Mexican Salad

So, it’s like the hottest day ever in New York.

For real.

We’re talking unbearably hot, humid and sticky.

The heat rises up from the pavement when you walk home from work and if you stand in one spot too long waiting for the light to change, your sandals can melt to the asphalt. No joke.

The last thing I want to do is walk into my sweltering apartment and turn on the stove.

But I’m hungry and want something substantial.

Enter: Mexican Salad.

IMG_1486

Cold lettuce, canned beans, rinsed and drained, canned corn, taco spice and creamy guacamole. Satisfying and refreshing dinner.

Start with shredded lettuce. I used iceberg because i wanted something really cold and crunchy.

IMG_1484

In a bowl mix pinto beans, black beans and corn and add a tablespoon or so of taco seasoning.

IMG_1483

Pile the bean mix and some guacamole on top of the lettuce. and voila! Dinner. No oven required.

IMG_1486

Pasta e Ceci

 

Wow. I’ve been gone for a while!

SO let me catch you up real quick. If you’ve been reading, you know I was very stressed and crazy busy with planning our wedding.

Well, now, the wedding’s over, the stress is gone and we have just returned from 2 weeks in Italy.

Which means that I have a ton of yummy meals that I need to try and recreate because Italy is a bit far when we have a craving.

One of our absolute favorite meals we had was not in a fancy restaurant. Okay, well actually it was in a fancy restaurant, but not on the restaurant’s menu. And not when the restaurant was open.

Let me explain.

My husband (still so weird to use that word) and I stayed at the beautiful Hotel Buco di Bacco in Positano. Yup. That’s the hotel. Right on the beach.

10402430_10100881727408110_3871313738932931559_n

Well, Buca di Bacco, like almost all of Positano, closes down in November and reopens around Easter. We were the last guests in the hotel for the season.

A few of the hotel employees mentioned a party to us. Come tomorrow night to the restaurant. We have an end of season party. They said. My husband and I looked at each other and said okay sure, thinking it would be a few people, a few bottles of wine and a few plates of food. It’ll be fun. We said. We can grab dinner after. We said.

Here’s a close up of the restaurant by the way. Don’t you just want to sir on the balcony and watch the boats roll in? That’s what we spent a lot of time doing!

10561788_10100881422698750_6923089330868208789_n

Well, the next day, we saw cases of wine being brought into the restaurant. A small party this was not going to be.

We walked into the restaurant which had been transformed, with tables pushed together into long, family style banks, with a very large table of antipasti off to the side. Oh and there was a band.

A small party this definitely was not.

Some of the food we had eaten at the restaurant during the course of our stay was on display, but also on the table were some local favorites. The down home food that is so good and so comforting, but that would never find its way onto a menu.

Pasta e ceci is one of those dishes.

Ceci is Italian for chick peas,

IMG_3903

So the dish is literally pasta and chick peas, and there really isn’t all that much more to it than that.

The chef actually came out to join the party and to talk to everyone, and when he told him we absolutely loved the pasta e ceci and asked him how to make it, he gave us a funny look. It’s pasta and chick peas. He said.

There is a bit more to it than that, but the dish is so simple and rustic and common in the area, that I think he couldn’t believe we talked to him about it and not some of the other delicacies (which were all delicious!)

Pasta e ceci is warm and comforting and filling. It is the perfect dish to curl up with by the fire, or to warm you after a chilly night by the Tyrrhenian Sea.

10353649_10100881423242660_3335719721003940077_n

So, for this dish, you will need

  • 1 small onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 2 cans of chick peas, rinsed and drained
  • chicken broth
  • some pasta (you want something small. This is a good way to use up some pasta that you have left over. The shapes don’t need to match. Break up lasagna noodles, mix with some farfalle, whatever you have on hand!)
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Drizzle olive oil in a large pot and add the onions, celery and garlic. Let these cook on low heat for about ten minutes.

IMG_3901

Add the rosemary sprig and let this cook on low for another 20 minutes. You want the vegetables to soften, but not brown.

IMG_3904

Remove the rosemary sprig and add the rinsed and drained chick peas

IMG_3905

Pour in enough chicken broth to cover the mixture (I used just shy of a 32oz container). Let this cook on low for about 30 minutes, uncovered.

IMG_3907

Now, using a slotted spoon, remove a few scoops of chick peas. It’s okay if you get some celery and onion. Set aside in a bowl.

IMG_3908

Using an immersion blender, puree the remaining contents of the pot.

IMG_3909

It’s going to look a little thin and soupy, but fear not.

IMG_3910

We’re going to add in our pasta, and the starches from the pasta will thicken this soup up into a hearty dish.

I used about 1/4 of a box of farfalle and 1/4 of a box of mini penne – that’s what I had in my cabinets.

IMG_3911

Add the chick peas you removed back into the pot and let the mixture cook for about 15 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked.

The starch from the pasta and the chick peas will create this rich, velvety, creamy sauce around the pasta noodles. This dish tastes like it’s loaded with butter and cream, but it’s really just the ceci doing all the work!

IMG_3912

Dish up in big bowls, and drizzle with a touch of olive oil before serving.

IMG_3915

If we close our eyes and take a bite, the New York City skyscrapers are replaced by the sun melting into the sea and the siren’s wails and beeping horns are transformed into the gentle hush of waves lapping the shore…

Korean BBQ

 

 

Gosh I’ve been a terrible blogger lately!

Largely because I’ve been a terrible cook lately.

Not that I’ve been making anything bad, but I’ve been making a lot of the same ol’ same ol’.

So today’s post is something new! Something we’ve never tried making before.

And (confession) something I didn’t make.

This delicious trip to Korea Town comes to you thanks to the hubster.

Korean BBQ is one of those amazing things everyone should experience. Meat and veggies brought to your table; you cook the meat at the table; you hang out with friends; you reek of Korean BBQ for days (in a good way!).

It’s also an amazingly delicious, fresh and healthy dinner option.

Think of it like tacos, but without the tortilla.

Follow me here. Marinated and grilled meat, some fresh veggie toppings, wrapped in a lettuce leaf.

A light and refreshing dinner packed with veggies.

We used hangar steak cut into small pieces then marinated in soy sauce, rice vinegar and garlic. I have no idea the amounts. He just goes for it.

The meat goes in a skillet or a griddle or a grill pan.

IMG_2937

And gets flipped halfway through the cooking process

IMG_2938

So that it gets nice and browned on both sides

IMG_2940

Apart from cooking the meat, there is little to do except set up your toppings.

Sliced radishes, shredded carrots, kimchi and bean sprouts were our choices.

IMG_2942

Set up taco, assembly line style.

Pile your lettuce cup full of meat and your veggies.

IMG_2946

And take a big bite!

IMG_2948

 

Quick Quesedillas

This is a non recipe recipe.

This is for one of those nights when you need something to eat super quickly and you really can’t be bothered with real cooking.

Or when you have hungry kids who need food immediately.

Or, for one of those nights when you come home from the bar and you can’t find a pizzeria and you need something to soak up the alcohol.

I’m not judging.

So I took a jar of salsa and mixed it with a can of rinsed and drained black beans.

IMG_2604

Put two tortillas on a foil-lined baking sheet.

IMG_2605

Spooned some of the bean and salsa mix on one of the tortillas

IMG_2606

Added some monterey jack cheese

IMG_2607

And popped it under the broiler for a few minutes

IMG_2608

Top with the naked tortilla.

IMG_2609

Slice into fourths.

IMG_2610

And nom.

IMG_2611

After school snack. Quick dinner. Sober-you-up food.

 

Shrimp Feta and Fennel

I’m still all blushy and glowy from all the love yesterday from the SITS community! You ladies all rock and I’m looking forward to taking the time to drop by all of your blogs.

After all the gushing about some of my recipes, I got a little nervous today.

Dinner tonight wasn’t just about me and my fiance. Now, it was about all of you, too.

I didn’t want to disappoint.

I opened up some of my favorite cookbooks and riffled through all the pages torn from magazines.

My palms started to sweat. I started twirling my hair. Bad signs.

And then, I went back and looked over some of the comments you all left me. And one really stood out. Mo at Mocadeaux (check out her blog here) wrote that she loves high impact and low effort recipes.

I started to breathe more evenly. High impact. Low effort. The hallmarks of itty bitty city kitchen cooking.

Then I remembered something the Barefoot Contessa made that we had wanted to try. A super simple, one pot meal that’s packed with high impact ingredients.

I have a tendency to discount any recipe that has more than 10 ingredients. I get overwhelmed. It gets expensive. And, o ¬†yea, I don’t have the space.

So dishes like this that rely on a few key, really good ingredients, are a standby.

You will need:

  • 1 pound of shrimp, peeled, tails on
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 1 28oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • feta

Preheat the oven to 400.

In an oven-safe shallowish pot or skillet, drizzle olive oil and add in the garlic and fennel. Cook over medium until softened.

IMG_1095

Pour in the diced tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and stir. I added a splash of Pastis to bring out the anise flavor. It’s not necessary. You can add a splash of white wine instead if you want. Totally up to you.

IMG_1096

Let the sauce cook and bubble for about 10 minutes so the flavors come together. Next up, the shrimp.

IMG_1097

I used one pound for the two of us. I also went with mediums. I noticed that the large have a tendency to come out tough sometimes.

Nest the shrimp, tails up, in with the tomatoes and fennel.

IMG_1098

Sprinkle the mixture liberally with Feta. Bake for 15 minutes.

IMG_1099

The shrimp will turn pink and be cooked perfectly. The fennel will still be slightly crunchy. The tomatoes will create a broth perfect for dunking the shrimp or the bread. And the feta adds the salty bite the dish needs.

IMG_1100

Spoon out into a bowl. Pick up a piece of shrimp, take a bite and then scoop a spoonful of tomato and fennel into your mouth. Grab a piece of crusty bread and soak up all of those anisey tomatoes juices.

IMG_1101

This is the perfect one pot meal for a Saturday night in.

Lazy eggs

So I had one of those days.

I had to be at work at 7.30 this morning for an early morning seminar we were hosting.

Let me repeat that. At 7.30 this morning, I had to be dressed, wide-eyed and ready to perkily greet the insane early birds who signed up for a 7.30 am seminar.

Needless to say, I wasn’t so perky when I got home.

By a gift from the gods, my boyfriend wasn’t coming home for dinner tonight.

Not that I don’t want to see him after a long day, and not that I don’t enjoy cooking to decompress after a long day.

But today was one of those days. When all I want to do is slather a hunk of crusty bread with butter and sit on the couch, bread in hand, with a glass of wine and then wash it all down with chocolate cake.

I already had the bread in the oven. Warm crust bread, butter melting into the air pockets, sips of red wine… I could taste it. The couch was calling me.

But no.

I can’t do that.

I’m an adult. And, as an adult, I know my body needs more than bread and wine.

Also as an adult I know that my body will be angry with me in the morning if I only feed it bread and wine.

So I opened the fridge and rummaged around.

Here’s what I make on the nights when I only want bread but know I need to feed myself more.

Drizzle some olive oil in a frying pan.

Take a handful or two of baby spinach, throw in the pan and turn the flame to medium.

Let the spinach wilt down and then push it to the side.

Crack two eggs in the space previously occupied by the spinach. The eggs will cook in the oil from the spinach and pick up a little bit of the fresh grassy flavor. Cooking eggs in olive oil also gives them these wonderful, brown crispy edged. The crunchy bits against the fluffy whites. Yum!

IMG_0457

I sometimes throw in another handful of spinach as the eggs cook. I tell myself that it’s so I get a nice textural difference in the spinach with some sauteed down and some still a little crisp. It’s about the texture. It sounds cheffy.

But, that would be a lie.

In truth, I suck at judging spinach. A giant pile of leaves cooks down to nothing. How am I supposed to know how much to put in the pan?

So more spinach in the pan if you desire. Cook the eggs as you like. I do sunny side up because i love cracking the yellow yolk over the vibrant green spinach, the goopy eggs mixing with the spinach.

Some black pepper. Some parmesan cheese (I tend to use this in place of salt, but feel free to salt away.)

Scoop the spinach onto a plate and slide the eggs on top.

Crusty bread, hot from the oven, butter, and a glass of wine.

The perfect meal to curl up on the couch with.

Hopefully my boyfriend will be home by the time I finish my wine, so he can cut me a piece of cake.