One of my favorite ways to spend a Sunday afternoon is to cook up a small storm in the kitchen. Because I live alone, I will also cook recipes that freeze well so I can enjoy them later.
It was a cold snowy Sunday in Chicago, so I felt some turkey chili was in order. I don’t really follow a recipe for chili any more, but the one that inspired mine is the Williams-Sonoma chicken chili recipe using ground turkey breast. I’ll use a mix of pinto beans and kidney beans in the turkey.
For seasoning, I’ll use the chili con carne blend. I get this blend from The Spice House which is a family owned spice merchant in Chicago. They literally have hundreds of spices that you can buy in as small as ½ an ounce. They have several of their own blends and many great baking spices (including 6 kinds of cinnamon!).
After cooking the turkey, I’ll add the beans, roasted peppers and onions, tomatoes, and spices and let it cook over low heat for 2+ hours. The flavor intensifies the longer it cooks and is even better the next day! I love chili because it reheats quickly and freezes well, so I froze half the batch to have a few weeks later. It’s great to bring for lunch at work and reheats in just a few minutes in the microwave.
Chili would not be complete without corn bread! I make my cornbread in a cast iron skillet, which gives it a great texture – moist on the inner edges and crunchy on the top. My recipe comes from King Arthur Flour. KAF is a family owned bakery in Norwich Vermont (I went to Dartmouth, which is across the river from Norwich). KAF has become my favorite baking website and many of the recipes I use are from there.
As a side, I made a vegetable risotto. As a runner, I can never get enough carbs, and I do not particularly enjoy pasta. I’ve been perfecting my risotto over the past 6 months. During the summer months, I would go to the farmers market and buy lots of fresh vegetables and cook them into a light summer risotto. In the fall, I’d make one with butternut squash with apple cider for an autumn flavor. The one pictured is tomato, spinach, and pepper. Due to it being winter, I used canned tomatoes and frozen spinach. A couple of keys to the risotto – you want to add the liquid slowly and at a medium simmer – not too hot (you can scortch the rise) and not too cold (its mushy). The risotto should be slightly runny when its finished.
Finally, for dessert I made oatmeal raisin cookies. I love oatmeal raison cookies. My favorite recipe is adapted from the Silver Palette by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. This would be, hands down, my favorite cookbook. The one that’s dog eared and covered in sauces. (and Berta’s carrot cake is to die for!)
The only changes I make are to double the cinnamon use molasses + white sugar to make brown sugar. I think those two subtle, but significant changes add a little kick to the cookies!
12 Tbs. of salted butter, plus extra for greasing the cookie sheets
1.5 c. granulated sugar
1 Tbs molasses
2 Tbs. water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbs ground cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
3 c. quick-cooking oats 1 c. raisins
Make cookie dough: Cream the butter, sugar, molasses until fluffy. Add the egg and beat thoroughly. Mix in the water and vanilla. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda; add to the egg mixture and mix well. Add the oats and raisins, and mix. (I find the cookies spread less if i refrigerate the dough for a bit, scoop the hard dough and press them down a little bit) Use a large cookie scoop and bake on greased cookie sheets 350 for 15-17 mins until edges are lightly brown.
Have any end of the winter recipes you would like to share? Try any of the recipes here? Let us know in the comments.
Momofuku is really one of my favorite chains in NYC. This is impressive because I have only had two things at their restaurants – the fried chicken and the pork shoulder (bo ssam). I really like community style dining and Momofuku is the only place I have done it in the city. The Bo Ssam is an experience that should be enjoyed among good friends. They start by bringing you their regular menu incase you want to add anything extra to your meal. PLEASE take my advice and don’t even look at the menu. There is NO need to order anything additionally. Once you get over that nonsense of adding any more items to the meal they place the order for the bo ssam to the kitchen.
Prior to bringing out the bo ssam they bring out bowls of warm white rice and a dozen raw oysters, a bowl of lettuce wraps and four sauces. The sauces are kimchi, kimchi paste, a Chinese BBQ sauce and scallions. When the bo ssam is carried out prepare to be awed. It is an entire pork shoulder cooked to perfection. They bring out tongs for everyone (you should strategize to sit in the middle of the table) so that you can serve yourself the pork. The correct way to eat it is with your hands in the form of a lettuce wrap. To make a perfect lettuce wrap requires patience and all the ingredients – white rice, an oyster, your choice of the four sauces (I use them all) and the pork. You may find yourself questioning the combination of raw oysters, pork and rice but just do it.
For the next hour if your friends are anything like mine no one will speak to each other until the first person taps out and is suffering from pork coma. I have taken part in a bo ssam dinner twice and neither time did we finish the entire pork shoulder. Don’t worry about skimping on the sauces, lettuce or rice because they will continue to bring them out until the pork is done.
The star of the night is the pork. The skin is crispy, juicy, sweet and delicious and the meat is pull off of the bone tender. The other ingredients help to make it a meal but I can sit there and eat the pork on its own and be perfectly content. I have read a bunch of reviews complaining about the price (it is $200) but divide that by the 8 or 10 people it feeds and you are going to pay about $40 per person for an insane amount of food. It is well worth it in my standards and I will continue to take part at least once/year.
I HIGHLY recommend doing a bo ssam with a group of friends. Check out Momofuku’s site for reservations and keep in mind that they are booked up to three weeks in advance. Try to make an earlier reservation, this meal is too indulgent to eat late at night.
Most amazing pork I have ever had
Awesome group dining experience
You need to have at least 7 friends that love pork as much as you do
Rating: 5/5 Stars--DBlock
Meatball Shop is a place that was on my bucket list since it opened. The concept is genius, an entire restaurant dedicated to serving various kinds of meatballs. Honestly I never order meatballs out… ever. I am bias, there are about four people in my family that all cook better meatballs than the ones I have had at restaurants. There is no reason for me to order meatballs except to be disappointed. When I heard about The Meatball Shop I thought maybe finally there would be a Manhattan Rival to my family’s version.
We arrived around 9pm on a Sunday and had to wait for 90 minutes to be seated. The interior of the restaurant is kind of small and the tables are long and cafeteria style so get ready to sit with strangers. The laminated menus are fun and you use a small marker to check off what you want to eat (this is a cool concept). There were about six of us so we each got something different and got to try a ton of the meatballs and sauces.
I ordered 3 sliders for myself each without cheese and with a different choice of sauce:
Classic Beef – Spicy Meat Sauce
Spicy Pork – Classic Tomato Sauce
Veal – Classic Tomato Sauce (the veal was the special of the day)
My friends ordered a couple of bowls of balls to split for the table including the chicken, vegetable and tried the mushroom gravy and parmesan cream sauce. We ordered a bunch of sides and I tried the risotto & spinach, which were both very good. My friends’ favorite sauce was the parmesan cream sauce (they raved about it but I don’t eat dairy).
The meatballs were okay but definitely did not live up to the hype. The sliders did not have enough sauce on them and I tried to compensate by dipping in the bowls of sauce that came out with the other orders but the bread did not soak up the sauce like normal Italian bread does. The meatballs themselves were the right size but the meat was not totally mixed through and contained large chunks of garlic and was not as tender as I like (I don’t think they use white bread in the mixture, probably just breadcrumbs). The beef was a bit bland and the sauce was not that spicy. The spicy pork was definitely my favorite and the tomato sauce was flavorful. I thought the veal would be my favorite when I ordered it but it ended up being my least favorite.
The A La Carte balls are served with focaccia bread and I did not like this choice at all! Meatballs should be served with a rustic Italian bread. The focaccia was not a good pairing for the sauce and everyone ate the leftover sauce with a spoon rather than with the bread. One of my friends ordered a hero which was served on what they call a baquette that by far looked like the best option.
I do commend Meatball Shop for the unique idea, affordable prices and charming atmosphere but overall I will not be back. If you don’t mind the long wait it is worth a try.
Nothing like homemade
Poor bread choice
LONG wait times
Overall Rating: 2.5/5 Stars (docked a .5 for the wait)
Recommended Dish: Hero with Pork balls & Classic Tomato Sauce on white bread--DBlock
So this week introduces the first in hopefully a bi-monthly series, Feature Fridays. If all goes according to plan (and I can find enough guest bloggers) on the first and third Friday in every month I will be turning over the spotlight to a fellow NYC foodie. This week as our first guest blogger I am introducing Katie and welcoming her review of Hop Devil Grill, one of her favorite spots in the East Village. I’ve only been once but didn’t eat one thing I didn’t like! Turning it over to Katie:
One of my favorite spots in New York City is Hop Devil Grill. I found this Southwestern/Mexican gem almost immediately after I moved to the East Village 2 years ago. It’s on St. Marks between avenue A and B. I can’t remember exactly why I first went, but maybe it had something to do with their nightly specials. My personal favorite is Sangria Night – 64oz pitchers of Sangria every Wednesday for $10! I realize many bars have nightly specials, but Hop Devil Grill’s are definitely worth mentioning.
Mondays: For Monday’s, we have $5 Picklebacks. Jameson speaks for itself, but out pickle juice is from Essex Street Pickle Guys! You know it’s good. Also, $15 pitchers of our STRONG Sweet Tea. It is a blast.
Tuesdays: Taco Tuesdays we call it. Have a great, authentic Southwestern style taco for $1 each. Unlimited at the bar or a dining room table. The deal of the century.
Wednesdays: Sangria night! Our famous brandy infused Burgundian nectar for $10 per 64 oz pitcher. Just watch it, these tasty sangrias can get you hammered!
Thursday: Tostadas Night! NYC’s finest tostadas for just $1 all night. Recession? What recession?
Sundays: In keeping with our recession busting specials, get $10 Liters Olde Saratoga Lagers or Saratoga IPA at the bar, and 50% off of all our tasty burgers. Now those are deals
Now, on to the real reason I’m writing about Hop Devil Grill. The Nachos.
I love a good plate of nachos..
..And HDG’s are AMAZING. They’re possibly the best I’ve ever had for a few reasons. First, the tortilla chips. They’re thick and extra crunchy which helps them stand up to the massive amount of toppings.
Which brings me to the second reason – there aren’t many nachos where you run out of chips before you run out of toppings – this happens here every time. And, my favorite thing about these nachos is the homemade cheese sauce. Hop Devil Grill makes their own queso sauce on-site, spiked with jalapeños so it’s slightly spicy, but nothing you can’t handle.
This melty goodness tops the crunchy chips, followed by lettuce, guacamole, sour cream and a super- fresh pico de gallo. You can also add a protein- ground beef, chicken, or steak. We always opt for the classic ground beef which is A++.
It’s important to note that I believe the place is under new management and sometimes they put shredded cheese on them instead of the queso now. If you go I highly suggest you request the queso!
Hop Devil Grill is a bar, but they have exceptionally good food. Everything I’ve eaten here is very high quality.
- Southwest Chicken Sliders – Spicy chicken, cheddar cheese, crispy bacon, caramelized onion and chipotle remoulade. Delicious but salty.
- Any fajita – comes out sizzling
- Tostadas – and for $1 a piece on Thursdays you can’t go wrong
- Sangria – red is my favorite
- BBQ chicken wings (on the new experimental menu, a solid BBQ wing)
AND to top all of this off here are some other perks:
- They keep at least 25 tasty beer choices on tap along with several tequilas
- It’s a good spot to watch games with several TVs
- Affordable prices and casual, fun atmosphere
- Not for those on a diet
- Gets really crowded during big sporting events
- For a Mexican place, they have bad margaritas