Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Biased Interpretation of Asparagus "Parmigiana"

My favorite asparagus is grilled asparagus, but I've been known to flip the script w/ this refreshingly light take on asparagus parmigiana. The dish is simple as all hell, and comes together in minutes.  Some finesse in necessary when it comes to the parmigiana paste and the bias cut on the asparagus. Mix the grated cheese w/ some cold water until it clumps together like school paste, then thin w/ lemon juice and olive oil. Make sure to cut the asparagus on a sharp bias (diagonal) to maximize surface area.  Each thin "plank" should be about an inch long.

Great when served alone, or w/ a rich, unctuous protein like pork belly or sea urchin.

Asparagus "Parmigiana"

2 cups asparagus thinly sliced on the bias
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1-2 TBD of cold water
EVOO, just a drizzle
lemon juice, just a bit
salt & pepper to taste
  1. combine cheese and 1 TBS of cold water in a mixing bowl. add more water, a little a time, to create a cheesy paste. it should spread like mustard.
  2. add a drizzle of EVOO and lemon juice to smooth out the cheese mixture.
  3. add asparagus and toss to combine. season w/ salt & pepper.
© 2014 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Gringo Green

White people don't typically tackle Mexican food at home, and when we do, we like to play it safe: tacos, nachos, guacamole, or maybe some fajitas.

This pollo verde recipe tastes ethnic and complex, but won't put you too far out of your comfort zone technique-wise. Tomatillos might be difficult to find, depending on where you live, but most well-stocked produce markets should carry.

Pollo Verde

2# skinless, boneless chicken thighs
2 TBS olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 poblano pepper, chopped
3 tomatillos, chopped
1/2 packed cilantro leaves
1/2 lime, juiced
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chili powder
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups butternut squash, diced
1 15oz can of white beans
1/2 cup golden raisins

  1. chop the chicken into 1-inch chunks.  season w/ salt & pepper. reserve.
  2. heat the olive oil in a pot large enough to contain all ingredients.  saute the onion, garlic, and pepper. add the tomatillios after about 5 minutes. cook for an additional 5 minutes and kill the heat.
  3. transfer pepper & onion mixture into a blender. add cilantro, lime, salt, spices and stock. purree.
  4. add chicken squash and raisins to the pot. cover w/ verde mixture. add enough stock to cover.
  5. bring to a boil, the simmer until done -- about an hour.
  6. garnish w/ fresh cilantro, diced avocado and a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream.

© 2014 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Reading Rainbow

Reading Terminal makes the Chelsea Market look like Boston Market.

Home to Tommy DiNic's, winner of Adam Richman's Best Sandwich in America title.  It's a roast pork & broccoli rabe sandwich, topped with sharp provolone cheese.  Tremendous.

The Amish have the pretzel game on LOCK.

Fresh meats and produce?  Check!

Wall-to-wall sweets? You bet!

© 2014 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Alligator Pear Pasta

This interesting avocado application yields a creamy pasta dish that isn't a dairy-based dieting disaster.  There are a few similar recipes out there on the inter-webs, but I like to keep it light and bright w/ a bit of Greek yogurt, whole wheat pasta, and fresh jalapeño.

add some shellfish to the mix for extra zazz
Avocado "Cream" Sauce
2 garlic cloves
1 ripe avocado
juice from ½ lemon
¼ cup fresh basil/cilantro/parsley
1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ cup Greek yogurt
2 TBS Pecorino Romano cheese to taste
thinly sliced jalapeño for garnish
  1. combine all ingredients except jalapeño in a blender/food processor.  pulverize.  
  2. taste, season, and serve tossed w/ pasta.  thin the sauce w/ a bit of the pasta water to your liking. 

© 2013 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sweet Tooth

Leli's Bakery is a relatively new addition to the 30th avenue strip and is fast becoming my go-to sweets spot in the neighborhood.  From what I gather, Leli's is an Maltese owner & operated bakery w/ ties to JMJ bakery in the Bronx.  They are still working through some service issues, but I see the manager around a lot more often and things are getting better each time I visit.  On that note, I visit more frequently then I'd like to admit, often going out of my way to cop a cupcake after work.

Leli's Bakery
35-14 30th Ave
Astoria, NY 11103

The colorful cookies and cupcakes are staple sweets, but you should also try their breads and other savory snacks.  Pastizzi and qassatat are tempting puff pastry treats stuffed w/ ricotta, meat or vegetables.  I've even had one of their chicken pot pies and it was amazing.  When was the last time you had a real chicken pot pie?

© 2013 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable -

Friday, April 26, 2013

Family Matters

You couldn't tell by the Kwik-E-Mart facade, but this little Asian grocer is teeming w/ all sorts of food products and dried goods for the Far East.  Family Market is a great place to grab a light lunch, or stock up on your favorite Japanese imports.

Family Market
29-15 Broadway
Astoria, NY 11106

I pop in every once in a while to grab some exotic staples -- Japanese curries, kimchi and most excitedly, Kewpie mayonnaise   Kewpie mayo is decadently rich and has an indulgent tang that goes well w/ just about everything.  You could smother hot horse shit in Kewpie mayo and still end up w/ a pretty decent lunch. Better yet, skip the horse shit and pick up one of the several onigiri Family Market has to offer.  Onigiri are little balls of sushi rice stuffed w/ a filling and wrapped w/ seaweed.  My favorites are the sour plum and the spicy smelt row.

© 2013 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable -

Friday, March 29, 2013

Marsupial Madness

The Thirsty Koala
35-12 Ditmars Blvd
Astoria, NY 11105

The Thirsty Koala opened late last year, but I haven't had a chance to visit until recently.  You can tell they're still working through some of the new restaurant jitters, but this place is a keeper.  The service is great, the vibe is chill, and the food is unique -- to say the least.  Better yet, they have a BOYB policy until their liquor license is approved, no corkage fees.

Grilled kangaroo strip steak and TimTam Tiramisu are more than just novelties to get you in the door, they're a testament to how delicious thinking outside of the box can taste.

© 2013 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable -