Ducks Eggs & Heirloom Tomatoes

This Saturday, after a wonderful Friday dinner of pasta primavera and some serious garlic bread (see recipe below), Jim and I decided to spend the day shopping lazily at any market or seller of fresh foods we could find.

First stop was the recently opened West Windsor Farmer’s Market in the Princeton-Junction train station parking lot (a wonderful spot for a weekend market). This early in the season, there wasn’t much available, but we learned of a great farm that sells free-range chicken and tons of other products, Griggstown Farm, and picked up a huge bag of their dried mushrooms and some asparagus. We also bought scarlet strawberries and ate a delectable, doughy, sugar-fried doughnut from Terhune Farms that plunged Jim into nostalgia over his high school years of hanging out at the Farm eating those golden rings of deliciousness.

Later in the afternoon, after a pit stop at the dog park, we drove up to Homestead Farm Market in Lambertville, picking up some ripe, heirloom tomatoes, NJ wildflower honey, various lettuces and radishes (which I need to figure out what to do with soon). We also stopped by the Highland Market to get some pictures of the beautiful animals raised there. These girls are huge!

Driving the scenic route back home, through Hopewell Township, NJ, we happened upon someone selling Duck, Chicken, and Goose eggs from there home. After spotting the sign out front, we pulled up a driveway-hill to find a yard full of squawking chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese. No cages, just an expansive green grassland for the animals to run around as they pleased.

Welcomed inside by a little old lady with a Russian accent, we learned we could adopt some ducks if we wished. After snapping some pictures of the adorable babies, I had to muster the courage to turn down her offer.

Instead, we bought a dozen chicken and a dozen duck eggs. Almost twice the size of chicken eggs, with yolks at least doubled in size, duck eggs are extremely creamy. I bet they would be fantastic in egg salad!

Our long drive ended up at Whole Foods, since we were craving some kind of meat for our Saturday date-night cooking in. Luckily, we found some grass-fed beef there, and purchased two gigantic rib-eyes.

Jim did a wonderful job cooking the steaks, which take much less time than grain-fed. First, he cooked bacon in a skillet, to use the rendered fat as the steaks’ cooking medium. Then. he seared the steaks quickly in the hot skillet, and transferred to a pan and covered in a garlic infused oil, cooking in the oven for about 10 minutes at 375. We covered the steaks in caramelized onions and ate a delicious fresh Caesar salad with dinner. The meat was tender and perfectly cooked. With grass-fed beef, you get no mouthfuls of flavorless fat because grass-fed is much leaner. The taste of the beef is almost indescribable. All I can say is that once you try it, you realize that its what beef is supposed to taste like.

Sunday morning I woke up to a superb breakfast of duck eggs, left over rib-eyes and potatoes. A perfect way to start the day.

Super Garlic Bread

Time: 20 minutes including prep

Oven Temp: 350°

  • Loaf of French or Italian Bread
  • 1 whole stick of butter, softened
  • small handful fresh basil, chopped
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Parm cheese for sprinkling
  1. Cut bread into halves.
  2. Mix softened butter, basil, and garlic in bowl.
  3. Butter both sides of bread, lay in a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes, open oven and sprinkle cheese on bread, bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is golden (watch to make sure you don’t burn it!)
  5. Enjoy!


Ota-Ya Sushi


Before I begin, here’s my disclaimer: I love sushi, but my tastes are unrefined. I enjoy fancy sushi, clean pieces of fresh-tasting fish with no adornments save a bed of rice, yet I’ll admit it’s not my favorite. I’m obsessed with the gaudy, over-indulging, fat sushi rolls, with names like “Incredible” and “Godzilla.” These mounds of spicy tuna, tempura flakes, fried eel, avocado and caviar are so insanely good that when I get the craving I need to run out to the nearest sushi joint and gorge myself.

My nearest sushi joint is Ota-Ya. (Really not so near at all–40 minute drive!) Housed in Lambertville, New Jersey, I’m pretty sure they have another in NYC. The place is chintzy-charming, with cute Asian decor and fat orange fish swimming (and counting their blessings) in a large tank behind the sushi chef.

The sushi at Ota-Ya is consistently good. My favorite, the Valentine Roll, has mounds of spicy tuna and red caviar on top. I love popping the fish eggs between my teeth, releasing the slippery-salty Omega-3 oils inside, despite how gross that sounds.

We tried a new roll last night, the Sushi Spring Roll. Each piece had a different topping: mango, eel, or avocado. The mango topping was my favorite–inside the roll was a hint of sweetness, and the fruit complimented this well.

We had to take a bite before the pictures!

Tonight, I’m cooking for our friend Alex, who celebrated a birthday this week. He’s a vegetarian, and I always have fun researching and creating vegetarian dishes with him. I think we’ll try a creamy pasta primavera tonight–I’ll make sure to post the outcome!

It went straight to my head. Cilantro-Lime-Scallion-Mint-Chili-Orange Chicken

It's yummy being green!

I’ve been very lucky over the past few weeks. Everything (save for the not-so-perfect Mother’s Day desserts) I cook tastes great, all of my fingers are in tact, no time wasted cleaning up horrific messes, and surprisingly, Jim and I haven’t suffered from food poisoning during my new-found obsession with creating my own recipes. Last weekend, visiting Jim’s wonderful aunt and uncle, I cooked Arroz con Pollo for 12 people and it tasted delicious! Usually, when I cook for any group of people, I am nervous and crabby during the cooking, scared and self-loathing during the serving. To my surprise, however, I felt easy going and sublime while cooking this weekend. No nervousness, and no self-loathing–I knew it would be wonderful and actually didn’t really care if it wasn’t. Maybe writing this food-blog has given me some confidence in the kitchen–and reading other people’s blogs, especially posts that share debacles and mistakes, show me I’m not alone in being a clumsy cook.

So, I’ve been extremely lucky. But luck has to end sometime…

The other night I created my own chicken stir-fryesque recipe with a combination of herbs and ingredients that seemed to come to me in a dream–actually, it was a combination of herbs and ingredients on sale at the market. Cilantro, lime, rice vinegar, scallions, soy sauce, sesame sauce, oyster sauce, garlic, chili peppers–wait, wait, there’s more–mint and orange. MMmmm, what a combo! Or, rather, what, a combo?!?!

The end product, to my great disbelief, was quite good. The peppery bit of herbs mixed well with the acidic sweetness of juice and the salt of the sauces, though I put too much herbs and juice into the mix, and the recipe below includes lessened amounts. With those changes, I’m sure the taste would improve gastronomically!

Cilantro-Lime-Scallion-Mint-Chili-Orange Chicken

Time: about 30 minutes (including prep)

Details: cooked on stovetop, using only a wok, on mainly medium-high heat

  • 1 tbs. rice vinegar
  • 1 tbs. corn oil
  • 1 tbs. dark sesame oil
  • 1 tbs. soy sauce (plus more for sprinkling later)
  • 1/2 tbs. oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp. orange zest
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. ground chili pepper (hot)
  • Mint leaves from 3 sprigs, chopped
  • Cilantro leaves from 3 sprigs, chopped
  • 2/3 cup of scallions, chopped
  • 1 lb. chicken thighs, but crosswise into short strips
  • One lime, cut into wedges for juicing into sauce at the end
  1. Mix first 5 ingredients in medium bowl and add in chicken to coat. Let stand for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add chicken and garlic to wok and cook over medium-high heat. When partially cooked, add orange, ginger, mint, ground chili, cilantro and scallions.
  3. Drain sauce through a fine mesh sieve and put chicken and veggies into a serving bowl. Add sauce back into wok and reduce, sprinkling in some lime juice and soy sauce, to thicken. When reduced, drip over chicken and serve.


Eat Zucchini! Save the Chickens!


Okay, I’ll start off with something yummy. My zucchini cakes are little pads of ooey-gooey ecstasy. Cheesy and delicious. The best part is that they are mostly zucchini, and therefore healthy, err, on the healthy, uhh, healthy-cheesy-greasy side. I like to tell myself that it’s always good to eat more veggies!

Zucchini Cakes

  • 3 medium-to-large zucchini, grated
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 5 oz. asiago cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • oil for frying
  • salt & pepper
  1. Place shredded zucchini in bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for a few minutes and then drain excess water through a fine-mesh drainer.
  2. Mix in cheese, flour, egg, green onions and parsley. Season to taste with salt (remembering you already salted the zucchini) and pepper. Sprinkle more flour if mixture is too wet.
  3. Heat enough oil in pan that zucchini cakes can fry partly covered.
  4. Drop rounded tablespoons of mixture into pan and fry on both sides over medium high heat. Between 2 and 5 minutes per side.
  5. Shovel cooled cakes into drooling mouth.


And now for something less appetizing…

I was pleased to find an article about the horrors of industrially-processed chicken life in this month’s issue of Gourmet. The chicken is the worst treated animal of American processing plants. Their beaks are snipped off, without anesthesia, so that they will not peck and kill one another in their closer-than-close quarters. Laying hens are kept in cages so small that they cannot turn around. They are in so much pain that they rub their breasts against the cages until they maim themselves, presumably to commit suicide. By the time this would kill them, though, the hens have laid enough eggs and are slaughtered anyway. The life of broiling chickens is not much better. They are force fed extreme amounts within a short period of time. Their legs are crippled and “broilers” are so near death by the time they reach the slaughtering house (if they reach alive at all) that you might as well consider it murdering the already dead.

You may have gotten the feeling that my views are strong on this subject. Absolutely right. I am a meat eater, but one that will never buy non-cage free eggs, and will only buy organic, free-range chicken when I’m at a loss for farm grown, local product. I am seriously considering lowering my intake of meat altogether, and only eating farm-bought animals.

Nothing in the Gourmet article, “A View to Kill,” was new to me, and I was somewhat peeved at their exaggerated outrage at how the chickens are picked up from their feet (something most farmers will do anyway) without any mention of beak clipping. That said, I’m happy to see this topic explored by a mainstream magazine, and I am hopeful that the industrial processing word is slowly being kicked in the ass.

I was particularly interested in the following quotes from the article:

The research has found, for instance, that, starting in the sheds, the chickens balloon in weight so fast that their baby skeletons can’t support it well: among other problems, their tendons slip and their leg bones twist, making a large proportion of commercial broilers partially or completely lame.

Back in the late 1990s, Claire Weeks and her colleagues at England’s University of Bristol divided 120 broilers into two groups–those that were lame and those that walked normally. They then offered both groups two kinds of food–regular feed, and the same feed spiked with an anti-inflammatory painkiller known as carprofen. The lame birds ate up to 50 percent more drugged feed than did the normal ones. And the more drugged feed they are, says Weeks, the better they walked. “That suggests,” she says, “that lame birds were self-medicating because they were in pain.”

This specific study was new to me–and I am grateful it is in the article. This is a perfect example of how much people are averting their eyes from the truth. It is insane–completely insane–to tell yourself that animals, chickens, do not feel pain simply because they do not have the voice to scream “Ow!”

It’s one thing if you don’t care how much pain an animal suffers in the industrial processing world. That is your choice. It’s another thing if you are simply averting your eyes, not thinking about the animals so you can go on buying a dozen eggs for 79¢. Americans have the highest rate of disposable income per person in the world, yet we spend the lowest percentage of our income on food. Buy one less pair of shoes this year and put all of that money into buying healthier, more humane, food. The chickens will thank you!


Don’t fear the Bluefish.

Bluefish is the cheapest fish available at my New Jersey market. Five dollars a pound, compared to sometimes 21 for wild-caught salmon. The fishmonger says that bluefish is both more prevalent and too fishy for most people, so therefore cheap.

I’ve heard this before, that bluefish doesn’t taste good, is too fishy, smells too funny. People consistently turn up their noses when I talk about bluefish.

So why does mine taste so good, while the rest of the world scrapes their fish in the trash? I’ve come to the conclusion that my boyfriend must be some kind of fish-cook-superman.

Really. He’s good.

I enjoy my boyfriend’s plain, olive oil pan-fried fish more than any comparably prepared fish in any restaurant. Swanky New York joints included. And he does it so effortlessly and without all of the complaining and nervousness exhibited by moi when I’m cooking.

How does he do this? Good question.

“Because I know how to crisp a skin,” He tells me. I nod lovingly. Go on…

“By rubbing the blade of a knife along the skin, applying enough pressure to squeegee off any excess water,” He’s so eloquent, this is verbatim.

“Then I sear the top of the fish and then flip onto the skin, cooking mostly on the skin side,” He goes on. I nod and smile once more, signally I no longer need him and that I want to write my blog. I look up and he is still there.

“And liberal olive oil! None of that skimpy shit!” Okay. Things have gotten a bit heated now.

I tell him we are done here.

Before leaving the room to go work on his beautifully begun novel, he yells, “And you know what could make it better–pour chocolate all over it! Chocolate!” I think he is either trying to be funny, or seeing if I am any longer paying attention to him.

I keep my eyes on my computer desk. He retreats.

So now everyone, we know the secret of the bluefish. It seems appropriate to laugh maniacally, but I don’t want Jim to think I’m crazy.

Celebration: Mommy (Rich Chocolate Tart & Strawberry Shortcake ‘Parfait’)

This past Sunday, I spent a wonderfully sunny afternoon at my parents’ house to celebrate my mom and my Nana. The food was abundant and the talk of food was non-stop. My mother joked that we’ve all become sick and twisted because we took so many pictures of the food, while forgetting to photograph any people!

Dinner was a collaborative effort. My mother baked a succulent ham, her friend Sharon created a gorgeous salad, my uncle John made lemony-rosemary-thyme mushrooms and roasted potatoes. My dad handle the appetizer (shrimp cocktail) and the drinks. I made some strawberry desserts and my sister, Kathy brought an apple pie. Quite a meal!

I’m not–yet–a baker, and my desserts were experimental at best. My rich chocolate tart was made with 73% chocolate and a shortbread tart crust. The chocolate was so rich and almost tangy that the first bite bit back. After a moment, though, the taste settled and smoothed, becoming quite good. Good enough, at least, for me to take a second helping.

My strawberry shortcake parfait had too much cake–about 2 parts cake to 1 part whipped cream, which was not enough at all. The cake, which was unsweetened, tasted more like bread, and needed probably 3 parts sweetened strawberries and whipped cream to 1 part cake, so that the unsweetened bread will be soaked by the strawberries and cream. I was amazed how delicious fresh whipped whipped cream is. I guess I had never really thought about it before, but now that I’ve made some, I will never, ever buy store bought whipped cream again.

I’ll post the recipes as I made them, with notes to what I think could be improvements. Give it a shot, and if yours come out deliciously, be sure to tell me!

Rich Chocolate Tart with Strawberries & Remaining Raspberries

Oven Preheat: 350°

For the Crust

  • 1 Stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup flour

For the Filling

  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 5 tbsp. sugar (I recommend using a bit less, maybe 3-4)
  • 5 1/2 oz. 73% chocolate (you can use whatever kind you want, but the sugar content of the dessert will change based on percentage)
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 3/4 pound chopped strawberries
  • the last, soldiering raspberries of my molded over container, about 6 plump ones (this of course, can be increased to your, and my, liking)

  1. Mix the melted butter, sugar, vanilla and salt, then add flour until blended. Lay over 91/2 inch tart part.
  2. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until puffy and golden.
  3. To make filling: bring half-an-half and sugar to a simmer. Add in chocolate, remove from heat, and stir until melted.
  4. When crusts are ready, remove from oven and turn off. Pour in filling and place tart back in the turned off oven for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Take out, sprinkle generously with berries and cool. (Serve this with some homemade whipped cream!)

Strawberry Shortcake ‘Parfait’

Oven Preheat: 450°

For the Cake (this is my recipe, more or less cut in half to make less cake)

  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk

For the Strawberries

  • 6 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar

For the Whipped Cream

  • 16 oz whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  1. Stir together first 3 ingredients of the cake. Cut in butter until mixture is made up of coarse crumbs.
  2. Combine egg and milk and then add to flour mixture to moisten. Pour mix into a greased 8X8 baking pan. Bake 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  3. Toss sliced strawberries with sugar and let sit.
  4. Combine whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla in bowl and use electric mixer on medium to mix until peaks form, about 5-7 minutes for thick cream.
  5. Cut cooled cake into slices and use some slices to line a serving dish, adding one layer strawberries and cream over it. Add more slices and do the same in layers until all ingredients are used. Cool in refrigerator and serve with a big spoon!

Union Square Cafe

Jim’s book, Leaving Dirty Jersey, came out last Tuesday and it was a hell of a week. On Wednesday I got off of work and ran to sit in the studio for his public access TV show, where thankfully he didn’t faint (although he looked about to). On Thursday he had a reading and book signing in Princeton and on Friday he had another reading and signing in Greenwich Village. To top it off, the past week has been one of bad allergies and asthma for me (my sister said something about the 1-12 allergy index being at an 11.9 this week). However, on our hectic Friday, amidst all the giddiness from a Lexus picking us up for the city, the nervousness for his reading, and my inhaler puffs, Jim and I did manage to sneak in a dinner at Union Square Cafe (thank you Mr. and Mrs. Salant).

Photo taken from

Union Square Cafe

21 East 16th Street

New York, NY 10003


Danny Meyer opened the Union Square Cafe in 1985. Since then, he has opened an eclectic string of eateries, from swanky Gramercy Tavern to everyone’s favorite NYC burger joint, the Shake Shack.

Meyer is not dogmatic about fine dining. Some New York City cafes pride themselves on casual atmosphere with fine food, yet feel as stuffy as their big brother counterparts (I’m thinking of Cafe Boulud touting itself as the comfortable alternative to big brother Daniel). At Union Square Cafe, however, the atmosphere is easily, unpretentiously, casual, and the food is certainly fine. When I learned about Meyer owning the Shake Shack after our meal at USC, it then seemed obvious.

Though I’ve never been to cafe in France, Union Square Cafe played on my American fantasy of what it would be like. The tables are lined with white linen and placed far enough apart to be comfortably loud and giggly over dinner. The decor includes fresh flowers, big sunny windows, and wicker. The waitstaff wear striped shirts and are boisterously friendly (one waiter called Jim and I “the kids”, receiving great laughs from his parents).

The table appetizer was fried calamari with anchovy mayonnaise. Considering that I was eating with three health conscious people and the entire thing was scarfed down in no time, I’ll say it was damned good calamari. The batter was perfectly fried yet not greasy. The squid had none of the dreaded rubberiness. Anchovy mayonnaise instead of marinara sauce was a happy alternative. You only needed a dab of the stuff for a mouth full of salty sea-scented bliss.

Jim’s first dish was veal cheek ravioli. Delicious, but I prefer Babbo’s beef cheek ravioli with less sauce and (maybe) more cheek flavor.

His second dish, the special of Red Snapper, was by far the best fish dish I have ever tasted. It had the full-bodied consistency of a meat dish with the crisp lightness of seafood. How is that possible? I haven’t quite figured it out, but it had something to do with the mashed potato hidden underneath the fish, creating the illusion of weightier bites. Unbelievably good. Please, go to this restaurant, and call ahead to make sure the snapper is on special.

Our desserts, a Tiramisu and a “Chocolate Croquant with Salted Caramel Mousse and Devil’s Food Cake” were delightful. The rum soaked ladyfingers of the Tiramisu were sweet, moist, mouthwatering. I should have read the menu however, when ordering the chocolate croquant. Salted? Yes, salted. Big crystals of sea salt throughout the tower of devil’s food cake and caramel brittle. I’m guessing it’s an acquired taste.

I highly recommend the Union Square Cafe to anyone who has something to celebrate but doesn’t want to sit through the stuffiness of most fine dining establishments. Go sit at this cafe, have a drink, a few belly laughs, and order the snapper.


The fact that you enjoy something doesn’t mean you should over-indulge. I enjoy the occasional glass of scotch, or the hunk of flour-less chocolate truffle cake, but I don’t have to explain why too much of either could cause problems. This is why my new obsession with crab makes me happy. There is no reason not to indulge in all the crab I can get my claws on. Other than the fact I’ll go broke (at the supermarket yesterday, a pound of jumbo lump was 34. freaking 99), crab will do nothing but good for me, especially when prepared with loads of veggies in a scrumptious, dinner sized, salad.

This crab salad recipe is adapted from Bon Appétit, August 1995, made into dinner proportions and some ingredients are tweaked to my liking. I was wary of it at first, but since I told Jim to print out a crab salad recipe and didn’t bother to check what he had chosen until we were already at the supermarket, I gave it a try–and I am so glad I did. This crab salad was DELICIOUS!

Crab Salad

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 cup chopped tart green apple
    (such as Granny Smith)
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped seeded red bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped seeded green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 pound crabmeat, drained well, picked over
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh chives


  • 4 small heirloom tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Pinch of ground hot chili pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

2 heads Belgian endive, trimmed, separated into spears
Chopped fresh chives

For Crab Salad

  1. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and ginger and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes. Add apple, zucchini, both bell peppers and carrot and sauté until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature.
  2. Mix crabmeat, mayonnaise, 4 tablespoons chopped chives. Add sautéd vegetables in large bowl to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

For Sauce:

  1. Combine tomatoes, cilantro, vinegar, garlic and cayenne in blender and puree until almost smooth. Gradually add oil and blend until sauce is thick. Transfer to medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Arrange endive spears on large platter, tips toward platter edge. Spoon crab salad into center of platter. Drizzle sauce over endive. Garnish salad with chopped fresh chives and serve.

I used natural pasteurized canned crab. To eliminate some of the canned taste that I don’t like, I washed the crab a few times before using. Canned crab isn’t as oceany fresh as the real stuff, but because of all the vegetables, apple, and herbs in this recipe, it really doesn’t make a difference. I haven’t had much luck anyway, in finding fresh already extracted crab meat anywhere. Ohh, how I wish I lived by the sea…

A Weekend (and a Monday) of Good Food.

Friday night began with some great food when Jim and I had dinner at Hamilton’s Grill Room in Lambertville, NJ. I’ve eaten there a few times and have always been happy with my meals. The website and awarding reviews (which hang framed amid contemporary art on the walls) credit Hamilton’s for its Mediterranean food, though other than the abundance of olives in some dishes, the place and food is not obviously Mediterranean. You can watch your dinner grilled from the bar, and one of the grill guys even looks like John Malkovich, so I think the place is pretty cool

Our first course was juicy cantaloupe, ripe and sweet, with prosciutto. You had to wrap the prosciutto around the cantaloupe yourself, so it was kind of messy. There wasn’t quite enough meat for the big slice of cantaloupe, but it was very tasty.

For the main course, I had one of the best crab cakes I’ve ever tasted and Jim had a very tender rack of lamb. The crab cake contained chunks of meaty avocado and was accompanied by a creamy green sauce. I didn’t even have time to take a picture before the whole thing was demolished. The restaurant is BYO, and I brought my favorite, Unibroue beer, which led to some drunken philosophizing across the river in New Hope, PA and some very junk-foodie nachos at 1 AM.

Saturday night‘s late-night dinner was at DB Bistro Moderne, Daniel Boulud’s cafe near Broadway. We ate at 10pm, after going to see Vanessa Redgrave in The Year of Magical Thinking (a one-woman 90 minute show in which she was AMAZING), though we wouldn’t have gotten an earlier reservation for a Saturday night if we had tried. The stand-out dishes of the night were the pizza-like appetizer of Fromage Blanc, Bacon, Onions, (I don’t have a picture of this one, but it was pretty unimpressive looking compared to its awe-inspiring taste) my crab salad and Jim’s DB Bistro’s famous burger.

My crab salad (it seems crab was a favorite of mine this weekend) was a wonderful and light mixture of crab, sprouts, tomatoes and grainy mustard. The mustard sauce that accompanied was delicious and tangy, and different than the usual crab sauce. The dish went so perfectly with my “bitter frenchie” cocktail (cranberry, lime and grapefruit juices) that I could hardly believe it. The cocktail is simply meant to be with that dish.

Jim announce his burger as “The Best Burger I have ever eaten.” It sure was a sight to behold. Sirloin burger filled with braised short ribs, with foie gras and black truffle on top, it was almost too much for me but perfect for Jim’s taste. The parmesan bun was crisp and cheesy and strong mustard flavors cut through the richness. Served with crunchy fried and a side of ketchup, mustard and mayo in almost laughably decorative dishes, the meal was fantastic.

Sunday at my parent’s house consisted of me and my mom wolfing down an entire 12-serving package of Trader Joe’s 3 layer hummus and sesame chips, and then a delectable dinner my dad made of pork tenderloin with a green chili marinade and green beans and salad. Sadly, no pictures, but it was delicious!

Last night, I decided to try my hand at stir fry. My stomach had been in knots all day (stress at work, allergies, etc.) and, for some reason, the only food that called out to me was stir-fry. I went over to Whole Foods and bought some snow peas, a head of bok choy, bean sprouts, mushrooms, wide rice noodles, cilantro and green onions. We had a fresh filet mignon from the local butcher in the fridge, along with some chicken thighs, so I sliced them up for the wok. What came out was a very nice and simple stir-fry. All of the greens helped my stomach, and it was light enough to feel like health food. I think it will become a week-night staple–despite all the chopping, there’s something sublimely simple about creating a whole dinner out of one pot.

Filet Mignon Stir-Fry

  • 1 lb chicken thighs, sliced
  • 1 medium sized filet mignon, in thick slices
  • 1 head of bok choy, shredded
  • 1 small vidalia onion, diced
  • 4 oz. wild mushroom mix, sliced
  • 1 loose cup of snap peas
  • 5 cups mung bean sprouts
  • 3 tbsp. chopped green onion
  • 3 tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbsp. corn oil
  • 4 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp dark sesame oil
  • 1/2 pound wide rice noodles (ho fun)
  1. Mix chicken and steak in medium bowl with 2 tbsp. oyster sauce and 1 tsbp. sesame oil. Let sit while you get other ingredients chopped and prepped.
  2. Coat wok with oil over med-high heat. Add in meat and cook a few minutes, until chicken is almost (not completely) opaque. Put meat back into bowl.
  3. Add remaining oil and put mushrooms and vidalia onion in the wok. Heat until onions are translucent and mushrooms have wilted. Add in snow peas and cook for 5-10 more minutes.
  4. Add in bok choy and cook until wilted. Next add bean sprouts and remaining oyster sauce and sesame oil (more if preferred).
  5. Add about 1/2 cup of water to mixture and add in rice noodles. Cook a few minutes and then add the meat back in. Cover and let cook until noodles are tender.
  6. Serve topped with cilantro and chopped onion.

Creamy Polenta

I forgot my camera at my parents’ place after my sister’s wedding (which shows how much of a hangover I had), so sadly, here’s a recipe with no pictures. And trust me, the pictures would have been splendid, because bright yellow polenta compliments the dark, purplish mushrooms beautifully. I guess I have an excuse to make this again once I get the camera back!

  • 1 Cup quick-cooking polenta
  • 1 Cup heavy cream
  • 1 Cup chicken stock
  • 2 Cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup diced shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 lb. mushrooms (portobello & shitake work well), thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped chives
  • 1 sprig thyme, leave left on branch
  1. Heat butter in a large skillet over med-high heat. Add chopped shallots and two cloves of the garlic, chopped.
  2. After 5 minutes or so, add mushrooms (in batched if you pan is not large enough). Saute until soft and mouth-wateringly fragrant. You may feel like you need to add more butter at first, but hold out because the mushrooms will release water as they cook down.
  3. Pour cream, stock, and milk into a pot and drop in the sprig of thyme and a whole clove of garlic. Bring to a boil.
  4. Once liquid begins to boil, remove from heat and fish out thyme and garlic to discard. Let sit and cool for a few minutes before putting pot back on heat and bringing to a simmer.
  5. Add in polenta, whisking continuously (unless you have biceps the size of balloons, you want to use quick-cooking polenta) for about 5 minutes or until the polenta is thick and get all caught up in your whisk.
  6. Switch to using a fork to stir. Add in mushrooms and chives and mix together. Salt generously and pepper lightly. Take a few quick bites without anyone noticing, then serve with a great big serving spoon.

This polenta is sublime with spicy sausage on the side. One of my favorite dinners. Enjoy!