Filed under: Dating
Image courtesy of Sameer Narula
When I brought the blog back, I was open to taking it in a few new directions. This is one of them. It’s food related only in that it took place at a restaurant. But if it’s entertaining enough, I may continue sacrificing myself to the online dating gods for your reading pleasure. There’s certainly enough content.
The date was set for 8pm at Cafe Lalo on the Upper West Side. The gentleman in question – let’s call him Bernard – got points for simply picking a place, without 75 text exchanges over where and when, and do you work in Midtown East or Midtown West? But he was coming off a weekend of minus 1,000 points, mostly due to his incessant need to text me at all times with just: “Hey :- ).”
It was something about the nose that made me breathe fire. Who was this guy, and why did he insist on texting me to say absolutely nothing – with a smiley face AND a nose? There was only one way to find out.
So promptly at 8pm I bounded up the steps of Cafe Lalo, after wasting the appropriate amount of time perusing the goods on display at Organic Avenue. (I fled.) Suddenly, I was on the set of You’ve Got Mail. Should I have brought a red rose? I thought. Am I going to meet Tom Hanks?
Filed under: Recipes
I got on a chickpea salad for lunch kick awhile back – stop laughing, they were actually pretty good. There’s a “tuna salad” version and an “egg salad” version (plus relish, celery, and scallions). Don’t knock them ’til you’ve tried them – they’re delicious. I liked both, but was partial to the “egg salad” one because it basically tasted like the inside of a deviled egg with the veiled healthfulness of chickpeas. In a word, yum.
So I was on the hunt for a couple cans of chickpeas and somehow managed to grab two cans of red kidney beans instead. I am turning into my mother (the metamorphosis is almost complete). As a kid I’d go crazy when she’d return from the market with jalapeno-American cheese, or the wrong kind of milk, and I could never understand how she couldn’t see she was buying the wrong stuff and it was so important because I obviously didn’t want regular lemonade, I wanted pink lemonade! Oh, to be a kid again. I remember vowing I’d always get the right stuff when I grew up and had to do my own shopping. And there I was, with two cans of red kidney beans and zero chickpeas. Damnit.
But I vowed to find a use for them….it just took several weeks. Ultimately, the simplest recipe won out: rajmah, or red kidney bean curry. It’s a piece of cake to put together; saute some ginger and garlic with some onion and a green chile before adding tomato sauce, salt, and a bunch of spices you should already have in your cupboard. Add the kidney beans and let them cook down a bit; I let it go for longer than the recipe called for, but do what you like. The end result is delicious, and if you’re curious, quite nutritional too. The Nutritional Ninja remains skeptical about beans, which makes it a win-win: more for me.
Rajmah, or Red Kidney Bean Curry
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen. Serves 4.
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. minced fresh ginger
1 medium onion, diced
1 plum tomato, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small green chile, mostly deseeded and minced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 Tbsp. butter
8 oz. can of plain tomato sauce
2 cans of cooked kidney beans, drained and rinsed well
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro
yogurt, naan, or rice for serving
In a pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and chile along with the onion and saute until the onion is translucent, 5-10 minutes, but don’t let the garlic burn.
Add the tomato sauce, salt, and all the spices and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the kidney beans, along with one bean can’s worth of water and the tablespoon of butter. Bring it to a boil, then let it simmer over medium low heat for 15-20 minutes, until the sauce has reduced and become somewhat velvety. Serve over rice, or with naan, with a dollop of yogurt on top and sprinkled with cilantro.
Filed under: Restaurant Round-Up | Tags: aquavit, food fairs, James Beard awards, restaurant round-up
I’m here to canvas the food blogs…so you don’t have to. When I’m not doing “research,” I’m eating fried oysters at Pearl (top right) and Korean BBQ at Madangsui (bottom left). Otherwise, here’s what’s been going on:
If you’re a reclusive New Yorker, you might be one of the two people in town who missed the James Beard Awards, which went down on Monday at Lincoln Center. For all of the hand wringing that went on about New York not representing, well….they cleaned up.
I hesitate to pass this on, because I’d like to keep this gem for myself…but word on the street is Aquavit has its sh*t together, big time. Chef Jernmark is apparently gunning for a second Michelin star, and the way things are going over there he just might get it.
If you’re looking for fun weekend activities, or sticking around for Memorial Day Weekend, here are FOUR awesome food fairs to check out: Hester Street Fair, Smorgasburg, Madison Square Eats, and Smorgasbar. I’d encourage you to check out Smorgasbar, as it’s supporting the very much still recovering South Street Seaport area. Hester Street is the only one that doesn’t serve alcohol; head over to Loreley or the back bar at Freeman’s for your afternoon tipple.
Get ready: the banana stand is coming to NYC. Yes, that banana stand!
Now that the spring weather is maybe, finally, potentially acting like spring weather, the folks at Gothamist were nice enough to put together two key lists: the best rooftop bars in the city and the best bars with outdoor space. Now go forth into the great outdoors….and drink.
Filed under: Index of Recipes, Recipes | Tags: cauliflower, Martha Stewart, side dish, vegetarian
It’s actually incredible how much of the food I make, whether it appears on this site or not, is dictated by the Nutritional Ninja’s dietary requests. Any time I tell my mother, “Oh, I can’t possibly make that – You-Know-Who won’t touch it,” she screeches, “You’re the chef! You get to make whatever you want and he can deal with it!”
But it seems counter-intuitive to mess up the kitchen making some elaborate dish only one of us is going to eat. And we all know that when left to my own devices, I’m much more likely to be found rifling through the fridge like a modern-day forager, putting together some bizarre-o combination like carrots, leftover chickpea salad, and some old rice crackers and calling it “dinner.”
rather than complain endlessly in addition to complaining endlessly about his latest diet restriction (no nightshades), I’ve decided I’ll work within them. But it’s also meant we eat a lot of broccoli. And a lot of asparagus. A LOT OF BROCCOLI. Don’t get me wrong; I love that roasted broccoli recipe almost as much as I love a 3pm cookie. Sometimes, however, it’s important to expand one’s horizons. So I turned to broccoli’s less attractive cousin: cauliflower. I made a similar version of this on the site a while back; this is much, much simpler. And I think the end result is much, much better.
The process is pretty simple: roast a bunch of cauliflower. When it’s done, toss it in a sauce you made on the stove, consisting of olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and the requisite capers and golden raisins. I added more olive oil and more capers and golden raisins because more is usually better. If you’re hesitant about the combination, don’t be. It’s salty and sweet – and delicious.
Caramelized Cauliflower with Capers & Golden Raisins
Adapted from Martha Stewart. Serves 2.
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into smallish florets
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil + 1/4 c. olive oil
lots of salt and pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp. capers
3 Tbsp. golden raisins
Some chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Preheat the oven to 425. Toss the chopped cauliflower with the 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, flipping the pieces about halfway through. When the cauliflower has just a few minutes left, warm the olive oil (you want a good film on the bottom of the pan; don’t be stingy) over medium low heat. Add the garlic and red pepper – let it sizzle but don’t let it burn. Saute for 30 seconds or so. Raise the heat; add the capers and golden raisins and saute for another minute or so. Add the cooked cauliflower and toss together to combine; pull off the heat before adding the parsley. Serve.
You guys, I bought flour today. And sugar. I actually can’t remember the last time I purchased either. There has been cooking in the Sarcastic Appetite Kitchen since my little (long) hiatus, but baking sort of fell to the bottom of the list. I think of it as a Saturday afternoon activity, and, well, I’ve been spending my Saturdays doing other things.
You talk about brownies with serious bakers, and everyone starts talking about the (high-end) chocolate. Callebaut, Valrhona, Mast Brothers…you name it, someone’s got their favorite and it is the reason why their brownies are the best. I love this recipe because it flouts that: all you need is cocoa powder, plus the usual suspects (flour, sugar, eggs, salt, vanilla). Not sure if you have Dutch process or regular? It doesn’t matter! These brownies are so easy-going, I want to date them.
My favorite part is the sea salt sprinkled on top. A very wise friend once introduced me to ice cream sundaes with sea salt and I’ve never looked back. These brownies do the same thing; the salt just makes the chocolate pop. Being gluttonous, I also added chopped semisweet chocolate chips (ok, ok, from Mast Brothers, guilty as charged) and the result was out of control.
If you’re feeling peppy, brown the butter beforehand. Add walnuts if you like. I upped the vanilla; you should too. These are gorgeous. I’m a little worried they’ll all be gone by tonight…and I’ll only have myself to blame.
Alice Medrich’s Brownies with Sea Salt
10 Tbps. salted butter (1 1/4 sticks) (it’s ok to use salted butter….trust me)
1 1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. plus 2 Tbps. cocoa powder – Dutch, natural, whatever you have
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large, cold eggs
1/2 c. flour
2/3 c. chopped chocolate, or walnuts
nice flaky sea salt
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray an 8″ x 8″ (or similar sized) pan with cooking spray; layer a sheet of parchment paper in and then spray that, too.
In a large bowl over simmering water, melt the butter, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. It will look like it’s not doing much of anything, so turn the heat up a bit and eventually it will melt into a thick, dark paste. Set it aside and wait for it to cool a bit. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the vanilla. Stir in each egg, one by one, letting the first blend completely before you add the second. Stir in the flour until it disappears, then stir for 40 strokes (it won’t take as long as you think).
Sprinkle the top with some really nice sea salt. Don’t be shy. Bake at 325°F for about 20-25 minutes (in a different sized pan, mine took closer to 30) until a toothpick shoved in there comes out not quite clean. Don’t overbake!
Cool on a rack. Try to have some restraint.
Filed under: Restaurant Round-Up
Am I the only one who has a running list of places I want to check out? Is that why you always bother me for advice? (I consider it a compliment.) Lately I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed with what’s new, what’s old, and what’s just plain intriguing. If you’ve had one too many pad thais delivered recently, consider putting some clothes on and checking one of these 10 places out.
In no particular order:
1. Minetta Tavern- If you haven’t been yet, you’ve got to make it happen. It works equally well for a romantic dinner date and for a fun girls’ brunch. They have the best bone marrow around – and I’ve had it quite often. And their Black Label Burger may be expensive but it is no joke.
2. 456 Shanghai - Get yourself to Chinatown before it disappears completely. If you, like I do, often have a hankering for soup dumplings and don’t feel like leaving the island, this place does a pretty good rendition. They also have the most amazing cold sesame noodles I have ever had the pleasure of gobbling down. It’s always jammed, and it’s hilariously cheap; the last time I was there our bill was $30. For two. And we had wildly over-ordered.
3. Ten Bells – Is it a first date and you suspect she might be an intellectual lush? (Not that I would be referring to anyone in particular.) Then take her to Ten Bells, an awesome Francophile wine bar in the heart of the LES with an extensive and interesting wine list. They used to be cash only, which was embarrassing for all parties involved; thankfully that is no longer the case.
4. Aurora – Yes, I’m telling you to check out an Italian restaurant….in Williamsburg. They have a lovely outdoor garden when the weather is cooperating, and an adorable, dimly lit dining room when it is not. Prices are quite reasonable and they will very nicely split pastas for you, which means you can have yourself a bit of a tasting menu while you’re at it.
5. Carbone – Then, when you want Italian, but you won’t leave the island…this would be the place. From the guys behind Torrisi Italian Specialties and Parm (both are awesome) comes an old school Italian joint done right. Good luck getting in. I hear the meatballs are pretty fab and the bill can be a little breathtaking. Consider yourself forewarned.
6. Empellon Taqueria – Speaking of meatballs, I often dream about the ones from Empellon Taqueria in the West Village (its sister restaurant, Empellon Cocina, is in the East Village). Their tacos are no slouches either; go with the fish tempura, lamb barbacoa, or pork cheek.
7. ABV – I’ve been raving about this place since it opened. The only problem is, everyone else has been raving about it too and now it’s next to impossible to get in. I prefer to stop in for an early dinner on Sunday, when the crowd’s a little more mellow. Chef Corey Cova changes the menu pretty regularly, and it’s always a hit. No liquor here, but a great selection of wines by the glass more than makes up for it.
8. Le Philosophe – Chef Matthew Aita takes the classic French brasserie for a spin. Ligayan Mishan’s description of the tournedos Rossini alone has me salivating. Plus, the boys at Immaculate Infatuation claim you can get in and out (with wine!) for under $100, if you order right, and that’s reason enough for me.
9. Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria – ever since Il Buco opened this restaurant/cafe/specialty shop down on Great Jones, it’s been jammed in the best way. They have an incredible short rib sandwich that is really heavy on the black pepper crust but delicious with a little gorgonzola and caramelized onions. The cocktail list is great and changes seasonally, and frankly any place that has a cicchetti menu is all right by me.
10. Tertulia – it’s not new, but it’s awesome and I think underrated. I like to go on Sunday afternoons, when it’s quiet, but Seamus says if you get there by 7 on most nights, you don’t have to wait at all. They’ve added some new things to the menu (the duck rice sounds amazeballs) but the old standbys are pretty awesome too: pan con tomate, croquetas, etc.
Last weekend a friend and I made a quick decision to head to Nashville for not quite 48 hours….purely based on visions of beer, bourbon, and barbecue. I got a lot of flack from friends and loved ones – “you’re going WHERE?” “WHY are you in Nashville for the weekend?” “WTF?” – but it was all worth it. So here’s a quick recap of everything we ate. (Warning: it was excessive.)
We started off Friday night with drinks at Edley’s, where the smell of barbecue was so intoxicating I briefly considered ditching our reservation at City House. I’m glad we didn’t….but I’m sad I never made it back to try said barbecue. Instead, we enjoyed some pretty delicious local beers.
After a round, we headed to City House. The appetizers were phenomenal – some kind of broccoli salad; kale & fregola; and octopus with a chickpea puree that was out of this world. We split two pizzas, one lamb belly with the requisite egg, and a tomato-anchovy one that cut through the fat. Nice balance. Drinks were also delicious – I stuck to gin-based ones while my friend ran down the list of whiskey-based ones and our host[ess] was nice enough to squire us around. Win-win.
Saturday opened with coffee at a local place, followed by hot fried chicken at Hattie B’s – worth the airfare alone, in my humble opinion. $13 gets you some dark meat (or white, if you’re a wimp), 2 sides, and a beer. The heat level goes all the way from mild to ‘shut the cluck up’ – I settled on hot and was pleased but not overwhelmed by the slow burn. Nice little spot.
After meandering through Vandy’s campus and checking out the Frist, we decided we were parched and in need of some respite. This we found at Robert’s Western World, downtown, which offered cheap beer and live music. Yes, this is Nashville, and yes, they have this in spades. It was awesome. (Also awesome is Fireball. You can thank me later.)
Dinner that night was at Holland House in East Nashville, a spiffy little spot next to the well-regarded Pharmacy, which apparently has fab burgers but was too crowded for us to try.
After we got over Holland House’s ridiculous rules (you must be seated in order to drink, and no, that sofa by the front door doesn’t count; oh and also those bar stools have a wait list), we loved it. If you swan in and overhear a bartender with a British accent, introduce yourself and tell him a couple girls from New York sent you. We, ah, made an impression. He’ll take care of you.
We feasted here, and the food was awesome – a solid charcuterie plate with some out-of-this-world foie gras mousse, and some delicious fried yellow tomatoes and a chevre tart. We split a steak (rare) and perused their drinks menu of interesting riffs on old classics. I liked the Warsaw Mule, a take on the Moscow Mule, though looking back I couldn’t tell you what the difference was – only that it was delicious.
By Sunday we were running low on steam – and stomach space – yet still made room for multiple! donuts at the Donut Den and brunch at the Southern, including my first time with chargrilled BBQ oysters. It sounds like an abomination; it’s actually delicious.
And of course by the time we left we had only grazed the surface of where to eat and drink in Nashville – Patterson House, Catbird Seat, and Lockeland Table didn’t make it to the list. And our bourbon consumption was suspiciously low. A reason to head back, if you ask me. Which leads me to my New…Summer’s…..Resolution of 2013: more weekend foodie trips. Are you in?