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My Favorite Time of Year
 
November 2007
Lynne's Letter What's Cooking?

Fall is my favorite time of year. There’s a chill in the air, the leaves are turning colors, and the holidays are fast approaching. It’s the perfect time for My Nonni’s traditional meat raviolis and meat sauce. A hearty bowl of pasta and meat sauce will definitely satisfy appetites invigorated by the cold weather. It could be a casual Sunday night family dinner after the football games, or entertaining friends, or a fast and easy weeknight dinner. My Nonni’s raviolis and sauce will be perfect for cooking and sharing with the people you love. Sitting down to a meal with family and friends is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Dining together encourages a sense of connection, creating time in our busy lives to savor delicious food and good conversation.

The last six months have been busy and exciting. My Nonni’s can now be found in over 170 stores throughout northern California. I have participated in several food and wine events and my mother and I continue to enjoy our in-store demos. It warms my heart to hear stories from different people on how they love my raviolis and sauce or how they have spread the good news and food to family and friends. I love to hear how ‘homemade’ they taste or how they have dazzled family and friends with their new ‘gourmet’ find. You can read some of these stories in the ‘Ravioli Rave’s’ column below. I’ve heard from people how they have loaded coolers with raviolis and sauce for their college- bound kids in apartments, or how some raviolis, sauce, wine and bread make the perfect gift basket for new moms, to welcome new neighbors, or to take to the sick or elderly.

In this edition we've included some great tips on cooking the perfect pasta, as well as a delicious recipe for ricotta gnocchi – both pair so well with our sauce you’ll be hooked. Thanks again so much for your wonderful support and buon appetito!

Dalla Toscana con amore,

Lynne Rosaia

Lynne Rosaia

Ravioli Raves

“Yeah!! I just saw My Nonni’s raviolis and sauce at the Andronico’s in Los Altos. I got so excited that I whooped and hollered.” —Sharon S., Los Altos Hills

“Oh my God, thank you…My father-in-law came from Lucca to San Francisco in the early 1920’s. He had his own Italian restaurant at the produce market. He started teaching me to cook when I married his son in 1968. I made 4 ‘gallons’ of his ‘sugo’ yesterday. Out of curiosity, I purchased your raviolis and sauce to test for similarity. I could not believe it. Both the sauce and the raviolis are identical. I have not ground up my left over beef, pork and veal in several years to make raviolis because everyone I know expected me to feed them. Now, I can refer all of them, with great satisfaction, to your products. Even your recipe for antipasto is identical. I cannot thank you enough. Tonight I am going to test your raviolis and sauce on my fussy Toscano husband. I do not think that he will know the difference between mine and yours.” —Diane C., Belmont

“Thank you My Nonni’s. Your raviolis and sauce have been a godsend to me. I stock up my freezer with bags of raviolis and boxes of sauce for my two teenage sons. They come home at all hours and cook themselves a plate of raviolis in minutes. I’ve also made your polenta lasagna with the meat sauce, and it has been a hit every time I cook it and everyone loves it.” —Terry G., San Bruno

“My grandchildren and I had My Nonni’s raviolis and meat sauce for dinner tonight. It was delicious!!! What a great product. I’m sure you have made ‘your Nonni’ proud. Good luck.” —Carol R., Santa Rosa

For more Ravioli Raves, visit our website at www.mynonnis.com/raves.asp.

My Nonni's Now in Over 170 Stores
My Nonni’s is now in 115 Raley’s /Bel Air/ Nob Hill stores throughout northern California. Lynne and her mom will be doing a demo at the Grand Opening of their Roseville store on Nov. 14th. Look at www.mynonnis.com for store locations and future store events and demos.

My Nonni's Packaging Wins American Graphic Design Award
Congratulations to the ‘The Engine Room’, an award-winning design firm in San Francisco, which recently received the prestigious American Graphic Design Awards for frozen food packaging for My Nonni’s Italian Foods. I work with Mike Cotsifas, co-founder and creative director, on all the packaging and marketing materials, and I think he is one of the best designers out there. The Engine Room won seven awards for their designs among over 10,000 entries.

My Nonni's Charities
My Nonni’s is pleased to have participated in several charities this past year, either through product donations or serving our products on-site. Organizations include: Mercy High School in Burlingame, the Police Athletic League in Redwood City, University High School in SF, Cal-Poly Alumni Association, the Peninsula Symphony organization, the Slow Food ‘Golden Glass’ event, and the Woodside School foundation.

Food and Wine Pairing Dinners
My Nonni’s had the pleasure of participating in a wine and food pairing event at Zanotto’s of Santa Clara. My Nonni’s raviolis and sauce were paired with Cinnabar Vineyards Paso Robles Merlot. To view the complete wine and food menu showcasing Cinnabar Vineyards, go to www.mynonnis.com/new.asp

Pedroncelli Winery of Healdsburg will be serving My Nonni’s meat raviolis and meat sauce at the annual Wine and Food Affair on Nov. 3rd and 4th. This two day event pairs foods with wines from the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys. Pedroncelli’s will pair My Nonni’s raviolis and sauce with their Sangiovese and their Gold Medal winning Pedroncelli Port.

Pasta Cooking Tips

One of the great things about My Nonni’s Meat Sauce is that it goes so well with simple, longand pasta – so flavorful and so quick to prepare. Following are Lynne’s tips on making the perfect batch:

  1. Always cook pasta in a big-enough pot; one that is tall and deep rather than wide and shallow is best for long strands.
  2. Use a generous amount of water; the pasta should be able to swim freely in the pot.
  3. Salt the water with a good handful of kosher or sea salt; this is really your only chance to season the pasta itself (and not just the sauce), and salt brings out the flavor of any pasta (NOTE: My Nonni’s raviolis do not need to have salt added to the water, the raviolis have been slightly cooked, then flash frozen, so the salt has already been added).
  4. Never rinse cooked pasta; the starch on the surface contributes flavor and helps the sauce adhere. The only exception to this rule is pasta for cold salads, which will be too sticky and gummy when the noodles cool unless some of the surface starch is rinsed off.
  5. Always reserve a quarter cup or so of the pasta cooking water to add to the sauce. This both loosens the sauce so it can coat the pasta and contributes starch that helps it cling better.
  6. Don’t add olive oil to the pasta cooking water. It is an old wives’ tale that this will keep it from sticking as it cooks; pasta clumps together when it is not cooked in sufficient water. Save your olive oil for salad dressing.
  7. Don’t coat drained pasta with olive oil to keep it from sticking; this will prevent the sauce from clinging to the pasta, causing it to end up in a pool at the bottom of your serving dish.
  8. Cook the pasta just to al dente and no longer; start testing it a minute or two before the time indicated on the package to make sure it doesn’t overcook. The pasta should still offer definite resistance when you bite it but not be pasty white or hard inside.
  9. Remember that your pasta will continue to cook when you add it to the hot sauce and toss them together, so don’t leave it in the pan any longer than necessary to marry the sauce and pasta together and warm them both through.
  10. Lastly, keep portion sizes reasonable. A cup of cooked pasta is plenty for a first course or appetizer serving. For My Nonni’s raviolis, three to four raviolis are fine for a side course and around eight for a main course with salad. I have seen boys and men eat a whole bag of 16-18 by themselves.

To learn more Italian cooking tips visit our website at www.mynonnis.com/tips.asp.

Recipe

My Nonni's Ricotta Gnocchi

This hearty dish is a wonderful first course for a special fall dinner or a terrific main course paired with a crisp salad and your favorite glass of Italian vino . . .

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 ½ pounds fresh ricotta cheese or 3 cups packaged whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 large eggs
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
½ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, or as needed, plus more for forming the gnocchi
24 ounces of My Nonni’s Italian Meat Sauce (2 pouches)
Parmesan cheese for garnish

Cooking Instructions:

  • Place the ricotta in a fine sieve over a bowl. Cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. Discard liquid in the bottom of the bowl.
  • Bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil in large pot over high heat.
  • In a medium-size bowl, pour in the drained ricotta.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and 1 teaspoon salt until foamy.
  • Stir the eggs, cheese, pepper and nutmeg into the ricotta with a wooden spoon until thoroughly blended.
  • Gradually add as much of the flour as necessary to form a soft and sticky dough. Ricotta-gnocchi dough is soft and sticky – work it as little as possible.
  • Divide the dough into six equal pieces.
  • Roll one of the dough pieces out with a back-and-forth movement till you form a rope about 1-inch wide.
    Flour your hands, the work surface, and the dough lightly, as necessary to prevent the dough from sticking.
  • Cut the dough into 1-inch pieces.
  • Use a fork to gently roll the pieces of gnocchi.
  • Place on a baking sheet dusted with flour or with a floured kitchen towel and continue forming gnocchi from the remaining dough.
  • At this point, the gnocchi must be cooked immediately or frozen*.

    *To freeze, place baking sheets in a level position in the freezer. Freeze until solid, about 3 hours. Gather the frozen gnocchi into resealable freezer bags. Frozen gnocchi can be stored in the freezer 4–6 weeks.

  • Pour My Nonni’s Italian Meat Sauce into a large sauté pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce heat to low and keep sauce at a low simmer.
  • Gently slip as many of the gnocchi at a time as will float freely in the pot of boiling water, stirring gently with a wooden spoon as you do.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, until they float to the top and are tender, about 7 minutes.
  • Scoop them out with a wire skimmer and drain, and then add them directly to the meat sauce.
  • Cook remaining gnocchi, if necessary.
  • Stir cooked gnocchis in sauce and heat for about 1 minute and serve hot.
  • Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

To cook frozen gnocchi:

  • Frozen gnocchi must be cooked directly from the freezer.
  • Cook as described above, sauce and serve as mentioned above.

For more Italian recipes, visit our website at www.mynonnis.com/recipes.asp.