ll Cibo é L'essenza Della Vita....

"The rooms that you use on a daily basis are the rooms people will always want to sit in, because they have soul." --Bunny Williams


"If you want to live forever and ever, drink wine and eat maccheroni." ~~~Sicilian Proverb

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pizzaiola, Arancini, and Citrus Mousse Cake- a "Southern" Foodie Friday!


 We made it!! This has been a rough week for blogging, but we made it. And it’s Foodie Friday- our favorite day of the week when we get to go to Michael’s place at Designs by Gollum and see what all our foodie friends have been up to this week. Be sure to bring a pen and notebook. You’re sure to find a slew of recipes you’ll be dying to try
This week I decided to give you some basic southern Italian recipes that are staples in our home. 
And, as is usual for me lately, I got sidetracked.
I distract rather easily
♪♪two sweethearts... in the summer wind... ♪♪
Oh, sorry- hubby is watching Burn Notice and Frankie is singing, and...

I distract easily
So what we ended up with is an interesting trio of somewhat southern dishes. Steak Pizzaiola is one of those sort of Americanized Italian dishes that many of us grew up on. It’s not stricty traditional, but it’s easy, delicious, and you’ll FEEL Italian

This is the way my hubby likes it-with cheese melted on top...

Mostly when you’re trying to discretely loosen your waistband
Arancini translates to “little oranges”. This is a reference to their appearance after being fried

This is before frying. Can you believe it was cold enough in NC to "refrigerate" them out on the porch?!!

This particular dish is one of those that I’m sort of “known for”. As in friends request it (after informing me that they’ll be here for dinner- I’m Italian- this is expected!). As in Allie tripped over her own feet last night racing into the kitchen when she spied the platter on the island. Then she plopped herself down in front of the WHOLE platter with a napkin, and announced that they were HERS. 
         The mixture as I make them is pretty soft and creamy- a little messy, but that’s okay. You want to bite through the crisp breadcrumb shell and find a very creamy, moist risotto.

Assembly line!


and the prize in the middle...

      Dessert today is also an adaptation of a southern dish- not southern Italy, but southern none the less. 
Citrus Mousse Cake

Southerners do dessert VERY well
I do want to correct a misconception here based on the emails we’ve been getting (which we LOVE, by the way). I don’t ONLY cook Italian and we don’t ONLY eat Italian. It’s just what we choose to blog about most of the time as our family history and heritage is so very important to us.
I make a KILLER shrimp and grits
My chili has won first place in the local firehouse annual contest- twice
And Carolina barbecue is a staple here
My Nonna and Grandma Josie would love it all. Especially the grits. 
Mmmmm....cheese grits....
Sorry. Getting distracted again
        Steak Pizzaiola can be done on the cooktop, but I opt for the oven. This method allows me to throw dinner in and run around playing chauffeur to various and sundry children who need to be picked up from track practice, cheerleading, the skate park, or the neighbor’s house where they consumed 14 ice pops and 3 bags of popcorn so they can come home and announce “I’m not hungry now. can you make me dinner later? Around 8:30?” 
The neighbor Moms and I have now formed a United Front
ALL pantries are off limits without written notarized permission from all parents in the cul de sac
So there
Problem is we’re all big mushes and immediately melt at the sight of those gaunt deprived faces begging us to give them just a crumb
They have us all pegged
Bistecca all Pizzaiola
4 8 ounce steaks (T-bone, london broil sliced 1 inch thick, New York Strip, anything!)
4 Tbs olive oil
2 large onions, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced 
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup white wine
1 tblsp. tomato paste
1 spoonful pesto
2 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 Tbs fresh oregano, crumbled
Kosher salt
Black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 stick butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 2 Tbs of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onions and peppers till softened and starting to brown. 
Remove from heat and add the garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds. Add wine and cook a few minutes till reduced by half. Stir in paste and pesto.
Add the tomatoes, oregano, salt, and pepper. Return to a medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter.
In a large skillet, heat 1 Tsp of olive oil over medium-high heat.
Add one of the steaks and turn the heat to high.
Cook the steak for 1-2 minutes on each side. Alternately, broil steaks on high very close to heat-you want to just sear the meat, not cook it. Transfer steaks to large shallow casserole dish, spoon the tomato sauce over the steak, cover tightly, and roast for 1 1/4 hours or so depending upon your preference.
Remove the steak and set aside. Repeat with the other steaks.
Plate the steaks with a little sauce and serve the remaining sauce on the side.
Note: When cooking the tomatoes you may add other vegetables as well. I love red peppers and mushrooms but a certain picky someone won’t touch them. Some people opt to sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the steaks and broil to melt the cheese. 

Arancini as per Wikipedia: Arancini or arancine are fried (or, less commonly, baked) rice balls coated with breadcrumbs, said to have originated in Sicily in the 10th century. Arancini are usually filled with ragu (meat sauce), tomato sauce,  mozzarella, and/or peas.
The main type of arancino sold in Sicilian cafes are arancini con ragù, which typically consist of meat, peas, rice and mozzarella. Many cafes also offer arancini con burro (arancini with butter), or specialty arancini, such as arancini con funghi (mushrooms) and arancini con melanzane (eggplant).
The name derives from the food's shape and color, which is reminiscent of an orange (the Italian word for orange is arancia, and in Sicilian, arancici means "little oranges").
When I was a child, one of my grandma Josie’s friends, Mrs. Rainone, used to make her rice balls and share with us. Years later when I was married and expecting my third son, our former landlady used to make them for me. She always made them stuffed with a thick sauce with meat or shredded chicken, but my version is filled with mozzarella and Genoa salami.

3 cups leftover cooked risotto con piselli
2 Tbsp minced  chives or basil
2 large egg yolks
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 inch diced or shredded mozzarella or Fontina cheese
1/4 inch diced or minced genoa salami
flour for dredging
2 large egg beaten with a couple of tablespoons of  water
seasoned bread crumbs
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
tomato sauce is optional
In a large bowl, combine the risotto with the Parmesan, cream, herbs, and egg yolk. Season with salt and pepper. I use a medium ice cream scoop here. Scoop up the risotto mixture and pack it around a some cheese and salami to make a ball. Put the flour, egg wash, and bread crumbs in 3 separate bowls. Dredge the croquettes in the flour, dip in the egg wash, and roll in the bread crumbs. Chill thoroughly at least a few hours.
Pour oil into a tall deep fry pan or fryer.  Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it registers 375°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Fry the rice balls in batches, without crowding, until they are evenly browned, 4-5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer to paper towels to drain briefly. Serve in a bowl of tomato sauce
Risotto con Piselli
6 tablespoons butter
1 1’2 large onions, finely diced
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup white wine
10 cups chicken broth heated to a low simmer
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup or so heavy cream
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
Melt butter and saute onions till soft. Add rice and cook 2-3 minutes till translucent. Add wine and simmer till absorbed. Start adding hot broth, one ladle at a time, allowing it to be absorbed before adding the next ladleful. Swirl in butter and then heavy cream. Stir in parmesan cheese and then peas. For arancini, allow to cool and refrigerate till cold.

My Citrus Mousse Cake was born of necessity. We were having unexpected dinner guests and I needed to come up with a dessert. No time for the market. I halved my spongecake recipe and baked it in a pan I’ve had for years that has an indentation in the center

    There was a bit of extra batter which turned into a couple of cupcakes for two hungry boys
     I was going to fill the cake with lemon mousse using a recipe from Ina Garten that I’ve used in a pinch and loved. Problem was I had no lemons. This is my adaptation using Key Lime juice. And berries and lemon just go together...

Spongecake- for this citrus mousse cake, make HALF this recipe
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small saucepan, warm the milk and 2 teaspoons of the butter together over medium-low heat. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whip, beat the eggs and 1 cup of the sugar on medium-high speed in a large mixing bowl until the mixture is pale yellow, thick, and tripled in volume, about 8 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the warm milk mixture. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a small mixing bowl. Add half the flour mixture to the egg mixture and blend thoroughly until smooth. Repeat with the other half. Add the vanilla and mix gently. Grease a 17 by 12-inch baking pan or jelly-roll pan with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Pour the cake batter into the pan, spreading it evenly. Bake until the cake springs back when touched, about 15 minutes. Cool for about 2 minutes, then gently flip it out onto a large sheet of parchment paper. Let cool completely.
** I used the flan pan and halved this recipe
Citrus Mousse
based on a recipe by Ina Garten
3 large whole eggs
3 large eggs, separated 
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons grated orange zest 
1/2 cup key lime juice 
Kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup good bottled lemon curd, at room temperature

In a large heat-proof bowl, whisk together the 3 whole eggs, 3 egg yolks, 1 cup sugar, the zest, key lime juice, and a pinch of salt. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 10 to 12 minutes until the mixture is thick like pudding. (I change to a whisk when the mixture starts to get thick.) Take off the heat and set aside for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, until completely chilled.
Place half the egg whites and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and continue to beat until the whites are stiff and shiny. Carefully fold the beaten whites into the cold lemon mixture with a rubber spatula. Place the cream in the same bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (no need to clean the bowl) and beat on high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the llime mixture. Fold in the lemon curd, and pour into the center of the spongecake. Extra can be put in a decorative bowl.Decorate with jelly glazed blueberries and raspberries. Chill and serve cold.
I suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly-cooked eggs
Due to the slight risk of Salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, I recommend you use only fresh, properly-refrigerated, clean, grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.

As Always,

Buon Alimento, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie


  1. Absolutely fabulous! Everything look so yummy. We're grazing on leftovers.

    As for your yummy arancini, I'd really love the mozzarella and salami filling!


  2. What time did you say Sunday dinner was? These recipes look delicious! We love the pizzaiola with cheese on top! The mousse looks so good and the arancini is a favorite here, too! Love reading your stories and recipes!
    Can't wait for Tony to get home so he can read them! :)

  3. you have such a warm and loving home...your children must be the happiest ones alive!!! it does look a little messy to make but heck so is my cooking. they look so so good! n of course you always have dessert! beautiful ^^

  4. Wow..that is a lot of food. It all looks just delicious. Your dessert is really beautiful..

  5. I am drooling over every single word! Can you come to my house and cook? Everything sounds so wonderful!!!!
    Last week on Foodie Friday I posted a dessert using that exact same flan pan. I filled it raspberry sauce and berries and covered it with whipped cream. I love that pan. I make so many versital desserts in it. Now I have a wonderful new way to use it. Thanks! Say HI to Allie for me!

  6. You know how to live at your house! I sooo wish I lived in your neighborhood! Everything looks fabulous. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

  7. What an amazing selection of recipes you have shared today. My mouth is watering...I'll pop over with Wendy please!

    best wishes,

  8. I would like to try the Arancini, but I have never made it difficult? The Mousse Cake looks heavenly!

  9. I love Italian cooking and you are providing some wonderful, authentic recipes! Beautiful cooking in NC! Sorry about your weather but somehow I can't feel too sorry since I don't see snow on the ground!

  10. Pattie & Allie
    I am filling up my recipe box with your wonderful recipes! I make favorite family versions of Pizzaiola and Arancini, but your Citrus Mousse Cake looks divine, and I have a pan like that which I don't use that often. Thanks again another fabulous post!

  11. Well it all looks good! I had to laugh, I have that pan. It came free with a Duncan Hines Tiara cake mix years ago. I use it a lot in summer..Just a simple white cake filled with fresh fruit..
    You cooked up a storm, lady!

  12. Oh Pattie, that food looks SO delicious. I checked out a couple of Italian cookbooks from the library a few months ago and found Arancini recipes in all of them. They sound just wonderful. I have had them on my list of things to I am going to have to really do it.

  13. Congratulations...this dishes are very good...kiss, Luciana

  14. Pattie and Allie,

    Simply amazing post. I always wonder what to do with leftover risotto.

    I read these posts very early in the morning. I am now totally starved!!! I will be trying this menu.


  15. Amazing your photo's. Everything looks fabulous. I'm going to make your Arancini recipe. Those lil' rie balls are my daughters favourite. Thanks you for sharing.

    Happy Foodie Friday!!!

    Erica :-)

  16. You really put your heart and soul into your posts..I have made're right..messy..but OH so good! Everything looks delish~ Have a great day.

  17. everything looks so yummy! i think i gained a few pounds just reading your blog!


  18. Fabulous post....I love Italian cooking:)

  19. I can't get over the weather in TN and NC! I've used my porch as a cooler a time or two. LOL Your recipes are a gift, and so is your blog--like opening a beautiful cookbook.

  20. We are Italian too, and the first thing my son always asks me when he gets in the car..."What is for dinner?" I post a weekly menu on a board in the pantry.

    We cook mostly Italian dishes, but southern are our thing too, as part of my family is southern. My husbands family are all Italian. He has no more relatives here in the states.

    I have not tried the citrus mousse, so that is going to be on my list of "must try".

    Have a great day! Ciao

  21. Hi, I'm the middle sister from 3 sisters 365, I love your blog. Those recipes look amazing. My husband is the cook in our house and I think he would love the rice balls. It's funny to be in Australia and hear you talk about watching one of my husbands and my favorite shows (burn notice). I like having sisters, but I'll swap one of them (depends which one I'm having a fight with at the time) for being a cheerleader or fit enough to be a personal trainer. I have 2 sons who love to snack before dinner, we have to distract them until dinner time. See Ya Mate!!

  22. Hi!
    The last time I had arancini, I was in Italy... I bought one around 5pm during a stroll with my cousin Grazia. (over 30 years ago!)
    The wonderful aromas coming from your kitchen must be incredible!
    So nice to stop by!

  23. All of these dishes look fabulous...and all are new to me. Thank you. I cannot wait to try all of them.

    Jane (artfully graced)

  24. Hi Girls!

    Thank you for posting the rice ball recipe! I am heading to the grocery store tomorrow for the rice and salami! Got everything else. These just look so addictive! Like I need anymore food addictions!

    I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  25. What a fabulous post and I want it all!

    We're having Shrimp and Grits tonight!

    Your pie sound out of this world wonderful!

    I've been meaning to make Arancini forever!

  26. Awesome! I sure hope you plan to share something from your wonderful posts this week over at the new meme at TMS! We'd love to see you over there. Here's the link if you'd like to play along...

    Have a great weekend! :-)

  27. You put me to shame with all your beautiful creations. I wish I liked cooking, more. :( But when I get in the mood, I know where to come!
    Thanks for your sweet comment. It too, put a smile on my face today. : )
    P.S. Gotta love Frankie!

  28. The last time I had arancini, I was in Italy... I bought one around 5pm during a stroll with my cousin Grazia. (over 30 years ago!)
    The wonderful aromas coming from your kitchen must be incredible!
    So nice to stop by! door matsSeagrove Beach real estate


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