Easter Egg Salad

It’s Easter and your fridge is filled with 3 dozen beautifully dyed hard-boiled eggs.  Now what?  May I offer a suggestion?

Spanish Egg Salad

I love egg salad, it’s simple, inexpensive and very versatile.  You can add lots of things to it to change the flavor.  I love the smokey kick Spanish paprika adds to the creamy salad.  Since the mayonaise doesn’t exactly make this a health food, I use just one slice of good bread and add lots of fresh veggies on top!

4 eggs
2 Tablespoons mayonaise
2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
1/2 teaspoon Pimentón
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with 1 inch of cold water.  Bring the water to a boil over high heat.  As soon as the water boils cover the pan, turn off the heat and leave the pan on the warm burner.  Let the eggs sit covered in the hot water for 10 minutes.
(If your burners take an unusually long time to cool move the pan to a different burner or reduce the sitting time by 2 minutes).
Drain, rinse the eggs with cold water, and peel.

Add the diced red onion, mayonaise, Pimentón, lemon juice, salt, pepper and eggs to a bowl.  Mash eggs with a fork and mix until combined.

Makes 2 large sandwiches.

With endive and tomato

Arugula, belgian endive, cucumbers and butter lettuce are great ways to add some crunch and some green veggies on top.  Slices of tomato or avocado are also delicious additions.

There are a million ways to make egg salad.  Mix it up using your favorite herbs, spices and vegetables.

Happy Easter : )

Posted in Original Recipe, Recommended Recipe | Leave a comment

Best of 2011

Happy New Year everyone. 2011 was a year of great change for me, not the least of which was my move to New York City. Here is a list of some of my favorite things from the past year; the restaurants, plays, and exhibitions pulled solely from my time in NYC.

Favorite Meals:

Chocolate ravioli filled with butternut squash in a sage butter with amaretti cookies

1. Felidia

What a great restaurant. I ate here several times in 2011. The first was in May with my Dad, read about it here, but every meal I experienced at Felidia this year was special and delicious. http://www.felidia-nyc.com/




2. Gramercy Tavern

A fantastic vegetarian tasting menu. Read my original review here. Truly a special night. http://www.gramercytavern.com/

An amazing crudo trio from Il Pesce



3. Eataly

I have so much fun every time I go here and I always get caught up for hours. This year I ate at Il Pesce, Le Verdere, La Pizza & La Pasta, La Piazza and, of course, the Gelateria. http://eatalyny.com/

Carrot cake with saffron ice cream. I love savory desserts.




4. Del Posto

I wrote a blog post about my first lunch here this summer. I went back again a few weeks later with friends and had another magical meal. http://delposto.com/home.htm

Delicious, creamy burrata with pistachio puree




5. Casellula

I went to this wine and cheese and small plates bar several times in 2011. A recommendation from my college academic advisor, Casellula is intimate and filled with delicious goodies. It’s a great place to go with friends. http://www.casellula.com/

The lobster tacos are a little bite of heaven!

6. Beauty & Essex

This was the last (but not least) NYC restaurant of my 2011. From the delicious small plates to the complementary pink champagne in the bathroom, Beauty & Essex is decadent, playful, and elegant. http://www.beautyandessex.com/




Favorite Movies:

1. Midnight in Paris: I love the 20s, I love Paris, I love Woody Allen. Clever script, poignant story, great acting, beautiful cinematography, amazing music; it’s perfect.

2. Tree of Life: Terrence Malick somehow captures both the monumental and the minute moments of life in one beautiful sweeping film. Just let the images wash over you and you will be truly moved. I was captivated by Jessica Chastain.

3. Bridesmaids: Absolutely hilarious. Kristen Wiig is such a comic genius and Melissa McCarthy steals the show. Whoever said that women can’t be funny hasn’t seen this movie.

4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2: An epic and touching end to a series that I grew up with. One that will always bring me back to my childhood.

5. Melancholia: While Tree of Life interprets creation, Melancholia imagines Earth’s destruction. Kirsten Dunst gives a captivating portrayal of an utterly unlikable character, but I believe the true heart of this movie lies in Charlotte Gainsbourg’s performance as Dunst’s sister Claire. It is beautiful and haunting to watch.

6. Super 8: The young protagonists in this SciFi mystery are so deftly developed that you are fully invested in their story mere moments after the opening credits. A fun, thrilling mystery driven by real, relatable characters.

Meeting Ms. Arianda after the show was such a treat. She is as kind as she is talented!

Favorite Plays:

1. Venus in Fur: Nina Arianda is electrifying in David Ives’ play about sexuality, gender roles and power . Playing an actress auditioning for a role in a broadway show based on the erotic novel Venus in Fur, Arianda is at once sexy, goofy, childish, wise, funny, frightening and poetic. This is the definition of a star making performance. Performances resume at the Lyceum Theater on February 7th.



2. Seminar: Theresa Rebeck lets us peek in on a selective writing seminar taught by Alan Rickman’s Leonard. Rickman is wonderful as the foul mouthed, border-line abusive, writer, editor and teacher. This was a fabulously funny play with some serious (and depressing) observations on what it means to be a successful writer in America. Tickets on sale through March 2012.


3. Sons of the Prophet: Touching and funny. Themes of pain, loss, religion and family are explored with subtlety. An exploration of these subjects could have resulted in a cliche, depressingly heavy drama, but writer Stephen Karam’s light touch and ability to see beauty and comedy in moments of darkness make it fresh and ultimately uplifting.

Favorite Art Exhibitions:

1. Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at The Metropolitan Museum of Art: I waited in line for 5 hours to see this show on the last day and, amazingly enough, it was worth the wait. It made me totally re-think the role of fashion as art and I was amazed at how the Met transformed the gallery space. The exhibition design, music and use of video made me feel like I had entered McQueen’s imagination.

2. de Kooning: a retrospective at MoMA: I love de Kooning, so to see such a huge breadth of work in one show was a real treat. It really allowed me to see the evolution of his style across the many decades of his artistic life. See it through January 9th.

3. Rembrandt and His School at The Frick: The five paintings from the permanent collection (especially the self portrait) are, of course, magnificent but I was particularly moved by the etchings and sketches. In the intimate lower galleries these delicate works of art were displayed at perfect eye level, just right for the close inspection that they deserve. How wonderful to see each tiny mark made by the hand of such a phenomenal artist.

(Though I haven’t made it to see Maurizio Cattelan: All at the Guggenheim quite yet, I have heard raves and plan to see it this first weekend in January)

These were simply my favorite things this year. I hope you all enjoyed your favorite movies, restaurants, plays and art shows just as much as I enjoyed mine.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Giada De Laurentiis’ Red Wine Risotto with Peas

Dinner last night was based on three important facts:

1. I love Risotto

2. I am a HUGE Giada De Laurentiis fan

3. I had a quarter bottle of red wine left over from Saturday’s party that I needed to use

Thus, Giada’s Red Wine Risotto with Peas made its way onto my table.

I have made countless Giada De Laurentiis recipes over the years and many have become my all time favorite dishes to cook and eat.  My little sister and I have a tradition, every year for Christmas she gets me one of Giada’s cookbooks.  Though their pages are stained with batter, olive oil and tomato sauce from repeated use, there remain recipes that I haven’t tried.  This was my first time making her red wine risotto with peas and it was everything I have come to rely on when I choose a De Laurentiis recipe.  Giada’s food is simple, delicous Italian fare that is both elegant and decadent without being over the top or containing crazy ingredients and virtuoso techniques.  Giada makes Italian food accessable, delicious and fun!

It only took me about 30 minutes to make to make this risotto and it tasted so good I think I might make it again tonight.   The original recipe can be found here.  Below is my slightly altered ingredient list.  Take my suggestions, or make it Giada’s original way, either way this dish is sure to please.

3.5 cups low sodium vegetable broth (I used veggie broth so that it was vegetarian)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup chopped red onion (I love the flavor of red onion)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup red wine
2/3 cup frozen peas, defrosted (I like peas so I added more)
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesean
1/4 cup goat cheese (the addition of creamy goat cheese adds a fresh tangy flavor)
Salt and Pepper to taste

You can find Giada’s recipes on her website, on foodnetwork.com or in one of her 5 cookbooks.

Posted in Recommended Recipe | Leave a comment

Fall Festivities

Happy October everyone!  I sort of intentionally and sort of unintentionally took September off from blogging.  A new month means a fresh start and it is the start of my favorite season. So to kick things off and celebrate the beginning of my three favorite months and my (relatively) new apartment, I had a mini housewarming party Saturday night.  Instead of preparing a full meal I offered my guests fall inspired snacks and drinks!  I pulled inspiration from favorite flavors, friends and food websites all credited throughout.

Mulled Apple Cider

Mulling with orange peel, cloves and cinnamon stick.

This was a basic recipe that I got from foodnetwork.com.  Here is the full recipe, but all you really need to know is that you simmer apple cider with whole cloves, a cinamon stick and the juice and peel of an orange.  Let cool, strain and add bourbon.  Warms the spirit and the belly!

“Old Fashioned” Compound Butter

I love butter; who doesn’t? Compound butter is, in my opinion, the greatest thing since (and to be paired with) sliced bread.  For the party I wanted to make a compound butter that would go well with the fall theme and the Rosemary Olive Oil Cake, complement the cider and taste great on its own.  I already had the bourbon and the oranges from the cider and so I decided to make “Old Fashioned” Compound Butter, a genius idea from The Nibble. This recipe utilizes all the ingredients of the classic cocktail to make a rich, sweet, tangy butter that has a great kick.  Perfect for my fall menu.  I made a few slight tweaks (a little less bourbon, a little more sugar and salt). The recipe, with my changes, is below.

“Old Fashioned” Compound Butter

1 stick of room temperature butter
1 oz bourbon
1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries
1 tbsp orange zest
1.5 tablespoons brown sugar
A pinch or two of salt, to taste

Simply mix everything together in a bowl.  Taste for sweetness and saltiness; I like a balance to bring out the flavors and soften the kick of the bourbon.  Feel free to adjust the sugar and salt quantities.

Serve at room temperature spooned into a bowl or roll into a log inside parchment paper, refridgerate and cut into pats.

Baked Brie with Apricot Preserves and Sliced Almonds

This dish was the biggest hit of the evening!

This dish couldn’t be tastier or easier!  It was inspired by one of the Perry family’s very dear friends, Cherise Still.  Whenever our two families get together Cherise brings “Mama Cherise’s Cheesy Yummy Thing,” as we have come to affectionately call it.  I’m not sure if this is her exact recipe, but this is what I made tonight in an attempt to replicate her signature party dish.

1 wheel of brie cheese
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees

Cut the rind off of the brie and place into a shallow baking dish.  Spread the preserves over the top of the cheese and sprinkle on the almonds, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the the almonds have begun to brown. This is great served with crackers or crusty french bread.  Delicious!

Rosemary Olive Oil Cake

This recipe comes from my favorite food blog, 101 Cookbooks. Heidi Swanson passionately writes about and beautifully photographs delicious, healthy, natural foods from her San Francisco kitchen. She, like me, loves to mix sweet and savory, especially when it comes to baked goods. I made her Rosemary Olive Oil cake to finish my fall celebration on a sweet-ish note.  Warning to dessert lovers, this isn’t especially sweet.  It is more like a banana or zuchini bread than a chocolate cake.  I have a little less than half left over and it will be perfect for breakfast.

You can find the recipe here.  I used wheat flour instead of spelt flour and added one of the extra 2 tbsp sugar to the batter.  You really only need 1 tbsp for the top.

What a great fall feast, so great that I didn’t want it to end!  I continued the theme in the morning when my overnight guest and I made pumpkin pancakes.  Just use your favorite basic pancake recipe and add half a can of pumpkin puree, some cinnamon and nutmeg.  I reduced some apple cider in a pan with fresh orange juice to make a syrup and used the leftover “old fashioned” butter for the top.  Scrumptious!

Posted in Original Recipe, Recommended Recipe | Leave a comment

Gramercy Tavern: A Vegetarian’s Paradise

With Gramercy Tavern holding Zagat’s number one spot (not to mention Union Square Café and Eleven Madison Park which are also in the top five) and 23 other acclaimed restaurants to his name, restauranteur Danny Meyer presides over a veritable culinary empire.  His restaurants run the gamut from casual, the immensely popular Shake Shack which Middle Eastern fans can now visit in Dubai and Kuwait City, to upscale.    Earlier this month I had the pleasure of eating at Gramercy Tavern with one of my favorite families, the Fergusons.  They were kind enough to not only recommend Meyer’s restaurant to a foodie new to the city but also to treat me to the vegetarian tasting menu.  It was a fantastic evening filled with great food and great company.

I am writing this review a little bit late, so the elapsed time combined with the sheer number of things we ate and drank means that not all of my descriptions are exhaustive.  If you want to see Gramercy Tavern’s current vegetarian tasting menu and other dining options (you will see that chef Mike Anthony updates his selections often) check out their website.

After cocktails (I went with the ginger tonic which I quite liked) we began with a darling amuse bouche of Cold Corn Chowder.  This was a perfect way to start the meal; silky and smooth with just enough saltiness and incredibly fresh flavors.

A Salad of Beans, Carrots and Snap Peas with Mustard Vinaigrette was next.  This didn’t knock it out of the park for me but the vegetables were good and the vinaigrette was really nice.

Asparagus Salad with Tapioca

This was a great salad.  The crunch from the asparagus paired nicely with the creaminess of the tapioca.

Fairytale Eggplant with Heirloom Tomatoes, Sunchoke Puree and Fava Beans

We were all oooing and ahhing about the eggplant.  I couldn’t get enough.  Eggplant isn’t always my favorite because it often isn’t cooked properly but this was perfect.  It melted in my mouth and went wonderfully with the rest of the dish.

Carrots with Barley

  This was my absolute favorite course.  As the scent of cinnamon and orange wafted up from the bowl I had visions of Christmastime.  The grains tasted decadent and rich after so many veggie centric courses and the citrus and spice brought out the natural sweetness in the carrots.  I’m not sure if they used a lot of butter in this dish but it sure tasted creamy and buttery.  I could have eaten a huge bowl of this and been satisfied.  It was so comforting.  Just divine!

Grilled Cauliflower with Quinoa

The cauliflour was treated really unexpectedly and made for a very unique dish.  The vegetable was cut into a flat almost steak-like preparation.  It was cooked but still crunchy and the quinoa was sweet and nutty.  I really enjoyed this course; never something I would have thought to make at home.

To mark the transition into dessert we were offered a Gingerbeer Float with Strawberry Ice Cream and a Coconut Cookie.  It was really tasty.  The cold tingly carbonation from the gingerbeer and the sweetness of the ice cream were a refreshing combination.

We were given the opportunity to pick our desserts, crafted by pastry chef Nancy Olson, and we struggled back and forth for a while before deciding against the Sesame Gelato with Chocolate Mousse.  Our server witnessed our struggle and generously brought us the dessert on the house saying that we really should try it.  The sesame gelato had a sharp and interesting flavor.  I wouldn’t want to eat a lot of it by itself, but it paired nicely with the more familiar flavor of the chocolate mousse.  I am very glad we got to try!

I selected the Chocolate Bread Pudding.  This was my favorite dessert.  It was incredibly rich and chocolatey (which I love) but not cloyingly sweet (which I hate).  The pudding was moist and springy and the cacao nib gelato was creamy and subtle balancing the stronger flavors of it’s mate.

My friend Kelsey ordered the Lemon Pudding Cake with Sorbet.  Though I prefer chocolate desserts, this was quite nice.  It was light and airy with the right tartness from the citrus and the raspberries.

I have to say what impressed me most about my dinner was that this entirely vegetarian meal didn’t rely on pasta, cheese and other non-vegetable vegetarian staples.  The vegetables, and there were many, were the stars of each course with dairy and grains being only an occasional accompaniment never an overpowering presence.  Everything was immensely fresh, perfectly prepared and beautifully presented.

Extra touches like muffins to take with us for breakfast and plates of complimentary desserts that seemed to just keep coming made this meal into a true event.

I haven’t mentioned the wine because my current knowledge of varietals and vineyards is limited.  With each course a friendly sommelier served us a hand selected glass of wine.  Though I probably should have taken more notes, because they were outstanding, I didn’t want to be too rude by scribbling away at the table.

Here are some that we drank that I was able to jot down and look up later:

Chardonnay, Arcadian, Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, 2006, Santa Lucia Highlands, California

Sciacarello/Vermentino, Clos Sonnenta, 2010, Corsica, France

Caronne-Sainte-Gemme, 2006, Haut-Médoc

All in all dining at Gramercy Tavern is an investment of time and money but it is a great place to spend a special evening!  I look forward to returning again and sampling some of their seafood selections.

To learn more about Danny Meyer (a St. Louis native like myself) check out his recent profile in the New York Times and be sure to visit at least one of his restaurants.

Posted in Restaurant Review, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Coming Soon

If you read my blog with any regularity you may wonder why I have taken a brief vacation from posting. This past month I have been in New York City apartment hunting and job searching. While I am still pounding the pavement on the job search I am happy to report that I have signed a lease on an apartment. These past two weeks have been exciting, but busy and stressful. As I finish the moving process I promise there will be new posts to come soon!

Some restaurants I can’t wait to write about:

Gramercy Tavern
Union Square Cafe
Otto Enoteca Pizzeria

and many more!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NYC Bargains, the Prix Fixe Lunch: Del Posto

Nestled below the highline park in Chelsea, Del Posto is at once elegant and welcoming.  Its clean, crisp exterior gives way to a warm dining room that balances the fine line between fancy and stuffy.  Yes, there is a pianist at a baby grand, but he filled the restaurant with cheerful whimsy playing an extended Beatles medley.  Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds brought levity to the most formal lunch I’ve personally attended.

At the helm of Del Posto are media moguls, celebrity chefs and food lovers Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich and Joe Bastianich.  I must confess as a fan, I was predisposed to like what is perhaps their most acclaimed (1 Michelin star, 4 stars from the New York Times, a 26 food rating from Zagat) and certainly most expensive restaurant.  Though dinner at Del Posto can set you back as much as $270 a head for seven courses with wine pairings, I opted for their much more reasonably priced $29 three course lunch.  With a complimentary three part amuse bouche to start and an extra dessert selection to finish, not to mention the excellent bread, three courses turned into five making this menu a bargain and an absolute must.

The strange looking spread at the bottom right is house cured fat back lardo that is whipped with rosemary and garlic. I tried it without registering what it was and when I asked the waiter to remind me what the delicious salty, herby, rich, creamy spread was made from I didn't even care that it was pure pork fat. It was so flavorful that the butter was bland and boring in comparison. Try it on the delicious warm herb rolls!

After being very comfortably seated with a pillow at my back and menu in my hand a waiter asked if I had any dietary restrictions before he brought me a starter compliments of the chef.  I am a vegetarian, though I do occasionally “cheat” especially when it comes to cured pork, but I went with my instincts and said that I ate everything.  I trusted that I wouldn’t be served a piece of beef as an amuse bouche and that if any meat was involved it would cured pork (since Batali is certainly a lover of all things piggy).  I didn’t want to run the risk of missing out on a tasty seafood treat either, since it can be confusing what different types of vegetarians do and don’t eat.  My instincts proved correct and I ate every bite of the first course.

A trio to start: Chilled Tomato Soup, Prosciutto Wrapped Sauerkraut and Lobster and Caviar Sandwich

No more than a few bites each, this trio perfectly primed my taste buds for what was to come.  The tomato soup was fresh, tangy and slightly salty.  It was served in a small cup rimmed with breadcrumbs and meant to be sipped like a fine cocktail.  I then moved on to the prosciutto and sauerkraut, the tangy-ness and saltiness that I first tasted in the soup both built with this bite, this was my least favorite bite, probably because I don’t like sauerkraut.  I was most excited about the finger sandwich.  It was pillowy soft and creamy, nice, though I perhaps could have used some stronger flavor to punch it up.   The little pops of caviar were delicious and helped punctuate what could have been rather one note if it had been larger than a few bites.

Prix fixe diners next get to make their choices, 1 antipasti, 1 primi or secondi and 1 formaggio or dolci.

Antipasti: Insalata Primavera della Terra

This is a salad designed to look like a spring garden on the plate and it did, including crumbled breadcrumb “dirt”.  This was my favorite dish.  Both beautiful and playful, each bite was offered a new flavor.  Roasted red pepper, grilled zucchini, melt in your mouth cooked carrot, raw tomato, crunchy cucumber and delicate microgreens were dressed with a sheeps milk ricotta dressing that was delicate and delicious on its own.  This was less a salad and more a celebration of the vegetable.

Primi:  Scungilli due with Black Pepper, Black Garlic, Lemon and Parsley

Though gnocchi con pomodoro and ricotta pansotti with asparagus and black truffle butter caught my eye first, I decided to move a little outside my comfort zone and asked the waiter to tell me more about the scungilli.  Scungilli is italian for sea snails, or conch.  The due refers to two types of snails, the creatures from the sea and the snail shaped pasta noodles.  The sauce sounded intriguing and I had never tried conch before so I went for it.  Unfortuntately this was my least favorite course but it was not without merit.  I was surprised at how thick and rich the sauce was.  It had a very strong flavor, sweet and smoky garlic.   It reminded me of a gravy almost in its color and richness.  I didn’t dislike the flavor, it was very intersting and quite good, it just got a bit overwhelming for me the more I ate it.  The pasta was perfectly al dente however I don’t think I will order conch again anytime soon, it was a little tough for my tastes, bordering on chewy.  I think as a non meat eater I was a little thrown off by the rich, thick, brown sauce.   Next time at Del Posto I will play it a bit safer, that being said, I like to branch out and take risks too.  I don’t think I would order this again but I’m glad I tried it and I did finish the whole plate!

Dolci: Chocolate Ricotta Tortino with toasted Sicilian Pistachios and Olive Oil Gelato

This dish is perfectly described by its title.  A beautiful moist cake rolled in pistachios accompanied by a delicious olive oil gelato.  I have been meaning to try olive oil gelato for years and have never gotten around to it.  Now I will be making up for lost time by ordering it whenever I can.  I eat olive oil on everything so to taste that familiar, yet in this application exotic, fruity flavor emanating from this cold creamy treat was fantastic.

Dolci Round Two: A Quintet of Tasty Treats

Just when I though my meal was over a very cute cheese grater topped with complimentary mini desserts was placed in front of me.  My favorite, of course, was a “lolipop” of  olive oil gelato encased in chocolate but the mini filled zeppole, dark chocolate truffle, champagne caramel and candied fruit were welcomed with mouth wide open.  After talking with a waiter about my interest in food and love for Batali and Bastianich I was so surprised when he returned to my table with a glass of Bigaro Elio Perrone dessert wine on the house.  A beautiful shade of pink and slightly sparkling, it was just sweet enough and reminded me of pomegranates.  Stefano Perrone’s well liked Muscato wines come from Piedmont, Italy.  The Bigaro at Del Posto is a 2010 vintage blending Moscato and Bruchetto grapes.  I would highly recommend it for with your dessert.

As I walked out of Del Posto and was handed a parting gift (a gold box containing two chocolate truffles) I felt full, happy, and not at all guilty about the money I had spent.  With attentive service, many surprise extras and delicious food, my meal at Del Posto made me feel special.  I spent 90 minutes at a table by myself, but I didn’t feel lonely or awkward in the slightest.  So often we are plugged in to our computers or televisions when we are not surrounded by our friends, families and colleagues.  Taking the time to be with yourself whether it is taking a walk, sitting in the bath, or eating a meal with your full attention can be a form of meditation.  I felt relaxed, refreshed and in the present moment at my table at Del Posto, slowly and carefully tasting each bite.  You don’t have to ditch your friends, but if you ever find yourself stumped for what to do for a solo lunch in New York, skip your usual take out place, set aside an hour or two and make a reservation at Del Posto.

Tips: Make a reservation, observe the formal dress code (no shorts) and show the host or hostess you have checked in with foursquare when you arrive to receive a complimentary glass of Prosecco.  Buon Appetito!

Posted in Restaurant Review | 1 Comment