Zavo Restaurant & Lounge New York

Okay… today’s the first day where I’m really feeling the cold. I’m a Midwest girl at heart, so the winter season doesn’t bother me much, but in New York, with the humidity AND the cold? It feels much more cold than normal. So what to do on a freezing day like today? I’d say just stay inside, but if you get cabin fever like me and need to get out of the house, you should go and check out ZAVŌ. A luxurious new Mediterranean restaurant that engages all of your senses, it’s the perfect location too after marathoning through a shopping spree. Got your holiday errands all checked off yet? If not, it’s cool. Me neither. Why not sit down and take a break in between with a glass of wine at my new favorite spot in Lenox Hill?

Zavo Restaurant & Lounge

Zavo Restaurant & Lounge

A stylish and seductive multi-level celebration of Mediterranean cuisine and culture, ZAVŌ elevates the dining experience. Amidst tastefully appointed decor and lighting, the menu is just as scrumptious. Savor a cocktail at the sleek marble bar or unwind on the outdoor terrace. We sat in the dining room section with a pleasant ambience and excellent service. The staff was so sweet to give us a complete tour of their almost 1-year old restaurant in Lenox Hill (UES). ZAVŌ’s second floor is accessed via a private entrance on East 60th Street. Ascend the sweeping staircase to the intimate piano lounge, bar and refined private dining rooms, they offer unparalleled, five-star catering services cultivated from their deep expertise with corporate and special events. The Chef’s special selected menu changes daily to reflect their fascinating and unique live entertainment such as 50 Shades and Venetian/Masquerade Nights and others. It’s a great space for holiday parties right now, and even a wedding reception! The second floor can accommodate roughly over 200 people, and the decor alone will have you swooning.

We tried the crab cakes and grilled octopus for our appetizers which were cooked to perfection. Literally soft as butter, with wonderful taste concoctions to go with the seafood such as hummus, yellow pepper, and more. For our main course, we tried the branzino fish with grilled squash and zucchini, and the braised short beef with mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus. The fish was excellent as well as the beef. The beef and asparagus were a tad dry and could have used more sauce, but the flavors were all there. Their sancerre wine was also quite good. But we were so full, we opted out on dessert. Gotta keep that holiday figure, somehow! ;) Overall, a wonderful dining experience. On the super plus side? It’s right across the street from Bloomingdale’s - the perfect spot to hang your hat and grab a bite after your holiday shopping!

LOVE & XX’S,

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Kimchi Risotto

A rainy start to the work week, I wanted to create some new food content as a lot of you have been making several requests as of late. Plus, I've been going through a lot personally, and cooking has always been therapeutic, for me, at least. Eating well never sucks and having others enjoy the food I make results in me being happy, which also never sucks :) So let's talk about this wonderful recipe I tried out - it's nutty, buttery, and tangy with just the right amount of heat, and perfect for a chillier day like today... kimchi risotto! What the heck did I just say?!

Kimchi Risotto

photos by ©  Suzanne Spiegoski

photos by © Suzanne Spiegoski

Serves 2

Ingredients:

1/2c Kimchi juice (squeezed from kimchi)

1/2 Kimchi (minced)

3c Vegetable stock

2Tbsp butter

2 Cloves garlic (minced)

1c Sushi rice

3-4Tbsp Gruyére cheese (grated with a microplane)

Directions:

  1. Squeeze the juice out of the kimchi using your hands to make 1/2 cup of juice and then weigh out 100 grams of squeezed kimchi. Mince the kimchi.

  2. Pour the vegetable stock into a pot and bring to a simmer over high heat. Turn down to low to keep warm.

  3. In another pot, add the lard and garlic and saute until fragrant.

  4. Add the minced kimchi and continue sauteing until the kimchi is translucent.

  5. Add the rice and stir until the rice has evenly absorbed all the oil.

  6. Add the kimchi juice along with a ladleful of hot vegetable stock and stir the rice until most of the water has been absorbed.

  7. Continue adding vegetable stock a ladleful at a time and stirring until the rice is your desired consistency. You may not need all the stock.

  8. When the rice is done, add the grated Gruyère and stir into the risotto. Serve immediately.

I know, initially the idea sounded a bit peculiar. Swiss cheese with kimchi and sushi rice? But the combination of flavors go wonderfully within this dish, and though I've made risottos in the past, I've never tried a fusion recipe of this kind before. And the results were sublime, I'll tell you! One of my favorite dishes is risotto, which would make sense given I'm such a rice girl. But the creamy warm flavors delight my taste buds, as I'm sure they do yours. I love a mean, mushroom risotto, but this kimchi risotto certainly takes the cake! The flavors are really all there, you don't even need to add salt! 

I normally use arborio or baldo rice when it comes to making risotto, but I found sushi rice to be an interesting type of rice to use in this fusion recipe. Though this recipe is derived from here, I did a bit of my own tweaking in terms of measurements and the different use in rice. You could also try using a different form of kimchi, such as turnip/radish, which would still bring the acidity into the risotto. I'd love to give a zucchini kimchi a go, what do you guys think about the sounds of that? 

Here are a few tips to achieving the ultimate risotto: Number one - the broth you use to mix the risotto should be very heat, it better cooks down the rice giving it that smooth, creamy goodness that should be when making risotto. Number two - you can use lard instead of butter should you want a more rich flavor but I like to eat pretty healthy (not that butter is any healthier lol), should you not want to use butter at all, you can try making it with coconut oil! And lastly, when it comes to making your own risotto, try to live a little on the wild side. Mix up the flavors, try something you haven't tried before. Get creative. After all, that's part of the fun when it comes to cooking, am I right or am I right? :) 

LOVE & XX'S,

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Korean Coq Au Vin

Happy Friday and Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone! Kiss me, I'm Korean (and Polish)! ;)

In light of the 'blizzard' this week here in NYC, we got lucky. Expecting over 2 feet turned over to only about a foot and the conditions were mostly icy with frigid temps! I bet a lot of you are looking forward to spring just as much as I am! With a snow day on our hands midweek (seriously everything was closed, from schools to banks... even Starbucks!), I cooked up more of a fall/winter dish that I've been dying to make. A well known French dish, I also wanted to put a twist on it and created a Korean Coq au vin.  

Korean Coq Au Vin

Serves 2-4

photos + recipe by  Suzanne Spiegoski

photos + recipe by Suzanne Spiegoski

Ingredients:

24 to 30 pearl onions
4 chicken thighs and legs, or 1 (5 to 7-pound) stewing chicken
¼ to ½ c AP flour
2 Tbsp water
6 ounces bacon, chopped
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp butter
2 bottles red wine, preferably pinot noir or cabernet
2 Tbsp Gochujang
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, quartered
2 medium carrots, quartered
3 cloves garlic, crushed
6 to 8 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken stock

Directions:

Preheat oven to 245 degrees F.

Cut off the root end of each pearl onion and make an "x" with your knife in its place. Bring a pot of water to a boil and drop in the onions for 1 minute. Remove the onions. Allow them to cool, and then peel. You should be able to slide the onions right out of their skin. Set aside.

Sprinkle the chicken on all sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the chicken pieces, a few at a time, into a large sealable plastic bag along with the flour. Shake to coat all of the pieces of the chicken. Remove the chicken from the bag to a metal rack.

Add the 2 tablespoons of water to a large, 12-inch sauté pan over medium heat along with the bacon. Cover and cook until the water is gone, and then continue to cook until the bacon are golden brown and crispy, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the salt pork from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, using the remaining fat, add the pearl onions, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sauté until lightly brown, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the onions from the pan and set aside. Next, brown the chicken pieces on each side until golden brown, working in batches if necessary to not overcrowd the pan. Transfer the chicken into a 7 to 8-quart enameled cast iron Dutch oven.

Add the mushrooms to the same 12-inch sauté pan, adding the 1-tablespoon of butter if needed, and sauté until they give up their liquid, approximately 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Pour off any remaining fat and deglaze the pan with approximately 1 cup of the wine. Pour this into the Dutch oven along with the chicken stock, tomato paste, gochujang, quartered onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf. Add all of the remaining wine.

Place the chicken in the oven and cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the chicken is tender. Maintain a very gentle simmer and stir occasionally.

Once the chicken is done, remove it to a heatproof container, cover, and place it in the oven to keep warm. Strain the sauce in a colander and remove the carrots, onion, celery, thyme, garlic, and bay leaf. Return the sauce to the pot, place over medium heat, and reduce by 1/3. Depending on how much liquid you actually began with, this should take 20 to 45 minutes.

Once the sauce has thickened, add the pearl onions, mushrooms, and bacon and cook for another 15 minutes or until the heated through. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, remove from the heat, add the chicken and serve.

*Tips: If you want to do it overnight, just do everything up to putting the chicken in the oven. That part is for the next day :) The longer you marinate, the better the flavor! xo

Coq au vin is a French dish of chicken braised with wine, lardons, mushrooms, and optionally garlic. What are we talkin' bout here, optional?! I LOVE garlic so hell YES you best put those bad boys in with the rest of the ingredients! So what's the Korean twist? Kimchi? Nope. I used a spicy red pepper paste called gochujang. It's a staple paste in Korean cuisine and I thought the already-complex flavors would be killer-good in this dish. And with old school mashed potatoes? Oh YAY. 

What's the secret to the most delicious mashed potatoes of your life? Butter, milk, and salt. That's it. I make sure to really boil the bejeezus out of the potatoes and make sure they're Idaho! I feel like this is the starchiest potatoes and are perfect for mashing. I know I'm sure I've mentioned it before but you guys have no idea how much I LOVE mashed potatoes. I always tell people if I were deserted on an island and only had one choice of food to live off on, it'd be just that. And I'd die a happy woman. HA HA HA! BUTTTTTTT, (enter sad face) I've discovered after experimenting for a few months, that the more dairy products I consume, the more my skin breakouts! Also, did you know that eating more dairy also dries your scalp, leading to dandruff and other skin issues? A good substitute is chicken or vegetable broth, if you want to opt out on the milk in the potatoes.  

Stay tuned for a new post coming up on the blog featuring an amazing NYC-based ethical luxury handbag brand that I had the pleasure of working with! Can't wait to share with you guys our photo shoot! It snowed that day and we had lots of fun taking photos in the Financial District of Manhattan. Soon to come, have a great Friday, friends! For more recipes, check them down below. :)

LOVE & XX'S,

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Military Latte

NYFW is one day away and when it comes to maintaining the energy of a marathon runner, I've been drinking a whole lot of what's called a military latte. Originally created in Japan and then onto Chicago, I stumbled upon an article a couple of years back about the interesting coffee concoction.

Named for its camo-like surface, the drink is made up of a matcha latte, cocoa powder, espresso and vanilla syrup. I know sometimes it is made with white chocolate but since I'm trying to avoid sugar (I think it's the culprit behind my breakouts) I opted it out of the ingredients when it came to making my own version of it! 

I would love to be one of those cool people that can create latte art such as beautiful leaves, hearts, unicorns and more. They even do 3d art now which is so amazing! This is my first attempt at any kind of latte art and I have to say it's not all that bad! What do you guys think? I also used a larger matcha bowl for aesthetic purposes. The green brings a nice accent with the dusting of the matcha powder. 

Photos + recipe by © Suzanne Spiegoski

Photos + recipe by © Suzanne Spiegoski

Military Latte

Serves 1

(Matcha green tea latte, cocoa powder and espresso)

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons coffee/espresso.

1 1/2 tablespoons matcha green powder

12 ounces milk

1 tablespoon vanilla syrup

dash of cocoa powder

Directions:

  1. Mix espresso, matcha and vanilla syrup together.
  2. Add warm steamed milk.
  3. Sprinkle a dash of matcha and cocoa powder on top to decorate.

What's your energy booster as of late? Are you more of a coffee or a tea drinker? I love both which is why I had the idea to blend both worlds together, to begin with. You can definitely say my cooking is definitely focused on fusion cuisine! I can't wait to share more food content, but fashion week starts tomorrow so stay tuned for lot more content on that for the next couple of weeks! So much more to come, I can't WAIT to share with you what I'll be doing in the next couple of months! 

LOVE & XX'S,

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Matcha Popcorn with White Chocolate and Black Sesame Seeds

Happy October! My favorite month always starts off with a bang. Come the 1st day of October every year is my beautiful boy, MaQ's birthday! He is four years old today and officially a grown-up. He's still young at heart, but his demeanor is more calm nowadays. More gentleman-y. The hubby and I had plans for his birthday but unfortunately the New York weather is being extremely uncooperative, and will be raining for the next couple of days. All. Day. Long.  

photos + recipe by:  ©   Suzanne Spiegoski  

photos + recipe by: © Suzanne Spiegoski 

Matcha Popcorn with White Chocolate and Black Sesame Seeds

Ingredients:

4 ounces white chocolate chips

1/2 teaspoon Japanese matcha green tea

1/2 cup popcorn kernels, popped (about 8 cups popped)

Black sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Place white chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 15-second intervals, stirring between each one, until melted.

  2. Add matcha powder and stir until completely incorporated. Hello, green!

  3. Place the popcorn in a large bowl and drizzle with the white chocolate mixture, tossing as you go, until popcorn is evenly coated. Season with salt. Set popcorn in refrigerator until white-chocolate coating has firmed, about 10 minutes. Break up any clump and serve. Popcorn can be stored in the refrigerator overnight using Ziplock bag.

So you know what rainy days call for. Cooking times with Suz! :) Aside from MaQ's birthday being one of the reasons why I love October so much, I also am a big fan of Halloween. I decided to make 'Frankenstein' popcorn! This is matcha green tea incorporated into melted white chocolate and the best part, with the popcorn. Mmmmm... let's not forget the wonderful black sesame seeds. Its deep, rich flavor complements with the mild sweetness from the white chocolate, overall giving this dessert a well-balanced combination in taste. Tell me a kid who wouldn't want to try this popcorn - just look at that green color!  

Instead of venturing out in the rain for MaQ's birthday this weekend, we've postponed our plans and we'll be keeping it low key and just trying to recuperate from the crazy busy month we've had. The key is to try. ;) Everyone needs to recharge their batteries every now and then. I want to check out 'The People v. O.J. Simpson' TV show, munch on some 'Frankenstein' popcorn, nap, and munch down on more deliciousness I'll be cooking later. Chicken Jardinière anyone? Perfect for gloomy, dreary days like today.

Hope you have a nice weekend. Coming up Monday on the blog, I'll be sharing another outfit post featuring my most recent pieces of jewelry and a twist on the latest reverse/backwards shirt trend, where you any shirt that buttons down in the front; you switch it to the back. Playing a lot with masculine and feminine tones together lately. Stay tuned...

LOVE & XX'S,

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