Pancetta and Brussels Sprouts Risotto

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1/2 pound Brussels Sprouts
1 cup Arborio rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 ounces pancetta, chopped
16 ounces chicken broth
1/4 white wine

Romano cheese grated

1. Remove the outer leaves and stems of the Brussels sprouts, rinse with water and cut in half (If very large Brussels sprouts, cut into quarters), set aside.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium pot, bring chicken broth to a boil. Gently put the Brussels sprouts into the boiling chicken broth. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes. With a small strainer, remove the
Brussels sprouts to a bowl and set aside. Keep the chicken broth to use when preparing the risotto.
3. In a large frying pan, add the olive oil and onion, saute until tender. Add the pancetta and cook a few minutes more, until golden. Add the Arborio rice to the pan and cook until
lightly toasted, continuously stirring while cooking. Add the white wine and continue cooking until the wine is absorbed.
4. With a ladle, spoon the chicken broth in the pan one ladle at a time until the liquid is absorbed before adding another ladle of chicken broth. Continue Until you have the last ladle of
chicken broth to add, then put the Brussels sprouts in the pan at the same time as the last ladle of chicken broth. Cook until rice is al dente, 10 to 15 minutes.
5. At this time taste the risotto, if a bit too hard, cook a few more minutes until more tender.
6. Serve immediately, garnishing with grated Romano cheese on top.
7. ENJOY! – “Risotto” is the new rice!

This recipe is one that originally came to me from an email newsletter I subscribe to called Sunday Pasta, which sends different recipes for Sunday dinner.
The website is garrubbo.com.

The combination of Brussels sprouts and pancetta in risotto piqued my interest enough to attempt to prepare this recipe. But the recipe was for twice the amount then I wanted to make, so I took the liberty of adjusting the ingredient amounts to half. My preference was to use chicken broth and Romano cheese in my version of the recipe and I eliminated the pepper.

The traditional Sunday dinner is disappearing from my own family’s dinners. Sunday dinner was sacred at one time. Dinner time was late afternoon, no one played with their cell phones and the meal would last for 3 hours. Whether dinner was at home or at an Italian restaurant it was never rushed. Just a few weeks ago, I tried to plan for my kids and grandkids to come to a Sunday dinner at our house in the upcoming weeks. Well, Sunday will not work out because of prior commitments, but Saturday will work. At this point, I am thrilled to have the family for dinner no matter what day of the week it is. Times are different but the value of sitting down to a meal together with generations of family remains the same. Of course, Sunday Pasta will be served!

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Breakfast Review – Little Crepe Street

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A few months ago, my good friend, Linda, and I planned a get together for brunch. Linda lives in Connecticut and I live in Westchester.  Our go to meeting place is Mt. Kisco because it is in-between as far as distance goes for both of us.

Mt. Kisco is a great town. There are stores for shopping and more places to eat then we realized.  Searching the internet for places to eat in Mt. Kisco was a bit overwhelming at first until the Little Crepe Street caught my eye.  Crepes were very popular years ago and I was very happy to relive a blast from the past.

When we first walked into the Little Crepe Street, we both thought it was interesting to say the least. There is a counter and they prepare the crepes right in front of you.  The décor is very bohemian looking, and comfortable.  We both needed to use the rest room and were told it is in the Little Kabab Station next door.  Mind you, a doorway size opening between the restaurants joins both restaurants together.  The one restroom was for both men and women and had graffiti painted on the door.  Linda was braver than I was and used the restroom first.  Her experience told me to wait for another restroom.  It was more like a janitor closet that served as restroom.  It was a bit crowded in there with the bucket and mop and other cleaning products.  Maybe it was there temporarily on that day.  Let’s hope so.  My suggestion is do not drink too much of anything while visiting the Little Crepe Street or next door at the Little Kabab Station.

Our waiter, Enwer, was seasoned, experienced and knowledgeable. He was helpful with suggestions when Linda asked about the many different choices of healthy drinks listed on the menu.  Linda chose the “Power To Do More” juice, which consisted of carrot, apple, beet, ginger and celery.  Linda enjoyed it so much, she took a to-go cup to bring the remaining juice with her to finish.

Linda ordered a veg crepe, which consisted of zucchini/peppers/onions/spinach/mushrooms and gruyere cheese. I ordered the chicken spinach crepe, which was made with chicken/spinach/onions/ goat cheese and béchamel sauce.  Linda and I split and shared the two crepes.  Both were amazing and we were delighted we came.  Our bill came to $32.75, without tip, which was average for brunch.

Definitely going back to the Little Crepe Street Restaurant for the crepes and nostalgia, just not the restroom!

Little Crepe Street, 29 East Main Street, Mt. Kisco, NY 10549

(914) 242-0200

New Rochelle Diner – Breakfast Review

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The “new” New Rochelle Diner opened directly across from the Home Depot over a year ago. Getting into the diner parking lot is a bit tricky, when turning around the bend from Main Street towards the Home Depot.  The entrance comes up fast so be ready for it.

The diner’s interior is popping with bright orange accent colors along with oversized photos of New Rochelle.  I loved the retro feel all around the diner, inside and out.  I met two friends for breakfast there a few weeks ago.  Their breakfast menu provided a wide and diverse selection of interesting items. Coffee is very important to me at breakfast.  It has to be good!  The coffee was okay, a bit too strong and not flavorful enough.  The second cup was better.  One friend ordered the pancakes, which she noted were cooked perfect and of generous size.  My other friend ordered a fresh mushroom omelet with home fries.  The omelet was well done and flavorful, home fries were average, just potatoes without onions or peppers.  I ordered the waffle.  It was cooked to my taste, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.  While the diner had real butter, they did not have real maple syrup.  (Most diners will have the real maple syrup for an extra fee.)  Frequent refills of coffee were offered, and Angel our waiter was very attentive and friendly.  The ladies rest room was spotless and very eye appealing, really done up right.  In my book, if the rest room is really clean, I assume the kitchen is as well.  Our bill came to $30.39 for three people, very reasonable.

Don’t wait for the next time you are going to Costco or Home Depot to visit the New Rochelle Diner. Make the New Rochelle Diner your place to go all the time!

Where do you go to breakfast? Please share the name and town of your favorite breakfast spot in the comment section.

New Rochelle Diner, 850 Main Street, New Rochelle, NY 10805,

914-637-7525

Moms in Cars Getting Coffee – Bluestone Coffee Co. Breakfast Review

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Jerry Seinfeld’s show, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, is one of my favorite binge TV addictions. After reading about the You Tube videos, my hands flew to the keyboard and I got hooked after the first episode. I now watch them on the Crackle channel on TV so I can get a dose of happiness in less than 30 minutes. I’m a huge fan of some of the great comedians featured in the show, and have become a fan of many more that were new to me.

My friend, Maura, lives in New Jersey. When I realized that an episode featuring Jerry Seinfeld and Stephen Colbert was filmed at a coffee place in Jersey, I knew it was a sign! I immediately contacted Maura and asked if the Bluestone Coffee Co. in Montclair, NJ was close to where she lived…and happily, it was. After some coaxing (ok, begging) she agreed to come with me to the Bluestone Coffee Co. to do a breakfast review. Along with the begging on my part, I also had to practically pinky swear not to talk to everyone we met. This is usually very difficult for me, but those are the sacrifices I make for Somebody’s Mom.

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We set out in Maura’s 2009 grey blue Chevy Malibu, the interior, unforgettable, because I forgot, the horsepower, I have no idea and really don’t care. Jerry would not be very proud of me, since I lack any and all car knowledge which he always talks about at the beginning of his show.
There was metered parking available on the street in front of the Bluestone Coffee Co., and a charming outdoor space dotted with black wrought iron tables and chairs with colorful flower center pieces and sugar sticks adorning each table. I confess I couldn’t resist snagging a couple of sugar sticks in my bag to research on the Internet later, of course, when Maura wasn’t looking. The atmosphere inside and outside was very Bohemian and relaxed. It felt like a favorite neighborhood hangout, very busy for a Thursday morning. Inside were bluestone tiles centered by wooden framed tables, hence the name Bluestone Coffee Co.

Maura felt like an early lunch and I felt like a late breakfast. She ordered the BLT on Texas toast with honey mustard on the side. I ordered the Zucchini Parmesan Frittata served with rosemary potatoes and toast. I chose the challah bread toasted without butter. To my dismay, they had no real butter pats, just the mystery whipped diner concoction – (is it butter, is it margarine? no one knows for sure). For our coffees, I ordered a delicious decaf cappuccino, and Maura ordered the special coffee for the day, Sumatra, a bold strong brew, but pleasantly pleasing to the palate. The Frittata was very good, but resembled a zucchini omelet with sprinkled parmesan on top. The rosemary red potatoes were more of a dinner potato and not a home fry breakfast potato. Not the way I prepare them at home, but good nonetheless. The bread tasted freshly baked and didn’t need any butter, which worked out for me. Maura’s BLT was superb, and she thought the accompanying honey mustard dressing was homemade with strong notes of both honey and mustard. All in all we had a very enjoyable experience. At $22.89 without a tip, our breakfast was reasonably priced for a specialty breakfast place. The rest room was unisex, never a favorite of mine. It was small and conjured up memories of those turn of the century tenement bathrooms you might see in an old movie, with the plunger right next to me ready for quick use. Happily, I didn’t need to use it on my visit.

It was a beautiful day and Maura knew of a cute bookstore close by, so we took a walk around. The bookstore could have been right out of the Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks movie, You Got Mail, bookstore. It really was that adorable, with kids reading books in the children’s section and cute little necklaces and writing pads for sale. Everyone seemed happy who was working there. Cashing out, I had bought Maura a gift of a necklace with a little bird, because she likes birds, and behind me, she cashed out with a gift for me of a writing pad I had admired a few minutes before. It felt like we were on a mini vacation, browsing in the bookstore, walking around town, eating out.

We may not be comedians in fancy cars, but we are moms in regular cars getting coffee and laughing at everything and nothing. Not much different than Jerry Seinfeld and Stephen Colbert, except for the fact we are not famous, (yet), if you ask me!

Bluestone Coffee Co., 123 Watchung Avenue, Montclair, NJ 07042 (973) 783-3523

Watchung booksellers, 54 Fairfield Street, Watchung Plaza, Montclair, NJ 07042, (973) 744-7177, http://www.watchungbooksellers.com

Sugar sticks from SUGART http://www.sugart.us

RITA’S RISOTTO BALLS

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Rita's Risotto Balls

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: difficult
  • Print

3 tablespoons butterDSC04318
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
3 cup + 3 ounces water

3 egg yolks
1/ 2 cup grated Romano cheese
1 tablespoon chopped Parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Italian bread crumbs
Canola oil

1. Melt the butter and olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add risotto and cook a few minutes. Add some of the water just to cover the risotto and simmer. Continue sly stir with a wooden spoon. As the risotto thickens, add more of the water at about 1 cup at a time, stirring frequently. Wait until each addition of water is almost completely absorbed before adding the next. When the rice has cooked for 15 minutes or more and most of the liquid has been incorporated, continue to cook a few more minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Do not overcook. When done, remove rice from the stove and scoop into a bowl.
2. Cool the risotto completely, not warm, cool (wait a few hours). Option – cook risotto and store in refrigerator overnight, before continuing recipe.
3. Take the cooled risotto and stir in the Parmesan cheese, parsley, egg yolks, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly with a spoon. Use your hands when ready to roll the risotto balls. Make them 1 to 1 1/ 2 inch round. The risotto will be sticky. Then roll the balls into the Italian bread crumbs. Place the risotto ball on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. This recipe makes 30 to 36 balls, depending on the size.
Place cookie sheet of balls into refrigerator for another hour.
4. When you are ready to fry, heat canola oil in a pot or deep fryer. Fry 6 to 8 balls at a time in the fryer basket for 3 to 4 minutes. Check balls, they should be a golden brown color. Drain the balls on paper towels. Serve immediately while still warm. Option – serve homemade tomato sauce on the side for dipping.
5. ENJOY – You say Rice, I say Risotto, either way it tastes Buona!

©  This recipe courtesy of Somebodys-Mom.com

Risotto Balls? I have had risotto and I have had rice balls, but risotto balls? My reaction exactly, until I tasted Rita’s last Christmas. I’ll never forget the lovely experience of my very first risotto ball.

Maria, my good friend for many years, had her mom staying with her over the holidays. I stopped by for an impromptu visit to say hello and spread some Christmas cheer with a platter of my homemade cookies. Of course, within minutes, I too was offered some of their cookies, but I declined since I was just about cookied out. However, when I was offered what appeared to be a rice ball, I was intrigued and went for it. I thought to myself, wait a minute – hold the show. I didn’t see the familiar sight of meat or peas in this small and delicate ball. The appeal was instantaneous, and I scarfed it down. I knew then that I had to make them myself!

Maria’s mom, Rita, has been making these risotto balls for years, just as long as her own mother, Gelsomina, had before her. Generational recipes handed down from mothers to daughters are my favorite kind of recipes. When the Christmas holidays ended and a new year began, I kept thinking about those risotto balls. Maria, I begged, “Can you get me your mom’s risotto ball recipe?” Finally, I got the call I’d been hoping for. It was Rita calling from her home in Florida, “Maria told me you want my risotto ball recipe.” When I asked her what brand of risotto she used, her response was, “I don’t know what it is, but they sell it in Florida.” Ya gotta love it!

After making the risotto balls, and receiving my family’s praise, I thought to myself – honestly, they’re good, but Rita’s are better. I believe this is one of those dishes that will get better over time. In fact, I’m pretty sure that after another 10 or 20 years, just maybe, my risotto balls will be just as good as Rita’s!

Rochelle Coffee Shop Breakfast Review

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I live in New Rochelle and I read my local New Rochelle paper, The City Review faithfully. I want to know what is happening in my hometown.

In the summer there was an article in The City Review written about a new diner and coffee shop that opened. The picture of the owners, Taso, Helen and Spiros Michialis, struck me as nice friendly people. As I read the article, I paid attention to the fact that they are open seven days a week early in the morning, and serve breakfast. We all know, Mela and I love to meet for breakfast. We now had a new place to check out.

On a recent Thursday morning, Mela and I pulled right into a parking spot in front of the Rochelle Coffee Shop inside the Quaker Ridge Shopping Center, located right near the Post Office. Immediately upon entering the coffee shop, we noticed its cozy, retro diner décor. Almost all of the stools at the counter were taken with what seemed to be regular customers, who were relaxed and chatting away. Mela and I took a seat at one of the many booths.

We were off to a great start with the coffee, which was tasty and smooth. Later on I asked Helen about the coffee and she told us that her husband and she herself tasted a lot of coffees before deciding on which one to serve. After all coffee is part of their name, so it better be good and it was.

The breakfast menu had a large selection to choose from. Mela and I chose a waffle and a spinach mozzarella egg white omelet with home fries and 7 grain toast to share. Everything was delicious. But in our haste to enjoy breakfast, I forgot to take a photo of the dishes.

My second trip to the Rochelle Coffee Shop was with my friend, Vivian. We shared the Challah French Toast and a western omelet with home fries and 7 grain toast. Truthfully, the coffee tasted even better the second time around if that is even possible. Everything was cooked to our liking. You just have to ask and your home fries can be made crispier. There is real butter pats but no real maple syrup. Surprisingly the syrup they do use is not too sweet, as some commercial syrups can be. Since my first visit to Rochelle Coffee Shop, it has become my go to place. Helen is always friendly, gracious and easy to talk to, which makes it an extra special treat to patron there.

Mela and my breakfast was $13.80, without tip, which I feel is very reasonable. Apparently, there is a special starting at 6:00 am and ending before 11:00 am breakfast Mondays through Fridays.

The sign, “Friends Gather Here”, hanging on the wall of Rochelle Coffee Shop, really is the place to go to for this new friend!

Rochelle Coffee Shop, 8 Quaker Ridge Road, New Rochelle, NY 10804 (914) 336-2727

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The Original Pancake House Breakfast Review

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We’re back! Mela and I are hitting the road again in our quest for some good eating breakfast joints.

My co-worker, Larry, a very trustworthy fellow foodie who’s really into no holds barred breakfasts, told me about a new place that opened recently in White Plains called The Original Pancake House. Larry had dined at The Original Pancake House in Rockland, and told me I should check it out.
We set out on a recent Sunday morning to find what we always hope will be our new “go-to” breakfast place. Could it be The Original Pancake House? We found metered parking right in front, and parking is free on Sundays….sweet! Parking any day other than a Sunday at 9:00 am may be difficult.
There was a large, welcoming poster in the window that we couldn’t miss, but nothing permanent at that time. Our waiter, Greg Hoffa, from White Plains, was upbeat and solicitous. The coffee was served quickly, and we both agreed it was a strong cup of Joe. The place was on the chilly side, so the warmth of the coffee (along with our jackets) served us well until they cranked up the heat a bit. We were impressed by the simple, contemporary décor and everything appeared to be new and clean.

Our order consisted of a Broccoli Cheddar egg white omelet that came with 3 average sized buttermilk pancakes. All omelets come with pancakes. While broccoli cheddar omelets aren’t listed on the menu, they had no problem letting us substitute ingredients. It’s always a good sign when you can change up something on the menu. Toast and home fries were extra, but with pancakes, who needs them. The omelet was very fluffy, and the broccoli was fresh, not frozen, and had just the right bite to it. Happily, the cheddar was not overwhelming either, which we’ve experienced at many diners.

The pancakes were disappointing as they lacked flavor and were slightly doughy rather than fluffy. This is a pancake place after all. We commented to the hostess and she said it was the first time she heard that, and this could have been an off batch. The one item on the menu that was new to our breakfast jaunts was the Dutch Baby. Mela never had one and I love them. It took a little convincing to get her to try something new. Well, Mela tried it, and she liked it! We both loved the Dutch Baby with real maple syrup. It was excellent! Over all, the presentation of the meal was visually enticing. By 10:05 am, the place was packed and a crowd of people was waiting to be seated.

At $32.89, without tip, our breakfast was about average for a specialty breakfast place. Even though the pancakes were not as fluffy as they should be, we decided there was potential enough for there to be a next time. Dreaming of that Dutch Baby right now!

The Original Pancake House, 170 Hamilton Avenue, White Plains, NY 10601 (914) 683-3770