Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

 Subscribe in a reader

Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Add to Technorati Favorites


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

MCQ Listening Party

Delicious tomato, ricotta, eggplant bake.

We ladies love our libations!

Rum Apple Tart.

Bandmate Kelly and illustrious illustrator Lisa Webs came to 312 sq ft to listen to the first cut of the mastered tracks for Macaque's upcoming EP The Chinatown. We started off the evening with listening and sipping on delicious Kir Royals to celebrate this momentous step in the completion of our first release.

Listening Party Menu

Kir Royal

Warm White Bean Dip with Olive Rosemary Flatbreads
Camarones Bravas

Tomato, Eggplant, Ricotta Bake

Rum Apple Tart

Rum Apple Tart

1 Pâte Brisée
3 crisp apple such as Granny Smith peeled and sliced into 1/4 pieces
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons rum
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 apricot preserves
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pre-bake the tart shell at 400 degrees for 20 minutes with weights. Leave in pan and cool.
Put the oven heat down to 350 degrees.

In a small sauce pan, bring apricot preserves to a boil, remove from heat, add one tablespoon of the rum and strain to remove lumps. Brush the cooled tart shell with the aprico glaze. this will help keep the tart crisp and add some more flavor.

In a large pan, saute the apples with the butter and 3 tablespoons sugar for about 10 minutes or until they begin to soften.

For the custard, combine the eggs, cream, 1/2 cup sugar, one tablespoon of rum, flour and vanilla in a bowl and beat well.

Arrange the cooked apples in concentric circles in the pan and pour the custard over until it just covers the apples. You don't want it to over flow. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes until the custard is set.

Before serving, sprinkle the top with a generous amount of powder sugar and place under the broiler to caramelize and brown the tips of the apples. But don't argue about what wine you are going to drink next while you are doing this because you may end up with it becoming a "Blackened Cajun Tart"! Watch it carefully!

Welcome Home David!

David returned from his far east travels to regal me with tails of hiking in the Korean mountains and soaking in the ultra relaxing hot springs. He was on a two week trip to visit with family and friends. Of course, he said, the food was excellent, but no match for the cuisine at 312 sq ft. Thank you, David!

Welcoming David back with a simple after work supper of pesto with broccoli and shrimp and sending him with a loaf of zucchini bread and some left overs.

Simple Pesto

this is yields about 1 cup and it freezes really well
1 bunch (about 4-5 cups) fresh basil leaves
3/4 good cold press extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts or a combination
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Add the cheese later when you cook this up because the cheese won't freeze well.

Toast the pine nuts in a skillet and set aside to cool.

Put it all in a blender and puree until you get a nice thick sauce. I put it in ziplock bags to freeze and it will keep about 1 week in the fridge.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Last of the Summer Squash

At last it seems that fall is finally hitting New York City. After a protracted summer, the cooler temperatures have arrived and just in time for some baking and freezing for the winter months. I have been completely preoccupied with preparing The Annex (Octavio's new apartment!) ready for opening that I haven't been doing that much entertaining. But having to get rid of the rest of the summer zucchini I had left, I baked a batch of zucchini bread and baked a delicious frittata that I have been having for lunch and pawning off on my friends all week.

Zucchinni Bread

yields 2 loaves
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups grated zucchini
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two loaf pans.

Combine eggs and oil in bowl beating into a froth. Add vanilla and brown sugar stir well. Add in zucchini.

In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients and stir to make sure they are well distributed. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir for a nice batter. It will be lumpy.

Pour into pans and bake for about an hour or until it passes the Toothpick test.

Summer Squash and Taleggio Frittata

yield 1 9 inch frittata
1 onion chopped
2 small zucchinis sliced
2 garlic gloves minced
3 sprigs thyme
1 large tomato chopped
1/3 lb soft Taleggio cheese cubed
8 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 325. In a large cast iron skillet, heat oil over med-low heat and add the garlic, but do not brown. Add the onions and zucchini and cook until soft. It will take about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes near the end. You want them to retain their shape for the baking. Meanwhile, beat the eggs, cream, salt and pepper and remove the leaves of the thyme from the stalks and into the eggs mixture.

Once the zucchinis are soft, pour the egg over and dot with the cubes of soft cheese. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes. Then transfer to the broiler for about 3-5 minutes to brown the top of the frittata.

Serve warm or it is also good at room temp.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Elyssa Dido

Located on what used to be a very scary block of Orchard just above Grand St, amidst a real renaissance of boutiques and little cafes, is new North African/Mediterranean restaurant Elyssa Dido (85 Orchard St (212)991-9880).

A quick search on Wikipedia reveals that the name Dido is from the first Queen of Carthage, which is modern day Tunisia. The deco of the slim space is consistent with the Middle Eastern theme of the place. It is a small space but does have some out door seating for the warmer months.

Currently in the process of applying for a liquor license, Elyssa Dido is BYOB and serves up decent food.

Octavio and I have visited this place twice so far and have had good but not remarkable meals there. I live in the neighborhood and it is so nice to have more options that are a closer walk than just Vietnamese or noodle joints. We plan on making this a regular stop on our eating out circuit. It has been consistent and I love BYOB places.

On the most recent trip we had the Elyssa Cigars with vegetables which are a little like a Mideastern egg roll. Served on a bed of spicy arugula, they are very tasty. We also had the charcoal calamari which was also good but the portion was disappointing, there were only two squid under the lid of the tangine it was served in but the charmoula sauce was delicious sopped up on bread.

The entrees fared better. A seafood tangine was the highlight served with plenty of couscous on the side. Plenty of bay scallops, mussels, shrimp and squid in a saffron broth was satisfying and hearty. The seafood risotto was passable but it was a little runny and needed more salt than I like to add at the table.

The fennel crusted tuna was better. Not over cooked and the interesting twist of fried cauliflower on the side. The grilled salmon was also good. It's simple Mediterranean preparation was actually very flavorful and accented the meat of the fish.

Local pastries and mousses are on offer for dessert and don't pass up the Turkish coffee.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Farmers Market Feast

Wednesdays are a highlight of the week because of the farmers market that sets up shop near where I work. Right now the market is flush with late summer produce like heirloom tomatoes, early fall squashes and apples and of course fresh herbs and greens. I couldn't help but craft a lovely meal straight from the market.

Zucchini Fritters with Dill Yogurt Sauce

for four
2 medium Zucchinis grated
2 eggs
2 cups flour
4 sprigs of fresh thyme or oregano stripped from the stems
sea salt and pepper
1/2 cup grapeseed or vegetable oil

In a large bowl beat the egg with the salt and pepper and herbs, add the zucchini and then add the flour. Mix well. Drop the batter into the hot oil, press down to flatten a bit and cook for 4-5 minute each side until browned. Drain on paper towels.

For the Sauce:
1 cup whole milk yogurt (I use the Ronnybrook Farm Creamline Yogurt. This is hands down some of the best yogurt I have ever eaten and I love to get it every week)
2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Sea Salt and Pepper

Combine ingredients in a bowl and cover. Let refrigerate for at least half an hour to let the flavors mingle. Spoon generously over the fritters.

For this meal I also made a nice apple chutney with some Mitsu apples I got at the market. This compliments the sour, salty and richness of the fritters really well and adds a surprising tartness.

Star Anise Apple Cherry Chutney

4 tart crisp apples like Granny Smith or Mitsu
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 brown sugar
4-5 pieces Star Anise
3 1 inch piece of ginger peeled and minced
1 large yellow onion
Juice of one Lemon
1 cup of rice wine vinegar (or white vinegar)
1/2 teaspoon of white pepper
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

Chop the apples and toss with the lemon juice. Coat a large sauce pan with the oil and cook the onions until soft. Add the ginger, cherries and apples and warm. Pour in the vinegar and the sugars and combine. Add the star anise and seasonings. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes. Increase the heat to reduce the liquid for the last five and remove from heat.

This would also be great with lamb, duck or on turkey. It will keep in your refrigerator for about 2 weeks.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Oysters at Home

Since the weather has been unseasonably warm, we have been able to enjoy some summer treats well into the fall. One of Octavio and I's favorite weekend summer supper is to have fresh oysters at home. This week he picked up some briny East Coasters and we paired with a fresh green salad and a brilliant Cava.

I made a point to explore some cheeses from the new-ish Whole Foods on the Bowery which has a fromagerie. Whole Foods can be very pricey but the cheese is on par pricewise with a shop like Murrays or our two Brooklyn favs Bedford Cheese and Stinky Brooklyn. I picked up a creamy herb Tome Fluer Verte from France and an aged goat cheese from England that has a creamy texture some of the mustiness and a tart finish. It was so delicious when paired with some dried fruit. It was fun to visit the shop. The staff was helpful and I got to taste an interesting variety of cheeses. Definitely not a bargain but also not so expensive that you can't pick up some obscure regional artisanal cheese every once and a while.

Early October/ Late "Summer" Supper with Octavio


Cheese and Fruit Plate with fresh Rosemary Bread
Fresh East Coast Oysters on the Half Shell
Green Salad


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Indulgent Dinner for One

It's been a rough week on the job for me so I decided to indulge and really cook a nice meal for myself last night. During the week, when I am not having guests I usually eat well, but not "well". I will make a veggie stir fry or what I like to call Trash Can Cous Cous, which is where I root every veggie or piece of fish out the fridge and craft it into one spicy heaping mess. It sure does taste good though and leads to interesting ideas for later recipes.

Last night I wanted something rich and satisfying and more complicated than I would normally do for just one, but it came out very well and I will have to trot this out next time I have guest who eat meat over. Most of my friends and my boyfriend only eat fish, hence the seafood heavy menu here at 312 Square Feet. I marinated a lamb chop and made a kind of cherry and shallot confit for it with a wilted arugula salad. I cobbled together a recipe which is more a list of ingredients. You will have to play with it to see what works for more than one person.

Spiced Marinade for Lamb

For four Lamb Chops or one Leg of Lamb
2 garlic cloves
6 sprigs of thyme (pull the leaves off)
1/2 cup olive oil
juice of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
sea salt and pepper

Put the lamb chops in a casserole dish and pour the marinade over them. Turn them so they are completely coated. Cover and refrigerate up to 24 hrs or 45min at a minimum. You can turn them to make sure that they are getting an even coating.

I threw mine on my grill or you can broil them.

Cherry Shallot Compote

1 cup stock beef or vegetable
2/3 cup dried cherries
1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot chopped
1 tablespoon Madiera wine
sea salt and pepper

Cook the shallot in the butter until the shallot is soft. Add the cherries and warm. Add the salt, pepper, stock and Madiera. Cook for about 5 minutes over low heat until the cherries are plump. Raise heat and boil off most of the liquid. The cherries will release some red color and sugar to make a thick compote.

This is also great with roast duck.

Wilted Arugula Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon olive oil (sometimes I like to make this with bacon. So instead of oil reserve the bacon grease in the pan)
1/2 tablespoon mustard
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
sea salt and pepper

In a large fry pan, heat the oil or if using bacon, remove the chopped bacon bits and reserve the grease. Add the mustard, Balsamic and seasonings and heat quickly. Throw the greens in and remove the pan from the heat. Toss the greens in the pan until covered in the warm dressing and slightly wilted from the heat. Add the bacon bits back in, if using. Serve immediately.