Tag Archives: Fante’s Italian Cooking Tools

Homemade Spaghetti Noodles Using Fante’s Cousin Arturo’s Pasta Pin

Contributed by Liana, of the Fante family of Philadelphia.

Fante's Cousin Arturo’s Pasta Pin in Use

Fante’s Cousin Arturo’s Pasta Pin in Use

Growing up, we made homemade spaghetti a couple of times a week with a pasta machine. In fact, my nonna had her machine set up on a table in her basement 24/7. That was her permanent pasta making station. After we were done rolling out and cutting the spaghetti, we brushed off the machine with a pastry brush and covered it with a homemade tea cozy until the next Sunday. Imagine that I thought we were totally normal! Doesn’t everyone have a pasta machine on its own altar in the basement? Apparently, not. But good news! You don’t need a pasta machine to make delicious homemade spaghetti.

Fante's Cousin Arturo’s Pasta Pin in Use

Fante’s Cousin Arturo’s Pasta Pin in Use

I’ve talked about our epic Sunday dinners before. Nonna’s favorite pasta, which she called “lasagna,” (but it wasn’t the layered cheese and sauce filled baked casserole we all think of with that name) was simple peasant pasta. We rolled out the sheets of dough, cut them down the center lengthwise, and then cut the pasta every two inches on a diagonal to make rough parallelograms. We boiled it in salted water and served it with fresh gravy, nothing fancy. It saved having to cut the fettuccine or spaghetti on the machine.

My mom talks about her nonna (my great-grandmother) making homemade spaghetti before pasta machines and chitarras (a stringed piece of equipment reminiscent of a guitar that you would press dough through the strings to cut). She rolled out the pasta dough with the handle of an old broom (her makeshift rolling pin) into a rectangular shape the width of the table. Then, she cut the dough into segments the length of spaghetti strands she wanted. Rolling up the segmented dough as though she were making a pinwheel dessert, she expertly sliced thin cross sections of dough with a sharp knife. If she were doing this to herbs it would be fancily called a “chiffonade.” Each cut made a single strand of spaghetti. Talk about a lot of work! (That’s why the peasant lasagna was so popular when making homemade pasta without a machine.) To ease cutting spaghetti without a machine, a clever craftsman created wooden rolling pins with grooves sharp enough to cut through dough for instant strands of spaghetti.

Fante's Cousin Arturo’s Pasta Pin in Use

Fante’s Cousin Arturo’s Pasta Pin in Use

Making homemade spaghetti by hand can be a great project for the family. Knead your favorite pasta dough recipe. Roll it out with a flat rolling pin into a rectangular shape about 1/16” thick and cut it to the desired length of your spaghetti with a knife. Make sure you have incorporated enough flour in your dough so that it is not sticky. The proper consistency will make the pasta much easier to cut and separate. Lightly flour the surface of the pasta dough. Apply even pressure on the pasta pin and roll it slowly down the length of your sheet of dough. If your pasta dough contains egg, the pasta pin will deeply score the dough and you will separate the strands by hand. (This is great fun for tiny fingers on the budding chefs in the kitchen!) To make separating strands easier, hold one hand and fingers on the main part of the dough and lightly pull on the single strand with the other hand to separate it from the pack. It goes very quickly once you get the hang of it (or delegate the job). If you make your pasta dough without egg, the spaghetti strands should separate easily just by rolling the pin across the dough. Cook and enjoy as you would your normal homemade spaghetti!

Fante’s Cousin Arturo’s Pasta Pin can be purchased from Fante’s Kitchenware Shop in Philadelphia, and on their website.

Find out how to place a wholesale order for any products from the Fante’s line, from Harold Import Co.

Making Pizza With Fante’s Cousin Serafina’s Micro-Textured Pizza Pan

Contributed by Liana, of the Fante family of Philadelphia.

Fante’s Cousin Serafina’s Micro-Textured Pizza Pan

Fante’s Cousin Serafina’s Micro-Textured Pizza Pan

At our family gatherings, we always provide a spread of way too much food. After all, that is the Italian way. Don’t get me wrong, we eat a ton of it, but after everyone goes home, I am left with pounds of antipasto and a huge clean up from the meal.

Leftover Antipasto, the Perfect Pizza Topping

Leftover Antipasto, the Perfect Pizza Topping

Unfortunately for me, my family loves prosciutto as much as I do so my leftovers consist of a lot of roasted vegetables and mozzarella! The next day, I am in no mood to cook and clean up after another complicated meal. My solution? Pizza night!

I don’t know about your family, but my family loves pizza! It is delicious and convenient as well as incredibly easy to make. I always have sauce in the freezer, and if not, it is simple enough to whip up a quick marinara (or doctor a jar of sauce to make it your own!). I waver between making my own pizza dough and walking down the block to buy some from my local pizza shop for a couple of dollars. On days after a large gathering, you can bet I am buying the dough!

I take home my dough and make sure that it is at room temperature. I like to roll my dough out right in the pizza pan. I flour the pan and use my hands or a Pizza Ball (a great little gadget!) to press and stretch the dough. Once I work the dough into shape and bulk up the edges of the crust, I add sauce, tons of mozzarella cheese and my toppings of choice.

Uncooked Pizza with Antipasto Toppings

Uncooked Pizza with Antipasto Toppings

I love the Fante’s Cousin Serafina’s Micro-Textured Pizza Pan for its depth, because I can tailor exactly how thick or thin I like my crust to be, and pile on the toppings (especially convenient when I have leftover roasted peppers and eggplant to eat).

Fante’s Cousin Serafina’s Micro-Textured Pizza Pan, Close up View of the Pan Surface

Fante’s Cousin Serafina’s Micro-Textured Pizza Pan, Close up View of the Pan Surface

The pan has a textured stainless steel surface which provides a naturally stick resistance surface without the worry of any nonstick coatings. And because it is stainless steel, when dinner is over I can just throw it in the dishwasher and relax with the rest of my wine! Easy as a pizza pie.

Cooked Pizza with Antipasto Toppings

Cooked Pizza with Antipasto Toppings

Fante’s Cousin Serafina’s Micro-Textured Pizza Pan can be purchased from Fante’s Kitchenware Shop in Philadelphia, and on their website.

Find out how to place a wholesale order for any products from the Fante’s line, from Harold Import Co.

Nonna’s Secret to Perfect Gnocchi Every Time – A Traditional Italian Recipe from the Fante Family of Philadelphia

Contributed by Liana, of the Fante family of Philadelphia.

I love gnocchi. Okay, full disclosure: I am obsessed with gnocchi. If gnocchi is on the menu, I will be ordering it. I love any excuse to make it for my friends and family. (Who am I kidding? I make them for me and force myself to share.) My obsession is so infamous that the gnocchi board in our Fante’s line is named after me.

Thinking about making gnocchi with Nonna always makes me smile. Gravy would be bubbling on the stove because Nonna believed that gnocchi deserved fresh gravy. All of us cousins would pile around her kitchen table after church Sunday morning to roll out the dough into long, thin ropes. She would always cut the pieces (lest we be trusted with sharp objects), and then we would all roll our share on the gnocchi boards (she kept four of them in the house so we wouldn’t have to take turns and fight – hence not letting us use sharp objects!). We all had our own quirky method, each with its own distinctive look. As we ate the gnocchi that afternoon the conversation would be peppered with interruptions of, “I got Sandro’s” or “this one must be Elisa’s” and the like.

Cousin Liana's Gnocchi Board from the Fante's Collection of Italian Cookware Made by Harold Import Co.

Cousin Liana’s Gnocchi Board from the Fante’s Collection of Italian Cookware Made by Harold Import Co.

Here is Nonna’s secret and some tips and recipes that she passed on to make your own gnocchi attempts a success!

THE SECRET: Everyone thinks I am crazy, but my Nonna (born and raised on a farm in northern Italy) used instant mashed potatoes to make her gnocchi. Shocking, I know. Guess what? She experimented for years, and ultimately settled on instant because they helped her to control the recipe. The amount of starch and water in each potato varies, so a gnocchi recipe is constantly changing based on that. As you may know from making pasta, the humidity changes make a difference in the amount of flour required as well. With all of these variables, achieving the perfect gnocchi is a tough task! Also, by using instant potatoes, you can make an incredibly dry potato mixture (using butter and milk), further reducing the amount of flour you need to use. The result? Gnocchi with intense potato flavor and a light, airy texture that melts in your mouth.

THE PRO TIP: Nonna never made gnocchi in the summer or when it was raining. I learned the hard way that it was because humidity wreaks havoc on gnocchi. I made them on a hot and humid July day for a party I was throwing, assuming I could simply adjust the flour as needed for a successful batch. It was truly a disaster. I had to run out and buy an extra 5 pounds of flour (which we used all of) to get the proper texture, and ended up with incredibly dense gnocchi. Nonna, I now understand why we had to wait until summer was over  to have gnocchi, and I’m sorry for bothering you so much about it!

To all you purists out there, more power to you! I’ve included both her recipes below. Have fun with them! There are so many wonderful gnocchi variations, that once you have the basics down you can get creative.

Nonna’s Perfect Gnocchi
Serves 4

1 Cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter
1 ½ Cups Instant Potato Flakes
2 eggs
¾ Cup All-Purpose flour + more for sprinkling

In a small saucepan, melt the butter in the milk over low heat. Once the butter is melted, add the potato flakes while stirring. The result should be a very dry potato mixture that has a crumbly texture. Set aside to cool.

Once the potato mixture is cool enough to touch, combine the eggs, flour and potatoes. Knead until the dough is a homogenous color and texture. If the dough is too sticky, add a small amount of flour and knead together. Be careful not to add to much flour!

Making Gnocchi

Making Gnocchi

Once the dough is formed, divide it into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into long ropes about 3/4 inches thick. Cut them into ¾ inch “dumplings,” dusting with flour as your go. Prepare your gnocchi board by sprinkling a little flour on it. Roll one at a time using your gnocchi board, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking. To roll, simply press the side of your thumb into your “dumpling” creating a divet and use even pressure to push down. The result will be a half moon curl with ridges on the outside and a small pocket in the center.

Boil at least a 3 quart pot of water and salt to taste. Add 1/3 of the gnocchi to the boiling water, give a quick stir, and cover with the lid. When the water comes back to a boil (1-2 minutes) your gnocchi will be cooked perfectly. Skim them off the top of the water with a spider and then add your favorite sauce immediately. Repeat twice with the rest of the gnocchi. Enjoy!

 

Nonna’s Potato Gnocchi
Serves 6-7

5 Idaho Potatoes
2 Eggs
2 Tablespoons Butter (or Oil)
Pinch of Salt
All-Purpose Flour

Boil potatoes in water, then skin them and rice them into a pile while still hot. Make a similar, or slightly smaller, sized pile of sifted flour. Mix the riced potatoes and flour with the eggs and butter. Mix only until a paste is formed, but not too long, or the mixture will become too soft.

Cousin Liana's Gnocchi Board from the Fante's Signature Line of Italian Cookware from Harold Import Co.

Cousin Liana’s Gnocchi Board from the Fante’s Signature Line of Italian Cookware from Harold Import Co.

Roll the dough into strips 1/2” to 3/4” in diameter, and cut them into 1” lengths. Roll Gnocchi on your gnocchi board, to create indentations that will permit better and quicker cooking.

Put Gnocchi into salted boiling water one at a time, to prevent their sticking together. Cook 5 to 10 minutes, according to desired taste. Serve with tomato or meat sauce.

Homemade Cavatelli from The Ranting Chef

Fante's Cousin Elisa's Cavatelli Maker

Fante’s Cousin Elisa’s Cavatelli Maker

Heard the Rantings of an Amateur Chef? This is the blog of Pat Geyer, who embarks on frequent culinary adventures, kindly sharing his lessons and excitement with lucky fans. We wanted to share his recent homemade cavatelli quest with you here at The Useful Tool. Pat put our Fante’s Cousin Elisa’s Cavatelli Maker to the test (made in partnership with the Fante family of Philadelphia) teaching readers how to turn out beautiful shell-shaped cavatelli pasta noodles. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to make homemade cavatelli, Pat has you covered.

Aunt Gina’s Lasagna – A Traditional Italian Recipe from the Fante Family of Philadelphia

Fante Family

Fante Family

Sunday Dinners: The Special Occasions. Contributed by The Fante family.

Since I was a little girl, Sundays were reserved for family.  Both my parents’ businesses – Fante’s (a kitchen wares shop) and Esposito’s (a butcher shop) in the Italian Market of Philadelphia both closed by 2PM in order to have mid-afternoon Sunday dinner.  Along with my sister and 3 cousins, we would spend the whole day at our Nonni’s (grandparents’) home:  going to church, helping cook dinner and playing together. My Nonna would wake up at the crack of dawn to chop all the vegetables for the gravy and start it simmering with the tomatoes which she would put through a food mill to create a uniform sauce.  She would then make the meatballs and sausage, fry them, and add them to the sauce, which would be simmering on low heat by the time my sister and I woke up and made it downstairs for our traditional chocolate chip pancake breakfast (we were totally spoiled).

Filled to the brim with pancakes, we would help her to make the pasta dough and leave it to rest, covered, while we went to church.  When we returned, we would continue to cook the sauce, allowing it to simmer while we rolled out the dough on the manual pasta maker.  All of the cousins took turns working the crank and catching the pasta – it was always at least a 2-cousin job.

Normal Sunday dinners meant fresh meatballs, sausage and gravy served with homemade pasta of some kind.  For special occasions like birthdays and holidays, we would do trays of lasagna. Nonna would supervise all of the extra tasks for making the lasagna, the most important being the fresh grated cheese.  We love cheese!  And did I mention our Sunday dinners included an epic amount of food?  Every week about 12 family members would join us around a table meant for 6, filled with enough food to comfortably feed 30.  These large trays of lasagna require a lot of cheese.  The older cousins were responsible to grate about a pound of parmesan and shred about 2 pounds of mozzarella.  We all proudly sported some scarred knuckles from the rasp we used [that we swear] she had brought with her from Italy.  It was torture.  She eventually replaced it with a large rotary grater which made the job so much easier!   It handled the volume, and it was simple to swap the drums for each cheese.  We could also all take turns since it didn’t require as much elbow grease or Band-Aids. We are so excited to have a new cousin (#6) – Nico!  We can’t wait for the day we can enlist his help to use the grater named after him to make some Sunday dinner lasagna. Here is the recipe for a smaller-portion of our lasagna.  We typically make it with just sauce and cheese. You can certainly substitute bought lasagna for the pasta portions and add meat to customize it to your family’s tastes.  You can also find many of our family recipes (as well as embarrassing family photos) included with the Fante’s line of products.  Buon appetito!

Aunt Gina of the Fante Family

Aunt Gina of the Fante Family

Aunt Gina’s Lasagna

Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 lb. homemade lasagna strips
1 lb. ground meat (beef, pork or mixture)
4 cups salsa marinara (recipe, scroll down)
16 oz. mozzarella, shredded
16 oz. grated cheese (parmigiano and pecorino)

1. Brown ground meat in a fry pan then drain off the fat. Place salsa marinara in a sauce pan, stir in browned meat and heat gently over a medium flame until it’s hot. Stir occasionally to keep it from sticking.

2. Meanwhile, roll pasta dough (scroll down for recipe) to desired thickness and cut into 2 ½” wide strips (Try Cousin Daniele’s Expandable Dough Cutter. Available at Fante’s)

Fante's Cousin Daniele's Expandable Dough Cutter

Fante’s Cousin Daniele’s Expandable Dough Cutter

3. Spoon hot meat sauce into the bottom of a 11” x 15” baking dish.

4. Place a single layer of lasagna strips into the baking dish, lengthwise. Layer with grated cheese (try Fante’s Papa Francesco’s Rotary Cheese Grater or Fante’s Cousin Nico’s Suction Base Cheese Grater, available at Fante’s)  and mozzarella then top with meat sauce. Repeat these steps for the second layer but place lasagna strips widthwise. Alternating the direction of the pasta strips will keep your lasagna from falling apart when it’s cut.

Fante's Cousin Nico's Suction Base Cheese Grater

Fante’s Cousin Nico’s Suction Base Cheese Grater

5. Repeat step 5 to make as many layers as you like. Finish by spooning more sauce on top and sprinkle with grated cheese. 6. Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes or until sauce and cheese are bubbling. Remove lasagna from the oven and let rest for 30 minutes before serving.

Grandma Nadia of the Fante Family

Grandma Nadia of the Fante Family

Grandma Nadia’s Pasta Dough

Makes 2 pounds of dough
2 eggs, at room temperature
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 to 8 ounces tepid water, as needed

1. Place flour on a wooden board, make a well and break the eggs into it.

2. If you prefer, you can mix it in a bowl with a fork or in an electric mixer with a dough hook.

Pasta Dough Step 1

Pasta Dough Step 1

NadiasPastaDoughStep2

Nadias Pasta Dough Step 2

3. Slowly incorporate the flour into the eggs. There should be just enough moisture so the ingredients stick together to form a smooth, elastic ball but not enough to stick to the table or bowl.

Pasta Dough Step 3

Pasta Dough Step 3

Nadias Pasta Dough Step 4

Pasta Dough Step 4

4. You may need to add a bit of water if the dough is too dry and crumbly, or a bit more flour if too wet and sticky.

5. Cover the dough with a clean towel and let it set for about 30 minutes.

6. Use a sharp knife to cut off a chunk from the ball (photo 4).

7. Flatten the chunk of dough with the heal of your hand then roll it out to the desired thickness with a floured rolling pin.

8. Proceed with Step 2 of Aunt Gina’s lasagna recipe instructions, above.

Attilio of the Fante Family

Attilio of the Fante Family

Attilio’s and Mariella’s Salsa Marinara – Marinara Sauce

Makes 1 quart (4 to 6 servings)
36-oz. can crushed tomatoes
5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped (Try Fante’s Uncle Cristian’s Garlic Slicer and Grater, available at Fante’s)

Fante's Uncle Cristians Garlic Slicer and Grater

Fante’s Uncle Cristians Garlic Slicer and Grater

¼ onion, coarsely chopped
Olive oil Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste

1. Sauté garlic, onion and red pepper in olive oil. Remove them from the oil before they brown.

2. Add tomatoes.

3. Simmer for about 40 minutes.

4. After 15 minutes add salt and pepper to taste.

5. After another 30 minutes, check sauce for consistency; if too watery, leave lid off to reduce.

6. Stir often to avoid sticking, especially if the pot you’re using does not have a heavy bottom.

Buon appetito!