Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mesa Coyoacan

So tonight Ry and I decided to try a new edition to the neighborhood: Mesa Coyoacan. Now, the name is totally impossible- I had to google it to remember it even after being there- so from now on, I"m just calling it "that mexican place". It was delish! And seeing how my last review was of Rosa Mexicano, it was prime for comparisons.

The outside is an uber-modern building, nothing special. We were pleasantly surprised by the interior, sort of a family kitchen look, with two large communal tables. Not expecting that, in a good way. We sat at the bar and had some cocktails to start. Ryan tried a habanero margarita: grapefruit, habanero-infused tequila, and lime, for $9. Now, as a good friend of mine pointed out, this is half price from the pomegranate margaritas at Rosa mex, so was it as awesome at half the price? Ry gave it two thumbs up. It had a tart and fruity start and a fiery finish, and the heat built as he continued to drink it. I'm not a fan of spicy beverages (which is ironic, as I like all my food covered in hot sauce), but I thought the sip was pretty tasty. The drink was garnished with a nice big slice of grapefruit, which was a refreshing treat. I opted for the strawberry sangria. Very strawberry, although the champagne did not bubble through as promised.

For dinner, we started with a quesadilla appetizer. We tried two: one was mushroom, and another chorizo. The mushroom had a nice earthy flavor, but needed salsa. The chorizo was really yummy and nice, with a little smoke and spice.

For my entree, I went with the enchiladas verde with chicken. The meat was tender and flavorful, and the green sauce was tangy, not as citrusy as the one at rosa mexicano, but very tasty. However, the stars of the show were the three salsas. A smoky red, a medium-spice green, and a blazing habanero. By mixing the three into the verde sauce, wow. The dish was totally awesome! A small side of black beans and avocado as a garnish was delicious as well.

Ryan ordered the carnitas tacos- berkshire pork, a little sweet. He was a little surprised that his tacos, unlike the portions of almost everything else, were quite pequeno. They were bite sized, but amazingly flavorful. We saw salads and soups that came out rather large, so I think next time we might get the tacos as an appetizer to split, and try more of the entrees. The Carne Asada looked great, with a grass-fed marinated skirt steak, and I would like to try the tilapia.

We tried two other drinks, a glass of spanish white, which was ok, and Ryan tried a chile margarita, still spicy, but this time with pineapple and a little bit of smokiness.

For dessert, we ordered the coconut flan, which was just the right size, and had clean, light flavors. Ryan doesn't usually like coconut ("Tastes like sunscreen"), but there was none of that to be found. Just a really nice vanilla and hint of coconut, with sliced almonds on top. Strawberry and mint garnish added to the flavor.

Overall, we were really impressed with the intensity of flavor in each bite. Usually this is my biggest complaint about mexican food: it's bland. But that was not the case at "The new mexican place". Compared to Rosa Mex?? At half the price, it really gave them a run for the money. (The service was attentive, and we thought we did pretty good with 5 drinks, an appetizer, two entrees, dessert, and a cappuccino for $85 before tip...)

My only wish for the future was that the salsas appear immediately to be enjoyed throughout the meal. Next time I will be requesting them. Also, they do serve chips with the salsa, but only by request and for a small fee. This is always BS to me. Give me the chips, and forget the charge. Alas. It would be worth it to smother myself in the salsa goodness. Finally, as we mentioned, the waiter did not warn ry that the tacos were more appetizer than entree sized, and as we noted, the salads and soups seemed larger than appetizers, so some unexpected portion sizes. Glad to welcome a gourmet mexican option to the 'hood, and looking forward to our next trip south of the border.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Williamsburg: A back log

So, I tend to eat and drink out far too often. I can't keep up- so I'm going to use the next two weeks to try my best to catch up on some not-to-be-missed venues. The following was a sequence of bars and restaurants we hit up a few weekends ago with Sarah & Eric. There's actually a bar missing, it was random and I can't remember its name, so... not gonna review it.

Radegast Beer Hall

We love this place! I remember waiting for Radegast to open! Now, almost two years later, the cat is out of the bag. But I still love it! There are tons of German and Czech beers on tap, not to mention even more by the bottle. I can't comment directly on the beer other than to say they only serve it in either 1/2 or liter glasses, european style, and everyone else always seems to be enjoying their Gosser or whatnot. I stick to the wine- They have several rieslings and gewurztraminers that are fantastic. I GET that beer is the thing here, but I just can't get into it- so thank you, radegast, for stocking some regional white wines that are delicious. It goes a long way toward making the evening enjoyable!! I wish more bars would get the hint!

As for food, the grill serves up several different types of sausages, including kielbasa, as well as burgers, fried, and sauerkraut. Hits the spot, especially after a long night!!

Our second stop for the evening...

Monkey Town

Some friends were playing in a band in the backroom. Never been before, have to admit the screens made my eyes go a little fuzzy. Way too much TV, way to close to my head. And LOUD. The wine here was palatable, but not good. The mixed drinks seemed fine. The front room, which I really only got a glance of, looked kinda neat. They serve food as well, though I did not sample. I can't say I'd be driven back here, but next time I'm in the neighborhood, I might stop by...

Stop 3- dinner:

So, this was my second trip to Relish, and both my husband and I really liked it this time. The first time around was several years ago, and we weren't particularly inspired to go back. But this time, I'm not sure what it was, but it definitely stood out to us. I had a pasta dish- rigatoni with mushrooms, sage, and spinach- and it was delicious. Ryan opted for a chicken club sandwich that had lots of flavor. Our only complaint was that we both had terrible glasses of wine. Now, talk about baffling. How hard is it to buy a decent bottle?? They sell so many good wines now for around $10, and at the outrageous markup price of $8-$9 a glass, they could still triple their monies worth.... I just don't get it. I want to go on a campaign to get people to stop selling crap ass wine.

Last stop:

So, at this point, it was probably around 1 in the morning. I should warn you, this joint is jumping late at night, to the point where it is almost hard to move. So, if that is not your scene, try and hit it up earlier in the evening. I've been coming here for several years now, and I always have a great time. I also always get irreparably drunk, as they serve all these concoctions featuring rum. I'm a fan of the capeta, a drink made with coconut, guarna, and rum. If you like pina colada's... then I highly recommend. They also have capirhinas, which are just sooo tart, and vodka served from a watermelon. They also make homemade rum punch in a jar on the bar, which the bartender will continually add vodka to as the evening progresses. You've been warned.

The atmosphere is great. Lots of dark wood, candles, incense, wrought iron- and bongo drummers! They play along to a DJ, usually reggae and latin. Downstairs in the basement is a salsa dance floor, but last time I was there I couldn't even make it down the steps as it was so crowded. On slower nights, they hook up hammocks by the bar that guests can recline in. Totally different feeling to it.

Either way, Always a blast!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Rosa Mexicano

So I had the good fortune to have dinner with a wonderful friend at one of my favorites, Rosa Mexicano. This was now probably trip 5 or so for me, and I have to report, I just love this place. I like to start with the house special, a pomegranate martini that is delicious, and usually a little stiff. I love the smoky red salsa, and I like that the chips are still free. That is for sure one of my biggest pet peeves. Chips and salsa in a mexican restaurant should always be free!

I have to admit being stuck in a wonderful rut when it comes to entrees- I always order the chicken suiza enchiladas. The chicken is served in an amazing cilantro sauce, with rice and black beans. Lots of flavor. Rosalia had the same thing, damn.

There are several locations throughout manhattan, I've been in 3 and ate at 2. I have to admit, the meal I had at the mid-East side location was disappointing, and the environment isn't nearly as snazzy as the Lincoln Center spot. The new one- at Union Square, is loud, but looks like fun. I still vote for the one right across from the met. Three times I've gone pre-show, and they've always done a bang up job of getting us out for our curtain, without feeling rushed. This last time, we cut it super close, and got there just an hour before the show. We let the waiter know, and our entrees were out within 15 minutes- Ole!

Pumpkin Pie

I love pie. I make my own crusts, which can be used with any fillin'. It is super easy to make, not sure why people make such a big deal outta crust. So if you are still buying it from the store, stop!! Try this:

1 and 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter ( 1 stick)- softened
5 tblsp ICE water

Put the flour & salt in a small bowl, whisk. Cut the butter into little squares and mash into the flour with a fork. Add in 5 tblsp of water, slowly, then start using your hands to kneed the dough. Collect it into a ball, should be a little moist, so not crumbly, but not wet. Wrap in saran and refrigerate for 1/2 and hour or until you need it!!

Now, for the fillin'.

I've made the pie both ways, by buying sugar pumpkins and roasting them and scooping out the flesh, and by opening up a can full of pumpkin pie filling. I hate to admit this, but having done it the labor-intensive way, there was really very little difference in final product. So, I'll tell you how to do it, in case you have some extra time to kill, but in this one instant, I'm gonna advocate for the canned goods.

1 medium-size sugar pumpkin

carefully cut pumpkin in half. discard seeds and stringy bits. Save seeds for roasting if that's your thing. Lightly oil baking sheets, either one large one that will fit both halves, or two smaller ones. also lightly oil the halves themselves, then place face down, with the fleshy parts exposed. Bake @ 325, until flesh is tender when poke with a fork. scrape the warm flesh from the peel. mush or puree in a blender.

Go buy a can of Libby's pumpkin pie filling. open and pour into bowl. Add:

1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp crushed cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg/ allspice
1 tsp salt
4 eggs, lightly beaten
8 oz honey- warm in boiling water in the jar, then pour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Beat ingredients with a mixer on low. This will make a ton of batter, might be enough for a deep dish pie or two smaller ones.
Bake @ 400 for 50-55 min until fork comes out clean from center

Fresh whip cream to dress it up, and serve!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Roast Chicken with Garlic, Shallot, and Rosemary

This is a dean & deluca inspired recipe:

1 roaster- we went for 6.5 lbs (organic! antibiotic free!)

3 tblsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper

12 shallots, peeled
20 cloves garlic, peeled

for the jus:
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine

Bed of Veggies:
fingerling potatoes

Preheat oven according to bird weight/ approximately 350 degrees. Prep the veggies. Mix the rub in a small bowl. Clean out the giblets, wash and pat dry the chicken. Place veggies in bottom of roasting pan, then the chicken, making sure there is enough room for air to circulate. Disperse the shallots and garlic in the pan. Rub the olive oil mixture all over the chicken, the veggies, the garlic and shallots. Be heavy handed. make sure to get inside the cavity, coating every surface. Roast the bird, basting every 20 minutes. Add a little water and white wine to the pan juices. Turn the bird belly side up for about 15 minutes, then back over. After about 2-2.5 hours, test to see if bird is done. While resting, prepare the au jus: scrape the pan juices into a small pot, add in 1 cup stock and 1/2 cup white wine. Reduce to 1 cup. Serve over chicken.

Notes: The veggies carmelized and were amazing!! The garlic was sweet enough to eat whole...And this really was tender, flavorful chicken!

Monday, December 14, 2009


So, it was a special occasion, and we went all out. For our second anniversary, Ryan and I went to Daniel Boulud's flagship, Daniel. We sorta had a chef crush on him to begin with, and we got to see him in person, which was amazing!! As for the food...


The amuse bouche were amazing. The size of pinheads, but more flavor packed in one personal favorite of the 3 was a leek and mushroom, super creamy soup-type thing. It was basically served in a thimble, but oh what a thimbleful!

For appetizers, we had the artichoke soup with foie gras and sunchoke, and a lobster foie gras in consomme with small strips of duck prosciutto. I thought they were both very delicate and delicious. We also went with the wine pairings, Ryan had some crazy riesling that smelled like a mechanic shop. Ryan swears it tasted good...

For my entree I had a killer piece of lamb. The sauce was... very rich, creamy, and flavorful. Don't ask me what all was in it. There was also a bed of garbanzo beans that were nice and crunchy, which really added to the dish. Ryan had the beef two ways. The short rib was melt in your mouth goodness, and the filet was tender and really flavorful.

For dessert, I had a cheese plate, and Ryan had a chocolate peanut butter ganache, and we have no complaints.

Overall, the setting was gorgeous, the service was great, the food was delicious- and the wine was both wonderful and palate- pushing. Our only complaint was that the pours were a bit small! We will definitely be back someday soon!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Food, Inc.

So, as this blog is devoted to our culinary delights, both homemade and found out and about, I felt I had to talk about the movie I watched today, Food, Inc. If you haven't seen it, please do. Not because it's amazing (which it is) but because it is essential. Ryan and I are your typical food consumers- we buy what we see in the store, and we trust that our food is safe, regulated by the FDA- but it's not. Exposing the corruption and deregulation, the mass industrialized production of food- and the dehumanizing work practices- I think we're going local, and I think I'm ready to make some long-lasting changes. Between what I've learned about climate change of late- and food production- I think it's time to make a commitment to long-standing sacrifice and change for sustainable eating.

1. I'm willing to eat meats less frequently, pay a little bit more when I do, and KNOW that the product is high quality, from a REAL farm and not a factory, and produced by workers who are treated with respect.

2. I'm willing to go local, and eat seasonally.
It's not gonna be easy. I like bananas. I LOVE tomatoes. But I think it might be time to admit that the winter tomatoes I get- from halfway around the world, grown in hothouses, not in soil, and ripened chemically. They never taste like a good ol' jersey tomato anyway.

3. Farmer's markets RULE.
So how come I don't shop them more often? I want to support the ma's and pa's, sustainable agriculture, and the local economy. And they are SO fun.

4. I haven't been feeling good lately about what I've been putting into my body.
Weight watchers? Lean cuisine? All these companies are marketing "healthy" food- but let's read the labels. It's all chemicals. Blech. I'm done with those! I want to make my "vote" count- and use my power as a customer to show the food industry the type of food I want!

See Food, Inc.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Amazing "Italian Flag" Sandwich

Ok, so these sandwiches are a total addiction. You will love them too!!

Ciabatta rolls
olive oil
fresh basil
italian seasoning
prosciutto, speck, etc as desired
Buffala Mozzarella
roasted red peppers

Heat up the ciabatta rolls, drizzle on the olive oil and vinegar. It really makes it better if you spring for imported buffalo mozzarella.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Alibi @ The Liberty Hotel

So Saturday night we got our shi-shi on at a Boston bar. It was Ryan's 10 year high school reunion, so my plan was to a) look like a hottie and b) get really, really drunk. Let's just say, mission(s) accomplished. The Liberty Hotel, ironically, opened in what used to be a jail- and the architecture hints playfully at its origins. "Alibi" is dark and dungeon-y, with arrest photos of famous folks hanging on the walls. The drinks were NOT cheap, and we dropped some dough, but they have a nice wine selection and mixed a good cocktail. Don't go by the picture above, they practically had the lights off inside. The hotel itself deserves mention, there is a second bar upstairs, and a restaurant named clink, which looked great. I'd come back for dinner and another round!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bartley's Burger Cottage

Bartley's Burger Cottage

OH yes. Great burgers in many styles. Awesome french fries and onion rings. Lime Rickeys. Such an amazing greasy spoon! Closes relatively early and is packed at prime hours, so beware. I wanted to hit this place up after an evening of drinking, and was crushed to discover that they close around 8... tragedy. The burgers are huge, juicy, and come with a ton of different fixings, all named after famous world and boston personalities, many of whom have visited and left memorabilia behind. I'd say it is a not-to-be-missed cambridge classic!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Around Cambridge: Bars

So I have been making the bar rounds near Harvard, and wanted to share my finds:

Grendel's Den
This average looking pub has an amazing secret: 1/2 price menu from 5-7 every day, and 7-9 pm thursday-saturday. Yep, EVERYTHING is 1/2 price with a drink. College wallets dream!! The food is not fantastic, but it's solid. The wine selection is atrocious, but beer and their margaritas are just find options. Also has seating right on the square in summer, so a great spot to people watch!

Tommy Doyle's
Great irish bar with some solid traditional food, featuring traditional music as well... Gets insanely packed on thursday and friday nights so be forewarned. Has 3 floors of bars, so explore!

Queenshead Pub
The Harvard bar, located underneath memorial hall. Has a great english pub feel, free pool and darts, and cheap wine and beer. You have to be a Harvard student or know one to get in, so makes friends with the locals!

John Harvard's
I say it's just a bar. Reminds me of TGIF decor inside...

Charlie's Beer Garden
Great in summer for outdoor drinking and dining.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Allen & Delancey and 'inoteca

So it's been a while since I've properly got my food on. Alas, grad school has sent me into a bit of hibernation. But last night I got a chance to check out Allen & Delancey on the LES. We'd heard it was very romantic, which it was, although for us old farts the music was too loud and totally incongruous with the scene. Sorta hipster rock tracks? There are candles everywhere and library books and black and white photos. Very tiny, so be prepared to get bumped on your way in and out. We had a drink at the bar before sitting down, and my prosecco was not properly chilled- which might sound totally snobby, but folks, at $12 a glass, the least they could do is keep it nice and cold! The menu is quite small, featuring about 4 appetizers and entrees to choose from, but a nice variation in proteins. We shared a salad that had a great tart vinaigrette and some awesome tomatoes, not sure what had been done to them, but I think they had cooked them just enough to soften the skins. Ryan had the beef- he reported that it was well cooked, but a little under-seasoned, and was room temperature when he got it. I had the chicken roulade which was very savory- the chicken was extremely tender and the liver mousse was nice and salty. The chicken was in a very vegetably broth, and the combo reminded me of flavors I had last year at Blue Hill. Overall, I was a little disappointed. The dining room was very noisy, both from music and nearby tables, and the food was good but clearly had some service issues. I was also a little surprised by the mixed crowd- if you would have blidnfolded me I would have thought I was in the mid 50's and not the LES, judging by the number of patrons sporting white hair for the evening.

After dinner we took a spin around the block and came across a cute little wine bar, 'inoteca.
We were too full to sample the cuisine, but we did try several of their wines. The imported cheeses looked great, as did their paninis. Nice casual crowd, and we were lucky to get a seat at the window table. Some fun people watching on Saturday night! I'd definitely go back and check out the food!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Le Veau D'or & Flute

To celebrate my trip home to NYC, Ry and I went to a New York Institution- Le Veau D'or. Started in 1937 and still open, and with original decor, it is like walking onto a movie set. The original owner is still alive and greets you at the door dressed in an impeccable suit and waist coat. His daughter now does the majority of hostessing, and with only 14 tables, every diner receives some personal attention.

As for the wine list, classically french with one bottle representing each region, with a slight emphasis on Bordeaux. We ordered the chateauneuf-du-pape, from the Rhone. I had the endive salad and ryan had the mussels as an appetizer, and then had the steak au poive and rack of lamb for our entrees. The lamb is carved tableside, a great touch, and the food is classic. Recently featured thanks to Julie and Julia, this restaurant is one of few where traditional preparations and sauces are proudly on display. There is nothing nouveau happening here, and that was just fine! I loved the au poive, which was spicy but not biting, and the frites were skinny and delicious. Ryan noted the traditional preparation of the lamb, which came quite rare, so if you prefer your meet cooked, order it medium for sure.

For dessert, we tried the peach melba and the "floating island". Really light, and really tasty. An egg meringue in a vanilla cream with toasted almonds, I really enjoyed every bite.

Following dinner we headed downtown to "flute", New York's champagne bar.

Loved the scene, dark and with plenty of tables for two. We tried two different champagne tasting flights, and had several glasses to boot. My only drawback was that drinks here cost as much as dinner. Definitely a great "classic" new york date!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

"Viennese Risotto"

So my friend Barbara taught me how to make a yummy risotto this past spring while I was visiting Vienna. So there is nothing inherently Austrian about these flavors, but memories of where I learned to make them, hence the title. What you put in the risotto can vary greatly, but how you make it is key. Risotto is a cooking process, and if not followed, you just have a rice dish instead, lol.

Asparagus (peas, celery, carrot, whatever veggies are on hand!)
white or red onion
1/4 stick butter (or olive oil)
white wine
Feta cheese, crumbled
pecroino or parmesan, grated
1-2 cups arborio rice
2-3 cups chicken stock (2 cubes bouillon and 2 cups boiling water)
sprinkle of lemon
italian seasoning (basil, thyme, marjoram)
salt & pepper

1. Brown the onion and garlic in the butter over med/low heat. Add in the rice, cook for a few minutes in the butter, and then add in some white wine. Allow the rice to absorb all the wine.

2. Start to slowly mix in the boiling chicken stock. As the stock is absorbed, continuously stir the rice, making sure to get to the bottom of the pan.

2. Continue adding in stock, along with vegetables and seasonings. Once all the stock is absorbed, mix in a generous portion of feta cheese/ pecorino/parmesan. Taste risotto, you want the rice al dente, but not crispy, and creamy, but not mushy. Don't stop stirring, and do not allow rice to stick and burn on bottom of pan. More wine or stock can be added if needed to expand the rice. If not creamy enough, more feta can be added. A sprinkle of fresh lemon can also add a nice flavor.

3. Serve! I sometimes like to add in some chicken as well, or with ham on the side.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Le Barricou

So I am back in New York visiting the hubz, and we went to one of our favorite local joints last night, Le Barricou. A french bistro, we usually don't do dinner, but prefer either the fabulous weekend brunch, or the late night bar menu. The atmosphere is great and I love the flavors. Ry and I usually order some wine and share the beet salad and hamburger and frites.

The beet salad is one of the best I've found. The beets are shaved thin, and served with fuji apple, a small sprinkling of goat cheese, and a tart vinaigrette over greens. Huge fan of the combo!! The burger is always good, get it medium rare, and served on a brioche bun. The fires are super thin and fried just right!!

As for brunch, wow. I have never had a bad bite! Each table gets a croissant and a pain au chocolat to munch on while you wait. I love the goat cheese croissant with two eggs sunny side up. The french toast is thick and delicious, and the croque madame?? Oh man, heaven. French bread with swiss and ham, and an egg on top.

If you are in the hood, check it out!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Ryan & I decided to venture into Boston for dinner on Saturday night, and discovered this wonderful wine bar & french-inspired restaurant. We were lured there by the promising wines by the glass menu, and the promise of a to-die-for cheese plate. The location, right on Boylston street off the Common, is great for pre-theater or pre-clubbing (If either of those are your "thing"). The small bar downstairs was nice for a pre-dinner cocktail.

Ryan and I sat at the bar and sampled some champagne and sauvignon blanc, and debated trying Krug, a champagne rarely available by the glass, here offered for $20 for 2 oz or $40 for 4. Ouch. We weren't feeling like millionaires, but it was tempting... maybe next time.

We headed upstairs for dinner, and the dining room is simple but pleasant. We started off with appetizers- I had the baby squash blossoms salad, and Ryan tried the braised short rib canneloni. The squash blossoms were very lightly battered and fried, for a delicate taste, and served with a mixed green salad with pine nuts, a little pesto, and a nice citrus vinaigrette. Ryan's short rib had a great smoky flavor, and the noodle was just right, not too thick to ruin the other subtle flavors. Ryan had a glass of shiraz and I had a new zealand sauvignon blanc, both recommended by the staff, and both very nice pairings.

For my entree, I opted to have a second appetizer- the truffle oil and mushroom cavatelli. Really savory and delicious, it went down well with the suggested pinot noir. Ryan had the miso- glazed salmon with bok choy and eggplant, and a glass of riesling that we both agreed was a bit sweet for this pairing. We finished our meal with 3 cheeses, that are selected from a cart brought by the waitress. We tried a triple cream cow's milk, a harder cow's milk, and an herb-crusted goat cheese. Really good stuff!!

We enjoyed this restaurant a great deal. The food is savory and pulled off a broad range of influences. The wine pairings were great, and though the bottle list is quite expensive, the wines by the glass were fairly priced. The only thing to note is that we were the youngest couple in the restaurant, probably by about ten years, but the older crowd did not effect our evening at all!! (Translation: bring a date!)

Monday, September 21, 2009

chicken dijonnaise

Now that it is fall, it's time to break out those cool-evening classics. I love this recipe because it is very simple- with only 3 ingredients, and turns out great!

Chicken cutlets or breasts
mustard: at least 1, up to 3, dijon, honey, grainy, dusseldorf, whatever you like.
white wine
salt & pepper
heavy cream- for sauce

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. In a lipped baking dish, cover chicken with mustard. Pour white wine around chicken, and salt and pepper.
3. Bake 30-40 minutes
4. When chicken is done, carefully pour juices and mustard into saucepan. Put chicken back in oven to stay warm. Pour some heavy cream into mixture, and a little more wine. Reduce over medium heat, salt and pepper. You will know it's good to go when it turns a darker color, and by the smell. You should be able to smell the wine cooking through the cream.
Serve the chicken and pour the sauce on top.

*goes great with wilted spinach or bok choy, and a sweet potato.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Banana Bread

Ah, "breads". I love them all- pumpkin, banana, date, nut, carrot.... There is just something really great about a warm slice of bread with butter on it..... Anyway, it is also the best way I've found to use up my bad bananas. So, banana bread it is:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
grease loaf pan

1. In a small bowl, whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1 tsp of salt.
2. In a larger bowl, mix together 3/4 stick of butter (6 tblsp), an egg, and 2/3 cup of sugar. Add in 2-3 ripe bananas. The older, mushier, and blacker, the better. Add in a tsp of mayonnaise for moisture. (no, really!)
Add in nuts, splash of vanilla, and chocolate chips if desired.
3. Beat the flour into the banana batter. Pour into the loaf pan. Bake for approx 1 hour.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Publick House

It's always tough to come to a new town and realize that you have fallen from the foodie-expert zone straight down to the..... "this looks good" mentality. But one spot we checked out merits discussion: The Publick House. This bar and restaurant is based around belgian beers, and to any beer-lovers joy, has an entire menu devoted to the concoctions of the monks. As a wino, I was pleased to discover a nice wine selection as well, which is a mark of a finer establishment! Ryan ordered the mussels in beer broth with bacon and corn, which is a heaping pile and Ryan tells me, quite delicious. I had the "obligatory" fish and chips, which I really enjoyed. The cod was really lightly beer- battered and the chips were done well. It was a rainy, damp night, so this food really warmed us up!! Check it out :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Macaroni and cheese

Ah, Mac n' cheese. This one, folks, is the real-deal family recipe. Taking the best of all worlds, I think this casserole rocks. No goopiness!

1 box Cavatappi pasta
1 block cracker barrel extra-sharp cheddar (the yellow one)
1 bag shredded mozzarella
1 can of tomatoes, I like piccante cherry tomatoes, but you pick
salt and pepper
bread crumbs

-start by boiling the pasta and preheating the oven to 350 degrees.
-drain the pasta, cut the cheddar into even square slices.
-put a layer of pasta and top with cheddar and mozzarella, pour in some of the tomatoes. salt and pepper. If desired, grate some pecorino and parmesan cheese on top, or another favorite of yours too.
-make a second and third layer to the top of the baking dish.
-fill the dish 1/4 to 1/2 way with the milk. Trust me on this one.
- bake for 40 minutes.
-Pull out of oven and place butter and bread crumbs on top and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, letting the top crisp and brown.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Farewell Fiesta: the enchilada recipe

Last week I hosted a little dinner party with some friends before my departure to Boston. I've always enjoyed cooking mexican food, and I have trouble finding a restaurant that creates the flavors I can create in my own kitchen. Last week I served a crazy concoction that I call a baked enchilada. I basically use an enchilada filling, but no sauce, and I bake them until the tortillas crisp on the outside. I can't stand the smothered-in-cheese- soft -shell enchilada in restaurants- it just doesn't have the zip I crave.

I also serve grilled corn and a black bean salad on the side or rice, and usually I'd mix up some guacamole and salsa, too. Ryan will mix up some of his insane margaritas, and voila. One delicious meal.

If you, like I, are seeking a different kind of enchilada, here is the recipe!!

Ingredients- makes 8 enchiladas- eyeball the veggies, about a fistful or two of each.
red onion
green/red/yellow pepper
jalepeno pepper- 1/2 to a whole, seeded or unseeded, depending on spice preferences
2-3 cloves garlic
recaito or mexican seasoning
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 small container sour cream- 8 oz
1/2 lime
1 bag mexican shredded cheese
chicken cutlets or 2 breasts

1. Saute the chicken in butter until cooked just past pink. Set aside to cool.
2. Preheat oven to...350
3. Dice all the vegetables into small pieces
4. shred the chicken with your hands. Mix the vegetables, seasonings, cream of chicken, and 1/2 the sour cream together. Mix well, add in 3/4 of the bag of cheese.
5. butter two baking pans. fill the enchiladas and wrap them.
6. bake for 40 minutes, put remaining cheese on top, bake additional 5 minutes.

Black Bean Salad-
You need to make this one a few hours in advance and let it chill. Light and refreshing, a healthier alternative to refried beans.

1 can black beans- drained and rinsed thoroughly.
1/2 lime
1 clove garlic- use sparingly and to taste
red/green/yellow pepper, very finely diced
red onion- finely chopped
tomatoes- tiny as possible
corn kernels
salt & pepper- you're going to want a healthy pinch of salt here!

Mix all ingredients together, tasting to adjust the amount of lime and cilantro. Chill until ready to serve.

Hope you enjoy the fiesta- maybe later this week I'll reveal the secrets of Ryan's margaritas. It may or may not involve a lot of lime and booze...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pasta Sauce

We are not fans of jarred pasta sauce. Let's face it- the inevitable dilemma is to go cheap and flavorless, or expensive and half-decent. It's criminal. Disappointed and frustrated by our finds, and longing for something more flavorful, we turned to the kitchen for results.

My first thought was for a family recipe. Unfortunately, my Italian Grandmother is far from the stereotypical master cook, and her "secret" recipe involved doctoring up a jar of ragu with some sausage. There went that thought.

Our next try was a disastrous concoction Ryan made early in our dating lives. He was a bit heavy-handed with the salt- and then, worse, the sugar. It pretty much was a do-over, with painful lessons learned. A later recipe we found in Cooks Illustrated proved tasty and developed a darker flavor than a traditional sauce- and also a chunky consistency that is great with a larger noodle- but is a lot of work over a stove, and not ideal for weekly meals, or for freezing.

Finally, a friend of mine taught me her family's sauce- a simple, clean recipe that could simmer with relatively little intervention, and was ideal for making in large batches and freezing. This is the recipe I'm happy to share with you now, with a few of my own flavor tweaks tossed in. One batch will sauce 4 boxes of pasta, and keeps really well in the freezer.

Good ol' italian "gravy":

2 28-oz cans of peeled tomatoes
(Use san marzano or other imported tomatoes for best quality- I like La Squisita)
2 28-oz cans of crushed or pureed tomatoes
2 healthy handfuls of fresh chopped basil
1 healthy handful of fresh chopped parsely
1 handful of dried of fresh oregano
Dashes of marjoram, thyme, and rosemary
3 garlic coves peeled & minced
olive oil
up to 1/2 can of water
splash of wine
sea salt & pepper
Pecorino & Parmeggiano cheese to grate on top

1. Coat bottom of a sauce pot with olive oil. Add garlic and saute, then add in parsley to the oil. Allow garlic to brown.
2. Start pouring in the peeled tomatoes, stirring after each can. Once all 4 cans are in the pot, mix in the basil, oregano, marjoram, thyme, and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. Add a little bit of water to mixture to ease thickness.
3. Let simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. Taste sauce after an hour of simmering, and adjust flavor as desired. If too tangy, mix in a pinch of sugar.
4. Continue to allow to simmer for up to another hour, or longer, for deeper flavors. Stir in a splash of a dry italian red, such as chianti, when you are close to serving.
5. Store remaining sauce for future uses!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ryan finally agrees to try a Greek restaurant...


We went here last night with two good friends from Astoria. Having never ventured to this little pocket of NYC before, we were excited to check out a new 'hood, and of course, a new restaurant! Despite the heat and humidity, we just couldn't pass up dinner in the enchanting grotto of a garden. The greek salad, cheese, and mussels were all amazing for appetizers, and the entrees did not disappoint! I had a ravioli special that involved truffle oil- the portion was perfect for this rich dish, and the flavors really stood out. Ryan had a hanger steak, but the real winning plate was a lamb that just blew my mind. Not being a very big lamb fan, this will be my order next time around!! A wonderful introduction to a new neighborhood, and a great way to remember summers in greece!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

August Dining....

Here are some quick reviews of the eating & drinking I've been doing over the past month...

Barolo- 8/16-This restaurant looked old and outdated. The SoHo location and backyard- which has previously been described as "transporting" and "romantic"- looked more like a concrete patio than ever. This photo must have been taken much earlier in its life. The Italian food was bland, bland, bland, and the fish gave my husband food poisoning. Never Again.

Kittichai- Awesome
atmosphere, awesome food. This Thai-inspired restaurant had some killer dishes. I had an appetizer of tuna tartar, and my husband had a seabass tempura that was insanely good. The other members of our party were equally pleased with all the dishes. For my entree I had the steak, which was well-flavored and spicy. My uncle had a fish curry that was presented with the whole fish wrapped around the dish. After dinner, we had drinks on the rooftop bar A60, which is labeled as "members and guests" only- but we had no issue getting up there. The view is killer- including the Empire & Chrysler buildings- and it wasn't overly crowded for a Friday night. I'll be back.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I was always bad at keeping a diary, too....

River Cafe
For my birthday Ryan & I ventured to a Brooklyn institution. Located under the Brooklyn Bridge with great views of lower Manhattan, the River Cafe seemed the perfect bon voyage meal. We loved the bar, with live piano player, and the setting is really fantastic. The food... had highs and lows, but the service for me was the biggest disappointment. Ryan started with a special appetizer featuring some tuna tartar, shrimp, and crab. I had a summer salad with melon that was my favorite dish of the night. For our entrees, Ryan had the lobster, and I had the chicken. Though both were good, neither made our knees knock. As for service, the sommelier seemed in a hurry, and our waiter was disinterested. The couple immediately next to us, however, seemed a priority, and continually received better service. They were sent over champagne when they sat down, were visited frequently by the head waiter and given detailed descriptions of items on the menu- it was really bizarre. Even though Ryan had informed the restaurant it was my birthday, our waiter didn't know who to give the complimentary chocolates to- and had to ask. Overall, I wasn't that impressed. After fabulous meals this year at Babbo and Del Posto, where I felt treated like a queen, this just didn't cut the mustard. Considering the menu is prix-fixe, one would expect the service to be just as fantastic for all guests willing to shell out $98 per person!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Eating and Drinking Exploits: January 2009

I thought I'd start off with a month in review for January. I have been very busy getting my food and drink on in an attempt to pass the winter nights. Here's our latest adventures:

1) Dressler- South Side Williamsburg, Brooklyn-

By far one of my favorite restaurants in the city right now. This was my third trip to Dressler, and I am head-over-heels for their food. The atmosphere is romantic and upscale, but still retains a casual neighborhood-vibe. The prices are great given the fact that the restaurant sports a michelin star, and the food can't be beat!

I love the raviolini appetizer stuffed with butternut squash. The dish is savory and satisfying, featuring the flavors of sage, parmesan, and mushroom. For my entree, I had the chicken, which is served with dumplings and swiss chard. My husband likes the short rib & hanger steak, which features two cuts of meat on one plate. The food really plays to the flavor of umami: savory, salty, and buttery. Everything is well seasoned and full-flavored.

My only complaint, after three visits, is the service is considerably less than sparkling. We have had delayed entrees, long gaps between service for dinner and dessert, and the staff definitely could take some notes from their peers at Union Square Cafe or Cru. But, the food is too good to stay away, and the price is soooo right for the quality. I'll be back!

2- Cru- 5th Avenue and 9th street

For Ryan's birthday, we thought we would try Cru, a well-known wino's heaven. The wine lists are bible-sized leather binders, one for white and one for red, and really fun to try and taste from. We really liked a glass of the barolo ($35) and enjoyed the sommelier's wine pairings for our meal. The bar is right in the front, and is quite dark. I was surprised by how well lit the dining room was. I definitely liked the vibe at the bar better- more intimate and less formal. The prix-fixe menu in the dining room starts at $78 for three courses, and we paired it with wine. I had a similar appetizer to the Dressler butternut ravioli, but featured some foam on top that actually tasted really good. Ry opted to try the extravagant black truffle pappardelle, which came with an entire black truffle sliced on top. No complaints there, and worth every penny of the supplement. If you like truffle, this is not to be missed.

Our entrees were a bit disappointing, but I think that is partly in comparison to how much we loved the wine and appetizers. Ry had the veal and I tried a beef entree that was paired with marrow. (Tried a similar dish at Landmarc- the marrow has a buttery flavor that is really awesome). Ry's veal came with some sweetbreads that we both bravely tasted. I actually really liked it- sort of like a gourmet chicken finger, lol. Desserts were good, I opted for a cheese plate, and ry had 2 desserts (one on the house- they also offer a free amuse bouche course...)

Unlike Dressler, the service was top notch and we walked out feeling like we had a truly special meal. I don't know if I'll splurge again for the dining room (but it was well worth it for a one-night-only blow out), but I'll be back at the bar sampling the wines for sure!

3) Planet Thai- williamsburg, N. 7th street- this is an old joint we used to frequent a lot when we first moved here 5 years ago. We haven't been in a year or two, and thought we'd take some friends. I was shocked at how dingy the place seemed these days- nasty bathrooms, poor service, and mediocre food. I think it might be time for a reinvention of this early 'burg spot. Never again.

4) Motorino- Williamsburg- Graham & Devoe Street- One of my new favorite local spots- inexpensive and delicious, and great for any night of the week. I really like the soppresseta pizza, the arugula, fig, and blue cheese salad, and OMG the tiramisu is amazing. Check this place out! See ya next week.

5) 10 Downing- 6th avenue and downing street- cute, but not my favorite. Every item on the menu seems to involve a mystery ingredient- thank god for top chef. I had a sunchoke soup and my entree was... forgettable, seeing as I don't remember what I had, lol. Ry tried the arctic char, everything was very clean and light flavors- which admittedly is not our palate. I bet this place will be mobbed come warm weather with its prime locale. Oh wait! I remember. It was the cacio e pepe. Solid, but nothing special. For the tab, go to Dressler or 5 ninth!! Probably not, maybe for drinks or a summer lunch?

6) 5 Ninth- Little W. 12th and 9th ave-

5 Ninth has been on my list of must-tries for at least 2 years. The atmosphere is incredible, in a "bare" townhouse. Very dark and incredibly romantic, try to get a seat by the candle-filled faux fireplace or right by the windows on 9th ave. I hear there is a fantastic garden in summer, too. We skipped the restaurant week menu and opted for the regular one- we split an awesome appetizer of a mushroom gnocchi with parmesan, which was super! For my entree I tried the filet mignon, and Ry had the braised lamb. We were both really happy with our meals and too stuffed for dessert. The service was nice, and overall we had a great meal. We'll be back.