Friday, January 29, 2010

A taste of Argentina

Chimichurri. Ah, you taste like summer sunsets in my mouth. You are warm breezes, torrontes wine, and a tango in the night. I love you so. I put this magic stuff on pork and beef as a marinade, and serve a little extra on the side. The is not as traditional as some- I like to leave the onion and garlic in larger dices, but it can also be thrown into a blender. Also, if I have fresh parsley on hand, I toss that in too.

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
cilantro- 2-3 fistfuls
fresh parsley, if on hand

I promise you, this stuff is like heaven!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Miranda is another local restaurant Ryan and I hit up about once a year. This was probably our third visit. It's funny, because it is never the first place we think of, nor do I ever crave to go back, yet I always enjoy myself while I am there.

I have to complement the amazing customer service that we have had. The waiters are extremely nice, and go the extra mile- pulling out a chair, opening a door, helping a lady into her coat- that seems to have fallen by the wayside in all but the most fancy-pants places. And I don't think that should be the case. It was refreshing, and pleasant, to get a little extra care.

For the food, we'd both already snacked at a nearby bar, so we skipped the appetizers. However, they do offer a prix-fixe menu that was good value, $25, and I would recommend to those with an appetite. I ordered a ravioli pasta in truffle oil, which to me is the magic word. Anything involving a truffle is heaven to my mouth. The pasta did not disappoint. Ryan ordered the short rib of beef, which was very tender. We decided to split a dessert and tried a disappointing flan, which was a bummer, as the rest of the experience was really quite nice! It had the wrong texture and almost no flavor, a major no-no for me. I like my flan a little stiff on the outside, but creamy and soft on the inside. (That's what she said). Just wasn't quite right.

Other than skipping dessert, I would send folks to this spot. I also have to warn, however, that the cycle of forget-remember-forget came full circle when we got the tab, which was really expensive, considering we had two entrees, two glasses of wine, a coffee, and split a dessert. $80 bucks just surprised us, and didn't fit the meal we'd had.

Overall, I have to compliment the restaurant for always feeling romantic and intimate, the great service, and tasty food. Order the prix-fixe, avoid the flan, and I think it would be a very nice evening for anyone.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Fish Tacos with Adobo Mayo and Slaw

This recipe has all my favorite things: lime, chipotle, more lime, adobo pepper, even more lime... It's a bit work intensive, but well worth it for the flavors.

2 tilapia filets
1/2 cup lime juice

Marinate the tilapia for 2-3 hours in the lime juice


1/3 cup lime juice
honey- 2 tblsp
veg oil 1 tblsp
cumin- 1 tsp

Mix glaze in small bowl and set aside.

1 adobo pepper (If dried, heat @ 400 for 5 minutes, remove stems and seeds and soak in hot water)
2-3 chipotle peppers
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic
1/3 tsp cayenne
squeeze lime

Blend mayo ingredients in cuisinart until smooth, adjusting chipotle pepper and other seasonings to taste.

shredded red/ white cabbage
shredded carrots
shredded kohlrabi
rice wine vinegar
adobo mayo (see above)

Mix slaw and other ingredients in a bowl, set aside.

Cook fish, either grilling or in a pan. We like to bread it with flour and italian bread crumbs, salt and pepper, and cook it in the pan. After finished cooking, glaze each piece with glaze mixture, and cut into small pieces.

To make tacos:
pre-heat tortillas in oven.

Place handful of slaw, pieces of the fish, and a dollop of mayo in tortilla, sprinkle with cilantro.

We like to serve this dish with yellow rice, margaritas, and our favorite salsas!!!

Oh yeah, and a garnish of... lime.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My favorite holiday: Restaurant Week!

Twice a year, life just gets a little better. Why, you may ask? What is this special time that makes you tingle, Mrs. Dever? It's NYC restaurant week, and if you aren't going, get going! Ryan and I started going to restaurants back when I was still in college (READ: poor), and always felt like it was a great way to check out places we otherwise could not afford. Over the past five years or so, we've eaten at:

China Grill
One if by land, Two if by sea
5 Ninth
Rosa Mexicano
Calle Ocho
central park boathouse
smith & wollensky's
fig & olive
tribecca grill

The memories with friends have been great, as have the dates that Ry & I have gone on. Some of these places have become favorites- fig & olive is by far one of my favorite bars to have a glass of wine and a snack at, whereas others were nice once, but we probably wont be back (One If by Land, for example...) More recently, we haven't always stuck to the restaurant week menu, but it is still the best excuse I've got to go to some of these great restaurants!!

So, another restaurant week season is upon us- and another opportunity to have good food and wine with the people we love. I'm thinking this year about checking out another one of two- so if you are interested, give me a shout! No matter what, get on it, because tables book fast!

Mushroom and Chipotle Quesadillas

So, as part of my pledge to eat less meat, I have been searching out hearty and flavorful foods that would be easy to make in vegetarian and carnivorous servings, one for me, and one for my must-eat-meeeeaaat husband. Hence this quesadilla recipe. I've made them before, and they are super yummy, but a bit work intensive. I make them in advance and keep them warm in the oven until dinner.

Flour tortillas
mexican cheese mix (Or go authentic and buy several quesos and grate your own!)
red onion
cherry tomato (organic, a splurge, I know)
2 chipotle peppers- if dried, heat at 400 degrees til puffy (a few minutes) then soak in warm water. Discard water, chop and remove stem and seeds. wear gloves, as the spice WILL get in your hands, and not leave for a long time.
bella mushrooms- I went farmers market fresh on these and did not regret it. Amazing flavor, very tender.
(chicken browned in butter with chili powder and cumin)
Pam cooking spray
hot sauce
sour cream or guacamole if desired

I spray the pan with Pam and both the tortillas- I find Pam does a better job than butter of holding up in the slow-heat method required to make these. Dice up the veggies, and prep the chipotle.

Heat the pan over LOW heat. Place the tortilla in the pan, sprinkle in a handful of each desired ingredient. Top with second tortilla. Let the ingredients soften and watch for the cheese to start to melt. Gently tap down the edges of the top tortilla to seal in the goodness, and when sealed, flip. Let tortillas get a light golden brown color, but avoid cooking them until crispy.

Rinse and Repeat. Much like a grilled cheese, the challenge is getting the insides gooey without burning the outsides!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dilemmas: "Brunch"

As I've been spending some time thinking about the food I eat, I figured it would be fun to deconstruct a meal and really try to trace it back to the earth. It seemed like a good idea to start simple, so I picked todays "brunch": Eggs, salad, and toast.

Now I would rate this as a fairly healthy meal: I scramble the egg whites in a little Pam or butter, and dress the salad with a tsp of olive oil and splash of vinegar. According to weight watchers, this is only 3 points worth of food. Also, thanks to the protein-veg-carb combo, it feels nice and balanced. That's always my favorite way to eat, and meals just feel better when I have one of each on my plate.

I started my deconstruction with the salad. The lettuce is earthbound farms, so organic, but not so eco-friendly, as it is shipped from the west coast, just like the tomatoes I put in as well. Roasted red peppers from a jar, a little salt and pepper, pinch of italian seasoning, a tsp of organic olive oil I brought back from italy, and a little balsamic vinegar rounded it out. So far, its been relatively easy to trace my food to its source. And all these foods, upon label inspection, contain only recognizable ingredients (For example, vinegar in the roast red pepper jar). I can handle that.

Then, a little water with a piece of that california lemon- so far, I'm a real gas guzzler, but nutritionally, this is headed in the right direction. And NYC water... well, god only knows that ingredient list.

I'm now thinking I need some protein, so I reach for nellie's eggs, the cage-free range-roamin' brown hens. Nellie is from new hampshire, so a little better than her west coast produce friends. I have to admit, her eggs really are different. I notice that the yolks are a really nice bright yellow, and they are somehow stiffer than a regular egg- I'm guessing its the omega 3 and vitamins in her healthy diet? And the whites fluffed up like nobody's business in my scrambled eggs. So I am digging nellie. And nellie is again, easily traced back to her corn, grain, and grass diet, on a real farm, run by a real family. Cool.

This is the end of the good news. I love hot sauce on my eggs, so a little pinch of red devil, which when I read the label- I am shocked to find contains corn, under the disguise of xanthan gum (the yellow devil?). Now why in gods name do I need some chemical corn in my hot sauce?That's lame. So in attempting to trace my hot sauce to the earth..I have to work my way backwards through a food processing plant that turns corn into xanthan gum. yuck.

An even worse offender was the bread. My husband looooves white bread. His brand of choice? SUNBEAM. So the other night I thought I'd treat him to his favorite. Now, I knew that this was a bleached flour heathen- but I DIDN'T know there is a disturbing 15 ingredients in my "bread", including High Fructose Corn Syrup as the third on the list... so, my bread needs a little sugar now??? Worse, I can only recognize 3 ingredients as real FOODS: flour, water, and yeast. The rest is a list of chemicals. Most of which are corn-derivatives and preservatives. I think. Ew. Bread with a bonus? Indeed.

I put a little butter on my toast and some blackberry jam from smuckers, which low and behold, has MORE high fructose corn syrup (#2), corn syrup #3, and two preservatives. Yeesh. That's a no. There apparently are actual blackberries in it... and a lot of refined corn....

Now my husband is convinced I have been kidnapped by the food police and brainwashed, but this seemingly simple, straightforward meal is riddled with corn! No wonder obesity and type II diabetes is such a huge issue. We're sneaking carbs and sugars into our hot sauce, bread, and jam. Just doesn't make sense to me.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Who doesn't love cookies?? The Following recipes are both classics, but with a little lora dever tweak here and there.

Joy of Cooking Peanut Butter:
Preheat to 375 degrees

Whisk in small bowl:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda

Beat in Bowl:
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup DARK brown sugar (I like to go for "good measure" on this one...)
pinch of salt (personally, I think this is key)

Mix in:
1 large egg
1 cup peanut butter- I'm generous - I like Skippy natural creamy, add in more based on taste
1/2 tsp vanilla- again, splashy splashy

Stir flour mixture into batter, beating as you go. The batter will turn into little dough droplets almost, very crumbly. Shape into 1-inch balls, flatten with a fork. Bake approx. 10 minutes~~!


This is the ultimate classic, right off the bag, with one small difference, thanks to my Grammy Alice. We couldn't quite figure out her secret, and she didn't know what it was, but I finally pegged it down. It's the brown sugar- use Dark brown, instead of regular.

2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla (again, I eyeball this and go a little heavy)
2 large eggs
1 pkg semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Preheat to 375

combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
Beat butter, sugar, vanilla until creamy, then add eggs. Gradually add in flour, and then chocolate. Drop on a cookie sheet, bake 9-11 min, or until golden brown.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Saint-Amours in Bruges

Bruges, Belgium

Ry & I were in Belgium, land of good food, and decided to try one of the more notable restaurants in Bruges, Saint Amours (Also known as 'T Voermanshuys). The restaurant is in a vaulted basement, and very romantic. The main dining room has about ten tables total, and on the evening we were there (In the major off season), it was about half full, all couples. Definitely not a singles scene, and all of us were clearly out-of-towners, so not a locals-joint, either. The cuisine was definitely "Haute"- there was a lot of gelees and ice creams.

Ry and I were served an amuse-bouche that featured several preparations of fish. Now, full disclosure, not my favorite genre, but I tried everything. There was a lobster consumme, that I didn't love, but didn't hate, either. I could detect a nice buttery flavor to the broth. Ry enjoyed it, and the bite of lobster within as well. There was also a piece of white fish, served cold, over a smoked salmon cream. Surprisingly, I enjoyed this quite a lot.

We shared an appetizer of pheasant stuffed with foie gras, which was quite decadent. The pheasant was served cold, and on the side eight or so small deconstruted bites accompanied the dish.

For my entree, I cut to the chase and ordered the steak frites, which was phenomenal. The steak was tender and flavorful, and served with a really nice jus. The frites were by far the best we had on the entire trip. Skinny and salty. Ryan had a haddock in a cream sauce, which was delicate and really clean.

For dessert, I opted for the cheese dish. We were dissapointed to discover they had sold out of the chocolate cake (booo), so Ryan instead chose a pear dish, which was good, but not exactly chocolate, if you know what I mean. The house red and whites were quite nice, but no other wines are available by the glass, though the wine list looked really nice.

For the money, this place was fantastic. We were shocked by how highly-priced and touristy most other restuarants were, so given the fact that We were having 40-plus euro lunches, we thought this place was a steal- I think all said and done, it was around 150 euro. If you ever find yourself in Bruges, I'd definitely check it out!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It's not easy being green...

So my latest read forces the question: How much can you know about the state of practices in our food industry and still blindly buy their products? The omnivore's dilemma- choosing what to eat- effects everyone, everyday. It used to be debating if a mushroom in the forest would be tasty or deadly, now it's deciding if a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch has any nutritional value whatsoever, or if the meat being sold to me is clean, and has been produced in a way that respects the rights not only of the animals, but of the workers. Knowing that the answer to both is no, moving forward becomes tricky, especially with my rather carnivorous husband, who feels that meat is a food that should be present at almost every meal.

For me, these concerns even color my choices from organic markets: organic and sustainable are not the same words, and though the chemical-free lettuce I'm buying shipped from California is better for me, its still at a cost to our environment.

Worse, there are organic farms that still cage up their birds, but feed them "organic" corn- no better than their non-organic peers.

Thus, I find myself a budding "locavore"- an eater of local, sustainably-produced foods from small farms. We certainly have enough of them in upstate NY- why should I be buying produce from 3 or 4 states over, when we are capable of growing the same food right here??

I went shopping today at the Union Square Farmers Market. I wasn't sure what I could find there in winter, but there was a nice selection of apples from NY state orchards, not to mention some mushrooms- baby bella, portobello- and a ton of root vegetables. Fingerling potatoes, red onions and shallots, butternut squash, beets- all still covered in dirt. Definitely plenty of fruit and veg to be had, and all fresh, and compared to what fresh direct or whole foods is whacking me, quite cheap. Two gala apples, not sprayed with fake wax to make them shine, two butternut squash, a handful of mushrooms, and a red onion for $5.70. Cost to the earth? Can't say exactly, but relatively small. No pesticides, no fertilizers, and the distance travelled was within the state, and in most cases, less than 50 miles.

I was thrilled to find cage-free organic eggs in my grocery store last night, but on the other hand, I caved and bought a lemon from california. I love lemons...and even though I've sworn off tomatoes, I bought some organic santa sweet grape tomatoes too, also flown from the southern states. Cost to the earth? Well It's not easy being green....