Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lunch Week 16: Asian Salmon Potato Cakes

So every Sunday, I head over to the kitchen to whip up a big batch of food for lunch next week. Yes, I brown bag. And I almost always do it, unless I become too busy to even buy cold cuts from the deli. I do it for several reasons being health, finance, and laziness. Now, you may think that spending hours on a day off to prep and cook five meals at once is hardly lazy. But let me remind you, I hate it when the time comes to decide what to eat for lunch every day. I work in Midtown so the choices are endless. My problem, the more choices, the harder it is for me. So it's much easier for me to have my lunch ready and already decided. So my lunch for the week: Asian Salmon Potato Cakes with Miso dressing I've made this recipe before but this time I added a little twist. It has Asian flavors to it. Specifically, I added lots of Japanese flavors because it's very unique and I had leftover ingredients. First, I made the marinade for the salmon. It consisted of the usual miso paste, mirin, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Mix well. Pour half the marinade all over the fish (skinless salmon fillets) Marinate for 1 hour in the fridge. Be careful. This stuff can be very salty so too much time in the fridge will make it inedible. In the meantime, prepare the potatoes. I used regular Idaho russet potatoes for their starchiness. Peel and cut into small cubes. Next place in pot with cold, salted water. Boil until fork tender. Drain well then place back into hot pot. This allows the potatoes to dry out a little more. Mash directly in pot. Add a little butter or cream for smoothness. Now the greens. I used baby arugula and spinach. They're more tender. Also, for a slight bite, I chopped up some scallions. Place these vegetables right into the pot of potatoes. The heat should help wilt them down. You can turn the stove on low for a little help. Watch carefully or the bottom will start to burn. As the potato mixture cools down, now it's time to take out your salmon and cook them. Try to scrape off as much of the marinade as possible. It tends to burn easily. Cook on medium heat until done. I usually place the fish in an oiled pan. Then watch until the doneness comes up halfway up the side of the fish. Flip and cook the other side a little shorter than the first side. I like to have my fish medium but if you like your own more well done, leave it on a little longer. Cool slightly. Using the same pan, add the other half of the marinade and some water. The residual heat will cook the sauce. Stir well. And now I have a dressing. After the fish has rested, flake the fillets. Then add it to the potato mixture and stir together until well incorporated. Fill a plate with some bread crumbs. Form patties out of the salmon potato mixture and coat with bread crumbs. Heat up another pan on medium and toast the cakes on both sides until browned. This step helps the cake keep its shape. And it adds a nice crunchy texture to the outside. The potato helps dull down the saltiness of the marinade. The vegetables adds a nice texture to an otherwise mushy patty. And the scallions give it a surprising fresh kick. The salmon isn't fishy at all. And the flavor is very prominent in this dish. The dressing just adds a little more of that Asian flavor. Read more...

Monday, June 29, 2009


Hot dogs! Three for me, none for you!

Miso Noodle Soup with Meatballs

I love noodles in soup. This time around I made a miso based soup and used somen noodles. I added some fishballs and beefballs. Also, I added some vegetables and an egg. The ingredients: miso, noodles, meatballs Some nice green leafy vegetables. And egg for poaching. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add meatballs. Add miso. Cook for a couple of minutes. Then add salt, then noodles. The noodles take 5 minutes to cook. Afterward, add lettuce. When the water comes back to a boil, this is done. Scoop everything out except for the soup. Crack the egg into a ladle and slowly lower into simmering water. Cook until all the white turns opaque. The finished product: noodles on the bottom with miso based soup. Then, some meatballs on top with vegetables on the side. And also my poor excuse for a poached egg. It didn't come out the way I wanted at all. It's difficult in clouded water. Oh well, there's always a next time. Read more...

Friday, June 26, 2009

BLT Burger

After a couple of hours of walking around, we were hungry. We needed something quick yet satisfying in the West Village. Also, relatively cheap. Burgers came into mind. And we've been thinking about BLT Burger for awhile. We've walked passed it several times in the past but never ventured in. But on this rainy night, we decided to give it a try. We started with 2 pints of draft beer, Blue Point Toasted Lager ($7) and Ommegang Witte ($7). Ah, they hit the spot. For food, we both had burgers. I chose the Great Hills Blue burger ($12) cooked medium. It's a 7 oz burger with blue cheese and caramelized onions and mushrooms. The innards. As you can see, it's not medium. Unfortunately, overcooked. It looks more like well done to me. Good thing that it was still juicy. So I kept it. Though, in after thought, I should have sent it back. He picked the BLT burger ($11) with cheddar ($1) cooked medium rare. It came with double smoked bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes. The innards. As you can see, this burger was cooked as specified. Very juicy and tasty. I like this one better. We also ordered some sides: onion rings ($5) and waffle fries ($4). Both were crisp and delicious. You could still taste the onion in the rings. Always a plus in my book. The fries were good as well. If I went here again, I would definitely choose another burger. It would probably be the classic with cheese. I don't know why I stray from the classic so much. It hasn't really paid off. And in retrospect, I should have sent back my over done burger. And it didn't have enough blue cheese on it. I love cheese. And I really need to taste it on my burger. Unfortunately, the caramelized onions overpowered everything but the meat itself. The overall experience was good though. Service was friendly and attentive. The food overall was good. I would go here again.

BLT Burger 470 Sixth Avenue New York, NY 10011 (212)243-8226 bltburger.com Read more...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Giorgios of Gramercy

A quiet Monday night brought me to the Flatiron area. With some time before a conference call, I headed for a quick dinner with Mr. Meat & Potatoes. Our first choice was closed, but luckily, I had thought of Giorgio's of Gramercy as a backup. I have been here before and liked it. You won't have a culinary epiphany here but I've found it to be a good go-to place. The food and service has always been solid. And the prices are right. This recent trip to Giorgio's left me as satisfied as ever. The restaurant was quiet on a Monday night. It's to be expected for most places. It's one of the slowest dining out days of the week. And in a recession, it's even worse. However, as a benefit to us, we were seated very quickly. They offer a nightly prix fixe ($35) but neither of us was hungry enough for 3 courses each. So we opted out and just ordered entrees. They gave us an amuse bouche. It was shrimp and peppers on a crostini. It was tasty but not memorable. I ordered the seared tuna steak over somen noodles and vegetables ($22). It was listed as an entree on the prix fixe menu. The tuna was a very generous size. It would be what I'd expect if I had ordered just a tuna steak. But it also came with a bed of noodles and vegetables. The tuna was seared perfectly. Slightly charred on the outside but nice and rare on the inside. The noodles and vegetables, on the other hand, were forgettable. It was a little heavy on the vinegar so it left a slightly sour taste in my mouth. No matter, we all knew that the fish was the star of the dish. Mr. Meat & Potatoes ordered 2 half portions of pasta. He couldn't decide on just one. He picked a risotto ($8) and baked macaroni and cheese ($7). The risotto came with lamb sausage and tomatoes. It tasted pretty good. It was creamy and buttery. The baked macaroni and cheese was just okay. I didn't think it was cheesy enough. But that could be just personal preference. I love cheese. And I like my macaroni and cheese to be very cheesy. One thing for sure is that the half servings of pasta were huge. I would consider them full servings. Needless to say that he only finished half of each dish and was more than full. They turn out to be good leftovers for the next day. Like I said previously, Giorgio's of Gramercy has hits and misses. But the overall experience is a plus. The food satisfied me. The price is just right. The service was attentive and friendly. I had a good time here.

Giorgio's of Gramercy
27 East 21st St
New York, NY 10011
(212) 477-0007
giorgiosofgramercy.com

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A snack for me

A fried egg sandwich with lettuce, mustard, and anchovy spread (yes, anchovies) -- Yum! Read more...

Dim Sum from World Tong again

So I went to World Tong again for some dimsum. As usual, it was take out. I haven't had dimsum in a long while so it tasted better than usual.
Dumplings Dumpling innards (pork, carrots, celery, chives, mushrooms, peanuts) Fishballs Phoenix Feet (chicken feet) Shumai (pork and shrimp dumpling) Pork spare ribs Plain rice noodle skin Dumplings Dumpling innards (shrimp and chives) Steamed Bun Bun innards (roast pork)
World Tong Seafood Restaurant 6202 18th Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11204 (718) 236-8118

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lunch Week 15: Oatmeal with Honey and Fruit

So every Sunday, I head over to the kitchen to whip up a big batch of food for lunch next week. Yes, I brown bag. And I almost always do it, unless I become too busy to even buy cold cuts from the deli. I do it for several reasons being health, finance, and laziness. Now, you may think that spending hours on a day off to prep and cook five meals at once is hardly lazy. But let me remind you, I hate it when the time comes to decide what to eat for lunch every day. I work in Midtown so the choices are endless. My problem, the more choices, the harder it is for me. So it's much easier for me to have my lunch ready and already decided. So my lunch for the week: Oatmeal with honey and fruit. I felt like doing a crash/cleansing diet. For me, that includes foods that are high in fiber and low in fat. Oatmeal is perfect. Boring, but it works. I use Old Fashioned Oats from Quaker. I like the texture. I hate the instant kind. It's mush. I like some kind of texture in my oatmeal. Anyhow, I make it in the microwave for ease. I have about 1-1.5 dry cups of oatmeal. I add fat free milk until saturated. Then it's nuked for about 2.5 minutes. From past mistakes, I learned to stand by the microwave and watch my bowl. It can easily boil over and create a huge mess. Afterward, a squeeze of honey makes things sweet enough for me. To complement my oatmeal, I have a trio of fruits: bananas, peaches, and apples. So my lunch for the week is super simple, sweet, and satisfying. AKA BORING! I know but I need a week of this to straighten my insides out. Hopefully more interesting food next week. Read more...

Monday, June 22, 2009


I had a friend visiting from Greece. And another coming in from NJ. We planned on having dinner together. I was in charge of picking a place. I wanted some place trendy that had a good variety of dishes. It can be a little difficult at times because one friend only eats chicken for meat. So I thought Tao was a good choice. We had reservations at 7:15pm on a Tuesday night. But we arrived early (6:15p) hoping we could eat earlier. We were starving. The hostess kindly said that she had a table ready but we would have to be finished by 7:45pm. Not a problem! We sat upstairs near the second lounge. We quickly ordered some cocktails, lychee and jade blossom martinis ($12.50 each). They were good and strong. Unfortunately, our waiter disappeared for awhile. We had to flag down a busboy who went to the manager who then flagged down our waiter. We ordered from the prix fixe menu (3 courses for $38). It's only offered from 5-7pm or after 11pm. This is a great deal considering the regular menu is way overpriced. Basically making it not worth it. Anyhow, we decided to each pick different things so that we can try each others dishes. For appetizer, I ordered the pork pot stickers. They had the crispy tuna and Tao salad. The dumplings tasted good but very generic. I can find the same (and better) in Chinatown. Like I said, thank god for the prixe fixe. The crispy tuna was good as well. It was rare on the inside and a light crispy crust on the outside. It came with a wasabi sauce that my friend loved. I liked this the best. The salad was very mediocre. Disappointing in fact. Just lots of normal greens and some crispy flat noodles on top. Boring. For entree, I ordered the miso Chilean sea bass. They had the wasabi crusted filet migon and kung pao chicken. The fish was a very large portion. It came with sauteed veggies that sopped up the sauce. It tasted good. The fish wasn't dry and flaked off easily. The miso was very apparent. This is supposed to be their signature dish. I can see why. Even my chicken-only friend had a slight bite. The filet looked good as well. She ordered it medium but it looked more cooked. But it was very tender considering she was eating it with chopsticks! Steak with chopsticks? Yes, it happened. The kung pao chicken was the best kung pao I've had. Mainly because the chicken wasn't overly breaded and you can taste the meat in it. The sauce was sweet and sour. It was with white rice and lots of veggies. However, this was obviously my least favorite of the three dishes. For dessert, I had the sugar dusted doughnuts (I love doughnuts), and they both ordered the chocolate spring rolls. If it weren't for a prix fixe, I wouldn't have ordered dessert. I was stuffed by now. And anything sweet would have put me over the top. And it did. The doughnuts were warm and soft. It came with a fruit-y dipping sauce that I didn't care for. The chocolate spring rolls were warm when they came out. The chocolate was melted inside and the outside was very crispy. It was good. Each plate came with four rolls. And it was a struggle to finish them. All in all, I enjoyed my meal. It was good but nothing special. I wouldn't pay anything more than the prix fixe price for the food. Expensive Chinese food just irks me. I know how cheap and delicious it can be. I know the effort that goes into making it. And it really should not be costing as much as some of these places charge. I understand that some ingredients are exotic and will cost more. But most of these places aren't serving anything exotic. Shark fin soup anyone? I wouldn't choose to go here myself again unless the situation comes up that I'm entertaining some out of town guests (which I need to impress) or certain dietary restrictions are involved. Tao Restaurant 42 East 58th Street New York, NY 10022 (212) 888-2288 taorestaurant.com Read more...