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OUR GOOD COOKS 'Where everyone wants to be'

Published: Wed, May 9, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.

The first time this Youngstown woman cooked a pork chop, a knife broke on the results.



"I am writing to nominate my sister, Annette DePalmo, for the weekly Our Good Cooks column," wrote Cheryl Ciavarella of Brownlee Woods about her sister who lives on Youngstown's West Side.

"Growing up," Ciavarella continued, "I always wondered if anyone would ever marry my sister because she burned everything she cooked."

Not only is that no longer the case, but now, Ciavarella noted, "Annette's house is where everyone wants to be for holidays and special occasions." And when DePalmo's Yorkshire terriers, Winston and Aristotle, get to dine on gourmet fare, Ciavarella complains that "the leftovers don't go to the sister, they go to the dogs! Now, is that fair?"

DePalmo grew up in Struthers the third of four children and graduated from Struthers High School. A licensed realtor for Century 21, she and her husband, Angelo, have been married for six years. They moved into their house as newlyweds.

Inspiration: Marriage inspired an interest in cooking and soon she was taking gourmet cooking classes. She also loves to experiment in the kitchen and has learned some valuable lessons through trial and error.

In fact, DePalmo admitted, she's had her share of culinary misfortunes over the years. The first pork chop she ever prepared was so tough that the knife used to cut it broke. When she tried a new recipe for pepper steak, her husband commented as he ate, "It's good, but I wouldn't serve it to company."

"He's a very smart man," she observed.

DePalmo's favorite cuisine is the Italian that celebrates her heritage. At the moment she is looking forward to a continuing education course scheduled to begin in May. "It's with an Italian cook who apparently doesn't speak any English," she explained, then noted with confidence, "but that won't matter."

Cookbook: A few years ago, she decided to produce a cookbook of family recipes for distribution at the family reunion held each August. The hardest part of the project, she admitted, was getting people to turn in their recipes, but the result, which included a section on the family's history, has been greatly appreciated.

A self-professed Internet junkie (and one-time skydiver!), DePalmo laughed as she shared her dream of someday owning a lunch truck. "My day would start early, then I'd be done by 2 and I could go buy the groceries for the next day."

Here are a few of her family's favorite dishes:


46-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breasts

flour for dusting

3eggs, beaten

1teaspoon basil

1teaspoon parsley

salt & amp; pepper to taste

1/8cup lemon juice

1cup white wine

1/2cup butter

Place chicken breasts between layers of plastic wrap and pound with a mallet to tenderize. Cut into pieces about 3" x 3". Season with salt and pepper, dust in flour and set aside.

Beat eggs with basil and parsley. Dip chicken pieces into egg batter. Melt half the butter in a medium-sized saute pan and saute chicken pieces in the butter, approximately three minutes per side.

Add remaining butter to the pan of cooked chicken, along with white wine and lemon juice. Let simmer for approximately five minutes, then serve.

Makes four servings.


1/2cup olive oil

1/2cup white wine vinegar

12-ounce jar diced pimiento, drained

3tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

3tablespoons minced green onion

3cloves garlic, minced

1teaspoon sugar

3/4teaspoon dried basil

1/2teaspoon salt

1/2teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1pound Mozzarella cheese, cut into slices 1/4" thick

8Roma (plum) tomatoes, cut into slices 1/4" thick

To prepare marinade, in a jar combine olive oil, white wine vinegar, pimiento, parsley, green onion, garlic, sugar, basil, salt and pepper. Cover tightly and shake vigorously. Set aside.

Arrange cheese slices and tomatoes alternately in a shallow serving dish. Pour marinade over cheese and tomatoes, cover and marinate in refrigerator for at least eight hours.


1cup pitted black olives

2cloves garlic, minced

2teaspoons balsamic or red wine vinegar

1teaspoon capers, drained

1teaspoon olive oil

11/3cups chopped tomatoes (2 medium)

1/3cup thinly sliced green onions (3)

1tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil

1tablespoon olive oil

1/8teaspoon pepper

18-ounce loaf French or Italian bread

2tablespoons olive oil

1/2cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

Prepare an olive paste by combining in a food processor bowl or blender the olives, garlic, vinegar, capers and one teaspoon olive oil. Cover and process till a nearly smooth paste forms, scraping the sides as necessary.

For tomato topping, in a small bowl stir together chopped tomatoes, green onions, basil, one tablespoon olive oil and pepper.

For toast, cut bread into slices 1/2" thick. Use the two tablespoons olive oil to lightly brush both sides of each slice. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake in a 425-degree oven for about five minutes, or until crisp and light brown, turning once.

To assemble, spread each piece of toast with a thin layer of olive paste. Top each with about two tablespoons of the tomato topping and sprinkle with cheese. Bake in a 425-degree oven for two to three minutes, or until cheese begins to melt and topping is heated through. Serve warm.


1pound oricchiette (little hats pasta)

2/3cup extra virgin olive oil

4large cloves garlic, chopped

2red bell peppers, coarsely chopped

2yellow bell peppers, coarsely chopped

1teaspoon salt

1teaspoon dried basil

1/2teaspoon cayenne pepper

2/3cup white wine

cooked Italian sausage, warmed, optional

Saute bell peppers, garlic, salt, basil and cayenne pepper in olive oil for 15 minutes. Add wine and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

Cook oricchiette according to package directions; drain. Toss with bell pepper mixture and top with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino cheese and cooked Italian sausage.

Makes four servings.


4pounds ribs or pork roast

1tablespoon paprika

1teaspoon salt

1teaspoon black pepper

1teaspoon garlic powder

1/2teaspoon cayenne pepper

1cup ketchup

1cup red wine vinegar

1cup tomato sauce

8tablespoons honey mustard

4tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

4tablespoons butter or margarine

4teaspoons hot sauce

4teaspoons lemon juice

4teaspoons brown sugar

2teaspoon salt

1teaspoon garlic powder

1/2teaspoon chili powder

1/2teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2teaspoon black pepper

1/2cup red wine vinegar

1/2cup water

1tablespoon brown sugar

Place ribs in a large shallow roasting pan (see note below for procedure for pork roast).

Prepare a spice rub by combining in a small bowl paprika, one teaspoon salt, one teaspoon black pepper, one teaspoon garlic powder and one teaspoon cayenne pepper. Stir well and rub mixture over the meat. Cover pan with aluminum foil and refrigerate for four hours or overnight.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, prepare barbecue sauce by combining ketchup with a cup of red wine vinegar, tomato sauce, honey mustard, Worcestershire, butter, hot sauce, lemon juice four teaspoons brown sugar, two teaspoons salt, one teaspoon garlic powder, chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Bring mixture to a boil and cook, stirring often, for 15 to 20 minutes. Set mixture aside.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Bake ribs, covered, for one hour. Drain.

Heat a charcoal or gas grill. Prepare a basting liquid by combining 1/2 cup red wine vinegar with water and a tablespoon brown sugar. A spray bottle works well for applying this to the meat.

Place ribs on coals and cook for 15 minutes, basting with vinegar/water mixture and turning ribs occasionally. Brush ribs with barbecue sauce and cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, turning ribs and continually brushing with barbecue sauce.


Rub spice rub into pork roast. Put roast on grill rotisserie and rotisserie for four to five hours. Baste with basting liquid every 15 to 20 minutes. Cook barbecue sauce on the stove as directed above. Serve cooked roast with fresh hard rolls with barbecue sauce on the side.


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