Pasta

Vintage Vittles #2: Rat Pack Meatballs & Sauce

Sometimes finding & figuring out a vintage recipe is like a treasure hunt. I found this one for “Mrs Frank Sinatra’s.. Spaghetti & Meatballs” via Pinterest. A few clicks later & I found out it was from the WFBL Cookbook of the Stars, made in 1945 by a radio station in Syracuse, NY that aired the Frank Sinatra Show (Wednesdays at 9PM according to the clipping). As a vintage cookbook collector, I will admit I’m geeking out slightly & would love to get my hands on a copy of this cookbook. I’ve located a 1941 edition which apparently contains a recipe by Ronald Reagan (in his acting days) on Etsy. Which is cool too, but alas no recipes by “Old Blue Eyes”.


This recipe, like many vintage recipes can be a little hard to follow for the cooks of today. Modern recipes are written assuming that their reader knows nothing about cooking. Every step is laid out in detail. While vintage recipes assume their reader knows their way around the kitchen a bit & leaves out a lot of minutia. 

It’s probably ridiculous, but I like to imagine Frank, with an apron over his well-tailored suit, whipping up meatballs, sauce, & spaghetti for Sammy, Dino, and the gang. They of course enjoy the meal with some fine red wine. And later cocktails, naturally. Hence the rename on this recipe…



Rat Pack Spaghetti & Meatballs

Ingredients: 

For the meatballs:

  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 C grated Italian cheese, (Parmesan is fine)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 C bread crumbs (I used Italian-style)
  • 1 tsp parsley, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt & black pepper, to taste

For the sauce:

  • 1 large can (28 oz) Italian-style tomatoes (I like to use crushed)
  • 1 small can tomato paste 
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped 
  • 1 tsp ground parsley
  • 1/2 C EVOO
  • a few shakes of thyme
  • Kosher salt & black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Make the meatballs. Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer. I used my medium Pampered Chef scoop (2 tbsp) to create 36 even-sized meatballs.
  3. Lay out the meatballs on a greased baking sheet. Cook for about 30 mins, rotating the pans at the 15 min mark for even cooking. 

    This is the only picture i managed to get of the meatballs before they were devoured by my teens.

     
  4. Meanwhile, start the sauce. In a large pot (it will need to be large enough for the sauce and the meatballs to fit into comfortably) heat the EVOO over med-high heat. Add the onion & garlic & cook until golden. 
  5. Add the tomatoes & tomato paste. Stir to combine. Fill the tomato paste can with water & add to the mixture, stirring frequently. If desired, add a tomato paste can full of dry red wine. This is my contribution, not Frank’s. 
  6. At this point, I used my hand blender to even out the sauce so that it had fewer chunks. Also, my contribution. Season with salt & pepper, thyme, and parsley. 
  7. There are 2 schools of thought with regard to meatballs & sauce. Simmer the meatballs with the sauce, or add the meatballs after the sauce simmers. Frank was a meatballs-in-the-sauce guy. Simmering your meatballs with the sauce will give it a greater depth & meatier flavor. Though opponents of this method argue that it can make the meatballs soggy. Per Frank, add your meatballs to the sauce & summer on medium-low heat for 1 hour.
  8. When you’re ready to serve, cook your spaghetti according to package instructions, drain well, and top with desired amount of sauce & meatballs. Top with grated Parmesan, if desired. 

For more vintage recipes check out my Pinterest board Vintage Vittles! 

Peanut Noodle Perfection

Tonight I perfected my peanut noodle game. My son was obsessing over these packaged “Thai” peanut noodles, so I did what any great mom would do: I found some recipes on Pinterest & attempted to recreate them at home. I ended up morphing together the aspects of each recipe that I liked and making a bit more of the sauce than either recipe called for. Both kids eat them, they are easy to make, & I typically have most of the ingredients on-hand, so I think these will be on heavy rotation until we tire of them. 

Perfect Peanut Noodles

makes enough noodles for 2 teens & one mom

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 oz package rice noodles
  • 1/4 C sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 C soy sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2/3 C peanut butter, half crunchy/half creamy works best
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • sesame seeds (to garnish)
  • green onions, finely chopped or minced chives (to garnish)

Instructions:

  1. Prepare rice noodles according to package directions. Most rice noodles don’t get “cooked” per se, the water is heated, and they are soaked off the heat for several minutes. 
  2. While your noodles are soaking, prepare your sauce. Combine all ingredients except garnish in a small bowl. No need to mix at this point, really. 
  3. Drain the noodles. While they are still warm, add the sauce and stir into the noodles with a rubber spatula. This is key. The noodles must be warm/hot when they receive the sauce or 1) the peanut butter will not melt and 2) the noodles will harden into a impenetrable rice-noodle mass. Trust me when I tell you that nobody wants that to happen. 
  4. Serve up the noodles in individual bowls. Top with sesame seeds and green onions or chives. 

Peanut Noodles? CRUSHED IT!