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We are here to bring you our life through food. Especially Italian food. You can learn more about us here.

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Thursday
May232013

Solid (not spectacular, but solid) Italian Fare at Rafele

The other day, a couple of friends and I headed to Rafele - A recently-ish opened West Village Italian spot (on 29 7th Ave South) which seemed to be coupled with almost universal praise according to yelp, urban table, and this random Italian dude I met at a house party not too long ago who proclaimed that Rafele had the best Italian food he'd eaten since moving to the states (true story).  I had actually visited Rafele a couple of times for Pizza (made in a Neapolitan wood burning oven) and was so impressed that I made it a point to return so sample their entrees.  Bring it, Rafele.  Let's see what you got.

The scene inside is a pleasant one.  There is a capably staffed bar immediately to your right, ample indoor/outdoor seating, high ceilings, an open kitchen, and a seemingly friendly (and at times a heavily accented) Italian wait-staff.  Our Neapolitan waiter politely steered us into moderately priced wine, which the group appreciated.  A good start so far.

Rafele continued a strong impression with their appetizers. The highlight was actually a complimentary side dish: a deliciously sweet, syrupy Caponata bruschetta with peppers and olives.  We also ordered carciofi (fried artichokes) and a buratta mozzarella which sat over a small mound of endives.  Both were pretty freaking awesome, I must say.  The crispy, salt artichokes were complimented quite nicely by runny, tangy and slightly sour buratta.  Bravo.

Momentum nonetheless stalled for our pasta courses, I must say.  I ordered a Tagloilini ai funghi with mixed mushrooms and a truffle pate.  The noodles, which had a delicate and skillful homemade consistency, were a bit bland.  Some also stuck together, as opposed to how a homemade pasta dish should behave: where the noodles just sort of effortlessly coexist together in a frictionless, harmonious arrangement of glory and fine craftsmanship.  There was decent-to-moderately pleasing truffle flavor however, and a faint, but noticeable and appropriate level of oil throughout the dish.  I was simultaneously pleased and dissatisfied, if that is possible. My two buddies had similar blandness complaints about their pastas as well.

The slightly disappointing dinner was at least temporarily forgotten by a fine dessert performance, a rich, light, creamy slice of fresh ricotta cheesecake. 

In judging the overall experience of Rafele, I'd give it a solid score, but with some fluctuating consistency.  The appetizers, dessert, and environment were more than adequate, however the pastas were a tad disappointing... but I'd be willing to give Rafele a second try.

Ultimate experience - Black Swan

 

Friday
May172013

Soft Boiled Eggs to Run With

I've never made a soft boiled egg. This is a true story. I've always been slightly intimidated by the task, preferring to hard boil the bujeezes out of my eggs just to make sure they are cooked.

This, I've decided, is silly. Because I love a runny yolk. I love how it merges with toast to create that bread-eggy goo that when sprinkled with salt and a little fresh pepper is breakfast magic.

So this morning (yes, I am writing to you same day!), I went for a run. This is not unusual. But today it was. Since my biking accidents, I've been having some trouble running. There's something going on in my right leg that's just not quite right.

But today, I decided I was going to conquer two obstacles together: the lack of soft boiled eggs in my life AND this running business.

So I went for a run. I ran SLOWLY. So slowly, that stationary objects were passing me. And I had to remind myself with every step to keep it slow. I have this problem: I like to jack up the pace like a maniac, thinking faster is better. More is more and so must be better. But much like the eggs, less is sometimes more. Less cooking time, less speed, less less less...

I returned home with a 40 minute easy run behind me, groceries and these flowers in hand and set to the task of making breakfast. I looked up "soft boiled eggs" on the Internet. What a resource, this Internet. What did we do before this? Ask people? I found this article on soft boiling eggs and followed the instructions exactly.

I was not disappointed. I made two soft-boiled-to-perfection eggs, with a little whole wheat bun slathered in coconut butter. Coconut butter is my new favorite kind of butter.

So, go slowly. Make some soft boiled eggs. And stop to smell the flowers.

Tuesday
May142013

Fall Down and Get Back Up Again. And Again...

I've had a few biking "incidents" lately. These things happen. And luckily, they haven't been too serious. However, they don't really make you feel excited, or happy, or all, "woooo TIGER BLOOD, I'm WINNING!!"

No. They sorta make you feel slow. And slightly stupid. And owchy. And couldn't Johnson & Johnson make the size bandaid that you need (tarp sized, please), instead of 1,298 sizes that won't work??

Just a suggestion.

And here's another suggestion: taxed muscles, whether from training or from a fall need some recovery and repair. Nutritionally speaking, a good way to get that is through protein. This month, I was featured in Triathlete Magazine's June issue with two sneaky protein-rich recipes.

Sneaky? Yes, they're sneaky because they don't contain meat or fancy protein powders. They contain farro. Farro is a grain that is very high in protein (about 6 grams per 1/2 cup of cooked farro). And you can use it to make any number of things, like the Coconut Farro Oatmeal or Fig Cookies with farro crust.

The recipe for the Coconut Farro Oatmeal is below. For the fig cookies, go check out Triathlete Magazine!

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

1 cup farro

2 cups coconut milk (not the condensed stuff, the other kind) plus additional for serving

pinch of salt

1 tablespoon maple syrup

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

2 rounded tablespoons of ground flax seeds

¼ cup dried cranberries

½ cup fresh blueberries

¼ cup slivered almonds

¼ cup shredded coconut (unsweetened preferred, but you can use either)

Instructions:

Measure out the farro, ground flax seeds and coconut milk and pour them into a medium pot. Heat on medium-low on your stovetop adding in the seasonings and sweetener: maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg.

Simmer until tender and liquid is absorbed - about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, preheat your oven (or toaster oven) to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment and spread the shredded coconut and almond slivers onto the baking sheet. Toast for about 5-8 minutes, keeping a constant watch on the progress as the nuts will toast quite quickly. Feel free to toss halfway through the baking process to ensure an even browning.

Remove from oven and set aside.

Scoop the cooked farro into serving bowls. Top with a little extra coconut milk, fresh blueberries and dried cranberries. Sprinkle with the toasted almond and coconut mixture.

A special note of thanks to all my Full Throttle teammates who have been so nice and supportive as I continually fell off my bicycle in the past week. Thanks for delivering medical supplies, making me dinner, checking in, checking in again, enduring chatter about my sprained groin...the list goes on. You guys are the best.

Friday
May102013

May Slice of the Month - Artichoke Mini Pizzas

 Here we are in May! May means artichokes, did you know? Now you do.

Artichokes are an art. That's why there's an "art" in them. They take some care and attention, but they are oh-so-worth it. In this recipe, I'll show you how to prune down those 'chokes and poach 'em up all proper and simple for Poached Artichoke and Ricotta Mini Pizzas. Mini pizzas are fantastic for parties and occassions like Memorial Day (which is fast approaching).

If you'd like to download a super-fancy version of this pizza recipe as a pdf, you can head on over to Colavita's Facebook page, like them, and violá! you will have it. It's that simple...just like the 'chokes. Now let's get started.

What You Need:

What To Do:

Heat the oven to 500 degrees. If using a pizza stone, allow the stone to heat up along with the oven for a half hour before baking on it. 

Prepare the artichokes according to the recipe below.

Stretch out your dough on a cornmeal-dusted peel into mini pizza sizes: about  4-5” in diameter, and brush the tops with olive oil.

Spread the ricotta cheese over the top of the dough in a thin, even layer.

Place two of the artichoke quarters on top of the cheese, per mini pizza.

Drizzle some Colavita Extra Virgin olive oil over the top, and sprinkle with a little sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and an extra squeeze of lemon juice.

Slide your mini pizzas onto the stone in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and garnish with more freshly chopped mint and parsley. 

Instructions for the Artichokes:

Trim the artichokes. Using a sharp knife, cut off the tough outer leaves, removing about two inches of leaves from the artichoke. Also trim one inch from the tops of all the artichokes. Cut the trimmed artichokes into quarters, scraping out the fuzzy heart and stem area.

Rub the artichoke quarters with lemon, and add the all the trimmed artichokes to a bowl filled with cold water and the juice from 1 lemon.

Heat 2-3 tablespoons of Colavita Extra Virgin olive oil in saucepan on your stove top over medium-low heat. Add the crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, mint, parsley and lemon slices and allow to simmer softly for about 3 minutes.

Pour 3/4 cup each of wine and 1/2 cup water to the pan. Drain the artichokes from the bowl of water, and season them with a sprinkle of salt and some freshly ground pepper.  Add them to the saucepan and increase the heat to medium.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer, covered for about 20-25 minutes. The artichokes should be tender. Remove them from the heat and reserve for the pizza.

 

Friday
May032013

April - The Month in Review

A lot happened in April. A LOT. Let's recap, because there's some good stuff you may have missed. There's some good stuff I may have missed...

We began the month with a get-into-Spring pizza recipe: Asparagus and Leek with a squirt of Lemon. As usual, you can get monthly Slices of the Month from Colavita's Facebook page. May happens to be up there right now...hint, hint!

Shortly after I made and devoured this pizza, I was prepping for my first triathlon of the season in South Beach. I was having some trouble....getting the pedals off my bike for transport. Consider this text exchange with my teammate Joe:

The experience reminded me of my favorite Polite Card:

So I gave it up as a bad job and had someone else do it for me. The good news is that the bike made is safely to South Beach, and I had a successful race. I placed 4th out of the Elite women, even though the swim was a bit rough had me feeling like this:

The chronology of the event went something like this:

1. Butter mixed with Peccorino cheese (DO THIS!!) from Sardinia Restaurant in South Beach:

2. Race time:

3. Cheeseburgers:

Good times.

When I returned, it was time for John's birthday. So we heaved ourselves over to Sammy's Cider Mill for some of John's (and my) favorite Pasta with Vodka Sauce:

Saucy! With all these carbs flying around, I felt it was time to wax philosophical on the subject in a Post About Toast. Do you have opinions on toast? I would like to hear them.

Moving from the familiar (toast) to the new and uncharted, I took a Gastronomic tour of Brooklyn with a couple of chefs and found some stellar new eateries. Read all about that adventure here.

In other news, I'm working on a fun new project. A sneak peek can be found in the header image of this post. I can't tell you what it is yet. But it was be colorful, fun, and full of foooooood! Good for you food, in fact. A topic I've been studying up on in a completely non-official sort of way. It's been inspiring me to make healthier meals, and to create more portable biking snacks, like these powerful muffins:

And speaking of biking...I took a spill off my bike. Now, I've talked about this before, but previous spills all involved me moving nowhere fast and just kind of tumbling over like an idiot. This was was a bit more intense.

I have to give a shout out to my friend and teammate Caitlin and her family who took very good care of me after my incident. This is us before (note the fancy pink uniforms!):

And I won't post an after photo, only to say that the above jersey has a few holes in it. As do these fancy leg warners that go with it:

And yes, I *may* have designed these. And then, subsequently, wrecked them.

It could all have been much, much worse. But please, PLEASE WEAR YOUR HELMETS. I'm begging you. The whole incident had me feeling much like this:

Again.

Anyway, I'm offering you a Speedy Recovery Recipe that is very simple. So simple, that if you're laid-up and can't handle a lot of activity, this should just do the trick. Or a pint of ice cream. Or both.

This recipe is for Baked Eggs with Spinach and Tomato Sauce.

What You Need:

2 eggs

small bunch of spinach (you decide how much)

1/4 cup tomato sauce (or even better VODKA sauce if you have it. See my recipe for that here.)

salt and freshly ground black pepper.

One of those tiny dutch ovens or a ramekin covered with tin foil

What To Do:

Crack 2 eggs into the dutch oven or ramekin.

Throw in the spinach and the tomato sauce.

Bake, covered, in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Have some crusty bread on hand for dipping!

Are you exhausted yet? If not, you may want to sign up for John's next tour of Atlantic City, complete with sub shops, poker, and copious amounts of Kettle One. Let's just assume he looked like this the morning after: