Archives for January 2014

Lincoln – The UWS Fine Dining Destination

Hooray, it’s 2014! Back to work after a wonderful week with family and friends, rejuvenated and ready to tackle your career with passion and energy.

Who’s ready to play hooky?

If you are, come meet me at Lincoln Center. Sure, we can see “The Nutcracker fi you want to, but I had something else in mind. Something a little more…delicious.

Lincoln, Jonathan Benno’s Italian restaurant at Lincoln Center opened to great fanfare a few years ago, but the buzz quickly died down. Now, it’s often overlooked for flashy, new places that feature reclaimed wood, pop rocks in dessert, and tasting menus composed of 781 single bites.

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Lincoln is in a large, modern space that seamlessly blends comfort and sweeping, striking aesthetics. The open kitchen is sparkling clean, the bar area is small but extremely well laid out, and the soaring windows give views of either 67th street or the iconic Met opera house. It seems laughable that a restaurant should be so dramatic yet so comforting, but there it is.

Now onto the important stuff…the food.

Don’t think pasta…think Italian inspired with seasonal dishes.

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Butternut squash amuse bouche

This is what I man by seasonal. In snowy weather, I don’t want salmon ceviche. Give me something warming and comforting. Give me a  sweet-savory soup with a spicy, crunchy topping.

In an adorable teacup.

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Bread

All of which is excellent, not to say totally memorable. Crunchy, wheaty grissini and soft  foccacia with pleasantly crunchy salt atop are the best of the lot.

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Dip it in the accompanying eggplant and chickpea hummus. It’s rich, earthy, and positively velvet in texture. It has a nutty note from the chickpeas and roasted garlic adds a mellow, sweet note. It’s worth ordering an extra piece of foccacia just so that you can sop up every ounce of hummus without using your finger. As I did.

photo 1 (1) Chicory and Parmesan salad

The perfect winter salad. Nothing tarted up or overdone about it. No mealy out of season tomatoes. Just crisp, slightly bitter chicory and radicchio in a bracing, vinegary dressing. The cheese is excellent quality – it embraces the softer, nuttier sides of Parmesan that enhance and complement the lettuce instead of competing with it. Few salads show this amount of restraint, to this excellent effect.

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Seared cobia with arugula custard, hen of the woods mushrooms, and cipollini onions

Oh yes. Cobia is meaty an rich, like a cross between swordfish and mahi-mahi. It’s juicy and thick, with a mild taste and buttery texture. Seared until the outside is lightly crispy with a wonderful salty crunch. The custard is pleasantly bitter, highlighting the sweet onions and the meaty, woodsy mushrooms. This is a very filling, thick cut of fish- it’s prepared beautiful and is balanced in taste and texture.
photo 1 (2) Apple semifreddo with apple cider doughnuts

This is how you do downtown-uptown food. Creamy semifreddo, somewhere between ice cream and nougat, filled with a pool of rich maple syrup and cubes of green apple gelee. Served alongside are dense, warm, spicy-sweet apple cider doughnuts. Tart, sweet, crunchy and cooling…these are all aspects of this dessert. A lovely finish to a lovely meal. 
photo 2 (2) Oh, and don’t miss the bitter orange caramels from the mignardises plate, either. 

Lincoln is just the type of place I want to visit more this year. It’s unique and has a distinctive view of food. Plus, the 2 course lunch special for $36 is a very fair deal and delicious to boot. The food is wonderfully tasty, the service is professional, and the atmosphere is totally lovely.

Like I said…wanna play hooky?

A New Look at Some Old Joints

I can’t go out and eat at new restaurants every night, can I ? After all, just last night I made my favorite kale and tomato recipe (added some sausage, nixed the beans) – sometimes, you just need to revisit an old favorite menu or recipe because nothing else will do. With that in mind, here are some little known dishes from previously blogged restaurants:

2013-02-12_10-33-39_925 (1) Mexico City Chilaquiles at Rosa Mexicano

The only reason this isn’t blogged is that the review was already lengthy. This stuff is wonderful – not quite up to my Arizonan past, but leagues better than most of the Mexican food in the city. The sauce is creamy but not gloppy or heave, and is at turns tart, spicy, and savory. I could – and did! – lap it up with a spoon. I’m not a major fan of ham, but this steak is mild, thin, and very crispy underneath the well scrambled (read – not rubber) eggs and super crispy tortilla strips. This is a very hearty breakfast and only needs a couple of Bloody Marias to make it a brunch worth repeating.
IMG_20140128_131801_015 (1) Kale salad at Blossom

Okay, usually I like the more indulgent food here, the stuff that tastes really indulgent and dirty. But every now and then – you know, when my  pants are especially tight  and my face looks like it’s bloated in a fun house mirror – I need something that is a little healthier. Enter the kale salad. the kale is obviously massaged within an inch of its life, because it’s very soft and tender. It’s layered with diced red pepper, creamy avocado, and the creamiest, nuttiest, wonderfully salty tahini salad dressing. It’s very light, which is sometimes just what you need. This is so addictive that I actually had it twice in one day.

If you order it for delivery, then they can’t tell that it’s you and make fun of you.
IMG_20140127_183217_958 (1) Bolognese at Lincoln

I mean, what IS this stuff?! It’s utterly fabulous! Veal, pork, and beef cooked in a bright tomato sauce. Oftentimes, bolognese is heavy and filing, but the abundance of acidic, juicy tomatoes really broke up the meaty, earthy taste of the meat. the pasta is in long, lasagna-like noodles that perfectly capture the juicy meat and salty Pecorino cheese. This will only be around while the restaurant features the Emilia-Romagna part of Italy, so get it while it’s hot! A new part of the country soon take center stage at the menu and you don’t want to let this gem go untasted!

Game Day Meatloaf Sliders

This recipe was originally published on Whisked Foodie, but come on…it’s perfect for Superbowl Sunday or any time of year. It’s simplified meatloaf served on squishy bread – easier than burgers to make for a crowd and at least as delicious. The secret is the mayonnaise and the toppings. Mayonnaise to keep it moist and condiments to jazz it up, since the seasonings are very low key on this meatloaf.

Who doesn’t love a slider?

Thin meat patties steamed with onions and served on soft, squishy buns have been popularized by White Castle, Krystal, and other fast-food joints. The key to these burgers is the soft, juicy meat atop the almost-creamy steamed onions. To achieve this at home is easier than you may think. It takes its cue from an unexpected place—the all-American meatloaf. The meat releases beefy juices that softly steam the onions, infusing them with flavor. Since it all cooks through evenly anyway, add some pork to the mix for a more complex taste, and be sure not to over-mix the meat. We don’t need to use bread or breadcrumbs as a binder here becasue we don’t want it to be too soft – you really want it to mimic the texture of a burger. Serve it with an array of your favorite sides, and call it dinner or even breakfast!

Meatloaf-Inspired Sliders

Ingredients:

1 ½ pounds ground beef and pork or meatball mix
½ cup mayonnaise
1 yellow onion, sliced into rings
Liberal sprinkling of 21 Seasoning Salute or Montreal Steak Seasoning
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce or to taste
Slider buns
Condiments, to taste
Directions:

1.Preheat the oven to 350

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2.Combine the meat, mayonnaise, and seasonings. Do not over-mix, just mix to combine.
3.Put the onions in a single layer on a tin foil-rimmed cookie sheet.

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4.Form the meat into a long, semi-hard packed loaf on the pan.

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5.Bake the meat for 30 minutes or until a knife pierced into the center of the loaf reveals only clear juices.

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6.Cut into slices, and serve on a bun with some of the onions.

She ain’t much to look at but she sure is tasty. Soft, juicy, and easily made ahead of time – ideal for a big party. Heck, you could even make this with all beef or chicken. Just be sure to go heavy on the seasonings and condiments and you won’t be disappointed.

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Except, of course, with the fact ht you have to watch a sports game.

Superbowl Sunday Menu

So, there is a big event coming up.

I know this because my fiance told me that we have to hold a party for it.

I have never hosted this kind of party. This isn’t really a dinner party. It isn’t an awards show party. And there will be no pairing of wine with cheese.

It’s a big bowl party.

Wait…no… a SUPER bowl party.

There’s going to be a football game and for some reason, people are super psyched.

I will try very hard to watch some of the game and not just play Candy Crush the entire time.

The good thing about this party is that the main focus, besides football, is on food. Not intricate, complicated dishes with subtle spicing, but with the trashiest food possible. Hearty in both ingredients and flavoring, it has to be stuff that feeds a crowd with varying palates and allergies and is also delicious. So, here is what I am thinking of making:

Bombay Deviled Eggs

The last time I made these was almost 2 years ago and they were so popular that they went without me even getting a chance to go back for seconds. They are handheld, they are filling,they are cheap, and they are major crowd pleasers. They aren’t overtly Indian, just slightly spicy and fragrant – the perfect twist on a deviled egg.

Mexican Cheeseburger Dip

I mean, come on…this stuff is tailor made for a Superbowl party. It’s hot, it’s meaty, it’s cheesy, it’s INCREDIBLY unhealthy, and you are supposed to eat it with Fritos…it’s literally PERFECT. I mean, right?

Right.

Jalapeno Popper Monkey Bread

Because why just serve normal bread when you can have one stuffed with cheese and bacon?

Tabasco Sweet and Hot Pralines

These are the perfect thing to snack on in between platefuls of meat and cheese. Just grab a a handful and munch while playing candy crush – I mean, watching the game. They are the perfect mixture of sweet and savory – tasty but not too hoity-toity gourmet. This is good stuff to have sitting around the house. I might mix it in the bowls with plain popcorn.

Fig, Ricotta, and Prosciutto Flatbread

Gonna get maybe 4 or 5 cans of pizza dough and bang these babies out. Might top some with chicken sausage or duck prosciutto to make it kosher.

Might not.

These are as close as I can get to heaven. Pork. Fig. Cheese. and Carbs.

Oh yeah.

Obviously, making some guac, too.

What are you eating on Superbowl Sunday?

Where to Gain Your Winter Weight

Welcome back to the coldest, slushiest, wintery week ever.

Get out those snowboots and turn on those sun lamps, because boy will we need them!

Or, just eat some of these foods. Because nothing makes the winter better than the enjoyment of  gaining winter weight:

Carbone

I went to this much-lauded Italian eatery courtesy of Gallo Wines. They are celebrating their Hearty Burgundy’s 50th year. This wine is rich, juicy, and tannin-y, but I liked the pinot grigiot even more. It’s light, crisp, and slightly aromatic with pears. The price point is great and I would TOTALLY buy this wine for any dinner party.

Now..to the good stuff…

Carbone is extremely cool. It’s retro to the max. Think waiters in wide lapel maroon suits, tableside Caesar salad (a little bland with the world’s best croutons), and veal Parmesan. It’s Park Side done the cool, hip way.

But while the food is good, it doesn’t measure up to the outrageous price tag.

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The Clams Fantasia are as close as I got to really seeing the point of the hype  – juicy, tender clams layered under uni and lardo. This trio is a total winner. The uni is soft and so mild – not at all metallic or fishy. It is creamy underneath that layer of glistening, melted lardo. It’s a very upscale version of clams casino – warm, porky, and savory. Yet, it is more subtle and the flavors run deerper. This is a fabulous dish.

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The garlic bread is pretty great, too. And the service is wonderful. Long story short – on someone else’s dime, this is an delicious restaurant. Otherwise, there are other Italian places to head until the menu gets cheaper or it’s easier to get a reservation.

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Kefi

Now THIS is a restaurant. Loud, crazy, late for our reservation, and too hot. BUT – they gave us a round of drinks to apologize for the late seating time, sat us at an ample table with a super efficient waiter, and served us a ton of delicious Greek food for a MORE than reasonable price. I hope to give a full review very soon in the future, but for now, stick to the ultra smoky babaganoush, the creamy, garlicky tzatziki, and whatever the grilled fish of the day is. This brook trout came swimming in a bright wine sauce, flecked with earthy oregano and parsley. It is flaky, moist, and light – delicious. With a side of buttery, tender broccoli rabe – get that stringy bitter stuff out of your mind – this is so good that you will forget that it is good for you.

Don’t worry, you can rectify that with the glasses of sugary sangria that come your way.

Like I told you, gaining weight is one of the best parts of winter – so let’s make it happen, ASAP!

Carbone on Urbanspoon

NoMad – Is the Emperor Wearing Any Clothes?

If you want to read about the greatest meal I have had in awhile…go back and read the Mas (la grillade) report from yesterday.

Because this review isn’t really a love letter.

Even though I could have sworn that it would be…I ate at a restaurant I have wanted to experience for a year. I was expecting culinary fireworks, and what I got were a few sparks but mostly a dull flame.

NoMad is Daniel Humm’s and Will Guidara’s whimsical restaurant. The Eleven Madison Park alum created the hit of the 2012 restaurant season with decadent takes on classic foods like chicken, bread, and even radishes.  It has a downtown meets uptown gothic vibe – dark velvets paired with a soaring atrium and modern music paired with excellent, formal service. It was – and still is – such a hot reservation that you either have to know someone, make a reservation 30 days out, or eat incredibly early.

Hey, when it gets dark at 4:00 PM, I can eat by 5:45 at night!

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Start with one of the excellent cocktails. The Sippy Cup with vermouth, Averna, ginger, and lime, is like a tomato-less Bloody Mary. The ginger kick is strong and spicy, with a fragrant, herbal backbone from the Averna and the bright note of lime. It’s the ideal aperitif – it sparks the appetite, whets the palate, and prepares tour stomach for the meal to come.

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Radishes and butter

The restaurant’s signature appetizer and a truly delicious one. The radish is dipped in a super rich, thick butter flavored ganache and there is a small pile of coarse salt crystals in which to dip the butter. It’s different from just plain butter – it really is thicker, more intense, more buttery than…butter itself.

It’s expensive, but worth it not just for the taste but for the novelty.

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Fruits de Mer

Here’s where I stop drinking the Kool Aid. This plateau is phenomenal in variety and quality. The oysters are briny but still creamy, with an icy champagne gratine. The uni panna cotta with salty nuggets of caviar is so mild that it has just the faintest suggestion of the sea – soothing and rich. The scallops with lime and pistachio are tender and fresh as can be and the king crab is totally genius – a citrus-y poached crab with creamy foam stuffed back into the claw to resemble its appearance when whole. But…wow. This is an expensive dish. I get that this stuff is expensive and that the chefs do careful and excellent work on it. However..it’s tiny. So tiny. It wouldn’t even make a dent in my blood sugar let alone curb my appetite.

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King crab tagliatelle

My favorite dish of the night, and the one worth going back for. So simple – fresh, eggy tagliatelle, mild, sweet king crab, and a plethora of butter. Enough to stop my heart. Enough to make my heart sing. This is the buttered noodles of your youth upped a notch. The crab is so tender, so mild, so wonderfully rich and tasty. I can’t imagine a more delicious pasta dish. It’s comforting and interesting with just enough salt and the most soothing, lush texture. If you go, please get this.

And, once again, get the big portion. Because even that is JUST about enough to share as an appetizer.

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Brussels sprouts with hazelnuts, apple, and bacon

Very good but nothing that I haven’t made at home. Crispy sprouts, sweet apples, smoky bacon, and crunchy hazelnuts. A great balance of flavors and textures, to be sure – it just paled in comparison to other courses.

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Broccoli roasted with lardo, lemon, and Parmesan

Some fabulous broccoli – the finest I have had since Amaya in London many years ago. It’s roasted at such a high temperature that it gets incredibly crispy without burning. It’s tender at the core but so crunchy outside that it’s almost like a high fiber potato chip. Served atop a verdant broccoli puree, it is broccoli in stereo, coming at you from all angles. The lemon and Parmesan are generously applied, adding bright, salty, and nutty flavors. The lardo is used more sparingly, but its sweet, porcine flavor literally melts onto the brocoli and really infuses the veggies with a meaty, deep flavor.

HOWEVER…

The portion is so lilliputian that my sister actually turned to me and said “you have GOT to be kidding me.” It was a size that is appropriate for a hungry 6 year old. NOT a remotely peckish adolescent, let alone an adult. I totally get small portions in a tasting menu or reasonable portions so you don’t feel sick when you leave a restaurant. I understand high prices for big ticket items like foie gras or labor intensive preparations. But this. is. insane. It’s just too much money for too little food.

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Roasted chicken with foie gras, brioche, and truffles, served 2 ways

The dark meat is served with crispy chicken skin and a poached egg – it’s wonderful.

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Juicy, tender, and succulent with a supremely poached egg and addictive salty bits of chicken skin. It’s familiar yet totally elevated – you ain’t never had no chicken and dumplings like these.

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The breast is good, if a little dry. It’s a wee bit salty and the foie gras flavor is mostly lost in the stuffing. The truffles are a wonderful counterpart to the very fresh white meat, but it isn’t the ethereal chicken of Olympus that it has been purported to be. 

And it isn’t worth the money. I’m so sorry, but it just isn’t.

The desserts are so unmemorable that I can’t even spend time on reporting on them.

Especially since we weren’t gifted the neat macarons that tables on both sides of us got to try.

Maybe we didn’t order enough wine to warrant them? (There is an amazing wine by the glass selection, including the chance to try incredible wines that you would normally never get to drink by the glass).

For whatever reason, it left a bad taste in my mouth even after a very tasty meal.

But tasty doesn’t cut it for the price tag. Or the wait to get a reservation. Or the hype. It just doesn’t cut it for something that I have waited for for a year. I would have enjoyed it a lot more without the hype and with the caveat “get a drink and some appetizers – and bring your gold card. I can’t say that I would recommend this place for anything other than a cocktail, the radishes, and a bowl of that insanely delicious pasta. Nothing  else really stands out.

NoMad is just a case of the Emperor new clothes. And – spoiler alert – he isn’t wearing any. And they still cost him a ton of money.

The NoMad on Urbanspoon

Mas (la grillade) is a Lunch Worth its Weight in Oysters

Lunch at Mas (la grillade) isn’t something to be taken lightly. It takes awhile, it takes some amount of money, and it takes forethought.

Because the food here is so delectable that it will make everything else that you eat that day taste like crap.

So don’t plan an y important meals that night.

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Mas (la grillade) is a 2012 offshoot of the very popular Mas(farmhouse). The decor and atmosphere remind me very much of Union Square Cafe – elegant, light flooded, but still relaxed and casual enough to go wearing jeans (not ripped of course, and not paired with a tank top). It’s the perfect place for a special date or a lunch with long-lost friends. The banquettes are spacious and the table space is ample.

photo 1 (5)  Bread

Served piping hot from the oven. Yeasty and slightly sour. Spread it with the room temperature butter and don’t forget to spread that truffle salt around – savory and delicate aromas waft upwards as it hits the hot bread. I only ate one piece, but it took a lot of self-control.

Self control is overrated.

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Oysters with shallots and thyme

Quite simply, perfect. I love oysters in all iterations, and these are prepared beautifully. Winter oysters are the most sweet and creamy, and these gently grilled oysters are brimming with that mild, buttery, faintly salty flavor. The heat actually makes the oyster milder than it is when raw. The butter sauce complements the oyster well – it echos the richness without overwhelming it, and the shallots are sweet. The thyme is especially surprising, since it adds an earthiness that oysters don’t typically have. Served with a glass of white wine recommended by our fabulous server (really…the service here is informed, friendly, and totally adds to the experience), my only complaint is that I could eat 35 of these and still want more.

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Grilled romaine with buttermilk blue cheese dressing

I haven’t had cooked romaine in a long time, and why not? I forget how wonderful it is – really hearty and filing with a delicate smokiness that makes this so much more satisfying than a cold salad is on a freezing day. The bacon is crispy but not too smoky so it doesn’t overpower the lettuce. The tomatoes are just a half-hearted afterthought but the dressing is wonderful – more ranch than blue cheese, with cool creaminess punctuated by a few funky, salty nuggets of soft blue cheese.

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Grilled scallops with white radishes, squash puree, and broccoli rabe

The greatest scallops in recent memory. Lightly seared with a golden (NOT black) crust on both sides, but still soft enough to cut with a spoon. Buttery is the best way to describe these in both flavor and texture. Soft but not slimy, warmed all the way through, with a very lightly seasoned crust so the scallops delicate flavor shines through. The broccoli rabe is pleasantly bitter and the squash amplify’s the sweet note in the scallops. The serving is also very ample –  6 gargantuan scallops when most places give you 4 and call it a day. This is a treat for scallop lovers.

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Olive oil cake with blood oranges, lime sorbet, and lemon and vanilla curds

Oh yeah. The pastry chef knows what (s)he is doing. This cake almost has a corny, earthy taste. It’s very moist. The lemon curd is tart and creamy and the vanilla is sweet and fragrant – mix them together on your spoon and it’s like a sophisticated Creamiscle. The sorbet is like the best lime popsicle you ever had, and the entire dessert is so bright and flavorful that it jolts you out of your wintery blues.

This meal isn’t cheap, thought here is a $38 three course prix fixe for lunch. However, the meal is very special. It’s leisurely, it’s delicious, and for the quality of the food and the portion you get, the prices really are warranted. The service is a total standout – I have rarely had someone who so loved food and the restaurant hat he stood around discussing the virtues of different oysters with me and poured my mom a complimentary taste of the wine I was enjoying.

So bring your expandomatic pants and cancel your fancy dinner plans – this lunch may be the meal of your week.

Mas (la grillade) on Urbanspoon

Warm Lentil Puree with Shallot Vinaigrette

I love a good twist.

Making Romeo and Juliet into West Side Story – brilliant!

Combining a blanket and a bathrobe into a Snuggie – inspired!

And turning familiar food into something totally new, interesting, and delicious – well that is right up my alley.

Whether it’s deli approved egg rolls or a beef-less fully decked cheeseburger, I am all about the flavors I love in a new and interesting way. That’s where this side dish came from. I took flavors that I love – lentils in a  bright vinaigrette – and it turned into a hearty, soothing side dish.

Warm Lentil Puree with Shallot Vinaigrette

lentils

Ingredients:

1 cup lentils (only use red or yellow lentils – these are the ones that break down. Green or Puy lentils are delicious, but don’t break down and become creamy.)

1 dried bay leaf

2.5 cups veggie or chicken stock

1/2 shallot, finely diced

zest of 1 lemon

1 tbsp. olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

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1. Put the lentils, bay leaf, and stock in a heavy bottomed pot and simmer (not boil) gently for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are very soft and start to break down.

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Be sure to stir the lentils occasionally or they will stick to the bottom of the pot (if they do, they come off easily when scrubbed so don’t worry.)

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2. Take them off the heat, discard the bay leaf, and add the olive oil, shallots, lemon zest, and seasonings.

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3. Stir and serve

This couldn’t be easier, cheaper, or more delicious. Just one cup makes 2 very large side dish portions. It cooks, prep time included, in half an hour. And the taste is hearty, earthy, and incredibly fresh. The lemon zest lifts it brightens it without being too sour. The flavors here are what you might see in a lentil salad, but because it’s warm those flavors are intensified. The shallots and lemon release their aromas with the heat of the lentils and the olive oil is thick and rich, smoothing out the shallot’s rough edges. Don’t forget plenty of salt, because lentils really need it. With a filet of salmon or some chicken meatballs, this is a filing and unexpected meal from totally expected flavors.

A twist on an old favorite brings a whole new dimension to your dinner.

Like I said…the West Side Story of foods.

How to Waste an Entire Month’s Rent at The Plaza

There are times when you need to do something stupid.

I don’t mean something that could hurt you or someone else.

I don’t mean something that is illegal.

I mean something that is expensive.

I mean heading to The Plaza Food Hall and ordering a cheese plate that is massively overpriced.

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You can, however, smile nicely and say “please” and “thank you”, and the server, so used to snobby or borish customers, will cut you and extra portion of cheese and throw some prosciutto on there just because you are polite.

Maybe he can tell that you are having a rough day.

Maybe he can tell that you will have to return a new coat to afford this little outing.

Once you order, make your way through the hordes of tourists to the seats at the end of the counter.

Then, you will be brought a very large cheese board – so large that it almost – ALMOST – justifies the insane price tag. The hunk of Humboldt Fog is huge and almost room temperature. It’s creamy and light, with none of that barnyard-y taste or crumbly texture of lesser goat cheeses. The manchego is semi-soft and nutty with the briny green olive tapenade and the sweet red grapes. The prosciutto is obviously fresh – it almost melts upon contact with your tongue, leaving behind only a sweet, mild, porky taste.  Don’t forget the freshly toasted pretzel chips, crispy and pillowy at once.

After all of that, you may want to spend a little more money

Just because, go big or go home right?

And since you won’t be able to afford rent this month, you may not want to go home.

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So you might as well go have some champagne in The Rose Club.

Go to the mezzanine level, away from the family tourists and with the Euro-cool folks who think that they have more money than you do but less money than the think they do.

Just order that half bottle of Krug. After all, it’s all downhill from her anyway. You are at the Plaza, chomping on sweet candied nuts and being served by men in tuxedos.

And that Krug…wow.

I have rarely had champagne like this. It’s so balanced – clean and crisp with toasty and heady notes – it almost reminds me of mustard in the way that incredible mustard is a sensation for your nose and palate. It’s the perfect accompaniment for a bad day, a good day, a cheese plate, or any combination thereof.

And it’s a great memory when you are mushing together the dregs of old soaps instead of getting new ones because soap money is nonexistent this month.

Of course, if you didn’t waste all of your money on this, you might want to check out this Lamb Cooking Class at Fairway. Learn how to cook Mustard Crusted Rack of Lamb, Roasted Leg of Lamb, and a flurry of side dishes and dessert before getting to eat your creations! Even better, you get wine pairings from the coolest wine aficionado I have ever met, Joshua Wesson, and the money from your ticket proceeds the New York Common Pantry. Head here for more details – I wasn’t paid to tell ya about this, I have just been to Fairway’s classes, and they are awesome! 

Celery Root Remoulade – Winter’s Favorite Salad

This recipe is reposted from my older days – hence the unorthodox structure of the post. It’s one of my favorite recipes, especially for a winter salad, and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do!

See you Tuesday, after the long weekend!

I love complex flavors.
 That’s why I am so drawn to southeast Asian foods-the sour salads of Thailand, the fragrant curries of India, the spicy soups of Vietnam…these are the layered, multi faceted flavors that I crave.  When other little kids were asking for meatloaf for their birthdays, I wanted Kimchi Jigae.  Go figure!
But…every now and then…I crave clean, uncomplicated food.
Just for a change in pace…or, more often, a little rest for my spice laden taste buds.
That’s when I whip up some Celery Remoulade.
Celery Remoulade is celery root in a tangy, mayonnaise based sauce.  Celery root is easily found in gourmet grocery stores, and often in regular grocery stores this time of year.  It is literally the root of the celery stalk, and has a sweet/savory flavor with celery and apple notes.  The texture is like a radish-crunchy but yielding, and porous enough that it absorbs the dressing quickly.
1. Cut your celery root in half, then cut away the peel with a sharp knife.  Then you cut the cleaned root into thin discs.
2. Pile the discs on top of on another and cut the discs into matchsticks.  You can also do this by cutting the cleaned celery root into small pieces and tossing it in the food processor.
3. Combine equal parts mayonnaise and Dijon mustard, and a bit of vinegar.  Also throw in a hearty dose of salt, black pepper, and maybe some diced scallions or shallots if you like strong flavors (as I do).
4.  Now whisk all that up and taste it.  Is it too tart?  Add some more mayo.  Too bland?  Some more pepper or mustard…you get the point.  Then toss it on your diced veggies!
 5. Refrigerate it for at least one hour or – even better – up to 6 hours. 
6. Serve.
Man oh MAN is this amazing!  It is like cole slaw’s richer, more filling cousin.  Creamy, tangy, tart, spicy from the pepper, with the toothsome bite of the celery root.  The clean celery flavor juxtaposes that rich, fatty mayonnaise so perfectly.  Perfect alongside a burger, a turkey sandwich, or even just a piece of bread and a hunk of cheese, this is my favorite simply flavored dish on the planet.  Although…looking back on how I have described the flavors of this awesome French side dish…I guess it’s not so simple after all.  Yeah, I take back what I said earlier.  I just like complex flavors.  What can ya do?