Thursday, September 14, 2006

Public Service Announcement

Your regularly scheduled program will return after this public service announcement (and as soon as your's truly finds a decent lunch).

Don't eat the Bowties ala Vodka from Guy and Gallard on Seventh Ave. and 29th St., unless you like your pasta bland, oily and boring.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

An important sidenote...

It would be distasteful to let this day pass by without paying tribute to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. It was a year ago today that I, like many people, sat glued to the TV in disbelief of what was happening in that region. I still think about those images, and can not even begin to imagine what it must be like for all those still living with this tragedy.

I know this is a blog about food, and these discussions are obviously indulgent and go beyond what is necessary for sustenance. As it is in post-Katrina New Orleans, and as it is in so much of the world, that's the only concern related to food, sustenance. Therefore, it makes me a little uneasy to be callously discussing fine food and gourmet products, without making a reference to creative ways to use these interests to help those less fortunate.

One organization supporting Katrina recovery efforts is, which is a website listing restaurants offering to donate a percentage of their proceeds on August 29th (and I hope on other days), to Katrina-related charities. I realize it is a little late to take advantage of this during lunchtime, but there is still time to go out for dinner at one of these restaurants. Or, alternatively, please look for a charity of your choice, and donate to help these communities.

Open call: Creative sandwich combinations

What's for Lunch is looking for a few good sandwich ideas or recipes, amateurs are welcome, as long as you are a team player and eager to please ( and not just a sandwich idea that only works for your own taste, ie: jalepenos and peanut butter types...). We are an equal opportunity employer (ahem, blogger) and welcome submissions from all different ethnic cuisines. Please be portable and able to work the lunch shift.

We thought we'd start the thread and post an exemplary example of what we had in mind:

Doug's Sprouted Double-decker Turkey Club
Fresh Rye bread
Beefsteak tomato slices
American cheese
Fresh roasted turkey
Avocado slices
Crispy bacon
Alfafa sprouts

Gather all ingredients and begin layering: Bread, mayo, sprouts, tomato, bacon, avocado, mayo, bread, mayo, turkey, cheese, tomato, mayo, bread.

NB: the amount of mayo is really a personal preference / calorie-counting thing. Or, for those who aren't partial to mayonnaise, it would be just as good with mustard, or my favorite, Russian dressing.

Happy eating.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Finding Frijoles continued...

Ok, mis amigos, here is the recipe I promised. Without further adieu I give you Michelle:

Frijoles a la Michelle
2 cans black beans (or red beans)
1 medium yellow onion
2 tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1-2 Tablespoons Olive oil
1 packet Sazon from Goya (look in Goya section)
Adobo (look in Goya section, or sometimes find it with the spices)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Hot sauce or cayenne pepper

Chop onions, garlic and tomatoes finely. About a two to one ratio of tomatoes to onions.
Sautee onions in olive oil, add garlic, and then tomatoes. Sautee on medium heat for a few minutes until ingredients have kind of mushed together. I like to add a dash of salt after each ingredient cause its supposed to bring out the flavor.
Add pepper and Adobo to taste. Mix in about 3/4 of the packet of Sazon.
Add Hot sauce or cayenne to taste, until you are happy with the flavor.
Add beans. I prefer to drain most of the liquid out before I add beans but it depends on how soupy you like your beans. Cover and simmer for another 20-30mins stirring occasionally.

Serve with rice (and sweet plantains, if you're Jen) and enjoy.
Bien Provecho!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Finding Frijoles

SO, I have always had a love hate relationship with meat. I love to eat, and I hate vegetarian meat substitutes even more than the idea of slaughtering an animal, hence the need to eat meat. I have tried to be a vegetarian during different times of my life, but always to the dismay of my increasing waistline...bread and pasta do not a meat substitute make. However, with each year that goes by, I find I am learning to like more and more vegetables (properly seasoned, pleeease), and even alternative sources of protein. Still, I'm not quite at the tempeh cutlet stage. Today's lunch led me to be brave enough to give the good old bean another chance. Perhaps, it was the unappealing heap of diced up, and very over-cooked looking chicken at Chipotle, or perhaps that guy at the table eating his vegetarian burrito and thoroughly enjoying it, while I waited 10 minutes for mine...but either way I did (proudly) order the vegetarian burrito. It left the same, I'm a better citizen than you are, feeling that storing up things to recycle does for me. And, I'm pleased to report, that the black bean burrito was quite tasty, and that I now (cautiously) add beans to my list of foods I eat. Yea!!

The real reason I'm so excited, besides having an alternative to meat when eating at dubious Mexican joints around the city, is that the smell of black beans cooking on the stove, is a dish that can make a house smell like a home. As, I learned from my friend Michelle. It's cheap, it's relatively easy to prepare, and it's a satisfying meal for a weeknight. I especially recommend beans prepared with Sofrito, which although I could attempt to give you the gringa explanation, I think I will refer to one of my favorite latin chefs:

To help those reading this share my enthusiasm, I will be posting my friend Michelle's frijoles recipe (Colombian style), which I will be making in about a week (enough time to let my stomach settle down).

Frijoles Negros
Tune in tomorrow...

Hasta Luego.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Pumpkin in August?

Call me old fashioned, but normally I prefer to eat pumkin in the fall around Thanksgiving time, and maybe throughout the winter. So, when I saw these cookies, I thought, nah, it's the middle of August. I'd much prefer fruit flavored items, like peaches and melon. Then, I had a flash-back from last winter of a batch of pumpkin cookies I had baked. They weren't bad, but they were missing something...

That something was ginger!!! The geniuses over at Immaculate Baking Co. down in North Carolina, home of all things wholesome and craftsy, have solved the problem with their delicious little buttery, slightly spicy, pumpkin ginger flavored cookies. I would die to have this recipe (hint, hint to those down in North Carolina). An added bonus is that ginger is actually good for your stomach, pumpkin is rich in iron, and cookies just make people happy, so this definitely fits into my definition of health food.

An added feel-good bonus, they have a worthwhile cause behind their bakery company, supporting American folk art and the artists that create it. And, yes, I did eat these for lunch...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A Hunter and A Gatherer I will be.

At first I assumed it was the ambiance - there was a jazz band playing onstage at the Fort Greene Farmer's Market early Saturday, endless goodies to sample, cute dogs to pet (I especially love this since I don't have one of my own, yet) and children twirling in their pastel colored cotton. So when I stopped off at this particular booth to purchase my one "indulgence" for the day I was already high on good living and chalked the great taste of my two jumbo oatmeal raisin cookies up accordingly, but now I have a sneaking suspicion it was more than that.

I ask you, would those cookies have been as good if I had called out from my apartment and they had been delivered in under thirty minutes by a youngish Mexican boy with an awkward mustache? Well, maybe if there was a "24" marathon on the tele to go with it and my soy milk was properly chilled (damn that fridge!). But under most circumstances the only honest answer would be "No".

It's the same reason why Illana and I have been known to spend lavish amounts of cash at Whole Foods week after week, when, heaven knows, we only went in for a small tub of hummus and a corn chip or two. There is something about being able to walk amongst your food choices, enveloped by the colors, the shapes, and the sizes, before making a buying decision. It's a kind of dance of "will I, or won't I" that we too often miss when we rely on Eduardo to "pop it over".

Our "lovely" location of 30th and 6th is bursting at the seams with many things, but one thing that it lacks is enough of this sort of experience. The ability to walk amongst our food, - real, good food, and take in that full sensory rush.

Thanks to Whole Foods, three different farmer's markets, and the Park Slope Food Coop, my food bill is outrageous. But nevermind that. I'll keep the tips for myself. A hunter and a gatherer, for lunch and beyond, I will continue to be.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Samosa Madness!

If you have a passion for samosa's or you are just curious to try one, you must make a stop at Minar Indian Restaurant at 5 West 31st Street btw 5th Ave and Broadway. I believe they even have a sign up that says "voted best samosa in NY" by some entity. Well I am wee bit samosa savvy, but I can tell you this, these babies are truly delicious! The outer shell is crisp, but not too crispy, and not oily at all. The inner filling is a heavenly mix of potatoes, peas and spices, seasoned just right! And the best part, you get to dip them in the spicy sweet tamarind sauce that comes with it.


Lunch precursor - aka breakfast

Ok, so I realize it's not technically lunch, but it is a very important meal, and for me at least, also eaten while at work, so I think it deserves to be included.

This post is dedicated to the glorious croissant. A breakfast food that should be heralded aloud and eaten by all, even in all it's indulgent buttery glory. Mmmm, mmmm.

I love croissants, but not just any croissant. The buttery, flaky goodness that can only be found in a bakery-baked croissant. Please, please spare me that imposter masquerading as a croissant they sell in most chain stores, bagel stores (they're only for bagels) and coffee carts. You know the ones, they are double the size of a true croissant, and about as flaky and light and crisp as a day old piece of pound cake. In fact that's pretty much the texture of them. If you have ever ordered one (what a terrible way to start the day) because you are craving a croissant, and think to yourself, well at least it'll satisfy the urge, you know how disappointing they can be. They sit in your stomach like a ball of silly puddy. Yuck.

But, this posting is really to help you avoid that unpleasant experience and train your eye to recognize the real thing. See Example 1 above. It must be flaky. The exterior must appear crisp, almost like a potato chip. Size is often a dead give-away, at least in NYC. A real croissant should be about the length of your hand from finger-tips to wrist in a curved shape. It should also not be much wider.

Lastly, I'd like to give a kudos to the Korean bakery on 31st Street, Koryodang Inc, for having real deal croissants. You are my haven in a neighborhood devoid of fresh baked goods. Merci.
- Jennyfer
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