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Posts Tagged ‘rapini’

This is a classic stir-fry dish that I made. Typically it’d be made with snow peas, but I used haricots vert because I had some in my fridge that needed to be gobbled up. Other than that I stuck to the basics for this one.

My ingredients included a bunch of green onions sliced, 1 inch of ginger cut into matchsticks, 1 teaspoon of cornstarch, 1/2 pound of haricots vert, 1/2 cup of chicken stock, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of sriracha, and about 1 pound of shelled shrimp.

I started by mixing together the chicken stock, soy sauce, sriracha, and cornstarch. I whisked it together until the cornstarch was completely dissolved. I set that aside and heated up my large skillet. Once hot, I poured in about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and added the ginger. I let the ginger go for about 1 minute. Then I tossed in the haricots vert and let them cook for about 2 minutes. After that came the shrimp. I let the shrimp go for about 1 minute, during that time I re-whisked the liquid because starch won’t stay dissolved for very long. Once the shrimp were partially cooked and turning pink I poured the liquid in along with the green onions and a few cracks of black pepper. I stir fried it all together for about another minute or two and then served it up. After I plated I decided to tear up some cilantro for garnish.

Besides white rice I made some miso soup to go along with the shrimp. You’ve read about my miso soup numerous times so I won’t bore you with how I made it, I’ll just let you know what ingredients I used this time as it’s always different. For this batch I chopped up some rapini, 6 shiitake, 1/2 onion sliced, about 1/2 block of tofu cubed, 2 yukon gold potatoes skinned and cubed, 2 tablespoons of dashi soy (mixed into 3 cups of water for the broth), and about 1.5 tablespoons of shiro miso. I absolutely love potato and onion in my miso soup.

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Punjabi Bolognese…sounds kind of weird, right? Well, it isn’t, its delicious! Basically, all I did was take a classic Punjabi dish called Masaledar Chholay (spicy tomato sauce with chickpeas) and add a few things, take away some of the heat, and smother some pasta with it. It really worked out well and is a nice change from regular bolognese.

I had already started my prep when I realized that I need to take a photo. So, here are the ingredients all chopped up and ready to go. I had a handful of cilantro that I ripped up at the last minute of cooking, a bunch of rapini chopped up (not an Indian ingredient, but I thought the mustardiness would match real well, I was right of course), 1 medium sweet potato diced, 2 medium carrots diced, 1/2 onion diced, 1 inch of ginger minced, 3 garlic cloves minced, 3/4 pound of ground lamb, 1.5 tablespoons of cumin, 1 tablespoon of garam masala, 1/2 tablespoon of turmeric, 1 14oz can of diced tomatoes, and 1 14oz can of chickpeas.

In a hot pan our poured in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and added the ginger and garlic. I let them go for a minute until the oil was very fragrant. Then, I added the onion and carrots. I let them sweat down for about 5 minutes before adding the lamb. It took the lamb another 5 minutes or so to cook through as I broke it up. Once cooked through I added the spices and mixed them in.

With the meat spiced I poured in the tomatoes along with the juice in the can and let it come up to a slight boil. Then I added the rapini and sweet potato, stirred it all in, covered the pot, turned the heat down to med-low, and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.

After that I added the chickpeas, seasoned with salt and pepper, and let it simmer for another 5 minutes or so. Since I used canned chickpeas I only needed them to heat through.

While the chickpeas were heating up I boiled a mix of regular and wheat spaghetti in salt water according to package instructions. To serve I simply put the noodles in the bottom of a big bowl and ladled some of the Punjabi Bolognese on top. I garnished with the cilantro.

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The first thing you’ll notice about this post is the lack of pictures. Yuki took me out last night for my 34th birthday (damn I’m gettin old!) and my recent experience, I’m sure you’ll agree, has not been good using my cell phone’s camera in dim restaurant lighting. While I have no problem using my regular camera when traveling, I feel weird pulling it out here at home, like a tourist in my own city. That said, here is how our night at the highly acclaimed Naha Restaurant went last night.

We had a 7:30 reservation and showed up right on the dot. The hostess informed us that they were running a little behind and it’d be about 15 minutes before our table would be ready. No worries, we understand that sometimes this happens. So, we sat at these extremely uncomfortable built-in benches along the wall and waited…and waited…and waited. 15 minutes goes by and nothing. Once 8:00 rolled by I went up to inquire how much longer it’d be. I was told that 3 tables had already paid and they were just waiting for them to leave. Ok, however, the assistant hostess rolled her eyes at me for asking. Sorry, but that’s about as rude as it gets when it’s way past our reservation time and we still have not gotten our table. Fortunately for her our table was ready about 2 minutes later; I didn’t have to get the manager.

We get to our table and the interior was quite nice. Very simple and elegant with windows covering all of the exterior walls. Yuki sat on the cushioned bench, so I don’t know how comfortable that was, but the wooden chair I sat in was extremely uncomfortable. There was an ill-placed wooden bar that dug into my spine causing me to hunch over the entire time. On top of that it was way too cold in that restaurant. They could have turned the air conditioner down a good 10 degrees. I noticed most of the women around us were all kind of clenching due to the temperature. I’m pretty hairy, and even I was cold, my natural fur coat wasn’t enough insulation.

Here we are sitting at our cold, uncomfortable table waiting…waiting…waiting. It took more than 10 minutes for the busser to come over and offer us our choice of water. It took another 10 minutes for our server, Albert, to come over and greet us. 20 minutes before an appearance from our server! He even made a dumb comment, “Sorry, I know you’ve been sitting here for 2 or 3 minutes.” Try 20, buddy! I put in the order for some Cava and that came out alright.

After sipping on the Cava for a few minutes Albert came back over once he had taken the order from the table on my left as they were seated shortly before us. He asked if we had ever been there before. When I said no he proceeded to explain just about every dish on the menu. Go to Naha’s website and read the menu, every single dish is well articulated, we don’t need a recap. Not to mention, it was already an hour past our reservation time and we were damn hungry, just take our order! Before we could get our order in he disappeared again. Dude, we’ve been sitting for over a half and hour looking at the menu, our minds were made up over 20 minutes ago!

Finally, we got our orders placed. Then, we waited…and waited…and waited. We’re sitting there waiting; meanwhile, the table to my left who had ordered just 5 minutes before we did was chomping away at their appetizers. I commented to Yuki that they’ll get their entrées before we get our apps. I was right. During the wait Albert avoided us so I couldn’t even inquire. I was getting pissed!

When our appetizers finally came our stomachs were rumbling. Yuki got the Risotto with Blue Crab, Oyster Mushrooms, and Lobster Bisque. The crab was pretty good, nice and moist, but the risotto and bisque were way too salty. She cleared her plate out of sheer hunger more than anything. I got the Gnocchi with Braised Oxtails, Spanish Chorizo, Rapini, Montelerriana Cheese, and Basil. I do have to say that this was a great dish. The gnocchi were nice and soft, the chorizo added a nice compliment to the mild oxtail, the rapini a nice bitterness, the cheese the right amount of salt, and basil a refreshing note.

While we were in the middle of our apps a new table was sat to my right. They ordered right away and got their apps before we finished ours. Did the hostess have a vendetta against us for asking how much longer it’d be to get our table? Then, even though we did finish our apps before them they got their entrées before us, way before us. Shoot, they almost finished their entrees before we got ours.

During our wait between apps and entrées I was finally able to flag down Albert after the wait hit a half hour. He just kept apologizing and saying that kitchen is backed up. Sorry Albert, but that’s no excuse. My little quail should take no longer than 5-8 minutes to roast while Yuki’s brisket was either braised the day before or that morning. It should never take that long between coarses. I told him how I noticed that the tables on either side of us were getting their dishes in a timely fashion and his response was childish and defensive, “Sir, it’s not a competition.” Albert, man up and admit your service sucked. I was merely using the other tables as a reference point, not for some competition you may have going on in your feeble little head.

We just about lost our appetite because so much time had passed. Right when I was about to tell Albert to forget it, we’re leaving, the entrées showed up, more than 45 minutes from the time they cleared our apps.  

Yuki had the Braised Brisket with Hen of the Woods Mushrooms and, honestly, I forget what else was on that dish. We couldn’t get past how salty the braising liquid and mushrooms were as well as how tough the brisket was. They should have called it brisket jerky. I kept watching Yuki try to saw away at that thing just to get a bite. I think it was sitting under the heat lamps for about 20 minutes back in the kitchen. At least that’s how it tasted. I got the Roasted Quail with Kurobuta Pork Belly, Duck Egg baked in La Quercia Prosciutto, and Purple Potatoes. The quail was alright, a little dry, but not terrible. The pork belly was way too sweet, and I do mean sweet. The egg and prosciutto was so damn salty! Doesn’t Chef Nahabedian know that when you cook prosciutto you’re concentrating the salt by removing the moisture? She did nothing to control the salt level. The fact that the yolk of my duck egg was solid and not runny tells me that my dish probably sat under the heat lamps for too long as well. On top of that the three main components had absolutely nothing to tie them together. I was intrigued by the combination on paper and quite honestly, it just didn’t work on all fronts. I kept imagining what Chef Tom Colicchio would say on Top Chef about editing a dish and pulling back on ingredients. Also, there was nothing on either of our plates that justified the price. Brisket is a cheap cut of beef and quail, pork belly (literally three bites worth), and duck egg don’t cost that much either. We clearly didn’t pay for execution as nothing was balanced or cooked properly.

When we finished the entrées it was already 10:00 and we were ready to go home. Albert came by and asked if we were up for dessert and I told him, “We don’t want to be here for another hour, we’re ready to go.” He tried to joke around and said the dessert was on him. We really didn’t care for his nonchalant attitude. We’re two very pissed off diners, not friends.

Another comment on Albert’s service, not once did he come over to see how our food was. He ignored us during our apps and he ignored us during our entrées.

He left to get us the bill and the manager, Terry, came by to apologize. I told him my exact thoughts. If the service had run at regular restaurant speed we wouldn’t have waited the initial half hour to get our table not to mention the snails pace of everything else. It should never take more than a half hour to get apps, and it should never take more than 45 minutes to get an entrée from the time apps are cleared. He also blamed it on the kitchen which is a terrible cop-out. Whether deliberate or shear incompetence, our entrées clearly seemed to have been sitting in the kitchen under heat lamps for a long period of time.

When Albert brought the check he also brought a dessert, Vanilla Ice Cream Parfait with Drunken Fruit and Brioche Pain Perdu, with the obligatory “Happy Birthday” written in chocolate. It was comped, but we clearly told him we did not want dessert and just wanted to leave. The correct move would have been to just take care of some of our wine and not force us to stay there any longer. A free dessert was not enough to get the usual 20% tip we tend to leave.

I do have to say that Yuki had her doubts about Naha months ago when I mentioned that this is where I wanted to go for my birthday dinner. She thought the menu looked pretentious and unappetizing. Once again, she was right. I should have known better. Most chefs worth their grain of salt, especially those who claim to be farm-to-table chefs, are trending towards simplicity, fewer ingredients to showcase the quality of the food. Chef Nahabedian is stuck in the trends of a decade ago. Besides that, the service was clearly lacking. If you want to go out for a nice dinner with fantastic food, trust me, there are hundreds of better options than Naha where you’ll be paying their rent instead of buying a good dinner experience.

Thanks for a horrible birthday Naha!

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So, I had a lot of pesto left from Meatless Monday. Whole Foods had local, organic chicken legs on sale for $1.49 a lb. The idea was to marinade them in the pesto for an hour and then grill them up. The spurts of rain we got last night put the kibosh on that. So, I roasted them instead.

Before marinating the chicken, I slashed the skin a couple of times about halfway into the meat. I wanted the pesto flavor to permeate the leg and not just coat it. I put the legs in one of my large pans and threw it into the oven at 425 degrees for about 35 minutes. While I didn’t get the smoky grill flavor I wanted, this allows the chicken to almost confit. All of the chicken fat helps keep the meat moist and juicy.

While the chicken was roasting I sautéed up some onion, purple potato, and carrot in butter. Once the vegetables were almost completely cooked, about 10-15 minutes for the potatoes, I drizzled in the last bit of pesto I had left. I let that cook for a minute or two.

Then I threw in the rest of the rapini I had in my fridge. The rapini only needs a few a minutes. Once the leaves started to wilt I turned off the heat.

I prepared the soup earlier in the day so that, come dinner time, all I had to do was heat it up. I took 7 roma tomatoes and halved them. I laid them in a baking dish cut side up and topped each with a slice of garlic. Then I drizzled some olive oil on top and roasted them in a 400 degree oven for an hour. When I took them out I let them cool for about 15 minutes and then tossed it all in my blender until nice and smooth. I thought about straining it, but I decided that I wanted the texture of the pulp.

Right before I reheated the soup I threw in a large handful of chopped basil and seasoned with salt and pepper. I garnished the soup with a pinch of parmesan.

Even though potatoes are a starch, I treated them more as a regular vegetable. I served some white rice alongside for the starch.

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Meatless Monday this week was gnocchi. I do have to say that I cheated a little. I didn’t make my own gnocchi. It’s not hard to make, but it does take time. Time is what I lacked. However, most people don’t make their own pasta, so using pre-made gnocchi isn’t really that bad I guess. What’s the difference? Just use a good quality gnocchi.

First thing I did was boil some chopped rapini in salt water for about 3 minutes. Rapini can be really bitter and strong. Boiling it for a few minutes removes a lot of the bitterness. Drain it well afterword and squeeze out all of the water.

I made some pesto. Just a classic pesto. Some basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan, salt, pepper, and I like to throw in a pinch of red pepper flakes all into the blender and let her rip while slowly pouring in some olive oil. I think I ended up pouring in about 1/3 cup or so. It all depends upon how much of the other ingredients you put in. Do what you dig.

In a large pan I sautéed a chopped onion and a bunch of quartered mushrooms in olive oil with garlic. I let them go until the onion got a little translucent and the mushrooms started to release some of their liquid.

Then I threw in the rapini and a bunch of cherry tomatoes that were halved. I let them go for just a couple of minutes.

Once the tomato skins started to wilt a little I tossed in the gnocchi (I had boiled it while cooking the veggies) and spooned in some of the pesto. I mixed it all around and the it cook for just a minute to bring all of the flavors together.

To serve, I tossed a little fresh parmesan on top. On the side I toasted some bread and spread some artichoke and garlic in olive oil puree on top.

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