I accredit my success of cooking throughout my life to my two aunts Rose and Antoinette. My mother's parents were born in Italy and sailed on that oh so common boat ride to the infamous Ellis Island; a place of relief, freedom and new beginnings.
They set their roots in Astoria, Queens and bought their first American home. My grandfather was a shoe maker and had his business on the first floor, and on the second floor there were two bedrooms where my grandparents and their eight children lived. Imagine that!
Skip to the day my mother had her own children, approximately 60 years later. Every Sunday when I was a child we would have family dinner with my two mother's sisters and grandmother in Astoria. Even though nowadays people fear the beginning of a new week, I was always excited and looked forward to be around family. Each time I walked in the door I always noticed how lovely the table was prepared, garnished with a fancy tablecloth, crystal glasses and flowers. We had a traditional four course Italian dinner, which consisted of a fruit cup, a roast, vegetables and of course pasta! We never left with our bellies grumbling and we shared many memories around the kitchen room table.
As for the various holidays during the year, my aunt's had their own traditions. A couple of days before Easter they would gather in the kitchen and would make their own baskets with handles made out of Italian cookie dough. In each basket they would put jelly beans, chocolate eggs and a chocolate bunny for us when we arrived on Easter. For Easter dinner we would have manicotti, leg of lamb, breaded, fried zucchini and artichokes, and pepperoni pie and Italian cheesecake for dessert. Antoinette would always asked, "Well, how do you like everything?", and before you could answer she would say, "Of course its good, it has the best ingredients!" As we would roll our eyes growing up at the annual comment, I always admired her pride for what she made for all of us. At Christmastime my aunts would start baking cookies on December 1st. They would store them large pickle jars and made 15 varieties to give to each of the families, which looked like works of art as well as being delicious.
In honor of my aunts Rose and Antoinette, even though they might be rolling in their graves, I would like to share with all of you a gluten free twist on their famous Lasagna dish to share with your families.
Amanda's Gluten Free Lasagna
1 big can crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes (San Marzano is a good Italian brand)
1 head garlic minced
2 shallots roughly chopped
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup red wine
1 unpeeled carrot
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons thyme
oregano, no more than one teaspoon
fresh rosemary, no more than one teaspoon
1 cup fresh basil minced
Directions: Heat extra virgin olive oil then put in garlic & shallots until translucent. Add in dried herbs, cook for one minute, then add red wine and cook until almost reduced all the way. Add in tomatoes and 1/2 of tomato can of water, use immersion blender to make smooth. Add in balsamic vinegar and whole carrot. Take out carrot after 5 minutes of simmering. Bring to a boil, then to low simmer covered for 20 to 40 minutes. Turn of heat. Add salt & pepper to taste. Put in fresh herbs after blending.
Sauce (see above instructions)
1 box of Tinkyada brand brown rice
Pasta lasagna noodles
1 container of organic ricotta cheese
1 Mozzarella ball shredded (save a 1/4 of it for topping)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
To put the Lasagna together: use a Pyrex 9" by 11" pan
1. Cover bottom of pan with sauce.
2. Place uncooked noodles on top to cover pan.
3. Spoon sauce over noodles.
4. Mix all cheeses together in small bowl and drop teaspoon dollops on noodles an inch apart.
5. Place noodles on top of cheese and repeat from step one to six.
6. Place 3 layers of noodles and top with sauce and shredded mozzarella.
October is Breast Cancer awareness month. Everyone's lives have been touched in some way by knowing someone that has had Breast Cancer or by hearing on the news about a celebrity going through treatment.
My good friend and neighbor Peggy passed away from Breast Cancer about two weeks ago. She had her first case of Breast Cancer nineteen years ago. Everyone on Dartmouth Street was so upset for her and of course it was so difficult for her family, her husband Frank and her two sons Chris and Mike.
Peggy was a nurse. She would always look after the children's bumps and bruises on the block. Her response was always "You will be fine!". Peggy was very witty and always put a smile on everyone's face. I will miss her very much.
Dartmouth street was a wonderful place for our children to grow up. It was the '80s when children played outside and played pretend school or house. They would also put on mini plays. No play dates- just knocked on each other's doors and would walk in, as if a member of the family.
All the families including Peggy's would interchange houses to make dinner for the neighborhood kids. We had multiple block parties, birthdays, communions and graduation parties all on our block and backyards. We would celebrate every milestone together or just a impromptu barbecue.
All the children on the block are now all grown up and are creating families of their own. We shared many memories and milestones that we can recall to this day. No matter how far away we might be, we will always know Dartmouth Street to be a source of welcoming and home when we return.
As for my late friend and "family member", I would like to contribute some of my profits to Breast Cancer research organizations such as Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which Peggy was a proud supporter of. I will also be creating a new recipe, a gluten free Irish soda bread, in honor of the friendly, witty Irish woman I had the pleasure of knowing.
Irish Soda Bread (Gluten free)
Makes 1 Loaf, 20 mins prep time, 50 mins bake time
3 cups gluten free all purpose flour blend (I use Namaste)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup raisins
2 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup ghee
1 cup almond milk combined with 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
1 egg beaten
Blend flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, honey, coconut oil and ghee with pastry blender unlike it looks like cornmeal. Add raisins and mix. Blend in beaten egg and almond milk mixture just until mixed. Form in a round loaf and place in a 10" round glass pie dish greased with coconut oil or ghee. Brush a little coconut oil or ghee on the top of the loaf. Make an x shaped slit in the uncooked loaf with a knife. Cook at 375 degrees for 50 minutes or until golden brown. Serve and enjoy!
Fall season is here and what does that mean? Congestion, allergies and flu season! If you know you are one of those people who coughs and sneezes, read below to find some simple yet healthy ways to boost your immune system!
Step one: Diet
Step two: Prevention
Step three: Protect your environment (if someone around you is sick)
For info on children go to www.theholisticmama.com
TUSCAN WINE & BEAN!
A taste of Tuscany with Placido Pinot Grigio white wine paired with chickpeas and white beans.
Gluten, dairy, peanut and sugar free. Also vegan!
Additional ingredients are parsnips, tomatoes, carrots, leeks.
White Beans are good for fiber and protein, and leeks are loaded with probiotics!
I will give you $1 off your soup if you are a returning customer and bring back the jar! YAY!
Cooking classes for individuals, small or large groups are available NOW if you call, email or facebook message me!
One on one consultations are available by appointment.