"The people who give you their food give you their heart" - Cesar Chavez

Monday, May 31, 2010

Jackson Heights $1 Eating Tour; Part II

While this blog post of the Jackson Heights $1 Eating Tour may occur over two separate posts on two different days, the eating was a one time occurrence, we basically walked and noshed for 4 hours.....So where did we leave off? Oh yes, the delicious spinach empanadas from El Chivito d'Oro. Next up was mini empanadas. Mini potato empanadas. The restaurant Seba Seba (79-28 37th Ave, between 79th and 80th Street) had mini empanadas for $0.40 each. Our team got 8 and plenty of the small free containers of salsa. These bite size potato empanadas were yummy but they did us over the edge with fried foods. After these little guys we took a break to peruse the Indian grocery stores for hard-to-find spices and took a food-coma-esque break in the shade on the stoop. Here is a picture of Katie and Jon:
For a finale we ended at a taco truck right under the subway train overpass. Right outside the entrance to the subway were two taco trucks that looked pretty delicious and had lines. After all the fried foods, we needed the freshness of the dependable taco truck fixings. Switching it up we went for quesadillas and while we were in line, a man who frequented the truck regularly, recommended we order the quesadilla  Tinga  which is a spicy chicken mixture and it was delicious!  The quesadillas are massive and very filling and only $2.00. Here is a picture of the quesadilla Tinga with lettuce, Mexican cheese, pickled jalapenos, sour cream and salsa verde:
For a really detailed and excellent taco guide of Jackson Heights, check out the Jeffrey Eats blog! He goes into great detail about all the different trucks and their menus. For me, no finale is complete without a little extra something sweet. Before getting on the bus to come back home I  picked up a piece of tres leche cake from a small Columbian bakery across from the bus stop. This was definitely one of the most delicious pieces of cake I have ever had, and that includes all cheesecakes and red velvet cakes. It was incredibly moist but still held its shape. The flan like topping made it wonderfully flavorful.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Jackson Heights $1 Walking Tour, Part I

Last Sunday I went with three friends on a self guided $1 eating tour of Jackson Heights. It was our first time in Jackson Heights and we are all food enthusiasts. My good friend, Katie, and her boyfriend, John, are also from California so we were excited to see what Mexican food offering Jackson Heights could serve up. We got the idea for the $1 eating tour from an article in a recent TimeOut New York magazine. Our tour began just outside the subway stop with a Chinese bakery that is not worth mentioning as it was nothing compared to the Chinese bakeries of Flushing and Chinatown, Manhattan. The second stop was when the real Jackson Heights eating tour began...We tucked into a Columbian bakery called Mira Cali II Panaderia Y Pasteleria
(76-04 Roosevelt Ave between 76th and 77th Sts, 718-779-7175) and shared two delicious pandebonos. They are slightly sweet Columbian cheese bread made with yucca flour and mild farmer's cheese. We had them warm and they have a slightly thicker crust with a perfectly moist and soft inside. This picture does not do the pandebono justice and I unfortuntately didn't get a picture of the inside of the roll.
Next stop was one of the best of all the $1 eating stops. We had incredible tacos and sopres out of a little easy-to-miss taco truck. The Tacos Mi Mexico Lindo truck (Roosevelt Ave at Gleane Street and Baxter Ave) is becoming somewhat of  an institution, serving up delicious and fresh sopres, tacos and quesadillas. The sopres were thick, soft Mexican corn cakes with a large variation of toppings. We tried the Al Pastor and the Chicken. Then on the counter of the truck, is a ledge with many additional toppings such as pickled jalapenos, fresh cut radishes, cilantro, salsa verde and spicy regular salsa. Here is a picture of the sopre:
And here are the best tacos I've had in New York from the Tacos mi Mexico Lindo truck:
Next up we were headed for a place that a coworker of mine, Will, recommended. When I told him I was going on a dollar eating tour of Jackson Heights, he shared his personal favorite place for empanadas that are only $1.50. As we walked over to Will's fav, El Chivito d'Oro (84-02 37th Ave at 84th Street) we stopped for a $2 bag of freshly cut mangos! I honestly have not tasted mangos so sweet and fresh since Thailand. the atmosphere at El Chivito d'Oro is lively and boisterous. The tables have large baskets of freshly baked bread and trays of delicious looking meats next to large bowls of chopped salads. Needless to say, had we not been on a 'walking tour" this would definitely have been the restaurant to stay a while and eat. We ordered one spinach empanada and one beef empanada. The spinach empanada was definitely my favorite. It had a delicious flaky crust and a lot of filling. A little reminescent of a spanikopita with a Latin flare.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Chicken Marbella...Marinated Over Night!

This first time I made and ate chicken marbella was with my cousin, Megan, and friend, Sarah. However since we were just getting together in the evening we hadn't marinated the chicken overnight. The chicken was still so delicious that I couldn't imagine how it would taste had it been marinated overnight so I had been eager to try it! For Andy's birthday dinner, since I knew of it a day in advance, I was able to prepare the chicken the night before and let it marinate over night. This recipe is right out of the Sliver Palate Cookbook and the only modifications I made were increasing the olives and prunes. After reading many reviews on this recipe I have learned that if you don't have all night, it's fine to marinate the chicken for 5 hours. I served this with cumin curry popovers and a fennel and apple salad. This dish is really easy to pull together and is great for dinner parties, enjoy!
Chicken Marbella...Marinated Over Night!

4 large chicken breasts
1/2 head garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons dried oregano
Course salt and ground pepper
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes
1 cup pitted Spanish green olives
1/4 cup capers with a little bit of juice
3 bay leaves
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley

1. In a large bowl combine garlic, oregano, salt and pepper to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers with caper juice, and bay leaves. Add the chicken pieces and coat completely with the marinade. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, several hours or overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
3. Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.
4. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with the pan juices. Chicken is done when thigh pieces, pricked with a fork at their thickest point, yield clear yellow juice (not pink).

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Brown Butter Raspberry Tart

As part of a birthday dinner for Andy I decided to make a raspberry tart for dessert. This is one of my favorite desserts to date. It's very delicious and I think I definitely ended up eating most of this extra large tart! I would love to make this again and use blackberries, blueberries or even sliced strawberries or cherries! I served this with vanilla frozen yogurt however I believe it would be quite delicious with whipped cream or French vanilla ice cream. Since butter is a key ingredient in this, it's important to use good butter. I used the Trader Joe's organic unsalted butter.

Brown Butter Raspberry Tart

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
Pinch of salt

1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, diced
2 6-ounce containers fresh raspberries

For crust:
1. To prepare the crust, position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 375 degrees. Using a rubber spatula mix the melted butter, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add the flour and salt and stir until incorporated. You may need to use your hands to form it into a giant dough ball.
2. Transfer dough to a 9 inch diameter tart pan with a removable bottom. Use your finger tips to press the dough evenly onto the bottom and sides of the pan.
3. Bake the crust until it is golden, about18 minutes. The crust will puff a little bit while baking. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool. Maintain the oven on 375 degrees.
For filling:
4. In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs, and salt. Add the flour and vanilla and whisk until smooth. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, cook the butter until it is a deep nutty brown, do not burn. You will need to stir the butter often and it should take about 6-8 minutes. Immediately pour the butter into a glass measuring cup, gradually whisk the butter into the sugar and egg mixture, whisking until smooth.
5. Arrange the raspberries, pointed side up and close together in circles on the cooled crust.

6. Carefully pour the batter evenly over the raspberries. Place tart on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until filling is puffed and golden brown and a tester comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool tart on a rack, cut into wedges and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Curry Cumin Popovers

The first time I ever experienced a popover was with my mom at a cafe in Union Square, San Francisco. I remember loving their light fluffiness on the inside and the slight crispiness on the outside. I believe they are called "popovers" because of the way they pop over the sides of the muffin tins. Last Wednesday evening was a special occasion: we were having a small belated Birthday dinner for Andy. He just returned from Chicago the night before and I wanted to make a nice, healthy and tasty dinner meal to celebrate his birthday. I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to bust out with some popovers. These are super easy to make and very tasty. Since the popovers were going to have Indian spice flavors I decided to serve these with hot mango chutney. The sweetness and mango chunks of the chutney were the perfect compliment to the subtle spice and fluffiness of the popovers. These are easy and delicious and sort of elegant - perfect for a weeknight meal.
Curry Cumin Popovers

1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 large eggs
3/4 cup soy milk
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 tablespoons fennel seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray nine cups in a muffin tin.
2. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and water. Add the butter in a stream, whisking. Add the flour and salt and whisk until the mixture is slightly lumpy, then add the curry and cumin powder.
3. Divide the batter evenly among tins and sprinkle the fennel seeds over the popovers. Bake on the lower third rack of the oven for 40 minutes. Cut a slit on top of each popover with a small sharp knife and bake for 5 minutes more.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Oatmeal Cookies with Dark Chocolate Chunks

There is nothing like a mountain of cookies to get you excited. On Sunday evening I decided to use up my box of Irish oatmeal to make some good'ol oatmeal cookies, loaded with extra goodies. I also tried to make the cookies a little more healthy that your usual buttery ball. I prefer to use chopped dark chocolate pieces than mini chocolate chips because I have found that the dark chocolate pieces are more fun to eat and they have a much stronger taste than their little mini chip counterparts. With a cold glass of milk or a warm cup of tea, these cookies are a prime dessert. In an effort to make them healthier I switched butter with olive oil. The challenge was then keeping the batter together to make nice round balls. They don't have that comforting buttery taste that most cookies have, but are packed with flavor and taste great!
Oatmeal Cookies with Dark Chocolate Chunks
(Makes 36 cookies)

1/2 cup softened butter
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup regular sugar
1/4 cup fake eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups quick cooking rolled oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped dark chocolate pieces
1 cup raisins

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together the butter, olive oil, and fake eggs in a large mixing bowl.
3. Add in the flour, brown sugar, sugar, baking soda, salt, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Mix until everything is incorporated. Add in the oats, walnuts, raisins and dark chocolate pieces.
4. Roll heaping tablespoons of the batter into balls and place them 12 to a sheet. Bake for 15 minutes and then cool on a rack for a few minutes. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Celadon's Carolina Deviled Eggs


Last month my roommate, Celadon, loves deviled eggs and after tasting the ones she made, I can understand why they are so addictive. I have been meaning to write this post however I haven't had a chance to ask her about the secrets to making these eggs. Celadon has been making deviled eggs since she was a kid growing up in Georgia, making them into little sailboats with a tooth pick and torn piece of lettuce as the sail. While she doesn't follow a specific recipe she was able to estimate her measurements so you can make these too! She used a zip lock bag to pipe the filling into the eggs so each egg looks perfectly even and elegant. These delicious deviled eggs were completely finished before we even started dinner!

Celadon's Carolina Deviled Eggs
(Makes 24 deviled eggs)

12 hard boiled eggs
4 ounces mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt & pepper to taste
Cayenne powder

1. Carefully peel the hard boiled eggs and cut them in half. Gently scoop all the yolk into a bowl. Mix well with the mayonnaise, Dijon, and salt and pepper. Put mixture into a ziplock back, cut a small hole, and squeeze mixture into the egg shells. Sprinkle them with cayenne powder. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pad Thai...Another Way

Just another Pad Thai dish, made with slight variations. I used whole chilies this time, rather than chopping them up. I used green cabbage, instead of red. I scrambled the egg in the wok with everything else, rather than doing it in a separate pan. And I omitted the lime wedges...because my friend forgot to pick them up. There are other small changes I made in my constant quest to get the perfect Pad Thai that is still low sodium.
Here are all the ingredients before I mix them with sauce:
Pad Thai...Another Way
(Serves 3 generously)

8 garlic cloves, minced
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 small head of greed cabbage, sliced
Pad Thai noodles
Small peeled carrots, cut into matchsticks
6 mini chilies
6 small chicken tenderloins, cut into bite size pieces
3/4 cup fake eggs
3/4 cup tofu, cut into cubes
3 1/2 tablespoons Pad Thai sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons canola oil
Chopped peanuts (for garnish)

1. Heat the canola oil in a wok over high heat until hot. Add the minced garlic and saute until brown and fragrant. Add the cut chicken pieces and saute until cooked through. Push the chicken to the side of the wok and add the fake eggs and scramble, once eggs are cooked, mix with the chicken. Add the tofu and noodles and pour the fish sauce and Pad Thai sauce over the mixture. Add the cabbage, chilies, carrots and green onions and using wooden utensils, mix until all the ingredients are incorporated.. Add more Pad Thai sauce if you want. Let all the ingredients cook together for a few minutes. Serve warm with chopped peanuts.

NY Restaurant Review: Corner Street Bistro....A-Mazing Burgers

Late last Tuesday night I went with two friends, Katie and Yasemin, to the Corner Bistro in the West Village for what is one of the best burgers I have had in the city. I don't eat burgers all that often so I can't call myself an expert. But these burgers were rediculously delicious. I ordered mine medium rare and with cheese. It was perfect and juicy and thickly sliced tomatoes and pickles made it absolutely wonderful. We shared two plates of fries to have with our burgers. The patties are large, the lettuce is crisp, the buns are slightly grilled. The fries were simple and not too oily. Katie loves bacon and so she ordered the Bistro Burger, which was a cheese burger topped with crisp bacon. Also drool-worthy.
To my knowlegde there is usually a fairly lengthy wait, however you can have some cheap beer in line and the wait will just make your burger taste even more delicious. The atmosphere at Corner Bistro is laid back and unpretentious.

Corner Bistro
331 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 242-9502

Monday, May 17, 2010

Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

In 2007, I studied abroad in Singapore, and had the wonderful experience of traveling through South East Asia. While I was traveling on a shoe string, I had no problem trying all the delicious street food. In Vietnam, every corner had a little old lady making Vietnamese spring rolls. You could get them with shrimp or vegetarian and you had the option of fresh or fried. Since then, I have loved making Vietnamese spring rolls but I haven't posted about them because I have failed to take proper pictures. These were made by my good friend and we were in a bit of a rush so we weren't able to get pictures of the whole process. However, I promise that there will be many more Vietnamese spring roll postings as there are so many variations of this to be made. With this particular batch, I was limited to the contents of my refrigerator. I decided to make this batch fresh since it was a hot summer night that we had these. After we made the spring rolls, I noticed I was out of my Trader Joe's Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce (gasp!). But alas, I was able to improvise with some spicy peanut butter from Peanut Butter & Company and some other ingredients. Consider this recipe a great first time spring roll recipe. Here is a picture of our Vietnamese spring rolls and a heaping bowl of pad Thai.
Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Rice wrappers
1 small cucumber, cut into matchsticks
1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
3 hearts of palms, sliced into matchsticks
3/4 avocado, sliced thinly
1/2 cup tofu, sliced thinly
1 small bunch fresh mint leaves
Spicy Peanut Sauce:
4 tablespoons peanut butter
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Prepare all the vegetables and set aside.
2. Fill a skillet with room temperature water. Using one rice wrapper at a time, lay it gently in the water and allow it to absorb the water and soften for about 25-30 seconds. You don't want it to sit for too long or you won't be able to use it. Using both hands, remove the wrapper from the water and allow it to drip excess water over pan. Lay on a plate.
3. Place the vegetables and tofu and mint in a nice neat pile in the center of the rice wrapper. Fold over one side, then the bottom, then the top, then gently roll the spring roll until it is sealed.
4. To prepare the spicy peanut sauce, mix all the ingredients in a small glass bowl, microwave it for 45 seconds. Mix again and serve.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Herb Crusted Salmon

Last week a friend from out of town, John, came for dinner. To go along with the stuffed artichokes and the fennel and cabbage salad, I made a main course of herb crusted salmon. With a hearty roll of whole wheat bread, this was the perfect combination. I am used to having salmon every Friday night growing up and now I crave it on Friday nights. This is one tradition I would like to keep. To keep things simples, I made the salmon in a pan and covered it and let it do its thing for about 15 minutes. When you remove the cover, the salmon continues to cook a little bit longer but it remains really delicious and flaky.

Herb Crusted Salmon
(Serves 3)

4 filets of salmon
1 zucchini, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, chopped
6 whole garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice

For herb crust:
Fennel seeds
Dried oregano
Ground coriandor seeds
Garlic powder
Dried thyme leaves

1. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. Place the zucchini slices around the pan, making room in the center for the salmon fillets. Add the tomatoes around the pan and the garlic cloves. Place the salmon fillets in the center of the pan and generously lather the tops of the fillets with all the herbs so that it is completely covered. Drizzle the lemon juice over the whole lot.
2. Cover the pan and turn the heat down to medium and let the salmon and vegetables cook for about 15 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Stuffed Artichokes

The first time I had stuffed artichokes was at my cousin, Megan's, birthday dinner at this delicious Italian restaurant called Bacaro in the Lower East Side. Unfortunately, I have no recollection of what the artichoke was stuffed with, however I remember enjoying it very much! Other than that, my only experience with whole artichokes has been my mom boiling them and serving them up with mayonnaise. Artichoke hearts are always the tastiest part. A good friend, John, was in town for the night because he to do some work in lower Manhattan, so he came over for dinner and I thought this would be a nice appetizer. It went along quite well with the fennel and cabbage salad and a main dish of salmon. I got inspiration for this recipe on, you guessed it, Artichokes.org...When in doubt, just go to "Name of food".org or com and you should find some good stuff!
Stuffed Artichokes
(Makes 4 servings)

2 large artichokes
1 cup herbed bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/8 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Ground pepper
2 cups water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash artichokes under cold running water. Cut off stems at base and remove small bottom leaves. Cut off top quarter of artichokes; discard. Spread leaves, remove center leaves and fuzzy centers with a spoon and discard.
2. Toss bread crumbs with cheese, olive oil, garlic, parsley, oregano, and pepper to taste. Stuff bread crumb mixture between leaves of artichokes and fill centers.
3. Place stuffed artichokes in a 9-inch square baking dish. Pour 2 cups boiling water around the artichokes. Cover with lid or foil. Bake for 40 minutes or until artichokes are tender. Remove artichokes from baking dish and place on rack; cool to room temperature.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fennel and Cabbage Salad with Dried Cranberries and Apples

One of my top 2 favorite salads of all time is the Chinese Chicken Salad served at Comfort's in Sausalito. The crispness and freshness of the ingredients mixed with a hearty roll is truly the best meal. I wanted to create something similar in terms of crisp and fresh but with different ingredieants. A good friend from out of town, John, came to the city last weekend for work and he came over for dinner on Friday evening. I went to the Union Square Green Market after work and got some inspiration for a meal. One of the vendors had huge bulbs of fennel so I picked up two fennel roots and went on my way. Another vendor had large beautiful rolls of whole wheat bread and since it was already 6pm, all the bread was half off, so I picked up a large roll to go with the salad. I enjoy the strong licorice taste to fennel seeds so I treated this salad in much the same way - complimenting it with some sweet ingredients to offset the licorice flavor. This recipe is based off of Alison's Lunch. This salad also tastes great the next day! Just remember to slice your fennel super thin!

Fennel and Cabbage Salad with Dired Cranberries and Apples
(Serves 4)

1 large bulb fennel, roots trimmed and very thinly sliced
1/2 small head of green cabbage, very thinly sliced
1 apple, unpeeled, cored and cut into matchsticks
A generous 1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon ground pepper

1. Combine the fennel, cabbage, apple and cranberries in a large salad bowl.
2. In a small glass, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, fennel sees and ground pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until incorporated. Refrigerate for 15 minutes and enjoy!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Chicken Marsala

My good friends Andy and Jared were coming over for dinner and I wanted to make a good basic chicken dish. I've known Andy and Jared since the summer after freshman year of college and while I get the pleasure of seeing Andy frequently, Jared lives in Boston, so it was wonderful to have them both in the same room!  Here is a picture of Andy and Jared with our dinner spread; chicken Marsala, couscous, veggies
I am pretty sure that I have only ever had chicken Marsala once in my life and that was while working at an Italian restaurant in the West Village. I decided to give it a shot and I looked up a ton of chicken marsala recipes to get a basic idea for the ingredients I needed. I adapted my version from Emeril Lagasse's Chicken Marsala recipe. We had our chicken Marsala over a bed of Israeli couscous and with spicy roasted cauliflower and yellow squash. I picked up a cheap bottle of Marsala wine on my way home and was surprised when I opened it up and it smelled and tasted like cheap Manischewitz! Maybe I just know nothing about wine... Anyways, was easy and tastes really rich and wonderful, hope you enjoy!

Chicken Marsala
(Makes 4 large servings)

8 chicken breast cutlets, pounded
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tablespoons cayenne powder
2 pinches salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 tablespoons dried lead oregano
2 tablespoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more
3 tablespoons butter
8 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 cup Marsla wine
1 cup chicken stock
Ground pepper
Chopped chives for garnish

1. Prepare a shallow plate with the flour, cayenne powder, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, oregano and thyme. Mix the seasonings together and add more if you want.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. When olive oil is hot, work quickly to dredge the cutlets in the seasoning mixture and then place them on the skillet with 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. (You may need to do the chicken in multiple batches). Cook the chicken until it is brown on each side, 3 minutes per a side, set aside.
3. When all the chicken cutlets have been set aside, add the mushrooms and onion to the skillet and another 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Cook, stirring frequently until the mushrooms are golden brown around the edges.
4. Add the Marsala wine and bring to a boil. When wine has been cut in half, add the chicken stock and cook for 3 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
5. Lower the heat to medium and add all the chicken cutlets to the pan and cook them until the sauce has thickened and they are cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve immediately.

Friday, May 7, 2010

NY Restaurant Review: Pies & Thighs

Last Sunday, I joined my friends, Andy and Sarah, for a delicious meal of fried chicken and pies and biscuits at the new and improved joint, Pies-N-Thighs. Tucked into a homey looking corner place, this little place is everything you want in a southern comfort food place. Fortunately I was going with two other food enthusiasts so we were prepared to order different dishes and share the fun. This place totally rocked out on a couple of things and was sub par on other areas. First, the dish above: "The Fried Chicken Box." A generous serving of fried chicken, home made biscuit and a side (hash browns). The fried chicken here is hands-down excellent. Definitely the best friend chicken I have ever had, the flesh was perfect and moist and the skin was crispy and not too oily. The biscuit was flaky and buttery and tasted just like those Pillsbury biscuits your Grandma used to make on the weekends.
Inside the restaurant they had a little sign that read "Voted Best Donut in New York by New York Magazine." A young man sitting next to us said he came to the restaurant frequently and that the donuts are very good. We were convinced, so we ordered a donut and here it is:
Either we came on a bad day for donuts of all the people raving about these donuts have never tried a good one. Sarah and I were not fans of the donuts which we felt lacked softness and sweetness. Andy liked it for those very same reasons so I guess it's all up to you personal donut feelings. In my opinion, a donut should taste wonderful alone but this donut needed the maple syrup to be flavorful.

Next we ordered the Fried Catfish Breakfast combo which included two eggs cooked to your choice and a side of grits. The whole lot was topped with their house made salsa. Here it is my friends:
 The catfish was very flavorful, perhaps a bit too salty, the grits were lacking a little in texture and flavor. The catfish went nicely with the eggs. There needed to be more salsa for flavoring, I found myself wanted more hot sauce to go with this meal.

Next up we have the fried chicken and waffles combo. Another generous serving of friend chicken, two grain waffles and some fresh blackberries.
I have only ever had fried chicken with waffles once before and I loved the way the fried chicken tasted with a piece of a thick waffle and a little dollop of maple syrup. This one however...not as much. Again, the fried chicken was perfect. The blackberries were a nice touch but the waffle themselves were seriously lacking. Similarly to the donut, I found them a bit dry and not quite sweet enough, maybe this is just me.

Finally, since the word "Pies" is in the name of the restaurant we couldn't leave without trying some of the their pies. They are known for their apple pie with cheddar cheese. So we ordered one of those:
While this slice of pie was tasty, there is A LOT of room for improvement. First off, it was served cold. Second, the pie crust was too thick and much too dense. Third, they really just put a slice of cheddar under the pie slice. Andy liked this particular attribute because it offset the sweetness of the pie and gave an interesting after taste. I did not appreciate this because my mom used to make apple pie with cheddar cheese and she would grate the cheese into the dough so that it baked with the pie and it was a million times tastier.

After ordering the apple pie, we learned they had a rhubarb pie so we tried on of those too:
I really liked the rhubarb pie! I would have probably liked it more had it been heated, had a less dense crust and served a la mode rather than a la whipped cream, but the filling was fantastic! A+

Would I go back to Pies-N-Thighs? Absolutely, but I would order a little differently and try some of their other pies. Stick to the fried chicken, have a biscuit for the buttery comfort, ignore the donuts, get the catfish if you are into fried fish, and have a great time!

Fried Chicken Fan

166 South 4th Street (at Driggs)
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mediterranean Pasta

I made this pasta recently for my friend, Sarah, and I as a simple, easy week night dinner. I am a huge fan of pretty much any Mediterranean flavor combination. This particular dish pulls from Greece, Spain, Israel and Italy, however, the ingredients are common place in all the countries surrounding the Mediterranean. I really like tahini but I have only ever had it in hummus and halva. I decided to try and use tahini as a base for a pasta sauce and it ended up working out wonderfully and giving the pasta a more powerful flavor. Tahini is essentially a sesame paste. When you see tahini served in Middle Eastern restaurants, it has most likely been diluted with lemon juice, olive oil and garlic so that it can be used as a dipping sauce. Standard tahini paste would be too strong for a dipping sauce. For my pasta I used the paste because I needed something strong to hold up against all the other flavors. Tahini can have a peculiar flavor to some so I recommend adding it slowly and tasting along the way.

Mediterranean Pasta

Whole wheat penne
Frozen chopped spinach, thawed
Sun dried tomatoes, chopped
Stuffed Spanish olives
Pitted kalamata olives
Tahini paste
5 garlic cloves, minced
Lemon juice
Olive oil

1. Bring pot of water to a boil and prepare the pasta.
2. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and olives and let simmer for a few minutes. Add sun dried tomatoes, spinach, and chickpeas, drizzle with lemon juice and more olive oil if necessary and saute for about 4 minutes. Add pasta and then pour tahini paste over mixture and gently mix with a wooden spatula to incorporate. You want the pasta to be generously coated with the tahini.
3. Allow ingredients and flavors to sit for a little bit to heat the pasta through. Enjoy with some white wine.