Monday, December 17, 2012

Deviled Egg Snowman


This carelessly constructed suggestion of a deviled egg snowman somehow still managed to sound like fun, so I made a gentle couple for my friend who first showed me the recipe. The author is on thehairpin.com and I'm not. Click away. In the spirit of the season, I'm drunk already on egg nog and it's not even noon.

 

I couldn't figure out how to slice and stack the eggs together, as some things happen from time to time, which I relegate to my left-handedness. Thankfully, Baby was around to work it out with me--and honestly, I just did what he told me to do even though I still didn't understand any of it. I also couldn't tell from the post that the caps were pickle ends, so I used halved black olives with Kosher half-sour brims. Frosty did have a black stovepipe hat after all so that only seemed sensible. Capers were the eyes and uncooperative slices of prosciutto served as the scarf. The snowfall of shredded coconut around the vintage Lenox platter was solely my idea. Nice, don't you think? Observe how the friendly, yet slightly ominous eggy snowmen are creeping up on you!



To boil your eggs, click here. Thanks to RealSimple.com.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Friend Writes...Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!


Allison Morris wrote to me on Evenings With Peter, submitting this piece that extolls the virtues of pizza. You can read about my personal obsession here. Please note her charming graphic below that I've included on the blog layout with the entirely thorough, amazing statistics about our love of pies--and support OnlineCollegeCourses.com.

A TASTY OBSESSION: THE YEAR IN PIZZA

For most of us, from the time we were children, the answer to the question, “what do you want for dinner?” has always been met with a resounding, wholehearted cry of, “PIZZA!” Whether you’re into some of today’s trendiest specialty pies, or your style is more plain cheese, nothing beats the joy of biting into a tasty slice if your personal favorite pizza. The current pizza market has its fair share of both cheap and gourmet pizzas alike, but some classic pizza joints will never go out of style. Whether you’re currently a student or you simply have fond recollections of your 20-something years, chances are you can probably relate to the age-old quest for a late night pizza. Even if, for some reason, pizza isn’t your all-time favorite food, there’s no denying the fact that it’s always there for you when you need it. Is there any sweeter sound than the pizza deliverer’s knock on your door? From providing a hearty meal for your family to fueling you through that late-night study session, pizza is a reliable dish for just about any occasion. If you can appreciate the appeal of the pizza, take a look at the following infographic, and take a moment to be glad that we live in a world where pizza exists.

Thanks Allison!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Raspberry Charlotte!

 

I freely admit that I was a little nervous about making this incredibly gorgeous Raspberry Charlotte as a suffix to our dinner that accompanied a reading of Clare Booth Luce's classic play, The Women. This distinctly female "no boys allowed" creation was read mostly by us boys. Hilarity ensued as we tackled all 22 roles. Bowls of smokehouse almonds and cocktails got us started. Befitting the glamour of another era, I served a watercress salad with Annie's Shiitake & Sesame vinaigrette and buttered Parker House rolls, all of which went quickly. Classic London Broil (a few slabs shown here) served as the main before our entrancing dessert.


Raspberry Charlotte is a delicate confection consisting of lots of whipped meringue that at any moment just may surrender itself to the food gods and keel over, at least so I thought. I made it the day before as it has to sit, refrigerated overnight, to relax. My charlotte was a total success and boy, did I feel proud, having executed it properly. A Kitchen-Aid mixer is essential to avoid so much exhausting hand-whisking to form the stiff peaks for the cake! And homemade whipped cream! We did not have eau-de-vie de poire as the recipe suggests but used instead kirsch (the cherry version) that we did have on hand for further flavor.

Here, the 9 cups of frozen raspberries are duly dosed with 3/4 cup sugar before filling the cake. Above is the finished result, drizzled with the berry puree.



To the table! Pearls and a gossipy tea set ripe for conversation!





A view of the Raspberry Charlotte pillage! Isn't that a brilliant color?


Another glimpse of the table as our evening settled in.


Soundtrack: Noel Coward, The British Bands; Flapper Favourites, Music from the 1920's; Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Monday, December 10, 2012

Veal Prince Orloff


This particular evening was inspired by the hilarious, classic "Dinner Party" episode of Mary Tyler Moore, where Sue Ann Nivens cooked everything and Mary played host. Unlike other parties that Mary threw, this meal of Veal Prince Orloff for Congresswoman Gettys was a success. And so was our dinner! I used Julia Child's recipe but this recipe from epicurious.com is very similar.

I wanted an elegant table to feature our 'haute cuisine' palely painted in mostly white.

 


 Simple cuts of silk celadon ribbons served as napkin rings.


As involved as the dish of Veal Prince Orloff was, I made it the day before and merely re-heated it to serve--it was time consuming to make but actually saved time.

Crunchy asparagus with garlic butter was courtesy of Fresh Direct, served as our starter, and both bags took about five minutes to come to life in the microwave. Devoured.


The lovely veal is shown below, cooked to a bare pink, smothered in a sumptuous sauce passed down from the hands of French nobility! Components are listed in more detail here, but basically, onions simmered with rice created the soubise; chopped mushrooms in butter served as our duxelle preparation; the flour and milk bechamel turned into veloute with the addition of our veal liquid and then became mornay with the addition of grated Swiss cheese. After a swift puree from the heft of a hand blender, all danced together and we had the lyrical sauce for our Veal Prince Orloff.



Two sturdy bunches of braised celery to accompany the veal was basically my own invention, lightly tossed in melted butter and slowly simmered in shallots, then I added a half cup of dry white wine and a half cup of French court bouillon stock to the mix, garnished with chives and flavorful celery leaves. Devoured.


The Baked Pears Alicia was a made up dessert created for the show and I did a riff on the recipe that I found online. I don't mind telling you I used canned pears so I wouldn't have to peel, split and core them. I marinated them overnight in their own juices, some water and white wine, with vanilla beans, reconstituted dried lemons slivers, cinnamon bark and baked them in a 350 degree oven until warm.


P.S. Devoured.

We set up our beautiful vintage chocolate service and made a steaming batch of hot cocoa, laced with a few shots of Patron coffee liqueur-flavored tequila.


Our guests, mid romp!




Thanks, Mary!

Soundtrack: Henry Mancini, Martinis with Mancini; Equivel, Christmas!; Herbie Hancock, Cantaloupe Island; Antonio Carlos Jobim, The Man from Ipanema; Frank Sinatra, A Jolly Christmas.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Fatta Cuckoo - Next Magazine Review


I just loved this place!

Fatta Cuckoo
63 Clinton St (btwn Rivington/Stanton Sts), 212-353-0570, FattaCuckoo.com

Upon entering tiny seater Fatta Cuckoo, we felt as if we had jumped into the Magic Screen from Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. As the mere name might imply, the space itself is quirky, whimsical and fun, assembled by proprietress Leah Tinari with her own broadly imagined paintings hanging on the whitewashed-brick walls. The food is a delight, as handled by chef Matias Hernandez. It’s stuff that everybody likes but  doesn’t descend to ordinary comfort food. Tinari glows with passion about her food and art, and it emanates from her as she dotes upon the engaging premises. An amusing, explanatory anecdote: when Tinari was a child, her Italian nonna used to tap her belly with a gentle forefinger after eating an exhausting meal and coo, “Fatta cuckoo!”

Over a groovy soundtrack featuring old-school hits, the cocktail list further inspired our imaginations, particularly the special T-Party cocktail with Espolòn tequila, spiced honey, Lillet and bitters. What could have been a blithely loathsome brunch drink, the St. Rose was actually a very solidly balanced cocktail with vodka, St-Germain liqueur, Aperol, orange bitters and a float of prosecco. We also took more than a few sips of a blood-orange screwdriver with vodka, muddled basil, a breath of lime and a splash of soda water.

We ordered a cream-filled ball of burrata cheese, plucked from Saxelby’s in the nearby Essex Street Market. This beauty was domestically crafted in Philadelphia and the day’s preparation included mint and pistachio pesto with a chiffonade of basil and a touch of olive oil, served with cranberry-walnut crostini. We were curious about the calamari—stuffed with braised short ribs!—but moved on to a plate of ravioli filled with whipped ricotta, shiitake and cremini mushrooms in a mushroom cream sauce tied up with thyme and offered like little presents with wonton skins as wrapping paper.

It took about three seconds of scouring the menu to realize we had to have the fried chicken, which turned out to be incredibly juicy—brined and battered and served with a ladleful of sharp Gorgonzola, celery root purée, house-made hot sauce and a prickly side of carrots and celery, all in homage to classic roadside chicken wings. We paired this up with red Swiss chard sautéed on an amiable plate of frizzled bacon and golden raisins. Seriously crispy pork was furthered by a fanciful blueberry barbecue sauce, an earnest cornbread cake and slivers of slaw. We plundered the mushy potato puffs, or elevated Tater Tots, if you will.

Keeping it in the family, Tinari’s mother lends a hand with Mom’s Desserts, which she actually makes. We’re talking brightly zesty yet delicate Key Lime pie; cream cheese cheesecake with a graham cracker crust that had us at OMG; and a Grasshopper Mousse that screamed for a ’70s dinner party with crème de menthe, a fluff of the freshest whipped cream and a dusting of chocolate sandwich cookie powder. We rolled over all of them, enjoying every bite that we could manage, as we’d been pointing at our bellies for quite some time.

Even after the sugar rush subsided, what could we say? We’re cuckoo for…

Short Order: Comforting food for everyone served with a refined side of whimsy in a relaxed, charming atmosphere.
Peter’s Picks: T-Party tequila cocktail; vegetable ravioli; fried chicken; Mom’s Desserts
Peter’s Pans: Venturing to the Lower East Side and then trying to find where on earth the restaurant was!
Prices: Appetizers: $10–$15; Entrées: $16–$21; Alcohol: wine, full bar, specialty cocktails.

First published in part in Next Magazine

Photo credit: Gustavo Monroy.