In honor of NYC Restaurant Week, the first visit I made was a Contemporary American dining called Butter in Midtown, NYC. Their prix-fixe menu had three choices each for Appetizer and Entrée, and two for Dessert. I had the Butternut Squash Soup with Popcorns, Ravioli with Pesto Sauce, and Chocolate Torte with Mocha Ice-cream. They also had two choices of butter for their bread, the classic, and some form of herb-butter. Overall the service and the dining, for the prix-fixe price, was great! Now time to go on the elliptical (while making my next Restaurant Week reservation through OpenTable.)
It might be strawberry season, but I’ve already had more than my fair share of these red berries during the past couple of months, and in efforts to avoid my yearly summer habit of over-consuming a certain type of food and then not being able to ever eat it again, I’m pushing this fruit to the side until the next time they come into season. Last summer my mom went though an apricot-obsession phase, so we were eating some sort of apricot-based dessert every night. While she did get creative, too much is too much. Countless apricot tarts and cobblers later, I’m through with that fruit under its every form. I can still enjoy strawberries, but it won’t be long until I lose them to anther unfortunate case of fruit-aversion. I won’t take the risk.
In my effort to find different summer food options, I encountered Bon Appétit magazine’s buttermilk biscuit recipe (you can find it here) as well as Trader Joe’s big box of organic blueberries. Since then, a happy combination of two great things has been found: blueberry buttermilk biscuits. The combo isn’t anything new, but these little cakes are a satisfying breakfast, snack, or dessert and a versatile base for many other dishes—they can be toasted and topped with butter and jam for breakfast, served with cream, mixed berries, and chopped mint as a light dessert, or eaten by themselves. Seeing as how simple these little treats are to make, there’s no reason not to try some other variations (maybe with chocolate chips? nuts?).
Of course, the addition of strawberries would probably make for a wonderful version of this baked treat, but I’ll be waiting ’till next summer for that one. Until then, blueberries it is.
Last week, after going out to dinner with some friends, I was reminded of just how easy it is to have a fabulous eating experience without expensive spices, complex preparations or premium cuts of meat. Case in point: bone marrow.
Hopefully I haven’t repulsed everyone reading this blog with an image of someone sucking the somewhat mysterious, but absolutely delicious, stuff out from the middle of a cow’s femur. Yes, eating bone marrow is a bit bizarre and unsettling, especially if you have never been exposed to it before. But before casting marrow off into the culinary badlands with other less appetizing offal-related dishes like blood sausage or haggis, let me say this about bones in general. Any good cook knows that bones, such as those from a chicken carcass or behind the meat counter make for rich, wonderful stocks. And stocks are the flavor foundation for so many sauces, soups, stews and gravies. Stocks are also great, flavorful mediums in which to cook starches, like pastas, rice and potatoes.
Additionally, cuts of meat that are closer to bones are generally juicier, more tender, and better-tasting than cuts of meat further from the bone. Chicken thighs, wings, and legs are much more flavorful and rich tasting than breast meat, which can be unpleasantly dry and boring. The same goes for many cuts of beef… rib meat is tender, juicy and rich, whereas flank steaks can be drier, leaner and less rich.
The common trend here: proximity to bones=flavor and richness. So logic must lead us to believe that bones contain a lot of flavor and richness. Okay, not the most bulletproof use of logic on my part, but you get the idea: bones are tasty.
So when the marrow bones were served to myself and my friends, I couldn’t wait to dig on in. We were served 3 bones, which had been simply roasted in the oven and served with crusty bread, a simple herb salad and some high quality grey sea salt for sprinkling (the marrow bones are roasted unseasoned). Then we used our teeny little spoons to scoop the marrow out and spread it on our toast. After a small sprinkle of salt, I was ready to dig in! Immediately, I was astounded by the silkiness and richness of the marrow. And even though marrow has a high fat content, I wasn’t overwhelmed by the richness. Instead of being heavy, the marrow was light, but amazingly smooth, velvety and rich at the same time. And even after several good spoonfuls of marrow, my stomach didn’t get upset or overwhelmed by the large amount of fat I had just consumed.
In restaurants, marrow costs a fair amount of money. But thankfully, this amazingly delicious treat doesn’t have to be expensive! In reality, you can get the same marrow bones served in restaurants for free from the meat counter… bones that the meat counter would normally toss out. Finally, marrow bones are stupidly easy to prepare. You just stick the bone cut side up on baking sheet and roast it until the marrow begins to separate from the bone. Spread it on toast, toss on some salt, and you’re in flavor heaven… not to mention how much better they taste knowing they are practically free!