Roma Recipes: Patriotic Pasta Salad

Roma 06.23

 

The Fourth of July is a holiday beloved by so many. Fireworks, family and friends, and, like many other holidays, an excuse to make (and more importantly, eat) extra-delicious foods. We love getting together to celebrate our love for this Nation and share dishes and memories. If you’re looking for a recipe that can accomplish all of the above, you’re in luck— read on for our recipe for Patriotic Pasta Salad (we promise everyone will love it!).

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Pasta of choice (rotini or wheels work very well!)
  • Red and blue food coloring
  • 16 oz. fresh Mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 8 oz. fresh pepperoni, sliced or cubed
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 8 oz. artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 5 oz. sliced black olives
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ of a bottle of Italian dressing
  • Optional: One can of garbanzo beans

 

Directions:

  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Allow to cool, then split into two batches and place in separate gallon-sized zip-lock bags.
  • Add 40 drops of red food coloring to one bag and 40 drops of blue to the other. Seal bags and squeeze/shake both well to distribute the coloring. Rinse contents of one bag at a time under cold water until water runs clear, then dry pasta with paper towels.
  • In a large bowl, combine pasta with all other ingredients. Mix well (but gently) and refrigerate in a covered container until ready to serve.

 

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Ease Back into Grilling Season

Roma 06.2017

 

It seems that as the temperatures begin to rise, our cravings for grilled— everything— are a bit harder to ignore. If you’re new to grilling or looking to incorporate some new “tricks” into your grilling repertoire— we’ve got some quick and easy tips below (and will have a few more coming your way throughout the summer as part of our Summer Grilling blog series!).

 

For starters: We recommend using a charcoal grill over a gas grill if you’re looking to add some serious flavor to your meats. While a gas grill is, by far, easier to use, mastering the charcoal grill will allow you to truly enjoy the foods you cook— not just for the fact that you mastered the charcoal grill, but also because it just tastes so darn good.

 

Marinade is your best friend: Marinade is to meat like frosting is to cake—  depending on the flavor, you’re going to enjoy a different flavor and texture experience. For tough cuts of meat, soak in the marinade overnight (in the refrigerator); more tender cuts of meat will only need about two hours (but should also be kept in the fridge during this process). If you need a little bit of help creating your own marinade, check out our “Make Your Own Marinade” post here!

 

Find some good wood chips: Another way to make the flavor of your meat really unique is to smoke it with some wood chips. Find your wood chunks and soak them for about 15 minutes in some water so that they won’t burn when you add them to the coals. Preheat the grill, add the wood on top of the charcoal, and then start cooking your meat. Make sure to keep the grill lid on as much as possible during this process to encapsulate as much of the flavor as possible (if there is too much airflow, the taste will not be as good).

 

Note: Eventually the wood chips will dry up and burn, so make sure you have enough to last the duration of your grilling session— especially if that session happens to be a long one!

 

Using wood chips on a gas grill: You’ll need a wood chip smoker box— this will maximize airflow and sit right on top of the grill grate right along with your meat.

 

Some of our favorite pairings:

  • Cedar with fish
  • Applewood with pork
  • Mesquite with chicken
  • Cherry with beef

 

Send-off: Note that you can use wood chunks in lieu of marinade, OR you can use both. Pairing a delicious wood-smoked flavor with the perfect marinade is just another way to become a master of the grill. We hope your grilling season is off to a great start and that you have many more adventures coming your way this summer— we know your grilled masterpieces will be the stars of the show in the months to come! Enjoy!

The Ultimate Mother’s Day Brunch

Roma 05.12

You know how much Italians love their mothers. They are sources of inspiration— as they are strong, generous, caring, and compassionate, just to name a few traits. They’ve cooked for you, cleaned up after you, raised you, comforted you. To all of the mothers out there, thank you; and we hope that this Mother’s Day, you feel truly loved and appreciated.

No matter who you are, making this Mother’s Day extra-special is easy with the right supplies. All amazing days begin with a great meal— so make sure this Sunday is the same! Read on for the ultimate Mother’s Day brunch dish, plus a few additional tips to spruce up the morning.

  1. Give the house (especially the kitchen) a brief cleaning— nothing too serious; just enough to make sure that no mother thinks it’s something she needs to take care of today.
  2. Prepare the perfect brunch, with favorites of the mother(s) you’re celebrating today: Coffee, orange juice, perhaps some champagne, potatoes, fruit, meat, and our extra-special French toast (see recipe below!).
  3. Assemble a crew to clean up after brunch. Don’t let the any mom in your life lay a finger on the dishes!
  4. Whatever your celebration may be, be sure to end it with a thank you to all the special mothers in your life; and remember: Mother’s Day lasts the whole day, not just those few brunch hours.

 

Ultimate Cannoli French Toast:

What You’ll Need (Serves 4):

  • 2 c. ricotta cheese
  • ½ c powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅔ c semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ c heavy cream/milk
  • 8 slices of French bread
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • Powdered sugar and sliced strawberries for serving

Directions:

  • Combine ricotta, powdered sugar, vanilla, and chocolate chips. Set aside.
    (Tip: To save even more time, grab some of our premade mascarpone filling!)
  • Whisk eggs and cream/milk in a pie dish.
  • Spread about ½ cup mascarpone mix onto four slices of bread. Top each with the other slice of bread and squish together a little.
  • Dip each side of the sandwich into the egg/cream mixture (they should be well-coated).
  • Melt butter in a large skillet and fry each sandwich until golden-brown on both sides.
  • Slice each sandwich into two triangles, transfer to a serving plate, and dust with powdered sugar before serving— serve with a bowl of sliced strawberries.

BREAKING NEWS! New Sammich of the Week Menu!

Our new Sammich of the Week menu features delicious, unique, carefully curated choices that you’ll fall in love with all over again. Stay tuned— the new rotation begins May 8th!

Roma's Specials Graphics (Sammich, Dinners)

 

Chef Dave’s Famous Philly Steak or Chicken Sandwich: Choice shaved eye round or sliced natural chicken breast, peppers, onions, and Land O’ Lakes American on a torpedo roll. $7.95

Turkey Club: Roasted in-store turkey breast, Finlandia Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, bacon, and Russian dressing on wheat or rye bread. $7.75

Good Old Italian Mix: Genoa salami, lean cap, pepperoni, provolone, lettuce, tomato, onion, and choice of roasted red, hot chopped, or banana peppers. $7.50

Italian Bologna: Mortadella with pistachio, sharp provolone, lettuce, tomato, onion, choice of roasted red, hot chopped, or banana peppers, and Italian dressing. $7.25

American Mix: Baked ham, roast beef, roasted turkey breast, Land O’Lakes American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and spicy mustard on a hard roll. $6.50

Black Pepper Ham: Boar’s Head black pepper ham, sharp provolone, lettuce, tomato, onion, choice of roasted red, hot chopped, or banana peppers, and Italian dressing. $7.75

Molinari Special: Fennel salami, dry salami, Tuscan salami, sharp provolone, lettuce, tomato, onion, and Italian dressing. $7.25

Chef Dave’s Roma Panini: Parma prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, tomato, and fresh basil on a toasted focaccia roll. $7.95

Roma’s Tips for Outdoor Dining

Roma 04.28

 

With spring finally in full swing and plenty of reasons to celebrate on the horizon, the itch to get outside and enjoy the nice weather is stronger than ever. For many of us, maximizing our time outdoors can mean taking the things we would normally do inside out into the backyard or the local park— and of course, this means bringing our meals outdoors as well. Whether you’re setting up for a small picnic or a barbeque bash, read on for a few of our tips to make your outdoor dining experience a little easier!

  • Stay hydrated by bringing plenty of water with you. This isn’t just for your health; it will help to keep you and your guests happy and enjoying each other’s company longer! There’s nothing worse than enduring a dehydration headache while trying to enjoy a gathering of friends and family.
  • Sunscreen is a lifesaver— especially on those sunny days. Be sure to slather it on regularly to avoid that awful skin-prickling burn!
  • If you’re in the backyard, set up an umbrella over your table for shade and put cushions on the seats to keep your guests comfortable (and to keep legs from sticking to chairs in these ever-rising temperatures!)
  • If you don’t have access to a refrigerator, keep in mind the duration of your excursion and the temperature that day. Perishable foods shouldn’t be left out for more than an hour or so, especially in hot weather, so if you’re planning on being out for a while, be sure to bring plenty of ice and insulated coolers!
  • Be sure to have covers for the food to keep bees, other insects, and any wind-blown debris out of it! This can also lock in coolness depending on the material used in the container. Try not to bring anything that will shatter to avoid an accident ruining the day!
  • Keep the food simple. We’ve mentioned this as a picnic tip before, but it holds true no matter what your outdoor excursion is. Foods that are easily contained and easy to serve are the best options in outdoor scenarios, but don’t look at this as a limitation— your outdoor dining experience can still be scrumptious and include variations of your favorites!
  • Blankets and cushions are necessities if your intentions are to have a picnic on the ground. If you have a picnic table available to you, set the food here to keep ground-dwelling critters and insects from bothering you.
  • To avoid bees and other insects, first tip: find a spot that isn’t near a trash can. You can also set out mothballs near your setup area to keep them away— mothballs act as a stinky natural repellent to insects. To double up on your security measures (because there is nothing worse than having your picnic ruined by pests), you can create a concoction out of sugar, vinegar, water, and a chopped up banana peel inside of a 2-liter soda bottle, and hang it from a tree a little ways away from your site. This will get their attention and keep them from bothering you and your company! Mint is also a natural bee repellent, so by sprinkling mint leaves around the food and your picnic area, you can ward them off.

We hope you’re as thrilled about the return of the warm weather as we are. There is nothing sweeter than an outdoor gathering with all of your favorite people. Wishing you a beautiful spring— we’ll see you the next time you stop in for your picnicking needs!

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Roma Recipes: Easter Bread!

Roma 04.2017

Every holiday that comes around brings with it a recipe or two that we just can’t wait to dig into— and we suppose that’s what makes food so special. It has the power to remind us of a certain time or place; evoking cherished memories of family, friends, and the best of times gathered around a table sharing life’s greatest gift— togetherness. Times change, but these memories (and the treasured recipes!) are something we hold dear always. One such recipe for us is Easter bread— and we’re leaking it to our beloved Roma’s fanatics because we just couldn’t wait to share. What are some of your favorite holiday recipes? Send them to latham@romafoods.com for a chance to have them featured in our Customer Cookbook before we publish it!

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 package rapid-rise yeast
  • 1.25 cups scalded milk (cooled to room temperature)
  • A dash of salt
  • ⅓ c softened butter
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • ½ c sugar
  • 3.5 c flour
  • 1 beaten egg for wash (mixed with 1 tsp water)
  • 6 dyed Easter eggs (unboiled)
  • Sprinkles

 

Directions:

  • In mixing bowl, combine yeast, milk, salt, butter, eggs, sugar, and half the flour. Mix thoroughly— use a dough hook if you have one!
  • Add remaining flour a little at a time and mix until a stiff dough forms (just keep adding flour until dough is no longer sticky)
  • Knead until smooth, place in greased bowl on countertop and cover to allow to rise for about an hour— dough should double in size.
  • Punch dough down and divide into 12 equal sections, pulling until they form ropes that are about an inch thick and 14 inches in length.
  • Using two ropes, twist into a braided dough rope, then pinch the ends together to form a circle.
  • Place on greased baking sheet and brush with egg wash. Top with sprinkles and add an egg into the center of each.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, keeping watch not to burn, then allow to cool on rack. Enjoy!

Make Your Own Marinade

Roma 03.2017

Grilling season is upon us. You can literally smell it in the air as you peruse the neighborhoods of the Capital Region. While these warm days may be fleeting now, we know that higher temperatures are on the way— and so, here we are. To help you prepare for all of your grilling pleasures, we’ve created a guide to creating your own marinade, plus tips on maximizing the flavor— because often times, the marinade makes the meat. You might have a go-to marinade that you prefer to use, whether it be a simple Italian dressing or a mixture you throw together on the fly; but this guide will help you realize just how creative you can get with your marinades and maximize your grilling enjoyment. Have fun!

 

What You’ll Need:

 

Some type of acidic liquid, such as vinegar, wine, lemon, lime, or orange juice.
Why? The acidic pH helps to tenderize the meat; and using an acidic component in your marinade can help to reduce the amount of carcinogens that could otherwise be created in the food when cooking over an open flame.

 

Oil such as olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, or safflower oil.
Why? Oils help to lock moisture into the meat to prevent it from drying out while it grills, and the healthy fats from EVOO can replace some of the less-healthy animal fat that will leak out during the cooking process.

 

Spices and herbs such as oregano, black pepper, onion and garlic powder— or whatever your heart desires.

Why? Well, all of the oil and acid is getting into your meat, helping it to cook better and enhance the flavor— the spices will do the same thing, seeping into the cut and giving it a delicious taste. The seasoning aspect of the marinade allows for you to get really creative. You can incorporate whatever spices you’d like, taking care to pair the flavors the way you might in any other dish.

 

A pinch of salt

Why? A pinch of salt will help to enhance the flavor and bring out more juices in the meat. You don’t need to use a lot of salt— a little will go a long way.

 

Additional Tips for Marinating:

  • Taste your marinade before you pour it over your meat to make sure you like the flavor.
  • Pierce the meat with a fork to allow the marinade to soak into the meat.
  • Use glass or plastic as your marinating vessel— aluminum may react to the acid in the marinade.
  • Cover and let marinate in the fridge, where the meat will not get too warm and form illness-causing bacteria.
  • You can use marinades on vegetables and tofu as well, so there’s really no limit to what you can do with your new creations!
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How to Get Rid of the Smell After Cooking Fish

Roma 03.2017

Cooking is a wonderful hobby that yields delicious results. Everyone wins— except for when the odor of whatever you cooked lingers for longer than you bargained for. If you’re observing Lent, you might be cooking a lot more fish and seafood than you would on a normal basis. Don’t worry– even if you’re observing the tradition, your home doesn’t have to let on. Read on for a few of our tips on how to get rid of the fishy smell and enjoy your seafood meal even more than you already do.

Open the Windows:
Give the gross smells a place to escape. It also helps to keep the fan over the stove on, if you have one!

Brew Some Coffee:
Just like when you smell cologne at a department store, where they conveniently keep coffee beans on hand to cleanse your nostrils, coffee can help to wipe the smell of fish out of your kitchen. It’s a pleasant aroma that will mask the not-so-pleasant ones, without overpowering or creating funky smells in the process.

Vinegar:
Keep a bowl of vinegar on the stove once you’ve finished cooking to absorb the smell. This is an easy and natural way to get the smell out, but it helps if you like the smell of vinegar (at least, more so than the smell of fish!).

Candles and Air Fresheners:
Burning candles or spraying an aromatic air freshener is a quick way to get the fishy smell out of the kitchen or dining room without having to wait very long. Just make sure none of your guests (if you’re entertaining) have adverse reactions to the strong floral or fruity smells!

Get the Grill Out…
You know how we love grilling… If you’re really quite opposed to having the smell of fish indoors, the easiest way to avoid it is to cook outside. There are plenty of fish and seafood options that cook well on the grill (read one of our other blogs on the best grilling fish here!).

Easy Meatless Meals

Roma 02.24

Whether you’re observing Lent (March 1st through April 13th this year) or just want to experiment with options for meat-free meals, Roma’s can help. We proudly carry the freshest produce and seafood selection in the area— which means your dishes will be healthy and oh-so-flavorful. Planning meatless meals is a fun way to spice things up in your kitchen, and you can still get all of the nutrients you need from a meal that doesn’t have meat. Though many choose to eat seafood during Lent, there are just as many meal options that don’t include seafood. Here are a few of our ideas for meatless meals that you can make at home:

– Soups and chilis made with beans or squash
– Eggplant parmesan (Also sold pre-made at Roma’s!)
– Shrimp scampi
– Linguini with clam sauce
– Clam chowder: Make a meatless version like this one from Food Network.
– A big salad packed with all of your favorite (non-meat) toppings
– Grilled fish with a side of grilled vegetables (it’s asparagus season!)
– Pasta dishes with meatless marinara or alfredo sauce
– Grilled cheese sandwiches: Super quick and easy if you’re in a pinch, and you can use as many different kinds of cheese as you’d like. Muenster makes a great grilled cheese.

If you’re concerned about your protein intake throughout the course of Lent, experiment with protein-rich grains and legumes in your recipes, and be sure to incorporate seafood where possible. There are plenty of plant-based protein sources that will help supplement the protein you get from seafood, so you can stay healthy and energized during Lent.

Be sure to chat with our staff if you need any assistance finding what you need in the store (or if you need more meatless meal ideas!). And if you encounter a Friday where you just don’t feel like cooking, call ahead and place an order for our Lenten specials!

Roma Lent

The History of Saint Valentine

Roma 02.2017

Valentine’s Day is a joyful holiday that instils feelings of love and gratitude for all; not just those who are celebrating with their partner. Amidst the candy hearts, cards, chocolate boxes, stuffed animals, and pink-and-red decor that fill up all of the local grocery and department stores, the history of Valentine’s Day is often forgotten. We’ve compiled a brief recollection of the ancient history surrounding the day of Saint Valentine just in case you’d like to learn more!

 

While the history of Valentine’s Day is shrouded in dark mystery, there are certain things that seem to be reliable. It seems that the Valentine’s Day as we know it, full of gentle pink hearts and candy, evolved from an ancient Roman celebration of Lupercalia– a festival of fertility in honor of the Roman god Lupercus (also known as Faunus, or Pan in Greek history). In this festival, which originally took place on February 15th, some interesting ancient Roman traditions were carried out and love matches were found. Somewhere along the line, several men by the name of Valentine were executed under Roman orders.

 

The holiday itself is named after Saint Valentine of Rome, who was imprisoned and later executed for performing marriages for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for spreading Christianity throughout Rome, as Christianity was persecuted under the Roman empire. While various sources offer different accounts of the legend, they all seem to include that Valentine wrote a farewell letter to the daughter of the man who imprisoned him prior to his execution, signing it “Your Valentine”— thus coining the expression we use on the holiday to this day!
Since the ancient Roman times, the holiday has seen much evolution. As courtship became increasingly popular throughout the ages, gifts of candies, flowers, and even keys (to unlock the giver’s heart) were exchanged in the celebrating countries. We here at Roma’s still think that nothing beats a home cooked meal for your sweetheart.

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