A Sarcastic Appetite

Jump-Seared Tuna and Spicy Slaw
July 31, 2009, 6:51 pm
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The other day I stumbled upon this article and was a little taken aback. I have to say, I finished it and found myself in a bit of a conundrum: don’t eat a lot of fish and risk getting dementia, or eat lots of fish and enjoy a nice bout of mercury poisoning? And, also, drink a lot of wine and end up with cirrhosis of the liver anyway?

Oh, is that last one not really related?

I was still thinking about that article as I wandered home from work last night, stopping here and there to shop needlessly fight the recession as any upstanding American would. I also thought it was high time that I attempt to make dinner without really consulting a recipe – a decision that usually has disastrous consequences – but I was pretty sure I could wing it with flying colors this time.

My strategy was simple and left ample time to devote to a bottle of vinho verde I picked up on the way home: Door #1, AKA more fish, less dementia, and served with a side of mercury poisoning. I figured I’d marinate the tuna in a sauce much like the spicy garlic sauce I made for tofu not too long ago, throw together some kind of slaw-like salad with the last sad veggies from my CSA haul, make a sesame-soy dressing, toss some avocados on top….and done.


(Ok, ok, so maybe I make a mess in the kitchen. Whatever.) All I needed was some nice looking sushi-grade yellowfin from one of my favorite places in the world. The slaw was next on the list, and a piece of cake. Thanks, Cuisinart!


So far, the hardest part was opening the bottle of wine…how I kid. (Um, it was a screw top.) All that was left was to heat the pan until it was sizzling hot, then sear the tuna, dice some avocado and toss it in lemon juice, and sprinkle some untoasted (because you know I’m lazy like that) sesame seeds on top. Yeah, it was really good.


Jump-Seared Tuna and Spicy Slaw

Serves 2.

2 half-pound-ish pieces of nice yellowfin tuna (make sure it is sushi-grade)

This spicy garlic sauce, doubled, minus the scallions and sesame seeds, but with the addition of 1 heaping tbsp. of minced fresh ginger

Whatever slaw-like veggies you have; I used 3 carrots, 1/4 head of Napa cabbage, and 1/2 head of a sad little raddichio.

3 scallions, chopped

1 avocado, diced and dressed with fresh lemon juice

This spicy ginger dressing; I added 1 tsp. of red pepper flakes in lieu of the oil, used 2 tbsp. soy sauce instead of 2 tsp., and added lots of freshly ground black pepper.

1 tsp. extra sesame seeds to sprinkle on top should you feel so inclined

Marinate the tuna in the spicy garlic sauce, covered at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. While that’s marinating, shred the carrots, cabbage, and raddichio using the, ahem, shredding blade of your Cuisinart. Don’t have a Cuisinart? Spend the next hour finely julienning your veggies by hand into identical matchstick shapes. Kidding, kidding; if you don’t have any fancy equipment, just chop everything into vaguely the same size. Add the scallions and dress with the sesame soy dressing. Let it sit for a bit at room temperature.

Heat a non-stick pan until it’s really really hot, then sear the tuna for about two minutes a side. Throw it on top of the slaw, add the avocado and the sesame seeds, then dress with some of the leftover marinade.

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of July 30
July 29, 2009, 5:35 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

It’s another Thirsty Thursday, and you know what that means: I’m here to canvass the foodblogs so you don’t have to. Here are some highlights:

I’m getting incredibly antsy and there’s no end in sight: Superdive’s been closed every weekend this month for private parties. Maybe I can book ahead for Thanksgiving and take my family??

Take some cash out and fondle it – and then put it back in your wallet, since you’ll no longer be able to use it at Commerce. The restaurant has switched to a credit-card-only policy, claiming it’s a “safety precaution” against the “robberies on the rise” in the West Village. Huh.

Apparently fried chicken is the new bacon: Momofuku’s David Chang is doing private fried chicken dinners at Noodle Bar, inspired by chicken he had off the menu when Andrew Carmellini was in the kitchen at Café Boulud. And, of course, Carmellini himself will be adding fried chicken family-style dinners to the menu at Locanda Verde (which, by the way, is also now serving diners in its courtyard). He said he would back in May, remember? And, because these things come in threes, Butcher Bay just unveiled a bar menu with – surprise, surprise – fried chicken.

Because putting together a basket full of wine and cheese was apparently too difficult for some of you people, TastingTable has taken it upon themselves to map out the best places near all the best NYC parks to get the whole shebang all wrapped up in a basket for you. They’ve even added wine recs and where to pick up a bottle on the way in…just BYO glasses and corkscrew – and ice, if you swing that way. (I won’t tell.)

Beat the heat this weekend with a swizzle, a close cousin of the julep and therefore automatically delicious.

If you’re into brunch, maybe you’re into brunch all the time – in which case, check out the EV’s Permanent Brunch, now open and serving…yeah, you guessed it.

Tuesday’s PSA
July 28, 2009, 5:43 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Just in case you didn’t notice, I created a Recipe Archive especially for you. See under the ‘About Me’ page over there on the left? Oh, don’t lie to me, I know you totally didn’t notice until I brought it up. Regardless, I’ll do my best to continue updating it as we go along here…unless I’m out cold under the table, yet again a victim of too much sparkling water. (Like I said, it happens all the time.)

And as always, if you have any requests, questions or comments, are interested in scheduling some QT with my liver and/or stomach, or are looking for some recs for your own liver and/or stomach, you can email me: asarcasticappetite (at) gmail (dot) com. If you’re amusing, I might post your words here – with names, email addresses, etc. redacted, of course, so all not-so-innocent parties may remain as such.

Lastly, I leave you with words from the great philosopher Jack Handey: “When you die, if you get a choice between going to regular heaven or pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if it’s not, mmmmmmm, boy.”

Thus concludes the PSA. Happy Tuesday!

Courgette Carbonara
July 26, 2009, 9:09 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Last week I had been keeping an eye out for recipes that involved anything in my haul from the CSA, and thankfully the interwebs happily obliged. On Friday, I spied a post on Serious Eats about an updated version of pasta carbonara, with zucchini. I was a little leery – zucchini is kind of tasteless, I don’t know, would the thyme really make a difference, but wait a minute, wait a minute: bacon makes everything better. And since we now know that bacon cures hangovers, I thought it would be a good recipe to have in the old repertoire for those times when, you know, I’m feeling a little bit fuzzy after having too much sparkling water on a particularly kicky Saturday night. (Happens all the time.)

As I watch the bacon render its fat into the butter I’ve sauteed it with, I begin to feel slight twinges in my chest. Apparently, having not read the recipe terribly carefully, I didn’t realize that there’s no draining of the bacon fat; that’s what you cook the zucchini in. My arteries winced, and I wondered if maybe I should cook something else? Something that showcased the CSA bounty in all its glory, rather than drowning it in pig fat? Maybe like a zucchini soup, or, um, salad?


Not to worry, I came to my senses immediately. Look at those little zucchini half-moons swimming in bacon fat! Delicious. I realize the image below gives you little sense of what the heck the end result looked like (you should know by now I prefer to cover just about everything with a hefty grating of Parmigiano Reggiano) but you’re getting it anyway.


Courgette Carbonara

Adapted from this recipe from Serious Eats. Serves 2.

2 medium zucchini

2 egg yolks

1/2 lb. penne

3 slices bacon, chopped

1 tbsp. butter

3-4 springs fresh thyme (I thought it could even have used a little more)

about 1/2 c. nice Parmesan cheese, grated

lots of salt and pepper

In a small bowl, combine the egg yolks, half of the cheese, and some salt and pepper. Whip it a bit with a fork, then set aside. Bring a pot of water to a boil, and cook the pasta until al dente.

Meanwhile, slice the zucchini lengthwise, and then into half-moons roughly the size of the penne. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large saute pan, then add the bacon and let it render its fat, until it begins to get crispy around the edges. Add the zucchini and the thyme, and continue to cook, stirring frequently.

Once the pasta’s cooked, drain it, reserving a little bit of the water, a little less than half a cup or so. Add that to the egg yolk mixture and stir it a bit, loosening it up. Add the sauce mixture and the pasta to the pan with the bacon and zucchini; toss briefly to combine, then serve immediately, with the rest of the cheese on top and more freshly ground black pepper.

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of July 23
July 23, 2009, 8:37 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I do hope my valiant efforts at blogging this week make up for the pitiful lack thereof the last several. Regardless, my cherubs, I’m here as usual today to canvass the foodblogs so you don’t have to. Here are some highlights:

Ed Levine of Serious Eats does a write-up of a breakfast cart right in my hood that sounds so good I’m actually excited for the next time I wake up absurdly late and need to get breakfast near the office. No, that wasn’t today, but thanks for asking.

Wined & Dined, as usual, has a nice round-up of the Recession Specials featured at higher-end restaurants like Asiate (3 courses for $45!) and Lupa (late night 3 courser for only $26!). Full list is here.

The Brun-Dog bestows a nice 2-spot on Andrew Carmellini’s Locanda Verde, in the old Ago space, but insists the chef “isn’t yet hitting his stride.”

The Feedbag throws out a rumor that Thomas Keller is opening a new restaurant sometime in the fall. Reps deny it, but Curbed gets after it, eyeing none other than Jean Nouvel’s 100 Eleventh as a genuine possibility. Stay tuned….

Unsurprisingly, Twitter is turning out to be the most efficient place to find on-the-ground reviews during Restaurant Week. Eater rounds up a few of them; if you want to join in on the fun, just add #nycrw to your tweets.

A First Foray into CSA
July 22, 2009, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

That’s “Community Supported Agriculture” to you people. I don’t support it, but my friend Char does! When she knew she was going to be out of town this week, she offered her share to me. And you better believe I said yes.

So on Tuesday I scooted out of the office at 5:30 and hopped on the 1 train to the UWS with an empty bag in tow – pick-up was only held from 5-7pm and I didn’t dare be tardy. I became confused by the incredibly simple directions and wandered around a bit before finally finding my way into the basement of a church on 86th and West End Ave.

Continue reading

Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies
July 21, 2009, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


Last night I made pasta with shrimp and basil that was so lackluster I can’t even be bothered to blog about it. And that’s really saying something, because here at A Sarcastic Appetite, my friends, the bar’s set pretty low. I’m still a little confused as to how that happened, especially since the sauce was pretty much just a delightful Pinot Gris from the Willamette Valley, but sometimes these things just don’t pan out.

After dinner, however, (and after several glasses of said wine), I thought I’d make some cookies. Actually, the Nutritional Ninja had asked that I pick some up on the way home from work, but I couldn’t be bothered. I could, however, be bothered to make a mess in the kitchen with my brown sugar that wasn’t quite soft and the 75 bowls I apparently needed to throw these cookies together. (They’re not actually that difficult to make.)

They are, however, kind of a lot. If I were to do them again, I’d reduce the amount of chocolate (I know, I know, can you believe it?) and up the amount of oatmeal. And maybe reduce the flour by a little bit, too, while I was at it. But they are actually damn good, and I say that with authority, having shoveled eaten four of them quite daintily for dessert. Especially since they’re, you know, nicely underbaked. Then again, what cookie isn’t better underbaked?

Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from this recipe. Makes about 2 dozen.

2 c. flour

1 c. uncooked oats (not the quick cooking kind)

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 1/2 sticks butter, softened

3/4 c. sugar

3/4 c. brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

12 oz. chocolate chips (this was a little excessive)

1 1/2 c. raisins

Preheat the oven to 350º. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, oats and salt. In a large bowl, beat the butter and both sugars. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture little by little, beating well. Stir in the raisins and the chocolate chips. Drop by heaping tablespoons onto a greased cookie sheet; bake about 10-11 minutes if you like them underdone; closer to 14 minutes if you like them crispier. Let cool on the sheet for about a minute or two before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

Ten Minute Dinner: Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce
July 17, 2009, 9:37 pm
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My senior year of college I lived with ten other girls, at least half of whom were some variation of vegetarian. So the nights we all ate dinner together usually featured some kind of tofu, and often some kind of bean dish for the tofu-disinclined. (Woe to the one girl who despised both.) I, however, relished tofu’s frequent appearances in our house dinners; I always felt like I was eating something genuinely good for me, even if it was doused in spicy peanut sauce and I had already had two helpings. (It’s soy! It’s protein! No one was slaughtered in the making of this product!)

These days, however, it’s another story. The Nutritional Ninja won’t touch the stuff, so I don’t dare make it for dinner. See how nice I am? Upon occasion? Last week, however, a magical opportunity presented itself: the Nutritional Ninja was having dinner with a friend, and that bottle of rosé and I were going to stay in and catch up on important television programs with cultural significance, like 16 and Pregnant and NYC Prep. What a delight!

All I needed was the tofu; I had everything else on hand already. Even better: the whole thing took ten minutes. I also absolutely love that this recipe does not involve dicing the tofu and weighting it and draining it; you just rinse it and throw it in a saucepan of water. I also doubled the recipe for the sauce and added more heat. I couldn’t be bothered with making rice or having some kind of “vegetable” alongside, but if you feel so inclined, knock yourself out. Maybe some kind of Asian-inspired slaw, or some steamed edamame, or a seaweed salad.

Look at this! Isn’t it glorious!? I ate almost all of it by myself. On second thought, maybe I shouldn’t have so willingly shared that with you all….


Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce

Adapted from Gourmet.

Serves 2, but let’s be serious, you’ll need something else to go with it.

1 block, 14 to 18 oz., of firm tofu (not silken)

1/2 c. chopped scallions (about 3)

2-3 cloves garlic

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 heaping tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted

scant 1/4 c. soy sauce

2-3 tbsp. sesame oil

a few dashes of nam pla (fish sauce)

a dash or so of sriracha (optional)

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp. sugar

Rinse the tofu and then place in a saucepan; cover with cold water, then bring to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat. While that simmers, make your sauce: mince the garlic and then mash it with the salt to create a paste. Add it to a small bowl, then add the remaining ingredients (save for the tofu, obviously) and whisk to blend. Taste as you go along – you might want less sesame oil and more sriracha.

Lift the tofu out, patting it dry slightly with a paper towel. Serve, pouring the sauce over the top, and then garnish with some black pepper.

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of July 16
July 16, 2009, 11:11 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I know, I know, I’ve been totally remiss: I haven’t posted in a week and I’m letting all four of you loyal readers down. (Hi guys!) I need to pull my life together, give my liver a rest, and tell you about this awesome tofu I made last week. Stop laughing, I’m serious. No, really, stop laughing.

At any rate, I’m back today, to canvass the food blogs so you don’t have to. Here are some highlights:

Soon you’ll be able to throw back some cocktails at the New York Public Library, though don’t you dare try to bring them inside. Ok, so it’s actually going to be a new “lounge” behind the library, but whatever, now you can leave your White-Russian-filled Nalgene at home. No? just me? (Kidding, kidding…)

If you like a good listicle, NY Mag covers the top twenty pizzas in NY – with surprise newcomer Kesté presiding at numero uno.

What will those crazy Momofuku-ers think of next? Late night cocktails at Ssam, and alcoholic slushies at Noodle Bar, apparently.

Frank Bruni bestows a measly one star on Graydon Carter’s Monkey Bar. Silly G-Dawg, you know you can’t “lose” the Brunster’s reservation and think nothing will come of it!

The Recession Special of all Recession Specials: $1 eats. 99 ¢ pizza and $1 oysters at various happy hours are not mentioned (Lure, Belcourt, and Dock’s feature them, to name a few), but it’s a good list nonetheless.

Keith Wallace starts swilling crappy Cabernets and gets angry about it: apparently, we’re all falling for inferior wines at exorbitant prices. Stick with Pinot Noirs.

SUSHISAMBA and Bar Artisanal are hosting cocktail competitions in the next few weeks. I’d totally enter SUSHISAMBA’s competition; too bad it’s being held on a Tuesday from 1 to 3pm, when I’ll be at work. They should have consulted with me beforehand. Thankfully, I can enter Bar Artisanal’s competition by submitting a recipe on Facebook. Any suggestions?

Wined and Dined also has a nice little write-up of all the restaurants that are twittering these days. Don’t look at me like that; you should follow them so you’ll hear all about their special deals.

It’s not too late to get your bargain-basement $20 ticket to Chelsea Wine Vault’s “Pink is the New White” tasting on Wednesday, July 22, featuring still and sparkling rosés. Delicious!

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of July 9
July 9, 2009, 7:51 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Yes, it’s true, I was away for a week, but I bet you were so busy stuffing yourself with hamburgers and beer and setting off fireworks that you probably didn’t even notice. But I’m back, canvassing the food blogs so you don’t have to. Here are some highlights:

Whitney Aycock is the new chef at veggie-friendly Counter, in the East Village, which Urban Daddy tells me is now featuring boozy popsicles. Yum.

The Brunster gives two stars to George Mendes’s Aldea, the chef’s ode to Portuguese cooking, which means you should now try to go but obviously you won’t get in. If you can, sit at the bar in front of the open kitchen – best seats in the house.

Hotly anticipated restaurant opening of the week: The Mott, on……Mott St., featuring….seasonal fare. You might think this sounds familiar, but you’d be mistaken: this isn’t your mother’s seasonal, this is “Soho Seasonal”. Oh, my.

If you haven’t been to Andrew Carmellini’s Locanda Verde, in the old Ago space, go now. The reviews have been pouring in and they’re all good. Restaurant Girl weighs in and gives the place 4 out of 5 stars.

Resto has just unveiled a summer of Beer Dinners, $65 for 3 courses and – obviously – beer. You know you want to join me for the Kegs and Eggs Saturday breakfast on September 19, right? Right?