Thursday, March 31, 2011

High Quality Customer Service

To all my restaurant management students this video sums up high quality customer service-LOL!

Bridal Registry Tips from a Chef's Point of View

I'm a Chef and Bride-to Be so I'd like to share with you my tips for setting up a perfect registry. There's a few questions to ask yourself before registering:

1. What's my lifestyle? Are you a dinner party diva, casual cook, gadget girl or paper plate chick.
2. How big is your living space- are we talking urban or suburban?

Next split your list into two:
 Things to Die For & Things You Would Die Without

Things To Die For
  1. Le Creuset Cookware trust me these super expensive enameled cast iron cookware are a die for. They're gorgeous to look at even more gorgeous to cook in. Trust me you're not going to spend $350.00 on a dutch oven anytime soon, this is the time to ask- so put it on the list!
  2. Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer - I  mean the pro line stainless steel version, don't go scanning the cheap plastic model- you can buy that one yourself! Go all out, I have the stainless steel version and it is so durable I would never waste my money on a plastic type that could crack. I use this machine very often from cakes, to cookies to whip cream- this machine makes my life easy, it's worth every penny
  3. Waterford- anything and everything Waterford you can find. Picture yourself at your perfect dinner party with your friends going " I love your glasses" and you replying  "Thank you they're Waterford". You just scanned it didn't you!
Things You'd Die Without
  1. Coffeemaker- I don't know about you but I'd die without coffee, so make sure it's on there.
  2. Laundry items, go ahead register for the nice wicker hamper and pull out ironing board, these items will get more use than you think.
  3. Bedding- we already know fabulous things happen in the bedroom so start out your new life together with a gorgeous bedding set and don't worry about messing the sheets up that's the point!
  4. Casual Dinnerware- I just received the Color Wave by Noritake dinner ware set. The sales woman at Bed Bath and Beyond totally sold me on this dinnerware set. I registered for the Graphite color and I am so happy with my choice. the dishes are pretty much unbreakable and make for a gorgeous table scape. Yes, scan away!
I had registered at two places Macy's and Bed Bath and Beyond. Here's my experience:

Macy's Bridal Registry- In all Macy's is a great place to register. You receive 5% back on all items purchased from your registry and 10% on all Macy's card purchases you make from the time your register until your big day! It's very easy to return items and most registry items go on sale, your guests will love you for this!

The downside, a lot of items I registered for online were not available in stores but they do offer free shipping most of the time so it's really not a big deal! Save yourself some time, just register at Macys!

Bed Bath and Beyond- why did I even bother registering here? They pissed me off, the price went up on many of my registry items! I called customer service and was like what the hell man? lucky for me I saved my original print out, called customer service and they were willing to match the price for any of my guests who came n with the original registry print out. That really wouldn't help all my guests, how would they know the price went up?

Most of all enjoy this time registering is the fun part washing the pots and pans you registered is not! Hey that's what husnad's are for!

 Chef Jen DePalma for all your fabulous cooking needs!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Jen DePalma's Low Fat Cheesy Noodle Casserole- Winner Dinner Wednesday

Looking for an extra special side dish to spice up your weeknight dinner? Try my Low Fat Cheesy Noodle Casserole for a de-lite-ful healthy addition to your dinner menu tonight. Who doesn't love the idea of biting into an ooey-gooey  bubbly bite of cheesy goodness but seriously who wants to face the scale after that!

I came up with a healthy recipe that's quick, easy and delicious! This is what I also love to call a "pantry cleaning recipe" which means go through your pantry and fridge and put those half empty  boxes of pasta  to good use. Do you have a few handfuls of different cheeses in your fridge, then use those too! I came home from work last night and needed to make a quick fix meal-  I found a can of Campbell's Healthy & Delicious Fat Free Cream of Chicken Soup, a hunk of fontina & Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, a half-full container of Kitchen Basics low sodium chicken broth, some frozen peas and half a bag of egg noodles plus an almost empty box of whole wheat rotini pasta.

I'm like okay what the hell can I make with this? As I'm cooking up the noodles, I'm staring at the Campbell's Cream of Chicken and I'm like- I am making a casserole concoction- boy am I glad I did. I shredded up the handful of the cheeses,used the fat free cream of chicken soup and chicken stock to moisten the noodles. I could've made bechamel sauce and covered the noodles with butter and more cream but seriously people if you don't take care  of yourself- who will! Feel free to add in some chicken or shrimp for a lean protein or leave as is for meat-free meal.

Jen DePalma's Low Fat Cheesy Noodle Casserole
1 bag of no yolks egg noodles
1/4 cup of grated fontina cheese
1/4 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano
1 can of Cambells Healthy & Delicious Cream of Chicken Soup
1/2 cup of frozen peas
1/2 cup of low sodium chicken broth
Partially cook egg noodles
Drain water
Combine noodles with Cream of Chicken Soup, Chicken Stock,Cheeses  and peas
Top with Panko Bread Crumbs and place under broiler 10 minutes or until brown &bubbly!
Eat Right ,Starting Tonight

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Trident Panko Breaded Tilapia- Bachelor's Kitchen

Bachelor Tuesdays at NYC COOKS are back with a bang! Today I'm sharing a supermaket steal with all my faves. Guys, as much as I love to cook I still know how important it is to have some ready to go items on hand. That's why I love keeping a box of Trident Panko Breaded Tilapia on hand. This is not your typical boxed up frozen cardboard like filet- no way. I saw the brand at Costco for the first time back in December and decided to give them a try- the case costs about $14.59 a box and has close to 20 servings in it! These filets are meaty, juicy and oh so tasty!

Panko Tilapia w/ swet potato fries and garden salad

Bursting with tender white meat

These filets are a the perfect parameters for a fabulous and easy meal- pair a filet on it's own or with a salad for a low carb meal, dish it up with some Uncle Ben's Wild Rice or sweet potato fries for a fancy feast. The possibilites are endless and creating a fantastic meal is simpler than you think. Guys, go ahead turn on your toasters and throw out your take out menus, it's dinner time!

Jen DePalma for NYC Cooks, Bachelor Tuesday's

Monday, March 28, 2011

Filet Mignon Salad- The Couture Lunchbox

Omg can it really be Monday again! I am juggle a minimum of four jobs- blogger, event coordinator,caterer and adjunct not mention graduate student! I am constantly on the go and I need to feed my body properly to make it through my hectic days. We all know how important breakfast is but lunch is my favorite meal or actually the only meal I have time for! Teaching evening classes leaves little time for dinner.

What I eat for lunch is extremely important-I can't stuff my face (although I'd love to) because there's no room for an afternoon nap in my schedule. I eat healthy lunches that may seem way to luxurious for the brown paper bag. My coworkers are always so interested in what I brought for lunch because they know I'm a chef and always cooking!

Most days I throw a piece of wild salmon in my toaster oven, plop it over a salad and lunch is done. Today I had this beautiful filet mignon sitting in my fridge, although 6:30 am is a little too early to fire up the grill, I need to make myself lunch! Forget about trying to make lunch the night before, that never happens. So I figured I'll roast this baby in the oven because it's just way too early to fire up the grill, don't ya think?

 It's very common to see beef tenderloin aka filet mignon roasted in the oven it's actually an excellent cooking method for the meat. The beef stays juicy and doesn't dry out.Plus roasting makes for a nice easy clean up!!

Now these filet's ran me about $9.99 per pound at Costco, so the 8 oz steak picture above cost around $5.00 you can't even buy a   McDonald's Angus Burger for $5.00! You sure can eat Jen DePalma's Sliced Filet Mignon Arugula and Avocado salad for under $6.50 now that is something to brag about!
Jen DePalma's Sliced Filet Mignon Arugula & Avocado Salad
1 8oz filet mignon
1/4 avocado sliced
1 tbsp of kosher salt
2 tsp of black pepper
2 tbsp of olive oil
2 cups of arugula

Jen DePalma's Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Season beef with salt, pepper and rub with olive oil
 Place on sheet pan roast
For Medium rare beef roast 8 minutes on one side, turn and roast 8 minutes on other side
Allow meat to rest 10 minutes before slicing, place atop salad and avocado- dress with oil and vinegar or salad dressing of choice.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Princess Cupcakes

I'm off to a birthday party for my favorite 5 year old who is having a very special Disney Princess  birthday party. It's my day off but I wanted to do something extra sweet but simple. So I came up with princess party cupcakes. Folks here's how you make DIY cupcakes look bakery bought.

First I purchase these bakery cupcake boxes and cupcake toppers from a favorite party favor website of mine A Favor Affair , it's all about the packaging.

Next I whip up a quick batch of cupcakes using  Betty Crocker Moist Deluxe

Then with the help of Wilton's Ready-To-Use Frosting and Wilton's Color Mist . You wind up with the the cutest cupcakes for the cutest girls!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Hi People, just wanted to hit you up in real time- I'm currently vacationing at the Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa look how cute my dessert is:

Catfish with Roasted Salsa

Before Topping
It's Fish Friday's here at NYC Cooks. In last Friday's post I mentioned Catfish as ethically sound choice with low levels of mercury.This week I'm sharing  a fabulous Catfish recipe with you. The species gets it's name from it's particularly long whisker like trait. Catfish is typically served fried but in efforts to whittle my waistline I prefer to roast mine. I create a fresh salsa (which is great on so many dishes) top it on the fish and pop it oven and in 18 minutes flat you got one phat cat! In warmer weather you may want to go outside and grill the fish and top it with a raw version of the salsa, come back in June it featured!

Jen DePalma's Roasted Catfish with Fresh Salsa
Jen DePalma's Ingredients
1 lb of catfish fillet
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 small tomato diced
1/2 red onion diced
1/2 bunch of cilantro chopped
Juice of 1 lime + zest
2 tsp of salt 2 tsp of black pepper

Jen DePalma's Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
Combine tomato, onion, cilantro,lime juice+zest, and oil.
Season fish with salt and pepper
Top with fresh salsa
Roast in oven 15 minutes

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thomas the Tank Engine Cupcakes

Thomas the Tank Engine my little nephew is totally obsessed with everything Thomas. He has every Thomas Train, Thomas Backpack, Thomas DVD's and not to mention every Thomas Toy (omg are they expensive). Naturally for his birthday this year, he wanted a Thomas the Tank Cake. Being my chef instincts kicked in or maybe one too many episodes of Cake Boss, I decided I wanted to bring this train cake to life. I could have went for the very simple & safe look- red and blue cupckaes with a Thomas cupcke pick  inside. I don't do "safe", I do spectacular- so instead I decide to bake up individual trains and create a mini train yard scene.

Let's be very cclear here, I was not going for the master pastry chef look here, this cake for my little nephew has what I like to call the DIY feel not my favorite choice but you have to remember the audience you are tryig to reach. In this case I'mm trying to please a demanding bunch of 3-5 year olds so I'm going for whimsical, happy cheery. This cake just screams Party Train!

To start, I purchased the William and Sonoma Railway Train Cake Pan for $36.00. Yes, it's pricey but it really does last, just a bit of a pan to clean- nothing comes without great sacrifice!  Next, comes the Wilton Ready to Use Icing. Let me tell you it is so worth it to buy these little ready to use icing cnas. First off, they make perfectly tight little ribbons and with cut decorating time in half! A couple of spoons of M&M Minis, which are perfect for filling up the "freight trains". Then to really push the Thomas theme, I wrapped the cake board in Thomas the Tank wrapping paper, placed all of the "cake trains" on it. My little nephew was floored! He just could not get over his Thomas the Tank Birthday Cake.
Chef Jen DePalma here, making the world a happier place one meal at a time!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Emerilware 10" Square Grill Pan Review

I just received the Emerilware Grill Pan as a gift for my bridal shower. What a wonderful gift it is! As you can see from the picture at left the grill pan has an adequate amount of space, I have four 6 ounce portions of filet mignon searing up with no problem!

Although this pan is pre-seasoned the manufacturer All-Clad recommends seasoning the pan again before each use Cast Iron Cookware Care & Use. Don't expect magic the first time you cook in this pan. It's going to take some time to break in the pan and it may seem like a pain to keep seasoning the pan but this baby should last you a life time. The heavy weight and size of the pan also causes it to take longer to heat up. Be sure to give it enough time to get hot otherwise you will be steaming instead of grilling your food.

It's going to take some getting used to with this pan. Honestly last night's filet mignons did not come out as great as I'd hoped for. The pan needs to be broken in and next time I'm going to let it get even hotter. My steaks tuned out a little rubbery so I know the pan should be hotter next time.Yes chefs dishes don't always turn out great either!

You may be asking yourself what is all this "seasoning" b.s.? It's like this cast iron was one of the original non-stick cooking surfaces. By heating the pan and wiping it with oil, you "build" a natural non stick pan. actually over time the flavors from the foods being cooked in the pan get absorbed into the iron and hep future  dishes to actually taste better too. Not to mention you food also absorbs the iron also making whatever is being cooked in the pan more nutrient rich.  The pan is sold at Macy's. What are your thought on cooking in cast iron?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Jen DePalma Talks Seafood- To Eat & Not to Eat that is the question?

Jen DePalma- NYC Contributor
It's Fish Fridays here at NYC Cooks and before I continue posting more of my favorite fish recipes- how about we first take a crash course in seafood. It's really important  to be an aware consumer considering all the harmful chemicals entering our food systems. Know where you fish is coming from is it wild or farm raised? When possible choose wild fish every time.

Then there are certain fish we want to avoid not only because they may be high in toxins such as mercury but because from an ethical standpoint they are not a wise choice. You have a moral standpoint to avoid certain species and then there's the physically harmful standpoint to avoid other species. I, Jen DePalma greatly respect the ingredients I work with and understand that if we would like to continue enjoying these wonderful foods it's very important we respect the environment as well. As a chef I need to bring the home cooks recipes for your favorite restaurant dishes which will include Chilean sea bass, Red snapper and Bluefin tuna (we'll get to why they should be avoided in a minute). For sustainably reasons let's save them for a special occasion.

Fish You Can Feel Good About Eating

Wild Atlantic Salmon
Phosphate Free Scallops
Wild Tilapia
Wild Flounder
Wild Black Bass
Wild Skate
Wild Catfish

Fish Who Are Currently Over-Fished
Here's a list of currently over fished fish:
Chilean Sea Bass
Red Snapper
Bluefin Tuna
Atlantic Halibut
Spiny Lobsters from the Caribbean (California raised are fine)

Fish High in Mercury
Sword Fish (which could actually go on the above list too)
King Mackerel

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kawaii- 2706 Avenue U Brooklyn, NY 11229

I'm always on a search for some good take-out. Avenue U is loaded with tiny little eateries but few worth mentioning. Now it's no coincidence I stumbled upon Kawaii located 2706 Avenue U Brooklyn, New York 11229, it happens to be the very same address which once belonged to my restaurant the Power Grill. Although we occupied the space for quite a few years I have yet too see a restaurant last there more than 6 months.

Although Kawaii looks like it may closing from the outside ( I have no idea hat happened to their sign), don't be fooled. Kawaii has totally renovated the space and I must say it has a very nice cozy decor. The staff are always accommodating. The food has been consistently good, makes for a good neighborhood spot.The portion size on the rolls is fair  and run between $3.50-$10.00 per roll. I was glad to find Kawaii scored an A on their latest Food Inspection. A few of my favorites sushi rolls are:

The Bay Ridge Roll- spicy tuna with crunch topped with fresh avocado
The Bay Ridge Roll

The Pacific Roll- seaweed salad w/ avocado inside and topped with fresh salmon (yummy)-

Pacific Roll

The Fantastic Roll- shrimp tempura with spicy tuna, avocado & white seaweed (it's fantastic)

Fantastic Roll  priced at $8.50

The Mind Eraser-  shrimp tempura topped with avocado and caviar.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Warm Couscous Salad with Kamlata Olives, Scallions & Herbs

No matter how much time you spend slaving over cooking the entree,isn't it always the side dish most people are excited about? At least for my fiance it is, he always winds up skipping the entree and filling up on the sides! To add an element of surprise to my dinner parties, I like playing around with couscous. Couscous is a teeny tiny bulgar wheat that cooks up in 5  minutes!!! Yes, 5 minutes. It takes more time to chop up the ingredients to put into the couscous than it does to cook it.

There is an endless variety of ways to prepare couscous. A recent favorite is my Warm Couscous Salad with Kalmata Olives, Scallions and Herbs. The salty brine of the olives paired with the mellow bite of a scallion and finished with a burst of fresh herbs makes for an exciting side dish, your family will love!

Jen DePalma's Warm Couscous Salad
3/4 cup of quick cooking couscous
1 cup of vegetable broth
2 tbsp of olive oil
1/2 cup of pitted & chopped kalmata olives
1/4 cup of chopped scallions
sprinkle of fresh herbs (parsley, tarragon, basil & mint)

Heat stock in saucepan
When Boiling add in couscous and oil, cover, remove from heat
Fluff with fork, Add olives, scallions & herbs
Serve with your fish or chicken- it's especially great with lamb

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Roast Chicken w/ Sage & Sensational Stringbeans

Let's face it, after making dinner night after night it's easy to run out of ideas. But don't pull out the take out menus just yet. My Roasted Chicken Thighs with Sage and Sensational Stringbeans is a pefect weeknight go to meal  and not mention very nutritous. I love chicken thighs they're so juicy and tender. If you're looking to save a few calories just take off the skin after cooking, you'll have all the flavor with way less fat. The sage perfumes the chicken with an out of this world flavor that makes something as simple as chicken thighs spectacular. We all know Simple to Spectacular is what I'm all about.

Now let's give have a round of applause for my Sensational Stringbeans. Traditionally, you see sauteed stringbeans with garlic and olive oil- yes very healthy but again I'm watching my calorie intake during before my wedding. I use a few drops of heart healthy extra virgin olive oil and pour in some unsalted vegatable stock for a low fat flavor boost. I also toss in some vivacious vitamin packed red bell pepper and top it with toasted whole wheat panko breadcrumbs for crispy crunch that packs a punch. Trust me this is a dish your family and figure will love you for!

Jen DePalma's Roasted Chicken Thighs with Sensational Stringbeans
1 lb of organic free range chciekn thighs
1/4 cup of dijon mustard
1/2 cup of low sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp of chopped sage
1/4 of any type of dry white wine

Preheat oven to 425 degress
Whisk together dijon, soy sauce and sage - pour over chicken
Then pour in wine allow to marinate for 15-20 minutes
Place chicken in broiler pan cook 20-25 mintues or until cooked through

Jen DePalma's Sensational Stringbeans
2 lbs of stringbeans
1 red bell pepper sliced
4 cloves of garlic sliced
3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of vegatable stock
1/4 of whole wheat panko breadcrumbs

To large saute pan,  add oil and garlic
Light brown garlic  add in string beans after 3 minutes add in pepper
Season with Salt and pepper- add in stock cook 5-7 minutes

In a separte pan, toast breadcrumbs
Serve greenbeans top with breadcrumbs and enjoy!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fried Flounder

Fish Fridays here at NYC Cooks and today I'm rediscovering the Italian family classic- Fried Flounder. It's one of my fiance's favorite dishes. A really easy recipe with really great results. The fish is actually pan fried, we're slightly covering it with just enough oil to cover.

Flounder, not a "fishy tasting" fish at all. Actually no fish should smell or taste fishy, it could mean the fish is spoiled. Some types of fish are more mellow than others. Take our friend the flounder a really low key kind of dude; which makes for a pretty agreeable choice amongst most palates.

The classic Fried Flounder I'm preparing today is lightly breaded then fried and served up with a few slices of lemon wedges for a Simple yet Spectacular meal. They key is not to overcook the fish. A thin  fillet cooks in about 4 minutes, anything over starts browning the breadcrumbs leading to a burnt taste. The light golden brown crust is what you want to achieve, it's also really important to frequently change out the oil between batches. Changing out the oil, when it becomes too dark is essential for golden goodness. Go on, give this recipe a try and tell me what's you favorite fish to fry?

Jenny's Fried Flounder
1 lb of flounder fillets
2 eggs beaten plus 1 tsp of garlic pwoder, 1 tsp of paprika, 1 tsp of onion podwer and 1 tsp of black pepper
2 cups of breadcrubs
Vegetable oil for frying

Season fish with salt and peppe
Dredge fishin seasoned egg mixture
Drop into breadcrumbs- bread each side
Heat Oil to 375 and pour just enough oil to lightly cover fish
add fish to hot pan cook 3 minutes per side and enjoy

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Arroz con Frijoles

Celebrating my Colombian side, I bring you my favorite comfort food- Arroz con Frijoles better known as rice and beans. I remember being around 4 yrs old and my mom placing me on the counter while she stirred her pot of rice and beans. Till this day this side dish is served up in my house at least twice a week. No matter how full I am, I can always make room for a second helping. Possibly explaining my chubbiness as a kid.

Sure enough I've put my own twist on this classic dish- I like working some turkey ham into my recipe which differs from the traditional pork commonly seen in most recipes. Other variations on the dish include serving up a bean sauce over a bed of white rice, equally as good but I'll save that recipe for another time.

Today, I'm bringing you my favorite version of this one pot wonder. Really, it's a complete meal in itself- you have your starch, protein and veggies all in one. You can leave out the meat all together for a vegetarian version it's totally up to you. Top it with shrimp, BBQ chicken or with Fried Fish- any way you serve it I hope this dish is enjoyed in good health and with a happy heart.
Viva Colombia!

Rice and Bean's Jenny Style
1 cup of white rice
1 can of small pink beans
1 small onion chopped
1 small tomato chopped
3 cloves of garlic mnced
1 cup of water
1/4 lb of turkey ham diced
1/3 cup of sliced spaninsh olives
3 tbsp of vegetable oil
2 tsp of paprika

Heat oil in pot
Saute onion on med heat (5 minutes)
Add in garlic, paprika and tomato (cook 5 minutes)
stir in chopped ham- cook 3-4 minutes
Add in rice - cook 3 minutes
Add in water- a (cook 10 minutes)
When water has 1/2 evaporated addd in beans with their liquids and olives
Cook 10 minutes or until rice is dry and cooked through

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Applebee's Sheepshead Bay

Just the other night my fiance and I were looking to get out, have some drinks, good food and most importantly stay local. Local for us means South Brooklyn, where I reside and so we figured Applebee's Sheepshead Bay- at least they have parking! Seriously people, parking is hard to come by in Brooklyn so for all those up and coming restaurateurs before choosing a location in BK think about this- how's the parking? It has more of an effect than you might first think.

 Now my first thought is Applebee's? I've been to the Flatbush Avenue location and truthfully have yet to have a good experience there. The food was so bad my coworkers and I now call it "Crapplebee's"!

 Let me tell you, the Sheepshead Bay Applebee's located at 2505 Emmons Avenue is a whole different story! Expect a wait, it has a great location with a view of the bay so yes it is very packed. The food was surprisingly delicious I'd say better than delicious it was great!. I ordered the Sampler Trio and picked the following three appetizers: Wonton Chicken Tacos, Steak Quesadillas and my all time favorite Spinach Artichoke Dip with Tortilla Chips.

The Wonton Tacos- they were so cute! A crispy fried wonton folded in half and shaped like a taco then filled with chicken marinated in lime and cilantro- my personal favorite flavor combo.
The Steak Quesadillas- soft, cheesy quesadillas, filled with seasoned steak that was buttery and delightful. We order our quesdillas without onions (my fiance hates onions) and they were just as tasty.

The Spinach Artichoke Dip- my past experience with Applebee's spinach artichoke dip was having it taste super salty, kinda of runny and lacking true artichoke flavor. This time the dip was just right- extra creamy, nice pieces of artichoke and chopped spinach for a cheesy, melty dip that holds up perfectly to the the crispy tortilla.

The Cowboy Burger: A manly sized burger topped with crispy onions, melted white cheese, apple smoked bacon and topped with BBQ sauce for a rustic burger that packs bang for your buck.

Applebee's Sheepshead Bay I got nothing but good things to say!!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Coconut Ciroc

It's early March and although spring is right around the corner today's NYC temperature high  is only 40 degrees while I'm writing this post it's only about 32! Over the weekend I came across a new and exciting flavored vodka from Diddy's brand Ciroc- Coconut Ciroc. It smells more like a bottle of Hawaiin Tropic tanning oil than vodka! The taste is sensational.

I'm pretty excited about all the new flavored vodkas hitting the market.  Diddy's Coconut Ciroc is off the hook! There's no other way of describing it other than a Hawaiian getaway in a bottle. Personally I take mine on the rocks- no mixers here. I'm fantasizing what an excellent martini this could make say some coconut vodka, pineapple juice and a touch of coconut milk - now doesn't that sound tempting!! Have you tried Coconut Ciroq and how are you mixing it up?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bocconcino di Langa

Bocconcino di Langa one of the cutest litte cheeses I have ever seen. This petite creamy,tangy/sweet goat cheese is produced by Caseificio Dell'Alta Langa in italy. It's especially important to serve this cheese at room temperature to allow the creaminess of this cheese to come through.

I was in a very country mood this morning and decided I was going to whip myself up a farmer's omelet as I like to call them- organic free range eggs, fresh herb mix (chives, tarragon, parsley) and my star ingredient Bocconcino di Langa. Well let me tell you this recipe is one for the books! The creamy texture of the cheese whipped into the lights scrambled eggs and then perfumed with the fresh Heb's- it was like I was swept away to an Italian countryside without ever leaving Brooklyn!! What fabulous breakfast have you whipped yourself lately??

My Country Omelet                      

2 organic free range eggs lightly beaten
2 oz of Bocconcino di Langa
Handful of fresh herb mix (tarragon, parsley and chives)
2 tbsp of butter

Add butter to heated omelet pan
Add herbs and cheese to eggs
Pour mixture in pan, lightly scramble 2-3 minutes
Serve on English muffin or your favorite artisan bread!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Wild Flounder with Sun Dried Tomatoes

It's Fish Fridays here at NYC Cooks and as promised I will keep bringing you my fave recipes for items purchased at Eataly.With my wedding less than 2 months away (omg,omg) I'm leaning towards lighter meals these days . I picked up some gorgeous sun dried tomatoes while at Eataly and some amazing wild flounder today, I put 2 + 2 together to = 1 Fit and Fabulous meal!

The great thing about flounder is that it's super light and ultra delicate. The perfect guilt free dish for the bride to be. The sun dried tomatoes add tons of deep flavor to an otherwise blah fish. Flounder is to seafood what vanilla is to ice cream, it kind of goes with anything, great for the picky eater- a pretty mellow fish I might say. I love it because it's just what I should be eating in the weeks before my fitting!!

Try my light yet luscious wild flounder with sun dried tomatoes and tell me what all you brides to be out there are doing to look extra fabby on your big day?

Wild Flounder with Sun Dried Tomatoes
1 lb of wild flounder
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
6 sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Season fish w/ salt and pepper
Add lemon juice, top with tomatoes
Place fish in oven to cook for 8-11 minutes or until cooked through

Thursday, March 3, 2011

GUS -Grown Up Soda

GUS, Grown Up Soda, in continuation of my Eataly finds I bring you GUS. I first found this amazing Grown Up Soda at Eataly. It's truly amazing story goes the the creator Steve Hersh grew up with a dad who added seltzer to his drinks such as juice to cut the sweetness and in 2003 Steve Hersh and Jeanette Luoh brought the drink to life.

My personal favorite is the Pomegranate it's fizzy not too tart/not too sweet and oh so couture- this really should not be called "soda"! So far I can only find GUS at Eataly, have you been able to find this great stuff by you??

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

EATALY- part 2

Yesterday, I told you all about the latest treasures I picked up while at Eataly. I'd now like to show you how I'm using some of these simple items to make spectacular dishes. All week long I'll be showcasing my personal recipes and teaching you how to put these fine ingredients to good use!

My whole culinary point of view is Simple to Spectacular, I love taking simple ingredients and turning them into sensational  dishes that steal the show.

Today, let's talk Parmigiano Reggiano. I picked up a hefty hunk from Eataly's fabulous cheese arena and am putting it to fantastic use. Truthfully, I enjoy shaving off a few slices of the cheese, pouring a glass of Chianti and calling it a day because this cheese is a diva, and does a fine job on all her own. When I manage not to eat the whole thing, I also enjoy shaving it a top salads, pasta, foccacia or my favorite bowl of lentil soup.

This is my mom's recipe for Lentil Soup and honestly I have yet to taste a recipe better than her's. My mom's lentils are creamy, flavorful and keep you coming back for more. Mom's lentil soup was a staple on the menu at my restaurant The Power Grill, customer's just could not get enough. To take this recipe to a whole other level, I top it with the Parmigiano Reggiano- it is truly sublime!

My Mom Maria
 My Momma's Lentils
2 cups of dried lentils
4 cups of water for
2 tbsp of olive oil
2 small potatoes diced
3 cloves of garlic chopped
1/2 small onion chopped
1 tomato chopped

Soak Lentils in water over night
In saute pan, sweat onions and garlic in oil 3-5 minutes until soft
Add in tomato cook 2 minutes
Add veg to lentils, toss in potatoes, season with salt and pepper- cook 45 minutes on medium heat or
until creamy
Top with Parmigiano Reggiano and Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Eataly Treasures clockwise, Imported E.V.O.O., Parmigiano Reggiano aged 24 months, Proscuitto de Parma, & Imported Olives Lo-Carb never looked so good!
NYC COOKS, how can we not discuss the hottest culinary debut of Mario Batali's Eataly. A gourmet super world of fantastic imported Italian goods such as fresh cream butter, pasta, cheeses, chocolates coffee and more. To a chef like me it's heaven on earth! A beautiful thing! I have been to Eataly several times thus far and have a few favorite items I now pick up every time. On my latest venture I grabbed some Proscuitto de Parma, a chunk of 24 months aged Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, imported Italian Olives packed in herbs and oil,Cristalli di Sale (Salt Crystals of Trapini) and some of that imported hand churned fresh cream butter I told you about before! The dishes you can create with some basic, pure high end pantry items is unreal.

Eataly's Meat Market
Imported Italian Tomatoes
Every time I walk into Eataly I become so inspired, the wonderful variety of top quality produce and meats, the place is absolutely phenomenal and pricey! Although it is expensive I must say they are not priced higher than any other gourmet market and for the quality of ingredients you are getting- I find Eataly to be pretty fair! A true paradise for all my pisans!