4.28.2016

Taste of Manchester: Mike's Pizzeria

As part of the Taste of Manchester 2016 Marketing Committee, Amy has volunteered to write short features on the participating restaurants and share them via our blog here.This year's Taste of Manchester will be held on Tuesday, May 10th from 5:30 to 9 p.m. See the TOM webpageFacebook page, or Twitter @TastyTownCT (#TOMCT2016) for more information. 


Mike's Pizzeria


New to town, and to the Taste of Manchester this year, is Mike's Pizzeria, which is located at 267 East Center Street. Owner Matt Barry opened the pizzeria last July as a tribute to his late grandfather, Mike Massaro, who owned a pizza place in Manchester for decades.

A Tribute to Mike Massaro

Barry remembers growing up helping his grandfather at his shop, folding boxes and learning how to make the dough. He says his mother always knew one day he'd own his own pizza shop. When the space opened up, he knew it was his turn to make the pizza. 

One friendly staff member at Mike's counter

Mike's is known for its wide variety (over 30 different types, not including build-your-own) of pan pizzas. The pizzas are cooked in a special rotating oven that can fit up to 40 pizzas at a time on stones that are heated to 480 degrees. The house pizza is a customer favorite, as it pleases both meat and veggie lovers with toppings of mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, peppers, sausage and hamburger. Another popular choice is the "Big Mike," Mike's version of a Big Mac, which is covered with thousand island dressing (special sauce), grilled hamburger (for that flame-grilled flavor), pickles, onions, mozzarella cheese and then topped with lettuce after being cooked. You barely miss that sesame seed bun. 

The secret to Mike's pies? This oven!

Mike's serves pizza by the slice, and these slices are huge, cut to equal one quarter of their 16-inch pie. Daily choices (cheese, pepperoni) are available as is a daily special slice, which is usually something concocted that day on the whim of the chefs. 

Pizza topped with extra mozzarella, pepperoni and hamburger

Besides pizza, Mike's serves a variety of grinders, in 8-inch and, for the super-hungry, 16-inch sizes. Their meatballs are made in-house, and sausage-and-peppers can be made with a choice of hot or sweet sausage. Calzones are stuffed with ricotta, mozzarella and the customer's choice of toppings. Stuffed breads like sausage and spinach or eggplant are also available and are served with marinara sauce on the side. A variety of appetizers (like 9 flavors of wings, fried ravioli and potato skins), salads and wraps rounds out the diverse menu, making it sure to please every palate.

Sweet Chili Wings

Barry is happy to be continuing his grandfather's tradition and serving delicious hot pizzas and more to the folks of Manchester. He makes sure the business supports local groups, like Manchester High sports teams, and is pleased to be involved in local events such as the Taste of Manchester. This year, Taste of Manchester participants can enjoy a taste of Mike's pizza and stuffed breads. 

Mike's Pizzeria is located at 267 East Center Street. They are open daily for takeout and delivery, with a couple of tables for eating in. Their phone number is 860.432.0002. You can find their hours, menu, and more at their website or Facebook page.


It's not too late to buy tickets to this year's Taste of Manchester! Click here for info.

4.22.2016

Amy on WVIT CT Channel 30




Here's the link to Amy's most recent five minutes of fame ICYMI.

(By the way, we refuse to think it's the last...) 

It was nearly two weeks ago, but we managed to get the clip thanks to the PR team at IKEA and Oprah - sponsors of the Together, We Eat! Contest.






4.21.2016

3 Times Thursday - Fun Fillo Bites

It's 3 Times Thursday, and today we are exploring Fun Fillo Bites. Mini fillo shells are the entertainer's best friend. They are inexpensive and come 15 to a package. They can be filled with savory or sweet delights. They can be heated, chilled, or served at room temperature. There are dozens of websites with hundreds of recipes ideas on what to do with these crunchy, flaky cups. Here are three of our favorite, because they are so simple and so delicious, and they all contain one of our other go-to ingredients - cheese!

















#3. Goat Cheese and Chow Chow Fillo Bites - Creamy, sweet, crunchy and spicy, all in one yummy bite.

Ingredients:

2 packages mini fillo shells
6 ounces plain goat cheese
1 jar Mariah's Sweet and Hot Chow Chow Relish

Remove phyllo cups from package and set out on serving tray. Fill phyllo cups with desired amount of goat cheese and top with spoonful of "chow chow" relish. 

















#2. Puck, Nuts 'n Honey - Puck is a Middle Eastern spreadable cheese that comes in a jar and tastes very similar to brie. It's wonderful with nuts and honey. And the name is kinda funny.

Ingredients:

2 packages mini fillo shells
1 jar Puck
4 ounces chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds or pistachios, or a mix of all of these!)
2 ounces honey

Remove phyllo cups from package and place on a baking sheet. Fill phyllo cups with desired amount of cheese and sprinkle with chopped nuts. Put them in a 350F oven for about 15 minutes. Remove to a serving tray and drizzle with honey. 



















#1. Brie and Berry Bites - Sweet, tart and so elegant. The balsamic really spruces up the flavor of the berries. Serve these as an appetizer or a dessert!

Ingredients:

1 package mini fillo shells
4 ounces brie
1 pint berries
balsamic glaze, or reduced balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 350. Lay phyllo cups on a cookie sheet. Fill each cup with brie, top with a berry and bake for about 10 minutes, until heated through. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve warm. Idea plus: Try it with apples or peaches drizzled with honey.



4.07.2016

3 Times Thursday - Springtime Pasta Dishes

Welcome to a new themed post - 3 Times Thursday! On Thursdays, we will feature three recipes that center around a certain theme. Our  first 3 Times Thursday features Springtime Pasta Dishes. 


Yeah, it may still be snowing (ugh), but the calendar says it's officially spring. Pasta dishes are easy to make and take very little time, so they are perfect for weeknights. You can whip them up after taking a long afternoon walk in the spring sun. Why use jarred sauces or frozen ingredients when you can use fresh, newly grown vegetables that make your plate both beautiful and good for you? It's a no-brainer!

And yes, we do only have one set of pasta dishes. We also cook with butter (gasp!). 

#3. PASTA PRIMAVERA - Primavera is Italian for "spring" and this light dish features a variety of crisp spring veggies, herbs, and light touch of cheese.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound penne pasta
1 cup shelled fresh peas
1/4 pound green beans, cut in half
1/4 pound sugar snap peas
3 small carrots, cut into small rounds
1 small yellow squash, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
kosher salt
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped mint

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta three minutes less than package directs. Add the peas, green beans, snap peas, carrots and squash in with the pasta and cook for the remaining time (3-4 minutes), until pasta and vegetables are to desired tenderness. In a large saute pan, add the oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Put the heat on medium and begin to cook the garlic and pepper in the oil, taking care not to burn it. Drain the pasta and vegetables and add them to the saute pan; toss well. Stir in the parmesan and ricotta and salt to taste. Toss with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and serve into pasta dishes. Sprinkle each dish with some chopped chives and mint.


#2. SPRING VEGETABLE FARFALLE - Freshly toasted bread crumbs make for a crunch topping for this dish. The slight flavor of licorice from the tarragon and fennel is nicely balanced by zippy lemon.

Ingredients:

2 slices white sandwich bread, finely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons snipped chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch broccolini
1 pound mini-farfalle
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 fennel bulb - halved, cored and thinly sliced
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 drops lemon oil (or a drizzle of lemon-flavored olive oil)
1 tablespoon of lemon zest


Preheat the oven to 350. On a baking sheet, toss the bread with 1/4 cup of the oil and toast for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once, until golden. Let cool, then stir in half each of the chives and tarragon. Season the crumbs with salt and pepper and set aside. In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the broccolini until tender, 1 minute; using tongs, transfer to a cutting board and coarsely chop. Boil the pasta in the broccolini water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. In a deep skillet or wok, melt the butter in the remaining 1/4 cup of oil. Add the garlic, fennel and broccolini and cook over moderate heat until the fennel is crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. Add the pasta, lemon juice and cooking water and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderate heat until the water is nearly absorbed. Stir in the remaining herbs and lemon oil. Sprinkle the pasta with the bread crumbs and lemon zest just before serving.


#1. SPRING PASTA WITH PROSCIUTTO, LETTUCE AND PEAS - Lettuce is an interesting addition to this dish which, like our Primavera, uses peas but also adds a touch of salty prosciutto. If you have chive flower buds, they make a gorgeous garnish!

Ingredients:

1/4 stick unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil (plus additional for drizzling later)
1/4 pound green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons minced shallot
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup white wine (such as Pinot Grigio)
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
2 cups shelled fresh peas
1 pound campanelle (trumpet-shaped) pasta
1 head Boston lettuce, cored, leaves cut into 3/4-inch-wide slices
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for sprinkling
4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, into 1/2-inch-wide strips

Melt butter with 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add green onions and shallots. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until fragrant and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add wine. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer until liquid is almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add broth and bring to simmer; then set aside. Cook peas according to package directions, then drain. In the meantime, put water in a large pot to boil for the pasta. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente results. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water. Add lettuce to onion/broth mixture and stir over low heat just until wilted, about 1 minute. Add peas, drained pasta, and 1 cup Parmesan cheese and toss together, adding reserved pasta water by 1/4 cupfuls if dry. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Fold in prosciutto, drizzle with olive oil, and serve, with additional Parmesan as desired.


3.31.2016

Go Local Magazine - April 2016



Go Local Magazine is a local lifestyle magazine showcasing life around the Massachusetts/Connecticut line. Its mission is to improve the community by promoting the region (which includes Stafford Springs, Somers, Enfield and Suffield, CT; and Hampden, East Longmeadow, Longmeadow and Agawam, MA - and this territory will be expanding soon!) as a destination to live, play, shop and eat, and to showcase the citizens who make it great. 

Amy wrote the article on Enfield's newest cafeFor Love and Food (on page 20). Also, you can find a 2-page spread highlighting our Together, We Eat! contest-winning recipe and story on pages 40-41. 

Thinking of purchasing a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)? There's a great list of farms in the area that offer shares, including our favorite Simpaug Farms

You can get a free copy of Go Local Magazine at many businesses around these towns (go here for a list) or check it out online (here).

And - don't forget to tune in Sunday around 7:15 to see Amy on WTNH ABC Channel 8 doing her first live TV cooking segment.

3.24.2016

Together, We Eat! on the Local News

Amy has been invited to showcase our award-winning Spring Onion and Ricotta Fresca Tart on our local (Connecticut) news.

Both appearances will be live cooking segments. The first will be on ABC 8 on Sunday, April 3 at 7:15 a.m. There was supposed to be one on NBC on Easter but it had to be postponed. Stay tuned for more info. 

3.16.2016

Together, We Eat - O! The Oprah Magazine

The April issue of O! The Oprah Magazine is officially out. And in it are the results of Amy's photo shoot, along with a snapshot of us with our neighbor Barb, our award-winning Together, We Eat story and the now-famous Spring Onion and Ricotta Fresca Tart. Here's the VIDEO: http://togetherweeat.com/servingupspringwinners/.You can also find the recipe there.

And here's the much-talked-about spread:






Up next? Live cooking segments on our local ABC and NBC affiliates...coming soon!

A very special thank you to everyone on the Oprah and IKEA teams for creating this amazing experience for us and for making it so memorable. And congratulations to the first prize winners whose recipes look so delicious.


3.14.2016

Tourtiere (Canadian Meat Pie) for Pi Day


Happy Pi Day, everyone! While Mr. Science Chris likes the symbolism behind 3/14 (or 3.1415....), Amy just looks forward to eating pie. And being French Canadian, she's always wanted to try Tourtiere, especially after seeing this recipe in Saveur.



We made a couple of adjustments to the Saveur recipe. For instance, since it was a weeknight, we used store-bought pie dough. We also tried a mix of ground meat - 2 parts pork to 1 part beef. We forgot to buy apple cider, so we put 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar into the cooking meat instead. And what we ended up with was a very interesting dish with lots of layers. It was definitely hearty, with all that meat and potatoes, but it also had beautifully warm spice flavors such as cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. And the aroma of this meat pie cooking? Just right for a cold, damp Monday afternoon. No wonder they eat this in Canada!


Tourtiere
Adapted from this recipe from Saveur

Ingredients:

1 refrigerated pie crust, defrosted
1 1/2 cups raw potatoes, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground beef
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions, chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 bay leaves
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 egg, beaten

Lay the bottom pie crust in a 9-inch pie plate and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add salt, and boil the diced potatoes until they are tender. Mash and set aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the pork and beef and cook until no longer pink. Add the garlic, onion, and carrot, and cook, stirring often, until meat is nicely browned and vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in cider vinegar, celery seed, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and bay leaves. Continue to cook and stir until liquid is evaporated. Stir in mashed potatoes, season with salt and pepper, and allow mixture to cool completely. Preheat oven to 400F. Place the filling into the pie plate, smooth the top and cover with the top crust. Fold the crust under itself and crimp together with your fingers. Brush with the beaten egg and place in the oven. Bake for 50-55 minutes, until hot and golden brown.  

3.09.2016

Grilled Pomelo "Steaks"




Do you know the pomelo? It's basically a really big grapefruit. In fact, its Latin name is citrus maxima. Love that. Chris came home with a huge pink pomelo the other day, saying he wanted to slice it and grill the slices. Pomelo "steak" and eggs!

He sprinkled the slices with demerara sugar and put them on a hot grill until they were warm and covered with pretty grill marks. Meanwhile, I cooked some eggs, bacon, toast and coffee for a deliciously big breakfast. The pomelo was sweet and juicy, with the perfect amount of char. Yummmm. Don't you just live for Sundays?