Sunday, December 30, 2012

"Happy New Year" With "Italian Stuffed Artichokes" And "Stuffed Mushrooms"

As the clock strikes twelve midnight, on December 31st, people all over the world will wish each other a “Happy New Year-2013”. New Year’s is thought of as a time for hope, new goals, and new opportunities. We celebrate by going to parties, drinking champagne, eating, dancing, fireworks, and especially by being with our loved ones. Many cultures believe the key to a Happy New Year is beginning with lucky foods for New Year’s Eve and on New Year’s Day. There are many other traditions of the season not only lucky foods to eat, but also the making of New Year’s Resolutions.

“First Foot Day” or “First Footer” marks the beginning of the New Year and is said to bring good luck. It is the first male person who enters your home on New Year’s Day, who brings good fortune for the coming year. The First-Foot usually brings several gifts, including coins, bread, salt, coal, or a drink, usually Whisky. This represents financial prosperity, food, flavor, warmth and good cheer. This tradition started in Scotland and England. So watch who steps into your house first! It is also believed that the more you eat on New Year’s Eve the more money you will have for the year.

The Italian people welcome the New Year by tossing old things out of their windows! This is supposed to make room for the new and lucky items to enter their households and lives in the year to come. Some of the lucky foods that are eaten are round fruits such as oranges and pomegranates which symbolize coins and bring a prosperous New Year. Many people make Struffoli which are round little dough balls held together with honey. These are to symbolize the year coming full circle. Lentils and sausage is also a traditional dish that brings prosperity. (cotechino con lentichhie) Many cultures eat Pork because the fatty meat is symbolic of fattening their wallets. Cooked collard, spinach, cabbage and kale are all to symbolize paper money. Black Eyed Peas and cornbread is a traditional Southern dish in the US.

Did you know that if you eat 12 grapes one at a time as each chime strikes at midnight on the clock, it is supposed to guarantee sweetness and fortune in the coming year? Each grapes follows a month, (first grape is January etc.) so if you happen to get a sour grape along the way, it is said to predict that month will be a challenging one in 2013. Fish is also a lucky food choice since most fish swim forward and the scales are believed to symbolize silver. No lobster or crab as they walk sideways and backwards.

So, as I close this post, I want to wish everyone across the world who reads my blog a very “Happy New Year 2013”. May we all have a year filled with Love, Family, Friends, Happiness, Health, Wealth, and Food. This week I have two recipes to share, “Stuffed Italian Artichokes” and “Italian Stuffed Mushrooms”. I guarantee you will not only enjoy these delicious recipes but you will want to make them for your family throughout the year.

“Stuffed Italian Artichokes"


6 medium artichokes
1 1/4 cups of bread crumbs (plain)
1/2 cup of grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
1/2 cup of fresh chopped parsley
2 teaspoons of minced garlic (fresh or jar)
3/4 tsp of salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup of olive oil or vegetable oil


Cut off stem and 3/4 off the top of artichoke. Then remove some of the outer leaves at the bottom. Use scissors to clip off top of side leaves. (That removes the sticky point on each leaf) Then wash in deep bowl. Fill large pot with water and boil. Place the artichokes in pot carefully and lower heat to medium for about 7 minutes. Fork test bottom of artichoke for tenderness. If fork goes in and out easily, they are done. Next drain and run cold water on artichokes let them sit and cool off. While they are cooling down, mix the bread crumbs, parsley, minced garlic, grated cheese and a sprinkle of salt with pepper. Mix in a little oil with hands. When it feels like a sandy consistency then you are ready to fill. Gently spread the leaves a little apart and sprinkle some of the bread crumb mixture between each of the leaves. Place the stuffed artichokes in a glass Pyrex baking dish. (7x11x1.5) Drizzle a small amount of oil on top of each artichoke. Put a small amount of water in bottom of pan about 1/ 4 inch deep. Bake for about 25-30 minutes at 350° The top should be a little browned and crispy. Serve hot.

“Italian Stuffed Mushrooms”

48 oz large white button mushrooms
2 cups of plain dried bread crumbs
1/3 cup of Pecorino Romano grated cheese
3 teaspoons of minced garlic fresh or jar
2 tablespoons of fresh chopped Italian parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup of olive or vegetable oil


Preheat oven to 350 F. Clean mushrooms and take the stem off. Mix the bread crumbs with the parsley, garlic, Pecorino Romano, salt and peeper in a small bowl. Now add some oil (about 2 tablespoons) and mix with hands. If you need more oil put in small amount each time until you are mixing the right consistency. When it feels like a sandy consistency then you are ready to stuff the mushroom caps and place on a large cookie/pan sheet. Now, drizzle a small amount of the remaining oil over the top of each mushroom. (This is so they do not dry out, but do not soak) Bake until mushrooms are browned and tender about 25-30 minutes.

Till Next Time……….
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