The Joy of Noodles (and an improvised Zha Cai Rou Si Mian recipe)

When my mother first came to the US from Taiwan, she found the food here a little difficult to embrace. Except for spaghetti. Slurping up long, slippery strands of pasta was a familiar sensation that became the entry point for appreciating more American foods. Only spaghetti wasn’t exactly all-American. Or it wasn’t considered so then, at least. But now today, more and more Americans are slurping up bowls of Asian noodle soups, from soba to ramen to pho.

Cannellini Stewed with Tomatoes and Pancetta

It’s more filling than a mere tomato sauce, but just as easy to make. I like to make versatile dishes in the winter; things that can keep well in the fridge, and keep on playing new roles well, too, albeit of a similar character. It’s not the Meryl Streep of foods, I guess: this bean and pancetta-studded tomato sauce wouldn’t exactly make a drastic turn in, say, Vietnamese cuisine. But it does wear many hats quite deliciously keeping within a … Read More

Beer-Braised Chorizo with Garlic, Onions and Greens

I had a spectacular tapas dish a long while back, of chorizo braised with cava, a Spanish sparkling wine. The key ingredient was really garlic — loads of it — which, in combination with the spicy sausage links enveloped the whole room with its pungent aroma. I don’t have cava around today, but I’ve noted that many similar tapas make use of Spanish hard cider (or sidra), another common effervescent alcoholic beverage. So I brought the whole thing home by … Read More

Pasta With Ramps, Peas and Ham

Spring is in the air — and greens are in the earth. According to a friend who tends a farm Upstate, only the last couple weeks have granted the consistency of warmth needed to thaw the ground and allow for new plantings to begin. Rejoice! But then, not all plants need to be planted, per se. Some prefer to seed spontaneously, in the wild. Introducing the season of wild onions, including those most coveted now in New York City — … Read More

Taiwanese-Style Pork Buns

Stop. I know what you’re thinking. It’s one of three things: What in the world is this funny lump of meat stuffed inside a strange, puffy bun? Or, You just copied the pork buns made famous by Momofuku Noodle Bar, and put cilantro and peanuts on top! Or finally, Hao che! You just made Taiwanese gua bao at home! Good for you.

Spring Nachos with Ramps, Asparagus, Smoked Cheddar, Roast Pork and Spicy Radish Salsa

Just because jalapenos haven’t ripened in these parts yet, and neither have tomatoes (unless you splurge for the hothouse types), doesn’t mean it’s nach-yo season for nachos. Or at least, that’s what the founders of Nachos NY think, year-round. And who am I to argue with that kind of authority? After a successful Guactacular Invitational, for which the site’s founders Lee and Rachel asked me to be one of the judges of ten guacamoles, they suggested we get in the … Read More

Matt Greco’s Pork Sage Sausage

I’m thinking it might be time to upgrade the ‘ol NEOINY hideaway with a Kitchenaid stand mixer, equipped with all the meat grinding attachment works. (I’m browsing them on Ebay right now.) The motivating factor is right above: luscious, freshly made, and deceptively simple sausages. Who knew that with the right tools, making sausage at home actually requires little time, prep work and just a few odd ingredients (i.e. hog casing and nitrate)? Matt Greco. A chef at Cafe Gray, … Read More

Country Pâté with Pecans and Cranberries

This weekend I was invited to a dinner party at the home of two friends (and award-winning chefs). The clever theme for the event was elevated fifties’ American cuisine: “We’re swapping out the cans of condensed soups, processed cheese, canned black olives and Wonder Bread, and are replacing them with homemade, organic, high-quality ingredients,” the invitation read. As I typed out my RSVP, I apologized for my late response because their email had initially fallen into the clutches of my … Read More

Year of the Rat Dumpling-Making Party

My friend Karol agreed to come to my impromptu Chinese New Year‘s Eve dinner last night only on the condition that there would be no utterance of the words “rat” or “mouse,” so just getting it out of my system. Ringing in the Year of the Rat is understandably awkward when trodding the sodden confetti and firecracker papered streets of a New Year’s aftermath-stricken Mott St., kicking the occasional half-eaten bun. I’m not sure the ancient Chinese had counted on … Read More

Pork. Chop. Noodles.

Slurrrp. I do miss a hearty bowl of pork chop soup noodles, the kind you might get for $3 at any number of noodle shops in the lower east realms of Chinatown. Most people think of soup noodles as a wintery dish, but I’ve seen them devoured by all kinds of people as a summer lunch, shoveling yards of noodles down the chute as perspiration threatens to dot the soup.

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