Tag Archives: Dinner

Recipe:Stuffed Squash Blossoms

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This summer, I finally decided to tackle something that I have been either too busy, or too afraid to tackle: My very own garden.  I know it sounds silly, but I have dreamed of growing my own food for some time now.  I have to say, it has certainly been a learning experience.  What to grow, and how to grow it, and how to protect it from the environment around it is still something I am learning, and probably will be for seasons to come.

One thing my garden has been very bountiful in giving me is squash blossoms.  While my plants are hit or miss, and have produced some delicious summer squash varieties, I think my favorite thing to collect are the beautiful, golden–yellow flowers that are delicious and earthy in every way.

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This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy the blossoms: stuffed with fresh cheese and deep–fried, lightly salted, and eaten with sparkling wine.

Deep Fried Squash Blossoms

6-12 squash blossoms

2 C vegetable or other neutral, high heat oil

For the filling:

1 C ricotta (I used goat’s milk, but cow’s milk is also perfect)

2 Tbsp heavy cream

1 tbsp chopped chives

zest of 1 lemon

lemon juice, salt, pepper to taste

 

For the batter:

6 oz AP flour

3 tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp salt

200 ml seltzer water

Method:

Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, until bubbling, around 350 degrees F.

Whisk ingredients for batter together and set aside

mix filling ingredients, mixing together until a smooth paste forms.  fill into a pastry bag, or a ziplock bag.  Cut the tip off the pastry bag or a corner off the ziplock bag, so you are able to pipe the filling into the blossom. Try not to overfill, and close each petal around the filling so it forms a nice little pocket.

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Drop each blossom into the batter and directly into the hot oil, frying only a few at a time, about 3 minutes per side.  Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt, and enjoy!

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This is an amazing summer treat!

-L

 

My Top 10 in New York City

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This summer, differing from my normal intentions of plenty of beach time and music, I spent my summer working hard during an internship, a taste of what my life is to become in the coming years post culinary school. I was lucky enough to land an internship at Gramercy Tavern, a New York institution as far as classic American fare is concerned. I was incredibly lucky to work there, and learned an incredible amount and was inspired every day, something for which I am very grateful.

I used my time in New York as wisely as I could, and tried to eat out as much and as often as I could, so I could get a feel for what the scene is like in New York.  I complied this list out of the places I’ve eaten in New York- my favorite 10- as a suggestion for those looking for places to eat during the colder and slower winter season, or even to save for the (thankfully) upcoming spring season. There are some standby spots and some newer places, so try and enjoy!

Any thoughts on those places? Suggestions for other places I MUST try?? I am SO willing to hear all about it in the comments.

 

Riverpark

Tom Colicchio’s East River hub has stellar views- and incredible food to boot. It was seasonal, fresh, and eclectic;  I loved the Burrata with tomatoes (classic, I know, but still delicious).  I had my first experience trying corn ice cream here, and throughly enjoyed it.  I can see what all the hype was about last summer (and probably this one as well).  Riverpark is also home to one of the smallest but most adorable farms, or outdoor large gardens– which supplements the restaurant.  Talk about local, and definitely a feat in any city, but especially New York City.

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450 E. 29th street

(212) 729-9790

 

 Upland

California–Inspired and incredibly chic, Upland has dishes with bold flavors inspired by the seasons. The decor is awesome, I spotted a few celebs while at the bar (if you’re into that sorta thing), but it still felt causal enough that I could roll through in jeans. The Beef tartare is a must, as well as the crispy duck wings. The pasta estrella was to die for, with chicken livers and sherry.

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345 Park Ave South

(212) 686-1006

 

Buvette

Probably the most adorable place I’ve eaten at in New York.  A tiny hole in the wall, food is prepared and served right at the counter, and menus are printed daily on small little booklets.  An outdoor patio also is available when the season is right, but watching the bustle behind the counter and their incredible practice of putting together dishes right in front of you was a treat.  A little slice of Paris in the big city; the sister restaurant is actually located in the city of lights (or romance? Not sure what the kids are calling Paris these days).  The menu is simple, homey French, done very well. Brunch is sublime. The wine, of course, is French and excellent.

Breakfast done right at Buvette

Breakfast done right at Buvette

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42 Grove Street

 

Virginia’s

Cozy and upscale, the food was so good here my group ordered the menu twice.  Although the menu has changed since I’ve been, their attention to detail and flavor profiles would get me in the door again.  Try the toast, which changes frequently but was a memorable moment when I went.

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647 East 11th street

(212) 658-0182

 

Burke & Wills

Australian themed restaurant in New York, which is awesome, as I’ve had a little obsession with Australia since visiting last summer.  Housed in an absolutely gorgeous space with windowed roof, intimate feeling and lovely decor that harkens of Australia, the food was awesome as well.  The kangaroo loin was delicious, as was the roo burger.  Opt for the cheese plate to finish, then head upstairs to their private cocktail bar with one of the most knowledgeable barkeeps in Manhattan.

Octopus and Kangaroo at Burke and Wills

Octopus and Kangaroo at Burke and Wills

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226  West 79th Street

(646) 823-9251

 

Momofuku Noodle Bar

The ultimate in tasty, David Chang’s ode to ramen is always busy for a reason.  They don’t take reservations, but if you can grab a seat, try the steamed buns with various fillings and don’t skip the Momofuku Ramen, in all of its porky glory. My only regret was not trying their fried chicken, which needs an advance order of at least 48 hours.  Now I know.

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171 1st Avenue

(212) 777-7773

 

Root +Bone

Tasty southern fare done right, by two Top Chef alums.  Adorable decor. The biscuits are wonderful, as are the dishes that come to mind when you think of southern food: the shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, and strawberry shortcake are all incredible choices. Comfort food at its best.

Incredible biscuits and the grilled peach salad at Root and Bone

Incredible biscuits and the grilled peach salad at Root and Bone

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200 East 3rd Street

(646) 682-7076

The Finch

This newcomer is the brainchild of Gabe McMackin, an alum of Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Gramercy Tavern.  Although being open for less than a year at the time, the spot won their first Michelin star last year, quite a feat for any well-known establishment, but a testament to the incredible food being pumped out of the open kitchen.  The atmosphere is open and beautiful, and the food is thoughtful yet innovative.  Smoked egg yolks, a component of one of their summer dishes last year, are an incredible thing, and introduced to be at this establishment.  It is always refreshing to see avant-garde cooking styles, flavors, and techniques, while still maintaining the natural beauty of the ingredients. A must see for any New Yorker, and especially those in Brooklyn looking for a new and invigorating spot.

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smoked egg yolk, puree of “green things”, and pasta

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212 Greene Avenue

(718) 218-4444

Mialino

What an incredible restaurant.  If you enjoy pasta and Italian cuisine (and who doesn’t?) then this is the place for you.  But I wouldn’t expect Chicken Parmesan.  Mialino does beautiful rustic Italian, what I imagine people in Italy actually eat.  They are inspired by classic Roman cuisine, and claim to be a “modern trattoria.” While I’m not sure if this is the case, I can be sure of the food.  A truly incredible meal, I had cheeses, cured meats, tomato salad and grape bruchetta, and of course pasta.  homemade and beautiful, this is how I want every pasta meal to be.  Malfatti with duck ragu was to die for, as well as garganelli with a tomato and olive sauce.  I would highly recommend this spot to anyone looking for an incredible environment and even better food.

Incredible pasta and, salads, and cured meats

Incredible pasta, salads, and cured meats

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2 Lexington Avenue

Inside Gramercy Park Hotel

(212) 777-2410

Gramercy Tavern

I will always love this place.  There is a reason why this restaurant has been a New York institution for over 20 years.  Having worked there (more on that later), I can say that every person in the kitchen– from the Chefs to the prep cooks– cares about the integrity of ingredients.  It is inspiring as a young chef to be exposed to such talent, and it is clear on the plate, whether of not you have culinary experience. I included so many photos because I couldn’t choose which was my favorite– this place was responsible for one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten.  House–cured meats, homemade pastas, and beautifully composed salads are just a taste of what is going on there.  The menu is constantly changing due to seasonality, so these photos are out of date, but the attention to detail in not only the flavors but the presentation will remain the same.  While it is pricey, sometimes it is understandable to spend a great deal if you are receiving an incredible experience.  Sit in the tavern if you cannot make a reservation or would like a more relaxed experience, or sit in the dining room for more special occasions.  Either way, make your way here and prepare to be blown away.

One of the best meals in recent memory

One of the best meals in recent memory

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42 E 20th Street

(212) 477-0777

Recipe: Plum Coffee Cake

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It’s no secret that I’m not the best at baking, mostly because I shy away from trying it. It intimidates me. When I saw this post from StrawberryPlum, however, I had to try it. I love coffee cake, and, ironically, how well it pairs with tea. Figured I’d give it a go, I mean, it’s always a good thing to try something new.
Ingredients
For the topping:
1/4 cup ap flour [$2 for a bag]
1/4 cup brown sugar [$2 for a bag]
Cinnamon [$3]
About a cup chopped pecans [$4 for a bag]
Half a stick unsalted butter, melted [$2 for a pack]

For the cake:
1 1/2 cup ap flour
1 teaspoon baking powder [$2]
1/2 teaspoon baking soda [$3]
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cinnamon, about a tablespoon
6 tablespoons softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs [$1]
1 teaspoon vanilla extract [$3]
1/2 cup sour cream [$1.50 for a small container]
3 or 4 plums, cut into quarters [$3]

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350.
Spray an 8×8 baking pan with Pam or some kind if butter or grease, and set aside.
Make the topping: combine the topping ingredients except the butter in a bowl, then add the butter and mix until combined into crumbs. Set aside.

Make the cake: combine all the dry ingredients except the sugar in a bowl and whisk until combined. In an electric mixer bowl, add the butter and the sugar and beat until whipped and fluffy. Beat the eggs into the mixer, one at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream and best until well mixed.
Add the dry ingredients in the bowl, a little at a time, until incorporated.
I was worried when I read the instructions that I would not know when the batter was ready. Trust me, when you are making the batter, it will be obvious when it has come together.
Scoop the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Add the plums on top in a fun pattern if you choose and then add the topping.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool for a few minutes while you make some tea, then cut and enjoy!

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Super glad I decided to give baking a whirl.

-L

Recipe: Moms Roasted Potatoes

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What a crazy month it’s been. Besides picking up a third job, I’m moving this week and decided to visit my parents home in New York this weekend. I’m glad I did, because I was looking for a new recipe to blog about, and then my mom served me her roasted potatoes. Problem solved. Thanks mom.

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These potatoes are roasts and oniony, and paired perfectly with some steak and a salad.
Ingredients
4 russet potatoes, rinsed [$3]
Lipton onion soup mix [$3]
Seasonings, which my mom had on hand, and you can mix and match your favorites.
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Salt and pepper
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Dried thyme
Dried oregano
Dried basil
Italian seasoning

Directions
Preheat oven to 400.
Cut potatoes into wedges. My mom likes to use an apple corer to cut the potatoes.
In a ziplock bag, put a 1/4 cup oil, a whole bag of the onion soup ,it, and about a teaspoon if each of the seasonings. Adjust to taste. Place in a oven safe dish and bake for about 45 minutes.
Now while the seasonings all come together for a great flavor, it’s the onion soup that makes the difference here. If you’re gonna forget any seasoning, don’t let it be that.
Serve with steak and salad and enjoy!

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-L

Recipe: Quickest–Ever Glazed Salmon

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IMG_2439In light of my recent laziness (and brokeness, thanks new car), I have been really excited about making simple, quality meals. This is one of them, adapted from a Martha Stewart cookbook my mom gave me ages ago. Served with jasmine rice and broccoli sauteed in a little soy sauce, garlic, and red pepper flakes, this salmon is a full meal in less than 30 that’s even kinda good for you (I don’t always aim for healthy, sometimes it just finds me).

Ingredients:

Salmon filets [about $8 a pound for fresh Alaskan salmon]

Hoisin sauce [$3]

1 small OJ [$2]

honey [$3]

Jasmine white rice (or brown rice if you’re really trying to be healthy) and broccoli, for serving.

Directions:

Preheat the broiler.

If making rice, start to cook to the package directions.

Mix Hoisin sauce, honey, and OJ in a bowl in a 3:2:1 ratio, or to taste. Brush on salmon filets and place in the broiler for about 15 minutes.  Re-Glaze salmon about halfway through to intensify flavor. While salmon is cooking, make broccoli, if desired.

Serve with side dishes and enjoy!

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-L

Cheap Eats: Smoken Joe’s

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I apologize in advance for these photos.  They’re not perfect in the least, but it was dark and I didn’t want to use flash and kill the rocking vibe of this place, so I just did what I could and hoped for the best.

That being said, I had the most awesome experience the other day with The Russian.  We went out to dinner at Smoken’ Joe’s, a neighborhood BBQ joint with live music every night.  For some reason I didn’t think it would be busy.  Then I heard the music and smelled the smoke about a block down the street and knew I was wrong.  It was their 3rd anniversary party, and I felt like I was crashing, but, man, it was so much fun.

There was awesome music, and the people there were obviously regulars that had been with the place since the opening.

This band could play

This band could play

We enjoyed some awesome food as well.  Starting with the fried oysters, only $9, with a tartar–esque dipping sauce.  You could taste the oyster and the breading was light (It did fall off a bit, but that was okay).

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I then had a half rack of ribs, which was $15.  Probably shouldn’t had had that much, as I needed to be rolled home later. I couldn’t help myself, the meat was so tender and satisfying, before I knew it I had polished off a bunch of ribs. You can choose which of their many homemade BBQ sauce you would like to accompany your meal, and I had the honey BBQ.  It was a good choice. The cole slaw and sweet potato fries on the side were also killer.

blurry photo but you get the idea

blurry photo but you get the idea

The Russian had the brisket with the sweet BBQ sauce, $16.  You would think the sauces we chose were similar (cause of their names) but they both had such a richness and complexity in flavor you could tell them apart easily.  The Russian’s brisket was so tender it almost fell to pieces when you touched it.

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We stayed for a while after dinner, enjoying the music and the atmosphere.  I would come back just for that.  Luckily, the food is excellent as well.

-L

Recipe: Pork Dumplings

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IMG_0422I love Chinese takeout.  It’s definitely I vice I have, and I don’t care.  I love the grease, the salty flavors and the rich meats.  I decided it’s about time I learned how to make one of my favorite Chinese takeout dishes: dumplings.  Turns out, it’s super simple and only requires few ingredients.

dat's it.

dat’s it.

Ingredients:

1 package wonton wrappers [$3]

1 pound ground pork or beef [$4]

1 bulb ginger [.50 cents]

scallions [$2]

soy sauce [$3]

bok choy (optional) [$3]

Directions:

Mix the ground pork with a few chopped scallions, soy sauce, grated ginger, and chopped garlic until well combined. take a small amount (like a teaspoon, no bigger or the dumplings will burst ) and place in the center of each wrapper.  rim the edges with water using your fingers, then fold over and seal to combine.

Mine took a little practice

Mine took a little practice

Do this until all the meat is used. This recipe makes like, 40 dumplings (The Russian and I ate them all).

All of them.

All of them.

To cook, place a few (like half ) of the dumplings in a pan with veg oil in the bottom.  Sear the bottoms of the dumplings for about 5 minutes, then add about a cup of water to the pan and cover so the dumplings can steam.

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To make this a full meal, I paired the dumplings with some bok choy I sauteed with soy sauce, chopped garlic, and red pepper flakes. I also made a dipping sauce with soy sauce, sriracha, and scallions. IMG_0418Takeout at home! Just as good (or maybe better?) than the normal dumpling.

-L