Monday, December 6, 2010

My First Love Affair Recipe

Now Paula Deen loves herself some butter but she's not the only one. It might be a Southern thing but I too have had a love affair with that sexy, delicious hunk. It started when I was a young girl.  From the moment we first saw each other, it was love at first sight and I knew I was in trouble. 

Like any romance it didn't start off bad. First, you're swept off your feet. You can't believe how happy you are together.  Then before you know it the obsession sets in and you can't get enough. You slowly start to go crazy. You know it's wrong and everyone tells you to stop but you just can't. You sneak around, plot and connive just to find ways to see them until one day you wake up. Or maybe you don't. Either way, once you do finally realize what a hole of a mess you're in, you recognize that you need to get yourself out and fast. You climb through withdrawal, guilt, regret, sadness, yearning, anger, and resentment. And if you're like me then you'll probably fall in the hole a few more times before you come to the final stages of acknowledgement and getting over it.

But my first tastes of love, were incredible. On top of warm dinner rolls my sexy hunk sat there beautifully melting at the sight of me. As I bit into that flaky bread, I was engulfed with his creamy, salty goodness. Everything was better when
 butter was around. And it was no secret that we were fond of each other.

Then it started to go downhill. I couldn't wait anymore until dinner time for our daily rendezvous. I wanted more. I grew impatient and came up with a plan. As soon as the coast was clear, I tip-toed through the living room into the kitchen and opened the door that housed my sweet, amazing companion. My mouth watered as I relished in the events that were about to ensue. 
Whispering gently, "Yes. I've been waiting a long time for this. Oh you're looking better than I remember." And as I sunk my teeth into the wonderful, fluffy, flavor enhancer I felt like I was in heaven. Our own personal heaven. I closed my eyes and enjoyed every moment. Then I heard a creeeak.

"What was that?" - I said to myself.

 bom. bom. creeeeak.

"Oh no. Someone’s coming." I hurriedly threw my loved one back into our love nest, a.k.a the
butter drawer. I bolted through the kitchen to the living room nearly running into the sliding door. I jumped over the back of the couch like I was Flo- Jo and hid. 

“They're going to know." I thought to myself in a panic.
"What do I do?"  The only solution I could come up with was the quintessential admission of guilt when you are a kid, pretending like you're innocently sleeping. Come on. I know you all have done it too. Don't judge. 
As I was lying there trying to keep my eyes shut. I began to breathe a sigh of relief when I heard the refrigerator door open. I had a bad feeling the jig was up.

"What the --- " I hear my mother exclaim.
"Aisha. Aisssshha."
 Meanwhile, I'm on the couch trying my hardest to keep my eyes closed. I hear the footsteps coming closer. My personal Achilles heel was slowly about to lead to my demise. You see ever since I was little, when I know I am about to get in trouble I awkwardly, and uncontrollably laugh. Which inevitably, has always resulted in my parents saying: "Oh. You think this is funny." followed by harsher punishments. Recognizing this flaw about myself early on, I tried my hardest to keep from laughing.

I hear the footsteps coming closer and closer until I can feel my mom breathing over me.
"Aisha. Get up. I know you're not sleeping."
I lay there still trying my hardest to give the performance of the century.
Suddenly, I feel a shaking. "Aisha. Get up."
I slowly open my eyes and rub them. "Oh. Why did you wake me up? I was sleeping."
My mom quickly retorts. "Aisha. I saw you jump over the couch. Did you do this?"
"Do what?" - I say trying to channel those huge doe eyes like the Precious moments dolls.

"This." She whips the butter around from behind her back.
After trying to pin it on my baby brother who was not able to walk yet. I confessed to my affair.
My mom shook her head with disappointment and said. "That's disgusting. Don't do it again."
This made it even more appealing to me. The love affair and secret rendezvous continued.

Like the teacups at Disneyland we kept spinning round and round faster and faster. I tried to be more discreet at first but as it progressed I didn't care anymore. I just wanted my fix. No matter how many times my parents scolded me and looked at me with shame. I still went back for more. Until one day, I open the fridge and I can't find the butter. I scour each shelf, nook and cranny frantically looking for my love. Just then my dad walks into the kitchen. He looks at me and laughs.
"Where's the butter?" I snap back.
"We didn't buy any this time. Since you won't stop eating it."

I was crushed. I started going through the first stage of ending a bad romance, withdrawal. Then I felt guilty that I had been so careless and didn't clean up my tracks. Followed by the rest of the stages including begging and promising my parents that I would “stop eating the stick of butter like it was a candy bar”. Despite all my efforts, I was left loveless. As time progressed, I realized I had a problem and My relationship with butter was never the same after that.

Fast forward to present day. During our weekly meeting at work, one of my co-workers asked if we enjoyed the radishes he brought last meeting. This lead to one of the best and most in depth conversations I've ever had about root vegetables. Another co-worker mentioned eating butter radishes. We all immediately thought this was a new hybrid of a radish.

"Oh is it related to the watermelon radish?" - Someone shouts.
"No. My dad used to always make it. It's literally butter and radishes and chouwmp, chouwmp ,chouwmp." He said.

I love radishes and I love butter but I had never heard of the two together. Normally, when I ate radishes it was part of a Libyan salad that my dad would make. And yes it’s called “Libyan salad.” 

Libyan Salad is a common North African salad and it's really simple to make. It consists of chopped radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes and onions.
Each family’s dressing differs slightly but I make mine with a little bit of apple cider vinegar and parsley. Even though it's simple. It packs wonderful flavor and perfectly balanced texture. It is the perfect complement to spicy and hearty food.


Well, I was inspired by this idea of butter and radishes together it was a way to try and re-kindle some of the sparks between me and my former love.  So when I got home I decided to do a remix on the Libyan salad.

Usually this salad is served cold but I wanted to make a warm salad that would be more appropriate for the cold weather. Also, in our meeting a lot of my co-workers expressed a strong dislike for radishes. For me cooking is about creativity and re-invention. I wanted to see if I could design a dish that would take away some of the spicy, unpleasantness that caused my co-workers to wince at the thought of eating a radish. 

I started off by sauteeing, my baby, butter in a pan. Then I added thinly sliced radishes to the pan along with onions, tomatoes, celery, cucumber and salt. At the last second I added in halved grapes for some sweetness and parsley to give some Vitamin C and freshness. Parsley is a major ingredient used in North African cuisine. Specifically, in Libyan cuisine, parsley sometimes replaces vegetables. The reason for this is Parsley is packed with Vitamin C, which makes it a really great substitute for certain vegetables that may not be available in the region.

It was absolutely fabulous. I had some leftover rotisserie chicken breast and I made a honey glaze to put on top of it. I paired both of these up with a side of cous-cous. It was a delicious meal that only took 15 minutes to make.

I must admit It was also a tad bit therapeutic because it was the first time I used butter as a star ingredient instead of a flavor enhancer. But don’t worry, I haven’t started eating it as a candy bar again…..

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Rocking Horse Cafe -I Like The Way It Hurts - Chelsea NYC Review

I love spicy foods. I definitely get it from my Daddy. His obsession with spicy foods has been well known in our family since before I was born.

At Rocking Horse Cafe, which has become one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, located in Chelsea, NYC, They have this one dish called Carne Guisado that I crave. Translated from Spanish Carne Guisado means Meat Stew.

Now, It may sound a little deep but for me food triggers sensory memories. Sometimes of joy, sometimes of pain.  Oddly enough, Rocking Horse Cafe's Carne Guisado reminds me of a bad romance.

Salsa Rojo with Tortilla Chips

Guacamole with 3 relishes & warm handmade corn tortillas

I went with my friend Mike. We started off with the Guacamole with 3 relishes. Duck cracklings, pickled shallots, and Papaya Pico De Gallo. It was incredible! Each relish added a different and complimentary flavor to the creamy guacamole.

Take a look at the picture below... It's okay I'll wait. Look at how creamy that guacamole is.

Guacamole with 3 relishes & warm handmade corn tortillas

The duck cracklings were a trio of sensuality; salty, crunchy and fatty. 
The pickled shallots added a wonderful crunch and acidity that cut the creaminess of the guacamole perfectly.
The Papaya pico de gallo was an unexpected treat. It was simply out of this world and a must try. The sweetness added the perfect finish to this appetizer. 

Bistec en Recado herb marinated Cedar River Farms natural hanger steak with garlic mashed potatoes, red wine escabeche

My friend Mike had the Bistec en Recado. Translated from Spanish it means Seasoned Steak.

He really enjoyed it. Of course I had to have a taste, in the name of research. And I must say, It was a very well balanced dish. The addition of olive oil was very clever because it cut the acidity and the heaviness of the steak perfectly.
The steak was very moist, wonderfully seasoned and had a nice grilled flavor. The fried onions provided a welcomed sweetness and crunchy texture. The garlic mashed potatoes were muy delicioso.

They also had Escabeche, which in this case was referring to a pickled hot pepper. But it can also refer to a different dish, called the same name, that is popular in Mediterranean and Spanish cuisine. The later version of Escabeche is a seared fish is marinated in a vinegar and herb sauce and then served either cold are at room temperature.

Carne Guisado jalapeño braised brisket in rich tomato-lime broth over garlic mashed potatoes

Carne Guisado jalapeño braised brisket in rich tomato-lime broth over garlic mashed potatoes

I ordered the fiery, Carne Guisado. Before I bite into it I see what I am about to get myself into. I feel the anticipation of the impending heat. I get excited about the tempestuous journey I am about to embark on. I see and smell the danger, the element of unknown. Will I be able to handle it? Will I like it? All these thoughts pulse through my mind.

I take the first bite and the heat creeps up slowly, teasing each taste bud on my tongue, carrying the spice further and deeper into the crevaces of my soft and vunerable mouth. I lick my lips and the pain sets in. The dull heat engulfs my senses and causes me to exhale and wince. It's really hot but I don't want to stop eating. With the heat brings so many complex flavors of smokiness. Ah, the rush! The Thrill!

 I am drawn in by the creaminess of the mashed potatoes, the acidity of the lime; and in that moment, the tomatoes, jalapenos, and succulent brisket melt in my mouth. They gather together like a phoenix making its nest before self combusting. My taste buds are blinded and changed by this heat. The taste becomes something different. And As the flavorful phoenix goes up in flames, new flavors are reborn from it's ashes. There is a brightness and a darkness to this dish that keeps you wanting more. Just like a bad romance.


HOurs           BRUNCH
Saturday and Sunday 11am - 3:30pm

Monday - Friday 12pm - 4:30pm

Monday - Thursday 5pm - 11pm
Friday - Saturday 5pm - 12am
Sunday 4pm - 11pm


                   Appetizers: 6.95 - 9.95
Main Courses: 15.95 - 22.95
Desserts: 6.95

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Oh You Fancy Huh -- Fancy Food Show

{Janovic Convention Center}

{One of the Many Rows Of Booths... Ahhhhhhh.}

One of my friends hooked it up and got me tickets to the Fancy Food Show. It was amazing. I did not want to leave. I was scoping out corners in the Janovic Convention Center where I could pitch a tent and live. And can you blame me for not wanting to leave? 

The Fancy Food Show gives vendors a chance to showcase their Fancy Food Products to potential buyers and other colleagues in the food production business. There were samples of all different types of food and drinks from all over the world. There were snacks, drinks, teas, candies, pastas, olive oils, nuts, chocolate, desserts, I could keep going on and on but I think the pictures speak for themselves. If you get the chance to go next year you should definitely do it!! 

A Taste Of Chile

{Salmon Ceviche}

The Salmon Ceviche was so fresh. The chopped red onions, celery and red bell peppers added a nice crunch. The tartness of the lime coated and complimented the sweetness of the salmon perfectly.

A Taste Of Argentina

{Argentinean Olive Oil}

It was very rich and had notes to it just like a fine wine.

A Taste Of Texas

{Incredible Salsas and BBQ Sauces}

A Taste Of Greece

{All Different Types of Cheese From Greece}

A Taste Of India

This booth was in the India section. It was a mother and daughter team. They were serving Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Korma and Chicken Vindalo. They sold Sauces and frozen packages that you just heat and serve. I loved the concept and the flavors of the sauce but my sample was still frozen.  Ick.

{Chicken Tikka Massala, Chicken Korma, Chicken Vindaloo}

A Taste Of France

Although there were so many delicious desserts to choose from. I decided to go with the Mango Mouse with a Mango Sponge cake and Strawberry Gelee.

{Mango Mouse Cake}

A Taste Of My Childhood

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love, love, love Jelly Belly, Jelly Beans. My mom still gives me a huge jar from Costco of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans every year for my birthday.

{If you look behind the Chocolate Cake. 
You will see the red top and that's the Jar of Jelly Beans I get every year.}

So when I stumbled upon this booth I stopped and stared for a few minutes. Then I looked down and saw this

It took all my strength not to carry the whole cardboard container filled with those beautiful Jelly Jewels out with me. I took one, okay two packets with me and turned the corner. I could not believe my eyes. My two favorite candies of all time right next to each other.

When I was in 5th Grade, my teacher Mrs. Acra found the perfect way to get me to be an A student in Math. Math was always my hardest and least favorite subject. But in her class for every test you got over  90% as your grade, you got to choose a Sunkist Candy. Let's just say I have never had such high grades in math ever. 
Ah. I remember reaching my tiny, lanky hand into her clear plastic jar. The plastic wrapping on those sugary, gummy delights would crinkle under my finger tips making the most amazing crunch sound. As I reached for my lovely red companion, a symphony of colors - green, yellow, and orange would dance gleefully in my hand. As I unwrapped my sweet taste of victory, my mouth would water ever so slightly. I would gently tear and pull back the wrapper. Then I would lick the sugar off the tip. After it was a littly wet I would sink my teeth into it's gummy wonderland, enjoying every morsel. 

A Taste Of Innovation

If you like to cater your own parties at home. Then you should definitely check this product out. They are savory cones. They come in all different flavors but the most popular are Garlic, Sun- Dried Tomato and Basil. I tried the Garlic Cone with Babaganoush. It was really good and extremely convenient.

When I go to dinner parties or catered events it's always such a spectacle trying to get the dip on the chip. Well with these cones you get the best of both worlds. Since the dip is placed in the cones you don't have to worry about getting your hands dirty trying to shovel out the good stuff. Also, you don't have to worry what kind of rare bacteria are incubating in a cest pool of deliciousness. Another plus side is you get to really enjoy the dip. Just like when you're eating an ice cream cone and anticipating til

A Taste Of Britain

A Taste Of Teas

A Taste Of Italy

{Rotini Pasta with Basil, Sun -dried Tomatoes}

The pasta was cooked perfectly Al Dente and the Sun Dried tomatoes were bursting with a depthy sweetness and a pungent after bite. The basil added a wonderful freshness and the Feta Cheese rounded off the sample creating the perfect sweet - savory bite.

{Olives - That's Amore}

{Vinegar Shots Anyone?? }

A Taste Of Peru

{Chocolate Covered Delights with Peruvian Chocolate}

{Chocolate Covered Quinoa}

I hate Quinoa. I love Cous-Cous but I hate Quinoa. The texture just drives me crazy. But then I stumbled upon Chocolate Covered Quinoa and I had to try it. I must say I was pleasantly surprised, in fact I loved it. This is on my list of desserts to make. So simple yet elegant. I especially like how they displayed the product. This wonderful treat would be perfect for dinner parties, goodie bags, kid's lunch or just a nice snack. And if you like Quinoa then you're really going to love this. And you can make it at home.

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