Tag Archive | Food

Cooking With Gail Presents: Amira Smoked Basmati Rice!

Amira Smoked Basmati Rice
All Photos By Gail

Do you like Rice? I sure do. I especially love fragrant, long grain  Basmati Rice from India. India! Seriously, it is the most delicious rice. Maybe you have shied away from making Basmati Rice in your home due to the additional required preparatory steps — such as rinsing, and then soaking the rice prior to cooking  — which can seem a bit daunting if you are used to the no fuss approach of throwing rice in a pan with some water, bringing it to a boil, and then forgetting about it for 40 minutes, which is a no-brainer.  I understand how you feel.

Amira Smoked Basmati Rice

But when you break it down, Basmati Rice preparation and cooking time takes maybe 10 minutes longer than traditional rice, so it can hardly be argued that it is a vastly longer or more labor intensive process. It just takes a little getting used to. I was recently sent a package of Amira brand Smoked Basmati Rice and I had fun making it and taking pictures of the process so you can see  that you don’t need to be scared to try something new. Come along and let’s have a little culinary adventure, shall we?

Basmati Rice Prep

Besides a spoon and a pan to cook it in, you will need a measuring cup and colander or strainer. Measure the rice (a general guideline is one part rice to two parts water, but the exact directions are printed on the bag so zero guesswork is involved) and pour it into the strainer. Next, run the rice under cold water from the tap for a minute or so, shaking it slightly to expose all grains, which will remove the excess starch.

Soaking Rice

That was fun, right? It gets better. Now transfer the rinsed rice to the pan and cover with water. Set a kitchen timer, or keep an eye on the clock, for 25 to 30 minutes while the rice soaks. You can either do prep on other parts of the meal during this time, or watch TV or play Words With Friends, which is something I enjoy doing.

Basmati Rice is a long grain rice by nature, but there is a very noticeable quality difference with Amira’s Premium Rice, which is extra long grain.  Amira smoked basmati rice is an all natural extra long grain rice, which is smoked in the ancient Persian tradition, resulting in an aromatic, smoky rice.

Once the rice is done soaking, drain it, and then add it back the pan with two cups of fresh water, bring to a boil, cover the pan, reduce the heat and cook for ten minutes. While the rice cooks, your kitchen may smell like you are baking a ham, but don’t be alarmed. After ten minutes, turn the heat off, move the pan to a cool burner and let it rest for ten more minutes. When you remove the lid, the rice will look something like this:

Amira Cooked Rice

Oh my, isn’t that beautiful! You can’t really tell from this photo, but the rice grains are so long that you may even freak out a little. It is really quite extraordinary.

Meal on a Tray

Here is a photo of my delicious and super easy-to-prepare single ladies dinner of two Trader Joe’s Masala vegetarian burger patties and huge pile of fluffy Smoked Basmati Rice, seasoned with little salt and some butter, because I love butter on my rice. What I discovered is that, after cooking, the smoke essence remains more in the fragrance than the actual flavor of the rice. So you do not need to be afraid that the rice will have a harsh, overly smoky, or meaty taste. It will just taste like delicious rice. Find out more about the Amira brand at Amira Dot Net.

Amira Rice Serving Suggestion

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Jubilee French Restaurant: C’est Si Bon!

jubilee-french-restaurant-logo
Above Image Courtesy of Jubilee, All Other Photos By Anne Raso.

Do you like French food? I sure do. Recently, I was invited to dine with a couple of friends at Jubilee, an authentic French eatery that’s just a short trip up First Avenue from my east village flat. Owned and operated by Eric Macaire, head chef Luc Holie (formerly of the late, great L’Absinthe) and his amicable wife Ilda (the couple hail from Montpelier and Paris, respectively),  Jubilee is a neighborhood gem whose warmly decorated interior is elegant while remaining comfortable, cozy and charming. I felt welcome right away.

Jubilee has a huge following for its fresh Mussels (Moules), prepared with your choice of  sauces including Marinière, Curry, Poulette, Catalane, Dijonnaise, Citronnée, Tomato Basil, Asian and Calvados (or choose  a trio of sauces). Mussels are served ala carte for $17 or with French Fries or Salad for $23.50. Keep that in mind if you have friends who are mussels fans!

Enjoy these photos of our menu choices!

Terrine de Foie Gras

As a first course, I enjoyed the Terrine de Foie Gras de Canard avec Compote de Fruit ($19), Chef Luc’s Homemade Terrine of Duck Foie Gras with a Balsamic Reduction and Fruit Chutney. The generous portion of this buttery Foie Gras is ultra creamy and mild, with the tart balsamic presenting  a nice flavor counterpoint. The bright sweetness of the fruit chutney is also nice complement, and adds welcome texture. This dish is very rich and I suggest sharing so as not to dampen your appetite for your main course.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Both of my dining companions ordered the Salade de Tomates d’Heritage avec Mozzarella et Vinaigrette au Balsamique ($13). This fresh  Heirloom Tomato Salad with Mozzarella and Balsamic Dressing arrives drizzled extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with fresh basil, with a toasted baguette “crouton” garnish.

Striped Bass

Fish lovers might enjoy the Loup de Mer aux Tagliatelles de Courgettes, Bouillon de Tomate Séchée ($29), Striped Bass, Zucchini Tagliatelles and Sundried Tomato Broth. The fish arrives with a gorgeous, browned crispy skin!

Black Angus Steak

Meat lovers have plenty to choose from on Jubilee’s extensive menu. The Steak de “Black Angus”($35) is a Grass Fed 10 oz Black Angus Steak, served with French Fries and Salad, with  choice of Green Peppercorn or Bearnaise Sauce. One of my friends chose to substitute her fries for a side of fresh sauteed  Brussels Sprouts, as she was watching her carbs. The requested, off-menu substitution was made with a smile!

Côte de Boeuf

Take a look at this luscious Côte de Boeuf ($40), a Grass Fed 14 oz Rib-Eye Steak, which was my entree. Also served with French Fries, Salad and a choice of Green Peppercorn or Bearnaise Sauce, we asked for both sauces and shared them. Divine! The meat was perfectly marbled with an excellent exterior char, and the crispy french fries were plentiful. The classic French bistro meal of Steak Frites surely does not get better than this.

Profiteroles

I finished off a very satisfying meal with a favorite French dessert that was too tempting to resist: Profiterolles au Chocolat ($11), a trio of perfect profiteroles, consisting of ultra-light and delicate choux pastry balls filed with vanilla ice cream, garnish with toasted almonds, and served with a dish of warm chocolate sauce to drizzle over the top. So indulgent! Other delectable desserts on the menu include Molten Chocolate Cake with Caramel Ice Cream ($11), Classic Crème Brulée with Cointreau ($10), and a delicious baked dessert made with fresh berries, Gratin de Framboises (Raspberry Gratin) for $11, among many more sweet choices.

Cheese Plate

For those with not so much of a sweet tooth, Jubilee offers a cheese plate with your choice of three cheeses, accompanied by sliced fruit, nuts, field greens and an assortment of homemade breads — which would almost be ideal as a light lunch or afternoon snack! At the end of our meal, we were also presented with a small plate loaded with tiny homemade Madeleine cakes, still warm from the oven and dusted with confectioners’ sugar – what a very special treat!

Jubilee has an extensive menu with dishes to please every palate. They also host a popular weekend Boozy Brunch ($28.50) that I would love to try with a few friends. I’m excited to have discovered Jubilee,  my new go-to place to enjoy all of my favorite French dishes and great service! Bon appetite!

Jubilee is located at 948 First Avenue (at 52nd Street) in Manhattan. Phone: 212-888-3569. For reservations, menus, and more information, visit This Link.!

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Ridiculous Super Bowl Party Dessert: The Snickers Cheeseball


Okay, I admit that the idea of a Snickers Cheeseball is kind of, well, gross, until you see what goes into it, and how super easy it is to make. And then, it gets kind of exciting don’t you think? Also, I bet it tastes delicious. If you end up making this for your Super Bowl party, or whatever, leave me a comment and tell me how it came out.

Snickers Cheeseball

Thanks to Delish for the Tip!

United Steaks of America

Meat America
Photo By Gail

Meat America is an eye-opening and artery-clogging tour of the American spirit, as told through meat. This photo by Dominic Episcopo, winner of a PDN Taste Food Photography Award, was snapped by me at the Photo Plus Expo, held at NYC’s Javits Center in October 2016.

Bacon Thing of The Day: Bacon and Egg Breakfast from Magazine Ads

Bacon and Eggs
Photo By Gail

Photographer Yimei Wang (School of Visual Arts) won a 2017 PDN Student Photo Contest for Restructured Fast Food, a study on fast foods reconstructed with newspaper’s and magazines, which comments on both consuming behavior, and today’s direct access to information, using collage montage.

Photographed at 2016’s Photo Plus Expo.

Product Review: Boulder Canyon Riced Vegetables

Boulder Canyon Riced Vegetables Packaging
All Photos By Gail

As an admitted foodie with a very busy schedule – and not much time for, or interest in, cooking an evening meal for just myself from scratch – I celebrate the great quality and awesome variety available in Trader Joe’s frozen food aisle! I love convenience, but I refuse to sacrifice taste, and I’m always excited by side dish options that balance a meal, while delivering on both quality and flavor. Boulder Canyon Natural Foods, best known for their delicious Chips and snacks, have now ventured into the frozen side dish domain, with delicious results.

Riced Sweet Potato

Boulder Canyon Foods‘ grain-free Riced Vegetables are made with 100% vegetables, making them a healthy and easy addition to your dinner table! I received packages of two varieties: the Riced Sweet Potato Caramelized Onion (seen above) and the Cheddar Broccoli. I prepared each of them with a different meal over two nights, and here are my findings.

Riced Sweet Potato in Pan

Cooking instructions on the package call for microwave use (you can actually just throw the entire bag in the microwave , no pan needed) but I don’t own a microwave, so I used a non-stick sauce pan,  without any oil or water added. There is no need to defrost the product. I cooked the riced veggies over medium heat until they were fully cooked – maybe 5 minutes.  Preparation is super easy and the hassle of chopping everything has been done for you!

Riced Sweet Potatoes and Veggie Burgers

I served the Riced Sweet Potato dish with two Trader Joe’s Masala Burgers, which are potato-based veggie patties with Indian seasonings (very delicious). The added aromatic sweetness from the caramelized onion enhanced the sweet potato’s natural flavors, and provided a pleasing contrast to the savory Masala Burgers (which I topped with shredded cheese, because I love cheese).

Riced Sweet Potatoes and Veggie Burgers

Here’s a close up. The Sweet Potatoes cook up soft but not mushy. They taste a little bit like carrots. In fact, if you were to serve them to one of those “I don’t like Sweet Potatoes” people, you could say they were eating carrots and I bet they would never know the difference.

The next night, I made the  Riced Broccoli with Cheddar Cheese, which I figured would pair well with a Trader Joe’s Chicken and Bean Burrito. Yum.

Riced Broccoli in a Pan

A little steam got on my camera lens.

Riced Broccoli and Burrito

If that looks good, it’s because it was! I love broccoli, and the ricing does not diminish the fresh, robust flavor. The cheddar cheese flavor was a bit ‘in the back’ of everything though, so you if you really like cheddar cheese on your broccoli, you could always shred additional cheese on the top. There is no such thing as too much cheese!

Boulder Canyon Riced Vegetables are a terrific Rice Alternative for anyone on a gluten free diet, and they come in eight flavors, so you never get bored! Find out more about all Boulder Canyon Riced Vegetables varieties, and learn about their family of other fine foods products at This Link!

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David Shrigley, Memorial

David Shrigley Memorial
All Photos By Gail

Across the centuries, memorials have acted as public sites of collective remembrance and markers of our shared cultural heritage. Some monuments continue to hold a contemporary significance, while others have become obsolete in an ever-changing urban and social landscape; their meanings often lost from civic consciousness.

Memorial, Rear View
Memorial, Rear View (Plaza Hotel in Background)

Memorial, by British artist David Shrigley honors one of the most common of all acts: the writing for a grocery list. By engrave this ephemeral, throwaway list on a solid slab of granite — a material ubiquitous with the language of monuments — the artist humorously subverts both a daily routine and the role of the classic memorial.

While Shrigley’s shopping list might appear to posture as a counter-monument, through its celebration of common activity, its anonymity and absurdity, the sculpture becomes a memorial both to no one and to everyone — perhaps standing as a simple but poignant ode to humanity.

David Shrigley: Memorial will be on view through February 26, 2017 in Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park, Fifth Avenue at 59th Street.