The Best Hot Dog In NYC

Is Papaya King on 86th Street and Third Avenue and has a rich history in NYC.

Baseball season is upon us and it got me thinking about what is the best hot dog in NYC? I have tried hot dogs all over the city and I think Papaya King is the winner. In 1923 a man named Constantine Poulos immigrated from Greece and ended up in New York City. Poulos found work at a deli. He worked there for several years before purchasing the deli. In 1932 Poulos took a trip to Cuba and discovered a Papaya juice that he fell in love with. When he returned to NYC he was unable to find papaya so he figured out a way to import the fruit to New York. He then decided to sell the deli and open up Hawaiian Tropical Drinks on 86th Street and Third Avenue. In many ways he was the pioneer in juice bars. The tropical juice was a big hit and Poulos opened up other locations. In 1939 Poulos began serving hot dogs at Hawaiian Tropical Drinks. The location of the first Hawaiian Tropical Drinks was in an area known as Yorkville. Yorkville was an area largely populated by German and Polish people and wurst was a very popular food . The addition of hot dogs to Poulos’s juice bar was in keeping with the wurst sold and consumed by people who lived in Yorkville. While seeming to be a very strange combination the papaya juice and hot dog actually go quite well together.

Apparently the name Papaya King was not coined until the 1960’s when a famous Brooklyn Dodger who loved the juice and hot dogs began calling the place “Papaya King”. The name stuck and eventually the place was renamed Papaya King. There have been many imitators but the original is still the best. The hot dog is made with a secret recipe as are the sweet onions that are a must on top. The hot dog has the perfect snap with lots of garlic, salt and spice and is delicious with the soft white bun. You can of course eat the hot dog with mustard or ketchup, or both. Add some sauerkraut if you wish but I highly suggest it with just the sweet, tangy tomato based onions. I am not alone when I say that it is the best hot dog; Julia Child who was a huge fan of hot dogs rated it the “best hot dog in New York” in 1990.

So if you live in New York or are visiting from somewhere I strongly urge you to make a stop at this iconic storefront on 86th and Third.I remember coming here in the 1970’s with my grandparents. We would walk down 86th street and grab a hot dog and then visit some of the other stores in Yorkville like the one that sold beautiful marzipan which has now closed. While the neighborhood changes around it and big buildings are replacing smaller storefronts Papaya King remains the same and thank goodness it does. I now stroll down 86th street with my daughter to grab a hot dog before going to Whole Foods. Eating a hot dog here while sipping the tropical juice is quintessential New York and something I hope never changes.

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Asparagus with Hard Boiled Egg and Prosciutto

Asparagus with Hard Boiled Egg and Prosciutto

My mother gifted to me her beloved asparagus dishes. I absolutely love these dishes. They have a beautiful vintage feel and are specifically designed to be used only for asparagus. It’s a pleasure to pull these dishes out of the cabinet to serve asparagus. I don’t use them often but when I do it reminds me of how detailed my mother was when she entertained. It’s very special to acquire some kitchen pieces that you can pass down to future generations. There is a closeness that is felt when you know that you are eating off the same plates that your ancestors ate from.

Should I buy thick or thin asparagus?

There are different size asparagus available. Some are pencil thin and others are thicker. If you are roasting the asparagus in the oven the thin asparagus will work great. You do not need to peel thin asparagus. You simply trim off the bottom, rinse them off, toss with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. The asparagus will be done in under 5 minutes in a 400 degree oven. You can serve them with a little salt and pepper or shave some Parmigiana Reggiano on top. This makes a beautiful appetizer or side dish.

The thicker asparagus need to be trimmed and peeled from below the tip to the bottom. In this recipe I boil the asparagus for around 6 minutes until they are tender but still bright green. You do not want to serve a brown, over-cooked asparagus. After six minutes you should spill out the water and rinse asparagus with cold water and place in an ice bath to stop the cooking. After 5 minutes you can remove the asparagus from the ice bath and place on plates. The asparagus can stay at room temperature for an hour so this is a great appetizer to make when you are entertaining.

How to make a perfect hard boiled egg:

The perfect hard boiled egg should not have dark area between the yolk and white. That does not look nice. You need to pierce the bottom of the egg with an egg piercer before you gently submerge the egg into water. I like the Endurance egg piercer available on Amazon. Take the eggs out of the refrigerator 5 minutes before you place them into the boiling water so they are not shocked by the water. After the eggs have boiled for 10 minutes, turn off the heat and allow them to remain in water for a few minutes. Then set them aside or refrigerate until you are ready to use them. You will have beautiful yellow and white hard boiled eggs.

Some other serving ideas for asparagus:

  • A simple dressing made with Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar, a touch of Dijon and salt and pepper
  • Chilled chopped crabmeat or shrimp mixed with mayonnaise and dill
  • Shredded Gruyere or Parmigiana Reggiano. Place under the broiler for a minute to melt if desired.
  • Hollandaise sauce
  • Brunch idea: Top with a fried egg and ham
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Asparagus with Hard Boiled Egg and Prosciutto

Hard boiled eggs are chopped and sprinkled over the Asparagus before adding thin slices of prosciutto
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Salad, lunch
Cuisine: American
Keyword: vegetable, Side Dishes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 272kcal


  • egg piercer


  • 16 pc asparagus large not pencil thin
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ lb prosciutto di parma sliced thin


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried mustard
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper



  • pierce eggs with egg piercer
  • boil water in a sauce pan and gently add eggs
  • boil eggs for 10 minutes and then turn off heat. Leave eggs in hot water.


  • peel the stem of asparagus and cut an inch off bottom. Rinse in cold water.
  • Boil water in a large, deep frying pan. Asparagus need to lay flat in pan.
  • add asparagus to pan so they are completely submerged in water
  • boil for 5 or 6 minutes until bright green and fork tender
  • remove from heat and place asparagus in ice and water to stop cooking


  • Mix ingredients together and whisk rapidly until emulsified.
  • Taste to adjust salt and pepper

Assemble Plate

  • Peel eggs and separate yolk from white. Chop each separately
  • Lay 4 asparagus on each plate
  • Drizzle dressing over asparagus
  • Top with a line of chopped egg yolk and chopped egg white
  • Add sliced prosciutto and serve


I always pierce my eggs with an egg piercer before I boil them. This prevents the dark line appearing between the yolk and white and will also make the egg easier to peel.


Serving: 1person | Calories: 272kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Sodium: 511mg | Potassium: 99mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 160IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg

Steak with Balsamic and Rosemary

Steak with Balsamic and Rosemary

Sirloin Steak quickly marinated in Balsamic Vinegar, Rosemary and Olive Oil

Typical I love to grill a steak on an outdoor barbecue but there are days during the cold winter months that I crave that char on the outside steak. You know what I am taking about; that steak that has a delicious sear on the outside but when you cut into the steak it is that beautiful pink color and so juicy. This recipe can work well whether you are preparing the steak indoors or out. To prepare the steak in your kitchen you will need to have a cast iron grill pan. I really like the one I have from Lodge which happens to be on sale right now on Amazon. The greatest thing about this grill pan is that you can also use it as a griddle and at 20 inches long it fits over 2 burners which allows for even heat and room for lots of food. This pan comes pre-seasoned so it’s ready to use. To care for a cast iron pan you should wash after use and dry well then use a paper towel to rub a small amount of vegetable oil over pan before putting it away. The light layer of vegetable oil will prevent rusting and insure years of use. A well seasoned cast iron pan is a treasure and should last many years.

The steak needs to be taken out of the refrigerator 20 minutes before you are ready to grill it. This time is used to quickly marinate the steak and bring up the temperature before grilling. A good steak should not go straight from the refrigerator to the grill. In order to have a warm, pink inside you must bring the temperature of the steak up a bit. I think that 20 minutes is the right amount of time. This is also when I quickly marinate the steak in Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil and Rosemary. This seasons the steak and allows for a beautiful caramelization to occur on the outside of the steak when it is grilled. While grilling the steak I continue to baste it with a Rosemary brush dipped in Olive Oil and add a little butter on top of each steak.

Using an Herb Brush

Using an herb brush is a great way to baste steak, fish or chicken. I like to use Rosemary with steak but you can also make an herb brush with thyme, sage. It is very easy to make an herb brush, simply tie a bunch of herbs together with twine. If you are using an herb brush when you are grilling on a barbecue you may want to attach the brush to a wooden chopstick to create a handle so your hand doesn’t get too close to the fire. An herb brush will season the oil as you baste and adds a lot of flavor to your food

Plating the Steak

I like to roast whole bulbs of garlic to serve with these steaks. I serve bulbs of roasted garlic on the side. When you roast garlic it creates a nutty flavor that compliments steak perfectly. To roast garlic you need to cut off the top of the garlic to expose a bit of the garlic inside. Drizzle a little olive oil over the garlic and wrap in foil. Place it into a 400 oven for 45 minutes until garlic is light brown and tender.

Bulbs of Garlic with Olive Oil ready to be wrapped in foil and roasted in the oven

After the steak is done you need to tent it with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing it. This step is essential so that the juices absorb back into the steak. If you cut the steak too soon the juices will run out and you will have a dry steak. So this means NO CUTTING to see if the steak is done. The steak should have an internal temperature of 135 for medium rare. The steak will continue to cook as it rests so do not over cook it. Use a meat thermometer to check steak or start to learn how to determine the temperature of a steak by touching it. If you push the top of the steak before you grill it you will find that it is very soft, as the steak cooks it becomes harder to push in. So the softer the steak, the rarer the steak. For medium rare you are feeling for a firm but still soft texture. It will take a little time to learn this technique so I suggest using a meat thermometer and also touching the steak so you learn how it should feel according to the temperature you like your steak. Whatever you do just please do not cut it to see if the steak is done. You must let it rest before cutting. After the steak rests, slice it and serve it on a platter with the bulbs of garlic and some sprigs of rosemary.

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Steak with Balsamic-Rosemary

Sirloin Steak marinated in Balsamic and Rosemary
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time14 mins
Resting Time10 mins
Total Time39 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: meatloaf, Steak, grill
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 562kcal


  • cast iron grill pan
  • meat thermometer
  • kitchen twine


  • 2 16oz Sirloin Steak
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 5 sprigs Rosemary
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp butter


  • mix vinegar and olive oil together with 1 sprig of rosemary
  • put marinade in a plastic bag
  • add steaks and massage outside of bag so marinade rubs onto steaks
  • place bag on countertop and turn bag over every 5 minutes so both sides of steak marinate. Marinate for a total of 20 minutes.
  • tie remaining 4 sprigs of rosemary with twine to make a brush
  • remove steaks from bag and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • heat cast iron grill on medium high until hot
  • grill steaks for 7 minutes and baste with rosemary brush dipped in olive oil
  • turn steaks over and continue to baste
  • top each steak with ½ tbsp of butter after 5 minutes
  • continue to grill for another 2 minutes until butter is melted and temperature is 135
  • remove from pan and tent with foil.
  • Let steaks rest for 10 minutes then slice and serve with sprigs of rosemary and roasted whole garlic


Serving: 1person | Calories: 562kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 50g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 139mg | Sodium: 428mg | Potassium: 802mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 11IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 4mg
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Roasted Whole Garlic

whole garlic bulb roasted with olive oil
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian, American
Keyword: Side Dishes
Servings: 4
Calories: 64kcal


  • 2 whole bulbs garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


  • preheat oven to 400
  • cut top off of garlic to expose cloves inside
  • drizzle with olive oil
  • wrap in foil and roast in oven for 45 minutes


Serving: 1g | Calories: 64kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 6mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg

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House Update 2

So it’s been about two months since my first post about building a home. Thank you for all the emails with advice and well wishes. So the foundation was poured and the framing is almost done. We have had to make a lot of decisions about color of windows, hardware and what kind of hinges we want on our doors. It’s amazing that when you are building a house every decision becomes important. We are not being handed a finished home, we are able to make choices about every detail which I guess can be a blessing or a curse. Who knew there were so many hinge options? Should the french doors swing in or out?

We have also entered the new world of the smart home. Amazing how every light, shade, speaker, camera and TV can all be controlled by an app on your phone. Even the doorbell has a camera so you can see who’s at your door on your phone before you go and answer the door. Oh, of course you don’t need to actually answer the door in a smart home, you can simply press a button and let your guest in. You gotta love technology.

So next week we will be picking out the color of the outside of the house. This should be interesting. Can you imagine picking the wrong color and then the whole house is painted and you’re like “Uh no, I really don’t like the color.” We have all painted a room a wrong color, or dyed our hair the wrong color but can you imagine painting a house the wrong color? Stay tuned for color samples so you can all be in on the decision.

So we are very excited about the progress and look forward to the next phase:

Photo Credit: Matt Lucas Builder

Arroz Con Pollo

Arroz Con Pollo

An easy and delicious one-pot meal

My mother used to make this dish for our family quite often when I was younger. I love the combination of the spicy sausage, the tender chicken and the mixture of peas, olives and capers. There are so many wonderful flavors that come together beautifully in this Arroz Con Pollo. It is a very simple arroz con pollo and is ready in under an hour after you have marinated the chicken. Many arroz con pollo recipes call for using bone-in chicken but I prefer to use boneless. My family has a preference towards chicken breast but you can absolutely use boneless thighs if you prefer. In this recipe I used chicken tenders that were cut in half. You do not want the chicken pieces to be too small because you do not want them to be dry. I marinate the chicken in the morning so it has plenty of time to season. It’s best to place the marinade in a ziplock bag with the chicken and gently message it into the chicken. Remove most of the air from the bag before placing it in the refrigerator to marinate. A quick saute with the onions is all that is required before adding the rest of the ingredients. You want the chicken to finish cooking in the broth so it stays nice and tender.

Arroz Con Pollo originated in Spain but there are now several interpretations throughout Latin America and Spain. Most Arroz Con Pollo recipes call for using ham in the recipe. My mother liked things spicy so she substituted the ham for andouille sausage. The sausage is lightly browned and the rendered fat is used to sauté the chicken and onions. The andouille sausage adds a lot of flavor to the dish. The pinch of saffron is also important to the depth of flavors in arroz con pollo. You can play with the ingredients a bit; if you like olives add a few more, if you don’t like capers then add less. Use my recipe for arroz con pollo and make it your own.

Some Variations:

Use brown rice instead of long grain white rice

Add red and green bell peppers when sautéing the onions

Use bone-in chicken instead of boneless

Add a cup of rinsed and drained black beans

Substitute chopped kale or spinach for the peas

Use a few dashes of hot sauce if you want to turn up the heat

chicken with rice
Rate this Recipe
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Arroz Con Pollo

A delicious and easy one-pot meal
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time35 mins
marinating time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 50 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Spanish
Keyword: chicken, one-pot meal
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 785kcal



  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • ½ tbsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper

Arroz Con Pollo

  • lb boneless chicken breast of chicken tenders
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 andouille sausage casing removed, sliced and cut into quarters
  • ¾ cup onions chopped
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 15 pitted green olives cut in half
  • cups long grain rice
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes in sauce
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup green peas frozen in fine
  • pinch saffron
  • 1 avocado as garnish


Marinate Chicken

  • cut chicken breast into 3 pieces or if using chicken tenders cut in half
  • add all marinade ingredients into a ziploc bag.
  • add chicken and mix well. Remove air and place in refrigerator
  • marinate for at least 1 hour and upto 6 hours

Arroz Con Pollo

  • use a large dutch oven or pan with a lid
  • saute andouille sausage in pan until starting to brown
  • remove sausage and set aside
  • add 2 tbsp olive oil and add onions
  • cook onions for 2 minutes and add chicken
  • lightly cook chicken on all sides with the onions
  • put sausage back in pan
  • add chopped tomatoes
  • add chicken broth
  • add olives and capers
  • add saffron
  • add rice and stir
  • bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 20 minutes
  • add peas to pan and cook for another 10-15 minutes until rice is tender
  • serve with slices of avocado


Serving: 1person | Calories: 785kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 53g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 137mg | Sodium: 1840mg | Potassium: 1401mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 560IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 93mg | Iron: 4mg

How To Cook For A Dinner Party

How To Cook For A Dinner Party

The key to success is delicious food that you are able to sit and enjoy with your guests.

My Dad turned 84 this week and I decided to host a small dinner for him at my apartment. We usually travel or go out to a restaurant for his birthday but given the times we decided it would be best to dine at home. My Dad loves his birthday so it was important to me to pick a special menu to serve for the occasion. Preparation and timing are the two most important factors in hosting a great dinner party. You want to be able to enjoy the dinner not only prepare it. It is also very uncomfortable for your guests if you keep getting up and look like you are working too hard. It is essential to choose a menu that can be prepped ahead of time. I chose to serve Fresh Perigord Black Truffles Shaved Over Pasta as the appetizer followed by Chorizo and Panko Crusted Black Cod with Beurre Blanc served with Individual Potato Gratin, Spinach Rounds and Blistered Tomatoes. The potato gratin was made 2 hours ahead of time and covered with foil so I could reheat them in the same oven as the fish. The spinach rounds were prepped in the morning and kept in the refrigerator. The Beurre Blanc was made an hour before guests arrived. The sauce was served room temperature.

So let’s sum this up: During the day, The fish was topped with the Panko and Chorizo and put on a baking sheet in the refrigerator, the Spinach Rounds were prepped and put on a baking sheet in the refrigerator and the Potato Gratin was fully cooked and left at room temperature covered with foil. The tomatoes were tossed in Olive Oil and sautéed for 5 minutes while I was making the pasta. The Black Cod, Spinach and Potatoes all required 12 minutes in a 400 oven. When the appetizer was served I put the Black Cod on the top shelf in the oven, the spinach on the middle shelf and the potatoes on the bottom shelf. I then went to sit down and eat my appetizer with my guests. After 10 minutes I returned to the kitchen to take everything out of the oven. The plates were all stacked and ready for me to place the food on. As my kids cleared the appetizer dishes, I plated the food and it was served to the guests. After that I was able to sit, have a glass of wine and enjoy my Dad’s birthday. Dessert was brought by my Step Mom so the rest was easy. I had the dessert plates and forks ready to go. The other nice thing about preparing in advance is that it makes clean up very easy. All that was needed to get done was place the plates and silverware into the dishwasher. No one wants to walk into a messy kitchen at the end of the night…


We started with Cacio e Pepe Ravioli in a Truffle Butter and Cream Sauce topped with Shaved Fresh Black Perigord Truffles. Black Perigord Truffles are found in the Winter months, November through March. In the next few days I will be posting more on Black Truffles. The appetizer pasta was very quick to make. The Cacio e Pepe Ravioli was fresh so it only took a few minutes to cook in boiling water. I had a big pot of salted water simmering on the stove when my guests arrived so all I had to do was turn up the heat and make a quick Truffle Cream Sauce when it was time for dinner. The sauce took 5 minutes to make, roughly the same amount of time it took the pasta. I quickly tossed the ravioli in the sauce, dished it into bowls and my daughter Olivia brought them to the table as people were sitting down. I then went around the table and shaved the fresh Black Perigord Truffle over the pasta. It makes a beautiful presentation to shave the Black Truffle at the table.


Try to pick a menu that is easy for you. The sides should definitely be made earlier in the day. Many vegetables are able to serve room temperature after being prepared. Try roasting zucchini, yellow squash and tomatoes or sautéing string beans in shallots and serving them room temperature or give them a bit of heat in the oven before serving. Individual Potato Gratin can be made earlier in the day and quickly reheated. Fish is ready in no time which is why I love this Black Cod recipe. It is ready in 15 minutes and looks absolutely beautiful on a plate.

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Chorizo and Panko Crusted Black Cod

Served with Make Ahead Beurre Blanc
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time12 mins
Total Time22 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: sausage, fish
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 325kcal


  • lb Black Cod or Halibut
  • ¾ cup Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 1 Smoked Chorizo
  • salt and pepper
  • Lemon slices for garnish


  • Preheat oven to 400
  • remove casing from Chorizo and chop finely
  • mix with Panko
  • spinkle fish with salt and pepper
  • top with Panko mixure
  • Bake at 400 for 12 minutes
  • serve with make ahead beurre blanc and lemon slices


Serving: 1person | Calories: 325kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 104mg | Sodium: 766mg | Potassium: 725mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 245IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 2mg
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Make Ahead Beurre Blanc

An easy white sauce with a hint of mustard
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Sauces and Dips
Cuisine: French
Servings: 6 people


  • 1 shallot peeled and sliced thin
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ cup white wine sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp dijon mustard


  • sautee shallots in butter until translucent
  • add white wine and reduce by half
  • slowly whisk in heavy cream to emulsify and thicken
  • add mustard and pepper
  • strain through a sieve and set aside