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Entries in potatoes (2)


Potatoes for Rocky

My grandfather's (on Marmo's side) name was Rocco. He also responded to "Rocky" and "Rock".

Grandpa was my all-time favorite family member. A strong and silent, old-school Italian man. He wasn't much of a conversationalist but you knew where he stood. And you knew where you stood with him.

Rocky was a mechanic by trade, fought in World War II, was an accomplished golfer, and had only one child – a daughter, my mom.

I think this last fact was the reason Grandpa and I had such a close relationship. I say "close," but I could probably count the number of conversations he and I had on one hand.

Our relationship was some kind of mutual trust and respect stemming from the fact that he raised my mom and knew she was a smart, responsible and respectable woman. He assumed I inherited these qualities. In fact, he would often mix up the two of us, calling me, "Mar-Elana" a confused combination of Marlene and Elana.

For my 17th birthday, Grandpa insisted I have a car. A new one. He handed over some money to my parents so they could purchase said vehicle for me, but what he gave them would only cover half of a low-end vehicle. My parents felt too badly to tell him it wasn't enough, so they pitched in the rest. And Rosebud, a 1994 Toyota Tercel came into my possession.

In his younger days, Grandpa was an accomplished golfer. He won countless local tournaments and was frequently featured in the newspaper:

Some press clippings.

My mom even caddied for him:

He brought home trophy after trophy. When I was back at Iaciofano HQ over Thanksgiving, Marmo requested I take some photos of all these golfing trophies. Here are a few highlights:

The above is the same trophy featured in the photo below:

Another impressive win.

When it came to food, Grandpa kept it pretty simple. Being the old-school Italian man that he was, you'd expect him to like spaghetti and meatballs. And he did. But what I remember him liking most were potatoes. Let's be clear: Marmo is a great cook. But a baked potato seems to be beyond her culinary capabilities. She'd put what she thought was a cooked potato in front of Grandpa and he'd practically break his teeth trying to chew it. in a soft-spoken tone, he'd comment, "Mar, I don't think this is done."

Indeed it wasn't. Into the microwave with ye, ye undercooked spud!

I may have inherited this undercooked tater gene from Marmo. To compensate for this, I sidestep the activity altogether by roasting, boiling, mashing and liquefying my potatoes. It just seems easier.

Therefore, the following recipe is for Potato Leek Soup – dedicated to both Marmo and Rocco. If my grandfather were a soup, this is the soup he would be – and I don't think he would be offended by that comparison.

Potato leek soup is a simple, quiet soup. Subtle, but not lacking character. Peppery notes give it a kick, while adding a dollop of creme fraiche or Greek yogurt supply a deep, smooth finish.

Here's the recipe (compliments of David Lebowitz):

What You Need:
2-3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
4 leeks, washed and sliced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme; optional
1/4 teaspoon chile powder
6 cups water
1 1/4-pounds potatoes (I used russet), peeled and cubed
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground white pepper

What To Do:

1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the butter or olive oil over medium heat.

2. Add the slices leeks and season with salt. Cook the leeks over moderate heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until they’re completely soft and wilted.

3. Add the thyme, if using, and chile powder, and stir for about 30 seconds, cooking them with the leeks to release their flavor flavors.

4. Pour in the water, and add the potatoes and bay leaf.

5. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender when poked with a sharp knife. Depending on which potatoes you used, it could take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.

6. Pluck out the bay leaves and puree the soup with the white pepper, seasoning with more salt if necessary. I use an immersion (stick) blender, but if you use a standard blender, be sure not to fill it more than half-full and secure the lid, and cover it with a tea towel when blending, to avoid hot soup or steam for causing problems. Don’t use a food processor as that will make the potato purée gummy.

If the soup is too thick, add a bit more water, until it’s the desired consistency.

Me and Grandpa back in the day


Make Pizza with Thanksgiving Leftovers!

I have come to the conclusion that there are an infinite number of pleasing pizza toppings and combinations. I'm not saying that everything you throw on a pizza is going to taste good, but I will say that your Thanksgiving leftovers will. Taste good on a pizza. And how.

Seriously, I've tried it. Now, I know you like diving into the fridge in the dead of night when you think no one is watching, quietly rolling back the foil on that picked over bird and pulling just a few more cold, roasted chucks from the turkey carcass.

I'm guilty, I do it too. And I may use leftover cranberry sauce for dipping.

But what if, just WHAT IF, you saved some of that turkey and put it on a pizza? For the pizza pictured above, I used pan fried mini potatoes, turkey sausage (but you can use your leftover bird), a slightly firm and nutty goat's milk cheese, lemon olive oil, cranberries and fresh herbs.

I also used a whole wheat crust, because let's face it, you just gorged yourself on a smorgasbord of tasty treats drenched in various amounts of butter. Some dietary fiber might be a good idea at this juncture. Just saying.

OK, so let's see how it all goes down. First the whole wheat pizza recipe:

What You Need
1 envelope dried yeast
1 cup warm water
3 cup all purpose flour or bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil

What You Do:
In a large bowl dissolve the yeast in 1 cup of warm water…stir in ½ cup of the flour.  Cover and let stand for about 30 minutes

Then add the other ½ cup of warm water salt and olive oil.  Slowly begin to add the remaining flour.  When all of the flour is incorporated knead the dough until it is smooth.  It may take about 10 minutes….

Then dust the dough lightly all over with flour and place in a bowl – covered with a cloth  to rise for about 1 hour.

When it has doubled in size, punch down the dough and divide into 4 parts.  Form each fourth into a smooth ball and let rise covered on a floured board for 30 minutes.  In the meantime heat the oven to 500 degrees for 30 minutes

Now for the assembly and toppings.

What You Need:
Makes 4 personal sized pizzas
1/4 lb goats milk cheese. I used "Midnight Moon" from Cypress Grove
Lemon olive oil (you can use this recipe)
4 turkey sausage links OR strips of leftover Thanksgiving turkey, cut into small chunks
1/2 cup chicken or turkey stock
1 small bag of mini roasting potatoes cut into very thin slices
Fresh thyme and rosemary
1/2 cup of fresh cranberries
salt and pepper
olive oil

What You Do:
Place a pizza stone in your oven and heat it up to 500 degrees. You will want to make sure that pizza stone has been heating for at least a half an hour before you cook your pizza.

If using turkey sausage: Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small frying pan. Add your turkey sausage, removed from the casings. As it cooks, break it up into small chunks with a wooden spoon. Add the 1/2 cup of chicken or turkey stock and let the sausage simmer until cooked, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

In another small pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the lemon oil (from this recipe). Add your sliced potatoes and some fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Fry 'em up until they are tender and also a little crispy and brown on the edges. Set aside.

Sprinkle some semolina flour on a pizza peel and stretch out your dough.

Drizzle some of the lemon oil on top of the stretched out dough and smooth it over the top.

Distribute the roasted potatoes over the surface of the dough.

Add small slices of the goats milk cheese on top of the potatoes.

Sprinkle the turkey sausage or the leftover turkey on top of the potatoes and cheese.

Drizzle a bit more lemon oil over the top and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Now would be an excellent time to add some more thyme and rosemary.

Place the 1/2 cup of cranberries in a microwave safe bowl. Add water to the bowl - enough to cover the berries. Place the cup of water and berries in the microwave and heat on high for about 45 seconds, just enough to pop the cranberries (you will actually hear them pop). Remove the cup from the microwave and drain the water out of the cup.

Place the popped cranberries along the top of the pizza. They will add a nice tang to the the smooth, lemony and salty pizza.

Slide your pizza onto the stone and into the oven. Cook for about 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven (using the pizza peel). You can add more fresh herbs or oil if you like.

Now, I know I'm slightly obsessed with pizza. I swear it's healthy... Regardless of the mental effects of this pizza preoccupation, I have started to compile quite a library of pizza recipes. The first of which are in our first cookbook, Top Your Pizza. You can see a preview of the book below. This book is available for purchase (click here), and in tune with the holiday season, most of the proceeds from the book sales go to the non-profit Just Food (which you can check out here). It's a win-win situation. Pizza for you, profits for a non-profit. Happiness all around.



Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

We wish you a healthy, festive, belt-loosening, gin-infused (ok, that might just be me) holiday.

Eat some turkey, watch some football, get into an immature name-calling argument with your siblings, and make sure to wear those safety goggles! We'll see you on Monday. With something .... um... cleansing.