Sunday, August 14, 2011

Single and Cooking in Chelsea Market: NYC, with a top chef surprise!

New York is a culinary adventure, I'm discovering. There are so many different restaurants, food shops, delis, food trucks that your palette may need to be cleansed and re-cleansed to enjoy every single one of these places.  So, at first I decided that Little Italy would be a great place to
My friend Keisha standing below
the Chelsea market sign.
explore but the rain poured heavily and a walking tour of Little Italy would leave my friend and I drenched to the bone.  I needed a quick change of plan so that we could explore indoors. After watching food network star and saw the episode featuring Chelsea Market, I had to go! Chelsea Market was the indoor alternative. Even though it was pouring rain, my friend convinced me that we should still go. We walked in the pouring to take the bus and two trains to 23rd and 7th where Chelsea Market was supposed to be; its actually located at 17th and 3rd.  When we got off the subway the sun shone brigtly; I said to my friend with enthusiasm, It stopped raining!  We walked another couple blocks and arrived at Chelsea market with our stomachs ready to be filled. We browsed around the browery, a kitchen supply store, looked at some strange fruit in the fruit exchange which I can't remember the name but the store owner told us that it did not taste very good.
 We also stopped at Amy's bakery and took pictures of her creative designs, like the purse shown on the right.

I was starving at this point and had to get something to eat, since seafood is a weakness of mine, we decided to grab a bite to eat at the Lobster Place. They had a lobster club for $16.95 which was a little pricey for me, so I went with the crab roll with bacon, avocado, lettuce and tomato for about $10.  My crab roll was rich, creamy and succulent. It came with a side of coleslaw and chips. The coleslaw was smothered in mayonnaise and I didn't really enjoy it. My friend kept raving about her shrimp salad about the freshness and the light sweetness of the dressing that did not overpower the salad.  

While eating lunch, I saw a familiar looking face standing in the Lobster place and I was like that's Carla Hall from Top Chef! My friend, not a shy person, went inside and introduced herself. I then came in and asked if I could take a picture with her and she said yes! I was so excited and she was nice enough to hold all my stuff for me while taking the picture. That was pretty cool.
Top chef Carla Hall and I
We browsed around a few more stores, got some bread and decided to leave before it got too late.  We were looking for more to do but the market was smaller than I expected. I thought it would be bigger for some reason. The trip was definitely had a few mini obstacles but it was worth everyone of them.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Curried chicken made easy

Aaah, the sweet and tangy taste of curry chicken brings me back home to Jamaica. The all consuming smell is a tradition in my family for everyday cooking and special occassions. Curried chicken, pork, goat, beef never tasted so good. I remember my dad leaving the meat to soak in the refridgerator overnight then taking it out and letting it slow cook in the oven for hours. I would marvel when the meat was done, how tender and juicy it tasted. However, I wanted to recreate this same meal and all the pleasures it brings being single and cooking. I tried numerous times to master this but never quite got it right but my patience has paid off. My curried chicken recipe is full of the same love and mouth watering taste.

1 pack skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon curry
2 sprigs of thyme
a dash of Mrs. Dash
1/2 of an whole onion
1 Roma tomato


1. Rinse chicken with vinegar over running water to clean. Cut chicken into medium sized cubes.
2. Season meat with salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash, thyme and curry.
3. Use hands to combine seasonings and meat. If desired, leave in refridegerator to soak in seasonings.
4. If not at room temperature, bring meat to room temperature. While waiting for meat to come to room temperature; finely dice the onion and tomato.
5. Prepare a skillet with about 2 tablespoon of oil. Sear chicken on both sides then cover pot to make the steam partially cook the meat.
6. When partially cooked, add a tip of water with the onions and tomatotes.
7. Cover pot and bring to a medium boil.
8. Reduce heat and then cook until desired amount of gravy is reached.
9. Serve over steamed rice.
Jamaican curry is available at some local grocery stores.
These are not exact measurements. Please use your own judgment.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Top 9 reasons why cooking for one at home is a blast!

Originally uploaded by Tracy Frayne

9.  You can cook whatever you feel like eating. If you want to have a feast you can have one; if you don't and feel like a sandwich then that's fine too.

8.  If a recipe or dish does not come out exactly the way you intended; you can still eat it.

7.  You have left overs for lunch and you can save money by not eating out for lunch and have your coworkers marvel at your lunch. :-)

6.You don't have to deal with a picky eater, which is not fun, trust me.

5.Yes, you have to wash the dishes but you can do it when you feel like it.

4. You don't have to feel guilty about eating dessert. There's nothing like sitting in front of the television with some Ben and Jerrys.

3.Your house will smell like good home cooking and we all love that smell.

2.Your cooking anxiety disappears because there is no one to impress.

1.You really learn how to cook based on your taste, likes and dislikes.

Why is cooking at home for yourself a blast?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Feature/Guest posts

Hi Everyone,

Just letting you know that I have an upcoming guest post on the Stay tuned-July 5th. So excited!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Single and Cooking in China Town, NYC

China Town is a culinary adventure because there are so many different herbs, fruits, drinks, teas and foods that I have never tried before so a day trip was definitely in order. My twin brother joined me for the day trip and made me laugh the whole time, singles need company too! I did a search on google for the best dumplings in China town and Prosperity Dumplings was one of the favorites so I had to have a taste of these dumplings. While looking for the restaurant, we passed a Buddhist temple which I thought was the Mahayan Buddhist temple  but it was not. All Buddhas are not the same, I learned.
Then, we passed a few bountiful street markets that had vegetables and fruits abound such as papaya, bunches of scallions, ginger just to name a few. We didn't stop to take any pictures of these because I was hungry for those dumplings. We reached Eldridge St. and thought Oh No!, this place is a hole in the wall but we went in anyway and the dumplings were super cheap.  I looked around and saw a lot of Asian customers so I thought to myself this place must have good dumplings.  Five freshly steamed and fried dumplings for only a dollar! My brother got the fried and I waited fifteen minutes for the steamed pork and vegetable dumplings. Must I say, that these dumplings were such a treat that I was literally shoving them in my mouth. I couldn't help myself. They were really good; the pictures are not so great because we were too busy eating.The pork and vegetables inside the dumplings were tender and cooked all the way through. The dough of the dumplings were soft yet chewy enough to give them a bite. I added some soy sauce and sriracha which gave added flavor. We left Prosperity Dumplings with our bellies full and looking ahead to a prosperous future.
We wandered  around Mott and Canal St. and stumbled upon The Donut Place which my brother told me was on Man vs. Food on the Food Network. I never heard of this place but my brother stopped to get a coconut creme donut which was too rich for my taste. I was very curious about Bubble Tea but I was very hesistant to have some. This was an adventure so I decided to take adventure by the reins and try this tea. The clerk was encouraging me to try it so I went ahead and got the coconut milk bubble tea. It was mildly sweet but the bubbles are actually balls made of tapioca. The tea was refreshing but the tapioca balls were
something new for my tastebuds. When my brother tried the bubble tea, he spat it out, myself and people on the street were laughing. This was a funny site.

We roamed around a few more streets and stores but our parking meter was about to run out. We hurried back to the car and prayed that we didn't get a ticket. We did not get a ticket and put more money in the meter to continue exploring but we had a surprise when we got back to the car to leave.

What do you think the surprise was?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

There's lots of fishes in the sea, make sure you catch this one!

We all hear the same story that breaking up with a guy should not be hard because there are lots of other men out there. Yes, there are LOTS of men out there, but are they worth catching? It depends on your tolerance, values, likes and dislikes. However, making a meal for one is a lot easier especially when fish is the main course. Before I started cooking, I thought fish would be one of the hardest things to cook but the opposite is never more true. With a lot of experimentation, whole fish has turned into one of my go to meals. Fresh porgy is in season now and very affordable at two to three dollars per pound. Two sizeable whole fish will cost you no more than $8 and make sure to look for ones that have clear eyes and smell like the sea. The fish guy-can't think of the official name will clean and gut it for you.
1.  When home from the grocery store rinse the fish with water and season with salt, pepper, thyme,Mrs. Dash, olive oil.
2.  Place seasoned fish in pot.
3.  Cut up onions, tomatoes, garlic; Place on top of fish.
4. Add about three tablespoons of water or more,if you like lots of gravy. (Remember, this is not a boiled fish recipe!)
5. Let fish steam in the covered pot for about fifteen minutes.
6.  During cooking, spoon gravy over fish for fabulous flavor.
7. Finish with a dab of butter in sauce.

For those that cannot eat fish with a head, please overcome being grossed out and take the leap. It will be well worth it. You can always take the head off after cooking the fish. You get the best of both worlds. The flavor from the head without having to eat it. Porgy is a bony fish so be careful when eating but remember that bones do give fish and meat its flavor. Buon appetit!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What do summer dresses and corn have in common?

Long gone are the winter coats and heavy boots; beautiful summer dresses and cute sandals take their place. A plethora of summer vegetables-fresh corn, fill the grocery store bins. There is nothing like sweet, summer corn, so I made a dinner of steamed fish and corn but had three ears of corn left over! A single person's dilema, what to do with all these left overs? Corn fritters come to mind. I reminisce about all the different types of fritters I ate as a young child. Scallion, codfish and plantain fritters made me the happiest especially when made by my parents; these memories made me yearn for piping hot fritters. I did not have scallion, codfish or plaintains but used the left over steamed corn to make my fritters. Improvisation, a cooking skill that I am honing is thwarted by my cookbooks, hence I found a recipe for corn fritters and made the batter in fifteen minutes. I made a batter for about four people and fried the fritters until golden brown. My dilemma with cookbooks, the recipes are usually written to serve at least three people, but I resolve to eat the fritters over a period of mornings. Fritter nostalgia curbed and an appetizing breakfast here I come!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Infinite possibilities with the can can man

Ewww! A can of tuna for dinner but this  gem of a can gives you five dinners during the work week. My uncle, a cook at heart, showed me the usefulness of these little cans of tuna. He said, I'm going to show you how to make a delicious dinner out of a can of tuna. I said to myself, no way, but he proceeded to
cut up some onions and tomato sauteed them in oil, added the tuna (drain water) to the onions and tomato, sprinkled some salt and pepper, added a tip of water then covered the pot. While preparing the tuna, he steamed fluffy rice and dinner was done. I was amazed at this, and the food tasted delicious. As a quick work night meal, this dish is my saving grace. I have added some variations.I prefer to buy chunk light tuna in water; this seems to work best for me.

Tuna sauteed with anchovies, canned whole tomatoes, red onions served over pasta or rice original recipe
Tuna sauteed with olive oil, capers, green onions, fresh tomatoes served over rice
Grilled tuna melt with cheddar cheese
Tuna with sun-dried tomatoes, onions, Mrs. Dash, paprika, capers served over pasta
The classic: tuna salad sandwich


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Spring Fling with Pineapple Upside Down Cake

The warmer weather brings forth the sweet and juicy fruits that we love so much. Pineapples, being one of them, was a feast to my eyes at Whole Foods with the beautiful display of pineapples they feautured. Being Jamaican, I always reminisce about eating juicy pineapples as a kid. My memories and the beautiful display sparked my cooking enthusiasm. I first thought I would make pineapple juice with pears and mangoes but instead went with pineapple upside down cake that I have never eaten before, and I have always wanted to try it. I go to my trusted friend in cookbooks,  Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything and a recipe for pineapple upside down cake is right before my eyes. The recipe was really easy to follow and I was scared about scrambling the eggs with the melted butter but a tip (via foodnetwork) is to temper the ingredients so this won't happen. I combined the dry with wet ingredients, placed the pineapple in the buttered and sugared cast iron pan then gingerly layered the cake mixture on top of the pineapples. I excitedly put the cake in the oven and waited impatiently for an hour for it to finish. It looked beautifully brown when done but when transferring to the plate, the cast iron was so heavy, a piece of the cake came off. I recovered the cake and then thought to myself scars give us character even in the food world.

What is your favorite summer or spring fruit?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Build a better man(or sandwich)

Is there a perfect man out there for us single ladies. Maybe, one would answer, but while enjoying life and searching for Mr. Right, making a delicious sandwich is a great alternative to the sometimes futile search for love. This sandwich starts with lovingly frying an egg and then sauteeing some cooked chorizo sausage. Then cut two slices of your favorite artisan bread. Place the egg on top with the chorizo sausage and two slices of avocado to cool the spice of the chorizo. Have you built a better man? Certainly not, but the perfect sandwich for yourself, yes!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chorizo sausage love

I absolutely love Niman ranch chorizo sausage, and yams are so good no matter what time of year.
I was thinking of this dinner for a couple of days before I made it.  Today was the day, I came home and started cooking. The funny thing is, the sound of the knife slicing through the yam and the sizzling of the chorizo calmed me down. For a no fuss dessert, some chocolate chips to take advantage of being single and cooking.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Delicious and quick: grilled chicken and cheese sandwich

After work hunger means a mad rush  to the kitchen and a quick gameplan of what to eat for dinner. My grill pan is the saving grace for this night. I seasoned  some chicken breasts with salt, pepper, worshtershire sauce, paprika and Mrs. Dash. Olive oil to prevent sticking on the grill pan is a must. I left this in the refrigerator overnight so my after work hunger would not lead to a cereal quick fix. I grill the chicken and add cheese for extra flavor. Brussel sprouts sauteed in rendered bacon fat as a side experimentation tastes delicious. Now the inevitable clean up awaits.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A little something sweet

Sunday night and my sweet tooth is taking control.  I haven't been grocery shopping this weekend so I have to get resourceful and use what's in my refrigerator.  I have chocolate chips and day old bread. Bread pudding comes to tame my love affair with sweet. I search the dessert section of How to Cook Everything and a recipe is at hand. Thirty minutes later and my chocolate bread pudding tastes good but needs a little more sugar. I ate the whole thing and I have  satisfied my sweet tooth.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Breakfast of a not so champion

Ahh, the weekend we crave for is the perfect opportunity for cooking a breakfast of champions. I have used Saturday as somewhat of a ritual to make the breakfast of champions. An advantageous start to the day with sleeping in a couple of hours, then waking up to a clean kitchen  ready to be voraciously taken over by a hungry woman. The eternal question, what should I make for breakfast? I decide on a fried egg but need a little something more to fill my appetitte, left over sauteed swiss chard seems like a great combination with the egg. I lovingly fry the egg until the yolk is almost firm then heat the remaining swiss chard. A Le Creuset yellow ramekin bought on a budget is the perfecting nesting place for this meal. The traditional part of myself makes steaming mint tea to accompany my meal in ramekin.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Singles don't cook- another fabulous and single cooking lady proves otherwise.

Toni is a great, funny, smart friend of mine since college who lives in Anderson, South Carolina. We recently had a conversation about what's its like to be single and cook at home. She gives us all the details along with the advantages and disadvantages.  She also gives some great tips about making portion sizes more feasible.

Do you enjoy cooking at home for yourself? 

Yes, I cook most of time and I eat out twice a month with the exception of lunch. I prefer to cook at home because I can have what I want and I am a picky eater. Budget wise, having a meal at home is half the price of eating out.

What do you cook at home?

I usually cook seafood, shrimp, pasta and pork chops or roast pork.

What is your go to meal?

Toni:  I'll make a semi-jambalaya with potatoes or rice and browned sausages, shrimp and corn. It's also a one pot meal which saves me time and clean up.

Shanimarie: mmm, sounds good, I think I'll have to try that. I usually have four pots on the stove and then when its time to clean up, its like oh no.

Shanimarie: Tell me about any desserts you make.

Toni: I don't make dessert so much but sometimes I'll make a cake or frozen Pillsbury cookies.

Shanimarie: I love sweets. I'll make cake, cookies, pies and everything imaginable.

Shanimarie: What are some of the challenges of being single and cooking at home?

Toni: Its definitely hard to make one serving.  I portion my meats for every time I cook with the exception of produce. I'll buy a pack of chicken then divide the chicken into individual portions.

Shanimarie: That's a great idea. I would have never thought of that!

Shanimarie: Do you entertain?

Toni: Occasionally with family. My mom and I cook for  family birthdays.

Shanimarie: Do you cook special meals for  yourself?

Toni: I'll have lobster and crabs once a month. Sometimes turkey or ham. On the weekends, I'll have my rice and vegetables always.

Shanimarie: Wow, Toni, that is special. What do you do with tons of left over food?

Toni: My brother and coworkers are my testers for new recipes or I'll try and make the left over food into a different meal. Gravy, I do throw out. I 'll make a whole meal like a roast chicken with rice then ask my mom to make the gravy, no matter how much my mom has shown me, it just doesn't come out right.

Shanimarie:  I know what you mean. No matter how much I try to make Jamaican fried dumplings or if my dad shows me, it just never comes out right.

Toni: I must say though that even if I'm eating alone, the presentation of my food is really important. I'll f ix my plate with place mat and a nice glass and really make a meal out of it.

Shanimarie: That's good Toni,  I should do this more often. It's the little things that count after all.

Well, Thank you Toni. It was a pleasure; I learned so much about you even though we have known each other for a long time. You'll have to send me a picture of one of your meals.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Romance of Cooking for one

Valentines day, the day of lovers is once again upon us.  Amidst the sea of flowers, candle lit restaurants and sentimental televison commercials; where does the single person fit in?  I have tackled this question for the past couple years and the answer is found in the romance of cooking for one. Cooking for one can be danced eloquently like the waltz or fiery and spicy like the tango. I prefer the eloquent dance of the waltz. My menu is carefully selected because this is a special meal for one. An herb roasted cornish hen baked in the oven with cherry balsamic vinegar sauce and baked sweet potato mashed with a dab of butter and a tablespoon of heavy cream. Dessert, the ultimate indulgence for one, is a baked apple with a maple pecan sauce. So, rest your weary hearts single cooking readers, make a dinner where you savor every mouthful.  A well wishing of lovers past is the celebratory end to your meal.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

What makes the jerk in jerk chicken?

Picture originally uploaded by Guus
 Miss Ena’s house was the place to be. She was the matriarch of our community; an old lady who could cook like nobody’s business. My twin brother and I were main stays at her house for this reason and because we felt safe. She held me in her arms when I cried and fed me when I was hungry. I remember sitting on her verandah and her talking to me, like I was an adult, always listening to hear the next word that I was going to say. She made me feel special. Even when cooking her jerk chicken I knew she was listening to me. She got the coals ready by putting them on the fire in a steel bottom drum and lighting them with a match so they could turn white. When I smelled that smell, I knew she was cooking my favorite, jerk chicken. She always seasoned the meat the night before to let the chicken soak up all that seasoning filled with flavor. She would then take the chicken out the container and put it on the fire; the smell would intoxicate me. It was like waiting for Christmas, except the jerk chicken was the present and Miss Ena was Santa Claus. My twin brother and I would then gorge it down while burning hot, it was soooo good! Using our mouth as the fork to tear the tender pieces apart, this was my heaven on earth.

What are your fondest childhood memories in food?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Supermarkets for singles who cook

Grocery shopping is a daunting task, most supermarkets are family oriented and do not consider the single person who cooks. This has proven to be one of my biggest challenges with cooking and on my grocery bill. Food is expensive. The portions are geared toward a family of at least four. For example, I was craving hamburgers for dinner so I got a medium sized packaged of ground beef. I made three meals out of this one package. I made hamburgers with caramelized onions, chili and meatloaf.  I had lunch for days. The meals were delicious of course. My meatloaf needs some work but my point is these portions are just too big for the single cook.
I also went to the farmers' market with the intention of supporting locally grown food and all its supposed benefits. The scallions looked really fresh and green but the bunch was just going to be way more than I really needed, so I asked the attendant if I could reduce the amount because I'm just cooking for myself and he said no! I was shocked, aren't farmers' markets supposed to be geared towards the customer more so than supermarket chains? Apparently not, in this case.
Supermarkets for single cooks, revolutionary? no, idealist? yes, great idea that benefits everyone, absolutely!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Book Review

I went to go visit one of my best friends last summer and she had the book How to Make Everything by Mark Bittman. I was instantly fascinated and skimmed to see what recipes were inside. I put it back on her shelf but I could not stop thinking about this book. I went to amazon and put it on my wish list. It was there for a year until I got the extra money to pay for it. I purchased it about a month ago and I absolutely love it. You can learn so much from this book about cooking. I thought cooking was and is a regional pastime but he covers the gauntlet. The possibilities are endless and it is inspiring to try everything! I must remember to pace myself though.

What cookbook inspires you?

P.S. Ackee the national fruit of Jamaica is missing.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mmmmm Muffins

Today was a snow day for Irvington Public Schools and I enjoyed it by making some blueberry muffins. I love Au Bon Pain's blueberry muffins and I would love to know what is their secret ingredient. My muffins taste pretty good but it seems like I'm missing something. I will probably eat one or two and put the rest in the freezer. If you're single and love to bake. What do you do with your extra sweets?

I should save some for my kids, they'll eat it up.

Always experiment!