Friday, May 29, 2009

The Curious Case of Bobby Flay

I spent this past memorial day playing (and beating, thankyouverymuch...) an iPhone game called Sally's Salon. While playing about 3 hours of this game, I caught a Food Network marathon of Grill It with Bobby Flay. The premise of the show is that some grilling fanatic gets to cook on a NY rooftop with Bobby Flay, which is supposed to be really awesome I guess. They cook the same meat, but here's the twist: they each put their own spin on it! Basically what I'm trying to say is that the guest griller cooks something totally awesome and Bobby Flay puts ancho chili powder on his dish. If you ever need to get housed, play a drinking game to a Bobby Flay show and throw one back every time you hear the word "ancho chili" or "chipotle".

I'm not saying he's not a good chef. I once ate at Mesa Grill and was pleasantly surprised that his food is actually really good. But he's the American Iron Chef? Really?! Number 1, he looks like a Chucky doll (but not in a kind of hot way like Jon Gruden) and number 2, he just cooks Tex-Mex! That's not even a legitimate cuisine! Wait, I'm not done. He doesn't even win his challenges against Joe Schmoe donut maker on Throwdown! with Bobby Flay. Lastly, even with Giada by his side, he lost to Mario Batali and Rachel Ray on Iron Chef. Sigh.

I don't watch a whole lot of Food Network anymore and this grilling show reminded me why. I'm more of a Top Chef kind of girl which is why I'm totally psyched for Top Chef Masters. And no, it's not just because Kelly Choi is the host. (But since I brought it up, it is nice to see Asians on something other than Grey's Anatomy and America's Best Dance Crew...just saying...)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Sweet Side of Momofuku

Make no mistake about it, I'm a huge Momofuku fan. Unless you're a vegetarian or a member of PETA, there's no way you can't love his food. I can't really afford to eat at Momofuku meals every week but thankfully, Momofuku Bakery & Milk Bar opened a few months ago and I'm pretty much a regular here. The Cereal Milk Soft Serve was my gateway drug into Milk Bar heaven. Cereal Milk is basically milk steeped with sugary childhood favorites such as Fruity Pebbles and Lucky Charms, then mixed into super creamy soft serve. Yeah, it was awesome. Then I read this article about their head Pastry Chef/my hero and decided that I had to try every single one of their cookies. I am really hoping David Chang puts the recipe for the cornflake-marshmallow-chocolate chip cookies in his upcoming book.

Since Milk Bar has opened, there have been 3 different soft serve themes. Cereal, donuts and currently, they're serving up candy flavors. On my last trip, I tried the Atomic Fireball flavor because when I was little, my sister and I would get them on road trips to LA and see who could keep it in their mouth the longest. (I'm pretty sure that was just a game my parents made up to shut us up.) There's something really weird about eating cold soft serve that tastes exactly like something completely familiar. Your brain is like "Huh?!" and your mouth is like "Say what?!" and then eventually, they come together and sing at the top of their lungs "THIS IS CRAZY!!". Ok, I'll admit, it's not the best soft serve in the world, but it's playful and fun and it keeps me coming back. (JUST LIKE DRUGS!!!)

At this point, I've eaten at all the Momofukus except for Ko and you better believe I'm online every morning at 10am to check for reservations. Needless to say, this post is to be continued...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Recipe Sharing :: Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa

I have to admit, I totally stole the idea for these fish tacos from a friend of mine, but I added my own fruity twist. I make these fish tacos about once a week because they're filling, flavorful and it's a quick recipe. It's also great because you can eat the salsa and guac on the side with chips. My mom makes a wonderful mango salsa and I thought that it would go great with these fish tacos. The fish itself is the Panko Breaded Tilapia from Trader Joe's. I pretty much buy these in bulk. Tilapia is a very mild fish so even if you don't like fish, you'll still like these little guys. The third component to this recipe is guacamole. My recipe is pretty simple and I prefer my guacamole thicker than most. You can adapt it to your taste, obviously...

Tam Tam's Mango Salsa
  • 2 fresh mangoes on the firm side
  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • 4 Roma tomatoes chopped
  • Handful of cilantro chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Salt and Pepper
Basically dice the mangoes, onion and tomatoes and set aside in a bowl. Squeeze the juice of half a lime, add salt and pepper and mix. If you are going to eat this right away, add the cilantro. If you're making it ahead of time, wait to add the cilantro. It is a strong flavor and will overpower the salsa.

A word about cutting mangoes: Mangoes can be a little tricky to cut up. If you do it wrong, you end up wasting a lot of the good stuff. The long flat seed of the mango cannot be cut through, so you have to cut around it. Stand the mango up so that the pointier top is facing up. Starting at the top, slice along the flat side of the mango. The key is to go slow and feel for the seed with your knife. To get the most fruit, you want to curve your knife out at the top and back in at the bottom. Do this on both sides then try to cut away as much fruit from the seed as you can. With the two large pieces you cut off, score the yellow meat and then invert the skin and then run your knife along the skin to cut off all the cubes. Phew! I guess this is the point where I tell you that my mom uses frozen mangoes...

Simple Guacamole
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 3 Roma tomatoes diced
  • 1/2 red onion
  • cilantro
  • 1 lime
  • 1 jalapeno or Serrano pepper diced (if you don't like heat, leave it out)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Since I like my guacamole on the chunky side, I like to dice on avocado and just scoop out the meat of the other. Mix the tomatoes, red onion, cilantro and peppers in a bowl. Add half of the lime juice. Mix in the avocado. If you like it chunky, toss gently with a spoon. If you want it smoother, smush and mix with a fork. (Yes, "smush" is the technical culinary term) Salt and pepper to taste.

OK! So bake up the tilapia per the instructions. 1 fillet makes 2 tacos, so plan accordingly. As you wait for the fish to cool off, turn off the oven and heat up flour tortillas on the rack. 20 seconds should do it. Cut the tilapia fillets into chunks and assemble your tacos. A little bit of everything - fold - eat - repeat.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New York, New York

It's always really great when friends and family come to visit in New York. Lots of catching up, inside jokes and warm fuzzies all around. You also have an excuse to show off all the amazing food in New York. Depending on who is visiting, your game plan could vary. Mom and Dad in town? Best to keep it safe. Foodie friend visiting? The Momofukus are a must. First time in New York? You may need to suck it up and do a tour of pizza joints and Gray's Papaya.

This weekend, I had friends from college in town and I have to say, we managed to put together the perfect New York food tour.

That's a pretty impressive list if you don't mind me saying. The best part is that everyone had a different favorite meal and others couldn't even choose. For the record, my favorite was the spinach and artichoke pizza at Artichoke. Never had it and haven't stopped thinking about it since...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Midday Treats in Midtown

I subscribe to Midtown Lunch since I do in fact, work in midtown and need to eat lunch everyday. In my opinion, no one should be envious of those that work in Midtown because's midtown. But since I've started reading ML, I've found myself longing for an office relocation north of 42nd Street. Dumpling trucks! Dessert trucks! Ramen! With the exception of K-Town, my lunch options are limited to 4 different Guy & Gallards, Chipotle, McDonald's and something called Maui Tacos.

In the spring and summer, things get a little better since longer lunches to enjoy the sun are more acceptable. My go-to midday treat of late has been Cafe Zaiya's soft serve - specifically, their black sesame flavor. For those of you that just puked in your mouth at the thought of black sesame sweets, I beg you to reconsider. This is a classic Asian flavor - subtle and not too sweet. Black sesame seeds are naturally sweet and very healthy. They're a good source of calcium, magnesium and protein, so according to my calculations, it totally offsets the negative effects of eating ice cream. I guess I could see how you might think it looks gross, but it's not like I'm asking you to try Durian soft serve. I would never do that to you.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rooster Sauce Getting Some Love

Rooster Sauce. Sriracha. Hot cock sauce. Call it what you want, but this stuff is good and a staple in any kitchen. The New York Times posted an article on Huy Fong's Tuong Ot chili sauce today. The white rooster and green topped bottles are ubiquitous in the Vietnamese community but I had no idea it had a big cult following. Growing up, everytime my family went out to eat Pho, I'd take it upon myself to squirt Hoisin Sauce into the little dipping bowls and draw some sort of childish design on top with the Sriracha bottle. Smiley faces and hearts were really popular with me. Ahhhh, memories...

On my last trip to Tokyo, my boyfriend and I went on a 6 day search for authentic Sriracha sauce. I stopped by every grocery store I could find and even checked out the few Pho shops in the city: nothing. We finally managed to find some sort of Thai knockoff (I think there's a flying duck on the front instead of a rooster) and it tastes pretty much the same as the original but of course, I was still disappointed not to find the real stuff. The Times article mentions another knock-off that features a unicorn on the bottle...that's kind of awesome.

In any case, everyone has their favorite Sriracha recipe. My rooomate in college ate spam and sriracha. Boyfriend likes it with soba noodles. I like it on my eggs. Anyone else have a crazy combo you'd like to share?