Category Archives: Sides

Sunday Dinner – Cocoa and Spice Slow-Roasted Pork with Onions (and some sides)

Music: On Melancholy Hill – Gorillaz

We held our annual Holiday party this last weekend.  The usual suspects attended with some new additions.  Next year I’m going to need more chairs! (or a bigger apartment?).  I spent some time with older Bon Appetit magazines and created a really lovely meal.   We made Cocoa and Spice Slow-Roasted Pork with Onions, Green beans with Pancetta and a Mushroom Potato Gratin.

What you’ll need for the spice rub:

1/2 tablespoon whole white peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
2 tablespoons plus 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons coarse sea salt (preferably gray crystals
1 tablespoon plus 2 1/4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Stir peppercorns and coriander in small skillet over medium heat until spices are darker in color, about 5 minutes.

  • Transfer toasted spices to mortar and pestle and grind finely.

  • Place in small bowl; mix in remaining ingredients.

  • This can be made 1 week ahead.

What you’ll need for the Pork:

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds onions plus 2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 cup of  water
1 7-pound pork shoulder butt with bone
  • Preheat oven to 300°F.
  • Heat oil in large pot over medium heat.
  • Add onions and sage; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté 10 minutes.

  • Add water; cover and cook until onions are soft, about 15 minutes.
  • Uncover; continue to cook until onions are beginning to brown and water has evaporated, about 15 minutes.

  • Sprinkle spice rub on large sheet of foil. Roll pork in rub, pressing to coat (some of rub will be leftover). Set pork on rack in large roasting pan.

  • Top pork with 1/3 of onions; scatter remaining onions around pork in pan.

  • Roast pork and onions until onions are deep brown, stirring occasionally, about 3 hours.
  • Transfer onions from pan to medium bowl.
  • Flip pork and continue to roast pork until very tender and thermometer inserted into center registers 165°F, about 2 1/2 hours longer.

  • Transfer pork to platter. Keep onions aside and add to green beans.

Green Beans with Sage and Pancetta

What you’ll need:
2 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed
10 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh sage
Fleur de sel
  • Line baking sheet with several layers of paper towels.
  • Cook beans in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes depending on size of beans. Drain.
  • Spread beans out on paper towels.
  • Cut pancetta into small cubes.

  • Combine pancetta and 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet. Sauté over medium heat until pancetta is crisp, separating pieces with 2 forks, about 10 minutes.
  • Add sage and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to plate.
  • Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add beans and sauté until heated through, about 5 minutes.
  • Add pancetta mixture and toss to blend. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. Transfer to large bowl.


Potato-Mushroom Gratin

What you’ll need for the Gratin:
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 1/2 pounds medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt plus additional for mushrooms
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus additional for mushrooms
1 1/4 cups (or more) heavy whipping cream, divided
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces), divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
12 ounces fresh crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Brush 13x9x2-inch glass or oval ceramic baking dish with 2 tablespoons oil.
  • Cut potatoes into 1/8″ pieces.
  • Arrange 1/3 of potatoes, slightly overlapping, in dish.
  • Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pour 1/3 cup cream over; sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat layering 1/3 of     potatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/3 cup cream, and 1/4 cup cheese 2 more times.
  • Bake uncovered until potatoes are tender, adding cream by tablespoonfuls if dry, about 45 minutes.
  • Remove from oven; maintain oven temperature.
  • Sprinkle thyme and garlic slices over gratin.
  • Toss mushrooms in medium bowl with 3 tablespoons oil; sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper.
  • Arrange mushroom slices atop gratin around edge of dish.
  • Drizzle with 1/4 cup cream; sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese.
  • Continue to bake uncovered until mushrooms are tender and potato edges are golden brown, about 20 minutes longer.
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    Filed under cookbooks, Food Anecdotes, Pork, Recipes, Sides, Sunday Dinner

    Baked Long Island Clams

    Music: Acid Tongue – Jenny Lewis

    Growing up on the Great South Bay of Long Island, nothing defined my childhood more than the beach, the boat and the waterways of my home.  In the summers when I was young one of my favorite culinary adventures was to go clamming with my cousin off Squaw Island.  For anyone who does not know what Squaw Island is, well it is essentially a little mound of earth that is only visible during low tide about a ten-minute ride southwest from the Amityville Cut just past Snake Channel.  For anyone who doesn’t know where Snake Channel is, well it’s just west of the Tobay Beach marina.  Hang a right at The Four Corners and…OK, none of you know where any of this is but I can attest that is some of the most beautiful stretches of local beaches, marshes and bay I have ever seen.

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    Filed under Appetizer, cookbooks, Fish, Food Anecdotes, How to..., Recipes, Sides, Travel Spot

    Lobster Rolls!

    Music: Driftwood – Travis

    This past weekend we threw a lovely soiree for my dear friends Trina and Ji Young.  We spent the weekend at Molly’s family beach house on Long Beach Island and celebrated the passing of 3 decades. And Brooklyn Plated catered it!  We served some old standby’s like crab cakes and polenta fries (pictures at bottom).  I also made a variation of a good old fashion New England lobster roll recipe and combined it with something from Thomas Keller.  What we got was magic. We served the lobster rolls along side some corn on the cob and cole slaw.

    I grew up in CT.  In CT they serve lobster rolls hot and with butter (Lenny and Joe’s Fish Tale in Madison is where we usually go for this – also if someone can find and send me a picture of one of their old school tee-shirts, I’ll make it worth you’re while…not quite sure how but I will).  Everywhere else in New England they serve lobster rolls cold and with mayo! Imagine the horror on my first trip to Maine way back in the summer of 1992 when I was served a cold, wet lobster roll…to be honest, I never grew to like it, not even after many trips north in the passing years.  It wasn’t until a recent trip to The Brooklyn Flea where I ate a Maine-style lobster roll from the Red Hook Lobster Pound that I was converted.

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    Filed under Appetizer, Brooklyn Places, Fish, Food Anecdotes, How to..., Polenta, Recipes, Sides, Sunday Dinner, Travel Spot

    Shaking Beef and Seasame Asparagus

    I couldn’t help myself, I had to recreate the Shaking Beef from The Slanted Door…even though it wasn’t a great meal.  I was shocked when I googled “shaking beef” and Charles Phan’s recipe showed up in epicurious.  I paired it with some Jasmine rice and a nice asparagus dish. It came out SO well and will absolutely suffice when I have a hankering for The Slanted Door. I had to alter a few things due to what wasn’t in my cabinets but this is what I did:

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    Filed under Meats, Recipes, Sauces, Sides

    AND we’re back….

    Hi there. Been awhile. How’ve you been?

    We took a couple days to recover from our eating frenzy in SF but we’re happy to be cooking and back on track.  I don’t have a recipe for you today but I have some lovely food pictures of the weekend we spent in the Hamptons with our great friends.  Happy Birthday Melissa!

    About 20 of us rented a mansion for a Big Chill-esque weekend (I’ve never seen this movie but apparently someone dies, hence the get-together…thankfully that wasn’t the case for us but because of the storm, this house was the perfect setting for a horror film so there was the potential for a kinda “big chill” on our hands…).  We had a BBQ/Pot-Luck Thanksgiving Dinner on Friday night. Saturday night  The Clam Man of Southampton came to the house and created a good ol’ fashioned clam bake for us complete with oysters, lobsters, steamers, mussels and baked potatoes.

    The best thing to do with a group of late 20 somethings/early 30 somethings (besides totally age yourself in your own blog)? Flip cup, charades, Jenga and Beatles Rock Band.  Man, I’m really setting us up for some gore.

    An unreal baked potato cheese thing - who made this??? I can't remember...


    Pork Tenderloin

    Pre-Mashed Cauliflower

    Sweet Potato Casserole

    Baked by Melissa Mini Cupcakes

    Clam Bake


    Mussles n' Stuff


    Filed under Fish, Food Anecdotes, General Rantings, Pork, Sides, Sunday Dinner, Travel Spot

    San Francisco – Day 4

    A little overcast today but to be expected.

    First stop:

    The Pork Store Cafe

    1451 Haight St
    (between Ashbury St & Masonic Ave)
    San Francisco, CA 94117

    (415) 864-6981

    There really is no place on earth like The Haight, even at 9 AM on a Friday.  I’m never surprised by what and who I find lurking around there. What I am always surprised by is how much I love The Pork Store.  For a place where your elbows stick to the tables, it sure has a lot of history and some serious breakfast eats.  James had the Huevos Rancheros and I had the Piggy Special with 2 eggs, 2 pancakes and bacon. And don’t forget the biscuits.

    Second Stop:

    Naan N’ Chutney

    525 Haight Street

    San Francisco, CA 94117-3445

    (415) 255-1625

    This place is a prime example of why you should not judge a book by its cover.  I used to live on Fillmore and Page and there are MANY Indian restaurants in this neighborhood, including one of the best rated in the city (Indian Oven).  I’ve tried them all and found that Naan n’ Chutney was, by far, my favorite.   Not to mention the least expensive! We ordered the lunch portion of Chicken Tikka Masala and Daal with Naan.

    Third Stop:

    Café du Soliel

    200 Fillmore St
    San Francisco, CA 94102

    (415) 934-8637

    I owe this place a lot. I spent most of my time here as I wrote my MA thesis…so it was only fair, for the memory’s sake to at least stop in for a cup of coffee. I mention it because they actually have tremendous open-faced sandwiches.  You can settle in and, for just the charge of an overpriced super-caffeinated cup of coffee, spend the whole afternoon.  It also has some outdoor seating and always seems to be sunny in this little corner…unlike the rest of this particularly chilly neighborhood. Gotta love micro-climates! Also, that’s a picture of our Mustang in front of my old apartment…in case you were wondering.

    Forth Stop:

    Chez Panisse

    1517 Shattuck Ave
    Berkeley, CA 94709
    (510) 548-5049

    Chez Panisse is Alice Waters’ masterpiece. This was the night of Alice (after the meal we went to see “Alice in Wonderland”).  This is a wonderland of experiences (see what I did there?)…it never disappoints, even for the simplest of dishes.  This was a particularly special night as we were celebrating my friend Ashley’s birthday.  Her boyfriend Alex has an exceptional knowledge of wine (it is also his job) and I was surprised to discover you can bring your own bottles (for a corkage fee). Without fear of hyperbole, this was the best meal yet.  The service was exceptional.  The food was unfussy but standout, highlighting pairings and preparations. The key idea being slow food here.  We shared a bunch of appetizers and then our own dinners.

    We started with a bottle of Bollinger RD Champagne from 1985.  The color was extraordinary, although you can’t tell from the pictures; a golden honey color that I’ve not seen on a champagne before. After the first course he opened a bottle of 1980 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Pauillac (Bordeaux).  I’m not sure we’ve ever drank anything that old or ever will again.  It was quite an experience and I had to share because we felt so fancy.  Not to mention some probably the best wine I’ve ever tasted.

    First Course:

    • Hog Island Sweetwater oysters
    • Pizzetta with leeks, Lucques olives and fontina

    • Bellweather Farm sheep’s milk ricotta and prosciutto with grilled chicories


    • Sunchoke Pudding souffle with celery root, wild mushrooms and creme fraiche

    Main Course:

    • Soul Food Farm chicken al mattone (under a brick) with butternut squash gratin, kale, cardoons and capers

    • Grilled Elliot Ranch lamb leg, loin and chop with fried shoestring potatoes, turnips and black olives


    • Bittersweet Chocolate pave with caramel creme

    • Kaki Farm blood orange sherbet and blood orange ice cream


    Filed under Appetizer, Chicken, Food Anecdotes, Review, San Francisco, Sides, Travel Spot

    Vegan (sorta) Feast for The Astral Crew

    Music: Celia Cruz – Ritmo, Tambó y Flores

    Some of my best memories of NY come from a wobegone time (5 years ago) when I would visit James and his old roommate Greg at their apartment in Greenpoint.  I was much younger then and Greenpoint was only just simmering with the young folk.  They lived in a beautiful building called The Astral. The Astral was built in 1875 as a residence for the Astral oil workers (Pratt Institute was built by the same architects).  (Speaking of oil, Greenpoint was affected by the largest domestic oil spill in the history of the United States – starting with a leakage from the refineries in the 1950’s,  it wasn’t discovered how massive the spill was until the 1970’s when the Coast Guard observed an oil streak up river into Queens)

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    Filed under Appetizer, Brooklyn Places, Butternut Squash, Cheese, Food Anecdotes, Sides