Archive | August, 2011

Last Taste of Summer: Sno-balls in NYC!

28 Aug

Hurricane Irene has passed and there’s one more blazing hot week ahead of us in NYC?  Where am I going to stop to cool off?  Imperial Woodpecker Sno-balls has been a favorite destination of mine this summer.  You could compare a sno-ball to the icy, sno-cones I used to eat as a little kid at the circus, but that wouldn’t do the sno-ball justice.  Sno-balls are a Southern treat, originating in New Orleans, and created by shaving blocks of ice using a special machine that produces fluffy, light-as-air shaved ice with the consistency of freshly fallen snow.  With over 33 flavors (including all the usuals plus unique flavors like Tiger Blood, Mardis Gras King Cake, Orchid Cream and Sweet Lou’s Nectar Cream) and two topping options (condensed milk and vanilla ice cream), the number of flavor combinations you could create is endless!  I’ve listed some of my favorites below.  Imperial Woodpecker Sno-balls is closing it’s doors at the end of August, so you have just a few days left to try out these Southern delicacies for yourself!

 A Few Recommended Flavor Combinations:
The Hurricane Stopper – Tiger Blood & Mojito
Wild Strawberry & Lemonade
Creamsicle & Tiger Blood
Orchid Cream & Mardis Gras King Cake
Sweet Lou’s Nectar Cream & Birthday Cake

Imperial Woodpecker Sno-balls
145 Seventh Avenue South (@ Charles Street)
Phone: (251) 366-7777
Twitter: @Imperialsno

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Where I Come From, It’s Cornbread ‘n’ Chicken

21 Aug

I’m in London for work and earlier this week, my very British coworker and I were trying to decide what to order for lunch.  She recommended the chicken goujon salad from Tossed, proclaiming it a traditional British meal.  You can imagine my surprise, when I opened my lunch box and found a salad of iceberg lettuce, shredded cheddar, carrots, and fried chicken fingers!!  It made me smile because it seemed so typical for the Brits to take a casual, blue collar food and try to make it seem more upper crust by adding a fancy name to it.  This was JUST like one of the many fried chicken salads that I ate growing up in the south.  It did get me thinking though – NYC has designer BBQ (more on that in a future post), but New Yorkers don’t seem to appreciate fried chicken or “chicken goujons” nearly as much as the Brits do.  Where can you get good fried chicken in New York?  In my opinion, the pickings are slim.  Here are a few recommendations for when you get a fried chicken craving:

Lowcountry
142 West 10th Street
(212) 255-2330

The Fried Chicken Biscuit is one of the best things on the menu, which is filled with lots of Southern specialties (pimento deviled eggs, shrimp ‘n’ grits, bourbon chicken livers, onion dip w/old bay chips).  This entree comes with a generous portion of fried chicken breast on a warm cheddar biscuit topped with country sausage gravy and onion jam.  If you’re watching calories, ask for the gravy on the side, but you’ll probably end up wiping the plate clean it’s that good!  Recommend washing it all down with a John Daly, an alcoholic version of an Arnold Palmer (sweet tea, lemonade, vodka and a splash of soda) and, in my option, the perfect summer cocktail.

Hill Country Chicken
1123 Broadway (Corner of 25th Street)
(212) 257-6446

I LOVE everything about Hill Country BBQ.  The food is awesome, the atmosphere is relaxed and great for groups, and the live karaoke nights are a ton of fun.  Given all of this, I was thrilled to try out their new sister restaurant specializing in fried chicken a few months back.  To be honest, while the decor is very cool and the concept original, I was a little bit disappointed with the food here.  HCC offers two types of fried chicken – the Hill Country Classic and Mama Els’ recipes.  Mama Els is skinless, which to me doesn’t truly qualify as fried chicken, nor does it taste as such.  The Hill Country Classic comes with the skin on, but has sugar in the breading, which creates a different flavor that most will not like (I certainly didn’t).  The real reason I have this restaurant on my list of places is because it’s one of the only places in NYC that serves 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer.  I am not much of a beer drinker, but this beer is enough to make me consider switching from wine to beer.  It’s light, crisp, slightly fruity, and the perfect complement to a fried chicken dinner or any outdoor BBQ fare.  You can also find this seasonal release at Whole Foods if you want to enjoy a six pack at home.  I always have some in my fridge in the summertime!

Blue Ribbon Brasserie
97 Sullivan Street
(212) 274-0404

Blue Ribbon might be best known for it’s raw bar and first-date atmosphere, but it’s also a great spot for good home cooked food.  In addition to a fabulous, filling fried chicken entree (it’s big enough for two) that is served with mashed potatoes and gravy and collard greens, the restaurant also serves fried oysters and grilled shrimp remoulade, two more Southern classics.  One word of advice on the fried chicken though – it is served with a side of honey which I’d suggest skipping.  It detracts from the flavor of the chicken and makes for a messy meal (not so good if you are on a date here!).

Bon Korean Chicken
98 Chambers Street
(212) 227-2375

I stumbled upon this hole-in-the-wall a few years ago when I was serving jury duty downtown.  While you won’t find Southern fried chicken here, you will find quick, no frills Korean fried chicken wings and breasts with the slightest hint of sweetness and spice cooked into the skin.  The name has changed a few times since my first visit, but the food is still the same.  The next time you’re downtown, be sure to check this place out!

Images courtesy of http://www.itcamefromnyc.com, http://www.monkeybrewster.com, http://www.cango.com.

Sunday Supper: Mom’s Meatloaf Two Ways

21 Aug

Growing up, the ultimate in comfort food for me was my mom’s meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  I always ask my mom to recreate it for me when I go home, but I also make it for myself often, normally adding a healthy spin to it.  By replacing the ground beef with lean, ground turkey, adding fresh veggies to the meatloaf, and replacing the mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower (it’s really yummy, trust me!), I cut out extra fat/cholesterol from the ground beef and add 2-3 extra servings of veggies.  The original recipe my mom created is adapted from a Lipton soup recipe.  She puts a delicious ketchup/Dijon mustard/brown sugar sauce on top of the meatloaf which gives it an awesome savory/sweet flavor that is a hallmark of Southern cooking.  I’ve included both recipes below so you can try out either depending on your mood.  Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Meatloaf is not a “pretty” looking dish.  This version tastes GREAT though!

Turkey Meatloaf with Mashed Cauliflower

Turkey Meatloaf with Mashed Cauliflower

Mom’s Meatloaf & Mashed Potatoes

Serves 6

Ingredients (Meatloaf)
2 lb. lean ground beef
1 package Lipton onion soup mix
1 1/2 c. breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1/4 c. water
1/3 c. ketchup

Ingredients (Sauce)
1/2 c. ketchup
1/2 c. Dijon mustard
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed

Directions
1. Preheat  oven to 350 degrees.
2. In large bowl, combine all ingredients for the meatloaf.  Place in baking dish.
3. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the sauce and put mixture on top of meatloaf.
4. Bake for 1 hour.

Mom’s Turkey Meatloaf with Mashed Cauliflower (aka the “healthy” version)

Serves 6

Ingredients (Meatloaf)
1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 package Lipton onion soup mix
1 1/2 c. breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1/4 c. water
1/3 c. ketchup
1 diced red bell pepper
1 diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup diced mushrooms (I prefer button)

Ingredients (Sauce)
1/2 c. ketchup
1/2 c. Dijon mustard
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed

Directions
1. Preheat  oven to 350 degrees.
2. In large bowl, combine all ingredients for the meatloaf.  Place in baking dish.
3. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the sauce and put mixture on top of meatloaf.
4. Bake for 1 hour.

Mashed Cauliflower

Ingredients
2 heads cauliflower
Grated parmesan cheese
Butter or margarine, to taste
Salt & pepper, to taste
Skim milk, to taste

Directions
1. Steam cauliflower to cook.  (Note: If you don’t have a steamer, you can cook it in the microwave as well.  Just put the cauliflower (stems removed), in a microwave-safe bowl with a lid and put just a little bit of water at the bottom.  Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes until soft.)
2. Using a hand mixer or blender, blend cauliflower until smooth and creamy.
3. Add parmesan cheese, butter or margarine and salt & pepper, to taste.  The less cheese and butter you put in, the healthier this dish with be, so start slow!
4. If the mashed cauliflower is too thick, add some skim milk to the mixture to thin it out a bit and make it creamier.

Sunday Supper: Lemon Spaghetti

14 Aug

Today I was craving a light but filling summer pasta and was short on time.  D & I discovered the lemon spaghetti at Supper in the East Village earlier this year and I set out to re-create it at home.  Here’s the very simple recipe that I adapted from Giada De Laurentis.  Normally, I add grilled chicken, but seafood such as crab or shrimp would also be delicious.  Enjoy!

Lemon Spaghetti
Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 pound spaghetti (I use whole wheat)
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
2/3 c. grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice (about 4-5 lemons)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Lemon zest, for garnish
Fresh chopped basil leaves, for garnish

Directions:
1. Cook pasta according to package instructions (8-9 minutes) in a large pot of boiling, salted water.  I add a dash of olive oil to the water right before I add the pasta to keep it from sticking together.
2. Meanwhile, whisk the olive oil, parmesan cheese and lemon juice in a large bowl until blended.
3. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid.
4. Toss the pasta in the lemon sauce.  If the pasta is getting too thick, add 1/4 c. cooking liquid at a time to moisten.  (When I make this, I generally add at most 1/4 c. so start slow!)
5. Season with salt & pepper and garnish with lemon zest, basil and an extra sprinkling of parmesan cheese.