Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Cookiepedia

A few weeks ago, Quirk Books contacted me about the possibility of reviewing a recently published cookbook.  As soon as I saw the title of the cookbook, I knew this would be a wonderful opportunity.  When I received a copy of The Cookiepedia by Stacy Adimando my heart fluttered. The book is extremely cute with a cardboard like exterior that has colorful text. The interior is bright with a wonderful blue color on the front and back interior.  The introduction is great and offers some useful definition in the form of “cookie speak” that were helpful and I wish I had know them before.  Although the book is well written, as with all cookbooks, what really matters is whether the recipes work.  I decided to test two recipes. One cookie I’ve made before and one that was brand new. 
First up, Chocolate Chip Cookies

1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temp
1/3 cup sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

First sift the flour, baking soda and salt into a big bowl and stir.  Set the bowl aside. Cream the butter and sugars for several minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until just combined.  Add the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Mix on low speed until incorporated.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop tablespoon sized balls of dough onto parchment-paper-lined cookie sheets.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking. The cookies came out really good.  She is accurate in describing them as having a different texture, which she says is due to the use of brown sugar. They were amazing and I’ve made them twice already.

My next adventure was the shortbread recipe.

1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup rice flour
1 cup unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk both flours together in a bowl and set aside. Cream together the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla on medium speed for a few minutes until light and fluffy. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the flours by hand with a wooden spoon. Turn out the dough onto a clean surface. Working quickly, use the heat of your hands to make a solid ball. Pull out a large piece of plastic wrap, and flatten the dough on top of it into a ¾ inch thick rectangle.

Double wrap it and refrigerate for 2 hours (and up to 2 weeks) to firm. Grease several cookie sheets with butter or line them with parchment paper. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and dust the top of it and your rolling pin with a little flour, too. Gently roll it to ¾ inch thick for bars. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into 2-inch-by-1-inch rectangles. 

Place the cookies on sheets about 1 inch apart. Prick the centers with a fork.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes (add an additional 2 to 3 minutes for thicker bars), until the edges are lightly golden. Cool sheets on wire racks. The shortbread was recognizable and the taste was there but it was a little softer than it should have been. 

I already know The Cookiepedia is going to be a great kitchen resource. I have already made the chocolate chip cookies twice and could see them turning into a weekly habit. I look forward to trying more of the recipes soon!

Hungry yet?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Lobster With Curry and Spicy Mayonnaise

A few weeks ago, I nearly fainted from excitement when I saw Mark Bittman's lobster matrix. I vowed to try at least three of these recipes. It was hard deciding where to start but considering I didn't get home until nearly midnight on the night I decided I was going to try one of the recipes, so I had limited options. I decided to make the Lobster with Curry and Spicy Mayo.

While I tried to follow Mr. Bittman's recipe, it just didn't look the same so I made a few changes.

3 lobsters
2 onions, chopped
2 limes
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 minced dry hot chili 
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon grated lime zest

Add onions, juice of 2 limes, black pepper and 2 tablespoons curry powder to boiling water. Simmer for 15 minutes.

We got the lobsters a few hours earlier and they were chilling in the fridge.  When I took them out they were very excited.

Unlucky for them, the next step was to add the lobsters.

I only let them cook for about 7-10 minutes.  While they were cooking, I mixed the mayonnaise, hot chili, ginger, remaining curry powder and lime zest.

Within a few minutes the lobsters were done.

Once the lobsters were done cooking, it was time to serve lobsters with mayonnaise.

 The finished product was bright red even though the water was curry colored. This was definitely one of the most flavorful lobsters I have ever eaten. I was shocked that the flavors from the water had penetrated the shell and really got to the meat.

We definitely enjoyed this meal even though we didn't finish eating until 1:30am! The next recipe will be daytime. I'm thinking chowder but who knows...something else might strike my fancy.

Hungry yet?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Brazil Grill

Ms. H is finally making the big move to NYC. She came apartment hunting and brought Mrs. H with her. I was fortunate to miss out on the apartment viewings but still be included in the post search dinner. When they selected Brazil Grill for dinner I was even more excited considering Mrs. H is an expert in the cuisine. The menu had a lot of variety and I had a difficult time deciding. Luckily Mrs. H took the lead and we started off with Salgadinhos Fritos, which was a mix of fried goodies.

The Coxinha was a fried ball filled with magnificently delicious shredded chicken. 

The Cod Fish Croquets were also well flavored and tasted great. I didn’t sample the Pastel. It is a pastry shell filled with ground beef or cheese. For my main course I ordered the Bobo de Camarao.

A delicious bowl of sautéed shrimp in palm oil, coconut milk and yucca sauce. The sauce was very flavorful. There were many different spices. I was initially skeptical of the combination of palm oil and coconut milk but it turned out just fine. I was a little annoyed that my food was sitting under the heat lamp long enough to form a slight film. bah! I also had food envy when Ms. H's Muqueca de Peixe arrived.

The Brazilian fish stew was a mix of coconut milk and dende oil in tomato broth. The aroma alone was enough to make my mouth water. The fish tasted great. The rich flavors of the stew had definitely seeped into the fish and they were one. Mrs. H ordered the Picanha Na Chapa.

Apparently, it is Brazil's national meat dish. It consists of slices of top sirloin steak served in a sizzling pan with caramelized onions. She commented that this is the best cut of meat because it is a mix of flank and sirloin. She really enjoyed it and Ms. H sampled a few bites. Our dishes were served with white rice. We also had beans, French fries and fried bananas. Wow what a meal. The only drawback was the very hands off staff. I had to beg before my water was refilled and I guess since they know their food is good, no one stopped by our table after the food arrived.

Brazil Grill is delicious and with such an expansive menu I look forward to returning so I can try something new.

Hungry yet?

Brazil Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cipriani - Wall Street

I've been debating how to write this review. I was so excited to go to Cipriani -Wall Street with Ms. O but it turned out to be an extremely strange experience. Our server was a bit spacey and repeatedly forgot whatever he was supposed to do. When we reviewed the menu we were both disappointed to find that items we had planned to order were not on the menu! Argh.  We reluctantly started our meal with an order of Fried Calamari with tartar sauce.

That was the largest order of calamari that I've eaten. We served ourselves two or three times and still had leftovers. The calamari was delicious but not spectacular. I should have known then that things were not right.  I was really craving pasta but decided that the Gnocchi alla Romana with tomato sauce would be my best bet.

Yea, that is allegedly gnocchi. I was incredibly disappointed, but decided I should at least give it a chance and taste it. It was not gnocchi. The inside was cheesy and the outside was crunchy. It lacked any real flavor on its own but the sauce that they served with it was great and made the meal tolerable. 

I ate two of them and couldn't stomach it anymore. Ms. O had far more success with her Breasaola.

It was served with arugula salad and shaved Parmesan. She enjoyed it but the portion was pretty small and the salad was really just arugula. The saving grace was the Broccoli Rabe.

It was crunchy and quite delicious. I was so glad Ms. O ordered it because I definitely took bites between my fake gnocchi.   

Cipriani Wall Street is not at all what I expected. Their staff is awkward and the food is not what you expect, which can sometimes be a good thing. It's worth the trip just for the beauty of dining in such a magnificent space but I'd recommend reviewing the menu before you go in.

Hungry yet? 

Cipriani Wall Street on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Uncle Nick's Greek Restaurant

A few moons ago, I went to Uncle Nick’s Greek Restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen with Mr. A. I’ve been there before but it has been a while. We started with the Mussels.  We had a choice of red sauce or white wine sauce. We went with the white wine sauce.

Mmmm Mmmm Good! I keep saying I’m going to make mussels. This was definitely one of those occasions that made me want to make mussels for dinner. Our entrées arrived shortly after. Mr. A ordered the Bifteki.

I thought it was just a beef kebab but apparently it’s chopped sirloin spiced Greek style and grilled. He enjoyed it, but probably not as much as I enjoyed my Kotopoulo Kebob.

Holy Moley! The chicken was amazing! It was so tender and juicy and the spices were fantastic.  The rice was incredibly delicious and I thoroughly enjoyed the salad. I literally ate every morsel on my plate.  What a satisfying meal! I have to learn how to make rice like that!

I highly recommend Uncle Nick’s, especially if you’re in the area and need a bite for lunch. The service is good and the food is amazing. 

Hungry yet?

Uncle Nick's on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hudson Hall

A while back I bought the Gilt City offer for a deal at Hudson Hall. Now that Ms. R works so close, it was easy for us to get together and walk over to the Hudson Hotel. When we walked in to the cafeteria I was immediately captivated by the film being projected on the walls. We were escorted to a table with benches and a throne like chair.

After we sat down we were told to help ourselves. Just like in high school, we grabbed our trays and made our way down the line.  We definitely made great selections. We started with the Tuna Tartare. (Like a rookie I forgot to charge my camera, but thankfully Ms. R came to the rescue!)

It was so bright we couldn't help but select it. The tuna was definitely sushi grade and tasted fantastic.  The Flat Bread Pizza was equally amazing.

The serving was really small though so I was left wanting more. Thankfully the Thyme Roasted Chicken came to the rescue.

The chicken was incredibly juicy and the seasoning was perfect. My favorite dish was the Roasted Corn.

It was very fresh and cooked with mushrooms and jalapeño. The jalapeño added a spicy bite that I wasn't expecting but definitely welcomed.  I look forward to replicating this dish in my kitchen.

Hudson Hall has an interesting atmosphere that is great if you're looking for a unique dining experience. It has so many options that dining there can be great for those with a desire for many different flavors. My biggest qualm is the hit or miss possibility of cafeteria style dining, but some dining risks are worth taking!

Hungry yet?

Hudson Hall on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 5, 2011

Larsen's Fish Market

On our last day in MV we ventured to the other side of the island for the beautiful beach in Menemsha. The bus ride was long but totally worth it. The sun was intense and I loved it. We chose Menemsha for the beach but also because of the cooked to order seafood at Larsen's Fish Market a few steps from the beach.

After soaking up the rays for a bit, we decided to head over to Larsen's. Z decided on a Lobster Roll.

It was premade but still so good! I ordered a crab cake to start.

It had a little more filing than crab so I didn't love it. Which is why I was really glad I also ordered a lobster!

The poor guy didn't know what was coming. Just a few minutes later I was having him for lunch.

I love lobster. It is so easy to prepare and so flavorful with such little effort. It's really quite amazing. I took my lobster to the beach and enjoyed him while watching the water. Pretty much a perfect lunch. Larsen's is worth the hike because the beach is beautiful and few things feel as great as eating lobster on the beach.

Hungry yet?

Larsons Fish Market on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Sweet Life Cafe

For our final dinner in MV we had a tough choice to make. So many delicious restaurants and only one more night. We decided that The Sweet Life Café would be the best way to close out an awesome weekend of great eats.

The restaurant is in a small house in Oak Bluffs. Most of the seating is outside in a dimly lit garden area that's decorated with Christmas lights. We sat outside on what turned out to be a lovely evening. I immediately decided my appetizer would be the Escargot Napoleon. 

When it arrived, I was floored. It was sandwiched on a phyllo dough crust and the snails were sautéed in almond butter, Pernod, spinach and blue cheese fondue. It was so good I found myself pausing many times to truly savor the taste. Z ordered the Sweet Pea Risotto.

It is typically served as a side but they were willing to offer it as an appetizer. The bright green color showcased the freshness of the peas. They were certainly generous with the portion. The risotto was delicious, but a little too filling for an appetizer.  When my entree arrived, I was equally thrilled.

The Grilled Striped Bass was served with heirloom tomato crab and corn salad. It was sitting on a wild rice pancake. The bass was amazingly good. The seasoning really allowed the freshness of the ingredients to shine through. I loved the salad and the crab added a nice textural contrast. The wild rice pancake was a first for me and I really enjoyed it! I may try to recreate it some day. Z's dish was also really good.

Wild Mushroom Strudel with creamy rosemary polenta and asparagus. It was cooked in a porcini broth with truffle oil, braised in white wine then baked. Quite the intricate preparation and it certainly paid off! After the disappointing dessert at Atria, I was really looking forward to something spectacular.

The Caramel Ginger Creme Brûlée did the job. It was served with orange ginger biscotti and the combination was perfect. It definitely had me wanting to lick the bowl.

The Sweet Life Cafe is a must try in Martha's Vineyard. The food is fresh, the staff is friendly and the ambiance is lovely. And besides if it's good enough for Mr. President, it should be good enough for you.

Hungry yet?

Sweet Life on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Black Dog Tavern

While we were in Martha’s Vineyard, we tried to explore all parts of the island even if it was just for a couple of hours.  We took the bus over to Vineyard Haven to check out The Black Dog Tavern. The restaurant is right on the water so we sat there and enjoyed a great view before we ordered.  Luckily we have similar tastes so I knew I would get a sample of whatever Z ordered. The Crab Cake Sandwich was out of this world!

It was filled with more crab than the average sandwich.  It was topped with a lemon dill aioli that added a nice tangy zest.  I’ve never had such meaty crab in my life!  

I ordered the Seafood Fra Diavolo.

The combination of salmon, lobster and mussels in marinara sauce over parpadella pasta was excellent.  The marinara sauce although advertised as spicy definitely was lacking the punch I expected. Nevertheless, everything I ate was incredible.  I loved the crab cake sandwich and really enjoyed the seafood fra diavolo.  The Black Dog is more than just a tavern.  They have a café, bakery and even a general store. I scored a nice pair of sweatpants from the general store. After all fall is around the corner.

Hungry yet?

Black Dog Tavern on Urbanspoon