I Love ’em All

Pancakes, that is. I. Love. Pancakes. Is it a simple batter? Can it be flipped using a spatula and a griddle? Is it flat and round? I will eat it, sir.

To celebrate the early acquisition of a highly coveted new cookbook, I picked a pancake recipe and hopped to. Amanda Hesser’s upcoming The Essential New York Times Cookbook is everything you could ever want from food in the New York Times. She has pulled recipes from literally every decade of the Times’ recipe section’s existence, tried the recipes out, and offered up her suggestions for making them delicious in the present day. I freaking love this cookbook. And I ESPECIALLY love the hilarious but still tempting recipes from the 1970s and 80s, most of which involve pickling and weird methods of serving eggs. This is the stuff, people. This. Is. The. Stuff.

On the menu:
Fresh corn griddle cakes with parmesan and chives
Serves 4-6
Adapted from Amanda Hesser’s version of Jack Bishop’s “If Corn’s Off the Cob, Use Your Imagination” from The Essential New York Times Cookbook, published by W. W. Norton, available in October 2010

4 medium ears corn, shucked
1 egg
1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 Tbsp chives, snipped
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp unsalted butter

Working over a large bowl, grate the corn on the large holes of a box grater until the cobs are clean; discard the cobs. Add the egg, flour, cheese, chives, salt, and pepper to the corn. Stir until the batter is smooth. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper as needed.

Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Scoop up 1/4 cup of the thick batter and scrape it into the skillet, smoothing the mound to a flat pancake for cooking. Cook each pancake for 6 minutes on each side for best results (you want each cake crispy on the outside and cooked all the way through, unlike a traditional pancake that is more delicate).

Et voila! Crispy corn cakes that you can serve with virtually any meal. They would be lovely in a bread basket on the table at dinner with roast chicken and mashed potatoes, or warmed in the toaster with a pat of butter and maybe a little mango salsa over top. I was also thinking these would be phenomenal in place of an English muffin in Eggs Benedict. But then again… I am literally always thinking of Eggs Benedict.

Please don’t judge me.

Bon weekend!

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Beet It

I know, I know… I am SO punny. No one has ever made this joke before. Anyway.

Photo c/o BlogHer.com

Beets! They are beautiful in color and phenomenal in texture. If you’ve ever had a bad borsht experience, maybe you’re scared of them. As a kid I vividly remember frozen Tupperware full of hot pink soup and I never, EVER wanted to taste that terrifying liquid. But I have moved on. Grown up. You know.

Most beets are boiled, broiled, sauteed, or roasted and while they are delicious cooked up, they are also phenomenal raw. Just be aware: your hands will turn a lovely shade of magenta if you work with them bare-skinned.

On the menu:
Raw beet salad (Adapted from Mark Bittman’s Raw Beet Salad)

1 pound beets
1/2 pound carrots
1 tsp spicy whole grain mustard
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel beets and carrots, and then use a potato peeler to shave them into long strips. Mince the shallot and add to beets and carrots. Toss with mustard, olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper. Chill before serving.

*Please note: due to technical difficulties (seriously, the story of my life this week) the picture above is not of the crispy, tangy salad I myself created and enjoyed. Using my recipe above, your salad will be “earthier” looking than the one in the picture. Go with it, friends.

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A Short Story

I’d been working on a couple posts. Nothing fancy. Just some good old fashioned ooey gooey pictures with some witty banter to follow. You know how I do.

They were saved on my work computer. I know, I shouldn’t have been posting at work. Sue me. Sike. Please don’t sue me.

My computer crashed. That’s all there is to it. I almost cried, but I did not. And so, in lieu of my own fancy pictures of gorgeous eats, I give you this:

Food Porn Daily

I just… well… I… yum. Oh… yum.

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Way Up North

Every once in awhile I need an escape from the city. I know, it’s crazy. Who would need a break from the constant insanity of the city that never sleeps? Lunacy.

This weekend I took a short MetroNorth trip up the Hudson River to New Paltz, NY to celebrate a friend’s birthday. If you ever make a trip to New Paltz, you’ll find a little college town with more than a few 60s-era hippies perched on curbsides. It’s charming. And it has some good eats.

Gomen-Kudasai 215 Main Street, New Paltz, NY. A small, traditional-style Japanese restaurant off the crowded central area of Main Street in New Paltz. The lawn is pure kitsch, as the restaurant is attached to a bizarre antiques store, but that’s the beauty of New Paltz. Strange oddities juxtaposed with college comforts. Beauty.

On the menu:
Shrimp and pork dumplings
Tempura vegetables and shrimp
Miso soup
Pickles (cucumbers with rice vinegar – not your classic Vlassic)
Sapporo beer

Verdict: Stunning. The tempura was crispy and not at all greasy, the vegetables were fresh and crisp, and the tray was full of food at a reasonable price*. I was so impressed by the meal that I asked whose cell phone had the best camera so I could snap a picture. I didn’t plan on eating anything incredible over the weekend but this place was delicious. Also impressive was the homey feel we experienced when we walked in. The owner greeted us warmly at the door and our waiter was attentive and friendly without being too much. The table next to us had kids with them and the staff went out of their way to prepare something special to the families’ specific requests. Gomen-Kudasai has a sushi menu as well that I’ll delve into on my next visit. And oh yes… there will be a next visit.

*Please note that I suffer from what is known as “New York City Price Dimentia.” Symptoms include forgetting what constitutes as affordable. The plate pictured was $15. To me, incredibly cheap. Maybe for you? Not so much. You’ve been warned.

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Happy National Donut Day!

That’s right. National DONUT Day. Good thing Friday calories don’t count.

Today enjoy a free donut from Krispy Kreme at Penn Station or your local Dunkin’ Donuts (with purchase of any beverage).

A little history on the day (thanks to Wikipedia, of course): National Donut Day is on the first Friday of June each year and follows on the Donut Day event created by the Salvation Army in 1938 to honor the women who served donuts to soldiers during World War I.

So eat a donut today, people! It’s basically your patriotic duty. Happy weekend!

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Peachy Keen

As I mentioned, I’m trying not to chunk-ify in the month of June, so here is a quick and simple and DELICIOUS dessert idea that my lovely friend Becca came up with to satisfy my crazy sweet tooth without killing my new health plan.

On the menu:
Grilled Virginia peaches with cinnamon and sugar
Serves 2

2 ripe peaches
1 Tbsp butter
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Slice peaches in half and remove the pit. Heat up grill, or grill pan to medium/high heat. Spread butter on face of peaches and place face-side-down on the hot grill. Let grill for around 2 minutes. Remove from grill and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon while still hot.

Easy as pie, right? And honestly… it IS a pie! A peach pie. Without the buttery crust and 8 pounds of sugar. You could also make this even healthier by spraying the grill with cooking spray and leaving out the butter, or by using just cinnamon instead of the brown sugar and cinnamon. Peaches have so much natural sugar that comes out even more when you heat them, that you barely even need the extra sweetness. As a man in a coffee shop once told me, “You don’t need all that sugar! You’re sweet enough already!” And so are you, dear readers. So are you.

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I’ll meet you anytime you want, in our Italian restaurant

I’m just going to come right out and say it: if you don’t have a great sense of smell, then I feel really sorry for you. Your life is like a bowl of rice krispies that’s got the snap crackle but is missing the pop. Because when a batch of garlicky, pancetta-laden scallops are bubbling away in a hot oven and that glorious, buttery smell is wafting through the air… there is literally nothing else like it. Nothing.

On the menu:
Scallop Gratin (adapted from Ina Garten’s bay scallop gratin)
Serves 2

3 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
2 oz thinly sliced Pancetta, minced
3 Tbsp minced fresh parsley, plus 2 extra sprigs for garnish
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 Tbsp dry white wine, separated into 1 Tbsp (for topping) and 3 Tbsp (for the bottom of the baking dish)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 lb fresh sea scallops

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

To make the topping, place the butter in a bowl. With an electric mixer on the lowest speed, add the garlic, shallot, pancetta, chopped parsley, lemon juice, 1 Tbsp of white wine, salt, and pepper and mix until combined. With the mixer still on low, add the 3 Tbsp of olive oil slowly, until combined. Fold in the panko with a rubber spatula and set aside.

Rinse scallops and pat dry with paper towels. In a non-stick skillet, heat remaining 1 Tbsp of olive oil over medium/high heat. Place scallops in skillet, with 1 inch between each. Sear on one side for 2 minutes, flip over and sear on the other side for 2 minutes.

Place 3 Tbsp of the wine in the bottom of a small baking dish and place seared scallops in the dish [NOTE: for best results, your scallops should be touching in the dish with little to no room between them].  Spoon the garlic butter evenly over the top of the scallops. Bake for 10 to 11 minutes, until the topping is golden and sizzling. Turn on your broiler and let the dish broil for 2 minutes, until browned. Garnish with parsley. Serve with crusty slices of French baguette.

*note: these photos were taken with Becca's incredible new camera with a food setting... apologies for the crap pictures from my own camera that will follow this post

Also note that this dish yields AMAZING dipping sauce so you’ll need plenty of bread to sop up all that goodness.

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