Friday, April 30, 2010

La Cage Aux Folles with Kelsey Grammer

On Thursday night I had a ticket to see La Cage Aux Folles, looking forward to a comedy with Kelsey Grammer (aka Frasier) playing Georges. Kelsey did a fine job, but his co-star, Douglas Hodge stole the show as Albin. Robin de Jesus as Jacob (Albin's Housekeeper) was pretty freaking hillarious too!
La Cage is the same story as the movie Birdcage released in 1996 with Robin Williams as Georges and Nathan Lane as Albin.
The stage production is interestingly produced, well contrived sets and super dance numbers. But the truth is, I continually thought of the movie. I guess I am too old to watch a show like this ;) Either that or Robin Williams has big shoes to fill :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Barbounia, a Mediterranian delight!

Tuesday nights are the preferred Date Night at the LaFleur house. Head out after work, have a cocktail and then dinner. It gives us a chance to try out new restaurants while it's not so busy. We get great service, and aren't overburdened by a full dining room.

This time we came to Barbounia - a mediteranian restaurant that turns out to have delicious food and a gorgeous dining room!

To start we ordered a tray of tastes including tatziki, hummus and babaganoush. It came with a freshly baked flat bread . I asked for some veggie dippers for Rick who is low carbing it, and they were happy to add cucumber slices. They also offer olives, but damn - I just can not seem to like those salty yucky little bits. I like olive oil, and the flavor olives add to a dish, but I just don't like olives to eat. Anyway - nobody forces you to eat olives, and that is a good thing. The tatziki was wonderfully fresh and garlicy, the hummus was fresh and rich, and the babaganoush was light and garlicy. All were very yummy!
For dinner I ordered the Branzino - it was very fresh and well seasoned. I orderd it to be fileted in the kitchen, but I think next time I would have it served whole - the edges were a little over cooked, so I don't think it was fileted after cooking. Rick ordered the steak - he asked for spinach rather than the potatoes. Initially the server said we were unable to make substitutions, however she managed to get the extra side taken off the bill before providing the bill. We were thankful.
Barbounia has a lively bar scene - happy hour specials are only allowed at the bar, but the dining room allows a little more space early in the evening, and we genuinely enjoyed it. Come to Barbounia and listen to your server's suggestions - she knows what she is talking about!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Suzee's Tuna Tartine

Tonight was a laid back supper night. Rick's been low-carbing it, so on Sunday I prepped some go-to snacks for us. And, believe it or not, he asked me to make some tuna salad with onion!

Tonight it's cold and wet out, so we probably would have ordered soup or something warm, but we weren't that hungry. I put together these tartines, and Rick decided he wanted some too. He liked the Wasa Crisp Bread cracker base, and the savory flavor of the fresh avacado, and the tomato and cucumber lighted it up.

Here is how I made them
3 Wasa Light Crisp Bread, Multigrain
3 heaping tablespoons of tuna salad
1/2 an avacado sliced
1/2C or so chopped tomato and cucumber

Layer the ingredients as listed, and enjoy.

Blueberry SoyJoy - pretty good snack

My friends at Foodbuzz sent over 2 blueberry SoyJoy bars, and were hoping I'd provide some feedback on this new product. I've never eaten a SoyJoy before, but I have eaten plenty of low carb soy protein bars. Soy is not something I seek out - it is a high protein food source, but tastiness is not an adjective I'd use in describing it. So, if I had not been given a sample, I probably would not have even tried it.

And you know what? I'd be missing out.

I admit, I was disappointed when I read the label - for the 140 calories you only get 4 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fiber. You do also get a pretty good shot of potassium (220 mg), and it's gluten free if you have trouble with gluten. It's also made of ground whole soybeans rather than the usual process (which is what? I don't know, but it's a significant marketing message from SoyJoy).

But really - you'll eat this one for the flavor. Granted, you aren't going to crave them, but if you need something relatively healthy for the stash in your desk, this would fit the bill. Give 'em a try.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Suzee's Steak and Cheese Omelet

This morning Rick and I did laundry and had coffee, but didn't really eat anything. When noon came along, I figured it was time to do something about that! We had some left over steak from a previous dinner, and I always try to keep eggs and american cheese in the house. Rick's doing the atkins again and you can always make something low carb with eggs and cheese.

I used my new circulon fry pan that replaced my last teflon pan. I really try to replace non-stick pans annually - having bits of teflon in your food is probably not too good for your health. Perhaps this one will last longer. So, this 10" circulon pan really runs hot, so I cook my omelets on the lowest flame I can fathom on my gas stove.

2 jumbo eggs
2 oz cooked steak, warmed in a skillet and cut into a pretty small dice
1 slice of american cheese
1t butter
1T sugar free ketchup

Whisk the eggs in a bowl until the whites are yellows are all the same. Melt the butter in the pan, and add the eggs. When the eggs are setting a bit on the bottom, but the top is still liquid, use your fork to scootch back the edge of the eggs, and tip the pan to allow the raw egg contact with the pan (please note - scootch is a very technical term!). Do this all the way around the pan until the egg is mostly set. Add your steak pieces and scatter them fairly evenly. Break the cheese slice in half and place it over the steak. By the time your egg is cooked, the cheese should be starting to melt. Fold the omelet, and serve on a dinner plate with ketchup.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Today's Shopping Steal!

Today I went shopping for shoes. It's hard to buy shoes in NYC because you have to walk in them. No, really - how often in the 'burbs do you walk a mile in your heels on concrete? Heck - even sneakers are awful on concrete. I've been wearing Danskos to walk in - they have good arch support and compared to other supportive shoes, they are a bargain. Today I was looking for brown shoes for work, and I came upon these babies on sale at Shoe Mania in Union Square. They fit like a glove, or like a hand caressing your foot in a pleasing way. They are hand made in Italy. It didn't say what the original price was on the shoe, but the floor manager let me know that originally these were $400, and this was the last pair. And I was getting them for the price of a pair of Danskos (less than 1/2 price). Damn I'm psyched - this is my first NYC deal!!

Aren't they beautiful???

Suzee's NYC Style Steak

Rick and I love a good steak with some veggies and a nice California Cabernet, preferably one aged in our wine cellar so it's at least 6 years old, but not more than 8.

Moving to Manhattan, we gave up the grill (I miss you my lovely Webber!) and we gave up the wine cellar. So it took me a while to find a way to cook beef that would satisfy us in a similar way, since nothing is like grilling, but grilling.

First, I like to buy thick cuts of meat. The thicker, the better in my book, because in order to get a nice caramelization on the outside, and still have your meat medium rare, you need that thickness. If your steak has a bit of bone still in it (like this bone in shell steak pictured here), all the better. The bone adds flavor, and you can pop the bone in the freezer for stock later.

Second, I gave up liquid marinades. I pull the meat from the fridge around 2 hours prior to cooking to allow it to come to room temperature. When I take it from the fridge, I dry it with paper towels, and season it liberally with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Then I let it sit until it is time to cook.

Third, I always use my magic All Clad 12" pan. I set it on the stove, with nothing in it. Then I turn the burner to high to heat the pan, and using a timer, I leave it there for 15 minutes.

Yes. 15 minutes. Very important!

I also turn on the oven to 350.

Next I place the beef in the pan, and do not touch it again for 5 minutes (timer again). Yes, keep that heat as high as it will go. Then I turn it, and leave it there for another 4 or 5 minutes. Once the second side is caramelized, I pop the magic pan into the heated oven for 10 minutes or so. When the beef comes out, I allow it to stand for 5 or 10 minutes, and then slice it to serve. If we are cooking smaller sized steaks, like a filet mignon, I just serve as is.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Event Horizon NYC 2010

The art installation for NYC this summer are these naked guys.

Now, I really liked the waterfalls last summer, but this, not so much.

I actually watched tourists talking about how they believed one of these guys was going to jump off the Empire State Building.

Anyway - this is Art 2010 NYC. Enjoy.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

New Job, New Toy

I started my new job this week, and I love it! I hope I work here forever! I feel like I'm walking into a palace each day, and the amenities are unbelieveable. There is even a non-denominational prayer room in my building - can you believe it? My new boss is great - he is clear about what he wants, and is hands off, and lets me dazzle him :) I'm looking forward to Monday - what a treat :)

Rick got a great toy as a present from work, too. They love him there :) An iPod Touch which I have stolen! Ha! I'm trying to decide if I should go with an iPhone or a Droid, because I am going to pull the trigger! I'm having fun with the iTouch, and probably will continue to use it until June or July when the new iPhone comes out.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Promises, Promises - Theater fun!

Last night I was treated to a wonderful experience at the Broadway Theater on 53rd and Broadway. Promises, Promises was a comedic delight! Sean Hayes was so hilarious from a physical perspective, and from an acting perspective - he was a delight even without the gorgeous voice and acting of Kristin Chenoweth. I was thoroughly entertained - such a great show!

I had no idea until I went to the web site that there is a student discount - Students can get $30.00 tickets with a valid student I.D. Tickets are available for the day of the performance only at the Broadway Theatre box office. Two tickets per valid student ID. Subject to availability.

I loved this show, and I think you will too - very fun, a little Mad Men like, and great performers!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Suzee's Baked Stuffed Scallops with Fennel

I ordered fresh sea scallops from Fresh Direct because they were on sale, and because Rick once said at a restaurant that he didn't think they were too bad. The arrived today, fresh as a daisy, and I decided to continue my fennel / seafood theme :)

I arranged the scallops so they were touching in the baking dish - I ordered a pound, but Rick wasn't "that hungry" today. I swear I should just order enough for me and just give him a couple :) Actually - he was so cute and proud that he ate 4. They are pretty big, and I don't mind having another 6 for lunch tomorrow :)

I chopped a fennel bulb in a 1/2" dice and sauteed it in a little butter. I crushed about 8 saltines in a bag to make crumbs, and tossed them in the pan with a knob of butter. I mixed it all together and piled it on top of the scallops. I preheated the oven to 400 degrees and baked them for 15 minutes in a hot oven.

They were sweet and delicious - quite nice with the fennel crumb and the Babich Marlborough Savignon Blanc. The wine was a little sweet for me, but I was pleasantly surprised by the fruity nose. And it did marry well with the scallops.

I figure if Rick will eat it, so will your non-seafood eating loved ones :) Enjoy!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Suzee's Tarragon Chicken Tartine

After my trip to Le Pain Quotidien on Friday, I was inspired to make my own tartines for lunch today. I wanted something fresh, light and delicious as we lounged around the apartment.

I pulled a small loaf of par baked Italian demi baguette from the freezer and popped it in my preheated oven as directed. I get these yummy loaves from Fresh Direct - they do a great job on par baked bakery items. I diced up some left over chicken, about 2 cups, and mixed it with a couple  heaping teaspoon scoops of sour cream and a couple heaping teaspoon scoops of olive oil mayo, along with a few healthy shakes of dried tarragon, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and freshly ground black pepper. I mixed up the chicken salad and popped it in the fridge while the baguette baked.

Once the bread was done, I sliced it up on the bias, and spread a generous dollop of chicken salad over each slice. I topped each with a thin slice of tomato, and a little more salt and pepper. I served these tasty little treats with a glass of Montinore Estate Pinot Gris from the Willanette Valley in Oregon, and it was a perfect pairing.

Rick agreed we should have these again soon :) I'll have to figure a way we can bring them on a picnic lunch before it gets too hot to have a picnic :) I think if I bring everything prepped and in separate containers, and assemble on site, it would be very tasty indeed!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Suzee's Almond Banana Bread

I was going to make Banana Bread today - I had some gorgeously ripe bananas and thankfully it was cool today. And I had my brandy new cuisinart hand mixer that I was anxious to try :)

I started and realized that I'd run out of vanilla. Crap.

I had some almond extract, and thought maybe I'd try that instead. To just leave out the vanilla would result in an overly sweet tasteless bread, so almond extract it was. Since I was going to use the extract, I figured I'd use some almonds as well.

1 3/4C Flour
2t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
8T melted butter
3/4C sugar
2 large eggs
3 large bananas, mashed
1 C chopped almonds
1 t almond extract

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a loaf pan. Stir together flour, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
Beat together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in bananas.
Stir in almonds, almond extract.
Stir in flour mixture, a third at a time, mixing after each addition.

Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 1 hour. Check with a toothpick - if it's still doughy, bake a little longer.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Le Pain Quotidien on 53rd Street

Not long ago my friend MJ arranged for me to meet his cousin here in NYC. Mark suggested we have lunch at the 6th Ave location of Le Pain Quotidien. It was a really tasty, and lovely lunch! When I was out shopping today, in need of a foot rest and a yummy treat, I came across the location on 53rd St.

I had the iced green tea and a Ricotta Tartine with mission figs, black pepper & organic acacia honey and oh my goodness - how delicious!!

I sat at the communal table and it was actually cool to see all the other dishes people ordered. This is really good, simple food done in a way I've not seen anywhere else. The people across from me ordered a Tuscan White Bean and Prosciutto Salad with arugula, shaved Parmesan, basil croutons and a Mediterranean Platter Specialty with hummus, babaganoush, & taboulé. These dishes, and mine, were beautifully presented and mine anyway was absolutely divine in flavor.

I had no idea, but in all actualilty, this is an international franchise, and it seems to have started in Belgium. I should have taken a picture of my dish rather than the chalk board, but I didn't think of it until after. And I thought I could pull down some photos from the web :) Ah well.

After my lunch I walked by Rockefeller Center and was surprised to see it still decorated for Easter. I had no idea it was decorated for Easter at all. Nice surprise :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring has Sprung!

I do miss my mix of many colors of tulips back in Portsmouth, but I'm glad I can enjoy these without the work too :) Park Avenue is gorgeous with Magnolias and cherry blossoms!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Jenny's Tomatillo, Orange and Avacado Salsa

I met Jenny not too long ago - maybe 5 or 6 (or 7?) years ago. We both were singing in a gospel chior located in South Berwick ME called Rock My Soul. After a few months of singing, she auditioned to be a soloist, and boy - she really kicked butt! Fabulous! You can hear her jamming on the first CD. I was going to set her up with my cousin Rob, and then I found out she was moving to Alaska for a guy! Considering she grew up in Alabama, I was surprised and pleased for her :)

While we made lots of music, I had the opportunity to taste some of her fabulous cuisine. I will never forget her mini pecan tarts with the the most flakey little crusts, or the time she catered all the food back stage for a concert in Dover (the choir literally snarfed everything down). And I do believe she had this salsa at that concert. It was a-maz-ing!

I invited Jenny to send a recipe as a guest post on this blog, and I'm so glad she did!

As Jenny says -

Here is the salsa recipe, I usually double the recipe. It keeps pretty well in the fridge for a couple of days, but trust me if you make it for a party it'll be gone quick!! You'll need a hearty chip, the thin ones break too easily.

The Herb Dressing makes quite a bit more than you need for the salsa. I've used it on fish also, it's a good all purpose blend.

The recipe is from a magazine I get called "The Herb Companion". It's such a fresh and bright salsa, wonderful for hot summer days! You'll love it, enjoy!

Herb Dressing

1 large poblano chile, roasted, peeled, seeds and stem removed, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 to 4 cloves garlic

1 cup firmly packed parsley leaves and tender stems

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, packed

2 tablespoons rosemary leaves

2 tablespoons oregano leaves (Yucatan or Cuban type if available)

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped orange peel, colored portion only

1 small serrano chile, seeds and stem removed

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all in blender and puree until smooth.


1/2 pound tomatillos, husks and core removed, washed and cut in 1/4-inch dice

1 large ripe avocado, peeled, pit removed and cut in 1/2- inch dice

1large seedless orange, peeled, segments cut into 1/2 -inch pieces

1/2 cup slivered red onion (soak in sugar water if too hot)

1 to 2 teaspoons minced, seeded jalapeño or serrano chiles

Juice of 1 lime

2 tablespoons Fresh Herb Seasoning Blend

Salt to taste

Additional chopped cilantro for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a glass or stainless-steel bowl. Toss lightly and taste for seasoning; adjust to balance salt and acid.