Left to right: me(Veronica), my sister Roxanne, my niece Amanda
For those of you who follow me on Instagram @collardgreenscaviar, your heads where probably spinning from my posts of my East Coast eating adventure last month.
For those of you who don’t follow me, you are in luck because I will take you on a visual walk down “Mmm-mmm Good” memory lane to get you up to speed.
Top left to right: National Constitution Center Liberty Bell; Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Bottom left to right: photo exhibit from National Museum of African American History and Culture; Statute of Liberty view from Staten Island Ferry.
My eight-day East Coast jaunt was a whirlwind of gastric and scenic proportions. I visited Philadelphia, New Jersey, D.C., New York and a few other spots in between. And like any tourist I visited the National Constitution Center, Central Park, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Atlantic City, New York City and Staten Island – just to mention a few highlights. I also dined out for eight consecutive days! For some, that’s par for the kitchen. For this home cooking enthusiastic, it was epic and unheard of.
I didn’t have a bad meal the entire time. Here’s a few (not all by any means) fork-to-mouth highlights of my epicurean excursion:
Sabrina’s Café – Collingwood, New Jersey
My sister, niece, nephew and I took the red eye from Los Angeles to Philly and arrived in the early morning. Our host and family member Karen Washington suggested we have breakfast and what a great breakfast we had at Sabrina’s Café. I ordered the Bella Vista Omelette. With this create-your-own omelet we added Provolone cheese, spinach, and cherry-wood smoked bacon. The portion size was humongous, so my sister and I shared it. This picture is a half serving plated with potatoes and toast.
Kelsey’s – Atlantic City, New Jersey
Kelsey’s is such a quaint restaurant whose food feed our souls. We enjoyed sharing this cornbread appetizer platter with butter. It had a lightly sweet, cake like texture. I ordered the Chicken wing dinner which was accompanied with a side of collard greens and macaroni and cheese. My sister ordered the catfish dinner. It was comfort food at its best. And dining while listening to soulful, live music was such a bonus.
Whistlers Inn Bar and Pub
Whistlers Inn Bar and Pub – Cinnaminson, New Jersey
The food at this neighborhood pub was surprising good. Sometimes you just want good bar food and this place delivered. We ordered an array of foods to feed our hunger for something fried and crunchy. Featured here are a few goodies: fried appetizer basket of stuffed jalapenos, mushrooms and mozzarella sticks; nachos, fries and buffalo wings. They specialize in smoked ribs and I regret we didn’t try them, but like I said, I was craving fried and crunchy food.
Bus Boys and Poets
Bus Boys and Poets – Washington, D.C.
This joint was dope. Yup I said that. It’s a restaurant, book store and community gathering place. It had a real cool vibe and we enjoyed some real cool food. I had the grilled Catfish served on top of a corn cake with collard greens topped with a lovely lemon butter sauce, finished with capers and chopped tomatoes. It was an OMG moment for my mouth. My sister enjoyed the Blackened Salmon which was served with wild rice, asparagus, roasted corn salsa, tomato, shallots, lemon butter sauce.
Frankie Boys Pizza
Frankie Boys Pizza, New York City, New York
The selections were mind blowing. I decided on a slice of vegetarian pizza which is cool because in Los Angeles most pizza joints don’t sell it by the slice. But in New York, slices abound! This slice was the bit of heaven I had been craving. I even topped it with granulated garlic which I had not experienced in Los Angeles. It was so good and that additional zhuzh of granulated garlic was everything! Oh and a little side note: former NBA player Dennis Rodman ate there and his colorful food review/interview is on YouTube. Warning: it’s bit crude.
Lolo’s Seafood Shack
Lolo’s Seafood Shack – New York City, New York
Like Sylvia’s in Harlem, Lolo’s is a bit of a destination spot for tourists. We were tourists. But we were tourist who weren’t hungry for fried seafood but hungry for a dining experience in Harlem. Lolo’s gave us that. The vibe was cool although it was just a bit too humid to dine in their open air picnic area. There were great alternatives to fried seafood and we enjoyed small plates of dirty rice, smoked wings, jerk ribs, chilled broccoli salad and wok seared cauliflower that had a smokey flavor that kissed the roof of my mouth. Good eating folks! On my return visit I must try the crab cakes. They looked divine!
Carollo’s and Geno’s cheesesteak – oh and my brother Montie clutching his cheesesteak.
We couldn’t head back East without getting a Philly Cheesesteak either, right? I had a tasty one at Carollo’s in Pennsauken, New Jersey and in Philly we stopped into Geno’s Steaks to pick up a cheesesteak to take home to my brother. He was very happy.
Dinner for Centurion Aunt Edna
Another highlight of the trip was when the dials of two stove tops were handed over to me while in New Jersey. I was honored to prepare my signature grilled salmon, rice medley and sautéed savoy cabbage for a beloved family Centurion Aunt Edna. The sister Roxanne was a great sous chef! Later in the trip, I prepared a vegetarian pasta for another lovely family member Karen Washington to thank her for being such a great East Coast tour guide.
Corn from Hunters Farm Market and Karen’s pasta
The pasta recipe I made for Karen is shared here. I call it Karen’s Vegetarian Pasta simply because I made it specifically for her and as you’ve probably noted, she’s a vegetarian. The star of the recipe is fresh, picked daily, sweet corn we got from Hunters Farm Market in Cinnaminson, New Jersey.
This pasta recipes features linguine noodles (but you can use any pasta shape you like) and is made with a mixed medley of cherry tomatoes and grilled asparagus. It’s a vegetarian delight. You can certainly add some grilled or cooked protein, but honestly speaking, you don’t need it.
Karen's Vegetarian Pasta
A delicious vegetarian pasta.
2 pints cherry tomatoes,rinsed and halved
1 bundle asparagus, grilled and spears chopped in half
1 ear of corn, grilled and cut from cob
Fresh basil, chopped (eight to ten leaves will work nicely)
½ medium red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives, cut in half
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt, cracked pepper, red pepper flakes
½ pound linguine (organic used here)
To prepare asparagus
- Trim woody ends from asparagus by snapping off the ends, or cutting with a knife.
- Rinse and pat dry.
- Heat 1-2 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.
- Add asparagus. Cook, turning occasionally, until tender (5 to 9 minutes).
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove and place on cutting board. Cut each spear in half and set aside.
To prepare corn
- To that same skillet, add 1 more table of olive oil and cook the ear of corn, rotating it in the in pan until it is lightly browned (5-9 minutes).
- Remove from pan, set aside and once cooled, cut kernels from the cob.
To prepare pasta sauce
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet set at medium heat. Add chopped onion and saute until tender and translucent about 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heat resistant spatula.
- Add chopped garlic and saute until fragrant, just under a minute.
- Add halved cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives and 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Mix well.
- Turn up heat to bring mixture to a gentle boil. Then cover with a lid and reduce heat to a simmer.
- While sauce is simmering, cook pasta according to directions until al dente.
- After simmering sauce for 10 minutes, carefully mash tomatoes with a potato masher or fork until they are all broken apart.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, cracked pepper and red pepper flakes (perhaps 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon) to taste and chopped basil to sauce. Let it continue simmering until the pasta is done, about 5 more minutes.
- Drain pasta when done, but reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.
- Add cooked pasta to sauce and mix well. Fold in cooked corn, asparagus and add half of pasta water to loosen sauce. Add more in necessary.
- Serve with Parmesan cheese grated over the entire pan or grated on separate servings, if desired.