Recreating My Favorite Hanger Steak in NYC

Steak Frites, Steak with Fries. Call it what you want, when I’m in the mood for some red meat this is the dish that I crave. More specifically, it’s the Hanger Steak from Cafe Mogador. It’s probably my favorite steak in NYC and I pretty much order it most times I’m there. It’s kind of crazy because compared to steakhouse prices this steak is cheap cheap cheap yet so satisfyingly yum. Ok, so I haven’t tasted every single Hanger Steak there is to taste in NYC but I’m just so happy with the steak at Mogador. I can’t bear the disappointment I might feel if I ordered it some place else and it just didn’t live up to my Mogador expectations. You know, that sinking feeling you get when you realize it’s just not going to be that special?

The steak at Cafe Mogador is typically served medium rare and comes pre-sliced with fried shallots, a delicious red wine sauce, french fries and watercress. The meat tender and full of red wine, earthy, charry goodness. Sometimes I get so sad when I rock up for dinner at Mogador and it’s not on the menu. I’ll always just double check with wait staff. “Are..Are you sure you’re not doing the hanger steak tonight?” Last year, Mogador opened up  up a second location in Williamsburg, nice and close to where I live. Maybe a little too close?

I’ve contemplated making Hanger Steak at home a couple of times but there was always something that prevented me from making it. I’d never heard of that cut of meat till I came to the states so it wasn’t the type of thing I felt comfortable asking the butcher for. Side note – apparently Hanger Steak is also called Butchers Steak because they’re known for keeping it for themselves. Thanks Wikipedia! One time I confidently walked up to the butcher and asked for it, only to be told “No Hanger Steak!” Maybe he had it all stashed away for himself that day? I’ve occasionally looked for the cut at the local supermarket and have never had any luck. But a couple of weeks ago I was delighted to stumble on lots of Hanger Steak cuts in the meat section in my local supermarket. “It’s a sign!” I thought and off I went, picking up all the ingredients I would need.

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Pancakes Good, Hotcakes Better – Bills Ricotta Hotcakes With Honeycomb Butter

It’s 7AM on December 29th, 2009 and I’ve just arrived in Sydney for the holidays. It’s an annual trip back to the homeland to visit and catch up with family and friends. Time to celebrate Channukah and Christmas and have a brief exchange of freezing cold New York City for some nice summer weather. I’ve gone through immigration, collected my luggage, and cleared customs. I’m exhausted after 24 hours of no sleep, rushed connecting flights and bad airplane food but I’m so happy to be back home with my loved ones. I enter the arrivals hall and I’m greeted by my mom and dad. Lots of hugs, kisses and a few tears are shed before we walk happily back to the car. “Are you sure about this?” My mum asks. “Yes. We’re doing it. We’re going to Bills.” And so that’s how it went. After hours on a plane it’s not the rest of my family I want to see. Not friends, not a bed or a refreshing shower. It’s Bills. Bills restaurant that is. I want my hotcakes and I want them immediately. I’m so grateful that my parents indulged me that day. It definitely makes for memorable moments. I also remember that cringe worthy moment where my proud mom introduced me to the head waiter, telling him all about how I came straight from the airport to Bills for breakfast. You gotta love your parents when they do stuff like that.

Bill Granger – owner of Bills restaurants has made quite a name for himself both in Australia and abroad. He’s famous for making breakfast an institution in Sydney. His simple meals like scrambled eggs loaded with sides, sweet corn fritters and oh yes ricotta hotcakes with honeycomb butter leave customers satisfied and wondering “how soon is too soon” for their next visit. He owns a number of restaurants in Sydney, Tokyo and London. He’s written a number of bestseller cookbooks and he’s also had his own cooking shows featured on LifestyleFood in Australia and The Cooking Channel here in the US. For more info you can check out his sites here and here.

From my opening story you can probably gather that for me, no visit to Sydney is complete without at least two separate visits to Bills. On one occasion I’m sure to order the sweet corn fritters (this will require a separate blog post) and on the other it’s time for ricotta hotcakes. On every occasion I find a way to sneak in one of their hot chocolates (another blog post needed for this too).

My favorite Bills location is Darlinghurst, the inner city suburb where I lived for many years. I actually used to avoid going to Bills, strangely enough when I lived as close as humanly possible to the restaurant. We’re talking a 30 second walk. Why? Because I thought it was too pretentious. There was no sign outside saying it was Bills restaurant. People just somehow knew that this was the place. . “Well I’m not going to some place if they don’t even have the decency to put a sign up saying who they are. They don’t even have a menu in the window. How will I know if I want to go in? What’s wrong with them?” Sometimes I want to give the me of 10 years ago a bit of a shake. “Stop overthinking it and enjoy the food!”, I would have said.

Here are some photos of Bills in Darlinghurst. It’s in a more quiet part of the neighborhood with tree lined streets. The restaurant fills up on the weekends with a good mix of locals and tourists. A line will form so I’d recommend getting their early to avoid disappointment.

Sydney (Australia for that matter) has a great breakfast cafe culture. Lots of cafes including Bills open nice and early in the morning. We’re talking 7:30AM People and we’re talking 7 days a week. None of this “Oh, we open for brunch at 11AM nonsense.” I know, I know. There are plenty of good cafes in New York and some even open up pretty early on the weekends. In fact, I just found one in Brooklyn called Seersucker that’s caught my eye and it opens at 8AM. I’m looking forward to trying it out and its been recommended by Ina Garten so it’s gotta be good. I just saw her mention it on the most recent Barefoot Contessa episode on the Food Network and she also gave them a shout out a while back on her blog. Ok time to cook some hotcakes.

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How to make Honeycomb

Honeycomb is a well known candy in Australia and in the UK. For many people it’s synonymous with a Crunchie or Violet Crumble chocolate bar. It’s not that popular here in the United States and most people don’t really know what it is or what it tastes like. It has a distinct almost burnt caramel flavor with a dry crunchy texture. Why do I like it? It’s an essential ingredient in the creation of Bills Ricotta Hotcakes with Honeycomb Butter. “Those hotcakes sound amazing.”, I hear you saying. Don’t worry, a blog post about those delicious hotcakes and said butter will arrive shortly. When I do get the urge for these hotcakes the inevitable question is “Where will I get the honeycomb from?” There are two options, each with  pros and cons.

Option 1 – Buy a bunch of crunchie bars from the nearby supermarket or specialty grocery store and “extract” the honeycomb by shaving off the chocolate with a knife. Side note: Just wanted to give a shout out to my local deli/cafe/food store called Depanneur  who stock crunchies. I’ve seen crunchies in lots of corner stores and supermarkets in New York these days. If you’re in NYC I’m confident that you can find it. Here are some photos of my handywork with Crunchie bars in the past.



  • PROS – Low risk and can be a time saver.
  • CONS – Waste of money plus these are chocolate bars so there’s a bit of effort involved in scraping off the outer chocolate layer to get what you’re after. Hmm, what would you do with all that delicious “unnecessary” chocolate I wonder? Now Bills recipe (for example) says that for a decadent treat why not use the crunchie bars as is but honestly it’s just too rich. Also, I want to re-create Bills dish. I don’t want chocolate honeycomb butter, I want honeycomb cutter.

Option 2 – Make it from scratch which is what this post is all about.

  • PROS – You have the satisfaction of knowing that you created all components of your dish from scratch and you have lots of spare honeycomb candy lying around.
  • CONS – High risk and multiple attempts may be necessary. Also, be careful when making your honeycomb. The sugar will get incredibly hot and will burn if not handled properly. Oh and your dentist is gonna hate you.

Ok. Let’s get cracking and make us some honeycomb.

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Not My Mother’s Shakshuka with Haloumi Cheese

Shakshuka shakshuka shakshuka! People go crazy for it these days!!!  “What the heck is Shakshuka?” you might be asking. It’s a delicious tomatoey (sometimes spicy) Middle Eastern egg dish that’s become very popular in Middle East inspired restaurants. In Hebrew it means “all mixed up”. Growing up in an Israeli household I had my fair share of Shakshuka. Not so much for breakfast/brunch which is when most people eat it but more-so for dinner on the weekends. Let me explain. You see, my mom is a great cook. She’s famous for putting together complete dinners in 30 minutes. She calls it a “marathon dinner” although really it’s more of a sprint dinner when you think of it. But anyway, enough making fun of my ESL parents! Back to the story! Where was I? Oh yes, she’s a great cook! But one thing I remember growing up was that she hated cooking on the weekends. The weekends were her days off, a time to relax especially on Sundays. Sunday dinner usually meant leftovers, Chinese take out, sometimes pizza and sometimes – not always, but sometimes – she would make us Shakshuka. Eggs for dinner? Why not! I have to warn you that what I prepared in my most recent Shakshuka culinary escapade is not quite like what we ate at home. We didn’t have a huge amount of spicy food growing up so it’s no wonder that the SmittenKitchen recipe I adapted (insert Haloumi cheese) has got a lot more kick to it.

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