Archive | March, 2011

Grape and Basil Crumble

30 Mar

I have yet to master shopping for fresh produce in NYC.  With only 2 of us and a NYC apartment, I try to shop in small batches to make sure things don’t go bad.  However, as many a day does not play out the way we expect, and we wind up eating out a LOT more than we should, I have the inevitable problem of having to throw too much food away. It makes me want to cry… wasting all that food.

So when I had a whole bushel of grapes that were a few days from being too soft, I had to ask myself “How do I use up a lot of grapes before they go bad?”  This is when I got creative…

First, there was mixing grapes with brown sugar.


Then it was “what can I do that will make this unique?” and the spice cabinet was opened and basil was sprinkled and with a moment of both bravery and hope, I threw it all together.


Then topped it with the leftover crumble I had from the Drunk ‘N Nutty Pie.


And I popped it into the over and prayed.  I removed it when it was bubbling and starting to brown.


And it was good.  BOY it was good. I actually wished I had added MORE basil.  The flavors were incredibly complimentary.


So today’s lesson in baking: Don’t be afraid to mix in spices that wouldn’t ordinary be thought of as baking supplies.  Enjoy the creative spoils.


Fudged Fudge

23 Mar

I have heard horror stories about fudge.  And I have also heard that you can make it in the microwave and no one will notice.  When looking for recipes one day, I decided to try the latter one and see how it turned out. 

I only had deep pans, and I was concerned about getting the fudge out.  So I greased up the sides and put parchment paper on the bottom (cut to size).  Turned out perfectly and came right out.


And it was easy to make multiple varieties just by mixing it right in the pans (that I made small to have a few flavors).  This one had white chocolate chips in it.


I then just used a simple bench scraper to cut into squares.


And we had perfect little servings of fudge.


 I still had some leftover sweet glazed pecans from the cheesecake, so I added them to one batch. (This wound up being my favorite)


It was remarkably simple, tasty, and the texture was actually BETTER than many homemade fudges I have tasted.  Next time you need to make an impressive dessert with about 10 minutes of hands on time, look no farther than microwaved fudge. (Let the fact it was so damn easy stay our little secret)


Microwaved Fudge
(borrowed from


  • 16 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts (optional.  I tried white chocolate chips and pecans.  I think it would be amazing with pretzel pieces, fruit, or peanut butter)
  • I also added a bit of salt after melting until the chocolate was to my liking


  1. Line an 8×8 inch square dish with aluminum foil.  (if you want to make multiple flavors, use a smaller pan.  And when I tried to use aluminum foil, it wouldn’t get flat and I didn’t want wrinkled in my fudge, so I just buttered the containers and put parchment paper on the bottom)

  3. Chop chocolate and place in a large, microwave safe bowl with condensed milk. Microwave on high, stirring once or twice until chocolate is soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir until completely smooth. Stir in vanilla and walnuts. Spread in prepared pan.
  4. Refrigerate 2 hours, until firm. Cut into squares.

Bar’rique: An awesome new addition to the West Village

21 Mar

I was with friends in the West Village and texted a coworker, Sam, who lives in the neighborhood for a recommendation on where to have dinner.  He said we should definitely try Bar’rique (on Bleecker between 6th and 7th Aves, right next to Murray’s Cheese Shop).  I checked the menu and reviews on my phone and all looked good, so off we went.

It definitely has a wine bar feel, with high tables and focus on the bar.


They also have a small, open kitchen and we had the fortune of sitting right outside.


We started with some delicious, but over-priced crostini.  I got the ricotta with honey and almonds.  It was about 3 bites, and cost $4.  It was good, but I’m not sure if it was $4 for 3 bites good.


The rest of the table also tried the truffled white beans with beets and the prosciutto with cheese, peppers and capers.


Mike thoroughly enjoyed the prosciutto one.


For entrees, Mike got the burger.  I was surprised to see that the pickled vegetables on top included jalapenos.  I took a piece of burger from the bottom and it was very flavorful.  Nice char.


Mike also said the burger was fantastic, juicy, and the pickled vegetables were a great compliment.  We all enjoyed the fries.  Perfectly crispy.


Our friend, Eden, got the Mizuna salad, which is a Japanese lettuce with cinnamon roasted pears, parmesan, candied hazelnuts, and hazelnut vinaigrette.  He really enjoyed it, and I meant to try it by completely forgot.  That combination of salad ingredients is right up my alley.


I chose the braised short ribs. They came with honey glazed turnip and Anson Mills white grits.  I am usually not a grits fan, but whatever the Anson Mills brand is, it’s fantastic.  The turnips were just perfect and holy cow… the short ribs were holyfuckinawesomelydelicious.  They had such a great flavor, on such a great sauce, over great grits.  I was totally blown away by this dish.  An easy 9 on the Nom Scale.


Our waitress, Sarah, was incredibly attentive and sweet.  She also informed us that this place just opened in January.

Overall, everyone walked away from this meal saying what a gem this place is.  All our food was outstanding, and even the wine we had was great.  While the crostini was over-priced for the serving size, I found the rest of the menu reasonable for the caliber of food and portions.  Not cheap by any means, but completely worth every penny.  They focus on sustainable farming and wineries and have a seasonal menu that changes with the best ingredients.  It is very obvious that there is extra care in the way this food is prepared, and I highly suggest trying this place before the rest of the world finds out.  It won’t be empty on a Saturday night for long!

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10