Friday, January 31, 2014

A Duo of Mac and Cheese

It's that kind of weather that screams comfort dishes like mac and cheese. While clearing out cabinets, I found some boxed "cheese and shells" and had a hankering to doctor it up. Will and I each wanted our own accoutrement, so we created a duo: one high end with truffle oil and the other with Nathan's mini hotdogs (oh yes, we went there). For the mac and cheese base, we added shredded cheddar alongside the powdery stuff, and some whole milk.

For the highbrow version, we added a few drops of white truffle oil, mustard powder, and plenty of black pepper.

For the lowbrow, we added the sautéed hot dogs, Dijon mustard, siracha, dill, and parsley.

Both iterations were tasty. We served the pasta with a side of sautéed collard greens to cut the richness. I have to say, I think top-your-own-mac-and-cheese could be the next best thing. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Five of my Faves

I recently wrote a post for Taste Trekkers, a travel food blog, about a few of my favorite Downtown New York City restaurant. Read my choices here

Friday, January 24, 2014

It Happened: Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Well I can cross out one item off of my bucket list. Thanks to a generous gift from fellow Connecticut College alum, Will and I dined at Blue Hill at Stone Barns this past weekend. I purposely didn't capture many photos, as I didn't want picture-gathering to take away from the meal. I did manage to snap a few, albeit dark from the candlelit atmosphere. 

I can't tell you how excited I was for this wintry weekend away, especially after the withdrawal from the Asia extravaganza. Our experience at Blue Hill was top notch and certainly fits the bill as "farm to table."  We planned in advance (which is a must in order to get a reservation) and found a nice deal at the Tarrytown House in New York State.  
We also ended up booking a cab from the hotel so we wouldn't have to worry about the dark roads and too much wine. (I'd definitely recommend this mode of transport.) 

The arrival at Blue Hill was quite special. Guests drive up a long windy, road, and are greeted by an attendant who checks you in, and directs you along a brick path--lit by twinkle lights--to the restaurant. Upon entering the main building, you immediately feel like you're in someone's cozy, rustic Upstate home. A roaring fire was burning, votives filled the room, and there was an air of hushed excitement.  We sat by the fire, awaiting our table, and enjoyed a fancy cocktail. 
Once our table was ready, we sat in the main dining room that reminded me of a Martha Stewart photo shoot. The room resembles a converted barn with high ceilings, metal beams, tons of candles, farm-like vases, crisp white table cloths, and just screams refinement, elegance, and comfort.
Artisan-made ceramic pottery plates and wooden platters were delicately dolloped with small tastes of the farm and ushered to  our table. We tasted items as simple as cauliflower and radishes with a light vinaigrette, to farm eggs with bacon, to local venison with beets. The food was so utterly fresh, it's truly amazing. You can practically taste the dirt and I say that in a good way.
The service was also memorable (especially thanks to Julio). Every last detail was executed to perfection. For dessert, we were asked to "take a walk" and we were relocated to a winterized room, which was originally used as the milking room. We sat in this candlelit oasis and had a private dessert tasting with warm rye rounds with homemade jam, ice cream with hibiscus, and truffles. Our experience at Blue Hill  was one of the most memorable meals of my life. I highly recommend this splurge!

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

630 Bedford Rd, Pocantico Hills, NY 10591
(914) 366-9600

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Whole Wheat Rigatoni with Mustard Roasted Cauliflower and Chick Peas

So now that we are well into January, we're in the throes of post-holiday binges and healthy eating galore. As I look for healthy recipes, I find myself turning toward Gwyneth cookbooks. I found a roasted cauliflower with chickpea recipe, and decided to spice it up with whole wheat pasta to make this vegetarian dish a bit more hearty.

Whole Wheat Rigatoni with Mustard Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas

Serves two

1 cauliflower, stem and leaves removed, roughly chopped
1 can of chick peas, drained and dried
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of spicy mustard
1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
2 scallions, white and green part thinly sliced
1/2 package of whole wheat rigatoni
pepper (I used black and Aleppo)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a baking dish, toss the cauliflower and chick peas with olive oil and salt. Bake for 40 minutes.

Boil a pot of salted water, add pasta, and cook for five to eight minutes. Drain and set aside. 

Meanwhile, whisk together the mustards, and two tablespoons of olive oil. Add in scallions and set aside.

In a bowl, mix together roasted vegetables, pasta, and stir with mustard sauce. Drizzle with olive oil and add black pepper. Top with parmesan. Enjoy. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

I'm Looking for Ch-Ch-Change

Cheers to a new year. With each new year comes fresh thinking and renewed thoughts. I've been hemming and hawing about the blog. It could use some tweaking and brainstorming in new light. So, if you know of anyone looking for a side project dedicated to blog improvement, please let me know.

Merci, and happy weekend. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Krabi, Thailand

Our last stop in Asia was in Krabi, Thailand in the lower Andaman coast. While the Thai food was certainly good (with gorgeous views to boot), the food in the States was also comparable at some points. 
We tried to sample local dishes like chicken satay, spring rolls, various curries, pad see ew, pad thai (of course), and chicken with cashews and chilies (must find this dish in the States).
One of our favorite meals was at Mr. Krab-I in downtown Krabi town. It's run by a Milano husband and Thai wife. The atmosphere was casual, but the food was on point. We had the best noodles there; sticky, salty, and a tad sweet.
Another favorite meal was at Lae Lay Grill in Ao Nang beach, where we traversed up a mountain to eat at this cliffside restaurant. We devoured an entire steamed sea bass with keffir lime and red peppers and crispy grouper with a sweet chili sauce. So good.
Our trip was absolutely fantastic. If anyone is tinkering with the notion of traveling to Asia, drop me a line. It's an incredible journey and well worth every penny and every minute in the air.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Siem Reap, Cambodia is like no place I've ever been. Originally known as a quick stopping ground to explore the ancient temples, Siem Reap is holding its own as a destination city. While it's certainly developing at a quick pace, visitors can still get a sense of the old-school charm, lure, and energy of Siem Reap. The local Khmer food is also spectacular. 

Our first night was dedicated to a cooking class at Le Tigre de Papier.  A class of nine individuals from all over the world gathered together to learn the ins and outs of Cambodian food. We started off at the market, which was exciting. Women sat perched upon tables, selling exotic fruits, chopping live, squirmy fish, and haggling over pig heads and other raw meats.  

Together we prepared traditional dishes like Amok curry, spring rolls, banana leaf salad, and fried pork with lotus root.  Many dishes include ingredients such as ginger, turmeric, palm sugar, chilies, lemon grass, and basil, which means a lot of dicing, mincing, and shredding. The preparation is certainly a labor of love, but it's worth it. 

The remainder of our dining time in Siem Reap was dedicated to tasting the local food and eating as many spring rolls (fresh and fried) as possible. I think we succeeded.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Au Revoir, Asia + Hong Kong

Happy new year! We are back West safe and sound. Our trip to Asia was incredible. It provided us with new insight and appreciation for a part of the world we've never truly explored.  What an experience.

Our first stop was a quick two-day stay in Hong Kong.  This city is  fabulous and exciting. I loved the energy and juxtaposition of a very  developed and highly infrastructured-city compared to the far East culture. Also, the food is amazing. 
We waited an hour at Maxim's Palace for dim sum in an elegant and large banquet room near City Hall. We had great bok choy, dumplings, and other goodies. Our favorite were the roasted pork buns; wonderful airy pockets of steaming, sweet meat. We had two orders. 
We savored glass noodles with roasted chicken and peanut sauce, and smoky and sweet peking duck. We wrapped the moist pieces of meat in homemade pancakes with crispy scallions at Monogamous Chinese, a quaint restaurant nestled underneath a massive escalator in the section of Central/Soho.

We also almost lost our tongues over the fiery and spicy Sichuan food at Chilli Figara, a beautiful, small restaurant also in Central Hong Kong. We had spicy dumplings, chicken with crisp basil, and deep-fried soft shell crab with scallions and pepper. Did I mention our beers were served in authentic Chinese bowls? Will definitely be bringing that tradition back stateside.