Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Li-Lac Chocolates--The Sweet Spot of Hudson Yards

Li-Lac, "Manhattan's Oldest Chocolate House" recently opened shop in the Shops at Hudson Yards, home to over 100 exclusive luxury and specialty stores and restaurants covering about 720,000 square feet of New York City. It's the sweetest spot in Hudson Yards!

The new Li-Lac location carries on the tradition of handcrafted, small batch chocolate that first began with a quaint little shop founded by French-trained George Demetrious on Christopher Street in 1923. Over the years, the brand has blossomed and is currently tended to by owner Anthony Cirone, Chris Taylor and Master Chocolatier Anwar Khoder, who provide one of the largest gourmet chocolate selections in the country.

The Hudson Yards shop carries their full line of chocolate assortments, NY-themed chocolate gifts and specialty molds--look for the introduction of their 72% extra dark, dairy-free chocolate bar featuring a tribute to the striking Hudson Yards skyline (see above). Chocolate lovers may also delight in the on-site chocolate tempering wheel, but are asked not to tamper with it, however tempting it may be! 

All the fudge is cooked to provide a smooth texture that is less grainy than mixed fudge. Delicious bites of maple walnut, mocha and regular fudge are shown, top tier; chocolate covered pistachio marzipan, middle tier; chocolate covered coconut, bottom tier.

Don't forget about Easter bunnies, specialty chocolate assortments, and colorful jelly beans for all the young ones--including the young at heart! How sweet it is, indeed!

Li-Lac Chocolates locations: Hudson Yards (10th Ave @ 32nd St); West Village (40 8th Ave @Jane St). Greenwich Village (162 Bleecker St, btw Sullivan/Thompson); Grand Central Market (43rd St & Lexington Ave); Chelsea Market (75 9th Ave @ 15th St); Brooklyn Factory/Store (68 35th St, btw 2nd/3rd Aves, Brooklyn. Visit www.li-lacchocolates.com for more information.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Sole a la Grenobloise

I sat before this extraordinary sole, wondering as I chewed each buttery, spright, sumptuous bite of fish, "Why have I never made this dish before...?"

My Sole a la Grenobloise (as prepared in the city of Grenoble, the south-eastern region of France) was pulled from Saveur's 'The Beauty of Butter' special issue, No. 109. The word butter itself was such an obvious, delicious clue to all that might await in the pages, but the pages remained unsmeared by my buttery fingers, until recently. What a simple dish to delight your guests!

Aren't these beautiful sole filets?

Soak your sole in milk, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

The recipe is here, and it's not difficult to make, merely astounding to eat. You can purchase the clarified butter required or take a little time to do it yourself as described here. I would add a final spray of lemon over the sole before serving; the shock of acid truly brings the dish to life. Otherwise, serve it with white rice and a side dish of green beans almondine, the basics from geniuskitchen.com found here. Do enjoy!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Shrimp & White Bean Confit with Polenta

Sometimes recipes stir me to make something else entirely with them. I was intrigued by a recipe for a fava bean stew, but then I thought of the shrimp we had in the freezer, considered cannellini beans, and wondered how it might all go on top of creamy polenta.

I made the Cyprus fava bean stew, known as Koukkia Kounnes, from Saveur magazine, but tinkered with the recipe (see below,) using a 15.5 oz. can of white cannellini beans instead of favas and used about half the amount of suggested chicken broth. I let it simmer for quite a while, along with the garlic, thyme, onion, and bay leaves, until the liquid all but evaporated--now I had a luscious, fragrant confit of beans!

While the stew slowly simmered, I prepared the polenta. When the polenta was nearly done cooking, I sauteed a dozen thawed shrimp in olive oil with zest from a whole lemon, some smashed garlic, salt and pepper. Once the shrimp were cooked, I removed them with a slotted spoon and covered with foil to keep warm. Reduce the zesty sauce to thicken slightly.

The perfect forkful: spoon your polenta on two plates, and add the confit of beans. Top with shrimp and pour the reduced sauce over that. Get a hold of that fork and dig in! Serves two.

I went rogue in the kitchen, but here is complete stew recipe unadorned, with my suggestions only in italics:

Adapted from Saveur
Serves 4-6
1 lb. dried fava beans (I used canned cannellini beans)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more, to taste
6 cloves garlic, quartered
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
5 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth (I used only about 2 cups)
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (I forgot! But lemon zest with the shrimp preparation solved that!)

Place the dried fava beans in a bowl or pot, cover with water by 3″ and let soak for 8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.  Drain the beans and set aside. (Use canned for time-saving tip!)
Heat a dutch oven over medium heat, and add the oil.  Add the onion, garlic, thyme, and bay, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
Add the fava beans (or cannellinis) and broth to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer, partially covered, until beans are tender and broth has thickened, about 2.5 hours. (Canned beans won’t take this long to cook; simmer until liquid is almost evaporated)
Season with salt and pepper and stir in the lemon juice (again, I forgot the lemon juice). Ladle into a bowl and drizzle more olive oil over the top, if desired. (Or serve on top of your polenta with shrimp!)

Thanks to ellysaysopa.com for adapting the recipe online. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Chicken and Brown Rice with Chorizo

I have to admit that peppers and spicy foods in general have turned on me and I have to pause for a Prilosec from time to time. But I did think Saveur's recipe of chicken thighs with peppers, chorizo, and brown rice was worth investigating and adjusted it accordingly. Good news is, our immensely satisfying dinner didn't suffer from the omission of red peppers and chorizo. I used sweet sausage instead of chorizo to delicious results and we didn't miss the peppers at all! Add Stubb's liquid smoke instead of chorizo for smoky flavor, if you'd like. However you choose to make this wonderful one-pot dish, I would definitely use more oregano than the 2 tbsps suggested--and then summon a hungry bunch.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Clarifying Clarified Butter

I'd like to clear up something: There's very little mystery to clarified butter or making it. Clarified butter means that the milk solids (whey) and water have been removed from the butterfat to ensure a high smoking point in cooking, ie., the butter can take higher temperatures without burning.

Anytime you need clarified butter (much cheaper than buying it already made and awfully easy), do this:
1. Bring your butter to a boil (probably at least a stick; if you don't need it all right away, clarified keeps for a long time when covered and refrigerated) and let it foam white and sputter for a while.

2.When the butter stops foaming and the noise settles down, turn off the heat immediately and skim off the solids. You're done. Try it in the microwave if you'd rather.

Thanks to So Delicious Recipes for the image!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

White Gazpacho

While it may be inadvisable to wear white after Labor Day, this pale, creamy gazpacho from foodandwine.com made with cauliflower is highly recommended (at least by me) all through the year. I substituted walnuts that I already had on hand for the suggested pine nuts and almonds to great effect, I thought. I would recommend (here I go again) that after blending all the ingredients together, to push the solids with the back of a wooden spoon through a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and refrigerate the thinned soup then. Try it with toasty bread in the cooler months to take off the chill!

White Gazpacho
 1/2 medium head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets 
 2 slices of crustless white bread 
 1/4 cup pine nuts (1 1/2 ounces) 
 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped 
 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
 1 large shallot, coarsely chopped 
 1 1/4 cups blanched slivered almonds 
 1/2 medium seedless cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped, plus 1/4 cup finely diced cucumber
 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
 Kosher salt

In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the cauliflower until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water until cool and drain well.
In a blender, combine 1 1/2 cups of cold water with the cooked cauliflower, bread, pine nuts, chopped garlic, sherry vinegar, chopped shallot, 1 cup of the slivered almonds and the coarsely chopped cucumber; blend until smooth. Add the olive oil and pulse just until incorporated. If necessary, add more water to thin the gazpacho. Season the soup with salt and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the remaining 1/4 cup of slivered almonds in a pie plate and toast for about 6 minutes, until fragrant and lightly golden. Ladle the gazpacho into bowls. Garnish the soup with the toasted almonds and the finely diced cucumber and serve.

First published in part in Food & Wine. Thanks to contributor Joy Manning and photographer Hallie Burton!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

From Popcorn to Polenta

In need of polenta, but fresh out? Do you perhaps have some popcorn? Throw it in a blender! At a high speed, the blender (a Vitamix fitted with a dry-grain container is ideal) will grind the popcorn to a coarse cornmeal powder--exactly what you need to make your polenta dish. A cup of ground polenta will serve at least four people once prepared. Follow this link for 'perfect polenta' of your own, courtesy of allrecipes.com. A little salt, butter, cheese and several cups of water on the boil are the basic ingredients for a creamy side dish, but certainly tailor your polenta to your taste. If you have never tasted or made polenta before, it's a must try!

A note: The polenta may take longer to cook than the suggested time and may need more water to acheive the perfect consistency, so plan accordingly.

Thanks to Karen Haggenmaker at allrecipes.com for the silky, satisfying polenta photo!