June 30, 2009

New Favorite

I whipped up this recipe, Chicken in Creamy Chive Sauce, last week when the BF came over for dinner. All you need: chicken breasts, white wine, dijon mustard, chicken broth, light sour cream, shallots, and chives. Thaaaat's pretty much it. I had everything but the chives already in-house, making it the perfect Recession Recipe! The sauce is crack-tastic, and it's actually considered a 'healthy' recipe--I found it in an email from my EatingWell newsletter.

The BF whipped up HIS jaw-droppingly delicious chive-garlic butter to go on our whole wheat rolls (courtesy of FreshDirect!). This butter is beyond scrumptious. Apply a thin layer to your toast before plopping your eggs onto it and watch your breakfast's taste quotient skyrocket. I had better check with him before I give away his recipe, but feel free to try making something similar on your own--your taste buds will thank you. Just a tablespoon or two of herbs can elevate ordinary butter into an extraordinary treat.

I served this with some steamed broccoli, quinoa (I placed the chicken on top of the quinoa) and whole wheat rolls, but you could partner it with countless other sides.
Everything about this meal is simple and easy (except maybe, if you live in my neighborhood, finding fresh freaking chives!) You can have dinner on the table in a quick 25 minutes, and trust me, it's well worth trying. The chicken comes out soooo juicy and tender, and the minimal amount of Dijon gives just enough kick to the sauce without being overpowering. I suppose if you wanted to make the sauce thicker you could add more flour and sour cream, but I liked it as is, with a more broth-like appearance. In an effort to exercise portion control (and to make room for dessert, the chocolate molten cakes that are now one of my best dishes) I ate half my chicken that night and saved the other half for the next day's lunch (when the flavors in the sauce had infinitely multiplied in the most delicious way).

June 29, 2009

On a Whym

One of my favorite restaurants (and the site of the BF's & my first date) is Whym. It's owned by the same people who run Eatery but frankly, I prefer it much more. Eatery always stood out to me as a bit overpriced and overrated. Whym has rarely let me down in the food department. Their sirloin burger is one of their best items, but you'd better be hungry! They also make a fabulous molten chocolate cake (yes, it stands out from the 5,000 other ones in NYC and elsewhere). Their mixed drinks are often hit or miss with me, but I did well in my most recent outing.

My fabulous friend Brad took me out for dinner last week on a brief business trip to NYC. He lives in Texas, so I knew not to bring him anywhere Mexican : ) But Whym? It seemed just perfect for both of us.

We decided to feast like kings and order drinks, apps, entrées AND desserts. Oof.

First up: the chicken wraps with plum sauce in lettuce cups. The menu mentioned a wasabi drizzle, which immediately grabbed my attention. These were quite tasty, but the wasabi drizzle tasted more like cilantro than fiery, fabulous wasabi. Still, we gobbled them right up (I'd also not had time for lunch, so I was doubly hungry by now!) Also-I apologize for the orange-y tint to the photos--I don't use my flash when I'm in a restaurant--I do have standards!

My drink was the mojito martini. It was a minty mojito-type concoction made with tequila instead of rum. Deeeelicious. Not too sweet, perfectly minty, and maybe just a little too easy to drink! Not as bright and refreshing as a true mojito, but definitely worth trying.

B ordered my very favorite dish there: Chipotle-spiked Meatloaf over Vermont Cheddar mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach with a creamy double-smoked bacon-mushroom gravy. It might not be the most appetizing-looking dish, but let me tell you...it melts in your mouth and yeah, maybe goes right to your hips, but it tastes so good you just don't care.

Since B ordered the mainstay, I decided to go out on a limb and try something new. Nothing ventured, nothing...gained?
I opted for the Grilled Angus Hanger Steak with buttermilk-scallion mashed potatoes, fried yellow tomatoes, and a sprinkling of crispy shallots (yum) and balsamic glaze. Good points first: the fried tomatoes were delicious and juicy, with a crispy, unobtrusive coating. The crispy shallots were addictively tasty. The hanger steak?? Granted, it's not my go-to cut to begin with, but I found this particular serving a bit too tough and fatty. I was ravenous, so I ate most of it, but at times I had to ignore the unpleasant textures. I ordered it medium, but I recently read you shouldn't get it cooked past medium-rare or it does begin to get too tough. Overall, not my favorite dish; I wouldn't recommend it and I won't order it again.

Despite the inordinate amount of food we'd consumed, we decided to EACH order our own dessert (culinary madness, I tell you!) I told B that he had to get the chocolate molten cake with vanilla gelato. It's the BF's and my favorite there. The cake is intensely chocolate, and rich enough for two to split quite happily. Which we did. But we also ordered.....

the S'mores-Wich: a sugar-tastic combo of chocolate ganache, marshmallows, and graham cracker crust/layers. It was also wickedly, whymsically delicious. And far too much food. We tried our best, but we couldn't polish off our desserts. We did enough damage though (to our plates AND our waistlines). B was quite thrilled with his meal. We also had a great time laughing. I think our waiter might have wondered if we'd had drinks before we came, as we laughed so hard so often. Isn't that the best? It had been years since I'd seen B, though we talk on the phone and via email, but that's not the same as doing your best Grey Gardens reference and watching your friend try not to laugh so hard his mashed potatoes come out his nose. My career might be a bit stalled right now, the economy might be the worst in my memory, but life? Life is good.

889 9th Ave # 1
New York, NY 10019
(212) 315-0088

June 25, 2009

Sushi...and something new!

The BF and I went to another couple's house for dinner last week (yes, I'm deplorably behind on my posting!) There is a fabulous story behind meeting them. I booked W for an interview at my job back in May. As I walked her outside after the show, we found out we had 'met' once before, a year and a half ago, as we sat next to each other in a restaurant. We'd had this very memorable discussion about Chilean sea bass (and how it's neither from Chile NOR is it 'sea bass') and then, almost 18 months later, our paths crossed again! Awesome. One more reason I freaking love this huge/tiny city. W invited the BF & me to her apartment so we could meet her husband, J, and join them for dinner, and we made plans to do that the week we got back from vacation (was I really just on vacation a mere 3 weekends ago? Sigh).

They set a lovely and welcoming table for us: I adore this place setting. My friend Jenezuela has bowls similar to this, but I have never seen serving platters, etc. J told me he got them at Pearl River, a humongous store in Chinatown. I think that's where Jen got hers, too! I thought the plates with their slightly-upturned corners were just lovely. I'm saying 'lovely' too much. But it works. My fabulous BF mentioned during dinner that I take pictures of my food and blog about it. At first I wanted to faint from embarrassment, but what can you do? It's true! That's me! J jumped up from the table and retrieved his camera so I could take these shots. Otherwise I would have behaved myself and eaten like a normal person, sans camera. :)

The food came from nearby Aki Sushi on West 52nd Street, and I thought it was quite scrumptious. It was remarkably fresh. I don't know EVERYTHING about sushi, but I do know this.. if it tastes or smells 'fishy,' you're in for a world of hurt! This was fresh and clean-tasting and so delicious. The rice was light and fluffy, not heavy and dense. Reveling in the experience of dining with new acquaintances, I even tried something new! Something slightly daunting! I tried actual pieces of fish...raw! Not tiny dices surrounded by cream cheese, avocado and/or crabmeat, but a sliver of salmon atop a bed of rice. I know it might sound strange: I've eaten horse tongue in Russia, Gawdknowswhat in Venezuela, and yet in NYC, a slice of raw fish makes me hesitate. I decided that it was a night to be 'adventurous' (feel free to snicker, I deserve it), and I tried a slice of the salmon. It. was. FABULOUS! Not scary or slimy at all! I will definitely order that again...once I figure out what it's called. ;)

We also had a great time with the couple. They've been to Montréal, too, so we talked a lot about our vacation, and it turns out we almost followed their path when THEY went to Canada and came back down through Vermont. Life is funny!

J & W, thank you mightily for your hospitality and your company!!

June 22, 2009

Cheap & Tasty

I had Kelli over for another pork tenderloin dinner. I used this recipe, but took some of my own liberties, of course. ;) Holly, I hope you enjoy the PBS connection!

I cooked the tenderloin on the stovetop, as per the recipe, but I'm not sure I like that method. I think I prefer the stovetop searing followed by about 20 minutes in the oven at around 350. It could be that this loin was a bit smaller than normal, but it usually comes out much juicier. I served it with steamed broccoli (with grated Velveeta on top, one of Kelli's favorites) and mushrooms sautéed in olive oil with a dash of salt & pepper.

We also had guac (made by Kel) and chips as our appetizer. Sort of an eclectic mix of foods, but tasty nonetheless. And hey, recession recipes are all about using whatever's handy and delicious. The avocados, which were on sale at FreshDirect.com(as well as the meat and vegetables--great sale this week!), were about to go bad. Total cost for this meal (and I have leftovers)?

Meat: 4.11
Broccoli: 1.50 a bunch
Mushrooms: 0.96 cents
Avocados: 3.50
Cilantro: 0.99 cents
Tomatoes: 2.00

Total: 13.06
(the chips were leftover from a party, and the other ingredients (garlic, sour cream, mustard) have been in my fridge for a while, so didn't cost anything out of pocket this go-round.

Happy Eating!

June 21, 2009

Bouchon Bakery

My friend Kelli brought some sweet surprises up to my apartment today: a cream puff just for me, and a cookie to share. They were from Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery, housed on the third floor of the Time Warner Center in Manhattan. I have never made it past the 2nd floor (which houses Sephora and Borders). But I digress...back to the good stuff. I started with the cream puff. It wasn't until I sliced into the cream puff that we realized it had blueberries inside, too. Kelli's not a huge fan of blueberries, so she didn't split it with me. The cream puff was quite big.. I only ate half of it, and put the other half of it in the fridge for later. I make a pretty mean cream puff pastry, so I'm already tough to impress. Still, I thought the shell itself was just okay, but the blueberry filling was delicious: just like a slice of fresh, summery blueberry pie. The cream puff filling was light and not overly sweet, but not super flavorful, either. I would have liked maybe some stronger vanilla or almond flavoring in that part. I suspect it might have been a mild Chantilly cream.

THIS was the real winner, though. Kelli bought one of their peanut butter cookies with peanut butter filling. This was spot on. The cookie had a touch of salt, the creamy filling was perfect. It was light and fluffy, but not greasy, and oh-so-delicious. We kept picking off little pieces at a time, but in a matter of minutes, there was nothing left. YUM.

Summary: the cream puff is a looker, but if you want melt in your mouth yumminess, grab the peanut butter cookie. It's big enough to share without feeling like you're missing out on deliciousness.

PS: I just realized the OTHER half of my cream puff is still in the fridge, days later. I don't normally forget about leftover desserts! THAT'S how much better the peanut butter cookie is!!

Bouchon Bakery
Time Warner Center
10 Columbus Circle 3rd floor
New York, NY 10019

June 16, 2009

O, Canada....

My awesome BF and I took a trip last week to Montréal, Québec City, and Stowe, Vermont. While we were in Montréal, I passed up several opportunities to have poutine, the national dish of French-Canadians. It's basically french fries topped with fresh cheese curds, then doused in piping hot brown gravy (all the better to melt said curds). Quite frankly, the phrase 'cheese curds' just gave me the willies. I mean "Curd?" Really? Could there be a less-appetizing word in the food dictionary? Besides sweetbreads, I mean.

The BF was the brave one in this instance. When we stopped for lunch in Québec City, BF saw it on the menu. I explained to him what poutine was and how the curds kind of skeeved me out, and he gallantly offered to order some and share it with me. He's nice like that. ;) It turns out that poutine is actually quite delicious--between the two of us, we cleaned the plate!

Back in Montréal we hit a 'must-see' spot (recommended by family and guide books) known as Schwartz's deli. We made it about halfway through the 5-mile hike (mostly uphill) from our hotel before surrendering and taking a cab (another excuse for me to speak French!!) It's a small, unimposing place, comprised of collapsible tables and barstools and a scarily no-frills display of the wares. The floors were dirty and a little slippery, and the decor is rustic at best, but it's also covered with photos of celebs and rave write-ups, so I decided the slick floor just added to the character. Their meat is pretty tasty, though, and not expensive at all. I had the smoked meat sandwich (smoked meat is one of the things Montreal is known for) on its own with a black cherry cola (apparently a tradition there). The soda was fan-freaking-tastic, and the sandwich was pretty darn good. Please note the fattiness of the meat I'm holding in my hand (photo below, left). You can order your meat lean or with a 'leetle fat.' I requested the 'leetle' bit. I would normally NEVER eat something that fatty (yeah, I'm one of 'those' people). I usually cut the fat off my steak, won't eat the fatty part of chicken, etc. I can't stand the texture--it triggers my powerful gag reflex. In this instance, however, it was delicious. The seasonings and the flavor were smooth and super-savory--there was nothing rubbery or chewy about it. BF had the mixed platter, which came with about a pound of meat and a pile o' bread for making your own sammiches. The write-ups I read compared the meat to pastrami, but I thought it was less stringy and more seasoned. I wouldn't say AMAZING, but it was very good. I would recommend you visit this place for lunch, though, and not the 10pm dinner we had. I had some serious heartburn when I tried to go to sleep about an hour later!

More Canadian (and Yankee) posts to come! Au revoir!

Schwartz's Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen
3895 Saint-Laurent boulevard
Montreal, H2W 1X9, Canada
(514) 842-4813

June 06, 2009


I met Halcyon and her DH Friday night in the city. We met for a beer at BXL, but opted for another spot for dinner. We trekked over to the east side for Momofuku (which the interwebs tell me means a) "lucky peach" and b) is the name for the man who invented the instant Ramen noodle. So say the Interwebs. I'd been to Momofuku Ssam, which was around the corner, but I hadn't been to this location. It's shared tables, so you never know who you'll sit next to at the table, which I think makes it kind of more fun. Of course, if you're not in the mood for that, you can also grab a seat at the bar. They don't take reservations, but even on a busy Friday night, we only waited about 10 minutes for our seats.

Halcyon's DH treated us to a bottle of Momofuku's house sake. They are both used to drinking it warm, which I've never done. However, Momofuku serves all their sake cold. We got the "Spring Snow" bottle, and I thought it was quite delicious! I've not tried a lot of sake, and I am not well-educated about them at all, but I thought this one was smooth, a little bit sweet, and quite tasty overall.

For my appetizer, I got the famous steamed pork buns. Holy Toledo, if you go, you gotta eat these buns. Even someone like me, who's usually skeeved out by visible fat on meat, can't resist the melt-in-your-mouth yumminess. The pickled cucumber and the freshly sliced scallion are an excellent complement to the fatty, salty meat. I dotted it with a few drops of sriracha sauce for some extra kick, but these buns hold their own as is, too.

Halcyon's DH ordered the crispy pig's ear, which came with a spicy/sweet dipping sauce, also dotted with scallions. I tried a piece or two, and it was actually quite tasty. I tried not to remember all the times we'd give crackly pig's ears to my mom's dog, the Late Great Fifi Marie. I guess I'd have to agree with the dog, though--they're delicious.

I am not normally one to seek out Ramen, but the description of the House ramen roped me in: pork belly, pork shoulder, and a poached egg: the Trifecta! My dish came out piping hot, with the MOST PERFECTLY POACHED egg quivering in the middle of the bowl. I almost hated to eat it. Many a time I've ordered 'poached' eggs only to get a heavy, over-boiled yolk. Not this time. It was pitch-perfect. Salty, brothy, savory, melty, I was happy all over. Had I been dining alone, I probably would have picked up the bowl and slurped the leftovers, but I maintained some sense of decorum. This time. ;)

Halcyon is a vegetarian, so she steered clear of pork and instead got a Ginger-Scallion ramen. I think she liked her dish, too. I hope so!

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