Monday, December 31, 2007

Quelques cadeaux de cuisine

Now that the holidays are over and I've bought everyone their presents (until February 11, Ozzy's second birthday), the time has come to buy myself some. The Boy and I had some time to kill and were wandering around the East Village and (completely by accident, I assure you!) we found ourselves in front of Broadway Panhandler, an excellent kitchen-supply store with much better prices than the more upscale chains. Not wanting to argue with fate, we decided to go in and see what was what.

After browsing for quite some time, we ended up with three items, all of which I needed and two of which were recommended by Cooks Illustrated. Our first purchase was a 6" Forschner Cook's Knife by Victorinox ($21.95). We already have an 8" forged chef's knife that's quite expensive and high-quality that the Boy bought in France. While this is a fantastic knife, I have small hands and, honestly, find it a clunky, heavy knife to wield precisely enough for small dicing or deboning. My new 6" knife is lightweight and small enough for me to feel in control. The Boy, of course, still prefers his French blade.

Our next purchase was recommended by the gentleman in charge of knives at Broadway Panhandler and it is a 6" Chef's Knife Edge Guard ($2.95). This way, since we don't have space for a knife block in our kitchen, we can just store our blade with the rest of our cutlery without fear of being stabbed when I reach for an innocuous fork or spoon.

And, finally, we bought what Mom refers to as a "real kitchen workhorse," a Pyrex Baking Pan (not available from their website). I haven't used it yet, but I'll be sure to tell you when I do!

Broadway Panhandler
65 East 8th Street
New York, NY 10003

Friday, December 28, 2007

Poulet et ciboules sautes

We're (hopefully) moving to Chinatown within the next few of months, so I'm doing my best to reduce the number of cans and jars that we have to schlep with us. Therefore, today's dish was created with our Soy Sauce in mind. Because of this, it definitely has an Asian kick to it. That, and it gave me a wonderful excuse to use my wok.

I based this stir-fry on one I made over two years ago, Uncle Wiggly's Stir-fried Turkey and Scallions. Unfortunately, I had no Turkey Thighs, but I had some frozen Chicken Breasts from Trader Joe's, so I defrosted four of them (two for each of us--we're big eaters) and used those instead. Because I was using Breasts rather than the tastier Thighs, I cooked used Chicken Stock as my liquid rather than Broth; I find Stock thicker and, therefore, more flavorful. I served this over Rice, which I highly recommend. Brown Rice adds a wonderfully nutty taste and texture to the dish and, I believe, improves it greatly. Just make sure you make the rice first and just keep it warm while you stir-fry your ingredients; better that the Rice begin to cool than the stir-fry. Also feel free to substitute any other vegetables for the Green Onions. Enjoy!

Poulet et ciboules sautes

In a small bowl, combine Chicken, 1 1/2 teaspoons Soy Sauce, Sherry, 1/4 teaspoon Brown Sugar, Lemon Pepper, Salt, Pepper and Potato Starch. Mix well with your hands until Chicken feels slightly sticky and evenly marinated. In a separate bowl, mash Soybeans, then add Garlic, Ginger and remaining Soy Sauce and Brown Sugar, mixing well.

Heat wok over high heat until smoking. Swirl in Vegetable Oil, coating as much of the sides of the wok as possible. Add Chicken, spreading evenly over the bottom. Let cook 1 minute, undisturbed, until Chicken is browned. Stir-fry, lifting meat with a spatula, for another minute. Add Soybean mixture, 4 Green Onions and Stock and stir-fry for 1 minute, until Chicken is cooked through and sauce is thickened. Add the chopped Green Onion. Serve over Rice. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Penne a ricotta salata, brocolini et tomates roties au four

This has been quite a busy weekend! Finally having some free time on my hands, I decided to give my blog a much-needed facelift (something I planned on doing at the beginning of 2006, but never got around to). If you have any comments or suggestions, please let me know!

And now for the recipe portion of our program. Ozzy was sick last week and, being the concerned mother I am, I wasn't much in the mood to do any fancy cooking. That, and I've been performing in Brooklyn on the weekends so I haven't been up for anything too interesting. What I really wanted was something tasty and fun, but still easy and uncomplicated. I also had some Broccolini in the fridge that needed to be used up. If you haven't had Broccolini before, I highly recommend it. It's a cross between Broccoli and Chinese Kale and delightfully tender.

Hoping for inspiration, I trawled the food blogs and came up with a recipe from Chef Yum Yum for her version of Macaroni and Cheese that she calls Food Like a Hug. Unfortunately, I didn't have all the necessary ingredients handy, so I potchked around a bit and came up with my own version. The one thing I kept, though (and my favorite part of the dish) were the oven-roasted tomatoes. I'll definitely be making them again. Try this as either a side or a main and enjoy!

Penne a ricotta salata, brocolini et tomates roties au four
Oven-roasted tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a baking pan with Olive Oil.

Cut Tomatoes in half lengthwise, then remove core and seeds. Place cut-side up on baking pan, then drizzle with Olive Oil and add Salt, Lemon Pepper and Pepper.

Bake for 50 minutes, until tomatoes are melting. Serve as soon as possible.

Penne with ricotta salata and broccolini

Boil a large pot of salted water. While waiting for it to boil, trim ends off of Broccolini. Add to Water and cook 5 minutes, until bright green and crisp-tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Return Water to boil, add Penne and cook according to package directions, until al dente. Melt Butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 clove Garlic and saute 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add Panko, Parsley, 1/4 teaspoon Lemon Pepper, Dash Salt and 1/4 teaspoon Pepper. Lower heat and fry 4 minutes, being careful not to burn Panko.

Heat Olive Oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 3 cloves Garlic, Red Pepper Flakes and dash Lemon Pepper. Add Broccolini and saute 1 minute, until heated through. Season to taste with remaining Salt and Pepper.

Place Ricotta Salata in serving bowl. Drain Penne and add to Ricotta in bowl, stirring until well combined. Top with Broccolini and Panko. Serve with Tomatoes alongside. Enjoy!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Cuisses de poulet braisees, avec des olives manzanilla

I like Food Magazines a lot. In fact, whenever one is around, I devour it. So why don't I subscribe to any, you ask? Simple--I'm a packrat. It's hard enough to remind myself to use ALL my cookbooks (not just repeating recipes from a few), so to add magazines (a new one of which would arrive every month) is unthinkable. And don't suggest throwing the old ones out--what if there was a great recipe in there that I'm dying to try but don't get around to that month? Believe me, there would be one in every issue. So, instead, I content myself with my cookbooks and the internet.

One wonderful part of using the internet to help decide what to make for dinner is that my favorite magazines have internet sites and their recipes are often published on Epicurious. One such magazine, Food & Wine, has a great search engine and is a constant source of inspiration. My favorite column, Chefs Recipes Made Easy, takes a restaurant chef's recipe and simplifies it for the home cook--perfect for those of us with high aspirations but limited time and resources.

The recipe I'm sharing today, Braised Chicken Legs with Manzanilla Olives, is gently adapted from one in that column. I served it with a bowl of Cheese Avocado Soup to start, though the Chicken could just as easily be its own meal. And while it was delicious the night we had it, it was even better reheated a few days later. Enjoy!

Braised Chicken Leg Quarters with Manzanilla Olives

Preheat oven to 350 F. Pour Olive Oil into large, oven-proof pot and heat over a medium-high flame until it slides around easily. Season Chicken with Salt and Pepper. Add three legs to pot (or as many as fit in one layer without overlapping) and cook 5 minutes, until browned. Flip onto uncooked side and repeat. Remove browned Chicken to a plate and repeat process with remaining legs, lowering the heat to medium if pot is well-insulated.

Add Bacon, Onion and Carrots and raise heat again to medium-high and cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until barely soft. Add Olives, Bay Leaf, Broth and Chicken Legs. Submerge legs as much as possible and bring mixture to a boil, raising heat to high. Cover pot and transfer to oven for 45 minutes, until Chicken is cooked through and Carrots are soft.

Remove from oven and replace pot on stove, over high heat. Boil 5 minutes, to reduce liquid. Lower heat and cook another 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Salade Riviera

Today I offer you another Salad recipe, this one inspired by a packaged Fresh Express Salad Blend I saw at the supermarket. Called the Riviera Salad, it was a mix of Butter Lettuce and Radicchio. Remembering I had a head of Radicchio at home, I decided to put it to use and make my own Riviera Salad.
To me, a Salad with such an evocative name should be far more exciting than just a mix of two lettuces. The Riviera is the French Riviera, bordering with Italy. The food is light and fresh and flavorful. Nice is there, one of our favorite cities when we traveled through France, and its Salads are full of goodies and delicious. Here, then, is my Salade Riviera, greatly inspired by La Nicoise.
Salade Riviera


First, make the Dressing. Combine all ingredients in a jar and mix well.

Next, make the Salad. Combine ingredients in a bowl and toss. Add Dressing to taste. Enjoy!

Friday, December 07, 2007


I know this post is long overdue, but we had such a delicious meal at Craft that I absolutely had to review it. We went there for my birthday dinner and had an absolutely marvelous time.
When I was growing up, my birthday was always spent at my then-favorite restaurant, Union Square Cafe. I knew the menu by heart and would spend the entire year deciding what I would eat for my celebratory birthday meal.
This year, the Boy offered to organize my birthday festivities, which included a trip to the Cloisters, lunch at New Leaf Cafe (right by the Cloisters, and where I'd been dying to go for some time) and a dinner with several family members--Mom, Dad, Uncle Steven and Jake, my cousin. And, of course, the Boy. Sadly, Ozzy couldn't join us, seeing as how we're in the States and not France. We had planned on going to Union Square Cafe for dinner, but they were booked solid and couldn't accomodate our party until too late, so we began to look at other places. We finally settled on Craft and I am thrilled that we did.
We were seated at a long table up against the window and the only problem the whole night was that a chill came in from the window. No matter--the food and company more than made up for it.
Craft's shtick is that all the dishes are "separate." This means that instead of creating a complicated combination of ingredients on one plate (Meat + Vegetable + Starch), all components are served separately. So if you order Meat, you are just ordering meat. The vegetables are served family-style, making this the perfect place to dine with a large group who loves eating and sharing--ours!
The Menu is divided into First Courses, Main Courses and Side Dishes. Everything is then divided again by cooking method, a fascinating way of doing so. And without further ado, a recap of our meal, as best I can remember it:
For his First Course, the Boy ordered Roasted Quail & 50-Year Balsamic. This was one Quail, roasted to perfection and drizzled with the richest Balsamic Vinegar glaze that I have ever had. This may very well have been the best dish we had all night. It can also be served as a Main Course (2 Quails instead of 1) and, when next I return, that may very well be what I order. Mom and Dad both began with the same salad--Wild Arugula and Lemon. Since I recently began my own love affair with Wild Arugula, it was a delight to see it on a menu. The salad was clean, crisp and simple--exactly what a salad should be. Uncle Steven also ordered a salad, Butter Lettuce. It was light and tasty. I ordered Hamachi & Bartlett Pear. This was a cold appetizer, the Hamachi raw and thinly sliced. It paired beautifully with the crisp, almost tangy Pear. Finally, Jake enjoyed a dish with Foie Gras that, surprisingly, was not as clawingly rich as I often find Foie Gras. Unfortunately, I can't remember more details of his first course.
For Main Courses, we were far less diverse. Dad and I both had the Roasted 28-Day Dry-Aged Sirloin & Bone Marrow. This was absolutely divine--rich and delicious. And even though it could be ordered by just one person, because both of us ordered it, it was served on one plate as a giant steak with a big, delicious bone. The only thing slightly off for me was that the Bone Marrow was so rich I found it an unnecessary accompaniment. But Dad liked it, so I gave my Marrow to the Boy who thoroughly appreciated it. Uncle Steven, Jake and the Boy also ordered the same Main Course--Braised Beef Short Rib & Root Vegetable. Again, the Short Ribs were all served on one platter, the dished up to the expectant plates. The meat literally fell off the bone and was so rich a delicious--a perfect cold-weather dish and one the Boy has been begging me to try my hand at for some time. As usual, Mom was the iconoclast and opted for the Roasted Pheasant & Prune--another wonderful dish, though she found the meat a tad salty.
All our Side Dishes were shared and proved a wonderful counterpart to the mains. We had Potato Gnocchi, homemade Gnocchi that actually tasted like rich, creamy Potatoes in a plain Butter sauce. I could have made a meal just of that. We also had Roasted Bluefoot Mushrooms, having been attracted by the name; Golden Nuggets -- the most perfect Tater Tots imaginable; and Braised Escarole.
Next came Desserts and, somehow, we all (except Uncle Steven) managed to clean our plates yet again. I had a Brioche Pain Perdu with Roasted Banana. The dessert menu works as an extension of the regular menu, so you can still piece together your ideal dish from various components. The Pain Perdu (or French Toast to us lay-people) was divine--rich and creamy--and the Banana was just beginning to crisp and caramelize, provided a delectable flavor and texture contrast. The Boy had an Apple and Quince Tarte Tatin, a mini-pie, rather than just a slice. Dad, Mom and Jake all had dishes I can no longer remember, but that, I'm sure, were delicious.
We were also served wonderful Amuse-Bouches, tidbits between courses and a post-dessert dessert, as well as the Apple Crumb Muffins pictured at the beginning of the post which served as breakfast the following morning. There was also wonderful Red Wine to wash it all down.
All in all a thoroughly delicious meal. I can't wait to return!
43 East 19th Street
New York, NY 10003

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Salade de saumon fume, avec avocat

When I was a kid, I hated Salad, always seeking out cooked greens (especially Spinach) rather than raw ones. Now, however, I've developed a liking for them. Easy to make, there are infinite variations and they can be anything from Dessert to a Side Dish, to a Meal in and of themselves.

I often find Smoked Salmon very salty; what I loved about this Salad is that the slightly sweet dressing, as well as the presence of the Avocado, provided a perfect balance.

I served this Salad as a side dish, with Fusilli Carbonara. The Pasta was less than memorable, but the Salad was delicious. In a warmer month, I could see serving it with some crusty Bread as a full meal.

Salade de saumon fume, avec avocat

First, make the Dressing: Whisk together Balsamic Vinegar, Orange Zest and Honey in a small bowl. Slowly add Olive Oil, whisking the whole time, then Fleur de Sel, Pepper and Smoked Paprika to taste. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine Spring Salad Mix, Red Onion, Smoked Salmon and Avocado. Add Dressing and toss well. Enjoy!