Saturday, October 24, 2009

Best. Comfort. Food. Ever.

Okay, while it's certainly not for everyone, the Tea Lounge (in Park Slope) has a sandwich that could really cure the meanest of my mean reds: Nutella, Peanut-butter, and Banana. Its taste brings me back to those magical afterschool hours when I was in elementary school, home alone, watching cartoons, and creating incredible fatty-salty-sweet-carby concoctions from anything I could find in the pantry. But, unlike my cold PB, Banana, Fluff, Hersey's syrup, and rice krispies sandwiches of yore, the Tea Lounge tastiness is actually grilled to goey perfection. Sometimes it's good being a grownup!

Posted by ShoZu

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Leek Curry with Tofu and Thai Basil

Having barely made an impact on my oversized Thai basil bunch with the winter squash soup, I tried to use up a little more of it and cook up some leeks sitting around since last week's csa haul.

Like most "recipes" I share on this blog, this is dead simple. Sauté some clean, chopped leeks and green pepper strips in a pan with sesame oil, butter, and olive oil (one by itself would, of course, do) and stir in some green curry. Once caramelized, add in coconut milk until it looks like a dish you might order in a Thai restaurant. Throw in some Thai basil leaves to steep while you brown up some tofu. Mix the tofu in with the curry and serve with rice, garnished with purple basil flowers.

Posted by ShoZu

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Winter Squash and Thai Basil Soup

A ridiculously large bunch of Thai Basil (with lovely purple flowers) arrived with my CSA take today. I was pretty clueless about what to do with it until I thought about the two types of winter squash which came in today, too, and remembered a pumpkin curry from Busaba Eathai in London.

I sautéed some garlic and shallots in sesame oil, butter, and olive oil, stirring in some green curry paste after a minute or so. I then coated a couple pounds of cubed squash in the mixture and then poured in enough veggie stock to cover it. Then I covered it (and simmered). After the squash was fork tender, I simmered for another 5 min and then got the boat motor going. I salted to taste and blended in some of the Thai basil.

Can't wait for tomorrow's leftovers!

Posted by ShoZu

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

(Pureed) Purple Pepper Pesto Pasta (with Spinach)

Okay, it's official: call me an infomercial but I am using my oven about 80% less frequently now that I have the NüWave. To get my oven to preheat to 450 for some veggie roasting takes over half an hour--in that time I can have the thing roasted and done in my crazy space-age appliance. Case(s) in point: the garlic and island purple peppers I roasted perfectly in about 12 minutes. After roasting, I tossed the peppers and a few cloves into the food processor and processed with some olive oil. I let that sit for a bit as I cooked up some linguini and sautéed some shallots, spinach, and the rest of the cloves. I scooped the pesto into the sauté pan and added starchy pasta water until the conistency was right. Stirred in the pasta over heat and microplaned some Parmesan. The texture was practically like an alfredo but the only dairy was the sprinkling of cheese; it was just the way the pesto coated the pasta that felt so decadent. And talk about nutritional value! This dish for two used a full head of garlic, 4 medium-sized peppers, and a big ol' bunch of spinach!

Posted by ShoZu

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cheatsy Peach Pancakes

After pulling out all the stops for a homemade poached eggs florentine (okay okay: I used storebought English muffins!) on Friday, I decided to let my kitchen tools and my pantry do all the work for this morning's peach pancakes.

it all starts with an Aunt Jemima powdered pancake mix. Soooo easy, and to make them taste (almost) as good as homemade, I stir in some (wild berry and ginger) preserves. Meanwhile back at the ranch, or, in this case, my Nü Wave oven (don't judge, dude), I have some maple sausages (making a return cameo) browning perfectly alongside ramekins of diced white peaches (unripe is fine!), microplane'd ginger, brown sugar, and butter. When the flapjacks are ready, I drench them in the perfectly jammy "baked" peach sauce and serve alongside the crunchy juicy sweet savoury (humanely raised!) pork sausages.

No syrup needed, even for a stroope hound like me!

Posted by ShoZu

The Bombay: Flex Mussels

With shellfish so succulent you can easily forgive the punny name, Flex Mussels on 82nd and 3rd boasts over 20 moules-frites concoctions and about 5 oysters on the half shell, including one which is an exclusive. The oysters (roughly $3 each) aligned perfectly with the menu's tasting notes and were easily the best I have ever had. Ditto the full & meaty mussels which, a la The Bombay ($19, pictured above, after K and I had gorged for quite some time) come bathed in a white wine, mango, curry, star anise, and cinnamon sauce. Suh-blime.

Dont miss the homemade donuts (4 for $9) on the dessert menu, especially the wild blueberry!

(The place can get quite loud and the service a little sluggish when busy, so I recommend popping in after 10pm)

Posted by ShoZu

sweet potato gnocchi with brown butter sage, maple sausage, raisins, and spinach

Confession: I didn't make the gnocchi from scratch, nor did I make the unfathomably delicious maple sausage (which came from one of my CSA's neighbouring farms). What I did do, however, is have the good sense to brown up the sausage, remove it from the pan, deglaze with butter, brown up some sage, sauté some spinach (with a few healthy cracks of nutmeg), throw in some rehydrated raisins, boil up the gnocchi, spoon some of the starchy water into the sauce pan, throw the sausage back in, stir in the drained gnocchi, and coat the whole thing in fresh Parmesan.

(One other confession: this recipe was ripped off from the rather excellent Vespa (on 84th & 2nd) which has a similar sweet potato raviolacci with raisins.)

Posted by ShoZu

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Vitaorganic: a London restorative for your body (and your wallet)

Though my interest in photographing the food certainly raised a few eyebrows, and my revelation that I was not a vegetarian raised a few more, I hope the staff and owners of Soho's Vitaorganic (on wardour street) will be flattered that I devoted two of this trip's five London meals to their delicious (and deliciously low-priced) "nutrition revolution."

Vitaorganic offers a smorgasbord of organic vegan and vegetarian cold and hot dishes, many featuring raw and/or live ingredients and all without a trace of processed flours, sugars, etc. They also have a dizzying number of hot and cold beverages from smoothies to lattes to lassis to juices to soft drinks, with ingredients like carob, barley, rose hip, ginger, and their living "mylk." If I've made this all sound like the backroom of a health food store, that only tells one half of the story: sure, this is healthy food, but it will also satisfy your inner-gourmand: a chef's care has most certainly gone into these exotic yet comforting flavor fusions, and the texture pairings and bright, vibrant colors thrill the other senses.

If you take your "nutrition revolution" to go, a satisfying meal for two plus fancy drinks comes to about £8, a terrific deal in an expensive city. There's even a tranquil little church a block away!

Posted by ShoZu

is it wrong to eat duck eggs in front of a duck pond?

any of this blog's readers know that I have, over the last two years, been evolving and refining my relationship to meat as a cook, as a consumer, and as an eater. though I didn't get a chance to try alain passard'd michelin-starred vegetarian cuisine in Paris (as it costs $170 per person), I was moved by his frustration "trying to have a creative relationship with a corpse."

and yet: I love the taste of meat when it is one part of a brilliantly prepared meal. i do, however, grow increasingly uncomfortable when I don't know the sourcing or the ethics of the meat's origin.

it is, therefore, always thrilling to come to London, where they take these issues very seriously. enter: inn the park, an incredible breakfast spot nestled in st James park and overlooking the duck pond. their menu lists the source of every ingredient and all of these sources are local farms with ethical practices. nothing tastier than ethics!

I had the above English breakfast with duck eggs, black pudding, massive (and perfectly-cooked) whole mushroom and tomato, baked beans, a tattie scone (need to figure out what this is besides delicious), unsmoked bacon back, and the piece de resistance, sage sausage with smoked bacon IN it.

So, while I struggle to figure out what relationship to meat will make me (and the world and the animals) as happy as possible, it's lovely to know that places like Inn the Park are around, making sure omnivores (ambivalent and otherwise) can make healthy, ethical, and environmentally responsible choices.

Posted by ShoZu

abannach in trafalgar square

abannach is a very special place. it's one of the slickest lounges I've ever set foot in with a killer playlist (or DJ, not quite sure), but they didn't even glance at my footwear to see if I was up-to-snuff (I was not). they serve the finest scotch in the world (with prices going up to $500 a shot for a 1960 laphroaig), but my lovely scotch (their peatiest offering, as per my request) and k's gorgeous cocktail (the london pride, pictured above) came to just over $20. oh, and they serve hagis. oh, and the sharp waiters and mixologists wear kilts.

it's at 66 trafalgar square in London, and if you'll be going during dinner hour, be sure to google for the "50% off" coupons scattered around the web.

Posted by ShoZu

and this was dessert: the carre d'or

dark chocolate mouse spiked with mariage freres' decadent black magic tea, with layers of salted butter caramel and chocolate biscuit, all enveloped in gold leaf and sumptuously resting in a pool of tart red currant's an unfathomably sensual experience just watching your fork cut through this gorgeous composition...and then the taste! my goodness that shouldn't be legal.

mariage freres has various locations throughout Paris, but my fave is the one on tiny bourg tibourg in the marais.

Posted by ShoZu

mariage freres iced teas

I've lost all hope of ever blogging the early July recipes I cooked in New York and I'm now just doing my darndest to catch up on Paris before I leave London for India (where I imagine I'll be quite the busy glutton).

k and I had resolved to spend one of our last Paris lunches at la maison de la truffe. a Madeleine-area truffle specialist I'd been hoping to try for 7 years. But: it's August dice. After walking about 3 miles on Paris' hottest day we were desperate for food, drink, and sanctuary.

We returned to our perennial marais refuge, the extraordinary tea salon, mariage freres. We ordered iced teas bigger than our heads (smoky Earl Grey and a jasmine green). The teas are served with liquid sugar and paper straws (so the tea's flavor isn't harmed by plastic).

I can't imagine being more refreshed.

Posted by ShoZu

Monday, August 3, 2009

it's a pizza. in a cone!!!

I was strolling around rue d'assas and just at the corner of rue du Rennes, I discovered an adorable (and as yet unlisted) bar a manger named PG's. they specialize in playful fast food like "pasta in a box" and the above pictured "pizza in a cone." my selection, the $7 rennes d'assas (I was rewarded with a free tasty bluberry mini-muffin when I guessed where it got its name!), had artichoke hearts, country ham, tomato sauce, and two different types of cheese.

it definitely tasted like a pizza, and a good one at that, though the crust was a little thick for my TMJ-riddled jaw. best part of all, since you can one-hand these "slices," I was able to continue biking on the velib you can just make out in the background of my photo. talk about fast food!!!

Posted by ShoZu

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

macrobiotic magic @ grand apetit

even though I'm still more than 3 posts behind on some great early July meals and recipes, I needed to post a mention for the delightful vegan macrobiotic food I had the pleasure of eating last night.

grand apetite may be light on the decor (and the salt!) but it more than makes up for this with a hearty and healthy meal at a price tag you'll hardly notice, even when the dollar is getting its (green)backside kicked raw by the euro.

while the menu offers a number of options, it seems to make to most sense to pick either the tart or the assiette, both just over 10 euros with all-you-can-drink heavenly herbal tea. the assiette, pictured above, comes with two different grains (I went for couscous and the croquette), three or four little salads, some cooked veggies, some hijiki seaweed, and some tofu. after you order and pay, you go find a table...which you set yourself! in a city filled with fois gras and frites, it was a terrific treat to hunker down with some whole grains for a little while...

the restaurant is a couple of blocks away from the Bastille, located at 9 rue de la cerisaie.

(oh, and, apologies for all the weird lower-case in recent posts; my de facto iPhone blogging app eliminated autocaps and I'm apparently just too lazy to hold the shift key.)

Posted by ShoZu

Thursday, July 16, 2009

When life gives you currants (and lots of them!)...

...make Mint Currant juice. I destemmed and food processed a pint of red currants and a pint of their white cousins with a handful of mint, half cup of water, and squeeze or three of honey. I strained the resulting pulp, served over ice, and smiled.

Posted by ShoZu