Category Archives: tomato

Requiem for Spring


arugula sprouts, basil and chives

This is my first post to this blog in about a year. Sorry I’ve been away for so long. 2010 has been quite the year.  Lots of transitions at work, side projects etc. Winter has finally come to NYC. Last night I was out with Mark and Nikki to see a movie and the 2 block walk to their car was a brutal 29 degrees. It has me longing for spring and relaxing on my balcony in the sun. I’ve been going through my archives of photos – many many more blog posts to come – and I found these shots of my garden. This year I went all out and planted tomatoes, a large box of arugula, several types of herbs and my ever loyal lemon tree. Miraculously everything turned out great. Though the tomatoes don’t look like much, there were delicious. The arugula was the standout star and produced several amazing salads. Even though its freezing out, the chives are still growing and flavoring my dishes.


yellow plum tomatoes grown on my balcony

lemon tree

budding lemons


Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Ricotta Gnocchi

Gnocchi is truly a comfort food. The best thing is that it feels really special but is really fast and easy to make. You can flavor it a million different ways, but when I crave it, the classic mozzarella, tomato and basil takes the cake.

Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Ricotta Gnocchi
2 large eggs
15 oz ricotta, just under 2 cups
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup flour
8 oz can of tomato sauce
½ lb mini mozzarella balls, quartered
1 bunch basil leaves, chiffonade
4 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
salt and pepper

Heat a large pot of lightly salted water, to boil on high heat.

In a metal bowl, beat the eggs. Add in the ricotta, cheese and spices. Mix thoroughly with a fork, make sure to break up all of the cheese clumps. Add in the flour and stir to combine. Generously flour your work surface then finish mixing the dough with your hands, it will be pretty wet. Cut the dough in half and roll it in the flour, to coat the outside. Then roll it out into a long snake, till it is about 1 inch in diameter. Using a small paring knife, cut into 1 inch pieces.

Once the water comes to a boil, drop the first batch of gnocchi into the boiling water, making sure not to over crowd the pan. Let it boil for about 5 minutes till done. It will all rise to the top and the water will start to boil higher. While the first batch is cooking, roll out the other batch and cut it. Remove one piece of gnocchi and run it under cold water and taste it to make sure it is cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, drain the first batch to a colander, rinse quickly in cold water to keep it from sticking. Add more water to the pot and return it to a boil. Once boiling, add in the second batch of gnocchi and cook it till done. Drain the cooked gnocchi.

Heat the can of sauce on medium high heat. Taste it and add salt and pepper if needed. Add the mozzarella, basil, grated cheese and gnocchi into the sauce. Toss everything together and serve immediately.

Rain, Rain Go Away

It is raining buckets here in NY today. So I’ve shut myself in and I want to warm myself with a nice bowl of hearty chili. Sometimes I like to make a Texas chili and sometimes I prefer a Cincinnati chili. But my best friend David loves it when I make a Cuban Picadillo. When I make it for him, we serve it over rice with a side of black beans and fried sweet plantains. Since I’m on this dies, lets add the beans to the pot to make a chili and hold the rice and plantains, maybe we’ll sprinkle it with some graded cheese instead.

Cuban Chili

1 medium or ½ of one large sweet onion
1 green bell pepper
4 cloves garlic
Olive Oil
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon ground cilantro
½ teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon ancho chili
4-5 plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ cup water
1 can black beans, preferably Cuban style
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
salt and pepper

Finely chop the onion, green pepper and garlic. In a large pot, heat a tiny bit of olive oil on medium high. Sautee the chopped veggies until soft. Add in the ground beef and spices and stir to break up the meat into fine piece. Brown the meat. While the meat is cooking chop the tomatoes. Add the tomatoes and water to the pot and sir. Cover the pot and simmer on medium heat for about 20 minutes. Once the chili is reduced and thick add in the black beans. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Season with the sugar, salt and pepper to taste.