*Disclaimer: Nonna Never measured ANYTHING lol so these are guesstimates and not precise. The best way to be exact is to be in the room watching. Coin and palm size and “twirls” of Olive Oil, are often terms I use when explaining measurements*

Nonna’s Ragu

Nonna’s Ragu
Ingredients for the sauce:
2 lbs boneless shoulder pork ribs – diced to bite size and seasoned with lots of salt and pepper
one large white onion, chopped fine
4-5 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 large box of puree tomatoes (or two cans)
1 small can of tomato paste
Fresh or freeze dried basil
salt, pepper, olive oil
Box of Penne (NOT Barilla they are homophobic owned)
small container of part skim Ricotta

This recipe serves 5-7 people and takes about 4 hours start to finish but if you want it to taste really good, start it in the morning and let it simmer part of the day.

In a pasta pot, heat olive oil and saute the garlic till aromatic and barely browned. Add onion and cook for just one minute, then add diced pork. Stir off and on until pork looses pink.
Add tomato puree, paste and a half a cup of water. Then add your seasonings with your palm – at least a silver dollar amount of salt (this is to taste as some like things more bland which is insane to me), a quarter size of pepper, and a half-dollar size mound of the basil. Turn the sauce down to medium low and let it simmer for at least 2 hours, stirring every once in a while. After 2 hours, use a slotted spoon and take out the pork pieces and put them in the refrigerator to reheat and serve with dinner. Leave the sauce on low or off until time to eat.

Cook your penne to al dente – test with your teeth ( NOT THE WALL) – when it has a small bite to it, its ready. When draining the pasta, add a heaping serving spoon size mound of ricotta to the bottom of the pot, then add hot pasta on top. Add 2 ladles of the ragu sauce and mix well. Serve with sauce and warmed pork, freshly grated parmesan and warm crusty bread.


San Francisco Ballet Summer Intensive Students at J-House – Family dinner night including Caprese Panzanella

Caprese Panzanella (Bread salad)

Ingredients: –
2 packages of the grape or mini roma tomatoes
2 packages of the small cocktail bocconcini (mozzarella balls)
1 package of fresh basil leaves
1 puglese or como loaf (fresh)
Olive Oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt & Pepper

Heat oven to broil. Cut the bread lengthwise like you are making garlic bread. Do not separate. Now cut into strips lengthwise. You will have long thin slices of bread. Now cut them into large but bitesize cubes. Place in a large mixing bowl and toss with enough olive oil to season and touch each piece at least a bit. I usually do to heavy “Twirls” of oil, meaning two times around the clock. Then season with salt and pepper and place on a cookie sheet. Toast under the broiler just until tips are brown and they are partially toasted but still soft in some places. Keep an eye they can burn fast.

Let them cool briefly. Meanwhile add drained mozz balls, tomatoes and basil leaves into large salad bowl. Use a serrated steak knife and carefully cut each tomato in your hand in half lengthwise. Break the basil leaves into bite size pieces as well. Finally add the bread bits and toss with more olive oil, salt, pepper and balsamic to taste.

Pizzelle Cookies

Pizzelle Cookies

*Pizzelle irons can be ordered online or at most kitchen stores. I like the Prego Villaware brand.*

Ingredients –
2 cups flour
3 eggs (Not cold, room temp)
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 (1/2 cup or less) of Vegetable Oil* (see below for more)
1 tsp Vanilla
Preheat your iron as you mix

Beat eggs and sugar with a mixer until bubbly/frothy. Add vanilla and flour. Fill measuring cup with oil, and if you can fill it to the space between 1/2 a cup and a 1/3 of a cup. With the mixer on – very slowly add the oil to the mix, letting it become fully mixed and smooth after each addition.

Use non stick spray each time on the iron. Spray both top and bottom and add heaping teaspoons of batter to the hot iron and close quickly with latch. Count 20 Mississippi seconds. You know, One Mississippi, two Mississippi, etc. At 20 open the iron and gently use a butter knife to remove cookie. Place on cooling rack or wax paper. As they cool, transfer to a plate. Don’t forget to spray the iron each time!


M’s Balls of Meat

M’s Balls of Meat (Pasta and Meatballs)

*The one rule with this recipe is, when the meatballs are done baking, you put 2 in a bowl, with a small spoonful of the simmering sauce, and let everyone in your house take a bite. It is good juju 😉 *

Ingredients –
1.5-2 lbs of ground beef (80/20 fat blend)
one large white onion, finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 box tomato puree or 2 cans
small can tomato paste
2 heaping tblsp fresh or freeze dried basil
Egg (beaten)
1/4 cup milk
1-2 slices of old bread (on the dry side)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

For Meatballs:
Line a large cookie sheet with foil and preheat the oven to 375.
In a small bowl crumble the old bread and add the milk and let soak. In a large mixing bowl place beef, HALF of the chopped onion and garlic, the egg, parmesan, 1 tblsp of basil, quarter size in your palm of salt and nickel size of pepper. Add the bread and milk mixture. Use your clean washed hands to mix it all together thoroughly. Shape into balls aprox 2 inches wide. Bake for aprox 20 minutes or until browned and no longer pink in the middle.

For Sauce:
In sauce pot heat two twirls of olive oil, and the remainder of the garlic. When garlic is aromatic and slightly browned, add the remainder of the onions and saute for about 3 minutes. Add tomato puree, paste, salt, pepper and basil, and mix well. Simmer on medium low. When the meatballs are done, remove each from the foil (leaving the rendered fat on the foil) and add to the sauce. Continue to simmer on medium low for an hour at least. Cook the pasta of your choice to al dente and serve with sauce and meatballs as well as bread on the side.



Milla’s Pasta with Clams 

Zia Milla’s – Pasta with Clams:

1-2 lbs of clams in the shell – raw
1 large can of peeled tomatoes (Cento – San Marzano brand is good and can be found at regular grocery stores)
2-4 cloves garlic

Important: Do not mince the garlic.

In large sauce pan, put small amount of water (1/4 cup or less) add clams and cover. Heat on high flame and let them steam for no longer than 5-6 minutes. Remove clams and place in bowl, and drain clam juice into measuring cup.

Take garlic cloves and cut into thirds and fourths and put in pan with heated olive oil. Don’t let them brown just become fragrant. Open tomatoes and use your hands to crush them into the simmering garlic. Add salt, pepper and basil. Add clams and clam juice and let simmer covered on med low for 10-15 minutes or until clams open fully.

Boil pasta (preferably long pasta) about a minute less than the box says, and toss into the finished sauce, letting it coat the pasta before serving. Serve immediately with fresh bread.