Say “I Love You” — With Food

ROMA Blog 3

Valentine’s Day is almost here, and while the shelves are lined with infinite inspiration for gift ideas, some of us are looking for new ways to tell our loved ones that we care. So, how do we go about making this year’s Day of Hearts memorable and unique, without falling into the same old exhausting annual Valentine’s Day slump?

You’re in luck— there are sneaky little ways to send a message via cuisine (everyone’s favorite thing!), and Roma’s has everything you need in order to do this perfectly. From start to finish, there’s nothing better than a day full of delicious foods lovingly hand-crafted by someone special.

Since Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday this year, you have the luxury of doing things at your own pace, or getting someone else (ahem, kiddos/beau) to spoil YOU. Rather than waking up at the crack of dawn to make red velvet pancakes for your family before a busy weekday, talk your partner into (talking your children into) making you a hearty (no pun intended) V-Day breakfast in bed, instead.

As for dinner, we all know that’s the most exciting part. Roma’s Valentine’s Day Specials are the perfect starting point. Two cold water lobster tails and two 12-14 oz. New York Prime Strip steaks for just $49.95— a surf and turf dish guaranteed to put a smile on anyone’s face. Whether you’re cooking for just the two of you or for the whole family, we recommend broiling the lobster tails and grilling the steaks (here’s how):

Cold Water Lobster Tails: Preheat the broiler and place the lobster tails on foiled baking sheets, slicing the top of the shell open lengthwise. Broil the tails for 5-10 minutes or until the shell is slightly browned. When finished, the meat should no longer be translucent. Melt some butter to dip the meat in while the “surf” portion of your meal is sizzling away. Garnish with heart-shaped lemon rounds and enjoy!

New York Prime Strip Steaks: Start up your grill, and take your steaks out of the fridge about 45 minutes prior to cooking them so they warm to room temperature. Rub with your favorite seasonings and let the steak absorb the flavor while you wait for the grill to heat. The time it takes for the steak to cook will depend on how thick the steak is. A good rule of thumb is 4 minutes per side per one inch of steak thickness (be sure to measure beforehand!). Depending on your personal tastes, you may want to leave it on longer.

And for dessert? Roma’s white and milk chocolate covered strawberries are all you need. Just a few will be satisfying enough, but it’s fruit— how bad can it be?? Indulge all you want on this special day, and continue to indulge in any leftovers tomorrow. You deserve it!

So, this Valentine’s Day, keep the heart-themed gifts to a minimum and focus on something that will truly make for a special memory. Make your loved ones a dish to remember (and be sure to tell us all about it!). Buon Appetito!

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How to Throw a Great (Super Bowl) Party

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This year’s Super Bowl competitors have finally been announced: Denver Broncos face off against the Carolina Panthers. Regardless of whom you’re rooting for, we’re willing to bet you’ll be engaging in a Super Bowl party. Even if you’re not hosting, keep reading anyways (specifically, tip #4) because your services may still be required.

While geared towards the great American pseudo-holiday that is the Super Bowl, these tips can still be tailored to any party you may find yourself struggling to plan. Mixed in with the daily chaos of work, social life, carting the kids to and from practice, making dinner, catching up on your favorite show, etcetera, we understand that trying to get the details worked out for a proper shindig can be a bit of a challenge. No matter the occasion, we want to ensure that you’ll be the host(ess) with the most(est), without losing your sanity.

1— Planning ahead: A brief timeline.

A week before: Be sure to invite your guests ahead of time, and ask them to bring a dish to pass to make it easier on you! Don’t invite more people than your home can hold, and make sure there are enough places for your guests to sit where they’ll be able to watch the game comfortably. We’ve all experienced that time where one or two guests have to stand awkwardly in the corner or sit on the floor while the rest cheer on from the cushy comfort of the living room couch. No bueno.

The night before: Be sure to set up the gathering areas before your guests arrive. Use plastic tablecloths and set out serving bowls, utensils, cups—anything your guests may need in order to enjoy themselves between plays. We recommend plastic utensils and paper plates to make your life easier (and trust us, it will). If having less dishes to wash means one more bag in the trash can or that your recycling bin is a little bit fuller than usual, it’s definitely worth it— unless you’re one of those people who enjoys washing dishes… then, by all means.

If you have decorations you’d like to put up, we highly recommend getting this out of the way the night beforehand as well. Streamers, banners, team paraphernalia, or a life-sized Peyton Manning inflatable— just make sure they’re relatively tasteful and won’t fall down/deflate into a sad mushy blob throughout the course of the party.

The hours before: Finish up your cooking prior to your guests arriving so that you can enjoy their company without the added stress. Your focus should be on the people you invited into your home (and on the game/great commercials). If it’s absolutely necessary, use halftime as a break to get more food into the oven and replenish the tables. Just make sure you’re still able to enjoy the halftime show (because for many, that’s the most important part).

 2— Clean house. Enlist the services of every vacuum, mop, duster and child, both before AND after the party. The more the merrier, and the less stress for you the better (and if one of your guests offers to help you clean up afterwards, let them help! Just be sure to thank them). Wipe down the counters, dust the corners of every room, clean the bathrooms (make sure an air freshener is readily available just in case) vacuum each room and let the smells of the food you’re cooking take over the house. After the party, make sure any sticky spill is cleaned up as soon as possible so that it doesn’t fester until the next day when elbow grease will truly be required. Get any leftovers that might have found their way into your Tupperware, into the fridge, and cans and bottles into bags to take to the recycling center. Make sure the bags tie, and put them outside or in the garage so that your home doesn’t become infused with the unforgiving scent of stale beer.

3— Use a self-serve system. Set up a table or two where food and drink can be placed and your guests can easily serve themselves while they enjoy the game. Don’t stress out over using fancy serving bowls or platters, because that’s not what your guests will be focusing on. The food is what matters, and while little details are great, nobody will be upset if you save the energy from that for a different gathering.

For a Super Bowl party, finger foods are fine and divine. There’s no need for anything intricate; so you can keep it simple and encourage your guests to do the same. Place the foods where they’ll be easy to reach and won’t get messy. Use serving spoons and tongs to the fullest advantage. Be sure to place ketchup, mustard and relish (plus any other fan-favorites) in a centralized location. Some of your guests may be bringing small crockpots, so find a place to set the table near an outlet or in easy reach of an extension cord.

You might want a separate table for beverages. If there are minors at your gathering, you might want to consider keeping the alcohol in the kitchen where those of age can easily access it. Regardless, using plastic cups is one must, and making sure your guests mark their cups with their names is another. To make this more fun, put out Sharpies in the colors of the teams playing, and have each guest mark their cup with the Sharpies in the color of the team they’re cheering on. Every time their team scores, they can do a “cheers” or take a sip.

4— Get your guests involved. When you’re handing out the invitations, whether they’re through Facebook, on paper or verbally, make sure your guests feel welcome from beginning to end. Be sure they RSVP by a reasonable date, so that you know how many people to expect. Ask them to bring a dish to pass— this will make it easier on you, because you won’t have to spend countless hours laboring over the stove cooking every delicious little finger food that the party will have to offer. Just make sure they know to bring a dish that goes with the theme (i.e. Super Bowl foods are typically finger foods, but a holiday party might require something a little more intricate). Whatever your guests have to offer, be sure to thank them for bringing it.

If your guests offer to help you with anything when they arrive, let them help. It will make them feel more welcome- even if it’s something as simple as setting a bowl on the serving table; and you get the added bonus of one less thing to worry about. Win-win.

Be sure they know that whatever they take will be going home with them. Of course, there’s always that one dish that you can’t get enough of, so if you want to say yes to keeping leftovers, it really is your unspoken right as a host(ess). However, we all know how big of a pain it is to be stuck washing and re-distributing the serving dishes your guests brought their offerings in. Just like any national park, the beauty and integrity of your home must be preserved, so if you want to spare yourself from this hassle, make it clear to your guests that this will be a carry-in, carry-out ordeal.

5— Enjoy the party. You’ve done everything you could have possibly done to prepare for this party— the house is clean, the food is out, your guests each have a cup with their name firmly established in Sharpies in the color of their favorite team… This is your time now. Have a few glasses of your beverage of choice, make a plate (ensuring to try each one of your guests’ dishes) and relax. Enjoy the company of your guests and bask in the glory that is a successful party. As your guests stagger out, you’ll be left with the satisfaction of knowing they’ll all want to come back next year, and you’ve gained the title of Master Party Planner. Your home will echo with the energy of wonderful, happy people for days (maybe even weeks) to come, and the best part? Now that you’re a seasoned party-thrower, the next one will be even better.

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How to Eat Healthy in the Dead of Winter

We’re all at that point—the dismal, midwinter blues are seeping in, along with the brutal cold. It’s tempting to run for cover, taking shelter in our favorite comfort dishes that have less-than-favorable consequences on our diets (which, if you’re like us, are a New Year’s resolution that we’re this close to scrapping). Fret not— contrary to popular belief, and despite what the howling wind is telling you, it’s possible to eat healthy and fresh. You don’t have to break your resolutions yet! You might even be able to spruce up your favorite comfort dish by adding a healthy new twist. Take that, Old Man Winter.

Tip 1: Ditch the lazy attitude. Start by hitting the gym, walking the dog, doing jumping jacks in your kitchen (or vacuuming your kitchen, if you’re feeling ambitious and want to kill two birds with one stone!)— Anything to get your energy up. If you feel healthy, you’ll be more likely to eat healthy, too.

Tip 2: Grocery shop on a full stomach. This is a tried and true strategy. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve gone to the grocer, list in hand, starving, and proceeded to parade down the aisles grabbing boxes and cans as if they were going to disappear in the next 5 seconds, dumping them into our carts and rolling along on our merry way. Sticking to your list is much easier if your stomach isn’t growling at the sight of every item on the shelves.

Tip 3: Buy fresh. How can it be possible that this brutal season can produce some of the most healthful fruits and vegetables? We’ll tell you. “Superfoods” like pomegranates, kale, and citrus, are in season throughout the colder months (and available at Roma’s!). But fresh produce isn’t the only important item to check off your list. Roma’s also has fresh, natural meats. You’ll feel obligated to use these fresh foods, because, well, the thing with fresh foods is that they don’t stay fresh forever! However, they stay packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and just about every other nutrient your body needs.

Tip 4: Food prep. We mentioned ditching the lazy attitude— here’s a similar requirement. Preparing your meals beforehand, at least to an extent, will boost your chances of eating healthier. Wash your produce, cut your meat, package everything into meal-sized containers. If there’s a meal ready for you in your fridge, you’re likely to eat it. In fact, it’s entirely possible that once you prepare your meal, it’ll be all you think about until you eat it. And if you don’t eat it, we’re sure that someone else will take that delicious meal off your hands. Hungry child? Starving spouse? Even your dog deserves a fresh treat here and there. 

Tip 5: Allow yourself a cheat day. Yep, after everything we just told you about eating healthy, we’re also telling you it’s okay to cut corners once in a while. Set a day out of the week where you’re allowed to eat whatever you want, well, within reason (we don’t want you to kill your week’s progress!). Restricting yourself too harshly is proven to make it more difficult to stick to a diet. Go ahead and indulge, and if you’re hesitant, do your best to incorporate that “healthy twist” we mentioned (remember the whole “A for effort” thing?). Happiness is a huge component in health, and you won’t be happy if you can’t eat your favorite foods from time to time.

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5 Ways How Roma’s Will Help You Keep Your NYE Resolutions

NYE Blog Roma

At this time of year, many of us reflect on what we have accomplished and what we aim to do (they we just didn’t get around to) next year. Many make lists, jot down ideas on post-its and decorate their workplace, and others make vows to their family and friends. Sadly, a lot of our New Year’s resolutions never come to fruition just because life takes over. Fret not, Roma’s has five ways that we can help you accomplish these NYE goals!

  1. Eat better: Regardless of your dietary preference, Roma’s offers something for everyone. We have fresh produce, seafood and meat that comes in daily. Also, you’ll never find preservatives in food that we prepare for you. We believe in making all of our items from scratch, and that means putting on the essential ingredients in there.
  2. Spend more time with the family: Roma’s was built on the idea of family and traditions. If you come in to either one of our locations you will quickly notice that we have a lot of family members on staff, and that’s because it’s important for us to stay close. Bring your kids in and teach them about our many items and create memories together. You can ask anyone from our butcher to our produce supplier, and they all have a family story to tell!
  3. Cook more good-for-you foods at home: We don’t just have already prepared items, we also have fresh meats, seafood, pasta, and so much more that you can make in the convenience of your own home. Look for our homemade pizza kits (we have the dough, sauce, cheese and pepperoni all next to each other!) or other items that can easily piece together for a delicious home-cooked meal!
  4. Support local business: Not only will you support us, but you will be supporting all the local businesses that we work with on a daily basis. We believe in keeping it in the neighborhood and we do our best to carry products that are right in our backyard, such as the pies from Mourningkill Farms (if you haven’t tried them, you’re missing out!).
  5. Make new friends and get involved in the community: We cannot say it enough. At Roma’s we are family, we truly appreciate and like to get to know our customers. Whether that means doing so in-store or at local events! Follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our weekly newsletter to see what we’re up to!

We truly wish all our family, friends and customers a very happy New Year! Thank you for your continued support— we look forward to another year with you!

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Produce, Meat and Fish: Meet the 86-Year-Old Man Behind Roma’s Freshest Products

Phil

“I wake up each morning at 4am. Then, I go to Wolferts Roost, and I open the Club, put the coffee on, have a cup and start my work day around 6am.” You would never expect that Phil Battaglia, at 86 years young, would be the sole person responsible for purchasing Roma’s selection of fresh produce, seafood and meat each morning— but he is and he loves it. “I love my job, I enjoy the people and it keeps me moving!” So how did it all start? Phil will tell you.

“Frank and I go way back. We are “Birthday Buddies”, we share the same birthday, just 25 years apart. When I was a boy, my father and I would go to Roma’s that was then located on lower Madison Avenue. I grew up enjoying what everyone else loves now and that’s how we met.” As things typically do, Phil’s life has come full circle. Phil grew up surrounded by the produce business; his family owned Caruso Rinella Battaglia Company Incorporated for 61 years, from 1924-1985. It was from an early age that Phil learned about the ins and outs of the industry and this experience only further propelled his desire for learning about new things. After graduating from Valley Forge Military Academy, Phil attended and graduated from Siena College in 1952. From there, he went into the Army and to this day, he is eager to learn more about the world around him. Phil worked for his family’s company until it closed and then tried his hand at corporate wholesale. “I saw and experienced so many changes in industry— especially in the 40s, but in the mid-80s the writing was clearly written on the wall, so I jumped ship.” From Cisco, Phil sailed, if you will, on to a couple other career ships such as in the purchasing department for the City of Albany and for the Assembly of Albany, and then he landed where he seemingly begun— back at the farmer’s markets for a place he loved as a child, at Roma’s.

“What keeps you young is constantly learning about things and to keep moving! I am always going places and thinking about [produce] prices. I have memorized every price of every product!” Phil chuckles. “My doctor asked me if I was getting enough exercise. I told him that I drive 400 miles a week and get in and out of my car 30 times a day, he too agreed that was plenty of exercise!” When Phil isn’t perusing the farmer’s markets, driving 400 miles weekly, or at Roma’s you can find him at Wolferts Roost Country Club, where he enjoys playing cards, catching up with friends or having a cocktail. Phil ended our conversation with this heartfelt thought, “I really enjoy working at Roma’s, Frank wanted me to come back to work after I had retired and I am glad that I did. I really admire Frank and his family for how fair they are with customers and always offer premium quality products.”

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Welcome David, Roma’s New Head Chef

There’s no question that David Quillinan had some rather large shoes to fill after the sudden and unfortunate passing of Chef Paul Higgs in mid-November. However, the 26-year culinary aficionado is happy to call Roma’s his new home and is excited to be welcomed in with open arms by the Roma family.

“I started my culinary career at 14 and back then, you learned a lot more [at that age] than you could now,” David chuckled. “When I enrolled in culinary school at Schenectady County Community College, at 19, I was already a Sous Chef, and with ease, I blew my classmates and professors away with my dedication and skill.” Most teenagers have a hard time establishing what they want to do for the rest of their lives, but David knew early on because of his father and other family members, who were always cooking and loved to be cooking. “My Dad was my hero, I worshipped the ground he walked on and he was undoubtedly one of the best chefs that I ever had the privilege of working with.” Within minutes of speaking with him, one can easily see how passionate and family-orientated David is and how he would effortlessly fit within the culture at Roma’s. “When I came in for my interview, I immediately noticed that everyone was friendly and many were related. Which I immediately was drawn to— I am all about family and I knew in that instant that this was the place where I wanted to be.”

Before Roma’s, David had a robust culinary career spanning from Disney World, to the Ripe Tomato, Longfellow’s, Catherine’s On The Park (at Saratoga Spa Golf Course), held a corporate chef role and frequently traveled the coast from Boston, MA to Atlanta, GA., just to name a few. “When my wife got pregnant with our second child, I was working in Philadelphia. Both of us were homesick so we moved back home to Saratoga.” He even opened and ran two businesses after returning, one being Faldoni’s Delicatessen and the other a restaurant located at a campground in Schaghticoke, New York. “Owning my own businesses was an awesome experience and I learned a tremendous amount by pursuing those dreams.” In fact, David wasn’t planning on looking for a new job until January 2016, as he wanted to take a break after closing Faldoni’s, but fate seemed to intervene. “I was up one morning, around 4:30am, and I was on Craigslist, which I never go on. For the heck of it, I typed in “Chef” and there was a post for this role at Roma’s that was just posted minutes prior. The rest is history!”

It’s often ironic how our lives lead us back to places and people; this was the case for David. “When my wife was in college [at Skidmore], we would always go to Roma’s for their subs (in case you were wondering, David’s favorite is prosciutto, with fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers and extra virgin olive oil), and I loved them, it’s funny that I have ended up here now all these years later.” As for bringing his famous culinary creations to Roma’s, David plans on serving up more soups, chowders and chili’s, “My favorite dishes to make are soups and I also have placed first in every competition where I served them.” And for Roma’s tradition of keeping it in the family, “My 16 year son is also going to be working here as well, which I am really excited about.”

Stop in our Latham location and meet David, and you’ll quickly see how well he fits within our family!

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Roma’s Last Minute Turkey Tips

If you’re reading this, it’s not too late! The fact that you’re seeking help two days before Thanksgiving is a sign that, well, you really need it— which is okay! Martha didn’t become an all-things-home-and-cooking expert without seeking advice from others, and we don’t expect you to either! So, if you’re coming down to the wire, here are some helpful tips from our kitchen to yours! Whole Homemade Thanksgiving Turkey

  1. How To Select the Right Size Bird: Although a turkey is rather large, a lot of what you see is bone. When selecting a size, figure 1 – 1 ½ pounds of turkey per guest. Also account for leftovers and whether or not you or your guests may want them. Plan ahead, but if that bird is frozen when you buy it, your main mission in the next day is to defrost it immediately!
  2. Speaking of defrosting, most turkeys you’ll find in-store are frozen. It’s recommended to defrost your turkey in your refrigerator, as it’s too cold to permit bacteria from growing. And, if you have the time to have it defrost in there— it’s best to place the turkey on the bottom shelf, on a rimmed sheet pan in case it drips. The rule of thumb is a day for every four pounds of turkey. You most likely don’t have 3-4 days to let your turkey defrost that way. So, if you have a day, place your turkey in a leak-proof package or plastic bag. Submerge your frozen bird under cold water (not warm or hot, this will promote bacteria growth) and just wait, it’ll happen eventually.
  3. Clean your turkey! We have heard horror stories of people cooking their turkey with the giblets inside! Yes, there’s a package of giblets inside your turkey’s cavity that must be removed before cooking. Also, rinse off your turkey under cool running water and pat dry.
  4. Now, for the pan… select a heavy, sturdy stainless steel pan to cook your turkey. Why? These types of pans will last you a lifetime, plus it evenly distributes the heat, and will be able to handle the weight of your bird. You’ll want to look for a pan that will just fit the size of your turkey, with sides that come up about 3 inches, just to catch any juices that might be flowing during the cooking process. We also recommend looking for a pan that comes with racks (you’ll need these regardless) and one with handles, you’ll need all the help you can get with lifting it once it’s done!
  5. Let it roast! There are no hacks or shortcuts to this one. You’ll want to always roast your turkey on a rack set so that the juices can drip down, and not interfere with the bottom of your bird (the last thing you’ll want is a soggy bottom). Those drippings are going to be very beneficial throughout the cooking process. In fact, after the first hour of roasting, you’re going to take those drippings and baste your turkey with them to keep the meat moist and to make sure your turkey’s skin has an even color (plus, these juices will also be used if you’re making homemade gravy.) You will want to roast your turkey until your instant-read thermometer (that will be inserted into the thickest part of your turkey’s thigh) reads 165 degrees. At which point, you will remove your turkey from the oven and cover it loosely with aluminum foil, for about 30 minutes. DO NOT CUT your turkey until it has time to rest (a minimum of 30 minutes).
  6. Enjoy, pour yourself a drink— you just roasted your turkey and prepared a Thanksgiving staple a couple days before the big day and you deserve it!
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6 Tips to Help You Stay Sane During the Holiday Season

With Halloween just a couple days away, we have officially passed through the starting gates of the holiday season. For many, this time of year brings mixed emotions. First off, we’re excited— it’s the holidays! Which are full of fun, tradition and memories and, then, the second thought is anxiety— it’s the holidays— which means cleaning, cooking and all the stress that comes with it. However, this year it’s going to be different for all of us. Why? Because we are going to take time to mentally prepare for what lies ahead now, versus 20 minutes before your Thanksgiving guests arrive. You owe it to yourself! Here are 6 tips to help you stay sane during the holiday season!

  1. Don’t Wait Until Last Minute: This can be a hard rule to follow, but it is the golden rule. You will be amazed with what some thoughtful planning and preparation can do for you. Even if it’s sitting down now (yes, right now!) and making a list of what you’re planning on making for Thanksgiving. By putting these details into writing, you’re starting the whole thought/planning process and it will help ease the burden of figuring it out later. Also, don’t wait until a few days before T-Day to decide on your turkey situation; you should have an idea of where it’s coming from and how you’re preparing it two weeks before.
  2. Take Time for Yourself: I know, with what time, right?! We get it. But there’s a rule of thumb when it comes to entertaining: “A happy host makes for a happy meal.” Nobody likes a miserable, stressed and angry host. It makes everyone uncomfortable and it personally ensures that your holiday is awful. Do what you need to do for yourself a couple weeks before the big event to help ease the stress the day of.
  3. Exercise, Mediate, or Get Active: One of the most effective ways to manage stress is through both exercise and meditation. In fact, some of most efficient ways to help you stay calm in the moment are derived from walking, jogging, swimming, baking (well, something simple and that you enjoy making) and painting.
  4. Practice Deep Breathing: When your body is under stress, it causes quick, shallow breathing. Both your body and brain need oxygen in order to function properly, so take time to breathe in deep breaths when the tension levels start to rise. Trust us, it works!
  5. Mind Over Matter: Your imagination is a pretty powerful tool and it definitely helps when you’re in a chaotic situation. When things are literally hitting your fans pans, because you’re cooking, use your imagination to take you that happy place which will help you focus on the task at hand versus all the details surrounding the moment. You’ll be surprised what some willful thinking can do!
  6. Don’t Do It Alone: Just because your Great Aunt Sally can cook every single dish, and always insists on not having her guests bring anything, doesn’t mean that you have to. In actuality, having your guests bring dishes adds to the tradition and holiday experience that we all love know and love. P.S. if you don’t trust your guests’ cooking or just want to handle it all by yourself, there’s always Roma’s! We offer everything you need for Thanksgiving, from appetizers to the whole meal— we’ve got you covered and we won’t tell anyone!

All holidays come with some level of stress, but by planning ahead (no, we’re not kidding about taking time for yourself), you will be in a better mental, emotional and physical place when it comes time to entertain. Enjoy every moment of your holidays with our 6 sanity saving tips!

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The Real Difference With Homemade Mozzarella

Unless you grew up around handmade foods, or are very familiar with Italian delis, you might not be too keen on the difference between fresh, homemade mozzarella and the packages you see at the store. What’s the real difference anyway? We’ll tell you.

fresh mozz

Depending on what product you purchase, the cost of any cheese, even mozzarella, can be a more expensive item. So, that’s why choosing the best product for your money is always key! Additionally, there is a world of difference between fresh and store-bought mozzarella. The best way to find that out is to do your own taste test comparison and see for yourself. So what are some notable differences between the two? 1) The liquid (or lack thereof) that it has in its packaging. Genuine homemade mozzarella should be surrounded in its own buttermilk, which is white liquid with a fresh and aromatic taste. 2) Fresh mozzarella should not be refrigerated. Why? Refrigerating it will simply ruin the cheese and won’t taste the way it’s intended to. This of course means that a majority of us have never actually eaten authentic mozzarella or even know what it’s actually supposed to taste like!

Fear not, you can always find fresh mozzarella at Roma’s, but just in case you wanted to make it at home, we can help you do that as well! Okay, so the first thing you’re probably going to ask yourself is, “How in the world am I going to have time to make mozzarella from scratch?” Okay, fair enough question; most of us don’t have much extra time at all. But, the answer is yes, it can be done and it only takes about 20 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ c. water
  • 1 ½ tsp citric acid (sold at Roma’s)
  • ¼ rennet tablet or ¼ tsp liquid rennet (sold at Roma’s)
  • 1 gallon of either whole or 2% milk
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

  • Combine 1 cup of water and citric acid until dissolved. In another bowl, combine remaining ¼ cup of water with rennet until dissolved.
  • Warm your milk by heating on stove-top. Stir in your citric acid mixture and warm to 90 degrees, stirring gently.
  • Remove pot from heat and gently mix in the rennet mixture. After 30 seconds, stop stirring, cover the pot and let stand for 5 minutes (without disturbing it).
  • After 5 minutes, your milk will have set. If it’s really liquidy, re-cover the pot and let sit for another 5 minutes. Once your milk has set, you’re going to cut uniform curds. This is done by making several parallel cuts both vertically and horizontally to create a grid pattern. Ensure that your knife reaches the bottom of the pan. (If you want to skip this step, we also sell cheese curds at Roma’s as well!)
  • Now, you’re going to cook the curds. Return your pot to the stove and place over medium heat. Warm the curds to about 105 degrees. Stir slowly, but be careful not to break up the curds up too much. The curds will ultimately clump together.
  • Remove the pot from heat and stir gently for another 5 minutes.
  • With a slotted spoon, ladle the curds into a microwavable bowl. At this point, you will be separating the curds from the whey.
  • Microwave your curds for 1 minute. At this time, you’re going to drain the whey. They may be hot, so if you’d like, put on rubber gloves, and fold the curds over themselves a few times. In this state, the curds will look similar to cottage cheese.
  • Now, microwave your curds for an additional 30 seconds and check their temperature. If they have reached a temperature of 135 degrees, you will begin to stretch the curds. If they haven’t, continue to microwave in 30 second increments until they reach the internal temperature of 135 degrees.
  • At this point, you’re going to form the mozzarella. Sprinkle the sea salt over the curds and use your fingers to mix in thoroughly. Use both hands to fold and stretch the curds repeatedly. Eventually, they will start to firm up and look glossy. At this time, you will shape it into a ball, or several balls, it’s up to you!, but try not to over-work the cheese.
  • Storage: In an air-tight container, place your fresh mozzarella. Mix together a tsp of salt with a cool cup of whey and pour this over the mozzarella to keep moist.
  • Enjoy!

Don’t feel like reading the instructions? Watch Frank Bolognino make fresh mozzarella from scratch here.

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Roma’s Famous Cheese Pizza: Tips From Our Head Chef & The Recipe Too!

 

From our kitchen to yours! (1)

Depending on where you go or order pizza from, you’re most likely going to eat a different pizza at each location. Pizza is one of those things where dough, type of flour and water (who would have guessed it) actually make a big difference! We wanted to get the scoop on how Roma’s Head Chef, Paul Higgs, makes his famous pizza that’s available every weekday at the Latham location!

So, let’s start from the beginning, what do you do first?

PH: “You have to start with the foundation, which is your dough. We use Nino’s dough, and let me tell you, ¾ of the battle is finding the right dough!”

Sometimes, when I’m making pizza, I notice that it’s really hard (and the dough often rips) when I am trying to stretch it out and the dough is still cold. What are some tips when it comes to stretching out dough and putting it on your pan?

PH: “I recommend taking the dough out 45 minutes ahead of time to let it warm up to room temperature. Before placing it on your pan, put a cooking spray/oil on it. I personally use shortening. Make sure that you put enough (oil/shortening) on the corners or, otherwise, your pizza will stick. Another tip when stretching out your dough is to make sure you do it from the center out. By doing so, you’re making sure that the amount of dough across the pan is even.

Alright, dough— check! Now what about the sauce? Being an expert, what do you recommend?

PH: “Well, you need to have a good sauce— whether you make it yourself or you buy it. Truth be told, I use the spaghetti sauce, not pizza sauce!”

That’s interesting! What’s the difference between spaghetti and pizza sauce?

PH: “Spaghetti sauce has more basil rather than oregano, which makes it a little sweeter. Whereas pizza sauce typically has more oregano and either very little basil or no basil at all!”

I didn’t know that! So, for an at-home pizza-making venture, we’re talking 12-cut, rectangular pan, how much sauce would you recommend using?

PH: I would recommend probably use a cup and a half.

Great! Now, the cheese, how much should we really use?

PH: “The final thing for me is cheese. To be honest, I typically have no preference on what brand to use, but I use a lot! I am all about extra cheese. Personally, I like the way it comes out! For a 12-cut, I use about a pound and half or more! My rule of thumb is that when I make a cheese pizza, you shouldn’t see the sauce!”

Now we’re ready to bake it! Not all of us have professional grade ovens, for those who are making our pizza at home, how do you recommend getting the perfect pizza?

PH: “If you are using a regular, conventional oven, you should be mindful of any hot spots your stove may have. This means, that certain areas within your oven get hotter than others, which causes uneven cooking. I recommend setting the temperature to 475 degrees, and placing your pizza on the bottom rack for about 10-15 minutes and then move to top rack for about 10 minutes until you notice your cheese is starting bubble and turn slightly brown. And, there you have the perfect pizza!”

All this pizza talk would make anyone hungry! Find Roma’s Famous Cheese Pizza recipe below!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 and ¼ lb Roma Pizza Dough
  • 14 oz. jar of your choice of spaghetti or pizza sauce
  • ¾ or 1 lb of Roma’s store-made fresh mozzarella, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Pinch of oregano
  • Grated Romano cheese
  • Shortening for pan

How To Make:

  • When dough is room temperature, grease 12×17 sheet pan with shortening. Make sure you grease raised edges of sheet pan.
  • Preheat your oven to 475.
  • Stretch dough, from center out, on a floured counter. Transfer to greased sheet pan. Stretch dough to edges.
  • Spread Extra Virgin Olive Oil on dough
  • Spread your choice of sauce on pizza, leaving at least an inch untouched, as this will be your crust.
  • Lightly sprinkle oregano.
  • Place shredded mozzarella on top.
  • Place your pizza on the bottom rack of your oven for about 10-15 minutes, after which, you will transfer your pizza to the top rack for another 10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven when your cheese starts to bubble and turn brown. Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing.
  • Enjoy!
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