Tag Archives: fig

Time to change your mind about Brussels Sprouts

From the blog, The Neurotic Kitchen, http://www.neurotickitchen.com/2012/10/restaurant-inspiration-ilili-brussels.html

Brussels sprouts. My mother never really cooked them when I was a kid. The first time I heard of them, I also heard that they tasted like rotten socks. And so I avoided at all cost for the majority of my life until I had them as a mezze at Ilili, a modern Lebanese restaurant in Flatiron. They were bitter, salty, sweet, and tangy all at the same time. Recently, I’ve decided to try my hand at making them. I looked up the recipe online and made them for myself and I was so surprised at how easy they were to make. There really aren’t any measurements involved, and so I’m not going to give quantities in this recipe.

All you need are brussels sprouts, a good quality fig preserve, yoghurt, and fresh, finely chopped mint.

First, blanche the vegetables by cooking them in salted boiling water for 3 minutes.

Then, on high heat, shallow fry the sprouts in vegetable oil until they become very golden brown and crispy.

Next, make a mint-yoghurt by adding the amount of mint that you’d like to the yoghurt. Mix equal parts fig preserve and water, and heat them in the microwave until you get a nice smooth mixture.

Finally, assemble your dish by layering the mint-yoghurt, and fig jam over the fried sprouts. Optional but delicious toppings are fresh grapes, cut in half, and toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped. This is a really easy recipe to make, and I hope that it changes your mind about brussels sprouts the same way it did for me!

Image taken from the blog, Marisa's Healthy Kitchen, http://marisashealthykitchen.com/2011/06/05/figgy-brussel-sprouts-with-grapes-and-walnuts/
Image taken from the blog, Marisa’s Healthy Kitchen, http://marisashealthykitchen.com/2011/06/05/figgy-brussel-sprouts-with-grapes-and-walnuts/



Family Catering

Croque-en-Bouches with Mixed Berry and Crème de Cassis Sundae

A couple months ago, my mom told me that she had offered to cater a party for my grandma as a birthday gift and that I was invited to be her catering partner. The catering “service” would include brainstorming, preparing, plating, and serving a five-course, gourmet menu to eight hungry and self-claimed foodie guests. I was 100% on board.

So as soon as I got back home from my end-of-the-spring-semester activities, my mom and I started to prepare for the event. We worked on developing a few dish ideas by looking through all of our recipes from books, Word documents, online bookmarked pages, and collaged cutouts from magazines. We discussed and debated, and about a zillion ideas later, finally put them together into a cohesive and appetizing menu. A shopping list was written and a few days before D-day we began the incredibly long (and tiring) process that was the cooking.

However much time and energy it might have taken, the final result was well worth the effort that it took to develop the menu and then make it a reality—with a few exceptions of course. The gazpacho and avocado mousse with two Parmesan crisps was a much-enjoyed appetizer, but the tomato and avocado lollipops served alongside it, for example, were more of a failed experiment in molecular gastronomy than anything else. Visually, they were perfect, but their rubbery texture and imbalance between the flavorless avocado and acidic tomato was definitely a turnoff. At least we had the delicious and popular pancetta-wrapped fig skewers (stuffed with goat cheese and drizzled with honey) and grilled eggplant dip served with rosemary flat bread to wash it down. Not to mention the paired rosé, whites, and port that my dad served throughout the meal.

Eggplant and Pepper Dip

Food successes and failures aside, the best part about this catering event was, oddly enough, everything but the taste of the food. I loved watching people decipher the menus we’d printed out when we brought out the mini croque-en-bouches and mixed berry sundaes, or listen to the “oohs” and “ahs” and diplomatic “very interestings” in reaction to tasty or not-so-great dishes. It was a time- and energy-consuming endeavor, and I am so glad that everything turned out well (or almost). But more so than that, it was amazing to experience the meal coming together and to then present and share it with my grandma and her closest friends and relatives.

A Middle Eastern Gem, just a trip down the 1 train away.

If you have a case of the Sundays, don’t worry–Melina’s got just the place for you.  Take a ride on the 1 train down to Chelsea and experience another part of the city and try to forget that Monday’s tomorrow.  Melina makes it quite easy.

In the heart of Chelsea lies an eatery that offers an innovative approach to Middle-Eastern cuisine.

Ilili is not a hole in the wall. Far from it. But for much of the Columbia University community, everything south of 42nd street might as well be hidden. For those of you who have been hoping to make a journey sometime soon to the highly raved about “downtown,” Ilili is a great starting point.

The two-story restaurant radiates a trendy, young urban professional vibe and still manages to retain a traditional Lebanese culture. If you are only in the mood for drinks and appetizers, the downstairs lounge area offers inviting ottomans.

There is a famous Greek proverb that goes a little something like this: “A restaurant is only as good as its bread.” Okay, it is not a proverb. But I am Greek, and I wholeheartedly believe the aforementioned statement. It suggests that one could already predict the quality of the entire menu upon tasting the warm pita at Ilili. The bread, steaming with freshness, disappears fast. After the pile is gone, a server comes back with more in record time. Magical. Ordering a few dips is a must, since they complement the pita bread so nicely. The “Mouhamara” molasses dip has walnut and pomegranate bits inside. The hummus comes in several different flavors. You can choose the plain one, which will not disappoint, but the jalapeño version has a nice and spicy kick. Continue reading A Middle Eastern Gem, just a trip down the 1 train away.

Club Re-cap: Italian Sodas

Tonight was the Culinary Society’s first event in our annual Italian Month! We kicked-off our ode to Italian favorites with soda made with our very own syrups.

This is not what we're talking about
Italian Sodas, in spite of the name, are actually an American creation (as are many of our

favorite “Italian” foods and the guidos over in Jersey.) Using two simple ingredients, carbonated water and simple syrup, an Itlian-American family in Northern California invented the drink in the 1920s. It was an immediate hit. How can you go wrong with sugary, bubbly water?

Fast-forward to the early 2010s and switch to the east coast. At yesterday’s study break, the Culinary Society made gourmet takes on the classic soda. Instead of plain simple syrup (which literally consists of only sugar and water), we cooked up five new flavors: pear-ginger, cinnamon-vanilla, citrus (a combination of lemon, orange, and lime), fig and rosemary, and basil.

How can you replicate these syrups in your dorm? It’s simple enough. There are two methods for making flavored syrups, the Infusion Method and the Cordial Method.

Continue reading Club Re-cap: Italian Sodas