A Sarcastic Appetite

Lebanese Lamb
November 30, 2009, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The greatest food holiday in the history of our country came and went and I have nothing to show you for it. I’m not entirely sure what happened. I gamely attempted to help my mother cook for 9 (ahem, the, um, cranberry relish was my doing, and also you can thank me later for baking picking up the sour cream apple walnut pie). Somehow, I suspect I became sidetracked by all the champagne and pie we had. I don’t know what happened, except I turned around and it was Monday, and I had paltry leftovers and no inclination to do anything with them.

I’m as patriotic as they come, but the last Thursday in November can be a little much sometimes, and I don’t think it’s wrong to want a little time away from Americana in the aftermath. So I consulted a cookbook I have on “street food,” and a Middle Eastern dish it was…or something like it, anyway. This recipe is supposed to top dainty little pizzas (you could make the dough yourself, or just buy some from your local pizza place), but all those mashed potatoes on Thursday had me looking sideways at overdoing it in the starch department. So I skipped the pizza part in favor of some roasted Brussels sprouts. You could also have it over a little wilted spinach. See? I’m basically a health nut.

Lebanese Lamb

Adapted from Street Food. Serves 4.

3 tbsp. olive oil

2 nice sized onions, diced

1 can of whole peeled plum tomatoes, finely chopped (but you don’t have to reserve the liquid)

1 lb. ground lamb

2 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. cardamom

1 heaping tbsp. tomato paste

2 heaping tbsp. pomegranate molasses

heaping 1/4 c. pine nuts

1/4 c. cilantro, chopped

1/4 c. parsley, chopped

Greek-style yogurt or tahini

lemon wedges

lots of salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large saute pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onions and saute for 6-7 minutes, until softened but not too brown. Add the ground lamb, lots of salt, and cook until it’s all brown, which may take close to ten minutes. Add all the spices, more salt and pepper, and then the tomatoes, tomato paste, and pomegranate molasses. Taste, and season as appropriate. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, then add the pine nuts, the cilantro, and parsley. Stir; add more salt and pepper as necessary. Serve with a heaping dollop of yogurt over wilted spinach, or with pita if you’re not one to have an agenda against carbs four days after Thanksgiving…in which case, I’d like to get to know you.

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of November 19
November 19, 2009, 7:30 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’m here to canvass the food blogs so you don’t have to. Here are some highlights this week:

Here is an awesome interview with Anthony Bourdain during a quick trip to Rochester, in the aftermath of Scripp Howard’s purchase of the Travel Channel. He’s just being his usual self….which means “aspiring arsonist” and “lighting director on a porn film” appear in the same sentence.

Steve Cuozzo gives a breathless 3 star review to A Voce at Columbus Circle, loving the pici with Brussels sprouts and the Mezzaluna filled with Taleggio (which is seriously good).

The menu at Mia Dona got a quiet makeover after Michael Psilakis left – and happily, it’s now very recession-friendly. Appetizers are all less than $10 and entrees are less than $20.

The Siftster gives 2 stars to Oceana, while down in Miami, blogger Frodnesor takes a gander through his previous reviews. After all, when the Siftster throws up turns of phrases like “a hunk of striped bass acting as pack animal for a load of sturgeon caviar…” well, we should just be thankful someone else has taken the time to give those words their due.

The Serious Eats crowd was no less than appalled by newcomer Lucy’s Cantina Royale. I have to say, I didn’t think the chicken quesadilla I had was that bad…but maybe the aggressive Michelada I was drinking had something to do with it.

I should hope you already know about this, but in the event it’s been a rough week for you: David Chang has come to midtown. Ma Pêche has officially opened in the Chambers Hotel, on 56th St. Zack Brooks goes wild, as does the rest of Midtown Manhattan – waits have been crazy, apparently. Get there early.

So Ryan Skeen (formerly of Resto and also of Irving Mill) wasn’t exactly being coy about how unhappy he was at Allen & Delancey, but word is he’s now officially gone.

Sea Scallops with Caramelized Onions
November 14, 2009, 11:25 am
Filed under: Uncategorized


This isn’t the ideal meal for those crazed weeknights, when you left work later than you thought, and you had more errands to run than you realized, and you get home and it’s after 8 and you need to eat and maybe you’re cranky now, too, to boot. (What? No? Just me?) The onions need to go for a solid hour, if not a bit longer, so they really melt down and soften. But it requires a little bit of white wine, which is always a bonus in my book, so plan accordingly: save it for that night when everything has come together smoothly, you’re home in time to watch Alex’s former mustache on “Jeopardy,” and you can throw back a glass or three while the onions cook. The scallops come together in about 10 minutes, sauce and all. I suppose you could forgo the caramelized onions, and serve this over some slightly wilted spinach, but then when are you going to have time to drink that wine?


Scallops with Caramelized Onions

Serves 2

1 enormous sweet onion, thinly sliced

about 1/2 stick of butter, divided

8 nice, big sea scallops (fresh ones smell like the ocean)

lots of salt and freshly ground pepper

1-2 cloves of garlic

scant 1/2 c. white wine, divided

2 tbsp. dijon mustard

a little bit of cream  (optional)

fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Take 2 tbsp. of butter and melt it in a big saute pan; add the onion and stir occasionally with some salt and pepper. Turn the heat down low and let it go for about an hour – keep stirring occasionally. Have some wine. About 45 minutes later, add about 1/4 c. of the wine to the onions; let it reduce. Take the scallops out and salt and pepper both sides. Heat the rest of the butter in another saute pan – but get it very, very hot first. Add the scallops – in batches if you need to, since you don’t want to crowd them too much – and cook for about 2 minutes a side. Don’t move them, and be sure the pan is stinking hot before you add them; otherwise, you won’t get those nice brown sear marks. Once the scallops are cooked, remove them to a plate, cover with foil and keep warm. Add a little more butter to the pan if you’re feeling edgy; add the garlic and saute for a minute or so. Take the pan off the heat and add the wine; let it reduce for a few minutes. Be sure to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan, too. Whisk in the mustard and cream, if using – you could also whisk in a little lemon juice too. Adjust for seasoning. Throw the scallops back in there and toss in the sauce. Serve over the onions; sprinkle with parsley.

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of November 12
November 12, 2009, 9:42 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Hey there kiddos, it’s me again, here to canvass the food blogs so you don’t have to. A few highlights:

Danny Meyer’s Maialino opened last night, and everyone’s all up in a ruckus about it. The name of the restaurant, you’ll recall, means “little pig” – and don’t kid yourself; the menu makes room for a suckling pig for 2.

Another restaurant opening, this time in the East Village, brings us the Mermaid Oyster Bar. Oh hooray, kids – now we have a new seafood joint in the hood! Wait a minute.

Down in Miami, Lee Klein takes issue with Mr. Chow in one of the more memorable restaurant review I’ve read in awhile. Granted, the restaurant in question isn’t in Manhattan – but its sister location is. And it’s certainly more entertaining than the Snoozing Sifter’s 1 star review of Le Relais de-Veniszzzzzzz. Speaking of Sifton, it seems he perked up a bit this week, laying down the law and only awarding 1 star to Charlie Palmer’s Aureole, in the new Bank of America building. I’d say read the review, if only to catch the money quote: “At every table someone’s either shouting or lap dancing his phone.” What?

In other news, the UES’s Etats-Unis has closed; Patty and Bun, a new burger joint in the West Village, sets up shop; and the UWS’s Dovetail expands (but not because the litle old lady living next door died).

And if you are looking for a new place to check out for a cocktail or three, apparently you need to try the new Yerba Buena Perry. I’m mostly interested in saying “Chupacabra” all night long…


Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
November 10, 2009, 11:31 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


They might not look that good, but they’re actually really awesome. I was moseying through Gristede’s and my wandering eye happened upon a bright orange bag of Reese’s peanut butter chips. Done and done. Occasionally things pan out this way: I spy one ingredient, then haphazardly try to remember everything else I will need to make whatever it is that I’ve decided in that moment to make. And I was successful this time! I guess that curry is working already? Once I got home, I poured myself a glass of wine and set about making them immediately.

Anyway, bake them for ten minutes or so, so they’re slightly underbaked and incredibly delicious. If you’re gluttonous, you might want to consider adding chocolate chips, too. I wish I had thought of that myself. And also thought to pick up some more wine – now I’m all out….

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Adapted from the recipe on the back of the bag; makes about 2 dozen.

2 c. flour

3/4 c. cocoa powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 sticks butter, softened

2 c. sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 10 oz. bags of Hershey’s peanut butter chips

Extra chocolate chips, if you so desire

Preheat oven to 350º. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and then vanilla; beat well. Beat in the flour mixture in batches. Stir in peanut butter chips and chocolate chips if you’re using them too. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased non-stick baking sheets; bake for about 10-11 minutes, until the tops are just set but they’re still a little underdone in the middle. Cool slightly, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of November 5
November 5, 2009, 8:41 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’m here to canvass the food blogs, so you don’t have to. Let’s take a gander at some of the highlights this week, shall we?


Here’s the round-up of early reviews from all the kids who got their panties in a twist over newly-opened The Breslin, in the Ace Hotel. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the place has Ken Friedman and April Bloomfield of celebritard hotspot The Spotted Pig running things.

Fatty Crab Uptown is now joining the ranks of restaurants with a beefed up happy hour: Fatty Sliders, spicy chicken wings, and steamed buns are now $5 and under, weekdays from 4 – 7pm and 10pm on, according to Grub Street.

The Siftser gallantly bestows a one spot on Le Relais de Venise de l’Entrecôte, not that we really care since no one has any intention of actually going. The best part? Even the New York Times is bored with his review – it’s still not posted in the Restaurant Review round-up on the Dining & Wine section’s homepage.

East Village staple Esperanto turns 10 – and to celebrate, they’re throwing a party on November 10. What’s this mean for you? Free drinks from 8 – 10pm, of course (and a party all night).

Ben Benson, meanwhile, extends his “Classic Steak House Dinner for Two” indefinitely. For $90, it’s not a bad deal at all.

Oh, and Eater continues to fine-tune the “Eater 38” – the 38 indispensable restaurants in New York right now. Topping the list, unsurprisingly, is Locanda Verde.

As a parting note: check out this video of David Letterman attempting to parse Guy Fieri’s choice adjectives. It’s money.