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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Patatas Bravas

Another hot and steamy NYC night, the solution, an appetizer of fierce potatoes to light up your mouth and take your mind off the humidity. Cooling down with some Kiwi and White Peach Sangria, Octavio and I enjoyed a nice Thursday meal.

One of the things that I miss most about living in a small apartment without roof access or a yard is grilling. Especially in the summer. The George Foreman Grill is no substitute. What I have found is the Delonghi Perfecto indoor grill. This is about the width of my small range and is all cook top. It gets hot enough to leave char marks and if you put a little water in the catch pan it creates very little smoke. I use this to make grilled shrimp kebobs and the Rosemary Monkfish pictured above. You can get one of these for around $100. I got mine off of eBay for about $40 including shipping.

Patatas Bravas

I have had this in so many tapas bars. Here's my take on it!

4 good sized Russet Potatoes
3 ripe tomatoes
1 Vidallia Onion
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Juice of 1 lemon
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon of hot smoked paprika
1 fresh green chili (jalepño works)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Bunch fresh parsley
Sea salt and Pepper

For the potatoes, chop the potatoes in to 1 inch pieces and toss with salt, pepper and most of the olive oil. Roast for about 35 - 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

In a large sauce pan, heat up the 2 tablespoons olive oil, add the chopped garlic and chopped onions. Cook until the onions are just soft. Add the chopped and seeded tomatoes, tomato paste, chopped chili, sprigs of thyme, lemon juice and some salt and pepper. Cook until the tomatoes are soft. Add the seasonings and simmer until a good thick consistency. If you like things hotter as my boy friend and I do, add an extra half teaspoon of the hot smoked paprika. If you like things milder use the sweet smoked paprika instead of the hot. Remove the sprigs of thyme before serving.

Serve over the potatoes with a good helping of fresh parsley on top to balance the heat with some green!

Kiwi and White Peach Sangria

It's hot in the summer here! But since I live in Chinatown, I get access to some really interesting produce. In the summer, the white peach with it's more delicate flavor and less sweet taste is huge down here! So I incorporated it into a more asian influenced Sangria.

1 bottle dry white wine (I like to use a white Rioja like the Marques de Caceras)
1 white peach
2 kiwis
Juice of one orange, one lemon, and one lime
2 shots of triple sec
1 shot of lychee liqueur
ginger ale

Combine all the ingredients, except ginger ale into a pitcher and chill for at least 1 hour. Pour into glasses with plenty of ice and top off with a little ginger ale. Perfectly refreshing with the Patatas Bravas!

Rosemary Grilled Monkfish

for four
2 lbs Monkfish
6-8 fresh Rosemary sprigs
Extra virgin Olive Oil
Sea salt and pepper
Lemon for serving

Cut the Monkfish into three to four inch chunks and thread the rosemary sprigs through the fish. Season with a good helping of olive oil and salt and pepper. Grill, turning once until the fish is opaque. Serve with lots of lemon and a simple herbed salad.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Mediterranean Morsels

My boyfriend's mother was kind enough to send us some cook books of international cuisines. Since it is so hot in the city, creating a Mediterranean feast for Octavio and I seemed like a wonderful chance to adapt and experiment with some new tastes.

Adapted from the cookbook medeterraneo by Claire Ferguson, I created Provençal Pickled Beans and Red Snapper en Papillote. The verdict was the that pickles could have been tarter, so I added more vinegar, but that the fish was excellent.

Provençal Pickled Beans

8 small pearl onions
12 oz. Green Beans
2 tablespoons golden raisins
1 Lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sweet wine (I didn't have this so I used some Pama Pomegranate Liqueur which was excellent!)
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar (or more for more tartness)
1 fresh jalepeño sliced thin
1 teaspoon coriander seeds cracked
pinch of sugar
sea salt and pepper to taste

Cover the beans, raisins and onions with boiling water and simmer until the onions are just tender and the beans are crisp. Do not over cook. Refresh under cold water and pat dry.

Squeeze the juice of half of the lemon in bowl with the olive oil, chile, salt and pepper, coriander seeds, wine or liqueur, sugar and vinegar and whisk until well combined. Toss over the beans and and garnish with the other half of lemon.

An Idea of What I am Working with

I wanted to post a few pictures of my working and dining area so that you know that I am not exaggerating when I say that my place is pretty small. I have some very clever methods of dealing with the space! I put my dish rack over the the stove top. I have a lot of clever shelving and I am lucky that my kitchen is separate from the main living area. Most studios in this city have the kitchen right there.

For Christmas this year, I was privileged to receive a wonderful table that folds up to hide four chairs. I have it set up to deat two most of the time, as in the photo, but I have extended to seat 6 people!

And of course, here is the three legged mascot of 312 square feet, Ronnie-chan. She loves to eat lettuce and will get right up on the trash bin when I am making salads begging for a piece of lettuce to munch on.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Look to the Cookie

When my very best friend and band mate's Patriotic birthday rolls around, it is always a big to do. Since this was her second anniversary in New York City, I wanted to make it especially memorable. One of our favorite regional delicacies is the black and white cookie. Immortalized by Seinfeld as a delicious coming together of two cultures, it is not quite cookie and not quite cake. We have had some that were awful and some that we still can not forget.

To commemorate the cookie and my dear friend, I created a six layer Black and White Cake big enough for twenty or so people. It is a white butter milk cake layered with chocolate ganache and whip cream frosting.

Freshly baked.

Demolished! But you get a great view of all of the layers.

Savoring the fruits of my labor.

Black and White Cake

For the cake:
1 cup butter
3 cups sugar
2 cups buttermilk
4 cups cake flour*
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. lemon extract
6 egg whites

For the Whip Cream Frosting:
3 cups heavy cream (it is a lot but this is a big cake)
3 tbs. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the Dark Chocolate Ganache:
8 oz. Good Dark Chocolate chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tbs. butter

Fine dark chocolate to shave on the top of the cake

*A note on cake flour. You can substitute by sifting all purpose flour and lightly filling one cup. Remove 1 tablespoon and replace with 1 tablespoon corn starch. But I don't recommend it. Cake flour is ground finer and will result in a much lighter and fluffier batter.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Generous grease and flour 3 9 inch cake pans.

In large mixing bowl, combine the 3 cups of cream, 3 tbs. sugar and 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla and put in the refrigerator with the beaters and chill.

In a very large bowl, cream the butter, slowly adding the sugar. Alternate sifting (instead of one of those fancy and hard to clean sifters, I use a large mesh strainer ) in the dry ingredients with the buttermilk. Stir in the vanilla and lemon extract. In a none reactive bowl (I like chilled stainless steel), beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form (it's always longer than you think). Fold in the egg whites. Pour into the cake pans and back for 25-30 or until it passes the Toothpick Test.

Let the cakes cool completely before removing them from the pans or trying to work with them.

While they are cooling, make the ganache by putting the chopped chocolate in a stainless steel bowl. Combine the cream and butter in a sauce pan heat over medium heat until just boiling. Pour over the chocolate and let stand 5 minutes. Whisk until the desired consistency is reached. Since this is going to be a filling, let the ganache cool to room temperature.

Next, make the whip cream by beating the cream and sugar mixture with the chilled beaters until stiff peaks form. Put back in the fridge.

Now that the cakes are cool, we can begin the real task! Using a good serrated bread knife remove one of the cakes from the pan and put on a plate that you can turn. Work the knife in and saw the cake in half turning the cake around as you go. I find that this works best to keep the cake even. But since my oven is at an angle (tenement!) I have to shore up my cakes and even them out. Hopefully you won't have to do this.

Put the cake half on the plate, layer some ganache put the top on, layer with whip cream. Continue until you have all the layers. Pour any left over ganache on top of the cake and make your crumb layer around the outside. Chill for about 10 min and then frost the entire cake in whip cream! Grate some chocolate on top and celebrate!

Back Story

I live in a small studio apartment in lower Manhattan, Chinatown to be exact, hence the name of this blog. I live in 312 square feet with a cat. And I love to cook, bake and entertain. I've decided, with much prodding from my boyfriend and with inspiration from Cafe Drake to under take a blog posting my experiments, escapades, failures and success and how I did it all in such a tiny space.

One of the biggest success was hosting an international dinner party for visiting Fulbright Students and friends. 6 people and a huge pot of Tuscan Fish Stew!