The Best Things I Ate This Year – Brooklyn Style

Christmas with my family.

Christmas with my family.

I kind of “fell off” my blog…for years ::crickets chirping::  I have been eating and enjoying like crazy for the last several months. I am only mildly embarrassed that I can no longer fit into my jeans. Anyway, I have decided to enjoy and eat what I want until the New Year, after which I will reign it in and go back to healthy eating (and enjoying a treat meal once a week).

The best things I ate this year (in no particular order):

Tyler Florence’s “Ultimate Lasagna” – My family tested this recipe out on Christmas. We don’t really have a set Christmas menu, so we kind of put together a mish mosh of items. Previously, I was a die hard fan of Ina Garten’s lasagna recipe, however, Tyler’s recipe is truly ‘ultimate.’ I think the cinnamon is the key ingredient. Recipe can be found

Fried Chicken – From Blue Ribbon . Bet you never thought the best chicken you’d have was at a bowling alley! I tried this fried chicken at Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This chicken was perfectly crispy on the outside – I believe I heard “as crispy as a potato chip” in a description as my cousin shoveled a drumstick into his face – and nice and juicy on the inside. This chicken was not greasy at all, and coupled with a round of beer – hits the spot. Almost makes the almost two hour wait to bowl worth it. Almost.Try it here.

Ramen Burger – I knew something was up when I saw that the longest line at Smorgasburg was for Ramen Burger. Ramen Burger serves a juicy burger with the bun made from ramen. Genius! Love ramen. Love burgers. The end.

Lamb Burgers – Can you tell I like burgers? New York Times magazine did a feature on burgers. I wanted the recipes but was too cheap to purchase the Sunday issue and instead used my iPhone to take photos of the recipes. A girl’s gotta eat right?! I will share my version of the recipe with you. 1 1/2 lbs ground lamb. 1 small onion, minced. 1T toasted cumin seeds (can sub cumin powder if that’s what you have).  1T toasted sesame seeds. 1T chili powder (I use 1t of homemade Indian chili powder sent from relatives in India (which contains other seasonings such as garlic and salt) . Mix with your hands, but don’t overmix. Place on the grill and cook to medium rare, or medium (really medium rare, I’m just pretending you can enjoy it another way). Enjoy on toasted buns (like Martin’s Potato Roll). Top burger with a little cilantro and perhaps a little tzatziki.

Cronut. Dominique Ansel’s played, but oh so freaking delicious doughnut dessert. Get them now. I don’t think people are selling them on the ‘black market’ for $50 anymore. Tejal Rao tweeted about these “one ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.” It’s mine! My precious.

Tuna Dumplings – at Ki Sushi (Brooklyn, NY) Lobster salad, avocado and crunch with spicy sauce, wrapped in paper-thin tuna. Rich and light at the same time. Served on a bed of salad. An oldie, but a goodie. Perfect for a weekday lunch.

Lobster Roll – Red Hook Lobster Pound (Brooklyn,NY) . You can pick these up at their food truck, at various street fairs they participate in, or at their location in Red Hook. These lobster rolls aren’t cheap at $16. I prefer the Connecticut roll with warm butter and lemon. Filled with chunks of lobster. Wash down with a nice Allagash White.Glug, glug, glug.

Coconut Velvet Cake – Piece of Velvet (Brooklyn,NY).  We used to frequent Brooklyn’s famous Cake Man Raven. He once made a cake for President Bill Clinton! Anyway, I guess the rents got too damn high and his workers lifted his (publicly available) recipe when he could no longer afford the rent and opened a place in the very same spot. Anyway, the new location for the original Cake Man is kind of out of the way, and against my better judgment, we go to the its competitor (PoV). I get the coconut velvet cake. It’s an unholy shade of green and covered with cream cheese coconut icing. Usually so moist (I will admit there have been times it has been dry). They sell gigantic slices for about $6 each. Best enjoyed Sunday evenings with a glass of wine (maybe a late harvest Riesling or even Prosecco) while watching Homeland. This will prepare you to face Monday. Trust me.

Capocollo Pizza – Saraghina (Brooklyn, NY). This Bed-Stuy eatery serves pizza that dare I say rivals Brooklyn greats like Totonno’s and Di Fara (I have yet to try Lucali or Roberta’s). Don’t kill me, but I think it may be true! No need to wait, just come on down to the home of Jay-Z, Biggie, and now me! Prosciutto & Funghi is m next fave.

Nutellasagna – Robicellis (Brooklyn, NY). Creator Allison Robicelli describes it as “layers of buttery lasagna noodles, cannoli custard, copious amounts of Nutella, crushed roasted hazelnuts and chopped chocolate, with some marshmallows on top for additional sweetness.” ‘Nuff said.

Berenjena Torta AKA Eggplant Sandwich – The Taco Truck (Jersey City, Hoboken, Morristown, NJ). Great for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. This sandwich is creamy, rich, crunchy, spicy, flavorful and so much more I can’t describe. At $8.50, not exactly cheap (in my mind for a weekday lunch), but so worth it. Follow them on Twitter so you know where to stalk them the truck is located.

Okra Fries- The Cecil (Harlem, NY). Came here for NYC Restaurant Week (don’t judge), these fries were perfectly crispy, crunchy and salty on the outside and soft and gooey on inside. How do I make these at home? This is healthy right? Okra is a vegetable and it’s green!

Fish Sauce Wings- Pok Pok NY (Brooklyn, NY). Juicy, tender, sticky and spicy. I will admit, I licked my fingers a few times. Of course I washed my hands before and after.

I could go on, but the memories may make we want to go eat more. 2014 – it’s been great!

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The $14 Chicken

Months ago my work bestie told me about the “best chicken” she “ever tasted” – Griggstown Chicken. Griggstown is a small farm in/around Princeton, NJ.  I ignored her. There was no way that I was going to pay $14 for a chicken, and a small chicken at that!

I have always scoffed (been too cheap to buy) at the prices of all natural (antibiotic and hormone free) free range chicken. I don’t need to pay all that money for something I don’t even like! Chicken is my least favorite meat.

THEN, one of my favorite food blogs Serious Eats published a recipe for “Perfect Roasted Chicken.”I bookmarked the recipe and kept it moving.

A few months later, they republished the chicken recipe in their top recipes of the year recap. Apparently more people bookmarked that recipe than any other recipe Serious Eats had posted that year.

Today, I bit the bullet and purchased a Griggstown chicken. One of the first things I noticed that it wasnt super wet like the other brands I usually purchase (Perdue and Tyson). It was very easy to dry the chicken.

The skin crisped up beautifully with salt alone. The chicken was flavorful and juicy. My coworker was right – this is the best chicken I have ever tasted.

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Easy Samosas

Samosas are perhaps the most famous Indian appetizer.  I did not grow up eating samosas at home, but always enjoyed eating them when we went to visit our local “little India” aka Edison, NJ for groceries.  Who doesn’t like a deep fried snack? I have a bit of a fear of deep frying after having seen the scars of many aunties who have been splashed by the oil in one cooking mishap or other.  My solution, and also the secret to making these samosas quick and easy, is to use puff pastry and bake the samosas.

 Easy Samosas

  • 2 boxes frozen puff pastry (I use Pepperidge Farm brand), thawed
  • 4 yukon gold potatoes (or any medium size potato you like), boiled until just cooked, peeled, small chop (about 1/2 in cubes)
  • 1 package frozen peas
  • 1t cumin seeds
  • 1/2t  chili powder (karam)
  • pinch turmeric powder
  • 1/2 onion, small chop
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1T canola oil
  • salt to taste
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • flour for rolling out the pastry

1) Heat the oil on medium flame. Add cumin seeds and cook until they become fragrant, don’t burn them!

2) Add the onion and garlic and fry until onion becomes translucent and begins to turn a golden color – about 5 minutes. Make sure the garlic doesn’t burn or it will turn bitter.

3) Add the frozen peas and cook about 8 minutes until they soften.

4) Add the potatoes, salt, chili powder, and turmeric. Cook another 10 minutes.  Turn off the heat and reserve potato mixture.

5) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

6) Sprinkle some flour over the area where you will be rolling out the dough, so the dough doesn’t stick to your work area.  Each package of puff pastry will come with two sheets of dough. The  dough is folded in such a way that there will be three rows. Let these rows be your guiding point. Roll the rough out a bit, then cut each sheet of puff pastry into 9 squares – cut each row into 3 sections.

7) Put a little bit of the potato mixture onto each square, leaving room around the edges,  Brush two adjacent sides of the square with a little egg wash. Fold the pastry over to form a triangle, then seal the edges using a fork – you will get a sort of a crimped look to the edges.

8) Repeat step 7 for the rest of the squares. Brush a little egg wash on the tops of the squares.  Use a knife and make one small slit in the top of each samosa to let the steam out.

9) Bake the samosas for about 18-20 minutes, or until the samosas puff up and turn golden brown.

Enjoy fresh from the oven.

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Healthy Snack

I made a new discovery – Kale Chips! Sounds gross, but they are actually quite tasty.  I am aware I am late to the game with Kale Chips, but I have cooked with kale perhaps only once in my life. I am more of of  Spinach/Swiss Chard kind of girl.  Next time you are craving something crunchy, pass on the potato chips and try these out.

Kale Chips   serves 2-3 (really 2)

  • 1 bunch curly kale
  • kosher salt (to taste – I used about 1 1/2 tsp)
  • freshly crushed black pepper (to taste)  (I used about 6 turns of the pepper mill)
  • garlic powder (optional) (a couple of shakes)
  • chili powder (optional) (a pinch or two)
  • non-fat cooking spray

special equipment:  salad spinner

1) Pre-Heat Oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit

2) Rinse the Kale with water

3) Tear the kale leaves from the stems into potato chip size pieces (medium to large).  Throw the stems into the trash.  Reserve the leaves.

4) Use the salad spinner to dry the kale leaves.

5) Once the kale is dry, spread the kale onto a cooking sheet into a single layer.  (I needed two pans in order to have a single layer)

6) Spray the leaves with cooking spray.

7)  Sprinkle the salt, chili powder, and garlic powder, and pepper onto the leaves.  (For a simpler chip – just use salt and pepper).

8) Bake for about 12 minutes.

9) Remove from oven and enjoy!


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Summer Cocktails

With Memorial Day around the corner, I thought I would share some easy summer cocktails. Enjoy Responsibly.


This is exactly what it sounds like – mango juice and pomegranate juice.  You can make these virgin or with the booze.

  • 1 part “pom” pomegranate juice
  • 3 parts mango juice (I like to use the kind you buy at the Indian grocery store – Maaza or Looza brand)
  • 1-2 parts rum/coconut rum (optional)

Fill a highball glass with ice and add ingredients. Stir.

Henny and “Coke”

  • 1 part cognac
  • 3 parts coconut water

Fill a lowball glass with ice. Add ingredients and stir. Add a slice of fresh coconut for garnish!

Red Sangria

  • 1 750 ml bottle dry red wine (cabernet sauvignon/merlot/pinot noir)
  • 1 1/2 C Sprite or other lemon-lime soda
  • 1 1/2 C orange juice
  • 1/2 C brandy
  • 2T Cointreau/Grand Marnier/Triple Sec
  • 2 T Grenadine
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 2 T lime juice
  • fresh fruit, chopped/sliced – your choice –  apples, strawberries, pineapples, oranges

Mix, Chill. Serve.

note:  if you use orange slices, add it right before serving. The pith can make the sangria bitter if left to sit. Everything else can be added ahead.


Passoa is a passion fruit liqueur.  These are a few easy cocktails to make with Passoa. Serve over ice.  All recipes are 1 part passoa and 2 parts mixer.

Mixer suggestions: Orange Juice, Mango Juice, Sprite

Real Margaritas

None of those gross mixers. Margaritas are very easy to make – just three ingredients: lime juice, tequila, cointreau or triple sec

  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/2  oz cointreau/triple sec
  • 1 1/2 oz blanco  tequila

Fill your rocks glass with ice, add ingredients, stir! Garnish with a slice of lime. Get wasted. just kidding.

You can rim your glass with salt if you’d like. I opt not to. Or to do just a half rim. You can do this by running the lime around the rim of half the glass, then dipping it into a plate full of salt.  If you want your margarita a little sweeter, you can add simple syrup – maybe 1/4 oz.

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Eating lunch at my desk solves the issue of having to rush through a half hour lunch break.   Another problem presents itself.  What foods are appropriate to eat at one’s desk?  I don’t know if I have burned off all of  my tastebuds, but I seem to really only enjoy spicy (code: stinky) foods.  Garlic, Ginger, Chilies…bring it on.  For some reason, I get the feeling that people don’t want to smell my chicken penang (extra spicy).  The other day, I saw someone eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch.  I felt bad for him.  Is that what it has come to?  Have we reverted back to kindergarten lunches?

I hate sandwiches, well most sandwiches.  I really enjoy bánh mì, which are Vietnamese subs filled with pickled carrots, cucumbers, green chilies, pate, mayo, cilantro, ground pork, and sriracha sauce – stinky (awesome) sandwiches. ::sigh::

Everyday, at around 10pm, I take some time to decide what to bring for lunch the next day.  What can I bring that will be least offensive to those around me?  I think I am obsessed with not being labeled a smelly Indian.  I can’t help it.  Maybe I am.  I enjoy stinky food! I just do my best to try not to smell like it.  Febreze anyone? Chew gum after eating to avoid stinky breath. This week I will be taking leftovers from my judgment day meal extravaganza.  I am also contemplating making roasted vegetable sandwiches.  There is a catering place nearby that serves roasted eggplant and peppers with goat cheese on a toasted baguette.  I am thinking of trying to recreate that.  Suggestions for work friendly food?

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Left Behind

So either the rapture didn’t happen or I got left behind.  I’m going with the former rather than the latter.   I never thought it would happen on May 2 1.  But anyway, back to business.  I had marinated lamb kebobs,  roasted shrimp and orzo and a plum tart – all courtesy of Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa herself.  Was I invited to one of her fabulous parties at her Hamptons abode?  No.  Alas, Ina is quite private (especially after that whole ‘Make a Wish’ fiasco), so I was left to hide behind the bushes and watch Jeffrey and Ina from afar.  Just kidding.

ANYWAY, the Marinated Lamb Kebobs came out fantastic! I took the advice of some of the reviewers on the Food Network website and added some chopped garlic to the marinade.  One change I would make would to be chop a little bit of the rosemary rather than add only whole leaves.

Next up was the plum tart. This was an epic fail.  I dont know what happened.  Apparently I dont know how to pick plums.  I thought choosing a plum that had a bit of give meant that it would be juicy and ripe, when in reality this means you are choosing a discolored and mushy plum.  I thought I had AP flour but instead had to sub whole wheat.  This could be where the recipe went south.  Then the ‘crumbles’ weren’t forming, so I added a little bit of water to help it come together, and instead it turned into a paste.  I plopped all the paste into the bottom of my springform pan (I finally used it!) and hoped for the best.  Although it didn’t look horrendous, the taste was just not up to par.  The crust/crumble was not sweet enough, nor was it crumbly enough.  Also, I was expecting the plums to be juicy and syrupy but instead they looked dried out on the outside. I had a slice or two (don’t waste!) drizzled with a bit of honey.  ::sigh::  If at first you don’t succeed…

Finally, I made the roasted shrimp and orzo.  I have made this before, so I knew it would be good. The recipe feeds an army, so I have lots of leftovers and will be bringing it to work for lunch. Which brings me to my next post…

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