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Entries in John Iaciofano (5)


Things John Eats - A Birthday Post

Today is John's 32nd birthday. He doesn't want me to tell you this. In fact, we had a conversation about it the other day:

John: I'm happy to see there are no birthday posts in the blog queue.

Me: Not YET.

John: No.

Me: Yes.

And so, here I go, defiantly and publicly wishing my brother a happy birthday to the 3 people that read this blog. I'm hoping Marmo and The Box are already aware of the date, so it's just that one other person...

Anyway! To celebrate this fine date, I have compiled a list of things John likes to eat, with accompanying recipes and entertaining conversations.

John doesn't do much cooking. You might recall the state of his freezer which will illustrate his level of preparedness in that regard:

You might also recall the numerated post we featured on the contents of his refrigerator (which was equally alarming).

The state of this appliance often leads to numerous questions from John on what he should eat. Consider a recent one in which he was attempting to revamp his diet, asking me for advice:

John: So, it's NOT a good idea to eat a whole rotisserie chicken for dinner?

Me: Is this a serious question?

John: Yeah.

Me (stunned silence)

Back in the day, John used to eat some interesting things. He would dunk either peanut butter or grilled cheese sandwiches in vanilla yogurt. I found this disgusting. But I was intrigued enough to update the recipe to something palatable:

You can find the recipes for that here.

John's absolute favorite dessert is Marmo's apple pie, which is a deep dish apple pie with a crumble crust. It's a most impressive pie. He even wrote a post about it, here. But his final meal? He would dip a pasta fork in the Vodka Pasta at Sammy's Cider Mill. And I must say, although we don't always agree, I tip my hat to this choice.

John definitely keeps me entertained. Like the time we had the following conversation:

John: Do you have any fake mustaches lying around?

Me: No.

John: Did you check everywhere?

Me: Yes?

This was all in prep for the DiFara video we made. We did not have fake mustaches. But we did dance around John's apartment, pizza peel in hands to the tune of  "She Drives Me Crazy"

Video seems to be John's preferred method of blog contribution. Although, he has recently figured out how to use Twitter, which scared the pants off me. Especially when I received this text:

Yes, it does smell like carrots (special points if anyone knows which TV show that is from).

And so, happy birthday to my favorite and only brother!

He dances!

He grows beards!

And he occasionally shows up at my races, hung over, vanquishes the athlete snack bar, and then heads back to bed!

To many more years of chipping golf balls into your bathtub, random gchat and text conversations, open hostility with my 16 pound dog Toby, eating fests, tipsy bike rides down the shore, painful conversations with Aunt Emily (cut your hair, ACDC!!!), philosophical conversations about what I SHOULD be doing with my life, terrifying dating advice and endless hours of the Golf Channel. Endless, people.

Happy frickin' birthday!


January – A Month in Review

It's been a fast and furious month, packed with all kinds of tasty treats. As we roll into February, we'd like to recap the most important John and Elana blog happenings.

First, we featured a seasonal pizza, that's perfect for warming up your winter kitchen: Kale and Roasted Carrot.

I (Elana) started organized triathlon practice once again and consequently became very hungry. So I made mini donuts...

...drank my breakfast in the shower...

...and even contributed a biscotti and rice ball recipe to Triathlete Magazine!

And then I had a nap.

When I woke up, John insisted we create a video prounciation guide for Italian food. We did this (view video here), and then promptly threw back some vino while watching LOST re-runs. I then snapped this photo of John's sociopathic freezer and forced him to drive me from Hoboken to the Upper West Side. This is why he is a good brother.

To balance things out, we began a new column, Farmer Fridays, written by my friend Meg. She runs a fantastic farm in New Jersey, Fresh and Fancy Farms. You should go. But if you can't, check out these two posts about roasted winter vegetables...

and fresh herb tea...

Finally, John and I came full circle and ended Some coal-fired pizza from Arturo's in the West Village, that is. While we made questionable use of the table's garlic powder, we gave Arturo's a Top Gun ranking in our overall system.

Extra points for the bathtub.

Onto February! And remember:


Elana in France! Followed by the Iaciofano's on Maneuvers in Italy!

This is big news. BIG. Nope, you're not thinking big enough....therrrre you go. Ok, here it is:

Starting tomorrow (that means Wednesday) I will be leaving town. Just for a spell, I'll be coming back (I think). I'm going to France to cycle with my triathlon team, Full Throttle. We are going to be landing in Nice and cycling parts of the Tour De France. This will most likely be the most difficult cycling I've ever done.

Consider the itinerary:

Intimidating, no? However! We will be stopping for wine and food along the way. For those of you that read the above graphic, you will have noted that we actually stop for a wine tasting in between legs of one of the bike rides. This strikes me as hilarious.

I've only ridden a bike a few times after drinking. The first time was in Paris, and the bike had a flat tire. It was one of those pay-a-Euro-take-a-bike dealio's. I had a confusing conversation with an inebriated Parisian about the state of my bicycle.

The other times have been on the handlebars (yes, I'm aware this isn't safe) of my giant pink beach cruiser, piloted by John as we depart from some Jersey Shore related entertainment (namely, The Sea Shell on LBI).

So this will be a new experience! I'm hoping it will look everything like this...

image from: nothing like the Paris or LBI experiments. But we shall see.

Immediately afterwards, I am hopping on one of those high speed trains (at this point I will probably be thankful for a mode of transport that propels itself) and going to Milan, Italy where I will meet the rest of the Iaciofano's (three in total: Marmo, The Box and John) for a reverse carbo-loading experience.

Here is the Italian itinerary:

This agenda, as you can see, is woefully lacking in detail. Where are we eating? What are we doing? And what is this mysterious villa mentioned on May 5th? This agenda was supplied by the enigmatic Marmo, so no one should be surprised by the scarcity of information. SHE knows exactly what's happening. The rest of us are clueless.

And so, this is how we will roll through Northern Italy, as Marmo (a.k.a. The Little General) marches us to heaven only knows where!

I'm not sure if this is more or less frightening than the drunk cycling. Both are likely to cause some kind of international incident.

What is it that you pack for such an adventure? I'm going with "everything" or so it would seem from this snapshot of my packing area:

That is a terrifying mess, is it not? Let's have that in a close-up:

Even scarier. Anyway, I promise to get this under control. I also promise to keep you updated. Once a day I will post something to this blog. It will most likely be an iPhone camera snippet of what's going on. What's been eaten, seen, stumbled upon, and hopefully not crashed into.

I invite you to join me, my fellow cycling maniacs and my family as we traipse around Europe and attempt to behave ourselves! Stay tuned....


Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake for John's Birthday

It's John's birthday again! Well, it's John's birthday on Thursday, the 12th. But I'm posting early. I like to stay ahead of him, keep him on his toes. 

Some of you may wonder what we do to celebrate John's birthday. Well....that gets dicey. John hates his birthday!

Whaaaaaat? Yes, yes - it's true! I just don't understand this hatred. So, I like to go around him and plan things for him that he would ordinarily, left to his own devices, ignore, avoid and fear. I'm a good sister, yes?


For his 29th birthday I planned a beer pong surprise party. Remember that part about being a good sister? I am one, clearly.

Last year, I respected his wishes and didn't throw a party, but I embarrassed him publicly on the blog, stating the various things that made him a great brother. You can read last year's testimonial here.

This year, I am taking him out to dinner. He hasn't decided where he wants to dine yet. But I would like to invite you all to post your birthday wishes on this blog. I'm going to pick a few random commenters and give out a prize.

While you're waiting for winners to be announced, you might want to make this cake. You can make it for someone's birthday, or you can invent a birthday, as the cake is that good, you might not want to wait for a special occasion. Marmo made this for Easter Sunday, and we all had to restrain ourselves from diving face-first into it.

This recipe is from Naples at Table by Arthur Schwartz.

What You Need:

Serves 12

12 oz of almonds finely ground

6 eggs, separated

6 tablespoons sugar

8 oz of bittersweet chocolate

2 sticks of butter

10 tablespoons sugar

¼ cup sugar

What To Do: 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and butter and flour a 10 inch springform pan.  Line the bottom with wax paper or parchment paper.  Butter and flour the lining.

In a food processor grind the almonds in 3 batches pulsing each with 2 T sugar for a total of 6 T of sugar.  Set aside.

In a double boiler melt the chocolate and butter together.

In a mixing bowl beat the egg yolks until lemon colored and then gradually beat in the 10 T sugar.

Add the melted chocolate and butter to the egg yolks.  Stir to mix and fold in the ground almonds and stir will.

In a clean bowl beat the egg whites with the ¼ c of sugar until they are stiff.  The fold the egg whites into the chocolate batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake on a cookie sheet for 90 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool for 15 minutes and remove the sides  from the springform pan.

When the cake has cooked turn it upside down onto a serving plate and dust with confectioners sugar.


Fraudulent Clam Chowder from The Box!

Yesterday was Father's Day. Traditionally for Father's Day I use Photoshop to cobble together some random and ridiculous card for The Box. Past cards have featured The Box at DaVinci's Last Supper table, on the cover of Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince, etc. This year we have a blog. I can embarrass him publicly, so that is exactly what I am doing.

The above photo shows The Box back in the day, when he was a strapping life guard in Long Beach Island. Those were the days, huh, Box? Notice he is the one on the life guard chair WITHOUT the girls. Just sayin'.

Speaking of Long Beach Island, as a family we have been lucky enough to enjoy a summer house there. In our detached garage lives a permanent resident - the beer pong table that John rescued many summers ago. The Box and I are a pong team. Despite his size, The Box is a lightweight when it comes to beer injestion. He gets a little silly after 5 or so games, and need a life preserver. And a nap (Above photo: Exhibit A).

Exhibit B: Beer + silliness = funny hat. And yes, i bought him that t-shirt.

When he is not playing beer pong, napping or flexing his muscles (he still does this even sans life guard chair), The Box enjoys playing tricks. Mostly on me. One such trick involved food. You can joke with me about a lot of things. Not food. Just don't do it. Are we clear?

But let's let The Box explain in his own words:

Ardent followers of this blog have certainly noticed the outstanding artwork; fantastic photography; and recipe detail that regularly appear. Elana is the responsible party.

Indeed, unique drive and focus, combined with an “I wanted it yesterday” patience level have always characterized Elana. The image I have is of a much better looking cross between General George Patton and Hannibal Lecter.

Thus, as you may imagine, Elana can be difficult to please (or to fool).

Keeping the aforementioned personal characteristics in mind, some years ago I made an irresponsible promise to make Elana my all-world homemade New England clam chowder. Mind you, this promise was made by someone (me) who rarely cooks anything, let alone, a soup containing a number of cooked ingredients. Of course, this did not stop me from assuring Elana that the homemade New England chowder would be the best that she ever had.

The great day came and Elana arrived home to find a bubbling pot of New England clam chowder awaiting her. She devoured two bowls of the chowder amidst much lip-smacking, followed by effusive compliments on my culinary skills. Parenthetically, I am seldom used to receiving such compliments from my daughter, who is more likely to anoint me with such comments as “…my g.p.a. in college was three times yours…”.

Compliments bestowed on me continued, unabated, until later that evening when, much to my chagrin, she found several cans of Campbell’s Chunky Style New England Clam Chowder in the garbage. At that point, all of the praise turned to scorn and abuse.

Notwithstanding, in her lighter moments (which occur somewhat less frequently than the Leonid Meteor Shower) Elana will acknowledge that the chowder was some of the best she has ever had. Hence, the “recipe”.

Fraudulent New England Clam Chowder Cobbled Together by The Box

Start with four cans of Campbell’s Chunky Style New England Clam Chowder. For me, each can equals one large (bowl) serving.

Open (4) cans (a must) and pour contents into a large saucepan.

Start heating at low heat.

Add four teaspoons of butter and allow to melt. Stir frequently.

Toss in two peeled garlic cloves.

Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Add one quarter diced Vidalia onion.

Add a can of diced/chopped clams. Make sure to drain off the juice first.

Continue to simmer for about fifteen minutes following which your chowder is ready to serve.

Campbell’s is my favorite because it is the thickest New England style mass-market chowder that I have found and good New England chowder should be thick.

Trust me, people, this will be good. Just remember, if you intend to pass this off as your own creation, make sure you secretly dispose of the empty soup cans.

Happy Father's Day, Box! Love General Patton/Hannibal Lecter and the other one (John).