Saturday, August 28, 2010

How To Make Kefi’s Shrimp With Orzo and Tomato

Psilakis signature dish gained rave reviews from everyone - diners, food experts, food critics and food bloggers and some people asked for the recipe. Grub street did a good job this week and found it, and after getting permission from his publisher, posted it on line. Here it is for Fully Booked:




This is a one-pot meal that should take, at the most, 15 minutes to throw together. The results, however, would suggest otherwise. This dish is also a great example of the interesting combination of fish and cheese. Historically, the Greeks have had a long love affair with cheese, and it is used in many dishes where it would be absolute heresy in other cuisines. I’m sure after trying this recipe, however, you’ll side with us. Of course, I am a little biased.

16 U-15 shrimp, peeled

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

1 ½ cups orzo

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped

3 shallots, finely chopped

9 whole scallions, thickly sliced

½ cup water

3 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 ½ cups smooth tomato sauce or puree (or a good, store-bought marinara)

¼ cup Garlic Puree (page 264)

¾ cup crumbled feta cheese, divided in half

6 cups baby spinach leaves (about 8 ounces)

Small handful torn fresh herbs, such as dill, mint, and/or parsley

Extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 275 [degrees] F. Season the shrimp with kosher salt and pepper.

Cook the orzo according to instructions and toss with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Reserve, keeping warm.

In a large, heavy soup pot, Dutch oven, or wok, warm the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over high heat. When the pot is very hot, add the garlic and shallots, and sauté for 1 minute. Add the scallions and shrimp, and sear for 30 seconds. Add the water, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and Garlic Puree. Cook for 2 minutes and remove the shrimp to the reserved orzo. Continue to reduce the liquid until the mixture has thickened (2 to 3 minutes), and season with salt and pepper.

Place a serving bowl in the preheated oven for 2 minutes to warm.

To the pot, add the orzo and shrimp, half of the feta, and the spinach, and toss to combine. As soon as the spinach has wilted (about 1 minute), transfer to the preheated bowl.

To finish, scatter the remaining feta, the fresh herbs, and a drizzle of olive oil over the top.

Reprinted from the book How to Roast a Lamb by Michael Psilakis. Copyright © 2009 by Michael Psilakis. Reprinted with permission of Little, Brown and Company.

Market - Exchange and don't be lonely!

"market," an interactive installation at chashama 266 by Audra Wolowiec, invites individuals to participate in an intimate micro-economy by brining garments to be altered through the process of exchange. Located in the Garment District of New York City, this site-specific project stems from a desire to connect with people and draw attention to the labor embedded in the garments we wear.

What does it really mean for you? Just bring a piece of clothing, tote bag or something similar and leave it at the hands of the artist. She will have a piece from a second garment cut, transferred and sewed on yours and that second garment will get the corresponding piece of your clothing! When you will go to pick it up you will see the other person's name on the tag . It's just a cute way of exchange in this busy, fast and expensive world we are living. This gesture is simple, nice and different.

To participate, please visit the space during open hours and remember to bring an item of clothing. Participants will kindly be asked to leave their garments on display throughout the duration of the project and can retrieve them when the show closes on September 7th. The artist will be available for exchange daily from 11am - 6pm.

Where: Chashama 266
266 West, 37th street, New York, 10018

When: from today to September 7th, open daily 11am to 6pm - the gallery will be closed September 1st and 2nd.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Messy Food is still attractive

All of us envy food stylists for their super-cool job. The following WSJ article will make you feel even worse. Especially if you have an office job and the only relationship you maintain with food is through the virtual world....

Monday, August 23, 2010

North Carolina BBQ Sauce: Eastern or Western?

During my recent trip to North Carolina, I ended up learning not only about fried green tomatoes and sweet teas but also about the culinary differences between the Eastern and the Western parts of the State. I am not talking politics or regional issues - it's all about their rather unique taste in BBQ Sauce.

So, the Eastern is the spicy sauce that is made from vinegar, crushed hot peppers and salt. On the other hand, the Western BBQ sauce is sweet and is made from vinegar with the help of tomato sauce and sugar. They both dress amazingly the mouthwatering chopped barbecue in an elegant rather way - the Eastern makes it "spicy" and the Western soft and sugary but excellent in the mouth. For the curious, I offer both recipes below (found on the web after some decent research). So, pick the one you like more and go for it!

THE WEST goes first:

• 4 cups cider vinegar
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 1 1/3 cups ketchup
• 1/4 cup butter
• 2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce (e.g. Tabasco™)
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
• 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
• 2 teaspoons mustard powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper


1. Place the vinegar, sugar, ketchup, butter, hot pepper sauce, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, mustard powder, salt, and pepper into a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 30 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Remove from the stove and pour into a heatproof bowl. Cover, and refrigerate the sauce for 2 days.

2. Strain the sauce through a mesh sieve to remove the red pepper flakes. Store the sauce in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.
The EAST follows:

• 2 quarts cider vinegar
• 1/4 cup salt
• 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
• 3 tablespoons red pepper flakes
• 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce

In a large bowl, mix together cider vinegar, salt, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes and hot pepper sauce. Stir until salt and brown sugar have dissolved. Cover, and let stand at least 3 hours before using as a basting sauce or serving on meat.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Healthy Food and Green Festival - August 22nd

The Healthy Food & Green Festival is the second festival in JapanTown's three-part series that will take place on August 22nd, 2010. Promoting a healthy lifestyle using Japanese ingredients and cooking methods, the festival aims to enlighten New Yorkers about the many wholesome foods and flavors of Japan and how to incorporate them into American kitchens, ultimately increasing the understanding of Japanese culture through food. Starring in the festival are the flavorful offerings from international Japanese brands and local restaurants.

The Healthy Food & Green festival's main attraction is the Essence of Japanese Cuisine demonstrations sponsored by JRO (Organization to Promote Japanese Restaurants Abroad), whose mission is to teach the world about Japanese food culture. The demonstrations will feature the many versatile ways to utilize Japanese ingredients in everyday life and will be hosted by Chef Billy Strynkowski of Cooking Light magazine, Chef Fred Sabo of the Met Museum's Trustees Dining Room, Jenna Zimmerman, an Assistant Culinary Producer from the Food Network, and veteran chefs of Japanese cuisine from Tanuki Tavern, Sushiden, Souen, and Hakata Tonton.

Demonstration Schedule

11:00 AM Introduction

Healthy Home Cooking (by Billy Strynkowski)

What is Umami? (by Chef Fred Sabo)

11:15 AM Dashi & Umami

How to Make Miso Soup/How to Use Miso  (by Marukome USA) *Free tastings!

12:00 PM Sushi

How to Make Sushi (by Koji Kimura of Sushiden. Cooking materials by the Japanese Culinary Center)

12:45 PM Okonomiyaki

How to Make Okonomiyaki (by Otafuku) *Free tastings!
1:30 PM Healthy Cooking

by Masaki Nakayama, chef of Tanuki Tavern and Japanese healthy cooking professional

2:15 PM Mentaiko

What is Mentaiko (by Exec. Chef Koji Hagihara of Hakata Tonton) *Free tastings!

3:00 PM Macrobiotic Food

by Hirokazu Yoda, Exec. Chef of Souen

3:45 PM Soybeans

How to Make Hiyayako Tofu (by Chef Fred Sabo)

Tofu Cooking (by Chef Fred Sabo)

When: Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

11 AM - 6 PM

Where: Midtown, Madison Avenue between 43rd and 45th Streets

Mimosas and Muffins for Free!

Blue Sky will be hosting this free brunch at 11:00 at Bergen Street Comics in Brooklyn with free mimosas and muffins. Also a special, LIVE recording of The Ink Panthers! podcast. Join Alex Robinson, Mike Dawson, and special guest Panther, iFanboy’s Josh Flanagan.
When: August 22, 11AM-2PM

Where: Bergen Street Comics

470 Bergen Street

Brooklyn, NY, 11217

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Introducing BEANITOS - the Bean Chips

Admit it. You are on a gluten free diet for over a year but you feel a little bit bored with it.  Corn cakes, gluten-free oats, rice and quinoa are all fine but when it comes to snacking you have forgotten pita chips, crackers and grilled crunchy breads. If you belong to this group of dieters, the newly launched in the market BEANITOS will give you a nice, tasty break. Those chips are made from beans and they are yummy. They are gluten free but also corn free (!) and low glycemic. They are currently offered in two flavors: Black Bean Chips made with whole black beans, whole grain rice, pure vegetable oil and sea salt. Ingredients of the Pinto Beans and Flax  include whole pinto beans, whole brown flaxseeds, whole grain rice and sea salt.

Where you can find them? You can buy them on if you don't have a Whole Foods Super Market close to you. Some specialty stores carry them as well. Click here for more information:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tasting wine in Newport, RI

Despite the number of times I visited Newport, RI, I haven't  visited the local wineries. This time I had to change my habits, booked a cab and got to Newport Vineyards, the largest in New England. I arrived minutes before the tour at 1pm and the store was buzzing with positive energy, loud laughs and anxious to taste wine visitors. This 60-acre vineyard is family-owned by Paul and John Nunes and produces 20,000 cases of wine a year - a big jump from the mere 2,000 of the early days. Their wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks and oak barrels and the harvest season starts this year the last week of September (due to cooler climate compared to other wine areas).

I tasted their award winning Newport Riesling, with floral and mineral aromas, rather on the sweet side but very pleasant indeed. I also had sips of the Tranquility, a rather unique blend of Gewurztraminer, Muscat Ottonel, Pinot Gris and Riesling. This was the Gold Medal Winner at the Fourth Annual Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition, spicy and light, perfect for summer nights as a cocktail but a good pairing with cheese. I was intrigued by the Bellevue Blush rose, a 100% Niagara wine, semi-dry, fruity and grapy. I had two more wines to taste so I went for the Newport Merlot, a rather light red with blackberry flavors and dark-ish color. The Rochambeau was my last choice, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Landot Noir, a very easy to drink spicy red even for the summer.

Without being an expert on RI wines, this first visit was a good start. I am sure more will follow!

For more information visit: Tours start daily at 1pm and 3pm, cost $10 and include a tasting of five wines. You also keep the glass!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Cooking Sous Vide

Steak in Sous Vide

I found about Sous Vide cooking a few years ago personally from Thomas Keller during the NY Restaurant Show and his presentation. I admit that I was ignorant but Sous Vide cooking has only been popular for the last ten years or so. Sous Vide literally means "Under Vacuum". It was originally used in the early 70s to minimize product loss when cooking foie gras. Today, many chefs endorse this unusual method of cooking. With this technique, food is vacuum-sealed in a pouch and then slowly cooked at gentle temperatures.

But why chefs cook Sous Vide? Because foods become tender and they don't lose their colors, nutrients and texture. With Sous Vide, you cook food at the temperature you want for the entire piece: no piece is overdone or underdone. If you roast for example beef in an oven at 400 F, by the time the center of the meat reaches 125 F, the outside is overdone. So, Sous Vide is the answer ....

What is best to cook with Sous Vide? Any food that benefits from precise, low-temperature cooking is suitable for this method:

- Prime cuts of meat

- Delicate shellfish

-Fish fillets

-Root and bulb vegetables


-Cream bases (sauce Hollandaise, crème anglaise)

What will you need to cook Sous Vide?

- A vacuum sealer, chamber vacuum sealer

- Sous Vide immersion circulator

- Food-grade plastic bags

- Stockpot or any other container

Best temperature used is below simmering water. The highest temperature is 185 F for vegetables. Proteins are usually cooked in a range from 138 F to 160 F.

Salmon fillet being cooked with Sous Vide

All of the above are rather pricy (only the immersion circulator costs around $800) which makes it non-practical for household use. I would say that Sous Vide is a marvelous technique for restaurants and chefs but not for the average house cook. But if you would like to experiment and you have the cash, go for it. It is fun and definitely much healthier than frying or boiling.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Brooklyn Winery

Brooklyn Winery  hosts Open House “Hard Hat” Tours twice a week.

What you do and see during the open house tours:

-Exclusive access to the winery during renovations – hard hat included

-Hear about the plans for Brooklyn’s first winery and winemaking center

-Ask Brooklyn Winery co-founders about the winery and making your own wine

-Meet their winemaker, Conor McCormack

If you’d like to secure your spot for the fall winemaking season, BW will be happy to take your barrel reservation during your visit!

Fridays from 5pm – 7pm

Saturdays from 12pm – 5pm

Come by Brooklyn Winery any time during these hours to get the Open House “Hard Hat” Tour experience. Reservations are suggested, but not required.

For more information and to RSVP, click here:

Brooklyn Winery
213 N. 8th St. between Driggs Ave. and Roebling Ave.
Williamsburg, BK

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Flavors and Tastes from Istanbul

My trip to Istanbul lasted only four days and that was enough to get a first idea of what street foods in that part of Turkey is about. Although I didn't do in-depth research due to limited time, I took some interesting pictures to show off my culinary adventures but I admit I haven't tried everything I photographed. So, be moderate judges!

Simitçi, the Turkish bagel or Greek koulouri - a white bread with a slight sweet taste that is an everyday snack. Better than the above I compare it to.

Despite the heat and the humidity, Turks like their warm chestnuts on the street!

The little sugar bowl for your tea! Cute, isn't it?

Street food is diverse in Istabul so you can even find muscles with lemon...

Steamed and grilled corn is another street delicacy...

Chicken kebabs...pure pleasure in the eye and mouth...

Ad of the unique and historic Kanlica Yogurt

Scenes from the Egyptian market...Spices

Dondurmas vendor - it's a sticky and flavored ice cream...

Colorful dry fruit...

And some mixed nuts

It may look the cutest little salad but it was so spicy - the waiters do not ask if you like hot peppers, they just take it for granted...

Turkish delight or otherwise the Turkish Viagra!

Chef in full action making baklava...

No comment...

"Dessert" window shopping...

And finally, the cutest chocolate kiosk for you to admire and look for a piece of chocolate just now!