DeConstructed Paella

What to do with cooked lobster meat? Make a dish that many can eat with different dietary preferences.

Make your favorite rice with drained, chopped tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, shallots, turmeric. That’ll be a dish by itself for vegetarians.

In a separate stock pot, make Alfred Portale’s little necks and sauce, add the lobster meat, just to heat.

In a fry pan, sauté andouille or chorizo sausage.

In a saucepan, heat up a can of lobster bisque, add a little cayenne for a spicy sauce on the side.

Serve on separate platters with side plates of lemon wedges. Party on.

Wrestling Risotto

Risotto is a rice. Arborio most common. Gluten-free. Tried making risotto for the first time. With guests. Not the best idea. Did lots of research. Baking it. Parboiling it. Bottom line. You really have to stand there and stir it. Make it with just vegetables or scallops or lobster or shrimp. Mushrooms a must.

Martha Stewart and others have baked risotto recipes. Jason Santos says to parboil it for 9 minutes, then sauté it in a fry pan with wine and broth. Lidia Bastianich says ratio 3 cups liquid to 1 cup rice. Alfred Portale says 4 to 1. What is true for all is that the Italian arborio rice absorbs the flavor of any liquid used. So, that’s really important. Chicken broth and a very good dry white wine. Vegetable broth doesn’t work well. Creamier ingredients like mascarpone cheese will help the consistency. And cream itself. Lemon juice or zest at the end brightens the taste. Many spices necessary.

It’s a lot of work. Not worth it. I really don’t like risotto that much.

Best Dining 2013

New York City

Gramercy TavernFlatiron, best of best $$$$
Da Silvano, West Village, classic Italian $$$$
Lure FishbarSoHo, consistently good $$$
Next Door NobuTribeca, best fish  $$$$
MaysvilleFlatiron, interesting creative  $$$
Union Square CafeUnion Square, high standards met $$$$
La Mar CebicheriaFlatiron, fresh Peruvian, $$
Brasserie Les HallesFlatiron, delicious comfort food $$

Western Massachusetts

Blue Heron, Sunderland, Best in Valley $$$
Cafe Adam, Great Barrington, gazpacho $$$
Bistro Zinc, Lenox, Parisian staples $$
The Farm Table, Bernardston, eat at bar, risotto $$$
30 Boltwood, Amherst, renovated Lord Jeffrey Inn $$$

Lobster ShackWilliamsburg Snack Bar  Fresh value $
BakeryBread Euphoria, Haydenville, Bakery goodnot lunch $$
Italian Market/DeliFrigo’s, Springfield, VealDinners to go $$
Chinese/Japanese Delivery: Taipei TokyoNorthampton  $$

Top Contributor TripAdvisor

Zucchinetti 2014

Lots of new gizmos to shred zucchini and other squashes into spaghetti-like strips. I’ve always cut it myself. But, either way, it’s a rich dish with many fewer calories than pasta. Time for Zucchinetti Colitti. A rich dinner treat. I usually just cut 2-3 of them into fettucine or spaghetti-shaped strips.

Then sauté in a little olive oil until tender. Add chopped canned whole tomatoes or Rao’s sauce, dried basil, oregano, chopped garlic, pepperoncini to taste. Serve topped with shaved asiago or formaggi of your choice.

ChickPeas

Easy Hummus: Drain a large can of garbanzo beans (chick peas). Put in a blender. Season with crushed black pepper, red pepper flakes, to taste. Drizzle in 1/2 cup Drew’s Lemon Goddess Tahini dressing. Pulse until blended but still thick enough for a dip-like consistency. Adjust dressing amount to taste and thickness. That’s it.

Garam Masalaish: Chop one large sweet onion and brown on the bottom of a medium sized stockpot in a little olive oil. Drain 2 large cans garbanzo beans and add to the onions on medium high heat. Stir. Add 1 can whole tomatoes. Stir. Add jalapeño peppers, chopped to taste. Season with 1/2 tsp. cardamom, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger, 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp. coriander, 1/4 tsp. turmeric, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. cloves, 1/4 tsp. garlic powder. Bring to boil covered, stir, then turn down to simmer. Can add par-boiled diced potatoes, frozen peas. Uncover and simmer until thick.