12/19/2009

Beef Slice with Sweet Fruit and Potato

This recipe spawned by accident due to lack of sleep, existing ingredients in my kitchen, and time constraint...surprisingly this restrictive combination makes for an exceptionally moist and delicious beef slice (serves 5):
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1.5 lbs lean ground beef
2 potatoes-pealed, boiled, and riced (or smashed with a fork)
2 eggs
3/4 cup onion-small dice
3/4 cup tomato-small dice
3/4 cup dried black currants (feel free to use dried apricots-chopped small, raisins, or dried cranberries)
3/4 cup Granny Smith apple-small dice
1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
2 T salt
1.5 T pepper
chili powder-to taste
1/4 lb Havarti cheese (feel free to use substitute-feta, parm, or cheddar)
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1. With the exception of cheese, combine all ingredients and mix well.
2. Season well.
3. Make a test batch (by cooking a tiny patty in a pan to make sure the beef is seasoned properly). Taste and adjust if needed.
4. Shape the beef into two logs and make an indentation, lengthwise. Place cheese into the indentation and enclose it, reshaping the logs (ending up with the cheese in the middle of the log).
5. Place logs into a baking sheet and bake at 375F for ~35-45 minutes, or until meat is cooked through.
OPTIONAL: Serve over watercress or frisee salad; make half of the mixture into hamburgers and top with cheese.

12/17/2009

Review: Is It Possible to Eat at Grimaldi's In 40 Minutes (Wait Time Included)?

After fighting through downtown Brooklyn traffic, you may have had the unfortunate conquest of finding a line the length of your small intestine, outside of Grimaldi's Pizzeria. As you hang your head and gaze up at the massive Brooklyn Bridge (while salivating for one of the best pizzas in the city), you tell yourself that next time you'll be the first in line, at 11:30am, when they open! The rash pizza breakfast, however, is not necessary.

On a recent, bitterly Siberian weekday night I decided to venture out to the ends of Brooklyn, in hopes of finding no ridiculous line for my [detrimentally too often] pizza craving. Upon arrival, which was accompanied by a suspiciously easily attained, super close parking space, I breathed a sigh of relief to find myself waived in by a friendly server. "Please sit anywhere in the middle section," he suggested, as I found myself in awe of the 4...no, 5 empty tables, in the classically packed eatery.

Having never been able to eat inside this raved about pizza haven (due to the afore mentioned setbacks), I had a good feeling about the simplicity of the restaurant. Red, checkered table cloths lined ~30 or so tables with simple wooden chairs; photos of Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, and Marlon Brando plastered on every inch of wall space; and an exposed kitchen, spilling with eager, brunette, male servers, ready to make your pizza dreams come true. The simple menu featured: antipasto, calzone, red or white pizza (small/large), toppings, desserts, and beverages. Due to its popularity, Grimaldi's can demand almost any price they deem appropriate for their famous pies-making your outing (comparatively) a semi-high-end, doughy event.

After perusing the menu and various neighboring tables' choices (of red wine, beer, olives, and salad), I went straight for the goods: a large with ham and mushrooms. The monstrosity, which was brought out in approximately 5 minutes, deliciously loomed over my table (on a pizza stand) with imposingly sweet aromas. The famous, coal fired brick oven truly makes this pie-o-heaven. The bubbly, fresh, white mozzarella, puffed up on the edges, ready to burst with flavor. The sauce, composed of lightly and flawlessly seasoned fresh, aromatic tomatoes, is a perfectly sweet balance with the few pieces of fresh baked basil (for which you should set yourself back a buck and order an extra topping of). The toppings, simple and fresh...and last but most important...the crust. Although (per tradition), made with white flour (I prefer whole wheat), this savory dough is the opposite of bland. The seasoning has [I'm sure] been perfected to a science and is impeccably appropriate. At times you might find yourself with black fingers (that is to say that you eat your pizza with fingers and not the provided utensils, which you may or may not quickly abandon after the initial few bites) from the coal burning oven, which ads an incredible sweet-smokey flavor to the dish.

As I savored each bite, the description that remained prominent was freshness. The consumption of fresh aromas, simultaneously with taste makes for an amazingly delicious meal. The flavors of this outing quickly revived my memories of Italy's plethora of culinary flair. The many tiny local cafes, with hand made mozzarella, fresh herbs, and just baked doughs...oh yeah, and where's the leather bag I bought in the middle of that piazza...? All this is not to proclaim Grimaldi's as the one and only, yet to simply to acknowledge the combination of skill and value of fresh ingredients-which breed an extraordinary following and hard-to-resist pizza!

As I dished out the $25 (cash only) for the feast, I was amazed at the timing. While only arriving ~40 minutes earlier, I was waiving goodbye [and freezing once more] by 10:45pm! Unforeseen conclusion: if you are a local, craving a delicious, pizza, at approximately 10:00pm, on a weekday evening, in the middle of winter...YES! A ~40 minute freshness pie awaits you at Grimaldi's!
Grimaldi's-19 Old Fulton Street-Brooklyn, NY

12/14/2009

12/09/2009

Review: Sedap Taste Good Malaysian Cuisine...The Name Is Not Deceiving!

Ahh, Elmhurst Queens, you never fail as haven for a myriad of internationally infused cultural adventures. Just east of the city and north of the other international capital [Brooklyn], Elmhurst houses a multitude of immigrants who've turned each section of the area into a 'home' of their own. Among the Latin, Polish, and Chinese aggregation, Taste Good restaurant has found a home on 45th Avenue.

Be sure to keep your eyes peeled as you navigate to the tiny sit-down restaurant, as the next door food market almost engulfs the lilliputian sign and entrance. As we entered the curry haven, the aromas from the semi-exposed kitchen on the left overwhelmed our senses and the salivating began on impact. The 90% populous of Asian customers didn't bother looking up from their steaming bowls, chopsticks in hand. A warm feeling overcome, as we thought: this place may be authentic...

The overly accommodating, non English-speaking staff welcomed us with open arms-literally-waving over to the only open table in the house. Byob and no corkage fee...1-0, Elmhurst-Manhattan. Before we could undress (just our coats...it's not that kind of place!), a hot pot of tea was rushed to our table. Mild, with a hint of rose, served in tiny ethnic tea cups, it was a great aperitif to a culinary feast. An intermission from table conversation was definitely warranted to browse the 8 page menu, filled with an incredible variety of appetizers, soups, curries, noodle and rice dishes, meats, and sides. As we diligently studied our options, the staff was more than willing to help...indirectly. Although our two smiling waitresses and one buss girl were not able to understand us [or reply in English], one considerate patron was beckoned over as a translator.

We ordered roti canal (crispy Indian pancake with curry chicken sauce) to satiate ourselves while deciding. The 5" round was accompanied by a small bowl of flavorful, spicy curry with a few pieces of steamed chicken, happily floating about. The pancake, a perfect combination of a crisp outside with a moist and warm inside, was a great vessel for the savory, flavorful curry. As the [assumed] owner was making small talk with us, we finalized our choices and as a thank you [for finally ordering] she brought over a plate of achar salad (mixed pickled vegetables, tossed with ground peanut, sesame seed, and tamarind sauces). Our taste buds were blissfully overwhelmed with a combo of sweet, spicy, savory, and crunchy veggies, for which we profusely thanked our gracious host. Malaysian popiah (paper thin steamed pancake, stuffed with vegetables, rice, and egg) followed as our third appetizer of the evening. The rolled crepe-like log, stuffed, and topped with a pleasantly spicy sauce was a great accompaniment to the Saperavi we brought. The delicate dough melted in our mouths as the tangy spice and sweet rice kernels fused.

For the main course, Curry chicken noodles and Hainanese chicken rice. The curry, presented in a deep bowl, united boiled chicken, tender vegetables, and thick noodles in a moderately spicy coconut curry-which could have taken a bit more spice (perhaps they were being careful due to our alien status). Nevertheless, a tasty finish with the last drops of hot tea. The tender, mildly flavored chicken (notably boiled in a flavorful broth) was served atop vegetable rice, with a soy based dipping sauce.

With the slight exception of a spicier curry, the meal was perfectly seasoned and not overly salty. The overall experience-including staff, presentation, and freshness-were all eminently executed...hence an appropriately simple, unforgettable name. It tastes good!
Taste Good Malaysian Cuisine-8218 45th Avenue-Queens, NY