Category Archives: Recipes

i8tonite: Late Summer Corn Hash

Corn HashI saw this corn hash recipe from Alice Waters’ cookbook, The Art of Simple Food. She deemed it a “hash” and I thought it sounded like a fresh take on the dense potato and onion variety. With a few of my own tweaks here and there — I made it and of course, it was delicious. How it could it not be? It’s a Ms. Waters’ creation.

After posting the image on social media as is my wont, I was asked what makes it “hash?”  The answer to that my friends is the chopped onions. The word hash is from the French word “hacher” meaning to chop. Technically, anything with chopped onions can be called a hash; therefore, Ms. Waters called this hash and I did too, since we do not disagree with two fabled beings — Mother Nature and Mother to All Things Culinary, Ms. Waters.

Instead of using butter and a skillet, I used olive oil and roasted my corn with the pepper and sweet onion with salt; while still hot from the oven, I tossed in the arugula so it wilted ever so slightly.  I poached two eggs, whipped up a hollandaise and added some Korean hot pepper to the sauce (Asian-French fusion going on there) and voila. Roasted Corn Hash with Wilted Arugula, Two Poached Eggs and Korean Red Pepper Hollandaise. It was truly easy and it could even be classified as a one sheet pan supper.

Corn

Ingredients:

  • Fresh corn on the cob (3 to 4 ears).
  • 1 Red, green, or orange bell pepper or a combination or any two or three.
  • Maldon sea salt flakes. (I love this stuff. I love it’s texture but truthfully, kosher salt will do.)
  • 2 cups fresh arugula.
  • 1 small onion – it can be red if you like.
  • Olive oil.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shuck the corn and remove the kernels from the cob.  I find that a paring knife works well for this and a large bowl.  Place the smaller end of the cob into the bowl and press firmly on the cob with the other hand. Cut away from you. You might lose a few kernels…but like Julia Childs…just put them in the bowl.

With the bell peppers, cut into strips and then dice. Place into the bowl. Dice the onion and put into the bowl as well. Mix corn, pepper/s and onions with the olive oil using your hands to coat well. Put on a rimmed baking sheet of 9 x 13, spread out the mixture and add a little salt. Roast for about 20 minutes.

Remove the pan and then, add the arugula. Using a spatula, mix the lettuce until it wilts lightly around the edges. Sprinkle with a little more salt, fresh pepper and viola. Top as I did with poached eggs or oven roasted salmon, roasted chicken, pan seared rib eye or grilled tofu….or eat it right out of the pan. The possibilities are endless.


The End. Go Eat.

 i8tonite: Any Day Spice Rub-A-Dub Dub

After doing a bit of research on the history of spice “rubs” there really isn’t that much. I did discover that the United States is number one importer of spices in the world. That’s a pretty significant claim. Thus, in our country we have all the spices at our fingertips to make our own “artisanal” housemade rub just by going to the store or local spice market.  The most basic of rubs is plain ol’ salt and pepper. Just massage a couple of grinds into any piece of meat, fish or tofu. Roast, pan sear, grill and you have yourself a mighty fine meal.

If you start to add other things to the salt and pepper, you begin to create your own. For me, I like to add some brown sugar, cayenne, a little smoked salt, paprika, cumin, fennel seed, dry mustard and a little more sugar….like turbinado.  You can experiment…and that’s what cooking and life is all about exploring, experimenting…trying something new.

To make your own rub:

Use a tablespoon of each dry ingredient. If you decide to add a little more of one and less of another, it’s okay, you won’t be graded.

  • Brown sugar (I like a little more so I normally do two tablespoons)
  • Cayenne
  • Paprika
  • Ground cumin
  • Garlic powder (for me, two tablespoons)
  • Onion powder
  • Fennel seed
  • Salt (Kosher salt or Maldon flaky salt)
  • Black Pepper

Or make a Curry Rub. Again starting with the salt and pepper, add to that:

  • Curry Powder (I like a lot of curry. I go with 3 or 4 tablespoons)
  • Ground coriander
  • Ground ginger
  • Ground Cumin
  • Brown sugar

So this Labor Day, you’ve labored by looking at two different rubs. Take a couple of tablespoons of the mixture and massage your protein (tofu works too)…front and back. Work your way into it. Ahhh…and let it rest for about 45 minutes to an hour. Turn on your oven, light up your grill, melt some butter in your cast iron pan – and sear, bake, broil or roast. It’s like getting all “jiggy wit dit” without removing an ounce of clothing. Store the extra in an air-tight container in a cool dark place and pull it — ahem — out when you’re feeling like a quickie….meal.

The End. Go Eat. 

i8tonite: with New York City’s Chef Joey Campanaro, The Little Owl featuring his Eggplant Parmigiana

Image result for the little owl nyc gravy meatball sliders
Meatball Sliders, photo courtesy of Little Owl

The Little Owl is one of the New York City’s quintessential and great dining institutions. Sitting on the corner of Grove and Bedford, this West Village establishment is romantic in it’s atmosphere yet serves up lusty food. On the outside, with its scarlet-painted window panes and large blue awnings it seems like a colonial Manhattan bistro or tavern and comforting as if it’s been there forever. You almost expect to have Woody Allen or Martin Scorsese yell, “CUT!” it seems that familiar. On the inside, in the 28 seat dining room with vaulted ceilings, Chef Joey Campanaro creates seasonal American menus for which he has become known. Some of the restaurant’s signature dishes include Campanaro’s Gravy Meatball Sliders (featured on the website), Pork Chop with Butter Beans and a burger which was called by The London Observer as one of the “50 Best Things in The World to Eat.”

Image result for little owl nyc pork chop
The burger; photo courtesy of The Little Owl

He is co-owner with Chef Mike Price of Market Table and still maintains his own catering and consulting firm, Blackfoot Consulting. Not far from The Little Owl is The Little Owl Venue which can host up to 40 people for receptions, meetings and assorted gatherings. Campanaro has appeared seemingly on every Food Network show and been interviewed by every food writer….and now this one. (Small aside: Campanaro was also the Executive Chef of The Harrison, which used to be Hows Bayou, a Cajun restaurant in Tribeca. Hows Bayou was the restaurant in the late 80s where I waited tables for about 3 years and met some of my greatest friends – whom I still know today.)

Like each one of these Chef’s Questionnaires, we learn something a little interesting about the person at the stove such as his love of pasta and that his favorite cookbook author is Donna Hay.

  • How long have you been cooking? 25 years.
  • What is your favorite food to cook? Pasta.

  • What do you always have in your fridge at home? Butter and grated cheese.
  • What do you cook at home? Pasta.
  • What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? (People) with no expectations.
  • What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer? Know-it-alls.
  • Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? Tupperware.
  • Beer, wine or cocktail? Beer.

  • Your favorite cookbook author? Donna Hay.
  • Your favorite kitchen tool? My hands.
  • Your favorite ingredient?  Clams.
  • Your least favorite ingredient? Heavy cream.
  • Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Washing lettuce.

  • Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Italian.
  • Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? Pork.
  • Favorite vegetable? Onion.
  • Chef you most admire? Jimmy Bradley.
  • Food you like the most to eat? Blue claw crabs.
  • Food you dislike the most? Falafel.
  • How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? Zero.

90 Bedford Street, corner of Grove

New York, New York 10014

Website: www.thelittleowl.com

Hours:

Lunch:

Monday to Friday 12 – 2:30pm, Saturday (Lunch) and Sunday (Brunch) 11:00am – 2:30pm

Dinner: Monday – Saturday 5pm – 11pm, Sunday 5pm – 10pm.

Eggplant Parmigiana
Eggplant Parmigiana, photo courtesy of The Little Owl

Eggplant Parmigiana at little owl restaurant by Chef Joey Campanaro

Note: I loved the way Campanaro wrote out this recipe. It was beautiful — reading it, I felt like I was watching him cook — so I just left it with very few edits.

  • Canned whole peeled tomato
  • Medium eggplant
  • Garlic (chopped)
  • Onion (diced)
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Olive oil
  • Chili flakes
  • s/p

In an ample sauce pot, add olive oil and garlic and onion and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, then add the tomatoes. I simply squeeze them (with my hands) before adding them to the pot. Add the cleaned chopped parsley and basil, season with salt and pepper and simmer for up to 2 hours. Cool and reserve.

Slice the eggplant, sprinkle with salt and layer on paper towels for 3 hours, this removes the bitter liquor. Prepare to bread the eggplant, you‘ll need, flour, eggs and bread crumbs mixed with grated parmesan cheese. The slices get dredged in the flour, then dipped into the beaten eggs and then finally in the mixed bread crumbs to coat thoroughly. Layer on to a baking sheet, drizzle the breaded slices with olive oil and then bake on very heat until lightly browned, remove from the oven and all time to cool. When cooled and the sauce has had time to cook and taste delicious, prepare the cheese mixture.

I mix grated fontina, parmesan, aged provolone and pecorino romano. The slices are layered each with sauce and cheese and stacked and baked.

The stacks get re-heated until the cheese melts, plated with a bit more of the sauce and then topped with a tomatoes salad. The tomatoes are diced and tossed with olive oil, a splash of sherry vinegar basil leaves, salt pepper and basil.

The End. Go Eat.

Cuban Mojo (pronounced “mo-ho”, not Austin Powers “mojo”) Chicken

Image result for cuban style mojo chicken

Nick is cooking tonight…and he’s making Cuban Mojo Chicken which is a marinade or sauce of only 5 ingredients: bitter orange, freshly ground cumin seeds, garlic, fresh oregano and olive oil. Having lived in Miami for most of his adult life, Nick loves Cuban food. According to LAist, there are quite a few Cuban restaurants in Echo Park, which we will need to check out.

Mojo originally appeared in The Canary Islands which are not far from Spain. As the frisky Spaniards started conquering The New World, we know they brought much of their language and food with them. This marinade which is fairly international, as the travelers dropped anchor at every island, can be made with any combination of acid/ oil such as red peppers (roasted and ground), green peppers (roasted and ground), cilantro, onions, and on and on.

In Cuban cooking, mojo typically applies to any sauce that is made with garlic, olive oil, and a citrus, in this case, bitter orange. Home cooks will notice in Cuban recipes that mojo is frequently used to flavor the yucca and is also used to marinate roast pork.  Cubans supposedly refer to the sauce as ‘mojito’ – not to be confused with the mint, rum and cachaça drink — and used for dipping fried plantain chips and yucca.  (I don’t know that for sure because the closest Cuban I have to is Nick. And he’s half Ecuadorean, not from Cuba but only lived in Miami where there is massive Cuban community. HA!)

If finding bitter (Seville) oranges is difficult – but not impossible — you might find it easier to add a couple of tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime and lemon to the fresh orange juice which is what Nick does.

(Incidentally, consumers can find this bottled and made with cornstarch. Don’t buy it. Make it. It’s so much better.)

1 to 1 ½ heads of garlic

1 cup fresh bitter orange juice (or if you can’t find  that substitute ½ cup of fresh orange juice, 1/8 cup of fresh lime juice (or approximate) , 3/4 cup of fresh lemon juice

½ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon fresh oregano (or 1 ½ teaspoons of dried)

1 full teaspoon toasted and freshly ground cumin seeds (Easy to find in your local market and will make a HUGE difference in the outcome with a wonderful smoky flavor.)

(With salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste)

Mash the garlic in a mortar and pestle or smash it into a paste which the flat side of a knife. Toast the cumin seeds in a skillet until fragrant. Grind.

Place everything into a bowl and stir well. Marinate any meat (chicken, pork or beef) for in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours. Grill, roast or broil according to your taste. It’s a taste of the islands…and drink lots of mojitos.

 

 

 

 

The International or “Auntie Mame” of the Cookie World

Making holiday cookies is really not that complicated to understand or do. It might seem difficult because there might be a food processor or a stove but making cookies, a small nugget of sugary goodness, is so simple. So divinely simple…and fun. Simply simple.

I’ve been invited annually to a cookie exchange party for the past three years. The party, now in its fourth year, was the first time that I was able to go. To make up for the past three years, I made three different kinds of cookies because I couldn’t figure out which to bring. (Ultimately, I only brought two.)  I discovered one of the recipes from Real Simple Magazine which has quickly become one of my favorite publications when it comes to food. (I could do without the makeup tips though.)

The magazine recipe for Cornmeal, Fig and Thyme was delicious but the Mexican Wedding Cookies is truly one of my favorite for the holidays and everyday. Apparently it has many names around the globe such as Russian Tea Cakes, Italian Wedding Cakes, “biscochitos”  (Mexico), “polvornes” in Spain, Swedish teacakes (to be confused with the Russian), Moldy Mice, Pecan Sandies, Danish Almond Cookies, Finnish Butter Strips, Napoleon Hats, Melting Moments, Butter balls and…the hipster version, “Yeti Balls”. (Oh, the Iceman cometh…). All are made with the same method (flour, sugar, vanilla and butter) but with different shapes such as crescent, balls or strips…sometimes they use different nuts such as hazelnuts (filberts) or pecans in different European areas.

 You can research why it’s called the Mexican Wedding Cookie/Cake, Russian Doll Goes to Mall…whatever, but I’m calling it the “Auntie Mame”. Not only is it sugary and sweet like the Lucille Ball musical version (“We Need A Little Christmas“) of Mame, but it’s well-traveled and glamourous as if Rosalind Russell dusted it with white. It’s also smart, sort of like the casting of Angela Lansbury in the Broadway musical.

 

And as I said, it’s simple. Really, really simple…and very holiday-like.

Let’s make these puppies: “Auntie Mame”

1 cup (2 sticks) of softened (room temperature) unsalted butter

3 cups sifted powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1 cup very finely chopped toasted nuts (Note: Toast nuts at a low temp of 325 for about 20 minutes or until fragrant on a cookie sheet. Then place in a food processor to a mince.)

1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Combine the butter, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, salt and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until creamy. Beat in the flour and nuts. Chill the dough 30 to 60 minutes.

3. Shape the dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter and try to make them them the same size. You want them to cook evenly.  Arrange them on parchment paper, squishing them down to flatten the bottoms so they don’t roll around, about an inch apart. Bake on the center rack of the oven until the cookies are set and seem to be a  golden. Roughly 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through cooking

4. Transfer the cookies to a rack or a plate. Then using the sifter, immediately dust heavily with about a cup of the powdered sugar. Once they cool, place the remaining confectioners sugar into a bowl and roll the suckers coating them entirely. Sometimes, before serving, I like to sift some sugar on top to make it look pretty.