Thursday, May 27, 2010

Alan and Matt and I had FUN!

Alan and Mathew came to NYC to celebrate their anniversary, and I was lucky enough to hook up with them when they arrived!

It was beastly hot (over 90 and 99.999% humidity on the swamp) and we bumped into Elmo! Oh man he musta been so hot!

Next we made our way to Posh, on 51st and 9th for happy hour. The bartender had to look up the recipe for Blue Hawaiians, but they came out good! I was dehydrated from the day (walking home, walking to their hotel, walking to Posh) so I stuck with Blue Moon. Good thing - when I saw how much booze was in one of those bad dogs, they would have had to roll me to dinner!
For dinner we went to Puttenesca on 56th and 9th. Open Table notes this place as a neighborhood gem, and I can see why. Mathew and I had chicken dishes - chicken parmesan and chicken franchese - both were excellent. Alan had a tortelini dish that was absolutely esquisite! The tortalinis were home made - almost tortalonis really - with panchetta, cheese and peas and a savory cream sauce. To. Die. For. GO TO PUTTENESCA! Seriously.

After dinner we chit chatted more, and I was sorry to announce it was pumpkin time, but I had to work today :( Too bad - Alan and Mathew were heading to the Sex In the City 2 premier. Anyway, I know they are having fun, and that is the most important part.

Thanks for buying me dinner guys! Next time it's on me!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Doctored Up Fresh Direct Macaroni Salad

I bought some macaroni deli salad from Fresh Direct. Normally I don't get deli salads - they are never as good as what you make at home. But, I had bought some Chicken Curry Salad, and it was *really* good. So good I bought it again the next week, and tried this macaroni salad.
Well, it was an experiment. The salad was made with what seemed like mayo, elbow macaroni, and a few carrot shreds. Very bland and very over dressed. I seriously think there was more mayo than macaroni.

So today, after reading a bit of Skinnygirl Dish, I took Bethenny's idea of use what you have. I figured adding chopped cucumber would water down the mayo and loosen it up a bit. And I like many more veggies in my macaroni salad, so I chopped up a carrot, a couple celery stalks, half a cucumber and a 6 oz bag of radishes and added it to the mix. It's still not as good as homemade, but it's a lot better than it was :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Reasonably Priced Hotel in NYC??

I just finished reading this blog post and I had to write something so I remember. She stayed at The Murray Hill Inn. I haven't walked by yet, but this is pretty close to our apartment, so if we have a big party and friends want to come, I'll know where to send them!

Small Appliances

Foodbuzz has asked us to comment on their daily specials, and I'm happy to participate, but I gotta warn you - I'm not a gaget girl. This electric skillet is something like what my mom owns, and my MIL owns one as well.

I remember my mom making delicious pork roasts with potatoes in the skillet on Sundays. When we came back from Mass, the house was gorgeously perfumed with the amazing scent of the meat. She whipped up the rest of the meal and we sat down for Sunday dinner. Those were yummy.

My MIL makes these sausages with onions and peppers - she browns the sausages, and then adds water to just cover them, and simmers them until the water is gone. I'm not sure when she adds the veggies. But she makes this dish for family gatherings - it's really savory - like a bite of a sausage sub from a fair, but better :)

Despite these great eating experiences, I don't own an electric skillet and I never have. I definitely do not have room for one here now. But I've always been a pan and stove kinda girl anyway :) They are easier to clean and you know how I feel about cleaning!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Banana Shpeel

Went out to see Banana Shpeel today - got my tix from my favorite dealer on Friday, and my seat was center orchestra! I'd never been to a Cirque Du Soliel show, so I figured what a great opportunity. There were ALOT of kids at this matinee, and they were vocal. But the show lent itself to that - a mix of an indoor circus, cabaret and human muppet characters.
The show was at the newly refurbished Beacon Theater in the Upper West side, and the seats were very tiny. Nicely recovered, but very small. Theater itself was almost museum-like in the architectural detail - absolutely beautiful. And I thought it was funny that you can buy Frozen Strawberry Daquiris and Margaritas at the theater bars in a souvenir cup.
After a very long cab ride to get to the Theater, I spotted the subway station and figured I'd just take that back. I wasn't sure where it was all oriented as I haven't spent much time in that neighborhood, but now that I know the 3 train is one stop from Times Sq to 72nd street, I can see going back for more exploration. The buildings are absolutely breathtaking.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Today's fun!

Tourists in Madison Sq Park

Lemon Ricotta Blinis from House Party

This is the other recipe that looks intriguing to me from the House Party book. I'm publishing the recipe in 1/4 so it only serves 4. This one is supposed to demonstrate the Calphalon Unison griddle pan with slide nonstick. I'll let you know how this one goes too.

1C ricotta cheese
1C milk
3 eggs, separated
1/4C sugar
zest and juice of a lemon
1.5C cake flour
1T baking powder
pinch of salt

Whisk together ricotta, milk, egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and juice until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Whip the egg whites to soft peak. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter. Then fold the remaining whites into the batter to keep as light as possible.

Preheat the pan, and wipe a bit of oil with a paper towel in the bottom. Use a tablespoon to add the batter to the pan, creating little 3" pancakes. Don't crowd the pan. Cook about 2 minutes per side until golden. Keep warm until serving. Add rasperry sorbet if you like :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

'wichcraft crostini

I got the House party package, and this recipe is one I'm looking forward to trying!

1 baguette sliced in 1/4" thick rounds
1/4 C olive oil
8 oz goat cheese, room temp
1 jar (8.8 oz) 'wichcraft Tomato Relish (get this at Williams Sonoma)
1/4C finely chopped basil

Brush the baguette slices with oil. Preheat your grill pan (perhaps a Calphalon Unison nonstick pan? Note the grill pan has the "sear non-stick" coating. I'll let you know how it goes...). Working in batches grill up your bread. Add about a T of goat cheese to each toast, and top with the tomato relish. Sprinkle the basil over top. Sounds good to me!

Freebies - Love it!

Can you believe it? I got picked as one of the party hosts for a House Party sponsored by Calphalon and Williams Sonoma. Here is my gift pack! Woo! 2 Non stick calphalon pans (a grill pan and a griddle pan), fish spice rub and 'wichcraft relish from Williams Sonoma, dish towels, nylon utensils (flipper, slotted spoon and pasta scoop, an apron that says Williams Sonoma, a cool looking cook book and a $100 American Express gift card! Keep your eyes open for my post with these recipes made with the tools and ingredients from the package!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Chimay Grand Reserve Ale

I made this picture extra large so you could read the label on the bottle.

I found this recommended gem at (get this) Duane Reade (our local drug store). My cousin Judy commented on my post about the Rasberry Lambic earlier, and when I saw the bottle, I figured I had to at least try it ;)

I am not usually a fan of ales - I think they are sometimes bitter and I prefer a sweet lager.

This Grand Reserve, however, was not the least bit bitter. I would even venture to say it has a lightly sweet finish. Even Rick likes it :)

If you are ready for a special new brew for a nice evening, give this one a try!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Suzee's 30 Minute Meals

I love watching Rachel Ray – I think she makes cooking very accessible for many folks who may not try some of the cuisines, spices or combination. Lots of people say that watching Food TV is Food Porn. I disagree. Life is to short to have meatloaf every Monday night of your life, and Spaghetti and Meatballs every Wednesday.

But her meals always take me longer than 30 minutes. Mostly because I count the very important part that she doesn’t. The Clean Up. I hate cleaning, but I hate a dirty kitchen even more. Cooking on a weeknight should be no more than 30 minutes of active time in the kitchen, and that to me includes what happens after you eat.
There are key pieces of equipment required for Suzee’s 30 minute meals.

The first is a heavy professional sheet pan. I almost always use the sheet pan for my 30 minute meals.

And I line my pan with tin foil. (note to self – I have now removed the need to wash my pan – that’s worth 5 minutes right there).

I also judiciously use my dishwasher. I will put everything that I think will possibly come clean in it. The good news is my dishwasher is freaking amazing. When I do the remodel the kitchen, I sure hope I’m able to afford a dishwasher that actually heats the water and steams the dishes prior to washing them. I hope they still make such a luxury.

I have kitchen shears which come apart and go in the dishwasher. I use these to cut open the vacuum locked meats I usually get from Fresh Direct, and to open veggie packages. I wash them after every use. I got them from my Cutco Sales Kit I bought at least 25 years ago when I was a kid trying to make a buck. Really good shears if you have a kid in your neighborhood trying to make a buck.

I have a pair of OXO tongs and an OXO spatula– both get tossed in the dishwasher and come out gorgeous after I’ve used them to remove roasted meats and veggies from the pan.

I have a porcelain oven to table dish – simple white, and whether I serve in it or bake/broil in it, the dishwasher always makes it clean. It may not be shatterproof like corning wear, but I’d rather have the easy clean anyday.

So those are my tools.

My 30 minute meals are simple, generally involving a 350 degree oven, some protein and some fresh vegetable.

Proteins include boneless, skinless chicken breast (25 min), pork tenderloin (20 min at 400) or white fish (10 min at 400). The point here is simple protein, off the bone for quick cooking. I add one of the myriad of spices out there to make it taste a little different from the last time. McCormick’s Montreal Roasted Garlic Chicken Spice is a favorite on Pork, Tarragon and garlic powder is tasty on chicken, and to fish I’ll add a bit of Jamaican Jerk seasoning. Or I’ll add a relish or sauce, such as salsa, cilantro cream sauce or jarred marinara sauce (heated gently in an easily rinsed out and dishwashed pan) at the end just before serving.

On my tinfoil lined sheet pan, I’ll add a veggie – lately it’s be asparagus, or brussel sprouts, or broccoli, or cabbage ribbons, or onion, or fennel, or zucchini – or some combination there of. Sprinkle a bit of olive oil on and roll it about a bit, and add either a dusting of parmesan cheese or sea salt. The veggies are done in 20 min in 400 degree oven or 30 in a 350 oven. Notice all these choices stay pretty well in the fridge for a few days. If I add a sweet potato or butternut squash, I pre-bake in the microwave so it’s at least ½ - ¾ of the way done (5 min on high or so), and bake them with the other parts of the dinner on the sheet pan.

So – most times I’m able to plop it all on the pan, and go enjoy a cocktail with my feet up for the next 30 minutes or so. Prep is less than 10 minutes. When it comes out, I let the meat rest while I set the table ( 5 min), and then I slice and serve on the individual plates for the meat, and add a home style bowl if there are more veggies than our luncheon plates can really hold.

After we eat, it’s maybe 5 minutes to rinse plates and fill the dishwasher, and put away anything ( like that sheet pan) that needs put away. This includes prepping the coffeemaker for tomorrow.

Should I rename this entry to Suzee’s 20 minute meals? Nah – I like it when you think you got a time bargain :)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

El Rio Grande

Rick and I went out for a late brunch today - around 4:00 we made our way over El Rio Grande which is on the second floor over Duke's on 38th and 3rd. You access the restaurant and spacious outdoor patio from 38th Street. You will pay a premium for eating on this spacious deck, but it's all good when the weather is amazing like it was today.

We sat and ordered a pitcher of red sangria after the waitress raved about it. It was rather kool-aid like - I'm not sure we would order it again, but it was a nice drink in the sun, so maybe we would... Just don't expect a complex rich sangria that you might get at a good cuban place or better yet, Dos Caminos.

We got a basket of crunchy corn tortilla chips - the thick and heavy ones, and a few bowls of delicious salsa - the salsa is smoky and spicy but not overly so...

Rick was so good - he ordered the Fajita Salad with steak - they cooked it to order - medium rare - but it arrived cold unfortunately. I ordered the chicken enchiladas with refried beans, and it also came with rice. There was just enough cheese so there was some, but my 2 enchiladas were filled only with chicken, nicely cooked, so I didn't feel too badly about the calories which must have been fewer than ususal for chicken enchiladas which are swimming in cheese.

El Rio Grande is close enough to the apartment that it will probably be a summer staple. I won't forget about my beloved Baby Bo's though :)

With Some Clothes On

I think he looks a little less creepy with some clothes on. I may have to try other outfits, since pink really doesn't seem to be his color. The cast bronze is starting to really rust now.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

DBDG and The Lower East Side

We spent some time today walking around the lower east side before our reservations for DBDG. This is the New Museum which opened not too long ago - one of the first museums to open in years. Maybe next time we'll take a stroll through.

We took the 6 train to Bleeker street and it was within a couple blocks of the restaurant. We'd left a little early to walk around and to be able to make our reservation in the even there was a train issue.

We stopped at the Bowery Wine Company around the corner from DBDG, and had a glass of pinot grigio. The wind outside was stirring up lots of winter dirt sand, so it was good to step inside rather than walk around on this particular day :)
When we got to DBDG we were sat immediately in the back dining room - it was a nice room with some alcoved banquettes for larger parties. What was nice was that all the families with gobs of rugrats were in those alcoves, so the dining room was still like a dining room and not like Chucky Cheese. Bonus!

The cocktail menu includes 6 (that is S-I-X) pages of beer alone. I hadn't heard of a single solidary one, and all were over 5% alcohol. I decided I may as well have the White Cosmo from the Daniel Baloud empire :) FYI - they are quite nicer at Daniel, but ok here.

We started with the asparagus and fried egg appetizer - the egg was wrapped in a crispy coating and the liquid yolk was so delicious with the asparagus and bits of ham on the plate. I would go back for this dish alone.

Rick had the steak frites - a rib eye with wonderfully crisp french fries - and lots of 'em!

I ordered the house made cavatappi with (get this) bird song shrimps, sauteed spinach and sauce americaine (which is an alfredo with lobster essence and REALLY delicious). You can see the little rolls of pasta have these edges for capturing the lovely sauce, but as Rick pointed out, they kinda look like a bowl of Gagh. For you non Trekkies, that is the squiggly wormy things that the Klingons enjoy eating so much. I said no way - these don't move. Anyway, don't let that visual stop you from trying this dish - it really was lovely.

After we decided to stop at Slainte after for a lite beer as there were none at DBDG. It was a nice light bubble water for the ride home :) But you can see here the offer lots of full flavored options :)

Suzee's Asparagus, Zucchini, Onion and Feta Omelet

This morning I was really in the mood to cook. After work, cooking is not what I want to do. My feet hurt from the walk up hill home, and it's too warm to cook. (What a whiner I am! Ha!)

So today I made brunch - omelets which are one of Rick's fave's. I made him one with ham, american cheese and sauteed onions. I don't care for the deli ham in omelets - too salty I think. Usually I like sausage cut in small pieces - the flavor is good, but it's just so heavy - too heavy now that it's warm. I'd gotten our Fresh Direct order this morning, so I had some fresh veggies for dinner tomorrow. I took a couple of asparagus stalks and chopped them up, and a few coins of zucchini and made match sticks. I sauteed them all together with the remaining onions from Rick's omelet. I got it all omelet-y and crumbled feta cheese over it all over. Hhhhmmmmm :) Yum yum yum!

Pershing Square Outdoor Cafe

 Rick called me Thusday after work to see if I was interested in an apres work cocktail alfresco. He saw that there were tables open at Pershing Square where the street is blocked on the southbound side of Park between 42nd and 41st. It's right across from Grand Central Terminal, with lots of space.

I put my clothes back on since I had already changed in to my cozies, and took a stroll over to find Rick and the table he was saving for us. When I arrived the waiter quickly brought drinks and let us peruse the menus. They have a bar menu and a dinner menu. Lots of great snacks to choose from, Rick decided on the chicken tenders, and I was going to have the shrimpcargo (essentially a scampi minus the pasta I believe), but the waiter sold me on trying the soft-shelled crabs. Now, despite spending many summers on a lobster boat where we caught many blue crabs as well, I'd never had this delicacy. So I figured as a seafood goddess, I should at LEAST try them.

Now, soft shell crabs are crabs which have recently molted. I remember seeing lobsters with paper thin shells, but not any crabs. That doesn't mean there weren't any, just that I didn't see them from my perch in front of the windshield where my parents could be sure that little feet didn't get caught in the ropes and pulled overboard.

My crabs came looking something like this photo. I pulled them apart a bit - the legs stay attached to the body sections that are filled with crab meat, and you just pop the whole thing in your mouth. It was nice - essentially I think the draw to these little buggers is that you can deep fry them. Crab meat is too delicate to fry normally - it would just fall apart. So the papery skin that would eventually be a shell contains the sweet meat so it can be rolled around in egg, flour and/or bread crumbs. People do eat the crabs whole in sandwiches, but frankly I didn't really see the purpose of eating the top shell as mine were sitting on my plate with a small hearts of palm salad next to it (I don't care for hearts of palm). I would have these again sometime, perhaps at a chinese food place as they can have some interesting preparations.

I imagine we will definitely hit the outdoor seating at Pershing Square again too.