Recipes »Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

from The Pioneer Woman

When you’ve been under the weather for seemingly forever as I have, you crave comforting food that’s simple and easy to make. This Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce recipe from The Pioneer Woman fit the bill in every way without being the least bit boring (all that cream and parmesan helps).

It’s great as is, but also a good based for experimenting. We made ours to the letter except substituting bucatini (my favorite pasta) for the fettuccine.


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Posted on April 30, 2012

Restaurants »Betto

138 N 8th St, Brooklyn

Betto didn’t arrive to the crowded Williamsburg restaurant scene with a lot of hoopla but it’s made a huge impression on myself and friends.

The food is pretty much spectacular and not outrageously priced.

For starters, the flatbread with roasted garlic was really something else. Magic happens when garlic is roasted (reminding me it’s something i should do at home more often) and mixed with warm, fluffy flatbread and a touch of lemon? Well, it was hard to share this one.

The crostinis are also a must order. I opted for a thick gooey chicken liver but the options are vast.

Salad wise, brussel sprouts were great, sun chokes were good but a bit dull in comparison with other dishes.

Main dishes are incouraged to be shared but we found they worked better as individual l dishes (trading bites of course!).

I loved my spicy chicken that was bursting with flavor but my friends spaghetti dishes were deliciously comforting and the calamari was tender and well spiced.

We finished with a nice cheese plate and a decadent chocolate dessert that could only be described as thick chocolate paste. Delicious but one to share with many.

The only complaint was that it was unreasonably chilly but otherwise the atmosphere is inviting and the food perfect. Can’t wait to return.

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Posted on January 13, 2012

Restaurants »Obika Mozzarella Bar

590 Madison Ave

An entire restaurant devoted to fresh mozzarella cheese?

Yes thank you!

Obika is an Italian transplant rather strangely located in the lobby of the midtown IBM building.

Sandwiches are available to go but we relaxed a bit and ate from their sit down menu.

It took all of three seconds to decide on my order: anchovies, sun dried tomatoes and burata mozzarella though Mike’s meaty salad and Shaun’s smoked mozzarella with pesto and tomatoes were equally good (especially that smoked mozzarella).

A great, unique and comparatively affordable lunch spot in an otherwise kind of tough neighborhood for food.

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Posted on January 9, 2012

Recipes »Spaghetti With Garlic, Lamb Sausage, and Arugula

A Brix Picks Original

I am usually slave to a recipe, so I was very proud of myself for producing such a great meal tonight without one. I owe a lot, of course to the awesome ingredients I picked up from Eataly (a madhouse on the weekend, phew!).

I opted for a thin lamb sausage that proved to be delicious and a jar of Sugo al Pomodoro e Verdure Dell’Otro (tomato and vegetable sauce).

I had my favorite dry pasta waiting at home – Rao’s and went to work.

I started with tons of garlic slices (at least 5 cloves), olive oil and the sausage and let it cook while the water boiled.

Once the sausage was browned and the pasta was cooking (9 and a half minutes makes perfect al dente) I added the jar of tomato sauce, parmesan rind, garlic salt and cracked pepper.

Lastly, with just a few minutes left on the pasta, I threw in three handfuls of arugula which wilted quickly as well as a splash of lemon juice.

Just add the pasta to the mixture once it’s done and top with a heap of parmesan – mmmm!

I deserved (and got) a Sixpoint Sweet Action for such a yummy meal.

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Posted on July 31, 2011

Restaurants »Osteria Il Paiolo

106 North 6th Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

During Jim’s first summer Friday, the usual disorganized long line met us at Egg, so we ventured nearby to the relatively new Italian spot, Osteria Il Paiolo. It drew us in with an airy space, a baby friendly environment, and one incredible lunch deal.

For 12.50 you get a salad, a soda, and a plate of pasta. Large portions and fresh ingredients elevated this from a mere “good deal” though to something worth telling friends about.

I opted for a peppery arugula salad topped with thick shavings of sharp Parmesan and a flavorful penne dish with sun-dried tomatoes and peas. The pasta was perfectly cooked and the cream sauce clung to it with enough substance to coat every bite but still remain light. (While this may not seem like a big deal, if you’ve ever tried to whip up a cream based sauce at home, you know it’s not so easy.)

The menu feels refreshingly out of step with the neighborhood. You’ll find no home cured pork cheeks from near by farms here. It’s simple food done really, really well.

With it’s open space, white table cloths, exposed brick, European vibe, and uncomplicated menu, it almost feels like a long standing neighborhood favorite from Manhattan that hopped over to the other side.

Fully sated, we left without dessert, but almost immediately regretted not trying one when we eyed the creamy white panna cotta at another table. Must try it during our next visit.

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Posted on June 1, 2011

Recipes »Roasted Branzino with Caper Butter

from Food & Wine

I always assumed roasting a whole fish would be some sort of ordeal outside my limited skills as a cook, but this Roasted Branzino with Caper Butter was super easy and beyond yummy.

With so few ingredients I was worried it might end up bland, but I can’t recommend this preparation enough!

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Posted on May 25, 2011

Recipes »Spaghetti with Ground Lamb and Spinach

from Food & Wine

This Lamb and Spinach Spaghetti recipe won rave reviews and even though I made a ton, not a strand of pasta was left. Lamb lends an earthy taste and makes for a much less greasy meal than if this called for ground beef. Sunny days are not quite here yet, so take advantage of heavy comfort food weather and make this delicious dish.

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Posted on April 13, 2011

Recipes »Spaghetti With Crab Sauce

From Mario Batali

This Spaghetti with Crab Sauce may not be too much to look at and the limited recipe list may indicate a lack of flavor, but it will surprise you.

Hearty and delicious, this simple meal focuses on the crab, which I have never tried in a tomato based sauce before.

Mario Batali calls for fresh Dungeness Crab, but, come on – it is still yummy with the canned stuff.

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Posted on January 8, 2011

Recipes »Bucatini al Limone

from Mario Batali

This Bucatini a Limone recipe is simplicity in a dish. From Mario Batali, it originally called for Tagliarini, a thin flat noodle, but I tried it with my new favorite pasta, Bucatini. This is a prefect recipe that most people can make with available ingredients in a pinch (at least, I find I always have dried pasta, butter, parm and lemons).

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Posted on November 20, 2010

Restaurants »Best Pizza

33 Havemeyer, Brooklyn

With a name like Best Pizza, you’ve got a lot to live up to..but more importantly, you are impossible to find online. Do you have any idea how many Best Pizza in Brooklyn blog entries, magazine articles, etc there are? So, most importantly, I am giving you readers the website for the new Williamsburg pizza joint here.

Anyone locally, particularly Greenpoint people will want to have the number handy. Not that there aren’t pizza places that rival it – the gourmet options of Paulie Gee’s and Forninos for example – but Best, which falls someplace in between gourmet and classic thin New York slices, delivers! Yes, even to Greenpoint! And while the pie we got was a touch cold, I am thankful. The crust and cheese on our plain pie was delicious with my only complaint being that there was a bit too much of an oregano taste for me. Next time I’ll add some anchovies.

Recently opened in the old Brooklyn Star space (which I never got a chance to try) and opened by Brooklyn Star and Roberta’s owners, the new place is sure to be a hit with anyone with an urge for a thin crust wood fired alternative to the yummy but greasy Anna Maria’s. Is it truly the “best pizza”? Well,  I am not sure I’d go that far – but I am willing to give it some time.

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Posted on November 14, 2010

Restaurants »Graham Avenue Meats and Deli

445 Graham Ave. Williamsburg, Brooklyn

One of the biggest surprises while pregnant was that I couldn’t have deli meats. It seems like a small sacrifice until you yearn for a simple sandwich. So, when my mom and Jim offered to run out for lunch, I knew exactly what I wanted – not some pansy Subway deal but the pinnacle of extreme deli meat gluttony. It can only be found at Graham Avenue Meats and Delis and it’s called Willies Italian Special.

A massive, multi meat, condiment and vegetable creation the sandwich was made with flair and drama and takes about twenty minutes to complete. Among the many ingredients are sun-dried tomatoes, mortadella, salami, prosciutto, pepperoni, marinated peppers, and provolone. Like a scene out of The Sopranos, the shop, which also boasts excellent meats (particularly sausages) and pastas, was teaming with Joeys and Christophers and testosterone.

While the sandwich itself looked daunting to say the least, as you can see from the photo, it was so delicious that I managed to eat half in one sitting – a feat which initially seemed impossible. It held up well for day two.

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Posted on November 3, 2010

Restaurants »John’s Pizzeria of Bleecker Street

278 Bleecker St

Don’t get me wrong, I am a fervent lover of the high end pizza craze that’s given us the likes of Fornino, L’asso and Paulie Gee’s but lately – let’s just blame pregnancy hormones like I do for everything else – I’ve been craving the classic, greasy, thin crust type that one can count on finding in nearly any NYC neighborhood.

John’s Pizzeria of Bleecker Street fit the bill perfectly. One of many that claim to be famous and considered the ultimate in classic New York Style pizza, it’s probably the only one that has Louie Anderson on its wall (when I saw that in our booth, I knew things were going to be great) and has its praises sung by pizza connoisseur, Vanilla Ice (“Keep makin the ‘dope’ pizza”).

The ambiance is wood paneled family style perfection and the serve one really, really satisfying pie – just greasy enough, with the perfect balance of sauce to cheese and a slightly charred but never crunchy crust. There are no slices here, just full pies, so bring your appetite like we did when we split a medium – half sausage for Jim, half anchovy for me. Such an excellent way to indulge on a budget when you are ravenous. Plus, you don’t have to compromise on toppings.

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Posted on September 5, 2010

Spend a Couple Hours »Eataly

200 5th Avenue

After months of speculation and anticipation, the Italian food market mecca Eataly from Mario Batali, Lidia and Joe Bastianich is finally open and it is awesome! Clean, bright, dazzling and massive, there is so much to see that it will require several visits to feel like I’ve done it all. There are after all, several restaurants, a beer garden, a coffee shop, a cooking school, and all the super market sections you could want. I was extremely tempted by the stunning variety at the fishmonger and am determined to get razor clams next time (when I will be headed straight home after shopping and not worried about fresh seafood + the heat).

I really could have gone any direction for an amazing meal, whether grabbing some sausage (as Mike did for an extremely yummy gnocchi sauce) or enjoying the brick oven pizza I jealously saw so many taking gooey bites of at the pizzeria. There are colorful pastries as well as a crowded counter with gelato for dessert. In the mood for something easy for lunch, I opted for a “Stella” squash ravioli, some fresh sun-dried tomatoes, and a wedge of Parmesan from a huge wheel that one strong armed man spent the day slowly chopping up for our consumption.

Mario was there, and I took a tentative quick shot after the jump (not really into paparazzi shooting) and it begs some explanation since it looks like he’s reaming out an employee. He was actually strutting around like a proud papa and seemed ecstatic about the place, as well he should have been. I am sure Eataly is bound to become both a destination as well as one of the perks of living in New York and a part of the fabric of the city.

Click here for the rest of Eataly

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Posted on September 5, 2010

Restaurants »Lorimer Meat Market

620 Lorimer St

If Italian manly testosterone could be harnessed into energy, Lorimer Meat Market could not only be the greenest restaurant in Williamsburg, but probably light the entire neighborhood. Both staff and patrons bellow with wise cracks and ayes! and it is very little surprise that they really, really know how to make a big beautiful meatball sandwich. It’s curious how some small spots make the radar of “must eats”, and if it were any way up to me I’d add this one to this list.

The photo almost does it justice. The meatballs are soft, clearly made with quality meat and huge surrounded by just enough sauce to partially soak the bread, but not overwhelm. The cheese is gooey and there’s enough that it’s presence is noticeable and key to the deliciousness.

The corner shop which has been in the neighborhood for many years (though this was my first visit) and has a huge menu of sandwiches if meatballs aren’t your thing as well as meats, salads, pastas, and more.

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Posted on August 8, 2010

Recipes »Bucatini All’Amatriciana with Spicy Smoked Mozzarella Meatballs

from Giada

I quite enjoy having Giada on in the background but this is the first time I’ve made one of her dishes, and this Bucatini All’Amatriciana with Spicy Smoked Mozzarella Meatballs was spectacular! Bucatini is a hollow spaghetti, which I was happy to find was finally available at Fresh Direct, though it can also be purchased at any Italian market. While it may look like there are a lot of steps in this recipe, once they’re prepped, each element has a fifteen minute cooking or simmering time so it’s easy to get everything done at the same time in order to mix it into a sloppy, delicious plate. I didn’t have parchment paper for the meatballs – which have a cube of smoked mozzarella inside them!! – so they crumbled a bit, but with no sacrifice to the flavor. If this is any indication, I’ll be making more from Giada soon!

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Posted on August 1, 2010

Restaurants »Woodstock VT: Simon Pearce and Osteria Pane Salute

1760 Main St Quechee, VT and 61 Central St. Woodstock, VT

Who knew Woodstock, Vermont was home to such esteemed, delicious food? You’d never guess it if you just stumbled into the most prominent main street eatery, Bentley’s (a pub food spot that doesn’t deserve scorn, but is not worth writing home about either) but nearby are two varieties of high end cooking: the romantic, waterfall view Simon Pearce (technically a few miles east in Quechee), and the dimly lit hidden Italian gem, Osteria Pane e Salute.

Simon Pearce is the epitome of established upscale dining. Waitstaff  in pressed white collared shirts, a heavenly view  – in this case a rushing waterfall located right under your seats, a seasonal menu of dishes that come to the table with considerable haute cuisine panache, and a crowd of oldsters lining up from the minute the dinner hour begins (advanced reservations recommended). While for normal day to day eating a place like this might be stuffy for Jim and I, Simon Pearce seems more custom fit for special occasions. Plus it’s in Vermont, where even stuffiness is a bit more laid back.

Natural stunning ambiance and crisp whites are grand, but I’d hardly be spending my time telling you much about them if the food weren’t great. We shared a tempura shrimp appetizer as well as a crab cake that was easily the single most tasty dish we had all vacation. Both followed by substantial main dishes, mine a flavorful roasted chicken over handmade pasta, Jim’s a hearty cod with gourmet mashed potatoes. We ended the meal on an equally decadent and high note with a walnut meringue dessert.

While Pearce is a fancy pants feast in the established traditional sense of the past few decades, Osteria Pane e Salute is the back to roots, modern version of the same idea. Instead of stuffy, you find warm and cozy, a locavore menu that tells you exactly where the ingredients come from, a mix tape that includes Serge Gainsbourg, dim lights and limited seating (definitely, definitely need reservations for this one). All in all, a place that both in style and food quality would feel right at home in Brooklyn, receiving rave reviews from Adam Platt. That it’s nestled in the upstairs of an old white building off Main Street only makes it more charming and special.

Dining here has options for many budgets, which is nice. A long list of excellent sounding thin crust pizzas fill the back of the menu while a $42 dollar four course meal pre fixe is listed on the front (the items from which can also be ordered a la carte). Since we were in vacation mode, we of course opted for the pre fixe and were thrilled with the results: buttery proscuitto and fresh handmade mozzarella, a decadent liver pate crostini, seafood pasta with a lovely rich sauce, calamari grilled to tender perfection, and last but not least, a homemade vanilla gelato dusted with licorice sea salt. The meal, to our surprise took over two hours, and we enjoyed every second.

If you’re in the area, or even a drive away, consider these spots for a nice meal out, depending on your mood. Neither will disappoint. Lots of photos after the jump- oh and the last is of a marshmallow sundae I had at the quaint and ultra friendly Mountain Creamery – great for a less fancy sugar fix.

Click here for the rest of Woodstock VT: Simon Pearce and Osteria Pane Salute

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Posted on July 11, 2010

Laughs »Giallothon

Have Yourself a Trailer Party!

Beautiful women, hunky men, high style vintage fashions, J&B, bright red blood, Morricone soundtracks, greatly terrible dubbing, skeletons, black gloves, Edwige Fenech, Ivan Rassimov, and nudity – the Italian Giallo genre offers so, so much, but is sometimes most effective in small visual doses.

Often, though certainly not always, the movies themselves can be tedious, confusing, and too easy to forget. Giallothon, presented in two volumes, compiles these spin tingling, often psychedelic trailers about psycho-sexual killers and is a blast to watch. We have good friend and fellow connoisseur of the cinematic unusual, Matthew to thank for our copy – but you can buy yours at brutallo. Any fan of the genre would be remiss not to.

Click here for the rest of Giallothon

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Posted on July 11, 2010