Thursday, September 30, 2010

CONSIDER THIS AN IOU, READERS.

It's been a busy month of cooking and eating and I currently owe you...

THE FOLLOWING RECIPES:

Vegan Pumpkin Ice Cream
Vegan Pumpkin Cookies
Salted Pumpkin Seeds
Mint Green Tea with Kiwi
Garlic, Lime, & Ginger Rotini
Pumpkin Granola Breakfast Muffin
Bruschetta / Bruschetta Pizza
Veggie Pie (veggie pizza)
Vegan Baked Ziti
Vegan Baked Lasagna
Vegan Stuffed Shells
And of course... "Peace, Love, Guacamole"

THE FOLLOWING NON-VEGAN RECIPES:

Beer Steak with Peppers and Onions
Garlic Monster Mashed "Beer Potato!"
Nom-Nom Breakfast Burritos

THE FOLLOWING REVIEWS:

Foodswings, Brooklyn, NY
Yaffa Cafe, East Village, NYC
Eurasian, Red Bank, NJ
Benny's Burritos, West Village, NYC

Sorry for the lack of updates, but I have been out and about gathering ideas and testing out new restaurants in NYC as well as spending hours in the kitchen over a stove creating new and inventive dishes to eat and to sell. I do light catering if you're ever interested in having someone do the work while you sit and relax, by the way, so feel free to contact me with comments and questions!

Friday, September 17, 2010

RIVER CITY EXTENSION @ GLASSLANDS, BROOKLYN

River City Extension played The Glasslands Gallery in Brooklyn last night. They, of course, did not disappoint, even after my high expectations following the Gogol Bordello show at Starland Ballroom last July where they opened with The Dead Kenny G's (who by the way are absolutely insane and wonderful and are SO worth checking out live!) for their gypsy punk headliner.  The gallery itself is located in the most obscure spot humanly possible which I very well may never have found had I not thought to acquire directions prior to making the voyage from New Jersey to Brooklyn.  It's off the Bedford stop on the L, down a bunch of blocks, past what appears to be somewhat abandoned (or at least closed and abandoned for the night) buildings, around a corner and down toward the water.  Walking back did not take nearly as much time as walking there, but I blame my quest for some delicious vegan fast food at FoodSwings for side-tracking me to Grand for an hour. (You can read about that on my food blog by clicking HERE). 

Anyway, the venue is this little "hole in the wall" sort of place that is deceiving from the outside.  Inside you have a very creative, inventive, swanky sort of vibe with a bar to your right, a bathroom with a shower in it, vines on the walls, church pews to sit in, a little overhang that reminds me of what a fort from when I was 9 would look like had I made one now complete with a few tables and chairs with flickering candles.  The stage is framed by a piece of installation art resembling clouds against a sky blue wall, elevating the bands into the heavens and creating a very gorgeous visual.  They are a fully licensed bar so there is beer on tap, some in bottles, wine, and other lovely spirits.  I stuck to a night of Shock Top myself.  The sound quality was considerably better than average and the event was fairly priced: $10 ADV / $12 DOS.  This is the way shows used to be, the way they should be... no ticket, pay at the door, get your hand stamped, reasonably priced drinks, and a very intimate, inviting, and inspiring environment.  Needless to say: I was most impressed by the space. I won't lie, though, it was slightly overrun by catty hipsters... but this is Brooklyn we're talking about, and Bedford at that.

Now, on to the show...

The opening band (Only Son) reminded me much of bands I would see in high school and the singer had a voice that I never expected to come out of his body. If I had more cash on me, I'd have looked into buying their CD. It's a nice mix of slow and upbeat with a very chill sound. Apparently the singer (Jack Dishel) was also the lead guitarist for The Moldy Peaches. I can dig that. Anyway, you can check them out on myspace if you'd like a sampling of their music, but they had a very different feel live. Perhaps I am partial to live music or perhaps these recordings do not do them justice. Regardless, check them out.

Second up was a band called Common Prayer whose website pretty much sums up the experience of seeing them live. The most valuable members of the band (musically) are without a doubt the singer and the drummer, flanked by an interesting keyboardist with a very ska scene vibe and ensemble to match, and two women with varied talents.  One had a very sweet sort of style that reminded me of a friend from youth group ten years back. She sang and played a free standing drum. The other woman had the most peculiar style to match her instrumental expertise... she reminded me of a young Sophia from the golden girls (strictly based on her choice of glasses and hairstyle) and played the clarinet, a milk pail, and a coach whistle in addition to singing as vocal support to the lead singer. Their music is a little bit of Unicorns meets Neutral Milk Hotel, meets a mellowed-out family in the south playing banjo and whatever other creative instruments they had lying on their front porch. Listening to their music on myspace has a VERY different effect than seeing them live because of the visual distraction of how eclectic this band really was. It reminded me of a family of roomates, not that that's a bad thing, but it was different... more relaxed. I'd give their CD a shot to listen to in the car or just relaxing and editing photos or writing. The singer's voice reminds me a bit of Delta Spirit whom I love because of their fist album and am supporting through their second despite its different feel.

After a significant time of technical difficulties from the bands prior, we finally did get to enjoy River City Extension. Here are some clips from the show (I am sorry if the sound is a bit blown out... I just got a new camera that I am not quite used to filming with yet!):



Something Salty, Something Sweet



Our New Intelligence



Friends & Family






With the single tweet: "River City Extension does not disappoint." I believe I summed up their performance. They were well worth the wait to see them between sets. Great job, guys. Very tight. I really appreciate the energy in an amazing live show... and quite frankly that was some of the hottest drumming I've seen in a long time.

The headliner for the night was Nicole Atkins and the Black Sea who is described on myspace as "heartache in combat boots climbing a mountain in the dreamy lands." The woman has quite a voice on her, let me tell you that. I'd have enjoyed her more had the venue not become a bit of a sauna from the energy of the crowd mixed with the humidity of what was apparently an insanely destructive storm outside... it was also after 1am, so I was starting to lose steam after a long day of being awake, traveling in, enjoying vegan fast food, and consuming numerous beers. Check her out and see what you think for yourselves... it's some very cool stuff if you're into sexy female singers. She's apparently on tour with The Black Keys on the west coast for the next few weeks if you're out there and want to check her out live.

Sadly ducking out early into a light drizzle, we caught the L to 14th, grabbed some garlic knots, and then waited an eternity for the PATH (which, as always, was only running one way at 2am and that way was of course not the direction we wished to head... I think it's NYC trying to tell us to stay).  Rolled in around 3am and passed out cold.  Overall, a great success on an otherwise stormy, dismal night.

And now, for a little exit music...

Friday, September 10, 2010

LET US NOM: CREAMY GARLIC SPAGHETTI

Perhaps you find yourself drawn to the scent of garlic, herbs, and spices as they simmer on the stove... mixing gently with tomato and cheese to delicately coat the pound of whole grain spaghetti eagerly awaiting in the colander above the sink.  You walk into the kitchen to peer over my shoulder and observe the gentle care taken to delicately fold the glorious concoction of condiments into the heaping pile of noodles whose exotic complexion compliments the creamy mixture as it crashes over each strand.  You close your eyes to take in the aroma as I stir the pasta gently before scooping it into a tiny ceramic dish.  A sprinkling of fresh parmesan tops off the dish like a dusting of winter snow discovered upon waking.  You follow me into the living room and with a gentle clink of the fork to the bowl, you know dinner is complete.

I curl up beside you on the sofa, sitting cross-legged, my own bowl of pasta in my lap as I rub my hands together in excitement for the feast.  As you take your first bite, I watch intently for your reaction, proud of my accomplishment and eager to begin eating myself.  You say to me that you do not understand- you are not overwhelmed by garlic and the sauce is so creamy, but I did not use milk.  "Well, well," I say, "let me share with you my secret."

Okay, here's your toolbox:
- pot large enough to boil 1 lb spaghetti
- stirring utensil
- measuring spoons
- colander
- bowl/fork (for serving)

Here's your shopping list:
- 1 lb Barilla Whole Grain Spaghetti
- 3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 jar Francesco Rinaldi Marinara (or Sweet & Tasty Tomato) Sauce
- basil
- oregano
- pepper
- parsley
- sea salt
- extra virgin olive oil
- Veggie Shreds
- 2 heaping tbs Country Crock
- 1 tbs of fresh grated parmesan cheese

Estimated nom time: less than 15 minutes from time of boil.

Here's the breakdown:
- Set your pot of water on the stove top with just a pinch of sea salt to quicken the boil
- Add olive oil to prevent the strands from sticking (and garlic... if you so desire)
- Remove the Whole Grain Spaghetti from the box, gently placing it in the boiling water at a 45 degree angle.  Please, oh please, DO NOT break the strands in half... gently use a utensil to push the ends into the pot until they are submerged completely.
- Set your timer: 6 minutes.
- Do not walk away.  Stir your pasta periodically to ensure separation of strands & even cooking.
- Gently press down on each clove, removing the tip with a knife.  The rest should peel off.
- Mince the garlic into tiny squares and put aside.
- When you hear that magical beep, six minutes have passed and you can drain your pasta.
- Shake the spaghetti in the colander a few times to help the water find its way out.
- Leave the colander and spaghetti suspended over the sink and return to the stove.
- Using the same pot (saves water & time while washing!) coat the bottom with a layer of olive oil.
- Dump the garlic into the olive oil and let simmer on your lowest setting.  Be careful not to let the garlic burn or brown.  From my experience, it tastes HORRIBLE.  If this happens, throw it away and start over.  Seriously.  Badly cooked garlic could ruin ANYONE's appetite... even the Garlic Monster's!
- Scoop out two heaping tablespoons of Country Crock and stir them around until melted.
- Add a handful of Veggie Shreds (mozzarella), stir until melted.
- Note that you have a creamy mixture that may stick to the pot.
- Add in the jar of Francesco Rinaldi and continue to stir.
- Cover half the surface of the sauce with basil.
- Cover the full surface of the sauce with oregano.
- Add pepper at your own discretion.
- Add one pinch (literally) of parsley.
- Continue to stir until mixed fully.
- Remove the spaghetti from the colander and pour into the still-simmering sauce.
- Gently fold the sauce into the spaghetti, being sure to cover ever surface.
- After folding the sauce into the heaping pile of spaghetti, stir.
- Scraping from the bottom (to make sure you get enough garlic!) place pasta into designated bowl.
- Top of with approx. 1-2 table spoons of fresh grated parmesan cheese... and serve!

This is one of my favorite meals to prepare and even more so to eat.  I hope you enjoy... and  please feel free to comment with pictures, suggestions, modifications, and family reactions!

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