Monday, August 30, 2010

Cooking: Ham Steak Breakfast

Another purchase from the Green Mountain Smokehouse from Vermont. We definitely loaded up on goodies. This time, it's a boneless ham steak that is maple sugar cured. Mmmm, meat! I forgot to take a picture of the label so this is blurry from being in the garbage. So here's the ham all patted dry and out of its wrapping. Thick and juicy! I fried the ham in a pan with oil until it was nicely browned on both sides. Then some fried runny eggs, an English muffin, and some corn rounded out the breakfast meal. Flavor-wise, the ham was delicious. Nice light maple taste but the salty, pork flavor remained the main event. However, it was drier than I thought. I guess the smokehouse doesn't inject their hams with water like commercial plants do. I should be happy about that. However, if I had known, I would have cooked it differently. Frying it in the pan dried it out even more. But all is good in the end when the creaminess of an egg yolk saves the day. Green Mountain Smokehouse 341 Us Route 5 S Windsor, VT 05089-9493 (802) 674-6653 Read more...

Certe

I found myself without lunch on a random Thursday. I looked around for something to eat but was lackluster about the options. But I remembered that the Chubby Chinese Girl Sandwich ($9) was the special at Certe. I have yet to taste it and everyone keeps raving about it. So, it was about time to put my own opinion on this sandwich. A quick walk over and I found the place easily. Down a narrow hallway and in the back is the ordering station. Further back, are seats. I ordered and paid for my sandwich pretty quickly. I stepped aside and waited until my order was ready. I watched as the place worked pretty efficiently during the lunch time rush. They had their stuff down! I didn't wait too long and was presented with this when I went back to my desk. That's a nice looking sandwich I must say. And a cross section view. Don't be fooled. It wasn't skimpily filled. It was chock full of duck and veggies. This sandwich was pretty good. The crusty bread was nice. The duck was nicely cooked with a sweet hoisin glaze. The veggies added a nice contrast to the richness of the duck. The menu says something spicy but I didn't taste it at all. Maybe they forgot it in my sandwich? Maybe it was lost in the other ingredients. Whatever the case, I didn't miss it much. This sandwich tasted pretty good without it. So far, Certe has done me right both times I have bought food from there. The food is good and it travels well. I must make it a point to order more frequently. Especially since they deliver. Certe 20 West 55th Street New York, NY 10019-5373 (212) 397-2020 certenyc.com Read more...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Happy Family, again

God, I was craving fried chicken. But fast food chains do not deliver. And my closest place closed down (RIP Piece of Chicken). So I did the next best thing: Chinese take out. They always have fried chicken on their menu. And it's damn cheap. I had an order of wings ($3 for 3). Now, Chinese fried chicken isn't like commercial chain fried chicken. There's no batter. It's literally a seasoned piece of chicken that's deep fried. This makes for a ridiculously crispy skin. And I enjoyed every piece of it. The meat was juicy and the skin was delicious. Happiness ensued. On the other side of the table, he ordered the Beef Chow Fun which is really Beef Ho Fun ($8). His normal go-to order. He loves this. Thick flat rice noodles and slices of marinated beef that's sauteed and stir fried together. Happy Family makes an okay rendition of this dish. He was satisfied enough. Happy Family 500 West 43rd Street New York, NY 10036-4327 (212) 695-6035 Read more...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Guiness Ice Cream Float

I've been meaning to do this for a long while now. But I keep getting too full, tired, or drunk. So one day when I felt hungry, instead of eating something, I made myself a Guinness ice cream float. All you need is just 3 ingredients: Guinness, vanilla ice cream, and Bailey's. First, a couple of scoops on vanilla goes into a tall glass. Pour the Guinness right on top. Then add a shot of Bailey's. Look at that beautiful site! A quick mix with a spoon, then taste. Awesome. The Guinness is sweetened up from the ice cream and Bailey's. It's like a chocolate/coffee float but with a kick. This certainly filled me up and was a good replacement for food. Mmm, liquid happiness. Read more...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cooking: Chorizo Sandwich

So I'm starting to slowly dig into my goods from Vermont. This time around, it's the chorizo from Green Mountain Smokehouse. I decided to make sandwiches for Mr. Meat & Potatoes and myself. You see, we were heading out to a big drinking night. And well, we needed a good base to keep us going throughout the night. Well, at least I need it. So what's better than plenty of protein and carbs? Nothing! Here's the chorizo sausage. That price was real nice. $4 for 4 big links. I grabbed a nice big loaf of rosemary and potato bread from Amy's Bread. The crust was crusty but the inside was so soft. I made a light lemon dressing for the greens in the sandwich. Again, gotta have the greens. Balance is key. And the salad greens ready to be dresses. But not until the very last minute. The bread gets sliced and spread with some mayo. My own had mustard. The egg gets fried up but the yolk left runny. I don't need to remind you why. Okay, just in case you missed it the last hundred times: I love runny egg yolks! And the chorizo. Frying up in it's own juices. A lot of fat rendered off these babies. But that was good for the glorious browning it gave to these sausages. The skin was snappy. Once the chorizo cooked, I let it cool. Then I sliced them for the sandwich. Down goes the chorizo, then the dressed salad, then the egg. Goddamn that was good. A belly busting, meat loving, yolk running, big happy sandwich. And it made me very happy. It made me happy right after I finished it and all night long. The drinking base did its job very well. But you want to know what it tasted like, right. Well the chorizo wasn't like normal chorizo I've had before. This was fresh sausage. Normally, I get the dried kind. The flavors in that is normally much more intense. I guess the drying concentrates the flavors. This fresh chorizo was lighter in flavor but much juicier. It was more like a regular sausage to me. But it still tasted great. The eggs added a creaminess to the whole sandwich while the dressed salad cut the fattiness of the meats. The bread held together just nicely. At first we though it was too big. But this hefty sandwich would have torn through a lighter bread. The crust was key. The soft innards were also helpful since it could be easily mushed together. I would definitely make this again. It was awesome! Green Mountain Smokehouse 341 Us Route 5 S Windsor, VT 05089-9493 (802) 674-6653 Amy's Bread 672 9th Avenue New York, NY 10036 (212) 977-2670 amysbread.com Read more...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sangria

Have tons of extra fruit and wine laying around? Make sangria. Though my recipe doesn't involve brandy, it's good enough for me. So here I chopped up a bunch of summer fruits including oranges, limes, apples, and pineapple cores. I poured in the wine and let it seep. I didn't add sugar either thinking it would be sweet enough. Also, I used a drier wine thinking I would normally enjoy it. But the fruit would make it more palatable for me. Mmm, this was nice after a long day at work. We share this whole thing and didn't feel any effect. Only when we started eating the fruit did the alcohol finally set in. Ack, I was put to bed promptly after that. Read more...

Cooking: Fried Dumplings

Okay, I tried the fried dumpling thing again. And this time, it came out much better. Why? I used a non-stick skillet. So, oil into a hot pan. drop those dumplings in. Add water until 75% up the pan, cover and boil. Boil until all the water evaporates. The dumplings will begin to sear again. Sear until a nice crispy bottom is reached (just a couple of minutes). The scoop out and serve with some soy sauce. These were much better and the skin remained intact. However, I still think these dumplings are best left boiled or steamed. It's something about the skin. Maybe I'll leave the frying to gyoza or store bought kinds. Read more...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cooking: Nachos

Nachos are great. They're all encompassing of things I like to eat: meat, cheese, and fatty toppings. And a fried tortilla chip is the vehicle it uses to bring that into my mouth. What genius! Making this at home is really easy, really cheap, and can feed a lot of people. Start off by cooking some ground beef with chopped onions and garlic. For seasoning, I like to add salt, pepper, cayenne, and paprika. While that cooks, turn your oven to preheat to 375 degrees. I also lay out some tortilla chips in one flat and even layer. I spread the cooked beef over that. And sprinkle a generous amount of shredded cheese on top. Into the oven it goes until the cheese is melted. Look at that goodness. Melted cheese and meat. Some people would eat this as is. But I like to add toppings. Variety is good sometimes. So I prepped some guacamole, sweet corn, sour cream, and sliced pepperoncini. I layered all these wonderful things onto the chip and ate each piece happily and hungrily. This was really good. And I would definitely make this again. But a couple of notes. Some of the chips got soft from the meat. Next time, I was spoon the beef onto some paper towels to soak up the excess juices and oil. Also, it slid off the chips sometimes. I might do a layer of cheese, then meat, then cheese again in the future. Also, I would add black beans into the toppings list. Otherwise, it's a make whatever you like kind of meal. Everyone is happy. I certainly was. Read more...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lunch Week 33: Stuffed Bell Peppers

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: Stuffed Bell Peppers Going back on the healthy route, a veggie heavy lunch. So tons of vegetables in a vegetable? Okay! Of course, some lean protein (ground turkey), and carbs (brown rice) is added. A well balanced lunch. So I start off with some green bell peppers. I split the peppers in half, remove the seeds, and dry them off. Next, I sauteed a bunch of vegetables. I made sure to cut them into the same similar small sizes. Into the pan, onions, garlic, carrots, and celery. Next, the ground turkey. I sauteed it until browned and cooked through. I combined everything in a bowl along with peas and corn (frozen, then defrosted). I also added some leftover feta cheese for some creaminess. I took each individual pepper and stuffed it with the filling. Then into the oven at 350oF for about 30 minutes until the peppers soften. The stuffed bell pepper is just okay. The filling was a little dry and could have used some kind of sauce or gravy. Also, more cheese would have been nice. That would have definitely held the filling together more. But alas, healthiness came first. Read more...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Zigolini's Pizza Bar

A new pizza bar opened up in my neighborhood and I wanted to try it out. It wasn't going to replace my go-to place but I was had a hunger for fancy pizza. That's what I call neapolitan pizza these days. You see, I grew up on Brooklyn/NYC style pizza. Big sliced with sauce, cheese, and thin crusts. Each pie gave you 8 giant slices. These new places opening up every where serve small pies; some even individual. They have these exotic ingredients. And so, I deem them fancy pizza. Zigolini's was packed the one day I went after work with Mr. Meat & Potatoes. We waited a short while. However, we had some time to look over and discuss the menu. By the time we were seated, we knew exactly what we wanted. We started with the bruschetta (~$15). It came with 3 different kinds. One with tomatoes, basil, and oil, another with summer veggies, and a third with prosciutto. All were good and savory. It whet my appetite. And filling enough to keep me happy until my pizza arrived. I was surprised to find the bruschetta on flat bread. I'm used to more crunchy, sliced Italian bread. But this made it much easier to eat and share. Also, there's that small thing in the middle. I didn't know what it was but I ate it and it was delicious. a stuffed pepper maybe? But it was sweet and creamy but tangy from the pepper. Then we ordered the special pizza with vongole/clams (~$20). I really like clam pizza but find that many places do it improperly. When this hit our table, I was happy to see it. Lots of chopped up clam pieces. No cheese. Light sauce. Lots of herbs and garlic. And this is the upskirt. Nice char on the bottom. Unfortunately, it was an illusion. The crust was super soft. No crunch at all. In fact, my slice sagged and needed to be double handed when moved from the pan to my plate. I wasn't sure if the overload of clams were the issue. Maybe being too heavy for this delicate crust. Or it just wasn't cooked properly. Whatever the case may be, I was disappointed. Here's a close up of the pizza toppings. See the clams, olives, basil, and garlic? Mmm, the flavor of the pizza was pretty good. Unfortunate of the crust though. I finished off the meal with some salted caramel gelato ($6). This came and it was a happy surprise! It was gelato with a salted caramel sauce! Normally, I get the caramel already mixed in. I have to say, this was really good. The sweet cream was contrasted with the saltiness of the caramel. I licked this bowl clean. And lastly, the offered this to us at the end: some free tiramisu. I was full by now and didn't really feel like destroying the salty taste in my mouth with something sweet. But I had to taste it anyway. It was okay. The coffee flavor wasn't too strong except for the beans on top. It was mostly the creme and small lady fingers. Lackluster to me. Though, I'm not a huge fan of tiramisu in the first place. I may be a bad judge. Overall, Zigolini's was good. The bruschetta was okay. Forgettable but did it's job. The pizza flavor was good but the crust was bad. The gelato was stupendous and would definitely just go back with that. In terms of service, it was on and off. They were a couple of new people that seemed confused the whole night. They didn't even know the menu well. However, when they lacked, the upper management shined. They came around and checked on us. When our server looked confused, they stepped in and helped out. Zigolini's is new and has a few kinks to work out. Once they do, this should be a good place to go to over and over again. Zigolini's Pizza Bar 675a 9th Avenue New York, NY 10036 (212) 333-3900 pizzabarnyc.com Read more...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

QBA Kitchen

I'm always looking to try new food trucks around the Midtown area. I like to have variety when I actually have to go out and buy food. So I read on twitter that the new-ish QBA Kitchen truck was going to be around the area. They're a Cuban food truck. Score! I was hoping for another sandwich to cap off my awesome sandwiches for lunch week. On a hot, muggy, and slightly rainy day, I walked over to where they were parked. No one was on line? Was it the weather? Have I missed something in the food news about this truck? They took my order for a cuban sandwich ($7) and fried maduros ($2). It came with a drink. I picked the limeade (usually $1). I waited briefly and received my order. I walked back to my cubicle and dug out my prize. Not a bad looking lunch I must say. Here is the Cubano sandwich with seasoned pork, ham, cheese, and pickle. It was okay. I wish it was pressed some more for a nice crunch to the bread. Otherwise, I was satisfied with it. It wasn't a gut bomb which let to a more productive day at work later. And here are the maduros which are cooked plantains. I love plantains and these were okay for me. I wish they were cooked just a little but more. They still had a hardish texture to them. But the flavor was nice. Sweet but not overly so. I have to say that the limeade was kickass. A really nice overall lime flavor without tasting fake or sickeningly sweet. It was really refreshing on that kind of summer day. I would go back to QBA Kitchen. I heard they revamped their menu since I've last been. And I'm interested in trying their other options. They're new-ish so they have a few kinks to work out. Other than that, my first meal satisfying enough for me. QBA Kitchen 973-687-2000 qbacubankitchen.net Read more...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Grand Central Oyster Bar

Oh Grand Central Oyster Bar, why have I forsaken you so!? It's been so long and you've only been good to me. All those delicious seafood delicacies. Oh wait, yeah my wallet couldn't take it anymore. But, they have some affordable lunch options that I haven't partaken in yet. And today would be the day! Below is the main entrance to the restaurant. If you want waiter service, go in and turn to the left for the host/hostess. If you want to sit at a bar-like setting, go in and turn right and take a seat. If you're looking for some take out lunch item, walk to the right of the main entrance and you'll find this lovely take-out window. How convenient! The menu is plastered right in front of you inside. However, I only had one thing on my mind: Oyster Po Boy ($9). Though they had that delectable She Crab Soup that everyone talks about. But a 95 degree day says no to soup for me. I make my order and wait for it to be prepared. I walk back to the office and find this beauty. It's about less than 6 inches long. But it's thick. A peek inside and I find big pieces of freshly fried oysters plump with juiciness. I'm not sure if they normally serve the tartar sauce on the side. The woman in front of me order sauce on the side. Whatever the case is, I needed all of it for the sandwich. The bread was kind of dry. I also added the lettuce on the side. I like the ratio of greens to meats to bread in sandwiches. So what did I think? Awesomeness. I really enjoy a goo po boy. And fresh oysters are hard to come by in Midtown. The price isn't hard on the wallet and I was definitely full after this. Mmm, a very good lunch indeed. Grand Central Oyster Bar 89 E 42nd St New York, NY 10017-5503 (212) 490-6650 oysterbarny.com Read more...