April 29, 2008

Avocado and Watercress Salad

I was thumbing through the light recipes on Epicurious looking for an idea for lunch. I came across this recipe for an avocado and watercress salad, which was featured in Gourmet magazine. This recipe evidently originates from Natori, a Japanese restaurant in New York. The recipe looked so great. A soy sauce based dressing that includes grated apples? How interesting! And how can you go wrong when avocados are a main feature to the dish? Plus I love the bitter taste of watercress.

I think this dish took me a whopping 15 minutes to make—perfect for a lunch. I even had some leftover to have along with my dinner. The dressing is so tasty that you should save any extra dressing for salads later in the week. I bet it would also be great served over steamed veggies, potatoes, or even a fish.

A hint: When preparing the watercress (it needs to be just the leaves and thin stems), hold the stems of the bunch in one hand. With your other hand take a chef’s knife and at an angle slide the blade along the stems away from yourself such that the leaves and thin stems are sliced off leaving behind the thicker stems. Keep doing this until all leaves are removed.

Okay, here is the recipe from Gourmet magazine (May 2008), which makes 6 servings:

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar (not seasoned)
  • 1 tablespoon grated sweet onion such as Vidalia or Walla Walla (use large holes of a box grater)
  • 1/4 cup finely grated peeled Gala apple (use small holes of box grater)
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 cups watercress (thin stems and leaves only; from 1 large bunch)
  • 1 firm-ripe avocado
  1. Stir together vinegar, onion, apple, soy sauce, and sugar until sugar has dissolved, then stir in oil.
  2. Just before serving, toss watercress with enough dressing to coat.
  3. Quarter, pit, and peel avocado, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Gently toss with watercress.

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April 26, 2008

Boqueria - New York, NY

While watching Colameco’s Food Show this past weekend, the host took us (you know, me and the other viewers) to one of his favorite Spanish tapas bars in New York—Boqueria. If you are not familiar with the TV show, the host is extremely knowledgeable about food and is refreshingly not the least bit pretentious about it. Therefore, when he makes a strong recommendation for a restaurant, I know it will be excellent.

I went to Barcelona, Spain once a couple years ago for my friends’ wedding and during this trip really fell in love with the city (you may recall the series of Spanish posts that followed). I loved the laid back culture, and the food was so fun and creative. Therefore, I am always looking for great Spanish tapas places in the city where I can relax with a glass of red wine and graze on a wide selection of small dishes. When a friend wanted to meet up the other night, I was quick to use this as an opportunity to try out Boqueria.

Boqueria is named after an area in Barcelona that is known for hosting many of the cities tapas bars. The restaurant serves mainly Catalonian and Basque dishes, but other Spanish regions are also represented. Boqueria was opened by Suba owner Yann de Rochefort and Chef/Partner Seamus Mullen.

I arrived a bit early so I ordered a glass of wine and settled at the only open spot at the bar—conveniently right where the starter dishes are arranged. As I leisurely sipped on my wine, the guy in charge of the platters kindly explained to me all the various cheeses, meats, and condiments. (FYI, being seen taking food pictures at a restaurant does always help get better service.) I was in heaven.

My friend soon arrived so we moved onto our table. True to my memories of dining in Barcelona, the waitress made of point of letting us know we could take our time and followed through on her promise by allowing us to just catch up for a little while before even looking at the menu. I really love restaurants that recognize the dining experience is not always just about the food.

When we finally moved onto the menu, we learned that it consists of a wide selection of dishes that are served everyday and also includes a list of specials. In addition to this, they have a chalk board that lists the dishes the chef came up with on a whim for the day (I suppose you could call these the specials of the specials?). We selected about five dishes, mostly from the everyday dishes. My favorites were the Datiles Con Béicon (dates stuffed with almonds and valdeón, wrapped in bacon) and the Pintxos Morunos (seared lamb marinated in lemon and cumin, salsa verde), but honestly all the dishes were great. (Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures of these since the dining area was a bit dark.)

So if you are in the mood for some Spanish tapas, I definitely recommend Boqueria!

53 W 19th St (between 5th & 6th Ave)
Phone: 212-255-4160

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April 20, 2008

Mahi-Mahi with Blood Orange, Avocado, and Red Onion Salsa

Finally Spring is arriving in New York, which means that bathing suit season is creeping up around the corner. Got it. Note to self—Ben & Jerry’s stash needs to be replaced with fat free sorbet, fries must be eliminated from diet, no more afternoon snacks are allowed, and cheese plates…well, let’s not go too crazy.

In my quest for a light dinner I found this recipe for mahi-mahi with salsa from Bon Appetit’s February 2005 issue. This is an extremely simple recipe that is quick, tasty, and will help you fit into that yellow polka dotted bikini come summertime (or man-kini for you courageous guys out there). The recipe calls for mahi-mahi, but really any white fish should work. The fishmonger at my market did not have mahi-mahi so I used hake. Tilapia should also be a good substitute.

The recipe calls for sautéing the fish in a skillet, which will give the fish a nice lightly browned top. However, if you live in a tiny apartment without an exhaust fan in the kitchen “nook” area like myself, you may want to resort to baking the fish instead. The fish won’t look as fancy, but your apartment—and your guests—will thank you for it. Just set the oven to 350 degrees, wrap the fish in tin foil with some olive oil, and cook for 35-40 minutes per pound.

Lastly, the recipe suggests that you top the fish with the salsa. I found that there was so much salsa that it completely covered the fish (yes, there is a fish hidden in that picture above). For presentation purposes, I suggest serving the salsa on the side or under the fish with a little reserved for the top.

So here is the Bon Appetit recipe for 2 servings:
  • 1 blood orange, Cara Cara orange, or regular orange
  • 1/2 cup 1/3-inch cubes avocado
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced red jalapeño
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 6-ounce mahi-mahi fillets
  1. Using small sharp knife, cut peel and white pith from orange. Working over small bowl, cut between membranes to release segments.
  2. Add avocado, onion, jalapeño, and lime juice to oranges in bowl; stir gently to blend.
  3. Season salsa to taste with salt.
  4. Heat oil in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Add fish to skillet and sauté until brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.
  5. Place 1 fillet on each of 2 plates. Spoon salsa atop fish and serve.

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