Taking On Tomatillos

I'm slowly but surely using up what's left from our garden bounty. My freezer's chock full of roasted tomatoes (hooray--I'll make it happily through the winter now!), but I still have a few things hanging out in the fridge that desperately need to be used. Luckily, tomatillos seem to have a longer life span than regular tomatoes, so I have a sort of extended grace period in which to use them.

The other night, along with a few of our little-but-tasty green peppers and some corn I'd cut off the cob and frozen, I decided I'd make a quick hot sausage experiment (I used some hot Italian sausage I already had, but I think this would be fabulous with Mexican-style chorizo, too). I wasn't sure if it would work, but I think it may have turned out to be my favorite tomatillo dish to date!

Tomatillos with Sausage and Corn
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 large clove of garlic, minced
• 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
• 3 cups chopped tomatillos
• 1 pound hot sausage, removed from casings
• 4 tiny or 1 regular green bell peppers, julienned
• 2 cups corn kernels
• salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, sauté the garlic in olive oil for a minute, then add the onion and cook until it begins to soften. Add the tomatillos, cover, and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, crumble the sausage into a sauté pan and cook until done. Stir the sausage into the tomatillo/onion mixture, and add a little salt and pepper. Turn off the heat, stir in the green pepper and corn, and serve!


The Empire State Building & Dirigibles

There's an interesting New York Times slideshow (and story) on the history of the Empire State Building's airship dock. It's a no-brainer that it wouldn't have worked, but a cool concept nonetheless!


The Best Part About Bánh Mì Saigon's New Digs?

Finally made it to Bánh Mì Saigon Bakery's new digs on Grand Street, and was surprised/happy to see that the jewelry store came along, too! This location is at least three times bigger than the one on Mott Street, so there's plenty of space to nosh on your $3.75 pork bánh mì (yup, the price stayed the same--even with their fancy new electronic ordering system and logo-emblazoned outfits!).

Check out my original Truly Cheap Eats post here.

Bánh Mì Saigon Bakery's new location is at 198 Grand Street, between Mott and Mulberry.

A Times Piece On My Ghetto Grocery!

Hooray for Big Apple! Be sure to check out the fabulous slide show, too.


Eataly: First Impressions

In need of a mid-afternoon walk/break, I decided it was time to brave Mario Batali's Italian food Mecca, Eataly, which recently opened on 23rd and Broadway. In all honesty, I went with a furrowed brow: does NYC need another crowded, overpriced celebrity chef food attraction? And upon seeing the amount of people inside the coffee shop/gelato entrance on Broadway a little after 3pm on a Tuesday, I thought, "Here we go..." But instead, I was pleasantly surprised. I think Eataly may have won me over.

I didn't spend tons of time in the place, and with a fridge full of things from the garden, I really didn't have anything to buy. But as I took a first pass through the food hall–like setup, I saw lots to like. Admittedly, most of the things aren't cheap, but Eataly deals in higher-end imports, and the prices weren't as ridiculous as I thought they'd be. The coffee was affordable, the cheese and meats seemed about right, and the dried pasta section will definitely give Chelsea Market's BuonItalia a run for my business.

What really surprised me, though, was the price of the produce--most of it organic. They had bundles of herbs and greens for $2, heads of lettuce for $1.50, and--shock of shocks--limes for 20 cents, which is the same as my cheap produce place on 41st and 9th! Not everything was a deal (the lemons were 75 cents each...) and I know that produce prices are volatile, but for now, I'll definitely have to put Eataly on my produce radar.

There's a little wine bar where you can grab a glass of wine, and Eataly sells bottles in a separate wine store on 23rd Street (I popped in, and again, they seem to be going higher end with a small selection of higher-priced wines). There are also a few places to eat, but I didn't look at the menus. They may be fun, but I'm not sure I'd want to spend that much money to eat in the middle of a crowded food hall. We'll see... Regardless, whether or not I become an Eataly regular remains to be seen. But for the moment, I'm definitely intrigued.

An Italian-style coffee bar.
Lotsa Lavazza.
Drinks and kitchen ware.
Beautiful Mozzarella di Bufala!
The bread was absolutely gorgeous. Priced a little higher than Amy's, but I tasted a sample, and it's pretty spectacular stuff.


Make a Wish...

I must admit, I love the cute wishbone door handle at the recently-opened Hill Country Chicken. Now I'll have to go try the vittles...


Don't Shoot Me, Gleeks

Just listened to the Glee cast covering Empire State of Mind. They're great, but it's time for me to 'fess up: I do love the original...

Now For The Leftovers...

Have you made yesterday's cute little stuffed zucchini yet? If so, you probably have some leftover pork and zucchini flesh hanging out in the fridge. My easy solution for the leftovers is a quick pasta dish: Just cook up some spaghetti, heat up the leftovers, toss everything together, add a generous amount of Parmesan and freshly-ground black pepper, et voilà, a sort of happy-making Provençal take on cacio e pepe.


Irresistable Zucchini

What's not to love about these super-cute round zucchini?! When I first spied them at a farmers market a few years ago, I was absolutely smitten. So the other day, when I spotted a few at the Lincoln Center Greenmarket before heading home to cook dinner for some friends, I decided to revisit a recipe inspired by one I found a couple of years ago in the French magazine Régal.

Stuffed Round Zucchini
• 6 round zucchini, each a little larger than a pool ball
• 1 pound ground pork
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 medium sized onion, minced
• 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
• 2 heaping tablespoons Dijon mustard
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 cups stock

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cut the stem end off each zucchini (like a little hat). Check to see if they will stand upright, and if not, cut a little off the bottom to make a flat surface. Scoop some of the flesh from the inside of each zucchini, as you would a when making a jack-o-lantern from a pumpkin (be careful not to poke the spoon through the bottom). Reserve the flesh and set the shells and their little hats aside.

In a pan, heat the olive oil, then sauté the garlic and onion until the onion is translucent. Add the pork and cook until it is no longer pink. Stir in the herbes de Provence and mustard, as well as a generous handful of the zucchini flesh (chop it up a bit if the chunks are large). Turn off the heat.

Stuff each zucchini with the pork filling (save any extra filling and zucchini flesh--I'll tell you what to do with it in a future post). Replace their little hats. Arrange them in an ovenproof baking dish, then pour the stock in the bottom of the dish. Bake for 20–30 minutes, or until the zucchini are tender and their edges start to brown.

Remove each zucchini from the liquid and serve.


Garden 34th Street: A Proud Mama

These are the first three tomatoes from one of the plants I started here on 34th Street, which I've brought back to the city in order to complete some bizarre circle of life moment.

Most of the first batch of baby tomato plants I raised didn't make it at Stony Kill (two or three did, but we lost track of which ones they were), but a few of the second batch I sowed (using seeds from the Hudson Valley Seed Library) survived in Nancy and Jess's side garden. They're so perfectly spherical and red...I'm so proud!!!


Garden: You Say Tomato...

This weekend, finally, was tomato time! Things are finally ripening, and we'd return from our daily visit to the garden with bags and bags of these beauties. The photo above is about one-fifth (if that!) of what we harvested, so we spent hours upon hours this weekend slicing, slow-roasting, and eating tomatoes! It doesn't quite make up for last summer's blight, but we sure do deserve this bounty!

 We turned everyone in the neighborhood on to the supremely-fantastic tomato confit, and roasted some every day. We made a yellow tomato version, as well as the "traditional" red...

My favorite tomato of the weekend, Mr. Sourpuss (aka braaaaiiiinnnnssss...).


Sign O' The Day

I'm feeling the need for a cleanse--perhaps I should try this? (One of today's many specials at the Café Metro on 34th Street.)

Good Deals: 88 Palace

My Sunday dim sum adventure got off to an unusually late start (snooze buttons can be evil!), and as I stood waiting for my friend in front of one of my usual haunts, Jing Fong, the growing line and approach of the busy noontime gong made me decide we'd try to go elsewhere. When Dan finally arrived--just at 12--we peeked into the little Michelin-rated place next door, but opted out when a guy waiting in line said it would probably run $20 a person--too much for dim sum!!! We slipped through the little passageway next to Jing Fong's entrance that leads to the Bowery, and we took a left so we could check out the line at Golden Bridge...but it was CLOSED! Well, so much for that acceptable option...

We wandered towards East Broadway to check out the line at Golden Unicorn (out the door!), and then to see if Nice Restaurant still existed (nope). Then I remembered...the place under the Manhattan Bridge. It was kind of greasy and not-so-great when I'd been there before, but that was at least ten years ago. Through the little mall and up the escalator, and there it was! No line, clean, fairly busy, lots of carts. We decided it was worth a try.

While it's not the best dim sum on Earth, it's definitely an acceptable option--especially if you're meeting people who resist heading out for dim sum before 11:30. It was different from what I remembered (considering the passage of time, perhaps there are new owners?) Everything was fresh and hot, and the service was amazingly friendly--we actually had a few fun interactions with some of the cart ladies.

The highlights were the steamed dumplings with pork, vegetables, and taro; the fresh taro cakes; and the mystery meat (probably pork) in a rich and sweet sauce, which we chose after one of our hilarious cart lady moments. There were a ton of other beautiful-looking things we didn't have the stomach space to try, so this place is definitely worth another visit...especially after the demise of our other recently-found no-line dim sum option... 

88 Palace, 88 East Broadway, inside the mall underneath the Manhattan Bridge.