Friday, October 31, 2008

An Artsy Chelsea Dinner

After doing some Thursday evening gallery hopping, my accomplice and I stumbled upon heaven-Naima- an intimate Chelsea wine and pasta bar.

It was perfect treat for our tired artistic feet. Upon entering the dim restaurant, we were immediately greeted by a friendly hostess who let us choose our seats. Later, we were introduced to our server who appeared to be Italian, an extra bonus and the fun only continued from there.

The menu is well priced, as is the wine list. We ordered a bottle of Montepulciano D'Abruzzo for $28 and started with a salmon carpaccio starter ($10) and shared the paccheri pasta with slow roasted meat sauce and fresh ricotta ($15)--a very sweet and savory dish that had all of the concepts to yell "oh my god" with every bite. In addition, each table is treated to bread and a dip of green lentils and garlic that is marinated in olive oil. The food was great. The only thing we requested was a lemon wedge for our salmon and fresh pepper for the peccheri. Naima is a great place to go with a date or friend. I think next time we may sit at the bar and order a new dish to sample...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mexican Debate Night

As many of you know, I do not like using precise measurements when I cook (sorry!). I realize this may be a deterrent, but I encourage everyone to play around with food, especially when it comes to spice.

That being said, one of my favorite things to make are burritos. Like stir frying and roll-your-own-sushi parties, burritos are versatile--you can add whatever you like and it's a fun group activity. Recently, my roommates and I held an impromptu Mexican Debate Night and encouraged our guests to create their own burritos. Here is what we provided:

+tortillas (any flavor works)
+rotisserie chicken, pulled from the bone (most reputable grocery stores sell rotisserie   chickens and often will half the meat for you if you just need a small portion--but you     probably will mostly likely need to pull your own meat!)
+spicy peppers and onions mixture (I used an authentic Mexican adobo sauce by Dona Maria-- use caution when opening jar)
heat up vegetable oil in skillet and add sliced peppers and onions. Add a spoonful of adobo spice and simmer with three parts water, until you reach desired consistency and spice level
+sliced avocados
+shredded cheese (your preference)
+sour cream
+cilantro
+lime wedges

Heat tortillas in oven- or better yet, fry in a bit of vegetable oil in a pan until crisped (now you have a tostada) and add the fun stuff.

Extra Cajun-y

Like many people, I love spice. The spicier the better. I love the way wasabi can clear up your sinuses and Mexican peppers can make you hydrate like no other. Most recently, I have become a big fan of the cajun spice. Whenever my friends and I want to make cajun shrimp, we make sure to make it extra cajun-y, i.e., generously pour that tantalizing spice. The cajun spice works on so many foods: the aforementioned shrimp, crawfish, chicken, etc. Since I so often reach for the cajun spice jar, I decided to make my own rendition of the blend to use as a rub on a catfish filet. This is what I mixed together: salt, pepper, garlic salt (with judgment), chili pepper and red pepper flakes. After I found a balanced blend, I simply rubbed on filet and put it back in the fridge to soak up the flavors before cooking. An hour later, I set the oven to 350 degrees and cooked the fish in a foil pouch for about 10-15 minutes. And of course it came out extra cajun-y.