Saturday, January 29, 2011


Last night Ry and I ventured out in the cold and post-snow slush to celebrate what might be considered my favorite holiday: Restaurant Week. This time we tried Shang- Chef Susur Lee's NYC spot at the Thompson Hotel on the LES. After watching him on Top Chef and reading up on the restaurant, I was prepared to try some amazing things, including the dish in the photograph- Singapore Slaw.

Singapore Slaw is a salad with 19 ingredients, and though I could not follow as the waiter rattled them all off, my tastebuds were tickled and thrilled-really- by every last one. I don't know if I can name every flavor I came across, but the basics: a crispy, crunchy mee-krob style noodle, with lots of ginger, plum dressing, daikon radish, edible flowers....and at this point, I'm going to have to cheat and google for the rest.

Ohhhh yes: post, googling, I totally remember tasting the pickled onion, the peanuts, the microgreens, and the carrot.

Ryan ordered the restaurant week menu, and his appetizer was a satay trio of chicken, shrimp, and steak. The skewers were topped with a spicy massaman curry and a mint chutney. Ryan thought it was really good, though he enjoyed the shrimp the least.

For our second courses, Ryan ordered the hanger steak which came with wasabi mashed potatoes. Ryan wasn't blown away, and declared it tasty, maybe a little salty, though not the best he's ever had. I tried the mashed potatoes and was disappointed- they were a bit cold and not creamy.

I on the other hand really liked my entree- cantonese wok fried pearl noodles with vegetables. The veggies were crisp- asparagus and pepper and spicy peppers. The noodles were a little heavy and greasy, but it didn't ruin the overall effect of the dish. (Though between the slaw and the noodles, I waaaaay overate.)

Washed down with some sake for Ryan and cava for me, we finished off with a chocolate cake dessert that was actually pretty tasty for a few bites.

I think next time I'd sit at the bar, have a glass of wine and the slaw, and perhaps sample the sushi or other appetizers...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sel de Mer

A few close friends of ours have been singing the praise of this spot for quite some time. I have been a bit reluctant, as the menu is seafood heavy- but decided to try their weekend brunch. The atmosphere is super cute- it reminded me of the cape, with blue walls and pictures of crusty old sailors on the wall. I ordered the blueberry pancakes, which came with fresh whipped cream and syrup, and Ryan had the french toast, which was made from crusty baguette. The coffee was equally wonderful, and we enjoyed everything. I'd love to try some of their other menu items in the future- a vegetable omelet sounded amazing, as did the tofu scramble. Ryan was interested in the lobster mac n' cheese, and of course, we will be back to try the fish and chips. With weather like we've had of late, I think I can see an amazing meal here in our future!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chicken/Veggie Pot Pie

This is one of my all-time favorite middle of winter dishes! And given the sub-zero weather... it seemed perfect for tonight.
HOWEVER... as I started making this masterpiece of a food, it dawned on me about an hour in why I only make it ONCE each winter. So reader, be warned: it's a bit of a beast to make, involving several steps and a lot of dirty dishes, but the payoff is a homemade comfort classic that is amazing!!


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.

Ingredients for Filling:

3-4 carrots
3 stalks of celery
2-3 red potatoes
1/2 can of peas
1/2 can of corn
1/2 large white onion
2 cloves garlic
mushrooms- we had white button on hand, I'd use baby bella too
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 can milk
1/2 can chicken stock
dill, thyme, rosemary, parsley, poultry seasoning
salt and pepper
1/2 stick of butter

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut potatoes and boil until tender
3. While potatoes are boiling, cut the onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and mushroom into small pieces.
4. In a pan over medium heat, melt the butter and add in the veggies. Saute until soft and onions are translucent, careful to not brown.
5. Once veggies soften, add in the can of cream of chicken, the milk, and stock. Season with the herbs and salt and pepper. Be generous with the herbs and pepper (except the rosemary, use that sparingly). Allow to cook over medium heat.
6. In a casserole dish, layer the veggie mix, the potato, the peas and corn. If needed, add in more stock. Top with additional seasonings and then roll out and cover with the crust.
7. Bake in oven for about 40 minutes.

If using chicken:
Cut the chicken into cubes and cook in butter. Shred and mix in with veggie mixture and filling.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Al Di La

We've been hearing amazing things about this place for years. So you can imagine my excitement to finally try it for myself! We have only just begun to explore the restaurants of downtown brooklyn and park slope, and it is high time!

I started off with the Winter White Salad, which had turnip, leek, jerusalem artichoke, salsify, and many other things which I could neither really distinguish nor identify, but truly enjoyed. The salad was lightly dressed with a champagne vinaigrette and topped with a little cheese. It was light and really flavorful.

Our friends, Brian and Kenzie, were with us, and they shared a plate of the polenta with oxtail. Though I did not try the oxtail, the polenta was creamy and savory. Ryan had the mussels in a white wine and garlic sauce, which he really enjoyed.

For our entrees, I had the cosunziei- ravioli pockets filled with red beets and topped with ricotta cheese, which came in a buttery sauce that I mopped up with some bread.

Ryan and Brian had a hanger steak in a balsamic reduction with a side of arugula. Kenzie had the winter white salad and a special Farro soup with winter vegetables. Everything was delicious- and for italian food, pleasingly light.

For dessert, I had the cheese plate, Kenzie tried the homemade sorbet and gelato, and Ryan had the fritoles with chocolate sauce.

If you have a chance, check out this great spot!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Challah French Toast

Ryan is the breakfast master in our house- I make eggs, and can even whip up an omelet, but when I want my breakfast carbs, Ryan is the man. Here is his recipe for challah toast:

Challah Bread (alternate: french white)
4-5 eggs
vanilla- generous pour

Beat the eggs, milk, cinnamon and vanilla together.
Cut bread into even slices.
Soak in egg until well coated.
Put on heated griddle with butter
cook for a few minutes on each side, flipping 3-4 times.
Finished when lightly browned, make sure cooked through!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A craving fulfilled: Pan Fried Tofu "wings"

Thank you, Buffalo Cantina. Thank you for curing a year-long craving. Thank you for being brilliant. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for making delicious pan fried tofu and dousing it in your "hotter" sauce.

Oh, it was a magical evening. A friend told us about these "wings"- and Ry and I immediately went home and ordered up some wings- real for him, tofu for me- and licked our fingers for about ten glorious minutes. It was awesome.

I can swing a veggie lifetime now!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ryan's 30th Birthday Feast: Wild Mushroom Shepard's Pie

In honor of Ryan's birthday, we put together a midwinter's night feast. Wild mushroom shepard's pie with a pinot noir sauce, roast winter vegetables, and a mixed green salad. I hadn't intentionally designed a vegetarian menu for Ryan and our friends, but I was excited to pull it off. Again, this recipe was adapted from Vegetarian Times, with help from our CSA box, the mushroom seller at the local farmer's market, and my own kick-ass techniques for carmelizing onions (courtesy of my class with Purple Kale Kitchen Works).

Wild Mushroom Shepard's Pie
Makes about 8 servings

For potatoes:
-3 lb (about 6) yukon gold potatoes- peeled & quartered
-1/2 stick- 1 stick butter
-1/4 cup heavy cream
-fresh chives
-6 tablespoons grated parmesan and pecorino cheese

For the filling:
-1/2- 1 lb wild mushrooms *
-3 portobello mushroom caps
- 3 white onions- halved and sliced
-balsamic vinegar
-salt and pepper
-pecorino and parmesan cheese
-fresh parsley
-2 cloves garlic

*"wild mushrooms"- this can mean so many things. I originally planned to use a blend of dried porcini and cepe mushrooms, but the mushroom stand at our farmer's market had so many awesome fresh mushrooms to offer, I changed plans. I ended up using piopinni and shiitake mushrooms, which were recommended for their hearty flavors that would stand up nicely to the mashed potato.

1. Boil the potatoes. Drain and return to pot. Add in butter and heavy cream and mash. Season with salt and pepper, chives, and handfuls of pecorino and parmesan cheese.

2. While the potatoes boil, clean the mushrooms with a quick rinse of water (yes, I rinse them with water, no, I do not think this ruins them in any way). Toss them with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Place on a baking sheet, portobellos gill side up. Roast them at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes or until tender. Take out and cool.

3. While potatoes boil and mushrooms roast, heat olive oil in a pan for the onions. Saute over medium-low heat, sweating and not allowing to brown. Salt and pepper, splash with chicken stock, and then cover and cook. After about 40 minutes, once onions become sticky, sprinkle with balsamic vinegar.

4. Slice the portobello thinly. Chop the wild mushrooms and toss with remaining cheese.

5. In casserole dish, create a bottom layer of portobello mushrooms. Add a layer of carmelized onions, then a layer of mashed potatoes. Put wild mushrooms in next layer, the rest of the carmelized onions, the fresh parsley, and top with remaining mashed potato. Grate additional cheese on top layer of potatoes.

6. Bake 40 minutes or until golden. Let cool before serving.

Pinot Noir Sauce:

For a little finishing touch, make this delicious sauce:

1/4 cup pinot noir
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon flour
splash tamari/soy sauce

1. In pan, reduce wine and chicken stock over medium heat. Pour liquid back into measuring cup, melt butter and whisk in flour. Slowly pour back in wine/stock liquid. Add salt and pepper, and tamari, and reduce, about 10 minutes.

Serve sauce over shepard's pie!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Food Hall @ The Plaza

I seem to find myself at the Plaza hotel quite a bit lately, lol. This time, Ryan and I returned to check out Todd English's new venture, the Food Hall. Based on the food halls of Harrods and other European Capitals, this space is more restaurant than lunch counter- but as a theme, it's super fun. First come, first served seats at a variety of counters- including a raw bar, wine bar, sushi table, and grill, offer diners a fun view of the chef's at work. We ended up sitting in the middle of it all, at a communal table. The menu is quite large, and we really wanted a little of everything- artisanal flat breads, pastas, tapas, and more. We finally settled on two menu items and a special. We shared a black truffle, taleggio cheese, and sweet onion flatbread which was outrageously good. My love- our love- of truffles has appeared on this blog before, and the flatbread did not disappoint- thinly shaved slices of truffle melted on top of the cheese and onions- sweet and savory and aromatic. Perfect to share (And fairly priced at $30).

Next up, Ryan ordered the prime rib sliders- which was a large plate, the sliders were not so much bite sized but really decent sized sandwiches- and a plate of three- topped off with a delicious pickle. Ry saved one for a snack later and was quite happy.

I ordered the goat cheese ravioli- served with arugula, roasted red beets, and topped with a little lemon- the arugula and beets were awesome, peppery and sugary and tart, and the ravioli creamy and rich- making for a super well-rounded dish.

Ryan tried a glass of Bordeaux- a 2004 that was really nice.

We enjoyed the atmosphere, we loved the food, and my only regret was being too full for dessert. The couple sitting next to us had "wandered in by chance" and I could only wish to be so lucky for lunch!!

Of final note, a daily happy hour from 5-7 offers several glasses of wine at reduced price as well as a few plates, which seems like a great way to round out an afternoon of shopping or a stop by after the park once the weather gets warm!!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Year in Food

Last year, I posted 122 times on this blog- which really is amazing, seeing as the year prior I topped out at 26!

I remember Fish tacos- one of my favorite summer meals-paired with margaritas- yum!- and springtime pesto, as well as rosemary sugar cookies- top my list of new recipes, though apple sauce and pickles were a blast as well, and delicious, too. One of my send off meals into vegetarianism, Julia Child's Beef Bourginon- was as fun to make as it was to eat. As for restaurants, our trip to Austin offered up some amazing memories, as did probably the best meal I've ever had- At Craigie on Main in Cambridge.

To celebrate the past year in food and posts, A few of my highlights, with the links to the original article:

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Happy New Year! I spent the last meal of 2010 with close friends and Ryan, sampling the 4-course pre-fixe at Traif, a new(er) Williamsburg spot on the south side. (Shout out to Becky who will be proud of me for knowing that 'traif' refers to forbidden foods in Judaism)- and forms the theme-as the website sums up best- as "A nod to shellfish, pork, and soul food". Perhaps you might wonder what I was doing there, seeing as I don't eat any of that either, lol. Well, turns out they can muster up some love for us vegetarians, too, and I have to say, my courses were damn tasty. (Though I fear my kosher friends will have to seek elsewhere to eat...)

First course- for me, a mixed green salad with a round of goat cheese rolled in nuts, which was nice, and included some fruits and pomegranite seeds that added a much needed acidic bite. The goat cheese was too large for the small plate of greens, but was nice and creamy.

Ryan had a plate of tuna tartare and bone marrow, served with a puff pastry- Ryan liked the tartare, but found the marrow undercooked.

The second course, however, picked up steam and was an all-around favorite. I had a curried plate of potato, pineapple, green bean, and brussel sprouts which was sweet and spicy and delicious. The flavors reminded me of sweet and sour sauce in Chinese cooking, a touch of thai hot sauce, and perhaps a bit of a curry flavor like that in Indian dishes- an impressive mix of spice and flavor. I loved it! Julie, our friend, had the same dish but topped with prawns, and she too was really into it.

Ryan and our friend Mike both tried a kobe beef burger with lobster, and a side of truffled french fries. They both marked this as the highlight of their meal, saying the lobster and beef was great, and the fries decadent.

The third course I had was savory- wild mushrooms, brussel sprouts, eggplant in a creamy sauce. I enjoyed it, but wished for some type of grain or starch- perhaps a little pappardelle pasta, or even rice- just to cut the richness of the flavors and to add a contrasting texture to the vegetables on the plate.

Julie had a duck dish wrapped in pork cheeks, and Ryan and Mike tried the short ribs. All enjoyed, but shared in the feeling that the dishes were very savory and salty.

The winners for dessert were definitely the boys- both of whom wisely chose the nutella sundae- which was like a pudding, sweet but not sickening, and a really creamy, smooth texture. Julie and I had selected cheese plates, which included a really nice blue cheese and a triple creme brie, but after the third savory course, we felt cheese was not the right follow up, but wished we had the sweet treat too!!

Overall, I tasted a lot of great flavors, and the second course and nutella dessert make me want to come back and explore the a la carte menu.