Monday, December 31, 2007

Vegetable Bayaldi

Ever since our friend D'Artagnan served this at one of our potlucks, I've become a huge fan.
Roasted veggies (Eggplant, Zucchini, and Tomatoes) arranged in beautiful layers with carmelized onions anchoring the bottom holding things in place.
And then there was the Pixar movie "Ratatouille," where Remy insists on serving Anton Ego the classic ratatouille dish with a Bayaldi twist. This just reignited my desire to make a batch this holiday season.

Bayaldi is beautiful, easy to make and amazingly delicious.
Here are some pics I took while preparing this dish for J.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Scallop & Mushroom Fricasse

I love cooking with Sake and good soy sauce. It instantly gives the dish an asian twist with pronounced Umami. 
 
Scallops and Mushrooms (Shiitake and Honshimeji) with the scallop liver pulsed and pureed to make a sauce spooned around the dish. 
Ingredients and instructions for Scallop Liver Sauce - Scallop Liver, Shallots, Sake, White Soy Sauce, Salt and Pepper, Olive Oil and Cream. 
Sweat shallots in pan.  Add liver and sautee till lightly browned.  Deglaze with Sake.  Add 1/2 tablespoon of White (shiro shoyu) Soy Sauce.  Add Cream and lower heat to med.  Season and transfer to Cuisinart.  Pulse to puree.  Adjust smoothness with cream. 
 

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Morning Coffee

The most expensive cup of coffee at Starbucks.
13 shot venti soy hazelnut vanilla cinnamon white mocha with extra white mocha and caramel


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

If only Closed forever

BOLO - 23 East 22nd Street, (212) 228-2200
The last piquillo pepper will be served on Dec. 31, to make way for the lobby of a new condominium.
Bobby Flay and his partners hope to relocate the restaurant, perhaps with a new name.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

2007 Year in Review

2007 is about to close, so I figure why not reflect on all things food. Here are some deep (or not so deep) food thoughts...

1) Best Restaurant 2007 - The French Laundry
High expectations came in to the visit and while not completely met, this was definitely the best restaurant for me in 07. Great service, very good to great food (nothing bad), and beautiful scenery. This is how the majority of fine dining restaurants should run their operation. Once you have the amazing lamb, you realize how special this place is.
Honorable Mention: A Voce, Eleven Madison Park, Yakitori Totto

2) Best Restaurant Dish 2007 -Sucking Pig (Eleven Madison Park)
I looooooove pork and this was in strong contention for my favorite pork dish ever. Perfectly tender, juicy, flavorful, and that oh so wonderful crispy skin.
Honorable Mention: Lamb (French Laundry), Crab and Pork Soup Dumplings (Grand Shanghai), Duck Meatballs (A Voce), Cioppino (Tadich Grill), Fried Clams (Flo's Clams)

3) Best Cheaper Restaurant 2007 - Swan Oyster Depot
Every time I think of the place I just smile. For some reason, the combination of an Anchor Steam and dungeness crab sitting at the counter brings a sense of euphoria in me. There's probably better seafood out there, but that combination just does it for me. Hopefully, the SF oil spill doesn't affect that place.
Honorable Mention: Yakitori Totto, Bar Fry, Grand Shanghai, Pio Maya

3) Worst Restaurant 2007 - Spotted Pig
By far the worst restaurant for me in 2007 and potentially ever (based on the hype). The only place where as Homer Simpson has said before "There's still food, but I don't want to eat it. (sounding panicky)" The burger was seriously inedible. I don't know what all these people are raving about, but this place sucks bad.
Honorable Mention: No need. Spotted Pig wins pig feet down.

4) Favorite Dude's Night Moment 2007 - Sushi-Ann to Lan
What happens when the dudes have an omakase meal at Sushi-Ann and are frustrated that the meal was terrible? You go to Lan of course to eat for another 2 1/2 hours. This was just a classic dude's night out with lots of laughs and lots of great food.

5) Favorite Television Episode 2007 - After Hours with Daniel
The season finale of After Hours with Daniel season 1 was one for the ages. Eric Ripert and Daniel Boulud cooking are reason enough to watch, but throw in Jacques Pepin and you have stellar television programming.

6) Random Thought: Food Network sucks even more
Two of the greatest teachers on the Food Network were booted in 2007 - Emeril Lagasse and Mario Batali. You can say whatever you want about their personalities or restaurants, but you have to admit they know much more about food than the current hous fraus on the network.

7) Favorite Dish of Mine 2007 - Italian Style Manwich
I made some fun (and also some bad) dishes in 2007, but this probably was my favorite. Was thinking of manwiches for some dumb reason and I was curious if I could make a tasty one. This was off the charts satisfying. Rich and goes perfect with the toasted hamburger buns.

Well, it's been fun starting this blog in 2007 and hope you had a good time reading. I'm off to Seattle and Taiwan, so no posts for me for the rest of the year. As usual, you can expect updates when I get back on the foods I'll be sampling over there. Everyone have a safe and happy holiday and more importantly...good eating! P's

Friday, December 21, 2007

Eleven Madison Park - Aramis Review

Intro
Eleven Madison Park - Highly Recommended (for suckling pig alone)
11 Madison Ave, New York 10010
At 24th St
Phone: 212-889-0905

Eleven Madison Park is a place I've been curious to check out for a while. So, I figured why not take the fiancee there for her birthday. Was it worth the wait? I definitely think so. This was by far the best birthday dinner I've taken her to - others were at One If By Land, Babbo, and Sapa. Overall, I give the restaurant a 88/100.

My Menu

We ordered the gourmand tasting menu which has smaller portions than the 3 and 4 course menus. Since I was so excited that we were eating at Eleven Madison Park, I didn't capture the gourmand menu. Here's my best description of what we ate. Btw - sorry for the dark pictures. Don't like rocking the flash at nice restaurants considering you sit so close to people. I'll find a camera next year that does great low light pictures without the flash.

1) Gougeres - Not Recommended
2) Hors D'oeuvres - Highly Recommended (must have)
3) Fantasy of Eggs - Highly Recommended (must have)
4) Beets and Goat Cheese - Recommended
5) Scallop and Lobster Ceviche - Highly Recommended
6) Foie Gras Torchon - Highly Recommended
7) Lobster - Recommended
8) Turbot - Recommended
9) Frogs Legs Pasta - Recommended
10) Suckling Pig - Highly Recommended (must have)
11) Cheese Plate - Recommended
12) Coffee Dessert - Highly Recommended
13) Mignardises - Highly Recommended

Dish Comments
1) Gougeres is an item that has been documented a plenty on this blog, so I feel like I know how this should be. The best I've had was French Laundry. Very good ones can be had at Artisanal. This was pretty sub-par. A little cold, not light, and no intense flavor. Not a good start.
2) Total redemption here and a great way to start the meal. Foie gras, truffle cookie thing was amazing and really complex flavors. As was the crunchy tamale looking thing filled with sweetbreads - tasted like chinese food, but in a really awesome way. This got the appetite going.

3) Raw egg yolk, caviar, sea urchin, and sea urchin foam. It was so rich and the caviar added a nice saltiness to it. I'm not a caviar connoisseur, but it was perfect for this dish. Great play on the idea of using different eggs. The fiancee's favorite dish of the night.
4) This was a very interesting dish - the chef's take on a beet and goat cheese salad. First spoon was goat cheese and olive oil, but it was unlike anything I've ever had before - very light texture. The second was supposed to be beets. Some how, it was like a gelatinous shell that when you put this in your mouth beet juice explodes out. Combination of flavors are good - but this is more interesting, than flavorful.
5) Raw scallops and lobster. Alone the items are ok, but combined together brings out such a sweetness to the crustaceans. The accompanying tangerine and lime juice add a nice touch. They took out this huge Himalayan salt rock to grate over, but it was more for presentation since I could barely taste the salt. Adding a dose of salt directly on would have made it better.
6) First cup has a pineapple foam with foie gras at the bottom. This was amazing. Sweet and concentrated pineapple flavor went perfectly with the unctuous foie gras terrine at the bottom. The foie gras in the bar form was very good. Again, he somehow made the foie gras so light, really unlike anything I've had. I'm always used to the FG being rich and dense.
7) Lobster with a curry foam (this dude likes foam as much as Marcel from Top Chef). Lobster again was very sweet and matched perfectly with the light citrus-y curry. The texture of the lobster was a tad chewy, but it definitely was not overcooked - actually slightly undercooked which kept the lobster very sweet.
8) Turbot with some type of truffle cream foam and tapioca. This was a beautiful dish as he recreated the scales with black truffles and potatoes(?). Tapioca added a very unique texture and the foam tasted amazing. Turbot really was indistinct in flavor, but combined with everything else it was great...perfectly cooked and very light.
9) Frog's legs, mushrooms, and pasta. This was kind of a punch in the face, since this dish was completely different than the rest...uber flavorful and not very light. Pasta was decent and the frogs were cooked perfectly. Some type of mushroom concoction was a little too overpowering for me.
10) This was by far the winner of the menu. The pig was so tender and so flavorful. When you put a piece in your mouth, what seemed like the best pork broth exploded out - very similar to the beet dish before. Add the perfectly crispy skin with the fat still underneath the skin (you know what I'm talking about) and this was maybe my favorite dish of the year. I'm a big fan of the pig and at the time I was thinking is this the best pork dish I've ever had? Now that I've had proper time to reflect, the pork tacos in Durango, Mexico is still #1 in my book. This is #2 or #3, interchangeable with the pork stew (don po) from the Landis Hotel in Taipei, Taiwan.
11) Triple Creme, a runny cheese, gruyere, and a stilton. I usually love cheeses, but after Bobolink all cheeses to me seem imperfect. Still pretty good though, just a tad salty. The winner for me was the gruyere.
12) Basically a palate cleanser with what seemed like the 900th foam of the night. Still very interesting. Some type of citrus and champagne foam. The plate was shaped like a bed...cute.
13) Coffee flavored truffle like filling in a crunchy caramel cigar. Capuccino or espresso ice cream with some other foam. The crunchy cigar was a perfect offset to the insanely chocolatly filling. The ice cream and slight sour foam played a nice contrast.
14) This reminded very much of the salmon cornets from French Laundry. A playful take of the lollipop - beignets, coffee cream, and frozen peanut butter and chocolate. The best was definitely the beignets...warm and oh so satisfying.

Overall Restaurant Experience (88/100)

  • Food 8.9/10 – Very unique and playful take on a lot of dishes. The food was beautifully presented and the pork dish was to die for. Majority of the dishes were more interesting though than flavorful.
  • Service 8.8/10 – Generally everyone was relatively attentive. When I mentioned that it was cold in our section, a manager came by with some cashmere thing for the fiancee. Food came out in a decent amount of time, but that maybe because I was having a good time talking to the fiancee. Total meal was 4 hours (but I think on average it should be 3 hours...we just took a while to eat). I would give them higher marks, but little things I noticed a restaurant like Daniel or French Laundry would never do. Like not cleaning on the bread crumbs on the table...they were tiny, but this always happens at $125 pp places. Also, when they were pouring some sauces tableside, they would hit the rim a little. Picky stuff, but just comparing my other experiences at pricey places.
  • Atmosphere 8.8/10 – Beautiful place with really old school trimming. A huge open space lead to a more relaxed feeling...much more so than the heavy hitters like Daniel, Jean Georges, and Bouley. We were seated in the back area which was more private and romantic. Crowd composed mainly of people doing business...lots of suits, which kinda sucks sometimes. Reservations were at 7pm on a Wednesday made 4 weeks in advance with no problem. Got there and was seated promptly.
  • Price 8/10 – Tough judge on this. This was such a great and unique experience, but it was pricey and there are better dishes to be had for the same price point. For two gourmand menus and 4 glasses of wine and tip, the bill ran us $420. For the experience of such interesting and tasty food, I think it's worth it.
Closing Comments
I truly think the experience at French Laundry has changed me. It made me say I've been to the supposed best and I wasn't blown away with every dish, yet I'm still happy. I think if I went to Eleven Madison two years ago, I might be upset since every dish really is not a home run. Again, the food occasionally was more unique than flavorful. I, however, did enjoy this meal very much and am looking forward to going back for the 4 course menu (3 savory+1 sweet for $102). The beef looked phenomenal that night, but I wonder if the chef will allow me to have 3 courses of the same suckling pig next time:)



Thursday, December 20, 2007

Jimmy's with Chef Phillip

After Aramis's pretty enthusiastic recommendation last week of Jimmy's...
Mr. Risotto, Lex and I decided to go check it out.

By chance, I met Chef Phillip for the first time the previous day through a mutual friend. So in a way, this all seems a bit serendipitous.
We dined at Lan for 4 hours and traded stories ranging from cooking in kitchens to wacky volleyball games at the local Y. Good food and tons of laughter. The best medicine for a tough day at work.

I digress... Phillip is an accomplished chef and took on the challenge of heading up a kitchen in the city at Jimmy's 4 months ago. He has worked in some very famous kitchens and with some great chefs from all over the world. Most recently with Wylie Dufresne at WD-50.

Jimmy's is known to many as a watering hole. With a great selection of beers and solid snacks to go with the brews. (as Aramis points out : Here) But tonight was different.
Not only is Phillip amazingly talented, he is also generous. From our 12 course meal, 10 dishes were not from the menu. Talk about feeling special.

Our party of 3 sat down and was immediately greeted with a Ceviche Martini.
Not your typical pub food. But it was delicious and I didn't hear any complaints from my 2 friends. The rest is history...
Following is a list of dishes that came out throughout the course of the meal.

- Ceviche *
- Roasted Shishito Peppers **
- Poached Lamb Tongue Salad *
- Skillet Fried Beer Sausages *
- Pan Seared Lamb Liver
- Pan Seared Scallops ***
- Lamb Riblettes ***
- Braised Pork Shanks ***
- Brandt Farms Hanger Steak ***
- Cheddar Cheese Plate *
- Orange Vanilla Risotto **
- German inspired Fruit Waffle *


* Good
** Great
*** Excellent

New Noodles at Momofuku

You read it here first!
(From a very credible source)

Momofuku (171 1st Ave) is changing their bland, and soft ramen noodles for something more authentic.
Japanese Ramen is an art form not too many places can replicate very well here in the States.

And when Momofuku opened 3-4 years ago, I have to say, many of us were utterly disappointed with their choice in noodles.

But all has changed now since Momofuku's Exec. Chef David Chang upgraded the noodles to a fresh Japanese noodle from a quality Japanese Purveyor.

I'm looking forward to trying the new ramen.


Extra : It's always a treat to order their pork belly buns. They are spectacular !

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I Like Turtles





































A few days ago I was reading the new story about a Liberian woman in New York who was jailed for smuggling monkey meat. I thought about the supermarkets I’ve been to in other places than the US and how it resembled pet stores more than grocery stores. I’m curious to know what’s allowed and not allowed in the US in terms of meat. Maybe it’s a simple Google search, but apparently there’s a lot more allowed than I previously thought. I was at a Chinese supermarket called Great Wall and then a Korean Market down the street called H Mart on Sunday just outside of DC, right down the street from my office, to look for items not normally found in “regular” grocery stores. While there, I was surprised to see frogs (big suckers, too!), turtles, and more. All live, which is what made it more interesting. I enjoyed watching patrons choosing which fish they wanted swimming in an aquarium and the “butcher” fishing them out with a net, smacking it on the head with a clever, scale the fish, chop off the heads, rip them down the center, remove the innards, and put the remaining meat in bags. There was one particular couple that asked for live eel. Quite entertaining watching the employee netting different eel, producing it to the customer, and watching them inspect it and approving or disapproving the catch – all the time observing the eels’ mouths widely open trying to sink its fangs into its captor’s hands. (I wonder how they knew which eel they liked or disliked. Speaking of which, ever watch people choose watermelon? Funny scene while they listen, tap, feel, etc.) Anyway, when they had their choice of eel and tilapia fish, they asked for them live, so the worker bagged it up, cut out a small hole, took another bag, filled it with the water they were swimming in seconds earlier, and placed the bag with the animal/dinner in that.

This was all entertaining for me to watch. The (bad quality) pictures above were taken with my camera phone.

Enjoy.

Swedish Meatballs

Meatballs

½ cup fine dry breadcrumbs
¾ cup heavy cream
1½ Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, minced
2/3 cup ground beef
2/3 cup ground veal
2/3 cup ground pork
2 Tablespoons honey
1 large egg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs and 3/4 cup heavy cream. Stir with fork until smooth. Set aside. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat, and add the onion. Sauté until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine beef, veal, pork, honey, cooked onions and egg. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the breadcrumb-cream mixture to the meat, and mix well. With wet hands (to keep the meat from sticking) shape a meatball the size of a golf ball. If the meat is too soft to shape, more breadcrumbs may be added to the mixture. Continue shaping meatballs, placing on a plate brushed with water.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat melt the butter and add the meatballs. Sauté, browning on all sides, until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Remove to a plate and discard the fat from the skillet.

Mashed Potatoes

2 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 pint cream
½ pint milk
½ pound butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes until cooked. Strain. Mash with a fork. Heat the milk and the cream. Whisk the milk, cream and butter into the mashed potatoes. Incorporate roasted garlic if you like. Season with salt and pepper.

Lingonberries

1 pound lingonberries
½ cup sugar

Mix the lingonberries and the sugar. Allow to sit for about 2 hours. Serve on the side.

To serve, place meatballs on top of the mashed potatoes and the sauce on top of that lingonberries around

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Medieterranean Diet

There was a recent article about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet supposedly increasing your lifespan. The sad thing is just about everything seems bad (and good) for you now a days. Coffee can clog arteries, eggs are high in cholesterol, eating seared meat is cancerous, non-organic food puts you at risk with numerous pesticides, eating too much tuna can lead to issues with mercury - heck, even playing with toys from China can give your kids lead poisoning. The funny thing is there are benefits to the items I listed above also.

While I'm sure there are tremendous benefits eating the Mediterranean way, I'm sure there will be issues with the Mediterranean diet as well. I say enjoy your seared steak and eggs and have an app of negi toro beforehand. As long as don't eat this stuff very often, you should be able to enjoy it...life is short - do it up!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Village - Review

Intro
Village - Slightly Recommended
62 W 9th St, New York 10011
Btwn 5th & 6th Ave
Phone: 212-505-3355

Sorry, we've been behind on our posts, but we've been busy playing Rock Band on PS3...oh yes it is hella fun. Any who, on to the review. Village is a place that I've walked by 100's of times, but me and the fiancee were in the area and wanted to check out a new place. Village is a tough read. The menu has items like bbq'd pulled pork, but I think it wants to consider itself as a bistro. Overall, I give the restaurant a 75/100.

My Menu

1) Pan Roast of Oysters - Not Recommended
2) Crab Cake - Not Recommended
3) Braised Lamb (the special, not on the daily menu) - Highly Recommended (must have)

Dish Comments
1) Something was strange about this dish. A pan roast of oysters should be creamy and bursting with oyster flavor. This was slightly sour (maybe too much lemon) and the oyster flavor was muted.
2) Crab cake was pretty bad here. The bread crumbs on the outside was slightly burnt and the crab meat was probably canned. Also, served with a strange red pepper puree.

3) We went here about two weeks ago and it was Braise Week in NYC with some participating restaurants preparing braised items. This dish was unbelievable. Small pieces of lamb (probably shoulder) on the bone braised to perfection. It was melt in your mouth good and the sauce was unbelievable (a touch of truflle butter).

Overall Restaurant Experience (75/100)

  • Food 7.5/10 – The special was outstanding. The 2 apps were pretty bad.
  • Service 6.0/10 – Waiter took a while to take our order and he had a little attitude.
  • Atmosphere 8/10 – Interesting bi-level decor. For some reason, it reminded me of Florida with the high ceilings and plants. Crowd was a mix of young and old (70+). Got there at 6pm and there was a staff meeting. Was seated 15 minutes later with no reservations.
  • Price 7.5/10 – Price was OK for the quality. Apps were $12 and the special was around $26.
Closing Comments
This place is a tough call in terms of the food. The items on the regular menu were pretty bad, but the daily special was amazing. I think even though the special was amazing, I don't think I'd ever go back. Walk 1o minutes and go to Jimmy's in the East Village instead.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Aburiya Kinnosuke

Went to an Izakaya joint last night with a group of friends to celebrate a buddy's belated birthday.

Aburiya Kinnosuke - (Highly Recommended)
45th between 2nd & 3rd Ave.
212-867-5454

(call to make reservations)

If you are like me and have cravings for "real" Japanese food... This is the place!
What you get is a cozy Izakaya joint where the staff are Japanese, the decor is Japanese, and most important, the food is Japanese.

Here's a list of the dishes we had...
Small Dishes to Share
- Tsukune & Onsen Tamago - House specialty ***
(Chicken Meatballs with Soft Poached Egg)
- Momoniku Yaki *
(Chicken Thighs grilled under Japanese Charcoal)
- Buta Kakuni **
(Pork Belly Braised in Shochu)
- Shiitake *
(Grilled Shiitake Mushrooms)
- Shishito *
(Grilled Shishito Peppers)
- Eringi Houba Yaki *
(Sliced Eringi Mushrooms Roasted with Miso on a Houba Leaf)
- Gindara **
(Saikyo Miso Cod)
- Asupara *
(Grilled Asparagus)
- Kinnosuke Salada *
(House Salad)
- Anago Shiroyaki *
(Grilled Conger Eel)
- Ton Toro ***
(Grilled Pork Cheeks)
- Hokke
(Grilled Dried Horse Mackerel)
- Kani Miso Butter **
(Crab Tamale Spread)

Rice Dishes
- Kakuni Meshi **
(Pork Belly Rice)
- Tai Meshi **
(Red Snapper Rice)

Dessert

- Kuro Goma Pudding **
(Black Sesame Pudding with Ice Cream)
- Shira Tama Azuki **
(Rice Balls with Red Bean and Okinawan Brown Sugar Syrup with Ice Cream)

This is a great place for anyone looking for Japanese Food.
A real example of straight forward Japanese foods in the heart of Manhattan.
The style of cuisine is Aburimono (Grilling), hence the name. (A conjugated form of the adjective "Aburu")

"Aburiya" never disappoints. Everything was fantastic!
I can't wait to go again.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Friends from Michigan

It's great to see old friends when ever you can. And what better than having good food while you catch up?
So to my surprise, when Y and J called me Friday night to tell me they were in town, I knew I had to make a call to good 'ol faithful.

When ever I'm looking to host a casual, dine at your own pace dinner, Lan Restaurant comes to mind.
Always with warm hospitality, Lan delivers delicious food at a reasonable price.

Greek Meatballs

Quick Recipe Series :

Greek Meatballs
2# Ground Lamb
1# Ground Chicken
2 clove Garlic
3 sprigs fresh Oregano
2 large Eggs
Salt and Pepper
Instructions : Mix together with hand by grabbing and squeezing at the mixture.
Either quennelle or roll them into ping pong sized balls and pan fry them at med high.
They are done when the center is fully cooked through.

Tzaziki Sauce:
1 large Cucumber
1 cup Strained Yogurt
3 T Olive Oil
1 clove Garlic
1 T Lemon Juice
Instructions : Peel and core cucumber. Then coursely chop to fit in cuisinart.
Pulse the cucumbers first, then add garlic, olive oil and lemon juice.
Mix well and add yogurt. Pulse till homogeneous consistency. Season to taste.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Jimmy's No 43 - Review

Intro
Jimmy's No 43 - Highly Recommended
43 E 7th St, New York 10003
Btwn 2nd & 3rd Ave
Phone: 212-982-3006

Stopped by Jimmy's with some friends before the Hatton / Mayweather fight. The ref was hella crooked constantly breaking up the clinch taking Hatton out of his game...vent...any who. One of my buddies turned me on to this place a while back and I've been making this a go to dude's night place. Perfect match of great beer and good hearty food. They've changed the menu and the layout recently (also a new chef from Wd-50). Doesn't matter, food is still solid. Overall, I give the restaurant a 85/100.

My Menu
1) Charcuterie Plate - Recommended
2) Skillet Fried Beer Sausages - Recommended
3) Slab bacon (special) - Recommended
4) Chicken Thighs (special) - Highly Recommended

Dish Comments
1) A must have when I visit. Basically, salami, pastrami (I think), sausages, olives, and pickles. Great snack food with beer.
2) Sausages are crispy and flavorful. They now cut them differently (on a bias thinly) and serving less than the past though.

3) A huge slab of bacon (1 inch thick)...crispy, fatty, and delicious. An apricot glaze added a nice touch of sweetness to the fatty bacon. There was a slightly burnt flavor, but I didn't care...it's freaking delicious bacon still.
4) 2 large chicken thighs that was fall off the bone good and insanely flavorful. The sauce was like a rich meat broth - very pungent. Couscous was cooked well and made the dish lighter than a whole bunch of mashed potatoes would have.

Overall Restaurant Experience (85/100)

  • Food 8.2/10 – Very good, hearty bar food. Excellent choice of beers, which marry perfectly with the food.
  • Service 7.0/10 – Waitress took a while to get our order and food took a while as well, but the beers and talk of Pe De Pano made the time go by quick. She was nice and helpful with the menu though. It looked like there were only 2 people in the kitchen though.
  • Atmosphere 8.8/10 – Basically a small dark bar (maybe 25 seats or less) with an interesting mix of people. Lots of little kids which was surprising and a couple of large groups - an indy film director was there that night. Place was pretty crowded for 8pm on a Saturday night. We got in with no reservations and were seated in 5 minutes.
  • Price 8.8/10 – Price is phenomenal here if you don't drink that much beer. $5 for beer sausage and $10 for charcuterie. Even a hangar steak is $16. Average price of beers are $8 though and it's definitely a place where you'll want to have at least 3 beers.
Closing Comments
A definite go-to on my list...nuff said.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Grano Trattoria - Lunch Review

Intro
Grano Trattoria - Slightly Recommended
21 Greenwich Ave, New York 10014
At W 10th St
Phone: 212-645-2121

Was hanging out around the West Village and was looking for something to eat. I've walked by Grano Trattoria numerous times, but never stopped in. Looked at the menu and figured why not. Overall, I give the restaurant a 72/100.

My Menu

1) Tuscan Bean Soup - Slightly Recommended
2) Asparagus alla Parmigiana - Slightly Recommended
3) Ravioli stuffed with mushrooms and butter sauce – Slightly Recommended

4) Bellini - Recommended

Dish Comments
1) Delicate tomato based soup kinda like a minestrone, but filled with cannellini beans. This was OK, but nothing to rave about - borderline bland and watery almost.
2) Well cooked asparagus topped with what seemed like jarred tomato sauce and mozzarella.
3) Decent ravioli stuffed with mushrooms and maybe ginger? Not sure, but something was off here. Maybe texture of pasta or something...fresh pasta should have a silky texture and a little al dente-ness to it. Didn't get either quality here.

4) Tasty bellini, but you can rarely go wrong with the bubbly and a sweet peach puree. Probably not fresh though, since my fiancee saw them pouring Minute Maid for the OJ she ordered.

Overall Restaurant Experience (72/100)

  • Food 7.3/10 – Average to below average Italian food.
  • Service 6.0/10 – Pretty subpar service. Waiters were nice, but the place was empty and no one took our order for at least 10 minutes. There was a large table (6-8 people) in the back, but that was it - completely empty place. Food took a while to come out.
  • Atmosphere 7.5/10 – Standard trattoria. Nothing special. Got there at 2pm and it was empty.
  • Price 8.0/10 – OK, so the price is spectacular. $14.95 for two courses and a drink.

Closing Comments
Pretty standard to sub-standard place. Nothing wrong with the food, but if I go out to eat I want to be satisfied and this place didn't do it for me. Price is great, but I would never go back. If I'm in the area and wanted some brunch, I would check out 'ino or Little Owl which both are about a 5-10 minute walk away.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Increasing food prices...

Ok, so I posted a while back about the concerns of ethanol and the price of corn in the US. The house recently passed a law mandating the increased use of biofuels which includes corn. I guess we not only have to worry about corn prices, but prices of beef/pork/chicken since they all feed on corn as well. Maybe, the higher meat prices will force people to eat more vegetables...nah, pork tastes so f'n good :)

Turkey Congee

One of the great joys of Thanksgiving are the fun leftovers. Turkey sandwiches are great. But, only one Thanksgiving leftover is a must have every year for me - Turkey congee. Congee is basically a rice porridge that is eaten in many Asian countries and it is oh so satisfying. Chicken noodle soup maybe great, but there's something about congee that satisfies the soul. Picture to the right was from wikipedia...I was so hungry and ravenous I didn't stop and take a picture :)

Turkey Congee (called jook in Cantonese)
This porridge is preferably eaten the day after Thanksgiving for lunch, but this can be made weeks after using frozen turkey bones (as was done by me). Perfect sick day meal. It has the flavor of a chicken soup, but it's also filling because it's a rice porridge. You can replace the turkey with roasted chicken as well. If you can't find the egg or youtiao you can use a hard boiled egg and a loaf of crusty bread.

Ingredients
All the turkey bones from an already cooked 22 pound turkey with some meat and skin still on the bone
1/2 green onion - thinly sliced
1 cup white rice
15 cups water
white pepper
Soy sauce
1 clove garlic lightly crushed
1,000 year old egg cut up into bite size pieces (can be found in Asian grocery stores)
-Not really 1,00o years old, but hard boiled egg marinated in tea and salt. Adds a nice rich flavor to the congee
Fried bread sticks or youtiao (can be found in Asian grocery stores)

1) Cut the turkey carcass up into smaller pieces (trying to get the pieces to under 3 inches high) using a cleaver or sharp kitchen scissors. By cutting up the carcass, this will reduce the amount of water needed and speed up the process of extracting "the goodness" from the bones.
2) Add the bones to a large pot. Add garlic, water and white rice and bring to a boil (pot should be covered). No salt is needed, since the turkey was seasoned.
3) Once mixture is boiling, reduce to a simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours - remove cover. Add egg the last 10 minutes of simmering. I usually like my congee medium thick, but some may like it more watery. Make sure to stir everything around, since there will be a lot of rice at the bottom of the pot.
4) Add congee, turkey pieces and skins (should be some from the bone) to a bowl. Top with pinch of green onions, teaspoon of egg, a touch of soy, and pinch of white pepper. When eating, dip the youtiao in the porridge. The crunchy and slightly oily breadstick soaks up the flavorful porridge and is a perfect marriage.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

15 min Dinners

It's finally winter here in NYC, and going out to eat is becoming more of a task.
Dealing with the blistering cold, plus the holiday traffic is such a nightmare.
Therefore, what better time to cook at home than now.

Kobe Beef with Dashi Flavored Onions On Rice

Here's how I prepare this dish:
Let the beef rest in room temperature for 15 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and sear for 1 minute on each side.
Take off heat and let rest.
Sautee sliced onions and garlic till translucent and deglaze with 3 T of dashi-tsuyu.
Reduce and remove from heat.
Get a bowl of hot white rice and arrange onions on top. Then slice Kobe beef to bite sized slices and place on top of onions and rice. Serve immediately.

For those of you who have never tried Kobe beef, it's quite possibly the most delicious meat out there. It's tender, juicy and tremendously flavorful. A must have!

Part II of my 15 min Dinners this weekend were quesadillas.
Right before popping Ratatouille into the DVD player, my wife says she wants some finger foods.
I look in the fridge and came up with my variation of Mexicano a la minuto.
Smoked Duck Quesadillas with Homemade Salsa to be exact.
I had some D'Artagnan smoked magret laying around. So I thought it would go great warmed up in between flour tortillas, taco cheese, and my homemade salsa.
I was right, these came out fantastic and my wife wolfed down 4 of these in no time.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Sake Cheese Event - Recap

part II of tuesday's post:

Many times, more often than not, chefs and food industry mavericks push for new food combos to feed the masses. I'm not saying innovation is bad, but poor imagination and execution is quite the disappointment.
On the bright side, once in a blue moon, success dawns on us and we have what we call matches made in heaven.

I spoke to Max MacCalman at the Artisanal Cheese Center and he told me about a unique pairing he and his peers were trying out.
Sake and Cheese.
It's been done before, but nothing to this extent.
Apparently, the largest Premium Sake Importer in North America and the Artisanal Premium Cheese Company have been working together for months to put together a curriculum, educating people on the synergies of Sake and Cheese.

I went to the very first class on Dec. 5th to see for myself what the hype was all about.
By golly, it's quite good. And in many ways this was better than wine and cheese.
Sake, unlike wines do not have tannins to interfere when pairing with cheese. Therefore, you can concentrate just on the taste and textures of both and experience great harmony.
I'm definitely looking forward to learning more about this unique pairing.

Click here to sign-up for the next class on December 13th

from 6:30pm to 8:30pm
This is going to be big guys!

Lost in Translation

Story 1
We all know what a tortilla is, right? You think so, anyway. We’ve had tortilla chips, nachos, and tacos. But that’s with the Mexican tortilla. Elsewhere, like Spain, Colombia, and other countries, a tortilla is like an omelet. So when my Mother emigrated here and was out to lunch with her friends, she ordered a tortilla.
“Anything else, Miss?”
“No, that’s sufficient.”
“Are you sure Miss?”
“Of course.”You can believe her surprise when the waiter returned with a plate with one single solitary tortilla. Introduction to Mexican Tortilla 101!

Story 2
My Aunt lived in a house in Mexico that also served as a store and a shaved ice vendor. I was visiting her as a child once, and I was helping out. A kid surrounded by slushies??? Like a dream! Loving this vacation. And it was very simple. If someone ordered “raspa de fresa,” (strawberry slushie) you shave some ice, pour strawberry flavor on it, and calculate the pesos. This was happening for a while until some kid younger than me wanted “una raspa de chile” (chili slushie). What the… well, he kept insisting, and I asked my Aunt. She shaved some ice, put a little lemon, and finally, get this - sprinkled the top with chili powder. Remember, this is summer vacation. In Mexico. How Mexican can you be to eat chili powder on shaved ice in the desert!??!

Story 3
Someone very near and dear to me was living and working in China before moving to the States. She was working for an American company and had to do a presentation, trying to convince them on how they can market anything. She used the example of trying to sell a well-known product, but with a twist. She was using a visual of a can of Coca-Cola and stating that even if it were pink, they should be able to sell it. All the while, everyone in the room was snickering and holding their laughter in. These were high level execs, too. It wasn’t until later, after the meeting, that someone told her she was pronouncing “Coke” wrong; she kept referring to “pink cock.” Terribly embarrassing, but hey, she closed the deal!

Story 4
A good friend of mine was working for Motorola and was in China some years ago where he found himself hungry in his hotel room. He ordered room service, received the order, but found out he was missing something. He called back down, requested what was missing, and they returned a little while later. He thought it was fancy the way they gave it to him, thanked the person, and then returned to his food. Wrong order again. He called them again, tried to explain, but they couldn’t understand well. The manager went to his room, and my friend tried to explain that he was asking for “chopsticks,” not “chopped steak.” LOL!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Faux Gras - Faux Good?

So, our friendly neighbors across the pond have created a product they call Faux Gras. Yes, a British supermarket has created guilt free Foie Gras by using goose and duck livers without the force-feeding by combining the livers with duck/goose fat. I find the term guilt free funny - I wonder if they feel guilty for killing the duck/goose?

I'm open to this faux gras and if it somehow makes the duck/goose live a better life - I'm all for it, as long as I can still get my rich creamy foie gras on a brioche without a significant drop in quality. Worst case it may taste slightly better than the chicken livers from Barney Greengrass and as Jerry Seinfeld would say "not that there's anything wrong with that." Greengrass chicken livers are off the charts good by the way. I'm assuming we'll see this product eventually make it's way states-side, and you can expect the dudes to give you a full review...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sake Cheese Pairing at Artisanal

Deluxe Sakes & Artisanal Cheeses
Exclusive for the New York Mutual Trading Company
December 5 & 13, 6:30PM - 8:30PM
With Max McCalman,Michael John Simkin, and George Kao
The world's finest cheeses deserve the best beverage partners! In this seminar, Sake expert Michael John Simkin and George Kao from New York Mutual Trading Company will team up with our own Max McCalman to showcase the lovely synergies that superior Sakes and exquisite (Artisanal Premium) Cheeses share.
The crafting of high-end Sakes and the making of Artisan cheeses have a lot in common. Come taste the many nuances of these quality sakes enhanced by artfully paired cheeses and experience the gastronomic thrills of these two unlikely partners!

In addition, I have been told there will be a surprise finale with 2 special spirits paired with premium cheeses.
This is truly an industry first.

**please click here to sign up**

Grand Shanghai - Review

Intro
Grand Shanghai - Highly Recommended
700 US Highway 1, Edison, NJ 8817
Phone: 732-819-8830

My mom took me and the fiancee out for dinner, so I wasn't expecting much - some random Shanghai place in the middle of no where NJ. I was a little worried especially when I saw this Chinese place served sushi, an immediate red flag in my book. No need to worry, this place was out of control good...like maybe one of the best Chinese places in NJ or NYC. Wasn't prepared for this place, so unfortunately no camera - I provided a map of where Shanghai is instead. Overall, I give the restaurant an 87/100.

My Menu

1) Crab and Pork Soup Dumplings - Highly Recommended (must have)
2) Vegetable Dumplings - Highly Recommended (must have)
3) Egg and beef pancake - Recommended
4)
Shanghainese fried rice cake– Highly Recommended (must have)
5) Snow Pea Tips - Highly Recommended
6) Fish Head Soup - Recommended

7) Special Shanghai Fried Rice - Average

Dish Comments
1) Perfect soup dumplings (xiao long bao). Skin was insanely tender, but still firm enough to not break. Flavor was amazingly porky and filled with crab with the right amount of soup inside - great with the vinegar, soy, and ginger dip. Might be the best soup dumpling I've had in the US...Din Tai Fong in Taipei is still #1 in my opinion.
2) Perfect vegetable dumpling. Pan fried so slightly crispy on the outside, but skin was still tender. The filling had an amazing flavor filled with mushrooms, cabbage and other stuff.

3) Basically, a bread that was thin like a pancake, stuffed with scrambled eggs, beef, scallions and a sweet hoison sauce. Very tasty.
4) Ok, so this thing is basically a gelatinous rice concoction (nian gao) that's stir fried with a chicken broth sauce and pork. This was off the chain good. Pleasantly chewy with such a great flavor from the sauce, pork, and the soft cabbage.
5) Snow pea tips perfectly cooked (like everything else). Tender with a good crunch. Again, probably the same chicken broth based sauce...so good.
6) Soup made from a fish head. Very sweet broth, filled with rice noodles and bamboo shoots. Not much fish meat besides the meat from the fish head.
7) The only average dish on the menu. Basically, yeung chow fried rice. Nothing wrong with it, but after so many home runs this was ok and slightly bland.

Overall Restaurant Experience (87/100)

  • Food 8.8/10 – Great Chinese food with nothing bad and many things great.
  • Service 7.5/10 – Waitress was super nice, but it did take a while to take our order - it seemed like there were 2 waitresses for the whole place. Once the order was in, it took a while but the food came out all at once.
  • Atmosphere 7.5/10 – There was definitely some segregation going on - Chinese on one section, non-Chinese on the other section. This also maybe due to the fact that there was a Chinese American and sushi menu too, so I can't say for sure. I guess some segregation happens no matter where you go for authentic cuisine - in Rome I saw the same thing (tourists one side, Romans the other). Place was packed with lots of families and a few couples. Got there at 7pm on Friday night and had reservations - if we didn't, there would be a wait. Funny, seeing a bunch of tv's with sports on, but didn't mind so much. White table cloths, but not necessarily a fancy place. Very clean though and nicer than the majority of places in Chinatown.
  • Price 8.5/10 – My mom paid for the meal, but it looked like it wouldn't be too expensive...maybe $25 a head for that meal. Well worth it.

Closing Comments
Like I've said before, NYC really doesn't have too many great Chinese restaurants. You really need to venture out to NW Jers and Flushing for the good stuff and this place is tops in my book.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Cercle Rouge - Brunch Review

Intro
Cercle Rouge - Recommended
241 W Broadway, New York 10013
Btwn Beach & White St
Phone: 212-226-6252

This is a bit late, but been quite busy and a bit sick. Last Sunday, we had a phenomenal day with the dudes and it all started with brunch at Cercle Rouge. Great times, but I have to throw in a caveat that we knew some people there, so our experiences maybe different. Overall, I give the restaurant an 80/100.

My Menu

1) Ouefs a la Toulousaine - Recommended
2) Terrine de Foie Gras – Highly Recommended (must have)

3) Pecan Tarte Recommended

Dish Comments
1) Basically sausage stuffed with soft boiled eggs and breaded and deep fried. Crunchy exterior, rich sausage flavor and the unctuous soft boiled eggs were heavenly. Add the amazing slow roasted tomatoes and tasty home fries and you got a great meal. This would have been highly recommended, but the sausage room temperature should have been much warmer.
2) Perfect Foie. Surprisingly sweet, rich and creamy. Amazing with the sour/sweet/crunchy pickled onions and toast. One of the better foie's I had in a while.
3)
Pecan tarte that's good, but a little too sweet for my liking. My benchmark for pecan tarte is still Peter Luger's.

Overall Restaurant Experience (80/100)

  • Food 8.3/10 – A great French brunch. If the eggs were warmer, this would have been a home run.
  • Service 8.5/10 – Very friendly French waitress and the food came out in a reasonable time.
  • Atmosphere 7.5/10 – Looks like a lot of other French bistros. Place was comfortably full at 1pm. Crowd consisted of groups of 4.
  • Price 8.0/10 – $18.95 for brunch...one dish and one drink. I think that's worthwhile for a brunch in the city. $18 for their fg is a steal.
Closing Comments
Very high class brunch - not used to having foie for brunch. Good stuff and want to check it out for dinner sometime.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Momoya - Review

Intro
Momoya Amsterdam
- Slightly Recommended
427 Amsterdam Ave, New York 10024
Btwn 80th & 81st St
Phone: 212-580-0007

The finale of our Sunday dudes night out. We were hanging out at French Roast in the Upper West and talking about sushi and how much we were craving it. Momoya was right around the corner and recommended by someone in our group. It satiated our sushi cravings and more importantly it was a great time. Overall, I give the restaurant an 78/100.

My Menu

1) Kanpachi Jalapeno - Recommended
2) Yellowtail Ceviche - Recommended
3) Sliced fluke with ponzu sauce - Slightly Recommended
4) Spinach with Ponzu - Not recommended
5) Beef tataki - Slightly Recommended
6) Sushi - Average
7) Ribeye Steak Highly Recommended (must have)

Dish Comments
1) Very Nobuish. Raw kanpachi that was cut by the spiciness of the jalapeno and the saltiness of the soy. Tasty stuff
2) Fresh yellowtail with cucumbers and probably ponzu believe. Good stuff.
3) Fluke was OK and the combo itself was decent.

4) Basically boiled or steamed spinach topped with ponzu. Kinda bland and not that tasty.
5) Rare beef that you can add cucumbers and daikon too. It was relatively tasty.
6) OK, so we had lots of sushi, but nothing really stood out. Rolls were OK, but you can get that stuff at most neighborhood sushi joints. Sushi pieces really didn't stand out or pop.
7) Completely unexpected. Anytime I think of ribeye, I think of a nice caramelization on the outside and a meaty texture. This steak was insanely tender and had absolutely no caramelization. They provided a teriyaki sauce on the side, but this wasn't the sweet thick mess that most people serve. This was a nice subtle almost broth like consistency - kinda like a jus. Perfect with white rice. Great stuff.

Overall Restaurant Experience (78/100)

  • Food 7.8/10 – Average sushi, but great steak.
  • Service 7.8/10 – Waiter was friendly and food came out on time.
  • Atmosphere 7.8/10 – Trendy looking place with blond wood and mirrors everywhere. Customers consisted of families and lots of upper west siders on dates and group dates. Waited about 30 minutes for a Sunday at 7pm.
  • Price 8.0/10 – Price was decent for all that food and drinks...lots of drinks. Came out to $90 a head, but that included countless bottles of sake and large bottles of beer.
Closing Comments
Unimpressed with the sushi, but not sure if we're super picky with sushi (probably) or the sushi quality was off since it was a Sunday - they were out of most of the items we wanted like toro . In terms of happiness, I would say you'd be better off at Sushi Yuki for quality and bang for the back. With that said, it was a phenomenal time with our group and happy we tried the steak...if I were in the area again, I would stop by for the steak.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Post Thanksgiving Meal

Ok, so this is crazy belated, but felt it was fitting following up Athos' Thanksgiving article. The day after our Thanksgiving meal, I wanted something light so I decided to make a soup and salad...and yes Bania, this is a meal (obscure Seinfeld reference). Here's what I decided to make.

Menu
1) Butternut squash soup
2) Persimmon, goat cheese, and caramelized onion salad
3) Tortilla alla Jose Andres

Butternut Squash Soup
Decided to make some butternut squash soup, since it's filling and fits the season. The ginger and cinnamon bring a nice holiday feel to the soup. It's a nice combo of sweet, savory, rich, and spicy. Don't finish the seeds since they're crazy addicting to eat. Goes great with some nice garlic bread.

Ingredients
1 butternut squash
1 box organic chicken broth
4 cloves garlic minced
1/2 sweet onion diced (Maui or Vidalia)
ground ginger
ground cinnamon
organic honey
salt and pepper
Worcestershire sauce
extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Greek yogurt per bowl
yellow pepper hot sauce

1) Peel and cube the butternut squash. Remove seeds and the stringy stuff from squash with a spoon.
2) Set a large heavy pot over medium heat with olive oil. Sautee the seeds and stringy stuff for about 5-10 minutes.
3) Pour a quarter of the chicken broth into the put. Set over high heat. Once it comes to a boil, simmer for 20 minutes.
4) Strain the stringy stuff and seeds into another container/bowl. Make sure to extract all the stringy stuff into the container...the strainer should just have seeds left.
5) Dry the seeds with a paper towel and put in a tray. Add salt, pepper, and a little Worcestershire sauce. Bake the seeds 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes until seeds get crunchy like popcorn. Check though and make sure it doesn't burn.
6) In the original pot, sautee onion over medium heat until soft. Make sure it doesn't get really brown. Add garlic and sautee for 30 seconds.
7) Add all the butternut squash. Add the infused broth and some more broth so it barely covers the squash. Add 1 tablespoon ginger and 1 tablespoon cinnamon, salt and pepper, and 2 tablespoons honey.
8) Bring the squash to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste 10 minutes in and add more spices/honey to your liking. Take off the heat and rock the stick blender to puree until smooth.
9) Ladle some soup in the bowl. Add the yogurt on top - you can do a swirl presentation if you like and add the hot sauce. Sprinkle some seeds on top. Buono appetito!


Persimmon, Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Salad
I like salads and I really enjoy adding fruits to them. Persimmon is an Asian fruit that tastes like candy - actually people say a cross between a date and plum. The savory cheese and onion combo offset the sweet persimmons and the vinegary sauce plus the crunchy walnuts. Also, goes great with the garlic bread.

Ingredients
8 persimmons, cut into 1/8ths
1 1/2 sweet onion thinly sliced (same from salad above)
goat cheese
Walnuts
salt and pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
large box of organic mixed salad greens

1) Set pan over medium hight heat and add olive oil. Caramelize onions for about 20 minutes, make sure not to burn them. Set onions aside when finished.
2) Combine equal parts olive oil and vinegar. And toss the salad with the dressing. As usual, the dressing should not drench the greens. Add, walnuts, goat cheese, and persimmons. Salt and pepper.
3) When plating make sure to add a bit of everything (walnuts, cheese, persimmons, onions) on the base of greens.


Tortilla alla Jose Andres
So, I got Jose Andre's phenomenal looking Tapas book, but have not made anything yet. Figured it was a great time to make a side dish. This dish is all about taking the potato chip and transforming it back to it's roots (terrible pun included). This didn't come out as great as I thought it would probably because I didn't follow the recipe at all - came out very dry. I updated the ingredients to have more eggs, add onions and yogurt, and also cook at a higher heat. Flavor is great though with the egg, potato, sweet onion, and rich yogurt.

Ingredients
Large bag of good chips (I used 5.4 oz Dirty Brand chips)
Caramelized onions (you can use some from the above salad)
Greek yogurt
10 eggs
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil

1) Add chips and 8 eggs to a bowl. Stir the eggs and chips together until chips are completely incorporated. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add 2 more eggs afterwards and stir up some more. Salt and pepper.
2) Set large non stick pan over medium high heat with lots of olive oil. When pan is hot, add egg mixture and stir together for 3-5 minutes until it starts coagulating.
3) Start removing the egg from the edges. Eggs in the middle should still be runny. When the eggs are set at the bottom, take a plate and invert the egg onto the plate. Put the egg back and cook on the other side for about another 3 minutes.
4) Put eggs on a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice into wedges. Place wedge on a plate and top with yogurt and caramelized onions.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Gobble II, Part 2

Note - I tried uploading pictures in the blog, but Blogger.com is having technical issues now. Pics are at the bottom in a slideshow. Be sure to click on the slideshow to see captions. Click on it again to see larger pictures.

Okay, it’s Thanksgiving, and it’s the big cooking day of the year for people all around the country. I have company, so it’s all eyes on me. Since it’s a gorgeous 70 degree day in Washington, D.C., I decided to grill eggplant and fry the turkey outside. Gotta love doing this stuff in shorts and sandals in a November.

Grilled Eggplant with Ham & Cheese

I got this recipe from my cousin in Miami. He has been through so many hurricanes that knock out the power for weeks at a time, resulting in him being a master griller. He grilled up some eggplant/ham/cheese things a couple months ago, so I tried my attempt. I call it a success. Here’s what you need:

Eggplant
Sliced ham
Mozzarella cheese (skim or whole, whatever you like – I did skim shredded or whole – I had shredded this time, but I liked slicing it better)
Olive oil
Salt (I used Kosher)
Black pepper (I used fresh ground)

Preheat the grill. I used medium-low.

Slice the eggplant so that you have round pieces. The thickness should be between 1/8 inch to ¼ inch. Lay them out, drizzle olive oil and dust with salt and pepper. Do this to both sides. Slice ham and mozzarella cheese (if not shredded) the same size as eggplant slices.

Once the heat is going, lay out the eggplant on the grill leaving room to flip these little guys and not letting them slide through the grating. I cooked them approximately 4 minutes on one side with the cover closed, enough for the decorative lines to burn in. Turn over, and let it grill for 2 minutes with the cover closed. Place pieces of ham on each piece of eggplant, and then add cheese. Close the cover to let it cook some more and for the cheese to melt. Transfer finished product to plate, and enjoy!

Now then, the turkey

First - BE SURE YOU HAVE ENOUGH OIL THE DAY BEFORE!!!

I give you this warning, so you don’t run into my situation this year where you’re driving from place to place to find almost every place is either closed or all out. I was lucky to find a store that had a 3 gallon container, but it was pricey. Normally I can get about 5 gallons for $21, but this was 3 for $25. I didn’t want to spend $50 on oil that I would use once, so I bought the 3 gallon container and hoped that it would work for me.

Let the turkey sit at room temperature for an hour. This is not necessary, but it’ll help cooking so the turkey is not as cold when it goes into the fryer. While the turkey is warming up to room temperature, begin heating the oil. The oil should be between 350 – 370. Note – if you overheat the oil, bring it back down. The oil needs to be a steady 350 – 370. Last year I had the oil at 400 degrees, and I figured the cold turkey would bring down the temperature. It did, but it still resulted in the skin much darker than I wanted, even burnt in some areas, while the inside was partially uncooked.

When the oil has a steady temperature, lower the bird into the pot. SLOWLY. As soon as something comes into contact with the oil, lots of sizzling, bubbling, boiling, noise, splattering, and more happens. It’s best to use gloves while doing this. I even put on some pants in case hot oil splatters onto my legs, but none did.

Once the turkey is fully resting in the oil, kick back, and enjoy the smell that fills the air. Your neighbors may come out and talk to you at that moment, so have some beverages handy in case. I kicked back and typed out this blog, surfed the web, and enjoyed the weather. About every 10 minutes, pick up the turkey a little, and change the movement, just in case the heat is concentrating on one part of the bird. Calculate 3 ½ minutes per pound. I had 11 pounds, so I let it bathe in the oil for about 39 minutes.

When 39 minutes came around, I shut off the flame, and I pulled the turkey out, slowly, to discover a beautifully cooked bird. As you take the turkey off the stand, you hear the crispy skin break off. When you grab a hold of the turkey, the feeling of the crackling outer layer in hands make you want to sink your teeth into it at that moment. Let it sit for about 5 minutes to cool down a bit. It’ll be hard, because as soon as people see it, they immediately begin cracking off pieces of the skin and munching on them like potato chips. And when you cut it, be sure it’s in a tray to catch the juices.

If you like this as much as me, even carving the turkey is enjoyable as you hear the knife pierce through the new coat of armor it’s wearing. As you serve the meat to your guests, you like to watch them smile, almost licking their lips. When those bite into a deep-fried turkey for the first time, and they comment on how much better, and juicier it is than the typical baked, dry turkey like what happened to me, you can sit back and think “mission accomplished.”

Now what the heck are you going to do with several galloons of turkey flavored peanut oil??? =]


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Gobble II - Part 1

(This is "II" because I started writing this for another blog last Thanksgiving, but I never included the finished result. Here is the beginning, Part 1, and the ending, Part 2, with edits to reflect this year. Enjoy!)

Gobble. That is exactly what I'm gonna do this Thanksgiving. Turkey Day is at my house, so I am the chef. I prepared the turkey yesterday/Wednesday, so it is sitting in my refrigerator marinating.


I am deep frying the bird this year. Now that I live in the south (Washington, D.C.), I gotta do the southern thAng. Y’all. But it’s not new to me. I did it back when I was up north (Chicago). It was always a big hit. In fact, the last time I did it there, my Father’s friends brought their turkeys over so I can cook them, too! The wonderful thing about deep-frying is the speed. Forget the hours on end in the oven; deep frying will produce a fully cooked bird in LESS than an hour. Oh, and another advantage… the taste! We all had the dry turkey. Those days are over. When you introduce the turkey to oil that is almost 400 degrees, it instantly sears the skin, therefore keeping the juices inside. Not to mention keeping the oil outside, so it’s not unhealthy as you may think when you hear “deep fried.” Well, onto my mission for a successful Thanksgiving. I hope.

First off, I purchased a big-daddy Bayou Classic 44 quart deep fryer at Costco. This thing is bad ass. A man's cooking utensil. Something to interupt tailgating at the SuperBowl for a moment for all to "oohhh" & "aahh."










Everything is a beautiful stainless steel, right down to the injector. This thing is like a hypodermic needle for Frankenstein. It’s so nice, it makes you want to shoot heroin.









Now that I have the fryer, I picked up the propane-filled tank at Home Depot. (Thank God for building one recently that’s practically walking distance to the house.)












Next is the turkey. The typical “family turkey” is about 25 pounds. At least, that’s what I used to buy. I wouldn’t suggest this size for frying; get one no larger than 15 pounds (though this fryer states 25 is the maximum weight). This is because if it’s in the oil too long to cook the inside, the skin will begin to burn and get too dark. And it’s quick to fry, so don’t worry about time if you need/want to cook multiple turkeys like I have in the past. The second time around is actually quicker, since the oil is even hotter. I settled on an 11-pound Butterball.












Now, to prepare…

After washing the bird inside and out, I give it a dry rub a few days before the deep-fry. I used whatever I had in the kitchen, so I used Kosher salt, chili pepper, cumin, Cayenne pepper, Creole seasoning, white pepper powder, nutmeg, onion powder, crushed red pepper, fresh ground black pepper, and Adobo seasoning. (I get this from Latino supermarkets.) This picture reminds me of the days in grade school where if someone is not present, they’re not in the picture, yet there will be a mention of them in the yearbook. I say that because as I was making the rub after I took the picture, I started adding this, and that.







There’s really no wrong way to make a rub, since it’s up to the eaters’ tastes. Too salty or too spicy, maybe, but other than that, pretty much anything goes. I mix it in a bowl, and then I turn the bird upside down. I work the rub into every corner: under the wings, in the neck hole, etc. I turn it back up, and place it in the disposable aluminum turkey pan. I finish rubbing the turkey on top, covering the drumsticks, inserting my hand inside the cavity, etc.









I like to marinate the turkey. I also do this a few days before frying. You do this by injecting marinade into the thick portions of the bird. This year I made the marinade with garlic powder, chili powder, Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, and vegetable oil (again, not all pictured). Some of the marinade spilled out from the holes where I injected it.






















I took out the giblets (this year I only found a neckbone - I wanted the liver, heart, etc. for later, so that's a bummer.), washed down the bird (inside & out), stuck the needle in the bowl, filled up the syringe, and went to work. As you pump marinade into the bird, you will see the skin bubble up as the marinade fills the cavity. I’m like a turkey’s plastic surgeon giving it fat implants. It’s a good feeling.








When I’m finished, I place it on the aluminum tray I picked up at the store, top it off with tin foil, and leave it in my refrigerator until Thanksgiving. If you can't fit it into the fridge, the weather may be cold enough so you can leave it in your garage or outside; it's one of a few things good thing about cold weather - it acts as a refrigerator in case yours is full. Just be careful not to leave it on your deck where animals can get to it like the squirrels did to my friend’s mother’s sweet potato pie one year!












I essentially did the same thing with the neckbone, but I put the spices and marinade in a Ziploc bag, placed the pieces in there, and shook it up. That is sitting in the fridge. I may include it in the fryer, or I may do something else with it. I’ll take a vote on Turkey Day.

When deep frying, I like to use peanut oil for several reasons: it doesn’t smoke too much, the taste, and that it’s not as unhealthy as other oils. (Speaking of healthy, this is the second time I’ve mentioned it. Since I am on a health kick, I am going to cook with the health factor in mind, so this year will not include the typical mashed potatoes smothered in cheese or marshmallow and sweet potato pies.)

Stay tuned for Part Deuce