October is a special month for many different reasons. While days grow shorter and cooler, nothing surpasses its color and beauty except for Oct. 12, the day many pay tribute to Christopher Columbus.
Though the federal holiday was celebrated Monday, Thursday commemorates Columbus’ landing in the New World and it is the date when Italian-Americans began celebrating their heritage and contributions over a century ago with festivals, parades and other activities throughout the country just as they did here in Greenbush. This annual tradition is part of their national identity that remains vital because of recognizing the discovery and creation of America and the millions of immigrants from all over the world who followed Columbus’ great voyage of exploration.
Great pride is taken about the explorer from Genoa, Italy, who crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1492 on a famous voyage that led to the creation of present-day America which was named after another Italian explorer, Amerigo Vespucci. Yet another Italian explorer, Giovanni Caboto, commonly known as John Cabot, discovered North America. And if you’d like to know more about what the Italians have contributed to the world, purchase a newly revised edition of “Italians First! An A to Z of Everything Achieved First by Italians,” by Arturo Barone.
Something else that cannot be disputed is the popularity of Italian food. A few weeks ago, an excellent sauce was featured here as a favorite from Garry Fraboni, owner of Fraboni’s Italian Deli on Owen Road in Monona. Using ingredients purchased there, as well as at his brother Steve’s Italian Deli on Regent Street, it was as close as possible to what their mother, Gloria, used to make many years ago. Another similar Fraboni recipe recently surfaced, again being as close as possible to what their mother used to prepare each year for Christmas Eve. It will become yet another recipe for my archives of Italian favorites after giving it a new title.
Mama Fraboni’s tomato sauce with tuna
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 fresh garlic cloves
4 fillets of anchovy in oil
5-ounce can of Genoa tuna in olive oil, do not drain
½ cup diced celery
½ cup diced carrot
½ cup diced onion
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley
28-ounce can plum tomatoes in puree
½ can water
1½ 6-ounce cans of tomato paste
Place olive oil in medium saucepan, add garlic and cook on medium low heat until garlic is light brown. Discard garlic. Add anchovies to hot oil and cook for about 2 minutes or until the anchovies melt. Add the tuna and reduce the heat to low. Stir together and cook for 3 minutes. Add vegetables and seasonings and bring to a high boil; cook until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and use the tomato can to measure ½ can of water. Add tomato paste to the can, stir well, then add tomato mixture to the pan. Boil hard for 10 minutes, turn down and simmer about another 10-15 minutes until finished.
Serve over egg pasta such as fettuccine or a thinner pasta like capellini.
Here is a recipe for a round steak that returned me to when I was growing up and the simplicity of the round steak my Hungarian mother used to make by pounding, flouring, and browning to simmer for about an hour, covered in a sauce seasoned with sautéed onions, fried bacon, ketchup and water to serve over rice. Found in my Hungarian cookbook, here is a round steak recipe with a touch of the old country.
2 tablespoons flour
Dash of salt and pepper
2 pounds round steak
3 tablespoons oil
1 #2 can tomatoes
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, sliced in rings
Combine flour, salt and pepper and pound into meat. Heat oil in a Dutch oven and brown meat on both sides. Add remaining ingredients, except the green pepper, and simmer very slowly for 2½ to 3 hours, or until meat is tender. Add green pepper rings and cook 10 minutes longer.
Remove meat to serving platter and keep hot in the oven. Strain the gravy, forcing vegetables through the sieve. Reheat, correct the seasoning, and pour over meat. Serve with rice, noodles or potatoes.
Note: Feel free to season with paprika.
For those of you with Leif Eriksson on the mind, longtime reader Jerry Carlson recently honored me with a cookbook filled with Norwegian favorites compiled by a local Norwegian club. If there is a particular Norwegian recipe you’ve been interested in, just let me know. In the meantime, here is one from “Ethnic Cooking, Wisconsin Style,” published by the American Cancer Society in 1982.
1 cup quick cooking oats
½ cup shortening
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups hot water
3 cups all-purpose flour
Measure oats, shortening, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl. Pour hot water over these ingredients, stir, and let cool. Add about 3 cups flour and stir to make a sticky dough. Sprinkle pastry board heavily with flour and roll out until very thin with a grooved rolling pin. Score with a pastry cutter to allow bread to be easily broken into serving-size pieces. Bake in a 500-degree oven 5 minutes or bake on a grill at 450 degrees, slightly browning on both sides.
— Recipe submitted by Mrs. Sharon Klabunde, Marinette County
Here is a Norwegian fruit soup, excellent for holiday brunches, submitted by Mrs. Harold L. (Elaine J.) Myhre, Madison. For a special touch, it can be served with whipped cream or slivered almonds.
Norwegian fruit soup
6-ounce package dried apples
6 ounce package dried apricots
8 ounce package pitted prunes
9 ounce package dark raisins
1 quart grape juice
1 quart water
2 3-inch pieces cinnamon sticks
6 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca
1 lemon peel and pulp, cut into ½ inch pieces
Cut larger pieces of fruit into smaller portions, if desired. Mix all ingredients together in a large Dutch oven and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 20 minutes, or until fruit is tender. At this point, if desired, sugar to taste. If sugar is added, simmer several more minutes. Serve hot, then refrigerate or freeze remaining soup
Yield: 12 servings
Recent request : A reader recently inquired about a recipe for sauerkraut and potato soup made with Jewish rye bread that she thought had been clipped from either the State Journal or Capital Times Because the instructions seemed vague, she wondered if I could help. I am unable to, but hope one of you can.