Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Le Relais de Venise

One night, Mr. M&P and I decided to go out to dinner to treat ourselves. We didn't want something fancy but we did want to try something new. I suggested Le Relais de Venise. I've read a lot about it but haven't tried it yet. He heard steak and was in.
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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bensi [CLOSED]

I do a lot of my errands in NJ. Why? It's cheaper and most of the stores are close together. I know, strip malls. One day I found myself hurled into a whole mess of errands to do and lunch back home wasn't an option. So we stopped off at the closest place that didn't look like a fast food joint: Bensi. This Italian restaurant (though several may be found across NJ and PA) wasn't very busy when we stepped in but several people were waiting for take out at their pizza station. We were there for a sit down lunch though.
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Monday, February 27, 2012

Take Out: Pam Real Thai

Pam Real Thai still remains my favorite neighborhood Thai restaurant. So one night, we ordered take out for dinner. To start, we had the spring rolls ($4). These fried rolled crepes were stuffed with cabbage, taro, carrot, and bean thread. It came with a side of plum sauce for dipping. They were just okay and satisfied my fried craving just fine. However, taste-wise, it wasn't anything special.
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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cooking: Ham

Growing up, I thought the spiral hams in the supermarket were the real deal. They were salty, briny, and tasted like a pork product. I loved them and still love them to this day. But it dawned on me recently that maybe I wasn't eating the real thing. Maybe there is something better out there. *gasp* Have I been bamboozled this whole time? There was only one way to find out and so I used my friends as guinea pigs...err, I mean I threw a dinner party for my friends.
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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Il Mondo Vecchio

Before the end of the last year, Mr. M&P and I went out to dinner in Madison, NJ. We had received a gift certificate for Il Mondo Vecchio which is an Italian restaurant that has been around since 1990. We've heard good things about it and was excited to try a new place.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Baidu Shabu Shabu/Mapo Szchuan

Hot pot is one of my most favorite things to do when it gets cold outside. When it's all-you-can-eat, it's even better. Sure I've been to Shanghai Tide before and enjoyed it very much. But I'm always for the lookout for new places.  So a little research and I came across Baidu Shabu Shabu or Mapo Szechuan. Not sure which is the proper name but there were 2 signs outside. I guess they cater to both cuisines.
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Take Out: Dolce & Clemente's

A new gourmet Italian grocer opened up near my Parsi family's home. It's called Dolce and Clemente's. It's really large. It offers both imported goods and prepared food for purchase. There was several sections to browse through like dried pasta, olive oil, vinegars, sweets, frozen foods, etc. Once inside, we were in awe of the variety and had to purchase from food to try out. We got a little of several prepared foods to try. As we reheated our bounty, we snacked on some thinly sliced prosciutto di parma. This is my test for a place. I love prosciutto and a good import always impresses me. So what did I think? It was fantastic. Buttery, soft, salty. The fat just melted in my mouth while the meat was tender and delicious. Definitely a must try.

Below is the penne vodka which was okay. I felt that the sauce was too thick which can happen when it's made ahead of time. The sauce just evaporates and thickens. It needs to be properly reheated on the stove. The microwave does it no justice. But the flavor was very pleasant.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Nan Xiang

I've been on a soup dumpling kick recently. Besides trying to perfect my own recipe, I've also been going out and eating them for, you know, research. So when the Feisty Foodie asked if I'd like to try out Nan Xiang in Flushing, I obliged. With a few more friends in tow like TC, Cheese, and Noah from Law and Food we headed out on a brisk night for some delicious food. We arrived on this weeknight to a sparsely filled room. Enough to make business but not enough for a table wait.
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Monday, February 20, 2012

Family Potluck

Once in awhile, I don't eat Parsi food with my Parsi family. It's usually when I offer to cook as well. I could try making Parsi food (I'm in the process of learning) but it doesn't come out nearly as good as Mrs. Executive Chef's food. I'm a work in progress. Anyway, near the holidays, I suggested that we do a family potluck. We wanted to have a sit down meal together since we were all bouncing around parties. Anyway, we decided to do Italian.  Mrs. Executive Chef made linguine with shrimp, mushrooms, and cheese. I pushed her to use parmesiano reggiano instead of the green tube. I think we all benefited from that decision. This came out really creamy and full of flavor. I love that she's so generous with the shrimp.
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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Jade Asian

Oh Jade Asian, how I love your dim sum. Clean, simple, delicious. It's been awhile since I last posted a dish by dish review for dim sum. It's difficult when you're with a large group. But some people don't mind my camera clicking away before they can attack the dish. So without further delay, my dim sum experience (one of many) at Jade Asian in Flushing, Queens.

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Baking: Ultimate Chocolate Cake

I'm always trying to perfect recipes. Not just any recipe, mind you; but classic ones. And chocolate cake has always been on the top of the mountain of dishes I'm trying to figure out. I'm not looking to make a good chocolate cake. I'm looking to make an outstanding cake. One that makes your eyes roll back. One that may give you death by chocolate but in a good way. And so here I'm working on my triple chocolate or ultimate chocolate cake. Looks pretty, no?

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Fancy Parsi Party Food

About once a year, Mrs. Executive Chef throws a fancy party. And this always mean fancy food. Oooh la la! She really goes all out with the menu so I'm always obliging when she asks me to help out that night. I help put food together, prep, and plate. I also help with the dishes afterward. It work during a party, sure. But it's all worth it.

We start with the appetizers. From left to right going clockwise: tarapooripatio (dried fish mixed in spices), cashews, munster cheese, and avocado relish (similar to chunky guacamole).

Also for appetizers, we had fried shrimp kevabs with green chutney. These were really good. You could taste and see large chunks of shrimp in each seafood meatball.

These are pora wrapped in tortilla. Pora is like a Parsi omelette with a flat pancake like egg with herbs and spices. I helped wrap each on in butter tortilla. These are really, really good.

And these are spinach kevabs. Little nuggets of creamy spinach. Really addicting too and you won't even notice you're eating a vegetable.
And then the main courses came out. This is lamb pulav which is a spiced rice dish with lamb. She puts eggs, fried onions, and cilantro on top.
With the rice, some people enjoy some dahi which is a yogurt based sauce but very thin. It brings a certain richness to everything.
And the oh so famous pattis. These balls of mashed potatoes stuffed with seasoned ground beef. They're always a crowd pleaser. Some guys even only ate this that night. Hahaha!
And my favorite dish of the night is shrimp masala. This was sooo good. I helped placing the grape tomatoes around the dish. Hahaha! Anyway, this was so good. The sauce was really rich and creamy and well spiced. It was really complicated in flavor. The shrimp were perfectly cooked and maintained their texture without becoming rubbery. A bowl of this over rice is all I ever need.
And it wouldn't be complete without Mrs. Executive Chef's signature salad. This one has pomegranate seeds since they were in season at the moment.
An accompaniment was rotli or naan. Whichever you prefer.
And tomato chutney for those who want a little extra oomph with their food.
Here is my plate. It's loaded with goodness. Oh man, soooo good. I'm literally drooling right now as I type up this post. And I'm not even hungry. I just had a huge lunch. But knowing how freaking good this meal was made me really, REALLY happy.
And for dessert, Ms. Pastry Chef brought out the big guns and made her special layered chocolate cake.
Look at all those layers. Oh man!! This is definitely for chocolate lovers.
She served it alongside fresh whipped cream and homemade dulce de leche ice cream. Please excuse the messiness of this plate. I was playing around with it. Her plates were much prettier. I just forgot to take a picture of it while I was having.
I don't know if there's any more to say than this meal rocked!
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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine's Day 2012: Charles Country Pan Fried Chicken

I love Valentine's Day. Not for the cards, nor chocolate, nor flowers. I get none of these things. Instead, every year on February 14th, I get a delicious fried chicken dinner with beer. This tradition started about 6 years ago humbly at KFC. It progressed from there to Bon Chon, to Hill Country Chicken, and now to Charles' Country Pan Fried Chicken. Oh yes, that place that seems to appear on every top 5 NYC fried chicken joint. The only caveat is that it's all the way up in Harlem. But why let location keep me away from some really delicious food?
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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lunch Week 7: Baked Eggs

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: Baked Eggs
 Eggs are a wonderful vehicle for vegetables. It adds a lot of heft while binding everything together. It also gives me the protein that I lack when I'm not eating meat. This week, I wanted to make something similar to baked eggs. But I know I couldn't successfully reheat runny eggs in the microwave. They just keep cooking until they are well done. And that's no fun. So I thought to whip up the eggs instead and create a frittata-like egg dish but in muffin form.
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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday Nights: Luca Bar

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: Luca Bar
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Monday, February 13, 2012

Cooking: Pernil

At the most recent FBM potluck, I made pernil. I always like to pick something that I've never done before and use my friends as guinea pigs. So far so good, right? The pernil was no exception. It came out moist, tender, and full of flavor. It was everything that I hoped it would be.
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Sunday, February 12, 2012

FBM Potluck 9

I can't imagine my life now without my FBM friends. They've become such an integral part of me and I look forward to hanging out with them. My favorite thing to do with them is definitely the potlucks. I think each of us have improved in our cooking skills so each subsequent potluck gets better and better. Whenever there is a potluck planned, I eat light in the morning and then go all out at the party. It's the FBM way. This time, TT and CT kindly hosted the get together. I arrived a little late due to the surprising amount of time I needed for my own dish. But when I arrived, I was presented with this (below)! Lots and lots of food. I was ready to eat!
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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dell'Anima

Okay, this is the last post about the 2011 Cookie Swap with the Feisty Foodie and KC. We met up at a restaurant as we usually do. Otto was thrown around again but naturally, I wanted to try something new. I have nothing against Otto and enjoy it very much but one of my few pleasure is to try new restaurants. I really do like to discover new places. So anyway, I suggested Dell'Anima because I've heard such wonderful things about it. The girls jumped on the idea and loved it as well.

When we arrived, the space was small but comfy. Don't come with large bags in hand like we did. The kitchen is open and you can see the chefs working hard. They say some of the best seats are the bar stool around the kitchen. We sat at a table for intimacy though.

We started off the meal with some appetizers. The Feisty Foodie had the Roasted Beets ($16) which she adored. The different varieties of beets were paired with pistachios, candied fennel, radish vinaigrette, and pecorino romano cheese. I tried a bite and it was delicious. The root vegetable was roasted until tender with a nice concentrated flavor. It was certainly a winter season dish but felt light.
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Friday, February 10, 2012

Cooking: Buffalo Wings

Buffalo wings are really easy to make. You basically only need 2 main ingredients: wings and sauce. The rest should be easily found in a regular pantry. Yeah, it's that easy. Trust me.
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Super Bowl 2012: GO GIANTS!

I didn't really care about the Super Bowl until my adult life. I didn't grow up watching sports so these championships didn't matter much to me. Sure the Yankees (I know, different sport) had a great run in the 90's but I didn't watch them play. That was then. Now that I'm betrothed to a sports fanatic, more often than not the TV is turned onto something sports related. The NY Giants is no exception. In fact, if they're playing, the game is definitely on the TV. So after years of learning the rules, team, and players I can finally call myself a football fan. More specifically, a NY Giants fan.


For the last few years, I spent Super Bowl Sunday in NJ with my Parsi family and Mr. M&P. We snack on delicious appetizers which is followed up with a Parsi dinner and dessert. This year, we toned down the appetizers because we used to fill up too much before dinner. We also started inviting people much earlier so that we would have more time in between meals.

So on the menu this year, we had: bhajia (Indian onion fritters) served with ketchup...

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lunch Week 6: Broccoli Rabe and Provolone Sandwich

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: Broccoli Rabe and Provolone Sandwich
 In my latest edition of Bon Appetit magazine, there was a recipe for a broccoli rabe grinder. I really enjoy eating broccoli rabe and this sandwich peaked my interest immediately. I quickly scanned the recipe and thought it was easily doable. Most of all, it sounded and looked delicious.
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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Baking: Nutter Butters

And now the last cookie I made for my annual cookie swap with the Feisty Foodie and KC: Nutter Butters!! Okay, so it just so turned out that every cookie I made this year was from Serious Eats. Some recipes turn out better than others but so far so good. Anyway, back to nutter butters. Oh man how I love these cookies. I don't buy them too often but not because I don't like them. It's because I love them too much. That peanut cookie with that peanut butter filling. Oh man, so good. So, I wanted to make my own nutter butters and see if they could stand up to the Nabisco kind.
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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesday Nights: Les Halles

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: Les Halles
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Monday, February 6, 2012

Baking: Chocolate Chubbies

I tried a bunch of new cookie recipes this year for my cookie swap with the Feisty Foodie and KC. But I wanted some classic flavors. So, naturally I had to add chocolate to the mix. This below is the Chocolate Chubbie which is another recipe I tried from Serious Eats. The best way to describe it is a cross between a cookie and a chocolate brownie.
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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Baking: Lemon Sandwich Cookies

Awhile ago, the Feisty Foodie, KC, and I had our annual holiday cookie swap. Those cookies have long been ingested happily but I wanted to at least (finally) get to the recipes for my cookies. First up, the lemon sandwich cookies. I was a little hesitant with these because not everyone loves lemon flavored baked goods. I love lemon though. And wanted to find a really good cookie. Also, I needed some contrast with the other cookies that I was making.

The cookie itself is similar to a sandie. It's not a very moist dough but the result crumbles in your mouth in delicious buttery glory. I rolled the dough balls in sugar and baked it as instructed (recipe below).
Here's a closer look at the cookie before it was baked. You can see the sugar crystals. For a more spectacular effect, use sanding sugar. It holds up to heat better than regular granulated sugar.
Then into the oven they went. When they cracked a bit on top, they were ready. They flattened a little making them perfect for sandwiching.
After the cookies cooled, I lined them up on my rack ready for the filling. Some faced down for the tops, and the others faced up for frosting goodness.
The frosting was really easy as well. A creamy lemony mixture. I added more zest for extra lemon flavor. I put the frosting in a piping bag for ease. Using a spatula for this many cookies would be really tedious.
And so one by one, I piped delicious creamy lemon frosting. Then I took the top and sandwiched them together.
And there you go, my lemon sandwich cookie. This was really good! A very nice strong lemon flavor balanced out by the butteryness of the cookies. The cookies crumbled in my mouth as the frosting melted. It was lemon magic in my mouth. So good! These will go into my cookie rotation for sure!

This Lemon Sandwich Cookie recipe was adapted from  Serious Eats Recipe for:

Glittering Lemon Sandwich Cookies
 Adapted from The Gourmet Cookie Book. Copyright © 2010. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

Ingredients:
* For the Cookies:
* 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
* 2/3 cup cornstarch
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
* 1/2 cup confectioners? sugar
* 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* White and colored sanding sugars
* For the Filling:
* 1 cup confectioners? sugar
* 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
* 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
* 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
* 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

Procedures:
1. For the Cookies: Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Line 2 large baking
sheets with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt.
3. Beat together butter and confectioners? sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, then beat in zest and vanilla. At low speed, mix in flour mixture just until a soft dough forms.
4. Put sanding sugars in different bowls. Roll a scant teaspoon of dough into a ball and drop into sugar, turning to coat. Reshape if necessary and transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat, spacing balls 3/4 inch apart, until baking sheet is filled.

5. Bake until tops are slightly cracked but still pale (bottoms will be pale golden), 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer cookies on parchment to a rack to cool completely.
6. Form and bake more cookies on second baking sheet.
7. For the Filling: Beat together all filling ingredients in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until combined well. Transfer to sealable bag and snip off a corner.

8. Turn over half of cookies and pipe about 1/2 teaspoon filling on flat side of each. Sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing gently.
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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Riki

A few weeks ago, some friends and I met up for lunch. I wanted ramen on this cold day so we headed over to Menchanko Tei. However, the line was out the door. I walked inside to talk to someone about the wait and they said at least 40 minutes. Yikes! And they didn't have a waitlist going so you have to just stick around to make sure the woman remembered you. What a bad system. And they don't take reservations for lunch. It's a whole clusterfuck, I tell you. Anyway, we were soon running out of time so we stepped over next door to Riki instead.

We walked in and they immediate had space for the 4 of us. The place seemed drab and needed a facelift. But some of my favorite places have the same look. I was open minded and wanted to eat! Lucky for me, they still also had ramen on the menu so I ordered that. Two other friends ordered the same and one had the sushi. Each entree came with soup or salad. I had the salad and it was sad. Some poorly thrown together vegetables with a glop of dressing on top. It tasted as it looked.

And then my ramen came and it was piping hot. That's a good sign. Unfortunately, that was the only good thing about it. The broth wasn't very flavorful except for being salty. The noodles were meh and the pork chasu wasn't of good quality. Everything just missed the point. Sigh, my ramen craving went unsatisfied.
To make matters worse, service was really poor. I had to flag a few people down to get several things including the check. With the food and service being subpar, I won't be going back.

Riki
141 E 45th St # 1
New York, NY 10017-3133
(212) 986-5604
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Friday, February 3, 2012

Cooking: Osso Buco

Last year, 2011, was nothing short of amazing in terms of pushing myself in cooking. I set high goals and met each and every one of them. I even exceeded my own expectations a couple of times. It was difficult but the results were amazing. And the night of osso buco was just one of those times that was amazing. I gathered Mr. M&P, Ms. Pastry Chef, Mrs. Green M&M, and Mr. HP Sauce for a night of good eating. Yes, my friends, it was another dinner party. However, this time was more of a potluck than anything. I didn't want to make everything again to give myself a break. However, as usual, I offered to make the main dish: osso buco.
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