nell’s kitchen

So I told you already that I’m getting all ‘nesty’ lately right?  I’ve been doing lots of cooking and organizing and even a little baking.  Last week I set a personal record for myself.  I cooked five nights in a row.  I seriously don’t think I’ve ever done that.  In fact – from Sunday brunch to Friday lunch I didn’t eat one meal outside our home.  That’s honestly kind of a big deal for me.  I think part of this is stemming from being pregnant.  I’ve just felt sort of cozy at home lately and it’s been fun trying out new recipes and playing with all our new kitchen gear (wedding presents that spent nearly two years at my parents house in Massachusetts because of our previously teeny apartment).  Besides that – our new neighborhood (though completely pretty and awesome) is sort of lacking in delivery options.  Back in the East Village – we had our regular spots that we craved every week.  Delivery was quick, cheap and easy – and we had just about any type of food available to us nearly twenty-four hours a day.  Fort Greene definitely has some good restaurants – but the delivery scene just isn’t really doing it for me quite yet.  So Adam and I have started trying to recreate all our favorite restaurant cravings at home.  It’s become a fun little project for us.

Craving #1: Quality Pizza

It all started with pizza.  For my twenty-eighth birthday party, I hired my good friend (and pizza maker extraordinnaire) Mark Bello to help me put together a pizza and beer pairing party at Beer Table.  Mark has since opened his own pizza-making school in the Lower East Side called Pizza-a-Casa.  He is a pizza guru and all around foodie and I am oh so happy to have him in my life.  Anyway, I got hooked on the fun of making pizza, so I registered for a pizza stone and peel as shower gifts, but I didn’t really end up making much use out of them over the last couple years.  Then recently, I discovered frozen pizza dough from Fresh Direct.  They deliver the dough in four little balls to you frozen and you just thaw it out the night before you want to make a pizza.   Thanks to my work with Mark, I have all these recipes and ideas for yummy pizzas to make at home – so lately Adam and I have been on a pizza-making kick!  With a few simple ingredients: good quality fresh mozzerella, pizza sauce (been using Mario Batali’s jarred pizza sauce from Fresh Direct – but simple good quality San Marzano crushed tomatoes from a can will also do the trick), fresh basil (growing on my windowsill), thinly sliced sopressata picante and a little freshly grated Pecorino Romano for a finishing touch (especially over the crust) and there you have it – a restaurant-worthy, super yummy pizza.  Plus – making it at home is so much fun!

Meanwhile, Adam got inspired by a breakfast pizza recipe he found on Smitten Kitchen, so he adapted it to our liking and it has since become our new favorite breakfast treat.  Last weekend (and the weekend before), we invited over friends and made breakfast pizzas – topped with scallions, chives, garlic, bacon, some ricotta, fresh mozz and then finished with eggs and some fresh-grated parm.  Stupendous!  Here is a picture of one of Adam’s specialty breakfast pies:

Adam's Breakfast Pizza

The eggs on this one were a little over-cooked… it’s more delicious when the yolks break and run over the pie – but you get the idea.  Isn’t it pretty?

Craving #2:  Indian Food

I often get a craving for super flavorful, creamy, spicy, saucy Indian food.  However the Indian delivery in this neighborhood has left me rather cold.  I mentioned in a previous post how I picked up some Indian spices recently so the other night, with my friend Robyn coming over for dinner, I decided to make an Indian menu.  I used a Cooks Illustrated recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala and a recipe for Matar Makhani – Green Peas with Creamy Sauce from Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick & Easy Indian Cooking book.  Alongside I made a simple basmati rice to soak up the yummy sauces.

Well – I must admit that the preparation for this meal took me quite a while (overall prep and cooking time was about three hours!) – however, it was SO worth it!  The flavors were incredible!  And it was rather pleasing measuring out all the beautifully colored spices and ingredients into my little ramekins (you know I have a love for ramekins).  These were the measured out ingredients for the peas… I had even more measured out for the chicken!

Ramekins a plenty

This meal totally rocked!  Here is a photo of the finished dish (with peas on the side):

Chicken Tikka Masala & Green Peas with Creamy Sauce

Robyn showed off her fancy rice presentation skills by using a ramekin to shape the rice and sprinkling a little cilantro on top – another win for ramekins. 🙂

Chicken Tikka Masala with Basmati Rice

Craving #3: Turkey Burgers

When we lived in the East Village, we’d order from Westville almost every Sunday.  We loved the turkey burgers there  – though the turkey burgers from Zaitzeff also became a go-to for variety.  We’d both order turkey burgers with cheddar cheese, fries and then a side of hot buffalo sauce for dipping!  Now that we don’t have Westville or Zaitzeff around, I’ve started making weekly turkey burgers at home and I must say – I am beginning to master the recipe and they have now become just as satisfying as our favorite delivery burgers.  I once again use a Cooks Illustrated Recipe from the Light cookbook!  Instead of 93% lean turkey meat – I usually just buy ground turkey breast from the farmer’s market and keep it in the freezer until the night before I’m ready to cook the burgers.  Turkey breast can get dry – but this Cooks Illustrated recipe adds in ricotta cheese (use part-skim to make it lighter), which makes these burgers juicy and moist!  I add shredded cheese to each burger for the last five minutes of cooking, which melts the cheese perfectly – and I often serve these burgers on Bay’s Multi-Grain English Muffins.  Now we just need to figure out a hot sauce that completes the dish… I’ve heard Franks or Crystal tastes the most like buffalo sauce.  I’ll keep you posted on that.

(Sorry – no pictures of the turkey burgers just yet – but I’ll be sure to take one the next time I make them).

Meanwhile, other cravings on our list include:

  • Thai – I’d like to master a yummy Pad Thai recipe along with a curry (perhaps Masaman?).
  • Ramen – we sorely miss our visits to Minca in the East Village and are interested in trying out Ramen at home!
  • Mexican – I’d love to make Huevos Rancheros and Chilequiles Verdes
Oh – and I’ve decided, with so much cooking going on lately I should get an awesome “nell’s kitchen” sign made to hang up in our kitchen.  Right?  That thought makes me happy.

8 thoughts on “nell’s kitchen

  1. So happy you posted the link to the receipe. It was so delicious. I was so impressed with the beautiful char on the chicken and the food stylist in me wishes that some of that was showed off some more. haha.

  2. Nell, you and Adam are both so staggeringly talented in so many ways that I am in complete awe!
    Put a value judgment on the food thing — all other things being equal, would you rather do take-out or cook-in?
    Mazel tov on your bambino news, which is super-exciting.

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