What is it about pizza?

February 25, 2009

totonnos1

So as a New Yorker (admittedly a transplant) I’m fairly serious when it comes to my love of pizza. I know what I like and I know what I don’t. I have the place to go for pie. And I want to tell everyone I meet about it. I know what good pizza is and its my duty to show everyone where to get it…..

Well at least this is how I felt as of a week ago. But the truth is, I’ve taken a number of friends to the place, and I have always left a little unsure. I find that person questioning how much they like the pie and that always makes me feel like I’m wrong in some way. But I’m telling you this place is amazing. Sure its a little pricey but their crust is amazing (thin and flavorful) and they use fresh mozzarella and the best tomato sauce. And sure they’ve started charging for fresh basil but their flavor is spot on…

All of these things are true…but for ME. Pizza, maybe more than any other food in New York is an extremely polarizable subject and everyone has their favorite….but what makes your favorite pizza? where do you go for your favorite pie? and how do you set your standards? Let me know by leaving comments below and I’ll share my favorite with you…

grimaldies


The Proof is in the Bread Pudding…

February 22, 2009

So as I mentioned in the previous post, last night I was cooking and serving a six course dinner for six. This is a menu that I designed to be somewhat progressive; progressive in the sense that each course would contain one ingredient from the previous course. I wanted to showcase my ability to play with the flavors and textures of the different ingredients. In most cases good food doesn’t require a lot of bells and whistles. I had a blast doing this dinner for a number of reasons. As always, the enjoyment I get from cooking and plating a thought out meal was present and kept me going throughout the long day. But more importantly, last night I was completely in my element. The main reason I got into cooking and catering is because of how passionate I am about dining. And if you have read my posts before, you know I don’t simply mean the food we eat. Dining is about much more. It is about friends and family and about stories and memories. It was a pleasure to cook for a select six that obviously share that same sentiment…

Amuse-bouche:

Pork and Shitake Mushroom Dumpling served with Mushroom Consomme Poured Table Side

First Course:

Shitake Mushroom and Asparagus Salad served with a Poached Egg, Herb Dressing and Crumbled Bacon

Second Course:

Asparagus Soup served with Crab Meat and Fresh Parsley

Main Course:

Lemon Sole Stuffed with Crab Meat served over wilted Mustard Greens with a Lemon and Saffron White Wine Reduction

Sorbet:

Lemon Sorbet served with Homemade Candied Lemon Peels

Dessert:

Banana Bread Pudding

The Banana Bread Pudding does not follow the progressive theme but it was too good to be left off the menu…

Pork and Shitake Mushroom DumplingPork and Shitake Mushroom Dumpling2


Asparagus Soup with CrabmeatAsparagus Soup with Crabmeat2

Sole Stuffed with Crabmeat over Wilted Mustard GreensSole Stuffed with Crabmeat over Wilted Mustard Greens2

Banana Bread PuddingBanana Bread Pudding2


Candied Lemon Peels

February 21, 2009

So I’m working on the prep for a six couse meal I’m serving for six out on Long Island and I had to take a minute to share something with everyone. There will be more pictures and discussion later on about this dinner but for the time being I wanted to share some pictures of the candied lemon peels I made. I had never made anything like this before but the results are truly amazing. Boiling the lemon peels three times has removed the majority of the bitterness and finishing the cooking in a simple syrup brought out just the right amount of sweetness. I can’t wait to use them tonight…check back to see how they are used…img_00211img_00251


I love to cook, and love to eat…

February 19, 2009

Sometimes I get the feeling, that because I not only love to cook, but also always jump at the offer of cooking for others, people are intimidated to cook for me. So many times, I’ve eaten the food of a friend only after they have given me some sort of schpeal on how it isn’t any good. Yet nine times out of ten its delicious. Not to mention, they are missing the point. Because I cook all the time and because I cater, I know what goes into making a meal. The thought process, the hard work, the care…these are the things that I love about cooking for others, and I appreciate those same qualities when I am cooked for…

Last night, I was at work late and had no real interest in cooking dinner. I figured I’d go home, tredge around the fridge and figure something out. I know it is easy to order just about every type of food possible in this city, but I’m stubborn. Yet, when I walked into the door, I saw something I’m not so used to seeing. There she was, my girlfriend, cooking ME dinner. It was an awesome surprise and I’ll tell you what, she may not love it like I do, but her chicken quesadilla was just about perfect…

Em’s Famous Chicken Quesadilla with Chunky Salsa and Sour Cream

Em's Chicken Quesadilla


The List…

February 18, 2009

foodcriticimage via Kitchencon.com

How many times have you walked past a restaurant and said “that looks nice, we should go there” and then fifteen seconds later you have forgotten the name and the location? Or what about when your having a conversation and someone else brings up this must have dining experience? Do you remember all the details or are you like me, and catalog the thought as just another general restaurant story?

I’ve now lived in New York City for about a year and a half and I really do love it. By now, its no secret that I love good food yet despite being surrounded by a million and one options (some great and some terribly disappointing), I’ve never really taken advantage of it completely. Now this isn’t without good reason. For me, cooking dinner is often more enjoyable than going out and quite frankly, the tax bracket I fall into doesn’t exactly leave the disposable income that’s needed to eat out on a regular basis. But as any good cook knows, you have to go out and try other people’s food.

As I mentioned before, it is so easy to get lost in the myriad of options that sometimes its necessary to organize your thoughts. So, some friends and I are putting together the list. A list of restaurants we plan to attend over the next few months. There is no real rhyme or reason to our list, but rather it is full of places that we’ve walked past and thought “hmm that looks good” and others we’ve heard about in conversation. After each restaurant I plan on sharing our experiences with you and letting you know what we thought….

But we want your help. We like our list so far but we could use a few more….let us know where we should go and why we should try it and check back soon for our progress.


I’ve never met a Scallop I didn’t like…

February 17, 2009

Well thats not completely true. In fact, theres nothing worse than a bad Scallop. If its overcooked, dried out, or of the Bay variety, I’ll pass. But when done well and cooked in the simplest of fashions, the Scallop is probably my favorite food. You know that annoying question, “if you could only eat one thing the rest of your life, what would it be?”….well my answer would be Scallops. Unfortunately there are two major issues with Scallop preparation (at least in my opinion). The first is a fairly simple problem that I mentioned just above. Scallops don’t need to be cooked much. In fact, they are delicious as ceviches. But so often in restaurants or even in the homes of others, I have been served overcooked scallops. The second major complaint is when people overwhelm the scallop with a bold sauce. The subtle flavor of the scallop is perfect on its own, and masking it is kind of a shame. The perfect scallop to me is one that has been sprinkled with salt and pepper and seared in a cast iron pan for 2-3 minutes per side. What your left with is the full package: great flavor, great texture, and an amazing appearance. Its the perfect canvas for a number of different subtle flavor compliments. This dish I made last night was my showcase of the Scallop. Pairing it with a multitude of flavors and textures proved to me once again, that if I could only eat one thing the rest of my life….

Trio of Scallops: Pan Seared Scallops served with Sauteed Dandelion Sprouts w/ Fresh Lemon Juice, Roasted Beets and Navel Orange Salad with Balsamic Drizzle, and Creamed Corn with Jalapenos and Prosciutto Chip

Trio of Scallops


Whats in your cupboard?

February 11, 2009

Many of the meals I make are inspired by whats available and what is fresh. I’ve blogged before about wandering through Whole Foods and creating a dish on the fly. But I know, sometimes, when we don’t have time for that, it’s easy to buy something prepared, canned or frozen. Yet with these purchases inevitably comes a fair amount of disappointment. This is one of the reasons I’ve challenged myself over the years to be inspired by the cupboard.  The other night, I walked home as I have done so many nights before rambling to myself about what I was going to make for dinner. I knew I had a whole chicken in the fridge as well as some leeks and carrots but with the exception of roasting the chicken or making chicken soup (two things I had done fairly recently), I had nothing. When I got home I scowered the fridge for a few more ingredients but nothing really jumped out at me. That is when I turned to my cupboard. I decided to break down the chicken into individual servings and go from there. I made a delicious braising liquid out of leeks, carrots, crushed tomatoes, red wine and a bit of honey (the last three ingredients are items I seem to always have). Braising the chicken is fairly foolproof. (The meat not only absorbs the flavors of what it is cooking in, but it also absorbs the moisture rarely resulting in a dry and overcooked meal.) But what was I going to serve with the chicken? I grabbed a few more ingredients from the shelves and pretty soon I had a full dish. Rather than being left disappointed, my expectations were exceeded…The point being, although convenience is certainly important to us, with a little creativity and some of the staples we almost all have, a cheap, delicious and healthful meal is always possible. Feel free to leave comments with some of the cupboard inspired dishes you’ve created…

Red Wine Braised Chicken over Farfalle with String Beans, Pine Nuts, and Olive Oil

Braised Chicken


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