Monday, August 31, 2009

greek style chickpea salad

Totally light and refreshing recipe from SeriousEats that's fabulous for dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow. I'm loving the added kick of fresh mint and fantastic tang of fresh feta. Let's make this tonight, shall we? Yep. We so shall. And I'm throwin' in some shrimp to boot.

Yeah, I went there.

Greek-Style Chickpea Salad

end of summer fish tacos

red wine sangria: red wine, triple sec, sugar, oranges, apples

red cabbage and mango slaw: red cabbage, red onion, mango, cilantro, vinaigrette

cilantro, red onion, chipotle crema: sour cream, chipotle, garlic, cilantro, lime juice

sliced avocado and lime wedges

grilled salmon

fish taco: grilled salmon, chipotle crema, shredded iceberg, cilantro, red onion with a side of red cabbage and mango slaw and a lime for squeezing

Friday, August 28, 2009

more love for mooncake

My love for Mooncake Foods is old news by now, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to once again reiterate the yumminess that is this cozy little joint. We ran over last night, Sauvignon Blanc magnums in hand, for dinner with friends. And while I stuck by my sliced steak with cilantro ginger sauce, we did have a few new dishes 'round the table to try.
To start, we tried out the wings with spicy honey soy glaze. Fantastic! Sweet, spicy, and juicy, this is the only way you can get me to eat chicken wings. Great balance of textures and flavors, we sucked the bones dry.

Lemongrass shrimp vermicelli was beautiful and a generous size, however, poor Sarah was attacked with heat so intense she was silent for a good 15 minutes. Silence mixed with the few words she was able to cough out, smoke slithering its way through her lips. Heads up, Mooncake: unless you're going to advertise a dish as spicy, adding large chunks of jalapenos to a dish is an absolute no no. Especially when there's no milk to offer a near death patron. Not cool!

The shanghai home style short ribs were another winner of the night. Super sweet and tender with a spice blend I couldn't even begin to decipher. Order these. Ok?

Nadina's steak sandwich was so gargantuan she ended up attacking it with a knife and fork but no complaints there. She too, happily chowed down.

If you live or work on the west side or Soho, check this place out. They've got a location on 30th and 8th and the one on Watts and Thompson and have a pretty large delivery zone. Just watch out for the sneak attack 'penos.

rainy eats

Photo and Recipe Courtesy Kerry Saretsky, SeriousEats
Honestly, what gives? It's been gorgeous and temperate all week long and just as the freaking weekend rolls around, there's nothing but rain and thunderstorms predicted? Ugh. Grr. Wahhh. So since I don't want to be treking through the wet streets of New York, I think a nice night in with friends and food is just what we need. This drunken angel hair with leeks and cream sounds totally divine and the perfect dish for a cool, wet night, drinking as much wine as we please and keeping fingers crossed for the power to go out so we can sit in the dark, by candle light, and talk or not talk for hours. Bring on the thunderstorms, baby.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

lake george

Friends, boats, swimming, wakeboarding, constant competitions and one-up's, (attempted) ghost scares, and family style meals three times a day for three days straight? I could cry on command right now. Take me back to Lake George! Firing up the grill for steak, asparagus, and red onion. A mozzarella, tomato, basil salad. Baby greens lightly dressed with vinaigrette. Sweet corn on the cob grilled right in its husks and steamed to perfection. Sausage braised in red onions, balsamic, and a healthy splash of Brooklyn Brewery Beer. Burgers with all the fixings. Potato Rolls. A must. Simple grilled chicken with sliced campari tomatoes and salad. Sitting around the table with some of my closest friends, lights out, candles lit, long talks, laughing, drinking, doubled-over laughing to the point of tears that only comes after years and years and years of friendship. Every meal. Every day. Every night. This summer? Has been epic in every way.

Monday, August 24, 2009

monday meal planning

Well the weather in New York looks like it's going to be pretty close to fabulous this week which means smiles all over this girl's face. The humidity and all the freaking rain was starting to wear at us all. But alas, a break in the weather makes this Monday a little bit more bearable.

Or perhaps that could be because I took the day off. Ehh, minor detail.

As the summer comes to a close (cue the anxiety attack) I thought it'd be nice to continue these ode to summer dishes while we still can swing it. And summer tends to translate to Mediterranean food for me. But, don't you worry. I won't shove my tzatziki in your face again (at least this week) and instead, let's head over to Tuscany, shall we?

Now, I never thought I'd be able to make the switch from my good old Mor-Mor's tuna fish salad made with Hellman's Mayo, celery, green apple, and dill (so perfect I'll never be over it) to a mayo-less salad but the thing is it's just not that great to be eating all that mayo all the time. It really does make a huge difference by simply dressing the tuna with a simple vinaigrette instead. The layers of flavor end up being so much more diverse and interesting and you don't have to feel any more of those silly little pangs of guilt while chowing down on it for lunch.

So back to our flight to Tuscany. You can be all fancy schmancy and buy Italian tuna which is packed in olive oil or just use a can of regular tuna packed in water. I tend to lean towards the water option for both health and financial reasons but either will certainly suffice. Throw in some canned canellini beans that have been rinsed, along with finely chopped rosemary, red onion, lemon zest, a splash of vinegar (balsamic, white balsamic) and some olive oil, salt and pepper. Gently combine all of the ingredients and you've got a fab salad to eat on top of baby greens or stuffed inside a whole wheat pita. The beans give it great texture and an added protein boost and their creaminess will make you forget any of the bad stuff you think you're missing. I promise. Give it a try.

If you use two cans of tuna, and one can of beans, this salad should give you at least three lunches worth of food. And c'mon. Canned tuna and beans? Doesn't get much less expensive.

A brown rice salad would also be a great option for dinner and lunches combined. Cook up a small pot of brown rice and when cooked and cooled toss in halved cherry tomatoes, onion, parsley, and crumbled goat cheese (the list of veggies could go on and on here). Stir it on up, season with salt and pepper and enjoy that nutty yet fresh combination of flavors. A grilled chicken sausage served alongside would be even better as a dinner time option.

Now. Off to the market we go.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


So my boss totally gets all the credit for tipping me off on this thing (Thank you, Tom) but I'm all about it. MADCrush is a Thursday night cocktail hour at the Museum of Arts and Design which features an affordable menu of wine and nibbles that changes each week with a different guest chef. Last week, Scott Conant of Scarpetta showed off his cooking chops with an offering of creamy polenta with a fricassee of truffled mushrooms for a cool $6. The space overlooks Central Park and Columbus Circle and is decorated with seating made entirely from the corrugated cardboard of wine boxes. Pretty neat, if you ask me, and the perfect opportunity to meet and mingle with some new, interesting people who appreciate both good food, good wine, and a good deal. Because I don't know about you, but I'm all up in that kinda scenario.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

frank bruni's dinner guests

This week in the Times, Frank Bruni offers a look inside what it was like to be one of his lucky (or maybe not so lucky) dinner companions during his countless review sessions. But what was really interesting about this piece was how much insight it offered on the subject of human nature and how people's dining habits are very closely correlated to their personalities and outlooks.

"People are as strange about eating as they are about love. They want what they want."


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

DIY room service

So this is pretty much ridiculously amazing. Tortellini with wilted spinach and arugula in a creme fraiche and butter sauce further enriched with the addition of an egg yolk and parmesan cheese AND homemade english muffins. Both dishes were whipped up in a hotel room sans kitchen. I'll say it again. Amazing.

wine and cheese

These are two goodies I've been meaning to post for a while now but haven't been able to snap pictures of. But that all changed when I became the lucky winner of a brand new Sony Cybershot at my company summer party a couple weeks ago. Woohoo! The girl who never wins anything, wins big. So from now on, I'm hoping to be able to deliver you some serious food porn in addition to witty and always informative commentary.


So while the weather is not really permitting a truly enjoyable cheese experience right now, I'd hold off on buying this bad boy till it's a little bit cooler. Le Rustique Camembert ($6.50, Buon Italia, Chelsea Market) is a spectacularly pungent cheese with strong mushroom notes. Plenty salty and insanely creamy, this cheese has become an instant favorite of mine and an absolute crowd-pleaser.
And while I would typically gravitate towards a spicy, fruity red wine to pair up with this fromage, last night I experimented with a new favorite: Chenin Blanc. This particular one is from Man Vintners in South Africa (2008, $8.99) and has a fantastic fruit laden body with lots of tropical accents. Not too sweet, but just sweet enough to cut through the deliciously salty cheese and they played off one another wonderfully. If there's anything I've learned from my wine guy, Gary Vaynerchuk, it's to get out there and try as much as you possibly can. Don't always go for the same old wine from the same old region. Three weeks ago, I had never even heard of Chenin Blanc. Now? It's my jam. So try, try, try away and see how much fun you too can have with this complex and most interesting potable.

Monday, August 17, 2009

summer is my happy place

After a much needed weekend of straight up gorgeousness at the beach with friends, I'm once again sitting here wishing I possessed magical time travel powers that allowed me to press rewind. But until I get my button fixed, onward I go into this next week with happy memories of incessant sunshine and saltwater. And I can smile about that.

So with Summer on the brain (and body and soul and stomach) I'm thinking this week needs to be filled fresh, cool food that pays serious homage to this fine season. And what better way to celebrate the bounties of Summer than with some fresh sweet corn? Well maybe the addition of a good ole Weber grill, a bottle of Hawaiian Tropic Tanning Oil, and a cooler filled with ice cold brews. But hey, plain old corn will certainly suffice.

Go ahead and pick up of a few ears and steam 'em up. For you purists, your job now is just to enjoy. But for those of you who want to be a little more adventuresome, I say cut the kernels off the cob and put them into a medium sized bowl. Add some finely chopped red onion, a good squeeze of lime juice, a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, and a ton of freshly torn basil. And when you stick your fork in that bowl to steal a taste for seasoning, the only word that's going to pop into your mind is "Summer." Oh and holy deliciousness, thank you, Kiira.

You're welcome.

That corn salad alongside some grilled steak, chicken, or shrimp or sitting shotgun to some brown rice and black beans for the veggies, and just like that, dinner's served. And how will I enjoy it? Spooned on top of some crisp lettuce, a little chopped avocado, and campari tomatoes and this girl's all set.

Get creative. I know you can. And as always, enjoy it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

monday meal planning

This week, I'm highlighting one of the salads from the 101 salads post: #69. Silly coincidence. Anyways, it calls for stir frying some loosely chopped shrimp with lots of fresh grated ginger. When the shrimp are just cooked through, toss them (while hot) with chopped tomato, romaine, cilantro, scallions and plenty of fresh lime juice. This exotic little salad can be enjoyed as is or stuffed inside a pita. Translation: enjoy as is for dinner tonight and then try and sleep soundly in anticipation of tomorrow's seriously exciting lunch.

(And a little FYI? X-Large shrimp are on sale for a cool $6.99/lb. this week)

Grab some cucumbers too (I'm in a seriously Scandinavian mood and all I can think about is salmon, cucumbers, and lemon) and make a salad out of it. Whether it be tzatziki or swedish cucumbers, you'll be glad you have that cool, refreshing kick waiting for you in the fridge to beat this g.d. humidity this week. Cold poached salmon would be even lovelier to have on hand. And you know what? Pick up some thinly sliced roast beef and your pita and tzatziki get double duty with a greek-inspired sandwich. Mouth is watering just thinking about that one.

I'll also be throwing together a dinner for four, including one Vegan. At first glance, ughh and eye rolling. But guess what this girl's gonna do? Penne with zucchini and ricotta can easily become vegan by omitting the ricotta from the one picky diner's plate (I kid. Sorta). Then the spectacularly creamy cheese can be added to the rest and all four will be happily and easily catered to. I'm thinking an orange and fennel salad alongside. Again. I know. But c'mon. What would go better?


ginger (Peel the entire knub and freeze whatever is left. It freezes phenomenally well and grates much easier.)
(Produce-heavy, I know. Seek out a produce market. Best prices. Manhattan Fruit Exchange in Chelsea Market is my jam.)


roast beef


greek yogurt

on hand: frozen dumplings

My beautiful and always funny foodie Aunt Kari has deemed these Trader Joe's Thai Shrimp Gyoza dumplings as pretty divine. Sadly, Trader Joe's never seems to be do-able for me during the week but it looks as if I'm going to have to make an exception. Because you know. Kari says, we do. Got it? Good.

I make it a point to always (or as often as I possibly can) have frozen dumplings on hand. They're a fantastic go to when you're staring into your refrigerator, eyes glossed over from the boredom of its contents, and you're glancing towards the take out menus only to remember, aha! I have frozen dumplings! I don't have to have a boring dinner! I can steam up some dumplings and make a quick little salad and I will be happy! Hooray!

If you don't share that same euphoric reaction, you're the weird one. Not me. I swear.

All jokes aside (because this has been a hilarious post, I know), check out your grocery's selection of frozen dumplings or swing by Trader Joe's. If not for Kari and my sake, for the sake of some Two Buck Chucks.


steamed lobsters
boiled new potatoes
corn on the cob
drawn butter
mozzarella, tomato, basil salad
torn baguette
lemon wedges
chardonnay magnums

Thursday, August 6, 2009

meet sam sifton

Sam Sifton has been the chosen one to fill Frank Bruni's shoes as the new restaurant critic for the New York Times. And while I know nothing about him (yet) I think I already kinda like him. Between this narrated slideshow of the food in Trinidad, and this little Q&A, he's quick, witty, and doesn't come across the least bit pretentious. All of which, in my book, adds up to the, dare I say, perfect restaurant critic. Particularly for the dining-out climate now. His seemingly casual approach seems entirely relevant and with that said, this girl is greatly anticipating his first review.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

must try: xie xie

Photo: Melissa Hom, New York Magazine
Low and behold, a great looking Asian sandwich shop called Xie Xie (pronounced shay shay) has opened up in my old stomping grounds on 9th Ave. With a menu showcasing five different sandwich options and wine juice boxes and cans of sparkling wine, I sit here disappointed and just a little bit angry they hadn't opened up while I still lived nearby. But not to worry, a quick ride up on the C/E train and any one of these delicious looking and sounding sandwiches could be mine. Midtown Lunch ordered one of everything (except the lobster sandwich) to provide us with pictures and a taste breakdown of each and I honestly can't decide which one I'd have to order. Solution: go with four people, order one of each, juice boxes for all, and try a little bit of everything. Overdone trend or not, I look forward to trying out Xie Xie's spin on the ever present Asian-style sandwich.

Xie Xie
645A Ninth Ave. (at 45th St.)
View Interior Slideshow here

10 downing

Last week, we had the pleasure of dining at 10 Downing during Restaurant Week. And by the way, did it seem to sneak up on anyone else this year? I thought we just had Restaurant Week. And while this may sound like a complaint, it's far from it. It's just that when it came time to make my reservations a few weeks back, I was kind of 'laxed about the whole thing and didn't put much time or thought into my choices. Wherever could take a table of four at around 7ish and that of course I had some interest vested in, was fine for me. So I went ahead and booked a table at 10 Downing. Right around the corner from my apartment, and pretty central for the rest of my dining companions, we excitedly marked our calendars. A mother-daughter double date of sorts.

Rewind to last Wednesday. Monsoon-central. Never have I ever seen rain like that in all my (24) years. Not only was it coming down in sheets, but it was whipping around with such vengeance my lip would literally quiver every time I'd turn my head towards my window. I'll be honest: I hate the rain. And I hate it even more in the city. Wind tunnels, upturned umbrellas, inappropriate shoe situations, hair catastrophes etc., all add up to complete anger and misery in my book. But with determination and hungry stomachs, we somehow all made it to 10 Downing within reasonable time. Even if, by no means dry.

As I was the first to arrive, I sat at the bar and decided to order a glass of wine. Which, by the way, is always a slightly awkward experience. Once glancing over the wine list, I chose some sort of white which the bartender allowed me to taste. Now, I've been told many times before, that my facial expressions are rarely masked. When I see, feel, taste anything, my face shows it for all to see. So even without my knowing, as soon as I sniffed, swallowed, tasted the wine, the bartender deemed it not my taste. "You don't like it, do you?" And while it was fine enough, he was absolutely right. He suggested something else (albeit one of the most expensive wines by the glass on the list. hmph.) which was definitely unique. Did I love it? Well, maybe not. But I did love that he was incredibly attentive and wanted to make sure I was content with my selection. Alejandro, I believe his name was. Thank you, Alejandro.

Once all my damp dinner companions arrived, we were seated and dove into the menus and almost instantaneously decided we were going to fore go the Restaurant Week Menu. My Mom and I decided to split a charcuterie plate (I had heard it was not to be missed) and Allison and her daughter Sarah went for the baked sheep cheese with red pepper relish. For my main course, it would be the egg uovolo with truffle, sugar snap peas, and proscuitto and for Mom, the sweet corn agnolotti with basil, peekytoe crab, and lemon butter. Across the table: The spinach and ricotta gnudi and another sweet corn agnolotti.
First courses arrived and before I could take a first bite of the much-anticipated lamb proscuittio, Allison and Sarah had polished off the baked sheep cheese. Needless to say, they freaking loved it.

The charcuterie was nothing short of interesting and indulgent. The chicken liver pate was smokey and smooth and perfectly salty spread over a charred piece of grilled bread. That and a good bottle of red wine, and I could have been set for the night. The lamb proscuitto was also quite spectacular. Slightly gamey, chewy yet tender, I don't see why it's not sold right alongside regular proscuitto at any specialty market. The sausage (I can't remember what it was called) was the only thing I didn't need more than one of. It wasn't flavored with much of anything and just had a strong "meat" flavor that didn't leave me wanting more.

Then, the main courses arrived and boy am I glad I was able to snap pictures before my Mom dove into her sweet corn agniolotti. Let me just say that my Mom is an incredibly tough critic. I'm always nervous before presenting her with just about anything, what she's going to think. That said, the woman was this close to picking up her bowl AND my bowl and licking it clean. I mean, there was not a speck of anything left on our plates as she gushed about how delicious everything was. The soft poached egg hidden inside the delicate ravioli skin oozed its luscious yolk into the truffle butter sauce creating one of the most indulgent bites I've ever encountered. And the salty bits of proscuitto and sweet crunchy pieces of sugar snap peas just made your eyes roll to the back of your head. Her sweet corn agniolotti with peekytoe crab was clean and wonderful. I probably would have been better off with that order, only because my uovolo was so rich that I felt bad taking more than two bites. Regardless, everyone was smacking their lips and smiling at the beauty of the food that had just been devoured.

Noisy? Yes. But to me, it's all part of the ambiance. While I might not go here on a first date, unless you'd rather not get to know each other whatsoever, it's perfectly appropriate for a night out with a couple friends to share some incredible food. And most of the time, that's what it's all about.
And for the record, the next day I received a call from Mom. "I just have to say how unbelievably delicious all the food was last night."
The look on my face? Well, I'm pretty certain had you seen it, it would have quite obviously read sheer happiness and success.

10 Downing
10 Downing St. at 6th Ave.


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