Category Archives: Lunch/Snacks

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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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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Sfincione – Sicilian Pizza

Sfincione – Sicilian Pizza (adapted from Frabrizia Lanza’s recipe)

Real Sicilian pizza isn’t covered with gooey melted mozzarella. It has a simple sauce flavored with a little onion, some grated pecorino, and breadcrumbs – with or without anchovies, it’s up to you.

Sfincione - Sicilian Pizza

(if you want to make your own dough click here – I get mine in a pizzeria)

Sauté the onion in oil with black and red pepper until it’s translucent. Add ½ cup of water and raise heat until it almost evaporates. Add the tomato puree and bring to a simmer. Allow the sauce to cool. When cool add the bread crumbs, cheese, and anchovies. Taste for seasoning. The cheese and anchovies can be salty so you may not need any additional salt.
Pre-heat the oven to 400o. Spread the dough in an oiled 9 by 13 baking sheet. Spread the sauce mixture over the dough in an even layer leaving about ½ inch of the dough exposed around the edges.Sfincione - Sicilian Pizza
Drizzle it with 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil and bake for 30 minutes. When it’s done sprinkle with oregano.Sfincione - Sicilian Pizza

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Chicken Wing Lollipops

Chicken Wing Lollipops

They take some time to prepare but once you get the knack it isn’t too bad. They’re tasty, easy to eat and worth the trouble.Chicken Wing Lollipops

Chicken Wing Lollipops

The hard part –
Remove and discard the wing tips. Separate the remaining pieces at the joint.
Starting with the lager piece with the single bone – with a sharp pointed knife separate the skin and tendons from the bone at the narrow end and begin to slide the meat downward scraping with the knife as you go until you end up with a ball of meat at the end of a smooth bone.
For the smaller piece with two bones – separate the two bones at the pointed end. Continue as before but this time with two bones. When you’re halfway down begin to twist and wiggle the thinner bone until it breaks off and you can remove it. Slide the rest of the meat down scraping the bone as you go.Chicken Wing Lollipops

The easy part –
Mix the salt. pepper, paprika and garlic salt and season the lollipops with it.Chicken Wing Lollipops
Make a marinade of the vinegar, sriracha and brown sugar. Put the lollipops in the marinade and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Chicken Wing Lollipops
Remove the wings from the marinade, dripping off the excess. Coat them in the flour, let them rest 20 minutes and fry them until dark golden and the coating begins to caramelize.
Chicken Wing Lollipops

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Elvis’ Favorite Sandwich

Graceland

 

Elvis' Favorite Sandwich

Elvis’ Favorite Sandwich
This is something that I’ve always wanted to try but never got around to – a peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwich. It’s a combination that most people would never have thought of but Elvis was a very creative guy. It may be a little heavy on the cholesterol but that’s not something the King worried about and neither do I. You can vary the recipe. I’ve heard that some people add a little honey.

Elvis' Favorite Sandwich

Elvis' Favorite Sandwich

While the bacon is frying start to prepare the sandwiches. Butter one side of each slice of bread and spread peanut butter on the other side. This is a little sloppy but worth it. Remove the bacon from the pan. Slice the bananas length wise and then in half. Elvis' Favorite SandwichGive them a quick fry in the bacon fat, put them on the peanut butter and then add the bacon. Squeeze the sandwiches closed and grill them in the hot bacon fat. Elvis' Favorite SandwichFlatten them a bit with a spatula and cook for a few minutes on each side, the way you would with a grilled cheese sandwich. Let them cool, cut them in half and serve.


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Ham and Cheese Pie

Ham and Cheese PieHam and Cheese Pie

This is a versatile recipe. You can use whatever cheese you like or a combination like I’m doing. For a nice Italian twist try it with provolone and prosciutto. You can also add parsley, peppers, etc.

Ham and Cheese Pie

Ham and Cheese Pie

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350o. Grease a 9-inch pie plate with softened butter, then coat plate evenly with Parmesan.Ham and Cheese Pie


Combine cheese, ham and onions in a bowl and distribute it evenly in bottom of the prepared pie dish. Mix flour, baking powder, pepper, and salt (keep in mind that ham and cheese can be salty) in a bowl. Whisk in half and half, eggs, melted butter and mustard until smooth. Slowly pour batter over cheese and ham mixture in pie dish.Ham and Cheese Pie


Bake until pie is light golden brown and the filling is set, about 30, then 3 – 5 minutes under the broiler to brown top. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.Ham and Cheese Pie


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Wall Street Journal Recipes

Wall Street Journal Recipes

 

My friend Joe gave me two recipes, one for sausage and peppers and the other for gnocchi, that he found in the Wall Street Journal of all places. When I hear Wall Street Journal I think of finance, markets and banking, not Italian recipes. I tried them and they were both very good.

 

Sausage and Peppers

You can make sausage and peppers by simply frying some sausage and peppers. But a little extra effort can make it something special. In this version by Chef Mashama Bailey of the Grey, in Savannah,  the key ingredient is the vinegar. It really brightens up the flavor. I adjusted her recipe down a bit from four lbs. of sausage to one.

Wall Street Journal Recipes

Wall Street Journal Recipes

Cook sausages until browned on all sides. Remove them and set aside. In the same pot, add peppers, onions and garlic. Sauté until vegetables soften, about 15 minutes.

Wall Street Journal RecipesStir in tomatoes and vinegar. Return sausages to pot and stir gently to coat. Simmer until tomatoes reduce, adding splashes of water if pot looks dry.Wall Street Journal Recipes


Gnocchi

Until I saw this recipe from Gail Monaghan, gnocchi were round, made with potatoes and boiled. Here they’re square, made with semolina and baked in the Roman style. The finished product reminded me of polenta. You can serve these with different kinds of sauce. We used a simple marinara.

Wall Street Journal Recipes

Wall Street Journal Recipes

Bring milk and nutmeg to a simmer. Off heat, whisk in semolina. Cook over low heat, stirring, until mass pulls away from pan, 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in 8 tablespoons butter, 1 cup cheese and yolks. Season with salt and pepper. Pour hot semolina mixture onto a foil-lined, buttered sheet pan. Use an offset spatula to spread mixture into an even rectangle ½ -inch to 1-inch thick. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 500 degrees with rack in the highest position. Use a sharp knife or pizza wheel to cut semolina into 2-inch squares.

Wall Street Journal RecipesSet gnocchi ½-inch apart on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Dot with remaining butter and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until golden, 15 minutes. (a minute or two under the broiler at the finish isn’t a bad idea)Wall Street Journal Recipes



Melissa Clark’s Eggs in Purgatory

Melissa Clark’s Eggs in Purgatory
It looks like Eggs in Purgatory is finally going main-stream. Melissa Clark, one of my favorite NYT food writers, just did an article and recipe . Growing up, it was a standard Monday lunch. My mother never made sauce specifically for Eggs in Purgatory like Melissa. She would use leftover Sunday gravy.

Melissa Clark's Eggs in Purgatory

Melissa’s sauce recipe isn’t too far off, except for the anchovies, which might be an interesting addition. The idea of butter in tomato sauce would have been out of the question for my mother.
Aside from this popping up in the Times, about 2 years back I found myself in a trendy restaurant in Williamsburg called Fabbrica. They had ‘Pugatorio’ on the menu. I ordered it and it was standard Eggs in Purgatory, very good too.Melissa Clark's Eggs in Purgatory

Purgatorio at Frabbrica


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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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Jalapeno and Egg Sandwich

Jalapeno and Egg SandwichJalapeno and Egg Sandwich

A friend gave me some jalapenos from his garden and here’s what I did with them. A very simple sandwich but a perfect combination. You can substitute a green bell pepper if jalapenos are too hot for you.

Jalapeno and Egg Sandwich

Cut the stem ends off the peppers. Cut them in half lengthwise and scrape out most of the seed and veins.

Jalapeno and Egg Sandwich

Fry them until they soften and char a little bit.

Jalapeno and Egg Sandwich

Add the beaten eggs, salt and pepper and combine.Jalapeno and Egg SandwichThat’s it. All that’s left to do is put it on bread and eat it.

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