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Friday, May 28, 2010

Fat Kid Friday: Birthday Edition (mega post)

This annoying little thing called work has been interfering with my posting frequency. Harumph.

To catch up a little bit, I thought I'd combine a few events into one mega post...the birthday edition.

First up, the celebratory dinner for my beloved Shukmei's birthday:

Stuffed chicken breast, zesty cocktail meatballs and creamed spinach.

The stuffed chicken breast recipe was pretty elementary. I pounded a chicken breast, filled it with stuffing (corn bread, in this instance), rolled it up and secured it with a toothpick, covered with a sour cream-based sauce and baked at 375 degrees for a little over an hour (more or less depending on your stove strength).

I shall never give up my recipe for my basic meatballs, but the marinade I put atop them (at the behest of Shuky's bf Frank) is as simple as ketchup, cayenne, hot sauce and grape jelly. I'd like to take this time to remind y'all that I grew up south of the mason-dixon - therefore, I have a special fondness for trash-tastic grub upon occasion.

The creamed spinach was a bit of a let down. I used this recipe from Emeril, but I have to say it fell short. I was later told by one of my clients that the key is to use a little duck or chicken fat.

Nonetheless, I think Shuky was pleased.

Next up, we have a Red Velvet Cake (buttercream frosting, not cream cheese) made for Arie's birthday:

As you can see, I don't have a future in cake calligraphy.

It was accompanied by dill cole slaw, (faux) crab cakes and buffalo wings.

And finally, today is my baby Cannoli's 12th birthday. She is a sprightly, beautiful l'il thing, with a voracious appetite (for both life and food).


I made her a lamb roast (didn't photograph so well, but I prepared it in traditional fashion with mint, lemon, cumin, coriander, garlic and cayenne). She ate two hearty plates, could have eaten more . I also made some greek-style taboule, made hellenic by including some cucumber and feta.

In lieu of cake, she partook in baklawa (from the amazing Damascus Bakery on Atlantic Ave) and ice cream. I know dogs aren't supposed to eat dairy - luckily, she has no idea she is one.

Also, tomorrow is my friend Rie's birthday, so I'd like to wish her a happy one. Rie and I once attempted (and failed) to make a cheesecake in our dorm room in Chinatown many moons ago. We ended up just eating the cream cheese and sugar from the tub. It ain't called fat kid friday for nothin'... :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Miss USA is Arab - so I made baba ganoush

Baba ganoush is one of the five best things ever created (can you guess the other four?). Eggplant! Tahina! Garlic! Lemon! More!

It's so easy to make and pretty healthy (as long as you don't put mayonnaise in it...which people do...and it makes me cry).


My recipe...

Ingredients:

1 large eggplant
1-2 cloves of chopped garlic
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup of lemon juice
pinch of salt
pinch of cumin
parsley (both dried to be mixed in and fresh for garnish)
olive oil (to be drizzled atop)

Directions:

Fork eggplant all over.
Roast in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Allow to cool. Peel skin off eggplant and scoop out insides.
Puree eggplant in food processor.
In bowl, mix eggplant puree and rest of ingredients.
Serve warm or at room temperate, drizzle olive oil atop.


Remember, kids - if you eat your baba ganoush, you'll grow up to look like this*:

*or at least that's what I tell myself in between bites.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Fat Kid Friday: Move over, Pulino's!

It's been a long time, I shouldn't have left you, without some tasty treats to get fat to... :)

Pulino's breakfast pizza (as tweeted by Adam Platt):


My breakfast pizza (consumed for dinner):


In ridiculous BK quasi hipster fashion, I used veggie bacon instead of the real stuff. Basic pizza dough (slightly misshapen, don't judge me)...ricotta salata, parmesan and feta, tomato basil sauce and a baked egg on top. Beat that, McNally. Ha.

It's good to be back :) Stay tuned..time to play catch-up.

Monday, March 1, 2010

There's a reason I stopped being a vegetarian. And it says baaah baaah.

From the ages of about 9-19, I was a vegetarian. It wasn't for ethical reasons, instead my conversion was prompted by a bad fast food experience that ended with me in the hospital for about a week. Not fun. What lured me back to the other side? Lamb.

I could never eat beef again. Veal is delicious, but I suppose I could stop eating the succulent, succulent babies. I would miss chicken occasionally, but if I had to do without, I would. I don't like the swine, so bye-bye piggy. But lamb? There's nothing tastier than lamb when properly prepared.

But there's also nothing worse than lamb when it's poorly prepared. I'm not a big fan of rosemary on my lamb, I believe lamb should almost always be made with mint. In fact, I've never actually had lamb prepared in an Italian tradition that I've enjoyed. To my boyfriend, I likened Italians and lamb to Egyptians and pizza (when we were in Egypt, we ate the (allegedly) "best pizza" Cairo had to offer - chicken, bbq sauce and cheddar cheese on something resembling white bread) - inept! This declaration may cause controversy, but lamb is a pungent meat with a very strong flavor, you need equally powerful seasonings like mint, cumin, coriander, etc. to temper it.

Needless to say, when I'm craving a burger, 9 times out of 10, I'll go with ground lamb. I season the meat with torn fresh mint leaves, cumin, coriander, dill, salt, pepper, hot sauce (unabashed about my love) and garlic. I then mix with breadcrumbs and egg. Instead of putting cheese on top while they're on the grill, I like to crumble feta (another flavor strong enough to compete with the lamb) into the mixture, as well.

See the mint leaf in the one on the right? Yummmm.

The biggest complaint anybody could have about lamb is that it's fatty, but much of that problem can be rectified with the help of a Lean Mean Grilling machine (no shame).

I slathered the inside of a pita with mouhammara before I used it to tastily encase the burger.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

I can eat sweets today - (no bake) lemon chiffon cheesecake

Today was a good day. I rose, took a walk with my dog, Cannoli, to grab a large, large latte and explored the area of Crown Heights nearest to Lefferts Gardens. Although it appeared to be a bit of a culinary wasteland, I wondered past a few West Indian fruit and vegetable stands in hopes of finding something seasonal to pique my interest. A meyer lemon, perhaps. Alas, no desired citrus could be found, so I retreated back to my apartment with a taste for something lemon-y to top off a relaxing weekend. My house guests reminded me that I promised some cheesecake glory yesterday and who am I to deny them?

I make a really good, easy key lime pie. It may not be authentic, but if you aren't in key west and you aren't entertaining gourmands, it's delightful. I think it began with a recipe from a Betty Crocker cookbook my mother sent me while I was in college and evolved along the way. Using my key lime pie as an inspiration, I whipped up a lemon chiffon cheesecake.


It gives the feeling of a meringue, but without actual meringue. You definitely taste cheesecake, but it's not so dense and overwhelming that you can't go back for seconds...or thirds. It shall be the death of your diet.

All you need: 1 package of (softened) cream cheese, one 8 oz container of lemon yogurt, 1/4 cup of cold milk, 1/4 (to 1/2) cup of lemon juice and about 1 cup of Cool Whip.

Mix the cream cheese and yogurt (save for two tablespoons) together with 1/4 cup of the cool whip. Gradually add in the milk and lemon juice to taste. Blend away. Place filling in your pie crust (I trust you know how to make or buy a graham cracker crust). Mix remaining Cool Whip with remaining lemon juice and saved lemon yogurt. Spoon over cheesecake mixture. Cover and refrigerate for about 3 hours or however long you can control your anticipation.

Dig in.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Fat Kid Friday: Eat your heart out, McD's Filet o' Fish.

Even as a child, the item I enjoyed the most on the McDonald's menu was the Filet o' Fish sandwich. I often lamented that you couldn't get one in a happy meal. Of course, because it's lent, Mickey D's is offering the tasty little bastards for 2/$2. As you may have noticed, it was the snowpocolypse outside today, so there was no chance I was going to trek to go get one, or the offer for two...or four.

Instead, I decided to do my own semi-tropical take the beloved filet.

Fast food is all about special, secret, super-duper sauces, right? I started to think about flavors I enjoy with fish. I like spice, I like lemon, I like things mayonnaise based. I mixed mayo with plenty of hot sauce, a dollop of ketchup, a squirt of lemon and a healthy sprinkle of Goya con azafron. Then, I chopped up a mango into thin slices.

I just purchased a nice, fresh demi-baguette of seeded Italian bread. While baking breaded whitefish in the oven for about 20 minutes, I sliced it and slathered my secret sauce on both sides. I laid down a base of mango. When the fish was ready, put it atop the mango, covered it with MORE sauce and it was ready to mangia.


Spicy, sweet, creamy and crunchy. I might just have another...now. If only I could get that McD's french fry recipe right...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Fat Kid Friday: Egg rolls that look like hot pockets + a (healthy!) Lenten delight

Since it's Lent and I can't eat meat on Fridays, nor can I have my beloved sweets, Fat Kid Friday has become a little trickier. No s'mores can be had, no cakes can be baked, no juicy lamb burgers can be grilled. What to do...what to do...

Inspired by the phyllo dough in my freezer and my newfound love and appreciation for fake crab (I'm allergic, remember, I would do the real thing if I could), I decided to fashion makeshift oven-baked egg rolls. Very Rachael Ray of me.

In my head, it seemed like it would be an easy task. In actuality, I don't appear to have a future in Asian fusion cuisine.

I took out the phyllo dough. I unrolled it. I brushed a layer with butter. Added another layer, then more butter. I repeated this about six times until I had a phyllo base that seemed sturdy. For the filling, I mixed imitation crab with shredded cabbage and carrots, low sodium soy sauce, oriental 5 spice and a little red wine vinegar. I placed a hearty spoon-full in the middle of my phyllo and rolled it up into a cigar shape. I repeated this process several more times, placing the rolls on a baking dish and brushing them one last time with even more butter. After preheating the oven to 350 degrees, I put 'em in and baked the suckers for about 35 minutes, until golden brown. When they went in, they looked like a reasonable facsimile of an egg roll...

...when they came out, they looked like hot pockets. Served with a little sweet & sour sauce, they did manage to taste somewhat like egg rolls.


To round out the meal (and make amends to my arteries), I also made this Stir-fried Tofu with Red Cabbage and Winter Squash from the NY Times. It behaved and turned out the way I wanted it to.

Some changes to the recipe - no corn starch for the sauce; no peanut or canola oil, only sesame; red wine vinegar instead of rice wine and more ginger, a lot more. I also cut down the proportions to feed about two...or just me. This former fat kid always ate her veggies :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mardi Gras in Boerum Hill/ Lent begins...and of course I want steak or fried chicken

Here's a guest blog from "Monktapus," who partook in the Mardi Gras festivities on Tuesday...

Stan's Place, 411 Atlantic Avenue

Let me begin this by saying that I am admittedly a New Orleans groupie. I have always been fascinated by the distinctive blend of cultures that penetrate the music, architecture, and cuisine of the 504. From creole and crawfish, to Cash Money and French Colonial, my love affair with the Crescent City is unrivaled.

That being said, I have actually only stepped foot in the city for a brief birthday weekend (post-Katrina, if you’re wondering). Upon the recommendation of a native, I decided to check out Stan’s Place in Bourem Hill for Mardi Gras. Needless to say, a night involving a crawfish boil and live brass band is bound to arouse a little excitement in me.

I went into Stan’s knowing little to nothing about the elements of the cuisine of the Crescent. Hell, I didn’t even know how to break open a crawfish. As a matter of fact, I’m still learning.

But I did leave with a basic understanding of the foundation of N’awlins cooking. That is thanks to the restaurant’s proprietor Stan, who broke it down for me. According to Stan, the basis for most New Orleans/Cajun/Creole dishes involves the “Trinity” of celery, pepper, and garlic.

Browsing the specials menu, I ordered a lb. of boiled crawfish and an order of the boudain balls, basically deep fried sausage and rice balls (mmm…). Actually their consistency reminded me much of my aunt’s legendary rice balls. Crispy on the outside, yet tender and moist on the inside.

These particular balls were spiced with a house Cajun seasoning, and filled with andouille sausage, white rice, okra, and the “trinity.” They were served on a bed of lettuce with grilled onions, a perfect complement. Being the Sultan of Swine that I am, I ferociously ate up the boudain balls with heavy intent.

The crawfish was somewhat of a slower process. Unsure of just how to de-shell and eat these magnificent creatures, I enlisted the help of the bartender, manager and owner. I was rather embarrassed, but I figured I had to learn sometime. Apparently you pull the tail while simultaneously squeezing the body. It sounds easier than it actually is.

A little practice, however, and I was starting to get better. Then there was the question of what to eat and what to leave. My general rule is to leave nothing, so I sucked it all up, guts and all. Stan later informed me that the crawfish were imported that morning from New Orleans.

A pleasant surprise were the chunks of corn on the cob served with the dish. Corn normally bores me to death, much like that dastardly chicken. This corn, however, was so sweet and juicy, I had to inquire about the flavors.

Apparently the crawfish, corn and potatoes are all flashed into a boil consisting of bay leaf, garlic, lemon, peppercorn, cayenne, and a house seasoning. The sweet meat of the crawfish was perfectly contrasted by the fiery boil in which it was cooked. Served on a plate with a sheet of newspaper, this appeared to be as close as I was going to get to authentic N’awlins style crawfish in the County of Kings.

To satiate my thirst, I had a few Abita’s lagers (3 dollars a piece) available on draft, out of a beer cooler. Nice touch. I also tried a Hurricane (5 dollars), which I learned is a combination of dark and silver rum with pineapple and orange juice. While the drink did not seem very strong, it was light and fresh without tasting watered down. The liquor base seemed decent enough.

Still hungry, I ordered a bowl of Chicken and Andouille gumbo. Now, a few weeks back, I had my buddy Devin’s gumbo, which he slaved in front of for over 24 hours (I thought I was obsessive about my Sunday “gravy”). Stan’s gumbo had the same darkish brown hue, which I took as a comforting sign given Devin’s LA pedigree for making gumbo.

The gumbo came out hot, but not scorching, with a small heap of rice and scallions in the middle. Floating in the mix was the “trinity”, as well as some delicious okra, The broth (if that’s what its considered) was neither too thick nor too thin. Stan told me quite logically, the longer you cook the Gumbo, the browner it gets. They cook theirs for about 45 minutes.

Overall, my satisfaction was met, and I will definitely be back to try their “famous” brunch, as I am still feenin’ for a good po’ boy. Sunday brunch features different Creole-inspired music from zydeco, to soul and jazz, yet another reason for me to return.

A few words about the band, the Underground Horns. While they were not a brass band in the traditional, funeral-like sense, they were a talented group of musicians that weaved seamlessly through straight-ahead jazz standards, a little Ethiopiques, as well as some traditional New Orleans brass. Check them out at www.myspace.com/undergroundhorns or by the 42nd St. “S” Train.

Ciao for now,

Monktapus of the Blogs

__________________________________

Today is Ash Wednesday, meaning that I can't eat meat today and every Friday until Easter. I also have to give something up. I decided upon my beloved sweets and Dunkin Donuts coffee. In the spirit of meat-free dishes, here's the recipe for my spinach and artichoke dip:



Ingredients:

1 box frozen spinach
1 can artichoke hearts (or a box of frozen)
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 package of low fat cream cheese
1 cup parmesan, provolone and asiago cheese shredded
1 tablespoon dry ranch dressing mix
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of paprika
squirt of lemon juice

Mix everything together in large bowl. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread mixture in a shallow baking dish and bake until lightly brown around the edges.

I fancy this a meal when served with pieces of pita bread or, hell, sun chips...


Monday, February 15, 2010

V-Day (pt 2) dinner - no reservations needed

The boyfriend and I had reservations yesterday, but we didn't quite make it there. The chocolate covered mango was a hit and he brought me amazing chocolates from Bond Street Chocolate in the East Village, so we totally ruined our appetite and didn't end up going. Of course, around 11pm we were ravenous, so I whipped up some Moroccan Chicken with Kumquats (which I picked up at my local Key Food) & Prunes using this recipe.

Some changes: I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken, decreased the amount of onion, added a very liberal amount of cayenne and used Goya sazon con azafran instead of legit saffron (that ish is expensive!). I served it over tri-color couscous.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope that you're spending the day with your boo or besties. I'm giving you a sneak peak of the treats I've prepared for my boyfriend (nobody show him!):

For his graduation from college, my boyfriend's grandmother sent he and his sister to Italy and Amsterdam for a month. While in Amsterdam, they consumed vast quantities of chocolate covered mango (among other things, I'm sure) - they left such an impression on him that he still reminisces almost three years later.

I got the dried mango slices from Sahadi's and I melted the semi-sweet chocolate in my snazzy all-in-one double boiler. I haven't tried them yet (they're still drying), but my money's on them kicking Whitman's ass.

Food Porn (along the F train)

Think I'm the only one in BK cooking up a storm? Wrong! These shots were sent to me by the lovely Katie Martinez, as part of her Super Bowl Sunday extravaganza last week.

Spinach Arancini


Um, yum! Next time, I fully expect to be invited over.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fat Kid Friday: Breakfast for Dinner with Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Truth be told, I'm not such a pancake person. My mother never made them and I can count on one hand the number of times I've eaten pancakes outside. Curiously, all such occasions took place while on road trips in the "south" (which, to my parents, meant Virginia Beach - any further and you might as well call the klan and announce your coordinates! or something like that).

Anyway, earlier this week I looked in the fridge and realized a had a tub of ricotta that I needed to use ASAP, lest it go to waste. My first inclination was to make a Lemon-Ricotta cheesecake, which certainly would have been chub-tastic, but then I stumbled upon Bobby Flay's recipe for Lemon Ricotta Pancakes. It spoke to me. It said...you're somewhat less of a fat ass if you eat me instead of a giant cheesecake.

Who am I to argue?


Pretty freakin' good. I made a few changes to Bobby's recipe. 1 - I used whole wheat flour. Not bad, but next time I'd use half whole wheat, half pastry, me thinks. 2 - no berries or lemon curd. I spaced out when grocery shopping. I did, however, top them with a generous serving of maple syrup, butter and sugar.

There are probably three left and writing about them makes me want to raid the fridge RIGHT NOW. Must. Ward. Off. Impending. Obesity.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sometimes you've got to suck it up and admit defeat

Occasionally a recipe doesn't go quite as I planned. But because my mother raised me to never, ever, ever let food go to waste, I'm still forced to stomach my own failures.

Maybe I'm being a little harsh. The butternut squash chowder wasn't THAT bad, but it certainly wasn't the glorious concoction I envisioned. It was saved by hot sauce. Hot sauce solves all the world's problems.

The recipe that I used this time (lacking in oomph pre-hot sauce):

1.5 pounds butternut squash, peeled and chopped.
1/4 cup onion diced
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup frozen corn
16 oz can chicken broth
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/8 tablespoon cinnamon
2 cups 2% milk.
2 generous dashes hot sauce.

Bring quart of water to a boil, add squash. Cook until tender, then drain and puree. In pot, cook onion and flour in butter. Add squash and all other ingredients except for milk. Bring to boil. Add milk and reduce heat, cook for ten minutes (do not boil). Add hot sauce, more hot sauce, more!

Hey, at least Cannoli liked it.

The recipe that I'll use next time:

1.5 pounds butternut squash, peeled and chopped.
1/4 cup onion diced
16 oz can chicken broth
2 red potatoes, washed and chopped.
1 cup frozen corn
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/8 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup half and half
hot sauce to taste

Bring quart of water to a boil, add squash. Cook until tender, then drain and puree. Add squash and all other ingredients back into pot, except for cream. Bring to boil and cook until potatoes are tender. Add cream and reduce heat, cook for ten minutes (do not boil). Add hot sauce to taste.

Or does anybody else have any other suggestions on transforming this dish from "eh" "I'mwillingtosellyoumyfirstbornforasecondbowl"?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super Bowl Sunday Squash-Date-Bran Muffins

I have a bit of an obsession with gourds. Those close to me know about my...whispers...pumpkin problem. I will find an excuse to put pumpkin in anything. Pumpkin Penne with Spinach, Pumpkin Eggplant Goat Cheese Lasagna, Pumpkin Risotto, Pumpkin Cheesecake, Pumpkin Pie filling straight out of the can...I almost cried when Dunkin Donuts discontinued the Pumpkin Latte for the year. Yeah, I need an intervention. My strong love of pumpkin extends to other gourds. I've never met a squash I didn't like. This morning I woke up with a craving for pumpkin muffins, but alas, the cupboard was barren. I did, however, have a ton of butternut squash in the fridge that was on sale.

I was reminded of an exchange I had with an Italian chef. I saw him scooping out a butternut squash and asked if there was a butternut squash ravioli or gnocchi special on the menu that night. He replied, "No, it's for the pumpkin ravioli." "There's butternut squash in the pumpkin ravioli?" I asked. "What's the difference between this and pumpkin?" he said, "Zucca is zucca."

Yes! Pumpkin, squash, it's all the same! I boiled and pureed the squash and proceeded to treat it like I would a pumpkin when making muffins. The squash also stood in for egg in this recipe. I don't have anything against eggs at all (what's that old adage? you have eggs, you have a meal), but why not cut down on cholesterol where you can?


The end result was a hearty muffin - manly enough to please any guy prepping for the Super Bowl and therefore not interested in sissy-fied sweet treats, yet just pumpkin-like enough to make zucca-fiends like me happy. Granted, there are no such men at my apartment at the moment and my boyfriend doesn't watch football, but the recipe is still totally appropriate for today.

Squash Date Bran Muffins (makes six muffins)

Ingredients

1/3 pound of butternut squash, peeled and chopped.
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat bran
1/4 cup chopped dates
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/8 cup regular sugar
1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon of baking soda
pinch of salt

Directions

Boil water, add squash and cook until tender, about 10-15 minutes.

Drain squash and puree.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

In bowl, mix pureed squash, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Taste and adjust, a pinch more cinnamon and brown sugar may be needed. It should taste more or less like pumpkin pie filling, just a little less sweet.

To squash mixture, add flour, baking soda, bran, regular sugar, chopped dates, milk and salt. Mix ingredients together, batter should be slightly lumpy when done.

Grease muffin tin or line with paper cups. Fill each cup 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 13-15 minutes until golden brown. Enjoy!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Fat Kid Friday: Takeout Made-In

Since I was a little, Friday has always felt like takeout (or delivery) day. Every Friday, my mom would get off work and then she and I would either go somewhere to pickup food or we'd go to the toy store and then go home and order delivery. My favorite thing to get was spinach stuffed pizza. Or a meatball sub. Or sweet and sour chicken. Or a shawarma and french fries. Yeah, you can see why I was fat kid.

Anyway, today I was having that takeout craving but since I just bought a ton of groceries to survive this apocalyptic blizzard they're predicting for Brooklyn, I felt it would be a waste to order out. I had a taste for Thai, but Udom would have to get my business another night. On the menu? Tom Kha and Thai Noodles and Beef with Peanut Sauce.



Okay, admittedly, I didn't make the Tom Kha from scratch. I bought a can of Amy's Thai Coconut Soup. It was alright. I added a little lime juice and hot sauce to spruce it up. I would have liked more mushroom and tofu and in the future, I'm going to add more veggies and a little brown rice to make it heartier like this ingenious individual. Still, Amy's did the trick for a last minute craving.



My Noodles and Beef were super-simple to make and the recipe follows below. If I'd had rice noodles or soba, I would have used them, but semolina never fails. Next time around, I'll add some green beans and asparagus to give the illusion of healthiness, as well :)

Thai Noodles and Beef with Peanut Sauce (for 2)

Ingredients
4 ounces angel hair (or regular spaghetti, soba, rice noodles, etc.)


Thai Peanut Sauce:

1 cup reduced-sodium beef broth

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1 teaspoon lime juice


Beef:

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon powdered ginger

2 tablespoons garlic

1 medium red bell pepper

1/2 pound lean beef steak, cut into strops

2 eggs


Directions

Cook the noodles until al dente. Drain and transfer to bowl.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sauce ingredients until well blended and bring to a boil. Once the sauce boils, turn heat down to medium and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper, ginger, garlic and beef, cook for about 3 minutes, continuously stirring. Add eggs one at a time and scramble with the rest of the mixture, stirring frequently to not burn. Add 1 cup of the peanut sauce and simmer until the beef is cooked through, about 3 minutes.

Toss remaining peanut sauce with noodles. Serve beef, peppers and eggs over noodles in bowl.


    Enjoy! Stay warm in the snow tonight, Brooklyn.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thin-Kid Thursday?

My friend, the amazing/talented/wonderful Nyjia Jones, is one of the most well-intentioned eaters I know. She's all about organic this, veggie that. For lunch, she crafted this delightful Soy Chick'n, Chickpea and Spinach Salad with a Yogurt-Citrus-Poppyseed Dressing:


But then again, she's also the dastard who reintroduced me to s'mores. A woman cannot live on vegetables alone - she needs marshmallow, too, damnit.


Lily & Fig on Franklin Ave

Lemon Coconut Cupcake - $1.25
Available @ Lily & Fig
727 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238

Definitely not my photography prowess @ work. Thanks, Stephen Cafe.

Coconut meringue frosting, tart lemon curd interior. The cake batter itself is a little bland, but at $1.25, you can't beat it. Definitely worth a visit if you're in the neighborhood. On weekends Lily & Fig sells fresh bread and, if you're lucky, you'll catch them on a day when they have quiche. I'm crossing my fingers that I'll happen upon them on such a day.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Grammy night grub

I like to make award show watching eventful. Good food makes me happy and when I'm happy, I'm less apt to throw something at the TV screen if I disagree. For this year's Grammy awards, I opted to make Faux Crab Cakes and Orange-Almond-Pignoli Couscous.

The faux crab cakes were a bootleg take on my grandma's version. She made stuffing from scratch, then combined lump crab meat, egg and seasoning. I'm almost embarrassed to tell you about my version, but it was a big hit so I'll be brave - 1 box low sodium Stovetop stuffing (*hides*), 3 packages of Chicken of the Sea imitation crab, two eggs, lots of pepper and a dash of lemon and hot sauce. I mixed everything in a large bowl, then fried the cakes in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, about 4 minutes on each side, medium - high heat. I had to use imitation crab because I'm quite allergic to the real stuff, a great source of sorrow and shame when I was growing up in Maryland.

The couscous was a variation on this recipe from Rachael Ray (I like to think of myself as a less chipper, more misanthropic version of her). I added the pignoli nuts and instead of just toasted, plain almonds, I coated them in olive oil and grated parmesan beforehand. I also always add a little honey to my couscous. The dish was simultaneously salty, tangy and a bit sweet. It was better the next day, but even so, it couldn't quell the pain from that Stevie Nicks/Taylor Swift duet.

Thanks again to Stephen Cafe for his superior photography skills. I pay him in sustenance.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

easy like sunday mornin'

Apple Gingerbread Muffins

I prefer to make things from scratch, but sometimes I do defer to Betty Crocker. I took box of gingerbread cake mix and decided to make muffins, using applesauce instead of egg. 1/4 of a cup of applesauce can be used to substitute for 1 egg.

Last week, I used applesauce in lieu of butter in chocolate chip cookies and although they were yummy, they also more closely resembled a cake than a cookie. Consistency-wise the substitution works better with muffins.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Frankies Spuntino - meatball king?

After reading Joe DiStefano's recap of the meatball smack-down in BK, I decided I had to try the winning balls at Frankies Spuntino in Carroll Gardens. I decided to make it a date night with the bf, as well.

At around 8pm on a Sunday night, business was good, but not bustling. We waited five minutes to be seated at the bar. If we had waited another five, I'm sure we would have gotten a table.

We started out with roasted eggplant crostini ($3). Just one. I expected at least two, but in all fairness, they menu didn't denote multiples - I incorrectly assumed. It was a little greasy for my taste, but still very good. The bf had no complaints, as he would probably pour a bottle of olive oil down his throat every morning if it were economically feasible.

Main dishes came out relatively quickly, we hadn't even finished our single crostini yet.

Boyfriend had Sweet Sausage, Roasted Red Peppers & Onions over Pine Nut Polenta ($14).


As you've probably gleaned, I'm not the biggest fan of swine. The roasted red pepper inflected sauce was very tasty and delicious with the polenta, that was a bit flavorless without the juices. I was assured by the bf that when you had all elements of the dish on your fork at once, it was a party of the palate.

I, of course, opted for the Meatballs with Pine Nuts & Raisins ($10).



Three giant meatballs, no pasta. All beef, with pine nuts and raisins, of course. Very tasty, but a bit much. I prefer meatballs with beef, pork (I know) and veal. All veal, if possible. The raisins and pignoli were delicious additions and excited me because I often put both in my kofta and meatballs and kofta are just distant cousins. I only made it through one meatball, bf polished off one and I took one home. The sauce was nothing spectacular. Is it the best meatball I've ever had? No. But it's probably the best meatball I've ever eaten in a restaurant. I wish the plating had been one ball on a bed of homemade bucatini, but I'm a carb slut, so what else would you expect?

My boyfriend (and his never-ending appetite and superior metabolism) was still hungry, so we got Frankie's Anti(posti?)pasti ($15), afterwards.


not my hand, by the way...my nails were polished turquoise that night

More swine. Ugh. We actually ordered marinated mushrooms in addition to the broccoli rabe as the vegetable accompaniment and they brought out the cauliflower instead. After we alerted the bartender/server, he also brought out a giant bowl of mushrooms. The broccoli rabe was good, again a little heavy-handed with the olio olive (it should be noted that Frankies Spuntino sells their own). The cauliflower was delightful, crispy and a little nutty. The mushrooms were perfectly satisfactory, but nothing that I would order again. The cheese selections that came out were moliterno and montasio. I was unfamiliar with both, but the rind on the moliterno had a bit of a kick.

I have a weakness for sweets, so I couldn't leave without trying dessert. I opted for the Red Wine Prunes with Mascarpone Creme ($6.50).



Obviously, my photography sucks and prunes aren't glamorous - but this dessert was delicious. It was absolutely the best thing about the whole meal. The mascarpone was creamy and just sweet enough. The prunes were juicy and reminiscent of Japanese plum wine because of the maceration. The sauce was tart and a nice counter to the sweet cream. I could have easily eaten two of these.

Frankies Spuntino was a pleasant dining experience. It isn't destination dining, but it's a nice place to stop into if you are in the area for a bite. It can be casual, or it can be romantic. In retrospect, I wouldn't have ordered the antipasti plate or the crostini - the only dishes on the menu that seemed overpriced on an otherwise modest bill.

Friday, January 29, 2010

(not so) Fat Kid Friday: Baked Mac 'n Cheese

My apologies for the lack of updating this week. I came down with the bubonic plague and it has hindered my cooking/eating a bit.

I didn't grow up eating a whole lot of macaroni and cheese. Macaroni in my house was usually smothered in marinara. And on the rare occasion we did have mac 'n cheese, it definitely still contained tomato (soup). It was tasty, though, seriously. In college, I discovered the wonder (or disaster) that is Easy Mac. After OD'ing on yellow dye #5, I avoided it for a few years until this recipe for Baked Mac 'n Cheese piqued my interested.

I added spinach (it was on sale, if you couldn't tell by the proliferation of everything I've made lately) and roasted red peppers. My cheeses of choice were cheddar and left-over feta. Let's not delude ourselves - this certainly isn't slenderizing - but the low fat cottage and sour cream add a goodly amount of gooey wonderment. All of the fat kid fun with slightly fewer calories.

photography by Stephen Cafe

photography by Stephen Cafe

Brooklyn definitely has the 'itis tonight.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

God bless Atlantic Avenue.

Is it normal to like grocery shopping as much as I do? One of my greatest joys in life is perusing the aisles, even if I don't buy a damn thing. Think of it as vicarious eating.

Last weekend's adventures took me to Sahadi's and Damascus Bread + Pastry. Short of living on Steinway in Astoria, you're not going to find a better selection of Middle Eastern goodies in NYC. Where to begin?

Sahadi's assortment of dried fruits and nuts is overwhelming. I purchased low-sugar mango slices, cinnamon almonds and spicy mango, see below:

Very weird, but amazing nonetheless.

Perhaps the most exciting find was mouhammara, which is a spicy walnut, pomegranate and red pepper spread that I find any excuse to use. I like to think of it as a more interesting hummus. Hummus is Jennifer Aniston, mouhammara is Angelina Jolie. Angelina wins, always.


I also bought Turkish delights and Maamoul, a Saudi date cookie. Almost everything has been devoured.....shhh, don't tell anybody.

A few doors down at Damascus, I was thrilled to find this offer:

Do you see that?!?!? $1 samboosak!!! I picked up a few cheese ones, which were delightfully flaky with a cheese that was just a little bit tangy. I think I tasted dill, but it was also very reminiscent of labneh. Additionally, I opted for a whole-wheat phyllo spinach and feta pie.

(spinach pie on left, samboosak on right - note the cheese oozing out)

Surprisingly, the whole wheat phyllo didn't infuriate me the way whole wheat pasta does (stop kidding yourselves, people - that ish tastes like cardboard). The pie was extra lemon-y, just the way I like it. Lemon is an excellent way to brighten up even frozen spinach and temper the saltiness of the feta.

Sahadi's
187 Atlantic Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Damascus Bread + Pastry Shop
195 Atlantic Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Visit, shop, blow your entire paycheck. Tell 'em Hungry Brooklyn sent you. No, really, I want them to love me and lavish me with foodstuffs. No shame in my game.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fat Kid Friday: Italian-Greek Empanadas + S'mores Galore

It's my favorite day of the week - Fat Kid Fridays!! It's been a helluva week so carbs, cheese and chocolate were much needed.

Italian-Greek Empanadas


I initially planned on making spanakopita, but my local Key Food was sadly lacking in phyllo. Inspired by my mother's spinach-feta-tomato croissants, I decided to do an Italian-Greek take on empanadas (or is it more of a calzone - what is the difference, technically?). It didn't seem too blasphemous given the large Italian immigration to Argentina...and maybe some Greeks snuck in there, too? Yes? No? Whatever, I like feta.


Ingredients:

refrigerated pie crust

1/4 pound of ricotta cheese

1/2 cup of feta cheese

1 can artichoke hearts

1 box frozen spinach

pinch of dill

pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon of powdered garlic

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix ricotta, feta, defrosted and drained spinach, broken up artichoke hearts, dill, pepper and garlic together.

Unroll pie crust onto lightly floured . Using a cookie cutter (or the top of glass, in my case) cut out circles of crust, re-gathering and re-rolling dough as needed.

Place each circle on a non-stick baking dish. Fill each circle with approximately a teaspoon of filling. Fold over one side of dough and gently seal using fingers. Go around the edges with a fork to further close.

Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden.


S'mores, s'mores, s'mores, s'mores....s'mores I do adore!

Micro-s'mores - officially the best (and worst) invention known to mankind.


I recently rediscovered s'mores thanks to my friend Nyjia. As I told her earlier, I don't know whether to say "thank you" or "f**k you."


Assembling peanut butter cup s'more:


Key lime pie :

(roll wet marshmallow in lime jello mix)

My pancreas has strong hate for me right now.