If there was one last thing I could eat before my last day on earth yes, it would be pizza. Italian food is one of my favorite things to eat and cook – in fact my Techniques of Italian Cooking course at the Institute of Culinary Education got me hooked on making homemade pizza and pasta from scratch.
But sometimes making pizza dough at home is time-consuming and labor intensive and all I want to do is eat pizza. Sure, I live in NYC and it’s easy enough to walk downstairs and get a slice or two at the local pizza shop. But when I want pizza but don’t really feel like paying $6 a slice or $25 for a whole pie, I make my own. And, I’m absolutely in love with thin crust pizza and honestly, it’s the toppings and flavor combinations that are so much fun to experiment with. It’s also Summer and beach days are calling, so using up all my carbs and calories with one slice of pizza is no fun. Alas, I discovered FlatOut flat breads that you can prepare yourself with the use of bread machines that you can get easily online at sites like Village-Bakery.com. They’re thin and light and bake up into a crispy shell in minutes and are the perfect base for any pizza. And they’re only 130 calories and 2 g of fat in each one. And that’s pretty awesome.
So today I made a Spinach Artichoke, Chicken and Bacon flatbread pizza on one of these cuties. And it’s absolutely delicious. And not too filling. And I don’t feel so guilty eating it that I want to hide under the covers and never put on a bathing suit again. Or fall asleep on my laptop after eating while writing this. I used the Honey Wheat thin flat breads which are perfect for one person, but you could also try another flavor (plain, whole wheat, spinach) or try one of their pizza flat breads which are a little longer and bigger if you’re feeding a crowd.
This flavor bomb pizza has a layer of spinach and artichoke dip on the base of the flatbread which I baked for a couple of minutes on the oven rack to get it crispy and lightly browned before adding the dip as a base for the other ingredients.
Then I topped it with some crispy bacon, sauteed onions and mozzarella cheese..
and a touch of garlic powder and a healthy dose of grated parmesan cheese.
I popped it in the oven for about 5 minutes until the cheese melted, then topped it off with some chile flakes, green onions and more parmesan cheese as a garnish, and a few cracks of freshly ground black pepper. OMG> so delicious and so easy.
I’m thinking this will be my new thing for Summer and I’ve already thought of a million pizza combinations and ideas I’m planning to make. In fact, you could use the same ingredients to make a kick butt quesadilla on the stove or a healthy chicken wrap. Sayonara gut bomb thick crust pizza, hello thin and crispy skinny pizza.
This flavor bomb pizza has a layer of spinach and artichoke dip on the base of the flatbread (I had some leftover from last night but you can certainly make your own) which I baked for a couple of minutes on the oven rack to get it crispy and lightly browned. Then I topped it with some sautéed onions, crispy bacon, seasoned cooked chicken breast, and parmesan cheese. I popped it in the oven for about 5 minutes until the cheese was melted and then topped it off with some chile flakes, green onions and more parmesan cheese as a garnish, and a few cracks of freshly ground black pepper. OMG> so delicious and so easy.
2 FlatOut 100% Whole Wheat flatbreads
1 cup Spinach and Artichoke Dip (homemade or store bought)
½ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
Dash of red chile flakes
½ cup green onions, sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375°F. Place two FlatOut flatbreads on a cookie sheet (or directly on oven rack for crispier crust). Bake crust for two minutes. You can also grill the flatbread with a little olive oil in a grill pan or on the grill for a couple of minutes.
Remove flatbreads from the oven and spread the spinach and artichoke dip onto the flatbread and sprinkle with half of the mozzarella cheese.
Cook the onions in some olive oil over medium heat and remove from sauté pan. Add the additional tablespoon of oil into the pan and season the chicken breast. Cook chicken for about 5-6 minutes until cooked through, cut into strips or large chunks. Meanwhile, fry the bacon until crisp, then drain and crumble, and set all ingredients aside.
To make the pizzas, sprinkle the cooked onions, chicken and bacon on top of the cheese. Sprinkle with garlic powder, parmesan cheese, more mozzarella cheese and chili flakes.
Bake for 5 minutes until cheese is melted. Remove flatbread from the oven, and top with sliced green onions, red chile flakes, freshly ground black pepper, and additional grated parmesan, to taste.
You can substitute any flatbread you like for this pizza or even use real pizza dough if made super thin.
Feel free to experiment with the toppings too - the sky is the limit!
So the big day is right around the corner..Super Bowl, yay! I’m not really partial to either team and am not even a huge football fan, but i LOVE LOVE LOVE the Super Bowl simply because of the fun parties, the commercials, and the food and drinks, of course.
So in spirit of the football party season, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite game day recipes that are perfect for a crowd. Finger foods, appetizers, dips and spreads and small bites to party in style! Stay tuned later this week for some fun cocktail ideas for the big game too..may the best team win! #gopanthers #gobroncos
So it’s Friday. And a lovely Spring day. I was in the mood to make something lovely to eat, preferably with a sweet and savory twist. I’ve also been on a baking kick lately, not sure why but I’m loving experimenting with different flavors and textures of pizzas and tarts and pies.
I decided to make a delicious rustic pizza made with some redgrapes, shallots, sharp white cheddar and mozzarellacheese, and some thin cut Italianham. I simply rolled out some refrigerated pizza dough and then topped it off with some olive oil, all the pizza ingredients, and some fresh thyme.
I popped it into a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes until all the cheese and crust was bubbly and golden brown, then finished this beauty off with some sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, some fresh basil and drizzles of honey.
This is the best thing I have ever tasted in my life. Seriously. The contrast of the sweet grapes, shallots and honey with the sharp and tangy cheddar cheese and salty, crispy ham are like a true love affair…in Paris.
I’m thinking the only thing better than this would be an actual trip to Paris..on the top of the Eiffel Tower at sunset. With a chocolate croissant and cafe au lait in hand. With a really cute French guy. Ooh La La.
Aaah – a girl can dream, can’t she? (Happy Friday!)
Rustic Pizza with Ham, Grapes, Shallots, Cheese, Honey & Thyme
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Serving Size: 1 slice/wedge
1 package of refrigerated pizza dough (or homemade if you prefer)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, sliced thin
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere or Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded extra sharp White Cheddar cheese
4-6 thin slices Italian ham or prosciutto
1/2 cup red seedless grapes, cut in half
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Fresh basil leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Honey for drizzling
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Spray a pizza sheet with oil and stretch out pizza dough to the edges making a thin crust.
Drizzle the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with the shredded Mozzarella cheese. Add the sliced shallots, ham, grapes and White cheddar cheese on to the dough evenly. Top with some fresh thyme leaves and red pepper flakes.
Bake for about 20 minutes until cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden brown.
Top with fresh basil, sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper and drizzle with honey.
Cut into wedges and serve immediately.
You can also substitute prosciutto or bacon for the ham, and top with some fresh ricotta cheese if desired.
I’ve been on a spicy food kick lately. Maybe it’s the pseudo-Spring weather. Or maybe I’m just addicted. I decided to make a fun twist on pizza and make a seriously delicious Taco Pizza. Yes, TACOS. And PIZZA. All baked into a bubbling pile of goodness. This Taco Pizza is the easiest thing to make, and the best tasting thing on the planet. Like a fiesta in your mouth.
I had a bunch of Pillsbury Crescent Dough in the fridge, as well as a ton of fresh ingredients I wanted to use up. Yes, I could have made Nachos. Or Burritos. Or Enchiladas. Or even a Taco Salad. But why not make a Taco Pizza? It was Friday after all. And Fridays are made for FUN FOOD, arent’ they?
The crust is super buttery and flaky and a delicious canvas for this Taco Monster creation.
The pizza is topped with all the goodies you would make tacos with – salsa, ground beef, taco seasoning, black beans and onions,
with a layer of fresh veggies like black olives, tomatoes, jalapenos; and of course plenty of shredded cheddar cheese.
Just layer all the goods on the dough, pop it in a 375 degree oven and bake for about 13-16 minutes until the crust is golden and the cheese is melty-ooey-gooey.
Then, top it with some chopped cilantro, a few dabs of sour cream and some wavy corn chips for extra crunch.
Serious YUM. And perfect for a Friday afternoon. With a margarita or two, of course. 🙂
A seriously delicious Taco Pizza made with ground beef, tomatoes, jalapenos, olives, black beans and cheese, topped with sour cream, cilantro and crunchy corn chips baked on a crescent dough crust.
2 cans (8 ounce) Pillsbury crescent dough
1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, chopped (or 1 tablespoon minced dried onion)
1 package taco seasoning
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed
1 cup chunky salsa
10-12 cherry or plum tomatoes, halved
1 jalapeno, sliced
1/2 cup black olives, sliced
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup wavy corn chips, for garnish
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped, for garnish
1/2 cup sour cream, for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Separate dough into 2 long rectangles and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Press perforations to seal into one large rectangle of dough. Repeat for second pizza.
In a large skillet, saute ground beef, onions and black beans until cooked through and meat is no longer pink. Drain grease, and add taco seasoning and 1/4 cup of water, mix together well and keep warm, covered.
Prep the veggies and pizza topping ingredients.
Layer the dough with the salsa, 1/2 cup for each pizza.
Top dough with the taco beef and bean mixture, olives, tomatoes, jalapenos and shredded cheese on both sheets.
Bake for 13-16 minutes until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden brown.
Garnish pizzas with corn chips, sour cream and fresh cilantro.
Cut each pizza into 6 squares and serve hot.
You can also substitute shredded chicken, ground chicken or turkey or pulled pork for the ground beef.
A regular pizza dough crust can also be used in place of the crescent dough.
We sat around a big table in a private room upstairs and learned the techniques, traditions and passions behind producing a perfectly thin crispy Neapolitan pizza while sipping on Italian wines and making new friends.
We learned the intricacies behind making and kneading our own dough accustom to the Neapolitan style by making wells of flour filled with yeast water and the patient process of kneading using only 2 fingers as the dough slowly came together by kneading, mixing and adding more flour and water.
We watched Chef Chris toss pizza dough in the air and even tried it ourselves (too fun!).
We then made our own Margherita sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes from Italy, and topped off the pizzas with cubes of fresh cow’s milk Mozzarella and fresh basil before our pizzas were thrown delicately into a 900 degree oven on a pizza peel to reveal a perfectly crispy gorgeous pizza of bubbly cheesy goodness.
Layer the dough with sauce…
Add some delicious Fresh Cow’s Milk Mozzarella and Basil…
Patiently waiting for the oven…
And let the deliciousness devouring begin.
The story behind Neapolitan pizza goes like this: In June 1889, a Neapolitan tavern owner Raffaele Esposito served the Queen of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, a special dish named in her honor. The wood-fired Flatbread was topped with Melted Mozzarella, Tomato Sauce and Basil leaves, symbolizing the colors of the Italian Flag. The Queen was so pleased with her meal that she had a wood-fired “flat-bread oven” built into the palace. And history was made.
The art behind making a perfect, true Neapolitan pizza has become a standard practice with strict rules of approval. The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana is a non-profit official governing association in Italy that maintains the standards and regulations of all Pizzaioli and Establshments serving Vera Napoletana Pizza. It was founded in Naples in 1984 by the oldest and well-known Neapolitan pizzaioli, and according to the “rules” proposed by them, there are specific ingredients and techniques that must be used to pass the official Italian seal of approval.
So just what are the secrets behind making that crispy crust with gooey cheese and succulent sauce? Here’s a few secrets from Restaurateur/Chef and native New Yorker, Nick Accardi of Tavola in Hell’s Kitchen:
Measure by weight rather than volume to get the perfect water to flour ratio for your crust. Many elements can change the density of ingredients such as age, storage temperature, or environmental climate. Measuring by weight assures the perfect hydration ratio.
Use double zero (type 00) flour which is a highly refined flour that has been milled to a standard “00” and completely free of bran or germ.
Use natural Neapolitan yeast or brewer’s yeast, sea salt and water. (New York City tap water is the BEST secret ingredient in making the perfect pizza dough!)
Keep yeast refrigerated and check the expiration date on the package to make sure it’s fresh.
The dough must be kneaded by hand or with a low-speed mixer.
Allow the dough to rise for 24 hours at room temperature. The bare minimum standard is 6 hours (after mixing let the dough rise for 2 hours, then hand cut and roll into small balls, let rise for 4 more hours).
After the rising process, the dough must be formed by hand without the help of a rolling pin or other machine, and may be no more than 3 millimeters (0.12 in) thick. Use your hands to gently work the dough from the center outward.
Use San Marzano tomatoes, which grow on the volcanic plains to the south of Mount Vesuvius, for the pizza sauce like a bona fide pro (easy to find in grocery stores or Italian markets).
Vera Napoletana Pizza must be made using only fresh, all-natural, non-processed ingredients including Fior di Latte (Cow’s Milk) or Bufala Mozzarella, fresh basil and drizzled with real Extra Virgin Olive Oil. You can find Genuine imported EVOO also at Italian markets such as Eataly or Tavola in NYC.
Less is More: Don’t drown a pizza in sauce and toppings. The most delicious pies use smaller portions of the highest quality of fresh ingredients.
A thin crust is the signature trait of Neapolitan pizza. While having a wood fired oven at home is not common these days, making your crust as thin as possible will allow for fast cooking time, which intensifies and seals in the flavors of each ingredient. Note: The Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana requires the thickness of the crust to be 1-2 cm.
The pizza must be baked for 60-90 seconds in a 905°F stone oven with an oak-wood fire. When cooked, it should be crispy, tender and fragrant.
There are three official variants to Neapolitan pizza: Pizza Marinara, which is made with tomato, garlic, oregano and extra virgin olive oil, Pizza Margherita, made with tomato, sliced mozzarella, basil and extra-virgin olive oil, and Pizza Margherita Extra made with tomato, mozzarella from Campania in fillets, basil and extra virgin olive oil.
1 (28-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes, passed with juices through a food mill
12 ounces Mozzarella di Bufala (see note) or mozzarella fior di latte cheese, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
4 large or 8 small basil leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
Medium coarse sea salt
Special equipment: a pizza stone and peel
Make the dough: Sprinkle yeast over water; let stand until yeast is creamy, 5 to 10 minutes. (If yeast does not become creamy, discard and start over with new yeast.)
In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt; form a well in center. Add yeast mixture and warm water; stir until dough just comes together. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead vigorously, for 10 minutes. Cover with a damp dish towel and let rest for 10 minutes, then knead vigorously for 10 minutes more. Lightly oil a large bowl. Form dough into a ball, transfer to bowl and turn to lightly coat with oil. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Punch down dough with your fist (dough will be stiff), then fold sides over one another, turn dough, tightly cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
Divide dough into 4 pieces; shape pieces into balls and place on a lightly floured work surface, leaving a few inches between balls. Loosely cover with a damp dish towel (not terry cloth) and let rise at warm room temperature until doubled, about 2 hours; time may vary depending on room temperature and freshness of yeast. If skin forms on dough while rising, lightly spray surface with water.
Heat Stone While Dough Rises: Position rack in lower third of oven. Place pizza stone on rack. At least 45 minutes before baking pizza, heat oven to maximum temperature (500 to 550 degrees).
Assemble Pizza: On a lightly floured work surface, press 1 dough ball with your fingers to begin to shape into a round. Use your fist and hands to gently stretch dough to a 10-inch round. (A floured rolling pin can be used to help roll out dough.) Transfer dough to a lightly floured peel; gently shake peel to make sure dough does not stick.
Working fairly quickly, spread a 1/3 cup sauce over dough, leaving about a 1/2 -inch border. Tear 3 ounces cheese into pieces and arrange on top of sauce. Tear 1 or 2 basil leaves into small pieces and arrange on top. Drizzle very lightly with oil and sprinkle with salt. Slide pizza onto stone. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbling in spots and edge of dough is crisp and golden, about 7 minutes. Using the peel and a large spatula or pair of tongs, transfer pizza to a plate and serve. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Note: Soft “00” flour produces a pliable, easy-to-work-with pizza dough and a tender yet sturdy crust with a crisp yet not too dry edge. Mozzarella fior di latte has a firmer texture than Mozzarella di Bufala, which falls apart when cut, though both cheeses are creamy when melted. You can find “00” flour, San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, mozzarella fior di latte at Italian markets, specialty stores, and online.
Summer has quickly arrived and it’s that time of year again to shed a few pounds and hit the beach. I’ve decided to muster up some will power and started experimenting with a low carb diet with grand visions of lazy days on the beach in that bikini I need to fit back into. The bad news is whenever I decide to go on a diet, my brain automatically starts thinking about all the evil foods I CAN’T eat – pizza being one of the first things I start craving.
I decided to make a low-carb pizza using a parmesan garlic cauliflower crust. It sounds weird, but it’s absolutely delicious and healthy and a great substitute for traditional pizza dough when you want a healthier option to cut some carbs out of your diet (while satisfying your cravings for pizza which are absolutely NOT allowed when you’re doing low carb!) I’m absolutely in LOVE with spinach artichoke dip and thought I would make a lighter version mixed with some fresh ricotta, garlic, onion and parmesan cheese to top the pizza.
I found a gorgeous head of bright yellow Carnival cauliflower and simply shredded and chopped it into a fine crumble (you can also do this in a food processor or blender). Then I chopped up some garlic and threw them both in the microwave for about 8 minutes, then drained and let cool.
You simply need to mix in some grated parmesan cheese (or any other shredded cheese you like), an egg, garlic, dried minced onion, herbs de Provence (or dried oregano or basil), a few sesame or chia seeds (optional), some yeast, almond flour and sea salt and black pepper. Then pat the mixture on to a greased pizza sheet or Silpat mat, then bake for about 10-15 minutes until the crust is lightly golden brown.
In the meantime, to make the luscious (and healthy) spinach, artichoke and ricotta topping – simply sauté the spinach with some garlic and olive oil, mix in some chopped up artichoke hearts (precooked), fresh minced garlic, ricotta cheese and shredded parmesan cheese, then top the pizza crust spreading the mixture in an even layer. Top with some additional shredded cheese (I used sharp white cheddar but you can use mozzarella or Monterey jack or any other cheese you like that melts well), and then scoop some light and fluffy ricotta cheese on top of the mixture and bake for another 7-10 minutes until the cheeses are melted and bubbly.
In my experiment I found that you shouldn’t spread the pizza crust out on the pan too thin, as it is more fragile than a traditional dough crust and needs to be a bit thick to hold up the ingredients. So try to keep the crust about ¾” to 1 inch thick evenly all around to the edges or it will burn.
Also, let the pizza cool for about 5 minutes or so before slicing it. Top with additional salt and pepper, red pepper flakes if desired, and grated parmesan cheese.
Preheat the oven to 425. Prepare the cauliflower crust ingredients and pat down on a greased pizza pan.
Bake at 425 degrees for about 10-15 minutes until it starts to get golden brown around the edges.
Top pizza crust with spinach artichoke mixture, shredded cheese and ricotta. Bake for another 10 minutes.
Let pizza cool down for 5-10 minutes and cut into slices.
Garnish with additional salt and pepper, parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.
½ teaspoon herbs de provence (or dried basil or oregano)
½ teaspoon dried minced onion
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
red pepper flakes (optional)
Preheat the oven to 425.
Grease a 9-10” round pizza pan or place Silpat mat on a rectangular baking sheet.
Shred and chop cauliflower into fine crumbles (either by hand with a large Chef’s knife or with a food processor).
Mince the garlic and add to the cauliflower in a microwave-safe large bowl.
Microwave covered with plastic wrap for about 7-8 minutes.
Uncover, drain and let cool for about 5-10 minutes.
Add the next nine ingredients and mix together well.
Bake the crust for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove the crust from oven and set aside.
In my experiment I found that you shouldn't spread the pizza crust out on the pan too thin, as it is more fragile than a traditional dough crust and needs to be a bit thick to hold up the ingredients. So try to keep the crust about ¾” to 1 inch thick evenly all around to the edges or it will burn.
1 package frozen artichokes, defrosted (or 1-14 oz can, drained)
1-15 oz container ricotta cheese, divided in half
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup white cheddar cheese (can sub Monterey jack or mozzarella), shredded
dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
Preheat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat.
Place the spinach in a large microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Cook for about 8 minutes on HIGH.
Mince the shallots and garlic cloves and drain the spinach (pressing out extra liquids).
Add one tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the shallots for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.
Add the additional tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the spinach for another few minutes, mixing all ingredients together. Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.
Microwave the artichokes in a large microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Cook for about 5-6 minutes on HIGH and drain. (if using canned artichokes, simply drain).
Chop the artichokes up into small pieces and place into a large mixing bowl.
Add half of the container of ricotta cheese, 1 cup parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and mix well.
Stir in the spinach, shallots and garlic mixture.
Drizzle or spray some olive oil lightly on to the parbaked cauliflower pizza crust.
Spread the spinach, artichoke and ricotta mixture evenly over the crust.
Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes and scoop out a few large tablespoons of ricotta cheese and place on top of the pizza.
Bake at 425 degrees for another 7-10 minutes until the cheeses are melted and bubbly and the crust edges are light golden brown. (Watch crust edges to make sure they don't burn).
Remove pizza from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes.
Slice into wedges (or squares if making rectangular pizza) and top with additional red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese.
In my experiment I found that you shouldn't spread the pizza crust out on the pan too thin, as it is more fragile than a traditional dough crust and needs to be a bit thick to hold up the ingredients. So try to keep the crust about ¾” to 1 inch thick evenly all around to the edges or it will burn.
I recently went on a cool roadtrip with some friends over to Teterboro, NJ to go on a private Factory Tour and Tasting event at Sun Noodle’s Ramen Lab, led by Kenshiro Uki and George Kao, owners and managers of the 6,000 square foot ramen noodle factory. I met Kenshiro and team at the NY International Foodservice and Restaurant Show a few weeks ago in the Japan Pavillion and was impressed by their authentic ramen noodles and how they pair them with specific broths and toppings to create Ramen dishes from varying areas of Japan. I found out about their tasting tours from a friend who urged me to go and sample some of these amazing noodles, which have been the leading Ramen maker in Hawaii since 1981 and more recently in LA. Owner Mr. Uki and Chef Nakamura decided to open the Ramen Lab not only to produce their unique and amazing noodles, but also to educate the public and Ramen-obsessed Chefs and foodies on the process of how it’s really done in Japan.
Upon arrival, we were given crazy hair caps and Mr. Kao took us behind the scenes for a private tour of the factory to see the machinery and ingredients that they use to make all the different varieties of their ramen noodles.
We then headed up front to a 6-person tasting bar where Executive Chef Nakamura dazzled us with his authentic Japanese cooking techniques as he prepared the five different Ramen dishes for us.
Our first bowl was a ramen soup that is popular in Tokyo, with thin, yellow noodles in a chicken broth base made with soy sauce topped with seaweed, green onions, bamboo shoots and colorful fish cakes.
The second bowl was Kyushu-style in a creamy white broth, made from slow-cooked pork served over thin, straight white noodles. The Chef added the noodles dramatically to our bowls and then garnished them with roasted garlic oil, sliced pork, mushrooms and scallions.
Our third bowl of Ramen was a Sapporo-style dish made with wavy yellow noodles topped with wok-cooked ingredients, including miso, vegetables and ground pork. The fresh hot corn was topped with a pat of creamy sweet butter and the ingredients were all nestled in a gorgeous spicy miso-based broth – this was definitely my favorite of all of them!
Our fourth bowl was Mazemen, which consisted of fat, round noodles served in chicken fat topped with a dark savory sauce, topped with a soft-boiled egg, sautéed mushrooms and fried crispy bits to give it a nice crunch.
Last but not least was a bowl of Tsukemen, which had chewy, wavy noodles that we dipped in a savory, brown broth with fish flavors, spices and green onion slivers.
The coolest part of all was just sampling all the different textures and flavor combinations which are meticulously planned and prepared and served with style. They encouraged us all to eat the Ramen quickly and not be afraid to slurp or be a bit messy, as that is the way the locals eat them on the streets of Japan.
Check out Ramen Lab online and book your own tasting tour for only $40-60. Sun Noodle doesn’t sell their Ramen to the public (primarily only to Chefs and top Japanese restaurants such as Momofuko and Chuko in NYC), but if you want to buy some of their packaged fresh or dried Ramen you can find them at a Japanese mega market in NJ called Mitsuwa Marketplace (among other fun and authentic Japanese items and produce!)
Sun Noodle Ramen Lab
375 N St
Teeterboro, NJ 07608 | (201) 530-1100
The Crosby Hotel Bar is a fun, trendy place in SoHo I have passed by several times but finally took some friends to on a Sunday afternoon recently. With it’s sun-drenched lounge, modern decor and lighting and a buzzy atmosphere this is a perfect spot for a weekend cocktail and brunch. The menu has a great variety of small plates such as Pulled Pork and Beef Sliders, a Smoked Mozzarella, Bacon and Ricotta Flatbread with Caramelized Onions (see photo above!), Leek Potstickers, and Lamb Kofta Kabobs plus a whole slew of other tasty treats to pair with a nice glass of wine. They also offer entrees of fish, short ribs, burgers, steaks, sandwiches, risotto and plenty of gorgeous veggies sides to accompany. The atmosphere is relaxed and fun – you can sit at the bar or at one of the cozy lounge couches in the atrium and also enjoy breakfast, brunch and one of their signature cocktails with friends. The hotel also serves an English Afternoon Tea in The Crosby Bar all day. It includes a variety of teas served in the traditional style with delicious cakes, scones, tarts and sandwiches. Champagne is a glamorous addition and residents can also take their tea in the drawing room. Don’t miss it.
I don’t know about you but I absolutely LOVE homemade fresh pasta over store-bought fresh or dried pasta any day of the week. But, if you have ever made it before you know that it’s a total labor of love mixing and kneading the dough, and flattening it through a hand crank machine or cutting into those gorgeous shapes by hand. There’s a great new machine called the Viante Pasta Maker that makes all of this so easy to do it’s almost crazy to not get it. With a powerful mixing motor and 10 interchangeable cutting discs you can make restaurant-quality vermicelli, ziti, tagliatelle, fettuccini, spaghetti, rigatoni, pappardelle, linguini, and biscotti in minutes. Just pull the slider to extrude dough into your desired shape. No more hand cranks or crazy kneading and cutting by hand – for only a buck and a half (about $150) – this makes anyone’s pasta obsession so much more fun, and gives you more time to be creative with all the toppings and sauces. Love it.
I stumbled upon this place one night while I was walking home and was immediately drawn in by its stunning artwork, interior design and sparkling chandeliers when you walk in the door. Originating in Brooklyn, Forcella is know for its Neapolitan-style pizza made in their wood burning ovens that reaches over 1000 degrees, cooking the pizza in 90 seconds flat. They claim to have a secret recipe for the dough, that makes it perfectly chewy and crispy with all those gorgeous browned puffy bits on top.
I sampled the four-cheese Arancini rice balls and the Truffle Parmesan Fries with Aioli for a starters while sipping a lovely Aperol Spritz at the bar. They have a great happy hour too – 2 for 1 drinks and reasonable small plates such as Prosciutto and Cheese, Fried Calamari and Grilled Octopus. For lighter fare, you can try one of their salads or a sampling of fresh handmade mozzarella and burrata.
Their Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizzas, created by their certified pizza master, Guilio Adriani, come in about 20 different varieties (or you can create your own). They also have a nice selection of entrees such as Risotto, Ravioli and Pasta, Grilled Lamb Chops or Pan-Seared Jumbo Shrimp wrapped in Bacon in a Brandy Cream Sauce (which I have yet to try but it sounds divine!)
Visit their two additional locations in Williamsburg, Brooklyn or the Bowery – all are open 7 days a week – until 11 pm Sunday through Thursday, and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Definitely worth a visit (if just to watch them make their fabulous pizzas in one minute!)
377 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10016
I found these awesome, colorful illustrated Bon Appetit foodie totes online at A-Thread and fell in love with them at first sight. I might just have to get one of each! Designed by the team from TheyDrawandCook.com, the Bon Appetit Tote comes in four designs – each a gorgeous, one of a kind TDAC illustrated recipe. Choose from Butter Beans, Chocolate Apricots, Hot Toddy, and Pretty Parsnip.
The tote is made from 12 oz natural cotton canvas and features a slip pocket in the side gusset – the perfect place for sunglasses, wallet, or a bottle of wine. The bag measures 10″w x 14″h x 5″d, and the handles are 24″ long and 1″ wide. The best part is that with each purchase of this tote, a donation will be made to the World Food Program USA and will feed 5 children!
There’s something about homemade Strawberry Jam that takes me back to my childhood when my Mom would pick fresh berries from her summer garden and make big batches of this sweet lovely jam for us. I haven’t experimented with canning yet but have been dying to make my own homemade concoctions – but in a tiny NY apartment i just haven’t found the space to store all the canning equipment and jars to do so. Ball now has a cool automatic jam and jelly maker that makes the process of making jellies and jams easy with a machine that does all the work for you.
The FreshTECH™ Automatic Jam & Jelly Maker with SmartStir™ Technology brings ease and convenience to homemade jams and jellies. The jam maker stirs the ingredients while it cooks so you don’t have to! Use your favorite fruits, fruit juices and even peppers to create delicious, natural jams and jellies in under 30 minutes. It is the perfect tool for both new and experienced canners, and a great way to incorporate fresh ingredients for healthier eating. The pot has a nonstick interior, making for easy clean up between batches. The pot, glass lid and stirring paddle are dishwasher safe. Can’t wait to get my hands on this fun tool so I can recreate Mom’s Strawberry Homemade jam in a flash!
Check out the video showing how cool and fun this machine is!
Get it online at Amazon.com. Photo credit: Ball USA.
7. Elephant Ceramics by Michele Michael
I can’t remember exactly where i first discovered Elephant Ceramics, but I fell in love with this gorgeous work the second I saw it – thinking these pieces of art would be perfect for my food styling and photography props. I have always loved ceramics and actually took a class once to make some of my own – I love their rustic and artistic nature, and imperfect organic shapes and textures. Michele Michael is the creator of this beautiful line of ceramics, from her studio on the coast of Maine. – The calm and cool white, blue and green palettes and rustic textures of her pieces emulate rugged, coastal scenery which seems to be an obvious source of inspiration for her gorgeous handmade creations. Can’t wait to get my hands on some of these beauties and I’m sure you will too once you see them.
This is a new fun Mexican joint that just opened in Murray Hill – created by The Spotted Pig and The Breslin team. Located inside the cool POD39 Hotel, it has a snazzy bar in front that opens into a huge recreational room in back, complete with lounge couches and tables, a second bar, fireplace, and two ping pong tables. The atmosphere is buzzing with after work crowds and is perfect for happy hour if you just want to grab a few margaritas and some authentic Mexican bar snacks. They offer amazing small tacos (2 per plate) ranging from $3 to $6 (steak, pork, chicken, cauliflower curry and Korean BBQ) and have great homemade guacamole and tortilla chips, crispy pig ears, quesadillas, beef chili, beer-braised short ribs, Morrocan Lamb on Naan and more. Open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner – you can get your Mexican fix any time you like in this delicious fun and trendy casual spot.
EAT Boutique is the brain-child of Maggie Battista, a dynamic food blogger and business woman I have met a few times through IACP and the Cookbook Conference in NYC. Her site is full of gorgeous photos, fun stories, and best of all – create-your-own gift boxes full of awesome foodie items and small batch foods by boutique food makers. EAT Boutique’s team curates seasonal and regional homespun gift and tasting boxes as gifts for food fans, and also sell their cool discoveries individually for the home cook. They have also recently started hosting intimate tasting events and convivial local pop up markets for their favorite food makers, cookbook authors and small batch food fans in different cities. You’ll find goodies such as a delightful box of macarons, exotic sea salts, handmade ceramics and kitchenwares, gourmet syrups and ice creams, vinegars, sauces, coffee and teas or local made wine, and I guarantee you’ll find something you love on this site!
So who DOESN’T like an awesome rockin’ outta this world Mac and Cheese? I usually make my own but when I’ve got the craving for that ooey gooey cheesey bowl of sin and don’t feel like cooking I always order online or make a visit to S’Mac in Murray Hill or the East Village in NYC. First off, they have about 11 different flavors and varieties. Secondly, you can order four different sizes depending on how hungry you are (Nosh, Major Munch, Mongo or Partay!). Last but not least, they are all made to order with awesome ingredients and baked to a crunchy, gooey existence served in a cast iron pan giving it that brown crispy crust with a melted world of yum on the inside. Choose from Classic Four Cheese, Cheeseburger, Alpine (Gruyere and Bacon!), Napoleanata (Mozzarella with roasted tomatoes, garlic and basil – yum!), Parissiene (Brie, roasted figs and Shitake mushrooms and fresh rosemary), Indian Masala, Buffalo Chicken, or you can create your own fantastic flavor combination with whatever meats, cheeses and veggies you want. Choose from traditional elbows or whole-wheat pasta and add a topping of buttery, crunchy breadcrumbs to make it even more sinful. Once you taste this You can also get your lip smacking goodness, you’ll never open a box of that yellow-powdered cheese stuff again.
Rochester, NY may not be the first place that comes to mind for your next culinary travel adventure. But here are several reasons why you should – growing up there has given me some fond memories of delicious, hometown food and restaurants that are worth visiting every time I pay a visit. (In fact, I refuse to visit Rochester without an Abbott’s Frozen Custard in the summertime – vanilla and chocolate swirl, with chocolate sprinkles in a waffle cone, thank you very much!)
Rochester is a melting pot of cultures due to the extensive number of Italian, Polish, Ukrainian, German and European immigrants that settled there in the mid-1800s. For the food lovers out there, you can definitely find some of the best pizza, heroes and wing joints to old-world specialty foods to funky diners and cafes in the trendy parts of the city such as Park Avenue and Monroe Avenue. Here are some of the places you don’t want to miss to get a true taste of the unique array of food in this in All-American town.
Burgers, Hots and Wings
Nick Tahou’s Hots: This is a place you don’t want to miss! Home of the famous “garbage” plate, Nick Tahou’s is a Rochester legend founded in 1918 located near the University of Rochester packed with starving college students gobbling up their legendary mile-high greasy plates after a few too many drinks. The garbage plate consists of either two cheeseburgers or hot dogs smothered in onions and their famous Rochester-style meaty hot-sauce, with a side of macaroni salad and home fries, topped with more hot sauce and the works. Word of warning: you may need some Pepcid the next morning, but it sure hits the spot after a night out at 3 am. www.garbageplate.com
Located at: 3070 West Henrietta Rd., Rochester, NY 14623 ~ 585-272-1182.
Anchor Bar: This is the home of the original Buffalo Wing recipe, founded in Buffalo, New York in 1964 by Teressa Bellissimo. Their wings are big and meaty, crispy on the outside and drenched in the most delicious, buttery hot sauce you’ll ever taste. Make sure to get the generous side of celery and carrots with blue cheese dressing for dipping to cool your flaming lips along with a nice draft lager from the bar to wash it all down for a true experience. Plenty of beer and wing specials daily (.50 cent wings on Tuesdays), and it’s a fun atmosphere in the trendy theatre district area on East Ave. www.anchorbarrochesternewyork.com
Located at: 355 East Ave. Rochester, NY 14604 ~ 585-861-6475
Country Sweet Chicken and Ribs: Country Sweet is a Rochester-based BBQ joint best known for their special sweet and spicy sauce and succulent barbeque chicken and ribs. The best item on their menu is their colossal-sized crispy battered chicken wings, drenched in their signature sweet and addictive wing sauce so good you’ll want to lick the plate. These are not Buffalo wings and the sauce is an exclusive “Rochester thing”- they are more of a cross between Southern Fried Chicken drenched in a sweet and spicy sauce you’ve never tasted anywhere else. The chicken and ribs are phenomenal too (try the Country Sweet Sampler Dinner with Chicken, Ribs, Wings, Fries, Macaroni Salad and Coleslaw), and you can even purchase a jar of their special sauce to take home with you if you can’t get enough of it on your visit. Located on Mount Hope Avenue, this is one finger lickin’ spot you don’t want to miss when you’re in town. http://rocwiki.org/Country_Sweet
Located at: 1691 Mount Hope Ave, Rochester, NY 14620 ~ 585.244.3200
Italian and Pizza
Mario’s Via Abruzzi: Mario’s serves classic Italian fare and steaks, in an upscale neighborhood establishment on Monroe Avenue. Owners Mario and Flora Daniele originated in the Abruzzi region of Italy, and opened several restaurants in Detroit, MI and Rochester, NY for 16 years before the grand opening of their Monroe avenue location, that is now the most popular Italian restaurant in town. They use the freshest ingredients and make their own pasta and sauces, and their wine list is extensive and impressive. They are most well known for their family style dinners that include 5 courses: Antipasto, pasta, salad, a main entrée such as Chicken Saltimbocca or Roast Strip Loin served with Garlicky Greens and Beans and Mashed Potatoes and topped off with homemade rum-soaked Tiramisu for dessert. The impressive space is great for special occasions; they are open 7 days a week, accept large parties and reserve the dining room for private events and weddings. They also offer lunch specials and take out and delivery service. http://www.mariosviaabruzzi.com
Location: 2740 Monroe Avenue, Rochester, NY14618 ~ 585.271.1111
Bay Goodman Pizza: Established in 1955, Bay Goodman Pizza is a legend in Rochester, known for the best brick oven pizza in town. The establishment is modest, in a small shack-like building with booths and carpeting that looks like it hasn’t been updated since the 50’s. But one bite of their crunchy crust and tangy tomato sauce oozing with gooey cheese and loaded with crispy pepperoni in every bite, and you’ll be hooked for life. Some even say Bay Goodman gives NYC pizza a run for its money – don’t miss this one! http://www.baygoodman.com
Location: 620 North Winton Road, Rochester, NY14609 ~ 585.288.0730
Jine’s Diner – Park Ave: Located in the cultural and historic area of Park Avenue, Jine’s is a charming cafe and long time favorite of Rochesterians. Their breakfast menu features 24 types of omelettes, including the Wild Mushroom and Crumbled Bleu omelette and an amazing Mediterranean omelette filled with a blend of spinach, feta and tomato and fresh herbs. Belgian waffles, pancakes and Banana bread French toast are also local favorites for Brunch. Their lunch menu features homemade soups and specialty salads as well as a variety of cold and hot sandwiches that are out of this world. Their dinner menu boasts American favorites such as Pork Chops and Meatloaf and they even offer a Greek menu with savory items like Spanikopita and Souvlaki. Open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. http://www.jinesrestaurant.com
Location: 658 Park Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607 ~ 585.461.1280
Highland Park Diner: This 1940s gem is an art-deco-styled diner near Highland Park that is actually an old train cabin, finished in stainless steel and original Art Deco style furnishings. Nestled between Highland Park and Cobbs Hill Park on Clinton Avenue South, this is a landmark eating establishment with great diner food to boot. They are famous for their homemade corned beef hash served with eggs, hash browns and toast and serve freshly squeezed orange juice and coarse ground corn grits as a special treat for the Yankee folks Upstate. Their prices are reasonable and the food is delicious, and it’s worth going just for the atmosphere and history behind it. http://www.wherethelocalseat.com/Rochester-Restaurants/Highland-Park-Diner-Rochester-NY-WebID-17562.aspx
Location: 960 Clinton Ave South, Rochester, NY14620 ~ 585.461.5040
Daisy Flour Mill: This fine dining establishment is an authentic historic landmark and a special treat for any visit to Rochester. Located on the Irondequoit Creek in scenic Ellison Park, the restaurant originated from an 1848 Grist Mill, now restored with all of the original equipment still in place. They offer classic American Cuisine such as Prime Rib, Norwegian Salmon, Lobster and Shrimp Scampi and a Mixed Grill of Smoked Ostrich sausage, Venison filet and Sirloin Steak smothered in a special cream sauce they call “Robert Sauce”. Their entrees run from $13-26 and include fresh baked rolls, choice of baked, Vermont cheddar au gratin or cracked peppercorn-horseradish whipped red bliss potatoes. A beautiful atmosphere and unique dining experience for intimate dinners to special private events. http://www.gofattie.com
The Pierogie Guy: Founded by “The Pierogie Guy” Matt Lewis and his wife, Kelly started their business “Melting Pot Foods” with secret family recipes, crafting their own version of this handmade specialty. Every pierogie (Polish stuffed dumpling, steamed or fried) is made by hand, and stuffed with unique flavorful fillings such as Buffalo Chicken, Sauerkraut and Mushroom, Garlic Smashed Potatoes and Pulled Pork. They make their famous dough dumplings swimming in butter in the “Pierogie Dungeon”, in their basement kitchen in East Rochester. All of their ingredients are all natural and sourced from local produce farms in Upstate NY and they put a lot of labor and love into each one. You can find them at Rohrbach’s Brewing Company and Flour City Diner and they are also available at a dozen local area stores such as Mise En Place and Casa Italiana. http://www.thepierogieguy.com
The Ravioli Shop: At this specialty Italian shop, all of their fine fresh Pastries, fresh Ravioli and Pasta, homemade sauce and Italian bread are made daily. They also sell gourmet items such as imported olive oil, sea salts, herbs and spices. They have 14 varieties of handmade ravioli including Artichoke, 5-cheese, Broccoli Feta, Lobster, Pumpkin and Asparagus and Goat Cheese. Their sauce contains only tomatoes and salt and their cream sauces use cream sourced from local dairies: Marinara, Tomato with Roasted Red Peppers, Vodka Cream, Alfredo and Mushroom Cream. A true Italian gem to discover. http://www.theraviolishop.com
Abbott’s Frozen Custard: Established in 1902, Abbott’s Custard serves up the richest, creamiest frozen dessert in town. Their custard is slow churned in barrels with a custard base, and they use a special vanilla extract, real fruit purees and endless toppings such as fudge, cookies, candies and sprinkles to top off their delicious sweet treats. Abbott’s has over 40 locations in the nation, grown from a single location on Lake and Beach Avenues across from Ontario State Park. They also offer sundaes, cakes, pies, shakes, floats and flurrys to cool you off in the summer heat. http://www.abbottscustard.com
Location: 2195 Empire Blvd., Webster, NY 14580 ~ 585.671.6365
Leo’s Elite Bakery & Deli: A 60 year old family business owned by Pat and Kathy Bemunzio, Originally known as The Balta Pie Company before the family sold their business to General Mills, Leo’s creates special order cakes such as Chocolate Raspberry Rum and German Chocolate, Cannolis, Biscotti, Cookies, Danishes, fresh baked Italian bread, deli sandwiches, subs and wraps. They also create party trays, specialty gourmet salads and heat and serve dinners including homemade meatballs and sauce, pot roast and pulled pork and baked beans. http://www.leoselite.com
Location: 101 Despatch Drive, E. Rochester, NY 14445 ~ 585.249.1000
Fresh Food Markets
Wegman’s: Rochester’s family-owned mega store supermarket chain is a definite must-see on any trip to Rochester. Founded by John Wegman in 1916 as Rochester Fruit & Vegetable Company, he and his brother opened their first 20,000 sq foot store on Clinton Avenue in 1930. Expanding across Rochester and Buffalo and now across the eastern seaboard to New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia, Wegmans is now known as one of Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For”. Their stores have an amazing selection of fresh, frozen and prepared food and have now expanded into opening First Market Café at some of their store locations. The larger showcase stores have food courts inside, featuring Sushi Bar, an Asian Wokery Bar, Italian food, brick oven baked pizzas, a Cappuccino bar and more. They offer cooking classes and live demonstration events from their own Wegmans chefs in a wide location of stores and have their own magazine “Menu” and online blog featuring recipes, cooking tips and celebrity chef articles. This is definitely not your average supermarket and worth the trip. www.wegmans.com
Location: Wegmans Pittsford – 3195 Monroe Avenue, Rochester, NY 14618 ~ 585.586.6680
Rochester Public Market: Located in the heart of Rochester, the Public Market is open all year around on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Here you’ll find local vendors offering ethnic specialties, farm fresh fruit and vegetables, meat from local farms, and specialty items from home baked goods to flowers, plants, dry goods and jewelry. The prices are fair, due to the fact that consumers can buy directly from producers and bypass the middleman costs and support local and regional farmers. http://www.cityofrochester.gov/publicmarket/
Location: Pennsylvania Avenue between Niagara St and 1st St, Rochester, NY14609