Monday, January 31, 2011

Best Thing I Ever Ate: French Fries @ Brooklyn Bowl (61 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211)

I've had french fries from Balthazar (NYC), Pommes Frites (NYC), The Coffee Shop (NYC), and Le Relais de l'Entrecote (Paris), and nothing compares to the Rock and Roll fries at Brooklyn Bowl.  Where else can you bowl, listen to live bands, order Brooklyn Brewery beers (which is literally around the corner), and eat hearty southern cooking (fried chicken with honey, mac and cheese, and milkshakes)?  The Rock and Roll fries are tossed in gravy, cajun seasoning, provolone, and cheddar - once you taste them, you'll violate any social rules on double dipping (with your fork) or taking your proportionate share (its best to order your own - trust me).
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Thursday, January 27, 2011

I Hate You, Lidia Matticchio Bastianich!

I caught an episode of Lidia's Italy and saw a great recipe: breadcrumb tomato spaghetti.  She drizzled olive oil and breadcrumbs over tomatoes, baked them for 25 minutes, and later added it to spaghetti, basil, and ricotta salata.  I googled it later in the week and somehow downloaded the win32/ virus (thank you AVG).  I've owned a computer for 20 years (way back to the Commodore 64) and never downloaded a virus (and all I did was click on a website). I've worked on the problem for most of the week, but today my poor netbook won't start up (not even in safe mode).  I'll keep researching the problem, but I may have to reinstall Windows XP (which should be a challenge since netbooks don't have a CD drive).         
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Best Thing I Ever Ate: Sushi @ Sushi Yasuda (204 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017)

Sushi Yasuda is the Taj Mahal of sushi.  Reservations are hard to come by, so we took the first time slot available.  We went for a friend's birthday and went with the omakase (chef's choice).  We sat back as plate after plate of amazing sushi came out.  The server named each piece like a zoology lesson and we slowly savored each piece like New York Times food critics (discussing the viscosity of each fish, followed by grunts).  The toro (fatty tuna) melted in our mouths like butter, we had multiple varieties of mackeral / yellowtail (who knew their were up to 7 different varieties of each), tried the arctic char and uni, and ordered more eel like Henry VIII.  The rice is like no other and the chef adds soy sauce and wasabi to each piece (putting wasabi into soy sauce is a cardinal sin there).  This place isn't for the sushi newbie - you might be thrown out like the Soup Nazi for ordering a California Roll or Shrimp Tempura.  You should go in with an open mind and wallet (it isn't cheap, but well worth it for their mastery, knowledge, and overall religious experience).                  
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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Smashed Potato Pancakes

I religiously eat the same thing for breakfast during the week (Kashi GoLean Crunch), so I look forward to cooking breakfast on the weekends.  The Recipe Hunter (AKA my gf) struck again and found a recipe for latkes (potato pancakes) based on what we had on hand.  These came out pretty damn good - I dolloped some sour cream on the side, an over easy egg on top, and toast to soak up the goodness. 


3lbs - Red Potatoes (peeled and diced)
1 - Clove Garlic (minced)
1/2 tsp - Salt
1/2 tsp - Fresh Ground Pepper
1 3/4 cups - Panko Bread Crumbs (divided)
1 - Egg (beaten)
2 slices - Bacon (cooked and minced)
1/4 cup - Cheddar (shredded)
1/4 cup - Scallion (chopped)
1/4 cup - Butter (room temperature)
1 tbsp - Sour Cream
3 tbsp - Canola Oil

1) In a large pot, add the potatoes and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer until tender.
2) Drain and add to a large bowl.
3) Mash the potatoes and add the garlic, salt, pepper, 1 cup of panko, egg, cheese, bacon, onion, butter, and sour cream. 
4) Form the potato mixture into 3-inch patties. 
5) Put the remaining 3/4 cup of panko in a shallow dish and dredge the potato patties in the crumbs.
6) In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat and cook 3-4 minutes on each side.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Realignment of the Zodiac

First, Pluto is no longer a planet and now they've shifted the Zodiac sign system due to a shift in the Earth's alignment.  They've also added a 13th sign: Ophiuchus.  What is a Ophiuchus you ask?  Its name is Greek for "serpent bearer" and it is represented by a man grasping a snake.  I wonder if I go from Cancer to Gemini or if its based on what your horoscope sign was when you were born.  Here are the new dates:

Capricorn: Jan. 20 - Feb. 16
Aquarius: Feb. 16 - March 11
Pisces: March 11- April 18
Aries: April 18- May 13
Taurus: May 13- June 21
Gemini: June 21- July 20
Cancer: July 20- Aug. 10
Leo: Aug. 10- Sept. 16
Virgo: Sept. 16- Oct. 30
Libra: Oct. 30- Nov. 23
Scorpio: Nov. 23- Nov. 29
Ophiuchus: Nov. 29- Dec. 17
Sagittarius: Dec. 17- Jan. 20

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Spiced Pork Chops with Honey Balsamic Glaze

Just like T-Pain, I'm in love with a Skillet.  I got mine recently and all I want to do is cook everything on it (and spoon hot oil over meat like I'm competing on Iron Chef). I wanted to make my typical garlic and rosemary pork chops, but the gf found a recipe that will definitely go to the top of the queue the next time we host a dinner party.  Once you try the glaze, you'll want to spoon it over everything (just like T-Pain).  


Pork Chops
1/4 cup - Olive Oil
4 - 8oz Boneless Pork Chops
Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper
1/2 tsp - Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

1/2 cup - Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 cup - Honey
2 cloves - Garlic (minced)
1/2 - Yellow Onion (minced)
1 tsp - Rosemary (chopped)
1/2 stick - Unsalted Butter (divided and at room temperature)
Kosher salt 
Freshly Ground Pepper

1) In a skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat.
2) Season the pork chops with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
3) Add the pork to the pan and cook until brown on both sides (spoon the hot oil over the meat and pick it up with tongs to cook the sides).
4) In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar, honey, garlic, onions, and rosemary to boil over medium-high heat.
5) Stir occasionally until the honey has dissolved and simmer for 9 minutes.
6) Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter.
7) Season with salt and pepper and drizzle the glaze over the pork chops.  

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Mushroom Stuffed Baked Red Snapper

My gf is on winter recess so we've been cooking up a storm. She wanted to make a baked stuffed fish and I was a little hesitant since I'd only grown up with 3 basic meats (chicken, pork, and beef) and had never cooked a whole fish before. She went to the fish market, picked out a nice fat red snapper, and found the recipe on Food Network. We hungrily devoured it and only left behind the head and bones (perfectly intact).


4oz - Baby Bella Mushrooms (chopped)
2 tbsp - Unsalted Butter (divided)
2 1/2 tbsp - Yellow Onions (minced and divided)
1/4 cup -Flavored or Italian Bread Crumbs
1 - Egg (beaten)
1/2 tbsp - Soy Sauce
1/2 tbsp - Parsley (chopped)
Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper
2lb - Red Snapper (whole, gutted, scaled, and cleaned)
1/4 cup - White Wine
3/8 cup - Water

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Clean and chop the mushrooms.
3) In a small skillet, melt 1 tbsp butter (you should have 1 tbsp left) and 1 1/2 tbsp of onions (you should have 1 1/2 tbsp left) and saute for 4 minutes.
4) In a large bowl, combine the sauted butter/onion mixture with the mushrooms, bread crumbs, egg, soy sauce, chopped parsley, salt, and pepper.
5) In a glass pyrex, spoon as much of the mixture into the fish and secure the openings with toothpicks.
6) Sprinkle both sides of the fish with salt and pepper.
7) With the remaining mixture, make a bed under the fish and add the remaining butter, onion, wine, and water (to create a water bath).
8) Bake for 50 minutes.
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Monday, January 10, 2011

Pancakes from Scratch

I'm literally convinced that you can make anything out of flour and eggs: pasta, bread, cookies, cupcakes, etc.  Nothing is more satisfying than making something good out of such simple ingredients.  I came across the recipe below and I've been playing around with different variations: plump raisins and walnuts, dark chocolate chips, cheddar with minced bacon, and dry fruits.  They come out fluffy, the crust gets nice and buttery, and they'll make you toss out your instant pancake mix (sorry Aunt Jemima).

1 - Egg
1 cup - Flour
6oz - Carnation Evaporated Milk
1 tbsp -Sugar
2 tbsp - Canola Oil
1 tbsp - Baking Powder
1/2 tsp - Kosher Salt
1 Tsp - Vanilla Extract
Zest of 1 Orange
Unsalted Butter

Serving: 4 6-inch Pancakes

1) Mix the ingredients in a bowl until the batter has no lumps.
2) Put unsalted butter in a hot griddle or frying pan.
3) Use a laddle to put the batter in to get uniform sized pancakes (perfect for stacking). 
3) Flip the pancakes when they start to bubble in the middle and the edges appear cooked.
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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Perfect Breakfast / Brunch Idea: Mini Frittatas

The gf and I had a huge brunch fetish at one point - we were scratching off places off on our "to do" list every weekend: Sarabeth's, Clinton Street Bakery, Locanda Verde, Buttermilk Channel, etc.  Each time we would wait for 45 minutes, order the best thing Yelp, Best Thing I Ever Ate, or Unique Eats recommended, and critically review each spoonful like Siskel and Ebert.  Some of the places were good, but we were mostly disappointed and felt that we could do it better. Each weekend we took turns making breakfast / brunch, trying to secretly one up each other.  Recently she came up with the idea of making mini frittatas - I've always found them to be dry and boring (so I was a bit hesitant heading into it).  Since we made them in a cupcake pan, they came out flavorful, moist, simple, and looked too good to eat.  Here's the recipe - enjoy (I'll probably experiment and add red onions, peppers, and creme fraiche):

4oz - Shredded Cheddar Cheese
3 - Slices of Thick Cut Apple Smoked Bacon (minced)
3 tbsp - Chives (chopped)
8 - Eggs
2 tbsp - Butter (room temperature)
Fresh Ground Pepper

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2) Cook the minced bacon until ready and put aside to drain on a napkin.
3) Beat the eggs in a bowl.
4) Mix together the cheese, bacon, chives, and a few grinds of pepper.
5) Take a napkin and spread the butter over the 12 muffin tins.
6) Put a spoonful of the cheese, bacon, and chive mixture into each tin equally.
7) Ladle in the beaten egg into each muffin cup and bake for 12 minutes until golden brown.
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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Best Thing I Ever Ate: Meatballs @ Meatball Shop (84 Stanton Street, New York, NY 10002)

You have to love a place confident enough to only have one thing on the menu.  At the Meatball Shop, you get the menu and a black marker to check off what you want.  Going through the menu is like listening  to Bubba (from Forrest Gump) talking about the different ways of cooking shrimp, except its nothing but meatballs: classic beef, spicy pork, chicken, salmon, veggie, in tomato sauce, in mushroom sauce, on a hero, in a slider, in a bowl, etc.  The possibilities are endless!  The Meatball Shop helps make the Lower East Side a viable foodie neighborhood with Stanton Social and WD-50 nearby.  Be sure to save room for dessert (they make customizable ice cream sandwiches). Anyway, I came across their pork meatball with spicy sauce recipe and had to share it (with a few of my modifications):


2lbs - Ground Pork  
1 1/3 tbsp - Kosher Salt
4 - Hot Cherry Peppers (minced)
2oz - Pepper Pickling Liquid
4 - Slices of Potato Bread (minced)*
3 - Eggs
2 tbsp - Olive Oil
1/2 - Red Onion (minced)**

* The original recipe calls for white bread, but I prefer potato.
** This is not in the original recipe, I prefer the taste of red

Spicy Meat Sauce
1 - Red Onion (diced)***
1lb - Ground Pork
2 tbsp - Olive Oil
2 tsp - Chili Flakes
2 tsp - Kosher Salt
2 tbsp - Tomato Paste
2 - 28 oz Cans of Tomatoes (chopped - preferably San Marzano)

*** The original recipe uses yellow onions

1) Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2) Combine all of the ingredients except for the olive oil in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated.
3) Drizzle the olive oil into a large baking dish (9 x 13), making sure to evenly coat the entire surface (use your hand to help spread the oil).
4) Roll the mixture into round, golf ball-size meatballs, making sure to pack the meat firmly.
5) Place the balls into the oiled baking dish so that all of the meatballs are lined up evenly in rows and are touching each of their neighbors in a grid.
6) Roast until firm and cooked through (about 14 minutes).
7) Allow the meatballs to cool for five minutes before removing from the tray.

Spicy Meat Sauce
1) Cook the onions and pork with the olive oil, chili and salt over a medium heat in a large pot , stirring constantly until the meat is thoroughly cooked and the onions are soft and begin to brown (about 15 minutes).
2) Add the tomato paste and cook for five minutes.
3) Add the canned tomatoes and stir constantly until sauce begins to boil.
4) Continue cooking for 35 minutes, stirring every four or five minutes so that the sauce does not burn.

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Monday, January 3, 2011

Penne with Brown Butter, Nutmeg, & Parmesan

I came across this recipe on - it was on the Amateur Gourmet's blog.  Pasta is best when its kept simple.

8oz - Penne
3 tbsp - Unsalted Butter
1-2oz - Pasta Water
1 cup - Freshly Grated Parmesan Reggiano, plus more for shaving
Freshly Grated Nutmeg
Kosher Salt
Canola Oil

1) Bring the water to a rolling boil, add canola oil, salt, and penne (in that order), and boil for 10 minutes.
2) In a frying pan (over medium-low heat), add the butter and grate nutmeg over it.
3) Before draining the pasta, take a mug and fill it with 2oz of pasta water.
4) Drain the pasta.
5) Add the pasta water to the pan of brown butter and then add the pasta (add more butter or nutmeg to your desire).
6) Toss the pasta and add the parmesan.
7) For dramatic effect, take a potato peeler and shave parmesan over the plated pasta.   
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Holiday Hangover

So the holidays are finally over and the tree is bagged and sitting on the curb.  After an entire year of cooking (I promised to cook 2 new things a week) and hosting for Thanksgiving, it only made sense to try to complete my kitchen stadium for Christmas.  Here are a couple of things that I received:

- Lodge 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet: all year I've been hearing / reading about the benefits of cooking on cast iron (even heating, browning, and the ability to put it in the oven).  My test run of fried buttermilk chicken came out noticeably better (crunchier and cooked faster).

- Lodge Grill Pan: I'm guilty of taking pictures of food and nothing says "food porn" quite like grill marks.  I make a lot of tuna and pork chops, so I should get a lot of use out of this pan.

- Lodge 5-Quart Dutch Oven: Notice a Lodge theme?  They are the only domestic maker of cast iron cookware, they're reliable (they've been in business for over 100 years and I've read numerous reviews on other celebrity chef's cookware's enamel peeling after a few uses), the top cover doubles as a skillet for browning meat, and its reasonably priced.  I've already used it to make risotto and short ribs and was happy with the results.

- Good Eats: The Early Years and Good Eats 2: The Middle Years: Alton Brown is one of only a few Food Network personalities that I actually like (don't even get me started with Sandra Brown, Bobby Flay, or the Neely's).  He's quirky and scientifically knowledgeable about food.  These two cookbooks contain episode recaps of his show Good Eats with recipes, techniques, his side notes, and a short food history lesson.    
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