Hanukkah Eats, Part 3: I’m Running out of Juice. And I Need Some Juice.

Dear readers, I am afraid that I have let you down.

This week, my diet has, quite literally, consisted of lakes, leftover lakes, a jar of kimchi, and endless seltzer. I have just been in a Hanukkah frying haze.20141217_133419

Though, truth be told, I was tempted by the lovely Ruinart champagne bar at The Nutcracker.

I have nothing to show you.

And yes, I hang my head in shame.

However, I do offer you this article – curated by yours truly and featuring some of the neatest Hanukkah dishes I’ve ever seen. Come on, dessert latkes?!

I’m taking the next 2 days to…I don’t know…eat kale and visit a sauna in hopes of overcoming this oil-laden few days.

OH…and follow my brand new Instagram account  (@fritosnfoie) where you can see all of the latke, latke, latke goodness for yourself!

See you on Monday when I’m back in the game!

Yes, Another Hanukkah Post

What my family will be eating this Hanukkah:

Kimchi Latkes

Brisket

Doughnuts

I know that I should throw a salad in here somewhere, but there just isn’t any room. Aah, well,

Happy second night of Hanukkah, all.

What to Eat Before Hanukkah

What you should be eating today, before what is sure to be an onslaught of latkes, Christmas cookies, and alcoholic beverages of all sorts.

20141207_152950Quinoa salad from Three of Tarts

A wholesome, tasty lunch or side dish. Red quinoa that’s a little underdressed, but a quick douse of apple cider vinegar at home remedies that. The asparagus is crunchy and verdant, the roasted tomatoes are soft and juicy with olive oil, and even the corn manages to somehow be sweet. Red quinoa is a slightly more toothsome and hearty than yellow quinoa – give it a chance.
20141212_204612Buttercup Bakeshop carrot cake cupcake

Buttercup never lets me down, least of all with this rendition of my all time favorite cake flavor. The carrot cake itself is moist and fluffy, with a bouncy but not dense crumb. It’s loaded with fragrant nutmeg and the carrot shreds are not overly discernible. Nothing worse than big ole strings of carrots ruining the cupcake’s texture. The cream cheese frosting is damned near addictive. Smooth, creamy, tangy, sweet, dense…yeah, it’s absolutely addictive.

And that’s all I’ve eaten recently, besides bagels with Barney Greengrass whitefish salad.

How about you?

The Best Neighborhood Sushi Joint in NYC

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The one with plenty of seating.

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The one that takes reservations.

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The one where native Japanese speakers sit elbow-to-elbow with pre-theater diners ordering California rolls.

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The one that is on a random street in a seemingly so-so atmosphere – rather suburban and tired.

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The one that has a small cult following on Chowhound.

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The one that has incredible uni – clean and creamy, from Santa Barbara.

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The one that has an omakase, with 12 pieces and a cut roll of rich, buttery toro, for just $45.

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The one where you should avoid the fishy, oddly crunchy herring, but to everything else, say “Yes, please.”

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The one where the seared scallop is so undeniably sweet, so mouth-meltingly tender, that it would be at home at Nakazawa.

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The place where I am scared to tell you the name. I don’t want this place to blow up and become ridiculously crowded and expensive. It isn’t 15 East, but it’s SO FAR ABOVE PAR, with excellent rice and truly fresh, well cut fish.

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Want the name?

Give me an email and I’ll give up the goods.

Fritosnfoie@gmail.com

And when I tell you the name…ssshhh…mum’s the word.

Happy Birthday Mom

Today is my mom’s birthday.

I know you might think that this may not mean a lot to you, but it does.

I mean, you are reading this blog, right? You are hopefully making some recipes and visiting some restaurants, right?

You are doing that because of my mom.

My mom taught me everything about food.

She was the first person who bought me a sushi roll when I was 7 years old. I remember sitting in that tiny restaurant in a Southern California suburb, with a cylinder of  concentric circles of black, white, and red, and thinking…”tekka WHAT?! Raw fish is amazing!”

She made me bone marrow, promising me that it looked gross but would taste amazing. It was rainy and gray outside and she spread a quivering, murky colored blob onto a piece of sourdough baguette and sprinkled it with sea salt. I’ve never looked back.

She took me down to Olvera Street and bought me my very first taquito – she promised that I would like it. Obvi, she was right.

She never made me eat anything I didn’t like – because, the one time she did, the cheese was actually spoiled and rancid, and she never got over the guilt. AWESOME for me!

She talked me out of trying deviled ham and canned clam dip, which I was obsessed with after reading a children’s book. I can’t even imagine the years of harm that meal would have caused.

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She bought me my very first food book – the inimitable What’s for Lunch Charlie? – and read it to me over and over and over, and then made me lunch whenever I invariably got hungry. Usually it was something awesome, like grilled cheese.

She made me chile rellenos before grad night at Disneyland. 

When I was in high school, she would let me bring over 20 people after play rehearsal and, on a whim, magically whipped up her special spaghetti. She never asked for prior notice or reimbursement for feeding a huge cast and crew. She invented that spaghetti because it was so easy to make and she could buy all of the ingredients at Costco.

Speaking of casts and crews, when I was in college, she made pans and pans of matzah candy when we opened a show. She made maybe 15 trays and would send them overnight express, wrapped in bubble wrap and at least 25 lbs. heavy. The pans were always decimated an hour after I brought them to the theater, and when my mom showed up tot he theater, the cast always fought to get to her first to hug her and beg her for the recipe.

She used to let me eat that cheapo creamy chicken ramen when I was sick. I would stay up late and watch I Dream of Jeannie with her and eat that ramen, which explains why, to this day, it’s my favorite food to eat when I’m sick.

She sat with me for hours as I agonized over which restaurants to visit during our family vacations. She always let me take the lead and was perhaps the only person who ever adhered to my eating schedule (egg whites and an apple ONLY on the day of an important dining reservation!)

She introduced me to my first wiener schnitzel in Vienna, my first tapas in Spain, and my first afternoon tea in London.

She taught me how to pinch my fingers together to see if steak was done.

She helped me painstakingly make my first – and last – molten chocolate cake. 

She went to Trufflepalooza with me. Twice. 

She taught me that throwing a party is all about lots of food and a great theme. People forgive cheap booze and plastic cutlery when you transform the living room into a Moroccan palace.

She taught me how sour cream and Cool Ranch Doritos are an unbeatable, if embarrassing, flavor combination. 

She smuggled back some Scottish beef in her suitcase and we made the most incredible beef Stroganoff with it.

She took me out of gym class (let’s face it, I SUCKED at dodgeball anyway), brought me home, and taught me how to whip Hollandaise until it was thick and frothy, how to poach salmon until it was silky, and how to dice an onion to minuscule, uniform bits.

She took food writing classes with me and ditched them with me to go get lunch, because we aren’t really the follow the rules types, anyway.

She told me that recipes are for the birds…which really only works if you

She spent hours on the couch with me, silently watching Nigella and loudly deriding Sandra Lee.

No one has ever embraced a fast food burger or a blini with caviar with such equal fervor as my mom. She taught me to accept the Fritos and the foie, equally.

She came over and cooked with me every night for almost a year when I first started my blog, so I could have someone crush tomatoes when I photographed.

She is the best home cook I have ever known, the most voracious experiencer of life, and without her, I would probably be working at a job I hate, being a generally miserable person who never let myself stop to get a macaron in the middle of the day.

Happy birthday, mom. Make it a delicious one.

Chinese Chicken Salad

Chinese chicken salad is SO under-represented on the east coast.

I don’t know why that is. Is it because Wolfgang Puck, creator of the world’s finest Chinese chicken salad, focused on the west coast in is heyday? Is it because NYC focuses more on dim sum and miso cod and less on the light food that you need on the incredibly hot, often arid weather on the west coast?

I don’t know and I don’t care.

Bottom line: I need Chinese chicken salad in my life. And here is what that salad needs:

-soft, moist, poached or roasted but certainly not grilled chicken

-cabbage, not lettuce

-something crunchy

-a dressing that is a little spicy, a little sweet, and incredibly tart and refreshing.

So what’s a gal to do?

Make it herself, of course.

Chinese Chicken Salad

chinese chicken saladIngredients:

1 package shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix

1 shallot, half in large slices and half in small dices

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Enough wine or beer to barely cover the chicken in a shallow saute pan

1 cup cilantro, cleaned and chopped

1 tsp. chopped ginger

1 clove garlic, diced

pita chips or fried wontons

sesame oil

peanut oil

wasabi and mustard OR hot English/Chinese mustard

sesame seeds

hoisin sauce

rice wine vinegar

soy sauce

20141208_171918 1. Put the wine, ginger, garlic, and the sliced part of the shallot in a large, shallow saucepan. Put he chicken breasts in there, too. Set it to medium high until it simmers, then set it to medium low. Cover and check back every 3 minutes until the chicken is poached – you want to take the chicken out when it is still BARELY pink in the very center of the breast. As it cools it will continue to cook. 20141208_174018 2. While the chicken cooks, put the scallions, snow peas, and cabbage into a large bowl. 20141208_1741423. Make the dressing. This is a ratio thing, so get ready for it:

2 parts oil: 1 part rice wine vinegar: .5 part hoisin sauce: .25 part hot mustard/mustard and wasabi combo

Everything else is negotiable. You are looking for a dressing that is light, sweet, tart, an only BARELY spicy. Don’t forget to put the diced shallot in there, too.
20141208_175706 4. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull it with 2 forks. Alternatively, you can make the chicken ahead of time and then pull it and make the salad the following day. 20141208_175903 5. Add the chicken, pita or wontons, and dressing to the salad. Make sure that the salad is well dressed – it’s the secret to what makes this so embarrassingly addictive. 20141208_1802586. Serve – if you want, like I did, with super crispy, soy sautéed potstickers

This is what I crave…THIS is the stuff. Light, crispy, juicy, and hearty. A tiny punch of heat and whole lot of sweet and tangy. The slight bitterness of the cabbage plays off of the juicy, ginger infused chicken and the sweet snow peas. Wontons are traditional but all I had were some rather stale pita chips and – lo and behold – it totally worked! The chips soaked up the dressing and managed to stay a little crispy. And oh, that dressing…you could serve this a rubber band and people would clamor over that rubber band. The secret is the hoisin sauce – its sweet, viscous, and umami.

I’m picking up where Wolfgang puck left off - because the East coast deserves its own Chinese chicken salad.

Another Carnivore Approved Meal at Le Verdure at Eataly

 It’s been awhile since I have visited Le Verdure at Eataly.

I’m trying to remember why I don’t go there more often…so far, I got nothin. 

The service is pretty good and the price tag is higher than your normal casual lunch, but the food is phenomenal. It’s the perfect place for a weekday lunch with a friend or by yourself at the counter where you can watch yourselves at work. I wouldn’t brave Eataly on a weekend for all the tea in China, but that’s just because I hate most other people.

Not you, obviously. The other people.

But, even on a horrible holiday-shopping crowded Saturday, Le Verdure would still have a lot to offer.

20141208_121232Fritto misto

Clams be gone, this may be the best fried appetizer I have ever had…ever. A puffy, crispy, but still ample beer batter-type crust around wonderful veggies. Sweet onions, crunchy Brussels sprouts, even an unexpectedbly buttery but still somewhat spicy watermelon radish. Squeeze  lemon over this for a hit of acid that rounds out the earthy, sweet veggies. They are salted enough to bring out the flavor of each vegetable but not overly salty or at all greasy. This is an unmissable appetizer, though the daily bruschetta is no slouch either.
20141208_122256 Fried butternut squash with pumpkin seeds and Parmesan

Like butternut squash latkes. Gently pan-fried squash, crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, scattered with crunchy pumpkin seeds and a bruleed topping of nutty Parmesan cheese. I’m not the hugest squash fan, since I often find  it too sweet and a little mushy, but on a cold wintry day, this is comfort food central. 20141208_122323Roasted winter vegetables

Why is this so much more elegant than my burnished pan of olive oil roasted Brussels sprouts? Tiny carrots with their greens still attached, gently roasted hen of the woods mushrooms, creamy sunchokes, and more are all atop a creamy yogurt. The yogurt isn’t at all tart or chalky – it’s silky and almost sweet against the simply roasted veggies. Pops pumpkins seeds and tart, juicy pomegranate seeds really give the dish a wholly rounded, faceted flavor. This is light but incredibly tasty – wonderful with some of the house baked bread and fruity olive oil.

20141208_122328Radicchio salad

Oh YES. This salad is bitter, well dressed, and acidic, just like the old lady I hope to one day become. If you like radicchio, this salad will be your dream. Soft, mild outer leaves, bitter and biting purple inner leaves, and the almost artichoke-like grilled green ones. There are charred tastes and raw ones, mixed in a fruity, pleasantly sour vinaigrette. The sour aspect is vital to cutting through that bitter raddichio taste that is amplified by being grilled. Many people don’t like the bitter taste, but if you do,t hen this might just be the greatest radicchio you ever eat.

La Verdure is one of the few places where you can eat as well and heartily as a vegan as you can as a carnivore. I have to go back again soon, before another 4 years passes by.

Weekend Eats: Girls Gone Calm Edition

Weekend eats, Girls Weekend: Girls Gone Calm Edition.20141202_125634Nanoush Labne Wrap

Meh…not my favorite Mediterranean spot on the planet. The restaurant is tiny and cramped, the service is slow and uneven, and the food is okay at best. The labne wrap was 1 part creamy, rich strained yogurt and 99 parts lettuce and tomato. Now, I like veggies as much as anyone, but if you are giving me a labne wrap, give me some labne! I can’t really recommend this for anything other than vegetarian sustenance when it’s too rainy to cross the couple of blocks to Maoz.

20141206_180948Whirley Pop stovetop popcorn maker

This machine made a popcorn lover out of me! I was never one of those people who worshipped popcorn as food from the heavens. Give me potaot chiops, know what I mean? This stovetop pot is, however a game changer. It’s so easy and quick to use and the flavor combinations are ENDLESS. So far, I have used Reese’s Pieces, lime zest and togarashi, and truffle salt and butter. I could even see using the truffle version as pre-dinner nibbles for a nice dinner party.

20141206_161428Sushi from Whole Foods

Because, at the end of the day, after all of my pastrami stuffed egg rolls and amazing French meals, I am such a basic you know what.

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I hate myself for liking this stuff, but the shrimp tempura roll is downright delicious. Apart from the somewhat gummy and overabundant rice, it’s actually perfect. Spicy, crunchy, and sweet.

The spicy tuna with brown rice is pretty healthy and no slouch either.

And this post is why Girls Gone Calm is a video series in which I could totally star. 

Toffee Apple Bacon Pie

This pie is delicious.

The technique is very poor.

But the outcome is so, so good.

Please note that this recipe can be adjusted to your tastes, and also note that the toffee sauce is copied from this recipe.

But the addition of bacon and the combination of tart, pie, and sticky toffee pudding, is unbeatable.

Toffee Apple Bacon Pie

Ingredients:

2.5 cups flour, plus more for apples

2 sticks butter, cut into cubes, plus 3/4 cup butter

3 egg yolks

4 cups sugar, divided evenly

1 cup whipped cream

vanilla, to taste

salt, to taste

1 package bacon, cut into pieces

About 10 apples, peeled and sliced into medium-thin wedges

20141126_0839451. Combine half of the sugar, the cream, and the 3/4 cup butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Warm it until the sauce has thickened and coated the back of the spoon, about 10 minutes. You don’t want the sugar to burn, you want it to gently melt.

20141126_0906262. Pour it over the apples, add a scant amount of flour to thicken the mixture (maybe 1 tablespoon or so), and set to work making the dough.

20141126_0852383. Combine the rest of the butter, sugar, flour, and egg yolks in a large mixing bowl. Add a couple of teaspoons of vanilla, too.

20141126_085904Really get your hands in there and make a nice, crumble-y mixture. Don’t forget to add the bacon!

20141126_0919244. Pat the shortbread mixture into a pie dish, poke it with a few fork holes, and bake it at 350 F for about 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. It will seem oozy and bubbling, but that’s just all the butter. Don’t worry, it will solidify.

20141126_0921215. Tip the apples into the pan, along with all of the toffee sauce, cover with large patches of the dough, and bake at 350 F for about an hour, or until the apples are soft and the crust is golden but not too brown.

20141126_092846Bake it on a sheet pan in case any sugary juices bubble over.

20141127_1819046. Serve warm with a mountain of whipped cream.

Sweet, Buttery. Soft. Crumbly. Sweet apples, soft but not mushy, in the lushest, softly sweet toffee sauce. A crust that needn’t be rolled out. And tiny shards of crispy, salty, slightly smoky bacon throughout to temper the sugar content.

It’s not kosher. But it is perfect.

Beefy Tomato Rice

This is comfort food 101.

It’s what my mom used to make when I was sick. Or when my sister had friends over. Or when it was Tuesday.

You know, just any time that we wanted some delicious food quickly.

My husband calls it grown up Beefaroni.

Anna Wintour would call it hideously ugly.

You will call it delicious.

Beefy Tomato Rice

2011-12-18 tsimis brisket liver hummus latkes1Ingredients:

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 onion and 2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes

2 tbsp. tomato paste

1 cup rice or orzo

3-4 cups broth or stock

2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

3 tbsp. ketchup

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or Parmesan cheese

20141125_1732141. Sautee the onions and garlic over medium heat until they turn translucent and soften – the picture here is a little bit too far gone. You don’t want the garlic to color like it has here. 20141125_173720 2. Add the beef and cook until it’s browned. Drain off any excess fat. 20141125_173733 3. Add the orzo or rice. Stir to coat in the residual fat. 20141125_173924 4. Add the tomatoes and one ladleful of stock. 20141125_174034 5. Stir the rice continuously until it absorbs the stock. You continue adding stock and letting the rice or orzo absorb the liquid until the grain has become creamy and plump. This should take about 30 minutes and must be continuously stirred so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. 20141125_175821 6. Add the tomato  paste, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce. Taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly. 20141125_180145 7. Stir in the cheese. 20141125_192144 8. Serve

And be sure to serve youself a much heartier portion than this piddly little serving in the photo.

You are going to want a LOT of this stuff. Creamy, starchy, warming. Juicy tomatoes, sweet onions, tart ketchup. Not too salty and not too spicy – really different than the type of food that I normally enjoy.

And yet…perfect. So delicious. So easy and cheap to make for a big crowd or just for yourself. 20141125_192149

It makes me feel like I’m home again.

And yes, it’s pretty much grown up Beefaroni.