Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial day: The last hours.

Menu: project leftovers
Shrimp cocktail
Watermelon & Feta salad
Roasted corn with parsley butter
Grilled pineapple with honey & mint
Diana sauce BBQ (on the big green egg) ribs
Strawberry shortcake

We used leftover clam baked shrimp to make shrimp cocktail.  How gorgeous is this?
My friend Eleia did all of the photography for these dishes…and did a wonderful job for a novice photographer!  She's going to be a first time Mama this July…cannot wait to meet this new lil one! 
Bought a fresh mini seedless watermelon and combined with feta that was leftover from the dip we made yesterday afternoon.  Added a cucumber that was left in the fridge and a small handful of chopped mint.  I simply combined everything with a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette, a couple turns of the bowl with grape seed oil, salt and pepper.  
Corn was leftover from the clam bake and grilled.  To serve alongside we simmered up some butter and added a handful of chopped parsley.
Had a pineapple that we didn't end up using so we cut it up, grilled and then drizzled with honey.
Ribs:  My hubby's famous summer time dish…grilled on the big green egg which is his prize smoker.  Pretty out of this world.
Eleia made the strawberry shortcake and I couldn't have loved this flaky, fruit and whip creamy dessert more.  This recipe is off the back of the Bisquick box…and is a MUST.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Memorial day, part deux.

Tonight's menu…The Maine man's bake
Garbanzo & pomegranate dip with pita chips
Tomato & ginger soup with spiced oil
Jeff's famous outdoor bbq clam bake
Crusty bread for dipping

So the boys played golf while E and I hung by the pool with the LM.  To welcome the golfers back home we kicked the late afternoon off with this incredibly healthy, bright and delicious garbanzo & pomegranate dip with pita chips. 

Time for dinner prep, the sun has set and the wine has been cracked…so please excuse the dark and not so perfectly food styled pics ;)

Shown here…the tomato & ginger soup with spiced oil.

Served in margarita glasses.
The table:  Soft candle lighting, new dishes from the Calypso for Target line (god did I love their stuff.) and leftover herbs (cilantro and parsley) in mason jars for flowers.
Finally...Ta da!  The best shot of our friend Jeff's clambake.  He says…"I just follow the recipe".  It's super easy, with a boy from Maine's magic touch.  See recipe here on Rachael Ray's site.
You don't want to miss out this summer…give it a whirl.  And make sure to use the freshest ingredients.  We shop at Cor-J's in the Hampton Bays…right on the water where you'll find the best fish out east.
*Cor-J's Seafood Corp is located at 36 Lighthouse Road, Hampton Bays, NY 11946 (631) 728-5186

Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial day…finally.

It's been a super drawn out, wet, long, and super cold winter.  No spring…well not much at least and finally, the heat is on.  Though not consistently.

For the long Memorial day weekend, we went out to the house and started the initial summer set up.  Brought up the patio furniture, lounge chairs and got out some summer toys for the LM.  On the to do list for the next weekend out:  Power spray and oxiclean clean the outdoor loungewear.

As per the usual routine, cooking and eating were our number 1 priorities.
Here's what we dined on for our Memorial day weekend, evening #1:

Dinner for 4 ~
Fresh tomato & red onion salsa w/chips
Chili & lime avocado boats
Jalepeno skirt steak w/salsa verde
Crispy chorizo quesadillas w/guacamole
Crab & gruyere nachos w/charred tomato salso
Farmer's market blueberry pie

Recipes ~
Fresh tomato & red onion salsa w/chips
*recipe adapted from 500 recipes by Susannah Blake
3 tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
1 red onion, quartered and finely sliced
1 green chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped
3 good pinches of ground cumin
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
Put the tomatoes, onion, chili pepper, cumin, vinegar and oil in a bowl.  Season with salt and toss to combine.  Add the cilantro and toss again.  Serve or chill.
Chili & Lime avocado boats 
*recipe adapted from Rachael Ray with an LMP twist:
1 ear of corn, cut off the husk and sauteed with salt + pepper
1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped
2 scallions sliced on an angle
handful of cilantro, finely chopped
small palmful of cumin
pinch of salt + pepper
Mix everything together well and taste.  Add salt + pepper if needed to taste.  Pile on top of the avocados and enjoy!
Skirt steak w/salsa verde
*Recipe from my friend Melanie (double recipe for 4 people)

1/3 cup lime juice
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced jalapeno
1 pound skirt steak, trimmed           
In a bowl, combine the lime juice, olive oil, garlic and jalapeno. Add steak to the marinade and refrigerate.
Remove the steak from the marinade and scrape off any remaining marinade.  Heat a grill pan until very hot.  Add the steak and cook about 4 minutes per side for medium rare.  Serve with salsa verde.

Salsa Verde 
            ½ pound tomatillos, husked and roasted
            1/4 cup white onion, coarsely chopped
            2 serranos, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped           
            1 clove garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
            1/4 cup cilantro leaves
Combine the ingredients in a blender or food processor.
Crispy chorizo quesadillas with guacamole
Crab & Gruyere nachos with charred tomato salsa
*recipes adapted from small bites by jennifer joyce
Blueberry pie from Briermere Farms in Riverhead with vanilla bean ice cream.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

baking + baking = challah & muffins

So I'm not a baker.  I don't have the patience for it.  You'll see from my creations where I go wrong.  And I know flat out what my problem is...I get lazy!  I don't have the attention span for fine detail when it comes to the exact measurements required for this task, I'm too busy!  BUT I do love the taste & smell of freshly baked goods and I want to learn how to bake and make my goodies look pretty.  Practice makes perfect…I hope.
SO - I give it a run and have some fun…today we make:
Challah - a family fave.  My mom used to make this when we were growing up and every time I smell that challah in the oven I feel like I'm 5 again.  I've been making this recipe quite a lot lately.  I mean, do you know how good it is to wake up on a Saturday morning and have some sunny side up eggs + a fresh peice of challah?  It's pretty unreal.  And once it starts to get stale…go French toast on it.  A-mazing.
(Prize winning recipe)
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 c. warm water
1 pkg. yeast
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. warm water
1/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
3 1/4 - 4 c. flour
poppy or sesame seeds
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tsp water
Dissolve sugar in 1/2 c. warm water in a large mixing bowl which has first been rinsed with hot water.  Sprinkle yeast on top and let stand for 10 minutes.  Stir to dissolve.  Combine with oil, water, sugar, eggs and half of flour.  Beat well.  Stir in remaining flour.  Dough should be sticky.  Cover dough and let rest for 10 minutes.  Turn out onto a floured board and knead for 10 minutes*, adding flour as needed.  Round up in a greased bowl.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Punch down, cover and let rise again until double, about 45 minutes.  Divide dough into 3 equal parts.  Shape into strands.  Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and braid loosely.  Fasten ends securely.  Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until double.  Brush with beaten egg yolk (and water) and sprinkle with seeds.  Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Seriously, crusty on outside, fluffy and soft on the inside:  yum.  Now again, please excuse my ugly pics (yes I'm my own worst critic)…I didn't have Scott here to shoot for me today ;)
*regarding the kneading…damn it's a bizz.  It will kill your arms but woah, what a work out!  You must do it for the full 10 minutes.  Set a timer if you have to.  You can't skimp.  Here's what the dough should look like (though it should be smoother then mine) after your kneading is complete.
Now…onto Zucchini & Carrot muffins.  These came about because of a few things…
1.)  I had gluten free carrot muffins made for the brunch I did last Sunday…and from these I had leftover organic shredded carrots that I wanted to use up…
2.)  LM had a party for his last day of a class that he takes…and I wanted to bake a little treat that he could share.
So I thought, why not make muffins.  Easy, healthy and delicious.
I went on ol' Google and found a new site that is awesome!  Its called Real Mom Kitchen.  I'm always looking for new recipes to cook for my family and that's just what you'll find on this site.  I followed her recipe to a tee and my mini zucchini & carrot muffins turned out so great…I ate a dozen of them today.  Actually, I'm not kidding.  I ate 12 little muffins today.  Is that acceptable?
Stay tuned for postings to come from the memorial day weekend.  Dear friends of ours are coming out and we have a lot of cooking to do…should be fun and super tasty.  To all my pals livin in the usa…have a great long weekend!  And to all of my canadian friends + family…sorry I didn't say earlier…happy may 2-4!  xx

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dinner and a Movie: East Village

I had plans to see Bridesmaids with a friend tonight.  What a hoot this movie was.  A must see!
We wanted to grab dinner prior to catching the show and I was on the case.  So I asked my neighbor who like me loves food, if she had any suggestions.  I wanted east village location, outdoor seating (because we finally got a decent day) and delicious food.  Here's what she gave me…
* Barbone
* Back Forty
* Moustache
* Frank
* Tree
* Candela
* Mermaid Inn
I've been to Frank 100 times and wanted to try something new.  Mermaid Inn is a classic favorite of mine and always will be.  Been to Back Forty and didn't love the menu.  Dying to try the rest.  

Decisions, decisions. 

I had heard great things about Moustache so I figured we'd give is a try.  When we arrived we were very disappointed when sent to the garden in the back as it was fully closed in.  And it was HOT!  I mean really hot, I started to sweat.  Not a great start to the meal.

We started off with a Greek salad with feta and a hummus platter.  The salad had artichokes and mushrooms in it.  Odd for a Greek salad, no?  I hated both additions.  The dressing was bland and the tomatoes were mushy which is a major pet peeve of mine.  Think it may have been the grossest Greek salad I've ever eaten.  The hummus was missing something…maybe some salt?  For our mains we shared grilled chicken kebabs and lamb ribs.  Both were outstanding.  
I was happy to at least have had a couple of tasty dishes not to mention the service was pretty good as we told them we were in a rush to see a movie and they were very accommodating.

Overall, I cannot recommend this restaurant…BUT I so appreciate the suggestion from my pal down the hall and am certainly looking forward to trying the rest of the pending list above.

265 East 10th Street (between 1st and Avenue A)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Spring time birthday brunch

Today I put on a little miss party affair to remember.  A dear friend of ours turned 40 and I got the pleasure of working with her husband to surprise her with a weekend she'd never forget…
This hubby of the year planned a birthday party at the Italian Wine Merchants on Saturday night.  Friends from all over traveled to town to be a part of the suprise celebration and a true surprise it was!  It was a fabulous venue where they served a wide variety of wines and delectable Italian food.

The next day was my opportunity to shine as the little miss party planner.  In their home, I took my wonderful staff and went in to set up a brunch for 20 adults and 10 kids.  Inspired by the green leaves that finally started to bloom, seasonally fragrant and bushy lilacs, and the farms that are back in business after the winter's frost, I put together a beautifully delicious spread.  The menu was as follows ---

For the kids:
·      Crudités shaped as a large flower with ranch for dipping
·      Mini frittatas
·      Mini bagels
·      Homemade veggie cream cheese
·      Assortment of cubed cheese, grapes and crackers
For the Adults:
·      Strawberry balsamic green salad
·      Assortment of sliced fresh bagels from Murrays Bagels
·      Lox, dill & lemons 
·      Homemade veggie cream cheese & plain cream cheese
·      Tuna salad stuffed vine ripened tomatoes
·      Mini veggie & cheese frittatas
·      Turkey bacon skewers
  ·  French toast bites in cups of syrup (inspired by the Hostess with the Mostess)
·     Carrot muffins (gluten free special for our client)

Dessert table:
·       K-Pops (Kreated by Kristan)    
·      Banana Pops  (gluten free - a first for LMP by (Kreated by Kristan)
 ·   Ice cream cone cupcakes (inspired by my friend who just recently bought an ice cream maker…)
·      Chocolate covered pretzels
  · Mini fudge brownies (gluten free)
·      Fruit skewers
·      Lemonade with fresh mint
·      Pomegranate mimosas
·      Sparkling water with lemons & limes
·      Personalized bottles of water
     And finally, I used yogurt covered pretzels from Whole Foods to fill small mason jars tied with ribbon to giveaway to each guest as a thank you for celebrating the morning after…
     Thanks again to Scott Clark for the most wonderful pictures.  It's a pleasure working with such a talented photographer.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dinner in the hood

My hubby and I went to dinner with our new friends tonight:  our neighbors who live down the hall.  It was basically a first date and was without Mac & LM.  Translation:  their dog and our son (who are BFF's and hang out in the hallway once a day, at least).
It was nice to have some adult time and even nicer to try this fabulous new restaurant a few blocks from our apartment called Osteria Morini.  A traditional Italian menu with a selection of dishes that was more then enticing.  We shared a whole bunch of plates starting with a meat platter that was served with homemade garlic butter (heaven).  We also got the grilled calamari which was beyond delicious, the prosciutto and mortadella meatballs baked in tomato sauce (divine) and the stracci pasta (also a hit).  Really a great way to start off the meal.  Our main course, which we also shared amongst the table was a mixed grill of side pork, sweet sausage, lamb chop and skirt steak.  Out of this world.  Each meat was better then the next.  Well except for the pork. I actually loved it but it was insanely fatty and skeeved me out a little bit…but again, I ate it all.  HA!  
We topped the meal off with fresh strawberry and apricot gelato with whip cream.  Very refreshing after this heavy but tasty meal.
We also left with a sighting of the Counting Crow's Adam Duritz.  Doesn't float my boat but did for my pal with whom we were dining…
Overall, major props to this new joint.  It's close to the apartment, really cozy inside and the menu is out of this world.  You've gotta try it.
218 Lafayette Street (just south of Spring)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Gedding in Mexico

A Gedding:  A gay wedding.
My dear friends just tied the knot in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  What a trip!
My LM walked down the aisle as the ring boy, with the help of his papa...and I was honored as one of the bridesmaids.  The wedding was basically like a fashion show.  One of the grooms is VP of production for Alice + Olivia (my fave) and the other is a designer for DKNY.  So I'm sure you can imagine...this dream team put on quite the show!  They had the most amazing outfits themselves...gorgeous tux's &  shoes and had the gals in the bridal party dolled up as if we were going to walk the tents at Bryant Park for fashion week.  Each of us glammed up in our own one of kind black Alice + Olivia dress.  Amazing.
As we all got ready in the presidential suite we noshed on Mexico pizza, nachos + guacamole and salads.  Everything was delish and much needed for fueling up prior to the long night we had ahead.
As for the wedding, it was beautiful.  From the touching commitment ceremony on the beach to the gorgeous ocean backdrop, everything was just perfect.  I especially loved the personalized shot glasses that the boys had made up as give well as the beautiful tables under the pergolas that were right on the beach.  Not to mention the DJ was fantastic, the cake was gorge and there were fireworks! 
It was the best gay wedding I've ever attended, also the first.  And I couldn't be happier for my pals who got hitched.  I wish them nothing but happiness together forever.  xoxo