Wednesday, April 22, 2009

~Grandma's Homemade Manicotti~

Ciao tutti!


In many cultures, food plays a major role in almost every facet. Whether it be a holiday, special occasion, or just an excuse to get together with family & friends, having food & beverage available is paramount to a successful event. With that understood, I think it is automatic in Italian culture & tradition that food takes top billing. Food is the title of your blockbuster movie and you are just an extra. It is like, “Baked Ziti! Starring Mom, Dad, the kids, and their relatives!”
Just think about it. How many times have you gone to a relative’s house or had friends and family over and one of the first inquiries if not the first is, “What are we eating?”, or “What’s being served?”. What is being served will help a potential guest decide whether or not to come or not. It’s like going to a party hosted by George Clooney or some guy down the street who plans on playing music with glasses filled with water. Which one would you choose? And don’t feel sorry about the water glass guy, I made him up.
Food to an occasion is like gas to a car. It just doesn’t get going with out it. Guests appreciate a culinary delight presented with pride over a bag of chips still in the bag dropped on the coffee table. And with the Easter Holiday just passing, I am sure many of you are still savoring the flavors and reminiscing the good time you had with loved ones.
With that, we would like to share a simple dish with you that we can never have enough of. This particular dish in our family that we all look forward to is Grandma’s Homemade Manicotti. Since this dish is only made on certain occasions our family goes crazy over it, and we all want leftovers! Poor Grandma has to make enough for the occasion and then a huge tray for each household. And so, since grandma cannot make her famous melt-in-your-mouth manicotti for everyone, we have decided to share one of our family’s secrets. We feel selfish to keep this amazing and simple recipe to ourselves, so here is Grandma’s Homemade Manicotti recipe:






Making the Shells (crepes):Yields about 40 crepes

Ingredients:
2 cups of flour
2 cups of milk*
4 eggs
Pinch of salt

(*the milk can be substituted with water for a lighter crepe)
- In a bowl mix half of the ingredients (2 eggs, 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of milk, and salt)
- Beat mixture until it is a smooth batter.
- In the same bowl mix the rest of the ingredients (2 eggs, 1 cup of flour, and 1 cup of milk)
- Beat mixture until it is a smooth batter. (If the mixture is too thick add more milk.)

- To make the shell use a crepe maker with dipping pan or a small frying pan. You can purchase a crepe maker at Doris Italian Market.
- Use a stick of butter to lightly grease the crepe maker or small frying pan so the shells will peel off easily.
- Pour some of the batter in the dipping pan and dip crepe maker in batter just enough to coat it with a thin layer of the batter. If using a frying pan drop a ladleful of batter in pan and swish it around.
- Carefully peel off the shell after about 5 seconds or when you see it thicken and edges start to curl.
- Flip over on other side for about 2 seconds and then place the finished crepe on a plate.

- Separate the layers of crepes with paper towels or wax paper so they do not stick together.
- Pour more of the batter in the dipping pan as needed and repeat the process until the batter is finished.
- Shells can be made a day in advance if desired, just keep in refrigerator.

Note: Making the shells takes a little practice. Don’t worry if you throw away more shells than you keep the first time around. The hardest part is peeling off the shells from the crepe maker without them tearing. So just be patient. Practice makes perfect!
You will need tomato sauce when cooking the manicotti, whether you make your own or you use a gourmet jarred sauce.

Filling the Shells

Manicotti Filling Ingredients:
2 egg yolks
3 lbs. ricotta cheese
2 tbsp fresh parsley (chopped fine) *optional*

- In a bowl mix the egg yolks with ricotta cheese and chopped parsley if desired. This adds some flavor.

Preparation:
- Take one crepe and lay it flat.
- Spread about 1 ½ tablespoons of ricotta filling in the center of shell and spread from one side to the other. The filling should resemble a rectangle shape in the middle of the shell. Then fold each side of the shell over the filling to form a tube.


- Preheat oven on Bake 375-400 degrees

- Put layer of tomato sauce on bottom of pan, enough to cover the whole bottom
- Place the manicotti seam side down in pan side by side (one layer only) and cover manicotti with a layer of sauce.
- You can sprinkle some grated parmesan cheese over the top if you like.
- Cover pan with aluminum foil.

- Cook for about 45 minutes (depending on oven). For the last 10 minutes of cooking time uncover pan.
- Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Manicotti can be served as the first course or as the main course of the meal. Accompany it with a salad and of course your favorite bottle of wine. Buon Appetito!!

Some of the simplest dishes are the most delicious. Grandma’s Manicotti is one of those dishes and Easter without Grandma’s Manicotti would just be a day, like a made for TV movie, instead of a special effects laden hi-octane eat at the edge of your seat dinner.

Purchase a crepe maker at your local Doris Italian Market or purchase one from our online store. Visit our online store by clicking HERE.

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