Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It is easy being green

The great thing about cooking fried rice is it's so quick to cook, a great way to clean out the fridge, and incredibly delicious. Here's a version I cooked up that was very healthy and extremely delicious - edamame, romaine, celery, and tons of green onions.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Jambalaya - First Try

I had a craving for some jambalaya, so I decided to give it a try using a recipe from one of Paul Prudhomme's books (former head chef of the famous Commander's Palace in New Orleans) as inspiration. I was very pleased with the results from my first try and I'll definitely be tweaking it next time - me thinks duck fat and dark beer will amp up the flavor a lot more. Obviously, probably not very authentic, but pretty damn delicious.

Store Bought Cajun Seasoning
1 tbsp chipotle powder
4 chicken thighs
5 andouille sausage links - cut into bite sized pieces
3 springs of thyme leaves minced
2 stalks celery diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded, and diced
1 onion diced
4 green onions sliced
4 cloves garlic minced
4 sprigs thyme - mince leaves only
2 bay leaves
3 cups long grain rice
2 cups crushed tomato
4 cups chicken broth
salt and black pepper

1) Sear the meats in a heavy bottom pot. Sear sausages on both sides over medium high heat and remove. The andouille will give it a great smoky flavor and make it taste like jambalaya. Season chicken with cajun seasoning, sear on both sides only (not fully cooked), and remove. Remove chicken skins (you can make chicken skins which are delicious) and pour out all but 1 tbsp of chicken/sausage fat.
2) Saute vegetables and aromatics all seasoned with salt and pepper on medium heat - holy trinity (onions, peppers, and celery), green onions, thyme, bay leaves, 1 tbsp cajun seasoning, chipotle powder, and garlic until soft. Make sure to scrape up some of the brown bits at the bottom. Some notes - the trinity is the other base that really makes this taste like jambalaya...incredibly awesome and totally permeates the entire dish. Also, I know chipotle powder is not authentic, but I didn't have any cayenne pepper. Chipotle still gives you the hot flavor, but adds smokiness which is killer in the jambalaya.
3) Cook the rice - by sauteeing it for a minute or two until rice is coated with the chicken/sausage fat. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, chicken and sausage, bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover for 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, shred the chicken and fold into the rice, serve and enjoy. Oh, and btw - jambalaya served on top of crispy chicken skins is stupid eff'n good.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Every time I head back from a trip to Boston, I make it a point to
stop at Frank Pepe's in New Haven, CT for a pie.

Sausage and Onions totally hit the spot.
Hit or miss, this time was money.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Veal Cutlets with Spaghetti and Kabocha Squash

With the fall weather coming on, I had a hankering for some squash so I decided to do some pasta. In terms of protein, I was sick of cooking chicken and fish so some veal caught my eye. The combo totally worked. Crispy tender veal cutlets was nicely cut by the agrodolce (sweet/sour) kabocha squash sauce. Pretty damn fun.

4 veal cutlets
panko bread crumbs
zest from 1 lemon
2 rosemary sprigs - minced leaves only
4 sprigs thyme - mince leaves only
1/3 cup parmiggiano-reggiano finely grated
2 cloves garlic finely minced, 4 whole cloves garlic
2 eggs/water beaten
ap flour
1/2 package whole wheat spaghetti
1/2 onion sliced
1 kabocha squash peeled, seeded, and cut into bite size piece
red wine vinegar
2 tbsp honey
salt and black pepper
extra virgin olive oil

1) Get your breading station ready. Flour in one container, beaten eggs/water in another, and the breading (panko, lemon zest, minced garlic, parmiggiano, rosemary, thyme) in the last. Season all containers with salt and pepper. This is my standard breading and it goes well with chicken and fish - bright pops with the lemon zest and the garlic/cheese make it incredibly addicting to eat.
2) Bread the veal - flour, egg, and bread crumb. Make sure it's completely coated in each to ensure a nice crust. When you get to the bread crumbs, pat the bread crumbs in to ensure the breading will stick. Set aside.
3) Roast the squash - place the cut up squash on a tray in a 400F oven. Season with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the whole garlic cloves to the tray and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
4) Make the squash sauce by cooking onions in a wok (or large pan) in olive oil until soft. Season with salt and pepper and add the squash, roasted garlic. Add splash red wine vinegar, honey, and a cup of water. Cook down until it forms a loose paste.
5) Cook pasta within 1 minute of the instructions. Take the pasta water out (maybe 2-4 cups) and add to the squash sauce. Add the spaghetti to the sauce. Consistency of sauce and pasta should be relatively loose. The pasta should not be clumpy - if it is, add more pasta water. Finish with olive oil and more parmiggiano.
6) Cook the veal in a large pan over medium high heat with a good amount of olive oil - almost a shallow fry. Make sure the oil is pretty hot otherwise it won't brown properly - the abundance of oil will help as well Also, per Mr Ramsay, cooking anything in cold oil will make it greasy. Cook 2-3 minutes each side making sure not to burn it. Put on top of the pasta and finish with lemon juice, olive oil, and more parmiggiano. Buono appetito!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Le Cirque - Review

Le Cirque
151 E 58th St, New York 10022
Btwn Lexington & 3rd Ave
Phone: (212) 644-0202

Men's eating club round 3 - Porthos pick for the next round of eating was the famous Le Cirque restaurant. This place has been around since 1974 and served the rich and famous for a long time. And here we are. For some odd reason, Le Cirque has never been on my list of go to restaurants. Regardless of the previous reasons, I'm glad I went this night as we got to eat at the chef's table in the kitchen. They're producing some solid food here and it was such a spectacular time hanging with the fellas. Killer meal and way too many laughs. Gracias to Mr. Risotto for the excellent pix.

Our Menu
Oyster *
Solid kushi oyster spiked with some herb (maybe taragon?). Nice and bright pop.

Oysters ***
Mushroom Broth
This was pretty ridiculous - first time I've had an oyster prepared this way. Oyster was gently poached in the mushroom broth and had an almost japanese fried oyster flavor. So friggin delicious - rich and unctuous. And, the oyster was still tender and only barely cooked through.

Marinated Big Eye Tuna (est. 2008) *
avocado tapenade, celemtines, and sesame tuille
Nice and delicate. Everyone's had tuna and avocado salad before, but this was done so precisely. The avocado added the nice creaminess while the clementines opened up the palate.

Torchon of Foie Gras *
cherries, balsamic, and pistachio
We've all had foie gras many a time, but I've never had it with pistachio and balsamic - molto italiano and it works out quite well. The torched figs were pretty damn tasty.

Wild Burgundy Escargot **
gruyere gnocchi, pickled garlic scapes, and bottarga
I love escargot and I get pretty irritated when bistros eff this up. This was perfectly done - great flavor, incredibly tender, and uber garlicky. Also nice touch with the gruyere gnocchi which was more like the french gougeres - light and fluffy on the outside and creamy on the inside.

Pasta Primavera *
Everyone's had pasta primavera (spring in Italian) before, but this is where the dish originated. Pretty damn fun - never had vegetables this perfectly cooked in a primavera, not mushy/soggy and still retaining their individual flavor. My only wish is that the texture was slightly looser, but this is where this dish was originated so what do i know?

Diver Scallops “Black Tie” (est. 1986) **
spinach, turnips and truffles
A dish created by Daniel Boulud when he was running the kitchen here. Kinda like a beef wellington with the rich sauce and puff pastry. Definitely a softball pitch/crowd pleaser of a dish. What's not to like when you have truffles, scallops, puff pastry and a huge fond de veau sauce. Even the turnips were friggin awesome.

Long Island Duck Breast **
balinese pepper, pluots, mignonette jus
I've had a ton of duck dishes, but never with these flavorings. Duck is generally served with a super rich or a cloyingly sweet sauce. This instead was served with a nice bright mignonette sauce with some lavender going on. The pluots were a big time wtf delicious.

Duo of Wagyu Beef (est. 2011) **
short rib strudel, rib eye, foie gras sabayon
Foie gras sauce and super rich wagyu sirloin. Friggin fantastic although this was definitely borderline overload of richness of food at this point.

I didn't try all the desserts since after all that food and three bottles of wine I was in food/wine coma. The ones that I tried did kick massive ars.

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way | (no stars - poor to average) | * Good | ** Great | *** What the F – in a good way

Overall Restaurant Experience
  • Food (N/A) – Solid food with great balance - nice pop to the dishes. A nice lightness to the entire meal.
  • Service (A) – Owners/chefs stop by and food comes out at a great pace. Sommelier stopped by multiple times to make sure our glasses were never empty and the waiters were definitely on top of their game.
  • Atmosphere (A+) – Eating in the kitchen is a food geek's dream and it was a pretty awesome experience - definitely a dinner and a show. The kitchen runs like a well oiled machine with people focused and moving extremely fast and nimble. Only a few Gordon Ramsay type blowups, but it was probably a 5/10 in terms of how bad it could be.
  • Price (N/A) – $125 for the tasting menu, but we got a massive hookup since we had the inside connection.
Closing Comments
Definitely a once in a lifetime experience and thanks to the kitchen team for a great

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday Lunch

Football on the big screen, autumnation beer (hoppy brew with pumpkin, ginger, fall spices), and guac. What more can a dude ask for?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches - Review

Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches - Dude Grade: B
99 Nassau St
Btwn Fulton and Anne St
Manhattan, NY 10038
Phone: (212) 766-3388

I love working downtown since there's such a wide range of delicious lunch spots that are for the most part relatively cheap. Nicky's is one of those examples. Although I love me a vietnamese sandwich, something about a nice bowl of pho makes me uber happy especially with the cold weather.

Our Menu
Beef Pho *
A solid beef pho and one of my favorites in the area which is surprising that so many people do it so shitty. Tribeca Viet Cafe - I'm looking at you ($13 for subpar pho at viet cafe vs $9 for solid pho at Nicky's). The broth here is very solid, the noodles are nicely al dente and they come packed with a ton of ingredients - a lot of bean sprouts, cilantro, green onions, jalapeno slices which are awesome with the broth, and beef tendon/brisket.

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way | (no stars - poor to average) | * Good | ** Great | *** What the F – in a good way

Closing Comments
100% my go to soup place and I need to check out the sandwiches, since the name of the shop has sandwiches in it. One day...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Le Singe Vert

Le Singe Vert
160 7th Ave
Btwn 19th and 20th St
Manhattan, NY 10011
Phone: (212) 366-4100

I've been meaning to stop by our buddies place, Le Singe Vert, for a while now, but the social obligations over the last two months have been a wee bit too much. Well, we finally made time and it was definitely worth the wait. Le Singe Vert does bistro food very well and even the brunch kicks ars too. The food was so much fun, I went twice in the span of a week. Need to schedule round three as I've been told the venison bolognese is spectacular.

Our Menu
(from brunch and dinner)

Octopus Salad
A great wtf type of octopus - incredibly tender and huge flavors with the anchovies/garlic. The potatoes make it satisfying and the tomatoes give it that bright sweet pop.

La Parisienne
Nice and fluffy eggs with a fun gruyere and ham thing going on.

French Toast

I'm not a huge brunch guy, but this was pretty stupid delicious - like absurd yummy. So, light, fluffy, and creamy and I knew it was my buddies cooking as he added the nice twist of armagnac/calvados to the side creme fraiche.

Truffle Fries
Everyone does these, but I don't care since these are delicious. Good potato flavor, nice and crispy and awesome with the bearnaise sauce.

Chicken Liver Mousse w/ Green Apple and Cornichon
I love chicken liver mousse and this was probably one of the best versions I've had in a long time. Flavor was so eff'n spot on and the hint of alcohol (maybe calvados/armagnac again?) made this thing pop. The green apple/cornichon was perfect to cut the richness of this dish.
Fun mix of salamis, pates, and pickled veg (onions/cornichons).

La Verte
After all the richness of the chicken liver and the charcuterie, I decided we needed some salad and this was actually pretty delicious. The escarole had a nice hearty texture/flavor with the perfect amount of dressing and quite fun with the goat cheese crouton. Our buddy did make fun of us for ordering this, but we made the USDA proud by completing the food pyramid :)

I've been craving some bouillabase and this hit the spot. Seafood was cooked spot on and it was what I needed in the cold weather.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tasty Sluts

This is totally absurd.
But I like it.

Chicken Soup

One thing we loved in Taiwan is delicious soup at the end of every meal. I decided to cook up some chicken soup and it couldn't be any easier - incredibly comforting and satisfying.

As with any chicken soup there are some basic guidelines to follow.
1) More chicken bones = more richness/flavor
2) For a balanced soup - think high notes (sweetness from the cabbage and the ginger) and low notes (earthy/richness form the mushrooms)
3) Using a tall narrow pot ensures there will be a lot of ingredients per drop of water. A wider pot and you'll have to break down the ingredients a lot more to get the same water/ingredient ratio.

4 chicken thighs bone-in, skin on
Two chicken backs/necks
10 shitake mushrooms cut into bite sized pieces
1 onion thinly sliced
1 knob ginger minced
4 cloves garlic minced
1 napa cabbage
sea salt and white pepper
sesame oil
splash xiao xing wine

1) Add sesame oil to a tall narrow pot and cook onions down until soft - not browned. Season with salt and pepper and xiao xing wine. Cook until alcohol smell dissipates.
2) Add everything else but the cabbage to the pot. Top off with water - water level should be an inch from covering the ingredients.
3) Bring to a boil, then simmer. Skim off all the fat/impurities from the top.
4) Simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Skim again. Add the napa cabbage and cook for another 15 minutes - so the cabbage doesn't disintegrate. Do a last skimming and add sesame oil to finish. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. You can serve with cooked noodles or just enjoy on it's own.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sunday Grilling

Toasted PB&J

One of my favorite comfort foods is PB&J, so I decided to make some over the weekend. Throw some bread with some crunchy peanut butter in the oven and you'll get this roasted peanut thing going that gets uber creamy and gooey and the bread will get nice and crunchy. Homemade plum jam provided by the wife's cousin Josephine. Definitely will put a huge smile on your face.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Green Tea IPA

Baird, Ishii, and Stone putting their brains together for this amazing
Green Tea IPA.

The key is to not steep the tea in the early phase of the wort, but
treat it like if you were dry hopping at the end. Eliminating any
unwanted bitter notes from tea leaves and pulling just the essence and
naturally sweet notes.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Pane Panelle - Review

Pane Panelle
305 1/2 Church St
Btwn Lispenard and Walker St
Manhattan, NY 10013
Phone: (212) 219-2357

I've been wanting to check out this sandwich shop for a while, so I decided to stop by since I was in the area. The place is a little sandwich shop attached to the fun Stuzzicheria - more like a hallway on the side. This is definitely the most satisfying vegetarian sandwich I've ever had - did not need meat at all. Highly recommended.

Our Menu
Pane e Panelle **
Chickpea Fritter, Ricotta, Caciocavallo
The great thing about this sandwich is it totally embodies Italian cuisine - minimal high quality ingredients that perfectly complement each other. The brioche bun is soft and a little sweet. The Ricotta/Caciocavallo spread is creamy, salty, and almost a little meaty. The olive oil is incredibly fruity and adds a little lubrication. The chickpea fritter has a great crisp to it - not heavy, but really light. Perfect balance. The only thing holding this back from a wtf sandwich is it was a tad dry, not terribly so but just a little.

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way | (no stars - poor to average) | * Good | ** Great | *** What the F – in a good way