Birds Eye Chilis

Bird’s Eye Chilis

If you’ve been following my blog you know that I like spicy dishes. I’ve posted a few simple recipes for hot pepper infusions and sauces and here’s another one. This calls for Bird’s Eye Chilis. You can usually get them in Chinese markets. There’re about an inch long and look like little red fire crackers. They’re small but have big heat, somewhere between Jalapenos and Habenaros.

There’re not always available but last winter I came across some in a Manhattan Chinatown sidewalk stand. I asked if they were “Hot,” and the merchant said I should taste one. I did and although it was 22 degrees my face started sweating. They were hot.

I found some in Italy that were the same as the ones I get in Chinatown. I was surprised to see them there since they were typically Asian but they were the same. Different food cultures sometimes come together.

The infusion is simple. Get a handful of peppers, about 20-25. Cut off the stems and tips so the interior of the pepper is accessible to the olive oil. Put them in a liter bottle and fill it with oil.  It doesn’t have to be EVOO.

Give it about a week for the oil to pick up the flavor and get a reddish tint. You can use the oil for frying and it’s also very good for drizzling on a sandwich, or pasta or any dish you’d like to give a little kick.
The best part is when the bottle of oil and peppers is just about empty, shake out the remaining peppers and oil into a frying pan and scramble some eggs with it – excellent!

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Starbucks in Italy

Starbucks in Italy

I’ve had espresso from vending machines in Italy that was better than any coffee I ever had at Starbucks. Now they intend to open a branch in Milan.
Here’s an excerpt from an article in L’Italo Americano that deals with the issue.

Does Italy Really Need Starbucks?

By francesca bezzone

” . . . there’s little doubt that Italian coffee remains the best in the world: it’s a typical case of “why should you change or improve something that’s already perfect?” Italian coffee is not a matter of variety, but of extremely high quality: from the selection of the coffee, to the way it’s toasted and brewed, every drop of caffé has to be absolutely perfect. And whoever had coffee in Italy knows it pretty much always is.”

Read the whole article HERE

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Negronis

Negronis

Classic Negroni
Ingredients:
  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1 oz. gin
Pour all 3 ingredients over ice in a rocks glass and garnish with an orange wheel.

Spagliato Negroni
A relation of the negroni. Spagliato means broken in Italian. This one replaces the gin with Prosecco.
Ingredients
  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 3 ozs. Prosecco
Add Campari and vermouth over ice in a flute. Stir and top with Prosecco and garnish with an orange twist.

The Old Pal Negroni Cocktail
This is a whiskey version. You can use Bourbon, Canadian or rye.
Ingredients:
  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 14 oz. whiskey
  • 1 oz. Dry vermouth
Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir and strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with an orange twist.

Each different but they all have Campari in common. Campari has been around for a long time. Gaspare Campari founded the company in 1860.  The basic Campari aperitif is simply Campari and soda with a lemon twist – simple and perfect. Throughout the years Campari has been noted for the beautiful graphics used in it’s advertisements. Here are a few – 

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Ceramic Fruit

They might look good enough to eat but don’t try it. They’re ceramic. Kaori Kurihara’s creations look like familiar fruit but are fantasies.

Article and photos at COLOSSAL

I take inspiration from the plant world with particular attention to forms and their geometric repetition. Every element of nature seems to repeat itself, but in fact there is an infinite variety of it. Then, I have the deep desire to make concrete the fruits represented in my mind and to be able to contemplate them through my own eyes. It is in this idea that I try to create pieces that are both realistic and dreamlike. – Kaori Kurihara

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French 75

French 75

We call it a French 75. In France it’s simply Soixante-Quinze. It was invented at the New York Bar in Paris in 1915 and named after a World War One,  75 millimeter artillery piece. It’s a lot like a Tom Collins – lemon, sugar, and gin – but with Champagne in place of club soda. It isn’t very strong so it makes a good morning drink, like a Mimosa.
Ingredients:
  • 1 oz. gin
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 dashes simple syrup
  • 2- 3 oz. Champagne
Combine all of the ingredients except the Champagne in a shaker filed with ice. Shake and pour into an iced champagne flute. Top it up with Champagne. Garnish with a slice of orange.

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Pasta Primavera


Pasta Primavera

I’m pretty sure that Pasta Primavera is something that was made up in an Italian restaurant in America. My mother used to make pasta with various vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, squash) as a type of minestra. Usually she used only one vegetable but if she felt like it, she’d use a variety of what was available. She never included cream and cheese was only added at the table. My mother called it ‘Pasta with Vegetables.’ I’ll call it ‘primavera’ – that means Spring.Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera

Start a pot of salted boiling water that you’ll eventually use for the pasta. Boil the vegetables 1 or 2 at a time until almost tender and remove them to a bowl.Pasta Primavera
When the vegetables are done add some more salt to the boiling water and begin cooking the pasta. After cooking  the vegetables in that water it’s now like vegetable stock. While the pasta cooks in one pot, in a second pot sauté the garlic in the oil. Add some salt, black and red pepper and the parsley.
Pasta Primavera
Pasta Primavera
Add the cooked vegetables and toss to coat with the garlic, parsley and oil on low heat. When the pasta is almost done add it to the vegetables, mix and add 1 & 1/2 cups of pasta water and mix well. Place in a serving bowl, drizzle with some olive oil and serve with grated Parmigiana cheese on the side.

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Blistered Peppers

Blistered Peppers

I went to a great restaurant in Harlem last week called Hop House (full menu here). You can tell from the name that they have a great selection of beer and the food was very good too. We tried a few appetizers before the main course and SHISHITO PEPPERS – blistered with sea salt, recommended by Erin the proprietor really stood out. They weren’t exactly hot but they did have a spark to them. We liked them enough to make them at home.
It’s very simple – put the washed and dried peppers in a hot dry heavy frying pan (no oil). Flatten them a bit with a spatula so they make contact with the pan. After a couple of minutes turn them. When done give them a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil. That’s it.blistered peppers
If you like peppers with a little more heat, use serranoes.blistered peppers
And if you don’t like “HOT”  you can use the same process with green bell peppers. No heat at all and still very tasty. But since you can’t blister them whole you have to cut them into strips first.blistered peppers
Whatever type of pepper that you use, they’re perfect for eating plain but I scrambled some with eggs and made  an excellent sandwich.blistered peppers

blistered peppers

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