Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Roast Broccolini with Parsley, Garlic and Anchovies and Salt and Pepper Salmon

For whatever reason, broccolini is a vegetable that we don't often make in our apartment.  I honestly don't know why that is because I love broccolini.  Broccoli I can take or leave, but broccolini is delicious.  Broccoli has a tendency to turn to mush, but I find that well-cooked broccolini has a really nice tender consistency and sweetness that I thoroughly enjoy.  It also adapts to different flavor profiles and cooking methods fairly easily.  I generally saute broccolini, but I have found that roasting it gives it a nice nutty flavor.  I adapted this dish from a recipe in Cooking in the Moment, which called for broccoli rather than broccolini and grilling rather than roasting.  But I figured that the sauce that the broccoli was tossed in sounded intriguing.  So I went ahead and modified the recipe and we served the broccolini with our favorite Salt and Pepper Salmon.  I can't believe that I haven't posted the salmon recipe before (although I know that I have included the link to the recipe in several of my past posts), but if you have a really nice center-cut salmon fillet I am of the opinion that there is no better way to simply prepare it.  With just a little evoo, butter, s&p you end up with a phenomenally crispy skin and buttery medium-rare salmon.  As for the broccolini, it is delicious.  The dressing has a ton of flavor and is very well-balanced.  If you are worried about the anchovies, don't be.  They don't taste fishy at all - instead they are salty, nutty and savory.  Their rather intense flavor is nicely balanced with the bright lemon zest, the fresh parsley and the spice of the chili flakes.

Recipe after the jump!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Pasta with Lemon, Hot Peppers and Pecorino Romano

To take advantage of the fresh pasta we picked up today from Eataly I decided to make a recipe from one of my Batali cookbooks that I have been wanting to make for awhile now.  There are several Batali pasta recipes and pasta dishes at his restaurants that include jalapenos (or other chilis) - including some that call for lobster and crab that I have been very intrigued by for some time.  This is the first time that we have attempted one of those recipes.  The dish was intended to be made with fresh fettuccine, but since we picked up fresh maccheroni alla chitarra (a spaghetti-like fresh pasta that is forced through a device that looks like a loom or a harp that cuts the pasta into square shapes) we used that instead.

I really liked this pasta.  I thought that the lemon sauce was bright and lemony without being overbearing or too acidic and the sauteed onions were nice and sweet.  The last time we made a pasta with a lemon sauce (Lemon Fettucine with Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes) I thought that the lemon was too acidic and harsh.  Here it was nice and mellow, lemon tempered by the wonderful richness from all that butter.  Alex and I were surprised by how little heat the jalapenos and chili flakes lent the pasta, but I guess our jalapeno wasn't very hot to begin with and once we took out all the seeds it lost any heat that it might have originally had.  Instead of heat from the jalapeno you got a nice mild chili flavor, which I thought was nice.  In the future I might add an extra dash of red chili flakes for just a little more heat, but overall I thought this was a really nice dish.  I liked how the flavors were so distinct from all of the other pastas we have made in the past.

Recipe after the jump!

Asparagus and Pecorino Salad

I love asparagus in spring.  I love everything about it.  I could eat it every day of the week if I were allowed to do so.  Over the years I have made asparagus dozens of ways.  Some of my recent favorites include Pan-Roasted Asparagus, Poached Egg & Miso Butter, Roast Asparagus (which can be modified and made hundreds of different ways - one of my favorite variations is to drizzle it with sesame oil and topped with toasted sesame seeds instead of cheese), and the Korean Rice Bowl with Steak, Asparagus and Fried Egg.  I have several recipes picked out that I plan on trying as soon as I can, including Asparagus with Butter and Soy from Cooking in the Moment by Andrea Reusing.  But since it was so hot out today Alex and I decided to make a simple asparagus salad, rather than cooking the asparagus.  The very last thing I wanted to do today was to turn the oven on.  So I shaved up some asparagus and some pecorino romano and tossed them with a lemon vinaigrette.

I can't say that this salad makes my list of favorite asparagus recipes, but it was a nice change from all of the roast asparagus that we generally eat.  Good fresh asparagus is tender, sweet and fresh, with a hint of grassy flavor.  When you roast it the asparagus gets nutty and it loses its grassy flavor along with its subtle sweetness.  In this salad the natural flavors of the asparagus shine through, but it's just missing something.  There is nothing to really bring the salad together.  It's good, but it's not amazing.  And I can't really figure out what I would do to change that... 

Recipe after the jump!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Thai Chicken Wraps

Back in March Alex and I had a Thai Chicken Wrap on our flight back from Colorado.  It was legitimately good - for airplane food it was close to amazing.  I was expecting something totally pedestrian and lame, so I was pretty impressed.  Way to go United!  So the other day when I was thinking about what to make for dinner tonight, I started thinking about that Thai Chicken Wrap.  Since I couldn't remember exactly what went in that wrap, I decided that we would throw in some romaine lettuce, red bell pepper, carrots and fresh herbs.  And serve the wraps with a nice spicy peanut sauce.  

Our Thai Chicken Wraps turned out really nicely.  The chicken was moist and fairly flavorful and there were tons of fresh crunchy veggies in the wraps to give them some substance.  We ended up using napa cabbage instead of romaine because Alex came home from the grocery store with napa cabbage and no romaine.  Oops.  I'm sure that at one time or another we have all gone to the grocery store and ended up with the wrong ingredient.  I know I have.  The switch worked out just fine.  I briefly considered adding some scallions or some red onion, but got lazy.  The next time I make the wraps I will probably throw in a few thinly sliced scallions.  I also considered tossing the napa cabbage in the peanut sauce to more evenly distribute the sauce throughout the wrap, but decided that might be overkill.  If you did that you might end up with overly dressed, soggy wraps.  And no one likes that.  The Thai Peanut Sauce came from a recipe we found on a blog called She Simmers.  I have never added curry paste to a peanut sauce before, but it is delicious.  The curry paste gives the peanut sauce some heat and a nice aroma.  The coconut milk makes the sauce nice and rich.  This sauce is pretty thin, so if you want a thicker peanut sauce, you can either make the sauce in advance and refrigerate it (it will thicken up a lot as it cools) or cut out the water.  I liked the peanut sauce so much that we might make some satay to serve with it later this week!  And I liked the wraps enough that I am already looking forward to having another for lunch tomorrow.  Yum.

Recipes after the jump!

Thai Cucumber Salad with Roasted Peanuts

I was looking for another random Thai vegetable side dish and came up with this recipe.  At first I was a little worried at first that it would be too similar to the Tomato, Cucumber and Red Onion Salad with Mint, but after reading the ingredients I decided it was different enough.  Both recipes have cucumbers, fresh mint and red onion, but the dressings were completely different.  I'm not sure which one I preferred, but Alex said he might have preferred this Thai Cucumber Salad with Roasted Peanuts to the more Greek-inspired recipe.  I think I agree with him because I love the combination of fish sauce, lime juice and sugar.  It beats red wine vinegar any day.  Both recipes are fresh, light and summery.  This one is a little spicy, a little funky from the fish sauce and a whole lot tasty.  I love the addition of the salted roasted peanuts for texture (and flavor). 

Recipe after the jump!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Vietnamese Shrimp and Pork Stir-Fry

This is another dish that I have been wanting to make for some time.  According to Blogger, I put this recipe in my queue back in early September 2010.  Granted, I have recipes that I picked out years ago and haven't made yet saved in my Gmail account.  The fact that I picked a recipe out so long ago and haven't made it yet doesn't necessarily bear any relation to how much I want to make the dish.  Sometimes I sit on a recipe for ages because I just cannot manage to find one particular ingredient.  Then there are the times that I pick out a recipe and then misplace it or forget about it.  That happens a lot.  Sometimes I sit on a recipe because it just never quite comes together - everytime I get ready to make it something comes up or I find that I am missing something that I could have sworn we had in the apartment.  Usually we discover that we are missing something before we actually start cooking, but every once in awhile there is a late stage panic when we realize that we are out of some absolutely necessary component halfway through the cooking process.  Anyway the component that we were always missing for this dish was the 1/4 pound of thinly sliced pork shoulder/butt.  Since pork shoulders tend to be so large, they aren't something we generally stock in the freezer.  And most normal grocery stores don't stock pork shoulder so buying one always requires a special trip to Fairway or Whole Foods.  But the last time we cooked pork shoulder I hacked off a chunk and threw it in the freezer so I would have it the next time I thought about making this dish.  Good thinking on my part, huh?

Not to quote Alex's favorite phrase twice in a row, but this dish was kind of awesome.  Vietnamese food is always a huge winner in our apartment - neither Alex nor I can get enough of the flavors of nuoc cham (Alex actually claimed that he likes it so much he could drink it), fresh herbs, fish sauce and lime juice.  Vietnamese food just tastes so fresh and bright.  It is also perfect for hot, steamy weather (like mid-80s over Memorial Day weekend in NYC), which is really no surprise given the steamy climate in Southeast Asia.  The pork and shrimp in the stir-fry itself had a surprising amount of flavor given that they were quickly marinated in fish sauce and sugar, before being simply stir-fried with lemongrass and garlic.  They didn't really need the nuoc cham at all.  But if you are going to serve the stir-fry over rice noodles like we did, I would recommend the nuoc cham for the noodles.  We quickly stir-fried our noodles in the pork and shrimp juju that was left in the wok after we cooked the stir-fry to loosen the noodles up and flavor them.  If you don't have noodles, you could also serve the stir-fry with rice and a sauteed vegetable of some sort.  Any way you serve it, I think you will have an excellent meal.

Recipe after the jump!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Korean Rice Bowl with Steak, Asparagus and Fried Egg

After a few weeks of working late and not being able to cook, it has been pretty exciting to be able to cook dinner every night since Monday.  I have weeks of recipes that have piled up on me, just waiting for me to have some free time to cook.  This take on bibimbap was one of the ones that I have been dying to make.  Given how excited I was to make this dish, it's not at all surprising that this is my favorite dish we have made this week by far.  To use Alex's favorite phrase when he really likes something we made it was "kind of awesome."  I concur.  It was kind of awesome.  All of the ingredients worked perfectly together - the sesame salt on the asparagus, the marinated flank steak, the fried egg with the runny yolk and the fluffy white rice.  The Korean hot pepper paste added the perfect level of flavor and spice.  There are a few ingredients and a few steps (which requires the use of a few pans/pots), but it all comes together pretty quickly.  And every component to the dish plays off every other component in a way that really satisfies.  The dish is delicious - a real winner.  There is literally nothing I would change about it.  And that almost never happens.

Recipe after the jump!

Tomato, Cucumber and Red Onion Salad with Mint

Sometimes I come up with meals by picking an entree and then hunting around for a side dish of some sort to pair with it.  Sometimes the choice is quite obvious - with a stir-fry, serve rice, with a steak or roast chicken breast, serve salad.  Sometimes the choice is less obvious.  And every once in awhile, I find a side dish (or salad) that I want to make and then I have to figure out an entree to go with it.  For last night's dinner, I stumbled across this recipe, decided that I wanted to try it, and then started hunting for something Greek-inspired to go with it.  I briefly considered making gyros or souvlaki, but decided against it.  Then I thought about making some sort of chicken brochette, and promptly discarded that idea as well.  So I did what any internet savvy person would do and typed in "Greek" in Epicurious.  Eventually I came up with the Greek Grilled Cheese Sandwiches that we served last night.  Perfect.  We really don't make enough Greek food in this apartment, but this was a step in the right direction.i

This salad is everything that I love about cucumber salads - bright, fresh, and light.  It is incredibly summery.  My favorite thing about the salad was the mint.  With every bite you get these little bursts of delicious mint flavor that I just loved.  I guess you could substitute another herb if you don't like mint, but I am going to stick to the mint.  Also, If you don't love the taste of onion, or if your onion is just particularly fierce, then go ahead and soak the chopped onion in some cold water to lessen the bite.  And if you want to add another flavor/texture to the salad, you can go ahead and throw in a little chopped feta.  But go ahead and play around with this salad - have fun with it.  You might just discover your new favorite summer picnic dish.

Recipe after the jump!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Greek Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Grilled cheese sandwiches always remind me of my childhood.  My mom had this little toastie maker and she used to make us cheese toasties and ham and cheese toasties regularly for dinner.  Man I loved those ham and cheese toasties.  Somehow she never made us more traditional grilled cheese sandwiches, but I guess that's not all that surprising.  The first time I made a real grilled cheese with bread, butter, and American cheese slices in a pan on the stove top was on a trip to West Virginia that I took with a friend in ninth grade.  Even though grilled cheeses are incredibly nostalgic for me, this particular grilled cheese doesn't remind me of anything that I ate during my childhood.  I certainly never had a grilled cheese sandwich with feta cheese and tomatoes in it.  Now that I think about it, I don't think I tried feta cheese until I was in college.  And I didn't try a grilled cheese with tomatoes in it until well after college.  I'm still not sure that I'm a big fan of tomatoes in grilled cheese sandwiches, but I do know that this was a very interesting take on a grilled cheese.  I have made all sorts of grilled cheese sandwiches with a variety of different types of cheese, but it never would have occurred to me to use feta.  And I never would have added in fresh oregano, but I really enjoyed the hint of fresh herbs in the sandwich.  I might steal the idea, but use fresh basil or another herb next time with a different cheese.  All in all, I liked it.  It was an interesting concept and very tasty.  But I'm not entirely sure that I would make it again as is.  The first thing I would substitute is probably the cheese because feta isn't a great melting cheese.  And what defines a grilled cheese better than melted, gooey cheese oozing out after each bite?

Recipe after the jump!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pea Ravioli

Somehow the vegetarian meals we put together often end up being pasta.  And this meal is no exception.  I got the idea for a pea ravioli from an old recipe from Gourmet that I saw years ago, along with the fact that peas are in season now.  Granted, I used frozen peas instead of fresh, but it's almost impossible to find (and deal with) fresh peas.  Instead of making homemade pasta dough to make our ravioli I copped out as usual and used wonton wrappers.  Making homemade pasta is a huge pain.  Peas have always been one of the vegetables that I understood the least.  Growing up the only time I really had peas was when I had the canned/frozen peas that my grandmother used in the casserole she always served us when we came to visit.  To this day I am not a big fan of casserole, although it really doesn't reflect on her cooking abilities so much as the fact that casseroles are gloopy unappetizing messes.  Anyway, this is one of the few times that I have voluntarily cooked peas as an adult.  I am almost certain this is the first time that peas have been the integral component of a meal that I have cooked.  But every once in awhile you have to mix it up a little and cook something completely outside of your normal repertoire.  What fun is cooking if you cook the same ingredients and the same dishes all the time?

I have to admit that I liked these ravioli.  Maybe peas aren't so bad after all!  When cooked in these ravioli the peas were sweet and fresh.  The Parmigiano-Reggiano in the filling gave the peas a nutty, salty flavor to balance out the sweetness of the peas.  I was thinking that some fresh ricotta would also be a delicious component of the ravioli, only it would accentuate, rather than counterbalance, the sweet flavor of the peas.  It would also give the pea filling a creamier, smoother texture.  I can't say that I have ever tasted peas with fresh mint in them (even though the combination is a classic one), but the mint really went wonderfully with the peas.  All of the flavors are fresh and bright - perfect springtime fare.

Recipe after the jump!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Miso-Roasted Chicken with Miso Pan Gravy and Edamame with Shichimi Togarashi

I have been trying out new recipes for roast chicken for years.  Some are really successful, others less so.  But almost all of them are variations on the same theme - American flavors, some herbs, some garlic.  You get the picture.  Tonight for dinner I wanted to try something new out and make an Asian-inspired roast chicken recipe.  So we started discussing options and somehow I came up with the idea of making miso-marinated or rubbed chicken.  I love the idea of a marinade, but when you marinate your chicken the skin never quite crisps up as much as I want it to, unless you pat it really dry or allow it to air dry in the fridge.  Plus marinating requires time and time was something we didn't have - by the time we got home from the grocery store it was already after 7 pm.  So we decided to make some miso butter (like in David Chang's Pan-Roasted Asparagus, Poached Egg & Miso Butter), and rub it under the skin of the chicken breasts before roasting them.  I have rubbed various compound butters under the skin of turkeys on Thanksgiving, but I have never tried it with chicken breasts.  So we stuffed our chicken breasts with miso butter and then cooked it up using our go to roast chicken breast recipe, only we bumped up the heat a little because these chicken breasts were massive and with the layer of butter we thought it could cook at a slightly higher temperature.  We took some inspiration from this recipe from Food & Wine for the gravy and just kind of made things up as we went along.  As a random side dish, I took some inspiration from my newest cookbook, Cooking in the Moment by Andrea Reusing, and tossed some cooked edamame with some shichimi togarashi for a really easy (and tasty) side.

The chicken was juicy and tasty (those were the adjectives Alex came up with to describe it).  I was thinking more along the lines of savory, warm and hearty - the type of dish that you would love to eat on a cold evening.  Miso has such an interesting and unique flavor that really permeates the chicken while the butter keeps the chicken very moist.  The flavor profile here was very distinct from all of the other roast chicken recipes we have tried over the years, which was great.  And the skin crisps up very well, which is something that both Alex and I love.  If you aren't a huge fan of the flavor of miso, you can adjust the ratio of butter to miso accordingly, but since I really enjoy the flavor of white miso we kept the ratio about 50-50.  I think this would make a really good recipe for a whole roast chicken.  You could stuff the miso butter under the skin on the breasts and thighs and then roast until done.  I might even stuff the cavity with a little more miso butter, or just some shallots and herbs. 

Recipes after the jump!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sorry for the extended absence...

Hi everyone!  I'm so sorry that I just disappeared for the past 9 days (and won't be back again until after this weekend), but I haven't had time to sleep, let along think about blogging or cooking for the past two weeks.  Work has been insane - and by insane I mean that last night I was at the office until 3:30 am and it looks like tonight is going to be more of the same.  As I left last night my boss told me to rest up as much as possible since tonight was going to be another late night.  Oh goody.  And as much fun as it would be to blog about the food that I have been eating at my desk every night (some of which has actually been fairly decent), I am going to pass.  And since Alex and I are headed down to Maryland tomorrow for our best friends' wedding (congrats Mark and Robin!), there won't be any posts until next Monday at the very earliest...

But I am going to at least leave you with a picture of some shrimp and grits that Alex and I shared at Char No. 4 in Brooklyn this past weekend.  Alex and I managed to squeeze in a few late dinners out over the past few weeks, including Char No. 4 and Social Eatz.  I thought that both meals were interesting, but I preferred Char No. 4 because I thought that the dishes were more composed.  Social Eatz had some really great french fries and a nice bimbimbap burger (which won the Eater 2011 burger contest), but I thought that they were a little heavy handed with the vinegar in their toasted sesame salad, and their kung pao sandwich and smoked ribs were nothing special.  Those ribs in particular tasted like something you could get at TGI Fridays.  And that is not a good thing.  Nothing at Char No. 4 blew me out of the water, but I thought that all of the dishes were consistently good and their house-cured lamb pastrami was fantastic.  Plus I liked the vibe of the place and overall found it to be a better experience.  For all of you out there who love bourbon and whiskey, they have a really kickass selection and actually offer both in flights, which I think is pretty darn cool.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Seared Pepper-Salt Tofu

I have a bad habit of picking up blocks of tofu and then leaving them in my fridge and forgetting about them.  They always disappear into the depths of the back of the middle shelf, where they languish until I go on a fridge cleaning kick and find them.  Generally this happens about a week after the tofu has already expired.  Oops.  I swear our fridge isn't that messy.  I am actually fairly conscientious about going through it and throwing out old produce, etc. fairly regularly.  However, tofu is somehow the one thing that habitually goes bad on us.  I guess that means I need to make a greater effort to cook more tofu recipes, or to only buy tofu when I have a recipe that I want to cook.  But the great thing about tofu is that if you have some in the fridge you never have to worry about whether you have a protein defrosted or not - the tofu is already ready and raring to go.  Tofu is equally perfect in dishes like this where it is simply stir fried and seasoned as it is in dishes where it braises or cooks for much longer.  A few minutes in a screaming hot wok and you have a really nice dish.  I only had two complaints that kept this from being a wonderful dish.  My first is that the salt and Chinese Pepper-Salt didn't distribute evenly so you had some bites that were perfectly seasoned, some that were a little bland, and some that were a little on the salty side.  My second (and final) complaint is that I wish the tofu had seared a little better.  Maybe next time I will try a nonstick pan (which isn't a perfect solution because things don't sear very well in nonstick), or use a little more oil.  The tofu kept sticking to the wok as it would sear up, and the nice golden bits would end up stuck to the wok.  But all things considered, it was a nice light dish that I really enjoyed.  We served it with rice and a funky vegetable that we picked up in Chinatown called sun choy (aka saan choi and Malabar spinach) for a satisfying vegetarian meal.  I promise to post more on the funky vegetable later, but as a lovely preview to that post, the adjective that best describes sun choy is slimy. 

Recipe after the jump!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Truffled Steak Sandwiches

When I bought Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten Alex and I weren't really expecting much.  But I had picked it up a few times at Barnes & Noble and there were a lot of recipes that struck me as good, simple dinner party fare.  Actually, the recipe that really sold me on the cookbook was the White Pizza with Arugula.  I was also pretty excited by the recipes for Dinner Spanakopita and the Creamy Cheddar Grits.  I haven't made the spanakopita, but given how successfully everything else we have made from this cookbook has turned out I know they will be fabulous.

It never would have occurred to me to use black truffle butter on a steak sandwich.  But it was awesome - rich, earthy and flavorful.  It was the element that really brought the sandwich over the top.  The recipe as written would have been the most luxurious steak sandwich ever because it called for truffle butter and 2 pounds of fillet of beef.  That stuff is expensive!  Instead of fillet we used hanger steak because I really love the flavor of hanger steak and once thinly sliced I thought it would be an ideal sandwich steak.  The peppery arugula cuts through the richness of the black truffle butter and the steak.  The shards of Parmigiano-Reggiano gives the dish a salty, nutty bite.  The dish seems too simple to be truly delicious, but it really is.  It comes together really quickly and easily and could be the centerpiece of a lunch party just as easily as dinner for 2.  You could serve it with a cheese and fruit platter, a nice salad, and a simple dessert and have a fantastic meal for a lunch party.  Or you could do what Alex and I did and serve with a simple arugula salad for a really nice lunch or dinner.  Hurray for my absolute favorite every day cookbook for providing us with another tasty meal.

Recipe after the jump!

Saturday, May 7, 2011


This is one of those restaurants that you love so much that you are torn between not wanting to tell anyone (for fear that the secret will suddenly be out and it will be impossible to get a table from that point on) and telling everyone because it was just that good.  I know that the friend who told me about Cocoron also suffered from the same dilemma because he has repeatedly told me so.  I wish I could keep this place to myself but it's just too good.  I also wish that it was down the street instead of a solid 30-40 minutes on the metro (depending on trains), but such is life.  It is worth the trip.  As we were walking out the door Alex kept going on and on about how happy he was with our lunch.  I agreed with him.  Lunch was perfect.  Every dish we had was just... well, perfect.

We started with the Daikon Mochi, which their online menu describes as "sticky rice cake - daikon radish, bacon, baby shrimp with yuzu pepper."  The mochi was pillowy in texture, but really sticky and gummy at the same time.  None of those adjectives sound super appealing and I honestly don't know how to describe the texture of it, but man it was tasty.  It was also completely unique.  I have never tried anything even remotely like it.  Then I had the Stamina Soba (pictured above), which involved a little raft of ice cold soba noodles that I dipped into a hot porky broth full of ground pork, some thinly sliced pork, a chicken meatball and shiitake mushrooms.  It was amazing.  The soba noodles themselves were wonderfully chewy and flavorful.  I have never had soba that was this good.  Alex ordered a cold soba special that featured boiled thinly sliced pork (briefly boiled and then shocked in a bath of ice water), freshly grated daikon and a sesame sauce.  As we were sitting at the bar the Japanese family next to us ordered a few bowls of another special - ikura cold soba (soba with huge, plump salmon roe, daikon and shiso leaf on top).  It looked incredible, but my Stamina Soba was so good that I barely had any ordering envy at all.  After all of that ramen I was pretty full, but I couldn't resist dessert.  I was torn between their mochi ice cream with soy bean powder and their black sesame cheesecake, but we went with the mochi.  I wasn't a big fan of the soy bean powder on its own.  It reminded me of pulverized peanuts mixed, but powdery like flour.  It didn't provide a lot of flavor, but it gave the mochi ice cream a nice texture.  It was the perfect end to a great meal.

More pictures after the jump!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Chicken Tinga Tostadas

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone!  Last year we made Skirt Steak Fajitas with Lime and Pepper and Chili-Rubbed Shrimp with Avocado Corn Cocktail.  This year we were a little less ambitious.  I wanted to make something a little different, so I originally wanted to make enchiladas, but then I changed my mind and we made tostadas instead.  I originally planned on making tres leches cake as well as these tostadas, but by the time I got out of work it was too late to swing by the grocery store to pick up all of the ingredients.  Plus the cake is better the next day.  The recipe I want to make for Tres Leches Cake with Dulce de Leche actually requires baking and soaking overnight (which a lot of other tres leches recipes also require).  If we have time this weekend I will bake the cake.  If not, I will leave it for another occasion.

There's a great little hole in the wall restaurant called The Great Burrito near our apartment that does a mean pork tinga.  Before dining at that restaurant I had never heard of tinga of any sort.  It turns out tinga is a typical Mexican stew-like dish from Puebla that can be made with chicken, pork, or beef.  At The Great Burrito you can get pork tinga as a topping for your tacos, tostadas, or nachos, as a filling for burritos, etc.  The pork tinga from The Great Burrito gave me the idea for these tostadas.  We didn't have pork, but we had plenty of chicken in the freezer.  So I went ahead and adapted a variety of recipes that I found on the internet to make our chicken tinga.  I was pretty excited about how the recipe turned out given I really had no idea what I was doing.  The chicken had a pretty intense flavor and a respectable kick after being tossed and simmered in the chipotle and fire-roasted tomato mixture.  Poaching the chicken left it pretty moist and made it a blank canvas to absorb the flavors of the sauce.  When I first tasted the chicken it was lacking some of the sweetness that I remembered from the version at The Great Burrito, so to make it all a little sweeter (and to loosen up the sauce a little) I added some apple cider.  I really like this method of baking the corn tortillas to make tostadas in the oven because they are far less greasy this way and more evenly cooked than if you pan fry them.  So when you put it all together you get a crunchy tostada topped with smokey/slightly spicy chicken, creamy queso fresco and avocados to cut through the assertive flavors of the sauce, garnished with a squirt of fresh lime juice and cilantro.  It's quite tasty.  Don't omit the lime juice because I think the dish needs a bit of acidity and that bright lime flavor to really bring it all together.  I hope that everyone's Cinco de Mayo meal was as yummy as ours!

Recipe after the jump!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

LUCKYRICE 2011 - Night Market

On nights like tonight I can't imagine wanting to live anywhere else but NYC.  The food in NYC is amazing - the restaurants are delicious and great food-centric events happen all the time.  This week is LUCKYRICE (a festival celebrating Asian cuisine) and Alex and I bought tickets for the Night Market event this evening.  Night Market was held under the Brooklyn Bridge and is supposed to simulate an actual Asian night market with tons of street food (and more upscale interpretations thereof).  I'm not sure if the food we tasted tonight was in any way street food, but some of it was downright delicious.  Restaurants like Social Eatz (head chef Angelo Sosa was one of the front-runners from Top Chef and Top Chef All-Stars), Umi Nom and Kuma Inn (Alex and I were lucky enough to take a cooking class with chef King Phojanakong last year), Ma Peche (the lone Vietnamese-inspired restaurant in the Momofuku empire, as well as the only Momofuku located outside of the East Village), An Choi, Obao (another one of Michael Huynh's multitude of Vietnamese restaurants) and Spot Dessert Bar (click here to see an earlier blog post on Spot) all participated.  The Taiwanese tourism board also participated and let me tell you, they were ballsy.  As soon as we walked into the event I was like "OMG.  Someone here is serving stinky tofu."  You could smell it from like 45 feet away (maybe further).  I actually walked by all of the tables on that end of the night market to see where the smell was coming from before I finally found it.  For those of you who have never heard of/experienced stinky tofu, the name is well-deserved because that stuff smells terrible.  When I lived in China I would sometimes cross the street to get away from the smell when it was particularly rank.  It smells that bad.

Enough of that.  My favorite bites of the evening in order of preference were the:
  1. Chicken and Cabbage Salad Served on a Vietnamese Prawn Cracker (An Choi)
  2. Rice Cake Topped with Asian Pork Bolognese (Kuma Inn/Umi Nom)
  3. Khao Soi Curry Served on a Betel Leaf (Betel - pictured above)
  4. Kalamansi Honey Thai Iced Tea (Spot Dessert Bar)
I also think an honorable mention needs to go out to the Tomato Curry Soup from Social Eatz and a rice noodle dish from Ma Peche.  And the spring rolls from Spring Kitchen were perfectly fried and very tasty.  Also, the stinky tofu was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be.  They served it fried, which helped to mute the taste, and served it with soy sauce and a chili sauce of sorts.  It tasted like it smelled (only a little less aggressive), but it wasn't quite as foul as I had imagined.  I managed to avoid it for the entire year I was in China, only to give in and eat it under a bridge here in NYC.  I have to admit that Alex was the driving force behind our sampling the stinky tofu.  If it were up to me I would have avoided it.  Life is funny like that sometimes. 

More photos after the jump!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Korean-Style Napa Cabbage

So I got the idea for this recipe from the Korean-Style Romaine that I first made back in February 2010.  We liked the romaine so much that we have made it several times, playing with the recipe a little each time.  I keep thinking that I should turn the Korean-Style Romaine into a full entree salad with some shrimp, some sort of crunchy fried noodle, and maybe some grated carrot and shaved red onions.  But we never get around to it because I have so many recipes that I want to try.  To be perfectly honest, there are a ton of recipes that we have made for the blog (and loved) but have yet to make again because I get a little ridiculous about trying new things.  I have hundreds of recipes that I have bookmarked to make for the blog and for the most part I can't resist cooking and tasting new recipes.  There are recipes like our Roast Asparagus, Spicy "Fried" Chicken Cutlets, and Alex's Roast Chicken Breasts that we make all the time with a few modifications here and there, but those recipes are few and far between.  Mostly we make something once and don't revisit it again (if at all) for a really long time.  Anyway, I was pretty excited that we built off the Korean-Style Romaine to make this napa cabbage dish because I thought the cabbage was really yummy.  The flavor of the sesame, garlic, ginger and the chili flakes is light and fresh, but really savory at the same time.  I wish we had some scallions to throw in with the cabbage.  If so, I would have thinly sliced some on the bias and tossed them in for some mild oniony flavor.  But even without the scallions I thought the cabbage was very successful.

Recipe after the jump!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Siu Mai (Pork and Shrimp Cups)

Siu mai is one of my absolute favorite dishes for dim sum.  Two of the cookbooks that I have purchased in the past year have recipes for siu mai - The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook: Home Cooking from Asian American Kitchens and Asian Dumplings: Mastering Gyoza, Spring Rolls, Samosas and More.  But I've never felt the need to make them at home when there are so many good Cantonese restaurants down in Chinatown where I can get them without having to go to the trouble to make them at home.  I know.  That's a pathetic reason for not making them at home, but sometimes I get a little lazy.  But I promised a friend that I would do some posts on different dim sum recipes and this was one dish that I just couldn't imagine doing dim sum without.  So I finally went ahead and made one of the two recipes that I had already marked (although I will post both recipes below).
I have to say that I probably won't be making siu mai at home again anytime soon.  It was fine, but the versions I have had at every Chinatown restaurant were so much better.  Somehow the filling on these got really dry and the dumpling skins we bought were really dry and hard to use.  Asian Dumplings contains a recipe for the dumpling skins themselves, which would probably result in much better results, but goodness that's a lot of work.  I think if I were to make the siu mai at home again, I would definitely add more liquid to the filling to keep it a little more moist and delicious.  I think that the balance of pork, shrimp and vegetables was spot on, I just think that the filling needs a little more moisture.  And I would probably steam the dumplings for less time - maybe 10 minutes instead of 15 because I think that contributed to the dryness.  And the Andrea Nguyen recipe only called for steaming the dumplings for 6-8 minutes so I think 10 minutes should be more than sufficient.  But my real problem with the siu mai (aside from the slightly dry filling) was the store-bought dumpling wrappers, which were dry, which caused them to be really fragile and difficult to work with.

Recipes after the jump!

Mache with Warm Brie and Apples

I thought this salad was a gorgeous salad.  I think it would look absolutely beautiful as the salad course of a dinner party.  But I'm not sure that I thought that the salad was completely successful.  I wasn't sure how the components went together.  I loved the warm Brie on top of the toasted baguette rounds.  But you couldn't eat an entire plate of just Brie and baguette.  Plus, it's supposed to be a salad and not just baked Brie.  The apple wedges and the mache did a good job of cutting the richeness of the Brie.  But I just wasn't sure how the ingredients were supposed to go together.  It seemed like a lot of separate components, all of which worked together, but it just never came together into a cohesive salad for me.  The salad was fine and I liked it, but I just didn't quite get it.  As a side note, the picture above is undressed because I thought that the dressing on the mache just didn't look very pretty so I drizzled it on afterward.  A little bit of vanity at work.

Recipe after the jump!

Tomato and Bufala Mozzarella Tart

This dish is something that I have been waiting to make for some time now.  I'm not really sure why it took me so long.  A restaurant called Recipe on the UWS serves a Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella Tart (with basil pistou, brioche and grape tomatoes) that gave me the idea for this tart.  Actually, I have never even tried their version of the tart, but everytime I go I want to order it (and somehow end up ordering other things instead).  Last night I finally decided to go ahead and make a tart, but then I couldn't decide whether I wanted to make an asparagus and gruyere tart, or a tomato mozzarella tart like Recipe's.  After some consideration, I decided that I was feeling more tomato mozzarella than asparagus (which makes sense considering I  pounded my way through an entire bunch of asparagus on Friday).  Aside from defrosting the puff pastry, this entire dish comes together very quickly.  And if you just take the puff pastry out of the freezer and throw it in the fridge the night before or the morning of, the defrosting is a snap.

I liked the tart.  I didn't love it.  Alex and I both thought that it was good, but it was missing something.  I liked how the bufala mozzarella melted and oozed down over the tomatoes.  It was deliciously creamy.  In the future I might add a little finely minced garlic on top of the tomatoes for another layer of flavor.  Or instead of bufala mozzarella I might try some goat cheese for a different flavor and texture.  Or maybe I would smear a thin layer of ricotta or something on the puff pastry before baking.  Alternatively, I could try out a different type of crust and see how that affects the recipe.  I will have to think about it for a little bit.  In the interim, I would consider this recipe as satisfactory, but needs improvement.

Recipe after the jump!