Friday, May 22, 2015

Salmon Mousse!



Behold the mold! I don't know what exactly possessed me to wish to possess a copper mold fashioned into the shape of a salmon. Nevertheless, I found an antique copper, tin-lined mold for a reasonable price on e-bay and set to work. The Silver Palate Cookbook, the classic kitchen necessity crafted by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, provided the recipe for a fairly simply prepared salmon mousse. The link may be found here. Otherwise, I plated my magnificent mousse with gentle, slightly salty orbs of salmon rousse roe, mache rosettes for the greenery, and half-moons of Kirby cucumber slices around the periphery of the mold. A slice of a hearty olive stuffed with pimiento served as the onlooking eye!

As the recipe suggests, refrigerate the mousse for at least four hours. If you use a "decorative" mold, as I did, invert it afterward onto your serving plate and let it rest at room temperature, about 15 minutes. When you see it start to ease out of the mold all by itself, carefully lift the mold off and adorn as you will. Do enjoy with toasty bagels as Baby and I did for a late breakfast or perhaps as a starter course for dinner. When serving at a cocktail party, suggest your guests dip in with some kettle crisps!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Derby 2015




Behold the lovely, fragrant lilacs! I do hope your Derby was fun (and profitable!) this year. I bet, as is my foolish wont, and once again, I didn't win a dime. At my party, I put out the usual spread of Martha Stewart's shrimp and grits, Benedictine sandwiches with cream cheese and cucumbers as well as sliced tomatoes sprinkled with freshly ground pepper and salt that filled flaky Pillsbury Grands biscuits. Cornbread was another addition this year and chocolate chip and sugary gingerbread cookies provided a fine finish to the race. And of course, there were mint juleps!

Here's this year's steaming stew of shrimp and grits, laced with thyme and parsley and topped with crisp bacon!


Lazy afternoon views of the table just before the guests arrived...





and more of the room, flooded with flowers!



Giddyap, everybody--and do enjoy!



Sunday, May 3, 2015

Tonight's Menu - Quenelles!



I'd wanted to make quenelles for years, after having once had them at an intimate summer dinner party in the back garden of a friend's apartment in Greenwich Village. Finally, having found the occasion, my own particular pale, fragrant, light fish dumplings were absolutely delicious and were served as our main course, preceded by a green salad, hosted with roasted potatoes, and followed by chocolate mousse cake. Quenelles were once served as a side dish, next to such things as seared scallops perhaps or even a steak but I think they very much stand on their own. The spongy little fellows in question here were made with pate de choux (paht ah shoe--sounds like you're sneezing, anyway it's a French thick sauce base) for substance from a Julia Child recipe. There are so many versions of this delish fish so search quenelles online for your favorite but to see the great lady at work, go here for the video or purchase a copy of The French Chef Cookbook as I did. I draped my quenelles with an impossibly easy, ingenious, really quick hollandaise sauce made in a blender, courtesy of Ina Garten. I shaped the quenelles into balls with two spoons before dropping them into barely simmering water to poach--however next time I would form them by hand, in more sturdy, cylindrical shapes. Whatever your preparation, this is an elegantly arranged, readily prepared dinner for any evening!

Tonight's Menu
Delightfully Served Two
Green Salad of Baby Lettuces (prepared a la minute, table side, with a few good sprays of squeezed lemon juice, a dose of balsamic vinegar, and freshly ground pepper and salt all tossed together)
Monkfish Quenelles (any lean fish fillets may be used) with hollandaise sauce (don't be shy on the cayenne pepper)
Roasted Potatoes (in olive oil, with salt and pepper, and topped with shredded flat leaf parsley--I used perfectly suitable canned potatoes, don't tell anybody!)
Individual Chocolate Mousse Cakes (I bought them at a local patisserie--don't tell anybody!)

Do enjoy!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Food Bar - NYC



Food Bar by Otarian (947 Eighth Ave @ 56th St, NYC, 212-489-3270, foodbar.nyc) is a new, one stop, one of a kind sit-down shop, offering carefully sourced goods through three “food bars” within the store—the good stuff (a host of groceries and frozen foods too) may also be taken home for more familial festivities. The suitably dubbed “micro-mall” features a variety of made-to-order foods and exclusive products that are made with ingredients to cover a range of diets, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free.



Bespoke Burgers’ kitchen is all fired up with fare such as quinoa-mushroom, potato-spinach and lentil veggie burgers as well as grilled tofu, sweet potato falafel and Mexican chili wraps. Wraps and burgers may also be tailored to your taste and loaded with a plentitude of sauces, condiments, and vegetarian and vegan cheese considerations. There are a host of kitchen prepared meals too that include lasagna with roasted vegetables, pot pie stuffed with butternut squash, potatoes and fennel in an herbed cream sauce.



Moving toward dessert, Pip’s Cakery (pipsplacenyc.com) serves up signature gluten-free cakes, muffins, cookies and other sweet delights—the non-guilt is gleefully free of charge.

Wash it all down with another healthy fix from TBaar (tbaar.com). Freshly made juices, blended smoothies and brewed bubble teas are at the ready for some good sipping. Now get shopping!





Saturday, April 18, 2015

DriveThru - Upland



A quick stop into where to eat with Pete!

Baby and I went across town to Upland in Manhattan's Flatiron District for a Saturday brunch around the lazing time of afternoon, otherwise known as 2-ish. Once again, restaurateur extraordinaire, Philadelphia-based Stephen Starr (Buddakan, Morimoto, El Vez, to name a very few) has conjured up his particular, practical brand of magic, this time in a partnership with chef Justin Smillie (Il Buco, Barbuto, the Standard). Hailing from Upland, California, Smillie is now helming the cheering, Italian-laced Upland kitchen. Word of mouth indeed speaks with a gregarious tongue: I learned of Upland through a friend and by the time I raved about it separately to two others, they told me they'd already paid a great visit! My perfect trifecta was reached as I loved the atmosphere, the kind service and hardly least, the quite fetching fare. The only way is Upland!

The Quick Bites:
Pastry basket; we slathered treats such as scrumptious grapefruit pound cake and bomboloni (Italian doughnuts) with butter and jam. My favorite recipe for lemon poppy seed cake may be found here, just try subbing pink grapefruit for the juice and zest
Burrata; the creamy orb of mozzarella filled with cream was speckled here with delicate trout caviar, frizzled leeks and a drizzle of Arbequina olive oil
Hen-of-the-wood mushrooms; these toothsome, adventurous and considerably-sized bushes were lightly tossed with olive oil to create absolute delight
Estrella; chicken livers embraced a radiant pasta dish that was gently enveloped in a sauce of rosemary, sage and sherry
Smoked salmon pizza: cleverly composed with cloumage (a cow's milk type of cheese, similar to ricotta) and topped with sunflower sprouts and caper berries
Bacon; what's brunch without it?

Until Next Time: everything else on the brunch menu and return for dinner too!

Upland is located at 345 Park Avenue South, New York, NY, 212-686-1006, uplandnyc.com.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Morels and Asparagus for Pasta and Soup!



This particular platter of spaghetti was too delicious to ignore so I purchased my sumptuous morel mushrooms, steamed the asparagus, sliced the garlic, minced the shallots and further set to work! Now, the dried morels that the recipe suggests are nearly prohibitive in cost, so I bought fresh instead, and they were about a quarter of the price. I substituted some dried Polish mushrooms as well, that we had on hand, to steep into my broth and then tossed the halved morels in toward the end. I love asparagus and the meaty morels all worked together admirably to make such a delicious (and fairly easy) pasta dish with a wonderful zing from lemon juice and lemon zest. As the recipe only requires the asparagus tips, what then to do with the stems? There were also morels remaining so Baby and I devised a velvety soup that I believe ought to be served chilled for an elegant opening lunch course. Save a few snipped asparagus tips to garnish your fragrant, rich, nourishing soup!

Click here for Leah Koenig's Morel and Asparagus Spaghetti recipe, adapted from Food52.com!



Chilled Asparagus and Morel Soup
Serves 4 as an appetizer
Ingredients
8 oz asparagus stalks, steamed
A handful of fresh morels
3/4 cup cream
1 1/2 cups canned vegetable stock
1 medium shallot
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup olive oil
A few shakes of dried thyme, about 1/2 a teaspoon
A dash or two Sriracha, to taste
Grinds of salt and pepper, to taste
1 capful red wine vinegar

Method
Except for the red wine vinegar and olive oil, throw everything into a blender, preferably a Vitamix. It's that easy! Use your intuition for personal taste; perhaps you might like to add more of the gentle shallots, or amp up the Sriracha for heat. Blend for a few minutes until thoroughly combined, and while the motor is still running, drizzle the olive oil into your soup in a slow stream to emulsify. Pause briefly and then add the red wine vinegar. Pulse several times. Chill for at least two hours, beautifully garnish with your asparagus tips and do enjoy!



Sunday, March 29, 2015

Steak (and eggs) Diane!



In a fit of inspiration, perhaps recalling late nights in college when a platter of steak and eggs seemed the only thing to do at 3 o'clock in the morning after a kegger, Baby and I recently made a classic Steak Diane preparation with a more assured sense of maturity--it was at least for lunch, but it was our own invention when we threw a fried egg on top of both steaks. Divine! But do clear your schedule: although this was so delicious, it was heavy and afterwards we slept for the entire day having hungrily consumed both of the steaks! In all fairness to us, we had both experienced a very busy, tiring week.

We sauteed the mushrooms in butter and bas Armagnac and then set it afire! Fantastic. The fairly simple recipe is found here. The Armagnac we used subbed for the suggested brandy, a package of chopped mushrooms resulted in easy work and of course, a few filet mignon steaks are essential. Make this anytime as the spirits move you and do enjoy!