Arugula Salad with Pear & Prosciutto

Press 195I love it when my friends live close to good restaurants, especially when they’re inexpensive ones. Then you always have a convenient place to meet up. My friend Paul used to live above Press 195 which is a panini shop in Park Slope that has great sandwiches, inexpensive beers and wine and a lovely patio during the summer. Basically a great place for hanging out.

Even though they have over 40 different paninis to choose from I’d always order my favorite the Prosciutto Di Parma with sliced pears, fontina, baby arugula and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Pear, Prosciutto and Arugula Salad Ingredients

The prosciutto and pear slices mingle with the melted fontina while the peppery arugula cuts through the luscious greasy goodness. Yum. Sadly, I don’t have a picture of it.

Cooking the ProsciuttoWhisking the salad dressing

I wanted to make something light to go with my deviled eggs and on my way back from the gym this morning I passed by Press 195 which got me thinking about their panini. I’m trying to eat low carb these days to fight back against my Easter chocolate gluttony and that panini had solid potential as an arugula salad with a couple adjustments.

Instead of the fontina I decided to switch to Romano cheese, half because I already had some in the house and half because, as a hard cheese, its lower in fat than fontina. I’m ditching the bread and bringing in a little sweetness by adding honey (I know honey’s not low carb but teaspoon doesn’t hurt) to the dressing for the arugula salad. Ingredients prepped and ready to go

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Fruit Salad with Pineapple & Mango

Fruit Salad with Pineapple and MangoWhy can’t bodegas ever make a good fruit salad? I won’t name names but yesterday I ordered a fruit salad from my local bagel shop/bodega. Now this store does a phenomenal job on bagels and offers quality sandwiches, soups and salads. There’s always a long line to get to the counter and generally everything’s quite good until yesterday when I ordered their fruit salad. From past experience at similar establishments I’ve learned to avoid fruit salads.Ingredients for Fruit Salad with Pineapple and Mango

Normally, I know better but yesterday I was lured in by those pithy chucks of melon because I wanted something light and fresh to accompany the mac & cheese with greens leftovers that I’ve been having for lunch for the past three days (by the way its still delicious and reheats wonderfully). Three days in and I still love it.

As I see it, the main problem with commercially produced fruit salad is that the honeydew and cantaloupe, which comprise 80% of the salad, are never ripe. They’re so far from being ripe that they’re crunchy and flavorless. The two slices of strawberry and three blueberries that round out the salad just can’t compete against that much bland melon. The other problem is that the chunks of fruit are too big so you can only savior one tasteless piece on melon at a time.Peeled Mango before dicingPineapple peeled and diced

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Radicchio Salad with Pear and Almonds

 

Radicchio Salad with Almonds, Chives, and Asian PearI spent this past St. Patty’s Day in Philadelphia. My boyfriend bought a car last week so we took it down to Philly for the day. My navigation wasn’t always on point and we got lost a few times (on the way home he picked up a navigation system). However, I totally blame the heated seats for my lack of focus. They’re so relaxing. They can lull me to sleep before we even pull out of a parking lot. After several wrong turns I did the responsible thing, hard as it was, and shut off the heated seat feature. After that I found our way into downtown Philadelphia no problem.Chestnut Risotto with Black Truffles and Mascarpone

Chicken with Sour Cherries, Fingerling Potatoes and Lardons

Initially, we were looking for a thrift store he’d read about near South Street when we stumbled upon a massive record store. Having recently purchased a record player, Reed was quiet excited to check out their selection. After I scoped out the place and saw how large and unorganized their jazz, soul, and opera sections were I knew he’d be there for a while. I left him sorting through dusty bins of records to wander around the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, I’ve recently been reintroducing myself to the weights at the gym. My legs were horribly sore from my workout on Friday so wandering around wasn’t good. With each step every muscle from my hips down to my calves cried out in pain. Maybe that was also part of the reason the heated seats felt so nice. Since it was St Patty’s day, I thought it would be a good time for an afternoon beer. I got an outside table at the corner bar near the record store.Ingredients for Bitter Greens Salad with Pear and Almonds

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Citrus Salad with Olives, Pistachios & Hot Peppers

Franny's Citrus Salad

All my friends who live close to me are moving out of the neighborhood, lovely Park Slope, Brooklyn, within a two month window. First it was Lauren, moving upstate, but now Jesse is going back to North Carolina, and Liz is off to her boyfriend’s in Bay Ridge. It’s too bad. I’m going to be so lonely but while they’re still around I’m trying to make the most of it.   I meet up with Liz at Franny’s which is renowned for their pizzas, which New York Magazine called “the borough’s single greatest culinary achievement” and it’s only a couple block away from me.

Franny's Citrus Salad Detail

Seeing Liz and catching up was great but I also had an ulterior motive for going to Franny’s. They had a citrus salad on the menu that I thought would be great for my mother’s big surprise birthday party this weekend. I’d been trying to sort out what I was going to make for the party. My criteria were that it needed to be easy to prepare, elegant, and go well with lobster (for those who have read my Perry Street post, we’re having the seafood company cook the lobsters for us). We were only going to have a two hour window while my mother was out getting a massage to clean, cook, and set up for the 30 person seated dinner party before the guests started arriving.

Franny's Menu

So Liz and I split the citrus salad with hot peppers, pistachios, and olives to start. The flavors were vibrant, refreshing, and unexpected. It was going to be perfect for the party too; only a few ingredients and simple to prepare. Our pizzas were excellent too. We split two pies: tomato, provolone picante, oregano, onions, and olives & ricotta, buffalo mozzarella, garlic, oregano and hot peppers.  Delicious! Continue reading

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