Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Northern Spy: More than just great local, seasonal food

Northern Spy Food Co. opened it's doors a few months back in the East Village and is quickly becoming one of NYC's most prominent hot spots for seriously excellent, authentic local and seasonal fare. The brainchild behind Chris Ronis, and SF transplants Christophe Hille (formerly of A16), and executive chef Nathan Foot (formerly of Myth), Northern Spy merges a cozy restaurant vibe with a small neighborhood-friendly marketplace, featuring local artisanal products from yogurt, to Brooklyn Brine pickled vegetables to maple syrup and tasty treats by Liddabit and Nunu chocolates. So not only are these guys committed to shopping it up at the farmers market, changing the menu on a weekly basis, showcasing great quality seasonal and local ingredients and farmers, but they're also making a point to bring good, fresh food staples and sundries out of their restaurant and into your own kitchen. Read: they're helping us get a little closer to our food source and consider where and who it's coming from. And that's what makes Northern Spy one of those game-changing neighborhood spots where you can sit, schmooze, nibble and sip for hours on end (I'm speaking from personal experience here...multiple times over).
As for the food itself, Foot is serving up some of the best flavors and refined yet simple and well-balanced food I've ever had. Killer salads and seasonal vegetable dishes, ridiculously creamy Wild Hive polenta, nutty grains like red quinoa and wheatberries, a class Bobo roasted chicken and crazy good pork dishes. Luckily, I live in the neighborhood and have experienced most of the menu - and I can confidently say you can't really go wrong. Here's a handful of my favorite dishes:

butternut squash soup
kale salad with Clothbound cheddar, kabocha squash, almonds and lemon dressing
freekah risotto with squash
wild hive polenta with braised greens, roasted mushrooms and creme fraiche
bread & winter squash salad with baked eggs (for all you brunch lovers, it's freaking awesome)

...and though it's not pictured below, please, please, please indulge a little and have the pear and frangipane tart (I promise, it's well worth a few extra calories!) One final note, get the pickled eggs, might sound odd, but they're a must-have starter dish or snack. Happy eating in the East Village...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Golden Globes: the dresses...and a winning appetizer

Continuing with the fashion-food theme of the past week, I thought a few of the killer frocks donned last night at the Golden Globes were certainly worth a quick mention...as is my friend Courtney's AMAZING truffled egg toast appetizer (a recipe straight from the cookbook of one my hands-down favorite NYC restaurants, 'inoteca on the Lower East Side).
Even with Ricky Gervais hosting, the multiple pleas for Haiti and mentions of NBC's blown contract with Conan, and of course Kate Hudson's stunning stark white Marchesa gown...the truffled egg toast absolutely stole the show. If you're looking for an easy appetizer guaranteed to make some friends very happy, this is definitely it. Wondering what's so special about toast, eggs and a little fontina cheese? Yet again, simple ingredients, accessorized by a bit of truffled olive oil and asparagus, come together as major standouts and become something indulgently rich. Serve up the toast and cut it into bite-sized pieces to keep calories in check and you're ready to eat.
So here's the recipe and a few of my favorite dresses from the evening. And as a quick side-note, Courtney's talents extend beyond the kitchen. Keep your eyes out for BounceBack, her new no-nonsense relationship website dedicated to helping you get back on your feet fast after a break-up, with plenty of awesome resources in-hand. The site launches in just a few days!

Serves 4

asparagus 4 spears
extra virgin olive oil
2 thick slices good quality bread like Pullman, crusts removed ('inoteca gets their bread from Sullivan Street Bakery)

salt and freshly ground pepper
2 egg yolks
about 2-3 oz fontina cheese, thinly sliced
2 to 3 tsp white truffle infused olive oil , or simply white truffle oil

Trim the asparagus spear ends, and toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill or roast the asparagus for about 5 minutes, and cut into small 1 or 2-inch pieces.

Lightly toast the bread at 450 oven for 1 or 2 minutes. Remove and cut out a small square in the middle of each slice, but not completely through the bread, you'll want to keep a cradle for the egg yolk. Place the yolks in the hole and place fontina slices around the outer edges of the bread. Bake the bread-egg-cheese for 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese melts. The yolks should still be runny. Arrange asparagus on a plate and place the egg toast on top. Drizzle truffled olive oil or truffle oil over top and lightly around the toast and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Drew Barrymore, Reese Witherspoon, Marion Cottilard in Christian Dior, Sandra Bullock in Bottega Veneta, Kate Hudson in Marchesa.

Food for Haiti - Food-Related Charities

If you're looking for a way to feed Haiti and send aid and nourishment to those in need, here's a few suggestions of charitable organizations and websites to donate through.
Feeding America is a non-profit org that fights domestic hunger, but is extending its services and food bank collections to aid earthquake victims in Haiti. The sites lists the following charities through which you can make donations:

NVOAD - www.nvoad.org
InterAction - www.interaction.org
Red Cross - www.redcross.org
Center for International Disaster Information -- www.cidi.org
International aid group, CARE is also distributing food as is the World Food Programme with the below campaign.

Friday, January 15, 2010

3 Roast Chicken Recipes - Simple & Chic

To follow up my last post on translating Spring fashion trends from the runway to the table, I've sifted through dozens of delicious roast chicken recipes on Epicurious.com and from my own kitchen, and selected 3 stellar picks to model what might just be the epitome of a classic, chic yet incredibly simple dish (perfect for cold weather comfort, or anytime of year). So here they are, exemplifying how basic, fresh ingredients can be so fabulous.
*Classically simple
Roast Chicken with Lemon and Thyme (Bon Appetit, Sept. 1999)

  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 1 7-pound roasting chicken
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup (about) canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 450°F. Mix first 4 ingredients in bowl. Rinse chicken; pat dry. Place chicken in roasting pan. Rub all but 1 tablespoon garlic-thyme oil over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place lemon in cavity of chicken. Tie legs with string.

Roast chicken 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Roast chicken until meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of inner thigh registers 180°F, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Lift chicken and tilt slightly, emptying juices from cavity into pan. Transfer chicken to serving platter. Tent chicken with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Pour pan juices into large glass measuring cup. Spoon fat off top. Add wine to pan; place over high heat. Bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Pour wine mixture into measuring cup with pan juices (do not clean roasting pan). Add enough chicken broth to cup to measure 1 1/2 cups. Return broth mixture to same roasting pan. Mix flour into reserved 1 tablespoon garlic-thyme oil. Whisk into broth mixture. Boil broth mixture in roasting pan set over 2 burners until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Season pan-juice mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into sauceboat. Serve chicken, passing pan-juice mixture separately.

*A touch of sophistication

  • Makes 4 servings.
  • 1 1/4 pounds assorted seedless grapes (such as green, red, and black), cut into small clusters
  • 6 large shallots (about 10 ounces), peeled, halved through root end
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme plus 6 large sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 4-to 4 1/2-pound chicken, excess fat removed from cavity

Preheat oven to 400°F. Gently toss grape clusters, shallots, chopped thyme, and 1 tablespoon olive oil in large bowl to coat. Rub chicken with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil; sprinkle inside and out with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place thyme sprigs in cavity. Place chicken in large roasting pan; arrange grape mixture around chicken. Roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken thigh registers 165°F and grapes are shriveled, about 1 hour 10 minutes.

Transfer chicken to platter; let rest 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, arrange grapes and shallots around chicken. Transfer pan juices to small pitcher; spoon fat from surface of juices and discard. Serve chicken with pan juices alongside.

*Easy and chic from my own kitchen

Rosemary-Garlic Roast Chicken

1 3- to 4-pound organic, free-range chicken

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary (or a mixture of fresh herbs, like rosemary, thyme, and sage)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Clean and rinse the chicken and pat dry. In a small bowl, mix together the butter, garlic, and rosemary. Tie the chicken legs together with kitchen string and rub three quarters of the butter mixture under the skin of the chicken directly on the flesh. Rub the remaining butter on the top and bottom of the breast and season with salt and pepper. Place the celery, onion, carrots, and chicken broth in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place the chicken in the pan on a roasting rack, breast side up. Roast for about 1 ½ hours, until the juices run clear when the chicken is pricked. Baste with pan juices every 20 minutes or so. Check the temperature between the thigh and the leg—an instant-read thermometer should read 180°F. Remove the chicken from the roasting pan, carve, and serve with some of the roasted vegetables.

Monday, January 11, 2010

From Runway to Refrigerator (and to your plate)

It's a time of year devoted to revitalization and fresh starts. Enter all the resolutionistas at the gym and the even longer lines at Whole Foods. And in my own form of refreshing myself each January, I often turn to my favorite fashion mags for some thoughts of spring clothing and creative inspiration (hey, they're one of my guilty pleasures, we all have them). That said, I was flipping through Harper's Bazaar earlier this week while sweating it out at the gym and stumbled on an article that provoked some thought, and inspired a connection. How do the primary trends of spring fashion -- utilitarian simplicity, individualism and functionality -- translate to our tables and our food? I love to mix all things cultural and that's exactly what we're doing. Fashion, food and design flow together more effortlessly than you might think.

Fashion: basic simplicity | Food: simple, delicious food from the freshest ingredients
Fashion: individualism | Food: get creative, make up a recipe all of your own, experiment with new flavors, seasonal ingredients, spices, fresh herbs and more.
Fashion: functionality | Food: food serves as both energy and an experience, get the best quality you can afford and you'll never be disappointed on either end.

So, to pay tribute to Spring Fashion Week that will have NYC all-abuzz February 11-18th, I'll be doing a runway show of my own (of sorts) - a series of posts over the next week or two of simple ingredients, fresh recipes -- getting back to the basics, just like spring fashion. A handful of my favorite pieces prominent for spring...from a gorgeous "simplistic" Coach handbag, a bit of YSL bling and "individualism," to a "basic" denim dress and "functional" See by Chloe sandals.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year...new tricks for 2010!

After a brief holiday hiatus and respite, the blog is back up and running. And to kick this new year and new decade off in tune with everyone's sound (and of course lasting) resolutions to eat better, get their booties to the gym and bust those extra lbs, I figured I'd do a brief feature on a few items to jumpstart (and actually stick to!) 2010.
1) New year, new on-the-go snack. In the spirit of giving your body really good food despite all that life and crazy schedules throw at us, there's a brand-spanking new granola bar that's fresh on the market for 2010. Get your snack-loving, energy-boosting, 4pm fix on...this is an awesome, all-natural addition to your snack roster (conveniently stashable in your desk, purse, man-bag, gym bag, what-have-you). I've mentioned 18 Rabbits in the past, you know I'm picky about granola bars, and these are darn tasty, super satisfying, and contain all recognizable REAL, organic ingredients (from pecans and dried bing cherries to cocao nibs, sesame seeds, and flaxseed). They're also made with natural sweeteners like honey and agave and come in around 200 calories. 18 Rabbits has come out with their fifth granola bar, Belle Bananas Foster, which I recently had the pleasure of taste-testing (I know, I have such a tough job). Made with caramelized bananas and dates, it's absolutely delicious, not too sweet and the right amount of crunch and chewiness. You'll find 18 Rabbits' granola and granola bars at certain Whole Foods, local Dean & Deluca stores and of course online.
2) Variety...and more of it. If you're looking to stir things up a bit in the New Year, get out of your holiday/winter weather slump and give yourself a bit of a slimming, pound shedding boost without going to extremes (does anyone really like harsh, starvation juice fasts or chaining themselves to the treadmill 24-7?). Try something as simplistic as variety. Change up your fitness routine - take a new spin class, get back to running or yoga, bottom line do something DIFFERENT! This goes for your diet as well. Work in a new healthy carb like sweet potatoes or wild rice and swap the excess Christmas cookies and holiday chocolate. Our bodies like change and to be challenged, it keeps our metabolisms revved up and will 100% assist in shifting the scale back to where it should be. Check out the current issue of Time Out NY for their annual fitness guide -- the best classes and personal trainers around NYC to literally get your a*s back in gear -- and a quick shout out to one of my favorite people (and top personal trainers), Lacey Stone who was featured as a TONY superstar trainer.
3) Pick up some citrus. This is one of my sneakiest tactics to kissing holiday bloat goodbye. Grab a grapefruit, an orange, throw some lemon in your water or tea for a few days straight. Packed with potassium, citrus fruits combat water retention and help you feel naturally "cleansed" and back on track fast.

Happy 2010, here's to a killer year ahead!