Meeting a Culinary Idol

On Monday night I went out to dinner with my usual crew, Jen and Russell.  We went to ABC Kitchen-an amazing restaurant that I will blog about later on.  I was busy taking pictures of the beautiful tableware and the interesting elements of the restaurant when Jen and Russell started poking at me.  Seated at the next table over was my personal culinary idol, Elizabeth Falkner.

For those of you who don’t know, Falkner, has competed on a variety of cooking shows including Top ChefThe Next Iron Chef and Iron Chef: Redemption.  It was during The Next Iron Chef where she came in second to Geoffrey Zakarian that I fell in love with her.  I was devastated to learn that she had restaurants open but only in the Bay Area.  Imagine my thrill when she was on Iron Chef: Redemption (which she was sadly thrown off way too quickly) and I discovered she was opening a restaurant in Brooklyn.  It is high on my list to go to Krescendo, a southern Italian influenced restaurant, although I’ve not gotten the chance to go yet.

I was completely star-struck seeing her and tried to get a picture of her by taking a picture of Jen:

A picture of Jen with Elizabeth Falkner in the background!

A picture of Jen with Elizabeth Falkner in the background!

So clearly that picture didn’t work so well.  Well at a certain point the person she was with left to go to the bathroom or something and I went over and told her what a big fan I was.  Jen came over and took a picture of the two of us.  I told her that I had yet to go to her restaurant but that I really wanted to and that I was blogging and writing about restaurants that I went to.

Me with Elizabeth Falkner

Me with Elizabeth Falkner

Jen did a fabulous job of taking a picture and afterwards, as she was leaving, Elizabeth came over and gave me her card.  I am not generally star-struck by meeting famous people, I also tend to be somewhat oblivious-I’ve only noticed famous people when there is a big crowd (for example I saw Jessica Alba once at a Starbucks in New York but really only because the paparazzi was following her) but Elizabeth Falkner is really someone I admire and feel that she has a unique talent that I would like to emulate.  I hope one day I am half of the amazing and creative chef she is!  She was very gracious and sweet and I very much look forward to eating at her restaurant in the very near future.

Red Rooster Harlem

Red Rooster

Red Rooster

Rachel, Russell, Jen

Me, Russell, Jen

At the beginning of February (yes I know this is a very delayed post), my best friend, Jen, and my roommate, Russell, and I went to Red Rooster in Harlem.  Red Rooster (http://redroosterharlem.com) is owned and operated by Marcus Samuelson, a chef who competed on Iron Chef and is a frequent judge on Chopped.  We have a list of restaurants in New York that we are wanting to go to and this was the first one that will get the honor to be blogged about (be on the lookout for more soon!)

I arrived about 45 minutes early and sat down at the bar for a drink.  The atmosphere was very low key and mellow.  I ordered a Red Rooster punch ( red wine, brandy, orange liqueur and lemon) which was delicious.  While I was sitting there, a man sat down next to me and introduced himself as Harold, a man who lived in the area.  He clearly was a regular, he knew the bartender and seemed to know there were special drinks she made.  He told me about Alicia Keys singing the night before and that he had met both Bono and Sting playing downstairs.  He also recommended that we eat downstairs at Ginny’s Supper Club but I knew that Jen (and I was right) would want to eat at the main restaurant.  Russell arrived and Harold took him downstairs to see the nightclub and that’s where we will go next time.

Jen arrived (late but we love her anyway!)  We decided to order several appetizers and share them  Unfortunately I didn’t think about taking pictures until after the main courses arrived so I didn’t get the appetizers.  We ordered deviled eggs made with mayonnaise and chicken skin (yum!), corn bread with honey butter and tomato jam, I loved the honey butter but the tomato jam was too spicy for me; and the mac and cheese with greens.  This was actually a main course but we decided to split it as an appetizer.  Delicious!  So far the meal was off to a fabulous start!

Jen and I decided to split two main courses: Bunny Chow which was a lamb sandwich with an egg, ricotta, oniony relish and tomatoey jam on a sesame bun and smoked salmon with meyer lemon aioli, mustard brussel sprouts, carrots, squash and parsnip.  I originally was planning to eat the lamb and Jen the salmon but we switched pretty quickly.

Smoked Salmon with Lemon Aioli

Smoked Salmon with Lemon Aioli

Both were delicious!

Bunny Chow-no bunnies actually harmed!

Bunny Chow-no bunnies actually harmed!

Russell ate a coconut curry with peas, rice, lentils and pomegranate seeds.  This then got Jen and I started back on a discussion that we started several months ago and we asked the waiter, Aaron.  In his honor I post the following survey:

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Harold then came over to our table to tell us that we made a good decision by sitting upstairs as the band was playing up in the bar.  He said the name of the band.  Here’s what we heard:

Rachel-Brown Rice Band

Jen-Ron Wise Band

Russell-My wife’s band

I was very happy to be right!

Desserts were amazing!  We ordered three and split them: Rooster Mud Pie with mocha ice cream and caramelized bananas, sweet potato doughnuts with rummy whipped cream, and chocolate peppermint truffles.  Russell got a pot of lingonberry tea, Jen got a dark chocolate with cardamom, urfa pepper, cinnamon and orange zest.  I got a white chocolate with coconut milk, lemon grass and basil.  All was excellent!

Rooster Mud Pie

Rooster Mud Pie with mocha ice cream and caramelized bananas

Sweet Potato Doughnuts

Sweet Potato Doughnuts

Chocolate Peppermint Truffle

Chocolate Peppermint Truffle

Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate

White Chocolate

White Chocolate

Jen and Russell with Aaron, our server

Jen and Russell with Aaron, our server

This was a fabulous restaurant and we will definitely be going back to Ginny’s Supper Club downstairs as well as the restaurant itself.

Blueberry Muffins and Snowstorms

So Friday night was a blizzard here on the East Coast.  Thankfully we didn’t get hit too badly.  We got probably about a foot of snow-nothing compared with Connecticut and other places further east and north that got upwards of two and three feet.  But it was nice to watch the snow come down and although I didn’t get any shots of the snow (maybe next time) I did get some shots today when I went out to pick up our winter CSA share.

To the left is the stairs going down into the basement of our brownstone and below is a picture of a pretty cool icicle that was hanging from the second floor of our building.
So, winter CSA.  I have always wanted to be part of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) but for a variety of reasons, haven’t gotten around to actually joining one.  Part of the reason is that many of them require volunteer time and during the summer, that is impossible for me to commit to.  So when I found out about the Winter Sun Farms Share, I figured this was the perfect way to start.  Once a month between November and March or April we get a bag of stuff that was flash frozen.  We’ve gotten lots of corn, butternut squash puree, soybeans, peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, collard greens and jars of tomato sauce.  We’ve also gotten tons of blueberries.
I decided I was going to take advantage of these amazingly delicious looking blueberries and make a batch of blueberry something.  My first thought was blueberry peach scones but in the end I decided to make blueberry muffins.  I immediately hopped onto my recipe app, Paprika (which is awesome and someday I will write a post all about it), and found a recipe by Alton Brown on the Food Network.

So I may not be the best at photography yet but I hope to improve as the posts go on!   I no longer have a sifter, somehow it broke so I used a fork to mix together the dry ingredients.

I think the secret weapon to keep these muffins super moist is yogurt.  I’m a big fan of Greek Yogurt so I used Fage full fat yogurt and it worked out great.

I love all my mixing bowls!  I have two sets of mixing bowls right now, the top set, porcelain, from Crate and Barrel-A Hanukkah gift from my aunt and uncle a few years ago and this set, with the blue bowl, is a set from Target when I moved to New York and they are plastic melamine.  I love that they are all different colors and I have a multitude of sizes with which to work.

Muffins before going into the oven.  I didn’t have any regular size muffin tins nor did I have any muffin liners so I used mini muffin tins and sprayed vegetable oil spray into them.

They are delicious!  I made 48 mini muffins and about half of them are already gone-my downstairs neighbor came and grabbed several, my roommate and best friend had some for dinner and of course I had a few.
I also tried to make corn bread which did not turn out so well but I did make honey butter to go with it and we ate it with the muffins and that was delicious!
Recipe:
Blueberry Muffins (www.foodnetwork.com)
Ingredients:
12 1/2 ounces cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
Heavy pinch salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used corn)
1 egg
1 cup yogurt (I used Fage full fat)
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
Vegetable spray, for the muffin tins (I used Trader Joe’s pam stuff)
Directions:
 
Preheat oven to 380 degrees F.
In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
In another large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, egg and yogurt.  Add the dry ingredients, reserving 1 tablespoon of the dry ingredients and toss with the blueberries.  Stir mixture for a count of 10.  Add 1 cup blueberries to mixture and stir 3 more times.  Reserve the 1/2 cup of blueberries.
Using a #20 ice cream scoop (I used a 1/4 cup measurer), add the mixture to greased muffin pans.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of berries on top of muffins and press down lightly.  Place into the oven and increase the temperature to 400 degrees.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Remove from oven and turn out, upside down on tea towel to cool completely.  Serve immediately or store in airtight container for 2 to 3 days.
My one note would be that it needs to be closer to the 20 minutes rather than the 25 minutes.  My muffins were a bit darker brown than I would have liked but they are still delicious and moist!!  Overall, it was a great recipe and one that I will make again, especially since I have four more bags of blueberries in my freezer.

A Change of Pace

When I first created the movie blog on this same site, I knew I wanted to get more and more active in blogging life.  I’ve always loved writing, I was the editor of my high school newspaper and have always journaled.  Unfortunately I have had less time in my life for the things I enjoy.  This year, 2013, I’ve decided to try and take a little more control with this.  While I do have a full-time job, as a Day Camp Director, I miss the passion that I have with creating things.  Therefore, I am going to try and spend more time blogging and exploring other creative endeavors.  This is an experiment for me.  I hope that I can commit to blog at least once a week about a variety of topics: restaurants, cooking, creating, decorating, all the good elements of a lifestyle blog!

Here’s to a new start!