Six Years and a Weekend in NYC

This weekend Eric and I celebrated our 6 year wedding anniversary! I can hardly believe it. In some ways it feels like our wedding was yesterday and in others it feels as if we’ve always been married, like I can’t remember a time when we weren’t married, but we’ve made it 6 whole years and I can honestly say they’ve been the best of my life. Have they been easy? Definitely not. But we’ve had some amazing times, been to some incredible places and shared meaningful memories.

I still love looking at our wedding photos! They never get old, although we seem to have…we look so young here! I can’t wait to see what the next 6 years bring.

To celebrate our anniversary, since it was on a Saturday, we decided to take a trip to NYC for a night. We love New York City, in fact we got engaged there and used to go there often while we dated and were first married, but over the last few years, our trips became more infrequent and then non-existent. We were looking forward to going back to a city we truly enjoy.

This trip of course was centered mostly around food, like all good trips, right?! We got the chance to eat at some great places including Balthazar, Brasserie Les Halles (made famous by Chef Anthony Bourdain) and Pastis. You may notice that all of these are French brasseries or bistros, that wasn’t on purpose but just sort of happened. I didn’t complain! We also hit up this amazing brunch place called Peels; roasted tomato eggs benedict, need  I say more? Yum, even thinking about it right now makes me want to go back. Here’s the pastry selection at Peels:

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Some of our other highlights were shopping in Soho and visiting the Museum of Natural History, neither of us had ever been there before. Here’s one of our favorite exhibits, from Easter Island:

Although it was pretty crowded, we enjoyed walking through the museum and seeing the exhibits. Plus, if you’ve watched the movie Night at the Museum then it’s even cooler.

Saturday, we made the trip to Chelsea Market, a place I’ve wanted to go for a long time (Food Network studios is in the top of the building). All the food there was incredible but the most amazing was the fish market. You could find anything and everything possible at this fish market, take a look at some of the things we found:

Yes, those signs say baby octopus, sea urchin and squid!

There was a big line for some of these crustaceans! Don’t they look delicious bright red and steamed up? The fish market was like the aquarium, except you could eat everything! Maybe not appropriate for small children…

We had a blast in NYC, it was nice to get away for a night and we decided at the last minute to take the train which made the whole trip so nice and easy. We can go right from Lancaster to Penn Station, NYC and it only takes about 2.5 hours. It is more expensive than driving but the time and headache you save from driving are so worth it, especially if you’re only going for one night.

So that’s our anniversary weekend in a nutshell, what were you guys up to? Any fun weekend trips?

Not you mother’s beef stroganoff

I grew up eating beef stroganoff a few times a year and always enjoyed it. The beef flavor along with mushrooms and sour cream, over pasta, sign me up! I recall even requesting it as a birthday meal once. It’s safe to say that I really do love the stuff. I think I grew up eating a very traditional and basic recipe for it which consisted of cooking the floured beef cubes, allowing them to simmer with the mushrooms and finally mixing in the sour cream right before it was time to eat. The first year I was married, I called up my mother, wrote down her recipe and proudly made my very first beef stroganoff.

Eric was less than impressed. Picture the wind in my sails going down, fast. He was not as into the eggs noodles covered in sour cream sauce as I had been. I mean, I still thought it tasted delicious, but I could tell he was forcing it down. Since then, I’ve enjoyed my childhood beef stroganoff only once or twice; I just can’t watch Eric try and eat it so I stopped making it, until last year.

While paging through an issue of Bon Appetit, I came across a new version of beef stroganoff in which I could leave out the egg noodles and instead serve it over toasted bread. It also used sherry and shallots, two things my old beef stroganoff was without. I made the recipe and quickly won back Eric’s heart. Admittedly, it was better than the stuff I grew up with and has become our beef stroganoff staple recipe.

The recipe itself is not complicated, but it does have a few steps, especially when it comes to assembling the final dish.

Start by prepping the ingredients and then cooking the mushrooms. Melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Saute the mushrooms until they release their liquid, about 6 minutes.**Try to get a mushroom medley or more than one kind of mushrooms, like white and cremini. The varieties add great flavor.**

Add the sherry or vermouth and simmer the mushrooms until the liquid reduces, about 1 minute. Take off heat and stir in creme fresh or heavy cream, season with salt and pepper. Let sit while you cook the beef.

In a separate skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Cook the beef for about 30 seconds on each side to sear it.

Transfer beef to a plate and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the sliced shallots to the skillet and cook until brown, about 4 minutes.

Stir in flour and tomato paste and stir around, it will clump. Add in broth and paprika.

Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the beef cubes back into the sauce and remove from heat.

Stir in sour cream.

While the sauce is cooking, toast the sourdough slices. Mix together olive oil and tomato paste and spread on one side of the bread slice.

Toast about a minute per side under the broiler, on a large baking sheet.

To assemble, spoon some of the beef mixture onto the toast.

Top with a scoop of the mushroom mixture.

This dish is so good and I love the use of tomato paste on the toast, it adds such a great flavor to the dish. If you like mushrooms, you will love this recipe!

Here is the recipe from Epicurious.com:

Tri-Tip Beef Stroganoff with Wild Mushrooms on Sourdough Toasts
Print
Author: Bon Appetit
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 55 mins
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound assorted fresh wild mushrooms (such as chanterelle, oyster, crimini, and stemmed shiitake), cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup dry white vermouth or dry Sherry
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche or heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1 1/2-pound tri-tip roast, excess fat trimmed, meat cut against grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices, slices cut crosswise into 3-inch lengths
  • 1 cup thinly sliced shallots (about 4 large)
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon plus 2 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 6 5 x 3 x 1/2-inch slices crusty sourdough bread
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
Instructions
  1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add sliced wild mushrooms to skillet; sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and pepper and sauté until mushrooms release juices, about 6 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; sauté until mushrooms are tender and brown, about 4 minutes longer. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Remove from heat. Let stand at room temperature.
  2. Add vermouth to mushrooms and boil until almost evaporated but still moist, scraping up browned bits, about 1 minute. Stir in crème fraîche; remove from heat. Season to taste with coarse kosher salt and pepper. Cover; set aside.
  3. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in another large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add beef slices to skillet and sauté just until brown outside but still pink in center, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer beef slices to plate; sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Add sliced shallots to same skillet, reduce heat to medium, and sauté until golden brown and tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in flour and 1 teaspoon tomato paste (mixture will clump). Add broth and paprika and whisk to blend, scraping up browned bits. Simmer until sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Season sauce to taste with coarse kosher salt and pepper. Remove from heat; cover and keep warm.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Whisk remaining 3 tablespoons oil and 2 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste in small bowl to blend. Arrange bread slices in single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Brush oil-tomato paste mixture lightly over both sides of bread slices. Broil bread just until lightly toasted, watching closely to avoid burning, about 1 minute per side. Arrange sourdough toasts on large platter.
  5. Add beef slices and any accumulated juices to shallot mixture in skillet; bring to simmer, stirring occasionally, then stir in sour cream. Remove from heat. Season to taste with coarse salt and pepper. Rewarm mushroom mixture over medium heat.
  6. Divide beef mixture among toasts, then top each with mushroom mixture. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

 

Top 10 Kitchen Must-Haves

This is a small guest blog I wrote for a local Lancaster, Pa DJ company, ProVolve Entertainment. These guys have been building their business a lot in the past year and asked me to put together a a top 10 list or kitchen items to register for, for engaged couples. Here’s the first look at the post I did for them, perhaps there are a few engaged people reading Red Velvet that could use this advice to!

RED VELVET Top 10 Kitchen Must-Haves

I remember when we registered for our wedding gifts. I mean, not only are you psyched to be getting married, planning a wedding, in love and sporty a sparkly new engagement ring but you get to choose things for other people to buy you! JACK POT! This is single-handedly the best thing about getting married, the worst may be when certain friends or relatives choose to purchase a gift “off the list” (especially if you can’t figure out where to return it). But let’s not think about that scenario, lets concentrate on all the wonderful things you want, actually all the wonderful thing you truly need.

Here is the Red Velvet Blog approved list of the Top 10 registry items for your kitchen.

1. Stainless Steel Pots and Pans set – Everyone needs a good basic set of pots. I recommend going with All Clad, they consistently get great reviews for even heating and life of the pot. Register for a 10-14 piece set and you’ll have these pots for life. They are an investment but don’t get sweet talked into a fancy non-stick coatings; you really only need non-stick on one frying pan for eggs and such.

2. Non-stick Fry pan- As stated above, you need one non-stick frying pan. Register for a large one so you can cook all sorts of things in it; eggs, pancakes, crepes are all great for this pan.

 

 

 

 

Seasoned Cast Iron3. Cast Iron Fry Pan w/ Lid – This fry pan is great because it holds head very well and you can move it from the stove top to the oven easily. This pan will also last a lifetime!

 

 

 

 

 

4. Dutch Oven – This pot is essential to cooking. You will use it for spaghetti sauce, soup, braising, chili and so much more. Plus it goes from stove top to oven easily.

 

 

 

 

 

5. Bakeware Set – Everyone needs the basic baking pan sizes and a cup cake pan. You want to be able to bake birthday cakes and cookies anytime you want!

 

 

 

 

 

6. KitchenAid Mixer – If you enjoy baking at all, register for this baby. It will change your life, seriously. Plus they have so many cute colors that one will certainly match your kitchen!

 

 

 

 

 

7. Knives – Every kitchen/cook needs a nice set of knives. You can spend the mint on a set of knives if you want, but I recommend going middle of the road. You want something that has steel through than handle and whose handle is made of wood. You want the set to include a chef’s knife (the really big one), a santoku knife, a pairing knife, a serrated bread knife, kitchen shears and a steel for sharpening. Get a block that has unfilled holes so you can add to you knife collection later, when you see what knives you really use.

 

 

 

8. Gadgets – Don’t forget the little things. Be sure to put that ice cream scoop, measuring spoons, garlic press, can opener, turkey baster, spatula and whatever other kitchen gadgets you may want. Along with dish towels, people love to buy you a whole basket filled with these fun and inexpensive, yet necessary gadgets.

 

 

 

 

 9. Cutting Boards – If you’re going to be using your knives, you’ll need proper cutting boards to protect your counters. I like the sets of color coded plastic boards. These prevent cross contamination that can occur when cutting meal and vegetables at the same time. Red is for red meat, white is for poultry, blue is for fish and green is for veggies!

 

 

 

10. Cookbooks – No one starts out in their marriage being an amazing cook, well except trained chefs…register for a few of your favorite cookbooks so you can have some recipes ready to try as soon as you get home from the honeymoon. Guests also enjoy buying you cookbooks, they’re a good price point and they can write a nice congrats in the inside cover, so put a few on the list!

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget to consider the guys at ProVolve Entertainment if you’re in need of a DJ for any type of event, they come with my personal recommendation (and nope, they didn’t pay me anything to say that!).