Sophisticated Dining Has Come to Clayton

Our little Clayton, NY is kind of on fire, you guys. Not only is The Chateau knocking it out over on Route 12E, but right on the water on Riverside Dr. in the village is the newly unveiled DiPrinzio's Kitchen, welcoming diners to a modern setting you might expect in Skaneateles or Saratoga, but almost never around these parts.

Inside, it's bright and airy, with light wood floors, dark wood tables, two walls of windows, and a bar stocked with St. Lawrence Spirits. Basically, River Heaven. You have got to go!

We began our feast with the arancini, which are Italian rice balls, stuffed with cheese, breaded, and deep fried. These babies are a big deal downstate, especially in Staten Island, but I haven't seen them much on Northcountry menus. This is cause for celebration, my Hungries.

The Milanese style risotto is tinted a glorious yellow from saffron, formed around a small cube of (I believe) mozzarella cheese - enough cheese to have a pull when you cut the ball in half, but not so much that the cheese gushes out all over the place when you bite into it. It's classy! No gushing!

They were served in a shallow pool of bright tomato sauce blanketed in a dusting of grated parmesan. Delicious.

Focaccia! Not the standout of the meal, but perfectly passable - airy but also smacking of olive oil flavor and just a little oregano.

We split a Caesar salad of which I didn't get a pic, but which was just about perfect. The Caesar dressing, which can sometimes be too salty or two lemony, was light and well-balanced. It just lightly dressed the romaine lettuce, and shavings of parmesan cheese finished it off beautifully.

We liked that the pizzas were small enough to order several, but still big enough to share. The crust had well-developed flavor and texture - thin, but not so crispy that you miss the chew factor. The spicy pepperoni was offset well by that bright, acidic red sauce.

Gnudi is pronounced like nudie, but it's not quite so risqué. These fluffy gnocchi cousins are made with ricotta cheese and served tre colore, or in a sauce trio of tomato, basil pesto, and alfredo. The pesto stole the show completely, with robust pine nut and parmesan cheese flavors anchored by the floral herb.

We liked the fettuccine alfredo less. The pasta was fresh and delicate, which was a check in the plus column, but the sauce was SO light, it carried almost no flavor at all. There was very little sauce dressing the pasta, and whereas so many other dishes were well-balanced, this one tasted like it was mostly cream with very little cheese. It lacked cheese, salt, and maybe some pepper - mostly, it needed personality. It was the one downfall of our meal.

Carrot cake sheltering under a thick sheath of cream cheese icing completely redeemed the weak pasta dish. This layer cake was moist, with plump raisins and good carrot flavor - not too sweet or overly spiced. The cream cheese icing was equally tart and sweet, and complimented the cake deliciously.

DiPrinzio's makes their cannoli shells fresh, in-house, and fills them to order, to ensure a crunchy product. Need I saw more? Our diners loves them so much, the picture came out blurry.

I am very impressed in DiPrinzio's, especially for a brand new restaurant, and legit excited to eat there when The River is alive and kicking, and the restaurant's waterfront deck is open. The food here isn't perfect yet - sometimes that comes later - but most of our dishes were very well executed, and we enjoyed our meal tremendously.  The service was a little haphazard as well - we had to flag down our server a couple times as she was catering more to regulars - but when she was at our table, she was enthusiastic (though her mangled pronunciation of the word prosciutto will live infamously in our memories for a good while) and friendly.

I give DiPrinzio's Kitchen a seven on the BHS scale, but I'm betting you I revise that score with time as the team finds their rhythm, and The River's beauty elevates the gorgeous interior to even greater heights. You better get your table before the season starts - I'm betting the wait for a table come May will be kind of lengthy. My personality is big; my hunger is bigger!

PS: They have Taco Tuesdays!!


Cherry Coconut Oatmeal

Apparently, I'm in recipe mode lately. I don't know why. Blame the new year, maybe? But I was wanting a new oatmeal recipe for healthy weekday breakfasts a few weeks ago, and received some inspiration from a can of light coconut milk in my pantry. Before I knew it, cherry coconut oatmeal was born.

No big story, here, but I do use a few specialty ingredients. You should really look into getting yourself this stoneground oatmeal from Zingermans. I've seen steel cut oatmeal in grocery stores, but this is an entirely different animal. I know it's expensive, but this is one of those items that's totally worth it, and I go through only about two bags a year. It's less chewy than steel cut oats, but more nutritious than regular old fashioned rolled oats, because more of the whole grain is left in tact in the stone grinding process. It's homey and thick, utterly delightful. BUT, if you want to use your favorite oatmeal for this recipe, please do. Just change up the cooking method accordingly.

Second item: agave syrup. Have you used this? It has significantly fewer calories than sugar, and the nature of the sweetness it adds to dishes is a little less cloying, to me. If you don't have a bottle, use honey or sugar, but again, you'll need to adjust with more of those items - agave syrup is typically used in teaspoon measurements rather than tablespoon.

BHS Cherry Coconut Oatmeal

  • 1 Cup Stone Ground Oatmeal
  • 1 Can Lite Coconut Milk
  • 3 C Water
  • 1/2 C Frozen Whole Cherries
  • 1/4 C Dried Cherries
  • 4-5 tsp. Agave Syrup
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • A pinch of Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 C Dried Coconut Flakes (I use Bob's Red Mill, which are unsweetened)
  • 1/4 C Sliced Almonds

Put your coconut milk and water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, then whisk in the salt and oatmeal. Drop the heat down to low and put a lid on it. The stone ground oats need to cook for 20 minutes, so set your timer for that.

Halfway through the cooking time, add your cherries, both frozen and dried. Give it a stir and replace the lid.

In a small, dry skillet, toast your coconut flakes and almonds. Keep a close eye on these to make sure they don't burn. If you like, add a sprinkle of salt and cinnamon to these, as well. Toast them for maybe 10 minutes, then remove to a plate to cool.

When the oatmeal is done cooking, add in your agave syrup, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. I stir these in, then replace the lid and let the oatmeal rest off the heat for another 10 minutes, for the flavors to come together.

Portion the oatmeal into single-serve re-heatable containers for each day of the week. I get four days of breakfasts from this recipe. I also portion the coconut/almond mixture into little baggies, and add this as a topping after I reheat the oatmeal, for a crunchy element. Each portion should be around 1/3 C.

It's so yummy! The agave syrup won't make it super sweet, so add some brown sugar or muscovado sugar, if you like, or thin out with more water or milk if you like a loosen consistency. This is more of a method than a strict recipe, but the combination is utterly wonderful, and the cherries give you a great vitamin boost to your morning. Enjoy!


Little Black Beans

Did you know I make the best black beans in the world? OK, OK, I don’t actually cook them from scratch, so I suppose there are loads of people in Central and South America, or the Carribean of wherever who cook dried beans with lots of aromatics and make them insanely deliciously. But I would argue that I have figured out the perfect way to make them on a weeknight, and cram them full of flavor. 

Shawn, who is rarely superfluous about such things, even has commented, of his own volition, about how good they are. So if you’d like to add these little protein bombs to your weekly in-house taco or burrito bowl night, check out my recipe.

Big Hungry Black Beans

  • 1 Can Goya Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ Packet Goya Sazon
  • 1 T Bacon Fat
  • 2 T Wegmans Roasted Tomato Salsa
  • ¼ C Water

Add all ingredients to a small saucepan, and heat over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Don’t be coy and try to sub in olive oil for the bacon grease. Just save your fat this weekend when you make bacon in a small container in the fridge, and then use it for the beans. I promise, it’s worth it

If you cook the beans for longer and they soak up the water, just add more. It’s pretty forgiving in that way. Oh, and don’t skimp on the Sazon, either. That stuff is key.