Recipes »Hamburgers with Lemon and Soy Sauce

photo-5from Real Simple

It may not look like much, but for the first time in a long time Van gobbled every single bite of a meal Jim and I were having. No last minute peanut butter and jelly, just this Hamburger with Lemon and Soy Sauce. You don’t know what a big deal this is.

I cooked his all the way through and broke up the meat while leaving the medium rare, added caramelized onions and a touch of Sriracha to the adults.

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Posted on July 10, 2013

Restaurants »Phinney Market Pub & Eatery

Untitled-15918 Phinney Ave. N, Seattle

I’ve been a bit quiet on my blog lately as our lives are still in constant, slightly exhausting motion. After leaving Brooklyn we were in Colorado for a bit, now in Seattle renting a lovely home but soon to move again as we found a wonderful house to buy in a neighborhood we’ve quickly fallen in live with, Phinney Ridge.

The Phinney Market Pub and Eatery captures the spirit of the area pretty well, even if its fairly new to it. It’s family friendly, relaxed, inviting and just a shade hip – damask wallpaper, tin ceilings and old wood almost even made me feel like I was in Brooklyn.

The food is good, the service comes with a smile and a wooden train set offers fun times for your little ones. I expect this will be a place we visit often once we are finally settled in our new home.

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Posted on July 9, 2013

Restaurants »Skillet Diner

skillet1400 East Union Street, Seattle, WA

We’ve been told the closest thing to Brooklyn in Seattle is Capitol Hill. Meaning: hipsters and their hip bars and restaurants dwell there. One restaurant always associated with the neighborhood is Skillet Diner. Notorious for long lines, famous for great food in the “now” – like bacon jam bloody Mary’s (which was very good).

The simple but considered presentation and delicious chicken fried steak I had – big, tender cuts of choice meat with a salty, flavorful crust – did indeed remind me of home and made me feel better about all the great restaurants we left behind there. The entire menu was full of promising dishes with lots of pork belly, fennel and beets.

Like so many places in Seattle, Skillet diner is exceptional but there was not a promised hipster in sight. I kind of wanted to see people that dress up for brunch but at 8am, it’s families and olds. Same everywhere I suppose. At least there are no lines at that hour.

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Posted on May 28, 2013

Restaurants »Portage Bay

portage4130 Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle

We arrived in Seattle a couple weeks ago (we are still settling, hence the lack of posts). We stayed at the comfortable and friendly Watertown Hotel until our things arrived. A few blocks away we found Portage Bay, an most appetizing welcome to our new home city.

Everything we tried on the menu (yes, there were return visits) was delicious. They had Swedish pancakes, made with fresh, real ingredients that I didn’t have to embarrass myself with a trip to IHOP for! They had a vegetable hash that had Jim, yes Jim, shoveling vegetables into his mouth! There’s a fruit and toppings bar, a number of omelett options, and Benedicts of all kinds that will impress (I had to try the salmon, a food I’ll always associate with the Northwest since a visit here years ago) but the dungeness crab was remarkable too.

The space is huge and child friendly (though admittedly I am coming from Brooklyn, where spaces tend to be pint sized and hating children is a new pastime) but I’ve read it can get very crowded with long waits on peak brunch hours.

I imagine this will be a favorite of our family in the years to come as we settle into our new town. It’s service with a smile and incredible food with a conscious: ingredients are local and organic.

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Posted on April 17, 2013

Recipes »Easy Barbecue Ribs

from Mmmm… is for Mommy

How good can it be when BBQ ribs meet the slow cooker? Well Van, who’s usually sort of vegetarian (not through any effort on my part) yelled “meat!!!” for the first time.

So, pretty darn good.

These were actually more tender than many I’ve had at restaurants. We used Stubb’s sauce.

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Posted on June 20, 2012

Restaurants »Gwynnett St

312 Graham Ave, Brooklyn

A cozy but stylish interior with blue on blue wallpaper and an impressive fire place greet you at the fairly new and highly praised Gwynnett St.

Friends and I were drawn in by the whiskey bread and it didn’t disappoint. Be sure to get a couple for the table to start your yummy meal off right.

Cheese dumplings and a rapini salad were also excellent but we pretty much died over the amazing mushroom with rosemary, cream and lardo. I can’t express how good this was.

Jim and I split some artful main courses of smoked sturgeon with leeks, pumpernickel and buttermilk and steak with brussel sprouts and mushrooms.

Both had flavors larger than the sum of its parts. But, not to sound too much like a fat American, they were a little skimpy for the price.

Still, we only get a date night maybe once a month and the splurge here was very worth it.

Oh and drinks! How could I forget? The cocktails are great and reasonably priced. I loved my juicy Martinez. The beer selection is also note worthy with a great double white from Southampton.

Not too many customers when we went but assume that will change with inevitable word of mouth.

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Posted on December 7, 2011

Restaurants »Amber Steak House

119 Nassau Ave, Greenpoint

There is a definite template for new, hip restaurants keen on slabs of meat in Brooklyn and Amber Steak House ignores it completely. Here old school “elegance” with white table clothes and bow tie waiters meets the over the top “fancy” design of the late 1990’s.

It’s decidedly not hip, but that’s actually quite refreshing and doesn’t at all take away from the fact that the food is great.

Don’t be afraid to go all out with classics here. A nice and salty dirty martini set the tone for a perfectly medium rare filet mignon with peppercorn sauce, creamed spinach and mashed potatoes. This is the very definition of what fine dining was for previous generations and they weren’t all wrong.

So while you may not see the trendiest dishes on the menu, you will be able to get a solid red meat feast for a much lower price than the more well known Peter’s or Keen’s. Plus, some of your dining neighbors will make you feel like you’re in a Giallo.

Please do a date night here if you’re a local, it’s an overlooked spot that deserves more attention.

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Posted on November 14, 2011

Recipes »Calf’s Liver With Onions

from Serious Eats

As adventurous an eater as I am, I’ve always been a little afraid of liver and never thought to make it myself. But in the Halloween spirit I got freaky with this Calf’s Liver and Onion recipe.

The key is to not over cook the liver, leaving a hint of pink inside and let the onions get nice and deep brown. For an extra spooky touch, the balsamic dressing looks a bit like blood but no worries, it tastes like yum!

One to scare the family with.

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Posted on October 31, 2011

Restaurants »The Brooklyn Star

593 Lorimer Street

Our recent Southern fried, stick to your bones meal at The Brooklyn Star was full of happy surprises and familiar comforting tastes.

With a menu split between small and big plates the four of us split four smalls, two bigs and left sated but not stuffed.

Oh and we also got the piping hot bacon jalapeno cornbread. An appropriate intro to what was to come. Definitely a must.

Next came a fresh lemony kale salad that even veggiephobes will rave about, a nice oyster taco (which was good but not extraordinary), and spicy chicken wings that went beyond the usual pub fare with a smoky sweetness and plump meaty wings.

The biggest surprise on the small plates was the beef tongue served two ways. I have only known the dish tp be thinly sliced and cold but the shredded pickled version and the tender grilled slab were eye opening and possibly the best bites of the night.

Big plates were excellent too. I kind of pulled for us to order the hulking chicken friend steak, a personal favorite thanks to my hometowns Barneys Diner but admittedly love shared by many and a bit of an acquired taste.Their tender version could definitely turn some skeptics though and made me very happy.

The roasted chicken was also pretty phenomenal. Brined and garlicky, it melted in our mouths and reinforced my idea that chicken is better left to the pros. In my hands, it turns dull and overcooked but at a good restaurant the roasted chicken will never disappoint.

Drinks, like a spicy margarita and a smoky old fashioned were great accompaniment.
and the atmosphere was friendly (the scent of apple cider and smiling staff greet you), candle lit (my photos are a bummer so look to flickr for better ones) and uncluttered.

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Posted on October 23, 2011

Desserts,Drinks,Restaurants »Crema

3403 Lyndale Avenue South Minneapolis MN

Two of the most lasting memories to my taste buds from a recent Minneapolis visit come from the cute, comfy cafe, Crema.

The namesake beverage, crema, was stunningly delicious both in hot and cold form – think of the creamiest coffee ever and add a perfect sweetness.

And if that’s not enough endulgence, you simply can’t leave this place without a scoop of Sonny’s small batch homemade ice creams (yes, even if it means you’ll be having ice cream after brunch).

I went for it and sampled their wildest flavor – pesto – and found it remarkably refreshing and nice in that the herbal taste balanced out the sweet. So yummy I got a big scoop of it.

The backyard is romantic, the staff ultra friendly, and oh yeah, the food here is tasty too.

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Posted on August 26, 2011

Restaurants »Smash Burger

Various Locations

I went all the way to Minneapolis to have Smash Burger, which I have learned has a location in Brooklyn, but every menu is customized to its location, so if I want a grilled pastrami burger, I can go locally but only in Minneapolis can I get the delicious Twin Cities (cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese and garlic grilled onions).

Another difference is that locally one can order a glass of wine with their burger, which back in the Midwest, I was thrilled to find beer on the menu – complete with frosty mug!

The burger is juicy and flavorful, the sides excellent. We shared onion strings and fried pickles (Yum!).

Good stuff  – for chain fast food especially.

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Posted on August 21, 2011

Recipes »30-Minute Turkey Chili

from the Food Network Kitchens

In a rare moment of culinary inspiration, Jim decided to whip up a pot of 30-Minute Turkey Chili. He must have been subconsciously influenced by the super bowl that was playing in most households other than our own.

While the idea of the recipe might lead you to imagine it is bland either because it uses turkey or takes so little time to make, hence possibly not allowing the flavors to “blend” like they usually would with chili, do not fret. I don’t know how, but this is exceptional.

We’re hoping it’s a bit better for us too, since we are craving it again already.

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Posted on February 8, 2011

Restaurants »Brooklyn Mac

77 Norman Ave, Greenpoint

When Jim and I were faced with the new Brooklyn Mac sign, he hoped it stood for mac and cheese as opposed to daddy mac – a store that, I supposed would sell Chess King suits, condoms and bongs maybe?

Well, fortunately for him – he was in luck. Just as the hardly-ever-open catering and take out nook moved out, a tiny mac and cheese shop moved in. Unfortunately, they haven’t quite gotten the comfort food dish down pat, at least to my liking.

Don’t get me wrong, the cheese was good and gooey in the Kings County and the smoked gouda and bacon melded perfectly on the second one we tried (can’t recall the name). However, the dense meal – we could collectively only make a dent in half of each size small in one sitting – is kind of like eating a plate of yummy but health destroying cheese.

The mac to cheese ratio needs to be sorted out a bit to make it less intense and easier to go down. But they are brand new and offer so many menu options, I could probably even customize with more pasta and less cheese next time.

I will definitely not loose anymore baby weight if I make it part of my weekly routine, but it is tempting with it opening so close by and offering one of life’s best cold weather remedies.

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Posted on December 14, 2010

Recipes »Uptown Down Home Chili

from Rachael Ray

As difficult as she can be on the ears, Rachael Ray may just know a thing or two about your taste buds. This Uptown Down Home Chili is superb and like all chilis, even better the next day. Shiitakes, portabellas, imported beer, Worcestershire, smoked gouda and chipotle lend the “uptown” flavoring – a sophisticated and unique blend of chili sure to please all fans of big flavor. I messed up my fresh direct order and had no chipotle on hand but made do with some chipotle flavored salsa and a hand full of chili powder spices. This would be perfect for the rainy weather we’re getting.

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Posted on October 4, 2010

Restaurants »Red Hook Lobster at Rocky Sullivan’s

34 Van Dyke Street, Red Hook

Rocky Sullivan’s in Red Hook offers as part of their Think Global, Eat Local menu a home to the Red Hook Lobster Pound‘s lobster dinners on Friday nights. The mood is relaxed, the tables communal, and the lobster is truly outstanding. Honestly, this may have been the best whole lobster I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. Jim, who once worked as a stoned, surly prep cook for a high end restaurant as a teen was thankfully there to help more novice lobster eaters out with the tricks of getting to the meat.

Make sure to take advantage of the plastic bibs, because if you don’t make a crazy mess, you’re not doing it right. With a side of corn and potato salad (or coleslaw if you’re a weirdo) this is perfect summer eating and a real must before Fall breezes in (any day now). The meal is finished off with a great sugary whoopie pie. Other nights, the noisy but chill spot offers more traditional pub grub.

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Posted on August 29, 2010

Recipes »Shrimp, Chorizo and Chipotle Gravy

From Emeril

While I don’t like the use of the word “gravy” in this context – to me gravy is opaque and thick and brown – I’ll forgive Emeril his choice of words, because this Shrimp, Chorizo and Chipotle Gravy is great. Spicy and filling, it’s meant to go over Mexican rice, but I opted for what I had available, couscous.

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Posted on August 8, 2010

Restaurants »Woodstock VT: Simon Pearce and Osteria Pane Salute

1760 Main St Quechee, VT and 61 Central St. Woodstock, VT

Who knew Woodstock, Vermont was home to such esteemed, delicious food? You’d never guess it if you just stumbled into the most prominent main street eatery, Bentley’s (a pub food spot that doesn’t deserve scorn, but is not worth writing home about either) but nearby are two varieties of high end cooking: the romantic, waterfall view Simon Pearce (technically a few miles east in Quechee), and the dimly lit hidden Italian gem, Osteria Pane e Salute.

Simon Pearce is the epitome of established upscale dining. Waitstaff  in pressed white collared shirts, a heavenly view  – in this case a rushing waterfall located right under your seats, a seasonal menu of dishes that come to the table with considerable haute cuisine panache, and a crowd of oldsters lining up from the minute the dinner hour begins (advanced reservations recommended). While for normal day to day eating a place like this might be stuffy for Jim and I, Simon Pearce seems more custom fit for special occasions. Plus it’s in Vermont, where even stuffiness is a bit more laid back.

Natural stunning ambiance and crisp whites are grand, but I’d hardly be spending my time telling you much about them if the food weren’t great. We shared a tempura shrimp appetizer as well as a crab cake that was easily the single most tasty dish we had all vacation. Both followed by substantial main dishes, mine a flavorful roasted chicken over handmade pasta, Jim’s a hearty cod with gourmet mashed potatoes. We ended the meal on an equally decadent and high note with a walnut meringue dessert.

While Pearce is a fancy pants feast in the established traditional sense of the past few decades, Osteria Pane e Salute is the back to roots, modern version of the same idea. Instead of stuffy, you find warm and cozy, a locavore menu that tells you exactly where the ingredients come from, a mix tape that includes Serge Gainsbourg, dim lights and limited seating (definitely, definitely need reservations for this one). All in all, a place that both in style and food quality would feel right at home in Brooklyn, receiving rave reviews from Adam Platt. That it’s nestled in the upstairs of an old white building off Main Street only makes it more charming and special.

Dining here has options for many budgets, which is nice. A long list of excellent sounding thin crust pizzas fill the back of the menu while a $42 dollar four course meal pre fixe is listed on the front (the items from which can also be ordered a la carte). Since we were in vacation mode, we of course opted for the pre fixe and were thrilled with the results: buttery proscuitto and fresh handmade mozzarella, a decadent liver pate crostini, seafood pasta with a lovely rich sauce, calamari grilled to tender perfection, and last but not least, a homemade vanilla gelato dusted with licorice sea salt. The meal, to our surprise took over two hours, and we enjoyed every second.

If you’re in the area, or even a drive away, consider these spots for a nice meal out, depending on your mood. Neither will disappoint. Lots of photos after the jump- oh and the last is of a marshmallow sundae I had at the quaint and ultra friendly Mountain Creamery – great for a less fancy sugar fix.

Click here for the rest of Woodstock VT: Simon Pearce and Osteria Pane Salute

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Posted on July 11, 2010