Thursday, June 28, 2012

Homemade Chipwiches

Okay, I'm still working on my baking skills, but I wanted to share with you all something that I made that is perfect for the upcoming sizzling hot July 4th weekend!

I love me some good chocolate chip cookies, but to be honest, I'm really not a dessert girl. I much prefer something savory. So when I was trying to clean out my cupboards, I decided to put together some cookies with the remaining semi-sweet chocolate chips, Lay's, and pretzels I had. Oh, and of course I glued them together with some ice cream in between.

Pretzel Chocolate & Potato Chip Cookies
(Makes 24):
2 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
8 tbsp butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups chocolate chips
1 – 1/2 cups pretzels and potato chips (crushed)

1. Pre-heat oven to 375F (only if you do not intend on refrigerating the dough).
2. Mix flour, baking soda, salt in a bowl; Set aside.
3. Cream butter, sugars and vanilla until light and fluffy.
4. Add eggs to wet mixture, one at a time.
5. Slowly add flour mixture; mixing until fully combined.
6. Fold in chocolate chips and crushed pretzels and potato chips.
7. Scoop out 1-in balls and set on baking sheet about 1.5-2in apart.
8. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

(serves 2):
4 pretzel chocolate and potato chip cookies
2 scoops of ice cream

1. With a freshly baked cookie in hand, scoop a generous portion of ice cream* onto the bottom of one.
2. Squish another cookie over the ice cream.
3. Eat like how you would eat an oreo. Or an ice cream sandwich. Or a chipwich.

*I so conveniently had Ben and Jerry's Half Baked and Strawberry Cheesecake in my freezer.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bistro Truck and Wafels & Dinges

As a City Harvest summer intern, I was invited to their annual company picnic last Friday. It was a day of mini golf, Afro-Carib music, and many other festivities out at Randall's Island (before the sky decided to open up and display its wrath). One of the highlights of the day was that our lunch and dessert were catered by food trucks! 

I started off having a marinated hangar steak sandwich at the Bistro Truck. The Bistro Truck is a Morroccan-owned, Meditteranean and North African inspired food truck, serving sandwiches and sides. The steak sandwich was made to order, so there was a bit of waiting for it. It was served with field greens and a spicy mayo spread. I also had the fried veggies, which actually weren't as fried as I expected (see photo below... thank God, because I also just stuffed myself with fried chicken), yet delicious nonetheless. However, the best part was the Moroccan Mint Tea. It's an extremely refreshing mint iced tea that is slightly sweetened; perfect for a day outdoors. 

I wish I got to try the Old Bay fried tilapia and the almond couscous --that was a really popular combination!  

So let me tell you that I love Liège waffles. Compared to regular waffles or the popular Belgian waffle, Liège waffles are denser, sweeter, and are made from an adaptation of brioche bread dough. No wonder I like Liège waffles more... brioches are for certain up there in my top 5 favorite breads of all time.

Given all this, I don't know why I haven't tried Wafels & Dinges yet. My brother kept telling me that it was really good and that I would like it, but I finally got to try it for myself this past weekend.

I ordered a WMD (wafel of massive deliciousness... which just means unlimited dinges/ their toppings) with spekuloos, strawberries, bananas, vanilla ice cream, and whipped cream.

What is spekuloos you ask? If you ask the food truckers, you'll hear one of several responses that may or may not include, "it tastes like your first kiss" or "it tastes like cool rain on a hot summer day." In addition to all those things, their spekuloos spread also tastes like caramelized ginger bread cookie.

How did it taste? Dude. I ate it with such gusto that my coworkers sitting on either side of me were definitely judging me hardcore. But hey, it was super yummy!

I can't wait to make a stop at one of their trucks in Manhattan.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Blue Ribbon Izakaya

I was on the lookout for a sushi place for dinner, and I just so happened to find out that Blue Ribbon Sushi just opened a new restaurant in mid-April, Blue Ribbon Izakaya. I looked at Izakaya's menu and noticed not only did they have sushi, but they also had yakitori, and more importantly, fried chicken. Sushi and fried chicken? I'm so in. I went with Michael on a Tuesday night, so there was no wait. Walking in the unassuming door, I did not expect a cascade of lanterns and a lengthy staircase to greet us. Knowing Blue Ribbon, the decor was a lot trendier than I expected. 

It was the first night of the unexpected heat wave, so I was looking for something refreshing. We started with the leek sunomono, a chilled dish with bonito and ponzu. The light citrus soy was cooling indeed! Out of the kushi yakis (skewers), we decided on trying the pork belly with pickled onions, which turned out to be a great choice, for the pork belly was exactly as it should have been: juicy, tender, and fatty. 

We also ordered their signature wings, which turned out to be fried chicken seasoned heavily with the Japanese chili powder served with wasabi honey and their own izakaya sauce, a mild hot sauce. Honestly, the wings were okay. They are definitely not something that I would go out of my way for to attain again. The chili powder seasoning got old pretty fast, and the wasabi honey was too much honey and too little wasabi. Enjoyable, but not my favorite. 

We also shared two sushi rolls. We were trying to go for light, and decided on the enoki with yellowtail and the Kyuri special. The enoki and yellowtail were a weird combination. I couldn't really get the enoki, and Michael said that it made the overall sushi a bit mushy. I thought the seaweed was really great quality, though. The Kyuri special was splendid. What they don't tell you on the menu is that it is wrapped in a layer of cucumber, giving it an extremely cooling bite. It's exactly what you need on a hot night. 

Finally, we had the oxtail and bone marrow fried rice. This is definitely something that I would order again. The fried rice tasted teppanyaki style, to me, meaning extra buttery and fragrant. We had to first break an egg pocket with the bone marrow and mix it up with the rest of fried rice. And it was good. Like... MSG good. I couldn't stop thinking about it even until the next day and beyond. 

Blue Ribbon Izakaya definitely has some exciting stuff going on, and everything was fresh and tasty. Located on the trendy lower east side, prices can be quite steep. This is definitely going to be another yuppie locale. 

Pork belly and pickled onions

Chicken wings with wasabi honey and chili sauce

Kyuri special and enoki with hamachi

Bone marrow and oxtail fried rice

Blue Ribbon Izakaya
187 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Jerk Chicken in Bed-Stuy

I was walking back towards the C train on Ralph Street near Atlantic Avenue after leading a nutrition training workshop. I really needed some lunch, and the only choices were McDonalds and Popeyes, until I noticed a white tent with a grill, smoking away. I went over and asked what they had, and they were serving fries, onion rings, fish sandwiches, and jerk chicken. Well, I was starving, and the guys serving seemed really enthusiastic, so why not? The gentleman chopping up a generous heap of the dry-rubbed smoked chicken for $6 told me it was going to be the best decision I made today, and I must say it really was. 

The last time I had jerk chicken was off the street in Jamaica (not Queens), and this was even better than I remember it. I opened the box on the subway and took a bite out of a drumstick. The chicken was extremely tender that it fell right off the bone. It was extremely aromatic, and it can even be a bit on the spicy side!

Will definitely be picking up another order if I'm ever in the neighborhood again!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dinner party, summer nights: Squid Ink Fresh Pasta in White Wine Sauce

Squid ink pasta. Sounds intriguing, no? As one of the fresh pasta selections at Eataly, I couldn’t resist. Linguini in white clam sauce is a family favorite, so I decided to make a twist on that recipe with the fresh pasta. And what better to pair with squid ink than other creatures from the sea? So to kick off the summer, I decided to whip together a seafood pasta in white wine sauce. It’s the perfect recipe if you’re looking for a light, filling meal that is flavorful, delicious, and even visually challenging. Plus, you get to drink all the white wine leftover from cooking.

And for the record, there is no glaring taste difference between regular wheat pasta and pasta with squid ink. My mom had a really hard time enjoying it because of the color, but hey, I said it was visually challenging!

Squid Ink Fresh Pasta in White Wine Sauce
(serves 4):
2/3-1 lb fresh squid ink pasta (this can be substituted with half a box of dry linguini)
1 lb clams
½ lb mussels
1 cup white wine
½ cup clam juice
¼ cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic (sliced)
Basil, parsley (chopped)
Salt, pepper, lemon zest
1. Prepare a pot of boiling water for the fresh pasta. Remember to add salt.
2. Heat olive oil and garlic in a pan on high heat. Then add the white wine and let it reduce for a minute.
3. Then add the parsley, clams, mussels, and clam juice to the pan. Cook until the shells open, and then add lemon zest and basil. Finally, add salt and fresh pepper to taste.
4. Once the pasta is prepared, sautee it in the white wine sauce and add more olive oil if necessary.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Nice and the French Riviera

It's summertime, and I'm "stuck" in New York. This time last year, I was with my family traveling through Rome, Capri, Nice, and Paris. Nice was my family's first exposure to France, and I figured it would be a great transition from Italy because of the multicultural influence from its rich diverse history. Nice, as the English figured out ages ago, is a great vacation spot. There's a beautiful shoreline, ample amounts of seafood, and it's explorable by foot or by bike! The French Riviera is simply breathtaking. We took a tour through Cannes, Antibes, St. Paul de Vence, Eze, and Monte Carlo, and the perfumeries, the soap, the fresh produce... everything was how you would imagine it to be, if not better. It's such a mix of experiences ranging from the medieval village of Eze to the prosperous streets of Monte Carlo in Monaco. But seriously, the things I would do to be able to stroll through the market at Antibes and to visit Chateau Grimladi right now (as opposed to typing this out at my office desk)!

Promenade des Anglais, Nice

Nicoise salad in Nice!

Watermelon on the stone beach in Nice

Stuffed vegetables

Olives in Antibes

Macarons in Antibes

Rabbit in Antibes

Saint Paul de Vence

Fig tart in Saint Paul de Vence

Billionaire's Bay

Olive tapende

Truffle and arugula salad

Foie gras

McDonald's pastries

Monday, June 4, 2012

Madison Square Eats

In the past few years, Madison Square Park has really stepped up and has been hosting regular events including this one, which invites many local vendors and businesses to open shop on Fifth Avenue for a month. This past Friday was the last day for this year's Madison Square Eats, and I finally had the time to stand in the long lines to grab a few quick bites. I didn't get to try much, but the few things I did have I definitely enjoyed: 

(photographed below): I've been reading about their fried pizza for awhile, but I finally got to try it. It looked quite underwhelming when it was finally ready, but one bite into it, I totally got it. It was crunchy on the outside, and doughy and chewy on the inside. Seriously a treat!

Calexico: They're known for their Cal-Mex street food, and yeah, they are known. There was a long line and wait for this one, and even though I'm not a fan of corn tortillas, their carne asada taco was quite delicious. 

People's Pops: What's not to like about popsicles? They had a great flavor line up including strawberry ginger, raspberry sour cherry, and blueberry apricot. I would definitely get the blueberry apricot again. 

Eataly's fried pizzette

Next time this is hosted, I would definitely stop by again. It's a great central location to meet up with friends, though it does get a bit crowded. I wouldn't recommend coming here if you're in a rush because lines do get long!