just used as a dip for some more of the left over bread the next day.

"Grilled Sea Scallops with Papaya-Tomatillo Salsa"

2 ripe papayas - peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
6 tomatillos - husked, washed and coarsely chopped
1/2 red onion - finely diced
2 jalapeno chiles - finely diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tblspns canola oil
1 tblspn honey
salt and fresh ground pepper
Combine all ingredients in a serving bowl and season to taste with the salt and pepper,

Let sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. (Can be made a few hours in advance and refrigerated. bring to room temp before using).

20 Sea Scallops
Canola oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper


Heat the grill to high

Brush scallops on both sides with oil ensuring they are completely covered and season with salt and pepper

Grill until crusty brown on both sides and cooked through, 2-3 minutes on each side.

I used a grilling basket for the scallops.

Remove to a serving platter and spoon salsa on top.


"Grilled Clams In The Shell With Prosciutto"

32 Littleneck clams - scrubbed
4 slices prosciutto ham torn into 32 pieces
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Hot Sauce

Heat grill to high

Place clams directly on grate of grill, close cover until clams over (5-7 minutes)

Remove clams to a platter, stuff with a piece of Prosciutto and drizzle olive oil over entire platter.

Add a drop of hot sauce to each before eating (if you like it a tad spicy...I DO!)

Serve immediately.

The corn on the plate was also grilled in the husks (after removing the silk and soaking in water for 20 minutes.

Once cooked, I spread with some garlic butter, squeezed fresh lime juice on top and then sprinkled with crumbled queso fresco

Actually it is all very simple, with just about a half hour or so of prep...and on a nice summer day...the lightness of the seafood, combined with the juiciness of the salsa is a wonderful dinner idea.





"Mangiare Bene e Piacere"


Monday, January 11, 2010

Part 3 - Weekend Cooking

This is the third of the series from a weekend o cooking about a month ago.

In PART 1 we described how it all came about and prepared "Chicken in Sherry Cream Sauce". In PART 2 last week we shared the recipes for "Pork Chops In Mustard Sauce" and "Beef & Spinach Patties" and discussed how we prepped the food for freezing and reheating.

Today, two of my favorites from the weekend:

"GROUND BEEF AND MACARONI MEDLEY"
This will make 4 servings and can be halved or doubled
(when doubling use liquid form 1/1/2 cans of tomatoes)


1 lb. lean ground beef
1 tbsp. butter or margarine
1 small onion - minced
1 can (1 lb 12 oz) tomatoes with liquid
1/2 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
1 pkg (10oz.) frozen mixed vegetables
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. pepper
grated Parmesan cheese


Melt butter in large skillet

Crumble ground beef into skillet

Cook over high until meat is no longer pink

Add onion and turn heat to low

Add tomatoes with liquid

Add macaroni and stir to mix

Heat to simmering

Add mixed vegetables

Cover and cook until vegetables are done and macaroni is tender - about 20 minutes



Sprinkle with salt, oregano, basil and pepper

Serve in bowls with grated Parmesan cheese to spoon over servings.

This is great for a mid-day snack for the kids...for dinner with some nice crusty rolls and a green salad.

Simple and quick...and freezes easily. Frozen in the Food Saver bags, I put this in lightly boiling water for 30 minutes and it was ready to go.




"STUFFED FLANK STEAK"
Makes 4-6 servings

1 Flank Steak about 1 1/2 lbs butterflied

NOTE: You can have the butcher in your local grocery store do this for you

2 tbsp. dijon-style mustard
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup red wine
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 medium onion - minced
1 large garlic clove, minced or pressed
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 cups cornbread stuffing mix
1 egg, beaten
1 pkg (3 oz.) pepperoni
1 can (2 oz.) sliced ripe black olives
1 can (4 oz.) diced green chiles
NOTE:(I used a combo of chiles and jalapenos to kick it up a tad)

You have to plan this one out to allow it to marinate at least 4-hours, but ideally overnight


Rub flank steak with mustard, thyme, salt and pepper on both sides.

Place in a large baking dish and pour in wine and oil.

Cover with cling wrap and let marinate 4-hours or overnight

The next day, saute onion and garlic in butter until soft.

Remove from heat.

Add cornbread stuffing and egg to skillet and stir until mixed thoroughly.

Remove flank steak from baking dish and place on cutting board or counter (spread wax paper on the counter to allow for easy of cleanup).

RESERVE MARINADE!

Open flank steak.

Arrange pepperoni on entire surface of meat.




Spread the stuffing mixture over pepperoni. Sprinkle with olives and chiles.



Starting from the long end, roll up the meat, jelly-roll fashion.

NOTE: some of the stuffing will seep out the ends, no worries about that.

Tie with butcher string in 4 or 5 places.

Return the meat to the baking pan with the marinade and cover with foil.



Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Remove the foil and bake for 30 minutes longer basting with the marinade at least 4 times.

Remove from the oven and recover with pan with foil and let stand 10 minutes.

Slice into 1/2" slices

I served it with some steamed green beans and rice.


Be back next week with the final chapter in this day of cooking!


Monday, January 4, 2010

Part 2 - Weekend Cooking

We spoke last time of preparing a number of meals at one time for freezing and today we continue that story.

To recap, we cut all the vegetables needed for all the meals and prepped all ingredients prior to beginning.

Today we will focus on the next two dishes prepared that day...

"Pork Chops With Mustard Sauce"
This makes 8 large servings or 4 smaller servings,
depending upon your appetite, and can be halved or doubled easily


8 boneless loin pork chops, 3/4 inch thick, all fat trimmed away
(the package I bought had 9 pork chops)
1 tbsp. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp all-spice
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
2 tbsp. minced green onion
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup dry white wine or 6 tbsp. water and 2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup undiluted canned beef broth
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
salt
freshly ground pepper

Mix flour, salt and all-spice

Dust pork chops lightly on both sides with this mixture.


Heat 1 tbsp. of the butter in large skillet

Add pork chops and cook over medium heat for 6 minutes per side or until pinkness is gone when cut in center.

Remove pork chops and keep warm.

Increase heat to high and add remaining butter and the onion

Saute 1 minute while stirring

Stir in the cornstarch.

Slowly add the wine and broth, stirring briskly.

Cook until thickened and smooth.

Stir in the mustard.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour sauce over Pork Chops and serve.

I served them with a nice baked yam and sauteed artichoke hearts...yummo!


When cooking in bulk, you must be able to freeze the meals for future use.

There is no better way to freeze food than with the Food Saver System. I am advocating the use of this tremendous machine without any compensation whatsoever. I have owned one for many years, but for our wedding we received the newest model and the company must be credited with their innovations.

The new machine is vertical, so it takes up very little counter space. It has two different speed settings, so you can now seal softer foods without squishing them. It also has a moisture setting which recognizes the presence of moisture and cuts the vacuum off and seals without sucking the liquid into the machinery.

I have found putting the sauces into the small snack size zip-lock bags works wonderfully. If you just put the sauce into the same bag as the meat, the sauce gets absorbed into the meats and you do not have enough when serving the meal.

In this case, I made of 3 packages containing 2 Pork Chops each with a zip-lock of sauce and then 3 packages with one Pork Chop and sauce.



When you are ready to eat, you can remove the bag from the freezer and work one of two methods...

The first is to let the meal defrost and then you can either put the meat into a casserole and put it into the oven at about 300 degrees to warm or you can put the pouch into a pot of water that is simmering on the stove and let it heat for about 15 minutes.

When you are ready to serve, take the gravy out of the small zip-lock and put it into a small bowl, stir and microwave for 60 seconds.

The second method, for when you do not have time to defrost is to put the whole pouch into a pot of lightly boiling water on the stove for about 30 minutes. The meal should be defrosted and warmed. Once again, take the sauce and put into a bowl, stir and microwave before pouring over the meat.

Another meal made that day was:

"Beef & Spinach Patties"
This recipe makes 4 servings and can be halved or doubled.
When doubling, only use 3/4 cup of red wine.


1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 lb. finely chopped mushrooms
3 tbsp. butter or margarine
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 egg
1/2 cup soft french bread crumbs
1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 cup well drained, thawed frozen chopped spinach
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
chopped parsley for garnish

Saute the onion and mushrooms in 2 tbsp. of the butter in a large frying pan until soft and lightly browned.


Remove from heat and mix in the garlic

Beat the egg and then blend in the bread crumbs, onion mixture, ground beef, spinach, 2 tbsp. of the red wine, the salt and pepper.

Shape into 4 oval patties, each about 1-inch thick.


Using the same frying pan add the remaining 1 tbsp. butter and brown the patties about 4 minutes per side until well browned, turning only once.


Remove the patties to a platter and keep warm.

Add the remaining 6 tbsp. red wine.

Cook stirring to mix in all those most excellent drippings left in the pan.

Boil about 30-seconds and pour over the patties and serve.

This goes great with roasted potato wedges and sweet corn sauteed with bacon...


As we did above with the Pork Chops, We put two patties into each Food Saver Bag and half the red wine sauce into a small snack size zip-lock bag and then sealed them for freezing.

Next week, I will share two more of the recipes from that Saturday of cooking...

Like what you see here? Let your friends know and share the love and share the link!

"Mangiare Bene e Piacere"

Monday, December 14, 2009

Part 1 - Weekend Cooking

Taking a whole day and preparing meals for a month's worth of eating is something I have always enjoyed. It has not been possible since I moved South, as I have not had the necessary freezer space for this event to make sense.

Recently, my bride and I had a garage sale after combining our households and after it was over we purchased a 7.2 cubic foot chest freezer.

As a wedding gift, we also received the newest Food Saver which has settings for moist foods and is more automatic than the older models. I love my Food Saver and have had one for many years.

They allow you to freeze food and then, when you are ready, to eat a meal that tastes as fresh as the day it was made.

On this particular weekend, with the assistance of my bride, we were able to prepare the following:

Chicken in Sherry Cream Sauce - (4 portions) - prepared Friday evening
White Bean & Sausage Soup - (5 portions)
Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce - (9 portions)
Spinach Beef Patties - (4 portions)
Stuffed Flank Steak - (6 portions)
Macaroni & Beef Casserole - (6 portions)
Layered Casserole - (6 portions)
Sesame Soy Pot Roast - (6 portions) prepared overnight Saturday

That is 47 individual main courses (and in the case of the two casseroles, a full meal), and the entire food bill was under $80.00 for all of the meats. We did go to Costco for the meats, to take advantage of their discounts on larger portions.

We had much of the vegetables and spices needed to complete all of the meals, so that saved on costs. Additionally, I boned my chicken breasts thus saving the additional costs associated with buying the chicken boneless.

First step in this whole process is to make sure you have at least two cutting boards. One for your meats and one for your vegetables.

Then cut up all the veggies for all the recipes. Every recipe I made called for onions in some form. I had a big bowl and I chopped the onions one at a time and put them in the bowl separated by a piece of wax paper. This way I grabbed one layer for every onion required.

I did the same for the celery, peppers, mushrooms, potatoes and all the other veggies and herbs needed.

Then I began to work with the meats. Having reviewed all of the recipes, I put them in a very loose order for prep based upon cooking methods, times, and temperatures.

The Chicken was prepared Friday evening, so we will address that first and then in our next edition we will deal with half of Saturday. In the final part, we will address the remainder of Saturday and the storage of all the meals.


"Chicken In Sherry Cream Sauce"

2 whole chicken breasts- split, boned & skinned
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/2 lb. fresh white mushrooms - sliced
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup sherry (chicken broth can be substituted)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese




Brown the chicken in butter over medium high heat about 5 minutes
While the chicken cooks, marinate the mushrooms in the lemon juice
Add the sherry to the pan - turn the chicken over and cook another 5 minutes



Do not over cook the breasts - it will ruin this or any other dinner



Remove chicken to a warm platter
Turn heat to high and let liquid mixture reduce down to 1/4 cup
Add the mushrooms and saute until their liquid evaporates
Add the whipping cream and boil over high heat until it reduces
Lower the heat



Return the chicken to the pan and simmer until the chicken is rewarmed completely



You can reduce this time by letting the chicken rest in a
170 degree oven in a cake pan until you need it again

Sprinkle with cheese

We served it this night with rosemary roasted potato wedges, steamed green beans and - OF COURSE! - crusty bread!



"Mangiare Bene e Piacere"


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