A Sarcastic Appetite


Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of October 28
October 28, 2010, 9:00 am
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I’m back this week to canvass the food blogs, so you don’t have to. A few highlights:

I’ve never been so excited to have a case of the Mondays: Blue Hill is starting “Menu Free Mondays,” every second Monday of the month, for $95. The five-course menu will feature items from that day’s harvest, and a wine pairing will run you an additional $55.

If you are a fan of the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck (and how could you not be?), then you won’t want to miss Doug’s Farewell Party this Friday, 7-9pm, around Destination Bar.

The Siftster checks out The Lambs Club, bestows it with a one spot, but recounts a terrible, horrible, no good very bad story from an acquaintance, who ordered a rare hamburger and received it well done. Yikes!

Danny at Food in Mouth checks out Donatella, but isn’t totally wowed by the pizzas. Ultimately, the place looks to be a little close to Co. for comfort.

In other news, Lowcountry replaces Bar Blanc Bistro with Southern-inspired fare like Fried Chicken Biscuits and a Kentucky Hot Brown. Apparently we’re to avoid overdone sugary dishes like the “Molasses Lacquered Chicken,” but luckily the “All Night Good Times” house special (PBR and a shot of bourbon for $6) doesn’t count.

For some funny commentary, check out the comments from what Eater’s dubbed “The Brooklyn Fare Affair,” when chef Cesar Ramirez reamed out writer Joshua David Stein for taking notes during dinner.



Molasses Gingerbread Cake
October 26, 2010, 9:53 pm
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Gingerbread is one of those typical fall things, the kind of warm cake you might have after a day spent apple picking, or going on a hayride, or carving pumpkins….or drinking seasonal beer, since this is New York and I don’t get out much. It still counts.

The emphasis here, though, is on “molasses” more than “gingerbread,” and if I were to make it again I’d swap 1/2 c. of the molasses for an equal amount of brown sugar. I’m thinking it would mellow the cake out a bit, make the flavor a bit rounder (and sweeter), and negate the need for sweetened whipped cream. Call me crazy, but I prefer the unadulterated stuff – but as it stands, though, the cake requires the sweetened whipped cream for a little balance. So play around with it, and let me know what you think. Whether or not you have it with seasonal beer is up to you.

Molasses Gingerbread Cake

Adapted from the Wednesday Chef, who got it from The Gift of Southern Cooking.

1 stick salted butter, plus more to butter the pan

1 c. water

2 c. cake flour

1/4 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

2 eggs

1 1/2  c. dark molasses

Whipped cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter an 8 inch pan. In a small pan, boil the water, then melt the stick of butter. Set aside and allow to cool slightly. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl; add the spices and whisk to blend. Whisk the butter mixture into the flour, then add the eggs one by one and whisk until blended. Bake about 40-45 minutes, until a tester comes out just clean. Allow to cool completely before serving; serve with whipped cream.



Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Cookies
October 13, 2010, 7:56 am
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I know, these probably look a little familiar. It also appears I’ve made no fewer than five six desserts for the blog that feature the holy combination of chocolate and peanut butter. I mean, who needs to reinvent the wheel? But I suppose my reader(s) would like to see something other than chocolate-peanut butter desserts and endless variations of mustard chicken. I guess it’s time to expand my repertoire a bit. Until then, though, here’s another doozy for you.

These feature peanut butter in the batter, which is a delicious departure for me but results in a more classic peanut butter cookie: a bit dry, and one that only gets drier as the days progress. So make these…and then eat them immediately. They’re delicious.

I underbaked them slightly and didn’t do the crosshatching on the dough; I liked them much better that way. They puffed up a bit and were nice and soft inside.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 20. From Sara Foster’s Fresh Every Day.

1 stick salted butter, softened

1 c. dark brown sugar

3/4 c. creamy peanut butter

1 large egg

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease two cookie sheets. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and peanut butter until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and egg until combined. Meanwhile, in a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir this into the butter mixture in thirds, stirring until the flour is no longer visible. Stir in the chocolate chips and drop onto a baking sheet, using an ice cream scoop, several inches apart. Bake, rotating about halfway through, about 14 minutes. Cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.



Turkey Chutney Burgers
October 2, 2010, 10:16 am
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When I first started cooking, I spent a lot of needless time winging things. “I can just pick up a few things and throw something together,” I’d think, and head to the store. Of course, this approach didn’t factor in my own indecisiveness, so halfway through picking up the ingredients for, say, pesto pasta, I’d find some beautiful eggplant, and suddenly dinner would be in serious jeopardy.

I thought I was quite clever about these things, but the Ninja always knew: he’d take a bite, chew it suspiciously, and then ask delicately, “Did you follow a recipe for this?”

In short, I finally realized I needed to get a better handle on the basics before I could start flinging pots and pans around the kitchen willy-nilly. That year I got Joy of Cooking for Christmas, and a whole winter of boring beef stews followed. The Ninja still hasn’t recovered.

Even the updated version is still straight out of the 50’s, but there are several gems I’ve come to rely on. Buried in the Poultry & Wildfowl section are these burgers, and they’ve become a favorite standby. I up the seasonings a bit – more cumin, coriander, and scallions are always in order, I figure. Quick to prepare, and delicious, their only downfall is that it uses up the mango chutney all too quickly. But maybe that’s a good thing.

Turkey Chutney Burgers

Serves 4. Adapted from Joy of Cooking.

1/2 c. mango chutney

2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 tbsp. lemon juice

1 lb. ground turkey

3 tbsp. mango chutney

3 scallions, minced

1 1/2 tsp. cumin

1 1/2 tsp. coriander

lots of salt and black pepper

2 tbsp. butter

4 slices red onion

4 slices pepper jack cheese

4 hamburger buns

In a small bowl, stir together the 1/2 c. chutney, Dijon, and lemon juice. Add a bit of salt and pepper; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the turkey, the 3 tbsp. chutney, scallions, cumin and coriander. Season with salt and pepper. Combine, but be careful not to over mix. Shape into four patties. Melt 1 tbsp. of the butter in a pan on medium-high heat; pan fry the patties, about 5 minutes on a side. Melt the other tbsp. of butter before flipping and pan frying the other side. In the last minute or two, melt the pepper jack over the patties.

Serve on buns with the chutney mixture and a slice of red onion.