Friday, February 26, 2010

Stuffed Jalapenos - The Perfect Cocktail Bite!

Yesterday I used some leftovers, and some things in the fridge that needed to get used before they went bad. At Christmastime I bought back a bunch of groceries, including the remaining bacon and bleu cheese crumbles that were still left. Then I also had some fresh jalapenos left over from football season (peppers stay so nicely in the crisper!). Earlier this week I baked a bunch of chicken, and I had leftovers from that too.

So - I figured, what the heck? Let's make stuffed jalapenos!

I had a whole pound of jalapenos (what? they were on sale!), and I remembered that it is recommended to wear gloves when you cut hot peppers. I didn't have any gloves, but my hands are pretty dry from winter, so I was pretty sure the oil from the jalapenos would sink right in. So, I rubbed olive oil on my hands. If you decided to use this technique, be absolutely sure to be very careful. The oil makes your hands very slippery, and you need to use a sharp knife.

So, I cut the peppers in half lengthwise (making little boats) and deseed them. Then I roasted them for about 25 minutes. I saw this on Guy Fieri's show - pre-baking the peppers you can cook them to taste without overcooking the cheese :)

I made the stuffing like this:

8 oz light cream cheese
1C light sour cream
1C bleu cheese crumbles
2C finely chopped chicken
16 oz bacon cooked crisply and crumbled
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Mix the ingredients together and stuff the pepper boats. This makes ALOT of stuffing, so you may want to cut it down to a quarter or half. Also, the stuffing tastes much better after sitting overnight. Bake the peppers for an additional 25 minutes, let cool 5 minutes and enjoy!

Now to find more things to stuff with the left over stuffing...maybe zucchini boats???
And here is a photo of the lovely snow we are getting today :) Almost March :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Macaron Cafe - ooh-wee - these are good!

While I was with Kathy and her gang this week, and we were making our way back to the parking garage when I stumbled upon the MacarOn Cafe on 161 West 36th Street. I have been reading about macarons on the Foodbuzz entries lately (just go to Foodbuzz from the ad to the left, and search on macaron for a number of entries).

When I first read about these gorgeous little treats, I was confused. I'd never heard of a macaron. I'd heard of a macaroon - and these are obviously not those. And I thought, I need to find some of these babys - they must be here in the city that doesn't sleep!

So, when I stumbled upon this adorable little shop, I had to sneak in while the valet brought Kathy her car. The case was filled with fluffy gem like cookies, and they are flavors like lavender honey, grapefruit, passion fruit and creme de sal. I could have easily found a couple dozen to take home, but I was able to hold myself back. I bought a box of 6, which were placed in a beautiful see-thought box which lined the cookies up in a pretty row, and the box was placed in a special clear shopping bag which allows anyone walking by you to see your treats (and probably makes them think - oooh! I want some of those!).

When I got home, Rick and I tasted and savored them. The outside is a poof or a light crack as you break the tender outter shell. Then the cookie becomes pleasingly chewy with light sweet filling inside. These are a serious treat!

If you do go to Foodbuzz, you will see entries about how to make these. And, if you don't have a macaron shop near you, I highly recommend you set aside a day to try them. But if you are lucky, really really lucky, and you have a shop near by, go immediately! Macarons are a special treat :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Girly Shopping with Kathy, Sarah and Michele

Kathy, Sarah and Michele met me at the 32nd Street entrance to Macy's for an afternoon full of shopping! We made our way to the Junior department on 4 - once Sarah and Michele were safely ensconced in the clearance area, Kath and I went up a couple floors to do some of our own shopping! After a few hours, and many cell phone check ins, we took our well won spoils over to Legends for a good shopping day lunch! I had the steak salad, Kath went for the fish and chips, Sarah had the sliders, and Michele had the macaroni and cheese - we ate well, and were thankful to rest our feet!! Next we took a cab over to Times Square so Sarah and Michele could shop more - after a couple stores Sarah kindly treated us to coffee at Starbucks. Kath and I took a seat in the new chairs on Broadway, and the girls shopped even more. We were going to hit Madame Toussauds, but everyone was TOO TIRED from our big game hunting!! What a great day. Hope you drive back to Foxwoods safely Kath!!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Chicken Normandy a la Suzee

After a long nap today, I decided to start cooking something homey. After reading a number of recipes on line, and considering the stuff piled up in my fridge with no future, here is what I whipped up.
2 C low fat low salt chicken stock
1/2 C apple cider vinegar
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
3 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed (1")
1 large crisp apple, peeled, cored and cubed (1")
5T butter
2 large boneless chicken breasts, cut in 1" pieces
1.5t dried thyme, divided
2T flour
1C corn
1/4C brandy
1/4C heavy cream

Put the chicken broth, vinegar and carrots in a large heavy pot, and simmer until the carrots are tender. Use a slotted spoon to remove the carrots from the liquid, and reserve them in a bowl. Add cubed potatoes and apples to the pot, and simmer covered until very soft, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat, and remove the apples and potatoes with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Mash them fairly smooth with 3T of butter, and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Pour the liquid from the pot to a bowl and reserve.

Roll the chicken pieces in salt, pepper, 1t of thyme, and the flour. Add 2 T of butter to the pot, and brown the chicken in 2 batches - cook it through. Once the chicken is done, put the it in the bottom of the casserole dish. Add the broth mixture back to the pot, and deglaze it, bringing up all the browned bits. Add the brandy and cream to the pot, and simmer until reduced to about a cup.

Layer the carrots and corn over the chicken, and then add the sauce to the casserole. Spread the potato mixture over the top of the casserole. You can refrigerate it at this point, or pop it in a 350 oven for 30 minutes. Once baked, up the temp to 400, and bake for 10 more minutes to crisp up the top.

I was pleasantly surprised by the sauce in this dish - I'll be making this one again :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lan Sheng - Yum Yum Yum

Rick called me today and suggested we go out to lunch. He figured he was going to be toast by the end of the day, so why not share a little time while we were both more awake ;) I remembered an entry on Mid Town Lunch that intrigued me enough to email it Rick, thinking to myself, hmmm it's in my email so I'll be able to find it when we do go to lunch. That was January 6th, so I'm pretty impressed I was able to find it!

Lan Sheng is at 60 W 39th Street - the rough area fades away when you step inside and are pleasantly surprised by pretty banquettes and tables, snuggled together as they are everywhere in the city. We were quickly seated, and took Zack's recommendations. Rick had the Lan Sheng Special Chicken, boneless chicken with crispy skin, served on a bed of shredded lettuce, with a nice flavor that I only got a glimpse dish, the Double Sauteed Pork was spicy warm, with a delicious sauce and sauteed spicy warm peppers and scallions, and it was much stronger than Rick's. So after a couple of  bites of mine, his didn't really tast like much. He liked it though :) Rick also liked the positive vibe of the joint :) Lunch dishes here are served with a soup or spring roll to start, and are only $6.95 each.

There are table tents describing specials on every table using only asian symbols and the amount of the dish. As we were finishing up our meal, exclaiming at how much we liked it, a group sat at the banquette near us. They must have been regulars, because the guy immediately exclaims with a chuckle in his voice "Hey, I can't read this - what are the specials??" The waiter laughed and said "I will order for you." Another of the group started looking at the lunch special menus from which Rick and I had ordered. The waiter laughed more and said, "That is no good. I will order for you." I'm dying to know what the waiter brought them! After that I decided I may as well take a photo of our empty plates! I know, silly, but it was too good to take a photo after only one bite!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Recipes - Chocolate Cream Pie

Last night we had a great Valentine's dinner. I spread out cooking during the day, so I wasn't tired for the main event. That worked out well - I hate being so tired you can't enjoy or be enjoyed.

I made the chocolate cream pie in the morning. I baked a pillsbury crust in a pyrex pie dish according to the package directions and set it to cool.
The key to this amazing pie is the dark chocolate filling. Here are the ingredients:
3C Whole Milk
1C Granulated Sugar
2T Flour
2T Corn Starch
3 egg yolks
3T butter
2t vanilla
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped

First scald the milk - let it sit over medium low heat until small bubbles appear at the edge of the milk's surface (see above).
Next, in a separate heavy pan, stir together the sugar, flour and cornstarch. While you whisk constantly, add the milk to the sugar mixture in a steady stream. Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until very thick (see above - the legs on the mixture). Bring to a boil.

Remove from the heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together the 3 yolks. Temper the yolks by gradually whisking in 2 cups of the hot mixture. Next, add the egg mixture back to the pan, and stirring constantly, simmer for 2 - 3 minutes until slightly thicker.

Remove from the heat, and stir in the butter, chocolate and vanilla, continuing to stir until it's all melted.

Pour the pudding into a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap directly on the pudding to prevent a skin from forming (the skin is yucky!). Cool for 30 minutes in the fridge. Once cooled, pour the pudding into the prepared pie crust, and again carefully place the plastic wrap directly on the pudding. Cool for at least 2 hours.
Once the pudding is cooled, whip some heavy cream to top the pie. Don't do this too far ahead as the cream is best fresh. I think I did it about 5 or 6 hours ahead because I had to whip the cream by hand (I will get a small hand mixer soon!). Normally I would do it just before serving. Sweeten the cream with sugar - use more than you usually would - it should be very sweet to contrast with the rich chocolate filling. Add a dash of vanilla to the cream as well.
Top the pie with the cream and store in the fridge until serving time :) This is one pie where the synergy of the ingredient flavors all together means that 1 + 1 + 1 = 10! Enjoy!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Suzee's Oatmeal Spice Cookies

My Valentine, Rick, was happy that I made his favorite cookies - these oatmeal spice cookies are his absolute favorite, and his eyes sparkle when he realizes there is a batch on the way :) I tell myself they are better for him than other cookies because of the oatmeal and the almonds. Shhhh - don't ruin my fantasy!
Here's how to make them:

2 sticks butter, room temperature
1C packed brown sugar
1C granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg, fresh ground preferred
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cumin
pinch of ground cloves
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp baking soda
1.5 C flour
3C Quaker old fashioned oats
1C roughly chopped almonds

Preheat the oven to 375. Cream the butter and sugars until the mixture is light. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir in spices and baking soda. Stir in flour, then oats, then almonds. Drop dough by teaspoonful on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes for each batch. Let cool 1 minute, and transfer to a cooling rack. Watch them disappear! You can try to hide some cooled cookies in the freezer, but my cookie monster still finds them there!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Smuttynose Star Island Single

During my last visit home, Ann and I found the Star Island Single at Market Basket, and although it didn't really say on the bottle what style of beer it was, it does indicated a "spiced" flavor, and we figured, OK, what the heck. We'll give it a try.

Boy, I'm glad I did :) I wish I'd found this one earlier :) It's tasty!

If you find a Star Island Single in your local convenience store, don't pass it up - it's a tasty find!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Asia de Cuba - an NYC delight!

Last night Rick and I made our way over to Madison between 37th and 38th, and found the secret entrance to Asia de Cuba. OK, it's not really a secret, but you could easily walk by if you didn't know it was there. When you walk in the door, floor to ceiling sheer curtains blow around you as you approach the maitre 'd. It's very dramatic! We checked our coats and headed to the bar for a pre-dinner cocktail. We sat on these high bar chairs which allow you to look down over the whole dining room. Last night the sheers were back lit with red lights rather than the white in these photos I snagged from their web site. We ordered a couple of red sangrias ($8) which were delicious!
Next we moved to the dining room, and we sat at a table from the perspective of this photo, where we could see the light box mural of the waterfall. We came for restaurant week, and the waiter explained that for 2 people, the restaurant week menu includes 2 appetizers and 1 entree. There was some kind of climbing scale as you add people to your table. You can find this on the web site I'm sure - do take a look if you are planning to go. Our first appetizer was a dish of beautifully seared sea scallops. Rick even ate one :) The were fresh and light, and very very large, with 4 on a plate. The next appetizer was an order of beef dumplings. We love steamed pork dumplings and always order them for take out. This order had 3 fried and 3 steamed - I liked the fried ones. The were crisp all over and filled with a beefy mixture that still had tiny chunks of beef in it. There was a nice sweet sauce, and it was a nice combination. The steamed dumplings I didn't care for - the filling was mushy, without a nice flavor and they fell apart. The presentation was beautiful - I wish I'd remembered my camera.
For the entree, we ordered the bbq chicken. It. Was. Amazing. This was a true fusion dish - the sauce was just great - spicy, sweet, salty, sour - all that ying/yang stuff. I wish there had been enough to take home, because I would love some for lunch today! (sniff...)
After the entree, the waiter said that a dessert was included with our restaurant week meal. He suggested the coconut cake, and it was good. The cake layers were essentially macaroons, and it was served with a delicious ice cream. The serving was very large - there must have been 3000 calories in that cake alone. Thankfully we were able to exercise some restraint and only ate a small part. The remaining hunk of cake was whisked away - I'm kind of surprised they didn't ask us if we wanted to take it home, but we dodged the rest of that calorie bullet!
When the bill came, we had a bit of a surprise. I knew there was a $10 surcharge on the scallops as it was noted on the menu. What it didn't say was it per person. So the scallop appetizer costed us $20 more. If I had known, I wouldn't have ordered it. The other thing was we asked the waiter about the pitcher of sangria, and whether it was a better deal than the glasses. He indicated it was, but infact, sangria is actually cheaper by the glass.
Even though the charges were a sour end to the meal, I would go back (and not order the scallops or a pitcher of sangria). The drama of the atmosphere and quality of food was good. Plus it's a quick walk from the apartment :)

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Most Used Pan in My Closet Kitchen

After reading Cooking For One (previous review) I thought alot about the decisions I had to make moving to my minute space here in the city. I found Judith Jones' comments about cookware interesting. Despite her love of the 8" sautee, I LOVE my All Clad 12" pan. I use this to sear beef, and to roast chickens in the oven. It's really my favorite, and I can't imagine being with out it. I also roast pork tenderloins after searing, and veggies rolled in olive oil too. Since this pan easily goes from stove top to oven, it is the most versatile hundred dollars you will spend. Also, it will last a lifetime. How can you beat that??

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A joyful read - Judith Jones Cooking for One

I have wanted to read this book since it's launch not long ago, thinking that if I cooked less, we'd eat less. And it's easier to double a recipe for 1 than to quarter a recipe for 8. On my recent trip to NH I figured I'd thumb through it on the bus trip. I brought a few books with me, but actually I read this one from cover to cover. I genuinely enjoyed Judith's voice, her approach, and her ideas for leftovers redux. If you are cooking for 1 or for 2, I highly recommend this book for ideas of how to use those larger cuts of meat, and just taking time to prepare something nice just for you.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Fast Pass In NH

Jilly took a while to warm up, but once Papa ordered a fisherman's platter at Petey's Summertime Seafood, she was back to Jilly funness. She was tired today - she fell asleep on the way home, and was asleep when we went to Papa's house with toys. She woke up in a good mood, but I think she would have slept a long time if we hadn't bee there....

Club 21 Offers a Valentine Menu!

I tweeted about our anticipation of the date night at the 21 Club. As a result, I got an email sending us good wishes for a fabulous dinner, and a request that I post a rather delicious sounding recipe from Executive Chef John Greeley at 21. It does sound romantic and delicious - light enough to ensure the night will not end after dinner

These are Valentine's Day Spicy Grilled Shrimp for Two, with shaved asparagus, and pea tendril salad with satsuma tangerine vinaigrette.
Ingredients for Two

8 fresh jumbo gulf shrimp, peeled and de-veined

1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil

Salt to taste

1 tsp. bay seasonings (make your own or use a popular brand)

1 pinch cayenne pepper

8 pc. fresh jumbo green asparagus

2 cups pea greens, torn into salad-like pieces (if you can’t find pea greens, use pea shoots or Tatsoi)

2 Satsuma tangerine, peel and segment

1 oz. Satsuma Tangerine Vinaigrette* (See Recipe)


1.Moisten shrimp with grapeseed oil, season with salt, bay seasoning and cayenne pepper.
2.Pre-heat grill on high.
3.Wash asparagus and pat dry, then peel.
4.With the same peeler, shave asparagus in long strips, almost paper-thin.
5.Grill shrimp until done, turning occasionally for about 5-8 minutes.
6.In a non-reactive bowl, mix pea greens, tangerine segments and shaved asparagus with vinaigrette.
7.Season with salt and place on plate gently, so you do not break the greens.
8.Interlock shrimp together (it’s Valentine’s Day!) and drizzle with more dressing.

Serve immediately.

Ingredients for Satsuma Tangerine Vinaigrette

1 cup Satsuma Tangerine juice (reduced to ¼ cup, chilled, no seeds)

2 Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. ginger (micro-planed)

1 Tbsp. fresh chopped tarragon

1 Tbsp. red onion (micro planed)

⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil

⅓ cup grapeseed oil


1.In non-reactive bowl, mix tangerine reduction with honey, ginger, tarragon and red onion.

2.With a whisk, incorporate oils in a steady even steam to emulsify (or just shake everything together in a container).

3.Keep chilled and serve that day (or herbs will turn brown).

When I mentioned that my husband only hates clams more than shrimp, my contact also sent over this delicious sounding Valentine's Day dessert!

Hazelnut Dacquoise Torte with Velvet Ganache and Caramelized Baby Bananas

Yields One 8” Cake

Ingredients for Hazelnut Dacquoise

2 egg whites

⅓ cup sugar

1 cup hazelnut flour


1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form.

2. Fold in hazelnut flour and pipe in 8” circles onto parchment lined sheet tray.
3. Bake in oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit, until dry and slightly golden (approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour).

Ingredients for Velvet Ganache

1 pound high quality dark chocolate

¼ pound butter

1 Tbsp. sugar

2 cups heavy cream

3 Tbsp. corn syrup

1.Finely chop chocolate and cut butter into small pieces. Place in bowl and set aside.
2.Bring sugar, cream and corn syrup to a boil and pour over chocolate and butter.
3.Whisk together until silken and slightly elastic.
4.Place in refrigerator for one hour to chill.

Ingredients for Caramelized Baby Bananas

8 baby bananas, split lengthwise
½ cup sugar

1.Lay banana halves cut side up on sheet tray.
2.Sprinkle sugar liberally over cut side of bananas.
3.Place under broiler or caramelize using a blow torch until golden brown.

To Asssemble Torte

1.Whip Ganache in bowl of stand mixer until creamy and homogenous.
2.Pipe or spread over Dacquoise layers to form a cake.
3.Decorate top with banana halves or serve on the side with each piece of cake.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

21 Club - Tuesday Night Date Night :)

We had a drink in the bar - I ordered a cosmo and Rick had a gray goose on the rocks. I ended up sending my drink back as it had way too much lime. I ordered a Pinot Grigio instead. Not sure what they brought me since there was no Pinot Grigio on the menu, but it was light and crisp and I enjoyed it.
In the bar there was a cool selection of snacks - mixed salted nuts, wasabi peas and a smoky bbq corn snacks. Nice to have snacks with drinks :) The bar has big easy chairs in front of the fireplace, and cozy banquettes. A nice place to stop if you are out shopping.

After a cocktail, we moved to the dining room. It was more rustic than I imagined, but comfortable. We sat at a table that used to be a cartoonist's favorite spot (I forget his name now...). We talked about how we never had that "one haunt" where we would have a regular table with a brass plate declaring it so. Well, except the bar at the 99 in Portsmouth.

We ordered from the Restaurant Week menu, and noted that at Club 21 Restaurant Week lasts until July 31st. Good to know! For appetizers, I had the Mahi Mahi citrus ceviche with a neat fennel salad - together they tasted quite fabulous - Rick had a green salad.
For dinner, Rick had the chicken pot pie. He wasn't pleased. It tasted like old people food to me. I would have loved to have had more chickeny flavor, and I love tarragon - that would have been nice. I suppose, though there are lots of people who appreciate simply flavored fare. Rick really missed the traditional pastry pie crust.

I had the mushroom and butternut squash risotto - it was creamy and delish with lots of mushroom flavor. The butternut squash was in a small dice, and added color to the dish. It was just what I was looking for - some warm carb-y and cheesey goodness on a cold evening.

For dessert, I had the pear tart - the crust was very firm, but tasty, and the pears were delicate and delicious. There was just the right amount of cherry sauce on the side - any more would have over whelmed the pears, and it was just enought to add some dimention to the dish.

Rick had the creme brulee - and yes, creme brulee is not a difficult dish, but this was perfectly executed. The crisp sugar coating was light and sweet, and the custard was just cooked enough to be silky and sensuous. I almost wished I had ordered this instead. Almost.