Winter Warmth Recipe

Food, Homemade, New York, Recipe, Vietnamese

Hello friends and foodies!

We’re sorry that we haven’t been providing you with epic meal-based battles for December. Our very own Snax is currently going through senior year finals season, so I’m sure everyone out there can understand how stupidly busy/stressed/masochistic he’s feeling right now.

In lieu of a battle, I wanted to share with everyone an awesome recipe for Vietnamese curry that I made yesterday. It turned out even better than I expected, so I’m very excited for everyone to try it at home and tell me what you think.

This recipe is vegan, packed full of veggies, and you can easily buy organic/non-GMO ingredients for the ultimate healthy indulgence.

*note* All portions are suggestions. I’m a firm believer that measurements do not matter in cooking, so add as much or as little of each ingredient as you like. Substitute at will – all that matters is that you enjoy!

curryedit

Vietnamese-Style Curry

Ingredients:
  • One medium onion, diced
  • Two bell peppers of whatever color you prefer, diced
  • Half of a globe eggplant, cubed
  • Two carrots, sliced
  • One long hot pepper, sliced
  • One lb. silken tofu, cubed
  • Four cloves garlic, minced
  • One inch ginger root, minced
  • Two stalks of lemongrass, cut into one inch pieces
  • One can coconut milk
  • One can vegetable broth
  • One or two cans water – depending on preference
  • Two sweet potatoes, cubed (can substitute regular potatoes)
  • Half pound green beans, cut into one inch pieces
  • A handful of snap peas
  • Salt and pepper
  • Curry powder, red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper
  • Sriracha (or favorite hot sauce)
  • Hoisin (or fish or oyster sauce)
  • Warning: I like my food spicy! Adapt my seasonings to your particular palette.
Directions:

Sauté chopped onion, eggplant, bell peppers, carrots and hot pepper in sesame oil. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the vegetables start to get soft. Add in tofu, minced ginger root, garlic, lemongrass and seasonings. Cook for about 4 minutes, or until the curry becomes fragrant.

Add in the vegetable broth, coconut milk and water. Taste and add in Sriracha and hoisin at your discretion until you’re satisfied with the taste. Bring to a boil.

Once boiling, add in the cubed sweet potatoes and cook until tender, about 15 minutes (for normal potatoes, about 30-40 minutes). When there is about 8 minutes left of cooking time, add in green beans. At 3 minutes left, stir in snap peas.

Serve with brown or sticky rice on the side and enjoy!


That’s it! This recipe is really so easy – the hard part is chopping everything up. It’s well worth the effort, though. My roommates loved it (and I did, too).

I also appreciate how adaptable this recipe is. Take out whatever ingredients you don’t like and substitute in your favorites like mushroom or zucchini. It could easily be made with meat (just add in at an earlier point than the tofu as tofu doesn’t need to cook) or use less liquid to make less of a soup. Whatever you want, make it happen.

Another benefit is that this recipe yields a million bowls. So despite the high amount of ingredients, you’ll be able to eat it for at least 3 days, even if sharing with one or two other people.

This was the perfect dinner on a cold December night. I hope you find it as comforting as I did.

-Legs

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A Polish Seafood Extravaganza

Cuisine, Food, New Jersey, Polish

The Battleground

Abigail’s Cafe, Linden, New Jersey


The Contenders

Grilled Tuna Salad vs. Red Snapper with Sweet Corn Sauce

Sesame-encrusted tuna cooked medium rare. Side salad of mango, tomatoes, avocado and mixed greens. It's better than it looks.

Sesame-encrusted tuna cooked medium rare. Side salad of mango, tomato, avocado and mixed greens. Incredibly, it’s even better than it looks.

Legs:

This was advertised as a grilled tuna salad special. You can imagine my surprise and glee when the salad turned out to be a side salad with a huge piece of perfectly cooked tuna as the star. Look at that beautiful bright pink. Go on, look at it.

The tuna was encrusted in a game-changing sesame ginger crust. A classic combination, yes, but throwing it on the grill and infusing in with that lovely smokey flavor elevated this commonplace protein to a new standard of glory. Umami and smoke abounded and it was a thing of beauty.

The “salad” was really just a mixture of awesome things:

  • 1 entire avocado
  • A whole ton of mango
  • Mixed greens
  • Really, really, really good tomatoes
  • A sweet and savory vinaigrette

Grape tomatoes are not my favorite. They’re not even close to my favorite, and Snax downright hates them. By the end of the meal, they were gone, and he had eaten at least half of them! Why? Because the vinaigrette was SO FREAKING GOOD that it soaked its way into this average veggie and turned its life around. I think it goes without saying that the fresh mango and avocado were sublime.

The flavors in this dish complemented each other so perfectly. Each and every component was light and could easily have been overwhelmed by its neighbor. Much to my delight, they performed a delicate dance and really enjoyed the marriage rather than one partner fighting for control. Ah, pure harmony.

My only complaint is that this dish was on special so I can’t eat it every day of my life.

Red Snacker

Pan seared red snapper served with sweet corn sauce, heirloom tomatoes, sauteéd spinach, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream mashed potatoes.

Snax:

I love Abigail’s. It’s a great place to grab a couple bottles of Żywiec with your pals or have a quiet evening with just you, your significant other, and a pitcher of one of their stupendous sangria flavors. It’s hard to go wrong at Abigail’s with atmosphere and drinks as equally impressive as the cuisine. But where there’s a will there’s a way.

My fascination with sauce has been well documented (see Bobby Van’s) so it should come as no surprise that I was excited to try sweet corn sauce.The sauce isn’t as unappealing to the eye as it is to the taste buds, but it was no ugly duckling turned swan princess. The only proof that I have of the sauce being sweet corn flavored is the physical presence of corn. No real sweetness to take note of. Mediocre at best.

You know the disaster movie cliché when nonessential personnel are directed off the premises? Those tomatoes would have been on the first plane to safety as the hero  stayed behind to save humanity. Just go home tomatoes.

The fish was prepared well enough but all I can remember is the taste of “sweet” corn sauce on everything. That snapper deserved a better end to its days than to be humiliated by corn. Life can be cruel.

Underneath the now humiliated snapper was a bed of sauteéd spinach. It had all of the nutritional value you would expect from spinach and was also green. Popeye would be proud. Then again he ate the stuff straight from the can so that’s not saying much.

Not a word about those mashed potatoes. Not. A. Word.


And the winner is… Legs!

✓Protein ✓Sauce ✓Sides/Veggies ✓Presentation

A clean sweep, but Snax really didn’t stand a chance. You can tell just from looking at the photos whose meal was superior. I’ve been dreaming about my “salad” ever since, and he’s been trying to forget that his snapper ever existed.

Don’t forget that we’re doing a new format from here on out. At the end of the month the half of the duo with fewer wins will be punished (on video). Right now Legs is in the lead and she hopes it stays that way!

September/October wins:

Legs: 1 Snax: 0

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Pierogies to Write Home About

Cuisine, Food, New Jersey, Polish

A trip to Abigail’s Cafe in Linden, New Jersey


The best pierogies in New Jersey, marching towards your mouth

The best potato and cheese pierogies in New Jersey, marching majestically towards your mouth.

These are not your Mrs. T’s. These are the best pierogies in New Jersey, bar none. Served with sautéed onions and sour cream for dipping, perfectly soft and tender, the pierogies at Abigail’s are little pockets of happiness. These amazing satchels of unadulterated marvel come in potato and cheese (our favorite), spinach and cheese, or for the very adventurous: blueberry! Available in both appetizer and entree size, you could conceivably have a meal of only dumpling goodness.

More often than not, your favorite culinary duo ends up at Abigail’s because of Legs’ insatiable craving for ‘rogies. We can always count on the rest of the meal being just as delectable as this show stealer. Pair it up with a huge pitcher of their amazing sangria and you’re good to go. We didn’t even mention their amazing bread. Comes hot with a dipping sauce of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and mixed herbs. Yummmmy!

An added bonus: the meal won’t break the bank!

Go to Abigail’s soon. Seriously, go.

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Royale Redux

Food, Greek, Recipe
We’re back from our brief hiatus with some exciting news! Dinner Royale will be rolling out a brand new format with seriously stomach turning delicacies awaiting the fallen foodie.
As we raise the bar we realize that we’re going to need more time to find truly heinous foods for your viewing pleasure. In order to keep up with our week-to-week schedule we’ll be splitting up our battles into 4 rounds. That means we’ll still be coming to you with new content every week! The only thing that’s changed is that we’ll be awarding a single point to whoever wins the most rounds by the end of the month instead of awarding a point every week.
As a reward for being patient with us, this week’s post is dedicated to a delicious recipe we just had to share. Thanks food fans!

Left: serving of turkey kokkinisto over zoodles with a healthy amount of grated parmesean. Right: sautéed broccoli, red onions, and peppers for two.

Left: serving of turkey kokkinisto over zoodles with a healthy amount of grated parmesean. Right: sautéed broccoli, red onions, and peppers for two.


Turkey Kokkinisto with Zoodles

Right off the bat you’re probably wondering what kokkinisto is. Allow me to elaborate. Kokkinisto is a Greek stew typically made with red meat in a tomato puree with cinnamon and cloves. Back in Greece we jut put it over pasta, but we’re in New Jersey so it’s not considered treason if I use zucchini noodles. I decided to break out this tasty recipe, with added ground turkey flair, for a dinner in Central Park to celebrate Legs’ birthday.

For the gentlemen reading this I suggest you take notes. Breaking out the pots and pans to make a delicious, healthy recipe for your special someone is much more impressive and heartfelt than a trip to Red Robin. Trust and believe.

Ingredients
  • 1⅓ lbs. of ground turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 dashes of cinnamon
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup (2, 8 oz. cans) of tomato sauce
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • 1 cup (2 cans worth) of water
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Directions

After you’ve prepped your entire arsenal, heat your olive oil in a large pot at medium high heat. Once you’ve got the oil heated, begin tearing up your hunk of turkey meat into the pot. Continue to break up the meat with a spatula in the pot and make sure to brown consistently.

Now go ahead and add the onion, parsley, and garlic. Keep sautéing until the onion bits become translucent. Smell that? That’s your first indication that this is going to be magnificent.

Time to toss in those chopped tomatoes. Let them cook for just a couple minutes to release that fine tomato juiciness.

Next, add the cloves and a few dashes of cinnamon. Stir to make sure you spread those spices around evenly. At this point you’ll be fighting every instinct telling you to devour the whole pot. The aroma will be intoxicating but you must resist!

Open up those two cans of tomato sauce and pour them in. DON’T THROW THEM OUT YET. Once you’ve done that, fill each can with water and add it to the pot. Now you’ve got the water you need plus residual sauce!

Give your beautiful concoction a taste if you haven’t already. Add salt and pepper at your own discretion. You’re smart. I trust you.

All that’s left to do is bring it to a boil, reduce it to a low heat, and cover it up. Simmer for about 2 and a half hours, stirring occasionally. The sauce should have a thick consistency when it’s all said and done.

Give yourself a pat on the back and dig in!

Want to make zoodles? Of course you do! I use the amazing Paderno Spiralizer from Williams-Sonoma for my zucchini noodle needs. Check out this video demonstrating this wonderful machine at work and enjoy a life full of zoodles!


A note from Legs:

In the jungle, the concrete jungle, the lions sing tonight!

In the jungle, the concrete jungle, the lions sing tonight!

 

Ladies, be prepared to have your ovaries turn green with jealousy because I’ve truly hit the jackpot. What Snax hasn’t mentioned is that this incredible homemade meal took hours to make and preceded a showing of The Lion King on Broadway.

When was the last time your man made healthy pasta from scratch and took you to the theater?

Happy birthday to me!

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Giving Back

American, Charity, Food, Polish, Russian, Water
This week we set aside our differences to help feed the homeless through Family Promise. We couldn’t resist an opportunity to give back when we were invited by family friends to take part in such a great cause. Legs has even taken her philanthropy one step further by beginning a charity: water campaign! Check out the menu and learn all about Legs’ mission!


Family Promise

Eastern European smorgasbord! Polish pierogies and an assortment of grilled goodies in a Russian marinade.

Eastern European smorgasbord! Polish pierogies and an assortment of grilled goodies in a Russian marinade.

 

We were proud to present our delicious bounty in the halls of the Presbyterian Church of New Providence. It was a bit of a challenge catering to the tastes of such a diverse group of people, but the menu received praise all around. First, potato and cheese pierogies, sautéed with onions of course. Only the worst kind of people dislike pierogies. Follow that up with some grilled pork marinated in adjika and mayonnaise overnight. That marinade did wonders for the pork by seeping into every nook and cranny, giving it a smooth, almost creamy heat. A cornucopia of grilled veggies: mushrooms, grape tomatoes, green bell peppers, and onions, smeared with the same marinade as the pork tied it all together.

 

Back to the states for Uncle Sam's favorite desserts, apple pie and apple crumble. What? Crumble counts.

Back to the states for Uncle Sam’s favorite desserts, apple pie and apple crumble. What? Crumble counts.

 

This dynamic duo jumped from the mind of Legs and into the hearts of our gracious guests. Her apple pie, a recipe that she has held onto since her high school advanced foods class, is as timeless as a great American novel. Somebody tell the Mark Twain estate to start throwing in recipes for Huckleberry pie before the checks stop coming in. Homemade crust and a list of ingredients that will remain secret due to threats against my life make for an incredible slice of pie.

How do you follow up an apple themed dessert? With another apple themed dessert of course! This was the first time Legs has ever made apple crumble and I hope it won’t be the last. Another homemade crust, hearty oats, walnuts, brown sugar, and all the butter we could handle. This apple crumble will go down with some of the most memorable debuts in history. James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, Wilt Chamberlain’s rookie season, and now Legs’ apple crumble. Magical.


 

charity: intern

You can visit my birthday campaign and donate to clean water here.

I’ve had the amazing privilege of interning with charity: water this summer. Their goal is to bring clean water to the 800 million people without it in our lifetime. In just 8 years, charity: water has given 4.2 million people clean water and built over 11,000 water projects!

Some facts about the water crisis:

  • 1 in 9 people don’t have clean water
  • Diseases from dirty water kill more people than anything else, including war
  • Women and children in Africa spend up to four hours a day collecting dirty water
  • Lack of toilets and facilities in schools causes many students to drop out
  • $20 brings one person clean water

This September, 100,000 people in the Sahel region of Africa are counting on us. Your donation will be completely matched and your impact doubled! Instead of wasting water in the name of charity, please give water to those who need it most. You can donate here.

THANK YOU!!!

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Food & Wine Free-For-All

American, Food, New Jersey, Specialty Shops
This week we’re bringing you a very special edition of Dinner Royale! We brought our appetites down to Red Bank, New Jersey for this year’s Food & Wine Walk. A wristband got us access to thirty amazing restaurants offering samples of their food. Continue reading for highlights from our culinary tour of Red Bank Flavour and see how we declare this week’s winner after eating identical meals.

 

    NY strip and center cut filet served over crostini. Enjoyed in front of a water wall for extra whimsy.

NY strip and center cut filet served over crostini. Enjoyed in front of a water wall for extra whimsy.


Legs:

Stopping into Char for a bite was like stopping into Heaven for a bit of sunlight. Absolutely sublime but leaves you needing more. They were serving up New York strip AND filet straight from a carving board! On top of crispy, buttery crostini! With wine!

The two cuts of beef were both delicious but distinctly different. True to form, the filet was melt-in-your-mouth tender. Juicy, blood red and deliciously seasoned, it was soft enough to tear through with your teeth. The strip was just as nicely seasoned, with the stronger beef taste expected from a firmer cut. Perfectly cooked and rested; thank God their chef also likes medium rare.

While many of the restaurants on the Food and Wine Walk were somewhat stingy with their portions, Char was having none of it. They walked around with refills of wine and even gave Snax seconds! The whole experience was, well, heavenly.

Cheese push pops? CHEESE PUSH POPS?!? All of them, please.

Cheese push pops? CHEESE PUSH POPS?!? All of them, please.

While Char may have been the best experience of the day, the best bite goes to The Cheese Cave, hands down. CHEESE PUSH POPS?! Who is the genius who thought that up? Snax better watch out because I think I’ve found my soul mate. There were two to choose from. Sadly, we didn’t get to taste each others’.

Snax had avocado cream, goat cheese, red pepper jelly and cornbread crumble. He claims it’s amazing and I’m inclined to agree based off my experience. I had strawberry basil jam, lemon ricotta and pecan nut cake. Mind-blowing, mouth-watering, life-changing cheese pop. Why lemon ricotta isn’t incorporated into every meal ever is beyond me. It’s truly divine.

 

 

Black bean and corn salsa wrap filled with grilled chicken, melted pepper jack, and sour cream. Side of childhood and smoked chipotle sauce.

Black bean and corn salsa wrap filled with grilled chicken, melted pepper jack cheese, and sour cream. Served with a side of childhood and smoked chipotle sauce.

Snax:

From the outside, Jr’s looks like a typical American grill joint with the kind of grab and go food you don’t think too critically about; enjoyable but not noteworthy. Good thing we never judge a book by its cover and decided to stop into this unassuming little eatery.

The black bean and corn salsa wrap was an unexpected hit. The balance of flavor between chicken, salsa, cheese, and sour cream was impeccable. It was almost as if these ingredients joined forces to form a coalition hellbent on ridding the world of sub par wraps, one bite at a time. Legs doesn’t even like sour cream and still greatly enjoyed this wrap! What a time to be alive.

Remember tater tots? I certainly do and so does Jr’s. They understand the less appreciated member of the fry family and do it justice here. Nice and crispy shell surrounding a moist and delicious center. Perfection. Dipping these little bundles of joy into smoked chipotle sauce makes a good thing even better.

A championship performance from the underdogs at Jr’s.

Churro cake pops: scientifically proven to release copious amounts of dopamine in the brain.

Churro cake pops: scientifically proven to release copious amounts of dopamine in the brain.

Now here at Dinner Royale we tend to focus on the savory side of things. To change the pace a bit I present you with Lil’ Cutie Pops and their heavenly churro cake pops.

Biting into this pure bliss was like hearing “I Want You Back” for the very first time and being hit with Michael’s sweet melody. Powerful stuff from a pint sized package. The frosting on these bad boys was delightfully creamy and dusted with cinnamon sugar for just the right amount of sweetness. The cake itself was excellent. It firmly held together at first bite and fell apart in your mouth, not on the stick.

Thank you, Lil’ Cutie Pops, I am now going through
withdrawal without your magnificent take on churros.

I want you back!


And the winner is… Char!

Char had great food and a great experience to boot. Flawless from start to finish, we’ll definitely be coming back here for a special occasion sometime.

Since every restaurant was serving the same thing, we couldn’t declare a winner based off our choices. Check out our steakhouse-themed tie breaker to declare a winner:

 

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A Trip Down Under

Australian, Cuisine, Food, New York

The Battleground

Burke & Wills, Upper West Side, New York

The Contenders

Duck Burke & Wills Edit

Spiced duck breast with foie gras farotto, smoked raspberry sauce and grilled peaches. Candlelight for added romance.

Legs:

Duck is my favorite protein of all time, so I was insanely excited to see it on the menu at Burke and Wills.  Although we were initially drawn to the establishment because of the kangaroo burger, I knew there was no satiating my appetite without a hearty dose of duck.

I was not disappointed.  Skin perfectly crispy and wonderfully seasoned, a beautiful medium rare center and none of the overwhelming oiliness that duck is so renowned for.  It was my honor to have the opportunity to dine upon this bird.

The sauce: wow.  A light raspberry glaze with a hint of smoke was the perfect complement to such a meaty protein.  If it’s fruit it’s low calorie, right?  All of it was served on top of some darn good “stuff,” namely a light risotto… er… farotto with mushrooms (gross) and foie gras (yum!).  The grilled peaches on the side were somewhat of a disappointment.  A bit too dry and bitter to really satisfy your peach expectations.  Good thing they were just a footnote to the duck’s majesty.

All hail the queen.

Kangaroo Burger Burke & Wills Edit

Kangaroo burger with arugula, onions, and tomato jam. Served with triple fried chips, spicy mayo, and a reason to live.

Snax:

I consider myself to be an adventurous kind of guy. If I get an opportunity to do something out of the ordinary I’m more than likely to give it a whirl. When I was given the opportunity to have a bit of kangaroo for dinner I pounced. Things were about to get weird and I was so ready.

My medium rare marsupial hopped its way into my heart with the very first bite. The succulent patty was bursting with herbaceous flavor and a perfect char to seal it all in. There was even a taste of fennel seeds to it that I actually welcomed despite my extreme displeasure for them.

I could almost hear a chorus of didgeridoos as the subtle sweetness of the tomato jam infiltrated the burger and sent me through the roof. Luckily the arugula and shaved onions were there to break my fall as I gently came back down to earth. Sublime.

Thick cut fries aren’t my style, but triple fried chips are apparently a huge exception. I didn’t have any time to question the man I had become because I was too busy dipping the chips in spicy mayo. Sweet, sweet denial.

After that meal I really couldn’t care less about what dangers lie in the bush. I’m going to Australia and I’m going to eat everything in sight.


And the winner is…a tie?

✗Protein  ✗Sauce  ✗Sides/Veggies  ✗Presentation

Well this is awkward. Both meals were amazing and we both honestly preferred our own choices. It’s a draw! But somebody needs to stand tall on the mountaintop. Time to settle the score.

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Bleu, Blanc, Rouge!

Food, French, New York

The Battleground

Marseille, Hell’s Kitchen, New York

The Contenders

Lamb Chop Mareilles Edited

Lamp chops, pole beans, roasted eggplant, lamb jus and balsamic glaze. Omg.

Legs:

Let me start off by saying that I love lamb.  A lot.  It’s so delicious and I rarely have it, so this meal was a huge treat.  What’s more, this lamb in particular was amazing.

Perfectly seasoned, beautifully cooked, just the right amount of au jus… wow.  A little bit difficult to get off the bone at times, but you can’t blame the lamb for that.

What do I love as much as lamb?  Eggplant.  This plate has both?  Sign me up.  The eggplant was roasted until it was soft but not stringy and set on top of a balsamic glaze which it absorbed like a sponge.  Dredging lamb through balsamic glaze and chasing with a bite of eggplant may be my new favorite hobby.

The pole beans were a perfect blanket for the meal.  Still nice and crisp, a light green was the perfect complement.  Using another dense component like potato would have sent me over the edge, but the beans had the perfect amount of snap and air to form a stellar cohesion.

I’m obsessed.

Salmon Marseilles Edit

Salmon, roasted heirloom tomatoes, caramelized fennel, citrus broth. What could go wrong?

Snax:

When my salmon arrived wearing its ten-gallon tomato hat, I was so excited. I invited the salmon to take off his hat and stay a while. His friends salt and pepper were supposed to tag along, but we were stood up. Harsh.

It was an OK dish, but it could have been great. The citrus broth was wonderful and the fennel was exceptional. I absolutely hate fennel seeds, but I am now a huge fan of fennel itself.

Things were going very well until I bit into the salmon and tasted disappointment. What happened? No seasoning to speak of. Not a hint of salt or whisper of pepper. I looked over at the now toppled tomato and hoped it had more to offer. It really wasn’t fair of me to ask for more from a humble tomato. You tried, my friend, you tried.

If the salmon had been seasoned properly or had absorbed the broth’s flavor, then I wouldn’t have had a single complaint. C’est la vie.


And the winner is…Legs!

✓Protein  ✓Sauce  ✓Sides/Veggies  ✓Presentation

Every component of my dish was flawless and packed with flavor.  Snax’s poor, under-seasoned salmon never stood a chance.

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