Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wheaties -- The Pasta of Champions.

I used to have a real hard-on for whole wheat pasta; I didn't like the way it tasted or its grainy texture -- mind you, I was also 300lbs, so the obvious health benefits were inconsequential to me at the time. I have since reconciled my differences with pastas of the whole wheat variety, and oddly enough, I find that I've grown to love its nuanced taste and grainy texture (and of course the health benefits!).

When working with whole wheat pasta:

-- Add about a teaspoon of honey along with a heavy pinch of salt to the cooking water. Honey is a natural sweetener and has a way of adding some pep to the pasta.

-- Keep the sauce simple; make the pasta the star. There's no need to mask the pasta's wheatie goodness with a heavy red sauce -- stick to a light olive oil based sauce for best results.

My favorite way to prepare whole wheat spaghetti is to toss a tangle with olive oil, garlic, parsley, some caramelize onions and fennel.

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

Monday, March 15, 2010

Buy The Slice: Otto

Otto Enoteca
One Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10003
Otto is a wine bar that successfully masquerades as a high-end pizzeria. Just beyond Otto's vaulted doors awaits a spacious dinning room that is eqipped with its very own salumeria.
The wine list is extensive to say the least, with over 750 different bottles of vino from all over Italy. The dinning menu is comparably well-versed in variety, offering numerous pasta, pizza, and gelato creations. The vibe is convivial and boisterous; the perfect place for a fun date, group gathering, or family outing.
How to order is up to you, but I suggest get several plates to share with the table, like Italian tapas. Whatever you do, make sure to save some room for dessert. Otto is renouned for their inventive gellato concoctions like the Olive Oil Coppetta --
Olive oil gelato, lime curd, concord grape sorbet, blood oranges, fennel brittle

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

Sunday, March 7, 2010

There Coulda Been a Baby In'ersh...

Bok choy (aka "Chinese cabbage") has a sweet, mild flavor that goes well with tofu, mushrooms, poultry and seafood. This Asian supper veggie has a multitude of health benefits including high levels of vitamin-A, vitamin-C, beta-carotene, calcium and dietary fiber. I enjoy baby bok choy, as I'm not too keen on their adult counterpart's stalk-to-leaf ratio -- plus they look infinitely more appetizing on a plate.

Bok choy & shiitake mushrooms go together like peas and carrots…only Asian. The cabbage's subtle bite negotiates the mushroom's umami musk like no other. With this dish, less is more -- re-hydrate the mushrooms, blanch the greens and combine with some of the mushroom stock, soy sauce, sugar, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil. You can zazz it up w/ some ginger, or tofu, but the bare basics make for a truly enjoyable dish on their own.

"Braised" Baby Bok Choy & Shiitake Mushrooms"

2 #'s baby bok boy, rinsed and halved
2 cups dried shiitake mushrooms
1 cup mushroom stock
2 tsp sugar
1 TBS sesame oil
1 TBS soy sauce
1 tsp mirin
1 tsp rice wine vinegar

1. add dried mushrooms to a medium sauce pot, cover w/ water and bring to a boil. kill the heat and allow to steep, covered for 20 minutes. drain the mushrooms, reserving one cup of the mushroom stock, and squeeze out any excess moisture.

2. blanch baby bok choy in batchers until just tender; about 3 minutes. shock in an ice bath to hault the cooking process.

3. combine the reserved mushroom stock, sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, mirin and rice wine vinegar. whisk well and combine w/mushrooms and baby bok choy.

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