This was a quick and easy week night recipe. Whole Foods had some wonderful Bay scallops today that cooked perfectly. I left out the liquor (unnecessary) and forgot the lemon squeeze (missed out on the acid, whoops). I had to top it off with fresh shaved Parmesan or it wouldn’t have been pasta. Fresh spinach linguine was a perfect compliment to the other flavors.
Today I happened upon an interestingly plain looking jar of crushed tomatoes. It didn’t have pictures boasting large plump red tomatoes growing on the Italian countryside. It looked more like Government surplus. But being in Forager’s lends a certain level of credibility, so I was intrigued.
Oh, Jersey Farm tomatoes! Local, and from my home state! I’ve always thought Jersey Tomatoes were the most flavorful of the bunch. Toss a little salt on a thick slice. Maybe a thin slice of Parmesan. Red onion rings, some basil. The perfect summer snack.
Tonight I made a simple gnocchi with a tomato & chorizo sauce. When I opened the jar, I was honestly shocked by how intense the red color was. I was going to take a picture, but I knew it would never translate as well as in person. I took a small taste and was blown away by the flavor. Nothing beats fresh local food! Support the farmers in this country. Takes a lot less fuel to get here, and it’s worth the extra money.
The other night, I wasn’t feeling up to cooking. So I decided to see what treats might be in store for me in Chelsea Market. I headed over to Dickson’s Farmstand and went for the 80/20 burger. They stopped offering this treat last fall just when I was ready to pop my burger cherry. I had been eyeing it for a week or two once they put it back in the meat case and knew this was what was for dinner.
I am a creature of habit. I will hear something once, then assume it will always mean or refer to the same thing, like with Sweet Breads for example. Prior to that fateful night a few fall’s ago at Essex & Delancy, my only contact with anything called sweet bread was some sort of doughy bread that was sweet, like Mallorca Sweet Bread from Puerto Rico (or some Starbucks, so odd!) or Mexican Sweet Bread. So yes, I was a bit confused how it fit into the dish, but I dove right in. Right into a calves pituitary gland. I’ve never been the same since.
I’d heard of an 80/20 burger before, and it meant 80% lean, which is ideal for a burger according to one of my hero’s, Kenny Shopsin:
So I got three since we were having Frankie over for dinner.
Gorgeous… Each one weighs 1/2 lb and they are only $5 each. I snagged a nice square piece of NY Cheddar from The Manhattan Fruit Exchange and some soft sandwich buns from Amy’s Breads. I like to get a nice square piece so I can cut my own cheddar slices. I hate that crap from Kraft.
When I tossed those bad boys on my very hot iron skillet, I realized something special about these burgers. These were not the burgers Kenny was talking about, not by a long shot. If we has smell-o-vision, you’d be able to get the full picture of what I was experiencing. A slight smokey, porky accent to the beefy mist coming from the burgers hinted that once again, I was dead wrong.
I found that these needed about 6 minutes a side for medium rare. They were on the thick side and I held back from pressing down on them like a Diner cook. Once flipped, I put a slice of cheddar on each burger. I prepped the rolls with some amazing honey balsamic mustard that I also picked up at Dickson’s. Tossed down a few slices of avocado on top, then smothered that with the burger.
Finish it off with a thick slice and a side of roasted potatoes. Sinful, delicious, worth every calorie!
Me and the cats live just one block away from one of the best restaurants in BK. Vinegar Hill House. Lately, this place seems to keep gaining in popularity. I probably shouldn’t blog about it, but no one reads this anyway. No harm.
The drinks are all quite dark and mysterious, but clever and unique in their own ways. They also have some great wines by the glass, but if you’re there with a partner in wine drinking crime, just get a bottle.
Hands down, the Waffle Chop is my favorite. The first time I ordered it, I didn’t know what I was getting. I quickly savored the salty sweet ham flavor coming from this otherwise undistinguishable pork chop. It is like nothing I had ever seen before. So thick, so rare, such porky goodness one can only dream about. The exterior charred by the brick wood oven. Ash adding to the texture of the meaty flesh. Every bite must be accompanied by a taste of the cheddar grits, just for good measure.
They usually have octopus on the menu and it’s always quite tender. Tonight, it was some of the best octopus we have ever had. Better than the previous title holder from on our trip to Spain. This was just delectable tonight.
We also had the squash puree. We’re not sure what they pureed with the squash, but we are pretty sure it was butter. Bring it on, I say. Tonight’s cheese plate was slightly disappointing. Usually there is a good assortment of saulmi and the like, but tonight it was just a few pieces of Iberico ham and some Sopressatta. A few small pieces of tasty cheese. I don’t know, I always wish they just gave you a little bit more.
The short ribs are amazingly tender, and served with soap shaped boiled potato, carrot, and a huge piece of bone w/ marrow. I tried this for the first time tonight. It was alright. Maybe not my favorite thing, but I can see the appeal.
Dessert absolutely MUST include the caramel custard with sea salt. It is addictive. Even more so, the date pecan tart with marscapone gelatto was the hands down winner for richest, most amazing flavors. The apple bread pudding was a distant third. Always tasty and consistent is the Guiness chocolate cake.
Don’t be surprised to be told there is a 2 hour wait on a saturday night. Even at 6 pm. It’s insane. You totally wonder where all these people are coming from! So we hike over, get on the list, then wait at home. It’s a benefit of being a neighbor to the mecca of gastronomy.
A new post, as requested. This one goes out to the one I love. The love of my life’s favorite thing to have for dinner is “Jimmy’s SPICY Sausage Pasta, yummmm.” Here’s how to make the ultimate 5 lick dinner! The recipe serves 4 and all ingredients can be found at Chelsea Market.
1 lb of Rigatoni. I like the $2 bags from Buon Italia in the back
Parmesan for grating. Again, Buon Italia
4 Sausage Links - Pork Chili are my favorites @ Dickson’s. Happy animals = happy taste buds. I love shopping there for all of my meat. Amazing ground beef, delicious melt in your mouth steaks, fantastic lunch options, and one of the friendliest staff in all of Chelsea Market.
1 Cup of Chicken Stock - Manhattan Fruit can help you out with that too.
1 bottle of white wine from Chelsea Wine Vault - Sometimes I use an inexpensive Pino, but last time I tried a Sauvignon Blanc.
Olive Oil. Buon Italia has a house brand that is really decent. Or you could get fancy and head to the Filling Stationand grab a bottle of one of over a dozen different kinds. From grassy to chipotle, they have it covered. You can also grab hard to find salts from all over the globe.
Remove the Sausage from the casing and coarsely chop it into chunks. Brown the sausage in a pan with a touch of olive oil. Give it a good 5-6 minutes, but don’t over cook. Remove the sausage and place on a paper towel to drain some of the grease. Drain the pan, leaving about 1 tbsp of the melted fat behind.
Slice the leeks and soak to remove any sand. Dry the leeks, then add them to the pan. Brown the leeks until soft and golden brown. Add the thinly sliced red pepper. I like to leave the seeds to really boost the heat. You can leave this out if you don’t like it hot.
Add the sausage to the pan and gently toss with the veggies for a minute. Add the entire bottle of wine, but not all at once. I usually start off with 1/2. Add about a cup of chicken stock and let it simmer and reduce. Add wine every few minutes until the whole bottle is in the pan bubbling away.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente. About 8-10 minutes or so should do the trick.
Before adding the pasta, add about 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan and stir until the sauce thickens. I usually keep going with the cheese. Add the al dente pasta and toss it together for a few minutes over Medium head.
That’s it! You’re done. I find that it’s always smart to grab a baguette from Amy’s Breads. Last time I went for a challah baguette that was soft and delicious with a crispy crust. They make incredible baked everything! Bread, cakes, and cinnamon raisin buns share space on the shelves with great sandwiches, twist bread, and cupcakes.
See below for a few photos of the process from the other night. Enjoy!
While we have only been in Barcelona for two days, our luck and forward planning landed us at two AMAZING restaurants. These places are so great, even my dear friend Gwyneth raves about them on goop.com. Ok, so G isn’t really my homie. You got me. But I did meet Chris her husband once, so I think that is close enough.
Comerc 24 seems to get a bad rap. Maybe it’s just that stigma associated with places that leave you hungrier than when you arrived. Each dish just a delectable bite or two. Three at most. But if you just man up to the bar and order their grandest tasting menu, they will stuff you silly with the most incredible dishes. How many you ask? I believe I counted 17 in total.
One round that sticks out most to me was a very delicate broth, Asian influenced. In it were 6 balls floating, two yellow, two white and two black. The yellow were a simple poached quail egg yolk. The others were some fantastic invention of science. A slightly gelatinous outer shell plumped full of creamy liquids. One was Parmesan, the other black truffle.
When the flavors hit the olfactory sensors, it was a moment I won’t soon forget. It felt as though my entire head was experiencing the flavors. They immediately brought a certain feeling to mind. The truffle was dark and mysterious. The Parmesan strong but not overbearing. I have not been one to enjoy Quail much before, but here in it’s liquid state it was divine.
When I have time to recall the entire 3 3/4 hour dinner, I will try to update some of the other 16 dishes.
Tapas 24 serves frozen sangria and the tastiest tapas in a friendly atmosphere. Belly up to the bar and take your pick from any of the daily specials. All are worth a taste I am sure
Tonight marked the very first of many 5 Lick Dinners! Jones absolutely approved of this quick and simple meal. He was with me the entire time while I prepped, waited patiently, and finally got to watch me eat it. And I will say, it was quite good for such minimal effort.
I stopped off at Forager’s Market in Dumbo for some of their amazing fresh shrimp. It’s not often you can find fresh shrimp that have not been through a flash freeze. Sure, they come in at a hefty $16/lb, but for two of us we were fine splitting 1/2 pound, about 5 shrimp each.
I also love Forager’s because they always have amazing fresh vegetables, a great cheese selection, and amazing meat to choose from. All the veggies are grown locally, so they support the small independent farmers in our area. That’s something I’ve learned is important from watching The Fabulous Beekman Boys.
I picked up a jar of great puttanesca sauce and had some fresh Black Pepper Linguine from Raffetto’s. Did a quick sauté of crushed garlic in olive oil, then gently cooked the monster shrimp. About 2 minutes each side. I added the sauce, brought that up to a simmer.
Jones wanted anything and everything to do with that shrimp. So you know it must be good! He never gets as excited when I defrost shrimp and have those slimy limp shrimp in the bowl. But these meaty, fresh, succulent shrimp were driving him insane.
Tonight I decided to lighten up on the carbs and just do a simple steak salad. I headed over to www.dicksonsfarmstand.com @ chelsea market. Picked up some top sirloin strips, then headed down to the fruit & veggie store to grab some feta, greens, a yellow heirloom tomato, red onion and some purple carrots.
After grilling the steak, I sliced it very thin and placed it atop the salad. I made a 10 year aged balsamic & oil dressing with greek oregano, cayenne, and a touch of soy sauce. The crumbled feta added a nice salty contrast to the sweet aftertaste of the balsamic.
The tomato was firm, yet full of sweet flavor. I honestly don’t know why anyone eats regular tomatoes anymore. Sure, the heirlooms are rough around the edges, but the flavor is untouched for centuries. Getting away from GMO’s in my food is always a top goal.
I prefer grass fed beef that is pasture raised and grass finished. If the beef only says “grass fed”, but doesn’t include “grass finished”, then you might as well eat the versions of beef at the local pathmark. The cows are bulked up on corn feed the last three months, wreaking havoc on their digestion and well being. But hey, more meat, more efficiency, right?
Having a little steak salad was a nice choice tonight.
Who am I? Just your average foodie with two cats. Please don’t mistake me for one of THOSE foodies. No. I’m a DIY foodie, of sorts. I enjoy cooking whatever comes to my mind and I usually don’t follow a recipe too closely.
I find that my cat Jones is a very good judge of my cooking abilities. So, for each dish listed, there will be a “lick meter”. One tongue to five. Five being best of course…
I also plan to share my take on local restaurants, as well as those abroad.