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Single (and cooking) in the City

Food, life, love, and fun recipes

Month

August 2010

Rafting on the Delaware

A chilly week of rain followed by a blast of hot weather the past couple of days was the perfect kickoff to a weekend of rafting, pizza-eating, and chicken-chasing on the Delaware River.

On Saturday, we started bright and early, which soon turned into late and completely lost in the PA/NY interstate woods. We trailed the group in our companion car by 45 minutes and figured we could make up for it by paddling our little hearts out once we made it on our raft. After all, we had a great incentive. Their group had the fried chicken, apparently a yearly rafting tradition. However, while stuck on the long line to check in, waiting for what seemed like forever for the circa ’95 computers in reception to start up, Kel made an important phone call – Port Jervis pizza, who made a delivery of sausage and mushroom pizza, our plan B if we don’t make it to fried chicken.

And I swear, we did paddle our hearts out, because I spent the rest of the night with the most painfully achey arms. I wish I had proof of the paddling, but all we got were images of us eating and posing for the camera.

We do have one of Brennan paddling hard though.

He was our little motor that could.

We never did catch up to the other group on the raft, but we were reunited at the end of the day, when we finally made it to shore- 10 miles of spinning and lurching back to where we started from.

*some pictures stolen from Ting. Thanks, Ting!

The Breslin

How about a roast suckling pig dinner one of these nights?

The view from the balcony dining room at The Breslin looked right down onto the table facing the open kitchen – a whole suckling pig, roasted golden brown, sitting on a cutting board and surrounded by a rowdy group of diners. From my high perch, I sniffed at the gluttony, at the same time wondering when the waiter would bring out the Pig’s Foot for Two – stuffed and fried. And this was after the amazing apps – a scotch egg (wrapped in sausage meat and fried), scrumpets (shredded lamb shaped into sticks the size of steak fries, fried), and sweetbreads (the glands of some animal… also fried).

By the time the foot arrived, I was already regretting the order. On a plate the size of half the table, the stump of a leg was ceremoniously surrounded by a field of vegetables drowning in some sort of a cream sauce, as if threatening to say “You dare me to add a couple more figures to the calorie count?”

Before

The foot was left looking very much similar to the way it arrived. Minus the vegetables, eaten in a last attempt to incorporate some sort of fiber into an otherwise artery clogger of a meal.

After

Lesson learned: the wiser Me would like to either remind Future Me, or go back in time and warn Past Me to never (again) order the pig’s foot. This carved out, stuffed then sewn back monstrosity, which tastes of pure fat, should only be meant for those with a death wish. Also not impressive? The broccoli (although you might be asking yourselves why anyone would go to the Breslin to order this, and you’re looking at the answer: me, veggie lover) which was drenched in an acidic and salty tomato sauce.

As much dessert as I can fit into my belly.

Very unlike my usual self, I skipped dessert, having been absolutely stuffed full and uncomfortable from the fatty foot. I’d come back to try the much raved about lamb burger and prime rib (and I noticed a good number of both making their way out of the kitchen), but foot? Never again.

S’mores Pie, sponsored by Coors Light

This was officially the summer of Beach BBQs for me. Never in an entire summer have I had so many hotdogs (with skin! Thanks to Kel I’ve discovered hot dogs with casings and I’ll never settle for anything less again!), burgers (Queenie made hers with BACON in the patties!), wings (Dave’s Mom’s famous wings are better than the hype), and skirt steak (marinated in Brennan’s mysteriously green sauce). So many food-skilled friends, its fantastic.

Oink.

Close to the end of summer, this past weekend we had another. And to prove myself worthy of being in such great meaty presence, I brought a s’mores pie.

This pie was originally going to attend Deb’s rooftop housewarming party on Saturday night, but after summerstreets exhaustion, I started making it way too late and halfway through.. realized by the time I’d be done… I’d miss the party entirely! Not to worry, it was not missed, though it would have been in happy company with the plates of homemade cookies by Ada and carrot cheesecake. (I think that’s what I’d overheard it was!)

The s’mores pie arrived bright and early at the beach on Sunday… earlier than the plates and utensils. Luckily, our scrappy friends fashioned a quick plate from a Coors box, and we wiped off and recycled the “grill fork” (a plastic one Mike finagled from the food stand).

BBQ sponsored by Coors Light.
Eating pie off a Coors Light plate.

Flipping Q’s burgers with a nifty Coors Light spatula.

Don’t worry, we didn’t ghetto-bbq the entire afternoon. A hot dog, burger, slice of pie divided, and 2 rounds of beers later, the rest of our group arrived with real utensils.

S’mores Pie, a cross section

S’mores Pie (Adapted from smitten kitchen)

  • 1-1/2 cups of crushed graham crackers
  • 5 tbsp of butter
  • 2 tbsp of sugar
  • 1/8 tsp of salt
  • 7 oz of bittersweet chocolate, chips or chopped
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 1 egg (room temp)
  • 1 jar of marshmallow fluff

Preheat oven to 350. Combine the crushed crackers with the sugar and salt, pour in butter, mix well and pat into the bottom and sides of a greased 9″ pie pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

While waiting for the crust to cool, warm the milk to gently boiling and pour over the chocolate to melt. Stir until the chocolate has completely melted, and then add the egg and a pinch of salt. Whisk.

After the crust is at room temp (about 45 minutes), pour chocolate into the pie crust. Cover the edges with foil to avoid burning the sides of the pie. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, until the center is gently set. Cool for at least an hour.

I didn’t have the time, energy, nor patience to make my own marshmallow topping so at Kel’s suggestion I used a jar of marshmallow fluff. The day of the BBQ, I took the pie out of the fridge (where it sat overnight) and spooned on the fluff. Using a culinary torch, I browned the top. Then I left the room to avoid drooling all over it.

Pad Thai

I made pad thai! …Or something like it. It didn’t taste the way it does in restaurants, but it wasn’t entirely bad. I did make a few substitutions and omissions, given the amount of money I was willing to spend on new condiments. And my very limited shelf space.

So sometimes I like to take a walk down to a market… you know… just to clear my head. Window shopping boutiques generates too much temptation, so I settle for supermarkets. Last night, I took a stroll to Chinatown.

Though many markets are closed (or are in the middle of closing) when I get out of work, I’ve found that by bravely dodging the fishmongers tossing out buckets of melted ice, I’d eventually find Hong Kong Supermarket, a giant amongst the little sidewalk stands, which is open slightly later. This is my Candyland — live fish, tons of Chinese vegetables, dragonfruit!, every sauce I could ever think of using, and snacks. Lots of them. And all cheap. This is where I can spend 10 dollars and feed myself for weeks.

In a little Thai section, I found everything I needed – tamarind paste, fish sauce, and palm sugar. Downstairs, I found rice noodles. I decided to forgo the peanut oil and peanuts, not willing to shell out 6 dollars for a jar of nuts (American, of course!) and not being able to imagine what else I’d use peanut oil for. A bag of bean sprouts (it came out to 30 cents, no kidding), and I was on my way home.

(A Version of) Pad Thai

  • a little chunk of tamarind paste (1/2″x 1/2″ x 2″-ish)
  • 3/4 cup of boiling water
  • 2 tbsps each of fish sauce and palm sugar
  • 1 tbsp of rice wine vinegar
  • a certain amount of rice noodles
  • broccoli, cabbage, and bean sprouts
  • garlic (minced) and scallions
  • 1 egg, beaten

I was confused by Alton Brown’s portioning (or rather, I just didn’t bother reading carefully), so I made the sauce and decided not to use all of it. Pour the boiling water over the paste and stir to combine. Mix the sugar, fish sauce, and vinegar in a small bowl. Soak noodles in a bowl of warm water until soft. Heat up some oil (I used sesame, since I was too cheap to buy peanut) in a wok and add the scallions and garlic. Sautee for a bit and add the egg. Scramble. Toss in the broccoli (in hindsight, I think I should have cooked the broccoli before scrambling the egg, so the rest of the stuff isn’t sitting in the pot drying out). Cabbage can be added, and doesn’t take long to wilt. Add the noodles and bean sprouts, pour on the sauce. Toss quickly.

Then I added a secret ingredient. My father’s mystery peanut sauce. Mystery as in: I have no idea what goes in there, but its got peanut butter. I decided to add this since I had left out everything peanut.

Salt, and serve! (In my case, I taste and then pack the rest up for lunch.)

Le Bernardin

Congratulations to my sweetheart whose success at work was the main cause for celebration at Le Bernardin!

Le Bernardin has long been one of those restaurants on my bucket list. Expensive, but worth it, and perfect for a special occasion. Save for the decor, I give this place a 2-thumbs up!

We had the chef’s tasting menu and my favorites were a thinly pounded yellowfin tuna over foie gras covered toast, poached egg in fisherman’s broth topped with caviar (to die for), lobster with yellow beets, and crispy black bass with lup cheong topped steamed bun.

Isn’t that just the cutest little bun you’ve ever seen?

Dessert was also great. Hazelnut, brown butter ice cream, caramelized bananas – a mashup of my favorite things

Petits fours

Great meal. No Eric Ripert sighting though. Maybe next time! I’ve got a copy of the menu… time to plan for and dream about my next meal…