Friday, July 8, 2016

Chef Tina Takes You on a Trip Down Italian Memory Lane

Today, I’m going to give a glimpse into my Italian kitchen and how it differs from yours when I prepare baked chicken (an Italian mother staple) and a tossed salad.

First here is a peek into my childhood of numerous cousins who gathered each Sunday in a small town in Western New York for pasta at Grandma’s. Grandma and Grandpa grew grapes for years and sold them to Kraft. So September was grape picking month for all of us. Which explains the grapes mentioned in this preface of the family cookbook I published over thirty years ago.


I'd like you to meet Grandma Mary and Grandpa Leonard who raised nine children. Grandpa spoke little English.

Baked Chicken
1 large boneless chicken breast per person
1 cup buttermilk (regular milk if you must)
1 egg
1 cup Italian bread crumbs (use the good stuff)
Sea salt
Cooking oil of choice. I prefer EVOO.

 Pound chicken breasts until ¼ inch thick using a meat pounder. Tricky aren’t I? Then dip each one in buttermilk and egg mixture, and then in breadcrumbs. Use minimal oil –no more than two or three tablespoons, and hot frying pan. I use a Calphalon pan turned to medium. These pans are the best investment you will ever make. Lightly brown. That’s all. LIGHTLY BROWN AND FLIP.

Sprinkle with sea salt, and put in a covered pan or foil covered pan at 350 degrees for thirty minutes or until 165 degrees. Do not open pan and allow heat to escape until thirty minutes have passed. TRUST ME. This will be so deliciously tender you will send me your first born child as thanks. Don’t do it. I have an empty nest and like it that way.

These are amazing as leftovers the next night, so you may want to double the batch.

 Add a nice salad and you are set. A loaf of Italian bread with the meal is optional.

Italian Antipasta Tossed Salad

Assemble ingredients, add and toss with the dressing  of choice. My mother prefers olive oil and red wine vinegar with salt, pepper and garlic.

Romaine or leafy lettuce
Garbanzo beans
Sliced black olives
Sliced fresh mushrooms
Cheese of choice. Fresh dill Havarti used here, but fresh mozzarella or real shredded Parmesan is nice too.

Sliced hardboiled egg.

Chopped Black Forest Ham
Sliced Pepperoni

The salad is a meal in itself! What do you think? Are you familiar with antipasta salad like this??

The Rosetti Curse

More Italy from Tina Radcliffe.

A romantic comedy of Italian Proportions.....


  1. Happy Friday! Missy will be back to regularly scheduled programming in only two weeks!!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. But you'll still visit, right? We'll miiiiiissssss you.

      I know what antipasto is, but I usually stay away from it because the ones I've seen have suspect things in them (like soppressata). Yours sounds delicious. Want to come back to New York and make it for me?

    3. LOL. Yes. I would actually love to come to New York. And of course I will still visit. I love this place.

  2. Oooh...that salad looks scrumptious. I had to google antipasta 'cause I didn't know what it was. Now I do and this one looks mighty fine! Love your memory list....but seriously, why bees in a bottle? I've heard of lightning bus in a jar but bees in a bottle?

    1. I have no idea why bees in a bottle. I sure didn't do that.

      A true antipasta salad is a platter of food.

  3. First of all, I noticed your thermometer in the chicken picture! My husband will be so proud of you! After 34 years, he has finally convinced me how important it is to cook by temperature instead of time. :)

    And the salad...I've seen antipasta salads before and loved a few of them, but this one has some ingredients I haven't seen together before. It sounds like a marriage made in heaven!

    Your childhood list - what a great memory booster and conversation starter for you and your cousins! My cousins and I did an impromptu one like this a few years ago, starting with the sound of a screen door slapping shut.

    Thanks for the recipes!

    1. My husband got me started on the thermometer. Now I am paranoid without it. Funny how we think food is cooked when it's not.

  4. Tina, I love this walk down memory lane with you! I had a grandma Mary Ella and grandpa Leonard too, how fun is that? they had nine kids too but one lived only a few days. The list of things we have in common just keep growing.

    A lot of things on your memory list are on mine too. The pleasures of childhood seem to be universal in so many ways.

    At first I thought you were going to share the chicken recipe with the mayo and bread crumbs (I love that recipe) but I see this is a variation, I'll have to try this one, I'm sure it's terrific. The salad looks yummy too!

    Confession #1: I rarely use a meat thermometer, I just go by cooking times and visual doneness, and no one's died. Mr. Gadget Guru loves them though, he cooks bigger chunks of meat than me, so I guess that makes sense. He brined a chicken this week then smoked it on the grill, fabulous.

    Confession #2: after 42 yrs of cooking meals and an empty nest, I don't enjoy it as much as I used to, so I look for simple recipes that get me in and out of the kitchen fast. Mr. Gadget Guru likes to experiment, so I'm a willing guinea pig most of the time, lol.

    Where can I get a copy of that 30 yr old family cookbook? I'm willing to add Italian citizenship to get one ;) Is that top secret Italian cookie recipe Ruth wants in it?

    1. Tracy, I love my meat thermometer. My family loves that I use it now. I used to cook everything TO DEATH. Now I can tell when it's done (and it's always done way before I would have considered it done!)

    2. Hi Cate, I have been cooking on the same oven for 28 yrs and have gotten used to the way it cooks. It cooks so hot and fast I have to shave about 25% of the cooking time off of every recipe. I'm very careful of over-cooking because of it. I've thought about replacing it but it's small and I'd have to cut out some of the cabinets to do it and I just don't think it would look right. Oh, the dilemma of dealing with wonky kitchen appliances!

    3. It is a top secret cookbook. I have been working on the second edition. When it comes out I am sure I can be bribed to send out a few copies to non Italians.

    4. A bribe, let's see...I,can offer you a do Oro spatula set and a Hutzler banana slicer, lol

    5. Okay, Tracey, I'm jealous of your oven. We had to replace ours a few years back. My husband did his usual meticulous research, but the one we got was a lemon!

      It constantly cycles down, but the temperature on the readout stays the same, so you think you're cooking at 350, but it's really gone down to 200. Everything takes forever and being watched like crazy. I'm constantly adjusting the temp. Apparently that is a thing with this brand. So much for the meticulous research!

    6. We have replaced heating elements and burners a few times, but the thing just goes on and on, if it died like my phone just did today, I'd have to deal with it. (A trip to Walmart was not in my plans, but it forced me to get the phone I knew I needed to replace) I went from and iphone4 to Samsung galaxy. Still trying to learn my way around, I really don't like learning new tech. stuff, but I have to to keep up, lol!

  5. My husband doesn't know it yet, but he thanks you in advance for the chicken recipe. He's always wanting me to make fried chicken. Um, no. Well, sometimes I say yes, but mostly, no.

    This I will do for him.

    I'm really not being mean. He's not supposed to eat fried foods. He doesn't feel well after them. He doesn't care when he's hungry. Sort of like me and chocolate. ;)

    1. I made this again last night. It is sooooo juicy. I generally cover the baking dish with foil AND the cover to keep the juices in. It is so delish. So not fatty.

    2. I hate the smell of grease in my house. Never deep fry anything.

  6. This looks amazing!! Thanks for opening your family vault of secrets to us!

  7. No, no, no. Italian bread is never optional.

    This is my kind of recipe -- put it in the oven and then leave it alone. Neat idea about using dill Havarti in the salad. Thanks!

    Nancy C

  8. I love Dill Havarti. I could live on it. And bread. Lots of bread.

  9. This sounds beyond wonderful!!! And I promise I will not open the pan. I WILL NOT.

  10. Oh my goodness! I love this! And is it just me, or do you have your grandma's smile?

    I'm not fond of dill so I'll take my Havarti plain, but otherwise, this looks PERFECT.

  11. This looks wonderful, Tina! We sometimes make a big salad that's similar to your antipasta salad when it's too hot to cook, except we've never tried it with garbanzo beans. Must remember to do that. I love your list and have some similar memories (although I admit I had to google Thuringer sandwich). Your grandparents look so sweet. Thank you for sharing!

  12. I haven't had Thuringer in years! Do they still make it? Must go check.