Thursday, June 22, 2006

no cook cooking

There's a delightfully lazy season we call summer.

In it, we put much effort into not putting hardly any effort into cooking at all. We're very lucky that farmer's markets are bursting with sweetly ripened fruits and vegetables so that putting as little energy into cooking still gives us delicious meals.

Here is a meeting of tasty ingredients: two slices of quality bread (sourdough in my case, but any wheat dense bread would be good), a soft Danish blue cheese, thin slices of a tart apple (Crispin), and fresh pecans. I toasted my bread first. True, it is a little bit more of an effort, but why buy such nice bread without crisping up the outer crust?

Remember to keep your nut meats in the refrigerator or the freezer because the oils in the nuts can spoil.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

cool hits of summer

I think I'm going to have to list top twenty ways best ways to cool off during summer.

The Chocolixir from Godiva is hands down the best chocolate milkshake I've ever had. Godiva. Need I say more? I've only tried the Dark Chocolate Decadence, but is there a need to try any other flavor? Really?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

east village delights

There are many many reasons why I love the East Village. You would be correct in assuming all of these reasons are edible.

Well, there used to be food on that plate, but I ate it before I remembered to take a picture, but what nice Thai Ice Tea!

Mini Thai Cafe on Avenue A between 5th and 6th Ave is just about the only Thai restaurant that has my full approval. I learned to eat Thai food in Thailand, and therefore eschew all the Americanized versions of Thai food around the city. I am snobby about Thai food for a reason. Though I am fully supportive of the zany sushi combos only Americans make, the changes to the Thai cuisine disturb the delicate balance of flavors that makes Thai food so delicious. Some of the changes include making all the food much sweeter than it usually is, and using chicken breast which is healthier, is not the meat of choice for long stewed curries.

The number one reasons to hit Mini Thai Cafe is the Gai Yang -- Thai BBQ Chicken. There would be a picture of it also, but I'm afraid I dug in right away. My friend enjoyed his Curry Massaman as well. The summer rolls were good. The curry puffs were only mediocre, but the Thai Ice Tea was refreshing, light, and sweet.

The restaurant itself is small and cosy with friendly waitstaff. They'll smile if you say "sawadee-cah" (if you're a female) or "sawadee-krup" (if you're a male). And don't forget to thank them with "cab-kun-cah" (again female), or "cab-kun-krap."

I highly recommend making the trek out to 6th and A. Take the F train to the 2nd St stop and walk. Yummy Thai food awaits.

Monday, June 12, 2006

chicken soup thai style

During the one rainy cold week here in NYC, I managed to come down with a cold smack dab in the middle of June.

After a day or so of cold medicine, I decided I needed soup therapy. The reason why the spicy soup I've made works so well, is that in addition to the warmth of the soup soothing the throat, the spicyness helps open up the sinuses as well.

I'm sure you can still eat this soup when you're feeling fine. It'll probably even taste better without a stuffy nose.

Joy's Get Better Quick Thai Chicken Soup

2 T vegetable oil
3 T red curry paste
4 chopped chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)
2 baby eggplants in 1/2 inch pieces (get Japanese ones if you can find them)
1 yellow pepper, 1 orange
2 scallions
2 c chicken broth (1 boullion cube/2 c water)
1 can of coconut milk
1 inch of ginger in thick slices
2 serrano chiles chopped (or less to taste of how spicy -- omit seeds if you'd like it milder)
1/3 bunch of chopped cilantro
juice of one lime
2 t brown sugar
fish sauce to taste

In a large pot, heat 2 T of vegetable oil. Add the curry paste being careful of the spatter. Break up the curry paste and fry until fragrant (about 2 minutes). Then, add the chicken thighs and fry for another two minutes. Add the vegetables and continue to fry for another five minutes. Add the broth, coconut milk, ginger slices, serrano chiles and scallions. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the brown sugar and fish sauce to taste. Then squeeze the lime in the soup right before serving.

Since this soup uses chicken thighs it's all right to let the soup simmer as long as you want. The meat just gets more tender.

Makes about 6 servings.

As they say in Thai: aroi maak maak (very very delicious)

Oh, and don't eat the ginger slices! They're in the soup like a French bouquet garni.

Friday, June 09, 2006

trader joe's bonanza

I mentioned to a friend, I had always thought my twenties would be a time where I would be waltzing into Trader Joe's and picking up some tasty chicken tamales from the freezer section for a song, but I ended up living in every city which didn't house this store. However, at long last, Trader Joe's has opened on Manhattan located on 14th St. and 3rd Ave. Here's something I roasted up today from my spoils from TJ's. There's nothing like roasted veggies in the summer.

Roasted Portobello Mushrooms and a Medley of Potatoes

3 large portobello mushroom caps in thick slices
2 lbs of a variety of small potatoes in slices: red ones, purple ones, fingerling ones
3 cloves of garlic
2 t olive oil
1 t salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 T of fresh flat leaf parsley
1 oz of soft Spanish goat cheese
1/4 of a lemon

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In a large bowl toss the potatoes with all of the ingredients except the goat cheese and lemon juice. Cover a heavy baking tray with aluminum foil. Roast at 400 F for half an hour. Then, crumble goat cheese over the vegetables. Turn up heat to 450 F and roast for another fifteen minutes. Squeeze the lemon over the top of the dish when it's finished.

I have to say that it's hard to wait for potatoes to roast up. I find myself hovering around the stove trying to grab hot pieces of potatoes, and they're excellent as leftovers too ...

Monday, June 05, 2006

curious, google blueberry and itoen ...

Turns out if you google blueberry and Itoen (a Japanese tea company), you'll come up with one of my blog entries.

Voila, it's my new drink of the summer season. The blueberry green tea Itoen has created is at the top of my list for the new breed of tea-juice creations. I remember fondly back to my Amherst days when Fresh Side introduced me to the delights of a voluptuous peachy tea.

Itoen also makes black iced tea with: raspberry, apple, lemon, mango and peach. Though I was consuming many liters of the peach flavor in previous weeks, blueberry has won with raspberry coming in at a close second. It was completely dangerous for me to find out I can order it by the caseload.

Either I will turn into a big blueberry like Veronica from Charlie's Chocolate factory, or maybe my vision will become much more acute (since blueberries are proven to be wonderful for your eyes).

they call it cafe lux for a reason

New digs, new eateries ...

Cafe Luxembourg, located on 70th St between Amsterdam and whatever street is more westerly of it, has been a gem of a restaurant on the Upper Westside for a good twenty years. They obviously are doing something right. At dinner I had a Wild Mushroom Risotto with Asparagus gratin, Tiger Shrimp with Pasta in a Parmesan Cream sauce, and Blood Orange Sorbet.

Both the risotto and pasta were delicious. I thought the sorbet was too sweet though and detracted from the sophisticated flavor of the blood orange. I often say to my friends about New York restaurants that it takes a lot of excite the jaded New York palate, so one will see a lot of fusion on restaurant menus or there are the restaurants who simply do things very very good.

Cafe Luxembourg falls into the latter category. My only reservation about Cafe Lux is the price range ($25 is average for an dinner entree), but it's now much more conveniently located than Pastis. I'm eager to go again and perhaps try out their brunch menu one of these weekends.