Monthly Archives: January 2012

a diner-style sandwich… at home

Tonight I had a hankering for just a simple sandwich. I picked up a wonderful ciabatta loaf, tomatoes on the vine, peppery arugula, thinly sliced pancetta and some roasted chicken breast. I love to make plan old boring sandwiches into SANDWICHES! I’ve had similar sandwiches like the one I made tonight in the past at gourmet delis, but usually these are made with roasted peppers, shredded lettuce, fresh mozz and bacon. Tonight I used pancetta as a substitute for the bacon aspect [not to mention I LOVE the way the ripple and look like a ‘shrinky dink’, yes childhood throwback, as the cook down in a hot pan]. There is a salty and smokey element that the pancetta offers anything it’s combined with. Instead of roasted red peppers and shredded [flavorless] lettuce, I used the tomatoes and the arugula. I also chose not to add any cheese to this sandwich.
So everything was delicately layered on top of each other and the loaf gently closed, as if placing a sleeping baby into their crib. Sliced on a bias this delicious sandwich made its way to the plate and succumbed to being devoured, to only be reminded of its existence by a few flakes of crust that fell onto the white glass backdrop…

at a low simmer…
-R

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Mmmmmm rub my [pork] belly!

So into the oven roughly five hours ago went my pork belly. I had come across a recipe that sounded pretty interesting and thought I’d give it a whirl. I seasoned the meat abundantly with salt and let it hang out in my refrigerator overnight. Today, I chopped up some carrots, celery, onion and garlic, fresh thyme, honey and white wine then tossed it all into a baking dish. I nestled my ‘belly’ into the dish on top of all of those wonderful flavors. Also being the ‘wild child cook’ I am, I reduced a sauce on the stovetop made up of a sherry wine, sugar, champagne vinegar, smashed garlic, peppercorns, coriander, fennel seed, cardamom and bay leaves. This sauce was supposed to be for the cooked ‘belly’ but I decided I wanted to change it up and have the additional flavors penetrate into the meat while it cooked. I definitely think it was a smart move! To get the ‘fat’ to crisp up, I put the broiler on for a few minutes and let everything get all hot and bothered…
As a side, I just made a simple brussel sprout that I boiled and drained, then stirred in some fresh grated pecorino. Salty, nutty and tangy from the cheese just elevated the flavors of the ‘sprouts’
Never be afraid to try preparing something that isn’t an everyday staple in your refrigerator… just because a name may sound scary, or even look odd doesn’t mean it’s an impossible feat… chances are you’ll be coming back for more and with this dish I know I sure will!

at a low simmer…
-R

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red carpet pizza!

Another lazy Sunday has happened upon us, and just as quickly scurried off… the only difference is that I beat it and made a delicious meal! Nothing too difficult, just a delicious pizza topped off with some roasted garlic, olive oil, crumbly sweet sausage, creamy fresh mozz and spicy arugula. The longest part, but probably the least work… homemade dough! The joy of rolling out out some taut dough into something smooth, soft and luxurious is just so relaxing. Topping this dough off, a completely different element. Simply enough in twenty five minutes, something raw and stretchy now is crisp, browned and delightful exuding flavors that make your mouth water and senses travel…

at a low simmer…
-R

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All tucked in for the night…

Just arrived home from a wonderful night out with family and rushed over to check in on my little mound of heavenly dough. From a small little mound a robust mountain of dough has risen. I carefully wrapped it and tucked it into the fridge till tomorrows yummy spread!

at a low simmer…
-R

Banished to the corner… but only to rise!!

The decision for Sunday dinner has been made after a trip to the market… a recreation of the pizzetta appetizer from the other night at dinner, and I am going to try a new recipe for braised pork belly for Monday night. I picked up sweet sausage, as well as some cheeses and baby arugula to try and replicate the ‘pizzetta’. I am going to prepare my dough today, banish it to a corner to rise and then let it rest overnight. I just love the idea of making something so delicious with my bare hands! Steering away from just your average ‘pizza’ can be quite exciting and your ideas can be limitless! If you really think about it, there is not much that can’t be created into some kinda of ‘pizza’… just think out of the box! If you love cheeses, play around and match them with a certain meat that you would never think of and see how it turns out. A ‘pizza’ does not need to be smothered in tomato sauce and covered with shredded mozz, but rather can be experienced at a whole new level! Try making a gourmet-style homemade pizza and trust me you will want to make them from now on.

at a low simmer…
-R

Sushi night!

Ahhh tonight was a sushi night! Feels like it has been forever since I enjoyed those little rolls of delight. Tonight I made the decision to come out of my normal comfort zone… I decided for an appetizer to veer away from my usual Gyoza and ordered ‘Harumaki’ a Japanese spring roll. These little crunchy rolls come beautifully arranged on the plate with a sweet and slightly tangy dipping sauce offered on the side. One word… Divine!
As my main course, I ordered the shrimp tempura roll with a peanut sauce on top. This goes by the name ‘snoopy’ and is absolutely delectable! Crunchy from the tempura batter and sweet and nutty from the peanut sauce placed gently on each roll! Another roll that I tried and took me WAY out of my normal comfort zone, the fried crabmeat with mango with a special sauce. This roll simply named ‘mango’ was too delicious for words, but not to devour!
It’s always wonderful to visit and catch up with the wonderful group that makes nori so special and inviting! Wonder what the next visit will tempt me to try…

at a low simmer…
-R

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A soggy mess, no not breakfast!

It’s a damp and dreary morning here. So what better to do than pick up a pen and jot down what to do this coming weekend for dinner. As I sit here pondering, I realize that this weekend is more of a marathon restaurant dining experience. Dining out tonight, tomorrow night a birthday, but good ole’ Sunday still shows promise for something that could be wonderful! After last nights’ ‘pizzetta’, I could really go for making Sunday another homemade pizza night… hmmm. Or I could make braised pork belly [TRUST me it is delicious when prepared properly] or even short ribs. Well we will see what looks the best and falls into my basket at the market. Either way, I’m sure I’ll be able to pull it off..

at a low simmer…
-R

A restaurant week success!

Finally was able to enjoy NYC Restaurant Week tonight!! Reservations were made for ‘Gusto’ in the West Village. I started the night off with an old fashioned and took it from there… The menu was appealing, as my first course I selected the Pizzetta which was topped with grilled sausage and burrata cheese. Burrata cheese is absolutely divine and the mouth-feel, soft and milky! For the main course, I decided on the Pan-Seared Prawns. The dish was prepared fra diavlo-style on a puddle of mascarpone polenta. How could I not choose that! The polenta was buttery and creamy and left me wanting for more… Wow how was I ever going to make room for a dessert? I was going to find some way to try the Flourless Chocolate Cake. The cake was covered in a hard chocolate shell, however surprisingly light and airy topped with a meringue style cookie and served with chai gelato rested on top of chopped hazelnuts. One word… AMAZING!
All in all, I give ‘Gusto’ and big thumbs up and will definitely make a trip back. The portions were decent in size and I wasn’t left feeling hungry [needless to say, I did find some room to enjoy the dessert!!]

at a low simmer…
-R

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Restaurant week… Bring it on!

Time for an amazing evening out and dining experience for NYC Restaurant Week! Even though it’s raining outside, I just know it’s going to be a spectacular evening filled with food, drinks and laughter. Stay tuned for an update on the evening later, along with my selections at the restaurant!

at a low simmer…
-R

I’m feeling spicy tonight!

Tonight boring chicken was turned into something vibrant and mouthwatering! On the menu, chicken murphy… I can always recall when I was younger my father asking for this dish whenever we went out to dinner as a family. A blend of different flavor profiles and textures made every bite enticing and left you yearning for more!
So I took the chicken breasts, cut them into chunks and seasoned with salt, along with juice from a jar of hot peppers. I let the chicken marinate for a few hours. While marinating, I prep the supporting ‘actors’ in this dish… one onion sliced, garlic minced, sliced baby bella mushrooms, hot peppers and yukon gold potatoes cut into chunks. After marinating, I pan sear the chicken in olive oil until browned, I set the chicken aside and then in the same pot cook the potatoes also until browned and crisp [you don’t want to skimp on this because it develops amazing flavors]… I then toss in the onions and cook until soft and slightly caramelized. Next I add in the garlic, hot peppers [along with the juice from the jar] and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms reduce in size. Lastly, the chicken is returned to the pot, along with two cups of white wine and reduced slightly. To not lose a single ounce of this amazing sauce, I offer up some warm crusty bread to sop up every last bit… What a meal!

at a low simmer…
-R

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