Noodle Soup for the Sunday Soul

Ah Sunday - the day of rest. A day completely dedicated to rejuvenating one's body and soul. Sure, you can work out. Go for a run. Meditate. Read the bible. Or you can find some inner warmth with a bowl of noodle soup. We're not talking bland, boring chicken soup. Packaged soup won't do either. I'm talking about a hearty bowl of spicy, salty, savory, steaming, sleep inducing soup. Say that three times fast.

Over the past few weeks, I have dedicated much time and caloric intake to finding that perfect bowl of soup. Drum roll please...

The Winner: Ippudo
"Ramen is Japan's Comfort Food" says their website. No argument here. For 13 bucks I got my chi back in order with a bowl of their Akamaru Modern - a traditional tonkotsu soup of fragrant berkshire pork, cabbage, onions, kikurage (a type of mushroom I learned) topped with scallions. It's served in what looks like thirds, measured out by three different sauces floating in one bowl: garlic oil, miso paste and their own 'special sauce'. Who doesn't love special sauce? Cool your mouth off with their cucumber salad, a fresh, albeit salty cold appetizer. If you're feeling gluttonous, treat yourself to their kakuni, braised pork belly that will melt in your mouth and slide down directly to your hips.
    Hot: The waitstaff and chefs cheer enthusiastically upon entering the dining room, wiping away any remnants of your low self-esteem Sunday. However if Saturday night left you with a raging headache, you may want to get your noodles to go. The cheers continue all night at what seems like one minute intervals. Complimentary hot tea post meal helps settle the stomach.
    Cold: Ever popular amongst NYU students, there was a sufficient wait for a table. Curb your hunger at their Ramen noodle decorated bar (you'll just have to see if for yourself to understand) - an icy cold Japanese beer and a steamed pork roll from their bar menu will help ease the wait.

Runner-up: Noodle Bar falls in second because I find their broth bland. Excluding the wonderfully spicy/sweet Singapore Noodles, their broths call for a three-pronged attack with their alla cart sauce tray - holding Srircha, soy sauce and a house made chili oil. I find myself giving each bite a pour. It does allow you to control your salt intake as well as the heat, which some might find accommodating. Their lunch specials are also worth mentioning, where for $7.95 you get your choice of soup/salad and two spring rolls alongside your entree.
    Hot: Their cold sesame-peanut noodles are tops. A must try.
    Cold: The decor- minimal, but not in that 'oh, but it looks clean' way.

Honorable Mention: Sammy's Noodle Shop Again I found their broth to be bland and their noodles too dense, but their wok noodles hit home with some of my compadres - the lo mein being the show stopper here.

Write the Heat and tell us about your favorite noodle shop. Afterall - Sunday is only a week away.

- The Heat


The Heat's Hottest Thanksgiving Recipes

The past month, anyone who has read a magazine, watched a cooking show, perused a food blog or picked up the newspaper has been littered with recipe ideas for their Thanksgiving meal. To say it is overwhelming is an enormous understatement, leaving most people to stick to what they know and prepare the same old same old. It's just EASIER. Until now.
I took the time to comb through some of the more popular media sources and then narrowed down my favorites of the year. Click on an item to see the link and full recipe to each. Try them all or try just one - but have fun with Thanksgiving this year by introducing something new.

Appetizers: I like to keep most appetizers light and low maintenance, allowing me to focus on the main act. The pecans and olives can be made ahead of time. The manchego looks fancy with a quick sauce. My one 'wow' appetizer is the oysters which are served with cucumber and pickled shallot relish - bright and tangy.
  Rosemary Pecans 
  Marinated Olives with Rosemary, Red Chili, Orange and Paprika
  Manchego with Honey Brown Butter Sauce
  Oysters Danish Style

The Main Act: The past few years my family has brined our turkey, which we feel adds a depth of flavor and more importantly, moist meat, as the salt draws in and retains water. I like Emeril's citrusy brine, followed by Giada's simple preparation.
  Giada's Turkey with Herbes de Provence and Citrus
  The Brine
Salads: Say goodbye to boring lettuce on this special day.
  Apple, Radish and Celery Salad
  Brussels Sprouts with Pecans and Cranberries
Condiments: Our family has outgrown canned cranberry, while herbed butter adds a little something extra. Two easy updates.
  Cranberry-Orange Sauce
  Herb butter (make extra for both the turkey and popovers)
Sides: I am sick of boring spuds. I like my mashed skins on with a hint of garlic and sweet potatoes get a touch of heat from chipotle, cooled off with a squirt of lime. Creamed onions get the boot and a health upgrade alla balsamic glaze. And finally, lets have some adult legumes. We don't need cream or casseroles to get them down the hatch - lighten up with minted peas or brown butter sugar snap peas decorated with pecans (I'll be throwing whatever is leftover from the rosemary pecan appetizer on top - so easy!)
  Chipotle Glazed Sweet Potatoes
  Garlic Red Bliss Mashed Potatoes
  Balsamic Glazed Pearl Onions
  Green Peas with Mint
  Brown Butter Sugar Snap Peas with Pecans
Stuffing/Dressing: I recently learned that stuffing is when it's IN the bird. Dressing cooked outside. Who knew?
  Sage, Sausage and Apple Dressing
  Toasted Chestnut Stuffing
Bread bowl: I know Pilsbury wants us to think that it's not Thanksgiving without crescent rolls, but I beg to differ -
  Parmesean popovers served with leftover herbed butter from turkey preparation
Desserts: I tend to save dessert for the following morning. Pumpkin pie and a cup of coffee? Yes please. So a mug of mulled hot apple cider is the perfect prelude to my tryptophan induced nap.
  Pumpkin Pie with Graham Cracker Crust
  Gingery Apple Crumb Pie
  Hot Mulled Apple Cider

Happy Thanksgiving!

- The Heat


Little Giant's Big Brunch

Saturday morning brunch - what better way to relish the travails of your Friday night than over a bloody mary and a pile of eggs. A full belly, a nip with a side of casual conversation and next thing you know, you're back. Ready to rejoin the human race. Ready for Saturday night. An attitude adjustment in an hour and a half.  Magical.

I've found my happy place at Little Giant, an oxymoron meant to play on the big flavors served at this tiny corner storefront in the Lower East Side. The interior is homey, it's shelves covered with an array of kitchen wares, an exposed brick ceiling and a large wraparound bench that is littered with comfy pillows. It is the antithesis of a see and be seen brunch, where a side of anxiety is served with your cup of coffee. The menu is filled with market inspired, seasonal options like a duck confit BLT (bland) or the baked french toast served in a heart stopping brick with caramelized bananas and banana gelato.

I prefer their take on traditional breakfast items, such as lox and eggs served on a biali with a shmear, with pickled onions, capers and a salted tomato. Or their Trucker's Breakfast, a spin on an English breakfast, where scrambled eggs are served with broiled cremini mushrooms, a slab of bacon, and andouille sausage, topped with a tomato gravy on Texas toast. A side of molasses baked beans rounds out the mayhem. Most notable however, is their cheesy egg on a roll. The name suggests nothing spectacular, however they managed to perfect the basics of this traditional hangover cure. Eggs are softly scrambled and cheesy. Bacon is apple-wood smoked and crispy. Their roll is perfection - a fluffy, buttery Parker House roll has forever separated me from my usual Kaiser. Give it your all with a spicy bloody mary and a cup of their Stumptown Coffee - it's time for Saturday night.

- The Heat

Little Giant
85 Orchard Street (at Broome) (map)


The Quick and Dirty: Quartino

Sure, most of us want to eat organic all the time - I don't exactly enjoy ingesting pesticides. But to be honest - it's expensive and can be a real pain in the ass. In walks Quartino, a chic Italian restaurant in the Bowery, with an all organic menu. Hearty whole wheat pizzas, pastas and an array of fresh fish make it easy to walk out feeling good about yourself. As does the organic wine list.

Hot: The back garden is perfect on a warm night.

Cold: The complimentary wholewheat bread sticks almost broke my tooth off. Stale.

Must Try: Fresh homemade fettuccine with avocado and tomatoes. Shaved raw artichokes with lemon juice and parmesan reggiano. Pay attention to their daily specials for fresh, seasonal options.

Pre or post dinner drinks can be directed to Von, a few doors East of Quartino.

11 Bleeker Street
New York, NY 10012-2402
(212) 529-5133


Stir Fry Your Way Back to Health

A dear friend of mine is going through his semi-annual life overhaul - revamping his eating, drinking, sleeping and exercising habits in an attempt to undo the damage of the past 6mos. We've all been there, but few of us actually execute our plan longer than a weekend. Not this guy. Four months later, he's a completely new person - healthy, well rested and ready to get after it again. We all know NYC can do some serious damage to one's body and soul - who needs New Years Eve to start afresh?

He asked me to send him a healthy stir fry recipe to start him on his path - here are two of my favorites.

Teriyaki Pork and Mango Stir-Fry: (found in Rachel Ray Mag - dont judge)
Serves 4

1lb boneless pork chops pounded thin
1/2 cup flour
2tsp salt
1/4 vegetable oil
1 small head cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 one-inch piece of fresh ginger, finely copped (store remaining root in freezer to keep)
3 tbsp teriyaki sauce
2 mangoes, cut into matchsticks
2 cups bean sprouts

1. Slice thin chops into 1/4 inch thick strips. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the flour and salt; add meat and toss to coat.
2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 3tbpn of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Shake off any excess flour from the meat and arrange in a single layer in the skillet. Cook until browned and crisp on one side, about 3min; turn and cook, stirring until browned all over, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
3. Add the remaining 1tbsp of oil and the cabbage to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage begins to brown, 2 to 3min. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring for about 30 seconds. Stir in the teriyaki sauce, then toss with the pork and mangoes. Top with bean sprouts.

Serve with steamed brown rice.

Szechuan Chicken Stir-Fry: (adapted from Canyon Ranch's Cookbook)
Serves four (390 calories, 10gm. fat)

1/4 cup low-sodium tamari (soy) sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tsp sambal or Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon fresh ginger minced
1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil

4 skinless chicken breast halves, diced
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon water
1/2 teaspoon canola oil
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 red bell pepper, cleaned, seeded and diced
2 cups snow peas
1 cup diced jicama
2 cups shredded cabbage
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 tablespoon fresh basil

1) In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients for marinade and mix well. Divide in half.
2) Place half of marinade in a ziplock bag, add chicken and marinate for at least 2hrs
3) Combine cornstarch with 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl and add remaining marinade. Mix well.
4) Preheat wok or large skillet. Add marinated chicken and stir-fry for 2-3minutes until cooked through.   Remove from wok and reserve. Discard used marinade.
5) Add canola oil to wok. Add chili flakes and ginger and cook briefly. Add bell pepper, snow peas, and jicama. Stir-fry until color brightens and vegetables are tender crisp, about 1-2 minutes. Add cabbage and chicken. Stir-fry until cabbage wilts. Pour marinade/cornstarch mixture around edges of wok and stir-fry briefly to coat vegetables. Remove from heat and serve over brown rice. Garnish with basil.

To your health!

The Heat


Living Out My Fantasy at the Highlands

If you aren't familiar with the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, much of what I'm about to say is going to fly right over your head. More importantly though, you are missing out on one of the best love stories of all time. Taking place in 18th century Scotland, the main character Claire Beauchamp gets swept off her feet by a Highland warrior named Jamie Fraser. Think Mel Gibson in Braveheart...with a fire bush.It's the type of love story that women would travel to Scotland to find - but hold off on that flight ladies, b/c the Highlands just came to the West Village.

The barkeeps have such thick brogues, I giggled and nodded like a schoolgirl at everything they said. They could have been telling me I have a booger in my nose and I would have smiled and nodded an emphatic 'yes!'.  But I promise you there is more to the allure of the Highlands than the prospect of shagging a Scottish bartender.

To start, you won't be cramped - with a huge wrap-around bar and a separate room for waitress service, it's big enough to keep everyone cool and spaced out, but doesn't lose any of the intimacy you look for in a West Village bar. The decor is like my ideal livingroom - exposed brick, comfy couches, great lighting, mounted buck heads - put your feet up and stay awhile. Cuddle up with a bowl of their curried squash soup, topped with creme fraiche and served with a hearty, health-grain roll. Wash it down with a fresh and tangy raspberry-Thai-basil whiskey sour - a popular choice in my crowd. As for me - well, I stuck with something a tad simpler and much easier to communicate - a crisp glass of Sauvignon Blanc served with a side of school girl giggles.

The Heat

The Highlands
150 W. 10th St
New York, NY

Read them now, thank me later


Say You're Sorry with Scallops: Seared Scallops with Pumpkin Soup

I scored this recipe from a former colleague who clipped it out of Men's Health to cook his wife an "I'm Sorry Dinner". The story is that he came home plastered and fell on her while he was taking his pants off, not only crushing/waking her, but simultaneously unplugging their alarm clock, causing his wife to be three hours late to work. But all was well and good by the weekend with the help of this delightful dish - which every guy in the office now has a copy of...in case of emergency.

Seared Scallops With Pumpkin Soup

Recipe makes 2 servings

25 min
10 min prep

12 ounces fresh sea scallops
1 (15 ounce) can unflavored pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons roughly chopped hazelnuts, toasted
8-10 chopped chives
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Combine pumpkin, honey, butter, and broth in a medium saucepan and heat on low until completely warmed. Season with salt and pepper; keep warm.

2. Preheat a cast iron skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat.

3. Pat scallops dry with a paper towel and season them with salt and pepper.

4. Add the oil to the pan, then scallops.

5. Cook scallops 2-3 minutes per side or until they are firm, brown, and carmelized.

6. Pour soup into a wide-rimmed bowl.

7. Add scallops, hazelnuts, and chives.

8. Serve with a side of foot massage.

Good luck!

- The Heat


The Quick and Dirty: Alta

 A romantic tapas bar in the West Village. Set in an open, bi-level townhouse on w.10th street, Alta's fireplace and stoned walls, create a cozy, South American inspired atmosphere.The food, while not traditional Spanish, is fun and inventive. Fried goat cheese with lavender infused honey. Crispy brussels sprouts with fuji apples, creme fraiche and pistachios. Grilled gulf shrimp and chorizo skewers with avocado creme, warm garlic and sherry vinaigrette. Good luck narrowing down your order.

Best to go with a handful of friends and make your way through their extensive menu at one of their long, rustic tables, perfect for groups.

Hot: The bar - generous in size, but still cozy, it's where tapas are meant to be munched.

Cold: The Mexican music they blasted throughout the restaurant - and no, it was NOT salsa.

Must Try: Recommended by our waitress, the best dish of the night was the Spaghetti Pepperoncini. Back the truck up - spaghetti at a tapas place? Crazy, I know. And especially since I only recognized roughly half of the ingredients in the dish (bottarga di muggine, dried bonito, shrimp oil, pepper cress?) - but the waitress wins this one. It was a hit.

64 W 10th St
New York, NY 10011-8702
(212) 505-7777

- The Heat