Cooks’ Exchange: An Italian favorite from the first Cooks’ Exchange in 1993 | Recipes, Food and Cooking Tips

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Braving summer’s recent heat waves found me busy in the kitchen preparing favorite recipes for my husband’s 89th birthday and celebratory memories regarding our 60th wedding anniversary.

With favorite recipes in mind that haven’t been prepared and enjoyed for certain periods of time, I expected to be reminded about medium-rare tenderloin steaks or beans and wieners, but instead reached for one of his favorite Italian recipes that appeared in my first Cooks’ Exchange column back in April 1993.

Clipped from a cookbook featuring favorites from some of America’s best restaurants, spinach ball recipes are usually baked in the oven on a greased cookie sheet. These delectable gems, however, are deep-fried resulting in a golden-brown crusty exterior with a moist center that can be served as is or on a small bed of a thick spaghetti sauce for added flavor.

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Although they can also be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for a few hours, if you do this, bring the mixture to almost room temperature so the center will warm properly during frying. If you don’t have a deep fryer, they can be fried in two inches of oil in a heavy pan.

tura Delizie Romano

2 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach

¾ cup ricotta cheese, drained well, if necessary

½ cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

¹⁄8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

Spaghetti sauce, optional

Cook spinach according to package directions. Drain well in a strainer, pressing out all liquid with back of spoon. Combine spinach, cheeses, crumbs, seasonings and eggs in a medium-sized bowl. Lightly flour hands, shape mixture into 1½ inch balls and roll lightly in flour. Heat oil in deep fryer to 350 F or heat 2 inches of oil in heavy pan. Being careful not to crown, fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels before serving.

Brats in Beer

Clipped from Sandy Kallio’s WSJ What’s Cooking Column in 1984 was a Brat recipe shared by John Bratz, manager of Jacobson Brothers Meat Market on the West Beltline.

12 bratwurst, regular or precooked

Place brats in a pan on the stove; pour enough beer in to cover them. Add quartered onions and butter. Simmer for about 30 minutes or longer if cooking brats for a large group. Meanwhile, light the grill. Remove brats from beer, reserving mixture. Brown brats on the grill. Return brats to beer mixture and keep warm until ready to serve.

Chocolate House Hot Fudge Sauce

Here is the original and treasured hot fudge sauce served many years ago at the Chocolate House, 548 State St.

2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted

1 small can of evaporated milk

Melt chocolate and butter together. Add sugar and stir. Add milk and cook until it bubbles down.

Steve Sasso’s Italian Sloppy Joes

½ cup diced yellow onion

½ cup diced red bell pepper

1 clove of garlic, grated or mined

½ pound mild or hot Italian sausage

15-ounce can tomato sauce

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

6 buns (brushed with olive oil and garlic powder and salt)

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Swirl to coat the bottom and then add onions, red bell peppers and garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add ground meats to vegetables and crumble with a wooden spoon. Add basil, oregano, red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 6-8 minutes or until meat is cooked through.

Pour tomato sauce, water and balsamic vinegar into skillet and stir everything until combined. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat to medium-low and let it simmer and reduce for another 10 minutes while stirring occasionally. While meat mixture is cooking, brush the inside of the buns with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder and salt. Toast or broil until golden brown. When meat sauce has thickened, stir in parsley. Taste for seasoning and serve on toasted buns topped with mozzarella cheese.

Appetizer Meatballs

2 pounds lean ground beef

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese

¼ cup finely chopped onion

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

14-ounce bottle hot or regular ketchup

12 ounce jar currant jelly

In a bowl, combine first 12 ingredient and mix well. Shape into 1-inh balls. Place on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Bake at 350 F for 10-15 minutes. Remove meatballs from rack and drain. Combine ketchup and cornstarch in roasting pan. Stir in jellies and add meatballs. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

Scalloped Potatoes with Ham

6 tablespoons butter, divided

1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

6 cups thinly sliced peeled potatoes

1½ cups chopped fully cooked ham

In a saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Stir in flour, parsley, salt, thyme and pepper until smooth. Gradually add milk; bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Combine potatoes, ham and onion; place half in a greased 2½ quart baking dish. Top with half of the sauce; repeat layers. Cover and bake at 375 F for 65-75 minutes or until potatoes are almost tender. Dot with remaining butter. Bake uncovered 15-20 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender.

Recent request: Boston Cream Pie recipe

Contact the Cooks’ Exchange in care of the Wisconsin State Journal, P.O. Box 8058, Madison, WI 53708 or by email at [email protected].

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