Black Truffle Omelette with Mushrooms and Chives
In several of his well-known paeans to Provence, Peter Mayle describes, both lyrically and at great length, his love affair with the black truffles of that region. Sometimes couched as a cloak-and-dagger chase involving bizarre and nervy rendez-vous’ along dimly-lit back roads, or illicit dealings with “men with dirt under their fingernails and yesterday’s garlic on their breath” in the shady recesses of the village cafe, Mayle often puts himself on the wrong side of the law in search of the prize he calls “the black gold of Provence”. All this is necessary, he maintains, because the price of “rabasses”, as they’re known in Provencale, is so astronomical – an assessment borne out by even the most casual google search (one ounce of black French winter truffles = $106).  Thankfully, we were able to pick up some cheaper, black summer truffles (£10 or $16 for two) in a London grocery store the last time we were there. Continue Reading »

Porcini Tortelloni with Brown Butter
“When the world turns its back on you, you turn your back on the world…”

Recently, I’ve been noticing many, many food blogs posting recipes utilizing a certain brand of pre-made “fresh” pastas: nothing like a Foodbuzz promo to bring the best out of the food bloggers. Many came up with very creative recipes using a store-bought, pre-made pasta (a difficult compromise for many hardcore pasta lovers). [In case you were wondering, no, Foodbuzz didn’t send us any Buitoni products, and yes, you do detect a hint of bitterness.] A prize of All-Clad Copper Core pots and pans is a pretty damn good prize to inspire the Sandra Lee in all of us. (An Aside: Speaking of Ms. Sandra Lee, has anyone seen that horrid “Kentucky GRILLED Chicken” commercial?  We wonder if she is going to take a bucket of that chicken, open up a bag of arugula, throw on some Seven Seas Italian Dressing, and then craft one of her cleverly-branded “tablescapes” featuring giant papier mâché heads of the Colonel?)

After seeing all these different recipes utilizing store-bought pasta (and upset at having been left-out of this Foodbuzz freebie), I was reminded that the average American still thinks that making homemade pasta isn’t possible, and I was determined to prove them wrong. Although I do understand that there is a time and a place for store-bought stuffed pasta and Semi-Homemade/Sandra Lee nights, I also believe that creating homemade, fresh, stuffed pasta is much, much easier than most people think. Continue Reading »

"Mixta" @ El Cuartito Pizza - Buenos Aires, Argentina

It’s fairly safe to say that no group, with the exception of the enigmatic gaucho, played as significant a role in defining Argentine national character as the Italians. Primarily (and principally, numerically-speaking) from Liguria (particularly Genoa), Piemonte and Tuscany, but latterly also from Naples and other areas of southern Italy, these Italian immigrants, literally by the million, descended on Argentine soil during the last decades of the 19th century and the inter-war period of the 20th century having a profound effect on the social, cultural, linguistic and gastronomic life of their adopted home. (bear with me, this is going somewhere)

And nowhere in Argentina was this impact greater than in the southern barrios of Buenos Aires, La Boca and San Telmo, the neighborhoods where these Italians began their new lives. A (then) new local slang, lunfardo – which not only features a highly confusing form of wordplay known as vesre that reverses words so tango becomes gotan (as in The Gotan Project) and cafe con leche becomes feca con chele, but which is also littered liberally with words taken from various Italian dialects (for example, laburar (to work) instead of trabajar, manyar (to eat) instead of comer) – grew out of this linguistic melting-pot. And it had a similar effect of Italicizing the Porteño diet with such Italian staples as pizza, pasta, gnocchi, and a variety of Genoese chickpea flatbread known locally as faína (similar to the famous farinata of Genoa we wrote about a while back) accompanying the ubiquitous steak and offal on restaurant menus.

Of course, (and paraphrasing Karl Marx) the Argetin-izing of these Italian staples was also just as much of a historical inevitability, and while we’ll revisit our experiences with Argentine pasta in a later post, the focus here is Argentine pizza, and in particular the Buenos Aires classic dish that is the fugazzetta. Continue Reading »

first bife de chorizo of the trip
We’re baaaack.  We had an excellent trip to South America and fell in love with Buenos Aires and the Porteños, as well Uruguay and its people. In the coming months, we will feature many posts about our trip including restaurant reviews, special meals we had, Argentinian and Uruguyan culture (including food culture), street food and, of course, we’ll be recreating some of the favorite traditional dishes we tried. 

Although the cuisine of both Buenos Aires and Montevideo, Uruguay, is delicious, it’s much more varied than most people may believe.  But, boy, one thing is true – they love, love, love, love, love their beef.  We ate beef eight days out of the ten we were there and learned so much about all the various cuts of beef served.  Needless to say, we’ll be eating salads for the next few weeks.  Activia is now our friend for the next two weeks, or at least until our digestive track is back on track. Continue Reading »

We apologize for being such horrid bloggers recently.  We’re over-worked, underpaid, stress to the nines and just all around exhausted.  Still waiting for the warmth of spring has made cooking uninspired – too warm to make winter meals, too cold to start busting out the pea shoots and grill.  We’re tired.  Very tired.  Even too tired to visit other blogs and write posts.  But, there’s finally an end in sight.

We’ll be back in a few weeks re-energized, well-rested and much, much fatter and inspired by cooking again.  We’ve avoided red meat for about 6 weeks now in anticipation for our upcoming trip.  Can you guess where we’ll be tonight?  Here’s a hint: Continue Reading »

Chicken Sopes with Black Beans and  Chipotle Sauce

During last fall’s McCain-Obama Presidential election season, TV channel Comedy Central’s website had a feature called “remember when you cared about…” which reprised some of the now (& then) farcical action from the previous Presidential campaigns of W. Bush and John Kerry. The 2004 race was my first such campaign-season as a resident of this country, and Comedy Central reminded me that my particular favorite of the farces that staggered me at the time, for no other reason than I found it to be among the most ridiculous things I’d ever heard, was the furore over coma-patient Terri Schiavo’s right to live/die. This tragic, though utterly irrelevant coincidence captured the moral outrage/derision of an entire country for a while, managing somehow to obfuscate the abject performance of the Bush administration’s first term, and win them a second. Continue Reading »

Cocido Madrileno

Many of European countries have a one-pot dish into which odds and ends of the beast and various cheap vegetables are thrown, and cooked until all components sit fall-apart tender in a rich broth. Examples include Lancashire hot-pot in the UK, the famed French pot-au-feu, and the various cocidos of Spain. Continue Reading »

Top 5 Herbs: The Winner


Asking you, dear readers, for your Top 5 fresh herbs was a way to help us think spring. This winter has honestly killed me. It has been one of the longest and, even today, only five days before the beginning of April, I’m about to put on my ugly, annoying, tired heavy coat on my ugly, annoying, tired, uber-white (my skin is almost clear at this point) body. Just leaving off a hat these days is making me happy. No gloves? I’m doing somersaults in the streets. Continue Reading »

Sadly, neither of the parents were prepared to show-up for this family portrait, but we managed to persuade some other willing citrus to be stand-ins for the occasion.

One day, not so long ago, a Jamaican grapefruit with a twinkle in his eye spied a sweet and winsome-looking tangerine. A couple of witty one-liners later, perhaps with the aid of one or more adult beverages, the grapefruit and the tangerine fell on each other with inevitable consequences. Several months later, to the dismay of the parents, rather than the beautiful offspring they were wishing for, a misshapen, thick-skinned brute emerged. Continue Reading »

Monkfish with Tangerine Almond Sauce

So, lately we’ve been experiencing a certain degree of apathy with regard to food. Maybe it’s the time of year or the grind of work, either way, it’s not a great place to be for us, and hopefully somewhere we will leave soon. Nonetheless, sometimes inspiration can strike, and delicious, seasonal citrus fruit can be the spark.

Now, I use the word inspiration somewhat liberally here because really, all this dish is, is lightly fried monkfish medallions over a mix of Israeli and regular couscous. The “inspired bit”, if you will, is the sauce, an olive oil, tangerine, and Marcona almond emulsion. Continue Reading »

Grilled Lamb Shoulder Chop with a Yogurt Herb Sauce and Grilled PitaThe contest has ended for this month. Come on back next month for a new “Top 5”! Check out Top 5 Herbs winner here.

Spring hasn’t exactly sprung yet here in Brooklyn. The trees are still bare and are showing no signs of sprouting anything. Even the crocuses, let alone the daffodils, remain mostly tuberly and dormant.

Nonetheless, there are some signs of the changing season as our long-suffering chives are poking through all bright green and soft, and our tough little tarragon plant is also making a comeback. And, it’s these weak, but brave, first signs that we’re clinging to in order to retain sanity at the end of what seems like a very long and cold winter. Continue Reading »

Duck Leg with Pear, Currant and Balsamic Sauce
Ever have one of those weekend nights that you just cannot figure out what to eat? It’s not because you’re not hungry or that you don’t really feel like cooking, but more because you’ve been lucky to have eaten so many diverse flavors throughout the week and just can’t get your tastebuds to want anything? Ok, maybe you haven’t, but last weekend we felt very disconnected to cooking and just couldn’t agree on what flavors we were desiring. We had eaten Indian, Japanese, Italian, Mexican and a steak that week. Anything with a soy, tomato, coriander or cumin-base was out. And then it hit us, we needed something savory and sweet and we needed some crispy-a$$ skin. Duck. Yes. We want duck. Pears, got some pears. Let’s do it. And so we came up with this fabulous meal. It was the type of meal that, while eating it, you just smiled and knew this was the only thing that would satisfy those discerning tastebuds.

This meal was fabulous and so easy to make. It could wow dinner guests and, if you can find some cheap legs, will cost next to nothing per plate.  Crispy skin, sweet sauce, creamy side dish – what else could you ask for? Continue Reading »

The 20th anniversary of The Simpsons is being celebrated soon, and our recent long-overdue trip to the dentist reminded me of one particular episode in which Lisa is persuaded to give in and get braces on her teeth just like all the other Springfield kids when she is shown the “Big Book of British Smiles.” Now, you can save your wise-cracks about British dentistry, because while I am prepared to defend my countrymen and say that British teeth are, in the same way as British food, improving rapidly, and it is in the American mind that many of the horrors of yesteryear live on (in both cases), I agree on the whole that Americans have the healthiest, whitest and most expensively tailored maws on the planet. Indeed, one recidivist snaggle-tooth aside, I have American orthodontics to thank for the fact that my smile is much less “British” than you might expect. Continue Reading »

Arroz Negro (Black Rice with Squid)
Those readers who’ve been following us for a while know (and, we hope, appreciate) that we frequently put our bodies and constitutions on the line for your benefit. Indeed, some of you may remember, that during our stay in Madrid last year, one of us, quite literally, pushed himself to breaking point in this endeavor. It was a valuable life-lesson that everyone has their limits – specifically, in this case, that one’s daily quota of pork products should not exceed the weight of one’s head.

And it was because of this humbling reminder of mortality that we were unable to visit a very tempting restaurant that lay just across Calle de Campomanes from our hotel (the curiously-titled Roommate Mario) in the Opera district of the city. Every day for a week, we walked (or, as our stay progressed, waddled) past this restaurant (it didn’t appear to have a name), re-reading and salivating at the names of dishes advertised on the sunshades overhanging the windows: paella marinera, paella bogavante, arroz al horno, paella valenciana, arroz atianda, and arroz negro. Continue Reading »

Pappardelle with Sausage and Pea Ragu
Around the same time we were asked to test-drive a rich, decadent cheesecake, we were also asked to try pasta from a company called Garofalo. Now, dear readers, I really hope you don’t think we would sell out and become a blog purely about taste-testing and dedicated to kissing bum to those who dare to send us free stuff.  We will not ever become that type of blog. We will always be willing to try free food stuff (I stress the word free) but we will never, and I repeat NEVER say good things about something we hate.  I will not lie about free food products we receive and would rather, instead, just not waste my time writing about it.  But this pasta test-drive ended up being a way different experience than I thought it would be. Continue Reading »

Octopus and Celery Salad

When you’re a busy modern executive, web-based home-delivery services like FreshDirect can help you save those precious minutes it takes to race around a supermarket and snatch a few items off the shelves. When you’re into food, web-based home-delivery services like FreshDirect can be like, well…, like the daily temptation faced by a Frenchman living next door to a brothel.

So, everytime a flyer comes through our door informing us that a $50 purchase means an additional $25 worth for free, we are briefly gallant in our efforts to fight the urge, before capitulating and ordering all manner of products on the spur of the moment. Amongst our knee-jerk purchases just prior to Christmas were four quails, six soft-shell crabs, an immodest hunk of jamon serrano, and three large octopii – none of which were called for by our festive menu. Continue Reading »

Ethiopian Spread - Homemade

Last week I had off from work for our “midwinter” break.  It wasn’t a very relaxing week but cooking, for me, is very relaxing. Five hours of cooking can actually be quite relaxing as well.  And that’s what happened when I decided to take on the challenge that Joan of Foodalogue put in front of her readers – create a dish from Ethiopia.  I made six Ethiopian dishes and ingredients and, yes, it took me five hours to create all of it.  But, in the end it was all worth it.

Ethiopian cuisine is one that I have only recently become acquainted with and when I first tasted it, I was hooked.  While researching for this post I realized how little is out there on this fabulous cuisine.  Anthonly Bourdain recently said that he believed Ethiopian food would be the next big trend in eating and I have to agree that it should be.  It’s delicious, communal, flavorful, fun to eat and relatively healthy (except the ridiculously high amount of butter used in the dishes).  We’ll see if his prediction is correct.  I mean how can you go wrong when all you have to eat with is your hands and some deliciously sour, sponge and crepe-like bread called injera?

Continue Reading »

Papas Arrugandas with Mojo Rojo and Mojo Picon
Over a year ago when we were in Madrid, Spain we had two dining experiences that were particularly memorable. They were memorable because these were the spots we ended up just doing an eenie-meenie-minee-moe way to pick it. Sometimes those restaurants, the type that involve zero research or reading of reviews, that end up being the best.  The first experience we chronicled on this here blog many moons ago, but the other one has not reared its head until now.  Luckily for us, that day we stumbled upon the only true and authentic Canarian restaurant in Madrid – El Escaldon. Continue Reading »

Heavenly Valentine's Day Junior's Cheesecake
This V-day was a very special one. Not only did it fall on a Saturday so we had all day to show our love and appreciation to each other, but we were psyched to share our love in the presence of a free, beautiful Chocolate Ganache Heart Cheesecake from Junior’s Cheesecakes in Brooklyn. When I didn’t think our love could be any stronger, polishing off a huge chunk of this rich, decadent, delicious cake proved that we can make it through anything together. Even when I rolled around on the floor in “over-stuffed” agony and whined that I ate too much Junior’s, my man was there to sympathize with me, even offering to hold my hair back if I felt the need to vomit. What a guy… what a Valentines Day. Continue Reading »

Tagliatelle Neri con Nastri della Pastinaca (Black Tagliatelle with Parsnip Ribbons)

In my opinion, infectious enthusiasm should be treated in exactly the same way as all infectious diseases; i.e. quashed ruthlessly with whatever combination of chemicals is necessary. With that statement out there, it’s probably unnecessary to further outline my feelings towards TV’s favorite, lovable faux-Cockney, Jamie Oliver. However, and as I have referred to in at least one other post, I grudgingly concede that he can cook, so from time to time – against my better judgment – I find myself thinking I should try some of his food…

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Pan Seared Trout Topped w/ Crispy Shiitake with Parsnip Puree and Roasted Veg

How many times can one person write the word crispy in one post title? Guess five times was enough.  Now how many times can one person write crispy within a post? Word count at the end of this post – I know you’ll be on the edge of your computer chair. Seriously, the other night I was craving crispy like something fierce!  I didn’t want fried chicken crispy or thincrust pizza crispy, but I wanted that delicate balance between baby food smooth and crunchy/crispy. Am I loosing you yet, folks?  Does anyone ever have this craving? Well, my craving was quelled by this fabulous mix of fish that was pan seared until the skin went super crispy (the trick? get all the moisture off your fish by patting it dry with paper towels and running your knife against the skin to remove any excess moisture and then putting it in a hot pan that is immediately turned to medium once the fish hits it skin side down), laid on a bed of creamy parsnip puree and sprinkled with all sorts of roasted vegetables. Continue Reading »

charlotteswebI think in this case, the real winner here is the almighty pig.  There is nothing not delicious about this animal. From its ears to its snout to its lovely trotters, every single bit of this animal is edible and useable.  Pig is the number one reason I would never, ever be able to go vegetarian.  I’ve tasted its sweet nectar and can never go back.  Even though I am rereading Charlotte’s Web right now (I know, real cerebral – and thank you to whichever Brooklynite decided to leave this out on your stoop for anyone to take), I have more respect and admiration for the pig than ever before. Not even the cuteness that is Wilbur could turn me away from eating pork. 

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This podcast is an interview with our friend and native Colombian Juan Camilo Osorio covering not just the Colombian restaurant – Cositas Ricas – we visited together, but also some background on Colombian food and how it is eaten.

Some readers may remember back in the early fall when we posted about Bandeja Paisa, the gut-busting combination platter that has (inaccurately) been called the national dish of Colombia. Embarrasingly, though we had done plenty of online research about the many constituent parts of this dish, we had not eaten it at what can honestly be described as an authentic Colombian restaurant. So, on a freezing afternoon in January, in the esteemed company of our friend and guide Juan Camilo Osorio – a native Colombian from Bogota, now living in Queens, and three other friends, we set out to make amends. Continue Reading »

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
– William Wordsworth, 1802

The term formative experience refers to an incident encountered when young that shapes an individual’s character later in life, hence Wordsworth’s assertion above that “the child is father of the man”. During my late teens and early twenties, I was very heavily involved in the sport of lacrosse. So much so, in fact, that I earned what I thought at the time to be the distinct honor of representing my country at successive European championships. The first of these tournaments held in Dusseldorf, Germany, was sponsored by the two companies responsible for the, then, new and exciting combination of Absolut Vodka and Red Bull, and, at the tournament’s conclusion, there was a winner’s banquet, also sponsored by said beverage purveyors. It will surprise few who know anything about national boozing proclivities, to learn that throughout the evening my victorious England team and I proceeded to become, shall we say, well refreshed. Continue Reading »

Pappardelle with Porcini Sauce
So, class, welcome to your first day of Cooking 101.  Today’s lesson is sauces.  First sauce, velouté.  What is a velouté you ask?  Well, don’t ask a Frenchman because they’re likely to laugh in your face, spit on you for your ignorance and then leave you without any pride or dignity (or answers either).  Velouté is one of the four original French “Mutha Sauces”, along with Béchamel, Hollandaise and Espagnole and is created by combining a roux (flour and butter) along with stock (usually chicken or veal). Continue Reading »

Bandeja Paisa

Anyone who takes even the briefest glance at our body of work on this blog cannot fail to notice that we have a definite proclivity towards the porcine, and so it is that this top five is perhaps the most hotly contested monthly selection thus far.

The pig is, in our humble opinion, the greatest animal on earth, and picking only five products made from its wondrous bounty was a difficult thing. Beatific smiles spread across our faces as we considered our porky love and suggested different products and cuts of the beast, but, after much debate, a surprising consensus form between us, with only two points of disagreement.

Let us know what your favorite pork products are and win a package of pork-related kitchen Bandeja Paisagoodies.

Amy & Jonny’s Top Five Pork Products:
1. guanciale (cured pig’s jowls) – Jonny: switch out for Spanish cured lomo
2. chorizo (pimenton flavored cured sausage)
3. jamon iberico (special Spanish ham)
4. chicharrones (fried pork rinds)
5. scrapple (a Philadelphia tradition made with lots of bits of pig and cornmeal) – Jonny: switch out for unsmoked English back bacon rashers

Patacones with Guacamole and Morcilla/Chorizo/Black Beans

What’s originally from India, can be green or yellow, starchy or sweet, is consumed throughout West Africa, the Caribbean, and Central & South America, and (best of all) can be used to mimic a phallus in hilarious kitchen antics? Yes, that’s right, it’s the plantain – aka banana plantain, cooking plantain, beer banana, bocadillo plantain, tostones, maduro, patacon, chifle, dodo, etc. – and like almost all the best kinds of foods (to us at least) it is most deliciously prepared deep-fried.

Throughout the Caribbean, Central America and the northern half of South America, starchy green plantains, aka patacones or tostones, are one of the principal components of almost every meal, and, depending on where you are and who is doing the cooking, you’ll find them sliced into rounds (Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic), cut on the bias to make wedges (Honduras, Cuba), or sliced length-wise into, well, long, um, sausages (Venezuela, Colombia, Jamaica, Trinidad)… Continue Reading »

Sunday Gravy

They (we) call it a Sunday Gravy because it really suits a Sunday best.  The long simmering, the wine drinking, the letting-it-sit-on-the-stove-till-the-family-arrives kind of gravy.  Thanks to the Sopranos, people all over the world have heard of Sunday Gravy. Some scratch their heads in wonder as to why some call it sauce and others call it gravy.  It’s a hotly debated topic but, in essence, this “stew” of veal necks, sausage, pork ribs, bracciole, pigs feet, etc. should always be called a gravy over a sauce. It requires long and slow cooking and is flavored by the meat, hence it is technically a gravy. Friend of the blog, Joe, at Italyville has a wonderful post on this debate and I’d recommend all who are still confused to check it out. Continue Reading »

File this one under “utter fabrications told to you by older sibling and believed for too long”. I must have been very young when my sister (15 months my senior) informed me that I should be wary of eating my grandmother’s suet dumplings because suet was the gooey material supporting bovine eye-balls. Quite where she got this idea from, I’m not sure, but she seemed to believe it and, as a credulous juvenile, so did I. And so convinced was I, that until some brief research yesterday proved her to have been telling porkies, I had held it up as truth for the intervening 25 years or so. Why I found her a credible source about this I have no idea – she’s been a vegetarian since the age of 12, and an extremely picky eater before that.

Suet is, in fact, raw beef fat that is typically from around the animals’ kidney or loin area, and while that may not be a much less appetizing prospect than eye-socket, it certainly helps explain why it should be used in the preparation of a traditional British dumpling. It’s basically a firm kind of lard that melts perfectly at the relatively low temperatures found on top of a stew, which is where a British dumpling is typically found. Continue Reading »

Perhaps the day that both our teams (Manchester United & Philadelphia Eagles) won unlikely decisive victories in the realm of competitive sports, is the best day to dwell on the recent personal glory of our seafood soufflés staying up. However – even if (quite sensibly) you don’t give a rat’s ass about sports – anyone who has tried making them before knows the all-too-brief satisfaction of the fully puffed soufflé, and, though, we’ve experienced the saddening deflation of failure, we now also know the pride and joy that is a fully erect soufflé.

And, lest you think that we traded our heroes for ghosts, this was none other than a snorting, full-on multi-fish and cheese souffle that not only satisfied our desire for classic French cookery, but provided much-needed stomach-lining on a day that required some serious daytime drinking. Continue Reading »

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