Monthly Archives: July 2010

Pork Roll, Egg and Cheese: A New Jersey Wonder

Whether you are from North, Central or South Jersey, Pork Roll, Egg & Cheese is the ultimate Jersey breakfast and late-night diner sandwich.

If you’re from North Jersey, you call it Taylor Ham, Egg & Cheese and if you’re from the Jersey Shore on down, it becomes Pork Roll, Egg & Cheese.  I’m not really sure what the Central Jersey peeps do.

From what I hear it’s almost impossible to get outside of the tri-state area – what will I do if I ever move?  It’s a heart attack on a plate that I prefer to enjoy (no matter the time of day) with a side of french fries and brown gravy (on the side, of course).

This morning was no exception.  I can’t figure out why I would snarf such a giant calorie fest when I have to put on a bikini in a little while.  I guess I’m just a masochist or a Jersey Girl – probably a little of both.  The extra side of sausage was just an unnecessary evil but I couldn’t resist – I’ll be stuffed until dinner.

Pork Roll, Egg & Cheese even tastes great at 4 am after a serious night of clubbing and drinking.  It takes the drunk edge off but can sometimes drive you to the porcelain god if you’re not careful.

I tried to make it at home many times but it NEVER tastes as good as the diner’s.  Maybe it’s the melted yellow, American cheese or maybe it’s the greasy griddle that it’s cooked on.  I don’t know but it’s one of my go-to food splurges.

If you’ve never indulged in this Jersey wonder, I recommend you do so as soon as possible.  It’s a little taste of Jersey that will probably stay with you all day!

What do you think?

Picture Courtesy of nj.com

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

My Favorite Comfort Food

Comfort food is a relative term.

Comfort food is a relative term. Since last September, I’ve been indulging in comfort food all the time – that would explain my 20 pound weight gain. Yeah, yeah – I know you’ve heard it before… I’m just so upset by myself for gaining back some weight. In any case….

My favorite comfort food is a handful of ravioli in a quick marinara. When my mom was still alive and I went to visit, she always asked me what I wanted her to make me – and it was always a handful of ravies. This was home.

When I’m upset or sad, or mad for that matter, I always turn to macaroni. Whether it’s ravioli in gravy (red) or pastina with a little grated cheese and truffle oil, I’m overwhelmingly comforted.

Now what I want to know, is it mental or physical? Do the carbs make me feel good or is it the memory of family that makes it so appealing?

I’d opt for the latter. What food calms you down and makes it all better? I’d love to know.

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010

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The Water Club: Atlantic City, New Jersey

If you’ve never visited The Water Club in Atlantic City, New Jersey, then it’s a must-do on your next trip to the Jersey Shore.

My husband and I stayed over for a few days and really enjoyed it.  We even make day trips to the Sunroom for a couple of cocktails and some atmosphere.

The pools are amazing and only open to adults 18 years old or older – for us that’s a BIG part of the appeal.  The rooms are beautiful.  We stayed in a Vista Room which has panoramic water views, well worth the price (weekdays are reasonable but weekends are beaucoup bucks).

The space was very comfortable and large but I did have an issue with the cleaning staff.  Maybe I’m just OCD but I thought the room could have been cleaned a little better during our stay.
The bathrooms are beautiful and fully stocked with Lather bath products and complete with robes and slippers that you can take home (slippers only).

This was our view from our 28th floor Vista Room.

There is so much to do in AC all day and all night long.  Whether you decide to stay in or go out, you’ll have a blast.

Take the Jitney, visit the outlets or the Pier Shops at Caesars, have a first class dinner or lunch on the boardwalk.  Your possibilities are infinite.

Has anyone else been to The Water Club?  I’d love to hear your reactions.

The Sunroom.

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad

I love pasta.  It doesn’t matter the type or the preparation, I’ll eat it until I burst from too much semolina.

Summertime and macaroni are often difficult to put together.  I don’t know about you but I don’t like to eat anything too heavy when it’s hot out – though this doesn’t explain my summer weight gain – must be the booze.

In any case I came across a recipe for Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, courtesy of Ina Garten, aka The Barefoot Contessa, and made it for lunch on Sunday afternoon.  I substituted a few things because another visit to Shop Rite wasn’t in my plan for the day.  I hope you enjoy this tasty creation.

Pasta With Sun-Dried Tomatoes

1/2 pound fusilli (spirals) pasta – I used pipette
Kosher or sea salt
Olive oil
1 pound ripe tomatoes, medium-diced
3/4 cup good black olives, such as kalamata, pitted and diced – I used a can of black olives
1 pound fresh mozzarella, medium-diced
6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

For the dressing:
5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons good olive oil
1 garlic clove, diced
1 teaspoon capers, drained
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano
1 cup packed basil leaves, julienned

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water with a splash of oil to keep it from sticking together. Boil for 12 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain well and allow to cool. Place the pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

For the dressing, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth.

Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan and basil, and toss well.

Serves 6-8

Bon Appétit!

Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten & The Food Network.  Link above.
Original photo by CultureChoc2010.

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Can I do Chuck?

I was watching A Walk on the Moon today when it brought back a childhood memory for me that I wanted to share with you.  In the movie Diane Lane’s character’s son asks if he could do Chuck… Let me explain.

When I was growing up my Aunt Mimi taught me this little rhymey thing that I used to chant all the time.  Let’s use the name MARY.  It went something like this:

  • Mary Bumbary Tree airy go Fairy, tee like-a, tee like-a, bow-legged Mary.

Let’s try the name Tony:

  • Tony Bumboney Tree oney go Foney, tee like-a, tee like-a, bow-legged Tony.

Now for Chuck – who I ALWAYS begged for – but like the kid in the movie – always asked permission:

  • Chuck Bumbuck Tree uck go Fuck, tee like-a, tee like-a, bow-legged Chuck.

Although the movie used a different one, you can see the appeal for a little kid.  I always heard the word but wouldn’t dare say it without my favorite limerick.

Then enter my first cousin Janice – 17 years my senior.

Janice loved to trick me into saying dirty words and reciting limericks to my parents and relatives, only to be rewarded by, “Jackie!  Don’t say that!”  This reaction even made it more interesting to a push-the-buttons little girl who loved to test the boundaries.

The funny thing is that I remember EVERY SINGLE WORD.  I am the Valedictorian of dirty limericks and spout them on occasion at parties and social gatherings – prefacing my performance with the disclaimer I mentioned above.

Does anybody remember…..

  • There was a man from Boston, who bought a little Austin.  There was room for his ass and a gallon of gas and his b**** hung out and he lost them.
  • There was a man from Saint Paul who worked in a musical hall.  His favorite trick was to stand on his d*** and roll off the stage on his b****.
  • A loving young couple named Kelly are now living belly to belly, because in their haste they used library paste instead of petroleum jelly.
  • Nature, nature, nature it’s the law, law, law when a guy gets a girl against the wall, wall, wall…….(and so on).

And the infamous……

  • She was coming round the mountain doing 60, when the wheel on her motorcycle broke.  She was laying in the grass with the muffler up her *** and her **** were playing Dixie on the spokes.

As dirty limericks go, they’re pretty good.

Does anyone remember anything similar in their lives?  Do tell.  I don’t want to be the only freakazoid on Earth.

Image: Darren Robertson / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

When We Don’t Have The Words

Sometimes we just don’t have the words to express what we want or need to say.  Here are some of my favorite quotes:

  • “L’enfer, c’est les autres.” (Hell is other people.) – Jean-Paul Sartre
  • “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” – Simone de Beauvoir
  • “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. It’s better to be rich.” – Gertrude Stein
  • “America is my country and Paris is my hometown.” – Gertrude Stein
  • “A woman who thinks she is intelligent demands the same rights as man. An intelligent woman gives up.” – Sidonie Gabrielle Colette
  • “Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” – Franz Kafka
  • “I prefer a pleasant vice to an annoying virtue.” – Molière
  • “A dame that knows the ropes isn’t likely to get tied up.” – Mae West
  • “I don’t know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot.” – Marilyn Monroe
  • “I rant, therefore I am.” – Dennis Miller
  • “Sex is as important as eating or drinking and we ought to allow the one appetite to be satisfied with as little restraint or false modesty as the other.” – Marquis de Sade
  • “Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.” – Sophia Loren
  • “Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.” – Janis Joplin

What’s your favorite quote?  Please share.

Image: Gregory Szarkiewicz / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Baths vs. Showers: The Best Way To Get Wet

When I was little I always wanted to take a big-girl shower.  My mom made me take baths for a long time but I endlessly longed for a that spray of water on top of my head while I opened my mouth to get a taste.

As a teenager, I thought baths were gross.  Sitting there in your own filthy water while an errant hair floats by – YUK!  I could not bear it and I had to have the cleanest OCD tub in NJ.

Adulthood has brought me to the realization that I love baths again.  A bubble bath, an oil bath, a foam bath or a salt bath.  I’ll take them all.  I lower the lights in my bathroom, light some scented candles, pour a glass of Old Vine Zin and try to coax my other half to join me (he never does – I think we need a bigger tub).

I dream about a giant tub for two.  A bathtub where I can stretch out, covered in water from neck to toe (with no parts sticking out).  A soaking tub – with heated jets and aromatherapy – and maybe a sauna or steam to boot.

I’m glad that I haven’t forgotten – or rather can re-appreciate a good old bath and its therapeutic qualities.

What do you prefer?  A bath or a shower?  I still can’t decide the best way to get wet…. well I can, but that has nothing to do with bathing – but that’s another blog.

Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

New England Clam Chowder… The BEST

Recently I have been blogging about food and recipes original and borrowed.  My obsession with food is evident in my 20 pound weight gain over the past year – causing me to gain 2 sizes – from a 4 to an 8.  I must say it’s been worth it.  I love to cook and I love to eat more.

I’m always trying to create or perfect existing recipes to please my sense of taste and style.  After searching for years for a great New England Clam Chowder recipe, I decided to make my own and I think that it is the best I’ve ever tasted.

A Jersey Girl’s New England Clam Chowder

1/2 lb bacon, medium dice
1 large onion red or yellow, chopped
1/2 c chopped celery
1 carrot, peeled and diced
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
1/2 c all purpose flour
1 lb red potatoes, medium to small dice (approx 8 small)
4 c clam juice (I use the juice from the clams only if using canned)
2 c heavy cream
2 lbs little neck clams, shucked and chopped or 1 – 3 lb can clams or 6-8 small cans, reserve juice
2 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy stockpot or Dutch Oven, over medium-high heat, render the bacon, until crispy, about 8 minutes.  Stir in the onions, celery and carrot.

Sauté until the vegetables start to wilt.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the bay leaves and thyme.  Stir in the flour and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring.  Add the potatoes.  Stir in the reserved clam juice.  Bring liquid up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 12 minutes.  Add cream and bring up to a simmer.

Add the clams and simmer for 2 minutes.  Stir in parsley.  Season with salt and pepper if needed.  Ladle into shallow bowls and serve.

Serves 6 – 8

I hope you will try it out and let me know what you think.

Do you have a favorite Clam Chowder recipe?

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Summer Garden Tomato Salad

Yesterday I grilled a marinated pork tenderloin and needed a side dish that was light and summery.  Instead of an ordinary tomato salad with olive oil and basil and garlic I decided to try a new twist on the usual suspect.  I raided my garden for fresh ingredients and was delighted at the results.  I actually wrote it down.  I rarely write my recipes down;  1.  because I don’t measure and 2.  because it rarely crosses my mind to put it down on paper.

I must say that it was delectable!  I had a hard time not eating the entire bowl.  I begrudgingly left some for my husband’s lunch and tucked it away in the fridge so it didn’t tempt me anymore.  John called me this morning to tell me that the salad was delicious and asked if I could make it again.  Good thing I wrote it down!

Jacqui’s Summer Tomato Salad

Salad:
3 – 4 tomatoes cut into chunks
a handful of cherry tomatoes from the garden
2 – 3 slices of Italian bread, toasted or grilled and rubbed with a garlic clove – cut into chunks
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cucumber, peeled and chunked
a hunk of fresh mozzarella, diced
fresh herbs from garden:  basil, oregano, thyme – chopped
a handful of grated romano cheese
salt & pepper to taste
a pinch of sugar

Dressing (you may have extra):
1/4 c x virgin olive oil
a splash of balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
fresh thyme – a pinch

Combine all salad ingredients in a bowl.  Toss.  In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine dressing ingredients and whisk well.  Pour over salad and mix together.  Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 4-6

The bread soaks up the dressing and transforms into a mouth-watering delight.  Let me know what you think.  Enjoy!

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Mixed Berry Tiramisu

One of my favorite desserts is Tiramisu, whether it’s a traditional version, a toasted almond treat or a berry delight.  Every year I dazzle my holiday dinner guests with a Mixed Berry Tiramisu, a recipe that I cut out of a Bon Appétit Magazine ages ago.  I cannot take credit for this recipe but I will take credit for its execution.

  • 1 12-ounce package unsweetened frozen mixed berries
  • 12 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen raspberries in syrup, thawed
  • 1/4 cup raspberry liqueur
  • 3 4.40-ounce packages Champagne biscuits (4-inch-long ladyfinger-like biscuits)
  • 3 8-ounce containers mascarpone cheese
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1-pint basket strawberries, hulled
  • 2 1/2-pint baskets raspberries
  • 1 1/2-pint basket blueberries

Cook frozen mixed berries and 6 tablespoons sugar in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until mixture resembles jam and is reduced to 1 cup, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes. Cool jam mixture.

Strain syrup from thawed raspberries through sieve set over bowl, pressing gently on solids. Discard solids. Add raspberry liqueur to raspberry syrup in bowl. Using sharp knife, trim 1 biscuit to 3-inch (about) length. Quickly dip biscuit into syrup, turning to coat lightly. Place rounded end up and sugared side against side of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Repeat with as many biscuits as necessary to cover sides of pan. Dip more biscuits in syrup and arrange on bottom of pan, covering completely and trimming to fit.

In bowl, whisk mascarpone with 6 tablespoons sugar and vanilla to blend. Set aside. Thinly slice enough strawberries to measure 1/2 cup. Gently spread half of jam mixture over biscuits in bottom of pan. Spoon half of mascarpone mixture over; smooth top. Sprinkle with sliced strawberries, 1/2 cup fresh raspberries and 1/2 cup blueberries. Dip more biscuits into syrup; arrange over fruit in pan, covering completely and trimming to fit. Gently spread remaining jam mixture over biscuits. Spoon remaining mascarpone mixture over; smooth top. Cover; chill at least 4 hours or overnight.

Release pan sides. Transfer cake to platter. Arrange remaining fresh berries decoratively atop cake and serve.

Serves 10.

I hope you’ll try it.  Enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Bon Appétit, August 1993.

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.