The remains of the day, Part II

turkeycarcass1Earlier this week, I asked readers for tips on how best to use Thanksgiving leftovers. It seems that Penny watchers love their turkey in its purest state–sometimes without even reheating. But they had a few creative suggestions as well:

Dorothy Y. pointed out that there’s more to a leftover sandwich than the leftovers: she recommends piling turkey, stuffing, gravy and mashed potatoes on homemade rosemary bread. Try this bread recipe from allrecipes.com.

Turkey Lover is a fan of the turkey pot pie, “with a pie crust bottom, turkey and whatever other leftovers fit (for example, we have green beans every year) inside, and a top crust of mashed potatoes that gets crispy in the oven. A sprinkling (or more) of stuffing on top makes a great finishing touch.” For cooking instructions, check out this recipe from Recipezaar.

Karen B. likes an old world recipe for a new world holiday: she recommends Nigel Slater’s recipe for spicy turkey curry, which you can find at the Too Many Chefs blog.

And as Dorothy points out, be sure to boil your turkey bones and carcass, with any onion and carrot peels or celery ends you have lying around, for an hour or so to make stock. Use it in soups and stews, or in place of water when you cook rice or couscous or simmer veggies.

For more tips, check out these recipe lists from Better Homes and Gardens (our favorite: layered turkey enchiladas) and Gourmet (our favorite: the breakfast turkey hash).

Happy Thanksgiving weekend, and don’t feel bad about gorging—you’re just storing up layers for a cold winter.

Classy Hour of the Week: Crush Wine’s Holiday cocktails

elderflowerWhen you’ve finally conquered your food hangover this Friday, keep up the merry-making in style at Crush Wine Co. (153 E. 57th St., Manhattan–map) in midtown Manhattan. From 3 to 6 pm they’re pouring samples of “Simple Home Cocktails for the Holidays,” including harvest rum punch, elderflower cocktail, “Viking mojito,” and more.

Crush will also have experts there to show you how to make these drinks at home, so be prepared to take notes. Then you can save money at the bar and spend more time with family–or invite that date to stay in and show off your mixological mastery. The drinks will be fiery enough to keep you warm while you rest your feet by your non-functional fireplace.

crushwineCheck Crush’s website regularly for their impressive schedule of free tastings, including a Corzo tequila event on Saturday and a champagne gala in December (RSVP required). And take advantage of the friendly and knowledgeable staff as you search for palate-pleasing wine bargains.

TfaB: Dumpling Wars: Conclusion

img_0647Yes, I lined them up like the winners of the Westminster Dog Show.

  1. Prosperity Dumpling (map)
  2. Vanessa’s Dumpling House (map)
  3. Tasty Dumpling (map)
  4. Fried Dumpling (map)

My extremely scientific study shows that unless you have a thing for artificial soccer fields you can skip Columbus Park altogether. Both Eldridge Street shops beat out their Columbus counterparts in texture and freshness, and while the top three are all good enough to put smiles on our faces, Fried Dumpling is all frowns.

Lastly, Eldridge St. is closer to the F train, which brought me home just before I died of a sodium overdose.

Did I miss your favorite spot? Let me know in Comments and I’ll include it in my further research.

TfaB: Dumpling Wars, Part II: Eldridge Street

The second stop on my tour was Eldridge St., home to two dumpling heavyweights.

img_0643First on the list was Prosperity Dumpling (46 Eldridge St., Manhattan—map), the odds-on favorite from all the reviews I’d read and heard from friends. A review in an old Time Out led me to expect a five minute wait; in fact, the wait was under a minute. And img_0641the product did not disappoint. The treasures were plump and delicately fried to achieve the perfect exterior texture. The ingredients on the inside tasted noticeably fresher than either of the joints by Columbus Park, and were so juicy that they dripped onto my pants.

img_06441Two blocks north I made my last stop at Vanessa’s Dumpling House (118 Eldridge St., Manhattan—map). It has the most restaurant-y décor of the four establishments, with a long counter, many wooden tables, and even a restroom. Sadly, their $1 deal only includes 4 dumplings, but img_0645they don’t sacrifice the quality. The dumplings aren’t as intricately wrapped—a club to Prosperity’s hammer—but they get the job done. They’re fat and juicy and the ingredients are just as fresh as Prosperity’s.

Conclusion: If this had been a five-on-five matchup, the decision would have been tough. I think Prosperity would have the edge anyway because of it’s superior texture and juiciness. With Prosperity’s 5-4 advantage, it’s the clear winner in penny for penny value.

The remains of the day

turkeycarcassOur country’s annual celebration of excess (and gratitude and humility, of course) is almost upon us. All that excess means a lot of leftovers. This Black Friday, I’ll offer tips for what to do with the messy remains of your Thanksgiving meal. But as much as I love my Mom’s turkey stew, I know some of the best suggestions will come from you (or your mom).

Leave your favorite secrets—sandwiches, casseroles, pies, soups, and anything else you’ve created—and stories here in comments, or contact us. I’ll cull all the best ideas I can find and report back on Friday in time for your first of many leftover meals.

Tuck for a Buck: Dumpling Wars, Part I: Columbus Park

The search for elusive $1 food brought me to Chinatown last week to decide, once and for all (or for that day at least), who has the best deal on fried dumplings. My first stop: Columbus Park.

img_0640The woman at Fried Dumpling (106 Mosco St., Manhattan—map) didn’t exactly make me feel at home. When I asked for an order of dumplings, she grabbed a handful, stuffed them in a container and said, “Two dollars.” I pointed out that the sign on the window said $1, and she said, “No, two dollars.” We went back and forth like that for a while, until she opened the carton and pulled out two of the dumplings, then handed the rest to me,img_0637 snatched my one dollar and waved me out of the store. When I sat down to enjoy my quarry, I found that it wasn’t worth the hassle. I did end up with five dumplings as advertised, but they were thin as string beans with very little meat inside. The wrappers were chewy rather than crispy, and the interior was dry.

img_0639I left my park bench and headed to Tasty Dumpling (54 Mulberry St., Manhattan—map). Tasty had a few tables and many more customers, but there was an immediate downside. An order of dumplings cost (gasp) $1.25, $1.35 with tax. I sucked it up for the sake of research. They served me my dumplings quickly and with a smile, and theyimg_0636 were decidedly tastier. They were stuffed with more, and juicier, pork and chive. The wrappers were crispy, if a little over-fried. There was a bit of residue from the deep-fryer lingering on the exterior, which hurt the appearance of the dumplings more than the taste.

Conclusion: Pay the extra 35 cents. I know, it hurts, and it’s not technically Tuck for a Buck, but it’s worth it for the attitude if not for the significant advantage in taste.

Collard greens from the deeper south

churrascoWith all the heavy meat, beans and rice in Brazilian food, it’s easy to forget that Brazilians need vegetables, too. In fact, they wield their greens with as much skill as they do their steak. One of the most delicious, yet easiest and cheapest, of Brazilian green dishes is couve, collard greens sautéed in butter. If you’ve ever eaten feijoada—Brazilian pork, beef, and bean stew—you’ve probably had couve on the side. But it’s a perfect accompaniment to all kinds of protein, Brazilian or not.

dscn3131The cooking instructions, which I adapted from the Maria’s Cookbook website, are incredibly simple. Just wash one bunch of collard greens, roll the leaves together like you’re rolling a cigar, and slice them into ¼ inch strips. Then dice half a small onion and a clove of garlic. Melt about 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and cook the onion and garlic over medium heat until they soften. Throw in the greens and cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until they start to wilt—only a couple minutes.

dscn3135That’s all there is to it, but your finished product will be delightfully crisp and flavorful. The bitterness of the raw greens dissipates as they cook down, leaving only a subtle bite that’s a perfect complement to the garlic and the sweetness of the onions.

The price? At my local supermarket collard greens cost 88 cents a pound; the bunch cost 69 cents. The couve served six, meaning a vegetable side dish for about 11 cents a person. That gives you plenty of money leftover for a few caipirinhas.

The cheap eater’s cheap pita

One block on MacDougal Street separates two of the cheapest falafel sandwiches you’ll find in New York. In the north corner: the Goliath of cheap falafel, winner of titles, awards, and accolades, with the line busting out the door, ringing up at $2.50, Mamoun’s (119 MacDougal St.*, Manhattan—map). In the south corner: an undeniable David, waiting in the shadows, with ample seating room and minimal bustle, also ringing up at $2.50, Yatagan Kebab House (104 MacDougal St., Manhattan—map).

yataganyatagankebabYatagan does have a chick pea or two to sling at its neighbor. Their sandwich is bigger than Mamoun’s—3/4 of a pita compared to 2/3. Also, while Mamoun’s stuffs their falafel into the bottom of the pita and puts lettuce, tomato, and sauce on top, Yatagan mixes it all in together, so you get a bit of everything in each bite.

mamounsBut then there’s the question of taste, and here Mamoun’s reigns. Their falafel patties are crispier and better seasoned. Their tahini sauce is stronger. Their ingredients all taste a tad fresher. And their logo is more loveable.

Both joints are incredible deals, and there are times you should opt for Yatagan: when you’re extra hungry, or looking to sit down to a peaceful meal. But the bustle at Mamoun’s is there for the flavor, and for our money it can’t be beat.

*Mamoun’s also has a location on St. Mark’s Place in Manhattan, and in New Haven, CT.

Happy Hour of the Week: A Lesson in Beer

4apThe late Brit beer critic and writer Michael Jackson (not the pallid pedophile) taught the world that an educated palate is as important for beer as it is for wine and food. There’s no better place to learn than one of Brooklyn’s favorite bars, 4th Avenue Pub (76 4th Avenue, Brooklyn—map).

4AP has a vast rotating selection of international beers and domestic micro brews on tap. The friendly bartenders will give you a sample of anything you want to help you make your decision. One even claims to be able to pick a beer for you based on your favorite type of tree—I’ll reserve judgment on that technique. Once you make your pick, you can complement it with unlimited helpings from the self-serve popcorn machine.

There’s no better time to visit than from 3 pm to 8 pm every weekday, when all drinks in the bar are $2 off for happy hour. That means $3 for a delicious pint of a beer you didn’t know existed—it’s an Oxford beer education at community college prices.

A romantic taco at Sunset

mThis far from the border, authentic Mexican food is harder to come by than a seat on the rush hour 4 train. But the Mexican community in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park has proven that, in fact, you can take it with you.

The best of the barrio is Tacos Matamoros (4508 5th Avenue, Brooklyn–map), where you can load up on delicious tacos for $1-2 a piece. It’s a homey family restaurant that’s great for a casual meal. And it’s just a block from Sunset Park itself, so on a nice day you can grab your tacos to go, spread out on the grass, and actually watch the sun set.

tacosMatamoros boasts a vast range of meat fillings to sample. The tastiest options are the pork—carnitas (spicy), al pastor (rotisserie), and chorizo (sausage). But you can also experiment with different flavors of chicken and beef. And if you’re feeling adventurous, try the crispy and salty sensations that are the tripa, lengua, and cabeza. That’s tripe, tongue, and brain. Remember, we’re in a recession. Why let those tasty morsels go to waste?