10 Min Din

31 07 2009

I was leaving the office when the sky decided to throw up on me. Amazingly, I was able to get a cab (sometimes a girl’s gotta live a little) and as the cabbie made his slow way throw the wall of rain I realized that we didn’t have much food at home for dinner. I had him stop at Russo’s, this little Italian food store near my apartment. Don’t be fooled by the ignorant reviewers: I’m sure it beats your suburban strip mall and while it’ll do in a pinch  it ain’t no second coming: it’s pricey! I feel like people give it extra props for being near the tragically overrated Venieros. Plus, while their fresh mozzarella is good, their so-called “fresh” pasta is actually frozen. Having said that, I do like having this place around for things like last-minute ravioli (as tonight) and perhaps some tomato paste in a tube (lasts forever!) which can be hard to find.

Useful but not the second coming of Christ

Useful but not the second coming of Christ

I got some sun-dried tomato & cheese ravioli (’bout 6 bucks) which comes with 12 ravioli but is so rich that it works for three small servings. I got half a pound of fresh moz which was like 3 or 4 bucks and inquired after the sun-dried tomatoes since I was fixin’ to make mini pizzas and realized that while I had flatbread at home I had no tomatoes nor any other veggies to cut through the rich mozzarella. They were $10 a pound. GOOD LORD! But then I figured a little would go a long way. I clocked in at a total of $12 and made my way home not wanting to slave too long in front of a hot stove in my tiny kitchen. I was scheming on tossing the ravioli in some pesto I had at home [pesto recipe: 2 cups basil leaves, 1/2 cup good olive oil, handful walnuts, salt, blended with an immersion blender, add Parmesan cheese when using so it has a longer life in the fridge]. It would have been nice with a salad but sometimes in life, we don’t have veggies and sometimes, during such moments, you find yourself in the middle of a monsoon. Also I was hoping that the pita-like bread I’d bought last week, and the basil from my CSA pickup two weeks ago wasn’t too far gone to use. Lucky me! I mean, the bread sell-by date was far gone but it looked OK, nothing a little toasting couldn’t fix. And I was astounded to see that my basil had held on. Storing Basil: My mom taught me a trick for preserving fresh herbs that really works: clip the bottoms like you would flowers, wrap the stems in a moist paper towel and then put them in bag in the fridge- leave a little room for air, if it’s in a ziplock, leave it open a bit. See photo:

chillin in my kitchen

chillin in my kitchen

So I got my water boiling and my oven preheating at 450 and got to work. Realizing this dinner was going to be vegetarian, and knowing that hubby feels a vegetarian dinner is an exotic form of torture, I defrosted some pork belly we had in the freezer (uncured bacon essentially) figuring I’d get creative with it. So I threw it in a pan & let it get crispy. In the meantime I put together the mini pizzas. It’s probably important to note that the bread I used was Greek flatbread-  basically pita without the pocket [mini pizza recipe: pocketless flatbread,  thick slices of fresh mozzarella, sundried tomatoes in oil (nice, fresh tomatos (cherry!) work even better), red pepper flakes, salt, handful fresh basil torn by hand, olive oil, put four slices of cheese per flatbread and four tomatoes per pita, a sprinkle of salt, a sprinkle of red pepper, cook at 450 for 10 min, sprinkle torn basil when removing hot pizza from oven. ] I don’t like regular pita for pizza. Not only is it too thick, they’re something about that supermarket pita flavor that just doesn’t work for pizza.
While the pizza was cooking, I dropped the ravioli in boiling salted water. Meanwhile, I put a tablespoon of pesto into a non-stick pan and when the ravioli floated to the top (it’s done) I used a slotted spoon to remove them & tossed them around in the pan, I added a handful of grated mozzarella and about four or so tablespoons of the water I cooked the pasta in & gently swirled it all around, careful not to tear the raviolis. It should not be soupy or too oily just saucy (like yours true!). And with that, my dinner was done. For hub’s piggy version, I poured the oil off of the pan with the crispy pork belly & added a heaping tablespoon of pesto. I did the same thing as I did for my ravioli, tossing the pesto, ravioli, some cheese, pasta water and pork belly together.
voy-la!
voy-la!
The ravioli con puerco was a little rich for my taste though hubz seemed to dig it. I’d recommend it for those who really dig on the pig & the cheese. The pizza came out good too! The pocketless pita made a nice & crispy crust with no indication that it was on it’s way out only minutes before and the basil added a nice freshness to the cheesy fiesta. Basil goes on really nice at the end where the cheese will cook it a tad but it’s still full of flavor.
Some of us are still figuring out our camera

Some of us are still figuring out our camera

The oven preheat & water boiling time may have added on a few minutes (as did the sink full of dishes I had to wash before I began) but this was a truly quick, not so messy & lotta tasty dinner. Sometimes you don’t need to be fancy to eat fancy.




ROM Outing- Sigiri

24 04 2009

In economic times like these a thrifty lady really must have a couple of good BYOB places up here sleeve. Sigiri is certainly one of these.

In our happy world of ROM we busy friends get together, catch up, shoot the breeze and get old fashioned drizzzunk. But we’re not without our inner strife. The choice of Sri Lankan cuisine turned out to be surprisingly controversial. A ROMer(who shall remain anonymous) and fancies him/herself a person of the world, connoisseur of foods and goods produced by the world’s great cultures put his/her lavender-suede shod foot down and refused to partake: something about unpalatable aromas I believe. A rift ensued. Happily, full-on civil war was avoided when the Sri hater had to leave town so a smaller than usual contingent headed to 1st & 6th to find out what Sri Lankan cuisine is all about.

Get some Kingfishers downstairs & bring 'em on up!

Get some Kingfishers downstairs & bring 'em on up!

Around the corner from what used to be called “Curry Row” (6th Street between 1st & 2nd Ave.) but is looking markedly less curry these days, Sigiri is a flight of stairs up from street level. Conveniently it is located above a deli that has an impressive array of international beers including microbrews and a badass selection of Indian beers which would pair excellently with some of the spicy and fried offerings available at Sigiri. Don’t expect a fancy interior. Small and narrow, except for a nice window table it’s pretty cramped. We’re talking about brushing-up-against-waitstaff-on-the-way-to-the-bathroom cramped.  Don’t go with anyone with whom unintentional footsie would be awkward.

Tip: bring stuff that bubbles. Sigiri is a great place for people who likes a spice. Among the B that we brought there was a prosecco and some beer, these cut through the oil and spice of the appetizer sampler nicely. This platter featured an array of fried things that were difficult to distinguish but were quite delicious. With a crispy outside and a nice heat to it, the fish spring role was my favorite. The Gothamba roti was an unmistakable hit as well. The outside was crepe-like and delightfully chewy, the inside featured a sturdy combo of spicy veggies, heavy on potatoes with or without beef. I liked the veggie one better. It’s substantial and ripe for sharing.

The service was lovely. While not super prompt, our party arrived piecemeal and it was not easy to see when we were ready to order. Our waitress, who had a touch of what sounded like a London accent, caused one diner to say, “Yo, she’s like MIA she’ll kick your ass!” although nothing about her demeanor indicated that she was considering such a thing. The entrees require a bit of navigation. Due to the relatively spicy nature of Sri Lankan food, Sigiri offers different levels of heat for many of their entrees. The curry chicken at “medium” level was just right with a kick that complemented the coconut milk in the sauce. Meanwhile, the “very spicy” prawn curry was all heat and salt with little room to distinguish the flavors. The Sri Lankan stew is a hearty mix of vegetables in coconut sauce. While it had a nice flavor it was heavy and the beef inside proved dry: it is not the kind of dish you want to let get cold since it tends to congeal. Meanwhile, the simply prepared Sri Lankan vegetable (it was lotus root that night) was well prepared with just the right amount of coconut and for $7 is one of the best dinner deals for veggies. The Kotthu Roti was a unique dish featuring a shreaded roti (the chewy crepe mentioned before) stir fried with vegetables and meat and served heaped in a ball. It comes with a spicy (or not) broth to spoon on top. After a coupla drinks it seemed like a good idea to ladle the coconut beef stew on top. It was.

Kotthu Roti, touted as a "Sri-Lankan side-street specialty" on the menu. Wonder what the main-street specialties are?

Kotthu Roti, touted as a "Sri-Lankan side-street specialty" on the menu. Wonder what the main-street specialties are?

Sigiri is small enough that it’s a great place for two old friends to catch up and eat and drink cheap. It’s also good to come with a big group and order everything on the menu so you can sample it all and not worry about cardiac arrest when the check comes . . .  unless it’s from the stew. It’s nice to be fancy once in a while. But it’s also nice rock out without breaking the bank.