Monday, January 26, 2009

Sangria

Throughout my restaurant career I have had the opportunity to work under some of the best chef at the hottest New York City eateries. One in particular that brings back many memories is Nobu- the trendy hard to get a table at Sushi place in Tribeca.

Well one memory that would years later come back to me was late April of 2002. A co-worker of mine hosted her brothers’ birthday party at Nobu. I remember having my head down in the reservation log when this tall sun kissed man with a hint of grey threaded through his curly dark sand hair approached me. His smile had me in a stupor-you ever get caught in a trance and hear everything go on around you but can’t quite put the words in sequence? That was me.

Anyway as the night went on I would pass by his table on purpose so he could catch a whiff of the over indulgent perfume I sprayed several times throughout the night. What was I thinking? I was trying to get him to flirt but really none of that mattered because hello earth to Iman I was very much in love and living with someone.

Fast-forward to 2005 no longer with the man I thought I would marry but out with a guy who was like my homie lover friend (you remember R. Kelly’s 1993 hit? Anyway he’s a whole other recipe maybe 5) when who should I run into; Mr. Kissed by the sun himself. He was with some fellow industry people that we all knew in common. Next thing I know my group of 2 was now a group of 10.

A fight was on that night so we retreated to one of the guys houses that lived close by in Battery Park City, followed by dancing at a trendy night club. During that time I said to myself I have to get this guys number. So on a sly we need to network convo (still with homie lover friend) I exchanged numbers with him. We would lose touch again till mid 2006, where he would visit me at another location I was opening; Sofrito. He’d come in sit at the bar order 2 glasses of sangria, watch me work the room and with a little drunken swagger walk out the door. This would happen a few times a month; the interest was there on both parts but nothing came of it.

Finally one day I invited him to my house to watch some sports eat and chill (my favorite pass time) I lured him in with the promise that I would teach him how to make the Sangria he loved so much. He showed up with all the fixings ready to learn. What was on the dinner menu is a blur because the Sangria was the headliner. I do recall however one of the most romantic evenings of my life.

The TV never went on; after eating we went up to the deck armed with sangria, a couple cigars and blankets to shield us from the slight spring breeze. Our evening which stared at 7pm would spill over till the wee hours of the morning without as much as a kiss. The clear star filled sky evoked dialogue I didn’t know was possible between two human beings. Nothing was off limits.

We still have occasional nights like that but I am puzzled by him. Though our time is great I’m left feeling like we are in eternal friend zone.



SANGRIA
One bottle dry red wine, such as Grenache, Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup brandy
1/3 cup peach snaps or pomegranate snaps
1/4 cup Cointreau or Triple Sec
2 navel oranges—peeled, halved, seeded and cut into large dice
1 Granny Smith apple—halved, cored and cut into large dice
1 Bartlett pear—halved, cored and cut into large dice
5 Strawberries with cut steam
Ice Cubes

Pour the red wine into a 3-quart pitcher. Stir in the orange juice, snaps, brandy, Cointreau. Add the diced oranges, apple pear and strawberries; refrigerate. Serve the sangria in tall glasses over ice. Garnish with a tablespoon of the diced fruit.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner for those who didn't go home for the Holidays!!!






The way to a man's heart


As a single girl I look back at what my dad use to say to me growing up. “Iman the way to a man’s heart is through is stomach, topped with an education, hard work and a clean house you will have to fight the men off of you.”

Dad where is the army? I feel like I’m stranded on Gilligan’s Island without Gilligan and the professor. I mean I just don’t get it.

A few months back I meet this really hot guy. I’m talking 6’4”, chocolate, and just plain sumptuous. Of course he’s a sports fan like me so naturally our first date I took him to the neighborhood sports bar Dorrian’s. So you understand- Dorrian’s is like Cheer’s, I know the whole staff, all the regulars and not a Sunday goes by without me and the gang (street magic is what they call us, that’s another blog) firmly planted at 12pm.

Subconsciously I wanted to get the thumbs.

Anyway that date was followed by several more till I figured now its time to hold the bull by the horn and bring the team in to home base. Yes, it was time for me to make one of my delectable meals. Nervous as to what to make I turned to one of my favorite food sources William Sonoma. There I found this great dish “Shrimp in Coconut Cream Sauce”. I was like this is it, this is the dish. However I have put my own spin on it so it became “Chilean Sea Bass and Shrimp in Coconut Curry Milk”.

The house illuminated with candle light and the aroma made pedestrians salivate as they walked by the window. Me on the other hand I choose not to compete with the more lavish d├ęcor. I decide to wear a floor length navy jersey dress that flirted with my curves toped off by my favorite apron; hair pulled up in a messy ponytail and not a stitch of makeup just a dab of chocolate lip gloss to give my face that fresh look.

As the final touches were complete, buzzzz – there’s the bell (and he was on time). He walked in we hugged he looked around in amazement, complimenting my home and spicy fragrance of curry. After poring him a glass of Jonnie Walker Blue I sat him down placing a napkin on his lap- the type of treatment fit for a king.

Curtin time -drizzling the sauce in a circular motion in the center of the bare plate I scooped a perfect mound of coconut tomato rice in the center. Atop the rice I placed the Sea Bass and Shrimp and lined the top of that with a few asparagus tips. I wanted to make-out with me; it was beautiful. The whole time he watched in astonished by the live presentation.

We ate, drank, talked and really connected. The night could not have been better till he kissed me, at that moment I exhaled.

We hung out a few times after that but it was just that, hanging out.

Now once again I’m left on the island waiting for the army.

Thanks Dad



Chilean Sea Bass and Shrimp in Coconut Curry Milk



1 teaspoon canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 12-ounce can evaporated skim milk
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound cubed Chilean Sea Bass
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste



Heat oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, jalapeno pepper, curry powder, cumin, coriander and cardamom; cook, stirring, until aromatic, about 2 minutes more. Reduce heat to low and add evaporated skim milk and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer, stirring to prevent scorching. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add Sea Bass cook for 2 min, add shrimp cook uncovered, until the shrimp are pink and curled, 10 to 12 minutes.
Combine lime juice and cornstarch in a small bowl; stir until smooth. Add to the shrimp mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in cilantro and season with salt and pepper.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sara


I am the girl that loves everyone no matter what. To my friends and family probably one of my biggest down falls. I will open my heart, my home and my oven for whomever.

Growing up was not the worst however it certainly wasn’t the best. Before the age of 9 I had already lived five different States, attended several schools with in those States and no one was in the military. So I had to learn early on that in order to make friends quick before the next destination I should be as friendly as possible. This remained true throughout my life.

Some time around 8 I lived next to this girl by the name of Sara- at 8 last names weren’t important so hers I can’t remember. Sara was my best friend for the 3 or 4 months my mom and I lived in Deer Park which was this complex in San Diego. On most days we would hang out after school at her house because her mom was always home. She would make us something tasty to eat and Sara and I would retreat back to our tent house under her loft bed. I use to love tent houses- it was my home away from home.

Well anyway one afternoon as we got off the bus and into the house dragging our rainbow bight book bags I remember this amazing aroma hit me as we entered the house. We dropped our bags as we usually did and B-lined for the kitchen. There on the counter laid tacos, with all the fixings. I soon realized that since her mom did give us the same speech “girls wash your hands and don’t drop your bags on the floor take them to the room” something was wrong.

There in the kitchen she stood lightly sobbing and mixing this green concoction at the same time. I would later find out that it was this tasty guacamole, which we refused to give a chance at first because it looked mussy. We ate we played and carried on as usual all the while noticing that Ms. Lisa was not her usual self- but I was to young to even care or ask.

The next day Sara wasn’t at the bus stop, she wasn’t at school and no one answered when I knocked at the door. For some reason I thought I heard voices but to this day I cant be quiet sure. I do know that I would sit at her door everyday for a week and still no Sara. Till finally one Saturday while in my room I caught a glimpse of Ms. Lisa getting in to this big truck – I rushed to get out the front door but by the time my legs could catch up with my thoughts she was to far for me to catch.

My last thoughts are of us making fun of the guacamole and that is how I have held her since. I still love you Sara wherever you may be.


Mango Guacamole
3 avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
2 jalapenos or Serrano chilies, seeded & chopped
1 ripe peeled mango
1 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
Directions
In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Drain, and reserve the lime juice, after all of the avocados have been coated. Using a potato masher add the salt, and cayenne and mash. Then, fold in the onions, mango, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. Serve with chips

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My Introduction


For far to long friends, family and new acquaintances have all uttered mmmmm ooooooo wooooow, this is great!!!!
-What is this?
-How did you make it?
-You know you are now the official cook at my next event, right?

(“Come to think of it I don’t know if I’m invited or just my special ingredients.”)
Well all the praise and impromptu invites has made me continue to come up with new exciting dishes and presentation to knock my taster’s socks off.



Daddy's Girl

As far back as I can remember I have loved food. My most vivid childhood memories are of my dad waking up at the crack of dawn on the weekends to make me and my siblings’ mounds of pancakes...I mean, there were banana, strawberry, blueberry, chocolate chip…. You name it whatever he could put into that batter he did. Oh those piping hot fluffy pancakes, with eggs, sausage (turkey or beef-dad didn’t let us do the pork thing) and a cold, sweaty glass of orange juice.


Early on I realized that the way to share time alone with my dad (yes I’m a daddy’s girl) with out my younger sister and brother, was to get in the kitchen. So after my homework, I’d gather all my dads’ favorite ingredients and have them laid out ready to make that night’s tasty fare. We laughed, we joked and I made a mess. His favorite saying was “Iman you must clean as you go, no one wants to eat from a dirty kitchen.” I still made a mess...and sometimes I still do.


Confirmation presented by Mom

Now my mom…. My mom was the presentation… She could take crackers and peanut butter and turn it in to a gourmet meal for twelve. I mean, I still have dreams about her Split Grilled Artichoke Heats with Lobster Butter. Any other child at six would have said "I’m not eating that, it’s green." Not me, it was as vibrant as a Chicken McNugget Happy Meal.


Then one day something truly magical occurred. While sitting on my mother’s vanity table watching her do her hair and slip in to this knee length red dress with shiny jewelry, I asked mom...


- Where are you going?
- Iman she said, "Go to sleep, it’s past your bed time and anyway, mommy isn’t going out, I’m having a dinner party with some friends."
- Dinner party??? You mean people give parties for food?
- "No silly, we are going to enjoy each others company and have dinner at the same time."


This concept was most unusual but I just said ok and pretended to go to bed. Sometime later that night I peeked out my room and watched as my mother and a girlfriend set the table, lit candles and poured the most fragrant red drink (remember I was 6). Minutes later I could hear laughter and kisses collide as people gathered one by one. Before I passed out in that same spot, I remember saying to myself, "is that what food does to people? I want to do that"!!!!!!!




Grilled Artichoke Hearts with Lobster Butter


Grilled Artichoke
6 large artichokes
1 half lemon
3/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper



DIRECTIONS
Fill a large bowl with cold water. Squeeze the juice from one half lemon into the water.

Trim the tops from the artichokes, then cut in half lengthwise, and place halves into the bowl of

lemon water to prevent them from turning brown.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Meanwhile, preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat

Add artichokes to boiling water, and cook for about 15 minutes. Drain.

In a medium bowl. Stir in the olive oil, salt and pepper.


Brush the artichokes with a coating of the seasoned oil, and place them on the preheated grill. Grill the artichokes for 5 to 10 minutes, basting with oil ever so often to keep moist, or until the tips are a little charred.


Lobster Buter

2 1/2lb Lobster 1small Onion, coarsely chopped

4 Garlic clove, peeled, crushed

1/4tspn Thyme, dried

1/4tspn Tarragon, dried

1 Bay leaf

2tbl Cognac

2lb Butter, unsalted



Steam or boil lobsters until just tender, 10 minutes
Cool, and then remove all lobster meat from shells cool and chunk meat …set aside covered

In large saucepan, heat butter slowly adding onions, garlic, thyme, tarragon, and bay leaf; toss over high heat 3 minutes.

Add Cognac (away from heat) and stir for 3 minutes.5. Add chunked lobster meat. Stir 1 minute

Server over Hot Grilled Artichokes