Archive for December, 2007

 Tomorrow afternoon, we will pack all of our crap into our tiny Honda civic and make the 8 hour trip up I-95 to Pennsylvania.  There will be much cursing and road-rage during the trip. The cursing will not be from me, but from my beloved husband who insists upon driving the entire way up himself (love you, sweetie).

   Anyway, I am really looking forward to our two week stay up north.  Obviously because of the chance to spend the holidays with family and friends and all of the warm fuzzy stuff.  Aside from that, there are certain culinary traditions that we always honor when we come up for the holidays that I look forward to all year long.

      Christmas Eve Dinner:  Since I got married we spend Christmas Eve with my in-laws; our traditional dinner consists of crab legs, steamed clams, and broiled lobster tail.  Add a couple bottles of wine to that and a traditional shot of “the recipe”, and you have a great family gathering which ends with the exchanging of gifts and watching “A Christmas Story”.  My side of the family celebrates the Italian feast of the seven fishes on Christmas eve.  This consists of my brothers and their families invading my Mom’s kitchen and making several different seafood dishes.  I won’t be there in person, but I am always there in spirit, and I hear all about it the next day at my Mom’s house!

        Wing night:  It isn’t a trip up to Clarks Summit, PA without our pilgrimage to Kelly’s Bar for Buffalo wings.  I am not sure if it is that the wings are really great, or if it is the company.  The wings are always cooked just right, the sauce isn’t too hot, and the blue cheese dressing is homemade. 

         Schiff’s Grocery trip:  In Scranton, PA there is a crazy little store called Schiff’s Cash and Carry.  At Christmas time they have these trailers that they keep outside and sell fresh seafood that they keep on ice. It is so cold up there at Christmas, they probably don’t even need the ice!  Inside,  they have a large butchers area. They sell fresh smoked Polish Kielbasa. It is they best that I have ever tasted. We always take a few rings back with us for the freezer.  There are so many things to look at in that store, I could spend hours in there just browsing!

            Pizza Steaks and Tomato Pie:   Back down in the Philadelphia suburbs, there are two things that I always try to get a taste of while I am there. The first is a pizza steak. I will make my confession right now.. I grew up outside of Philadelphia, and I am not a huge fan of the traditional cheesesteak sandwich.  My favorite is an Italian variation.  A good pizza steak starts with cheese steak filling (no onions or peppers or anything else) inside of an Amoroso roll.  Then add marinara or pizza sauce, mmmm.  Even better cold the next day. 

         The second thing that I don’t always get while I am home, but I think about often is tomato pie.  How to explain this…  It starts off with a thick sicilian-style pizza crust, then is topped with a chunky crushed tomato topping. Instead of mozzarella cheese, it is heavily dusted with grated parmesan and herbs.  You could eat it warm, but it is really good served at room temperature.   Tomato pie is more often found at local bakeries than pizza joints. 

 Well, those are just a few of the things I am looking forward to over the next two weeks.  Maybe I will have some interesting new things to share when we get back.

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!






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Italian Chicken Soup

I know that I can’t complain about the weather here in North Carolina, since it is snowing everywhere else on the East Coast.  For us down here though, yesterday was cold and rainy.  A perfect day to have soup for lunch.  I am sending a mental bowl of this soup to all of you snowed/iced in!

I made this soup a few weeks ago and froze it in several portions. It is good on the day you make it, but even better after the flavors have time to mingle.

Italian Chicken Soup

3 chicken breasts with the bone, about 3 pounds total
2 quarts chicken stock (chicken Bouillon also works)
28 oz canned diced San Marzano Italian tomatoes
1 large onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
3 celery ribs, finely chopped                                                                                                      rind from a wedge of parmesan cheese
8 ounces orzo or other small, shaped pasta
4 cups chopped fresh spinach, escarole or kale
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper

1. Remove and discard the skin from the chicken breasts and place the breasts in a large soup pot. Add the chicken broth, bring it to a boil and reduce the heat so that the broth just simmers. Simmer until the chicken is thoroughly cooked, about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken and transfer to a plate to cool.

2. Skim the fat from the broth and bring it back to a boil. Add the tomatoes, onion, carrots, celery and parmesan rind. Simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the orzo  and cook for 5 to 8 more minutes, until the pasta is al dente.

4. Meanwhile, discard the bones from the chicken and chop the meat into small pieces.

5. Add the chicken and escarole to the soup pot and simmer for another minute or two. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  If needed, add a chicken bouillon cube for extra depth of flavor.  Serve in warm soup bowls with a thick slice of Italian bread.

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I am not dead….

Contrary to what you might think by the long pause in posts on the site, I am not dead or stuck up in a full body cast or anything.

 First we went out of town for the two weekends prior to Thanksgiving,  then the camera had a tragic accident, then Thanksgiving was here (it was lovely),  then….well I don’t know…

Anyway, things have  just sort of gotten away from me here… And now we are going away for a long weekend to Key West.  So, when I get back I plan to have lots of fun things to talk about, like all the good places to eat in Key West. 

Talk to you soon!

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