Latin Extravaganza at the Connors

May 17, 2010

Parties sometimes come together without much of a reason. Our friend Sandi Levitsky-Connor, who we’ve profiled recently with her Jedi-master empanada making skills, decided to have a mega cooking and eating session at her house and invite a couple of friends over. As it was also my wife’s birthday that week, it also became an occasion for eating cake, which needs no excuses at all.

Sandi, who is a fantastic cook, and loves all sorts of cuisines, decided to make this party Latin themed. Dishes from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Trinidad, Peru, Honduras and Spain were prepared, with the assistance of our friends Eric Eisenbud and Efrain Raices from NJ Les Marmitons.

Green plantains. When you see this on a table, you know what’s coming.

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The Ultimate Potato Kugel

March 27, 2010

by Rachel Perlow

Jason asked me to share my recipe for potato kugel with you all. This is the best potato kugel you will ever eat. It’s a pain in the ass to make, but so worth it. Originally, it was created for Rosh Hashanah in 2005, but I made it for the next couple of Passovers as well. However, since we have started eating more healthfully, I have avoided making it. It is just too damn good, I can’t trust myself to be near it. Let alone making the extra dish to keep at home. Oy!

But please, you make it, enjoy, don’t think about all the carbs and fat, saturated fat at that. Go for it, and think kind thoughts towards me as I go without. Sniff. (Is the Jewish guilt coming through loud and clear?)

I was inspired by a couple of recipes, including one from our dear friend Melissa Goodman, combining them with Jason’s inspired idea to add caramelized onions. And schmaltz. You’ve got to use the schmaltz.

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The Pizza of Affliction

March 26, 2010

Matzah Pizza of Affliction by you.

Ah yes. The Matzah Pizza.

Many gentiles know of Matzah, and that Jews eat it on Passover. However, even those that do know of Matzah and when it is consumed probably do not realize that Matzah is not just consumed during the Seder itself, but for seven days during the entire Feast of Unleavened Bread.

That means if you are an observant Jew, you are stuck with eating this stuff several days after the turkey and brisket leftovers have all been consumed.

While Matzo meal is used for a number of enjoyable culinary applications, such as the beloved Matzo Ball Soup, and Kugels, Matzot themselves don’t rate particularly high on the enjoyment scale on their own.

Oh, there’s Matzo Brei,  but at that point the physical properties of the shitty cracker in question have been completely transmuted into something resembling French Toast.

So Jews have been trying for an eternity to do something ELSE with Matzot. Sometime in the 20th century, American Jews got the idea of using  them  for half-assed salami sandwiches, PBJs and the like.

And then in the 50′s or the 60′s the Matzah Pizza came, which no sane pizza enthusiast would ever put in their mouth or even remotely call a Pizza. Especially since virtually all Matzah Pizzas were made with horrible processed jarred sauces which were Kosher for Passover knockoffs of stuff like RAGU or Pizza Quick.

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NJ Dining: White Manna (UPDATED)

March 5, 2010

Welcome, Anthony Bourdain:No Reservations viewers! I’ve added a number of shots to this post that I took during the filming of “Obsessed”. Enjoy.

White Manna
358 River St, Hackensack, NJ
(201) 342-0914

Fast food is not something I indulge in frequently, and when I do, I tend to prefer the classic Americana kind rather than the big chains. White Castle is an exception, just because of the uniqueness of the product.

If the hours are right, and the moons are properly aligned, and my stomach says “throw your best at me, you son of a bitch!” then I head over to my very favorite Jersey burger place of all — White Manna, on River Street in Hackensack.

 

White Manna as seen in daylight. Photo by “Daniel”, eG Forums

White Manna is a tiny little diner structure that can seat about maybe 15 people, tops. The story goes that the original was built in 1937 prior to the 1939 Worlds Fair exhibition in Flushing, NY, was then used at that event, and then later moved to New Jersey. The Hackensack location is not the original, it was built in 1946.

The “Original” location in Jersey City also serves hamburgers and was started by the original owner of both restaurants, however they are no longer related to each other.

All this historical stuff aside, it’s pretty much acknowledged by everyone who has been to both that the better burgers are at the Hackensack location.

When Tony Bourdain asked me where we should go eat when arranging our interview for No Reservations, I could only think of one place — the tiny little belly bomb joint which has over the last few years probably accrued more web traffic on this blog than any other.

There’s No Reservations at White Manna. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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NJ Dining: Aleppo Restaurant (UPDATED)

February 26, 2010

Note: This article originally appeared as “Off the Broiler Economic Stimulus Dinner II”. With the recent review of this restaurant in the New York Times, we thought it would be appropriate to raise it to the foreground and update several photos.

Aleppo Restaurant
939 Main Street, Paterson NJ
(973) 977-2244

ESD II Collage by you.

For our second in our series of Economic Stimulus events, we enlisted former Bergen Record restaurant writer and fellow food blogger Victor Sasson to arrange a lunch for us at one of South Paterson’s best Syrian restaurants, Aleppo, after which we went shopping at some of the local bakeries and markets.

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NJ Dining: Huong Viet

February 15, 2010

Huong Viet
358 Passaic Avenue, Nutley NJ

When your favorite restaurants close, there is always a mourning period. Sometimes, you know that they are going to be gone forever, but in other cases, you get a glimmer of hope, hearing rumors that they may open again somewhere else.

One such restaurant was Little Saigon in Montclair, a Vietnamese favorite with a loyal clientele. Little Saigon had closed before, due to a fire in its original Nutley location on Franklin Avenue in 2003. The restaurant  re-opened in 2005 in a much larger Montclair space on Elm Street. In October of 2009, Little Saigon closed suddenly and without any warning.

But late last year we heard rumors that the owners were going to re-open, and re-open it did, in the original town where it all started, in Nutley. However, “Little Saigon” is no longer — it has returned to business, with the same owners, as Huong Viet on Passaic Avenue, in a much more manageable space than its previous location.

Huong Viet is the new Pho King of Nutley. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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The Secret Ingredient is… Nothing.

January 30, 2010

For those of you who landed on this page today expecting extensive photographic coverage of the culinary competition in which Chef Jesse Jones of Heart and Soul Catering was to compete against Adam Weiss of Esty Street, only to find there are no photos at all, I deeply apologize. Due to circumstances which were completely out of my control, I was unable to cover today’s cooking event.

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