I worked a rare Sunday shift, yesterday, and came home to fresh, homemade pasta and a focaccia just ready to go into the oven. How sweet it is.

Victor and I were standing in the kitchen talking right after the focaccia went into the oven when we both noticed a bright light in the oven. Little fires, flames, and flare-ups are not totally unusual in our ovens because we use them all the time and don’t always clean them as often as we should.

But this wasn’t a little flare-up. It was a bright white arc of heat on the element.It was immediately apparent that something was amiss, so I turned on the bottom oven to heat while we turned off the top. We have an arcing oven, but we also have a sheet of fresh focaccia that we are not letting go to waste. We have our priorities!

The nice thing about ovens is they are reasonably solid and insulated. A small flame inside of one is not going to burn down the house. The secret is to keep the flame inside. In this case there was no flame – just an arc of intense heat moving long the electric element like a lit fuse. Very bizarre.

I opened the oven door slowly – the ol’ introduction of oxygen to a fire precaution – and moved the focaccia to the bottom oven, all the while fascinated by the glowing element. It had broken clean through and right past the break the arc was moving along the element just like a fuse. While it had a way to go before reaching the end of the element – and the electrical wires in back of the oven – it didn’t really look like it would go out on its own. It needed a bit of help.

No, I do not have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Guilty as charged. But I do have a level head in emergencies, so I did what any son of a fireman would do. I used a sopping wet rag and tongs. It took a few minutes of gingerly playing with it – while Victor was across the room with the phone and 9-1 dialed – but I was able to cool it and put it out in just a couple of minutes. The focaccia came out of the bottom oven and we let everything cool completely. And then we made sure the circuits were off downstairs.

We then sat down to a fabulous dinner – homemade Malleddorus, homemade focaccia, and homemade meatballs and sauce. Victor added Boursin cheese to the sauce I had made and frozen. It came out great


Malloreddus are like a gnocci – just slightly-different ingredients, but they’re similarly formed. Victor first got the recipe from la Cucina Italiana. It really is good.


  • Sea Salt
  • 1 ¼ cups semolina flour
  • ¾ cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Gnocchi board or a table fork

Dissolve 1 tsp salt in ¾ cup warm water. In a large bowl whisk together semolina and all purpose flour; mound and form a well in the center.

Add water mixture and 2 tsp olive oil to the well. Using your hand or a fork, slowly incorporate flour from inside the rim of the well. Continue until liquid is absorbed, then knead in bowl until dough forms a complete mass (dough will be slightly sticky).

Transfer dough to a well floured work surface and knead, dusting with a bit more flour as needed just to keep dough from sticking to your hands, for 5 minutes. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.

Break off about 1/8 of the dough; tightly rewrap remaining dough. Roll dough into ½ inch cylinder, and cut into ¼ inch thick pieces. Pressing with your thumb, roll each piece on a gnocchi board (or down the back of a fork) to give it the characteristic ridges, and put on a floured baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.

To cook fresh Malloreddus, bring a large pot of salted water to a bill. Add pasta and cook until tender, about 6 minutes after water returns to a boil. Drain, transfer to a large serving bowl and immediately toss with sauce and serve.

And then there was the focaccia that started all of this.



  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 pkg yeast dissolved in
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup black olives, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped

Knead all ingredients until smooth – about 10 minutes. Cover and let rise until doubled.

Punch down dough and spread out on lightly-greased baking sheet. Let rise again, about 30 minutes. Dimple top of dough with knuckles and place into a 425° oven oven about 20 minutes or until nicely-browned.

So after dinner, we were surveying the damage and decided we could go out and buy a new element, or we could go out and buy a new stainless steel oven. The new oven seems to be winning out. We need a new dishwasher, soon – the current one is rusting, the cook-top is a mess, and the handle to the over-the-stove microwave is super-glued in place.

The upside of using our kitchen every day is we eat some pretty awesome food. The downside is a lot of home appliances are not made to be used like commercial appliances. On the other hand, we have gotten 12 years of use out of the current stuff.

Last year, Victor got new granite counter tops for his birthday. It looks like this year, he’s getting all new stainless steel appliances. His birthday is Friday. Perfect timing. We’re going shopping.