Nancy, Matt and I set out to the East Village one partly cloudy Saturday to discover some new noms to write about for Real Cheap Eats.
Nancy: aka Love Muffin
Matt: aka 40 lbs. We called Matt 40 lbs. when he was younger because he actually weighed 40 lbs. Personally, I skipped over those kinds of numbers and went right to triple digits.
There was a lot of eating, eating and walking. I also managed to find the perfect shade of pink lipstick while out on my journey.
We started at Senor Pollo, unassuming and surrounded by brunch spots and college bars - I was drawn in to this quaint Peruvian paradise because it’s anything but trendy (and it was cheap and had a pretty and properly decorated dining area).
Given the name of this joint, one might assume I went in for the chicken (1/4 of a bird and 2 sides will only set you back $8.50 and I’ve heard from friends that portions are hot, heaping, moist and bursting with rotisserie flavor), but I didn’t. I closed in on some favorites of fried yucca ($3.25), tostones ($3.00) and a delightful treat I’d never tried before - that of the papa a la huancaina ($5.00). Needless to say, I want to smother my body and someone else’s in huancaina sauce (made with aji amarillo, a yellow pepper native to Peru, which is combined with queso fresco and evaporated milk to make a super special somewhat spicy sauce) that covers a perfectly boiled potato.
Here are some photos and descriptions of what went down at Mr. Chicken:
Chicha Morada: Purple corn drink spiced with cloves and cinnamon, this beverage tastes best when washing down yucca dipped in hot sauce. It’s sweet, spicy and its fall flavors suit October in NY.
Papa a la Huancaina: boiled potato smothered in huancaina sauce. The sauce is cheesy, creamy - mildly spicy and made from queso fresco, aji amarillo (yellow pepper native to Peru), evaporated milk and oil. It’s served on a lettuce leaf and topped with a hard boiled egg and olives. Senor Pollo’s rendition was tasty and satisfying.
Chimichurri, Tostones and Fried Yucca: I’m still trying to figure out what the best part of this experience was - the fact that the waitress told me how to perfectly fry my yucca at home or the fact that you can purchase Senor Pollo’s chimichurri and hot sauce to go. Yes, to go (8 oz. for $3.00, 16 oz. for $5.00). The spicy fun can continue at home. The tostones and yucca both delicately fried and perfectly golden - make the perfect vehicle to get their stellar dipping sauces into your mouth and coating your belly.
Post Peruvian noms, we waddled over to St. Marks where the sign for the Dumpling Man drew us in. Pork and chive soup dumplings were had and enjoyed ($3.95 for 4). At the Dumpling Man you can also watch the dumpling making go down. Sit at the bar, take in the man and his two ladies while they make massive mixtures of veggie, pork and shrimp dumpling filling. See the stuffing and sealing happen first hand, then get your nom on.
Pork & Chive Soup Dumpling: thick skinned, purse shaped and generously packed with a tender, soft and somewhat fatty pork filling these soup dumplings were made with care. And the broth - not half bad. The ginger aftertaste, not too overpowering and pretty pleasing to the palette. Overall, I may go back for a little to go action on my way to a proper meal. Sometimes I can’t wait for dinner and a lady needs a scooby snack.
And in case you need to fit in a sweet, which we did, head over to Momofuku Milk Bar. I recommend taking on a slice of the crack pie (butter and brown sugar sex in your mouth) over the compost cookie (basically a kitchen sink like deal - with chips, pretzels, butterscotch and chocolate chips) - for a super sugar high.
Crack Pie at Momofuku Milk Bar
This little jaunt left us stuffed and carb loaded. I run a lot so I need to carb load. I only speak the truth here.
In case you’re interested in venturing to any one of these joints, here’s the info:
221 1st Ave.
NY, NY 10003
100 St. Marks
NY, NY 10009
Momofuku Milk Bar
251 East 13th
Fava Bean DipFried Zucchini with Red Wine Vinegar, Basil & Garlic
Recipes follow story
I love dinner guests.
I love cheese plates.
I love small noms served with bread.
I love social food and snacking rather than sitting down to a stuffy dinner.
I eat this way when I’m alone.
I eat this way when friends gather.
The sun-dried zucchini and pickled eggplant (I posted these a few weeks ago) were originally whipped up for a dinner I hosted for my aunt and uncle. Were it not for them, I wouldn’t have pictures hanging in my apartment, I’d probably be sitting on boxes, and I would undoubtedly be surrounded by the parts needed to assemble my kitchen dining island.
Admittedly, I am terrible at putting shit together. IKEA living is a no go for this single woman. I would probably be living in shambles without the good help of my Uncle Al and Aunt Deb. God bless their abilities. I like to think I look cute when I’m holding a level and power drill, but the truth is I’m not good with either of those tools.
I paid my aunt and uncle in noms because they’re pains in my ass and never let me pay for anything, and scold me when I show up at their home with wine and goods I’ve purchased. I say pains in my ass with a whole lot of love.
In addition to the zucchini and eggplant, I made fava bean dip which is a lovely alternative to hummus or white bean dip. Surprise your dinner guests and friends with a porky bean dip, they’ll love you for it.
Pair said dip (tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, olives, and prosciutto) with some Murray’s Cheese selects, fall in love with Lucca - one of the tattooed cheesemongers - and tell your dinner guests the story of how you imagined yourself moving on from crushes on chefs to men with a little edge who love their cheese.
Ah, there were also mussels in white wine and butter - but the photos are shitty and this is supposed to be a feast for your eyes.
Use your imagination - that’s what I’m doing about Lucca.
Fava Bean Dip
1 bag fresh frozen fava beans (skin removed)
8 oz. smoked bacon (roughly chopped)
4-5 cloves garlic (minced)
1/3 c. good olive oil
1/4 - 1/2 c. water
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
-Set frying pan over a medium high flame, add 2 T. olive oil and render bacon
-When bacon is semi-cooked, about 5 minutes, add fava beans, a sprinkle of salt & pepper and cook for an additional 7-10 minutes until bacon is cooked and fava beans are soft (pretty mushy)
-Allow mixture to cool
-Once cool, place mixture in a food processor fit with a steel blade, sprinkle with salt, add minced garlic and add olive oil (via the feeding tube) and puree until smooth
-Remove from processing bowl and place in a separate bowl and slowly add water and mix until incorporated (the fava beans are pretty dense and the puree is quite thick/pasty so I added water to soften it up a bit)
-Serve with bread/crostinis and cheeses
4 beefsteak tomatoes
2-3 T. olive oil
5-6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp. sugar
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
-Preheat oven to 450 degrees
-Slice tomatoes into 1/2 thick slices and place on a baking sheet
-Sprinkle with salt, sugar and drizzle with olive oil
-Lay sprigs of thyme atop tomatoes
-Roast for 20-25 minutes until tomatoes are browning (but not burnt or falling apart)
Petit Billy: light, very slightly tangy, soft and delicate - delicious when sandwiched between a crostini and roasted tomatoes, works well on crostini drizzled with honey and topped with bacon crumbles (not shown here), and whipped into scrambled eggs (not shown here). I had fun using this $9.50 round of cheese. It was a little gift that kept on giving.
Pecorino Ginepro: salty, tangy (eat the rind, for the cheese is aged in a balsamic vinegar bath for 4 months), delicious grated atop the fava bean dip, tomatoes, and over pasta. My new favorite grating cheese. In fact, I could grate it into my palm and do cheese shots. Cheese shots anyone?
Preferes des Montagnes: buttery melt in your mouth goodness, very very slightly stinky - we ate it solo on plain crackers, but I imagined it would’ve worked extraordinarily well on honks of sourdough bread, brushed with butter and caramelized onions and made into a grilled cheese.
Toma Walser: soft, light, melts easily (Lucca recommended it for use in grilled cheese) - it worked with the tanginess of the pickled eggplant and zucchini.
Challerhocker: this was supposed to accompany the anchovy dip I never made, it was recommended over a gruyere and instead of crackers. Mildly nutty, with crystals that melt in your mouth - this cheese was enjoyed even without an anchovy bath.
Pickling eggplant, preserving tomatoes and sun-drying zucchini were signs that summer was coming to a close in the Corrado household. Late August through early September my family was purchasing and preserving fresh vegetables in an effort to stock up for cooler weather months. Even in October, my grandmother’s sandwiches held on to summer.
I wish to do the same, so I went wacky with the pickling.
Spend this weekend jarring something tasty.
1 large eggplant (cut into match sticks)
1 1/2 c. white vinegar
3/4 c. water
Red Pepper Flakes
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-Cut eggplant and place in a large bowl, layering and sprinkling with salt
-Cover eggplant with vinegar and water and let refrigerate over night
-Using a ricer, strain the eggplant until all excess vinegar/water is removed
-Place eggplant slices in a sterile jar, layering with red pepper flakes, garlic and olive oil; repeating until all eggplant has been used and jar is full
-Cover and allow to sit (the longer the eggplant sits, the stronger the flavor)
Fried Zucchini with Red Wine Vinegar, Basil & Garlic
For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to live in a home with a backyard and a pool.
During the summer of ‘88 my grandma made my dream come true. She finally caved at the repeated request (can’t we have a pool? why can’t we have a pool? there’s so much space in the yard for a pool?) and somehow managed to convince my grandfather that it was a good idea. We had one of the biggest yards on the block, so much of it was going to waste - you know, like the huge garden we kept, rose bushes, grape vines, the cherry tree. Get rid of that garbage, we could have a pool!
I was chubby, but man was I stoked at the thought of cannon balls and running on grass in the privacy of my own home – instead of skipping over sprinklers mounted on concrete, fire hydrant scouting, and long summer days at free camp. A pool. I could have my first pool party. A pool. I would never pee in it.
Much to my dismay, instead of the pool going on the lush green grass that lined our side yard it was erected on the concrete slabs that made up our backyard. The concrete backyard, where the clothes lines hung and where my grandmother would dry out zucchini and collect grapes. The concrete yard where we had a giant shed full of steel, old fabric, fireworks and our bicycles.
Don’t get me wrong, I was thankful for the pool. I was thankful my grandma gave up a portion of her work-space for the betterment of our childhood. I’d like to think seeing me play in the street, fire hydrant water striking my rotund behind, made my grandma pro-pool. But I’m sure it was more than that, she always wanted to see me happy.
The clothes lines blocked the street view of my abonormally large and awkwardly shaped 8 year old body and gave me and my brother a place to cool off. The pool was only 3 feet deep, square and had no ladder (we used to just hop in over the side). Outfitted with no deck or any frills, our pool sat a top a giant piece of tarp. I’d watch my grandfather pace the grass, while I frolicked and splashed and cursed at my brother in a muted tone. Sometimes my grandmother would sit in a lawn chair beside the pool and watch Lou and I act like caged animals. It beat free summer camp in every way.
Trays lined with zucchini were far enough away so as not to get splashed with the chlorine water. I’d venture out in the morning, in my striped bathing suit, always first stopping to stare at the fleshy pieces of zucchini, as they began to bead up with moisture. Throughout the day, they would shrivel up – taking on the likeness and texture of the Weight Watchers dried apple pieces my mother would pack in my lunch box. But grandma wasn’t feeding us dried zucchini, she was frying it, layering it, and smothering it in red wine vinegar, salt, basil/mint and garlic. These zucchini could make a sandwich sing, although my preference was always to eat them plain – oil and vinegar coating my fingers (yes I picked with my fingers, never with a fork, and grandma wouldn’t yell).
As of today I’ve no pool. I’ve no backyard. I’ve not one family member to speak of that still lives in Brooklyn. I have a delightful apartment in Queens that’s equipped with a fire escape. On most brutally hot summer days, I think about clearing out my living room and placing a giant inflatable kiddie pool on my rug so I have a private space to cool off (that’s slightly larger than my bath tub).
The fire escape seemed like the only natural place to dry out the zucchini. I stared out my window and watched as they became moist. They didn’t suffer the brunt of pigeon poop. Nothing flew away and my management company never found out I was using the fire escape to conduct a cooking experiment.
After 8 hours in the sun, I brought the zucchini inside and continued to let them dry overnight. By the next morning, they were dry, slightly spongy and shriveled – just like they were supposed to be.
The zucchini were served at dinner with my Aunt and Uncle, along with my grandmas pickled eggplant.
When I move to a farm, somehow conveniently located near a beach or close to water (my other favorite place on this earth), there will be summers of jarring tomatoes, making wine and more zucchini and eggplant than one woman could possibly consume.
Fried Zucchini with Red Wine Vinegar, Basil & Garlic
2-3 zucchini (cut in half and slice lengthwise in 1/4” pieces)
1/4 c. olive oil for frying
2-3 T. red wine vinegar
4-5 cloves of garlic (minced)
10-12 leaves of basil (chiffonade)
-Sun dry zucchini (The more time the better, a full 24 hours in the sun will do it. In my case, I had to avoid the elements and pigeon poop, so drying them in a hot room over night did the trick.)
-In a large frying pan, heat olive oil
-Add zucchini and fry for 1 minute on each side (You’ll notice the dried zucchini will fry/brown super quickly because all of the moisture is now gone.)
-Let drain on a paper towel
-Layer zucchini in a 8x8 pyrex dish, sprinkling with salt, lightly dousing with vinegar, garlic and basil (repeat until layering is complete)
-Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight (The longer this dish sits, the more flavorful it gets)
Jicama & Mango Salad
Honey Lime Chicken Tostadas
After 10 plus visits to various neighborhood delis, restaurants, trucks and even tracking down a lady rolling a granny cart stacked with packed coolers, I’m still hooked on Mexican flavors. Over the past month, along with some friends (who I kindly call Team Taco), we’ve probably managed to eat our weight in tacos, tostadas, tamales, sopes, huaraches, spicy tripe, nopales, and chilaquiles.
My love for spice, meat and cilantro has not been lost - instead a strange surge of cravings has surfaced.
Admittedly, I rarely eat out meals - and I like it that way. I was the kid that didn’t go out to lunch and could be found in a corner of the lunchroom, book in hand and chowing down on lentils , pasta patate or cabbage and rice (straight out of a California Raisins thermos). I grew up in a home where we never went out to dinner or ordered in. Mom would shop at large produce markets on Ave. U, in Brooklyn, and walk out with 12 bags filled with greens, root vegetables, beans and what not for $60 (which fed a family of 5+ for a week). Father’s Day was the only exception to the dining out rule because my grandpa favored Danny’s Szechuan Garden. Their offering of orange beef served on giant, crispy, bright green romaine leaves with red chilies, thick brown sauce and flecks of orange peel was his kryptonite. Food for all other occasions - be it a birthday, Mother’s day and all holiday’s were prepared at home.
I’d be lying if I didn’t note that this month of eating out has been a huge struggle for me. My life is centered around cooking at home and the joys of food shopping (I also have a strong connection to my couch and Netflix). I eat out maybe 3-4 times a month. Typically I spend Sunday’s preparing for my week of meals and lunch packing. Compulsive, maybe? But it’s the only way I know how to keep off 150 lbs and it’s worked for the past 10 years.
Given an evening to cook at home (they’ve been rare and, truth be told, I made this meal 3 weeks ago), I craved spices, cilantro, onions, green sauce and meat. I wanted a meal that was lighter than the deli-made chorizo tacos I’d been chowing down on (which tasted so good, but left me with morning regrets. Like many men I went home with in my 20’s).
Happily surprised that my local supermarket had nopales and tomatillos, I knew what I was supposed to be making at home.
Throughout this Mexican food award tour, there have been bad nopales and good nopales. My preference is grilled (some came steamed and sitting in water baths - not my style), but I braved my oven for this meal because I could only imagine they would be delicious slightly charred and roasted when slicked up with olive oil and salt. When cooked, the taste of a nopale could be likened to the flavor that would come about if an asparagus slept with a string bean. Somehow those two skinny bitches would make this giant, flat, paddle like, thorny threat of a vegetable.
Salsa verde samplings also ranged from stellar to poor. Thank you, Rick Bayless (I prefer roasting and adding more garlic and less water, per comments on the site).
The chicken was seasoned with fresh green and red chilies cumin, adobo, fresh garlic, honey and lime, and served with a side salad of jicama and mango (the delis were DELIGHTFUL but crunchy super fresh and a sort of sweet salad was in order).
Dear Kitchen, Pots, Pans, Knives, Mixing Bowls and Cutting Boards,
I’m glad we’re back together.
Chicken & Marinade
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast (sliced thinly crosswise and cut into chunks)
1/4 c. olive oil divided)
Juice of 2 limes
1 1/2 tsp. adobo
2 tsp. cumin
4 cloves garlic (minced)
3 chilies (red and green, seeded and diced)
3 T. honey
-Set chicken pieces in a pyrex dish with all ingredients, mix to coat, and let sit for 30 minutes
-Add remaining oil to a pan, over a medium high flame, and cook chicken (strained from liquid) for 8-12 minutes until no longer pink
-Spoon chicken on tostadas, top with fresh cilantro and onions and/or salsa verde
4-6 nopales (de-thorned and sliced lengthwise)
1/4 c. olive oil
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees
-Coat nopales in olive oil, salt and pepper
-Roast on a baking sheet (spreading out evenly) for 20-25 minutes until browned on edges
Jicama & Mango Salad with Chili Lime Dressing
1 mango (cut into cubes)
1 jicama (sliced lengthwise)
1 small red onion (thinly sliced)
Juice of 1 lime
2 T. olive oil
3 T. chopped cilantro
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
-Place mango, jicama and red onions in a large bowl and toss with lime juice, olive oil, and cilantro
-Salt, pepper and serve
Beet & Radish Greens with Rice Vermicelli
Pork Larb Letttuce Wrap
Once a month I walk into my office to find a Food & Wine magazine on my chair.
You may be wondering how this magazine mysteriously appears every month…
A good friend, who shall remain unnamed, moved into an apartment where the last tenants never transferred their subscription to Food & Wine - so she has bestowed upon me this monthly gift.
I’m trying to get in the habit of using more recipes to cook, so I’m not drawing everything from past meals with my family and our four star Southern Italian peasant food (which I do love to make and share).
Why not use this stolen, rather, found (stolen is harsh and it’s not really stolen), magazine subscription to do so?
I took the liberty of tweaking the Food & Wine recipe for Thai lettuce wraps by adding radishes and cucumbers so there was more crunch with my meat (since boston lettuce is so buttery and soft, and the red onions were the only item to add different texture alongside the meat). I also added more lime to the dressing to balance the sweet of the sugar and heat from the chiles.
Using leftover beet and radish greens from the farmers market (I never waste my greens, they always make their way into a meal) I cooked up some rice noodles; infusing those with similar Asian flavors of fish sauce, sugar, chiles, garlic, shallots and lime - to tie it in to the lettuce wraps.
A refreshing meal for a 90 degree night.
*The meat from the lettuce wraps was spooned a top the noodles so as to combine leftovers and make a tasty lunch.
Rice Vermicelli with Beet & Radish Greens
1/2 pack of rice vermicelli (cooked until soft)
Greens (spinach, diced bok choy or any left-over leafy greens work - I used beet and radish greens)
2 T. sunflower oil
6 cloves of garlic (thinly sliced)
2 shallots (minced)
2 chiles (minced - do not discard seeds)
2 tsp. sugar
1 T. fish sauce
Juice of 2 limes
-In a large skillet, heat oil and cook garlic and shallot until light brown
-Add chiles and saute for an additional 2 minutes
-Add sugar and fish sauce, mixing with ingredients until sugar dissolves
-Add greens and saute until cooked down
-Salt and remove from heat
-Add noodles to the greens and top with lime juice
Pork Larb Lettuce Wrap
*I doubled the Food & Wine recipe and added 3 diced radishes and half of a cucumber - also diced.
Every Sunday, after church, my dad and I would go to Landi’s Pork Store. After church, this was the place to be - as women in their Sunday best lined up, shoved and shouted orders over one another; flirting with the young deli men behind the counter.
Jerry Corrado, silent and strong - no pushing or shoving, but giving a steady nod to the owner across the store - would grab a ticket and get in line to order up the usual round of goods to accompany our dinner.
My dad swore by Landi’s pin-wheel sausage, grizzly, speckled with parsley, and perfectly coiled so it could easily rest on a barbecue grill rack. Their potato croquettes, stuffed with ham and mozzarella, rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried can make my mouth water just upon conjuring up the memory of them - pudgy, oily and squished in their little rectangular foil container awaiting a date with my maw.
To the right of the meat case was the antipasto display. I stared (and can still stare) at that antipasto case for hours. Oily mushrooms sitting in fresh herbs and vinegar, crunchy antipasto salad coated with little yellow pearls of oil, tomatoes and olives, doused with lemon juice and parsley. Olives so round, wrinkly, and speckled with red pepper flakes - pitted and sitting in individual pools of black salted water - they were all beautiful in their own right. I listened to my father order each and every item. He always went over board. Everyone in there loved Jerry Corrado, and I stood quietly next to him. His smaller chubby shadow, the little girl he made and fed well.
The guys behind the counter would smile at me in my too tight Sunday dress, and I would look down at the saw dust covered tiled floor - concentrating on my my muffin top feet as they burst out from top of my little white flats. Getting lost in the eyelet trim around my socks; I always begged my mom for eyelet socks. My dresses and skirts were often too tight, but I could always look down to spy pretty ankles.
I was shy. I couldn’t look any of them in the eye, as they sliced, smiled, laughed, cursed and sounded so Brooklyn - wiping their hands on their white smocks, adding to the sauce, oil and meat stains that were already there.
I was offered tastings of mozzarella and soppressata over the counter. The deli man would reach, meet my hand with a salty treat and I would smile, accept, fill my mouth and dart my eyes directly back to the floor. I would chew in silence, without muttering a word.
Every Sunday this process excited me, although I’m sure I came off as being Jerry’s mute daughter (things have certainly changed since then).
I would help my father carry his bags out to the car. Sometimes one of the deli guys would help, open the door, take my hand - lead me into the van - and prop plastic bags, donning a giant pig logo, all around me. As my father drove away from Landi’s I would crane my neck - as if wanting to extend my whole body through the glass of the back window - so I could have one more moment with man behind the counter who passed me my salty snacks.
Toto Cutugno was playing on cassette, and I could see my dad moving his lips and mouthing the words to his L’Italiano. While he sang I would sneak my hands into each bag, feeling around for a container to open. Once my fingers met a lid, I’d pop the cover off and grab what I could. An olive, a piece of celery, a tomato. My father was lost in his music and had no clue what I was up to as I sat in the back seat lost in my own world of salt, snacking, and crunchy celery - wishing I’d said thank you to the deli man who graciously sated my mind and belly.
This salad works as a refreshing antipasto. Add pieces fresh mozzarella and/or soppressata to the mix and eat as a meal with warm crostini or a piece of bread.
Simple, salty, satisfying and delicious.
6 ribs of celery (chopped, including leaves)
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes (halved)
1 roasted red pepper (sliced)
1/2 can of artichoke hearts
3-4 cloves of garlic (minced)
20-30 olives (pitted and halved)
1/4 flat leaf parsley (coarsely chopped)
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 c. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Optional (not pictured here because I’m detoxing from momo, milanese and taco overload from this past weekends eating explorations)
4-6 oz. fresh mozzarella (cubed)
4 oz. soppressata (cut into thin rounds)
-Add first 6 ingredients to a bowl and toss with salt and pepper
-Optional: add mozzarella and soppressata for a more satisfying starter, side or meal
Below photos, courtesy of Owen Young
I met Lily and Owen in a train station in Barcelona, back in 2010. Lily and Owen were traveling with friends, Rose and John. We happened to be headed in the same direction - so together we went, Kiwis and an original Brooklynite, on the Funicular de Montjuic. We spent the day walking, touring the Joan Miro museum, talking food, New York, New Zealand, what we’d seen in Barcelona so far.
Owen and I had the same camera, and we bonded over this. We compared photos from our day trips and, of course, poured over every photo containing food. Lily had this special way of making me feel at home, and while we walked we talked about baking pans, spices and cooking. John was quiet and intelligent - stating historical and military facts as we stood at the top of Montjuic Castle. John was balanced by his wife Rose. I knew Rose would be hilarious. From the moment I saw her giant smile, and the way she instantly hugged me, I felt a connection. The both of us tend to make wacky faces, cuss for emphasis when telling a story and enjoy posing for pictures. After spending the day with her, I decided I wanted to grow up to be as smiley and forthcoming as Rose. After spending the day with these incredible couples, I knew that I was meant to go on this trip alone; all so I could come back with a better sense of the things I really want in this life.
I’m so emotional right now.
Since we weren’t sick of one another after spending hours on the top of a giant hill, we planned to meet at La Boqueria the following morning.
We missed one another.
My new friends went back to New Zealand and I didn’t have the opportunity to officially say goodbye. Lily and Owen have emailed weekly and follow my whereabouts on nomnoms. These two are great travelers, wonderful parents, kind souls, good eaters and stellar cooks. Over the past 2 years we’ve stayed in touch, and I recently had the opportunity to see them again. We were able to share the meal that never was when were in Barcelona.
Rose and John were very missed, so I’m hoping they’ll make it to New York - or I’ll make it to New Zealand - sometime soon.
Roasted Bell Peppers
*for instructions on roasting peppers
2-3 T. extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic (sliced thinly)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
-Roast peppers according to instructions
-Slice lengthwise and place in a bowl
-Cover with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper
-Let sit in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours
-Serve with bread, use on sandwiches, salads, meats
1 large eggplant
2 c. ricotta
1/2 c. mozzarella
1/4 c. pecorino
10 basil leaves (chiffonade)
Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and non-stick cooking spray
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Slice eggplant, lengthwise into 1/2-1” slices
-Sprinkle with salt and set aside for 15 minutes (this will release the water from the eggplant so you can get a good grill)
-In the meantime, mix ricotta, mozzarella, pecorino, salt & pepper (to taste) together
-Beat the egg and combine with the mixture
-Fold in basil and put the aside
-Coat grill pan (if you’re fortunate enough, your real grill) with non-stick cooking spray and let heat over a medium low flame
-Pat eggplant dry with a paper towel and place eggplant on the heated grill, cooking eggplant about 3-4 minutes on each side
-Coat large pyrex dish with non-stick cooking spray
-Place 1-2 T. of cheese filling in each piece of grilled eggplant and roll tightly
-As you’re working, transfer rolled eggplant to your prepped pyrex dish, seam side down (repeat until done)
-Spoon red sauce over top of eggplant and let bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until just heated through
Spaghetti Garlic & Oil with Toasted Breadcrumbs & Walnuts
1 lb. thin spaghetti
10-12 cloves of garlic (peeled, smashed and chopped)
1 c. flat leaf parsley (chopped)
1 T. red pepper flakes (you can certainly use less)
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c. bread crumbs
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
1 T. lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pecorino for serving
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
-Place breadcrumbs and walnuts in a small pan, over a medium flame (watching not to burn), and toast until deep brown - about 4-5 minutes, and put aside
-To a small sauce pan add parsley, garlic, olive oil, sprinkle of salt, red pepper flakes
-Heat mixture over a medium flame - just until you can smell the garlic - about 5-7 minutes
-Cook pasta according to instructions, reserving 1 c. of pasta water, and drain
-Toss spaghetti with garlic and oil (add some reserved pasta water if pasta looks dry)
-Sprinkle with breadcrumbs, walnuts, top with lemon zest, drizzle with olive oil
-Plate and serve with a heap of grated pecorino