Sunday, August 24, 2014

Two Great Veggie Dishes - Stuffed Avocado + Spicy Cauliflower

In the mood for something healthful and vegetarian, I recently cooked an all veggie dinner, composed of ideas I found on my Healthy Eating Pinterest board, which often gives me inspiration.  Being a total avocado freak, the above pictured stuffed avocado appealed to me right away, especially when I saw the easy mix of ingredients that went into the fool-proof recipe.  The cauliflower dish stood out in flavor too, but it takes longer to prepare, which lets you munch on the avocado ahead of time and save the spicy cauliflower for later.

Stuffed Avocado - Use a ripe (but not too soft) avocado and take out the pit.  You can then stuff it with other healthy ingredients such as freshly made pico de gallo, a few chunks of cheese, breadcrumbs and the like.  If you're not a vegetarian and you'd like to incorporate some meat, a modest helping of chicken sausage may be nice to throw into the mix as well.  Here's more details about the exact cooking method, as found on Pinterest.

Spicy Cauliflower - I love me some roasted cauliflower and was excited to prepare this one with a spicy method, using chili pepper and cayenne.  While the recipe for this is a bit liberal with the spices, I used them sparingly, and added my own elements too such as sunflower seeds for some crunch as well as a sweet red onion instead of garlic.  Take a look at the original recipe, courtesy of REMCooks blog

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Seafood Lunch Specials at Psari

Although the summer is sadly winding down to an end, it's still a great time to enjoy some fresh seasonal seafood, and there's plenty of it to be found in the neighborhood.  Recently spotting some a great lunch seafood special at Psari on virtually everything, I wanted to share the news.  Make sure you come with a big appetite, as all seafood options come with Greek salad, garlic bread and your choice of a baked potato, French Fries or rice.  

Seafood Lunch Special at Psari: $13
Monday - Friday, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.


Salmon steak (grilled or broiled)
Swordfish steak (grilled or broiled)
Fried calamari
Porgy (grilled or broiled)
Flounder filet (broiled or fried)
Tilapia (grilled, broiled or fried)
Fried whiting
Stuffed filet with crab eat
Stuffed shrimp with crab meat
Maryland crab cakes
Shrimp & scallops with veggies
One dozen large fried shrimp in a basket
Whole fish of the day

Psari - 32-10 36th Avenue, Astoria NY 11106
N/Q Train to 36th Avenue

Friday, August 22, 2014

Root and Bone - Chicken, Waffles and Overall Comfort

Recently invited out for a belated birthday dinner by my cousin Vicky, she thoughtfully chose Root & Bone, the new farm to table Southern-style eatery as our destination.  While I didn't know much about it initially, Root & Bone quickly impressed me, delivering delicious eats, pleasantly casual service and an overall fun time.

Situated in the heart of the East Village on East 3rd Street between Avenue A & B, Root & Bone sits in a cool, trendy neighborhood, which is also exemplified by its clientele.  Mostly populated by young hipsters and foodies, the vibe inside is cheery, boisterous and already very busy at 6 p.m.  Since they don't take reservations, we scored two seats at the bar, which I don't always love but this time it worked out well and provided a more private spot for Vicky and me.

Liking the simple, charming decor in the form of little embellishments such as dried flowers, fresh fruit, vintage bowls, glass containers, and cookbooks, Root & Bone very much reminded me of Yardbird's aesthetic in Miami, which happens to be its sister restaurant.  A total plus in my book, I appreciated the Southern influence felt here, but at the same time Root & Bone also feels very New York.

Sampling a few items from the menu and sharing is usually how we do and it worked out well again.  Mixing it up with veggie dishes and also some protein created nice balance and left us feeling full and happy.

Lady J Cocktail - The Tito's vodka in this drink sold me right away, indicating it would be clean and smooth, on which it delivered.  Mixed with summery flavors such as strawberry and lemon, it was a vibrant and refreshing drink, and quite perfect on a hot day.

Sprouting Garden Salad -
Wanting to start with something earthy, this simple yet colorful salad spoke to us.  Composed of a medley of seasonal veggies such as avocados, watermelon radishes, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, and a sprinkling of root chips, it looked like a Jackson Pollock painting. Loving that each corner of this dish was distinct, we couldn't decide if we liked mixing its elements together or enjoying them separately.

Chicken & Waffle Sandwiches - Looking around the room, we saw mostly everyone's table graced with this signature dish so naturally we had to try it too.  Personally, I love chicken and waffles and have made my own renditions of it many a times, so Root & Bone's version truly excited me.

What came out of the kitchen was a thing of beauty, with two fluffy waffles sandwiched between handsome pieces of fried chicken, a pickled green tomato and watercress.  Not only was the chicken perfectly moist and delicious, we loved the accompanying whiskey maple syrup that added a hint of Southern charm.

Catch of the Day - Although at this point we were getting full, the catch of the day, which was hake provided a delicious finale to the meal.  Loving the beautifully grilled skin and the soft, flaky middle, it was everything that a fresh piece of fish should be. A side of seasonal succotash and a piece of grilled lemon infused even more freshness, showcasing the summer's natural bounty.

Service and Cost:
Our position at the bar lent itself to casual, friendly but also fast service and despite the restaurant being really busy, we felt well taken care of.

Costs are moderate, and not exorbitant for such a hot-spot:

Small Plates - $6-$15
Bigger plates - $22-$33
Sides - $7-$10

3 Mmmms

Root & Bone - 200 East 3rd Street, New York, NY 10009
L Train to 1st Avenue

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fooditka Family Cooking Competition a la Chopped

This past weekend, my family and I spent a most relaxing time in the Berkshires near Great Barrington.  In honor of my mom's 60th birthday, we rented a lovely house in the area and spent the whole weekend chillin, cooking, enjoy the outdoors and each other's company.

Always the creative force behind something wonderful, my Mom thought it'd be a great idea to take part in a family cooking competition, not unlike Food Network's Chopped.  The object of the game was to work with three pre-selected secret ingredients and make them into a cohesive dish.  Of course the fun of the game is that you never know what you'll get and that the three ingredients don't necessarily go well together.  Here's where we netted out - everything turning out quite well might I add:

Secret Ingredients:
Batch 1 - Oranges, cous-cous/quinoa medley, artichokes
Batch 2 - Porcini mushroom truffle cream, sunflower seeds, pomegranate balsamic vinegar
Batch 3 - Bacon, white truffle oil, Nutella

Dan and I were lucky enough to score the second batch, which made way for great opportunities to make something hearty, comforting but also sophisticated.  I have to say that everyone pulled out the stops and all of the dishes were a huge success.  Even though we tried to be discerning in our judging process, we ended up loving everything and congratulated each other on a job well done.  Here are the goodies that came out of this fantastic competition.  I highly recommend doing this on a future family trip - it'll for sure bring you closer together!

Citrus Salad with Bacon by Mira - Having the great idea of pairing the smoky bacon with something healthy such as fresh vegetables, my mom went all out.  While the dish may look simple, she incorporated a very diabolical strategy of glazing the bacon in Nutella, which surprised and delighted us all.

Nutella Parfait by Paul - Being the master of parfaits, my dad accentuated Nutella as the star ingredient by mixing it with yogurt, fresh fruit and some crunchy oat cereal.  Not only did he put his concoction in festive wine glasses, he cut out the fruit in a zig-zag design, which added a special touch.

Stuffed Peppers with Grilled Oranges by Peter and Fiana - Deciding to make something healthy, each bite of this stuffed pepper with a cous-cous/quinoa medley stuffing tasted wholesome.  We loved all the different colors represented, including a mix of red and yellow peppers.  A side of a sweet plumb reduction was a great idea for a natural sweetener, as well as the clever use of grilled oranges, that would also go nicely on top of a salad.

A Modern take on Chicken and Waffles by Dan and Fooditka - Doing what we do best, Dan and I decided to make waffles.  Using lean chicken sausage as the star ingredient, we sauteed it over some red onions and then topped each homemade sunflower seed waffle with it, as well as a generous amount of the porcini truffle cream.  A big handful of arugula sprinkled with the pomegranate balsamic went on top for more goodness.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pre US Open Eats off the 7 Line

The U.S. Open, my all time favorite sports tournament is almost in town, and I can't wait.  While I relish all the tennis action these exciting two weeks bring, I'm not always jazzed about the food options offered at the stadium.  It's for this reason I'm providing you with a quick round-up of delicious eats you can grab prior to or after visiting the Open without fail.  All of these suggestions are located close to the 7 train line, so they offer easy convenience.

Biang Noodles in Flushing - This popular noodle shop will satisfy your gametime hunger with more than a dozen different varieties of noodles, skewers, bread dishes such as sliders, dumplings and even authentic Chinese desserts.  Make sure to bring cash, as Biang doesn't accept credit cards.  41-10 Main Street, Flushing. 718.888.7713

Venturo in Sunnyside - Loving Vesta's little outpost in Sunnyside, it's just a few short steps from the 7 train and couldn't make it easier to stop off and get some fresh, delicious food.  In addition to dinner and wine, they serve lunch so you can hit them up during the U.S. Open day sessions.  Recommended dishes include the homemade thin crust pizzas, the pasta free lasagna and of course their Baby Jesus cake for dessert.  44-07 Queens Blvd, Sunnyside.  718.406.9363

Jahn's in Jackson Heights - If you'd like to treat yourself to a celebratory old fashioned sundae, Jahn's is your pick.  Boasting north of 14 different sundae varieties, you can get everything from a classic vanilla hot fudge sundae to something funky and unusual such as the Kitchen Sink Sundae which feeds up to 10 people at once.  81-04 37th Avenue, Jackson Heights.  718.651.0700

Sunday, August 17, 2014

New, Tasty Local Eats at Crescent Grill

Image by Crescent Grill

I love me some fresh, seasonal veggies and always look forward to enjoying them in local eateries, especially ones that participate in CSA shares.  Recently spotting the latest offering of beautifully ripe tomatoes at Crescent Grill, I wanted to spread the news so you all too can enjoy this goodness.  Here's what you can expect at Crescent Grill in terms of local veggie options.  But not to worry meat eaters, they've got something for you as well!

Fresh veggie options:
Tomato and watermelon salad (as seen above)
Sugar snap peas and carrots
Sauteed grilled yellow corn with roasted peppers
Pan seared grouper with roasted beets
Butter poached lobster with heirloom radishes

If you'd like to sample their tasty bar food, don't miss out on the happy hour specials with half priced draft beer and even their burger + double fried French Fries for under $10!  You can catch their Happy Hour specials from Wednesday - Friday from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Crescent Grill - 38-40 Crescent Street, Long Island City NY 11101
N/Q Train to 39th Avenue

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Brindle Room – The Burger Legend Lives On

Ever since we saw it on
Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, Dan and I have been dreaming of visiting the Brindle Room and trying their legendary burger. Marveling at Guy Fieri, as he devoured that juicy patty with all the fixins, we decided to make a date out of it, coming out for happy hour and staying til dinner.

Set in the heart of the East Village on 10th Street between 1st Avenue and Avenue A, The Brindle Room is surrounded by private residences and a sprinkling of quaint eateries. It’s somewhat easy to miss if you’re not looking for it, as the sign is subtle and the fa├žade narrow.

Comfort and familiarity washes over you as you first step into The Brindle Room, feeling oddly nostalgic and automatically like a place you won’t come to just once. Dan and I situated ourselves close to the bar, so we got a little feel of the action and observed a few folks enjoying quintessential bar food eats such as burgers, beers, poutine, oysters and such. Everything looked and smelled wonderful, which assured us why we came.

Noticing a sweet deal on happy hour items such as oysters, mussels, poutine and beers, Dan and I started with a few apps before moving on to the showstopper burger.

Oysters – The $1 deal on oysters was an easy sell for us, as we ordered a half dozen and gulped them down with gusto. Not only were they large and meaty, they boasted a clean fresh-from-the-sea flavor that didn’t need much else besides a little spritz of lemon.

Moules Frites – It was also hard to resist the happy hour PEI mussels, which came topped with a rustic garlic, tomato and basil broth. While enjoying the actual mussels and their substantial interior, the Provencal sauce was the best part, especially as a vessel for those well done frites.

The Burger – To simply call this a burger wouldn’t do it justice, as it was so much more than that. I have to admit that it didn’t look impressive, the puny thin bun and a slightly charred outside making it seem pedestrian. However immediately following the first bite, we quickly understood why it was recognized as a Triple D standout.

Firstly, the juiciness of the meat is simply diabolical, as each morsel produces utter delight with the well marbled meaty flavor dissolving into your tastebuds. You quickly learn why they use the thin bun, as the meat is truly the star ingredient and the bread simply just a vehicle of transport for the meat. A heap of perfectly caramelized onions and a generous slab of slightly melted Roquefort cheese gives the burger a hint of sophistication and further accentuates its quality. Without a doubt, this is an overall win!

Donut Holes – Although we were already full, the waitress offered us a serving of complimentary orange glazed donut holes that we couldn’t refuse. Loving the idea behind this clever dessert, I appreciated the resourcefulness of the holes as well as its sweet flavor and airy texture. The orange glaze on top further sealed this already sweet deal.

Service and Cost:
Very much in line with the relaxed vibe, the service at the Brindle Room also mirrors that. Impressed with the level of knowledge that our waitress had about the menu, she was confidently able to recommend what to get and even went into specifics about some of the ingredients. Overall, everyone had a very casual feel about them, which was welcome and needed after a long day in the big city.

Costs are pretty decent considering the quality of all the food and its NYC location. The burger set us back $14, which isn’t cheap but it truly was a bomb burger, and the happy hour small plates were $5-$6 each. Our dinner came out to about $35 each including drinks, tax and tip.

3 Mmmms

The Brindle Room – 277 East 10th Street, New York, NY 10009
L Train to 1st Avenue


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