Happy Chrismahanukwanzika!

Aaaaaand just like that I’m behind on blogging again! I didn’t even blog about my actual birthday. Maybe someday I’ll get around to blogging about it, but the summary is that it was awesome and that I ate goose which was delicious!

For now let me tell you about Saturday, when Chris and I had our very own Chrismahanukwanzika celebration! We’ll be spending the actual holiday at his parents, but we wanted to do something to celebrate with just the two of us and, since I  don’t celebrate Christmas, we wanted to have an awesome holiday mash-up celebration; which we did.

Even though it was just the two of us, I wore a red dress and he wore a tie to add to the festive celebratory mood! We popped on some holiday music as I prepared dinner, exchanged gifts and then watched Elf.

So what did I serve?

Well, at my very not Jewish boyfriend’s request, we started with latkes.

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Why yes, I did forget to take a picture and just recycle a photo from last year.

For the main course I served this amazing Libyan dish that I first tried several years ago, Tajin Sfinari bil Zaytun. It’s a spicy lamb and carrot dish that I absolutely love and it also happens to be the dish the banner photo of this blog. I promise you I’ll share the recipe with American conversions (the actual recipe linked to above uses metric and Celsius) soon.

Yum!!

Yum!!

Finally, for dessert I made gingerbread ice cream sandwiches. I made a batch of my tried and true gingerbread bars, cut them is squares, added vanilla ice cream sprinkled with some more brown sugar and cinnamon and then put another square of gingerbread over the top. I think this might have been Chris’s favorite part of the meal and now that I know how much he loves ice cream sandwiches I think there may be more in his future…

Perfect holiday treat!

Perfect holiday treat!

The next morning I woke up earlier than Chris and I had nothing to do so I decided to surprise him with Chrismahanukwanzika morning breakfast too!

I scrambled some creme fraiche in to the eggs so the were extra creamy.

I scrambled some creme fraiche in to the eggs so the were extra creamy.

Have you eaten any great meals yet this holiday season?

Birthday weekend of awesomeness as seen through food: Day 3

Well the weather in New York yesterday was miserable; cold, snowing and windy. If you are one of those people who read this blog and know both me and Lisa though, you know that we are just about the two least likely people oh earth to be held back from something we planned and were looking forward to. So we suited up in sine very warm gear and watching Hunters boots and headed to Rockefeller Center.

Yes, braving the cold and snow was worth it for this.

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Then we crossed the street to see the Saks Fifth Avenue window display. This year it tells the story of a Yeti who wants to create the perfect snowflake and I think it’s among the best they’ve ever had.

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We went in to Saks afterwards to warm up and see the Christmas decorations inside and then we strolled Fifth avenue as I pointed out all the decorations to Lisa, explaining to her which were new and which displays I’d been seeng my whole life. We popped in to Tiffany’s to warm up too then headed to the Eloise shop in the Plaza and finally made our way towards Columbus Circle.

As we walked past Columbus Circle we saw people playing in the snow in a now white Central Park. We headed in to the Time Warner Center to look at their decorations and warm up again! And then we braved the cold and snow to walk around the Columbus Circle holiday market. Finally, tired and chilled to the bone, we headed back to my place to dry off and then I took Lisa to meet Chris because we have mutual friends who are expecting a full report from Lisa about my boyfriend (I’m pretty sure Lisa will give him a glowing review btw).

Finally, in the heart of our winter storm, we headed back out to Kefi, one of my favorite restaurants, for dinner.

Kefi, an inexpensive Greek restaurant, is a neighborhood favorite. Last January a pipe burst in the restaurant shutting in down. Denizens of Upper West Siders like me waited patiently for Kefi to reopen. While it took them nearly a year to do that, I’m thrilled to report that they’re finally back in business.

We split two appetizers to start. As usual I forgot to snap pictures until we were nearly done.

Warm Feta, Tomatoes, Capers, Anchovy, Peppers, Olives served with Pita Bread; which looks really pretty with the green and black olives and ripe red tomatoes, but you’ll have to use your imagination.

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We also split the Greek sausage in some kind of lemon sauce which was delish.

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Every since Kefi closed I’ve been craving my favorite dish there, Flat Pasta, Pulled Braised Rabbit, Graviera Cheese. Of course I had to order it and it was just as delicious as I remembered.

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I also ordered my favorite drink there, the Lemonada, a lemonade based drink made with ouzo.

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The meal was delicious and the company was fantastic. Another day in the win column for me!

Birthday weekend of awesomeness as seen through food: Day 2

One of the reasons that I knew this would be an exceptionally awesome birthday weekend is that I was anticipating the arrival of a very special visitor. A few months back Lisa found a really cheap deal on a flight to NYC for my birthday weekend and decided to snap it up!

Lisa has never in New York at Christmastime and nobody does the holidays quite like we do here. This meant my excitement was twofold. Not only do I get to have one of my close friends here for my birthday weekend (and meet my boyfriend!), I also get to show her the place I love best in the world; New York City at Christmastime.

My day off yesterday was spent mostly running errands (though some were fun like getting my hair done) and a bit of cooking.

For lunch I treated myself to one of my favorite things, an egg sandwich. I scrambled an egg with some milk and cheddar cheese and are it on whole wheat toast with a little salsa. So simple, but so delicious.

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Lisa arrived just in time for dinner. Since neither if us were planning on drinking last night, but we were in a festive mood, I decided to make us some mocktails. I shook orange juice, pineapple juice and some of the liquid from a jar of pickled jalapeños over ice then strained the mixture in to salt rimmed glasses and floated a little seltzer on top. They were good though Lisa and I agreed that they could have been spicier.

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I know that Lisa loves Mexican food so I decided to make fajitas and serve them with corn tortillas since she’s gluten free.

I marinated skirt steak in olive oil, fresh lime juice, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, unsweetened cocoa powder, garlic, salt and pepper and then cooked the meat to a nice medium rare. I served the steak with sautéed peppers and onions, red cabbage for crunch, pickled jalapeños, lime wedges, sour cream and, of course, those corn tortillas. I served all of this lined up on a tray and was so proud of how pretty it looked, but then I forgot to take a picture until we’d eaten and I was putting the leftovers away.

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Birthday weekend day two was another great one and I can’t wait to take Lisa on her first NYC holiday adventure today!

Birthday weekend of awesomeness as seen through food: Day 1

My actual birthday is on Sunday, but I took Friday and Monday off to make a 4 day weekend out of it. That means that as soon as I left work on Thursday I considered my birthday weekend in full effect.

After work, my friend Mary and I went to the happiest place on earth, aka The Mermaid Inn’s “Happiest Two Hours,” which features $1 oysters and half price drinks every day from 5-7pm! Genius, no?

Mary and followed our normal routine. She ordered a white whine, I ordered a beer and then we shared 20 East Coast oysters (sorry West Coast, but our oysters are better!).

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We always have a “toast” with our first oyster because we’re adorable like that.

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After our oysters are finished, we each order the Mermaid Inn’s Lobster Knuckle Escargot. Basically they take an escargot dish and then put a piece of lobster claw meat in each divet. Then the whole thing is covered in garlic, butter parsley and toasted breadcrumbs and it’s served with toasted buttery bread. It is everything that is right with the world in one dish or, as Mary said last night, “It’s like love and happiness on a plate.”

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Oh wait, you thought Mermaid couldn’t get more awesome; well it can! At the end of every meal there they bring you a complimentary mini chocolate pudding served in an espresso cup and a fortune telling fish for fun!

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After we were done with dinner we headed to one of my favorite bars, George Keeleys, where I had two more beers.

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Have we ever discussed on this blog, what a terrible drinker I am? Well, the last thing I consumed last night was the giant glass of water and two Advil that Chris brought me in bed. Not feeling so hot this morning, but it was totally worth it.

Z is for… Zambia, The end is here!

Hello!

Flag of Zambia

Flag of Zambia

It’s finally over! After some triumphs and plenty of bumps, I’ve finally reached my final alphabetical international recipe.

There are only two countries in the world that start with Z, Zimbabwe and Zambia; both in Africa and bordering each other in the southern part of the continent. Finding something to cook from either country was a challenge since both cuisines rely heavily on peanuts, which I’m deathly allergic to so I was delighted when I stumbled on a few mentions of Golabjamoun, a fried sweet potato treat from Zambia.

Traditionally Golabjamoun are fried in peanut oil, which I obviously needed to find a substitute for. Though olive oil isn’t the best of oils for frying, since the end of my 26 Dishes project coincided with the end of Hanukkah and it’s traditional to use olive oil on the holiday, I decided to go that route.

I couldn’t find many recipes for Golabjamoun and those that I did weren;t very detailed (“mix ingredients then fry until done”) so there was a bit of guess work here. Still this was an incredibly easy recipe and my only mistake was not realizing that they were meant to be deep fried and instead shallow fried them in a pan. Oh well, I’ve certainly messed up worse during the 26 Dishes project…

Golabjamoun

  • 1lb (about 2 medium) sweet potatoes; peeled and diced
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon (or more to taste)
  • Oil for frying

Place sweet potatoes and milk in a medium pot set over medium-high heat. Bring milk to a boil, then turn heat down to medium, maintaining a steady boil until the potatoes are very soft and milk has mostly evaporated; about 10-15 minutes (this will largely depend on how small you cut your potatoes).

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Transfer to a mixing bowl and mash the sweet potatoes in to any remaining milk until smooth. Allow to cool slightly.

When mixture is cool enough to handle,  add the flour, sugar and cinnamon and stir until fully incorporated.

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Heat the oil in a frying pan (or dutch oven with thermometer if deep frying). Take a bit of mixture in your hand and shape in to balls about 1 inch big, wetting hands between each and place in the hot oil.

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Fry until brown, flipping half way through, about 5 minutes a side.

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Place the finished Golabjamoun on a paper towel lined plate.

Yields 14-16 Golabjamoun

FINAL VERDICT: B

Chris and I both thought the Golabjamoun were quite tasty and perfect for this season as the cinnamon was very prevalent. I had some left over cranberry sauce so I served that on the side and it paired really well.

I would definitely make these again. I have a feeling that boiling these in milk is kind of unnecessary and instead you could just use left over baked sweet potatoes. Perhaps this could be a great Thanksgiving leftover recipe.

I do think these would’ve been a bit better had they been deep fried, but all in all they were still delish.

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So good with cranberry sauce!


Bon Appetit!

Stay tuned for the announcement of my next project, coming soon…

Can You Really Vote with Your Fork?

Check out this great piece from my amazing friend Kate, published in The Wagner Review.

Can You Really Vote with Your Fork?

Whether we choose to realize it or not, our plates are political. While eating is an incredibly personal act that weaves private preferences, cultural mores, and spiritual practices, it also has much broader societal implications. Every bite of food reflects not only our own choices, but also choices made for us—from what a farmworker was paid to how far the items were shipped.

As a result, since the early 2000s, foodies and average consumers alike have heard the phrase “vote with your fork.” With the advent of the celebrity food advocate—most notably Michael Pollan—and with docu-dramas such as Food, Inc. seeping into the mainstream, the focus of the food system reform movement has converged on the power of individual choice. Yet, can we truly change the world via what we consume, or is it another feeble “slacktivist” technique? The answer, like our food system, is complex.

Read the rest here.