Monday, March 5, 2012


Empellon Cocina is an upscale nuveau Mexican food that emanates haute cuisine with flavors of Mexico.  The ambiance is definitely trendy and the music is definitely rock and hip.  Chef Alex Stupak formerly from Alinea and WD-50 is the chef and founder of this new upscale restaurant located in the East Village. The ingredients are definitely Mexican integrated with elements of high culinary arts.

The dishes are meant to be shared (tapas style) and the suggestion is to have 5-6 dishes for 2.

Below:  A brief video to establish the sounds from this restaurant:

Here are the dishes we tried:
Grilled mini carrots with mole sauce
Left:  Ruby Red Shrimp with crispy masa, sea urchin (uni) mousse and lettuces.  This has a very delicate flavor.  The sea urchin mousse is at the bottom.

On the right is a gordita dish.  As you can see, it's not your average version.

(Kol - Yucatan style white sauce)
THIS WAS OUR FAVORITE.  It reminds me of a quesadilla since you have to scoop
the cheesy sauce into your freshly made tortillas.

Pictured on the left:  Squid with heirloom potatoes, chorizo, mayonnaise and black mole.  (Their mole is made with chilliuacle negro plus 29 other ingredients)

LAMB SWEET BREAD served with chorizos (their version).
Another favorite of ours that we highly recommend to order.

And to conclude our dinner, for dessert, we chose the Vanilla Marquesote above.  It was served with paper thin slices of caramelized dry oranges, Pilloncillo cafe con leche ice cream.  It's a "vanilla" cake based dessert.  The crumbly thing you see is like crushed toasted buttered-sugar granola.  (It probably isn't but if I were to make my version of this dessert that's what I'd do - sort of a knock-off copy of the dessert?).

Empellon Cocina
105 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003


Actually, this should really be called - the salad dressing.  But because I used it with spinach, I've called this the spinach salad recipe.

Since the avocado is healthy for you, I've decided to make this spinach salad with avocado.  It's easy and you can make it your main lunch.  This serves 2 side dish salads or 1 main course salad.

3 cups baby spinach cleaned
1 Avocado
1/4 c blue cheese or creamy ranch dressing
2 TB crumbled feta cheese
1 clove garlic
2 TB mayonnaise
2 TB buttermilk
1-2 slices of cooked bacon chopped (preferrably sodium nitrate free)

Combine the dressing, garlic, mayonnaise and buttermilk with the garlic pressed over the mixture in a small bowl or large cup.  Set aside until ready to use.

When ready, place the spinach on a serving bowl (individual), top with slices of avocado and feta cheese.  Sprinkle the bacon on top.  Spoon the dressing over and serve.

Easy for lunch, or dinner.  You can use the dressing for a cob salad.  Simply add some hard boiled egg slices, chopped lettuce, some defrosted corn kernels if you don't have a fresh one.  For a main meal, you can add cooked shrimp or pieces of left over roast or boiled chicken.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


My secret to a good guacamole is to leave it chunky.  But here are some secrets I would like to share.

1 Avocado
1/4 minced onion
1/2 medium size ripe tomato (squeeze the juice and seeds out - that's the secret) minced
1 lime (warmed in microwave so you can juice it easier)\
1 Jalapeno pepper (seeded and minced)
1/2 c cilantro leaves (mince after measuring removing the heavier stems)
1-1/2 tsp Fleur de sel

Shown on left hand side is the salad chopper I used.  It's a very useful gadget for chopping your salad.  And if you have ever been to a place that makes chopped salad, this is what they use.  You can find it on the right had side of the screen if you search for salad chopper.
Make sure you squeeze off the juice from the tomato so your guacamole does not get soggy.  Mince all the ingredients prior to adding in the avocado.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl and cut them up with the gadget similar to what I'm using.  That gadget can be used also making chopped salad!

The above recipe makes a good appetizer for 2.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


It's March! Seafood on Fridays. Which makes me remember my trip to Spain where I experience how they celebrate Holy Week.
This was taken in Seville, Spain, as the parade for Holy Week began.
Spain celebrates Holy Week, also known as Semana Santa more so than most European countries. There are street processions usually commencing at 3PM.  People carry statues of Saints on floats and platforms as shown above.
In processions, we observed marchers wearing attires that depict people from Nazareth, although it reminded us more of something else.
Because it's that time of the year again, I decided to make a seafood dinner I enjoyed while in Spain.  It's like a seafood paella with squid ink

2 lbs small squid cleaned
6 TB olive oil
1 onion, chopped
5 whole canned tomatoes, drained and cut into small pieces
2 peppers, red and green, chopped
400 grams (2-1/2 c arborio rice or any rice)
1 litter water or stock
1tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 TB of squid ink (available in packets or bottles from Italian or Spanish specialty stores) mixed with
50 ml Sherry
1/2 lb cooked prawns or shrimp and mussels

3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt
100 ml oil

If squid is small, leave them whole.  Otherwise cut them up.

Heat the oil in a pot or a wok.  Saute the onions and peppers.  When onions turn translucent, add the squid a fry for around 3-5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes; then add the 100 ml water or stock and cook for 20 minutes more till liquid is reduced.

Add the rice the 3/4 litter of water, sherry-squid ink mixture, salt, and cayenne pepper.  Stir rice well and simmer stirring from time to time so the mixture does not stick in the pan.  Cook for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the 3 cloves of garlic and 1/2 tsp salt in a mortar and pestle.  Crush the garlic well till blended pouring the olive oil slowly.

Garnish the squid-rice mixture with cooked shrimp and mussels.
Spoon some garlic sauce drizzled on top and serve the rest in a separate bowl.

We ate this with micro green salad.  made with pea shoots, micro arugula, micro red amaranth, micro scallion, and sliced radicchio. I used a pomegranate vinegar with olive oil seasoned with Fleur-de-sel and freshly ground black pepper.
When I was in Spain, we bought a traditional Easter bread.

Above, is the traditional Easter bread I bought which I brought back home.  It was delicious!