May 24, 2011

Did You Hear?

I am happy, proud, and excited to say that I am the featured blog on today. Foodista is  "a collaborative project to build the world's largest, highest quality cooking encyclopedia. With your contributions, we can create a free resource that helps millions of people learn how to cook everything and anything." Besides being a wonderful foodie resource, Foodista is also an IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) member and has been featured in Time Magazine and The New York Times to name a few. I am so honored and would like to welcome any new readers to my little corner of the foodie blog-verse. 
*On the main page, on the right had side, you will see my blog under "Featured blog of the day" with a happy, shiny gold star next to it ;-)

May 23, 2011

A Taste of His Childhood

My husband was born in the Philippines. He and and his family moved to the States, (Queens, New York to be exact), when he was four. He hasn't held on to many of the traditions or cultural influences from his childhood, except for a few well-loved flavors and dishes... isn't that always the way, though?

His favorite traditional dish, is Filipino BBQ. Every once in a while, as if pulled by a tether, he makes his way to his old neighborhood in Queens and buys enough BBQ to last a few days. This isn't BBQ as us Americans consider it. Instead, this is the global version of  "BBQ," otherwise known as: meat-on-stick. You can find meat-on-stick in every country on the planet, from the tiniest islands, to the most metropolitan cities. The Filipino version is garlicky, sweet, (thanks to 7-Up, it's ALWAYS 7-Up), and well charred. Usually made with a very fatty cut of pork, the meat marinates overnight, is skewered, then grilled over flames. As you can imagine, it's fabulous.

I wanted to try my hand at this at home. Of course, we don't have a patio, a backyard, or any outdoor space to grill on, but I do have a oven that broils! Also, I opted for a leaner meat option; some beautiful beef cutlets that I had picked up from the butcher the day before. I enjoyed it immensely, he missed the "real thing," but admitted this was a good way to tide him over in between runs to Queens. That was the best reaction I could hope for.

If at some point this summer we have access to a real grill, honey, I promised we'll try it again with the classic cut of pork... okay?

Filipino-Style BBQ (at home)
1.5 lbs lean, chicken, pork, or beef cutlets
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 cup 7-Up
1/3 cup tomato ketchup (if you have access to it, use banana ketchup)
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoon white or brown sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
about 3/4 -1 head of garlic or approx. 3/4-1 cup garlic cloves

-Crush most of the garlic, but thickly slice about 5-6 cloves.
-Combine garlic, soy, 7-Up, ketchup, lemon juice, sugar, pepper, in a container with a tight fitting lid and whisk well.
-Add meat, close container, and shake to coat evenly. Refrigerate overnight but no less than 5 hours.
-The following day, soak skewers in water for approximately 15-20 minutes. Remove the container from the fridge and slice the meat in approximately 1.5 - 2" strips. Weave the strips of meat onto the skewers and place on a tin foil-lined, broiler-safe tray.
-Broil the meat until cooked through and slightly charred. For beef, this will be about 8 minutes. Baste the meat half way through cooking with remaining marinating mixture. Make sure to add some of the sliced garlic to the tray as you broil to add to the serving platter. Serve immediately.

May 20, 2011

The Divine Miss "N"

My Grandmother was a tough woman to love. She made being a participant in her life complicated, often maddening, and difficult… I don’t think she would have had it any other way.

Nita, (no one was allowed to call her “Grandmother”), came from another world and another time. Hers was a life of exquisite couture clothing, glamour, and hats. As a testament to that fact, I have two hand-drawn and signed birthday cards, depicting my Grandmother in said exquisite clothing, from none other than Yves Saint Laurent himself. Glamour indeed.

When I was a child, she taught me things that little girls growing up in America in the 1980’s, simply didn't learn. Things like: how to set a table properly, how to write a letter, how to walk properly, (there were teacups and books involved), how to answer the phone, how to speak to one’s elders. In essence, she put me through finishing school. I didn’t get it at the time. And while I didn’t dislike it, I longed for a different kind of Grandmother back then. Where was my cookie-making, story book reading, cuddly Grandmother? All my other friends had one?

It wasn’t until I was in High School that I got it. No, she didn't bake or cuddle, but Nita taught me things that I keep with me to this day. I look around me and see slouched shoulders and shudder. Anytime a cup of hot water arrives with the tea bag on the side, I send it back. Hot water goes over tea, not the other way around. I know where the oyster fork goes, how many people can say that?

Regal is a state of mind. I learned that from Nita. There wasn’t a royal bone in her body but you wouldn’t have known. She held herself like a queen. She ruled her kingdom with a fierce adherence to manners, decorum, and political prowess. Her court was visited by the powerful, beautiful, and popular. With a cold vodka in one hand, a monogrammed handkerchief in the other, no one could deny that she was, in fact, more divine than the Queen Mum could ever hope to be.

Today is Nita’s birthday. She left us for the big dinner party in the sky four years ago at the age of 100. Three beautiful, stylish, and talented women - my mother, auntie “rabbit,” and auntie “Mame” - will be toasting Nita with vodka and caviar tonight; glamour indeed. Sip gracefully ladies, she’ll be watching.

Happy Birthday Nita, wherever you may be, you taught me to be a Duchess and I’ll always love you for that. 

May 19, 2011

Did You Say Football-Sized Cacao Beans?

Here is the original Time article
Yes, yes I did.

I would be a very bad foodie indeed if I didn't share this exciting bit of news. An ancient cacao bean, thought to be extinct, was recently found in the wilds of Ecuador by a group of adventurous Americans. This bean is "the most genetically pure expression of cacao ever found." Apparently, when roasted, this bean gives the least bitter, yet most chocolaty flavor possible.

It's going to be incredibly expensive, I'm sure. There wont be any brownies or chocolate chip cookies, made with the stuff... actually scratch that. I have every confidence that the king of chocolate, Jacques Torres, will be offering ancient chocolate ship cookies for $10 a pop.

And yes, I'm just enough of a chocoholic to give in and get a bag.

I don't know when it will hit our shores, or in what form it will arrive, but here's hoping that Jacques will leave the masses enough to try it for themselves.

May 10, 2011

Holy Cream, Batman!

My friend, Dara, brought back Pretzel Cream Cheese ice cream one day from lunch weeks ago. It was heavenly; inspired, even. Said ice cream came from a hole in the wall shop on Ninth Avenue and 53rd street, (no website, sorry), close to our offices. Since that fated day, we've been promising to go back together. It's more than just homemade artisan ice cream, you see. Holey Cream offers something so insane, so over-the-top, so damned genius... the Donut Ice Cream Sandwich. Today was the day we went. 

*The following should be illegal.

The interior wall with instructions: 

Three of us chose two different unholy concoctions. Chocolate donut, with Guatemalan Truffle ice cream (made from Guatemalan coffee with chocolate truffles), Black and White Hotel ice cream (made with rum, dark chocolate and white chocolate bits), Dark Cookie Cream (dark chocolate ice cream with cookies), and  an array of neon sprinkles. 

Please enjoy the food porn:

The second donut was vanilla, with some more traditional ice creams. 
We topped it with Oreos, sprinkles, and mint chips.

I don't think I need to bore you with how delicious it all was. The pictures speak for themselves, no?
I will say this, Ambrosia has a run for it's heavenly money. 

The aftermath:

May 6, 2011

Craving Conquered!

I was absolutely craving Linguine alla Vongole (linguine with clams) last night. I don't know why, but sometime at around 3 P.M. the image of lovely clams, nestled in a pile of lovely pasta, covered in copious amounts of wine and garlic wouldn't stop nagging me. In fact, at 3:30 P.M., a colleague and I had a half hour long conversation about how most recipes skimp on the garlic and wine. We followed up that conversation with delightful stories of our local fish mongers... I love fellow foodies wherever they may be hiding.

Thankfully, the craving was easily fixed. In fact, besides the clams, I had everything at home at the ready. I'm guessing you might, too. Along with the pasta, we had a lovely fresh Caprese salad (tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper), and loaf of Italian bread (how else were you planning on soaking up all that amazing left over garlicky wine sauce?) It was the perfect warm weather meal and the next time we have people over, it's what I'll be making. All I'll need is some Gelato and fresh berries for dessert.

Feel free, as always, to make this recipe your own. More garlic? Sure. More wine? Yup. Crushed red pepper flakes? Go for it.

Linguine alla Vongole
1 lb linguine
8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Clams (2 dozen large, or 2 lbs smaller varieties like Manila, or even cockles)
1 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup clam juice
1 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tbs butter (or the "fake" stuff, like Smart Balance)
2 tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup flour (for clams only)

-Fill a large bowl with 1/2 cup flour and very cold water. Let the clams soak in the bowl for 15-30 minutes. They will suck in the flour and spit out any grit or sand. This works with mussels, too.
-Meanwhile, set a large pot of salted water to boil. Slice the garlic and chop the parsley, set aside. Heat oil in heavy bottom pot, like dutch oven, add garlic and sautee until cooked through but not browned. Add wine, clam juice, and half the parsley; cook until boiling.
-Rinse and scrub the clam shells very, very well to rid them of any flour, grit, and sand (there is nothing worse then grit in your pasta). While pasta is cooking, place clams in pot and cover, shaking the covered pot gently every once in a while to help open clams. Cook the pasta about one minute less than you normally would and drain.
-Once clams have opened, place pasta in the sauce pot, add the butter, salt and pepper to your liking, and cook for about one minute or so, stirring everything together. Serve immediately. Remember to have that bread handy to soak up the left over sauce!