Monday: Dinner at Proper Brick Oven and Tap Room with Gene and Sandy O’Sullivan and Billy, before the Bob Dylan concert (Mavis Staples opening) at Heinz Hall
Tuesday: Tuscan Cabbage and Bean Soup
Wednesday: Spinach, Artichoke and Pecan Dip / White Pizza
Thursday: Midnight Bolognese with Rigatoni
Beez and view from AJS Office at Etsy
Friday: NYC with Drew – Dinner at Angelo Bellini’s
Saturday: Lunch at Sweet Green, Dinner at Toscana
Drew and Bill in Manhattan
Sunday: Brunch at Vinegar Hill House (Brooklyn)
Last week, Billy and I heard Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples in person after dinner with Gene and Sandy O’Sullivan and Beez and I visited son Andrew in New York, to help him move from Manhattan to Brooklyn and generally hang out. We also had some spectacular food – the soup on Tuesday, our recreation of Proper’s White Pizza, and the Midnight Bolognese. And we had even better food eating out in New York (we would recommend Toscana in Midtown). But the revelation of the week was the Kale Chicken Caesar at Sweet Green, a chain catering to millennials, which you can find in all of those cities where college graduates from indulgent families decide to live, even before they find a job.
Our visit with Andrew was great fun. SWMBO organized the remaining detritus in Andrew’s old apartment as only SWMBO can, and then got it to Andrew’s new apartment with no extra charge from the movers. We visited Andrew’s club – The New York Library Society – and then the Met to get a preview of the Michelangelo drawings which opened on Monday. On Friday, we met Andrew for dinner at Angelo Bellini’s where I got to teach the young bartender how to make a Rob Roy and where a party of 8 came in behind a fellow who shouted, “I have an announcement. My girlfriend and I have been dating for 3 years and I just asked her to marry me and she accepted,” to general approbation and some isolated raised eyebrows from the crowd.
On Sunday, after a spectacular Mass (great sermon, glorious organ music) at Holy Trinity in Manhattan, we headed to Andrew’s old apartment to schlep those vital belongings that didn’t quite make it with the movers to his new apartment in Brooklyn. After the schlepping, we had a nice brunch at the funky Vinegar Hill House, feeling rather low-key amidst the tattoos, piercings and odd hairdos. And then we had the great pleasure of visiting Andrew’s workplace at Etsy. From his corner of the open office where he works there is a great view of the Brooklyn Bridge and lower Manhattan (see the pictures above).
Later, hanging out at LaGuardia before our flight back to Pittsburgh, we watched Big Ben rally the Steelers to beat Indianapolis, while teaching yet another young bartender how to make a Rob Roy (what is Western Civilization coming to?). It was a smashing weekend, and I want to go back this coming weekend, but Beez thinks that Andrew needs some time to himself.
Now, back to that salad. My heart sank when Andrew suggested on Saturday that we lunch at Sweet Green. I saw no prospects for either a Rob Roy or a hamburger at this place. I agreed to split a Kale Salad with Beez in the same way that I have agreed in the past to a colonoscopy or to being drafted into the army. But then I watched the counter clerk tossing the salad, or rather, spearing and mixing it with the fastest, fiercest tong-work this side of Benihana and finishing it with a generous squeeze from half a lime. I didn’t imagine that it would taste like anything other than a mouthful of Kentucky Bluegrass, but the show was interesting. And then I tasted one of the best salads of my life. Below, I’ll tell you how I tried to recreate the salad (very good, but different) and, as an extra, toss in Alex Guarnaschelli’s Midnight Bolognese – a great way to get a big-flavored, meaty pasta, when you don’t have the time to slow cook a sauce all day.
SHREDDED CHICKEN KALE CAESAR SALAD
(Adapted from a recipe found on tablefortwoblog.com)
Timing: 15 minutes
(plus time to cook and shred the chicken, unless you take
my advice and use a grocery store rotisserie chicken)
For the Dressing:
1/3 cup mayonnaise
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (This is too much, we think, unless you crave the
Taste of Worcestershire – we suggest ½ tablespoon)
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
For the Salad:
1 bunch of Kale (between 1-2 to ¾ lb. on a grocery store scale)
20 cherry tomatoes halved
2 cups of shredded chicken
Fresh Lime juice
1 avocado, diced (optional – this was our addition and not in the recipe online)
Make the Dressing:
Put all of the ingredients in a large lidded jar and shake to incorporate. (You will have extra dressing, but it keeps in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.)
Make the Salad:
Tear the kale leaves into bite sized pieces and toss them with the chicken, the tomatoes, the avocado and as much dressing as you like until everything is well mixed and coated with dressing. Hit with a generous squeeze of lime juice and toss again.
We served this with parmesan bread, but the recipe calls for parmesan crisps.
EXTRA Midnight Bolognese (adapted from A. Guarnaschelli, The Home Cook)
Timing: Less than 45 minutes (a good Sunday Gravy Bolognese takes all day)
Ingredients: Serves 6 or more
2 oz. of pancetta, finely chopped
1 ½ lbs. ground beef (chuck)
28 oz. Can of whole San Marzano tomatoes (I used a can of ‘small-diced’ – a lot less trouble)
1 lb. of dried rigatoni (Alex recommends De Cecco)
1 ½ to 2 cups of finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 medium carrot, grated
2 small yellow inner celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 medium shallots, finely sliced
5 cloves of garlic, mince (we used 2 – I don’t think there is enough cooking time for the larger amt.)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 cup of dry white wine
¼ cup of heavy cream
Cook the Sauce:
In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, for 1 minute – you want it to brown slightly.
Add the carrot, celery, shallots and garlic and season with sugar and 1 tablespoon of salt and cook for about 7 minutes – until the shallots become translucent.
Now add the canned tomatoes with their juices and bring to a simmer over low heat until the tomatoes break down – 10-15 minutes. [Note: The tomatoes won’t break down – hence my suggestions to use small-dice tomatoes and I still mash them a bit with a potato masher. If you use the whole San Marzanos, break them up with your hands before adding to the sauce and then mash them a bit as well]
Meanwhile, as the Sauce is cooking, cook the ground chuck:
Heat a large skillet over medium and add the canola oil When the oil begins to shimmer rapidly, add the ground beef in a single layer and season it with 2 teaspoons of salt and cook, stirring, as needed, until browned – about 8 minutes. [Note: the total salt in the recipe was too much – so I’d use 1 teaspoon of salt here – you can always add later.]
Finish the Sauce:
Pour the tomato sauce and cream over the ground beef and stir to blend, then simmer over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes and remove from heat.
Cook the pasta:
You must know this drill by now. Bring about 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil over high heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Season with ½ cup of salt. Add the rigatoni and stir to keep it from sticking to the bottom or clumping. Cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.
Finish the dish:
Reserve some of the pasta water (a ladleful or more) in case you need it to thin the sauce, then drain the rigatoni and add it to the Bolognese sauce and toss until well coated. Stir in some pasta water, if the sauce is too dry or thick.
Serve immediately, with the Parmigiano-Reggiano on the side.
A green salad to accompany makes this a perfect weeknight meal.
Oak Lawn in the hood