Braciole

 Growing up, Sundays around our house had a fairly predictable and comfortable routine.  We weren’t church folk…the combined result of a very mixed religious background and my father’s work schedule. 

Dad worked Monday through Saturday…including many evenings. Sundays truly were his “day of rest.”  As long as you could count visiting with family and catching up on house and garden chores “rest.”  

We’d get up and go through the Sunday papers…even as a kid, I would read at least the comics; get dressed and then head intoTrenton to visit my grandmother. 

We’d pick her up and run around to Palat’s Dairy on the corner of Cooper and Market Streets. 

“And for you,” Mrs. Palat would ask, peering over the counter that was taller than she was. 

Our order was pretty standard:  ¼ pound of lox and a ¼ pound of nova (less salty); some creamed herring and a nice, plump, golden scaled, smoked whitefish. The quantities might increase depending on whom and how many were expected to be at table that morning.

Palat’s was a wonder to me.  The aroma when you walked through the door was like nothing else on earth.  I would love to have the opportunity to breathe deeply of that salty, dusty, garlic air once more.

From there, we’d walk down the street to Kohn’s bakery and then on to Kunis’ to gather the fixings for breakfast. Bagels, “half moons” and some onion rolls from one bakery; maybe a nice loaf of pumpernickel too; then some fruit or cheese Danish and some sticky buns from the next. 

I love lox anyway and how I can get them.  But lox and eggs and a bagel on a Sunday morning; sitting at the table with extended family and friends.   Now that’s heaven on earth. 

¼ pound smoked salmon chopped fine

Melt the butter in a large frying pan and add the onion.  Cook over medium heat until the onion is soft and translucent.  Add the salmon and stir.  Immediately pour the eggs into the pan, stirring to mix everything and evenly.  Reduce heat if necessary and continue to move the eggs around the pan until they are just cooked through but still moist.  Serve family style with good bagels, sweet butter and/or cream cheese.  Serves 4

Responding to the sound of pounding coming from the kitchen, I wandered from what ever it was I had been doing to see what all the noise was about.

At the kitchen table sat my father.  In front of him was a sheet of waxed paper upon which rested a thin slice of red meat.  I watched as he laid another sheet of waxed paper over the meat and proceeded to seemingly indiscriminately flail at it the rubber mallet he used when recovering chairs (a sometimes hobby of his).

I was fascinated and sat down to watch what he was doing.  He placed the nearly translucent piece of what I came to find out was beef on a plate with some others he’d already done and set up to attack a couple more.  I asked what he was doing.

“Making braciole,” was the answer.

Now I can’t remember what the occasion was, but it must have been some kind of special dinner or we were expecting special guests.  Something.

Braciole was not a common accompaniment to our meals and certainly I didn’t remember being around when Dad made them.  Hence my curiosity at the process.

I continued to study my father’s moves.  After pounding out the meat, he seasoned the pieces and then covered each with a filling he’d made up of cooked, crumbled bacon, hard-boiled egg, and breadcrumbs.  Then each piece was rolled up and painstakingly tied with heavy cotton thread.  After browning them in frying pan, the rolls of stuffed meat were plopped into the pot of sauce Mom had going on the stove; left to simmer away until dinner time.

Braciole, for those who don’t know, is the Italian version of rouladen.  Although there are many variations, the basic form is a piece of thinly sliced meat, pounded even thinner, rolled and tied around a savory filling and cooked.  I think the most common…and certainly the norm for the Carluccis…was top round steak.  This would be served along with or in place of the meatballs and sausage that accompanied ravioli or lasagna at a “company” or celebratory meal.

I don’t know if someone showed Dad how to make braciole or if he just figured it out from the experience of eating it.  That afternoon watching him was the only lesson I ever had in making them.  It was years after that I first gave it a try and I haven’t looked back.  It’s still something I reserve for special meals and one of my favorites is to make them to serve with polenta.  I kind of like the “fancy” nature of the braciole as a contrast to the humble presentation of polenta eaten right off of the board.

It’s not a particularly difficult process, just a little time-consuming but it adds a really nice touch to an Italian inspired meal.  The recipe below is based upon what I saw Dad do all those years ago but has evolved a little bit to reflect the ready availability of things like pancetta, pignoli and such.  Enjoy.

Brown off pancetta in a large skillet over medium heat.  Remove meat,reserving rendered fat.  You can set the pancetta on a piece of paper towel to absorb extra grease or just place in a mixing bowl.

In the reserved pork fat, cook the mushrooms over medium heat until tender and they’ve released all of their moisture.  Remove mushrooms from pan, leaving the fat, and add to the mixing bowl.

Toast the pignoli in a clean, dry skillet over medium high heat.  Watch them closely and keep shaking the pan so the nuts don’t burn.  When you can smell the fragrance of the toasting nuts, remove from heat and add to mixture in bowl.

Add the cheese, parsley, chopped egg, garlic, bread crumbs and some fresh ground black pepper.  Mix thoroughly and set aside.

Working between two sheets of plastic wrap or waxed paper, take each slice of top round and pound it to a uniform thickness of approximately 1/8 of an inch. (NOTE: you can use a heavy skillet, pounding disk, or a rubber mallet as I still do.  Just be sure to strike the meat and draw the mallet towards the edges in one motion).  Repeat until each slice has been tenderized and stretched.

Take one of the pounded slices and lay it out on the counter or a cutting board.  Make sure it is flat.  Salt and pepper the top side.  Spread some of the filling mixture over the steak, leaving a small border (1/2 inch or so) all around.

Starting with one of the short ends, tightly roll the steak up, tucking in the sides to enclose the filling.  Using a piece of butcher string, tie the bundle snuggly.  Repeat for each piece of meat.

Once you’ve got all the braciole rolled and tied, reheat the pan with the pancetta drippings in it.  If needed, add a little olive oil to make sure there is enough fat and brown off the braciole on all sides (3 minutes or so a side). Don’t forget the ends! Use a pair of tongs to hold each roll on end for a couple of minutes. 

Once they are completely browned off, add to a simmering pot of your favorite tomato sauce and let cook on low for three hours.  Remove the strings before serving.

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Rand Paul Introduces Five Year Balanced Budget Plan

My new townhall.com article on Rand Paul’s filibuster and Obama’s drones: http://townhall.com/columnists/julieborowski/2013/03/09/rand-paul-highlights-obama-and-john-mccains-horrible-civil-liberties-records-n1529126

Originally posted at FreedomWorks.org.

23 more Republican Senators (edit: now 19!) to go!

Senator Rand Paul recently endorsed Mitt Romney on the Sean Hannity Show on FOX. Does this make him a sell out? Or did he compromise politically to advance liberty?

Originally posted at FreedomWorks.org.

The Senate is expected to vote on four competing budget plans introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) today. Passing an annual budget for the federal government is a fundamental responsibility of Congress. Yet under Harry Reid’s leadership, the Senate has not passed a budget in over three years and no Democrats in the Senate have even offered a budget proposal this year.

All of these proposed budgets would be an improvement from the status quo but Rand Paul’s Platform to Revitalize America shines above the rest. It would repeal ObamaCare, reform the tax code, block grant Medicaid to the states, reform Social Security, and balance the federal budget in just five years without raising taxes.

Most Republicans pay a lot of lip service to cutting spending but their actions rarely live up to their limited government rhetoric. But true fiscal conservatives like Rand Paul actually walk their talk. His budget plan is the only one that will abolish entire departments. The Departments of Education, Energy, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development would be axed under his plan. Poof! These needless bureaucracies would be gone. That’s what I call a real budget plan. This is the strongest budget plan in a generation and all senators serious about reducing the size and scope of government should stand behind Rand Paul’s budget.

The Rand Paul budget would slow up the regulatory state. The American people are forced to comply with thousands and thousands of outrageous new rules and regulations issued by the executive branch annually. The term “major rule” refers to any rule or regulation that has an annual economic impact of $100 million or more. Regulatory agencies issued 100 major rules in 2010 without any input from our elected representatives in Congress. Anyone who remembers the classic School House Rock! video that shows how a bill becomes a law can testify that unelected bureaucrats in the executive branch aren’t supposed to make the laws.

The executive branch has completely disregarded article 1, section 7 of the Constitution, which outlines the process of creating a new law and clearly gives that power to the legislative branch. Rand Paul’s budget would implement the REINS Act which requires congressional approval for all “major rules” proposed by the executive branch. The REINS Act wouldn’t be necessary if the Constitution was strictly followed in Washington, DC. Congressional representatives are the most accountable to the people and must be allowed to stop harmful regulations that will erode individual liberty and crush job growth.

Under the Paul plan, Americans would no longer fear sexual harassment at the airport since the plan would privatize the TSA. Rand Paul knows a little something about how incompetent and abusive the TSA can be. He was detained at the Nashville airport for hours and ended up missing his speech at the March for Life back in January. The TSA picked the wrong guy to mess with. Now the senator is pursuing his mission to abolish the TSA with a vengeance.

As the budget report card complied by Dean Clancy and Daniel Anderson shows, Rand Paul’s plan earns an A+. The plans introduced by Sens. Mike Lee and Toomey earn an A- and B+, respectively. All three plans would balance the federal budget and save trillions of dollars within the next decade. But as FreedomWorks noted in our key vote notice, we do have serious concerns about the health care reform proposal in the Lee Budget and the Medicare provisions in the Toomey and Lee budgets—proposals that trace their roots to the Heritage Foundation plan that provided the template for RomneyCare and ObamaCare.

Why haven’t more Republicans rallied behind Rand Paul’s plan? Only seven senators had the courage to vote for Rand Paul’s almost identical budget plan last year. Do most Republicans senators want to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic? Simply nibbling around the edges of the budget won’t cut it.

Will the real conservative senators please stand up? The time has come to make your actions match your rhetoric.

New video is up.

Watch Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) teach Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner a thing or two about basic economics in the video below. Rand Paul explaining what F.A. Hayek called “the Pretense of Knowledge” is music to my ears. Geithner should take some notes.

Nervo Ivan Gough Feat Beverley Knight Not Taking This No More Official Music Video

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Last October, Cyndi Lauper celebrated 30 years since bursting on to the scene with her debut studio album, the irrepressible pop-crammed classic She’s So Unusual, by hitting the road and performing it in front of her loyal following of fans across the world. (I posted some bits about five of my own personal favourites from the LP at the time, which you can read/listen to here).

Then earlier this week, the The Goonies ‘R Good Enough (!) singer unveiled plans to reissue the record as a deluxe two disc package on 1 April via Sony’s Legacy Recordings division, and you can preorder it here ahead of the collection’s official release on 31 March.

Disc one will feature the album’s original track list as well as a Yolanda Be Cool remix of the smash hit Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and two of heartbreak ballad Time After Time, one by Bent Collective and one by Australian sisters/singer-songwriters/production powerhouse Nervo. You need wait no longer to own the latter as it is already on iTunes now.

Should you be after more than just three new suped-up, dancefloor-ready numbers, there will also be that special edition second disc which includes live performances, original remixes and previously unreleased demos. Thrown in for good measure is Right Train, Wrong Track which served as the B-side to Cyndi’s smash hit Girls Just Wanna… back in 1983.

Check out the full track list for the 30th anniversary reissue, below:

Tracklist: Disc One:

1. Money Changes Everything

Disc 2:

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Nervo have premiered the official music video for their new single online.

Not Taking This No More will be released to digital retailers on 23 September and

Knight was last in the UK singles charts in December as part of The Justice Collective who claimed the coveted Christmas number one slot with their cover of The Hollies’ He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother. Her most recent studio album – and seventh in total – was a carefully selected collection of cover versions called Soul UK which reached #13 on the UK Top 40 album chart in July 2011.

So the club-ready EDM track packed with Balearic rave beats is quite the radical departure for the singer, who has rarely strayed far from the soul foundations that she’s been building her career on, ever since breaking through in the mid-1990s.

On that note, let’s enjoy a classic throwback to Knight’s early days with her 1998 Top 40 hit Made It Back.