Tag Archives: Italian

A Brief Hiatus plus Giant Chicken Parm

pizza parm
Happy Friday, friends! My day job has been so chaotic lately that I’ve been running home every night to my beloved DVR boyfriend and eating myself to happy until 9pm when I slink off to bed. And to top it all off I’m going to London next week! I’ve never been, but I do know I love British Special K (trust me, it’s different) and British candy so I’ll be leaving some room in my suitcase for treats.

In the meantime, a quick recommendation for a midtown (yes, midtown) Manhattan restaurant. I know. You’re speechless.

Quality Italian (57th Street and 6th Avenue) is a steakhouse that serves an incredible special: chicken parmesan for two (it fed us three girls with some leftover), served like a pizza. I know, you thought that photo was a pizza. It’s not. It’s a GIANT portion of chicken parmesan, perfectly crisped up with a little arugula salad with parmesan beneath it. Let’s just call it: magical.

The spot looks so swanky, you might be intimidated to enter – don’t be. It’s only been open 3 weeks so you might not be able to score a reservation but my friends and I sat upstairs in the lounge and were treated impeccably. We ordered one glass of wine each and the manager gifted us with a second round on him. Everyone on the staff was attentive and congenial and the food was fresh and delicious. What more can you ask for in midtown? Not a whole lot.

The only note I can give you on the negative side is that it is a bit pricey. The chicken parmesan claims to feed 2, at $26 per person. It fed 3 of us but $52 still seems a bit steep to me. Just know before you go.

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Roasted Cauliflower Salad


This is a salad that I tasted for the first time at one of my favorite restaurants in New York, Otto. My only hang up is that the original calls for olives, which I loathe. When I made this I left the olives out but you could easily chop up and add 16 Kalamata olives during the last step to make it a truly authentic Mediterranean dish.

On the menu:
Roasted cauliflower salad
Serves 4 as a side

1 large head of cauliflower (around 3 lbs)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp capers
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
Salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with foil.

Clean stem and leaves off of the head of cauliflower. Chop cauliflower into bite sized pieces with flat sides (this just makes roasting and caramelizing easier). Rinse in a colander and shake off as much excess water as possible.

Toss cauliflower in a large bowl with olive oil and black pepper. Spread in one layer on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Flip cauliflower with tongs and roast for another 10 – 20 minutes until your pieces are golden brown and softened.

Spread cauliflower on a plate in one layer so that it cools down a bit.

In a large bowl, add capers, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and a healthy pinch of salt. Add cauliflower and toss to coat. (This is where you would add your chopped olives if you wanted)

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Garlic Parmesan Cream Sauce

When I was a single girl, living in a single world, I did my grocery shopping whenever I needed to. If I felt like cooking I’d pick up necessities on my way home from work because if I did weekly shopping then things went to waste (you know, because of those nights when you’re like, hmm this chocolate cake and red wine looks like dinner to me). But now that I am living with a S.O. (that’s significant other for you laypeople) we do our grocery shopping once a week. Not only does that mean that I have to plan nightly meals for a whole week, but it means that when single-Lauren would’ve eaten red wine and cake because she lacked the energy to grocery shop, S.O.’ed-Lauren tries to make due with what’s in the cupboard.

This is a sauce that you can put on pasta, pour over roasted vegetables, or even use as a pizza sauce beneath toppings like prosciutto or zucchini, and it’s a sauce that can be made with things you probably already have in your cupboard. As long as you’re a nice Italian girl, that is.

On the menu:
Garlic parmesan cream sauce
Serves 2

3 medium sized cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1 cup milk (I used 1%)
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried basil (or 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped)

In a small sauce pan over low heat, melt the butter. Add garlic and saute for 2 – 3 minutes or until aromatic. Add the flour and stir into a paste. Add milk and cream and cook for around 5 – 6 minutes, until the mixture starts to thicken. Add the parmesan cheese and the basil and cook until desired thickness, around 5 – 6 more minutes. Toss with pasta and serve.

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Rosemary’s: A Restaurant Review

Small plates to start

My birthday dinner was the cause of much discussion. My parents were in town, so the place had to be vegetarian-friendly (it’s no fun eating out with a vegetarian who is forced to order the side salad at every meal), have a celebratory atmosphere, and not be so over-the-top expensive that I’d be apologizing for suggesting it for years to come. I took to NYMag.com for suggestions and found a really cool spot that had just opened: Rosemary’s. It’s rustic Italian food (always veg-friendly), they source a lot of their produce from their rooftop garden (enviro-friendly), and it JUST opened in a trendy neighborhood (savvy-food-writing-birthday-girl-friendly). Win. Win.

Rosemary’s 18 Greenwich Avenue (near West 10th St), New York, NY. Rosemary’s is located in the West Village, on a corner, and in the summer months all the windows and doors are open to give a truly open-air feel. The menu is divided into 10 sections and all wine is served by the bottle for $40 or by the glass for $10* (the menu is wine and beer only). It should be noted that Rosemary’s does NOT currently take reservations, so if you show up around dinner time you should be prepared to wait at least an hour for a table. My party put our names down and then went next door for a cocktail while we waited two hours for our table. It definitely did not mar our evening in the slightest, but we knew what we were in for ahead of time.

On the menu:
Small vegetable plates: cabbages, pecorino, chilies, and almonds; beets, dandelion, and hazelnuts; zucchini crudo
Small seafood plate: octopus with basil
Focacce: caprese (mozzarella, tomato, and basil)
Entree: pork tenderloin with mustard and fennel
Dessert: olive oil cake with fresh cream and blueberries

Verdict: Delicious! Was this the best meal I’ve ever had in New York? No. My mom ordered a mint pasta that was overwhelmingly flavored, the lamb my dad ordered was a bit flavorless, and then there’s that epic wait for a table. But this meal was just what I wanted for my birthday. The small plates were incredibly delicious: spicy, crunchy, brightly flavored, and gone in seconds. The pork tenderloin was juicy and tender and the cake was perfectly “dry” as only olive oil cake can be. Rosemary’s is still working out the kinks as far as service goes (we had a plethora of waitstaff taking care of us and the host was visibly frazzled at the crowds of people waiting to get in), and I was curious as to why they have a rooftop garden but no tables up there. But for all the little bits to work out (and I’m sure they will) Rosemary’s is definitely a spot to hit in the summer while the weather is fine.

*I love, love, love that all the wines are the same price. I don’t know wine very well and always want to ask for recommendations at restaurants, but I’m very aware that waitstaff will most often recommend a more expensive glass. The across-the-board pricing allowed me to give the sommelier my preferences and then have him give me an honest suggestion back. Well done, Rosemary’s. Also, sorry for the terrible photo. I didn’t want to be that annoying girl at the table taking brightly-lit-flash photos of every dish.

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Chicken Ragu with Tortellini


This is probably not news to anyone who knows me or reads this blog on the reg, but I love comfort food. I’m sure comfort food is different for everyone, but for me it’s cake, scrambled eggs, tomato sauce and pasta, macaroni and cheese… you get the idea. If it adds to your cholesterol, it makes me feel good.

In that same vein, ragu is probably one of my favorite pasta sauces. Ragu is defined as a vegetable-based sauce with meat in it, but in my mind I define a ragu as a tomato based sauce with shredded meat in it. Okay, so maybe culinary experts might disagree. Look at me give a care.

On the menu:
Chicken ragu with tortellini
Serves 4

1 28-0z. can crushed tomatoes
2 chicken breasts
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 black pepper
1 lb. pasta (I used tortellini but you can use any pasta you like)
1 honking loaf of garlic bread (optional… but really… is it?)

Pour tomatoes, basil, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper into a slow cooker and mix well until combined. Nestle chicken into the tomato sauce and turn on slow cooker to 275 degrees or low heat. Cook for 6 – 8 hours.

Cook pasta according to directions.

Remove chicken and place on cutting board, and then use 2 forks to pull apart chicken. Return chicken to slow cooker, add pasta, and toss. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with garlic bread. Impress your friends. Be full and happy.

Chicken ragu in the slow cooker

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Spring Risotto


It’s no secret to those devoted Food E. readers that I love risotto. It’s easy to prepare for company, it’s impressive to present, and it’s one single dish to make sure is ready by meal time instead of two or three separate dishes that you have to coordinate. Also, most people love it. This past weekend The BF and I had some friends over for dinner and I prepared this risotto with a small arugula salad with cucumbers to start. The original recipe calls for calamari and if you have a grill or a grill pan, I’d definitely suggest trying it. I went with calamari’s good friend, shrimp.

On the menu:
Spring pea and lemon risotto with shrimp
Serves 4 

6 cups chicken stock
5 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, sliced thin
1 tsp of fresh lemon juice, plus zest of one lemon
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 pound fresh shrimp, de-veined and tails removed, patted dry and lightly sprinkled with garlic salt and flour

Heat chicken stock over medium-high heat until it simmers, lower heat and leave the stock on a low simmer.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and sautee leeks until softened but not brown, about 7-8 minutes.  Remove leeks from the pot and set aside on a plate. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and add rice. Stir rice for one minute until fully coated with oil.

Add white wine to the rice and stir until liquid is almost completely absorbed, around 3 minutes. Add one cup of stock and occasionally stir. Keep adding stock cup by cup until one cup remains, around 20 minutes*. Add lemon juice, zest, leeks, peas, and last cup of stock to the rice and stir until incorporated.

When you add the last cup of stock, heat remaining two tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and place shrimp in the pan. While the shrimp are cooking: add cheese and butter to the risotto and stir. Turn the heat off of the risotto. Flip the shrimp in the skillet after 3 minutes, cook for another 3 minutes on the other side.

Plate the risotto and place shrimp on top. Garnish with extra grated parmesan cheese if desired.

*Note: the best way to test your risotto for doneness is to taste it. Grains should be just barely hard in the center when you turn off the heat to complete the cooking process.

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Cacio e Pepe

Someone recently asked for more commentary in my posts. This person may or may not The BF. No matter. A reader’s wish is my command!

One Saturday night I met my friend Celeste for dinner and we had no reservations. I don’t know if people outside of New York City realize what this means, but here in the Big Apple, that is dinner suicide. So we popped from restaurant to restaurant, hoping for an opening somewhere and finding nothing, except for Matthew Broderick at Morandi in the West Village. I bet Ferris Bueller doesn’t need a rez.

So finally, both of us having later plans, we found a little Italian spot and sat at the bar with glasses of wine and bowls of pasta and I tasted, for the first time ever, cacio e pepe. Let me break it down for ya: it’s noodles with butter, cheese, and pepper. It’s not rocket science. But holy… holy mackerel. I became obsessed.

So tonight I needed a little bit of my favorite. That… and I’m poor and had all the ingredients in my fridge. Hey rustic Italian!

On the menu:
Cacio e pepe
Serves 2 (…or 1)

6 oz. thin spaghetti
3 Tbsp butter, divided
2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated (WARNING: do not use the already-grated cheese you buy in a green shaker – that’s gross)

Boil salted water for pasta. In a non-stick pan, melt 2 Tbsp of butter. Add pepper and stir constantly for one minute. Add half a cup of pasta water to the pan and bring heat to a simmer. Once at a simmer, reduce heat to low and add cooked pasta. Add remaining tablespoon of butter and cheese and toss together with tongs until a thick sauce is formed, about 7 minutes.

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