Saturday, October 26, 2013

Alice's Tea Cup

Alice's Tea Cup is a dream come true for any little girl who has ever wanted to have a tea party that rivals Alice's in Wonderland. It is also an ideal spot for girls with pink tutus that aspire to be princesses and fairies. But most of all, it for anyone with a yearning for tea and scones any times of day. Alice is most renowned for her scone selection and vast tea collection. 

My grandma and I brought my mom for a lunchtime birthday tea celebration. For those of you who know me, you know I am all about high tea. The three of us shared the Mad Hatter set which came with two scones served with preserves and cream, two choices of sandwiches, assorted cookies, a lemon tart, and a pot of tea. We also ordered an extra pot of tea as well as a soup and a warm pear blue cheese salad. 

The pumpkin scone was more moist than I remember and resembled more of a bread than a scone. Their mixed berry scone was a more accurate scone, and I thoroughly enjoyed it with the cream and preserves. The three of us shared a birthday tea, a black tea blend with tropical fruit, and a ginger tea that was too mild for me. The sandwiches were not too memorable, but we had a smoked salmon with lemon dill on pumpernickel and an egg salad with watercress on seven grain bread. 

I would recommend coming to this place with close girlfriends, a birthday party for girls 12 and under, or if you just want some tea and scones (I would personally skip the tower sets). All three locations have pretty tight space, so be sure to make a reservation ahead of time because they get quite packed any day of the week.

I think the cozy English-inspired tea house environment outshone the food, but that's not the important aspect of a good afternoon tea, right? It's all about having the right company. 

Pumpkin scone and mixed berry scone
Chopped tea-egg salad
Three generations enjoying high tea 

Alice's Tea Cup Chapter I
102 W 73rd Street
New York, NY

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Root vegetable and chicken white wine pot roast

Whenever I'm in New York, I always pass by the Union Square Greenmarket. No matter what time of year, there are always so many colors and such varieties of produce that I always end up buying way more than I need due to sheer enthusiasm. Now that it is well into fall, the market is overflowing with the remaining berries of summer and lots of autumn goodies. I picked up lots of root vegetables including several different colored carrots and potatoes as well as a few bright radishes. I was quite set on making some sort of stew, but because I do not eat beef that often anymore, I decided to try making a pot roast with chicken thighs instead (I'm all about the dark meat). 

Root vegetable and chicken white wine pot roast (serves 3-4)
2 lb chicken thigh
6oz dry white wine
4 cups root vegetables*, chopped
1 cup mushrooms (button or baby Portobello), sliced
6 cloves garlic
1 tbs canola oil

*I included rasishes, purple potatoes, fingerling potatoes, orange/ white/ purple carrots
Chicken spice rub:
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black peppers
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika

1. Rub the spices over the chicken. Let it sit for about 30 minutes. In the mean time, prepare the vegetables.
2. In a French oven, sautee the garlic in the canola oil in high heat. Once browned, insert the chicken.
3. Cook both sides until browned, then pour the white wine into the pot. Turn the heat to low then let it simmer for about 1 hour.
4. With 20 minutes remaining, mix in the root vegetables. Keep simmering and preheat the oven to 275F.
5. Take the French oven off the stove, skim off the top layer of fat, and mix in the mushrooms. 
6. Bake in the oven for 1.5-2 hours. 
7. Take it out of the oven and feel free to serve with a salad drizzled with the white wine sauce. 
8. Enjoy with guests or as leftovers for the rest of the week!

✓ lean protein
✓ vegetables
✓ vitamin A 
✓ fiber

- If you don't want to use white wine, feel free to substitute with low sodium chicken broth
- This recipe is very flexible, so you can incorporate any vegetables you enjoy eating into the roast. Try it with celery and onions. 
- You can also skip the oven and just leave it simmering on low heat on the stove top. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Autumn squash chia seed bread

I don't know if you all remember my Darth Vader olive oil banana bread, but that stuff is delicious and it is such a flexible recipe that could incorporate many different healthy components. Now that there are pumpkin spiced lattes around every corner, I have experimented with my own autumnal recipe by altering my banana bread recipe into a vegan squash bread. There is no yogurt, and instead of eggs, I am using chia seeds. 

I've mostly encountered chia seeds in Southeast Asian cuisine, namely Vietnamese sweet drinks and Thai desserts. But now that I'm reading about them, they almost sound too good to be true. Chia seeds are soaked in water and generate this slimy bubble capsule. These magical seeds are packed with omega-3 oil, fiber, calcium, and antioxidants. They are associated with sustaining satiety, providing endurance for athletes, and leveling blood sugar. 

Autumn squash chia seed bread
1 can squash (One Pie brand is perfect)
3/4 cup olive oil

3 tbs chia seeds (soaked in 9tbs water for about 5-10min)
1 cup all-purpose flour 
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
cup sugar 
1 cup rolled oats 
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
3 tsp All spice (or replace with 2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ginger)

1. Preheat oven at 350F and oil an 8x8 baking pan
2. In a medium bowl, combine all the wet ingredients (squash, olive oil, soaked chia seeds). Mix well and set this squash mixture aside.
3. In a separate large bowl, whisk together all the rest of the dry ingredients.
4. Slowly fold the squash mixture into the dry ingredients. 
5. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top (feel free to sprinkle some flour into the pan before pouring in the batter to further prevent sticking).
6. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center of bread comes out clean.
7. Transfer to a wire rack and let bread cool in the pan for about 30 minutes before attempting to remove it from the pan.

✓ fiber
✓ whole grains
✓ monounsaturated 
✓ Vitamin A

- Before you head out in the mornings, serve this toasted with a Greek yogurt topping.
- Instead of using squash, use a can of pumpkin.
- Next time try using half a can of squash and 1-2 medium bananas.
- If you don't want to go out and invest in a bag of chia seeds, substitute back with the eggs! 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Brunch at L'Artusi

TL;DR: Why was everything so salty?? 

Large basket of the assorted breakfast pastries

After a long and grueling telethon, I finally landed a brunch spot in Manhattan for Sunday morning. L'Artusi had a promising menu and positive reviews to back it up. I booked a table and was informed that something special would be arranged for my father's birthday. 

What we ordered at brunch:
- Breakfast bruschetta: the presentation could have used a lot of work and a lot less pancetta. It was bascially a slice of baguette topped with chilis, a fat slice of pancetta, and a sunny side up egg on top. What's bruschetta about that? Where the tomatoes at?
- L'artusi breakfast: this bacon/ sausage/ eggs ordeal was quite standard. The sausage was quite delicious and made with an Italian flair, but the crispy potatoes were almost inedible with the amount of salt seasoning they were tossed in. What a waste. 
- Large basket of assorted fresh pastries: everything tasted fine, but why were my fingers so oily/buttery after sorting through the basket? 
- Ricotta crespelle with scrambled eggs: this was a ricotta stuffed crepe served with scrambled eggs and a mixed salad with what tasted like the juice from an entire lemon. Too much sour from the ricotta and the salad dressing on one plate.
- Broccoli rabe (side order): couldn't finish it between 5 people. It was that salty. 
- Scone with cream and jam: the scone was delicious, but I don't even want to think about how much butter was used to make it so crumbly. 
- Coffee: horrible over-brewed coffee. Just order something else to drink at breakfast.

Our service:
I was quite dissatisfied with the service I received at L'Artusi. My brother and I both checked into Foursquare and wanted to redeem our free breakfast pastry, but the waitress gave such an unamused/annoyed expression that I wasn't even sure if I was going to get my free scone. She was quite MIA throughout the entire meal and therefore we relied on the bus boys for whatever we needed. And there was no birthday surprise. What a fail birthday brunch. I was so disappointed with my experience that I went up to her after and told her that her service was lacking. Unfortunately I forgot to mention how unprofessional it was. 

Overall, I highly doubt I would go back to L'Artusi again. Having worked under Mario Batali or not, nothing should ever be this butter and salt laden. My family even considered that perhaps the chef was a bit tired and had his or her spices all mixed up. 

Ricotta crespelle with scrambled eggs

Free scone!

Breakfast bruschetta

Side order of broccoli rabe

This was first seen on Yelp

228 W 10th Street

New York, NY