Chakra Launches $39 NJ Harvest Summer Menu

Chakra Launches $39 NJ Harvest Summer Menu

Chakra is offering a three-course prix fixe menu for $39 Tuesday – Saturday until Labor Day.

Appetizer

Choice of:

  • Heirloom Tomato Salad Bruschetta, basil, toasted Italian country bread
  • NJ Corn Soup house-cured salmon, pickled jersey chanterelles, lavender
  • Thick-Cut Bacon, compressed watermelon, jalapeños, honey glace

Entree

Choice of:

  • Brioche Crusted Salmon, salmon pea mousse, jersey corn, chanterelles, lavender
  • Grilled Hanger Steak, arugula, grilled peaches, fried goat cheese
  • Maltagliata Pasta, spicy boar sausage, caramelized fennel, broccoli rabe, pecorino

Dessert

Choice of:

  • Crispy Waffle, jersey corn ice cream, jersey blueberry compote
  • Watermelon Mojito, rum ice cream, mint sorbet, compressed watermelon

For reservations, call 201.556.1530

Chakra Restaurant – W144 Route 4 East, Paramus, NJ 07652.

Cheers,

Veronique

Brooklyn Brewery Kiwi’s Playhouse

Brooklyn Brewery Kiwi’s Playhouse

We’ve had this tasty sour by Brooklyn Brewery before and it’s just great. Kettle sour aged in a mix of oak barrels and red wine barrels with fresh kiwis.

It’s a sour without being so tart it’s overwhelming on the palate. Nice tropical fruit flavor on a strong ale. Brooklyn Brewery makes this in a limited amount, so will likely be tought to find.

Perfect at a summer barbecue or served as an aperitif with some finger foods.

Brewed by: Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY

Style: Sour / Wild Ale

Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 7.5%

Color in the Glass: Medium yellow

Format(s): 750ml bottles

Ideal Glass: Snifter, Tulip, Tumbler

Cheers,

Veronique

Easy Shrimp and Grits

Easy Shrimp and Grits

I returned from being on the road for work for nearly a week and the first thing I did when I got home was to get in the kitchen to fix myself some lunch! I miss my kitchen when I’m away (yeah, I know, rough life eating at top restaurants and getting room service) – eating out gets old fast!

Today when I got back from Boston (such a great food town by the way), I made myself a comforting bowl of grits topped with spicy sautéed shrimps. Such yumminess and comfort in a bowl.

I used my Easy Cheesy White Grits recipe and topped that deliciousness with buttery, spicy sauteed shrimps – fabulous!

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 4 bacon strips, finely chopped OR ¼ cup finely diced pancetta
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 2 Tbsp. hot sauce, I used Frank’s Red Hot
  • 12 large shrimps, peeled and deveined, tails removed
  • Easy Cheesy White Grits recipe

Directions:

  1. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter.
  2. Add the bacon or pancetta to the butter and sauté for 3-4 minutes, until just browned.
  3. Add the garlic to the bacon and cook for a minute, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the hot sauce to the buttery mixture and stir to combine all the ingredients.
  5. Add the shrimps and sauté until cooked, about 2 minutes per side.
  6. Divide the grits between two bowls and top with the shrimps and the sauce.

Makes two servings.

Berries & Ricotta by Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas

Berries & Ricotta by Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas

July is National Blueberry Month and Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas will feature specialty cocktails and dishes starring the little blue beauties as their juicy flavor come into full seasonal swing.

This summery dish will be served at the popular restaurant throughout the summer.

Berries & Ricotta

Makes 6

Ingredients:

Whipped Ricotta:

  • 16 oz of Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
  • 8 oz of Whipped Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup of Confectionary Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp of Honey
  • 1 Tbsp of Simple Syrup
  • 1 tsp of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp of Orange Zest

To Plate:

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Honey
  • Mint (for garnish)

Preparation:
Blend ricotta, cream cheese and remaining ingredients in food processor until smooth. Transfer to bowl. Cover bowl and refrigerate until set, about 2 – 3 Hours. Divide whipped ricotta mixture among six wine glasses or coupe glasses.  Top with fruit and drizzle with honey.  Garnish with mint. 

Enjoy!

Veronique

Revival Brewing Company Pinky Swear

Revival Brewing Company Pinky Swear

We lunched at Brutopia in Cranston, RI on the way to Providence because we knew it pours Revival Brewing Company beers. Our favorite of the lineup was the Pinky Swear sour.

Pinky Swear is a Berliner Weisse-style beer with big sour and tangy flavors. It’s made using 300 pounds of blueberries and raspberries.

Brewed by: Revival Brewing Company, Providence, RI

Style: Berliner Weissbier

Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 3.7%

International Bitterness Units (IBU): 12

Color in the Glass: Bright dark pink with very little head (at least on tap).

Format(s): Tallboy cans, on-tap

Ideal Glass: Goblet or Chalice

Cheers,

Veronique

Crunchy Peanut & Chocolate Chip Pepper Cookies

Crunchy Peanut & Chocolate Chip Pepper Cookies

My friend Diane is a great baker so when she posted this yummy-looking photo of a batch of cookies she made, I knew I had to share it with you.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • ¾ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for pressing
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup natural, unsweetened peanut butter, stirred well
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup roasted, unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • ¾ cup miniature chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Coat two cookies sheets with cooking spray or line them with parchment paper.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, cayenne and baking soda.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar for 2 minutes. Add the peanut butter, egg and vanilla to the creamed mixture and mix until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the peanuts and chocolate chips.
  5. Scoop the dough into 2-tablespoon balls and place on the prepared sheets at least 2 inches apart. Using a fork dipped in sugar, gently press a crisscross pattern in the top of each cookie, flattening it out to a 2-inch circle.
  6. Bake until the cookies are light golden brown around the edges, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through the baking process. Allow the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheets, then move them to baking racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the freezer for 1 month.

Yields 24 cookies.

Adapted from this recipe.

Tasting Notes – Scarpetta Frico Frizzante

Tasting Notes – Scarpetta Frico Frizzante

I was in Providence, RI for the holiday weekend and was served this fun bubbly at Slow Rhode. I admit I’m always a bit suspicious of wine served in vessels other than bottles, but this was nice. No metallic after taste, good bubbles, light, and refreshing. Think Prosecco but a little lighter on the amount of bubbles.

Looks: Palest of yellow in the glass with tiny bubbles.

Smell: Apple aromas with faint floral notes.

Taste: Apple flavors with a dry, crisp finish.

Texture and Finish: Crazy nice minerality and acidity with a medium finish.

I had this bubbly from Italy as an aperitif but enjoyed it so much that I paired a second can with roasted sunchokes and pan seared squid. I just ordered four, six-packs to take to the beach with us!

Pairings: Fried chicken, grilled fish, seafood.

Style: Sparkling Wine

Grape Type(s): Trebbiano, Glera, Chardonnay

Region: Mendocino, Monterrey, and El Dorado Counties, California, USA

Price: $3.99 for a 187 ml (6-ounce) can

Short Cut Creamy Lobster Bisque

Short Cut Creamy Lobster Bisque

Giant Lobster Claw

Last weekend, I hosted my annual Lobsterfest where I boiled ten 2 – 2 ½ pound lobsters for my party of nine. Not being one to run out of food at parties (the Canadian in me), I bought and extra lobster….just in case. Needless to say, with all the sides and appetizers, the extra lobster went uneaten. There were even two leftover claws!

I try to keep things somewhat low-carbs during the week, so I opted to make lobster bisque with some of the leftovers. I call this recipe “short cut” as someone who shall remain nameless threw out all the shells before I could make a stock, so clam juice was used instead of the long-to-make stock I typically use. If, unlike me, you don’t have 3 pounds of leftover cooked lobster to use up, just buy cooked lobster tails from the store.  

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • ½ large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cups lobster stock or clam juice
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. corn starch combined with ¼ cup cold water (this is called a slurry)
  • 1 ½ pounds cooked lobster meat, chopped in bite-size pieces

My Lobster Boil

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onions and cook for 4 minutes, until softened and pale golden, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  4. Add the wine, Worcestershire, thyme, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the tomato paste and lobster stock (or clam juice) and simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Using an immersion blender (could use a regular blender also), purée the soup until smooth.
  7. Add the cream and butter, stir then bring the soup to a low simmer over medium-high heat (don’t allow to boil).
  8. Add the slurry and stir until the soup has thickened slightly, about 2 minutes.
  9. Add the lobster meat and simmer for another 5 minutes over medium-low heat.

Serves four generously.

Cheers,

Veronique

 

Inspired by this recipe.

Tasting Notes Tuesday – Butcher & Bee Charleston

Tasting Notes Tuesday – Butcher & Bee Charleston

Whipped Feta

Butcher & Bee, which was a sandwich shop for five years prior to opening as a full-service restaurant in its current North Morrison Drive location, is the brainchild of Michael Shemtov. Chef Chelsey Conrad conjures up Israeli-inspired food using seasonal products, sourced locally.

The Drinks and Food

The cocktails menu is limited but each concoction sounded incredible, making it difficult to make a selection. I kicked off the evening with a Strawberry Bourbon Smash – Virgil Kaine high rye bourbon, strawberry, lemon and mint. There are several local beers and wines-by-the-glass. During my meal, I sipped on Thevenet & Fils Chardonnay, a white Burgundy with pear flavors and great acidity and Castellroig Cava Rosat, Trepat, NV, a crisp sparkling rosé with light strawberry flavors. Wine bottles are conveniently clustered by price – $30, $50 and $90.

The ever-changing menu at Butcher & Bee is comprised of mezzes (sharable plates), starters and larger plates. I sampled several dishes and wish I’d been with a group as the menu screams to be shared. The mezzes are served as three for $15, six for $30 or all for $60 (serves two).

I had the Lamb Tartare served with smoked labneh, olive lemon relish and crispy sunchoke; the Whipped Feta with fermented honey, cracked black pepper and pita; the Broccoli & Cheese with grilled Halloumi, anchovy butter, chile and lemon. The lamb tartare was some of the best I’ve had with lightly-gamey flavors combined with great texture from the crispy sunchoke and bright tang from the olive and lemon relish – a must-order. My only criticism is that the sunchoke “chips” are a bit flimsy for the tartare and another vessel could be served to make scooping easier. The whipped Feta was lovely with its light funk paired with sweet local honey on great, charred pita. The broccoli salad was a fun take on the popular soup with big bites of lightly salty, grilled Halloumi cheese and earthy anchovy butter – great dish. I ended my meal with a take on shortcake with a lemon-scented cake served with mini meringues and local strawberries.

 

On a future visit, I’ll order the Kebab Platter with choices or shrimp, lamb, beef, chicken or vegetable and served with Israeli salad, freekeh, tahini and pita – the giant platters that were prepared right in front of me looked outstanding.

In a town full of outstanding restaurants, Butcher & Bee manages to set itself apart with big Israeli-centric flavors created from pristine locally-sourced ingredients.

1085 Morrison Drive, Charleston, SC 29403. (843) 619-0202. Butcher & Bee accepts a limited number of reservations for dinner and is walk-in only for breakfast, lunch and brunch.

Cheers,

Veronique

Brunch at Sunday in Brooklyn

Brunch at Sunday in Brooklyn

Champagne Problems

Sunday in Brooklyn is a neighborhood restaurant offering breakfast, brunch and dinner daily. The popular restaurant is the brainchild of New York City restaurant veterans Todd Enany, Adam Landsman and Chef Jaime Young (formerly of Michelin-star restaurant Atera in Manhattan).

About the Space & Service

The three-story restaurant offers a rooftop garden, a sidewalk café and an open-air market during the warmer months. Diners can grab coffee with a pastry or breakfast sandwich from the take-out window or the market counter. There’s also an inviting solid-plank walnut bar for evening wine or specialty seasonal cocktails. Any day or time, customers are treated to a warm, inviting dining experience.  

I sat in the cozy café with an open view of the busy kitchen. The wait staff is professional, helpful and welcoming. We felt very well taken care of throughout brunch, even though it was busy with a long line waiting on the sidewalk. The restaurant is mostly first come, first serve but it does take a limited number of reservations. For weekend brunch, Sunday in Brooklyn is exclusively on a walk-in basis with the exception of seatings between 10am-10:30am, when I visited, with a reservation. For weekend brunch, wait time varies from 20-60 minutes for parties of two and 30-70 minutes for parties of four. 

About the Food & Drinks

I started with a fun cocktail packing in big beet flavors, which I love, the Champagne Problems. This refreshing drink is comprised of bubbly, beets, grapefruit aperitif and mint. With my meal, I enjoyed a glass of pink bubbly – Cabernet Franc Horses by Macari from the North Fork of Long Island.

My brunch partner and I shared the Charred Avocado Toast, one of the best renditions of this popular dish I’ve had. The nicely grilled bread is topped with charred avocado, wheatgrass, preserved tomatoes, pickled onion and sprouts. We opted for a poached egg to gild the lily. Great texture contrasts and the pickled onion is a smart way to cut through the richness of the creamy avocado and the runny egg yolk.

I know I was supposed to order the now-famous Malted Pancakes with their gooey hazelnut maple praline and brown butter but I was, for some reason, feeling somewhat healthy on the day I visited so I opted for the Grain Bowl with toasted barley, spicy vegetables, kale, egg, avocado, sambal that I ordered with smoked salmon (an add on item). I’m a fan of most multi-item bowls and this was by far the best I’ve had. Earthy barley with spicy punch from the vegetables then perfectly-dressed kale and smoked salmon – a must-order dish that packed many interesting flavors. My guest ordered the Biscuits & Gravy that was topped by poached eggs, breakfast sausage gravy and hot sauce. The portion was sizable and featured big comforting flavors.  

Chef Young and his team do brunch very well and I’m looking forward to visiting again, next time, for dinner. Roasted pig, lamb tongue, chicken liver mousse with house mustard anyone?

Sunday in Brooklyn – 348 Wythe Avenue Brooklyn , NY 11211.

Cheers,

Veronique