Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mangia Mamma's Five Favorites~week 3

1. Fresh Basil
I LOVE the taste of fresh basil on so many things, not to mention being able to make pesto whenever I want. This being said, I am always happy when our Salem Trader Joe's starts carrying their inexpensive fresh basil plants. Now I know some of you are trying to figure out why I don't just grow my own, and the answer is that growing basil in the garden is one thing that has my gardening abilities stumped. No matter what kind I've tried to grow- from both seed and plant- it just doesn't work for me. Hence the joy of the beautiful green basil plant sitting on our window sill in the living room. It will, if it's like its predecessors, keep us in good supply all summer long. To be honest, for $2.99, I think it's a great deal!
2. Sedums
The Better Homes and Gardens Plant Encyclopedia says, "Sedums are nearly the perfect plants." I couldn't agree more. I bought a few at the Salem Saturday Market a couple of weeks ago and planted them in tea cups for my front porch. When Mary and I were in Lowe's looking for something else, there were sedums on the clearance rack which I knew I had to bring home. Not only can they be found pretty cheaply, but they  are really easy to care for. Another fun part about them has been finding containers in which to plant them. The newest containers are pencil holders/vases that Cari and Josh made when they were young at our local Children's museum. I am looking forward to seeing what other types of sedum I can find and what kind of containers I'll come up with.  

3. Swiss Chard Malfatti with Browned Sage Butter

This is an Italian dumpling recipe I found in Bon Appetit magazine a few months ago and decided to try. It was such a hit that I thought I'd make it last night again, doubling the recipe so everyone (i.e. David and Joshua) could have a few more. It was again a success, and I knew I needed to share the recipe. 
Buono Appetito!

Swiss Chard Malfatti with Browned Sage Butter, adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 6 bunches Swiss chard, center ribs and stems removed (about 2 1/2 pound)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups whole-milk ricotta, drained
  • 4-5 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour plus more for sprinkling on pan
  • 12 sage leaves, thinly sliced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Finely grated Romano


  • Cheesecloth or old kitchen towel 


  • If using Swiss chard, fill a large bowl with ice water. Cook chard in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still bright green, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, transfer to ice water; let sit until cold.
  • Squeeze chard dry. Transfer to a large double layer of cheesecloth or an old towel; gather ends and squeeze to thoroughly wring out liquid.
  • Transfer chard to a large bowl. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add melted butter, ricotta, 4 egg yolks, egg, 1 1/2 cup flour, and 2 teaspoons salt to chard. Using an electric mixer, beat until a dough forms, 1-2 minutes. Alternatively, knead ingredients by hand in a large bowl until mixture holds together when lightly pressed.
  • Cook 1 golf ball-size sample portion of dough in boiling salted water for about 5 minutes (to check for texture and seasoning). Taste sample; adjust seasoning if needed. If sample falls apart in the water, mix 1 more egg yolk and 1-2 tablespoons flour into dough until it holds together.
  • Lightly flour a rimmed baking sheet. Scoop out scant 2 tablespoons dough; place on sheet. Repeat with remaining dough to form 24 malfatti. DO AHEAD Malfatti can be formed 2 weeks ahead. Freeze on baking sheet, then transfer to a resealable plastic freezer bag. Keep frozen.
  • Working in 2 batches, cook malfatti in a large pot of boiling salted water until cooked through, 6-8 minutes per batch (8-10 minutes if frozen). Drain and transfer to a plate; tent with foil to keep warm.
  • Meanwhile, heat remaining 1/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sage and cook until butter foams and begins to turn brown and sage becomes crispy, about 30 seconds. Season sage brown butter with salt and pepper. Divide malfatti among plates; spoon sage brown butter over. Sprinkle with Romano cheese.
4. Rebuilding Catholic Culture

One of the benefits of Joshua's education at Thomas More College is the books he reads for classes and the fact that he usually brings them home to share with us at the end of the year. One of these books is Rebuilding Catholic Culture by Dr. Ryan Topping. Dr. Topping was Joshua's professor in The Catechism and Cultural Apologetics, and he thought I'd enjoy reading the book. I am in the middle of reading a couple of other books- something I started doing a few years ago and still not sure if it's a good idea- but the book title intrigued me, so I added it to the pile. So far, I am really glad I did. 
Dr. Topping is very readable while being thought provoking at the same time. I am only a chapter into the book, but I know it will be on the top of my pile of what I will be reading.

5. Having Joshua Home
Joshua enjoying a home-cooked meal

I am so grateful for having such awesome kids! I love how they are becoming such terrific young adults. On Sunday we picked up Joshua from PDX for his two months of summer break before heading back for his senior year at Thomas More College in New Hampshire. He will actually be leaving almost a month earlier as he was accepted to their Oxford Institute Internship. This means he gets to go back to school for a week in August then onto England to study for a week before jaunting across the English and Scottish countrysides before heading back to school. While I am excited about all he'll see and do in Great Britain, I am probably more excited about what his thoughts are about after graduation. You see, he is discerning the priesthood. He has thought about being a priest from the time he started the R.C.I.A. program at St. Joseph Church back in 2009. I heard about this a few months after he got involved at St. Joseph's, way before I had any thoughts of coming home to the Catholic Church. We've wondered where God was leading him, and we've been praying for him to discover his vocation. He has talked about the possibility of becoming a priest or monk off and on for the last year. We talked about the Dominicans, the Benedictines and other orders, so I thought that was where he was being lead. Imagine my surprise when he shared with us after his birthday dinner Monday night that he is going to apply for seminary right here in our own Archdiocese of Portland (the diocese of Western Oregon). Now his dad, siblings and I will be praying and waiting as he starts the process of talking, filling out paperwork and writing his autobiography. Thank you for your prayers as he goes through this process.  It's going to be a great couple of months having him home!

Be sure to visit Hallie at Moxie Wife to see her Five Favorites plus check out some of these~

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