Sunday, October 31, 2010

Nonna as Strawberry Shortcake

Nonna loves to dress-up. There were so many littles at the door this year, it was great fun!

Pizza Friday/Pumpkin Party

Our family gathers together every Friday evening for Pizza Friday. This week, we dressed the grandchildren in pumpkin jammies and hats. It was a riot trying to take a group photo of them. We had to bribe Joseph and Noel with a cookie to get them to even appear on the sofa. Clara's jammies were so big, her daddy tied the bottom in a knot. She is only ten days old in the photo.
Life is grand.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Spaghetti and Pesto Trapanese

I love this recipe from Lidia Bastianich's TV program, Lidia's Italy. It is very similar to a dish my Nonna served when I was growing-up. Now, this Nonna enjoys feeding her family with this delicious, Sicilian dish!


Lidia Bastianich says: "The beauty and delight of this dish is that it is so fresh and clean, and it is a cinch to make. It's important to make the pesto with the best ingredients, then just toss in the hot cooked spaghetti to coat it and enjoy."

3/4 pound (about 2 1/2 cups) cherry tomatoes, very ripe and sweet
12 large fresh basil leaves
1 plump garlic clove, crushed and peeled
1/3 cup whole almonds, lightly toasted
1/4 teaspoon peperoncino flakes, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt, or to taste, plus more for cooking the pasta
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano

Rinse the cherry tomatoes and pat them dry. Rinse the basil leaves and pat dry.

Drop the tomatoes into the blender jar or food-processor bowl, followed by the garlic clove, the almonds, basil leaves, peperoncino and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Blend for a minute or more to a fine puree; scrape down the bowl and blend again if any large bits or pieces have survived.

With the machine still running, pour in the olive oil in a steady stream, emulsifying the puree into a thick pesto. Taste, and adjust seasoning. (If you're going to dress the pasta within a couple of hours, leave the pesto at room temperature. Refrigerate for longer storage, up to 2 days, but let it return to room temperature before cooking the pasta.)

To cook the spaghetti, heat 6 quarts of water with 1 tablespoon salt to the boil in the large pot. Scrape all the pesto into a big warm bowl. Garnish with cheese.
Serves 4 to 6.

This Sicilian version of pesto is much lighter than the traditional basil/pine nut dish. It is quick and easy to make. You don't have to use spaghetti, you can substitute a different pasta. Also, in case you do not have fresh cherry tomatoes, you can try using canned tomatoes....just drain the liquid, but reserve it to add back if needed. I also reserve some of the cooked, pasta water, to add to the sauce, if I think it is not wet enough.
Maniare e gustare.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Nonna Rosa & Clara Rose then Mommy Jess and Clara Rose

Clara Rose

Clara Rose arrived at 1:13 PM on October 19, 2010. Our first granddaughter, after two, wonderful grandsons!

I was blest to witness her birth. My daughter and her husband did an outstanding job of working together to bring Clara into the world.

Thank you, God, for the gift of Clara.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Any day now, I will become a Nonna for the third time. My youngest, Jessica and her husband, Paul, are only hours or days away from the birth of their first child. It is all I can think about.

Jess, being Jess, has had everything ready for weeks. Paul has completed all the work on the baby's room. Now, we just wait.

Dear Baby,
We all are waiting for your arrival. You have been loved and cherished, even before we knew you were growing under your mommy's heart. We all are so anxious to meet you in person.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Vegetarian Italian Wedding Soup

My family loves Italian Wedding Soup, but most versions contain meatballs and meat-based broth. I finally figured how to make this soup taste just as delicious (or more so), by substituting tiny cheese balls for the meatballs and using veggie broth.

We have this soup on all the major holidays, and it can be prepared ahead of time and frozen (except for the final step of adding the cheese balls). Here is Nonna's special recipe.

Vegetarian Style Italian Wedding Soup (serves eight)


Three Tablespoons butter

One small onion, chopped

Two cloves garlic, chopped

One large or two small heads of escarole , washed and chopped

8 Cups of water

2 Vegetable bouillon cubes

1 tsp. dried parsley flakes

1 tsp. dried basil

2 Tablespoons salt

pepper to taste

1/2 cup of arborio rice or small pasta

Melt the butter in a large pot. Add onion and garlic, cooking on low for about five minutes. Then, add the chopped escarole, stirring to coat it with butter. Add the water,bouillon, parsley, basil, salt, pepper and rice. Simmer and cook for about thirty minutes, or until rice is cooked. At this point, you are done until right before serving, when you add the cheese balls to each serving.


1/2 cup grated Romano Cheese

1/2 grated Parmesano Cheese

1 Tsp. dried parsley

1 large egg

water as needed

Mix the cheeses, parsley and eggs by hand in a bowl. You want the mixture moist enough to roll into tiny balls. If it is too dry, add a small amount of water, as needed. Roll the cheese balls in your hand and place on a plate. When you are ready to serve your soup, put about four or five cheese balls into each individual serving bowl.