Fellow block & lot and rooftop chefs: Burger season is upon us. Let 2013 be the year you took your burger to the next level. Your patty prep is key to getting compliments around the grill from your homies! There are a lot of things you can add to your beef before you grill to make it tasty. Start with quality beef. And try some of the following additions to the mix. Just remember to go easy with quantity. If you are using butcher beef, you don’t want to overpower a complimentary flavor with the natural flavor of fresh beef. The following five ways to prep your ground meat are tried and tested, so give these ideas a chance for your next rooftop BBQ.
Half & Half Use 50% ground pork with 50% ground beef. I hear a lot people say this is a Greek version of the hamburger, but my Italian grandmother made her meatballs this way, too. If you do want to go Greek, add some parsley and minced onion and squirt a little lemon on the patty right before you take it off the grill. Otherwise keep it simple with the mixture with good amount of fresh ground salt & pepper.
Soy Sauce Use a tablespoon of soy sauce for every 8 ounces of meat, mix thoroughly. I like to use my hands for all ground beef mixing. Your fingers can mix more efficiently than any stationary tool. Squeeze the beef in both hands in a big bowl. Add some fresh ground pepper, but no more salt. Don’t forget that the soy sauce is all the saltiness that you need. Continue reading →
A blog I follow called After Dinner Design featured these amazing looking Bacon Wrapped Breadsticks, which I plan to bring to New Year’s Eve. They’re so simple.
Cut some slices of bacon in half and wrap them around breadsticks. (I want to use those sesame breadsticks.) Then roll them in brown sugar and chili powder. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes on a cooling wrap ideally so the fat can drain. That’s it. I know these will be the hit of New Year’s Eve!
While looking for images I found this amazing photo on Healthy. Delicious that calls these gems Grissini. After asking Rocco (my Dad) about Grissini he said they are bread sticks wrapped in prosciutto and not baked. Definitely healthy. Delicious? Who cares!
Have an awesome recipe to share? Please email it to greenpointers (at) gmail.com
For over two years now Milk and Roses, (1110 Manhattan Ave) in Greenpoint has been the go to place for the perfect cappuccino and croissant. Now Milk has the pleasure to announce an entire new side, with the able hand of Chef Chance Jones. Jones has created an authentic southern Italian menu, featuring cheese and cured meat platters, insalate, braised meats and pasta.
Milk is especially excited about Agnello in Agro, a braised leg of lamb with cacao, egg, lemon and a warm carrot puree. Another chilly day favorite are the braised short ribs served over polenta, rucola and lemon. The pastas include Cacio e Pepe and Genovese, served daily, plus a featured different special pasta every night.
But do not worry – they still have your favorites for lunch and brunch!
Keep Milk and Roses in mind when booking your next special event, wedding or film shoot. The handsome interior also functions as a full-service event space!
I am sorry but bitches just looks so good after Bacon Pasta. Let me tell you, hipsters aren’t the only nationality in Brooklyn that likes bacon! My Sicilian family goes crazy over this dish.
After Jon got out of the hospital, the doctors recommended no fatty food. The first meal my Dad Rocco made for him when they met for the first time was Pasta with Bacon. I was like, “Are you trying to kill my boyfriend, Dad?!”
He survived and loved it!
In Sicily, it’s called Pasta alla Matriciana (mah – truh- cha – nah). And it’s another easy half hour dinner. In Italy, they use Pancetta, which is Italian Bacon.
The pasta is a Spinach Parpardelle from Cayuga Pure Organics, which sells flours and beans on Saturdays in McGolrick Park. We picked up some delicious bacon from Brooklyn Cured who sells at the McGolrick Park Famers Market on Sundays. The fresh tomatoes are paste tomatoes, good for sauce, a special breed Sam from Great Road Farm is cultivating, but I can’t remember the name! Kewalo? Roma tomatoes will do. We are saving the seeds for next year. He told us they need to ferment a little before drying, so if they get moldy and stink, then it’s happening.
Pasta with Bacon
Cut up a package of bacon into chunks and fry it until crisp but still fatty. Remove the bacon. If there is a lot of fat, drain it so the bottom is just covered with grease. Fry one whole chopped onion with hot pepper flakes in the oil. After about 5 minutes add 4-5 chopped tomatoes. A can of chopped tomatoes will do. Salt and pepper. After about 10 minutes, add the bacon back into the pot. Cook for about 20 minutes. Use the sauce on top of pasta and top with fresh parsley and grated cheese.
The feast is starting today! And it’s not just about winning goldfish and eating zeppoles, though that is how we celebrate it in my family. The story behind the feast began in a little town outside of Naples called Nola.
(If you don’t know what a zeppole is, read about it here.)
The feast in “Italian Williamsburg” is actually two feasts in one. The “Giglio” part of the feast honors Saint Paolino of Nola, who is celebrated because he sacrificed himself to North African slave abducting pirates in order to free a young man from the hometown. Word spread of his courage and a Turkish sultan talked to a guy and Saint Paolini and his “paesani” (homeboys) were freed.
The feast culminates on July 16th to honor Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Referred to as the Blessed Mother, the devotion to the Virgin by Southern Italians often leaves you asking, “God who?”
Even though we love our Madonna in Brooklyn, that aspect of the feast was added on later. The feast was originally was all about the Giglio. Continue reading →
Join Greenpointers for a Rice Balls Class & Supper with Jen on Monday April 23rd, 2012 at 7pm at Paulie Gee’s (60 Greenpoint Ave). Learn how to make homemade arancini, which means little oranges, a delicious, traditional Sicilian specialty. After we fry up all the rice balls we can sit down and eat them all. Includes wine. Course includes all food and materials. (Vegetarian Friendly.) This is going to be ALOT of fun!
Limited seating. Reserve by making a payment via paypal.
When I was lucky enough to attend the Paulie Gee Christmas party and have dinner with the man himself, I was able to use the skills I learned in my interviewing class to find out how he made his delicious red pasta sauce. (note: this is not the sauce he uses on his pizza.)
“Oh man! This is so good. How do you make this?”
“Are these San Marzano tomatoes?”
“I can’t tell you.”
“Paulie, Come on. I need to know what kind of tomatoes these are.”
“It’s a secret.”
“You have to tell me!”
(My interview method is called: The Whiny Interrogation.)
As I rolled my eyes and grumbled and complained, he explained the simple recipe. It was the easiest sauce I’ve ever made, and maybe one of the most delicious in its simplicity.
The key here is vidalia onions, the ones that look squashed. They are so sweet and mild you can eat them raw. (Paulie can’t.)
Sautee one chopped vidalia onion with a few cloves of garlic (Paulie doesn’t use garlic, I did.) in olive oil. (I added red chili flakes, too.) Transfer to a bowl. Over that add a generous amount of fresh basil leaves, which steam from the heat and release a lot of flavor. Then add your tomatoes – I used 2 cans of San Marzano whole tomatoes, which I find to be superior to other canned tomatoes found in the grocery store. I used a food mill to crush them and remove the seeds.
Leave the bowl covered on the counter overnight, and depending on whether you want the onion and basil in there, you can put it all through the food mill again before you make your pasta.
What I love about making this sauce is all the other dishes besides pasta I can make with it.
One of the most simple dishes I make is cauliflower stewed in tomato sauce. In a pot, saute garlic and olive oil and red pepper flakes. Add enough sauce to cover the bottom of the pot, then add pieces of cauliflower. Season with salt and pepper. Add some tomato sauce over the cauliflower and some water to the bottom of the pot. Cover and let it steam for 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender. At the end, add some grated Parmesan cheese. This can be eaten on its own or, if cooked down a lot, can be used atop pasta.
Another great way to use the sauce is to stew greens with beans. I love white beans with escarole and chick peas with spinach. I like to make this even more oniony, so I saute more onions with garlic and, of course, red pepper flakes. Then I add a can of beans. Once those cook down for a few minutes add your green. Season with salt and pepper. This is one of my accidentally vegan dishes. After I cook it, I say, “and it’s vegan, too!” I’m not vegan, but I have friends who are.
The next day I love to poach an egg in tomato sauce. This is so easy. In a small pot, pour in some sauce and let it heat up a bit. Crack an egg in, season the yolk with salt and pepper and cover. Lower the heat and after 5 minutes you have a warm delicious saucy egg that is great topped with cheese and served with Italian bread. You can poke it to see how runny or firm it is.
And if you do happen to use the food mill to remove the tomato seeds and the onions bits, you can use that to top pizza or bruschetta! There are five ways to use the sauce right there!
I’ve had this recipe for Rainbow Cookies on my fridge since last year and decided to make it. Working my first job as a counter girl at an Italian bakery in Queens and accepting collect calls from the grumpy bakery owner’s son, who was in jail for idiotic low-level racketeering, gave me have a distaste for Italian pastries, with the exception of a few things: Pignoli Cookies, Rainbow Cookies & Cannolis (but only the cannolis that the nuns from the San Carlo monastery on Erice, a medieval mountain town in Sicily make. God is in them.) The rest of the Italian pastries can burn in hell.
Rainbow Cookies are pretty pricey per pound and if you’re going to buy them around Brooklyn I would recommend Fortunata Brother’s on Manhattan & Devoe.
Making the rainbow cookies seemed pretty pricey, too. It didn’t help that I had to buy 3 half sheet pans at $15 a pop from The Brooklyn Kitchen, plus 4 tubes of Almond Paste at $8 a pop! I definitely came home grumpy.
“I should have just bought them at the bakery,” I said as I laid the ingredients on the counter. But the process and the end result were worth it, plus we got between 150-200 cookies out of it.
I cut the recipe out of New York Magazine from the chef of Torrisi Italian Specialties, a great Italian restaurants down on Mulberry, the walls lined with Manhattan Special: my favorite drink, espresso soda.
If you plan on making rainbow cookies, make sure you have an entire day off plus a partner with good hand-eye coordination. I am lacking in that area and Jon, who is mechanically inclined proved, to have amazing cake layering and chocolate spreading skills. Had I tried to take this endeavor solo, I assure you these cookies would not be so pretty.
When it comes down to it, “it’s a lot of work, Jane,” as Nonna, my Sicilian Grandma would say. There are many steps: beating the egg whites for stiff glossy peaks, splitting one batter into three for coloring, baking three cakes separately until just underdone so they stay moist, cooling the cakes then layering them using orange marmalade as glue, letting them set then spreading warm chocolate on the top and bottom. Start as early in the morning as you can.
While getting closer and closer to chocolatey soft almond cookie goodness, I was giddy. I remember saying, “this sure as hell beats last minute christmas shopping.” In fact, making these cookies is what the holidays are all about: slowing down, spending time with someone you love, making something you love, then giving to people you love.” These cookies put a truer smile on faces than anything you can unwrap and rip a price tag off of.
12 large eggs, separated
2 2/3 cups sugar
24 oz. almond paste
8 sticks butter, softened
5 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. red food coloring
2 tsp. green food coloring
16 oz. orange preserves, heated and strained
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Preheat oven to 350. Beat egg whites in electric mixer until they just hold stiff peaks. Add ½ cup sugar, beating until whites hold stiff, slightly glossy peaks, then refrigerate. Beat together almond paste and remaining sugar in mixer. Add butter gradually and beat until mixture is fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add yolks and beat until well combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour and salt and mix until just combined. Fold in egg whites. Divide batter equally among 3 bowls; wearing gloves,(1) whisk red food coloring into one and green into another, leaving the third batch plain. Spread each batter separately and evenly, about ¼-inch thick, onto 3 half-sheet pans, each greased and lined with parchment paper. Bake until just barely set, about 7 minutes. (2) When layers are cool, spread half the preserves onto the green layer. Invert plain layer over it and discard paper. Spread on remaining preserves, and invert red layer over it; discard paper. Wrap with plastic and top with a weighted baking pan. Refrigerate for several hours. Remove plastic and bring to room temperature. Melt chocolate in a double boiler, and (3) spread thinly on top layer. Chill in freezer briefly until firm. Cover with wax paper, place another baking sheet on top, then invert cake onto sheet pan and remove paper. Quickly spread with remaining chocolate and return to freezer until firm. Trim edges, slice, and serve.
Il Passatore on Bushwick Ave makes a mean Bolognese. I attempted to recreate it and though quite different, I am happy with the results which were adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s Classic Bolognese Recipe. When trolling for recipes online I choose the simplest, with the most accessible on-hand ingredients or those that can be easily substituted. I had a jug of heavy cream in the fridge so this one was appealing. I’d never heard of cream in meat sauce, but cream in anything is usually good.
Bolognese is a MEAT SAUCE with TOMATOES, not a TOMATO SAUCE with MEAT; different from what I grew up thinking and eye-openingly scarf-worthy.
This sauce is easy but like all good things it takes time. Use the best ingredients you can find. I know it’s more expensive but I love meat from The Meat Hook. It makes me feel less guilty for killing animals because I have the illusion they hang out in jacuzzis before they are slaughtered. The meat doesn’t originate from a horrible factory farm, thus it’s nutritionally and karmically better. I would have liked to use ground veal, because that is really ethical, but it’s special order at The Meat Hook. One thing I also forgot were peas, which are nice little sweet bursts of green. Parsley on top would be the icing on this meaty spaghetti cake.
Like all my cooking, I have no quantity meter. That is whether I am cooking for myself or 100 people, I cook for 100 people.
With the leftover sauce I stuffed these colorful peppers, which make great lunchbox meals.
Almost There Bolognese*
2 Cups Heavy Cream (1 C. reduced to add at end; 1 C. at room temperature to stir in during simmering)
1 Italian Sausage
1 lb chopped chuck (veal, pork, lamb in this mix would be delicious)
1/2 C. chopped pancetta (or bacon)
1 C. chopped carrots
[1 C. chopped celery]
1 chopped onion
1/2 C. red wine [or white]
1-2 Bay leaf
Dash of hot red pepper flakes
2 minced garlic cloves
3 TBSP sun dried tomato paste dissolved in water [or meat stock]
[1/2 C. Peas]
Salt & Pepper
Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano Cheese
In a small heavy sauce pot reduce 1 C. of cream to 1/3. Meanwhile, brown the pancetta, then stir in the carrots, onions, bay leaf and hot red pepper flakes until tender. Salt & Pepper. In a bowl mix the sausage (casing off) and the chopped meat with salt & pepper, then add to the vegetables until brown. Stir in the wine, garlic and diluted tomato paste. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 2 hours, partially covered. Every so often stir in 1 C. of unreduced cream. After a few hours, stir in the reduced cream. Towards the end would also be a good time to stir in some peas. Salt & Pepper. Serve topped with parsley and grated parmesan or romano cheese over spaghetti or your choice of pasta.
Bolognese Stuff Peppers
4-6 Bell Peppers
1-2 C. Bolognese Sauce
1/2 C. Cooked White Rice (add some butter to warm rice)
3 TBSP Parmesan or Pecorino Romano Grated Cheese
1/2 C. Peas
2 Scrambled Eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut off the tops of the peppers and set aside. Cut the bottom of the peppers as needed so they stand on their own. Remove the seeds and boil the peppers in salted water until tender but still firm. Remove and cool. In a separate bowl, combine the bolognese sauce, white rice, cheese, scrambled eggs and peas. Add the rice and sauce gradually to build your stuffing. You don’t want too much rice or too much meat. Stuff the peppers with the mixture and top with more grated cheese. Bake for 20 minutes with the tops on at 350 degrees.
*In brackets are ingredients I didn’t but could have used in this recipe. Most likely I forgot.