Tony and Mark Danza's Favorite Family Recipes

Actor Tony Danza and son Marc share favorite family recipes in new cookbook.

ByABC News via logo
May 19, 2008, 10:35 AM

May 20, 2008 — -- Star actor Tony Danza from the hit TV sitcoms "Who's the Boss" and "Taxi" is now proving he's also a star in the kitchen.

Danza and his son Marc recently co-wrote a cookbook filled with 50 recipes and heartwarming stories from the Danza family entitled "Don't Fill Up on the Antipasto."

Today the father-son duo joined "Good Morning America" to share some of their beloved recipes and sage advice.

Check out the Danzas' recipes from "Don't Fill Up on the Antipasto" below:

This was my date sauce. My son and I have both used this sauce to impress. Women love men who cook, and if the food tastes great, you will be a hero. Get the picture? It's an easy recipe. It's quick but it will make you look like a gourmet who knows his or her way around the kitchen.

Strain the plum tomatoes in a colander to extract the juice, breaking apart the tomatoes with your fingers. Discard the pulp. Rinse the can with ½ cup water and add it to the juice. Warm the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and red pepper and sauté until the onion becomes slightly brown, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, wine, tomato paste, salt, and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the basil and simmer for 5 minutes more.

P.S. To serve, bring 1 pound of pasta (your choice) to a boil and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta, put it back in the pot, and add 1 cup of the sauce. Cook for 1 minute over high heat to let the pasta absorb the flavor of the sauce. Mix in the remaining sauce and serve.

Serves 4 to 6

To make the Lasagna, start by making a large Sunday Sauce with Meatballs. Add an extra 1 or even 2 cans of tomatoes and another can of tomato paste to the recipe. The amount of meat is the same. Remember to make the meatballs bigger; it saves time. Salt and pepper to taste. When you make the lasagna, make two pans and freeze one. You can freeze portions or the whole tray. As my mother used to say, "Since you're doing it, you might as well make two."

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, crumble and crush the meatballs and mix in 1 cup of the sauce. Drain the canned tomatoes in a colander, breaking apart the tomatoes with your hands. Discard the pulp. In another bowl mix the ricotta cheese and 1 cup sauce together with a spoon. In another bowl, mix the remaining sauce with the plum tomatoes and tomato paste.

To cook the lasagna noodles, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and bring back to a boil. Add the noodles and return to a boil. Stir the noodles to make sure they do not stick. Cook for 7 to 8 minutes. Check to see if they are al dente by taking one noodle out and cutting a piece off the end. The noodles should be firm but not hard or soft. To stop the cooking process, remove the pot from the heat and run cold water over the noodles until they are cool enough to handle.

Coat the bottom of a large baking pan with sauce, then add a layer of noodles. Top with some of the crushed meatballs and ricotta, then spread more sauce over all, smoothing it into a layer. Sprinkle with Parmesan and lay out slices of mozzarella. Continue making layers until you reach the top. (If we have ingredients left, we make a smaller lasagna alongside the main attraction.)

To finish, cover with a layer of noodles, sauce, Parmesan, and mozzarella. (Don't be afraid to use sauce.) Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes. My mother used to stick a fork into the middle of the lasagna and feel the end to see if it was hot. Remove the foil and broil for 2 minutes, until browned and a bit crispy on top. Let stand for 15 minutes and serve.

Serves 4-6

In our family we use San Marzano plum tomatoes with basil. Strain the tomatoes in a colander to extract the juice, breaking the tomatoes apart with your hands. Discard the pulp. (This eliminates the bitter part of the tomato.)

Back to the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add 4 cloves garlic, the onion, red and black pepper and sauté until the onion is soft and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the juiced tomatoes, red wine, Parmesan, and salt. Add the tomato paste and the water and stir together over medium heat. Add the meatballs and spare ribs. Bring to an easy boil, then simmer over low heat for 2 hours.

Add the basil and simmer for 15 minutes more. The spare ribs should be very tender, falling off the bone, and the meatballs should float in the sauce.

Growing up, this was one of my very favorite dishes. It's a great way to do something different with chicken and it's fairly easy. We had always prepared it the way my father did until a few years ago when we used the broiler instead. We thought we would give you both ways and let you be the decider. That really isn't a shot at President Bush -- it just made us laugh. Well, maybe it is a shot.

Dad's Way

Broiler Way

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

My father's way: Whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic together. Put the chicken pieces in a large baking pan. Peel the potatoes, cut into 2-inch pieces, and toss with the lemon mixture. Spread the potatoes around the chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the remaining lemon mixture over the chicken and potatoes and turn to coat evenly. At this point my father would say he wished he had some time to let it marinate in the refrigerator. He never did and it was always great. If you have time, an hour would be good.

Bake, turning the chicken and potatoes occasionally to brown all sides, until the juices run clear when the thigh is pricked, about 1 hour.

The broiler way: Add the oregano and balsamic vinegar to the marinade. Mix it in a large bowl and set aside. Cut the potatoes into 2-inch pieces and arrange on a sided cookie sheet or shallow roasting pan with the chicken. Under a hot broiler, cook the chicken and potatoes, turning once, until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Toss the chicken in the marinade to coat, and place it back under the broiler for 3 minutes. Turn the chicken over, pour the rest of the marinade over it, and broil for another 2 minutes. Pour the juices and marinade from the pan into a saucepan and cook over high heat for 1 minute. Arrange the chicken on a platter, cover with the sauce, and serve.

Serves 4

In our family we use San Marzano plum tomatoes with basil. Strain the tomatoes in a colander to extract the juice, breaking the tomatoes apart with your hands. Discard the pulp. (This eliminates the bitter part of the tomato.)

Next make the meatballs. Put the ground meat in a mixing bowl. Beat the eggs and add them to the meat along with 6 cloves garlic, the bread crumbs, salt, pepper, Parmesan, and milk. Mix this all together with your hands. Wet your hands with water and continue to wet them as you pinch meat from the bowl and roll into 2-inch balls. Roll the balls in the flour.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add 3 cloves chopped garlic and sauté until golden brown. Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the meatballs and sauté over medium-high heat, turning them, until they are brown all over. As soon as you can pick them up with a fork, they are ready. You don't want them to be well done. (If the meatball slides off the fork when you pick it up, it needs to cook a little longer.)