Westchester Eats

Our just-like-Bubbe’s rugelach taste test, the time’s right to eat those winter veggies, sublime citrus desserts, and more.



Westchester Eats

 

Fry One on for Hanukkah

Luscious latkes and delectable jelly doughnuts 

 

 

 You don’t have to be Jewish to love latkes (potato pancakes) and jelly doughnuts, two favorite Hanukkah foods. Having a low cholesterol level, though, might be a plus, as both of these traditional treats are fried in oil as a symbolic reminder of the oil that lasted eight days during the rededication of the ancient temple in Jerusalem. So, yes, Festival of Lights treats are anything but light—but they are scrumptious, so eat, Bubbelah, eat! It’s the holiday.

 

No time to peel pounds of spuds or deep-fry up dozens of doughnuts? Local gourmands swear by these shops for traditional treats as yummy tasting as Bubbe’s own.

 

Latkes

 

THE PERENNIAL CHEF

25 Depot Plz, Bedford Hills

(914) 666-6523

Available in both traditional potato and sweet-potato varieties, these moist-on-the-inside and crisp-on-the-outside latkes are lightly fried in canola and olive oil, and sell for $1 each. Serve with their housemade cardamom-flavored apple sauce, made from fresh local Granny Smith apples ($7.95 a pint), and watch ’em disappear faster than a spin of the dreidel.

 

STANDING ROOM ONLY

1491 Weaver St, Scarsdale

(914) 472-3002

Chef Daniel Trivino has perfected these traditional potato pancakes over the 16 years he’s been frying them up at Standing Room Only. Traditional mini-size potato pancakes are $12 a dozen; the mini-zucchini with sweet basil and the sweet-potato varieties are $14 a dozen; larger pancakes, available only in the traditional potato variety, sell for $16 a dozen. Serve with their famous, slightly chunky, sugar-free homemade applesauce ($10 a pint) made from orchard-fresh Red Delicious apples, depending upon availability—and sit back and enjoy the compliments. 

 

SUSAN LAWRENCE GOURMET FOODS

26 N Greeley Ave, Chappaqua

(914) 238-8833

The reason these taste just like Bubbe’s? They’re made according to chef/owner Mark Kramer’s own mother’s recipe, brought with her from Russia. “No one makes better potato pancakes than my mom,” Kramer says. “They’re not the paper-thin lacy types because we found that those don’t reheat very well. Ours are the traditional thicker latkes, soft inside but with a beautiful thin golden-brown crust.” Fried in canola oil, they cost $1 each. Pair with their house-made applesauce ($6.95 a pint) made from local, just-picked Golden Heirloom or Blush apples, and then sit back and kvell as the kinder scarf  ’em down.

 

Jelly Doughnuts

 

LA TULIPE DESSERTS

455 Lexington Ave, Mount Kisco

(914) 242-4555

Bursting with luscious house-made apricot or raspberry preserves, La Tulipe’s beignets (jelly doughnuts) are fried in organic oil and then lightly dusted with sugar, according to an old Dutch family recipe from co-owner Maarten Steenman’s father, a teacher at Holland’s famed Culinary Institute. Made fresh on Saturday and Sunday only, they’re priced at $2.75 each.

 

TOPPS BAKERY

106 Pondfield Rd, Bronxville

(914) 337-4258

Number-one winner of Westchester Magazine’s own blind test taste, these beauties won rave reviews for both looking and tasting positively scrumptious. The secret to Topps’ jelly doughnuts coming out on top? An
80-plus-year-old recipe that calls for using  real butter and delicious black-raspberry preserves. Dusted with powdered sugar or a sugar-
and-cinnamon mixture, the mini-sized doughnuts sell for 75 cents each and the full-sized ones for $1.25 each.

 

WHITE PLAINS BAKE SHOPPE

466 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains

(914) 997-8179

Jewish foodies turn to this longtime Kosher bakery for these tasty traditional treats filled with black-raspberry preserves and dusted with cinnamon sugar. Sporting a distinctive slightly rectangular shape, they’re a dollar each.

—Laurie Yarnell

 

When Life Gives You Lemons Make...Dessert

Just when local apples are getting tired, bright lemony desserts come into season, lifting our spirits by bringing the sun to us.

 

  At The Heights Bistro & Bar (334 Underhill Ave, Yorktown Heights 914-962-3777; www.theheightsbistro.com) Chef Dave Shakin is serving a fragrant steamed lemon pudding tart in a phyllo crust ($6.25). “The filling is lighter than lemon curd,” he says, “and citrus is so refreshing.”

 

At Stoneleigh Creek’s new Armonk location (1 Kent Pl, Armonk 914-276-0000; www.stoneleighcreek.com), lemon custard fills a cookie-crusted tart and is napped with raspberry sauce, creating a cheery color scheme and flavors for a chilly season ($7.50).

 

 

At Morgans Fish House (22 Elm Pl, Rye 914-921-8190; www.morgansfishhouse.com), Mark Filippo is perfecting a light citrus trio: a lemon parfait and citrus (lemon-orange-lime) pound cake with a yogurt sorbet ($9).

 

Pastry chef Elizabeth Lilley at Woody’s on Main (251 E Main St, Mount Kisco 914-242-5151; www.woodysonmainmtkisco.com) changes her dessert menu about every three months. She’ll be swapping her popular Key lime tart ($8) for a sunny lemon tart this winter ($8).

 

Sterling Smith, chef/owner of The Sterling Inn (1279 North Ave, New Rochelle 914-636-2400; www.thesterlinginnny.com) is excited about Buddha’s Hand, a highly perfumed citrus from Japan and China that is almost all thick rind. The zest balances the rich chocolate in his opulent chocolate soufflé crêpe, a “half-moon pillow” of fluffy chocolate, also garnished with candied grapefruit and orange rinds ($9).

 

BLT Steak at The Ritz-Carlton Westchester (221 Main St, White Plains, no phone as of press time, www.bltsteak.com) riffs on the diner classic with a lemon-cassis meringue pie, delicate and decadent at once ($10).

 

At Valley Restaurant at The Garrison (2015 Rte 9, Garrison 845-424-2339; www.thegarrison.com), Pastry Chef Laura Di Giorno rearranges your grandma’s best lemon-poppy seed cake for the winter menu. Creamy, cool poppy-seed ice cream melts down cozily around a soft, warm lemon-buttermilk cake ($9).                                           

 —Judith Hausman

 

 

Dead-Of-Winter Veggies

 

A rundown of which vegetables rule  when the days are short and the nights are cold. 

 

By Judith Hausman

 

 

1. Fennel. The licorice-y seeds are used like caraway seeds on breads but the tightly strapped and pale green vegetable is milder. It can be served raw or braise it in broth and top with Parmesan.

How to pick: Choose firm, smaller bulbs with perky fronds and trim away thicker outer pieces.

Where to try: Med 15°/35° (Rye Brook 914-934-2550; www.med1535.com): Chef Roland Coulombe’s branzino with fennel-parsley sauce.

 

 

2. Kale. There are several varieties but all are full of Omega-3s, calcium, and antioxidants. Braise with plenty of garlic and olive oil and then cook kale slowly in broth.

How to pick: Pull the leaves away from the thick center stem, rinse well, and allow plenty of cooking time. Note: this is not the decorative kale sold at nurseries.

Where to try: Docas (Ossining
914-944-9205) and other Portuguese restaurants.

 

 

3. Kohlrabi. This smooth, round,
light-green ball with leafy stems is widely eaten in Europe. Kohlrabi is mildly flavored and fine simply trimmed and sliced raw or cooked in a stew. Try it also in a vegetable curry with pumpkin and potatoes or just steamed through and mashed with some butter.

How to pick:  Choose smaller, tender bulbs. Trim the small leaves and peel.

Where to try: Look for it in German restaurants. Chef Dieter Schramm of Jennifer’s (715 Saw Mill River Rd, Yorktown Heights 914-962-4298; www.jennifersmenu.com) says he loves it and cooks it at home. At the restaurant, though, “people wouldn’t know what kohlrabi was” and “they’d probably leave it on the plate.”

 

4. Jerusalem artichokes. (aka sunchokes). Also very nutritious, sunchokes have a delicate, almost sweet and nut-like flavor. They can be stir-fried, sautéed, braised with lamb and lentils, roasted with chicken, or steamed.

How to pick: Choose the smoothest, firmest sunchokes. 

Where to try: Monteverde at Oldstone Manor (Cortlandt Manor 914-739-5000; www.monteverderestaurant.com): Chef Neil Ferguson is serving a killer sunchoke velouté with wild mushrooms and hazelnut shavings.

 

 

 

5. Leeks. in europe, leeks are as common as onions but milder in flavor. Try a gratin of leeks, layered with thinly sliced Yukon Gold potatoes, surrounded mostly with broth plus a measure of cream to taste. Top with Parmesan
or chevre in the last 10 minutes in the oven.

How to prepare: Discard tough, dark green tops and outer leaves, slit the white and light-green column almost through, and rinse well.

     Where to try: The Heights Bistro & Bar (Yorktown Heights 914-962-3777; www.theheightsbistro.com): mushroom-and-leek strudel

 

 

6. Salsify. This strange root, either black or pale golden, has a flavor similar to artichoke hearts. Cook and mash plain or slice and sauté with apples for a winter side dish. Season with chives and parsley.

How to prepare: Remove the tops and thin skin with a carrot peeler.

    Where to try: Plates (Larchmont 914-834-1244; www.platesonthepark.com) serves sea scallops with parsley vinaigrette with black trumpet mushrooms, vanilla foam, and salsify.

 

 

7. Celeriac or celery root. This bumpy brown-skinned root looks for-midable but tastes great. Celeri remoulade is made with this vegetable, not the stalky, green celery. Peel it and push it through the julienne blade of your food processor, then sauté it until soft. Dress with a “doctored” lemon-caper mayonnaise sauce, and serve cold. Or, braise it in a stew or try mashed instead of potatoes.

How to pick: Choose small ones.

Where to try: Frodo’s (Pleasantville 914-747-4646; www.tastethemagic.com) serves seared sea scallops with celery-root pancake and caramelized winter vegetables.

 

 

Short Order

 

Daniel A Rubino Jr, a former chef/owner of both Café Mirage and Tamarind in Port Chester, is the partner and executive chef at the recently opened Brio Mediterranean (353 N Bedford Rd, Mount Kisco 914-241-2447; www.brioristorante.com). The 200-seat restaurant features cuisine from Morocco, Southern France, Spain, and Italy. Open every day for dinner and from Monday to Saturday for lunch, main entrées cost from $24 to $39. Also offered is a small-plates “meze” menu ($9 to $22)…

 

Frank’s Steaks (275 S Ridge St, Rye Brook 914-305-4445; www.frankssteaks.com) has opened in the space that previously housed the Northern Italian restaurant Eclisse. Open every day for dinner and weekdays for lunch; the average price of a dinner entrée is $28…

 

Serving lunch weekdays and dinner Monday to Saturday is the City Chow House (One Radisson Plz, New Rochelle 914-576-3700; www.radisson.com), the new American Bistro in the Radisson Hotel that replaces Zen Tango. Main dishes, including lemon chicken, grilled salmon in a meso-orange-sesame dressing, and a 12-ounce prime double-cut filet mignon, cost from $16 to $32.50…

 

A new barbecue menu is now being offered by Chef Jay Lippin at Mighty Joe Young’s (610 W Hartsdale Ave, White Plains 914-428-6868; www.mightyjoeyoungs.com). Selections include antelope chili, wild boar quesadilla, dry-rub sage barbecue ribs, barbecue organic chicken, and a pulled-pork sandwich. Most items range between $9 and $21…

 

What do you get when you cross a Russian blini and a French crêpe? A crepini, according to Pound Ridge husband-and-wife Eric Shkolnik and Paula Rimer, the owners of the new gourmet e-commerce food site Crêpini Café (914-533-6645; www.crepinicafe.com). A crepini costs  $7 to $13.50 for a box of six..

 

Want to experience the cuisine at the newly opened BLT Steak (Ritz Carlton, Westchester, 221 Main St, White Plains 914-467-5500; www.bltsteakrestaurants.com) but don’t feel like going broke? One solution: purchase Bistro Laurent Tourondel: New American Bistro Cooking ($34.95)...

 

Captain Lawrence Brewing Company (99 Castleton St, Pleasantville 914-741-2337; www.captainlawrence brewing.com) won a gold medal at the 2007 Great American Beer Festival Competition held at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. The winning brew was the Cuvee de Castleton, a mix of golden ale and Muscat grapes aged in oak barrels for approximately a year.  

 

Cheapskates Corner

 

There’s a good reason Westchester Magazine chose the $15.95 three-course lunch prix-fixe at Stoneleigh Creek (1 Kent Pl, Armonk 914-276-0000; www.stoneleighcreek.com) as the Best Prix-Fixe Meal in our 2004  “Best Of” issue. It’s a tremendous value. 

 

 

“There’s a lower profit on prix-fixe meals,” says owner Alex Rubeo. “But it’s a way to get people in. And also to get them to come back for dinner.”

 

He adds: “The portions are slightly smaller but otherwise the prix-fixe dishes are the same as those on the dinner menu.” Ordering the same three-course meal at dinner would cost you more than double the prix-fixe price.

 

Stoneleigh Creek is in a new 2,200-square-foot location, having moved in August from an 800-square-foot spot in Croton Falls.  “The former place was held together by Band-Aids. We’re happy to be somewhere where nothing’s broken.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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