Archive for October, 2010
Howdy football fans! My deepest apologies for missing last weeks post. Words cannot express my sorrow, but I know you’ll forgive me. To make up for the absence, this week I’m posting my favorite Renzo Original of all time! I was going to save this one for the Super Bowl post because it’s so damn good, but here you go: Renzo’s Jumbo Skrimp Skewers!
This recipe came as a result of having a pound of jumbo shrimp, a grill, and a desire for spicy deliciousness. There may be an ingredient or two that might refine this recipe or add a little something, but all of the ingredients were what I had on hand at the time. The only reason I don’t make this every single week is because of how unfortunately expensive jumbo shrimp are. Sometimes I can find a bag of frozen jumbo shrimp for a few dollars less per pound,
and when I see these things I pounce and stock up the freezer. Don’t try to substitute normal size shrimp for the Jumbos, they would be very dry and over-done by the time they get any grill marks and smoky flavor.
1 lb of Jumbo shrimp, the biggest you can find (peeled and deveined)
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (damn Rachel Ray for tainting the acrnoym EVOO!)
3 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1.5 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp papeika
1 tsp red curry powder
5 cloves of minced garlic
2 serrano peppers, minced
1 large handful of chopper cilantro
Combine all ingredients in a Tupperware or ziplock bag and mix well before adding the skrimps, then let that marinate for 30 minutes or so. Do NOT let this sit longer than an hour. All that citric acid will essentially turn this into a ceviche and so the shrimp will be “cooked” before they even hit the grill. Take them out of the marinade and skewer them (if they’re really big skrimps you might not even need the skewers). Throw them all on a very hot grill (bright glowing coals or propane turned to high) and cook them for about 1.5 to 2 minutes per side. This is a delicate balance; you want a grill hot enough that you’ll get nice char marks with only about 100 seconds per side of the shrimp. They’re done when they’re opaque all the way to the center, which should match up with the cooking time above. Serve with whatever you like for a real dish, or just put the platter out in front of everyone watching the game for an appetizer.
VIKINGS PREVIEW SECTION:
I think our problems boil down to one main point: The O-line. It is horrid. Bryant McKinney is the most over paid (and overweight) player in the league, we can’t find a player to hold down the Center position for consecutive games, Loadholt might be good in a few years but he’s struggling right now, and Hutchinson is by far our best lineman but is past his prime. I know I’ve said recently that Favre is having problems with his arm, and I still think he is, but if we had a decent O-line we would at least be able to run the ball effectively when Favre is struggling to keep his head above water. As it is, there are practically no holes for AP to run through, Favre is getting destroyed after every single passing attempt, and Randy Moss will never be a downfield threat because the QB has to remain standing longer then 4 seconds in order to chuck it deep!
The Packers are having huge injury problems, but their biggest strength remains they’re passing game and I think Aaron Rodgers is going to throw it at Lito Shepperd all game long. This week boils down to the simple fact that I don’t have confidence in our offense to put up more than 250 yards (only 190 last week!!!), and I think it’s going to take more like 400 to put this one away. Final Score: Packers 30, Vikings 17.
Arthur’s Two Cents:
The jumbo shrimp sounds awesome. Citrus and some heat? I don’t see how you can go wrong.
The game: I’ve been saying the offensive line is the main problem since our first game versus the Saints. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to have been any improvement in the last 6 weeks. And with Greenbay leading the NFL in sacks I don’t see good things coming this week. Farve needs a few seconds to let Moss get down field, let alone to be able to throw to him. It seems that in each of the last two game Farve was able pull him self together and pound out about 5 consecutive minutes of solid play, regardless of the O-line folding like superman on laundry day. If he can do that twice this game, well we have a shot.
Given the GB injuries I foresee a lower scoring game: Vikings 9, Packers 12. While this is going to be a painful match-up to watch, at least I have the Packs defense in fantasy to dull the pain.
The words, ‘Japanese food’ probably conjure up the thought of sushi. But at Village Yokocho, in Astor Place, a vast assortment of Japanese food is served with only minimal attention to sushi. The restaurant is in the izakaya (Japanese pub) style, with lots of small dishes—think Japanese tapas—that go fantastically well with beer. The tables are tightly packed in two windowless rooms where it feels like dusk no matter what hour. Though loud at times, the space manages to avoid feeling claustrophobic.
The sheer number of menu options can be a little overwhelming at first and pre-dining research is hampered by Village Yokocho’s Ted Kazinsky approach to technology—the restaurant does not have a website or online menu. But, there is a huge amount of great food to choose from, so spend a little time in the beginning getting familiar with the large, various menu.
Having eaten at Village Yokocho more times than any other restaurant in New York City, I have developed a little list of go-to menu items. At the top of the list, octopus balls (takoyaki) are a must. From their roots in Osaka, the bready balls are about the size of a doughnut hole, consisting of soft dough encasing a couple pieces of octopus, then fried and dusted with bonito flakes. Served hot, the bonito flakes on top of the balls move and wave in the steam, making the dish not only an amazing savory concoction, but visually interesting as well. While this dish might sound overly adventurous to some, I can safely say it’s tame enough to satisfy the conservative Midwestern eaters that I’ve tried them on.
The wasabi pork dumplings are another simple treat. Though be warned, the wasabi dominates the dumplings and packs a punch that might be too much for the faint of heart. Finally, the chicken, beef, and quail egg skewers bring a great grilled flavor that meshes well with any dish on the menu.
Even more than new flavors, Village Yokocho offers a chance to try new textures in food. With cheap prices for almost everything on the menu, each trip offers an opportunity to be adventurous. I highly recommend bringing a large party of adventurous eaters to maximize the variety of dishes to try.
Not all dishes are simple to enjoy; some may be reserved for more rarefied tastes. For starters, take the tuna sashimi and yam paste. Though the tuna is along the lines of what you would find in a regular sushi meal, the yam paste has a sticky, slimy texture unlike anything I’ve ever eaten. It was worth a try, though I’ll not likely order it again.
On my last visit I tried a spicy bean paste pork and tofu stew. While not scorching enough to be inedible, it still had a strong spicy flavor. Moreover, the fresh flavors of the vegetables were able to shine through the heat. Also, the dish was a variety of textures, including crisp mushrooms, soft potatoes, and fresh, snapping veggies.
The Village Yokocho has one other hidden surprise: through a discreet door in the main dining room is the speakeasy bar Angel’s Share, where highly skilled mixologists prepare drinks from a seasonal menu or improvise based on the customer’s preferences. Though the drinks are pricey, they are high quality and worth the ambiance of a secret nightcap spot.
Whether for dining or drinks, the Village Yokocho deserves not just a trip, but repeated visits in any New Yorker’s dining rotation.
8 Stuyvesant St.
New York, NY 10003
This week’s football food is an adaptation of a recipe from one of my favorite food blogs (besides this one), The Food in my Beard. There have been some really cool recipes over there, some of them far more ambitious than I am prepared for. He also seems to have a knack for coming up with dips, which are of course perfect football food. At one point I stumbled on his BLT Dip and it looked amazing so I gave it a whirl (check out the link, the pictures are what really inspired me to try it). Overall it was pretty good, with some awesome flavor combinations. There was only one problem: the mayo. I don’t know about you readers out there, but I am NOT a mayo fan. It’s one of those condiments I barely tolerate, sort of like sauerkraut or Dijon mustard. A little bit will usually help your cause, but a there is a very fine line between a little and way too damn much. And once you cross that line, you’re screwed. There is no going back so you might as well just throw whatever you were making in the trash, go brush your teeth and start over again.
In this case, it was not immediately obvious that this was a problem. I made a big batch of the dip for a game and everyone dug in. But after a few minutes all I could think of was the mayo flavor and mayo texture and it was just wrong. I ended up throwing a big tub of the dip out because there was just no way I was going to eat any more. This is certainly not a shot at the culinary skills of the recipe’s creator, just a personal taste thing. Anyways, I modified the recipe slightly to avoid a repeat of the over-mayo trauma I experienced. The recipe’s name? PTSDBLT Dip. It strays even farther away from religious adherence to the ingredients of a BLT, but its damn tasty in its own right.
For the base of the dip, skin and pit two ripe avocados and drop them into a blender along with 1/3 cup of sour cream and 1/3 cup of mayo and the juice of half a lemon. Blend that until smooth and add to your serving dish. Add to that a carton of cherry tomatoes which you quartered, about 1 Tbsp of minced shallot, and half a pound of torn arugula leaves. I love arugula; it’s so peppery and unique for a green leafy vegetable. And this is a great recipe for it because you need something that will have a flavor capable of standing up to the creamy avocado/mayo/sourcream mixture.
The last thing to add is by far the most important: BACON. If I were you, I’d try to find something nice and thick cut. No Name makes pretty good bacon, and if all else fails most any butcher should have some top notch stuff. Cook up about ¾ of a pound of it, and just like for the Jalapeno Poppers, you want to cook it to fairly well done so that almost all of the fat is rendered out. Crumble that up and add it the bowl, then fold everything together. Finally, give it a taste and then add salt and pepper to your liking. By the way, this one definitely goes with sliced bread. It’s just too chunky and thick to pair well with chips, and with all that bacon the dip is plenty salty without adding potato or corn chips.
VIKINGS PREVIEW SECTION
HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!!!
We got Randy. What the hell is going on here? Imagine that you’re back in 2004 and someone says to you “Don’t worry about trading him to Oakland. He’ll be back in 6 years and, oh yeah, Brett Favre will be tossing him passes.” WHAT?! Your head might have exploded then and there. Allow me to use this opportunity to publicly declare my love for Zygi Wilf. This man is a god send and 90% of NFL fans wish they had an owner like him. My only concern here is that the ownership is going to shell out for player after player to try to win now, and then we falter in the playoffs and the stadium bill goes down in the legislature. That’s when I see good ol’ Zygi throwing his hands up and deciding to cut his losses.
As for this week, I’m afraid I don’t see good things; and that’s only partly because I refuse to be the homer who picks the Vikings every single game. I think jumping to a new team, combined with facing Darrelle Revis is going to mostly shut down #84. There are three other main things going for Jets next Monday: 1) The Brett Favre incarnation of the Vikings has been absolutely terrible on national television, with the sole exception being the annihilation of the Cowboys in last year’s playoffs. 2) I think coaching does matter in the NFL and if I had to rank these two coaches I would say Ryan is top-five in the NFL and Chilly is bottom-five. That’s not a good matchup. 3) The Jets are a bunch of blitz-happy motherfuckers. They are going to put a hurt on old man Favre, and send extra defenders from all over the field.
Final score: Jets 20, Vikings 17.
Arthur’s Two Cents: Having Moss back in MN is going to be a game changer. And for third round draft pick?!?! Until the offensive line learns how to give Farve more than a blink of time in the pocket here is how see things. Moss won’t be used for his very deep threat potential, but for more modest passes. Farve will be able to trust him and have just enough time to find him quickly. With AP on the field and Farve’s ability to find the some other recivers he won’t be triple covered like he was in his last year with the Vikes!
On the game versus the Jets, I don’t know if we can pull it off, but I think that we have a real chance. Revis got hurt covering Moss, maybe that will get in his head a little. I see the Vikes at 21 and the the Jets at… well we’ll see what our defense can do.
On the food: this sounds like a great dip. Meg is planning on making up some bread this weekend. But, since this is a Monday game that I’ll actually be able to watch at home, I was thinking of breaking out the old deep fry and getting some homemade wings going. Though this might be great for Thursday poker night.
My other thought is that that the high mayo version might work great not as a dip, but to use instead of boring plain mayo on burgers for grilling time.
The following is adapted from a restaurant review first publish in the Cardozo Jurist.
Let me start by saying that I don’t like writing negative reviews. They seem kind of boring. I would much rather write article about places that are great to eat at. But these were some new places I had high hopes for and well I felt the need to talk about them falling shorty.
Over the last summer two new restaurants have sprung up near Cardozo, my fine law school, on the corner of University and 13th Street: Vapiano, a stylish pizza and pasta bar and its next door neighbor Nanoosh, a sleek Mediterranean hummus bar. After eating at each a few times, my mind settled on a number of words that describe the food at each restaurant: adequate, all right, fine, and OK. My issue is that both restaurants are chains that put fashion above substance and quality.
Vapiano occupies a large space and sports a modern design and lounge-like feel. It has a novel payment system where you are given a card when you walk in. You swipe the card when you get food at cafeteria-style stations, and the card records your purchases. Upon leaving, you give your card back to the hostess or cashier at the door, and you’re given the total bill to pay.
Ordering my first pizza at Vapiano, I had high hopes. The pizzaiolo (Italian for the guy that cooks the pizza) makes the pizza in front of you and puts it in the oven. The pizza even looked great once it was on my plate. But the problem was in the crust; it just didn’t have the crispy, almost burnt crust an Italian style pizza should have. It made a fine flatbread, but an uninspired pizza. The other pizzas I tried during that visit and subsequent visits shared the same crust failures.
After trying the pizza, I turned my attention to the pasta bar. I ordered the Pesto e Spinaci pasta. Given the name, I was expecting a fresh pesto dish with spinach. What I got, however, was an overly creamy, heavy dish that had a hint of pesto. Not a bad dish, but not up to the potential of the fresh ingredients the server at the pasta bar had at his disposal.
Nanoosh is a smaller space that has a chic atmosphere and décor that reminds me of a spa. The menu is, not surprisingly, heavy on the hummus but also has Mediterranean influenced salads and wraps. The hummus comes in either plain or tahini (sesame seed paste) and can be ordered with a few toppings. The hummus’ flavor was par for the course, but the texture was too smooth—overly creamy. The Lebane wrap was a solid combination of Mediterranean salad with a bit of cheese.
In all, I may have gone into both restaurants with excessive expectations. Both offer fine food at a decent value. I won’t avoid going back to these places, but I won’t go out of my way to return to them, either.
113 University Place (at 13th Street)
New York, NY, 10003
111 University Place (between 12th & 13th Streets)
New York, NY 10003
Lest I get a reputation on this site as someone who only cooks jazzed up bar food on game days, I thought this recipe would be a nice change of pace. This meal came about, like some of my best creations, on a complete whim. I was walking through the grocery store with a very specific shopping list, and ignoring it entirely as I bought whatever looked good. I got to the seafood counter and saw Wild Coho salmon for $11/lb. Normally I would think this was far too much to spend on part of a meal except for special occasions, but I had just been looking at the Alaskan Copper River salmon for $22/lb so at the time this seemed quite the bargain.
When it comes to salmon, I have never found a marinade that I particularly liked so my standard choice is to put a bit of a spice crust on it. In this case I put drizzled some olive oil over both sides of each filet (I bought a 1 lb section of fish and halved it), then sprinkled the flesh side with fresh cracked black pepper, kosher salt and Penzey’s Northwood seasoning. If you don’t currently own this spice, go buy it right now. Not only is it delicious, but it goes with anything from poultry to beef to potatoes or green beans. I would say it’s tied with Cavender’s Greek seasoning as my favorite spice mix, and that’s saying something. If you absolutely refuse to go buy it, you can approximate the same effect by mixing dried thyme, and rosemary with paprika, salt, pepper, ground chipotle powder and garlic powder. Put the spices on relatively thick if you like a nice spice crust the same as I do.
Preheat the oven to 400, and preheat a pan over medium heat with a small amount of vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the salmon, flesh side down, and leave it untouched for about 2 minutes until that side looks browned, then flip the skin side down. If you have a pan that you can put in the oven, throw it in right now. Otherwise, cook the fish for another 2 minutes before transferring it into the oven. The cooking time is going to depend on how thick or thin your fillets are and that does vary widely depending on what part of the side of salmon you were sold. It should be done in 10-20 minutes, so check frequently in that window. You’re looking for the flesh to be firm and opaque, and it should also flake cleanly with a fork. If you have an instant read meat thermometer, so much the better. In that case it’s done when it reaches 125 degrees in the thickest part of the fish.
Now don’t get me wrong, this will be delicious all by itself. But why not take it one step farther? That step is a garlic-dill compound butter. Compound butters are an easy way to add another layer of flavor to cuts of meat and fish. Obviously butter is adding calories to the dish, but you also don’t need very much since it will be a concentrated flavor. I’d say it about equals out with other things you might add to a dish like a pan sauce. Take 4 ounces of room temperature butter, or spreadable butter, and add it to a bowl with
- 1 small clove of garlic, minced
- a pinch of red pepper flakes
- 3 cloves of roasted garlic, minced and pasted
- 1/3 tsp of minced dill fronds
- salt and pepper to taste.
For the roasted garlic: throw the cloves, skin on, in a pan over medium heat. When the skin starts to get black and spotty on one side, flip them around. Take them out after all sides are done, then mince and paste the garlic before adding to the butter. Let the butter firm up in the fridge for 15 minutes or so. When the fish is hot out of the oven, scrape out some butter (however much you like) and let it melt over the fish. Then squeeze a bit of lemon or lime juice over the top and it’s ready to serve, in this case paired with a ceasar salad, topped with shredded pecorino-romano cheese – thanks for the suggestion Arty!