Thursday, July 21, 2011

Basil – Arugula Pesto Pasta

Random story - one of the first times I had pesto was during a business lunch when I was working at American Ballet Theatre. We were meeting a high society donor for lunch at Union Square Café and I was absolutely terrified that I was going say something stupid or get a giant piece of spinach stuck in my teeth. Unknowingly I ordered the pesto, which is basically a spinach tooth just waiting to happen. Luckily I managed to get through the lunch without completely embarrassing myself, but lesson learned for all future dates and/or business lunches with intimidating high society ladies!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Weeknight Spaghetti & Meatballs

Confession time.....for most of my life I was afraid to make spaghetti & meatballs. It's true, this is the type of shame I carry with me on a daily basis.

I think maybe I've been traumatized by all the stories I've heard about Italian Grandmothers lovingly toiling over huge pots of red gravy for hours; stirring, tasting, seasoning, etc. The truth is, if I made Italian wine in my basement or grew tomatoes for my sauce in my garden in Queens, I think I might feel the same way because sometimes it's about the process and the memories. Who can compete with that level of dedication?

However, I managed to overcome my fears and made some very delicious meatballs the other day. Sometimes it's the small victories in life. Not to brag or anything, but the sauce was so delicious that I may have been taking little spoonfuls everytime I passed through the kitchen for the rest of the night.....please don't judge me (even if I used my fingers a few times).

End result: I had a delicious dinner, my man had a delicious dinner, everyone wins, I'm so proud of myself! Huh, maybe the Grandmothers won't rise up and chase after me with wooden spoons after all!

*Bonus wine pairing recommendation: I enjoyed my spaghetti & meatballs with a nice glass of Chaddsford Winery Merican. We're kind of obsessed with the Chaddsford Winery and my man never misses an opportunity to show off his vintners club frequent buyer card.....because we're giant nerds and love that kind of thing. Not to worry though, there will be lots more babbling on about wine as get closer to our wedding in a Pennsylvania winery/bed & breakfast next year!

Spaghetti and Meatballs
1 lb ground meat
1 egg
¼ c. breadcrumbs
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. nutmeg
1 tbsp olive oil

1 shallot, chopped
¼ c. red wine
28 oz. crushed tomatoes with basil
 15 oz.  diced tomatoes
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tsp. sugar
1.       Combine all meatball ingredients except for the olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Form the meat mixture into balls using your hands (it should make about 12 meatballs). Be careful that you don’t handle the meat too much because that will result in tough meatballs.
2.       Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven on the stovetop and brown the meatballs in the oil. Remove the meatballs to paper towel lined plate to drain.
3.       Reserve 1 tbsp of the oil and meat drippings in the dutch oven, add the shallots and cook until softened (about 5 minutes). Turn off the heat, add the wine to deglaze the pan and cook off the alcohol.
4.       Add the remaining ingredients to the pan along with the meatballs and simmer for approximately 30 minutes or until ready to serve.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

BBQ Ribs

I hope you all had a fun and celebratory 4th of July, I know we all had a great time here in NYC!

I was so excited to finally spend a holiday with my main man this year. Alas, the city of NY had different plans and he ended up patrolling the harbor during the fireworks (cue Price Is Right style loser sound effect).

But as a consolation prize, doesn't he look so handsome and official in the picture below?! Rawr....not even gonna lie, I did consider leaping into the harbor so that I could be rescued by this good looking guy:

However I'm happy to report that I was able to hold onto some small shred of dignity and did not end up swimming out to his boat. Instead, I settled down to watch the exact same fireworks with our friends from a sweet vantage point behind the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. Oooohhh, aaaahhh, pretty and patriotic!

Yup, Macy's really knows how to put on a show. Plus we discovered that the added bonus of a fireworks display sponsored by a huge department store is that it provides a perfect setup for numerous jokes about the finale involving a special, aerial coupon code for 25% off slacks. These are the jokes folks.

Now that I'm done gloating about my handsome fiance and excellent fireworks-watching spot.....let's cook some ribs! I don't really have too much to say about this recipe except that it's good, you should make it. And yes, that's a blueberry muffin on the plate. Don't knock it until you try it!

BBQ Ribs
Barbecue Bible BBQ rub (recipe below)
Rack of ribs
BBQ sauce

1.       Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. Rub ribs all over with dry rub, seal tightly in aluminum foil and place in a baking dish.
2.       Bake for 2 hours at 300 degrees.
3.       Open aluminum foil and baste with BBQ sauce, put back in the oven and cook for an additional 30 minutes.

¼ c. sweet paprika
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

1.       Combine all the ingredients in a mason jar, shake to mix and use as needed. Makes about ½ cup or enough for 4-6 racks of ribs. The rub can be stored away from heat and light for up to 6 months.