Thursday, August 30, 2012

Alice Waters' Grilled Ratatouille

The first time I had this meal was in my "happy place"...aka Hilton Head Island, where my family has been vacationing since I was an infant. 

Hilton Head is literally my favorite place to visit, most likely because I have so many good memories. For those of you who have never visited, Hilton Head is an island off the coast of South Carolina, only about an hour away from Savannah, Georgia. That, for any travel bugs, is about a 10 hour drive from where I grew up. For you golf gurus, Hilton Head is where the Heritage golf tournament takes place...that is, the course that ends with an amazing view of the Harbor Town lighthouse.



And, as I said, my parents have been taking my brother and I down there since we were babies. I have numerous pictures of me in a baby bjorn as an infant, testing out the ocean water with my dad holding me up (clearly walking wasn't my strong suit at that point) and in the back of my dad's bike. Biking is the best way to get around HHI--there are bike paths that criss cross almost the entire island.

Hilton Head is where my obsession with cooking started. When we were little kids, each week-long vacation we took was really considered my mum's vacation--her vacation from doing two little kids laundry, her vacation from schlepping us to practices and classes, and her vacation from cooking dinner for four every single night. So one night during each week's vacation, my brother and I would have a night that it was our responsibility to cook.

My brother always cooked Mexican. In our middle school, we had "cycle" where, for a month each school year, we had a period where we took a different class. One month we'd have cooking, one month sewing, one month wood shop, etc. Well my brother is two years older than me, so he experienced many more cooking cycles than I did, and had cornered the market on fajitas and Mexican lasagna.

Me on the other hand? I was little. I hadn't had cooking. I wasn't even allowed to put things in the oven and I definitely wasn't allowed near a sharp knife. But I did love pizza. Enter...Boboli pizza crust, refrigerated pizza sauce and grated mozzarella. My specialty? The pizza bar. 

Now don't get me wrong, my brother and I were not cooking a dinner for four unchaperoned. That was my dad's job. It was also my dad's job to grill the other five nights of our vacation. But for one night each, my brother and I got hours of undivided attention from our dad where we would get messy and pretend to know what we were doing and did I mention get messy? Most importantly, we each got time with our dad without our sibling or even our mother interrupting.

This tradition of splitting up the cooking on vacation has stuck around. A few years ago, we took a whole family vacation to Hilton Head the day after Christmas to spend New Year's Eve there--my parents, my brother and his girlfriend, me and my current boyfriend. We biked, we shopped (after Christmas sales, duh!), we visited our favorite spots (Harbor Town, Shelter Cove), we danced the night away on NYC and, of course, we cooked. A lot. 

Each couple was given our own nights to cook. This wonderful recipe was introduced to me by my brother and his girlfriend (a fellow Alice Waters obsessee), because it involves minimal hands on work with maximum flavor. Ever since, it has been on of my favorite recipes to make during the summer...or, if you're lucky enough to be in Hilton Head in December, during the winter.

The recipe is adapted from Alice Waters, the pioneer of Californian cuisine, organic food and the local food movements. Commonly called the "mother of American food" and whose restaurant. Chez Panisse, is consistently ranked in the World's 50 Best Restaurants. The recipe can be found in her absolutely AMAZING (I could not recommend it more) cookbook The Art of Simple Food

Get it. And make this recipe. And all of the other recipes in the book. You'll thank me.


Alice Waters' Grilled Vegetable Ratatouille



Ingredients

One large eggplant, or two small
Two zucchini
Two summer squash
Two red peppers
One large onion
Four cloves of garlic
Two tomatoes
Basil

Directions

1. Slice your vegetables (except for the tomatoes) into pieces that will fit on the grill without dropping down. Brush all sides with oil.



2. Place on the grill until cooked through and charred slightly (this will give it that great smoky flavor).



3. While the vegetables are grilled, mince your garlic cloves. In a large pot (I used a pasta one) heat oil over medium-high heat and saute the garlic. Chop your tomatoes and basil and add to the pot. Let the tomatoes start sweating so they release their juices.



4. When the rest of the veggies come off the grill, chop into bite size pieces and add to the pot. Cook the veggies for about 15 minutes more, stirring periodically, so that they combine.


Then serve! I've eaten this as a main, over jasmine rice, with crusty grilled french bread, as the basis for a taco...literally any way you could imagine. And, even better, it is absolutely amazing reheated! This is one of the dinners I make on Sundays during the summer (I do Alice Waters' regular ratatouille, in which the veggies roast, in the summer) and eat throughout the week as lunch or as my veggie side with dinner. 



Friendly warning...you will become obsessed.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Grilled Shrimp Gremolata with Angel Hair

Yes, you read that title correctly...the angel hair pasta was, indeed, grilled. Which is, I think it is safe to say, the first time anyone in my family has ever done that. I mean, it was boiled first, but seriously--how many people put pasta on the grill? Trendsetter right here. Grilled pasta, you heard it here first!

This weekend my little cousin, who is not in fact that little, left for her first year at college. Damn I miss those days. Not that I don't enjoy living and working in New York, but I don't think anyone can say that they don't miss college, where the major decision consists of what beer to buy and which frat party to go to first (cause obviously you were going to multiple.) Now my major decisions consist of work questions that could potentially waste hundreds OF thousands of dollars for clients and life questions that could potentially waste hundreds OR thousands of dollars for me (and I must say, the second one is much more stressful than the first, even if a few zeros are missing off the end.) 

Most of my professors were adjunct profs, so I often had one three hour class a week for courses that started at 6:00 p.m...meaning I had all day to do whatever I wanted, attend class for three hours and go to a bar. It was the life.

Seriously, it was. No waking up at 6:00 a.m. to fit in a quick gym session before heading to work for my standing 8:30 a.m. meeting. No deciding if working late means I should order a fattening meal to the office or wait until I can go home to cook a healthy meal.  And no stressing, like I have been this week, about whether my new bedspread matches the rug I just bought (yes, I am redecorating my apartment! And I'm very excited about it)

Anyway, those were the good old days. However, I found a career I feel fulfilled in and a hobby (Sea Salt n Pepa) that I absolutely love. And, when I'm not looking back with rose-colored glasses, I was also 100% ready to graduate my senior year and move on to real life. 

Plus, I went to school in Nashville and there wasn't a beach within a thousand miles. And you know how I feel about my beach time...

Grilled Shrimp Gremolata with Angel Hair



Ingredients

1 large bunch Italian parsley
1 large bunch basil
4 cloves garlic
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 lb+ peeled and deveined shrimp ( I made the mistake of getting shrimp with the veins in and MAN was that awful to do)
2 cartons of cherry tomatoes
1 box of angel hair
Parmesan cheese

Directions

1. In a food processor, combine parsley, basil, garlic and olive oil. The mixture should be thicker than basil. Smear the mixture on the shrimp and marinate for about an hour.



2. Create individual "baking dishes" with tin foil. Put a pile of marinated shrimp in the center of each and add additional olive oil. Put on the grill on medium-high and begin to cook the shrimp.

3. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil and cook the angel hair to very al dente (about a minute less than you normally would for al dente). 



4. Once the shrimp has started cooking, throw a handful of cherry tomatoes into each. 

5. After the tomatoes have had time to cook, add your angel hair to the "baking dishes". Mix the whole dish together, mashing the tomatoes so their juices run. Add more olive oil, as needed, to create a sauce.



6. Serve the individual dishes on plates (less clean up!) and add a bit of grated parmesan to the top. Enjoy!



Monday, August 27, 2012

Classic Roast Chicken


classic [klas-ik]
adjective
1. of the first or highest quality, class or rank
2. serving as a standard, model or guide

What does a classic recipe mean to you? I think, like the definition above, that "classic recipes" for me suggest two things. 

The first is, of course, the recipes that my family has made since I was little. The ones that, when I'm sick, I call my mum and beg her to send to me. The ones that are often sitting in my freezer for that day I come home from work and just do not feel like cooking. Think: Freddi's meatballs, pot roast and mac and cheese; my dad's meatloaf and pasta salad (even though the second comes out of a box); my grandmother's fried chicken and veal. Those classic, comfort foods that remind you of your childhood no matter how fancy someone makes them (lobster and truffle mac and cheese anyone?)

But I also think of the classics, the standard meals that exist in every culture...especially those that my family never really got in to. The first of which, when I think about it, is a perfect roasted chicken. My fam never really made roast chicken; the closest we got was picking up a rotisserie chicken when we were running late, and half of that went to our dog! 

So when I got really in to cooking, one of the recipes I wanted to master was a classic roast chicken, something that, in a family of excellent chefs, I could really corner the market in. This recipe is simple and straightforward yet mouth-wateringly delicious--I literally start drooling from the delicious smells.


Classic Roast Chicken



Ingredients

1 whole roasting chicken, about 4 lbs.
6 yukon gold potatoes, cut into chunks
1 onion, cut into chunks
4 carrots, peeled and cut
1 lemon, pricked numerous times with a knife
1 small bunch of fresh thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter, melted

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425F.



2. Arrange the potatoes, onion and carrots in a baking or roasting dish. Toss with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the preheated oven and roast for 15 minutes.



3. Meanwhile, rinse the inside and outside of the raw chicken under cool water; pat dry. Stuff the cavity with the pricked lemon and thyme and tie the legs together using kitchen twine (DO NOT use other twine, as it can be treated and make you super sick.)



4. After the vegetables have roasted for 15 minutes, place the chicken, breast side up (the tied together legs should be up) on top of the veggies. Brush the chicken skin with the butter and season with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken until golden brown and juices run clear--about 18 minutes a pound. Remove from oven, carve and serve.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Meal Planning



Not the greatest week last week-I caught a lovely virus from one of my friends and was completely out of it Monday and Tuesday. All I can say is...so.not.cute. And, as many people do, I ate a TON of comfort food. Including, but not limited to, eggplant rollatini, spaghetti and meatballs, etc. You know, heavy food that is harder to get sick from. Cute right?

Good news is twofold--prior to the stomach bug, I had an absolutely lovely weekend with two of my best friends. We went to the beach, went to a couple of bars, had some absolutely delicious (and fattening) brunches (including one place I will be reviewing later...AFTER labor day--per my mother's request--so more people don't clog up the restaurnat!). It was a pretty perfect weekend and hopefully the three of us will get to repeat.

Part 2? I lost six pounds from some pretty icky side effects of the virus. Which, to me, means my diet was jumpstarted. So I'm definitely keeping with a health food kick and hopefully I can keep the weight off (healthfully, obviously) and even potentially even lose more! 

Wish me luck!

Monday: crab-stuffed salmon with asparagus and corn

Tuesday: banana leaf-wrapped coconut cilantro salmon (from FreshDirect)

Wednesday:  apricot chicken wings (yep, you read that correctly)

Thursday: sausage, peppers and onions

Friday: Electric Zoo festival!

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend and a great Labor Day!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Soy-Lime Glazed Salmon with Julienned Veggies

In September I will be visiting San Francisco for the first time and I am super excited! San Fran is my mum's absolute favorite city and my brother and his girlfriend were there a few weeks ago for a wedding and also adored it. Plus I mean...that is where Full House, the hands down best show ever, was filmed so it must be absolutely amazing.

I've already started looking for restaurants to try while we're there. My number one was Chez Panisse, but sadly we will not have a car and thus can't drive to Berkeley (next time, fo' sho'). Instead I hopefully see Hubert Keller's restaurant in my future. Can you say "yummm"?

Anyway, when discussion potential options with my travel partner, aka my aunt, she informed me of a very important prerequisite for any restaurant we may go to...it MUST offer salmon. Not exactly a deal breaker for me, as you can see from the numerous recipes featuring salmon on this site. I mean, I love me some salmon.

However, I am apparently in for quite a treat. Due to budget constraints (aka I'm 24 and living in Manhattan...aka I is poor), I usually stick to farm-raised Atlantic salmon. San Fran, being in the Northwest, is well-known for healthy, Californian cuisine, including wild Alaskan salmon. You know, the goooood kind. Obviously we will be consuming this in massive quantities.

The only problem is...I don't go to San Fran until late September. And I'm having a craving for salmon now!

So I made this amazingly simple, fast recipe (minus marinating, it only takes about 20 minutes!) featuring salmon (farm raised, sadly. Rent, you kill me). At least it will hold me over until my trip!


Soy-Lime Glazed Salmon with Julienned Vegetables




Ingredients:

4 oz. fillet of salmon for each person
1 summer squash
1 zucchini
Soy sauce
2 limes
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Directions:



1. Create your marinade--put the salmon in a plastic bag and add soy sauce, until covered. Cut one lime in half and juice into the bag. Slice the other lime into thin strips and place on top of the salmon (the opposite of the skin side). Marinate for 20-30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 450F.

2. Meanwhile, julienne your veggies. Translation--cut your squash and zucchini into matchstick pieces. 



3. Remove the salmon from the bag and place on a tin-foil lined baking dish and place in your preheated oven. Place julienned vegetables on a foil-lined baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and top with salt and pepper. Toss. After the salmon has been in the oven for about 10 minutes, place the veggies in the oven.

4. While the salmon and veggies are cooking, pour the remaining marinade into a sauce pan and place on the stove top over medium-high heat. Bring to boil and reduce by a little more than a third.



5. Serve by putting the veggies on the plate and topping with the salmon. Drizzle the soy-lime glaze over top and enjoy!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Charred Corn Salsa

This weekend, I went to the absolutely amazing Riverpark (Tom Colicchio's newest restaurant) with my aunt for dinner. When we were discussing where we should go, she started by saying that eats basically anything except...well not Greek...and not really Spanish...

Our discussion spurred my own internal dialogue on the kinds of cuisine that I eat. I'm kind of like my aunt...I eat everything...well except Indian. The harder question is...what is my favorite kind of cuisine? I'm pretty much a huge fan of all cuisines. My perpetual favorites are, unsurprisingly if you follow me on Twitter, Japanese (hellooooo sushi!) and Italian (specifically antipasti that includes crispy bread, delish olive oil, hard and soft cheeses, proscuitto, hard salami and olives.)

But besides those two perpetual favorites, I'm kind of like the seasons and my favorite changes periodically. This spring I was absolutely obsessed with Greek food. I could not even begin to explain the amount of money I spent at two of my fave Greek restaurants, Kefi and Periyali. When my friend came back from a Eurotrip that included time in Barcelona and Ibiza, Spanish food was on my menu (still DYING to try Tertulia). I think it is safe to say that I am not turning to the Mexican phase of my year...lately nothing sounds better than a Don Julio margarita, guacamole with blue corn chips followed by an enchilada or burrito. Which reminds me--I need to share the absolute easiest, but, more importantly, delicious recipe for pulled chicken.

Lately, corn salsa has topped every Mexican thing that has passed through my lips. So who am I to miss an opportunity to liven up the flavor of a basic corn salsa by charring it on the grill and throwing in a habanero pepper?

Charred Corn Salsa



Ingredients:

Four ears of corn on the cob
Olive oil
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 habanero pepper, minced
Cilantro
One lime

Directions:

1. Shuck the ears of corn. Place the corn in the microwave for four minutes. Remove from the microwave and let cool slightly. Put olive oil in a small bowl and brush olive oil on all sides. Grill the corn for four more minutes, turning frequently. The corn should start to blister but not burn.

2. Once the corn is cooked, allow to cool so you can handle. Slice the corn off of the cob into a large bowl. Add the chopped bell pepper and red onion to the bowl. Also add the habanero, but ensure that the pepper is minced into small pieces so that each bite has a hint of the spice (if it is in larger pieces, one bite will be super spicy and the next will be mild).

3. Shred your cilantro and combine with the veggies. Cut your lime in half and juice over the bowl. Toss together. Allow the mixture to sit for about 20 minutes so all the flavors blend.

This is amazing on top of tacos, fajitas, burritos, etc. and goes with both vegetarian and meat options. I recommend plopping some delicious guacamole on top also. Enjoy!

3. Add the red bell pepper, orange bell pepper

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday Meal Planning


Lately, meal planning Sunday has taken an ever more important role. With my new job, I also have new hours...generally later, as my new company has a lot of big things coming down the pike (doesn't that sound fancy! PR 101: "Coming down the pike"), my hours get longer. Which makes meal planning, and effective grocery shopping, even more important, because I rarely have the time/inclination to stop at a store on my way home to get things I forgot. 

Thus this list has LITERALLY become my bible (kind of in the sense that 50 Shades of Grey replace the Bible in hotels...) If it is not on my list, it is not made...period. If I forgot something from my list and I realize it, I can stop at a store in the a.m. when I'm heading to work (thanks Trader Joe's for being open so early) or run out at my lunch break, but if I don't recognize I'm missing something well...recipes taste a little different or food gets wasted. And no one likes to waste food they've paid for. At all.

In addition, long hours = little gym time. And that ain't cute on anyone. Thus...healthy food kick (luckily I don't have a live in boyfriend or he would be unnnnhappy). See lots of seafood and veggies.

Monday: mussels steamed in white wine garlic broth with pesto drizzle

Tuesday: soy-orange marinated salmon with asparagus and corn

Wednesday: salmon with strawberry salsa (side veggies: asparagus and corn again...gotta use what I buy!)

Thursday: happy hour with my new coworkers! thus--easy dinner. Italian antipasti (i.e. olives, cheese, roasted peppers and tomatoes. YUM)

Friday: oven-fried flounder with black bean and avocado salsa

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday Quick Pics


Another busy week at my new company! I also had the pleasure of having some of my family come up to the city. My mum, aunt and cousin came on Wednesday for the Yankees game...sadly, the weather was awful and the game didn't even start until 9:00. By that time, we had already eaten dinner around the corner from my apartment and parted ways. 

The next night I went to dinner with my aunt, the only remaining family member in the city, at the amazing Riverpark. Riverpark is the newest restaurant by the always amazing Tom Colicchio, head judge on Top Chef and owner of my favorite restaurant in the city, Craft

Below are some of the random pictures I've snapped lately on my ever-present iPhone.



My new vase that my parents' bought me in Santa Fe! So gorg, and matches my fave flower (tiger lilies, for the record) perfectly!



My dinner two nights this week: NY strip steak, baked potato, roasted asparagus and corn



East coast oysters from Ocean Grill



My new favorite breakfast--whole wheat English muffin topped with almond butter (creamy with sea salt) and a banana



Amazing scallops at Riverpark! Served with corn (obviously), chanterelle mushrooms, tomatoes and bacon




patatas bravas, which a certain individual (who knows who he is) would not shut up about for months. I ATE IT, finally, and I will agree--it was absolutely delish.




fried artichokes. uh...yum.




whenever I'm actually in New York for an entire week I treat myself to flowers...what a pick me up this is when I come home from a long day of work!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bourbon Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Apricots

Want to hear something depressing? Summer is more than halfway over. Labor Day is only a few weekends away. Soon weekends spent on the beach will be replaced by...

oh wait.

Weekends at the beach will be replaced by drinking at fabulous bars on the water, like Boat Basin and the Frying Pan. Since the weather will be cooler, I will no longer sweat just sitting in a chair like I have every time I've gone to my favorite bars down the shore (see The Parker House and Union Landing). Trust me, no one likes sticking to a plastic chair because they are sweating so much. It's just NOT CUTE.

In addition to not sweating through my clothes at a bar, my dad will no longer sweat through his shirts as he stands by a 400 degree grill on a 95 degree day. Not that he would be willing to do anything BUT stand at the grill on a summer weekend. Let's be honest--the reason he likes to be the grillmaster is because he can stand around drinking beer. While he is grilling, he has a tong or other utensil in one hand, and a beer in the other. Which leads to the question...how hard can it be to grill if you literally only use one hand?

I'm not the only one who has noticed this trend that cooking = hard work and grilling = talking and drinking. A couple of weekends ago, my brother came down the shore with his girlfriend and one of his friends and went to a local bar for happy hour. When we were getting ready to head inside from our requisite 5:00 p.m. porch happy hour, I texted him that we were about to start cooking. I kid you not, mere seconds later, my dad's phone beeped...with a text from my brother telling him  "wait for us to start grilling, we want to stand around and drink beer with you."

So basically, while my mother and I slaveeee away in the kitchen, chopping and oiling and marinating, my dad stands outside with his dog and contemplates the meaning of the world. Well, this recipe turns the tables. There is almost nothing to do in the kitchen once your pork is marinating, so ladies...grab a couple of brews, take a break from the kitchen and stand outside and stare at the meat with the men. Once you see the (booze-filled) ease of cooking, you'll be duking it out to decide who mans the grill.

Bourbon-Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Apricots
based on this recipe



Ingredients

Pork tenderloin
1/4 c. bourbon
1/4 cup soy sauce
Spoonful of brown sugar
1 inch ginger root, peeled and chopped
Olive oil

2 apricots
Butter, melted
Brown sugar

Directions:

Pork


1. Two-four hours prior to cooking (post-beach and pre-happy hour?), make your marinade. In a large ziplock bag, combine bourbon, soy sauce, brown sugar and ginger root. Put your pork in the bag and place in the refrigerator.

2. About 30 minutes before you plan to cook, remove the pork from the fridge and allow the meat to come to room temperature.

3. Grill your pork until cooked through (about 15-20 minutes). 



4. Once the pork is on the grill, create your sauce. Dump the leftover marinade in a sauce pan and put on the stove top over high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce by about a third--it is essential to bring to a boil as the marinade was touching raw meat.

5. In the last five minutes of grilling, put your apricots on the grill.

Apricots



1. Cut your apricots into eight chunks, removing the pit.

2. Brush the cut sides with melted butter and sprinkle on brown sugar.

3. In the last five minutes of cooking the pork, add the apricots to the grill. Turn constantly so that the apricots do not burn. 



To Serve

Place your sliced pork on your plate. Drizzle the bourbon sauce over top. Eat the apricots on the side (yum!) We loved the apricots so much we've decided that our new favorite dessert is grilled apricots/peaches with vanilla icecream. Yes, we are healthy, but OMG they are to die for!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Another Belated Sunday Meal Planning


BIG news reveal today...I've been dying to tell you all, but until it was official, I didn't want to jinx it...last Wednesday I started a new job! I'm still working within the same industry, pharmaceutical public relations, but I've moved to a much smaller, independent agency. I'll miss my old company, who was absolutely amazing, but am really looking forward to my new opportunities. And speaking of opportunities, on Thursday (yes, my second day of work), I went with a few colleagues to Boston for a business trip. See what I mean by opportunities? 

Needless to say, with a business trip on my second day, I did not do very much cooking. In fact, starting with lunch on Wednesday, I literally ate every single meal in my office through Friday when we took our plane home. Hopefully this week will calm down a little, although my new job makes me especially happy about my recently purchased cookbook. Although the book is about family dinners and I eat by myself, the basic principle of getting food on the table before starving little munchkins (and in my house, that means me) get grumpy.

This week will be my test run! I'll be making only my classics that I know I can crank out quickly, as well as some of the speedy recipe in the cookbook. I've also decided to get a very large addition to my apartment (sadly, I do not mean a dog)...I'm getting a standalone freezer! You may have read my posts explaining (or just complaining) about my apartment-size fridge...for all of you who don't live in a city, this means that my entire fridge, freezer and all, is about a quarter of the size of a normal one. And my freezer is literally 4 inches tall. Not much can fit in that. Since I'll be spending longer hours at work, I'm using some of my new salary to purchase a lovely standalone so on days that I am stuck until all hours at the office I can simply pull out an individually-portioned baggy, heat it up and have dinner in minutes. Yum!

Monday: NY flank steak with red wine demi-glace, roasted asparagus (surprise) and corn

Tuesday: apricot-glazed chicken wings

Wednesday: (the day I'm hopefully getting rid of my ankle brace!) I will be going to the Yankees game with my mum and aunt

Thursday: either a) going to dinner with my aunt before she heads home if I can get out of work early or b) sliced steak and goat cheese sandwich

Friday: heading down the shore with two of my loves!



Thursday, August 9, 2012

Restaurant Review: Ed's Chowder House

This week, I met one of my good girlfriends for a last dinner before NYC Restaurant Week ends tomorrow. Since both of us are huge into seafood, we decided on Ed's Chowder House. Our other thought process was that the restaurant was not that expensive, so if we decided to go off the prix fixe menu, we wouldn't be shooting our wallets in the foot.

Turned out to be a good decision.

After reviewing the prix fixe offerings and comparing to the regular menu...we decided to order from the regular menu. The best part about going out with this particular friend is that she, like me, lovessss to share food. So when we order a few dishes, we know that each of us will get half of them. Not actually the case this time due to personal preferences once we tasted the mains, but it causes the decision making process to be even more fun since we vote on options. And every single time we end up with supreme deliciousness.

We started out (obviously) with wine. Ed's has a great list of wine by the glass and does my favorite thing...has wine, on ice, in the dining room so that the waiter can bring you a small taste to ensure you don't end up with a wine you don't like. As if that ever happens...


crispy calamari with saffron aioli and marinara sauce

After telling an absolutely hilarious story about weekend shenanigans, we dove into the appetizer menu. And uhhh omg was it good! My friend had never had oysters before, so obviously we had to get one each so that she could try one. She put her faith in my to choose an oyster that wasn't too briny (I don't want to scare her off on her first oyster or she'll never have another one again!) so I chose Naked Cowboys. 

We then debated back and forth about the rest of our appetizers, spoke with both a manager and our waiter about their personal favorites, and basically ended up flipping a coin! Our top contenders were spicy steamed mussels, fried calamari, scallop ravioli, beer braised clams and cod cakes. Obviously, we ended up with the calamari, as you can see from the picture. Our other selection was a bit unique...

scallop ravioli with white wine sauce and herbs

OH MY GOD. We both decided that the scallop ravioli was literally the best thing we've ever tasted. Like...I had a mouth orgasm from these. Inside each of those raviolis is literally a plump sea scallop. And the white wine and butter sauce? To die. I would return to Ed's Chowder House JUST for these raviolis. And, to be honest, I probably will.


Moving on to our main courses: we again had a few contenders. From my recipe post, it's obvious that I have an adoration of lobster rolls. The first time I go to one of the city's New England clam shacks, I always order a lobster roll...what can I say, I like to compare them!


Ed's version of the classic lobster roll, served with house slaw

Ed's was a very good representation. The only thing I didn't like was the herbs. Look at the picture...they are literally sticking out of the lobster roll like, still on the stem. Ick. Besides that, it was perfectly mayo-y (I think I just made a word up) with little chunks of celery adding a fabulous crunch. Yum!

My friend liked the lobster roll, but was clearly not an addict like me. And while I liked the taste of our other main, I think I made it clear I preferred the lobster roll when I took a bite and moaned. So, while we normally share half and half, we decided to take the mains that we liked best. I chowed down on my lobster roll and finished it in about four minutes. She ate a bit of hers and then had the rest wrapped up for lunch the next day. Leftovers!


The second entree was a fillet of Chatham cod (decided on because my friend had also never had cod) with a potato chip crust, served with sauteed spinach and a mustard sauce. I have to be honest--the potato chip crust was definitely not what I expected...i thought it would be crushed up, the way pretzel chicken is, but as you can see...its literal chips slapped on top of the cod. Very odd. Very good though!

All in all, I would definitely return to Ed's Chowder House. The other clam shack I go to is Mermaid Inn on Amsterdam and 87th. In my opinion, Ed's had the better lobster roll...but I am a sucker for Mermaid Inn's ambience as well as fish entrees. I think I will have to decide in advance what I plan on ordering and determine my restaurant after that. However, I highly recommend Ed's, especially if you are visiting the city, visiting Lincoln Center or staying in Columbus Circle or Midtown West.

To visit Ed's Chowder House, find it online (www.chinagrillmgt.com) or in person on the second floor of the Empire Hotel, located between Columbus and Broadway on 63rd...right across from Lincoln Center. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

An Easy Pulled Pork

Prior to living in Nashville for four years (while I got my education here), I wasn't really a big barbecue person. And by "wasn't a big" I mean "didn't eat at all". My brother could scarf down a full rack of baby back ribs while I would sit next to him chowing down on two baked potatoes (what can I say, I'm Irish!)

Enter Nashville. Enter downtown Nashville, with its Nash trash with a combined total of 10 teeth (between eight people mind you). Enter slow talking, quick eating Nashvillians. Enter honky tonks (these being the absolute best: Tootsie's, Paradise Park Trailer Resort, Cadillac Ranch and the ever popular Wild Horse Saloon), with country covers of Led Zeppelin and Bruce Springsteen. Enter cowboy boots and cowboy hats (I now own nine pairs of boots and have two hats). 

But most importantly, enter Jack's

Oh my god, enter Jack's. The barbecue that changed my life. Jack's is located in downtown Nashville and consistently has a line out the door and sometimes around the corner. It is so famous it sells its own barbecue sauces and rubs and memorabilia. When eating in, numerous sauces, based on famous barbecue from around the sauce, are available to pour on your brisket, pork shoulder, ribs, texas sausage, turkey and smoked chicken. I would always go and get a combo plate--ribs, pork shoulder and smoked chicken. Add two "vegetable" sides (by vegetable they mean baked beans, cole slaw, potato chips, potato salad, green bean casserole, etc. I guess some of those were originally veggies, but when Jack's is done with them, they don't resemble any vegetable I've ever seen.)

Because of Jack's, I perfected a perfect pulled pork...that has only a handful of ingredients. Sure, you can make your own barbecue sauce (I don't) and your own rub (I don't) and I bet it would taste a bit better. But is a "bit" better worth all that time? Not to me. Instead, I plop these ingredients in a slow cooker, turn it on low and come back 8 hours later to pull it, add bbq sauce, and stick it in the fridge. Yes, friends, it is just that easy.

Easy Pulled Pork


Ingredients:

Pork shoulder (skin on, if possible--it keeps the meat super tender)
4 cans root beer (I prefer the oldschool kind that comes in a bottle)
Salt
Pepper
Chili powder
Barbecue sauce

Directions:


1. Combine salt, pepper and chili powder in a small bowl. Rub this mixture on your pork shoulder if you bought it without skin. If not, skip to step two.


2. Place your pork shoulder in your slow cooker. Pour the root beer over the meat. If you pork is skin-on, add salt, pepper and chili powder to the rootbeer. Turn your slow cooker on low, put the lid on, and walk away.


3. After six hours, check your meat. If the skin is on, it should be separating from the meat slightly. If not, test with a fork--the meat should literally fall off as soon as touched (LITERALLY--don't pull). If it doesn't, put the lid back on and walk away again.


This, my darling readers, is what fully cooked pork for pulled pork should look like when its finished. That messed up looking section is where the tongs held it to pull it out of the slow cooker. See that damage? That means it is perfect and ready to pull.


4. Pull your pork. Hold a fork in each hand, take a piece of pork off the bone, and shred by pulling the two forks apart. The meat should flake into pieces.


5. Once every piece is pulled, place in a large bowl. Mix in barbecue sauce to taste. If you are storing in the fridge, as opposed to immediately eating, I recommend holding back a bit on the sauce--then, when you are heating it up, put a bit more in the bowl and stir once warm. YUM!


That's it, my lovely readers. It's not the same as Jack's, but for someone who was displaced from one of the barbecue capitals of the world (is Nashville a bbq capital? I feel like I just made that up), it sure does taste good. Enjoy!