Archives for December 2013

2013’s Epic Fails

It’s that time of the year when classy bloggers make lists of their favorite blog posts of the year. The sumptuous meals. The beautiful tablescapes. The groundbreaking discoveries.

And it’s the time of the year that I (clearly not a classy blogger) showcase my biggest failures, many of which  never made it onto the blog.

So here it is…the worst of 2013!

china latina 014 1. Jamaican quesadillas

FYI…sauteing beef in mango hot sauce makes the beef taste like it has been soaked in oddly sweet urine. And no amount of avocado or chopped bell pepper can save it. Seriously…don’t heat up mango hot sauce. Ever.   IMG_0574 3. Nut crusted goat cheese

Don’t skip the egg wash. And don’t use nuts that you have haphazardly smashed instead of actually crushed in a spice grinder or blender. The nuts will burn, fall off, and generally desert the cheese to let it melt in anunnatractive way all over the pan. So sad.  IMG_0578 3. Seared duck

It should have been easy. I wrote a whole article about it, after all. But no, I ended up with a beautifully seared skin that wasn’t at all rendered and an overdone outside and bleeding raw inside meat. Tough and unseasoned. Duck,expect a rematch in 2014…

IMG_20131019_221715_469 4. Guy Fieri’s lamb chop

Just…so…sad. The lamb should die for THIS?! pics 003 5. Filet mignon burgers

Don’t think you are going to get an ultra luxe, lean burger by grinding your own fillet at home. You end up with shoe leather. Actually, it’s so bouncy that it’s more like a basketball on a bun.  pix 001 6. Just put some floss in my purse.

Because DUDE…who has the time or privacy to take tooth selfies every time that she eats tabbouleh?!
pix 032 7. Cheating nonfat cheese sauce

Because using nonfat evaporated milk and fake vegan cheese doesn’t result in the nachos of your diet dreams…it results in something that looks and smells like the cat threw up.

All jokes aside, it was a pretty damn delicious year. I had some great restaurant experiences, developed some fun and tasty recipes, and – most of all – shared them with coolest readers on the interwebs.

Thank you so much for reading Fritos and Foie Gras and I promise you many more delicious posts next year!

Happy and healthy 2014 to all!

Bikini Soup

Because, let’s get honest…it’s about T minus 3 days until we all step on the scale and release a collective scream. Don’t tell me I’m the only one who has been binging on holiday chocolates, greasy lo mein, and mulled wine.

Even if I am, just don’t TELL me I am, okay?

So here is a little recipe to help you through those first few days of dieting – those days when it seems like all you will ever be able to eat is kale and boiled chicken.

This is very healthy, very filling, and very appropriate for cold weather.

Obviously, it’s also very delicious.

So, from the lost blog transfer files, I give you:

Bikini Soup

Ingredients:

4 28 oz cans of peeled tomatoes with basil

2 cloves garlic, diced

1 32 oz box low sodium beef,chicken, or vegetable stock

hot sauce, to taste

1 bunch of carrots, peeled and chopped

2 onions, diced

1 bunch of basil leaves, cleaned

1 package of celery, chopped

1 tbsp. Italian seasoning

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper, to taste

cheese, Greek yogurt, scallions (optional)

1. Toss the onions, tomatoes, garlic, and chicken broth into a large pot.

2. Crush the tomatoes with your hand or a potato masher.  You don’t have to totally pulverize them, just rough them up a little bit. The hand is more fun and it’s better than therapy.

That’s what she said.

3. When the mixture boils, add the celery, onions, seasoning, and Worcestershire sauce. Continue to boil on medium high heat for about 40 minutes. 

 The onions should start to be turning translucent, the pot should be furiously bubbling, and the carrots should still be firm.

 4. Add the basil  and hot sauce and boil for about 20 more minutes or until the carrots are soft. Add the basil here to avoid overcooking it and making it stringy and dull tasting.

5. Puree with stick blender or blender until smooth. 

5. Taste for seasonings, add garnish, and serve. 

VOILA!  You have an oil free, butter free, gluten free meal that is(shockingly!) not taste free!!!   It is sweet from the tomatoes, fragrant from the basil, has that familiar, comforting taste of  the carrot, onion, celery trinity known as mirepoix.  It tastes pure, soothing, and hearty, and does not leave you feeling guilty or weighed down.

Jazz it up with extra hot sauce, yogurt, or more basil if you like it that way. However, I prefer it with just a dash of hot sauce, a green salad, and a perfect grilled cheese sandwich.  Grilled cheese sandwiches make you look good in bikinis too.

 Trust me – it’s my blog.

My Dream Progressive Meal

This week hasn’t been a great eating one. I have been working, eating crappy takeout, and sleeping off midday Christmas booze.\

This weekend will likely be more of the same.

BUT…if I were going to have one blowout meal today…one super fabulous meal, from start to finish, each with a favorite dish from an NYC restaurant…this is the one that I would choose:

Cocktail:

Tomato and basil from Slightly Oliver

 This drink, with basil infused gin, tomato water, Reduction of tangerine and lime, and habanero bitters is vegetal and crisp – ideal for whetting the appetite for the meal to come. Light, herbal, with a slight kick from the bitters and a note of sweetness from the tangerine, it is like a subtle Bloody Mary – the best one I have had in NYC. If you like Bloody Marys, get this. 

Bread Basket:

Here is a shot of the BEST thing in the assorted bread basket: The mozzarella, salami and basil filled stromboli. Zesty, meaty, garlicky salami collided with soft and stretchy tufts of bread and creamy mozzarella. Dipping that bread in the accompanying tangy caponata could be an entire meal.

Soup:

 Oyster Pan Roast with Uni Crostini from The John Dory
Cream. The alcoholic tang of sherry. Sweet butter. Plump oysters, just warmed through, their natural sugars caramelizing on the outside, contrasting with the salty, oceanic juices that flowed freely when they were bit. Thin as a soup but richer than a stew – no vegetables or flour to get in the way. Just the lush cream, the biting sherry and those deep, briny ousters. The crispy crostini was generously layered with fillets of sweet and salty uni, redolent of the sea and with an iron-y taste not unlike liver. Crisp bread, creamy uni, and rich stew…truly the ideal soup.

Salad:

 Sugarsnap Pea Salad with Parmesan Dressing and Herbs from ABC Kitchen
This salad is unexpected on every level. Crunchy, slightly bitter endive matched perfectly with the peas that were-true to their name-sugary sweet. Licorice-y chervil adds another layer of the flavor with the light vinaigrette that is surprisingly pungent. Not salty, but with a punchy and almost meaty flavor. It adds depth and rounds out this light and vibrant salad.
Fish:
 Piri-Piri Shrimp with Avocado, Jicama and Myer Lemon Vinaigrette from Junoon
These plump, moist shrimp are coated in a fiery, tart, sweet sauce that was so addictive, I would bet my life that there is crack cocaine in there. The flavors were well balanced – burning first at the front of my lips, then a bit sweet on the tongue, then a clear high note that had to be vinegar…I won’t pretend to know how this was made. I will just tell you that if you have any inclination towards powerful, high octane food, this is a must get.
Meat:

Original DB Burger – Sirloin Burger Filled with Braised Short RibsFoie Gras and Black Truffle, Served on a Parmesan Bun with  Pommes Soufflées at DB Bistro

I had my doubts about this burger. How could a burger this overloaded with ingredients retain its integrity as a burger? Furthermore, how could a burger with this many tastes manage to respect all of its fine ingredients. This was going to be a disaster, I was sure of it.

I was so, so wrong.

The first thing I said when I tasted this was “I felt like I have never eaten beef before.” This was SO beefy, with its double hit of medium rare ground sirloin, rosy and robust in taste with the tender shortribs. The short ribs were not stringy or gamy, but cooked until the flavor was mellow and deep against the vibrant ground beef. The bun was soft and squishy, but did not deteriorate from the copious meaty juices. The taste of truffle was delicate but ever-present, savory and heady next to the sweet madeira in the short ribs. The piece de resistance was, of course, the sizable disc of foie gras, melting and rich. It swam in my mouth, almost dancing, the sweet, buttery component of the dish. I still don’t know how these ingredients all worked so well together – even describing it seems like overload – but the taste is one that I will never forget.

Cheese:

IMG_20131031_140036_553

Cheese plate from Asiate

And a rather mammoth one, at that! This dessert easily feeds 2 people as a light meal and comes loaded with hard, soft, stinky, delicate, gooey, and tangy cheeses. Add to that the excellent house baked raisin nut bread, some salted nuts, and a whole orchard of fruit and..well…

You’re in business.

Dessert:

Caramelized banana ice cream tower with hazelnut shell and toasted marshmallow sauce from Blue Water Grill

This makes bananas foster look like Laffy Taffy. That’s how divine and purely banana-y this ice cream tastes. It tastes clean and almost floral with soft bananas interspersed in the airy ice cream. It is drizzled with bittersweet chocolate sauce and crowned with sticky, sweet marshmallow cream. Possibly the most delicious part of the dessert is its fragile hazelnut tower. Crisp, sugary, and buttery, tasting like a gigantic Florentine cookie. This dessert might have made my dad stab my sister with a fork for the last bite.

5 Post Holiday Pleasures

If you are one of those lucky folks who has Christmas off today, here are some ideas of things that you should do:

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009) Poster

via

1) Give yourself $12 to spend at the nearest  drugstore and go wild. Might I recommend some Nutella and a crappy Jennifer Garner movie?

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2) Start drinking at 9 am and take a nap at noon. It’s midweek brunch and it’s awesome. When else is it appropriate?!

3) Bring down leftovers to your doorman – or, if you really want to do it up right, make them a fresh batch of cookies. They will be so thrilled that the next time you get so much as an envelope, they will help you carry it upstairs.  Besides, chances are, they are awesome and deserve those cookies more than Santa.

nyc parking ticket

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4) Get a good parking spot at the mall and confuse all of the manic sale shoppers by moving in and out of the spot repeatedly. 

5) Delay getting healthy just one more day and order in that Chinese food that your Jewish friends were eating last night. Or, do the opposite, and make a prime rib and Yorkshire pudding for a traditional Christmas meal just one day late!

Of course, if you are working, just spend the day hating those who aren’t.

And still consider doing #4 on a weekend. It’s evil but enjoyable.

To be a Jew on Christmas…

Means to watch White Christmas over and over, to eat Chinese food until our sodium levels rise to an almost lethal level, and to prepare to buy all of the Reese’s Christmas bells at half price tomorrow.

Gotta love it!

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it and to those who are working while so many of us can relax – thank you so much!

See you tomorrow for a list of awesome things to do while many businesses are still closed for the holiday!

Easy Boeuf Bourguignon

I know how to make a proper stew, mmkay?

I know about flouring and browning the meat. I am well aware of a bouquet garni. And yes, I can even whip egg whites stiff to make a raft that attracts the impurities and leave the broth crystal clear.

But just because I know how to use a paintbrush, does that mean that I have to paint the Sistine chapel every day?

This is the other kind of stew. The “I have a million things to do at work and I have to pick up the kids at school and I have to get a haircut because my hair looks like Harry Potter’s broom and when the hell will I have time to make dinner” stew.

It’s the one that I make the most often.

Hello, slow cooker!

Easy Beef Bourguignon

beef stew

Ingredients:

1.5 lbs stew meat

1 package mushrooms, cleaned and quartered

1 bunch clery, chopped

1/2 bunch carrots, chopped or sliced on the mandolin

1 large onin, sliced into quarters

3 garlic cloves, peeled and whoel or smashed

1.5 cups red wine

2 cups unslted beef broth

3 tbsp. tomato paste

2 tbsp. worcestershire sauce

A few sprigs each rosemary and thyme, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

1 glug balsamic vinegar

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1. Put all ingredients in slow cooker. Stir once then set it to high and leave it for 6-8 hours.

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It is done when the meat falls apart at the merest touch of the spoon. Taste for seasonings and skim the fat off the top (or cool it overnight and take off the fat easily, as seen here).

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2. Serve with boiled potatoes, crusty bread, or buttered egg noodles.

Yeah, that’s it. It’s just the ticket when it’s cold and miserable outside and you want to eat something hearty but not fatty or salty – homemade is always best, after all. This is so wonderful. The stew meat is cheap but it tastes as fine as any pricey cut when it breaks down and becomes juicy and rich. The sauce is minerally and savory, with some sweetness from the tomato paste and toothsome mushrooms rounding out the stew. The onions absolutely fall apart in the most wonderful way, and the carrots totally melt when they touch your tongue. The rosemary and thyme are earthy and that glug of balsamic is – If I do say so myself – totally inspired. It adds a sweet-sour, intense aspect to the otherwise earthy stew. Serve it with mashed potatoes or egg noodles or – if you are lucky enough! – in bread bowls.

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And don’t worry.

You can make that from-scratch Turducken tomorrow.

A Lotta Salad and a Little Sweet

Here’s hoping that those of you on the east coast enjoyed your unseasonably warm weekend.

And as for those of you on the west coast…every weekend is warm.

We all hate you.

I have been eating some healthy food and some total junk food. It’s all or nothing with me, lately! Here’s the scoop:

IMG_20131218_130414_011

Westville

One of those “how have I never been here?” places. Because, really..why haven’t I? The Chelsea location is small and on the cramped side, so sit at the bar for lunch or come with 1 friend max – a table of 3 really better be comprised of skinny minnies to be comfortable. The food isn’t fancy but it surely is tasty – my daily special of chef’s salad was filled with excellently grilled strip steak – crispy on the edges and juicy within. Hunks of cucumber, creamy avocado, and other market fresh veggies rounded out the dish. It isn’t that the recipe is new or intricate, it’s that the ingredients are all cooked and composed very well. Bravo.

IMG_20131221_123306_764

Rare

I haven’t been to this restaurant since it used to be in Greenwich Village years ago. The new Chelsea vibe has become a little more corporate and has lost some of its personality and charm. But if the burgers are as good as I remember them – thick, juicy, and topped with pungent and high quality Artisanal cheese – then the loss of atmosphere is a small price to pay.

The Cobb salad is again, standard but well done. Crispy bacon, buttery avocado, chunks of nutty cheddar cheese, and juicy char-grilled chicken. Oh yeah, and they chop it almost ingot oblivion if you ask nicely. That’s what takes this salad from satisfying to craveable. 

Why do chopped salads taste so much better? Have I actually gotten so lazy that I no longer like to chew?

Don’t answer that…

IMG_20131213_171034_725

Queen Anne cherry candies

This time of year, they haunt every drug store from Rite Aid to Duane Reade. It’s the trashiest candy on the planet – there is nothing here that occurs in nature. I don’t even like cherries very much, let alone the disgusting fluorescent red items known as Maraschino cherries. And yet…these are so wonderful. A thin, sweet chocolate shell surrounding sweet, sticky glaze and a pop of a juicy, candied cherry. These will give you a diabetic shock. And a stomachache.

Each year I eat them until I am sick of them. 

Not there yet, this year!

Gone Fishin’

Taking the day off to…wait for it…prepare to be jealous…continue unpacking boxes from the home I moved into in June.

See you on Monday with a recipe for beef stew, my new favorite lunch spot, and the blog’s epic fails of 2013.

Have a delicious weekend!

Five Points – Always in Season

This piece originally appeared in Whisked Foodie

The most important dining movement in the last 10 years hasn’t been tail-to-nose whole beast feasts. It hasn’t been veganism, and it hasn’t been the raw food trend. It has been eating seasonally.

People started to realize that strawberries taste sweetest in the summer and that game tastes the richest and funkiest in the late fall. This idea of eating with the seasons instead of just eating whatever is available without paying attention to what is in season plays into locavorism and supporting local farmers. Luckily, it also plays into taste. Such is the premise behind Five Points.

peels pizza beef stew polenta vandaag rockog 162

Five Points, a NoHo staple since 1999, is the brainchild of chef and owner Marc Meyer of Hundred Acres and Cookshop. Meyer has been a proponent of eating seasonally since the restaurant opened, and though his menu has a few perennial staples, most of it changes several times a year. There is also a plethora of daily specials, including a rotating raw bar.

The restaurant, named for the part of town in which it is located, carefully walks the line between hip and comfortable. The main dining room is dark and buzzy, but there is a large anteroom with a skylight that lends itself towards parties or a brunch. The restaurant gets quite busy at peak dinner times, where it is great for a group of friends catching a casual dinner or for a couple enjoying drinks and snacks at the bar.

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Start with the famous potato pizza, made with sliced Yukon gold potatoes, fontina, and white truffle oil. The crust is cracker thin and properly charred on the bottom, contrasting with the extremely creamy and soft fontina cheese. The thinly sliced potatoes are butter, with the skins providing a bit of pleasant chew next to the soft flesh. The touch of truffle oil is perfect—its heady scent reaches the nostrils before the mild taste of the pizza reaches your mouth. This is the ultimate potato lover’s pizza.

peels pizza beef stew polenta vandaag rockog 170

Then go for a seasonal entree, like fresh fluke with rye berries, strawberries, red onion, jalapeno, walnuts, mint, and yogurt or the ever popular Amish Roasted Chicken, which can come with anything from creamy polenta to crisp french fries and butter lettuce doused in herbaceous Green Goddess dressing.

peels pizza beef stew polenta vandaag rockog 166

The prices are fair, the food is delicious, and the service is efficient but also convivial. Though there is a heavy hand with the salt, the food is just so delicious that the dehydration that follows is worth it. When you dine at Five Points, you aren’t just eating a meal, you are eating a philosophy. It just also happens to be extremely tasty.

And the Winnner of That Bourbon Ketchup is…

True Random Number Generator  19

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Vera K! Vera, I will contact you about getting you your bottle of ketchup!

And because it’s the holidays…

True Random Number Generator  12

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Linda will also be getting a bottle!

Happy holidays, all!