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.

Another dump

Yea, that’s right; this is another photo dump! I’m sorry, I’m still getting back in the swing of blogging again and I keep forgetting to take full pictures of my meals.

Last Thursday Chris and I headed to Colicchio and Sons, one of my favorite restaurants in NYC. We started by splitting the bone marrow with drunken onions. Bone marrow is one of my all time favorite foods and no one does it better than Colicchio and Sons. Chris isn’t as adventurous of an eater as me, but I think I’ve managed to convert him to the church of bone marrow. Of course I forgot to get a picture.

For the entrees I had the skate with brown butter, capers and roasted cauliflower.

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Chris ordered the sirloin with fingerling potatoes and mushrooms.

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For dessert we decided to split the zeppoles (those are fried dough balls for you non NYC/NJ people) with cranberry compote and honey graham cracker ice cream. Before our dessert arrived out waiter came over and with a free glass of dessert wine for each of us! This is not the first time I’ve been given something on the house at Colicchio and Sons because they know that I’m a loyal customer and a huge fan! See why I love it there so much?

Of course I also forgot to take a picture of the dessert, but it was deliciously decedent and the perfect end to a fabulous meal.

After dinner, Chris needed to run back I his office nearby to pick something up. I headed up with him and snapped this pic of the view from his floor. God, I love this city.

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The next day I headed up to Boston to visit some of my besties and meet my newest bestie who was just born a month before to my friends Heather and Justin. As I’ve blogged about before, Massachusetts has this incredible common sense food allergy law that makes it a pleasure for me to eat there.

On Saturday night we met friends at a goo ol’ dive called The Chicken bone for some wings and fries.

I had a split order of traditional hot wings and garlic Parmesan. They were delish, though next time I’ll get the slightly spicier wings.

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We also split a side of sweet potato fries which we’re the standouts of the night. Yum!

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On Sunday morning we hopped over to the Ryle Side Cafe in Beverly, MA. It’s a tiny little mom and pop hole in the wall where everything is homemade. I had the egg scramble with cheddar, mushrooms and asparagus which was served with thick cut toast made from homemade bread, slathered with melty butter. Such a great way to start the day

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This past Friday I decided to introduce Chris to my favorite casual restaurant, Pepolino.

Pepolino is an authentic Northern Italian restaurant downtown. The food is amazing and the ambience, aided by a string of waiters straight from Italy, is charming. It’s a favorite of my family’s and we’re always greeted warmly when we arrive.

We started by splitting the spinach sformato, one of my favorite appetizers there, but of course I forgot to take a picture.

For my entree I ordered the tagliatelle with braised rabbit and slow roasted tomato sauce. Though I’ve convinced Chris to embrace bone marrow, I couldn’t convince him to try rabbit. Oh well, I love it.

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Chris went with the pacchieri, which is similar to a large rigatoni, with spinach and arugula.

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We were stuffed and skipped dessert, which was tough because the ricotta cheesecake at Pepolino is unreal. Luckily, Chris loved Pepolino too and so I know we’ll be back soon.

Yesterday we hit up a beer festival.

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We had a great time and sampled some tasty beers, but my favorite thing I spotted were these pretzel necklaces some people were sporting.

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Genius idea, no? I mean you’re going to want a salty snack after sampling so many beers so why not keep it around your neck!

What have you been eating lately?

Noodle Kugel

So I promised you a noodle kugel recipe, didn’t I?

First, for you non-Jews out there, what the heel is a kugel anyway? Well, according to Wikipedia; “Kugel is a baked Ashkenazi Jewish pudding or casserole, similar to a pie, most commonly made from egg noodles (Lokshen kugel) or potatoes, though at times made of zucchini, apples, spinach, broccoli, cranberry, or sweet potato.” I’d say that’s a pretty accurate description except for the thing about pie. Kugel is nothing like pie.

Though, as Wikipedia mentions, kugels can be made with a variety of things, most commonly kugel refers to the potato or noodle variety. The potato version, which everyone loves except me, is always a savory dish; whereas the noodle version straddles the line between sweet and savory. Though noodle kugel is a sweet dish, often making use of things like raisins and cinnamon, it’s commonly served at brunches alongside bagels and things.

The version my family makes is from a recipe given to my grandmother by a friend back in Brooklyn and as far as I’m concerned it is the best noodle kugel around. I’m not planning on making another one anytime soon so forgive that I’m recycling the photos I took when I made a noodle kugel for Mandy and her mom.

That's Mandy's kitchen, not mine.

That’s Mandy’s kitchen, not mine.

Noodle Kugel

  • 5-6 oz medium egg noodles (I usually eyeball this)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 16 oz pot cheese (or low fat cottage cheese)*
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 sleeve of cinnamon graham crackers* crushed in to crumbs.
Hot out the oven!

Hot out the oven.

Preheat the over to 350 and grease an 8×8 baking dish.

Cook noodles per package directions.

Meanwhile, mix together all other ingredients except for the butter and graham cracker crumbs.

When the noodles have finished cooking, drain them and then add to cheese mixture.

Pour the noodle in to your greased pan. Mixture will be quite loose.

Melt the butter in a small bowl and then mix with the graham cracker crumbs. Cover noodle mixture with buttered graham cracker crumbs.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

Allow to cool to room temperature. Serve.

Yields 8-10 servings

Yum!

Yum!

Cooks Notes:
* Pot cheese is often labeled pot style cottage cheese. If you can’t find that use a reduced fat (NOT non-fat) cottage cheese as it will be thicker.

*You guys get what I mean by “sleeve,” right? Like you buy a box of graham crackers and it comes with 3 separate plastic packaged sleeves inside of it. Use one of those.

This is a dish that reheats extremely well. For individual servings I suggest just cutting yourself a square and then microwaving it for 10-20 seconds just to bring it up to room temperature.

Enjoy!

The F train takes us home

Ok I admit it, this is sort of a throwaway post. Be kind, I’m just getting back in to the swing of blogging.

The weather report last Sunday called for a sunny, 60 degree day. Figuring this would be the last warm(ish) day for a good long while, Chris and I made plans to spend the day in Brooklyn.

When we left Manhattan it was in fact 60 degrees and sunny. A half an hour later, when we got off the subway in Brooklyn, the sky had clouded over and it was windy and cold which meant it was wise to head to Brooklyn Brewery and warm up with some beers in their tasting room.

After getting properly tipsy warmed up we were ready for some food. Unfortunately Smorgasburg is only in Williamsburg on Saturdays, so we hopped on the East River Ferry and made our way to Dumbo which hosts Smorgasburg on Sundays. The Smorgasburg website said they were open until 6pm, but when we got there at 4pm almost all the booths had closed down. Chris grabbed a lemon poppy doughnut just as Dough was closing their booth, which he reported was quite delicious.

I'm allergic to poppy, but it looks nice and light.

I’m allergic to poppy, but it looks nice and light.

Since our Smorgasburg plans were foiled we had to come up with a new game plan. Chris suggested we head to Buttermilk Channel and I jumped at the suggestion. Buttermilk Channel is a restaurant in Carroll Gardens with a great reputation and award winning fried chicken and I’d been dying to try it. The restaurant was a good 40 minute walk from where we were, but we’re New Yorkers and it was an excuse to walk through some of my favorite neighborhoods in Brooklyn; Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens.

We arrived at Buttermilk Channel just as they opened at 5pm for an early dinner. The restaurant is beautiful and homey inside; dimly lit with plenty of windows. When it came time to order I struggled, on the one hand their fried chicken is legendary on the other hand the steak special sounded amazing.

To start we were given warm popovers with honey and sea salt.

To start we were given warm popovers with honey and sea salt.

In the end I went with the steak because it pretty much encompassed everything I love in one dish; a ribeye steak with garlic butter and a fennel, blue cheese gratin.

O! M! G! I did not regret my choice. It was so good and there was so much of it that Chris ended up eating some of it and I still had enough to throw in to my lunchtime salads for the next two days.

Sorry that this picture is so bad, it was very dark in there and my phone was dying.

Sorry that this picture is so bad, it was very dark in there and my phone was dying.

Chris went with the burger which he reported was delicious, nice and juicy and was served with the perfect sharp cheddar melted on top. I stole a couple of fries which were delish too.

Burger and fries

Burger and fries

Because it was so early we skipped any appetizers, but we were both eyeing the cornbread with chili-lime butter. My friend Chrissann, a frequent patron of Buttermilk Channel, said we’d missed out on the squash tart to start and that trying the fried chicken is a must. Ah well this just means that we’ll have to go back and I’ll write up a full review, but needless to say Buttermilk Channel lived up to its reputation!

The title of this post comes from this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JQcz1aJEnE