Monthly Archives: January 2013

Butter NYC Restaurant Week

January means Restaurant Week in NYC again and, since this very well may be my last winter restaurant week in this fine city, I felt the need to participate. Luckily I can always count on my foodie friend, Mel, for outings such as these. She’s far more responsible than most 25-years-olds, so I left the details up to her. She chose Butter in the East Village, she made the reservation, all I did was show up and eat. But we all know I can eat like a champ. Well, actually, I’ll let you be the judge:

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Braised Octopus.

As usual, my date was more adventurous than I as she ordered, and thoroughly enjoyed, this braised octopus dish. I had a bite and, for my first taste of octopus, I must say… I liked it.

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Pasta with spicy lamb sausage & yellow tomato sauce.

It looks like mac and cheese, but it’s really a tomato sauce. Clever! This spicy lamb sausage was divine. Potentially my favorite item of the evening.

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Roasted salmon with braised lentils

It’s tough for me to overlook a salmon dish on a menu, so I didn’t. And this one came with lentils. It was crispy-skined and flakily tender; me likey.

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Braised pork shoulder with a pretzel crumb crust.

This was a heavy dish, but my dainty date devoured it like a baller. By the time dessert came, I was loosening my belt. Classy, I know.

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Ginger cookie ice cream sandwich.

But who could resist a ginger cookie ice cream? Not this girl. I’m not made of stone. Although the cookie might have been. It was really quite difficult to eat with a spoon, and this was not the sort of establishment where I could dive in with my hands (much to my chagrin). So’s not to embarrass my date, just my own cutlery skills, I fought the cookie hard and won. I won.

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Lemon sorbet with kumquat marmalade.

I didn’t try this lemon sorbet, although it looked tasty and much easier to ingest than my dessert. The savory portions of this meal well made up for the challenging finish. If you’re feeling fancy in the Village, check out Butter. It’s buttery. 🙂

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Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese

So here’s how it went down:

Last week I was dying for something cheesy and delicious so I suggested we hit up our local favorite, Queens Comfort, a magical place that boasts the most fabulous macaroni and cheese. The only problem was mi amor. He too wanted some delicious mac and cheese, but alas Queens Comfort serves theirs with bacon and my boy is of the tribe, so bacon is a deal breaker.

So I suggested instead that I would make a delicious baked mac and cheese at home that was nutritionally appropriate for both of us. Then, while at the market, a non-kosher lightbulb went off, and we decided to kick it up a notch and add some buffalo chicken. BAM. And we’re off!

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Melt butter with garlic & onions.

The first (and most complex) step was the sauce, which began with 3 tbsp butter. To this I added garlic onions and some jalapeño (cause I’m spicy). After this began to simmer, I whisked in 3 tbsp flour, effectively creating a roux.

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Whisk in the flour.

Once the mixture turns a lovely shade of brown, add in 3 cups of milk. Then start slowly adding whatever cheese you fancy. We used cheddar here:

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Add milk and cheese.

Then once it’s all melty and delicious, lower the heat, but stir occasionally whilst getting the rest of the dish together.

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Marinade chicken in buffalo sauce.

I had my chicken marinating in buffalo sauce for about a half an hour, then into a buttery pan until it looks good enough to eat. I then moved the chicken to a cutting board to cool before I sliced it into bite-sized pieces. Then everything into the pan!

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Add broccoli and pasta to pan.

Return the chicken the skillet, followed by whatever kind of pasta you enjoy. We used whole-wheat elbows to convince ourselves this dish was healthy. See also: use of broccoli in this dish.

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Close up of the magic.

Because I’m naive enough to think you can just send a man to the grocery store and expect him to know what you mean when you say “foil baking pan,” I got to coin the soon-to-be-world-famous “mac and cheese pie” with these babies:

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Top with bleu cheese, breadcrumbs and butter.

I scooped it all into two of these pans, then covered them with a little more cheddar, a few bleu cheese crumbles and some breadcrumbs. Then pour on another 1/2 cup of butter and into the oven at 400!

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Cook at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

And in approximately 25-30 minutes, this is what you’ll have. Yeah. Mmm.

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And enjoy!!

Take THAT, Queens Comfort!

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Drinking Outside The Box Groupon

Today I had a very unpleasant experience with a Drinking Outside The Box Groupon and I’m interested to know if anyone has experienced anything similar.

I purchased this Groupon a month ago with the intention of reserving a wine tasting class for the 14th or 21st of January. On January 4th, I attempted to do so via the Drinking Outside The Box website, but was unable to reserve for any dates beyond the 7th. On that day, I wrote to the contact email on the website explaining that I had a Groupon that I wanted to use before it expired on the 23rd, but I wanted to be sure the 7th wasn’t my last chance and the response I got was:

“Hi Lea! We have class every Monday night- so yes- you should be able to make it before the 23rd” (this was on January 5th). Great! So, I went on today to see if the 14th or 21st had become available to reserve and they had not so I wrote a second email and got the following response: “It is not available because it is sold out. Jan 28th is the earliest available. All reservations must be made thru the website.”

… So “my Groupon is useless?” I ask. “Yes” is the response. — Has anything like this ever happened to anyone attempting to book a class through Drinking Outside the Box? I understand that part of the scheme of Groupon is that people who wait too long lose their money, but I feel as though I tried to use my Groupon in a responsible frame of time and was deliberately misled so that I would not be able to participate before the deadline. Hopefully that isn’t the case. Perhaps the website malfunctioned, but in any event, I feel duped and/or shafted.

I know many people have horror stories involving issues with Groupon itself, but has anyone had an issue like this with a vendor regarding a Groupon? What did you do about it?

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Home Made Egg Rolls

We were lucky enough to take a cooking class in Chiang Mai while on vacation in Thailand this fall where we learned to make the elusive Pad Thai my  man craves so much. <– Stay tuned for that recipe. Today we’re going to make a version of the spring rolls we learned to make during that class. I say “version,” because I couldn’t find any “spring roll” wrappers, only “egg roll,” so the filling will be the same, but the outside a little crunchier. Who cares?! I get to use my new deep fryer and that’s really what this is all about, so off we go!

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Garlic, Carrots, Scallions, Bean Sprouts, Tofu, Chicken, Glass Noodles.

Put the water on for the rice noodles to boil then get to chopping! Obviously one would do fine stuffing an egg roll with anything (I’m even thinking a banana-nutella egg roll might hit the spot), but in this case we were really trying to channel those authentic Thai flavors, so I followed the recipe. First heat the oil, then throw in the garlic for a minute, followed by the chicken and tofu for another minute or two. Then throw in the noodles (followed immediately by a tablespoon or two of water), then toss in the other veggies, give it a stir and BAM: easy as that.

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Add fresh cabbage.

Next heap a portion of the mixture into whatever wrapper you are able to find at the market and get to rolling. I added some fresh cabbage to mine for the pretty color 🙂

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Roll it up, paste with egg.

Wrapping these things takes a bit of finesse; I think it’s easiest to roll from the corners, then over roll a bit, tuck in the edges, paste with egg, then roll it on up and paste a little more. The package of wrappers said to use water to make it stick, so if anyone has done that and thinks that’s easier than egg, please let me know! And now for the fun part!

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And fry-eems up!

This Christmas, I requested a deep fryer and was thrilled to receive this amazing and super easy to use compact fryer that fits perfectly in my apartment. Gracias Fajah. I used plain veggie oil to fry as I’ve been told olive oil has too much of its own flavor to properly cook Thai food. I don’t want to brag, but these were pretty delicious:

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Am I right?

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