Even though I’m not a huge fan of football (I feel it’s safe to admit that at the close of the season) I felt compelled to focus on the fun aspect of the evening:  the food.

image

To that end, we made oven-baked buffalo wings with blue cheese and yogurt dip, brought out the chips and dip, and made a football-appropriate meal:

image

Ellie Krieger’s three bean and beef chili, served over roasted acorn squash, and smothered in cheese and plain yogurt in lieu of sour cream.

It was a meal that made football worthwhile.

Almost.

 


In the heart of a damp and chilly winter, during this past snowy Saturday, I dreamed a bit of warm breezes, sun dresses, and the farmer’s market at the local train station.  And while digging through my archives, I found this simple summer pasta dish that I had prepared several times with odds and ends from my produce bag.

image

I miss the colors of summer.  Red tomatoes, yellow zucchini, purple scallions…

image

Pungent, summery herbs…

image
A quick turn in the pan with salt and olive oil…

image

And you have a fresh, healthy meal.  Or in this case, a quick snack before running into the city for dinner.

image
It tasted great in my Campbell’s bowl.

image

But it was even better the next evening, with a few generous dollops of ricotta and some freshly diced tomato sprinkled on top.

Summer loving, indeed.

 


Usually I eat a granola bar in my car on the way to work and call it breakfast.  Sure, it fills me up for a few hours, and it’s healthier than a pop tart, but it’s not really a proper breakfast.  So on the weekends, I try to jazz it up a little.

image

Enter my current favorite granola:  Pumpkin Flax Plus.  Delicious and nutritious and available at Target.  Great with milk or yogurt.  But I have REALLY been enjoying it with the So Delicious cultured coconut milk.  It’s loaded with probiotics, and it combines the tang of kefir with the sweet, tropical hint of coconut.
image

Circled with bananas and with a cup of coffee, this is possibly the perfect no-cook breakfast.


A few weeks ago, Mr. S.G. and I went to the Shakespeare Theatre to see Othello.  While it wasn’t my favorite production ever (perhaps Kenneth Branagh and Lawrence Fishburne forever shaped the way I envision the Moor and Iago) it was still a lovely night out.  We tried somewhere new for dinner – Rob’s Bistro, which is a casual sister restaurant to its fancier, white tablecloth neighbor, Resto.  It’s also a BYO with a wine store located across the street.  Really, does it get any better?

image

The soup du jour was a roasted tomato soup.  It was rich, savory, and lightly dusted with fresh black pepper and a side of humor (the waiter earnestly asked if wanted ketchup with our soup while clutching the pepper mill.)
image

Mr. S.G. ordered the steak frites, and his steak was juicy, cooked perfectly medium rare, and tasted juicily delicious with the crispy fries.  I enjoyed the salad as Mr. S.G. claimed he was too full.   Hmm.
image

I ordered the Saturday special, pot au feu, which consisted of beef and vegetables cooked separately in a braising liquid.  It was tender, flavorful, and filling.  It was pure comfort food, plain and simple but delicious.

image

It seems to me that going to a French restaurant and not ordering a dessert is more sinful than simply ordering it, so I went for the glory and ordered the chocolate mousse and Mr. S.G. had the flour less chocolate cake.  The chocolate mousse was divine.  Please, please order it if you love life, chocolate, and the  pursuit of happiness.  It was creamy, smooth, and redolent of chocolate.  I would not recommend the chocolate cake – it was not served warm and was fairly bland.

image

And of course, the perfect meal is always punctuated by cappuccino.

The food was delicious at Rob’s and the service was very friendly.  The decor is a bit bare and the room was on the noisy side, but those are minor complaints I’m more than happy to overlook.  I’m looking forward to sampling the food at Resto in the not-too-distant future.

_________________________________________________________

Rob’s Bistro
75 Main Street
Madison NJ  

 


I woke up this morning to a pool of sunshine streaming through the windows; a crisp, autumnal breeze; and Donna Summer being blasted from the hair salon downstairs at 7:30 a.m.  It was clearly the perfect weather for my favorite meal, brunch.  So I boogied into a sweater (ahh, the return of sweaters and boots and tights, oh my!) and we made our way to Plum on Park.  It’s a teeny sliver of a restaurant in a purple-swathed, railroad-car building.  Plum serves breakfast and lunch on weekdays, and Saturday brunch (you have to find somewhere else to eat on Sundays, sadly.) 

image

A smaller menu focuses your decision making...

imageI knew things were off to a good start when this arrived.  Cappuccino makes everything better.  Even getting woken up at 7:30 on a Saturday morning. 

image

It's very Hopper meets tole chandeliers, no?

 image

This is why I love breakfast.  The cinnamon raisin French toast was perfect – nicely crispy on the outside, melting into a silky custard texture with each bite.  Real maple syrup and fruit guilded the lily.
image

Mr. S.G. ordered a ham and cheese omelette which tasted as good as it looks - the ham was sliced thin and smoky, the hash browns were delicious, and the toast came with the restaurant’s signature plum preserves.  They were so good that I ate them like a dessert, without bothering to grace the toast with them.  (In part because Mr. S.G. ate it all.)

There are also smoothies and a juice bar on offer, as well as baked goods for dessert, and gluten-free options. 

I’m eager to try the sandwiches which sound promising, but in the meantime I’m excited to have a new brunch spot to enjoy while I continue to work my way through the menu at Raymond’s.

_______________________________
Plum on Park
14 Park Street

Montclair NJ 07042

Breakfast 8:00 am – 11:30 am

Lunch  11:30 am – 2:30 pm

Mostly, because of the farmer’s market.  To wit, today’s haul:

Corn
Asian pears (which I’ve never tried before)
Grape tomatoes
Carrots
A yellow pepper
Roma tomatoes
Chives
Red onions
White peaches
Fingering potatoes
Salad greens
And my favorite, currant raisin bread.

Yum.

To quote J.C., bon appetit!

image
image


Mr. S.G. and I moved to a new neighborhood last month, and one of the nicest perks is that we are now within walking distance of a farmer’s market that takes place every Saturday.  Last week, we came home with a bumper crop of freshly plucked produce that included a pound of juicy cherries.  (I may also have come home with a blueberry muffin, an iced coffee, and a faboo antique lamp from a store down the block from the market, but I’ll never tell.)  Although my initial instinct was to make a cherry clafouti, I decided to try a savory recipe instead.  The Bon Appétit recipe for a chicken cherry salad sounded healthy, tasty, and I was intrigued by the lemon dill dressing.

To start, you need to prepare Perfect Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs as per this recipe, which directly precedes the salad recipe in the magazine.  And let me tell you, when they say it’s the perfect way to pan-roast chicken thighs, the good folks at BA aren’t lying.  I may never make chicken any other way.  You start off by searing the one-in, skin on thighs in a cast iron pan, and then move them into the oven where they roast to a perfectly crisp state.  It sounds simple, and it is, but the flavor – and I only seasoned with salt and pepper – is unreal.

Then, you fry up croutons in the chicken fat – and that elevates the humble crouton to dizzying heights.  I had to taste a few while Mr. S.G. was preparing the salad dressing (quality control) and the way the crispy, browned bread gives way to the unctuous seduction of chicken fat is borderline illicit.

I defied the recipe and used a spring mix of lettuce rather than butter lettuce, but it was visually pleasing and tasty.

image
Next time I think I’d add a bit more honey to the dressing, because it was a little tart for my taste, but overall this is fresh, delicious summertime fare at its best.


Despite my marked love of carbs, I fear making dough.  Bread dough, pie dough, tart dough… you name it, it scares me.  I have a paralyzing fear of failure when it comes to anything remotely bread-y.  I’m not sure why it feels so daunting to make these things… I suppose it’s circular, really.  I fear making dough so I don’t make it often.  Since I don’t make it often, it retains its mystique.

Thanks for talking me through that, guys.

A few months ago I had a craving for white pizza.  Just pure cheesy bliss, unadulterated by the rouged kiss of tomatoes.  Fortunately, Barefoot Contessa provide a stalwart kitchen companion with her recipe for White Pizza topped with Arugula.  It was perfect:  the arugula added an exotic yet healthy touch.

So I took the plunge.

My Kitchen Aid did the dance of dough.

Not quite as seductive as the dance of the seven veils.

Once you’ve swirled your water, honey, yeast, flour, and olive oil into nascent pizza dough, you can turn the dough out, knead by hand a few times, and then let it rise for thirty minutes.  Coat the dough lightly in olive oil so it doesn’t stick to the bowl.

While the dough is rising, you make garlic oil to brush the pizza with.  As B.C. would say, how bad can that be?

And it gets better.  This white pizza combines the virtue of three cheeses:  fontina, goat cheese, and mozzarella.  I discovered that I am not a huge fan of fontina while grating it.  Next time, I might try gruyere.  Mmm.

Once the dough has risen, you hand stretch individual little pizzas.  Aren’t they cute?  Glaze them liberally with the garlic oil…

…then cover them with a healthy helping of the three cheeses and douse with more garlic oil.  If you have a pizza peel you could use that, but I just covered my baking trays in parchment paper and popped the pizzas on top.  They cook relatively quickly in the oven at 500 degrees.

Unfortunately it was dark in my kitchen when the pizzas came out of the oven, but they smelled amazing.

Look at all of that oozy bubbling cheese!

Top with arugula and a light lemon vinaigrette and you have… white pizza!

Go forth and make dough, gentle readers.


Happy Independence Day, all!

We are celebrating tonight with a delicious clafouti, courtesy of Christopher Kimball’s recipe.  In honor of America’s birthday, I used both cherries and blueberries, and it worked out quite nicely.

Hope everyone had a delicious weekend.

image


Gentle readers, I think you may enjoy this tasty tidbit: 

It’s Coming! Get 20% off your next Beauty.com order.

Perfect for a little pampering!  Who couldn’t use a new face wash, lipstick, nail polish… you get the idea, right?


This weekend, for the first time ever, I went to a drive-in burger place.  Yes, gentle readers, I went to Sonic.  And I have just one question.

Where have you been all my life, Sonic?

From the moment we pulled in, windows down to let in the sunshine, fresh air, and of course, to order, I knew that we were on to something good.

imageThe menu was huge.  HUGE, I tell you!

And it said they served breakfast all day.  Sonic, you had me at hello.

You had me at hello.

image

Not to mention that when I turned to the other side, there was a menu of ice cream drinks.  Sold.

image

You can customize your soda with flavor shots.

Diet cherry cola, anyone? 

image

I barely had time to watch the roller-blading waitresses whiz past and contemplate breaking out my own pair when we got home before my order arrived.
imageDue to a slight miscommunication when Mr. S.G. placed myorder, my request for no mayo wound up producing a lettuce-less burger.  Nonetheless, it was a pretty juicy cheeseburger for fast food.  Not as good as Five Guys, but definitely better than McDonald’s or Wendy’s.

image

And, can you get tater tots at other fast food places?  Clearly the answer is no.

And I clearly need to make Sonic my new fast food of choice.


As a confirmed procrastinator, my life’s motto is often better late than never.  And so it goes with this post, which I couldn’t quite get around to penning until now.

Two weeks ago, my sister and I put on short cocktail frocks, flashy heels, and purchased tickets to attend the Eat Pray Heal UNICEF fund raiser for Japanese tsunami victims.  Not only was it a party for a good cause, but it was being hosted by Top Chef contestants (cheftestants?) from across the seasons.  Needless to say, we jumped at the chance to nibble on hors d’ouevres prepared by the likes of Angelo, Hung, and Mikey Isabella.

We pre-gamed with a quick snack at Masala Times.  It was Kris’ suggestion and it proved fortuitous, as food proved a little sparse at the event (though the bar flowed freely.)

Masala Times is a ‘cheap and cheerful’ fast food-type Indian restaurant perfectly situated in close proximity to the NYU campus.  I enjoyed the cheeky Bollywood-themed decor and the opportunity to order something containing paneer.  Life is always better with cheese.

Underneath the naan bread, nestled aside rice and pickled onions (yum!) I promise there was paneer.  Coated in a masala spice blend.  And it was tasty.

Refreshed and renewed, we arrived at the Bowery Hotel a few minutes late.  I assumed we’d breeze right in.

Or not.

The Bowery event space was chic, with lots of exposed brick, iron chandeliers, and expensive worn furnishings.  We sipped on gingery drinks made with VeeV, touted as the world’s first alcoholic spirit made from açai, and engaged in covert maneuvers to locate and munch on the appetizers being passed around.

We also engaged in Top Chef-testant spotting, ogling not only the aforementioned chefs, but also Candice Kumai, Harold Dieterlie, Kevin Sbraga, Ariane, Dave Martin, and… drum roll please…

imageTop Chef All Stars WINNER, Richard Blais!  I swear that’s him. Really. I didn’t have the flash on.  He was very sweet and patient – it took Kris a minute to figure out how to use the camera on my phone, and he was very gracious as we gushed about how happy we were that he won this season of All Stars, etc. He’s one of my favorite contestants (besides Carla & Antonia- Hootie!) so it was a treat to speak with him.

image

Kris and I also bum-rushed Harold Dieterlie, who was graciously uncomfortable as we tag-team told him how much we love his restaurant, Perilla.  It went a little something like this:

Kris:  “We love Perilla!”

Me:    “Oh my God, we TOTALLY love Perilla!”

Kris:    “I mean, we REALLY love it!”

Me:      “Duck meatballs!!  Our Mom LOVES Perilla!”

Kris:     “She REALLY loves it!”

At this point, poor Harold graciously extricated himself (possibly fleeing to Perilla) and he ninja-flipped into the night.  As a side note, Kris and I could totally interview celebrities on the red carpet with our verbal acrobatics and scintillating commentary, no?

Celebu-chef stalking aside (restraining orders are another way of saying I love you, right?), it was a lovely night, the food was delish, and if you’d like to donate to the cause today is the last day that you can make a donation through Eat Pray Heal.  The relief efforts in Japan are still very much underway and rebuilding the communities that have been devastated will take years, so please do contribute if you can.

(And yes, Perilla really is that good.  Try the spicy duck meatballs.  Or the crispy calamari salad.  Or the fiddle head gnudi.  If they don’t convert you, I’ll finish them for you.)


More Posts


Mustard Pork Chops & Gnocchi in Cider Sauce
April 19, 2011

Mustard Pork Chops & Gnocchi in Cider Sauce

Waking up to Dark Chocolate
April 18, 2011

Waking up to Dark Chocolate

Little Red… Teapot
April 6, 2011

Little Red… Teapot

A Curried Cauliflower & Chickpea Stew
April 4, 2011

A Curried Cauliflower & Chickpea Stew

Ad Plugin made by Free Wordpress Themes