Olives and Oranges

Adapted from Diana Kochilas – My Greek Table

Olives and Oranges is a tasty and simple dish to prepare. It works as an hors d’oeuvre, appetizer, brochette or side dish.

Olives and Oranges

Keep the peel on the orange and cut into wedges. Cut each wedge into small triangular slices, about 1/8-inch thick.

In a heavy flat skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the olives and orange wedges to the pan and stir and combine. Add the garlic. Continue to shake the pan back and forth to gently stir the contents for about 5 minutes, until the olives are warmed through, the garlic soft and shiny, and the orange slices slightly wilted.
Stir in the oregano, transfer to a bowl and serve warm.

Olives and Oranges

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Minestra con Piselli Caiano

Minestra con Piselli Caiano 

Minestra con Piselli  Caiano  translates to something like Soupy Pasta with Pigeon Peas. It sounds better in Italian.

Piselli Caiano Minestra

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes sliced in half or a large tomato roughly chopped
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 lb. shells or other small pasta
  • 15 oz. can of pigeon peas
Fry the garlic in oil. Add the tomatoes and cook until slightly soft.

Piselli Caiano Minestra

Add the broth, bay leaf, and the pasta. Keep adding heated water, maybe 2 or 3 cups, to keep a soupy consistency. When the pasta is almost done, add the peas, stir and cook for a few minutes. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.

Piselli Caiano Minestra

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Sauce vs. Gravy

Sauce vs. Gravy

It’s an argument that will probably go on forever among Italian-Americans. Is it sauce or gravy? Most non-Italians couldn’t care less and it doesn’t really bother me but I’m going to add my opinion anyway.
In any dictionary, gravy and sauce have almost identical definitions although it seems that to be called “gravy” there must be some meat, or meat juices or drippings involved.
In Italian, there’s sugo (thin sauce/gravy made with meat) and ragu (thick sauce/gravy made with meat). Then there’s salsa, not made with meat and which I would translate as sauce.
When people think of gravy it’s usually brown and often made with meat drippings and a bit of flour to thicken it. Well, why can’t it be red and made with meat drippings and tomatoes instead of flour?
When my mother had a pot of bubbling tomatoes on the stove filled with meatballs, braciole, and sausage she called it “gravy.” When she made marinara, that’s tomatoes with no meat, it was “sauce.”
So that’s my take on the unending sauce-gravy argument. And here’s a recipe for a ragu. You can call it what you like.

Sauce vs. Gravy


Pork Ragu

Sauce vs. Gravy

*Italian trinity

Sweat one cup of trinity in oil and then add and lightly brown the pork. Add the crushed tomatoes and sachet. Simmer for at least one hour.
Put on a pot of water for the pasta. Add the peas to the tomatoes and pork and simmer for another 10 minutes while the pasta is cooking. Taste for seasoning.
When the pasta is almost done drain and add it to the ragu to finish cooking. If it’s too dry add some pasta water.  Serve with grated cheese.

Sauce vs. Gravy


Sunday Gravy

There are a lot of variations for this one – but always meat and tomatoes. Here’s a simple, basic recipe which you can vary.

Sauce vs. Gravy

Ingredients:
  • Olive oil
  • Sausage – hot or sweet
  • Oxtails
  • Dried sausage or soprasade
  • Garlic (2 chopped cloves)
  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Salt and black pepper

Sauce vs. Gravy

Brown the sausage and oxtails in oil. Do it in batches and don’t crowd the pan. Remove and add the dried sausage and garlic. Don’t burn the garlic. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Lower heat, taste for seasoning and simmer for at least one hour.

Sauce vs. Gravy

Sauce vs. Gravy

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Fried Baloney

Fried Baloney

There used to be a grocery store where I grew up on Mott Street called May’s. I’d go there for lunch because May made great sandwiches, especially fried baloney sandwiches. I know a lot of people have never heard of fried baloney but it really tastes great and is very simple to make.
For some reason, we call it baloney when it’s spelled Bologna, the city in Italy where it was first made.  I guess that’s an Americanization, like saying  “gabagool” for “capicola.”

Fried Baloney

Fried Baloney
All you need is bread, baloney and a little oil to fry it in. The better the bread, the better the sandwich. I like mine the way May used to do it, with mustard, relish, and lettuce.

My Baloney Has a First Name

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Excerpt from the Mississippi Coast 2005

Excerpt from The Mississippi Coast 2005

When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, most of what we heard about in New York was the damage done in New Orleans. New Orleans got the headlines but Katrina affected the coastal areas of three states; Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Requests went out from those states for help and one of those requests, Mississippi’s, found its way the New York City Department of Buildings. Our Commissioner agreed to send ten of us with five SUVs and whatever equipment was needed to help with structural assessment.
.  .  . After two days of driving, we arrived at the border of Jackson County. That was as far as our instructions took us. We already were seeing downed trees and overturned trailers miles from the coast. Stopping at sort of a combination gas station-fried chicken restaurant we called for further directions.

Excerpt from The Mississippi Coast


. . .  We arrived at the Gautier City Hall and were welcomed by a group of officials. They thanked us for coming and gave us some local maps. One official said something like “…as soon as   we get a quiet evening, I’m sure we can boil and burn something for all y’all.” I knew he said something positive so I thanked him. I found out later he was inviting us to dinner.


Excerpt from The Mississippi Coast

. . . We were able to get breakfast and dinner at the Imperial Palace but were on our own for lunch. There was a Red Cross food van that was surprisingly good. We had to go to Camp Vancleave fairly regularly to have our laundry done and to get gas at the FEMA tank truck. Jack and I made it a point to go in the morning so we could have “Mohler’s” excellent donuts for breakfast.

Excerpt from The Mississippi Coast


. . . Eventually a family run restaurant on Bienville Boulevard called “BB’s Po’boy” reopened and Jack and I became regulars.
Our waitress apologized for not having any of their famous Gulf shrimp saying, “The boats hadn’t been able to go out because of the flotsam left by the storm.”
The proprietors and staff were glad to be back and their customers were happy to see them. When we talk in New York we’re usually exchanging information, in Mississippi they exchange “pleasantries” and it really was a pleasure being surrounded by such nice people. The food was good enough for us to go through their whole menu in the weeks we were in Ocean Springs but more than that, lunch time was an hour of gentile normalcy taken out of what was usually a bleak day.

Excerpt from The Mississippi Coast


. . . Toward the end of our stay some local building and fire officials invited all of us for dinner at their favorite Irish pub in Pascagoula. They served us corned beef and cabbage with homemade soda bread and the Guinness flowed like water. After dinner a lot of locals showed up just to meet the “inspectors from New York” and they all made a point of shaking our hands and thanking us for coming such a long way to help them. A little embarrassed by the compliment, we in turn, thanked them for their hospitality.

Excerpt from The Mississippi Coast

For the whole story –

The Mississippi Coast 2005 – Mississippi Sun Herald


BBs Po’boy


Imperial Palace Hotel

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Pasta with Goat Cheese and Cherry Tomatoes

Pasta with Goat Cheese and Cherry Tomatoes

Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis Cavatelli with Gorgonzola and Cherry Tomatoes
 
We had dinner with our nephews Stephen, Francesco and Doug. They put together a great meal but I loved the pasta most. I think maybe my niece Danielle had something to do with this too. They used a Giada DiLaurentis recipe.
So here it is – delicious. I used goat cheese instead of gorgonzola. Giada said that would be OK.
PASTA WITH GOAT CHEESE AND CHERRY TOMATOES
Ingredients:
  • ½ lb. cavatelli (or something similar)
  • 8 oz. pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • Olive oil
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 8 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 oz. gorgonzola (or goat cheese)
  • 5 oz. baby spinach, roughly chopped

Start a pot of boiling water for the pasta.

Add the pancetta and olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often until the pancetta is crispy, about 8 minutes. Add the shallots and cook another minute until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and season with salt. Cook, stirring often until the tomatoes begin to soften, about 4 minutes.

When the pasta is almost done (reserve 1 1/2 cups of pasta water) add it to the skillet along with 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Scatter the cheese over the pasta and stir to combine. Continue to stir, adding pasta water as needed, until a light creamy sauce is formed. Add the spinach and toss until it wilts.

PASTA WITH GOAT CHEESE AND CHERRY TOMATOES

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