Tag Archives: Dinner

Bonjour, Tournesol

c/o Flickr

Greetings, readers! Apologies for the long hiatus. I bet you were sick of staring at that greasy pizza, eh? My new day job keeps me busy and I find at the end of the long day, all I want to do is read my trashy Glamour magazine and go to bed at 10:00. But I’ve been eating some incredible stuff lately, and it’s worth sharing.

I’m not ashamed to say that I have been single for most Valentine’s Days in my life. Ok… all of them. Every Valentine’s Day. I’m a nice girl! Seriously!

Anyway. This year, as I am finally not single anymore, I wanted to celebrate but also wanted to avoid spending $300 on prix-fixe menus set amid red balloons and roses. The Boyfriend and I decided we’d celebrate on Valentine’s Day Eve instead, when most restaurants are still serving their regular menus and half the amount of people are out foraging for romance in the form of eats.

Tournesol 5012 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City, NY. Tournsesol is a tiny French restaurant settled in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Long Island City, Queens, just north of Brooklyn. With a kitchen headed by Christophe Morvan, this simple but well executed menu has something for every taste, at prices that allow you to come back again and again. It’s a special occasion restaurant without the special occasion price tag. The entire staff is fantastically and authentically French, and incredibly kind and helpful.

On the menu:
Tartelette of brie with caramelized figs
Bouillabaisse
Beef Bourguignon with tagliatelles
Bread pudding with raisins and crème anglais
New Orleans style beignets with orange rum sauce, vanilla ice cream, and mango

Verdict: Friends… I think I have a new favorite restaurant. Never mind that it’s in Queens and I have a deep and profound love of my borough, this place is everything. It’s small but not crowded, intimate but unassuming, delicious dishes but simple fare, and a quality, high-class dining experience without Manhattan price tags. The tartelette was a bit salty but sweet, almost mozzarella like in flavor and consistency and perfectly complemented by the juicy figs. I adored my bouillabaisse, and the bread pudding was out of this world. But the real meal winner was the simple beef and pasta with pearl onions that tasted like it had all been simmering together in red wine for days, and God’s egg timer went off and he reached down into the Tournesol kitchen and said “Now! Now the beef is DONE!”

Ahem. So… in other words… I liked it. It was pretty good. You should eat there. Amen.

Apologies for the lack of original pictures, or pictures in general. It was Valentine’s Day dinner and I felt like a goober pulling out my camera. Just go see for yourself!

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Brown Butter Goodness

Remember that time I had planned on making fabulous Greek salads for dinner, and then The Boyfriend said, “…Oh. Really?” but I already had all the ingredients and was totally stumped and starving? That was a nice time.

So I looked at what I had, forced my brain into “comfort, filling food” mode, and came up with this. Very similar to chicken dishes I’ve made in the past, but with a twist. And brown butter never hurt nobody. Well… unless you’re prone to high cholesterol. Then maybe stay away.

On the menu:
Fried chicken with tomato brown butter cream sauce

2 large chicken breasts, flattened to 1 inch thick
1 Tbsp canola oil
8 Ritz crackers, crumbled [I use Ritz because I love the sweet, butteryness of the crackers but Panko works here, too]
1 egg, beaten
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

In a small saucepan, melt better over medium heat just until the color of the butter turns light brown and gives off a nutty aroma. Lower heat, and whisk in flour until a paste develops. Gradually whisk in milk and raise heat to medium. Stir occasionally until the sauce thickens, around 10 minutes. Add heavy cream and stir for another five minutes. Add parmesan cheese and tomatoes and reduce heat so the sauce simmers. Cook for another ten minutes, and then salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, dip chicken breasts in egg and then Ritz crumbs. Heat 1 Tbsp canola oil over medium/high heat. Set chicken in the hot oil and cook for 7 minutes on each side, until the breast is cooked through. Plate chicken and pour sauce over.

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Happy Friday!

Happy Friday, loves. I woke up to white powdery beautiful streets this morning, and of course, immediately checked my e-mail to see if I had a snow day. No dice.

Have you seen this? It’s called “Smooth Criminal Flash Mob at Eataly.” Have you clicked it yet? No? Then what the H is wrong with you?

Just wanted to say a quick hello and remind you of some things you might like to make this weekend. It’s all comfort food, and it’s all guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Also guaranteed to make you want to hit the gym on Monday. You’re welcome.

Breakfast! pancakes…

Lunch! peanut butter…

Dinner! carbonara…

Dessert! cupcakes… (pictured above)

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Midtown Restaurant Recommendation

People ask me all the time for restaurant recommendations, usually in the form of, “My family is staying in the West Village and they want an affordable Moroccan restaurant that will seat all 17 of them at 7PM on a Saturday and one is a vegan and one is lactose intolerant. Do you know of anything?”

The one neighborhood I’m asked about the most is midtown. “Can you recommend something affordable and delicious in midtown that isn’t tourist central or Europa Cafe?”

I’m happy to say I finally can.

Remember this beauty?

(click the pic for the original post!)

Mia Dona is a relatively affordable, incredibly delicious Italian restaurant in midtown Manhattan (58th Street and 3rd Avenue) that is chic enough to make out-of-towners feel like they’re eating haute cuisine but rustic and friendly enough that they won’t stare down at something foreign and squishy and green that they’ve never seen before and ask, “What do I do with this?”

Recommended dishes:
Anything with meatballs
Ricotta gnocchi with roasted cauliflower, peas, pancetta, and basil
Chocolate cake with rosemary creme brulee (this was to DIE for)

It should be said that the service was a bit slow and the decor kind of strange (my dining partner commented, “I like the… farm equipment?”) but it serves its purpose: a reliable, relatively affordable, upscale dining experience that I’d recommend time and again.

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These Pancakes Have a Secret

I’m about to tell you a story, but in order to read it, you’re going to have to put your judgment face away and slap on an open minded grin.

Got it?

Okay, here goes. I ate pancakes 3 days in a row. I can’t explain it. I needed something comforting and warm and salty and sweet and when I got home last night it was beautiful and snowy and I thought, “What else do people eat when it’s cold and snowy and Christmastime but pancakes?” I couldn’t come up with anything. So I made these. And they have a secret.

HEY. Remember when I told you not to judge me? Pancakes with bacon sounded good, so I thought, I will combine these beauties into one easily consumed dish.

I started by crisping up the bacon real nice, setting it aside to drain, pouring the grease out of the pan, and then making the pancakes (using this recipe*, obviously) in that same beautiful pan all ready to go and coated with bacon grease. Once I poured the batter in the pan I laid the crispy strips in the center of the pancake and cooked as usual.

Then for the sauce: I cubed some apple and sauteed it in a small saucepan with 2 Tbsp of butter, 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, and 2 tsp of cinnamon. Once the apples are softened, you pour the mixture on top of the pancakes.

And then you eat your face off. Or you share. But… probably the former.

*I realized upon arriving home that I was out of baking powder. I said a few curse words, looked out at the snow, and then remembered I could make my own. 2 parts cream of tartar to 1 parts baking soda = baking powder. (For example: in this recipe you need 3 tsp of baking powder, so instead you’d use 2 tsp cream of tartar and 1 tsp baking soda) A handy trick for you in case you’re ever in the same predicament.

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Post Holiday Blues

Hey remember how great it was to spend an extended weekend (or in my case, 10 days) doing nothing but stuffing your face and sleeping in and enjoying the snow from your warm snuggly couch with a cup of hot tea? I hope to carry that feeling all the way through New Year’s and ring in 2011 plump and happy. It’s a personal goal.

I realize I’m late with Thanksgiving recipes, but this next one (and tomorrow’s) can be enjoyed all winter long. It’s just comfort food, kids. No need to put a label on it.

On the menu:
Butternut squash, leek, and apple gratin
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Serves 5

3 small leeks, white part only (tough outer skin removed), halved and thinly sliced
3 large Granny Smith apples, halved, cored, and sliced 1/2 inch thick slices
1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/8 inch slices
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp ground sage
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350. Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and 2 Tbsp of water, and sautee 3-4 minutes. Add white wine and sage, and cook 5-7 minutes until the wine has reduced by half. Remove from heat.

In a shallow baking dish, layer the butternut squash in one overlapping layer. Salt and pepper. Layer leeks over the top of the squash. Layer apples on top of the leeks. Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes at 350. Raise heat to 450, remove the foil, sprinkle cheese on top and bake for 10 minutes until bubbling.

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Kabocha Squash

A few weeks ago I posted a recipe for butternut squash risotto, of which my boyfriend and his roommates picked out all the squash. Boys. Who understands them anyway?

So in anticipation of making dinner for a lady, I turned once more to squash for a revamp on the risotto recipe. And this time I’m turning it inside out.

This is a terrible cell phone picture; I've noticed when I'm REALLY eager to eat something my pictures come out blurry. Go figure.

On the menu:
Stuffed kabocha squash with wild rice and chicken
Serves 4
Loosely inspired by this recipe from Martha Stewart

1 large kabocha squash, quartered, seeds removed
2 Tbsp butter
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
16 oz. baby Portobello mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp dried rubbed sage
Salt and pepper to taste
6 oz wild rice blend (I used an Uncle Ben’s box and threw out the seasoning packet)
3 large chicken breasts, diced into 1 inch cubes
1 Tbsp olive oil
8 oz parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet, arrange squash with one cut side down. Roast until tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, about 40 minutes (test doneness after 40 minutes but if it isn’t tender, leave it in for another 10).

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add shallot, garlic, mushrooms and sage; season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add rice and 1 3/4 cups water; bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook until tender, without stirring, about 25 minutes.

Heat olive oil over medium/high heat. Cook chicken until cooked all the way through and browned.

Remove rice from heat, and stir in chicken and cheese. Season stuffing with salt and pepper to taste. Plate squash, skin side down, and heap stuffing into squash quarters. Top with more grated parmesan cheese. And if you’re like my friend Meagan, grate a tiny pile of parmesan cheese on your plate and eat it with a fork. Ain’t no shame.

*Note: My boss gave me 2 gorgeous kabocha squash from her CSA, one orange and one green. You could replace the kabocha with any squash that is on the sweet side: butternut, acorn, etc. Just test the doneness of the squash when roasting after about 25 minutes so it doesn’t turn to mush.

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