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Entomophagy (or I Ate Crickets for My Birthday)

28 Sep

Eighty percent of the world’s countries include insects in their diet. Yes, even you, although it might be more by accident or ignorance than design!

Entomophagy is the ingestion of insects for food (deliberate as opposed to the odd bug that flies down your throat when you are riding a bicycle, I suppose).

For more incidental entomophagy, try this HuffPost article on some of the more common bugs that are allowed in your food. Or read this Insects As Food blog post for more on what bugs people eat on purpose. Bugs are also recommended as an alternative food source by the U.N. (although something tells me they weren’t serving crickets on a stick at the recent General Assembly in N.Y.)

So when one of the contestants at a recent Latino Lover magazine ceviche throwdown I attended offered crispy crickets as a ceviche topping, the girls from Puerto Rico – Ada, Jocelyn, Paola, and me — looked at each other for about a half-second and dug right in.

Don't judge 'em 'till you've tried 'em

Don’t judge ’em ’till you’ve tried ’em

They were crunchy! They were salty! They were good!

They perfectly set off the watermelon in the ceviche and they were pretty good plain too, washed down with a fresh Albariño as per Paola and I…Ada and Jocelyn went for the beer instead. So yes, we ate crickets and liked them a whole lot (admittedly, we had to set aside the ones whose antennae/leggy bits were just too, well insect-y to actually put in our mouths).

So, what did I have for dinner on the eve of my birthday? Bugs! Hurray for an old dog being fearless about new tricks!

Me and Maricel...planning a trip to Zafra/Cucharamama in Hobeken very soon!

Me and Maricel…planning a trip to Zafra/Cucharamama in Hobeken very soon!

The winners of the contest were not at all the ones I liked…Toloache was tops for me…and yes, that was the one with the crickets and watermelon. Thanks to the girls for a great birthday…highlighted by running into my dear friend Maricel Presilla — restaurateur and food historian (see her books on chocolate and Latin food or visit her artisanal, pan-Latino Hoboken restaurants: Cucharamama and Zafra!).

Guest Post from a Ghost Writer: Crostini with Fig Spread, Caramelized Onions and Gorgonzola

5 Jun

Kerriann Flanagan Brosky puts the normal in paranormal. Seriously…when I say she’s a ghost writer, I’m not kidding!

Kerriann is today’s guest blogger sharing a great recipe for crostini, but I simply must give you the back story before we get to that.

Many of us who love food lead double lives. I grow, cook and write about food, but in my other life I am a full-time college professor. Look around the food blogging world and you’ll find fulltime parents, home renovators, artists, poets, and more. But my fellow contributor at Edible Long Island, Kerriann Flanagan Brosky, a cookbook author, writer and photographer, sent my eyebrows to the ceiling and my jaw to the floor with her other profession: she is a serious ghost investigator!

Kerriann and Sal, co-writers of Delectable Italian Dishes

Kerriann and Sal, co-writers of Delectable Italian Dishes

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Quick Cook Clams on the Half Shell – Lighter and Healthier Mediterranean Style

23 May

Summers on Long Island have traditionally been lined with clams. From the big surf clam shells you collect at the beach and take home as keepsakes, ashtrays, tealight holders and that are the most likely clams in your fried clam strips, to the cherrystones you burn your back and cut up your feet feeling around for somewhere in the marshy areas between Massapequa and Jones Beach, to the baked clams that are a feature of virtually every family restaurant on the South Shore, the steamers (which we call piss clams) that you eat by the bucket dipping the clams in brine and butter (after removing that weird skin – best not to discuss it), washed down with golden beers on the fishing docks of Freeport’s Nautical Mile...yeah, clams are a part of life here, especially in the summer.

This is what they look like after steaming and before broiling.

This is what they look like after steaming and before broiling.

So never mind that the clams we used in this recipe were actually from Maryland (once again, thanks Ashley!), it still felt like a proper kick-off to the outdoor eating season to us.

This was a super easy recipe (especially because my dad was actually the one who did most of the work, while I fussed about with other things, like chilling the wine and getting my own Mussels Vinaigrette plated) and the results were phenomenal. Pedro being Pedro, he didn’t use butter, which would be traditional. Instead he used garlic-infused olive oil and I think the dish was much, much better for it. Very fresh, briny, and bracing, the way I like my seafood! Continue reading

Five Tasty, Terrific, and Totally Easy Mushroom Recipes!

16 Apr

According to Organic Gardening magazine, today is National Mushroom Day (although according to every other source it is not!). Dramatic and sustaining, mushrooms are a quick way to jazz up your basic burger, make a delicious appetizer or add some sexiness to a tapas night. So in honor of the day that may or may not be, here are my top five mushroom posts.

They can all be made with the basic white button mushroom, which tends to be the most economical. Look for unblemished crowns and on the underside, try to get mushrooms which are closed around the stem, not fanning out. Wipe them clean with a damp paper towel (the woman I worked for in France had me peel them one by one, but I don’t recommend that for every day cooking. Too much work!)

Click directly on each photo to connect to the recipe.

One of my all-time top posts: Sauteed mushrooms and onions is the Best Burger Topping. Ever.

One of my all-time top posts: Sauteed mushrooms and onions is the Best Burger Topping. Ever.

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Crispy Beer Battered Oysters: Delightfully Light, Incredibly Easy

9 Apr

I am not lying when I say you can make these crispy beer battered oysters with just five ingredient in a jiffy. That is, in a jiffy if you either can shuck oysters yourself, or buy them shucked.

If neither of the above is true – as was the case when my friend Ashley brought us two dozen Maryland oysters from her Easter trip back home — Don’t worry! You can either steam, grill or microwave  them open, or, if you’re daring, grab anything that looks like an oyster knife, do a quick Internet search on shucking, and give it a go. (Shucking instructions and recipe below!)

Protect the hands in a towel while hunting for the hinge

Protect the hands in a towel while hunting for the hinge

Me and the dad gave it a go (because we couldn’t help ourselves in the face of the challenge), banishing the moms from the kitchen so she couldn’t see the mess we were making or how we were taking our lives in our hands for the sake of an oozy, slimy, bivalve with no pearl. Lo and behold, a few scary, sweaty minutes later, we had a pile of plump glistening oysters waiting to be fried and a couple of beers waiting to wash them down with.

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Fish on Friday: Five More Fab Seafood Solutions

28 Mar
Spanish tapas: Mussels vinaigrette (make 'em the night before)

Spanish tapas: Mussels vinaigrette (make ’em the night before)

The last Friday in Lent is coming up. Why just pan-fry filets (again), when you could try some of these much more entertaining and tasty takes on seafood? This is Part Two of my Lenten seafood series. I know you’ll end up making them all year long. I certainly do!

Shrimp and Avocado Salad, Spiked with Chipotle (charming served in an avocado shell)

Shrimp and Avocado Salad, Spiked with Chipotle (charming served in an avocado shell)

Pasta al Tonno: One of the fastest pasta sauces known to man. (switch out the green olives for black) Deeply flavored

Pasta al Tonno: One of the fastest pasta sauces known to man. (Feel free to switch out the green olives for black and skip the capers) Deeply flavored!

Creamy, sweet, tangy, chunky, light Swedish Skagen Salad (the best shrimp salad EVER)

Creamy, sweet, tangy, chunky, light Swedish Skagen Salad (the best shrimp salad EVER)

Cioppino Latino...sí, sí, sí

Cioppino Latino…A San Fran Seafood Stew Classic with a special Latina twist

For more seafood recipes, click here!

Nine Super Bowl Tapas and Snacks (Easy and More Elegant than the Average Tailgate)

30 Jan
Chorizo on toast

Chorizo on toast

If you are getting ready for a Super Bowl party, I’ve got some styling, kickin’ tapas ideas for you! Just click on the picture for the recipe…they are all pretty easy (with the exception of the tortillas, which require a bit of derring-do, but are well worth it). They are also portable! Have a great Game Day…I’ll be back with more ideas soon!

¡Ole! ¡Fantástico!

¡Ole! ¡Fantástico!

Mussels vinaigrette (make em the night before)

Mussels vinaigrette (make em the night before)

Tortilla Torcal

Tortilla Torcal

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Basic Baked Meatballs: Simple, Adaptable, Freezeable

26 Jan

Great Super Bowl party buffet idea!

The other day I posted my recipe for fancy-cheesy meatballs. Here now, as promised, the basic meatballs that I did just in case we had a child who wanted something more simple (we did not). Baked and basic, you can add any seasonings or sauces to them to make them suit your mood. (Try Roasted Red Pepper Dipping Sauce)

(You can also try my albóndigas variation which is pretty easy and includes Old Bay, or Pedro’s pan-fried  albóndigas, or Ham & Cheese meatballs in the oven. I do like my meatballs!)

I now have a bunch of basics in the freezer, and will very likely pull them out for Super Bowl…and serve them with toothpicks. If I can find the right passionfruit juice, I will soon post a passionfruit sauce recipe that my friend Mayra used to do in PR. I just found the recipe among some old papers and I am eager to try it.

Otherwise, any BBQ-type thick dipping sauce will do!

Basic Baked Meatballs

Basic Baked Meatballs

Basic Baked Meatballs

1 egg

1 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped (or 2 tsp dry)

1 Tbs grated onion

1 tsp garlic, minced

1 tsp Adobo powder

1 grating black pepper

1 lb. ground beef (can include ¼ lb. ground pork)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix all ingredients except meat until combined. Add meat in chunks. Mix lightly until well combined and roll into 1.5” balls. Place on a foil-covered rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into one reaches 160°F. Serve as cocktail meatballs with your favorite sauce, add to pasta sauce, or make into sandwiches. They will adapt to just about any flavor palette.

Meatballs for Good Friends (and a full freezer) Part 1 (with cheese)

23 Jan

(Three hundredth post!!!!)

Cooking a nice meal for both parents and kids does not have to involve making two separate dinners.Well, not exactly, anyway.

I confess to getting cold feet halfway through my prep and making myself a safety net, so let’s say this time I made one-and-a-half meals, but in the process, I really stocked the freezer for the new semester.

The juicy, savory, binding

The juicy, savory, binding

I made some “fancy” meatballs and some basic ones (that recipe later in the week) for a Single Mothers By Choice-three-family dinner here at home last weekend…pasta, meatballs and red sauce…can you really go wrong? My friend, Pam, brought the salad fixings, and Kim brought a sinful dessert (which one pretends is for the kids, but is really just as much for the growns) and everything went swimmingly! And everyone liked both fancy and plain.

On their way to the oven

On their way to the oven

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The pictures are awful, but these oven-roasted mushrooms are amazing!

20 Jan

If I had known how good these mushrooms in garlic were going to turn out, I would have been more careful about the pictures!

Mushy focus!

Mushy focus!

This is a wonderful variation on the classic stove-top champiñones al ajillo or mushrooms in garlic sauce, that is a staple of Spanish tapas places and that I have posted before (with butter  or with olive oil)My friend, Marianne and I made them as sort of an afterthought as we were packing the oven with roasted vegetables for our New Year of Eating Right. Why not throw these in too, since we have some space?

Genius.

Get the crusty bread ready, because you are going to want to mop up every bit of sauce.

Blurry photo, clearly delicious

Blurry photo, clearly delicious

Oven-roasted mushrooms in garlic (Champiñones al ajillo, al horno)

10 oz. button or baby bella mushrooms

2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs chopped parsley, optional

Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Wipe mushrooms clean. Trim off woody stem bits and cut into ¼” slices. Mix mushrooms, garlic , and oil in an ovenproof dish and roast, turning once, for about 30 minutes or until mushrooms are shiny, opaque and dark brown. Sprinkle parsley over, salt to taste and serve with toothpicks as a tapas dish or mix with warm pasta for a light primo piatto (first dish/appetizer).

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