Friday, October 4, 2013

Rustic Breakfast

Hi everyone,

I had to stop myself from hipster trolling and adding "artisanal" into the title of this post. Everything in NYC these days is "artisanal," which really just means "someone made this" in 99% of the word's occurrences. Whether the following breakfast dish is artisanal or not, I'll leave to your judgment. My job here is to focus on the food, and hopefully make you want to try it out for yourself. It's really hard and takes a lot of practice (HAH).

It's been a long time since I talked about breakfast on my blog, but given that I'm a hungry morning person who needs a good breakfast, I think it's about time. I will say though, that as much as I love breakfast and eating in the morning, it's less for me about the breakfast foods than the fact that I can eat as soon as I wake up. When I was little and growing up with an amazing Puerto Rican mom who made amazing Puerto Rican food, my favorite breakfast was often last night's leftovers: pork chops, arroz y habichuelas, spicy spaghetti with Italian sausage, and more. So today's breakfast meal is not for the faint of gut. It's hearty, filling, and will definitely stick to your ribs in a very non-Chobani-and-granola kind of way. And it couldn't be more delicious. So behold, breakfast bread bowls:

A savory, cheesey, meaty, bready, delicious combination. What more do you need? THIS is the breakfast of champions! It's been over a year since I these, and I can't believe I've withheld them from y'all for so long! This is a great thing to make if you're having people overnight, or for a brunch gathering. You can prep several of the ingredients ahead of time so that you can just assemble in the morning--like a choose-your-own-adventure.

My college roommate and fellow eating enthusiast made this when we were going through the crazy week that was graduation. The dining halls were closed, and we decided to treat ourselves, so to speak. And what better way than this breakfast? (It was too early for wine.)

So, we took the T down to to the local Shaw's and picked up a few things the night before. You can use whatever you'd like in these bread bowls that you think will go well with bread and cheese and egg. So, EVERYTHING.

We chose:

2 small soup bowl bread rolls (they're roughly 6" in diameter)
Any green herb like basil or parsley for freshness
Onions (any)
Parmesan cheese

Being broke soon-to-be-graduates, we decided to skip tomatoes, though I would absolutely do some sliced cherry tomatoes if I did this again. She had frozen Italian meatballs in the freezer, so we decided to use those up, too. However, next time I make these I'm totally going to my local meat shop to get some handmade spicy Italian sausage. Yum!

39th & 9th

The actual making of these bowls takes a little bit of forethought, which naturally we thought about right before making. Recommended order is below:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350° before you start.  
  2. Cook up your onions, mushrooms, and meat (together in a pan is fine). Leave the mushrooms meat just cooked through so that they won't overcook in the oven.
  3. Slice the tops off your bread bowls about 3/4 of the way up, then carve out with a spoon. The spare bread could make good croutons or be used in a bread pudding. Just don't carve too much bread, otherwise you won't have much to absorb the amazing mix of juices that will come out when baking.
  4. Spread olive oil, salt, and pepper around the inside of the bread bowl.
  5.  Assemble your bread bowl as a mix, not as layers. You don't want all the meat at the bottom, or all the onions at the top. Similarly, sprinkle cheese throughout.
  6. Finish with a raw egg--it'll bake in the oven. Put it on top so that you can watch it to avoid overcooking.

Excavated bread

 This is generally how your bowl should look once it's assembled and ready for baking:

Then bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the egg is set up and your cheese has melted. As mentioned above, if you want to speed the prep, cook your onions, mushrooms, and meat the night before. That way, you can just assemble in the morning.
Et voilà! You have a tasty, tasty breakfast bread bowl! When we ate it, not only were we in food comas immediately after, but we at some point stopped eating the fillings and just started tearing into the bread bowl that had been soaked with all the delicious flavors of our fillings. Mmm-mmm-mmm. Happy eating!

Ambiguously artisanal, definitely delicious

Friday, June 14, 2013

Bucking Convention: Pesto


Today I'd like to talk about a food (perhaps more accurately a condiment?) known as pesto. It's an extremely polarizing, if innocuous, little green sauce that people seem to either love or hate. And when people hate it and I try to proclaim its virtues, they always give me this look:

"Ain't no such thing as good pesto."

Well, STANLEY, maybe you've never had good pesto, but I challenge you to try just one more! It's not your usual pesto because it's missing one key ingredient! Aren't you curious about what that is?


I guess not, because you're Stanley. But please, please just hear me out! This pesto doesn't have any BASIL and goes easy on the oil!


Do I have your attention yet? This pesto substitutes basil with Italian flat leaf parsley and adds oil as-needed! It gives it a strong flavor and lightens it up a lot, which are my two main complaints with pesto: first, it's often bland, second, it's usually just a little basil in a swimming pool of oil. Gross. 

Basil-lovers fear not--I'm not decrying basil as pesto. This version though will please everyone, and it's more cost effective too since it calls for walnuts, not pine nuts, to give it body and balance the parsley. The original recipe did call to toast the walnuts, but I think it hardly makes a difference! 

Parsley Parmesan Pesto


2 cups very tightly packed leaves of Italian flat leaf parsley
3/4 cups chopped walnuts
1/2-3/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese
3-4 large cloves of garlic (to taste)
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup of oil, adding more as needed

Put all ingredients except the oil in a food processor with a metal blade and pulse until combined, then add oil in a slow stream. Once combined, dip your spoon in for taste and consistency. Add more oil as needed, balancing with lemon and salt. Serve right away or freeze for up to 3 months. Delicious.

Before oil

After oil and processing. Yes, I love garlic.

What can you make with this yummy, scrumptious, lovely pesto? Here are a couple of ideas:

Shrimp, bell pepper, red onion, pesto pizza (crust from Trader Joe's for $1--about 4-5x what you see here)

Pesto Parmesan bowtie pasta. Mmmm, paaasta.

Unfortunately, I don't have the picture of the pasta I made on New Year's, which included turkey pesto meatballs, but en bref: mix pesto into raw turkey meat, add salt, and mix together with spatula and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 min).

If you give this pesto a try, let me know what you think of it versus regular pesto. I have never tried to make my own basil-based pesto, but I will say that for flavor and consistency I love Classico's pesto:

Classico Traditional Basil Pesto
Surprisingly, made by Heinz.

That's all for now folks. Hopefully I've given you some incentive to try a new form of pesto. Hopefully with Stanley, who is now headed straight home to make this pesto. Happy eating!


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Will the real spaghetti please stand up (please stand up)?

In the historic words of thought leader Eminem, "I'm BACK na-na-na-na-na-na-NA!"

"Did you miss me? Huh? Huh? HUH?!"

In the months since I last posted, I've celebrated my paper anniversary with New York City, moved apartments, shuffled roommates, been promoted, echoed as a new class graduated from Harvard, visited old friends, made new old friends, redefined my personal relationships, flown home at last, and overhauled my life. Throughout it all, I've cooked, eaten, drank, and lived. I want to share with you a little taste of what I've learned and how it flavors where I'm going.

I've certainly missed blogging, or sharing the food I love to cook with anyone who loves to eat. I've learned some new things since I've been away, and I hope to use them to tempt, beguile, entice, and inspire you to take them as yours and own your kitchen! Or at the very least, a mean enchilada.

What have I been up to--what's in store for you? Well, scroll on down and get excited for the good things to come!

Ok, please don't get this excited. Seriously, I can see you drooling from here.

A sneak peak of the eating which lies ahead:

That was just a small preview. Okay, yep, go ahead now:


No judgment this time--I promise! Stay tuned for regular meals and more oddball humor. Happy eating!