New York Penicillin

I’m allergic to the real penicillin, so when I’m sick I like to soothe my cold symptoms with a big ‘ol bowl of chicken soup. I’ve tried multiple recipes over the years, and while the broth base is almost always the same (a chicken covered with water and boiled for 4 hours), the vegetable and herb combinations vary. Truthfully, I can’t say I’m married to any one specific combination – but the New York Penicillin made famous by Marie Stacey in Molly O’Neill’s New York Cookbook has a simple combination of flavors: carrots, celery, onion, parsley, a bay leaf, salt and pepper. I wasn’t really actively looking for a new chicken stock recipe, but Nana says it’s the best!

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I started by chopping my veggies.

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Then in a large stockpot I added my chicken, vegetables, herbs, and seasoning. I turned the heat to high and waited patiently to reach a boil.

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Once the boiling point is reached, the heat is turned to low and we play a 4 hour simmer waiting game (skimming frequently!).

After the 4 hours you have 2 options – strain everything, save the broth, and keep it as a stock. . .OR you can discard everything but the deboned, carrots, and celery and serve it as a chicken soup.  Molly O’Neill states in the original recipe, “The soup’s curative powers are released only when the vegetables are mashed together in the bowl…Use a fork for mashing. Use a big spoon for eating. You’ll feel better soon.”

I’m not under the weather, but sometimes you just need comfort food to lift your spirits.  I mashed the carrots and celery into the broth, found a big spoon, and took a big ‘ol dose of comfort.

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This soup was really wonderful, it truly just “warmed the soul.”  Definitely a keeper – I know that when someone in our household falls ill, I’ll be thankful to have a frozen supply awaiting!

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  • 4 quarts cold water
  • 1 fryer chicken 4-5 pounds quartered
  • 2 chicken feet, or 4 chicken wings or 1 turkey wing (I did not have chicken feet or wings – but I did have some extra drumsticks, so I used this instead)
  • 1 clove of garlic peeled and bruised
  • 1 onion peeled and cut in half
  • 2–3 carrots peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces (about one cup)
  • 2 celery ribs tops and all cut into 1 inch pieces (about one cup)
  • ½ bunch fresh flat leaf parsley tied with a string
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  1. Put all ingredients into a large stock pot, except the noodles, and slowly bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer for four hours, skimming often.
  3. Strain the stock from the solids and discard the onion, parsley, bay leaf and peppercorns but save the chicken, and other vegetables.
  4. Remove skin and debone the chicken. Shred the chicken between your fingers and return the chicken to the pot with the stock.
  5. Return the carrots, celery and garlic to the pot with the stock and bring back to a simmer.
  6. Season finished soup with salt and pepper to taste. Skim off top layer of fat and discard.

Sophie Minkoff’s Spiced Pumpkin Bread

In Florida we don’t have much of a Fall – the leaves don’t change color and the weather is still pretty warm; the only thing that feels different to us Floridians during the Autumn season is the presence of harvest time flavors.  Be it a pumpkin spice latte or a butternut squash soup, these seasonal eats are what make this time of year special.

While thumbing through the pages of the New York Cookbook, I landed on Sophie Minkoff’s Spiced Pumpkin Bread, which Nana wrote to be “Incredible!”

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I gathered all of my ingredients together. . .

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Boiled the raisins.

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Whisked together my wet ingredients.

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Combined my flour, baking soda, and spices.

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Then I mixed the pumpkin mixture into the flour, which created a very thick batter!

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Once the flour and pumpkin mixtures were well incorporated, I stirred in the boiled raisins.

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Warning, this batter smells absolutely delightful!  I could not wait to get this into a loaf pan and baked!

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Friends, if you like pumpkin – this is an absolute winner.  Not only do I agree with Nana’s incredible rating, but I can also understand why the original author of the recipe won first place at the Harvest Fair in NY.  This bread, especially warm out of the oven, is moist, flavorful, and comforting.

Here’s the recipe if you’re looking to recreate this at home:

1 cup raisins

2 large eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cups of sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup coarsely chipped walnuts * (I omitted these as I did not have any on hand)

1.) Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Grease a 9 X 5 X 3 1/2 inch loaf pan

2.) Combine the raisins and 1/3 cup water in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Removed from the heat, and set aside to cool.

3.) Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, and 1/4 cup water.  Add the pumpkin puree and stir to combine.

4.) In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, an salt.  Stir the pumpkin mixture into the dry ingredients.  Stir in the undrained raisins and walnuts.

5.) Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan.  Bake until a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 1 to 1 1/4 hours (mine took about 67 minutes).  Cool on a wire rack.

Did you make this recipe at home?  Tell me how it came out in the comments below!

Tommaso’s Penne With Zucchini

It was tough to choose which cookbook I should start with, but I ended up picking Molly O’Neil’s New York Cookbook. Heavily creased and overflowing with post-it note bookmarks, I had a good vibe about this publication.

I was a little strapped for time today, as I worked till five – and Peter (my husband) had to leave for a rehearsal by 7:30, so I opted for a simple pasta dish.

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According to Nana, this dish was so delicious – so I couldn’t wait to try it! I stopped at the grocery store on my way home from work, and then it was time to get cooking!

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(Sorry about the sticker on the tomato, I don’t know why I didn’t notice it before – but I was a little pressed for time!)

The first thing I did was to peel a clove of garlic, smash it, and then sauté it in some olive oil until golden.

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While the oil was infusing, I started boiling my pasts, minced my onion, julienned the zucchini, chopped the tomatoes, and prepped the prosciutto. Everything was coming along nicely, and the aroma in the kitchen was intoxicating.

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Once the sauce was complete and the pasta was boiled, I tossed them together and topped with cheese.

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All in all, this was a really great dish; delicious, just like Nana said. A flavorful sauce that came together in a matter of minutes using fresh produce, and with a hefty serving of vegetables. The red pepper flakes added a subtle zing and the prosciutto gave it a nice dimension of flavor (though next time I think i will add a bit more than what the recipe called for). The only other addition I would make is adding some minced garlic into the equation (the recipe has you discarding the smashed clove)

Peter gave this recipe a solid B+, and agreed that this can definitely be a repeat item in our household (providing I add more garlic!)

If you’re looking to try this at home, here’s the original recipe as published:

1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/4 cup minced thinly sliced prosciutto
3 zucchini, scrubbed and cut into julienne
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 pound penne
1/4 cup minced fresh Italian (flat-leaf parsley)
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese

1. Warm the garlic in the oil in a nonreactive large sauté pan over medium heat until the garlic is golden, 5 minutes. Remove and discard. Add the onion and pepper flakes and cook until the onion is soft, 7 minutes. Add the prosciutto and zucchini, partly cover the pan, and cook until barely soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cover the pan. Reduce the heat to very low.
2. Boil the penne in plenty of well salted water until tender; drain.
3. Meanwhile, add the butter, parsley, basil, salt, and pepper to the sauce and stir well.
4. Place the sauce in a large pasta bowl. Add the penne and toss. Add the pecorino cheese and additional salt-and-pepper to taste and serve.

Serves 4.

If you made this recipe, leave a comment and tell me what you thought!

Welcome to Mealtime Memories

With so many food blogs available at the click of a mouse, you may be wondering “Why this blog?  What makes this one so special?”  Well, I’ll tell you:

A few short weeks after my wedding, my maternal grandmother (affectionately referred to as Nana) passed away.  One afternoon shortly after, my mom and I had the emotionally difficult task of cleaning out her home.  We packed up boxes of clothing, combed through cabinets of assorted trinkets, and sorted through photographs and home movies. . .the day seemed to be filled with tears, until I stumbled upon her cookbook collection.

Most aging cookbooks have yellowed pages, perhaps a few creased corners serving as a bookmark, or maybe a few handwritten recipe adjustments; but not Nana’s.  No, Nana’s cookbooks were filled with stories – and before long my mom and I were laughing and crying.  You see, my Nana hadn’t cooked or entertained in a number of years – not since my Papa had passed away when I was nine – and each of these notes brought us back to a time when she (and my Papa) were full of life, love, and energy.

The goal of Mealtime Memories is to cook and bake my way through the recipes in my Nana and Papa’s cookbooks – sharing the fun anecdotes along the way.  I am also very fortunate that my paternal grandmother, an amazing chef, is still alive and ‘cooking’ – and I plan on creating some fun tutorials with her along the way!

Thank you for reading, and I can’t wait to have you on my journeys in the kitchen!

-Melissa