Chinatown

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While most flock to Chinatown for fake Rolexes and knockoff designer handbags many still head to this over crowded mile radius for many delectible culinary delights and great produce deals. I had wanted to go to my favorite Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Pasteur. Unfortunately, it was too crowded for me to attempt it with a stroller. Still I decided to hit the produce street vendors and head over to the Hong Kong Supermarket to find some goodies for dinner.

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We might not have the village markets in NYC like they do in Europe but as soon as spring hits the produce street vendors pop up like firefies in the city, and thank the heavens for them. You can find amazing deals with these guys. On average their goods cost 1/3 the price of the same produce you would find in a grocery store. Just make sure you take the time to select them yourself. For example, I bought a bag of three romaine hearts for only $2 dollars. The same bag was $5 at the local Gristedes or $6 at the nearby Gourmet Garage. It’s a no brainer, I try to get all my produce two seasons of the year from these Produce Outdoorsmen.

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I buy some seasonal fruits and vegetables and head on over to my favorite Chinatown grocery, the venerable Hong Kong Supermarket!

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 You can find everything from live frogs to Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice at the HKS. I started coming here for condiments and bags of frozen dim sum. Now, everytime I come, I try to buy something new and stray a little further from my comfort zone. It doesn’t matter if you live in a big city or on a farm, chances are there is an ethnic market within your reach. Seek them out and  experiment a little. Whether its the Eastern European market selling sausages and giant beers or the Korean deli down the block with their homemade Kim Chi, there is a culinary world to explore at your fingertips.

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I find some chinese eggplannt, chive buds, bok choy, and a nice piece of salmon all for a very good prices. Oh and of course bags of frozen dumplings and a new sauce to try out. Their condiment aisle is sick, ten different types of soy sauce, twenty different types of chili sauce, goes on and on and on. I stuff my goods under my stroller and head on home with my baby girl happy as a clam.

By the time we got home, it was a little too late to start my Chinese feast but luckily I remembered that I had defrosted pizza dough in the fridge. When ever I make dough Ialways make more than I need because it freezes well, just remember to put it in your fridge a day or two before use because there is no quick way to defrost dough.  That’s not true, actually, you can put it in a ziplock back and run it under cold water, this works for meat as well.  Don’t ever say I told you a lie!  Anyway, it’s another quick pizza and salad night for the family.

-Maintenant Manger!

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Pizza for a Hot Day

photo (1)April 10, 2013 and we have a high of 79 degrees here in the big apple. It’s the first day of real heat.  It was too hot to baby-wear my 6-month old in a carrier so I had to return from errand running to grab the stroller.  She seemed happy with that and fell sound asleep within 10 minutes. I took my sleeping baby to Raffetto’s on Houston St. here in NYC. One of the last remaining Italian groceries specializing in home made pastas and raviolis, it’s pretty romantic but still totally utilitarian that it actually makes a great place to bring a special someone.  It was a frequent “errand” when I was courting my wife.  Honestly, food shops like this make great pseudo-dates.  If you are in New York City and have access to a kitchen, I highly recommend stopping by and picking yourself dinner. You know a place is good if tour guides take their charges to visit.

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Source: Coco Mault

L’Epicerie Cord’homme loves and supports old mom and pop shops like Raffetto’s. Just remember to bring cash as they don’t take credit cards.  Check out their video.

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Rafetto’s website

This small shop also has amazing prices. I noticed today the Olave brand olive oil was $10 cheaper than at other well-known fancy foods grocers.  Today, I bought some Spinach & Cheese Ravioli there which I will make for dinner tomorrow night.  I also bought some assorted cheeses including some fresh mozzarella for tonight’s  homemade pizza.  I am going to give you the recipe for the quick & easy version.  Check back for the “from scratch” version in a later post.

Before you begin, let the dough defrost for 24 hours ahead of time in the refrigerator then let sit at room temperature for a couple hours before you use it.  We have a pizza stone that my wife bought me as a belated birthday gift.  I had been talking about buying one for ages.  All my gum-flapping paid off because I love it!  There are many great brands out there and I highly recommend doing a little reserach to make sure you get one that best suits your needs.

For the tomato sauce, just go for a standard, cheap brand.  Most store bought sauces are pretty much just plain canned tomato sauce with tomato puree mixed in.  It’s definitely cheaper and more fun to just add interesting ingredients out of your pantry or use leftovers from the fridge to create a unique sauce.

Mozzarella… Can’t really cheat here. The stuff they sell in the square packages at the supermarket will do in a pinch, but if you can, spring for the fresh stuff that you find in oblong balls wrapped in plastic wrap.

Now for the toppings, I kept mine simple and went with Pepperoni and Jalapeno.  Always taste a sample of your chili pepper as not to be surprised by the heat output.   Favorite toppings are like favorite colors, totally personal and totally right.  Don’t limit yourself to the classics, pizza making should be all about experimentation.  Par cook your proteins such as meat/chicken to ensure that your meats are not undercooked.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Pizza dough (For this recipe, I use frozen)
  • Pasta sauce (Again, the jarred variety)
  • Mozzerella (There’s no short cut for this.  Just get the best you can afford.)
  • Toppings and Herbs (Anything goes as long as it tastes good and nobody gets hurt!)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Oil your pizza stone or cookie sheet. I like to use a drizzle of olive oil that I spread with a paper towel. Lay out your pizza dough and par cook it for 15 minutes. This will help ensure that your pizza isn’t soggy. Once it’s done, add your sauce, spices, mozzerella and toppings. Put it back in the oven for 25 minutes or until the chese is melted and a light golden brown. 

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Maintenant manger!