The passing of Marcella Hazan

cover shot

Tool2

I read an article in the nytimes about the passing of Marcella Hazan.  The article says she was the one who started the whole Italian cooking movement in the US.  It’s funny that I’ve never come across her name or any of her recipes (though they say most Italian recipes we see today had her influence.  Since we were out of sauce, I decided to make her recipe.  It follows pretty much the same recipe that I normally use, with the exception of:

– No Chicken stock

– No Prosciutto

Additional:

-2 types of meat (veal, beef)

-Nutmeg

After cooking the sauce, I still prefer the original recipe.  I’m not sure if it’s because of the chicken stock, but since I have 8 cups of the sauce left, we’ll be eating it for the next few weeks, so maybe my tastes will change.

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2012 NYC Chocolate Show

It’s been another year and once again the NYC Chocolate show comes to town. This year after a horrendous Hurricane named Sandy. Quite honestly, we were surprised that the show still went on. As we walked around we were able to see the effects of Hurricane Sandy with many vendors MIA attributing their absence largely due to the disruption of inventory and shipping. Although a few vendors were missing we were delighted to see that the vast majority were back in action with plenty of new products to show for 2012!

The NYC Chocolate show promises to make your mouth water. It’s not just about chocolate it’s about sensory overload from all things tasty. Once you walk in, you are smacked with the aromas of Cacao and spices. From one stand to the next you are shown just how versatile Cacao can be.

As you move from Sweet to savory and even alcoholic your senses are in for a real treat in the next few hours.

This year we are happy to report that some of our favorites from last year are back such as Salt of the Earth, The Chocolate Shop Wine, Roni-Sues Chocolates, NO Chewing Allowed!, and ChocoVision we are happy to see some new comers such as John & Kiras’s Chocolates and LAC Chocolatier.

The lines were visibly shorter this year but we showed up on the last day of the show and on one of the most gorgeous warm Sundays in weeks in NYC. The crowds inside however were a different story. Although the Metropolitan Pavillion is a large venue we were still hard pressed to move quickly from booth to booth. Perhaps that’s the intention, stroll and take in the smells of Cacao from Ecuador, Switzerland, France and Austria. It’s Sunday, the ideal day to slow down and take in a little Chocolate.

This year we found the normal breakdown of area such as the demonstration area where they had a landscape of chocolate sculptures. The absolute most stunning of which was the Lucille Ball Bust from I Love Lucy. From there you have the Theatres where there were live cooking demonstrations from your favorite Celebrity Pastry Chefs such as Zac Young from Top Chef Just Desserts Season 1. For the children you have the kid zone with a number of chocolate related activities for the little ones. A bookstore sponsored by Barnes and Nobles which offered signings from our favorite Celebrity Pastry Chef’s turned cookbook Authors. Finally you have your booths offering all things Chocolate and a number of Cafés for the non chocolate treat.

This year’s favorites for us were Salt of the Earth Bakery which came out with there Spiced Oatmeal cookies that were amazing. SO AMAZING I had about 4 samples worth! They were gooey, sweet and had a wonderful texture that was just crack-head addictive. For the non edible favorites we enjoy seeing Chocovision which offered up a number of machines to meet the needs of the chocolate start up . This year they demonstrated via slideshow their Vibe which is a vibrating plate that gets the bubbles out of  truffles and a coating machine and uses a conveyor melts and coats anything you want in chocolate. We also saw new comer Truffly Made who had literally, a closet’s worth of hangers clipping Silicone Truffle Molds in vibrant colors and Novel shapes. Our Chocolate spirits favorites are still The Chocolate shop wines with their chocolate infused Wines as well new comer Quady Winery that offered the absolute tastiest Moscats, Ports, and other Fortified Dessert Wines. Our favorite chocolate vendor goes to Roni-Sue’s Chocolates located in in the Essex Street Retail Market. They have been a Lower East Side tradition for over 5 years now.

The most missed this year were Liddabit Sweets which recently published their first cookbook which we proudly helped to test with them and the Mars Chocolate company that had a wonderful demonstration in last year’s show of the Chocolate Making process and offered out traditional colonial hot cocoa.

If you’ve never gone to the NYC Chocolate please treat yourself. You will not regret it. It will open your eyes to the many uses of chocolate outside of campfire s’mores. Sponsored by you local dentist =).

Link to Photos

Link to Chocolate Show

Posted in -Events, Coverage, Desserts, Events, food events, foodie nyc, tools cooking | Tagged | Leave a comment

Happy Fathers Day!

Definition: Aeration (also called aerification) is the process by which air is circulated through, use of a decanter to increase exposure to air, or a specialized wine aerator.

What’s a cool gift to receive for Fathers day?  Socks?  a new tie?  (full disclosure, I didn’t get this for fathers day, I got this)

Vinturi is the brand of this one and it makes this one and makes an interesting sucking noise as wine pours through it.  Does it make a $10 wine taste like a $20 wine?  Does it make a $50 wine taste like a $100 bottle of wine?  Not really, especially after the third glass.   If you have company over, it’s a great conversation piece, which usually leads to a discourse on wine.   Is this something that you need to have?  Depends.  It definitely takes out the harshness of wine and smooths it out, though waiting 10 minutes will do the same thing.   For some wines, it almost makes them slightly bubbly, if the wine is already particulary smooth.  If you already own a Rabbit Corkscrew, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t own the vinturi aerator.  Especially if you’re a gadget guy.  Comes with it’s own stand as well.

(bonus points if you can identify the wine)

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Happy Mothers Day

..or I guess the post should say, Happy Memorial Day?  As mentioned in an earlier post, when you really have a busy schedul, you don’t have a lot of time to cook or post.

Getting back to mothers day, my wife had a friend over along with her son, so it was a play date for the kids.  Fabric dying for the ladies.  I ended up cooking some cornish hens from the Jean George cookbook that I had.  Throw in some Jersey Corn (it’s that time of year) and you’re good to go.  I took pictures while I was cooking, but found it easier to cross post about the day (actually, the post is about dying fabric, but you can see the dish at the end here.

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Eggplant Parm

final dish

Here’s the classic eggplant parmesan, though only if you like eggplant.  Fun fact: China is the largest producer of eggplant in the world.  Apparently not just for electronics!  Another fact, I had another post already written and I can’t find the pictures to go with it.  How annoying is that.  So here you go, eggplant parm.

ingredients

Software:

  • 1 Eggplant
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Tomato sauce
  • Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
  • French Bread
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Spices

Hardware:

  • Mandolin
  • Frying Pan
  • Bowls to dredge
  • Tongs of course!

tomato_sauceStart by putting the tomato sauce in a pan and let it simmer.  When coming out of the can, you want to let it reduce a bit.  Add some salt & pepper and whatever spices you want to jazz it up.  I usually put in some basil.

slicedWash the eggplant and start slicing it with the mandolin.  You could use a knife, but I hardly ever use the mandolin, so why not.  Anyway, this gives uniform slices.  Once they’re slice, soak them in the egg & milk mixture.

 

soaking

Start by dipping them into the bread crumbs and red pepper flakes (adjust for taste).  You can get sort of an assembly line factory going.  Or if you’re really clever, you can use a plastic bag instead of a bowl and do the ‘shake n bake’ method.dip 

 

 

 

 

frying eggplant

Fill a frying pan with about 1 cm of oil.  Head it up until a drop of water ‘pops’ when it hits.  Fry each slice for about 1 minute each side (longer if you cut your eggplant thick).  After each one is done, remove and lay them on a plate covered in paper towels.  This should absorb any excess grease.

 

Lay out the french bread and cut down to appropriate size.  Lay the eggplant inside, along with the tomato sauce on the stove (you didn’t forget about it did you?) and add slices of the mozzarella cheese.  From here you can be done and just serve it up, but I like mine hot, so I’ll put it under the broiler (set on high) for about a minute to make sure the cheese melts.

Enjoy!

melting cheese

Posted in -Mandoline, -Tongs, Italian | 1 Comment

Bear Claws Review. I’ll try not to make a Wolverine Reference

Bear Claws! This is a tool that’s we’re super excited to be testing out. In all honesty I think we received it about a year ago but it was the end of the Fall so we wanted to hold out until the beginning of grilling/bbqing season before publishing our review. These are one of those underground tools that have been slowly making their way into the limelight and we have been eyeing this bad boy for quite some time.

Bear Claws function as a multi use tool. First and foremost, it’s a gripping tool it will help you transfer a large hot roast from the oven to the carving board. Second, it’s a Fork like tool used to hold down a roast as you slice it. Thirdly, it’s a pulling pork machine for those of you who get finger cramps using the old fork for shredding. This will allow you to go medieval on your pulled pork. Finally, its whatever you can use it for. We’ve heard stories of people picking cherries and cranberries with them, scratching their backs, decorating cakes etc. So if you need a little additional justification to go out and purchase a novelty tool like this, use any of the above purposes to sell your idea.

At first glance the product packaging could use some updating. It looks like it’s stuck in 1981 infomercial. For such a cool tool I really thing it could use some updating. Looks aside the claws look exactly as they should, BADASS. The composite molded plastic is light weight and fits snugly in each palm. It looks and feels more weapon like than kitchen tool but I ain’t complaining.

The grips are not as grippy as one would prefer, especially when tearing apart pulled pork or turkey it can a little slippery. With that said, it didn’t slip around too much but if I were to create a premium version it would have a more rubbery grip. On the underside of the handle there is a grid like body instead of a  complete fill. Not ideal for meat shredding since bits can get in there and can be difficult to clean. If you’re using it for other purposes then maybe it wouldn’t be so much of an issue but I wasn’t a big fan of that.

The claws themselves are razor sharp. A bit too sharp in my opinion because it’s only plastic and after its first use (as expected) the tips bent and deformed. This didn’t affect the shredding capability of the claws but it looked a little raggedy.

Shred factor was amazing. I was able to destroy a 15 pound Boston Butt in about 7 minutes flat. Transporting it was easy as pie with these things too so it lived up to it’s transporting promise. I used it for carving up a roast as well and indeed it worked like a charm.

Cleaning was pretty simple, I just tossed it into the dishwasher and it did all of the work. Some of the bits didn’t quite make it out of the grid side but I was able to fish them out easy enough.

Construction of the tool was pretty modest and expected for the money. It’s pretty much a light plastic composite. It’s 100% made in the USA which I’m pretty happy about. It’s a great tool for gifting without “shredding” the Piggy bank open.

All in all for the money it is a fantastic buy and a must have for pulled pork or turkey. I will never go back to shredding by hand anymore when you can use and decimate your pulled pork in minutes. I wouldn’t change a thing for the money however I would perhaps suggest a more premium version to be available with rubber silicone grips on stainless chrome steel. I know it’s probably extreme but it would be the coolest tool out there bar none. I’m giving this tool 5 stars out of 5 as a must have. It’s inexpensive (Approx. 20$) straight forward and fully functional. It also has a few extra points for the look but has allot more potential. Go out and get yourself some for stocking stuffers I guarantee you will be seeing a whole lot more of this tool in the near future so be the first on your block to rock one. You can find the on Amazon or specialty cookware dealers.

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Just in time for Easter Baskets! GriLLr!

Happy Easter / Passover everyone! The weather if finally consistently in the 60-70s and I’m willing to bet most of you have already broken out your Grill. Well, that is if you ever even put it away for the Winter.

We have an exciting review today that I’ve been holding off for nearly a year. We received this Gadget called the GriLLr last year but by the time I got around to finding a situation to use it the season was up and I admittedly got a little lazy so it never happened. The pics from the last year but the post is new and I hope it inspires you to get out an get your grill on.

The GriLLr is a spin off of the popular SkrapR which is a multi use tool predominately used for scraping out hard to clean surface crud like burnt sugar on pans or paint off tile etc. The GriLLr is specially designed for the brutal chore of grill cleaning with notch on the end used for getting around each grill grate to scrape out the days deliciousness.

The GriLLr claims to have a cutlery grade steel, ergonomic handle, cleans grates round or flat and is dishwasher safe. We’ll we’ll just have to see…

Upon first inspection the GriLLr looks like a cheap hunk of plastic not unlike some infomercial crap you’d find in any Gas Pit in the middle of no where. After really looking at it you can tell that the composite is actually very well put together. The seams are smooth and it has a great hand feel. The plastic itself is even made of something more substantial than plastic. It feels solid without adding allot of weight.

The blade looks great. I’m not sure if its cutlery grade but it seems to be pretty high quality although I wouldn’t risk dishwashing it. All in all the aesthetics are great. The seams are very smooth, the weight is light but feels study to the touch and the blade is sharp and ready to work.

I was able to have the perfect situation for this bad boy. After a long 16 hour smoke session for pulled pork I unleashed this on my grill Grates. The grates had a ton of fat and spices stuck to them and were not pryable by hand.

I start by gliding the flat end of the blade over each side of the grates. This eliminated any large hunks of flesh still adhering to the grate. This was done with ease due to the size of the handle on the GriLLr allowing me to easily push through and stubborn residue.

Next up was the detailing. I still had to get in between each grate to get the grease and seasoning out. I used the notched end and glided 2-3 times down each grate. Anything less than shiny I took the pointed end to and it dispatched all of the grease to reveal a shiny chrome grate. It was pretty amazing actually this since tool allowed me to clean my grate in a matter of minutes!

Now traditionally I would take my grates and run it a few times in the dishwasher then scrub it by hand with an steel brush. The whole process would take hours. This handy tool allowed me to do it in minutes with minimal effort.

I have to give this tool 5 tools out of 5 for being built well, solidly built, and effective at what is promises to do. Don’t be swayed by the looks of it. It’s deceivingly simple but it gets the job done. I recommend this to be your Grill Time Buddy it will never let you down.

The one thing I would add is that I wouldn’t put it in the dishwasher. The cleaning agents are too harsh and although I’m sure this thing can take a beating in there eventually the chemicals will corrode the blade and shorten its lifespan. Remember to use your common sense not manufacturers suggestions. Also I would keep this clear from children. The Sharp end is dagger sharp and will break skin with ease.

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