New York Restaurants

The dining scene in New York City changes  every day.  While a few dining icons survive year after year, turnover is the name of the game as new styles emerge and old standbys disappear.  Found below are some useful articles which describe one chef’s way to prepare “the perfect steak” as well as the latest Zagat and Village Voice recommendations for the best restaurants in New York.

Making the Perfect Steak

If you ask someone their cooking technique for a “perfect” steak, you are likely to get several thousand answers.  Personally, I prefer fresh rather than aged beef (sorry, but I am in a minority, but spent quite a bit of time in Argentina), but strongly believe that quality steaks should not be seasoned with anything more than salt and pepper and cooked quickly at a very high heat (gas ovens are far better than traditional grills since the temperature can get up to 700 degrees).

Zagat on NYC

New York City is known for its vast and intimidating food selection.  As part of its 2015 restaurant survey results, released Wednesday, Zagat created a list of the best restaurants in New York City for every type of cuisine.

To learn more about Zagat’s 2015 selections, Click on the Link Below.
Credits: NYC Restaurants By Cuisine Zagat 2015 – Business Insider

Village Voice on Best Restaurants in NYC

In order to bestow that award, we had to first cull a short list of our favorite places to have opened in the last year. And because each restaurant on there is a place at which you should have a meal, we’ve whittled things down to this, our 10 best new restaurants in NYC in 2014.

10. NoMad Bar, 10 West 28th Street, 347-472-566

Lauded barmen Leo Robitschek and Chris Lowder preside over a massive selection of craft cocktails at this boozy annex to Daniel Humm and Will Guidara’s NoMad restaurant. Vaulted ceilings and an arched centerpiece bar command the room, which looks like a castle library turned neighborhood pub. Impeccable service and buttoned-up bar food (including an epic foie gras and truffle chicken pot pie), combined with giant vertical punches called cocktail explosions, solidify this ritzy watering hole as one of the city’s best nights out contained to a single location.

9. Han Dynasty, 90 Third Avenue, 212-390-8685

Last fall, New York got its first outpost of this burgeoning Philadelphia chain, a mostly Sichuan (and Cantonese- and Taiwanese-influenced) concept slated to mushroom into 100 locations in short order. This city is often skeptical toward outsiders, but it welcomed owner Han Chiang with open arms; neighbors pack booths and tables of this bare-bones establishment for fiery, peanut-sauce-coated dan dan noodles and sizzling woks of chile-stung chicken and beef. It’s easy to overlook the appetizer section when there are so many worthy dishes on a menu, but don’t miss the chicken wings — they’re fried so crispy they’re almost feathery, then tossed with spicy pepper.

Interested in following the Village Voice’s countdown, click on the link below:

Credits: The 10 Best New Restaurants in NYC, 2014 | Village Voice

Don’t be afraid to experiment in New York. Many great restaurants have affordable prix fix lunch menus. In my opinion, you get what you pay for in New York, so you might as well go first class.

The Art of Italian Cooking

Italian cooking goes back centuries, but few people have had such an impact as Marcella Hazan who exposed the public to beauty and simplicity of Italian cooking some 40 years ago.

Found below are some useful resources on Italian cooking and my memories of Marcella, who created a romance with food that is difficult to extinguish. Mind you, I love food well prepared, but have found that chefs who can create “food fit for a king” with just a few ingredients are the masters of their craft. Marcella reigns supreme in Italian cooking.

Marcella Hazan and the Art of Italian Cooking

If one wants to know what authentic Italian cooking tastes like, Marcella Hazan is the go-to resource for Italian cooking.  I studied under Marcella in Bologna and she represents everything that is great about Italian cooking:  fresh ingredients and simplicity in preparation.  Sure, Marcella is not the “touchy-feely” person that many wannabe chefs would like to see, but she has a level of integrity and reverence for the food that that makes cooking worthwhile.  Marcella’s firm hand will be missed.  Thank you, Marcella!

This was another of those “something this simple shouldn’t taste so good” experiences. Really it is just some sausage, onion, and cream, but it yield a rich, tasty, and filling meal. It helps that we have fallen in love with a mild fennel-free Italian sausage that we get from Whole Foods; they’re perfect for Marcella recipes! (But I bet this sauce would also be dynamite with a mix of hot and sweet!) I served this batch of  sauce over orecchiette so the sausage-y bits would get caught up in the little nooks.

My husband had only been intending to stop in and pick up a to-go package of this sauce/pasta, as he had an engagement at a friend’s house across town. However, after taking a quick  bite he wound up sitting down and polishing the whole thing off. Can’t ask for a better endorsement than that.

While we ate, we discussed how this sauce is a sort of culmination of our combined culinary growth. When we met, I wouldn’t eat sausage and he wouldn’t touch cream. Tonight we were licking our bowls. I’d call that progress!
Credits: Cooking the Book II: Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian

Learning to Cook Italian Food

Whether it’s pizza, pasta, risotto, lasagna or one of the hundreds of other amazing mouth watering dishes, the Italians really know how to eat. Italian food is globally renowned as some of the most exquisite food there is. Pizza and pasta alone are necessities for just about every student around the world! So if you’re going to study abroad in Rome, you’d better take that opportunity to find out how to cook Italian. Imagine if your friends and family find out you came back without knowing how to make them a scrumptious cacio e pepe, or even knowing what it is? Follow our tips below and you’ll make the most of your opportunity in the Eternal City. 
Credits: Learning How To Cook Italian Food With Authentic Italian Cooking

Folk Music from Italy

When my wife and I lived in Rome, we were serenading to sleep by Italian troubadours singing ballads. Eating without music is like dining alone.

If you don’t enjoy the excitement of Italian cooking, there is not much to be said for you.

Cooking Rice: A Primer

I remember as a young boy taking cooking lessons from the mother of a girl I was dating on how to make Chinese rice.  My girl friend didn’t have a clue and do demonstrate the proper respect to her mother, I was unusually attentive.

Public domain image from Pixabay

Mind you, I now believe that “washing” the rice 10 or 12 times before adding it to clean water is a bit excessive and probably removes a great deal of the nutrients from the rice, but how can you argue with 1.4 billion Chinese.  In any event, that was my first formal cooking lesson and I have always paid close attention to see how rice is made.

Found below are some useful suggestions on how to cook rice from a variety of perspectives.  I would never think of cooking rice in a slow cooker, but some might find it quaint.  Fried rice is no longer on my diet, but the video  below may lead me to reconsider.  In any event, enjoy this overview of the preparation of rice.

Rice in a Slow Cooker

Cooking rice in a slow cooker is a cinch. Simply grease the crock generously so the rice doesn’t stick, add your rice, water or broth, and salt or seasonings if desired. Turn it to low and let the slow cooker do its thing for two to three hours. In the end, you will have delicious sticky rice. It does get a bit a sticky if you’re not careful, but maybe a little rice glue is really what your dish needs; think sushi or Thai rice pudding. A little monitoring toward the end of the cooking process will help you avoid a big sticky mess. Once the water has reduced by half, check every 10 to 15 minutes by lifting the lid and stirring.

What’s the point, you ask? A slow cooker takes less energy, frees up space on your stovetop, and doesn’t heat up the kitchen. It also allows you to avoid any clean-up of having boiled-over rice water on your range. Plus, if you’re like me, you enjoy the taste of long grain rice versus instant, but you don’t like the long cooking times. This problem is solved by freezing leftover rice in single-serve freezer containers for easy, convenient quick-heating when you need it. For best quality, freeze for no longer than six months.
Credits: Smith: Cooking rice in a slow cooker – Bloomington Pantagraph

How to Make Fried Rice

A wok is almost essential in today’s modern kitchen. While most don’t use it to make fried rice, sautéing meats and vegetables is a great way to preserve their nutrients. In any event, learn from a real pro on how to make Chinese fried rice.

Cooking School Rice & Grains

Knowing how to cook a good pot of rice is another cornerstone of our home cooking. Once you have that mastered, you’ll always have a quick side dish or the beginnings of a meal in your back pocket. You can also start to build on your skills to make risottos, delicious pilafs, and grain dishes that use anything from barley to farro. It all starts with you, a scoop of rice or grain, and a pot.

How to Cook Grains: All grains from rice to wheat berries cook by absorbing water. You can steam them, cook them with a specific grain-to-water ratio, or simmer them in a large amount of water, like pasta. (Read more about these methods in today’s homework!) Whole grains will take a bit longer to cook, since their tough coating of bran inhibits absorption, while milled grains will cook quite quickly. Even so, most grains cook in about 15 to 35 minutes, with some of the tougher grains taking a bit longer. You can check them as they cook — when the grains taste tender and are no longer crunchy, they’re ready to eat. Most grains roughly double in volume once cooked.
Credits: Cooking School Day 10: Rice & Grains – The Kitchn

For a large part of the world, cooking rice is probably one of the most basic skills one can learn in the kitchen.  It is not difficult to learn, so why not practice this evening.