Summer Loving - Had me a blast !

Feeling HOT

I am aware that my blog sometimes falls behind, but then I realize it's because I am trying to pack so many things into my day, and have traveled like a maniac. My most recent destinations included London, Bahamas and then back to NYC.

Despite my whirlwind schedule, there are three things that never change – my friends get cuter, my family gets more loving and I continue to be surprised and excited by food and all the great things that come along with sharing a meal with someone I love.

New York

Let’s start with new and exciting things in New York City! This weekend I nearly had a coffee orgasm (if those exist). You know in the movies when you see a housewife on top of a washing machine... Well somewhere along those lines, but in this case I had a cup of coffee in my hand. I documented evidence above - . Their purpose "We want great coffee to be revered, yet democratic, approachable and accessible. By illuminating what is possible with coffee, we hope to change forever how you think about it. And that would be something." I can honestly say it was the best coffee I have drunk in a long time. Check out Intelligentsia Café at the Highline Hotel !

I have a confession to make – before Sandy happened (for those not in NYC, Sandy is the hurricane that removed me from my apartment for nearly a month) I really didn’t explore South Street Sea Port as I ignorantly assumed it was a tourist trap. Months later, it’s now one of my new favorite places to hang out. Firstly I nearly had a heart attack because it’s not just in Williamsburg, it’s live and loud in Manhattan. Endless stalls of great food and adult beverages. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The other new place for brunch is called Tiny's - they have to be the sweetest little family and do a mean Kale Salad. Check out Fika also for great coffee on stone street, and amazing chocolate !

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Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE black, so this summer I have tried to add some color to my wardrobe. This was spurred by an insane bet at work I have going which I have named GYM CHALLENGE. I am lucky as my close friends have coached me, and I have not been letting my evil knee recovery get in the way. I have to train every day and  the winner with the biggest % weight lost is the winner. Sometimes I wish I wasn't so competitive but the truth of the matter is I am :) and honestly doing a food journal really has opened my eyes to the types of things I eat and what my body loves and doesn't love. The coaches recommend only protein and greens in the morning as they believe that is what sets your metabolism until noon. So yes that’s right.... I am eating chicken salad, omelet (NO CHEESE or anything other than greens) and nuts, strange but I love it. Noon-3pm - Go wild if you want to eat carbs, rice etc and at night-time it’s fish/salad etc. Not rocket science but it’s a habit changing challenge. Try a food journal for a week, it will really shock and surprise you!

 Regarding adding color my new Newton running shoes and Bike helmet were a good step in the right direction. A great site to get cool exercise clothes is called Running warehouse and if you search for coupons you can get up to 20% off your first buy - Enjoy !

"I'd rather stay inside, just sipping coffee...Yuna - Coffee" is the song that matches my mood this afternoon. After a busy morning, I decided to spend a day in my apartment, and it’s amazing how organizing, buying flowers, planning recipes and throwing out old items - really makes you feel re energized.

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The pictures above involves a sleepy little town called Woodstock! I hit up this place with a few close friends for a weekend filled of Gatsby, relaxing and wine. I decided to own the kitchen and with my best friend we designed a menu for everyone, not that we were control freaks or anything...ok maybe we were BUT we wanted to make sure our country adventure had some culinary flair. If you ever want to test how strong your friendship is, buy a game called Mexican Train, it has the ability to turn the best of friends into mortal enemies lol It looks like dominos, gives you the feel of a friendly innocent game and then due to all the rules and regulations will cause a Mexican standoff. Thank God for sunlight and coffee because the day after everyone emerged back to our former non competitive selves. I believe my ability to cook the perfect steak saved me from having no best friend the next day. (Thank you Gordon Ramsey for teaching me that life skill.)

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London was mostly work and helping a friend, but I managed to get some fun times in with all my best friends and their mini me's. It's pretty crazy watching your friends kids grow up into little people, I think the biggest thing I learnt from this trip is that once you have a kid there is no sacred time anymore. While staying with my best friend, his son would just walk into the bathroom while I was showering SCREAMING Auntie Jeanette hurry up we need to build, and a kid of 3 doesn't recognize or care that you are showering or that you want some ME time, they just care about you getting your ass out of the shower to complete a building operation. My little god-daughter Amaya is well advanced in the art of high-fiving now which makes me extremely happy and Isaac who is 4 months old loves me the most as he always saves the most awesome nappies for me and even mastered the art of peeing so big he hit me right in eye. I had to give him street cred for his aim and determination. Finlay has to be my trendiest friend mini me, he is always dressed to kill and is probably the most chilled little boy I have ever met. I am worried my mini me is going to bounce of the walls.

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If you are in the Bahama's and want a memorable eating experience you MUST go to Dune.  It is described as a "Christian Liaigre wenge version of a British colonial dining room."  It is Jean-Georges Vongerichten's first Caribbean restaurant, and walking in you see a blue glass wall into the kitchen and an open-air terrace overlooking the ocean and pristine beach. The food and the service was better than I had experienced in a while. The menu featured many fresh fish and seafood dishes such as spice-crusted snapper with sweet-and-sour jus, local tomatoes, and oregano, and a lobster sandwich spiced with Bahamian goat pepper. The cocktail menu was also extensive. I tried the crab salad and Lobster tacos – something I really want to try to recreate. The lobster taco had coriander, salsa and a spicy guacamole, but felt light and really delicate. Vongerichten's second restaurant is Café Martinique, which was tucked away in the middle of chaos, nasty chain restaurants and a casino but worth hunting down.

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We are getting to the age where everyone is starting to settle down and tie the knot! What I love about my friends is none of them will ever make me endure a traditional hen or bachelorette party and I know it’s going to be something with food and beverages that will be amazing. Addie's friends organized a great event run by The Artful Bachelorette. The event was sponsored by Verve C Champagne of course and had a great find - Prohibition CupCakes. 2 great things unite to make an amazing treat. Hard Liquor in a CUPCAKE? I may have eaten a few too many of these. Some folks would think that drawing a fully butt naked amazingly handsome man would be distracting, but given how competitive my friends were we quickly averted our eyes from what was a very well endowed package to make sure we had THE BEST pictures of any group. You can see from above that we didn't mess around, and considering I never took much drawing, I picked it up pretty quickly. I wonder if while at University I had been followed around by an attractive naked man, if my grades would have improved. Hrm, I would love to hope so?

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The last place I have fallen in love with is a place called "All Good Things". The whole concept is local companies coming together under one roof in a form of a market.  You can have brunch and they have an amazing restaurant called "Le Restaurant" downstairs in a hidden cave, giving a speakeasy feel. I normally head there on Sunday to have some blue-bottle coffee and have developed a slight crush on the chef purely on the basis that he makes the BEST omelets I have ever tasted in my life. Check it out!

My last thought is around free education, one area in food that has exploded understanding Food Chemistry and the approach to new and inventive ways to cook food based on the chemical processes and interactions of all biological and non-biological components of foods. If you are interested in this topic, MIT are offering amazing free lectures online and it is not just short snippets but the real lectures from full-time chemistry majors.

Next time will all be about new juice recipes. My new juicer has landed and I am pretty excited to throw heaps of veg randomly in the machine that is bigger than a space craft and see what happens !!!

Enjoy the Sun, Enjoy Food, Enjoy Friendship and Enjoy life ! Kisses Jeanette

Smoked Bacon & Tomato Pasta

The last few months have been a world wind of travel. India gave me some great insights into spices and the west coast of fresh produce and farm to table. While I enjoy travel it has done 2 things, ensured that I have not written my blog in a while and it has been a while since I just pottered around my kitchen. The thing I love to do is understand what to do with things left in my fridge and see how many items I can get into my dish. Given the limited ingredients , it was my only option to do a nice rich tomato sauce and pasta, the secret weapon was the Irish bacon my friend had given me !! Why is Irish bacon so good well its little Irish Piggies that we feed with golden grass and frosted lucky charms AND its back bacon and that means the cut  includes one piece of the pork loin and one piece of the pork belly on the same cut ! The rich smokey flavor lends itself well to a nice tomato base ! I was tempted this morning to use it for an Irish breakfast and may need to bribe someone to smuggle in some more !

I feel that I should make up some lie that I got this recipe from an old Italian grandma I met along the way, like the grandma below but alas nothing that fancy. It was just me in my kitchen on a Sunday afternoon and as simple as this dish is, it really is delicious ! Enjoy !

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Ingredients for Smoked Bacon and Tomato Sauce

  • 10 chopped plum tomatoes or any tomatoes you have left over
  • 1 red onion, roughly diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large carrot
  • 10+ cloves of garlic roughly chopped
  • Small bunch basil
  • 1 pack of smoked bacon
  • 1 pack of gluten-free linguine
  • Some chili flakes
  • Parmasen
  • Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, oregano (pinch)_ and Olive oil

1) Grill/Broil the bacon to make sure the healthiest of cooking. When 1/2 cooked on both sides, take out and roughly chop

2) Tomato Sauce

    • Pre Heat the oven to 400
    • If the tomatoes are large boil water, deep drop the tomato and then shock them in cold water. This will help you peel the tomato and take the skin off

getting tomato pealed

    • Put all tomatoes, garlic on a baking tray with some basil and cook for around 30 minutes.

roasting

      • After the garlic and tomato are soft, blend in food processor and take them and put them through a mesh colander to avoid having the seeds or too much pulp.

puree tomato

    • Warm olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Once you see the oil shimmering, add the chopped onion and sauté for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add the minced garlic, roughly chopped carrots, some baby tomatoes and pinch of red pepper flake then continue to sauté until onions are soft and translucent, stirring occasionally.
    • Add roughly chopped bacon and stir.

Coming together

    • Add in the tomato puree and pop on low heat and let simmer for 1.5 hours slowly

Final sauce

    • Boil some water and cook pasta

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    • Serve and add basil and parmesan to taste.

grated cheese

Final product

Thai Monday - Recipe Thai Basil with a twist

Welcome to my Thai adventure !

Over the last few months my I've enjoyed a journey through Thai cooking. The ICE Culinary Institute offers reasonable classes to learn specific technic from around the world, so I decided to sign up with a friend who also loves cooking. The classes were small and had people of all ages. Over the next few weeks I will share some of the recipes from the class !! For classes see ICE

Thai dishes fall into two categories: Kaeng dishes which include foods served in liquid like soup or curries, these normally goes with rice and Krueng Kieng, side dishes of dry cooked food. The blends of contrasts: spicy, sweet, sour, hot and salty with wet, dry, crisp, smooth and chunky are some of the words used for this awesome dish. The word that draws me is SPICE.

Below is a picture of some Thai Yellow chicken curry from the class ! - Recipe to come !

To see some wonderful pictures from my Thai cooking class, pop on to my Facebook page with the following link and you can sign up for JGAMBLE-FOOD on Facebook !! Thai Pictures.

Now for the recipe !! - THAI HOLY BASIL CHICKEN: PUD GA-PRAO GAI SAP

Ingredients

  • lb boneless Chicken - Cut into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Thai chile pepper (3 if you like it spicy)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoon Thai soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup Thai holy basil (Ga-Prao) and 1 cup spinach (first twist)
  • The second twist is I added Broccoli
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • salt to taste

1) How to prepare the dish !

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan or wok at high heat. Stir in the chopped garlic and cook until it is golden brown. Add the Thai chile pepper and stir well.

  • Add in the chicken until cooked half way through.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the mushrooms, fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and chicken stock. Mix well.

  • Add the sweet Thai soy sauce. This brand is one of the best and costs $3 from China town.

  • When all the ingredients are cooked, add the spinach and the Thai holy basil. Mix well and season to taste with salt.

  • The last point is to add the broccoli, you blanch it while the other items are cooking in water and add in near the end so it doesnt turn to mush

That's it !!! Your dish should take maybe 25 minutes !!!

Spicy Italian Meatball

All over the world each country makes their claim to own the infamous meatball ! Growing up in Ireland my mother always made us dishes with ground beef, pork and even chicken and I loved the idea that you could immerse these little bundles of joy with various sauces and spices to make completely different dishes. Tonight I decided to make a Mediterranean Italian spicy spin on a recipe my mother taught me ! Through the centuries, meatballs became so commonplace in Italy that Pellegrino Artusi (1820 - 1911) was inspired to write over a meatball recipe - "Do not think for a moment that I would be so pretentious as to tell you how to make meatballs this is a dish that everyone knows how to make, including absolute donkeys Indeed it was probably the donkey who first suggested the basic shape of the meatball to humans. My sole intention is to tell you how to prepare them when you have leftover boiled meat."

I have tried to take that quote and prepare a simple dish with the richest tomato vegetable sauce ! The traditional recipe had white wine, breadcrumbs and milk. I have removed those from this because I really wanted it as healthy as possible. I added in Mushrooms, Courgette and extra garlic instead !!

Ingredients for the Meatballs

    • minced beef. Really seek out a good butcher, the more juices and oil that seep out the more fat is ground into the meat so aim to get as lean as possible
    • 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
    • 1/2 red onion, REALLY finely diced
    • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

Ingredients for the Marinara Sauce

    • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
    • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
    • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 1 green chilli, finely diced
    • As many pitted green olives as you want, drained
    • Small bunch basil
    • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and Olive oil

1) While preparing put your oven around 350

2) How to prepare Marinara

      • Lightly fry the onion, garlic and chilli for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the courgette and cook for 2 additional minutes
      • Cook the mushroom in a small frying pan alone as you want to sweat out all the water/juice. Once cooked add to the other pan with the other ingredients
      • Add the tomatoes along with the basil and finally the olives. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Then pour the mixture into a baking dish

3) On to the meatballs

    • While the tomato sauce is cooking, make up the meatballs. To the mince add parmesan, garlic. Season with a little salt and pepper and mix well
    • Shape into walnut sized balls and fry in hot olive oil until golden.

    • Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and bake in the oven for 30 minutes

    • You can serve with some rice or pasta, I preferred it alone with a little sprinkle of Parmesan on top !

Enjoy !

If Joe Bastianich says to go drink wine...then lets go !!

Has America really taken over France in wine drinking? Given my European roots I just can't bring myself to think that. I am no wine connoisseur but $40 and 60+ Italian wine booths...by booth 20...you can easily call me a connoisseur. Tonight was an adventure to the "Slow Wine 2012 event" , with a year in the life of Italian wine.

I know my French wines, even my south American wines...but Italian...Non capisco.

Anyone can speak Italian after 14 sips of wine, who spits? Jesus what a waste of amazingly beautiful wine. I had drunk so much that I was resorted to picking the last booths I would try based on whether the wine dealer looked a) like Mario b) was Female and passionate about wine or c) Italian male and attractive...thats a good even spread to be diverse right?

The event was packed full of an eclectic group of people all eager to learn more about wine. I was shocked how little I knew about Italian wine and how great French and Italian mixes were.

Sorelle Bronca - www.sorellebronca.com - Colli Di Conegliano Roosa Ser Bele 2008, which took me longer to write out than actually drink the wine was an amazing full body wine with a blend of Cab franc, cab Sauvignon, Merlot and here is the mix...Marzemino. Marzemino is a late-ripening dark-skinned grape variety grown mainly in Trentino-Alto Adige but also in Veneto, Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna wine regions of Italy. 94% of these grapes are found in Italy and it gave the wine a rich peppery taste.

My other top wine was from www.bertani.net and the wine was called Amerone Della Valpolicella CL 2004 The blend was Corvina and Molinara. The passionate wine seller describe how although expensive the reason is that this grape is difficult to cultivate, but is sought for its amazing flavor, he was right !! The grape is smaller but I guess the saying is true that good things come in small packages. Its partner in crime Molinara..... again a red Italian wine grape grown in the Veneto region of north-eastern Italy. This is where the wine gets its acidity and balance when it blends.

There were lots of white wines but to be honest, me and white wine are not great friends and I end up with hiccups and potentially tripping over things if I drink too much. After a few glasses of wine and great conversation, the cheese area became my favorite home.

Other great links to wines that I love include: www.conternofantino.it for their Nebbiolo, www.librandi.it for their gaglioppo/cab mix and finally www.marotticampi.it for their Lacrima !

If you are interested in more of the "slow" themed events go to - http://www.slowfoodnyc.org/

I ended my day a little slower than normal thanks to the great wine and electric atmosphere !!!

Jgamble !