Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cooking: Baked Breakfast

Now back to cooking something I know I can make well. Sometimes cooking breakfast is the last thing I want to do in the morning. But prepping something ahead of time is always good for me. So here's my easy recipe for a baked breakfast dish. Start with some old crusty bread. Cut into cubes.

Then into a pan with olive oil. Toast until crunchy on all sides. Remove and set aside.

In the same pan, cook up some sausage. I used the last of my Vermont sausage. It was maple syrup flavored.
And here are the beauties.
Remove the meat from the casings and brown on all sides using the same pan as the bread. Just remember to add a little more oil first. Once cooked through, remove from pan on some paper towels to blot some of the oil out.
In a baking dish add the croutons and some chives. Use any herb that you like but I especially enjoy chives in the morning.
Add the sausage and some prepared tomato sauce. I used some of my homemade marinara with parmesan cheese. Mix thoroughly.
If you like it extra cheesy, add more grated cheese on top and mix well.
Lastly, indent 4 craters into the stuffing mixture. You can use the back of a spoon to do this. Then carefully crack an egg into each of the craters.
Into the oven until the stuffing is heated through and the eggs are cooked to your consistency. Keep in mind of any residual heat will continue to cook the eggs after the dish has been taken out of the oven. Unfortunately, I forgot this crucial tip and had almost hard boiled eggs instead of runny eggs (which I love!).
So what did the rest of the dish taste like? Like awesome! I really enjoyed the balance of savory tomato and cheese sauce with the sweet maple sausages. The chives added just a bit of green. The bread was crispy and delicious. I just wish the eggs weren't overcooked. Oh well, I will make this again. And next time, I will have the perfect eggs!
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Monday, November 29, 2010

Cooking: Chicken Liver Crostini

I've been recently watching a lot of Molto Mario on the cooking channel. Although I think a bunch of his recipes are difficult, I still find some inspiring ones. However, in every episode, he gives some pretty good tips and I love the Italian history lessons. So one day he was making a bunch of different crostini. One specific one called out to me: the chicken liver crostini. It was unique and I really wanted to relive the experience I had at Convivio a while ago. So off I went to buy the ingredients for this recipe. First, some bread. I bought a loaf of crusty bread (forget what kind) from Amy's Bread. I put it in the toaster oven for some nice browning.

And now the liver part. I first sauteed some onions down. I added  the livers, anchovies, and capers.

It also called for some red wine.
I poured that into the pan and simmered away until the livers were cooked through.
Then into the food processor to blend until smooth.
I smeared each piece of bread with the liver.
Then drizzled each piece with some balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
So how did it taste? Terrible!! I never seems to get that harsh irony taste out. Also, my stomach did not react well to this at all. Let's just say it didn't stay down long enough for me to eat a second piece. But Ms. Lollipop seemed to like and continued to eat 3 pieces! Wow! I guess people really do react to foods differently.

In all honesty, I probably did something wrong. I've had liver before and liked it! I guess I just don't know how to make it. I'll leave it to the professionals next time.

Recipe by Food Network.com
Tusca Crostini: Crostini Toscane
Recipe courtesy Mario Batali

Prep Time:
1 min
Inactive Prep Time:
--
Cook Time:
40 min

Level:
Easy

Serves:
4 servings

Ingredients

* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 medium red onion, cut into 1/8-inch dice
* 1 tablespoon salt packed capers, rinsed and drained
* 2 tablespoons anchovy paste, or 4 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry
* 1/2 pound chicken livers
* 1/2 cup dry red wine, Chianti
* 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* Pinch chili flakes
* 1/4 bunch parsley leaves, chopped
* 8 (1-inch thick) slices Italian peasant bread

Directions

In a 12-inch skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat until just smoking. Add the onion, capers, and anchovy paste, and cook until the mixture is golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the chicken livers and stir until lightly browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and balsamic vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and let the mixture simmer for 15 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.

Using a potato masher, mash the mixture so that it is lumpy. Stir in the chili flakes and parsley.

Toast the bread until golden brown and place on serving plates. Spread equal amounts of the liver mixture over 1 side of each piece of bread and serve immediately.
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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Brasserie 360

I met up with Ms. Lollipop for lunch one day before we headed out for some needed shopping. Our original choice, Hide Chan Ramen, was closed for lunch on the weekends. Oops! So we pondered a bit and ended up at Brasserie 360 instead.

I wasn't feeling too hungry so I ordered a roasted beet salad ($12). And this monstrosity was put out in front of me. What the hell?! I think this was listed under appetizers. It was ridiculously big. Mostly frisee greens but still!

Here's a better close up of the roasted beets and herbed goat cheese. The beet was mediocre. I wasn't sure if they roasted it themselves. But it was sweet enough for me so I ate it all up. The goat cheese was a little overwhelming though. The large chunks were a little too much for me. As for the frisee and asparagus, there was just too much. Balance wasn't there and dressing was absolutely minimal. I felt like I was eating raw greens for most of the meal. Oh, and there were a few slices of poached pears. Hmm, seemed canned to me. But I could be wrong.

She ordered the Croque Monsieur ($12) with is a ham and swiss sandwich covered in a bechamel cream sauce. It came with come sweet potato fries and a pickle.
And this what the inside looks like. She enjoyed this very much. I think it was also her first croque monsieur. I think she liked the bechamel sauce.
Brasserie 360 suffers from too big portions and lackluster food. I think if they focused on smaller portions and better food, it would be much better. However, I would like state that most of the partonage when we were there were tourists. And they certainly were catering to them very well. So if they're making money and people are enjoying it, then they are doing something right. Just not right for me.

Brasserie 360
206 East 60th Street
New York, NY 10022-1463
(212) 688-8688
brasserie360nyc.com
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Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Breslin with Urbanspoon

I was recently invited to a breakfast outing with Urbanspoon. They picked The Breslin as the restaurant to gather and chat. I was quite excited since I haven't been to this particular restaurant yet. I always like to try new places.

The menu was pretty good and had enough variety to satisfy any palate. And so they went and pretty much ordered the entire menu.

First were some thrice cooked chips. These were really crispy spuds! Well seasoned and a side of mustard and pickles. I would have loved to have these by myself but sharing was key at this party.

Some bangers came out and they seemed really plump and juicy. Once we cut into it, it was totally what I expected. Nice snap of the skin, and flavorful meat stuffed inside that casing. I enjoyed these.
Some bacon was also ordered. These weren't cooked too crispy which is the way I like it. Nice and pliable. Cured and smoked, this was bacon-y good.
A variety of baked good came out and I completely vultured over to the croissant. I have a weakness for buttery, flaky goods. And this was certainly one of those. Still warm and soft, I enjoyed it. I split it in half even though I wanted to devour the entire thing.
Here's a goat cheese and leek tart served with a side of watercress. This was just okay for me. The leeks were completely masked by the stronger goat cheese. And the tart part was too thick. It was difficult to cut through and manage.
And one of my favorite dishes of the morning: the 3 cheese sandwich. What made this so good? The cheese was fully melted and gooey. But serisouly, they used a lot of butter on the bread which made it so crunchy and delicious. Well done.
I think these were roasted potatoes. They had a nice caramelization going on which added tons of flavor. A sprinkle of greens to lighten it up which made it a nice side.
One of the crowd favorite was this monstrosity: a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich. Look at that ooey, gooed peanut butter. Some banana slices were to be had inside as well. The outside was crispy, crunchy. People were very happy with this.
And here's their full English breakfast with some sausage, bacon, mushrooms, and eggs. I tried an egg and some mushrooms. The egg was nice and the yolk was runny. Heavenly! But the mushroom was so over salted. Pretty inedible. It was a complete surprise in my mouth that I needed to wash it down with the coffee.
Halfway through the morning, I had an important call to field. So I stepped out for a moment. Unfortunately, during this time, they had brought in more food. And I missed the pretty pictures. So instead, I was left with half eaten plates. Sorry! This is what the seafood sausage would have been. There's just a small piece left which I happily took. The sausage was just okay. It didn't really taste like seafood to me. It was slightly creamy which made me think that the beurre blanc was added to the stuffing. If that were the case, then it would have masked the flavors of the seafood.
I think this was another grilled cheese sandwich but with an egg this time. It looks like a runny egg. Oh dear! Why did I miss this?!
These were poached eggs with curries lentils. Mmm, really enjoyed this. Not only do I LOVE poached eggs but they also had lentils which I also enjoy very much. If I were to come back, I would totally get this.
This was the seasonal frittata with ricotta cheese. I tried a bit of this but unfortunately it had already gone cold when I tried it. I wouldn't think that would be a good judge of what this would be like when hot from the kitchen.
And lastly, peanut butter and grape syrup. This was truly for a person with a sweet tooth. I was apprehensive to try this. I'm not a sweets person at all. All that syrup looked daunting. So I skipped it and left it for those for were oohing and aahing over it.
The Breslin provided really good food for us. We enjoyed it very much. The service was quick and friendly. The food was delicious. My favorites were the grilled cheese sandwich and the poached eggs. If I had the grilled cheese with eggs, then I would've been in heaven. My only gripe would be the coffee. It was served in a French press which is normally fine with me. But it was really murky, and thick. I think they used a fine ground coffee instead of course. It wasn't very pleasant. Nonetheless, I would come back for the food for sure.

The Breslin
16 West 29th Street
New York, NY 10001
(212) 685-9600
thebreslin.com
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Friday, November 26, 2010

Cooking: Parmesan Roast Potatoes

I really enjoy potatoes. They're one of my most favorite things to eat, behind eggs. So the other day, I grabbed a bag of fingerling potatoes. I was drawn by the variety that was offered. So off I went a made a meal of these delicious spuds.

A quick wash and scrub then sliced in half. The large pieces were quartered. The smaller pieces were left whole. The some salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and oil. Into the toasted oven at 375oF for about 30 minutes until I hear the sounds of the skins crisping up.

Immediately after I plate then, I throw on some chives and grated parmesan cheese.
I let it briefly cool then I dove right in. The potatoes were crispy on the outside but soft and buttery on the inside. So nice! The residual heat from the spuds melted the cheese just a little bit which made it so nutty. The strong flavor of the cheese complimented the lighter flavor of the potatoes. The chives added a nice freshness to the dish. It made it just a tad lighter which was welcomed by the end of the dish.
This was so easy to make but satisfied me to much. I love dishes like these! Also, this would make a great side dish to any meal. But sometimes, I like to have side dishes as my main. Just like today!
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Whiskey Rebel

Another Midtown Lunch Happy Hour. This time with more food in tow. Sorry but I'm still working with the camera on my phone and it's very poor in low light. However, I'll tell you about what kind of food was there. Some curry fried rice from MadJac, Asian snacks from TT, banh mi from myself, and proscuitto and cheese sandwiches from Goats.

Here's a closer look at the Asian snacks and Italian sandwich.

And a Nutella cupcake made by Yvo of Feisty Foodie. Melted right in my mouth. Oh yes more please!

And beer cheese. My definite favorite of the night!! Served with what else? Beer bread! Amazing! Good job M!
CT brought in some kati rolls later in the night. I tried the paneer one. Not bad. The cheese was kind of weird because it was a whole chunk. I thought it was have been served better shredded or even just cut up. Oh well. I munched up the whole thing anyway.
Whiskey Rebel was really cool about us bringing in so much food. They don't service any food besides popcorn, I think. We kept ordering lots of drinks of them and were completely nice. My drinks weren't watered down and had a nice kick from it. I would definitely come back with more food in tow.

Whiskey Rebel
129 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10016
(212)868-3800
whiskeyrebelnyc.com
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Caracas Arepas Bar

One random afternoon, I had some business to settle in the East Village. It was also during the work week so I decided to grab some lunch while I was there. I wanted to try some place new and finally though that I had been wanting to go to Caracas Arepa bar for a really long time. Every time we try, it's always crowded. But on this sunny Thursday afternoon, it was bearable. a quick peruse of the menu and I decided on their lunch combo with included 1 arepa and 1 salad (~$8).

I picked the La Surena arepa which had chorizo, grilled chicken, avocado, and chimichurri sauce.

And here's a closer look at it. Look at the delicious chorizo. Oooh, nice fatty spiced pork. I liked the chorizo because it had a nice crispy snap to it. The chicken was a little bland compared to it but that was to be expected. Chorizo is just packed with a lot of flavor. The avocado was smooth and creamy. While the chimichurri sauce added a nice freshness to the whole sandwich. Oh and the arepa breading which is corn based was good. It had a nice crust which helped hold the thing together but the innard were slightly softer which gave way to the stuffing.

And here's the salad. Yeah, it was a little mediocre but the greens were fresh and they had asparagus hearts. That's pretty uncommon for a side salad. I enjoyed those very much.

The food from Caracas Arepas Bar was pretty good. I can see myself coming back here when there's no line out the door. The service while I waited for my food was good as well. They were nice and attentive. They even offered some water while I waited. I'd be back.

Caracas Arepa Bar
91 East 7th Street
New York, NY 10009-5729
(212) 228-5062
caracasarepabar.com
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