Friday, July 31, 2009


    I am so honored to receive the Beautiful Blog Award from Coffee and Vanilla, which is itself a truly beautiful, well-written and often visited blog on my list.  According to the criteria the, "“Beautiful Blog” award is ... given to beautiful blogs, well designed blogs, blogs with amazing photographs, blogs that make you jealous when you visit them, blogs that inspire you, blogs that you wish were yours." How sweet! Now I will go ahead and pass this trophy onto a blog that I deem beautiful. How fun!
    Please check out the Coffee and Vanilla blog if it isn't already on your reader. Today she posted a sick 3 Minute Microwave Chocolate Cake. What?!?! I could SERIOUSLY go for one of those right now!


    There is really nothing like fresh tomato sauce. I bought $16 worth of fresh tomatoes from the Farmer's Market and made two types of sauce, a fresh tomato basil sauce and a meat sauce from grass fed chopped beef. 
    The key to great sauce is keep it simple and use a food mill. This handy contraption I scored from who else but Nonna. Its kind of a pain to clean, but it makes perfect sauce. 
    The simplest tomato sauce can be just tomatoes and basil. You can add some onion and garlic, but thats where it should end. A little sugar is nice to sweeten it a bit and some peperoncino can give it a kick.
    Here I just sauteed one onion and 2 cloves of garlic. Then I chopped the tomatoes and added them in with some salt and pepper. After letting them breakdown for a while on low heat to release all their juices, I ran them through the food mill. My mother believes that the food mill, by getting rid of the tomato skins, leaves the sauce sweet rather than bitter. I agree. The food mill has a few different size gratings, for thin to thicker sauce. I went thin on this sauce, which kept it summery and light. After you pass the tomatoes through the mill, you continue to reduce the sauce, now adding some more salt and pepper to taste and maybe some sugar.
    When the sauce is finished, add fresh basil on top, which steams its flavor into the sauce. Basil does not need to be cooked along with the sauce.
    To make the meat sauce, I browned the chopped meat in some lard with some fresh thyme. Then I added it to the passed sauce and cooked it on low heat for about a half an hour to get that meat flavor into the sauce. It was a really light and lean meat sauce, but again great for a summer pasta. At the end I added the basil. Everyone really seemed to enjoy it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


     It doesn't happen often, but every once in a while I will NEED chocolate. There must be something lacking nutritionally that chocolate is providing. Hook me up to the IV. Its probably something I am lacking mentally actually! Usually an extremely dark piece of chocolate will cut it but sometimes I get an itch for perfect chocolate cake. When the chocolate cake urge comes get out of my way or bring me a piece of cake! And don't ask me what I want, just read my mind and bring it to me right away. 
    This can lead to a lot of disappointment: unchocolate flavor, cottonball dry cake, eh filling, whatever icing, the list goes on and on. But sometimes, all the planets line up and I am presented with absolutely perfect chocolate cake. This rare event occurred the other night.
    The cake was rushed to me via scooter from Black Hound Bakery. I never heard of this place before and sort of wish I get amnesia because it is a dangerous place to know about.
I didn't even take it out the box before I started destroying it. The first was a black and white cake that had a signature crisscross pattern on the top, but it flipped over in the scooter. It didn't matter, it was so luscious. The chocolate cake was the perfect denseness and moistness and had an unbelievable chocolate flavor. The filling was really creamy and the temperature was slightly cooler than the cake. I love that little temperature nuance that sometimes happens. It makes my mouth go wild. 
    The second cake, (can you believe it? Two cakes!) was a chocolate raspberry cake. Normally I despise any type of cherry filling because I feel it distracts from the chocolate, but raspberry and chocolate is another story. This was unbelievable, perfectly tart and sweet. Not too much of anything and the dark chocolate icing was superb. 
     I never had such a strong desire for something so specific and then have it just appear, right there. What was sad, after I decimated both cakes, I was searching for them in the fridge the next day, as if I could somehow violate the laws of space and time and magically another chocolate cake would appear just for me.   

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


      If I were to pick one vegetable that I identify most with (this should be a facebook quiz) it would be beets because like me they can make a big mess. When I am preparing beets I just let go and accept the inevitable red splatters all over my clothes and don't worry about my blood stained hands. Its so worth it. Aside from being so good for you, beets are such a deeply rich and satisfying vegetable. 
      Maura the mixologist and I are planning on having a cocktail/dance party dedicated to beets. She will serve a signature beet cocktail while I prepare fun beet dishes. And dancing! The party will be called, "Can you feel the beet?" after the infamous guido freestyle number. If I had it my way it would be a freestyle-only dance party but then it would be me in Queens dancing by myself. Stay tuned for the invite.
      These mini beet tarts are one of the experimental beet dishes I am trying out for the party. I am very pleased. I roasted beets in olive oil salt and pepper, then peeled and chopped them into small pieces. In the mean time, I sauteed red onions with some thyme. I am loving thyme and beets lately. Then I took regular pie crust and rolled it into little circles and fit them into cupcake tins. In a bowl I mixed the beets with the red onions, some cream, a few beaten eggs and some grated cheese. I poured this filling into the tins and topped each one with some fresh goat cheese, then baked it for about 30 min at 350 degrees. They were really flavorful. I think next time I will sautee the red onions in balsamic vinegar, so the sweetness of the beets can be matched with a nice sourness. And I will make my own tart crust, but first I need to score a rolling pin.
      I hope you all can make it to the beet party, whenever we plan it!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Concussion and Dislocated Shoulder, a Typical Day in Coney Island

     Coney Island is by far my favorite place in the entire world. A lot of people think weirdos and degenerates when they think of Coney Island, but take a minute to talk to some of these characters and you might change your mind. Amazing lighting and some of the most New York faces in New York is a feast for my camera. Some of the best photographs I have ever taken were taken here. And then there are the hot dogs and of course the scariest roller coaster hands down, the infamous Cyclone. Fun for the whole family! Riding the cyclone and enduring the week long agony afterward has become an annual birthday tradition. 
     When we arrived, it was as if every New Yorker decided to join us. Parking was dire. We almost gave up, but I spotted a middle aged sun bather with keys in her hand and I jumped out of the car and asked whether she'd be leaving a spot. What came out of her mouth was the most cherished Brooklyn accent I have heard in years. (I spend too much time in Williamsburg!) So I escorted this lovely tanned woman to her car, thinking after she pulled out I would stand in the spot and fend off other parkers. This was a parking war, afterall. 
    "No, I'll wait with ya," she told me, "I'm not goin' anywhere." Even better, more time to enjoy that accent. But when we got to her car a giant tour bus driven by a hasidic driver was turning the corner and nearly hit her car. We ran over screaming. I would protect this lady's car if it was the last thing I did! 
    "Your gonna hit my car!" she said.  He really had no spatial reasoning and yelled at us that he fit, continuing to move closer to denting her pristinely white automobile. So we looked at each other and started banging on the side of the bus. I think maybe a little Queens accent popped out of me, "Ya gonna hit it!" A few other locals got involved, he finally gave up, then I helped guide the giant bus in reverse, giving my lady room to pull out of her spot. "Go," I told her.
    She looked back concerned and not wanting to leave, "You sure?" I think she would have gladly blocked traffic until Mike came, but just in the nick of time he arrived and we got the sweetest parking spot in Coney Island. Such a New York moment.
    So it was Cyclone time and we brought a few Cyclone virgins, who I enticed to come with, "$6 for the ride of your life!" And its always fun to scare newbies and warn of the inevitable whiplash. But Phil took it to a whole other level by searching for how many people died on the Cyclone. I didn't want to find out! 
   When we got there it was $8, but still so worth it. If you haven't gone for a ride on the Cyclone, go at least once before you die, and if it kills you what a great way to go out. The reason why its the scariest roller coaster ever is because you feel like you might go flying out of it. These new roller coasters have you all strapped in. Not the cyclone, one measly lap bar then over that first drop and its questionable whether you won't go flying into the ocean. And its so fast and throws you around like a pin ball. If you can survive the initial drop, which is the craziest feeling ever because, you just have to let go because you feel so out of control. 
    Mike and I did a second ride, in the first row, and the first drop left him with a chipped bone in his elbow and I swear I felt my brain hitting my skull. When we stopped I heard some serious crying and turned around to find the little boy behind us, who was not really tall enough to be on there, with a clearly dislocated shoulder! Mike's elbow got zero sympathy after we saw that teary eyed boy. This roller coaster is NO JOKE!
    After coming to our senses (?) we thought the freak show would be fun but got scammed by the wrong $3 freak show which promised two headed everythings and when we went inside they were in formaldehyde jars! So we drowned our sorrows with a bucket of coronas then headed over to L&B for a really good slice of New York pizza.
    L&B has been there forever, and there are simples rules. You get either a round slice or a square slice, regular or "Sicilian," respectively. The sauce, the cheese, the crust, its all so delicious. If you are ever in Coney Island and you have a car you must pit stop to L&B. Take Stillwell Ave, which is the street under the train, to 86th then make a right. The seating is all outdoor with Brooklyn locals, and after your slice you can enjoy some a cool Italian Ice. 

Monday, July 27, 2009


     Rocco has some beef with me. This after he posted my blogroll on his blog and is furiously insisting I do the same for him on Morta Di Fame. After I explain that photo technology information is not relevant for my readers, he retorts that food writing is not relevant for his readers. But, I didn't ask him to blog roll Morta Di Fame!
     Because of this Rocco is very bitter and our professional blogging relationship is approaching a legal battlefield. He has written me the following legal document, asking me to remove all of his images from Morta Di Fame. 
     If this crazy Sicilian thinks that I am going to stop exploiting him he has another thing coming. He has a Sicily trip coming up and I think after he overloads on sun and cornetti he will come back to the US, a free country where using your father's image without permission for selfish purposes is encouraged, and be singing a different tune. The war is on, Mr. G, and I am going to win this one...

TO:  Morta di Fame
FROM:  Rocco
SUBJECT: Dissolution of professional  BLOG relationship.

    After giving due consideration to our blog relationship, whereas it is my considered opinion based on obvious facts that I have been severely slandered, and whereas my image has been used without my written or oral permission, and whereas I have been seriously slandered to the point that I have become an embarrassment to my friends and especially to my wife, and whereas I have
lost credibility in front of my clients that has resulted in loss of income, I have decided that the best way to proceed is to dissolve and sever all blog  relationships. Under advise of counsel I have decided that to proceed  at this time with a tort would be a time consuming and costly way to end  this unproductive and damaging, to me, virtual relationship. I hope that you will be understanding enough to appreciate my angst and would kindly remove all my images from your blog, and from all merchandise that is being unethically distributed. Any links to the respective blogs must also be severed at once.
    It is with great sadness that this blog relationship had to end this way. I entered this relationship in good faith but have suffered from a predatory abuse of my good name and image. 
However, if this sensible solution to this problem is not heeded, I will then begin tort procedures in Federal Court as this is an interstate matter under the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution. I will also add a civil rights complaint that as a Sicilian,  included in the US Census ethnic categories as a person of color,  I qualify as an injured party on racial discrimination and civil rights violation grounds.
   Again, I hope that an amiable conclusion can be reached.

Rocco G. Galatioto "


    You might not remember but we had some beautiful weather this past weekend. Perfect for beaching. And Rockaway Beach is like 20 min from my house. So the Shakeout, Art Music and Taco Festival was a no-brainer, a quick shave and I'm on my way! 
    Rockaway, especially Far Rockaway gets a lot of guff. As teenagers we used to take the Q54 all the way down Cross Bay to Beach 116. Young girls in bathing suits equals sexual harassment on the most primal level. So when we were old enough to drive we headed all the way out to Atlantic or Jones Beach on Long Island for some peaceful sunbathing. But I have been back in recent years and its an absolutely gorgeous beach. 
    Let's face, it the Rockaways can be rough, anyone visiting can see that, lots of condemned houses and people you don't really want to mess with. But the area is experiencing an artist/surfer/hipster revival and justly so because its some of the most should-be treasured coastline in NY.  
     In one wide angle shot I could have taken the most telling snapshot of "gentrification." The low setting sun warmly lit one side of the street where a hipster taco stand and tanner than usual Williamsburgers stood around eating fish tacos, while on the shaded side of the street locals were grilling in the front driveway of their run down apartment buildings and barefoot beach kids played ball. But I am a paranoid New Yorker and I didn't bring my camera to Rockaway; I couldn't leave it unattended on the beach while I went swimming! Crappy iphone pics disclaimer to follow.
    Yes, I said fish tacos, from Rockaway Taco and they were really delicious. Perfect. The fish was fried exquisitely, nice and warm on a really tasty soft taco. The mayo was more mayo flavored than I would have liked. I wanted it to be a little spicier. They were topped with perfect fresh guacamole and some crispy radishes. There was also a tofu and chorizo tacos, plus tamales and grilled corn. 
    As a side I had really simple and delicious cucumbers with lime and hot chili peppers. To drink: hibiscus tea. Such a perfect snack after a relaxing day at the beach. 
    More on the actual beach. When I head to Rockaway these days, I have a secret blissful spot that I go to. Sorry if I told you, you know what I'd have to do to you. So when I went to Beach 96 I was taken aback by how short the beach was. I'd never seen anything like it. The distance between the boardwalk and the water is no more than 30 feet! This was not a big deal for the New Englander I spoke to, who was accustomed to such a thing, but as a child I inherited the nightmare of tidal waves from my mother, and it was at this very short beach where these recurrent dreams took place. I was visiting my dreams in real life. Frightening.   

Sunday, July 26, 2009


    A dinner with Pate is always a hilarious "do not repeat what I tell you" affair, so when he was guest of honor, along with Michael, Erik and Carrie, I had to keep things fresh and spicy. Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers and a bottle of champaign to start and we were laughing all night long. 
    If I ever buy a jalapeno pepper, I just buy one and I'm lucky if I ever use it. So I was at a loss when I got six from the CSA. Sadly, all I could think of were jalapeno poppers. I liked the idea of making spicy little appetizers, especially since Pate loves spice, but I wanted to stay away from the deep frying. So I figured I'd do what I do best, stuff 'em. Normally I would stuff a bell pepper with rice, meat, eggs, tomato sauce and peas. I didn't have any of those things, and I wouldn't have really been able to fit all that into a jalapeno. So I stuffed the jalapeno how I stuff a mushroom, bread crumbs, basil (I normally use parsley), grated cheese and garlic. (I actually forgot the garlic, a true sin.) The Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers were perfect appetizers, cheesy with a nice kick, and you could pop 'em in one bite. 
   To balance out the spice and just because its delicious I also served Spiced Candied Pecans. I got this recipe from Padma Lakshmi's Tangy, Tart, Hot and Sweet. Try these and they will become so go-to. They are so easy and addictive. Its just 1 C. whole pecans, 1/4 C. Maple Syrup, and 1/4 tsp. chili powder. She bakes them, but I cook them on the stovetop in a non-stick skillet on low heat and stir them constantly until the syrup dries up. There are a lot of other really amazing recipes in her book. 
    The last appetizer was Fresh Sliced Avocados, drizzled with olive oil, lime juice, salt, pepper and sprinkled with paprika.
    For dinner I served Pasta with Fresh Basil Pesto. My stinking chopper died, so I had to make my pesto by hand with a mortar and pestle. I literally broke a sweat but it was worth it. It came out better than any pesto I ever made in the chopper or blender and the reason is that by grinding everything you better release the natural oils and flavors from the basil, garlic and pine nuts. I also liked how the pesto leaves were still somewhat in tact making a nice texture for the pasta. Pesto means paste in Italian and this paste, originating in Genoa, is traditionally accomplished this way rather than in a food processor, so I am happy the piece of junk broke. And if you are vegan, leave out the cheese and the pesto is just as delicious.
   As side dishes I served a Fennel Salad with Oranges and Pine Nuts, and a Bitter Purple Lettuce Salad with Cucumbers and Peppers. Both were dressed with olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper.
   For dessert I was tempted to make another peach cobbler but we opted to enjoy the Fresh Juicy Peaches in their natural form. They were so sweet and refreshing. I could make you laugh with a few Pate stories, but I promised not to tell...

Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers
6 jalapenos
1/4 C. bread crumbs
1/4 C. grated cheese
1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 egg
1/4 C. milk
1 TBSP chopped basil or parsley
1 TBSP olive oil
salt and pepper

Cut the jalapenos in half and scoop out the flesh and seeds. Set the seeds aside. Boil the jalapenos in salted water for no more than 3-5 min. Meanwhile, mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl along with the seeds, olive oil and salt and pepper. Adjust the dry and wet ingredients so you have a thick wet mixture thats not watery. Pour a little extra olive oil and salt and pepper in the bottom of each pepper half. Stuff each pepper with the mixture and sprinkle the top with grated cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.

Fresh Basil Pesto
Bunch of Basil
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/4 C. toasted pine nuts
1/4 C. pecorino romano or parmesan cheese (optional)
olive oil
sea salt and pepper 

These measurements are approximations. You must try the pesto as you go and adjust the ingredients accordingly. In a marble mortar, grind the basil leave with sea salt and garlic until creamy. Add the pine nuts and grind into a fine paste. Add the olive oil and cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over hot pasta.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


   Its that time of year again, the Mt. Carmel Feast in Williamsburg, a family tradition of eating zeppoles and catching goldfish to put into my father's fish tank. His heart has been broken many times from sickly carnival fish, but a few have had really long runs, like over 5 years and have grown into huge elaborately tailed coy. I was feeling lucky.
    But before we would eat carnival food, we would have to eat dinner. Rocco was starving, so my brother Mike, Rocco and myself went to Don Ferdinando's in Red Hook. Its now called Ferdindando's but the "Don" sounds so regal. I have been dying to go there for years for some of the only panelle to be found in the city. 
    We got the Don's spot right in front, and Francesco, whom Rocco called Don Cece (pronounced cheech) cordially greeted us at the door. When I gave him a Morta Di Fame business card he said, "Why did you pick this name? This is a very bad word." Did I offend Don Cece? With shrugged shoulders I said, "Its funny?" and he looked at me and laughed to my relief, then proudly showed me all the photos he had taken with celebrity patrons.  
    The interior of Don Ferdinando's defines the words "old world charm." Its been in that very spot serving up Sicilian favorites since 1904. 
    I wanted one thing and one thing only: the panelle. It was perfect, great chic pea flavor, perfectly greasy, as panelle should be, and on the thin and crisp side. I was really loving it.
    Rocco insisted we order another round but the waitress clearly ignored him on his multiple attempts of screaming across the entire restaurant to her. I don't know if I blame her but she didn't have to make Mike and me suffer by withholding delicious bread and grated cheese from us. Good thing the other waitress was such a peach and took care of us. And Don Cece came over to graciously check on how we were enjoying ourselves. 
     The food was great and Rocco was being crazily entertaining; it was a wonderful night. You all know how Rocco is prolific on Facebook or what he mistakenly called, "Myface" the other day, and bullies everyone to comment on his blog. Well tonight he was harassing me to send him text messages during dinner. Rocco does not need to be texting unless we want to take the insanity to a whole other level. I texted him, "Hi, Lunatic," and me and my brother really got a kick out of him putting on his $0.99 Duane Reade reading glasses to read it.
     I didn't end up with another plate of panelle after I spied the arancini on the menu. I can't say it was bad, but it was really disappointing compared to the insanely amazing rice balls my mother and I made directly from Nonna's arancini recipe. It was unshapely and not very flavorful. The fact that it was a mass of rice stuffed with meat then fried made it palatable, but there was no rice ball transcendence.
    Rocco got the Pasta Con Sarde, which is Spaghetti with Sardines and topped with bread crumbs. It was very good, again, nothing compared to Nonna's but then again, what is? 
    And my brother Mike got Rigatoni with Bolognese sauce, which was something else as far as meat sauces go. Nice meat flavor, good spices and perfectly al dente pasta. I would go back just for that, and of course twelve servings of the panelle.
   From the looks of the espresso machine, called the "Mac," I had to try one. Rocco scoffed, "its too watery here," he warned, but Rocco likes his espresso like mud. I agree it was a little long, but it did have a nice crema and a good flavor and its the reason why I am writing this post at 2am. 
    I had sought out panelle and good panelle I certainly did find and I will be back I am sure in less than a week's time for more panelle, which I can say is on my top ten favorite foods list. 
    As we left it began to rain, so we didn't make it to the feast. Hopefully we will be get there soon to fulfill our annual zeppole craving.

Friday, July 24, 2009


     I bought one tiny basket of red currants from the Farmer's Market when we had our second farm breakfast, thinking the six of us could get through those littly "poison berries" as Stephanie so suspiciously called them as she waited for a guinea pig not to die before she tried one. So no one died, but we still didn't finish them. No problem, give me a few days with them, but still, I only ate a few here and a few there. These little suckers are super pretty, but a little tart. I can't eat them voraciously as I can say cherries or blueberries. 
    So what to do. Waste no want not. I searched the interweb and came upon a lot of jams and sauces for meats with currants, and lot of recipes that called for pounds and pounds of currants. Then I found an orange currant cake. Getting somewhere. But I had just made a peach cobbler the day before and its just ridiculous to make so much dessert. Then I found in a comment on this horticulture blog a recipe for red currant muffins from Anne P, who has this knitting/spinning/chickening/mothering/chocolate blog. I was planning on straight using the recipe then just adding some orange zest because that sounded nice, but the batter was cookie dough dry (a metric to US measurement conversion might have cause this), so I had to moisten it a bit and I ended up entirely morphing the recipe.
     So I would aptly call this a recipe inspired by Ann P from that long blog above. Thanks Anne!

Red-Orange Currant Muffins
1 1/2 C. flour
1/2 C. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 C. milk
1/4 C. orange juice
zest of 1 orange
1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
1 C. red currants

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in one bowl. In another bowl cream the sugar with the eggs, then add the milk, the oil, the orange juice and the orange zest. Gently fold in the red currants. Bake in greased muffin tins for about 18-22 min in a preheated 350 degree oven. 

Thursday, July 23, 2009


    The swiss chard I got as an infant plant from Rooftop Farms was really ready to go. The last chard recipe I made was simply sauteed with a runny egg on top. The chard itself is not how I remember eating chard, so I referred to Rocco, who is the only person who ever prepared chard for me, and I cooked it the way he does. It came out just as I wanted it to. 
    While I was rinsing the chard, I get a call from Nonna, who has her own cell phone by the way.
    "Jane (my name is Jen) I gotta the panelle, you want it?" 
    Faster than you can say mala figura I was at Nonna's house, ringing the door bell. And as usual she was buzzing me in, but the outer door was locked, so I couldn't get in. No problem. "Nonna!" I screamed up to her apartment. After a few moments, Nonna comes out onto her balcony. No true Sicilian doesn't have a balcony. I think they just shrivel up and die without one. 
    "Jane, you don't gotta the keys?" If I had the keys I would have already been up eating panelle, "Okay, Jane I come down." After a few falls and trips to the hospital, Nonna should not under any circumstances be climbing down the stairs, so I tell her to just throw the panelle down. Usually she then will go into the house and get a little rope and tie whatever it is it and reel it down, which is what I thought was taking so long. Before I know it she's at the front door and walks out carrying her cane, like its an accessory.
    "Jane, why you no gotta the key?" I haven't lived there in like 5 years.
    "Nonna, you shouldn't be walking down the stairs by yourself!"
    "Jane, I can walka downa the stair bya myself. I go out alla the time bya myself." She's a live one. I tried to calmly take the panelle from her, but it was more like ripping it out of her hands and shoving it into my mouth, while thinking, just one, you need to photograph this. It was so perfect, and Rocco was right, good panelle is a little greasy, which I have to admit my panelle was lacking. It had the right flavor but not enough grease seeped into it and all over my hands and the upholstery of the Jeep like this one. There are sometimes casualties involved in good panelle. Its a fact of life. 
    "Nonna, who made this?" 
    "Jane, you like? I getta the recipe. My friend-eh make-eh." The hunt to find this person is on. When I trap her, I will let you know. 
    I suspected it had eggs in it, but when I mentioned this to Rocco, after teasing me that I didn't leave him any, he literally had a fit that I even mention eggs in panelle. That would be a real mala figura according to him.     
Rocco's Swiss Chard
1-2 cloves of garlic sliced
extra virgin olive oil
1 fresh tomato, chopped
bunch of swiss chard, whole or chopped (give swiss chard a good soak, its gritty)
salt and pepper

Sautee the garlic and peroncino in extra virgin olive oil. Add the tomato and cook down a bit. Salt and Pepper. Add the swiss chard and sautee a few minutes. Salt and pepper. Cover and steam until soft.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


     What's in a name? Mo and Yelena, the Billahs, our lovely friends who are expecting a miniature Billah soon invited us over for dinner and the discussion focused on what to name their little tot. I was seriously looking up traditional Indian names and a favorite I found was Luv, which was Lord Rama's twin son. But while feasting on some ribeye, the boys came up with a few names of their own.
     The steak was so succulent and after my raw hamburger in Vermont I am totally into super rare mooing meat. 
    I think that this caused a rift because Mo had to create a gradient platter of meat, from raw to well done and he didn't seem to char it to Yelena's liking. Sorry Yelena! There were also wonderful sides of roasted garlic mashed potatoes and deliciously crisp asparagus in a parmesan lime garlic sauce.
     Back to the baby names. Here are a few contenders: Electric Billah, Buffalo Billah, Adora Billah (but its a boy so that wouldn't work), Incredi Billah and the winner, Dollah Billah. So if the child gets a regular name, he has a great options in case he wants to become a rap super star!
     For dessert, the most delicious Mixed Berry Pie, and what Mo termed shlog. WTF is shlog?
According to Mo, shlog is German for whipped cream, but stiffer and he used specialized shlogging equipment. When I later did some research, this is what I found on Urban Dictionary, "shlog (v.) the act of defecating into a sock, dipping it in water, and using it to beat someone, preferably in the face." Shlog doesn't sound so appetizing. Was Mo duped by some of his college buddies into believing that shlog is whipped cream?
     After further research I was relieved to find this Double Tongued definition for shlog, " 'schlag' is German, roughly translated as 'hit,' 'beat' or 'strike'; and the actual German word for whipped cream is ... 'schlagsahne'." Whew! Kind of like the the sound you make if you have a mouth full of whipped cream or the sound the aerosol Redi Whip can makes when you fill your mouth with shlog. "Shlaaaaahg." Eh, what's in a name anyway? Call it shlog, call it whipped cream or call it sweet goodness in my mouth! 

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


A bittersweet day. Una Pizza is closing and Motorino is moving in. My tummy is in mourning. But this does not mean that the most delicious pizza in the world is no more. The knowledge and muscle memory will remain in Anthony's brain and sacred hands until he one day opens again, maybe out west, when we can once more enjoy the product of his genius. Best of luck to Anthony!


     PEACHES! They are really my favorite fruit. A really good fresh peach encapsulates the flavor of summer like nothing else can. Since I became a local food nazi, I began to mourn peaches because they certainly aren't local. Georgia isn't that far but most of the peaches I see in the stores are from the Military Industrial Food Complex out in California. Or are they? At the LIC Farmer's Market, I found some fresh Jersey peaches, and they were really amazing. So Jersey is good for something then! I bought so many like a crazy peach hoarder so I could make a peach cobbler plus more to savor fresh. And the day after I made this peach cobbler, I picked up fruit from the CSA and what do you know, a gigantic bag of peaches! I was in peach heaven this week. I literally have eaten through the entire bag of peaches already, with the help of a few friends. Afterall, I have become a peach pusher after meeting Kumar, the amazing fruit stand man. 
    For a peach cobbler I had to go Southern. So I found this recipe for Southern Peach Cobbler on All Recipes. I really sifted through a lot of recipes, looking for the simplest one, with not too many ingredients. This one was great, peaches sugar and cinnamon, plus very little steps. No fuss.
    This was such an easy recipe, and it came out really fantastic. The peaches were not so sweet that you couldn't enjoy their flavor and the cinnamon didn't take over, although I did add about 1 tsp of cinnamon instead of the 1/4 tsp the recipe calls for. I over-love cinnamon, too. The peach sauce was a good consistency, neither too watery, nor to gooey, but enough that everything held together nicely. The instructions say to slice the peaches thin, but in the comments someone mentioned they tried thicker slices so I went this route and I am happy I did because I like a nice thick peach bite. The crust was really good, crisp on top, and nice and chewy beneath, with a nice cinnamon flavor and just buttery enough. Again, no ice cream or whipped cream, but this cobbler came out so good I didn't miss them at all.  
   I saw that the Neeley's add a little almond extract to their cobbler, that might be a nice touch next time. Some call for lemon juice, which might have nicely balanced out the sweetness a bit. If anyone has any stellar peach recipes or good tips, please send them over to me. 

Monday, July 20, 2009


    So thanks to Facebook many of you know that today is my birthday! Mike is making me a special simple meat sauce tonight. What a sweetie! So it was funny when I checked out this great blog called Food Mayhem and Lon had just posted this SI-SI-SICK ragu with awesome photos to match.Check out the recipe for Lon's Ragu. 
    Its such a Morta Di Fame post and such a great blog that I had to spread the word. One thing she mentioned is the sauce vs. gravy debate! I have been raised only to call it sauce while gravy is that thick delicious brown stuff for mashed potatoes. What do you think?


    Whenever I think of bone marrow the memory of a 3rd grade public school lunch tray filled with bitten down fried chicken bones and Andrew Chow cracking them open and sucking out the bone marrow comes to mind. Not a glorious image but after describing it to Yvonne, a fellow guest at a Choice Cuts "eat, drink and watch a movie" event, she raised an eyebrow and said, "he was a foodie even at such a young age." Thats one way of looking at it. I wonder what Andrew Chow is doing now.
   Choice Cuts is a monthly dinner and a movie event held in a sprawling Ft. Greene 4th floor walk up, the same location where the Hapa Kitchen Duck Dinner was hosted. Panting after climbing the four flights, I quenched my thirst with a complimentary Pimm's Cup cocktail and enjoyed a really simple appetizer of nice crisp cheddar with cucumber and radishes on a good slice of bread. I liked that one a lot.
   The bone marrow came out sooner than I was mentally prepared for, being a marrow virgin and all. Good thing there were some experts there to walk me through it. I thought it was going to be pre-scooped and maybe smeared on something, but we had to do the scooping. I think Winnie, host and chef, gave me the biggest piece, and I have to admit I was very intimidated. 
    Since Yvonne was so enthusiastic about the bone marrow, I took my photo and we swapped. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. The mild flavor was not in any way offensive, and the texture, as described by other guests, was like "beef butter." We spread it on the white toast and salted it and it was very tasty and the perfect amount for a first timer.  It was served with such a delicious parsley salad. I really like eating herbs in full glory salad form. Put a vat of cilantro or basil in front of me and I am good to go.
   The next dish was literally a hunk of meat, a perfectly cooked roast beef, served with yorkshire pudding, a watercress salad and a cucumber salad. The beef was so delicious and juicy, although not easy to cut with our butter knives, and both salads were so wonderfully refreshing.
    This was my first time trying the yorkshire pudding, which was really good, like a little fatty muffin, and I was told its made from the pan drippings of the roast beef. Winnie was all apologies about it, saying it was underdone, which was not the case at all, and I told her the amazing Julia Child line which is don't apologize about anything you cook no matter what! I never had Yorkshire pudding so serve me anything and I don't know any better. So I just ignored her apologies, not wanting anything to taint how much enjoyment I was getting from the meal. Here's my spin-off, "Don't put a bad taste in my mouth, when I have a good one going on in there!" Winnie everything was amazing! 
    After dinner it was movie time. The tables were moved, big comfy couches took their place and the movie, "Withnail and I" was projected on the wall. The one character Withnail was super funny and insane, two qualities I adore in people. But this is a food blog so I will leave the movie review out of it.
   After the movie everyone was a little groggy and awkwardly stood around the kitchen not knowing what to do with themselves. There was sticky toffee pudding on the menu, which I love, and since I know no awkward situation, I gladly waited for it. I guess to hold us over we were served first a sticky toffee cake, which was so good and rich, so while I really liked that I was a little confused when I got another dessert dish of "the real" sticky toffee pudding and I wish I wasn't so full from the first "not real" dessert to fully enjoy its exquisiteness. But I can always make room and the proper sticky toffee pudding was fantastic.