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(FAVE MEMORY) Toasted ravioli was the food of my childhood. A St. Louis tradition, I had no idea it was an unusual food until I traveled outside of Missouri and saw the puzzled look on peoples' faces when I mentioned toasted ravioli. I remember my aunt always serving them for my cousin's birthday parties, cook outs, and other events, and all of my cousins and I gathering around the table to dip them in marinara sauce and greedily eat them. My mother used to heat them in the oven for me when I had a late night and needed a quick dinner, and they would always accompany dinner on homemade pizza night. There are many ways to do toasted ravioli - with beef, cheese, vegetables, or even mushrooms - and they are all special and tasty in their own way. Toasted ravioli will always remind me of my home, St. Louis, and all of its quirky food traditions.
Another childhood favourite. For the longest time this was the only way I would eat fish. Everyone in my family has a can of tuna and some cream stashed away for food emergencies. What I like most is that everyone makes it slightly different. My aunt whisks an egg into the cream. My dad adds parmesan. I like adding red pesto. My mom adds thyme and sage. It always tastes a bit different but it's always good.
Fave Memory : We traveled to Tuscany in the summer of 2013. During our stay at a rural villa, we celebrated my youngest son's first birthday. My oldest son and I took a cooking class with the owner of the villa. Together, we chopped vegetables, browned beef, and simmered a rich Tuscan ragu sauce with red wine. As the flavors of the simmering sauce wafted up from the stove, our host cracked fresh eggs from her own hens to work into piles of super soft 00 flour. The dough stuck to our fingers as we formed nests of fresh tagliatelle noodles and assembled little pillows of spinach ravioli. We ate our family feast al fresco under the warm Italian sunshine, celebrating our youngest, devouring the rich tomato sauce with hints of sweet carrot and savory celery, twirling and slurping tender al dente noodles, and sipping incredible local red wine. As we neared the end of this amazing meal, our host appeared bearing an enormous homemade cheesecake slathered with strawberry jam. She wanted to contribute to our family celebration, so she baked this cheesecake before even meeting us. That day, we not only made our own Tuscan feast, but we also made a friend. Claudia, we will remember you always!
My mum used to make spaghetti with whatever we had in the fridge and they always were delicious. These what-we-will-find-noodles get some fresh herbs from the garden, some good olive oil, roasted nuts and parmesan - and then some olives or capers, fresh tomatoe cubes, panfried courgettes or aubergines in summer and julienned carrots, ovenbaked pumpkin slices or small grilled mushrooms when autum begins. All that tossed together and served as a steaming bowl full of surprises (like my mum is). Comfort food, carbohydrates, love with a side salad.
One of my favorite food memories is the day when my family got together to make bunch of mandu--dumplings!
My mom would prepare enough ingredients to make about one hundred dumplings and it would take us the whole day to make the mandu.
We'd all gather around a table and talk about what happened at school, work--in life.
We still have this tradition to this day and I look forward to visiting my mom to make mandu together with her and the rest of my family :)
Fave Memory - When I was a child and I used to have lunch with my grandparents it was always a joyful day.
Every Sunday the family met all together. Before starting to eat my grandpa used to take a handful of cheese and let it fall on the dish of pasta, saying “it’s snowing!!!” A thin white layer appeared, and it started to melt due to the heat, just like snow. He used to repeat it every time, and every time I was enchanted by those flakes falling down softly.
My dog sits right under my baby boy's high chair and watches for falling food like a hawk. One time she emerged from under the table with mac and cheese noodles stuck all over her head which made my kids die with laughter. It's one of those sweet memories I'll never forget! This recipe is for the busy mom or dad who wants less time spent cooking and a bit more quality time with their kids some evenings. It's a fool proof dinner that your kids are sure to love and you will love the quick prep time!
AGLIO E OLIO and The Feast of Seven Fishes- Fave Memory
Christmas Eve has always been my favorite family holiday. The night was always filled with anticipation for what was yet to come. The holiday was just beginning!!
Christmas Eve is also The Feast of Seven Fishes, my favorite Italian Food tradition.
As relatives argued the true meaning of the seven fishes, a parade of seafood would hit the table. Seven different kinds of fish were required for the event. There was mom’s beloved filet of soul, schmelts (tiny filets of fish lightly floured and sautéed), shrimp scampi and sometimes clams orreganato. We no longer had Nana’s, Baccala or Eel, which had been banished from menu by the late 70s. But, we still had more choices then you could possibly imagine! Preparation started weeks in advance, procuring the finest seafood and freshest produce.
But, by far, my favorite dish was the Pasta. Every Christmas Eve, mom served her bowl of steaming hot spaghetti called Aglio E Olio (the bowl actually said Spaghetti on it) to her eagerly awaiting family. (Eye-ya Oy-ya) as it was pronounced in our best southern Italian dialect, is a savory sauce made with garlic and anchovies and garnished with fresh parsley. Mom coaxed magic out of a few very humble ingredients to create a silky sauce that was comforting with a big bold and nutty flavor. Not for the faint of heart- with all those anchovies-it was the Umami of your dreams!
We always knew that we had to save room for our next six courses!! But, our bellies kept getting fuller as we continued to slurp our way through this year’s batch of Aglio E Olio!
I’m sure the rest of the dinner was just as delicious. But, I guarantee you that as we were clearing the table and setting out cookies for dessert, we were already thinking about next year’s Christmas Eve Aglio E Olio (or at least leftovers, if there were any).
Fave Memory - Macaroni Casserole, the one dinner dish I remember my Dad making growing up. Quick & simple, and of course - cooked in that lovely green and white pyrex dish from the 70's. I decided to lean into the olive color that dominates my memory of this dish. Home decor has come along way since my childhood!
Macaroni and Cheese, for about a hundred people! I am a college student enrolled in a design course that is working with our local free lunch service; They provided recipes for us to illustrate. Every day of the week, the Berkshire Food Project's team of volunteers serves lunch to several dozen community members (at least): Hence the large quantities of ingredients in this Macaroni & Cheese recipe!
I illustrated by hand with pen & ink and watercolor pencils. Thanks for looking!
The first year that I was married, my mother-in-law came for an extended visit over Christmastime. I was so wrapped up in planning the entire visit that I completely forgot to plan a "nice" Christmas meal. When we woke up, she innocently asked me what I had planned. Oops! So we spent the day making peanut butter balls, and for dinner, we had my old stand-by, spaghetti and meatballs. She was a great sport! Spaghetti and meatballs remains one of her favorite meals (whew!). Love you, Nancy!