Throwback Thursday – Saigon Casa

Vietnamese crepe

Pho

Six weeks ago we decided to check out Saigon Casa, Vietnamese restaurant in Port Jefferson Station in Long Island.

The menu has limited options in comparison to what I’m used to seeing in other Vietnamese restaurants in Queens.

One of the dishes that we had to order was the pho. There were many types of pho, but we ordered the Pho Tai Nam Gau, which a beef soup containing rare steak, brisket and flank steak with noodles on the side.

The soup tasted good and we loved the fact that we can add the noodles at our discretion to our small bowls. I am still in search and experimenting recipes that replicated the best one I’ve had to date at the Pho Bang in Elmhurst.

Another dish I had was the Vietnamese Sizzling Crepe called Bang Xeo. This crepe was sold as a special item at this restaurant. The dish was huge and it is made of rice flour and tumeric stuffed with shrimp and pork. The dish was delicious and I want to make this dish.

I would like to return to thus restaurant to try their other dishes.

Social Saturday – Andaz Kitchen and Bar – Wall Street

Happy Saturday and I’m counting down the days until I’m able to eat food with refined/processed sugar again. As I stated in my last post, I gave up sugar except for the natural sugars in fruits and vegetables for 40 days for Lent. It’s been really challenging and hard especially this last 10 days with the gatherings for St. Patrick’s Day.

Ten days ago I’ve have had the privilege to see a preview of the food and drink at the revived Andaz Kitchen and Bar at the Andaz Wall Street Hotel in Wall Street. Previously named Dina Rata, which I learned was an Indian name meaning moon. It was deceiving that a place with that name was serving Italian food. Anyways, I preferred the new name.

When I arrived, I was greeted with champagne which I did not drink due to the sugar content. However, I settled for the Chianti which has low sugar, thanks to one of the general managers who suggested the wine as he also gave up sugar. The wine went well with my selection of crudites containing fruits, and vegetables with no hummus, dressing and/or dip to avoid the possibility to ingesting sugar.

I was impressed by the food display and presentation. I loved the color of the vegetables indicating that it is fresh. I also liked the cheese and cold cuts selection.

Next, the passed food samples from the menu, which included a variety of dishes inspired from different cultures including Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Italy and Vietnam.

Below are images of the food created by Executive Chef Pietro Consorti from the event:

Crudites

Cheese and charcuterie display

Tasting plate of cheese and cold cuts

Tasting plate of fresh and colorful vegetables

Bread, butter and anchovies

Jerk Pork Sliders

Toasted prosciutto and baguette

Puntarelle e stracciatella

Panzarella red snapper and green olives

Beef Peccadillo plantains

Fruit berry tart

Rum babba

Flan de leche

Liquid Lab mixology interactive cocktail session setup

It was obvious that I did not eat everything due to the 40 day sugar sacrifice. As a result I did not try anything containing bread and dessert. However, my favorite even from just looking at the menu was the Beef Peccadillo plantains.

Thank you to the management team at Andaz and Andaz Kitchen and Bar including Executive Chef Pietro Consorti for making me feel welcomed. I can’t wait to return and sample the remaining dishes.

Big shout out to the Liquid Lab team for a great demo on making the cocktails, which I could not participate. I do look forward to seeing them in the future.

Stay tuned for more.

Lent – Sugarless Diet Game Plan

Hello everyone Happy Presidents Day! We as the title states it’s that Christian season again, Lent. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which was the same day as Valentine’s Day. This Lenten season I decided to give up sugar with the exception of fruit and vegetables. So far, I’m getting through it but at the same time it is difficult especially when I had to eat out for Chinese New Year. Eating out was a challenge because I don’t know whether sugar was added to the diet. As a result, I ended up at a buffet, a Middle Eastern and Hibachi restaurant.

For the first five days of Lent, here were my meals containing 0g of sugar:

What I’ve realized is to successfully accomplish this I have to cook my meals at home.

After going through my current pantry at home, I’ve discovered more limitations to this no sugar sacrifice. However, this week’s game plan will consists of the following ingredients that contains no sugars to date:

Black beans

Red Kidney beans

Eggs

Salmon

Cod

Ground Kobe beef

Ground Turkey

Olive oil

Coconut oil

Ghee

Butter

Quorn Chik ‘n Patty

Cauliflower

Asparagus

Oats

Rice

Parmesan cheese

Cream cheese

Almond milk

Strawberries

Blueberries

Follow me on Instagram at tablespoonsandteaspoons for updates on the recipes made this week with these ingredients.

Flashback Friday – Winter 2018 NYC Restaurant Week

Today is the last day of NYC Restaurant Week and after reviewing menus and reviews, I was not impressed with the options that were offered this season. Therefore, I was considering skipped this season’s restaurant week. However two of my friends wanted to do restaurant week lunch and dinner. So after getting my arm twisted, I ended up eating a really good lunch at Cut by Wolfgang Puck in Lower Manhattan. My friend wanted to eat there and so I joined her. The service at this restaurant was really good and very accommodating.

For $29, my lunch prix fixe included the following: goat cheese ravioli, crispy quail salad and empire apple crumble.

For dinner, I decided to use my $100 gift card I won at last year’s American Cancer Society Taste of Hope event to eat from Massoni, an Italian/Asian casual fusion restaurant. Service was not par and food was not what I had expected. Furthermore the waiter was terrible, he didn’t know how the food was made and screwed up people’s orders. He suggested items for the $42 prix fixe, which was a bad idea because everything was salty. The waiter too responsibility for his mistake and gave me a free drink and a side dish of squash.

In addition, I took advantage of the happy hour $8 wines until 7pm. I had a Falanghina/fuedi di san gregorio 2014, a white wine and a Barbera/pico maccario 2015, a red wine.

For the $42 salty three course prix fixe dinner, I ordered Biriyani balls, Brussels sprouts pizza, and Snickers cannoli. Let’s put it this way, the cannoli was the best dish out of the three. The first two dishes were so salty that I couldn’t finish it, my friend shared the appetizer with me and I took leftover Brussels Sprouts pizza home.

By far Massoni was probably the worse restaurant week meal I have had and I used the remaining balance on the gift card to order more food to see if their regular menu was better….

My friend ordered the salmon and it was supposed to have potatoes and leeks. Let’s just say the dish was a disappointment because it not only had too much dill but it was salty with very little potatoes and leeks.

If it was not for the gift certificate I would not have eaten at this restaurant. I believe the food needs more work, I have to give the benefit of the doubt that this place opened less than a year ago. Honestly, I would not come back here, there are more restaurants out there to try for better food and service.

Sunday Game Plan – Superbowl 2018

After months of obligations and commitments, today is my lucky day. I visited Stop & Shop to do my weekly grocery shopping and I decided to go crazy by buying items that was applicable to the Blood Type Diet such as ground lamb and turkey wings. In addition I had plan B if either or both dishes failed, which was Kidfresh Little Jammin Chicken Sliders and Gold Metal Sliders rolls, both on sale this week.

Let’s cut to the chase and show you the plan for this year’s high protein Superbowl feast.

1) Roasted Turkey Wings inspired by Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli

2) Lamb Meatballs with Lemon Cumin Yogurt inspired by Chowhound

3) Kidfresh Little Jammin Chicken Sliders

Keep in mind this is the first time I am making the Turkey Wings and lamb meatballs.

For the Turkey Wings, I marinated the wings with 5 tablespoons of canola oil, salt and pepper. There was difficulty cutting the wings into smaller pieces that my mother had to help. The wing pieces were placed on a greased baking sheet.

The wing pieces were baked in the oven for 90 minutes (1 hour & 30 minutes) to 105 minutes (1 hour & 45 minutes) at 375 degrees.

While the wings are cooking, the baste/sauce was prepared using the following mixture:

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons Datu Putu (sugar cane vinegar)

1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce

Curry powder

Before mixing

About 10 minutes before the wings are completely roasted, place a table spoons of the mixture and baste across each wing.

While the Turkey Wings were cooking, prep the lamb meatballs. To prepare the lamb meatballs, mix the following until blended:

1 pound ground lamb

1/2 red onion, chopped

Cilantro

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Salt

Pepper

Cumin

Cinnamon

Take 2 tablespoons of the mixture to form a ball.

Place the meatballs at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the lemon cumin yogurt sauce by mixing:

4 tablespoons plain yogurt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Cilantro

Cumin

Then with plan B, the sliders were prepared using Kidfresh Chicken Sliders according to packaging instructions.

Toast the slider rolls with butter until toasted.

Throwback Thursday РNational Spaghetti Day РScarpetta 

Happy New Year! On this first Thursday of 2018, we will be celebrating National Spaghetti Day! 

Spaghetti was historically recorded around the 12th century in Sicily by Muhammad al-Idrisi, Muslim historian and geographer who served at the court of Sicilian King Roger II. It was not until the 19th century that this dish became popular throughout Italy and abroad especially the United States.  Currently, spaghetti has been modernized and mass produced where the ingredients are now sold in canned and boxed form at almost all supermarkets. 

A few years ago I heard about the best spaghetti in New York City from various press such as the New York Times, CBS Local, Timeout, Zagat, Thrillist and Serious Eats.  Scarpetta, located in the Meatpacking District has elevated the spaghetti dish made with tomato and basil by using butter.  At a whopping cost of $26, the presentation and taste made every cent worthwhile. 

Spaghetti with tomato and basil $26

Further research revealed that Serious Eats met with Scarpetta’s Scott Conant and watched him make this signature dish. The ingredients provided makes this dish potentially budget friendly. However, it is the technique that makes the dish what it is. Hopefully when the weather clears up, I’ll make the dish with the ingredients provided. 

For those who don’t have access to the ingredients and more or less lazy, this dish can be made with three ingredients: 

1) Pasta (I used Barilla Whole Grain Thin Spaghetti) = $1.00 on sale 

2) Spaghetti Sauce (I used Victoria Low sodium tomato basil sauce) = $3.50 on sale

3) Butter (I used Earth Balance Organic Whipped Butter) = $3.50 on sale 

Three ingredient spaghetti under $10 (sorry for the picture, my phone was dying)

Throwback Thursday – Fishtail to Tavern 62

Happy Winter Solstice! Yes it’s officially winter and this year is going by way too fast.  I was reviewing the thousands of pictures taken within the last five years and I’ve come across several pictures taken of my meals eaten at David Burke Fishtail (closed on January 2016), which is now Tavern 62, which opened in October 2016.    Anyways, what I enjoyed eating at both places was the camaraderie vibe between the staff, bartenders and management.  I enjoyed the happy hour deals, well presented entrees and desserts. Food tasting at times varied depending on the day and whose cooking it and whether it was healthy or not is another story.  But anyhow, I am still drawn into eating at this place due to their seasonal changes in menu.  Below is a chronological timeline of some of the dishes consumed at Fishtail and Tavern 62.

Throwback Thursday – Thanksgiving for Two

On behalf of Tablespoonsandteaspoons we want to wish you and your family a happy Thanksgiving. Thank you to my followers for your continuing support. 

If you’re unable to celebrate Thanksgiving with your family, we came up with a meal that can be done in a hour and more importantly it’s budget friendly, healthy and low carb. 

Bacon Wrapped Turkey Cutlets with Brussels Sprout Casserole and Skinny Mashed Yams

Bacon Wrapped Turkey Cutlets – Recipe was adapted from Domesticated Wildchild and Grace Before Meals

Boneless Skinless Turkey Breast Cutlets $4.99/lb 

Bacon $3.99 

Salt

Pepper

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

2) Place aluminum foil on a baking sheet and lay 4 strips of bacon flat on the foiled baking sheet. 

3) Rinse 2-4 slices of turkey breast cutlets depending on size and place cutlets on top of the bacon. 

4) Season cutlets generously in salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Stack cutlets. 

5) Place the tips of the bacon to wrap around the cutlets and roll tightly. 

6) Place bacon wrapped turkey cutlets in the oven for one hour.  Rotate the baking sheets 180 degrees halfway. 

7) Remove from oven and let it cool for 10 minutes. 

Brussels Sprouts Casserole – Recipe was adapted from Grace Before Meals

1 tablespoon of butter (I used the Earth Balance Organic Whipped Butter) $3.50 

16 pieces of Brussels sprouts -$2.99/lb.

Ocean spray craisins  (dried cranberries) at 2 for $3 ($1.50)

1/4 cup of water 

1/4 cup of breadcrumbs $1.50

1) Rinse and cut Brussels sprouts into quarters.

2) Melt butter in a non stick pan

3) Add Brussels sprouts and let it cool for 4 mins. 

4) Add dried cranberries and water and let it cook until water is evaporated. 

5) Add breadcrumbs and mix until toasted. 

Skinny Mashed Yams – Recipe was adapted from Tasty Kitchen

2 yams washed and cubed = $0.59/lb

Cinnamon 

Salt

Butter

1) Wash and cut yams into cubes.

2) Add yams to boiling water and cook until fork tender. 

3) Drain yams. Mash yams and add cinnamon and butter as needed. 

There you have it, a date night/Thanksgiving meal for two that can be done in one hour with each dish requiring no more than five ingredients. 

From our family to yours, once again Happy Thanksgiving! Cheers! 

Flashback Friday – Chinese Noodle Soup Adventures

Since the temperature plummeted last week, I’ve been having cravings for noodle soup made from Chinese handmade noodles or homemade ramen specifically.  What I love about these noodles is that I don’t have the knowledge that the noodles are processed, what I mean is that it does not contain the durum wheat, which has been documented as a source for weight gain and obesity.  In addition to the healthy appearing noodles, the broth is made to perfection especially on a cold winter night.  

Below are places I’ve had ramen and or homemade Chinese Noodle soup that it’s worth the money spent and it’s filling. 

Mixed Lamb Noodle Soup $8 Uncle Zhou Elmhurst

Spicy Chicken Ramen Soup – $6.95 Cafe Water Water Street NYC

Beef Stew Hand Drawn Noodle Soup – Lao Bei Fang Dumpling House – Elmhurst

Wonton Hand Drawn Noodle Soup – Lao Bei Fang Dumpling House

Kuu Chili Ramen $14 with House Sake $6 during happy hour – Kuu Ramen – Financial District NYC

Mixed Lamb Noodle Soup $8 – Uncle Zhou – Elmhurst, NY

Spicy Beef Knife shaved noodle soup – Uncle Zhou – Elmhurst NY

Knife shaped noodles – Uncle Zhou – Elmhurst NY

Social Saturday: 24th Annual Japanese Food and Restaurant Expo 

We happily attended the 24th Annual Japanese Food and Restaurant Expo hosted by the New York Mutual Trading Company

This year’s expo had a better layout but fewer food vendors and sample products were smaller especially the ramen.  There were new products, but last year’s food sampling was better.  I felt that this year’s food expo highlighted the trend of shochu drinks, which is a type of liquor that can substitute for hard liquors such as vodka, rum and whiskey. There were more warm sake options. Below are highlights of event: