Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Italian Pantry: Tomato Paste

Tomato paste is an essential ingredient in the Italian pantry. Tomato paste is made by cooking down and drying tomatoes until they form a thick paste of concentrated tomato flavor. These days, most people buy tomato paste rather than cook their own.

What is it used for? We add this to our tomato sauce/gravy or soups to thicken it. Just remember that the tube is more concentrated than the cans of tomato paste, so you use less of it.

–Dina Di Maio


St. Anthony Bread for the Poor

June 13 is the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua. It is tradition to make bread for the poor to remind us to be mindful of those less fortunate. I got some today at St. Anthony of Padua church in Soho.  I attended Mass in Italian and will be at the procession tonight.


Shamrock Linzer Cookies

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Why not celebrate with a shamrock Linzer cookie from La Guli Pastry Shop in Astoria, Queens.


The 30th International Festival of Raleigh

I went to the first night of the 30th International Festival of Raleigh tonight.  The festival runs all weekend and features a marketplace and booths representing food and goods from different countries.  There’s also a stage for dances and shows and cooking demonstrations.  I sampled much delicious food, including

Brazilian cheddar and cream cheese breads (these were soooo good!)

cheese bread

yummy veggie samosa and sweet potato fries from Kenya


delicious cheese arepa from Venezuela


Dutch doughnuts, yummy warm fried dough with raisins

Dutch doughnuts

Bolani, a delicious savory fried pastry filled with potatoes, onions and garlic, from Afghanistan


Egyptian kushari, a comforting bowl of lentils, rice, macaroni and caramelized onions

kushari, koshary

Brazilian beijinho, a sweet coconut brigadeiro

beijinho, brigadeiro

and parata, a sweet, sugared fried dough from Afghanistan



Creamy Tropical Fruit Salad

I got a golden dragon melon at the Asian market this week and decided to make a tropical fruit salad.  If you’ve never had a golden dragon melon, it tastes like a cantaloupe.

golden dragon melon, golden melon

Creamy Tropical Fruit Salad

1 can coconut milk

3 tablespoons lime juice

assorted fruits of your choice–I used:

1 golden dragon melon; seeded, peeled and diced

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2 pints strawberries, sliced

3 bananas, sliced

1 mango, peeled and sliced

1/2 cup coconut flakes, unsweetened and organic

Mix all together and top with some extra coconut flakes.  Refrigerate.  Best the second day.

fruit salad

Buttermilk Dill Pasta Salad

buttermilk, dill, pasta salad

I also made this Buttermilk Dill Pasta Salad for my Fourth of July party.  I used a box of spelt pasta instead of the whole wheat shells, and I doubled the dill.  I did not use bacon either, as I have some vegetarian guests!


The 8th Annual New Taste of the Upper West Side This May

This May, get ready for the 8th annual New Taste of the Upper West Side, a three-night celebration of the restaurants and chefs of the Upper West Side, and one of my favorite food events in the city.  (I’ve written about New Taste of the Upper West Side before.)  This year, food celebrities NBC’s Adam Richman, host of Food Fighters, Food Network’s Anne Burrell, host of Worst Cooks of America, and Marc Murphy, owner and executive chef of Benchmarc Restaurants (Landmarc and Ditch Plains), executive chef of Kingside and judge of Food Network’s Chopped, will be hosting.  Over 80 area restaurants will be participating, some new and some returning, including Momofuku Milk BarBar Boulud, Boulud Sud, Sarabeth’s, The Meatball Shop, ParmRedFarm, Luke’s Lobster, Shake ShackRosa MexicanoTavern on the Green, and The Ribbon.  Participating chefs include Sarabeth Levine, Christina Tosi, Jacques Torres, Cesare Casella, Rich Torrisi and Bruce & Eric Bromberg.

Events include

1.  Soirée in the Park is an outdoor cocktail party with live chamber music, champagne and hors d’oeuvres from a number of restaurants like Sarabeth’s and Luke’s Lobster.  The event is a fundraiser for Theodore Roosevelt Park, surrounding the American Museum of Natural History, and all net proceeds are donated for park enhancements.

Where: Theodore Roosevelt Park

When: Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 at 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM  (Rain Date: Thursday, May 28th, 2015 at 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM)

Cost: $150 per person

2.  Comfort Classics presented by Sysco.  Forty UWS restaurants compete for “Best Comfort Food Dish.”  NBC’s Adam Richman, host of Food Fighters and author of  Straight Up Tasty (released May 2015) is host. Food Network’s  Katie Lee will be autographing a limited number of copies of her new book, Endless Summer CookbookChristina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar will be there along with Shake Shack, Sarabeth’s, The Meatball Shop and an impressive list of area restaurants. There will be international wine selections, cocktails and live music by the Silver Arrow Band. 

Where: Columbus Avenue between West 76th and 77th Streets

When: Friday, May 29th, 2015 at 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Cost: $105 per person or 2 for $185

3.  Best of the West is an event celebrating the Upper West Side’s most famous and celebrated restaurants and chefs.  There will be wonderful cuisine, world-class wines and cocktails, and music by Joe Battaglia & The New York Big Band.  Hosts are Anne Burrell, host of Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America, and Marc Murphy, judge of Food Network’s Chopped.  Over 40 area restaurants will be participating.

Where: Columbus Avenue between West 76th and 77th Streets

When: Saturday, May 30th, 2015 at 7:30 PM – 10 PM

Cost: $135 per person or 2 for $250

Best of the West also offers a VIP experience, Best of the West VIP, with exclusive access to a private lounge to enjoy unlimited champagne. VIP guests receive a gift bag of goodies from Upper West Side shops and sponsors, and participate in private book signings with complimentary cookbooks from Anne Burrell and Marc Murphy.  VIP admission starts an hour earlier than the event, so you can mingle with star chefs.

Best of the West VIP

Where: Columbus Avenue between West 76th and 77th Streets

When: Saturday, May 30th, 2015 at 6:30 PM – 10 PM

Cost: $225 per person

This year’s event sponsors include Ford, New York Post, Palm Bay International, Sysco Foods, Manhattan Beer, Argo Real Estate, Brusco Group, Celebrity Cruises, Diamond Kosher Salt, Rosa Mexicano, The Westsider, The Spirit, Alan Garten & Friends, Barritt’s Ginger Beer, Beacon, Belvedere Capital, doNYC, Five Star Catering, Flowers on the Park, Jana Water, Polar Beverages, Richard Bloch Architect, Tito’s Vodka, West Side Rag and White Plains Linen.

The Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District (“BID”), a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit, created the annual event and donates all net proceeds to the area for improvement and beautification projects, such as the Columbus Avenue BID’s Sustainable Streetscape project, the Wellness in the Schools program, Greenhouse Classroom, Citymeals-on-Wheels and Theodore Roosevelt Park.