Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Soy Sauce Eggs

Do you ever have those restaurant foods that drive you mad? A single dish that will float in your mind, demanding you return to the establishment to sate a craving? To me, this is the Soy Sauce Egg (otherwise known as Shio Tama) at Ramen Takumi (formerly Setagaya) near Union Square.. These are soft boiled eggs, with a tantalizingly runny center with a solid white, marinated in soy sauce and left floating in the soup. I will return again and again to consume these salty, slurp-worthy treats. The addiction was becoming too much, a month would go by where I didn't have time to travel downtown for Ramen, and I would start to try to find reasons just to be in that neighborhood. After reading Momofuku for 2's posting about Soy Sauce Eggs, it hit me. Why didn't I just make them myself? Imagine, any time I wanted I could indulge in these perfectly salty snacks, without the assistance of the F train. I didn't know what I was getting myself into.

Apparently most "Soy Sauce Eggs" are hard boiled. Hard boiled eggs are a snack that had been around my house as a kid that I was resoundingly against. The white part was always fine, but the chalky, solid yolk I found really gross. If I was going to create this I was going to have to do it in steps.

1. Figure out how to perfectly "soft boil"
2. Figure out how to perfectly peel this somewhat delicate creations
3. Decipher the best Soy Sauce based marinade
4. Create the best method of serving and devouring my new treat

I will not disclose how many eggs I went through teaching myself to soft boil. There were the ones that were in too long, reaching that point of hard boiled with the gross chalky center, and worse, there were the ones not done enough, creating an egg too delicate and runny to work with.  A soft boiled egg, it turns out, can be achieved by carefully submerging your egg in rapidly boiling water for 6 minutes, but to get that perfect, almost gel like yolk that I love in ramen exactly 7 minutes is what you need. Once removed from the water, submerge your eggs in ice water to stop its cooking.

Peeling eggs was another challenge. The first attempt left the egg white torn and divited, not exactly perfect for submerging in a marinade or for creating a pretty snack. I saw videos on the internet where, after removing the top and bottom of the shell, the egg can be easily "blown" out of the remaining shell. Apparently this only works for hard boiled eggs. When you try it with a soft boiled egg, you end up with yolk all over your jeans, your hands and your floor. Trial and error people. Finally I learned to tap it gently on the bottom, where the natural air pocket is, and delicately peel from there. Some people hold that if you put vinegar in the ice water bowl it makes the shell more brittle and easier to peel, but it seemed the same either way to me.

Finally it was time for me to choose my marinade. Many marinades consist of water, sugar, and--of course--soy sauce. Some include green onions and ginger. Most, it seems, involve simmering the eggs directly in the marinade. That last part seemed like a dangerous idea to me. I had creating the perfect consistency of soft boiled egg down to a science. Since most soy sauce recipes use hard boiled eggs, exposing them to some extra heat wasn't a big deal. To my perfectly gooey yolks, it was a very big deal. Momofuku for 2 however, did not put the eggs into a simmering marinade. She made a combination of soy sauce, mirin, and sherry vinegar, and just lets them soak for an hour. I went for a combination of the two ideas. This method is essentially of my own invention, stealing bits of ideas here and there. This is not to be taken as an extremely authentic way to create soy sauce eggs, it's just the recipe that worked for me.

Soy Sauce Egg Marinade

-1/2 cup of water
-3 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce
-1 teaspoon of sugar
-1 green onion, sliced, white and light green part only
-3 Soft Boiled Eggs, peeled

Whisk together water, soy sauce, sugar and green onion in a small saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and allow to cool. Place eggs in a sealable storage bag and pour marinade over top, submerging the eggs. Refrigerate for 1 hour. If the eggs are not completely covered, turn the eggs after half an hour to get even staining. Remove from marinade and either eat immediately or keep refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 2 days.

Finally I had to find the perfect way of serving these delicious, salty, gooey treats. Momofuku for 2 used green onions and fried shallots to top. An Epicurous recipe for soy quail eggs used sesame oil. Again, I went for an amalgamation. Slicing the eggs in half, I arranged them on a plate. Having tried them both cold, straight out of the fridge, and warmed in the microwave for 15 seconds (just enough to warm without further cooking the yolks) I prefer warm, but both are acceptable. I put about a Tablespoon of sesame oil in a small pan over medium heat. When it was hot, I sliced up a shallot and sauteed it in the oil. Once crisp and browned on the edges (about 2-3 minutes) I poured the entire contents of the pan over the eggs. On some eggs, if I felt I needed a bit more of the rich soy sauce, I would put just a drop or two of sauce straight into the gooey yolks, where the drops would expand into veins of flavor. It's really one of those recipes you can play with and add things where desired. I had made a perfect snack, with all of the soft, slurpy, saltiness I had spent so much time obsessing over while eating ramen.

I have made many of these over the last few weeks. Sodium intake might be becoming an issue. I should stop soon. Will might be breathing a sigh of relief, thinking no more eggs all over his kitchen, no more of this food he finds so gross popping up a few times a week. I, however, am not ready to give up eggs anytime soon. I still want to learn how to poach one. Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What a Girl's Gotta Do

Warning: Heather got out of the kitchen and made some cocktails. This means the following blog is written with less cocktail expertise then when Will writes it. Explanations of ice usage and shaking methods might be a little more elementary then usual. Just smile at her and nod.

Will's been a bit busy lately. There's been some late nights at work, we've had some nights out with friends, and as a result his cocktail shaker has been looking a little sad and lonely. This past weekend with Will working and my adored Stef in town, we were short two pre-dinner drinks. I stared at the shaker suspiciously. It's not that I've never made cocktails before, I have. It's just, I was in college. Or at best in the middle of an internship. The "cocktails" I made then tending to involve thinks like soda, various shanaps, and tons of cranberry juice. Then I met Will and we've had an understanding with our grown up existence: I make fantastic food, and I never want for Gimlets and Manhattans. I haven't stooped to mixing a Midori Sour in years. Besides that, Stef and I are totally nerds for the early literary drinkers, and if Dorothy Parker didn't drink it, we're not all that interested. And why mess around, I thought, why not bring out the big guns, the classic cocktail. Two Martini's coming up.

Martini, a cocktail made up of two ingredients and a garnish, is actually more complicated then it sounds. As Will talked about when blogging about our Christmas Cocktail Party, there is the option of vodka or gin, there is the option of shaking or stirring, and there are the garnishes of olive, twist, or even cocktail onions. According the Savoy Cocktail book, our go to for drinks of the 1920's varitey, depending on whether you were making a dry or sweet martini you would pick Italian or French vermouth. As all we had in stock was Martini and Rossi, dry martini's it was.

"We could just have wine," Stef said, as we started yet another episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But by this point I was determined. I was a grown, capable woman, the type who could bake an egg and roll her own pasta. I could make a damn cocktail. Hell, I could make a damn cocktail while wearing stilettos thank you very much. This may have resulted in much giggling and me actually wearing stilettos while fixing the drinks. God bless girls weekend.

Stef and I had varying tastes. I am a fan of extremely chilled vodka, Stef prefers the more potent flavor of gin. We agree on the superiority of twists over olives. Cutting my twist created a few freaky curls of lemon peel, but a video from CHOW helped things along.

One recipe called for whacking the ice with a spoon before dropping it into the shaker. I'm not sure entirely why one does this, but I've seen bartenders in places fairly serious about their cocktails do it. And I was a serious sophisticated woman. In heels. And that "THWACK" makes a great sound. I considered the less James Bond approach of stirring the drinks, but if I was going to be teetering around my apartment in heels, shaking was the much more fun options. Advice from The Modern Girl's Guide to Life (a book that was a lifesaver when I was 23 and didn't know how to make a basic cream sauce or get a stain out) said that a martini should be shaken for at least 10 seconds. A Rachel Maddow video for Grub Street I had seen instructed that when one was shaking a cocktail, it should be shaken until it makes your hands hurt a bit from the cold, and then given a few shakes more. This also made a very satisfying sound.

Shaken Martini with a Twist for Confident, Fabulous Women

-4 or 5 large ice cubes
-2 oz chilled vodka or gin
-A dash of vermouth
-Twist of Lemon Peel

Take each ice cube and give it a whack with a tablespoon, breaking it into somewhat smaller pieces. Place the ice in a shaker and add the liquor of choice and the vermouth. Shake sharply until just past the hurting point, and strain into martini glass. Drop lemon peel into glass. Serve.

Again, variations are ubiquitous, shunned in some circles, embraced in others. But if you are a confident, fabulous woman, make what you want and screw the naysayers. You probably look better in your shoes then they do anyway.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Foxtrot at the Savoy

One of the things I like about mixing cocktails is its timelessness. Thumbing through my copy of The Savoy Cocktail Book, I feel like an archaeologist discovering an ancient text. At the time my grandfather was born, these were the drinks people were consuming. The names of some of these drinks are great--old-timey and cheeky--with names like the "mule's hind leg cocktail" or the "damn the weather cocktail."

These cocktails are all well and good, but as I've stated before, a lot of them are very gin heavy and many contain egg and absinthe. The weather is warming up and it's high time for something a little more summery. They have a few standards like the daiquiri which has a quote underneath from Joseph Hergesheimer's "San Cristobal de la Habana":

"The moment had arrived for a daiquiri. It was a delicate compound; it elevated my contentment to an even higher pitch. Unquestionably the cocktail on my table was a dangerous agent, for it held in its shallow glass bowl slightly encrusted with undissolved sugar the power of a contemptuous indifference to fate; it set the mind free of responsibility; obliterating both memory and tomorrow, it gave the heart an adventitious feeling of superiority and momentarily vanquished all the celebrated, the eternal fears. Yes, that was the danger of skillfully prepared intoxicating drinks."

There's a part of me that believes that people actually talked like that about things like cocktails. A spirited discussion if you will. The time period of the Savoy book is something that has been romanticized because of prohibition. Every time I make one of these drinks, I get thoughts of intellectuals in darkened rooms wearing ridiculous hats and having fascinating conversations.

This week, I thought I would show you a recipe for something that I selected partially because it has a summer theme and partially because I really like the name:

Fox Trot Cocktail
-The Juice of 1/2 Lemon or 1 Lime
-2 Dashes Orange Curaçao
-Bacardi Rum (I used about 2 oz.)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

It's a fantastic drink for the warm summer months ahead. It's simple to make and it has everything you would want on a hot day: citrus, sweetness and rum. It resembles other drinks--a margarita with rum instead of tequila or a daiquiri with Curaçao instead of sugar--but it definitely has its own thing going on. There's a bit more tartness to it because curaçao is used instead of sugar, but it gives the cocktail a more complex flavor.

In my fantasy, I'm sitting on the balcony of my Manhattan penthouse apartment in 1930 watching the Empire State building be constructed. As I listen to the latest Jolson tune on my handy dandy gramophone, I sip my Fox Trot Cocktail and think to myself, "Life sure is swell." Maybe if the weather is nice tomorrow, I'll go to the soda jerk's and get a phosphate or a malted.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Crab and Asparagus Tart

The tarts were following me. In cookbooks, on blogs, in restaurants, I kept coming tart after tarts, some sweet, some savory, all looking insanely good to eat. I've had difficulty with pie crust in the past, however, (edible but not pretty) and tart crusts seemed too similar. Also it was baking, and I'm not a huge fan of baking. Finally though, the New York Times broke me down. I was minding my own business, sitting on the subway, happily reading an article about 2008 Kabinett Rieslings and how good they were in spring. Then I came across their suggestion for pairing. It was a recipe for a Crab and Asparagus Tart. I ran out and bought a tart pan.

I had to! This tart had in it just about everything I had been craving of late. Spring means asparagus, even if I had to shamefully buy it from California, it included goat cheese, which I already had in my fridge. And it had crab.

My family, for generations now, has been insane about blue crabs. Entire summer picnics have been designed around only the idea of a cooler full of crabs and a case of beer. On summer vacations we pulled them out of the bay, the scrawny little New Jersey crabs. A bar right on the water in Maryland has seen our faces several times, and when that bar was the subject of a feature article in the Times last fall, extolling the virtues of sitting on the deck picking apart crabs, I leaped off the subway at the next stop to call my mom, standing on a street corner in Manhattan as I tried to guide her to the right part of the website. "No Mom, you have to click on Travel. No not Styles, Travel. How did you end up in International? Look at the bar and click Travel!" No wonder visitors to the city think we're all crazy. In any case, it had been far too long since I'd eaten crab meat. I've been prowling the fish shops, waiting for soft shells to appear, but that's another month off. I didn't care if I wasn't going to be able to pick the meat myself, I wanted to eat it. I wanted to eat it with spring veggies and cheese. I had to make this tart.

It actually went pretty well! the nice thing about tart crusts is you don't have to pinch the crust all pretty like you do a pie. Once you have it laid in there, you can just roll your rolling pin over the top, and Ta Da! Perfectly trimmed pretty crust. I made only one significant change from the Times recipe. They call for 1 tablespoon chervil, essentially a fancy parsley. On the day I was doing my shopping I couldn't find it. I considered throwing in some regular parsley I had in my fridge, but I really wasn't feeling the bitter herbs with my nice, fresh, spring tart. I considered my ingredients, and decided fresh dill was what I really wanted to add to the flavor. Dill is so perfect for seafood, as well as for mixing with goat cheese, mild and soft in flavor but bringing a fresh dimension to an otherwise somewhat heavy dish.

Crab and Asparagus Tart
Adapted from the New York Times

-1 and 1/4 cup flour (156.25 grams, I have learned from my new digital scale)

-1/2 teaspoon cayenne
-7 tablespoons unsalted butter
-4 large eggs
-1 Tablespoon minced shallot
-1/2 bunch medium asparagus, ends snapped, halved vertically and cut into 1 inch pieces
-8 oz lump crab meat
-1 Tablespoon lemon juice
-1 Tablespoon chopped dill
-3/4 cup half-and-half
-4 oz soft goat cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a food processor, blend four, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and cayenne. Add 6 tablespoons cold butter and pulse until size of peas. In a separate bowl, beat 1 egg with 2 tablespoons of ice water. Scatter on flour mixture and pulse until a dough can be gathered together. Add a little more ice water if needed. Form into a disk and roll on a lightly floured surface until about 1/4 inch thick. Loosely roll your dough onto your rolling pin, then unroll it gently into a 9 inch tart pan.

Form dough to side of pan, then roll your rolling pin over to trim the edges. Line with foil and weight with pastry weights (or if you are like me and don't own those, pennies). Bake 10 minutes. Remove foil and weights and bake until it begins to look lightly browned, 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven. Reduce heat to 350 degrees.

Melt remaining tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and cook 1 minute. Add asparagus and cook about 2 minutes, until they start to soften. Remove from heat. Fold in crab meat, lemon juice, and dill. Season with salt to taste. Spread mixture into pastry shell.

Whisk half-and-half and goat cheese until smooth. Beat in the remaining 3 eggs until well blended. Pour over crab mixture. (You may have a little too much, I did. I just poured until it looked like it was going to breach the pastry wall, then stopped.) Place in oven and bake about 40 minutes, until set and lightly browned. Let cool 15 minutes, remove the sides of the pan and serve at once or cooled to room temperature.
I was pleased with how this turned out. It was excellent the day of and I think even better for lunch the next day, so it could definitely be made the night before if you planned on serving it for brunch.

The cayenne added a little heat, more of a mouth feel then a spicy flavor. It was the perfect thing because we paired it with the crisp white wine that had been recommend, but if you were doing this for a brunch, I might leave it out. Next time I might trim back the asparagus and the crab a little bit and throw in some sliced mushrooms with the shallots. The article even recommends replacing the asparagus with diced zucchini later in the summer. The recipe is open to a lot of adaptable options, so you can make it your own. Now that I own my own tart pan, the possibilities are endless.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Black Bean Burgers

Spring is a tempting bitch. A warm breeze passes through, some sunshine passes through the clouds, and you think, "It's Spring! Spring is here!" And you know what happens next? You get spring confused with summer, or at the very least you get early April confused with late May, and you decide that fresh veggies are just around the corner. You see one tulip and you become convinced that asparagus, tomatoes and leafy greens will soon cover your table. This is a dangerous thing to think in early April. Why? Because the next thing that happens is you open a cabinet, and you spy all those traitorous canned foods. You can't let the fresh veggies see you with the canned food! What will they think? "Out!" you cry, grabbing every can and lining them up on the counter. These must be disposed of. Preferably in a delicious way.

The tomatoes went into a delicious vodka cream sauce. I can't blog about that because it got eaten too fast and there were no photographs. That's right, I destroyed the evidence so the heirlooms wouldn't see.

Then it was just the black beans and I just staring each other down. I should have never bought two cans of beans. I had never cooked black beans before, and as soon as I had them in my possession I realized all the really good sounding recipes called for dried beans. Stupid canned beans...staring at me from their stupid metal prison, they were taunting me. I vaguely remembered a magazine recipe of a black bean burger, and the vegetarian healthiness appealed to me, as my frame seems to have picked up an extra pound or two with the cheesy egg experiments. Also appealing was that the recipe take about 20 whole minutes to make. Sounds like Monday night meal to me. I found a recipe that satisfied a lot of my pantry cleansing needs, including calling for mayonnaise. I had recently scored some Japanese Kewpie mayo, and have been dying to try it out on something.

One thing I noted in the reviews of the original recipe, some people complained it was too bland for them. People often have similar complaints about turkey burgers so I pulled out a trick from the ones I make and added some chopped green peppers to the mix, which also gave the patties a much needed kick of color.

Black Bean Burgers
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine

-2 14 oz cans of black beans, rinsed and drained, divided
-3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
-1/3 cup dried breadcrumbs
-2 teaspoons of cumin
-1 teaspoon dried oregano
-1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
-1/4 cup chopped green peppers
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-4 soft hamburger buns

To top: sliced avocado, sliced tomatoes

Pulse 1 can of beans in a food processor with mayo, breadcrumbs, cumin, oregano, and cayenne until a coarse puree forms. Transfer to a bowl and stir in remaining can of beans. Form mixture into 4 patties.

Heat oil in a 12 inch heavy skillet over medium high heat until it shimmers. Cook burgers until outsides are crisp and lightly browned, turning once, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to buns.

The result was quite tasty, very earthy but the fresh veggies gave it some much needed brightness. If I had sour cream that would have been a lovely topper for such a burger, but it had been sitting in the fridge too long and had gotten a bit too sour. I eyed my newly acquired mayo. I plunked a teaspoon and a half into a ramekin and squeezed in about half a teaspoon of lime juice. Whisked together, it made a great spread for this very heavy meal.

In the end, I think this burger makes a great base that could be taken in many different directions. I may go more Southwestern and add jalapenos. Maybe I'll wear a ten gallon hat while I do it. I may take a cue from the cumin and head to Southeast Asian, plunking some curry powder into the mix. Cause I would look hot in a sari. Any way you spice it up, its a great way to use what you have on hand to make a really quick and interesting week night dinner (or to sate some vegetarians at a cookout this summer). But me, I'm done shopping my cabinets for dinner. I'm ready to fill this apartment with fresh veggies that will appear in the farmers market soon. Really. Any minute now. Green will come sprouting out of the earth. Tap. Tap. Tap.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The French 75

This past weekend Heather's mother was in town, and we made a second visit to a trendy restaurant in Tribeca called Locanda Verde. Heather's been referring to this as the current "Sex in the City" restaurant since it's getting so much buzz and press at the moment. Any cocktail mixer worth his salt, however, knows that Cosmo's are out and the "of the moment" drinks tend to be of the speak easy era with and old timey feel.

Locanda Verde was well aware of this fact, which had Heather Ordering the French 75, a remnant of the WWI era, named after artillery canon. It's one of those cocktails you would drink with Hemingway or Dorothy Parker, which is the kind of New York we're looking for. There's something appealing about the prohibition era--the feeling that at any minute someone's going to pop out of nowhere and slap the drink out of my hand. It's sexy.

The French 75 is a cocktail with a couple of different variations. The main ingredient can be either gin or cognac--a pretty big jump in flavor profile--then lemon juice, sugar and champagne. That's about the long and short of it. The drink originated just after the first World War and was published in The Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930 with a note under it that reads "Hits with remarkable precision." They list it as having gin rather than brandy but if you've ever leafed through that book, you would see how much 1930's people loved their gin.

The Death and Company website also incorporates gin and includes no champagne.

The Locanda Verde version reads as follows:


Citrus grappa, strega liquori, fresh lemon, prosecco

Our French 75, Italian style

Grappa is a type of italian brandy distilled from pomace wine which is made from grapes or olives (How Italian) and strega is an herbal liqueur with a slightly sweet flavor.

Not all of us can afford to have a liquor cabinet that is quite as stocked as a place like Locanda Verde, but if you're anything like me, you have a few staples. I would make it like this:

-2 oz. cognac

-1/2 oz. simple syrup

-1/2 oz. lemon juice

-fill with champagne in a champagne glass

If you're looking for a nice brunch cocktail and want a little change of pace from your standard mimosa then this might just do the trick. Heather's only regret is that she ordered it as a pre-dinner cocktail...and that nobody slapped the drink out of her hand. Oh well, next time.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ginger Scallion Noodles with Seared Sea Scallops

Readers of this blog know I am a fan of the Momofuku restaurant empire. I could bathe in the ramen and live solely off the cookies. When David Chang's cookbook came out last year though, I was hesitant. First it was just kinda expensive, retailing for $40 in most places in NY, and second, the buzz was that the recipes were uncookable. These were not the pandering recipes of most restauranteurs, dumbed down to what a home cook could accomplish, with most of the especially rare ingredients and labor intensive methods edited out. David Chang had basically written a cookbook where he more or less tells you (employing varying levels of profanity) exactly how he creates the weird and wonderful food he serves. And for a restaurant, the lengths they go to are great, since all they do in their lives is cook and they charge a markup on all ingredients used. For a home cook, however, most of the recipes are a bit out of the question, both in execution and pure cost of ingredients. I am not going to take ten hours to make chicken wings, with instructions like "While the wings are confiting, make taré." I need a lot more patience and a French to English dictionary.

There is someone who has taken on the challenge, however. On her blog "Momofuku for 2" which I referenced last week, a blogger named Steph is working her way through this cookbook. Crazy Canadian. And while I have no intention of risking my sanity doing anything similar (something Will is grateful for) the pictures and descriptions on her site were too much for me. I bought the book.

It was worth it, if only for the great stories about trying to open a restaurant in NYC and the insane photography by Gabriele Stabile. As I flipped through it, among the recipes that referenced other recipes, the kimchi, the daikon, the cold smoking and the pickling (oh my god the pickling) I actually turned up a recipe or two I'd be willing to attempt. You know, without the special soy sauce. Or the sherry vinegar I couldn't find. Or the way too expensive Grapeseed Oil that I found for a better price a week later. I also may have not realized how much water those noodles absorb. Damn. So really, it was Momofuku like. Since he totally cops to ripping off the dish from New York Noodletown, I don't feel too guilty. After I had settled on what noodles to make, I decided to top the dish with scallops. For my searing method, I looked to another recipe he had for Roasted New Jersey Diver Scallop, though I omitted the rest of his recipe and used plain old sea scallops because I'm wary of things originating from New Jersey. Well, that or those simply weren't on sale this week.

Ginger scallion Noodles with Seared Sea Scallops
Adapted (or butchered) from the Momofuku Cookbook


For the Noodles:
-8oz packaged Chinese or Japanese Ramen Noodles
-1 1/4 Cup thinly sliced scallions (greens and whites) from 1 large bunch
-1/4 Cup finely minced peeled fresh ginger
-2 tbsp Sunflower Oil (or Grapeseed if you have it)
-3/4 tsp Soy Sauce
-1/4 tsp vinegar
-1/8 tsp Cooking Sherry
-little less then 1/2 tsp kosher salt

For the Scallops
-1 pound Sea Scallops
-2 tbsp olive oil
-1 tbsp unsalted butter
-Salt and pepper to taste


Mix the scallions, ginger, oil, soy sauce, vinegar, sherry, and salt in a bowl. Taste, add more salt if needed. Let sit at least 15 minutes. Cook noodles according to package directions, making sure to use at least 8 cups of water. Drain, toss with sauce.

While noodles are cooking heat the olive oil until it's hot but not smoking. Dry the scallops with a paper towel and season them on both sides with salt and pepper. Add scallops to pan one at a time, leaving space between them, and lightly press down on each one with a wooden spoon to ensure the entire face of the scallop browns evenly. After about a minute and a half, when the scallops have begun to turn opaque, add the butter to the pan. Tile the pan back toward you and use a large spoon to scoop up the melting butter and baste the scallops with it. Continue to cook them on the same side for another one and a half minutes, until the side facing the pan is deeply browned but the scallops are not entirely cooked through. Remove the scallops from the pan to a paper towel lined plate to rest, browned side up. (If you are a bit of a coward like me, you may flip each scallop for about 10 seconds just to be sure the other side got some heat. This will result in some browning of the side that is not supposed to be browned.)

Serve noodles in individual portions, and top with 2 scallops. If it is your taste, drizzle with a small amount of soy sauce.
I was very pleased with how this turned out. I may have minced some of the ginger a little too large, resulting in some rather surprising bites, but overall it was a tasty dish, with the buttery scallops complementing the fresh tastes of the sauce, and the saltiness of the soy balancing it all nicely. I gobbled it down and felt more then a little smug heating up some leftovers at the office the next day. It was basically college food made sophisticated. Maybe there's something to this Momofuku cooking after all. Watch out Pan Roasted Asparagus with Poached Egg and Miso Butter. I'm coming for you.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Espresso 77

After a rainy couple of weeks it's good to see some nice weather. It allows us to do some things we might not otherwise be able to do--chill out in Central Park, walk to a few places that we might normally take a cab or subway to. But one of the other phenomena that occur during nice weather is that we can actually get a table and be comfortable in one of our favorite local coffee shops, Espresso 77.
Espresso 77, for those who have never been, is a small coffee shop that also serves sandwiches, pastries, beer and wine. It's been around since late 2007 and is the only hip coffee shop in Jackson Heights as far as I can tell, and to top it all off, they make a mean latte. Often they'll put a little leaf design in the foam. On weekends they offer select pastries from an artisanal bakery called Cannelle Patisserie. Heather might kill someone if their standing between her and a lemon bar. There is a Starbucks a couple of blocks away, but there are Starbucks all over the place in New York. They also won't put a leaf in my latte. Espresso 77 is certainly holding it's own. I like the idea of going to a place that is unique and specific to the community it inhabits.
Espresso 77 prominently displays the work of local artists on its walls. Every couple of months or so a new artist will be featured and will have their works available for purchase. With every artist featured, free postcards are available promoting the artist and his or her work. Occasionally I'll just grab one, fill it out and mail it to someone I know. I like the idea of sending postcards when you're not on vacation. Who doesn't like getting a postcard? I would mostly just send them to my sister. With each one, I would comment on the tropical fruit themed stamp and include various coffee related puns like "thanks a latte," "do you have a lozenge? I'm feeling coffee," or "that's not your chiato, that's macchiato" and so on and so forth.
But when the winter months roll in and it's too cold to go to the park, all of the parents of small children flock to this confined space, strollers in tow. I can't get mad, nor do I have the desire to. The establishment even invites it by providing a basket full of children's books and toys to play with. Most of the children are well behaved, but it is a tiny place--voices carry and there's not a lot of room to run around. Every now and again we'll walk by and see that it looks more like a McDonald's play place than a coffee joint and just keep on walking. Heather sometime fantasizes about Espresso 77 purchasing the adjacent store, expanding their shop and adding more tables just so there's a little more space for these kids to exist.
The nice part about spring and summer coming along is that parents have more options for their children. And even those parents that do need their coffee fix can sip it outside if their kids are wired. There's a nice bench and an awning with more space and less resonance.
Each season has its own perks and drawbacks. Soon the big slab of concrete that we call Manhattan will bake in the sun and become hot enough to fry an egg on. And soon the subway platforms will become so muggy that we might jump on the wrong train just to enjoy the air conditioning. But in these dog days of summer coming our way, at least Heather and I can enjoy a little elbow room at a nice little coffee shop.

Friday, April 2, 2010

And the Winner Is...

Purple Lover 04! With her comment naming the Irish Soda Bread as her favorite, Purple Lover is the winner of the Short and Saucy Calphalon Pot. Thank you to everyone that participated!

Yup that's a new haircut. We're trying to think of something even better for our 1 year blog aniversary in June, so keep watching the blog! What to expect in the next 100? I've been deeply interested in Asian cooking lately, you may see a post on Ginger noodles as early as next week! And then there's the bread baking class I'm looking at taking, and the return of ice cream as summer looms and the Tiki bars that are supposed to open in Manhattan this summer, we've got a long culinary road ahead of us. Hope you're all coming along for the ride!