Tuesday, January 13, 2009


My daughter has been sick for a week, suffering with a terrible flu virus, (and she had the flu shot this year!), which is one of the reasons I have not been good about visiting blogs or answering comments for awhile, and for which I apologize. I have been giving her a hand, and took her to the doctor yesterday, and she's starting to feel a little better today. I told her that when she's feeling stronger I'll make manicotti for her, which I know will be more of a "pick me up and cure all" for her than the traditional pot of chicken soup could ever be!

Light, soft, delicious little crepes filled with a creamy firm mixture of ricotta/ mozzarella/ Romano cheese and smothered in a rich tomato sauce, manicotti are my family's favorite celebratory pasta dish. I make them for holidays, when company is coming, or as a special birthday treat. They are actually easier to make than lasagna and, in my opinion, even tastier!

My recipe comes from this 1968 slim paperback cookbook, which was once given away for free by the then Brooklyn, NY based Pollio Dairy Products Corporation, makers of fine Italian cheese products. As a young bride in the early seventies, eager to prove that I could replicate the wonderful dishes my in-laws made, it became my favorite cookbook, as it is filled with many authentic recipes from appetizers to sauces, main courses, and desserts.

The Pollio recipe, or the Polly-O as the family name was commercially presented, has two versions -- the traditional pasta shell made by making a dough that is rolled out and kneaded and cut into sheets, then dried and cooked in boiling water -- or the second version, which is the one I have been using for over 30 years, and which my in-laws and all the Italian families that I know who have been making them use, which is a simple batter, cooked in a pan like a crepe.

The recipe for the quick batter:

1 cup flour

1 cup milk

1 egg beaten

1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir milk gradually with the flour until smooth. Add, stirring constantly, the beaten egg to which the salt has been added. As you can see in the photo above the batter is somewhat thin in consistency.

Next, brush a 6-inch frying pan with olive oil, vegetable oil, lard, or butter.

This is the pan I use in the photo below, which is a treasured little old fashioned "Wear-Ever" brand aluminum pan, well-loved, and used to make a lot of little crepes over the years. I will pass this pan down to my daughter one day as a family heirloom. It is a little smaller than 6 inches, so instead of making the usual 8 - 9 manicotti shells the recipe above, it makes close to, or a little over, a dozen smaller ones a size which we find just perfect.
My in-laws have used the same size pan to make their manicotti, so it has been a matter of family preference, which is probably how most recipes become individualized over time, and which is also what makes them so special, as no one makes them exactly the same which becomes part of the charm.

I always use a small dab of butter in the pan, which I feel adds to the good taste of the crepe. It takes a little practice to have the pan hot but not overly so that the butter does not burn, so the crepe does get too browned in appearance. It doesn't affect the taste if it happens, but they look nicer if they cook without brown spots.

Add the right amount of batter to the pan, after the butter melts.

A quick swirl of the batter to cover the pan bottom evenly and then, as soon as it sets, a quick flip over with a small spatula or fork until the crepe is set on both sides, as you can see in the photo below. They cook very fast and need your full attention.

Repeat, until all the batter is used. I have a platter nearby where I flip them out onto, as you can see in the photo below.

My platter of completed manicotti "shells" or crepes.

Next, I prepare the filling:

2 eggs, beaten lightly

1 1/2 pounds of Polly-O ricotta

1/2 pound of Polly-O mozzarella, cubed, grated or in slivers

1/3 cup Polly-O grated Romano or Parmesan Cheese

Salt & Pepper to taste -- I add just a little to the beaten eggs

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Blend all ingredients of filling together until mixed.

Prepare baking pan by covering the bottom liberally with tomato sauce. In each crepe add around a two tablespoon dollop of filling in the center and bring the sides over, so they overlap to hold the filling in and lay side by side in the dish. See the photo below.

Continue until all manicotti crepe shells are used. It may take a few times before your eye will know not to end up with too much filling or too many shells, but it usually works out evenly. Ladle tomato sauce over the middle of the shells as seen below.

I then sprinkle grated mozzarella and grated cheese over the sauce. The manicotti can be frozen at this time, covered well with aluminum foil. Bring to room temperature before cooking, if frozen.

Bake in a hot, 400 degrees F oven 10 to 15 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and hot. Let stand about 5 - 10 minutes and serve, with extra sauce and grated cheese available.

As a pasta first course we usually have two manicotti, and then I serve the meatballs, or another meat that I've prepared, and vegetables.
If they will be the entire entree, then three of four are easily consumed, which is why we like them prepared in a smaller size.

I hope you'll try them!

Buon Appetito!


Anonymous said...

That looks so yummy! Especially because you make your own crepes to put the filling in!

Our favorite place to eat in NYC is Little Italy....we go there as soon as we arrive for our favorite food - Italian food. It has kind of spoiled us, because we don't think we can get food that good and authentic anywhere else.

Thanks for the recipe and I hope your daughter feels better soon :-)

Kathy said...

Happy belated Pink Saturday Pat, I Hope your daughter is feeling better today and I wish her a speedy recovery, both my two have had this nasy flu bug this year and it is worrying to see them so down. Talking of down I think I may be getting a bug, please can you send some of that delicious Manicotti to me I am sure it will help me recover quickly
(Big Smiles) Kathy.

Anonymous said...

Hi I love your blog & am so glad I found it!
My dream is to move to New York City one of these days...but in the meantime, I browse gorgeous blogs and - well - dream!
These crepes look amazing, sooo yummy!

Barb said...

Hi, love your blog wish I was close to come by for dinner it looks so good.I can tell you are a wonderful cook,also your grandson is so cute.Hope your daughter gets well soon......Barb

Vee said...

Oh wow...may I come eat at your house? I don't believe that I've ever had the pleasure of eating manicotti and I really would like to give this a try. I'll snag the recipe just in case someday I feel that I can possibly succeed.

So glad that your dd is feeling better today. The promise of manicotti should go a long way toward rapid recovery.

Willow said...

I'm drooling all over the keyboard! The photos are wonderful and now I am hungry!

Eli said...

It is funny to read the name "manicotti", which in Italian means exactly what they seem to be: "muffs". I do them as you do, sometimes with your same crepes, sometimes with fresh pasta bought ready cut into sheets just to boil and fill. I just add some boiled spinach in the filling. We usually call them "stuffed cannelloni" and not "manicotti". It's really a wonderful recipe. Buon appetito from Italy!

Mmm said...

Oh that looks so so good. Yumm,

"I'll make manicotti for her, which I know will be more of a "pick me up and cure all" for her than the traditional pot of chicken soup could ever be!"

--Yes, taht would indeed be me too.

Tara said...

OK, Pat, you are more Italian than anyone! Don't these look delish!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Just like grandmas! I remember when I showed this book on my blog, you said you had one too! Now you are cooking from it! Wonderful, these old recipes are! Can't beat homemade manicotti! Brava! xox

Anonymous said...

Oh, Pat. These look so good. I'm drooling! And, I haven't had any lunch of dinner.

I hope your daughter is back to 100% soon.

Anonymous said...

oh, how delicious! i'd like some. hope she feels better real soon.


steviewren said...

My mouth is watering! I make Manicotti too and my family thinks it is good, but I am sure that there is no comparison to yours. I'm sorry your daughter has been so ill. I'm sure she will get better knowing you are cooking this dish for her.

I noticed the new pic of little Leo on your sidebar. What a cutie!

Unknown said...

wow..Pat, it's looks too yummy and I can imagine eating that now with all the cheese melting in my mouth!! We dont have this here and I am so tempted to try your recipe...am hungry already. Hope your daughter feels better soon.

Joanne Kennedy said...

OMG! I've never seen them made with the homemade crepes before.

You know I'm sick. Can you get on a plane and bring me some! LOL

OK no need. I really don't feel like eating anything right now but maybe next week....LOL


Lorrie said...

Oh Pat this looks so delicious--the perfect comfort food. I love your old cookbooks, I married in the '70s too and was anxious to learn to become a good cook. I'm a big fan of Polly-O ricotta cheese--it's the best!

I hope your daughter is feeling better, a week is a long time to be so sick. It's good you're nearby to lend a hand!

nanatrish said...

Pat, this looks absolutely wonderful. I have been eating lighter, but this looks so yummy. I'll bet it smells great cooking. I must say in my absence little Leo has grown so much. He is so cute!

Sue said...

Hi Pat...first i hope your daughter will be better real soon, so much for getting a flu shot..The Manicotti look amazing...I can't believe you make your own shells and I must make these this weekend...I just found my real French crepe pans in the basement so it's perfect timing...Thank you for such a wonderful recipe...are there any secret tips on them coming good??

Knitting Mania said...

Mmmmm your manicotti sure looks good, Pat!!! I've enjoyed all of Marie's Italian cooking too over at "Proud Italian Cook".

It's been awhile since I've been over to visit, nice to see what's happening in your blog world. Sure enjoyed watching NY on "New Year's Eve"!!! Great City, I was so fortunate to live there for two years back in the very early 70's when I was in school.

Happy New Year Pat!

Proud Italian Cook said...

Hi Pat, I'm craving your manicotti! I love your smaller ones, and the way you roll them like a cannoli! Nicely filled too!
Wow, that looks so good! Hope your daughter is feeling better by now.
BTW, Little Leo is soooo cute!

Anonymous said...

OMG!! I had no idea that REAL manicotti was fixed that way! I've always bought those boxes of "manicotti" shells (there's premade and hard as a rock and you boil them to soften em up!). My cooked manicotti always breaks before I get them stuffed--now I know a much better way to prepare that dish--thanks to YOU! Oh, my , that looks wonderful!

I hope your daughter is feeling better soon! My hubby and I have had some kind of crud for over a week--we're improving, but it's no fun!

Thanks for that great recipe and tutorial!!


The Quintessential Magpie said...

Pat, I hope your daughter is better when you read this! You are such a sweet, good mother! :-)

And that manicotti... oh, YUM! I could read your blog all day long.


Sheila :-)

Lisa's RetroStyle said...

Mmmm...mouth watering!

Judy said...

It may be late at night...but I would love a serving of that dish right about now. That looks wonderful...and I am going to try your recipe. I make crepes a lot...and why not try Italian 'crepes' rather than german ones for a change?

by Danie said...

Oh my, it looks so apetizing, I don't know if I will try them though, I heard about manicotti but never had one in my life, I must have miss something here.
I hope your daughter is geting better.
Here, at my daughter's life's been busy since the arrival of Gabrielle.

aliceinparis said...

You are a wonderful mom!!!
Comfort food and tender caring. xo

Edie Marie's Attic said...

Hi Pat!

Oh my stomach is rumbling just looking at your photos!! They look so incredible. And you make it look doable! I even have a crepe maker! I could actually make these awesome delights.

Have you ever posted how to make cannolis? Do you make them or buy them?

Big hugs, Sherry
( I think I gained a lb back just looking at your post!)

Bo said...

Hi Pat...oh, what a good mama/doctor you are...this dish could cure all ills I would think! Hopefully, your daughter is feeling better by now. I love seeing little Leo on your sidebar..
;-) Bo

Eli said...

Here I'm to thank you for your nice comment to my post. Yes, I live in Nothern Italy but not in the mountains. I live in Padana Plain close to Pavia, about km.50 south west of Milan. This is the reason why this snow was so extraordinary for us. Talk soon.

supplies overflowing! said...

oh- Pat, I hope your daughter is feeling better, and I WISH you would make that manicotti for me!

Alexandra MacVean said...

Hi Barb....sending get well wishes your way to your daughter. I hope she gets to feeling better real soon!!

Junie Moon said...

Pat, I hope your daughter recovers very soon, not a fun time at all for her.

Thank you so much for sharing your manicotti recipe and the how-to for making it. It looks and sounds ever so delicious. We had Baked Ziti last night that I'd made a couple of weeks ago. The recipe makes so much that I can freeze it in portions which saves time and money. Send me a note if you want a copy of the recipe, it's easy.

I love the Mascagni Pierto piece playing as I read your post today. It's beautiful.

By the way, I added an opportunity in NYC today as part of my blog post. If you play an instrument, you can audition to play at Carnegie Hall. It's open to anyone amateur or professional. I thought I'd mention it to you since you enjoy all the amazing offerins of your great city.

Anonymous said...

The vintage cookbook is so cute! Manicotti is definitely a pick-me-up; I loved when my mom made it for dinner when I lived back home :).

old world sunflower said...

Hi, I just want to tell you what an absolute pleasure your blog is, I also have a question about your manicotti, it is about the sauce, do you make your own or do you use purchased sauce, I want to make this tonight for dinner and I at least want it to look as delicious as yours does, Blessings, Diana

Michele said...


Melissa Miller said...

I love Italian food soooo much. DELICIOSO!
I hope your DIL gets well soon. :)

Kathy said...

Wow that looks so good. I love pasta of any kind but I've never made anything special except lasagne. What a surprise that would be if I pulled off manicotti!

Hope your daughter is feeling better and the baby is beautiful!

Thanks for following my blog!

Linda Lou said...

Pat, Manicotti is one of my old standby's -usually I make it for Christmas or Thanksgiving, and have had the same recipe since the 70's! I miss the Polly-O ricotta chesse, they don't have that brand out here. Its a crowd pleaser for sure, and it is sooooooo low-fat!!

Rhonda Hartis Smith said...

I'm so sorry your daughter is sick! I don't usually get flu shots but probably should. What a good mom to make homemade Manicotti! Gosh it sure looks good. . .ummmm ummmm good.

Lora @ my blessed life said...

Oh, this looks so good! I think I'm going to have to try this. I love Italian food and some of the best I've ever enjoyed was in NYC!

Anonymous said...

Pat, I just stopped by to say hello and that I hope your daughter is on the mend from her virus. I hop you do not get sick too.

Thanks for your visit today. I always love to hear from you.


Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Oh gosh, this looks so good. Your daughter is sure to improve soon if she's eating like this!!

You know, I've never had the flu in my whole like and I'm superstitious about flu shots. Crazy, but there you go. Hope she feels better soon. And Leo's one month photo is wonderful!

Fifi Flowers said...

YUM! You had me at Manicotti! May I please come over? That looks FAB! It is my FAB!

Marg said...

This looks so good and doable.
I need to try this dish...I think my family would love it.

Arlene Delloro said...

Manicotti are our holiday meal as well, Pat,though I haven't made the crepes in a few years. I've been using fresh pasta, cut into rectangles. I think the next time I'll do the crepes "for old time's sake." You're right that they are far easier than most people would think. I love ravioli, but manicotti are so much easier to make for a crowd. I'd sure take them over a bowl of chicken soup, lol.

CatHerder said...

OMG i made the SAME THING last night...I have the SAME PAN that traveled here with grandma from Italy, its all bent up and black on the outside now though lol. The only differences in our recipes are, I use FOUR EGGS to the 1/1 mixture, and i put a tbsp of minced sweet garlic in the ricotta mixture. Thats so funny, i made the same thing last night..i should have taken a pic...i put the fresh buffalo mozzarella in it too..mmmm great on such a cold night..hope your daughter feels better

Unknown said...

That looks absoultely delicious.
You must be a wonderful cook. I hope your daughter continues to improve!

My son arrives in the Big Apple tonight. I have such mixed emotions...so happy for him but teary eyed this morning too!

Thanks for all the encouragement and help you've given!

Donna said...

Oh my gosh, that looks fabulous!

Hope your daughter is feeling better soon.


Wendy said...

Congrats on your beautiful grandson. I hope your daughter feels better soon. I'm sure the manicotti will help. Yum!

Gina said...

Looks rich and delish Pat! What a lovely Mum you are..do hope your daughter is feeling better very soon. Gx

Kathy said...

Pat little Leo is so adorable, I love all your sidebar photo's. re the hearts, just go to http://www.glitter-graphics.com/
click on "falling objects(new)" from the side menu, then just choose the ones you want and the speed and direction etc and then it will create a code for you, just cut and paste the code via customise-add a gadget- html/javascript from your blog. Let me know if you have any trouble, I have not explained this very well, I can always email you. have a wonderful day, hugs, Kathy

Kathy said...

ps Hope your daughter is feeling much better now, hugs Kathy

Kathy said...

Pat, I just tagged you, but only if you want to or have time and havent already been tagged, hugs, Kathy.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Dearest Pat,

I truly hope your daughter is feeling much better. I've had friends who have been in the ER with this, and they are young. Just wanted to come by and check on her and you. Sending lots of love your way...



Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Thank you everyone for all your nice comments! I do hope you try to make the manicotti someday --they are delicious!

I do make my own homemade marinara sauce to use when I make them, but you can use any sauce that you like.

Thankfully my daughter is feeling a lot better and has been able to go back to work.
Thanks so much for your care and concern!

Just A Girl said...

Oh Pat, my mouth is watering just thinking about it! Yours looks so delicious! Polly-O...I don't think they sell that brand here on the West Coast.

How is your daughter doing? I hope she's feeling better as well as your mother.?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your nice comment!
I hope your daughter is much better.
Take care

Darius T. Williams said...

I love this idea - looks great! and the crepes make this classic!

Anonymous said...

First time commenting on your blog, and so many things to say, so I just sent you a mail. I hope to hear from you soon.

Camille said...

This looks so yummy!!! I remember using Polly-O. It was the brand of choice in my home. Then I moved out of NJ. I've not seen it in one store since leaving NJ. (pout)

shreveeve said...

Oh Pat!! I had to get a napkin to wipe the drool off my face .. I cannot wait to get home to make these .. yummy!!

Unknown said...

Hey there! My name is Tara Pollio and I am wife of one of the 3 grandchildren of Pollio/POlly-o (all siblings)... I have many of these cookbooks and it is great to see that they are still being used! Polly-o sold to Kraft in 1985, but many of the photos in these books are of our family. This is a was a 4 generation business, my husband being the last.... but not long ago as he worked for polly-o for Kraft..

The cheese and italian cooking is such a part of this family and it is so cherished. Thank you!