Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tiny Tomatillos

Things you should know about tomatillos:
  • They are green.
  • They are surrounded by a paper-like husk that should be discarded.
  • They are covered by a sticky substance that must be rinsed off before use.
  • They apparently come in both standard and miniature sizes.  

I've cooked w/ tomatillos many times, but never the miniature variety. Tomatillos are known for their sour tang when consumed in their raw state -- the minis are no different.  In order to tame their bright bite, I usually roast tomatillos in a 400°oven for 10-15 minutes or until they start to deflate.  A quick salsa adds depth to any grilled meat, seafood or poultry.  

Pan-roasted salmon, curried lentils, wild rice and tomatillo salsa.

Tomatillo-Tomato Salsa

1 cup mini tomatillos*
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red onion, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 lime, juiced
2 TBS cilantro, chopped
1 TBS canola oil + extra for roasting tomatillo

  1. toss tomatillos w/ a splash of canola oil; season w/ salt & pepper.  roast in a 400°oven for 10-15 minutes, or until they start to deflate.  reserve rendered tomatillos and their juices.  
  2. toss cherry tomatoes, garlic, onion, reserved tomatillos, lime juice, cilantro, cumin and canola oil in a mixing bowl.  
  3. season w/ salt & pepper. allow to sit for 20 minutes; tastes, adjust seasoning & serve.
© 2011 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -

Saturday, February 19, 2011

New York's Finest

It's hard to say which NYC restaurant has the best food, service or atmosphere, however, if you asked me which local eatery provides the quintessential New York City dining experience I would say, "Gramercy Tavern", without blinking an eye. 
Gramercy Tavern
42 East 20th Street
New York, NY 10003
Gramercy Tavern was established in 1994 by Tom Colicchio & Danny Meyer.  While Tom is long gone, Mr. Meyer and Executive Chef, Michael Anthony, continue to provide an impeccable dining experience.  

Austere, but not stuffy.  
Elaborate, but not pretentious.  
Chic, but not trendy. 
Timeless & delicious.

© 2011 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -

Thursday, February 10, 2011

One Spice to Rule Them All

Authentic Indian cuisine -- while simple to prepare from a technical standpoint -- utilizes a pantry of spices completely foreign to most people.  Don't be intimidated, just start small and get your hands on two spices, tumeric & garam masala.
Garam masala (translated, "hot mixture") is a great introduction to cooking Indian.  The contents of this spice blend vary from region to region, but generally consists of 8+ spices that have a distinctly Indain flair -- cumin, coriander, clove, fenugreek seeds, cinamon, chili pepper, and cardamom to name a few.  
I buy a whole garam masala mix from the local grocer so I can toast and grind to order.  Most markets will sell ground garam masala, which is a fine alternative to the whole so long as you add the spice mix towards the end of the cooking process as to not lose the full aroma and "zing".
The natural sweetness of roasted cauliflower perfectly balances the garam masala's assertive bite and the bright orange tumeric provides a color boost that is sure to impress.

Curried Cauliflower w/ Spinach

1 head of cauliflower, cut into 1 inch pieces
1-2 bunches fresh spinach, blanched
1 knob of ginger, julienned
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 TBS canola oil
1/2 tsp tumeric
2 tsp ground garam masala
salt & pepper to taste

-- pre-heat the oven to 500°

1.  toss cauliflower, garlic, ginger and canola oil in a large bowl.  add the tumeric, garam masala and season w/ salt.  toss to thoroughly coat the cauliflower.

2.  bake cauliflower on a parchment-lined sheet tray for 12 minutes.  shake up cauliflower and bake for an additional 4-5 minutes.  toss w/ spinach while hot & serve. 

© 2011 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -