Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sataw beans @ Sripraphai

From a Sripraphai trip with Sam, Erum, and Nooria some time ago. We got plenty of the usual dishes, but also tried something new: sataw beans with shrimp. At first the waiter wouldn't put in the order for us, saying "they stink". He didn't mean they were bad, but rather that they have a very pungent aroma Westerners usually don't like. But we insisted.

He wasn't wrong, it turns out. I did enjoy them, but I'm not sure if they'll ever be something I crave and go out of my way for.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Rice cakes & pork experiment

Recently while wandering Chinatown, I bought a bag of frozen sliced rice cakes. I wasn't quite sure what to do with them, but today I bought some ground pork, bok choy, and peapods and decided I could do something involving all those ingredients.

With some trolling around and advice-seeking on the Internet, I landed on this recipe. When heavily modified, it seemed good for tonight's dinner.

(the red flecks are not part of the recipe--they are sambaal oelek I added to my plate to spice it up)

Priya's birthday brunch

the annual tightsqueeze birthday brunch; more expensive than ever, and fewer people than last year, but somehow we had NO leftovers except for a bunch of grapefruit. Were people hungrier? Was the food better? Who knows?

we cooked all Friday night, all day and night Saturday, and Sunday morning. the menu this year:

* French green lentils over baby spinach
* Rob's mom's French toast casserole
* ful mudammas
* marzipan almond cake
* Greenpoint kielbasa
* smittenkitchen.com's latkes
* hardboiled eggs with garam masala
* Frankies avocado-and-beet salad (recipe from Food & Wine; thanks Jackie)
* Bhatnagar family poha
* broiled grapefruits with mint and sugar
* pineapple & grapes
* Anamika's bonbons
* Prosecco + pear nectar + ginger simple syrup
* bagels & lox & dill
* Katie's chile-egg casserole


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Greenpoint Coffeehouse

In the past few weeks, Priya & I have thrice eaten at the Greenpoint Coffee House, which is a mere block from our house and yet somewhere we never frequented (Priya used to go there but after a few lackluster brunch experiences, started preferring Brooklyn Label, which we now ironically find lackluster itself). However, we were lured there by the news that Jonny Meyer (formerly of t.b.d., across the street) was now the chef.

We first ventured in for brunch on New Year's Day. A bit annoyed at first because it took 45 minutes for the 2 of us to be seated even while 3- and 4-person groups were just walking in and getting seated immediately (they were trying to fill the booths, I guess, but I feel like at the point that a couple has been waiting there for 40 minutes, you should just put them in a booth--especially because the curved booths there barely hold 3-4 people--before seating the 4-pack that just waltzed in).

I got a smoked salmon plate, which had the nice addition of a soft egg (sometimes I'm put off from ordering a bagel with lox because I sort of want an egg, so this solved that problem) and pickled onions. Priya had pancakes and we were both surprised by how tasty they were--crispy on the edges and outside and soft on the inside. So many times we've had bum pancakes at brunch, and a block away are really fantastic ones.

We returned again for dinner a few days later. The specials looked good, and I selected a pork shoulder in chestnut polenta sprinkled with roasted chestnuts. Priya had beet ravioli--described by the waitress as "bigger than an appetizer, but smaller than an entree"--followed by a plate of Hooligan cheese with quince paste and apricot/Meyer lemon marmalade. The ravioli were delicious, and bore a resemblance to the casunziei (beet ravioli with poppy seeds) at Al Di La, which Jonny later said was an inspiration. The pork shoulder was fantastically cooked, falling to pieces and well-flavored, and the polenta hit the spot on a cold night. One of the best things we got was sent out for us at the end of the night--a salted-caramel and almond tart with chocolate ganache and crystallized ginger scattered across the top. The ginger was an excellent touch, which Jonny said was inspired by a trail mix with those components that he used to have as a kid (and which later inspired us to make our own trail mix).

On Friday, after seeing stand-up comedy at the Wards of Merkin, we brought Sirin and Ahmad to the restaurant. Again I wanted to try much of the menu, but I settled on the fried chicken (plus a side of biscuit and salad). Priya got the Painted Hills beef burger with Grafton cheddar, Ahmad had the beet ravioli and a delicious red cabbage/apple/walnut/cheddar salad, and Sirin also had the fried chicken. The chicken was very tasty, especially with the apple/honey dipping sauce it came with, and I think we all went away more than satisfied. I also loved the mussels with chorizo and cilantro, Portuguese-style with a Mexican twist.

No camera at any of our dinners there, and too dim for my cameraphone! But we'll be back, and I'll snap some then.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Thai basil chicken

Needing something not too difficult but very delicious, Priya & I made Thai basil chicken for dinner, following a recipe from the latest Cook's Illustrated. It used a lot of basil, added at three different points in the cooking (starting with a basil/garlic/chiles puree in a cold pan with oil; then halfway through adding a tbsp of that same puree after it's marinated in sugar, oyster sauce, fish sauce, and vinegar for a bit; finally, whole basil leaves wilted and stirred in at the end) and demanded that we chop our own chicken instead of using packaged ground chicken (they were right; it came out much better because of it).

on the side, coconut rice (from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything; while most of the recipes in that book are spot-on, this one needed some tweaking to prevent the rice from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan) and eggplant tossed with garlic, ginger, and oil and then broiled until done.