My 5 picks for Thanksgiving Dining in NYC

turkey-city_450We’re New Yorkers. We can order anything from Lebanese to lasagna at 2am and have it delivered right to our door. While we know culinary brilliance when we taste it, our stove hasn’t been ignited since that night we tried to heat the apartment by turing the oven on. Let’s face it, we could cook but it’s SO much easier just to eat out. Thanksgiving is no exception.

During my seven years in the Big Apple, I haven’t traveled home for the holidays once. Since all my kin live on the west coast, I find it much easier just to make a reservation instead of making a turkey. Here are my picks for those of you who find yourself in NYC this Thanksgiving and feel the same….

Jane
Jane has been my go-to destination for my holiday feast for 4 years now. A casual American bistro smack dab between SoHo and Greenwich Village, it’s classic NYC fare. The space is comforting and warm (kinda like Grandma’s kitchen, only chicer) and the menu has all the components you’d want on your plate. T-day menu consists of a prix fix, three course with various options. You can’t go wrong with turkey and the trimmings but you could go with short ribs, risotto, or salmon if the bird isn’t your thang.

20081027-igobblenyFreeman’s
One of my all-time foodie favs is definitely Freeman’s. Located at the back of an alley, its charm doesn’t stop just at the decor. The food and design is rugged, rustic, and has a certain old world charm. Their holiday menu consists of turkey and the usual suspects, as well as their signature (almost better-than-sex) artichoke dip. Believe me the dip alone is worth the trek to the LES. Oh, and did I mention they have pie? Homemade pie.

Maialino
A little pricier than the two above, Maialino is one of the FINEST NYC restaurants you can pay a visit. Their Thanksgiving bill of fare has an Italian flare since it’s what they do best. Start with the zuppa di castagne (or chestnut soup), then get your roasted bird with Polenta instead of stuffing, and finish with their expertly executed Zabaione or Italian custard. They also have a special menu just for the wee ones that doesn’t require they sit at the “kids” table.

Red Rooster
I included Red Rooster simply because I’ve heard such amazing things about this uptown gem. You’re pretty much gonna get a typical Thanksgiving dinner here but chef Marcus Samuel is bound to throw in a couple culinary surprises here and there. They also have live jazz so prepare to be serenaded by some of the good stuff in the heart of Harlem.

Il Buco
I used to teach a couple in their home (with equipment and all) right across the cobblestoned street from Il Buco. Finally, I had salivated long enough and one day decided to visit their feast of the pig. OMG! THE BEST suckling pig I’ve ever had. Thanksgiving dinner here has your choice of that or traditional turkey. Part Italian, part Spanish, all delicious. A holiday feast here will change your life.

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Why You Should Pretend You’re A Vegan

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If you’re anything like me, you’ve had your bouts with Vegetarianism. There was that time in once in high-school when you thought that eating a cheeseburger from McDonalds without the patty was a “veggie” burger. The time you declared yourself a veg because you only eat fish, which you already never ate. Yes, we were cool before it was cool to be Vegetarian. Turns out, that it’s not just good to beef up (no pun intended) your intake of plant based foods while also shunning animal products such as dairy and meat, but also good for you.  If the thought of giving up your steak is unquestionable- you can at least eat like a vegan a few days a week and still reap the benefits. Here’s why it’s healthy to eat like a vegan, or at least pretend you are one:

  • It can make you skinnier Not that I condone the idea that “skinny” is better than “fat” (ugh, I just hate typing those words!), but it’s a fact. Vegans just consume less calories than the carnivorious types. Also, because lots of processed super market foods contain animal products, Vegans tend to read labels and avoid foods they don’t make themselves. For example- marshmellows contain gelatin which is made from boiling skin, bones, and other animal parts. Or,  red dye, aka cochineal is made from grinding up insects!!!! Yuck! That’s enough to turn me vegan for good!
  • You will be healthier. Bill Clinton did it after his heart woes, celebs like Ruben Studdard of American Idol fame lost his unhealthy weight by becoming a vegan. The German Cancer Research Center did a study where they found that veggie men reduced their risk of early death by 50%, women by 30%! The better health can be contributed to the fact that you’re stuffing your face with green stuff loaded with vitamins vs saturated fats, cholesterol, hormones, antiboitics, toxins.
  • You will be a concious eater. No more can you just pick up fast-food on the way home, as a vegan you’ll have to plan your meals to insure you actually get enough of the good stuff. Meal planning and reading labels makes you a concious eater and that will not only make you feel better inside and out but cause you to put your attention on creating a healthy life for yourself. That’s good anyway you slice it!

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Still feeling overwhelmed? Don’t fret! There’s simple ways to work the vegan lifestyle into your routine. Try swapping your cow’s milk to almond in your cereal. Plan to cook veggie a couple days a week. Suggest going to a vegan restaurant instead of a steak house every now and then. In upcoming posts, I’ll be featuring some Vlogs (video blogs) with my good friend and vegan chef Jenné Claiborne , so stay tuned! Try treating yourself like a vegan- your body will thank you inside and out!

Do you dream about vegetables? Already cooking veggie-style? Maybe you have a recipe you’d like us to do a Vegan redo? We’d love to hear about it! Leave your comments or pictures below! 

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photos courtesy of sweet potato soul blog

In Our Kitchen: Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving for me, is all about the food. There’s the old standards- turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes; but I like to mix things up. I interrogated my friends, clients, and fellow teachers for their picks in this holiday season. I’ve compiled a list for you to play with below:

Vegan Pumpkin Muffins

by FORM Instructor, Amy Nelms (a vegan with a vengeance)                                  IMG_9279

  • 13/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 11/4 cups sufst
  • 1tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1/2 soy milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons molasses

Preheat oven to 400.  Lightly grease a 12 muffin tin.  Sift together flour,sugar,baking powder,salt, and spices.  In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, soy milk,oil, and molasses.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix.

Fill the muffin cups two- thirds full.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean

 Roast Turkey with Sage and Orange Gravy

by super Pilates client, Casey Nicolaw (as seen in Real Simple)

  • 1  12- to 14-pound whole fresh or frozen turkey, thawed
  • 2  tablespoons  kosher salt
  • 8  large oranges, scrubbed
  • 1  large bunch fresh sage
  • 3  heads garlic, cut crosswise in half
  • 1  5.2- to 6.4-ounce package garlic-herb cheese spread (such as Boursin)
  • 4  large carrots
  • 3  small leeks, trimmed and rinsed, or 2 large onions, cut into quarters
  • olive oil
  • 6  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
  1. Remove the giblets, then rinse the turkey. Dry with paper towels. Rub the cavity with the salt. Cut 2 of the oranges into 2-inch chunks. Set aside a few sage sprigs for garnish later. Place the remaining sage, cut-up oranges, and garlic in the cavity. Loosen the skin from the breast and spread the cheese under the skin. Tuck the wings under the back; tie the legs together. Arrange the carrots and leeks in the roasting pan to create a “rack” and place the turkey on it; rub with oil. (The turkey can be prepared to this point up to 1 day ahead. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate.)
  2. Heat oven to 350º F. Roast for 1 hour. Place a foil tent over the turkey and continue roasting for 2 1/2 to 3 hours more or until an instant-read thermometer registers 180º F when inserted in the breast.
  3. Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Carefully move the turkey to a platter, pouring any cavity juice back into the pan. Cover with foil to keep warm. Set oven to 500º F. Cut the remaining 6 oranges into quarters and arrange in a shallow baking pan. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes or until brown.
  4. Meanwhile, discard the vegetables from the roasting pan. Pour the pan drippings into a 4-cup measure. When the fat separates and rises to the surface, spoon 1/3 cup of it into a medium saucepan; discard any remaining fat. Squeeze the juice from 12 of the orange wedges into the defatted broth; if necessary, add water or chicken broth to make 4 cups. Whisk the flour into the fat in the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add the broth mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the gravy thickens and boils, 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Arrange the remaining baked oranges with the sage on the platter around the turkey. Serve with the gravy.

Coconut Flavored Sweet Potatoes

by holistic health honey, Erica Trestyn

  • 3-4 medium sized Sweet potatoes, skinned and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1-2 TBSP of black strap molasses
  • ¾ teaspoon of sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Put sweet potatoes in a large bowl and pour over coconut oil & molasses.  Toss with remaining ingredients. Spread the potatoes on a large baking sheet or in a large roasting pan.  Roast for about an hour, tossing about every 20 min.*You can also try this recipe with butternut squash. Mash either for a “mashed potato feel”. It is super yummy & decadent!

Balsamic-Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Crushed Pine Nuts and Parmesan
spotted by yours truly, Lindsay Lopez on Pinterest

  • 1 pound of Brussels sprouts
  • 1/8 cup pine nuts, finely diced
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese
  1.  Trim and peel away the outer leaves of each Brussel sprout and half them
  2. Slide the Brussels sprout halves onto the skewers, about six to eight halves per skewer
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place skewers halved-side up
  4. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over each skewer, trying to “fill up” the Brussels  sprouts
  5. Bake the skewers at 400 degrees for about 30min until they are cooked and crispy
  6. Plate the skewers on a serving tray and cover them with parmesan and the pine nuts

 

Thanksgiving Eggs Benedict

by FORM Instructor Alissa Alter Fuhrman

In a pan with melted butter, fry a large spoonful of leftover mashed potatoes into a potato pancake. Then in the same pan make a fried egg. Serve the egg over the pancake and cover with leftover gravy.

Let us know which of our recipes you tried and loved, or post a recipe of your own below!

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3 Fall Hangouts You Shouldn’t Miss

Two is always better than one. Such is the case with exploring NYC. Here’s my pick for three things you can do with your bestie here in the big apple:

1- Go High and Go Low

New York is always on the cutting edge of making the most out of what we got, like the High Line, the above ground park built on an elevated historic freight rail line. So, it’s no wonder that we would go below to have the Low Line too. The master plan of local lower east side architects and engineers to bring green space to an area lacking in both space and foliage. Nestled in the former Williamsburg trolley terminal, untouched for decades, these innovators have designed a remote skylight to deliver sunlight from the surface and actually provide enough natural light to allow plant life to flourish. Although it is in its early stages they are offering a glimpse into the potential of the future park. Visit the exhibition anytime between September 15-27 for its inaugural “day” fair with pop-ups from some of the LES’s best tasting goodies.

2- Go cheap

Our fair city is a museum mecca and Saturday September 29th, the Smithsonian is sponsoring Museum Day. It’s free, yes that’s FREE, to visit one of 28 museums. My pick is the little known Museum of Arts and Design. MAD (as they lovingly call themselves) is nestled kitty corner from the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle. Take a free (yup, there’s that word again) docent tour of the museum while inside and when you’ve taken in all your eyes can muster, wander upstairs to one of the area’s greatest kept secrets, Robert. Robert is a sexy little gem with one of the best views of Central park. Go for brunch, lunch, dinner, or late night snack but make sure to splurge on one of their specialty libations. You might even see a famous ballerina from Lincoln Center sipping one right in the booth next to you….

3- Go eat

New Yorkers know how to eat, and we celebrate the fact that we have some of THE best food in the world with the annual NYC Food and Wine Festival. October 17th-20th, it is a long weekend of cuisine infused activities that range anywhere from $20-$400. You can taste, listen, and party with some of the industries hottest chefs like Racheal Ray, Anita Lo, and Giada De Laurentiis. Stuff your face at one of the Grand Tastings and maybe bad boy Anthony Bourdain will be there to sign your t-shirt, eh I mean book.

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