Buitoni loves Guys that can cook (and so do I!) - Guys, here’s your chance!
The research is in:
- 92% of girls say they like guys who can cook.
- 61% say they wish their guy cooked more often.
On October 1st, BUITONI® launches the Girls Like Guys Who Can Cook video contest on Facebook. To enter, Submit a video that shows how a guy can turn an ordinary meal into an extraordinary one with BUITONI® pastas and sauces. You could win $10,000 and a year’s supply of BUITONI pastas and sauces, and submit it by November 4th.
From November 6th-18th, just in time for Election Day, BUITONI fans will be able to vote on the videos entered, and receive a coupon for a $1 savings on BUITONI® refrigerated pastas and sauces, when they vote the first time! Submitters of the Top 15 videos that receive the most votes will be named finalists and will win a year’s supply of BUITONI® refrigerated pastas and sauces. A panel of judges will announce the $10,000 grand prize winner on November 29th.
So get your guy to heat things up in the kitchen for a chance to win $10,000!
There’s a great little place in my neighborhood called Todaro Bros. – a small, locally-owned deli and grocery store that sells fresh and imported Italian food and other gourmet groceries. I usually stop in at least once a week to peruse their cheese department and sample some of their fresh house-made mozzarella, just for kicks (it’s that good!).
It’s impossible to walk in there and just buy one thing – I’m like a kid in a candy store! So I found these gorgeous sun-dried tomatoes marinated in herbs and oil and picked up some fresh basil, oregano, chives, tomato sauce, cream and pasta to make a fresh, tasty summer pasta dish. I made it with spaghetti but you could serve this tasty Vodka Sauce with virtually any pasta you wish. It’s tangy, velvety and full of flavor, and the fresh basil gives it a peppery flavor which is rounded out by the creamy fresh mozzarella and sweet sun-dried tomatoes. I also threw in a few pieces of crumbled cooked bacon into the sauce to give it an extra layer of flavor (which is totally optional but also totally worth it!)
6-8 marinated sun-dried tomatoes, cut into halves or quarters
1 quart tomato sauce (store bought or homemade, pureed smooth)
1 cup of vodka
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
1 teaspoon fresh chives, chopped
Coarse sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
fresh unsalted mozzarella, torn into medium pieces, for garnish
fresh basil leaves, whole or torn, for garnish
red pepper flakes (optional), for garnish
1 pound package of cooked and drained pasta (spaghetti, linguine or penne)
Cook pasta in a large saucepan according to package directions (until al dente) and drain (reserving a few tablespoons of the pasta water for later); set aside. Meanwhile, cook the bacon over medium heat for about 15 minutes until crispy, drain and crumble.
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan or pot. Add garlic and shallots, saute until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add crumbled bacon and sun-dried tomatoes, add salt and pepper to taste. Saute for an additional 5 minutes and turn heat down to medium-low.
Stir in tomato sauce and vodka into the same saucepan and let simmer (approximately 20 minutes) until the sauce thickens and cooks down. Stir in the heavy cream, fresh oregano and chives and let simmer on low for another few minutes until sauce is heated through.
Return the pasta back to the large saucepot and ladle some of the sauce into it, along with a few tablespoons of reserved pasta water and toss to coat.
Ladle coated pasta into serving dishes and top with additional vodka sauce. Garnish with fresh basil leaves, mozzarella, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste.
Chef Pia Vallone / Mascarpone Mousse with Almond & Cookie Crumb
I love Italian food. I mean reallyloooove Italian food.. And who doesn’t? But especially authentic, homemade Italian – cooked with fresh ingredients and simple, healthy recipes that are downright divine. I recently took a cooking class at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City with Chef and Culinary Instructor Pia Vallone, who teaches the Techniques of Italian Cooking course. It was a 5-week intensive class 6 hours long. Lots to learn in a short amount of time. Chef Pia, a native of Italy and graduate of ICE, taught us a a variety of recipes from different regions of Italy spanning the basic recipes and techniques.
Wild Boar Ragu w/ Matriciani
We made fresh pasta and risottos, hearty ragus and fresh and creamy sauces, roasted and braised meats, seafood dishes, soups and stews,
Baked Tomatoes with Oregano / Baked Shrimp with Garlic, Parsley & Crumbs
roasted and braised vegetables (my favorites were the Roasted Tomatoes and Stuffed Wine-braised Artichokes), desserts such as Classic Tiramisu, Mascarpone Mousse and Rustic Italian Apple Crostata,
Radish, Spinach, Romaine and String Bean Salad
and healthy, fresh Italian salads and small plates.
Making Fresh Ricotta Gnocchi
We always had red and white Italian wine and fresh Italian bread to accompany, and learned the customs of eating the way the Italians do – start with an “antipasti” (appetizer), next order a “primo” (first course usually consisting of pasta, risotto, minestrone or other soups), then pick your main “secondi” (second course usually a meat or fish dish), have a small bit of “formaggi” (cheese) after your main, then on to “dolci” (sweets/desserts such as cheese, fruit, sweet wine, and coffee/cappucino).
Sage Brown Butter
We made some of the most amazing Italian food during this class and learned classic authentic cooking techniques that I was able to bring home with me to prepare my own delicious Italian food. In fact, I was so impressed with Pia’s class that I had to interview her to share her culinary background and story along with a recipe with all of you! Enjoy.
Can you tell me a little bit about your culinary training and professional background? What was your first job as a Chef and what was that like?
My first and only hands-on restaurant experience was in an Italian restaurant in London (cannot remember the name of the restaurant), near Victoria Station, in the summer of 1978. A friend of mine who worked as an executive chef there, offered me a job as a sous chef. After a month of hard work, I had to leave the restaurant, because my visa was about to expire and soon after, I returned to Italy. The second experience related to food, was working for several years as a bookkeeper for a restaurant and corporate catering. There I learned so much about food and was exposed to new ingredients and flavor profiles, although I worked in the establishment’s office. As for training, I graduated from The Institute of Culinary Education in NYC and hold a Culinary Arts diploma and a Pastry and Baking Arts diploma. I currently work at ICE as a Manager of Kitchen Assistants and as a Recreational Chef Instructor, though I have worked in different areas in the company, within the past 10 years.
When did you realize you wanted to be a Chef? Who inspired you most as a young cook and what did you learn from them?
I always loved cooking and eating, but I began to spend time experimenting with recipes from various kinds of cuisines in my home kitchen, cooking for friends when I arrived to New York in 1980. Wanting to get involved with food and becoming a chef was a second career change for me, which began in 2001.
My greatest inspiration was my father, who was a gourmand and a terrific cook. I spent many hours in the kitchen with him during my childhood, helping out, observing him and absorbing all the knowledge I could. From my father, I learned passion, love and appreciation of good food and the importance of using fresh ingredients.
Can you tell us a little bit about your culinary style and what makes your menus and recipes unique?
My style is mainly rustic. I like rustic food for its simplicity and because it is nourishes the body and soul. My menus and recipes are unique, because the ingredients I use are accessible and inexpensive.
Is there a difference in the recipes you create/the food you eat in Italy versus the Italian food here in the United States and what are the main differences?
The difference between food in Italy and food here…? Food in Italy is extremely fresh, mostly organic and seasonal. Its flavor(s) cannot be replicated in dishes cooked outside of the Country. Food in Italy is also quite simple. In fact, most of the best food I have ever eaten there was prepared with just a few ingredients. On the contrary, Italian American food is the result of ‘imported’ traditions and transformations, mostly due the immigrant’s longing for the ‘Old Country’. Immigrants, who arrived here tried to capture flavors and freeze memories, by utilizing similar ingredients grown in a different terroir. Nowadays though, great Italian chefs live here in the States, so the differences between Italian food in Italy and the US is narrowing down.
In your opinion, what are the most important elements when creating a recipe from scratch?
The most important elements are: fresh ingredients, simplicity and focus, Make sure to tastes the food while cooking it.
What is your signature dish or your favorite recipe?
My favorite dish is ‘Roman Style Tripe’, a dish that brings back childhood memories.
What is your favorite spice or ingredient to cook with and why?
I love black pepper, which I use in all savory recipes. Besides liking its pungent flavor, I add it to dishes because it helps improve digestion.
What is your favorite cooking gadget or kitchen item you can’t live without and why?
I own many gadgets and often buy the new ones that are the latest invention in the market, but always tend to use the familiar ones over and over. A gadget I cannot live without is a hand held grater, because it is efficient and does not use too much space in the kitchen.
Do you have any advice for aspiring chefs and home cooks?
Start by cooking a simple recipe, one with 4 or 5 ingredients. Learn basic skills and techniques at first and then move on to a larger repertoire. Patience, practice and repetition are important to achieve success with cooking, as with other things in life.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?
Yes. I am always looking to inspire others to cook. It is a pleasure to see that people are interested in cooking and familiarizing themselves with ingredients. Sharing passion for food and cooking with people is an all-around relaxing experience for me.
Spring Vegetable Soup
Spring Vegetable Soup
Yield: serves 6
2 small carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 small zucchini, diced
1 small butternut squash, diced
1 bunch escarole, chopped
½ cup peas, frozen
1 tablespoon basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for bread and for drizzling on soup
4 quarts chicken stock
1 small ciabatta bread
Sea salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Sauté carrots, celery and onions in a large stock pot over medium heat, for approximately 5 minutes, making sure that you stir the vegetables while they cook.
Add chicken stock to the pan. Increase the heat to high, cover the pan, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 10-15 minutes.
Slice bread into 1” thick slices. Brush slices with the additional olive oil on both sides and place in a sauté pan over low heat. Turn bread slices once and cook until they are golden brown. Place bread in a tray and lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Set aside.
Add butternut squash to the stockpot and cook for 3 minutes.
Add zucchini and peas to the stockpot and cook for 3 more minutes.
Add escarole, basil, parsley, salt and pepper and cook for 4 additional minutes.
Remove two ladles of soup from the stockpot and puree in a blender, then return the pureed soup to the pot (the puree will thicken the soup). Stir and cook for 1 minute, then turn off the heat.
Add some grated cheese into the soup and stir. Ladle soup in individual bowls, drizzle oil and sprinkle additional cheese.
Last week I was looking for a fun place to go for happy hour with some friends, particularly one with some food and drink specials that didn’t look like a college fraternity party just swooped in with beer and peanut shells on the floor. I found Barmarche, a lovely little fusion place on the corner of Spring Street and Elizabeth Street in the heart of Nolita.
When we arrived around 5 pm, it was still a bit early so the place wasn’t crowded at all. The waiter immediately greeted us and offered the best seat in the house at a corner nook near the window. The interior was impressive with its crown moldings around the bar and windows, its antique chandeliers and whitewashed tin ceilings – almost a bit fancy for my taste, but charming all the same. The tables were donned with small votive candles, and the music and dim lights gave it a cozy, romantic ambiance – like the bistros you would find on the streets in Paris.
The happy hour drink menu had a great selection of $6-7 wines, bubbly and cocktails, and offered a variety of Italian, French, Mediterranean and Mexican small plates to choose from.
We shared the bacon hummus which was absolutely delicious – smooth and creamy, topped with chunky bacon and whole chickpeas, lemon and parsley, served with a side of homemade crispy tortilla chips. (It tasted a whole heck of a lot better than the picture looks too – the lighting wasn’t ideal for shooting!)
Popcorn Shrimp w/ Chipotle Aioli
The popcorn shrimp was nice too – it came out steaming hot with a crispy, light batter (similar to tempura) and was served with a spicy chipotle aioli for dipping on the side. More nibbles on the menu included mixed olives, charcuterie and cheese, spicy guacamole, salads and calamari. If you want more of a meal for happy hour, they also offer shrimp or bass taquitos or a classic grass-fed beef cheeseburger and frites. The dinner menu offers the same small plates and salads but with a larger selection, and also includes entrees such as Truffle Shrimp Risotto, Roast Chicken, Rib Eye Steak and Frites, or Mediterranean Branzino served over sauteed greens.
Overall I was pleased, but think it might be a nicer place for a romantic dinner or cocktail brunch on the weekend than for happy hour with friends.
Barmarche is open for brunch from 10 am to 4 pm on weekends, mid-day from 4 pm to 6:30 pm on weekends, happy hour from 5 pm to 6:30 pm everyday (except Saturday), and dinner from 6:30 pm – 11:30 pm Sunday through Thursday and through 12:30 am on Friday and Saturday.
I don’t know about you, but I am completely obsessed with Anthropologie. Everything in that store has a handcrafted, creative, bohemian feel that makes me want to throw on a pair of sandals and a sundress and move to California. The home store is a mecca full of beautiful dishes, plates and table settings and the kitchen and cooking area is a must-see for the foodie and cook in the house. Gorgeous hand-painted plates and ceramics, cookbooks, kitchen gadgets, pottery, linens, and oh my, the cute aprons! Totally love this place. Find this fun, cool stuff online or in retail stores.
The next time you’re in New York City, you must visit the Chelsea Market in the Meatpacking District – if only for the FOOD!! My favorite place in there is buon Italia, an Italian food store that sells fresh cheese, butter, meat, fish, olives, bread, and pasta. Inside is every Italian imported foodstuff you could ever dream of: truffles and capers, olive oils and vinegars, coffees, teas and chocolates, sauces, spreads and preserves, pastas, grains, nuts and spices…you name it, they got it! It’s a foodie haven and impossible to pass by (or leave once you enter!) Everything in the store is fresh and authentic Italian, and reasonably priced too. You won’t walk out of there without an Italian feast ready to be made at home – this I promise you.
buon Italia, Chelsea Market
75 9th Ave, New York NY 10011 | 212 633 9090
I discovered these lovely sauces when I attended the Just Food Conference in NYC and love the tasty flavor and heat. Harissa is a traditional Moroccan red pepper sauce made with red chiles, red bell peppers, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar and salt. Creator Mina, a native from Casablanca, learned how to create this luscious spicy sauce from a neighbor when she was 16, and experimented over the years to develop her own recipe. This sauce is delicious as a condiment with a kick – pair it with lamb, BBQ chicken, or grilled scallops, or use it as a base in a tagine (a North African meat and vegetable stew served in an earthenware pot) served with couscous or rice. The sauce comes in mild, medium or spicy (my favorite!) and can be ordered online at Abe’s market.
I found these delicious little treats on a recent excursion to The Cellar at Macy’s on 34th Street in NYC. Anna’s Thins are crispy, thin and come in four flavors: Ginger, Orange, Chocolate Mint and Almond. They have just the perfect amount of sweetness, are delicate and crunchy, and totally melt in your mouth. I dipped the Ginger thins in a vanilla latte which was delicious – another tasty idea would be to crumble them over butternut squash ravioli for a touch of some sweet crunch, or use them to make a cheesecake or pie crust. According to Anna’s and Swedish tradition, these crunchy thins can bring you good luck too. Simply place one of the cookies in the palm of your hand, then make a wish. Tap the cookie in the middle with your index finger – if it breaks into three pieces, your wish will come true. Sweet!
I love these fun, clever crackers by 34 Degrees! Super light and crispy, these flatbreads are also made with all natural ingredients. They have 6 different flavors: lemon zest, whole wheat, cracked pepper, rosemary, original and sesame. Great with cheese and are an awesome alternative to bread – pair brie with prosciutto, arugula and fig for a great snack. Top the crisps with smoked salmon, an herbed chicken salad or southwestern shrimp salad. If you want a mini-dessert, try layering mascarpone cheese and lemon curd topped with a mint sprig or spread them with peanut butter, honey, and almonds. I really love how light and airy they are…they really let the toppings shine and are also great on their own. Cute design too!
I found this delectable chocolate spread when I was at Buon Italia (see store info above) in Chelsea Market. It’s kind of like Nutella, but even better! It’s made with Acacia Honey, Piedmont hazelnuts and cocoa and has a sweet, creamy, chocolate-y, nutty flavor, with a hint of honey – this stuff is addicting! Delicious on toast, crackers, pancakes or simply by itself. Beware: don’t try this stuff at home alone.
On a recent trip to Chelsea Market, my friend and I were in search of a healthy lunch and a glass of wine. We discovered Friedman’s Lunch – a great little spot inside the market that serves up fresh, local and organic food. Friedman’s Lunch was named after Milton Friedman, the famous economist, who popularized the expression “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”. And while the lunch there isn’t free, it’s certainly delicious and reasonably priced.
Friedman’s has a fun, buzzing atmosphere with an open kitchen, friendly waiters, music, large mirrors and chalkboard menus making it a welcome spot for a cozy lunch while shopping at the market. The menu has a great assortment of comfort food including down-home favorites such as buttermilk fried chicken, beef brisket burgers, two-bean turkey chili and grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup.
Friedman’s Lunch is committed to using organic ingredients, mostly from local food purveyors around New York. Their brunch and dinner menus offer a wider variety of salads and breakfast dishes and delicious all the same. They’re open 7 days a week and also deliver with online ordering. Definitely worth a trip (if only for the gooey grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup!)
Friedman’s Lunch Chelsea Market
75 Ninth Ave, New York, NY 10011 | 212.929.7100
I discovered this great line of handcrafted artisan coffees at the Coffee and Tea Festival last weekend in NYC. With all the coffee and tea brands overwhelming me at the show, this one particular brand stood out. Why? First off, they have about 100 different flavors that will knock your socks off: Vanilla Macadamia, Banana Caramel, Chocolate Irish Cream, Crème Brulee, Holiday Sugar Cookie, Kahlua Cappuccino, Jamaican Me Crazy…and the list goes on. They also offer a line of specialty and organic/fair trade coffees (Costa Rican, Brazilian, Kenya-AA, Sumatra, Columbian, etc.) The best part of all is that it’s a local New York brand originating in Long Island, and the owners are passionate about making fresh roasted coffee on a daily basis and handcrafting all of their unique flavors. You can purchase their coffees online and at several retail locations in LI, NJ and CT. Next stop is Manhattan!
I don’t know about you, but I love salt. Not overdone, of course, and not just regular table salt. I’m talking REAL salt. Big, flaky, sea salt. The GOOD stuff. Falksalt is a Swedish brand that has been making this good stuff for over 180 years, and is made with the advice of professional gourmet chefs. This is serious salt, folks. Big, chunky, crystal flakes; so beautiful you almost don’t want to take it out of the package. Falksalt has a line of flavors that will knock your socks off: Wild Garlic, Wild Mushroom, Smoked, Citron, Rosemary, Red Chili, Chipotle, Black and Natural. Perfect for sprinkling over fresh or roasted veggies, rimming a fancy cocktail or for crusting a beautiful piece of fish or steak. This is not your everyday table salt – save it for a delectableoccasion.
Joseph Joseph is a cool brand I discovered that makes fun, colorful, modern kitchen and cooking tools. With their bright colors and sleek, edgy designs, you can’t pass these up. I bought the 5-in-1 Unitool – which basically gives you well, 5 utensils in 1: slotted spoon, turner, cutting tool, solid spoon and spatula. Even better, it’s safe for non-stick cookware and heat resistant up to 480 degrees. Love it! I also got the Nest 6 Multicolor Prep Bowl Set that comes with six kitchen items in one: 4 measuring cups, and a small and medium mixing bowl, that fit nicely together and come in gorgeous bright colors to brighten up your kitchen. Check out their other cool tools online, or find them at Sur La Table or The Cellar at Macy’s. Fun!
Kristen Hess is a NYC-based food stylist and photographer, writer.
Her professional background is in advertising, design and creative direction, marketing and social media for many well-known food and beverage brands.
She is passionate about food and travel, art and design, photography, theatre and film and all things creative.
Food Styling & Photography Portfolio: http://www.kristenhess.com