Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sloppy Joes a la Schnipper's

The recent post season baseball schedule has fueled lots of gut bomb recipes in my brain. Everything seemed to come together on a cold, rainy night and a friend coming over to watch the Yankees game. I decided to make something that would be reminiscent of our childhoods but kicked up a notch (as Emeril would say)! My brain couldn't forget the pictures of Schnipper's sloppy joe and mac n cheese combo. I've never been there so I don't know how their food tastes. But I do know how to make sloppy joes and mac n cheese. My brain storm led me to collect the first few ingredients: milk, tomato paste, ketchup, a can of crushed tomatoes, pasta, Worcestershire sauce, and some cheese. As for the fresh ingredients: chopped onions, garlic, green bell peppers, and habanero pepper. Sautee the onions and bell peppers in oil with salt and pepper until softened. In a separate pot, start a roux for the cheese sauce. I went and used one of my previously frozen roux balls. I melted it down with a little extra butter. When that's melted, add whole milk and bring to boil. This allows to the roux to fully thicken the sauce. When the veggies are softened, add garlic, and habanero. Sautee briefly then add ground beef. Cook until browned. Then add your sauce: tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, and ketchup. Cook until the sauce is thickened. Taste for seasoning. When the milk has boiled, add the shredded cheese and cook until melted. Some cooked and drained pasta. Add the cheese sauce to the pasta and mix thoroughly. Some nice hearty hamburger buns for the sandwiches. On a toasted bun, the sloppy joe first, then the mac n cheese on top. This is a messy but glorious sandwich. It reminds me of my childhood. The sweet, savory meat with a little kick from the habanero. And the creamy mac n cheese that makes it ever more decadent. Thanks, Schnipper's for the great ideas on comfort food. Schnipper's Quality Kitchen 620 8th Ave New York, NY 10018 (212) 921-2400 schnippers.com Read more...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Banana Muffins

What do you do when you have an overly ripe and gross looking banana? Well, I certainly won't eat it. I like my bananas that just ripened to a bright yellow. Anyway, the answer is banana bread. But in my case of just 1 banana, I made banana muffins. Since I only had 1 banana, I halved the recipe. So I creamed 1/2 cup of sugar with 1/2 stick (4 Tbsp) of softened butter. Add one large egg. It should look something like this now once everything is incorporated. Make sure to scrape the bottom and sides. Mash up your banana with 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and 1/2 Tbsp of milk. Add a splash of vanilla extract if you like. I like the additional flavor. Add to your sugar and butter mixture until well incorporated. Measure out 1 cup of flour with 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp of baking soda. Don't forget you 1/2 tsp of salt. Mix until incorporated with the banana mixture. Now you should have a nice and thick batter. This is enough for 6 muffins. I lined my tray with paper. You could grease them up if you like. Then into the oven at 325 degrees for about 30-35 minutes. I kept my muffins in too long. You could tell that the tops are too brown. They turned out slightly dry. But good thing that I'm not showing these off to any one. They're just for me! A nice little home baked treat! I forgot where I got this recipe from. I've had it for years. I would say maybe a decade. It's reliable when I don't leave them in for that long. Ack, it's good to pay attention to your oven. Read more...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dinner at Home with Lioni's

While in Brooklyn, Mr. Meat & Potatoes and I like to stock up on some goodies from local shops. We went back to Lioni's but not for their amazing sandwiches but for their products and butcher shop. The first thing on his mind was the slab bacon we saw last time. He wanted it and there was nothing that would stop it. We opted for 6 slices. Two for now, two for later, and two as a present to my sister and family. A quick look at the bacon and it was sliced much thicker than I had originally thought. I was picturing Peter Luger's bacon. So as a test, I resliced one and left the other one whole. Into a hot pan on medium to render some of the fat and to cook it slowly. When I thought it was fully cooked through, I cranked up the heat to get a nice caramelization and crispiness on the outside. The thick piece turned out to be more juicy while the thinner pieces were more crispy. It's personal choice here when it comes to cooking the bacon. Either you like crispy bacon or not. I also had some leftover pork chop pieces that I marinated in soy sauce. I decided to cook these up too in some of the bacon fat. They turned out nice and brown and crispy. The flavor from the soy sauce was really good. I call them pork nuggets. We also grabbed a stick of dry sweet sausage then we sliced at home. You can ask them to slice it on their machine if you like. Also, a ball of smoked mozzarella. We were so impressed by the mozzarella last time that we had to get it again. A beautiful presentation and a feast. The sausage was delicious. The flavors were really good. The cheese stayed pretty soft even though it was in the fridge overnight. The smokiness was nice but we both loved the creaminess of the original fresh mozzarella. Lastly, we picked up a rice ball. It was different from what I was used to. The outside was crunchy (nice), and the inside was nice and creamy but mostly cheesy. It reminded me of mac and cheese. But it was rice and cheese. The stuffing inside was ground beef. This was good but I've had better. And the only healthy thing of our meal (requested by me), some green grapes. It's always nice to have some kind of fruit to refresh the palate when eating a platter of cured meats and cheeses. Yes, this was some major artery clogging, weight gaining, heart stopping food. Good thing we both go to the gym. And this isn't our normal diet. Health aside, what a delicious meal! Lioni Latticini, Inc. 7803 15th Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11228 (718) 232-1166 ‎ lionimozzarella.com Read more...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

King Star Restaurant

Not too long ago, Diamond on Eighth had changed its name to King Star Restaurant. Originally, it was called Jade Palace. It's not uncommon for Chinese places to switch ownership several times leading to changing of names several times too. On a recent night, we headed out to dinner. Three other places were packed and had no seating for our party of 5. So we ended up at King Star. While we were there, they filled up too. After we ordered from the menu, they brought us some complimentary soup. It's meat and vegetable soup. It's made from boiling down lots of pork meat and bones with vegetables to get this savory and flavorful soup. Some places just add MSG for flavor. The better ones actually work hard on this. Was this place a better one? Hard to tell but I was really thirsty later on. We started off with an order of jellyfish. It's marinated in sesame oil and chili oil. It's definitely an acquired taste. It's slimy but with a slight crunch. I like it and so does the whole family. Next up, some chicken. This is fried garlic chicken. This chicken is usually precooked. Then they throw it in to fry and crisp up the skin. Lastly, they add some fried garlic on top. The flavor is really strong. And the skin is super crispy. The fat had rendered off. Some half dried squid sauteed with garlic chives. The squid is half dried to intensify the flavor. But it's only half dried to prevent a stringiness. The garlic chives are strong in their own natural flavor. Here we have some salt and pepper pork chops. Though it was mostly deep fried with fried garlic on top again. I think it was over fried. It wasn't dry but the crispy outside was too crispy. And some lovely lobster. Lightly coated then fried ending with a quick stir fry with ginger and scallions. Two lobsters per order. Lastly some sauteed pea shoots with garlic. It's hard to make this at home because you'd have to pick the mostly gentle pea shoots and use a very high heat. Chinese dinners always end with two desserts: oranges that weren't sour but didn't have much flavor either. And red bean soup. It's a dessert soup that has been sweetened with sugar but the base of it is red bean. Sometimes you'll find tapioca in there. This whole meal plus 5 bowls of rice cost $91.25. It was more than enough to feed 5 adults. The food was okay and definitely enough to grant another visit. But with so many other places in Sunset Park, why settle for mediocre? King Star Restaurant 6022 8th Ave Brooklyn, NY 11220 (718) 492-6888‎ Read more...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lunch Week 30: Pesto Brown Rice with Roasted Vegetables and Tuna

So every Sunday, I head over to the kitchen to whip up a big batch of food for lunch next week. Yes, I brown bag. And I almost always do it, unless I become too busy to even buy cold cuts from the deli. I do it for several reasons being health, finance, and laziness. Now, you may think that spending hours on a day off to prep and cook five meals at once is hardly lazy. But let me remind you, I hate it when the time comes to decide what to eat for lunch every day. I work in Midtown so the choices are endless. My problem, the more choices, the harder it is for me. So it's much easier for me to have my lunch ready and already decided. So my lunch for the week: Pesto Brown Rice with Roasted Vegetables and Tuna Healthy is the idea for lunch this week. I packed this week's dish full of vegetables and very lean protein (tuna). Also, I added some brown rice for filling and carbs. So I start off my chopping up a bunch of different vegetables. You can use whatever you like to eat. Just make sure they're remotely cut the same size for even roasting. A little salt, pepper, and oil mixed all into a baking sheet and into the oven at 375 degrees for 1 hour. Halfway through the roasting, you would want to mix the vegetables a little in order to get even cooking. While that roasts, I cooked up some brown rice. I always cook rice in an electronic cooker. It's truly one of the best set-it-and-forget-it gadgets. Brown rice calls for lots of water. A quick note: servings of brown rice is usually smaller because they're much more filling. Also, use stock instead of water for extra flavor. And while the rice cooks and the vegetables roast, I prepared my tuna steaks. I love buying fish in bulk. It's not the freshest fish you can get but I'm not eating them right away. Usually, I like my tuna steaks rare but this is going into a rice dish so it's going to be fully cooked. A little salt and pepper and into a hot pan with oil. Sear until it's browned on both sides and the middle is cooked through. This will take a couple of minutes. A good way to test when meat is well done is to press on it with your finger or spatula. When it's hard and doesn't really bounce back, then it's fully cooked through. A little rest and I chopped it into bite sizes pieces. Surprisingly not dry at all. The vegetables are nice and cooked with a slight char. Throw everything together at the end. I added a little pesto to the rice for some extra flavor. But not too much to overpower the flavor if the vegetables. Lastly, some freshly chopped scallions for some freshness. And everything is done. Be sure to mix too violently or you'll break up the tuna. The dish is pretty filling. With the vegetables, they're really flavorful. The rice works well with the pesto and lets this dish become a little hearty. The tuna is good but is overpowered in flavor by the other components. However, the texture comes out and is welcomed. This dish wouldn't be as good without some kind of protein. In the end, not one of my favorites but good enough for being healthy. Read more...