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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Blue Apron - Lemongrass Shrimp

Baby's sister-in-law recently introduced us to Blue Apron, a wonderful, purposeful, hands-on food delivery service. First person to comment in an email to will receive a week's selection of three meals for two--free! This does of course depend on whether they deliver or not to your area--but I do believe they are slowly taking over the country. Check out to find out more about them and where they deliver.

Here's what's great about Blue Apron:

Three meals for two are about $60 and there are usually leftovers--and you don't have to think about what to make for dinner every night because colorful recipe cards arrive in a box filled with fresh, insulated, refrigerated measured-out produce such as snap peas, shrimp, ground lamb and beef mixtures, chicken thighs and herbs such as tarragon, cilantro or parsley to suit the recipes. There is also a charming bag of Knick Knacks included with perhaps two tablespoons of sesame oil, soy sauce or butter for example, or a 1/4 cup of flour depending on the week's recipes. I love this because you don't have to try to locate a bottle of oyster sauce and then stare at it wondering what to do with the rest--or deal with the tedium of measuring out everything.

The way the recipe cards are configured, it also teaches a good method of cooking, such as preparing your ingredients first in ramekins, to set up your mise en place and have the chopped goods at the ready for more efficient cooking. The recipes take less than an hour from preparation to table.

If you can't attend to Blue Apron's weekly visits right away, throw the meat and fish in the freezer! Put the produce in the crisper and try to use within the week! Improvise! You don't need to follow the recipes exactly and you will have staples on hand for other uses.

A calorie count is listed (this shrimp and soba recipe is about 560 calories per serving) and you may cancel from week to week by going online or calling them about six days in advance before your next delivery.

Lemongrass Shrimp with Soba Noodles and Chinese Broccoli
6 ounces Chinese broccoli
3 scallions
2 cloves garlic
2 stalks lemongrass
1-inch piece ginger
5 1/2 ounces soba noodles
10 ounces shrimp
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 lime
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Prepare your ingredients:
Heat a large pot of water to boiling on high. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Chop the Chinese broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Slice the scallions. Peel and mince the garlic and ginger. Cut off the ends of the lemongrass stalks, then peel away the fibrous outer layers until you reach the white, pliable cores. Mince the lemongrass cores.

Cook the soba noodles:
Add the soba noodles to the boiling water. Cook about 6 to 8 minutes, or until tender. Drain thoroughly.

Cook the shrimp:
While the soba noodles cook, heat some oil in a large pan on medium-high until hot. Add the garlic, lemongrass, ginger, shrimp, and half the scallions. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring until the shrimp are pink.

Add the Chinese broccoli:
Cook 1 to 2 minutes, or until bright green. Remove from the heat.

Add the soba noodles:
Add the drained soba noodles, oyster sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce, and the juice of half  the lime. Stir about 1 minute to coat everything in the sauce.

Plate your dish:
Divide the noodles with shrimp and vegetables between 2 bowls. Garnish each with the remaining scallions. Serve with lime wedges. Enjoy!

First published in part through Blue Apron.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Joe Allen Review - Next Magazine


Joe Allen
326 W 46th St (btwn Eighth/Ninth Aves)

SHORT ORDER: The straightforward, consistent Restaurant Row joint is a New York classic that is pretty hard to beat. 

PETER’S PICKS: Joe Allen! Meeting Joan Rivers! 

PETER’S PANS: The “flop wall” featuring posters of panned Broadway shows that suffered at the hand of theater critics and indifferent audiences. 

Joe Allen, the fabulous, storied, classic New York joint on Restaurant Row has been a favorite for me ever since I first experienced it over 20 years ago. With all that goes on in this ever-changing borough, Joe Allen is a constant, and we sat comfortably with a soothing soundtrack in the background by Ella, Billie and Bing. We pretty much had the place to ourselves, as the 7pm theatergoers had already left, and were excited to learn that we were seated at Joan Rivers’ favorite table. Later, much to our jaw-dropping surprise, she actually walked into the restaurant! Since we were lingering over cocktails, having already finished dinner, we gladly offered her our table, but the grand lady graciously declined after talking to us for a while and sat instead at her “second favorite table” with entourage in tow—and yes, she looked gorgeous. 

When it comes to cocktails, I can’t think of anything else to order at Joe Allen but a brisk martini, and Belvedere vodka made the grade this time. My fella conservatively slugged back some sparkling water. For starters, a huge portion of aromatic steak tartare was buttery, flavored with strong mustard; sharp, pungent onions and tangy capers plated with a glistening arugula side salad. Toast points provided a fine conveyance. Escargots were tender and not chewy at all, as they so often are. This dish was done right, with fresh herbs, garlic and simmering oil. A small, fantastic Caesar salad was certainly enough for two to share and was exactly what it should have been—fresh, crunchy romaine perfectly coated with a creamy dressing, composed of pert lemon and pungent garlic. It’s a simple preparation that so many restaurants mess up all the time.

About here we stepped up to an Austrian Grüner Veltliner, which was crisp like a lively autumn day with creamy, resonant green and floral notes. I do find the Joe Allen hamburger to be one of the best in the city (for years it was never even listed on the menu), but we turned our thoughts elsewhere and ordered the shrimp and grits as a sort of pasta course. We loved it, just like a country breakfast with andouille sausage and jumbo shrimp in a lobster consommé with a fried egg on top and a peppery finish. 

Thinly sliced sautéed calf’s liver served medium rare was a rapture with grilled onions, a delicious torrent of whipped potatoes and wondrous, diaphanous slivers of bacon love notes. The moist, bone-in pork chop had a great sear, served with Jersey peach chutney. It was surely sent courtesy of Henry VIII—it was a huge, gluttonous piece of meat that we could only eat half of! Accompanying roasted Brussels sprouts were wonderful and further fit the bill. 

The chocolate pudding cake with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge has always  been a delight, but having been alerted to Ms. Rivers’ favorite, we ordered the banana cream pie instead, such a light, elegant finish to an extraordinary evening!       

Prices: Appetizers:  $7-$17; Entrées:  $13-$33; Alcohol:  wine, beer, full bar, specialty cocktails

First published in part in Next magazine