Monday, December 17, 2007

A cold Monday night dinner

After a day of running errands around town and freezin' me butt off it was time for a warm and tasty dinner. Off the subway and strolling home I stopped by the fish store to see what was what. Wanted an easy meal and simple flavors. Grabbed 1lb. sliced calamari rings and some aromatics from the grocer then an Italian bread from the baker on the corner. Back at home, put on some tunes and got to work.

Spicy Calamari over spaghetti with herb garlic bread. (based on leftovers and pantry items).
-1lb sliced calamari rinsed and in colander to drain.
-Into a medium pot with oil and saute: chopped red onion, mince 6 cloves garlic, 4 anchovies in salt. When wilted and aromatic add 1 cup white wine, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregeno.
-Add two 28oz cans diced tomato with liquid. Bring to boil and then a low simmer. Simmer 20 minutes.
-Add calamari, handful basil chiffonad and parsley, zest and juice 1 lemon.
- Check calamari after 3 minutes to see if it is just done. Adjust for salt, Fresh back pepper.
-Add 1 tablespoon butter and 1tablespoon olive oil.

Place cooked spaghetti on plate and ladle over some calamari and sauce. Garnish with lemon wedge.

Garlic bread made with mashed garlic cloves, fresh thyme, rosemary and oregeno. Mix with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Serve with white wine, extra napkins and basket of garlic bread. Light some candles and make wife happy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

1st post

The apartment is quiet. My wife is out skating with friends in the city. Learning how to use this thing but really reflecting on 15 yrs + in Astoria & the same amount of time cooking as a career. When I moved here it was a fluke and 2 months later I fell into catering for fashion shoots in NYC. Things changed.

At the time I had no idea how lucky I was. Astoria was where I slept. Had moved out here from Greenwich village because it was cheaper, MUCH cheaper. I knew nothing of the neighborhood other than it was quiet, diverse and NOT the city. I ignored it, plain and simple. What a shmuck. But hey, you live you learn. I had to start shopping for work. Exploring first the local supermarket (a dump) but then the surrounding blocks. Within 2 years I had moved to the 30th ave & Steinway street part of Astoria and that's when I fully realized what was here all along. Eventually I will add maps and links but for now let me tell you it was a chefs idea of heaven. The best butcher and fish monger in Queens were next to each other and 2 doors down from my apartment. They talked with me about their products, gave me recipes, became my vendors and great friends. Dave and Frank at the local Italian food shop showed me homemade mozzarella & pesto plus breads from a brick oven bakery in Brooklyn. The Big Greek shop a few blocks down had 16 varieties of feta cheese and an olive display.

Within blocks of my apartment you can find two 24 hr produce stands with abundant fresh stock direct from the Hunts point market, 3 butchers, 3 fish stores, 2 bread bakeries, 3 pastry shops, many cafes, Greek food shops, Bangladesh sweet shops, Multiple Arabic & Indian food stores and on and on. And the restaurants??? Fagettaboudit! At our cafes you can sip a frappe or coffee for 5 hours and no one will care. People stroll after a meal, The shop owners know who you are and ask about you family. It's like a village main street but a village in the midst of millions of people. And all just a hop skip and a jump from midtown Manhattan.

More to follow but now I am going to eat some left overs from yesterdays cooking. I bought some beef osso bucco and extra marrow bones from that butcher and made an Italian beef stew with orzo and Barberra wine. Very hearty. Used a bit of truffle butter to round out the sauce.