Tag Archives: Cheese

I8tonite: A New York Pizza Experience

Pepperoni Pizza

On a recent work trip to the Big Apple, I found myself working voraciously from one area of the boroughs to another, with only an opportunity to grab a quick slice of pizza for lunch, before hailing an Uber (Who takes cabs?) or jumping on the subway, repeating this action until dinner. I did this for five days. By the end of the trip, exhausted and not feeling well plus I felt bloated from the amounts of consumed dairy and wheat. (Yes. I  realized that milk products including trace amounts of butter and I are no longer friends.)

With this said, the trip provided me a rewarding experience that only Lactaid can cure the next time I venture forth with so much mozzarella. And, although, the New York slice, the version that you dab with a napkin to relieve of extra grease, rolling-up like a New York Times straphanger, is becoming extinct like said transit-rider, it still is served deliciously — and for me, gratefully.

On Quora – the internet answer for everything — someone tried to figure out the number of shops, reckoning it’s anywhere from 3200 to 32500.  Suffice it to say it’s a broad number. They even try and figure out how many per day a pizzaiolo must toss, bake and sell (about 50) to stay in business.

Whatever the case and take this with a grain of well-tossed salt hidden in the folds of rising dough, here are my selections for a few grand pizzas – in today’s Manhattan.

Prince Street Pizza

Formerly known as Ray’s when I lived was a poor New York student in the eighties, I would stumble by for a pepperoni slice after nightclubbing, something to soak up the alcohol. Purchased a decade ago, the existing owners kept the place alive and very much a Soho tradition. Instead of the fold-and-go variety of pies, they execute a Sicilian square loaded with small circles of spicy pepperoni. When baked onto one of the gooey delicacies, they become mini-cups of flavor, holding liquid fat, ready to drip down your chin or shirt. There are only a line and a counter so may do like a New Yorker and eat while walking.

27 Prince Street (between Elizabeth and Mott Streets)

(212) 966 – 4100

Princestreetpizza.com

Farinella

Days of cheese and pepperoni

 I came by the Romanesque pizza shop after Uber hightailing from a meeting in Brooklyn to Lexington and 78th only to be thirty minutes early. Rarely do opportunities arise with time on your side, so I sought out a quick place to eat and came across Farinella Pizza and Bakery.  Here the pies are elongated rather than round and the dough stretched rather than tossed. Regardless, it’s really delicious with a crispy under-carriage while it grips onto the selected toppings. The margherita is divine Italian simplicity at it’s best.

1132 Lexington Avenue (between 78th and 79th Streets)

New York, New York, 10075

(212) 327 – 2702

Champion’s

Pepperoni Pizza

Who knew that pizza – an import foodstuff brought over by Italian immigrants – could be so delicious in the hands of a Turk? Hakki Akdeniz worked for many years making $300 per week to learn the tasks of pizzaiolo trade. The outcome is a true slice of New York pizza. Folded in half, paper plate underneath – and a walk to the subway – or hanging out at one of the few tables. Eating the chewy dough and cheese with just that right amount of giving made me feel like all is right with the world – that Andy Warhol, Deelite and Nell’s where still around.

17 Cleveland Place, New York, New York

The end. Go eat.

(P.S. Apologies for the long space between posts. Life happens.)

I8tonite: Charred Broccoli with Lemon and Asiago

I discovered Charred Broccoli with Lemon and Asiago absolutely tasty. Tasty enough that there aren’t leftovers the next day.  I now believe roasting is the best thing for anything even broccoli which I like but isn’t necessarily my go to. So, when in doubt — roast. (My new motto.)

I discovered the recipe in “Family Table: Favorite Staff Meals, From Our Restaurants to Your Home”, compiled by Union Square Hospitality Group’s Culinary Director, Michael Romano and written by Karen Stabiner, with a forward by Danny Meyer, chef and owner of the just mentioned company. (Yes, Danny Meyer of Shake Shack fame.) I briefly worked for him as a waiter at Union Square Café back in the late eighties. Written in 2013, the cookbook’s recipes are staff meals from his restaurants that are part of the said conglomeration. These establishments include some of the Big Apple’s gastronomically acclaimed: Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park, The Modern and others. (Sadly, Union Square Café will be moving from its current space of 30 years to another area of Manhattan due to high rents.) Traditionally, staff meals are served at the beginning of the dinner shift and end of lunch.

El Teddys. Courtesy of I Loved New York

Truth be told,  taking all the romance out of the cookbook, along with the “familial” sappiness  — the  staff meals that we were given before or after our shifts came from leftovers that didn’t sell – too much chicken, Bibb lettuce getting ready to turn, fresh pasta that needed to be boiled so it didn’t go to waste.  Working at the now defunct Soho Kitchen & Bar (SKB), we were served pizzas and salad pretty much every staff meal.  The kitchen quickly needed to use up any dough from the day before and replenish with freshly made.  The salad was at least a couple of days old but it was still had a good crunch going on. At El Teddy’s, torn down in 2004 — we were allowed to eat any of the appetizers such as chicken achiote, machaca or steak arrachera burritos, any of the salads or the quesadillas which included huitlacoche (corn fungus), nopales and a puerco.  We could order as much as we wanted as the back of the house had already made the dishes with fresh ingredients for that day’s clientele. (We were eating yesterday’s.) At the Cajun/Mexican fusion of How’s Bayou – it was mostly leftover fried chicken, jambalaya, gumbo, day old enchiladas, reconstituted black beans, red rice and sometimes something green. (Not complaining about any of this. It was free food and truly delicious. The pizza at SKB was some of the best I had. I learned a lot about life, cooking, drinking and made some of the best friends ever while working in restaurants. I loved it.)

This brings me back to this recipe and cookbook…yeah, I don’t think any of the staff at my restaurants would have eaten this as “family meal”. It would have would have been sitting under the heat lamps drying out…but now that I’m older and definitely stockier — it’s pretty stellar stuff.

Charred Broccoli

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches of broccoli cut into trees with stems. Trim off about two inches from the bottom.
  • ¼ olive oil.
  • 2 lemons.
  • Several dashes of red pepper flakes.
  • Italian hard cheese such as asiago, pecorino or parmesan. Two to three cups grated.
  • Maldon salt, fresh cracked pepper. (Okay, you can use kosher….but I love the Maldon stuff.)
  • ½ cup of Panko bread crumbs.

Let’s make this puppy:

Preheat the oven to 450 – 475 degrees. Toss the broccoli, olive oil and breadcrumbs into a large bowl coating the broccoli really well. Spread into a single layer onto a baking sheet and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, charring the ends of the broccoli but not burning them.

While the broccoli is cooking, zest the two lemons into a large bowl and add the grated cheese stirring well until mixed.

Once the broccoli is cooked, toss the broccoli in the bowl mix with juice of a ½ a lemon. Serve.

The End. Go Eat.

I8tonite: Chef’s Questionnaire with Kelly Chapman, Chef and Creator of Studio City’s Macolicious

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Chef Kelly Chapman is a rare find in the culinary world. Her Macolicious, a restaurant serving up the comfort of macaroni and cheese, located in Studio City, California is from the heart. She has an earnestness not seen in the restaurant industry showcasing “paying-it-forward”, honoring recipes from her elders and good old-fashioned, taste-bud loving cooking. Chapman’s pasta and cheese started off as a food truck which road-tripped throughout the Los Angeles, Santa Monica and San Fernando Valley before becoming a brick-and-mortar in September 2014. Currently, her menu features over 12 different variations of macaroni and cheese, all of it baked with it’s base being a sharp cheddar. (” …although The Dreamy Creamy Mac is prepared stove top because that’s the way kids like it”.) There are fancy versions such as “Frous Frous”  which is made with blue crab;  “5 Cheeses” which includes Asiago, Fontina, Gruyere, Parmesan and cheddar and “American Mac” which combines asparagus and bacon two of Chapman’s favorite ingredients. Some of the proceeds of her restaurant goes to Kelly Chapman’s Ministries Mobile Pantry which has fed over 20,000 people in her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio including low-income families, battered women and single mothers.

How long have you been cooking?   Since I was 7 years old making breakfast pancakes with Mom.

What is your favorite food to cook?  Macaroni and cheese of course!

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What do you always have in your fridge at home?   Cheese, blackberries, raspberries and pecans

What do you cook at home?  Bacon, eggs, pancakes and cheese grits

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?  They appreciate the little details, like our pillows, the grass, the mac’n’cheese covered lamps or the noodle knobs in the bathroom.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?  Cheap and uninformed.  They don’t know the difference between “cheese” and “cream”, or “fresh squeezed juice” and “bottled fresh squeezed”.  Even worse?  The customer who is miserable.  They arrive miserable and want to make everyone else suffer.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?  Pyrex all day long because it cleans easily, and withstands various temperatures.

Beer, wine or cocktail?  Wine because it tastes great in a glass or in your food.

Your favorite cookbook author?   My late stepmother introduced me to Norma Jean and Carole Darden, Authors of Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine.

Your favorite kitchen tool?  A fork and knife so I can eat; second, my Crofton electric wine bottle opener.

CROFTON ELECTRIC WINE BOTTLE OPENER - -- USED

Your favorite ingredient?  I put cheese on everything.

Your least favorite ingredient?  Curry.

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?  Grate cheese.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Southern cuisine, soul food or Italian.

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu?  Eat Right for your Blood Type says a B- needs red meat.  #lovebutton

Favorite vegetable?  Asparagus but I just heard that it makes your pee a bit stinky.  Oh well…

Chef you most admire?  First, my mom and second, B. Smith.

Food you like the most to eat?  Cheesy baked potato skins.

Food you dislike the most? Any type of fish.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?  None, but if I did you would see 4 noodles at the nape of my neck with the words #maclove.

Macolicious Logo

Kelly Chapman’s Breakfast Casserole

Breakfast Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of Hot Sausage
  • 8 slices of bread
  • 4 cups of Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dry Mustard
  • 5 Eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 can mushroom soup

Layer in an baking dish starting with the bottom layer:

  • 8 slices of bread – cubed
  • 2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound of sausage cooked and drained

Second layer

  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 5 eggs (beaten)
  • 2 cups of milk

Third layer

  • 1 can of mushroom soup mixed with 1 can of evaporated milk

Forth layer:

  • 2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese

Bake at 300 for 1 1/2 hours. Cut into squares.  Serve with fresh fruit, Cheese Grits, and banana bread or a muffin.

Extra: Freeze squares in individual sandwich bags placed in one large freezer bag.  Thaw overnight and broil for 5 minutes.  If you must microwave — you can.

-The End. Go Eat. –