Tracing the Origins of Pasta

Tracing the Origins of PastaOrigins of Pasta

There’s a very informative and interesting article in L’Italo-Americano about on origins of pasta.

“There are great love affairs that permeate the ages: Anthony and Cleopatra, Rhett and Scarlet, Samson and Delilah…Everyone and Pasta. “

– Click here for full article – 

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Scallion Pancakes

Scallion Pancakes

There’s not much to say about scallion pancakes. It’s just 4 ingredients, there’re pretty easy to make and the result is delicious.

Scallion Pancakes

Ingredients:
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup chopped scallions
  • Vegetable oil for brushing & frying

Scallion Pancakes

Mix the flour and salt with one cup of hot water. Do it in a bowl or use a food processor. Knead it briefly on a floured surface. Cover it with Saran Wrap and let it rest for an hour.

Scallion Pancakes

Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a thin 8-10-inch round. Brush each round with oil and scatter with scallions. Roll up each round into a tight cylinder, then coil each cylinder around like a bun. Slightly flatten each bun, then roll each into a round pancake about 5-6 inches in diameter.Scallion Pancakes
Scallion Pancakes

Scallion Pancakes


Heat oil in a pan on medium. Fry the pancakes, turning, until lightly browned – about a minute or so per side, adding more oil as needed.Scallion Pancakes

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Mushroom and Pepper Pasta Sauce

Mushroom and Pepper Pasta Sauce

I got this recipe from a friend who got it from a food page on Facebook. No amounts were given but what I’ve listed here works pretty well. Since the ingredients aren’t written in stone, I suggest that you adjust the amounts according to your taste. Mushroom and Pepper Pasta Sauce is rich, thick, and hearty with some intense flavors.
Mushroom and Pepper Pasta Sauce
Ingredients:
  • 1 medium onion cut into ¼ moons
  • 1 red bell pepper sliced
  • Olive oil – enough for frying
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms – your choice
  • 3 or 4 Italian sausage cut into small pieces*
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 28 oz. can tomato puree
  • 1 lb. pasta – something small

*When you have to cut sausage or any soft meat, it helps to keep it in the freezer for 20 minutes first.

Mushroom and Pepper Pasta Sauce
Mushroom and Pepper Pasta Sauce
Start a pot of salted water on a burner for the pasta.
Sauté the pepper and onions in oil until they begin to soften. Season with salt and black pepper. Add the paste and blend. Continue cooking until peppers and onions just begin to brown and remove them from the pan.
Add some more oil and cook the mushrooms until they soften and brown. Remove them from the pan.
Mushroom and Pepper Pasta Sauce
Add the sausage to the pan and brown. Add oil as you need it. When almost done add the garlic. Blend and add the puree and return the onion, peppers, and mushrooms. Taste for seasoning. Stir and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes.

Mushroom and Pepper Pasta Sauce

Drain and serve the pasta.  Add some pasta water if the sauce is too thick. Serve with grated parmigiana.

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The Beer Garden in Battery Park

The Beer Garden in Battery Park

Tucked away at the southern tip of Manhattan, on eastern end of Battery Park and behind some flowering shrubbery, you’ll find The Battery Park Beer Garden. It’s open for April to October and a perfect spot for tourists to take a break, check their map and make plans for the rest of their day. It’s also great for locals too.

They’ve got a good selection of lager, pilsner, and IPA on tap as well as bottled.

They also have a simple menu featuring grilled items like burgers, as well as paninis and salads.

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Cajun Garlic Butter Shrimp

Cajun Garlic Butter Shrimp

I was in the mood for shrimp and came across this recipe on Alyssa River’s site The Recipe Critic. It’s simple and quick to make and yet has some very complex flavors. I served it with faro which went well with the sauce. Rice goes well too.

Ingredients:
  1. ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
  2. 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  3. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  4. 1 Tablespoon whole grain mustard
  5. 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  6. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  7. 2 tablespoons butter
  8. 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  9. Black pepper
  10. Sliced green onions, for garnish
Mix the first six ingredients together in a bowl to make the sauce. Put the butter in a frying pan on high heat. When it melts, add the sauce and let it reduce for a few minutes.
Add the shrimp to the pan and sprinkle with black pepper. Stir and cook for a few minutes until the shrimp is done. Garnish with the chopped green onions. Really good and easy to make.

Also good with snow peas and rice.

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Zucchini Lasagna

Zucchini Lasagna

No, it’s not really lasagna but that’s what my mother called it. I wasn’t too crazy about vegetables when I was a kid so she thought she’d make it sound more appetizing. I didn’t like it very much then but I love it now. It’s a good side dish, especially with pasta and not bad on a sandwich.
Pre-heat the oven to 350o.
Slice the zucchini diagonally, season with salt and black pepper, and dredge in flour. Lightly fry it in the oil, drain on paper towels and let it cool.

Coat the bottom of a baking dish (we used a 12-inch oval) with some tomato sauce and add a layer of fried zucchini.Add some more sauce, dot it with ricotta and then a sprinkle of parmigiana.
Repeat for 2 more layers but for the top layer don’t put any ricotta – just sauce, parmigiana and sprinkle the breadcrumbs. Bake for 25 minutes. Finish under the broiler for 5 minutes, until the parmigiana and breadcrumbs form a crust.

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Pisarei e Faso’

Pisarei e Faso’

Pisarei e faso’ is a traditional dish of Piacenza in Emilia-Romagna. It’s small bits of pasta in a tomato sauce with beans. Sort of an Italian Chili.

For the Pisarei:
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
  • About ½ cup warm water
Place the flour and breadcrumbs in a large glass bowl and thoroughly mix.
Pour in enough warm water a little at a time and blend with your hand until dough is formed. Shape it into a ball, cover the bowl and let it rest for an hour.Pisarei e faso’
Cut off pieces of the dough and roll into thin cylinders with half an inch diameter.Pisarei e faso’
Slice the cylinders into small pieces and make an indentation in the middle of each by rolling it with your finger.Pisarei e faso’
For the Sauce:
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 oz. pancetta, chopped (or lard)
  • 16 oz. tomato sauce *
  • 16 oz. can white cannelloni beans, rinsed
* Tomato Sauce
 Lightly sauté the onion in the oil and then add the pancetta. When the onion is translucent and the pancetta fat renders, add the tomato sauce.
While the sauce is simmering bring water for the pasta to a boil in a large pot. Add the pisarei . Don’t crowd the pot or they’ll stick together. After about 8-9 minutes, when they float to the top they are ready.Pisarei e faso’
Take them out of the water with a skimmer and place them in the pot with the sauce. Sauté’ for a few minutes and add the beans. Simmer for another few minutes and serve Pisarei e faso’ with parmigiana and a drizzle of olive oil.

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Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken

There’s more than one way to fry a chicken. Some people pan fry and others deep fry. This is a deep fried chicken method.Fried Chicken
Ingredients:
  • 1 chicken – 2 wings, 2 legs, 2 thighs & 2  breasts cut in half
  • Brine
  • 1 ½ cups of flour
  • ½  tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 1 tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • Light oil for frying
Brine – Bring a quart of water to a boil. Stir in a ¼ cup of sugar and a ¼ cup salt and let it come to room temperature.
Equipment – A frying thermometer & a wire rack.
Preparation:
Put the chicken in a zip-lock bag, Pour in the cooled brine and refrigerate for 10 hours or overnight. Remove the chicken and let it dry slightly.
Pour the buttermilk into a bowl. In a large dish.mix the flour with the salt, paprika, and black pepper.Fried ChickenCoat the chicken with the flour. Shake off excess and then dip it in the buttermilk. Let excess buttermilk drip off and then coat the chicken with flour again. Place it on a wire rack and let dry for half an hour.

Fried ChickenHeat the oil to 350°. When you add the chicken pieces the temperature will fluctuate a bit. Try to keep it around 300-325°. Don’t crowd the pot. Cook the pieces for 5 minutes on one side, turn over and 8 minutes on the other side. A little longer for dark meat legs and thighs. Use a fork to turn them and be careful not to scrape off the coating. After you make this a few times you can judge doneness by color.
Drain chicken on a wire rack. Allow it to cool before serving.
It’s just right as it is but if you want to add a spark try some Nashville Hot Sauce on your chicken.Fried ChickenMix all of the ingredients together while the oil is hot and apply it to the chicken pieces with a pastry brush.

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Joe’s of Avenue U

JOE'S OF AVENUE UJoe’s of Avenue U

If your favorite Italian restaurant is Olive Garden and your favorite dish is spaghetti and meatballs (with all the bread sticks you can eat) maybe Joe’s of Avenue U in Brooklyn isn’t for you. Some of the one- and two-star Yelp reviews are pretty funny – submitted by people who don’t know Italian, let alone Sicilian cuisine like arancini, pasta con sarde, and vastedda.JOE'S OF AVENUE U
JOE'S OF AVENUE U
Cod Fish Oreganata

JOE'S OF AVENUE U
Sarde a Beccafico

Someone complained on Yelp that the chef refused make shrimp parm when there were other “parms” on the menu. She obviously didn’t know that cheese doesn’t go on seafood – it’s mortal sin. Instead of dumbing down their menu they tried to educate her but she wasn’t happy.

JOE'S OF AVENUE U
JOE'S OF AVENUE U
Take-Out Selection

If you want to try typical, well-prepared Sicilian cuisine and have an open mind you should go to Joe’s. If what you really want is a standard American red-sauce place, there are plenty of those around.

JOE'S OF AVENUE U

A Siciliani Marionette


Avenue U just off MacDonald Avenue – on the F train


JOE'S OF AVENUE U“Buon Appetito”

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