Tag Archives: Dinner

Penne with Mushrooms and Pancetta

I know, this is not the most appetizing picture ever. But it’s better then nothing!

It’s a blessing and a curse, guys. I am phenomenal at making basic comfort foods. I know, I know. Humble, too.

You might be thinking, “How in the world is this a curse?” Because in my house, that’s all I ever get asked to make. The below dish is a perfect example. It’s not groundbreaking cuisine here, folks. It’s just a different sauce. But after I made it The BF said, “You gotta make more stuff like THIS!” Ah… more cheesy pasta. Noted.

On the menu:
Penne with mushrooms and pancetta

1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 cup dry red wine (I used Malbec… because I.Love.Malbec.)
8 oz pancetta, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
12 ounces of assorted mushrooms, cut into large pieces (I used baby bellas and crimini but you can use anything fresh)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 Tbsp fresh sage (OR 1 Tbsp dried sage), chopped
1/2 Tbsp fresh rosemary (OR 1/2 tsp dried rosemary), chopped
1 lb penne
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

In a large sauce pan, combine the beef broth and the wine over medium/high heat. Let cook for 18 – 20 minutes until the liquid is reduced to one cup.

In the meantime, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a LARGE pot (the entire pound of pasta will eventually go into this pot so keep that in mind when choosing a size). Add mushrooms and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Cook until softened, around 6 – 8 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to a plate.

[AT THIS TIME: start cooking your penne! Just remember to cook until JUST al dente, and reserve half a cup of the pasta water for later in the recipe]

Add pancetta to the large pot that your mushrooms were in and saute until the pancetta is crispy and brown, around 10 – 12 minutes. Drain off excess fat. Add wine reduction, butter, and herbs to the pot. Simmer until liquid thickens slightly, around 5 minutes. Stir in mushrooms.

Add cooked pasta and 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese to the mushroom mixture. Cook over medium/high heat until the sauce really thickens and coats the pasta, about 7 – 9 minutes, adding a bit of pasta water little by little if the sauce is dry. Plate pasta and top with remaining cheese.

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How to Make Pizza at Home

Today I posted over at Yumm.com on how to make delicious, crusty, pizzeria-style pizza at home! The above picture is a pie I made last week using prosciutto, mozzarella, and basil. It was so freakin’ easy and so, so delicious. Confession: I used store bought sauce. So sue me.

Actually, please don’t. I’m poor.

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Hot Dog Crawl

Have you ever been like, “Man, I could really go for a hot dog” but you have this weird hang up about all the weird bacteria that might be floating in the street carts? I know. I’ve been there. I feel your pain.

What you might not know is that there are tons options in New York City for “gourmet” hot dogs – and by “gourmet” I mean prepared in a real kitchen and served with top notch ingredients. Below are three of the stand out options, all within walking distance of the others. So… you know, should you choose to do a “hot dog crawl,” you could hit all 3 in one shot. But let me warn you, 3 hot dogs in one sitting is a lot. Some might call it too much. Not that I would know from personal experience… I’m just saying.

Jersey’s Finest at Crif Dogs

Crif Dogs, 113 Saint Marks Place (Between 1st Ave and Ave A), New York, NY. Crif Dogs is a tiny, hole in the wall place that you might walk right by were it not for the GIANT hot dog hanging outside the door. Take a walk down the steps and into hipster heaven: if there was any doubt, a note on the register tells you that they accept tips in the form of Tim and Eric quotes. I knew this was my kind of place. I ordered a PBR and a dog called Jersey’s Finest: taylor ham wrapped house dog smothered in mustard, onions & a secret chili sauce*. This was PERFECTION and my favorite hot dog of the three restaurants. It was a total guilty pleasure and probably had a bajillion calories, but who cares? A hot dog wrapped in ham topped with more meat? Ok!

Sidney at AsiaDog

AsiaDog, 66 Kenmare Street (Between Mulberry St and Mott St), New York, NY. I tasted an AsiaDog when they had a small stall at Madison Square Eats, a gathering of specialty food stalls in Madison Square Park. The line was epic, but I waited 45 minutes because first of all, I wanted that dog and second of all, everyone kept raving about how amazing they were. I purchased a Sidney: a beef hot dog with Thai mango relish (cilantro, red onion, and cucumber) and crushed peanuts, and a sparkling limeade. If a hot dog can be refreshing, this one was. The topping was super fresh and crunchy, and the peanuts added an entirely different element that I wasn’t expecting. I love, love, love foods with drastically different textures and this hot dog was one of the best textured dishes I’ve ever had. Well done meals from high end retailers… in hot dog form? I’m telling you kids, it can be done.

Terimayo at JapaDog

JapaDog, 30 Saint Marks Place (Between 2nd Ave and 3rd Ave), New York, NY. This was the last stop on my hot dog tour and I have to believe it had something to do with the fact that it was my least favorite. I ordered the Terimayo: a beef frank with teriyaki sauce, mayo, and seaweed. I scraped off all the seaweed because it reminded me too much of sushi (raw fish and hot dogs just don’t mix, you know?) and then it was pretty good, but nothing crazy or special. The hot dog did not have that crispy skin that I love and the bun was mediocre.

Overall, my hot dog crawl left me feeling full and like I didn’t want to see another hot dog for quite some time. So while I may not recommend hitting all three of these spots at once, I definitely recommend one (or two…) for a cheapo meal any hour of the day.

*For some reason, this item has disappeared from Crif Dogs’ online menu but you can custom build it if you want. I highly recommend that you do.

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Roasted Shrimp with Tomatoes, Capers and Feta


I have a small collection of cookbooks, and truth be told, they serve more as kitchen decoration than anything else. I decided it’s because cooking from a cookbook is a gamble: you really have to trust the cookbook editor and publisher in order to guarantee a great recipe. I made some mediocre apple muffins a couple weeks ago from a cookbook, and I guarantee that if I had searched for the exact recipe online I would’ve found one with tons of notes in the comments and helpful tips on how to make those muffins stellar.

I do, however, have a cookbook that I know is incredible (I used to work for the publisher heeeeeey) and all about roasting: literally called All About Roasting. My hesitation in using it is that roasting, to me, seems super involved and time consuming. But I read through it slowly one blissful warm Saturday morning with a hot cup of coffee and found this incredible shrimp recipe. Turns out roasting doesn’t always mean 4 hours in the oven.

On the menu:
Roasted shrimp with tomatoes, capers and feta
Serves 2

1/2 pound jumbo shrimp
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp vodka
Salt
One 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, or 1 3/4 cups of peeled, seeded, and diced fresh tomatoes
2 Tbsp capers, drained
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with 2 Tbsp of olive oil, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, vodka, and a pinch of salt. Toss and coat and let marinade for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Spread the tomatoes in a shallow baking dish (I used a 8″ x 10″ Pyrex dish), drizzle with remaining Tbsp of olive oil, and sprinkle with capers. Arrange the shrimp on top of the tomatoes and pour extra marinade over the top.

Bake for 8 minutes, or until the shrimp are mostly pink. Using tongs, flip shrimp and cover with feta cheese. Bake for another 8 – 10 minutes or until shrimp are cooked through completely. Feta will be slightly melted.

Note: I served this over buttered orzo and it made a lovely weeknight meal with minimal effort. #Win.

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Summer Means Lobster Rolls

We’ve had the wonkiest weather ever in New York for the past few months, and the warmer temperatures have definitely affected my appetite. Not affected as in like, I lost it (that is reserved only for the most traumatic of traumas, I assure you) but in the way that I’ve been craving summer foods before I’m supposed to. Case in point: the lobster roll. In the interest of full disclosure, I used to work very close to a little spot that sold lobster rolls for $10 and I used to go a sickening amount. Thank God I don’t work at that job anymore… my cholesterol can’t take it anymore.

Anyway, I was craving a lobster roll like I can’t even tell you, so I Googled “Best lobster rolls in NYC” and came up with the list of usuals: Luke’s Lobster, Red Hook Lobster, and one I’d never heard of: Ed’s Lobster Bar. I took a look at their menu… and I was sold. If you don’t like lobster or seafood in general, please don’t go to this place. You’ll simply clog it up for those of us who live for the stuff.

Ed’s Lobster Bar Annex, 25 Clinton Street (btwn Stanton St and E Houston St), New York, NY 10002. Ed McFarland, owner of Ed’s Lobster Bar, is a Staten Island Native who grew up in pizza parlors and later graduated from the French Culinary Institute. He worked all over, in esteemed kitchens throughout the city, until he opened up his own place. Ed’s Lobster Bar (the original) is located on Lafayette between Broome and Spring and offers a more refined menu of full lobster entrees. The Annex, where I dined last weekend, has more of a low-key, relaxed maritime vibe with menu offerings such as lobster meatball sliders, mini lobster thermidor pizzas, and shrimp tacos. During the summer months they have an outdoor patio where you can sit and sip a cold white wine with your seafood. Note: the annex only serves wine and beer.

On the menu:
Prosecco rose
Little Neck Clams
Lobster rolls with chips and housemade pickles

Verdict: Oooooh lobster lobster love of my life. This had to be one of the best, if not THE best lobster roll I have ever had. Three words: butter soaked bun. That’s right. Just in case you were thinking, “Oh no, where’s the butter to dip all the giant chunks of lobster in my lobster roll?” Ed’s has you covered. The bun is literally brushed and semi-soaked in butter. I had to stop myself from licking the plate. I could’ve even done without the fries… maybe substituted it with more lobster? And as a side note, they make their pickles on premises and they are spicy and sweet and I ate so many I burnt my tongue. …I’m not joking. In addition to the amazing food, the staff was super laid back, informed, and efficient. I’ll be back, Ed. I’ll be back.

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What Is a Meal?

Pancakes with bacon hidden inside, topped with apples

I have an ongoing discussion with my friend Nicole on what constitutes a meal. I vehemently defend anything I’ve ever posted on this blog, and she denies most of it.

Nicole: Macaroni and cheese is NOT a meal.
DISAGREE

Nicole: Pancakes are cake, NOT a meal.
DISAGREE

Nicole: A muffin is NOT breakfast, it’s cake.
DISAGREE

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I can pretty much call anything into a meal. For one solid week last year I ate nothing but chocolate cake and red wine for dinner. If it’s 6PM, and I eat a slice of cake and drink a glass of wine, and then I’m full, and then I go to bed… how come that’s not dinner? I’m not feeding it to my growing children, or even my hungry boyfriend. Nicole would probably argue that there is literally zero nutritional value in chocolate cake and red wine (except for all those antioxidants! what whaaaaat). And that’s her argument against macaroni and cheese, and pancakes, too. Zero nutritional value. Does a “meal” have to have a certain amount of nutritional value to actually be worthy of the name? I dare you to find a single, city-living lady who has never called cheese and crackers dinner.

What do you think, guys? What’s a meal? Are pancakes a meal if you add bacon? Or top them with apples? Why is spaghetti with sauce and garlic bread considered dinner, but not pancakes? Why is a bowl of Lucky Charms breakfast, but not slice of pound cake (FYI: they both have TONS of sugar). Is greasy Chinese takeout a meal even though it has endless amounts of MSG, fat, and oil? How about a pepperoni pizza?

I rarely ask outright for your comments, but this time I want them! Go ahead. Comment away. That’s right… I’m lookin’ at you.

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Bourbon and Brown Sugar Pork Shoulder

This past weekend I went all out and made a super special dinner as a thank you to two friends. I wanted the dinner to be out-of-this-world memorable, and with dishes we don’t eat everyday. I remembered that I had a recipe for pork shoulder tucked away in my inbox and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it out. I called my local pork store, Sorriso’s, ordered a four pound pork shoulder, and annoyed everyone in my presence for two solid days talking about how great this dinner was going to be.

The dinner was comprised of four main dishes, and I’ll be sharing them over the course of the week. Just so y’all know, none of this was very complicated but it came together to be a pretty epic dinner. Four bottles of wine didn’t hurt anybody, either.

On the menu:
Bourbon and brown sugar glazed pork shoulder
Serves 4 – 5 

1 Tbsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp ground black pepper
4 1/2 pound bone-in pork shoulder*

Glaze:
2 1/2 cups light brown sugar, loosely packed
1/2 cup bourbon

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Mix together paprika, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the pork shoulder all over with the spices and let sit 30 minutes.

Set pork in a roasting pan and put in oven for around 5 hours, or until the bone moves around easily with little to no resistance.

When the pork has been in the oven for 4 hours and 45 minutes, start making the glaze. Mix together the brown sugar and bourbon in a small saucepan and turn heat to medium/low. Simmer the sugar and bourbon for around 8 to 10 minutes or until reduced by 1/4.

Brush 1/3 of the glaze over the pork shoulder and return to oven. Glaze twice more, every 10 minutes. After 30 more minutes of roasting, remove the pork from the oven. Let sit for 15 minutes before pulling meat off the bones and serving. Serve over basic polenta or mashed potatoes.

*It’s worth mentioning that pork shoulder is kinda pricey, but well worth the money. A cheap pork shoulder will yield tough meat, and you definitely want this to be as moist and juicy as possible.

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