Murray’s Sturgeon Shop

My favorite – the classic lox and cream cheese on a bagel.

 

Murray's Sturgeon Shop

Murray's Sturgeon Shop

Murray’s Sturgeon Shop

I consider myself lucky to live just around the corner from Murray’s. I don’t even have to cross a street to get there. Murray’s Sturgeon Shop has been located at 2429 Broadway since 1946 and although the shop is small and unassuming, it’s famous throughout the City. They deal in specialty foods from egg salad & spinach sandwiches to Bulgerian Osetra caviar ($189.00 per ounce).

Murray's Sturgeon Shop

Murray's Sturgeon Shop

Murray's Sturgeon ShopMurray's Sturgeon Shop

 

Murray's Sturgeon Shop

Murray's Sturgeon Shop

Murray's Sturgeon Shop


 

Loraine’s Stuffed Artickokes

Loraine’s Stuffed Artichokes

The last time we were in Florida, our good friends Paulie and Loraine who live there, met us at our hotel. Loraine brought us a snack to pick on at the beach – stuffed artichokes. They were delicious and hit the spot. Here’s her recipe.Loraine's Stuffed Artichokes
Ingredients:
  • Plain breadcrumbs (about two cups)
  • A few cloves of garlic (more or less depending on your taste)
  • A little salt
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • Locatelli Romano cheese (about a cup or more depending on your taste)
  • Olive Oil (not extra virgin)
  • 2 or 3 artichokes depending on size
Prep:
Artichokes – Cut the stem off – cut the top off – cut the leaves in steps – different levels for easier stuffing.Loraine's Stuffed Artichokes
Boil them for about 10 minutes to make them pliant.
Stuffing – Mix all together in a bowl – drizzle with the olive oil so it’s not too dry – not too wet.Loraine's Stuffed ArtichokesStuff the artichokes and then put them back in the pot you boiled them in – adding a little bit of the stuffing and add some olive oil. Sprinkle a little water over the stuffed artichokes to make sure they are moist. Cover and steam until the leaves pull off easily – keep watching to see if more water needs to be added.
After cooked- put them in a cake pan (round or square) – sprinkle with more Locatelli Romano cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes!Loraine's Stuffed Artichokes

ENJOY!Loraine's Stuffed Artichokes

Nicki, Loraine and Bridget


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Latkes for Chanukah

Latkes for Chanukah

If you’ve been following my blog you know that I’m Italian-American and most often post Italian recipes. But not this time. I grew up in New York and specifically on the Lower East Side so that means I grew up with Jewish food. Latkes have always been one of my favorites and my grandmother used to make them. If you think about it, a Jewish latke isn’t very different than an Italian  potato and egg frittata.
My father’s mother, Amalia came to America from Italy in the early 1880s as a young teenager. Her family settled on Prince Street in what was to become Little Italy but was then a mix of Irish, Jewish and Italian immigrants. Her first job was in a nearby Jewish garment factory and being surrounded by girls and women speaking nothing but Yiddish, that was the first language she learned in America. English came later.

 

My Aunt Sis told me that once when she was shopping with her mother, she saw a coat she liked. Grandma said it cost too much and started to leave the store.
One of the shopkeepers told the other in Yiddish, “These Italian mothers always give in to their kids. She’ll be back for the coat.”
My grandmother turned to him and said in impeccable Yiddish, “It’s too expensive but I might buy it if we could negotiate a better price.” The surprised shopkeeper did just that.
I remember family dinners at her apartment and there were often some of her garment worker friends invited. Grandma spoke perfect English and Italian and it was always fun for us grandchildren to hear her conversing with her old friends in Yiddish.
I think I’ve figured out the Latke recipe she used although it’s possible she fried them in olive oil. But whatever kind you use, the oil is a reminder during Chanukah of what was burned to keep the eternal flame alive the temple.

Latkes for Chanukah

Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and pepper in a large bowl. Add the beaten eggs and stir until the flour is absorbed. Use the coarse side of a grater to grate the potatoes and onion. Latkes for ChanukahDo this right over a dish towel and then squeeze out and discard as much of the liquid as you can. Add potatoes and onions to the flour and egg mix and blend thoroughly.Latkes for Chanukah

Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan. Put a tablespoon of the potato mix in the pan (I use an ice cream scoop) and flatten it with a spatula. Don’t worry about rough edges – they’ll get crisp and that’s what you want.Latkes for Chanukah
Cook them for about 4-5 minutes and turn them. Then the same on the 2nd side. When they’re done, drain them on a paper tower (or a brown paper bag like Grandma did) and sprinkle with salt. Serve them hot with apple sauce and sour cream. Happy Chanukah!Latkes for Chanukah

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Oatmeal Stout

Oatmeal Stout

You can buy beer or you can brew it yourself. My sister Nicki gave me a Brooklyn Brew Shop brewing kit and I’ve been using it to make my own beer. The kit comes with all of the equipment you need except for pots and strainers. They also supply the grain, hops and yeast.
I made IPA a few times and it was as good as any I ever got on tap at a bar. I recently ordered the grain and hops to make Oatmeal Stout. The general procedure is similar to the IPA but with a few minor variations that are pointed out on the instructions.

The first step is the Mash – This is where you cook the grain in water for 60 minutes, stirring  and keeping it within a proscribed temperature range.

After that is the Sparge – You strain the cooked grain and then pour more hot water through it until you have about 6 quarts of wort (that’s what will eventually become stout.)

Now for the Boil – You bring the wort to a low boil for 90 minutes, adding hops at set intervals.                                                     Oatmeal Stout hops


The last step for day one is Fermentation – Cool the wort and pour it through a strainer into a fermenter (that’s the the gallon jug that came with the kit) and add the yeast.

I then inserted a blow-off tube to let the CO2 to escape.  All of the preceding steps take place in one day over about five hours. After a few days, I removed the tube and inserted an air-lock in the mouth of the jug to let additional CO2 escape and let it sit in the dark for 2 weeks.


Finally, the Bottling – I siphoned the stout from the fermenter into a pot, leaving the sediment behind. Then I mixed in some maple syrup to feed the yeast and I filled the bottles. Another 2 week wait and it’s ready for drinking.

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Gladiator Diet

Pollice Verso (With a Turned Thumb) by Jean Leon Gerome, 1872

 

Gladiator Diet

I guess everyone has heard of the Paleo Diet – that’s what people ate 10,000 years ago. It’s basically meat, nuts, fruit and vegetables. There’s something a little more current, well, from about 2,000 years ago, the Gladiator Diet. It’s what Roman gladiators ate to stay in fighting condition. And surprisingly, it was almost a completely vegetarian diet.

Gladiator Diet

Barley Gruel


Gladiator Diet

Oat and Seed Cakes


No meat and potatoes for these guys. They ate mostly barley, beans and some pasta too, often flavored with fish sauce, trying to put on enough weight to cushion those sword and spear wounds in the arena. That wasn’t enough to strengthen their bones so they drank a sort of “sports drink,” a mix of wood and bone ash to build up calcium. They also drank goats milk and water but no wine. This combination of food and drink made them fit and tough.

String Beans a la Gladiator   (based on what we know they ate and what was commonly available in Rome back then)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. string beans
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2  chopped onion
  • 4 tbsp gaurm*

*The Romans used a fish sauce called garum. The modern equivalent is colatura di alici.

Preparation:

Boil the string beans for 5 minutes. In another pot sauté the onion in oil until soft, translucent and just beginning to brown. Add the drained, cooked string beans to the onions, add the colatura di alici and about 1/2 cup of the water you boiled the string beans in. Taste for seasoning. Colatura di Alici can be very salty and you may not need any more salt. Simmer for a few minutes and serve.

String Beans a la Gladiator


Some more information on the Gladiator Diet here –

BBC

Archaeology

Science Daily


Gladiator Diet

Definitely not part of the Gladiator Diet


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Shakshuska

Shakshuska

I’ve heard it’s North African, or Middle-Eastern and it’s definitely very popular in Israel. Whatever it is, it’s a hearty breakfast, lunch or dinner. The first time I had shakshuska was in an Israeli run diner in Rockaway. I asked the waitress what it was and the way she described it sold me. It was served in a small cast iron pan right from the stove. You can’t get just anywhere so I started making it myself. This is similar to Eggs in Purgatory.

Shakshuska

Shakshuska

Start by frying the onion, red pepper, and chili in olive oil. Cook until edges start to turn brown. Pay attention and don’t let it burn.

Shakshuska

Add garlic and cook for about a minute. Mix in the paprika and cumin and add the tomatoes. Simmer for about 10 minutes, check for seasoning and add the parsley.

Shakshuska

Shakshuska

The sauce should be thick enough to make five indentations in it using a spoon. Break an egg into each one. Cover and reduce the heat and cook it until egg are done.


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Platanos (plantains)

Platanos

2 preparation techniques – tostones with green unripened platonos and meduros for yellow/black ripe ones.

Tostones

Tostones can be served along side meat like potatoes or as a snack like potato chips. They’re made from an unripe platano (plantain). That’s a type of a very hard and starchy green banana.
I learned to make them while hanging out with a Puerto Rican friend in his sister Evelyn’s kitchen. You start by cutting off the two ends and making shallow knife slits in the skin along the length of the platano. The skin is thick and hard and not easy to peal like a regular banana.Platanos plantains
After they’re peeled, cut them into ¾ inch rounds and fry them in light oil like Wesson or Canola. Lightly brown them on both sides and remove them to drain on a paper towel. After they cool a bit, flatten them and fry them again until the edges get crisp. Platanos plantains                                                                          tostonera

Platanos plantains

Some people use a tostonera but whacking them with the bottom of a Coke bottle works just as well for this step. I thought it interesting that Evelyn used a Coke bottle to flatten her tostones and my mother used one to squash olives so she could remove the pits – a cross-cultural improvised kitchen utensil.

 

Platanos plantains

After the second frying, sprinkle them with salt and serve hot or room temperature.

Meduros

Platanos plantains

Meduros are made in a similar way but don’t need to be flattened and fried twice. A meduro is a ripened platano. You should buy the ones that are almost black. As they ripen the starch turns to sugar so a meduro is sweet instead of savory like a tostone.
Peel them the same way and cut them into one-inch slices on a bias (diagonally). Fry them on a high heat to brown them, then lower the heat and cook until they soften. They may be sweet but they’re also served along side meat.
Platanos plantains

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Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Colatura di Alici

Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Colatura di Alici

This is a quick sauce and should be ready in about the time it takes to make the pasta. Don’t overcook it and keep the fresh taste of the tomatoes. Simple ingredients and yet the result is a complex flavor. Colatura di Alici is an Italian fish sauce similar to the ancient Roman and Greek garum.

(you can buy colatura di alici on-line)

Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Colatura di AliciPasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Colatura di Alici

Put a pot of salted water on the stove to cook the pasta.
Lightly toast the breadcrumbs in oil a pan and set aside.
Add more oil to the pan and cook the anchovies until they dissolve. Add the garlic and cook until very lightly golden. Add the chilli and cook briefly. Then add cherry tomatoes and capers.Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Colatura di Alici
When the pasta is almost done move it from the pot to the pan, adding a bit of  the pasta water to the sauce. Mix the pasta with the sauce adding water from the pot as necessary.Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Colatura di Alici
When almost done, add the colatura di alici, breadcrumbs, and chopped parsley and blend. Taste for seasoning.  Anchovies and colature di alici can be salty and you may not need any more salt. No cheese on this one.Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Colatura di Alici

 

If you have lots of cherry or grape tomatoes to cut in half, here’s a simple and quick way to do it instead of cutting them one at a time.

(sorry about the siren in the background – we live in New York City and didn’t notice)


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Del Re’s Grinding

Del Re’s Grinding

If you cook, you know how important sharp knives are. They just seem to glide through whatever you’re cutting and make everything easier. You can sharpen them yourself using different types of sharpening stones or you can have them done professionally. I’m lucky enough to be within walking distance of Del Re’s Grinding – at least every Saturday from 2 to 6 pm. That’s when he parks his van in front of Zabar’san Upper West Side specialty food store on Broadway near 80th Street. There’s usually a line and no matter how long the line is, Mr. Del Re doesn’t rush. He’s a true craftsman and he does a thorough job.

Del Re's Grinding

The images on his truck show all of the things he can sharpen although I don’t think many people in Manhattan have lawn mowers and hedge shears.

Del Re's Grinding

He parks along side of restaurants and rings the bell above his windshield to let them know he’s there.

Del Re's Grinding

 . . . a true craftsman and he does a thorough job . . .


Spice Rubbed Roast Chicken

Spice Rubbed Roast Chicken

A simple recipe – not too hot but just enough of a spark to make it interesting. After you put all of the ingredients in the blender your work is about done and then you just let it marinate.

Spice Rubbed Roast Chicken

Spice Rubbed Roast Chicken(Cajun Spice)

Put all rub ingredients in a blender and blend until it’s smooth and liquidy. Place chicken in a bowl and pour rub over it and coat thoroughly – use your hands and really rub that mix in. Cover and store in fridge overnight or at least 8 hours.

Spice Rubbed Roast Chicken

Bring the chicken to room temperature and pre-heat the oven to 450o with the rack in a low position. Place the chicken pieces skin side up in a well-oiled backing pan. Bake for about 30-35 minutes until brown. Legs and thighs need to cook a little longer than wings and breasts.


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