Tag Archives: Pasta

{ Asian Sesame Noodles }

Asian Sesame Noodles

I love cold pasta salads.

…..which is probably why Whole Foods rapes my wallet every time that I set food in their prepared food’s aisle–I am an absolute sucker for their Asian Sesame Noodles. For those of you not living on a budget, let me just tell you that veggie-laced pasta is not forgiving on the scale at check-out. If your watching your spending, go for the spinach leaves, bean sprouts, mushrooms, seeds, and sun-dried tomatoes because they are light weight ingredients but don’t even think about cucumbers, tomatoes, or fresh fruit unless you want Whole Foods to take your Whole Paycheck!

It never ceases to amaze me how one tiny brown box of protein-less pasta can equate to a meal upwards of $10, but of course I ponder this while handing over my credit card to pay the cashier for my overpriced, yet highly anticipated, meal. Tonight I just couldn’t justify it though. Between my sparkling probiotic beverage and my sesame noodles, I was going to be out at least $15, so I passed on the salad bar and set out to make my own Asian noodle dish using whatever I already had in the pantry at home. Fortunately, that included an box of buckwheat Soba noodles that I had bought for a previous recipe and never used!

This recipe is nothing like the Whole Foods Asian noodles, but it incorporates a lot more veggies and makes for a more satisfying meal, especially if topped with grilled chicken, pork tenderloin, or tofu. It is very easy to make, and holds in the fridge for about 3 days without drying out.

The Whole Foods noodles will continue to tempt me, but this recipe is a fantastic alternative and entirely more budget friendly.

{ Ingredients }

  • 1 package of soba noodles
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hot chili oil
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1-2 teaspoons Sriracha
  • 4-5 tablespoons EVOO (depending on how much dressing you like)
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup shredded napa cabbage
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons black toasted sesame seeds
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted peanuts, crushed for garnish

{ To Make the Noodles }

Cook soba noodles according to package directions. When finished, place the noodles in an ice water bath to cool, and then drain and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, chili oil, and EVOO. Mix well with a whisk.

Combine the noodles, prepared vegetables, and cilantro and toss with sauce until evenly coated.

Top with toasted sesame seeds and chopped peanuts, and serve with a wedge of lime.

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Filed under Asian Cuisine, Recipes

B & B Ristorante ***

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702.266.9977
3355 South Las Vegas Blvd (@ the Venetian)
Las Vegas, Nevada

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I’ve got nearly 24 years of life experience under my belt now, and I am finally learning how to speak up and get what I want from people. So when the hotel told me they didn’t have the non-smoking room that I requested available when I got in tonight, I managed to weasel an upgraded suite with $200 worth of comps to spend anywhere in the casino. And for a foodie like me, that meant an extravagant steak dinner.

So I did a little research on the restaurants located in the Venetian and got excited so see Mario Batalli and Joe Bastianich’s B&B Ristorante on the list. I’m not one to shy aware from dining alone, so I dropped my bags in my baller room and headed on down for a proper meal.

B&B Ristorante

I started off with a full-bodied red wine, which was almost life changing (as it should be at nearly $17 a glass!). The server said it came highly recommended and I savored it slowly throughout my entire appetizer, which was Batali’s famous Grilled Octopus with “Fagiolo Marinati” served in a Spicy Limoncello Vinaigrette ($21). It was really incredible. The octopus was tender and parts of it had a nice grilled char to it. The bacon fat added a great deal of rich flavor but the lemon vinaigrette helped to brighten the dish and keep is fresh and clean. I would add this to the list of 10 best things that I have ever put in my mouth.

Grilled Octopus

The delicious appetizer got me very excited for my main entrée, which was a Steak Tagliata with Salsa Verde (aka Chimichurri sauce) and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes ($42). Unfortunately, I thought the main dish was a-w-f-u-l. It was almost inedible, and I am still unsure as to why I didn’t send it back and just ask for another serving of grilled octopus. The steak was soaked in oil, which did not lend itself well to the oily chimichurri accompaniment. The potatoes were also very rich in oil and practically burnt to a crisp, I don’t think I ate a single one.

Steak Tagliata

The entrée was a bust but the appetizer and wine was unforgettable, making B&B Ristorante very difficult to rate. I’ll give it three stars overall, but probably won’t be back anytime soon.

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Filed under Italian Restaurants, Las Vegas Restaurants, Steak House

Eataly in New York *****

200 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10010
(212) 229.2560

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Have you ever had the privilege of witnessing a child enter Disney World for the first time? You watch their face light up with joy, their little legs propelling them forward as quickly as possible, their eyes wide with excitement. Well add some intense hand gurning, and thats what I look like each time I enter Eataly Italian market. It is a Mecca for foodies–a specialty food market on steroids, with restaurants and cafes scattered throughout.

You can stand around high tables in the salumeria, enjoying a glass of wine expertly paired to compliment an assortment of specialty cheeses, or you can enjoy nibbling on  a freshly baked focaccia as you wait for your table at La Pizza & Pasta. And Lord knows you’ll have plenty of time to wash down several espressos at Cafe Vergnano, if you’re trying to get a table at the new rooftop birreria–the line to go up is longer than airport security at JFK. No, I’m not joking.

Sure, the market is expensive (and indeed touristy, as several other bloggers have observed), but it is undoubtedly worth the visit. Take it for what it is: an expensive dining experience in an avant-garde food theater. And on that note, I shall walk you through my Eataly experience this past weekend, beginning in the Salumeria with a nice glass of red wine (Italian, of course!).

After adapting to the circus like environment of Eataly, my friends and I gathered around a hightop table in the salumeria and ordered a platter sampling the selection of cured meats and cheeses. The cheese assortment included: a creamy ricotta, a strong parmigiano regiano, a pungent taleggio, a sweet gorgonzola, and a cacio de Roma. My personal favorites were the taleggio and the ricotta, which paired beautifully with the fresh fig and orange segments accompanying the plate. The meats we tried included: delicious mortadella cubes, 14-month aged prosciutto de Parma, and sweet & spicy coppa and sopressata. The prosciutto de parma was hands down the highlight of the plate–delicate and salty.

Next we headed over to La Pizza, where Neapolitan natives are firing up the kind of pizza that God would make if he were having dinner guests. And the gold-tiled ovens certainly add to the ethereal effect:

Photo taken by Adam Kuban from Serious Eats

I decided to go all out and order the most expensive pizza on the menu, which would be the Fru Fru Pizza coming in at a total cost of $22 (a price that you can somehow justify after the first bite!). For indecisive people, like myself, who can’t chose just one pizza on the menu, the Fru Fru offers a small sampling of three different topping combinations: (1) dollops of sweet ricotta cheese with cooked ham (no sauce); (2) aged mozzarella cheese with tomato sauce; and (3) delicious Parma ham with arugula and parmigiano reggiano shavings. It looks like this:

My favorite of the three, you ask? Probably the ricotta and ham because of the contrasting salty and sweet flavors (but the pizza crust is really the star of this dish!).

Two of my friends ordered the Quattro Formaggi with a mixture of gorgonzola, pecorino romano, mozzarella, and parmigiano reggiano cheeses. This is supposed to be served as a white pizza, but one of my friends also ordered it with tomato sauce and it was none-the-less delicious. You can feast your eyes on the white one:

And then of course someone at the table had to be a plain Jane and order the classic Margarita Pizza with tomato sauce, slices of fresh mozzarella, basil, and a drizzling of extra virgin olive oil. I know there is something to be appreciated about the flavor of a few quality ingredients, but I like to live a little with my pizza toppings!! Like everything else at Le Pizza and Pasta though, it was amazing!

Most people would be throwing in the napkin by now, but not me! Sufficiently pregammed with my pizza appetizer, I decided to order a plate of Tagliatelli al Ragu di Manzo, which is a hearty (and rich) braised short rib ragu over homemade pasta. The pasta is cooked to perfection–just tough enough to stick to your tooth a little (the definition of Al dente). And the braised meat is so tender that it falls apart at the mere prodding of your fork. The dish is quite heavy given the nature of the sauce and the weight of the pasta, but it is every bit savory and delicious. I would highly recommend this pasta (as long as  you have already tried the pizza!).

So until next time, Eataly, Arrivederci!!!

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Filed under Cafe / Bistro, Cocktails, Coffee Shop, Italian Restaurants, Markets, New York Restaurants

Trattoria Toscana *****

 
553 State Route #1
Whippany, NJ 07981
973.386.0303

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Everyone knows that New York is host to wealth of fantastic Italian restaurants–Marea, Babbo, Del Posto, Scalini Fedeli, Patsy’s, Carmine’s (just to name a few)–but outside of the city, off of route 1, lies a “hidden gem” by the name of Tratattoria Toscana. I use quotes because although it has a very inconspicuous location, it is well known among foodies, locals, and Italian’s looking for a proper pasta with gravy. This place is always jam packed and the delicious food being served is worthy of such loyal patronage.

Rodolfo Monti and his son, Giacomo (with names as authentic as their food), are the owner and chef of Trattoria Toscana, and although their menu offers a variety of well-loved Italian classics, their culinary speciality is certainly from the Tuscan region.

To start, I suggest the Sliced Pears, Prosciutto, and Shaved Parmesan Cheese ($13) or my personal favorite, Mussels cooked in Spicy Tomato Broth with White Wine and Garlic ($11). Another great way to sample the menu is to split a pasta dish or two between the table as an appetizer. The Amatriciana cooked with pancetta, onion, tomato, and pecorino cheese is very flavorful red sauce with a delicious hearty bacon flavor.

For my main dish I ordered the Braised Short Ribs in a Chianti Wine Reduction, served with Parmesan Risotto and Garlicky Broccoli Rabe. As if all of these plate components aren’t already my favorite things to eat, they were also cooked to PERFECTION! The meat just seemed to fall apart each time I poked it with the fork, and the risotto was a perfect creamy compliment to the flavors of the Chianti wine reduction. The pair was like an upscale, Italian version of mashed potatoes and gravy. And the broccoli rabe, which can be a hit or a miss for many restaurants, was out of this world good. The garlic seasoning was just right and it was cooked without being too mushy. This dish certainly makes my list of Top 10 Food-gasm experiences.

My mom ordered the Tilapia Livornese topped with capers, black olives, caramelized onion, and tomatoes and served with oven-roasted potatoes. Stealing a small forkful from her was a challenge, thats how much she enjoyed it. The fish was light and buttery and the sauce was incredible.

My dad, on the other hand, opted for something a little bit richer–the Lollipop Lamb Chops in an aged balsamic reduction, served with risotto and roasted potatoes (see photograph at top). As you can see in the photograph, the lamb is cooked to perfection with a bright pink hue in the center of the meat. The balsamic reduction had a nice flavor but thankfully was used sparingly, so as not to take away from the quality taste of the meat. And the potatoes–although just a side component on the plate–were also very nicely done with a crispy outer shell and piping hot center.

After finishing with our main courses, we ordered a round of cappuccinos and a large piece of Homemade Ricotta Cheesecake to share as a table. The coffee was nothing special but the cheesecake was very delicious. It was not too dense or too sweet, and the fresh berries and whipped cream around the edges of the plate were great addition to each bite. A perfect way to end a fabulous meal!

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Filed under Cocktails, Italian Restaurants, New Jersey Restaurants

{ Lemon Caper Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes }

One of the most difficult aspects of planning a meal, aside from getting all the groceries together, is deciding what the heck your actually going to make! As is true of most hardcore foodies, I’m no basic meat and potatoes girl. I love elaborate side dishes and I practically live for condiments–the more, the merrier! So after I choose a protein to cook, I usually find myself flipping through the section labeled “side dishes” in my recipe binder (aka my bible), searching for the perfect partner(s) for my main dish. The standard garlic mashed potatoes and roasted veggies just haven’t been tickling my fancy as of lately, and tonight I wanted something different. So I turned to the end all be all recipe collection, the direct source itself, the food network.

After a great deal of searching, I resolved to try making this lemon, garlic, caper pasta created by Giada de Laurentis. My main dish was a simple herb grilled chicken breast (although my mom also paired it with a nice filet of salmon), and it complimented both dishes beautifully. There are very few ingredients used in making the pasta, so the tremendous flavor comes as quite a surprise, but it was more than welcomed by my plate tonight.

{ Ingredients }

  • 1/2 pound spaghetti
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons capers
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
{ To Make the PastaBring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl.
Add the garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine.
Just before serving, add the basil, capers, lemon zest, and lemon juice to the spaghetti mixture and toss to combine.

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{ Turkey Meatballs with Simple Tomato Sauce }

Being that I am half Italian, my idea of comfort food is classic spaghetti and meatballs. When I am sick I crave my mother’s chicken noodle soup, and when I am away from home for long periods of time I crave her homemade pasta dishes. Unfortunately, I won’t be putting my mother’s meatball recipe on my blog anytime soon (as that is my trump card to winning over a man’s heart…aka top secret stuff), but I do highly recommend these turkey meatballs by Giada De Laurentiis. Not only are they significantly healthier than the average meatball, but they are also very easy to make and taste quite delicious (most people don’t even suspect that they are turkey meat!). For those of you that have her cookbook or have seen this recipe online, you will notice that she pairs the meatballs with a quick tomato sauce containing peas (the sauce seen in my photographs below). I gave this sauce a shot, but could not find anything enjoyable about it. I tried adding extra garlic, extra salt, even mushrooms…but there was just no remedy. So I have offered my own simple tomato sauce recipe to serve with the meatballs, which I use as the base for several pasta dishes. If you are looking for a lower carb meal, then serve the meatballs in a bowl with fresh lemon wedges and a generous sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Whether atop pasta or served alone, these meatballs are fantastic.

NOTE: If you wish to freeze the remaining meatballs, place them into a one gallon ziplock bag with a few ladles of tomato sauce. I find that the sauce helps to keep them moist.

{ Ingredients for Meatballs }

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ounces pancetta, finely diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 pound ground turkey (I used extra lean)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grate Romano cheese
  • 1/4 fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs (I use Panko)
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

{ To Make the Meatballs } Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium flame. Add the pancetta and cook for about 2 minutes, to render out some of the fat. Add the onion and continue to cook until pancetta is crisp and the onion is translucent (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the pancetta/onion mixture with the remaining meatball ingredients and mix with hands to combine.

Form the turkey mixture into balls, about 2 inches in diameter. Place onto a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Now make the pasta and sauce.

{ Ingredients for Simple Sauce

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (28 ounce) can of whole San Marzano tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 2 whole garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

{ To Make Simple Sauce } Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium flame. Sautee the onion for about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute or two (do not burn the garlic). Add the salt, pepper, parsley, and tomatoes. NOTE: If you like your tomato sauce spicy, then add some crushed red pepper flakes at this time! Cook for 10 minutes, then add meatballs to sauce and continue to heat until warm throughout.

{ To Serve } Laddle tomato sauce over cooked out pasta (I use linguine) and top with 2-3 meatballs. Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley over the dish, and enjoy!

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Pazza Notte **

Linguini Al Frutti Di Mare – shrimp, mussels, calamari, scallops, and clams in a white sauce served over freshly-made pasta

212.765.6288
1375 6th Ave
New York, NY

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After lunch at Brasserie 360, Jen and I continued to shop for a few more hours until our tipsy bubbly feeling turned into a headache/hangover. We had one of two options: (1) find advil and get on the next train home, or (2) keep on drinking. Obviously, being 21-year-olds we chose the latter option and posted up at the bar at Rue 57. I wanted a fun drink, but nothing on the drink menu was enticing me so I asked the bar tender to make me her specialty. She whipped up one of the greatest and freshest Pims Cups that I have ever tasted. The citrus from the fruit and the earthiness of the herbs was incredible. I would go back to Rue 57 for this drink alone. After 3 of these, Jen and I were ready to eat….again! Alcohol is just a vicious cycle of eating and drinking.

Pims Cup at Rue 57

 

So we walked, or stumbled shall I say, out of Rue 57 until we came across an Italian restaurant called Pazza Notte. To start, we ordered an appetizer of Fried Calamari with Marinara Sauce. It was delicious, as you expect any fried food to be! The marinara sauce was exceptionally good and a little spicy! They also brought out another sauce that was cream or mayo-based, which had a nice spice to it as well. We also ordered a side of Truffle Herb Parmesan Fries, which were out of this world good! They were served with ketchup and another mayo-based Cajun flavored dipping sauce.

Fried Calamari

Truffle Fries

For my main dish, I ordered the Risotto Di Funghi, which is wild mushroom risotto with white truffle oil and parmesan cheese. This dish is noted as the “owner’s favorite” and it sounds divine, but I was very disappointed. I found that the risotto was too mushy and entirely too oily. It actually made my mouth feel dirty after the first bite, and so I sent it back and continued snacking on the truffle fries instead!

Jennifer ordered her usual Linguini Al Frutti Di Mare, which is shrimp, mussels, calamari, scallops, and clams in a white sauce served over freshly-made pasta (photographed at top). She thought it was amazing and had no complaints, although I did not try the dish myself.

The one redeeming factor for Pazza Notte was the drink special—two for one martinis! Jen and I chose to sip on the Blood Orange Maritinis for the remainder of the evening and they were delicious! However, I am a foodie and not an alcoholic, so I probably won’t be going back to Pazza Notte anytime soon. I can get drinks at a bar—I expect good food at a restaurant.

2 for 1 Blood Orange Martinis

 

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