Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Salmon Mondays

Let’s be honest, Mondays are tough. It used to be my yoga night, where I could re-center and ease into the work week, but once we became old fogies and moved to the Upper West Side, getting home at 9:45 on the first day of the week was just too tough. And even sadder was my dinner options.  So exercise/zen dilemmas aside, I now like to refocus my night to a savory and healthy meal; crispy salmon with spinach, and roasted asparagus.

The dish couldn’t be easier. First, I roast asparagus at 425 degrees with olive oil, maldon salt, and pepper. While the asparagus is roasting, I heat oil in my iron skillet, generously salt (maldon, again) and pepper the salmon. Once the oil is almost smoking, I sear the fish skin side down for about 4 minutes and then flip for another 4 minutes (or until medium rare). Once the fish is cooked to my liking, I remove it from the pan and add the spinach until is crisps up, which usually takes about 3 minutes. At this point, the asparagus is done and I plate. You can always add a smear of mustard over everything. This dish is great with a baguette as well, but what dish isn’t?  

Friday, March 16, 2012

Restaurant Review: Balthazar

We did it. We went to Balthazar on a Thursday night and got a table at 8PM, not 5PM or 11PM, but 8PM. Sorry to gloat, but this is such a New York institution and every time I've attempted to indulge, I've been scoffed at. 
Now that we established the time, I'll jump into the pics. I have to say that the appetizers were better than the entrees. Crazy, I know. Especially as Balthazar's steak frites is considered a must-have. For apps, we ordered the bone marrow that is huge (see pic, yes that's three huge bones) and delicious. Make sure to ask for extra toast to slurp the marrow. It's like juicy heaven in your mouth. Pair that with the foie gras mousse and then you're in heaven double time with some real need for Zantac. It's one of the best things I've ever had. And yes, you need extra toast as well. It's really that good. Go sit at the bar (if you can elbow your way through) and get this app with a glass of wine. You will thank me. It's light, airy, and decadent. A perfect combination.
Next we had the escargot, pretty typical. It comes in a little Staub dish, which was a cute touch. For entrees, we had the skate (pretty good), steak frites (over hyped), and mussels (good). Trust me, stick to the starters and you will be happy (if you can get a seat). 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Recipe: Spaghetti with Anise and Pancetta

Years ago, I made dinner for my  brother and his friend as a farewell before going abroad for their junior semester. My heart wanted to go big; homemade fried calamari, an intricate salad, and a Catalan dish (my brother studied in Barca). 

But alas, work got the best of me and I put together a pasta dish. I never documented this meal, so I finally revisited (about two years later). Here you go! 

What you will need:
Can of crushed tomatoes (I recommend La Valle)
Olive Oil
2 thick slices of pancetta 
1 anise bulb, chopped
A few splashes of white wine (or Pernod or something anise-flavored)
Parmesan cheese

Use an iron skillet or dutch oven and pan-fry the pancetta until crisp. Remove from the pan and blot. Add olive oil and the chopped anise with salt and pepper to the skillet. Once the anise is translucent, add the can of diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then simmer. Add a splash (or two) of wine and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile boil the water and cook the spaghetti. Once the noodles are cooked, combine the sauce with spaghetti and add all the parm to your liking. I also like to take some of the anise sprigs and sprinkle over the dish.  

Note: this sauce is great as a leftover. I added fresh spinach and served it over penne. Delicious.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Restaurant Review: Torrisi

I'm sticking with birthdays. I had the immense pleasure of experiencing Torrisi on my birthday. For those of you who don't know it, it's an Italian restaurant that is famous for eggplant and chicken parm sandwiches during lunchtime, where anyone can wander in and enjoy the cozy setting. Come dinner time, Torrisi opens it's doors for two distinct seatings and offers a seven course meal for $60 a person. 
There are no substitutions and the menu changes daily.  Looks like you can now make reservations, but at the time, you have to wait by the door and hope for good karma. Our karma must have been great that day.  Sadly we weren't allowed to take photos, but I did manage to capture a few dishes (or empty plates): Garlic, cheesy bread, Homemade mozzarella, Cured salmon, Handmade cavatelli with fresh ricotta.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I'm Back/Jean Claude Photo Study

Eeks. I'm back. I know it's been over a year. Sigh. What can I say? I've been busy? My apologies to my readers who are few and far between. But I swear I've been thinking of you! Now that we got that out of the way, shall we continue onto the important things in life? Food.

Let me start off with a small photo study of a French restaurant in SoHo called Jean Claude. My friend Emily recommended it for my fiance's birthday and it was a great pick. It's cash only, but they have a three course prix fixe from 6-7:30PM Monday through Thursday for $25. 

They also have reasonable wines. Below are four pictures of our dishes: Spiced Squid with coriander vinaigrette, organic mixed greens; basil oil, Pan-seared foie gras with squash (sorry this dish is no longer on the menu, shame), Sautéed Skate Served with couscous, portobello mushroom, Italian capers and balsamic vinaigrette, and Hanger Steak with gratin dauphinois, sauteed zucchini, thyme and red wine shallot sauce.