Cook’s Corner

Cook’s Corner: Italian favorites with chef Steve Martorano


Sleuth’s Corner

Q: My late mother-in-law made the best brisket, and all I know is that her “secret ingredient” was coffee. The only reason I know that is because I saw her once put the dregs of the coffee pot from breakfast in the Dutch oven. I’d like to make the brisket the way she did when we gather for Passover, and I hope one of your old-time cooks will help.

Maddie, North Miami

Main dish

Steve Martorano’s Macaroni Carbonara

1 teaspoon olive oil

4 ounces diced pancetta (Italian bacon)

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Salt and pepper to taste

4 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

4 egg yolks

6 ounces pasta, such as bucatini

Have ready a pot of boiling salted water for the pasta.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook briefly to render and crisp. Stir in butter, then add cream, stir, and cook until liquid is reduced by half. Taste for salt, add crushed black pepper and a handful of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Mix together very well. Keep warm.

Now that the sauce is done, cook the macaroni until al dente. Whisk the raw egg yolks in a bowl, drain the al dente macaroni and add to the egg yolks and immediately stir and toss. (You want the yolks to cook but not become firm). Then add the cream mixture. Add more crushed black pepper and cheese to taste. Mix together extremely well, tossing like a salad. Plate it and, if you’d like, add an extra egg yolk on top of each serving. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 567 calories (65 percent from fat), 41 g fat (21.4 g saturated, 10.5 g monounsaturated), 289 mg cholesterol, 16.5 g protein, 34.0 g carbohydrate, 1.4 g fiber, 297 mg sodium.

Note: Bucatini, a pasta shaped like a long, narrow straw, is available at Italian markets. A thick spaghetti or linguini may be substituted.

Source: Adapted by Linda Cicero from a recipe by Steve Martorano

Main dish

Sausage and Egg Waffle Tacos

1 tablespoon butter

4 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 (12 ounce) package uncooked pork sausage patties (8 patties)

1 (16.3-ounce) grand style buttermilk biscuits

In 8- to 10-inch nonstick skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. In medium bowl, beat eggs, milk and salt with whisk. Add to skillet. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until eggs are cooked through. Cover to keep warm.

Press each sausage patty to form 3-inch round. In 10-inch nonstick skillet, cook half of the patties at a time over medium-high heat about 2 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Cover to keep warm.

Spray waffle maker with cooking spray. Heat waffle maker. Separate dough into 8 biscuits. Press each biscuit to form 5-inch round. Place 1 biscuit at a time on waffle maker. Close lid of waffle maker; cook about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Fold each warm waffle into taco shape; fill each waffle taco with 1 sausage patty and scrambled eggs. Wrap the waffle tacos in foil for an on-the-go breakfast. Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 360 calories (57 percent from fat), 22.0 g fat (7.0 g saturated, 6.3 g monounsaturated), 128 mg cholesterol, 12.6 g protein, 25.0 g carbohydrate, 0.5 g fiber, 973 mg sodium.

Source: Pillsbury Kitchens


Andalusia Bakery Bread Pudding

1 quart milk (you also may use skim milk with good results)

13/4 cups sugar, or to taste

Pinch of salt

2-inch strip of lemon peel

12 ounces stale, good-quality bread, crusts removed (about 4 cups cubes)

4 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 ounces (about 1 cup) raisins

Mix milk, sugar, salt and lemon peel in a saucepan. Heat to almost boiling (sugar should be dissolved). Let mixture cool 1 hour in refrigerator. Remove and discard lemon peel.

Add bread and let it soak 30 minutes. Add eggs to mixture and stir well — you cannot over mix at this point so don't be afraid to give the bread a two-handed workout. Stir in vanilla and raisins.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Thoroughly butter a 9-by-13-inch pan or 2-quart casserole. Place bread mixture in pan, and place it in a rimmed cookie sheet or large roasting pan. Pour 1 or 2 cups hot water into the larger pan. The pudding will bake in this water bath, much like a French custard.

Bake about 1 hour, until center is firm to the touch, adding water to the bath if necessary. Makes 24 servings.

Per serving: 128 calories (16 percent from fat), 2.4 g fat (1.1 g saturated, 0.7 g monounsaturated), 39.3 mg cholesterol, 3 g protein, 24.5 g carbohydrates, 0.5 g fiber, 68.4 mg sodium.

Source: Linda Cicero Cook’s Corner archives

The Italian-American Cook, featuring Steve Martorano preparing the classic South Philly dishes that were part of his childhood and inspired his restaurants — is online now for its second season at Martorano demonstrates recipes in short (less than 10-minute) episodes that are entertaining and full of tips and bits of Italian-American culture. For example, in the recipe here from episode two, he tells us macaroni should be the star of a plate, but too many Americans use too much sauce. The episodes were shot at Martorano’s Italian American Kitchen at the Hard Rock Casino in Fort Lauderdale; new episodes air every week through April 21, featuring grilled sausage with summer salad, eggplant stack, stuffed mozzarella with broccoli rabe, linguini puttanesca, chicken Sicilian and veal picatta and rigatoni with Sunday pork gravy.

Reader request

Q: I am hoping you still have the recipe for bread pudding made by the former Andalusia Bakery in Coral Gables. I inadvertently lost all my recipes in a move from South Florida.

C. Rose

A: The recipe is a classic, often requested, from the late Jess Quesada, who shared it with me more than 30 years ago. The whisper of lemon and the abundance of raisins make this a taste to remember. Some will want to add cinnamon or nutmeg.

Waffle biscuits

Just had to pass along this great trick for a quick and portable breakfast: Cook refrigerated biscuits in a waffle iron to make a sturdy hot and portable sandwich for breakfast (as in the recipe here), for lunch (what a great way to lift that tuna sandwich to a different place) or even dessert (add some softened ice cream or yogurt and fresh fruit). It only takes 2 minutes to make the waffle portion, so if you are in a hurry use deli ham and cheese, cream cheese and smoked salmon — the possibilities are endless. I replaced the pork sausages in the recipe here with frozen vegetarian ones to ease the calories and cholesterol. (Another plus is the minute cooking time in the microwave). You can substitute egg whites for the whole eggs.

Send questions and responses to or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172. Replies cannot be guaranteed.

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