…grab some rhubarb and cook yourself a jam!
~Strawberry Rhubarb Jam~
What you’ll need:
- 3 stalks of rhubarb
- 1 box of strawberries (about 16 oz)
- 1 cup sugar
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
So this jam was the perfect accompaniment!
…grab some rhubarb and cook yourself a jam!
~Strawberry Rhubarb Jam~
What you’ll need:
So this jam was the perfect accompaniment!
Hands up if you love the spring.
(I do. I love the spring.)
If you aren’t quite sure if it’s time to rejoice in the name of spring yet, let’s refer to my handy “Is It Spring Yet?” checklist…
Check, check, check and check! Yes, my friends, it is officially springtime in NYC!!
There’s no better time, in my mind, to open a restaurant than springtime in New York. Everyone is high off the 65 degree sunshine (hey, it’s better than 17 with a windchill of -12) and the long, hard frosty winter is but a fast fading memory.
Enter The Dutch.
In an already fierce market for restaurant reservations, I had little hope that I could snag a reservation for dinner the week The Dutch opened, let alone during one of the most gorgeous weeks NY has seen this year.
Lo and behold, a 6pm table for 2 was actually available on Friday…just two days after the grand unveiling.
I’ll take it!
The Dutch | Hello spring!
I couldn’t wait to see what Andrew Carmellini would do with a non-traditional American menu (based on my stunning Italian meal at Locanda Verde, AC’s other gastronomic gift to the city).
Housemade cornbread appeared on the table shortly after we were seated.
An entire loaf for the two of us (and yes, we devoured a good 99% of it). It was warm and crumbly, sweet and savory.
To share, we ordered the eggplant dip with housemade spiced chips…
The eggplant dip was reminiscent of a french onion dip. But infinitely better. It was creamy, garlicky and smokey. The chips were amazing. I wish these were sold in 10 pound bags. I would buy several of them. Salted, peppered, and who knows what else – these were crisp and greasy and had to have been fried like 3 times.
There weren’t enough chips for the dip (they were so good on their own!) so when we ran out, I shamelessly heaped the dip onto my spoon and…yes…I did…
For my main I ordered the seared scallops with pickled ramps, bacon and pea puree.
What better way to say a big, fat HELLO (and where the hell have you been?!) to spring than with a plate that looks like this…
The flavors were as mild as the weather was that day – with a punch of pickle from those wondrous ramps. The darling obsession of the culinary world, ramps are a delectable cross between an onion and garlic.
Pickled and paired with silky pea puree and smokey bacon is by far my favorite method of consumption.
The “chef’s special” was fried chicken a la Carmellini with honey biscuits and a trio of veggies (slaw, collard greens, creamy potatoes)…
The chicken was indeed special. It was crispy-crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside. I love the spice mix in the batter of the chicken, but I was a little bored after I finished munching on all the skin (don’t judge) and licking the honey butter off my fingers from the biscuits (I said don’t judge…)
The veggies were also just OK. Not quite the high standard of my delicate scallops.
We overheard the pie specials of the evening (there are 2 types of pie baked fresh each day) rhubarb apple pie and…something else. I stopped paying attention after I heard the word rhubarb.
With a crumble and housemade frozen yogurt…
Whoever made this froyo could put Pinkberry out of business. It was tart and creamy like a real scoop of well, yogurt. A perfect compliment to the puckering rhubarb and sugary crumble.
Oh if we could eternally live in the spring…such hope, such excitement, such a contagious energy zipping about the city…oh, and such good food!!
4.5 out of 5 stars for The Dutch.
The pressure was on.
In honor of yours truly turning twentyseven (oh, you can’t read that? hmm…so strange…), there was no question that the occassion would be celebrated over a fabulous meal.
The question, however, was where.
It had to be delicious, it had to be cutting edge, it had to be age appropriate (hey, I am officially an adult now), it had to be classy, it had to be…me!
Looking back, I couldn’t have picked a better spot. Nailed it. Again.
Danji | The Perfect Beginning to a Perfect Birthday
Having just opened a few months ago (cutting edge, check) and from a chef who’s pedigree includes none other than Mr. Bouloud himself (classy, check), I picked Danji hoping it would be the perfect intimate setting for a small birthday dinner.
How right I was!
While the wait was a tad bit long (no reservations are taken after 6), our group of 4 was seated in the back near the kitchen.
The menu was split into traditional and modern tapas (much like Jose Andreas’ Bazaar). Olivia and I were a bit confused when more of the modern tapas sounded like the traditional Korean dishes we knew.
We began with yellowtail sashimi with Korean red pepper sauce (possibly my most favorite condiment). The tuna was delicious and fresh and the pepper sauce was combination I’ve never had before. But I love it!
Next came the homage to traditional – kfc (korean fried chicken) covered in sesame seeds. Quite delicious, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Filet bulgogi sliders topped with a pickled cucumber.
Japjae, korean vermicelli noodles (traditionally made from potato noodles). So delicious! With some crunchy veggies and tender meat, this was a dish I would order again and again.
Possibly my favorite dish of the evening was the pork belly sliders. The buns were slathered with a heavy hand of butter so the charred butter was a bit overwhelming. But it otherwise went really nicely with the sweetish pork inside.
Another stunner was the miso glazed pork chops. I’ve never had miso glazed lamb (or any red meat for that matter) but I really enjoyed it.
The dessert menu was limited to sesame or ginger gelato so we ordered a bowl of the sesame and stuck a candle in it for good measure.
I think we all agreed the food was good. But looking back over these photos, it’s no surprise that I ended up so um..inebriated by the end of the night. The portions are tiny! And sadly, the price tags weren’t.
Regardless, I can’t be mad at anything that was part of the amazing day I had. It was the perfect way to spend my birthday, with the perfect company and the perfect atmosphere. Would I go again? Ooh that’s a tough one. I’m going to say no…but just so this birthday memory remains in-tact.
3.5 out of 5 stars for Danji.
(PS – I’m 27)
earth day cake + birthday cake =
What happens when…
…a chef, two designers, a photographer and a musician open a restaurant?
Nope, that’s not the opener to some cheesy foodie joke, it’s actually how the story behind What Happens When begins.
Publicized widely as temporary (aka ” pop up”) restaurant that changes its menu every 30 days, WHW is certainly not your average dining experience!
What Happens When | An evening of interpretation
When I walked into the space, I was a little overwhelmed by the close quarters we’d be dining in. The drapery hung dangerously low from the ceilings, and tables were arranged tightly side by side.
From the barren walls to the exposed piping peeking through the drapes, there was a definite air of temporariness about the place.
Unfortunately, it made the restaurant seem a little more amateur than it should have.
While Eileen and I waited for Evelyn to join us, we curiously examined the surroundings of “movement three” (the themes at WHW are labeled dramatically as movements). There were elements of the decor that blatantly belonged to the inspiration behind this movement (impressionist painting) and others that were a little more of a stretch.
For example, our painter’s palette as menus were a tad bit literal…(impressionist painting. PAINTing. Paint. Get it? Yeah, so did we).
On the back of our menu palette was an explanation helping us connect all the dots. This is the first time I’ve been told how a fine dining restaurant’s motif actually manifests itself. Seems a little forced to me…
One quirky feature of the night was the pull out drawer with cutlery (kindly labeled for those of us who don’t know the difference between a 1st and 2nd course spoon)…
OK – less talking, more eating!
To kick off the meal, we were greeted with a tin full of freshly baked, soft (albeit a bit greasy) garlic knots. It was a warm welcome indeed…
And the amuse (from right to left) was a chilled garlic gazpacho, swiss chard omelette and some kind of lemon gelee.
All were good, but not necessarily great. The gelee was debatable, but I enjoyed the lemony lightness of it.
Since there were three of us and only 4-5 selections per course, we were lucky enough to get to sample nearly the whole menu! As we learned, the dishes for movement 3 were created in traditional French technique with a modern spin.
The techniques were lost on me, but tell me this plate doesn’t just scream modern…
An ode to the impressionistic paintings that inspired this movement, the plates were canvases to splotches of color, sauce, textures and dimension.
The picture above is my artichoke salad. Each piece of artichoke was soft and succulent, the shavings of cheese and slices of salami were a nice punch of flavor. The flowers didn’t taste like much, but that beautiful purple hue served its purpose!
(for much more brilliant photography, see the WHW website here)
Eileen’s appetizer was the seafood salad…
And Evelyn chose the rabbit in filo with yogurt sauce and garbanzo beans…
Nothing spectacular so far…on to the entrees.
Eileen’s vegetable bouillabaisse. I’ve never had bouillabaisse before, but this rendition was thick and creamy and full of chunky veggies. Not quite the fishy, brothy original, but tasty nonetheless.
I ordered the veal with lardon (fancy word for bacon), pearl onions and pea puree. The veal was soft and tender, and deliciously fatty. Definitely the best entree of the three.
Evelyn made the healthy swordfish steak with veggies choice.
For dessert (part one) we were given a small glass of homemade strawberry jam with creme fraiche. No surprises here.
And for dessert (part two…and three and four) we nibbled on a chocolate tart with a coffee glaze…
Cheese plate with toasted hazelnuts, apricots and a granola biscuit…
And finally, a buttery almond tart…(on the nicest plate of the evening, might I add. I wish we had seen more of these!)
All of our desserts were quite good, but I would probably only order the almond tart again.
And to finish us off, we left with a sweet macaroon…
And a fun sticker to paste somewhere around the city and email a photo of back to WHW. What a clever idea! Where should I put mine I wonder…
I give WHW credit for thinking outside the box. This was a dining experience I’ve never had before, and will never have again come May 1st! (because the movements will change, not because it was so terrible I’d never go again).
In fact, I’ve already decided to return to WHW at least 2 more times to check out the upcoming menus, so I’d say this was a rather good business model too!
I just hope that next time it won’t be such a literal conception to execution experience…I kind of like the ambiguity and subjectivity that comes with art and its interpretations.
3.5 out of 5 stars go to WHW.
In what has become a Sunday tradition, my global foodie friend Julia and I took a trip to Northern Europe for some smoked fish and roasted game.
I’ve never actually been to Northern Europe (such a shame, I know) nor do I know anything about its cuisine beyond fondue and smoked salmon (two very delicious things). Let the edification begin…
Vandaag | Unfamiliar territory
The restaurant managed to capture what is so effortlessly cool about Scandinavian culture. Mis-matched plates designed by local artists, a row of taps at the bar prominently displaying all the Northern European crafted beers available for conscientious consumption, plain yet poignant decorations scattered about (I spotted some classic delftware by the door), and my favorite – casual wooden menus with a simple tulip carved into the backside.
In my opinion, Vandaag is a mix between a fine dining establishment and a roadside 50’s diner. Our artfully plated amuse was presented by a heavily tattoed waitress with a yellow bandanna in her hair.
A premeditated contradiction?
Anyway, the amuse was a salmon “salad” with onion relish and a carrot cake crouton sitting on top of some kind of grain/chip/bread.
Aside from the grain/chip/bread nearly knocking out my teeth (it was ridiculously hard), the salmon tasted freshly smoked and the relish was a nice acidic touch. Although intriguing, the carrot cake got lost in the mix.
Our first appetizer was a light salad (Julia and I both researched ahead of time and knew the main attraction was going to be the “hen for two” so we were advised to start off light).
So I wasn’t incredibly surprised that our “salad” was a few pieces of sliced celery, potatoes, smoked salmon and salmon roe. And our dressing was a mild mayonnaise.
I’m not the biggest fan of the fishy roe, and this salad was a miss for me.
After a bit of a break, we were served the hen for two…
and a side of bergamot glazed wings served separately…
We also ordered the “hot lightning” potatoes – crisp fingerlings, bacon, apple, and “stroop” sauce. What is “stroop” sauce you ask? We’ll get to that in a minute.
Not a bad looking plate!
As promised, the hen was wonderfully cooked. The salty skin was crisp and brittle, the meat was moist and tender. The stuffing (barley farce cooked with the hen’s inside parts) was nice and subtle – but I had to push aside the chunks of liver and other mysterious organs. Yummy.
The turnips were crunchy and delicious and the bitter greens really brightened up the plate (and my palate). The wings were fatty, but forgettable. The veggies definitely helped cut all that fat and grease.
OK, what I really want to talk about are the potatoes…
“Stroop sauce” which I later learned a la Google is a sweet caramel syrup popular in the Netherlands and often served between two butter waffle cookies. It’s essentially sugar, butter, cinnamon and water. But Vandaag’s version was upped a notch with some kind of chili powder or spice. It was “hot lightning” indeed!
But man, was it good. Sweet, sticky, savory soft potatoes with chewy bits of bacon and a massive kick in the mouth afterwards. An amazing side dish!
It was an oddly familiar and comforting dinner for such an unfamiliar cuisine (peppered of course with the occasional surprise here and there).
I’d give Vandaag 3 out of 5 stars for an outrageous discovery (thanks stroop sauce) and an otherwise solid meal.
…and my fettuccine with homemade pesto and crunchy shrimp!
In case you didn’t know, Art Smith is/was Oprah’s personal chef. He was even rumored to be in the running to become First Chef at the White House under the Obama administration.
I tried this recipe with my mom in Hong Kong several years ago and it turned out amazingly scrumptious. So I’d like to share it with all of you!
What you’ll need (focaccia):
What you’ll need (pesto):
What you’ll need (pasta):
What you’ll do:
Phew! Now that we have all those ingredients, let’s begin with the pesto. I prepared this a couple of days in advance. It’s really as simple as: dump basil in food processor, pulse, add garlic, pulse, add walnuts, pulse, pour in oil and add seasonings, pulse, add cheese, finish with one last pulse.
And voila! you have a brilliantly green and fresh pesto!
OK, moving on to the bread.
First, use a wooden spoon to dissolve the yeast and honey in your warm water (note: yeast needs to be in a warm environment in order for it’s gassy yeast-like properties to be activated. hence the warm water and as you’ll see later, leaving the dough to rise in a warm place)…
Add oil and salt. Then slowly add flour…
Mix until you get a rough ball of dough…lay it out on a clean and lightly floured surface…
Knead until you get a nice small ball of dough (keep adding more flour to keep the dough from sticking to your surface)…this should take you around 8 minutes. It’s important not to wimp out here as kneading is the critical stage where gluten is developed. And good gluten content = bread that doesn’t fall apart + an airy loaf. We like those things…
Plop your dough into a nice big bowl and cover with a light cheesecloth or saran wrap then leave alone for about 1 hr. Make sure the dough is sitting somewhere relatively warm. Check these before and after photos…
Cool, isn’t it? OK, well I’m a nerd and I like seeing chemistry in action! Now remove the dough and punch out all that air. Grease a baking sheet and spread your dough out like so…
Again cover with the cloth/saran wrap and set aside for about 20 more minutes (again in a warm place)…
Meanwhile, slice your onions and saute them in butter and your seasonings in a nice big skillet…
Until they are golden brown and caramelized…
Use your index finger to punch dimples into your dough and then garnish with the onions, rosemary and salt and papper…
Put into a preheated oven at 425 for about 20 minutes. I left mine in for 25 and the onions started to burn, so to avoid this, try for less time or cut your onions a bit thicker and/or saute for less time…
Look at that cross section! Not too shabby if I may say so myself…
Here are the ingredients for your pasta. Simple is the word of the day!
And here’s the finished plate…
Whole wheat fettuccine is healthier, more substantial, and definitely stands up to the bold flavors of the fresh pesto and shrimp. The fluffy focaccia can be used to sop up all the extra garlicky goodness left at the bottom of the bowl.
…need I say more?
Chocolate Dulce De Leche Cupcakes
What you’ll need (thanks to Ina Garten for this amazing recipe):
What you’ll do:
Whisk or sift together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt).
Beat together the buttermilk, eggs, oil and vanilla in a separate bowl.
Then combine the two, adding the wet ingredients to the dry and mix to combine. Then add the coffee.
Don’t be alarmed if your batter is very runny. These cupcakes are going to be so moist and delicious! That oil is what keeps them crumbly and soft and the coffee brings out the chocolate flavor.
Bake for about 15-18 minutes at 350.
And they will come out this glossy, rich chocolate color that looks like solid fudge.
See the yummy dulce de leche, or a condensed milk caramel in this photo?…that part’s coming up!
I used 1 stick butter, 2 cups powdered sugar, about 3/4 of that bottle of dulce de leche, 2 tsp vanilla and 1/4 cup cream for the frosting. Just whip it all up together and add more sugar depending on the consistency you want.
Frost and drizzle with some extra dulce de leche…
These cupcakes were for a birthday party but I couldn’t resist and had to sneak a bite. Ah such heaven!
Make this as a big cake for any get together or party and I promise you, you’ll be everyone’s best friend by the end of the night.
I’ve neve been much of a chili fan, but it seems like one of those things that would be wonderful to cook.
I picture a massive pot on the stove brimming with thick, tomato-ey, spicy, meaty sauce and veggies. The aroma of chili powder and garlic wafting away and filling my studio apartment with such warmth and joy.
Sounds great, doesn’t it??
I decided to see if the imagery held true and gave my own one pot wonder a whirl yesterday.
Turkey Chili with Black Beans and Sweet Buttermilk Cornbread
What you’ll need (chili):
What you’ll need (cornbread):
What you’ll do:
First chop up your aromatics…
And get your spice blend together (feel free to play around and add more/less of anything).
Using a pot with a relatively thick base, heat up some olive oil and throw in the onions. Cook until translucent and beginning to brown then toss in your garlic. Cook until you start to smell that wonderful roasting garlic smell.
Then add in the rest of your veggies and sautee for a few minutes. Throw in your spice blend, coating everything well and heating up those spices.
Next add your turkey and mix until it’s lightly brown on the surface, resembling cooked ground meat.
Finally, add your tomato sauce, chicken stock and beans. Cover and simmer for up to an hour (giving it an ocasional stir or two)…
Or until you get this beautiful, bubbling pot of goodness.
But while the chili is developing all that flavor, you can prep for your yummy cornbread.
Melt the butter in a large skillet.
When melted, remove from fire and whisk in the sugar and eggs (quickly so the eggs don’t cook!).
Add the buttermilk then the flour and cornmeal and finish with the kernels. Mix til lumpy.
It’s those lovely mini bread loaf tins I love so much! Pop in for 20 minutes at 375.
The bread is moist and sweet, a perfect accompaniment to the rich and spicy chili.
Now that is a meal I can tuck into!