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About

NYC Nom Nom is a blog about food. Restaurants and recipes... from the good, to the bad, to the un-nommable. Recently, I joined Weight Watchers. But I refuse to give up my love for food. Join me on my journey of recipes and restaurants (whether you're dieting or not).

I am very fortunate in that I get to try many of the best restaurants in NYC. I also am realizing that I love to cook and have been expanding my culinary skills with my boyfriend, Mike. So what better way to chart my path through the world of food than with a blog?

I would not consider myself a foodie, as that moniker carries with it some level of expertise, of which I have none. I just really love food and am very lucky to have both access to good restaurants and a really great kitchen (by New York City standards anyway).

If you want to reach me, you can email me at sara@nycnomnom.com or if you have more questions, visit the NYCNomNom FAQs

So without further ado, enjoy nomming.


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27 July 09

New Jersey Comfort

I grew up in New Jersey and, even through all the teasing, I am still quite proud to have grown up in a place where I was neither sheltered nor thrown into the streets, surrounded by mountains, and 45 minutes from NYC, Philly, and the Beach.  NJ gets a bum rap, but I’m happy it’s where I’m from.

Every time I go back to visit my parents, food becomes a big deal (whether home cooked or a night out).  The destination of choice near my father’s is a great, reliable, friendly place called The Stirling Hotel.  It has been around for over 100 years and has that “lived in,” comfortable feeling.  I think the main picture on their homepage defines it well:

The place itself has a tented outdoor space (heated in winter) and a cute outdoor bar served from within a small barn-like area.  Inside it’s a bit cramped, with an entry hallway where everyone has to turn sideways to allow people to pass from the outdoors/kitchen/hostesses/waitresses/etc but it works out.  They have a lot of old furniture inside with antique stoves and solid wood chairs in a tavern-like atmosphere.  The inside bar could also use a bit more room, but the selection is always one of my favorite parts.  They have unique beers on tap and I can trace many great discoveries to their bartenders recommendation.  I know I had my first Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale there, opening up my eyes to the glory of pumpkin beer (though nothing beats Smuttynose on draft).

I have probably been to The Stirling Hotel at least two dozen times over the years.  It used to be the place we stopped for dinner when I lived in NJ after volunteering at The Raptor Trust (a wild bird rehab center where I volunteered with my dad, who is still there, for about 8 years).  Now it’s the place we go to pretty much every time we go home, especially if my younger sister is with me.  It’s become our family’s go to place.

My dad is such a regular there that he knows the owner, Tom, personally.  We usually have different servers, however, they’re always nice and have a good friendly feel.  Our waiter this time around was Anthony, and he had such a fun personality that I’ll give him a special shout out here.  He spoke in about 4 languages (terribly yet hysterically) and managed to dance his way through the service.  I don’t think a few locals quite knew what to do with him, but he kept us laughing.  He even mugged for a picture with a rooster.

Now onto the food!  Well.. first the beer.  I ordered an Ayinger Weissbier.  It was so good that I wrote it down.  I love my white beers, but this one was extra special.  Lots of honey and overall deliciousness.

Now the Specials menu at The Stirling Hotel was something I always went for, and they used to have an almost daily special of these artichokes that were to. die. for.  I could eat them for my meal ever day of the week.  Unfortunately, they have been missing from the menu each time I’ve been there recently.

So, alas, with no artichokes, we ordered mozzarella sticks for the app.  They were fine, but nothing special.  Not too greasy though, so that made me happy. (I’m not a huge fan, so maybe I’m not a good judge?) 

After spending the day moving my boyfriend, Mike, from his place in Brooklyn into my apartment, and storing stuff at my father’s place in NJ, I was craving some classic home-style Noms for my entree.  I went with the classic half mac and cheese (comes with garlic bread, perfect for sopping up the cheese) and an order of sweet potato fries (always VERY good there).  I usually like a mac and cheese with a little less liquid, the cheesy garlic bread made it up to me.

Dad went with a half rack of ribs (that’s a half!) and I was delighted to find out that they were tasty without being spicy.  The portion seemed good for him and we all commented that it was a tasty sauce.

Mike went with (shocker) the burger.  It is a good burger, and I don’t think this one disappointed.  Interesting that lettuce and tomato is served a-la-carte, but it worked well.  (Besides, three of us ate for the price of two in typical NYC prices, including beverages).

I actually don’t think I’ve had dessert there before, but this tiring day called for some sweets.  Mike and I split an enormous brownie sundae.  The brownie was warm (Nom Nom Nom) and it had just the right balance of brownie to whipped cream to ice cream. 

Dad ordered the peanut butter bliss pie and it was deliciously peanut buttery, and if I’m going to eat chocolate ice cream, this is the kind I want it to be.

As a dessert lover, however, my one recommendation would be to up the ante on the chocolate syrup.  A little Ghiradelli goes a LONG way.

Overall, the food here is reliably good in a great atmosphere with great beer. Beyond that, it’s comfortable.  I look forward to going here every time I’m home.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

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14 June 09

"Healthier" Mac and Cheese and Chicken Piccata

I absolutely love Macaroni and Cheese, however, I know that for the sake of my waistline I cannot eat it every day.  I am always on the look-out for a healthier version, so when I found a recipe for what claimed to be healthier and included butternut squash, I thought “why not?”

The first thing I noticed is that there was far too much liquid for the macaroni, so we poured in some of the cheesy/butternut squash mix to fill up the macaroni mixture and then decided to convert the rest to soup.  I added a bit more milk, rosemary, and mushrooms and cooked it down to the right texture.  I then added a swirl of this AMAZING basil olive oil I bought to the top.  The soup was incredible.

The macaroni and cheese was good, but the texture wasn’t amazing (though not as bad as I thought it would be) and the taste just wasn’t enough.  I’m also not sure how much healthier it could have been, but I guess it’s better than using a ton of heavy cream.

To pair with it, we also made a variation on chicken piccata that was quite tasty.

All were very easy to cook and there was a whole lot of food for just the two of us.  I’m sure it would make a good family meal.

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"Healthier" Mac and Cheese
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 23 min
8 servings

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen pureed winter squash
  • 2 cups 1 percent lowfat milk
  • 4 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 2 ounces Monterrey jack cheese, grated (about 2/3 cup) - we went with Gruyere instead
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon powdered mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper - We eliminated this due to my allergy, which may be why it was a bit bland
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until tender but firm, about 5 to 8 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, place the frozen squash and milk into a large saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up the squash with a spoon until it is defrosted. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the mixture is almost simmering, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the Cheddar, jack cheese, ricotta cheese, salt, mustard and cayenne pepper. Pour cheese mixture over the macaroni and stir to combine. Transfer the macaroni and cheese to the baking dish.

Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and oil in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, then broil for 3 minutes so the top is crisp and nicely browned

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Chicken Picatta

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 - 2 pounds thinly pounded chicken breast
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 6 TB unsalted butter
  • 2 TB finely chopped shallots
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice - we eliminated this and it was still fine
  • 2 TB freshly chopped parsley leaves -also omitted with no noticable problem

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F
  2. Cut chicken breast crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces
  3. Season both sides of the meat with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour.  Shake off excess flour and set aside.
  4. In large saute pan over medium to medium to high heat, heat olive oil and 4 TB of butter.  Once hot, but not yet smoking, brown chicken quickly (about 1 minute on each side) and remove to an ovenproof platter.  Place in oven to keep warm. (We used a plate and a microwave… it worked)
  5. Reduce heat to low and add shallots to the pan.  Saute for 1-2 minutes or until they begin to turn translucent.
  6. Add wine and lemon juice to pan and simmer until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes.
  7. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and whisk to combine.
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste if necessary
  9. Pour sauce over chicken, sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately
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23 March 09

Simple Pleasures

Sometimes I just want feel-good food.  On Wednesday, that consisted of Gruyere Macaroni and Cheese.  Mike added yummy chicken dumplings to the mix from Trader Joes, poured a bottle of wine, and we had ourselves a carb loaded feast!

The Mac and Chee was pretty good, but it was missing the bite I wanted from the gruyere.  Perhaps next time I’ll eliminate the cheddar altogether and just go hog wild with the gruyere.

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Gruyere Macaroni and Cheese (thank you to Ina Gardner at Food Network)

Ingredients 

  • Kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
  • 1 quart milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces Gruyere, grated (4 cups)
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (4 small) - We went sans tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed) - We used regular bread crumbs from the store

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it.
  4. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk.
  5. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth.
  6. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.
  7. Optional: Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top.
  8. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top.
  9. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.
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All artwork and photos copyright of Sara Axelrod unless otherwise stated. Originally themed by Hunson and Josh

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