EAT HERE NEW YORK! Cask Bar and Kitchen

I am an entertainer. But I only get paid to entertain about 20% of the time.

And in ridiculously overpriced New York City, that means I have to have a real job.

A day job. At a desk.

Luckily, I have a great day job that allows me to research restaurants I dream of going to insistently.

And my friends know that I am constantly reading up on the restaurant news in New York so I am usually the one that has to choose the place we meet for happy hour, dinner, brunch, or even a cup of coffee.

A lot of times, I meet people for imbibing around my work which is near the Gramercy and Flatiron areas of Manhattan so I pretty much have researched every restaurant within a 10 block radius of my corporate prison….I mean, ehem, workplace.

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And of all of my nearby go to’s, Cask Bar and Kitchen is one of my absolute favorites.

The ambiance in this place is perfection.

Tables made of elegantly dark wood, giant booths, perfectly dim lighting, adorable little mason jars filled with frilly carnations, leather bound drink menus, an upstairs and downstairs bar, and friendly service.

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Now. A rule I live by: always find restaurants that offer free bread when you are going out with people whom you know are going to be late. That way you can have a delicious nibble while you sip your wine and wonder where the hell your friends are.

The bread at Cask is just a standard multi-grain loaf but the olive oil with flecks of peppers and olives concoction that comes with it is a fine starter. But who am I kidding, I would eat a pile of Saltines if they were free.

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There are so many wonderful things on the menu but where there is a small plate option, there you will find me. You see, I am a snacker. If I could eat little tiny meals all day, every day, for the rest of my life, that is how I would choose to live. Well. I CAN eat that way. But I also CAN get super fat. It is in my genes. And I want to fit into my jeans. So I only indulge in my fantasy eating when presented with the option.

The Small Plates are fantastic at Cask. Everything from mussels to macaroni.

For my first plate, I chose the Carmelized Brussel Sprouts with spicy chorizo and creamy manchego ($9). Manchego is one of my all time favorite cheeses. It is so delightfully tangy, it sounded like a perfect addition to the creamy, sweet brussel sprouts and the spicy salt of the chorizo. And it is an absolute bargain for $9! It is almost enough food to be considered a regular sized plate. But….I couldn’t stop with just one small plate…..

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…..especially when I saw the Sweet Potato Gnocchi with smoked applewood bacon and parmesan cream ($10). And it was everything I had hoped for. The gnocchi was like biting into salty and sweet lumps of butter. The applewood bacon was not only a great textural contrast, but the salty power of the bacon deliciously cut into the gnocchi’s sweetness. The parmesan cream added another tangy dimension to the entire dish as well. Come to think of it, the technical complexity of flavors and textures were pretty similar in both of these dishes. And they both were just splendid.

So. Eat here. And you may see me, sitting, munching on free bread, repeatedly staring at my phone in anticipation.

Cask Bar and Kitchen

167 East 33rd Street, Manhattan

33rd Street between Lexington and 3rd Avenue

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Cooking Adventures: Mediterranean Roasted Broccoli!

I DID IT!

I finally created my very own original recipe.

Well, original to me.

I am sure someone has made this somewhere throughout the course of human history.

But in my own history, this is the first recipe where I have taken bits and pieces of what I have learned from numerous food blogs (most notably The Amateur Gourmet and Smitten Kitchen) and created something.

All. By. Myself.

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Eating vegetables is a skill that I did not acquire until I was an adult.

But throughout my avid avoidance of all things good for me, I have had an allegiance to broccoli.

When I was vegan for 3 and a half minutes, I finally started teaching myself how to cook and I was basically restricted to learning how to do so with vegetables.

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Now, I am extremely passionate about vegetables.  I have tons of new favorites but broccoli will always remain my number one. Not necessarily because it is the best but because it has been there the longest. You know, like any long term couple.

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My favorite method for cooking veggies, by far, is roasting.

I roast everything. Sweet potatoes, bell peppers, brussel sprouts, and even my own nuts!

Almonds. Not testicles.

But I couldn’t believe I hadn’t used my favorite roasting method with my favorite vegetable.

So I went on a hunt for a roasted broccoli recipe and of course I found one on one of my favorite food blogs, Amatuer Gourmet, called “The Best Broccoli of Your Life.” 

Go on…….

Adam Roberts’ recipe goes over the basics (425 degrees for 20 minutes, 5 TBLSP of olive oil, sliced garlic, etc)  of roasting broccoli but he also adds lemon zest, lemon juice, and parmasean.

Acid and cheese make everything better!

Acid And Cheese should be the name of my new punk band.

Now, when I first started actually cooking, my primary thought process was, “As long as it is edible.”

But this time, I had the spark of creativity.

“This needs color and texture,” I thought.

I proceeded to give myself a pat on the back for thinking that at all and then dove into my fridge and cupboards.

I found a red onion, pine nuts, and homemade tahini sauce.

More things that make all things better.

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So, I added slices of red onion to add some beautiful maroon (psssh! RED onion my ass) slices of onion to the vibrant pile of green roughage before I popped it in the oven so they could roast right along side their broccoli brethren.

When I popped it out of the oven 25 minutes later, I zested and squeezed the lemon and sprinkled the parmasean as planned. But then I scattered the pine nuts and drizzled the tahini sauce as artistically as possible.

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ISN’T IT GORGEOUS???!

Well, it is as delicious as it is beautiful.

Maybe Adam is talking about the best broccoli of YOUR life

But I assure you….THIS, most certainly, is the best of MY life.

Mediterranean Roasted Broccoli

Ingredients:

2 bunches of broccoli
6 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4  of 1 red onion
1 lemon
4 garlic cloves
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
parmasean cheese
tahini sauce
pine nuts

Steps:

1. Cut broccoli into big florets.

2. Place completely dry florets on aluminum foil covered baking sheet.

3. Add 5 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of pepper, sliced red onion, and 4 sliced (on the thicker side) cloves of garlic and toss.

4. Place in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes. Keep an eye on it. Don’t let it burn. Just let them get a little tender with brown edges.

5. Add 1/2 tsp more of salt and pepper. Toss again.

6. Zest and squeeze some lemon juice on top.

7. Garnish with as much tahini sauce, parmasean cheese, and pine nuts as you like.

ENJOY!

Let me know if you end up making it. No one has done that yet…..

🙂

AND WATCH MY COOKING WEB SERIES! A Cooking Show!

A Cooking Show Episode 6: Kale Chips

It is time for another exciting episode of “A Cooking Show.”

This week’s special guest is New York City comedian, Josh Hurley. He is one of my all time favorite people to be around, especially when I am aiming to act as ridiculous as possible. You can see Josh Hurley perform every Friday and Saturday night at National Comedy Theatre, one of New York City’s best short form improvisational theatres.

This week’s episode, we teach you how to make your very own batch of kale chips.

If you wish your entire day could be a steady stream of small snacks, then this is the recipe for you.

You can achieve the crunchy and salty satisfaction while also achieving your recommended daily percentage of vegetable consumption!

I have also made some improvements to the show. It is now half as long and all of the music is completely original. By me.

So, enjoy! Subscribe! LIKE! SHARE!

Cooking Adventures: Sour Cream Pancakes… From Scratch!

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I finally have, in my possession, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

And it is outstanding.

I am new to exploring this part of myself. The “home cook” part. But, when I am engrossed in a cookbook the way I would be in a great novel, I feel like I am turning on a light in a new room in my brain.

I have lived in this brain my whole life but, as I get older, I realize that I have never traveled to the east wing.

Exciting, right?

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While skimming through all of the recipes that I was going to make, I was beginning to feel intense anticipation.

I am going to make these things!

Skimming through the photographs, stories, ingredient lists, and cooking instructions, I started to drool… and sweat.

Wait.

I am going to make these things?

Looking at this cookbook felt like I was looking at a text book. There is so much I have to learn! How can I learn it all right now??

I mean, this pancake recipe looks simple enough but….I don’t even think I have successfully flipped a pancake before. AND peaches aren’t in SEASON! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

I often let myself overwhelm……..myself.

And the first rule for people like me? Baby steps.

So, I decided to just take the basic pancake recipe. And start there.

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I began to assemble my ingredients.

Pssh. Assembling ingredients? Child’s play.

Wait. Sour cream in pancakes?!

Seriously. Was there ever a better idea? I mean, other than electricity.

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As I learn more about cooking I realize how magical counter-intuitive seasoning can be.

Salty, sauteed bell peppers? Add some cinnamon!

Delectably sweet pancakes? Add some sea salt!

Just the right touch of these opposing ingredients can really bring a dish to life.

As the great Paula Abdul once said, “opposites attract, you know.”

And I once said, “holy shit, what happened to Paula Abdul?”

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Aaaww butter. Your incredible smell, the way you glide across a hot skillet leaving a silky train behind you, the way you make everything better, butter. Except the flow of blood through our arteries.

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I approached the moment of truth. Just put two even dollops of your completely from scratch pancake better on the hot cast iron skillet, wait for it to bubble on the top, get your spatula completely underne –

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Alright. Well.

That went exactly as I had feared.

So, I went and got a different, more gigantic spatula and tried again.

Oh no….. I guess I have to eat the pancakes I messed up. Too bad.

(Did that sarcasm read?)

And, of course, they were absolutely incredible. They looked terrible. But they tasted, literally, the EXACT opposite of terrible. Gooey, creamy, sweet (with pure maple syrup), and just a hint of salt right at the end.

Okay Rebecca. You are trying to be a food blogger.  You need a respectable picture of your finished product.

You know, in case someone actually reads this.

Here goes. One…..two…..THREE!

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HOORAY!!!!!

I did it!

Look at those babies.

Completely made from scratch. No Bisquick. No bullshit.

All me.

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So here they are. They are just the basic pancake recipe from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook.

But they are my first, perfected, completely homemade pancakes.

And definitely not my last.

I intend to get even better at making them so when peaches are in season, I can make her Peach and Sour Cream Pancakes.

By the way, I can not recommend this book highly enough. I am getting the entirety of this cookbook tattooed on my body.

 

Sour Cream Pancakes

Ingredients:

1 large egg
1 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
a pat of butter

Steps:

1. Whisk together the egg, sour cream, vanilla extract, and sugar in a large bowl.

2. Whisk together the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, baking powder, and baking soda in another bowl.

3. Gently fold (don’t vigourously over mix) the dry ingredients into the wet ones. The batter should end up fluffy, airy, and lumpy.

4. If you are lucky enough to have a cast iron skillet, get that out. If not, any medium sized skillet will do. Bring the skillet to medium-low heat and add your pat of butter. I accidentally typed “ass” instead of “add.” I had to tell you.

5. Ladle in a 1/4 cup of batter at a time. Let them spread a little, leaving 2 inches in between, and let them cook.

6. When the sides of the pancake look like they are cooked and the top is bubbling, grab a giant spatula, get completely underneath the pancake, and FLIP AS FAST AND CLEAN AS POSSIBLE.
These are not super simple to flip. This takes someone who is kinda bad ass.

And that’s it!

ENJOY!

ALSO! Keep an eye out for Episode 5 of my cooking show, A Cooking Show! Coming this week!

A Cooking Show Episode 2: Tuscan White Bean And Kale Soup

Episode two is finally here!

Are there any recipes you would like me to make?

Are there any questions you might have?

Do you want to tell me how unfunny and ugly I am?

Leave a comment below!

And I will see you next week for episode three of A Cooking Show right here on Happy Now?…!

It’s here!

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Ladies and gentleman. One of my first investments in A Cooking Show!

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I was so excited I couldn’t open the box like a grown ass human being.

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It slices! It shreds! It purees! It has suction cups for the counter! It has a place to store the chord!

It is a total starter FOOD PROCESSOR!

Get ready for a lot of dips and beautifully chopped vegetables.

Watch A Cooking Show!

Every week!

Right here on Happy Now?…!