Sunday, March 31, 2013

Hummus Place

109 Saint Mark's Place, (Between 1st Ave. and Ave. A), New York, NY 10009
(212) 529-9198

Mediterranean cuisine spans several countries and we have always found it very soothing and welcoming especially with its focus on vegetables, fruits, grains and beans. Of course in New York City you can not miss the falafel sandwiches and the couscous. Taking time to find a good place to sit down and enjoy the flavors of this cuisine, I narrowed onto 'Hummus Place' for a Sunday afternoon lunch.

This place was authentic from the start and is also known for making their food fresh daily. The eggplant sandwich with a boiled egg was one combination that was something that I had not seen at other places. One bite into it and I was hooked. The hard boiled egg with the tahini made a very nice taste and different from the regular eggplant sandwiches. Also, the mango chutney added the correct balance in flavor.

The falafel came served on Tahini and green sauce. One of the best Tahini that I have tasted. Perfectly made and fried to perfection, they were quickly gobbled up.

Strained yogurt with za'atar and olive oil called 'Labane' was served as a dip. The touch of olive oil made the taste of za'atar come through. I have not tried it before but this was a good start. Will have to see how I can incorporate it into my own recipes.

As a side order, we had baked cauliflower with parsley tahini sauce which literally melted in the mouth. A full head of cauliflower made with the mildest of seasoning was quite soothing. A good healthy choice and something that I had not expected to be so tasty. Will surely remember to order this again.

The veggie couscous made of whole wheat grain and topped with vegetables came decorated with chick peas, raisins, caramelized onions and roasted almonds. A very nice combination and delicately made. This dish was served with a small bowl of clear soup, which I poured on top of my dish and it made it soft and slightly moist and hence perfect to eat.

There are three locations of this restaurant in the city, and the one in East Village was the one we tried. I am definitely keeping this one on my list for the next visit to the city.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sesame Truffle (Til Ladoo)

Happy Holi everyone! The festival of colors welcomes the beginning of the new season. Holi also signifies the victory of good over evil. Hindus all over the world celebrate it with colored powder, water, music, dance and lots of tasty treats to eat. So, here I am sharing recipe of a dessert that we used to eat during this time.

This tasty truffle look alike sweet is one of my favorites , which I learnt to make from my Aunt. Sesame seeds give warmth and energy to the body. They are rich in anti- oxidants and are used in most of the cuisines of the world. Store the seeds in the freezer for a longer shelf life.

1 1/2 cups White Sesame Seeds
1 cup Reduced Ricotta Cheese
1 tsp Melted Butter/ Ghee
4-5 Cardamom Seeds, slightly crushed
1/2 cup Sugar

Put the ricotta cheese in a non stick pan and cook it on low to medium heat till it is reduced into half and it looks almost solid. Keep aside to cool.

Dry roast the sesame seeds till they become fragrant and slightly brown. Let cool. Grind it coarsely in a blender. Put it back in the same pan. Add ricotta cheese, green cardamom and sugar. Stir well for five minutes or till it all comes together. Rub some butter/ ghee in both hands and shape them in balls.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Polpettina Homestyle Pizza Kitchen

102 Fisher Avenue, Eastchester, NY 10709
(914) 961-0061

Eastchester is quite close to us and we visit the shopping center quite often but have not ventured there for food. Browsing online, I discovered that not far from the main center but close to a largely residential area of Fisher Avenue there is a Pizza place that specializes in 'non-soggy' pizzas made from local ingredients. Intrigued I put it on my list for a try.

So, on a Saturday afternoon, done with shopping and feeling ready for a quick bite, we drove there. Polpettina as it turns out means a 'little meat ball' that is their main attraction along with the Neopolitan pizza. On the simply designed menu they have small plates, salads, pastas, pizzas and desserts. All quite enticing. There is also an extensive menu of beer for the beer lovers.

To get my kids busy, we try to order something quick and often it is the fries on the menu. Here the sea salt fries we ordered were really very very tasty and I could have polished the full order if it were not for the recurring gym class visions while I was munching on them. They were finely made and served in a tin baking pan giving them a rustic touch. There was another variety of garlic chip and herb, that caught my eye and I made a mental note of it for a future visit.

I also ordered something that I usually have not tasted at a restaraunt. It was side plate of roasted Brussel Sprouts. I have made these at home often with a simple recipe that calls for a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper only. Here  they came with a breadlike crust and flavors of garlic, salt and other herbs all that lent it a wonderful taste. It was a decent serving size for two people.
Since this was out first visit here and we were with kids the pizza we selected was their signature Neopolitan pie. True to the reviews, the chef here has mastered the art of making a pizza without making it soggy from the center. It was well cooked, crisp tasting with a very nice dough base. The tomatoes and cheese was surely locally sourced and sweet tasting. Each slice came out perfectly. On the menu there are other signature pies also - Fig, Marinara that come with different toppings. Perhaps they will be good for another day.