I don’t really remember when I first heard of the book Jerusalem, or the book Plenty, or the author, or even the restaurant Ottolenghi. All I knew is that I wanted those books. I added them to my wish list on Amazon and then soon […]
Best Fall Dinners: Simple Grilled Pork Chops With Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Creamy Parsnip Mash, and Grilled Cipollini Onions
This meal..inspired by onions. Not just any onion, cipollini onions (pronounced chee-poh-leen-ee). These little spaceship shaped roots are full of flavor and hale from Italy. They are known in Italy as agrodolce which translates literally to “bitter-sweet”. They are often found peeled of their thin […]
Usually the farmers market, a culinary magazine pic, or rando food network show will inspire a food post for me….but not this time. This time it was BOGO dried fruit at my local Publix grocery store. If you’re not familiar with BuyOneGetOne then you are […]
Italian food has always been and will probably always be my favorite cuisine to make. I’m sure living in Sicily for three years gave me a certain affinity towards not only the culture, but the food as well. Much of the food is prepared quite simply with few ingredients. But the ingredients share one commonality. Freshness.
Unlike Americans, you’ll typically see Europeans at the market daily. It’s not uncommon for them to purchase the groceries that they need for only that day, and perhaps for breakfast the following day. Even then, in the small town I lived, most Sicilians stopped at their local cafe for a caffè (coffee) and a pastry for breakfast each morning.
I lived above a little woman named Nuncia in the small town Piano Tavola, which was about 20 minutes from Catania. Catania is a beautiful ancient city sitting at the foot of Mt. Etna, an active volcano. It’s the second largest city on the island (Palermo being the first) and is rich in history and culture. Besides having the best view of the volcano, the town is full of things to see and do.
Several castles still stand on the island and the Ursino Castle is open to tourists to view from the inside. The Piazza Del Duomo is the main square in Catania filled with shops and resturants. This is also where you’ll find the market, which is open stalls of any and everything you could possibly want to take home for dinner. The food is fresh and grown locally in the fertile soil around the volcano. There’s an array of vegetables, fruits, meats and cheeses. In this same market you’ll also find the Pescheria (fish market) where fish that were swimming just that morning are displayed on tables full of packed ice. You can’t get fish any fresher.
This recipe pays homage to the ingredients used in Sicily and to the techniques carried out by the locals. Fresh vegetables, prized panchetta, zippy citrus, and crunchy toasted pine nuts. Even local Sicilians can’t always have (or have time to make) fresh pasta. All of my coworkers and friends in Sicily swore by Barilla pasta when fresh just wasn’t an option, so that’s what I’m using for this simple recipe.
The creaminess in this dish surprisingly does not come from the dairy but rather the emulsification between the hot pasta water and the fat from the pancetta. I still like to cheese this guy up with salty and sharp pecorino which lends its own body to this dish. For the noodle shape I chose a simple spaghetti noodle that gets coated nicely by this voluptuous sauce and wraps ever so nicely around your fork. This recipe makes enough for 3 to 4 servings. I’d recommend a side salad and maybe some bread to go along with it.
Pancetta, Broccolini, and Pecorino Romano Pasta:
*8 oz. Broccolini, stem ends trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
*1/2 Box Spaghetti Noodles, Barilla (8 oz.)
*3 oz. Pancetta, Diced
*Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
*1 shallot, minced
*2 Cloves Garlic, minced
*1 tablespoon lemon zest
*1 cup pasta water, reserved
*1/4 to 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano, grated
1 – 2 tablespoons Pine nuts, toasted (optional)
Prepare an ice bath for the broccolini. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add a couple of tablespoons of salt to the water and boil broccolini for 2 minutes. You don’t want to over season the water for the noodles because the panchetta and cheese both contain a high amount of salt on their own. Remove from water and plunge into ice bath until cool and remove to colander to drain.
Add a tablespoon of olive oil to now boiling water and cook pasta to al dente. About 9 minutes. Start rendering pancetta in cold pan large skillet or 9″ deep pan. Cook on medium low heat until almost crisp. Add in shallot and cook for 2 minutes or until translucent and add in minced garlic. Cook another minute or so until fragrant. Season with fresh pepper and salt and stir in lemon zest. Using tongs gently add in cooked pasta as well as 1/3 cup of the pasta water and toss to coat. Make sure to reserve about a cup of the pasta water to the side if your pasta is done before the pancetta. Add more pasta water as needed to create an even emulsion and add in about 1/4 cup of your grated pecorino. Toss and add the broccolini in to the dish. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your liking. Serve immediately with more cheese grated over the top.
This recipe is very simple but does take some technique. The trick is to have everything prepped and ready to go into the pan. So before you even turn the burner on and start cooking, make sure you’ve got all your prep work done. Garlic and shallots chopped as well as pancetta diced and broccolini trimmed, etc. With the prep work out of the way this dinner will come together very very quickly. The pine nuts are totally optional and are there to add a little textural crunch. If you’re not a fan of them..or the price..feel free to leave them off the plate.
When you think of your favorite Italian meal what does it include? If Italian is not your favorite cuisine, what tickles your fancy?
This is by no means authentic Spanish rice but it’s got rice, seasoning, and a whole lotta love. Besides that..it tastes great! Along with the rice, seasoning, (and tasting great) this Spanish rice is a meal all in itself. It’s filled with ground beef, green […]
Got leftover rice? Love “stir fries”? The quotations are there because I, like many others, forgo the wok and use a flaming hot skillet to make my quick stir fries and have had great results in doing so. Making a successful stir fry comes down […]
I’ve been wanting to try this restaurant for a while now and just recently decided to have a sit down at Latin Chicks for my lunch this past week. I’d seen the restaurant in passing and read an article on the hows and whys of it’s opening in a local paper and it intrigued me. I love supporting local business’ and love to see them thrive and grow in our local economy.
I went directly to their website and it mentioned the fact that it was an idea fostered from two Armstrong students back in 2009. They realized that this area was lacking in the Latin cuisine arena and decided to open Latin Chicks. All I know is that their idea became a reality and the restaurant is doing well.
On to the food!
A coworker recommended that I try the Ropa Vieja with rice. When he mentioned they also had plantains I almost left work right then rather than wait for my lunch.
After looking over the menu I decided on the 3 meat platter with two sides. The cashier was pretty awesome and let me make my 2 sides 3 with no charge which made me pretty happy. My three proteins were the Ropa Vieja, the Coal Fired Chicken, and the Pulled Pork.
Ropa Vieja (right)- This dish was a slow braise of shredded beef and peppers with onions. It was cooked down in a flavorful tomato sauce. The flavors will remind you of a dish your grandma would have slowly cooking on the back burner in her kitchen while she is cleaning the house. There was no heat spice wise and it was super comforting.
Coal fired chicken (left)- It was reminiscent to me of a slow cooked rotisserie chicken with a bit more of a char to the skin. The skin was nicely flavored with earthy spices including rosemary.
Pulled Pork (middle)- The pork was super moist and achieved it’s tender texture from also being cooked low and slow in the oven. There weren’t many spices in this dish and they weren’t really needed. My only complaint with this dish would be the excessive grease that the pork was served in once it got to the table.
With the above mains, I ordered a side of yellow rice, black beans, and of course-my plantains. The yellow rice had specks of peas and carrots flecked throughout and provided a nice background for the meat I ordered. Both the beans and rice could have been taken a level higher with a bit more seasoning including salt and pepper.
My favorite dish was the ropa vieja and (of course) the plantains. The plantains were sugary sweet with the perfect tooth. I washed my meal down with a tall cup of Passion fruit juice which was super refreshing.
The atmosphere of the restaurant was cozy and warm and the employees seemed helpful and pleasant. I also thought their wifi sign at the table was cute.
When you walk in you order at the counter, receive your drink, and then your food is delivered to your table. I’d recommend the employees perhaps do at least a once over check after the customer receives their food to make sure everything is o.k. Other than that recommendation, the service was overall good. There’s a variety of seating available for guests to sit at. I’d just recommend the staff be a little more aware of the cleanliness of the dining room since the table I sat at was sticky.
Would I go back? Yes! I’d definitely go back to Latin Chicks in Savannah. I’d probably stick to my favorite dish (the ropa vieja) and maybe do the white rice next time with pinto beans…and plantains. 🙂 If you’re ever in this area and scratching for some local Latin food, then you should give Latin Chicks a try. It’s truly an awesome thing to support local business’ whenever you can, because it’s supporting the locals that live here!
Southern Tomato Pie Recipe: Super Sumptuous Summer Tomatoes Baked in a Fantastically Flaky Pie Crust
The pictures I’ve taken for this post don’t do this pie any justice. This is one of the most awesomest, tastiest things I’ve ever made. Tomatoes are high up on the flavor scale for me, up there with ChOcOlAtE (if you can believe that) Ya […]
Who says melon balls are out? I’m counting them back in! How cool do they look? And so easy to pop in your mouth for a quick refreshing bite. It’s been so long since I used my melon baller that I somehow (uh, haven’t used […]
Want a delicious slaw that everyone will be raving about for weeks after that barbecue? Look no further my friend…it has arrived.
I came up with this recipe when thinking of sides for that awesome Bourdain pork sando that I made in my last post. This slaw is refreshing, crunchy, creamy and so deeeeeee-licious. Let’s get right into the nitty gritty of this recipe. I used a lot of the same ingredients that I used in my marinade for the sandwich. If there’s an oil or a vinegar you’re not sure you can substitute in the recipe, just give me a holler. For instance, I’d never used black vinegar before in my life. But guess what? It’s pretty awesome. And I think I’m gonna find more dishes to incorporate it into. It just lends a slight smokiness to the background of the dishes it’s used in. So, if you don’t have it? Just throw your half lit cig into it.
Don’t do that.
Easy Asian Slaw Dressing:
This recipe makes about 3/4 cup of dressing.
1/3 cup mayo
1 Tablespoon Peanut butter; I like crunchy but use what you have
1 Tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon Black Vinegar
1 teaspoon sriracha
2 teaspoons soy sauce; low sodium for me but again…use what you got
Salt and pepper to taste.
Use a whisk to mix this dressing together in a snap. Set to the side.
2 cups shredded cabbage; I used green and shredded myself or you can use a mix of green and red
2-3 Green onions, green only; chopped
1/2 bunch of cilantro; chopped
2 medium carrots; peeled and shredded. I used my peeler to get my shreds.
Toss your veg together and gently stir in dressing. Serve immediately..or not.. Honestly, this was delicious and still had some ummph (I mean crunch) three days later. This recipe will make a generous side for 4 servings.
Enjoy! You’ll thank me later.
What’s your favorite side dish? Side salad? Favorite take-a -long- to- a- barbecue dish that you’re known for? Write errr down below!
Oh….get in my belly
My obsession with the Food Network was getting a little out of hand. Friends that frequented my house would make jabs about “the only station I watched.” I didn’t care. I loved it. The descriptions. The different hosts. Learning about new food. It was the […]