Archive for the 'kosher dining in Manhattan' Category



22
Apr
10

Cooking with Lévana – Part 2 – Recipes!


As we promised, here are 2 recipes Lévana has graciously allowed us to share with our readers.

Minted Lamb Kebobs

Ingredients

1 medium onion, quatered
4 large cloves garlic
1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, including stems
1 bunch mint, leaves only
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
Good pinch cayenne, or more, to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 pounds extra lean ground beef, or extra lean ground lamb, or a combination.

Directions

Prepare the grill or preheat the broiler. Finely grind the onion, garlic, parsley and a mint in a food processor (pulse: do not let mixture get watery). Transfer to a bowl and add the cumin, paprika, cayenne, pepper and beef.

Form logs about 1″ in diameter and about 4″ long. Thread on wet wooden skewers. or on metal skewers. Broil 2-3 minutes on each side. Serve hot. Serve 2 to 3 skewers per guest.

Makrod: Semolina Date Pastries

I have always rather neglected this wonderful treat, as the traditional preparation requires frying, my nemesis: I don’t think I have more than a handful of fried dishes in my whole repertoire. But I tweaked the recipe to do my bidding as a baked, not fried, treat, and the result is scrumptious! I have streamlined it further by shaping it as bars. Sephardi flavors at their best! Gluten-free: Use GF flour and GF semolina.

Preparing the Makrod

Preparing Makrod

Ingredients

Dough

3 eggs
1 cup oil
3 cups flour
2 cups farina or semolina
1 tablespoon baking powder
A little water as needed

Filling:

1 pound pitted chopped dates
1 1/2 cups very hot water
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ginger
1 teaspoon cloves
Peel of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons orange flower water

Topping:

1 1/2 cups honey

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all the dough ingredients thoroughly, and knead it on a board for just a minute or two, adding a little water if necessary to obtain a smooth dough. Set aside.

Process all the filling ingredients in a food processor, using the pulse button to avoid splattering, until smooth. Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured board, roll each piece into a rectangle 1/2 inch thick, about 11 inches wide and 14 inches long. Transfer onto a well-greased cookie sheet with straight sides (don’t worry if it doesn’t cover the whole surface). Cover the dough evenly with the filling. Repeat with the remaining dough, and place gently over the filling (it’s OK if it breaks, just patch it). Bake about 40 minutes, or a little longer, until golden. Immediately pour the honey evenly over the whole pastry. Let it cool, then cut it in bars or squares.

–)xoOox(–

This coming Monday, April the 26th, Lévana’s “Dinner and a Show” at Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan (200 Amsterdam Ave – at 69th Street – New York, NY 10023) will be: Seasonal Spring Bounty. As she describes it:

Winter is over and wonderful vibrant food colors and fragrances are upon us in every food display: cheer up and enjoy them while they last! Life would be more meaningful to all of us if we respected the seasons more, with the specific gift each season has to offer! This menu is 100% gluten-free, naturally and effortlessly!

I will be demonstrating:

  • Lemon chicken breasts with artichoke and carrot
  • Zucchini and fennel soup
  • Haricots verts, roasted peppers and heirloom tomato salad with grey salt
  • Herbed yukon fingerlings
  • Plum granola tart
  • Click here to register and view other upcoming classes

    Remember to mention The Kosher Scene and you’ll get a discount.

    Lévana with some of the class regulars, flanked by members of her staff

    SYR and I will be there, hope you will too. You won’t regret it!

    CS

    26
    Feb
    10

    Olympic Pita in Manhattan


    Olympic Pita(58 West 38th Street; New York, NY 10018; Telephone: 212.869.7482), provides proof positive that a restaurant in Manhattan can provide good, wholesome, food without being expensive.

    Olympic Pita, at its Manhattan location

    I was there on a recent Sunday and the presentation was simple, the taste very good, the atmosphere warm and inviting.

    I started the meal with a very unusual sushi roll, Sabich… It consists of hard boiled egg, pickled cucumbers and eggplant. No fish of any kind! Very tasty and imaginative adaptation of a traditional Iraqi dish.

    I also had their 5 Sampler Mezze, it included israeli salad, fried eggplant, tabouli, Moroccan carrot and matbuha. Each of these was excellent.

    I followed with a Beef Eye Steak.

    Beef Eye Steak

    It was tender, juicy, somewhat smoky and absolutely delectable. I also had their Shawarma, which comes wrapped in rice and paper to look like a pair of exotic flowers. These two were succulent.

    I also had an Iraqi Style Beef skewer.

    Iraqi Style Beef skewer

    A very aromatic ground spiced beef, nice tasting, tender and juicy.

    I also had the in-house Lafa (an oversized, thin pita) which I managed to photograph while baking.

    My Lafa being baked

    There, on the left side wall is mine. I got it piping hot! Those middle easterners know what’s good! I washed it all down with a glass of very good red house wine.

    Though it is located in midtown Manhattan, the prices are very Brooklyn. The food was unpretentious, but the quality, the taste, went far above their price range. No fancy French or Italian names here, merely standard Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fare. I will most definitely be back.

    CS

    23
    Feb
    10

    Abigael’s on Broadway


    Abigael’s (1407 Broadway – at 39th Street, New York, NY; Tel: 212.575.1407) calls to mind the posh elegance of the bygone era where films like My Man Godfrey, with William Powell and Carole Lombard, were set. It is a classy, sedate and uniquely appointed restaurant. Yet… the simple but rich atmosphere and decor, are not all that attract the eye and whet the palate at Abigael’s… The dishes are inspired and delicious!

    Partial view of Abigael's main dining room

    I met Chef Jeff Nathan in the small private library (one of various party rooms at Abigael’s). There, amidst the Soncino Talmud and the Encyclopedia Britannica we discussed what precipitated his becoming a Chef. As a member of a generation where every Jewish parent dreamed of “my son the doctor” or “my son the lawyer,” Jeff Nathan journeyed against the grain and, after a stint in the US Navy, attended the Culinary Institute of America. Driven to transcend and surpass, as in all else he ever attempted, chef Nathan dominated the competition and graduated at the top of his class in 1980.

    Since 1998 he has been the chef/host of PBS’ “New Jewish Cuisine, the only international gourmet Kosher cooking series, which is seen in four countries and translated into three languages.” He is also a kosher and restaurant consultant to various food and wine producers.

    I started the meal with with Abigael’s Ultimate Sushi Platter which consisted of three sushi rolls.

    Ultimate Sushi Platter presented with a soothing, drip fountain

    The three rolls are: Tempura Trio (salmon, tuna, and fluke, tempura fried, with avocado, masago and scallions), Broadway (seaweed roll with tuna, yellow-tail and salmon, cucumber, avocado, Japanese dressing and masago), and Green Tea (yellowtail and avocado, topped with salmon, spicy tuna tartar and sweet wasabi soy sauce). Though fish and sushi are but a recently acquired tastes of mine, I did find the platter beautifully presented and deliciously toothsome to eat.

    I then tried their Smoked Brisket Eggroll (Texas style, with barbecue vinaigrette and a chipotle potato salad). This dish fully demonstrates the creativity of Jeff Nathan as he metamorphoses the quintessentially traditional Brisket with a saucy bold new flavor and crispy exterior. Flavorful, as my mother used to say, ta’am fun ganeiden!

    I followed that full flavored brisket with the Crispy Asian Chicken (crisp fried and tossed with spicy chile sauce, served with sweet and sour sesame-cucumber slaw).

    Crispy Asian Chicken

    Presentation was again an eyeful and the taste was quite savory.

    A Latin American bred carnivore to the core, I loved the Argentine Smoked Short Ribs (house smoked rib tossed tossed with BBQ vinaigrette and chimi churri with scallion whipped potatoes).

    Argentine Smoked Short Ribs

    The ribs were succulent, heavenly smoked and spiced, cooked to tender perfection. The scallion whipped potatoes… just right!

    Great dinner, in a great atmosphere, though missing Carole Lombard or Myrna Loy by my side, but life… isn’t perfect, could I really ask for more?

    CS

    Abigael's on Broadway on Urbanspoon

    10
    Feb
    10

    Mike’s Bistro


    Mike’s Bistro (228, West 72nd Street; New York, NY 10023; Telephone: 212.799.391) is an elegant eatery serving wholesome, delicious gourmet fare. SYR and I recently enjoyed a great evening there.

    SYR started with a delicious Portobello and Arugula Salad which came with Ceasar style dressing, drizzled with a port wine reduction, red onions, enoki mushrooms and fresh chives. The combination of two types of mushrooms and the port wine was incredibly flavorful.

    I had a Beet Salad.

    Beet Salad

    It was made with roasted and marinated beet, shaved endives, chervil, candied walnuts, fresh orange slices and beet vinaigrette. It looked great and tasted better! I liked the contrast soft beets and the harder walnuts.

    At Richard, the waiter’s, suggestion we then shared a Hawaiian Ahi and Citrus Crudo.

    Hawaiian Ahi in Citrus Crudo

    This Hawaiian tuna comes with shaved fennel and a citrus salad. Not only were the colors artistically combined, only a master chef using the freshest ingredients could have made such a perfect dish.

    She followed with Braised Boneless Short Ribs

    Braised Boneless Short Ribs

    The ribs came with a barbecue glaze, cauliflower, and potato mash, braised kale, cilantro, and celery root sauce. Tender, juicy and full of flavor!

    I had the Slow Roasted Lamb Chops.

    Slow Roasted Lamb Chops

    It came with freshly combined ratatouille, black bean puree, meyer lemon zest, aromatic spicy oil and cilantro. Flavorful and Juicy! Absolutely delicious!

    SYR capped the meal with their Sorbet Sampler which came with a superb blueberry and cream, an interesting citron, an excellent raspberry, a great mango and very good passion fruit. I had the Sour Cherry, Bread Pudding. It comes with cherry and vanilla sauce, citrus segments and vanilla ice cream. Sweet without being overpowering, just perfect!

    There are restaurants where the presentation is far better than the food’s taste, there are others where the taste is great but the presentation is mediocre. At Mike’s Bistro the presentation and the dish’ taste are just right!

    CS

    Mike's Bistro on Urbanspoon

    ***UPDATE***

    Mike’s Pizzeria Italian Kitchen (654 Amsterdam Ave; New York, NY 10025; Telephone:212.362.0700) will now offer fresh Sushi, FOR DELIVERY ONLY. Not the gimmicky type of rolls that look great yet give you nothing, but wholesome, healthy, fresh, nutritious sushi rolls. Call them, you won’t regret it!

    22
    Jan
    10

    Noi Due


    Noi Due – Us Two (143 W 69th St New York; NY 10023; Telephone: 212. 712.2222)… aah, the memories it brought back! Having traveled extensively through Italy, having taken in the aromas, this restaurant made me feel I had somehow magically returned to il bel paese. With its authentic decor, softly played romantic Italian songs… SYR and I knew almost from the moment we stepped in that the food would also have that authentic, simple, fresh taste. We were not disappointed!

    As soon as we sat down they brought us a basket of home made foccaccia bread, with an oil dip. The bread had that fresh delicate scent that easily succeeded in whetting our appetite for what would come.

    SYR stated her meal with a Minestrone, while I had a Zuppa di Pomodoro con Ricotta (Cream of Tomato Soup with a Ball of Ricotta).

    Minestrone

    The aroma of both soups, the simple country look, the freshness… mmmmMMMmm mmmMMmm! My tomato soup was a slight bit more orangeish than I had expected and that made it a greater feast for the eye. The combination of hot soup and the cold ricotta, brought two different flavors to perfectly complement each other. Somehow the contrast brought out both the soup’s and the cheese’s flavors in full force. The aroma of the fresh basil only enhanced the culinary experience.

    SYR‘s Minestrone cooked to perfection, allowed her to taste each individual piece of vegetable. She loved it!

    She followed it with a grilled Salmone which sat on a bed of potatoes and asparagus, it was topped with onion rings. Between the presentation and the aromas emanating from it it looked very enticing. She described the potatoes as very buttery, the salmon as delicate and not “fishy” tasting in the least, and the onion rings as just perfect.

    Salmon with potatoes and onion rings

    I had the Carcioffi Ripieni – Stuffed Artichokes. They came with artichoke bottom stuffed with fresh vegetables served in a lemon caper sauce. The flavor was just tart enough to enhance the vegetables without overpowering them.

    We then shared a dish of Cheese Ravioli.

    Cheese Ravioli with Gorgonzola and Parmigiano

    The ricotta filled ravioli came with Gorgonzola, cream, walnuts, sprinkled parmigiano and spices. Being a cheese lover (wifey used to joke that I must have been an Italian mouse in another gilgul) the combination of the three cheeses was – as my mother used to say in yiddish – ta’am fun ganeiden, the taste of paradise!

    The dishes went well with a delightful 2008 Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc.

    No meal at an Italian restaurant could be complete without a good cappuccino for me, and an espresso for SYR. Again, the aromas seduced us, and at least in my case this was one the best cappuccinos I ever enjoyed!

    By six o’clock, this 40 seat eatery was filled to the gills. Service was prompt, the staff was friendly and enthusiastic, the portions were fair, the prices surprising low. Noi Due‘s motto is “poco ma buono – little but good.” They more than lived to it! We both enjoyed our experience there. We know we’ll be back, we have to!

    CS

    18
    Dec
    09

    Somewhere in Marrakech


    Just missing the story tellers, local souk and snake charmers, I walked into mystical Morocco when I entered Darna (600 Columbus Ave – North East corner of 89th; New York 10024; Telephone: 212.721.9193), right here in New York City, in Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

    Magically transported to the heart of Fez, Rabat, Marrakech or perhaps Casablanca and Rick’s Café Américain… I expected to hear the echo of Ilsa’s voice asking Sam: “Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By.’”

    I arrived at Darna as they began dinner service. Carlos tastefully arranged a corner table for me while Katja navigated me through the extensive menu of surprisingly well priced fare.

    I started with a Humus plate, which came with a zaatar (hyssop) pita and mixed greens.

    Deliciously flavorful, it was followed by Moroccan Cigars with accompanying greens and tomato flower garnish atop a Tehina Sauce.

    The meat filled cigars were crispy on the outside, tender and savory on the inside; a perfect blend of flavors.

    Darna’s Stuffed Chicken was the main course, a whole roasted Cornish hen stuffed with prunes, apricots, raisins, mushrooms and almonds with a side of  Couscous (their signature dish!) topped with string beans and carrots.

    The stuffed hen was tender and superb in taste; the side dish delicious! The meal was accompanied by a delightful 2007 Barkan Pinot Noir.

    Darna means “our home” in Moroccan Arabic. The time went by too quickly; the homey food, the polite and friendly staff, the cozy beautifully appointed authentic Moroccan décor, the soft Moroccan music certainly made me feel like a valued guest at the home of some trusted old friends…truly a hidden precious jewel in Manhattan!

    To borrow a line from the movie Casablanca, “Luis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” I’ll be back!

    CS




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