Many of our childhood memories are centered around food, and we’re not talking about all those nights you refused to eat your peas. Whether you grew up enjoying Sunday “gravy” dinner, an Italian tradition, or your mom made the best roast chicken, you can go home by simply flipping through the pages of From My Mother’s Kitchen (Ryland Peters & Small, 2009). This treasure trove of recipes is a melting pot of the best meals dished up by moms around the world. Take this opportunity to add a few new tricks to your own cooking traditions, too. Here are few of our favorites to get you started.
Serves 6 to 8
Nothing says home and comfort like this soup. An added bonus is you can get most of the ingredients fresh from your local farmer’s market.
1-1/4 cups dried cannellini beans
8 ounces pancetta or bacon, cut into cubes or strips
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 large stalks of parsley, lightly crushed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large potatoes, diced and rinsed
3 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced
3 tomatoes, halved, seeded and chopped
2 cups Arborio rice (an Italian risotto rice)
1 small round cabbage, quartered, cored and sliced
2 cups shelled peas, fresh or frozen
3 small zucchini, thickly sliced lengthwise
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Handful of freshly torn basil
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Soak the beans overnight in at least 5 cups cold water to cover. Drain, then put in a saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until almost tender (they will be cooked again, so don’t let them get too soft). Do not add salt during this precooking, or they will toughen. Drain and set aside.
2. Put the pancetta, garlic and parsley in a stockpot, heat gently, and sauté until the fat runs. Add the olive oil, heat briefly, then add the onion and cook gently until softened but not browned.
3. Add the potatoes, carrot, celery, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Add 3 quarts of water and heat until simmering. Cook over low heat for about 20 minutes. Add the rice and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cabbage and reserved beans, bring to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes, then add the peas and zucchini and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender. Remove and discard parsley stalks, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve sprinkled with torn basil, Parmesan cheese and crusty bread.
Recipe by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern, courtesy of From My Mothers Kitchen (Ryland Peters & Small 2009)
Beef Polpetti with Tomato Sauce and Spaghetti
Spaghetti and meatballs are the ultimate example of mom’s magic in the kitchen. Inexpensive, yet deliciously filling, you don’t have to be Italian to appreciate this classic meal.
For tomato sauce:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic peeled and thinly sliced
1 large onion, cut into wedges
2 (14-ounce) cans chopped plum tomatoes
A handful of basil, plus extra for serving
8 ounces ground beef
1 cup fresh white bread crumbs
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
1/4 cup shopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
10 to 12 ounces spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. To make the tomato sauce, put the olive oil, garlic, onion, tomatoes and basil in a saucepan. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook gently for at least 40 minutes.
2. In the meantime, make the meatballs. Put the beef, breadcrumbs, eggs, Parmesan, parsley and olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper and mix until well combined, using your hands or a wooden spoon. Shape the mixture into roughly 20 walnut-size balls and place in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, turn so they brown evenly and bake for an additional 6 to 7 minutes.
3. To serve, top well-drained hot pasta with tomato sauce and meatballs. Sprinkle with fresh torn basil and grated Parmesan cheese.
Recipe by Tonia George, courtesy of From My Mothers Kitchen (Ryland Peters & Small 2009)
Even if mom didn’t make it from scratch, chocolate pudding is a veritable kids’ favorite. This mousse is just an adult way of channeling those yummy memories.
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise with a sharp knife
3 eggs, separated
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons whipped cream, to serve (optional)
1. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt in the microwave on HIGH for 40 seconds, then stir and repeat until almost completely melted. Stir the butter into the melted chocolate. Using the tip of a small knife, scrape the small black seeds from the vanilla bean into the chocolate. Add the egg yolks, stir and set the mixture aside.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs whites and salt until foamy. Continue beating and add the sugar. Beat on high until glossy and firm. Carefully fold the whites into the chocolate with a rubber spatula until no more white specks can be seen.
3. Transfer the mousse to serving bowls and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, but overnight is best. To serve, add a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.
Recipe by Laura Washburn, courtesy of From My Mothers Kitchen (Ryland Peters & Small 2009)