Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oh, comme il est si petit!

On Saturday afternoon I popped into Two Little Red Hens to grab a scone to have for breakfast before my flight to California. While I was waiting for the crowds to part so I could see what breakfast pastries were left, I noticed a new kind of cupcake in the display case: pumpkin.

That's right, folks! It's officially fall - the kind folks at Two Little Red Hens say so!

I added a miniature pumpkin cupcake to my scone order and scooted home to enjoy it in private. It was, in a word, delicious. The frosting was a whipped cream cheese, flavored with a touch of pumpkin. The cake itself was remarkably moist, but delicate and with a soft, light crumb. And at about three bites, the miniature version was a perfect afternoon pick-me-up.

And super-cute, to boot!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Aaaaand...we're off!

Hello, my lovelies! If I've timed things right, you'll be reading this post just as I land in sunny California. I'm headed to the Sonoma Valley to celebrate my 30th birthday with a group of family and friends. We've rented a house in Santa Rosa, and will be scampering all over the valley, with a few detours to Napa.

I've never been to Sonoma, so I'd love to hear any recommendations you have. My friends Wendy and Dayne just visited for their anniversary, so I'm using their trip as something of a crib sheet (they were also based in Santa Rosa). They know everything there is to know about wine and food and cocktails, so I can't wait to see their favorites.

Keep the city safe while I'm gone!


Photos courtesy of wadetibb and Tyler Howarth.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Queenie's Treasury

I'm off to California tomorrow, and I'm a bit over-excited about it (Well, about every aspect of it save my 7:30 AM flight.), so please excuse any too-wordy or run-on writing. Let's get to it!

I have a gorgeous peppermill, but, for some reason, I always find myself craving another one. So far, I've been a good girl and have managed to control myself. These might change that. Handmade in North Carolina, Mica Knob Studio's walnut and cherry specimens are absolutely stunning. I'm normally attracted to laquered peppermills (like this one from Peugeot), but I can't help loving the natural grain of the wood on these.

Bacon tempura is back on the menu at Red Cat. Wow. And, um, that's all I really have to say about that. Just thought you should know.

Some of you might remember that I'm almost as obsessed with design as I am with food. Almost. This week, one of my favorite interior design blogs, Decor8, published an inspiring post full of some of my favorite rooms. I find this dining salon dreamy.

Finally, as I head off to my own gorgeous vacation destination in Sonoma, I've discovered a new drool-worthy spot. Design*Sponge unveiled the first photos of the oh-so-talented stephmodo's labor of love, a renovated cottage in the Dordogne region of France. The best part? You can rent this place by the week over on VRBO. Who's in?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Kitchen Lust: Yauatcha Atelier Teacups

Design*Sponge linked to these teacups the other day, and I have been deep in lust ever since. I love the little branch handles, the smooth white surface, and the suprising pop of gilt on the inside. They would look amazing on any table, but I keep picturing them on a stretch of heather gray felt.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Love + food = giveaway!

OK, guys. It's finally here. My best friend Louisa Edwards has released her debut novel, and it's awesome. The first in her Recipe For Love trilogy, Can't Stand The Heat is the story of the romance between Miranda Wake, a restaurant critic, and Adam Temple, a chef.

That's right - it's a romance novel. About food.

I have read said novel (all in one go on a Friday night a few weeks back), and I promise that you will love it. It's funny and smart and full of delicious food (including a recipe for this cocktail and this product of our 2008 Pork Belly-Off). It's also full of punk music, men with sexy accents, lessons in how to poach an egg, and, well - booty. After all, it is a romance novel.

I know, dear readers, that you are dying to get your hands on a copy. I'm here to help. Better yet - I will get you a signed copy, dedicated to you (or the friend or loved one of your choice), inked by none other than the authoress herself.

All you have to do to win is comment below and tell me about your favorite food-related scene from all of literature - if you can choose just one, that is. You have until 5 PM EDT on Monday, September 28th to enter, after which a lucky winner will be chosen at random!


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Somewhere over the rainbow.

This Sunday, I took the M86 crosstown bus over to the Upper West Side to check out the Greenmarket behind the Museum of Natural History. I had a bit of a late start on Saturday morning (I blame my friends Mark and Jim - they're major enablers), so I didn't make it to the Union Square or the East 82nd Street outposts. The Upper West Side market, however, is open on Sundays. Score!

Even more of a score? Piles of gorgeous, late-season Kirby cucumbers, new-season Gala apples, and a create-your-own-pint-of-cherry-tomatoes offer, courtesy of Berried Treasures Farm. I love having an assortment of tiny tomatoes on hand; the slight variations in tang and sweetness make for a more interesting salad, and the different colors are just so darn pretty.

Even better, they only charged three dollars for a pint - a pretty good deal in Greenmarket land. I think I'll have to make a rainbow version of spaghetti with tomatoes, garlic and basil sometime very soon.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hey, Babycakes!

As is well-documented on this blog, I love meat. Chicken, pork, lamb, beef, fish - you name it, I eat it with relish. Same goes for butter, eggs, wheat and sugar. But all of that doesn't mean I can't appreciate a good vegan, wheat- and sugar-free treat when I see one.

Saturday afternoon, I headed down to the Lower East Side to have my hair done (by the fabulous Holly at Fringe Salon). My salon is on Broome Street, right next to Babycakes, one of the best-known vegan bakeries in the city, and an agave brownie bite seemed just the thing to make my afternoon of pampering complete.

The brownie bites are about an inch and a half across, filled with a chocolate pudding. They're more cakey than fudgey in texture; I think of them as a virtuous version of Hostess cupcakes - free of wheat and sugar, but still satisfyingly chocolatey and gooey and delicious.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Queenie's Treasury

This weekend has been a bit of a whirlwind for me, so I apologize for the slightly late arrival of this week's edition of the Treasury. Without further ado...

One of the coolest, lust-worthy things making the blog rounds this week is Ikea's new Charley Harper-esque melamine tray. Emblazoned with a flock of multicolored birds, it's cheerful, it's cheap, and it's great design.

Next up, a drool-worthy look at Paris through the eyes of a first-time visitor, Erin Gates of the design blog Elements of Style. You all know how much I love Paris, and it's been a joy to read along as Erin falls in love with the city in her own way. I've always avoided doing too much shopping in Paris (the better to save my money for food and booze), but I might have to make an exception on my next visit.

Finally, a little holiday fun. Today is the first full day of Rosh Hashanah, the festival celebrating the Jewish new year. Up in Portsmouth, at the Strawberry Banke museum (one of the coolest examples of living history there is), it's being celebrated much as it was by first-generation Russian immigrants back in 1919. Barbara Ann Paster plays Shiva Shapiro at Strawberry Banke, right down to preparing roast chicken with kasha and putting up late summer peaches. Check out the New York Times story for some fun history lessons - and some gorgeous recipes.

Monday, September 14, 2009

They're here!

I got up early on Saturday morning (one of the good things about a quiet Friday night) and hoofed it down to the Union Square Greenmarket around eight o'clock. Upon arrival, I was thrilled to see box upon box of new-harvest (as opposed to cold-storage) apples at the Terhune stand. Gala and Honeycrisp and Fuji - oh my!

I helped myself to a couple of the rosy-golden Gala apples and snapped a photo of the bounty. Nothing says fall like a big ol' pile of apples - except for a big ol' pile of leaves, something we don't see a lot of in Manhattan.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Introducing...Queenie's Treasury!

Over the weekends, the blogosphere, much like TV, tends to be lacking in terribly exciting content. I'm as guilty of this as anyone - occasionally I'll post something on Sunday afternoons (the time of week I tend to do most of my writing), but most of my weekend is devoted to gathering blog fodder, as opposed to dispensing the final product.

To help you get through those long Saturdays and Sundays, I'm starting a new feature here at Queenie, called Queenie's Treasury. Each Saturday, I'll bring you a few links to some of the things that have captured my attention in the last seven days. Most of these will be related to food, travel or entertaining - but some will just be cool things I've come across in my surfing.

And now, without further ado, I present the Treasury's inaugural picks!

Serious Eats' Robyn Lee (she of The Girl Who Ate Everything fame) always finds the coolest, oddest stuff. This is no exception: a clip from a Belgian film documenting one woman's day-to-day life in 1970s Brussels. In this scene, she makes meatloaf. The sounds are the real-life version of the Food Network's food porn soundtrack, all smacking and squishing. Fascinating.

If you don't read Smitten Kitchen yet, you absolutely should. Fantastic recipes, inspiring photography, the works. This week, Deb published what looks to me like the perfect late-summer dish: roasted tomatoes and cipollini onions. I read the recipe three days ago, and I'm still drooling.

Last but not least, dessert. Design*Sponge may be a (duh) design blog, but each Friday it features a recipe. These are usually desserts, and they always look fantastic - not least because the contributions usually come care of other design bloggers. This week's recipe is no exception, but the look is slightly different. In place of the usual worshipful food photography, Julia Rothman submits her blackberry pie recipe with frame-worthy cartoon instructions. Helpful and fun, to boot.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, September 11, 2009


Ice cream sandwiches are one of summers great pleasures, and I wasn't about to let the fact that summer is pretty much over keep me from enjoying mine.

On Monday afternoon, a bit bored and a tad restless, I decided to make some chocolate chip cookies to take into work on Tuesday. As I took the first batch out of the oven, I remembered one of my grand plans from earlier in the summer: homemade ice cream sandwiches filled with salted caramel ice cream.

I didn't have the ingredients for homemade ice cream on hand, but I did have some delicious Ronnybrook vanilla in the freezer. Cue light bulb and deliciousness.

I took two same-size, completely cool cookies and spooned some slightly softened ice cream onto one of them, pressing the other down to complete the sandwich. I cut off a piece of parchment paper, wrapped the newborn sandwich, and put the packet in the freezer to firm up for a couple of hours.

Later that night, after dinner, I took the sandwich out of the freezer and took a bite. Keller's cookies are distinguished by their large quantity of dark brown sugar, and I think this helped keep the cookies nice and chewy, even after a few hours on ice. The ice cream had firmed up nicely, too, so the sandwich held together nicely.

The salty, sweet, rich cookie worked really well with the Ronnybrook. They make a very traditional vanilla: sweet, creamy and fairly neutral in flavor. As it turns out, that's what you want when the cookie in question is super-flavorful.

Now, for that salted caramel version...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

All right, already!

There are recipes you make once, forget about, and leave behind you forever. And then there are those you make once that haunt you, confronting you at every opportunity, screaming, "Make me!" You find excuses, reasons not to - and then, one day, the perfect scenario materializes, and you finally scratch the itch.

I first made the BLTomatoes from the Gourmet Cookbook back in 2004, for my friend Louisa's 25th birthday party. The night was a blur of delicious food and bounteous booze, but one morsel went faster than the others. Louisa's now-husband and I cooked all afternoon; I went home to shower and returned about twenty minutes after the first guests had arrived. The 50 or 60 BLTomatoes we'd painstakingly prepared? They were gone. Gone!

BLTomatoes are pretty much exactly what they sound like - cherry or grape tomatoes stuffed with a combination of bacon, lettuce, mayonnaise, and scallions. They are a pain in the ass to make - you have to hollow out the tomatoes and stuff their tiny insides with the filling - but oh my god are they good. The tricks to taking them from tasty to lip-smacking? Use the best bacon you can find (I prefer Schaller & Weber's double-smoked.), don't skimp on the salt and pepper, and don't leave out the scallion. Its peppery bite is key.

And be patient with the trimming and seeding of the tomatoes - it can be slow-going (especially if you use grape tomatoes), but it's well worth the effort.

Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

14 cherry or grape tomatoes
1 tsp. salt
1/4 lb. bacon, thinly sliced
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1/4 c. thinly sliced romaine lettuce
2 tbs. mayonnaise
Salt and pepper, to taste

Slice a tiny bit off of the bottom of each tomato (to help them stand upright on the plate). Cut off the tops of the tomatoes, and carefully scoop out and discard the pulp and seeds. Sprinkle the salt over the tomatoes, then invert them on a paper towel. Set aside to drain while preparing the filling.

Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels, then crumble or chop finely. In a small bowl, gently mix the bacon with the scallion, lettuce, mayonnaise, salt and pepper until well-combined. Test the filling for seasoning; remember, you will be eating the tomato, too, so you want it to be a bit on the salty side.

Stuff each tomato full of the filling; eat any leftover filling yourself, straight off the spoon.

Serve immediately, or chill in the fridge for up to five hours.

Makes 14 canapés.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Frugality and deliciousness are the best of bedfellows.

We've talked about leftovers here before, and I've made my feelings known: I actually kind of like them. They force me to be creative, and to think about my food in a new way. They provide building blocks for future meals. They help me make quick, easy dinners on busy evenings. And, frankly, they're major money-savers.

On Sunday night, my friend Cristin and I got together at her place to try out Kerry Saretsky's (as it turns out, awesome) recipe for drunken angel hair with leeks and cream. It was delicious - but even a half recipe was too much for the two of us. We were brainstorming ways to use the leftovers, and hit upon the idea of using a tuft or two of the pasta and leeks as filling for baked eggs.

I had steak for dinner on Monday, so I thought Tuesday would be a good night for some lighter fare. I piled a bit of the leftover pasta into a buttered ramekin, cracked an egg over it, seasoned it with salt, pepper and parsley, and baked the whole thing in a hot oven.

The result? A rich, delicious meal, ready in pretty much no time flat, and made for mere pennies. Sure, you factor in the green salad I ate on the side, and we're probably talking a dollar or two total. But, I mean - still: you can't beat that.

Baked Eggs with Leftover Pasta

You should by no means limit yourself to including pasta in this dish. Do you have leftover roasted vegetables? A bit of chicken or steak? Chili? Throw that in instead!

Unsalted butter, for greasing the ramekin
1/4 cup leftover pasta, sauce included
1 egg
1 tbs milk or half & half
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

Using a bit of unsalted butter, lightly butter the bottom and sides of the ramekin, all the way up to the lip. Pile the pasta evenly in the ramekin, and crack the egg over it, taking care to keep the yolk as centered as possible. Pour the milk over the egg (it will fall to the sides and into the pasta).

Season the contents of the ramekin with the salt, pepper and most of the parsley. Place in the oven and bake until the white is just set, but the yolk is still a bit...jiggly. Top with the remaining parsley and dig in!

Serves one, though, obviously, it easily multiplies to serve many!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I scream for peanut butter sundaes.

As former denizens of New England, Miles and I were both thoroughly indoctrinated into the church of Friendly's at a very young age.

You think I exaggerate, but I do not. Ice cream is something of a religion in New England; the abundance of dairy farms combines with the fervent embrace of a short summer season to create a frenzy for frozen, creamy goodness. The region is chock full of local, artisanal creameries. I remember, for example, my brother's deep and abiding passion for the banana split at Kimball's in Westford, Massachusetts. And there are two local ice cream places within walking distance of my aunt's condo in Bristol, Rhode Island.

All this local goodness, and Miles and I wind up at Friendly's. I know, I know.

Friendly's, for those of you who've never had the luck to visit it, is a hamburger and ice cream chain with outlets found mainly in the Northeast - but who, in the last ten years or so, have begun to sell their ice cream in grocery stores around the country.

For me, Friendly's was always, primarily, a place for dessert. My dad would take us there as a Sunday afternoon treat, or I'd go with fellow community theatre cast members after a late-night dress rehearsal or to celebrate an opening night. It was a treat, a special occasion kind of place, and it was there that my love of peanut butter sundaes was born.

Friendly's, you see, has this Reese's Pieces sundae that I remember as pretty much the best thing ever. The peanut butter sauce is a warm, salty counterpoint for the rich hot fudge (Friendly's has real fudge sauce, not syrup) and the cold vanilla ice cream. All of these things remain awesome, but I'm actually kind of over the Reese's Pieces themselves. When eaten at room temperature, they are as delicious as ever, in that peanut-butter-plus-chemical-emulsifiers kind of way. But dotted in a sundae, they are frozen, rock hard, and practically tasteless.

Not that this stopped me from enjoying my sundae to the utmost; I just ate around them. I am, after all, an expert in the field.

Just call me Mary Lennox.

One of my favorite books of all time is The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett.* Growing up, it seemed impossibly exotic, full of foreign lands (India, England) and secret spots. In fact, I think one of the reasons it's such an enduring story is that Mary's search for a place of her own and her discovery of the tucked away and forgotten garden resonate with something very human: the quest for that which is hidden.

As a child, I was obsessed with secret passages, hidden gardens, and overgrown paths. I'd roam our hundred year-old house, feeling the walls for catches or painted-over door frames, and explore the wooded park near our home, in search of abandoned encampments. This thirst hasn't abated.

As a result, I expect, I found myself enchanted by Maudslay State Park, an old Newburyport estate (home of the Moseleys) which became a park in the mid-1980s. The park is right on the river, and the estate's old gardens (some maintained, some running wild) dot the property. There are also the remains of two old houses - the foundation of the original 72-room mansion as well as that of the smaller (but still respectably-sized) home the Moseleys built for their daughter.

The park's visitor center was closed on Sunday afternoon, so Miles and I found ourselves exploring the woods, fields and gardens unguided. We contemplated every path, wondering if we'd found the service driveway, or the path created to impress visitors to the estate. We stumbled on kitchen gardens, arbors, greenhouses long since missing their glass roofs, and overgrown thatches of rhododendron - those were everywhere.

It was all I could to stop myself looking for a nosy misselthrush and a poorly-buried key.

*It should also be noted that Miles & I met 12 years ago performing in a production of the musical version of The Secret Garden. Yes, we are officially old.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sundays with Miles.

Back when Miles was still living here in New York (He and his partner, Hall, now own and run a gorgeous lodge in New Zealand.), we used to spend many a Sunday afternoon drinking coffee and working on the Sunday Times crossword puzzle. When I did not perform as well as I should have on our joint puzzle effort back in June, I decided it was time for some intense puzzle training.

I started doing the puzzle, daily, with some friends from work. And so, when Miles declared that we were going to Fowle's for breakfast and the crossword, I was ready.

I bought a Sunday Times from the newsstand side of the store, we sat down at the counter and ordered, and got down to business. Breakfast for Miles was yogurt and berries; for me, it was scrambled eggs and corned beef hash. Hey, people - I was on vacation, and vacation, to me, means nothing so much as fried potatoes for breakfast. Yum.

Once we'd shown the puzzle who was boss, we headed out for a walk along the waterfront. It was a beautiful day, the sun sparkling like mad on the river. We decided to explore a bit, ending up in Oldie's, one of those classic New England antique barns. The pickings were plentiful, but there was no way I was carrying a cast-iron skillet all the way home with me.

Our ramble also included a trip to Miles's favorite toy store, where I found eco-friendly toy cookware - and it wasn't pink! Gender neutral and environmentally friendly, guys! I was so excited, I took multiple pictures. I'll only make you look at one, though.

Memory lane, à la Meg.

After our nostalgic (and filling) evening at The Grog, it was all Miles & I could do to drag our piggy little butts home and into bed. Saturday morning, we got up bright and early, had some breakfast (and coffee) in the Garrison's dining room, and piled into the car for a drive up to New Hampshire, and back into my own adolescence.

We were on our way to meet my friends Ginelle and Rob for lunch in Portsmouth - but, first, we had a stop planned at Phillips Exeter Academy, the prep school Ginelle & I attended for four years in the fashion-unfriendly mid-90s. Miles had never seen the campus, and even though things were shut down for the annual late-summer renovation frenzy, I wanted to show him around a bit.

We took a walking tour of the campus - which has changed a bit since my time, with new-fangled buildings all over the place and far too many luxuries, in my crotchety opinion - and just generally enjoyed the ridiculously warm weather. We ran into a few faculty members enjoying their time off (we were there during the break between summer school and the fall term) and visited the Hill Bridge, off of which you must jump, if you wish to graduate. No, really.

After our walk, we hopped in the car and sped off toward Portsmouth, an adorable town on the Piscataqua River, just across the bridge from Kittery, Maine. We had some time to kill before meeting up with Rob & Ginelle, and decided to take a little drive out to Wentworth by the Sea, a big old white elephant of a resort in New Castle. New Castle is just south of Portsmouth, and is built entirely on islands - a really cool place, full of beautiful vistas and cute little coves.

On our drive, we also discovered one of the most beautiful wedding venues on earth - really. A tiny, gorgeous little chapel is hidden in the woods leading down to the coast, and about half a mile past it is the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion, a rambling yellow house on a gentle slope, smack next to the water. Absolutely stunning. I wish we'd gotten to poke around a bit more, but since there was an actual wedding in progress, we thought it best to make ourselves scarce.

Finally, we rolled into Portsmouth, where lunch - and chocolate - awaited us.

Postcard of the Wentworth by the Sea hotel via Wikipedia.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Memory lane, à la Miles.

My trip to New England with Miles had a primary purpose: nostalgia. Lots and lots of nostalgia. Miles, you see, was born in Massachusetts, and lived with his family in West Newbury until junior high, when they moved to Richmond, Virginia. Miles hadn't been back in years, and invited me to tag along for the fun.

I took the bus up to Boston and met Miles at Logan, where we hopped in our rental car and sped up to Newburyport. Newburyport is an adorable seaside town north of Boston. It sits at the mouth of the Merrimack River, ideally situated as a port for trade with northern New England (hence the name, I imagine).

After we'd checked in to our hotel (The Garrison Inn - super cute, though in need of a little touching up), we headed off on foot through downtown Newburyport. Our destination? The Grog.

The Grog lives in Miles's memory as a family dinner destination - but, above all, it lives as the home of delicious clam chowder. He warned me ahead of time that The Grog's chowder was not terribly thick, and was far more buttery than the usual suspects. But, he assured me, it was delicious.

After a five-minute walk through cobblestone streets, we arrived and were seated at a little table in the bar. We each ordered the chowder (a cup for me, a bowl for Miles) and sandwiches (a burger on an English muffin for me, a Cuban for Miles) - and beer, of course.

The chowder arrived about five seconds later, piping hot and accompanied by oyster crackers. And I am not exaggerating about that piping hot bit, either - after the first, scorching bite, I had to let mine cool down for a few minutes before diving back in.

The chowder was indeed brothier than your average New England version, but it was still delicious. Swimming in sherry and butter, it was full of flavor. The clams were soft and toothsome, not tough and chewy, and the chunks of potato were well-seasoned and just the right texture. It was easy to see why Miles held this soup in such high esteem - though he claims it's not quite as good as it used to be.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Party of one.

On Sunday, I spent the morning running errands: dropping clothes and shoes off at Housing Works, stopping at the drug store to replenish my gum supply, hitting Kate's Paperie for some birthday cards, and stopping by Citarella for some shrimp.

I'm not sure where the idea to make shrimp scampi for dinner came from - maybe from a desire to eat something delightfully garlicky and slightly boozy? Who knows - but one thing I do know is that scampi, like so many pasta dishes, is a great dinner to make for one. It's fast, it's ludicrously delicious, and it's one of those things that's annoying to make for a dinner party, since you need to make it there and then - plus, who the hell wants to peel and devein shrimp for eight? Not I.

For my version, I use vermouth in the place of white wine, for a couple of reasons. First of all, I'm unlikely to have a bottle of wine open at any given time, since I can rarely make it through a bottle in any reasonable amount of time. Second, the herbs and spices in the vermouth add a bit more flavor than your standard white wine.

It may also seem, at first glance, that this recipe is a little heavy on the salt. I don't find it to be (you need it to season the shrimp and the pasta), but you should obviously use your own judgment. After all, you can always add salt later - but you can't take it out.

Next time you're on your own for dinner (or with a friend - this recipe easily doubles to feed two), try it out, and let me know what you think!

Queenie's Scampi for One

1/4 lb. dried spaghetti
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/3 lb. medium shrimp, peeled & de-veined
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 c. parsley, finely chopped
3 tbs. dry vermouth (or other white wine)
1 plum tomato, cut into a 1/2 inch dice
1/2 tbs. unsalted butter, divided

In salted, boiling water, cook the spaghetti to al dente. Drain and set aside. (You can cook the sauce & shrimp while the pasta cooks; just wait to start the sauce till the pasta is about halfway done.)

Rinse the shrimp in cold water and pat dry.

In a medium skillet set over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until just shimmering. Add the garlic, lower heat to medium, and cook gently until the garlic has turned slightly golden and is fragrant.

Turn the heat to medium-high and add the shrimp the pan, distributing them evenly. Season with the black pepper and 1/2 tsp. of the salt and saute until the shrimp begin to turn pink all over. Add the red pepper flakes and 3/4 of the parsley and continue to cook for a minute or two.

Add the vermouth and continue to cook, stirring constantly. Add the tomatoes and another 1/4 tsp. salt to the pan at this point. Cook the shrimp until they are completely pink, but not overdone. Add half the butter to the pan along with the cooked spaghetti. Cook the pasta & sauce together for a minute, add the remaining parsley, and transfer to a shallow bowl.

Dot the pasta with the remaining butter, sprinkle with the remaining salt - and eat!

Serves one (duh).

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Fall is in the air.

You know autumn is around the corner when grapes start popping up in earnest. Dark-skinned, musky grapes are my personal favorite, and I get pretty excited when they appear at the markets. I bought two pounds and have been eating them, ice cold from the fridge, all week.

Go get yourself some. You won't regret it, I promise.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ramen and pork buns and slushies, oh my!

Last week, my sister-in-law Miriam's friend Natalie was in town from the UK. Now, Natalie is a stylish, dynamic sort of woman, and so the bar for our girls' night out was, I knew, set pretty damn high. I knew I had to pick something fun, delicious, and with a good, solid buzz. And, of course, in close proximity to excellent cocktails. The winner? Momofuku Noodle Bar.

Now, yes, I know - Miriam and I just visited Momofuku Noodle a couple of weeks ago. But that was for the fried chicken dinner, and this time around we'd be eating off the normal, noodle-centric menu.

We ordered some watermelon lemonade slushies (spiked with soju) to start. Last time around, we'd gone the sensible route and ordered the small, aperitif size, but this time we went whole hog and got the proper, large size. All the better to sip through the giant, bubble tea-sized straws.

The slushies were quickly followed to the table by some delicious appetizers: smoked chicken wings and steamed pork buns. I've waxed poetic about the pork buns before, so I won't bore you here, except to say: EAT THEM. The wings are cold smoked before being brined and then sauteed and served in a sauce of wine, chiles, scallions and garlic. More flavorful than most chicken wings (which only have sauce on the outside) and less messy, too.

Next up, and most importantly, the noodles themselves. Natalie and I ordered the Momofuku ramen, while Miriam went for the ginger scallion noodles - both were delicious. The Momofuku Ramen is, unsurprisingly, a bowl of porky goodness. Ramen noodles in a pork broth with a runny poached egg, pork belly and pork shoulder. I like to season mine with a generous amount of Sriracha to cut through the richness.

Miriam's ginger scallion noodles were more delicately flavored and came with a healthy portion of lightly-pickled cucumbers. They were gorgeous, and an alternative that just might tear me away from the Momofuku ramen's porkalicious delights on a future visit.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin