Meena wasn't feeling so hot last night so rather than doing a pork chop as planned, we opted for some Joya delivery. We kept it totally simple. Meena had:
- spring roll
- chicken pad thai

Alec had:
- pork salad

So I still got to have a bit of a pork chop ... just doused in Joya's liquid fire (it was hot!) rather than cooked on our skillet. Meena's pad thai was just what she needed. That's Wednesday night success.



A couple years ago we had a reservation at the Harrison and ended up canceling it. My folks were in town and for whatever reason, we decided to go with The Orchard instead. The good news is that we had an amazing meal and an incredible night. So I'm not saying we made a mistake. Not at all. But after dining at the Harrison last night for Steveo's birthday, I now know that either place would have yielded a truly memorable evening.

It had been a minute since we'd dined in Manhattan, so that alone was a fun change of pace. And when we eat in finer establishments, I feel like we tend toward more laid back environments that seem to dominate the Brooklyn fine dining scene (waiters with beards, wearing plaid, etc). I'm not saying the Harrison isn't laid back - it is. But something about the other diners and the general air of formality gave the joint a slightly more upscale feel.

Anyway, enough about the environment. It's the food that really matters, right?

And in that department, the Harrison over-delivered in nearly ever category.
We started with a wonderful petite syrah that was humorously listed on their "wines of the times" list. It was a discount list that had a whole host of bottles in the $29 to $39 range. Not necessarily bargain basement, but for this type of place, it was a much appreciated gesture. It was a great bottle and this got me even more excited about what was to come.

Starters were lovely in both presentation and taste. Meena had:

- house made gnocchi with braised oxtail and ricotta

Alec had:

- yellow split pea soup with duck confit and sage

Steve and Dan shared a lovely little shrimp appetizer and a crab salad special. Both were delicious.

Main courses were well thought out and cooked with precision. Meena had:

- horseradish crusted salmon with napa cabbage and turnips

Alec had:

- olive oil poached cod with blood orange, meyer lemon and sunflower sprouts
Steve also had the salmon and Dan had a chicken dish that was just perfect.

We also ordered a bowl of duck-fat fries to the table. I know it's a bit trendy to fry things in duck fat, but I mean ... it's that good. So who cares? Definitely try these if you ever make it here. Everyone else in the restaurant is so you probably should, too.

We couldn't stop while we were ahead so a couple of desserts found their way to the table as well. The table received the following:

- chocolate pretzel tart
- coconut birthday cake

In the end, for me, the pea soup and the cod were massive standouts. Pretty much everything exceeded all expectation. Meena's oxtail was good but not great ... but that was really about it. Dan and Steve seemed to order very well and ended up quite happy. Portions were unusually large for a Manhattan restaurant and I think we all left feeling gloriously stuffed with top notch food.

And honestly, what more could you possibly ask for from a birthday celebration with one of your very best friends?

Thank you, Dan and Steveo!



Meena had a schmooze fest to attend last night and I had a class so when we both rolled in well past 9:00 in the evening, it seemed natural to just call something in. I considered cereal for a minute but Meena felt Zaytoons would be a much better idea.

She was right.

It's almost not even worth me telling you what we ordered. We order the same thing every time. We don't even discuss it anymore. We just say ... "Zaytoons? Zaytoons. OK, I'll call."

There's no question what we'll order.

But for the sake of documentation, I'll just say ... shawarma sandwich + shish kebab sandwich + zaytoons mix.

There. It hath been documented.

My shish was a little off last night. Not sure if the recession is hitting the good folks at Zaytoons (I can't imagine how it WOULDN'T), but the lamb seemed like less than choice last night. I got a few tougher cuts. But ... whatever. It was still seasoned and cooked well ... just not the top quality ingredients I typically pull in from these dudes.

On the other hand, the zaytoons mix was on point. Spicy and inclusive of all three members of the holy trinity in fairly equal parts. That's a huge win in my book.



Sorry for the delay here ... I got a little lazy this weekend and with my class on Monday looming, I just didn't get around to everything.

Let's go way, way back to last Thursday when we had a bit of Cube 63 delivery. I'm not sure why, but they really brought the heat this time. Best Cube 63 we'd had in a minute.

Meena had:
- shrimp shumai
- cube 63 roll
- mexican roll

- miso soup
- hawaiian roll

Very nice.

On Friday we had a little birthday celebration for Diana in Williamsburg at El Almacen. Now I'm on record saying that Williamsburg is NOT my favorite haunt. It's just a bummer most of the time. But this place ... oh this place. This will make me go back often (or at least until they get their liquor license!) Anyway, I don't remember the names of everything, but Meena had:
- guacamole
- chicken enchiladas

Alec had:
- some sort of sausage with yerba mata ketchup and onions
- el pastor tacos with pineapple

SO good. I don't think there was a thing that hit our plates that had me turning up my nose. I'd say that anyone visiting Willamsburg ... make sure this one is on your hit list.

Saturday night we had another little birthday celebration for Diana, this time in our hood at Chestnut. We wanted to take D out for a bite as our gift, so we figured that because we needed to hit the French Kicks show in Gowanus, Chestnut seemed like the best option.

I don't know. I wasn't all that happy with my food. I ordered the pork chop and it was overcooked on the outside edges and undercooked in the middle. It was OK, but just not right. Sorta annoying. I was expecting more. Meena's was the same. She had the hanger steak and the outside was charred to dust and the inside was more rare than medium rare. Just sloppy execution. And that's a bummer.

James and D seemed to have better luck. James had the chicken stuffed with sausage and it was cooked very nicely. D had this pasta that looked like a donut and it was pretty impressive. They both seemed to enjoy it and that was the whole point.

Sunday night we just closed down a long weekend with a bit of Oscar night pizza. Nothing fancy, we just rolled out a dough and threw on the following:
- shrimp
- plum jam
- Meena's marinara
- mozzarella
- ham
- spinach
- sea salt
- black pepper
- siracha
- cornmeal
- parmesan

- crimini mushrooms

I got a bit of "stick" on the pizza stone and that was annoying. I ended up tearing the outside corner of the pie and I must admit - extremely frustrating. The pizza was very good, but that part was a sour note. I also ended up with a bit too much water leeching from the spinach, soaking the pie a little more than I would have liked. I'll cook the water out in the future.

I guess it's a learning process with these things. To be expected. Results are still tasty ... I just need to refine my execution.

I'm not even going to address the breakfast offerings up there but I will say this ... avocado and eggs is my new favorite thing. FAVORITE.

So the primary message of the weekend? Chestnut and I need to work on our skills.

And happy birthday, Diana!!



In case you're wondering, that's only half of our pizza. I'm not sure why I decided to take a photo AFTER I'd sliced it in half, but that's what I did. It didn't feel odd then. It sorta feels odd now.

Anyway, we're pretty stoked about this development. We used our pizza stone last night for the first time and although we realized we need a paddle, we were very happy with the results. Not that I need to explain the benefits to you, fair readers, but the number this thing does on the crust is pretty spectacular. Crisp on the outside ... bouncy and soft on the inside. This thing is a winner, friends.

Nothing too wild on the pizza. Here's what we threw on:
- mozzarella
- pork shoulder
- marinara
- serrano peppers
- green onion
- parmesan
- mushrooms

The Fresh Direct crust worked out great, too.

The only addition I made once this thing had been cut and sampled was a bit of siracha. I just love it and can't really help myself. I need it on almost everything. It takes stuff to a different (delicious) level.

We'll be doing this weeknight delight again and again. It makes me exceedingly happy to report this.



So here's the first of the exciting ingredients I'd hinted at in the previous post. Well, full disclosure, this is the only one. But I guess I was thinking of the freezer full of homemade dumplings we have cooked up. So there's two. But mainly, I guess I was thinking about the slow roasted pork shoulder I had baking away in the oven.

I saw THIS recipe on My Husband Cooks and decided I had no choice. I had to make it.

I didn't have a shoulder as large as the one in the recipe. I think mine was about 4.5 pounds. I did the whole recipe ... salted overnight, baked for 9 hours ... I put in the TLC.

And it was worth it friends. It was so, so so worth it.

I think that I probably could have cooked it a little less. Given the smaller weight, I probably should have reduced the time by an hour or so. But whatever. It came out lovely. A little crispy on the edges, soft and succulent on the inside. The meat is subtly salty from that rub. I think I like that. Quite a bit, actually. I think it brings out some of the inherent pork flavor. Enhances it. If you will. At any rate, it was just awesome.

Meena says this is what we'll be making from here on out. No more pork butt. Pork shoulder is the only way forward.

Last night we did pork tacos. Just threw some salsa, sour cream, avocado and cheese with a couple flour tortillas. Oh, and some hot sauce. Lovely. Nothing beats carnitas. Nuthin.

NOTE:  If you go to the recipe page I mention ... make sure you read the comments.  Offended Southerners are the funniest.  Kudos  to MHC for handling the situation so tactfully.  I'm not sure I would have ... like the time that woman got all up in my grill for using grocery store hot dog buns!  



Long weekend ... LOTS of food. Not insane amounts. Not overeating. But ... LOTS of food. But we had an extra day ... so a little more than usual!

Actually, before I forget ... I threw Thursday night's celebration up there as well. We had a little Abe Lincoln celebration that included some Cube 63 delivery. Weird, I know. But whatever. Don't ask. It's just how we do. Awesome as always, Cube.

We started the weekend off right with a lovely Valentine's Day celebration. Meena and I don't typically go with the whole 14th dinner and drinks thing ... we like the night before much better. You don't get crappy prix fixe menus and heart shaped beef wellington. Dinner out on the day of romance can often be the absolute worst. So we avoid it. So we ended up at a lovely little spot in the East Village called Persimmon. Neo-Korean is what they call it. And I'm happy to report, Neo-Korean is VERY good.

We did a nice tasting menu that featured seven little bites before two wonderful main courses and a couple desserts. The tasting bites ranged from awesome deep-fried fish cake with nori wrappers to pork belly with radish kimchee and yellowtail with these crazy little blocks of red, salty jello. Awesome.

Next we moved into a never ending set of sides. Endless kimchee, dried sardines, pickled garlic, kelp and radishes. I could have eaten my weight in the kimchee and sardines. The garlic was amazing, too.

Main courses were a short rib stew for me and a kimchee stew for Meena. I think hers was better than mine but they were both strong.

Desserts weren't that hot. A sweet potato thing and a black bean and rice cake thing. But then, we're not typically fans of Asian dessert. No big surprises there.

Anyway, if you're thinking about hitting Persimmon, I'd recommend it with every bone in my body. Awesome people, super cheap and for the moment, BYOB!

Both Saturday and Sunday we had egg, Canadian bacon and swiss cheese sandwiches for breakfast. I feel like I'm getting much better at making eggs and these were both the benefactors of my improvement. I think they were two of the better sandwiches I've made in a minute. Oh, I almost forgot ... both had American Spoon Foods red pepper jelly and a bit of siracha. SOOO good.

Saturday night we had a bit at James and D's house for Valentine's Day. D just destroyed it. So much good food.

We had a roasted pepper spread to start - peppers roasted by D. No canned BS. Next we moved into a potato pancake with homemade apple sauce. AWESOME. I can't even describe how much I love a good potato pancake. Mostly because I can't make them to save my life.

We also had some lovely little candied bacon bites and pesto pillows that just melted in my mouth. So good.

We also had a delicious cheese pizza that had all the key elements (crisp crust, airy dough and savory toppings).

AND THEN WE HAD THE BEST THING EVER. We had a pulled pork short rib sandwich with coleslaw. I mean, HELLO! I can't even think of something better. This is like heaven on a bun. I love it. So much.

We finished off the dinner with a bit of banana and nutella sandwiched in some pizza dough. WHEW. Awesome and ... the best way to finish the best ensemble dinner a friend has ever made me. So good. So so so good.

Sunday night I hung with Matty C in Vinegar Hill and had a bit of a really awesome pizza he made. He shaved Himalayan salt on it, dudes. He works at Saveur. So you know ... it was gourmet as hell. Meena had some Joya. I had a bit of pork salad when I got home. Nothing too special on that front.

And that brings us to tonight ... the final evening in a long weekend full of food, fun, unnecessary trips to the office and filing (we got a new file cabinet ... it was fun, not boring ... weird, I'll admit it).

We bought this thing at the cooking store and I'm pretty sure it's going to change our lives. It's called a dumping maker and it's exactly what it sounds like. It folds dumping skins in half so you don't have to crimp them with your fingers like a dummy. Dudes, it's so simple, but SOOO rad. You throw a little pork in the middle of a wonton skin, wet the edge and fold. BOOM. You have a Chinese style dumping, ready to rock and roll.

We're going to probably turn into dumplings. Maybe I'm letting the initial excitement get the best of me. Totally possible. But it's just so cool. It makes such perfect dumplings. And they're SOOO good!

Meena did all the heavy lifting on tonight's inaugural dumpling feast. She threw together the following:
- ground pork
- garlic
- cabbage
- sea salt
- green onion
- rice wine vinegar
- soy sauce
- oyster sauce

So you just toss a little bit of that in a skin and you're on the way to Chinese dumpling bliss.

Great weekend (I wasn't lying about all that food, was I?). Tons of fun and so much good stuff. I can't wait to share all the other fun stuff we've been prepping later this week. Suffice it to say, we have a few nice things up our sleeves ...



Well, I kept my promise. I said there would be more pizza and here it is. It's just such an easy weekday meal. You have this dough in the fridge and all you have to do is flour it, roll it out and top it off before throwing it in the oven for a few minutes. The most complex part, really, is assembling your ingredients. Meena was kind enough to do the chopping, slicing and dicing before I got home last night, so this couldn't have been any easier.

This time around, we decided to clean out the fridge a bit. We used:
- Meena's homemade marinara
- parmesan
- shredded mozzarella
- pineapple
- canadian bacon
- plum jam
- shrimp
- chives
- basil
- onion
- sea salt
- black pepper

I didn't start off with it, but I did add a little siracha after this sucker had been sliced up for service. I just needed the spice.

Another good one. We're gradually getting better working out the dough and I assume we'll only continue to improve.



I've been on this pancake kick I guess. I'm not sure why, but I've been thinking about savory pancakes. Maybe it has something to do with those really awesome seafood pancakes we've had at Korean restaurants. Maybe not. Regardless, I've had this penchant for pancakes over the last couple days and I devised a menu last night that used my battered friends quite prominently.

We had a little extra pork left from this weekend's slow braise so I decided to wrap the piggy up in a couple luxurious, spicy blankets. The pancakes included:
- buttermilk pancake mix
- canadian bacon
- green onion
- milk
- olive oil
- siracha

Once the pancakes came off the stove, I wrapped them around the filling:
- slow-braised pork butt
- mild salsa
- smoked mozzarella
- avocado

I topped each blanket with a dab of salsa and a mix of:
- fat-free sour cream
- sea salt
- black pepper
- lemon juice

I think these came out really well. It was like a slightly thicker crepe. A spicy, cake-like wrapper surrounding a pocket of lovely pork and avocado punctuated by that bit of smoke from the silky cheese. I'd cooked the bits of bacon and green onion before they went into the batter so they gave a nice little resistance and added bit of flavor in every bite.

So this is a fun little trend. About four or five years ago, I remember a similar love affair with Jiffy Corn Muffins. I remember throwing anything I could think of in those muffin tins. It was my canvas and I was free to paint with whatever colors I could find. It was fun. And I think I'm doing something similar with these pancakes. I'll try not to abuse it ... but look for a few more coming over the next few weeks. Just sayin' ...



Meena is the world's most awesome wife and she made that fact clear when I arrived home from class last night to an amazing pizza she'd whipped up coming out of the oven. I was tired and hungry and she came through in epic fashion with a pizza sporting a mountain of my personal favorites.

She rolled out a frozen dough we'd picked up from Fresh Direct and threw on:
- slow roasted pork butt
- korean bbq sauce
- marinara
- pineapple
- smoked mozzarella
- mozzarella

It was our first experiment with this new pizza dough and we were pretty pleased with the results. We decided we need to invest in a pizza stone and a pizza cutter. We've always just gone the pizzetta route so it hasn't really ever been necessary. But I guess ... it's time. It's time to get down with pizza culture and really do this thing.

Look for more pizzas coming out of this kitchen.



I feel like our weekend lasted about 10 minutes, but it was very nice. We had great weather. We had friends over. We went out for tex mex. I mean ... that's pretty much ideal by our standards. But for some reason it felt like it flew by. Oh well. I guess that's just the nature of weekends.

We started off Friday with a bit at Lobo. We hadn't been in a few minutes so we figured it was fine. I had some lovely pork tacos and Meena had her chicken enchiladas in garlic cream sauce.

Saturday morning I whipped up a bit of a garbage breakfast with some fridge leftovers. I threw together the following in a gratin dish:
- wheat bread
- seafood gumbo
- marinara
- egg
- sea salt
- black pepper
- sambal oelek
- cheddar cheese

Probably not very good for us, but pretty delicious.

We had a great Saturday night. Dan and Steve made their way over to the CG for a bit of dinner and laugher at our spot. Meena threw together an amazing veggie lasagna:
- lasagna noodles
- homemade marinara (tomatoes, carrot, celery, onion, basil, bay leaf, salt, sugar and garlic)
- ricotta
- egg
- zucchini
- squash
- carrot
- parmesan
- smoked mozzarella
- shredded mozzarella

I made a little starter that featured:
- balsamic pancakes
- garlic and chive sour cream
- salmon with spicy plum bbq

Meena also made a spin dip that was A W E S O M E. It featured:
- spinach
- artichokes
- parmesan
- sour cream
- mayo
- garlic
- salt

Again, not very good for us, but so so so so so delicious.

I also had to give Dan's limited edition DKNY Chandon bottle up there. Not bad. It had a little bit of a fruit finish. But fun, nonetheless. Very much a party drink!

Saturday morning we had a little egg, ham and cheese:
- egg
- swiss cheese
- whole wheat flat bread
- siracha
- field greens
- canadian bacon

Nothing noteworthy, but still pretty awesome.

Last night we just finished off the lasagna with one Matt C. I think it was even better the second time around. I love it when that happens.



That's one of my more straightforward titles, but hey ... that's what I had last night. I guess I'm just calling this one as I see it. Nothing too fancy. Just a quick meal I made for myself after a long day at the office. Meena was at the opening of some movie about shopping (she said it's what you'd expect), but I was able to keep a bit of this back for her.

I threw the following in the pan:
- white onion
- green onion
- olive oil
- garlic
- sea salt
- chili powder
- black pepper
- marinara
- water
- red wine vinegar
- salmon
- sambal oelek
- frozen peas
- shrimp
- brown rice

My shrimp was frozen so I just threw it in at the very end to coat and warm it through. I hate when shrimp get all ... shrimpy and overcooked. So they were the final ingredient. But I loved the way the salmon sorta melted into the gumbo and gave the whole thing a nice seafood flavor. The brown rice clung to the sauce and each bite was pulsing with tomato, spice and hints of smooth salmon.

Pretty awesome. This is another one of those 30 minute meals. Just chop a few things and get some rice on the stove and when it's all done, mix. And serve.



We were slowly lulled into a trance by the one and only Zaytoons last night. We were going to cook but when we got home an realized we needed to get amped up for a new LOST episode, we just decided that Zaytoons was the way to go.

Nothing special. Just the normal order. We started with a small Zaytoons mix. Then Meena had:
- chicken shawirma sandwich

Alec had:
- skish kebab sandwich

I thought it was spelled shawarma all this time but the sticker on Meena's sandwich claims another method. I suppose it's probably correct. Unclear. I'll have to get back to everyone on that one.

Anyway, everything was spot on. I had mine with a bit of peri peri and Meena used siracha. Delicious.



I know any frequent reader has seen enough pizzettas to last them a lifetime, but they're just sooooooooo good. And easy. And they are a relatively clean option. I mean, I just use a knife, a skillet and chopping block. Things in the kitchen are typically put away and clean by the time we sit down to eat. I feel like stuff tastes better when you know there aren't any major dishes waiting for you when everything is complete.


Last night we just continued on our path of cleaning up all available leftovers from the souper boule and started throwing together bbq and tortillas and love. Here's the full breakdown of what we used:
- flour tortilla
- slow roasted pork butt bbq
- marinara
- mozzarella
- green onion
- sweet onion (with chili powder and sea salt)
- black pepper
- mixed field greens
- hot peri peri sauce

There was one that also got a touch of Meena's bleu cheese dip. Just a dollop because that was all that remained, but I felt it was worth noting.

Everything was delicious. The sweet of the bbq went very well with the saltiness of the cheese and peri peri sauce. Each bite was stuffed with flavor. A crisp little flour shell packed with pork, cheese, onion and sauce. I mean ... these are going going be around forever. They're a staple in our kitchen. That's just a fact.