Saturday, February 27, 2010


I am taking a staycation next week! Why? A few reasons: 1. I need a break 2. All the places I want to travel to are too cold right now 3. I love New York 4. I have hermit tendencies and the idea of being home is very pleasing to me 5. need to save.
I was going to take the week to diligently work on my portfolio and take care of other things I never seem to have the time to work on, like archiving my photos, updating my website, etc, etc. But frankly just writing that sounds super BORING!
Instead I am going to pretend I am on a vacation in New York City.
I need some help coming up with ideas. If you are going to tell me to go to the Statue of Liberty or Time Square - boring! I want to experience New York, the way I want to experience Paris, like a Parisienne walking through the market with a scarf around my neck, eating a baguette. No touristy crap.
Give me some ideas!!!

Friday, February 26, 2010

mayo the impossible!

      Don't tell me I can't do something! That is the perfect fuel that drives me to do whatever is deemed impossible. When I made my Vietnamese Cauliflower Sandwich Salad, I tried to make my own Roasted Garlic Chipotle Mayo. That was a deee - saster! I really didn't follow the directions. And while I dreamed of using my food processor, the blade was just too high to cream the egg.
"Its impossible! You cannot make homemade mayonnaise!" These words seared my ego. "Yes - I - Can!"
        It was even suggested that there is some type of mayo conspiracy that the egg companies are responsible for that causes relentless dumb dumbs like me to throw away good egg after egg in pursuit of mayo that will never happen.
         I can't believe it. We live in a time of hope! This time I followed a recipe that called for using a hand mixer. I can do that. I didn't really follow the recipe at all. I took a look at the basic ingredients that all mayos seem to call for then kind of just threw everything together. The key though is to slowly drizzle the oil into the egg against the side of the bowl so it gradually gets incorporated. Combined with some patience and steel brained pride and you can have delicious mayonnaise, too!
I used it to make Curried Deviled Eggs!!!

Mayo the Impossible!
2 egg yokes
1 egg white
1/2 tsp dried mustard
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cayenne
3-4 tsp lemon juice or vinegar
1-2 tsp hot water
1 C. canola oil

With a hand mixer beat the egg yoke until creamy with salt, pepper, mustard, sugar and cayenne. Adding the lemon juice and hot water each tsp at a time. Taste as you go. Add the egg yoke here and beat a little more. Slowly add the oil, drizzling the oil against the side of the bowl. You are done when it looks like mayo, white and fluffy.

Curried Deviled Eggs
2-3 Boiled Eggs, Peeled, Halved and Yokes removed
Dried Mustard
Curry Powder
Dash of Vinegar

These are the basic ingredients. You need to taste as you go. Start with the egg yokes. Mix with some mayo until you get a creamy consistency. Add spices 1/8 tsp at a time and just a dash of vinegar. Keep tasting and adjusting until you get the right flavor. Fill the egg halves with the egg yoke mayo mix and sprinkle with paprika.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

vietnamese roasted cauliflower sammy salad

       Cruciferous vegetables on sandwiches are heaven. And these types of vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale) are super duper foods and may actually help delay your getting into heaven because they lower your risk of cancer. 
      Growing up all I ate were broccoli rabe sandwiches. And recently I discovered my favorite sandwich: the Vietnamese Cauliflower Sandwich from Num Pang. Haven't had it yet. Try it! Mosey on down to 12th ad University. Its so worth it.
I tried to recreate this sandwich in salad form during our Beer Tasting Super Bowl Fiesta. It turned out great. 

      After a few tweaks and turns I wanted to give this amazing salad center stage, because its so special. I even brought the sandwich home from Num Pang to compare. The combination of ingredients are just spectacular together. Roasted Cauliflower, Cilantro, Carrots and Cucumber, smothered in onion relish and roasted garlic chipotle mayo! Perfection. On this particular episode, I attempted my own mayo. It was a sheer failure. But the next day I tried it again. (Stay tuned for my curried deviled eggs with homemade mayo.)
     Its still not as amazing as the Num Pang version, but when I can't get to the big city, its a great alternative. I have everything down but the onion relish they put on it, and I need to still work on the chipotle mayo. Its a work in progress; one that I enjoy more each time I make it!

Vietnamese Roasted Cauliflower Sandwich Salad
1 Cauliflower, cut into small florets 
2 carrots, julienned
1/2 cucumber, julienned
Roasted Garlic Chipotle Mayo (recipe to follow)
1 onion, chopped  
Balsamic vinegar 
A bunch of whole leaves of cilantro
Salt and pepper

Roast cauliflower with olive oil, salt and pepper at 450 degrees until tender. Set aside to cool.
Sautee onion in olive oil and 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar until caramelized. Set aside to cool. 
Once everything is cool, combine the cauliflower, carrots, cucumber, and caramelized onions in a bowl. Smother in roasted garlic chipotle mayo. Add plenty of whole cilantro leave. Serve on its own or on a sandwich. 

Roasted Garlic Chipotle Mayo
5-6 cloves of garlic or roasted in a 450 degree oven in their skins until they are mushy inside.
1 can chipotle peppers
1 C. mayo (Hellman's or homemade)
Cayenne Pepper

Combine all ingredients in a chopper or with a hand mixer. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

purple soup

     When you join a CSA you agree that you get what the farmer gives you. Type A's beware. Throw your shopping lists out the window. I didn't know how to work this purple cabbage from the winter so it share sat in my fridge for a few days weeks, and all I could think of was soup. Cabbage soup? Boring. Cabbage Fennel Soup with Ginger Anise and Black Mustard Seeds. Delicious! And the color! What a color! 

Purple Cabbage Fennel Soup with Ginger Anise and Fennel Seeds
1 Small Purple Cabbage, chopped
1 Fennel Bulb, chopped
1 Onion, chopped
1 inch grated ginger
1 tsp anise seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
Enough Water or vegetable broth to cover
Salt and Pepper

Heat olive oil in a pan. Add anise and black mustard seeds. When they pop add onions and ginger. Add cabbage and fennel. Sautee a few minutes then add water or enough vegetable broth to cover. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then simmer until cabbage and fennel are soft. Puree. Serve warm. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Its never too late to say thanks!

     Thats what Mommy (Marcy) always used to tell me when she forced me to write thank you cards for everything, birthdays, christmas, you name it. I have thank you paranoia because of her. When someone sends me a thank you card I wonder: should I thank them for thanking me? Its sick. And if I don't get a thank you in a timely manner, for say a wedding shower, I think to myself what kind of low-life isn't sending me a thank you? You made me sit and watch you open 500 gifts, the same 500 gifts every boring shower has and waste an entire Saturday afternoon, and no thank you!

     Well its been over a week and I have been wanting to thank you all for supporting Morta Di Fame by coming to the Greenpoint Food Market. It was loads of fun. I got to see so many people who I haven't seen in forever. That was super special.

    Joann, thanks for organizing the event. You have an incredible amount of energy and are loads of fun and you're from Queens, which makes you automatically awesome! And you're wiener dog is great, too. You're lucky my Mom didn't steal him; she was smitten.

    I need to thank Marcy in particular for making the eggplant caponata, which was the show stopper. It was sold out in like an hour. We know what to make next time.

    I would like to thank Markus for bringing me my favorite lunch, the Cauliflower Sammy, and enduring the long day, keeping the samples refreshed and the panelle sandwiches moving off the grill. Then for helping me eat everything that was leftover the entire following week. Put that trash compactor to work!

    And Rocco, thanks for being the real life cartoon of who you are. I am not exploiting you, just embracing your insanity.

    The other vendors: you are awesome, and I can't wait to see you again and try your samples!

   What Morta Di Fame featured: Mommy's Eggplant Caponata, Panelle Sammies & Almond Olive Oil Cupcakes.

Lessons learned: Anything I sell needs to be take-out.

    Everyone samples so much stuff all day they don't want to buy and eat an entire sandwich or a cupcake after eating so much sweets. Panelle is really a specialty item in a certain way. The people who knew what it was were all about it. The samples didn't do justice to what the sandwich is: an olive oil sopping, greasy fried chick pea sandwich all in your grill.

    What I bought: (or what didn't I buy) Every penny I earned I spent on goodies: Bacon Marmalade, Anarchy in a Jar, Mama O' Kimchee, Sigmund Pretzel Shop, Ricochilito: pickled chipotle peppers (made chipolte mayo with this), Sourpuss Pickles, The Soup Spoon, Bean and Apple.

    Shout out to our neighbor Molly and her man: your cookies and truffles were delicious.

   Overall, the day was a success. I wanted to promote the blog and rub elbows with local fellow food lovers, which I did. Next time, I think I am going to focus on just eggplant caponata and make the samples self serve, so I can spend more time chatting with everyone and getting yummy samples.

Check out the official recap on the Greepoint Food Market blog.

I blatantly stole all of these photos from the GFM Flickr Photo Stream.
(I did take photos (I did!) I just can't get them off my dumb camera right now.) Stay tuned for more. I have some funny ones. 
Come to the next one on April 10th!

Monday, February 22, 2010

underground lobster pound

      I remember my first lobster roll. Girl's road trip to Boston. We were in Gloucester, MA. I was making my girlfriends, who were more interested in sleeping in that morning, drive with me to Wolf Hollow, a wildlife sanctuary. The nuts that ran this place were talking pack mentality way before the Dog Whisperer. After an afternoon of learning the different types of howls, we were famished. Alia convinced me we "needed" to try lobster rolls while we were in Massachusetts. Ten years ago, we would have been hard pressed to find a lobster roll in New York. I was hooked.
      More and more, the lobster roll is debuting around town. We had great lobster rolls from Luke's Lobster while shopping at the New Amsterdam Market, and the Red Hook Lobster Pound sells them weekly at Brooklyn Flea.  
     So when we met Ben and Ms. Liza Mosquito de Guia (what a great name) at the Greenpoint Food Market and Liza, (who directed this awesome video about Ben) let on that Ben runs his own underground lobster roll slinging operation out of his apartment in Brooklyn, we "needed" to try his lobster rolls. Ben smiled, tried to hush us down, then gave me his card.
      When five of us ventured to Ben's place, we were led into what at first looked like my Nonna's hallway: cherubs, plastic flowers and peach wallpaper as far as they eye could see. But then he took us down stairs through a narrow hallway and I could have sworn I was in that lobster shack back in Glouster, MA, a lobster shack submarine to be exact. And the smell - like buttah!
       It was a challenge to be in Ben's place, not because of the low ceilings, I'm short, but because I had to use my small voice not to disturb the neighbors. But Julie was there, and when I am with Julie I am usually stomping my feet laughing like an animal. I did my best.
     Ben prepares his lobster rolls how they were intended to be enjoyed, very little mayo, butter and some Old Bay, so its just about the lobster meat. So good and so fresh.
    Aside from making the best lobster rolls, Ben is the nicest and most gracious dude, so easygoing with lots of hilarious food antics to share. He can't get over how the tiniest asian food blogger girls (are there any other kinds?) willingly go down into his lobster roll lair, no qualms about it. "This is so wrong!" he jokes, "You shouldn't be doing this!"
     Burnt out from the restaurant world, this is a great set-up for a guy who loves to work from home making his favorite dish. And hushy hushy aside, he has plenty of loyal customers. While we we there, he got a whole bunch of take-out orders. And he even delivers lobster rolls on his scooter, equipped with a bun warmer on the back. I'm sure we will ordering take-out very soon because I don't think he delivers to Queens.
Watch Liza's awesome video!

The Underground Lobster Pound: A Purist, An Apartment & The Perfect Lobster Roll -  *food curated* from SkeeterNYC on Vimeo.

Friday, February 19, 2010


     There is one clear path to my heart: its through my stomach. So for the official day of loving, my sweetheart prepared for me the most belly loving dinner. This boy knows what gets me hot: meat! Rack of Lamb in Morel Sauce. Really? Yes. Plus, Shiitakes, Whole Roasted Rosemary Potatoes and Lemon Asparagus. Plus he's super fine, so I really enjoyed watching him butchering or as he put it, "frenching" the lamb chops in my kitchen while I put the final touches on his Valentine's Day Card.
      You can take your woman out to eat and buy her flowers and chocolates. Thats nice, generic but nice. And what did you actually DO for her? Not much more than slap down some cash. What I adore about my Valentine is he is a man of action. Talk is cheap, preparing succulent locally farmed lamb for your lady is not.
       The meal was fantastic; restaurant quality in my dining room. I could not believe how exquisite the red wine morel sauce was, which he carefully drizzled over the lamb. It was all so amazing. Where did I find this guy? Oh yeah, did I tell you we met on a farm? And he gave me a bouquet of purple basil. Have I thoroughly embarrassed you yet, Markus?
       If not, here goes: The meal was perfection and the entire day was perfection. There was napping, homemade card making, and even a brisk walk in the park. It was the best Valentine's Day ever! I'm a lucky gal. Thank you, my love. 
     Yes, there was dessert, too. I made truffles for the first time. Matcha Chocolate Truffles with coconut milk and I spiked them with whiskey. 

Monday, February 15, 2010

"So what sport do they play in the Super Bowl?"

Answer: Football. My great friend Miguel, born in Chile to his defense, asked me this question. But really, with great beer and great food, who cares what sport is on TV, right?

Its been over a week since the Super Bowl, and all the little boys are having football withdrawal. Poor babies. Maybe this post will make you feel better since its about beer (AND FOOD) and you can all still drink plenty of that until fall.
(thanks for this photo Miguel!)

Markus hosted a Super Bowl fiesta at his house. To most people that means nachos, chili and beer. check. check. check. But we wanted to take it to a new level so we started with a pre-game Beer Tasting of "carefully selected" brews paired with exquisite cheese, then a menu of new takes on old faves.
The first obstacle of having any party in Queens is to convince all your friends from Brooklyn to come. The second is to maintain an even boy to girl ratio, especially when your best gal has this to say about the game: "Its represents everything I despise about american culture ... over eat, get too drunk, all in the name of dudes displaying their most neanderthal tendencies. Therefore reducing humanity to its lowest common denominator, providing the prime situation for corporations to brain wash us with their propaganda! And its the day of the year that has the highest instance of domestic violence. I try not to support even the idea of this spectacle, even if its just an excuse to hang out with friends. We don't need an excuse." I slapped that on the invite and I think all the Brooklynites were intrigued.

Third obstacle: what kind of beer and what kind of cheese?

We used this guide. And Markus is very beer knowledgeable, but when there is a sea of brew in front of you, you can get pretty lost.

So, after I was romanced by the cheese guy in Whole Foods, who took me to the "special cheese" (e.g. expensive) area, and convinced me with only a few tastes to buy ALOT of superb and outlandishly priced cheese, this is how I found Markus. And the parking meter was ticking. We did good in the end and didn't get a ticket.

Our collecting provisions adventure ended Saturday night at Mexico 2000, a hole in the wall Mexican super-market under the el train in Brooklyn to get authentic corn tortillas and these awesome canned jalapenos. One of the reviews on yelp says, "I want to bang all the ladies who work at Mexico 2000 for doing outstanding work replicating Mexican food in Williamsburg."

Thanks for the recommendation Gus! (Was that your review?)

Morning of party: project red neck. Markus and Miguel carried the seat from "the van" up two gigantic flights of stairs then plopped it in the living room in front of the pair of TV sets.
We went for quantity over quality with the TVs. The picture sucked. But we watched the pre-game show alongside A Clockwork Orange.What a nice cheese/beer presentation Mr. Host put out. He used some motorcycle part as the centerpiece.

And here goes for the pairings (left to right):

1. Comte, France - an unpasteurized cow's milk gruyere paired with with Meantime London Porter, England. And the crowd goes wild! This was the favorite.

2. Montenebro Goat Cheese, Spain - a hard fresh tangy goat cheese rolled in bitter ash paired with Weihenstephaner Dunkelweisse, Germany from Brouwerij Lane.

3. Brie, France - a double cream soft cow cheese paired with Abbe Triple Karmeliet, Belgium.

4. Sheep's Milk Bleu, New York paired with Arcadia Ale's Hopmouth Double IPA

Bonus fancy beer: Thomas Hardy's Ale & French Country Ale, St. Amand, France.

Beer tasting = Success! I kind of wonder whether all the cheese would have tasted great with all the beer, because its agreed that all cheese and most beer is pretty tasty, especially after a few tastes, but it doesn't matter because everyone seemed to enjoy the pairings, whether we knew what we were doing or not, at least it seemed that way.

Wait there was a game on, too. Eh, let's talk more about food. The main courses were as follows:
1. Free pizza from Paulie Gee's! He was testing his first batch of dough before he opens and were were the lucky recipients of trial run pizza. Conveniently the new pizza place is on the same block as Brouwerij Lane. A couple of growlers and some pizza; thats a party right there. Paulie Gee, outstanding pizza! Stay tuned for the opening, everyone!
(thanks for this photo Miguel!)

2. Miguel's Guacamole. Always the best. Avocado. Onions. Garlic. Lime. Cilantro. Tomatoes.
3. Indian Style Chili. I built on this Rajma Style Red Kidney Bean Chili recipe that called for spices like cumin, turmeric and ginger, by adding some carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, pomegranate powder, cilantro, cayenne and in the end, my gal Melissa brought it all together by adding some beer to the pot. Perfect!

4. Coconut Corn Bread. I found this recipe. And Melissa, the best baker I know, helped me with this one, too. (AKA, I ran around the partying drinking beer and chatting while she took over the kitchen and made the corn bread.) It was typical Jen/Melissa baking together. Me: messing everything up. Melissa: yelling at me, then saving the dish. Some more yelling. Some hugs. And "I Love You's" all around. We really need a "Crazy Italian Bitches" Cooking Show.

4. Markus' Special Half Time Nachos Tradicionales. He even has a story to go along with them. A Mexican restaurant owner was about to close when some hungry patrons came in and all he had were some corn tortillas, jalapenos and cheese. So Markus did what he did: quartered the tortillas and fried them into chips, melted sharp cheddar on top, and topped each with one jalapeno slice. Simple. Delicious. 100% better than the mess of crap we call nachos in this country.
(thanks for this photo Miguel!)

5. Vietnamese "Cauliflower Sandwich" Salad. This salad is an ode to my favorite Vietnamese Sandwich from Num Pang. Its like the sandwich only in salad form. Cauliflower roasted in olive, salt and pepper. Shredded Carrots and Cucumbers. Fresh Cilantro. Homemade (Vegan) Roasted Garlic Chipotle Mayo. Divinity in salad form.

6. Melissa Love's Chocolate Stout Cake. I died and went to heaven when I ate this cake. Then I was revived, ate more and basically over two days finished the entire cake by myself and am surprised I am not dead. It was just perfect. Moist, great rich flavor and the crumbly chocolate topping gave it a wonderful texture. And its just oh so pretty, too.

So we thought the party was going to be Markus, Miguel and myself. But we had an unexpectedly awesome turnout and a really fun time eating, beering and oh yeah, watching the Saints come through in the clutch! Great friends visit friends in Queens! And even bring beer!

Italian bread! Eaten cunsatu, Sicilian for fixed up...

To quote one of Rocco's comments, worthy of its own post: "Nonna thinks that there's God in bread so she will not throw any of it out, ever. And, therefore, she always eats stale bread. If she knew how much bread I give to the birds in the backyard she would have a fit. Actually there's nothing like fresh bread. However as you know to me bread = Italian bread! Eaten cunsatu, Sicilian for fixed up, that is warm with olive oil a little sea salt and some pecorino...that's heaven. So nonna is right after all."

Friday, February 12, 2010



Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What's bread got to do with it?

Since Valentine's Day is approaching, I am going soft and doughy on you:

"Love does not just sit there, like a stone; it had to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new." -
Ursula K. Le Guin

When Miguel moved to Japan (to be with the love of his life, Yui) he couldn't find any good bread there. And Miguel really loves his bread. So he did what any modern day, starch craving human with a high speed internet connection would do: he watched a tutorial on you tube on how to make bread. He didn't whine like a baby and stomp his feet and say, "Japan is stupid. They don't have any good bread here. I guess I'll just eat stinky noodles." No, he said, "You Japanese bitches don't have bread? I'll make you some bread."
(Fact: In Japan, public displays of affection and talking on cell phones on the bus is not acceptable, but looking at porn on the subway is.)
Now bread has been on my list of things to make. I do the quick bread thing, but yeast is scary. So I was so excited, while on his visit, Miguel showed me how easy it was.
And we got to use my new food processor with the dough blade. The things that make me jump for joy are pathetic. That is some nice looking dough, I must say.
We used stone ground whole wheat from the Farmer's Market and we put some chopped pecans in, too. With this flour we also got a good sour dough starter going for a few days, but then we neglected it and it died. My excuse is that the website we used was stupid and convoluted.
See, bread can teach you a lot of things about love. First don't neglect it or it will die. And when it dies don't make stupid excuses about it.
Bread also teaches you about patience, not the first on my list of virtues. Sometimes you have to wait for it, and you don't have a choice. And while you wait you can still enjoy yourself. I imagined I'd be sitting there staring at the dough ball watching for some sign of life. But Miguel tucked it into a warm spot and we just let it be and drank some wine and cooked some dinner. And it rose up right on its own. Wait for it...
Miguel made these cute little dough balls out and let them rise some more in a long baking dish. More patience. Then it was into the oven. Miguel was smitten with my oven. I don't think there is anything really special about it, but he thought it was a great oven. Beats me.
After about an hour, he pulled out the most delicious warm crusty and nutty bread. He said it was his best so far. I am honored I got to eat the best one. Some melted butter on warm bread fresh out of the oven is perfection, just like love.
Sorry, I am making myself gag, too, but I needed to circle back to my point somehow!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

So little time, such a big mess...

I had this vision of a little place to call my own. I'm a Cancer, so I love my shell, my safe zone, where I can retreat to when I'm cranky. "I just need my space for God's sake!" Now, I have the cutest little pad, with a big kitchen, a backyard and a washer and dryer. This is a dream in NY (even in Queens).
It took some getting used to to be on my own after so many years. There are really great things about it, like I can leave my things all around and clean when I'm good and ready and I like to stretch out like a giant X in bed in the morning. Some things suck, though, like eating alone. I hate eating alone!
At first, when I would get home from work I would sit at the table after a meal and realize I was by myself and think, "now what the hell and I going to do?" It wasn't loneliness, just that strange feeling of being alone with yourself. Crickets. I like the solace now. And I just blog!
So when my great friend Miguel stayed with me for a short while, it was such a nice treat. When I came home and all of my tupperware was organized I was like, "stay forever!" but his general neatness after a couple of days made me feel like a crazy ten headed slobbish beast. It reminded me of how quickly I can take a clean kitchen and like a tornado fill the sink with dishes and grease up the stove top to an alarming degree. He was rather perplexed. Its a unique skill to create such giant disasters in such a small amount of time.
We had a great time. It was nice to wake up and eat breakfast together. We cooked a lot and watched movies together and even went to work together! One memorable meal we paired with some great wine Miguel brought back from Chile. We seared some local scallops and served them over roasted garlic and truffle oil whipped potatoes with sides of swiss chard and sauteed mushrooms. Such a good meal and such wonderful company.
It was sad to see my roomie go. He left my apartment in greater shape than he found it. So I did some messing up of things here and there. It my pad and I can mess it up if I want to.

Roasted Garlic and Truffle Oil Whipped Potatoes
3-4 cloves of garlic, roasted in their in the oven until buttery
couple of potatoes, peeled and boiled
Warm milk (I used soy)
Truffle Oil

Using a hand mixer or egg beaters, whip the potatoes with the garlic, some warm milk and truffle oil, until creamy and the right smooth consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Pate, my co-photographer, decided to take the busiest month off of work, which I 100% totally respect. He's in Singapore and promised to bring me back some authentic recipes from his, "Mum." In the meantime, I am doing double duty holding down the photo fort. But a girl's got to eat, and Midtown lunch is gross, so with a little foresight I made a giant vat of Pasta Fagioli, which is Pasta with Beans. It very hearty, surprisingly not farty, perfect for winter and gives me plenty of energy to do what I do all day, just "click a button."

Think ahead and soak your beans. Pasta Fagioli is typically made with red beans, but I used both red and white. Plenty of veggies and nice herbs, tomato sauce and of course ditalini, my favorite type of pasta because its perfect for mouth shoveling, make this dish one I can eat literally every day of the week.

Pasta Fagioli
About 1 1/2 C. dried beans or 1-2 Cans (red and/or white)
1 can tomato sauce
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 potato, cubed
herbs* dried or fresh (rosemary, thyme, oregano, bay leaf)
red chili flakes
1-2 C vegetable broth
about 1/2-3/4 lb. ditalini pasta

Soak beans for 8 hours. Rinse off soaking water. Boil beans for another 45 minutes until soft but not mushy.

When beans are almost done boiling. Sautee onions, garlic, chili flakes and dried herbs in olive oil. Add carrot and celery and sautee until soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add the beans with their boiling water. Add vegetable broth and tomato sauce. Bring everything to a boil, then simmer. Add potatoes after 15 minutes, boil until soft. Add pasta with more salt until cooked. Season to taste. Add some extra virgin olive oil and any fresh herbs at the end. Enjoy all week!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Being born in the United States is really taken for granted. I realize this when foreign friends are anxiously awaiting visa approval or have to travel back and forth from their home countries every few months to be with their boyfriends or girlfriends. Relationships are hard enough and life and love are in limbo just because you weren't born here.
So when two dear friends, Pate and Marcin, got their green cards it was time to party! And as you can see Pate has is own unique way of celebrating.
Pate hosted the Green Card Party at his place in Brooklyn. Mostly everyone showed up wearing some shade of green and mostly all the food was, you guessed it: GREEN!
Pate made a delicious pesto sauce and a caesar broccoli salad. I brought over some roasted brussels sprouts and roasted potatoes, and for dessert I made a chocolate almond torte. And Erik brought over his famous Broccoli Salad. There was a LOT of gaseous vegetables on the spread, but I don't remember it being a problem.
The highlight of the night, aside from Pate doing full splits in the living room for everyone's entertainment, was when he pulled out his gigantic 4X5 camera. There were about 6 photographers there, and everyone was getting all nerdy on the camera. The bunch of us were sitting in three rows, arena style on his couch trying to hold still for 20 second exposures. When one person giggled it was all over. And when late guests arrived, the looks on their faces at seeing us all sitting there in such a bizarre arrangement was hilarious.
The food was great, the company was awesome and it was a really fun party!