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    Posted July 20, 2015 by
    New York City, New York
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    Grandma's Macaroni Cake


    My grandmother, Nanny Margie, was a first generation American, born in Little Italy. Her family immigrated to NYC from the Naples area of Italy in the early 1900s, and eventually settled in Ozone Park, Queens. Life, at Nanny Margie and Papa Phil's house always seemed to revolve around food. Any time you step foot in their home, there would be enough food to feed an army. Holidays were one very long table for adults, and the card table for the kids, set up in their basement. The extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins all were there.

    Nanny Margie's specialties included pasta fagioli, veal and peppers, braciole, escarole soup, as well as many other Italian specialties. But in addition to these fairly popular Italian dishes, there was one very special comfort food - Macaroni Cake. I'm sure there is an Italian name for it, but no one ever used it.

    Macaroni Cake, was usually served as an hors d'oeuvre, as it was a savory cake. It can be eaten hot or cold, but we usually ate it cold. It was a basic recipe of spaghetti, eggs and cheese, but as simple as it sounds, too me, it was absolutely delicious. The best part was the crispy, crunchy pasta on top.

    My father would stop by my grandparent's, once a week on his way home from work, and have dinner there. He always brought home a box of food, which usually contained some macaroni cake. The next day, my lunch at school included a piece, instead of the usual sandwich.


    As much as I loved the Macaroni Cake, it seemed to be an oddity at the lunch table. The other kids never seen or heard of it, and used to tease me about what I was eating, but I didn't care, because to me, it was one of the best foods on earth, so much better than any PB&J sandwich. As it turned out, one of the lunch ladies of Italian decent, Candy (yes, that was her name), recognized it, and apparently felt as I did about this tasty treat. I think she was more excited than me, when she saw me eating it.


    I have since modified the recipe, to make smaller portions when I have leftover spaghetti. I cook it similar to a frittata. Sometimes I add other kinds of cheeses, salami or pepperoni. It's a pretty forgiving recipe, there's lots of room to make variations depending on what you may have in the house.


    Whenever I do make it, there's usually none leftover for the next day's lunch, because now my family has also become big fans. But to me, it will always be that special comfort food, and bring back memories of Nanny Margie.


    Note regarding the recipe in the photo:

    Recipes from my family tend to be vague, so I will elaborate.  The pasta should be first cooked.  The oven should be pre-heated.  The grated cheese should be Pecorino Romano.  To prepare, beat the eggs with cheese and S&P, then mix in the spaghetti.  Pour into greased 9x12 baking pan and cook.

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