Coconut Peas and Rice
Fried fish with green seasoning
Recipes follow story
One of my biggest crushes in this life, bigger than my crush on Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman and apple crumb pie a la mode …
Aubrey Leander DeSilva.
Who is Aubrey Leander DeSilva?
My first crush. Aubrey lived across the street from me and his house directly faced my back yard. From his garage, and from my grandpas garden, we would talk on the phone, every day, after school. He was 14 and I was 12. He was Guyanese, he dj’d, he could dance - and I was chubby and self-conscious. He would tell me I had beautiful hair, he would always ask me what I was reading whenever he saw me shuffling around with a book. He was a dream.
When I stepped off of the L train and set foot on Rockaway Parkway 2 weekends ago, I wondered where Aubrey was. I wished he would be waiting in front of the library for me, where he used to pick me up after school, but no such luck.
I walked past the library, past Canarsie High School, past bodegas where I would buy cigarettes for 10 cents a piece.
I arrived at Avenue L, where I would go to the movies, eat a slice, then eat an icey, then gobble down a pastry.
This time around I didn’t have a slice, icey or pastry, my friend and I closed in a little West Indian market between 94th and 95th Street - that is after we stuffed ourselves on Jamaican food for lunch.
Orin Small is originally from Guyana and has lived in Canarsie for the past 16 years and he opened his specialty West Indian Food Market 12 years ago. His motivation; one day his wife sent him out to purchase mixed essence, and there was none to be found in the neighborhood. Mixed essence contains vanilla, pear oil, almond oil, pineapple and caramel - among some other flavors - and from what I learned, it’s a key ingredient in black cake or rum cake a traditional holiday treat enjoyed in Guyana and throughout the Caribbean. Orin Small saw this as an opportunity to build a go to market in Canarsie, where residents could seek out ingredients to make meals they would always enjoy at home.
Standing close by Orin was his son, Roland. Roland Small may only be 15 years old, but he knows a thing or two about making a sale and giving cooking tutorials.
For the child who is raised among family meals and a culture rooted in the tradition of cooking, sharing memories of food will always be the first thing on their mind. Well, at least that’s the case for me and Roland.
I walked out of the store on Saturday night, learning how to make the Small’s version of Guyanese green seasoning, as they prepare it in their own home.
It was recommended that I use this green seasoning on any kind of white fish and then fry it up, until the rub gets crispy. The Small’s enjoy their fried fish with coconut peas and rice or plantains, and they also shared their recipe for brown gravy.
Going back to Canarsie didn’t land me in the arms of my childhood crush, it brought me back to my only love - my kitchen.
*makes 2 cups
1 T. oil
1 medium onion (diced)
1 bunch scallions (diced)
1/2 pint grape tomatoes (halved)
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
3 wiri wiri peppers (minced)
3/4 c. water
1 c. Miracle Seasoning
-In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium flame
-Add onions and scallions, sauteing until fragrant about 5-7 minutes
-Add garlic, tomatoes and wiri wiri pepper - and cook for an additional 10-12 minutes, stirring frequently
-Add Miracle Seasoning and bring to a boil
-Put aside until fish is fried and ready to serve
*rub for 8 filets
1/3 c. dried broad leaf thyme
1/3 c. dried fine leaf thyme
1/2 c. fresh basil
2 cloves garlic
3 wiri wiri pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
8 pieces of butter fish (or any white fleshed fish filet)
3 T. vegetable oil
-In a food processor, fit with a steel blade, add first 7 ingredients and pulse until blended
-Rub green seasoning on fish and put aside
-Add oil to a large skillet, and place over medium flame, frying rubbed fish - in batches - cooking for approximately 3 minutes on each side (depending on thickness/size of filet)
-Top with brown gravy or serve on the side
5 green plantains
Vegetable oil for frying
-Soak plantains in scalding hot water for 7-10 minutes, for ease of peeling
-Fill a medium sauce pan, halfway, with oil and place over medium flame - allowing to reach 375 degrees
-If you do not have a thermometer or a deep fryer, test the oil by tossing in a piece of plantain, and if it floats to the top within moments - you’re good to start frying
-Trim top of plantain, make a slice through the skin of the plantain - lengthwise - and remove skin
-Cut plantains in half
-Using a mandolin, if you have one, slice lengthwise into long strips
-If you do not own a mandolin, make lengthwise slices or slice plantain into thin rounds
-Add plantains to the hot oil, frying in batches, until deep golden brown
Coconut Peas and Rice
2 c. parboiled rice
1 c. yellow split peas
1 14 oz can coconut milk
1 1/4 c. water
1 small onion (diced)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
-To a large stock pot, add peas, rice, diced onion, coconut milk, salt and pepper
-Place pot over a low flame and cover
-Cook until all liquid is completely absorbed
-Serve with fried, herb rubbed, white fish
I packed a carry-on.
Five days of beach, food and family stress in front of me.
I promised myself, more beach and food than stress.
I succeeded, I think. Who doesn’t go home to visit family and return to their own lives completely unscathed? I’d love to meet the gent or gal who can do that, so they can give me some pointers.
Regardless, I went down with the best thoughts in mind. I hadn’t seen my family in almost 6 months. I was craving mother’s cooking and dimply smile, dad’s hugs and ridiculously kind words, Lou and Tom’s awkward brother silence, bonding time with my soon to be sister in law and bonus laughs and meal time with my aunt and uncle.
I packed a carry on.
I packed a carry on with 6 wife beaters, stretch pants, a sundress 2 bathing suits, 2 dozen bialys, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, frozen fava beans and my dad’s favorite licorice. I was trafficking more food than clothing. I don’t think I even packed underwear, as my intention was to be in a bathing suit for the majority of my days. A bathing suit is bra and underwear built into one and it also has the ability to graciously expand while eating.
I was set.
I spoke to my mother the evening before I left, I said: my first stop will be to your refrigerator and then to the beach. She replied: I’m sure it will be, Tinamarie. My mother knows me all too well. I can’t sun on an empty stomach. I need to be satisfied. Not full, but just full enough to sustain my tanning energy through lunch.
On the same call, she asked if I wanted her to make me anything special. I’m 31 and love that my mother and my aunt, without fail, every time I visit, ask if I want anything special. I requested a roasted vegetable tart that my mom makes. It’s impeccable. A work of art, really. Layers of roasted eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, onions, tomatoes and grated pecorino - swaddled in a homemade cornmeal shell. This is one of my favorite food items on the planet. Were I to make it, it just wouldn’t taste the same. I haven’t even attempted to make it at home. This is my mom’s mini-masterpiece. I want it to remain my mom’s mini-masterpiece. I want it to be something my mom will forever make when she knows I’m coming home for a visit…
I opened the refrigerator door, the one in the kitchen - not to be confused with the one in the garage - as we have 2 refrigerators - and found a vegetable tart that was thick and stacked and laden with love.
Like the perfect mother, my favorite beach and pool snack was awaiting me.
She cut me a piece for lunch. We sat together, at the dining room table and ate. Tania and my dad joined us. And, although I didn’t want to share my vegetable tart - I did.
I did share it.
Quite reluctantly and with a half “of course I’ll share this!” smile.
With the 110 degree heat index, I sunned myself much like I normally do - with SPF 15 and like a rotisserie chicken. I turn my body, in my chair, like a human sun dial. Straps down, chest out, 30 minutes. Rotate. I even got my mother to join me. We’d pack a cooler, together, in the morning. Vegetable tart, roasted vegetable dip (my other favorite), crackers, cubes of Jarlsberg cheese, watermelon and chocolate chip cookies. And water. Yes, water is important when sunning and taking in so much salt.
The 5 days went to0 quickly.
The food didn’t stop coming.
Below are the noms with a brief description of each.
Roasted Vegetable Tart
No further description is needed.
This veggie tart is the noms.
Made by Mom with hints of sesame oil and diced scallion; making this slaw a treat and a delightful accompaniment to any family BBQ (which it was, see steak below).
First boiled, then rolled in oil and salt and placed on the grill.
Next time I want mom and dad to take this to another place…
Like with mayonaise, queso fresco, cayenne and scallions and chives sprinkled on top. Note to self.
Grilled by Dad and Uncle Al, but prepared and marinated by mom, these pieces of steak were big. Like Fred Flinstone big and marinated with a brown sugar and soy sauce concoction. The asian slaw made a fantastic side for this steak.
The epic Chilean hot dog I’d been telling my family about for 5 years - since my trip to Chile. Diced avocado, tomatoes and onion perfectly spooned a top a grilled weiner and topped with mayonaisa. I like to line my bun with the mayo and plop the dog and trimmings on top. My mom agreed that this is an exceptional way to wolf down a weiner.
Spaghetti Aglio et Olio
A la Aunt Deb - this was the main pasta for Father’s Day with the Corrado’s and Parker’s.
Mussels In White Wine
Also prepared at the hands of Aunt Deb - the mussels were served as the after pasta pickins.’ I could drink shallot, wine and butter broth now. At 11 am.
Tilapia With Peach Salsa & Cous Cous With Sauteed Zucchini
Mom worked late, so Auntie made some tilapia with a sweet and spicy dry rub for dinner. The tilapia was rubbed down, drizzled with olive oil, baked in the oven and topped with peach salsa. I did some minimalist cooking, by dicing up some zucchini and onions and sauteing, to add a little flare to some cous cous.
This is another Auntie staple - bulgar steeped in hot water and mixed with various veggies and dressed with olive oil. She often serves this with fennel, avocado and grilled chicken - for a fancy little lunch that always impresses the masses.
BBQ Baby Back Ribs With Homemade Special Sauce
Aunt Deb thought my last meal should end on the pig. Since I do so very much dig the pig. Mom whipped up some awesome BBQ sauce, from scratch, with ketchup, brown sugar and other ingredients (I was too busy taste testing) and Dad, Lou and Tania stood in front of the BBQ, in the 110 degree heat to make this farewell meal one I will crave until the next time we meet.
All the baby back ribs that made their way to my tummy
Biscuit (Southern, nommy, buttered and grilled) Biscuit
No trip to South Carolina would be complete without a big, fat, buttermilk good and buttered up - biscuit. Dad and I shared a very emotional and delightful breakfast at the Eggs Up Grill - before I departed on my flight back to NY. The biscuit, as always, quite memorable. The time with my dad, stamped in my being - forever. Big guy, big heart, beautiful words.
Asparagus & Herb Frittata
*Recipe follows story
Last Sunday I was lucky enough to wake up with two of my favorite men.
Stop being perverted.
It was Father’s Day, remember?
A very fine Sunday in South Carolina was spent with my pop and my Uncle Al.
And my mom and my aunt.
And my choochie brothers and my brother Lou’s darling fiance.
Aunt Deb let my father and Uncle Al decide what they wanted for their special dinner (earlier on in the week, before I arrived), and they settled on spaghetti aglio et olio (garlic & oil) and mussels (in white wine sauce, not in red sauce - like Uncle Al’s Aunt Millie used to make).
It was very kind of my aunt to ask the men what they wanted for dinner, very kind indeed.
I didn’t let the men decide what they wanted for breakfast.
I’m not that kind.
And then I felt badly about my bad habit of pre-planning…
Nom noms is all about pleasing the masses but sometimes the requests aren’t manageable, so I find operating under a dictatorship (when cooking for family) eases my stress level (wow, I sound nutty) - particularly since I already had something in mind…
I hauled bialys down south, all the way from Queens. Two dozen bialys to be exact. And if you haven’t had the pleasure of lopping gobs of Temp Tee whipped cream cheese onto this slightly doughy and onion filled delight, I suggest you please your palette and your belly by doing so sometime soon…
Bialy’s are something one cannot obtain in South Carolina, so I always make a stop at my local Key Food to smuggle the goods down south whenever I’m making a trip. But these aren’t just any bialys. The bialys that my local Key Food carries are shipped in from the Bell Bialy plant in Canarsie. From my old neighborhood, to Queens, to South Carolina, to land in mouths and bellies that are all too familiar with their taste and insane nomminess factor…
My Father’s Day breakfast would be partially built around this chewy yeast roll…
The bialy tastes lovely with cream cheese, yes it does, but even better with smoked salmon. When I was a tot, Sunday’s after church meant making a trip to Flatlands Bagel and or Bell Bialy for bags and bags of carbohydrates and smoked fish. We might have been the only full blown Italian family waiting on those long lines after church.
Oh, to be a happy gentile family in love with the nommy Jewish delights.
My Father’s Day breakfast was inspired by waiting in long lines for smoky, salty salmon.
But I needed more than bialy’s stacked with cream cheese and salmon, I needed a piece of the meal to fit Uncle.
I pulled a page out of Aunt Deb’s Sunday breakfast book - which often includes herb infused frittatas…
With access to my mothers herb garden, and leftover grilled asparagus from dinner the evening before, the breakfast menu was officially set.
I also liked that when I brought the frittata to the table - I wished the men a Happy Frittata’s Day.
I thought it was cute.
Asparagus & Herb Frittata
3 T. half & half
1/2 c. fontina cheese - divided (grated or thinly sliced)
1/4 c. pecorino romano
1 c. grilled asparagus (or really any grilled or roasted vegetable of your choice, if you want to substitute)
1 T. olive oil or butter
1 bunch of scallions (whites only, sliced thinly - reserving greens for garnishing)
2-3 T. minced fresh herbs (chives, parsley, basil, thyme)
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-In a large bowl, whisk eggs, half & half, 1/4 c. fontina cheese and all pecorino romano cheese and put aside
-Place a large cast iron skillet over medium heat, adding butter and sauteing scallions until fragrant
-Pour egg mixture in to the cast iron pan, adding grilled asparagus and herbs
-Let eggs cook, until edges turn a medium brown and the top of the omelette begins to set - about 10-12 minutes
-Sprinkle the top of the eggs with the remaining fontina cheese, then place the pan in to the oven and bake until the top is completely set and cheese is melted - about 6-8 minutes
-Garnish with herbs and scallion greens, slice and serve immediately
Luke’s Lobster Roll
The NYC Lobster Roll Rumble was on June 9th.
I didn’t attend the Lobster Roll Rumble, as I was in a pork rumble - with myself. I wanted to go, but couldn’t find any takers on the expedition - and what fun is it to sample 17 different lobster rolls on your own?
Instead, on Tuesday night, Channon and I went to check out last years reigning champion…
Luke’s Lobster has 4 locations: East Village, Upper East Side, Upper West Side and a food truck.
There were a few factors that led us to the Upper West location:
-proximity to MTV and NY Times, where Channon and I work
-it was pouring
-13 stools for stay-in dining and a bathroom
The original Luke’s Lobster is in the East Village and has 6 stools for seating and no public restroom, which is fine by my standards - so long as it’s not raining - but sitting in Tompkins Square Park with a 40 oz. in a paper bag, a full bladder and a soggy lobster roll wasn’t exactly the nomming rumble I was fantasizing about…
We walked through Times Square and made it up to Lincoln Center before the downpour happened. Hopping on the 1 at 66th Street was our best bet - and so we arrived to 79th Street - ready for our own Lobster Roll Rumble. I knew this would be good. My little Channon might be tiny, but she’s packing heat and she knows how to order.
Upon exiting the train, Channon turned to me and said: You know, Tina, I went to this great Spanish dance club - somewhere around here - not too long ago. They played really great music.
I love Channon, only she would find a solid Spanish dance venue on the Upper White Side. Only Channon would find a place to go and get her grind on - even if it were to be amidst brownstones, strollers and fluffy puppies.
This is why we’re friends.
While I’m home looking up places to go stuff myself on lobster rolls, Chan’s is mixing it up in the club.
We balance each other out.
Channon says I’m her sunshine - but she’s the same for me.
Channon has a great sense of style, gives amazingly thoughtful gifts and eats like a man. If we keep making plans to go see movies like X-Men together, go for long walks, and continue to indulge in big fat lobster rolls followed by bowls of ice cream - I might try to put the moves on her.
I have a term for female friends I do all of the above boyfriend activities with.
I call them my FRIENDSBIANS.
Except there’s no making out or touching involved. Except for that one time.
I kid. I kid.
Channon and I rolled up to Luke’s…
Channon, being the powerhouse she is, took one look at the chalkboard menu and decided that ordering a sampler was of the utmost importance.
Channon read my mind and, so, we ordered Noah’s Ark.
I know, it sounds like a lot of food, but if you don’t like a poo-poo platter then we can’t hang - and we wouldn’t make very good friends anyway…
The Ark included:
2 half lobster rolls
2 half shrimp rolls
2 half crab rolls
4 empress crab claws
2 bags of Miss Vickie’s Chips
2 Maine Root Sodas
Channon and I hadn’t even gotten our Ark yet, and we were imagining we might need some Chowda to top us off…
We’re bad when we eat together, as we always predict we’ll need more food to fill us before we even begin eating…
But it was ok, as we figured we could justify consuming the above + chowder by shaking it off at the Spanish dance club afterwards…
The Arrival of The Ark:
It was agreed between Chans and I that Luke’s Lobster roll was quite luscious and satisfying. It truly was the perfect lobster roll if you’re the type of nommer that enjoys a mouth full of crustacean and not a lobster roll laden with the mask of a mountain of mayonaise. The generous honks of lobster were served inside of a toasted, split top butter bun. The bottom of the buttered bun was barely brushed with a smatter of mayonaise, then topped with the lobster and sprinkled with some of Luke’s nommy nom nom original spicy essence.
As noted above, delectable.
And It turned out we didn’t need chowder to fill our tummies, as we were at capacity.
But we were in need of a digestion dance or a walk
We opted for a walk. And gelato - on the stairs at Lincoln Center.
Romantic. I know.
However, before we left on our walk, Chans presented me with a very pretty paper bag - tied together ever so delicately with a little yellow ribbon.
Is she not a dream?
Tucked inside of the bag was a card; and the envelope read: You’ll never know, dear, how much, I love you.
I feel the same way about my little friendsbian.
Chan’s perfectly wrapped 2 CD’s filled with music. From mixes that included R. Kelly and Omarrion to Aretha and Cesaria Evora. She also included a CD called French Cafe - where she wrote a note that said: listen to this and imagine we’re in a little cafe in Paris. Or imagine it’s playing in your very own cafe.
Since I met Chan’s, 9 years ago, when I was the receptionist at Lifetime Television, she’s known about my nom nom dreams and helped me believe.
The gift of believing is the best gift one can get.
At least I think so.
And lobster rolls, gelato, music and kind words aren’t too shabby either.
I’m going to close on a song for Chan’s (which I have noted on nom noms before - but she’s worthy of a reprise):
The one I adore,
Love you forever
I’m just a fool,
A fool in love with you
Smoked Salmon And Avocado Sandwich With Scallion Cream Cheese
I walked out of my apartment last Monday and greeted the world with a smile. A Monday morning smile can be likened to a half smile, accompanied by a somewhat suspect squint of the eye and a raised brow. Sure, nothing has gone wrong yet - that’s what I love most about mornings - but something is always bound to go awry. It’s a part of life.
It was a Monday.
It was also overcast, somewhat cloudy and chilly - but I decided to go for a walk anyway. I’ve eaten one too many pieces of pork in the past month - and topped my meals off with sweets - often 2 times a day - to let cloudiness be a valid excuse to forgo a walk.
As I neared the park, I was met with the eminent scent of poop and throughout the entirety of my walk I couldn’t escape the smell. I lifted my sneakers and checked the bottoms, every few blocks or so, to make sure it wasn’t me. Ever since I walked into my first grade class with poop on my sneaker, not realizing I was the harbinger of the scent, I’ve been completely paranoid. Even when it’s not me, I think it’s me. Childhood scars never seem to fade.
I walked alone, to be met by what I could only imagine was a men’s meet up running group.
I never enjoyed running much. A long distance walk. I could walk miles through the city or farmland and not think twice. When I jogged, I was constantly thinking about the act itself. Oh, my boobs are hitting my belly. Oh, that was my ass hitting my upper thigh. Oh, that was my arm wing hitting the side of my torso. And on. I used to call my walk/jog morning expeditions wogging - you know - the combined word play of walking and jogging. I no longer wogg, I just walk. So, as I walked - herds of men ran past me in Muscle Milk t-shirts. Some pubescent, some with wedding bands, some moving slowly - round faces flushed and almost waddling, others with chiseled faces and movements more similar to soaring and taking flight than running.
They all breezed past me and glared at me with disdain.
They were probably thinking: who brought the walker to this side of the river? We are men. We run here.
Where was my old man, in his khakis, white undershirt and hat?
Where was my crazy Spanish friend with his old pitbull that tried to eat Josie?
Where was my familiarity?
Where was my comfort zone?
Had my world changed so much without Josie as my walking accompaniment and accessory?
Had one winter indoors left my beloved Astoria smelling like poop?
Had these giant men trampled over my friends and kicked them into the East River?
Would I be next?
In taking this walk, I was intentionally seeking an old feeling. I wanted familiar solitude.
I needed a hug from mother earth, and she met me with a bitch slap.
That’s been happening to me often…
I haven’t taken the time to sit at my kitchen table and eat breakfast, not in at least 2 months. During the work week that is.
After my crooked morning walk, Ezekial Bread mounded with homemade scallion cream cheese, smoked lox and avocado was what I needed. I can’t lie, the Ezekial Bread paled in comparison to the bagel I enjoyed while sunning in Socrates sculpture park yesterday - but my cream cheese was super scallion-y and defined bad breath special - which is how I like my cream cheese and bagel - super stinky. Brooklyn Bagel was going lighter on the scallions, but their bagel is the most perfect I’ve had. I can’t even attempt to make the bagel, so here’s the secret to super stinky scallion cream cheese: finely chop 1 whole bunch of scallions (whites and greens) and mix in to room temperature cream cheese. Layer toast with cream cheese, lox and thin slices of avocado - on any bread of your choice.
In case you’re wondering, I took a different route for my morning walk today. The thought of being bombarded by a herd of running men was too scary to confront after such a quiet weekend.
Mussels In Butter & White Wine
*Recipe follows story
I love mussels and I can clear many a delectable shell all on my own.
And, tonight I did.
When I want to treat myself and fall back in love with eating alone (because sometimes it does get lonely when I cook and the company is limited), a buttery mussel reminds me that everything is ok.
Tonight I sat at my kitchen table, in the chair that looks into my apartment. My kitchen and living room are a combined space. No music, no tv, no book, no phone, no computer next to me. All I heard and listened to was the sound of my own breathing and slurping. My mind wasn’t even chattering as much as it usually does. My mind felt empty but I was aware of how much I was enjoying my butter and wine drenched bowl of mussels. I sat for an hour and half in silence, only getting up to refill my bowl. Every time I reached in to the pot (I went back twice) I breathed in the butter and wine and let it sink into my body. I sat back down and repeated the ritual of eating and listening to myself breathing and slurping.
After dinner, I washed my dishes and placed them in the drainboard with calculation. I have to wash my dishes immediately following any meal. I don’t like an unkempt sink. I enjoy order and the thought of dishes in the sink makes me hive. I wouldn’t have enjoyed the rest of my night so much had those dishes remained. I thoroughly enjoy the ritual of washing and placing each dish in their proper spot in the drainboard. At this point I should admit to everyone that I’m a bit of a neat freak. Precision in my life is a necessity. Control freak, neat freak - I wear it proudly.
I walked over to my new chair. Well, it’s actually old since it was inherited from a friend - but it’s new to me. Some years ago my mother knitted me a giant cream and brown blanket and I’ve slung it over the chair for warmth. I took a seat and wrapped the blanket around my shoulders, noticing the new shag carpet under my feet. I rubbed my feet back and forth and again, I sat in silence. I saw the last few hours of my evening as a flip-book. From my walk home from the subway to this moment in the chair. I let my aloneness soak in to me as happiness, like the butter laden mussel I enjoyed an hour earlier. What I feared about being alone is such the opposite once I let myself really feel it.
Mussels In Butter & White Wine
3 lbs. of mussels (scrubbed and de-bearde, open mussels discarded)
5 shallots (minced)
4 cloves of garlic (minced)
2 T. unsalted butter
1 T. olive oil
1/3 c. dry white wine
-Heat butter and oil in a large stock pot
-Add shallots and saute for 5-7 minutes then add garlic and continue to cook until shallots are translucent - another 3-4 minutes
-Add wine and stir, then add mussels to the pot and give them a few good turns
-Cover pot with a lid and cook for 8-10 minutes, until mussels open (and discard those that do not open)
Place heaps of the mussels and juice in a large bowl, serve with bread and nom.
*Recipe follows story
My Italo-Brooklyn upbringing is the reason why I can never venture anywhere empty handed.
New Years Eve 2002.
I was going to a friends friends house in Port Chester, and I was hitching a ride from the couple I longed to call blood – the big brother and big sister of my heart - Tracie and Mike.
I didn’t have a license then, I don’t have one now…
At 30 years old, Mike and Tra would probably still pick me up if I were in a bind and the MTA was doing me wrong.
Maybe my love for cooking really evolved as a form of payment for the things I can’t do…
Mikie Salads (he was given the name because he loves my salads - sort of my signature back in ‘02) and Tra picked me up at my parents house in Canarsie. It was a big deal that I was leaving the Brooklyn homestead, on New Year’s Eve, and not officially ending or beginning the year with my family. My dad was tweaked. My mom was worried about what my grandparents would think. I had been cooking all day, and my only thought was that of making out at midnight.
Before I left the house, my mom and I assembled a goodie bag of nibbles for the car ride to Port Chester. You know, when you take a 45 minute drive, after you’ve already eaten the entire sea and sucked down 2 lbs. of fried dough covered in warm honey and sprinkles (the great Neopolitan treat of Struffoli - which will be highlighted by the Epiphany, mark my word), you might get hungry. It’s only logical.
Out the door I went.
In a tupperware, I carried shrimp scampi and in a bundle of hot foil, I was housing fried shrimp. I brought along toothpicks as well.
Then there was me, with my high hopes of making out, and my overnight bag.
Only in Brooklyn.
Only in a jeep.
Only with 103.5 KTU humming a mega-mix in the background.
Tra and Mike laughed.
I’m pretty positive we ate all of the nibbles before we even got on to a highway or a bridge (which one, I don’t know - I’m in the car strictly for food and entertainment).
Road trip friendly snacks from the sea, can be found right here…
And they were also enjoyed this New Years Eve with my family.
3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
2 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 c. flat-leaf parsley (finely chopped)
1/3 c. dry white wine
1/2 stick of butter
Juice of 1 lemon
2 pounds large shrimp (peeled and deveined)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
-Heat the olive oil over medium heat
-Add garlic and crushed pepper
-Add shrimp and cook until pink
-Add wine - let cook for 2 minutes to reduce - then add butter
-Lower heat and continue to toss
-Simmer until shrimp are firm (7-8 minutes)
-Remove from heat and place on a platter
-Squeeze lemon over top and garnish with parsley
-Put in tupperware and don’t forget your toothpicks
*When I’m not taking this on the road (NYE 2002 being the only time I ever did), I like to enjoy it - like a civilized human being - spooning the spicy, buttery, winey, shrimp goodness over a bed of fresh spinach. You can also pour the goodness over linguine - with or with out the spinach - whatever it is you like.
30-36 shrimp (peeled and de-veined)
1 egg (lightly beaten with salt and pepper to taste)
1 1/4 c. seasoned bread crumbs
1/3 c. canola oil (vegetable is acceptable)
-Dip shrimp, one by one, in egg and then breadcrumb and repeat - then put to the side
-Heat oil in a frying pan, over medium heat
-Once oil is hot, place shrimp in the pan and let cook for 2-3 minutes on each side - until deep golden brown
Serve with cocktail sauce or lemon wedges
Frankly, I like my fried fish over top of a well dressed salad
Manchego & Anchovy Sandwich
*Recipe follows story
While walking and eating my way through Barcelona, every where I turned, I saw Manchego.
Ok, maybe not every where I turned…
I just happened to stumble upon food quite a bit - and it was always on a menu, at a market or farm stand…
And, when I stumbled upon a purveyor of the manchego, I did what any food loving woman would do; I sampled it.
Sometimes once a day, sometimes 2 times a day, sometimes following a heaping cone of gelato.
I had this incredibly tasty sandwich, in Gracia, on my walk down from Park Guell to La Segrada…
This sandwich was almost as amazingly tasty as my boyfriend Xuxo, the doughnut. I would say he (Manchovy, that’s the sandwich) was Xuxo’s salty counterpart.
Layered thick with anchovies and manchego, I’m still having dirty dreams about him.
And, you know what we should do with dirty dreams, right…
Make them a reality.
Manchego & Anchovy Sandwich
1 piece of crusty hero/Italian bread (I used olive bread because I like my salty item sandwiches with more salty items embedded in it)
1 vine ripened tomato (halved)
2-3 oz manchego (shaved in thin slices to layer)
3-4 anchovies (depending upon how fishy/salty you like your sandwich)
1 T. olive oil
Pinch of red pepper flakes
-Toast bread and rub with tomatoes (discard once all juice have been extracted)
-Drizzle with olive oil
-Layer cheese and anchovies
-Sprinkle with red pepper flakes
-Open your mouth and NOM