Thursday, September 28, 2006

Really Ugly

So I made these last week. Still have some in my freezer. They are perhaps the ugliest things I have ever made. But...they tasted really good.

Any guesses?

I'll post later with a recipe.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Perfect Meal

Don't you love when the Perfect Meal presents itself without any planning, no poring over the posts on chowhound, no searching the pages of menupages, no flipping through zagats, no finding old "top restaurant lists" in get the idea.

For me the Perfect Meal moment is never just about the food, it usually is some combination of the company, the setting, the mood, the day that happened before or that is yet to happen, etc. It doesn't happen often and most times, it is when you least expect it.

So here was mine last night: a burger and a beer at Shake Shack in Madison Square Park.

I'll set the scene. I got invited to a private concert of this band the Old Crow Medicine Show. This is one of the few perks of my job. I l-o-v-e-d this band. Check out their myspace page and listen to Wagon Wheel. If you aren't a fan after that, we might not be able to be friends anymore.

So, seeing live music is always great and when I see people who are doing what they love to do and doing it well, it sort of gives me chills. I feel really glad about living in a city where I have this opportunity often, and I do stupid things like write notes that say, "Don't forget how much you liked this night." And I make promises to see live music once a week, and never to leave the city, get the idea. This is the feeling that I left the concert with.

We didn't eat before the show so when we left we were definitely on the search for dinner. Walking through Madison Square Park to get home we noticed that the Shake Shack didn't have a ridiculously long line that it usually does. In fact, there was no line. We ordered two Shake Shack Burgers, a Chicago Dog, and two beers.

We sat outside in the middle of the city that I am currently having a love affair with, the temperature was perfect, the burgers juicy, and the beer cold. Add in the natural high of just having seeing something real and you have the Perfect Meal.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Too Many Carrots?

I haven't had any coffee or tea yet and I woke up with an unexplainable swollen left eye, so I'm a little slow going right now. This post will be short and sweet. Here are a few random thoughts:
  • Had a lovely Rosh Hashanah dinner on Saturday at the in-laws. Because of a lack of communication on my part, there were two carrot side dishes. But I think it was ok because they were so different - also, can you have too many carrots?I think not. I made steamed carrots with garlic, honey, cinnamon, and cumin. They sound better then they were and ultimately tasted just ok in my opinion. My cousin in law made Carrot Souffle which was the subject of much conversation, I think because who ever heard of Carrot Souffle, but also because it was a delicious surprise. I say surprise, because I wouldn't think to put carrots and pineapple together in a souffle. Maybe cousin in law will be nice enough to post the recipe for the rest of us?
  • The highlight of this dinner for me, besides the good company of course, is always the brisket and sweet and sour meatballs. I am seriously upset right now because I was supposed to take leftover meatballs to work with me and I forgot them at home, probably because I was spending too much time poking at swollen left eye.
  • The brisket reminds me of how much I love braising and stewing season...a few more weeks and it will be the cooking method of choice for me.
  • Finally, today is a good day because my Gourmet magazine came this weekend. I resisted the urge to read it last night so that I would have good train reading material. Cracked the magazine this morning and had an excellent ride to work.
  • Coffee and bagel just delivered, much happier now.

Posts later this week, the ugliest thing I have ever cooked, finally used hazelnut oil that I bought in Paris, going to Babbo for a BNO....

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Art of Eating

  • I had such lofty goals tonight for a fabulous post with lots of description and crafty turns of phrase....but I accidentally drank a 1/2 a bottle of wine and watched two straight hours of America's Next Top Model.

    I'm not sure which one killed more brain cells.

    But, I did have more intellectual moments today. On my train ride home I devoured my new book, "The Art of Eating," by M.F.K. Fisher. I came to realize as I did some research for this blog that she is sort of the be all end all of food writing. It was time for me to do my homework.

      A quote for today and a hearty recommendation after just 40 pages:
      "A long evening - what to do with it? There is a fairly good play, a passable movie, a game of bridge - some way to kill a few hours.

      But an evening killed is murder of some kind, criminal like any disease, and like disease a thorough-going crime. If Time, so fleeting, must like humans die, let it be filled with good food and good talk, and then embalmed in the perfumes of conviviality."

      Note to self.

      1. Don't murder any more evenings

      2. Start using the word conviviality

    Monday, September 18, 2006

    Keep it Simple

    I have a lot to blog about this week. I finally used my fig jam, took a great trip to Arthur Avenue, started a great book, and had a BNO Sunday night. I'm feeling a little exhausted and the creative juices aren't really flowing at the moment, so as the title suggests I am going to keep it simple...

    When you have good ingredients, you don't need to do anything fancy. On the trip to AA, we picked up some fresh mozzi from Casa della Mozzarella, some extra thin prosciutto di parma from Biancardi's, and fresh bread from Madonna Bakery. Put them together and you have perhaps the best panini around. The only thing that could have maybe made it any better would have been some fresh basil.

    See? Simple.

    Thursday, September 14, 2006


    Football is back and my Sunday's take on a much different form for several months. Here's what my Sunday afternoon looked like.

    Pizza with Garlic and Mushrooms, delicious.

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    Sunday, September 10, 2006


    Had a big night out on Friday. Two excellent friends were in town from San Francisco for the night. We started with cocktails and cheese in the apartment. Because it was a special occasion, we broke out the champagne. I am thinking of naming my first born French 75 after this celebratory delight:

    French 75

    2 tsp sugar
    1 ounce lemon juice
    2 ounces gin

    Shake all but the Champagne in an iced cocktail shaker. Pour into a champagne flute. Stir gently and garnish with a cherry.

    (will post a picture tomorrow - it doesn't seem to be working tonight.)

    The second cocktail was a Champagne Cocktail where you place a sugar cube in the bottom of a champagne flute, pour in four dashes of Angostura bitters and top with champagne. This drink really grew on me. At first I liked it, but it wasn't a standout. But as the sugar dissolved, the warmth and spiciness of the bitters played off the sugar and melted into a drink with so much depth and flavor.

    We paired all of this with some cheeses from Murray's Cheese in Grand Central - a favorite spot of mine in the city. I asked the man behind the counter for some advice, which is always a good call. We ended up with a mild but tangy goat cheese, a creamy blue that melted as soon as I took it out of the wrapper, and a sheep's milk from Vermont that was mellow and firm. As accompaniments, we had quince paste and sliced apple. So good. (I'll post tomorrow with the names of the cheeses, I tossed the wrappers and forgot to write them down beforehand.)

    Sufficiently cocktailed, we headed out to dinner at Schiller's Liquor Bar. Arriving at the restaurant 15 minutes late, we were greeted with a 40 minute wait. This was ok for three reasons, first it gave us time to digest all of the cheese, second we had enough time to enjoy the hipster circus that is the lower east side. And finally, we could catch up on each other's lives before stepping into the deafening din of the restaurant. Seriously this restaurant is loud.

    We were crowded into a tiny table and I must have elbowed about 20 skinnyjean-clad rear ends. The food was just ok. We had lemon and garlic shrimp and calamari for an appetizer. For dinner I had the steak frites which were fine. The fries were actually very good and the house butter on the steak was great. But really, when is butter not good?

    I did love the cheap wine that they serve and also the service was surprisingly excellent considering the crowd. And of course, the company was sublime!

    After dinner, we headed to the Pegu Club for some more drinks. As always with this bar, the drinks were well made and did not disappoint. I had a gin, peach and jasmine fizz and then the last drink I don't remember that well, gin, cognac, lemon and soda water I think....hmmm, can we say one too many?

    Oh, did I mention that we got back to the apartment at 3am and that I had to be on a train to work at 7am? Not smart.

    But so worth it to catch up with old friends. On the eve of a terrible anniversary, that sentiment was never more true to me.

    Thursday, September 07, 2006

    For Cheap

    Two posts in one day!

    Quick one here. I wanted to post something to remind everyone that you can cook a great dinner and still have it be cheap. I love bargains and I wanted to share this one.

    I bought a whole rotisserie chicken for 8 bucks. Green beans for $1.50. Had left over cheese. Bought tomatoes for $2.00. Had left over lettuce.

    Roast chicken, sauteed green beans with butter, salad with mozzi and tomatoes. $12.50 for two people. Fantastic.

    Pork Chops and Brussel Sprouts

    I came home on Tuesday with the lofty goal of making pork chops with caramelized onions and fig jam. When I was in Paris at the beginning of the summer, we got a free jar of fig jam because we bought 2 jars of fois gras. We are fancy. Have not had occasion to eat either the jam or the fois gras.

    I got home only to find that the onion I was going to use was rotten. What was I to do? You'd think with the highfalutin mention of fig jam and fois gras that I would have other products to use for dinner. I looked in the fridge and I had a beer, mustard, and garlic on the counter. Hence, Pork Chops with a Mustard Garlic and Beer Sauce was born.

    The fig jam will have to wait for some prosciutto concoction that I have been dreaming about since.

    Pork Chops with a Mustard Garlic and Beer Sauce
    4 boneless pork chops
    5 cloves garlic chopped
    1 tsp dried rosemary
    1/2 dark beer
    salt and pepper
    2 tbsp olive oil

    Heat oil in pan. Salt and pepper the pork chops. Sear the chops until browned, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from pan, add garlic and saute for about 1 minute. Add beer and rosemary. Cook until sauce is reduced somewhat and the bubbles are gone, about 5 minutes. Add pork chops to pan and cook another 20 minutes. If sauce gets too thin, add a little more beer. Drink beer.

    Brussel Sprouts

    Heat about 1 tbsp butter in saute pan. Cut brussel sprouts in half lengthwise and add to pan.

    Pour about 1/2 cup chicken broth into the pan and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 20 minutes at medium high heat until all of the chicken broth is gone. Add small amounts of water until brussel sprouts are cooked through and nicely caramelized.

    Here is what it all looked like with a perfect Manhattan on the rocks. Pork chops, brussel sprouts, a front of the TV.

    Yes, we did watch Mr. Ed on our black and white TV and we put Beaver to bed soon after the show.

    Tuesday, September 05, 2006

    What I Ate - Highlights

    Sorry I have been so delinquent the past week or so. I have been eating, I just haven't had the time to write about it. A few posts are ready to go and currently are stewing in my head, but I only have a few minutes this morning, so this will just be a highlight tour of my Labor Day weekend.

    • Friday night - Indian food. Delicious Chicken Korma. Also had a rum cocktail with a dark rum that a friend brought us from the Caribbean. I'm not sure that any other liquor smells as good as rum.
    • Saturday - cup of clam chowder in Newport, RI. Perfect comfort food for a stormy day.
    • Sunday - tasted Johnny Cakes for the first time at a greasy diner in RI. Johnny Cakes are very thin cornmeal pancakes that almost look like crepes. We sat at the counter by the griddle... had to pretend that the exorbitant amount of grease was just an illusion.
    • Sunday night went to a new restaurant Japonais. Among other fantastically trendy items, had thin cut filet mignon cooked at the table on a hot rock, excellent octopus sushi, and the best fries and spicy mayonnaise that I have ever had at an Asian restaurant....the answer is no, I have never had fries and spicy mayonnaise at an Asian restaurant before. But yes, they were still wonderfully crispy, full of spice including, I think, crushed nori. And as some of you know, I have a thing for flavored mayonnaise. I could only hope to make mayonnaise this good.
    • Monday went to a bbq to cap off the summer at a friend's house. Had a delicious burger that is said friends secret recipe. The chopped onions that he incorporates keeps the burger really juicy. Maybe he will be nice enough to share the recipe with us.

    What did you eat over the Labor Day weekend?