First-time cookbook author Linda Bechtel recently held a book signing and cooking demo event at Surfas Culinary District, which is this awesome restaurant supply store. If you are a foodie, chef or home cook, you would surely be in heaven at Surfas. Every week, they have cooking demonstrations. I attended Linda Bechtel’s session where she demonstrated how to make a basic meat sauce and her family’s special meatballs.
Linda is a California native and interior designer by trade. And with this book, “My Sicilian Kitchen,” she has combined her passion for Sicilian food, the world of design and her desire to give back. She is the youngest daughter of Angelo and Margherita Bilo, both Italian immigrants born in Palermo, Sicily. Linda’s interest in cooking and design was cultivated at a young age as she watched her parents create authentic Sicilian recipes from simple, fresh ingredients.
She worked closely with her late father Angelo to carefully translate the handwritten, Italian recipes of the Bilo family.
Published by The Press Group, “My Sicilian Kitchen” is available for purchase via mysiciliankitchen.com, Amazon and Ebay, with a list price of $29.95.
Here is a recipe from “My Sicilian Kitchen:”
MAMA BILO’s Italian Meat SauceServes 8 bowl servings
1 large yellow onion, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 28 oz cans tomato sauce
1 28 oz can tomato puree
1 6 oz can tomato paste
6 large sweet basil leaves, minced
1 small bunch fresh Italian parsley, minced
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt, plus extra for meat and pasta water
1 tsp black ground pepper, plus extra for meat
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
3 Sugar or Equal packets
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup dry red wine
1 lb ground pork, browned with salt and pepper to taste, drained and set aside
1 package mild Italian sausage (5-6) punctured
2 lbs lean ground beef, browned with salt and pepper to taste, drained and set aside
Water (you will be adding approximately 34-oz water along the way during the cooking process; this is an important step.
1 lb dried pasta
Grated parmesan cheese for topping or dollop of mascarpone cheese (optional)
Prepare large stock pot or Dutch oven with olive oil.
Add onion and garlic, saute until transparent, approx. 5 mins. (do not brown).
Add the cooked meat, and sausage.
Add tomato sauce, paste, puree, wine and water.
Add the basil and minced parsley.
Add Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, sugar and baking soda.
Bring to a boil, then cover pot. Lower stove top to low heat.
Continue cooking for additional 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
Do not let sauce settle to the bottom and burn.
When sauce is ready, in a separate stock pot cook pasta in boiling water al dente (approx. 7-10 mins per cooking directions).
Don’t forget to add salt to the water.
Drain well and bring noodles back to the pot, add 2 full ladles of sauce and mix well into the noodles.
Sprinkle with cheese or dollop of mascarpone (optional).
Recipe courtesy of Linda Bilo- Brechtel, “My Sicilian Kitchen.”