Thursday, January 9, 2014

Mazzaro's Italian Market - St. Petersburg, FL

Two to four times per month, I stop at Mazzaro's Italian Market ( in St. Petersburg, Florida. It has lots of Italian goodies that I like. It is very easy and quick to reach from I-275. It's just about a mile west of Exit 24 of I-275. Among the items they carry are:
1. Fresh, homemade pasta, both plain and stuffed. The fresh pastas are made daily and change daily. Some examples are - ravioli filled with lobster or pumpkin or local wild boar or cheese or spinach and ricotta; manicotti, linguini, fettuccine.
2. A very large selection of dried pasta, including some difficult-to-find varieties.
3. Handmade pasta sauces
4. Handmade pizzas - ready to cook
5. A nice selection of olive oils and vinegars
6. A butcher section with beautiful meats, including their own sausages, meatloaf, etc., and seafood, some local.
7. A terrific cheese room staffed with cheese experts who are happy to help. They have many, many specialty cheeses from all over Europe and the U.S. This is where I have found several Tuscan pecorinos for a Tuscan dinner I prepared.
8. A very nice wine department with emphasis on Italian wines, but with many other international and domestic wines. The prices tend to be higher, but they have many wines that are difficult to find elsewhere. An example of a higher price is the Antinori Peppoli. They charge $26.99, but I can find it elsewhere for as low as $19.99. An example of a wine that's a bit different is the Sangue di Giuda (Blood of Judas), from northern Italy for $11.99. It's a slightly sparkling red wine that's a bit sweet. Normally, we don't care for that type of wine, but we like this one. They usually have a selection of decent, inexpensive wines like various Stemmari wines.
9. An excellent baked goods section with sinful desserts. My wife loves their tiramisu. They also carry a variety of breads and rolls baked there. I've tried a couple of the breads, but they don't excite me. One item I love is the chocolate-covered bacon, which they sell by the piece for $1.50. When I first heard about chocolate-covered bacon, I thought it sounded terrible. However, when I tried it at Mazzaro's, I was hooked.
10. A large deli and sandwich counter with a nice variety of prepared salads, sides, and entrées, and with sandwiches to order. They also carry lunch meats and cheeses, including San Daniele Prosciutto, Prosciutto di Parma, Serrano Ham, Pancetta, and a number of dried Italian sausages. Some items, such as stuffed rice balls (arancini) are hard to find elsewhere. I occasionally buy some of the salads or arancini.
11. A gelato section with about 10 types of gelato.
12. A nice coffee bar with a selection of fresh roasted coffee. They also carry a variety of coffee beans for $9.99 a pound.
13. A section with a wide variety of spices.
14. Seasonal Italian specialties such as a number of different brands of Panettone at Christmas time.

In another building on the property is Casa di Mazzaro, which carries culinary equipment, home décor, ceramics, etc. It's a nice place to look for a gift.

The address is 2909 22nd Ave N.

The hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mon-Fri, 10 to 2:30 on Sat, and closed Sun.

Tasty, Quick, & Easy Chicken provided me with yet another easy & tasty recipe - this one for chicken. Most home kitchens are likely to already have all of the ingredients except the chicken breast and perhaps the onion. About the only preparation that takes more than a few seconds is chopping the onion.

I found the recipe at

The recipe serves four. Since there were just the two of us, I used only two chicken breast halves. I didn't change the amounts of ingredients in the sauce recipe.


2 tbsps. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
3 tbsps. ketchup
2 tbsps. soy sauce
3 tbsps. sugar
2 tbsps. lemon juice
1 tsp. ground black pepper


Sauté onion in oil until translucent

Add chicken, and brown lightly

Combine ketchup, soy sauce, sugar, lemon juice, and pepper; mix well. Pour over chicken, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 25 to 35 minutes.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Modified Version of a Traditional Italian New Year's Eve Sausage & Lentil Entrée

As many of my posts reflect, I love authentic Italian food. At the last minute, I decided to try to find a traditional New Year's Eve entrée. I chose Cotechino con Lenticchie - Cotechino Sausage with Lentils. This is a main dish that is served at the big, traditional New Year's Eve dinner - the Cenone di Capodanno. The lentils represent coins - money that will come to the diners in the coming year.

The only problem was that I could not get to an Italian market to buy Cotechino, a salami-like sausage, (, so I substituted mild Italian sausage from Publix. The results were nice, but not authentic. We also fresh had grapes, another Italian New Year's food. Next New Year's Eve, I intend to try the real thing.

I found this recipe on -

This meal serves six, is very easy to make, and takes a little over an hour to prepare.

a. For the pot with the sausage
- 1 pound cotechino
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 whole black peppercorns
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 7 cups water
b. For the pot with lentils
- 1 pound dry green lentils
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 clove garlic (I used two)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large carrot, quartered
- salt and pepper to taste
c. For use on the plated food
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped

1. Pierce the cotechino with a fork in several places. In a large pot, place the cotechino, chopped onion, 1 bay leaf, peppercorns, and thyme. Cover with the 7 cups of water and bring all to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 45 to 50 minutes - if using fresh cotechino. For precooked cotechino, simmer for 20 minutes.

2. In another large pot, combine the lentils, quartered onion, garlic, bay leaf, carrot, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover with the 4 cups of water. Bring all to a boil; cover; reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, or until lentils are soft. Add additional water if necessary.

3. Remove and discard the onion, garlic, bay leaf, and carrot. Spoon the lentils into a serving dish, drizzle with olive oil, and slice rounds of the cotechino over the top. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley, and serve.