Escarole, Broccoli & Cardoons

Escarole, Broccoli & Cardoons

Three green recipes –  simple and cheap.


Escarole

Usually a side dish but it makes a great vegan sandwich. 

escarole (2)Escarole ingredients

Preparation:

Cut of the base of the stem off 2 heads and cut the leaves in half. Soak in sink full of cold water.

Place leaves in a pot, cover with cold water and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large pan with 1 tsp salt, black pepper and garlic. Drain the leaves and add to the pan while they’re still slightly damp. Toss and simmer for a few minutes. Remove it from the pot with a slotted spoon. Drizzle with a little more oil in its serving dish.

escarole sandwich


Broccoli Salad

broccoli salad

Broccoli Salad ingredientsRinse broccoli & trim florets and stems. Boil in a salted water until stems are tender and drain.

Add salt and black pepper, thickly sliced cloves of garlic, oil and lemon juice and toss. Chill and serve.


Cardoons

(This is for Bea)

growing wild

This is a rare edible weed that you seldom find commercially, even at the best markets. Whenever I’ve eaten it, it was only because someone went to a rural area in New Jersey or upstate New York in spring and picked it where it grew wild.like celery

It’s a leafy plant that grows close to the ground. The leaves are inedible. It’s the stems that you want. When cleaned they look something like a stalk of celery but don’t attempt to eat them raw. They have to be boiled to soften them with the thicker ones split down the middle to make them all about 1/2 to 3/4 inch width.

Dry them and dip them in an egg wash. Then coat them with bread crumbs seasoned with salt and pepper and maybe a little finely chopped parsley. Fry them until golden brown in olive oil. They are worth the troublefried

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Caffé Roma

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I grew up in Manhattan’s Little Italy and was fortunate enough to be able to walk to two very good pastry shops – Ferrara on Grand St. and Caffé Roma on Broome St. Caffé Roma was a little more homey but I liked them both.

seats

A few years ago, when Easter was approaching I stopped into Ferrara to see if they had started making pizza con grana*, an Easter specialty.

I asked the manager, “Do you have pizza con grana yet?”

He replied, “If you want a slice, go to the pizzeria across the street.”

I lost my temper and said “What’s wrong with you? Do I look like somebody who would go to a pasticcera for a slice of pizza? I asked for pizza con grana.”

“Senor, I’m sorry. I didn’t understand. We don’t make that any more.” As he indicated the crowds of tourists eating pastry with their early evening cappuccino** he said, “These people who come here don’t know what that is.”

So they decided to cater to their tourist customer’s pedestrian tastes instead of attempting to show them something different and traditionally Italian that they might like. That was the last time I ever went to Ferrara.

I left and walked up a block to Caffé Roma, which still hasn’t been Disneyfied with the rest of Little Italy. They had some of their tables pushed together and covered with freshly baked pizza con grana. They also still have zeppole di San Giuseppe around his feast day in March and struffoli at Christmas. They remain old school.

counter 1

Caffé Roma is a classic so don’t order like you’re in Starbucks. They serve excellent espresso, tea and even hot chocolate. For cold drinks they have the standard Italian sodas and orzata: gelato too. But it’s the pastry & biscotti you should go for, baked daily and right there. It’s been run by the same family since 1881 and I hope they keep going.counter 2

They’re located in what’s left of Little Italy at 385 Broome St. on the corner of Mulberry.

* Pizza con grana – a sweet pie made from wheat berries, ricotta and orange flower water, traditionally served at Easter time.

** from Wikipedia – cappuccino is consumed only up to 11 a.m., and Italians consider it very “strange” to ask for a cappuccino after that hour.  Espresso with milk is for little kids and breakfast. I suppose you can drink it any time, just like you can have corn flakes for dinner if that’s what you want.

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Venison Giambotta

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Venison Giambotta

When my grandmother’s family arrived in New York in the early 1900s, some of them couldn’t get used city living like she did.They were southern Italian farmers and felt more comfortable living in “upstate” rural areas. They farmed and often hunted. When visiting my grandparents they’d bring Concord grapes, apples and sometimes venison. My grandmother came up with this recipe. It originally contained deer heart but I substitute chicken hearts. (A heart isn’t like other organs. It’s a muscle just like a steak or chop.)

ingredients

Venison Giambotta ingredients

Preparation:

  • Sear strips of seasoned venison in a very hot pan (no oil) and remove.
  • Do the same with the chicken hearts

venison

  • Cut unpeeled fingerling or Yukon Gold potatoes in ½ in. slices. Add oil and lightly brown enough slices in same pan to cover the bottom of the pan, S&P and remove.potatoes
  • Fry the green pepper until soft and lightly browned in a deep pot
  • Add 1 small roughly chopped onion to the pepper and sauté in the same pot
  • Clear a hot spot and add 1/2 small can (3 ozs.) of tomato paste and caramelize then mix with peppers & onions.

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  • Use some stock to deglaze the pan and pour liquid into the pot. Add about 1/2 of the remaining beef stock to the pot and add the bay leaves. You won’t need all of the stock.
  • Add meat and potatoes to the pot, stir and simmer on low, covered for 10 minutes.
  • Add more stock if necessary to get a stew like constancy.20151018_185104

Buon Appetito!

venison

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Katz’s Delicatessen

Katz's

Bridget and I went to lunch at Katz’s Delicatessen a few weeks ago on a Sunday. Bad idea – it’s way too crowded on Sunday. Besides being crowded, we noticed two tour buses parked outside so the crowd included more than the usual amount of tourists. They didn’t understand how the lines worked so instead of going to the confusion at the counters we got a table. We sat next to two women from Maryland who were on a food tour. They’d just come from Ferrara on Grand St.

When they ordered two chili dogs the waiter said, “Do you think you’re at a county fair? I’ll give you some more time to think about it and come back.”

Chili dogs may have been on the menu but the waiter knew better. We ordered frankfurters with sauerkraut, pastrami on rye and Doctor Brown’s – that got a smile of approval from of the waiter.

Maybe you saw “Annie Hall.” Diane Keaton ordered a pastrami on white with lettuce tomato and mayonnaise. The waiter almost had a heart attack.

menu

OK, it’s not cheap. If you want cheap you don’t have to go to Katz’s. But if you want to have a good laugh, look at the Yelp reviews of Katz’s. Most are 5 Star but you can sort them “lowest rated” first. The 1 Star reviews are ridiculous –

  • it was a mediocre tuna sandwich
  • they didn’t have whole wheat toast
  • it hasn’t been redecorated since the 70s
  • the man who made my turkey sandwich sent me to another counter for lettuce and tomato

Would you expect a  French restaurant to serve you sushi just because they have raw fish in the kitchen? No, it’s not what they do.

Katz's tables
Lots of free seats just before noon
Musée Cinéma et Miniature
Musée Cinéma et Miniature

One more word about mayo – Milton Berle said “Everytime someone puts mayo on pastrami, a Jew dies.”

You either got this post or you didn’t. Don’t be offended and maybe you can learn something you can use next time you go to a real deli.

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Atholl Brose

Atholl Brose

Atholl Brose

The Scottish legend is that the 1st Earl of Atholl got a rebel leader drunk with this and beat him in battle. True or not, Atholl Brose is a tasty drink and maybe was worth it for the rebel.

There are lots of different recipes for Atholl Brose. Some people soak the oats in water to make the brose and then mix an equal amount of Scotch with it. Others leave out the cream. I suggest you try this one and then improvise. Use a good blended Scotch but no need for anything too expensive.

atholl brose ingredients

Mix the Scotch and steel cut (not instant) oatmeal in a bowl. Cover it with cheese cloth and let it sit in a cool, dark place for 2 days.

Strain it into a 1 quart sauce pan (be sure to squeeze out every drop of Scotch from that cheese cloth). Add 2/3 cup heavy cream and ¼ cup honey. Bring it to a simmer and stir.

Give it a couple of shakes before pouring. You can serve it hot in the winter and cold or on the rocks in the summer. I’m not really encouraging it, but since it’s made with oatmeal you might want to try it with breakfast.

Atholl brose ingredients (minus the cat)
Atholl brose ingredients (except the photobombing cat)

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Pasta with “Weeds”

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Everyone always said that my grandmother could cook weeds and make them taste good. Well, she really did cook weeds. This is true cucina povera – the land owners got the good produce and the poor got the rest.


Pasta with Dandelion Greens

dandelion

Dandelion greens can be somewhat bitter. A sprinkle of grated parmigiana offsets the bitterness.

dandelion flower

dandelion ingredients

Preparation:

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Trim and discard stem ends and cut greens into 2 inch pieces. Wash in a sink full of cold water to remove any sand. Place in boiling water for 10 minutes and drain thoroughly. Don’t discard the water.

Place pasta in the same water you used to boil the greens. Allow to boil for 8 to 10 minutes. In the meantime, heat the oil in a pan and add garlic, salt and red pepper. When the oil gets hot and the garlic starts to color add the greens and toss. When the pasta is almost done add to the pan and toss with the greens adding ½ cup of the pasta water. Serve with grated parmigiana.


Pasta with Kale and Plum Tomato Sauce

kale

Kale is good for you and very popular lately but it used to be something that only goats ate. If you really want too eat it, make it like this and it won’t be too bad. (For some reason, October 7th is Kale Day. Go figure.)

goat

Kale ingredients

Preparation:

In a large pan, sauté the onion, garlic, S&P and a little red pepper. Add the kale and tomatoes, tossing frequently. Add a little pasta water and cover so it steams. When the kale is wilted and the tomatoes soft, add the pinoles (pine nuts) and a little more pasta water. When the pasta is almost done add to pan and toss with sauce to finish cooking. Serve with grated cheese.


Pasta with Broccoli Rabe

Rabe

It’s still too bitter for some but over the years broccoli rabe has moved up from the weed category. It’s become trendy and you can find it on the best restaurant’s menus but it wasn’t always that way.

Heat chopped garlic in oil. Add washed broccoli rabe (or arugula or other greens) that are still wet and sauté with the garlic and oil. Add S&P, cover and steam. When it wilts, toss with pasta. This recipe also works with other greens. If you’re using something with hard stems like broccoli or bok choy, boil it until tender before sautéing. A little cheese isn’t bad on this.

Pasta con Bok CHoySpaghetti al Nero Sepia con Bok Choy

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Roasted Peppers

Roasted Peppers


Roasted Red Bell Peppers

Good on sandwiches or in antipasto.

roasted peppers

Roasted Peppers ingredients

Char peppers over a gas burner set on high, turning frequently, until skin is blackened and blistered on all sides. Transfer to a bag or a bowl and cover tightly; let stand 15 minutes.

Rub the skin off peppers with the back edge of a knife (without rinsing), remove and discard cores and seeds. Cut peppers into smaller pieces. Don’t worry about some of the black char remaining on the pieces

In a bowl, gently toss together peppers, oil, parsley, salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving.   You can refrigerate left overs in a jar. Make sure to top it off with oil. Serve at room temperature.


Jalapeno Brochettes

They can be very hot.

jalapeno brochette

Roast jalapenos on an open flame until blackened. Put them in a bag to sweat until cooled. Scrape off most of the blackened skin, slice and remove veins and seeds.

Put them on a piece of bread, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with garlic power and coarse sea salt.


 

Basilicata Home Fries

Basilacata Home Fries

Basilicata Home Fries

My father’s family came from Laurenzana, a small town in the hills of Basilicata.Basilicata Home Fries Ingredients

Cut the potatoes into 1 inch pieces. Boil in salted water until slightly soft and drain. Fry green pepper in a hot dry pan until it starts to brown. Remove the pepper. Sweat the onions in oil with salt and black pepper then add the potatoes. Sprinkle liberally with powdered red pepper and fry, chopping with spatula until done with brown edges. Return the green peppers.

Basilacata Home Fries a

Basilacata Home Fries b

Basilacata Home Fries c

Left over, this is a good start for Potato and Egg Frittata.

 

Cocktails – some new ones

The Fall Classic Cocktail

We got this recipe from the bartender who invented it for the Sept. 2011 Landmark Feast at the American Museum of Natural History.

Fall Classic

Fall Classic Cocktail

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass. Add a sprinkle of Angostura.

*cider thyme syrup – 2 cups cider, 1 cup sugar and a few sprigs of thyme. Boil slowly until clear and let it cool. Remove thyme and it’s done.


Bull Shot

Not as dainty as a Mimosa but a very good brunch drink.

Bull Shot

Pour all ingredients over ice in a 10 oz glass, stir and garnish with a lemon wedge.

Zubrowka


Philly Special

Philly tended bar in a place on Stanton Street between the Bowery and Forsyth in the 1960s when it was still the Lower East Side (pre-gentrification). This was his creation.Philly Special

Pour both over ice – simple!

Philly Special


Vodka on the Rocks

A Russian friend gave me this one. Sounds simple but there’s more to it than you might think.

Vodka on the Rocksod

Vodka on the Rocks

Cut a cucumber into thick slices and freeze them solid. Put them into a rocks glass as you would ice, and cover with Vodka.

1st – melting ice doesn’t dilute your drink.

2nd – there’s a fresh aroma of cucumbers with every sip


Caipirinha

A Brazilian friend taught me how to make Caipirinhas. We went to buy limes and I asked how many should I get. She said, “How many Caipirnhas do you want?” So that’s one lime per drink.

caipirinha

Lime – Sugar – Cachaca

Cut the 2 ends of a lime so that you have a barrel shape. Cut that into 4 rings and stack them. Cut that stack into quarters so you now have 16 small wedges of lime.

Put the lime into a heavy duty rocks glass and crush with 2 tea spoons of sugar.

Add ice and fill glass with Cachaca and stir. Some bartenders add a splash of 7-Up.

 

Tomato Beef Sauce

Tomato Beef Sauce

I know some people don’t get Italians referring to tomato sauce as Sunday gravy. In this case it’s justified because there’s so much beef flavor in it.

beef bones

The key to this one is using the right cuts of beef. It has to have lots of collagen, that is, connective tissue which is water soluble and breaks down in slow, moist cooking. I’m using short ribs and ox tail – collagen, bones and marrow. With that as the flavor base you can add, sausage, meatballs, etc.

cooked beef bones

Some tomato sauces can be a simple as the 4 ingredient marinara sauce included in my Eggplant Parmagiana  post. This one is more complex.

beef tom sauce ingr

Season the room temperature meat with salt and pepper and brown on all sides in a pot with olive oil. Remove meat and sauté the onion. Deglaze the pot with the liquid released by the onion.

saute onion

Add the tomato paste and mix with the onion. Add the crushed tomatoes, wine, beef stock and stir. Add the sachet and return the browned meat with its juices. Simmer on medium heat, partially covered for one hour.

Sachet Ingredients
Sachet Ingredients

This is enough sauce for one pound of pasta. Since this is meat sauce and not seafood, serve with grated cheese.