Meatless Monday – Game Plan – Meatless Budget Friendly Dishes Inspired by “Dinner with Georgia O’Keefe”

Two Mondays ago, on March 20, I’ve had the privilege to attend the launch of Assouline’s “Dinner with Georgia O’Keefe” at La Sirena located in the Meatpacking District in Manhattan.  The event was well attended by local TV personalities and celebrities such as Carla Hall from ABC The Chew, Nicky Hilton Rothchild, Timo Weiland, Prosper Assouline, and Alexandre Assouline. 

Artistic and natural images depicting the relationship between art and food were provided by Robyn Lea who was present to sign copies of the book.  Recipes from the cookbook utilizes local and traditional ingredients inspired by the artist’s relationship of food and the New Mexican landscape. 

More importantly I came there to explore and taste the food created by La Sirena’s Michelin starred chef Anthony Sasso. Cocktails were sponsored by VDKA600. 

The food was overall tasty and natural. The recipes provided appear to be user friendly and ingredients are health-friendly and accessible at any supermarket. Unfortunately I was unable to taste everything because of the sacrificial commitment to give up meat for Lent. 

Top: Miss Scarlet “O’Keefe” containing VD600Vodka in Mandarin orange. Bottom: The Tao Margherita

Chilled Gazpacho

Chickpea and Eggplant Casserole with Fresh Basil

Split Pea and Ham appetizer inspired from the Rancho de Abiquiu Split Pea and Ham recipe

Finger food version of the Spaghetti with Pesto Genovese

Steak tartare using ingredients from the Sizzling Bourbon steak with garlic and crushed peppercorn recipe

Pecan Delights

Finger foods inspired by recipes from the book

For the next two weeks, I will be seeking to test out the meatless version of this recipes such as the spaghetti and pesto Genovese and chickpea and eggplant casserole. 

Throwback Thursday- Taste of Hope

Happy Thursday! It’s been a week since my last post plus I’ve been getting over a sinus infection/cold/sore throat. As a result my meals has been chicken soup and miso soup. 

Anyways today’s Throwback Thursday post will be about a charity event that I am honored to be a part of the Benefit Committee for. It’s the American Cancer Society Taste of Hope. This year, they will be hosting their 12th Annual event on Tuesday May 9, 2017 in New York City. Early Bird tickets start at $175 for general admission, but the best deal is $450 for two premium tickets, which includes a gift bag. 

Below are images from last year’s Taste of Hope event. I have had the privilege to purchase a ticket and donate to this great cause. 

Bombay Sapphire Cocktail

Calle Ocho – Guava BBQ Meatball Slider

Triomphe – Foie Gras Mousse Hazelnut & Rooftop Greens

The Leopard at Des Artistes – Gnudi

Tito’s Handmade Vodka

Todd English Enterprises – Crispy Duck Buns

Delicatessen – Steamed Shrimp Dumplings

Nobu – Tuna Sashimi with Tofu Aioli

Magnolia Bakery – Banana Pudding, cupcakes, chocolate chunk cookies

BLT Prime – Salt Brick Beef with Aji Amarillo

Serendipity- Frrrozen Hot Chocolate

The food options were overwhelming but thanks to one of the honorees who provided direction that I was able to enjoy the best aspects of the food sampling. Obviously I was not paying attention on what was being consumed was healthy. 

Another plus is some of the restaurants are also participating in NYC restaurant week. Stay tuned for a post containing my recommendations for this season’s restaurant week. 

Flashback Friday – Hair of the Dog 

Happy Friday! Happy Candy Day! Today I am revisiting an afterwork Friday happy hour experience at the Lower East side sports bar called Hair of the Dog. This bar is part of a chain called NYC Best Bars is known for their happy hours and brunch. Happy Hour is half price of every drink at the bar until 8pm. For brunch they of “BYOC” Bring Your Own Coffee. 

In addition to the happy hour offer, I had to experience the food. The menu had a great variety of bar food. I was there for a brief birthday party and I had dinner plans after so I only ordered one appetizer and their only dessert item on the menu.  

For appetizers, I went with the combo of onion rings and Tater Tots ($7), portions were pretty big so it is great for sharing. Both tater tots and onion rings were crisp to perfection; the grease complemented and absorbed the vanilla vodka and ginger ale cocktail I had. 

The bar menu only had one dessert, which was Deep fried oreos. Given that the other bars that is part of the chain offered Deep fried oreos, I had to order it. After consuming 2 cocktails the fried oreos definitely hit the spot and covered up somega evidence of my alcohol consumption. 

After looking at this food picture, I did a little research on any healthier options to make these dishes. Below, are three reasons recipes I found online that I would like try: 

Healthy version of Deep Fried Oreos: Baked “Deep Fried” Oreos

Tater Tots using sweet potatoes (healthy alternative): Baked Sweet Potato Tater Tots plus Baked Onion Rings

Stay tuned for updates. Also find me on Instagram (tablespoonsandteaspoons). 

Throwback Thursday – National Sandwich Day

Happy Thursday! First I want to congratulate the Chicago Cubs for finally breaking the curse and winning the World Series after 108 years. Anyways back to food it is National Sandwich Day. 

As I was watching world series history, the commercial for Subway came up with their promotion of buy 1 sub and drink get 1 free sub.  With all due respect to the bargain eats and listing of calories promoted by Subway, I am going to share two different sandwich experiences. 

Both sandwiches were purchased in the Financial District during lunch both were under $10 and it feels like eating a meal for two. Both sandwiches is a perfect quick meal as you consume protein, vegetables, with or without calcium and carbs in one shot. 

The first sandwich I had was a vegetarian sandwich from Num Pang, a Cambodian sandwich shop. There are six locations throughout the city. The shop had a great variety of sandwiches along with rice balls and drinks such as watermelon juice and Vietnamese coffee. All their sandwiches consist of freshly made semolina or quinoa baguette with pickled carrots, cucumbers, cilantro and chili mayo.  One of their cheapest sandwiches that appeared to be healthy yet very tasty was their Spicy Organic Tofu ($7.95). The sandwich was freshly made and served warm. The sandwich had a perfect balance of the firm tofu and vegetables, well worth the price.

Recently I was exploring Eater’s top 60 cheap eats in New York city right now. One of the restaurants listed was Grotto Pizzeria and Restaurant also located in the Financial District. This hole in the wall restaurant has been around since 1985. You have to go down a several stairs. As you enter the place looks like a regular pizza takeout spot where pizzas and sandwiches are separated and ordered separately. The guy behind the counter pointed me in the right direction to the sandwiches. I went with the sandwich suggested by Robert Sistema and Eater, which was the the sausage, broccoli Rabe and mozzarella sandwich. I waited and ate half of this filling sandwich ($9.75 with tax). This sandwich has to be eaten with all its components in it as it had the bitterness of the broccoli Rabe, the saltiness of the sausage and the creaminess of the cheese on a fresh roll. 

Although I am not a sandwich person, I do enjoy a really good sandwich once in a while especially from Katz, Carnegie or Russ and Daughters. Definitely want one check out other cheap eats listed on the Eater’s top 60 cheap eats. 

Throwback Thursday – Pizzeria Forno E Trattoria

Earlier this spring I decided to try a neighborhood spot in Maspeth NY called Pizzeria Forno e Trattoria. I always pass by during my bus ride to Jackson Heights or doing my walk. The restaurant felt cozy and homey. The food looked really good and fresh. I even got overwhelmed with the options that I had to get recommendations from the manager and owner. 

So my guilty pleasure is cheese, I love cheese so given my cheese craving that day everything ordered had cheese in it. Therefore is what I ordered. 

Top photo: CREPE DI SPINACI $8.50 Crepe stuffed with ricotta and spinach topped with white four cheese sauce. 

Overall the dish was to die for the stuffed crepe just melts in my mouth and tasted all five kinds of cheese. It hit the spot. 

Bottom photo: Half Sopressata and half Quattro Formaggi pizza pie $23.50 

The pizza pie was freshly made and the pie crust was perfectly thin. I did not feel guilty consuming four different cheeses and the spicy salami. 

Flashback Friday – Dosas

Happy Friday! Although it is National Dessert Day, I have been fascinated about the popular Indian street food – Dosa.  When I first saw this dish, I was overwhelmed by the how big it is.  It is mostly served as a meal for a good part of the day.  Personally I have consumed it as an early dinner.

Dosas also known as Dosai is an ancient Tamil dish.  This gluten free, vegetarian street food dish is made up of rice and lentils.  Therefore, there are health benefits in its consumption.   Dosas are a good source of carbohydrates and protein that will last the whole day.  It is a lengthy process to make dosas and I don’t think that I will be making one anytime soon.  Therefore, I will be leaving this up to the pros.

Recently, I have had the experience of consuming this vegetarian dish at two places in New York City.   One famous spot world is Saravana Bhavan.  There are two locations in New York City (Manhattan).  This restaurant does not need an introduction because it is well known throughout India; the establishment of this franchise was made a controversial person who is banned from leaving India because he was convicted of murder.  This is to show that as long the food is good it does not matter where it originated from. But if you don’t want to be traumatized,  I visited another spot, which is located in Queens called Hillside Dosa Hutt.  This neighborhood spot is in the heart of the Indian community. The cashier that served us was hospitable and knowledgeable about Dosas.  Hillside Dosa Hutt was recently listed on the Eater list of the top 60 cheap eats places in NYC. 

Hillside Dosa Hutt – Marsala Dosa $5.50 (Top Left) and Paneer Bhurji Masala Dosa $9.00 (Bottom left) Saravana Bhavan $9.99- Marsala Dosa (Top right)  and Onion Chili Rava Dosa $10.99 (Bottom right)

Portions of each dosa were huge. I have not been able to finish a whole dosa in one sitting.  If you want more variety then Saravan Bhavan is the place to go, but for a quick meal on a budget then Hillside Dosa Hutt will suffice. 

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday- Family Style Chinese food

Ever since I was a child I would have family style Chinese food. This is not your typical Chinese American cuisine. Majority of authentic Chinese restaurant are identified based on the number of Chinese customers eating there. There are two family style Chinese cuisine I have eaten at, both in Elmhurst. Every year I always have to celebrate my birthday with Chinese food. I grew up with the belief of consuming noodles on my birthday signifying long life.  When I eat at these family style Chinese restaurants I always request an order of pan fried noodles. Recently I had a craving a found a recipe to make it on own, which was recently posted here under Traditional Tuesday. In addition to the pan fried noodles we would order a crusted t-bone steak and honey walnut shrimp.

The top collage was taken place at China Pearl Chinese Restaurant, one of the original Chinese restaurants in Elmhurst. Total meal cost including tip was $300.

The bottom collage was taken place at the recently opened Broadway Seafood Chinese Restaurant also located in Elmhurst. Total meal cost including tip was $170.

The major differences between the two restaurants is the quality of food. China Pearl had the better house special soup, steak and honey shrimp walnut while Broadway Seafood had more street food options such as lamb chops and roast pig and duck and soy sauce chicken.

The pan fried noodles with seafood is better at Broadway Seafood than in China Pearl.

Stay tuned for more eating journeys…

Flashback Friday – Pho Bang 

Happy Friday! One of my family’s favorite spots to eat on a lazy night of cooking is Pho Bang, a Vietnamese restaurant in Elmhurst, NY. This restaurant also has several locations, one in Flushing and the other in Chinatown. The restaurant accepts cash only but it is a great family spot especially for quick and cheap family dinners. The dishes are not only cheap, but it has been recognized as one of the top restaurants in Elmhurst by Zagat.

My father would end up with the bill and from my recollection of the costs the total including tax was less than $30 for three people.  Even better the portions are family style! 

The awesome thing about this restaurant is their prep and presentation of their beef and abundance of vegetables. There are variety of pho to choose from, but we usually go with the Tai Chin Nam Gan Sach without the rice noodles, which is a beef soup with fresh eye round, navel, tendon and omosa. The dish comes with noodles, but we love the flavor of the beef broth plus it is carb free. The beef just cooks in the hot broth as it is served to maintain its tenderness. The vegetables of bean sprouts and mint with lemon enhanced the flavor of this refreshing hot soup. 

Another dish that we love to order is a specialty called Nam Nuong which grilled pork hash balls that come with picked carrots, shallot and radishes along with steamed rice wrappers and green leaf lettuce. This dish is refreshing and versatile where you can use the rice wrapper and place the ingredients in it. You can even go paleo and do without the rice wrapper and use the lettuce to make a wrap. 

Pho and Nam Nuong

Other dishes to try include their spring rolls which are made out of rice wrapper. Can’t go wrong with the summer roll, bun (rice vermecelli) dishes and grilled pork chops. 

Last month a fire broke into the restaurant. The restaurant is currently closed but it is undergoing renovations. Can’t wait to return to this restaurant once it opens again. In the meantime, check out the other Pho Bang restaurants in Flushing and Chinatown. 

Flashback Friday – Esquared Hospitality making its mark in Queens & Manhattan

Summer is going by way too fast! I have had the privilege to recently dine at Champions Bar & Grill located inside the grounds of the US Open in Flushing Meadows, NY.  In order to eat at this restaurant, reservations were required.  In addition, only Loge and Promenade Season Subscription Ticket Holders with a restaurant pass were allowed.  As one can tell, this was a splurge lunch.  Normally, this post will be placed on the “Throwback Thursday” section of this blog, but an exception has to be made as the US Open will wrap up this Sunday 9/11.

After meeting with the chef and staff, I was overwhelmed by the high quality dishes offered.  After the chef’s suggestions, I decided to go with the lighter fare section and ordered the Grilled Asian kobe skirt steak salad ($34) with french fries ($12).  Taking full advantage of the experience, I burned the wallet(s) more by ordering a Moet Chandron Rose Champagne ($28).  20160830_144740

The meal was presented as I expected – classic David Burke (DB) style.  French fries on their little metal baskets.  The fries were not as crispy as I expected, I always eat their fries and so far the best french fries I have had from them were from David Burke Townhouse.  The kobe skirt steak did not melt in my mouth as I thought it did because I ordered it medium instead of medium rare.  Portions were filling and the champagne complemented the meal.  Staff and General Managers (GM) were accommodating.

Previous to my US Open experience, I have eating at BLT Prime in Gramercy back in January for the Signature Series  Event and that was a splurge dinner of $175 per person.

On a more wallet friendly side, I have eaten at BLT Steak in Midtown East where I have ordered a prosecco ($15).  I have had two specials: the rock tempura shrimp (don’t recall the price; it was a one day special) and the duck liver mousse pate (complimentary tasting from the Executive Chef).  Plus, I ordered the duck fat hash browns ($12) and for dessert I went with the Chef’s suggestion of the “banana cream” cream puffs ($12).  The duck fat hash brown dish was a side dish that is filling and comforting enough that it could be a main entree.  But the cream puffs were the perfect ending to my meal as its balanced sweetness of the bananas and cream covered up the pungent and rich flavors of the duck liver and fat.

Even though my food selections at the restaurants were not the healthiest, but the quality of food given for the amount paid was well worth it.

Chef David Burke has announced on social media that he will be opening the BLT Prime by David Burke in Washington D.C. and Tavern 62 at the former Fishtail by David Burke restaurant in New York City.  I am also excited to explore the other sister restaurants especially Casa Nonna and By Chloe.

Till then stay tuned!

Flashback Friday – China Grill

Happy Friday! It is time to take full advantage of the summer deals during my vacation.

One of these deals is the bento box lunch special from 12pm-4pm Monday-Saturday at China Grill in New York City.

Did you know that China Grill was around for almost thirty years? Well after one of the best fusion lunches I have had in a while, I can definitely testify to that.

Earlier this week, I caught up with a friend for lunch and both of us were definitely excited to explore the options.  So below are the two bento boxes we created.  Both of us ordered the Peking duck salad and wasabi mashed potatoes.  My friend ordered the dumplings and salmon teriyaki and I was on the noodle box and shrimp red curry.  Our bento boxes were “to die for”, presentation was beautiful but more importantly the taste was on point.  It was definitely worth the $19.87 spent on this meal.

In addition to the bento box, we decided order the popular salted caramel soufflé ($20), which has to be ordered ahead of time and it is served only on the lunch menu.

20160822_153346

Made to order dessert that serves two people available during lunch

After devouring the divine dessert, that was well balanced.  The sponge cake, plus the cream and caramel definitely hit the spot.

It was after 4pm and happy hour begins.  My other friend contacted me and informed me that I have to come here for happy hour.  It turns out she was right.  The menu offers a lot of options for drinks such as cocktails and bar bites from their appetizer menu.  So I settled for the lychee and cucumber cocktail ($8) with the lotus root dumplings ($7).  Both choices were delicious.

Overall service for lunch and happy hour were awesome.  My friend and I were satisfied and I can’t wait to share this experience with my friends and peers.  Cheers to China Grill and their continuing success.  See you soon China Grill!