Well, I probably shouldn't do this, but I've started another Blog. Like I don't already spend too much time at the MacBook. As some of you might have guessed, I like to cook and I love to eat. So I thought I'd share my recipes, humble as they may be and an occasional dinner menu at our house. I am somewhat "reluctant" to share this project right now, but caution to the wind. The plan is to be discovered by the Food Network for my cooking show Cranky Franky's in the Kitchen.
Am I ready for critics? Probably not. I know my instructions are not always clear or precise. Let me know if something doesn't make sense. Anyhow, if you're interested, check out "Dinner's Ready"

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Manicotti - Aunt Mary's Recipe - Ricotta Stuffed Crepes (Crespelli)

These manicotti are made with crepes rather than pasta.  The crepes, called crespelli, are stuffed with ricotta cheese or a mixture of ricotta and spinach.  The egg crepes are made with water, not milk or cream, and are very light.  My aunt Mary got this recipe from relatives who were in the ricotta cheese business and my mother used to make these for holiday meals, especially at Easter.  This recipe makes between 14 and 24 manicotti depending on the size of the eggs, the skillet and whether you pour 1/4 or 1/3 cup of batter.  Today, with jumbo eggs, an 8-inch skillet with a 6-inch base and using 1/4 cup, I made 22 crepes.  Here is the recipe from my personal cookbook:

Place a clean bed-sheet on your kitchen table for the cooked crepes. Prepare 2 pounds of ricotta with 3 egg yolks, salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg, and a good third of a cup of parmesan cheese. If adding spinach, wash and cook the spinach, then drain and squeeze all the water out and chop. The add the chopped spinach to the ricotta mixture.

The crepe batter is 8 whole eggs beaten with a scant teaspoon of salt.  Add 2 cups of water and 2 cups of flour a little at a time while whisking.

Heat two lightly oiled non-stick skillets over medium-low heat.  One should be about an 8-inch, the other larger (I use my trusty cast iron as the number 2 skillet).   Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into the first skillet, and swirl the skillet to get the batter to spread evenly.

When the crepe begins to look dry on top (only a minute or two), flip the pan over the larger skillet so the crepe land on the flip side.

Flip the crepe

Re-oil the first pan.  By the time you pour the next crepe, side two of the first crepe is done and it's ready to flip onto your clean bed-sheet.  (Oh, figu miu, lenzuolo nun c'e bianco?*)
The crepes will have a "rubbery" texture and feel
Looks like  the lunar surface.  
I only had a little spinach to add along with the parmesan (or Romano) cheese.

Distribute the ricotta mixture evenly before rolling up the manicotti.

Fold the crepe over the filling and gently pull toward you to force the filling outward and into the "tube".

Continue rolling the crepe.  At this point they can be placed on a waxed-paper lined tray for freezing if you are not going to cook them all.

To prepare for the oven:  Place some sauce (your favorite tomato sauce or a b├ęchamel) on the bottom of a baking dish.  Place the manicotti and add more sauce, grated parmesan or Romano and, if you like, mozzarella.  (Can anything with melted cheese be bad?)

Lesson: when food blogging, be sure to take a picture of the final result before going to it with fork and mouth.  Unfortunately, I missed the photo op.  Here is the best I could do with what I had to work with.  Served with Italian sausage, cooked in the sauce along with a side of broccoli rabe.
*I imagine my Italian grandmothers, aunts and mother all sitting around the kitchen table in heaven, observing my cooking escapades.  They have no comment about my skill in preparing manicotti, but are most upset because I didn't use a WHITE bed sheet to cover the table.

Allora, la cena e pronto.

Chicken Milanese

So what's the difference between Chicken Parmigiana and Chicken Milanese?  Is it lighter on the parmesan?  Is it the absence of tomato sauce?  Not sure, but it's good.

Slice the breasts
Dip in egg, then breadcrumb (skip the flour dredge)

Serve without tomato sauce