Tag Archives: home-made

Almost everyone loves pasta and Italian food. If you are Italian or know Italians, they claim to have the 'best sauce' ever. The reason for this is lies with their Mom or Nana. Chances are they learned from one another and the best ingredient in the best sauce are the hands that made them. We all gravitate to certain tastes in foods, and even more so in ethnic families.

What you've eaten all your life is delicious, comforting and 'the best' ever, no one's sauce comes close, even good Italian restaurants. Anthony's mother, down the street may make her sauce quite differently, and yes, to Anthony, hers is the 'best sauce' ever. Some Italians call spaghetti sauce, 'gravy'.

Nana Coppola made wonderful Italian recipes; she even taught cooking class at the parochial school. Her daughters try to emulate the 'best sauce ever' and their sauces are very similar and delicious. It is never exactly like Nana's, but what is missing are the hands, love and memories that she put into it. So, in her memory, here is Nana's recipe for the best sauce ever.


1 pound of chopped sirloin*  (*for variety, add pork chops, sausage or spare ribs)

Couple of cloves of chopped garlic

2 Tbsp. chopped onion

1 tsp. of fresh parsley or parsley flakes

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 cup flavored bread crumbs

3 Tbsp. milk

1 egg

2 tsp. grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Put above ingredients in bowl and mix well. Shape into meat balls. Cook in small amount of olive oil until well browned; place in large sauce pan or pot. Set aside.

In a large pot, add the next ingredients to the. browned meatballs and/or sausage:

1/2  small can of tomato paste.     Stir and add 1/2 Cup of water.

2 large cans of tomato sauce (two 28 oz. crushed or whole tomatoes) - Italian brands preferred.

1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes and/or basil leaf

1/4 teaspoon sugar**

salt and pepper  as desired

Cover and simmer for 1 to 1-1/2 hours.  Stir occasionally.

Prepare favorite pasta. Drain pasta and serve with sauce topped with grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.

New generations 'tweak' everything and here are some added suggestions:

1) *For healthy low-fat dieters, drain any excess fat from the meatball pan before adding tomaoes.   If  sausage is to be added, simmer the sausage prior for 10-15 minutes to rid of excess fat and then brown with the meatballs.

2) **In lieu of sugar added to the sauce, you can add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of red or white wine; this helps reduce acidity and helped prevent reflux.

3) For additional treat taste when serving, add a dollop of freshly made Sicilian ricotta cheese to the finished pasta when serving.  See my home-made ricotta cheese recipe:    http://expertistas.com/2012/11/19/how-to-make-home-made-delicious-ricotta-cheese/aboutme

Yums. Can you smell it?   It flavors the whole house!

©Marie Coppola July 2013



Once you make it yourself - you’ll never want the store-bought ricotta again.

A couple of times each year, we get together with friends and make a pot of ricotta for supper. We like to serve it over day-old French or crusty Italian bread cut up in cubed pieces. The freshly made ricotta over the bread will soak up any excess water.

The cheese will be creamy and light and delicious. We serve it with a salad or some fruit and a glass of wine. What a treat!

You can make homemade ravioli, manicotti, or lasagna with this ricotta and it will lend a gourmet taste compared to the store-bought ricotta. You can also make desserts with leftover ricotta — ie, cannoli - you can buy the fresh, empty already baked shells at Lowe’s Food stores or at a local Italian deli. There are different recipes for the delicious cream filling - some just add sugar. There are good recipes on the internet. Here is a simple sampling recipe and just make sure you fill them no more than one day before serving and refrigerate!

  Fresh cannoli ~ delivering a little taste of Sicily to your front door!


  1. 2 c. or 1 lb. ricotta cheese
  2. 1 c. sugar
  3. 1/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate bits
  4. 1 tsp. vanilla
  5. 1/2 c. candied cherries

Blend cheese and sugar until smooth. Add remaining ingredients. Put filling into cannoli shell by teaspoon. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

And now for the ricotta cheese-making part.

It’s not hard to make, and doesn’t take that long to do. In all, it takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. It’s important to assemble all the utensils you will use because timing and temperature are crucial to the results.   Enjoy!


  1. You will need a large stainless steel pot to mix in. You won’t need the cover.
  2. A long wooden spoon for stirring.
  3. A stainless slotted skimmer spoon for checking curds (see below)
  4. A long thermometer with degrees on it (similar to candy making thermometer) at least to 200 - 300 degrees. 


  1. One (1) gallon regular milk - not skim or not even 2%
  2. Two (2) pints of heavy cream
  3. 1-1/2 tsp salt
  4. 1/2 C of freshly-squeezed lem
  5. on juice - lemons must be fresh and accurately measured - about 3 - 5 lemons, depending on size

And so we begin:

  1.  Pour milk (only) into large pot on medium heat with heat thermometer on side of pot or attached
  2. Stir slowly and continuously (always in one direction - clockwise) with the wooden spoon
  3. When the milk gets to 100 degrees on the thermometer, (pot will start to sweat on the outside), add the heavy cream and salt - continuously stirring always with the wooden spoon.
  4. Continue stirring until temperature reaches 198 degrees - add lemon juice
  5. Stir only a few more times (3 times) and test curds should be forming when tested with flat slotted skimmer
  6. Turn off burner and remove pot from heat
  7. Allow mixture to settle for a minute or two
  8. Scoop out curds/cheese with slotted spoon into large dish - some drain the cheese through cheesecloth for a firmer ricotta; we prefer to leave some moisture in to keep it moist.

This cheese will last 3 - 4 days in the refrigerator. For breakfast, the ricotta is great on toast or served in a dish with fruit.

This recipe is for homemade SICILIAN RICOTTA SPONGECAKE http://www.make-stuff.com/cooking/spongecake.html

Copyright © Marie Coppola Revised November 2012