Living here in the Chicago area, I feel that the rest of the country is terribly deprived of a delicious thing…
Chicago is known for its excellent pizzas but, I’m telling you there is a sandwich here that beats the pizza! If you haven’t had an Italian beef sandwich, you haven’t truly lived!
Italian Beef is definitely one of my favorite sandwiches and I had never had it, nor even heard of it till moving here from Louisville. It is a unique messy sandwich of thinly sliced, well-seasoned beef, sweet or hot peppers, dripping with spicy au jus, served on a dense long Italian-style crusty roll. Al Ferreri and his family members created it in 1938. Have a look at how it Al did it the Chicago way!
For juiciness, there are varying degrees from dry to soaked:
1. Dry: beef is pulled from the juice with tongs, no juice added.
2. Wet or dipped: the bread is quickly dunked in the juice prior to serving.
3. Juicy: a degree wetter than the first one.
4. Soaked: dripping wet, as sloppy as you can get!
Bill likes the soaked best; dripping wet with plenty of napkins for the juice running down his chin. And when at a restaurant, he likes it topped off with an Italian sausage and then dipped. If you should try it this way, you will probably need a knife and fork as well as extra napkins!
None of that for me: I like my Italian beef dry or wet, not quite as messy and easier to eat; however, I still need a stack of napkins. The outside of the roll will retain its shape for you to hold, while the inside will be soft, absorbing the juice like a sponge.
Italian Beef Sandwiches are great for a crowd. It is definitely one of the tastiest savory sandwiches in America and I hope you try it! It is spicy, it is messy, and it is absolutely the best!
So, now that you’re hungry and wishing for the sandwich, here is the recipe which belonged to Alice, my mother-in-law:
Chicago-Style Italian Beef Sandwich
5-6 pound beef roast; rump, top or bottom round
4-5 green peppers
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoons sage
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
¼ cup Romano cheese, grated
¼ cup olive oil
2 days preparation:
Rub seasonings on roast, one at a time.
Rub on cheese.
Pour oil in roasting pan.
Roast at 450 degrees for ½ hour.
Turn temperature down to 325 degrees and roast 15 minutes per pound.
It must be roasted rare.
Save the drippings.
Cool and refrigerate over-night.
Next day, add 3 cups water to drippings in roaster.
Core and slice peppers in strips, add to drippings.
Simmer for 45 minutes.
Slice beef paper thin. (see note below)
Add sliced beef and heat thoroughly, adding extra water if necessary, by the half cup so as not to dilute the juice.
Do not over-cook beef.
Do not let the mixture boil after the meat is added.
Serve on Italian-style crusty roll.
Makes about 5 sandwiches per pound.
Pam’s note: This beef needs to be sliced paper thin! I take the roasted beef back to the butcher and have him slice it very thin for me. It also freezes well if you wish!
Just be sure to lean the top half of your body over the table when you eat it and have your napkins handy!
DRIP, DRIP, DRIPPINGLY DELICIOUS!
Have you ever eaten a Chicago-style Italian beef sandwich?
We all love mozzarella on pizza but as I have said before fresh mozzarella on vegetables is a wonderful thing. I buy my mozzarella at an Italian market and love it because it is a sweet, delicate cheese with a slight tartness that pairs beautifully with many foods.
It’s a little early for the zucchini explosions from the gardens and farmers markets but it is always easy to find at the grocery store. It’s a great vegetable to serve as fritters, in a salad, with pasta or in a good loaf of bread.
This dish is just zucchini, cheese and a touch of seasonings to flavor it. It’s delicious with meat or fish from the grill and makes a perfect side dish that is a bit different. And now I’m thinking a little crumbled crisp bacon sprinkled on top would be wonderful also!
1 large red onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1½ pounds zucchini, cut into slices
½ pound fresh mozzarella, shredded
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1-2 teaspoons fresh rosemary or thyme, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small sauté pan over medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic until wilted and lightly browned.
Place cut zucchini in a mixing bowl.
Add red pepper flakes and rosemary or thyme.
Stir in the warm onion mixture.
Transfer the vegetable mixture to a greased casserole.
Scatter mozzarella cheese over all.
Cover with foil.
Bake until casserole is browned and bubbly slightly around the edges, 45 to 50 minutes, removing foil the last 5-8 minutes of baking.
Let’s talk cabbage! OK, cooked cabbage doesn’t take a pretty picture and it can surely emit a stinky aroma throughout your house if cooked poorly.
My love affair with cabbage started many years ago, whether it was raw or cooked. It’s cheap, it’s subtly sweet, it’s aromatic, it’s tasty and it’s filling. Unfortunately, it gets a bum rap even though it is filled with vitamins A, C and E, is high in fiber, low calorie and fat free. Maybe it is not only because it isn’t pretty but because some people tend to over-cook it into a mushy grey mess.
For best results, cabbage should be thinly sliced and cooked a short amount of time; thereby, reducing the unpleasant odor. The longer it cooks, the stronger it smells. There is a ton of ways to cook it: in a noodle dish, as a soup, as a salad, sauerkraut, egg rolls, stuff it, but my favorite is just simply cooked, adding a few spices and served. I especially love the caraway seeds with it and the smoked paprika not only gives it great flavor, it adds great coloring also!
Cabbage shines when it is cooked properly or not at all!
Spicy Cooked Cabbage
1 small head cabbage
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
¼-½ teaspoon caraway seeds
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1/8-¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon seasoned pepper
Chop cabbage into approximately 1” pieces.
Place cabbage in large pan, add a small amount of water, bring to a boil.
Do you know why the potato crossed the road? I’ll tell you later!
I love potatoes! Boiled, baked, roasted, fried, and raw also; it doesn’t matter. Recently, I even came across a recipe for potato FUDGE! Now, we all can get even more deliciousness and calories from a potato. I just might have to try that recipe!
Even though I grew up on a farm, I never did dig potatoes that I can remember. That’s not so with Bill when he helped his grandfather with the chore. He says it was hard work as you had to dig them out with a fork, being careful not to pierce the potatoes. Then, it was a case of putting the potatoes in the bushel basket, picking it up and moving it to the next potato plant. And as he worked his way down the row to the end that bushel basket was almost more than a young boy could carry. I think that’s one reason he is so muscular today ~ it’s all that gardening work when he was a lad!
I always thought that potatoes came from the land of Erin, not so! The first potatoes; the “Irish” white, were cultivated in the mountainous regions of Peru. They worshipped potato gods and performed rituals and sacrifices to ensure the success of the crop. Was this was the beginning of the couch potato and Mr. Potato Head?
Cheesy Cottage potatoes are creamy delicious and a perfect side dish for about any meat. And it’s easy too! Here’s the recipe:
Cheesy Cottage Potatoes
5 large potatoes, cooked and sliced thin
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 medium onion, chopped
½ cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1-2/3 cups milk
1/3 cup butter
Mix potatoes, cheese, onion, bread crumbs, onion, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
Pour into greased 2 or 2 ½ quart casserole dish.
In a small saucepan, heat together milk and butter until butter is melted.
Pour over mixture in casserole.
Sprinkle with smoked paprika.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes until bubbly and browned.
By the way, the potato crossed the road because he saw a fork up ahead!
Growing up on the farm in Ohio, blackberries were in abundance during late summertime.
Ripe and unripe blackberries
The area by the creek through the farm was filled with wild blackberry brambles and we spent many hours picking, eating and laughing while getting stabbed with all the thorns.
Then with our stained hands and clothing, we carried the pails back to the house in anticipation of what delicacy Mom would be baking after first eating a bowl of them with just a sprinkling of sugar.
Mom made many blackberry pies, cobbler and plenty of jam. I didn’t realize how lucky I was at the time! Then she froze a plethora of blackberries and we were treated with them all winter long. I really miss that!
Now, it is nearly impossible to find fresh blackberries here and when I do, they are very pricey. So I resort to frozen blackberries and they are wonderful even if they aren’t fresh.
Just the thought of blackberry cobbler starts me drooling. This cobbler is filled with berry juicy flavor and especially delicious with fresh blackberries. All it needs are plump ripe blackberries with a beautiful deep color and there you have a rustic blackberry cobbler dessert ~ the perfect ending to a meal!
6 to 8 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
1½ cups sugar
½ cup flour
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons butter
Biscuit topping (see recipe below)
Vanilla ice cream
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
If using fresh berries: wash, stem and drain
In large bowl, combine sugar, flour, blackberries and lemon juice.
Spread in a 13” x 9” baking dish, dot with butter.
Bake, uncovered, 15 to 20 minutes until hot and bubbly.
When mixture is hot, remove from oven and spoon Biscuit Topping mixture onto the top in approximately 10 to 12 spoonfuls.
Return to oven and bake another 20 minutes until biscuits are golden brown.
Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, chilled, cut into ¼” slices
2/3 cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
In large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
With pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture is size of small peas.
My parents were huge fans of Roquefort dressing so I grew up enjoying it from a very young age and it’s my absolute favorite salad dressing.
Is it Roquefort cheese or blue cheese? It can not be called Roquefort cheese dressing unless Roquefort, France is the provenance of the cheese you use; it is not to be confused with blue cheese.
Roquefort is a blue cheese which is a general term for cheeses which have been inoculated with Penicillum mold cultures, forming dark streaks or veins of blue-green mold. There are many varieties of blue cheese with the famous ones being Roquefort, Gorgonzola and Stilton ~ most of them having a unique pungent aroma and a tangy strong taste.
Roquefort is known as the king of cheeses and is named after the village of Roquefort in Averyon, in the south of France. It has quite a legend with its discovery: A young man was eating his lunch of bread and ewe’s milk when he noticed a beautiful girl in the distance. Leaving his meal in a nearby cave, he ran off to meet her. Upon returning a few months later, mold had changed his plain cheese into the veined cheese.
In bygone days, the cheese was left to develop its flavor in the mold-filled soil in the caves for 6 to 8 weeks until it had absorbed the mold. Nowadays, for greater consistency, the mold is produced in labs. And we owe this fabulous cheese to the boy who was enraptured with the beautiful girl in Averyon!
Now for the tangy sharp dressing:
Iceberg Wedge with Roquefort Dressing
¼ cup lemon juice
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
¾ pound Roquefort cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1-3 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In medium mixing bowl, stir together lemon juice and olive oil.
Use a wooden spoon to mix in the cheese until it is of a lumpy, thick texture.
Blend in buttermilk, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt and pepper quickly so as to leave it lumpy.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve on a wedge of iceberg lettuce.
Top with more freshly ground pepper, if desired; I do!
Fresh corn on the cob from our local farmer’s market is my favorite but, that won’t be available until sometime in June. In the meantime, I bake this great corn casserole now and then to satisfy my craving. And since I love corn bread also, this recipe combines both of those wonderful things in one dish!
This is a savory delicious dish and so very easy to make with the help of Jiffy cornbread mix. It is similar to a custard, dappled with tender corn kernels. I’m sure Southerners would like it with a touch of sugar!
Cheddary Corn Casserole
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can creamed corn
1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
2 eggs, beaten
1 stick butter
1½ cups cheddar cheese, shredded
Melt butter and place in large mixing bowl.
Add corn and Jiffy mix, stir well.
Add beaten eggs to mixture.
Place in medium greased casserole dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes until golden.
Top with cheddar cheese.
Continue baking for 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted.
We just wish Maryland blue crabs were available here but, since they aren’t we settled for these crab cakes for dinner last night.
Obviously fresh crab meat would be the best but, canned crab meat is easy to find here, as I am sure it probably is everywhere and it works fine for these crab cakes.
These crab cakes are made of simple ingredients: onion, garlic, paprika, Dijon mustard and an egg and bread crumbs to hold them together.
Just add enough bread crumbs to bring them together. Shape them into patties very gently, sauté them in a little oil for 5 or 6 minutes on each side until golden and you have a delicious meal ready to eat.
The crab cakes take very little time to mix together, just 30 seconds and use a light hand when bringing it all together! These are great crab cakes with lots of flavor and spice!
2 cups lump crab meat (16 ounce can)
¼ cup Panko or other bread crumbs
¼ cup low-fat mayonnaise
½ small onion, diced
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1-2 teaspoons OldBay seasoning
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
Cayenne pepper, optional
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper, to taste
¼ cup canola oil
Slightly beat egg in a small bowl and stir in mayonnaise.
Add onion, Parmesan cheese, OldBay seasoning, garlic, paprika, cayenne, mustard, salt and pepper, if desired.
Add crab meat and bread crumbs. Mix quickly.
Shape into 5 or 6 crab cakes.
Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
Add crab cakes and cook until golden, 5-6 minutes per side.
Drain on paper towel lined plate.
Serve with tartar sauce.
Pam’s note: I usually place the crab cakes on a plate and set it in the refrigerator for an hour or so before frying. This allows the mixture to bind.
Egg salad is about as common as the bread it is served upon and here's the version Bill and I both like it.
Instead of yellow mustard, I usually add ground mustard instead. The more you add, the more of a bite your egg salad will have. I then include a touch of ground tarragon, smoked paprika and seasoned pepper for plenty of seasoning.
Smoked paprika is a striking deep red. Due to the slow oak smoking, it has an intoxicating smoky aroma. There are different degrees of it from mild to hot and if you haven’t tried it, you are in for a surprise.
Now, for making hard cooked eggs: I use eggs that are at least a week old, seems like they peel easier. Place eggs in a sauce pan with enough cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch; bring the water to a boil. Remove the pan from the burner and cover with a lid. Let it stand for 25 minutes, drain the water off and then fill the pan with cold water and let set for a couple of minutes. Drain and refrigerate. The eggs will have a smooth texture and there will be no green/grey rings around the yolk.
So, get busy and start cooking your hard boiled eggs so they will be cooled by lunch time!
Eggselent Egg Salad Sandwich
6 hard cooked eggs, cooled, peeled and diced
5 large pimento stuffed green olives, chopped
2 tablespoons onions, minced
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1½ tablespoons pickle relish
1 teaspoon ground mustard
¼ teaspoon ground tarragon
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon McCormick’s Seasoned Pepper Blend
Rye or whole-wheat bread, toasted
Place eggs in a mixing bowl.
Add olives and onions.
Add mayonnaise and pickle relish and combine.
Add ground mustard, tarragon, paprika, salt and pepper, blend well.
Spread mixture on your favorite toast and make a sandwich.
Makes 6 sandwiches
Pam’s note: Bill convinced me that sandwiches are always better on toast.
I wonder how it would be with a slice or two of crisp bacon on it...
Yes, I know rhubarb is not a middle of the road food ~
you either love it or not!
I love this pic, the colors!
Rhubarb for sale at a grocery store ~ Wikipedia
It seems like everyone I know has a crop of thriving rhubarb or at least a neighbor or friend who unloads shares their harvest with anyone they can. Therefore; I’m hoping that you are searching for yet another rhubarb recipe to show off your fine baking skills and gardening skills also, if the rhubarb happens to come out of your rhubarb patch. And have I got a cake recipe just for you! I’ve had it for years and have no idea where I got it.
What I like about this cake is the crunchy topping with lots of cinnamon and nuts. Yum! The rest of the cake is pretty delicious also because it is very moist and fruity tasting. The topping surely spruces it up flavorfully with crunch!
By the way, from a botanical point of view, rhubarb is a vegetable. After all, it is leafy green with an edible stalk. The way we enjoy rhubarb now is how its identity was declared back in 1947 when the US Customs Court in Buffalo, New York made things official and declared that rhubarb is indeed a fruit. As far as I’m concerned, I always thought of it as a fruit anyway…..
So, do you have a love or hate relationship with your rhubarb?
Rhubarb Crunch Cake
3 cups rhubarb, cut into ½” pieces
3 ounces strawberry jello
1 cup butter
1¼ cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Filling and topping mixture:
½ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Mix rhubarb with jello. Set aside to absorb coloring.
In medium bowl, prepare cake batter:
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs, mix well.
Stir in sour cream, blending well.
Mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Spread half of this batter into a greased 13” x 9” baking dish.
Spread rhubarb jello mixture lightly over the batter.
Combine brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon and pecans.
Sprinkle half of this over the rhubarb.
Spread remaining batter over all.
Sprinkle with the rest of the nut mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes until top is golden brown.