Whataya know about a good madinad’? That’s marinara to those of you who don’t speak Pauly Walnuts’. It’s like Pig Latin, but instead of adding some letters at the end you subtract some, and r’s become d’s like: mozzerella becomes moozadell or sopressata becomes sopasat. Got it?? Good. We here at the Big Flavor’s kitchen are serious about our Italian cuisine. Yes we are from the north-east and I (Mr.) have a strong Italian background to compliment the Irish half. When you put the two together it can be like fire and gasoline, but I won’t get into that…. What I will get into is some serious, but easy ’Talian with you. My love for food and cooking is strongly influenced by the Italian side, no disrespect to the Irish women in my family who are all great cooks in their own right (Nana you are way up there). My Grandpa Freddy was a chef for many years, and a damn good one, but even he would have told you he couldn’t compare to his wife. Grandma Grace, God rest her beautiful magnificent soul, is probably the biggest inspiration and the person I think of most when it comes to great food and fantastic cooks. Who cooks better than Grandma? Nobody. There is wisdom, experience, flavor, but most importantly love in the food she made. All of this was developed and crafted over many years. Years in which only Grandmas possess to perfect their dishes. I’m sure you will agree. Mom has always been right there in legend status and Mrs. Big Flavors is off to a phenomenal start. All of these things = a very lucky me with a very full and happy belly.
Now let’s get cooking, shall we? We will start with some easy yet delicious dishes to get you rolling. One of the first things I can remember about Grandma’s cooking is breading and frying vegetables (gardoons–look it up, eggplant, cauliflower etc.) and cutlets (veal, chicken, beef, pork) oh and calamad. Italians will bread and pan fry pretty much anything. The flavor is in the bread crumb seasoning, the oil in which you fry in, and in the correct preparation of the freshest and best ingredients you can get your hands on. Which is why we are doing the eggplant and cauliflower. We just got some beautiful specimens of said veggies not hours out of the dirt, and the basil comes from the backyard. And who does olive oil, cheese and cured pork better than Italians?? Fahget aboudit!! Remember: when it comes to things like cheese, cured meats, and oils, get the best please…. there is a difference. Don’t cheat yourself, treat yourself!
First we have to get the sauce going. Today, that is madinad. A good sauce is very subjective. To you, this could mean sweet, savory, chunky or smooth. Everyone has their favorite style. It’s like car preferences. If when you were growing up your family always drove GM’s, chances are, you will too. You know what I’m saying? Sauce is a regional, cultural, but mostly a family thing. You can travel to northern Italy and have sauce (or just food for that matter) that is very different from southern Italian cuisine. The key to good Italian food is fresh, quality ingredients. So our ingredients are all set, now here is a quick and easy Madinad to get you started. Tweak to your liking my friend.
What we are gonna do next is fry some moulinyan and then kick it up a notch Big Flavor’s style, by stacking it with some of its favorite friends; roasted red peppers (none of that canned stuff, we will show you how) fresh moozadell, crispy proshoot (prosciutto), and some garden grown sweet basil, with some nice madinad. How’s that sound? Bellissimo! Next, we will put together some simple and delicious fried cauliflower. Boil some rigaton, smother it with some more of that wonderful madinad, then finish it with some grated ricotta salata…oooohhh damn. If you are like us, take a few meatballs out of the freezer from the 50 that you made last time you had sauce(I’m talking about the Sunday meat sauce. Sorry, I don’t give that recipe out, most Italians won’t so don’t ask!), slap a garlic bread stick on the side, and now you have a wonderful family style Italian feast that Grandma would love! Everyone Mangia!