Tag: Grandmas

These Incredible Italian Grandmas Teach you to Make Pasta from Scratch

Pasta videos are one of my favorite things on the internet. To be specific, the making and shaping of pasta using traditional ingredients and methods. There are all sorts of videos out there, and pasta enthusiasts on all the different platforms, but I love watching Italian grandmas (nonnas) the most. I’m going to highlight a handful of favorite pasta videos here, and let these Italian grandmas show us how it’s done.

I also want to mention a channel on You Tube, Pasta Grannies, because it’s an absolute treasure trove of pasta videos by Vicki Bennison. I’ve embedded a few favorites episodes down below, definitely poke around the archives as well. There’s also some great inspiration at #pastamaking, and Miyuki Adachi is one of my all-time favorite Instagram accounts. Let me know in the comments if you have any favorites in this vein as well, I’m always adding to my list!

1. Pici

Pici(!!!) Pici is my first pasta love, and my favorite pasta to shape by hand. You roll out long spaghetti-shaped noodles across a countertop, and because you’re doing it by hand the shape is beautifully irregular and rustic. I thought my pici game was respectable until I came across this Tuscan grandma. Around the :50 second mark of this video, she shows us who’s boss.

2. Trofie

Trofie is the most recent shape I’ve tried to master. To make these tiny coils, some people wrap the pasta dough around a thin needle or umbrella spoke. I don’t have the patience for that (I’m so slow), and always resort to something more like this. Look at her outside-the-palm technique!

3. Fusilli Ricci

Proof that making fresh pasta keeps you strong! A beautiful portrait of nonna Maria at 86 years old making fusilli ricci.

4. Tagliatelle

Nonna Elena makes beautiful tagliatelle here, and make you think you can ditch your pasta machine for a pasta board and mattarello rolling pin. If you watch carefully, you get a sneak peek into her refrigerator too :).

5. Orecchiette

I visited Puglia years ago, and could watch the ladies make traditional orecchiette (little ears) for hours. In this video we see an orecchiette master at work, but don’t look away, because at the 2:00 minute mark, she goes big.

6. Cavatelli

The shaping of the cavatelli kicks in around the 2:00 minute mark here. I remember meeting some of these ladies when I travelled to Puglia years ago.

7. Sicilian Maccheroni

One more from the Pasta Grannies series. Filmed in Menfi, Sicily, I love this video for a hundred reasons. Watch Damiana and Gaetano make an incredible fava bean pasta lunch. Her knife skills are the best, the fresh from the garden favas(!), the sunny patio(!), Damiana’s fruit and berry tablecloth!

8. Miyuki Adachi

Not a nonna, but I suspect you’ll love Miyuki nonetheless. I found her on Instagram, and love watching her video shorts and pasta shaping demonstrations from Toronto. This is a video of some of what you’ll find her working on. As you can see, her trofie game is quite strong as well! (Follow Miyuki)

 

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My Grandma’s Garlicky Labneh Is the Ketchup to My Fries, the Butter to My Bread

Labneh: a creamy, tangy Middle Eastern yogurt strained until extra thick. It’s sort of a cross between whipped cream cheese and sour cream—but better. Lebanese people eat labneh with chips, chicken, kibbeh, fries. Growing up, it was my version of American ketchup.

I consider it the butter to my bread.

This obsession dates back to my childhood in Lebanon (my family jokes that I switched from drinking my mother’s milk to the tangy spread). Ultimately, the smooth spread reminds me of my grandmother Odette, and all of the ladies who cooked in her kitchen.

Every summer morning, I’d rush to her beach house to find out what was on the menu for the day. It was often something grilled, not fried, like kebab, whole fish, lamb, chicken thighs with a bunch of delicious sides. These massive home-cooked meals were sort of like a catering business—and always made with love.

She served lunch every day for 10 to 15 people, even though her beach house (or chalet, as we called it) barely had a kitchen: It had a sink, a makeshift pilot burner, and 8×15 square inches of counter space. Everything, including her famous labneh, was prepped in advance and then finished at the beach house overlooking the deep blue Mediterranean sea.

My grandma’s special secret? She had specific containers, clothes, and a fridge dedicated to her labneh-making. She’d let the freshly delivered yogurt strain in a cheesecloths for days, or sometimes three to four days to pickle or to turn into cheese.

As a child I’d catch myself opening the fridge and standing in front of it, mesmerized by my grandma’s thickening yogurt and all of the cheesecloths. The aroma alone held power over the whole fridge. That smell would engulf the kitchen in two seconds, which my grandmother would smell immediately and yell at me to close the door (as we never knew when the government was going to shut the electricity off for the day).

My favorite thing was when Odo would infuse the labneh. Sometimes with mint, oregano, or thyme. But my favorite was garlic—I loved the way it gave the yogurt a bite and kicked the taste up a notch, infusing it like no other ingredient. I was never allowed to have the garlic labneh before school for obvious reasons. So I’d begin my day with a labneh, olive, mint, and cucumber tartine in the morning, then normally for a snack after school. Pita chips or fries with labneh was always served with dinner.

In Lebanon, the “plain food diet,” comprised of rice and labneh, was king when you fell ill with stomach issues. Most boys and girls argued with their mom and dad about this meal, but I couldn’t put the bowl down—and even asked for seconds.


When I moved to America in 2004, I carried my labneh addiction with me to the Boston suburbs. I’d force my father to bring me to Cedar’s Market a few towns over to buy labneh. Though this was a makeshift version, it still felt like I was back in my fishing village, Anfeh, thousands of miles away.

My new reality consisted of processed foods, but labneh was always there. I’d bring a labneh tartine to school, and my classmates would look at me in confusion. While they were devouring pizza squares, chicken burgers, and mozzarella sticks at lunchtime (which I dubbed “the golden lunch”), I was eating yogurt mixed with olives, mint, and cucumber.

Years later, Greek yogurt gained popularity in the States, and therefore so did my version of chips and dip.

It was a great source of pride for me to bring labneh with me, when I travelled back to Yarmouth, Massachusetts a few weeks ago to visit my best friend’s family at their Cape house. They’re your typical South-Boston, Irish-American clan, turned off by ingredients like black pepper, cilantro, cumin, and jalapeño.

But when I whipped out my famous labneh and Cape Cod chips, they all came over slowly with their beers and tried it. It won raves, and all were wondering where this “new thing” had been their whole lives. In that moment, my two cultures collided, and I converted them into labneh lovers, too.

What’s your favorite way to eat Greek yogurt? Let us know in the comments below.

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Esther Choi’s Galbi Jjim Draws Inspiration From Her Grandma’s Recipe

We’ve partnered with Bosch, makers of high quality home appliances like the induction slide-in range, to share recipes, tips, and videos that highlight the little details that make a dish truly delicious.

When I was growing up, my halmoni (“grandma” in Korean) would always tell me that food is all about giving—that love is the secret ingredient that can make any dish or chef great. I’ve realized throughout my career as a chef and restaurateur that what she meant by love was simply the effort and care we put into food, the thoughtfulness and attention to detail that are the unwritten heart of any recipe.

The recipe I created for this kalbi jjim, Korean braised short ribs, embodies both my philosophy on cooking and also tells a story of who I am as a chef. It’s something my halmoni used to make for my family and friends on special occasions, like holidays and birthdays. Smelling the aroma—the pungent soy sauce cooking with garlic and onions, combined with the sweet essence of the fruits—even now brings me back to my childhood days of being excited for guests to come over and enjoy a party with great food. Of course, when I opened the second outpost of my restaurant mŏkbar in Brooklyn, the first thought I had was, I need to put kalbi jjim on the menu. It’s a celebratory dish that everyone should be able to have whenever they want. At least that’s my theory.

The short ribs get a nice, even sear on Bosch’s induction slide-in range.

Photo by Dave Katz

I’ve tweaked my family’s recipe to better fit a restaurant setting, and also added some techniques that I’ve learned throughout my classical training as a chef. My cooking style has always been to keep the flavors traditional to Korean cuisine, and then make them my own by using what I have learned and collected over my career.

Traditionally, this dish is typically more like a stew, with the vegetables and meat all braised together in one pot. However, I adjusted the recipe so that each ingredient is cooked separately according to its needs. At the restaurant, we cook the short ribs with the traditional marinade, but roast vegetables on the side and then serve them together. This way, you can cook everything to perfection without worrying that the vegetables will become too mushy or overcooked, which is a common mistake in cooking kalbi jjim.

This is a recipe that is so special to my family, and it is definitely a crowd-pleaser you can easily make for guests. I even checked with my halmoni and she approves—so much so that now I am always in charge of the kalbi jjim!


If you want to make this kalbi jjim at home, make sure you keep these tips and tricks in mind to make sure it comes out just right:

Buy good-quality short ribs

I really believe that great ingredients are a key element to any dish. It not only starts with where you buy your ingredients, but it also falls into the category of love and thoughtfulness. When picking out short ribs, good marbling is crucial, because the fat renders throughout when it’s cooked low and slow, which really highlights the other flavors. It also gives the short ribs the melt-in-your-mouth texture that you really want in this dish.

Don’t skimp on the sear

And when I say sear, I mean sear. You want a nice, dark brown crust. I really believe that this is the key differentiator between good kalbi jjim and great kalbi jjim. It’s important to sear on all sides, even the little ones. That way, you know you’re locking in those juices and giving that signature, caramelized depth of flavor to the meat.

Get creative with how it’s served

Kalbi jjim is usually served with rice and an assortment of sides (called banchan), but it doesn’t have to be. We like to serve it with lettuce cups or steamed buns so it can be eaten as a wrap. You can even serve it in a sandwich, on a bun or a roll with some mayo and pickles (kimchi or slaw would also be perfect), or anything else you can think of. The recipe can be as dynamic as your imagination will allow.

Experiment with the marinade

This marinade sticks pretty close to the classic Korean recipe with a few notable exceptions, like Asian pear and kombu. I do really think my little additions make a difference, but if you can’t find Asian pear, it’s totally fine to swap in another fruit or use grocery store pears; I’ve seen recipes using apples, plums, and even kiwi. The point is to stick with some of the basic key ingredients (like the soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and garlic), but not be afraid to have fun and play around with the recipe.

We’re firm believers in the fact that little things can make a big impact. The quality and freshness of ingredients can take a simple dish from good to great. And home appliances that are reliable and intuitive—like the induction slide-in range we used to make this dish—can streamline getting dinner on the table, making your entire week less stressful. We’ve partnered with Bosch to celebrate these small but vital boosts in our day-to-day lives, with recipes, videos, and more.

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My Grandma’s Spicy Meatball Recipe Is Sicilian by Way of Texas

We’re partnering with Lagostina to celebrate the Italian Sunday dinner with stories, recipes, and videos about this special family tradition. Here, chef and pizza guru Anthony Falco shares the story behind his grandmother’s spicy Italian meatballs.

I grew up in a Sicilian-American family, and I’m sharing my grandma’s meatball recipe with you. It seems like a pretty standard story…except there is nothing standard about it.

My grandma Mary was born in Louisiana and grew up in an almost exclusively Sicilian farming community called Highbank, Texas. She married my grandfather at a young age and they moved to nearby Marlin, Texas. In Marlin, they continued to farm, as well as operate the local liquor store named after my grandfather, Tony’s Liquor. As was common in many Italian-American communities, his mother, my great-grandmother Lena, lived in the house next door.

These cheesy meatballs wouldn’t be complete without a spicy arrabbiata sauce, shown here in a Lagostina pot.

Photo by James Ransom

I spent almost all of my childhood holidays and many stretches of the summer in Marlin, along with my cousins, uncles, aunts, and the rest of the combined Falco and Salvato family; my family would travel there from Austin, where I grew up pretty much disconnected from any other Italian-American community. I remember eating the food my great-grandmother and grandma prepared at these family gatherings: pizza, fresh-baked bread, sugo (slow-cooked tomato sauce), cucuzza (an Italian squash), fava beans, potato and squash casseroles, and lots of veggies from Lena’s garden. Still, I never once had my Grandmother’s meatballs. I saw them on the table, along with sausages, baked eggs, and all kinds of other meats that were completely off-limits to me.

Anthony Falco with Grandma Mary at a farm in Texas.

Photo by Anthony Falco

That’s because my dad, in the process of moving to Austin in the ‘70s, had become a hippie and a vegetarian. So my great-grandmother prepared meat and vegetarian versions of everything; my dad would make vegetarian meatballs (another recipe for another time), and I never really thought much about it until well into my 20s.

By that time, I had cooked at many restaurants (and cooked meat) and never really considered switching from my vegetarian upbringing—until I knew I was about to start working at a restaurant in Brooklyn that would be dedicated to sourcing only the highest-quality meats. I didn’t want to be “that vegetarian cook” again. There was also an upcoming holiday party at the bar I was working at; it was going to be a dinner at Peter Luger’s, the 131-year-old steakhouse in Brooklyn. What better place to lose my meat virginity?

The longer you simmer these spicy, juicy meatballs, the tastier they’ll be.

Photo by James Ransom

After an informal poll I took vastly agreed that bacon was the gateway drug to my new carnivorous lifestyle, I started with the famous Peter Luger bacon. As it turns out, I really liked it. I ate shrimp cocktail, steak, and drank heavily to steel my nerves. Not only did I not get sick as some had predicted, I felt perfectly great. I tried everything that was offered to me, a rule I have continued to live by with great pride.

And then on a trip back home to Texas, the moment of truth came: I told my grandma that I was no longer a vegetarian. Without skipping a beat, she said, “Oh good, let’s go to Lockhart and get some barbecue!” The dividends of my new eating habits were paying off.

Over BBQ at Kreuz Market, I told her that I was really dying to try her meatballs and the next day we made them together. I was not disappointed. They were extremely delicious and unique—it was like I had been given a long-lost birthright. Because I have no nostalgia for meat or meatballs, I felt I was pretty quickly able to break down what made them special:

All beef or mostly beef

Being in Texas, of course beef is king. My grandma’s meatballs were almost always all beef (Falls County sits squarely in cattle country), but if you want to use pork or veal it shouldn’t affect the recipe too much.

Grandma Mary and Anthony’s grandfather in New Orleans.

Photo by Anthony Falco

Sooo much parmesan cheese—and very little binder

There is a lot of cheese in this recipe. I like Parmesan and Pecorino; my grandma would use both. I’ve also added a panade (a mix of starch, like bread or panko, and liquid), but she generally never used one. They are essentially meat and cheese balls.

It’s a spicy meatball

Being Sicilians, and being in Texas, spice is a part of life. The recipe makes for a pretty spicy meatball, so if you have a low tolerance for spice you might want to bring it down a notch.

Fennel for the win

Fennel and fennel seed were featured prominently in many of my Sicilian family’s recipes. I like to grind my fennel with other spices and salt to make a blend that will season the meat evenly; you won’t find the large chunks of fennel seed that would normally appear in my grandma’s recipe. But if you want to go more rustic and skip grinding the spices, that will work too.

Perfect for Sunday Dinner

One of the great things about this recipe is that you can make the meatballs the day before and let them chill overnight. They’ll hold their shape better and all you’ll have to do the next day is pop them in the oven, or fry them in a pan, before they take a swim in your tomato sauce. Once they are simmering away in the sauce, you have a pretty flexible window of time to prepare your pasta, salad, and any other accompanying dishes. As a bonus, the sauce will only get more flavorful and the meatballs more tender the longer you cook them. I prefer to serve them separately in a big bowl, then I dress some pasta with the sauce (paccheri or spaghetti are great) and let people help themselves. Mamma Mia Meatballs!


In partnership with Lagostina, the premium Italian cookware brand that values high-quality materials and time-honored craftsmanship, we’re highlighting the #LagostinaSundayDinner with a new series all about the Italian tradition. Every Sunday, we’ll share go-to Sunday recipes from some of our favorite chefs and cookbook authors.

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