Eyre Affairs

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Location: New York, United States

Monday, January 15, 2007

"I could not forego the delicious pleasure..." ~ Jane Eyre

Last year, J. Sarah gave me a gift subscription to Saveur magazine, a must-read for all foodies. One of the magazine's treats is that each year it publishes a special issue and chooses 100 random food-related items and hails them all. 2007 is another fantastic list. Aside from listing some New York City items, it lists Zankou chicken (a chain in California founded by an Armenian man) and Armenian Tahini bread. Trust me, this list is fantastic!

However, Saveur cannot be the be all and end all. So, I have decided to make my own list for 2007 in the spirit of theirs! Of course mine shall be much shorter. To my foodie readers everywhere, enjoy! Perhaps you will take this and make one of your own. To my non-foodie readers, I hope you try some of these items! I gave links as needed! Cheers!

AIMEE'S 20 FOR 2007:

1) *Harissa* - Harissa is an ingredient that is essential in Moroccan cooking. The base includes hot peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and preserved lemons along with a huge mixture of spices. I used it last night in a Nigella Lawson recipe for a Moroccan chicken stew. The spice Harissa has is well-rounded and not overpowering and there are so many versatile uses for it.

2) *Cauliflower* - I have been making recipes from the South Beach Diet recently (I have lost six pounds since New Years!), and one is for mashed cauliflower. It is absolutely delicious and so healthy and it doesnt make me miss mashed potatoes at all! Steam the broccoli and then place it in a food processor. Once it is cut up, remove it and add some fat free half and half, yogurt butter, and some salt and pepper. I keep seeing orange cauliflower and am tempted to try it.

3) *Crockpot* - Lime got me interested in slow cooking when she purchased a crockpot a few months ago. I followed suit and got the same one she did; it is a new toy for me to experiment with! So far I have made one dish, chicken cooked with dill and vegetables, and what it does to meat is just amazing. There is no need to purchase an expensive one, and I find that I am happy with my investment even if I use it once or twice a month.

4) *Loaves and Fishes Cookshop/Viking Store* - I am all set to take my knife skills class at the culinary school Viking has, but the school is also a part of the Loaves and Fishes cookshop. The first store opened in Bridgehampton, and now the new store is just a few moments away from my apartment. The two men who own it are so nice and I enjoy chatting with them. Most of the products are the upper echelon cooking tools, so I expect to splurge only once in a while. Still, I got a Cat Cora cookbook there two weeks ago.

5) *Nigella Lawson* - How can I not place her on the list? I adore her. I adore her accent, her fattening recipes, and her strength of character that is evident both on and off of her show. I own her cookbook How to Eat and I highly recommend it. It even has a wonderful section on cooking for children and babies. I can't wait to make some once Jack gets a few more teeth in!

6) *Jackson Heights* - Jackson Heights is a neighborhood that is located in the northwest section of the borough of Queens. It is also the new nabe that J. Sarah has moved to! Sure, its a gorgeous street, a beautiful house, and has lots of history, but lets face it: Jackson Heights' real claim to fame is the food! So far I have tried four restaurants there already with J. Sarah and I cannot wait to start trying more. I once asked our friend Moo if she would move there with me. She said yes as long as we were both ok knowing we would be 500 pounds each. Sigh. We are not moving there.

7) *Santoku Knife* - I cannot rave enough about this knife. It cuts so well, and although some wrist action is needed to make the perfect cut, it is worth the investment for one. Classic knives are great, but I think santokus are just exceptional.

8) *Van's Belgian Waffles* - They are lowfat, low calorie, and available wheat and gluten free. I cannot believe how yummy these waffles are since they are so good for you. I find them at Whole Foods. They even taste great with the sugar-free maple syrup I put on top of them.

9) *Ali A El Sayed* - Ali is the owner of Kebab Kafe in Astoria, Queens. I have eaten there three times in the past two months; it is a small hole-in-the-wall with Egyptian decor and a kitchen that is storefront. Ali is the chef and host, and I absolutely adore him. He is quite a charmer; if only he were not old enough to be my grandfather, I would marry him just so I could eat his stewed lamb each night.

10) *Better N Peanut Butter* - As delicious as peanut butter is, it is quite sugary and fattening. Fortunately, trader Joe's carries this great alternative with just a few grams of fat and a great flavor. It is really delicious spread on an apple and a great way to get peanut butter taste without any guilt at all. It is also good for topping celery with.

11) *HMart* - HMart is the Korean market by my apartment that opened recently. To say the produce is phenomenal is an understatement. Not only is everything fresh and delicious, it is also quite inexpensive compared to supermarket produce. What is also exciting is finding special foods only related to Korean cooking and cuisine. One is a citron tea. It is a jar of honey and citron that you place two teaspoons in to boiling water. I got some for J. Sarah and myself after we had it at a Korean restaurant last month. The fish selection at HMart is the best, and they even have great sushi each day.

12) *Bella Famiglia pomegranate Sparkling Water* - This Italian import has the best flavor of any sparkling water I have had. It comes in other flavors, like tangerine, and it is so refreshing that I do not crave diet soda anymore at all.

13) *Otto* - Otto is a Bastianich/Batali restaurant that has become a favorite spot of mine to dine for the past year and a half. I never tire of going there and still consider it hot for 2007. It is just north of Washington Square Park. The wine list is amazing, the cheese selection phenomenal (especially the fresh ricotta) and the prosciutto is to die for. Just the wine, cheese, and prosciutto alone is enough to make you forget the amazing pizzas.

14) *Cheerios* - It has been a long time since I have had Cheerios, but recently I have rediscovered this amazing cereal with a whole in it since Jack, my nephew, loves it. He even has a book on Cheerios. Nothing tastes better than a Cheerio given to you by your sixteen month old nephew. Trust me.

15) *Soy Milk* - Don't knock it until you have tried it. Chocolate soy milk is a delicious treat and now companies are making soy milk with no added sugar. I found a low-sugar cappuccino soy milk that is great for making shakes with.

16) *Morton's Creamed Spinach* - I love Morton's steakhouse and consider it my favorite despite visiting many a steakhouse. The wine list is great, the petite filet mignon is perfectly petite, but the creamed spinach is the best thing on the menu. The Ina Garten recipe I found and made for Christmas comes close, especially since both use nutmeg as a part of the seasoning.

17) *Baklava Cheesecake* - J.Sarah's brother made it this past summer with a recipe he created. I tried to duplicate after he gave it to me, but it didnt hold a candle to his. I am not yet a master of phyllo dough, but he certainly is and the crust was just phenomenal. I plan on working out the kinks so this can become a staple in my limited baking repertoire.

18) *First Fridays of the Month Dining* - Each first Friday of the month, I dine out with my friend Sarah and friends. We are all a part of a restaurant club that KeyKey formed. We rotate who chooses what restaurant. This past Friday we went to Coolfish in Syosset; it was so delicious and I actually liked that there were eight of us at a small table; it made dining cozy and fun. Since we are all recovering a bit from the holidays, we decided to do a theme night next month instead and make Italian food and dine at KeyKey's house. I am making gnocci, of course! This type of club is a great one to start with friends, so I hope mentioning this gets a trend going!

19) *Papa Dobles* - This Hemingway cocktail is my new cocktail of choice. It is made with marichino liquor, light rum, key lime juice, and grapefruit juice. Papa knew his cocktails.


20) *Maroni's* - I visited Maroni's this past Saturday evening for the first time, and I hope it will not be my last. This Italian restaurant is an undiscovered hideaway that specializes in a tasting menu that is just amazing. Chef Maroni presents you with small plates of twelve courses. Among the foods we ate this past Saturday evening were homemade meatballs, beef carpaccio, linguini with truffles, gingered shrimp on a skewer, chicken milanese, caviar with creme fresh on a homemade potato chip, oysters on the half shell, and clams oreganato. Who is the we? That is a secret for now. Though perhaps what made the meal so memorable was the company I was with...


Anonymous lime said...

yeah, you'll use it more than once or twice a month...i'm up to once a week! LOVE IT! all hail the crock pot!

2:55 PM  
Blogger ThursdayNext said...

Mmmm. Lime, you are probably right. I am all set to use the Tuscan slow cooking sauce I got from WS this weekend. :) All hail the crockpot (and its users) indeed! :)

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

GOOOD list Thurs, one that had me absolutely drooling like a pug!


4:00 PM  
Blogger K9 said...

/bark bark bark

i like vanilla soy milk. it tastes like liquid almonds. 6 pounds!! cant believe you had them to spare! i use the crock pot to bake potatoes....ready when you get home (i bet potatoes arent on the south beach diet)


4:19 PM  
Blogger ThursdayNext said...

Peej ~ I love pugs. :)

Rottiepooch ~ Cleo's top twenty would have included watermelon. I used to pick the seeds out for her. Hmmm. No baked potatoes on Sobe, but I do swear that the cauliflower is a great alternative!

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great list, though rather lengthy. ;-) Love cauliflower! And choco soy milk is great too. Yum!

10:41 PM  
Blogger Percival said...

Methinks I spot a most unfortunate pattern…

“The two men who own it are so nice and I enjoy chatting with them.”

“Ali is the chef and host, and I absolutely adore him.”

“Fortunately, trader Joe…”

“Tiki Barber…”

To say nothing of that bodegon guy reflected in the doggone bodegon, uh… glass casing, or whatever bodegons normally come in – shrink wrapping, perhaps? (Apologies, on mine blog it appears I confused Bodegon Guy with your nephew – it is thy nephew who be Jack, it appears, and I do fully endorse that relationship…)

No sense of decorum then, Miss Eyre? Do you so regularly and cavalierly dash all hope?

With mixed indignation/consternation and a most becoming superciliousness and formality,

“Yours” amongst a throng,

Sir Percival

11:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well my attempt to make your next culinary list is over at WonkyTimes today. Enjoy!!

Go East, young woman :)


4:27 AM  
Blogger ThursdayNext said...

Amy ~ Oh, this was a fifth of the actual Saveur one! The 100 must take them the entire year of research prior to publishing. :)

Percy ~ Oh for goodness sakes. The two men at the store are gay, Ali is older than my father, Trader Joe's is a market, mentioning Tiki was to get a laugh, and the man in the bodegon entry is the center of something unrequited from long ago. Except you missed the last few lines of number twenty. ;) Still, Sir Percy, it does seem that you remain amongst a throng.

Peej ~ Oh, if only I could literally come east versus figuratively!

5:45 AM  
Blogger work in progress said...

Amy, Amy, Amy, I am not a cook. Were it not for baking, I wouldn't know my way around a kitchen. I do love good food, however, and your food posts always make my mouth water. A few suggestions:

Have a bowl of cheerios with soy milk and fresh strawberries...the tang they add to the cereal is marvelous, and as far as the milk goes, I can't tell the difference (of course, it's been a number of years since I drank cow milk)

Get unsalted, natural peanut butter. It still has the fat, but it's good fat. This is the only kind of peanut butter that gets into our house.

Have you ever made your own hummus? I want to attempt it but am affraid of crashing and burning.

7:41 AM  
Blogger ThursdayNext said...

WIP ~ Being Armenian, I do make my own hummus. :) This recipe is easy; don't be intimidated. All of it just goes into a blender!

1 can (15 oz) chick peas
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup Tahini paste
1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
3 cloves garlic (more or less according to taste)
3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Chopped fresh parsley


1. Drain the chick peas reserving some of the liquid to thin the Hummus later if needed.
2.Combine the chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, onion, garlic, olive oil, cumin, pepper and salt in a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth adding the chick pea juice to thin if needed.
3. Refrigerate for 3 or 4 hours before serving to allow the flavors to blend together.
4. When serving, garnish with parsley, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with a dusting of paprika. It is up to you.

9:42 AM  
Blogger work in progress said...

I KNEW you were the person to ask...I'm off to buy some tahini and attempt this today! Thanks!


11:18 AM  
Blogger Percival said...

You PRESUME the two men at the store are gay, Miss Eyre. Yet you may be in more danger than you know.

Because a man lisps, prances, and dangles his wrists may indicate merely that a mouse or spider is about or that he has discovered a hangnail, and nothing more.

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So-- I have so many, many comments- but I am going to just tell you a few of my favs...Congrats on the 6 pounds!!! I am obsessed-- obsessed with my crock pot and spend quality time with it on Sundays. Nigella-- Oh! How I love her-- unfortunately, I can just never throw together her recipes as they call for things like whole milk and regular olive oil and I have skim milk and extra virgin olive oil-- but I do love her-- and her philosophies! Ok all for now! Great list!!!

1:00 PM  
Blogger ThoughtsGalore said...

Where do I even start with your list?!

Who knew Cauliflower could taste so good. That's one of my new favorite recipes. On my lazy days I do the crockpot. Oh on that.

Not tooo into Nigella, but I haven't given her a great chance. I have taken some cooking classes at a Viking cooking school. I also am signed up for the next section this spring. (A Christmas gift from the hubby.) You should totally see if they have something like that for you. I'm a great cook and love it, but these classes really get me diving into new recipes.

Ok...Thinking of you..

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yum, your list makes me hungry! You are right about the soy milk, I love the vanilla flavored one like k9. I also love vanilla extract and coconut. My best recent cultural endeavour was making my own coconut milk! I loved how the entire house smelled like coconut. Now I am still trying to find a nice recipe for a soap or scrub so that I can use the leftover coconut flakes.

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, and I love to serve my chumus with pine nuts on top. It really adds an interesting twist.

1:25 PM  
Anonymous Neil said...

Come to LA. I'll take you to Zankou chicken! And my father-in-law is Armenian, so he knows ALL the hot spots in town.

5:42 PM  
Anonymous Orange Peel said...

You missed something. Something to keep that chocolate desire and sweet tooth under control.

A great tasting hot cocoa called Chocodant. It's really low in carbs, fat, and calories. It'ssweetened with something called JAJA Stevioside being sold at a web site

7:00 PM  
Blogger ThoughtsGalore said...

Ok Ms. Teacher. Give me a good book to go pick up today. I need a good book. I've just gone through about everything, even fluff.

I'm very disappointed in my Jennifer Weiner book. It's a collection of short stories, but after each one I'm left wanting more. I hate that! I finished Barak Obama's Audacity of Truth. WOnderful. Hmmmm...!
Help me my literary friend...

10:46 AM  
Blogger ThursdayNext said...

WIP ~ Let me know how it came out! I forgot to mention to have it with whole wheat pita chips!

Percy ~ These adorable men are "partners" with each other, silly man! :)

Kels ~ Indeed, Nigella's recipes are best used just once in a while. I am longing to make her creamy pasta and mushroom bake, but can't bring my hips to do so!

TG ~ In the spirit of this post, I recommend "Cooking for Mr. Latte" by New York Times culinary writer Amanda Hesser!

Neil ~ Sofia's dad is Armenian? Sofia is half Armenian?!? That makes her even more special than she already is. Trust me, once I can get to LA, I shall call you up for some Zankou-ing!

Frumteacher ~ I had a coconut martini the other night with coconut flakes on the rim. MMMMMMM.

Orange Peel ~ Well thanks for the suggestion...why is it so expensive?!? It sounds delish though.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Ryane said...

Couldn't agree with you more on Nigella. She's amazing...

Let's see: haggis, Branston pickle, Open City's Ginormous cafe Lattes, Vace's, homemade waffles...oh dear. Amy--now I am hungry!!! ;-)

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great list! I LOVE my crockpot. You can cook anything in it. Crocks rock!

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I shall have to print this out..such a good list...I wish I could see the foodie' places you go to!..

I wanted to diet...so I tried...only to binge yesterday...sigh!..I will try the cauliflower you posted..

9:02 PM  
Anonymous Non-Highlighted Heather said...

I smiled when I came to your page. I have read Jane Eyre every year for the past 21 years. The 19th century is where my literary heart is. I think it's only fair that I start providing Neil with a finder's fee. I've found the loveliest blogs through him.

I will have to look for that peanut butter when I go to Trader Joe's tonight. Life simply isn't worth living when you go to your case of 2 Buck Chuck and find it empty.

9:28 PM  
Blogger work in progress said...

I made the hummus. I had a friend I hardly see anymore come over for lunch and after a good half hour of cursing the hummus making process (I have a crappy blender and a lousy miniature food processor, both were trying VERY hard to thwart my efforts) I swore I would NEVER made the stuff again.

Until my girlfriend tried some and raved about how awsome it was as she proceeded to wolf down a large portion. She was right, it's really good! Though, I did get a little carried away with the garlic. I LOVE garlic, and was a little too generous with the cloves (I lost count). So, those who eat this batch will be exhaling garlic for days.

Thanks Amy, it was a hit.

11:23 AM  

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