Archive for the ‘New York City’ Category

An article recently appeared in Eater, showing how you can make the famous Shake Shack burgers. (https://www.eater.com/2017/5/13/15629654/recipe-shake-shack-burger?yptr=yahoo) But the one thing missing was the “Shack Sauce.” I’m here to help with that!

If I haven’t completely captured the taste of it, I’ve come pretty darn close. I do know that my Awesomesauce makes every cheeseburger I grill taste amazing. It’s also fantastic for shrimp, crab or lobster salad…a dip for veggies or boiled shrimp…a dressing for tacos…and great on salads.

Awesomesauce

 

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon dill pickle relish
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate it covered for a few hours to blend the flavors.

These pancakes, based on a recipe from chef April Bloomfield (The Spotted Pig and The Breslin in NYC), are made from fresh homemade ricotta cheese. Light as air…and really delicious! I’ve made a few batches of fresh ricotta cheese in my day, but when the family has a craving for these pancakes at the last minute, a good-quality store-bought ricotta cheese will do.

 

 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I use Cup4Cup GF flour if I want to make these gluten-free)
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups milk
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup fresh ricotta

 

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In another large bowl, whisk together the milk, ricotta,  and egg yolks. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

In a large stainless steel bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are stiff, but not dry. Fold gently into the batter.

Spray a non-stick griddle with a little cooking spray and drop about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake. Cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes per side, until golden and fluffy.

pancake

Most everything’s better when you do it yourself, and smoked whitefish salad is no exception. Sure, I can get whitefish salad at my favorite deli when I go home to New York, and it’s pretty good. But they treat the whitefish like they do tuna: they mash the fish to the point where you can’t recognize what you’re eating. And then they add a ton of mayonnaise as filler.

fish1

On a recent visit home, I bought a nice whole smoked whitefish from my favorite supermarket on steroids: Fairway (one of my stops in New York for fish, meat, coffee, and cheese.) I took extra care to really go through all the meat a couple of times to make sure there weren’t any sharp bones left in it. And I left the whitefish meat in small pieces, much like I would with crab meat.

fish2

Interestingly, I didn’t learn how to make whitefish salad from my Jewish New York neighbors. I learned it from my father-in-law in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where smoked whitefish is a favorite treat, caught right in the waters of the Great Lakes.

Buying whitefish at one of many smoke shacks at the foot of the Mackinac Bridge, which connects the Lower Peninsula to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Buying whitefish at one of many smoke shacks at the foot of the Mackinac Bridge, which connects the Lower Peninsula to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

1 whole 1-lb. smoked whitefish meat, carefully de-boned
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons dill pickle relish
2 teaspoons finely minced onion
pinch black pepper
tiny pinch sea salt

Real fish has real bones, so make sure you go through the meat a couple of times. Place the meat in a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well, but gently to keep the meat from breaking apart.

Spoon onto crackers and enjoy!

fish3

It’s hard to believe that the iconic F.A.O. Schwarz store in New York City is closing, due to rising rental costs. I suppose it’s not as hard to believe when you realize that it’s now owned by Toys R Us. They say they’ll move the store to Times Square or somewhere else in Manhattan where the rent is more reasonable, but it simply won’t be the same for many people, like myself, who grew up going to the store every holiday season.

The movie “Big,” starring Tom Hanks gave F.A.O. Schwarz global fame, when Hanks and Robert Loggia danced on the giant floor piano. Since then, lines were out the door every day for fans of the movie to get a chance to do the same.

toy2

And several years ago,  I secured a reservation for a private tour of the store, led by one of F.A.O. Schwarz’s own soldiers. Before the store doors were opened for the day, we got to tour the entire store and dance on that famous floor piano before the crazy crowds made their way in. A wonderful memory we shared with our daughter and one I hope she’ll never forget.

toy1

It’s not the holiday season. But if you’re in the New York area, you owe it to yourself to visit the original F.A.O. Schwarz location one last time before it goes away on July 15th. It’ll be a sad day for kids everywhere.

The inspiration for this sauce was my attempt to replicate the “Shack Sauce” they use at Shake Shack , a high-end burger joint owned by restaurateur Danny Meyer. Since it opened in New York City’s Madison Square Park in 2004, Shake Shack has expanded to many other locations around the world.

I don’t know if I captured the Shack Sauce secret. But I do know that my Awesomesauce makes every burger I grill taste amazing. It’s also fantastic for shrimp, crab or lobster salad…a dip for veggies or boiled shrimp…a dressing for tacos…and great on salads.

Awesomesauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon dill pickle relish
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Refrigerate covered for a few hours to blend the flavors.

It’s always a challenge when you’re on a diet. I’m going no alcohol and low-carb to lose some weight. (Down 6 lbs. in 5 days so far.) My wife needs to include gluten-free food in her diet, though she can have a few carbs. Fish is a great source of protein, and we love it sauteed in a little butter and olive oil with Paul Prudhomme’s Seafood Magic seasoning on it. But let’s face it, that gets old after a while, and we all know there’s nothing tastier than fried fish.

Rather than using a heavy beer batter like I used to do (damn good and easy to do:http://wp.me/p1c1Nl-en), I came up with a very light gluten-free-flour-based seasoning that gave the fresh-caught local fish we bought incredible flavor and crunch without a carb overload and without gluten. Damn good, and I have to say, you’d never know the difference.

There are many gluten-free flours out there now, and all you need to do is substitute them cup-for-cup in any recipe you have. I’ve tried Bob’s Red Mill (OK), King Arthur (better), and Pamela’s (very good–what I used for this recipe.) I’ve just ordered the latest: Cup 4 Cup, created by chefs that include the famous Thomas Keller, which we tasted at Mario Batali’s Del Posto restaurant in New York City recently. They have about 12 different pasta dishes on their menu, and each one has a gluten-free option using the Cup 4 Cup flour. They were fantastic!

image

 

1 cup flour (all-purpose or gluten-free)

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon granulated onion

1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

1 teaspoon paprika

2 eggs

fresh locally caught fish fillets of your choice (I used fluke and ocean perch)

Organic GMO-free canola oil or avocado oil for frying

 

In a flat bowl you will use to dredge the fish fillets, combine the flour, salt and pepper, parsley, oregano, granulated onion and garlic, and paprika.

In a separate flat bowl, scramble the 2 eggs.

Pour about 1/2″ of the oil in a pan and heat to medium-high heat.

Dip the fish fillets first in the eggs, coating well. Then dredge in the flour mixture, pressing down on both sides, so the flour mixture really sticks to the fish. Then shake the fillet lightly to remove the excess flour and gently lay the fillet in the hot oil. Fry until golden.

We made a quick and delicious tartare sauce using mayonnaise, dill pickle relish and Maille sauterne mustard.

 

Despite the large Italian community we have here in southern New England, there’s no exceptional pizza to speak of. I suppose you could say “them’s fightin’ words!” but if it’s here, I haven’t found it yet. (Fellini Pizza is about the best in Providence…and New Bedford’s Brick makes a good pie.)

 

So where is the excellent pizza? New York City, of course. OK…maybe I’m prejudiced because I’m a Brooklyn boy, and worked in a variety of pizzerias in my younger days, but there’s no doubt in my mind that if you want the best pizza–or bagel, for that matter–you’ve got to go to the Big Apple. (Even “Frank Pepe’s” in New Haven, CT is a mere stop on the way to the real deal.)

 

Pizza in NYC can be confusing as there are many different varieties to choose from. Brick oven pizzas abound, but there are pizza lovers who won’t settle for anything less than a pizza baked in a coal-fired oven. The extremely high heat of a coal-fired oven cooks the pizza in just a minute, and imparts a crusty, charred flavor you can’t get any other way. There are only about a dozen coal-fired pizzerias in New York City, and many of them have been around for 100 years or more, so it’s definitely a matter of making a special trip to enjoy this style of pizza.

 

Plenty of good, basic pizza, too: the traditional thin, round Neopolitan pie, and the thicker, square Sicilian pie, baked in that Blodgett pizza oven we all knew in our early pizza-making days.

 

So several years ago, when I heard through the pizza lovers’ grapevine that a “new” pizza was out there, one that was gaining a cult following, I needed to know about it. And more importantly, I needed to taste it!

 

It’s called Pizza Montanara, and there’s only a few pizzerias in New York City that serve it. The one I go to without fail is PizzArte, on West 55th, and I have to say it’s the ultimate pizza.

 

What makes Pizza Montanara so spectacular, quite simply, is that the dough is fried in oil before they put the sauce and cheese on it, and then they cook it in a wood burning oven. It is not greasy. The frying process, which lasts only a minute, puffs the dough up and creates a beautiful pillow-like softness that I’ve never experienced in a pizza before. Imagine a pizza cloud and you’ve got Pizza Montanara.

My signature pizza: marinated beef tenderloin with chive blossoms. Not Pizza Montanara, but not bad!

My signature pizza: marinated beef tenderloin with chive blossoms. Not Pizza Montanara, but not bad!

 

I’ve made Pizza Montanara at home, with some success. I poured a few inches of olive oil in a large skillet, stretched my dough into a small pie, and gently floated it into the pan. Using a spatula and tongs, I was able to flip the fried dough over after about 30 seconds, then removed it from the pan after another 30 seconds. It was golden and puffy. I quickly sauced and cheesed it and in the oven it went. But it’s a messy process I’d rather leave to the pros.

 

I’ll be “living the live” in New York City this weekend. PizzArte already on the list for Friday night. Looks for the photos. I can’t think of anything better than an amazing Pizza Montanara before I go on my no-carb diet next week!

The inspiration for this sauce was my attempt to replicate the “Shack Sauce” they use at Shake Shack , a high-end burger joint owned by restaurateur Danny Meyer. Since it opened in New York City’s Madison Square Park in 2004, Shake Shack has expanded to many other locations around the world.

I don’t know if I captured the Shack Sauce secret. But I do know that my Awesomesauce makes every cheeseburger I grill taste amazing. It’s also fantastic for shrimp, crab or lobster salad…a dip for veggies or boiled shrimp…a dressing for tacos…and great on salads.

Awesomesauce

Ingredients:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon ketchup

1 Tablespoon yellow mustard

1 tablespoon dill pickle relish

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika

Pinch cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate covered for a few hours to blend flavors.

Porchetta is a savory, fatty, herby, delicious slab of pig that is slow roasted…a favorite in Italy. Porchetta is also the name of a small eatery on the Lower east side of New York City, the baby of chef Sara Jenkins, where they serve this Italian classic almost exclusively, with lines of people winding down the block, waiting for their taste of pig heaven.

porchetta1

Traditional porchetta is made from a hog that is butchered, boned and roasted. Porchetta in New York City takes the pork loin, wraps it with the belly and skin, and slow roasts it in their special Combi oven. The result is nothing short of fantastic.

porchetta2

Both methods are way too big for my kitchen, so I took a page out of one of my favorite cooking magazines, La Cucina Italiana , where chef Jenkins described how a homemade version of porchetta was possible using boneless pork shoulder.
Well, I didn’t have a boneless pork shoulder, dammit! I had two beautiful pork tenderloins…not nearly as fatty, and no pork skin to wrap them with. I knew that I would have to be extremely careful not to totally dry my pork out.

Before...

Before…

Ingredients:

10 small fresh sage leaves
3 fresh small rosemary sprigs, leaves only
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons wild fennel pollen (see below)
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
2 pork tenderloins (2 1/2 to 3 lb total)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine

Heat oven to 250 degrees.

Finely chop the sage, rosemary and garlic. (I place them in a food processor.) Place mixture in a small bowl and add fennel pollen, salt and pepper. Stir together well.

Rub the herb mixture all over the 2 tenderloin pieces. Tie the tenderloins together with butcher twine. (Usually one end of the tenderloin is fatter and the other thinner. Line them up so that one fat end is tied with one thin end, making the pork package of equal thickness.)

Set pork fat side up in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil.

Roast the tenderloins, basting with the wine and pan juices every 15 minutes. Cook until pork has an internal temperature of 140 degrees.

After!

After!

Despite that it came out somewhat awesome, I plan on using a pork shoulder next time. Leftovers make great sandwiches!