Single (and cooking) in the City

Food, life, love, and fun recipes



Pulino’s Inspires a Disaster

(photo from google search)

It was a buzzy night as usual at Pulino’s Bar and Pizzeria. Surprising for a Sunday night, but it seemed everyone inside the warmly lit restaurant had decided not to let the impending Monday Glumday affect their boozy plans for the evening. Situated on the corner of Bowery, the giant glowing red letters and the large arched windows contained a copy of the interior one would find at Balthazar and Schillor’s Liquor Bar – all stamped with McNally – and the festive decor held a promise of a damn good time with friends.

Be prepared to offer your liver as a sacrifice for a table for 5, without reservations, and if you are a Bloody Mary fan, you’ll be rewarded with a section of variations on that theme. If you are boring little old me, you’ll be quite happy after a couple of glasses of sparkling rose. And then the wait doesn’t seem so bad.

It was close to 9pm by the time we got seated, after an hour and a half wait at the bar. We ordered liberally, 3 different pies, and started with something I’d had before and could never forget – roasted sugar snap peas with hen of the woods mushroom salad. Another app of smoked sablefish, and that was enough to keep us satisfied between bites, slurps, and conversation.

A week later, I was bit by a bug who convinced me it wouldn’t be too hard to recreate a part of that memorable meal. After work that night, I stopped by Dean & Deluca to purchase a bunch of frisee, hen of the woods mushrooms, garlic, shallots, a lemon, and baby brussel sprouts to sub the sugar snap peas, which disappointingly, were not in stock.

Quick toss in olive oil, salt and pepper, the shallots, mushrooms, and brussel sprouts were roasted. The frisee rinsed and laid into the bottom of a dish. Breadcrumbs were sauteed in olive oil with chopped garlic. Everything was combined and drizzled with some lemon juice. And then a taste…

Maybe the cat will eat it.

Disaster. Way too tart and salty, not at all crunchy and refreshing like the one I’d had at Pulino’s. A sad waste of great ingredients, I could barely finish the plate. The half of leftover ingredients I saved were sauteed for lunch a couple of days later, a more traditional and comfortable preparation, but still nothing like the magic I had tasted. Looks like another trip out is in order!


(Free Ingredients) Roasted Beet Salad

On the 3rd week of my new volunteering gig*, nearly penniless and living with my cat, I bought a box of $3 mesclun greens that I planned to make my lunch for an entire week. But you know me. I’m such a fancy pants I have to jazz up the salad somehow, and with my new beet obsession, it was a no brainer – I bought a bunch of gnarly, dirt covered beets that I planned on transforming, via oven, into beautiful dark cubed up rubies of deliciousness, just like the Jean-Georges creation at ABC Kitchen.

Luckily, a bipolar Mother Nature tossed a couple of cool nights my way, and on one of those nights, I heated up the oven, scrubbed the beets, tossed them in, and prayed for a miracle. An hour and a half later, looking like I had just bludgeoned my furry roommate, my hands stained red, I gathered the chunks of beets into a container and left it in the fridge.

The next morning, I assembled some greens on the bottom of an old chinese food container. Remembering that I had a can of artichokes living in my cupboard for the past year and a half, and feeling like I’d hit the jackpot, I sliced up the artichokes and added a couple to the salad, topping it all off with a nice layer of beets. A mix of balsamic and oil went into an old mini pinot grigio bottle, and quite pleased with myself, I brought it all to work. 

By the end of the day, my stomach had started to grumble, and following Pat’s example, I snuck a couple of slices of serrano and a lot of grapes from off the plates we prepared for a presentation, into my mouth.

I brought the same salad again to work today, making sure to salt and pepper the greens before the artichokes and beets went in. Noticing that some of the chorizo and sopressata were leftover in the work fridge, I quickly stuffed a few into the salad, and also sliced up the leftover presentation strawberries and quickly ran upstairs to my desk.

I think I just had the best salad of my life. All for the added price of zero dollars.

*I’ve yet to receive my 1st paycheck. Generous donations (in the forms of cash, food, or drink) accepted, please email.

 Roasted Beets

  • a bunch of beets, about 4
  • foil

Scrub the beets, trim the ends, and wrap in foil. Roast in oven at 425 degrees for 1-1/2 hrs.

Red Sauce Night

I used to have more time at work, when I’m not running out to the Department of Buildings in the Bronx, and with that time, I used to do some pretty silly things like… planning out a week’s meal on a spreadsheet. It not only helped me keep track of using up the ingredients I had handy, but it also helped me make sure my week had a bit of variety. (And it was also fun to point out to other people how disgustingly anal I could be.)

Having not done that in a while, I mindlessly removed a chunk of ground beef from the freezer and left it in the fridge to defrost. The ground beef lived in the fridge for 1.5 days… long enough to become acquainted with what I am sure is it’s version of a nice tropics-like vacation, so I knew I had to do something with it today.

I need some good recipes for ground beef, because left to my own devices, I will almost always turn to some kind of pasta. Sloppy joes? (Too gross and fast foodish.) Hamburger? (See: sloppy joes.) Sauteed with some cabbage? (Not FUN!) What do people do with ground beef?!!!

I’d always wanted to try to make my own meatballs, especially after the whole meatball craze which left everyone clamoring for tickets to events like Meatball Madness and Meatball Slapdown. There were lamb meatballs at Locanda Verde, duck meatballs at A Voce, meatball sliders at The Little Owl… almost every restaurant now has some version of meatballs on the menu. One day I will visit The Meatball Shop to get my fill of real meatballs, but until then, my scrappy version will suffice!

Whole Wheat Spaghetti and Meatballs


  • a baseball sized portion of ground beef
  • bread crumbs
  • onion powder
  • 1 egg white
  • grated parmesan
  • salt, pepper

I basically mixed all of the above, adding bread crumbs as needed so that the consistency was not too sticky, but sticky enough to hold its shape when formed into a small meatball, about the size of a ping pong ball. It turned out to be about 3 tablespoons of bread crumbs. A sprinkling of everything else, and I was getting impatient. I heated up some olive oil in a pan, added the meatballs (there are about 6) and let them brown on all sides. (I have no idea how people do this. I ended up with some weird octagonal meatballs, each side turned and flattened by the pan.) After they are browned (they’ll continue cooking in the sauce) remove and set aside.

Red Sauce

  • 1 small can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, diced
  • basil

Using the same pan, I sauteed the onion, and then added the can of tomatoes and garlic. Then the meat octagons. Let it simmer away for a bit while the wheat pasta cooks in a pot of salted water, about 9 minutes. Add some finely chopped basil to the sauce, salt and pepper if needed. Drain pasta and top with sauce and meatballs. Add sprig of basil so you guys think I’m fancy.

Now the rest of dinner consisted of a warm roasted vegetable salad. Mostly inspired by Al Di La‘s incredible warm farro salad, I decided to make a version of it with what I had. Which was an unopened package of quinoa, purchased after falling in love with Public‘s quinoa hash brown, which I vowed to recreate… 2 years ago, cauliflower, the other 1/2 an onion, and carrots. Then I bought the cutest little butternut squash.

Roasted Vegetables and Quinoa Salad

  • 1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 1 carrot
  • cauliflower
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup water
  • goat cheese
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • salt, pepper

Toss all the vegetables with olive oil and salt, and roast in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until soft. Do some more tossing halfway, which I didn’t because I forgot. Rinse the quinoa and add water. After it boils, turn the heat down to a simmer and let it cook until the liquid is mostly gone, about 10-15 minutes. Add the vegetables to the quinoa and combine, then toss with the balsamic and olive oil dressing, adding salt and pepper as needed. Crumble some goat cheese on top. I love basil, so I added some for color and flavor.