There’s always a time in the summer when all I want to do is to dive into a bowl of pasta that’s covered with a meaty sauce, preferably one that’s been sitting on the stove for hours braising away. This inevitably falls on a day that’s particularly hot, of course, when the thought of getting near the stove is as good a decision as trying to find good tomatoes at the end of January. That’s the rub of trying to eat seasonally, though: you gorge and gorge and gorge on the season’s best foods until the sight of a zucchini or tomato is unbearable, or at the very least you can get a little bored. I liked how the couple behind We Are Never Full combated this by making a super-rich puttanesca that was heavy on pork belly.
Lately, I’ve found myself becoming more and more enraptured by movies that I had in quite some while: I credit this to watching a lot of foreign films lately (particularly those by Almodóvar and Fellini) and the availability of seeing virtually any film I want in one of the many theaters in New York. The AMC in Lincoln Square is our favorite theater, but sometimes we will go to the AMC Empire in Times Square if only for the novelty of riding the down escalator through an Applebee’s and a Dave and Buster’s as we try to make our way out of the building. It’s not quite the obsession I had with film when I was fifteen, but it’s nice to come back to it in a small way, and I am constantly on the search for recommendations for new foreign films to check out and/or purchase. Read More
Alternate titles for this post included: One stew to rule them all, You call that a stew? THIS is a stew, and finally, The epic stew of epicness. Working in an academic lab here in NYC for the last 1.5 years, I have been exposed to many college students and their requisite speech patterns. One word I hear often (besides random) is ‘epic’, used to mean something impressive. That’s a poor definition, for a more complete definition, read on.
[Ed.--Elizabeth found herself craving some bikini-pizza from this post, and so when Michael suggested making pizza to use up some leftover fresh mozzarella an actual pizza was born.]
With the prospect of Thanksgiving looming, we deemed our weekend ought to do without my beloved roasted chicken. One night we opted for a duck ragu, and the farthest possible go-to from that, I guess, must be two homemade pizzas.
The first, the ‘bikini-pizza’ as it were, was a bit wet once all was put upon the dough thanks to lots of fresh mozzarella, mushrooms and a twist with sun-dried tomatoes instead of fresh or canned. I anticipated this and and as such did not blind-bake the crust, giving the entire assembled pizza as much time in the hot box as possible. I covered an up-turned baking sheet with foil so if too much cornmeal got into the oven and burned, I could pull the entire thing out for the second pie. The day was dry and the dough was well-behaved, disembarking the pizza peel with ease. We bailed it after about 13 minutes at 500 F with a couple of spatulas and some oven mitts, as well as a optimally placed cutting board to rest. Read More
For the last six weeks I’ve been following the action around Foodbuzz’s Project Food Blog, a contest aimed to find the “next food blog star” among Foodbuzz’s Featured Publishers, and not only has it introduced me to some amazing blogs but it’s also made me unbelievably hungry. The biggest offender was last week’s challenge that had the remaining contestants do a “remix” on pizzas. So many delicious ones emerged as a result that my stomach started audibly growling while reading through the posts, and all I wanted to do last week was make lots and lots of pizzas. The wedding of two awesome people kept us away from our kitchen Saturday night, but a little planning and the help of Fresh Direct helped us bring one of the more intriguing pizza meals to life on Sunday night. Read More
Did you know that Little Caesar’s still exists? It’s been years since I’ve seen an ad for them (though that stupid jingle remains an eternal earworm), much less a physical location, but a few months ago one popped up a few blocks away on 125th Street, and whenever I pass it I always feel bad for the people who now have the orange glow of the signs blaring into their windows at night, as they can’t possibly cast a pleasant glow into a room. Read More
For all of the talking and writing and photographing of food we do, especially on the weekend, breakfasts and brunches are noticeably absent here on this blog. It’s odd because we both love breakfast food, but I think it comes down to motivation–we’d rather indulge in dinner rather than breakfast on the weekends, and often brunch ranks among the few meals that makes more sense to go out for rather than to stay in and cook.
It’s also likely due to the fact that things like orange juice and milk are expensive to buy when they are only consumed two days of the week at most–plus it always requires planning as schlepping to the market and back on a Saturday or Sunday morning before the first caffeine hits is an unbearably cruel thing for anyone to endure over the weekend.
Maybe it was this quote from No Reservations that put us over the edge subconciously:
Then there the People Who Brunch. The “B” Word is dreaded by all dedicated cooks. We hate the smell and spatter of omelettes. We despise hollandaise, home fries, those pathetic fruit garnishes, and all the other cliché accompaniments designed to induce a credulous public into paying $12.95 for two eggs. Nothing demoralizes an aspiring Escoffier faster than requiring him to cook egg-white omelettes or eggs over easy with bacon. You can dress it up with all the focaccia, smoked salmon, and caviar in the world, but it’s still breakfast.
I’m not quite sure how I’ve been able to do it, but evidently I’ve managed to (temporarily, at least) get Michael to embrace pasta quite a bit over the past two weeks. This particular dish, though, I can at least explain: with a newly-acquired wedge of pecorino fresco sitting in the fridge from Fairway, how could one not fantasize making something classically Roman, like spaghetti all’amatriciana? For hours the images of onions, tomatoes and pancetta cubes tangled in a lump of pasta tortured me; I couldn’t wait to make dinner that night.
There was only one problem: the deli beneath us doesn’t sell pancetta, and I had no idea where else to go.
I frantically wandered through the Appletree, asking the guys at the deli if they had it in the case, as well as scouring the tiny meat section to see if any hidden gems lay beneath stacks of smoked (and therefore unusable) American and Canadian bacon. No dice. It was getting later in the evening and at the time I had no knowledge of the closest Italian shop that might carry it, so I turned to a very frustrated Michael (who by this point was sick of me pacing back and forth in indecision, as well as my disbelief that the Appletree was in fact not Romeo & Ceseare’s) and acquiesced to his suggestion of using pork sausage in lieu of the bacon. It was a far more preferable solution than going out into the neighborhood hungry and frantically looking for pancetta, even if it meant we were no longer having the true dish anymore. Besides: the Italians are all about using what you have immediately available anyway.
The mushrooms were a last-minute addition because I felt like we should have something else, but not cutlets or thighs or chops. Seeing a package of plain button mushrooms, I suggested them to Michael, and wonders of wonders, he agreed. There was actually a little leftover stuffing and mushroom stems by the time we were done, but leave it to him to figure out a novel way of using them all up. How so? Stay tuned…
One of my most pressing questions to Michael as we unpacked our kitchen and dining areas was “what about the KITCHEN AID??!?” It’s funny that I’m so attached to this appliance, given my whole general anti-baking stance, but I have realized that I have an aversion to baking sweets, rather than baking altogether, you know?
Regardless, I had hoarded a number of yeast packets from Romeo’s to allow me to make my focaccias and pizzas as I normally would, and when I offered the idea of making pizza on Sunday, he was more than amenable to the idea. We decided on doing a simple flatbread along with a mozzarella, mushroom and sausage concoction that was inspired by a post on Slice that made this particular trinity incredibly tempting.
The mushrooms were sourced from Whole Foods (more on that later this week); a combination of creminis, shitakes, and some blue-foot mushrooms (the latter going for thirty dollars a pound; I opted for .12 pounds) that were simply cleaned and added without any pretense–no saute done to them, nothing more than a little oil added to the entire pie.
The first pie is the first photo you see on this post: simple pizza bianca dressed up with some shallots and some zatar spice blend; nothing more, nothing less. It was delicious, but a little dash of good dipping olive oil would make it heavenly to eat.
As for the second: all I want to write is the word sigh. There was so little to it: just a link of pork sausage, a small ball of fressh mozzarella, and the mushrooms, but the result was so much better than the sum of its parts that we were both in catatonic states following that particular pie. When it’s said that cheese, mushrooms and sausage pair for one of the best pizzas that you will eat–believe it. Especially if you’re getting good, fresh mozzarella.
It’s been a good holiday weekend in our new home–here’s to having more delightful tales to share…
The missus and I have been on a fresh pasta kick lately, culminating in nearly innumerable weekend dinners beginning with little more than a pile of fresh raviolis and ending in two heavily sated diners. The night in question above was slightly different, instead of stuffing my pasta, I opted for tagliatelle.
The switch is simple. I made my pasta sheets as per usual for ravioli, but instead of laying them out for stuffing, I gently folded them over themselves, almost like rolling them up. Then all I had to do was slice them across the front so that when the slices unrolled, they were long strands. Tagliatelle is a nice, thick noodle so close, mincing slices were not necessary. I must advise you to flour the pasta sheets as you fold them up, other wise the noodles will stay stuck on themselves and peeling them apart will be… frustrating.
I paired a nice, hearty tomato ragu with the pasta. I removed the casings from about a 1/4 lb of fresh sausage from Romeo’s, crumbled and browned it in olive oil. Next I added some garlic and two cans of my favorite petite cut tomatoes and just reduced, reduced, reduced. After 30 minutes I added the basil leaves and mixed in the tagliatelle and let it cook in the sauce for a minute or two. The cream on top is just fresh black pepper mixed into mascapone cheese, meant to be mixed into the pasta right before consumption. I found this preparation to be unbelievably satisfying and just a little easier than ravioli because you don’t need to make all the stuffings and egg-wash the little guys shut.
If you were toying with the idea of trying fresh pasta, but were perhaps still a little intimidated, these tagliatelle might be a good stepping stone before tackling raviolis or tortellini. Ciao!