Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I love when my friends visit! When Mr. S, Ms. S and her Mr. K showed up a few weekends ago, I was thrilled.  We had a great time that weekend.  After a very late dinner on Friday, we went down to good for brunch.  We only waited a couple of minutes before we were seated.  That was enough time for us to notice the simple décor, which included photographs of utensils.  Mr. S claims that the furnishings are likely old items from an antique store.  The brunch menu at good is incredibly expansive.  We decided to each order the goodBrunch special.  Mr. K started with the Hand-rolled orange sour cream donuts.

Holey donut!! The donut holes were delicious! They were very sweet, but a delicious natural sweetness thanks to the flavor of the orange.  I was fortunate that Mr. K forgot the other donut when he left so I was able to enjoy it on Monday morning.  For his main course, Mr. K ordered the Basil & Goat Cheese egg scramble.  It was served over sourdough cherry tomatoes, asparagus and pesto. 

Quite the healthy alternative considering he just ordered donuts.  If not for the goat cheese, I probably would have ordered this too.  Ms. S ordered the Savory Cheddar Cornbread.

Yummers! The cheddar was thankfully not overwhelming. The bread was served warm which also added to its deliciousness.  It was crispy and had a little kick baked in.  For her main course, Ms. S ordered the special. Baked Eggs with gruyere and spinach on sourdough bread.

Props to Ms. S for getting through the entire plate. I’m pretty sure she ate half a dozen eggs.  Mr. S ordered the Banana Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast.

He destroyed that beast, but he didn’t quite make it through the bananas.  I ordered the Migas.  It’s scrambled eggs with crisp corn tortillas, onions, peppers & cilantro spicy salsa.  This my friends is a first, I was so caught up in the many plates and glasses on the table that I actually forgot to photograph my own food!  I know, wild.

Truthfully, they didn’t look that great anyway so it’s probably best I didn’t photograph them. Haha.  They tasted alright though. They were a little lacking in kick considering they are supposed to contain spicy salsa.  We also ordered Chicken Sausages.

They were wrinkly but very delicious.  The Spicy Home Fries were excellent.  Not as stewed and tasty as others, but they were still an excellent compliment to the other items on the table.

Good was great! Having my friends in town is always such a treat and the way we eat it’s even better!

Hungry yet?

Good on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Friendsgiving 2011

It's the most wonderful time of the year! The Super Bowl of cooking is here! Thanksgiving is the BEST holiday EVER! I love my family and spending Thanksgiving with them is fantastic.  But, I also love my friends. So this year, I decided to get the best of both worlds by hosting a Friendsgiving a few weeks before Thanksgiving.  It was an awesome treat for me because I love cooking, eating, and hosting.  I tried a couple of new recipes, but also had many oldies but goodies in the mix.  I think there was something wrong with my camera, or perhaps I just got too excited about the food that I didn't get a chance to take a picture of certain dishes.  The recipe posts will hopefully come later, although last year I never got around to posting the recipes.  Without further ado, below are some of the delicious treats that were part of the feast.

The appetizer selection included two types of wings. Spicy BBQ on the right and Jerk Wings on the left.

Mr. N got quite the shock when he took a bite of the Jerk Wings without realizing what he was getting himself into.  I was patting myself on the back for the quality of these Crab Cakes.
I must have been patting with both hands, because I didn't remember to take a photo after they were plated.  le sigh. I will say the Marylanders approved so I must have done something right :) The Shrimp Dumplings were also a hit.

Ms. O was kind enough to construct and fry these crispy delicious bites. She also mixed the accompanying sauce which was terrific.  After the appetizers, the many parts of the main course were served. It's not Friendsgiving without the Turkey!

This one was Honey Brined and fall off the bone good. Cooking turkey in a bag is really the way to go. I also served Drumsticks with peppers and onions.

Ms. H was convinced this was sausage....I guess the peppers threw her for a loop.  To compete with the poultry, I also served Salmon.

Whole Foods was having a sale on Coho Salmon that week, so once Mr. M mentioned it, I decided to incorporate it into the menu.  I think most will agree that the sides are truly the stars of Thanksgiving. This was definitely the case at Friendsgiving.  By far the most popular was the Sweet Potato.

I served one with marshmallow topping and the other with streusel. I didn't get a chance to photograph the streusel so I'm using a photo from last year.

There were plenty of debates through the night about which was best.  I think a little bit of both is the way to go.  For those who only enjoy the classics, I also served Mashed Potatoes.

I was afraid I wouldn't have enough carbs so I made two pastas.  The Baked Mac and Cheese was a hit, primarily because of the potato bread crumbled on top.

The lasagna also got a lot of love, but unfortunately none from the camera.  Here's a picture from last year.

I can't make pasta without also including rice, so of course some Jollof Rice was absolutely necessary.

And by some, I mean 8 cups of rice.  We also had quite the bounty of vegetables.  Two types of spinach. Creamed and Sauteed.

The Sauteed Spinach was one of the last items to come out so unfortunately no photograph.  Similarly the Broccoli and Cheese was still in the oven when I put my camera down. I did capture the Collard Greens which were slow cooked for about 6 hours.

I'm definitely using that recipe again!  As though those weren't enough greens, Ms. O also fixed a delicious salad!

All that food took a lot more time than I anticipated so I could only offer one homemade dessert.  Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake! This year, it didn't crack.

Thankfully my guests brought plenty of dessert...

Seriously a lot of dessert...

I'm not kidding when I say a lot...

It really was a lot!

This Friendsgiving day feast was everything I hoped for and more. Ms. O was an amazingly awesome sous chef in so many ways. I am incredibly blessed to have such great people in my life and I hope this Thanksgiving you also Count Your Blessings...

Hungry yet?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cajun Tilapia with Broccoli and Rice

Another successful Whole Foods recipe! I invited my favorite pescetarian over for dinner, and thanks to a quick search of the Whole Foods website, I came across this recipe.  I’m not really a healthy eating nut, so I skipped out on the brown rice.

2 cups low sodium vegetable broth, divided
1 small onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1½ teaspoons salt-free Cajun seasoning, divided
1 cup uncooked white rice
3 cups small broccoli florets
3 (4-ounce) tilapia fillets

First, heat ¼ cup broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, pepper and ½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning and cook about 3 minutes or until onion is beginning to soften.

Stir in the rice and cook 30 seconds. Add the remaining 1 ¾ cups broth and heat to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 40 minutes. About 15 minutes before rice is done, place broccoli florets on top of cooking rice, replace lid and continue cooking. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 10 minutes then fluff rice with a fork and gently stir everything together.  

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450°F. Place tilapia on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning. Bake tilapia 8 to 9 minutes or until flesh is opaque.

Flake tilapia into bite-sized pieces and serve over rice and broccoli mixture. This dish was very easy to make and low key. It also had a different taste than what I usually make. It had no spiciness but was well seasoned.  Next time, I’ll definitely add some chili powder.

Hungry yet?


A long while ago, I met up with the ladies for a brunch “class.” With our crazy schedules, it had been a while since we got together. We selected Barbounia, a Mediterranean restaurant with lots of fantastic brunch options on the menu.  The restaurant is located on lower Park Ave. close to Union Square.  It has high ceilings and a variety of seating options. We selected the high tables to the right of the entry way.  Our meal started with an incredible loaf of bread.

The bread was steaming hot. The crust was lightly seasoned with salt and herbs.  Although the crust was hard enough to need the knife, the bread melted in my mouth because it was so soft on the inside.  The ladies selected a variety of dishes.  The Sweet Italian Sausage Omelette was a favorite at the table.

Aside from the sausage, it was filled with roasted peppers and goat cheese.  It was definitely delicious because there wasn’t a crumb left on the plate.  Ms. A ordered the Poached Eggs Barbounia.

Quite the presentation of eggs on an English Muffin with spinach, grilled tomato and yogurt sauce.  The Crab Benedict was also pretty popular.

Jumbo lump crabmeat with spinach and truffle oil. I ordered the Spinach Omelette.

It was filled with caramelized onions and fresh mozzarella. I loved it! The spinach was fresh and tasted remarkable with the mozzarella.  The potatoes were well seasoned and slightly spiced.  The salad was well dressed and provided balance to the plate.  We also had a couple of spices added to our table. They helped bring out more of the flavors of each dish.

Overall Barbounia was quite the success.  Put it on your list, especially if you’re looking for an AYCD brunch.

Hungry yet?

Barbounia on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Petite Abeille

I’ve had Petite Abeille on my list of restaurants to visit for quite some time. I’ve heard great things about their mussels and they have excellent specials. On the night Ms. O and I went, it was lobster night. When we arrived at the West Broadway location, there were plenty of empty seats but no one to attend to us. When we finally got someone’s attention and got a seat, we were ready to place our order. Obviously lobster would be what we wanted.  Unfortunately, the last lobster had already disappeared. Drats! If only they didn’t leave us waiting.  We pressed on and ordered our mussels.  Ms. O ordered the Poulette.

Two pounds of mussels served in a creamy white wine & shallot sauce.  She was kind enough to share. The sauce was really delicious. I’m usually skeptical of creamy white sauces but this one was delicious.  I was quite satisfied with my order too, the Rasta.

It was a Jamaican curry sauce and crisp apple.  YUMMY! It wasn’t as spicy as I would have liked but it was extremely flavorful.  The crispy crunch of the apple was a nice contrast to the mussels.  Our mussels also came with a side of Belgian fries.

They weren’t my favorite they were a little airy and I like my potatoes to have substance.  They were perfect for dipping in the broth!  The experience at Petite Abeille wasn’t as great as I would have liked – but all I really wanted was lobster.  Although their menu offers a lot of options for types of mussels, they don’t compare to The Mussel Pot. But then again it makes sense that a place that primarily serves mussels would have more options.

I will likely go back earlier on lobster night to try it out…but I’m not sure I can resist the mussels!

Hungry yet?

Petite Abeille on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 14, 2011

44 and X

I haven’t seen Z since our delicious trip to MV. Since too much time had passed by, we met for dinner at 44 and X.  They are mixing Roman numerals with Arabic numerals so that X is read tenth, in case you don’t know where they’re located. I was skeptical about the restaurant because the menu looked overpriced for no reason. I hadn’t heard anything about the restaurant that made me think it would be worth the money. Nevertheless, I acquiesced to Z’s request.  The space is very nicely decorated – clean, open and inviting.  Z ordered the Filet Mignon.

It is topped with tart tomato jam in a port wine jus with a side of potatoes au gratin.  Z opted for the Vermont Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese instead of the potatoes.

I chose the Crispy Sea Bass.

It was served on a bed of chanterelle mushrooms, braised asparagus, artichokes, and saffron mussel broth. I was confused by the words “saffron mussel broth” because it didn’t say there would be mussels. I asked our server and remarkably he was just as confused. Thankfully there were a couple of mussels in there.  The sea bass was indeed crispy and tasted really good, but it still wasn’t worth the money.  The dessert was underwhelming.

A Peanut Butter Mousse Tart that looked so good.  It was covered in caramel sauce and served with vanilla, chocolate, and malted milk ball ice creams.  The peanut butter was overwhelming.  They should have made the mousse tart out of something else. That much peanut butter is way too much.

44 and X is underwhelming. The restaurant is tastefully decorated and very inviting. The menu is diverse and offers many options, yet it is a much higher price point than is necessary. There are other restaurants that will offer much more for less money.

Hungry yet?

44 & X Hell's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 4, 2011

Amber - Upper West Side

The UWS is filled with pan-Asian restaurants serving an assortment of cuisines. Amber is one such restaurant but on this particular night, MM and I really went there for the sushi.  Although I’m not really a leaf eater, the salad was very tasty – and it wasn’t just the ginger dressing.

My appetizer was a very welcome dish.  Wasabi shumai!

OMG spice and shrimp in one dish. I’m sure I’ve been happier but this was definitely a very happy moment.  The shrimp was piping hot. The wasabi in the first bite I took went straight up my nostrils…and I loved it! Our entrée of two rolls was pretty impressive.

The Angry Lobster was my favorite!

Lobster tempura, lettuce, avocado, cucumber & spicy lobster sauce. The crunchy tempura lobster was a great contrast to the avocado. We also ordered the Triple toro.

A roll filled with tuna toro, salmon toro & yellowtail toro on top, spicy crunchy avocado and cucumber inside. This was an excellent meal for so many reasons, MM being only one of them. On that rainy night, Amber was the perfect place to be.  Their menu may not be the best but it is filled with lots of goodies.  The wasabi shumai alone is worth the trip!

Hungry yet?

Amber on Urbanspoon