A Sarcastic Appetite

Pies ‘N’ Thighs
December 19, 2010, 1:42 pm
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Yesterday my little brother and I braved the cold – and the immense crowds – to hit up Pies ‘n’ Thighs at the Columbus Circle Holiday Market. I was prepared for the masses of slow-moving people, double-wide strollers, and annoying tourists, but even so my patience was sorely tried. The upshot was a trip to Columbus Circle required far less effort than a trip to South Williamsburg, home of the original Pies ‘n’ Thighs location.

The reward? A chicken biscuit and a ham biscuit, both incredibly delicious and worth the 15 minute wait (they make them to order), the crowds (it was the last Saturday before Christmas), and the cold (I forgot to wear socks).

First up we have the ham biscuit. My phone should give you a sense of size: they are substantial, but not enormous. The biscuit is slathered with a heavenly maple butter, which I would like to wear, but that would be inappropriate, and a bit of mustard. Two slices of thick ham, a slice of apple, some kale, and a hunk of cheddar. This thing was delicious, and so well-made that you could taste all the pieces in every bite. And because they, too, are made to order, they all look exactly alike.  Of course I wanted the biscuit to be twice the size it was, but then again, we had one more to take down:

…the famous chicken biscuit! As noted, don’t feel let down by the hot sauce, which doesn’t pack some serious heat. The biscuit gets that same delicious maple butter sauce, and the overall effect is much more pared down and simple. The little brother felt this needed some blue cheese and some kind of vegetable component, but I think I disagree. It was just – and I can’t believe I’m about to write this of a fried chicken sandwich – more subtle. You need to wait and taste the butter sliding in there under the sauce and the chicken. It’s a magical combination.

I froze my poor toes but it was well worth the wait and the cold. I was able to finish both with only a minor stomachache for the rest of the afternoon, which counts as a win-win in my book. Afterward, we grabbed some hot cider and bolted – though I must say, just writing this makes me want to go down there and have it all over again. The Columbus Circle Holiday Market is open every day until Christmas Eve, from 10am to 8pm. Get there before it’s too late!

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of December 16
December 16, 2010, 8:00 am
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I’m here to canvass the food blogs, so you don’t have to. Some highlights this week:

The Siftster visits Kin Shop, Harold Dieterle’s ode to Thai cooking, and also gets all hot and bothered over the ruby-red roasted duck breast that the Immaculate Infatuation boys freaked out over. Kin Shop gets two stars and a mild caveat: “Grilled river prawns with fresh lime and a Phuket-style black pepper sauce lacks pow: it tastes of hotel cooking and evokes mild depression.”

Meanwhile, the Immaculate Infatuation boys duck into Lupa, which gets major points for having solid stuff like Spaghetti alla Carbonara (with crispy pork jowl) and the Bavette Cacio & Pepe (provided you like black pepper). Dylan Prime, on the other hand, gets a nod for being the most non-steakhouse…steakhouse. Order the Carpetbagger Steak. Just do it.

Oh Sweet Baby Ray: Danny at Food in Mouth checks out the Chicken Biscuit from Pies ‘N Thighs with some pictures that kind of make me drool. He’s not sold on the $6 price tag, but let me tell you: I am, and will be forking it over on Saturday if and when I finally make it over to the Columbus Circle Holiday Market.

As if that weren’t enough, NY Mag also posted its 35 Top Pork Dishes in New York. I want every one. You try flipping through Every. Single. Slide. without doing the same thing!

Nate Appleman, “rising star,” lands at…Chipotle.

Chowhounders give two very enthusiastic thumbs up to the burgers at under-the-radar East Village spot Brindle Room.

And lastly, if you want to eat at Del Posto and there are 4 of you, well, you’ll need to go ahead and download a credit receipt and fax it back to the restaurant. ….Yeah.

Raspberry Streusel Bars
December 14, 2010, 10:06 pm
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I spent Sunday morning flipping through cookbooks again, hellbent on finding a recipe for which I already had everything I needed. I wanted something mildly breakfast-y – or at least something I could vaguely justify eating all day long. This is really none of those things; I had to run out to get the butter, sugar, and the jam – and because it contains so much butter, sugar, and jam. (Not that it has stopped me from stealing bites every chance I get.) It reminds me of those Pepperidge Farm cookies – remember those? The sandwich cookies with jam in the middle and powdered sugar on top?  They were always far too dry and crunchy for my liking, not that it ever stopped me from downing 4 at a time. These are softer and slightly chewier. I am a fan.

Actually, the Ninja and I are both avid fans, as evidenced by the photo above. I have only myself to blame for the bizarre swath of sugary destruction I cut out of the pan. (The middle is always the best part!)

If I made these again, I’d slather even more raspberry jam on top – and I went overboard as it was. I’d also swap out the sugar in the streusel topping for brown sugar, since brown sugar makes everything better.

Raspberry Streusel Bars

From Joy of Cooking. Makes 20 bars…so they say.

For the shortbread:

2 c. all purpose flour

1/4 c. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/2 sticks cold butter, cut into small pieces

3 tbsp. milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375º and butter a 13″ x 9″ baking dish. Pulse the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix the milk and vanilla in a small dish and add to the flour mixture, bit by bit, until the dough starts to hold together. Press the dough into the baking pan, evenly. Bake about 12 minutes, until just firm in the center. Put on a cooling rack but leave the oven on.

For the topping:

1 1/2 c. seedless raspberry jam

1 3/4 c. flour

2/3 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 stick cold butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats

1 large egg

2 tbsp. milk

Once you take the shortbread out of the oven, slather the jam over the still-hot crust. Meanwhile, pulse the flour, sugar, cinnamon and butter in a food processor until it’s blended. Turn out into a small bowl and add the oats. Mix the milk and egg together and beat lightly. Add that to the flour mixture and blend until the streusel is moistened and forms small crumbs. Scatter these crumbs across the raspberry jam, spreading evenly. Bake another 25ish minutes, until the raspberry jam is bubbling and the streusel is lightly browned. Cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Thai Chicken and Coconut Soup
December 12, 2010, 9:58 pm
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I haven’t written much about the Ninja here beyond his occasional dinner requests or snarky comments, and I’m not sure why – maybe out of some perverse desire to respect his privacy?

Well, that’s all over. From here on out, I’ll be sharing some of his other predilections, which lately have been downright bizarre.

For example, the other night I came home to find the apartment smelling like a pothead’s dirty laundry. Horrified, I threw open the windows and lit every scented candle I own. It only barely masked the smell….of sage leaves, which the Ninja had apparently been burning in an effort to “ward off bad spirits.” This is, of course, in addition to his weekly crude oil scalp treatments, which make the apartment smell like a gas station and are supposed to ward off baldness. In six months. Possibly.

Am I an unknowing extra in a dodgy remake of The Craft? Or is the Ninja merely acting out the prequel to that one Seinfeld episode when George gets a toupee? Maybe it’s some cruel combination of the two: a terrifying possibility.

He claims he’s just healthier than I am. I claim he’s just nuts. Either way, the battle lines have been drawn. He burns the sage leaves early enough in the day and I pretend not to notice when I get home, and I vacate the apartment on Tuesday nights to avoid any scent of Eau de Fuselage. I also throw away things he would otherwise recycle and buy non-organic food just often enough to annoy him. It’s an arrangement that I think really works, until I get thrown a curve ball: Crude Oil night has suddenly, inexplicably, unfairly, rudely been moved to Sunday nights. Now what?

I figured I had only one option: to cook a bunch of fragrant, aromatic stuff and hope for the best. This chicken and coconut soup fits the bill, and it’s very easy to put together. I probably should have let it simmer all evening to provide a coconut-y buffer to what’s about to happen around here – but then again, we’ve got to eat. This time next week, maybe I’ll make a ragù…or better yet, some kind of delicious bean soup. (The Ninja hates beans.) It’ll be perfect!

Thai Chicken & Coconut Soup

Adapted from Joy of Cooking. Serves 4.

3 c. chicken stock

2 2/3 c. coconut milk (about 1 1/2 14 oz. cans)

3 Jalapeño peppers or 2 Thai peppers, mostly seeded and sliced thinly (or completely seeded if you don’t want it spicy)

3 tbsp. fish sauce

3 tbsp. soy sauce

1 tbsp. minced ginger

1 tbsp. minced lemongrass

2 tsp. curry powder

1/8 tsp. salt

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced

juice of 1/2 a lime

chopped cilantro for garnish


Bring the chicken stock and coconut milk to a boil in a big pot. Reduce the heat; add the Jalapeños, fish sauce, soy sauce, ginger, curry powder, lemongrass, and salt. Simmer for about 10 minutes; taste and correct seasoning as needed. Add the sliced chicken and the lime juice and simmer for an additional 5 or so minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Serve over rice and throw some chopped cilantro on there….or not, if you’re like I am and forgot about it. Again.

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of December 3
December 3, 2010, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

A day late and a dollar short? Whatever, consider this your weekend to-do list.

The James Beard Foundation’s Greens is hosting its annual holiday party this Sunday, December 5, from 6:30 to 8:30pm. Tickets are $85 and get you tasting portions from noshing notables like Luke’s Lobster, The Redhead, and The Meatball Shop.

Danny at Food in Mouth samples the roti wraps from Rhong Tiam Express (get the chicken lemongrass), while Restaurant Girl has a not-so-recent-but-still-key list of new-ish wine bars, including under-the-radar Bar Henry and organic UES offering V-Note.

The Siftster is not overwhelmed with Osteria Morini…when Michael White’s not in the kitchen, anyway. The place gets one star, and a caveat: “When Mr. White was present at Morini this fall, the restaurant hummed. On nights when he was not, trouble could ensue.”

Eater has the early word on Michael Psilakis’ Fish Tag, which (for now, anyway) has Chef Ryan Skeen at the helm. Reviews seem to be mostly favorable; let’s hope they keep it up.

The Immaculate Infatuation boys weigh in on Burger & Barrel and give it two very enthusiastic thumbs up. Order the Bash Style Burger…and the White Truffle Burger, which according to Wined & Dined blows all other burgers out of the water. Proceed at your own risk – and fork over $45.

NYC Foodie checks out perennial favorite Sushi Seki and is blown away – and to be fair, $60 for Omakase sounds pretty good to me too.