A Sarcastic Appetite

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of February 25
February 25, 2010, 7:10 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

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

My summer plans are now complete: I’ll be spending it on a rooftop, somewhere, drinking delectable beers in an old world Italian craft brewery, the brain child of none other than Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich.

Gael Greene checks in on Faustina, the new place from Scott Conant in the Cooper Square Hotel, and loves it.

The Siftster, meanwhile, heads out to Bay Ridge to give Tanoreen a one-spot. He adores the “ethereal hummus” and “crazily flavorful tabouleh.” Why do I have the feeling that he’s just reviewing his favorite haunts, outer borough by outer borough…?

Luke’s Lobster adds clam chowder and grilled lobster tails to the menu – $15 for 3 halves, which seems like a pretty good deal – as long as you’re a traitor, and will eat your Maine lobster any other way than steamed.

Fatty Crab’s UWS outpost turns 1 next Wednesday…so obviously an all-you-can-drink-fest is in order. Find out more here.

TastingTable sends word of paella powerhouse Socarrat’s expansion: it’s opened Bar De Vinos next door, to serve (you guessed it) wine and small plates.

Chana Masala
February 22, 2010, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Yet another gem from Smitten Kitchen, and another one for your repertoire. It only takes about 30 minutes to throw together, and that’s assuming you’re taking your time. It’s vegetarian, and it’s incredibly cheap (as long as you’ve already got the spices). And man, was it spicy – in the best way possible, of course. The leftovers also reheat really well; I ate it for lunch the next week, over wilted spinach. And dinner another night, and then lunch again….Have it with lots of storebought naan, brushed with olive oil and heated for a few minutes in a 350ºF oven.

I made a few additional adaptations to the recipe, of course, and all in the name of laziness: I couldn’t find any fresh jalapenos (which is completely outrageous, I know, but what can I say? I was in the Food Emporium on Madison and apparently they’re considered too “ethnic” for the clientele). So I substituted 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, which gave the chana masala a nice little kick in the pants. I also added even more tomatoes and simplified the spice mixture a bit, since I couldn’t be bothered to toast and ground whole cumin seeds. So do with this what you will.

Sidenote: it’s my 100th post here on A Sarcastic Appetite! Congratulations to me! I should probably celebrate. Now what did I do with my corkscrew…

Chana Masala

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from here.

2 tbsp. butter
1 large onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp. fresh ginger, chopped
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ground turmeric
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garam masala
1 26 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes with their juices, chopped small
2/3 cup water
2 15 oz. cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 lemon, juiced

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add  the onion, garlic, ginger and crushed red pepper and sauté until everything is softened and fragrant, almost 10 minutes. Turn the heat down a bit and add the coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, paprika and garam masala. If your mixture seems dry, as mine did, melt a bit more butter in there. Cook for several more minutes, then add the tomatoes and their juices, being sure to scrape any browned bits off th bottom of the pan. Add the chickpeas and the water; simmer for  about 10 minutes, then stir in salt and lemon juice. Serve over spinach; have plenty of naan on hand.

Eat up or put a lid on it and reheat it when needed. Curries such as this reheat very well, later or or in the days that follow, should it last that long.

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of February 18
February 18, 2010, 8:10 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Country will soon become Millesime.

The Siftser reviews Motorino, deems it the best pizza in the city….yet only gives it a one spot. Somehow this doesn’t seem good enough.

Hearth unveils a new menu for Sunday suppers. $39 gets you a prix fixe of homestyle cooking – spaghetti and meatballs, eggplant parm, meat ragu….

And boom: Ma Pêche may open as early as March 17.

The early word on Faustina: it’s good.

Restaurant Girl’s got a write-up of some out of the ordinary bar food. Not that I’d call poutine “finger food,” but, you know, I’m not one to judge….

Off the Menu at the Times: Tre Otto opens in Carnegie Hill; Vento is becoming a Dos Caminos; and Danny Meyer opens Sandwiched, a temporary cafe at the Whitney, to be replaced by a bona fide restaurant in the fall.

Walnut Cake with Jam and Whipped Cream
February 15, 2010, 4:33 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

[Ed: I may be feeling horrifiically ill today, but that doesn’t stop me from blogging publishing a draft of something I wrote last week. Ta-da!]

Everyone goes on about crumb cakes and everyday cakes and busy day cakes and I woke up one morning and realized I had none in my repertoire. Well – that’s not entirely true. I actually woke up and saw this posted on Smitten Kitchen. There went Deb again, reading my mind with recipes that require one bowl and some jam and whipped cream for the topping. A lazy man’s cake! Now that sounds delicious.

I baked this in a 9″ pan, since I don’t own an 8″ pan, and the resulting cake looked a little paltry. So paltry, in fact, that I cut it in half and made it into a two-layer cake, with jam between the layers and on top again. Turns out that wasn’t necessary, and I should have just kept it as a thin 9″ cake, smeared with jam and heaps of whipped cream. The double decker version is a little inappropriate. Not that it stopped me from devouring a sizeable slice…or, um, four.

Walnut Cake with Jam and Whipped Cream

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, where it was adapted from Gourmet. Makes one 8″ cake.

For the cake:

1 1/4 c. walnuts, toasted in a baking pan for 10 minutes in a 350ºF oven and allowed to cool

2/3 c. sugar

1 stick salted butter

4 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

For the topping:

About 1/2 c. strawberry jam, or raspberry jam, whisked with 1 tsp. lemon juice

About 2/3 c. whipping cream, whipped with 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract and 1 tsp. sugar, until soft peaks form. (Or follow Deb’s recipe for the tangy sour cream-whipped cream. I prefer the original.)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour an 8″ cake pan. Pulse the cooled walnuts and sugar in your food processor until ground evenly. Add the eggs and vanilla; pulse until combined. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt until just combined; pour into the pan and bake until just done, about 30-35 minutes for an 8″ pan, and more like 28 minutes for a 9″ pan. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a cooling rack and cool completely. Cover with preserves, then top with heaps of whipped cream.

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of February 11
February 11, 2010, 9:22 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

The usual: I’m here to canvas the food blogs so you don’t have to. Some highlights this week:

Marcus Samuelsson (of Aquavit) is planning a restaurant in Harlem called Red Rooster, which he confirmed on Tuesday.

Eater NY’s got a handy-dandy map of Michael Bao’s ever increasing expansion, so now you’ll know exactly where to go the next time you need a banh mi fix.

The Siftster tries to pull a fast one on us, reviewing Gramercy’s Novita (which, ahem, opened in 1994) and giving it two stars. This is supposed to be a “testament to the strength of [New York’s] restaurant scene.” I suspect someone’s a little worn out from trekking out to Flushing again and wanted to review something a little closer to home.

Mona of Mona’s Apple and Danyelle of Restaurant Girl both weigh in on Choptank – with very different opinions. Danyelle gives it three stars, while Mona was underwhelmed. Guess there’s just one way to settle it. Meet you at the bar in twenty?

The boys at Immaculate Infatuation rave about Sorella, which has been on my list since it first opened. (And not to be confused with Sora Lella, of course.) If you go, just don’t take up too much space at the bar; I’ll need ample elbow room to get after that agnolotti.

Easy Chicken Masala
February 7, 2010, 10:38 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

If I’ve planned accordingly, I love a dinner that I can throw together the night before and leave to marinate, thereby cutting the actual cooking time in half (at least). So of course I liked this “Easy Chicken Masala” recipe, courtesy of Bon Appétit, since it was actually absurdly easy; not only was the marinade a piece of cake to put together, but roasting the chicken the next night took all of three steps, one of which included preheating the oven.  My one tiny, tiny comment is that while the meat was flavorful and moist, it still needed a sauce. (I love me some condiments.) I didn’t have a cucumber, otherwise I would have used the rest of the yogurt to make some raita – maybe something along the lines of this little number. So keep that in mind if you like your sauces, too.

Easy Chicken Masala

Adapted from this Bon Appétit recipe. Serves 4-ish.

1 1/2 c. whole-milk yogurt

about 1/2 c. chopped cilantro

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. garam masala

2 tsp. salt

2 garlic cloves, minced

zest of a lemon

lots of black pepper

1 4 lb. chicken – have the butcher cut it into 6-8 evenly sized pieces and remove the backbone. Alternatively, you could buy a bunch of bone-in breasts.

2 onions, thickly sliced

Mix the yogurt, cilantro, olive oil, garam masala, salt, garlic, lemon zest and pepper in a small bowl. Put the chicken pieces in one layer in a big 13 x 9″ baking dish; pour the marinade over, flip the pieces so they’re evenly coated, then cover with plastic wrap and leave overnight (or for at least 2 hours). Flip the pieces again and nestle them in the marinade if you can remember. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Slice the onions and throw onto a large, rimmed baking sheet (like a cookie sheet). Toss with a bit of olive oil and salt. Add the chicken pieces one by one to the bed of onion slices; discard the remaining marinade. The recipe says to roast for about an hour, but mine were cooked through after about 45 minutes (after coming to room temperature beforehand), so check the chicken carefully – especially the breasts, which you definitely don’t want dry and overcooked. Serve with cucumber raita, if you’ve made it, and flatbread.

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of February 4
February 4, 2010, 8:45 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

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

The boys at Immaculate Infatuation lay down the law, and say what everyone else (except the Siftster) is afraid to: the food at The Breslin is absurdly fatty and unhealthy to the point that it’s not enjoyable, and the hype is overkill.

Speaking of the Siftster, there’ll be no need to get your panties in a twist about whether he’s given a goose egg or a one spot this week – his write-up this round is on Vancouver’s good eats.

Five Napkin Burger UWS opened Monday; check out the menu here. And because the UWS doesn’t have enough good restaurants, there’s also word of a new tapas place called Graffit that’s slated to open, brought to you by this guy.

Cheryl of A Tiger in the Kitchen checks out Colicchio & Sons, in a revamped Craftsteak, and isn’t overwhelmed.

The rakish (yeah, I wrote that) Scott Conant debuts Faustina on Friday in the old Table 8 space. It’s been open for about a week for friends and family dinners, but starting tomorrow the peons can get something to eat, too.

Rachael Ray weighs in on the best pizza places in America, and Motorino wins. (It’s ok, Adam Kuban and Ed Levine were actually the ones picking the winners, so we don’t have to throw the results out.)

Clean-Out-the-Fridge Thai Peanut Chicken Salad
February 1, 2010, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Sometimes, you need a recipe that cleans out the fridge, using up whatever random veggies you have left before they go bad. I hear some more enterprising cooks meticulously plan what they’ll make for the week, thereby negating the need for any clean-out-your-fridge recipe in the first place. I am not said enterprising cook. All I’ve got is a recipe for peanut dressing, and let’s be honest: a good peanut dressing would make an old shoe taste pretty good. (Or at least good enough, anyway.) But do with this what you will;  the shredder of your Cuisinart makes quick work of the veggies, and the bulk of your time will be spent doctoring the dressing to your taste. If you don’t have red cabbage or radishes, you could add cucumbers, or red peppers, or snow peas, or…well, you get the idea.

Thai Peanut Chicken Salad

Serves 2-3.

For the salad:

2 cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed

1 heaping c. shredded red cabbage

1 large carrot, shredded

3 radishes, shredded

2-3 scallions, chopped

about 1/2 c. sugar snap peas, chopped in half

heaping 1/4 c. peanuts, toasted

about 1/4 c. cilantro, chopped

For the dressing:

3 tbsp. regular peanut butter

3 tbsp. canola oil

2 1/2 tbsp. soy sauce

2 tbsp. rice vinegar

1 garlic clove, minced

juice of 1/2 a lime

1 tsp. sriracha (or more, to taste)

pinch of sugar

pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

a few drops of fish sauce

about 2 tbsp. of water, or more to get desired consistency

lots of salt and black pepper

For the salad, throw everything in a bowl. For the dressing, whisk everything together; keep tasting it and doctor as needed. Toss the dressing with the salad. What, you need a road map or something?