Easy Sausage Meatballs

1 lb. Italian sausage (spicy or mild)
1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
1 egg
1/4 cup grated onion
1/4 cup grated parmesan
olive oil (if frying)
1 24-oz. jar spaghetti sauce (if you’re lazy like me) (otherwise make your own sauce)

Squeeze the sausages out of their casings. With your hands, mix together the sausage, breadcrumbs, egg, onion, and parmesan. Form the mixture into 1 to 1.5–inch diameter balls. Sort of toss or throw them between your hands to ensure they’ll stay together while cooking.

Either fry the meatballs up in olive oil over medium heat (2-3 minutes, then roll around and fry the other side) or bake them on a rack over a rimmed pan in the oven for 15–20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Heat the sauce and add the cooked meatballs. Stir gently to combine and let simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with pasta.

Tomato Sauce with Eggplant

Olive oil
1 to 1 1/2 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into roughly 1-cm cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced or put through a garlic press
1/4 cup red wine
1 28-oz. can Trader Joe’s whole peeled plum tomatoes with basil, undrained
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Pinch cumin
Pinch sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Grated parmesan and chopped fresh parsley, to serve

Salt the chopped eggplant liberally and place in a colander. Allow to sit for a half hour, then dry with a paper towel. Set a large saucepan over medium heat and add the oil. When hot, add the eggplant and cook, stirring, until the pieces have softened and taken on some color, 5-7 minutes. Remove from pan.

If the pan is looking dry, add some more oil. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the pieces have turned translucent. Add the garlic and cook for about thirty seconds to a minute, being careful not to burn it. Add the wine and scrape up any fond from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the tomatoes and all the sauce from the can. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes. Return the eggplant to the pan. Add the spices. Simmer for ten minutes or up to an hour or until however long it takes you to get the pasta done (could be no time at all if you timed it well, however, taking a little simmer time to let the flavors meld is always a good idea). Serve atop pasta with parmesan and parsley.


Altered very slightly from a recipe by Tyler Florence

7 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup sweet marsala, plus 2 tablespoons
8 ounces mascarpone, softened to room temperature
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup brewed espresso coffee
1 ounce dark chocolate
1/4 cup brandy
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
48 ladyfingers
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Cream together egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Add 1/3 cup of the marsala and continue to whisk until mixture is thick and doubled in volume. (This is basically a zabaglione.) Remove from heat. Stir in the mascarpone until completely blended.
In a chilled bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture, to lighten.

In a small saucepan, combine espresso, chocolate, brandy, vanilla, and remaining 2 tablespoons marsala. Heat gently, and stir to dissolve the chocolate. Then, chill the mixture to cool it down, about 15 minutes. Quickly dip each ladyfinger in the chilled coffee mixture and arrange in a single layer on a 9 by 13-inch glass baking pan. Do not soak the cookies or they will become too moist. Spread 1/2 the mascarpone cream evenly with a spatula on top of the dipped ladyfingers. Repeat with a second layer of dipped ladyfingers and remaining mascarpone cream. Sprinkle top with cocoa powder. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to two or three days before serving.