Sunday, November 22, 2009

big 'ol mr. knish

the knish (kah-nish), long a NYC staple, finds its origins in the LES jewish ghettos of yesteryear. i know, "jewish" and "ghettos" are two words you don't often see in the same sentence, but the world was a different place 100 years ago -- believe it.

knishes consist of two components, a dough crust exterior, and a well seasoned mashed potato interior. knishes are generally cooked in one of two ways -- either baked or fried. most people are familiar w/ the squared-off fried knishes that are sold by hot dog vendors, however, the baked knish remains more elusive. baked knishes are round rather than square, and their starchy interiors often erupt through the crust's upper limits. your best bet at locating these artisan treats is to visit a well-stocked gourmet supermarket (Whole Foods). however, if you are fortunate enough to live in the tri-state area, i strongly suggest that you visit NYC's original KNISHERY: Yonah Shimmel's (YS).

Yonah Shimmel, Knish Bakery
137 E Houston St
New York, NY 10002-1027
(212) 477-2858

fresh as hell and made w/ love, a YS knish is unlike any other. "original", "spinach & swiss", "sweet potato", and "jalapeno & cheddar" are just a sampling from the myriad of knishes this bakery has to offer. during my last visit, i enjoyed a delicious jalapeno & cheddar knish, which despite lacking the level of heat i had expected, was incredibly satisfying. the cheddar & jalapeno played nice, however, the true star of the show was the mashed potato filling. them taters tasted like 100 years of tradition, truly phenomenal.

if you eat in, they re-heat the knish in a microwave oven, which does not do it justice -- my advice: take it to go.

© 2009 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

dirt-cheap dumplings

in a city where even a shitty slice of pizza runs a buck seventy-five, there is still hope for the budget-impaired. behold: tasty dumpling, a true hole-in-the-wall Chinatown outpost that specializes in one thing -- dumplings on the cheap. the going rate: 5 for $1.25.

wait, i'll do the math for you; that's .25 cents a dumpling!

Tasty Dumpling
54 Mulberry Street
(between Bayard St & Mosco St)
New York, NY 10013
a crispy, golden-delicious sear graces each heavenly little pork-pillow -- the filling is moist, flavorful and delicious. i'm not saying that they are the best dumplings out there, but i will guarantee that they are far superior to those offered by other hole-in-the-wall types that hawk theirs for 2x the price.

tasty dumpling is as bare bones as its name suggests, so don't expect much more than a few folding chairs and wobbly tables. fortunately, you didn't come for the decorum - right?

© 2009 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

finger on the pulse

in italy, lentils are traditionally eaten on new year's day, as a symbol of good luck and prosperity. it's something about the lentils resembling coins -- -- something like that-- idk.

what i DO know is that this is a super simple recipe that only requires a few staple ingredients to pull together. this preparation has "side dish" written all over it, and pairs especially well w/ fish, poultry, or pork.

New Year's Lentils

1 large onion, small dice
2 stalks celery, small dice
1 large carrot, medium dice
3 cloves garlic, rough chop
2 cups brown lentils
3 quarts water
2 bay leaves

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup red wine (or balsamic) vinegar

salt & pepper to taste

*this is a one-pot deal. lentils double in volume as the cook; make sure to start w/ a pot large enough to hold the finished product -- a 4-6 qt sauce pot will do just fine.

1. saute onion, garlic, celery, and carrot in about 3 TBS of olive oil over medium heat until onion turns translucent -- about 6-8 minutes.

2. add water, and a HEAVY pinch of salt (~1 TBS) to the pot, bring to a boil. add the lentils and bay leaves, return to a boil then reduce to a simmer. simmer, covered, for 20-40 minutes or until done.

3. drain lentils through a strainer. combine lentils, 1/2 cup of olive oil, and 1/2 of red wine vinegar in a mixing bowl (or just rinse out the pot and return them from whence they came).

-- garnish w/ parsley and serve either hot or at room temperature

© 2009 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -