Friday, April 30, 2010

Lucky Night Out: Taste of Asian-Inspired Cocktails

You have to love NYC sometimes...and you have to love an event that solely features not one, but 22 speciality cocktails from some of New York's best bars and restaurants. And even better, the event kicked off a 12 day celebration of Asian food and culture. What's not to love?! The first annual LuckyRice Festival started with a full pour last night at the Bowery Hotel with it's opening night cocktail party hosted by Kelly Choi of Top Chef Masters. NYC restaurants and bars the likes of Apotheke, Fatty Cue, Summit Bar, Momofuku and Macao Trading Co all joined forces and the drinks were definitely flowing. Wondering how the heck to navigate 3 rooms full of alcoholic beverages without blowing calories out of the water...or waking up with a massive hangover the next morning? Sipping and sharing is the key here. Friends and party-goers (myself and my good friend Kafi included) traversed the event, took a taste or two of a cocktail and passed it on. Find one you love (like the Mugi-Woogie from Tippling Bros with it's plum sake, yuzu juice and sesame/wasabi rim) and you might not be moving on. Either way, it was a great night with countless culinary events today through May 10th. A few notables:
Friday, April 30th (tonight) 6-8pm -- Buddhism in the Kitchen -- a conversation with David Chang (Momofuku) and Eric Ripert (Le Bernardin)
Saturday, May 1st - Family Workshop Making Dumpling with Anita Lo
Monday, May 3rd 7-10pm -- James Beard Dinner -- Flavors of Malaysia Kitchen with Zak Pelaccio (Fatty Cue/Crab) and Simpson Wong
For all info and tickets, check out:

me and Kelly Choi, the host of Top Chef Masters...yup, she's tall and I'm short

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Recipe Recap :: Asparagus Salad, Peppercorn-Crusted Tuna & Pestoed Polenta

Better late than promised, here's a rundown of those recipes I whipped up last Sunday for an impromptu dinner with two of my girlfriends (my studio apartment can sadly only fit so many people!). Standard practice, I assessed what I had in the fridge that morning, built a menu around the fresh vegetables and herbs I had lying around and then picked up a gorgeous piece of tuna steak from Whole Foods for the main entree. All said and done, I knocked out this dinner (4 dishes including a simple fresh ricotta appetizer) in under an hour...a suprisingly relaxing end to a long weekend.

Asparagus Salad with Pickled Rhubarb & Australian Feta Cheese
Serves 4

2 stalks rhubarb, chopped into 1 - 1 1/2 inch pieces
3 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
2 black peppercorns
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces Australian feta cheese *Australian is unbelievably creamy and mild tasting - you'll be an addict with just one taste!

Red wine vinaigrette
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar *I've been using the housemade red wine vinegar from the Meat Hook in Brooklyn - A-mazing!
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour 2 cups water into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add in rhubarb and blanch for 1 to 2 minutes. Place in an ice bath to stop additional cooking.
In a mixing bowl, place rhubarb along with red wine vinegar, sugar, ginger, salt and peppercorns. Set aside.
Toss asparagus spears with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in a roasting pan or on a baking sheet and roast for 18 to 20 minutes.
Arrange asparagus on a serving plate, place rhubarb in a horizontal line over spears and crumble feta over top. Drizzle with about 1/2 the vinaigrette.

For vinaigrette: Add mustard, shallot, vinegar, salt and pepper to a mixing bowl and slowly whisk in olive oil until well-blended.

Peppercorn-Crusted Grilled Tuna Steak with Spring Onions
Serves 4

1 pound tuna steak (or 2 - 8 oz steaks)
1/4 cup black peppercorns, crushed (I used a mortar and pestle, but you can easily use a spice grinder or simply press down hard with the flat edge of knife)
about 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
olive oil for drizzling
1 bunch spring onions, roots trimmed and bulbs cut into quarters

Set an outdoor grill or a grill pan to medium-high heat. Mix together salt and crushed peppercorns and on a clean work surface or plate, press tuna into mixture. Lightly drizzle olive oil over tuna. When ready to cook, toss the spring onions with a bit more olive oil and place on one side of the grill. Grill for about 15 to 18 minutes - do this prior to grilling the tuna. (Or you can roast the onions alongside the asparagus if easier).
When ready to grill the tuna, sear each steak for 3 to 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare.
Serve tuna on a bed of the grilled spring onions.

Pestoed Polenta with Braised Artichoke Hearts
Makes about 8 servings

Artichoke hearts
2 whole artichokes
1 cup white wine
1 cup water
1 garlic clove, minced
juice of 2 lemons (divided)
2 tablespoons chives, finely chopped

Pesto *will have about 1 cup leftover
3 cups fresh basil leaves
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 cup fresh grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
1 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 cups water
1 cup polenta *not the quick cooking kind
1 teaspoon salt
about 2 tablespoons butter

For the artichokes, trim and peel off all outer leaves, leaving just the heart and stem of the artichoke. With a spoon or small paring knife, remove the prickly part of the heart. Trim the outer area of the stems, leaving just the inner white area. Cut each heart into quarters and immediately place in a bowl of cold water with the juice of one lemon to prevent browning. In a medium sauce pan, combine water, wine, garlic, lemon juice, chives and artichoke hearts. Simmer on medium heat for about 25 minutes until tender.

While artichoke hearts are braising, make the pesto. Place all ingredients but olive oil in a food processor. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while blending. Blend until smooth and set aside.

For the polenta: In a medium-large saucepan, bring water and salt to a boil and slowly whisk in polenta in a steady stream until well blended, about 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cooked covered for about 20 to 25 minutes, stirring halfway through.
When ready to serve, mix about 1/3 cup of pesto into the polenta and top with artichoke hearts, drizzle with a bit more pesto.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Favorite Finds: Going Gold, A Gilded Table

I'm apparently on a style kick lately -- with another post on styling up your table. Maybe it was watching Coco Before Chanel last Sunday evening with a few girlfriends, but for the past few days I've been fixated on playing up 'Parisian chic' and going gold in the kitchen and on the table. Gabrielle (her real name) Chanel's style was impeccable, classic and history-making as she blurred the lines between women's fashion and menswear. She made the simplest cotton striped shirt look unbelievably chic, sophisticated and sexy. So in the spirit of Coco and chic (and healthful!) tables everywhere, here are a few of my favorite picks to dress up your next springtime dinner party or cozy weeknight meal at home. Thankfully, the price tag on these picks are a little more manageable than Coco's.
*Stay tuned for tomorrow's post on the pre-movie Sunday dinner I cooked up for my friends. On the menu: Asparagus Salad with Pickled Rhubarb and Feta Cheese, Peppercorn-Crusted Grilled Tuna Steak with Spring Onions & Pestoed Polenta.

1. Michele Varian - Turkish Fortune Cup, $65
2. Up in the Air Somewhere - Gold Paper Bowls, small bowl $24, large bowl $68
3. Annieglass (Neiman Marcus) - Large Gold Bowl, $120
4. Waterford - Gold Salt & Pepper Set, $70
5. Up in the Air Somewhere - Gold Lip Serving Platter, $94
7. MoMA Store - Columbina Flatware, $60

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Favorite Finds :: Eco-Conscious Tableware

Give a little love to Mother Earth today in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. In the spirit of making mealtimes 'greener' as well as healthful, here are a few favorite tableware picks with a sustainable, eoc-friendly and stylish twist.

1. Bambeco ceramic plates naturally crafted from teak leaves
2. Off Pitcher + Cup, from Handmade by Esque, made from recycled glass
3. Mini-Me's hand-crafted bamboo bowls, responsibly made in China
4. Pigeon Toe Ceramics nesting bowls, hand-thrown on a potter's wheel, earth friendly with a lead-free glaze
5. L'Aviva Home Bolivian rosewood hand-carved bowls made using stumps and branches left behind in well maintained forests in Santa Cruz
6. Totally Bamboo sustainable and fair-trade bamboo serving plate
7. Pigeon Toe Ceramics folded salt & pepper bowls made with clay porcelain that's lead-free and earth friendly, hand-crafted
8. Sin by Virginia Sin porcelain paperclay plates (a combo of porcelain and previously used paper plates)

*special thanks to Stacey Lipschitz for her master photoshop skills!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Cheater's Diet is Out!

Forget about the IRS and tax day, The Cheater's Diet hits bookstores everywhere today! Find out where to get a copy or order it for your Kindle- Become a fan on Facebook for more sneaky tips, tactics and recipes. Happy is too short not to start cheating!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Two Amazing Salads for Spring

Word of warning, this is a semi-mammoth post!
I had quite the foodie-forager adventure this past weekend and even got two incredible spring salads out of it -- both of which will most definitely be reappearing in the near future. They're perfect for a dinner party when you're looking to impress with something as "simple" as a salad. But before the salad recipes, here's a quick run-down of this foodie-nutritionist's Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday, April 3rd
10am - 10K run in Central Park for charity...and yes, I'm still sore, but you couldn't have begged for better running weather
11:30am - hit the Union Square farmers market & grocery store on my way back from the run to grab ingredients for the beet salad I was tasked with bringing to a friend's dinner party that evening. A standard beet-goat salad? Far from it. Keep on reading for the recipe and to see how I made things a little more intriguing.
2pm - Met up with my friend David Malosh, who's quite the talented (and very humble) food photographer and stylist. Rocking my Ray-Bans in the sunny weather, David and I were bound for a fun-filled foodie tour of hipster Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Couldn't think of a better way to spend an afternoon.
2:30pm - First stop, a late lunch at Marlow & Sons. D - licious. I love the menu focus on daily specials depending on what's in season and what's available. I went with a sunny-side up egg served with greens, a few potatoes and of course I had to try out their infamous house-made sausage - made that long morning run totally worth it. (I'm a sucker for sausage, I know, it defies all "nutritionist" logic....thank goodness!).
3:30pm - A quick pop into Marlow & Daughters up the street (their sister marketplace and butcher). I snagged a tub of Salvatore's fresh ricotta cheese to pair with olive oil, red pepper flakes, fresh mint and fresh bread -- an easy, delightful appetizer for the Easter Sunday lunch/dinner I was invited to the following day. Phenomenal ricotta, though David makes his own apparently and could prove a serious threat.
4pm - Swing by the Bedford Cheese shop for a quick sniff (no matter how often I go in, it's still incredibly pungent). David insists I taste-test the Australian feta cheese. He knows his stuff, so it's in my fridge waiting to be used.
4:30pm - Last stop at The Meat Hook (aka "Brooklyn's Local Butcher") which boasts custom cuts of meat, house-made sausage and more. They're in partnership with The Brooklyn Kitchen (great kitchenware and sundries) and Brooklyn Kitchen Labs (cooking, baking and butchering classes). What'd I walk away with? A bottle of house-made balsamic and red wine vinegar - amazing and so cheap! - one of their infamous sausage links, had to try to it, and a baguette from Roberta's, the carb-worthy pizza/Italian joint in Buschwick. (I served the bread up with the fresh ricotta for Sunday's dinner and it was killer).
8pm -- Taking my friend's spacious open-kitchen by storm, I used my lovely beets to their max capacity. A perfect pairing with beef tenderloin and roasted fingerling potatoes dusted with truffle salt (my secret weapon)! Photo and recipe below.

Roasted Beet Salad with Pistachios and Creme Fraiche Dressing
serves 8

Preheat oven to 425. Clean and trim 6 medium beets (I used 3 red and 3 yellow for color contrast). Place in a small roasting pan with 1 inch water and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes. Allow beets to cool and rub off skins with your fingers or a paper towel (no one likes purple-stained fingers!). Cut beets into quarters or chunks and set aside.
Creme fraiche dressing: creme fraiche is a nice alternative to standard goat cheese. It's so light and creamy, you just a little to get a lot flavor and taste. Mix together 1/4 cup of creme fraiche, 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, the juice of one lemon, 2 teaspoons of minced shallot, one tablespoon of minced chives, salt and pepper to taste and the zest of one lemon. Slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil.
Watercress puree: this is somewhat of an extraneous step (ditch it if you're time crunched), but it adds a nice flair and great color when garnishing the salad. Watercress is at its peak in the spring and gives a great herby, fresh kick to a dish. Blanch 1/4 bunch of watercress in boiling water for 1 minute. In a blender, combine, watercress 2 tablespoons of olive oil, one tablespoon water, the juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 teaspoon minced shallot and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth.
Now for the assembly...on a large serving platter or in a large salad bowl, place the remaining 3/4 bunch of watercress (tossed with 2 teaspoons olive oil and salt) on the bottom. Arrange roasted beets on bed of watercress and sprinkle 1/4 cup chopped and toasted pistachios on top. Drizzle the creme fraiche dressing lightly over top in a circular motion -- you'll have about a third of the dressing leftover. Finish with a few small dollops of the watercress puree and garnish with additional lemon zest and minced chives. Finito. Spring beauty fresh on your plate!

Sunday-Funday, April 4th
After a morning pilates class, I headed home to prepare a lovely, sunny-fresh salad to bring to my friend Jen's Easter afternoon get-together. I knew herb-crusted rack of lamb would be on the menu and the prosecco would most definitely be flowing, so I figured a light salad would help keep things healthfully in check. I love the combo of fresh fennel and oranges, so that's what I went with. If you've never worked with fennel before, it's got a slight licorice flavor and is packed with disease-fighting antioxidants. It's great roasted or raw.

Roberta's bread and Salvatore's fresh ricotta with olive oil, fresh mint and red pepper flakes kicked things off with a simple afternoon appetizer.

Fennel, Endive and Orange Salad with Ricotta Salata
serves 8
1 bulb fennel, green stalks cut off (use the white bulb only)
1 head of endive, thinly sliced
3 oranges, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced (I used a combo of blood oranges and navel - packed with vitamin C and fiber)
1/2 cup fresh grated ricotta salata (it's a hard cheese that's slightly salty...great flavor and texture!)
2 tablespoons thinly sliced shallots
1 tablespoon minced chives

Lemon Vinaigrette
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons minced shallots
juice of 1 lemon
1 egg yolk (yes, raw egg'll end up with a smooth, creamier dressing without adding a ton of calories or fat --remember you're dividing it by 8 servings)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

For the vinaigrette, whisk together mustard through salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking. Toss fennel, endive and oranges with 1/2 of vinaigrette in a large salad or serving bowl. Sprinkle ricotta salata and chives over top and serve.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Weekend Guide: What's Cooking

Shop :: Spring has most definitely sprung -- 70s and sunny this weekend! Get outside to a farmers market and make the most of the spring produce that's just started coming in....ramps, spring garlic, spring onions, watercress, fennel, asparagus and more. Here's what's on tap at greenmarkets around NYC or find a farmers market in your hood - Follow the Union Square greenmarket on Twitter - @unsqgreenmarket

Eat :: Northern Spy | 511 E. 12th St. NYC
Speaking of seasonal springtime eating...head over to see my guys in the E. Village at Northern Spy. Nathan's cooking up a ridiculously delicious (and chic looking) grilled spring garlic salad with hardboiled egg and shallot dressing. For your second course, try the clam and flounder chowder with fish fresh from the U. Sq. greenmarket. A light broth with just a touch of cream, adorned with cippolini onions, snap peas and sweet potatoes and finished off with watercress puree. I mean...A-MAZING. I realize that my pics below taken with my Blackberry (all I had on-hand) do neither dish any justice! I'm in desperate need of a new camera - please let me know your suggestions if you have them!

Cook :: Use up all those goodies you bought at the greenmarket and celebrate the Easter holiday (or simply a sunny Sunday) by gathering with friends and/or family for a great home-cooked meal. That's what I'll be doing (recipes to follow). I'm pondering a fresh fennel salad with citrus, herbs and tangy ricotta salata, but we'll see what ends up developing. Stay tuned...
(photo: House Beautiful)