Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage

During the holiday season, there is no shortage of pumpkin puree, whether a can or freshly pureed. With extra pumpkin, I decided to make gnocchi. I always eat gnocchi when I go out, like the ricotta gnocchi at Zuni’s or chard gnocchi at Café Eloise, but I have never attempted to make it myself. There are different methods to making it. I made a pate-a-choux type dough, cooking in a pot, until it forms a smooth orange ball. This is the recipe I used as a basis for my pumpkin gnocchi. In this recipe, they use shaved white truffles in their brown butter. I was not so fortunate to acquire these. Rolling out all the gnocchi took some work, but it was well worth it. The gnocchi turned out excellent, delicate soft pillow with a wonderful pumpkin flavor. The sage gets nice and crispy and imparts an earthy herbal tone to the nutty butter. Brown butter is simply with the milk fats becoming caramelized, this doesn’t mean burnt, but brown, smelling nutty and fragrant not acrid. The only challenge in the dish is trying to serve a crowd at the same time, due to the fact you need to cook the gnocchi in batches. If you have a solution, other than making people wait, let me know. And enjoy some gnocchi!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Buttery Biscuits, just like EGG

Inspired by the delicious biscuits from EGG, I was on the mission to recreate it. I wanted that buttery, mile high, flaky and tender biscuit that I munched on just a few weeks ago. After scouring the Internet (ohh.. Internet, you supply me with endless recipes), I stumbled upon a true perfect biscuit. Click here for the recipe. I use lots of sweet butter. Make sure that the butter is as cold as possible and don’t overwork it. The butter should remain in pea size chunks in order to give it its flakiness. And remember, do not over-roll, the biscuits should be nice and thick.

I served these delicious biscuits with orange butter (which was made from a simple syrup with orange zest and a little juice) and maple butter (maple syrup). But endless variations can be made, or simply top with fried chicken, or incorporate some chopped chives into the batter. This biscuit is one I can stand behind or at least eat about ten. Does it match up to Egg, it was pretty close, and you know until I get their secret recipe this is good enough for me.

What would you add to the dough? And what would you serve them with? And if you have a recipe to beat, please send it along.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

EGG - Where the South meets Brooklyn

Egg, a small restaurant in Williamsburg, is as simple as its name. A hipster, farm house setting with the chefs sitting outside talking amongst each other on less than crowded evenings (they just opened for dinner). Communal tables, all white walls, and simple florals adorning each table. It is my ideal setting, now all I need is a little farm to supply all the food. Oh wait, they do that to. They bought a farm in upstate New York to supply them with an ultra local supply of fresh produce.
Egg explores not only the egg, but also the chicken who laid it. Fried chicken reigns at this egg shack. The chicken is crispy, succulent and reminiscent of my favorite little nook in Brooklyn, Pies and Thighs. Pies and Thighs, with homemade donuts, honey butter, perfect biscuits and mouthwatering chicken…I miss it so much. That is why I am so glad Egg snatched up the fried chicken master (the chef) from Pies and Thighs, so I can taste some of that goodness yet again.
The fried chicken is perfectly crisp, golden brown and ultra moist. It is served with fluffy, ultra buttery biscuits and smoky delicious collar greens.
Yet, egg is known not only for what hatches from it, but the egg itself. The sampler plate highlights how this restaurant got its name, with two egg preparations, pickled eggs and deviled eggs served with ham, pickled beets and green beans. The pickled eggs were delicious, just enough brine to give the egg a nice acidity. The deviled eggs are extremely flavorful with fresh herbs. And of course, the country ham was thickly sliced served along side farm fresh cheddar and tomato jam. Plus who doesn’t love picked veggies.
I also tried the duck and dirty rice with figs, which was a nice modern southern dish.
Served with two preparations of duck, a dug leg “confit” which was falling off the bone, the seared duck breast was good but not as good as the confit. Delicious succulent slices of fig (slightly gooey and a whole lot of sweet) were the complement to the duck. The dirty rice was slightly sweet with little crispy bacon pieces.
Overall, Egg is simple rustic southern flare, but with a Brooklyn attitude. Egg is the kind of down home cooking you crave even if you don’t have food memories associated with it. And be sure to try the fried chicken….

Monday, November 24, 2008

Turkey 101

Dedicated to Gina, may your turkey wishes comes true.

For all those out there that can’t seem to get their turkey right, I am here to help. Follow my simple instructions, and you should be fine. But I am not guaranteeing anything. I mean maybe if I could come you help you and your Mr. Gobble, I could perhaps guarantee. My family and I make some pretty great turkey and with the help of some culinary school instruction, I believe to have a pretty good method for making a crispy skin, juicy bird. Read on, follow along and feel free to email any questions you have. And those who know how to cook a wonderful bird feel free to give any suggestions.

WHY I LOVE TO BRINE, but I won’t be mad if you don’t want to. Brining makes the turkey flavorful all the way through, not just its crispy skin. Brining not only ensures flavor but moistness; dryness being the most common ailment to Turkeys. Look at the bottom for brining instructions.

1. Preheat your oven to 450.
2. Take your turkey out of the fridge at least a ½ or an hour prior to putting the bird in the oven.
3. Stuff the bird with aromatic such as thyme, sage, onion, garlic, and lemon. I wouldn’t stuff the bird with stuffing, because as my teacher says “You are playing Russian Roulette with your health.”
4. Truss the turkey. Tuck back the wings. Make sure to secure the drumsticks. If you have no clue how to truss a turkey, click here. This is important to create a more uniform shape, hence more even cooking = BETTER BIRD
5. Turkey rub down: rub the bird with melted or softened butter and generously sprinkle salt and pepper all over the turkey.
6. Place the turkey on a roasting rack inside a shallow roasting pan. If your pan is too deep it will not cook evenly and not brown. Make sure a majority of the turkey is above the sides of the pan. Elevation is key. It should not touch the bottom of the pan.
7. Place the turkey in a 450F oven for 20 minutes. Then turn the temperature down to 350F. Now just some simple math. The turkey should cook at 350 for 16-18 minutes per pound. So just know the weight of your bird and multiply that number by 17. There you go, an approximate cooking time.
8. To tell if it is done, do not trust anything that pops up out of your turkey. Take its temperature, 165 is done. If it is 160, don’t worry, you can still take it out, because of carry over cooking when it rests.
9. Rest the bird. It should rest for half the cooking time for up to an hour. No one ever rest the turkey enough. While it is resting make your pan gravy, heat up all the rest of the turkey accoutrements in the oven. If you do, it will turn out so much better and more moist. Cover with foil when it rests.

So it is not cooking: turn the oven to convection instead of bake
Not Brown: turn the oven back up to 450 for another 20 minutes.
Too Brown: turn down the oven temperature a little and place aluminum foil over the bird.

1 cup sugar
2 cups kosher salt
2 ½ gallons water
2 bay leaves, torn into pieces
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
5 whole allspice berries, crushed
4 juniper berries, smashed

Clean the turkey by removing giblet bag, any extra fat and any pin feathers. Rinse well under cold tap water.
Combine the sugar, salt and 3-4 quarts of water in a large bag. Stir until sugar and salt dissolve, and then add the remainder of the brine ingredients except for the remaining 1 ½ gallons water.

Double-bag two heavy-duty, unscented trash bags, (not made of recycled materials), then put them in an ice chest that is large enough to hold the turkey. Place the turkey in the doubled bags, pour in the brine, then the remaining 1 ½ gallons water – there should be enough liquid to completely submerge the bird. Press out all the air in the bags, and then tightly close each bag separately. Keep the turkey cold with bags of ice, which will also help keep it submerged in the brine. Brine for 12-24 hours.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Crispy Beer Battered Shrimp Fritters with Ale Gastrique and a Fall Slaw

I entered a contest at my school, which wanted us to incorporate Allagash Black beer into a recipe. Unfortunately I wasn’t selected, but I think this recipe is still delicious. Feel free to use any stout like beer. And if you want other recipes that include beer check out their website: I also want to thank my cousin David, for helping me develop the recipe.

Crispy Beer Battered Shrimp Fritters with Allagash Black Gastrique and a Fall Slaw
This delicious yet sophisticated appetizer is sure to please anyone. The tarragon vinaigrette slaw highlights this season crop of winter roots: carrots, celery root, fennel and cabbage. The ale gastrique is a balance between rich, sweet, sour. And you can use the rest of the beer in your batter.

1 cup flour
1 egg beaten
1 ½ cup Allagash Black Ale
1 cup chopped scallions
Canola oil 2 quarts
18 16-20 count Gulf Prawns (or rock shrimp), de-shelled –deveined and cut in half width wise
Salt to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste

2 tablespoons shallots
2 tablespoon + 2 tsp. honey
2 cup Allagash Black Ale
2 tsp. vinegar
Salt to taste
1 tsp. canola oil

2 ½ cups shredded cabbage
1 ½ cup shredded carrot
1 ½ cup shredded celeriac or celery root
1 cup thinly sliced sweet red onion
1 ½ cup shaved fennel

1 tsp mayonnaise (homemade or store bought)
5 tsp vinegar
½ cup olive oil
2 tsp. finely chopped tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste

Shrimp Fritters:

1. Clean and Cut shrimp season with salt and cayenne to taste.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, egg, scallions and beer and whisk to combine. Let the batter rest ½ hour to an hour before using.
3. Fill a pot with canola oil, at least 5 inches up the pot. Heat over medium high heat.
4. When oil reaches 360, batter shrimp, by placing each piece in the batter and then place in the hot oil, deep fry, about 2 minutes.
5. Place on paper towel to absorb excess oil and sprinkle salt while hot.
6. Cut in half for presentation.


1. Use a mandoline to shred all ingredients.
2. Combine celery root, fennel, carrot, onion and cabbage in a bowl.
3. Toss with vinaigrette


1. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, red wine vinegar and finely chopped tarragon. Add salt to taste.
2. Slowly whisk in olive oil to form an emulsion. Adjust seasoning and toss to coat slaw. If extra, reserve for another use.

Ale Gastrique:

1. Coat bottom of a small pot with oil. Heat oil.
2. Add diced shallots and sauté until slightly caramelized.
3. Add honey.
4. Add beer and reduce down until it makes a thick syrup
5. When the consistency is achieved, adjust seasoning with salt
6. Add the vinegar and take off the heat

Note: In order for the freshest fritters follow this order:
1. Heat oil and make batter
2. Start ale gastrique
3. Make slaw
4. Deep fry fritters
5. Finish ale gastrique
6. Plate

This is sure to impress , a sohpisticated way to use beer and a perfect appetizer for the holiday!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

El Beit: for the coffee-curian in all of us

coffee-curian: A person who loves and knows good coffee, somewhat elitist, addicted to bold flavors and caffeine. Thinks coffee beans are semi-precious amber jewels.

I am not a coffee-curian but I like good coffee, let's just say I know good coffee when I taste it. Blue Bottle is my favorite in San Francico but nothing has captivated my palette here in NYC. Recently, I found my Blue Bottle equivalent.
Here comes a new breed of coffee shop in Williamsburg where the coffee takes center stage. El Beit cares about one thing: amazing espresso and coffee without the unnecessary frills of syrups and concoctions (like at some coffee establishments located every 2 ½ blocks.)
The latte is strong, yet there is no bitter after taste, just smooth and bold.
Like Blue Bottle, they always make a design in the latte, a beautiful leaf that not only demonstrates the deep hue of espresso but the creamy foam on top.

They have a beautiful orange Marcazzo espresso machine, which provides the only color in contrast to the metal pipes and wood tables. It stands out as a sleek mean coffee machine. The "baristas" take time and care with each drink, something you rarely find at most coffee shops.
The only downside is the location; the ubber trend master hipster location can make it unbearable. But I am happy these hipsters can appreciate I good European espresso.

El Beit
158 Bedford Ave
(between 8th St & 9th St)
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Cheesy Baked Penne with Crème Fraiche and Cauliflower

Cheesy Baked Penne with Crème fraiche and Cauliflower with a Wild Mushroom Salad

Pasta enveloped in a creamy sauce of aged Gruyere and Fontina (which melts up exceedingly well) and a kick of crème fraiche to make it extra creamy with a bit of acidity with seasonal cauliflower. I can’t claim this recipe to be mine. But you can get it by clicking here from Bon Appetit. Here are a few of my recommendations: I would roast the cauliflower to develop a full-bodied flavor instead of simply par boiled. Make sure to use Gruyere reserve, this mean the Gruyere has been aged which gives it a sharper and in my opinion better flavor to the dish.
I made homemade breadcrumbs, which is so easy and a great way to use up old bread. Simply dry it up in the oven and place in the food processor. (So much better than store bought.) But I won’t blame you for reaching for the can.

The wild mushroom salad with its earthy complexity makes a perfect complement to any ultra cheesy dish. I love to use a mixture of mushrooms: chanterelles, morels, shitakes and browns. I like to sauté them with a little white wine to boost the flavor factor. I let them cool and prepare the salad. I do a classic vinaigrette with shallots, Dijon mustard, olive oil and red wine vinegar. I toss with fresh lettuce from the farmer’s market and enjoy this sophisticated macaroni and cheese.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lamb with Pomegranate Salsa Verde

....with wild mushroom risotto and crispy delicata squash

After reading food Art (a wonderful professional food magazine), they discussed a pomegranate salsa verde that they served with squab. But I thought it would make an equally nice pairing spooned over the top of a local Sonoma grass fed lamb. This lamb is a bit gamier but exceedingly tender. Pomegranates are a wonderful fall fruit and one of my favorites. As a little girl, I would sit naked with newspaper and paper towel all around me tearing through pomegranates. With fond pomegranate memories, I couldn’t wait to pair this fruit with something savory. The pomegranate salsa verde is a mixture of fresh seeds, pomegranate syrup, ginger and fresh herbs. Unfortunately I didn’t measure out the ingredients but simply tasted the “salsa” to find the balance between herbs and pomegranate flavors.

Pomegranate Salsa Verde

To make the pomegranate syrup:
You can buy store bought pomegranate juice and reduce it down until it forms a thick syrup.
I mashed up pomegranate seeds to extract the juice. I placed this juice in a small pot with water and sugar, to form a pomegranate infused simple syrup, and reduced it down to thick syrup, where it is nape (meaning to coat the back of a spoon.)
In another bowl place:
Fresh pomegranate seeds approx. 1 cup
Grated ginger (1/4 tsp.)
Freshly chopped thyme (1/2 tsp)
Freshly chopped parsley (1/2 tsp)
Finely minced garlic (1/2 tsp.)
A good drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Pour in the syrup enough to excessively coat the mixed ingredients. If it isn’t sweet enough, add a bit more. But I would veer to the less is more with the highly sweet syrup.
Lightly spoon over lamb chops.

Drizzled over lamb chops, the fruity acidity of the salsa gives a breath of freshness to the earthy dish of wild mushroom risotto, lamb and roasted squash. For the crispy roasted squash, I used a delicata prepared in the following manner:
Cut the delicata squash in half, de-seed and make ¼ -1/2 inch wide Half moon slices.
Place on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Put the oven to 425, (if it seems as if it was cooking to fast, turn down the temperature.) You will get an ultra crispy skin and a soft luxourious squash bite.
As for the wild mushroom risotto, follow any risotto recipe you love, but add coarsely chopped mushrooms (chanterelle, morels, shitake, brown, oyster…whatever you would like, but choose three) near the beginning of cooking. Even though this might discolor the mushrooms, it gives the risotto a fuller mushroom flavor without having to make mushroom stock.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Review of Café Eloise

I am always excited to try new restaurants. So when I heard about Café Eloise located in Sebastopol, I had to go. Eloise is a mélange of NYC (like a few hard to miss indulgences and your grandma’s Bubbe’s hand) with local sourced (really local, like their garden) ingredients (putting the ingredient on a pedestal- oh so Californian).
Eloise is located a bit out of the way in Sebastopol, very unassuming, even the décor is warm, yet nothing breathtaking. It seems cozy and trying to take nothing away from the food. The food itself matches this coziness, from cassoulet to the fatty richness of torchon of foie gras, roasted bone marrow and lots of brown butter.
For starters, the prawns from Santa Barbara tasted sweeter and more tender than lobster, done in a spicy oil. They were so fresh and succulent. Messy, delicious and again luxurious. The lentil soup (Morracan style) lacked a little spice and flavor. Yet it’s lightness was admirable but perhaps not what I envisioned. House cured sardines with thinly sliced celery salad were perfect complements. And the bone marrow was extraordinary, served with pain levain toasts and a parsley salad with cornichons, capers, and shallots to cut the fattiness and give it a much-needed acidity. Highly anticipated and decadent, I could have eaten just that and been quite content. (flowers in their garden)

For entrees, the chard and ricotta gnocchi were light flavorful pillows yet extremely rich with brown butter and sage sauce. Skate wing was again with brown butter but the artichokes and croutons were the perfect touches. A little too much brown butter was used, I would have liked to see another sauce, but it was a damn good brown butter.
The dessert menu seemed so uninspired I wasn’t even tempted. Plus the richness of the previous courses made it difficult to even think of dessert.
Café Eloise is just that, a great café with finely tuned comfort classics. It is worth a trip, and if you are in the neighborhood, it shouldn’t be missed. It will be interesting to see what comes of this little food haven.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Homemade Triple Berry Granola

I love granola and for a while I have been wanting to make my own. It makes a lovely gift (I put some in a jar for my yoga teacher, with an oh so cute tag.) The Kitchen Sink (blog) gave me a basic recipe to follow which uses maple syrup, canola oil, brown sugar, vanilla extract, honey and sea salt. Click here to get the recipe. I followed her recipe for the liquid, but for the dried ingredients I mixed it up. But the versatility of granola is what makes it so much fun. Your creativity can be unleashed on these simple rolled oats. I chose a triple threat of dried blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries plus for a nutty side, I used thinly slice almonds and chopped walnuts. It comes out nice and toasty, fruity and obviously crunchy. Making it is so easy, I have no clue why I even bought it. No more store my yogurt will be topped with this crunchy HOMEMADE good stuff.

A side note: I want to formally give a special thank you to Ella Bella farms for providing me and my family with amazing produce over the years. I am sad to announce their departure from California and the market. In short, Ella Bella farms, you will truly be missed. They finally have achieved their dream of being able to purchase land in the great Big Island and continuing their farm. It has been a pleasure eating your food, and getting to know your family. I wish them only the best, even if I do shed a tear. I am jealous of any Hawain receiving their CSA box and organic chocolate.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Momofuko Noodle Bar: Review

Its not like I haven’t been there quite a few times. I mean an affordable locally sourced refined noodle bar, what could be better? One of my favorite things is the raw bar, changing constantly with new fish and an assortment of oysters. The night I went, we tried the hamachi with beet sauce, freshly grated horseradish and thinly sliced apple. While I thought the hamachi, apple and horseradish complemented each other perfectly, sweet, buttery and spicy, the beet sauce was overpowered by the other strong flavors. While alone, the beet sauce was quite flavorful, it didn’t impart much to the overall dish. Yet the fish is so fresh and buttery it is well worth trying something from the raw part to start your dinner.
They are also known for their buns, containing chicken, pork or shitake mushrooms. Each variety is enfolded in a soft white delicate bun, containing the right amount of plum sauce, lightly pickled and thinly sliced cucumbers and of course very tender pulled meat with a delicious crispy crust.
But, this is a noodle bar, and that is where they excel. Home made noodles and extra flavorful broth makes these soups warming, ultra savory and complex. A deep roasted pork flavor is brightened by picked veggies and thinly sliced scallions. The noodles exemplify the chef’s dedication to the craft. Perfectly textured, and soaking up broth, these noodles can stand equally by themselves.
The one thing Momofuko lacks is consistency. The broth is sometimes too salty (or altering significantly from visit to visit) and despite how quick the plates arrive, sometimes two soups will come 10 minutes apart (at least they did for our order.)
Momofuko is a new breed, kind of like a designer dog. Refinement is key. Traditional Asian fare is lightened, re-worked and out comes Momofuko. Chef David Change is quite inspirational for me, a recent culinary graduate; he has created a mini-culinary empire. Not that I want a mini-culinary empire, well that would be nice. I am so envious (in a good way) of a young culinary grad who has big ideas, excels in his profession and is dedicated to the craft.

Momofuko Noodle Bar
171 first ave. btwn 10th & 11th

Let me know, what noodle shops are your favorite?

DID YOU SEE... oh yes, on the side of my blog, you can now subscribe to get updates when I post a new recipe or review on MANGER LA VILLE! How delicious. Just click, submit your email and get ready to consume often. HAPPY EATIN'

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Braised Scillian Lamb Patties with Eggplant

After reading Bon Appetite, I found an intriguing recipe that I had to try out: Sicilian Lamb Patties braised with eggplant pepper and tomatoes. Delicious lamb patties (or flattened meatballs) seasoned with herbs (mint and oregano) and Parmesan, braised in roasted eggplant spooned over creamy polenta makes for a great Italian inspired meal. Click here for the recipe.
Here are my tips and tricks:
Start the polenta as early as possible. Mario Battalli cooks in for 4 hours, Judy Rodgers of Zuni cooks it at least an hour. WHY? For extra creamy polenta. Instant polenta just doesn’t give you the same creaminess. Stir as often as you can, but don’t fret if you forget for a little bit. I bump up the creamy factor by adding a bit of butter at the end.
I did make a few substitutions, instead of pecorino I used Parmesan, just because I had it and I used oregano instead of marjoram, which I think was better suited for this dish. I topped it off with fresh mint. Make sure to get the pan really hot when searing the lamb patties, you want a nice crust.

So you bought a bunch of mint and all you need is a tablespoon: My short list for what to do with leftover mint:

Use it in your vinaigrette or add it to your next salad

Sautéed zucchini with garlic red pepper flakes and topped with mint (eat as is or toss with pasta)

Melon tossed with fresh mint and simple syrup (or agave)

Mint Pesto

Help fill out my mint list… tell me what you would do

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Give me some good RUB: A review of NYC’s RUB

Barbeque has always been good. But it hasn’t been until recently that it's had such fame. Its' peak came last year when Saveur Magazine named it’s top 100, #1 being, oh yes, you guessed it Barbeque. And since this southern specialty has been blossoming in the North, I have had the opportunity to gobble up this smoky meaty goodness. When I first came to New York, there was one place for Barbeque: Dinosaur Barbeque (which is simply incredible.) Since then, barbeque joints are sprouting up, Rub, Daisy May, Blue Smoke and many others. But this begs the question: are they any good? Are they as good as their Southern (to some more authentic) counterparts? Unfortunately, I cannot tell you whether these NYC barbeque shops match up to the south, since I haven’t visited the South. I know, don’t be upset Southerners. It has been long overdue and I cannot wait to go.
But for now, I have to settle for NYC Barbeque. I decided to try one of the most highly rated barbeque joints in NYC: Rub. The name is slightly deceiving because, it really is about two things here, there giant red smoker and their deep fat fryer. In all honesty their rub wasn’t the most impressive part of this barbeque equation. The red smoker is where all the action takes place: where cheap tough cuts of meat are turned into succulent, deeply flavorful, tender pieces of meat. The pulled pork reigns supreme, moist and slightly smoky, un-sauced, so you can add sauce or simply enjoy the pure flavors of the hog. The pulled chicken is also pretty tender yet less smoky. Their pastrami is not as moist at Katz, but is still fresh, warm and seasoned with a nice crust of pepper. The brisket was the only disappointing meat. It lacked all moisture, wasn’t able to fall apart (a tell tale sign, that 1. It could be old 2. It wasn’t cooked long enough.) Whatever the case, it needed some barbeque TLC.
The deep fat fryer provided amazing fried wonders. Crispy, slightly sweet and salty onions rings were highly addictive. Licking my lips after each bite allowed me to collect the salty particles left on my lips, while the sweetness of the onions dissipated on my tongue. The fried Oreos were equally sinful. Donut battered enveloped warm gooey chocolaty Oreos. I never had these before and it was quite an experience. Warm, soft and just plain delicious.
With Barbecue’s status comes a rightfully overdue appreciation for the craft. One that Rub accomplishes for the most part. I wish I knew how to make my own…to learn the craft like the barbeque masters. But for now I will leave it up to professionals. My adopted blogger father (oh yes…I have been adopted by a blog--- finally I have a home) is a reigning champion at home smoking specialties. He has the grill, the pictures and the know how to show you how to accomplish all your barbeque dreams. (Ok to be honest, if your barbeque dreams involved smoked dinosaur…I am not sure he can be of help.) Check out his blog which contains delectable recipes from a true southern gent: Mr. Orph’s Blog.
What is your favorite Barbeque restaurant or recipe? Let me know....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pickle Me

Ok...well maybe don't pickle me...but can we please pickle everything else.

The other weekend I just pickled myself out. It started when I decided to make homemade pickles for my boyfriend. I used the recipe from Dyln Blog, which was easy, quick and delicious. Click here to get the recipe. To be honest, I loved making the adorable labels for the jars. I used fresh dill stuffing it into each jar. It came out with that great herb flavor, a nice crunch and an oh-so cute presentation.
Wait, there’s more. A pickle weekend doesn’t stop there. I then went to the Pickle Festival that is held annually in the Lower East Side. Many pickle purveyors showed up along with their samples. I tried a variety of pickles (including the pickle on the stick). The pickled lemons and plums were so acidic; they made your tongue feel funny. The spicy pickled okra was tangy, not slimy and just the right amount of kick. In addition to the pickle stands, food stands were set up outside LES restaurants. After seeing sauerkraut whiz by me, I knew where I was going: to the food stand with the home made pretzels (soft and salty). I munched on sausage, home made sauerkraut and a delicious potato salad (made with vinaigrette – not mayonnaise based.) To learn more about the pickle festival click here.

Well, with all this pickle love going around, my mother, on the opposite coast, got the urge to make pickled cauliflower with peppers. Sadly, I haven’t tried her pickled veggies. But, in this case I will live vicariously through her. Click here, if you would like the recipe.
Overall, it was pickalicious. I have been a long time lover of anything pickled, similar to my love of confit (but that is a different post). I like those funny feelings on my tongue and I like the crunch of a cucumber that has been swimming in briny goodness. Pickle Lover for Life….

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Long Awaited Most Beloved Madeleines

I lot of you have been waited for this post. And if you haven’t, you just didn’t know you were. Too be honest, there is nothing difficult about madeleines, if anything they are pretty versatile, orange, lemon thyme, lavender honey, chocolate. You name it. What is difficult is making sure to purchase the right pan and grease the pan in a way so the madeleines don’t stick. (This way they come out looking like gorgeous shells, not mutilated cookie specimens. I mean we need to make Proust proud…)
I use the recipe off of epicurious, but I like them a tad bit more lemony, so I add just a little lemon juice, like a teaspoon. It brings out the flavor of the zest. These one’s are not too sweet, highly addictive and the perfect accompaniment with tea, or just fresh from the oven (for some reason they hardly ever make it to tea.)
As I mentioned before, the pan is important. The pan really is the reason for these cookies, they create the shape, and equally attribute for the light fluffy texture. Do not use the silicon pan; it will be hard to remove the madeleines. I used a French tin pan that I picked up from Broadway Panhandler’s. This means I had to butter and flour for each batch. But I think a non-stick pan would work quite well. Just remember: if they stick, this can be a big problem, the shell imprint will not appear and the cookie can fall apart.
Click Here for the Recipe

My Side Note of Madeleines: Oh Proust!

Proust gets a lot of credit for the success for this cookie. And to be honest, I am not sure he deserves it. Why do I say this? Because Proust divulges in many things, not just French cookies. For Proust, many seemingly insignificant objects, food items, art can “déclenche” (to spark in French) a memory. Not just madeleines. So why has the food world harped so much on these few pages? Maybe his oh-so French idealism or his page long sentences intricately weaving food, memory and perception. I would just like to say, Proust is much more than this darling edible golden clam…
But if Proust can make the Madeleine some French fantasy you want to literally eat up, I say, why not? Divulge!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches: Asian Interior, French Exterior

I love Vietnamese sandwiches, crunchy French baguette, fresh cilantro, pickled carrots, thinly sliced spicy peppers, crisp cucumbers and (for me) grilled chicken. Nothing has topped Paris for a delicious grab and go sandwich. A tiny little mom and pop shop was our daily lunch spot when we visited. Cheap and delicious, it demonstrates not only the quality of French bread but also what occurs due to factors of colonization. The Vietnamese sandwich is a by-product of what happens to food ways when one culture is subjected to the influence of the other.

Ok, so enough colonial talk, let’s talk taste. In Paris, they used some kind of animal fat instead of mayonnaise, which made it decadently tasty. But in order to get my fill here, I head to Nicky’s Vietnamese Sandwich Shop in the east village. Like the one’s in Paris, it is tiny with a limited menu. For the traditional sandwich, they combine ground pork, ham and of course pâté with the usual, cilantro, pickled carrots, cucumbers and mayo (which I never get, because I have always hated it.) The meat was tender and flavorful and the bread was fresh and French making it the perfect late night snack (or any hour you see fit.) The spring rolls fall flat, in both dipping sauce and flavor. But if you stick to the sandwiches, you are sure to enjoy.

Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches
150 E 2nd St
New York 10009

What's your favorite place for Vietnamese sandwich shop?

Monday, September 8, 2008


I don’t eat much lobster, not because I don’t want to, but because I like it super fresh, right from the ocean. So I wait. I wait all year if I have to. Rhode Island is where you go to claim the lobster prize. It doesn’t hurt, that are next door neighbor introduced us to a secret lobsterman. Very undercover. We call him up, request some lobsters, go down to his house, which is on the breach way, and collect freshly caught sea crustaceans. A little transaction goes on, and we receive the booty, in this case, my lobsters.
I love my lobsters done simply, no fuss. I want to eat lobster, not stuffing, not overly rich sauces (even though that is nice), just the wonderfully tender sea flavored meat. So, my cousin (the chef), takes a bucket of sea water (from the ocean one I just swam in) with some sea weed, puts it in a large pot, over a wood burning fire and cooks the lobsters to perfection. (Before this happened, my little cousin fretted over the lobsters, a common reaction when looking at these sea monsters…see picture.)
They came out delicious, tender, with a sea flavor. All you need is a little drawn butter and some good hands (so you can search and dig for all that meat). I spend a really long time eating lobster; no crevice or part goes untouched. I suck each leg, dissect the body, crack each claw, and savor the tail. (Maybe that was too much detail.) If there is any lobster left over (which is hardly any, not from me at least, some family members aren’t as patient and determined to get all the meat), lobster salad is essential. But this time I made a lobster salad that was different from the traditional. A combination of thinly sliced fennel, corn and tarragon is the perfect complement to the succulent meat. Just chop up your lobster, thinly slice fennel, shave the corn off a cooked cob, and add some chopped tarragon. Simply dress with red wine vinaigrette and you get one amazing lobster salad. ENJOY!!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Caracas: A Little Arepas Haven (or Heaven)

Arepas: Savory Handheld South American Wonders

After seeing a just horrible movie, ( I mean, if I didn’t pay soo much, I would have left…I won’t disclose the title---I am not here to bad mouth movies), I needed to redeem the evening by gorging on some beloved comfort food at one of my old haunts Caracas, in the east village. Despite its quaint and intimate size, Caracas can' be missed. Just look for the hoards of arepas lovers munching and waiting outside. Caracas specializes in Arepas, a corn based sandwich stuffed with lots of different goodies such as shredded beef, avocado and cheese. They are simply delicious. My favorite is the de Pabellon, which is shredded beef, queso fresco, black beans and fried plantains. The sweet and savory play very well together and the shredded beef is oh so tender and moist. I have tried a few others which all seem to lack luster in comparison. The chicken is a little dry, but that shouldn’t deter you from trying the other vast combinations.
The guacamole is superb, highly seasoned with a secret combo of herbs and vinegar served with a side of chips (yucca, taro and other south American tubers) sliced thinly, fried perfectly, and sprinkled with salt. In addition, they have the assortment of aqua frescas and loads of south of the border beer.

Caracas ToGo
91 E. 7th Avenue
NY, NY 10009
Phone: (212)-228-5062

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Poppyseed and Tarragon Crème Fraîche Dressing

Recipe for Dressing from Fresh by Fine Cooking

I am back from a wonderful labor day with my family on the Rhode Island shore. I disconnected from the Internet and connected with my family and cooking. With an abundance of great seafood and summer’s bounty, I will have some great post in the upcoming weeks. As for now, I just got back home where I must read for cooking school tomorrow and unpack. But I won’t leave you empty handed. Here is a delicious dressing I tried this weekend. It is refreshing and pairs nicely with a heavy main or hearty chowder.

Poppyseed and Tarragon Crème Fraîche Dressing

¼ cup crème fraîche
2 Tbs. plain yogurt
2 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh tarragon
1 Tbs. poppyseeds, lightly toasted inn a dry skillet
2 tsp. minced garlic
Pinch of cayenne
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

In a small bowl, combine the crème fraîche, yogurt, chopped tarragon, popyseeds, lemon juices and garlic. Sir in 1 to 2 Tbs. water to thin the mixture to a creamy salad-dressing consistency. Season with salt and cayenne to taste.
Use a local variety of lettuce, dress and enjoy!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Halibut Cheeks in a Soy Broth with Green Onions, Ginger and Cilantro

Halibut Cheeks are one of those delicacies that are simple wonderful: delicate in flavor and texture, they are sweeter and more tender than the halibut fillets.
They need very little cooking time so beware; you wouldn’t want to ruin the creamy soft texture by overcooking them. We found halibut cheeks at the Farmer’s Market and just had to snatch them up. I sautéed them and then cooked them the rest of the way in a soy broth. With the added flavors of fresh cilantro, green spring onions, and ginger giving the dish a freshness and spice, which added depth to the broth and a freshness to the dish.


Serves 2-3 people
6 halibut cheeks
2 green onions thinly sliced
½ bunch cilantro cleaned and
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons Thinly sliced ginger
1 tsp sesame oil

Heat sesame oil in a large sauté pan. Salt and pepper the halibut cheeks and place them in the sauté pan over high heat. Flip when they have a nice sear. Add the broth, soy sauce and ginger and let reduce down. When halibut cheeks are cooked, around 5 minutes or less, place them in a shallow bowl, spoon out broth in the dish and garnish with cilantro and sliced green onions. Serve and ENJOY!