What’s Cooking at YPL?

Comfort Food!

YPL offers fabulous virtual programs:  Book Clubs, Fitness Classes, Storytimes, Writing Workshops, Job Search, Grab and Go Crafts, and so much more.  Why not cooking?

Let’s face it, we all love food! Yonkers certainly has its share of excellent cooks, including our Yonkers Public Library staff. Since many of us are spending a lot of time at home these days, this is the perfect opportunity to try a few new recipes. We have decided to post a few easy-to-make creations that our patrons can enjoy. Likewise, we would love to learn some of your favorites. Our Spanish Librarian, Ana Gantzer, recently delighted our taste buds with this amazing menu. The link to her program can be reached below, along with a few more yummy dishes and some cookbook suggestions. Enjoy!

List of Recipes:
Gnocchi alla Romana
Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Croutons
Grandma Maureen’s Mac-n-Cheese
Grandma Checha’s Bread Pudding

Gnocchi alla Romana

(compliments of Ana Gantzer)
Watch Ana’s video.








  •  1 quart (4 cups) 2% or whole milk
  •  1 heaping cup (175 grams) semolina flour (not the fast-cooking variety)
  •  1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as desired
  •  4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus more for greasing
  •  1 heaping cup (3-1/2 ounces) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  •  freshly ground black pepper
  •  2 large egg yolks
    1. Heat the milk in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until tiny bubbles start to form around the edges of the pan and the liquid is just short of boiling.
    2. Reduce the heat to low and slowly add the semolina flour in a very thin steady stream with one hand as you stir the mixture steadily with a stiff large whisk. The mixture will cook for roughly 15 to 20 minutes total, or until it becomes very thick and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. It will be very loose for the first few minutes and will thicken to the consistency of a loose pudding within about 5 minutes. Once the mixture is thick enough that it becomes difficult to continue whisking, switch to a wooden spoon. Continue stirring with a wooden spoon, scraping the sides of the pan as well, until the mixture begins to form a somewhat loose mass and begins to pull away from the sides (approximately 15 to 20 minutes of total cooking time ). Remove from the heat. Allow the mixture to cool for a minute or two.
    3. Stir in 2/3 of the grated cheeses, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, and salt. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.Add the egg yolks and mix rapidly with a wooden spoon until fully incorporated. (Allowing the mixture to cool slightly will also prevent the eggs from coagulating.)
    4. Moisten a half-sheet pan with cold water over a sink and allow the excess water to drip off the pan. Spoon the hot semolina mixture onto the moistened sheet pan, spreading it with an offset spatula into an even layer that is just under 1/2-inch thick. Let cool for 30 to 40 minutes.
    5. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees with a rack in the center position. Grease the bottom and sides of an oven-safe baking dish (roughly 2 quarts in capacity) with unsalted butter. Using a small biscuit cutter (roughly 2-1/2 inches), cut the semolina into disks, dipping the biscuit cutter into water continuously to prevent sticking. Transfer and layer the semolina rounds into the greased baking dish, overlapping the slices slightly with each row to resemble roof shingles. Distribute the top of the polenta with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, divided into small pieces. Sprinkle the top with the remaining grated cheese. Gnocchi alla romana can be prepped ahead up this stage and stored, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.                                                             

Easy Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Croutons

(Ina Garten, an author of one our featured books, Modern Comfort Food)







  • 3 tablespoons high-quality olive oil
  • 3 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • Large pinch of saffron threads
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup orzo
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Grilled Cheese Croutons (recipe below)



In a large pot or Dutch oven such as Le Creuset, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes, saffron, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill a medium pot with water, add 2 teaspoons salt, and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and cook for 7 minutes. (It will finish cooking in the soup.) Drain the orzo and add it to the soup. Stir in the cream, return the soup to a simmer, and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently.

Serve hot with Grilled Cheese Croutons scattered on top.

Grilled Cheese Croutons (Serves 4 to 6)

  • 4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices country white bread
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated


Heat a panini grill. Place the four slices of bread on a cutting board and brush lightly with the melted butter, being sure to butter the corners. Turn the slices over and pile Gruyère on two of the slices. Place the remaining two slices of bread on top of the Gruyère, buttered sides up.

Grill the sandwiches on the panini grill for about 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Place on a cutting board, allow to rest for 1 minute, and cut into 1-inch cubes.

Grandma Maureen’s Mac-n-Cheese

(complements of Maureen O’Connell)



1 tbsp. salt
1/2 lb. elbow macaroni
1 small onion
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
pinch of pepper
1 3/4 cup of milk
1/2 lb. American Cheese
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
4 tsp. butter

  1.  Preheat oven to 400°. Add 1 tbsp. salt to 3 quarts of water and boil.  Grease 1-1/2 qt. casserole.
    Cook macaroni in boiling water, uncovered, for about 9 minutes.
  2. Melt 2 tbsp. butter in pot and add minced onion.  Stir in flour, mustard, and pepper. Slowly stir in milk; cook until smooth and hot, stirring often.
  3. Slice about 3/4 of the cheese right into the sauce; stir until the cheese is melted.  
  4. When macaroni is tender, drain in colander and put into casserole dish.  Pour cheese sauce over macaroni, tossing lightly with a fork so all the macaroni gets coated.  Top with rest of cheese.
  5. Toss bread crumbs with 4 tsp. melted butter.  Sprinkle on top.
  6. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Makes about 4 servings.

Grandma Checha’s Bread Pudding

(complements of Ana Gantzer; watch video)






1 lb. day-old bread, crust removed and diced
4 eggs
4 cups of milk
1 stick of butter (3/5 melted in the hot milk and 2/5 distributed on top before getting to the oven)
14 tbsp. of sugar (7 mixed in the hot milk and  the other 7 spread on top before cooking


Preheat  the stove to 350 degrees and  grease a pan at least 4 inches deep.

Heat up the milk. When is starting to boil, remove from heat and let it cool. Add 3 tbls of butter and 3 tbls of sugar. Add the bread (crust removed) and let the bread absorb the liquids and mix until homogeneous. When is not too warm, add the beaten eggs. Mix well and put it in the pan. Sprinkle with the remaining tbls of sugar and spread little pieces of remaining butter all over.

Cook for about 30 minutes until you see it starting to brown and caramelize.

If you would like to contribute to our blog, please email efusco@ypl.org or agantzer@ypl.org


Cookbook Suggestions: