When I decided to put this blog together whenever that was, I made a list of things that would be part and parcel of the postings, items I had made for the beach, stuff I put together for last minute cocktails on the roof in Brooklyn, things that were easy to make and didn’t require a lot of ingredients or fussiness.
Fast forward to “the siege”. In my pantry, I had two things for a post I was going to do back a bit, but my husband became ill and then time just got away from me. Tonight, two safe friends who live in the building but are staying out of town currently are coming for dinner. They need to come back to Brooklyn for MD appointments. Actually I think they are stir crazy and want to come in to be somewhere else, but I digress. Normally I would make a nice dinner but they begged me for takeaway Chinese food, and on GrubHub I have actually found a restaurant I like, so Chinese it is. But a menu from the 60’s to be sure, House Chop Suey, Egg Rolls, Fried Rice, Shrimp and Lobster Sauce, Egg Foo Young, Spare Ribs, the quintessential non Chinese, Chinese take out from King Wah we had growing in Huntington Station. I am sure my Chinese-American friends are cringing at the thought of calling this “Chinese”, but those items are like Chicken Parmiggiano to an Italian-American. They don’t make it in the old country, but it sure is good eats if prepared well.
So for this “retro” Chinese dinner, I decided to pull out the two items to have with our cocktail hour. I give you:
Cube the spam, place in skillet, brown well, top with pineapple chunk, and add a cute toothpick. End of recipe, end of story. Want to jazz it up? Add a strip of Nori and call it Hawaiian Sushi. World’s easiest and most retro nibble, perfect for the craziest of times.
Now for the retro cocktail? I’ll take Manhattans……..
I actually forgot to post this piece. So I am posting it today. It isn’t Super Bowl Sunday, but the bread is still makable! Enjoy, albeit a bit late.
So tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday (in addition to the hubster’s Big Big birthday and the 2 year anniversary of my retirement). I am having the usual suspects for the day and had planned on getting an large Italian hero (kind of like the hubster) as part of the menu. It just seemed like too much of too much which is something I am a star at doing, but then I remembered that my brother makes Prosciutto Bread at the drop of a hat so I consulted with him and between his (read mommy’s) recipe and my insistence of jazzing up every recipe I see, I decided to give it a try. After all, the ingredients can be found in any Italian deli and are generally added to every hero worthy of the name. Plus it has the added benefit of not having all the hams and such drop out of the sandwich with every bite. One more added benefit, if the meats are not your thing, just use the cheese, peppers and olives and give it your own spin! If you are still stumped on what to bring or serve at your Super Bowl gig, try this.
I am using a basic bread dough recipe that works for me, use whichever you are comfortable. In addition, you can certainly go to your local market and purchase pre made dough. However, your ingredients will not rise with the bread so keep that in mind when making. Just fold them in when you are ready to add. I have 1/4 pound prosciutto, 1/4 pound capicollo, 1/4 pound provolone, some homemade roasted peppers and some chopped green pimento stuffed olives. Understand that this is what I am using. If you want to change up the items, please do. More or less of one or the other is ok. Just don’t overload because too much of anything is overwhelming and also makes the bread very salty. Be mindful of using too much cheese as it may leak out and burn. For finishing, you will need an egg beaten with some water and some grated Parmigiano Reggiano to sprinkle on top. The egg will give gloss. The cheese will give crunch. You can also sprinkle, albeit very lightly, some flaky sea salt
To start, chop the meats into small pieces. I used the food processor and pulsed a few times. If you have purchased the provolone in a piece, grate it, if in slices, do the same as the meats. Chop or process the olives and leave the peppers in slices but dry as much as possible. Set all aside. Assemble the bread ingredients according to your recipe. **Directions for store bought dough will be down the page.**
If using a machine with a dough hook, drop the meat, the cheese, and the olives along with the flour and knead all together until fully incorporated. If using a food processor, proceed the same way. If doing by hand, God bless you, just work all into the dough as you knead. DO NOT ADD THE PEPPERS. Set dough aside to proof according to your recipe (generally 1 1/2-2 hours). Trick on when dough ready-touch the side, if indention remains, dough proofed. Punch dough down, knead slightly, and set aside again for about an hour for a second rise.
Now you are ready to form. You can either make a ring or just a loaf depending on what your mood is. **Flatten the dough into a rectangle. If you are using store bought dough, this is when you add your meats, cheese, olives and peppers. If you have made your dough, this is when you add your roasted peppers. With the long side of the dough facing you, place your peppers (meats, cheese,olives) along the middle of the dough piece. Fold the top third of the dough down towards the center and encase the ingredient(s) that you are adding. Then fold the bottom of the dough up covering all. Roll the loaf over so that the seam side is on the bottom. Now form into the shape you want. Place on a parchment or Silpat lined sheet pan, cover with a towel and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, brush the top of the dough with egg wash and then sprinkle with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Make a slit along the top. Put into oven and bake for 35 minutes. Start checking after that, if loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, bread is done. Let cool on rack before serving. If serving next day, allow the bread to cool completely before encasing in plastic wrap.
Eat with your favorite Super Bowl beverage. Cross your fingers crossed that stupid numbers like 2 and 8 (yes, can you say safety?) in the pools come in. Leftovers can be frozen (but there probably won’t be any). Numbers like 2 and 8? There’s always next year.
With the holidays fast approaching, especially Christmas Eve, the Mother of all Fish Meals, this recipe is quick, easy, and great to transport for a last minute show stopper for Friendsgiving or even Brunch. I call it Cheater Oysters Rockefeller. It was developed over Manhattans and dinner with my dear friends MD and AF while eating some creamed spinach from our favorite butcher, DellaPietra in Brooklyn Heights. For ingredients for four persons as a starter (3 per person), you need a dozen oysters, 12 Tablespoons of the aforementioned creamed spinach, grated Pecorino Romano (or Parmigiano Reggiano if that is what you have), and a splash of Pernod or Sambuca or even fennel seed or fennel pollen if you have for that taste of sweetness and licorice.
To prepare, heat your over to 500. You will be steaming the oysters open but not cooking them through. Cover a sheet pan with aluminum foil and crunch in spots to make a small pocket for the oysters to save the liquor that may seep out, you will want to use that later. Place the oysters on the sheet pan rounded side down and let them cook in the oven until the flat top starts to separate from the bottom; watch carefully, this only takes a few minutes. Take them out as this happens so that early openers don’t overcook. Let cool until you can handle, I use a potholder for this step, and pry the top from the bottom. When all are opened, pour any oyster liquor into a bowl and place the oysters back their shells. Usually the top comes off without the oyster attached, but if that does not happen, just scrape it off with a knife and place into the shell. This step requires a bit of patience if the tops don’t pop easily. Just work at them gently and they will open. I have an oyster knife but it isn’t necessary, use whatever you think will make the job easier for you. Even a flat head screwdriver works. Add any liquor that may have accumulated in the pan to the reserved juices and strain to remove any nasty shell bits that may have come off. Remove the tinfoil and replace with a new piece and cover that with a wire pan grate. Next, add the liquor to the creamed spinach and also add the splash of Pernod (or a pinch of ground fennel or fennel pollen) and salt and pepper to taste. You can preheat the spinach if you want but I don’t find that a necessary step. Spread each oyster to cover the entire opening with about a tablespoon of spinach and place on the wire grate. Top all with the grated cheese to your liking (isn’t more better?) and place back into the oven until the cheese is melted and the spinach warm.
If you are making to transport, place the shells, oysters, juice and spinach in separate containers and combine just before heating.
Serve, maybe with a glass of champagne? After all, it is the holidays and they are called Oysters Rockefeller!
Did you know that tomatoes are called love apples in some circles? What better day for this great recipe that is a riff on something I saw in Milk Street Magazine, and it comes together in under an hour. It is perfect for your pre Valentine’s Day dinner aperitivi. It utilizes those pint sized containers of grape or cherry tomatoes that are always around and gives them an elevated status beyond a toss in for a salad. For one pint of tomatoes (a container), you will need 2 cloves of peeled and smashed garlic, 4 Tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of salt, 1/4 teaspoon sugar, a bay leaf, and 1/2 cup of water. In a heavy duty pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat and add the garlic. Cook until the garlic is golden, about a minute. Add the remainder of the ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until all the tomatoes have burst, about 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the tomatoes from sticking. After all have burst, reduce heat and continue to cook another 15-20 minutes until the mixture resembles a thick sauce. The oil will come to the top and at that point the mixture is cooked. Set aside to cool. It will continue to thicken. Serve on a slice of good toasted bread for a take on bruschetta with a bit of basil and there you have it. Gluten Free? Just use your favorite gluten free loaf. Or add to an endive leaf. Don’t forget the champagne and a kiss. Happy Valentine’s Day!