Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Weekend Guide: What's Cooking

Watch: Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution - Friday, March 26th
| ABC 8pm EST
British superstar chef Jamie Oliver tackles adult and childhood obesity in America and heads to Huntington, WVa to change up how we think about healthy food and cooking. The first in a six part series.

Eat: New in town for all you NYCers...
Kenmare - 94 Kenmare St. opens Friday, March 26th
The latest venture of Little Owl former chef Joey Campanaro who's teaming up with Paul Sevingy, the brains behind the former Beatrice Inn. Addictively-good comfort food + a vibe that's sure to be uber-hip with a touch of's guaranteed to be Nolita's new little hot spot.


Eat x2: Pulino's Bar & Pizzeria -- 282 Bowery @ Houston opens Friday, March 26th
Keith McNally's newest addition along with Nate Appleman from SF. What's better on a Friday night than a glass of wine and a slice or two of wood-fired, thin crust pizza with intriguing, super-fresh ingredient combos like: salame piccante, tomato, mozzarella, olives, oregano & chiles and potato, mozzarella, provolone, cabbage, prosciutto cotto & rosemary? We'll find out...I'll be heading down there myself!

(photo: New York Magazine)

Spring Clean: Yup, do some spring cleaning for your fridge this weekend. Princeton University just released a new study citing the significant impact high fructose corn syrup can have on weight gain and obesity symptoms (abdominal fat and high triglyceride levels). More backing for similar studies...and that much more impetus to check ingredient lists and clean up your fridge and pantry for fresher, less processed foods. Take a look at condiments, cookies, chips, juice, yogurt, frozen meals, canned soups, soda and a hell of a lot more (you'll likely be shockingly surprised). What's the easiest way to avoid HFCS? Start shopping smartly at places like Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, your local greenmarket where you won't find HFCS on labels or look for more natural or organic brands at your local grocery store.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dining by Design for AIDS

Here are a few inspiring photos from last weekend's Architectural Digest home design show and the Dining by Design exhibit sponsored by DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS). DIFFA supports HIV/AIDS education and brings fashion design, interior design, and architecture to the table. How does an extravagant, ornately designed table relate to you and your own table/dining area? Here's how: setting a table (no matter how elaborate or classically simple), sitting down to a relaxing meal and actually tasting your food can have an incredible impact on satisfaction levels. Translation: you slow down, enjoy your meal, are able to see what exactly is on your plate (good quality, fresh food!) and how much you're eating (portions!).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Brunch :: Potato, Leek & Fontina Frittata

What could be better on a Sunday morning than a sunshine-filled brunch out on my balcony with the NY Times and a quick and simple frittata? My relaxing brunch was followed with a trip up to Architectural Digest's Home Design Show at Pier 94 to check out some inspiring tableware designs. Photos to come tomorrow...

Potato, Leek & Fontina Frittata
serves 4 to 6

1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup thinly sliced leeks
3 small baby potatoes, boiled until soft (or microwaved for 2 minutes) and cut into thin slices
1/2 cup grated fontina cheese
6 eggs
1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat broiler. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, saute leeks and potato slices in butter for 3 to 4 minutes. Whisk together fontina, eggs, salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture into pan over leeks and potato and cook until frittata is almost set, about 4 or 5 minutes. Place skillet under broiler for 3 to 4 minutes until golden brown.
Round out the meal with a simple salad of mixed greens (I used the leftover blood orange vinaigrette from last week's beet salad) and sparkling water with fresh orange slices.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Trending Spring: Floral Prints for Your Table

I've clearly been hit with a bout of spring fever - 70 degrees and sunny in mid-March!? To celebrate the incredible weather, I pulled together some of my favorite floral prints that are making a major statement both on the fashion runway and on the dining table this spring. Prime example -- Target's recent partnership with Liberty of London, the fabulously-chic and storied boutique department store known for their elaborate floral prints. Check out some of my faves from Target-Liberty and beyond to brighten up your table...
bring some color to your counter tops...the perfect jar for flour, whole grains, or of course the occasional cookie [Target-Liberty of London]
a burst of bright fuschia & feathery flowers compliments refreshing drinks or cocktails [Target-Liberty of London]
they're not "floral" per say, but these hand blown "twist" glasses bring out the vibrant colors of the season []

love this vintagey decoupage floral cake stand from John Derian

this gorgeous set of "Margherita" bone china from Missoni isn't cheap, but it screams warm weather,
good food and good times

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Taste of Spring, Finally!

After a nasty weekend of gray, torrential downpours, sunshine has finally descended upon NYC...along with the masses of green from yesterday's St. Patty's festivities. Both of which got me longing for some springtime flavor and vibrant color. So in the spirit of a little 'spring cleaning' for our diets (scary to think, but Memorial Day is inching that much closer), I took what was left in my fridge and made a winter-to-spring salad...using up the last of my blood orange stash before they go out of season and tossing in yellow beets for some bold brightness in gratitude of spring and sunshine. The result is a gorgeous, nutrient-packed dish -- blood oranges are a great source of vitamin C and anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant; beets are also packed with antioxidants and provide a nice 'detox' for your liver for a quick, energizing clean up of toxins and the pistachios add a bonus of cholesterol-lowering healthy fat and yet again, more antioxidants. All that healthfulness and you still end up with a tasty, sneakily sophisticated looking salad - it's a no-brainer for a dinner party. Here are the details...

Roasted Beet Salad with Pistachios, Goat Cheese & Blood Orange Vinaigrette
serves 4

the goods
6 small to medium yellow beets, washed and trimmed
3 blood oranges, 2 peeled and cut into segments, 1 used for juice
1/4 cup pistachios, shelled
1 tsp canola oil
1 tsp honey
6 cups mesclun greens or mache
4 Tbsp goat cheese or boucheron (I had a Spanish goat cheese, cana de cabra, on hand so that's what I used - perfectly smooth and tangy)

tbe vinaigrette
1 Tbsp champagne vinegar
1 Tbsp blood orange juice
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp shallot, minced
salt and pepper to taste
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

the breakdown
- preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- wrap beets individually in aluminum foil and roast for 1 hour 15 minutes. allow to cool for about 20 minutes and then remove skin (either gently with a paring knife or rub them with a paper towel).
- toast pistachios in a skillet with canola oil and honey over medium heat for 5 minutes. cool and chop coarsely.
- combine all vinaigrette ingredients and slowly whisk in olive oil until blended.
- once beets are cool, use a mandolin to slice 2 of the 6 into very thin slices. quarter or dice remaining 4 beets.
- toss mesclun greens and diced beets with 4 to 5 Tbsp of vinaigrette.
- arrange a small circle of sliced beets (the thin discs) in the middle of 4 plates. top with mesclun greens, about 1/2 to 3/4 cup diced beets and 6 or so orange segments. sprinkle with 1 Tbsp goat cheese, crumbled and 1 Tbsp chopped honeyed pistachios. drizzle each salad with 1 additional tsp vinaigrette.

the easiest way to segment oranges: cut off each end and then cut skin and pith off of sides, carefully cut each segment out from between membranes.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What's Brewing: Coffee's Comeback

Coffee's the hot trend in NYC these days. - New York Times photo

Coffee seems to be hot on the scene of late. Everywhere I turn there's multiple mentions about
new brewing techniques, single-origin roasts, fair-trade practices, organic blends, decent decaf on the rise (finally!), and more. Just this week alone Starbucks announced a distinctive campaign tagged BOLD that features an exclusive roast each week for 8 weeks in total and caters to different "coffee personalities". Each week has it's own graphic stamp-sized sticker. Try each of the 8 coffees and get a free lb of coffee. Not a bad marketing campaign (though I'm personally partial to many of the smaller spots sprinkled around the city).
The first coffee featured in Starbucks' BOLD campaign.
And speaking of those smaller coffee spots, the New York Times has an opinion as well. Check out their picks from yesterday's article here.
So what's the real bottom line with coffee? Healthy? Not-so-healthy? Uber-caffeinated? Eco-conscious or eco-consumption?
Here's the DL:
* Health factor: Go ahead and drink up! Coffee's loaded with antioxidants. In fact, studies find that it's the greatest source of daily antioxidants for most Americans (tells you something about our fruit & veg intake!). Both decaf and regular coffee provide the same amount of antioxidants. Coffee may also help lower risk of developing diabetes and Alzheimer's and can increase energy and mental focus.
* The downfalls: Too much of a good thing and you're jittery, anxious, possibly dehydrated (if you've completely foregone water for coffee all day). Coffee may raise blood pressure and throw off sleep patterns if you're consuming excessive amounts. Stick to 1 to 3 smallish cups a day, curb caffeine after 3 or 4pm if you're sensitive and you're golden. * Calories??: Coffee on it's own, plain and simple is a whopping ZERO calories. Tack on sugary sweet syrups, whipped cream, have a venti-sized latte made with whole milk every morning and yes, you'll take a 0 calorie coffee to 200, 300 or 400 calories in no time.
*Milk & sugar: Go black, or stick with a small amount of whole milk (or half & half on indulgent occasions!), low-fat, skim or soy. Less milk allows you do grab the whole milk without doing much damage. If you're doing a latte, make it a small and go low-fat or less frequently whole milk for an indulgent - yet filling - beverage. If you like your coffee light and sweet, 1 packet of sugar in the raw has a mere 16 calories...grab it and leave the artificial sweeteners behind.

A few of my own favorite coffee spots around town:
*OST Cafe - A shout out to my neighbors Alex and Aaron, the owners of this cozy, comfy spot that's always buzzing thanks to the free Wifi. Serving up free-trade Intelligentsia coffee (so good!). 441 East 12th Street (Avenue A), (212) 477-5600,
*Gimme! Coffee - My newly found obsession. Hipster coffee, small space, cool crowd on Mott St. Perfect coffee break spot when you're shopping around Nolita. 228 Mott Street (Prince Street), NoLIta, (212) 226-4011; 495 Lorimer Street (Powers Street), Williamsburg, Brooklyn, (718) 388-7771;
*Stumptown Coffee Roasters at the Ace Hotel - Super-cool spot tucked next to the Euro-chic Ace Hotel. Great direct trade coffee out of Portland. 18 West 29th Street (Broadway), no telephone,
*Abraco - another East Village gem, I'm not partial or anything, serving up stellar cappuccinos and drip coffee in a tiny (constantly packed) space. What would you expect in the East Village?!
86 East Seventh Street (First Avenue), no telephone,

Monday, March 8, 2010

Oscar-Worthy Appetizers

In addition to the gorgeous gowns and Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin's amusing act last night, what better way to take in the Academy Awards than with some good apps, great friends (and a killer cocktail or two)? My apartment may be a studio, but the spacious kitchen is well-used (well, spacious for an NYC studio at least!). Always loving an excuse to cook and invite friends over, I threw together a small Oscars soiree and made 'studio apartment entertaining' chic, flavorful and balanced -- with a healthful and indulgent line-up of dishes. Here's a few of the evening's standouts for your viewing pleasure:

A chic, simple cocktail to start off the night...a perfect pairing with Sandra Bullock's stunning gold gown and her Best Actress win and Tom Ford's dashing, perfectly-refined presence.

“The Oscar”
serves 2
2 oz vodka
2 oz St. Germain (elderflower liqueur)
Splash of fresh lemon juice
Champagne or prosecco
2 large pieces of lemon peel

Fill two martini glasses with ice and cold water, cool glasses for 1 to 2 minutes and discard ice and water.
Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add vodka, St. Germain and lemon juice and shake well. Pour mixture into martini glass and top it off with Champagne or prosecco.
Using a vegetable peeler, peel a good-sized piece of lemon peel for garnish.

A little ethnicity and color turns out a lot of healthful flavor without a ton of calories. Perfect with Maggie Gyllenhaal's vibrant printed dress...
Lettuce Wraps with Shrimp & Thai Dipping Sauce
makes 10 to 12

1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp jalepeno, minced
Juice of 1 lime

Lettuce wraps
1/2 cucumber, sliced into thin matchsticks
1/2 mango, sliced into thin matchsticks
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into thin matchsticks
1-2 scallions, diced1 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp jalapeno, minced
*crushed peanuts and extra whole mint leaves for serving
10-12 full leaves of Butter or Bibb lettuce

Dipping sauce
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp mirin (rice wine vinegar)
1 1/2 tsp agave nectar (or 2 tsp sugar)
1/2 tsp Asian chili sauce
2 tsp scallions, chopped
Juice of 2 limes

Marinate shrimp for about 30-60 minutes.
On a grill or in a grill pan, grill shrimp over medium-high heat about 2 minutes on each side until done.
Combine cucumber through jalapeno for lettuce wrap filling and toss to mix well.
Arrange lettuce leaves on a large serving platter. Place 2 to 3 shrimp in each leaf and top with cucumber-mango mixture. Sprinkle each wrap with crushed peanuts and top with a whole mint leaf for garnish. Whisk all dipping sauce ingredients together and set aside in a small bowl to place with serving platter.

Up the indulgence factor just a tad. These small bites pack in a ton of flavor, but their size will keep calories in check (just be careful, they're addictive -- 2 or 3 and you're good to go!). Well-paired with Demi Moore's seriously haute peachy-pink dress and sculpted arms.
Bacon Wrapped Dates with Manchego
Makes 18 dates

18 pitted Medjool dates
18 thin pieces of manchego cheese, cut into 1/2 inch by 1 1/2 inch slivers
9 thin slices of applewood smoked bacon, cut in half
18 toothpicks

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Stuff dates with manchego and wrap each with a slice of bacon. Secure with a toothpick.
Bake for 5 to 7 minutes on each side until crispy.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Change of Season: "Normal-Size" Models

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week may have ended last week, but I think it's certainly still a relevant enough topic to shed additional light on. Think it was a coincidence that it was slated right around Spring Fashion week while stick-thin models strutted their stuff down runways in Bryant Park?
Though I love keeping tabs on the designer shows and upcoming trends each season, it's hard to overlook all the flack the fashion industry has received over the years for exalting extreme thinness, which often encourages eating disorders or incredibly restrictive diets. But maybe there's a new season of change starting to bloom. More and more coverage of "normal weight" models is making a significant statement - from the magazines, and from the runway. I hope we see more of models like Lizzie Miller, who's feature in Glamour's September 2009 issue caused quite a stir. Enough that Editor-in-Chief Cindi Leive wrote multiple blog posts supporting the magazine's shift and showing appreciation to the thousands of readers who wrote in support of the push for a body revolution.
And with the publication of the November 2009 issue, Glamour made a commitment to feature a more diverse range of models - all shapes and sizes. And others are following suit. The January 2010 issue of Elle made mention of size 12 model Crystal Renn strutting down the catwalk at designer Mark Fast's London show (she wasn't the only size 10-14 model to do so) and Elle Canada had Renn do a complete fashion spread.Take the weighted issue out of the fashion world and you've got the Madmen red-headed buxom bombshell Christina Hendricks, who was just featured on the cover of New York magazine.
Renn went on Nightline just the other week to debate the issue "Is it OK to be Fat?" A panel discussion that ended up asking "Is it healthy to be fat?" There's no doubt our society struggles with extremes. Do we want over 33 percent of the population to be obese or more than 2/3 of it to be overweight? Of course not. And do we want eating disorders running rampant? Definitely not. There's an in between -- finding a healthy weight (whether it's a size 14 or 4) -- and sustaining it through knowledge and healthy eating habits. That, along with changing perceptions and what and how much we eat in the US, is the big challenge.
With a growing number of role models, literally, the overall takeaway point here is that a woman's (or man's) weight shouldn't be the absolute definer of beauty (leading actress in Precious, Gabourey Sidibe has spoken out a lot about that one). There's beauty in every size and every shape -- yup, I do love the "distinctive" bum I inherited from my mom and grandmother. Differences are precisely what make us distinctive and special and intriguing. And with March being National Nutrition Month, let's take that message and build on it...both with healthier eating habits, a focus on fresh foods and a continued charge to shift our viewpoints.