Thursday, May 2, 2013

Meet Mary P!

When I started thinking about this bio, I started reminiscing about my very first cooking experiences. As soon as I could kneel on a chair I was at the kitchen table mixing meatballs with my dad. I still remember how important I felt being able to be a part of the weekly sauce making. We would prepare sauce on Saturday at my dad’s house, letting it cook all day, then warming it again before church on Sunday. A quick stop at Balistreri’s bakery for the freshest loaf of Italian bread you could find and we were ready to go home for dinner. My sister & I would often sneak the end off the loaf of bread before we got home, then turn
the bread around in the paper bag so no one would know (right away). Those early memories set the tone for a lifetime of food loving. My mother also taught me a lot of cooking basics. I recall peeling potatoes and cutting my finger when I was 8 years old. My very first food related injury!

From those humble beginnings I began to cook professionally when I was 13 years old. I was a short order cook for three years in a family restaurant, Gleason's. My dad was the manager, my first boss. Running a grill line by myself on a busy Saturday taught me how to multitask like nothing else did! I went on to run a snack bar kitchen for several years, on a weekend basis, while going to college and having my daughter, Meghan. I also moved into restaurant management at Pizza Hut for several years, leaving food service to raise my daughter. Unfortunately, a restaurant life and child rearing don’t always go hand in hand. My love for food never ended though. I've continued to push myself to learn new recipes and try new techniques. I was thinking that my cooking style was more upscale comfort food, until I starting talking about this project with my husband, Ed. He quickly said “your cooking style is entertainment food”. He pointed out to me how much I love cooking food for parties and entertaining.  I do some small scale catering for family and friends. Ed reminded me how much I love much I love to see people enjoy the food I cook.

Being a part of 37 Cooks has definitely pushed the boundaries for me, giving me new ingredients to work with and challenges to face. I’ll continue to cook for my family and friends. I’ll continue to use local, fresh produce & meat...something that is so very important to me. I’ll also continue to have fun doing projects, like smoking my own bacon and tapping maple trees & making my own syrup. I hope to continue to share these projects with everyone for a long time to come! The recipe I chose to share for this bio, the one that suits me so well, is my basic recipe for meatballs.

A big vat of BBQ meatballs I made for a party, using the basic meatball recipe. I put the meatballs into a tomato sauce spiked with vinegar, peppers, onions, brown sugar & mustard.

1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup grated cheese (I use Pecorino Romano)
1 small onion, diced
1 egg, beaten
1 cup bread crumbs, fresh if possible
2 Tablespoons parsley flakes
1 clove garlic, crushed & chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all ingredients with clean hands. I use a folding technique, almost like lightly kneading dough, until all ingredients are mixed.

Shape meat mixture into 1 inch balls. Place on baking sheet & bake at 375°F for approximately 30 minutes, until brown and just starting to cook.

Add to tomato sauce & simmer for at least 1 hour.

(The pictures show the big vat of BBQ meatballs I made for a party, using the basic meatball recipe. I put the meatballs into a tomato sauce spiked with vinegar, peppers, onions, brown sugar & mustard)

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