Friday, July 30, 2010

Smoky Chipotle Corn Chow-DAH

What to do with 7 ears of corn? Excellent question. Answer: Make Corn Chowder!!

2 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (Or canned, in a pinch)
1-2 small dried chipotle pepper*
2 red potatoes
1 white onion, or mix onion and shallot
2 cloves garlic
fresh cilantro
shaved sharp white cheddar or mexican cheese
fresh chive for garnish
cherry tomato, for garnish
1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
capful of olive oil
pinch truffle oil, if on hand
dollop sour cream
splash of milk
1/4 stick butter
salt & pepper to taste

1. In large sauce pot, saute garlic and onion in butter. Sprinkle with cumin, and let the onion sweat, without browning, for a few minutes.
2. Add in vegetable stock, potato, corn, and chipotle pepper*. Bring to boil, let simmer until potatoes are tender.
3. Turn off heat and puree soup in blender or food processor and return to pot. Over low heat, add in olive and truffle oil, sour cream, cheese, salt, pepper, cilantro, splash of milk, and parsley. Allow to cook in.
4. Serve with chives and tomato garnish!

*Dried Chipotle Peppers:
To reconstitute, roast in oven at 400 degrees for approximately 5 minutes, until peppers puff up. Remove and immediately soak in warm water for 20-30 minutes, until soft. Split open and remove seeds and stem. Chop roughly!

Thursday, July 29, 2010


So easy to make and so darn tasty, I have no clue why we ever bought them from a store...

15 slices bread- a good peasant round with a nice crust works well
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons garlic salt
Dash of Paprika


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Brush bread on both sides with melted butter. Cut bread slices up into small cubes. Sprinkle with garlic salt and paprika. Arrange cubes on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until browned. Let cool.
Serve or Store croutons in a covered container or plastic bag.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Vegetable Frittata

Thanks to Lori for inspiring this take on a frittata! I wanted an easy, quick meal, that requires little tending, and would use up some past-prime veggies from our CSA batch. Besides, who can say no to an egg pie? Which is basically what a frittata is- I even made it in a pie plate. Similar to quiche, but minus the massive quantities of butter and sans a crust, frittata is the italian cousin! Enjoy!

Serves 4.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

6 Eggs, lightly beaten
salt & pepper
sliced zucchini
red onion
green pepper
shredded cheddar cheese and mozzarella
swiss chard or spinach
basil and oregano to top
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 piece of bread

1. Beat the eggs and shred the cheese into the mixture. Add in the veggies and toss to coat.
2. In a pie plate, tear up bread pieces and spread around. Pour egg and veggie mixture into plate.
3. Top with herbs, and if desired, more cheese.
4. Bake for about 35 minutes.

I like to top this with a little hot sauce!! Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


With so many little cukes lying around, I figured the time had come to learn about the picklin'! So, always a believer in doing everything in a grand fashion the first time around...I am going to make pickles three different ways. I settled on Dill pickles (inspired in part by 2 bunches of dill from the CSA), bread and butter pickles, and an asian-style pickle, just to kick it up a notch.

Now, being lazy, and seeing as it is 100 degrees out and standing over boiling water is not my idea of fun, I have decided to make refrigerator pickles- They'll still keep in canning jars, but only be good when kept in the fridge, and for a few months, compared to proper canning technique which would keep on a shelf for up to a year. That will have to wait for another (cooler) day....

Ok, ready, set... pickle!

Dill Refrigerator Pickles- 2 Quart- size jars worth!

cucumbers, cleaned and quartered or halved, or even whole, 2-3, depending on size
1/2 tbslp Pickling Spice*
1 bunch dill
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 tblsp salt
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
Optional: 3-4 whole cloves of garlic

*Pickling Spice
Buy in stores, or, as I did, make your own:

1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp red pepper- cayenne
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tbsp whole clove
1/4 tsp celery salt
pinch tumeric

1. toast the peppercorns, mustard seeds, and coriander seeds over low heat- make sure to put a lid on them, they will jump out of the pan as they heat up! Stir them a few times, and after a few minutes, remove from heat.
2. Crack the seeds with the flat end of a knife.
3. Combine all the spices in a bowl.

1. Put the bunch of dill at the bottom of the jar. Cut cucumbers and add into the jars. If using garlic, slide in between the cucumbers.
2. In a sauce pan, combine the water, white vinegar, peppercorns, pickling spice, and salt. Bring to a boil, and let boil for 3 minutes. Turn off heat and allow brine to cool to room temperature.
3. Pour brine into jars, seal, shake lightly, and put in fridge.

Wait patiently for....2-3 weeks...


Pickles- Asian Style

2 medium size cucumbers, cut into thin slices
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
little bit of water to dilute
2 tsp tamari soy sauce
juice of 2 limes
handful of fresh cilantro
1 shallot, rouchly diced
1 whole clove garlic
1/2 tsp red curry paste
dash siracha
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cucumber, sliced into thin circles

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Layer shallot, garlic, cilantro in bottom of jar, then put in cucumber slices. Pour in the lime juice. In a separate bowl mix vinegar, sugar, and red curry paste, allow sugar to dissolve. Pour into jar to cover cucumber slices. Shake well and allow to marinate for a day or more!

Good news: Ready overnight, but flavors only get better with additional days!

Bread & Butter Pickles

2-3 medium cucumbers, sliced thin
1/2 white onion, sliced thin
1/4 salt
2 cups cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp tumeric
1 clove garlic

1. Place a thin layer of cucumber and onion in a bowl and cover with some of the salt. Create a second layer and salt. Fill bowl with water to cover, and set aside 1-2 hours in fridge.
2. Rinse cucumbers and onion thoroughly with water and drain
3. In small pot, bring cider, sugar, spices, and garlic to a boil, and simmer 3 minutes. Let cool.
4. Layer cucumber and onion in jar, and pour brine over it. Seal and refrigerate.

Wait 2 weeks... and see what happens!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Grilled Zucchini Quesadillas

This recipe was one of those creative moments: friends were smoking up some ribs, and I needed a vegetarian entree for myself that would still somehow make them all jealous of how delish MY food was. I was actually really pleased with how these turned out- a friend who ate both ribs and quesadillas was really into them, and quite surprised that they didn't taste "thrown together" or liked "second best". I totally agree- it's awesome when vegetarian food and flavor combine for something meat-eaters might pick to eat- OVER meat! Hehehe.

Vermont Sharp white Cheddar cheese, grated
cherry tomato
fresh zucchini, sliced thin
pickled jalapeno slices
green bell pepper
wheat wraps

Layer the cheese and vegetables in the quesadilla, then fold in half and wrap in a piece of tinfoil. Grill, just about a minute or two per side, and then check to see that cheese is melted. Serve with a favorite hot sauce! The cheese was nice and melty, the veggie flavors really strong and wonderful, and the grill made the tortillas just the right amount of crispy!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burger

When the days are this hot, there is but one cooking option: Grilling. Some essential recipes;

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burger:

For 1-2 mushroom caps

1/2 cup Medium-bodied red wine, I used a french Syrah blend
1 garlic clove
1 shallot
hearty sprinkle thyme
6 whole black peppercorns

1. Prepare mushroom by washing lightly, removing stem and scraping out the gills. Poke with a fork to create tiny holes all over surface, but be careful not to break the mushroom cap.

2. In sauce pan, combine garlic, shallots, wine, thyme, and black pepper. Season with salt, bring to a slow boil, and simmer for a few minutes until aromatic.

3. Add mushroom into marinade and let simmer until mushroom is tender. Then grill 5 minutes on each side, until browned and juicy.

4. Serve on a toasted bun with tomato, arugula, and red onion!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Jalapeno Pesto

5 jalapenos-roasted*, seeded, peeled, chopped- (for god's sake, add to taste, don't be a moron like me....)
2 cups cilantro
1 cup basil
1 cup mint
2 cloves garlic
2 tblsp pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
Parmesan & pecorino cheese, or even better, a mexican cheese like cortijo or oaxaca
1/4 lemon- sprinkle juice

To taste, TO taste, TO TASTE: this is the motto I am incapable of following.. Grr, argh. So, This recipe is definitely still in progress- I made it holy moly flaming hot, but we managed to salvage it with lots of olive oil, a little mint, more cilantro, cheese.... and it was still hot! BUT I really did think it tasted quite good- especially after hitting it with a little lemon juice.

So, carefully combine all the herbs, pine nuts, and garlic in a processor first, and then add in the jalapeno to taste, along with the olive oil. Adjust seasonings to taste, and add cheese- both into the pesto and as garnish. Voila!

*Roasting peppers:

Not as tricky as it sounds or seems. Place peppers in an oven-safe dish, fire the oven up to 400 degrees, and roast about 40 minutes, until the skins start to blacken and the peppers soften. It is optional to put a little oil on them and in the pan, but olive oil is of course delicious and adds flavor- same goes for roasting garlic alongside the peppers as well. Make sure to turn them every so often so all sides are cooked evenly.

Friday, July 23, 2010

BBQ Sauce & Ribs in a smoker....

So my beloved husband loves his meat, as do, I know for sure, many of my readers. And so, here is one for him and his carnivorous friends to drool over! Though I did not try the ribs, Ryan exclaimed them more or less the 'best he's had'- short of a business trip down to Memphis a few years back. Thanks to our friend Eric, for using his smoker to make them even better.

BBQ Sauce:
1 cup ketchup
1 cup water
4 tablespoons molasses
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon or spicy brown mustard
2 tablespoons light/dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco®)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Whisk the ketchup, water, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, mustard, brown sugar, salt, hot pepper sauce, garlic, and black pepper together in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and continue cooking at a simmer, stirring together, another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Allow to cool and use, or better yet, pour into a glass jar and store uncovered in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight. This allows the flavors to blend and reduce any sharpness from the vinegar.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Banana Smores

This past weekend in Vermont was a culinary free-for-all, and we made some amazing dishes. Roasted beet salad, grilled corn, zucchini quesadillas, smoked BBQ ribs for the meat-eaters, black bean and corn salad, tzatziki, jalepeno pesto pasta, fresh homemade french toast, and pudding pie- and then these little bad boys, Banana S'mores. It was glorious gluttony and my tastebuds were very, very happy. Many of these recipes have already, and will, appear on this site over the coming days, I've had trouble keeping up with posts at the rate I've been cooking. But We'll get to them all someday soon, I promise.

For today, the banana s'more. What is it? Well, this comes from my camping trip out to Western Canada a few years back- and though there are many things that make the Canadians sort of silly, this one is sheer genius.

ripe bananas
chocolate of preference
graham crackers

Take a banana and slit it, through the peel, right down the middle. Stuff the banana with marshmallow, pieces of chocolate, and crumbled bits of graham cracker. Wrap in tinfoil, and throw on a grill, or better yet, in a raging campfire- and allow to cook for several minutes. Let cool, and then open and eat the gooey awesomeness that is basically a banana-split-s'more!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Roasted beet salad with Asian Vinaigrette

This salad was an amazing addition to a summer picnic! So much flavor, and easy to make!

1 bunch of beets- I went for the small ones, delicate and tender
6 cloves garlic- leave whole
salt & pepper
olive oil- 2 capfuls, about 2 tblsp
red and green leaf or mesclun lettuce
almonds or walnuts
Asian Vinaigrette

Roast Beets & Garlic

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim and reserve greens for another use, and scrub beets. Cut off ends of beets.
2. Arrange beets in small casserole dish with cloves of garlic. Toss with the olive oil, and salt and pepper. Coat well.
3. Roast in oven on top rack for about 40 minutes, stirring vegetables every so often. Beets are done when they are tender and can be pierced easily by a fork.
4. Peel the beets and slice paper thin.
5. Mince the garlic.
6. In a bowl, combine lettuce, sliced beets, nuts, and garlic.

Asian Vinaigrette:

Olive oil
4 shakes tamari or soy sauce
Capful of apple cider vinegar
small amount of dijon or spicy brown mustard

Mix in bowl, beginning with the olive oil- then adding and tasting other ingredients, should be a light brown color when finished!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Refreshing Corn & Black Bean Salad

We had some leftover black beans from enchiladas, and leftover grilled corn from tonight, and so this recipe was just calling my name. Super easy to throw together and clean and refreshing flavors make this an awesome summer salad!

black beans (1 can, or 1 cup)
2 ears grilled corn on the cob
green bell pepper
cherry tomato
1/4 cup red onion
1/2 jalepeno seeded and diced finely
handful cilantro
several splashes of your favorite hot sauce (I'm a devote user of Cholula)
generous shake of cumin
salt and pepper
1/2 lime

Dice up the veggies in a bowl. Season generously and add lime. Mix together well, and adjust lime and jalepeno to balance heat!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Thai Red Curry With Chicken

One of my favorite meals, smells amazing cooking up on my stove! I've heard this version referred to as 'jungle curry'- it has more ingredients than a traditional red curry might, and is creamier. Ryan cooked this up last night for me- what a guy!

green beans or snap peas
red pepper
Several cloves garlic
1-2 tblsp red curry paste- We use Thai Kitchen, pictured above- or you can make your own (This too, coming soon...)
1/4-1/2 yellow onion
2 cans coconut milk (We like Thai kitchen or Taste of Thai)
fish sauce
1/2 lime or kaffir leaves
thai sweet basil/ regular basil
bamboo shoots/ water chestnuts/ baby corn
pinch sea salt
pinch sugar
handfuls fresh cilantro
(chicken breasts)
2 teaspoons olive oil/peanut oil
thumb size piece of grated ginger/ galangal
1- 1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock

1. If cooking with chicken, cook the chicken first in butter and cilantro and reserve.
2. In large saucepan, pour in one can coconut milk and 1-2 tblsp red curry paste, depending on your tolerance for spice. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes.
3. Add vegetables, spices and seasonings, then second can of coconut milk and continue to simmer another 15 minutes.
4. Add chicken, stir frequently, adjust seasonings to taste.

Serve over jasmine rice!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Asparagus Soup with Parmesan Crisp

So, my new favorite source for recipes is Vegetarian Times. I also rely on Dean & Deluca, the Joy of Cooking, and pretty heavily, but of course, in the end, there are always tweaks. This recipe was really great almost as printed, which makes the magazine now..2 for 2 (See the recipe for Red Pepper Sauce Pizza- yowza yummy!)

We halved the original recipe to yield 3 servings vs. 6, so double it back if you want a larger amount!

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
butter, softened
1 tbs. butter
1/2 medium white onion chopped
1 garlic clove
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 bunch fresh asparagus- reserve the tips, split and cut stalks into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/6 cup milk
1/2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest (We find this a palate killer in large quantities and actually put a little less than 1 tsp, maybe more of a 1/2 tsp? So lemon zest to your taste!)
salt and pepper

For Crisps:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put dollop of butter on a baking sheet and then a mound of the grated cheese, and flatten with a spoon. Bake 3-4 minutes, until cheese melts into lacy rounds. Cool and remove with a spatula.

1. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft, then add in broth, asparagus and thyme, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until the asparagus is tender.

2. Meanwhile, cook tips in boiling water until just tender, about 2 minutes. (I may have opted to steam these). Drain and rinse under cold water to stop cooking.

3. Puree soup in food processor, return to pan, and stir in lemon juice and zest and milk, Season with salt and pepper to taste, Serve with asparagus tips and crisps!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cucumbers Every Way: Salad, Soup, and Dips from one tasty vegetable!

I was never a big fan of cucumbers, but after a trip to Greece, I really fell in love with them. So, when we received three pounds of cucumbers from our CSA, I was actually pretty happy! I've been making cucumbers into salads, soups, and dips, and thought I'd share the recipes!

Greek Salad:
(I love to make this when I get tired of lettuce-based salads- it's a great break!)

tomato- the riper, the better!!
red onion
green pepper
fresh oregano- lots. Throw on some marjoram too, if you have it around...
red wine vinegar
olive oil
Kalamata Olives (If you're feeling fancy now...)

Chop the veggies roughly and combine in a salad bowl. Top with feta and herbs, and then dress with red wine vinegar and olive oil. Voila.

Green Gazpacho:

Chilled soups are sooo refreshing on hot sumer nights. Not to mention, not needing a stove saves the house from heating up, too. Despite my heavy hand on the jalepeno, this went quickly on a muggy evening!

1 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded
handful of green pepper
1 cup onion (red or white- or a blend, as I did)
2 pieces of white bread or insides of french or italian bread, no crust
1-2 slices of jalapeno*

*(So of course, I put way too much jalapeno- which is my MO, and so I had one helluva spicy blend. I threw in half of a pepper- and left the seeds. Major no go raw. (I always forget the raw part really changes the intensity!) So the recipe now just calls for a slice or two. As always... to taste, is key....!)

1 large clove garlic
tomato- for the green version, just a sprinkle (could be garnish), or my substitution: a 5.5 oz can of V8
handful fresh cilantro
handful fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
2 tblsp olive oil
splash of red wine vinegar
Dollop of sour cream (optional)
2-3 ice cubes

1. Start with the bread: run under tap water so it gets mushy, squeeze out excess. Beat to pulp in the food processor. Then add in the other ingredients and season and blend to taste. Don't think the bread bit is crazy- this is what gives gazpacho its consistency (Gazpacho is derived from the Arabic word for bread, so I've heard).

Once finished, chill for several hours with 2-3 ice cubes in the bowl. Serve! Top with more veggies, mint, sour cream, or radish!

Chilled Cucumber and Dill Soup

1 1/2 cucumbers, peeled and seeded
1- 2 tblsp fresh dill, chopped, to taste
1/4 cup onion- scallions are even better, if you have them on hand!
1 clove garlic
squeeze of lemon
2 tblsp olive oil
1/8 cup chopped walnuts or almonds
1 tblsp sour cream (to thicken, if desired/needed)
1 cup greek-style yogurt (I use Fage)
generously season with salt and pepper

Blend ingredients in food processor until smooth, adjust seasonings and chill for several hours. Garnish with mint, parsley, radish, or nuts.


This is basically a dip version of the soup above, although if you use more sour cream than yogurt, it will have a thicker dip-like consistency (but at the cost of more calories- your call!) Another great gift from the Greeks- this is awesome with pita bread, or as a sauce for kebabs!

1 large cucumber- peeled, seeded, and allowed to sit salted in a colander for about 30 minutes
3-4 tablespoons fresh dill
1 tablespoon fresh mint
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
squeeze of lemon
salt and pepper- generous shake
no more than 1 raw garlic clove- to taste, or boil for 10 minutes, then use 2-3 to taste
1 pint greek-style yogurt (2 cups)

In a food processor, blend up. Taste and adjust salt, pepper and garlic seasonings. Refrigerate!

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Brunch is one of my favorite meals, right up there with 'supper'- and luckily, Brooklyn is all about brunch! This week I went with a friend to check out the hot new brunch spot- Egg- which is famously good and notoriously a long wait. We decided to try it on a friday rather than the weekend, and we only had to hang out for about 20 minutes to snag a table. The restaurant is really cute and simple- and the food is the star.

Egg has its own farm upstate, and works with a local dairy and bakery, so everything is fresh and organic. The coffee comes in french presses- and damn it was good! (Pardon the french!) It was also nice to have a refill waiting for me when i wanted it. I ordered the french toast- which is made using brioche from Amy's Bread, one of the yummy bakeries in the city. I opted to top it with fresh berries- currants, blueberries, and raspberries. A big yes from me. My friend went with the eggs- she had them scrambled, and with a side of five grain toast, hash browns, and a carmelized grapefruit with mint. We really enjoyed it- and I spied my next order on the menu: Eggs Rothko- two sunny side up eggs with grafton cheddar cheese on a brioche roll. I'll be back for that, like, next week!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cherry Pie

The summer of pies continue. I am seriously considering switching careers... lol. Anyhoo, I decided to tackle cherry pie, a bit of a formidable foe thanks to having to pit the cherries. But with a partner, it was quick work- I used a tweezer to poke through the stem and find the pit and push it out, Ryan preferred a sharp knife. I've heard that paper clips work well- but didn't try it. We did try a chopstick, which was a major fail, so don't listen to that advice.

1 1/2 cups pastry flour
1 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
5-6 tablespoons ice water

Combine flour & salt with a whisk. Add in butter and combine with a fork until crumbly. Drizzle water and shape into a ball. Refrigerate in Saran wrap for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. (My oven runs HOT. Some folks do this @ 425)

5 cups cherries, pitted and halved
3/4 cup sugar (Increase if using tarter cherries)
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tblsp cornstarch
squeeze lemon juice

Roll out dough, add filling to center, and top with dollops of butter. Then complete with lattice crust. Bake @ 400 for 20-30 minutes, checking crust for burning. Some folks brush butter or milk on top of the crust, this works too. Then turn down to 325 degrees for an additional 30 minutes. Basically, over an hour, let the pie cook, and turn down the oven when the crust burns at that degree. This is an art and not a science, and so I suggest checking the pie about every ten minutes! It's done when the crust is a deep brown color and the filling bubbles through!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Red Pepper Pizza

I should really call this Red Pepper Sauce Pizza, because that more accurately describes the yumness. Like most Brooklyners, Ryan and I are huge fans of pizza, but were looking for a new spin- and this recipe, from Vegetarian Times, hit the spot. No tomato sauce- crazy concept- but a red pepper coulis instead! It was a whole new pizza world.

We use Fresh Direct's- but I'd imagine Boboli works too. I also can find some other brands in the freezer section- look next to the frozen rolls and bread. Haven't tried making my own yet, but that is coming soon.


2 large red bell peppers
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
black pepper
fresh or dried oregano
2 small yellow zucchini
2 ripe tomatoes
salt & pepper

In a food processor, zap one and a half of the red peppers, the onion and garlic until smooth. Strain over a bowl and discard the juice.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Grease two baking sheets and roll out dough. Top with the red pepper coulis mixture, and then pieces of pepper, zucchini, tomato, mozzarella, oregano, and capers. Ryan put Capicolla on his as well for the meat lovers out there.

Bake about 10 minutes.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


I was debating if the role of this blog should be to simply recommend and review the places I've enjoyed, or if I should also include a review of a place I would not suggest to others? I've already listed pros and cons of places, or said a restaurant might be better for just appetizers and drinks, or just dessert- but this would be my first out-and-out pan. Well, since I'm writing, I suppose I've decided that yes, the role of this blog is to record my eating adventures, and in this case, misadventure- and so here is my review of 'Mode'.

To start at the beginning: Ryan had read several early reviews of this new spot that said the food was great, and the live jazz spilling out from the bar area made it even more enticing. The interior is dark with a long bar, which features cocktails and several glasses of wine, nothing crazy- a pinot noir, a merlot, and a cabernet sauvignon were available by the glass, all tasty enough. (one early sign that things might be not quite right: the bartender had no idea how much our two drinks were supposed to cost...) Had we known otherwise, this was where our experience hit a high note, and should have come to an end. The original plan was to grab a drink and head elsewhere for food, but the menu- handwritten on a chalk board- promised tasty treats: mussels, peppercorn tuna, a mushroom and leek soup, and a goat cheese salad. These are things we like, so we decided to grab a table.

This is where mode went down the commode- the service was sllllloow: it took about forty minutes for my soup to arrive, and the wait staff had to be repeatedly waved down for water refills, more bread, etc. The mushroom leek soup was tasty, though heavy on the mustard, and the leek was overpowered. But maybe it was the forty minute wait and the fact that I was hungry, so it went down just fine. We then waited an additional half hour until the entrees came for the rest of the table, ironically with my salad not coming out with the other plates. The owner stopped by at this point to offer us desserts on the house! Which we thought was very nice, and made us feel slightly better. However, the food just didn't win us over. Ryan said the burger was just ok- and did not live up to some of the others in the area (dumont, le barricou, etc etc) My friend Liz had a pasta with fresh vegetables and a light cream sauce, which was at best... safe, but she enjoyed it. My salad eventually arrived, and though the goat cheese was nicely puffed in pastry, the greens were overdressed. (Seems picky, but after and hour and a half wait, it should at least be perfect....)

The free desserts, again, sounded good, but took an additional half hour to come to our table (Yes, for those of you doing the math, this dining experience was well over two hours....)There was a truly good raspberry coulis with vanilla ice cream which was a sleeper crowd pleaser, a decent creme brulee, a so-so apple pie, and what I felt was a less-than-yummy flourless chocolate cake, though I am not a fan of the genre to begin with.

To top of the tale, I ended up with a 24 hour, uh... stomach ache, we'll call it to be polite on a food blog- that pretty much sealed the deal for me on this place. But, an ever-optimist, I would say... the jazz was lovely if a bit loud at times- and a cocktail can't hurt anybody. But don't let the charming atmosphere and chalked specials lure you in!!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Blueberry Pie

Oh man, if you could only smell the awesome deliciousness cooking up in my house right now... WE love blueberry pie. By far my favorite of all summer goodness, Ryan is unwilling to share them often and has been known to quite aggressively bogart pieces even when he does. So, without much more fanfare or self-adulation, here is the recipe. Enjoy!

1 1/2 cups pastry flour
1 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
5-6 tablespoons ice water

Combine flour & salt with a whisk. Add in butter and combine with a fork until crumbly. Drizzle water and shape into a ball. Refrigerate in Saran wrap for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. (My oven runs HOT. Some folks do this @ 425)

2 pints blueberries, washed and stemmed
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tblsp cornstarch
squeeze lemon juice

Roll out dough, add filling to center, and top with dollops of butter. Then complete with lattice crust. Bake @ 400 for 20-30 minutes, checking crust for burning. Some folks brush butter or milk on top of the crust, this works too. Then turn down to 325 degrees for an additional 30 minutes. Basically, over an hour, let the pie cook, and turn down the oven when the crust burns at that degree. This is an art and not a science, and so I suggest checking the pie about every ten minutes!

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream, and garnish with sprigs of mint!!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Vanderbilt

Renee has been wanting to try The Vanderbilt for some time, and I was more than happy to oblige her and come eat along. I am also falling in love with this neighborhood (Prospect Heights)- so it was fun to try one of the local spots. Here is a shot of my train going over the Manhattan bridge- I think it is hilarious that I have to go from Brooklyn --> Manhattan---->Brooklyn to get here, but hey, Renee, and good food, is totally worth it.

We were excited to take advantage of the summer happy hour menu- offered Monday through Friday from 5-7- which includes both cheap drinks and eats. We sipped some $5 glasses of wine- a nice red gamay, and then sampled a few dishes, all which are served 'tapas' style. The first was off the regular menu, a green garden gazpacho ($8), which was just amazing. We tasted zucchini, cucumber, celery, and parsley in the broth, and it was served with a lemon sorbet dollop and topped with scallions and radish. Pretty much every bite was a little party in my mouth. So light and flavorful, and they managed to perform a balancing act with the cucumber so it did not overwhelm the other flavors in the soup. It also had a creaminess to it- almost- which we had originally suspected might be from avocado, but was actually provided by the zucchini, as the waitress informed us.

Round two was the beautiful special salad pictured above- which included grilled peaches, heirloom tomatoes, purslane, basil, ricotta cheese, olive oil, sea salt, pepper, a little bit of fennel, and onion- and wowza. I can't believe this was my first grilled peach encounter, but ladies and gentleman, it will NOT be my last, that is for sure! What a phenomenal treat- both Renee and I agreed that this was pretty much a little slice o' heaven, and I was really loving it!! (PS: My food porn skills are growing nicely, this shot actually looks pretty appetizing and cool, right?!?!)

For our third and final course, we shared one of the happy hour menu items- a spring vegetable risotto ($8). There were several herbs in the parmesan risotto- including mint- which every now and then gave a nice (and surprising) burst of flavor to the dish. The vegetables included carrots, peas, and fava bean, and scallion and radish was again the perfect garnish to the flavors.

All in all, I could not complain about my experience. The food was amazing, way gourmet for the price- and introduced me to a bunch of new flavor combos and foods, which was extraordinary. Purslane, grilled peach, and mint in risotto are all now on my list of to-eat as often as possible. Kudos to this place- and I highly recommend it!!