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Friday, August 28, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Julie and Julia and Me

I absolutely loved this movie! If you haven't seen it yet, you have to! It's not a chick flick, it's not just for foodies, and it's definitely worth the extravagant price that we pay for movies these days.

First of all, Meryl Streep playing Julia Child was the most awesome choice. From this movie, I discovered what an amazing actress she is. The story line flowed so well between Julie Powell's life and Julia Child's life... the 2 hours and 3 minutes flew by!

Let me just make one comment. I read Julie and Julia, which is Julie Powell's memoir. I have not yet read My Life in France, which is Julia Child's story. I think I should have read My Life in France before seeing this movie because it was kind of a disappointment that the movie left out so much of Julie Powell's character and story. Amy Adams was good at playing Julie, but there weren't enough opportunities for her to show her real bitchiness that was portrayed in the book. I did appreciate Julia Child's part in the movie, though, so it definitely will push me to read My Life in France.

I loved how I related to Julie so much. Especially about the blogging. I get so excited when someone leaves me a comment! *hint hint*... I feel like a celebrity! I feel an obligation to my "readers", whoever they are, to write about my cooking, baking, and eating. Also, I love Julie's drive... the fact that she comes across so many obstacles and yet plows through them (of course with the help and support of her hubby) is just so amazing! In a world of hopeless, negative people, she has given me hope again!

Seriously though, what a beautiful movie. What beautiful people. I think both Julia Child and Julie Powell are such inspirational people (at least for me)! The inspiration lies beyond the fact that they pursue their passions of cooking and baking. It is really about why they did what they did. I will do my best and take action to find JOY in my life :-)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rick's Club American in Congers, NY

Congers sounds like such a far away place, but it's in Rockland County and it was only like a few minutes away from the Palisades Mall (which I frequent). The reason why I was in Congers is unclear, but I was in Rockland County because I was attending the Indigo Paradise Grand Opening Festivities later that night in Nyack.

After a quick trip to the Palisades, Ed and I drove around aimlessly to look for a place to eat dinner. The few towns that we drove through looked quite dead, and we decided that Congers would be the last town to venture into. If we found nothing, we would just eat somewhere in Nyack. But as we drove into Congers, the sign for "RICK"S CLUB AMERICAN" caught our eye.

It was a neon sign written in cursive with a palm tree. How can you ignore that? Also there was a huge "BBQ" sign along with it, and we get excited when we see those three letters. So we quickly pulled a U-ie (ummm how do you spell that?) and I ran in to grab a menu. They had everything! Unique and inventive appetizers and sandwiches, a healthy section, and of course the back of the menu was all about the Q. We decided we would drive a little more just in case there was some other place that sounded even more perfect. Plus we had a few hours until dinner hunger kicked in. But alas, we ended up at Rick's Club American.

As we were walked through by the waiter through the restaurant/bar to the back area, I got even more excited. It was packed with all different kinds of people. Big families, young couples, old couples, and parties. The place had "fun taxidermy"... aka colorful, plastic, animals and animal heads!!!! Then in the bar area was some nice fine art. Where was I? I was so confused!


Eww... there was real taxidermy too.

We were given a "Specials" menu along with the regular menu. I hate that! More choices! More indecisiveness! After a bajillion questions for our waitress, I decided on the Black Bean Burger on the specials and Ed of course got a bacon chee-burger.

I of course started off with a salad.

A simple Field Salad with Roasted Shallot Balsamic Vinaigrette on the side.

We waited patiently for our food and were presented with these:

O.....M.....G.... you cannot understand the monstrosity of this Black Bean Burger from this picture. It was bigger than the bigger-than-usual Kaiser Roll. Plus it came with an enormous amount of Sweet Potato Fries! On the side are Créme Fraiche and salsa. The Bean Burger was seasoned with mexican/southwestern spices and it was allllll beans! The best part though?

The panko crust! How awesome is that... usually veggie burgers are boring in texture but this one was crispy to the max!


And Ed's Angus Beef Burger with Bacon and American Cheese.

The fries were delicious. Super crispy too, just how I like them!



Mmmmmkay?



Haha, no I wasn't able to finish the whole thing, but it was really that good! I'll be back to try their ribs and stuff. Oh and their desserts looked awesome!

Rick's Club American *Their website has all the menus and pictures too!
100 Lake Road
Congers, NY 10920
Phone: (845)-268-8787

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Better-Than-My-Mom's Japanese Curry

As I have previously stated in my blog, I love my mom's cooking! There's nothing better. And one of my favorite childhood memories is me eating Karei Raisu (Curry Rice in Japanese) at the kitchen counter across from my mom with an Iceberg Lettuce Salad and Cupie Mayonnaise (yes, Japanese people put mayonnaise on salad... but it's Japanese mayo so its o.k. :-).

So, I really have never tried to make Karei Raisu myself, because why should I... my mom's is the best! I was surprised and felt kind of deceived when she told me that it really isn't that difficult to make Karei. Well, it's true, I know. Japanese Curry is usually made with a boxed roux, and all you have to do is sautée up some veggies and meat.

But now, it has also become Ed's favorite Japanese dish. So, being a "good" girlfriend, I decided that maybe I should know how to make his favorite meal? That's the least I could do to show him how much I love him! Oh, I'm so annoyingly in love! The feminist in me refuses to give in to being a stereotypical housewife, but I can't help it! Cooking and baking are my passions, so it's only natural for me to show him my love through my food!

So my adventure began. I've helped my mom make curry before, and I've made it once by myself (which I don't like to talk about because I couldn't believe I messed it up. My excuse is that the directions were in Japanese :-P). But this time, I was really determined to make the best damn Japanese Curry ever. And so of course I bought a boxed curry roux that had directions in English haha!

There are many brands out there for this special Japanese Curry dish. My mom used to swear by Kokumaro back in the day, but she told me to try something else because they are all good. So I went with the House Vermont Curry because it's been around forever and everyone knows it. Also, the "touch of apple and honey" part definitely won me over.

The roux comes in this little plastic tray in connected cubes. You can use as much as you want. I used half the box (which makes about 6 servings).

So to start:

I cut up 1/2 a large onion and 1 potato and sautéed it in a large saucepan in olive oil. I would've put carrots in too but I didn't have any!

Next:

I added the meat just to brown it a little. Now, I used Sukiyaki Meat (thinly sliced rib eye) only because I had some left over. Usually, you would use cubed meat (beef, pork, or chicken).

Then:

Add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Then put the heat on medium and let it simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes and onions are soft.

Finally:

Take it off the heat, and break the curry roux into cubes and disperse throughout the watery stew. Mix it around and return to the heat. Mix until the roux is all dissolved for about 20 more minutes on low. DO NOT PUT THE HEAT ON HIGH OR THE CURRY WILL BURN!


Then, of course, serve it over rice. I love hard boiled eggs in my Karei Raisu so I of course added that at the end. The thinly sliced beef was perfect. It was soft, and gave just enough "meat" to the dish (I usually don't care for the meat in curry, so this amount was perfect!).


Ed was in heaven. As was I. But I still want my mommy to make it for me :-)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Macarons and Such from Didier Dumas Patisserie

I was in Nyack with my mom because I was visiting my brother at his new job working as an "everything guy" at the new art gallery/cafe/music venue/hang-out spot, Indigo Paradise, right on Main Street.

I love Nyack because it's just so damn cute. It's also right by the water, and they have the best shopping... ANTIQUES! They also have SO many restaurants (mostly from the word of mouth of Liz Johnson's Small Bites)...

Now pastries are my thing. I love bakeries, and any kind of place that serves sweet things. Ed tells me that every town or place he mentions, I know of a famous/well-known bakery. And it's true! I'm always prepared so that if I ever venture out into a new place or accidentally end up somewhere, I'll know of somewhere to excite my taste buds!

In the back of my mind, I always had Didier Dumas Patisserie stored in my head for the next trip I took into the little town of Nyack. So after a nice lunch at Reality Bites Cafe (crappy IPhone pictures... summary- fun concept, concept is more exciting than the actual food, good rice pudding!), I headed over to the French patisserie. I didn't know what I wanted and I felt rushed as the place was quite busy (with lots of French customers!). One of the items that I do not see enough of in Westchester and the surrounding areas is the Macaron. I love them. I usually only get to eat them at the end of a French meal as a part of the petits fours. Therefore, I decided to get 2 macarons and a cookie.

The Chocolate Macaron

The Hazelnut Macaron

The Hazelnut Cookie with Almonds Dipped in Chocolate


I think bitten macarons make the most delicious looking food photos! The cookie part was light and crisp, and just enough chew. The inside cream was delicious, especially the hazelnut one! The hazelnut cookie was also delicious. The almond topping was nice and chewy and caramelly, and it was a shortbread bottom. I think I'm too critical of chocolate now though. Ever since experience the quality chocolate that Lulu uses, everything else tastes off! So the chocolate dip for this cookie was quite unimpressive :-)


Reality Bites Cafe
100 Main Street
Nyack, N.Y. 10960
Phone: (845)-358-8800

Didier Dumas Patisserie
163 Main Street
Nyack, N.Y. 10960
Phone: (845)-353-2031

F.Y.I.- Indigo Paradise is having its Grand Opening festivities on August 22, 2009 at 8:00 PM. Live music, food, and drinks!

Indigo Paradise
168 Main Street
Nyack, N.Y. 10960
Phone: (845)-512-8869

Barbecue Is Non-Existent In An Apartment

So... I've never owned a grill. I've always envied people who lived in houses and/or apartments that allowed grills. Because mine doesn't. So I've always loved the ideas of barbecues and grilling because I could never do it myself.

And what did I do when I was craving barbecued stuff? Burgers and hot dogs were easily accessible because everyone does it. But what about ribs and all that good stuff?! No one I know ventures into that realm. And Ribs-On-The-Run on Central Avenue in Yonkers is quite nasty.

So I told Ed about my craving, and of course he was all in to help me to create something close to the real thing. In fact, I don't think I've ever had like real ribs, or anything good at least. All I know is that I like tender meat falling off the bone smothered in a rich sauce. Smokiness is preferable but I figured that was like impossible in the tiny area of my apartment kitchen.

Slow Cooker is the answer.

I started off by making the BBQ sauce. Canned tomatoes and garlic into the saucepan.


Then add Japanese style Worcestershire Sauce (a.k.a. Vegetable and Fruit Sauce/Tonkatsu Sauce), Hot Sauce, and, Cowboy Steak Rub (by Rub with Love... has stuff like brown sugar, cumin, etc.).


And the secret ingredient that I didn't tell Ed until after eating because he hates it... MUSTARD POWDER! *mixed with cold water


Well actually before starting the sauce, I stuck the ribs (salt and peppered) in the toaster oven (because my regular oven is still broken, ugh) to brown. 350 degrees for 30 minutes, turned halfway.


Then, after your sauce is created (I totally improvised my sauce), layer the bottom of the slow cooker with the ribs.

Then pour the sauce all over the ribs and make sure all the ribs are covered. Cook on lowest heat setting for 6 hours.

I flipped the ribs over after every 2 hours. But towards the end, the meat was getting soft so I was very careful when doing so.

While these were cooking, I made a few sides. Purple and red new potatoes from Fishkill Farms, simply roasted with oregano, salt, and pepper.

Also, some easy peasy frozen veggies cooked with salt, pepper, basil, and garlic.

The end product?

I know I get really vulgar when I like the way something tastes at the first bite. But this one was intense. I grunted. I cursed. And I thanked God. The ribs were awesome. Try it. It's so easy!

Monday, August 10, 2009

I Know Who Grew My Fruits and Veggies!

So I really wanted to take part in the Westchester Farmers' Market Blog-a-Thon, that took place from August 3rd to the 7th, but I didn't find out about it until I had missed the Farmer's Market that I wanted to go to! Some of the other Westchester bloggers that participated were Ceramic Canvas (I think she coordinated it), Chick In The Kitchen, Cooking in Westchester, Culinary Comments by Cinnamon Girl, Small Bites, Somebody's Mom, and Sweet Paprika. I never knew some of these Westchester bloggers even existed so it was exciting to read what these local people were cooking/eating!

So instead of sulking, I shall show you some of the things that I made with local ingredients from Fishkill Farms (from that trip last Saturday).


What did I do with these delicious tomatoes?

I made a sandwich with guacamole of course! A few nights later, I also made a BLT... YUM!


And for breakfast? Fresh peach and blueberries with Greek yogurt and cinnamon... super sweet!


And for dessert, milk blended with frozen peaches and nectarines :-)
I froze a bunch of the ripe peaches and nectarines to makes these delicious beverages!

My focus was definitely to just highlight the natural deliciousness of these fruits and vegetables. I love heavily seasoned dishes but it would've been such a shame to undermine the already beautiful flavors of these fruits and vegetables!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Kyo-Ya, My Third Time

I can say that Kyo-Ya is definitely one of my favorite restaurants. The past two times I've been there, I left completely impressed and in awe of the perfection and uniqueness of each dish. This is my mom's favorite restaurant and she's always bugging me to go... so we went last night.

Let me just tell you that you have not completely experienced Kyo-Ya until you have had their Seasonal Tasting Menu. It occurred to me that I'd only had items off their A La Carte menu! I remember hearing about this place after my mom ate here for the first time. She had had the Seasonal Tasting Menu and she was just crying with excitement. So this time was my first time doing the tasting menu :-) You HAVE to tell that if you want the tasting menu when you make the reservation (at least 2 days ahead!) and there's a limit of how many people can have the tasting menu per night.

As we got sat down at the bar counter (right in front of the sushi chef/main man!) we were immediately given a printed menu of what we were going to be served for the night.

First, we got our beverages. I usually order tea when I go there so I did again... It was a chinese Jasmine Tea. The flower blossoms!


Then, we were immediately served the first of a few amuse bouche type dishes.

Unagi Arimani- Eel cooked with Arima Sansho served with Rice Puff


Followed by the Senryo Eggplant Somen- Eggplant Nooodles in a cold Dashi Broth


The official "Amuse of the Day" was Okayu (rice porridge) with Uni and Awabi topped with Kombu


The final small dish... Baby Ayu Kotsuzake Soup- Baby "Ayu" Sweet Fish in Sake flavored Ayu Broth


The best part- Sashimi of the Day- Chef's Selection


Today's Grilled Fish and Grilled Duck and Seasonal Vegetable on a hot stone- With a miso sauce for the duck and a pepper vinegar sauce for the fish


Morokoshi Shinjo- Sakura Shrimp Mousse Stuffed Corn with Bekko Broth


Koko Tomato Kuzu Manju- Tomato Jelly Ball with "Junsai" Water Shield in Vinegar Sauce


And, as an in between dish, my mom and I had to order the Dashimaki Tamago... it was my favorite last time!


The Finale... Seasonal Kamadaki Rice (Anago and Gobo) Cooked in a Clay Pot- Red Miso Soup and Pickles of the Day





Finish if off with the lightest dessert... Hoji Tea Roll Cake with Shiso Basil Sorbet


Just an F.Y.I.- each dish was tiny tiny! So there was a lot of variety but the portions were perfect enough to enjoy every bite to the end!
The simplest of flavors combined with the freshest ingredients is what works.

Kyo-Ya (Menupages)
94 E 7th St (@ 1st Ave)
New York, NY 10079
Phone: 212-982-4140

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fishkill Farms

Fruit Picking 2009 at Fishkill Farms!
Peaches
Nectarines
Blueberries!

I had trouble picking what farm to go to to go fruit picking, and I actually decided on going to Lawrence Farms in Newburgh, NY but the traffic on 287 was horrendous! So mid-trip, we switched highways and went up to Hopewell Junction, NY to Fishkill Farms!

The place is absolutely gorgeous. The land is open and so hilly. You can see all the mountains and the landscape was beautiful! To top it off, the farm itself was so quiet. Only a few families were there, as opposed to the other farms I've been to where the place is swarming with little kids screaming their heads off because they want to ride the ponies :-)


First, we sat on the porch area, right outside of their little cafe (which is part of their market), to have our packed lunch.


We then went on to explore the fruit.

Blueberries

Peaches (most of them were conquered by the bees!)

White Nectarines

After we were satisfied with the amount of fruit we got, we went into the market for veggies and sweets!

New Potatoes

Oriental Eggplant

Tomatoes

Sugar Cinnamon Apple Cider Doughnuts

Chocolate Chip Cookie

All these vegetables were grown on this farm :-) So far, I can tell you that the tomatoes and basil (which I forgot to photograph) were delicious. Oh and the blueberries were so sweet. Oh.... and of course the doughnut...

MMMMMMMMKAYYYY?!

Oh and one more...

I love you :-)

Fishkill Farms
9 Fishkill Farm Road
Hopewell Junction, NY 12533
Phone: (845)-897-4377