Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cafe Habana

Cafe Habana still is one of my absolute favorite brunches in the city. This trip I tried something new - their flan. It is a very smooth and served with a sweet, sweet caramel sauce. I've never loved flan, but it was pretty decent. I had the revelation that flan is similar in texture to panna cotta. Maybe I'll research that. Regardless of what I eat at Cafe Habana nothing trumps the grilled corn i.e. choclos.

(Carving and Photo courtesy of JM, who introduced me to the place.)

Ricotta Zucchini Cheesecake

Sunday one of my friends had a birthday party for her Yorkie, Dixie, who was turning one. The hostess flattered me into cooking, in spite of some serious reluctance on my part. The best part was she had only tasted my cookies before so the flattery was without any knowledge of results. Ha ha. Her request was something savory, not a bread. I found this challenging as the easiest dishes to take on public transportation are sweet and/or bread. Plus! I'm more comfortable with sweets.

Intensive online research turned up this recipe for Ricotta Zucchini Cheesecake. I found my lack of a spring form pan a little disconcerting, but everything turned out okay even with my substitution of oregano for dill and use of an 8 x 8 cake pan. It didn't look quite as pretty as it could have, but the flavor was good and the cheesecake very filling. For me the goat cheese on top's rich, tangy flavor made the dish. It also added a contrast in texture to an otherwise slightly soft yet grainy (?) dish. One heads up: it took forever to make, even with the lovely mini-food processor my brother gave me for Christmas (that machine is a miracle worker).

I'll probably try this again in the summer. It's been a great leftover breakfast in the morning most of the week. Should you happen to take this back home via bus with saran wrap on top, start reading a magazine with it under your purse and stand up in a rush dumping it off your lap upside down (saran wrap intact), I'm pleased to report it will hold up.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Butternut Squash, Apple, and Carmelized Onion Gallette with Rosemary

I've been intimidated by pastry dough for quite some time, in spite of owning A New Way to Cook and reading blissfully about the "easiness" of free form galettes for years.

Yes! It really has been years. This was the first cookbook I ever wanted; I received as a gift from Jaime and I've used it twice. Well, the other night I finally decided to make a tart and purchased ingredients to improvise a filling only to discover THE INTERNET WAS BROKEN, which was SO not okay. I had to do things the old way with a good cookbook and my mind.

Somehow everything came together. The tart was pretty easy to make, although time consuming as the flaky butter pastry has to chill twice, the onions have to caramelize and the squash/apples have to be peeled and cubed then tossed in oil with rosemary before you can even cook the pastry.

The end result was well worth the effort. This was a very tasty breakfast all week long, although I need to work on pressing the ingredients into the crust a bit more as things tended to fall off the crust into my lap (or maybe I just should use silverware when trying to eat tarts).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Random Fact

New York Magazine, February 16, 2009 issue

"Fenugreek, the processed seeds from which produced that maple-syrup smell."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Zuni Cafe's Roasted Chicken

Zuni Cafe's recipe for Roast Chicken is the easiest roast chicken recipe I've made to date. Oh wait. In the past I haven't exactly used a recipe. I just followed Mom's expert advice and winged it with a small piece of citrus in the middle and thorough rub down of the chicken with salt, pepper, etc. before placing it in an oven cooking bag. I also have poached chickens twice in a just barely large enough pot.

While those results were tasty, this recipe trumps the aforementioned methods due to its fantastic results without the oven bag.* If you aren't squeamish about feeling around a small chicken, this recipe will provide fantastic results. Typically I don't enjoy skin on my chicken, but this crispy, not greasy, skin was an exception. The chicken itself is tender and moist on its own or an excellent source for making chicken salad, stir fries and soups during the remainder of the week.

I didn't even use marjoram as I couldn't find it fresh, without spending way too much for something I only needed a 1/4 sprig of. Best of all the clean-up was minimal and the pan juices were quite tasty mingled with the leftover brown rice, cherry tomatoes and parmesan in the fridge.

*Unless you want chicken soup and stock, in which case poaching the chicken is probably the best choice.