Sunday, April 22, 2012

What's in a Name, Anyway?

Officially, it goes by the name Jerusalem Pita House, however, the awning of this Algerian-run Middle Eastern restaurant simply boasts -- PITA HOT.

I can't speak for their meat dishes, but I've been frequenting once a week for the last five years to get a fix of their Mediterranean platter.  Tabouli, fava beans, stuffed grape leaves, falafel, hummus and babaganoush served with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, olives, peppers and tahini w/ a pita on the side.  

The owner lives upstairs and sometimes works the counter, but more often than not, there's a tired young man working all stations.  Service is always prompt and friendly, but these guys work 15 hour days and sometimes it shows.  

They say everything is homemade, but I saw a large store-bought can of stuffed grape leaves the last time I was there.  I don't hold it against them though, the food's always on point regardless, and while there are a lot of great places to get Middle Eastern food in Astoria, I keep coming back to Pita Hot for more.

© 2012 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable -

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sam's Club

Felines are notoriously stingy gift givers, so it took me by surprise when they chipped in on this cake for Sandy's birthday last week:

They purchased this marble sponge cake from Sam's Club for $20, and it was pretty damn good! The cake was moist and the frosting was dense and super-sweet -- but in a good way.  The half-sheet size is perfect for a party of 15-20.

The humans ate all the cake, much to the cats chagrin.  I tried explaining to them that they don't have taste buds, but they didn't want to hear it...

Sam & Persimmon
© 2012 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable -

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Bed of Beans for Easter Leftovers

Black, white, red, or otherwise -- beans are King.  How could you not love these things?  They're cheap, healthy, easy to prepare and last forever.  Taking the time to soak and cook dry beans always yields the best results, but this ends up being a two day process.  IMO, the drop-off in flavor and texture of canned beans is not significant enough to deter use, especially during the work week.

A simple white bean ragu is the perfect accompaniment to any pork dish -- be it a chop, sausage or pulled shoulder. The addition of a little cured meat provides a great depth of flavor and fun textural divide.

White Bean Ragu

2 (15-oz) cans of white beans
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, medium dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (6-oz) can tomato paste
1 zucchini, medium dice
1 link dry sausage, medium dice
1 cup chicken stock
1 spring thyme
salt, pepper, EVOO

  1. sauté onion and carrot over medium high heat until tender, about 6 minutes.  add garlic, cook until fragrant.  add tomato paste and cook for an additional 5 minutes over medium heat.  
  2. add zucchini, dried sausage, chicken stock and thyme.  bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  cook over medium heat for 10 - 15 minutes.  
  3. taste, season and serve as a bed to your favorite pork product.
© 2012 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable -