Monday, March 26, 2012


If you've already done your research then I'm sure you've read the reviews, scanned the scathing remarks, and browsed the bold, highlighted, and emblazoned forewarnings; so let this be a RE-affirmation to you. I want to make sure that you never feel the need to step foot into BUTTER NYC. There are far better places in this Restaurant Capital where you can spend less than a requisite +$30 an entree and actually enjoy it.

Have you ever gone to a self proclaimed "swanky" restaurant and experienced a throbbing headache from the music, hunger pangs from lack of service, and shear perplexity about where you are... all at once? NEITHER HAVE I.. until BUTTER NYC. What a colossal disappoint this was. What an epic fail!  Alex Guarnaschelli, wherever you are, I understand that you are not the owner of this restaurant, but for your reputation's sake, for the sake of your career and your family, please bring your talents elsewhere. You do not deserve to go down with this dissolving pad of butter.

I'm not happy to be writing this warning, it actually saddens me, but it has to be done. From the minute we entered through it's long tubular entrance, until we finished our appetizers*, we were overwhelmed with disappointment.

For starters, when going to a restaurant with such an revered reputation, you would think they wouldn't need to post a Zagat placard on their hostess podium. This is something you'd expect at an Olive Garden, or Outback Steakhouse. We were kind of put off when we saw this laminated poster staring at us from the other side of the "cocktail lounge." The combination of seating people in the foyer and throwing a Zagat rating in customer's faces is purely tacky.

Immediately following the awkward walk down the entrance hallway laden in drunk clackers (watch The Devil Wears Prada for a definition) came a half hour wait. Under normal circumstances this wouldn't have been so irritating, but paired with the rest of the evening it is the icing on the cake....(con't)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Yogurt Herb Dip in a Bread Bowl

It's 7:00pm on Thursday night, you have 10 people coming over tomorrow evening for pre-dinner drinks, and you're chained to your desk until 6 o'clock. Your hair is begging for a wash, you have no IDEA what to wear, and you don't exactly have time to pull out your inner Martha Stewart. What is a girl to do?!

Fear not, I have the perfect solution for these types of situations. I actually learned this one from my mother who managed a hectic lifestyle of shopping, playing tennis, raising three children and entertaining on the weekends. It is a simple appetizer that is ridiculously easy to throw together, presents beautifully, and is sure to impress your guests. As an added benefit it pairs well with pretty much any type of booze;-)

This go to appetizer is simply a "Yogurt Herb Dip in a Bread Bowl". The dip is made with fresh ingredients, key to making the flavor pop, and it is deceivingly healthy, which makes you feel less guilty about indulging before you indulge. The bread bowl is rustic in appearance and makes an impressive display. It also makes the assembly and clean up extremely easy. As the host, you also have the advantage of coming home to left overs. The dip soaked interior bread bowl makes the perfect late night nosh.

Before I send you off to the recipe, I do want to share with you two VITAL tricks that really "kick it up a notch."
One: In the dip, I saute the hell out of an onion and puree it. This adds a unique smokey sweetness to offset the tang of the yogurt. 
Two: Rather than throwing out the guts of your bread ( yes, I'm a Jew. I hate wasting food) Cut it up into large croutons, toss the cubes in EVOO and salt, and toast them in the oven for about 25 minutes. These bring unbelievable texture to your bite and to the display.

Oh, and one more thing.... try to let it sit over night if you can. Similar to a blind date, give the ingredients time to mingle and get to know one another, the change in flavor is shocking. 

Have fun tonight and don't stress! Yogurt Herb Dip is here to save the day... er, night!

____ Recipe: Yogurt Herb Dip in a Bread Bowl ____

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday Night Dinner

What a beautiful "Spring" day in NYC it was! The brisk dry air and warm sun felt fantastic in comparison to the stale winter we had. I really feel as though the season has officially changed. Thanks Groundhog Chuck for seeing your shadow... I can't say the same for Phil though (brush up on those skills buddy).

With this fresh new season upon us, I decided to freshen up Sunday night dinner with something on the lighter side, a little fishy! Tonight I am cooking a Panko Crusted Cod. The crust, which is kept to just one side of the fillet, is seasoned with lemon zest a fresh marjoram. The combination of light white fish, crunch of panko, and zing from the zest and herb really wake up your palate. Furthermore, I first brushed the crusted side of the fish with a swipe of dijon. This little addition not only keeps the crust on the little stinker, but it adds one more healthy punch of flavor.

Keeping in mind that there is still a bit of a chill in the air, I paired our fish with a wintry side, so we have a bit of vivacity and a bit of comfort on our plate. My go to side this winter, not to mention Chris's favorite, is my Spaghetti Squash Marinara, tossed with roasted garlic, roasted tomato, and mushrooms. This side is clearly a guilt free alternative to spaghetti and is highly addictive.

Oops! Squash is done! Gotta fly, but try this recipe out! It's a great way to cook something delish, feel good about yourself, and shift into the new season :-)

____ Recipe: Panko Crusted Cod and Spaghetti Squash Marinara ____

Monday, March 5, 2012


Scott Conant clearly knew what he was doing when he named his restaurant Scarpetta. Scarpetta by definition is part of the Italian phrase, "fare la scarpetta," which means to sop up the sauce from your plate with a piece of bread. While Scott does offer one of the best bread baskets in town (seriously Scott, stromboli bread? Eggplant caponata? You're killing me.), I really don't think the name is in homage to this. It could have something to do with the overall tone of the restaurant? Scarpetta in NYC is cavernous and sexy, opening up from a sleek narrow bar area to a large dimly lit dining room, which is capped with a beautiful glass ceiling that practically elevates your dining experience; but something tells me that's not it either. It definitely could be the fact that his menu is what you would expect of modern Italian cuisine, but then "unexpected and soulful" in flavor. Or that once you commence your meal here, you will find your unrelenting appetite attempt to savor every last drop, hence the name, "Scarpetta."

That most certainly could be it, however, I think this can be narrowed down even more, focusing our attention on one dish in particular, the Spaghetti. Yes, the ($24) Spaghetti. A dish as simple as pasta with tomato and basil sauce, but so complex and perfectly executed you feel almost ashamed at the fact that there is no way that you could ever achieve this at home. In any other Italian establishment of this stature, a waiter would think you naive and unrefined for placing such an order. However, when you request the Spaghetti at Scarpetta, the waiter practically bows down to you, walks away backward, and venerates your excellent taste....