Old-style Italian made quick and easy

La Fontanella's Veal Piccata

Rose and Lou enjoy veal occasionally. This recipe is from La Fontanella Restaurant at 40th Street and Indian School Road in Phoenix.

1-3/4 to 2 pounds veal top sirloin or thin cutlets

Salt and pepper to taste

1 large freezer bag

4 to 8 tablespoons butter, cut into pats

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2/3 cup light dry sherry or white wine

2/3 to 1-1/2 cups clear broth (veal or chicken stock)

3 lemons (2-1/2 juiced plus 4 slices for garnish)

Capers

If using thick slices of veal top sirloin, slice into 1/4-inch medallions. Cut open a freezer bag, leaving one side attached (to be used for pounding). Insert a medallion in between and pound with a mallet until 1/8-inch thick. (Thin cutlets don't need to be pounded.) Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a 12-inch sauce pan with 2 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup vegetable oil. While heating the pan, lightly coat the veal slices with flour and place on a plate next to the sauté pan. Have the wine and broth measured and nearby. You will need to work very quickly with the veal and the sauce. Make sure you will have no interruptions for 5 to 7 minutes. That's all it takes.

Place each slice quickly in the pan, making sure each piece is flat and not overlapping. Turn the veal when halfway beige, with some pink color. Remove onto a plate. Add more butter and heat if necessary. Add the remaining veal. When you turn the last piece of veal, add the wine all at once and shake the pan — it will flame, then evaporate quickly. Add half the broth and all the lemon juice (to taste), and shake and stir until the sauce just glazes the veal. Add cooked veal back to pan. Adjust with remaining broth and/or lemon juice to taste. Add the remaining pats of butter as you wish. Garnish with capers and lemon slices. Makes 4 servings.

Serve with risotto, pasta or white rice seasoned with parsley, salt and pepper. As a substitute for her homemade risotto, Rose sometimes uses Knorr brand packaged risotto mix for a quick and easy dinner.

Rose's Lentil Soup

Rose was raised on this soup and it remains a favorite easy meal.

1 pound lentils, washed and drained

1 large onion, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Garlic powder

Fresh basil and parsley, chopped

4 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 can (16-ounce) crushed or stewed Italian tomatoes (pureed in blender)

Put all ingredients in an 8-quart pan and add water until pan is 3/4 full. Cook uncovered for 2 hours, until water decreases to 1/2 full. Cook ditalini (small) pasta or rice and mix with lentil soup. Serve with Italian bread.

Italian Cheese Cake

Rose's sister gave her this recipe many years ago and she likes the combination of cream cheese and ricotta. She usually doesnít top it with anything but suggests that a mixture of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries would be great (either fresh or frozen).

1 pound cream cheese (Philadelphia brand)

1 pound ricotta (Gardenia or Precious brand)

1-1/2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons flour

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 pound melted butter or margarine, cooled

1 pint sour cream (Shamrock, Knudsen or Daisy brand)

Eggs and cheese should be at room temperature. With a mixer, cream both cheeses together. Add sugar and beat well. Add eggs, one at a time, and continue beating. Add lemon juice, vanilla, flour and cornstarch and beat well. Add butter and beat until smooth.

Blend in sour cream and pour into a 10-inch spring-form pan. Bake 1-1/2 hours at 325 degrees. Turn oven off and let cake cool in oven for 3 to 4 hours.

Biscotti con Nocciole (Cookies with Almonds)

Rose clipped this recipe from Attenzione magazine, which was published in Italy years ago. It's a traditional cookie recipe that she always makes for the holidays.

6 ounces toasted and chopped almonds

1 stick softened butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar together; beat in eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Add these gradually to egg mixture; then add nuts and mix well. Form dough into two rolls about 16 inches long each. Place on cookie sheet and slightly flatten rolls. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and slice diagonally; return to oven until firm and golden.

These will keep well, two weeks or longer, when stored well-sealed and taste better as they age a little.

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