How about a hill in St. Louis and Charlie Guiteau’s toasted ravioli?
Just over a few weeks ago, time and good weather allowed for a return to our beloved State Street after finding a parking spot near Condon Jewelers where the hike would begin at noon the next day.
Dominic, a temporary employee, greeted me there with a smile while also sharing his life’s memories of being Italian as well and growing up in St. Louis. Suddenly our conversation turned from jewelry to Charlie Gitto’s restaurant in the Hill St. Louis neighborhood and its famous toasted ravioli.
Later, when I came home eager to learn more about the recipe, I opened up my St. Louis cookbooks and there they were, waiting to be discovered and shared with you, the readers!
For more than 40 years, Charlie Gitto’s has been one of the best Italian restaurants in St. Louis, described as a place for family gatherings, first dates and big celebrations. Located in the historic Italian neighborhood known as “The Hill,” Charlie Gitto exudes timeless charm and embodies the essence of Italian hospitality with talented chefs crafting homemade pastas full of vibrant flavours, authentic fresh seafood creations, and quality meat dishes. Signature toasted ravioli.
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Although the restaurant makes toasted ravioli using house-made pasta, here’s their legendary recipe and we hope Dominique will be on hand to enjoy this column.
St. Louis Toasted Ravioli
1 (1 lb) package frozen ravioli, thawed
2/3 to 1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
Shortening or oil for deep frying
1 cup spaghetti or pizza sauce
Beat the milk and eggs together. Dip the ravioli in the egg mixture, then cover it with breadcrumbs. Deep fry the ravioli, a few at a time, in 2-inch ghee at 350 degrees. Fry for 1 minute per side or until golden. Drain on paper towels. Keep the fried ravioli warm in a 300 degree oven while the rest of the ravioli cooks. Sprinkle with cheese and serve with warm sauce for dipping.
Here’s another exceptional Italian recipe that you can prepare and enjoy as a great breakfast or brunch, thanks to Mike Ribas, who shared a note at the end.
Potatoes with cheese and cherry tomatoes
1 ½ lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 and a half teaspoons dried oregano, divided
1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound cherry tomatoes, cut in half vertically
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, divided
Cayenne pepper for garnish
– Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Place the potatoes and onions in a large bowl with a teaspoon of oregano and a teaspoon of salt. Pour about 1/4 cup of oil over the mixture and stir until completely coated. Spread this mixture in the bottom of a large baking dish. In the same (now empty) bowl, combine the tomatoes, remaining oregano, salt, pepper, and half the cheese.
Drizzle with the remaining oil and toss until everything is coated. Distribute this mixture evenly over the potato/onion mixture. Dust evenly with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, until the potatoes are well cooked and peeled and all the liquid has evaporated. This will take 45 to 50 minutes. Lightly garnish with hot pepper and parsley.
NBAs for potatoes…to peel or not to peel, that is the question. Cook’s choice. To decorate, you may choose to do this before baking. Again, cook’s choice. To change the appearance, but not the flavor, cut the potatoes into cubes the size of a halved tomato. Once again… (you guessed it), the chef’s choice. Finally, try substituting a blend of 3 types of cheese for the Parmesan (Parmesan, Romano, Asiago). Ribas claims that this is a great breakfast or brunch meal.
With summer in the rear view, here’s a “better” recipe for barbecue beans shared by Better Homes and Gardens, describing them as having a “sweet, smoky flavor” when the pineapple and molasses are replaced with the familiar bacon and sugar we’ve enjoyed and appreciated for countless years in the past.
The best summer barbecue beans
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
1 red or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped (3/4 cup)
2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped (2 cups)
3 15- to 16-ounce cans of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
8 ounce can of pureed pineapple, undrained
1 tablespoon molasses or maple syrup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Coat a large pot with cooking spray. Heat over medium heat. Add onions and sweet peppers. Cook and stir for 5 minutes or until done. Add tomatoes, beans, tomato sauce, undrained pineapple, molasses, and Worcestershire sauce.
Bring to a boil. Reduce the temperature. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. a statement; Simmer for 10 minutes or until desired consistency.
Makes 10 servings of side dishes.
Here’s another recipe you’ll enjoy and appreciate forever.
Mama Don’s Meatballs
1 pound of ground beef, pork, or turkey
Half a cup of grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying
Combine all ingredients, except oil, and shape into balls. Heat oil in a large frying pan, and fry meatballs until browned on each side. Add to boiling sauce or serve as is.
What’s there for dessert? How about crunchy biscuits served with exceptional homemade ice cream?
Nanny White crispy potato chips
1 cup butter or ghee
1 ½ cup mashed potato chips
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
Beat the butter or ghee with the sugar and vanilla. Add crushed potato chips and chopped pecans. Sift in flour. Shape into small balls, using about a teaspoon of dough for each. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press the balls flat with the bottom of a cup dipped in sugar. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned. If desired, sprinkle with colored sugar crystals and top each cookie with a pecan half or candied cherry half. Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies.
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