Sunday, March 29, 2015

Restaurant Review: 15 East

This was an amazing meal for me, not only because the food was delicious, but this was the first time I was able to take my parents out for a nice dinner and let my mom experience something she had not experienced before. Over the years, my parents have provided me so many opportunities and given me so many memorable experiences, it was nice for once to be able to show them how much I appreciate them.

Now put your "aww" away and start your saliva glands. If you go, definitely sit at the sushi bar (which I'm finding true for any sushi omakase you have). Sushi is meant to be eaten right after the chef makes it, so you want to be as close in proximity to the chef as possible (without being restraining order close...). I kept noting that we wanted to sit in front of Chef Masa - which I hear is key and it definitely was for our experience. He answered all of my mom's questions and gave us lots of information about what he was serving us (like whether or not it was at the beginning or end of its season and where it came from). Too bad I don't remember it there are a lot of pictures to follow (not the entire meal, but most of it). Overall, this was a great experience and I would highly recommend it!

15 East
15 E 15th Street
New York City, NY
(212) 647-0015

Which leg would you like?
Given the ultimate spa treatment (massaged) then boiled. Tender and flavorful! A must order!
As Mom calls it: Omasake!
Sashimi from Dad's Chef's Tasting Menu
Uni Flight: Santa Barbara, Hokkaido, and Maine! Also, a must have for uni lovers!
Hokkaido - Mom's favorite
Mom:  "The head is the best part!"
Crab Chawan Mushi
Slow Poached Oyster - apparently it was unfair Dad got one in his appetizer and we didn't
Fresh wasabi (of course!)

Mom: "I've never eaten sushi with my hands before!"

If you know my father - this is amazing. He usually doesn't eat raw fish.
The start of the "Tuna Flight" - leanest...
to Chu-Toro...
to O-toro! Fatty goodness

Great scallion/ginger combo on top of this one
Tiger prawn - better cooked than raw. Very sweet.
Spotted shrimp sashimi - head was still moving when I ate it!
I learned that the shrimp sashimi aged a couple days makes it even sweeter

I don't remember what this was, just that it was a from a small fish

Uni time again? Yes please!
Santa Barbara....followed by...
Eel that just melts in your mouth (not in your hand...)
Tomago. Per dad, egg is always good.
Uni and abalone risotto. Creamy and flavorful.
Cold soba noodles with ikura and uni.
Mineoka - aka sakura mochi with a milk sesame pudding in a kurasato syrup. I don't like dessert, but I finished that after a big meal.
Chef Masa - YOU ROCK.
I had a ton of fun with my family and very much enjoyed my meal.

As a last fun fact - half way through my meal, someone walks in and says hi to Chef Masa. The voice is very recognizable...both my Dad and I look at each other and whisper "It's Raymond Reddington!!!" James Spader apparently visits 15 East regularly. So you never know who you may see!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Recipe: What the 'Nduja?

I'm standing in line at Murray's Cheese Shop (this is something that happens often) and the guy in front of me says "Let me get a half pound of that 'Nduja (pronounced: nooja)". Of course I want in on this "nooja" so I order a 1/4 lb myself with zero idea of what I just ordered.

I look at the guy behind the counter, and I ask "What did I just order and what am I going to do with it?" I'm told to use it like chorizo (the crumbly kind, not the kind you serve with cheese).

So I finally go home and look up 'Nduja, which is described as a "spicy, spreadable pork sausage from Italy", or as I like to think of it, the chorizo of Italy.

So what's a girl supposed to do with the 'Nduja she acquired? What she always does: make tacos. Breakfast tacos to be exact.

Teenage 'Njuda Breakfast Tacos!
What the 'Njuda Breakfast Tacos
Makes about 6 tacos total.


  • Salsa (tomatoes, red onion, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, lime, and salt)
  • Cucumber
  • ¼ lb. of 'Njuda
  • 4 eggs (pull out a couple of the yolks if you're watching your cholesterol)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 onion (I like spanish, but whatever is lying around is fine)
  • 6 corn tortillas (not flour, because flour is gummy)
  • Extra cilantro and onions
  • Shredded cheese (optional, but not really if you live in my household)
Prepare your salsa (or open a jar). Slice cucumbers into rounds. Dice bell pepper and onion. Throw 'Nduja into a hot pan and break it up with your spatula. I like to sop up some of the oil as it starts to cook, but that's just me. Once the meat is browned, add the bell pepper and onion and saute until both are tender (onions should be translucent). Scramble and add your eggs and cook until just cooked (overcooked eggs are not good, so don't dry them out!). I don't usually add salt since the 'Nduja is salty enough for me, but feel free to season to taste. Toast your tortillas on a cast iron or open flame and assemble! Now eat breakfast like a boss!

'Nduja power!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Recipe: Not Mémé Rita's Pork Pie (Tourtière)

If you want to start a debate at dinner in the Gagnon household, bring up pork pie. Everyone has a differing opinion on how it should taste and whose is the best. My father-in-law will remind everyone his mother's was so good that the local supermarket used to commission her to make them. Unfortunately, I never got to try Joe's mémé's (French for grandmother) pork pie so I'll never be able to say if it was the best.

Rumor has it that one of Joe's Aunts has Mémé Rita's recipe, but rumor also has it that Mémé Rita was a bit funny at times and would leave out key ingredients or steps when giving out a recipe, so we'll never know if she has the actual recipe.

After having two different versions of it during Christmas, I was tempted to give it a try, but never got around to it. One weekend afternoon I was flipping through America's Test Kitchen's "The Best of 2015" magazine and what recipe do I see? Tourtière! It was fate. I had to try my hand at it.

So here we go, I'm entering dangerous waters here. I'd like to present my version of pork pie, adapted from the ATK recipe. I know it won't be the same as Mémé Rita's, but I'm hoping that maybe (just maybe!) I've made her proud here, and she's chuckling that the Chinese girl her grandson married made an acceptable pork pie.
Tourtière Recipe (Makes 4 Mini Pies)

  • ½ t baking soda
  • 1 T water
  • 1 lb. pork
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 onion diced finely
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 t minced fresh thyme
  • 1 t minced fresh sage
  • 1 t minced fresh rosemary
  • ½ t ground allspice
  • ½ t ground cinnamon
  • ¼ t fresh ground nutmeg
  • ¼ t ground cloves
  • 1 ½ C chicken broth
  • 1 medium sized potato (~6 oz) peeled and grated (using largest setting on box grater)
  • 2/3 C shortening / lard
  • 2 C all purpose flour
  • 5-6 T ice cold water

Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt and the baking soda into the water and mix. Massage it into the pork and let the pork rest for 20-25 minutes.

I'm all about that mis-en-place.

In a pot, melt butter and sauté onions until caramelized. Then add garlic, herbs, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook until fragrant. 

Add chicken broth and potato making sure to scrape up brown bits on bottom of the pan. 
Let cook and stir frequently until potatoes have softened and sauce is thick enough for you to leave a trail when you drag your spoon across the bottom of the pan.

Add the pork and break it up into the mixture. Cook until pork is no longer pink. Let mixture cool (until completely cooled) in the fridge, uncovered. Stir from time to time.

To make the crust, combine shortening and flour with a fork until it's crumbly and the shortening is in pea-sized clumps.

Add ice water 1 T at a time until it seems like it will come together and form into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. Once everything is cool and the dough is rested, it's time to assemble.

Before you start assembling, preheat your oven to 450°F. Roll out the crust - you'll need 8 discs total (4 tops, 4 bottoms). Press crust into the pan and then fill with cooled filling. Place another disc on top, using an egg wash (1 egg yolk + 1 T water beaten together) to seal the edges.

Cut a couple slits on the top and place into a 450°F oven for 15 minutes. Turn it down to 375°F and then let it go for another 20 minutes.

Let pie cool for 2 hrs (or more) and then reheat gently. Pie is meant to be served warm, but not hot.

A tribute to Joe's mémé and a great way to celebrate Pi day.