Monthly Archives: May 2010

Simply Sangria

Last week it was 91 degrees in New York City.  I shouldn’t complain – that’s a cool spring day from where I come from.  I do hate the heat but one thing that makes it tolerable is…sangria.

Red wine typically rules in our household, especially in the cooler months.  When the temperature starts to rise, we often turn to a nice chilled glass of rose.  And when we are out of that, we turn to a nice chilled pitcher of sangria – easy to make and a big crowd pleaser.

I have ben making this for years and usually riff on a number of recipes.  I often use an inexpensive Spanish Rioja, always use less sugar than called for and often improvise with the included fruit.  Sometimes strawberries are added, sometimes limes and so on.

I must add that, due to its light and refreshing nature, it has been known to go down a little too quickly!  Consider yourself warned, relax and enjoy!

Here is the recipe…

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Filed under Alcoholic, Beverages

Stumptown Coffee Roasters

It’s coffee mania all up in here.  New York has gone coffee crazy as of late.  Starbucks, which used to be on almost every street corner, is getting some stiff competition from numerous artisanal coffee bars and cafes where coffee and the art of making it is being taken super seriously.  The New York Times recently published an article on the fact that the city is no longer second-string when it comes to finding a good cup.

I, for one, have always taken my coffee seriously.  As in I seriously need a cup or two in the morning.  I prefer it strong, usually make by own, and have nothing against Starbucks, as passé as it has become.

French Press

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Portland, OR for the first time, for the wedding of two very special people.  Portland is home to many wonderful attractions, one of which is Stumptown Coffee Roasters.  I had read about Stumptown and know a few people who swear by their coffee but had never really given it much thought.  Upon checking in to our hotel room, we discovered a welcome basket lovingly prepared by the soon to be bride and groom.  One of the elements in the basket?  A bag of Stumptown coffee – Ecuador Quilanga Reserva.

On the next morning, I visited Mother’s Bistro for breakfast and was given too many coffee options.  After much deliberation and questioning of our server, we finally settled on a French Press pot for two of the Stumptown Indonesia Gajah Aceh.  Stumptown again.  Could it really be better than some of my local favorites?  The short answer is YES.

I then visited the Stumptown shop once a day during my remaining days in Portland.  While there, I bought a bag of this Indonesia Gajah Aceh.  Upon my return to NYC, I purchased my first French Press.  Although I still have my regular, not so artisanal blend, during the week, I now grind my Stumptown to order, alternating between Ecuador and Indonesia, press it and savor it on the weekend.

And the good news is that when I run out I can replenish my beans at the newly opened Stumptown outpost in NYC’s Ace Hotel.  Not that I would mind making a return visit to Portland….

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Filed under Beverages, Non-alcoholic

Pan-Seared Duck Breast

After missing my birthday for the past ten years by weeks, and sometimes months, one of my dear friends surprised me this year with Thomas Keller’s ad hoc at home cookbook.  Last year, after making sure that it was not fried chicken night, we had the pleasure of dining at ad hoc during a trip to northern California.  So, this gift was very well received.

The menu at ad hoc changes nightly and there are no choices.  The $49 four course meal  is served family style in a rustic casual setting by a cordial and informed staff.  The night we were there, we had a Portuguese salad, followed by lamb t-bones, followed by a lovely cheese course, followed by one of my favorite desserts ever, tiramisu.

I want to make and eat everything in this cookbook (except the fried chicken, of course…I’m scarred) but I chose the duck breast for my first meal for a number of reasons: 1) I have never cooked duck breast.  2) I don’t generally like duck breast, or at least I didn’t think I did.  3) The duck breast I have had has been dry and tough.  Perhaps, it was not prepared properly and if anyone can teach me how to do it right, it is Thomas Keller.

ad hoc Pan-Seared Duck Breast

The trick is to score the skin first and then cook it over medium heat for a long period of time.  As the meat cooks, the fat renders and you must drain it from the pan as you go.  Once the cooking time has elapsed and the meat is the correct temperature you pop it into the oven for the last minutes of cooking time.  When the meat is done, measure for the correct temperature and let it rest before slicing.

One word for this one: amazing.

Thanks, dear friend.

Here is the recipe…

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Filed under Poultry

Cardamom Biscotti

Every now and then, M comes up with a cookie that he likes for me to make over and over.  Recently, he has been on a biscotti kick as they are light, essentially fat-free and I suppose they make him feel less guilty about his cookie habit.  The problem with this repetitive baking is that the challenge of trying something new vanishes.  But, his resulting joy and appreciation more than makes up for the fact that I can now make these in my sleep.

I have already posted once on biscotti but this new one, with its exotic cardamom flavor, is so good that I feel compelled to share.  The recipe calls for the baker to crack open cardamom pods, remove the seeds, and crush them.  It’s a tedious, time-consuming task and I suppose one could cut corners and use cardamom seeds or ground cardamom (both of which we have, along with the pods) but I decided to get cracking and husking.  The resulting aroma and flavor is truly special, and I suspect more powerful than what you would get from taking the shortcut.

Cardamom Biscotti

These crisp, crunchy, mildly-spiced cookies make a lovely accompaniment to a scoop of vanilla ice cream or fresh fruit and are wonderful with a cup of coffee or tea.

They are also the perfect ending to a lovely meal in lieu of dessert.  Just ask M (daily).

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Filed under Cookies