Mak’s Back – Cooking Up Restaurant Style Shashito Peppers

Hello world! It’s been a while, but starting today we are going to be back into action. We are revamping the style of the blog a bit by now focusing on both restaurant foods I fall in love with and those that I bring home and recreate myself.

So, to kick things off, I want to share my restaurant style shashito pepper recipe. My brother Sean came to visit a few weeks ago and brought us a bag of shashito peppers. It’s something I’ve never made before but love to order in restaurants. My shishito pepper recipe is an inspiration from Sushi Samba’s Shashito Peppers. I like how they bring in a citrus flavor to accent the salty flavor.

Restaurant Style Shashito Peppers

Michelle’s Restaurant Style Shashito Peppers

So, it’s as simple as this Blistered Shashito Pepper Recipe. All you need is:

  1. Fresh shashito peppers
  2. Oil (canola or vegetable)
  3. Sea Salt
  4. 1 Lime (Peel and juice)

I decided to use my cast iron skillet because I feel it is the best way to evenly heat and cook with oil. So, preheat your skillet (2-3 minutes) and add in 1/3 cup of oil. Pour the oil into the hot cast iron skillet and then slowly add the fresh shashito peppers into the hot oil. Now, please be careful because these peppers splatter because of their water content.

Then, let the peppers cook for about 1-2 minutes in the oil, turning once the pepper skin is blistered or slightly burnt looking. Then, turn and cook the other side of the pepper. Once the peppers are cooked on both sides, pull them out of the oil and place them on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil. Transfer the cooked peppers to a bowl and sprinkle with sea salt, the zest of one lime. Then add the juice of 1/2 of a lime. And that’s it! Restaurant quality shashito peppers at home.  Enjoy!

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The quest for the best NYC hamburger!

For almost a year now my boyfriend has been on a quest to find the best hamburger in NYC as we are both from Southern California and have grown up on In-N-Out. Brandon thinks that this is, hand down, the best burger! (and I would agree). Check out the picture the classic 4×4 burger. There are four juicy hamburger patties sandwiched between two perfect buns that are warm and toasted, lettuces, tomato, and whole grilled onions. This particular burger is missing their special In-N-Out sauce which is a perfect homemade thousand island.

In-N-Out burger (1 4x4 and a classic double double)

Since Brandon has been in NYC, we have pounded the pavement to find the best possible alternative to In-N-Out. We have tried several places. The ones to mention are: Good Burger, Burger Joint, and Johnny Rockets, however there has been one clear front runner.  Shake Shack has most of the In-N-Out elements that we are looking for in a hamburger. It is a moist juicy patty that is cooked until it is perfectly pink. It is sandwiched between the most delicious buns. They are almost brioche like and they have a wonderful texture that really brings the whole burger together. They add onion, tomato, and pickles upon request, so don’t forget to add them. They also have a wonderful mushroom burger that is to die for! It is a mushroom stuffed with cheese and then coated in panko and fried. It is amazing!

So, for now we will just have to make do with Shake Shack until we find the better alternative to In-N-Out… but according to Brandon, one does not exist!

Land Thai Kitchen: More than just a place to order in from!

Are you looking for a great Thai food from a restaurant that you can actually go to and sit in? Well, Land Thai Kitchen is the perfect place for great food and great ambiance

As you walk in to the small Upper West Side hot spot you feel at ease with unique wall decorations as well as colorful, decorated light fixtures that hang high from the ceiling. Check out a picture below:

I have been to Land Thai Kitchen several times and always enjoyed what I ordered. Some of my favorite things on the menu are the vegetable dumplings, Green Curry, the Pad Thai, and the Pad See Ew. Each of the dishes are full of flavor that is traditional to NYC Thai food, but also has a distinct unique flavor. For example, the vegetable dumplings have ground up peanuts as part of the vegetable dumpling mix. Check out their green dumpling skin:

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Source: biggestmenu.com/.../ vegetable-dumplings-59656

Another one of my favorites is the Chicken Green Curry. From flavor to presentation this dish is just spectacular. It is not too heavy and just spicy enough to keep you coming back for more. Check out this picture below:

Also, if you don’t have a ton of time for a long meal, Land also offers a great lunch special for only $8 which includes both an appetizer and a main dish! Click here for an example menu of their lunch special.

So if you are in the mood for Thai food that is not only delicious but also full of ambiance check out Land Thai food.

1565 2nd Avenue

(btw 81st and 82nd)

New York, NY 10028

or

450 Amsterdam Avenue

(btw 81st and 82nd)

New York, NY 10024

WD-50: Wylie Dufresnse’s Artistic Culinary Point of View

We arrive at WD-50, a lower east side culinary hot spot of famous chef and owner, Wylie Dufresne, and get seated and greeted immediately. I am so excited for the meal I am about to have and I can’t believe that I am actually in Wylie Dufresne’s restaurant! I am with my parents and my little sister. I tried to give them an understanding of what kind of culinary experience we were about to have, but they just didn’t quite understand. However, I will say that they were game to try whatever creations made it to our table. As we are instructed on how to read the menu, some sesame bread is placed on the table. The funny thing was, it was more like a sesame wafer then bread, but it was delicious! This was just the beginning.

So, as we are a sharing family, we all decided to order something different and then share (of course!). So, for the appetizers, we decide to try the following:

1. Everything bagel, smoked salmon threads, crispy cream cheese
2. Octopus, pistachio, saffron, pickled ginger
3. Sunflower-miso soup, brook trout, melon, shitake, malt
4. Corned duck, rye crisp, purple mustard, horseradish cream

So, the appetizers all arrive at the table and they all look beautiful! The presentation is stellar. The interesting thing that my dad pointed out was that, yes, the menu tells you what you are getting, but not how you are getting it. So the menu is also sort of a guessing game.

We tried the appetizers and they are ok. They look prettier than they taste, but it is important to factor in the whole “Molecular Gastronamy” experience. So, the most interesting appetizer was the everything bagel which turned out to be ice cream. Can you believe that? And the cheese was a thin sheet of paper.

The appetizer that we liked the most was the duck. It was a take on corned beef and rye, but it was duck. See the picture. This has just the right amount of horseradish and spice to compliment the corned duck.

For the main course, we tried the following:

1. Duck breast, worcestershire spaetzle, parsley root, mustard greens

2. Lamb shoulder, pine nut “baked beans

3. Wagyu skirt steak, long bean, tamarind, peanut butter ‘pasta’

4. Cold fried chicken, buttermilk-ricotta, tabasco, caviar
Now, the main courses were delicious! They were a much better representation of Wylie Dufresne’s culinary point of view. Each of the different dishes represented new techniques and flavor combinations that really went well together. My personal favorite was the duck. This was the best tasting duck I have ever had. It was tender and juicy with perfectly flavorful crunchy skin to compliment it. It was served with the most tasty worcestershire spaetzle that had fig mixed through out. Check out the picture! I would say the second table favorite was the Wagyu skirt steak, long bean, tamarind, peanut butter ‘pasta.’ The meat was cooked to perfection and accompanied by all the right sides to round out the dish. Here is a photo.

The best part of the meal was when we finished. I asked if I could meet the chef, and so I did! Our waiter took me into the kitchen (which was one of the coolest and cleanest kitchens I have even seen) and introduced me to Wylie himself. What a cool guy. Totally down to earth and definitely in it for the food. What an experience. You should go on down and try this incredible and enlightening culinary experience.

50 Clinton Street
New York, NY 10002
Phone: 212.477.2900

Try Something New aka an Arepa!

Looking for something different but still within the $10 range for lunch? I recommend Caracas Arepa Bar. This east village hot spot is offers New Yorkers a real taste of a Venezuelan specialty, called an arepa. Now, when I was first introduced to this phenomenon, I didn’t know what an arepa was. I was told it is like a Mexican taco, but Venezuelan style and that I needed to try it to really understand the concept.

So, I decided to try it out for lunch. They have a full menu of arepas, empanadas, combination plates, appetizers, and deserts. Check out the and see what catches your eye, but I will tell you what caught mine. I ordered the arepa “De Pabellón” which has shredded beef, black beans, white salty cheese and sweet plantains. All of these goodies come stuffed inside a “dense yet spongy corn-flour rounds, pitalike pockets, corn muffins, cake-swaddled mélange, white corn cakes, Latin sloppy Joe, sandwiches of a flat cornmeal patty, soft and smooth within, golden crispiness, tasty treats, burrito-killer, panini-killer, wheat-free, gluten-free crisp on the outside, steamy-soft in the middle…” And let me tell you! It was delicious!

The one thing I will caution you with is that this is a hands-on food. It is not something you eat with a fork and a knife. It is messy and the juices will drip from the arepa into the basket below, so always be prepared with a sufficient amount of napkins. The other thing to note is that you need to make sure to carve out enough time to try an arepa as there is usually a wait to sit and eat. But, if you don’t have time to sit and eat, you can always go next door to the “To-Go” side.

Even the FoodNetwork showers praise for this little Venezuelan hot spot by featuring it on its hit show Throw Down with Bobby Flay. Bobby Flay challenged the owners of Caracas Arepa Bar to an arepa challenge. He didn’t win, but watching him try to recreate this classic was entertaining. Check out what Bobby’s arepa recipe from this episode of Throw Down. Also if you want to see the actual episode you can see it below:

So, if you are looking for a sweet and savory treat off the beaten path for lunch for $10, I recommend that you try Caracas Arepa Bar in the East Village. Before you even get the check you will already be planning your next visit to this Venezuelan gem.

Free Drink + Unlimited Salad Bar + Falafel = MOAZ Vegetarian

Are you looking for the perfect self serve quick bite for under $10? Well I have the prefect solution: MAOZ Vegetarian This European sensation gives New Yorkers the perfect falafel lunch combination that comes with sweet potato or regular potato fries, a free drink and an all you can eat salad bar!

There are four “meal deals” to choose from:

Option 1: The Meal Deal. This comes with fries, a drink, and a falafel.

Option 2: The Junior Meal: This comes with fries, a drink and a ½ of a falafel.

Option 3: The Salad Meal Deal: This comes with a drink and a salad.

Option 4: Belgian Fries

Check out the cool visual menu they have in their stores:

Also, there is a full salad bar. Here are some of the items you can get on the salad bar:

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*Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28058627@N00/440244635 Image: 440244635_371d3e52f7.jp

My favorite are the carrots that are cooked, cooled and marinated in a parsley chili sauce. But I also love the friend cauliflower and the pickles and olives. All of the different salads on the bar are packed with flavor and are just being called to join your falafel sandwich. But I like that I have the freedom to pick and choose what I want on my falafel, and the best part is I can always go back for more! It’s brilliant! Tell us what your favorite salad bar side is by voting in the poll below.

Oh, and did you know that MAOZ has created a fun food culture around it’s chain that it even has a group on Facebook to promote it’s wonderful food. Check it out and join!

Another thing that I love about MAOZ are the park friendly locations. Maoz also provides you with the best lunch boxes to go so that you can enjoy a sunny lunch at the park that is not only convenient but delicious too!

So if you are looking for a quick and delicious self -serve fix or a grab and go lunch in the park, try MAOZ Vegetarian. You can get an entire meal for $10., and let me tell you, their falafel meals are really something to rave about. Try it and tell me what you think!

Locations:

2047 A Broadway | Btwn 70th & 71st St

38 Union Sq E | Btwn 16th & 17th St

59 E 8th St | Btwn Broadway & University Pl

Indian Food Doesn’t Always Have To Be A Kick In The Pants

I think that Brick Lane Curry House has one of the best in-house lunch specials out there! First off, it is really authentic Indian food. Brick Lane has a great understanding for the balance between flavor and spice. When you order a curry, you can actually taste the flavors and spices in the curry as opposed to being overwhelmed by spice.

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So, why do I recommend Brick Lane for lunch? Because of the following reasons:
For $10 you get one of the following curries with your choice of chicken, prawns, fish, lamb, vegetable, tofu or paneer. Then you can choose one of the following sauces: Marsala, Bhuna, Madras, Goan, Vindaloo. And wait, there is still more. With your main dish you get Daal of the Day, Mixed Vegetable of the Day, rice, naan and desert!

You get a complete meal for just $10! And it is not only the price that is impressive! It’s the quality and freshness of the ingredients too! Everything is fresh and served to perfection. One of my big telltale signs of a good Indian restaurant is how well they can prepare chicken tikka, meaning that it is moist and full of flavor. And yes, Brick Lane’s chicken tikka is never dry and always done right!

I usually get the Tikka Marsala or the Tikka Goan. It really depends on what mood I am in, but today, I decided to go for the Goan. Before I went to Brick Lane, I had never head of Tikka Goan, so here it what it is in case you haven’t tried it: “A delightful recipe of green chilies, coconut milk, coriander, and vinegar” all flavored with sweet tomatoes. Check out the picture of our entire meal, with my favorite, the Tikka Goan in the middle.

Also, the staff is very friendly and attentive. They are always asking if you need anything or refills on things like rice or bread. Also, you can check out the full menu and what others are saying about this great little place! And if you are having one of those days where you can’t get out of the office for a sit down lunch, they also have Lunch Boxes To Go for those who still want delightful Indian. If you are looking for amazing Indian food in Midtown East, at the right price, come try Brick Lane’s In-House lunch special for just $10.

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235 E 53rd St (Between 2nd & 3rd Ave), New York City

(212) 339-8353

Directions

Hello world!

I am excited to get started! I will updated the blog on a weekly basis with three posts a week! If you have any suggestions, please feel free to email me! Over and out! And I hope you enjoy as much as I do!