Archives for February 2013

Rosa Mexicano Brings Mexican Breakfast to NYC

 I am supremely excited.

Mexican breakfast is finally coming to locations all over NYC. There are places that offer Mexican breakfast dishes, but now a full fledged Mexican breakfast menu is coming to an upscale Mexican chain so that you can get your spicy, savory morning fix almost anywhere in the city.

Rosa Mexicano’s breakfast menu hits this month, and it is gonna hit hard. At a recent press meal, I was very impressed.

Nopales con huevo

Yeah, it’s cactus. And, here, anyway, it’s pretty damned tasty! Citrusy with a texture similar to mushrooms, it isn’t at all slimy or dirty tasting as I feared it might be. It’s just a really nice, filling addition to a scramble filled with sweet red peppers and slightly spicy chiles. Served with a soft roll spread with smoky black bean paste and creme fraiche, this is a really hearty way to start your day without feeling weighed down or greased up.

 

Machacado con huevo

This shredded beef with eggs and vegetables is absolutely magical. In Tucson, carne seca (this dried, shredded beef) is a religion. Traditionally, slices of beef are cured in garlic, chiles, and spices, then set to dry on the roof in the dry Arizona heat. Then the beef, which is somewhere between jerky and pork floss, is shredded and turned into tacos or Macachado con huevo – a scramble made with fluffy eggs, sautéed onions, and this spiced, intensely flavored beef. The texture of the dish is soft but well textured with the chewy shreds of beef. the way to eat it is to layer it in a warm flour tortilla with some of Rosa Mexicano’s house made salsa. It’s one of the best breakfasts anyone could ask for, and was one of my favorite dishes of the tasting.

 Fried eggs carnitos hash

What’s a breakfast without pork, right? It’s an incomplete and ill though out one, and luckily Rosa Mexicano does not fall into this trap. The hash is soft and filled with sweet porky flavor, offset by a salty, bright tomato (ranchero) sauce. The sauce is redolent of garlic and cumin, accenting the pork’s natural flavor and the gooey, creamy egg yolk. the crowning touch is the habanero apple relish, a gelee substance that adds a very bright, fiery note to the dish.

Breakfast tamale with chile poached eggs and chorizo

Creamy. Spicy. Meaty. Cheesy. Polenta with smoky chile poached eggs. If you like grits you will love this. If you like LIFE you will lovethis. The standout at our table, and a gut-busting breakfast for sure. This is the dish that takes me into food coma territory.

Mezcal Bloody Mary

The smoky mezcal definitely comes through in this Bloody Mary, but the hit of alcohol is pleasantly tempered by the robustly flavored drink, filled with garlic and a very smoky chile rim. Don’t get this if you don’t like smoke…and feeling a little tipsy around 10AM.

Rosa Mexicano isn’t a cheap or fast breakfast. But it is so, so tasty. It’s not the same as eating tacos at a roadside stand or chowing down on migas at an abuela’s cafe, but it is the next best thing, by NYC standards. Look for the breakfast menu to hit February 23, and – like I said – it is gonna hit hard.

*This was a press event. I was not required to write about my experience and my opinions are my own and unbiased.*

Rosa Mexicano on Urbanspoon

The World’s Easiest Pasta Sauce

I hope that this isn’t the first day you read my blog. If you haven’t read here before, look at this exotic recipe. Or this healthy one. Or this high end restaurant review. Get impressed, get inspired, and see how very cool and knowledgeable I really am.

If you have read here and I have already impressed you, you can stay. Because while this recipe might be delicious, it ain’t cool. Or inventive. Or even remotely healthy.

It’s my family’s dirty little secret. It’s so quick to make that my mom could whip it up after we got off a 14 hour flight back from Japan. It’s so easy to make that my dad could make it while wearing a handless headset and watching Seinfeld as he cooked. It’s so delicious that every single person I have ever made it for has swooned and asked for the recipe.

Literally – every single person. Of course we never told them the secret.

The dirty, shameful, trashy secret.


The World’s EasiestCreamy Pasta Sauce

Ingredients:

1 lb. cooked pasta

4 cans condensed tomato soup

1 quart heavy cream

1. Pour the soup into a pot over high heat.

2. Add enough cream to turn the sauce a pale pink. Taste as you go, because you want the soup to taste very rich but still a little bright and tomatoey. I like about 2/3 of the quart in the sauce. You can always add more if necessary, so go slowly.

3. Stir in the pasta and turn off the heat, letting the pasta absorb the sauce.

4. Serve.

So, yeah…this is pasta sauced with condensed soup. Made with heavy cream. No garlic, no wine, no butter, no aromatics. Just soup, cream, and pasta. It’s absolutely perfect. Creamy, gently acidic, reminiscent of tomato soup but so much thicker and richer. The pasta absorbs the rich sauce and the result is umami and much more complex than it would seem. This is fantastic with sweet and salty onion and garlic bread. It’s great with some Diet Coke over crushed ice. And it’s what I always want when I want a taste of home.

Sorry if this is the first post of mine that you have ever read. I promise to be back tomorrow with something sophisticated and “foodie.”

In the meantime, go get that can of soup out of the pantry and start making dinner.

Sweet Onion and Garlic Bread

Who doesn’t love garlic bread? It’s toasty, buttery, garlicky goodness. It has that bite of strong garlic that carries you from the salad course straight through wiping your pasta plate clean of all sauce.

My mom. That woman hates garlic bread. She just doesn’t like raw, or even lightly sautéed garlic.

For her, the garlic has to be roasted into submission. Poached into softness. Minced and hidden and gently caramelized until it is its most mellow self. So she invented this version of garlic bread, for herself and for the garlic-phobe near you.

Sweet Onion and Garlic Bread

Ingredients:

2 French or Italian bread loaves, sliced in half lengthwise

1 stick butter, cut into pieces

13 or so ounces of onion jam

1 head roasted garlic

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Meanwhile, microwave the onion ham and butter for 20 seconds at a time or until the jam is runny and the butter is melted. Mix well.

2. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into the bowl. Be sure to really smash the garlic with your spoon or fork to distribute the garlicky flavor.

If your mouth isn’t watering right now, you have a serious tastebud defecit.

3. Pour the sauce over the bread. Don’t be shy with spreading and slathering it on there…you can NOT have too much of this stuff.

4. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the bread is fragrant and golden, and serve.

 This is such tasty stuff. It has the savory taste of roasted garlic and onions, but the sweetness of the jam. It is slightly sticky and extremely buttery – don’t be surprised if you need a napkin or six. This is ideal for anyone who doesn’t really love a strong garlic taste, and is a huge hit with kids. If you eat less than half a loaf of bread by yourself, I will be shocked.

Thank heavens my mom doesn’t like garlic and invented this bread.

And thank heaven that she doesn’t have that same aversion to butter.

BBQ Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

You better take a seat. This is one of the most fantastic recipes I have ever created for the blog.

I only say that because it’s true.

It’s warming, it’s comforting, it’s perfect for the winter. It uses techniques and recipes that I have already showed you and binds them into a totally new dish. It’s ideal for a dinner for four or for 1, it can be made ahead of time and frozen, or it can be cooked and served a la minute.

Oh yeah, and it’s like incredibly freakin tasty.

BBQ Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

2 sweet potatoes

1/2 portion pulled chicken

1/2 onion

2 tbsp. vegetable

1 cup shredded pepper jack or spicy cheddar cheese

1. Wash the sweet potatoes then cut off the grody ends (yes, grody is indeed a cooking term..here it is, anyway). Then, stick them with a knife or fork a few times, and put them in an oven preheated to 375F. Let them bake for about an hour, or until sugar starts to seep out of the potato.

 Take them out of the oven and turn the heat off.

2. While the potatoes bake, fry the onions in the oil over medium high heat. There will be a LOT of oil for the onions and probably a bit of smoke. Don’t worry, that’s the way that it’s supposed to be. They will be done in about 20 minutes, or when most of the onions are brown or almost black, and crunchy. Drain them on a paper towel and don’t forget to turn off that heat.

3. While the potatoes are still quite hot, split them, then top them with most of the cheese…

all of the chicken…

and all of the onions.

4. Then top them with the rest of the cheese and return them to the still hot oven for about 3 minutes, or until the cheese on top has melted.

4. Serve with sour cream or Greek yogurt.

This is a damned great meal. It’s sweet and spicy and melty and creamy. It’s just so incredible – the chicken sort of melds into the fluffy sweet potatoes and the sugars in the potato mix with the tangy bbq sauce and the spicy cheese. The onions are totally necessary – they provide a sharp, crunchy contrast to the smooth potato and stringy cheese. This would be even more delicious if you scooped out the sweet potato and blended it with the mix ins before putting it back into the shell and baking it, but this lazy version is still pretty outstanding.

Toldja it was so great that you had to take a seat. 

Good Enough to Eat – Sweet in More Ways Than One

I recently got to go to one of those restaurants that I never get to go to, one of those places that always has lines out the door and down the block on a Sunday at 10 AM.

It’s called Good Enough to Eat, and you know what…it really is.

This cute little restaurant is a kitschy piece of Aunt Mae’s kitchen right in NYC’s UWS. It literally has a white picket fence outside and inside, and there are embroidered mottoes, on the wall, mismatched teacups on the shelves, and homemade cakes lining the counter.

If it were any cuter, it would have its own tumblr.

Though this spot serves all day straight though dinner, you really come here for the breakfast and brunch fare.

Fruit and cottage cheese

Groundbreaking? Hardly. Fresh, generously portioned, served with full fat cottage cheese – yes, absolutely. After quite a few sub par fruit salads in NYC diners and high end restaurants, this really deserves all the kudos i give it.

Pancakes with homemade strawberry butter

So thick, so fluffy, so airy yet rich and buttery…this is the pancake setting standard. It is substantial enough to stand up to a thick pouring of real maple syrup yet soft enough to cut with only a fork. Lightly vanilla scented, and perfect with the fruity, fragrant strawberry butter. Strawberries might be outta season but they sure do taste great when mixed with unsalted butter.

Unpictured is the thick cut bacon I go ton the side. When I mean thick cut, I mean thick cut. Almost like a salty, smoky, beautifully crunchy yet meaty hamsteak. Really awesome stuff.

Good Enough to EAt is a very nice brunch place, but not worth a 2 hour wait. Then again, what is? That being said, if you can go on a weekday or a weekend when the whole city is out-of-town, go there! The food is very tasty and well priced,and the service and atmosphere are positively sweet.

Come to think of it, I think this place should have its own tumblr.

It really is that adorable.

Good Enough To Eat on Urbanspoon

Low Carb Chopped Greek Salald

One of my biggest pet peeves is misrepresentation.

Just say your real age.

Just admit that you don’t like kittens.

Just say that it’s a regular salad unless you are REALLY GOING to chop it.

By that, I mean it should really be pre-masticated. I don’t want to have to chew something more than 3 times if it says it’s pre-chopped. Some say that I’m lazy. I say that I’m particular.

This salad isn’t very hard to cook, but it’s time-consuming. Don’t turn on the tv, don’t play around with the radio. Just keep your head down and chop these veggies finely. Feel free to add some tapenade or cannellini beans to the mix, too – they would be tasty additions!

Low Carb Chopped Greek Salad

Ingredients:

1 head lettuce, finely diced (romaine works well)

8 cherry tomatoes, diced (or 1/2 cup diced tomato

1/2 cucumber, diced

1/4 cup artichoke hearts, diced

1/4 onion, diced

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup steamed cauliflower and/or broccoli, cooled and diced

6 hot cherry pepper slices, diced (optional)

1/2 cup tzatziki (thinned with olive oil, if necessary for dressing)

1/2 lb. ground chicken

dried onion, garlic, oregano, rosemary, and thyme to taste (about 2 tbsp. total)

salt and pepper to taste

1. Sautee the chicken and spices in a nonstick skillet until it is browned and cooked (if you don’t do it in a nonstick skillet…this is the mess you end up with!). Set it aside to cool.

2. Throw all the diced (they had BETTER be chopped into pieces so small they could fit inside a dollhouse, people) veggies and cheese into a large bowl.

3. Add the (almost room temperature by now) meat.

4.  Toss and chill for up to half an hour, or…

4. Serve immediately.

This is a great healthy and tasty lunch or dinner. I didn’t even mean to make it low carb, it just turned out that way. The tzatziki is the perfect creamy, tart counterpart to this dish. the vegetables all compliment each other – crunchy, salty, juicy, sweet, with a pungent punch of feta cheese. This is a great salad to take to work, because it is easy to eat – hello, chopped!

Like I said – don’t make this salad and not chop it all the way…you know how I feel about misrepresentation.

Despana – a Lunchtime Trip to Spain

In the heart of Soho, amidst trendy shops and people who treat yoga studios like church, is Despana.

This shop is decidedly Spanish, meaning that it is devoted to all things ham, wine, and bread.

Not exactly yoga-riffic, but it’s so delightful that the neighborhood has kept it around.

The shelves are filled with imported olives, tomatoes, pickles, and even whole pheasants roasted with truffles.

The deli cases are loaded with every kind of pork product known to man, including the remarkably fatty, incredibly expensive, and totally sublime Iberico ham.

 

They also have lots of samples out,  and if you have even half a brain…you will try them.
Like this chorizo, which is peppery, robustly flavored with paprika, and soft without being greasy. I may have eaten more than my fair share of this.

These canned olives are so juicy and fruity that it’s hard to believe that they aren’t home cured.

These baby eels…may have been tasty. I don’t know because I wimped out and didn’t try them.

I know I should have but…they look kinda like snot strings, right?

The real treat to this shop is in the back, where you can order form a long menu of tasty sandwiches, hot food, and Spanish snacks.

Eat them at long communal tables, where the flatware is plastic, but the sherry vinegar is thick and syrupy and the olive oil is spicy and fragrant.

 Though the dishes in the display case change daily, here are some favorites:

Beans with Iberco ham and onions.

Absolutely fresh, tasting grassy and of the earth. The ham is salty and meaty, providing depth and punch. The onions are caramelized and sweet, and the dish cries out only for olive oil to echo the ham’s fattiness and bring out the lusher side of the rather spare beans. This gets better as you eat it.

That’s what she said.

Sauteed Summer Vegetables

So simple and so tasty. Peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, olive oil…how does this  taste so much like summer when the temperature outside is in the 20s? The only answer can be that they have an incredible source that makes the peppers taste sweet and the zucchini tender and juicy even through the depth of winter. There are no overt spices, no big zip of flavor. It is just a dish that comes together beautifully. Mop up the dish with some of the excellent, never ending supply of freshly baked bread that you receive with your order.

Blood sausage with tomatoes

Don’t let the name deter you. This is now one of my favorite sausage dishes in NYC. The sausage is tender and porky and tastes really rich and iron-y (thanks, blood!) It is soft but not mushy, rich but not greasy, and an ideal counterpart to the sweet and tart tomatoes cooked with it. If you like spaghetti with pork ragu, you will love this.

 And if you don’t like spaghetti with pork ragu…what do you do to feel joy?

Despana is a true find. The wine shop attached to the food store has a wonderful selection of Spanish wines and all the goods are fairly priced in both shops. The food is also delicious and well priced, and – best of all – it’s a vacation to Spain with the yoga studio across the street still in sight.

You go do some downward facing dog. As for me, I’ll take another slice of that chorizo, please

Despana Specialty Foods & Cafe on Urbanspoon

The Five Best Dairy Products

Why do I post about the five best dairy products?

Because I am just a dairy glutton– can’t get enough, not now, not ever.

Note that this will include no fancy cheeses, since I already did that post. This will cover the rest of the dairy-land that I so happily frolic through on a daily basis, much to the dismay of my waistline.

via

1. Clotted cream

This stuff makes whipped cream look like powdered milk. Thick enough to stand a spoon straight up in, it is served all over the UK with warm scones, summer berries, and the like. It is made by boiling the thickest cream possible until the cream clots at the top and becomes so thick, so rich, that you can only eat a little bit of it at ta time. It is best made with unpasteurized milk, which is why we former colonists have never been able to really recreate it. It is often served with jam to cut through the distinct fattiness of it all.

I, of course, eat it au natural. Off a spoon, if necessary. 

2. Cream Cheese

 It does so much more than bagels and cheesecake.

Cream cheese is extremely versatile – it happily takes a backseat to let other flavors shine. Mix it with shredded cheddar cheese and spread it on bread before frying to make the best, creamiest grilled cheese sandwiches on the planet. Cover a tortilla with it and top with kimchi and Sriracha for a quick roll-up that tempers the funkiness of the kimchi without overpowering it with a milky flavor. Stir it into pasta sauce at the last minute for a result that is velvety but not overly  creamy. Or…my personal favorite…spread it atop toast that is still quite warm, then shave thin layers of chocolate over it (mini chocolate chips will work too). This is basically a chocolate cream cheese breakfast sandwich. 

3. Half and Half

My mother used to serve my sister and me cereal with half and half for breakfast. Maybe that’s why I love the stuff. I actually prefer it to cream in some applications – cream has a wonderfully buttery taste that sadly overwhelms some flavors, like the mellow nuttiness of coffee. In sauces, half and half doesn’t overly thicken the sauce or dilute the flavors. And though you can’t whip it, it’s hard to beat half and half over a baked apple in the winter.

And yeah, it’s pretty damned great with cereal. 

4. Sour cream

My desert island food. Eat it on baked potatoes, on tacos, on borscht. Mix it with hot sesame oil, with salsa, with caramelized onions. Stir it into beef Stroganoff – just make sure it’s off the heat, or the cream will curdle. If you have sour cream, you have a party – dried spices, any chopped veggies that are laying around your fridge, some sauteed ground beef – sour cream literally goes with ANYTHING. Low fat or -perish the thought – fat free sour cream has an extremely odd, sweet taste and almost rubbery texture. Don’t do it. Just go for the good stuff. You can even slice bananas and grapes, then stir it into sour cream with some brown sugar. It’s an old Jewish recipe and one of my favorite uses for the stuff.

I have also been known to dip tortilla chips right in the container.

5. Cheese in a can/jar/spray bottle

Because this stuff is just too  tasty to ignore.

Secret Pizza in Las Vegas

Remember that time that I ate that incredible meal at e? Remember how it was so many courses, so many flavors, an experience like none other?

Well, there is a dirty little secret about that…I left a little peckish.

I couldn’t help it…I really needed a little something else to finish off a meal that consisted of about 1800 tiny bites.

Luckily, in the Cosmopolitan, there is a secret pizza joint. An unmarked  place down the hall from the Marquee nightclub, where, if you go down the narrow passageway, you are transported to a 1980s pizza joint, complete with an arcade game and a whole row of freshly made pies.

Order a slice from the ready-made pies or have one made specially for you (you might have to wait for a few minutes for one of those).

The pizza here is really tasty! Not as good as a New York slice, but VASTLY superior to most slices on the west coast. A thin, tender crust with an oregano heavy sauce and enough cheese to provide a creamy, stretchy quality without making the crust overly floppy. It is just greasy enough, just salty enough, and just filling enough to make the perfect midnight snack.

Upskirt shot, showing nice char.

This place is a quick service restaurant, so be prepared to eat it standing at the counter or take it back to your room in the standard paper box.

The pizza is cheap, it’s fast (don’t worry if there is a line, it really moves), and it’s just what you want after a tasting menu.

I ate a snack after a 3 hour tasting menu. I officially have no shame.