Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Maybe Someone Could Teach Me To Write About Texture

I had no idea there were classes to hone food writing, blogging and reviewing skills. There is even a food writing related class on food history! But the whole thing with this "food blog" is that I'm not committed; I don't even post regularly. Classes are kinda expensive and would go against that. On the other hand the reviewing one promises to teach you to not describe things as delicious (so guilty of that!)... Hmm. I guess this goes to show you can study anything!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ziti with Tuscan-Style Cauliflower

I knew I wanted to make something with Cauliflower last weekend, but didn't know what. Soup was my first thought since my stockpile of broth was/is taking up most of the space in our petite fridge, but all of my bookmarked soup recipes called for expensive extra ingredients i.e. blocks of cheese, creme fraiche, wine, and all that good stuff. I could have roasted it, which reminds me of healthier popcorn, but it would have only filled me up for a night.

No good. I wanted an economical meal option. Once again the internet solved my problems by turning up a recipe for Ziti with Tuscan-Style Cauliflower. I purchased the ingredients for a half portion, which actually resulted in four meals. I don't know what kind of servings they think people need!

Once the cauliflower was cut, the dish was quick and easy to put together. I couldn't taste the mint (at least it added color), but the hint of red pepper provided a pleasant kick to a simple, satisfying meal. I blocked out the ziti part when purchasing ingredients, illustrated below, but followed the recipe exactly otherwise. I would highly recommend it, especially as for the second week in a row Lauren found something I cooked appetizing in appearance.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Shredded Brussels Sprouts and Apples

I finally made it to the Greenmarket a few weekends ago for the first time in months. When hauling my groceries home, I realized why I really should stick to visiting irregularly or at the very least stick to my shopping list. Everything is so tempting that I end up grocery shopping like the apocalypse is coming.

Does one person really need a 3 pound bag of apples, a full stalk of brussel sprouts, 4 pounds of chicken, etc.? Not so much. Oh well! At least I put the ingredients to good use. My successfully met cooking goals for the week were making from scratch shredded chicken and veggie soup (needed salt but otherwise decent), chicken broth, pumpkin bread, and Shredded Brussels Sprouts and Apples.

As I had never purchased brussel sprouts on the stalk cutting them off without cutting myself was a bit of an adventure. While my bravery with trying new dishes has improved over time, I haven't gained knife skills. In spite of this the brussel sprout dish was a success. I'll definitely make it again, probably using pre-cut brussel sprouts, as it was refreshing, light and filling. My co-worker Lauren actually thought it looked tasty, which never happens, and I felt healthy eating it.

My favorite aspect was the maple syrup browned tofu, a unique preparation that I suspect could be used in other dishes.

nagomi

Last Friday my friend Matt was in town and we caught up wandering from TriBeCa to Soho to the UES. It was a great night; Matt is the first person I really traipsed around restaurants with back in Richmond during college. We used to act like we were writing reviews using as much alliteration as possible. Our servers loved us.

One of my less inspiring temp jobs when I first moved to Manhattan was in Soho. As a treat for calling 600 people that I didn't have direct phone numbers for about an event, I decided to treat myself to lunch. "Extensive" research about sushi and lunches under $10 brought me to nagomi. I walked over, ordered the lunch special (some rolls and miso soup), and went to pay with my credit card. Guess what? nagomi doesn't take credit cards if you are spending less than $10. I was a dollar or so short. Embarrasing, but they were very kind and let me keep my food, which was delicious. So I always meant to go back and pay in full for a meal...

Cue being in Soho on Friday night craving sushi. Matt and I stopped in around 8:00 pm, were seated immediately, and ordered promptly. We started with edamame. nagomi's is served hot and with the perfect amount of salt and then split 5 different rolls. Everything was fresh and as tasty as I remembered it being 2+ years ago. As always I loved the eel cucumber roll, but was pleasantly surprised by the spicy scallop roll. It wasn't a marshmellow of the sea served this way but it worked well with the spice. Also interesting was the squash roll, which tasted completely different depending on whether or not you dipped it in soy sauce.

It was a great meal, although the service could have been more attentive, and I'll definitely return if my location and timing is right. Our bill also included a sapporo and was under $50. Not bad.

Location: 179 Prince Street (Between Thompson and Sullivan)
Hours: Mon-Sun Dinner, Lunch Mon-Fri
Cost: $$$

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Instead of Eating to Diet, They’re Eating to Enjoy

Yesterday in the NY Times, there was a great article: Instead of Eating to Diet, They're Eating to Enjoy. A few quotes from an already short article...


The percentage of those consumers who are on a diet is lower than at any
time since information on dieting was first collected in 1985.

Resources reported that 53 percent of consumers say they are cooking from
scratch more than they did just six months ago, in part, no doubt, because of
the rising cost of prepared foods.

“We need to demystify cooking,” Ms. Waters said. “It creates feelings about
food that make you feel cared for, and that’s the kind of food that really
changes habits.”

Also, the more time people spend on tasks like food shopping, cooking and
kitchen cleanup, the more likely they are to be of average weight.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Cherry Tomato Clafoutis

I don't know how you say Clafoutis, but I assume it kind of rhymes with delicious. This recipe for Cherry Tomato Clafoutis is one of my favorite breakfasts to date. I was so excited to see a savory recipe for it instead of sweet that I made it as soon as possible.

As I had feta cheese on hand from one of the zucchini recipes last week, I used it as my cheese. I also substituted egg whites for one of the three eggs. The result was similar to my Mom's german pancake, but thicker and with a richer flavor. It reheats perfectly, although I liked it so much that there wasn't too much to reheat. The nice thing is it doesn't collect condensation on top like so many other breakfast dishes I have made...

I'm definitely going to make this again. It provides a nice break from my muffins and breads. I think eggs are technically a healthier breakfast anyway.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Beet and Buttermilk Soup

In the spirit of a frequently too hot summer, I have decided to start experimenting with cold soups. As eating beets cold was what made me learn to love them in the first place, I thought this recipe for Beet and Buttermilk Soup was a perfect place to start.

Once I tracked down buttermilk, it was ridiculously simple to put together and required minimal use of the stove. Something my roommates were bound to appreciate.

The buttermilk does an excellent job of cutting the sweetness typically found in beet dishes and the dill adds a unique flavor. Unfortunately it also reminds me of delicious Kosher Dill chips, which I haven't had in years and have no idea how to track down. Sigh. The magenta color is unique and garnered lots of compliments. It also made for a disaster with a pair of khaki capris; they were on the way out anyway, so I wasn't devastated.

If there was an appropriate occasion, I would probably make this soup again... Otherwise, I am just going to keep trying other recipes to find cold soup that tastes half as good as the carrot soup from June.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Zucchini Recipes (for Jaime)

Earlier this month, Kalyn posted an entire blog entry on using up zucchini, which might help. I tried the Roasted Zucchini with Green Onions, Feta Cheese and Basil this week. It has a good flavor, but is a little juicy for my taste. I also found it to have an intense aftertaste/effect, which I never appreciate.


I also tried a variation on this Zucchini Carpaccio this week. I have had it bookmarked since it was posted last July...I'm glad I got around to trying it. As I don't have a food processor or mandolin and tend to be lazy about food aesthetics, I made it into a salad with thicker (but still thin) pieces of zucchini and carrots. The combination of flavors is great and it doesn't require you to heat up the oven. Win!

I also have this recipe for zucchini strand spaghetti bookmarked to try and am tempted by the zucchini recipes that were covered in Animal, Vegetable, Mineral.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Broken Computer

I am still lazy but my current reason for not posting here is that I broke my computer! Or, rather, something I downloaded unintentionally without any awareness broke my computer. When it fixes, I will resume my semi-regular posts.

Monday, July 7, 2008

What's in Season in NYC?

Time Out New York always has a handy listing of what is available seasonally at Green Market. I forget about it and then remember. So glad summer is here! There are so many more tasty food options - berries, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc.!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Blue Fin

Last Monday my former co-worker, Scott, who taught me all my initial event planning knowledge, was in town staying at the W in Times Square. He is starting an environmentally friendly clothing company specializing in kid's clothes and had a meeting with the factory reps from India. I love how entrepreneurial he is. We were going to meet for drinks, but ended up doing dinner at Blue Fin. Thank God as I was starving and don't have a tolerance at all.

He started with the Yellowtail Ceviche as his appetizer and insisted I taste it. It was beautifully presented and decently flavored, but it was surprisingly dry for ceviche. Having first encountered this dish in Ecuador, I suspect I have abnormally high expectations. Our entrees were much better.

He had the Wild Striped Bass with Lobster Risotto, Melted Leeks, and Lemon Sweet Peas; it was very rich (buttery) and light at the same time. The peas made it feel like a summery dish. I had the Chilean Bass (bad for the environment, I know!) with Artichokes, Dates, and I can't recall what else as it has been removed from the menu...with good reason as it seemed heavy for June in spite of the delicious flavor. Both fishes were perfectly cooked.

We split the most creative dessert on the menu, a variation on a smore:
chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, and graham cracker ice cream. The chocolate aspects and the strange marshmallow-like, yet not at all, topping didn't do anything for me. The ice cream was very unique though and given the option I would order that part of this dessert again. It tasted more like marshmallow than the topping but was actually vanilla rolled in graham crackers, which gave it a unique, crisp effect.

The W is so chic. I'm glad I got to check it out! My favorite part of what I saw was the lobby; it was completely surrounded, ceiling too, with a waterfall/fountain type thing that created wonderful shadows on the floor. I totally want to stay at a W one day. I'm sure they can't compare to the Le Meridien in Cyprus, but it is a much more reasonable goal.

Location: 1567 Broadway (at 47th Street)
Hours: Sun-Mon 7:00a-11:00p, Tues-Thurs 7:00a-11:30p, Fri-Sat 7:00a-12:00a
Cost: $$$

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Vanilla Vanilla Mini Cupcakes

To celebrate my friend Meg's birthday a few weeks ago and my new mini-muffin tin, I made cupcakes for the first time in over a year. In an attempt to be on time to the party and use ingredients I already had I decided to stick with vanilla, which is my favorite anyway.

This strategy didn't work out...I still went to the grocery store and was a good hour late for the party. Fortunately, the cupcakes made that excusable!

I used Tartelette's listed recipe and switched out the listed frosting for the matching frosting from the Magnolia Bakery cookbook.
I chose yellow coloring for the icing as that is Meg's favorite color to wear in the summer (I think). I don't recall liking the resulting frosting in the past, but this time it was very good. I think the trick is to be very cautious when adding the confectioner's sugar. My frosting was much softer than in the past and retained a tasty butter flavor.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Dell'Anima

When UrbanDaddy sent around notification that Dell'Anima served ricotta pancakes, I was sold for the aforementioned reasons. I immediately contacted Kimberly, who fell in love with ricotta pancakes at a different upscale hotel on a business trip, and we made plans to go. It only took scheduling a month and a half out... She, Catherine, and I finally went a few weeks ago. The restaurant is tiny, very intimate and cozy. The staff is friendly and the service attentive. But the best part is the food...

The meal is served family-style with generous portions and complimentary, fresh bread served with ricotta cheese, pine nuts, and olive oil. We opted for three selections ($14) instead of six ($18) and enjoyed ricotta pancakes, scrambled eggs, and an arugula salad. The ricotta pancakes were great, but the real standout was the eggs. They were thick, pillowy clouds just like my Grandpa Sweetiepie used to make. I reveled in them. I had not encountered eggs that good since he passed away a few years ago. The salad was refreshing compared with the weight of the other choices; it was dressed with a lemon vinaigrette, fresh pepper and parmesan cheese. Personally, I could have done with less fresh pepper since arugula has a peppery flavor on its own but it was still good.

I would love to go back for a different meal, but that might be a while as it is a bit pricey. In the meantime, anyone want to go for aperitivo? It is Friday through Sunday from 4-6 pm... The food is free with your drink. :)

Location: 38 Eighth Avenue (at Jane Street)
Hours: Mon-Sun 5:30p-2:00a
Cost: $$$

Monday, June 30, 2008

Raspberry Ricotta Babycakes

When I saw the recipe for Mixed Berry Ricotta Babycakes, I knew I had to make them. Since planning an event at Shutters on the Beach a couple years ago and experiencing their lemon ricotta pancakes with raspberries and syrup, I have yet to find a comparably delicious breakfast. My assumption was these muffins would replicate the experience without all the work involved in making pancakes.

They come pretty close!
I had to bake them for 25 minutes, slightly longer than suggested. They puffed up beautifully just out of the oven and are a beautiful golden brown. My muffins were not as light as a pancake, which could have been an over stirring issue, but they had the same texture with the hint of ricotta. The muffins feel substantial, but I suspect they won't hold me over until 1:00 pm for lunch as they do not contain any fiber or protein.

Regardless, I
can't wait to make other variations or to just add lemon to another raspberry batch.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cilantro Hummus

After purchasing the biggest bunch of cilantro ever for $1.50 at Green Market, I was forced to find a creative way to use a lot of it at once before it went bad. This simple recipe for Lime Cilantro Hummus was perfect.

I don't have a food processor, but my hand held blender wand worked fine to process the ingredients. My only other substitution was lime juice from a squeeze bottle instead of lime zest and fresh squeezed juice.

The resulting flavor was amazing (I LOVE cilantro) and the whole process took maybe 20 minutes. I will definitely revisit this and make my own hummus moving forward. To make the lime flavor more pronounced, I might even follow the directions next time.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Stand

Last week Jaime and I met at Stand, a restaurant that has been on my list for a very long time. While I would have loved to try a burger, I mostly wanted to go for a milkshake. As I was too full from lunch at Michael Jordan's The Steakhouse N.Y.C., which I will write about eventually (maybe), to have anything else it was just as well.

Jaime, however, did have the house burger. The unique elements were the onion marmalade (really just grilled onions) and blue cheese house sauce. She said the burger was good, but I couldn't handle a bite. I did try a bit of the sauce with a fry or two and wasn't too impressed. Jaime loved it though. As for the fries they were quality - crispy and golden brown. Per the recommendation of the server, we went with the regular version instead of the shoestring.

I ordered the Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake, their most popular one, and was very impressed with the marshmallow/vanilla flavor and consistency. The presentation was adorable as you can see below and almost makes it trump the all natural (I think) milkshake at Caracas Arepas Bar. It can't actually win as I'm partial to fresh coconut over most things. They also had other flavors I would go back and try: honey lavendar, pistachio and ricotta, etc.


Location: 24 East 12th Street (between University Place and 5th Avenue)
Hours: Mon-Sun 12:00p-12:00a
Cost:
$

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mini Spinach Frittatas / Egg Muffins

A few months ago I made these breakfast muffins, which in spite of what I said I haven't revisited. Having found a much better egg muffin, I no longer have any intention of revisiting the cottage cheese version.

The ingredient list is much shorter for these egg muffins and the texture doesn't leave me wondering what to think. They are basically personal mini-quiches; the possibilities are endless. I have made the spinach frittata version. I've made a cilantro, red onion, and cheddar cheese version (pictured below). The results are consistently good and eggs for breakfast are ideal.*

For reheating, I recommend toasting them in the toaster oven rather than microwaving or they seem wet.


*I still prefer standard muffins, breads, and even cake though.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Café Fiorello

Back on June 3rd, my former co-worker, Linda took me to see New York City Ballet and for dinner at Café Fiorello. She saved me from melting into a stressed out disaster in my last job and her generosity knows no end. An evening with good company, food, and ballet can't be topped for me.

I started with the Stracciatella (Italian Chicken Soup). It was my first time having this soup! I wasn't sure that I needed an appetizer, but I'm glad I tried it. The spinach and poached egg make for a nice presentation and the soup has a rich, unique flavor. I'm looking forward to replicating it at home when the cooler weather returns. If only I knew this existed during my trip to Italy...then again hot soup in July would have been a bit much.

For our entree, we shared the "F.Ill Luppi" Prosciutto di Parma Pizza. I don't know how they did it, but this pizza was unlike any other I have had. The crust was thinner than a cracker, soft, and yet firm. Though I was full I could not resist scooping up slice after slice. The aged bsalmic vinegar was a perfect complement to "fior di latte mozzarella, shaved parmigiano," and prosciutto.

I definitely would consider returning here pre-Lincoln Center events, if I felt like splurging and had remembered to make a reservation. The restaurant always seems packed!

Location: 1900 Broadway (between 63rd and 64th Streets)
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30 a-1:00a, Sat 10:00a-1:00a, Sun 10:00a-11:30p
Cost:
$$$

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pizza with Fresh Mozzarella, Proscuitto, Basil, and Cherry Tomatoes

I was a little hesitant to tackle pizza from scratch after my struggles with this Pizza Bianca the other weekend. But a trip to Little Italy for fresh mozzarella, the greenmarket for basil and cherry tomatoes, and too many delicious food blog posts about pizza lately left me determined to try again.

I decided to try this recipe and to start *gasp* at the reasonable time of 4:30 pm. I actually had dinner done by 7:00 pm. The whole process could not have been easier and the resulting pizza was delicious. It didn't seem to be as filling as the $2.25 slices available all over though. Maybe my metabolism is up today?

Next time I will definitely use tomato sauce as a base and/or or more toppings. I needed more flavor. I can't wait to try other variations now that I have a "go to" recipe in my repertoire.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble

When I made Apple Crumble a few months ago what I wanted, without knowing it, was this dish. As often is the case, good things are worth waiting for.

This my first experience with rhubarb and I wasn't sure what to expect. Raw it reminds me of something you could use to brush your teeth. I can't explain that. It is bitter and seems to have an astringent quality to it. When cooked it retains most of its shape, but breaks down into a stringy, soft texture.

When I took some of this Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble home for my parents to try, I insisted you couldn't taste the rhubarb in the final dish. My Mom who dislikes rhubarb did not agree. She did agree, however, that this was a great crumble recipe. I can't wait to make it with other fruits as they come into season.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Palak Paneer, Two Ways

In college Jim insisted we go for Indian food one night; I wrinkled my nose, protested lightly, and then sucked it up. I had experienced an Indian buffet in Arlington, Virginia toward the end of high school and was not impressed with the cumin and anise seeds I kept encountering. The flavors were too intense. Thank goodness for Jim though! That night I discovered one of my favorite dishes to date Palak Paneer (and Naan, of course).

When my Mom visited this Fall, we made Palak Paneer from scratch, even the paneer. Do you know how long it takes to bring milk to a boil?
I was proud of the accomplishment and it tasted good, but I will likely never do it again as savoring the dish in a restaurant with naan makes more sense. Then again I did discover pre-made paneer, unpriced, at Whole Foods. It might be worth checking out...


In the meantime, I will continue to make the version I discovered in college. It requires half the effort and produces similar results. Just be careful not to simmer out too much of the sauciness or you'll end up with the version depicted below - tasty and a little off.


This dish is very rich, pretty healthy because of all the spinach, and best served with rice to tone down the spiciness.

Carrot Soup from the 1977 edition of Moosewood Cookbook

I bought a bunch of fresh, sweet, orange carrots the other week with the goal of making soup. Unfortunately, it was a busy week and they became flaccid and inedible. I saved the bookmark for the Moosewood Cookbook's Carrot Soup for another day.

I'm really glad I did. This soup is easy to put together and the richest vegetable soup I have eaten to date. It ends up looking like an intense, cheddar cheese soup. The soup is great hot or cold too, which is handy as Summer has arrived. I stirred in sour cream and opted to add fresh ginger.

I love that the recipe is flexible, so you can use whatever add-in you have on hand. Definitely making this again.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pizza Bianca

The hours spent making Pizza Bianca were tedious and fraught will concern. Nothing seemed to be going right. I probably should have halted the production when I couldn't find instant dry yeast, but once I get an idea I stick to it until the bitter end.

I halved the recipe, substituted active dry yeast decreasing the water to reflect the water used to proof the yeast, and struggled to get the dough to come together. I resorted to adding tablespoons of water until a mass formed. I think it took around four. The process is a little bit fuzzy as it was so drawn out.

In the end, I escaped a cooking disaster and the dough rose nicely, twice as required by the recipe. When the second rise finished at 1:00 am I really was not in the mood to eat Pizza Bianca, so I decided to go out on a limb and let it sit overnight. If I let dough sit overnight again, I will cover the dough with saran wrap to prevent it from drying out instead of using a clean dish towel. My Pizza Bianca looked a little like dinosaur skin, but tasted great.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Spinach and Green Garlic Soup

While making Molly's divine Spinach and Green Garlic soup, I was excited to realize everything going into the soup was fresh from Greenmarket or something I made. Last year I was busy freaking out about using chicken thighs instead of breasts, because they were so fatty. I never imagined I would handle whole chickens or make my own broth from scraps. One of the biggest pleasures I have found in cooking is knowing exactly what goes into my food...that and how methodical it is.

This soup is simple to put together and is very satisfying. It just feels fresh. I replaced the baby spinach with regular spinach as it was less expensive and easier to find. If you do this, I advise spending a bit of extra time removing the stem and veins. My only complaint is that the soup separates when refrigerated.

Next time, I plan to use more spinach so I get to get the beautiful jewel green swamp monster effect displayed in Molly's pictures.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Lemon Yogurt Anything Cake

I was so excited my new 9" square cake pan and juicer arrived today as it meant I finally could make this Lemon Yogurt Anything Cake. Back when I saw Smitten Kitten's post I immediately bought an organic lemon, Wyman's frozen wild blueberries, and Ronnybrook Farms Whole Milk Yogurt only to realize I was missing those crucial baking implements.

Actually my pan had rusted and was forced into early retirement. Anyway, sometimes I just get ahead of myself. Like now I'm really, really tired and I have lots of other cooking to write about, but I just have to rave about this cake this very minute before I go to sleep eagerly anticipating eating more for breakfast in morning.

Between putting it together during Gossip Girl's commercial breaks, trying to use two tablespoons of baking powder NOT two teaspoons, and scooping sugar onto the floor instead of the measuring cup I can't believe it turned out. I suppose that tells you how easy it is. As I rushed off to my room to make sure I didn't miss the (anticlimactic) big plot development, my roommate pointed out we had a tv in the living room that would have made my life easier. Why didn't I think of that?

This cake is perfect; the best cake-bread-muffin I have made to date. It is light, fluffy, moist, and delicately flavored. I already, like a glutton, ate three little slices. I can't wait to try other variations. Don't miss out. Make it now.


Monday, May 5, 2008

Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter

I have had this recipe for Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter bookmarked since Laura found it in, oh, I don't know, 2004? I finally made it this week and I'm so glad I did. The dish took less than 45 minutes to prepare, which is a kitchen miracle in my book, and it used asparagus. In the spirit of attempting to eat locally, I am enjoying asparagus while it is in season.

One my favorite college memories was sophomore year dinners (never mind that I no longer am in touch with 2 of the 3 other participants). On occasional Fridays, Beth, Roxanne, Renee and I would cook a fabulous dinner, drink a box of Franzia, and then either go watch the free movie in the Commons or force our neighbors to have a dance party. Yeah. The guys next door loved that. Or at least they did the one night I managed to split my jeans. The food was always great and by the end everything was amusing. Anyway, Beth pointed out that asparagus makes your pee smell at one of these dinners and it is true. For a long time I avoided eating asparagus, but now I just figure it is temporary and really who else is affected by the smell? No one. Back to this dish now that I have ruined your appetite.

The flavors blend well together - the sauce is slightly sweet, the pasta is nutty, and the asparagus adds a pleasant firmness. I actually reduced the butter by half without any trouble. It reheats okay, but would be best to eat in one go.


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Raspberry-Stuffed French Toast with Custard Sauce

Sunday was my second meeting with the Potluck Dinner Club and the theme was brunch. As soon as I heard the theme in March, I knew I wanted to make Raspberry-Stuffed French Toast with Custard Sauce.

At Christmas Brunch my Mom established a new family favorite by serving this dish and I was certain I could replicate her rave reviews. The good news it that even though my custard sauce did not thicken very well, my plan worked.

The recipe is by Kraft. Strange, right? I was shocked too. I made some substitutions to ensure that my cream cheese and milk wouldn't have hormones and used the Argo Corn Starch Custard recipe for the sauce per my Mom but otherwise followed the recipe. The custard, questionable if I can call mine that since it really is very liquid, tastes a lot like vanilla soymilk after you have eat all the Cinnamon Toast Crunch out of it i.e. delicious.

Actually the whole dish was just as amazing the second time. While it takes a while with the sitting and cooking, it is easy to prepare and I'm sure you will agree the results are stunning.


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Soft Yogurt Sandwich Rolls

This weekend I overcame my fear of yeast and made traditional bread from scratch i.e. bread involving yeast. It wasn't nearly as hard as I thought, but it was much more time consuming. I never thought I would get out of the kitchen.

As promised this recipe for Soft Yogurt Sandwich Rolls turned out soft sandwich rolls with a nice texture that holds up to moisture. However, they were a little sour for my taste. I wouldn't rule out making them again but there might be a better roll recipe out there for me. Regardless, the rolls smell delicious while baking, which my roommates loved. The flour explosion also got me to clean behind out movable "counter" and I think they appreciated that too.

My only misstep was purchasing regular yogurt, so I had to drain it with cheesecloth into yogurt cheese to have the appropriate texture for the recipe. I recommend avoiding that step.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Crustless Spinach and Onion Quiche

I haven't tried making crust yet and was short on time, so this recipe for Crustless Spinach, Onion, and Feta seemed perfect for me. Quiches are a nice break from my typical grain heavy breakfast, but still a fairly portable option that I can rush out the door holding in my hand.

I'm not sure if I didn't cook it quite long enough, but I found it to be a bit wobbly for quick transportation. It was much better once I started taking the time to toast it, adding a bit of crisp to the outside, and put a sprinkle of salt on the top. As I was missing the Feta, I substituted a 1/2 cup of Parmesan which worked out fine but I suspect without this substitution I would not have needed the salt.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Taco Taco

One day in ballet, Meg was raving about having brunch at Taco Taco with her boyfriend and the memory stuck with me. When we finally made it to brunch this weekend, I suggested we revisit Taco Taco as it was so convenient to our apartments.

While she suggested and ordered the coffee, which apparently has a hint of cinnamon, I passed. Coffee still has not grown on me. Plus, it tends to give me a stomachache. I did get the dish she raved about after her last time though. I can't remember the name of it, but imagine a breakfast version of a taco salad. Really good, right? And filling too. I could barely touch the side salad.

Taco Taco's complimentary chips and salsa aren't bad either. The chips are clearly fresh, very crispy but not greasy, as is the salsa. I'll definitely go back here eventually. The guacamole and chips looked good too.

Location: 1726 2nd Avenue (between 89th and 90th Streets)
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11:30a-11:00p, Fri 11:30a-12:00a, Sat 11:00a-12:00a, Sun 11:00a, 11:00p
Cost: $$

Thursday, April 24, 2008

pinkberry And I Are Breaking Up

Jaime just sent me this article from the NY Times. I kind of already knew pinkberry wasn't exactly what it claimed and obviously dealt with it, but the fact that they use corn-derived sweeteners rules it out (see below).

Now I have to find something else cold and sweet to like for the summer. I can guarantee it won't be Tasti D-lite, which just seems too airy and gave me a headache.


The ingredients list for Original Pinkberry has 23 items. Skim milk and nonfat yogurt are listed first, then three kinds of sugar: sucrose, fructose and dextrose. Fructose and maltodextrin, another ingredient, are both laboratory-produced ingredients extracted from corn syrup.
The list includes at least five additives defined by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization as emulsifiers (propylene glycol esters, lactoglycerides, sodium acid pyrophosphate, mono- and diglycerides); four acidifiers (magnesium oxide, calcium fumarate, citric acid, sodium citrate); tocopherol, a natural preservative; and two ingredients — starch and maltodextrin — that were characterized as fillers by Dr. Gary A. Reineccius, a professor in the department of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota and an expert in food additives.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Risotteria

As part of Lthug's bachelorette weekend, I made my second trip to Risotteria. (Does anyone else find it weird that bachelorette does not have real word status yet? First my cell phone thought it was gibberish and now Mozilla.) I was a bit reluctant to go back as my last experience left me feeling the risotto was only so-so. After this visit, I think the issue was actually my limited hunger in spite of the 8 hour gap between my half of a Carnegie Deli reuben and the risotto.

Given our party of six the wait was surprisingly short. Thank goodness as it was 3:00 p and we were starving. We started with two servings of complimentary bread sticks and a re-purposed wine bottle full of chilled water. Perfect. The wait staff was attentive and patient with our collective indecisiveness. They refreshed the jars of bread sticks without our having to ask.

I ended up ordering the Carnaroli Risotto with Roasted Leg of Lamb, Gorgonzola and Spinach ($15.50). It was creamy with an intense flavor courtesy of the Gorgonzola. I could barely taste the lamb or spinach, but both were tender and probably added subtle flavors. Vika had the Arborio Risotto with Shrimp, Mozzarella, and Tomato ($16.55). The cheese was much less overwhelming and you could taste the flavor of each ingredient. Both dishes were good.

This trip won me over and I definitely plan to go back to Risotteria. Also I'm in love with their pens; instead of business cards they have pens that say "Stolen from Risotteria" and their address on the side.




Location: 270 Bleecker Street (between Cornelia Street and Morton Street)
Hours: Sun-Sat 12:00p - 11:00p
Cost: $$

Friday, April 18, 2008

Yakiniku West

Yakiniku West was the first official stop on Lthug's bachelorette itinerary. I went in with some concerns. Will I have to sit on the floor? My dress is awfully mini for the up and down. Will I really have to take off my shoes? Did I forget my ID when rushing downtown after a brutal collision with a table in my apartment? The answers were all yes, obviously, and the only one that ended up problematic was my ID.

Jaime and I arrived on time or so we thought. Lauren, Vika, Jenn, and Jackie arrived a little later. Turns out Yakiniku pushed back Lauren's reservation 15-20 minutes without complaint, even with a bit of a wait forming outside. This was a sign of good service that would continue all night. Baskets of Dum Dum lollipops free for the taking also sweetened the impression.

Once our shoes were stored in plastic bags to carry or in cubbies we were led upstairs. While you do not sit on the ground, your table is on the ground with benches around it. Hard to explain. There were only three tables in the room we were seated it. One table had the perfect addition to our party - guys from West Point who were really into Sake bombs to the point of shaking the floor. Naturally Lauren ended up participating. Sake bomb? No, a Steve bomb. Right.

The basic portions of the bbq stuff, packaged with soup, salad, and a scoop of ice cream for dessert, are for one person. We ordered three, two with bi bim bop for $5.00 extra, edamame, shochu and sake and had just enough food. The burners are way too small to cook a plateful of food for each person simultaneously making eating a slow process. At least with Shabu Shabu, which I rapidly decided I prefer, you can prepare food for a whole group at the pace you want to eat. Alternatively you can order sushi, teriyaki, or regular bi bim bop but that isn't the point of Yakiniku.


The food we cooked on our own was good, but the edamame was barely salted and the ice cream flavors didn't pop. So if I come back it will be about the service and atmosphere not the food.



As for the ID, I ended up heading home after dinner rather than continuing on to go out. NYC never lets those slide for normal people...

Location: 218 East 9th Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, closer to 3rd)
Hours: Don't know...We went for dinner! So that is a safe bet.
Cost: $$

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Garlic Soba Noodles

I made these Garlic Soba Noodles last week. The recipe seemed promising as I have appreciated the individual ingredients in other experiments and it just looked good. But yeah, I'm unhappily eating leftovers now.

There is something about the recipe that just didn't hit the spot. Maybe it the sliminess of the soba noodles makes me think the leftovers have gone bad when they haven't? Or the inexplicable gritty texture is off putting? Or could it be the radishes turn like apples when exposes to air and gooey brown-ish soba noodles?

Regardless, I think I'll stick to the last soba noodle recipe that I enjoyed late last year, which is incidentally is much easier to make, and I think you should too unless you just loooove garlic too much to not try this one.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

Once I saw the divine pictures of Whole Wheat Apple Muffins by Smitten Kitten, I knew I had to make them. They would help use my spontaneously purchased buttermilk and would integrate more healthy whole wheat into my life.

Since I actually had roughly all the ingredients on hand, I was able to get started right away. My only substitution was light brown sugar in place of dark brown sugar. I assembled the muffins and had them baking in under an hour. Not bad. They smelled great by the time Rock of Love 2 was ending. Nothing like a sweet treat to offset the ending of an awesome yet awful TV show.

These muffins have a very moist texture and flavor reminiscent of a lighter pound cake. I enjoyed them all week for breakfast; next time I am going to try decreasing the sugar used as they were too decadent a breakfast food for my taste. Seriously, I eat things like plain oatmeal for breakfast on a regular basis.

My big stumble with these was putting them in a gallon storage bag before they had cooled enough. As a result, my crunchy brown sugar topping just melted into a sticky mess. If only I could learn to start cooking before 9:00 pm.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage

Saturday after my post route-marking plans fell through, I was wasting time online (as usual). I didn't know what to do with the night; since moving to NYC I seem to have forgotten how to sit and do nothing. When I stumbled across this recipe for Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage, I knew I had hit the jackpot.

Growing up my grandparents, mom, brother, and I would make galumpkies. It was an half day project with lots of trays for freezing extra batches. I remembered liking them, but forgot how much labor was involved. Things that might have sped up the process include following the directions to core the cabbage and having a food processor. Oh well! I also advise against starting the process at 9:00 pm.


Anyway, all that matters though is the end result, which was good. As I'm not a vegetarian, I think I'll stick to a meat filling next time and starting cooking earlier. Next time also will probably be in the winter as cooking all this really heats up the kitchen.

P.S.Don't skip the raisins in the sauce. They really add that extra something special.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Stir Fried Burdock with Sesame & Soy

I spontaneously purchased Burdock Root at Green market after reading on a sign it was good for your skin. I doubt the one large piece I purchased was enough to have an affect, but I was apprehensive and unsure of what to do with it. As usual searching online led me to a recipe (scroll halfway down the page to: Hiroko's Kimpira Gobo).

While the idea of preparing and julienning the burdock and carrot wasn't appealing, I couldn't resist the sesame based seasoning. I added parsnip to the mix and substituted olive oil for vegetable oil. I didn't see the changes mentioned in the burdock root, but felt it was reasonably cooked based on the increased flexibility of the carrots. The extended cooking time really brought out the natural sweetness in the carrots and the burdock root had a unique, slighly nutty flavor.

I meant to eat the amount below over two meals. That didn't happen. Next time, hopefully soon, I will make a double batch.


Monday, April 7, 2008

Hill Country

Adrienne says Brother Jimmys is not real barbecue. I suppose that for a Texan it wouldn't be... In light of this I tried her favorite place: Hill Country. As a first time visitor the large, cafeteria-style set-up is overwhelming. You go from station to station selecting your food while they complete your card. Thank goodness it wasn't busy on Monday at 7:00 pm.

I ordered a quarter pound of lean brisket, Adrienne's favorite, with a slice of very thick, white bread, a small side of longhorn cheddar mac'n'cheese, and the sweet tea (it just isn't barbecue without sweet tea). The fork tender meat was sliced into 1" wide strips thin like ribbon. The sauce, while made in Virginia Beach with high fructose corn syrup, was delicious. The mac'n'cheese was good, but didn't have enough of a cheese flavor for me. The sweet tea was very good, but not your traditional Southern-style as it had just a (perfect) hint of sweetness. Each item was roughly $5.00.


Realistically after all that, I was too full for ice cream, but Hill Country serves Blue Bell. I had it once before, in July 2006 visiting Britt in Mooresville, NC. Ever since then I have raved about it. I even have a picture on my cell phone. Bliss. It was a one time thing, because they only sell it where it can be shipped overnight. Needless to say, I was ecstatic to see it on the menu. I got a generous hand-scooped portion to go for $4.00. It was melt in my mouth mint chocolate chip. So good although a bit fierce with the green food-coloring.

Hill Country is really good, but I can't help but like best what I know - places like Lancaster's with hush puppys, pulled pork, and lots of great sauce. I still want to go back to Hill Country though to try some other sides, the ribs, and have more ice cream. Eating locally be darned, in this case, as Blue Bell ice cream is the best.


Location: 30 West 26th Street (Between Broadway and 7th Avenue)
Hours: Sun-Wed 12:00p-10:00p, Thurs-Sat 12:00p-11:00p (Kitchen hours...The bar is open later)
Cost: $ to $$ (depends on your appetite and extras)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

German Pancake with Buttermilk Syrup

I ask my Mom to make this almost every time I go home. I'm obsessed with the syrup, which my roommates compared to cake batter. I knew it was good, but suddenly it all made sense. My favorite scent? Vanilla Cake baking. My favorite lotion? Vanilla Bean Noel. My favorite Coldstone ice cream? Cake batter.

While not the healthiest, this is really easy to make, done in 20 minutes, and, in case I was unclear, delicious. My Mom's recipe for the cake and syrup is below followed by my picture.

German Pancake with Butter milk syrup! Yum
Yields about 8 servings and 2 cups of syrup (if you aren't gluttonous)

German Pancake
In blender mix until smooth:
*6 eggs or equivalent egg beaters
*1 cup milk
*1 cup all purpose flour
*1/2 teaspoon salt.

Pour into 9X13X2 baking dish greased with 2 tablespoons of melted butter. (I didn't say this was healthy). I melt the butter in the dish to save dishes! Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Syrup
While baking make the syrup. The original recipe suggests in a sauce pan but it does well in a oversized glass bowl in the microwave be sure to serve hot!
*1 1/2 cups sugar *3/4 cups buttermilk (milk with 2 tablespoons of vinegar is the substitute let stand till sours about 1 minute) *1/2 cup real butter (this is the flavor) *1 teaspoon of baking soda

Bring to boil and boil 1 minute. Remove from heat add 2 teaspoons of vanilla, stir. Serve over hot pancake, dusted with confectioners sugar if desired (I never add the confectioners sugar since I use so much syrup).

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits

Today I impulsively purchased buttermilk at Green Market. As I don't like to drink it I had to find things to make with it. I saved this southern-style buttermilk biscuit recipe a while ago, but was out of all-purpose flour. I found a whole-wheat biscuit recipe, but did not have enough butter on hand.

I ended using the first recipe substituting whole-wheat flour and a 1/2 cup of almond meal for the white flour. It worked out pretty well. The biscuits are fluffy, filling, and have a nutty flavor. I've been enjoying them plain as they have enough flavor that I don't need to add anything, which makes them great for rushing out the door in the morning (I'm always late).

The recipes both noted the need for something with a sharp metal edge to cut the biscuits or you would interfere with the biscuits ability to rise. Turns out we only have a star cookie cutter, so I present to you my finished product.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad with Tahini

I made Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad with Tahini once before and after all the work involved hardly had a chance to enjoy the results as the pre-mixedTahini expired!! I found that out the hard way with an unpleasant stomachache leading to a label check and discarding virtually all of the salad.

A dish involving butternut squash isn't exactly seasonally appropriate, but just before the fridge disaster I had purchased most of the ingredients for making this again and I could not wait until Fall. While I didn't make buy pre-mixed Tahini, I had trouble believing the unopened Tahini would make it through a hot NYC summer in an uncooled kitchen.

I'm glad I tried the recipe again. It was great to confirm that the tahini was the issue not something else... The salad's flavors blend together well; it is slightly sweet, mostly savory, and very filling! I managed to get 4+ meals out of it as I used a 5 pound butternut squash. Needless to say I'm glad I can't have it again until winter. ;)

Monday, March 31, 2008

Lime and Raspberry Bread

I made this Lime and Raspberry Bread on Monday night and finished it by Friday morning. It was that good. As one would expect, the flavor is very lime. The texture is like a good cake - light and very moist. Perfect.

While the recipe's author suggests dusting them with flour to prevent bleeding, I didn't bother. I had already squeezed 12+ key limes to get the 3/4 cup of fresh squeezed lime juice, my hands were HURTING and I just wanted to be done. Besides skipping that step made the batter really pretty; it had deep pink swirls like tie-dye. Why did I have key limes instead of regular limes? Well, the roast chicken left a surplus that I had an insatiable need to use.

If I weren't in the middle of making whole-wheat buttermilk biscuits right now, I might make a new batch using the other half of my bag of frozen raspberries and squeeze bottle lime juice.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Proscuitto and Arugula "Pizza"

My favorite pizza to order at Cavatappo is topped with proscuitto and arugula. In order to save some money, I thought I should try replicating it at home. Nevermind that I already had a fridge full of ham from my parent's Easter visit. Basically this week was all ham all the time. Yum, but, maybe, not the healthiest.

Either way my project was successful. I used the amazing whole wheat pita bread made "locally" by Daily Pita Bakeries, Inc., organic tomato sauce, and fresh mozzarella for the base. I love this bread; it has 4 ingredients, none of which are sugar, and 6 pitas cost 89 cents.

It took 12 minutes for everything to melt together nicely at 350. Based on my research, I then let the pizza cool for 5 minutes before sprinkling it generously with the baby arugula and arranging the somewhat defatted proscuitto on top. So easy and so good.

If you do this at home, I recommend this proscuitto. It has been my favorite one so far.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Nina's Argentine Pizza Restaurant

This place was so amazing that recalling the leftovers is making my mouth water. I've always been curious about Nina's since meatballs are the special every day I walk by and I have wanted to visit Argentina for quite a while now. My only complaint would be the half hour wait was actually an hour and a half; I'm pretty certain the only reason we were ever seated is we stood in the cold outside the window staring for the last half hour. Oh well, I got to show my parents Cavatappo.

Once inside I was in love with the cozy, tiny atmosphere and the olive oil/eggplant dipping sauce served with fresh bread. As I went with my parents, I was able to try everything I wanted off the menu: their lasagna, Cheta pizza, and the meatballs (of course!).

The pizza was my favorite... It was deep dish style, somewhat reminiscent of focaccia, topped with spinach, creamy ricotta chese, a pungent sauce, and regular cheese. It melted in my mouth and I can't wait to try it again. The lasagna had layers of eggplant instead of noodles and goat cheese instead of ricotta; both of these changes were creative and successful in my opinion. I enjoyed it, but would rather try recreating it at home than order it again.

As for the meatballs, I just was not in love. They were garlic-y, which is fine, but didn't really hit the spot. My Dad was perfectly happy with them though and the leftovers were great. :)

Location: 1750 2nd Avenue (Between 91st and 92nd Streets)
Hours:
Mon-Fri: 5:00p-11:00p, Sat-Sun 11:30a-11:00p
Cost:
$$

Roast Chicken

After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which is really good, I decided to make an effort to buy more of my food locally. I also decided I had to try roasting an entire chicken. I wasn't really ready to do it alone, so I was fortunate my parents were in town for Easter.

Conveniently, I found a little, baby chicken weighing a bit under two pounds at Greenmarket. Apparently calling it a little, baby chicken was gross, but, whatever, it recently was one. I also purchased tarragon and key limes. You have to put spices and citrus in its chest cavity for the best flavor and its chest cavity was too small for a real lime...

The process was simple; it is really only slightly more complicated than marinating and cooking chicken parts. I rinsed the chicken, rubbed it down with oil, salt, and pepper inside and outside, and then stuffed the garlic, tarragon, and punctured key limes inside. By thinking about it rationally, I was able to not get too squeamish to continue. I kept telling Mom it was like dissection in anatomy class.

The end results were good. I saved the leftover bits to make my own chicken stock. Fun! I'm excited to try again with different spices and a slightly larger chicken.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Caracas Arepa Bar

As Mike was out of town, Jaime decided to linger in the city a big longer than usual. We wasted time at my apartment, wandered around Rugby, and then walked over to Caracas Arepa Bar in the rain. I had the impression it was around 3rd Avenue. Yeah, I don't know how I was so far off. Our meal was well worth the walk though.

Caracas is super tiny, even for NYC. Luckily, we managed to grab a table. They have signage stressing that they don't serve fast food, but it isn't really slow either. Deciding what to order took longer than the preparation.

As
I can't resist plantains, cheese, or beans, I chose the De Pabellon Arepa, the YoYos, and topped everything off with a Cocoda. The only thing I can compare to Arepas are Gyros; they are nothing alike other than both being delicious. The YoYos were supposedly deep fried plaintain rolls filled with cheese. It sounds like something I would love, but it didn't hit the spot. Perhaps because they were very breaded and I couldn't taste the plantains? I would have preferred another Arepa or, maybe, another Cocada milkshake.

The milkshake is what I can't stop talking about it. It was FRESH coconut - rich and just sweet enough. I wish they served pina coladas at Caracas, because they could rival the beach-side club's version in Salinas, Ecuador, which ruined all pre-made pina coladas for me. If you like coconut, you have to go here immediately and try the Cocada and some arepas. I know I'll be back for both, in spite of the need for Febreeze when I arrived home smelling like fried food.

Location: 93.5 East 7th Street (Between 1st Avenue and Avenue A - closer to 1st)
Hours: Mon-Sat 12:00p to 10:30p (sometimes only to go), Sun 12:00p - 9:30p
Cost: $ or $$ (depending on how much you need to get full)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Jing Fong

Today I went over to Jeff's to drop off the few things I just couldn't bear to throw away from our refrigerator that somehow survived the multi-week slow death (i.e. organic butter, chili-garlic sauce, wheat germ, minced ginger, etc.).

As both of our brunch plans had fallen through, I finally got my personal Chinatown tour. Yes, he knows all about Chinatown in spite of not actually
being of Asian descent. We visited a bakery and supermarket, saw his jerky shop, stared a yummy looking ice cream with unique flavors, and discussed ordering so fresh it is killed in front of you fish from the stores.

Before all of that, we went for Dim Sum at Jing Fong.
Upon entering you are corralled downstairs waiting for your parties' number to be called (kind of like bingo). Then you go upstairs to a massive room with red, gold, and black decor, I swear it is the size of a whole block, filled with tables unfortunately covered with poly-silk Pepto Bismol pink tablecloths and napkins.

The dim sum is displayed on a buffet or brought around on carts, you pick what you want to try, and they mark your card for each selection. The card becomes your bill. The carts have "safe" choices i.e. identifiable foods like fried or steamed dumplings with shrimp, pork, or beef, fried tofu, rice noodles, sesame rolls, and a delicious almond flavored tofu dish that resembles jello.

They also have mystery foods that turn out to be things like tripe, intestinal lining whose texture I can't get over to enjoy, and chicken feet, which I tried with much hesitation. Yes, the girl who complains about her pork having unidentifiable chewy parts tried chicken feet. The preparation Jeff picked out was reminiscent of buffalo chicken wings in texture and presentation. They really weren't so bad, except the mental hurdle involved. Don't know that I will pick them out without encouragement, but I would try them again prepared this way.

Jing Fong also has great tea that goes with your meal. I enjoyed the experience and am looking forward to my next trip. Deb and I are going to try for a group on April 6th, so we can try more things for less money. If you want to go let me know. :)

Location: 20 Elizabeth Street, 2nd Floor (between Canal and Bayard Streets)
Hours: 9:30 am to 10:30 pm Daily with Dim Sum served between 10:00 and 3:30 (it really ends closer to 2:00 pm)
Cost: $$ (for brunch)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

El Paso Taqueria

For the first time in a long time I went on a date. Conveniently we both live on the UES, so when he suggested his favorite Mexican restaurant, El Paso Taqueria, I was happy to try something new and relatively close. I also was very nervous as my mind gets ahead of me all the time.

We met around 7:30 and started with fresh guacamole and chips. The guacamole was really, really good - super fresh with all the appropriate ingredients chunked in. I almost didn't notice that complimentary chips and salsa were not offered. I ordered Carnitas Tacos. They were served traditionally with open corn tortillas, more yummy guacamole, onion, cilantro, and the oven roasted pork. They were good. However, I still haven't decided whether they were better at the Mexican restaurant I frequented in Astoria. I guess I'll have to go to both and compare. The prices are reasonable enough that this will be easy to do...

I also had Cemitas Al Pastor, which turned out to be an elaborate sandwich. The description of a sesame bun suckered me in. It wasn't anything special; the roasted marinated pork, while mixed with onions and pineapples as expected, also had those weird chunks of meat that you would rather not encounter in your meal.

I probably won't make a huge effort to go to El Paso Taqueria again, but if I do I will stick to the tacos and guac. As for the date, it went smoothly aided by unobtrusive, pleasant service happy to let us continue talking until 10:30 long after our meal was done.

Location: 1642 Lexington Avenue at 104th Street
Hours: Don't know? I went for dinner.
Cost: $$ or $ depending on what/how much you choose to eat