Goodfellas, New Haven, CT

What is there not to love about a restaurant called Goodfellas that has a continuous loop of its namesake movie on various screens throughout the bar and dining room? Regardless of the punctuation in that last line, that is certainly not a question. Because, in fact, there is much to love about Goodfellas, a dependable Italian favorite located on State Street in New Haven.

At Goodfellas you will find beloved traditional Italian dishes thoughtfully elevated with locally sourced ingredients. For instance, there's the amazing starter, Fiore di Latte, which takes prosciutto and handmade mozzarella to new levels by wrapping it in escarole and drizzling it with aged balsamic. Or the Pork Chop Milanese, at many places served as a simple lightly breaded center cut chop, here it is topped with arugula, fresh mozzarella and tomato chutney with flavorful results. The myriad pastas are fresh and cooked al dente with stunning, savory sauces. At lunch, there are gangster-inspired paninis, such as the aptly named Lucabrasi, made with white albacore tuna, onion, and Swiss or American cheese. You know. Because he "sleeps with the fishes." Bah dum ch. Anyway...

The usual lunch and dinner menus are full of such surprises, but the special Restaurant Week menu is a steal, with three courses (appetizer, entree, and dessert) offered for the wallet-friendly price of $32. And there were ample choices, as compared to other, more limited Restaurant Week menus found in the Elm City.

I (Amy) dined at Goodfellas solo last week, before heading to my 5:30 Artisan Breads class at Gateway Community College. I was thrilled that they were open, as New Haven restaurants tend to close between lunch and dinner, making it difficult to find a decent meal before class. I sat alone at the bar around 3:45, and by the time 5:00 rolled around, the bar and most of the tables in sight were filled. The bartender, Bobby, worked alone, but he handled the business without leaving a lone diner like myself feeling ignored or unimportant. While I sipped my Chianti, I watched the muted screen, supplying the curse-laced dialogue of the movie in my own head. (As Goodfellas is in my top five movies of all time, I know every line. "Now go home and get your #!@$'in shinebox!")

For dinner, I decided to do my own play on surf and turf and ordered the Oysters Rockefeller and "Chef Gennaro's signature dish" the Filet Cognac. I was served three sea-salty oysters swimming in a vaguely sweet herby Pernod-laced bechamel sauce topped with bitter spinach, sharp cheese and crunchy breadcrumbs. They were beautiful and I was transported to my first Oysters Rockefeller, from Antoine's in New Orleans, where they were invented. The Filet was composed of two perfectly peppered medallions that were sooooo tender, I had one of those "Aha!" moments about how filets are tenderloins. Duh. There was enough lobster meat topping the steak to make me feel like I was getting a bargain. The side dish, silky mashed potatoes, were seasoned only to enhance the potato flavor itself, and the entire dish was finished in a velvety Cognac cream sauce that made me wish I had a spoon. 

And yet, there was still dessert to come. Bread class was beckoning, so I asked barkeep Billy what he would choose. Without hesitation he said, "The cupcake," and I said, "Sold!" I requested it to-go and enjoyed it later that night after class. The moist chocolate cake was layered with cannoli cream and covered with a sheen of dark chocolate glaze. Luscious.

All for $32?!?! What a meal. Oh, New Haven, please bring back Restaurant Week soon. Until then, I will be content to dine at Goodfellas no matter the price. ("For us to live any other way was nuts."

Goodfellas Restaurant is located at 702 State Street in New Haven, CT and further information, including hours, menus, events, and more can be found on their website.


Rooster Co., Newington, CT

Rooster Co.

It's Friday afternoon and the sun is shining through the fiery autumn trees. Cozy downtown Newington is quiet but for the chirping of a massive flock of birds, the rustling of leaves on the cobblestone sidewalk and the rumble of a few cars that roll by. Most people are still at work; it's barely 4 p.m. after all. The sun is warm on my face and I sit alone at the table outside, perusing the Rooster Co. menu, waiting for Chris to join me for an early dinner.
Gold Rush

I hear the potato-potato-potato sound of the Harley before I turn my head to see Chris approach. I know which drink he'd choose and point it out to him: the "Gold Rush," made with bourbon, fresh lemon juice and housemade honey syrup. I stick with a glass of Pinot Noir (Unconditional, Willamette Valley, OR), expecting that the medium body, light tannins and juiciness will pair nicely with the chicken dish I plan to order. (I'm right.)

Clams Casino

Chris had Halloween Buffet at his school today, so he's not starving like I am. I eat a teacher's lunch at 10:30 a.m., so by 4 I can start to feel "hangry." And since I've been here longer, I know exactly what I want. I order the clams casino appetizer while Chris gets the cheese plate. My six littlenecks are plated beautifully, resting on bright green rock salt, and the color has my curiosity piqued. While the clams themselves are slightly overcooked, I love the flavors - smoky bacon and crunchy garlicky breadcrumbs, with a pinch of lemon zest adding a citrusy zing that reminds me of summer steamers. The cheese plate, made with three local(ish) cheeses (VT cheddar, NY camembert, MA bleu), comes with thin, crispy breadsticks, and pistachio honey. Each cheese is packed with such pungency, each so different from the others, it's an intriguing selection. 

Cheese Plate

Chris orders some local oysters that are served with a brightly acidic pink peppercorn mignonette. Then my "Chef's Plate" of chicken arrives and I can't wait to dig in. It looks and smells like Sunday dinner, only a bit fancier - 1/2 rotisserie chicken, chicken leg confit (served on bruschetta), chicken pate (that's for Chris), and cracklin' (that's all mine). These are accompanied by a dollop of something akin to ginger-apple marmalade and a warm, crusty roll. The rotisserie is served with a choice of sauces, and the server suggests the walnut herb. Like nearly everyone on the planet, I love herbs with chicken, and this olive-oil based dipping sauce is definitely something I will attempt at home. The chicken itself is moist and juicy and the cracklin' shatters in my mouth. God, I love crispy chicken skin!

Chef's Plate

I'm so focused on my plate that it takes me some time to notice that the sun is barely peeking through the tree branches now, and without it, I'm getting chilly. The traffic will be bad if we wait much longer before we leave, so I ask for a box (they are biodegradable!) to take home what little is left of my platter. I'll heat it up for lunch tomorrow, I think, since Chris won't be home. I hope that the skin on the drumstick and that last cracklin' will crisp up in the broiler. (They do.) We pay the check, thank the server, and promise to return. For comfort food this interesting that's also happens to be made with local ingredients, who wouldn't?


Rooster Co. is located at 1076 Main Street, Newington, CT. They serve lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, along with daily specials and a kids' menu. News, events, menus, and recipes can be found on their website: http://www.roostercompany.net/

Cozy Downtown Newington
(View from Rooster Co.)


Spooky Cookies

Chris came home with these cute Halloween cookies Friday. They were part of his school's culinary program's Halloween Buffet. What a cute idea! Wouldn't it be great to make these with the kids before they went trick-or-treating?

Here's what they are made of:
Chocolate cookies body, purple frosting guts, white chocolate chip teeth, googly eyes (you can buy these at most grocery stores or put a little chocolate frosting on a white chocolate chip), and a fruit roll tongue.  



Living Proof: Onyx Moonshine's Journey to Revive the American Spirit (Book Giveaway!)

Living Proof: Onyx Moonshine's Journey to Revive the American Spirit

Update 10/28/15: Congratulations to Sheila - you can expect your book delivered directly from Amazon soon!

Connecticut native and New England moonshiner Adam von Gootkin failed out of college after one semester. His entrepreneurial nature drove him to start a business venture with his best friend, Peter Kowalczyk, and in 2011, the two founded Onyx Spirits, successfully introducing the world to the first ultra-premium American moonshine made in East Hartford, Connecticut.

Adam at the Living Proof Book Launch 
October 16, 2015

Now you can read Adam's incredible story in the recently-released book, Living Proof: Onyx Moonshine's Journey to Revive the American Spirit. In it, Adam wittily tells the story of Onyx through his own life's narrative, offering useful business lessons to every would-be entrepreneur along the way. Adam possesses a limitless vision along with an undying belief that everything he imagines is possible. This book is not only an inspiration but also an honest guide to the trial-and-error process of business-building. 

A Couple in the Kitchen has been moved by Adam's spirit (pun intended?) and business acumen since we met him and Pete in early 2012 (read about that meeting here). We've made recipes with Onyx, promoted Onyx to our friends, and have been good friends and supporters of the Onyx Spirits family. We even attended the book launch last week at the Mark Twain House in Hartford (great times!).

For all those reasons, we'd like to offer you a chance to win a copy of Adam's book. Follow this link for a chance to win Living Proof via Amazon Giveaways:


One lucky winner will be chosen randomly from all entrants to receive a copy of the book shipped directly from Amazon. No purchase necessary. Giveaway ends the earlier of October 28, 2015 11:59 PM PDT or when prize is claimed. See http://amzn.to/GArules for official rules. 

In the meantime, try one of A Couple in the Kitchen's recipes using Onyx Moonshine:


Caramelized Onions Hack

We are hopping on board the hack train with a simple technique that will give you caramelized onions in 90 minutes of inactive cooking. 

Use. Your. Grill. 

Start by preparing your gas grill for "indirect cooking." Or, in Amy's terms, turn the front and back burners on medium heat and leave the middle one off. 

Put whole onions, skin and all, in the middle, where the burners are off. This will create a type of convection-style cooking that will slow-roast your onions to deep, roasty, sweetly caramelized perfection in 90 minutes of inactive time. Yep! Just set a timer for 90 minutes and go do something else. No "stirring frequently" necessary.

When the timer goes off, you'll open your grill and find onions that are gorgeously brown and mushy. Unpeel them carefully, like Chris does here, using kitchen shears to snip off the top:


Squeeze them out of the skin, cut them to size, and use them in your favorite recipe, like French onion soup or an onion tart. Toss them in a salad. Use them as a pizza topping. Drape them on a burger. Pitch them into a pasta. Fold them into a frittata. We could go on, but we think you get it.

Caramelized onions - hacked!


Holy Hasselbacks!

For some time now, Amy has been fascinated by Hasselback potatoes. They just look so fancy, so elegant, as if they took several hours, a few expensive gadgets, and a sous chef or two to create, when really all you need is a sharp knife and a steady hand. Careful patience and precise seasoning generates this rather impressive side dish that elevates even the simplest meat with which these potatoes are served.

Hasselback, or "accordion" potatoes, are so named because they were invented, way back in 1700's, at the Hasselbacken restaurant in Sweden. Medium-sized potatoes are sliced only most-of-the-way before being roasted, thus creating the unique look and wonderful texture (crisp on the outside, soft on the inside). 

We've served them drizzled with olive oil or butter and seasoned with only salt and pepper, maybe some garlic. But, this recipe from Serious Eats editor and The Food Lab author J. Kenji Lopez-Alt was recently featured in the New York Times food section, and it really intrigued. He describes it as "sideways potato gratin," and seriously, if those pictures are not food porn, we don't know what is.

Ours was not quite as lovely, and we think it's because we ignored the warning that we might not need all the cheese and cream mixture and threw it all in anyway. 'Cuz that's how we roll. Next time, maybe we'll listen. Maybe not.


Culinary "School"

Back-to-school happened over a month ago, but now that it finally feels like fall, that means back-to-cooking, and back-to-cooking-club! The EHS (Amy's school) Cooking Club had its first meeting this week and used this recipe from Allrecipes.com to make hot, fresh, flaky apple turnovers. An autumn classic in about an hour!

And speaking of school, Chris has an excellent culinary program at his. Take a look at this amazing birthday gift the chefs and culinary students gave him today! Can't wait to dig in!


Oktoberfest Beer Cookies

Oktoberfest Beer Cookies

Oom pah pah! This weekend marked the official start of Oktoberfest, the German harvest (and beer) festival. Yes, it sounds like it should be held in October, but that's because the first one was. The original Oktoberfest, held in 1810, celebrated the wedding of the Bavarian Crown Prince. It must have been some wedding, because the celebration became an annual tradition, and was prolonged to start in mid-September to ensure better weather. Since we are unable to pick up and fly to Munich for a party, we feel especially fortunate that our friends, the Zs, have an annual Oktoberfest right here in Connecticut. 

Creamed butter and sugar

Some of the other ingredients

The Zs are great cooks, which you can tell when you read the menu. They offered partygoers such as ourselves a feast of traditional German goodies like sweet onion dip, homemade soft pretzels, grilled vegetables, bratwurst with sauerkraut, baked ham, potato salad and cooked red cabbage. Many of the guests brought dessert, and that's where our Oktoberfest Beer Cookies come in (although people were eating them well before dessert). 

The beer and honey is almost reduced

The batter

In the spirit of the day, we decided to try making cookies with beer. We found an interesting recipe on Food Network and made our cookies with Shocktop Belgian White. This particular beer has flavors of coriander and orange peel, so these same ingredients are added to the batter. These not-too-sweet beer-in-cookie-form treats were crisp on the outside with a cakey inside texture. We didn't bother with icing but instead  used some of the honey-beer reduction as a light glaze. Also, you will note there is no salt in the recipe; the beer has some in it and adding some will make them too salty.

Tablespoons of batter staggered on parchment-lined sheets

Surely, you could experiment with different beer flavors and spices and get some amazing results. If you do, do let us know with a comment!

Oktoberfest Beer Cookies
(adapted from Food Network's White Beer Cookies, makes about 3 dozen cookies)


2 12-ounce bottles beer (we used Shocktop Belgian White)
5 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 drops orange oil
1 1/2 tablespoons dried Valencia orange peel (or zest of one medium orange)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Place beer and honey in a medium saucepan and allow to reduce over medium heat until there's about 1/2 cup left (this can take a while, so be patient; you'll know it's about there when the mixture is extremely foamy like in the picture above). Allow the reduction to cool to room temperature. While it is cooking, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (we do this in a stand mixer). Add and completely incorporate the egg. Then add the vanilla, orange oil, orange peel, coriander, and 1/3 cup of the cooled beer reduction. Blend thoroughly. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking soda, then slowly add these dry ingredients to the batter. Preheat oven to 350 F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto parchment-lined sheets without crowding (about 12 per sheet is good). Bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and transfer to wire racks to cool. Drizzle with remaining beer reduction. 

Baked and glazed!


Max's Chef to Farm Dinner: Crop Up Pop Up

There's a small restaurant chain of fine dining restaurants in the Greater Hartford area known as the Max Restaurant Group. One thing they are particularly known for are their summertime "Chef to Farm" dinners, a series of events that take place on the grounds of local farms. As far as the locavore movement, it can't get any more local than that, right? The chef designs a menu around the freshest produce available from that farm's current harvest and adds ingredients also sourced locally, such as meat, dairy and seafood. Diners enjoy their meal under a large tent set up with communal tables covered in white linen, with candlelight and music to add to the ambience.

Chickens roam around the barn


We went to one a few years ago at Rosedale Farms in Simsbury (read about that experience here). It was their usual format - a tour of the farm followed by a tasting menu of several courses with accompanying wines. Which was wonderful! Again...read about it here.

But the one we attended last week was different, experimental, a pop up restaurant on Sub Edge Farm in Farmington (hence the "Crop Up Pop Up" theme). Not a tasting, but a menu of three courses with options chosen by each diner on site and a cash bar. Yes, Chef Scott Miller is an ambitious guy.

Chilled Nectarine Bisque
pickled cherries, fried ginger, creme fraiche

GourmAvian Farms Confit Chicken Wings
celeriac hummus, red hot carrots

The farm began in the 1920's and as such, is quite charming. The current owners are growing five acres of certified organic vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs. They also raise pigs, hens and grass-fed beef. They sell their own items and other local food goods in an on-site farm shop as well. 

Smoked Pineland Beef Strip Loan
duck fat poached potatoes, sorrel, braised beef cheeks, marrow bordelaise

Grilled North Atlantic Lobster
poached mussel and sun gold tomato salad, lemony greens, tomalley vinaigrette

We were seated at table #6 and met some super fun people, which is a definite bonus of the community table seating. We had a great time chatting, eating with, and getting to know our new friends from Hartford and Coventry, and especially Elise (to whom we send a special shout-out). And, Chef Miller, kudos. It was a great meal and a memorable experience that we thoroughly enjoyed. 

Peaches and Anise Cream
olive oil-poppy seed cake, chartreuse

The Band


2 Simple End-of-Summer Pastas (Perfect for Weeknights!)

Oh, pasta. Why do we love you so? That's right...it's because you're so easy to make and so versatile. We can take almost any ingredient and with it, turn you into a stunningly simple meal. And, there's always some of you in our pantry. Plus, you have carbs. And we love carbs. (Sorry, carb-haters.) (Not really.) 

Seriously, though. The two dishes featured here make the most out of farm- or garden-fresh ingredients and they can be prepped in the time it takes to boil the pasta water. It doesn't get fresher or easier than that!

Our first "simple end-of-summer pasta" is our take on Caprese salad, but in pasta form. It was inspired by a cheese made by Meadowstone Farm* of  Brooklyn, CT, and a pasta from Meriano's Bake Shoppe in Madison, CT, which is why we are calling it "Connecticut Caprese Pasta." Stracciatella (Italian for "little shreds") is fresh mozzarella that has been shredded then mixed with fresh cream. It's soft, delicate, and delightfully creamy. In this recipe, we mixed Meriano's tomato-basil infused linguine with Meadowstone's cheese, and our own chopped basil and chopped garden tomatoes. Voila! Dinner in about 15 minutes. Using the tomato-basil pasta added so much flavor, so try it if you can.

Connecticut Caprese Pasta


1 pound pasta (we used tomato-basil linguine)
2 cups chopped garden tomatoes
8-10 basil leaves 
1 package stracciatella cheese (or burrata or fresh mozzarella chopped into bite-sized pieces)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Set water over heat to boil pasta. While it is getting hot, chop tomatoes and basil; set aside. When water is boiling, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta when ready and fold in chopped tomatoes and basil. Then fold in the cheese and season to taste.

Our second "simple end-of-summer pasta" is one we made out of sheer laziness. We looked around one weeknight shortly after school began and realized that it was dinner time and we didn't have much to work with. A yellow squash donated to us by the neighbors (thanks, Whits), some sliced prosciutto from a Portuguese shop brought over by Amy's mom, some shredded parmesan that was in the cheese drawer, and whatever was in our garden. Okay, maybe it was time to go grocery shopping. And, this is probably why we have cats and not kids. But we did have pasta in the pantry (see above), so, we give you our strange little take on alfredo:

School Just Started Summer Squash Pasta


1 pound pasta (we used thick spaghetti)
1 tablespoon bacon grease (don't judge us) (use olive oil if you must)
1 yellow squash (or zucchini), cut into "batons"
4-6 slices prosciutto, cut into thin strips
6-10 cherry tomatoes
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup half and half (or milk, or light cream, some dairy product)
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Set water over heat to boil pasta. While it is getting hot, heat bacon grease in a large skillet over medium heat. Add squash, prosciutto, tomatoes and garlic, and cook until tender and fragrant. Add parsley and chicken broth, and cook 3-4 minutes. Add half and half and allow to simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add parmesan and cook, stirring thoroughly, until slightly thickened. Cook pasta according to package directions, and drain. Toss pasta with sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper.