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Posts Tagged ‘John Iaciofano’

As you know, John and I like our pizza. We make it ourselves. We go on long journeys involving buses and tour guides to the far reaches of the world (Coney Island!) for a slice.

I even did a pizza internship for a day at my favorite Hoboken spot, Dozzino. They let me work the oven! So what happens when New York Wine Salon asks you (by which I mean me and John) to JUDGE pizza?

YOU (by which I mean me and John) SAY YES. And then you say yes again just to make sure they heard you properly.

So here’s the deal:

The Event: Wine’s Best Friend: NY Pizza

When: Thursday, April 28th 7pm – 9pm

Where: Alger House, Grennwich Village: 45 Downing Street, NYC 914-837-4853

What is Going on Anyway:
A parade of pies delivered piping-hot-fresh from favorite Greenwich Village pizzerias will be paired with bright reds and versatile whites, from Italy and beyond!

Find out which wines to pair with that mushroom pie…maybe Pinot? Pepperoni? Zin or Chianti sounds good. What about fresh basil, tomato and buffalo mozzarella… and your white pizza with fig compote, blue cheese and pancetta. Sauv Blanc anyone? Don’t count out Riesling….There are dozens of possible combinations. Come taste away and find out which you like best.

As an added bonus, John and I will be two of the judges blind taste-testing the pizzas to determine the best of the bunch! John’s vote doesn’t count – but don’t tell him that! Yes, you heard me correctly, John and I are judging pizza. It’s crazy. But true. Come watch it happen.

Check out the full invite here and sign up!

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It’s John’s Birthday today, and while he might kill me for doing this (if he can catch me), he is 30 today!

I thought I would take this time to tell you a few things about John and why he is an awesome brother: 

1. He fields my various witty remarks (anxiety attacks, pleas for more blog content, harassment about his weekend plans) that I shoot at him via gchat with apparent ease and only occasionally ignores me.

2. John has two general reactions:

Positive reaction: “Great.” Sometimes things can be “glorious,” and then you know it’s really great.
Negative reaction: “S*&T!” The delivery of this remark is always the same regardless of the magnitude of his disapproval. 

3. I can only sometimes detect the fear in his eyes when I tell him my latest crazy scheme.

4. He gives dating advice! My personal favorites are these:
a. Do as I say, not as I do.
b. Do not laugh excessively at a dude’s jokes.
c. Stop dancing like that.
d. No fear, naw mean?
Side note: I literally have no idea what he means. Especially about the dancing.

5. Regardless of what is going on, what we had been talking about previously, John will divert my attention to Vespas. I receive links to them all day long accompanied by his Vespa negotiating tactics:

“Let’s low ball these people and take no prisoners: We’re willing to pay $2400 over 6 months.  Throw in the helmets and the automatic, in-dashboard cannoli dispenser or there is no deal.” 

6. He will practice his golf swing, (sans clubs) anywhere. In public, out in a bar, on the sidewalk, etc.


7. My dog, Toby hates him. But John will walk him for me anyway.
8. When I moved back from California, he let me sleep on his couch on weekends for a whole year and hang out with his friends. I got very good at beer pong.
9. He likes to sing “Shout” in public. To rave reviews.
10. John used to eat some weird stuff when he was younger. One of his favorites was, “grilled cheese dunked in yogurt.” this was a classic American cheese sandwich which he dunked in Dannon vanilla yogurt as he ate it.
Gross.
However! I have updated this gastronomic disaster and created something truly delicious. So in honor of John and his birthday, I give you Comte and Scallion Grilled Cheese on Focaccia Bread with Honey Mustard Yogurt Dipping Sauce.

What You Need:
For the sandwich
4 slices Focaccia bread, sliced about 1″ thick
Comte cheese, sliced thinly: enough to cover the top of two of the Focaccia slices. I used a “Tewksbury” cheese from Valley Shepherd Creamery that I bought at the Union Square Greenmarket.
1 bunch scallions: chop the white and light green parts only, discard the dark green leaves.
2 tablespoons butter
For the honey mustard yogurt dipping sauce
See this recipe from a previous post about a sangwich.
What To Do:
Heat the 2 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the chopped scallions and sauté until they are soft, about 7 minutes.
Take your bread slices and one by one, dunk them in the pan of butter and scallions, pressing both sides into the mixture.
In the meantime, heat up the broiler of your oven.
Once you have coated both sides of all four pieces of bread, place the sliced cheese on top of two of the slices. Top these cheesed-up ones with the remaining two pieces of Focaccia and let simmer in the pan for about 2 minutes. Flip and simmer another 2 minutes for the flip side.
By this time, your broiler should be nice and hot. Transfer the sandwiches to a cookie sheet and pop them in the broiler so they get nice and toasty. But watch out for that broiler – don’t let your cheesy masterpieces burn!
Remove from the oven and serve immediately with the honey mustard yogurt dipping sauce on the side.
Finally, in honor of John’s birthday, we are giving away a prize. All you have to do is wish John a happy 30th in the comments of this post and you will be entered to win a prize.
What is this prize, you ask? John was recently in Italy and brought back another jar of this fabulous herbed sea salt.
We will randomly choose one commenter and award him/her the prize!
Happy birthday, little bro!

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John here.  And while those aren’t my hands you see above (they’re Elana’s.  And yes, those are actually cookies she baked), I did select the tune to accompany it.  A power ballad of love if you ask me.  It was the only way I could simultaneously compliment and combat Elana’s seemingly endless string of mushy Valentine’s Day posts; with a little sprinkle of 80’s power glory.

And on this unique holiday, let Robert Palmer’s “addictive” message – you can’t sleep, you can’t eat, there’s no doubt, you’re in deep – apply to not just the obvious, but whatever the heck it is you want it to; your significant other, a certain food or top 40 tune, reality tv, etc.

Just go nuts and enjoy yourself today.  And keep reading our blog.

Love,

John and Elana

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The Story of How the Box Became THE BOX:
One day, a few years back I received a text message from John. At this time, John was using a cell phone that required him to push the number buttons several times to register the proper letter equivalent while texting. You all remember these phones…some of you may still have one, yes? Hopefully not. ANYWAY, John texted me about our dad. THE BOX. But he was not yet called The Box.

He WAS called “Fat Boy,” a name I have called him since I was in the fourth grade. Cute, don’t you think? Anyway, John did not push the “XYZ” button on his phone the appropriate number of times, so instead of texting “Fat Boy” in reference to our dad, he texted, “Fat Box.”

It has become, in my opinion, the most advantageous typographical error in cell phone history. Fat Boy ever after became Fat Box, and then “The Box,” which is a great name for our dad. So, in honor of him, We present this pasta recipe: Pasta for The Box, But Not From a Box. Wearing Sox.


What You Need:
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes with juice or crushed tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces pancetta or 6 slices bacon, finely chopped
1/2 pound ground beef chuck (not lean)
1/2 pound ground veal
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 carrot, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound small pasta

Garnish: Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

What To Do:
If using whole tomatoes, in blender or food processor, purée tomatoes with juice. Set aside.

In large, heavy pot over moderate heat, heat oil until hot but not smoking. Add pancetta and sauté until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add beef, pork, and veal and sauté, breaking up meat with back of spoon, until browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Add onion and carrot and sauté until vegetables are tender, 5 to 6 minutes.

Stir in red wine and simmer, scraping up browned bits stuck to bottom of pan, until liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, cream, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to moderately low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened and brick-red in color, approximately 30 minutes.

In large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until almost tender. Drain well and toss with sauce. Serve with grated cheese.

For Homemade Pasta:

As a general rule of thumb, use 1 cup of flour/egg per person.  Create a “well” in your pile of flour and crack the egg(s) into the well.

Break up the egg yolk with your fingers first, then slowly gather in your flour until it is gone.  Add sprinkles of flour or drops of water to combat a wet or dry mixture.

Knead dough until it has achieved a proper “bounce back” feel to it.  Once it is ready, feed the dough into your pasta machine between the rollers at its widest setting.  Crank that bad boy through and, gradually, narrow the setting on the rollers so until the dough gets very thin.  Once thin, feed the sheet of dough through the setting for shredding.

Place the noodles on a floured pan to negate any sticking.  Then, add to a pot of boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Viola.

This recipe was inspired by one found here on Epicurious.com.

Feel free to view our other videos, seen here, here, and here.

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Each passing day on the ol’ blog is a learning experience.  Originally, Elana and I had intended to treat the blog as a smorgasbord for all things food related; reviewing restaurants, posting recipes, and starring in videos – with the only common denominators  being enthusiasm and honesty.  There was not necessarily a real theme or concentration as to what we would feature.  You were just to trust our homegrown taste buds on various food related topics.

Much to our surprise, a decent amount of people actually read this thing.  Well, thanks for peepin’ the posts, peeps (hehe).  And, in order to take this blog to the next level, we feel it is appropriate to narrow the focus a bit.  An Italian focus.  I mean, that is the type of food we were raised on, experiment with most frequently, and eat too much of.

So what does this mean?  Well, like many things we do here on the blog, the focus will be an experiment of indefinite duration and potential debate.  But generally it will mean this: most of the restaurants we will review will be Italian or Italian influenced.  Our recipes and videos, will predominantly forward Italian dishes and ideas.  In fact, even the blog, is going to be written in Italian.  Comprende, amigo?

But lovers of food we are above all.  So we will still make occasional room for posts that are outside the scope.  However, according to my father (“The Box”) all foods (and generally everything else) on this planet are a derivation of some sort of Italian influence.  So, technically, even if our posts do, in fact, stray from the Boot’s roots, perhaps we are not straying at all… naw mean?  No?  Care to debate the topic with this man?

We didn’t think so.

Elana here (that was John above, if you hadn’t guessed). In keeping with this new focus, we are starting off with a very basic, Italian 101 recipe: bruschetta. I’ve talked a lot about brushcettas, but I’ve never offered you the simplest, most basic and potentially most satisfying combination: Tomato and Basil Bruschetta. Here it is:

What You Need:

Tomatoes (4 nice plum ones, or a basket of the cherry variety)
Extra virgin olive oil (as much as you like, but you really only need a drizzle or three)
Sea salt (to taste)
Fresh basil (chopped)
Loaf of Italian bread cut into slices

What To Do:
First, fire up your broiler. Place your bread slices on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Place the cookie sheet with bread in the broiler and toast for about 1-2 minutes on each side (don’t forget to flip!). Make sure you keep an eye on the toasting process, because that broiler heats things up mighty fast, and I have pulled too many charred bread remains from its fire-y depths because I can’t seem to remember that I put them in there in the first place. But you are waaaaaay smarter. Let’s hope.

Chop up your tomatoes and put them in a bowl. Drizzle with a healthy dollop of olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt to taste, and decorate with chopped, fresh basil. It really must be fresh. I can’t stress that enough.

Once your toasts are toasted, line them up on a nice platter and using a spoon, heap generous amount of the tomato mixture on top of the toast. Serve immediately. Bene?

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John and I have a long list of animals, minerals and vegetables that we are thankful for this Thanksgiving and holiday season (although John is less enthused about the vegetables). We love our family and friends (even Aunt Emily!), and we’re both really, REALLY thankful that we have the time, energy and resources to keep up this blogging madness.

I could go on in this manner, but instead I’m going to switch it up and offer you the John and Elana Talk About Food version of heartfelt thanks. Here we go…

Elana’s List:

1. I am thankful for our readers that tolerate the nutty things I say and indulge my questionable sanity.

2. For Anfora Wine Bar, where they keep letting me in the door even though I drink all their wine and eat all their fabulous ricotta cheese every time I visit.

3. For the really cool vendors that actually like it when we feature them on the blog: Van Leeuwen, City Cakes, McClure’s Pickles, Kelvin Slush and Astor Wines (check out Astor Wine’s Thanksgiving Wine Guide here).

4. The smoke detectors in my apartment.

5. John and his endurance of my incessant rambling about what I’m planning for the blog and recurring demands for content (Me: So, I want to make a movie that involves little crockery owls making a turkey. Allllll in stop motion animation. Cool? John: uh-huh)

6. Pyrenees Brebis cheese from Murray’s Cheese. It’s off the hook.

John’s Commentary: Elana – Half of the things you have mentioned involve you essentially pestering people for favors. It appears that little brother needs to keep an eye on you more often, so as not to scare anyone off.  Also, I don’t use smoke detectors.  They kept going off every time I slipped on my new Sanchez jersey.
Nonetheless, I’m thankful for:

John’s List:
1. My Pizza Stone

2. Truffle Oil

3. The unusually temperate weather for this time of year

4. The plethora of artisan pizzerias popping up in the area

5. Millionaire Matchmaker

6. My next culinary voyage to Italy in the spring of 2011

Elana’s Commentary: I think it was actually your pants being on fire (liar, liar) rather than the combination of you and the Sanchez jersey that set off the smoke detectors. However, if you plan to “keep an eye on me,” you may need to do better than the following (I’m on the green side):

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It is without reservation in stating that my favorite fictional character of all time is John Locke from LOST.  Expertly acted by Terry O’Quinn, Locke offered endless depth, surprise and intrigue while other characters within the show grew stale.  In Locke’s coming out episode in Season 1, Walkabout (portions of which I have memorized), we learn that the Island, much like Locke himself, is not what we may have initially believed it to be.  As an obsessed fan, I’d always look forward to the Locke-centered episodes: his flashbacks were always the richest; his hikes throughout the island would always yield some fascinating surprises; his creepy ways would keep the entire crew of castaways (and viewers) on edge.

Locke was always looking for the answers on the island, and in life.  A restless soul, John Locke (until his death at the hands of Benjamin Linus) was always getting under others skin with his sinister smirks and talks of “destiny” in being the sole culprit as to why the castaways were brought the island.   But, hey, wouldn’t you be a bit spiritual if many of your real life constraints had been cured by a plane crash on a deserted island?

Locke’s storyline, as people who have viewed the show know, was full of heartbreak.  For some reason, I always felt for the guy (his inability to accompany the rest of the gang on the Walkabout, always gets me).  And in those trying times, maybe Mr. Locke would appreciate some of Mom’s Apple Pie.

For me, this is my absolute favorite thing my Mom makes.  My Dad and I often hide portions of it in dark corners of the refrigerator for later.  When a slice of it is on my plate, there is truly nothing else that enters my mind.  Crispy golden apples, cradled by a crackling, yet slightly soft crust; it is the highlight of my Thanksgiving meal.

So if there is one fictional character that deserves a slice of Mom’s Apple Pie, it is John Locke.  No need to worry about hunting razorbacks, Johnny, I got you covered.

Here’s the recipe:

CRUST – What You Need:

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

2/3 cup butter (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons)

1 egg yolk

CRUST – What To Do:

Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the texture is grainy. Mix egg yolk with 2 tablespoons cold water. Gradually add to the dough. Chill for at least 1 hour. This can be made 1 day ahead and kept in the fridge.

FILLING – What You Need

1 stick butter

1 cup sugar

7-9 Golden Delicious apples

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon cinnamon

FILLING – What To Do:

Peel and slice apples. Place butter and sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until caramelized. Add apples and cook for about 7 – 10 minutes stirring to keep the sugar liquid. Dilute cornstarch in 3 tablespoons water and add to apple mixture. Cook until thick. Remove from heat and add cinnamon. Let cool.

TOPPING – What You Need:

3 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons flour

6 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

TOPPING – What To Do:

Put the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in the butter with a fork until dry and crumbly. Store in the fridge until ready to use.

Put it All Together:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out your dough and line a 8″ springform deep dish pan with the dough. Add apple filling and sprinkle on the topping. Bake until pastry is golden and top is golden – about 45 minutes – 1 hour.

* Note #1: For the filling, you must caramelize the sugar (it will turn brown). When you add the apples, the sugar will harden, but it will become liquid again as the apples heat up.

** Note #2: For the crust, the less you handle it with your fingers the flakier the crust will be. You can roll out the dough between 2 pieces of wax paper if you like. If you dampen the counter top underneath the wax paper, the paper will not slip as you roll the dough.

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