Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Restaurant Review: L'Ecole

462 Broadway (between Broome St & Grand St)
New York, NY 10013
(212) 219-3300

We recently went to the French Culinary Institute restaurant - L'Ecole. It's an old favorite of ours because of the diversity in the menu. For this meal, we chose the 5 course meal (appetizer, fish course, meat course, salad and dessert) for only $42. They also offer a 4 course option but it's really not as tasty. It's difficult to choose from all delicious choices. Here are some pictures from the meal.

Yellowtail Tartar with Parsnip Purée and Warm Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
Thon Tartare, Purée de Panais et Vinaigrette Tiède au Citron

Escargot with Red Wine and Gruyère Cream
Escargot aux Vin Rouge, Crème de Gruyère

Seared Scallops, Pickled Grapes and Smoked Potato Cream
Coquilles Saint-Jacques, Raisins au Vinaigre et Crème de Pomme de Terre Fumé

Poached Halibut, Potato Terrine and Spiced Chicken Consommé
Flétan Poaché, Terrine Dépomme de Terre, Consommé de Poulet Épicé

Juniper Smoked Rack of Lamb with Pickled Chanterelles and Sunchoke-Cheddar Purée
Carré d’agneau Fumé aux Geneviève Purée de Jérusalem Artichaut et Cheddar Chanterelle aux Vinaigre

Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with Malt Ice Cream
Tarte au Chocolat Praline et sa Glace de malt

Trio of Pot de Crème
Trio de Pot de Crème

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Red Velvet Cookie Sandwiches

This year for Valentine's Day, I decided to bake some treats for Jander. He had a choice between cupcakes or moonpies. Intrigued with the second option, he decided that was what he wanted. I was inspired by Bakerella's treats, and these cookies were very easy to make and deliciously moist!

Ingredients for the cookie:
A box of white cake mix
red food coloring
1/2 cup of butter
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients together. Drop spoonfuls of the batter on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool.

Note: Depending on the size of the cookie drops, leave 1-2 inches of space between the dough. (Don't they look kinda look like Play-doh?) Here's how my cookies turned out - I'm so proud of my evenly sized cookies!

Next, make the cream cheese filling!

Ingredients for the cream cheese filling:
8 oz Philadelphia cream cheese
1/2 cup of softened butter
1 tsp of vanilla extract
confectionary sugar

Mix all the ingredients together until creamed. I didn't exactly measure how much sugar to add. I would say add to your taste!

Then add a dallop of the cream cheese filling to one side of the cookie and press together to make a sandwich! Enjoy!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

From Karen's Kitchen: Green Tea Ice Cream

This is another one of those recipes that's so easy to make that you will never have to buy it from the supermarket or order it at a Japanese restaurant ever again. Another lovely reason is that you don't even need an ice cream maker for this... but of course, if you have it, use it. Mine is still sealed in the box, somewhere in the basement.

(adapted from Harumi's Japanese Home Cooking)
Below are the ingredients for double the original recipe which makes 1 1/2 quarts.

1/4 cup matcha powder
1 cup granulated sugar
6 egg yolks
1 1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup heavy cream

1. In a small bow, mix the green tea powder with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar.

2. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg yolks and remaining sugar.

3. Pour the milk into a small pan and gently heat taking care not to let it boil (ideally the temperature of the milk should be 176 degrees F). Remove the from the heat and mix a few spoonfuls of the warm milk with the green tea powder and sugar in a small bowl. When you have a smooth paste (it looked like green mud), add it to the remaining milk in the pan. Temper the eggs and then gradually combine with the egg yolk mixture.

4. Return mixture to the stove and heat slowly over low heat (taking care to not let the mixture boil), until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat, strain through a fine sieve, and allow to cool completely.

5. Whip the cream until stiff peaks were formed and then fold in the cold green tea-milk mixture.

6. Transfer the mixture to a large container and [chill for an hour or two in the refrigerator] and then put it in the freezer. As ice crystals start to form, remove, and mix well with a spoon (use a wooden spoon and stir very vigorously) to break them up and return the mixture to the freezer. Repeat this a few times as it freezes to ensure that the ice cream is smooth.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

From Karen's Kitchen: Thai Green Curry

This is so easy to make and delicious that I refuse to order this when we go out for Thai. Most ingredients can be found at Thai and most Asian Supermarkets.

For those in NYC, there are two Thai grocery stores in Chinatown:
  • Bangkok Center Grocery: 104 Mosco St., New York, NY 10013
  • Udom Grocery: 81 Bayard St., New York, NY 10013

You will need:
One can of coconut milk

Thai Green Curry Paste

Bamboo Shoots

Straw Mushrooms

I set aside the 1/2 cup of the bamboo shoots, 1/4 cup of the straw mushrooms and also some julienned orange & green peppers (about half of each)

Other ingredients:
- sugar
- fish sauce
- meat of your choice (i used chicken)

To begin, refrigerate the coconut milk for about 20 minutes. This will cause the milk to seperate and a thicker, top layer will form once its cold. In a heated pan, spoon about 3-4 tablespoons of the creamy (solidified) layer of the coconut milk. It will start boiling/sizzling. Add in 1 tablespoon of the green curry paste. (If you like it SPICY, add in more. But be warned: I used two HEAPING tablespoons and it was SUPER DUPER spicy.)

Cook the coconut milk & curry paste together (about 5 minutes). It'll be dry & look like its gonna burn... but it's getting the oil out of the coconut milk & curry. Then add in the rest of the coconut milk. Bring to a boil and then add in your meat & veggies. Bring all that to a boil once more and then add in 1 tablespoon of sugar, 2-3 tablespoons of fish sauce, pinch of salt (to your taste).

Simmer for 15-20 minutes more (to ensure that the meat is cooked thoroughly) and then serve.
From karen's cookies cakes & more

Serves 4.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Audience Gifts at the Martha Stewart Show

As previously posted on this blog, I attended a taping of the Martha Stewart show last week. As a member of the studio audience, we received some awesome gifts in two of the show segments. The segment featured Stephen Kress, vice president for bird conservation for the Aubudon Society. He talked to us about creating the perfect bird environment including a bird feeder, the Clever Clean Removable-Base Sunflower Feeder.

According to the Martha Stewart website, the Onyx Clever Clean is the newest innovation in bird feeders. The base of the feeder easily twists off so that it can be cleaned with a brush to prevent gunk and mold toxin build up. Birds that use this feeder include: cardinals, chickadees, finches, flickers, goldfinches, grackles, grosbeaks, jays, juncos, kinglets, mockingbirds, nuthatches, redpolls, siskins, sparrows, starlings, titmice.

In addition, Martha gave us Wingscapes BirdCam to help capture digital bird photography and bird videos. This is a weatherproof, motion-activated to help monitor bird-watching experience. I am looking forward to using this in the spring and taking pictures of the birds (and animals) that visit my backyard! According to the stage manager at the show, it might also serve as a spy camera too, hehe.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Weddings at the Empire State Building

With Valentine's Day less than a week away, romance is certainly in the air. What bigger celebration of love is there besides getting married? Well, in NYC, the most romantic location for a wedding is certainly the Empire State Building. And do you know that only 440 couples have actually officially gotten married at the historic building? Since 1994, the landmark has only chosen a handful of couples to get married on-site. This Saturday, only 14 out of 400 couples who entered the Empire State Building wedding contest by writing their love stories, will have the unique opportunity for exchanging their vows on top of the Empire State Building.

One year ago, Jessica Chan and Nicholas Liu won the opportunity to get married on the Empire State Building. To read more about their story and other previously married couple, click here. This couple was also featured in the local news for winning this contest, currently organized by Brides.com. Winners are chosen from their heart-felt stories.
(Say awwwww...)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

FREE Bare Minerals Make-up

Get a 10 day supply of Bare Escentuals FREE! Plus a bonus baby kabuki brush. Pick it up free in stores for next 10 days. Or get it online with any order! Enter code 'FREELOVE' at checkout. Click on the image below for more information.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Valentine's Day Cookies

As featured on the Martha Stewart show today, The Jewels of New York is offering their unique and dazzling Valentine Day coookies. They are sugar cookies topped with a special jam, consisting of lychee, prosecco, and tart raspberries. The cookies are beautifully decorated to look like a jewel.

The company is founded by two young women, Diana Yen and Lisel Arroyo. I saw their segment taped live on the Martha Stewart show. The cookie itself is a simple sugar cookie (without baking soda, which surprised Martha). To make the jam, they blended the lychee and poured the mixture with a jar of raspberries and prosecco. I would imagine this to be quite sweet and tasty! The application of the jam and sprinkles looks to be the most time consuming part of the process. At $25 for 4 cookies...even Martha said that they should be charging more money!

As for myself, I think I'll eat chocolates on Valentine's Day!

To order these cookies or see food pictures by Diana and Lisel, click here to go to their website.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

My Birthday Cake

Thanks to my dear colleagues for surprising me with a birthday cake! It was a yummy vanilla and chocolate cake. Ignore the plastic knife, I caught this picture on my cellphone before it was cut.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Martha Stewart Show Taping

Today I spent the afternoon as a member of the studio audience in the Martha Stewart Show. I'm actually not a big fan of Martha which is surprising since I'm really into baking and crafts! Whenever I see her show on tv, I always flip the channel. I think its because of the dark lighting. But since I received tickets to attend the taping, I figured I would enjoy the experience. I'm all for celebrity-spotting and doing something that's not work related!

Here we are waiting outside the Chelsea studios. I arrived at 12:15pm. We were told to arrive at 12:30pm sharp otherwise we would be denied entrance. Since it was flurrying, it was a relief to wait underneath the awning. We slowly made it to the front of the line, and told them how many people were in our party. We checked in and walked through a security point. Finally, we got into the waiting area where we were able to check our coats, fill out a release form, and learn about today's schedule! Originally the website said that we would be watching a segment on carrots but that was for the morning's live taping. This afternoon was for a taped show for this Friday February 6th!

For those of you that have never been a part of a studio audience, it's actually quite fun. (I've been on the Montel Williams show and Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?). We learned how to do a loud clap, a crescendo clap, and of course, smile! We were entertained by the stage manager who kept us entertained with jokes and free goodies (toothpaste, mouthwash, books and magazines). The studio set was broken out into different parts, including the greenhouse, the kitchen, the crafts area, and the bedroom. And of course, there were tons of lights on the ceiling. I expected the studio to be warm but it was actually quite chilly.

Here's a summary of the segments covered (more details regarding each one): Valentine's Day cardboard boxes, bejeweled cookies, leather handbags, and bird-watching tips. And the best part of the day? Our free giftsssss! To be revealed in next post...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bacon Explosion

From Karen's Kitchen
Pork Lovers, REJOICE!
This one's for the MEN! No boys or sissies allowed in here. This is THE recipe for pork & BBQ lovers. I mean.... seriously.... this aint for vegetarians.

I decided to make this for the guys for SuperBowl Sunday.

TWO POUNDS of Bacon.
TWO POUNDS of Sausage.
All rolled into one!

The recipe (found here) was featured on Good Morning America on Friday, before the Super Bowl.... and I did exactly what they said to do.

Two pounds of thick cut bacon
Two pounds of italian sausage (i used sweet)
BBQ Sauce

Make a 5x5 bacon weave.

Sprinkle on some BBQ rub.

I bought sausage from the market and removed the casings. This part was so gross. I advise you to wear gloves, if you have them.

Next, pile the sausage onto your bacon weave, and press in firmly.

Set aside. Cook remaining bacon the way you like it. Shred cooled bacon and add it on top of the sausauge.

Add some BBQ seasoning and drizzle on some BBQ sauce.

According to the bloggers @ BBQ addict, next comes the fun part.
To me, this was actually the hard part. Rolling up the sausage & the cooked bacon without the bacon weave. [WEAR GLOVES, for this!] This wasnt as easy as they said it would be but i did it.

Next, wrap your bacon weave around your sausage loaf.

The recipe says to smoke the loaf. I didnt have a smoker -- i just used my oven. Baked at 250 degrees for 2.5 hours. I know why they said to smoke it. OMG... the grease from the bacon & sausauge was kinda gross. I removed this when it was done.

Then I slathered some more BBQ sauce on top and broiled at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.

THE VERDICT: This was really easy to make and very tasty. It wasn't dry because of the slow & low - cooking method. I would make this again but maybe to be a lil more healthier, I'm going to use turkey bacon & sausage; and probably add in some pepper & onion strips in the middle.

To avoid all the grease, next time I'm going to use a roasting pan with rack.

Restaurant Review: BKNY Thai Restaurant

Bangkok New York Thai Restaurant
47-11 Francis Lewis Boulevard
Bayside NY 11361

I've been hearing about this restaurant from Peggy, but in my head, I pictured it as a small hole in the wall. She finally convinced me to go eat here for dinner. Oh yea, it's her birthday soon too. Anyway, we drove around the restaurant and saw a small parking lot for patrons. The restaurant itself is quite large. Very unexpected. I didn't think they utilized their seating capacity though since it could fit more tables. However, it is a nice place for large groups of 20.

As for the food, we ordered two appetizers, two entrees and two Thai iced teas. I didn't think it would be enough but we were quite full. Here are some pictures of the food, courtesy of their website.

The BKNY Seafood Special - the sauce wasn't evenly distributed, so I only tasted bland seafood. Not that special.

The shrimp pad thai - The food wasn't served with two scallions sticking out. Otherwise I would have pulled that stuff out! Surprisingly very delicious. I'm normally picky about my pad thai but I was impressed with this simple dish. Unlike the picture, the peanuts and bean sproats were on the side of the dish which is what I prefer.

Thai fried ice-cream - What's a dinner out with some dessert? The fried part was too greasy for my taste. Who wants to taste oil with their ice-cream? Next time, I'll just order plain ice-cream.
Photos courtesy of BKNY Thai Restaurant.

Not shown is the crab cake appetizers wrapped in tofu skin. It was served with a side of sauce. Each time we go to a Thai restaurant, we mistakenly order this dish because we think it is more delicious than it actually sounds. But really...it's dry and just bleh. Otherwise, the food and ambience is good and we'll come here again for some local good eats.