UPPER WEST SIDE FOOD CRAWL

The 6th Annual ‘Whole Foods New Tastes of the Upper West Side’ was and continues to be a coveted food event, that brings hoards of eager eaters & eclectic entertainment as well as a slew of other things that are of interest to those who love food. I for one, made certain to come on an empty stomach in order to sample each and every participating restaurants delicacies.

Comfort Classics (May 31st, 2013)

This was an especially interesting twist of old classics into new modern culinary wonders. Over 40 vendors ranging from the common neighbourhood gems like Shake Shack, Momofuku milk bar, P.J. Clarkes to the newer up and coming like Bistro Citron, Baconery (yes, lots of bacon in everything) Ditch Plains (their Ditch Dog: Hot Dog covered in Mac N’ Cheese is an insane, artery clogging but worthy indulgence) etc. Adam Richman was the host and he was as charming as he is talented.

Highlights from Comfort Classics.

Pappardella

  • Coriander & Lemon Rubbed Tuna Loin & Orzo with Spring Peas and Parsley Pestopapardella2

If I could replicate this dish I would, but I will leave it to the professionals. Perfectly seared tuna and the Orzo was light, vibrant in colour and taste.

Meeting host Adam Richman

Meeting host Adam Richman

Shake Shack

  • Dapper Dog: Vienna All-Beef Hot Dog Topped with Shack cheddar and American Cheese Sauce and Crispy Shackmeister Ale Marinated Shallots
  • Shackmeister Shake
  • Hand-Spun Vanilla Frozen Custard with Shakmeister Ale
    shake shack

    Dapper Dog: Vienna All-Beef Hot Dog Topped with Shack cheddar and American Cheese Sauce and Crispy Shackmeister Ale Marinated Shallots

     

The line was long for this and rightfully so.  A hot dog that transcended flavour and taste in a myriad of ways. It’s no wonder Shack Shake is a New York Staple. A close to fifteen minute for the Frozen Custard was brave on my part to say the least. Perfect, cool, and in that tent that seemed like a sauna – very much-needed.

Jacob’s Pickles

  • Hot Sours Cukes, Big Dill Kosher Cukes, Candy Red Beets, Dilly Green Bean, Sweet Spicy Carrots, Sour Green Tomatoes & Thyme Jalapenos

    Jacobs pickles

    Jacobs pickles

Wow and wow! They had me at Candy Red Beets, best pickled Beets I have ever had and might I add I’ve had plenty. Sour, yet sweet with a hint of caramelisation. Can’t ‘beet’ (hehehe!) perfectly pickled veggies from Jacob’s Pickles.

The entertainment didn’t disappoint, other than an amazing DJ, they also had an aerial performance artist who dazzled with her acrobatic champagne serving skills. I’m not as bendy as she is (in fact not at all) but I was calculating mentally how many carbs I’d need to burn to get to the form below.

Champagne Aerialist

Champagne Aerialist

Fun was had by all, food was beyond delicious and it showcased the many talented chefs of the Upper West Side.

A BUN IN THE OVEN!

Life happens fast: One minute you’re a food blogger who dreams of being a private chef.  10 months later you’re a private chef who’s 5 months pregnant with no time for food-blogging.

As motherhood looms, I intend to create and post kick-ass recipes for as long as Little One will allow. It’s a she, by the way – another warrior-sister conscripted into my army of 5 amazing sisters and one niece.

I plan on posting about food events, recipes and cool, new kitchen stuff. Bear with me as I get back into the swing of things. I have the most absurd cravings! Dried Mango’s at the top of the list.

To mark my return, I bequeath you this simple North African meatball recipe. It’s gluten free, uses carrots instead of eggs, and the almonds add a nutty flavour that’s sure to warrant second servings. Serve it as a side dish with coucous.

If you’re like me, you’ve missed the soft rays of sunshine on your face and the long days outside with friends and family. Let’s welcome summer with a bang and get cooking. I can’t wait to share my new creations and introduce you to my bambino.

North African Meatballs (photo taken by Bob Siegal)

Almond Encrusted North African Meatballs / Red Pepper Yoghurt Sauce

              Meatball Recipe (Recipe serves 6)

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup carrots
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup ground/ chopped almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Spread one tablespoon of olive oil on foil paper tin / baking dish and set aside. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Mix beef, garam masala, red onions, carrots, salt and pepper (you can let it marinate overnight if you wish).
  • Scoop a portion of the mixture with a tablespoon and make even balls, then roll them in the ground almonds until evenly coated and place them in the foil tin/ baking dish and in the oven.
  • Turn meatballs after 15 minutes to brown them on the other side. 15 minutes later, they are ready to serve!

    Yoghurt Pepper Sauce

  • 2 cups plain greek yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (or more if you’d like a little more heat)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Mix yoghurt, honey and lemon juice, add red pepper flakes and refrigerate for half an hour. This allows all the flavours to meld and granish with additonal red pepper and parsley when you are ready to serve.

Enjoy folks!

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Virtual Slumber Party! presented by Healthy Cooking Camp

First time I met the lovely dynamic duo that are the brains behind Healthy Cooking Camp, was at a fabulous women’s only event in Manhattan. Robyn and Quinn served their ridiculously delicious Couscous salad that I had gobbles of! Robyn with her kind eyes and firm handshake was very engaging and full of healthy tidbits of information (perhaps by day she cooks lovely, kick ass meals and at night she really does kick ass – as a spy maybe?). Quinn with her gorgoeous red dress and warm smile to match, let me in on how to balance eating properly with little time to spare. Together they help people through their Healthy Cooking Camp project, manage eating healthy while considering time constraints we all face on a daily basis.

Quinn & Robyn

This Thursday, October 4th at 9PM, they will be hosting a Slumber Party. Learn how to prepare delicious, yet healthy desserts without sacrificing in taste and flavour. You can tune in LIVE and be part of the Slumber party and prepare decadent desserts, while getting to know Robyn + Quinn from the comfort of your home and PJs!

What are you waiting for ladies! (maybe gents as well) Sign up for the party here. Be sure to visit Healthy Cooking Camp and check out their fantastic videos and learn better ways to cook wholesome food! :)

“The Wake me up Fruit Smoothie!” – Blueberry Goodness

Mornings are hard folks! Let’s admit it, you hit the snooze button one too many times (in my case, a gazillion). I have never been a morning person, i’m an insomniac and occassional televison starer (half the time, the TV is watching me!). My experience during gloomy mornings like this is that coffee just doesn’t cut it – that high is temporary and I feel the need to have something healthier and nutritious. Not discounting the health benefits of a cup o’ joe but a fruit smoothie is packed with vitamins and antioxidants; that will fuel you throughout that dreaded ride to work, or early subway commute. Dust off that blender you’ve probably been storing away for years, buy some fruits and get blending! Smoothies give me that extra boost of energy, you’ll love it!

This one of my favourite smoothies to make – The Very Berry Smoothie recipe is for two but you can adjust measurements accordingly. I prefer using fresh fruit but the blueberries can be substituted for frozen blueberries if desired.

Very Berry Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 an apple
  • 6 ounces of coconut water
  • 6 cubes of ice
  • a handful of grapes (this adds sweetness and allows you to omit sugar or any other sweetner)

In you blender, add all the ingredients above, the order doesn’t matter and blend until smooth. I use a vitamix or my personal favourite ‘all inclusive’ blender, the blendtec.

Now don’t forget to let me know how you liked/hated this smoothie. I bet you it will be the former. No road rage or angry commute to work this morning, have a Very Berry Smoothie and enjoy your day, live it like it’s your last! :)

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Curry Rice and Vegetable Pilaf – Kick it up a notch!

Pilaf – a rice dish that involves cooking rice with spices in a broth, or with vegetables and meat. There are so many different ways to prepare rice pilaf, making it your own. This dish is most commonly found in East Africa (where I come from), Middle East, the Caribbean and Latin America.

My mum cooked rice pilaf on weekends, and my four sisters and I would lick our plates clean. The aroma of the spices filled the kitchen and made its way to the living room while she cooked. We would sometimes sneak and watch her cooking and steal tastes in preparation for the real deal at the dinner table. She often added meat or chicken to it, which is the common way pilaf or ‘pilau’ is prepared in Africa.

This recipe has two distinct spices; curry and cumin which aid in digestion and make any dish pop with character. The amount of curry used is minimal but sufficient, rendering the dish unique and delicious.

Curry Rice and Vegetable Pilaf : (serves 4)

  • 2 cups of brown rice
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • Thawed frozen peas, 1 pkg
  • 2 cups of mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon curry
  • 2 diced onions
  • 1 large red pepper, diced
  • 3 tablespoon marjoram and parsley
  • 1 large yellow squash, diced

Heat oil in a pot over medium high. Add the garlic, carrots and onions, stir for about 5 minutes until soft and translucent.  Add red pepper, squash, brown rice , curry, cumin and salt turning with a wooden spoon frequently for 3 minutes. Add broth, marjoram, parsley and as soon as it starts to boil, lower heat, cover  and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve while hot!

From my kitchen to yours, enjoy and be well :)

Curry Rice and Vegetable Pilaf

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Sunday Dinner : Steamed Lemon Flounder Fillet and Kale

After a detox, I usually ease into regular eating habits by preparing meals that have little to no seasoning. This is preferable and a great way to test your creativity with cooking by limiting your use of processed foods, condiments and additives. Fish and vegetables always hits the mark, full of vitamins,healthy and flavorful.

Clean eating by definition, is the consumption of whole foods as close to their natural state as possible. This involves including in your diet, vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, lean protein and avoiding processed foods and fast food. I love seafood, but I am careful to pick wild caught options as opposed to farm raised – more information on the diferences here. This dish is easy and quick to prepare approximately 15 minutes, I hope you try it, especially since it’s low in calories.

Ingredients (serves 1) recipe can be multiplied to accommodate the number of people you are cooking for.

  • 2 pieces of flounder fillet
  • handfuls of roughly chopped up kale (stalks removed) about 4 cups
  • 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1/2 of a large onion
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

  • Wash flounder fillets with cold water, pat dry and marinate with juice of half a lemon, salt and pepper for 5 minutes
  • Saute diced onions in olive oil at medium heat, until translucent 4 minutes.
  • Add garlic, tomatoes and kale (which will start to shrink) and cover for 3 minutes, turn continously with a wooden spoon
  • Uncover, carefully add flounder fillets with 2 lemon slices on top of kale, tomatoes and onions, cover for another 5 minutes while they steam.
  • Serve immediately while hot and enjoy with a great glass of wine, preferably a riesling :)

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section if you tried this recipe. Nothing would make me happier. Have a great Sunday evening!

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The Red, White and Blue – Fruit Parfait

As we celebrate 4th of July, with family and friends and of course some barbecue, we honour America’s independence. Unfortunately for me, I started a smoothie detox a few days ago and today I am cheating with a fruit parfait (maybe some barbecue later), that I’ve named ‘The Red, White and Blue’.

Why a detox? It helps rid the body of harmful toxins and revitalise you, after all, your body is your temple, treat it as such. This Parfait can be layered or topped off with granola, yoghurt or a sweetener like honey or maple syrup. This is great for either breakfast, a midday snack or dessert. Healthy, full of antioxidants and vitamins, you’ll be doing yourself and your body a whole lot of good!

Ingredients: ( serves 2 )

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup of strawberries (thinly sliced)
  • 1 apple (peeled, core removed and sliced thinly)
  • 1 tablespoon Honey or Maple Syrup
  • Wash blueberries and layer the bottom of  two bowls or glasses evenly
  • Drizzle some honey if you desire and then add a layer of apple slices
  • Finally add the layer of strawberries and drizzle with honey or any other topping of your choice
  • Enjoy –  Happy 4th of July folks!

JBF & Stonehenge Launch Us Into Summer

I have something of a culinary crush on the James Beard Foundation (JBF). Everything about this venerable institution shines like a beacon in the world of food, from their stately brownstone, to the elegant dining rooms, to the tantalizing dishes they set down before you.

JBF have partnered with Stonehenge, a company that presides over many of New York’s luxury rental buildings, to marvelous effect, and this summer has begun with a series of tasting parties that combine exquisite small dishes with of-the-moment cocktails and breathtaking views.

Tickets to June’s Sunset Social for foodies under 40 at The Olivia, a Stonehenge building with remarkable views, were coveted only slightly less than those to Graydon Carter’s annual Oscar party.

The Olivia’s 36th floor rooftop was swarmed by a bevy of Stonehenge residents and JBF members eager for fine finger foods, delicious drinks and tunes from the DJ. Participating restaurants included The Americano, Casa Nonna,Gastro Bar,  La Newyorkina, Rouge Tomate, Wild Edibles and Wong. Here’s a taste of what it was like to be there:

Menu Highlights

Gavin Citron, Wild Edibles ; Black Crescent Oysters

  • Pairing oysters with Poems Cava Brut Rosada NV created a lovely contrast of brine against crispness, and the accompanying cocktail sauce added a tart, citrus bite.

Kenny Tufo; Casa Nonna

  • Veal & Porcini Mushroom meatballs – Each large platter of the rich, moist meatballs were cleared from the platter within minutes.

John Walsh; Gastro Bar

  • Cappuccino of Scallops, Cauliflower and Squid Ashes : Tasted like it sounds – delectable. A marriage of flavours unique and rich with a touch of butter.

Capupucino of Scallops, Cauliflower, and Squid Ashes – served on the rooftop of the Olivia.

Cristian Molina; Rouge Tomate

  • Rush Hour – Whistlepig straight Rye whiskey, Cynar, Housemade Rosemary-Grapefruit Syrup. Grapefruit Juice, Bitters, Lemon Thyme Garnish.

- A swift kick in the taste buds, in the best way possible, with the rosemary adding a touch of soothing herbaciousness.

  • The Strawberry Fair – Lemon Verbana-Infused FAIR Quinoa Vodka, Local Strawberries, Aperol, Lemon Juice

- I loved that they didn’t use a strawberry syrup coction, but instead took the time to muddle fruit, resulting in a fresh and fruity concoction. This vodka is produced in France using quinoa, so you ca tell yourself you’re drinking booze with nutritional value!

Rush Hour and The Strawberry FAir

Other standout refreshments included:

Beers; Stella Artois, Leffe Blond & Hoegaarden

Wines; Poema Cava Brut Rosado NV, The Seeker Sauvignon Blanc 2011, The Seeker Chardonnay 2010, The Seeker Malbec 2010 & The Seeker Cabarnet Sauvignon 2011

Whatever your poison, they most likely had it.

The Olivia Rooftop

If you’d like more information about Stonehenge and the James Beard Foundation, please visit their respective sites.

Happy Summer folks! Drink, be merry and cook until you drop ! :)

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Aviation Gin + Vaandag = Love at first bite.

One of the more exotic events on the program for this year’s Manhattan Cocktail Classic was The Aviation Gin and  Vaandag collaboration produced by Laura Baddish of The Baddish Group.

Anyone who visited Vandaag during its brief but impressive lifetime no doubt recalls the restaurant’s modernist interior and no-nonsense Dutch cuisine (Sadly, this East Village gem has since shuttered its doors). Add to this a gin that boasts flavor notes derived from botanicals like Lavender, Cardamom, and Indian Sarsaparilla, and you have one heck of a delectable afternoon.

Henrietta is Hungry’s contributing writer Janeviva Uwera was fortunate enough to join Aviation Gin’s charming founders, Christian Krogstad and Ryan Magarian, as they guided a rapt audience through an array of their signature cocktails paired with exquisite small plates from Vandaag’s Northern European menu.

Food and Cocktail Pairings

             Amuse Bouche

  • Goat prosciutto, Juniper buttermilk curds and Arugula flower : Light fare for a summers day.
  • The Bijou Cocktail : Aviation Gin, Carpano Antica Vermouth, Green Chartreuse, Regan’s No.6 Orange Bitters – After taste of vermouth was strong, but this drink went over well with the crowd.

             Course 1

  • Field and farm split pea soup, onion smorrebrod, pine :  A  rich and creamy soup slightly too subtle for my palate.
  • The Aviation Cocktail Circa 1916 : Aviation Gin, Luxardo Maraschino Liquer, Rotham and Winter Creme de Violett, freshly pressed lemon juice and simple syrup – My favourite : tart but well-balanced.
              Course 2
  • Foraged roots and ‘Shrooms : yellow foot, oyster, ramps, crispy farm egg, ramp borth, spruce / The Corleone : An earthy dish, reminiscent of the foraging movement; good whole foods, with minimal ingredients but a whopper of a taste.
  •  The Corleone:  Green grapes, Aviation Gin, Grappa, freshly pressed lemon juice, simple syrup and Regan’s No.6 Ornage Bitters – A tranquil cocktail with a smooth finish; paired well with the food.
             Course 3
  • Pan seared hake : forest and green cardoon, lemon preserve, dandelion sauce paired with The Hemingway Gimlet cocktail – A light dish with citrus undertones that perfectly matched the cocktail.
  • The Hemingway Gimlet : Aviation Gin, Luxardo Maraschino Liquer, freshly pressed lime, freshly pressed grapefruit and simple syrup – As any cocktail lover knows, Maraschino liqueur is smooth but sweet. The distinct taste of the marasca cherries makes this an ideal summer cocktail.

    Course 4
  • Lamb neck : green tomatoes, grilled spring garlic, sage-juniper jus – Succulent with a perfect balance of garlic and sage.
  • The Lady Sage : Aviation Gin, freshly pressed lemon juice, simple syrup and egg white – Least appealing cocktail. More gin, less egg whites would have salvaged it.

Lamb neck: green tomatoes, grilled spring garlic, sage-juniper jus

Dessert

  • Indo almond flan : spiced caramel, drunken kumquats / The Alaska – Smooth as silk and quite the treat.
  • The Alaska: Aviation Gin, Chartreuse and Regan’s No.6 Orange bitters – They saved the best till last! This was my favourite of all the cocktails; a pungent (blame the Chartreuse) but mildly sweet drink with citrus undertones from the bitters.
Special thanks to Laura Baddish, Vaandag and the collective minds  that made this event possible. Aviation Gin is the perfect dry gin for summer cocktails. Make it a staple in your home. I know I will. :)

Vanilla French Toast & Grapefruit Mimosa – Sunday Brunch

Lazy Sundays call for an equally lazy brunch. Vanilla french toast with a grapefruit mimosa takes mere minutes to make and score marks for being packed with flavour.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 4 slices gluten free bread ( or any bread you have on hand)
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon butter (divide into two parts)

Instructions
  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk eggs, pinch of salt, vanilla extract, milk
  • Preheat oven to warm at 170 degrees
  • Dip bread into mixture, let it soak for 15 seconds on each side
  • Melt 1/2 teaspoon of butter in a nonstick pan, place 2 slices of bread at a time into the pan and cook until golden brown for approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  • Repeat the above steps with the remaining slices and place in baking pan and in the oven to keep warm.

Ingredients for Grapefruit Mimosa (serves 2)

  • Prosecco
  • 1 Grapefruit
  • 2 flute glasses
Instructions
  • Chill glasses in freezer
  • Section grapefruit in half and juice each for a flute
  • Pour half the prosecco in glasses
  • Top with grapefruit juice

Serve french toast immediately with fruit or whipped cream, I love it with bananas. Drizzle lightly with maple syrup. My go-to maple syrup is Butternut Mountain Farm Vermont Pure Maple Syrup, you can get it at Whole Foods. Any other Pure Maple Syrup brand will be a great substitute.

Happy Sunday everyone – Bon Appétit!

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