A Sarcastic Appetite

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of February 24
February 24, 2011, 7:51 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’m here to canvass the food blogs so you don’t have to, except for last week when I totally didn’t. Some highlights this week:


The Siftster waxes poetic about Ai Fiori – the atmosphere is “more in line with the bland veneers of American corporate culture” but the food is three stars’ worth of sublime. And with a $79 four course prix fixe, it might be doable for the rest of us minions. The soft-poached egg with sweetbreads, lobster knuckles, black truffle and tarragon intrigues me, though the “lobster knuckles” part is completely outrageous!

The boys at Immaculate Infatuation take a Hot Tub Time Machine back to circa 2003, when they were just steppin’ onto the scene, to revisit some of their favorite spots. Many of these places no longer exist, though it’s really only a damn shame in the case of Florent.

I’m not sure if I’ve really documented it here, but I really  love sandwiches. Love. So when Restaurant Girl does a Top 5 Tortas, and Serious Eats does – wait for it – their Favorite Sandwiches Under $6 AND Favorite Breakfast Sandwiches, it’s like all the stars have aligned. Now I’m just waiting for the Cookie Monster to appear with a truckload of cookies, one of the few things I love more than sandwiches. Fingers crossed!

Danny at Food in Mouth took a look at the DOH grades for NYC’s restaurants. Gleefully, he reports that Chinese food “has the lowest percentage of A’s” compared to other cuisines. Interestingly enough, The Consumerist just reported that the city is mulling whether to add bar codes to the grades, so we could scan them with our phones and find out more about the grade itself.

Time Out New York gets all hot and bothered for spring, taking a look at 11 bar and restaurants slated to open in warmer weather. Among them: the hotly, hotly anticipated Beer Garden at Eataly, which will feature brews from Dogfish Head.



Indonesian Ginger Chicken
February 23, 2011, 7:59 am
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I think it was amidst the frenzy of the new year, that time when we all Vow to Make Resolutions We’ll Break Before February, that I decided I’d become a far more organized cook. No more dashing around after work each night, picking up one ingredient from this shop and three more from another store, only to head home and realize I’d forgotten the key ingredient. Harried shopping can equal harried cooking for me and I had had enough.

I vowed – no, Vowed – to start planning ahead to the point of choosing recipes that could marinate overnight. If I’m already in the kitchen cooking dinner, why surely it’s no problem for me to throw a few extra things together that can have a slumber party in the fridge. I love slumber parties!

So one night I made this chicken recipe, one my mother swears by because it’s so embarrassingly easy – both to do ahead and to make. The flavor really does seep into the chicken, even if you take the lazy man’s route and use boneless, skinless breasts. And we all know the honey-soy combination is magical, as I’ve already documented here.

…In the end, I’m embarrassed to admit this recipe was the only one I ever made ahead. I’d still consider that a success, but I’m too busy scrambling around trying to figure out what I’ll cook tonight, and could it involve two heads of 8-day-old broccoli? Want to come over? We’ll have our own slumber party!!!!


Indonesian Ginger Chicken

Adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe. Serves 3.

Note: I halved this recipe, and used boneless skinless chicken breasts, because I am lazy and I always have that in the fridge. You could substitute bone-in breasts with skin, or boneless thighs, or legs – whatever suits your fancy. Just adjust the cooking time accordingly.


1/2 c. honey

1/3 c. soy sauce

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 c. minced gingerroot

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 1 1/3 lbs. total


Heat the honey, soy sauce, garlic and ginger in a small sauce pan over low heat. Arrange the chicken in a suitably sized Pyrex; pour the sauce over, cover with foil, and marinate in the fridge overnight. The next day, preheat the oven to 350°. Bake for 30-33 minutes, until the breasts are cooked through.

The sauce will still be thin, so if you want to thicken it up a bit you can pour it into a small saucepan and make a cornstarch slurry. Heat the sauce, whisk in the slurry, and let it thicken. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

Indian-Spiced Shrimp
February 20, 2011, 1:27 pm
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Cold? Check. Cranky? Check. Hungry? Check. Need a dinner that requires little in the way of time or forethought? Check.

This “Indian-Spiced Shrimp” takes all of about 20 minutes. It’s warming without being overly spicy, and since it lacks two of my favorite ingredients (butter and wine), I think it pretty much qualifies as Diet Dinner #42.

The original recipe calls for fresh tomatoes, but canned whole tomatoes are much juicier, and the sauce benefits from that. The “fresh” ginger I purchased at Gristede’s was actually “grossly moldy,” so I used dried, and no one was the wiser. Add more jalapeños if you want the extra heat, and if you’re feeling inspired and have the time, you could roast some cauliflower, too.

Indian Spices Shrimp

Adapted from this Gourmet recipe. Serves 4.

1 medium onion, diced

3 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 tbsp. minced fresh jalapeno, including seeds

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. minced fresh ginger, or 1/2 tsp. dried

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

3/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. turmeric

1 can of whole peeled tomatoes, diced; reserve the juice

1 lb. cleaned shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 c. cilantro leaves, chopped

Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat; add the onions and saute until they start to color, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeño and saute until fragrant, about one minute; then add the rest of the spices and stir for about another minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir; if the mixture seems too dry, add a splash of the reserved juice. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the tomatoes break down a bit. Add the shrimp and stir until cooked through, about another 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro to garnish and serve with warmed (store-bought) naan.

Homemade Oreos
February 15, 2011, 10:12 pm
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Homemade Oreos? Come on. Dough that needs to be chilled for 2 hours, and re-rolled every 15 minutes to make sure it doesn’t sink? Who has the kind of time for that?? Oh, wait. This kid.

I had seen homemade oreos elsewhere in the blogosphere, but had always held off making them for fear they were too much of a production to be worth it. Now I need to hold off making them again, because they are really freaking good. All I needed were a few hours of quality HGTV to while away the hours. (It was incredible.)

Ok, ok, so it’s true: they need a lot of love. And Valentine’s Day has come and gone, so I’m assuming you’re all out of said love and back to your usual snarky self.  That’s fine, since these cookies come together very easily and don’t require a hand-mixer. I love that. Melt some butter, melt some chocolate, throw the dry ingredients into a bowl, and in just a few minutes the dough comes together. Chang notes it gets to a point where it’s easier to work with your hands, but I never found that; it came together with a wooden spoon without a problem. Just wait for an afternoon when you can lounge around watching House Hunters marathons while the dough chills. Oh – does that only apply to me? Fine, I’ll make a batch for you.

Side note: I doubled the amount of filling required, because in my world, it’s Double Stuf or bust. I frosted some of these with varying shades of pink in honor of the, ahem, “holiday,” so omit as your cold heart desires.

Homemade Oreos

Adapted from Flour by Joanne Chang. Makes 16 to 18 sandwich cookies.

For the cookies:

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

3/4 c. sugar

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 heaping c. semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled

1 egg

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

3/4 c. Dutch-processed cocoa powder (I could only find a blend of regular and Dutch-process and it was fine)

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

For the cream filling:

2 sticks salted butter, softened

3 1/3 c. confectioners’ sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tbsp. heavy cream

pinch of salt

In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar until well combined. Whisk in the vanilla and chocolate; add the egg and whisk until combined. In a small bowl, whisk the flour together with the cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture, using a wooden spoon to combine. If you need to use your hands, go for it. Let the dough rest at room temperature for an hour.

Transfer the dough to a large square of wax paper. Roll it into a log about 2 inches across, and 10-12 inches long. Roll the wax paper around the log, then chill in the fridge for 2 hours, rolling every 15 minutes or so to maintain its shape.

Preheat the oven to 325º. Line two baking sheets with wax paper. Slice the dough log into 1/4″ slices, and place on the cookie sheet about one inch apart. Bake until just firm to the touch, about 16-18 minutes. Let cool on the sheet.

For the filling, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the vanilla and milk and beat again until smooth. Spread a few tablespoons of filling onto a cookie, and sandwich with another one.

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of February 10
February 10, 2011, 7:55 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Ok, so maybe there hasn’t been much cooking of late. But I’m still here to canvass the food blogs, so you don’t have to. A few highlights this week:

Eater tells me there’s an Oysterpocalypse brewing, so you better start sucking the bivalves down now. They’ve prepared a handy, er, Doomsday Map of the best places across the country; I’d go one further and add the Island Creek Oyster Bar in Boston to that list. Haven’t been myself, but have a lot of love for the ICO guys and have heard only good things.

If you’re looking for a delicious Valentine’s Day treat for a loved one (or yourself!!), I have two excellent recommendations. Bespoke Chocolates, at 6 Extra Place, off Bowery, is fantastic. Their e-commerce site is down due to heavy volume, and that’s a good thing; their signature Pretzel-Covered Sea-Salted Caramels are incredible. But if you’re not into chocolates, go the cookie route; Sweetery NYC has been hard at work baking a special batch of Valentine’s Day cookies, and judging by the photos on their Facebook page, they look delicious. Plus, if they are anything like the rest of the stuff on Sweetery’s menu (ahem, pumpkin whoopie pies), I am all in.

The Serious Eats Team checks in at Fedora, Gabriel Stulman’s latest venture on Little Wisco. The place gets high marks for good food and a very, um, “convivial” atmosphere. (Read: expect to be jostled at the bar. A lot. But apparently it’s all part of the fun.) Order the cream of cauliflower soup and the crispy pig’s head. Yum!

The boys at Immaculate Infatuation weigh in on Low Country (pleasantly surprised; those pulled pork sliders look awesome) and Mayahuel (snag a booth and get down with a Whoopsy Daisy…or three).

Meanwhile, the Siftster schleps out to Flushing (because “it’s like 1973 out there”) to plunk a star down on Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan. The restaurant apparently recommends reservations but will make you wait; once you have a table, order the lamb with cumin and pepper, the chicken and hot red pepper and the “BBQ fish,” which can also be made with pig trotters if you’re into that.

Brown Café on the LES brings on a new chef and revamps its menu in honor of its tenth anniversary. The sister to Green, its catering arm, and Orange, its private dining room, will still feature some favorites, but the menu will change each week.


Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of February 3
February 3, 2011, 8:59 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

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


Sifty gives one star to Fat Radish and loses ten points (well, in my book, anyway) for sliding the word “palimpsest” in there. Come on. Anyway, the duck rillettes are apparently phenomenal. Order accordingly.

Meanwhile, the boys at Immaculate Infatuation review a few neighborhood stand-bys: Balthazar, which has no qualms about charging you $19 for a bread basket (but it’s excellent), and Bella Blu, a little gem in the wasteland that is the UES. I can say that, because I live there.

Grub Street pulls together a handy-dandy map of where to eat during the Super Bowl, whether dining in or taking out. Lowcountry has a take-out barbecue package, while Bierkraft will be serving chili bratwursts (chili bratwursts!) all day. And Hooters, never one to miss a beat, will apparently be selling discounted pitchers of beer.

If you’re just looking for a watering hole on Sunday, Restaurant Girl compiles a nice list. Count on every joint being packed to the gills, but still – if you can score one of the leather chairs at Warren 77, give me a call.

The early word on Niko, the new sushi place in SoHo, is promising….as long as you can say you hobnob with Cobi Levy, who’s running front of house. Also, don’t expect to eat after 11pm, as it seems they run out. Of everything.

Since this is clearly the Winter That Will Never End (and Groundhog Day is a complete fraud anyway), Eater NY also has a list of 12 great restaurants to set up shop and watch the next impending blizzard. My personal favorite is to sit at the bar at Maialino and have a few glasses of wine watch the beautiful snow fall.