Ball so hard.

Ball so Hard

Real, straight talk: It has taken me about 4 winters to perfect this recipe so be grateful I’m opening up and letting you into my kitchen with my fames-within-my-inner-circle meatball recipe. Ya dig?

Ok, now that we’re done worshipping at the alter of the stove (my stove, obv). Let me start my saying this. I am a huge a meatball lover. I’ve had The Meatball Shop balls, Batali’s balls, your nonna’s balls, your tia’s balls. You name it, I’ve belly-ed it. However, being somewhat OCD in the kitchen, I scoured the internets, took techniques from cooking school and interrogated your Nonna bordering on water torture (true) to perfect and refine my meatball ‘n sauce recipe. I call this, CATEGORICALLY, the best meatball recipe. Ever. EK Out.


I use a simple, tart, tomato-y sauce to compliment the balls. Obv Marcella Hazan’s cult recipe is boss. Go easy on the salt as the meatballs have Pecorino Romano cheese incorporated. You can always add salt, but you can’t take it away #evasays

28 ounces whole peeled tomatoes from a can.  (San Marzano only please)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter (if you use salted butter, careful adding any more salt)
1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and halved
Salt to taste

  1. Chop the whole tomatoes into ½ inch cubes
  2. Put the tomatoes, onion and butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Bring the sauce to a simmer then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for about 45 minutes stirring occasionally.


I like a meatball with a lighter mouth feel so don’t overwork the balls by over handling

2 pounds ground beef, veal and pork (fresh from the butcher please!)

4 large cloves garlic, grated

1 cup onion, grated

1 egg (reserve 1 more in case mixture is not wet enough)

3/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

1 teaspoon of salt

ground black pepper to taste

2 cups stale bread, cubed

Whole milk

  1. Combine the stale bread, grated garlic and grated onions in a bowl and mix to combine. Cover with whole milk. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes to soften.
  2. Combine the meat, egg and Pecorino Romano with the bread mixture and mix very well with your clean hands. Season with salt and a few turns of fresh ground pepper. The mixture should be very wet. Add another egg if needed.
  3. Make balls slightly larger than a golf ball. Careful with too munch handling. These pups need their space.
  4. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Brown meatballs in batches and place into 325 degree oven until cooked through. About 15 minutes.
  5. Once the meatballs are done, place gently into simmering sauce for about 15 minutes.
  6. My favorite way to enjoy this dish is with a few slices of good bread and topped with fresh parsley. I find pasta unnecessary with this dish.

Makes about 20 balls.

Oh. If you are a weirdly psychotic about calories, Mama did the count for you:

117 calories per ball.

Holler at me with ?’s.

In the height of summer.

She read Lucky Peach while making a peach crumble for friends

On a Saturday in August, I was home in NYC. A rare occasion for a beach and summer loving gal. After the wonderful brunch (a meal I usually deplore), I headed to the Union Square Greenmarket, almost a home-away-from-home. A place where my mother took me when I was young every chance she got – her office being very nearby and her love of food ruling all. Plowing through the fresh and colorful high summer produce, I happened upon juicy, smiling, sunny peaches. A peach crumble was in the near future…

I adapted this recipe from Orangette. Deleting the cinnamon and ginger (unnecessary and too overpowering for such a bright fruit) and adding ground almonds for depth and nuttiness. This recipe can be adapted for all summer fruits.

For the peaches:
2 Tbsp. lightly packed brown sugar
1 ½ Tbsp. all-purpose flour
8 to 10 ripe peaches, pitted and slices

For the topping:
Scant ¾ cup granulated sugar (about 4 to 4 ½ ounces)
1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup ground almonds

1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 egg, beaten well
7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Position a rack in the center of your oven, and preheat the oven to 375°F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the seasoning for the peaches: the brown sugar, and flour. Add the peaches, and gently stir to coat. Arrange the peaches evenly in an ungreased deep 9-inch pie plate.

In another medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the topping: the granulated sugar, flour, ground almonds, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to blend well. Add the egg. Using your hands, mix thoroughly, squeezing and tossing and pinching handfuls of the mixture, to produce moist little particles. Sprinkle evenly over the peaches.

Spoon the butter evenly over the topping, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is browned and the peaches yield easily when pricked with toothpick. Cool.

Serve crumble warm or at room temperature, with crème fraîche or unsweetened whipped cream.

Yield: about 6 servings

Note: To reheat leftovers, it’s best to do it slowly, in an oven set to 300 degrees.

Le Cochon//Momofuku Ssam Bar Sunday pig-in

Eight gastronauts.

Sunday at 12pm.

Momofuku Ssam Bar “bo ssam” lunch.

Heaven is a place on Earth…

Bibb Lettuce + 4 sauces. Red chili + soybean paste, ginger + scallion, kimchee, pureed kimchee
Bibb lettuce + ginger/scallion sauce
PORK BUTT. Pinch it.

I’ve been to David Chang’s Ssam Bar a number of times but never for the Bo Ssam. Not until a friend finally held the reins and made a reservation for a long Sunday lunch.

Not much to be said here and that the beauty of it! Wrap tender pork butt in lettuce with white rice, add one of the four sauces and maybe an oyster. Simple and incredibly flavorful. Spicy, salty, tender and crunchy. The genius part is that you get to eat with your hands and doesn’t everything taste better when its utensil free? Ya.

You don’t need to order starters but being eight little pigs, we had to. It would be off brand if we didn’t. Start with the Steamed Pork Buns, Bread & Butter (that butter would be lardo) and the Buttermilk Biscuit which is a glorifed bacon, egg and cheese sandwich –  David Chang doing what he does best – glorifing the ordinary. No underlying pun intended. Sorta.

The Avery “White Rascal” White Ale is tops with all this pork fat.Washs down cold and clean.

I’m still thinking about the pork. Is that sad or what?

from the website:

q: what does the bo ssäm include?
a: the bo ssäm (which is korean for enclosed or wrapped) includes a whole slow cooked pork shoulder, a dozen oysters, white rice, bibb lettuce, ssäm jiang (korean bbq sauce), kimchi and ginger scallion sauce. the dish is essentially pork and condiments wrapped in lettuce.

q: how much is it?
a: $200 for your entire party. not including other food and drinks ordered or tax and tip.

q: what are the available time slots?
a: we offer the bo ssäm at dinner and lunch. for dinner, sunday to thursday, 5, 6, 6:30pm. friday and saturday, 5:00, 5:15, 5:45pm and 11, 11:30pm. the lunch bo ssäm is offered everyday at 12, 12:30, 1pm.

Momofuku Ssam Bar
207 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(212) 254-3500

Faustina//not quite Scarpetta…yet

Hello, Chef.

We knew it was early to be trying Faustina given that it’s been open for 2 weeks but being huge fans of Scarpetta, we really could not resist the temptation of Scott Conant’s wise “Italian-as-interpreted-by-other-cultures” ways on a cold winter night.

It began with five of us in the rather masculine bar area which is interesting considering the restaurant is “named after a Roman empress whose monument is the only building inside the Roman Forum dedicated to a woman”. The decor runs towards the Scarpetta equation of dark leather cocktail seats, tall wood tables and dark tiles lining the undulating ceiling. Not bad considering the team had four weeks to transform the former-and-never-opened Table 8 space into Faustina.

As we were drinking rather delicious but uninspired cocktails in a cold room and mulling over the sharable menu choices, we had agreed to start with the roasted beets with pink peppercorns and taleggio, tuna and avocado “salad”, and Mediterranean octopus with fingerling potatoes and olive oil. These dishes were all about the combination of flavors and the whole of the dishes being more than the sum of its parts: the filthy and stinky taleggio creates a nice balance with the sweet beets while the combination of tuna + avocado has exisited since time eternal. Nice, but again, uninspired.

The second course was all about the pastas: naturally, we had to order Chef Conant’s self-proclaimed “sex-in-a-bowl” pasta with sea urchin and tomato sauce. We also decided on the cannelloni with burrata and baby tomatoes to satisfy the burrata addict in all of us. Surprisingly, the cannelloni won by leaps and bounds. It was hearty, homey, warm and heavy; just delicious and gooey. Everything you want in cannelloni. The sea urchin pasta? Well, if that was “sex-in-a-bowl” then I’ll have to slip out the door quietly at 4am. It just wasn’t that good…but I wanted it to be…

Next up was the grande dame of dinner: the meat course. We tried the short ribs of beef with spaetzle plus the pork belly with potato and grain mustard, and for sides the eggplant with pork shoulder, truffled cabbage and the mushrooms. Seven words for the short ribs: do it to me one more time; the tender texture and flavorful meat coupled with the chewy texture of the spaetzle was a real delight. The pork belly was also rather tasty especially with the texture-lending, crisp piece of bacon it was served with. The sides were just ok (save for the woodsy and very fresh mushrooms).  The eggplant and pork shoulder was overpowered  by a heavy hand of rosemary.The cabbage was as good as anything “truffled”.

The three desserts we ordered were accompanied by a nice bottle of Muscado d’Asti which finished off the meal on a civilized-version-of-inebriation tip. The date pudding with currant compote and prune ice cream was a clear winter winner; the slightly sticky and dense pudding (more of a moist “cake”) wasn’t too sweet and left us with a warm and fuzzy holiday dessert feeling.

I won’t dare to comment on the service. It’s not fair given Faustina is two weeks old and still has a few kinks to work out before it reaches Scarpetta A-list level.

All in all a warm, hearty meal with dynamite potential. I will be back to for short ribs and date pudding. And, maybe, another chance to sneek a peek at Scott Conant.

Faustina @ The Cooper Square Hotel
25 Cooper Square, NYC
(212) 475-3400

A rhapsody on raw milk cheese//don’t stop ’til you get enough

Well, I am back home in NYC now. I just finished my 10 month Le Cordon Bleu/gastronomic/living-the-life stint in Paris. I miss it so much. The lights, the art, the beauty, the beautiful babies, the food stores…but what I miss most is the stinky, filthy, whore-y cheese…

Know your roll.

Cheese tastes different in France. Better. Stinkier. Filthier. My fridge was dense with scents and flavors one is tempted to describe as sweaty, oppressive, dank and sultry. It doesn’t take long for the knowledge to seep in that these flavors are due to the awesome power of unpasteurized (or raw) milk which is entirely legal and actually encouraged to consume in France. Once back stateside, I had a mini panic attack that grew into a full breakdown in the cheese aisle at Whole Foods. Things will never be the same for me and my fromage.

Unpasteurized or raw milk cheeses get their complex flavors from the (duh) raw milk which is produced by cows who graze on the land, eating acorns, wild greens, wild garlic and a large variety of herbs. Since no two cows are raised the same or eat the same things, there is great variety and seasonality in raw milk cheeses. In France, the cows, the milk and the farms are trusted and as such raw milk cheeses are not a food safety issue. Here in the US, we don’t (and should not) trust that our cattle are grass fed, healthy and free of disease unless they come from very small, artisanal farms.

The United States Food and Drug Administration and the USDA hold hands and  govern the consumption of raw milk products. Due to The Dictatorship, raw milk cannot be transported across state lines with the intent of human consumption. Unpasteurized cheeses are actually legal in the US…as long as they have been aged at least 60 days in an area held at 35 degrees Farenheit. During the aging process, the cheese becomes more acidic, killing most potential sources of bacterial infection. This leads to what I call “zero-personality cheese”. This process takes away much of the filthy characteristics true to cheese such as the very well known and popular Camembert. Go to France and taste the Camembert de Normandy and it is an entirely different being. It’s Mozart versus Elton John on the piano, same instrument, looks the same but sounds entirely different.

Alas, you can get some very good cheese here in New York City if you drop the food snob act (ugh, Mom, do I haaave tooooo?).


2 Park Avenue
(212) 725-8585
*other retailers sell Artisanal cheese. List is on website

408 Broome Street
New York, NY 10013
*specializes in products from Spain

Murrays Cheese
254 Bleecker St.
New York, NY
*other locations

Saxelby Cheese
Essex Street Market
New York, NY
*FYI: Anne Saxelby sells fine American cheese

Stinky Brooklyn
261 Smith St
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 522-7425

Bedford Cheese Shop
218 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

Brooklyn Larder
228 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 783-1250

Yummy babies:
Strong – Livarot
Stronger – Mereilles
Strongest – Vieux Lille
Goopiest – Petit Soumantain
*taken from a cheese tasting with Chef Becs in Paris

Raw Milk Facts

How a French producer creates pasteurized Camembert [NYT]