#1 Nobu has closed. Well, maybe not quite so, because they are moving to a new home in the Financial District, but Nobu we all knew of, the venue at the corner of Franklin and Hudson, the restaurant that defined the neighborhood, that Nobu is gone, and an entire era went away with it. (Stay tuned for additional thoughts on the subject.)
#2 I cooked a nine-course (9, yes you got that right) tasting menu dinner in support of Miss Pain's school. I can't tell you more because: i) the night remains enveloped in a spectacular blur and vapors of happiness that steamed out of my kitchen, ii) I forgot to take photos!!! (No, I cannot believe it either. All I have left are two stained menus and it was probably the best dinner I ever made.)
#2a On the upside, I have finally found the most perfect spinach ricotta ravioli filling. (OK there is quite a bit of Swiss chard in it, but it starts with spinach.) It's really about Marcela Hazan's recipe and tiny pinches of extra stuff that went in it that made this filling shine. And I know, I know, volumes have been written about spinach ravioli, but this filling is such a perfection that I could not resist dumping another data point into already crowded culinary cyberspace to illuminate the topic. (I also have a new ravioli-maker. God bless the culinary genius who came up with it. Please, check out the picture. Other than the stuffing inside, the perfection you see has nothing to do with me or my hands -- it's the ravioli maker, friends, it's the ravioli maker.)
#3 "Mighty Salads", a new cookbook by Food52, came out on April 11. It's a compilation of popular community recipes, and Food52 community is a creative one, so it's a salad cookbook worth having. (And yes, someone you know contributed Petits Pois à la Française Redux on the cover, brag, brag, brag.)
#4 A major discovery in the muffin department: If you take your favorite berry muffin recipe and triple the amount of berries, you'll end up with a miracle -- a muffin pretending to be a cobbler. Or as my friends Ryan and Adam (aka Husbands That Cook) described it, a muffler! Miss Pain has been eating fruits, fruits, and nothing but fruits without realizing it.
#5 And now comes the downpour. A new cookbook by Prestel is out too. "Beyond the Plate: Top Food Blogs from Around the World" has been on the bookshelves for about two weeks now, yet I am still trying to come to terms with the realization that this blog, this very blog, happens to be one of the blogs featured in it. The book includes recipes, photos, stories, and words of wisdom (my favorite) from some of the food blogging rockstars who inspire us all. And QueenSashy happens to be a part of the gang!!! (Pinch, pinch, pinch. Brag, brag, brag.) But wait, there is more. The introduction to Three Little Halves is the most glorious piece of writing I've ever seen dedicated to an author of a food blog, and I simply cannot let it go. It made me want to run to Prestel offices and hug their folks on the spot. (Last night I met Daniela Galarza, the senior editor at Eater, who actually wrote it, and I DID hug her on the spot. Three times.) Every two days or so, I open up the book and read that intro, and close my eyes, and an overwhelming sensation of feeling good consumes me, in a seventh heaven kind of way.
#5a As always, we celebrated with a martini. In the process of preparing a martini that fits the occassion, I discovered some sensational vodka infusions. (More on that soon.)
#6 Last but not the least. I bet Dr. V twenty bucks that Eleven Madison Park will top The World's 50 Best Restaurants list and I won!!! Given how much Dr. V hates to lose, this one is truly precious. It feels almost as good as Prestel's introduction. Speaking of which... Prestel has kindly offered to send a copy of "Beyond the Plate" to one of my readers, and that means --- it's giveaway time, folks!!! To enter, just leave a comment on this blog post and I will select the lucky winner at random. The giveaway is open until Wednesday, April 27, 11:59 pm EST. Good luck!
One Fine Spinach, Swiss Chard and Ricotta Ravioli Filling
* 5 oz baby spinach
* 1 bunch (about 1 lb) Swiss chard
* 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
* 1 tiny garlic clove, crushed
* 1 1/4 cup fresh whole milk ricotta
* 4 oz grated Parmigiano
* 1 tbsp butter
* 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
* one egg yolk
* 1/8 - 1/4 tsp nutmeg (or up to taste)
* a pinch of smoked paprika
* a pinch of crushed red peppercorns
* salt and freshly ground pepper
Remove stalks from Swiss chard. Fill up a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Season generously with salt. Add the chard and cook for a couple of minutes until tender. With a slotted spoon remove the chard from the pot and add spinach. Cook for less than a minute, until tender. Add the spinach to the chard. Drain. As soon as the greens are cool enough to handle, squeeze them gently to drive out as much moisture as possible. Chop the greens finely.
In a small saute pan mix the olive oil, butter, shallots and garlic. Place the pan over medium heat. Cook until the shallots are very soft and garlic is fragrant. Keep the heat relatively low, and stir occasionally, so that shallots do not burn. Remove from the heat and let cool.
In a bowl, mix the greens, shallots, ricotta, Parmigiano, egg yolk, and 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg. Add close to invisible pinches of smoked paprika, pepper and crushed red peppercorns. Taste the filling, and add a bit more spices if you desire. Remember, you should not taste the paprika and peppercorns, just a hint of something exciting but not quite identifiable. Use as a filling for ravioli, or your favorite filled pasta.