Montecito Restaurant Find
When ever I head up to Montecito in California where I live I always stop at my favorite restaurant Trattoria Mollie. It is one of my all time favorite places to dine. On many occasions I drive up there to have lunch or dinner with friends. I’m so fortunate that it’s only an hour drive from where I live.
Mollie was born in Mekele, a small town in Ethiopia that Italy once occupied that had many Italian immigrants. It is there that her passion for Italian food was born.
The moment you walk into the restaurant, Mollie greets you with her melodious booming voice and warm inviting smile making you feel right at home.
She is a tiny beautiful woman with a huge personality and you can’t help but get caught up in her passion for food and life.
I love Mollie and the outstanding Italian food she serves from her heart. The dishes are reminiscent of the clean and vibrant flavors of my Nona’s food while I was growing up. It also reminds me of the dining experience you have in Italy where you enjoy the local bounty of fruits and vegetables fresh from market to table.
The fish is ocean fresh, the salad outstanding, the pasta and risotto is to die, and her meatballs are legendary!
I LOVE “Mollies Meatballs”! These are so fantastic they were featured in Oprah”s magazine and on the TV show!
Here is the recipe for the meatballs directly from her cookbook, “PRIMI PIATTI” by Mollie Ahlstrand!
2 cups vegetable oil
1 pound hot Italian turkey sausage, removed from its casings
12 ounces fresh breadcrumbs, divided
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons whipping cream
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley,
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Ground white pepper
3 tablespoons raisins loosely packed
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2/3 cups shallots, chopped
1 tablespoon brandy
6 cups of your favorite tomato sauce. If you buy the book the sauce recipe is included. I double the recipe it’s so good.
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the vegetable oil in a deep fryer or large heavy pot and heat to 400 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the sausage,
2 ounces breadcrumbs,
2 ounces Parmesan cheese,
2 tablespoons cream,
1 tablespoon Italian parsley,
pinch crushed red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Gently mix together to distribute seasonings. Add the raisins and mix again. Shape the meat into meatballs slightly smaller than a golf ball. Set aside.
Place the flour in a shallow bowl. In another bowl, beat four eggs. In a third bowl, place the remaining breadcrumbs.
Roll the meatballs in the flour, dip them into the egg wash, then roll them in the breadcrumbs, coating them evenly.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs to the deep fry and fry until golden, about one minute.
Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain the meatballs on a paper towel-lined plate.
In a large ovenproof saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and shallots, and sauté until golden.
Stir in a pinch of red pepper, add the brandy and cook 1 to 2 minuets more.
Add the tomato sauce and transfer the meatballs into the pan, covering them with sauce.
Put the pan into the oven and cook until the meatballs are cooked through. About 20 minutes.
Garnish the meatballs with the remaining tablespoon of parsley, the oregano and Parmesan cheese.
Serve promptly, alone or mixed with the pasta
F: Cristina Ferrare
I: Cristina Cooks
P: Cristina Ferrare