Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Double Crown / Madam Geneva

Having read reviews for Double Crown all over, I had placed it high on my mental list of places to try so it was a great start to things when K suggested it for drinks a few Fridays ago. We arrived right at 8, which was perfect for grabbing two seats at the bar as the restaurant became progressively more packed all evening. Luckily the volume never became too loud to hear each other speak. Service was prompt and attentive without being cloying. The drinks were well mixed, although for the most part I stuck to vodka soda.

Most enchanting was the decor. I was especially fond of the gold chains with decorative elephants hanging right where you turned to go downstairs and the ornate wooden carved walls by the restrooms. Overall the space feels very open and the bathrooms while overpoweringly scented with cinnamon and too dim to touch up make-up are clean and private. The main restaurant's lighting was warm and flattering and the "speakeasy" Madam Geneva is appropriately dark with its lace decorated walls. British Colonial really is the perfect description.

It is rare that something meets my expectations, but Double Crown and Madam Geneva did so much so that I took Leslie for a drink there the next weekend. She tried Madam Geneva's signature Gin and Jam, which sounds confusing but literally is gin over crushed ice with a spoonful of jam. I don't like gin, but this was surprisingly good - less Christmas in my mouth and more Slurpee. I can't wait to eventually have dinner here.

Location: 316 Bowery (at Bleecker)
Hours: Double Crown Mon-Wed: 6:00p-11:00p, Thurs-Fri: 6:00p-12:00a, Sat 11:00a-3:30p, 6:00p-12:00a, Sun 11:00a-3:30p, 6:00p-11:00p Madam Geneva 6:00p-2:00a
Cost: $$ for drinks, probably $$$ for dinner

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cheese Ravioli with Three Pepper Topping

This recipe was one of my two go to recipes for most of junior and senior year in college. The other one involved chicken, a can of peaches, salsa and rice... See this isn't my first cooking phase, but this one is much more serious and sincere. I visit a wider variety of sites than Allrecipes.com, I am not coming off the cottage cheese/salsa/Diet Coke diet and I don't even make Hamburger Helper anymore (much less burn it on a regular basis!).

When confronted with way too many yellow, orange and red peppers a few weeks ago this recipe was a great, simple solution. I still like it and so does my family, who experienced this dish countless times. I strongly advise you to tone down the olive oil if you don't like having slippery lips and to be generous with the Parmesan cheese!

Cheese Ravioli with Three Pepper Topping
Prep Time: approx. 15 Minutes. Cook Time: approx. 15 Minutes.
Makes 6 servings.
  • 1 pound cheese ravioli (I never have used cheese ravioli. No reason)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cups chicken broth, divided (or vegetable broth)
  • crushed red pepper to taste
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ravioli and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
2. Heat olive oil in large saute pan. Add peppers and onion; cook 5 minutes. Add one cup of the broth and cook stirring another five minutes.
3. Add remainder of broth and cook until most of the broth has evaporated. Top ravioli with pepper and broth mixture.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

This Week's Main Meals

Homemade Pizza topped with Caramelized Onions, Garlic, Goat Cheese, Arugula and Prosciutto... The results were pretty good, although the toppings could have stuck better. Pizza dough is much easier to make without whole wheat dough.

Stir Fry with Sauteed Tofu, lots of Veggies and a sauce made from Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil, Chili-Garlic Paste, Rice Vinegar and a touch of Sugar topped with sliced Basil. The dish's base was glass noodles from the Korean Grocery Stores i.e. Saifun Bean Threads.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sweet Revenge

After two and a half years of discussion, no lie, Courtney and I finally had a cupcake together. When choosing the bakery, my biggest priority was finding somewhere with enough space to sit and catch up. Bakeries typically require the grab and go, but it was too cold to walk around outside (can't wait for that weather to get here).

Based on Yelp reviews, I chose Sweet Revenge. The large windows and white walls help the space feel airy, even though it was carefully filled to the brim with seating for about 15. There was a little bit of a wait and service wasn't 100% due to a high volume of customers, but the most important part - the cupcakes - was good!

Courtney had the Dirty (Valhrona Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Truffle) with a cappuccino and I had the Pure (Mexican Vanilla Cake with Mexican Vanilla Icing) with milk in a wine glass. The cupcakes came wrapped carefully in paper rather than in a traditional cupcake wrapper. We agreed the cake was moist; it left that yummy residue on the cupcake paper, which is always a good sign for me. You could actually taste the vanilla in the cake and frosting, rather than just enjoying something sweet. I especially liked the frosting. It was not cloying and had large sugar crystals on top for texture.

Sweet Revenge paid a lot of attention to details that enhance the experience. I will definitely make a return visit. I want to try their namesake cupcake the Sweet Revenge.

Location: 62 Carmine Street (Between South 7th Avenue and Bedford Street)
Hours: Mon-Thurs 8:00p-11:00p, Fri 8:00a-12:30p, Sat 11:00a-12:30a, Sun 11:00a-9:00p
Cost: $$ ($3.50 per cupcake, which is a bit higher than most)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Homeade Oreos

The lovely and bubbly Louise is moving back to London, which is definitely New York's loss. For this occasion I was willing to watch The Bachelor's season finale (What a dick! I hate boys!) and naturally offered to bring something. With no suggestions, I recalled that Louise liked chocolate and found a recipe for homeade oreos.

These cookies are delicious, but pretty darn sweet, especially when you can't resist eating another and another and another... I love the chocolate cookie; you can feel the crispness of crystallized sugar when chewing. The filling's consistency is dead on with a regular Oreo, but with a much better vanilla flavor and less waxy aftertaste.

I followed the suggestion for decreasing the cookies' sugar and might even try taking more out next time. My other alterations were using Spectrum's Organic Vegetable Shortening, which is trans fat free and not hydrogenated, and using vanilla bean paste instead of extract. The paste substitution made the filling have the cutest brown specks. These will definitely be made again. Maybe for the holidays next year instead of caramels, marshmallows AND cookies?

"Brilliant! This falls right into my “why buy it when i can make it for twice the cost and 20 times the work” ethic." 2007 comment on the linked recipe describing my mentality perfectly. ;)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

bill Granger's Caramel Chicken

My parents were my Valentines this year. They kindly came up to visit and decorate my room with my birthday present, an Ikea mirror from September, over Presidents Day weekend. They also hung a few photos and fixed up the bathroom with, sadly, only the tiniest bit of assistance from me. Everything is much more homey now and my room looks slightly more like a grown-up room.

As a thank you, and because I was a bit under the weather and not inclined to go out, I made them bill Granger's Caramel Chicken. It is fantastic and simple to put together. It tastes much better than Chinese takeout with impressively similar results. If you want to use chicken breasts instead of thighs, they work almost as well though you lose a lot of the chicken's tenderness, which is part of what makes this so similar to something at a restaurant. I also think this could successfully be adapted into a pescetarian dish with braised firm tofu.

I recommend using low sodium soy sauce instead of regular based on my experience with regular in July; I couldn't get enough water while eating due to the saltiness. I also feel like the low sodium soy sauce allows for a better balance between sweet and salty.

Between this dish and his amazing coconut bread, I'm seriously considering investing in at least a library reservation for bill's cookbooks. Both dishes have been easy with impressive results.