Cook rice according to package directions. Cool slightly. Stir in the egg yolk, cheese and butter. Cover and refrigerate until cooled. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomato sauce, peas, salt and pepper.
Shape rice mixture into 11 patties. Place one heaping tablespoonful of meat filling in the center of each patty. Shape rice around filling, forming a ball. Place egg whites and bread crumbs in separate shallow bowls. Dip rice balls in egg whites, then roll in bread crumbs. In an electric skillet or deep-fat fryer, heat oil to 375°F. Fry rice balls, a few at a time, for 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
Fried Italian Olives
1 oz Gorgonzola cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup ricotta cheese, at room temperature
1 ½ tsp dried thyme
1 ½ tsp lemon zest
20 pitted green olives, rinsed and dried thoroughly
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup plain bread crumbs
vegetable oil, for frying
In a small bowl, combine the cheeses, thyme and lemon zest. Place the cheese mixture into the pastry bag with a plain tip and 1/4″ opening. Pipe the cheese mixture into each olive.
Place the flour in a small bowl. Pour the beaten egg in another small bowl and the bread crumbs in a third small bowl. Dredge the olives in the flour. Using a slotted spoon, remove the olives and place in the bowl with the beaten egg. Cover the olives with the egg and transfer to the bowl of bread crumbs and coat the olives with the bread crumbs.
In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour in enough oil to fill the pan about 1/3 of the way. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 350°F. Fry the olives, in batches, for 30 to 45 seconds until golden brown. Drain the fried olives on paper towels. Cool for 5 minutes.
Melanzane Fritte al Pomodoro
Fried Eggplant in Tomato Sauce
1 ½ cups olive oil
3 eggplants, trimmed and cut into 1/3” thick slices
For the Tomato Sauce
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
6 large tomatoes, diced
1/4 tsp sugar
sea salt (to taste)
ground black pepper (to taste)
Heat the frying oil in a heavy-bottomed pot and fry the eggplant slices in batches, until golden brown on both sides, turning occasionally. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towels.
For the sauce, heat the extra-virgin olive oil and minced garlic in a saucepan over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the diced fresh tomatoes, sugar, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Cover. Lower the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down and the sauce has thickened. Serve over toasted bread.
Oven Roasted Chestnuts
1 ½ lb chestnuts
Wash the chestnuts in cold water and then soak them in lukewarm water for about 20 minutes to soften the shells. On the flat side of the chestnut, make an X-shaped cut with a knife. Keep the slash shallow so that you do not cut into the chestnut meat. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Spread the chestnuts on a baking sheet and place on the middle rack in the oven. Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning over after 10 minutes. Place the chestnuts in a paper bag for 10 minutes (to steam the chestnuts). Peel the chestnuts when they are still warm.
Sausage, Apple and Herb Stuffing
16 cups bread cubes (1” cubes)
1 stick unsalted butter
2 cups medium-diced yellow onion
1 cup medium-diced celery
2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored and large-diced
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tbsp coarse salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3/4 lb sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Place the bread cubes in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake for 7 minutes. Place in a large bowl. Raise the oven temperature to 350°F.
In a large sauté pan, melt the butter and add the onions, celery, apples, parsley, salt and pepper. Sauté over medium flame for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are softened. Add to the bread cubes.
In the same pan, cook the sausage over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until browned and cooked through, breaking up the sausage with a fork while cooking. Add to the bread cubes and vegetables.
Add the chicken stock and cranberries to the mixture. Mix well and pour into a 9” by 12” baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes until browned on top and hot in the middle. Serve warm.
Roasted Rainbow Carrots
3 bunches baby rainbow carrots
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp coarse salt
Toss the baby rainbow carrots with the olive oil and coarse salt. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast at 450°F, turning once, until tender and slightly browned, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and chopped chives.
Baked Pasta with Sweet Potatoes and Arugula
2 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
1 ½ lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 ½” pieces
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly butter a 9” by 13” baking dish. On a baking sheet, toss the sweet potatoes with 1/4 cup of the olive oil, thyme and 1 teaspoon of salt and season with pepper. Roast potatoes for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Meanwhile, cook the rigatoni in a pot of salted boiling water until almost al dente. Drain, rinse under cold water and return to the pot.
In a small saucepan, bring the 2 ½ cups of cream just to a simmer. In a medium saucepan, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the flour and cook over moderately low flame whisking frequently, until lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the hot cream until incorporated. Cook over moderate heat, whisking often, until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the Fontina, the shredded Asiago, 1/4 cup of the Parmigiano and heat until the cheeses are melted. Stir in the ½ cup of heavy cream and season with salt and pepper. Stir the cheese sauce into the pasta.
Wash the arugula and pat dry. In a medium bowl, toss with the remaining olive oil and ½ teaspoon of salt. Season with pepper and toss. Set aside. Spread half of the pasta in the prepared baking dish. Tuck in half of the sweet potatoes, cubed Asiago and walnuts. Repeat with the remaining pasta, sweet potatoes, Asiago and walnuts. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of Parmigiano on top. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes longer, until the cheese is melted and the pasta is tender. Let stand for 15 minutes and garnish with the arugula salad.
Place napkin ring in center of the napkin. Pull the napkin center through the ring. Tuck four corners of the napkins into the center to form a ‘pumpkin.’ Turn napkin pumpkin over and fluff-up the fabric. Stick a bell pepper stem in the center.