I was born and raised in Kansas and learned to cook alongside my mother. Now, along with my wonderful husband, I have taken the plunge into the city life in New York. These are my food adventures: in my own tiny kitchen, and in the many restaurants of the city.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Shake Shack

The food scene in New York is amazingly diverse, but some days you have to forgo the huge selection of ethnic foods and give in to the temptation of a good old American hamburger. And what better way to enjoy said burger than sitting in the shade of the trees of Madison Square park with a side of cheese fries and a black and white shake.
Shake Shack is a "roadside food stand" in Madison Square park where you can get a tasty burger, Chicago style hot dogs, concretes, beer or wine and, of course, shakes. It was built in 2004 and was designed to fit in with the overall tone and feel of the park. If the lines of people out front tell you anything, the Shack is a huge success. When Joe and I stopped by on our day off, we waited in line for about 25 minutes before reaching the front and placing our order, but I've heard that 1 hour lines aren't unheard of. And I think the food is worth the wait. The burgers are flavorful and have a great soft bun. The shakes are made with a homemade frozen custard and are incredibly creamy. I think the only thing I didn't love were the plain fries--they were good, but not the best fries I've ever had, although adding the creamy cheese to them really helped.
Despite the line, the Shake Shack is a great place to go for a picnic without the work or for a simple meal while out running around the city.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Greenmarket Stir Fry

When I am having a bad day, a trip to the greenmarket always puts me in a better mood. The smell of fresh produce and baked goods and the lure of thousands of recipe ideas is to good to pass up.
As I wandered around the Union Square market on Wednesday, I decided I would make a simple stir fry from the veggies I collected. From the market I purchased onion, green peppers, sugar snap peas, zucchini, and garlic scapes. I decided to buy some red peppers and mushrooms from my supermarket since I love them and couldn't find them at the market and add them to the mix as well. I sauteed them all in a pan with a little oil over high heat and added some already cooked, chopped chicken (leftover from the night before's quesadillas), and a simple sauce. I served it over some white rice and dinner was ready.

Greenmarket Stir-Fry
2 Green peppers, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/8 c. chopped garlic scapes
1 c. sugar snap peas
1/2 zucchini, sliced
chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
3/4 c. garlic ginger sauce
1/4 c. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. white wine
1 t. crushed red pepper
1/2 t. curry
Heat skillet on high heat with 3 tbsp. oil. Add the vegetables and saute until cooked but not mushy (about 5-7 minutes). Mix together sauce ingredients in a separate bowl. When vegetables are ready, add chicken and sauce and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Serve over rice or noodles unless you are trying to be healthy and go without. But I suggest the rice :-).


A secret passageway. Stone walls. Swords through smoking fruit. Your waiter in Ninjawear jumping out at you from the ceiling. All part of your dinner when you dine at Ninja (http://www.ninjanewyork.com/).
Last week a few of my coworkers and a couple of friends went out to dinner. I have never had an experience like we had at Ninja. The atmosphere was fabulous and fun, our waiter joked around with us all night and was very funny, and the presentation of the food was remarkable.

This is Batto Jutsu: scallops and salmon with a citrus sauce served atop an orange. When brought to the table, the orange had a sword stuck through it. The waiter told Noel to pull it out, which started the smoke flowing from the orange.

Next is the Clam Bombshell, which was a closed shell clam when brought to the table. The waiter lit a fuse and when it reached the clam and the sea salts it started a fire which caused the clam to slowly open.

These are the Dancing Plantains (part of my tasting menu) served with an avocado/tomato dip.This is Kirikabu, a beef dish. The tree stump covering is made from phyllo dough and is edible (you lift it up and the meat is underneath it).

This is Taiyaki: sauteed fluke and spinach covered with a fish shaped pie crust and clam chowder.

This is a green tea brulee topped off with an edible crane (that is filled with chocolate).And this is tira mi su. It looks like a bonsai tree and the best part is that the little trees are edible, too.I don't have any pictures of the amazing spicy tuna rolls or the Kuro Subuto: Slowly simmered Pork marinated in Squid Ink Tempura Batter, dressed in Sweet Black Rice Vinegar Sauce served with Asparagus and Red Peppers, which was incredible. Ninja truly is an experience--much more than just a meal. If you go, however, keep an eye in the sky on your way to the bathroom--unsuspecting visitors may get a fright from those ninjas lurking in the ceiling.

In Honor of "Harry Potter"

When the 6th book in the Harry Potter series came out, Joe and I decided to throw a party celebrating our favorite wizard. This time around we didn't have the time to have people over, but I wanted to post some of the recipes we used last time in case anyone ever gets an urge to host their own Harry Potter Party. Some of these recipes came from Mugglenet, others from a different website (that I can't remember for the life of me), and a couple were created by others and just had a name-change to put them in the Harry Potter mood.

8 oz. root beer
1 shot of butterscotch schnapps
Mix together and serve chilled.

Parchment Scrolls
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
2 Tbs pesto
¾ c shredded cheddar cheese

Spread pesto evenly over pastry, then spread cheese on top. Roll ends in to each other (looks like a big scroll of parchment) and cut into 1 ½” pieces. Place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and cook at 425 for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Snape's Stuffed Toadstools
2 lb. Large Mushrooms
2 cloves garlic finely diced
1/4 cup butter
8 oz. bulk pork sausage
1/2 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley (finely chopped)
Remove stems from mushrooms, reserve caps. Finely chop stems and saute' in butter with garlic until both are golden. Add sausage and saute' until brown. Stir in bread crumbs, cheese and parsley. Stuff each cap with mixture. Place in broiling pan that has been lightly sprayed with non-stick spray. Broil 3-5 minutes until mushrooms are bubbly and brown.

Magic Wands
large pretzel rods
Just open the package, arrange in a glass or vase, and tell your guests to cast a couple spells before eating them!

Cauldron Cakes
Your favorite devils food cake recipe, made into cupcakes black string licorice
Bake your cupcakes according to the instructions, without using paper cup liners. Slice off the top of the crown of each cupcake so that when it is turned upside down, it sits flat. This gives you more of a cauldron shape than a cupcake shape. Cut the black string licorice into small pieces and poke them into the cupcakes as cauldron handles. (I like to put frosting on these so it looks like the potion bubbling out).

Ton Tongue Toffee
1 c. butter
1c. sugar
3 Tblsp. water
1 Tblsp. light colored corn syrup
3/4 c. semisweet chocolate pieces

Butter sides of a heavy 2 quart saucepan. In saucepan melt butter. Add sugar, water, and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium-high heat till mixture boils. Clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Reduce heat to medium; continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, stirring frequently, till thermometer registers 280, soft crack stage (about 15 minutes). Watch carefully to prevent scorching. Remove saucepan from heat; remove thermometer. Pour candy into a greased 13X9" pan.
Let candy stand about 5 minutes or till firm; sprinkle with chocolate. Let stand 1 to 2 minutes. When chocolate has softened, spread over candy. Chill till firm. Break toffee into pieces and serve.

Dragonheart Dip
Use your favorite artichoke dip and serve with chips and "magic wands".

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Shilla Korean Barbecue House

I blame most of my hangovers since moving to New York on two of my coworkers, Noel and Alicja (pictured with another coworker, Nastassia, left). That being said, I also have them to thank for some of my best nights in the city.
After work last Saturday night, we decided we were in desperate need for Korean barbecue. As Alicja and I had never been, we were glad to have Noel along to guide us through (which means he ordered for us and we just ate :-).
We hopped into a cab and went to 32nd Street toward Koreatown. When we stepped out of the cab I felt like we had stepped into another country (I am quite often feeling this way around the city because no part ever looks like another and I'm always surprised when I see something new that I've never stumbled upon before). We wandered up the street and into Shilla Korean barbecue house: http://shillanyc.com/.

As we sat down, we ordered a round of beers. Although Noel was ordering for us, I wanted to have a look at the menu myself. Even with the pictures, I was confused.

As soon as Noel ordered our waiter brought around the banchan (or panchan), tiny plates of kimchi, pickled vegetables, fried sardines, and tiny, crispy shrimp. These (as well as the main courses) are all meant to be shared by the table. You can have no fear of the double dipper while eating here. I could already feel my eyes growing larger than my stomach.

Next we received two pasta courses, one a thick, heavy noodle with octopus and a red sauce, the other a thin, translucent noodle that was slightly sweet with vegetables.

And finally, the waiter turned on the grill that was in the middle of the table. He cooked both of the meats we had ordered (beef and shrimp) one at a time as we pulled them off to eat as they were finished. We didn't even bother wrapping the meat in the lettuce and I couldn't help but to throw on some garlic to the grill to enjoy on top of my meat.

The meal was so great, I had to force myself to quit eating when I had grown too full to stuff anymore in(but I couldn't resist taking a few more bites as we sat around talking). The only bad part about the meal was that I didn't have my camera to take any pictures of our meal. So you will have to do with an image of someone else's Korean barbecue experience.

Cherry Lavender Harvest Cake

I am in love Amanda's food blog: http://figsoliveswine.blogspot.com/. She is a fellow New Yorker who uses fresh, local products in all of her recipes. It is really inspiring because I am constantly checking out the green markets, but am never quite sure what to make with all of the fresh ingredients I find there. I learn something new every time I read her blog, and I also leave it feeling a little hungrier...
During my latest outing to the Union Square green market, I was tempted into buying fresh lavender and cherries (among many other things) in order to try Amanda's Cherry Lavender Harvest cake, which I hadn't been able to get out of my mind since I had seen it a couple of weeks ago. It is just as heavenly as it looked. Here is Amanda's recipe and a pic of my own attempt (note: I don't have a springform pan, so I just used a baking dish. It is not as pretty, but it still tastes amazing!)
Cherry Lavender Harvest Cake
1 1/2 cups sweet cherries, halved and pitted extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of table salt
1 egg
1/2 cup granulated sugargrated
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp lemon juice
1 scant tsp lavender
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup milk
extra granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with olive oil. Cut a circle of parchment paper to cover the bottom of the pan, and then brush that with olive oil too. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. In an electric kitchen mixer, beat the egg and sugar for 5 minutes or until pale and fluffy. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, lavender, ¼ cup olive oil, and milk. Beat until combined. Fold in the flour mixture with a spatula until just combined. Be careful not to over-stir. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Top with the cherries. Sprinkle with a little more sugar.Bake for 45 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes. Remove the springform and continue to cool. Once the cake’s completely cool, store in an airtight container.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Oreo Truffles and Coffee Panna Cotta

Last weekend one of Joe's coworkers invited us to his beautiful apartment in Brooklyn Heights for a dinner party. They provided dinner which was a wonderful beef bourguignon that Des made. David bought a variety of excellent cheeses from Stinky's (and I'm looking forward to the day that David takes me there: http://www.stinkybklyn.com/). The other guests brought the wine, so I decided to make dessert.
I've been craving oreo truffles, so I decided I had to make those. Then I wanted to make something that was a little lighter and would go well with the rest of the meal. I came across this recipe for the coffee panna cotta on allrecipes.com. This recipe is so easy and it tastes amazing.

Oreo Truffles (from Kraftfoods.com)
1 pkg. (1 lb., 2 oz.) OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, divided
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, melted
CRUSH 9 of the cookies to fine crumbs in food processor; reserve for later use. (Cookies can also be finely crushed in a resealable plastic bag using a rolling pin.) Crush remaining 36 cookies to fine crumbs; place in medium bowl. Add cream cheese; mix until well blended. Roll cookie mixture into 42 balls, about 1-inch in diameter.
DIP balls in chocolate; place on wax paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover chocolate can be stored at room temperature for another use.) Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs.
REFRIGERATE until firm, about 1 hour. Store leftover truffles, covered, in refrigerator.

Costa Rican Coffee Panna Cotta with Bittersweet Chocolate Rum Sauce

2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup dark rum
1 1/4 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons dark colored corn syrup
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon dark rum
8 sprigs fresh mint for garnish
Sprinkle the unflavored gelatin over 1/4 cup of dark rum and allow to soften for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, stir together 1 1/4 cups of whipping cream, brown sugar, and espresso powder in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring until brown sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, then whisk in gelatin mixture until dissolved.
Whisk in the coconut milk, vanilla extract, and sour cream until smooth. Evenly divide the mixture between eight 3/4 cup custard cups or molds, cover each with plastic wrap, and chill at least 4 hours to overnight.
Bring 3/4 cup whipping cream and corn syrup to a simmer over medium-high heat. Once simmering, remove from heat, and stir in the chocolate until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of rum and set aside.
To serve, run a knife around the edge of each mold, then set each cup into a shallow bowl of hot water for 10 seconds to loosen. Invert the mold over a serving plate and remove the panna cotta. Spoon chocolate sauce around each panna cotta and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Pepperoni Rolls

This recipe is from Krashed24 on the WC board and I found it in the "One Tiny Pink Kitchen" blog. I love pizza and this looked too good to pass up. Because the store doesn't have Pillsbury french bread, I decided to use crescent rolls instead of making a trek to the pizza place and asking for some dough. They turned out ok with the crescent rolls, but it made them a little too sweet for my taste. I can't wait to try these with the real dough!

Pepperoni Rolls
1 loaf of French Bread (like Pillsbury)
Shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
Pepperoni (I used about 50 slices)
Parmesan cheese (a few handfuls)
Italian Seasoning to taste
Egg wash (water and egg)
Preheat oven to 350. Spray cookie sheet with nonstick spray and roll out the bread dough. Sprinkle generously with parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese and italian seasoning. Lay out the pepperoni, as much or as little as you would like. Roll the bread up carefully, trying to put the seam down on the cookie sheet. Cut three slices in the bread loaf to allow air to escape. Brush bread with egg wash. Sprinkle parmesan cheese, italian seasoning on top. Line top with remaining pepperoni and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown.

Chicken Marsala roll-ups and Bruschetta

Chicken Marsala Roll-ups
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets
4-6 slices provolone cheese
4-6 slices prosciutto (or thinly sliced ham when you can't find prosciutto in the grocery store by your house...)
1/2 stick butter
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350. Place chicken breasts into a plastic bag one at a time and pound until they are 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Lay a slice of provolone and a slice of prosciutto on each chicken breast and roll up. Place seam side down in a baking dish.

Saute mushrooms and garlic in butter over medium-high heat. When mushrooms are cooked, add marsala wine and allow to cook about 2 minutes. Add the heavy whipping cream and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly. Pour sauce over chicken and place baking dish uncovered in oven and cook 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear.

1 loaf french bread, sliced and toasted
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
5 basil leaves, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried basil if fresh is unavailable)
3 sage leaves, chopped
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Mix together tomatoes, garlic, basil, sage, and olive oil. Top on toasted french bread.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

I've been tagged!

I've been tagged by multiple people now, so I figured it was time to respond! I don't know if I have 7 people to tag, but I'll try!! If I tag you here are the rules:

Each player starts with seven random facts or habits about himself or herself.A tagged player then writes a blog entry with the seven things, as well as these rules.Then the player tags seven others and lists their names on his or her blog.Remember to leave a comment for your newly tagged players, letting them know they have been tagged and to read your blog!

So, here are my 7 random facts:

1. I grew up in a town of 150 people and graduated with a class of 21. Now I live in New York City.

2. I had my first boyfriend in 2nd Grade. His name was Justin. I thought we were "together" for 2 years. I don't know if he realized it.

3. I shaved my head the summer after my freshman year of college (I was working at a summer camp and made a crazy pact. I cried for a week :-/ )

4. The first play I ever did was in kindergarten and I played a pilgrim who died, but I didn't have any lines because my teacher said I was so shy. Now I'm an actress :-)

5. I used to think I could beat up my little sister, but I think she has always been stronger than me and has always taken me down.

6. I throw Harry Potter parties for the new movies/books and make foods that fit the theme (Snape's Stuffed Toadstools, Parchment Scrolls, Magic Wands, Ton Tongue Toffee, and Butterbeer). I'm a nerd, but I can't wait for the 7th book!!

7. I used to think I was supposed to marry a prince because my name means princess. I was pretty convinced it would be Prince William.

Ok, I'm tagging Stacey, Leslie, and Beth!!