Sunday, June 26, 2011

Jamaican Grilled Chicken and Plantains with Rice & Peas

I’ve been catching some flak lately for the drastic increase in frequency of my restaurant posts and the impact it has had on my recipe posting.  Trust, the skills still exist, I just don’t showcase them as often. I’ve made a lot of repeat dishes lately so not as much to post about.  The past week has been filled with adventures in the kitchen though, because my latest kitchen toy arrived.  My cast iron grill!! The thing about living in a wonderful apartment building in NY is that even though we have outdoor space, we are not allowed to grill out there.  It’s summer though and I feel like breaking the rules.  Rather than doing that though, I bought a grill I could use in my apartment.  So far so good! I started by throwing anything I could on the grill.

The shrimp took a while but that’s because I didn’t let the grill heat up.  The corn was oh so sweet and tasted incredible. I then decided it was time to actually make some food so I started playing with my Epicurious app and found a recipe for Grilled Chicken and Plantains, Jamaican Style.  I decided that if I could get some grill lines on my chicken I would be a happy camper.

I missed a few ingredients in the recipe so I think mine came out a little different. I was happy with the taste, but I’d recommend following it as written.


Olive Oil
1/4 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
4 boneless chicken breast halves with skin
2 semi-ripe plantains, peeled, cut on diagonal into 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick slices

I prepared this indoors, but the recipe was created with an outdoor grill in mind. If you’re using an indoor grill, make sure to turn it on while mixing your ingredients so it’ll be nice and hot by the time you’re ready to cook.  Puree molasses and next 7 ingredients in blender until smooth. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Spoon 1/4 cup sauce into pie dish. Add chicken; turn to coat.

Marinate 15 minutes. Grill chicken, skin side down. 

The cook time will depend on whether you’re using an outdoor or indoor grill and also how hot your grill gets.  You should turn it after about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it but make sure it’s cooked thoroughly before serving. No one wants to find that their food isn’t cooked all the way. The flavor in the chicken is incredible - I don't know if it's necessarily "jamaican" but I know it's delicious!  I couldn’t stop there though so I also made sure to cook some Rice & Peas.


1 tablespoon Vegetable oil
1 medium onion coarsely chopped
1 large jalapeno seeded and minced
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice (10 ounces)
1 14-oz can unsweetened coconut milk
2/3 cup Water
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 15-oz can kidney beans
Hot sauce

In a large saucepan, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and jalapeno and cook over moderate heat until barely softened, about 5 minutes. 

Stir in the rice.

Add the coconut milk, water and salt and bring to a boil. Stir in the beans, cover and simmer over low heat until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and fluff the rice with a fork. The rice is pretty spicy, especially if you leave the seeds in the jalapenos. YUM!

Still doubting my skills? Didn’t think so!

Hungry yet?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Penang Malaysian & Thai Cuisine

I love Thai food so any opportunity I have to try a new Thai restaurant is always a pleasure. This particular occasion was more joyful because we were celebrating the future Mrs. S. I was thrilled when her bridesmaids selected this restaurant. Tucked away on main street in Lodi, NJ this restaurant isn't much on the outside but has a very well decorated interior. The food at Penang was spectacular. We started with a few appetizers. The Chicken Satay was one of the favorites.

I usually steer clear of chicken satay because the idea of chicken on a stick doesn't really appeal to me. Also, the few times I've ordered it I've been terribly disappointed. This time, I loved it!! The chicken was tender and well seasoned. The peanut sauce was also unlike any I've ever had. Simply divine! The favorite appetizer at my table was the Roti Telur.

Everyone snatched the light pieces of roti as soon as it hit the table. The sauce was perfectly spiced. Potatoes make me happy and so does chicken so tasting both in one bite brought pure joy to my taste buds and my stomach. I was a huge fan. After overstuffing ourselves on appetizers, we were slightly overwhelmed when the entrees began to arrive...and wouldn't stop! The arrival of the Mango chicken immediately stopped the conversation.

The brightness of it was enough to make me oooh and aaah. Placement of the chicken in the mango was also quite creative. The taste did live up to the presentation. I've never had mango chicken before, but I'm certain this won't be my last time. The Thai Basil Noodle came out shortly after.

I expected this to be my favorite dish, but it wasn't. There was just a pinch of salt missing but it was evident in every bite which made it hard to ignore.The Vegetable Fried Rice also suffered from the same plight.

I understand people are health conscious these days and don't want to be shoving  spoonfuls of salt into their mouth, but geez give me a break. A little salt goes a long way! The Scallion Beef was a favorite of many at the table.

Obvs I didn't try it but it sure did look good! The Coconut Fried Rice was something special.

I can recall the taste quite vividly as I write this entry. The large juicy shrimp were perfectly cooked with the rice, coconut, ginger and a perfect blend of spices that was mouthwateringly good. I was thrilled when another plate landed on our table. The celebration was perfected with a beautiful cake.

I LOVE CAKE. Especially delicious Red Velvet. 

It was absolutely delicious. So good that I couldn't help myself and started eating it before I took a picture. Penang had a lot to offer and I was happy that the celebration included so many marvelous treats. I know there are other outposts of Penang more conveniently located and I look forward to sampling them soon.

Hungry yet? 

Penang on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Mussel Pot

What a brilliant idea! An entire restaurant dedicated to one delicious ingredient that I love - mussels! When I received the email from Blackboard Eats I immediately hopped on it. Thankfully Ms. S was available for what turned out to be one of the best meals I've had this year. Located in Greenwich Village, The Mussel Pot is a delightful restaurant that is tastefully decorated. Their outside garden is beautiful. It's well lit and has a waterfall. Unfortunately there were people sitting there so I wasn't able to snap a quality picture. The menu is obviously filled with mussels but they also had some excellent seafood appetizers. We ordered two items. The Crispy Fried Calamari was a must have.

The calamari was good although certain parts had batter falling off. The best part of the calamari is that it was served with chipotle aioli, classic marinara and chimichurri sauce. The chipotle aioli had a smoky flavor that livened up my taste buds and finished with a slight kick. The marinara was hands down the best marinara I've tasted - especially as a calamari dip! The chimichurri was lacking so I didn't go back for too many dips. When our Seafood Ceviche arrived my jaw dropped.

The combination of shrimp, scallops and lobster served with plantain chips made my mouth water and my eyes bulge! It was incredibly tasty. The tart lime flavor went well with the seafood. The plantain chips provided the perfect balance. I was a little disappointed we only received 4. Who do you think you're feeding here?! I dealt with it though and we moved on to the mussels. The pot of Fra Diavolo was dangerously good.

The mussels were cooked with tomato, garlic, fresh herbs and spicy pepper. The spiciness definitely came through. Each mussel was amazingly delicious. I wasn't even upset when I picked up empty shells. I would scoop some sauce with the shell and slurp it up. We selected another from the Italian section. The Ciopino was fantastic.

A classic Italian broth that was both spicy and sweet. It also contained delicious surprises in the form of clams, shrimp and scallops. I was in love!

Ms. S and I tore through both pots and were pretty successful but in the end the mussels got the best of us. We only left a few but we were incredibly satisfied. 

It was the first time in a long time that I turned down the dessert menu. Hurry over to the mussel pot it is an amazing restaurant dedicated to one of my favorites. The meal was spectacular from beginning to end and I definitely will return soon.

Hungry yet?

The Mussel Pot on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


It's been a while since Z and I have gotten together. We were desperately trying to get a reservation at one of the restaurants we've been lusting after but unfortunately were not so lucky. We did end up at another Italian restaurant that was quite remarkable. We didn't make reservations but when we showed up at Po, they were happy to accommodate us at the bar. The bar only seats 4 and the restaurant is not that much larger so it was no surprise that it was packed. The menu offered many delicious treats and I was hoping we could order two pastas and the fish special. However, Z wasn't up for it and our server advised against it. So I figured an appetizer and two pastas would do. They started us with a White Bean Bruschetta.

It was delicious! The beans were well flavored and quite wonderful with the toasted bread. The appetizer did not disappoint. Po Cured Tuna.

The presentation was lovely but of course taste always wins and in this case the taste was remarkable. The white beans made a reappearance and the chili mint vinaigrette was incredible. I couldn't have been happier! Z liked the two sauces but they didn't really do much for me. That didn't stop me from finishing every morsel of food in the plate. Fantastic! Our pastas arrived shortly after.

The Black Fettucini was served with mussels out of their shell which was a little alarming at first but made for easy consumption. The pasta was incredibly fresh with just the right texture and a perfect balance of sauce. The sauce had a spicy kick which was unexpected but much appreciated! It definitely left a mile on my face and made quite the impression. The Gnocchi alla telefono was equally impressive.

Considering I just made Gnocchi a few weeks ago, I was super excited to see how mine compared to the master. The Gnocchi at Po was heavier than what I've had at other restaurants but incredibly delicious. The heaviness was actually a plus because I ended up feeling full. The fresh mozzarella referred to as telefono was just as described, stringy like a telephone! I was definitely happy with our entree and appetizer choices. I should have quit while we were ahead. Instead I decided that dessert was a good idea.

The Dark Chocolate Terrine was just as simple as it looked. It was definitely prepared in advance and mint have even been frozen! Ugh. As if! I barely had two bites and I was way over it.

Z ordered the Po Sundae. She liked it, especially the ice cream. I was too disappointed in my Terrine to try anything else. I would have definitely preferred stuffing myself with the fish special over trying the dessert.

Despite the dessert, Po was an excellent experience. the pastas were fresh and even reheated well a day or two later. The past portions are huge and you can push to finish them but then you'll have to roll yourself out of there. The dessert was less than, but with all the cute little restaurants around there, you could easily find somewhere else to end your night.

Hungry yet?

Pó on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 20, 2011

Blue Caravan

I have been out of town a lot these days so it has been a while since I attended a press dinner. I was fortunate enough to be invited to a delicious press dinner at Blue Caravan, a new UWS modern tapas and global cuisine restaurant. I was immediately impressed when I walked in the restaurant because I entered through the windows! It was a warm day so the full length glass windows were wide open and doubled as a door. The exposed brick in the front area of the restaurant is reminiscent of a lounge. Since I was there on a Monday night, it was a lounge because there was a live band playing enjoyable music at a volume that was not offensive. The calming blue tones through the rest of the restaurant also add a very positive vibe to the restaurant.  When we sat down and I saw the tasting menu, I could hardly contain myself!
The first course of Truffled Mixed Mushroom Bruschetta was out of this world.
This is obviously a treat for mushroom likers or lovers. Yet, even I, a mere accepter of the mushroom, was in love with this dish! I've definitely avoided mushrooms in the past but this bruschetta has me thinking of revisiting my mushroom policy. The bread was toasted but not hard enough to hurt the roof of my mouth. The crunch was perfect with the mushrooms and parmesan.  Our trio of appetizers soon arrived. 
Apparently, they're not offered as a trio but I think it was a great combination.  The Crispy Calamari was definitely the favorite.
It was simply divine! The blood orange & soy reduction that was drizzled over the tender calamari left me yearning for more.  YUM! The Porcini and Sweet Pea Arancini was also delicious.
The smoked eggplant aioli is actually what made it really good. You could really taste the smokiness. I was pleasantly surprised by the Spicy Chicken Skewer.
I NEVER order chicken skewers. I just find them to be so boring and flavorless.  This was anything but boring! Well seasoned with coriander, cumin and galangal the chicken was spectacular on its own. When I dipped it in the tamarind peanut sauce, it was like heaven on earth! After a long break to let all the appetizers settle, our entrees arrived.  We agreed sampling the two options would be the best way to handle the task of continuing to eat.  The Turmeric Salmon arrived first and parked itself right in front of me.
It was placed in coconut milk, turmeric ginger and vegetables.  The first thing I did was use a spoon to scoop up some of the sauce and wowee was it good! It had a sweet and spicy taste which only left me wanting more. The salmon was cooked to perfection. It had a crispy top but was medium in the middle. I thought for sure the salmon was as good as it gets, and then the Pan Seared Magret arrived.
It was served on a bed of wild rice, cranberry raisin and finished with a cherry port glaze.  The duck was out of this world. Duck usually overwhelms me and this was no exception. But I couldn't help it, I just kept going back! There were definitely a few moments I let out light moans of enjoyment because yes, it was just. that. good.  Thinking that I had done all that I could, I started debating whether to walk home or take the subway. That's when I realized dessert was on its way.  As soon as it arrived, there was a hush over our entire table.
The Apple Tart was crispy, warm and sweet. I ate every bite. The Profiterole was also very delicious and it was just enough chocolate to satisfy my craving.  

What a fantastic meal! Blue Caravan is amazing. The restaurant is beautiful, the owner is friendly and the food is magnificent. The blend of small plates and large as well as the global reach of the menu is truly a delight. I recommend heading over there on a warm evening so you can enjoy the open window/door and an added bonus of live music if you go on a Monday.  Apparently they'll also be adding a sidewalk cafe soon so you can enjoy one of the best aspects of summer dining in NYC.

Hungry yet?

Blue Caravan on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 19, 2011

b.e.d. Miami

Months before our trip to South Beach, Ms. M was kind enough to make reservations for dinner at b.e.d. (beverage.entertainment.dining.) I was definitely curious about how exactly it would work. I mean how do you enjoy your meal when your table is your seat? Well thankfully they knew to serve our meals on personalized trays. Upon reviewing the menu I was surprised by how many items I actually wanted to order. Then I narrowed it down to the ceviche and the stuffed lobster tail. The nerve of the waitress to tell me neither item was available! Apparently they had a busy Friday night. I was extremely unhappy. She did tell me they could still make the lobster tail but sans crab meat. I reluctantly agreed and started by ordering the Crab Cake appetizer. Serves them right that I forgot my camera so these are the best images I have.

It was really different than the crab cakes I usually eat. This one was in phyllo dough which was wildly good. The crab chunks were huge and really tasty. The other appetizers also looked great. Ms. K ordered the Shrimp and Grits.

It was made with cheddar and sprinkled with bacon. She loved it and it inspired the elder Ms. K to order one too! Ms. S ordered the Seared Scallops.

It was served with a chorizo corn medley and a creamy BBQ sauce. She was loving it so much that Ms. M ordered it too - sans chorizo. Eventually our entrees started to arrive. Ms. S ordered the Grilled Sesame Tuna.

That was one good looking tuna. It also tasted amazing! The seasoning was perfect. I usually expect sesame tuna to have a strictly Asian taste but this had some Caribbean flavors. The elder Ms. K ordered the Australian Rack of Lamb.

Wowed quite the presentation. It was served with Parmesan regiano risotto sautéed mushrooms and a cognac thyme Demi glace. It looked amazing and according to her it tasted even better than it looked.  The popular item that evening was the Chilean Sea Bass.

Both Ms. K and Ms. M were delighted to order this dish. It was served with haricot vert white truffle and Yukon mashed with vermouth cream sauce. I had a bite and it was very rich - almost overwhelming but just under that level. That dish was creamy goodness at it's best. I compromised on my desire and accepted a different version of the Lobster stuffed with crab meat.

When I dug in, I realized it was actually stuffed with crab meat which is not what the waitress said so that was a pleasant surprise. The penne was not an adequate substitute for the black fettuccine.   Shrimp scampi just should not be served with tubular pasta! Luckily the flavor was right so I wasn't terribly offended.

We finished our delicious meal with the Cloud 9 souffle. When I saw souffle I mistakenly assumed it would be chocolate. Imagine my surprise when an inflated pot of Dulce de Leche arrived! Don't get me wrong this dessert was heavenly. I just wasn't ready for it. It is definitely made for sharing. Incredibly rich and sweet there's no reason one wouldn't love this! I certainly did.

We finished our meal at b.e.d. and decided to stick around for the rest of the night. It turned out to be quite a marvelous one. Congratulations Ms. K - I'll never look at Miami the same.

Hungry yet?

Bed Miami on Urbanspoon