Thursday, July 30, 2009

Stuffed Portabella Mushroom, Steak, Grilled Asparagus

Wednesday night, it was time to taste some more of Jake's flat iron steaks from Dickson's Farmstand Meats stand in Chelsea Market. I had purchased two small flat iron steaks: grain finished from Wrighteous Organics and grass-fed from Herondale Farm. Jake has written a great piece on his website about grass-fed and grain-fed, check it out here. I think I was biased towards grass-fed, but of the two meats this time around, I think I would have to give the nod to the grain-fed. To me, it just seemed to have a beefier quality to it.

Although the meat was very tasty (this is the second success I have had with meats from Dickson's) and the asparagus was cooked my favorite way (simply grilled on a grill pan with salt, pepper, olive oil), I was particularly happy with the stuffed portabella mushroom.

Ingredients
- large portabella mushroom
- 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- tablespoon fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
- 1/2 teaspoon dried taragon
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 2 tablespoons grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
- olive oil
- salt & pepper

Recipe
Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Pull out the stem of the portabella mushroom, trim, and finely chop. In a skillet with olive oil, saute the seasoned chopped mushroom for about five minutes until cooked through, and set aside. Drizzle olive oil over both sides of the portabella mushroom and season with salt and pepper. In a roasting pan, put the mushroom in the oven for about 7 to 10 minutes aside until the mushroom looks cooked through and slightly reduced in size.

While the mushroom is cooking, in a bowl add breadcrumbs, herbs, spices, cheese, salt, pepper, the cooked mushroom cap, and mix together. When the mushroom is cooked, remove from the oven and add the breadcrumb mixture to the "bowl" of the mushroom cap until the mixture is flat with the top. Do not heap the mixture. Drizzle with olive oil and return to the oven. When the topping is browned on top, remove from the oven and serve.

It's a great side dish, but works very well as an entree for a vegetarian.

Wine Pairing
I pulled out one of my favorite inexpensive Chambers Street Wines specials:
Peybonhomme-les-Tours 2006 Premières Cote de Blaye Cru Bourgeois. It was just a fine match with the steak and the stuffed mushroom. A certified organic red from Bordeaux - blackcurrent fruit, spice, soft, lighter for a Bordeaux.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dinner @ Home... Nice and Simple

I didn't feel like heading out to the store, so made a quick simple dinner at home: thinly sliced fennel with lemon and olive and one of my favorite at home comfort foods: pasta with sardines.

The fennel salad is very easy: just shave / thinly slice the fennel and lay the pieces spread out on a plate, add salt (I used Hawaiian Red Alae Sea Salt), pepper, fresh squeezed lemon juice, peppery olive oil, and a few of the fennel fronds as garnish. Fresh, clean, anisey, so simple and such a wonderful palate awakener.
I have posted variations on the next course a couple of times, basically for three simple reasons. It's really easy to make, I just love sardines, and I always have the ingredients at home.

Ingredients
- Pasta (dried or fresh, I used
ma'kaira
spaghetti)
- Can of sardines in oil (Matiz recommended)
- Handful of peas
- 1/4 inch slice of red onion (or any onion you have)
- fresh parsley
- fresh lemon juice
- lemon zest
- red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper

Recipe
Get a large pot of salted water boiling and add the pasta to the pot. When the pasta is a few minutes from being done, add olive oil and the finely chopped onion to a saute pan on medium high heat. Season with salt and pepper. After about a minute, add the red pepper flakes (to taste, but about a teaspoon works well for a nice background heat) and the peas. After another minute, add the can of sardines with the oil from the can (there is great flavor in that oil) and heat through the sardines. Add a squeeze of lemon and lemon zest to the pan.
When the pasta is ready add the pasta to the pot and add pasta water as necessary. Turn off the heat, add the fresh parsley, and toss through the pasta.
Wine Pairing
Serve with a light crisp white wine such as Muscadet (Pepiere, Luneau-Papin, Landron, Bregeon), Firriato 2007 Altavilla della Corte Grillo, or
Clos Roche Blanche 2008 Sauvignon No. 2.

Made in Scotland.... All About Whisky



A set of programmes titled "Made in Scotland" recently aired on STV, but these specific links are for the whisky editions. One of the episodes shows how to taste whisky - you have to be gentle. My favorite line is when master blender Richard Paterson tells actor David Hayman he'll smack him if he sees him holding the glass with his hands around the bowl. I love how they also show enjoying whisky with a piece of chocolate which is a favorite combination of mine. You just cannot beat a glass of Lagavulin and piece of chocolate. Of the links below, you really should see the Whisky and Water edition, it's amazing stuff.

These are very well done programs. I found them thanks to Chris and Lucas' Edinburgh Whisky Blog.

How to Taste
Whisky and Water
Chocolate and Whisky
Bruichladdich Still
History of Blended Whisky
Blended Whisky
Bruichladdich Casks

Monday, July 20, 2009

Smoked Anchovies & The Whole Art of Curing, Pickling...

This past weekend I found some marinated smoked anchovies (from Martel) at the Lobster Place in Chelsea Market. I love sardines and anchovies, but this was my first experience with the smoked version. Just one word: spectacular. Lightly smoked, mild, sweet, succulent... gorgeous. The anchovies are are caught on the surface of the Cantabrian sea using ring nets which scoop from the surface only. They are placed in a delicate brine solution in barrels, hand filleted and gently smoked over beech trimmings.

While researching smoked anchovies for this post, I stumbled across a fascinating book
written by James Robinson in 1847. James Robinson was a practical curer and wrote:

"The Whole Art of Curing, Pickling, and Smoking Meat and Fish. Both in the British and Foreign Modes with Many Useful Receipts and Full Directions for the Construction of an Economical Drying-Chimney and Aparatus on an Entirely Original Plan."


This book is available here for download at Google books.




According to James Robinson, smoked sardines:
"are much in request by epicures, and would be greatly esteemed by others, but they are rarely to be met with, even in the metropolis, and are, consequently, expensive ; and since no connoisseur in wine should be without them, I subjoin the information requisite to obtain them. The process is tedious; but with care and patience we shall succeed in procuring them at the most moderate rate."

I cannot wait to explore this book some more - what a find.

Fresh Pasta with Rock Shrimp, Blue Shrimp, Irish Sea Trout


A summer seafood pasta with rock shrimp, blue shrimp, and Irish sea trout.

Ingredients
- Fresh Linguine
- Irish Sea Trout
- Rock Shrimp
- Blue Shrimp
- Yellow Onion
- Tomato
- Parsley
- Basil
- Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper

Directions
I pre-cooked the sea trout in a saute pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper until it was approximately medium rare. This can be done a little ahead of time and cooled to room temperature. The crispy skin from the fish will not be included in the dish, but tastes fantastic straight from the pan - it's one of the cooks little benefits, like licking the chocolate bowl or eating some of the meat while carving a whole roasted bird.

Get a large pot of water boiling and add salt. In a medium to large pan, cook the chopped yellow onion in olive oil on a medium heat, season with salt and pepper, cook until translucent. Add the chopped tomato and continue to cook for a few minutes. Add the fresh pasta to the pot of boiling water. Increase the heat on the saute pan a little and add the rock shrimp, then the blue shrimp. The pasta and the shrimp should be ready at the same time. With tongs, add the pasta to the pan, then flake in the trout. Add the chopped parsley and julienned basil and drizzle olive oil on the pasta. Serve.

Some thoughts on the dish:
(1) I originally planned to add frozen peas to the dish, because to me fish and peas are such a fantastic combination. I forgot while preparing the dinner, but it was still fantastic.
(2) Next time, I'll think about adding some red pepper flakes with the onion.
(3) There were left overs for the next day, which I ate cold (straight from the dish) and it was equally as tasty the next day. I just love leftovers.

Wine Pairing
I paired this dish with an Italian white wine: Pietrantonj 2007 Pecorino IGT.
I had this a few months ago with yet another fish and pasta dish. I just love pairing a wine from the same country as the dish I am preparing. I did create this dish, but it is Italian in spirit. The wine was a great accompaniment to the pasta and fish. My note from before held true again: "a slight richness with bitter almond, floral, lemon, apricot notes, as well as bright acidity".

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Saturday Night Dinner @ Home

Research for the new site had resulted in a decrease in cooking at home, but not last night. After a visit to the Union Square farmer's market for mixed greens, potatoes, green beans, a visit to Chelsea Market for fresh tuna from the Lobster Place, it was time for a Salade Nicoise for dinner.

I pre-cooked vegetables: simply steamed the green beans, boiled the small Yukon Gold potatoes, and hard boiled the egg. The gorgeous looking piece of tuna was simple to cook: salt, pepper, olive oil, seared in a hot grill pan.

I always seem to make the same easy dressing, purely because it is delicious. Peppery olive oil, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper whisked together. The mixed greens were tossed in the dressing ,the salad composed, the egg salted with Maldon Sea Salt. For a taste comparison, I actually used both the seared fresh tuna and a jar of tuna fillet (As do Mar Filetti di Tonno).

A Salade Nicoise is a blend of flavors and expressions: creaminess of the potatoes, brininess of the tuna and the olives, brightness of the dressing, crunch from the green beans. It all seems to come together perfectly in the last couple of bites when everything has sort of blended together.

I can't resist finishing a meal with dessert and the raspberries from the farmer's market were screaming out to me, as was the last of the vanilla ice-cream from the freezer. Simply and easy with a little chocolate expression from the Dolfin Chocolat au Lait au Hot Masala.



More Infusions: Wasabi & Persian Cucumber


I have been threatening and thinking for a long time to buy some fresh wasabi root. Yes, it's amazing to have freshly grated wasahi root with sushi, but my true motivation was to make fresh wasabi infused gin. I have found the real wasabi root at the Japanese specialty market, Sunrise Mart (on Broome Street). While I was picking up the wasabi, I also found Persian cucumbers, so I ended up making two infusions.

Simply trim the wasabi root, cut up thin slices, and add to a glass of gin at room temperature for a couple of days. I consistently use Plymouth gin for infusions and cocktails in general for its classic, clean flavors. The longer you infuse the gin, the hot it will be.

For the Persian cucumber infusion, wash the cucumber, cut it up, and add it to the gin. Similarly, let the gin sit at room temperature for a few days and you will see the gin turn slightly cucumber green.

I tested out a few cocktails made with a dry sake, but my favorite was a blend of the two gins and a measure of sake. Stirred over ice, strained, and served straight up with a Persian cucumber garnish. It's clean, crisp, with a slight heat from the wasabi. Another great pairing for sushi.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Out & About in NYC

I have been taking more pictures of my continued exploration of the city.

Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge


Sushi Bathroom


PJ Clarke Bathroom


McCarren Park Pool


Dumbo Brooklyn


Union Square - Birds Flying


Dumbo Brooklyn


Dumbo Brooklyn


Dumbo Brooklyn


Shopping


Lower East Side

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Grilled Pizza on a Grill Pan

While walking home from having a drink at La Bottega at the Maritime Hotel on a sunny evening this week, I decided to make grilled pizza. I purchased the dough from my local pizza joint (for $3) on my way home and ended up making two pizzas: one savory, one sweet.

For the savory pizza, I used a piece of dough about the size of a fist. I pre-heated a grill pan on the stove top on medium-high heat. With flour, I spread it out into somewhat of a pizza shape and brushed one side with olive oil. Gently put the pizza on the grilled pan with the oil side down and brush the top side with olive oil. When the crust is done on the first side (check by sneaking a peak at the underside), flip the pizza crust over.

When the crust is lovely and crispy on both sides, pull it off the grill pan, and add whatever toppings you decide. I had pounded a chicken breast to about 1/3 inch thickness and quickly cooked it with simple olive oil, salt (Maldon's of course), and pepper. I sliced the chicken, julienned some fresh basil, grated fresh parmigniano reggiano, and drizzled on some more peppery olive oil. What a simple, fantastic dinner, just amazing.

Wine pairing? Italian of course, since it was pizza night. I paired this with the Sella 2006 Coste delle Sesia Orbello which is a interesting blend of Barbera, Nebbiolo, Cabernet Franc, Vespolina. The wine is almost burgundian in style with berries, herbs, mushrooms, and a bright breath of acidity to finish. The perfect match at $15.99.

After all this, I thought I was done and had already put the remaining dough in the freezer for future pizzas. Well, my sweet tooth bettered me and I made round two with Nutella, another of my chocolate weaknesses. This time I used both flour and sugar to spread out the dough which caused the dough to crisp up and char much quick on the grill pan, but no matter because the taste was out of this world. Crispy, caramelly, chocolatey, hazlenutty goodness. What a way to finish the meal with the last glass of red wine.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

July 4th Food & Fireworks

Some non-traditional July 4th holiday fare (hummus, tabbouleh, guacamole, homemade flour tortilla chips, summer rolls with shrimp).



Followed by great fireworks.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Curried Chicken Salad


Sometimes a store bought roasted chicken is just too dried out - my favorite solution: chicken salad. What makes the chicken salad even tastier is making it a curried chicken salad.
- chicken chunks
- spring onion
- mayonnaise (enough to make the salad creamy)
- mustard (heaped teaspoon)
- sriracha (to taste)
- mild curry powder (several sprinkles)
- chili powder (just a sprinkle)

I love how the simple roasted chicken just soaks up the creamy flavors of the mayonnaise, the spice of the sriracha and chili powder, the twang of the curry powder. In fact, I think it's lunch time.

Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote - A New Dining Style for NY


Last night I met up with friends at Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote on Lexington Avenue at 52nd Street. This is french bistro dining taken to the simplest form - the waitress arrives at your table and presents you with four options (blue, rare, medium, well done). Don't bother asking for your steak cooked medium-rare as one of my dining companions did - this just means you weren't listening to the waitress. You are able to select wine from a small wine list that follows a similar form to the whole theme. We tried the house bottle of bordeaux for $19.99.

Once you have placed your order you'll get a simple salad dressed in a wonderful tart mustard vinaigrette with walnuts followed by steak frites cooked per your request. The steak arrives covered in a secret sauce which is a well done enhancement to both the steak and the fries. The steak was not the steak I have had, the sauce not the most mind-boggling, the fries alone won't blow your mind, and the wine is what you would expect for $19.99. But here's the interesting thing, it all works really well. I love this place for its simplicity. Everyone's writing about recession specials, but for $48 (including a generous tip) I had salad, steak frites, a couple of glasses of wine, a shared portion of profiteroles, and a glass of dessert wine. The only question I have is why did they open on 52nd and Lex and not closer to my apartment?

A little background on the restaurant: New York is not the first stop for owner Paul Gineste de Saurs. He started in Porte Maillot with the sole intention of creating a market for his family's wines (Chateau de Saurs) from South West France. Not having a restaurant background, he wanted to start by keeping the menu simple. What is more simple and french than salad and steak frites. I just love the simplicity of this place - drink our wine, eat what we tell you.

Iced Coffee - A New Addict


I recently tried making a cold brewed iced coffee using a NY Times recipe which I linked to from a friend's Tweet (winenutnyc). Cold brewed ice coffee is just a wonderful rich, smooth, deep, rounded drink. It has all the essential flavors of the coffee.

I have also taken this a step further and started
creating ice with the cold brewed coffee. This creates a whole new level of richness and depth as the melted ice actually enhances the flavor of the iced coffee rather than diluting it.

Take a whiff of the coffee while it is cold brewing - it smells like the true essence of coffee - pure coffee heaven.

Recipe:

- 1/3 cup ground coffee (medium-coarse grind is best)
- 1 1/2 cups of filtered water

In a jar/pot, stir together ground coffee and the water. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight or 12 hours.
Strain twice through a coffee filter, a fine-mesh sieve, or a sieve lined with cheesecloth. In a tall glass filled with ice, mix equal parts coffee concentrate and water, or to taste. If desired, add milk.
Yield
: Two drinks.