Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday Nights: The Blind Pig

Towards the end of the last year, my friends thought that we weren't hanging out enough. It's true, we weren't. So they started Tuesday night get-togethers. Every Tuesday, we'll pick a bar to drink, eat, and hang out for a couple of hours. Whoever can make it will attend. If you're busy, it's okay. There's always next week. So this is Tuesday Nights on Tasty Eating where you will find bars that serve food and how we like them.

On this recent Tuesday Night, we headed out to: The Blind Pig
 Ah, we're trying out new places. Yes! This time, we're in Chelsea at a bar named after an era of prohibition. "Blind Pig" used to be the term used for establishments that sold or served alcohol during the Prohibition Era. However, this modern bar isn't a speakeasy all. There's no hidden doorway or secret password. They don't think they're holier than thou.

Anyway, they serve a more interesting variety of draft beer then your normal pub in NYC. But it's in no means impressive. They do have a lot of different bottles that would make a lot of people happy.
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Monday, January 30, 2012

Rubirosa

A while ago, a group of us went out to celebrate our dear friend KC's birthday. She Italian through and through and we all love her. So what better way to celebrate that at Rubirosa for an Italian feast!
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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Parsi Food

Whenever there are people over at my Parsi families house, the food is extra special. What can I say, Mrs. Executive Chef likes to entertain and so do I. It's something we have in common. To start, there's always an abundance of cheese. Right up my alley!! There's port salut, monterey jack, and little nubbins of some leftover ones. There's also a small spread of spinach artichoke dip.

For dinner, we had some chicken in dunsak over biryani, beef kevabs, and salad. I helped myself to some mango preserves. It goes really well with the chicken and rice.

And for dessert, a homemade funfetti cake a la mode. And Mr. HP Sauce made a chocolate cake to share too.

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cooking: Meatballs

Oh meatballs. You are so delicious. And yet there are so many ways to make you. And so many ways to eat you. I'm still trying to perfect my meatball. I haven't made one that I loved yet. Sure they care good but I want them to be amazing. So here I went to make another batch of meatballs using some different ingredients.

I started with the ground beef. I know some people mix in pork and/or veal. I've done so in the past too. But I went with straight beef this time. I don't like to use very lean beef in my meatballs. They become too stiff. To the ground beef, I added salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

I also added fresh ricotta cheese, parsely, scallions, bread crumbs,and grated pecorino cheese.
I mixed everything up together evenly using my hands. I truly believe this is a dirty hand job. Roll up your sleeves and get working.
Then form them into balls and line on an oil baking sheet. Bake in the oven at 350oF until browned, about 30-60 minutes depending on the size of your meatballs.
Here's a better look at them. I rolled them evenly in my palms until uniform and tight.
And here they are all done. Some of the cheese oozed out which was expected. It wasn't wasted though. I had a good time nibbling on the cheese.
So how did the meatballs come out? Just okay. They seemed slightly dried out which was a bummer. But this experiment has totally justified my desire to pan fry the meatballs in the future. I used to pan fry them then cook in a pot of marinara sauce. But I wanted to switch things up a bit and try baking. Besides, baking it so much easier. But the result may not be tastier. Oh well, I threw the meatballs with some pasta and sauce and it was good to go.
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Carl's Steaks

My good friend, TC invited me along to lunch one day. He had a coupon to Carl's Steaks that he wanted to use. I've never been to Carl's so I wanted to give it a try. Besides, Philly cheesesteaks are pretty awesome.

When we arrived, the place was kind of busy but mostly with people doing take out. There are a few small tables in the back for people who want to eat in. Getting one of these tables is hit or miss. Anyway, we ordered and waited for our food to come out. The smell of the meat cooking on the flat top is hypnotizing. Our meal finally came and I was excited. I had the cheesesteak sandwich ($7.25) with cheez whiz and onions. It came out hot and gooey. It was a messy sandwich but that's the way it's supposed to be. It was everything that I hoped it would be. Fattening, delicious, meaty, cheesey, and filling.

The fries ($2.50) were very good as well. Fried until golden and seasoned properly. They crunched under my teeth and released it's soft potato center. I love a good fry.

The meal at Carl's cheesesteak was solid. It's a way a cheesesteak is supposed to taste. Oh, and it's one of (if not the only) time I eat cheese product. Anyway, the only complaint that I have is the drink. They do fountain drinks and I opted for the iced tea. It was practically all syrup. Not good. But just a small mishap which I'm sure they have fixed since.

Thanks to TC for the meal. I wanted to nap at my desk after that. HAHA!

Carl's Cheesesteak
507 3rd Avenue
New York, NY 10016-4701
(212) 696-5336
carlsteaks.com
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cooking: Buffalo Chicken Mac N Cheese

There are very few times that I come up with a recipe that is truly my own. But when it does happen and it's delicious, I'm so very proud of it. This is such the case for Buffalo Chicken Mac n Cheese. I was intrigued one day with my friend's Buffalo Chicken salad. I thought that strong flavor and smell would go really well with mac n cheese. And so my brain starting churning. I scoured the internet for recipes but did not like any one of them. They all mostly resembled buffalo chicken dip using the white meat of the chicken and shredded. Nope, not good enough for me. So, I brainstormed and came up with my own rendition and it's so much better.

You start off with the chicken. I use dark meat only. Why? Because it tastes better and it's juicier. Duh! Pat the chicken thighs dry and trim off excess fat. Then dice into small bite sized pieces. Season with salt, pepper, and chili powder/cayenne (or both). The more spice you add, obviously the spicier it will be.

And now the dredging. This part is important. Don't go and buy pre-breaded chicken. It won't taste the same. There will be no layering of spices and heat. If you don't care about any of these, then go ahead and do the shortcut which, again, I do NOT recommend. Anyway, prep your all purpose flour with salt, pepper, and chili/cayenne powder.

To your eggs, add a generous splash of Tabasco sauce.
And to your seasoned bread crumbs, add the chili/cayenne powder. Again, the more you add, the spicier it will be. Keep in mind that the cheese will mellow out the spice level so it's better to go heavier than lighter.
Toss the chicken into the flour to coat evenly. Then shake off the excess. Then into the egg, then the breadcrumbs. Place on sheetpan in one even layer. Bake in the oven at 375oF for about 30-45 minutes until cooked through. In the meantime, shred your cheese. Shredding it allows it to melt easily and evenly. Also, this is a good time to cook your pasta. Keep in mind to cook it under al dente. It'll continue to cook in the oven when you bake the whole thing together.
And prep your buffalo wing sauce. Here I melted some butter and added the Frank's Buffalo Wing sauce to it.
When the chicken is cooked, place in bowl and toss with hot buffalo wing sauce. Coat evenly.
Place in pan with pasta. Toss to combine.
And now the cheese sauce. Melt some butter in a pot.
Then add flour to create a thickening agent, the roux. Cook for a few minutes until the raw flour taste is gone. Do NOT actually taste it. It will burn your tongue. Then add milk in a slow stream and whisk to combine. This helps prevent lumps. Then add cheese and stir until melted. Lastly, add another bottle of Frank's Buffalo Wing sauce.
Add the entire thing to the pasta and chicken. Stir gently to incorporate all  the cheese sauce in every nook and cranny.
And here is where things have changed. I used to top it with blue cheese dressing then the breadcrumb topping. But I find that it better to do it the other way around now.
So toasted bread crumb topping first. I like to toast it in butter and then mix with parmesiano cheese. Cover with foil. Bake in the oven at 375oF for about 30-45 minutes until bubbling. Then remove foil and continue baking for 10 minutes to brown the top. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.
Last step is to serve with blue cheese dressing on top. Of course, you can skip this step if you don't like blue cheese.
Not to toot my own horn but this is a really good dish. It also works as a great party dish because you can easily make it ahead of time and refrigerate it until ready. You can even freeze it though the texture may be a bit off. Anyway, I love the tang of the buffalo sauce with the meatiness of the chicken and the chewiness of the pasta. Oh, the pasta, I like to use the spirals instead of elbows. I think it holds up better to the large pieces of chicken. But use whatever you please.

Buffalo Chicken Mac and cheese

This recipe is for 1 party tray size.

2-2.5 lbs of skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Tabasco
Cayenne pepper
Salt
Ground black pepper
Plain bread crumbs
Flour
3-4 Eggs
1 lb of american cheese (cut up into pieces)
1 lb of cheddar cheese (cut up into pieces)
1 stick Butter
1 qrt Milk
2 bottles of Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce
1 lb pasta
1 jar of Marie's Super Blue Cheese Dressing (found in the produce section)*
Oil
Non-stick spray (ex. Pam)
Large baking sheet
Large foil tray (lasagna or roaster size)
Large pot
Whisk

Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick spray.

1. Cut chicken into bite size pieces. Keep in mind that they tend to shrink when cooked.
2. Marinate chicken with salt, pepper, and cayenne.
3. Prepare three bowls for breading station: flour, eggs (beaten), bread crumbs.
4. Add cayenne to flour. Add tabasco into eggs. Add cayenne to break crumbs. This is where you can control the heat of the dish. The more you add, the hotter it is. I tend to add cayenne and tabasco until each bowl turns a light-medium orange color. Remember, the cheese mellows the taste out later.
5. In steps, flour chicken, then dip in egg mixture, and the bread crumbs. Make sure to shake any excess off in each step and afterwards. Place chicken onto sprayed baking sheet in one even layer. It's okay if they touch.
6. Bake chicken until cooked. About 30 min.
7. In the meantime, boil large pot of water for pasta. When boiling, add salt and oil before pasta. Cook pasta according to box.
8. Drain pasta, and place in large foil pan. Add more oil if needed to prevent sticking.
9. In the meantime, melt a half stick of butter on low heat. Add one bottle of Frank's Buffalo Wing sauce. Stir to combine.
10. When chicken is cooked, quickly remove from oven and right into the butter and wing sauce. Coat evenly. Remove from heat. Add to large foil pan with pasta. Mix together gently.
11. Melt half a stick of butter on medium heat. Add 4 tablespoons of flour to create a roux (thickening agent). Cook for 5 minutes while stirring.
12. Add milk slowly in a stream while whisking. This helps prevent lumps.
13. When milk comes to a simmer, add cheese and mix.
14. When combined, add last bottle of Frank's buffalo wing sauce. Mix well.
15. Remove from heat and add to pan with pasta and chicken.
16. Top with more breadcrumbs, toasted with butter. Also use parmesiano cheese too, if desired.
17. Bake in oven until bubbling (30-45 min).
18. Remove, let cool.
*19. Drizzle Marie's Super Blue cheese dressing on top. (Omit this step if you do not like blue cheese)
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lunch Week 4: Open Faced Sabich

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: Open Faced Sabich
 I wanted to keep going with this whole vegetarian lunch. I've been feeling quite good since I've started it and I still feel satisfied. I think the key is to keep it interesting and of course delicious.

I knew I didn't want to eat salad again this week so I had to be a little more creative. I thought about having eggplant parmersiano but didn't feel like eating that much cheese. But fried eggplant sounded so good to me. I was browsing the web and came across Taim again. I was reminded of my sabich lunch that day from Taim. It was really good. And the side of falafel was fantastic. Hmm, what if I combined the two? Oh man, that would be awesome. So I made an open faced Sabich with falafel.
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tuesday Nights: Southern Hospitality

Towards the end of the last year, my friends thought that we weren't hanging out enough. It's true, we weren't. So they started Tuesday night get-togethers. Every Tuesday, we'll pick a bar to drink, eat, and hang out for a couple of hours. Whoever can make it will attend. If you're busy, it's okay. There's always next week. So this is Tuesday Nights on Tasty Eating where you will find bars that serve food and how we like them.

On this recent Tuesday Night, we headed out to: Southern Hospitality
I've always been curious about Southern Hospitality. They serve barbecue BBQ which I love eating. So when a Tuesday Night came around and no one had any ideas, I suggested it. Also, it's in my neighborhood: Hell's Kitchen.
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Lunar New Year Dinner with Friends at China Pearl

Recently, a few friends and I have been celebrating Lunar New Year together. Last year, we were kind of disappointed by our meal. But this year, the Feisty Foodie picked a place that she was much more familiar with. Yes, China Pearl. The tried and true place that the Feisty Family likes to patron. I was more than happy to finally try it. So with the Feisty Foodie, TC, Nommables, and friends, we ate and ate.

When I arrived, I knew the decor would be sparse as most Cantonese places are. It reminded me of my childhood though. Hole in the wall type places that serve up good food. I was down for the meal to come.
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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Even When Sick, Family Dinners are the BEST!

Sometimes, my Parsi families likes to switch up and make non-Indian food. This doesn't happen often but it's refreshing sometimes. Unfortunately, I was feeling under the weather on this day and didn't get to eat and taste as much as I would have liked.

Mrs. Executive Chef made some chicken and mushrooms in a ginger sauce which was nice. It played on the sweet and spicy flavors. I definitely could taste the ginger even through my stuffy nose.
Some nice light sauteed spinach with garlic. I had just a little bit of this because I was avoiding dairy. I didn't want to become phlegmy.
And a butternut squash gratin which I dearly missed. All that dairy and cheese really wouldn't have done well with me. I love butternut squash and cheese. Damn my sickness!
And of course, can't have dinner without salad. She just makes this simple salad but it's so good! Spring mix, avocado, mushrooms, cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions. Lightly dressed with oil and balsamic vinegar.
Knowing that I wasn't feeling well, Mrs. Executive chef made sure that had plenty to eat. So dundar was on the table which is definitely soul comforting food. Warm, thick, and filling. This is what I needed.
Of course we need some rice with that. It's best with white rice.
And to finish off the meal, we had a lovely cake from Ms. Pastry Chef.
And a new one this year. It's a carrot cake! Oooh, soo moist! And cream cheese frosting which I tried not to devour. You know, tried.
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Saturday, January 21, 2012

PJ's Pancake House

After a long night and sleeping in, we all headed out to Princeton for some breakfast before heading home. Of course we had to go to PJ's Pancake House. A no frills dinner place that offers delicious fluffy pancakes. Simple and so good.

Most people got a combination of pancakes and eggs with or without meat. I had the Two-Fer Breakfast which is 2 fluffy plain pancakes with a side of eggs, sausage, and bacon ($9). It is always more than enough for me but I love the combination of savory and sweet. Besides, I always need my eggs. Nice runny yellow yolks. Oooh so good!

Ms. Lollipop is the only one who didn't get pancakes that day even though we told her this is what they are known for. Instead she had the Lox, Stock, and Bagel ($10) which is a bagel sandwich with sliced salmon lox, onion, capers, and cream cheese.
We all enjoyed our pancakes as they were superb in every way. And cheap! Not sure how Ms. Lollipop enjoyed her bagel and lox sandwich. She finished it but wasn't openly voicing the deliciousness of PJ's Pancake House. We tried giving her sage advice. Oh well.

PJ's Pancake House
154 Nassau Street
Princeton, NJ 08540
(609) 924-1353
pjspancakes.com‎
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Friday, January 20, 2012

Parsi Dinner

My friends are pretty lucky to know me. Hahaha! Joking! What I'm getting at is that they were invited to my Parsi Family's home for some home cooked Indian food. Not just any kind of Indian food which is widely available all across NYC. It is Parsi food which is very different. They use similar spices but the amount and the method of cooking is different. I enjoy both naturally but have a soft spot for Parsi food. So on this glorious night, we had kolmi na curry (shrimp curry), pattis (ground beef stuffed mashed potato balls, mergi tikka (chicken tikka), white rice, salad, and bread.

Here's my plate of deliciousness. A little of everything, especially an egg from the curry. I love those things and Mrs. Executive Chef always put in extra for me! I feel loved. Anyway, everyone went for seconds and even thirds. Yeah, it was THAT good. I'm not lying, people!

Dessert was provided by Mr. Matzo Ball with an Italian Rainbow Cake
And homemade red velvet cake from Ms. Pastry Chef.
Layers of soft red cake with tangy cream cheese frosting and a scoop of homemade ice cream to boot. Oh yeah! *kool-aid man style*
Dinner went really well. The food was awesome, as usual. The alcohol flowed. And Mrs. Executive Chef asked when we'll have people over again. Haha! Maybe a different set of friends will be lucky this time.
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