A Sarcastic Appetite


A Simple Salad
August 31, 2009, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I used to make a salad every night for dinner. Every night. The dressing, too, not that it means much; it’s quite easy and worth the effort. But two years of the same salad can make you go all queasy inside, and so for awhile I was salad-less and staunchly on the wagon. (Not that wagon, of course.) Instead, I looked for other ways to get vegetables into our meals – sauteing greens, or roasting veggies in the oven while whatever meat cooked, or relying on the age-old stir fry for my dose of vitamin B.

But sometimes you just need a salad, and so it was the other day for me. It was hot out, I was tired, and I wanted something fresh and, well, cleansing. Ok, ok, fine, and I may or may not have over-indulged the previous evening on a beverage or several of fermented grape juice.  Regardless, I came across a little number on Orangette and was surprised by its switcheroo: the vinaigrette was made of lime juice, as opposed to the usual lemon. So deceptively simple – and so delicious. It was just the thing I needed. And now, it can be just the thing you need too.

salad

Romaine Salad with Lime-Garlic Dressing

Adapted, ever so minimally, from Orangette. Serves 2-3.

juice of 2 limes

1/4 c. nice olive oil

1 clove of garlic, minced

lots of salt and pepper

1 head of romaine, chopped into strips

1 pint or so of cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 a small red onion, sliced paper thin

1 avocado, diced

1/2 hunk of nice feta, diced or crumbled into bits

To make the dressing, juice the limes in a large bowl and add the garlic, salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil and continue until blended. Taste – adjust as you see fit. Then throw in the rest of the ingredients and toss with the vinaigrette; serve (with or without fermented grape juice).



Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Dried Cranberries
August 30, 2009, 11:54 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

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(Side note: new camera coming soon, I promise. In the meantime, I know it’s miserable. Bear with me.) The Nutritional Ninja requested some baked goods this weekend, and since I’ll be away for most of next week, I thought I’d humor him (just this once). So this morning I pulled myself together and tweaked a recipe I had read on Orangette oh, months ago and only just got around to making.

The original recipe, from Gourmet, called for apricots and pistachios, which I wanted no part of. (In my mind, now, pistachios are to be hoarded and used for this recipe, and this recipe only.) I wanted chocolate, and I wanted dried cranberries. I also wanted something I could throw together in an hour or so; I’ve got some tv to catch up on and these cookies couldn’t be getting in the way of that.

Well. They’ve got a lot going for them. An hour later, I’m finished and the kitchen’s [mostly] cleaned, and while they’re a far cry from the gooey coconut chocolate chip cookies I normally bake, they’re pretty good. They’re crispier, and as I went a little overboard with the add-ins, there’s very little in the way of actual batter holding them together. (Turns out not to be a bad thing.) They remind me of those oatmeal lace cookies I used to make when I was younger, albeit more substantial. And chocolate-y.

It’s also nice to have a recipe that only yields about 18 cookies as opposed to the usual 4 dozen – otherwise, they’re easy fodder for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (Not that I would ever make such a poor choice.) Oh, so now you want to know who took a bite out of the one in the photograph? Hmmph.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Dried Cranberries

Adapted from Gourmet, via Orangette. Makes about 18.

3/4 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 stick butter, at room temperature

3/4 c. dark brown sugar, packed

1/4 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 1/2 c. old fashioned rolled oats

1/2 c. dried cranberries

1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a baking sheet, or grease it with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugars with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the vanilla and the egg; beat well to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the mixture, beating at low speed until just combined. Fold in the oats, dried cranberries, and chocolate chips; stir to combine. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto the baking sheet, and bake until golden brown, about 15-16 minutes. Cool on a baking rack.



Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of August 27
August 27, 2009, 7:25 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Hello once again friends. I’ve been canvassing the food blogs this week so you don’t have to. A few highlights:

That kooky David Chang just won’t stop. Now you can get the Momofuku Milk to go. Eater’s even gone and done the hard work for you, putting two and two together: cereal milk….and cereal. Wowsers.

Now, occasionally I’ve found myself draped over a stool in a dive bar somewhere, pondering my next drink. And occasionally, through the haze of several beers and probably two orders too many of things like nachos muchos grandes and/or spinach and artichoke dip, I’ll have an epiphany and perk up. “The Brooklyn Local, please!” Or, “A Victory Prima Pils?” And then, more often than not, the bartender will look at me like I have three heads, announcing curtly that such a thing doesn’t exist – or not in his bar, anyway. Deflated, I’ll hunch back over my stool and order another Bud Light, swearing to try someplace new next time. It’s times like these I’d like to start a petitio—oh, wait, BeerPetitions.com is already way ahead of me. Phew.

And on that note, thankfully, finding a new place won’t be so hard this fall. Metromix has very kindly done the work for me, rounding up a list of new bars set to open in the coming months. Well color me tipsy.

New blog alert: this guy’s eating a slice at every single pizzeria in Manhattan. Ok, ok, I admit it, I’m curious. I love pizza almost as much as I love champagne, and we all know how I feel about champagne.

Didn’t think you could find shark fin soup in Manhattan? Well, you thought wrong. Alice Waters, come and get it!

Zagat has the 411 on Danny Meyer’s newest venture.He’s named it after himself – er, sort of. The digs are to be called Maialino, or “suckling pig,” since apparently that was ol’ Danny Boy’s nickname when he worked in Italy. Huh.

A sandwich for your next jaunt into Central Park (or, um, whatever park near where you live): the Tunisien, courtesy of the Atlantic. I’m into it, though I realize that’s not saying much; we all know there’s really very little I won’t eat.

Oh, and Brasserie has the most absurd recession-friendly menu yet: it’s free.



Spicy Peanut Noodles with Shrimp
August 24, 2009, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Ok kids, I’ve got a confession to make. You’ve probably already guessed it, but if you haven’t, well, you may need glasses. It seems I…ah…broke my camera a couple of weekends ago (I guess flinging it into the sand was a very poorly conceived idea) and have had to rely on the piddly camera in my BlackBerry to get the job done. And you know who that hurts? You, dear reader(s). Because the normally abysmal quality of photography on this site has, um, plummeted. In fact, I wasn’t sure such a thing were possible until I was rendered camera-less.

At any rate, I’m working on a replacement – and ideally it’ll have some kind of “setting” that will allow me to “photograph” “food”. So I’ll keep you posted on that front, and in the meantime, bear with me. And maybe crack open a beer or have a cocktail before you read any further, to ease things up a bit so you don’t do any kind of permanent damage to your eyes.

I haven’t been spending my usual Sunday mornings flipping through cookbooks, so cooking lately has been a little haphazard. Today, as usual, was no exception. But even though I forgot (unsurprisingly) a couple of things on the list, dinner came together quite nicely. It also happened fairly quickly. Unless my glass or three of Picpoul de Pinet was responsible for that?

It’s the usual roster of ingredients – some shrimp, some pasta (use regular spaghetti if you don’t have rice noodles – I won’t tell and it’ll still be good), some veggies and a quick sauce from natural peanut butter, limes, fish sauce, and a little heat. Toss it all together and you’re set. Now I’ve just got to go see about that Picpoul….

noodles

Spicy Peanut Noodles with Shrimp

Adapted from this recipe. Serves 3-4.

3 limes

1/2 c. natural peanut butter

1 tsp. sriracha, or to taste

2 tsp. nam pla (fish sauce)

About 1 lb. rice noodles, or spaghetti if that’s all you’ve got

2 tbsp. peanut oil, or other neutral-flavored oil

2 tbsp. minced garlic

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp

3-4 scallions, sliced thinly

about 1 c. grated carrots, or chopped finely if you don’t grate

1/2 c. chopped cilantro

lots of salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the noodles according to whatever directions you’ve got. In a small bowl, add the peanut butter. Zest one of the limes and add it, then add its juice, along with the fish sauce, the sriracha, and some pepper. Microwave it for ten or so seconds to soften it, and add a bit of water at a time, stirring, until you’ve got something with a vaguely sauce-like consistency.

Heat the oil in a pan; add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Add carrots and allow to soften slightly; then add the shrimp and some salt and cook, tossing every once in awhile, until they’re just pink, a few minutes or so. Add the scallions, cook the shrimp through a few minutes more, then add the cooked noodles and the sauce. Toss together to combine; serve with chopped cilantro on top and lime wedges.



Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of August 20
August 20, 2009, 3:34 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

 Here as usual to canvass the food blogs so you don’t have to. A couple of highlights:

You guys, I’m totally lobstered out. There’s Mermaid Inn’s blue plate special, and Macellaria’s weekend lobster deal, and then the NY Post gets all whiny about how much the restaurateurs are inflating the price of the bugs – and then Nino’s gets in on the action, halving the price of its famed Lobster Fra Diavola.

Eric Asimov tells you what you should already know: Italy’s got some great white wines, and we’re not talking about mass-produced crappy pinot grigios (though there are plenty of great pinot grigios out there!). Check out some of his recs.

Grub Street’s usual mid-week restaurant review round-up.  In case you were again living under a rock this week, The Brunz gives one last final star to The Redhead in the EV. (Go, if you haven’t already, and get the fried chicken. And the cocktails!)

For all you kids who love zeppoles and fried Oreos, well, now you don’t have to wait for the San Gennaro Festival each September – you know, that hallmark of moderation and good neighborly fun. Turns out the Italian Food Center is adding them to their offerings – permanently.

All of a sudden South Street Seaport never looked so good. Guess I’ll have to throw on a fanny pack and meander down there to see what all the fuss is about….

Ok, ok, so it’s not restaurant-related, but still hilarious nonetheless: you can now download a free iPhone app that lets you virtually grill your own bratwurst. Check it out at Serious Eats.

 



A Picnic in the Park
August 18, 2009, 6:51 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

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On Saturday my friend and I wandered into the north end of Central Park to spend an afternoon eating – while also staying cool, since everyone knows I’m cold-blooded and don’t do well in the heat. (I managed both swimmingly, thanks.) In preparation for the afternoon, I had been thinking about things that would pack well and would also be eaten easily – but were a (slight) step up from the usual fruit and cheese boards. Not that I have a problem with those, you know, but occasionally one must pay attention to the ravings of one’s doctor about why one’s cholesterol levels haven’t improved…

So I settled on the classic summertime combination of watermelon, feta, red onion and mint, and it worked nicely – even converting my friend, who claimed not to like watermelon. (Seriously? And I suppose you don’t like Saturdays either? Or Santa Claus?)

Anyway.

I didn’t consult a recipe, and if I can do it blind, then you can too. I just left a small red onion, thinly sliced, in a bath of red wine vinegar for a couple hours. Then I drained it, threw it in a bowl with about four cups of diced watermelon, most of a hunk of nice feta, chopped, and smothered it with chopped mint, salt, pepper, and a bit of balsamic vinegar. Delicious.

I made some sandwiches and mint iced tea with sliced lemons as well, nothing spectacular, but the highlight was really dessert: blueberry streusel muffins. I had managed to screw up the streusel part (I know, I know there are only three ingredients) and they were so incredibly buttery and delicious and…Oh. I hope my doctor doesn’t read this.

IMG_3430

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Adapted from this recipe, but don’t worry friends – the correct amount of butter required for the streusel is listed here. Makes about 24.

Streusel Topping
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. brown sugar (light if you have it, but the world doesn’t end if you only have dark)
1/2 stick butter, softened just slightly and cut into tiny pieces

Muffins
2 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. half-and-half
3 c. (1 1/2 pints) fresh blueberries, stems removed

For the streusel: in a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Add the 1/2 stick of butter and combine the mixture with a fork until the topping resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place paper liners in muffin pans. In a separate medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in one egg in at a time, then add vanilla and half-and-half until combined. Add 1/3 of dry ingredients at a time and beat until just combined. With a spatula, evenly fold blueberries into batter.

Scoop batter into muffin pans and fill each cup about 3/4 full – don’t go to the top or they’ll spill over the sides. Sprinkle topping evenly over batter. Bake for 30ish minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.



Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of August 13
August 13, 2009, 9:26 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Hey kiddies, it’s me again, here to canvass the foodblogs so you don’t have to. A few highlights:

TONY rounds up all the restaurant reviews this week; in a shocking twist, the Brunster gives four stars to Danny Meyer’s Eleven Madison Park where before there were only three! Also, in case you were wondering, Eater rounds up the six four-spots Bruni’s bestowed during his tenure at the NY Times; gosh it’s lonely at the top.

Pete Wells gets all hot and flustered over Brooklyn Brewery’s newest beer in the works that features – you guessed it – bacon, and mulls over the fact that odds are the kids at Brooklyn Bowl will be hearing about it first. This obviously means you should check it out over there – it’s amazing.

If you were me, you read the rumor that David Chang was bringing his Momofuku empire to Midtown in a matter of weeks and imagined yourself collapsing into a pool of pork buns. (So dreamy.) To be sure, it was a rumor, yes, but one that turned out to be true. The only problem? I’ll actually need to stay at the Chambers Hotel and dial up Tien Ho for some room service; the restaurant won’t begin full service until later in the fall.

Ruh-roh: my favorite bar in New York that I haven’t even been to yet got knocked around at a Noisy Bars meeting on 13th Street. Guess I better get there sooner rather than later…

A quick list from the NY Times of what’s set to open, both now and in the coming weeks and months.



Winter in Summer
August 11, 2009, 9:01 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I think there’s something terribly wrong with me.

On the hottest, stickiest day of the summer, when I have no plans after work and therefore all the time in the world to work up something scrumptious for dinner that doesn’t involve an oven – maybe a bright, cold soup full of healthful antioxidants that I’ll promptly cancel out with my glass or two of pinot blanc  – I instead fire up the gas stove. To make pasta. Hot pasta. With – wait for it – Brussels sprouts. Now, I have high (and hot) hopes, since Molly of Orangette fame made them and loved them – but notice the date: she made them in November. You know, around Thanksgiving.

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I adore Brussels sprouts; they make frequent appearances in my kitchen from about October all the way through March or April. If you don’t like them, you should get in touch – I saute them in butter and lots of salt and pepper until they’re browned, caramelized a bit, and they’re crunchy and nutty and delicious. They’re nothing like those overcooked, mealy specimens with which you might be all too familiar.

But it’s almost mid-August, about as far from a cold night in January as one could possibly get. And yet – it was really delicious, a happy product of its own simplicity; the most time consuming part was boiling the water. When I can throw together a really good dinner in fifteen minutes, I’m delighted – and you should be too, since I can be, um, a tad cranky and unpleasant otherwise…

I guess it was a little taste of winter in the dead heat of summer – and in that I think it did just the trick.

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Fettuccine with Brussels Sprouts and Pignolis

Adapted from Gourmet, via Orangette; serves 4

about 3/4 lb. Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed

scant 1/4 c. pignolis (pine nuts), toasted

1/2 lb. fettuccine or other long, thicker pasta

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. butter

lots of salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tbsp. heavy cream, or half-and-half

heaping handful of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, to serve

Boil a pot of heavily salted water; add the pasta and cool until al dente.

Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts if you haven’t already; heat them in a skillet, tossing frequently, until they are slightly browned and you can smell their nuttiness. Set aside in a bowl. Using the shredder disk in your Cuisinart, shred the Brussels sprouts.

Heat your pan to medium heat; melt the olive oil and butter before adding the Brussels sprouts, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes, until the sprouts are cooked but still vibrantly green. Once the pasta has cooked, add it to the pan, along with about 1/4 c. of the cooking water. Add the heavy cream; continue to saute, adding more salt and pepper to taste, then add the pignolis. Toss, and serve with lots of freshly grated cheese on top.



Rocky-Road-ish Brownies
August 10, 2009, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

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In the latest installment of Adventures in Lazy Cooking, I was home on a weeknight last week, looking to bake something but lacking brown sugar. Others among you might have stepped out to the Gristede’s that’s all of a block away, but not I, friends. Not I.

Instead, I pored through the dessert sections of about four different cookbooks, looking for something that was low maintenance and did not require the missing pantry staple noted above. Such a recipe was harder to find than you might think….until at last, good old Silver Palette pulled through with a doozy: brownies. Done.

Since my baking philosophy is apparently something along the lines of “More is more and even more is even better,” I added walnuts, chocolate chips, and sweetened shredded coconut to the batter. (But not marshmallows, hence the “ish” part.) Raisins would also be good here if you like them, or you could also, uh, take it down a notch and add only one or two things, or none at all. I would also recommend baking it in a smaller pan for bigger, fudgier brownies – mine were a little thin and paltry for my taste. Just let them go a little longer and keep checking until they are just set in the center.

Rocky-Road-ish Brownies

Adapted from The Silver Palette. Makes about 15-18 large brownies.

2 sticks butter

4 oz. unsweetened chocolate (I didn’t have any, used semi-sweet and – gasp – reduced the sugar by about 1/4 c.)

4 eggs

1 1/2 c. sugar (or about 1 1/4 c. if you are using sweeter chocolate)

3/4 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. vanilla extract

scant 1 /2 c. shelled walnuts, chopped

heaping 1/2 c. shredded sweetened coconut

heaping 1 /2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Melt the butter and chocolate on very low heat in a saucepan, stirring constantly, or in the top part of a double boiler over simmering water if you have one. Once melted, set it aside to cool at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350º. Grease a 9 x 13″ baking dish, or something thereabouts. Beat the eggs and sugar until thick and lemon-colored. Add the vanilla. Fold the chocolate mixture in, and then sift the flour in and stir it well. Fold in the nuts, coconut, and chocolate.

Pour into the greased pan and bake about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out not quite clean – you definitely don’t want to overbake. Let them cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting.



Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of August 6
August 6, 2009, 7:26 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Need I even write it? You know the drill: I’m here on Thursdays to canvass the foodblogs so you don’t have to. Here are some highlights:

In case you spent yesterday burrowed under a rock, the New York Times named Sam Sifton the new Restaurant Critic; Grub Street pulls together all the important details (like recent headshots!) just for you.

Hearth has been hosting some delicious Pig Roasts, and if the comments on Serious Eats are any indication, it’s a pretty good show they’ve got going on over there. It’ll set you back $42 per person, with an $18 optional wine or beer pairing, and they’ve added a couple extra dates due to the high demand. The next one is August 12; book now!

Scuderia now delivers…provided you live or work within the, ahem, narrowly defined delivery area. I, unfortunately, do not – but if you do, let me know. I travel very well, and I hear they do a decent pie….

Boqueria is celebrating its third anniversary like a good little recession-friendly restaurant these days: by giving you a free dish on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. More details here.

If you’re staying in and around the city this weekend, and are in search of an adventurous meal, take a page from the book blog of the Taxi Gourmet.

And lastly (but not leastly), don’t forget about Midtown Lunch’s Twitter Tracker!