Posts filed under ‘American’
There is something to be said about the weather and how it changes not only our mood, but the way we think about life, love, career, family, etc. The fall makes us all regress and contemplate our goals and aspirations. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to pay for school after graduating. I could continue to work at my current day job full-time and free lance as a food stylist on the weekends so I’d be able to pay my tuition within the next three to four years, but it’s not really feasible. There may be a limited amount of opportunity for free lance work on weekends and the bulk of the work could be during the week. This probably means moving back to Brooklyn and/or have a roommate or two will have to be an option. I wouldn’t mind being back in Brooklyn, but hopefully this won’t involve the latter…a roommate or two. At the moment, I’m living in the LES, but just like any apartment in NYC, it has it’s pros and cons. There are times when I have Brooklyn nostalgia. I still love strolling around Williamsburg and Greenpoint on the weekends. My friends and I had our usual brunch spot at Enid’s. They had salmon cakes that were to die for, but they have been known to make some mean bloody marys. The rent is climbing in this part of Brooklyn though, so the probability of saving on rent is slim to none, and living further into Brooklyn would make me crazy just because of the commute. My only other option would be to possibly bartend on my days off. I’ve heard it can be a lucrative job even as part time. This may be the best option. We’ll have to wait and see what happens when I graduate from FCI.
Other things on the horizon is a possible volunteer opportunity with NYC’s greenmarkets. This would definitely be exciting only because I want to learn more about the ins and outs of the food community. I’m going in for training this week and am crossing my fingers for any openings on the weekends. Finding volunteer opportunities is as challenging as finding a full time job it seems.
Several weeks ago, I had a chance to experience the fried chicken dinner at Momofuku. I have to say though, it wasn’t really impressive. The dry battered chicken portion was burnt and way too salty. The Korean style portion was good, but I feel that Bon Chon Chicken does a much better job. I have to give David Chang props for condiments however. The Chinese pancakes, with four different sauces and a side of fresh veggies and herbs were a great compliment, but if you screw up the main component of the dish, which in this case happens to be the fried chicken, then it becomes a “why bother” meal. I also ordered the pork buns and had to see for myself what all the hype was. This also became a disappointment because the sauce drizzled in the pork bun was way too salty. This interfered with the delicacy of the pork. I’m hesitatnt to come back for the ramen because I’ve heard the broth is salty as well. My recommendation would have to be Ippudo, also located in the East Village. The ramen was perfect. From the well balanced broth to the texture of the noodles, this was done masterfully. The pork buns were amazing as well. They cooked the pork a bit differently, but everything about it was amazing.
The last day of the edible garden in the Bronx’s botanical garden was a couple of weeks ago. Lidia Bastianich and Daisy Martinez both had cooking demos that day. They are as real as they get and were a delight to watch in person. The garden is enormous and only had two hours to explore. The conservatory and surrounding areas were beautiful. They grew everything from chili peppers to grapefruit and pineapples. It’s definitely a trip worth going back to next year when everything will be in bloom again.
For any of you who love free art as much as I do, there are a few exhibitions well worth noting. The Highline (that runs along the west side on 10th Ave from 23rd st down to 16th st.) is a sight to see! I would have to say the best time to go is in the spring because everything that was green and lush is now turning yellow and brown for the fall. Next time, I will remember to bring the suntan lotion because it beats going to central park for a bit of tanning.
Another notable exhibit (past already) was Kehinde Wiley’s Black Light at the Deitch Project gallery on Grand St. I’m a sucker for urban art.
The Woodward Gallery on Broome St. also has a great showing, which consists a few of Keith Haring’s artwork.
The best thing about all of this? One word: FREE!
Now that fall is here, I’m excited to be cooking a lot more. I can use my oven w/o having to turn on the air conditioner. Instead, it can be used to warm up the apartment. This week’s recipe is simple as always and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. This is my version of an open face egg scramble.
1 tbs oil
1 bunch scallions (diced)
Two slices of tomato
Whole wheat english muffin (toasted)
2 slices of cheddar cheese (none of the fake stuff such as Kraft singles)
Heat oil in omelet pan over med-high heat. Add scallions. Cook for about 3-4 minutes and add beaten eggs already seasoned with salt and pepper. Scramble eggs over medium low heat. Do not over cook. Toast english muffins and add cheese on each muffin. Then top with a slice of tomato and then egg/scallion mixture. Sometimes I also like to drizzle a bit of Sriracha sauce on top just for a little added heat and garlic flavor.
It’s been about a month since I last wrote a recipe entry. I’ve been thinking a lot about the purpose and use of this blog for quite some time now, which can easily be translated as “writer’s block”. Little to my knowledge and with a dash of naivety, it’s been difficult to come up with a story behind each recipe. When I first started this blog, my intentions were to write a story that inspired my recipes and to submit one each week. Hence, the title. As the weeks breezed by ever so rapidly over the month of June, there were a few reasons for the writer’s block.
1. allowing myself to think there is nothing interesting or important enough to share with readers
2. lacking interest in writing; although still active in the cooking and photography part of the process
3. starting to realize where my main interests lie (cooking/photography); not necessarily writing [if I no longer have any interest in writing, should I remove this blog altogether?]
I’ve also had culinary school on my mind and have registered to tour the FCI (The French Culinary Institute) and ICE (Institute of Culinary Education) in a couple of weeks. The FCI would be ideal because Jacques Pepin has been my on-screen mentor for many years. He and Jacques Torres developed the culinary program at FCI. So it must be good! However, the program does not offer the kind of flexible scheduling I need in order to maintain a 50 hour work week. Plus tuition is $40,000! I will most likely be taking the $30,000/9 month culinary plunge at ICE this fall instead. Thank goodness they offer flexible course schedules that take place 9am-5pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Not only does the thought of being $30,000 in debt frighten me, but the fact that my free time will ultimately be limited. I just have to keep reminding myself that it will only be for 9 months. I am going to recruit my best friend, Brian for strength and support. If he can somehow manage 4 years of working and maintaining a 4.0 GPA in college, then I can too, damn it! The realization of becoming a chef hit me last night (in a positive way) and the thought of having a career in the culinary world felt really satisfying. This may sound a bit surprising, but I’m embarrassed at times when I tell people (especially family members) what I do for a living. Coming from a family with a medical background, particularly in nursing. I haven’t felt like I’ve succeeded in life and I’m already 31 years old. I’m now more ready than ever to take the bull by the horns and go for the ride no matter how bumpy it may be. Another fear I have is not being able to live comfortably as I have been for the past 6 years. This is the main reason why I’ve committed myself to an administrative field. I know how it feels to be poor/unemployed. I know how it feels to live off of ramen, iceberg lettuce, and one egg a day. I know how it feels to not make rent for months at a time and to ask mom for help in desparate situations like these. And I know all too well how it feels to be delinquent on $15,000 in credit card debt. My goal since those first two extremely rough years of living in New York is to never be in debt again. I was able to wipe my slate clean after a couple of years by maintaining a job at a corporate insurance firm. Since then, I haven’t had much luck attaining a permanent position with any firm, yet I’ve somehow managed to remain debt-free. Long story short: to be $30,000 in debt can be quite overwhelming especially if it’s only for 9 months of school.
I’ve signed up for a couple more culinary recreational courses at the Whole Foods Culinary Center on Bowery coming August. My experience with the knife skills class last month really inpired me to take the leap into culinary school. Everything about it seemed so natural. Now I don’t mind, in fact, I love cutting and prepping vegetables whenever I can. It allows me to perfect and hone (no pun intended) the foundation to cooking.
This week’s beet soup recipe is perfect for practicing your knife skills because of the mirepoix that becomes the basis for the soup. This recipe also comes from a cooking class “gone awry” taken several months back. It was taken through a meet up group a co-worker had introduced me to. The whole experience turned out to be a disaster. The kitchen location changed at the last minute (day before event) to a comedy club kitchen. We walked in and their was an electric stove, no mixing bowls, and porn magazines out in the open. I couldn’t believe my eyes! My friend, Lisa, on the other hand,whom I met at the aforementioned insurance firm, thought otherwise. She has such a kind heart, that she went along with punches and never complained one bit about the whole experience. The bathrooms smelled like piss and there was no soap to wash our hands with. From that moment on, I knew it was going to be a very interesting day. We managed to mix our salad dressing in an old plastic spice container and we somehow managed to cook the soup (had no luck bringing it to a boil by the way) on the electric stove. The wild rice the “chef” made earlier that day was horrific. There’s nothing worse than eating cold half-cooked wild rice. I can’t believe she calls herself a natural health chef. Everything was vegan, gluten-free, and pretty much tasteless. I could see how this would become every carnivores nightmare. I used to be a vegetarian for 7 years and would cook food that was a lot more creative and appetizing than this. Cooking classes like this gave vegans a bad rep. However, I could see where she was trying to go with the soup, which is why I wanted to experiment with it and make it my own. Later that day, after we chewed and swallowed, the “chef” started to talk about the reason (other than her father’s heart disease related death) why she wanted to become a natural food chef. She made a couple book references that inspired her to eat and cook healthy as part of her lifestyle. The fact that I love reading how food affects people and their environment, peaked my interest. After researching tirelessly on Amazon.com that very night, I then realized she gave us the wrong name of the author for the book she recommended to us! I cursed under my breath and thought about how my Saturday and $65 all went down the drain unforgivingly. Lesson learned: only take cooking classes via Whole Foods going forward.
2 cans chicken stock
1 can water
1 red beet (halved/cut into wedges)
1 yellow beet (halved/cut into wedges)
1 peeled red potato (halved/cut into wedges)
1 medium rhudabaga (halved/cut into wedges)
1/2 cup chopped dill
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt/Freshly ground black pepper
Follow mirepoix cooking instructions and pour in liquids. Add root vegetables and bay leaves. Cook for about 30 minutes until vegetables are tender. Season w/ salt and pepper if needed. Add dill at the last minute before serving.
I decided to prepare dinner ahead of time before meeting my friend, Yahayra for brunch today. Yahayra and I met at a firm almost 4 years ago when I was trying to launch a career into the paralegal world. We’ve kept in touch despite our busy schedules, by seeing each other at least once a month to catch up. She always cracks me up because of her no bull-shit attitude on life. I’ve always admired her strength for not taking crap from people. Rule #1 (if you want to move to NY): build a hard outer shell unless, you want to be ripped to shreds. I told her I had made an amazing chicken dish for dinner, and gave her the recipe verbally since it was rather simple to make. I hope it turned out just as well for her.
So for dinner tonight, the recipe turned out to be a perfect example of why I love to cook. I had a moment of true satisfaction after tasting the end result. I think the secret ingredient is the dash of Maggi I put into the sauce. It adds a nice depth of richness that makes the dish complete. Just something I learned from cooking with the family numerous times.
2 chicken breasts (bone-in/skin-on)
2 tsp butter
1/2 white onion (1-in slices)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 pinch of baking soda
1 pinch of sugar
1 tsp of Maggi (soy sauce may be used as substitution)
2 cups of white wine (I used Pinot Grigio from Spain. Tip: never use cooking wine)
1 carton of small portobello mushrooms (quartered)
1 bunch of broccoli rabe (cut into 1-in pieces)
1 cup of cooked jasmine rice
2 cloves of garlic
1 bay leaf (optional)
Preheat oven 375 degrees. Toss white onion slices with olive oil and place into baking pan for the chicken. Place chicken in pan as well. Spread 1 tsp of butter onto each chicken breast. Sprinkle w/ salt and pepper. Bake chicken for about 20 minutes. Place pan in broiler for 3 minutes to brown. Place chicken onto separate dish (keep in oven to remain warm, but turn off oven) and transfer juice and onions to a skillet in order to make white wine sauce. Onions can be removed for the sauce depending on personal preference. On high heat, add white wine and bay leaf, stir w/ wooden spoon, and reduce until you cannot smell any alcohol left in the skillet. Add garlic, mushrooms, maggi, and sugar. Freshly ground black pepper is a nice addition, but not necessary. Keep stirring until the sauce is thick enough to coat the wooden spoon. Remove from heat.
In a large soup pot, add pinch of salt and baking soda to boiling water. Baking soda will help keep the broccoli rabe a vibrant green and prevent it from turning brown. Cook broccoli rabe until tender (5 minutes). Then add to ice water in order to stop the cooking process. Place in collander to strain after cooled.
Place cooked rice onto warm plate and add white wine sauce over rice. Add roasted chicken and broccoli rabe on the side.
I thought about making a side of honey glazed baby carrots, but had left over rice in the fridge, so I decided to opt out of the carrots. Maybe, next time…
My best friend was having brunch at her place in Brooklyn Saturday morning and I agreed to bring something healthy to balance out the meat and carbs (Ashley’s succulent baked chicken wings, Kristen’s “crack” mashed potatoes, and Cresha’s flaky, yet moist biscuits, nicely browned sausage links, and bad ass mimosas) we were about to inhale before hitting the Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.
I was at my favorite grocery destination in the Lower East Side (The Essex Street Market) the night before and discovered ricotta salata in the dairy case. In addition to this mysterious block of cheese, I also bought endive and bibb lettuce. I already had a bag of baby spinach in the fridge at home so I thought how refreshing it would be to create my own “mixed greens”. I also had an heirloom tomato and a bottle of ready-made dressing at home in order to create the perfect salad.
The Food Network peaked my interest after watching a couple of shows that incorporated ricotta salata, but I hesitated at first since there was a presumption of having a sharp cheese flavor. It turned out to be pleasantly mild however, with a feta-like texture.
Candied walnuts or pecans are a great addition to the recipe below. Any mild flavored ingredient such as beets would work great with a salad that contains ricotta salata. Anything pungent such as sliced red onions or green olives may overpower the subtleties of the dish.
1 head bibb lettuce
1/2 cup crumbled ricotta salata
1 medium ripe vine or heirloom tomato (4 wedges)
Handful baby spinach
1/2 head endive (sliced)
Freshly ground black pepper
Favorite dressing – mine happens to be Newman’s Own Olive Oil & Vinegar
Toss various salad greens with dressing and add tomato wedges and ricotta salata. Grind fresh black pepper to taste.
One of the best things about New York City is the variety of food you can get at any given time within walking distance. With so many people always on-the-go, the food culture here is largely dependent upon convenient store/delis. It’s a place where one can buy magazines, beer/alcohol, and a sandwich all in one location. I’m not sure how we would survive without such places. We may not have a 7-Eleven or Target close by, but we do have the best breakfast sandwiches known to man. The most basic is the “egg and cheese on a roll”. This is not just any roll though. The bread is light/airy, yet chewy at the same time. Some believe it may be the New York water that the bakers use in the dough that makes it so distinctive.
I love a little bacon added because of the textural difference and balance of flavor it gives to the already soft and moist egg and cheese on a roll. And since I’ve been trying to budget just like everyone else during this time in the economy, I decided to make my own. This is a rather self-explanatory recipe that anyone can make. I was also thinking how chopped chives would be great to scramble the eggs with (or any fresh herbs for that matter).
1 Roll (cut in half)
1 slice of American cheese
1 slice of tomato
1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning (can substitute w/ chives or any fresh herb)
2 slices of bacon
1 tbsp of butter
Slice roll in half. Whisk egg , italian seasoning (or fresh herb), and s/p together before cooking. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat and scramble egg misture until well done, yet still soft (do not overcook). Layer on scrambled eggs, then slice of cheese, and then tomato slice on top of cheese. Use same skillet to cook bacon until well done. Place bacon onto a plate with paper towel to drain excess grease. After a minute, layer bacon on top of tomato. Then bring sandwich together. Place a dollop of ketchup on side of plate for dipping sandwich (optional).