It’s time for something new! I love to cook–that’s not news, and it’s the reason NCK exists. Often, though, the recipes you see on the blog are the product of testing and a well manicured photo shoot, which is definitely not what my day-to-day cooking looks like. Most blog recipes start with an experiment, or, hey, even dinner desperation, and I want a place to reflect that and show you guys what I eat in real life. Weekend Eats, a new series on NCK, will be an informal roundup of what and where I ate over the weekend, who I was with, and a few thoughts and pictures. When I entertain, it will include those dinner (or brunch) menus that I craft so carefully in order to have a worry-free party where everyone eats well.
The photography promises to be less staged, a welcome break from carefully placed utensils and herb leaves. The series will help expose the evolution of all those “polished” recipes you see on the ‘gram and the blog and Pinterest and will keep the blog going even when life and work keep me too busy to crank out three gorgeous recipes a week. Finally, I hope it starts a conversation with y’all about your weekend cooking and gives you inspiration in the kitchen for when Friday rolls around!
- Crumb topping-for-days coffee cake
- No-chop thyme vinaigrette (the dressing only; I make a third or half of the recipe)
- “Everything” marinade: great for flank steak, and I imagine also good on portobellos or tofu. I start with a base of canola oil, add red wine vinegar, smashed garlic cloves, fresh oregano or parsley leaves, black pepper and/or peppercorns, soy sauce or tamari, garlic salt, and lime juice. Marinade for one to two hours. Brush off excess marinade before grilling or broiling.
- Gluten free mac and cheese
It was a heavy eating out weekend! We’re not usually this lazy.
- The National (Greenwich, CT)
- Tabouli Grill (Stamford, CT)
- Half Full Brewery (Stamford, CT) – one of our Saturday activities. I was surprised by my enjoyment of this spot, with couches and tables for Jenga, plus a bring-your-own-snacks policy.
- Black Duck Cafe (Westport, CT)
See above for recipe and restaurant links.
- The National: date night! Steve had quite the week at work, and he got home early (at 6:30…the finance world needs to work on their execution of “early”). We were graced with the perfect weather for cocktails on our deck and puppy cuddles, then we headed to a last minute reservation at Geoffry Zakarian’s Greenwich establishment, The National. For once in a very long time, I was craving a burger of the beef variety. Unfortunately, the Connecticut location of GZ’s restaurant is catering a little too hard to its arguably more refined audience, and I had no such luck getting my burger. The food was quite tasty, though, with the highlights being our starters of smoky almonds, the garlickiest garlic bread I’ve ever tasted (that’s a good thing), chilled corn soup with tomatillos, and fried spicy calamari. The cocktails were fun but weaker than expected, and our entrées were totally satisfying, but not exactly rave-worthy. Unfortunately, we both felt a little ill that night and the next day. Between that and the just-above-average entrées, I can’t say I’ll go back, but I think I speak for both Steve and I by saying we don’t regret our visit. I’d recommend it with reservations, no pun intended.
- Saturday morning coffee cake: leftovers that I pulled out of the freezer from a very rich, dense cake I baked a couple weeks back. The recipe is via David Lebovitz, originally by Kamran Siddiqi. Lebovitz is correct in that the cake is superb even after freezing, and the impressive crumb topping was all that it was on the first round.
- Saturday lunch: Tabouli Grill. Still not feeling 100% from the previous night’s dinner, but I had to eat. Tabouli (in Stamford) doesn’t boast super fancy interiors or a really vibrant atmosphere (the bulk of their business, I’m guessing, is catering and takeout), but the food cannot be beat. It’s like the Starbucks of Mediterranean food–you know exactly what you’re gonna get in terms of quality. I usually spend a meal analyzing and critiquing my food, but Steve noticed that this time I did nothing but rave and bond with my falafel sandwich. Bonus: it has pickles! The perfect acidic compliment to lots of garbanzos, sesame, and mellow veggies.
- Saturday dinner: following an afternoon of beer and birthdays, we just wanted to head home with Tristyn and Kian (visiting for the weekend), chill, have some cocktails (or water because we’re old), and eat an easy meal. We made a spring mix salad with my new favorite, no-chop dressing, “everything” marinated flank steak on the grill, and gluten-free, rouxless mac and cheese. After naps we chowed down then relaxed with cupcakes and wine before heading to bed.
- Sunday breakfast: on the run before church. Fruit, leftover coffee cake, then some pastries and bagels at church. Plus the best little music note cookies!
- Sunday “brunch”: We hit up the Black Duck Cafe of Triple D fame for all the seafood we could eat. At the table: two lobster rolls, a scallop po’ boy, and a brie-filled burger, plus stuffed clams, cajun shrimp, beers, and a bloody Mary (that would be mine). We beat the rush and got a table at this hidden gem right when we walked in. The service was casual, minimal, and friendly, and I felt like I stepped out of Fairfield County, Connecticut and onto the coast of Maine for a 90 minute getaway. We will be back here over and over, to make up for my regret that I didn’t go sooner.
- Sunday night: After our fried food and butter extravaganza, Steve and I weren’t hungry ’til LATE, and I was in no mood to cook, busily working through some photo shoots since we leave for Minnesota in a few days. We made our favorite new Trader Joe’s appetizer, Tiropita, with salad and leftover dressing, topped off with a few stragglers from a tray of Costco brownie bites.