Tonawanda News

March 4, 2013

Plenty of dishes to celebrate in March

--
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Welcome to the happy month of March.  My calendar tells me that the many events arriving in the coming days will be a great respite after such a dreary winter.

Brighter mornings begin March 10 when daylight saving time arrives.

I hear that St. Patrick’s Day in Youngstown will be the second anniversary of the Very Green Weekend in the village  March 16, when participants meet on the corner of Lockport and Main at noon and parade their way to a celebration at Brennan’s Irish Pub.

St. Patrick’s Day dinner is best when served with green beer, of course, and this recipe, which takes only 20 minutes to prepare and a few hours to cook. And that’s no blarney.

Mustard-glazed corned beef and cabbage

1 three-pound piece of corned beef (with spice packet, if included), trimmed of excess fat.

1  12-ounce bottle pale ale or light beer

1 medium onion, halved

2 cloves garlic, smashed

2  bay leaves

1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, halved or quartered, if large

1 small head green cabbage (about 1 3/4 pounds cut into eight wedges)

3/4 cup whole-grain mustard

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Place corned beef in a large pot. Add the beer, onion, garlic, bay leaves, 1 1/2 cups water and the contents of the spice packet (if included), and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until tender and easily pierced with a fork, 2 1/2 hours.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Transfer the beef to a foil-lined baking sheet. Add the potatoes and cabbage to the pot and simmer, covered until the vegetables are just tender, 10 to 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the mustard, sugar and vinegar. Brush the beef with three tablespoons of the mustard mixture and roast until the sauce has thickened and set slightly, 12 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the beef to a cutting board and thinly slice. Serve with the vegetables and remaining sauce.

This popular recipe serves eight, with 439 calories each.

•••

Spring begins March 20, but on the day before, on the 19th, St. Joseph’s Day brings Italian-American communities to the table, quite literally.

“St. Joseph’s Table,” is a feast that includes all manner of breads, vegetables, egg dishes, pasta and desserts. Legend has it, during a medieval drought and famine, Sicilians prayed to St. Joseph, the patron of workers and the guardian of family. When the famine subsided, they attributed it to the saint and promised to honor him each year with a feast.

My Sicilian relatives serve “St. Joseph’s pasta,” a spaghetti with meatless red sauce — often with anchovies or sardines — topped with bread crumbs (to represent sawdust, a nod to the saint’s connection with the working man).

Fava beans, associated with good luck because they survived that Sicilian drought, often are given away in dried form to bring good fortune. Elaborate breads are shaped into biblical symbols such as fish and Joseph’s staff.

As for dessert, celebrations generally include zeppole or sfinci, fried-dough confections that are filled with ricotta, fruit or cream, or just drizzled with honey. Our recipe, which we published in the Gazette back in 2008, is still requested, and is yours here for clipping and making!

Sfingi di San Giuseppe (St. Joseph’s Day cream puffs)

1/2 cup butterdash of salt

1 cup water

1 cup pastry flour

4 eggs

1 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel

Combine butter, salt and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Add flour all at one time and mix well until dough leaves the sides of the pan.

Remove from stove and cool a little.

Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Add sugar, orange and lemon peel and mix thoroughly.

Drop by tablespoons on a greased baking sheet, leaving a three-inch space between them.

Bake in a 400-degree oven for about 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 degrees, and bake abut 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

This very old recipe makes about 16 sfingi, with this popular filling.  Make a slit in side of each puff and add the filling below if you like.  

Ricotta filling

1 pound ricotta

2 tablespoons chocolate chips

1 tablespoon candied orange peel, cut finely

1 jigger creme de cacao or any other liqueur 

2 tablespoons sugar

Cream ricotta well, then add the chocolate chips, orange peel, creme de cacao and sugar, and mix well.

Fill the puffs with this delicious ricotta filling. 

••• 

This year, Easter Sunday arrives March 31 and we share Grandmother’s (Sito) salad with a Lebanese twist.

Sito’s Easter salad, Lebanese style

1 small red and small white cabbage, or 1 medium cabbage of either color, chopped

2 large tomatoes, seeded and diced

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped (Tops has fresh mint)

2 to 3 teaspoons olive oil.

Juice of one or two lemons (about 5 tablespoons) or to taste

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, or to taste

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients  in a pretty large bowl and serve.

Makes about six servings.

Marija Vukcevich is a freelance writer from Lewiston. Contact her at marijavukcevich@aol.com.