Tag Archives: olive oil

Minestrone Soup | “Moonstruck”

by Blake

New York in the 80’s seems to be like the New York of today, except a little dirtier, more Italians, and fewer minorities. Personally, I feel as though Hollywood just doesn’t make old Italian people like they used to. In fact, this movie is like a celebration of Italian New York, complete with food, from start to finish. The movie even opens with Dean Martin’s That’s Amorewhich you have definitely heard. My actual favorite food seen in the film was the Egg-In-The-Hole being made by the best Greek-playing-Italian Olympia Dukakis, but is really too simple to require a recipe, right?

breakfast

Awesome.

Cher is Loretta Castorini, a 37-year-old widow who looks 26 (even with gray hair) because Cher ages backward, very very slowly and who lives with her parents in an area of Brooklyn with no cars and no minorities. Her fiancé, Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello) flies to Sicily right after proposing to Loretta in a restaurant.  But he wants his angry, estranged brother Ronny Cammareri (Nic Cage, who appears to work as a coal shoveler at Cammareri Brothers Bakery in Brooklyn) to attend, and asks Loretta to get him there while he’s away.

The scene where Cher goes to the bakery to convince Ronny to come to the wedding contains what might be the first over-the-top Nic Cage speech scene in film history, a harbinger of the Nic Cage to come, the Nic Cage we all know and love. I would have checked, but it’s been a long time since I saw Raising Arizona and we all know what happens when you watch too many Nic Cage films.

So, Spoiler Alert: How awesome would it be for a strange woman to show up at your job, tell you she’s marrying your brother and then cook you a medium rare steak? Beautiful Cher is having dinner with Raising Arizona Nicolas Cage. And it becomes exactly the kind of relationship beginning you’d expect from a Nic Cage baker character with a wooden hand. After not nearly enough scotch to make me believe Ronny could just get a woman like Cher into bed after a steak and conversation, especially when she’s marrying his brother, I had to tweet my assertion to the world:

No way does Cher (seen here):

Cher

Fall for Raising Arizona-level Nic Cage:

Cage

Cher tweeted back at me, which was awesome. Then her fans started to, which was overwhelming. They’re pretty big fans of Nic Cage in this movie. So you decide the feasibility of this romance. In my opinion, it must have been one hell of a moon that night.

And it was. The day after Loretta meets Ronny, she’s doing her rounds as a bookkeeper at her uncle’s deli, where he asks her about the moon. The moon got into everyone the night before, apparently. As she goes, her uncle, walking off, yells to the back: “Hey Frankie! Make me a bowl of Minestrone!” Minestrone is what you eat when you’re in love.

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Or when you’re having dinner with Frasier’s dad.

So let’s start this soup which celebrates love, Minestrone is not going to choke a pig, but its a great way to start a meal that could.
Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup carrots, scrubbed, 1/4-inch dice
1 cup onions, 1/4-inch dice
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/4 cup celery, minced
chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup white wine
1 bay leaf
1 quart water
1 cup plum tomatoes, diced
8 ounces fresh pasta
1 cup zucchini, diced and blanched
1 cup loosely packed fresh spinach
Fresh cracked pepper

Garnish
Grated cheese (such as Parmesan or Romano)
2 tablespoons fresh basil, torn into little scraps

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I grow my own basil, and so should everyone else.

 

* If you don’t have white wine on hand, chicken or vegetable stock will do in a pinch!

Instructions

• In a large saucepan, heat olive oil for 1 minute on medium-high.

• Add  carrots and sauté for 1 minute.

• Add the onions and sauté for 1 additional minute before adding the garlic, celery, and rosemary.

• Sauté this mixture for 5 minutes, or until the ingredients are caramelized.

• Add the white wine and bay leaf, bring to a boil, and add the water and tomatoes.

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• Bring to a boil, add the pasta, decrease the heat to low, and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked.

• Remove the pan from the heat, fish out the bay leaf, and swirl in the zucchini and spinach.

• Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.

• Call Frasier’s Dad out for being too old to sleep with college girls and/or enjoy the zest love brought to your life.

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FYI – Cammareri Brothers bakery at Henry and Sackett Streets in Brooklyn still open!

 

 

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Shawarma | “The Avengers”

by Blake Stilwell

avengers_poster

I don’t really think this movie needs an introduction, as it raked in enough cash for everyone to have have seen it twice. But here we go anyway… The Avengers: the story of seven strangers picked to live in a floating invisible aircraft carrier, work together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real. The working together part was right. They really needed to work together. They’re going to fight a nearly indestructible alien army and one of their crew shoots arrows while another one brought the world’s smallest handgun.

Why not just bring a knife. Seriously.

That scene always reminds me of this:

Anyway, saving the world is hungry work (I mean, probably). Either that or it’s a good way to transition right to the end of the movie because the fight scene ran long but was too awesome to cut. It doesn’t matter why, let’s just celebrate with shawarma, the Middle Eastern sandwich easily found on the streets of Beirut, Ramallah, and New York City. No sarcasm, it’s everywhere. And for good reason. It’s portable and delicious.

If you don’t recognize the second scene from this clip, you need to remember not to leave during the credits of a Marvel movie.

It’s kind of understandable that Tony Stark never tried shawarma. He probably spent more time blowing up parts of the Middle East than getting a feel for its cuisine. But it’s never too late to catch up! Our recipe is for chicken shawarma, but the lamb is really good too.

FYI: This recipe has to marinate overnight, so don’t put off the prep for it.

Ingredients Assemble!
2 lbs of thinly cut skinless boneless chicken breast

The Marinade:
½ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
4 tablespoons plain (Greek) yogurt
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1 head of garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1  teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon ground ginger
pinch nutmeg

Instructions
Rinse the chicken in cold water then cut into thinner cuts of about ½ inch. Set aside.

Mix all other ingredients in a blender. Blend. It’s not going to look pretty.

picstitch

It’s delicious, though, I promise.

Mix well with the chicken, cover and let marinate in the fridge overnight. When it’s properly marinated, grill the marinated chicken using a panini grill for about 15 minutes on medium heat. I don’t have a grill, a panini press or a Foreman Grill. So I had to improvise.

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Waffle Iron Man

Grilling is the important part. Don’t bake or fry the chicken, you’re trying to recreate the style of a rotating roasting spit. If you’ve never been to the Middle East or a Middle Eastern restaurant, it looks like this:

Shawarma Spit

Once cooked, shred the chicken into bite sized edible chunks. Spread the chicken shreds on pita bread, add some Lebanese Garlic paste ( aka Toum – visit your friendly neighborhood Middle Eastern grocer, specialty store or make your own) or Tahine, and add some salty Middle Eastern-style pickles (also available at a specialty store, but regular pickles will do). Many times this is served with grilled or roasted tomatoes. In the Middle East, it’s served with 7,000 different kinds of pickled vegetable options, a really weak hot sauce, and/or fries. In the sandwich.

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Earth’s Mightiest Sandwich

I didn’t add tomatoes because I hate them and didn’t add fries because I spent so much effort in cooking the meat this way to lock the juices in, why would I add a condiment that would just sap them from the meat? That being said, fries are not a condiment. They go next to the sandwich, not on it (looking at you, Primanti Bros. of Pittsburgh).

Toum, though. Seriously.

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