Tag Archives: Eating

Recipe: Basil Salt

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Last week, my garden was overrun with basil.  I didn’t know what to do, as the space was competing with tomatoes, and the tomatoes were quickly winning.  It’s a massacre out there for all the other veggies.

my garden

I can hardly tell what is what over there.

I have been doing everything I can to preserve the beautiful basil my garden produced, and this recipe is no different.  Easy and super fast, you can add this salt from everything to tomato and corn salad or cheeses, to pasta dishes and desserts. Basil salt is awesome! It adds just that beautiful freshness to anything it touches, and is beautiful and bright green like the herb that produced it.

It lasts for six months too, so there is plenty of time to taste summer long into winter.

Ingredients

1/2 C tightly packed basil leaves

1/2 C kosher salt

Method

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.  Pulse basil and salt in blender until incorporated.  Mixture will be clumpy.  Spread onto baking sheet lined with parchment or tin foil and bake until dried, about 30 minutes.

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basil salt after drying but before blending for a second time

Take dried salt and pulse again in blender until powder.  Store in airtight container for six months or more.

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Used the salt to top this dish of tomatoes and ricotta cheese. Perfect basil flavor and nice hit of salt

 

-L

 

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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

Restaurant Week Bliss: Kitchen

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Restaurant Week was last week, guys. As I have stated before, I love Restuarant Week. Although the prices are a little north of what I usually post, since its still a steal (apps, entrees, and dessert at these places is definitely more than $38 a person) I think it still applies as frugal. This year, there were options in price for restaurant week, but I still decided to try the most expensive (my wallet is a sadist, what can I say).
This time, The Russian and I decided to try Kitchen in the South End. I was super excited before we even walked in the door, because they had pretty much a full menu offering this year, as opposed to just a few options. I also love that Kitchen models it’s dishes on classic recipes, and even dates each dish to its inception on the menu. As someone who is fascinated with food, how dishes are created, and now timeless classics can be enjoyed by our grandparents and grandchildren, this was a perfect choice for a bit of history with my dinner.

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The space is small, but super cozy. You’ll have to excuse my photos, which aren’t the best this time around. I didn’t want to disturb other diners by taking a million photos. You’ll get the idea.
I started off with the oysters Rockefeller, a classic dish. The oysters were huge and juicy, and the spinach mixture on top was creamy and rich, a nice counterpoint to the salty oyster.

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The Russian started with scallops wrapped in bacon (he can never resist bacon, but who among us really can) with grits. The scallops were cooked to perfection, although he thought the grits could use a touch if salt. A minor problem, if it can even be called that. The bacon was perfectly crisp as well.

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Then I moved on to the crispy half duck. This dish sold me on Kitchen. The duck was truly incredible, the fat was perfectly rendered, and the skin was crisp. It was also huge, so I felt like I needed to be rolled home after I finished the dish (The Russian helped of course). The risotto was some of the best I’ve ever had. I’m still thinking about it. Sometimes I’ll just stop for a moment and daydream about that dish.

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The Russian chose beef as his entree and wasn’t disappointed either. His sirloin steak was cooked perfectly and paired with luxurious ingredients, like a piece of seared foie and black truffles. It was decedent.

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We somehow managed dessert. I tried the donuts, which were good but by that point I was pretty done for the night (a bottle of wine and half a duck will do that to the best of us).

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The Russian, who is a bottomless pit, had some chocolate pudding. It was creamy and decedent and somehow light. Not sure how they managed that (witchcraft?). A really nice end to a fantastic meal.

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I was so happy to have discovered Kitchen. You can tell when food is made with love, and love was just bursting out of the dishes. Hopefully they will make another appearance for summer’s resto week, so that they can be enjoyed again by those who couldn’t necessarily afford them normally.
-L

Cheap Eats: The Hop, Beacon, New York

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Last weekend, I was lucky enough to get to go home and see my parents for a bit. I didn’t just steal my mom’s recipe from her, I also went out into the town as well. I’d been meaning to try The Hop for a bit, since I’ve only heard good things from friends that live in Beacon. Let me tell you, it was awesome. I’m really proud of Beacon for having awesome little spots like this. First off, it’s got some rustic and awesome decor (see photo above), and a tremendous selection of craft beers.

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They also have a crazy amount of cool jams, jellies, and specialty condiments just ready for purchase.

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It was a budding chef’s (like myself) paradise.
Did I mention they also have a menu? I should have started with that. I’m still thinking about the food. No, seriously.
The Russian and I started off with some brews, a raspberry cider for him and the Allagash Interlude for me. I loved my beer, and the fact that it was light and hoppy and somehow 10% alcohol. Definitely packed a healthy punch (the sneaky kind). I was okay with it, though. It was really great beer.

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We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the food though. It was marvelous.
The Russian and I had the olives and almonds, which were marinated in rosemary and olive oil. They were crunchy and well seasoned and a lovely compliment to the beer.

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Then they had these soft pretzels with homemade mustard and I could have cried. Pretzels are my favorite. Especially the big soft ones. The mustard was awesome, but it had a huge kick so using only a little was necessary.

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The crowning jewel was the chicken liver pâté. Dear god there was so much flavor. There was a homemade cherry (I believe, don’t quote me just know it was delicious) jam and a vinaigrette with homemade toast points. There was also a huge hunk of cheese. I was in love. There was a layer of fat on the bottom that tasted just like Sunday roast chicken. I was a very happy lady and giddy with excitement.

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The whole shebang cost me around $40, making it an affordable lunch for two.
The Hop was an incredible experience and a surprising experience to be found in Beacon, it makes me happy to come home and find so many delicious options springing up where my parents live. Also sad they don’t have something like this in Boston, that I’ve found at least. I cannot wait to come home and try more of The Hop’s menu offerings.
-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.
EVOO
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

Repost: 3 Must Experience African Vacations

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This article was passed on to me by a friend, and I’m just helping out and getting their word out there.  Like travel? Check it out.  I’ve wanted to check out Africa for some time now, and this article only makes me that much angrier I still haven’t been.  Enjoy!-L

Find yourself looking up the top restaurants in any city you travel to? Instead of fitting in foodie destinations with your vacation, make the foodie destinations the point of your next vacation. The world is filled with amazing cuisine, with guidebooks urging you toward Paris, New York, Italy, and other well known food meccas. For a truly unique foodie experience, you need to look past the well known locations and explore food destinations off the beaten path. Skip Europe and Asia for this round of foodie delights and travel to Africa for a diverse food adventure.

South Africa

Cape Town has had many cultural influences over the years, depending on the European

country that was settling it or using it for trade routes in its early history. While it’s a distinct area

with its own identity now, you see the melting pot of influences, especially in the food, which

is sometimes called rainbow cuisine as a result. One particular area to browse on your food

exploration is Franschhoek Valley, home to a massive amount of vineyards. The gourmet food

movement in South Africa is a must see. Some restaurants to explore on and around the wine

estate includes Cosecha Restaurant at Noble Hill, Dutch East Restaurant, and Haut Cabriere

Cellar Restaurant, as Epitourean.com explains.

Ethiopia

You may have enjoyed Ethiopian foods at that “authentic” restaurant in your home town, but

now it’s time to experience the truly authentic cuisine of Ethiopia itself. You’re headed to Addis

Ababa specifically, the capital city of Ethiopia. The main characteristics of Ethiopian food are

vegetable and spicy meat dishes, served on top of injera flatbread, according to Lonely Planet.

You don’t use utensils with this cuisine, as the injera acts as your fork. Start your journey off at

Yod Abyssinia Traditional Food restaurant to dive into Ethiopian food culture. Follow up with

a trip to Tomoca to experience the wonderful coffee this region has access to. From there,

you have a grand variety of cuisines to explore, whether you want to sample the Ethiopian

take on French food or head to the streets for street vendors that will make you want to live in

the country forever. Don’t count on swiping your card at all of the restaurants and street food

vendors, however. You will want cash in hand. Ideally, you will have already converted currency

before you left home. Avoid ATMs in foreign countries unless you’re really confident that they’re

on the up and up, as the Lifelock profile on Lifelock warns about the dangers of ATM skimming.

If you find yourself cash light, go directly to a bank or currency conversion service, so you can

continue your eating adventure without long interruptions.

Egypt

Egypt is far more than its tombs and pyramids. The long lived culture of Egypt has contributed

to a fascinating food scene that is a true high point of this country. Egyptian cuisine is

particularly delightful for those who enjoy bean and vegetable heavy dishes. It’s right next to

the Nile, after all, so the food culture is heavily influenced by crop

Tasty African Treats

Tasty African Treats

growth. Like Ethiopian food,

Egyptian food uses a flatbread as a primary utensil. Its bread is called Eish Masri. Egyptian food

also has a great deal of crossover with Eastern Mediterranean food, as Cairo360 points out.

Alongside traditional dishes such as koshari, which is a lentil, rice, and macaroni mixture, you

also see kebab and falafel. It’s also quite heavy on the garlic and onions. Cairo has the largest

concentration of restaurants, with some recommendations leading you to El Mashrabia for

traditional food, Noon for a contemporary take, and Al Mokhtar for Lebanese influence.

Nathan Bower Nathan is a foodie blogger who Instagrams pictures of every meal he has. He doesn’t have his own blog yet, but he’s planning on starting one real soon with a few close friends. Nathan grew up in a melting pot area of Washington, D.C, so he has been surrounded by ethnic foods his entire life. His favorite cuisine is Indian, and favorite dish massaman curry.