Open-Face Croque Monsieur from Pastis

Despite the fact that it’s been years since we’ve been there and it’s been well over a year since it closed, every once in a while I still get a craving to go to Pastis. In spite of all of the irritations about the place–the crowds, the rather ridiculous prices, the cramped banquettes and tiny tables–every visit there would still be a pretty fantastic food experience, and I’ve even taken their lead on a few dishes and incorporated them into our normal recipe rotation.

Plus, it was arguably the prettiest of Keith McNally’s very pretty restaurant empire: lots of dark wood and penny subway tile, but not as dark as Balthazar nor as intentionally run-down as Lucky Strike. (I have yet to visit his newer places so I can’t speak to them, but I imagine they are also very, very pretty but probably not as aesthetically pleasing to me as Pastis.) While it helped that there always seemed to be a preponderance of European tourists eating there at all times of the day, you really did feel like you were being swept into a bustling bistro in a hip Parisian neighborhood and the only thing missing was being able to light up a cigarette or two while you lingered over French 75s and omelettes. Read More

Frisee Aux Lardons avec Ouefs Pochés et Gorgonzola/Frisee Aux Lardons with Poached Eggs and Gorgonzola

Frisee Aux Lardons with Poached Eggs and Gorgonzola

Another day, and more eggs. Only this time they are in a salad, and they are far more pleasing to look at because I took this photo last June when we were enjoying the height of natural light. (Oh natural light, how I miss you.)

But of course, this proves the eternal truth that just because a salad is called such a thing, there is no guarantee that it’s going to be rabbit food, given that friseé is one of those greens that isn’t the most nutritionally dense (at least compared to the ubiquitous kale) and it’s basically coddling a wonderful combination of Gorgonzola, bacon bits, and poached eggs–nary a spa food in the lot save for the greens. But that’s kind of what makes it wonderful: it strikes the right balance between heavy and light that leaves you satisfied without feeling like you have a gut full of food, and it’s also a one-course meal that can come together relatively quickly if your multitasking skills are in peak condition. (Mine vary by how tired I am when I get home from work, but I can still pull this together in about 20 minutes.)

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Kumquat-rosemary marmalade over goat cheese and toast

Did you know that Stamford’s motto is “Stamford: the city that works?” It’s kind of prosaic until you realize how many companies have offices here: from international banks to cosmetic giants to The Maury Povich Show. (Seriously–the studio where it, Jerry Springer and the show starring one of Jerry Springer’s security guys is on the next street over from us, a factoid that delighted my father-in-law to no end when we took him on a tour of our neighborhood.) It’s a good thing because all of those workers help support the local restaurant scene, but since most of them are commuting from other places, there seems to be a dearth of weekend brunch options around here. Even though we were never big brunch people when we lived in New York, it was oddly comforting to see all of those people out and about on a Saturday or Sunday diving into steak and eggs and sipping mimosas.

Here, not so much. Maybe when spring comes I’ll do a little more research, but for now we’re on our own if we have a craving for brunch food. Read More

Sobrasada Tapa

I had it in my head to make brunch on Saturday. We never eat brunch–I eat breakfast when I get to work, and Michael tends to only have oatmeal on hand, and fighting the crowds on Broadway to enjoy overpriced eggs and bacon holds little appeal for us. Sometimes, though, we’ll make it when friends are staying with us and that’s always fun, but it’s also a lot of work. So the idea of making a few small tapas for brunch had immediate appeal for me: filling but not overwhelmingly so. Michael tends to just eat a few hard-boiled eggs on weekend mornings to get him through until dinnertime, so using that as a base for ideas, I flipped through The Book of Tapas, made a shopping list, and on Saturday morning got to work.

The sobrasada tapa pictured above was by far my favorite–and that includes the tapa that I made with smoked salmon, for crying out loud! It was by far the easiest of the three to make, though, and when it comes to making a brunch spread at home, that’s really important.  Read More

Clear Out the Leftovers Fritatta

For all of the talking and writing and photographing of food we do, especially on the weekend, breakfasts and brunches are noticeably absent here on this blog.  It’s odd because we both love breakfast food, but I think it comes down to motivation–we’d rather indulge in dinner rather than breakfast on the weekends, and often brunch ranks among the few meals that makes more sense to go out for rather than to stay in and cook.

It’s also likely due to the fact that things like orange juice and milk are expensive to buy when they are only consumed two days of the week at most–plus it always requires planning as schlepping to the market and back on a Saturday or Sunday morning before the first caffeine hits is an unbearably cruel thing for anyone to endure over the weekend.

Maybe it was this quote from No Reservations that put us over the edge subconciously:

Then there the People Who Brunch. The “B” Word is dreaded by all dedicated cooks. We hate the smell and spatter of omelettes. We despise hollandaise, home fries, those pathetic fruit garnishes, and all the other cliché accompaniments designed to induce a credulous public into paying $12.95 for two eggs. Nothing demoralizes an aspiring Escoffier faster than requiring him to cook egg-white omelettes or eggs over easy with bacon. You can dress it up with all the focaccia, smoked salmon, and caviar in the world, but it’s still breakfast.

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Focaccia with Oven-Roasted Campari Tomatoes

When our dear friend L told us she wanted to spend a weekend in the city to visit her sister as well as check in on us, the first thought we had was, of course, what food to prepare in anticipation of her arrival.  She mentioned something about potentially going out on Saturday night, and therefore wanted to eat many small plates.  Michael’s only request was for eggs and sausage to be somehow worked into the meal, so it should be hardly surprising that tapas became the theme of what would be a singular afternoon in our little Manhattan apartment. Read More

First off–to those who are joining us from The Kitchn:  benvenuto, tutti!  We were thrilled to be among those chosen to guest-post, and we welcome you to explore our little piece of the food blogging universe.

Poached Eggs, Spinach Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette, and Ciabatta Garlic Toasts with Homemade Ricotta and Speck

Poached Eggs, Spinach Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette, and Ciabatta Garlic Toasts with Homemade Ricotta and Speck

This was a weekend of experimentation:  Michael took a small risk by doing a pan-Mediterranean take on tapas (apparently he was worried I wouldn’t like it, which seemed odd, but his concern was moot anyway as I happily dug into my plate) and I did the same by making ricotta cheese, as I had never done so before and it’s one of his least favorite cheeses to eat.  The recipe on Epicurious seemed so simple, though, so I at least wanted to try my hand at it; after all, we’ve done duck ham and will probably cure some pork in the next few weeks–why not add cheese into the mix?

The cheese came out well, if a little too lemony (I think I used just a little too much–shame on me for  not measuring!), and paired nicely with the salty speck, crusty bread and runny eggs.  I always liked the idea of having a salad with brunch to cut some of the grease inherent in so many of the classic dishes, and this one–a mustard vinaigrette–is perfect for spinach:

Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette:

  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • White balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together mustard and desired amount of vinegar (some like a 1:1 ratio, others a 2:1 of oil to vinegar), add salt and pepper to taste, then slowly add oil and whisk to combine.  Drizzle over greens of choice.

It’s a light alternative to traditional brunch, to be sure, and perfect for a summertime morning/afternoon after a backyard cookout.  Buon apetito!


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