eat. shop. love. nyc.

Curried lentils with fried egg
March 15, 2011, 9:45 am
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I had breakfast at the Breslin one morning last year and decided to go with the curried lentils served with a poached egg, some mesclun, and a toast. The toast was vicious – like they had taken too-stale bread and attempted to revive it – but the combination of curried lentils and egg remains a favorite for me, and it’s so easy to make at home!

Ingredients (makes 4 quarts):

  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes or 2-3 fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 cups water or vegetable broth – I used 5 cups of water plus 5 Maggi veggie bouillon cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups whole lentils
  • 1 tablespoon of soybean or other oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon of cumin – I used a mix of cumin seeds and ground cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon of madras curry powder
  • 1/3 tablespoon of coriander powder
  • 1/3 tablespoon of turmeric powder
  • 1/3 tablespoon of paprika
  • 1/8 tablespoon of garam masala
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat oil in a frying pan and add the onions and garlic. Sautee over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, until onions become translucent.
  2. Add all of the spices (cumin, curry, coriander, turmeric, paprika, garam masala) to the sauteed onions and garlic. If you’re missing any of the last three, it’s not a big deal. Just add more cumin, coriander, and curry powder to compensate.
  3. Throw all of the remaining ingredients and sauteed onions and garlic in the slow cooker. Set it on low if you are leaving it all day, high if you are starting it around lunchtime.
  4. The curried lentils should have some soup, but will be very thick. I like to cook it down until most of the water has evaporated and you get a sort of gruel-like texture, but you don’t necessarily need to let it go that long.
  5. Fry an egg, sunny side up, and salt lightly. Serve curried lentils in a bowl, and top with the fried egg. Dust with paprika if desired. If you’re not allergic to carbs, a side of toast is a nice addition.

Mediterranean orzo salad
September 1, 2010, 10:20 pm
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Another in the easy summer salad series! I must be getting supremely lazy. I’m not going to bother listing any measurements for this salad. I’m going to assume that you can figure this one out as most of it is to taste anyhow. (Clearly, no one is going to be banging down my door to write a cookbook anytime soon since I’m not really good at this whole recipe documentation thing.)

Cook up a box of orzo in boiling water spiked with a touch of olive oil and some salt. I picked up some great-looking yellow and green beans from the Tompkins Square Park farmers’ market on Sunday, along with some cucumbers the size of my thigh. While the orzo is cooking, wash and trim the beans, wash and dice some cucumber – but not a whole thigh’s worth. These will be your crunch. Chop up some red onion, kalamata olives, and tomato for color and salt. As the orzo has right around 3 minutes left to cook, add your trimmed beans and blanch them until the orzo finishes – they should be brightly colored and still have that nice crunch. Drain the orzo and beans and toss in a large bowl with more olive oil and some lemon juice, the rest of the veggies, and a generous amount of crumbled feta. Refrigerate immediately and serve cold.

Pho cuon = pho king good
August 25, 2010, 11:21 am
Filed under: Cook, Eat, Go | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Has anyone in NYC found a Vietnamese restaurant that serves pho cuon? I haven’t found a single place outside of Hanoi that offers this delectable rolled pho dish (as my friend Thanh calls it) to its customers. This is New York City. Isn’t there some Northern Vietnamese place in Queens or something that y’all can direct me to? Anyone?

I first discovered pho cuon on the northeast side of Truc Bach Lake in Hanoi. Thanh, a Hanoi native and then-classmate of mine in Seoul,  wanted to take us around to some of the local eateries to sample Hanoi cuisine. I don’t think I’ve ever been as happy as that day at Truc Bach Lake (the seafood shack later also helped). We stopped at a nondescript roadside stand, no one spoke English, and before I knew it, a glorious plate of pho cuon sat before me.

Pho cuon is simple. It’s just a sheet of Vietnamese rice noodle rolled up around some slightly sweetened sauteed beef, fresh lettuce, and cilantro; served with a dipping sauce composed of what tasted mostly like fish sauce and vinegar with carrots and onions (and possibly daikon). So simple, yet I find myself dreaming about it still.

After a quick search on the web, I found this post on the Wandering Chopsticks blog and nearly wept for joy. Now I can make pho cuon at home! Further, she even posted a recipe for the dipping sauce, nuoc mam cham ngot. I guessed most of the ingredients correctly above, though I missed the sugar (duh – I should’ve caught that).

See ya. I’m off to the Asian grocery now.

Prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe
August 17, 2010, 9:52 am
Filed under: Cook, Eat | Tags: , , , , , , ,

The combination of salty ham and sweet fruit makes for a delightful summer appetizer. It’s also probably the easiest thing you’ll ever make for a party (with the exception, perhaps, of dumping a bag of tortilla chips into a bowl) since it requires absolutely no culinary skill whatsoever besides knowing how to cut up a cantaloupe and wrap meat around it.

Well. I guess there’s no real need to go through the motions of writing out a recipe. Buy prosciutto (or other salty cured ham – sliced paper thin), buy a cantaloupe (or other melon – but honeydew is usually a little too sweet), cut up melon into chunks, wrap prosciutto around melon chunks, and serve. If desired, you can add a dollop of mild goat cheese, a fresh mint leaf, or fig. Totally up to you. If the other ingredients won’t stick to the melon, hold them in place with some toothpicks. The world is your hors d’oeuvre.

Southwest potato salad with corn, cilantro, red onion
August 16, 2010, 12:12 pm
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[tweetmeme]Potato salads are great for summer gatherings because they are so easy and inexpensive to throw together, they’re quite filling so that’s great when there are lots of guests, and you can make everything ahead of time and chill overnight – no mad rush to cook after work or as guests are arriving.

The key to a great potato salad is threefold:

  1. Use Yukon Gold potatoes. They are less starchy than baking potatoes so they taste creamier and hold their shape better when boiled.
  2. Use good mayo. I like to use Kewpie Mayonnaise, usually found in Asian/Japanese groceries. I think they use more yolk as it’s more yellow than most American grocery store mayos. It tastes eggy with a touch of tang to me, which is something I really enjoy. I use it sparingly, just enough to keep the potatoes moist and lend some of that creamy, tangy flavor. The worst is an over-mayoed potato salad. Ick.
  3. Add something crunchy. This way, your potato salad will not taste like cold mashed potatoes with mayonnaise.

Recipe after the jump:

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Spice-Roasted Chicken with Cilantro Yogurt Pesto
March 7, 2010, 10:13 pm
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I had a gigantic container of plain yogurt in my fridge that I needed to use up, so I started looking for recipes on Epicurious that used yogurt as one of the main ingredients. I stumbled upon a recipe for Spice-Roasted Cornish Hens with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce, and boy, am I glad. Instead of using hens, I used bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and legs I had in my freezer, used pre-ground cumin and coriander powder, skipped the sour cream, and added a bit of lemon to the yogurt sauce for tartness. The prep took me no more than 15 minutes, and the total cook time in the oven was about 30 minutes. It’s simple. It’s quick. And it’s tasty.


  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and/or legs
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 10-ounce cucumber, peeled, cubed, and cored (remove insides with seeds to reduce moisture)
  • 3/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (use Greek yogurt if you want more creaminess)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 12 fresh cilantro sprigs
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled (this is very garlicky and spicy, which I like, but you may reduce the garlic if you’re squeamish)

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Bastardized (but easy peezy) tinga de pollo tacos
January 13, 2010, 8:39 am
Filed under: Cook, Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

If you are a Mexican food purist and take issue with degrees of authenticity in cooking, please stop reading this post. You will be offended. If you are a Mexican food enthusiast and busy cook who is too exhausted and too hungry to do a whole lot of work after getting home from work, read on for my bastardized tinga de pollo (stewed chicken) taco recipe.

I first came across tinga de pollo in Mexico City at a quesadilla kiosk in Coyoacan on the Avenue Hidalgo. The chicken was moist, flavorful, and needed no cheese, served simply sandwiched between the halves of a pan-grilled corn tortilla. I fell in love at first bite.

When I returned to NYC, I vowed to recreate the best quesadilla of my life, but in taco form. I did a bit of research. Tinga is a general term that refers to any meat (beef, chicken, or pork) that is shredded and stewed in a spicy tomato sauce.  Tinga is Spanish for “chicken.” It can be served in warm tortillas as tacos, on tostadas, in quesadillas, or as a meal with a side of beans and/or rice and tortillas. Unfortunately, I found that stewing chicken and making salsa verde from scratch takes time, and I am not always in the mood to spend that time. (If you want to do this from scratch, click here for a great tinga de pollo tostada recipe.) I took some dramatic shortcuts, but the end result was still tasty and superfast, and it’s great for a weeknight build-your-own-taco dinner party. Recipe after the jump. Continue reading