Tag Archives: recipe

Dining Downtown: Stella San Jac

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I live a pretty good life, and as a blogger I’ve been to some very amazing events.

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Though all places I have visited have been incredibly kind, I do have to tip my hat to the wonderful folks at Stella San Jac for the super-cool night they gave me last night.

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The newly opened restaurant, housed in the Westin, brought a ton of local bloggers in for a happy hour with some complimentary appetizers, and even a cooking demo! (More on that later. Actually, seriously, the straight up video for you below.)

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The space was gorgeous, and the food was delish! (Who says ‘delish?’ Oh god, did I just say ‘delish?’ Sign me up for pink sweaters, and tennis lessons STAT.)

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Naturally, I ventured to the bar. (Me?!?!? BAAAAAAAAR????) I asked if there were any happy hour specials, and the bartender replied, “Every hour is a happy hour.” I like it! He poured me a glass of rosé that I was convinced would cost $2508582094821, but it was only $8.66, so you know what? He was right! Every hour is happy hour when good wine is fairly priced.

 

Now, for the biscuits! If you check out my amazing-super-awesome-cinematography (sarcasm) video above (it was Periscope) you’ll see a demonstration from the chef on how to make his famous #16 Biscuits. He calls them ’16’ because it took that many tries to perfect the recipe, and they’re reportedly good enough to make low-carbers crumble. Fret not, dear reader, I crumbled not (“Not today, Satan!”), but I plan to soon. I spent most of my night eating his delicious salmon spread, and put all of my carbs in through pink wine.

Low-Carb Pizza Crust

lowcarb-pizza

I know being low-carb isn’t always easy, and there are some vices, such as pizza, that people really miss. Sometimes I sauté a bunch of vegetables and cheese in a pan, then pretend it’s pizza without the bread. It does the job for me, but I got really curious when I heard that you could make a crust out of straight up cauliflower (one of my favorite veggies).

low-carb-pizza

With my new food processor, I decided to embark on this cauliflower pizza crust journey, and I would definitely say that the results are pretty great, though not necessarily something I would say is ‘exactly like pizza crust!!!’ but still pretty dang tasty.

low-carb-cauliflower

To make it: grate half a head of cauliflower using a food processor, or a hand grater (if you’re a masochist!). Using a paper towel, try to get as much moisture out of the cauliflower as possible. Otherwise, you’re going to get mush. Add 1 egg, a handful of shredded parmesan cheese, and mix together. Spread this on a lightly oiled pizza pan, and bake at 425 for about 10 minutes. Once it begins to look a bit golden, pull it out and add the toppings you desire. Bake for another 10 minutes or so, and you should have a delicious low-carb pizza! I used pesto, tomato, jalapeño, olives, mushrooms, and even the kitchen sink in mine. ;)

My Most Requested Recipe: The Best Pho You Ever Had, That Also Happens To Be Low-Carb & Vegan

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Believe it or not, there’s been a recipe that those-in-the-know have requested from me since long before I became a food blogger. The recipe came about due to my (at the time) obsession with low-calorie items, and veganism (also, at the time), which doesn’t matter. I had straight-up friends that were first generation Americans that loved the recipe (shout out to Mellie!), and I have yet to make a ‘bad batch,’ despite the fact that I kinda/sorta wing it every time. (You’ve been warned: My instructions are, as per usual, not 100% clear on measurements.) Know this: My pho is good, and you can tweak it to your meat-loving heart’s desire. If you’re vegan? You’re welcome!

pho

I never said this recipe was authentic, but it more than does that job. To start, you’ll want to procure:

  • 1-2 lemongrass stalks
  • 2-3 star anise
  • 1″ of ginger (peeled, sliced)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or dash of cinnamon, sometimes I omit it and just use the star anise by itself)
  • 5-10 mushrooms (your preference, and these are what gives the super-meaty taste to the broth)
  • protein of choice (chicken, beef, shrimp, tofu)
  • soy sauce
  • green onion
  • cooking oil (I do a blend of chili, toasted sesame, and vegetable, but that’s not super important)
  • noodles (I use the 0 calorie shirataki, you can use regular – depends on your carb preference)
  • vegetable (or beef or chicken) stock
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 an onion
  • jalapenos/thai chilis
  • cilantro
  • basil
  • lime
  • sriracha and/or garlic-chili sauce
  • and the super optional Chinese 5 spice powder

pho-toppings-oil

Let’s start by sautéing the star anise, ginger, garlic, and onion. You kind of want to burn it, honestly. Don’t char it until it’s unrecognizable or anything, but definitely put a black edge on those ingredients. Once you have that done, in your delicious chili oil blend (or regular oil!), you can add water to the pot and a bouillon cube or 2 of the stock of your choosing. Turn the heat up on a separate burner, and sautee your chosen protein in oil (again, I like to use chili/toasted sesame). Add the mushrooms and remaining ingredients (sans noodles and toppings such as: green onions, herbs, peppers) to the pot of broth. Let it all cook together for as long as possible; I’d say 20 minutes at a minimum, but I can vouch for making this, saving the leftover (half a pot) broth for the next day, then adding more water and having excellent results.

pho-bowl  ≈

If you’re using shirataki noodles, just follow the instructions on the pack, and add them to the broth when ready. The same goes for any other type of noodles, really. Shake some soy sauce into the broth, and don’t be shy. I know most would say you should have drained the ingredients out of the broth, but I prefer to enjoy the sliced ginger, and pieces of garlic in my soup; use a slotted spoon to remove the inedibles (star anise, lemongrass) before serving. Add copious amounts of sriracha, basil, lime (go easy), cilantro, and peppers. Voila!

Sensational Side: Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus

bacon-asparagus

I know what you’re thinking: What’s the easiest possible side dish to bring to Thanksgiving? One that makes it looks like I put in a lot effort, when I really just slapped 2 ingredients together, and made them look and taste phenomenal without breaking a sweat? 

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At least that’s what I was thinking.

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This dish makes a great low-carb side, and it’s excellent as a party snack. Simply take a bunch of asparagus, and a few thinly sliced pieces of bacon (I sliced mine vertically in half), and wrap the bacon around each stalk. Spread a bit of olive oil on a baking pan, and bake at 400 for about 20 minutes, or until you see that the bacon is done. If you’re using thinner stalks, you may want to cook for a shorter amount of time. That’s it!

Broccoli Bacon Cauliflower Cheese Soup

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I’ve been doing the low-carb thing for almost 8 months now, and the results are great. Sure, there are days when I have a little way too much wine, and my weight goes up a bit, but all in all I am consistently shrinking my waist. One of the biggest downsides of the diet has been that I find myself eating eggs constantly, and I do mean constantly.

 broccoli-bacon-soup

 I was recently craving something that didn’t come from a shell, and recalled the pureed soups I used to make back in my vegan days. I was always amazed at how something could come out so silky and creamy without the use of milk (dairy or otherwise) or cream. I decided to take the idea of a decadent ‘baked potato soup,’ and combine it with the low-carb, veggie-packed elements of those blended soups.

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One of the greatest things about this recipe is its versatility. You can make it vegan/dairy-free if you want, or load it up with cheese and bacon if that’s more your style. It’s very low in carbohydrates either way, and a decadent tasting treat that you can add spinach, and other nutrient packed items to.

   broccoli-bacon-soup-cheese

You can even eliminate the greens, and go straight for the cauliflower for something that more closely resembles a baked potato in a bowl. Essentially: you do you on this soup. ;)

broccoli-bacon

Ingredients:

Fistful size floret of caulilfower

Large broccoli Crown

Enough vegetable/chicken stock to barely cover vegetables

3 cloves of garlic

1/2 white onion

3 slices bacon

Salt and pepper to taste (I add cayenne)

Cheese (I mix 2 different kinds: cheddar and a white cheese made for enchiladas, but anything goes)

Optional: spinach, parsley, jalapeño

Instructions:

Cook the bacon over low/medium-low heat. Boil the stock, and add one of the pieces of bacon to the stock when it looks about 3/4 of the way done. Add the vegetables (chopped) and cook until soft. Remove bacon when it is finished and drain on paper towel before cutting into bite sized pieces. Once the vegetables are soft, remove pot from heat and use immersion blender to puree until smooth. If this mixture is too ‘liquidy,’ add more cauliflower/broccoli and cook until soft, then puree again. Ladel into bowls, garnish with a sickening amount of cheese and bacon in each. I’d recommend a good dose of salt (after tasting) and pepper. Pasley also works well, if you have it.

Beer Pairing: Central Market + Brooklyn Brewery

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Nothing says summer quite like burgers and beer, but Central Market decided to take it one step further with a multi-course beer pairing featuring selections from the acclaimed Brooklyn Brewery.

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It was admittedly my first time at the Central Market Cooking School, but I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. We were provided with menus, recipes, and an in-depth guide to the beer that we were about to sample. First course: Grapefruit, Asparagus & Pecorino Salad paired with Brooklyn Pennant Ale ’55. The Brooklyn Brewery representative, a very experienced brew master, mentioned that this beer was English-style, and my English partner agreed.

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Next up, we learned how to prepare Lobster Chorizo Pasta. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s lobster that is cooked alongside chorizo, and not some mysterious, new seafood-sausage dish. The beer for this plate was the Local 1, a delicious Belgian-style beer that’s fermented inside the bottle (like Champagne!). This was probably my favorite thing both food and drink-wise of the night.

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After further stuffing ourselves with burgers and Brooklyn Summer Ale, we moved on to a presentation on how to prepare Lamb Scottadito, meanwhile learning the proper way to taste beer between each plate.

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The lamb was served with a dark, brown ale; a contrast to the East India Pale Ale that we were about to sample both inside and outside of our crepes.

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The final course came around, and surprisingly we didn’t explode before it arrived. The crepes themselves had beer as an ingredient, and we were taught the short, but painstaking process it takes to prepare such a delicate dish. The beer proved to not be painfully hoppy, which was a pleasant surprise. If you’d like to catch one of these dinners near you, be sure to check out Central Market’s website. And if you don’t have a Central Market nearby, you’re still sure to have easy access to a delicious array of Brooklyn Brewery beers.

Swedish Potato Leek Soup Recipe

Swedish Potato Leek Soup
I don’t often cook, hence every other blog post being about restaurant happy hours, but a long time ago, in a far away land (back when I lived in England) I learned how to make an especially delicious, inexpensive soup. My live-in Swedish boyfriend at the time had his mother, Ragnhild, teach it to us. We ate it often.

Potato Leek Soup Ingedients
 It had been so many years that I was a little murky as to what ingredients it contained. I went ahead and bought:

Salt
Black Pepper (get the kind you crack)
Heavy Whipping Cream
Vegetable Bouillon
3 Leeks
 Bag of Potatoes
(Don’t worry about the onion or garlic shown, I remembered that they’re not part of it before we began.)

Thinly Sliced Potatoes
I accidentally made a runny mess, then corrected it (I’ll give you tips on how to avoid that at the end of the post). Here’s a run down on how to do it the right way from the start, feel free to play with it and adjust quantities to suit your needs. I’ve made it for 1 before, using just 2-3 potatoes (it did make more than 1 serving, of course). The key is having barely any water covering your vegetables. I mean that. Not even 1/4″ or the consistency will be that of water. Take these directions lightly and adjust accordingly:
1. Peel and thinly slice 9 medium sized potatoes
2. Add potatoes to about 2 quarts of boiling water (with about 3 bouillon cubes)
3. Cut the leeks almost in half lengthwise from just above the base to ends, rinse with warm water until dirt is removed from the the inner leaves
4. Thinly slice leeks. I like to use it all the way up to about halfway through the dark green parts
5. Add leeks to the boiling potatoes and reduce heat, simmer until soft
6. Test potatoes to see if they are easily mashed, then manually mash in the pot (you should probably have the heat on low at this point)
7. Add a whopping dollop of heavy whipping cream
8. Lots of salt and pepper to taste. An extreme amount of fresh black pepper is my favorite way to enjoy. 
I recommend letting each person season their own bowl, since not everyone likes it the way I do.
Very Thick Soup
As I mentioned before, I did make a slight error on my first go at making the soup today. Here’s a run down of where things went awry: 

6 potatoes, 2 leeks, and over 2 quarts of water (way too much water!)
I corrected that by taking 3 potatoes and 1 leek into a separate pot with a little vegetable bouillon. Once boiled, I drained them and added them to the original pot and mashed. The soup was then perfect! And you’ll note that I adjusted the amounts in the “proper directions” at the top, but the important thing is to test and adjust on your own. There’s not really a proper science to this dish, so don’t take the amounts too literally.


I hope you enjoy!