A Taste of NYC: ABC Kitchen

A Taste Of | February 27, 2015 | By

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Wow Jean-Georges, you’ve done it again. One of my favorite restaurants in NYC, ABC Cocina, has now been matched by ABC Kitchen. The Kitchen features the same fresh, top-notch ingredients, with a completely different menu. While Cocina has a small-plates/tapas-style menu with Latin flair, the Kitchen showcases a more traditional American-style dish using seasonal ingredients, all with their own twist.

I’m kind of a sucker for any “Farm-to-Table” restaurant that builds relationships with local producers. The first page of ABC Kitchen’s menu details all of the farms that the restaurant works with, which I find magnificent to learn where your food is actually coming from. Such restaurants strive to support the local ecosystems and small-time farmers in the region, which is very important in our globalized world in terms of both eating fresher ingredients and reducing overall carbon footprint.

Despite its sustainable, eco-friendly nature, ABC Kitchen is super trendy. The bar was poppin’ at 9pm on a Monday night, and the cocktail menu is fantastic albeit pricey. It also happens to be a hot celebrity-spotting site. Does anyone watch “The Big Bang Theory?” I don’t, but I recognized one of the main characters at the table next to us. After a quick IMDB search, turns out his name is Sheldon on the show.

ABC 1Ok shall we talk about the food? I took my Dad here while he was in town for business, and we started off sharing two appetizers; the crab toast and the roast carrot & avocado salad.  The hearty chunks of crab mixed with lemon aioli on a hearty slice of country bread was incredible. I also hear great things about their roasted kabocha squash toast, which I will be sure to try next time. As for the salad, I’m not sure what kind of marinade they used on the carrots, but my Dad and I both agreed they were some of the best we’ve ever had. Mixed with my favorite food in the entire world, avocado, I was in heaven with this salad. I went on to order the black bass as a main, and convinced my Dad to order ABC Kitchen’s signature fried chicken so I could have a bite. The bass was perfectly silky, light and flavorful, atop a wonderful cooked spinach mixture. The bite of the fried chicken I had was even more incredible, so moist and crispy, unlike any I’ve had.

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ABC Kitchen $$$$

35 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003

What to Order:

Drinks: Big Apple, Concord Grape Mimosa

Food: Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad, Crab Toast, Kabocha Squash Toast, Black Sea Bass, Fried Chicken, Broccoli with Cheddar Cheese Sauce, Popcorn Crunch Sundae

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Homemade peanut butter

Pantry Staples | February 24, 2015 | By

IMG_0084Peanut butter has been a staple in my diet as long as I can remember. Do you have certain foods that trigger memories? For me peanut butter never ceases to remind me of summer camp. My friend Jennie was perhaps even more obsessed with peanut butter than I was; she was deprived for most of the year living in Dubai and France where peanut butter isn’t really “a thing.” Summer in California was therefore the time to stock-up. One summer we stayed for several “sessions” at camp, and the night between sessions all of the staff had off, so we were pretty much left unsupervised. Jennie and I would sneak into the kitchen and steal a big jar of peanut butter, and host peanut butter parties amongst the redwoods. Oh the life.

Flash forward almost ten years (wow, are we really that old?), and Jennie is a nut butter aficionado. The last time I saw her I think she brought me a lemon-lavender cashew butter, and it was spectacular. In the past couple of years I’ve started making my own nut butters as well (although not usually as fancy as Jennie’s concoctions), and I always have a fresh jar of homemade peanut butter in the fridge. With a good food processor, nut butters are super easy to make, and infinitely healthier than store-bought which add tons of sugar and oils. There’s really no reason not to make your own once you learn how easy it is.

Despite being great on a piece of toast, peanut butter is a great post-workout protein boost. I eat it with bananas or throw a spoonful into a green smoothie. It’s also a great addition to an acai bowl, or great for baking. Whatever you use it for, I promise you’ll be hooked on homemade after the first batch.

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Homemade Peanut Butter

2 Cups Shelled Peanuts, unsalted

2 Tbsp Honey

A Pinch of Salt

Optional: 1-2 Tsp Peanut Oil

Directions:

Place peanuts in a food processor and blend until smooth. Note that this may take up to 5-7 whole minutes. Add honey and salt into the food processor until combined. Add the optional peanut oil for a smoother, silkier butter.

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Easy Cinnamon Yogurt Scones

Breakfast, Desserts | February 17, 2015 | By

IMG_0081Greetings from frigid New York City. Last week I was in LA enjoying refreshing acai bowls in the 85 degree sunshine, and now it’s back to hibernating inside. (At least I have an excuse for tea and scones :/) Living in NYC for the past 7 months has been an absolute whirlwind. I haven’t felt bored, lonely or even nostalgic for my former life for even a second. Yet, going on a last-minute week-long trip to LA for work was unexpectedly difficult. I saw West LA from  a visitor’s perspective for the first time, and I felt the essence of a magical vacation land that doesn’t exist in real life. Granted, I happened to go during an anomaly of a week where temperatures reached the high-80’s, and I think I forgot that it’s not always like this in February. I had forgotten what it feels like to wake up to shining sun (NYC is overcast every day in winter, it seems), and how happy something as simple as waking up to bright day light can make me feel. I went on a short run outside one day and can barely describe how euphoric it felt to run amongst palm trees and feel the sun on my back. I felt pure joy, and kept thinking, “this used to be my life?”. I guess it’s just one of those things where the grass is always greener on the other side. Now that I’ve been back in NYC for two days, my mindset is Big Apple all-the-way.

Luckily I had the day off work for Presidents’ Day, giving myself another day to ease back into NYC winter. Because it was so cold, I treated myself to a cozy day indoors watching movies, catching up on work, and getting my life back together after being gone for a week for work. Sometimes we just need a lazy day to re-boot.

I’m trying to lay-low on the carbs these days, but winter calls for comfort food. Warm whole-wheat scones just sounded like the best addition to my holiday indoors. I really hope we don’t have too many more of these days, winter is starting to get rough for this California girl, especially when I just experienced what I’m missing.

I stumbled upon this recipe and was astonished how little butter (and sugar) these scones require compared to others I’ve made. The greek yogurt keeps them very light and fluffy, and low-cal despite their hearty, flaky taste. They’re also loaded with cinnamon, my favorite. The best thing about these scones is that they took me less than 30 minutes to prepare and bake, so they’re perfect for a quick weekend breakfast.

Bon Appétit!

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Easy Cinnamon Yogurt Scones (Recipe adapted from This Life Abundant)

2 Cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

1 Tbsp Baking Powder

3 Tbsp Sugar

1 1/2 Tsp Cinnamon

A Pinch of Salt

5 Tbsp Butter, unsalted and cold

1/2 Cup Nonfat Greek Yogurt

1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp Milk of choice

Topping:

1 1/2 Tbsp Sugar

1/2 Tsp Cinnamon

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 425 Deg F. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Cut butter into tiny pieces with a sharp knife. Press butter into flour mixture with a fork, or use your hands until combined. Place bowl in the fridge or freezer momentarily. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the milk and yogurt. Slowly combine the milk/yogurt mixture into the dry ingredient mixture using a spatula until no dry mixture remains. Knead dough into a ball.

Place ball on a lightly floured surface, and press into a flat round, about 1- 1 1/2 inches thick. With a sharp knife, cut the round into 8 pieces. Place the 8 slices onto a baking tray. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon for the topping, and sprinkle onto each slice. Bake for 13-15 minutes.

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Avocado Hummus

Sides & Starters | February 3, 2015 | By

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If you guys didn’t know, last Sunday was the Super Bowl. (I may have called it “Super Bowl Saturday” in a conversation … oops). And, as you all know, the most important thing about the Super Bowl is the food.

This year, my friend Ana and her boyfriend Jon hosted a bomb.com Super Bowl viewing party. And, being the hosts they are, they provided us with a feast complete with cold Coronas, the best pulled pork sandwiches ever and the chewiest peanut butter cookies for dessert. Each of us contributed a food item to the list (including these cute football-themed deviled eggs), so needless to say, I left Ana’s place feeling pretty stuffed.

I’ve seen a few avocado hummus recipes floating across the web, so I decided to test my hand at making some. And though the hummus turned out pretty nicely, I do have a few notes for anyone who cares to try and make some.

  • This is a hummus, not a guacamole. Therefore it will taste more like hummus with a hint of avocado flavoring than your traditional chips and guac.
  • For smoother hummus, you will want to de-shell the garbanzo beans. (De-shelling the beans isn’t required, though it will make your hummus less chunky). To do this, place the garbanzo bean between your thumb and forefinger and roll gently. After the first five or so, I found my rhythm and de-shelled the rest in about 15 minutes.
  • I wanted my hummus to be healthier than the average store-bought hummus, so I added less olive oil than recommended. You can always drizzle more oil, though when I asked Marta to taste test, she approved. And, as you guys know, when something is Marta-approved, I don’t mess with it anymore.

Cheers!

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Avocado Hummus

1 Can of Organic Garbanzo Beans, de-shelled

2 Ripe Avocados

1 Tbsp. of Tahini

~½ Cup of Olive Oil

1 ½ Limes, juiced

A Handful of Cilantro

Directions:

Place all the ingredients minus the olive oil in a food processor and blend until combined. Slowly add the olive oil a quarter cup at a time and blend until smooth consistency is reached. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Makes approximately 3 cups.

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