Dinner: “This Is Where I Try To Write My First Recipe” Post (Green-Eyed Pasta Salad)

Let’s rock ‘n’ roll. If anyone tries this, let me know how it works: 

(For more on the genesis of the recipe, and the outdoor photo shoot, see my Tuesday, May 26, 2009 lunch post.)

photo-14

Green-Eyed Pasta Salad

8 oz. pasta of your choice; something curly works best. Fresh, even better. 
10-ish Brussels sprouts, washed, bottoms chopped off, each sliced into four lengthwise pieces
1/3 – 1/2 lb. English peas, shelled, rinsed
4 oz. summer sausage, casing peeled, diced into strips of thickness of your choice
2 Tbls. caper berries — heaping tablespoons, if you like ’em (I used about 8 large Sicilian green olives, diced, but I think the salad would be improved with the capers. Plus, more “green eyes.”)
1/2 c. chopped fresh basil (rinse, pat dry with paper towel, pluck leaves, roll leaves into little bundle, slice lengthwise)
1 Tbls. lemon juice (start with this and taste, more can always be added)
1/3 c. (aka hefty circular drizzle) E.V.O.O. (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
Mixed lettuce greens (handful per serving; optional) 

Boil water for pasta; begin cooking pasta per directions. 

Meanwhile, prep Brussels sprouts, peas, summer sausage and basil. (It’ll make your life easier; pretend you’re the host of a cooking show).

Boil water (small saucepan) for peas. 

Microwave (aka cheating blanching) sliced Brussels sprouts 2 min with dash of water, loosely covered. 

Let cooked pasta drain in sink in colander; return pan to heat and sauté summer sausage over medium-high heat (should brown and smell damn good, but not burn, bottom of pan stickage is okay) until generally hot and visible browning. Turn out onto previous prep location. 

Add Brussles sprouts to pasta/sausage pan; cook on medium-high heat about five minutes, until fragrant and visible browning. Turn out onto previous prep location. 

Add peas to boiling water; cook until tender (about five minutes).

Return pasta to pan; drain peas.

To pasta, add: sausage, Brussels sprouts, drained peas, caper berries, hefty drizzle of E.V.O.O. and lemon juice. Mix. 

Add fresh basil. Mix.

Taste. Adjust for taste. Mix again. Serve over handful of lettuce greens (optional). 

Serves: 4

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Lunch: Schnipper’s Surprises (Involves Burgers and Beer)

photo-11There’s no way a stand-alone restaurant could continue to operate in such prime real estate as the northwest corner of the New York Times building without turning out a fair bit of business, which means the food can’t be bad, or even mediocre really, because a fair bit of business, by definition, requires a fair number of repeat customers. Convenience and traffic from the adjacent Port Authority, be damned.

I had a Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen experience a few months back and it was — meh. A green chile cheeseburger ($8.99) that smacked of Tex-Mex and overwhelmed the patty that was way too well done. Needless to say, as this blog can attest, I’ve avoided their expensive burgers (six of eight fall in the $6.99 – $9.75 range) since.

Today, almost out of desperation (that’s another story), I decided to give it another go. I think I finally get it. I think I learned how to eat at Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen:

photo-91. Don’t go. Stay. It might be counter-intuitive to the lunch “hour” most anyone I know doesn’t take, but a burger and fries are two foods that just do not transport, even if you’re carrying them yourself.

There is no re-solidifying cheese allowed. Let’s not even talk about the fries that got soggy from their own hotness inside the paper bag/takeout container. Stay. Eat. Schnipper’s does a good burger, and even better fries, but you’re wasting the experience if you wait to eat. (Plus, you miss out on the cute circular tray and Schnipper’s retro-styled paper lining.)

2. Stick with the basics. Their other burgers are probably improved from eating on site also, but there’s something about a classic cheeseburger, that I shelled out a *mere* $5.99 for, that tastes so much better than the $8.99 green chile burger. Hmm. Might have been the fries ($2.75).

photo-103. Insist — as in repeat — your desired burger done-ness. Do I eat bad beef? Try not to. You say you have good (decent) beef? Okay I want it cooked medium-rare.

I look at my receipt and I do not see “medium rare” explicitly listed out, as in, after the toppings somewhere. So I reconfirmed that I want my burger medium rare, and the cashier smiles at me and says, “It doesn’t show up on your receipt, but it shows up on the one for the cooks.”

“Great, thanks,” I say. Guess what. Burger showed up medium rare.

photo-124. Schnipper’s for happy hour? Yes! Hear me out. They have a half-dozen really decent beers priced at $5.50 / 16 oz.; 12 oz. PBR cans $3; suddenly after 5 o’clock Schnipper’s menu prices come within range, cheap even, compared to bar snacks or other like options, and there’s a gigantic outdoor seating area from which to watch the sun set over the Port Authority. … seriously, I think this guy’s got the right idea. (You can always move inside.)

*TIP: There are a bunch of other menu options, most of which are priced out of my lunchtime budget but might make an excellent early dinner: two fish tacos, $8.99; grilled four cheese with bacon, $8.99; chopped market salad with chicken, $11.99.

Breakfast: The “Is This the Rediscovery of Cereal?” Post

I go in and out of cereal kicks, but it’s been a couple of years.

photo(It’s also been a few years since I had to really wake up and eat “breakfast,” which may account for something. If I can go straight to lunch I generally will). When I get onto a cereal I stick, I pick one type — granola, oatmeal, rice-puffed cereal — and stick with it for a while until the novelty wears off.

cute milk
cute milk

Cherrios and Honey Nut Cheerios are a classic brekafast cereal: It’s got that ying/yang between the crunch of the O’s and the slurp of the milk. Cute bee mascot, colorful packaging, and have you read all the health benefits cereal boxes boast of these days?

So my a.)  interest in and b.) delight with my bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios this morning naturally makes me wonder: Is this what’s next?