Salon Ruggeri

SALON RUGGERI

115 East 37th Street between Park & Lexington Avenues 
212.229.2094

Salon Ruggeri is one of those places that you'd only know about if a beauty insider tipped you in. That's how I found this jewel-box hair salon in the first place--from my very good friend Georgina.

This salon is just a chic slice of heaven, fashionably outfitted with gorgeous objets d'art and stylish furniture. The glossy big-name hair salons with their celebrity stylists and private label haircare lines have lost their appeal on me. I crave a personalized and more private experience: here, there are only two styling stations. Call and make an appointment with Cassie Harwood--you won't regret it. She knows what she's doing. (And only share this place with girlfriends who are worthy! Let's keep it special!)

My Version of Mom's Baked Chicken Served with Buttered Brussels Sprouts

There appears to be a correlation between "busy mom dinners" and "single girl dinners." When my mom was in a pinch, she'd bake chicken and let Lawry's Seasoning Salt work its magic.

FOR THE CHICKEN

4 pieces of chicken (It's your choice of cut. I happened to buy chicken thighs. Why four pieces? Trust me, you'll want leftovers for the next night.)
3-4 large cloves of garlic 
1 medium-sized onion
Lawry's Seasoning Salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
Half a lemon 
Extra virgin olive oil

--

FOR THE BRUSSELS SPROUTS

A handful of brussels sprouts
A knob of salted butter 

--

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. 

2. Peel the onion and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices, cross-wise. Then, smash and peel the garlic cloves. Layer both the onion slices and garlic cloves onto the bottom of a cast iron pan or baking dish. I think having that layer of onions at the bottom keeps the chicken moist.

3. Shake Lawry's Seasoning Salt evenly on both sides of the chicken. Rub in the seasoning and place the chicken on top of the onion and garlic. Wash your hands thoroughly. We don't want salmonella, now do we?!

4. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the pan and crack lots of freshly ground black pepper over everything. Drizzle some olive oil over the contents of the pan to finish.

5. Once the oven has reached the proper temperature, slide in the pan or baking dish with the chicken. Let it bake for about 40 to 45 minutes or until the chicken is nicely browned. The juices should run clear. If you're not sure, slice through the center of one of the pieces to check. It shouldn't be pink.

6. Meanwhile, wash the brussels sprouts and slice off the browned bits. You can cut them in half or leave them whole. Add them to a small pot of boiling water, along with a knob of salted butter. Cover the lid and let them cook for about 13 to 15 minutes or so, when they've become tender but not mushy.

7. When the chicken is ready, take the pan or baking dish out of the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Make a little nest of the now-softened onions on your plate and place thechicken on top. Arrange a few brussels sprouts on the side. They should have a soft, buttery glaze. 

Treehouse Bar at David Burke Kitchen

TREEHOUSE BAR at DAVID BURKE KITCHEN

The James Hotel
23 Grand Street near Sixth Avenue
212.201.9119

Dining al fresco on a beautiful night at Treehouse Bar feels like such a treat: it's a casual urban oasis that serves the same menu as David Burke Kitchen downstairs. True to David Burke's form, he adds little unexpected twists to dishes that we may already be familiar with. Tuna tartare is stuffed into mini taco shells with whipped avocado, the crab cake is encased in a pretzel stick-crust, and even a standard brick chicken dish is crowned with a "milanese" egg--a soft-boiled egg that's been rolled in panko bread crumbs and fried to a golden crisp.

On Sleeping Alone

Sleeping by myself took getting used to, but I got the hang of it. You gotta sleep in the middle. It’s not healthy to have a side when no one has the other side.
— Eric Barry from Something's Gotta Give

I have one side, and six of my pillows have the other side. Does that look unhealthy to you?

Raoul's

RAOUL'S

180 Prince Street bet. Sullivan & Thompson Streets
212.966.3518

Raoul's is a classic French bistro that's been a mainstay on Prince Street since the 1970's. I love the SoHo chic vibe sans trendiness. Try to snag a table in their garden room, which is tucked in the back behind the kitchen and feels like a secret bohemian hideaway. I've had the seared scallops with sea urchin butter, which was very nice, but they say the way to go is with the more traditional dishes, like steak au poivre.

Spaghetti with Fried Egg

I first saw spaghetti with fried eggs in Amanda Hesser's book Cooking for Mr. Latte and it's been in my repertoire since. My kitchen may be bare at times, but I'll usually have a box of pasta and a few eggs on-hand.

--

Dried pasta (I used angel hair pasta here because that's all I had!)
1 organic egg
3 cloves of garlic
Butter
Sea salt
Black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Aromat Seasoning (optional)

--

1. Smash the garlic cloves, discard the peels, and roughly chop. Set aside.


2. Cook pasta according to directions in salted water with a drizzle of olive oil, so that the pasta is nicely flavored and doesn't stick.


3. Right after you drain the pasta, return it back to the pot and add a tablespoon of butter and a splash of olive oil. Toss the hot pasta with the chopped garlic so that the flavors infuse. 


4. Dress the pasta with sea salt and black pepper--feel free to add whatever seasonings you like. I happen to like Aromat, the Swiss seasoning salt. Taste and adjust the seasonings.


5. Heat a small frying pan over medium-high heat with a slick of olive oil. Crack the egg into the pan and cook it sunny-side up. Make sure the whites are set. You can put a lid over it for a little bit until they do, but make sure not to overcook it because you want the yolk to still be runny

6. Meanwhile, make the pasta into a nest on your plate. When the egg is done, place it on top. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and cut into the yolk. Mix it all up and enjoy.

For the Love of Shoes

Photo taken at Creatures of Comfort on Mulberry Street

Oops, I did it again.

I fell in love with a pair of shoes. Acne's ankle-wrapped, block-heeled "Terra" pumps, to be exact.

They're the kind of shoes that look sort of odd and hideous on display, but, when I tried them on, I just knew. It was like Cinderella's foot sliding perfectly into that glass slipper. What's special to me about these shoes is that they're sexy, but not in that typical Louboutin way. There's a certain allure in the confidence and boldness of the design. I was seduced.

I knew that I wanted them. It wasn't a question of if I would buy them. It was a matter of when, and, really, if we're to get down to it, how.

The obstacle for the "how" was my budget. I had been checking things off of my fall shopping list left and right and didn't expect to come across these beauties. They weren't on the list, so, I added them as "day-to-night heels."

On the same day that I made the purchase, I bought a 5-pack of instant ramen noodles, which I figured would cover dinner Monday through Friday. I also swore that I would make cut-backs on everything else in order to balance out this expense.

Strangely, this was a reminder that life is just moving pieces: If you want this, cut back on that... And so forth. When you really want to make something happen, there's always a way. Not entirely sure this was the most responsible way to go about it, but the answer is always there--you just have to figure it out.

Ode to the Donut Peach

Oh, Donut Peach!

How I love thee!

Thy sweet flesh is perfumed 

With golden-honey summer rays

And touched with hints of almond.

Thy petite being nestles comfortably

In the heart of my palm.

May thine glow with a decadence

That knows the heights of exquisite pastries

Yet remains humble enough for all to enjoy.

How I weep upon feeling the crispness of autumn

For I must soon bid you farewell.

Until you blossom next season

And we meet again at Citarella...

Kelly & Ping

KELLY & PING

127 Greene Street bet. Houston & Prince Streets
212.228.1212

Kelley & Ping serves Pan-Asian fare on a cobblestoned street in SoHo--not in the gritty alleyways of Chinatown, so don't expect 100% authenticity. However, the atmosphere is stylish and lofty, the menu features a nice variety of curries, noodle soups, and small bites, and the prices are decent. Just order at the counter and pick a seat.

As a plus, it was featured in one of my favorite scenes in Great Expectations: Finn finds Estella's table and asks her to dance. The two start slow-dancing in the middle of the restaurant, then rush out the door, into the rain, and start kissing. She's wearing a Donna Karan evening dress and there are Chinese lacquered roast ducks hanging on hooks by the open kitchen. I mean, how amazing is that?

Lani's Farm Japanese Eggplant with Wild Garlic & Thyme

I never know what to do with eggplant until I learned how to make this fabulously simple dish from the Lani's Farm stand at the Union Square Greenmarket.

--

3 small Japanese eggplant, or a small regular eggplant
3-4 large cloves of wild garlic, or regular garlic
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
Extra virgin olive oil
Maldon sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper 

--

1. Wash and dry the eggplant. Cut into thick 1/2-inch slices. Set aside.

2. Peel and slice the garlic into big chunks.

3. Heat up a cast iron pan over medium-high heat with a slick of olive oil and add the sprigs of thyme. Move them around with a wooden spatula so that they infuse into the oil.

4. Scatter the garlic into the pan and brown them. Make sure you get both sides. I find that chopsticks are a helpful tool in flipping the garlic. Remove from the pan and set aside. They should be nice and crispy!

5. Lower the heat to medium and add the sliced eggplants to the pan. What you'll find is the eggplants will be extremely absorbent, so you'll have to periodically adding a splash of olive oil to the pan while they're cooking. Continue cooking until they soften and brown. Crush some Maldon sea salt flakes over the pan and add a shower of freshly cracked black pepper.

6. Turn off the heat and remove the stems from the thyme. Fold in the crispy garlic with a wooden spatula and pile onto a plate or into a bowl.

A Moveable Feast in Bed

I bought this book because of this passage:

As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.