Aunt Marie’s Escarole and Beans “You only ask the sick.”

I was first introduced to my husband’s family about six years ago.  It was baptism by fire entering Grandma Tessie’s basement for Sunday dinner.  The “dinner” actually started about 2pm and went straight through till ten o’clock that night with course upon course, one more delicious than the next.  The Tranis spend hours on end talking about their family, quoting Grandma Tessie and thoroughly enjoying some pretty amazing food. Even though it has been many family meals since that first meeting, there are certain quotes and people who stand out a little more than others.

aunt marie

Aunt Marie

“You only ask the sick,” happens to be one of my favorite Grandma Tessie quotes. I’m one of those people who absolutely hates to ask for help or ask for anything else for that matter.  Pat’s aunt, Aunt Marie, seemed to get that from day one. Lucky for us, she only lives two doors away and you NEVER have to ask her for anything. She instinctively seems to know when we are getting home late, when our children are sick, or when we just don’t feel like cooking that night. Within minutes, Uncle Louie is ringing the bell with something hot and delicious.

When I first moved into our apartment, the very first thing Aunt Marie sent over was Escarole and Beans.  Up until that point I detested escarole but Pat was enjoying it so much that I had to give it a try…. Needless to say, I make it at least once every two weeks. It is an inexpensive meal that tastes like a feast. Enjoy!

Aunt Marie’s Escarole and Beans

Ingredients:

  • 3 (15.5oz)cans of Goya Small White Beans (for a meatier tasting bean, you can use regular Cannellini beans)
  • 6 small bunches of Escarole
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4tbspn of olive oil
  • 1 8oz can of tomato sauce (we use Red Pack)
  • 3 cups of Chicken Stock
  • 2 cups water
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese (to taste)
  • 1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

1

CLEAN your escarole VERY well… rip apart each leaf in small pieces and clean thoroughly. Let most of the water run off in a colander in the sink. While the escarole is draining, in a large pot (4qrts or bigger) saute the minced garlic in oil till they are a very light brown light brown.

2

Add your chicken stock, water, and escarole with salt and pepper to taste. Don’t worry if you need to push the escarole into the pot. It eventually wilts down to half the pot anyway. Cover with a lid on medium heat for about 25 minutes. Please make sure to mix the pot well every 10 minutes or so. Grab the leaves from the bottom and pull them on top. This way each leaf has a chance to properly cook.

3

Once the leaves have completely wilted and turned a much darker green, add the sauce and all three cannellini bean cans, without rinsing them out. I like to add about 1/4 cup grated cheese and a tsp of red pepper flakes. That is totally up to your own personal preference though.  Lower the heat to a simmer and leave it for about 30-40 minutes. Serve it with some toasted Italian bread slices.

4

The best part of a meal is sharing it. Don’t ask your family, friends or neighbors if they want any…  Just deliver a bowl to them. Remember: “You only ask the sick.”

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Christian & His Shumai

Parents are often dissuaded from taking their young children to restaurants and justifiably so… Trust me, I understand it all too well. What is the mom of an energetic 3 year old to do when she wants a great meal out with no babysitter in site? The right restaurant choice, a smart reservation time and a small bag of tricks for your child can make a drastic difference between an enjoyable dinner and a disaster in the making. My son Christian sees a speech therapist 4 nights a week right after his pre-school program. Most nights we don’t walk in the door till 6-63:0 and its a nice treat to eat once a week.

Lucky for me, Christian has developed an affinity for Japanese food. Since Bay Ridge is much closer to his school, we would often travel in to Fushimi Bay Ridge. We would get there relatively early and the staff was very friendly… However, once it hits 6:30, the staff was quick to move you and attend to the VERY crowded bar space that begins to fill as early as 6pm most days of the week. Not to mention the blasting mega mix booming at the highest volume possible. Don’t get me wrong, I love loud music as much as the next but this was pumping at a club-like level.

Earlier this year, Fushimi opened another location in downtown Brooklyn, Williamsburg. Since we live in Carrol Gardens, we were thrilled. I was nervous to try it because we LOVE the food at the Bay Ridge location and we were afraid to be disappointed. I decided to go with Christian alone… For those of you who have a 3 year old, taking them out to dinner in a new place on a Thursday night at 7pm, you can understand my trepidation. Sometimes when you enter a restaurant with a small child you get “the look” from the wait staff. This was NOT the case with Fushimi. They approached Christian before they even greeted me and sat us immediately in a large booth in the front corner. Even though I came prepared with my usual kit of coloring book, crayons, water colors, paper and playdough, they offered Christian paper and pencil anyway.

23

I decided to order what Christian knows and ask the wait staff for a recommendation or two. Christian wanted the Shrimp Shumai which was the perfect amount of pieces of shrimp and dumpling taste, light and airy and perfect for him to practice his chopstick technique. I ordered the American Dream roll (Rock shrimp tempura inside, topped with spicy kani, spicy creamy sauce) which was amazing. I ordered one roll for fear that Christian may lose patience and begin to act up. I was grateful for my 45 minutes of sitting already! When the waiter returned to ask if I wanted to try a new roll, I explained that it might be pushing it… He told me I needed to try the Aquarium Sushi. I looked up at all the fresh fish in the prep area and gave in. An enormous tray of 12 pieces of assorted Sushi came out and like clockwork Christian became restless. I was just about to ask for the check and ask for it to be wrapped up, when the waiter came over with the hostess, took Christian by the hand, and walked him over to the sushi prep station… I was in shock. The hostess returned back to my table, winked and told me to enjoy my food. I will forever appreciate their hospitality.

The Aquarium Sushi

The Aquarium Sushi

The Sashimi was unbelievable fresh and the presentation was amazing. I ate as much as I could and walked over to Christian who was now dancing in the entrance to lounge/bathroom area with our waiter. Think Mace and Puff Daddy: Mo Money, Mo Problems music video. I laughed the whole car ride home and even now, I’m cracking up at the memory.

Christian at Fushimi, Williamsburg.

Christian at Fushimi, Williamsburg.

Delicious food, gracious wait staff, hustling atmosphere, reasonable prices and patience for my 3 year old makes Fushimi Williamsburg one of our favorite places to eat. We will be back soon!

I have to mention that there is a Prix Fixe 4 Course Menu – $27.95: Sunday – Thursday! Check it all out at, here.  Become a fan of Fushimi on Facebook!