I love eating, cooking and especially reading about all different types of food. Every month I'll try recipes from some of my favorite culinary magazines and cook books, review restaurants and even share some of my own creations. I'll post pictures and let you know what works, how they taste and tips to make them better. I'll also enlist some friends around the country to tell you about some great food finds where they live.

Become a follower and check in each week for a new FOODIE TRIAL!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day Brunch in Brooklyn 2011

We had a beautiful Father's Day today.  The weather held up, clear skies and warm breezes. I had my folks and my brother and his family over for brunch and late day snacks. 
My parents, Violet and Skip
Adrian, Christopher, Max
It was my brothers first time at my place, and he and his family got to see our great view!  The kids were excited...and nervous at the same time looking out the window on the 41st Floor.  

 We listened to some great music (playlist at the end), played catch outside and, oh yeah, ate some great food. 
Time to eat! Mom cutting up Max's French Toast, Chris isn't waiting for anyone!  More syrup please!
The boys playing catch outside.
Uncle Clarence getting his throw on!
 On today's menu:




Late Day Snacks

Try baking the Bacon in the oven.  Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Wrap a cookie sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil and place the bacon on the sheet.  Place in the middle of the oven.  Bake until bacon is cooked through and crispy to your liking.  Depending on the bacon, you may need to drain the bacon grease at some point during the baking process.  Once finished, drain on paper towel.
Thick cut bacon

The Shrimp Cocktail is quite simple, 2 lbs of peeled and deveined shrimp, boiling water with salt.  Have an ice and water bath ready.  Don't over cook the shrimp!  Once the water comes back to a boil, they should be done.  Transfer the shrimp with a slotted spoon to the ice bath mixture to stop the cooking.  You can try adding Old Bay Seasoning to the water for a seasoned version.
Easy Shrimp Cocktail

Our Charcuterie 
  • Prosciutto
  • Sweet Coppa
  • Havarti
  • Gorgonzola
  • Brie
  • Slices of Toasted Baguette
  • Wheat Crackers
  • Gherkins
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Fig Jam

Pico de Gallo
The Pico de Gallo recipe is the same from 3/15/10 post, without the corn.  We're loving 
Xochitl chips.  They are light and crispy!

Below are recipes for the French Toast and Quiche.  

Serves 6-8 people

Banana Sauce ingredients
Spiced Banana Sauce
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 6 tbsp (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 4 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup light cream
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp dark rum
  • 3 small ripe bananas, peeled, cut on diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 overripe banana, mashed

In a heavy pan, stir in butter and brown sugar over medium heat until butter is melted, whisking occasionally. Whisk the sauce until it boils, then remove from heat. Whisk in lemon juice, nutmeg, cinnamon, rum and whisk to blend. Add all the bananas into the sauce, stir gently and set aside until French Toast is ready to be served.  Reheat on stove top, add water if it gets to thick.

French Toast w/ Powdered Sugar
French Toast
  • 1½ cups half-and-half
  • 1 ½ cups light cream
  • 10 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ of a vanilla pod scraped
  • 2 loaves of fresh challah bread, 1/2-inch slices (no ends)
  • 1 tsp powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine half and half, light cream, eggs, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and vanilla beans scraped from pod.  Blend or whisk briskly until frothy and thoroughly mixed.  Place vanilla bean pod back in mixture.

Heat an electric non-stick griddle to 300 degrees. There is no need to butter the griddle unless you want to.  Take 3 pieces of bread in a stack, place in bowl, turn over each slice to coat well, shake off excess.  Place on griddle.  Repeat.  Brown on each side, about 3-4 minutes on each side.  Place the browned slices on a cookie sheet and place in the oven to keep warm.

Once all the French Toast has been made, place on a platter and sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with Spiced Banana Sauce.

Delicious Quiche

Serves 6-8 people

  • 1 deep-dish frozen pie crust, thawed
  • 6 slices of bacon, chopped into1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 2 cups arugula chopped
  • 2 cups spinach chopped
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 ½ oz shredded Gruyère cheese

Follow directions for pre-baking a frozen deep dish pie crust. 

Place bacon in heavy pan over medium-high heat until they get nice and crispy.  Try not to overcook or burn, about 7-8 minutes. Once crispy, remove bacon (save the drippings) and drain on paper towels. Add shallots to same pan, add some of the drippings and sauté about 2 minutes. Add spinach and arugula and sauté until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add balsamic vinegar, toss.

Add half of the greens mixture and bacon over pre-baked crust. Briskly whisk cream, eggs, salt and pepper in large bowl to blend. Stir in cheese and remaining greens and bacon and pour into crust.

Bake quiche about 35-40 minutes until filling is puffy and golden. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.


Here is the playlist from today's brunch:

  1. Rock With You - Michael Jackson
  2. Nights Over Egypt - The Jones Girls
  3. Running Away - Roy Ayers
  4. Green Onions - Booker T. & The MG's
  5. Could It Be I'm Falling in Love - The Spinners
  6. Misdemeanor - Foster Sylvers
  7. Hard to Handle - Patti Drew
  8. All I Do - Stevie Wonder
  9. Stolen Moments - Ahmad Jamal Trio
  10. Honky Tonk - Bill Doggett
  11. Evil Vibrations - The Mighty Ryders
  12. When She Made Me Promise - Funky
  13. It's My Thing - Marva Whitney
  14. Definition - Black Star           
  15. The Bottle - Gil Scott-Heron
  16. Forget Me Nots - Patrice Rushen
  17. Lovely Day - Bill Withers
  18. As - Stevie Wonder
  19. Swahililand - Ahmad
  20. Places and Spaces - Donald Byrd
  21. What Cha' Gonna Do For Me - Chaka Khan
  22. Things Are Getting Better - N*E*R*D
  23. Stakes Is High - De La Soul
  24. Beijo (Interlude) - Earth Wind & Fire
  25. Party Time - Roy Porter
  26. Different Strokes - Syl Johnson
  27. Summer in the City - Quincy Jones
  28. MoneyGrabber - Fitz & The Tantrums           
  29. If You Really Love Me - Stevie Wonder
  30. Proceed - The Roots
  31. Back Together Again - Donny Hathaway
  32. Move On Up - Curtis Mayfield           
  33. Harvest For The World - The Isley Brothers
  34. I Got The... - Labi Siffre
  35. California Soul - Marlena Shaw
  36. May - December - Mos Def

Monday, May 23, 2011

Gilt Groupe launches Gilt Taste

Last week the folks at Gilt Groupe launched a new addition to their stable of sites called Gilt Taste.
Still in beta form, this new site is headed up by Editorial Advisor Ruth Reichl. She was the former editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine and currently hosts PBS's Gourmet's Adventures with Ruth. If you haven’t watched this show, do so, she’s great! The site is a combination of an on-line market showcasing hard to find provisions and a culinary magazine. They’ve assembled a note worthy group of contributors and I’m very excited to see what they have to offer each week.
Current articles include Redeeming the Lobster Roll by Melissa Clark, a well known cookbook author, and Confessions of a Chocolate Hater by Lila Byock. There is also some great photography on the site as well. Check out images from Andrew Scrivani in both the lobster and asparagus stories.

They start offering weekly specials this summer, similar to Gilt City or Jetsetter, but for now they do have lots of great items to buy. Here are some items you can purchase now:
  • Meat - Becker Lane Organic Farm - 3 lb Pork Belly - $39.95
  • Seafood - California Caviar Company - American Hackleback Gift Package - $140.00
  • Cheese & Dairy - Murray's Cheese - The Perfect Meal: all'Amatriciana - $59.00
  • Pantry - Gourmet Attitude - Truffle Honey - $19.95
  • Sweets - John & Kira - Bee Chocolates - $29.00
  • Produce - Wine Forest - Mushroom Medley - $40.00
  • Equipment – Boxsal - Office Escape Picnic - $25.00
I’ll put a link to the site under FOOD MAGAZINE SITES on the right side of the page.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Las Vegas

Last week I was in Las Vegas, staying at the new Cosmopolitan Hotel for 4 nights and had a chance to eat at some great restaurants.

Saturday night I went to Fleming's Steakhouse with my uncle.  It's off the strip in Summerlin, which is close to where he lives.  For a chain restaurant, this place was really nice.  The steaks were delicious and the service was unmatched.  The atmosphere was beautiful and gave the space a warm, cozy feeling.

We started with the Lobster and Vegetable Tempura with red jalapeno pepper and soy-ginger sauces, Jumbo Lumo Crab Cakes with roasted red pepper and lime butter sauce and the Wicked Cajun BBQ Shrimp marinated with a flair of garlic and spices.  All were quite good.  I thought the shrimp dish was a bit disappointing.  It came with 4 medium size shrimp swimming in a gratin dish of a creamy sauce.  If I had known about the sauce, I would not have ordered it.

We all got steaks, a Filet Mignon (Main), Prime Ribeye and Prime Bone-In Ribeye.  The steaks were perfectly seasoned and cooked to perfection.  We ordered the string beans and mushrooms as the sides.  These were perfect accoutrements to the steaks.

They have a large wine list with over a 100 wines by the glass.  We stayed clear of dessert because we were so full, but the choices looked good.

Sunday I was lucky enough to have dinner with my other Uncle who, surprisingly, was in town for vacation!  We went to Texas de Brazil, a chain Brazilian steakhouse.  All in all, it's a decent place, but just be prepared to overeat.  There is so much food and the meats are really delicious.  You can't have a bad meal here.  Needless to say, I fell into a meat coma as soon as I got home.

Monday was Valentines Day and I was lucky enough to spend it with my honey.  We went to Nobu at the Hard Rock hotel.  Nobu has been around for years and you know what to expect when you dine there.  Of course, we had the Miso Black Cod, which was divine.  Tons of rolls and sashimi.  We were dissappointed with the lobster ceviche, which we were obsessed with at the Nobu in San Diego.  The menu is a little different, but we were expecting a similar taste.  Oh well.  We have the recipe at home, so we'll make it one night for ourselves.  The sake was delicious, we had the Nobu TK40, sweet and very refreshing.  Very easy to drink.  If you are in NY, Crush Wine sells it and has free delivery to all five boroughs.

Tuesday was quite a night.  I had a 9:30pm reservation at STK in the Cosmopolitan Hotel.  Needless to say, this was the worst restaurant experience I've ever had.  These were the most pretentious, obnoxious, rude and unprofessional people.  I don't mind waiting 15 minutes for a reservation, but we didn't sit down until 10:45pm.  No one at the host desk apologized, offered us a round of drinks, nothing.  They just ignored us. When we finally sat down, the woman who sat us didn't even apologize.  We had a very nice waiter who was apologetic even though it wasn't his fault.  He got the "manager" for us and some guy named Josh came over, apologized and offered to "take care of us" during our dining experience.  That never happened.  Honestly, I don't want to waste anymore time writing about this place.

Wednesday was such a pleasant night.  It was my last night in Vegas and I was going to one of my favorite places, Blue Ribbon Sushi, also located at the Cosmopolitan Hotel.  They have one in Brooklyn and Manhattan, so I was very excited to try this one out.  The service was top notch, the waiter was as nice as can be, handsome as well.  As for the food, I had the Negamaki which just melted in your mouth, it was so delicious.  The sashimi was great, as was the spicy lobster and Blue Ribbon roll.  The Kanpachi Usuzukuri, which is sliced amberjack with yuzu pepper, was pefect. The yuzu pepper had the right amount of heat and the citrusy soy sauce it came with was divine.  The end all was the Oxtail Fried Rice with daikon, shitake and bone marrow.  It was perfectly cooked, almost creamy with the bone marrow.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Recipes from Super Bowl Sunday!

Turkey Chili

12-16 servings
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 lbs ground turkey
  • 3 large white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers (any color), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 red pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1/3 cup chili powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2-3 chipotles in adobo + 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • 2 (28 oz) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 1 (16 oz) carton chicken broth
  • 1-2 (15 oz) can(s) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt

Accompaniments: grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped avocado, diced sweet onion, chopped scallions, sliced jalapenos, chopped radishes

Heat an extra large, heavy stock pot on high heat, add 2 tablespoons of canola oil. Once the oil is hot, add the turkey. Make sure the turkey gets browned for extra flavor. Before it's fully cooked, remove and put aside in a bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of canola oil, onions, peppers and garlic. Saute until onions are golden brown. Add the oregano, cumin, chili powder, bay leaves, chipotles and adobo sauce. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, chicken broth, kidney beans, brown sugar and salt.

Simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring every 20-30 minutes. Adjust spices and heat to your taste throughout the cooking process.

Pigeon Peas and Rice

10-12 servings
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups long grain rice
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 2 (15 oz) cans green pigeon peas, drained
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
Heat the olive oil in a large (4-6 quart) heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic and peppers, saute until lightly browned. Add oregano, cumin, bay leaf and cayenne. Stir for 1-2 minutes. Add rice, chicken broth, pigeon peas and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, simmer covered for 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

For the Pico de Gallo recipe, check the March 16th post.

The Rum Cake recipe....not happening, sorry, family secret.

Chocolate Chip Cookies - It was a mix from a bakery in San Francisco called Specialty's.  The best cookies ever.  If you know anyone who's headed to California, Chicago or Washington, ask them to pick up a box of mix for you!!

Roast Pork, this was done by Mr. Steele.  Feel free to email him for his recipe.

Lemonade with Thyme - Get organic fresh thyme, bruise a bit, and tie a bunch with butcher twine.  Add to the lemonade and let it sit overnight.  Drink as is, or add vodka!

Rum Punch - To make a large pitcher, combine fruit punch (frozen or from the refrigerated section), OJ, pineapple juice, peach nectar, cranberry juice, grenadine.  Add rum to your liking.

Let me know if you have any questions.  Stay tuned for the next installment.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

7 days until the re-launch of The Foodie Trials

First, I'd like to say thanks to everyone who has asked about and supported The Foodie Trials during the 5 months it's been on hiatus.

Since I've moved back to NY, it's been an "interesting" journey back home, but worth all the pains involved.  Do I miss San Francisco, I do, especially the weather!  We've had snow fall every week for the past 4 weeks.  I'm over it, especially when the temp in SF is 60 degrees.  I also miss the good friends I made out there that still keep in touch with me.  Thanks guys!

The apartment is finally looking like a home, with just a few tweaks still needed here and there.  All in all, we are ready for folks to come out to Brooklyn to visit.

Now, let's talk about NY and food.  Getting back into the swing of things is tough with this extreme weather.  But currently, my motivation has come through NYC Restaurant Week, which is happening now.  It gives you the opportunity to try restaurants offering prix fixe lunches and dinners.  I've been able to tackle a few:
This coming week I'll try Fig & Olive and Lure Fish Bar.  It's also giving me the opportunity to reconnect with friends, which has been a blast.

Super Bowl XLV is Sunday, February 6th. 
Although we're upset that the Jets didn't make it, we're still up for watching Pittsburgh and Green Bay duke it out.  I'll be home preparing some really delicious Super Bowl dishes.  The lineup for Sunday will be:

  • Slow Roasted Pork  - I think we know who'll be preparing this...We'll serve this with some warm potato rolls in case anyone wants to make sliders.
  • Pigeon Peas & Rice - also known as Arroz con Gandules, can be used as a side for the pork or to use as a base for the chili.
  • Turkey Chili - I make a super chunky, hearty chili with lots of veggies and a few surprise ingredients.  I'll leave out the beans since there will be beans in the rice.
  • Fresh Crudite with Hummus - I'm debating whether to make the hummus from scratch as I'm a huge fan of Tribes Hummus . Stay tuned.
  • Pico de Gallo with chips- This is a tradition in my house.  Pico de gallo is made for pretty much every sports event at the house.  I like to make guacamole as well, but avocados are so expensive right now, unless I can find them on sale, it won't happen.
  • Cookies - we'll have some fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.
  • Rum Cake - for those of you who know me, it's a given.
Drinks - Classic Rum Punch, Thyme Scented Lemonade, Beer, Wine and Spirits.

I'll start posting details on all the recipes starting Friday in case you're interested in any of these dishes.  Full details and pics on Monday.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Foodie Trials will be back in a few weeks!

Hi Everyone!

Sorry it's been so long since you've heard from me, but there are a lot of exciting new things happening...I'm moving back to NY in 9 days!  Once I get settled in, THE FOODIE TRIALS will pick up where it left off.  I'm excited to be back in the greatest city in the world.

Thanks for your patience, stay tuned.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

A page from my "book" - Jerk Seasoning, Black Bean Soup

As I anticipate my upcoming trip to the Virgin Islands, I think about all the food I love to have that reminds me of family and my culture.  Caribbean food is influenced mainly by African, European and Latin cuisine.  Depending on the island, the influence could be skewed towards one cuisine more than the other.  Either way, Caribbean food is complex, full of flavor and ranges from simple to complicated.

This week, I started the meal with a really delicious Black Bean Soup.  YOU HAVE TO TRY THIS, IT'S SO EASY AND DELICIOUS!  All you need is a pot and a blender.  No soaking of beans involved.

Easy Black Bean Soup
Servings: 2

2 tbsp vegetable oil 
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, peeled, finely chopped
1/2 stalk celery, finely chopped 
2 garlic cloves peeled, finely chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
2 cups chicken stock
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained
4 shakes of Tabasco
2 tsp red or white wine vinegar 
2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped

2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
2 tbsp red pepper, finely chopped
2 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp jalapeño pepper finely chopped, no seeds
Kosher salt 

Heat oil in large stock pot over medium-low heat.  Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic.  Saute until vegetables are soft, not burnt, about 8-10 minutes.  Add salt and pepper, bay leaves, and stir for about 2 minutes.  Add stock, beans and Tabasco.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring every 8-10 minutes.  In the last 5 minutes, add the vinegar and 2 tbsp of the cilantro and stir.

For the topping, combine cilantro, red pepper, red onion and jalapeno in a small bowl.  Season with salt.  Set aside. 

Because hot liquids expand when blended, make sure you don't fill the blender more than half way.  Carefully transfer half the beans to the blender.  Remove the cap from the hole in the lid, and cover with a kitchen towel.  Start the blender on low and increase the speed until you get a smooth consistency.  Repeat until you've blended all the beans.

Pour the soup into each bowl and add topping to the middle of each bowl. 

Jerk is one of those seasonings that is a staple in the Caribbean.  It has its roots in Jamaica.  Normally the seasoning is made up of a number of herbs and spices and has a thick paste consistency.  My Jerk is more of a wet marinade.  It can be used with any type of meat or poultry...even fish.

Jerk Seasoning
6 scallions, roughly chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, roughly chopped (mild - remove the seeds, spicy - keep the seeds)
1 habanero pepper or scotch bonnet peppers, roughly chopped (hot - remove the seeds, crazy hot - keep the seeds)
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tbsp onion powder
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp dark brown sugar

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Adjust salt and heat levels.

For the best results, marinate your meat or chicken at least 4 hours, overnight is best.  If using fish, it doesn't need as long.

I served my jerk chicken with fresh corn on the cob and white rice. 

Please let me know if you try these and let me know what you think!