Tuesday, March 21, 2006

R.U.B. a Dub Dub

Stupid deadlines at work preventing me from updating my precious food blog! Luckily, all the stress made my body finally give out, and now I'm home sick, bored out of my mind. I'm too sick to even cook anything, although I'm thinking I may have the strength to bake some pumpkin bread later. Mmmmm. Pumpkin bread.

Anyhoo, I'll take this snot-filled opportunity to catch up on my recent culinary adventures. Two weekends ago (I know, I know. I said I've been crazy-busy at work), I had to run up to Chelsea to run a few work-related errands. Now, before you scream that I do too much for work, this was actually to do something nice for a coworker, so it wasn't TECHNICALLY work. Just work-related. Q and I picked up the Best Of issue of New York Magazine in hopes of finding a tasty morsel for lunch. Q is a good ol' midwestern boy, and I just plain like to eat, so barbeque was a lovely compromise. The magazine mentioned that R.U.B. was a decent place, and it happened to be right by my errand. Oh, how the stars align!

R.U.B. BBQ (standing for Righteous Urban Barbeque) had a really chill vibe inside. It was pretty empty, so we had pretty much the whole back section to ourselves. They had a mix of the Beatles and the White Stripes (dated enough not to be pretentious and hipstery) blaring. We weren't prepared to tackle the massive "Down Home Pig Pick'n," the $90 feast, so we just stuck with sammiches. What a sammich it was.

I had the pulled pork sandwich. The picture is a bit deceptive as it tends to focus on the Wonderbread-type bun, but the innards were soooo good. The pork wasn't drowning in sauce like most pulled meat sandwiches, but it was incredibly flavorful and tender. Mmmm. Just thinking about it almost makes me feel better. Nope. Still sick.

We got a side of Hushpuppies, because I'm a sucker for anything called a puppy. My prior experience with hushpuppies are the flavorless ones that you get from Long John Silver. These were far better. They sorta tasted like the cornmeal exterior of a tamale. Yum. I don't know why they came with packets of butter though. I mean, I'm not a hushpuppy connoisseur in the least, but they seem more apropos with ketchup. Maybe you eat them with butter like cornbread? Does anyone out there have hushpuppy experience? I'm in the dark with this one.

So that was my R.U.B. experience. It was relatively inexpensive. I'd say pricewise it's comparable to the ubiquitous BBQ chain of restaurants in NYC (one is actually right across the street), and it's lightyears better. The only thing that was lacking was the beer selection, but they had Blue Point, so that's not too bad. Plus, when you're giving yourself a coronary with yummy bbq, water is a nice way to wash it down.

An Grill.

Oh, Chipotle. Just because you have delicious corn salsa at insane prices, you think you can get away with grammatical errors?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

So, This Guy Walks into a Lemon Bar... OW!

There are some things that are good to know for your health but are emotionally traumatic to know. Like how many people your significant other has slept with. Or if your parents ever did heavy drugs when you were in utero. Or how many egg yolks go into lemon bars.

For my birthday, I had the uncontrollable urge to buy myself silly kitchen gadgets. After my shopping carnage, I was the proud owner of a zester and the Baking Illustrated tome by, you guessed, the peeps at America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Illustrated. I’m obsessed.

I decided to make something citrusy in hopes that it would be at least somewhat healthier than the chocolate kick I've been on recently. I had my taste for lemon temporarily satisfied by the tart at Hearth, but I wanted more.

The recipe itself is incredibly easy. The trinity of sugar, flour, and butter make the crust, which you then bake for about 15 minutes. Then using way too many egg yolks to admit in public, some lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, and salt, you create the yummy, freakishly yellow custard topping. Bake all together and voila!

However, knowing just how many egg yolks went into this makes me a little guilty every time I take a nibble. Maybe ignorance is bliss when it comes to baked goods.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A Brisket, A Tasket or The Frying of Latke 49

After a week of eating out, I was aching to get back in the kitchen. I asked Q what he wanted for dinner, and he immediately suggested, nay, demanded that I make the Two-potato Latkes from the November issue of Cooking Light. A couple of whirs of my trusty food processor, and I had shredded my russets and sweet potatoes to create the starchy building blocks I needed. However, when it came to forming the cakes, I had a bit of trouble.

You see, the shredded potatoes should be rid of their juices. Oh my, do potatoes have a lot of liquid! I did the best I could considering I didn’t have cheesecloth, but I probably only squeezed out 70% of the liquid. The cooking light recipe only called for 1 egg, while other recipes call for 3. Needless to say, my latkes did not have an easy time staying together. The low-fat recipe also called for baking the latkes rather than frying them. However, baking them just left the little suckers sticking to the baking sheet, even after greasing the sheet with a little more oil than called for.

In the end, the salvageable latkes looked very yummy, but they just tasted like hash-browns. It was a whole lot of effort for not much payoff, so I shan’t be making this recipe again.

However, the Brisket (yes, with a capital B), was a whole lot of payoff for not much effort. Oh, the yin and yang balance of my kitchen! I once again turned to Cook's Illustrated and their recipe for Onion-Braised Beef Brisket (free registration). Basically, you just stick the browned brisket in a foil packet with some sautéed onions and other sundry spices. This method yielded a surprisingly tender piece of meat in roughly 2 hours, leaving me plenty of time to paint my nails while watching season 1 of The Muppet Show. I have to try the Swedish Chef’s recipe for doughnuts.

I tend to end these recipe reviews with a Jerry Springer-style Final Thought. Instead, I’ll ask a trivia question. The second part of this post’s title is from a television show. What was the name of the episode that I ripped it from? I promise to mail a treat to the first person to answer correctly.

Will You Still Feed Me When I’m 24?

As you may have noticed, I haven’t updated in quite some time. Oh. You haven’t noticed? Well then. This is awkward.

The latter days of February brought about two momentous occasions: my strokeaversary and my 24th birthday.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term “strokeaversary,” I’ll explain. You see, three years ago, I “suffered” a stroke. No cause was ever decided upon, which is quite alarming for a young girl celebrating her 21st birthday. That time was for self-induced brain damage from alcohol, not brain damage from “neurological accidents” (what the doctors ended up calling it). Well, point is, I’m 98% recovered now, and I tend to celebrate the anniversary with a party. Hence, the strokeaversary gala!

Foodwise, the strokeaversary mainly consisted of booze. No brain cell goes unharmed here! I also made hummus with paprika spiced pita chips, chocolate chip cookies, butter-spice cookies dipped in chocolate, and a fantastic punch I dubbed “BrainFreeze,” which consisted of frozen raspberries, frozen lemonade, triple sec, and a whole bunch of tequila. ‘Twas great, and ‘twas gone in 60 seconds. (YES! My first Nicolas Cage reference in this blog. Keep your eyes peeled for more, kids!)

My birthday week was a week of nice restaurants and Broadway shows courtesy my mum from Florida. Rather than bore you with details, I’ll try to keep this brief.

2/21- DB Bistro Moderne- I had the cod veiled (sexy way of saying wrapped) in bacon. The bacon was way too overpowering for the cod, but the gnocchi that came with it was great. Q had the famous $30 burger. Imagine the layers of the earth. Short ribs form the core, while fois gras is the mantle and ground sirloin is the crust. This is the tastiest earth science lesson that you’ll ever have. It was pretty good, but Q decided that the burgers at Corner Bistro are better. Afterwards we went to see Doubt. Great play, but we weren’t too keen on Jena Malone.

2/23- We went to see Sweeney Todd, which was fantastic. Can’t recommend this production enough.

2/24- Dinner at Hearth. Excellent! I decided to go here after reading a review over at The Amateur Gourmet. Delicious. I'm so glad I followed the advice of a complete (albeit funny) stranger. I started with the Hamachi with Honeycrisp Apples, Pickled Celery and Coriander, had the Wild Boar Pappardelle with Red Wine and Rosemary as an entrée and ended stealing everyone else’s desserts: Apple Cider Doughnuts, Meyer Lemon Merangue tart, and my favorite, the Milk Chocolate Tart with Semolina Crust and Peanut Brittle Ice Cream. YUM!

Strokes, tequila, theater, friends, family, and great food. All in all, not too shabby a birthday week, I must say!