Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cold Sesame with Raw Zucchini, Carrot and Cucumber (Spiralized) Noodles

Cold Sesame with Raw Zucchini, Carrot & Cucumber Noodles
When I was a kid my parents would take us all to a Chinese restaurant in Flushing, Queens called The Happy Dumpling. I was just beginning to be adventurous beyond wonton soup and Cold Sesame Noodles were soon my jam! The waitress would mix all the ingredients at the table, a great way to keep restless kids entertained. The entire family loved that dish and it was the highlight of our meal there.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pony Down the Block in Middle Village

When I was a kid growing up in Queens, there was another girl on the block named Jennifer and I called her "Jen down the block." Not coincidentally she called me "Jen down the block, too."
More interesting, all the way down the block on Furmanville Ave there was an old farm house with a pretty big lawn and a pony grazed on the lawn.
This might not sound amazing, but a pony in a neighborhood in NYC was a rare thing. When I was a kid and my dad took me on walks to see the pony, I would get really excited, but it was normal to me that the pony lived there and I got to visit the pony every day. Looking back, I can't believe we had a pony down the block. Sometimes I wonder if I'm making the whole thing up.
After some time the pony "went to the farm," and the old people who lived in the old farm house died. Some guido contractors bought the old farm house and in guido fashion were preparing to knock it down and build a marble guido mansion, but people from the historical society stepped in and put a stamp on the old farm house.
A landmark designation is different from a historical designation. As I understand it, with a landmark, you can't touch it, but with historical, you can go as far as completely taking the structure down, as long as you store each piece in such a way that if one day someone comes along and wants to rebuild it, it is possible.
Instead of tearing the white wooden frame house down, the guido contractors stuccoed over it, adding outrageous marble columns where the wooden porch supports were.
And on the lawn where the pony once grazed they built another multi-family brick house.
Today if two kids named Tom grow up on 79th St, after they are all grown up, they might say, "When I was a kid there was another Tom and I called him 'Tom down the block' and he called me' Tom down the block.'"
But that is where the story will end, because who cares about the multi-family brick house all the way down the block? Those are a dime a dozen.
If I am ever wealthy enough I will buy that old farm house, remove the flesh colored stucco, tear down the multi-family brick house, grow a lawn from seed, then buy a pony.
We need more ponies. We need less multi-family brick houses.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Vegan BBQ How To: We Make The Sides; You Bring The Meat Plus Jon's Baja Style Oyster Mushroom Tacos!

"I want to be a vegan so bad," a friend told us, "but when BBQ season rolls around, I can't resist grilled meats." We hear you! At our first BBQ at our new place in Ridgewood (yes I moved BACK to Queens!) we were in a bind because it happened: Jon and I became vegans. 
As much as we can be. Cheese is a big part of our lives. I knew Jon was "the one," when I realized I love him more than I love cheese. That is life changing. And now that we have given up cheese, we only have vegetables and each other. That is scary!
Let's say we are vegan-ish, because while we are animal lovers and aware that if the entire world gave up animal products we would actually have a chance at reversing global warming, we don't want to impose our new lifestyle-ish on everyone. 
And we are not perfect, especially when it comes to going out to eat or visiting friends. A little parmesan cheese on our pasta or butter on our toast won't make us throw the entire meal in the trash. And a little sausage grease on our vegetable skewers only makes them that much more delicious.
When our friends asked what to bring to our house on Memorial Day, "we don't eat meat so bring whatever you want to grill," was my answer. 
Jon niftily transformed the rusty abandoned gas grill into a perfectly good charcoal grill then we headed to the store for veggies. Walking up Fresh Pond Rd, I suggested we try out Valentino's Vegetable Store, where Nonna used to make me drive her for artichokes. 
The place was a total cluster fuck of old people ramming into the backs of our heels with their shopping carts and cantaloupes being hurled over our heads. 
Little old Sicilian ladies were stocking up on roma tomatoes to make gallons of red sauce, while their obedient old man husbands figured out where the hell the basil was. 
I could tell Jon was a split second away from having a full blown seizure from all the chaos closing in on him, so I told him to wait on the "line," while I ran outside to get limes. Lemons are inside and limes outside, for some reason. 
When I returned, I said, "Are you in line?" This was a trick question.
"I'm in a clump of people. I think it's a line."
 "This is what it is like to be in Sicily," I told him, "where these is no concept of lines."
He looked mildly comforted but still a bit twitchy.
Even so, things somehow get done. We got to the cashier, who I had noticed was talking to the old man who was in line before us in Sicilian and to the other Spanish cashier in this strange Sicilian Spanish hybrid, that interestingly enough, both Jon and I understood. 
We got a shit ton of vegetables. Artichokes, tomatoes, basil, cilantro, zucchini,  mushrooms, onions, lemons, limes, red peppers, eggplant... The total $30.
"I'm coming back here from now on!" Jon said.
I managed to lure him to the dark side with cheap fresh vegetables. 
Our vegan BBQ was a success. Before, filled with food anxiety, we would have stock up on hot dogs and hamburgers, too many, which would later be shoved in the back of our freezer and then chucked into the trash from freezer burn. 
Instead we prepared a bunch of old and new favorite veggies: Erik's Broccoli Salad, Roasted Eggplant Dip, Zucchini & Mushroom Skewers, Grilled Baby Artichokes and Jon's new invention Baja Style Oyster Mushroom Tacos (pictured) with Corn Salsa and Chipolte Vegan Mayo. Our carnivorous friends brought meat. Everyone was happy. 

Broccoli Salad
Raw brocolli, veganaise, apple cider vinegar, red onions, red peppers, chopped pecans, sunflower seeds, and the secret ingredient, some good old sugar. 

Roasted Eggplant Dip
1 egg plant cubed
2 shallots chopped2 cloves fresh garlic wholetomato pasteground cuminpaprikahoneybalsamic vinegarcayenne peppersalt and pepperolive oil
    In a 400 degree oven roast the eggplant with the shallots, coated in olive oil and salt and pepper until soft. About 5 minutes before they are done, add the garlic cloves. In a food processor blend the roasted eggplant with the rest of the ingredients to taste so that its a sweet and sour balance between the vinegar and the honey. Enjoy with bread.

Baja Style Oyster Mushroom Tacos
• Make a beer batter with some flour and beer, salt and pepper. The batter should be the consistency of thick pancake batter and not too watery. Coat oyster mushrooms in the batter and deep fry in vegetable oil. Season with salt and pepper.
• Top with chipotle mayo, which can be easily made by mixing some mayonaise or veganaise with canned chipotle peppers or chipotle sauce in adobo.
• Top with corn salsa, made with chopped red onions, red peppers, corn, tomato, cilantro and lime.
• Top with fresh shredded red cabbage.
• Serve on your choice of corn or flour tortilla.

Corn Salsa
Fresh Shucked Corn, Red Onion, Red Pepper, Tomatoes, Cilantro, Lime, Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper

Vegan Chipolte Mayo
Mix can of chipotle sauce with veganaise 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

If You Shit You Don't See Rainbows And Other Lessons From Laguna Beach

Lesson #1: Work equals no whales.

It was our first morning in Laguna Beach.

"Is that a whale?" Jon asked.
"It is!" I screamed.
"Oh, Chris is going to be so mad, "Arica said, "Everyone that visits us sees a whale. We have been here a year and Chris hasn't seen one whale!"

Lesson #2: Paella Party

That night Arica and Chris' neighbors visited for Chris' famous paella. While slaving away I said to Chris, "This isn't a good dish to make when you have guests. You're stuck in the kitchen and you can't hang out with them."
"That is why I make it," he said as he pushed me out.

The Dutch doctor and the French actress arrived while I was inhaling cheese. 
"Here try this," the actress said handing me a glass of red wine, "It goes good with that cheese."
How did she know what cheese I was eating?
"I like white wine with creamy cheese," I said.
"Well I am french," she said.

To ameliorate the mutual bitchiness the Dutch doctor handed me a 400 year old bottle of wine hand selected from his wine cellar.
"Why don't you open this?"
"Don't mind if I do. Wax on or wax off?"
"The corkscrew will go right through it."

It went through it all right. I destroyed the cork.

I looked over at Chris who was cleaning the calamari.
"This isn't working," I said.
Chris got one look at the wine bottle and gave me the biggest eye roll, "Just stop! Give it to him."

The Dutch doctor's surgeon hands saved the bottle.

"Let's go look at the wine cellar!" Arica said.

A tour of the wine cellar turned into a tour of the entire house and we ended up in the gym looking at a machine that "does the work for you." After the actress turned it became clear that it was a giant vibrator.

I threw a leg on machine, in a lunge position to test it out.
"No sit on it!" Arica ordered. She was bouncing on a work-out ball.

So I sat right in the middle of it and had an all over body (and brain) orgasm.

"Ha-ave - you-ooh - guy-ays - fu-ucked - on-on- thi-is- thi-ing ye-et?" was all I could muster.

Lesson #3 Medical Marijuana

Since moving to California Arica got her medical marijuana card for her "insomnia" and aside from buying huge quantities of pot she gets all sorts of baked goods. On her father's recent trip she offered him a piece of pot fudge. The 3 inch square had 30 servings in it and the math in her head worked out to giving her Dad half the square.

After they had to carry him to the bedroom, he called out, "This is the cheesiest way to die!"

After hearing the story I went rifling through the refrigerator and found it. 
Chris begged me not to do it.

I broke off chunks and handed them around the table. 
"Arica doesn't get any," Chris said and popped a chunk.
"No thanks," said the Dutch doctor politely.
"I don't do pot," said the french actress with a pruney face, "my sister was a drug addict."
"So what? My brother was a dick, it doesn't stop me from being a dick," Jon said.

Lesson #4: Don't drink Scotch then fall asleep on the couch

Out came the Scotch and down went Jon and out came Arica's butt on my boyfriend's face.

"Hold on. Do it again. I have to get my camera," I said. 

Arica's leg muscles gave out and she sat on Jon's face.

"Is he dead?" she asked
"No he is just asleep," I said.

The neighbors disappeared. 

Next morning we woke up and Jon said "A rainbow!"
It stretched across the sky.

"Chris, Chris, come look, it's a huge rainbow!" Arica said.

Lesson #5: If you take shits, you don't see rainbows.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

SEO, Monetization and Blog Birthday Invitation! (Chocolate Stout Cake and $2 Beers)

I know I have been missing, but I am not done on Morta Di Fame. I am not sure you are aware but I bought a blog! I know that sounds totally insane, and it's been a crazy but an amazing learning experience. It's called and it's doing really well. I live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and the blog covers all happenings there. I have been super duper obsessed with SEO and monetization, reading a ton of books on blogging and how to make a living at it, because if I could blog full time (which I am already doing - plus my regular job), I would. That's the dream and I am slowly getting there.
Since I took over the website, we have taken on a huge number of local advertisers, who I am honored to personally know because they are small business owners and my neighbors. The website traffic is unbelievable. In one year it has grown from 4,000 unique visitors per month and around 14,000 page views to over 12,000 unique visitors per month and over 30,000 page views! Plus, I know my audience and meet them in real life. They aren't just numbers in google analytics.
It's been a year, and I want to continue sharing my food shoveling and crazy Sicilian family stories with you. I might not post every single day, but I am excited to be back! I still get tons of emails from readers and comments here, and permission to use food images, which gives me a giggle, because apparently I was pretty good at optimizing my images for search but I didn't event know it! Enough of the boring stuff. Party time!
When Morta Di Fame turned one year old, we had a rice ball and Nonna filled blog birthday in my little basement apartment in Queens. Next week, is also having a "one year since I took over birthday," at my favorite bar in the world - The Diamond. Plus Ovenly, a bakery that makes me drool just think about is baking us a cake! A Chocolate Stout Cake with Caramel Buttercream Frosting. If you are in the area, please come, I would love to meet you! Here is the video invitation. Blawg Birthday
Friday September, 28, 2012 @ 9pm
The Diamond
(43 Franklin St)
$2 Beer from 9-10pm & (FREE) Cake!

RSVP on Facebook

Sunday, May 13, 2012


The best gifts are the ones when you hand them over to the giftee you want to retract your arm so you can keep it for yourself. That is the case with this sweet Milford, PA PTA Cookbook from 1970 that I am giving to my Mom. I found it in a cool Antique Bookstore in Hawley, PA, near my parents house in the Poconos! They have had the house since I'm 2 years old and Milford, PA was the halfway point. We would always stop at the Milford Diner and I would get a hot dog that was sliced down the middle with ketchup.
My Mom, Marcy was the ultimate PTA Cookbook Editor. I still refer to my PS49 cookbook and my church book book (both spiral bound) for old family recipes. I love that each recipes lists the person's name, like Mrs. DeSanto or Mrs. Rose.
This cookbook in particular is so awesomely designed. The art deco cover rules! Inside the chapters pages are made with a sharpie marker, and all the recipes inside are typed with a typewriter. I love the gourmet page that lists tacos, ragu and curry as gourmet food. Those Milford ladies were ahead of their time! Meanwhile, the good foodie stuff is in the Game section, with recipes for venison, moose and rabbit.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Originally posted on
Do you get anxiety when you go into Bedford Cheese Shop? The amount of amazing cheese to chose from is extremely intimidating. My friend Tony gave me sound advice:you know everything is good, so just take whatever they give you. 
To ease into it I dilly dally near the front where all the jams and condiments live and once I have enough courage I just go for whatever says goat or sheep.
While pointing and drooling I saw a list of different types of ravioli from Pastosa. For the record, it’s not my favorite pasta because of all that runny ricotta, but the Asparagus Prosciutto and Mascarpone flavor won me over. When I got home, I stuck it in the freezer, figuring in a pinch I could just boil and butter them up.
Last weekend at the market I found gorgeous asparagus. I always go for the skinniest ones with the smallest tips (keep it clean!) I think they have the most flavor.
While buying cocktail umbrellas (you will see why next week) at The Brooklyn Kitchen, I spotted fiddlehead ferns! I grabbed a handful and rushed home to make this simple sauce to go with my ravioli.
This sauce was so easy and fast.
Fiddlehead Fern & Asparagus Ravioli
(Optionally) Cut a few slices of bacon into little cubes and fry until crisp. Remove and leave some of the fat.
Add some butter to the pan and sautee about a half a sliced onion or shallot, along with some peperoncino (hot chili flakes) and fresh sage. Salt and Pepper.
Add a bunch of asparagus tips and the fiddlehead ferns and sautee until cooked, but still crisp. Salt and Pepper.
The ravioli take 8-10 minutes to cook in a big boiling pot of salted water. After you drain them, melt a little butter on them, then add the sauce.
Top with grated pecorino romano or parmesian cheese and don’t forget that bacon you set aside!
I really like the Pastosa ravioli and am excited to try more flavors. They were huge and firm and they didn’t fall apart. The cheese wasn’t watery and the prosciutto gave the filling a nice sweet flavor. The ferns were funny, they are very earthy or grassy, with the texture and slight goo of okra, but very delicious parts that get caramelized in the pan are delicious.

Friday, April 6, 2012


I am teaching this class at Paulie Gee's! April 23, 2012 at 7pm. Come and make rice balls, then sit down to a rice ball supper. Includes wine and fun! More info here.