Sunday, November 30, 2008

Blog on hold for a few days

Hi all,

I am on a remote island in Canada for my uncle's memorial service and do not have access to wireless to post from my laptop, where all of my pictures are. Sooo the blog will be on hold until Friday, December 5 at the latest (hopefully sooner). At that time I will have about 10 postings to put up! Thanks for your patience, and thanks to everyone who sent me Thanksgiving photos! That being said, if you haven't emailed me Thanksgiving pictures, it's not too late since I am delayed!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Photo Submissions

Obviously I am going to have a mega Thanksgiving post. Evan and I are going to each be with our respective families for Thanksgiving, and I was going to give him a camera so I could post on the two celebrations. This got me thinking: it would be cool to show many Thanksgivings! So, I am requesting photo submissions from your Thanksgiving celebration.

Submission Requirements:
  • Email one picture that sums up your Thanksgiving to
  • The picture must primarily focus on food, although if there are people as well that is up to you
  • Provide a brief (like one sentence) description
  • Please send the picture to me by Friday, November 28 if possible (November 29 at the latest).


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Out on the Town: Mercadito

Sadly, Abby will be leaving us to travel in South America for a few months. Although we will miss her dearly, her departure was a good excuse to get together and eat delicious food. Abby chose Mercadito, a Mexican ceviche and taco restaurant on 11th and B. We were going to have the $30 tasting menu, but then we discovered that on Mondays they have all you can eat tacos for $23/person. We definitely got our money's worth! The tacos are small, but we ate plenty. We had tacos with shrimp, mahi mahi, pork, beef, chicken, and vegetables.

The tacos were incredible, particularly the shrimp and mahi mahi. They also make unbelievable margaritas and mango mojitos. Be sure to call ahead if you are in a large group as they are very particular. We all had to agree whether to get the tasting menu or the all-you-can-eat. They wouldn't let even one person deviate. Otherwise the service was very good and the atmosphere nice. I would definitely recommend it on a Monday night!

Orecchiette with Squash and Mushrooms

Tonight I made a tasty fall meal: orecchiette with squash and musrooms.

1 lb box orecchiette or other pasta
1 acorn squash, skinned and cut into small pieces
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 cup milk or cream
oil and butter
rosemary and thyme
grated parmesan cheese
truffle oil (optional)

Place a pot of water on to boil for pasta.

Heat oil and a little garlic butter in a large skillet. Saute the squash for about 6 minutes, until soft and lightly browned. Add mushrooms and more butter, if needed. Add some fresh rosemary and thyme. Cook for another 5 minutes.

Add about a cup of milk or cream (I used whole milk). Grate about 1/4 cup Parmesan into sauce. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for a few minutes while pasta finishes cooking.

Drain pasta, reserving 2 cups of pasta water. Add pasta to vegetables and toss. Add reserved water if it is too dry. Serve in a bowl. Top with fresh grated parmesan, fresh ground pepper, and garnish with roesmary and thyme.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bronx Thanksgiving Recipes - Caramelized Apple Pecan Pie

OK, I love pecan pie and I love apple pie. That's why when I saw a recipe in this month's Bon Appetit magazine for a caramelized apple and pecan pie, I knew I had to try it.

  • 1 1/2 cups (packed) brown sugar (I used a mix of light and dark)
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced
  • 3 Albemarle Pippin apples or Fuji apples (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds), peeled,quartered, cored
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup coursely chopped pecans, toasted (be careful not to toast too long...)

For apples:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk brown sugar and butter in large ovenproof skillet over medium heat until butter melts, sugar dissolves, and mixture comes to boil.

Boil 1 minute, whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Arrange apples, rounded side down, in syrup.

Bake 15 minutes; turn over. Bake until just tender, about 20 minutes longer.

Transfer apples to paper towels to cool slightly.

Whisk syrup in skillet until smooth. Cool slightly and reserve. Maintain oven temperature.

For filling:
Mix sugar, flour, and salt in small bowl. Place eggs in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in reserved syrup from apples. Add corn syrup, vanilla, and sugar mixture; whisk until smooth. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into crust. Arrange apples, rounded side up, atop filling.

Bake pie until filling is set in center, covering edges with foil if browning too quickly, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool completely.

The pie was a delicious success! I slightly reduced the amount of sugar from the original recipe and it was definitely sweet enough. I will be making this again tomorrow for Thanksgiving.

Bronx Thanksgiving Recipes - Pumpkin Pie

Let me begin by saying that I love pumpkin Pie. It is a strange thing that despite this affinity, I only crave it this time of year. I have made pumpkin pie many times, often from scratch. This year, short on time, I used canned pumpkin puree as my base and a frozen pie crust. I even used the recipe on the pumpkin can. And you know what? It turned out to be one of the best pumpkin pies I've made. Go figure.

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 can (15 oz) pure pumpkin
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
1 9 inch deep dish pie shell

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix the sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in a small bowl.

Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. I got non-fat evaporated milk. I only used about 1/2 of the can (any more and it would have been too watery and too much).

Pour the mixture into a pie crust. As recommended to my by my mother-in-law, I always use Oronoque Orchards pie crusts. You can find them in the frozen section for about $2.50 for two.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Bronx Thanksgiving Recipes - Roast Chicken

Since I will be having turkey on Thursday, I decided to make a roast chicken for the meat-eaters at the potluck (definitely in the minority). Sarah had sent me a recipe not too long ago that I wanted to try, so this is adapted from her. It turned out moist and delicious!

1 Chicken (mine was 8.5 lbs)
12 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 lbs red bliss potatoes, quartered
2 large parsnips (4 carrot-sized ones), sliced
1 large onion, cut into large pieces
8 oz white mushrooms, sliced
3 tbs butter, cut into small pieces
3 cups water

Preset oven to 425.
Wash the chicken with water. Take out the bag inside the cavity. Reserve for soup or discard.
Put the chicken in a roasting pan. Rub the chicken skin with peeled garlic and salt.

Cut little holes in the skin and put in fresh cloves of garlic throughout, including a few pieces in the cavity. Rub the skin with butter and place small pieces of butter under the skin and in the cavity. Sprinkle fresh rosemary and thyme all over. Salt and pepper too.

Around the chicken put parsnips, potatoes, onions, mushrooms and remaining garlic (or any vegetables you have around). They roast wonderfully, and they give the chicken a nice flavor. You can also put some inside the cavity to roast. Alternately, you could put stuffing inside.

Add water all rround so that the chicken and vegetables are sitting in about an inch of water.
Put it in the oven for 30 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375 and cook another 2 1/2-3 hours until the inside of a leg can be cut open without pinkness or colored juice. Baste every 10 minutes or so as it cooks. Add more water as needed.

Since it is a large chicken it took longer than I thought to cook. When it was done, however, the skin was golden brown and crispy and the inside was moist and delicious. There was an incredible aroma of butter and roasted vegetables that almost turned a few vegetarians back to the dark side.

Evan did a stellar job carving the chicken like a pro. The chicken turned out delicious and a big hit - there wasn't a scrap left. The vegetables were frickin awesome too.

Bronx Thanksgiving

Sunday evening we got together for our second Bronx potluck in two weeks. This time was the second annual Bronx Thanksgiving (maybe third?). We love Thanksgiving so much that we try to celebrate it as much as possible. This time there were about 18 of us, only 6 of whom were at last week's potluck. Turns out we have quite a large and ever-expanding South Bronx network!

Besides the fabulous company, we also ate some darn good food. I'm going to have separate entries for some of my recipes. There was so much food I can't even remember it all. There was roasted chicken, fish stew, enchiladas, macaroni and cheese, beets and feta, all kinds of cranberry sauce, potatoes, corn bread, squash puree, and roasted squash. Not to mention pie, cookies, and chocolate. Oh, and mulled wine and eggnog.

Those of you that were there, I once again encourage you to post your recipes in the comments section! There was so much good food. Viva Thanksgiving, traditions, and friends!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Out on the Town: Weekend Edition

Well, I have a whole weekend's worth of eating to blog about. And what a weekend it was.

It all started Friday afternoon after work when my coworkers met at Sweetwater's Bar and Grill, around the corner from our job (only three more days for me!). It is on 3rd Avenue and 139th Street (1 block from the 6 train stop at 138th and 3rd ave). Although Fridays the place is normally packed with schoolteachers unwinding after a long week (there are many schools in the neighborhood) this Friday it was pleasantly empty. We were able to sit at a table and vent in peace. We ordered some of their awesome wings, chicken nachos, and calamari.

Manissa and Keegan came to meet us at Sweetwater's. Then Keegan, Marsha and I headed downtown to meet Evan and Alex in Koreatown, the glorious area located on 32nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. We went to Pocha 32, a Korean bar located on the second floor (as many things in Koreatown are). Although there was a 20 minute wait, we gave them our cell phone number and they called us when there was a table. Here, we drank soju (korean rice wine) and ate Korean street food, such as seafood pancake, fish stew, and cheese omelets. The walls are covered in fishnets and pictures of past visitors.

Following Pocha 32, the only natural thing to do was sing karaoke! So we went to one of the many Korean karaoke places, also on the upper levels of buildings, and sang our hearts out for a few hours in a private room. Good times.

Saturday for a very late lunch (it was around 5) Evan and I went to the Greydog Cafe on University and 12th Street. Although it is often filled with NYU kids, we can't help it, we love their sandwiches. I got my old standby, the grilled chicken press (grilled chicken, pesto, roasted tomatoes, mozzarella). I also got a cup of veggie chili, which was ok. Evan had a turkey Ruben. Yum!

For dinner we met Amy, who is home from New Orleans! We went to Republic, by Union Square. They have awesome Thai-style soups and noodles. We started with beef satay, which is much more flavorful than your standard Thai restaurant satay. I had a tomato and beef soup, Evan had spicy duck soup, and Amy had Salmon soup.

In other good news, I finally got fed up with my camera and bought a new one today. The flash on my old camera was busted, which is why the pictures in this posting kind of suck. So, hopefully, better pictures to follow! Tonight we are having our Bronx Thanksgiving, so look forward to a posting on that coming soon!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Out on the Town: Chat 'n' Chew

Julia, Kira and I had dinner at Chat 'n' Chew by Union Square tonight. It's a good place to go as the weather begins to chill. They serve up home style comfort food like meatloaf and macaroni and cheese. Is it the best food I've ever had? No. Is it high cuisine? No. But it is consistent, comforting, and tasty.

Normally I would go mac and cheese, but I've actually had that a lot lately. Really I just wanted sweet potato fries, but I figured that wasn't enough so I got a veggie burger to go with them

Julia had a grilled cheese and tomato. We were impressed that it came with cheddar, American, and Swiss cheese. Three cheeses are better than one!

Kira had the veggie chili, which I was also thinking of getting. It's a hearty portion of vegetarian bean chili with a nice smoky flavor.

When we left there was a man playing the bagpipes in the street! The flash on my camera is messed up so I couldn't get a great shot, but here is my blurry photo.

Rigatoni Pomodoro with Chicken and Salad

I know! It's been (gasp) two days since my last post. Don't worry, we've been eating, and not just peanut butter and crackers either :-)

Tuesday evening Evan and I had Thai food at our favorite place, Eat, on 3rd Ave and 81st. St. I was going to do an "Out on the Town" posting on it, but I was so hungry I forgot to take pictures of my food. 86th St. is just a few stops on the subway for us, and also where I can go to Staples, the gym, and my bank so it is convenient. Eat has delicious curry puffs, salads, curries, and noodle dishes. One time I had the avocado curry and was not crazy about it. Every other time I have not been disappointed.

As for last night, we ate rigatoni pomodoro with grilled chicken and salad. Another easy weeknight meal that can be easily altered according to what ingredients you have on hand.

I chopped 3 large shallots, 3 cloves of garlic, and 1 carrot and sauteed them in oil. Add a can of whole plum Italian tomatoes, crushing with your hands. Add some chopped basil and grated Parmesan cheese. Let the sauce simmer while you bring a pot of water to boil.

If you are including chicken, rinse chicken breasts and pat dry. Add salt and pepper and place them in an oiled skillet. Cook on each side for 5-7 minutes. When the pasta is very al dente, drain it in a colander, reserving a cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the sauce to finish cooking it. This allows the pasta to absorb the flavor of the sauce. Add pasta water as needed.

Slice chicken breast. Combine chicken and rigatoni in a bowl. Add additional fresh basil, grated Parmesan, and fresh-ground pepper.

To round out the meal, serve it with a salad.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Oversized Pigs in a Blanket

For those of you that were at our wedding you might recall "pigs in a blanket" (mini hot dogs wrapped in pastry crust) being passed around during the cocktail hour. While we also had beef satay, chevre crostini, and the like, pigs in a blanket were a necessary addition, we felt. Everyone loves pigs in a blanket! (Ok, except maybe vegetarians). Does anyone remember that time Julia and I got that huge box of frozen Nathan's pig-in-a-blankets? Ah, memories...

Anyway, such was the inspiration for our makeshift dinner last night. When my original cooking plans fell through because we were lacking some major ingredients, I had to think fast. We had some disparate ingredients, but nothing that might make a meal. Cannelloni beans and barbeque sauce? No thanks. Parsnips and Ceasar dressing? Maybe next time. We did, however, have a large package of Nathan's hot dogs in our freezer. But no bread! We were going to eat them with our frozen garlic naan, but I knew there had to be something better.

That's when I reached my moment of genious (madness, some might say): oversized pigs in a blanket. We had frozen pie crust, we had hot dogs, ta-da! We thought about all the different ingredients we might be able to wrap with the hot dogs and so we sauteed onions in preparation. We also thought about including cheese, sauerkraut, and mustard.

We found that stuffing the pigs in a blanket was a little more challenging then we anticipated since some fell apart. Onions seemed to work well, and we successfully wrapped brie with a few. Here is a how-to: Cut a triangular shape out of the pie dough. Place a thin layer of "filling" if you want any. Then place the hot dog flushed right and role on a diagonal, like so:

We baked them in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, until the pastry crust started to become slightly browned and flaky.

We served them with ketchup, spicy mustard, and thousand island dressing, along with the remaining sauteed onions. I was pleased to find that this dinner, cobbled together from our freezer, turned out to be pretty darn good! The ones stuffed with sauteed onions were the real winners, and the ones with brie were a close second. For parties, I have to say I would continue to recommend the mini versions of this. Oversized pigs in a blanket aren't exactly what I would call 'company food...'

A side-note: vegetarians could easily make this with vegetarian hot dogs. It would probably make the veggie dogs taste better!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

South Bronx Potluck!

One of my favorite things about living in the South Bronx is the community that we have established here. Tonight we had a potluck with people in the neighborhood at my friends' apartment around the corner (the building where I originally lived when I moved to this neighborhood). There were about 20 of us (more?) hanging out enjoying good food - my favorite activity. Even though most of us knew each other, we started out by going around and saying who we were, what dish we had brought, and our connection to that building. It was fun to see all the connections, which are so criss-crossed at this point. It's great!

We had a feast, to say the least. Guacamole, vegetable curry, lentils, two kale dishes, mashed potatoes, sausages, macaroni and cheese, roast chicken, squash soup, cornbread - and those aren't even counting the desserts! Our plates were filled like it was Thanksgiving.

There was also a dessert smörgåsbord. There was rugelach, vegan chocolate cupcakes, and chocolate cookies. The vegan lemon cupcakes were a big hit - so moist and delicious! I have requested the recipe for future use.

You think that's a lot? I'm not even done yet! There was also a silky smooth vegan mango ginger "cheesecake" - so good. Julia ambitiously made three pies, all of which were incredible. My favorite was the apple cranberry, but I would say the major hit was the chocolate pecan. It was agreed that it tasted like melted candy bars, and thus had serious mass appeal. The maple pumpkin was awesome too. Maple syrup in pumpkin pie is genius.

Once we were all in a food coma, we sat around and talked, trying to digest. Then we would go back for some more food. More pie, anyone?

Those of you that were there, you should post your recipes from the evening in the comments section! Or you can email them to me so I can post them. There was too much good food tonight for it to go unblogged.