Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why You Need To Run, Not Walk, To Souvlaki GR

As far as I know, there aren't many causal/sit-down Greek joints in the city. They're pretty much a dime-a-dozen in Queens, but in the city you're usually relegated to gyro trucks.

Now, Souvlaki GR started out as a truck and expanded to a gorgeous storefront on the Lower East Side (116 Stanton). And God bless em. I could never get around to their truck, but I'm pretty sure I'm gonna be living in their restaurant.

As soon as you walk in, you feel like you're in a sunny Greek plaza. The color scheme is dominated by Mediterranean blues and whites, and it instantly felt like summer. There's even a little newsstand that has Hellenic magazines and candies (but the candies aren't for

But let's get to the food, yes?

The menu is small, but they do it incredibly well. Me and my friend started with the Greek Fries, which have come really highly recommended. I can honestly say, these are probably the best I've ever had: super crisp on the outside, fluffy within, seasoned with salt, pepper, and oregano, and then crowned with pillow-soft feta. Creamy, tangy little crumbs of delight. My friend doesn't even like feta, but was quickly devouring his share. Even without tasting the souvlaki, I would just come here for these fries.

The drink I ordered, the frappe, is a cornerstone of Greek coffee culture. Instant coffee, milk, water, and sugar (to taste), are whipped into an column of foam and served over ice.
The bitterness of the coffee was delicious against all that rich feta. I was in love with all that creamy foam as well.

Oh, and obviously, we had soulvaki.

Mind you, you could really eat like 3643439782 of these. I got the chicken, and John got the pork. Tender juicy chunks of meat, marinated in spices and lemon juice wrapped up with tomatoes, french fries, fresh tzatziki sauce, and red onion in a warm, buttery pita. Incredible. The flavors were just outta this world, which is really impressive because of the simple ingredients.Warmed pita slathered with butter was one of my favorite snacks when I was little, and this was creating a nostalgia party in my tummy.  I know I will definitely be back soon to try everything else, and I hope next time they'll have the loukomades (hot doughnuts with cinnamon and honey).

Get up on this place, guys, before it gets crowded and trendy, and you can't get a seat! Easier and cheaper than getting a flight to Greece, and you don't have to deal with sitting next to a smelly guy on the plane.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Oneshot: Moo-less Chocolate Pie

Intense. Rich. Chocolatey. Creamy.

And made with...tofu.

I'M SORRY, MICHELLE! I know I should have told you, but maybe you wouldn't have eaten it!

Everyone knows my intense dislike of tofu; I can't stand the stuff. It's tasteless and bland, with a texture that makes my tongue recoil. "It takes on the taste of whatever you're cooking with!", is usually what's said to try and change my mind. I want things to stand on their own flavor legs! Not a food creep that leeches off of others' hard earned flavor profiles.

But then this pie came along...and changed the game. Only slightly, because this is the only thing with tofu in it that I will eat. It's also very easy to make, using only a handful of ingredients, a blender, and a pie crust (you can make your own, or use store bought).

Melt 2 cups of chocolate chips and a 1/3 cup of Irish Cream in a bowl. You can either do this in a microwave or in a double boiler (metal bowl over a saucepan that has a couple inches of simmering water...don't waste money and buy one) over the stove. Take it off of the heat and stir in a teaspoon of vanilla. I always add a tiny bit more because that's how I roll.

Now, throw the boozy chocolate in a blender along with a block (12 oz is fine) of silken tofu, and a tablespoon of honey, and blend it until it's nice and smooth. After tasting, I added a little more honey, because, again, that's how I roll. Pour this river of chocolate dreams into a 9-inch Graham cracker crust, and put it in the fridge to set up, about two hours.

You can do this with any liquor you want, or even use little pie crusts to make little pies! Plus, if you eat it all by yourself, you can still argue that it's healthy. Tofu is high in calcium! Chocolate has antioxidants! And I'm using exclamation points!

See, I can make it work.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Road Trip Eats: Apricot Oat Bars

I really love road trips. The open road, blasting tunes on the stereo, the promise of a new place, and the opportunity for road snacking.

Me and three friends made a trip upstate (Schenectady) to see one of our favorite authors, David Sedaris, do a reading and signing. If you haven't jumped on his bandwagon yet, DO IT. He's such an amazing writer! I decided, that since we were heading out kind of early, that I'd make something tasty for the ride up. I had a lot of errands to run before we left, so I wanted whatever I made to be simple, wholesome, and easy.

These Apricot Oat Bars are exactly that. At 7 in the morning on a Saturday, you don't really want to fuss much. These took 10-15 minutes to mix; the only thing I didn't have in my pantry was the apricot preserves, which was fixed by a jaunt to the market. Not a fan of apricot? You can totally sub in any flavor you want. I like the Bonne Maman brand myself, but use what you like. Just don't use grape jam/jelly or something like that. NASTY.

First, get your oven nice and toasty at 350. Combine a cup and a half of flour, the same amount of old fashioned oats, a teaspoon of baking powder, a cup of packed brown sugar, a half teaspoon of salt, and a stick and 3/4ths of butter (cut in pieces, please) in a large mixing bowl. Just mix it up in your hands til the mixture looks like crumbs. This works best when the butter is slightly soft.

Take half of your mixture and press it into a BUTTERED 8 inch square dish (I just used a smallish rectangular dish). Then, take your 12oz jar of preserves and spread it over your bottom crust evenly. Lick the spatula clean (optional, but I think you should do it). Sprinkle the second half of the mix over the preserves and press it down lightly. Now, all you gotta do is pop this in the oven for 45 minutes until golden brown and delish. They smell AMAZING coming out of the oven. But, don't be tempted to cut into them right away. Let them cool COMPLETELY. If you don't they will completely fall they did in the car. We ate them anyway though, hands covered in sticky sweetness. Hey, anything goes on the open road.

SIDEBAR: You know why the picture I posted for this recipe is so nice? Because my fool butt left the picture I took of these on my external hard drive! And I borrowed this one from The Pioneer Woman, which is fitting, because this is also her recipe. I already asked her permission, but just wanted to put it in writing here. :-)