Friday Favorites

Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:


Not much cuter than a toddler holding hands on a walk.  Except maybe when said toddler voluntarily reaches up to hold his Aunt Kelly’s hand during said walk.   That’s so cute it’s stupid.  We enjoyed a wonderful visit with the most adorable red-headed nephew on the planet and his parents in Brooklyn last weekend.  Highlights (just to name a few) included an amazing dinner at Perilla in Manhattan (spicy duck meatballs are a must), a fun and fascinating trip to Governor’s Island, a leisurely delicious brunch at Prime Meats, spending time with Dan’s brother and his lovely wife, and watching our nephew have entire babbling conversations to no one on his toy cell phone (among other extremely endearing things he does.)  We don’t live nearly close enough to our extended families, so it is always worth the trip to go see them, and always sad when it’s time to part ways.  So hugs, backwards toddler waves and *muah* air kisses to all our family members — we miss you guys!

Another highlight from our trip that deserves separate mention is the chicken sandwich at Van Horn Sandwich Shop.  If you ever find yourself in or near the Cobble Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn and you like fried chicken the slightest bit, you must try one of these sandwiches.  Stunningly simple — just a giant piece of perfectly fried chicken topped with a few shreds of coleslaw and placed between a toasty but soft sesame bun, with (very) spicy sauce and housemade pickle on the side — it may be the best chicken sandwich we’ve ever had.  Dan’s brother worried that he had over-hyped it, but once we tried it, we were more than sold.  I want another one right now.

Back at home, we commemorated our trip to Brooklyn with a pizza from our local Grimaldi’s.  The most famous Grimaldi’s is located under the Brooklyn Bridge and is a popular tourist attraction, in addition to serving outstanding pizza (supposedly the secrets are coal-fired brick ovens and something special about New York water.)  Lucky for us (and you if you live in certain areas of Arizona, Florida, Nevada, South Carolina and Texas), there are sister restaurants around the country that also use the signature brick ovens, have custom water systems and attempt to stay as true to the original as possible.  If you like New York-style thin crust pizza, Grimaldi’s is among the best.  And their meatball pizza is among our favorites — crispy thin crust topped with red sauce, mozzarella and wafer-thin slices of meatball.

Sometimes something so simple as decreeing Thursday to be Taco Night is enough to brighten up the whole week.  We used this recipe and were quite pleased with the results — well-seasoned beefy flavor with a hint of tomato and just the right amount of spice.  As good as they taste, these tacos are surprisingly easy to make and well worth the (minimal) extra effort to elevate them beyond the store-bought packet of taco seasoning to the level of Thursday Taco Night.

Seafood Paella (on the grill)

We’ve previously made a couple of different kinds of paella (a version with chicken, sausage and seafood, as well as one made with leftover turkey), using the stove-top method of cooking.  After a lovely dinner party at a friend’s house several weeks ago (thanks Sally!), we were inspired to try an all-seafood paella cooked on the grill instead of the stove.  One of the reasons for cooking this dish on the grill is that the heat will be more evenly distributed across the entire pan and its contents.  Generally, paella pans are wider than the size of the typical stove burner, so the ingredients in the center will cook a little faster than the outer edges.  No big deal, since the proteins cook in the center and the outer edges are mostly rice, but authentic paella should ideally have a crispy layer of caramelized rice along the bottom and sides called “socarrat.”   (We have yet to perfect the socarrat, but cooking the paella on the grill gives us a better shot at doing so.  And the paella is still delicious even without that crispy layer.)  Grilling the paella or using a paella pan is by no means required — in our humble opinion, the only true requirements for paella are rice and saffron — so feel free to make do with whatever other ingredients you prefer and means you have available.  This version is simply our take on the recipe from this article, using the seafood we like and a few techniques borrowed from other recipes.  No matter the protein (although beef might be a bit strange) or cooking method used, it doesn’t get much better than a big pan of flavorful, saffron-infused rice cooked in a rich broth along with sweet and savory protein, red peppers and other veggies that add a bit of bite.

Continue reading “Seafood Paella (on the grill)”

Friday Favorites

Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:

We had a much-needed rainstorm — the weirdly awesome kind where it rained hard while the sun was still shining — that resulted in temperatures cool enough to eat dinner outside (a very rare treat this time of year) and enjoy a beautiful sunset.

This summer we have had our most successful tomato crop ever.  We eat tomatoes with almost every meal, including breakfast.  One of our go-to favorite morning meals is a couple of hard-boiled eggs, some sliced tomatoes and a few triscuits topped with cream cheese.

There is a sports-field complex within walking distance of our house where we can watch the annual “Kaboom Town” fireworks, albeit from pretty far away.  The distance dampens some of the spectacle to be sure, but avoiding the traffic and parking debacle is a worthy trade-off.  As is being able to bring your own portable chairs and glasses of wine.

Our pool has not yet reached bath-water temps and is still cool enough for a refreshing dip.

Check out the video below about how to cut a hot dog into a spiral shape prior to grilling.  Cutting the dogs is not quite as easy as it looks and ours didn’t turn out nearly as pretty as the ones in the video.  But the technique really does make for a more delicious hot dog.  Dan loves it when science and cooking come together to improve a meal.




Refrigerator Pickles

Something about “refrigerator pickles” says “summer” to us.  Maybe it’s the name — “refrigerator” makes one think of grabbing a cool, crisp snack out of the fridge on a hot day.  Or perhaps it’s because pickles go so well with summertime foods like hot dogs and hamburgers, consumed at backyard barbeques and gatherings. Could be because cucumbers are in season this time of year (our cucumber plants WERE at least, until they succumbed to the heat.) Whatever the reason, we’ve already made several batches of refrigerator pickles this summer, and they could not be easier or more delicious. All you need are cucumbers (small, pickling cucumbers work best), garlic, peppercorns, dill, white vinegar, water, salt and sugar. And patience to wait about 4 days for the ingredients to pickle. Continue reading “Refrigerator Pickles”