Friday, my friend, Wheat Free Sarah (WFS), and I, along with others, decided to go to Beast in Brooklyn. I was immediately regretting my decision to try a gluten free lifestyle after I saw roasted garlic with grilled bread on the menu. I was even more annoyed with myself when fresh, warm bread was delivered to our table and I was forced to watch gluten-loving Sarah S devour it with reckless abandon.

But alas, WFS and I did find several items on the menu that were without gluten. Here they are, in all their gluten free glory:

Grilled, marinated artichokes, green beans, lemon aioli and shaved parmesan.

Roasted Brussels sprouts with stips of thick cut bacon and sweet onion.

 

Pan-seared dry sea scallops, butternut squash puree, fried leeks and a balsamic reduction.

 

Citrus-marinated skirt steak with arugala and chipotle aioli.

Beast was a delight to say the least. A memorable, epicurean experience. I will be back. In the meantime, I’m enjoying reading Ricky Silver’s blog, where he recently addressed the issue of a gluten free lifestyle — and successfully cleared up some confusion regarding the topic.

Gluten Be Gone

January 15, 2012

Call it trendy, call it unnecessary for most, but don’t call it a waste of time, energy and money.

After my friend Sarah was forced to embrace the wheat-free lifestyle, I started hearing about — and seeing — the benefits. After doing much research on the Mayo Clinic’s website, I decided to give gluten-free a shot. If I didn’t like it after a test and saw no benefits, then I could go back to my gluten-loving and gluttonous lifestyle. This is merely a test.

For my first gluten-free dish, I made brown rice pasta with sautéed Brussels sprouts, onion, cherry tomato, organic chicken sausage and olive oil. To finish off the dish, I added a generous dash of truffle salt (a great Christmas gift from fellow foodie and friend, Rob). This dish was a success and a great start to a good change.

I recently catered a plated, three-course dinner for six at the Manhattan apartment of my client, Jenelle, an amazing woman with amazing friends. After discussing various options for the menu with her, we decided on the following courses:

Ginger carrot soup with a dollop of cream.

This soup is one of my favorites. It is healthy and light but surprisingly filling and flavorful. I often make a large batch of this soup along with some toasted brioche to eat as lunch for the week. It’s pretty strong on the ginger with the recipe below so if you’re a ginger lover, it’s fine as is. If you only like a hint of ginger, however, you may want to add less.

2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, peeled and chopped
6 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger (about a 2-inch piece)
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and white pepper

In a dutch oven (preferably) add butter and onion and cook until onion is translucent. Add broth, ginger and carrot and bring to a simmer, cooking until carrots are tender. Add salt and pepper. Turn off heat and use hand blender (or standing blender) to blend ingredients until consistency is smooth but still thick. Add more broth if needed. Garnish with cream. EAT!

Miso glazed cod, haricot vert with carmelized shallot and sliced almonds, and roasted rosemary potatoes.

Bread pudding spheres with homemade whipped cream served atop bananas foster.

Let’s be honest — fire is fun. That’s one of the reasons I love making bananas foster. The other reason? It’s #&*ing delicious! On top of this banana and brown sugar bonanza I added bread pudding rounds. I only have one piece of advice for bread pudding — use challah bread and only challah bread. I also added crushed walnuts to the mix, figuring they would go great with the bananas. They did.

The night was a success!

And thanks to Joseph Zwielich for the great photos on this page.

Braised Rabbit at Al Di La

October 25, 2011

Of course rabbits are cute, but did you know they’re also delicious?

For the three years I’ve lived in Park Slope, I have wanted to try the Italian treasures at Al Di La after hearing and reading rave reviews. Last night, epicurean dreams came true.

For starters, we ordered the a salad topped with grilled sardines in a light, citrus dressing. The fish were flaky, salty and moist — everything you’d expect from fresh sardines. The dressing was lemon based, but not pungent enough to take over the taste of the fish. The mini red and orange cherry tomatoes were tart and tasty — I wished there more on the plate.

For my my main dish, I opted for the braised rabbit served with black olives and silky polenta. Having never tried rabbit, I was completely unaware of what to expect. The meat was pearly white and unbelievably moist with a charred outside that added an earthy, smoky flavor. Rabbit is a clean and lean meat that, though naturally somewhat subtle in taste and texture, is unbelievably delicious when prepared correctly. Now, this could have something to do with the heavenly cloud of polenta on which the rabbit was resting, ensuring a bit of buttery goodness is consumed with each bite of the tender meat. This polenta was prepared to perfection, something you can’t always say about the sometimes-hard-to-master cornmeal dish. In all, the restaurant’s braised rabbit dish is a carnivore’s delight.

My dinner guest opted for the sliced hanger steak deglazed in balsamic vinegar. She loved the texture of the meat and the way the sauce complimented the protein. Even I loved this dish and I very rarely eat steak (long story…just ask Nick).

To add a little sweetness to this meatfest, we ordered a trio of sorbets: honey, cherry and blackberry. To my surprise, the honey sorbet was the best tasting of the lot, though all were amazing. We sipped on port while we slowly enjoyed the last of a very memorable meal. I will be back.

Feeding the Fans

October 11, 2011

Who hires a caterer for a 6-person Sunday football party? Someone so awesome you wish he was your friend.

My friend Mark is serious about football — and food. For the party at his Hell’s Kitchen apartment Sunday, I came up with four manly apps, including mini BLTs, sweet and spicy meatballs, baba ghanoush (ok, maybe that one’s not so manly) and, of course, wings.

They seemed to love everything and were beginning to exhibit signs of a food coma by the time I left — I guess that’s one sign of success.

Hollowed out cherry tomatoes stuffed with a mayo, cream cheese, bacon and green onion mixture.

Meatballs simmered in a cranberry and Thai chili sauce mixture. Served in small doses to keep them hot.

Chicken wings -- Alton Brown style.

Baba ghanoush just isn’t aesthetically pleasing so there will be no pics of that. Or hummus for that matter. And if you’ve paid attention to nothing on this site so far, please pay attention to this one bit of wing knowledge: the Alton Brown method for wing preparation is superior to any other. Try it.