Rice and Peas or as Italians say, Risi e Bisi

Risi e Bisi makes me think of AC/DC. I think I’ll add Risi/Bisi to my list of band names that will most likely never come into actual fruition. You kind of need musical ability to be in a band after all. I have some. I played the saxophone in school and all, but my guitar skills are abysmal. I could be a lead singer maybe. That might be my ticket to my band name dream into reality.

I’ll keep this band name dream alive and never do anything to actually reach it so my dreams won’t be crushed brutally like Bernie Sanders. This is the world we live in.

One dream you can reach is this dish, which is from Cecilia Antonini and Little Italy Festival Town Cookbook.

Cecilia is another woman from my town that I have no information on sadly. I did find it interesting that she uses leeks for this recipe. I had assumed leeks were a French thing. I ended up talking to my mother about it and she said, “Oh yeah, Italians like leeks too. It just fell to the wayside as a known Italian ingredient in America.”

Then she went on a rant about Trump and basically how he’s going to make things not so great again. My mother’s father was first generation American and that part of the family  went through a lot of discrimination because they were Italian.

When you grow up hearing about discrimination of your family in the past, it tends to make you sensitive to those who face it in the present.

Sadly, a lot of people forget that most immigrants were scrutinized and hated even if they came from Europe and were white.

I don’t want to get into politics, though. It hardly ever leads to a healthy discussion. Everyone wants their side to be right and the other to be dumb and wrong.

I declare peas for peace, starting now.

What you’ll need

  • 1/2 cup of minced leek or onion
  • 1/4 cup of minced parsley
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 1 qt. boiling water
  • 1 qt. buttered peas, cooked and drained
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

The first step is to prepare your qt of boiling water. Next, saute the leeks or onion. I used a leek. Saute them with the parsley until it is golden brown. Add the rice after that and stir until it also browns, evenly. Now you add the boiling water, one cup at a time. Stir this mixture until the water is absorbed and the rice is at an al dente state.

The final steps are to add the buttered peas along with the salt and pepper. Stir this with the rice and serve with grated cheese and melted butter.

This dish was interesting, but I didn’t like it that much. It wasn’t bad, just so-so. From what I remember of eating it, the leeks and peas were the strongest in taste. I didn’t really put butter on it, which I think might have turned this dish from ok to good.

Despite my blasé feelings, I would like to try this again, because I think it would make an excellent side dish for a fish or chicken dish. I could see it being an interesting base for risotto as well.

Till next time I suppose.

 

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Some Church’s Favorite Fruit Punch

…that I spiked later with devil’s juice from Sweden, because I have a drinking problem.

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We will briefly go to serious talk and I’ll denote to my dear readers that this recipe comes from the First Presbyterian Church in what I’m guessing is Bloomington, Indiana since this also comes from Tastes of Monroe County.

I have to admit I was never crazy about fruit punch or lemonade as a kid and whenever there was a fish fry, barbecue, or spaghetti dinner in my town they were always serving punch or lemonade, much to my younger self’s dismay.

I was always like, “What?! No rootbeer? No Sprite? I have to drink water??? Ugh! I guess I’ll have lemonade. I refuse to drink something like water that would nourish and replenish my body!”

As an adult, I get sad if there’s no alcohol, but at least water and I are cool with each other.

Anyway, this punch is actually called Favorite Fruit Punch. I wasn’t being a total sassy pants with the title. That’s what is written on the page folks.

I can’t help but wonder if the good parishioners of First Presbyterian voted on this or if they have some kind of punch committee or if it is one person’s favorite and they were like ok we’ll add that to the community cookbook? I mean how did they come to this conclusion? I truly want to know.

What you’ll need.

  • 1 6oz can frozen lemonade concentrate
  • 1 8oz can crushed pineapple
  • 1 10oz package frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 1 2 liter bottle of ginger ale

The first step is to blend all the fruits together in a blender until it is well blended. Then you are supposed to freeze it into a mold.

I don’t understand why the freezing step is necessary and would love to hear from a punch expert about why. My best guess is so that it remains cold for a long period of time because otherwise I don’t understand the point.

I froze it and once it was frozen I poured ginger ale on top and waited almost an hour for it to thaw out so I could drink it.

It ended up being worth the wait. My favorite taste was the tartness that came from the lemonade concentrate. It paired well with the strawberries and the pineapple helped subdue it so it wasn’t overpowering. I couldn’t detect the ginger ale which surprised me. I’m sure it helped water down the fruit flavors in general so they weren’t overpowering.

As I said earlier, I ended up spiking it with Svedka vodka, but I did try it without as well. Both were tasty, but if you got something you can put alcohol in and it’s after 5 you might as well do so.

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Your friendly neighborhood fruit punch

 

 

 

Balls of a Matriarch

Freud would probably have a lot to say about the fact that I’m writing about another meatball recipe. I wonder what though?

Maybe he would say that I secretly wish I was a dog so I could play fetch? Maybe he’d say I have ball envy? Nah….Freud overthinks things too much.

Making this recipe was a long time coming.

Why, you ask?

Well this particular recipe is from my grandmother! My grandmother was mostly Irish in ethnicity, but an American who grew up in the hills of Tennessee. When she was 18 she met my grandfather who was a first generation Italian-American from the same tiny town as me in Indiana.

When she married my grandfather, my great-grandmother taught her how to make one of her son’s favorite meals. Spaghetti and meatballs. That’s what an Italian mother-in-law did when she liked you. Of course, she didn’t reveal all her secrets. Italian mothers are competitive about their cooking. That’s what I’ve told anyway. You can’t have your son preferring his wife’s cooking over a mamma. That’s a big no-no.

Grandma still cooked a delectable meatball, though, especially for a girl from Tennessee.

The whole family loved her meatballs. I was the youngest of all my cousins and I remember sitting at her long family kitchen table, my head peeping out just above the ledge watching as everyone chowed down the meatballs.

Sadly, I was a notorious picky eater as a child and didn’t like Grandma’s meatballs. I loved her spaghetti and would slurp that up, but I can’t remember if I ever even tried them.

That’s a long way of saying, it was time to make this for myself, even though I’m sure it’s un-edible compared to Grandma’s.

Before I dish out the ingredients, I have to make a disclaimer that my sister wrote this recipe down when she was a kid. So, it’s not very accurate in some spots and I had to make guesses. I’ll have my mother read this and see if she has any insight.

What you’ll need for the meatballs

  • 3/4 beef, 1/4 pork  (I’m assuming the measurement is pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon of Parmesan Cheese
  • Crackers or Bread Crumbs (I eyeballed this, but I bet you could look up another recipe and figure it out)
  • 1 or 2 eggs (It’s all about the consistency folks!)
  • Milk (Again, eyeballed it, you just don’t want the mix to be too wet or dry)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of Parsley
  • Onion, finely chopped
  • Mint

For the sauce

  • Salt pork (No mention of how much, I’d say 1/4 lb)
  • 4 tablespoons of oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • Butter
  • 1/2 – 1 lb of hamburger meat
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 fresh parsley or 2 tablespoons of dry parsley
  • 1 can of whole tomatoes
  • 1 can of Hunt’s Tomato Paste with tomato bits (I think this is actually crushed tomatoes, because I couldn’t find “paste” with bits in it.)
  • 1 can of Contadina Tomato Paste
  • 1-3 tsp. salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon of rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
  • 1 bay leaf

Instructions for the meatballs weren’t included, but it’s not too difficult. You’re just going to add all the meatball ingredients together until they are a middle of the road consistency of wetness. Once you’ve found that, you just form them into balls as big or small as you desire and set aside.

The first advice from my grandma regarding the sauce is to use a stainless steel or aluminum pan with a thick bottom. I have to say that if I had had a pan like that, it would have helped things.

Do your best with the deepest pan you’ve got. That’s what I had to do.

The first step is to place enough oil to cover the bottom of your pan. Add the pork. When the pork is half cooked, add the onion and cook together until both are nearly brown. Then add the hamburger and mash it together with the pork. Cook this until also almost brown.

While this is happening, mince the garlic. Slide the meat to one side of the pan and then add the garlic to vegetarian side of the pan and cook until lightly browned.

Then she suggests to add butter, but only if it’s needed. I’m guessing if needed means if things start to overcook or stick.

Next add the parsley and the whole tomato, but not the juice. You’re going to add the juice later. Chop that up and then add the two pastes. This is when you add the juice! Finally add your seasonings and the balls. Stir and simmer until you’ve reached the level of thickness you prefer.

The process of making this wasn’t too difficult. My only big issue was that I did not have a deep enough pan for all those balls!

Get your mind out of the gutter, readers. I’m talking about pans and food. Sigh.

I had to use two pans to make this, which I wasn’t happy about because I think the whole point of cooking the balls with the sauce is that it affects the taste of the actual sauce.

Despite this conundrum, things turned out well. Grandma and Great-Grandma would have a lot of nagging advice and suggestions I’m sure. More than anything, though, I think they’d be pleased that I’m full-filling the matriarchal balls legacy.

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Meatballs, meat sauce, and pasta. It’s the Roman way.

 

Cheesy Beefees of Potency

Balls. Potency. The symbol of manhood. The patriarch’s second favorite shape, the other one being an eggplant emojii.

Was it a man who first thought to take a chunk of meat and form it into a ball for consumption? Was it a woman? A woman who wanted to show how she could take a man’s power from him. His pride and joy? Maybe it was just a psychopath who wanted to eat balls for real and was suppressing his or her desires by pretending with animal meat.

We will never know who decided to form meat into balls just like we will never know who invented the wheel. Another spherical shape of power.

Hahaha…..Rachel likes balls!!! – My friend’s kid Lana

I’m talking about meatballs Lana! You’re only six! What’s wrong with you?!

Serious talk everyone. This next recipe comes from Portlandia and is meatballs with cheese stuffed inside. Lana really did say that once, while I was at an Italian restaurant with her mom. She overheard me telling her mother about how some “men” I used to work with would tease me whenever I ordered meatballs for my lunch. They would say “Oh you want balls today? Do you like balls Rachel? Would you say that you love them”

It was dumb. Lana thought we were talking about actual meatballs and she was eating meatballs when she said that. It took everything in me to not say, “So do you kid. You got your mouth all up in them right now.”

I don’t remember what I ended up saying. I just remember my friend giving me this wide-eyed surprised look of slight embarrassment and then laughing.

If you love balls, especially meatballs, this is what you’ll need.

  • 2 slices of white bread, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons of half and half or milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 3/4 pound of ground sirloin
  • 3/4 pound of ground chuck
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 ounces of pepper jack cheese, cut into 24 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup pus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

My favorite first step!! Pre-heat the oven!! Pre-heat it to 425 degrees and position rack on the upper shelf!

The next step is to combine the bread, half and half, and egg in a large bowl. Mix this into a paste texture then add the scallions, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, and salt. Stir until well mixed.

Next add the meat and massage with your hands until it has melded with the rest of the ingredients. Once the meat has become one with everything, form that meat into balls. 24 to be exact.

When your balls are ready, prepare them for cooking by coating a pan with vegetable oil. Moisten your hands with a touch of oil and then gently tuck a cube of cheese inside each ball.

Now put your balls into the oven and cook until they are nice and firm. This should take around 12 minutes.

Once the 12 minutes are up, remove the balls from the oven and set the oven to broil.

Get another large bowl out and place a 1/4 of a cup of the grated cheese inside. Then put the balls in there and lightly toss them. Return the balls to the baking sheet, sprinkle the remaining grated cheese and then broil for 2-3 minutes. Be careful though, you don’t want to emasculate them. Balls need gentle handling and cooking.

Once the 2-3 minutes are up, after some cooling they will be ready for consumption.

You can serve them as an appetizer, with toothpicks on their own or dip them in tomato sauce. The best part about these balls is the cheese I have to say. They are your standard balls otherwise, but the cheese puts them ahead.

I can safely say that I do like these balls. I hope you do too. Just don’t tell Lana, she’s kind of a gossip.

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