Feast of the Seven Fishes

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Here at Roma, as much as we love the occasional break from the norm, we love tradition just as well. One of our favorites is the Feast of the Seven Fishes— a grandiose meal that many Italian-American families serve as part of their Christmas Eve celebration.

How It Began:
Though the history of the Feast of the Seven Fishes (called La Festa dei Sette Pesci in Italy) is shrouded in mystery, it is believed that it began in Southern Italy with Catholic Italians who were abstaining from consuming meat and dairy on Christmas Eve. Many cultures throughout Europe have similar traditions that are observed for the holiday.

What It Is:
The Feast of the Seven Fishes is a large meal comprised of several different kinds of fish and other seafood. While seven is the traditional number, many families like to incorporate even more different kinds of fish into their dishes— sometimes upwards of 13. These various different kinds of “Frutti di Mar” can be incorporated in any number of ways— baked, fried, stewed, you name it. They can be consumed in separate dishes or courses, but many find it easier to make one dish that includes all of them!

Feast on the Seven Fishes: Cioppino!
No matter what your culture or religious affiliation, the Feast of the Seven Fishes is a unique (and delicious) experience. Taste for yourself— we’ve provided a recipe for cioppino (seafood stew) that incorporates seven delicious seafood options.

You’ll Need:

  • 3 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 bulb of fennel, sliced thin
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • ¾ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ c Pernod
  • ¼ c tomato paste
  • 28 oz diced tomatoes + juice
  • 1 ½ c dry white wine
  • 2 c clam juice
  • 5 c fish stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 ½ lbs littleneck clams (scrubbed)
  • 1 lb mussels (scrubbed and debearded)
  • 1 lb King crab leg (scrubbed)
  • 1 lb scallops, abductor muscle removed
  • 1 lb assorted white-fleshed fish fillets (such as tilapia or cod) cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
  • 1 lb medium shrimp (deveined with shells intact)
  • Fresh bread

 

To Make:

  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium. Add onion, fennel, shallot and garlic. Sauté until translucent (10 minutes or so). Add in red pepper flakes, tomato paste, Pernod and white wine, and bring to a boil. Let simmer about 5 minutes to cook off alcohol.
  • Add diced tomatoes + juice, clam juice, fish stock, and the bay leaf. Allow to return to a simmer, then reduce to low. Allow to simmer, covered, about 30 minutes; then taste and adjust seasonings.
  • Add in clams, mussels, and crab. Cover and cook about 5 minutes, until mussels start to open.
  • Season the remaining seafood (scallops, fish, shrimp) with salt and add into the stew. Cover and cook until fish and scallops begin to look opaque and the shrimp looks pink (an additional 5 minutes or so). Carefully stir and check seasonings.

For serving (this recipe serves 6):
Portion the seafood into bowls and then add equal portions of vegetables and broth into each bowl. Serve with a side of fresh bread.

Roma’s Tips for a Thankful Thanksgiving

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Holidays come and go, with much preparation and very little time spent truly embracing the meaning of said holiday. Don’t let this Thanksgiving be another one of those holidays! Here are a few of Roma’s tips on spending more time giving thanks tomorrow, instead of stressing out over the day’s activities (but you can start tonight!).

Get a good night’s sleep: Start your evening routine tonight by writing down a few things that you are grateful for (and if you like how it feels, make it a routine!). Spending a little bit of time before bed recalling things you were grateful for throughout the day, week, month, or even year, helps you to have a better night’s’ sleep— so you’ll wake up tomorrow feeling more energized than usual, ready to embrace the day for all it’s worth.

Wake up and get out into the community: Giving your time to those who are less fortunate will help you come to appreciate all that you have— and those who are the recipients of your time and efforts will have a little something extra to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, too! Gather the family and spend some time helping a cause you’re passionate about tomorrow morning— it doesn’t have to be anything too extensive. If you’re truly crunched for time or can’t find a place to volunteer, you can do something as simple as going through your belongings and donating what you don’t need, don’t use, or have outgrown.

Express your gratitude: Spend time tomorrow with the ones you’re most thankful for. If you can’t be with them all in person, be sure to call them and express your gratitude for having them in your life. When dinner rolls around, start a conversation with your guests about what you’re all most thankful for, and express your thanks for having the opportunity to gather together. The cheer that comes from connecting with those you love on this special day is the reason we love the holidays so much!

Less stress: All of these practices in conjunction with each other will help you manage your stress better tomorrow— especially if you ARE the host. Practicing gratitude is connected to lower levels of stress (so don’t hesitate to incorporate this into your daily routine!).

We here at Roma’s are so thankful for the continuous support of our loyal customers. We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy time spent with your families and loved ones. Let Thanksgiving set a cheerful tone for the rest of 2016 and remind you of the things that are most important to you. Let the holiday season begin!

5 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress

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Ask anyone who’s had to bear the brunt of the work in preparing for a holiday season— it’s 1 part stress, 1 part anxiety, and 2 parts pure joy. In a season that’s got a reputation of making people feel good, feel thankful, and feel at peace, it can seem a bit ironic that so much planning and consideration can go into something as seemingly simple as a family dinner. There are ways to balance out the stress (even eliminate it— well, to an extent) if you’re mindful— and that’s why we’re here. We know the ins and outs of preparing for the holidays, and hope our advice helps you find peace in this season of joy!

Remember— the stress isn’t necessarily about the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Years— they’re all periods of time that are meant to bring the family together and evoke happiness, joy, family, and tradition. These are things we love to surround ourselves with, but when you factor in the heavy planning, cooking, gift wrapping, and back-and-forth communication with potential guests, we forget all of that and resort to a ba-humbug perspective that the holidays themselves are the source of our stress.In lieu of all of this, remember to take a breather and remind yourself that the holidays are not supposed to be a time of stress. Ask yourself what you can eliminate from this holiday workload altogether, or what you can delegate to your spouse, children, or other guests— because deep down, you know that they don’t want you to stress out the way you are!
Curate your holiday. By this, we don’t mean you have to add to it, per say— less can be more. Keep your decorations simple, tasteful, and easy, delegate your tasks to others who are happy to help (you’d be surprised how many little helpers you can find if you just ask for a hand!), and cultivate a holiday guest list that you’re happy with. There will always be family members you might not care to spend time with, but if you’re dreading the entire dinner because of one or two people, you may want to re-evaluate your invitation list!
Do things with your kids. It can be hard to feel the magic of the holidays the way you may have felt it as a child, but that magic comes back when you’re spending time with children who still see that magic. Holiday activities with the kids— gift wrapping, hot cocoa, movies, and the likes— are great ways to reduce the stress, remember the magic, and even get a helping hand with the tremendous to-do list you’ve accumulated. These are some of the best memories you will ever make.
Give your time. This may sound crazy and impossible in the frenzy that is the holiday season. You’re preparing food, shopping for gifts, budgeting, planning… we understand. But when things get tough, it really does feel good to get out and take a breather, and give your time to a cause that you’re passionate about. There is no better time to get involved in charity work than during the holidays. Any help you want to give will, as always, be received with the utmost gratitude, but the sense of joy you get from seeing others benefit directly from your actions in a season where many may not be as privileged is one that you’ll hold with you throughout the year. And the experience is so humbling— it will help you remember the true spirit of the holidays.
Don’t feel guilty declining an offer to a holiday party— especially if it’s from distant friends or relatives that you just aren’t that close with. The holidays are about spending time with your loved ones, creating memories that will prevail throughout the years. Those memories are strongest and most cherished when they’re made with the people you want to focus your time on. This is also a good time to set your focus for the new year— be mindful of those who matter most to you, and be cognizant of including them in your plans wherever possible; while realizing that it is okay not to pay as much attention to relationships that you’re not interested in strengthening. It’s a very easy way to reduce holiday stress for years to come!

This season does only come once a year— but that doesn’t mean the stress is any less frustrating than that of your day job. We’re here for you, all-around, whether you need our help cooking, our advice with food or preparation, or just need some more advice on managing the planning! We hope that you enjoy your holiday season to the absolute fullest extent, and receive the gratitude and thanks you deserve for all you do to get your family together for the holidays.

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Cozy Italian Wedding Soup

It’s happening:

The weather has inevitably started to become cold and damp; the kind of damp that chills you to the bone. No longer are we in the season of cold fresh salads (although those are delicious year-round). We are now, officially, in comfort food territory. We couldn’t think of a better recipe to kick soup season off with than a delicious, soul-warming Italian Wedding Soup recipe

Buon Appetito!

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped small
  • ⅓ c. chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 slice white bread, no crusts, shredded
  • ½ c Parmesan cheese
  • 8 oz. ground beef
  • 8 oz. ground pork
  • 12 c. chicken broth
  • 1 package frozen spinach
  • 8-10 oz. pastina

Instructions:

For meatballs:

Combine onion, parsley, egg, garlic, salt, and  bread. Add cheese and meat, mix together until well combined, and form into tiny balls. Place them on a clean baking sheet and set aside.

For soup:

Bring broth and spinach to a boil, add meatballs, and stir,

Allow to cook for a few minutes, then add pastina.

Cook about 20 minutes (until pasta and meatballs are cooked through).

Add additional spices, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and serve!

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roma-10-13

Roma’s Halloween Hacks

It seems as if every year, we find ourselves in a Halloween pinch. The spooky holiday comes creeping up on us and before we know it, it’s hit us and we’re just about completely unprepared. This year, don’t let Halloween get the best of you! We’ve come up with a few Halloween hacks for two the most important parts of Halloween (food and decorations!) that you can do up in the weeks, days, and even minutes leading up to the big treat.

Meals:

Food is arguably the most important part of any holiday. While Halloween draws up dreams of candy, some of us want to eat “real” food— and that’s where we’ve come in, with these delicious, time-saving tips:

 

  1. Breakfast: If you’ve got kids (or if you just LOVE Halloween), it’s been a highly anticipated day all year long. If you’re one of those parents who likes to make the holiday just a little bit more special, you might want to whip up a tasty themed breakfast before sending kids off to school in their costumes. We highly recommend pumpkin pancakes— you can even go so far as to stuff a plain pancake up with your kid’s favorite Halloween candies or some fun spooky sprinkles!
  2. Lunch: Whip up a few personal jack-o-lantern shaped pizzas. Whether they’re for you or to send along with your child for lunchtime, these little pizzas are sure to be a big hit. You can get dough, sauce, cheese, and any spooky toppings (black olives make great eyes!) right here at Roma’s.
  3. Dinner: Halloween happens to fall on a Monday this year— which means you can swing by and grab a few Roma’s weeknight dinners to go! They might not be in theme, but they’ll definitely save you more than a few minutes of precious time as you’re frantically putting last-minute Halloween costume pieces together (we’ve all been there!).

Decorations:

You can turn just about anything into a Halloween decoration with a little creativity! Here are a few of our favorite ideas— and you can make any one of these from the packaging of some of your favorite Roma’s products!

 

  1. Turn your olive oil tins into Frankenstein heads
  2. Take your empty sauce jars, a paint brush, glue, orange tissue paper, and some black construction paper and turn the jars into little Jack O’ Lanterns.
  3. Cut your empty egg carton into sections of 3 holders and paint them black, glue a pair of googly eyes to the side of the center holder and a ribbon onto the top of the center holder— they make adorable little hanging bats.
  4. Clean out your empty milk jug, put a set of eyes and a mouth on one side with a black permanent marker, stuff a set of white string lights into it, and voila— you’ve got yourself a little ghost lantern! Bonus points if you can create a set to line your front walkway.

We hope you have a happy, spooky, terrific Halloween, and as always, we look forward to seeing you the next time you stop in. Until next time!

Homemade Pumpkin Pie— Yes, From Scratch.

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It’s that time of year again— the fall harvest is making squash aplenty available to consumers throughout the Capital Region, including one of our favorite: pumpkin. Pumpkin tastes great in a variety of different recipes, both classic and modern; but no matter where you sneak it into your meal plan, nothing beats an old-fashioned, homemade pumpkin pie. Don’t get us wrong— it’s a great treat year-round (thanks to the availability of canned pumpkin). But something about slicing through a perfectly-baked layer of pie crust and creamy pumpkin pie filling with bright leaves flying through the chilly air just completes the onset of the fall season.

 

There are so many recipes for pumpkin pie out there; many of them involving shortcuts to achieve the delicious pumpkin perfection that we long for year-round. To us, nothing beats the taste of a homemade pumpkin pie done the REAL old-fashioned way— from scratch. No corner-cutting. The best part? You can have this ready in about an hour.

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

Crust:

  • 1 ⅓ c. flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ c shortening
  • 4 tbsp cold water

 

Pumpkin Filling:

  • 1 pumpkin (1.5 lbs / 2 c.)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ c brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp molasses

 

What to do:

Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees.

 

To make the crust:

Mix together flour and salt and cut in shortening. Adding in the cold water a tablespoon at a time, mix until combined and holding together. Roll into a ball and roll out onto a large cutting board until about ⅛ inch thick.

 

Place your pie dish top-down in the center of the dough and cut around it, about 1 ½ inch wider than the dish. Lift pie dish, roll the dough gently into a tube, and then unroll over the inside of the pie dish and mold into the dish.

To mash the pumpkin:

Slice pumpkin in half and scoop out seeds. Cut into chunks and heat in saucepan with about an inch of water. Bring to boil, cover and reduce to low, and allow to cook for 30 minutes (must be tender). Remove from heat, drain, allow to cool, remove peel, and mash by hand in a large bowl.

 

To make the filling:

Add all other filling ingredients into the large bowl with the pumpkin and blend with a hand mixer until smooth. Pour into the crust and bake until inserted knife comes out clean (approx. 40 minutes).
Top with your favorite vanilla bean ice cream and garnish your plate with a cinnamon stick, and enjoy!

Perfect Your Picnic

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Regardless of the occasion, a picnic should be perfect, but with Labor Day coming up in a few days, we’re feeling extra inspired. While picnics are best when spontaneous, a little bit of planning can help tremendously in curating your picnicking experience and perfecting your day. With that in mind, we’ve pooled together a few of our favorite tips for pulling off your picnic effortlessly.

1. Decide on a location.

  • This may seem obvious, but there is hidden importance in finding the perfect location to have the perfect picnic. Think about who you will be with— if there are young children, somewhere close to a restroom is probably a good idea. If you’re looking to go on a romantic date with your significant other, perhaps you want to find somewhere a little bit more private.
  1. Decide on your menu
  • Choose seasonally-appropriate items that are fun, exciting, and, well, picnic-y. A peanut butter sandwich is easy to make, but if you eat them all the time, it might make the experience less pleasant than it could be— and it’s all about the experience. Sandwiches with cold cuts are a great option, and you can make them on-site to avoid soggy bread. Pack some fresh fruits and veggies and maybe a macaroni or potato salad, and you’re golden.
  1. Pack up
  • Whether you’re using a real, old-fashioned picnic basket or decide instead to tote a cooler or insulated bag, just be sure that everything will fit with ease.
  • To save yourself the trouble of dealing with flies and bees, we recommend packing the food in containers that have lids so that you can cover them up easily while you’re not using them.
  • If you have the capacity, bring real plates and silverware— they will make for a wonderful, special dining experience, especially if your mission is a romantic date. However, plastic plates, bowls, and cutlery are much simpler because you can simply toss them after your meal. Bonus points for using the biodegradable kind.
  • Don’t forget a blanket if your location of choice doesn’t have picnic tables readily available; and on a windy day, you may also need a few heavier items to weigh down the corners!
  1. Make it fun
  • Pack a couple of lawn games, or plan the picnic around sunset so that you can enjoy a relaxing moment with your loved ones.
  1. Phones and electronics away.
  • Encourage your party to put their cell phones and other electronic devices away, and focus on each other. It will make the experience much more enjoyable and memorable— even if your kids are reluctant to cooperate at the time! Allow a little bit of time to snap a few photos of the picnic if you’re feeling sentimental and want to share the experience with others in the future.

    Picnic season is nearing an end, so be sure to take advantage while you still can. Don’t forget that our friendly staff is always happy to make a few suggestions on our favorite picnic foods the next time you stop in!
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Roma Recipes: Cacio e Pepe

If you love having dinner guests over, chances are, you do it frequently. If this is the case, we bet you’re always looking for unique and delicious recipes to impress your guests with. You’re in luck: with this recipe for Bucatini Cacio e Pepe (super cheesy, peppery pasta) you’re delivering a satisfying meal at surprisingly little effort on your part. But don’t worry, your party will still think you’re the host(ess) with the most(est).

 

Ingredients:

1 lb. bucatini pasta (recommended, but spaghetti also works)

1 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper

5 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided (4:1)

4 tbsp. EVOO

1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 c. freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Kosher salt (to taste)

 

Directions:

  • Boil a large pot of water over high heat
  • Add the pasta and cook until al dente— about 8 minutes. (See our blog on tips for cooking perfect pasta!)
  • Before you drain, take about 2 cups of water from the pot!
  • Add the ground pepper into a dry skillet and toast until fragrant (30-40 seconds)
  • Add 4 tbsp. butter and EVOO, allowing to melt.
  • Add in the drained pasta, 1 c. saved pasta water and cheeses, tossing to coat. (**Important: Make sure the pasta water is hot when you add it! This will prevent the sauce from clumping.)
  • Season with salt to taste
  • Add in ¼ c. more water and the last tbsp. Butter, mixing well.
  • Serve on individual plates and allow your guests to garnish with additional pepper and Pecorino Romano.

 

Buon Appetito!

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Roma 08.05

Master the Track

It’s summertime, and the living should be easy. You’re probably dreaming of what every sane soul in the Capital Region dreams of: beautiful, sunshine-filled days at the track, and a fully loaded cooler in tow. As one of the few places that allows (all-you-can) carry-in, carry-out, without excluding food and beverages, there is no reason the Saratoga Race Track shouldn’t be one of the most sought-after daytrip getaways in our area. Before you head off to the races, make sure you’re well-prepared (pssst… this is where we come in!). Check out our guide to mastering the track so that your next trip is nothing short of perfect— we thought of everything so that you don’t have to.

 

Planning ahead is key. Here’s what you need to keep in mind before you head out:

  • Think outside the box for alternative routes to the track (or you’ll regret not doing so while you’re sitting in traffic for three hours because everyone decided to go the same way you did!).
  • Check the weather. You don’t want to get to the track expecting to catch a few rays in a balmy 75 degrees, only to be surprised by rain… the entire day. Dress for the weather, and make sure you’ve got appropriate footwear too!
  • If you ARE swinging by Roma’s (which we highly recommend), know what you’re planning on ordering ahead of time (or, in the instance of our platters, please place your order ahead of time!). Both stores tend to fill up quickly on race days, especially the sunny ones, so plan on it being busy!
  • Pack for the occasion! Get what you can situated ahead of time so that you don’t have to worry about it last-minute.

 

Here’s what to be sure to pack in your…

Tote bag (the important part):

Sunscreen

  • (SPF 30 or higher!)

Wallet

  • You’re here to bet on horses

Keys

  • How else did you get here?

Phone

  • Just in case you want to snap a few photos or call your friends to gloat about how well your horse is doing

Coloring supplies for the kids

  • On the condition that they only draw the huge, funky hats they spot

Sunglasses

  • To make sure you can see which horse is winning instead of relying on the yelling around you

 

Cooler (the really important part)

Ice

  • To keep the beer cold

Beer

  • Because the ice has a job to do and you need to quench your thirst

Roma’s Party Platter

  • Because the ice needs a side job and you need to eat. Allow us to elaborate:
    • You’re heading to the track to relax with your friends or family. You’re going to be there for a while, as long as things go your way, right? Right. Place a catering order ahead of time for a plate of food that will keep you and your group of track fanatics satisfied all day. The most work you’ll have to put in is deciding what kind of meats and cheeses you want. Swing by on your way to the track, pick it up, pop it into the cooler, and proceed to party.

 

So, the next time you head to the track, be sure to plan ahead to optimize your fun and make it as relaxing as possible for yourself. Give us a call a few days in advance if you’re placing an order for a party platter so that we can make sure it’s perfect and ready to go for you— but if you’re not feeling a party platter, our Sammich of the Week is always another great trackside treat. We’ll see you next time!

 

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