Mozzarella Carrozza, My Childhood Memories of a Italian Grill Cheese!

1 Jul

Here it is Monday afternoon and I’m having flashbacks of my childhood!  You see growing up, my late mother Gilda was a registered nurse and anytime there was a holiday or new baby on it’s way, her and co-workers would celebrate at the hospital where she worked!

They would celebrate by bringing in dishes and this is how I began my love affair of all types of foods! You see the staff was from all different nationalities, which was just wonderful for me!  For my Mom would bring some of the dishes home! I remember, Ms. Helga – she’d introduced me to Swedish meatballs, while Ms. Kim always sent cold noodles with that special sesame taste  my way!

These memories just triggered my ultimate favorite… Ms. Marcello’s Italian grilled cheese sandwich! I will never forget my first taste of it!  You see my Mom worked the night shift; 11 PM to 6 AM which left her to catch up on errands after work and see me off to school.  This one particular day in the Fall, there was no school – so that meant I had to go with her.

So what the ladies would do was get together and meet once a month to talk about all the things that they couldn’t discuss while at the hospital.  So this time, my no school day so happened to fall on the day of one of their get togethers.

I knew it was different – because my Mom stopped to get two boxes of  Entenmann’s coffee cakes, about three to four of those little apple pies in the red & white  box that I only saw when company was over at my house and a big tin can of Chock Full of Nuts coffee!

My Mom announced that we were going to Ms. Marcello’s house for a while and I’d received the orders right there in the car!

  • Be quiet!
  • Don’t touch anything!  < she said it about five times>
  • Read this book (Aladdin) and read it very slowly, for I was going to get a test.
  • If you’re offered something to eat, take one and the rest of the stay, you say no thank you (you’ll eat later!).

When we arrived, they all were surprised to see me where I got a lot of hugs, cheek pinching and kisses.  I remember the attention was great and within seconds I was given my area in the sun room to sit and be quiet; while they all huddled in the dining room and began making their spread of all the items each of them brought.

I knew the coffee was brewing, for the smell was strong throughout the house.  Then I heard all of their hearty laughing, all followed by soft whispering and then the laughing started again.   I remembered that I’d better get to reading my book, for a quiz was  on it’s way.  Engrossed in my book, all of a sudden I smelled this wonderful scent in the house, I didn’t know what it was – but I knew that quite possibly they all were going to start eating and something was coming my way soon!

You know when you get that wonderful smell and then it awakes your stomach, which makes you even more hungry.  Although I knew my Mom told me to be quiet; I couldn’t wait!  Well,  I had inched my way all the way to the dining room and Ms. Marcello said “Letia, I was just coming to you with a sandwich! Be careful, it’s hot!”

Mozzarella Carrozza - Italian Grill Cheese Sandwich

Mozzarella Carrozza – Italian Grill Cheese Sandwich

So, I went back to the sun room with the sandwich and it smelled absolutely wonderfully!  I’d remembered taking a bite and retreating because it was so hot and noticed all the steaming white cheese inside!  Blowing hard to cool it, then I took the ultimate bite and was in heaven!

I ate the whole thing, returned back to the dining room and before I could even think of what I was saying, I said ” Ms. Marcello that sandwich was so good, can I have another one!”  She replied with a YES! When I’d looked my Mom’s way, she had that look of  “What are you doing? Didn’t I tell you….””  Ms. Marcello must have looked her way too,  for the next thing  she said was “Gilda, let the child eat! Come in the kitchen and let me show you how to make these grilled cheese sandwiches the Italian way!  You can make it for Letia at home, when ever she wants.”

Before I knew it, all the ladies were in the kitchen making sandwiches.  Sometimes stopping to spell words of their conversation <which I knew kinda of what they were saying, I was a good speller>.  In the kitchen, there were balls of cheese, which I now know it was mozzarella, bread and a pot of oil!  Boy oh Boy, sandwiches were just a coming and I became the taste tester!  I was so full…. that I thought I was going to bust! I couldn’t even imagine being anywhere else, but right there!    Before you knew it, the time had flown by and it was getting late.

So my Mom saved two sandwiches and wrapped them in a napkin (so it kept it’s crust) and we were getting ready to leave.  I’d remembered that I hugged Ms. Marcello so hard, she thought she was going to stop breathing!   I had such a good time!   My Mom and Ms. Marcello were such good friends and for a very long time.  I’d remember she even helped me to get a job while I was in High school and would always tell me, you make sure you always  get your cheese fresh!   She was a very nice, lovable woman!

So today, happily I’m wanting a good Italian grilled cheese sandwich and when I look around – most restaurants don’t make them.  So this evening, I am going to make about three to four sandwiches and dedicate them to my Mom and Ms. Marcello!

I did find a recipe by Nigella Lawson of Nigella Bites which matches what I closely remember the preparation on that wonderful day in the Fall.    I’d loved sharing my childhood memories with you!  If you have some, please share too! So I’m off to get some fresh cheese and fresh baked bread!

So this recipe is a classic Italian dish which gives a rise to a fried mozzarella. Bread slices are pressed around mozzarella cheese, floured, dipped in egg, then deep-fried.  I am going add just a twist and put some prosciutto! Yummy!  Still have questions, a video is down below!

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices white bread, crusts removed
  • 1 fist-sized ball mozzarella, cut into approximately 1/4-inch slices, then strips
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil (not extra-virgin) for frying

Preparation:

Make sandwiches out of the bread and mozzarella, leaving a little margin around the edges unfilled with cheese, and press the edges together with your fingers to help seal. (One of the advantages of soft white bread is that it is easily smushed together.) Pour the milk into one soup bowl, the flour into another, and beat the egg with salt and pepper in another. Warm the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Dunk the sandwiches briefly, one by one, in the milk, then dredge in the flour, then dip in the beaten egg. Fry in hot oil on each side till crisp and golden and remove to a paper towel. Cut in half and apply to face. Yield: 2 servings.

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Letia Mitchell LifeStyle & DesignLetia 🙂

Recipe source from: Nigella Bites by Nigella Lawson (Hyperion), Food Network

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