Monday, August 31, 2009

Poll of the Week - 8.31.2009

Before I introduce this week’s “Poll of the Week”, I have great news to share with everyone.

Little Scarlet’s recipe for Oatmeal Raisin Cookies has been selected for today’s Top 9 on Foodbuzz! This is a pretty big deal for Little Scarlet, as the Top 9 is selected every day from “the best of 2,367 posts from the Foodbuzz Community, as chosen by [Foodbuzz] editors and users.” Head over to Foodbuzz and check it out!

Between this exciting news and being able to successfully exchange my incinerated pie pan, I’ve been dreaming about all the great things I could make - if I had a kitchen equipped with neat gadgets! This week’s “Poll of the Week” asks if you could add one fun (& useful!) kitchen gadget to your arsenal, which would it be?

Personally, I feel torn between all of them, so please let me know why you picked the one you did!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Permanent Brunch, 6th St & 1st Ave

Permanent Brunch
95 First Avenue

Brunch is usually an excuse to eat sweet breakfast foods like pancakes and waffles long into the afternoon, while indulging in day-time drinking with Mimosas and Bloody Marys. Women recount last week’s gossip to their friends, and there's often more than one tired-looking boy with a girl in yesterday's party dress. Brunch places are on every corner in New York, so there’s a fierce competition for customers, but Permanent Brunch really strikes a chord with New York's brunch-goers.

Most of the guys I know have never been to brunch without their families or girlfriends, but they all rave about “this all-day brunch place in the East Village with a bacon menu – a menu of just bacon!!” Permanent Brunch (PB) just opened a few weeks ago, and while they aren’t offering their full menu yet, what they have so far is terrific!

Most brunches are breakfast foods eaten during lunch time, but PB takes the breakfast/lunch elements of “br-unch” literally, serving up a delicious blend of breakfast favorites with lunch-time ingredients. The menu items here are almost entirely on the savory side - waffles are topped with chicken, mushrooms, and pearl onions, and a syrup-less french toast is stuffed with salty ham and cheese.

Scott and I showed up around 12h30 and a long line had already formed, but a table for two opened up in about five minutes. It took quite a bit longer before we got our food, or maybe it just seemed that way since I was so hungry. Either way, I've never spent so much time ogling my neighbors’ plates! In addition to the Pan-Roasted Chicken & Waffle and the Ham & Cheese Stuffed French Toast, we had a side of duck-fat fingerling potatoes, a biscuit with PB-made jam and butter, and two of the five bacons from PB’s Artisanal Bacon Bar.

The chicken’s crispy skin gives way to juicy meat, and the waffle serves as a great vessel for the mushroom’s woodsy sauce. An order of french toast sandwiches smoked ham and an earthy, aged cheese between thick slices of egg-battered bread. Both are their own delicious, salty heaven, but if you're looking for the sweet breakfast versions, you're going to be disappointed.

The fingerling potatoes are good, but sadly lacking in delicious duck-fat flavor - they could easily have been fried in butter and I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. The biscuit and jam are great, though. Today’s jam is a thick-cut orange marmalade, and the biscuit takes on two very different flavors, depending on whether you add butter or marmalade.

Of the two bacons, New Braunfel’s Smokehouse peppered bacon was my favorite. Its thick rashers are crispy and chewy, with a nice smoky flavor and peppery after-taste. The Hungarian Smoked Kolozvari bacon tastes like kielbasa and instantly brought back memories of the Hungarian hard-boiled eggs and beet horseradish my family serves with kielbasa every Easter.

Permanent Brunch has a great concept going for it, and I’m excited for their full menu to be available. If they would just add pie to the menu, I’d have a new weekend tradition!

**Update: CLOSED. Permanent Brunch reopens as “Steak Shoppe”, May 2010**

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

After my disastrously failed attempt to make key lime pie, I've been craving something sweet for the past few days - but what to make? Obviously I can't make a pie since my pie pan is in a million pieces, but there are cakes, cookies, breads.... In the end, I decided to make oatmeal raisin cookies - although I made about a dozen cookies without raisins, since Scott doesn't like them.

This recipe is very easy to make, and lends itself well to variations. For example, this recipe doesn't call for any nuts, but adding ½ cup chopped walnuts along with the raisins would be a great addition. I like to soak the raisins for 15-30 minutes before adding them to the dough - it makes the cookies moister, and the raisins less prone to drying out. If you wanted a more adult (and less “traditional”) version, I'd recommend soaking the raisins in dark rum!

¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg at room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
¾ cup (4 ounces) raisins
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In another bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until soft and creamy. Then beat in both sugars, followed by the egg and vanilla.
  3. With the mixer on the lowest speed, slowly incorporate the dry mixture. Then add the oats in three portions. Mix in the raisins by hand.*
  4. Coat baking sheet with a light layer of non-stick spray (e.g., PAM) and place the dough on the sheet (about 1 tbsp dough per cookie), about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes, and then pay close attention for another 2-4 minutes - take cookies out when they are a golden-brown color, or longer if you want them crispier.
  5. Remove cookies from tray and cool on a cooling rack. Once completely cooled, cookies can be kept in an airtight container for a little over a week.
    *if using walnuts, add them along with the raisins and mix by hand
What do you like to add to your oatmeal raisin cookies? Chocolate chips, craisins, molasses? I'd love to hear about your own variations!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Café St. Bart’s, 50th St & Park Ave

Café St. Bart’s
109 E. 50th St

The first time I went to Café St. Bart’s, adjacent to St. Bartholomew’s Church, was almost four years ago. I felt so grown up, having lunch outside on Park Avenue with my father and one of his business colleagues for my first professional informational interview. The meeting went well, but years later what I remember most is that Café St. Bart’s served the most amazing steak au poivre, with perfect french fries.

This past weekend, Scott suggested Café St. Bart’s for lunch and I was so excited to go back a second time! I tried to find their phone number to see if we needed reservations (you don’t) or if there is a dress code (there isn’t), but it turns out “Café St. Bart’s” doesn’t technically exist anymore - it’s now “Inside Park at St. Bart’s”, with seating available on their outdoor terrace.

The menu looks amazing, full of sandwiches, pizettes, and main courses that make the most of seasonal ingredients. My second visit was good, but didn’t quite live up to the first. Scott and I shared an order of Black Lentil and Bacon Soup, which reminded me of being 7 years old and watching Robin Hood on a rainy day, eating Campbell’s soup - nice for a trip down memory lane, but disappointing from such a lauded restaurant. My Cuban sandwich was almost fantastic - capers and shaved carrots nestled between layers of roasted pork, ham, and Swiss cheese... notice anything missing? The Cuban sandwich had no pickle! Just a pickle spear on the side, the same as you’d get with a grilled cheese. I enjoyed my pork-on-pork sandwich, but a Cuban really needs the briny, sourness of a pickle to counteract the fatty sweetness of the pork and ham. Needless to say, I was disappointed.

Scott’s tempura-fried brook trout sandwich, though, looked beautiful and tasted fantastic. A brioche bun holds two, big trout fillets dipped in tempura batter and lightly fried, with arugula, caramelized onions, and chili mayonnaise. It came with a lovely heirloom tomato salad - Cherokee purples, red cherry, and yellow grape tomatoes are mixed with basil, radishes, and chives for a salad that smells like it came straight from the farm.

I’d still go back, but Café St. Bart’s Inside Park at St. Bart’s doesn’t hold that same place in my little-girl version of being a “grown up”.

Poll of the Week - 8.24.2009

Scott always says that if he could only eat one food every day for the rest of his life, it would be pasta. I’ve always felt like this is kind of cheating because you can do so much with “pasta” that it’s not really like choosing just one food - it’s kind of like saying “meat” or “vegetables”. Cheating, right? It’s not a bad idea, though - I mean, my last two posts have been pasta recipes, so maybe he’s on the right track.

For this week’s “Poll of the Week”, I want to hear your thoughts on the subject: what’s your favorite kind of pasta?

And actually, since this topic is kind of broad, this week, we’re going to take the poll one step further - please write in and tell me about your favorite way to eat the pasta you selected! If you have a particular recipe you’d like to see Little Scarlet run, let me know - I’d love to give it a try.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lemon-Dill Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Poached Chicken

This recipe post was supposed to be for key lime pie. Unfortunately, 5 minutes into baking the crust (at a mere 350°F), my brand new, glass pie pan decided to explode into about 50 pieces! As if that wasn’t bad enough, my apartment now smells like the ginger snap crust, but I can’t eat any of it because it’s covered in shards of glass - so frustrating!! Luckily, the dinner I had prepared for tonight turned out very well, so I’ve posted that recipe, instead.

Today was another disgustingly hot day and our kitchen has no ventilation at all, which can make cooking a nightmare. I wanted to make something cool that would involve as little effort and stove time as possible, so I decided to make a cold orzo salad with chicken, asparagus, lemon, and dill. This is a great recipe for a hot day because none of the steps take more than 10 minutes to execute - and since it’s meant to be served cold, the steps can be done back-to-back or spaced out at leisure throughout the day.

Makes one very large serving, or two lunch-sized portions

½ cup orzo
½ lb asparagus
4 oz chicken breast
3 tbsp lemon juice
3-4 sprigs fresh dill
2 tsp olive oil
kosher salt, to taste
  1. Rinse the asparagus and chop into 2-inch pieces. Steam for about 3 minutes, or until tender. Run under cold water, and drain before setting aside.
  2. Measure out ½ cup orzo and rinse thoroughly - otherwise the cooked orzo will taste too starchy, and it will detract from the other flavors. Add to boiling water, and cook for 8 minutes, or until al dente. Drain well, then add to the asparagus. Slowly add 2 tsp olive oil - this amount can vary depending on personal taste, so you can always add more, but be careful not to overdo it.
  3. Place chicken breast in a pot and fill pot with enough water to cover the chicken by about 1-inch. Add a small bit of kosher salt and bring to a boil - then, reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then remove from heat and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, allowing the chicken to continue to cook for another 10-15 minutes.
  4. Using two forks, or your fingers, shred the poached chicken breast. Add the chicken to the orzo-asparagus mixture, and add lemon juice and a pinch of kosher salt. Use clean scissors to cut the dill sprigs into fine pieces, and then mix together well, using your hands to ensure even distribution. Cover bowl and refrigerate until cool. Serve alone, or with a green salad and fresh bread for a larger meal.
I hope you like it - as always, please try it for yourself and write in with comments!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Risotto with Asparagus and Edamame, with Scallops

For Little Scarlet’s first recipe posting, I’ve made one of my favorite foods - risotto. Risotto is a creamy labor of love - its cooking asks for constant attention and lots of stirring as the stock is slowly introduced to the Arborio rice. The stirring and slow addition of liquid releases the grain’s starch more slowly than with traditional rice cooking methods, and is exactly what makes risotto so creamy. That, and the butter and cheese added at the very end!

Risotto is a fabulous dish because you can add just about anything to it. Vegetables, meat/poultry, nuts, legumes, shellfish - you can even make dessert risottos. My recipe calls for asparagus and edamame, which I chose to top with some lemon-drenched scallops. The bright green of the asparagus really pops against the white rice, and the firm edamame is a nice textural contrast to the softer rice and scallops.

This is a pretty standard risotto recipe, and can be modified to include almost any other vegetable combination. Enjoy!

Risotto, serves 3


½ lb asparagus, cut into 2-inch lengths
1 cup edamame (frozen or cooked)
4 cups chicken stock (or 1 cup white wine, 3 cups chicken stock)
2 tbsp olive oil
½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
1 tbsp butter
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

4 sea scallops
1 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter

  1. Parboil the asparagus for about two minutes, until they’re just tender - they’ll finish cooking when you add them back to the risotto toward the end. Place these under cold running water to freeze their bright color and halt the cooking process.
  2. Bring the chicken stock to a simmer. Cook the edamame right in the stock to give it the saltiness it needs and to pick up an extra bit of flavor - simmer for 4-6 minutes, until the edamame is firm to the bite, and then run under cold water.
  3. While the edamame is cooking, heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large, heavy pot. Add the onion, along with some salt and pepper, and sauté. Once the onions start to get soft, add the rice and stir so that all grains are well-coated in oil. Continue stirring until the rice is translucent with a white dot in the center of each grain. Add 1 cup white wine* (or 1 cup chicken stock), and stir until it has been completely absorbed.
  4. Add the rest of the simmering stock one ladleful at a time, letting the rice absorb the liquid before adding more. Take care to continue stirring so that the grains on the bottom of the pot don’t get scorched and the grains on top don’t dry out. Save about ¼ cup of stock to add at the end.
  5. When the rice is almost tender (about 17-20 minutes), add the asparagus and edamame to the pot, along with a final ladleful of stock. Stir continuously until the vegetables are warm and the rice is al dente.
  6. Remove from heat and add remaining ¼ cup of stock, along with 1 tbsp butter and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper, as desired, and serve immediately.
    *If you don’t have wine on hand, you can use stock instead - it won’t quite taste the same, but leaving it out won’t ruin the dish, and it will still taste fantastic.
(coincide with Risotto’s Step 4, above)
  1. Roll a lemon back and forth on the counter to loosen the pulp, which makes it easier to juice. Slice in half, and squeeze one half over the scallops. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and let rest for a few minutes.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot enough, gently pat the scallops dry before adding to the pan.
  3. Cook on high for about 1 minute, until a nice sear is beginning to form underneath. Turn the heat down to medium-high, and cook for about 4 minutes. If your pan is starting to look a little dry, this is a good time to add 1 tbsp butter and squeeze the remaining half lemon over the scallops. Turn them over once, and cook for 3-4 more minutes.
  4. Arrange on top of freshly plated risotto. Serve immediately.

I hope you give this recipe a try and that you like it as much as I do. Feel free to play around with different vegetables, and please write in to let me know how it turns out!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Poll of the Week - 8.17.2009

Apologies to my readers for the lack of posts this past week, I was very busy enjoying a much-needed trip to the beach - many thanks to my hosts for a wonderful trip!

All those hours spent outside with the sun and salt air can really make a person hungry! Naturally, my mini-vacation is responsible for this week’s “Poll of the Week”: when you’re at the beach, which of the following foods do you crave the most?

Get ready for more posts this week - also, keep an eye out for Little Scarlet’s first posted recipe, soon to come!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Poll of the Week - 8.10.2009

Summer’s heat is here in full force, which makes me want to be as far away from the stove as possible. Summer salads are a great way to use up all the wonderful produce that's available now. Add some herbs, some fresh fruit or berries, some nuts - and, of course, some cheese!

What’s your favorite cheese to put in a salad?

Also, I’d love to hear about any other cheeses you love - whether in a salad or by themselves!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Brick Lane Curry House, 6th St & 2nd Ave

Brick Lane Curry House
306 E 6th St

After a full day of moving into our new apartment on the East Village’s “Curry Row”, Scott and I figured the best way to experience our new neighborhood was to try one of the nearby Indian restaurants. I mentioned in my last post how much I love spicy food, so a restaurant like Brick Lane Curry House, which is famous for its spicy curries, seemed like a great place to start.

Scott didn’t grow up eating nearly as much Indian food as I did, so he’s often kind enough to let me do most of the ordering. My sister Allegra was in town helping us move, so she and I got to re-visit some of our childhood favorites: samosa, lamb biryani, vegetable korma, lamb vindaloo - with extra raita and an order of naan, naturally!

Complimentary “bread basket” (left) with papadum, tomato relish, cilantro-mint sauce, and tamarind sauce. The lamb samosa (center) is served with tomato chutney; it’s a little hard to taste the basil in the basil naan (right), so it’s best to eat pre-vindaloo.

I hadn’t eaten a lamb samosa in almost a decade (I’ve only seen “aloo” - or potato - samosas offered lately), so I was really excited about this. It was REALLY good, and eating it with the cilantro-mint sauce made it amazing. The filling was just spicy enough and the dough was almost sweet, kind of like fried pie dough - as always, my only complaint is that they only come two to a serving!

We were off to a great start - and then it took almost an hour to get the rest of our meal. When it finally arrived, I was feeling more annoyed than hungry, but the food was still delicious.

Vegetable korma (left) and lamb biryani (right)

The vegetable korma is creamy and spicy, with a nice assortment of vegetables, but something is missing that would give it just a little more depth - the result is still pretty good, though. The biryani, on the other hand, is WONDERFUL! It tastes… almost smoky, with tender and flavorful lamb, and rice that’s an enjoyable amount of spicy. I can’t say for certain it was the best biryani I’d ever had, but I’d definitely put it in my top five!

Lamb vindaloo

Then there’s the vindaloo, which my family typically asks for extra spicy. There’s a running joke in my family about my dad going into his favorite Indian restaurant in London and asking for a “proper vindaloo” - no further explanation of preferred spicy-level, he just wanted it as spicy as vindaloo is “properly” meant to be. He got what he asked for - a curry so spicy he could barely get through it!

Brick Lane Curry House is modeled after London’s curry houses on Brick Lane (get it??), so maybe there’s some kind of connection between their vindaloo and the “proper vindaloo” my dad had that one time. It didn’t seem spicy at first, but a few bites into it, and I was really feeling the heat! I’m not a sissy when it comes to spice, but this was really walking the line between pleasure and pain for me.

I think I’d seek out someplace a little less fiery for my next vindaloo fix, but I would absolutely revisit Brick Lane Curry House for the biryani - and just hope for quicker service.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Poll of the Week - 8.3.2009

Another Monday, another weekly poll! It’s getting to that insanely hot part of the summer, so what could be more appropriate than a poll about frozen treats?

What’s your favorite frozen summer treat? My kitchen is too hot to cook in, so I’m absolutely looking for frozen ideas - please comment if your favorite’s not listed!