My Social Chef http://www.mysocialchef.com Following my passion of cooking while living in New York City, trying to keep my job, pay off my student loans and minimize my debt. Wed, 03 Aug 2011 15:36:00 +0000 en hourly 1 Brooklyn Shrimp http://www.mysocialchef.com/2011/08/brooklyn-shrimp/ http://www.mysocialchef.com/2011/08/brooklyn-shrimp/#comments Wed, 03 Aug 2011 15:36:00 +0000 Petrit Husenaj http://www.mysocialchef.com/?p=959 Brooklyn Shrimp Salad 600x400 Brooklyn ShrimpThis recipe is named after my least favourite borough of New York City: Brooklyn! It may be the home of Lil’ Kim, but I just can’t bring myself to move there. I avoid it as much as I can. But for some reason, all the cool, good-looking smokers have inhabited it.

Growing up in Manhattan, we thought that only two types of people lived in Brooklyn — thugs and my assailing cousins. I was equally scared of both of them, so I avoided the aggressive borough as much as I could. But now that inflation keeps rising, I’m being economically pushed out of Manhattan. I’m now at a place where I need to come to terms with the idea that I will have to move, and that the move might take me to Brooklyn.

To prepare myself for this potential move, I’ve been going to BK as much as my taxi allowance permits. So far this summer, I’ve made the excursion twice. Once was for The Great Hot Dog Cookoff where I competed and the other was to visit my family for my goddaughter’s first birthday. (Yes, I am the godfather to a little girl in Brooklyn). Both times the anxiety kicked in right when I made the commitments to go. I’m much bigger than I was as a kid, so the thugs of BK are less terrifying. However, my cousins still scare the shit out of me. I always feel like they’re either going to beat me up or curse me out for no reason whatsoever. It’s never happened, but I can’t shake the impending beating from my mind.

Anyway, for my goddaughter’s birthday party, one of my cousins made this lovely shrimp salad. Just like everyone else there, she’s very pro-Brooklyn. Brooklyn this, Brooklyn that — all in the really heavy accent we’ve all grown to love. It’s like shut the fuck up already. We get it. Brooklyn is amazing and you’re never leaving, blah blah blah…

During the party, as I watched the Brooklynites on one side of the room and the Manhattanites on the other side, one thing became clear: Either you’re in or you’re out, and I was out. As much as I wanted the recipe, I didn’t think she would give it to me for the simple reason that I’m not from Brooklyn.

I took a swig of her Hennessy to get some courage before I crossed the room and asked her for the recipe. As I cringed, waiting for the physical or verbal assault I was sure was coming, she said she would be delighted to share it with me. I guess the people of Brooklyn are not so bad, after all — either that, or she was wasted. Not really sure if she remembers, come to think of it. If you’re reading this, please don’t curse me out or beat the shit out of me for making a few changes and posting this.

: Brooklyn Shrimp Salad

 

  1. 2 Pounds of Shrimp (fresh or frozen, peeled and deveined)
  2. ½ Red Onion – Minced
  3. 6 Sticks of Celery – Minced
  4. 3 Tablespoons of Dill – Chopped
  5. 2 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard
  6. 1 Cup Mayonnaise
  7. 4 Tablespoons Sour Cream
  8. 1 Teaspoon Salt
  9. ½ Teaspoon Black Pepper
  10. 1 ½ Teaspoons Red Wine Vinegar

 

  1. In a large pot, cook the shrimp in boiling water for 5-7 minute until cooked. With a slotted spoon remove the shrimp and add to an ice bath to stop the cooking. Mince the onion, celery and dill as much as you can, the smaller the better. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

 

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Cold Pea and Edamame Soup http://www.mysocialchef.com/2011/06/cold-pea-and-edamame-soup/ http://www.mysocialchef.com/2011/06/cold-pea-and-edamame-soup/#comments Wed, 29 Jun 2011 02:49:12 +0000 Petrit Husenaj http://www.mysocialchef.com/?p=953 Cold Pea Soup 600x427 Cold Pea and Edamame SoupGrowing up, my parents didn’t see a need for children to go to the doctor. My mom thought soaking a broken ankle in salt water would realign the bones and my dad’s remedy for everything was a little whiskey (the alcohol kills any germs that are making you sick, right?). And my mom’s cure for a stomachache? 7-Up. She said it would put the fire out. I actually believe my mother thought there was a real fire in my belly.

My dad knew that medical insurance was something you paid for, but he was too embarrassed to use it. Just like food stamps, welfare checks and Section 8 housing insurance were things the government gave you because you were poor. My father has actually been paying for prescriptions out-of-pocket all these years because he didn’t want the Bangladeshi cashier at Duane Reade to judge him.

Last year, I spoke to my dad and told him to show the cashier at the pharmacy his insurance card. I told him that it doesn’t mean he’s poor and that it isn’t considered welfare — even rich people use medical insurance. To be honest, I don’t think he listened to me.

Last week he came over and asked me to make him some soup. Turns out he’d finally gone to the dentist and couldn’t eat solid food. I figured it was the least I could do, since god knows how much he just paid for his appointment.

: Cold Pea and Edamame Soup
  1. * 1 Cup Frozen Peas
  2. * ½ Cup Froze Edamame
  3. * 1 ¼ Cup Water
  4. * ¾ Teaspoon Salt
  5. * 1 Avocado
  6. *1 Tablespoon Butter
  1. * In a medium sized pot add the water, frozen peas, frozen edamame and salt. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute until the peas and edamame are heated. Pour all the contents from the pot into a blender with the remaining ingredients and blend for 1 minute. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour and serve. Drizzle with olive oil.

Number of servings (yield): 2

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Grouper with Mango http://www.mysocialchef.com/2011/05/grouper-with-mango/ http://www.mysocialchef.com/2011/05/grouper-with-mango/#comments Tue, 24 May 2011 23:39:48 +0000 Petrit Husenaj http://www.mysocialchef.com/?p=915 Grouper with Mango 600x428 Grouper with Mango

I recently went to the land of retired doormen, elevator men and porters: Puerto Rico! Nothing like what I had expected. Growing up, the only Puerto Ricans I knew were either in gangs, worked in my building or came out of hiding on a random Sunday in June for a parade. OK, OK… not all of them, but enough for me to make a statement like that without worrying about a serious challenge. It is one of the most absolutely beautiful and tranquil places I have ever been.

Once we arrived on the small island of Culebra, we hired a boat to take us fishing and snorkelling. Shortly after sailing out, I realized two frightening things: First, I forgot to cut my toenails. Second, how are we going to eat? I asked my cousins if either of them had a nail clipper, and as usual they were useless. I didn’t dare ask Captain Bill, but I did want to know what we were eating. He told me he had some fresh grouper that he would make for us. Grouper is one of those fishes I’ve heard about but am not really sure if I’ve ever had it. I don’t even know if I would recognize it if I saw it.

While we were snorkelling, Captain Bill pan-seared grouper with sesame seeds for us. I was completely surprised. It was delicious — white and flaky. It took hold of me and didn’t let go until I’d devoured the entire meal completely.

How could I keep something so good to myself?

Recipe: Grouper with Sesame Seeds and Mango

Ingredients

  • 1 Pound Grouper — Cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Sesame Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Sesame Seeds
  • 1/2 Lemon — Juiced
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Mango — Chopped

Instructions

  1. Marinate the grouper in all the ingredients except the olive oil and lemon for at least 2 hours. When you are ready to eat, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and heat an oven-safe pan on the stove at medium high heat for 2 minutes. Once your pan is hot, add the olive oil and the grouper, skin side down. Cook for two minutes, flip, cook for 1 minute and put the pan in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and add the lemon juice.
  2. Your grouper should come out white and flaky just like Captain Bill’s; if not, cook it in the oven for another 2 minutes. Serve with a side of rice and mango.

Number of servings (yield): 4

Meal type: dinner

Microformatting by hRecipe.

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Linguini with Clam Sauce http://www.mysocialchef.com/2011/05/linguini-with-clam-sauce/ http://www.mysocialchef.com/2011/05/linguini-with-clam-sauce/#comments Tue, 17 May 2011 15:12:15 +0000 Petrit Husenaj http://www.mysocialchef.com/?p=906

linguini clam sauce social chef 600x400 Linguini with Clam Sauce

Cooking with clams makes me nervous — almost as nervous as I felt for Star Jones when Nene Leakes delivered her verbal beat down on Celebrity Apprentice. It was so intense that Obama went and nabbed Osama bin Laden in order to interrupt The Donald’s show. Props to the President for sparing us watching three black contestants leave the show in one episode. I see a trend at NBC. Watch your back Al Roker!!!!

Turns out, cooking clams isn’t so scary. The only thing you need to do is make sure you clean the clams properly: Add the clams to a large pot of water, making sure the water covers all the cockles. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of corn meal and 1 tablespoon of salt over the cockles and add the pot to the refrigerator for 2 hours. When you’re ready to cook them, just rinse the clams and they’re ready to go.

Recipe: Linguini with Clam sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 Pound Linguini
  • 2 Shallots – Minced
  • ¼ Cup Olive Oil
  • 5 Cloves Garlic – Smashed
  • ½ Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ Teaspoon Fresh Black Pepper
  • 1 Lemon – Zested and Juiced
  • 3 Tablespoons Italian Parsley – Chopped
  • 2 Pounds Cockle Clams

Instructions

  1. In a large pan, add the olive oil, shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, until the shallots are soft. After 3 minutes add all the other ingredients except the parsley, cover and cook for 5 minutes. When you remove the cover, you will notice that the clams have all opened up. Discard the ones that haven’t opened and remove the shells of any of the cockles where they’ve split apart. Toss with linguini, sprinkle with parsley and enjoy the silence.

Number of servings (yield): 4

Meal type: dinner

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Chicken Milanese http://www.mysocialchef.com/2011/04/chicken-milanese/ http://www.mysocialchef.com/2011/04/chicken-milanese/#comments Mon, 25 Apr 2011 13:41:37 +0000 Petrit Husenaj http://www.mysocialchef.com/?p=898 Chicken Milanese My Social Chef 600x400 Chicken MilaneseAs you get older, you make certain upgrades in your life. You go from a twin bed to a full/queen, a Swatch watch to a Rolex, Aqua Net to Consort and Chicken Parmesan to Chicken Milanese. This is just the evolution of becoming an adult.

However, some people stay stuck and you can spot them from a mile away. You always know the asshole that’s going to order Chicken Parmesan at a restaurant.

Even though the chicken is fried, Chicken Milanese is a great adult summer lunch dish — very light and refreshing. But there are a few important rules to this dish. First, use Panko breadcrumbs. Second, use fresh heirloom tomatoes, and third, don’t over-fry your chicken. My lazy ass sister uses 4C breadcrumbs and jarred salsa to save herself 10 minutes. Trust me, it’s not worth it!

It’s hard to tell how much you will need for each ingredient. It really depends on how much chicken you’re making. One pint of tomatoes and a handful of arugula will make enough salad for 8 chicken breasts.

Recipe: Chicken Milanese

Ingredients

  • Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Oil — Vegetable or Corn
  • Arugula
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Eggs
  • Panko Breadcrumbs
  • Flour
  • Lemon
  • Fresh Thyme
  • Chicken — Thin, Pre-pounded

Instructions

  1. Get 3 bowls: In the first bowl, add 2 cups of flour. In the second, add 5 eggs and beat them. In the third, add 2 cups of Panko breadcrumbs.
  2. Then in each bowl, add ½ teaspoon of salt and a little pepper. Make sure you get the thin, already pounded chicken breast.
  3. Fill a large pan halfway with oil and heat on medium while you’re preparing the chicken. Dredge the chicken in the flour, then the eggs, then the breadcrumbs and add to the oil. Fry 1 or 2 pieces at a time. After two minutes, flip the chicken over and fry for another two minutes. You want the chicken to be a nice golden color, not dark brown. Once golden, remove the chicken and place on paper towels and repeat with another piece of chicken. Do not stack the chicken on top of each other.
  4. Once your chicken is all fried up, quarter your tomatoes into a large bowl. Add some lemon juice, olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Mix with a handful of arugula. Plate up your chicken with the tomato and arugula salad on top.

Number of servings (yield): 8

Meal type: dinner

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Bean & Lamb Soup http://www.mysocialchef.com/2011/04/bean-lamb-soup/ http://www.mysocialchef.com/2011/04/bean-lamb-soup/#comments Tue, 19 Apr 2011 19:30:09 +0000 Petrit Husenaj http://www.mysocialchef.com/?p=890 Bean and Lamb Soup Pasul Grosh 600x400 Bean & Lamb SoupLike people, sometimes food looks ugly. At first you don’t even want to go there, but then you decide to give it a chance and it turns out to be not so bad. Just like your ugliest friend, sometimes an ugly dish will make you feel fabulous in comparison.

My mother used to make me this traditional Albanian dish called Pasul or Grosh — the dish had a different name depending on where you were from. Since my mother is a gypsy, I just call it bean and lamb soup. It’s really simple to make and will warm your belly while boosting your self-esteem.

Recipe: Lamb and Bean Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup White Beans
  • 1 Pound Lamb Stew Meat (with Bones)
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • ¼ White Onion – Minced
  • 8 Cups Water
  • ¾ Teaspoon Salt
  • ½ Teaspoon Herbes de Provence
  • 2 Tablespoons Heavy Cream
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter

Instructions

  1. Heat a large pot on medium high heat for 2 minutes. Add the olive oil and lamb. Brown the meat on each side for 2-3 minutes. Once the lamb has browned, add the onion and cook for another minute. Add the water and beans. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 2 hours, covered. Remove the cover, cook for another hour, then add the rest of your ingredients. Serve with bread

Number of servings (yield): 12

Meal type: dinner

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Hummus with Feta Cheese http://www.mysocialchef.com/2011/03/feta-cheese-hummus/ http://www.mysocialchef.com/2011/03/feta-cheese-hummus/#comments Wed, 23 Mar 2011 01:53:23 +0000 Petrit Husenaj http://www.mysocialchef.com/?p=875 Homemade Hummus Social Chef 600x429 Hummus with Feta Cheese

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been conscious of the struggle for peace in the Middle East. As a kid seeing it, I never really understood what was going on. As I got older, I heard about peace talks, but they only seemed to result in more violence followed by another round of peace talks. Now it’s become such a constant thing that it seems as if war is a foregone conclusion. Have people just accepted war as the status quo?

Here’s an example: September 13, 1993 — I was 13 at the time, and I stayed up late to watch the premier of Late Night with Conan O’Brien. In his monologue, he joked that someone said to him that “the day you get your own show is the day their will be peace in the Middle East.” I’m in my thirties now; Conan has had two more shows since then and yet the conflict continues (though I’m still not sure why).

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, wondering when the people of that region are going to take a stand. I don’t mean they should to take a stand for who’s right and who’s wrong — they’ve got that covered — but rather a stand for peace.

The Seeds of Peace organization believes in just that. The organization works with all youth in conflict, showing them that peace is possible.

I’ve learned that if you try to make someone wrong that means that they lose and no one ever wants to lose. When you choose peace, it’s neither making someone wrong
or right, it’s just what you are taking a stand for. Imagine a young child learning from an early age that it can happen.

Surely the people of the region that gave us hummus know a good thing when they see it… and peace is the ultimate good thing. Join the Seeds of Peace in it’s Hummus Taste Off on April 7th 2011!

Recipe: Hummus with Feta Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 Can of Chick Peas
  • 3 Tablespoons Tahini
  • 2 Tablespoons Feta Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Clove of Garlic
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • Pinch of Black Pepper
  • Juice of 1 Lemon

Instructions

  1. Add all the ingredients in a food processor and process for 1-2 minutes. Serve with pine nuts and olive oil.

Number of servings (yield): 8

Meal type: snack

Microformatting by hRecipe.

 

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Penne with Vodka Sauce http://www.mysocialchef.com/2011/03/penne-with-vodka-sauce/ http://www.mysocialchef.com/2011/03/penne-with-vodka-sauce/#comments Tue, 15 Mar 2011 00:30:49 +0000 Petrit Husenaj http://www.mysocialchef.com/?p=803 Not Rachel Rays vodka sauce 600x400 Penne with Vodka Sauce

As the saying from our childhood goes, first comes love, then comes marriage, right. To that end, Rachel Ray has created a vodka sauce that she guarantees will get you engaged. If only it were that simple. Rachel, have you forsaken your fans in the LGBT community who can’t marry the one they love, vodka sauce potion or not?

Maybe this pandering is just Ray taking advantage of all the desperate single women to sell more cookbooks. Or perhaps she’s an undercover agent for the Westboro Baptist “Church.” What, is the LGBT community only allowed to eat meals that take longer than 30 minutes to prepare?

This vodka sauce won’t promise you “it gets better” like a certain high-ranking government official. It won’t propel you to call your PR director to write you a heartfelt speech, set up a FlipCam and tell you that it may be rough now, but don’t you worry, ’cause when you’re older, you will have even less rights as a human than they do. So just hang in there. However, I do promise you that it will make you feel good for a bit. That’s it. If you decide to eat too much, it will make you feel fat, but that is your choice. And a choice is what a lot of people don’t have right now.

Maybe Ray could whip up a sauce that would change the hearts and minds of those people standing in the way of equality. Until then, this will have to do.

Recipe: Penne with Vodka Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 Box Cooked Penne
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 2 Cans San Marzano Whole Peeled Tomatoes – Seeded
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 1/2 Large White Onion – Diced
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 12-15 Fresh Basil Leaves
  • 6 Scallions – Sliced
  • 1/2 Cup Vodka
  • 1/2 Cup Half and Half

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, add the oil, onions, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and cook over medium-low heat until the onions are translucent, about 10-15 minutes. Once the onions are cooked, add the seeded tomatoes and the juice from the cans then simmer over medium-low heat for an hour.
  2. While the tomato mixture is cooking, in a smaller pot add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the remaining half onion and the scallions. Cook over medium low heat for 10 minutes. Slowly add the vodka and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Smell it to make sure you don’t smell any more alcohol. Once that alcohol has burned off, add the half and half and reduce until thick, about 10 more minutes. Set aside.
  3. After the tomato mixture has cooked for an hour, remove it from heat and let it rest for 30 minutes to cool down. Place the fresh basil in a blender and add some of the tomato mixture, then puree until smooth. Pour out into a third pot, then add some more tomatoes to the blender and puree. You’ll have to do this in batches. Combine the tomato and cream mixture in the large pot and heat for 10 minutes. Toss with penne and serve.

Number of servings (yield): 6

Meal type: dinner

Microformatting by hRecipe.

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Roasted Fennel with Pine Nuts http://www.mysocialchef.com/2011/02/roasted-fennel-with-pine-nuts/ http://www.mysocialchef.com/2011/02/roasted-fennel-with-pine-nuts/#comments Tue, 22 Feb 2011 01:34:56 +0000 Petrit Husenaj http://www.mysocialchef.com/?p=794 Roasted Fennel Pine Nuts Social Chef 600x428 Roasted Fennel with Pine NutsFebruary is so hard for me. It’s far enough from January that I’ve already failed at all of my New Year’s resolutions and close enough to summer that I begin to realize I need to lose weight. I feel stuck in limbo. Besides being Black History Month, I also like to call February Vegetable Month — a month where I try to incorporate as many vegetables into my diet as possible and honor all the black people that make music videos, clubs and Chelsea Lately so much fun.

If I had to think of one person that embodies these two things it would be Jennifer Hudson. Not only is she black, she’s also lost a lot of weight on Weight Watchers and looks amazing.

I was very reluctant to go watch the movie DreamGirls until I heard my mother’s Pulitzer prize-worthy review… She had purchased a bootleg version of the DVD from one of the stock room managers at a department store. Not really sure how that relationship was established, but that’s not the point. She watched it one night and asked me if I had seen it. I said “no” and she proceeded with her review. My mother is really straightforward, sweet and honest. This was her exact review…

“Oh, wow! That movie was so nice. I didn’t realize Beyonce was in it. She was good, but the fat girl was amazing.”

I assumed she was referring to Jennifer Hudson since she had just won the Academy Award. I finally watched the former big girl and agree with my mother. Big or small, that girl’s got talent.

For me, it’s back to eating vegetables.

Recipe: Roasted Fennel with Pine Nuts and Balsamic Vinegar

Ingredients

  • 3 Fennels (bulb only), Sliced
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Fresh Black Pepper
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/3 Cup Pine Nuts
  • 1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinegar

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Toss the fennel, salt, pepper and olive oil and place in a roasting pan. Roast the fennel in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes until golden, flipping midway. While the fennel is roasting, bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil and reduce the head and simmer for 20 minutes. The vinegar will reduce and create a sweet syrup. Once reduced, let cool.
  2. Once your fennel is done roasting, plate it up, sprinkle the pine nuts and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar.

Number of servings (yield): 6

Meal type: dinner

Microformatting by hRecipe.

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Midnight Train to Kentucky… Fried Chicken http://www.mysocialchef.com/2011/02/midnight-train-to-kentucky-fried-chicken/ http://www.mysocialchef.com/2011/02/midnight-train-to-kentucky-fried-chicken/#comments Wed, 16 Feb 2011 01:04:33 +0000 Petrit Husenaj http://www.mysocialchef.com/2011/02/midnight-train-to-kentucky-fried-chicken/

20110215 0802091 Midnight Train to Kentucky... Fried Chicken

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