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Archive for September, 2010

Kudos to Dell’ Anima, the winner of our September Bathroom of the Month Award!

They scored some good bathroom points with the Xlerator hand dryer, the good smelling candle (even John thought it smelled nice in there), and that wicked cool mirror frame. Everything was on the up-and-up in there as far as our scout (John) could tell.

Just another reason to go back.

Membership in the Bathroom of the Month Club is closely monitored. Points are awarded for cleanliness most of all. Order and neatness also count. Extra bumps up the bathroom scale are given for Xlerator (or, my personal fav, Dyson) hand dryers. But if you have cool towels (like the kind you wash), that’s nice too. Little extras like nice smelling candles, interesting art and decor won’t hurt your chances either.

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Elana, here. To be honest, I’m not much of a football fan. If I had to pick a team it would be the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets, but that’s mostly because I was raised in a Jets household.

John, as you may already know, is a HUGE Jets fan. Last year after their final game (we watched it together in a bar in Hoboken with some other friends) his parting words to me were, “Well, have a good night, I’m gonna go jump in the river.” I think he was only partly joking.

To add to this is what some have said is a striking resemblance between John and one, Mr. Mark Sanchez, which you may recall from the visual on Monday’s post.

There is yet more evidence:

Notice the Sanchez-like intensity on the face. I am scared. Mostly because I just posted this photo on the blog.

Ok – what were we talking about again? Oh yes, veggie chilli.

So, even though I’m not much of a football fan, I do like the experience of hanging out with fans and watching THEM watch football. And I like cooking for them. I give you two recipes that are football proof. First, veggie chilli.

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons ground cumin

3 Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced

1 large red onion, finely chopped

1 large red bell pepper, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 can black beans, drained

1 can garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained

24 oz dark beer (like Guiness)

1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes

1 can corn (or fresh if you can get it)

Sliced scallions for garnish

2 limes, quarterd

1 avocado (as garnish)

What to do:

Warm oil in a 3 qt pot over medium heat. Add cumin and chipotles. Cook 1 minute. Stir in onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Saute 5 to 7 minutes, or until veggies are soft.

Add beans, beer, tomatoes and corn. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, 45 minutes, or until thick. Serve with scallions, lime, and sliced avocado.

Chicken Dip

Now, I know we are talking about football. And this chicken dip, which is one of my mom’s specialties, is perfect for football watchin’. Or even watching curling. Or the grass grow. It’s that good. But when I asked my mom (marmo) for the recipe, she emailed me the above photo. It’s the recipe. On a golf score card. I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I laughed for about 5 minutes and showed everyone in my office. Unsurprisingly, I had to request her help in translating this one.

Ingredients:

1 lb. boneless chicken breast

1/2 cup Marie’s Blue Cheese Dressing (you can use the “light version” if you like)

8 oz cream cheese

4 oz shredded cheddar cheese

4 oz Frank’s Hot Sauce

What to Do:

Poach the chicken breasts for about 20-30 minutes depending on how thick they are (marmo says: never boil them because they will become tough).
When done, let them rest and then with 2 forks pull the meat apart.  Mix the meat with cream cheese, Frank’s hot sauce and Marie’s blue cheese dressing.  Put it all in a baking dish and top with shredded cheddar cheese. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Serve with tortilla or pita chips.

Pour yourself some beer, smear some black eyeliner under your eyes, and start heckling!

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A Side of Tots!

This is a photo sent to me by my friend Steve. He thought I would find this funny. And I do. So I decided to post it on the blog.

I also decided that I’m going to feature reader photos from time to time. If you’d like to have me feature one of your photos, you can tweet it to us. You don’t have to, of course. There’s no pressure.But from time to time, I’m gonna throw on of these up here. They can be funny. Or beautiful. Or downright ridiculous. Your call. And we reserve the right to choose from the submissions.

Also, I promise not to Photoshop your photos. Unless you want me to.

By the way, Steve and his friend Jake have a hilarious blog called Animal Review (and a book by the same name). You should check it out.

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Monday we talked about pulled pork sliders ‘n’ slaw. And we casually mentioned pickles as an accompaniment to this fabulous sandwich. I happen to be of the opinion that a good pickle makes a slider (in this case pork), but also a beef hamburger, much better. Something about that briny, tangy, crispy (and they better be crispy or there will be #$%& to pay) taste and texture with a burger or sandwich that makes it feel complete.

Also, isn’t the word pickle great? You can eat a pickle, get into a pickle, pickle something….noun AND verb.

And that’s just what McClure’s does. They pickle their own pickles! It’s a family-inspired, local-ingredients-preferred, groundbreaking trendsetter in the world of pickling. And they have fantastic design. You know how I love that. I’m a sucker for good package design.

To complement the pork, I chose McClure’s Spicy Pickles (shown above). I wanted a little kick to contrast with the sweetness of the BBQ sauce on the pork. McClure’s spicy spears are juuuuuust right in terms of spiciness. Ever eat something “spicy” and you can’t taste anything because all you can think about is calling the fire department to extinguish your mouth? Yeah, that’s no good. I prefer to have some kick WITH taste. And not burn off my taste buds. I like those. McClure’s manages to keep its crispness, with a nice tang and level of heat, that will keep you reaching for more.

Now, I’m sure that aside from putting them in your sliders, there are TONS of things to do with pickles. But, a while back when we featured the review of Joe Doe restaurant, I maintained that YOU SHOULD ALWAYS FRY A PICKLE. So I did. I fried some McClure’s Spicy Spears, and I’m gonna tell you how I did it.

Before I get into that, a few words on my experience with frying pickles. I managed to set off both smoke detectors in my apartment, my dog had a bit of a panic attack (he’s fine now) because of the beeping noise, and I burned myself. Oh and I made a fantastic mess. So unless you are an old pro at frying things, be careful. Please.

BUT! The pickles were frickin’ good! I swear. The McClure’s spears maintained their crispiness and spiciness throughout the torture I inflicted upon them. They held up admirably. And they had no time to prepare – they never saw it coming. Further, the spice and the slightly garlic-y, but mild fry batter were a good combo. I served ’em up with a cucumber dill yogurt sauce like so:

Fried Pickle Ingredients:

1 pint sliced dill pickles, undrained
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika

What to do:

Drain pickles, reserving 2/3-cup pickle juice. Press pickles between paper towels. Combine 2/3 cup pickle juice and egg. Stir well and set aside.

Combine 1 1/2 cups flour with garlic powder, salt, and paprika. Blend well. Dip pickles in egg mixture, then dredge in flour mixture. Fry coated pickles in 375-degree oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Cucumber Dill Yogurt Dip:

two 8-ounce containers of plain Greek yogurt
1 pound cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped fine
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh dill plus dill sprigs for garnish
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

What to do:

In a food processor or blender bowl combine the drained yogurt, the cucumbers (squeezed dry between paper towels) the chopped dill, the garlic, the oil, the lemon juice, and salt to taste. Blend or process it up. Store in the fridge until ready to serve. Garnish it with the dill sprigs, and serve it with the pita wedges & fried pickles!

Now, who’s coming over to clean this mess up for me?

After we clean this up, check out some places where you can get McClure’s Pickles here (I got mine at Murray’s Cheese Shop on Bleecker) and then you can make a mess of your very own.

And this video really just says it all….

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This week’s review is of café la rustique, located at 611 Jersey Ave in downtown Jersey City, a pizza joint with other basic italian dishes to offer as well.  This is our first “Pizzeria” that will be reviewed, but definitely not our last.  A brief intro about Pizza:  myself and Elana are pretty knowledgeable about Pizza.  Granted, there are a couple of pies within reasonable geographical range that, admittedly, we have yet to try… but we’re pretty good on the subject.  We make it, we study it, take classes on it and  argue about it.  There are various types, shapes and tastes which are now classified as “pizza” but I, myself, like to generally break it down into three categories – (1) American Pizza (such as Di Fara) and (2) Naples-style brick oven pizza (such as Zero Otto Nove and Keste) (3) a Hybrid of the two (such as Grimaldi’s or Lucali).   Sure, there are other niche categories that exist – but these are the main categories.  I love all kinds, provided it is well made stuff, but have a soft spot for categories (2) and (3) – types of pizza usually crafted in a brick oven for that charred yet chewy crust.  This whole fascination with Pizza intensified two years ago, when I was fortunate enough to eat at one of the world’s oldest and best pizzerias – Pizzeria Da Michele in Naples.

Just look at this effing thing.  A charred, yet chewy circle of fine crafted slop.   Yes, slop.  That’s how they roll in Naples.  No neat and defined slices.  Just a piping hot, flattish charred bread bowl filled with the finest tomatoes and mozzarella. It was absolutely delicious.  Nonetheless, the bar was substantially raised (and has yet to be reached since then), but there are good nearby options.

It would be unfair to expect café la rustique to meet such lofty standards as those depicted above.  Rustique is an interesting place, and we were suspicious from the start.  We entered this non-air conditioned establishment on a warm autumn night.  There was literally only one other patron there while one woman seemed to make up the entire staff.  Not typically the greatest of signs.  There was an old television set sitting on top of the bar and jeopardy was on.  You may recall our boy Trebek appearing in a previous post.  I took this to mean something.

Right out of the gate, it earned a pizza demerit by offering the dreaded Buffalo Chicken Pizza as one of its offerings.  This is typically just a bad sign.  Pretty sure this is one of Dominos best sellers. I’m just not sure if I can take your pizza seriously but, alas, a glance into the back room revealed a brick oven…so there was hope.  Keep an open mind, I tell myself.

A bowl of bread was first served in a curious fashion.  Curious, because the butter that accompanied the bread was just sort of smeared on the inside of the bowl.  It just looked weird. For an appetizer, we ordered the Fresh Mozzarella Salad with tomatoes, roasted peppers and olives.  The mozzarella was very good, it was very fresh and not too salty.  Also, it was warm which led me to believe that it could be homemade.  If so, props. The tomatoes, however, were sort of tasteless and not so tender.  Roasted peppers were adequate.  I just could not get a feel for this place.

On to the pizza.  Elana selected their white pizza.  I, on the other hand, selected the Margherita pie.   I think it is important that when going to a Pizzeria, a plain or Margherita pie needs to be eaten, for two reasons.  First – the taste; fresh mozzarella and tomatoes on perfectly cooked bread is still an unbeatable combination.  Second – the Margherita tells the story of the pizzeria.  Essentially, it is the easiest way to differentiate between the qualities of various pizza.  I don’t think I’m saying anything groundbreaking here. How was this particular pie?  It was not bad.  The ingredients, particularly the tomatoes, were good.  As with the appetizer, it had good full flavor without a salty aftertaste.  The mozzarella had been carefully cooked in the brick oven.  It was not overcooked and was just right.

The crust, on the other hand, was pretty bland.  It just did not mesh well with the pizza.  It was also a little overcooked and tough for a brick oven pie which, traditionally, should be charred, yet fluffy due to its intense heat.  This was an average pie.

The service was fine i guess… the woman casually breezed in and out of existence and did what she needed to d0.  The atmosphere, as noted, was lacking.  Combined with being empty and hot, the door was left open for interesting stragglers to float in and out; some of which were mosquitos.  Mosquito count – Elana 3.  Me – 1.  I had been bit squarely in the center of my forehead.  This was no way to eat.

The bathroom, as Elana put it, was sort of like a supply closet and had the smallest sink imaginable.

If I end up living in the downtown jersey city area, I could see myself going back for a pie every now and then.  It is indeed located in a cool spot in town, and the pizza is decent.  But i can’t say I will go out of my way to go back.

Overall Experience – Vanilla Sky

Afterwards, however, I did have my first 3D HDTV experience at best buy.  Pretty damn sweet, minus the uncomfortable glasses.

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Things to do with apples:

Roast ’em

Poach ’em (with honey)

Juice ’em

Cut ’em up in bake them in bread (really good)

Crisps, crumbles and tarts – oh my!

Throw ’em (the rotten ones)

Juggle ’em

Use ’em for target practice (for your bow and arrow)

Sauce ’em

AND DON’T FORGET TO PUT ‘EM IN PIE! And then send me one.

These red beauties are at Sobsey’s right now – very crisp, and a good combo of sweet and tart.

MORE FOOTBALL TOMORROW! Don’t forget to check out our pulled pork, and vote on whose hair you like better, John’s or Mark Sanchez’.

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Fellas!  Time to chill out on the mini-pumpkin-and-adorable-jars-of-honey chatter in favor of some Football inspired food thoughts, naw mean?  Word.  And who doesn’t like football?  Even the hippest of hipsters draft fantasy football teams and attend Super Bowl Parties these days.  And I’m extra excited myself; the Jets are looking good this year and my lingering tan provides me with the requisite amount of delusional confidence to convince myself that me and “The Sanchize” were very possibly separated at birth.

Indeed, the “Gridiron” and its surrounding festivities, heavily involve food.  So here are some can’t miss recipes to satisfy even the Rex Ryan of appetites.

Pulled Pork with Slaw (with much help from Tyler Florence)

Dry Rub:

3 Tablespoons paprika

1 Tablespoon garlic powder

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1 Tablespoon dry mustard

3 Tablespoons coarse salt

1 (8 lb) pork roast, preferably should or Boston butt (hehe)

Cider Vinegar BBQ Sauce:

1 1/2 cups cidar vinegar

1 cup yellow or brown mustard

1/2 cup ketchup

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 garlic cloves, SMASHED!

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teasoon freshly ground black pepper

12 hamburger buns

1 recipe Slaw (recipe follows)

Pickles!

What to do:

Mix the paprika, garlic powder, brown sugar, dry mustard, and salt together in a small bowl. Rub the spice blend all over the pork and marinate for as long as you have time for (as little as 1 hour, or as long as overnight – covered, in the fridge).

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Put the pork in a roasting pan (one of those disposable foil dealios will be just fine) and bake for about 6 hours. Basically, you are roasting the pork until it’s falling apart and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 170 degress F (btw, I hardly EVER use the thermometer. I’m not even sure where mine is).

To make the BBQ sauce: combine the vinegar, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, garlic, salt, cayenne, and black pepper in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer gently, stirring, for 10 minutes until the sugar dissolves.

Remove the pork roast from the oven and transfer to a large platter (maybe something that has decorative footballs or team logos on it). Allow the meat to rest for about 10 minutes. While still warm, take 2 forks and “pull” the meat to form shreds. Using these 2 forks, shred the pork by steadying the meat with 1 fork and pulling it away with the other. Put the shredded pork in a bowl. Pour 1/2 of the BBQ sauce on the shredded pork and mix well to coat.

To serve, spoon the pulled pork mixture onto the bottom 1/2 of the hamburger bun, and top with spicy slaw. Serve with pickle spears and remaining sauce on the side.

Slaw:

1 head napa or savoy cabbage, shredded
4 carrots, shredded
2 Granny Smith apples, thinly sliced
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
Leaves from 1 bunch fresh mint, for garnish

Slaw Dressing:
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 lemon, juiced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

What to do:

Combine the cabbage, carrots, apples, and onion in a large bowl. Mix well with your hands and set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the mustard, sugar, mayonnaise and lemon juice until blended. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss well to coat. Taste again for seasoning, throw it in a bowl and garnish with mint leaves.

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