Mussels, one of my many faves (me cooking!)

26 10 2009

When I see myself on film, I kind of feel the way I do when I hear Frank Sinatra and Bono’s duet of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin:” embarrassed. Unlike white wine and mussels, some things just don’t belong together.

This summer my fabulous filmaking friend Johnny made a cooking video this summer. It was RIDONKULOUSLY fun. You can get a sense of that I think. But yeah, if you want my tips for making mussels. Check me out on da intanetz!

Let me know what you think!

Here’s the recipe:

1 tb. olive oil

1 tb. butter

1 lb. mussels, washed and scrubbed, open or broken ones removed

1 onion, chopped (any kind is OK, shallots work too)

1 bunch of green onions, chives or garlic chives

3 or 4 cloves of garlic, chopped fine

1 cup of your favorite white wine

a handful of parsley (chopped)

1/2 tb. or more red pepper flakes (optional)

2-3 slices of lemon or lime (optional)

Heat up some olive oil in a large pot and add onions and garlic when hot. When they begin to sweat and become transparent (about 3 min in a hot pot). Add green onions. About 1 minute later add the wine and allow it to reduce a bit. If using lemons add them now along with the red pepper flakes. A minute or two later add the mussels and parsley, put the lid on and let cook for 3 minutes. Take lid off and stir. If most of your mussels are open at this point they can just get another minute or so. Otherwise give them another three minutes with the lid on. Serve mussels in bowl with broth and good bread.


ROM Outing- Agnanti

7 04 2009

A very overdue post about a restaurant we went to a while back as part of a ROM outing. Agnanti was Katie’s pick, a Greek place in Queens she’d heard a bit about. Since foodie New Yorkers who don’t live in Queens usually feel guilty about not going to all those fabulous places in Queens we hear about (because c’mon IT’S QUEENS), it seemed like a good opportunity to pay a visit to our friends across the river.

Be sure to get the Retsina

Be sure to get the Retsina

Agnanti is not exactly easily accessible via subway. After taking the train out there we walked . . . and walked along Ditmars passing Queens gals on the town in various states of (un)dress. During this journey off a main drag and into increasingly residential ground there was talk of taking a shot before dinner. Regrettably we did not make good on this. It might have been nice to enter a little buzzed since, despite our reservation, they seemed a little overwhelmed by our party of 9 . . . that we’d made reservations for. But we’re a close group, I suppose, and were happy to get a (a lot) closer.

A nice thing about this place is that for $27 per person we were able to do a family style dinner that allowed us to get a taste of a lot of different things. It comes with a platter of mixed appetizers and entrees plus a “kilo” of wine for every four guests. When I checked out Citysearch reviews on this place (after our visit) I saw that many people complained about the wine being overpriced. We ordered retsina which is a Greek white wine with a scent of pine. It may sound strange but it’s really quite delicious and goes with the food nicely. I think this is the only way to go. Said kilos were served in bizarre tin steins that would be Viking-esque were they not light and flimsy.¬† This, however, did not seem to affect the retsina, as we put away enough to confirm this.

The family style menu comes with a mix of hot and cold appetizers and some salads followed by a mixed grill platter. It also suffered from an affliction which, unfortunately, a recent spate of ROM restaurants have manifested: great appetizers, mediocre entrees. The various salads were excellent as was the warm bread it was served with. There was a plentiful number of things to dip bread in and both the hot and cold appetizers represented Queens like Tribe Called Quest in the 90s. There were all sorts of warm and yummy breaded and fried things and, again, the steins of retsina were going down so nicely. Sadly, when the entrees finally made an appearance, they were quite anticlimactic: a variety of meats cooked past the point of dryness. There was pork, chicken and beef. The pork was the best of the three though still notably dry. The chicken was a’ight and the beef came in little burgers, while it was well seasoned, an argument ensued as to whether it was beef or lamb since it was cooked beyond recognition. The desert,- a fruit and cake-y concoction was unremarkable. I kept coming back for more thinking I would like it better. Since it was winter, perhaps it is more tasty when fresh fruit is more seasonable.

If a person were to venture out to Agnanti, I would argue that the visit would not be complete without a couple of whiskeys at Hellgate on the Park, a bar (and, apparently, an Italian restaurant . . . but only on some nights) that I found precious few words about on the web . . . and nothing worth linking to. But it exists! Barely though. On that cold and dark Tuesday in the dead of winter we were¬† the only ones there. We got to know our bartender Joey quite well! His name is memorable since we too had a Joey among us . . . imagine that! Despite his terrible taste in music (born in the Q borough, raised in LI, he can be forgiven) he was lovely! He let us dominate the place obnoxiously, did shots with us, cut us a deal AND drove us home. Now that’s service. Some among us were reasonably nervous about jumping in the car with a strange bartender we’d just done shots with, but since there was a large man among us, it seemed safe enough and soon we were careening through midtown screaming along to Bon Jovi (well, at least I was).

So, Agnanti, not the worst place you could go and has a bit of charm to it, but I wouldn’t go out of my way. I’ll leave ya with a photo of the Hellgate bridge which, apparently, exists.

Almost 30 years in the dirty city & I'm just finding out about it. Who knew?

Almost 30 years in the dirty city & I'm just finding out about it. Who knew?

What to do with open wine?

22 01 2009

Besides drink it of course. Sometimes you open that bottle that didn’t turn out quite like you expected and finishing it becomes an exercise in masochism. Or perhaps you’re home alone and you’re afraid one more glass will nudge you towards emailing exes.

Taking a whole bottle to the dome!

Takin a bottle to the dome!

In any case, once you put that bad boy in the fridge (and you MUST if you want to slow down the oxidization process) it probably won’t be nearly as good the next day. So the easy answer is to cook with it. In my family we often put wines in stews and tomato sauces, anywhere from 1/4-1/2 a cup and give it a good boil to burn the alcohol off. If it’s white wine use if for risotto (the wine should just cover the rice after it’s been fried in butter) or mussels (and throw in an onion, some parsley a couple lemon slices and red pepper flakes. BAM! Instant meal . . . oops, didn’t mean to channel Emeril there). You can also use reds for risottos but because it throws the color off it works best if you’re making beet (gorgeous & delicious) or carrot risotto. More about those later.

If you’re like me & you have a tiny fridge, you can’t be havin half-open bottles using up valuble real estate in the ol’ cooler. Here’s a solution: pour your wine into an ice cube tray and freeze it. When it’s done put them in a zip lock baggie in your freezer and any time you’re making a soup or stew, throw a couple in.

And if you're cooking with Boones, this is what it will look like! (please don't)

And if you're cooking with Night Train, this is what it will look like! (please don't)

In these hard times, we can’t be pouring wine down the drain. Make something tasty!