Frank’s Big Night Birthday Meatballs

It’s Frank my husband’s birthday Sunday, and it’s Superbowl, so he is one happy guy. His request for his birthday/Superbowl Sunday supper is this classic. It’s really the perfect cold night supper. Here’s my recipe below, and I hope everyone has a great Super Bowl Sunday!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Makes 12 to 16 servings

You will need:

  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 cups torn day-old Italian bread
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/4 pound)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground veal
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (not lean)
  • 1 cup olive or vegetable oil

For pasta:

  • 2 pounds dried spaghetti

Prep: Make sauce
Drain tomatoes, reserving juice in a large bowl. Crush tomatoes with your hands and add to juice. Cook onions in oil in a pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with their juice, 4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Simmer sauce, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Season with salt.

Make meatballs while the sauce simmers:
Cook onions in extra-virgin olive oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl to cool. Soak bread in milk in another bowl until soft, about 5 minutes. Firmly squeeze bread to remove excess milk, discarding milk. Stir together cooled onion mixture, bread, eggs, Parmesan, parsley, oregano, lemon zest, 51/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoon pepper until combined. Add meats to bread mixture, gently mixing with your hands until just combined (do not over mix). Form meat mixture into about 70 (1 1/2-inch) balls with dampened hands, arranging meatballs on 2 large baking sheets or in shallow baking pans.

In a cup of olive oil in a deep fry pan heat oil and fry the meatballs in shifts be careful not to pack them too closely in the pan to allow them to brown evenly. Remove meatballs and place into the sauce to continue to cook.

Serve with pasta and Parmigiano cheese.


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Annette’s Focaccia Recipe

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend. We had a rare snow day yesterday in Atlanta (trust me, we use the phrase “snow day” very loosely in these parts). I spent the day snuggled in front of the fire, needlepointing, reading, and catching up on television shows.

While it was a lazy day for me, I know many people took to their kitchens to do some baking, and I know bread is always a popular baking choice. The next time you find yourself wanting to bake bread, why not give Annette’s focaccia recipe a try?

You can find the story behind focaccia in Annette’s book, Cocktail Italiano.

Focaccia
Serves 4

You will need:
– 3 cups double zero flour (super fine flour)
– 1 package dry yeast
– 1/3 cup warm water
– 1 cup water
– ½ cup extra virgin olive oil + 1 teaspoon for the cookie sheet + 3 tablespoons for finishing before baking, 1 tablespoon to finish after baking
– 2 tablespoons coarse salt + 1 teaspoon for finishing

To prepare:

Place the yeast in a small bowl with 1/3 cups water and let proof in a large bowl. put flour and oil and salt and water, combine until it forms a sticky dough, it should be very sticky. Flour your surface and turn the dough onto floured surface. knead gently for a minute until dough forms a soft dough.

On an oiled cookie sheet with a lip, spread the dough out to fit the cookie sheet. With your index fingers poke dimples into the top of the dough.

Let rest for 30 minutes, then repeat by poking dimples into the risen dough, and let rest for 30 minutes.

Before placing in the oven, drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon coarse salt.

Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Remove sprinkle with 1 tablespoon olive oil cool and eat warm or at room temperature. The key is to let the oil soak in as the focaccia cools.

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Easy Make Ahead Meal

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend. I don’t know about all of you, but I’m pretty tired of cooking, and I am ready for a bit of a break. I’ve been thinking about what I can make ahead to last me a few days and give me some much-needed downtime, and it dawned on me that there is nothing better than make-ahead lasagna. And lucky for me, I have Annette’s archives right at my fingertips.

She has shared the below recipe for meatless lasagna before. Let us know if you give it a try.

Meatless Lasagna
Serves 12-14

You will need:
– 1 package lasagna noodles (you will need 12 noodles)
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 cloves of garlic finely minced
– 2 cups mushrooms cut into thin slices
– 6 cups Spinach
– 1 16.oz ricotta ( low fat is fine)
– 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese (reserve 1 cup for the topping)
– 1 egg
– 1 teaspoon dried oregano
– 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese (reserve ½ cup for the topping)
– 1 16 oz jar prepared marinara sauce (or your own sauce recipe)

To prepare noodles:

Preheat Oven 400 degrees F

Prepare noodles according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Note: once the noodles are cooked, I like to rinse them in cool water and then leave them in the water until I am ready to layer the pan, this makes them not stick together.

To prepare filling:

Combine the ricotta, 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, and the 1 cup Parmesan cheese, oregano and egg in a bowl and combine until smooth. Set aside.

In a saute pan, add oil, garlic and mushrooms. Saute until browned, then toss in the spinach and saute the spinach and mushrooms until all the moisture in the pan has evaporated. You want the mixture as dry as possible.

To layer:

Separate the noodles in the water some of them may have stuck together, then drain in a colander. I like to line up my fillings and the noodles.

In a lasagna pan (9”x13)” lay in the layer of noodles, 3 to 4 is perfect. Then add the sauce about (1/2 cup), the spinach mushroom filling, and then dollops of the ricotta filling (about 3 tablespoon dollops), finishing off the layer with a sprinkle of shredded Mozzarella ( about 1/2 cup). Repeat this process 3 times, each time starting with the noodle layer. The top layer should be the noodles, sauce and the 1 cup of Mozzarella and ½ cup of Parmesan make sure to cover the entire top layer.

Bake in the oven for 40 minutes at 400 degrees F. Let it set up for 15-20 minutes before serving.

xx Annette

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My Italian Guestbook Pre-order NOW

As I type this, I cannot believe that I am saying it, but the follow-up to my memoir from May 2020 Italy is My Boyfriend is ready for you to pre-order. I am over the moon. I got some amazing reviews from some of my favorite influencers, and I am extremely excited to share My Italian Guestbook with you. I L-O-V-E the cover! Let me know in the comments what you think of the cover art. I hand-picked the illustrator Melinda Beck; I think she’s extraordinary. Please click here to pre-order your copy. It is full of fun and funny stories from my first ever workshop and last year’s retreats. There’s love, laughter, a few lies, and loads of Limoncello…oh and a little sex too.

Here’s what the Editor in Chief of the Florentine, Helen Farrell, had to say about My Italian Guestbook.

+++
My Italian Guestbook
 is an upbeat collection of stories about Annette Joseph’s revival of a twelfth-century fortress in the Lunigiana countryside. From the unexpected challenges of La Fortezza’s first photo-styling workshop to a romantic liaison between a local butcher and an American vegetarian, the colorful characters and entertaining anecdotes in this galloping read are bound to make you crave a Tuscan adventure or three.

Pre-order it here. I hope you love it as much as I do.

xx Annette

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Traditional with a Twist: PANFORTE ICE CREAM AFFOGATO

Today I’m sharing a recipe from the archives: panforte ice cream affogato. Panforte is a traditional Italian dessert that is super popular this time of year. Translated quite literally to mean “strong bread,” panforte is a dense, spicy, flourless fruitcake. While there are loads of varying reports of where this dessert originated historically, it has strong ties to Siena, and specifically, Tuscany.

Loads of stores carry panforte this time of year making this recipe for panforte ice cream affogato a real treat. Give it a try!

Panforte Ice Cream Affogato
serves 8

You will need:
– 1 cup whole milk
– 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
– 1 cup of sugar
– 5 egg yolks
– 2 cups of cream
– 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
– 4 ounces panforte (an Italian sweet dessert “bread” found in specialty stores or online)
– 8 ounces espresso

To prepare:

In a small saucepan, warm the milk, sugar and vanilla bean over medium low heat just until the sugar is dissolved. Remove a ¼ cup of the milk and sugar mixture and add to the egg yolks to temper, so the eggs don’t curdle. Add the egg mixture back to the milk and continue to cook, while stirring, until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. Strain the mixture into the cream, scraping any bits of vanilla bean into the mixture. Add the vanilla extract. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and chill until ready to churn. This recipe can be made a day ahead.

In a food processor, chop 4 ounces of panforte until ground, but not pulverized. (Reserve a Tablespoon for garnish)

Churn the ice cream, adding the chopped panforte and continuing to churn until evenly distributed into the ice cream. Freeze until ready to serve.

To make the affogato, scoop the ice cream into glasses. Pour strong, freshly brewed coffee or espresso over the ice cream. Garnish with a sprinkling of the chopped panforte. Serve with the Italian almond cake topped with a dusting of confectioners sugar.

Recipe: Alisa Barry

Photo Credit: John McDonald

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