Pasta Saucy Sauce Cream Red White Vinegar Chef Ninamarie Bojekian NJ Franklin Lakes  Olive Oil Lemon Greek Italian

On occasion, I like to look around my pantry and place myself back in a different era—using what I have, and making it work.  Like my grandfather’s grandmother, cooking with what my grandchildren could get their hands on that week.   This pasta dish is one of those dishes.  Nothing fancy, but rich with flavor that has a punch.  The quick pan sauce is based with a little cream and some red wine vinegar, which makes it round and smooth with a tang.

To finish this dish off right, you need to top it with 5 garnishes: pecorino, lemon zest, breadcrumbs, chopped parsley and chard arugula.  The chard arugula adds a slight smoky deep zest to it.


Servers  4-6

1 LB of Pasta, preferably spaghetti or thin linguini

2 Large Shallots, finely chopped

4 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped

2/3 C Fennel, finely chopped (if you don’t have fennel…don’t sweat it)

2/3 C Olive Oil (plus 2 TBS)

1/3 C Red Wine Vinegar

3/4 C Chicken Stock or Broth

½ C Heavy Cream

½ tsp Red Chili Flake, or as desired

Salt & Pepper, to taste

2 TBS Plain Bread Crumbs

4 TBS Locatelli Romano, Pecorino or Parmesan, grated

1 Lemon, zested

1/4 C Fresh Parsley, chopped

2 C Arugula

Bring a large pot of water to a boil to cook the pasta.  While water is on, work on the sauce

In a large sauce pan, heat 2/3 cup of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the shallots, garlic & fennel and sweat until softened, about 3 minutes.  Add red chili flake- if you like a nice spicy kick, add a little more.  Add the vinegar and chicken stock and increase heat to high to bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Continue to simmer for about 5 minutes, just until the liquids slightly reduce and the flavors meld.  Add the cream, season with salt and pepper and stir.

Add salt to the boiling water, and then add the pasta.  Don’t cook the pasta past al dente’!   Say that three times. Remove the cooked pasta from the boiling water and move it right to the simmering sauce in the pan.  Add 1 cup of the pasta water to the pan as well and toss.  Continue to simmer everything altogether for a few more minutes, then remove from heat.

Heat a separate non-stick pan over high heat until smoking hot.  Add 2 TBS of olive oil to the pan and swirl.  Place the arugula in the smoking hot pan and let sit for 1 minute, then removed from pan and reserve for garnish.

To plate: divide pasta into desired portions and top each serving with pecorino, lemon zest, bread crumbs, parsley & arugula and serve!

Salt Pig Kitchen Tool Bloomingdales Chef Ninamarie

A large part of basic culinary 101 is properly seasoning your food – and a huge part of seasoning is the utilization of salt.   Getting your salting down right is a talent, or a skill that can take a lot of trial and error.  Salt:  it can make or break a dish, as we all know.

Having a salt pig by your side is a helpful convenient way to hold your salt.  I think that in order to season well, you need to touch and feel it with your fingers.  This way, the whole process becomes a natural practice and you can eventually gauge your salting by your sense of touch.  Then of course followed by your tasting sense to double check.   I don’t like using a salt shaker in the kitchen.  I like to grab the salt and feel my way through.

A salt pig is the given name for a ceramic vessel that holds salt.  They typically have a large opening for easy accessibility during cooking and have either a curved shape or dome like design to help protect the salt from dust, debris and possible contamination.   The ceramic material also helps reduce moisture so the salt stays like salt.

So get yourself a salt pig and fill it with your preferred choice of sodium chloride!  I always and only use Diamond Crystal kosher salt, but that’s my personal preference.

Check out my pig here!

Kitchen Shoes Chef Boots Frye Fashion Kicks 2

When looking for suitable foot wear in the kitchen, I try to think outside the box.  Clogs and Crocs aren’t for everybody and I remember having a wave of anxiety when I saw the preferred approved list of shoes to choose from during orientation at the French Culinary Institute.

The rule of toe when looking for kitchen footwear is seeking out 3 important functions.  Firstly, it has to be durable and protective.   Secondly, it should be supportable and comfortable; even after you’ve been on your feet for hours.  Lastly, it has to be slip resistant.

I always have an eye out for shoes that will do all 3 and look good, while adding to my personal style.  About 5 years ago, I was into wearing skate boarding sneakers in the kitchen.  They are heavy, supportive and slip resistant.  I figured if they were designed to help grip on a board on wheels, then I should be fine running around slippery busy kitchens.  I was right and they worked great and looked kind-of cute too.

Now, you can commonly find me and a few others on the Ooh La La team sporting Frye boots when on the job.    My personal favorite pair is their Rogan Studded lace up boots.  These boots are tough with a little pop of retro glam.  I call them my ass kickin’ boots.  Frye carries tons of shoes suitable for long hours in the kitchen— real work boots with style.  From their riding to motorcycle inspired looks, these quality boots and shoes are definitely worth every penny.

Lemon Juicer Cooking Best Kitchen Tools Squeeze Me Pampered Chef 2

This is hands down my most loved and most used kitchen tool. It’s simple and there’s not much to it. The concept is basic and brilliant and it’s been around forever. It’s simple stupid. Yet, surprisingly, not everyone’s kitchen is stocked with one of these. Why would anyone waste their time with one of those hand held wooden citrus reamers to only have to waste more of their time picking out the seeds and/or straining the pulp?

I absolutely love my Breville Cast Citrus Juicer when making fresh juices and when larger juicing jobs are called for– it’s smooth and effortless. But when I need to juice 1 to a few lemons or limes on the fly while cooking, I grab my beloved little manual juicer by The Pampered Chef. I have had this particular one for at least 7 years and use it on a daily basis. Its 8oz clear base doubles as a measuring cup and you can use it as a bowl to finish off your fresh dressings right in there. Easy and super efficient!

Summer cocktails cuban mojito watermelon

(201) Magazine, May 2010
By Susan Sherrill Axelrod
Photos by Ted Axelrod

Offering a special cocktail in addition to a full bar or a selection of wine and beer has become a popular entertaining trend. Whether the drink is passed on trays as guests arrive or mixed to order, a creative cocktail is a fun and fresh way get the party started. Taking the concept one step further, signature drinks paired with hors d’oeuvres can feature seasonal ingredients or reflect the event theme. We asked Franklin Lakes caterer Ninamarie Bojekian, chef and proprietor of Ooh La La Catering & Events, to design some pairings that we hope will inspire you as you plan your next party.

Ooh La La’s Basil-Infused Honey Mojito

Serves 4

1 ½ cups water
1 bunch fresh basil leaves
2 mint tea bags
2/3 cup honey
4 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 lime, sliced
4 ounces golden rum
1 bottle sparkling water

Bring water, basil, tea bags and honey to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer and stir occasionally, about 7 mins. Remove from heat and steep for 1 hour. Strain, reserve infused water and refrigerate until ready to use.

Prepare individually by adding 2 onces infused water, 1 tablespoon sugar, and a quarter of the lime slices in a rocks glass. Using a pestle or wooden spoon, muddle ingredients together and top with ice. Add 1 ounce rum and stir. Top with sparkling water and serve.

Ooh La La’s Pinky

Serves 4

1 large watermelon, seeded & cubed
8 ounces vodka
1 bottle pink prosecco

Place watermelon pieces in a food processor or blender and mix until pureed. Prepared individually by placing ice, 2 ounces of vodka and 3 ounces of watermelon puree in a cocktail shaker. Shake well, strain into a champagne flute, top each with chilled pink prosecco and serve immediately.

cooking for kids blog pic 1

Gourmet Fare from Everywhere!

We were very honored to be asked to be a part of this year’s Cooking For Kids event to benefit St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. On April 30th chefs, restaurants, caterers and distributors joined together at the Sheraton Meadowlands Hotel in East Rutherford, NJ to share their talents and treats for this special annual event.

Ooh La La was stationed in the stylish lounge quarter; one of the events newest additions. We served up three different specialty cocktails, which were all prepared with fresh juices and ingredients, and Chef Ninamarie’s signature Fig Stuffed Gnocchi.

Our team’s personal exciting highlights of the night was meeting and serving our gnocchi and drinks to Lidia Bastianich, being a part of the fun Ultimate Chefs Pantry auction, and meeting (and tasting) counterparts in our local industry.

This wonderful event raised more than $200,000 for St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital!

For more information and related links Event Journal


pork belly grits smoked trout chef central ultimate chef final bergen county

Team Ooh La La Wins Final Round of Ultimate Chef

Photos by Don Parenta

On Saturday, January 28th, our chefs returned to the battle grounds at Chef Central to compete in the final round of Ultimate Chef Bergen County. Secret ingredient: Jack Daniels. The competition: Chef Laurie Cera of 5 Sessions Bistro. The chefs had one hour to prepare a 4 course meal, utilizing the secret ingredient in each dish. It was a packed house and a very exciting afternoon.

Our team put together a loud menu for this loud ingredient. So they use ingredients like grapefruit, pecans, pork, pineapple, coffee, ginger, and horseradish – and used techniques like stove-top smoking and caramelizing to bring out the slightly burnt, caramel and woody characteristics of this Tennessee whiskey. Ooh La La’s menu had a strong southern influence throughout the 4 courses — pork belly, grits, ribs, Carolina BBQ sauce, corn bread, smoked trout and even ending with sour cream ice cream.

Team Ooh La La took home the gold and Chef Ninamarie won the title of the Ultimate Chef Bergen County 2012. Chef Laurie was a fierce competitor and put out beautiful and delectable dishes.
The Judges included Certified Master Chef Thomas Griffiths, Rosie Saferstein of Table Hopping with Rosie and Michele DePietro of Whole Foods Market. A big thank you to the culinary director of Chef Central who is the creator and backbone of this annual competition, Chef Jim Edwards and to his right hand lady, Chef Andrea. Thank you to all who came and supported the event and to Whole Foods in Ridgewood for their sponsorship.

For more information and related links

Ohh La La Catering Boy Meets Girl Ribs

We want to thank our clients, supporters & the readers of (201) Magazine for voting Ooh La La as Best Caterer. We are very proud to be runner-up & part of the Best of Bergen 2011!

“Boy Meets Girl Ribs”
Baked Pork Ribs with Carolina Mustard Sauce & Blackberry Compote

2 LB Rack of Baby Back Pork Ribs
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
4 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Salt

Mustard BBQ Sauce
1 C Yellow Mustard (1 8oz bottle)
½ C Red Wine Vinegar
3 TBS Brown Sugar
1 TBS Worcestershire Sauce
1 TBS Hot Sauce (i.e. Tabasco)
½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 TBS Butter

Blueberry Compote
2 C Fresh Blackberries
1 TBS Unsalted Butter
¼ C Honey
2 TBS Sugar
1 tsp Fresh Ginger, Minced
1/4 C Orange Juice
1 tsp Cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix garlic, chili powder & salt in a small bowl; rub mix onto ribs. Place ribs in a large rimmed baking pan, with the meatier side up. Bake ribs for 50 minutes.

In the meantime, combine the mustard, vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce & cayenne pepper in a container with a lid. Cover & shake well. Pour mixture into a small sauce pan, add the butter and simmer to reduce for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Remove rack of ribs from oven and lower heat to 325F. Brush half of the reduced BBQ sauce all over the ribs and return to oven. Bake for an additional 45 minutes.

While ribs are finishing, melt butter in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add berries & toss, about 1 minute. Add the honey, sugar, ginger, orange juice & cinnamon. Gently toss and cook down, about 4 minutes (the compote should look like fresh whole berries in a gently reduced syrup). Leave in pan and set aside.

To Serve: Meat should be tender and very easy to cut through. Slice between each rib to divide and arrange on plates or platter. Quickly reheat the blackberry compote in pan and pour over ribs to smoother & serve! Use the remaining BBQ to dip as desired.

italian food chef central pasta sicily

Team Ooh La La Wins 1st Round of Ultimate Chef with a Meatball Twist

Photos by Ted Axelrod

Our Chef, Ninamarie Bojekian, along with our Pastry Chef, Jessica Marotta, was asked to compete in this exciting 5th annual ongoing competition held at Chef Central in Paramus, NJ: Ultimate Chef Bergen County. Jim Edwards, the culinary director of Chef Central, wanted to kick off the UCBC 2012 season a bit early this year, and with a twist.

Instead of cooking with a secret ingredient, they were challenged to prepare a 3 course menu inspired by 3 different regions of Italy. While the judges tasted, scored and selected a winner for the UCBC portion of the evening, the audience had a chance to put their two cents in as well. The added twist was a Meatball Throwdown. An audience of about 80 people blindly tasted the meatballs of our competitor, Johnny Meatballs, and ours.

Team Ooh La La won both the 1st round of UCBC and the Meatball Throwdown.  Our chefs, Ninamarie and Jessica, will be moving on to round 2nd. The judges included Susan Sherrill, the food editor of The Record, Rosie Saferstein of Table Hoping with Rosie, and Chef John Piliouras.

For more information and related links