Sunday, September 30, 2012

I think I have a Dave-ager...

It may be possible that I've met and married not only the love of my life, but someone who talks as much as I do (Yes, do!). And with my amazing husband in the restaurant business, this quality comes in very handy in dealing with the public. 

So last week while he was at work, Dave starting talking to some ladies that were in for lunch.  The ladies, looking for somewhere new to try asked Dave where likes to go to eat when he isn't working...(it really is a common question asked to waiters) and Dave mentions Left Coast Kitchen and that I had blogged about it here... 

Dave gave them my blog address and they asked what kind of blog I wrote...
(while he knew about it from my telling him about some posts, he hadn't been back to read it since the first post...Shame on you Dave...but I'll forgive you because...) he described that I do my own restaurant reviews, but that I also post the recipes that I like to make.

"Your wife likes to cook?" the Newsday Food Reporter asked, "Would she be interested in submitting a recipe for us?"  She was in Vittorio's and reviewed the lunch they had (see it here).

Of course, Dave said yes...calls me and tells me...and I thought - OK, that is awfully nice, but really, nothing will come of it (that's my luck!).

Oh - the very next morning, they called! It took less than a week to submit a recipe, have a phone interview and a photographer come to the house and take some pictures!  So in Sunday's Newsday, you'll see my recipe and I in print!

Dave says he wants 10%....Um, its not a paid gig.
Dave says its the start, he got it for me, so he's claiming his percentage up front...

I have a Dave-ager. 

For Representation, call Dave

Anyway folks... Here are my "Baby Wellingtons"! 

First - make the horseradish sauce... at least a few hours ahead of time so the flavors have time to 'marry'. =)

3/4 of a cup of Mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of whole grain mustard
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of horseradish (I like it spicy...if you don't - do about 1/2 a tablespoon)
4ish tablespoons of sour cream
a touch of salt

Mix together and let sit while you prepare the Welli's

Ingredients needed:

3 tablespoons of Olive Oil
2 pounds of beef*, cut into 24 cubes about 1 inch each
  * I use my favorite cut of beef here - rib eye or sirloin...but you can use any cut you choose...tenderloin is most popular
1/4 cup of flour
1 package of baby Bella mushrooms (minced)
1 large shallot
2 cloves of Garlic *note:  I always add more garlic than a recipe says...I think I used 4!
1 tsp each of fresh thyme and rosemary
1 tbs of butter
1/4 cup of a dry red wine (Cab or Merlot)
2 sheets of puff pastry - thawed
1 egg beaten
Salt and Pepper to taste

Trim/cut the beef into cubes then put into the freezer for 20 minutes.

Take the beef out of the freezer, pat dry - season with salt and pepper and coat very lightly with flour.

In a large pan over medium high heat, heat up 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Sear the beef on top and bottom until golden - about 2 minutes in each side.  Remove from the pan and put on a plate to cool.

In the food processor - pulse the baby Bella mushrooms until finely minced. 

Then, finely chop the garlic and the shallot, as well as chop up your thyme and rosemary.

In that same pan that you browned the beef, add rest of the olive oil as well as the butter to melt. Then add your garlic - cook for about a minute and then add the shallot.

Cook for about 5 minutes, until the shallot is translucent and then add your mushrooms, salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary - Stir to combine and cook on a medium heat for about 6 minutes. 

Then add the red wine
and cook until the wine has reduced and the mixture is moist, but not overly saturated.

Remove from the heat and cool.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and coat a baking sheet very lightly with olive oil or non stick spray (or - as I did, for easy clean up, line the baking sheet with parchment paper!).

Flour your cutting board or work surface and roll out (separately) the sheets of puff pastry to be about 10 by 14.  (There is no exact science to this...and as you can see by the picture below, most often times I can't get it straight or at 10 x 14 either... just go with what feels comfortable.)
Place a teaspoon of the Mushroom mixture on the pastry - evenly spacing them in 3 rows of 4 (or as I did, 3 rows of 3!) and top that with a piece of your beef. 

Cut the pastry into even squares around the meat/mushroom mixture, pull each side up to completely surround the beef and make a pastry packet. 
Seam side down, put that on your baking sheet and brush with the beaten egg.
Bake until golden brown - about 20-25 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

I also love the versatility of this dish - I've done it with loin of pork for Pork Wellingtons...and for my vegetarian friends... I'll make Veggie Welli's by replacing the beef with Portobello Mushrooms and Zucchini. 

I'd love to see how to do it with shrimp or scallops - but I think I'll change the mushroom mixture into something with  Leeks...  to be continued... :)

If you're on Long Island...pick up Sunday's Newsday...It should be in the Life & Style section!

Off to AZ with my visit a few more SOC's (sisters of choice)...I'll tell you about it next time!

Until Next Time...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pisser Clams and Sunsets

As this weather turns colder, its almost time to say good bye to an old favorite of ours... Nicky's on the Bay in the Bayshore Marina will be closing in a few weeks. 

Yes, they will be open again next year - and yes, you can always go to Nicky's Clam Bar during the off season... but Nicky's (on the Bay) holds a very special place in my heart!

My family has been going to Nicky's for years, so I have many happy memories there, including the wonderful night that Dave first asked my parents permission and then got down on one knee in front of my parents and family and asked me to marry him! 

So let me tell you about the meal we had at Nicky's's pretty much a staple for Dave and I - about 90% of the time, we order the exact same thing!  Why?  Well, you just can't get better steamers around, that's why!

For our appetizer, I ordered the Seafood Bisque and Dave ordered the Corn Chowder...and we got a salad to share.

Just add pepper - and a few Oyster Crackers!

 One day, I should ask what they put in their Homemade Seafood Bisque that makes it so darn pink...but I will tell you that other than needing a bit of fresh cracked pepper - the soup is delicious.  It is full of seafood - every bite has a sweet, delicate flavor of shrimp, crab meat and lobster with just the right amount of creamy goodness to not overpower the seafood flavor!

How delicious a colorful, simple salad can be! Great with their Bleu Cheese or Balsamic Vinaigrette!

A soup of the Day that should be a menu regular!

This Corn Chowder is so creamy, chunky and sweet!  The corn flavor is undoubtedly the star of this dish, complimented by the other vegetables...A bowl of this would be a meal in itself!

Let's move on to the entree course! My regular order at Nicky's is the Sauteed Scallops Oreganata... Fresh bay scallops sauteed in a garlic and wine sauce with breadcrumbs
Dave eats the Cajun Fries with his entree!
(Ok, yes - I tend to order scallops when ever I go out, as this is the one thing that when I cook at home, just don't taste the same...I need a scallop intervention!)

These sweet tiny scallops pack a punch of sweet ocean flavor that is only enhanced by the garlic and wine sauce...Let some of the bread crumbs fall into the sauce for a thicker version - and I always top it with lots of fresh lemon to brighten the scallop flavor.  I swear there are enough scallops here for two people!

But the real - honest to goodness - real reason we go to Nicky's...why my family goes to Nicky's too...and why we like to meet there all summer long (other than the outdoor atmosphere right on the Great South Bay) is for these babies:
Steamers!  (on the menu they claim "tastiest steamers on the island served with our famous broth and drawn butter)...

I love to dip them in the broth and then the butter - but there are some who think the butter is totally unnecessary!
Yes, friends - they can take this claim to the bank - these are the best steamers out there and that broth is drinkable.  No Dad and my Husband both do drink the broth!
We ordered the 'half order' of medium steamers...but they do sell them in full orders...and you can choose whether you like small, medium or large steamers.  I'd prefer small, Dave likes medium, and I think only my Dad likes the large ones!

Either way, these succulent little pisser clams <as we used to call them as kids> are amazing. They are tender and slightly sweet and basically are a burst of the ocean in your mouth.

Now...dessert.  You will learn that I'm not a dessert person - but Dave is.  We ordered the Home made Key Lime Pie...

and THIS is a dessert I could get in to!!  The graham cracker crust is so buttery and delicious, and is the perfect compliment to the smooth, tart custard. At first bite, you do pucker just a bit, but for someone who likes tart as much as I do - its simply perfect!  I dig right in with out the whipped cream, but Dave needs that sweetness to balance out the tart.  A pie so good, that I'd go back just for that!

(Ok.  I'm lying...I couldn't go to Nicky's with out getting the steamers...and I have had their mussels too, which are very good!)

Go.  Get Some.  Honestly, you won't be disappointed.  And you just may get a gorgeous view and sunset in the process!
So, my ratings:

Food: a very strong B+  (perhaps I can give it an A when I try more than just my usual dishes!)

Prices: Moderate.  Appetizers, soups and salads range from $6 to $20; Entrees start at $20 and are plentiful.

Service: B - in the height of the season, it can get a little crazy and backed up, but that is to be expected due to the location and popularity.  Regardless, the staff is attentive to the guests, clean up quick and are very friendly.

Until Next Time...

Oh...stay tuned...I'm making a little recipe which I'll post here on Sunday...
(or you can read about it in Newsday's Life & Style: Who's Cooking!)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Yes, its ALL about CHEESE

If I were lost on a deserted island and could choose one thing to have with me…it would be cheese.  No, not just one specific kind of cheese as I don’t discriminate;  It would be all types of cheese… hard cheeses, soft cheeses, the really stinky kinds of cheeses, the creamiest of cheeses – Yes, I want them all there.  

(I say that without offending Dave, as I know he’ll always come for me…he told me so – he even put it in his wedding vows!  So at least while I’m lost, I’ll have my cheese.)

So, what happens when you go to the farmers market to get some amazing pickles? 

Well, in Emily-verse – you come back with cheese too.

I’ll get to that in a minute, but have to give a shout out to Hormans Best Pickles  … Yes, I do agree that they are the best pickles! I'm a huge fan of their Horseradish pickles…and a new fan of their Red Flannel pickles.  Try them if you get a chance! 

Ok, back to the cheese! About two years ago or so I discovered Burrata and fell in love! I mean, what's better than Fresh Mozzarella, right?  Not much, I know!  But here it is folks...Burrata is better than Fresh Mozzarella!!

What is Burrata you ask?  It's a fresh Italian cheese that is made from mozzarella and cream.  It has an outter 'shell' of solid mozzarella and inside is mozzarella bits and cream.

So, I buy some from the ravioli people (as I did promise to do a post on Burrata in my Drunkin Onion Sauce post!) with the thought to make my Zucchini Carpaccio for dinner to night and eat the Burrata with it. 

Well - lets just say that plan flew right out the window as I was driving back from the Farmers Market!

Yes, I ended up eating it for lunch!

I had a yummy salad with some of the BEST balsamic vinaigrette from Mama's put that on a plate with my Burrata...and yes, I couldn't resist drizzling the vinaigrette on the cheese as well! 

Yes, my friends - it is as delicious as it looks!  Its creamy, luxuriously thick center has such a rich and buttery* flavor and such a fresh milkiness... this cheese is absolutely decadent! 
*aptly described, as Burrata means 'buttered' in Italian!

I don't get to eat it very often...for one - its mostly sold in specialty stores like Fairway and Uncle Guisippe's - and you know I'm not allowed to go in there.  Secondly, it is on the slightly expensive side (as are most good cheeses) at about $10 each. And third, its so rich and unciously really do gain about three pounds just looking at it.

One day, when I own my very own Gourmet Cheese Shop (so then it won't matter to me at all if Dave won't let me go into my favorite stores) I will say Burrata just may be the first cheese I make sure I carry! 

So, welcome to my lunch...the only thing that would have made this any better would be an icy cold glass of a crisp Pinot Grigio and your company, of course! (However, they frown upon drinking at clue why, really...=)

And...welcome to the first of what will be probably be (too) many posts about Cheese!

Until Next Time...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Can't make Salmon in Jail

Costco…it really is a wonderful place for someone who’s as food obsessed as I am.  I love to go early in the morning when hardly anyone is there and browse the different sections and see what they’ve got…produce, meats, fish, and OH!  The cheeses there are pretty decent (not gourmet-but definitely cheaper than the grocery store!) Dave hasn’t banned (*) me yet from Costco, so this selection is all I get to play with.  In the long run – it really is a money saver so long as you have a food saver with this family of two.
* My husband has banned me from going into the fun shops, like Ivarone Brothers, Fairway, Uncle Giuseppe’s, Whole Foods etc…simply because on slightly more than one occasion, I’ve walked out of those stores spending <what is, in his opinion> more than humanly possible on cheese; and maybe a small bottle of 25 year old aged balsamic vinegar that was good enough to drink on its own but turned the plain old strawberry into an erotic experience.  It’s NOT FAIR! I don’t prevent him from his meat…why is it fair that I don’t get the same budget for my cheese??  And NO, Dave – I don’t care that the meat you will buy will last for several meals…My cheese will last for several snacks, meals and meal accompaniments – therefore I should get more than your meat budget for my cheeses as it’s so much more versatile! Case Closed!  Who wants to go to shopping this weekend! ;)

 Back to Costco…it turns into my worst nightmare when you have to run there on a weekend…at 1pm…just to get a few things.  Regardless that you’ll always walk out of there spending way much more money than you planned; the anger and aggravation at the stupid people who don’t even know how to drive their shopping carts (and then know they are the same stupid people you’ll have to dodge in the parking lot!) is just too much to handle!
·       NO – don’t just leave your shopping cart in the middle of the aisle, blocking people walking behind you to go look at something!
·       In fact – DON’T JUST STOP short knowing that you have people behind you, making me stop short to avoid running over you to in turn get run over by the other idiot not paying attention behind me.
·       NO – you don’t walk up the middle of the aisle, swaying side to side so no one can get around you while you walk slower than my Grandma!
·       Put those kids IN the cart, this isn’t Kids Run Wild…I will run over them.
·       You may NOT run me down just to grab the hot what ever they’re giving away for free…there are MANY on the tray, you’ll get one, pig.
·       And so help me <whatever higher power you believe in>, if you dare try to cut in line – you’ll see me flip my lid.

You will begin to learn how much I really hate people…most especially in crowds…and especially around food. 

I did manage to leave the store with out physically hitting a child driving a shopping cart, a little old lady (not the cute kind), an annoyingly loud woman with animals for kids, a man who clearly didn’t want to be there either and was just in the way and the person who caused me to now have scrapes on the back of my ankle (ah, every hear of saying sorry, bitch?).

Mentally, I ran them all down and smashed my foot on their hands as I did it…but I made it out alive and with out getting arrested for assault.

Except, I needed a large Valium when I got home.

But since I don’t even have a prescription for Valium, I needed a large glass of wine at least.

I braved all of this for you – friends, so I could share my salmon recipe with you!  Ok, yes, I did it for me and the dinner I’m having tonight…but it makes me feel better to know that I’m not in jail (you’d bail me out, right?) and you’ll get a great recipe!

So the meal tonight is:

Salmon in Butter-Dijon, White wine sauce with Roasted Asparagus

This meal is so simple…honestly.  First, I’ll take the Asparagus  - snap one off at the end to guide where you will cut cut off the ends – this way you have the most tender part of the vegetable. 

I’d love to be all chef-y and tell you ‘save the ends for vegetable stock or soup’ … and you certainly can, but I just usually throw them away.

I place them in a zip-loc bag and add:

2 heaping tablespoons of Classico Pesto (I told you I love this stuff)
A thick drizzle of Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar (if I had to guess, about ¼ cup ish)
Salt and Pepper to taste

I put this all in the fridge to marinate – 30 minutes or so.  It will go on a baking sheet (line it with foil…less clean up!) and put it in a 375-degree oven (at the same time as the salmon) until just tender…maybe 20 minutes or so…but I start checking at 15. 

Salmon wise – the Costco salmon comes with three fillets and three balls of herbed butter.  If Dave were home and he decided he wanted to eat salmon, I’d usually make all three…one for me, one for him and one for the kids…but Dave isn’t a huge cooked Salmon fan (though he will eat it this way!) so I usually make it when he’s working. 

I’ll separately wrap the other two-with their butter-in the Glad Cling Wrap to get as much air out as possible and freeze them.  I generally eat one the following week and then the next, as I don’t like to keep fish in the freezer for too long.

So, I’ll put the filllet in a roasting pan (if I do all three – I cook it in the container it comes it!)…I season it with a bit of salt and pepper and leave about ½ of the butter ball that it comes with on it. 

I then splash it with a touch of dry White Wine and place it in the oven at 375 degrees – this will take about 20 minutes. Cook the salmon to the desired level of doneness.  I need to eat my salmon cooked completely through (so that is this suggested time) but if you prefer a medium rare salmon, by all means adjust your cooking time).  

While that’s cooking, I’ll put into a small sauté pan (on medium low heat):

A small clove of garlic, minced
Some minced shallot (about 1 tablespoon worth)
The other ½ of the butter ball from the salmon
A bit of olive oil

I’ll sauté that until the garlic starts to turn slightly golden and the shallots are translucent. 
I’ll then add a heaping tablespoon of Dijon mustard and a large glug of white wine…(guessing about ¼ a cup)…and a bit of salt and pepper to taste. 

I usually go by taste here…once I mix it together if it needs more wine or more Dijon or salt and pepper, then just add it!  If I have it in the house, I’ll add a splash of fresh lemon juice for some brightness, but it’s not necessary.

When the salmon is done (when the temp is at 145ish degrees)...the asparagus should be done as well...remove from the oven. 
I remove it and put on a plate – then drain any left over sauce from the roasting pan into the sauté pan with the sauce. Simmer for about 2 minutes more and if the mustard hasn’t thickened the sauce to your liking, you can always add a touch of corn starch as a thickener.

Drizzle the sauce on the salmon – add some asparagus to the plate…done!


Enjoy friends…this is a delicious dish!

Until Next Time…

From Appetizer to Entree

Sunday was Mom and Kristy’s Birthday…Woo-Hoo!  Happy Birthday to them! 

 It was also the Jets vs. Steelers – and you’ll come to know in this house (and in my brothers) we’re Jets fans.  Know what that means?  Yup – Mom got to celebrate her birthday watching the Jets game.

We had a tailgate party at Andy and Elena’s house!  Elena sure does know how to throw a spread – there was so much food to pick on during the game! 

Dave and I contributed Hot Wings and Stuffed Mushrooms.  Since Dave made the wings, he can write about it…I’m here to tell you about my stuffed mushrooms!   

Ingredient List:

3 containers of white mushrooms – trying to get them all medium sized
½ of a medium onion, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Olive Oil
Classico Pesto
Parmesan Cheese
Mascarpone Cheese
3 links of sweet Italian sausage, remove casings
1 large bag of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
Pork Rinds (or if you’re not on a carb free diet – bread crumbs!)
Red Pepper Flake
Salt and Pepper to taste

First, I’m going to make my “bread crumbs” for this dish…Dave is currently going carb free, so rather than breadcrumbs I’m making what I call ‘Dave Crumbs’. 

In my food processor, I put in one large bag of Pork Rinds (yes, I know they sound gross…and eating them plain, they are gross…but we’re adding flavor and you’d never know the difference mixed in the recipe!) along with a large tablespoon of Classico Pesto and a large handful or two of Parmesan Cheese.  Give that a whirl until it’s all combine and put into a zip loc bag.


In a sauté pan, on medium heat – add a drizzle of olive oil and break up your sausage and add to the pan.  You’ll want to brown the sausage about ½ way through before adding the vegetables… so while that is cooking:

 Put into a food processor your garlic first (mince then remove) and then your onion (same direction) and set aside. 


Remove all the caps from your mushrooms stems…put the caps on a baking sheet (that has been coated in olive oil) and add the stems to the processor.  If you have any damaged mushrooms, or ones that are too small – throw them in the processor as well.

Add your onion and garlic to the now slightly browned sausage along with a pinch of Red Pepper Flake; some salt and pepper to taste (Keep it light on the salt, as you’ll be getting enough from the Parm that we’re adding too).  


Brake up your sausage as you stir as you want small slightly larger than pea size pieces; and while the onions get soft, pulse your mushroom stems until finely minced.  Add to the heated pan along with a heaping tablespoon of the Classico Pesto and combine.  You’ll sauté this for about 8-10 minutes to soften and cook the mushroom mixture. 

 Then, add in your very well drained chopped spinach...
 And then the container of Mascarpone cheese, a handful of Parmesan Cheese as well as two handfuls of the Dave Crumb mixture. Combine this mixture over the heat…if you feel its too loose, add more of the “bread crumbs” or if you feel its to dense you can add a splash of chicken stock to loosen it up.

Take off the heat and set aside to cool.  Once cool to the touch – spoon into the mushroom caps.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the mushroom caps have softened and the filling starts to brown.

Now…The really cool thing about this dish…is how easily it can be turned into an entrée!

This is how I would do it…

Instead of 3 containers of white mushrooms – I’d buy 1 container of Baby Bella mushrooms and then a package of 4 Portobello mushrooms.

You’ll mince the whole package of the Baby Bella’s along with the stems of the Portobello mushrooms in the food processor…  (some people <me> rather the ribs of the Portobello to be scraped out, so just use a spoon and do so).

Everything else remains the same!  Then you stuff the Portobello’s, bake them for 20-30 minutes (or until the Portobello becomes soft).

I’d serve this with a salad, but it would be hearty enough for a lovely early autumn meal!

Try it out, my friends…whether it’s an appetizer or an entrée – it’s delicious!

Now...I can't close this blog with out mentioning Elena's 'Smores Cupcakes she made to celebrate Mom's birthday...they were DELICIOUS!!!  She got the recipe off of Pinterest - Now - I'm not much of a baker, but even I want to make these!  I'll post that recipe soon...but Look at them!!

Until Next Time…