Coney Island

Coney Island

Coney Island

Somehow, a tradition started a few years back, where every Father’s Day my daughter Kristina takes me to Coneys Island. The amusement area isn’t as big as it used to be but it still has that good old Coney Island feel – a little seedy and not gentrified.
Coney Island
Kristina, Bridget, me, Nicki, Stephen and Jack – Molly had to work.

Ruby’s
We meet at Ruby’s Bar on the boardwalk for lunch. They have traditional Coney Island food – hot dogs, clams, onion rings, etc.

Coney Island

Coney Island

Coney Island

 


The Beach

Coney IslandAfter lunch we spend the rest of the afternoon on the beach. There must have been a crack down on vendors. You used to be able to buy just about anything on the beach – water, beer, ice cream, loose cigarettes, loose joints and nutcracker. One of my favorites was fresh mango sprinkled with hot chili powder – sounds strange but delicious. All we could get this year was lime ice.Coney Island

Kitchen 21
After a day on the beach we’d walk down to Brighton Beach and have dinner at one of the Russian restaurants but since Kitchen 21 opened we’ve been eating there.Coney Island

Coney Island

Coney Island


Coney Island

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Johnny Walker Black NY Yankee Scotch

Johnny Walker Black NY Yankee Scotch

I went to the liquor store to get a bottle of my brand of Scotch, Johnny Walker Black, and couldn’t find it on the shelf. I looked for the traditional black box and didn’t see any. I asked the clerk and he pointed to a black and white pin-striped box. It was a New York Yankees 2018 Limited Edition Johnny Walker Black.
The box, the label and even the bottle cap – all in pin stripes and Johnny is carrying a bat over his shoulder and tossing a baseball.

Johnny Walker Black

So, if you’re a Scotch drinker and a Yankee fan, this is for you. Since it’s a limited edition it’ll probably become a collectible and in a couple of years people will be bidding for it on eBay.
But I think I’ll drink it now.

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Macaroni and Beans

Allesandro Castelli-Italian Peasants by a Cottage

 

Macaroni and Beans

Macaroni and Beans

I don’t always do real La Cucina Povera (the cooking of the poor) recipes but this time it’s one of the best – macaroni and beans. What could be a less expensive meal for a family?  And the best part about it is that it’s delicious. Every weekday night my mother would start dinner with one of her mother’s recipes, a kind of macaroni and “something,” maybe beans, lentils, cecis (chick peas), broccoli, cauliflower and then she’d serve the main course. These macaroni dishes were terrific but she  never considered them “good enough” to serve to guests.

So here’s the family recipe for Macaroni and Beans.

Macaroni and Beans

Macaroni and Beans

Start a pot of salted water for the macaroni.

Saute the onion slowly over low heat in oil. Don’t brown. Season with salt, black and red pepper. Add the tomato paste, parsley and blend. Add 1 cup of the pasta water and let this continue to simmer on a low heat as the pasta cooks.

Macaroni and Beans

When the pasta is almost done add add it to the sauce to finish cooking. Add the beans and some of the pasta water so it has a somewhat soupy consistency. Check for seasoning and serve with a drizzle of olive oil and,if you like, some grated cheese or toasted bread crumbs.


 

Collard Greens Southern Style

Collard Greens Southern Style

I recently did a post on Collard Greens Italian Style. It’s only  fair that I do a traditional southern recipe. I got this from a couple I know whose families come from Georgia.

Collard Greens Southern Style

Collard Greens Southern Style

  • Place hock in a large pot and just cover with chicken stock, water or a combination of the two. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the liquid is reduced by a third.
  • While the hock is simmering, remove collard stems and roll leaves lengthwise like a cigar and slice into 1 inch pieces. Put cut leaves in a sink full of cold water and wash. Remove and drain.Collard Greens Southern Style
  • In a separate pan lightly sauté onion on a low heat in half of the fat or oil. Don’t brown.Collard Greens Southern Style
  • When the onion is soft and translucent add salt, vinegar, garlic, sugar, pepper and remaining bacon fat or olive oil to pan. Cook on a medium low heat for a few minutes then add to the pot with the hock.Collard Greens Southern Style
  • Turn heat to high and add greens, stir, cover and lower heat and simmer for 45 to 60 minutes, until tender.Collard Greens Southern Style

Collard Greens Southern Style


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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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Glazed Pork Loin

Glazed Pork Loin

Glazed Pork Loin

Pork goes well with sweetness – things like apple sauce, fruit glazes and chutney. With this one the sweetness is cut with the addition of siracha for a well balanced combination of hot and sweet.

Glazed Pork Loin


Coat the room temperature loin with the rub.

Glazed Pork Loin

Brown it in a cast iron pan in olive oil. Remove to a dish, let it cool a bit and brush on the glaze. Put it back in the pan and roast for 15 – 20 minutes in a 350o oven (internal temp. 130o). Don’t over cook. Let it rest covered in foil for 10 minutes, slice and serve.

Glazed Pork Loin


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Swordfish with Mint and Lemon

Swordfish with Mint and Lemon

Swordfish with Mint and Lemon

This is a good summer recipe for a charcoal or gas grill. It also works indoors on a grill pan. It’s up to you but we like the inside just a little bit pink.

Swordfish with mint and lemon

Swordfish with mint and lemonSwordfish with mint and lemon

Marinade and Sauce

 

Swordfish with Mint and Lemon

Cook for a few minutes on each side, depending on thickness, on a grill or a ridged pan. Don’t overcook. Grill a couple of lemon halves at the same time and squeeze them over the steaks when done. Serve topped with sauce.

Swordfish with Mint and Lemon


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Excerpt from La Cucina Povera

Excerpt from La Cucina Povera

From an article in Gastronomica about my family’s cooking –

Excerpt from La Cucina Povera. . . There’s none of that restaurant-style lasagna or ‘‘veal parm’’ in our cookbook with their rubbery layers of mozzarella and loads of garlic. For us there’s no simple thing called ‘‘spaghetti sauce’’; we have dozens of sauces that go with various types of pasta in strict combination. Most of the recipes we include are the ones our grandmother, Nicolina, brought with her to America from Salerno more than a hundred years ago. This is truly la cucina povera, the cooking of the poor.


Excerpt from La Cucina Povera

. . . The next course was pasta frutti di mare. If guests asked for cheese to sprinkle on their pasta, we of course had to tell them they couldn’t have any. Everyone should know it’s a mortal sin to put cheese on seafood. The pasta course was followed by other things that swim and were available at the end of December. A standard was baccala, dried cod fish, prepared both as a salad and a stew. It’s so dry it resembles a plank of wood when you buy it.


Excerpt from La Cucina Povera

. . . We’d also serve cured meats like prosciutto and capocollo but which we pronounce in Grandma’s dialect, ‘‘braschute’’ and ‘‘gabbagoul.’’


Excerpt from La Cucina Povera

. . .  When I think about my childhood family meals I can still smell fresh-cut lemons and dried oregano, and hear the sizzle of my mother’s breaded veal cutlets frying in olive oil. The shades of color in an arugula, romaine, and blood orange salad bring back memories of much more than just something to eat.


Excerpt from La Cucina Povera

. . . I handed my fourteen-year-old granddaughter, Molly, a sharp knife, a cutting board, and five pounds of sardines and asked her to clean them. After I showed her how it to do it, she worked on them until she was left with a neat pile of fillets, without once saying ‘‘Ew’’ or ‘‘Yuck.’’


Excerpt from La Cucina Povera

. . .  As I unwrapped it and put the heart on the kitchen counter, Bridget left the room and wouldn’t come back. . . I don’t remember ever seeing anything like that in my Mother’s kitchen, and it didn’t look at all like the dainty bits in the finished dish she served. I didn’t know where to start and after calling Nicki, found she didn’t either, so I Googled, ‘‘preparation beef heart,’’ and came up with a method of cleaning it.


Complete article – La Cucina Povera

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Collard Greens Italian Style

Collard Greens Italian Style

Bridget and I were at a farmer’s market and got some collard greens. We were going to make them Southern style and looked for someone selling smoked ham hocks. Instead we found Italian sausages and changed our plans. Broccoli rabe, sausage and pasta is a traditional Southern Italian dish. So why not mix-up Southern USA and Southern Italy. We replaced the broccoli rape with collards and just because we were being adventurous anyway we added some cannellini beans. Here’s how we did it.

Collard Greens Italian Style

Cleaning collard greens – Cut out and discard the stems. Stack the 2 remaining pieces. Cut the stack into 1 inch strips and wash them.

Collard Greens Italian Style

Put up a pot of water for pasta.
Cut the sausage into 1 inch pieces. Brown in oil in a large pot.Collard Greens Italian Style
Remove sausage and add garlic and beans. Cook for a few minutes and remove. Deglaze the pot with the wine.
Add the greens to the pot with 1 cup of water. Cook covered on medium high until they wilt, about 10 minutes. Add the almost cooked pasta and ¼ cup of cheese and blend. Return the sausage and beans to the  pot. Add more pasta water if necessary to keep it a  little soupy and serve.

Collard Greens Italian Style


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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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