Boredom & leftovers work wonders

8 04 2007

I didn’t feel like making the trek to Manhattan tonight, so I decided to stay in and cook for me and my brother. I had been craving pasta, and I knew we had some linguine in the cabinet. So I tossed it together with some leftover olives, among other things. I also wanted to make meatballs because I had made it once for my mother’s party. This time I put my own spin on it and took a little from different recipes. I don’t really have set measurements for the linguine since I just sort of tossed in things I thought would taste good and guesstimated the amounts.


linguine with olives

  • 1/2 box of linguine
  • olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of the pan with a thin layer)
  • handful of olives
  • 2 plum tomatoes chopped up
  • 2 cloves of garlic sliced thinly
  • 3 shallots (tiny onions)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes to sprinkle on top

Boil the pasta to the point before it becomes cooked because you’re going to cook it again in the pan. While boiling the pasta, start sauteing the garlic and shallots in olive oil. I usually add the salt here, so that the oil doesn’t jump out of the pan, little secret I learned from my momma. When they’ve browned nicely, add the pasta and 1/3 cup of the pasta water(maybe? I just poured some in, not drowning the pasta, but maybe about 1/2 inch from the bottom). It keeps the pasta from drying out and the water will eventually get soaked up by the pasta ( I learned that from Lydia Bastianach). Toss the pasta a bit, then add pepper and the olives. The last thing I added was the tomatoes so that they still retained their freshness and don’t become mushy, because I wasn’t making marinara sauce.

meatballs

  • 1 lb beef
  • handful of chopped parsley
  • handful of chopped basil
  • 1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 finely chopped shallots
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of flour
  • olive oil

Lightly mix all the ingredients, except for the olive oil and flour, together with your hands. Get all that stuff mixed together evenly as you can. Then start rolling small balls, about an inch or smaller, in a circular motion in your palm and then roll them in the flour. Tap off the excess flour. It’s a lot easier to roll them all first before you start cooking unless you have another person helping you to turn the meatballs in the pan, otherwise it’s like a juggling act.

In a pan, heat up the olive oil, about 3 tablespoons. Then, lower the heat to about medium low, spacing out the meatballs so that they can cook evenly, drop those babies in. Let each side brown deeply and continually rotate them. They take about 5-8 minutes to cook, but keep an eye on them because they can burn really quickly. Eat them while they’re hot, although they’re still tasty at room temperature.

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A Family Affair

7 04 2007

Every Friday, my entire family (grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins) gets together and eats dinner. Needless to say, it’s fairly nosy with lots of shouting and laughter. These dinners used to be at my grandparents’ house, then when they moved, their apartment and every once in awhile, a Cantonese restaurant in Brooklyn Chinatown. The kids would congregate around the television, relishing TGIF (oh, how I miss the days of Family Matters, Step by Step, Perfect Strangers, Boy Meets World), while the adults would be around the dinner table discussing whatever it is grown-ups talk about.

Last summer, my uncle opened his own restaurant on Eighth Avenue (Bklyn Chinatown) and 52nd Street, called Lucky Eight (there was much debate on what the name should be, I suggested On Rice and Men, hehehe). Another of my relatives is the chef, previously he had been a four star chef in Asia. It’s much classier than most of the other places in the neighborhood and serves really great Cantonese food for a great price. The waiters speak English and the menus feature lots of pictures so you won’t have a mystery dinner. Below are some of the dishes we had this past Friday. I don’t know their names, since my uncle usually orders in Cantonese, so I will give my own interpretation of what the dish is.

Giant crab with chow fun – this was my favorite dish of the night. It’s really flavorful, and the first time I’ve ever had crab sitting in noodles. We normally get crab with steamed egg which is also heavenly and really rich.


Steamed fish topped with scallions, parsley and ginger in soy sauce. I think the fish is probably sea bass, but don’t quote me on that. It’s a really great way of cooking fish, because it keeps it tender and delectable. I like especially like eating it with the scallions and ginger, adds extra punch. My grandmother loves the sauce and spoons gallons of it over her rice.


Eggplant with squid and a myriad of other goodies like snow peas and mushrooms. It’s sort of like a hot pot dish, but keeps the eggplant intact and not overly mushy like other eggplant dishes. I love eggplant, so I like this dish a lot with it’s smoky flavor and chunky eggplant pieces. Really good with rice.

Sauteed chicken with Chinese broccoli. I usually don’t like chicken cooked this way because it’s dry and tasteless. But here, it’s really moist and flavorful.

This is my grandmother’s favorite dish and we’ve ordered it at basically every restaurant we go to. It’s green beans sauteed with minced pork. It’s pretty salty, but it’s really great when the green beans are fresh and not overcooked.

So yes, it may seem like I’m biased, but I really wouldn’t lie about food of all things. I’ve eaten lots of Cantonese food, to the point of being sick of it sometimes, and this is truly the best Cantonese place in New York. If you ever want to go, just let me know, and I’ll be there. I would recommend going with at least 3 other people so you can share a good number of dishes, family style. Don’t be intimidated by the trek to Brooklyn, it’s really easy to get there, just take the N train to 8th Avenue and walk down to 52nd Street.

Lucky Eight
Eighth Avenue and 52nd street





i appear to have misplaced my vowels

7 04 2007

I finally tried one of those new burger joints, brgr. It’s a nicer version of the higher end burger places like Burger Heaven, for instance. You order at the counter, and pick up your own drink, but they bring you your food and the decor is nicer than your average Burger King. It has meaty red color tones and dim lighting to make your eating partners more attractive.
As for drinks, they offer a wide array of milkshakes – including a blueberry pomegranate flavor, none of which I tried because I wouldn’t be able to also eat my burger without turning comatose. But I did try their good white (versus their good red, better red and better white) and for $4, it wasn’t bad, not in the least.

On to the burgers!
My all natural turkey burger with – pay attention now – gruyere cheese, a fried egg, fried onions, brgr sauce and horseradish cream. AND of course, each bite I drenched in ketchup, mustard, and my new favorite sauce, smoky chipotle tabasco sauce. Yes I suppose all of that could mask the taste of the meat, but that’s why I love burgers, for the toppings that mesh perfectly with the meatiness and I loveeeeeee sauces. The pickles were also quite good, not the super briny deep green kind you find in Micky D’s, but a freshier, not so tart version. So I would say that in terms of sauciness and flavor, it was pretty successful. The only thing lacking was the bun, which could have been a little crispier.

Next up:

This doesn’t depict the actual burger very good, but it was the famed Montana Legend Angus beef along with brie and bacon. Apparently, the beef wasn’t that good but everything else was. Onion hay seemed unremarkable from everyone else’s reactions, asI didn’t try it.

And finally…Number 14 which consisted of a veggie patty, brie, and sweet onion marmalade (as an aside the sweet onion sauce at subway’s has the awe-inspiring ability to make even a plain turkey sandwich incredibly tasty). Karen found it really yummy and gobbled that baby down.

All in all, it was a good burger place that I would probably revisit if I felt a craving for burgers. But if you’re a big beefy burger person, I wouldn’t recommend coming here, since it’s all about the toppings. It also gets pricey whenever you add another extra goody. My burger was around $9 and I built it myself. Karen’s #14 was also about the same price, so I don’t see how ordering one of their previously compiled burgers would be any cheaper.

brgr
287 Seventh Avenue nr. 26th Street (right next to Chipotle)