Archive for the ‘Lunch’ Category

Pizza in the East Village

06 April 2012
Let the pizza be our canvas.

"Let the pizza be our canvas"

 

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been hungry but thought that pizza wasn’t a good idea. From Saint Louis-style wafer-thin cracker crust to Chicago deep dish to the traditional thin crust cooked in a coal-fired oven, I love them all. One of my favorite stops for a great lunch is at the tiny East Village (12th St @ 1st Ave) outpost of Brooklyn’s Motorino. (note: Motorino’s Brooklyn outpost is currently closed due to building issues. They are looking for a new locati0n in the same neighborhood.) 

$12 gets you a salad of mixed greens and a pizza — wine not included — a fantastic deal in a place where lunch can easily set you back $75 (admittedly, you can get something cheaper at Papaya Dog up the street, but it’s not pizza, and those $1 slices you see around town are typically garbage).

My favorite pizza at Motorino right now is the Soppressata Piccante: a crispy outside, chewy inside crust topped with red sauce, fior di latte (a type of mozzarella), spicy soppressata, chili flakes, garlic, and herbs. Paired with a couple bistro glasses of Gragnano (a semi-sparkling red wine from Naples), it’s a perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon.

Soppressata Picante

Soppressata Picante

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Monday Green Board: Tomato Mushroom Soup

21 February 2011

First, an announcement … Sunday Green Board is hereby known as Monday Green Board. First reason is that Sundays are getting too busy for me right now to both prepare a special vegetarian dish and then get it into a post that evening. The next reason is to align with the current Meatless Mondays movement. I may not agree with them on some things, but I’m all for health, and people eating more vegetables is a good thing.

This week we have another damned soup, and to be honest I feel slightly upset about it, but it’s what I came up with yesterday so that’s what we’re working with. If you are sensing a theme right now, and you think that theme may have something to do with winter comfort food with Italian-American influences, then you would be right. Bring on Spring already, we’ve suffered enough.

Exhibit A: this week’s Tomato Mushroom Soup. You will need:

Tomato Mushroom Soup

Tomato Mushroom Soup

  • sea or kosher salt, freshly cracked pepper, and good extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter
  • at least two dozen crimini mushrooms, the larger ones sliced thick (~1/2 inch)
  • six sprigs fresh thyme, substituting dried if you need to
  • medium sized zucchini, peel and diced, seeded if necessary
  • 1/2 yellow onion, roughly diced
  • 1 T fresh oregano, substituting dried if you need to (reduce the amount accordingly)
  • 1/3 cup good quality port
  • 28 ounce can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes … the Italian ones, not the American ones named San Marzano, unless that’s all you have … crushed by hand, with the basil leaf removed, and WITH the juice
  • flat leaf parsley and freshly grated pecorino romano or parmesan

The preparation this week takes place in two stages: first we cook the mushrooms so they retain their shape and texture, and then we cook the stuff that makes the soup, adding the mushrooms back at the end right before garnishing. Another thing to note is that this soup doesn’t require stock, which is a nice time saver when you’ve used your reserves and won’t make more until the weekend.

  1. Heat the butter and a tablespoon of oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, add the thyme sprigs and mushrooms, toss, and cook for around 4 minutes, until the mushrooms have released some liquid and have shrunken a bit. You want them to remain meaty.
  2. Remove the mushrooms and stash away in a bowl. Add the onions and zucchini and continue to cook, stirring occasionally. If you need to add more oil, do so.
  3. After around four minutes, remove the thyme stalks. Many of the thyme leaves will have come off — this is what you want, just remove the woody bits. Add the oregano and continue to cook.
  4. About 8 to 10 minutes later, when the onion and zucchini start to brown, deglaze the pan with the port, transfer the entire thing to a stock pot, and return to the heat.
  5. Add the tomatoes (and juice) and one can (the same San Marzano can) of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Using a stick blender, food processor, or regular blender, working in batches of you need to, turn the contents of the pot into soup. The texture can be a bit rustic, you just don’t want any chunks of zucchini or tomato left over.
  7. Turn off the burner, and season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. A splash of hot sauce wouldn’t hurt here, just don’t go overboard, this is about earth, not heat.
  8. Return the mushrooms to the soup. The residual heat will bring them back to temperature.
  9. Dish the soup into bowls and garnish with the parsley and cheese. Drizzle olive oil over the top and serve with some good crusty bread. If you feel luxurious, use truffle oil.

You should have enough for four people, and this keeps quite well in the fridge. Enjoy, and share your hints and tips no Twitter, Facebook, or here on the web site.

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Light Lunch: Leftovers Salad

07 February 2011

The concept is simple: use what you already have before it’s too late.  The benefits are that you feel thrifty, creative, and healthy.

Pasta and Green Leaf Lettuce Salad with Red Peppers, Onions, and Chicken

Leftovers Salad: Pasta and Green Leaf Lettuce Salad with Red Peppers, Onions, and Chicken

We had leftover roast chicken, green leaf lettuce, a red bell pepper, a red onion, a lemon, and some cooked farfalle. We covered the bottom of a salad bowl with the pasta and dressed it with some extra virgin olive oil and white wine vinegar. We washed the lettuce and tore it into reasonably-sized pieces and heaped it over the pasta. We washed, cored, and seeded the red pepper, sliced both it and the onion into thin rings, and placed it on top of the lettuce. Next, we removed the breast from the (cold) chicken, sliced / tore it into 1/4″ strips, and placed it on top. Finally, we hit it with some kosher salt and white pepper, and squeezed a nice portion of lemon juice over the whole thing. Toss and enjoy, ten minutes start to finish.

We all hate waste — what clever techniques do you use for dealing with leftovers?

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Roasted Red Pepper Bisque

01 February 2011

As mentioned previously, roasted red peppers are a thing of beauty, and so is this simple bisque … soup, if you must … provided by Humboldt Kitchen’s “Currently Residing in the State of Missouri” contingent, known simply as R. I am hoping he will forgive the tweaks I made to augment his comforting, elegant, and wonderfully silky roasted red pepper bisque.

But first … a follow up to the roasting of red peppers question … I tried out a few different ways this evening, and for a home kitchen, I think the simplest and least messy of the lot is to preheat your oven to 500 degrees, stem and seed the peppers, slice them once so you can “unroll” them, and trim off the bitter white “ribs.” Lay them out, skin side up, on a sheet pan, and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, checking every ten minutes or so that they aren’t burning or sticking. When the skin is sufficiently charred, put them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. When they’ve cooled enough to handle, pull off the skin with your fingers. Done.

The following recipe makes around 5 quarts … one pint per punter gets you 10 servings. In case you don’t have that many at your table, you can refrigerate this for a couple days and freeze it for longer.

On to the show …

Roasted Red Pepper Bisque

Roasted Red Pepper Bisque

  • 14 ounces chicken stock or broth (Homemade? GREAT! In a container? No worries, this is soup, just make sure you avoid MSG and too much salt. If you can heat some up and it smells and tastes good, hopefully a bit bland, it’ll be fine.)
  • 2 (or 3) roasted red bell peppers
  • 1/4 white or yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 8 tablespoons (half a stick) butter
  • 1 large russet or other high starch potato; cleaned, peeled, and chopped into 1 inch chunks
  • 2 cups heavy cream … yup, 2 cups. Yup, heavy.
  • kosher or sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • chopped chives or (the green part of) green onions (1 tablespoon per serving)
  • some thinly sliced crimini mushrooms (2 per serving)
  • some slices of baguette (3 per serving) with butter to spread
  • enough cheddar cheese to cover the bread
  • black pepper for the croutons

OK … you don’t need to use white pepper, you can use normal old black peppercorns, but I like the white here because there won’t be any brown specks interfering with the smooth and gentle texture and color of the bisque.

Now the fun part …

  1. Put a stock pot over medium heat. When hot, add the butter and let it cook until it melts, and then foams. As the foam subsides, add the onions and sweat them until translucent. Take care not to brown the onions or the butter.
  2. Add the potatoes, peppers, chicken stock, and a pinch or two each of salt and white pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for half an hour. The potatoes should be very soft.
  3. Add the cream, stir, bring back to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every so often to keep things honest. 🙂
  4. Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor (in batches if necessary) and puree, or better yet, break out the stick blender and process the mixture into a smooth, silky bisque. Remove from the heat and cover.
  5. Butter the bread slices and top with cheese. Give each of them a twist of black pepper. Toast in a toaster oven or under a broiler until the cheese melts.
  6. If you’re in the mood, “mount” the bisque with butter and plate into serving bowls. If you don’t know what “mount” means in this context, keep reading Humboldt Kitchen, ignore that part, and just ladle the soup into your serving bowls.
  7. Place three of the cheese croutons around the rim of each bowl, and sprinkle some green onions and crimini mushrooms in the center of the bowls. A cynic might drizzle a little truffle oil over the top, or maybe some nice cheese.
  8. Serve with some mixed greens and vinaigrette on the side, and perhaps some crusty bread for when the croutons run out, and you’re done. Eat.

Please keep in mind that this is FAR from a diet dish … that cream and butter will add up in the calorie and fat department, so portion accordingly.

Feel free to send R your comments via the website, Twitter, or Facebook, but above all, enjoy!

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