Monday, July 27, 2009

A light take on Heavy

I have been tyring to make a very conscious effort into becoming healthier. I always cook with fresh ingredients and everything is made from scratch. Then it hits me. The dreaded Alfredo Sauce craving.

This recipe came to me one night when I was craving an oooey gooey Alfredo sauce. Thank god I just got off the phone with my travel agent and booked a tropical getaway. With the thought of frolicking around on a beach, in a bikini, with a tropical drink in my hand I couldn't make it. So I listened to my brain, not my stomach, and improvised a spin off of my insanely fattening and heart clogging Alfredo sauce (my first blog entry ever).

I really liked it....and so did my husband. It really hit the spot and was a nice light meal. Usually after eating Alfredo sauce I feel so bogged down. I just want to sit on the couch and not move. After this I felt light and satisfied. I might even do the unthinkable- Never make traditional Alfredo sauce again. My mother would be so proud!

Light Alfredo with Spinach Ravioli
8oz Marsarpone Cheese
1/2 can (about 8 oz) Chicken Broth
1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
Pinch of Paprika
Salt & Pepper to taste
A hand full of fresh parsley, chopped
1lb of Spinach Ravioli (any kind of pasta is fine)
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

Cook your raviolis in salted water until they are just under Al'dente. Drain. Drizzle with Olive oil and toss.
In a non-coated pan heat the Olive Oil. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the Marscarpone cheese, Broth and spices. Whisk together until the cheese is dissolved.
Pour over the Ravioli, Sprinkle with parsley and enjoy. Quick. Easy. Simply

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

You dont eat no Meat? Ok I make you lamb.

Greek...Italian....Apples and Oranges- we are all just fruit right? Two of our dear friends are Greek and its so funny how similar our cultures are. We spent our first Greek Easter with my friends family and boy oh boy was it goooood! It was so nice to see other cultures celebrations. With us Easter is a Marathon of eating. From the moment you walk in the door until you unbutton your pants on the car ride home-you are eating...non stop. Its amazing. I was blessed to be born into a family that knows how to cook. I think that when you have a love for eating and tasting the cooking comes naturally. Food has always and will always be comforting. Big meals surrounded by 30 of your aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents is one of the biggest joys in life.

Greek Easter was a very different experience for us. We are used to sitting down, eating, talking and drinking wine the whole time. Nope...not the Greeks. We drive up and we could instantly smell the lamb roasting on the spit from down the block. The first thing that my Friend father does is rips off a piece of meat and hands it to us. Amazing. Then I see this thing that I thought was sausage. Her mother says that its the insides of the lamb wrapped up in intestines. Gross to most...but to me I couldn't wait to try it. Then the music started and everyone was dancing. Then a little bit of food...then dancing-rinse and repeat. My husband and I are used to eating and eating and eating. All of this moving around in between courses got us full very quickly. Next year I'll be prepared.

I'm always teaching my friend how to cook like an Italian and in return she teaches me to cook Greek. Bless her heart, because she does try, but she needs to stick with the Greek cooking! (love ya!). One of the first things she told me is "lamb, lemon and spices can make anything Greek- just leave out the Windex". When i came up with this next dish i made it for my friend. She said that this dish 'isn't really Greek' but she will let it slide because its so damn good.

Stuffed Leg of Lamb
1 Leg of Lamb, butterflied (you can use bone in or out)
2 apples chopped
1 onion chopped
1 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup of fresh mint, diced (you can use dried too but try not to please!)
3 lemons- 3 juiced, 1 zested
Salt & pepper to taste
Olive Oil

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

In a saute pan (big enough to hold your lamb) heat some Olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the onions and apples. Stir and cook until tender. Add the Mint, Lemon juice and zest. Cook for another 5 minutes on low.

Lay out your lamb and, if needed, pound out the lamb so that it is all even thickness. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Lay the apple mint mixture on top. Then add the crumbled goat cheese. Roll the meat and tie it with some butchers twine to keep it from opening up during cooking.

Add another few tablespoons of Oil to the Pan you used to cook the apples in. Place the Lamb roll in there and cook for 2-3 minutes each side to get a nice sear (I flipped mine too early here but the other sides came out good). When all sides are seared put it in your pre-heated oven and cook for about an hour or until the temperature is 140F degrees. Take it out of the oven and let it sit, loosely covered with aluminum foil for about 10 minutes. Slice and serve.

Wine suggestions: I personally like Petite Sirah. Most of them have a great spicy peppery taste.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Imagine your a deer...

"your prancing along, and you spot a brook, you put your little deer lips down to the cool, clear water. BAM! A F*cking bullet rips off part of your head. Your brains are lying on the floor in little bloody peices. Now I ask you: Do you really give a f*ck what kind of pants the son of a bitch who shot you was wearin'?"

I think I am the only person in the world who gets hungry when I hear this Quote. For those of you who don't know it, please climb out from under your rock and rent "My Cousin Vinnie". Joe Peshi & Marisa Tomei :::swoon:::

My husband called me on the way home from work one night and said "oh you are going to love me when I get home...I got a present for you!". My mind was racing. What could it be? Candy? Flowers? Wine? Diamonds? EVEN BETTER.....It was fresh caught deer meat! One of the guys who works with him went hunting and caught himself a nice big Buck. (Side note: Honey I did not really mean that venison meat it better than diamonds...please feel free to bring those home at anytime...preferably with venison).

The first night we grilled it as is. No spices, no seasoning just the wild game taste of the meat. Since beer and BBQ always go hand in hand this is my concoction for night 2 of the venison meat.
Beer Venison
2 Venison Loins (or 2lbs of any type of red meat if you don't like Venison)
1 Bottle of Beer (I'm using Stella-please don't use Bud or Coors for this!)
1/2 cup Light Brown Sugar
1/4 cup of Horseradish sauce
Garlic Powder
Prep Time: 10 minutes + mariade time
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Combine all the ingredients except for the Horseradish and pepper. Whisk until all the sugar is dissolved
Add the Horseradish and pepper and stir to incorporate
Let your meat sit in the marinade for no less than 4 hours. Over night would be ideal.

I was planning on putting this on the grill but due to a Tornado Watch (Yes in NY) I was forced to cook this on the stove. Get a Pan searing hot and sear all sides of the meat for 30 seconds. Add the remaining marinade to cover the Venison 1/2 way. Cook for 4 minutes on each side depending on the thickness of the cut and your preferred done-ness. Once you remove the meat from the pan simmer the Beer for about 5 minutes while you let the meat rest. Use as a dipping sauce.

Serving Beer works!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It happens to the best of us

Fail. Big Fail.

The idea was good. The thought was cute. The final product should have stayed an idea in my head.
I have an unhealthy relationship with buffalo wings. I love them. I crave them at least once a week. There is something about the spicy red sauce and the creamy cold blue cheese that goes together better than Peanut Butter and Jelly.

I wanted to come up with a way that I could make buffalo wings a main dish without feeling like I am at T.G.I.Fridays. Buffalo wing casserole I thought to myself. Sounds amazing right? Well it was pretty good but it was just way too much Buffalo wing taste for a main dish. I never thought that could happen. It was a really intense big huge bowl of Buffalo wing casserole. I guess that was the point of it so in a way it did work out great. But I will stick to my standard Buffalo Wings from now on. If you want a big ole bowl of buffalo wing tasting casserole then by all means you will enjoy this dish. I guess I'm a more traditional snack food person.
Buffalo Wing Casserole:
1.5 lbs of boneless buffalo wings (either homemade or frozen)
3 cup of cooked white rice
1 can of Cream of Chicken Soup
1/2 cup of Hot Sauce
Buffalo Wings:
1.5 lbs of boneless chicken cut into bite sized pieces
1 tsp of Cayenne pepper
1 tsp Paprika
1/2 cup of buttermilk
1/2 stick of butter
1 cup of Hot Sauce
Mix the flour, pepper and paprika. Dip the chicken pieces in the buttermilk and then the flour mixture. Then Bake or Fry until Cooked through. Melt the butter and in a sauce pan and whisk in the hot sauce. Coat the cooked chicken with this mixture and you have buffalo wings.

Combine the Rice, Hot Sauce and Cream of Chicken together in a Casserole dish. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Top with Boneless buffalo wings and Blue Cheese dressing.

***hangs head in shame***

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Come on baby light my fire

Summer is the season for Barbecue. My husband goes out back, slowly turns the knob on his new Weber and then listens for that 'click, click. click POOF'....ahhhh Fire. He slowly closed the lid and waits exactly 8 minutes for it to get to the optimal sear temperature. The first time he turned on his new toy it reminded me of that scene from Castaway when Tom Hanks figured out how to make fire. It doesn't take much for my husband to enjoy himself.

While he waits he sits down with a nice beer and enjoys his night of cooking dinner for me, I am in the kitchen preparing the vegetables, salad and steaks to go on the grill. I try to tell him that just because he puts the meat on the grill doesn't mean he is giving me the night off from cooking. Its not fair when you really think about it. I spend all the time in the kitchen cleaning the meat, making a marinade from scratch, cleaning and cutting up the veggies then I get the joy of clean the kitchen AND the grill after Bobby Flay is done out there. Yet he gets the credit. I really don't get it but I go along with it because being near an open flame is some sort of male power trip.

Personally I think the 'danger' of grilling is what gets men going. A small drip of juice and you get a flair up. A grin crosses any mans face and inside their brain is Tom Hanks screaming "AHA! Look what I have created!!! I HAVE MADE FIRE!!!" then they proceed to dance around the grill to put it out. You got a slight breeze- you got a flair up. Lets face it: Anytime there is a chance to need a ambulance or fire truck, men are all over it.

Enjoy yourselves boys, I will be in the kitchen watching you through the window and laughing my ass off while drinking a glass of wine and praying for rain.

Wine and Fire Marinade Sirloin

3 lbs Sirloin Steak (Bessie to the rescue again)
2 cups of Red Wine
1 cup Soy Sauce
1/2 Cup Worcestershire
2 Lemons, sliced to make circles
1 Vidalia onion
4 cloves of garlic

Dice the Onion and Garlic. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and Marinade your steak for at least 3 hours, but overnight is best. Yes that is a Sirloin and yes it is from my cow Bessie. Nice huh?

On a searing HOT grill lay the steaks down and rest the onions and lemon slices on top. Spash or brush on every few minutes with the marinade. This should make the man behind the grill happy...LOTS of flair ups. When you do this the marinade will give the steak a great smoky char flavor. Flip the steaks after about 5-10 minutes depending on how you prefer the temperature. Lay the lemons on the grill next to the steak when you flip. This will give them a nice grill line and flavor.
Squeeze the juice out of the lemon slices and serve. I have a simple side of mashed is a man food after all. If you need a recipe for mashed potato's then you probably should be working with an open flame to begin with...i kid i kid...sort of.
Serving suggestions: I marinaded my steak with a Chianti so I drank the left over with it. Perfect.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I lied. This is the worst food I've made

There is nothing like the summer in NYC. The blazing heat. The white light reflecting off of every window onto the concrete blinding your eyes. The wonderful aromas of the subway on a mid summer afternoon. The homeless people hoarding around you to sell you a bottle of mildly cool water for $2. Sweaty Joe Blow and Bonifa sandwiching you on the 7 train in rush hour-FYI for some strange reason deodorant and soap are not required use for the subways. The tourists stopping the the middle of the street in Times Square to take a picture. Not to mention to poor saps from the sticks trying to navigate the subway tunnels. Ahhh the good life.

Then there is another side of NYC in the summer. Roof top parties on a breezy night. Picnics in Central Park. Reduced admission at the museums. Long walks after the theater. But the best part are all the street fairs. The streets of NYC smell like Grandma's kitchen. Vendors line the streets selling anything and everything you can think of. And my god the food! Braciole, Clams on the half shell, zeppoles, funnel cakes, sausage pepper and onions sandwiches, shish kabobs, dirty water dogs (hot dogs), Nutz4Nuts, you name it and its sold in stands lining the streets.

There is one Street Fair that I both look forward to and dread every year. The Creme de la Creme of Street Fairs. Its the best one but when the street is cleaned, the flags are taken down and the Fair is over I know the summer nights are gone with it. The San Genero Feast in Little Italy closes the Summer season in NYC every September. Mulberry Street is closed to traffic for two weeks every year to celebrate San Gennaro and the Italian way of life. Live music on the corners, handsome Italian boys dressed to the nines trying to entice you to eat at their restaurant. The smell of cigars from the street side cafes. Carnie Games "ill give you one dart for free to hit a balloon!" "such a pretty lady! would the gentleman want to win this lovely lady a prize?". When I was younger I have such fond memories of Little Italy. Back then it really was a Little Italy. Now the true Little Italy is down to about 3-4 blocks long. Down Mulberry St from Broome to Canal St. Chinatown has taken over. Don't get me wrong I love Chinatown (where else can you get a Rolex for $10, a Birkin for $20 and Noodles at 3am?). But Little Italy is a part of my Soul. Every year it gets smaller and smaller. Beautiful clean streets lined with restaurants and shops are now littered with trash and the restaurants have long since disappeared. It truly is the end of an Era. At least I still have my San Gennaro Feast.

There is nothing like the San Gennaro Feast. The best food of any feast. All the restaurants set up tables in the middle of the streets. If you don't want to sit you can visit one of the many vendor stands. On the corner of Motts Street there is a guy who spends all day and night opening fresh clams. The next stand over is braciole and steaks. Down by La Mela you can get a plate full of meatballs. Every other stand sell Zeppolies...and they are all called "NYC BEST ZEPPOLI! get 'um while their hot!". I think they went to Chinatown to get the knock off signs for $1 each.

There is one stand that will forever hold my heart. I can smell it the second I get near the feast. I push and shove my way through the hoards of people to reach my pot of gold at the end of the Italian Rainbow. Deep. Fried. Oreos. (a moment of silence please)

Before I got Married I would have these once a year at the feast. Now that I got my own deep fryer for my Bridal shower I can indulge anytime I want. The second I ripped off the wrapping paper and saw the Deep Fryer I had one thought: Oreos. I've had ones that friends have made, I've heard horror stories from family trying to make them and they have all been epic fails nothing compairs to the ones at the feast. Too doughy, to dry, too soggy, no crisp bite, too crisp. Now I know the trick, and I will share it with you but you must keep it a secret. I have spent many hours of trial and error trying to get the batter just right. Thinner and less sticky then zeppoli batter but thicker than a crepe-with the taste and texture of a zeppoli. Its gotta crunch when you bite into it and be soft and fluffy inside. It also HAS to crust fast so the cream in the Oreo doesn't melt out and cook fast enough so the Oreo stays crispy. When I ran out of flour I found the trick. Determination wins again.

Deep Fried Oreos

One Package of Oreo Cookies
2 Cups of Bisquick (yes, pancake mix...just trust me ok?)
2 Eggs
1 1/2 Cup of Milk
2 tablespoons of Vegetable Oil
Vegetable Oil for frying

Powdered sugar for garnish.

Turn on your deep fryer and get it hot. If you do not have a deep fryer then you can fill up a dutch oven pot or any heavy, deep, even heating pot over the stove with oil. You need about 4 inches of oil in the pot.

Mix together all of the ingredients. Dip the Oreos in so that they are completely covered. The batter should stick to the Oreo and not run off as shown in the picture above. If its to runny add more Bisquick, too thick add more milk. You want to put the coated Oreo in the hot oil as soon as it is dipped. Do not try to dip them all at once. If the batter sits on the Oreo it will make the cookie mushy and it will also never 'poof' up to a perfect little gem.

Gently place some the dipped Oreos in the hot oil. It is best to do them in batches and not all at once. You can test the oil first by dropping a bit of batter in, if it bubbles right away then your good to go. Make sure the Oreos don't touch when you first place them in the oil otherwise they will stick together. After two minutes turn the over and let the other side cook. Do not move them around to much or the batter will come off the Oreo if it is not cooked through. When both sides are a nice golden brown they are ready to come out.

As you remove the Oreos from the hot oil place them on a plate or cookie sheet lined with paper towels. this will absorb all the oil off the surface leaving you with a nice crispy crunchy shell.

Dust with powdered sugar and loosen your belt!

Serving recomentdation: A nice big ole cup of cold milk!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Change of blog

I am testing a new blog layout because, well honestly, the last one was pretty messy. Anyway feedback would be great!