Monday, June 30, 2008

Wafels & Dinges, coming to a coffee house near you?

Blondie and I were wandering the lower level of the Javits this afternoon in a food induced stupor when from an aisle away we noticed a familiar sign. Wafels & Dinges. Wafels & Dinges?! What was our favorite mobile purveyor of authentic Belgian waffles doing at the Fancy Food Show? Sure enough we found Chief Wafel Master, Thomas DeGeest in the booth and had a chance to sit down with him and find out what's new with Wafels & Dinges...

Chief Wafel Master, Thomas DeGeest with Wafel Iron Maker, Benny from Belgium

The biggest news is that Wafels & Dinges is expanding. While Mr. DeGeest said they aren't going to be adding more trucks, they are franchising the Wafels & Dinges waffle setup--irons crafted in Belgium, toppings, and of course, the authentic Belgian wafels. These setups are already operational in a few places in the tri-state area including The Bean Coffee and Tea (1st Avenue and 3rd Street and 6th Avenue and 11th Street) and Rockn Joe's (in Cranford, NJ and Westfield, NJ)and they are looking to partner with other coffeehouses.

Of course with expansion comes some trepidation and Mr. DeGeest admitted that as they grow there is, of course, the concern in terms of "maintaining the same quality," but it sounds like everything is going smoothly so far and if Wafels & Dinges is providing the whole setup and the real Belgian wafels, and creating the menus, it sounds like they are off to a good start. Looking at the menu from Rockn' Joe's the waffles are pricier than direct from the truck, but I'm assuming that you are having more of a sit down waffle experience than an eat on the run experience. New dinges of note at the partner retail locations include coconut flakes and walnuts. And the retail locations will also be serving exclusive waffle combinations

The Menu from Rockn Joe's

We already reported on the new-for-summer ice cream dinge and we were pleased to learn that the ice cream flavors vary and change daily. Mmm. It's hard to think of a flavor of ice cream that wouldn't pair nicely with a hot liege or brussels waffle. So if you aren't a vanilla ice cream fan, fear not and be sure to ask what the flavor of the day is.

Waffle with vanilla ice cream dinge

And for you lovers of the Savory Wafel with Flemish Four Cheese Sauce, it will be making a return when the weather gets cooler along with another savory wafel that I'm not at liberty to disclose--but take it from me, it sounds beyond delicious. Can't wait to try it come autumn.

I miss you Savory Waffle!

In other waffle related news, Wafels & Dinges has launched a line of packaged liege wafels and I was able to snag one at the show. I followed the instructions on the package and popped Liege Cinnamon Royal in my toaster oven for 5 minutes at 300 degrees and mmmm, suddenly my kitchen smelled like a wafflery. Yum. The packaged waffles are currently available at certain Garden of Eden stores in Manhattan and will be available at Fairway soon. You can also buy liege waffles and brussels waffles online on their site, but there is something about the convenience of being able to buy them in the store is appealing. Love those impulse purchases. And if you bring waffles home the dinge possibilities are endless. Mmmm. Endless dinges.

Packaged Waffle!

Looking forward to much more to come from Wafels & Dinges!

Wafels & Dinges
Find the Waffletruck on Twitter

Hi, My Name is Blondie, and I'm a Turophile.

Brownie's one too, but she has more self-control, so as we've been walking through the aisles at Fancy Food, I've eaten a piece off of almost every cheese plate while Brownie's only tasted a select few. I will tell you, it was the vast amount of cheese that made me go this year, especially considering that many of them don't come cheap, if you can find them at all. Onto the cheese....

There are the requisite pecorino romanos, parmesans, bries, bleus, and roqueforts, but that's not what I'm here for. I'm liking this "try different foods" kick I've been on. Within the last year and a half, it's been about trying goat cheeses, especially different fetas, and more pungent cheeses e.g. Saint Agur. The first cheese I found that stood out was Abbot's Gold from England.

It's a traditional cow's milk cheese, with the twist being the addition of carmelized onions. It gives it a wonderful sweet taste, along with the salty. I will definitely pick this up if I see it in the stores, as it would be a welcome appetizer or a delicious, to-die-for grilled cheese.

Close to the Abbot's Gold was another unique cheese from England, Sticky Toffee Cheese. This was another that combined the sweet with the salty, though I think this one is mainly best on a dessert cheese platter. I loved the addition of nuts and toffee flavoring. Toffee is not the biggest dessert in the US, and I think that's not a good thing.

By far, the best cheese I've had so far (so good I thought about it last night and had to go back for more today) was ALL the cheeses from Cypress Grove Chevre. First up, I tasted their Purple Haze (no, not that kind of Purple Haze!), a goat milk cheese made with lavender buds and fennel pollen. It tastes very earthy, the lavender and fennel pollen don't overwhelm the creamy, acidic taste from the goat's milk, and it all combined is a different flavor than what you're used to. I could easily imagine eating this as is, or perhaps melting some over pasta or adding it to a sandwich....

The next one we tried at Cypress Grove was the Truffle Tremor, another goat's milk cheese. This was a hands-down winner. The truffle flavor really plays on your umami taste buds (yes, I believe in umami), which compliments the salty. The cheese is very creamy, and it's another one I could see myself using 500 different ways.

We also loved the Bermuda Triangle goat cheese, the special feature being the unusual triangle shape. The shape makes it easier to cut off pieces for me to eat. Along with their Humboldt Fog, Lamb Chopper, and Midnight Moon, Brownie, Lawman, and I were quite taken with the work of their goats. And we will be saying hello again tomorrow, and eating more cheese, right Brownie?

Cypress Grove Chevre is based out of Arcata, CA, but if you see their cheese in your market, trust us and pick some up. Check out their website here.

The Fancy Food Show: Sunday, June 29th: Sweets and Treats

I lugged my not-so light laptop to the Javits for The Fancy Food Show yesterday, but to be honest the food was too delicious and too distracting. So much for live blogging... But back to the food. We came, we saw, we ate. A lot. I'm going to break down some of our favorites in mini posts to make it more manageable. First up, a sampling of sweets and treats...

Fruits de Saint Tropez from Neuhaus

I tried the pear and it was absolutely delicious and it's make with 70% real fruit pulp. These would make a beautiful summer hostess gift. Check them out at Booth 955.

Naturally Nora's All Natural Cake Mixes

Naturally Nora's in cupcake form

One of my favorite treats from the show were these delicious cakes from Naturally Nora. I spoke to Nora herself who said that she was inspired to make delicious boxed cakes by her daughter request for a Funfetti Cake. I love Funfetti, too, and I was please to see that these natural alternatives stacked up nicely. And with all natural ingredients, no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, and Non-hydrogenated oils, parents can feel good about making these cakes. Also they are dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free and Kosher! They are currently available in stores in NJ and in addition to adding online ordering in the future, they are working on getting wider distribution. Check them out at Booth 2842.

Serendipity 3's Frrrozen Hot Mint Chocolate

This was too icy for Blondie's liking, but I thought it was delicious and refreshing. Minty but not too minty. If you love frozen hot chocolate and can't get to the real Serendipity, this would be a good DYI alternative. Check them out at Booth 3253.

Two New Flavors from Peanut Butter and Company

I LOVE Peanut Butter and Company. It was a staple in my college years. And though I don't live in the village anymore I still swing by their restaurant for a sandwich now and then and to pick up a jar of peanut butter, of course! I was thrilled to taste these two new flavors. Mighty Maple, creamy peanut butter blended with maple syrup. I've had honey roasted peanuts, but never thought of maple with peanuts. The maple flavor was subtle and a nice accent. Bee's Knees was excellent, too. Love that honey and PB combo--just add bananas and you have an instant Elvis without the mess of drizzling the honey yourself! Two excellent new additions to the Peanut Butter and Company peanut butter line. Check them out at Booth 2156.

I have to run to meet Blondie for more Fancy Food, more sweets and treats (and savories!) to come.

In the meantime check out our Fancy Food Flickr Set

Revisiting Batch Bakery

I tried the cupcakes at Pichet Ong's bakery Batch when they first opened in March and I was an immediate fan. I've been thinking about those cupcakes ever since and have been tempted to go back on several occasions but I haven't had the chance. Until now...

Blondie and I have been discussing doing a cupcake mission with the lovely ladies from Cupcakes Take the Cake for awhile now and last Monday, we met up with Rachel and Nichelle at Batch to sample some more of their cupcake offerings.

They've expanded their cupcake menu considerably since my first visit when they only had: Lemon Lemon Lemon, Chocolate Dragon Devils' Food, Vanilla, and Coconut Green Tea Cupcakes. And I noticed that their frosting ratio has shifted a bit so their cupcakes are now more heavily frosted. Interesting. And when you make frosting that's as delicious as at Batch, the more the merrier!

Vanilla Cupcakes from back in March

Vanilla Cupcakes today

We chose an assortment of 6 cupcakes and dug right in. Here's what we tried:

Carrot Cupcake with Salted Caramel Frosting and
Banana Cupcake with Stracciatella Frosting

First up, the Carrot Cupcake with Salted Caramel Frosting. This was a moist and tasty Carrot Cake with a Cream Cheese Filling, and an out of this world Caramel Frosting topped with a wee pinch of Sea Salt. Incredible. Absolutely incredible. I love carrot cake and to have it in cupcake form (and topped with Salted Caramel frosting!) was heaven.

Next, the Baby Banana Cupcake, another winner, this cupcake was made with the sweet baby bananas which gave it a really nice and strong banana flavor. It was filled with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream Filling and topped with Stracciatella Frosting. So good. Again, banana is not a common cupcake flavor and I always love it when I can get it. Now I know where I'll be getting it from.

The Strawberry Coconut was a pleasant surprise as I'm not super wild about coconut in general. The frosting had a nice strawberry flavor and the coconut cake was good and moist. The Rhubarb Compote Filling filling was just sweet enough and complimented the cake and frosting very nicely. Definitely a tasty summery cupcake.

The Coconut Strawberry had candied lavender on top

Inside the Strawberry Coconut Cupcake

The Dragon's Devils' Food Cupcake got rave reviews all around and I have to say that I think it's improved over my first visit. This time the cake was denser and more chocolatey. It was nice to have the generous shmear of the super chocolatey frosting.

The Chocolate Cupcake with the Matcha Green tea frosting got mixed reviews from our group. Rachel wasn't a fan of the matcha. Blondie and I both felt that the flavor of the tea was a bit strong. While it's not the type of cupcake that I would probably order regularly, for me the apricot preserves in the center of the cupcake brought everything together. It was a nice burst of sweetness that balanced out the green tea and the chocolate.

Cutting into the Dragon's Devils Food Cupcake and the Matcha Green Cupcake

Inside the Dragon Devil's Food and Matcha Cupcake

In terms of the Lemon Lemon Lemon cupcake, I've haven't been shy about how much I like it. Still a winner to me, thought I have to say in terms of picking a favorite from this particular trip, it's a toss up between the Carrot Cupake and the Baby Banana Cupcake. So delicious!

In the end we were stuffed, happy, and ready to go when we noticed The Velvet cupcake in the case. Rachel had just recently visited Batch and told us of the wonders of The Velvet--a red velvet cupcake that gets its color from beet power and strawberries. I oooohed and ahhhhed over that cupcake and Blondie offered to treat me, but before she could, Betty, the pastry chef at both Batch and P*ONG, gave us one to try. Even though we were pretty full we had to try it! And I'm glad we did. It was filled with Chocolate Fudge and topped with sweet and delicious cream cheese frosting. It was terrific. I've never had a filled Red Velvet Cupcake before, it was the perfect way to end our cupake tasting.

The Velvet!

Inside The Velvet

Just writing about Batch is making me want to go back, and soon. All cupcakes are $2.95 and because of the summer heat they are kept chilled in the case, so you might want to let them warm up to room temp before enjoying them.

Check out all of my Batch photos here.

150b West 10th Street (between Waverly Place and Greenwich Avenue)
New York, NY 10014
(212) 929-0250
Open daily Noon-9PM

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Blondie's Libations: Park Slope Pub Crawl

AKA Blondie's failed attempts at scaring Park Slope mommies and their babes by shaking her ta-tas all over the place. Fun times, fun times. I am fortunate enough to have a good friend, Madras Man, in the Fun Committee, and last week the committee dictated that a pub crawl of Park Slope would be fun. Now let's watch as I lose the ability to take photos as the night progresses.

First our night started at O'Connors, a nice, outer borough, neighborhood bar, like the kind I grew up in. Nothing pretentious or out of the ordinary, and they had the added bonus of a backyard with a usable grill.

Next, the crawl moved onto Black Sheep, a little more cafe-esque. I'm wary to say trendy or upscale, it wasn't a dive or a lounge, but somewhere in the middle. They had a menu and a couple of unique brews, but the real bonus there was the free jukebox. I believe it was only in between certain hours, but getting to pick out your free music is definitely sweet. By this point I was hoping to run into the infamous Park Slope mommy and her babes, but surprisingly enough, there were no strollers to be had.

We strolled further down 5th Avenue and landed in Voodoo Lounge, a sports bar for the Park Slope crowd. This had the requisite flat screen TVs needed for a sports bar, but their unique touch is the little basketballs at the bottom of the pint glasses. Side note: the bartenders at these first three places were all very welcoming to our crowd.

Next up was the big kahuna, the one we've all been waiting for, Union Hall. I had heard many, many things about Union Hall, some good, some not so good, but it is the apex of Park Slopeness complete with indoor bocce. Let's think for a minute, bocce is supposed to be played by 80 year old Italian men, during the day, in a park. Not by drunken girls, in heels and a dress where her ta-tas can easily come out to say hello. That being said, the food was good for bar fare, except for the beer cheese; ix-nay on the beer cheese. The meat in the sliders was quite good, not prepackaged, frozen meat, but fresh and flavorful. The service was a little lacking since the waitress forgot to bring me my drink; apparently she couldn't figure out that I had gotten up to play bocce, granted she was very overwhelmed with a crowd.

I swear to you that this photo and its accompanying one (on our Flickr) was in focus when I took it. My camera must have somehow made it out of focus in the night. Swear to you. We did have a good time at Union Hall, regardless of the Dewey Decimator and I losing to another member of the Fun Committee, Colt 45. Afterwards, I ran across the street to Uncle Louie G's and had the Peanut Butter Cookie ice cream and it was everything I hoped it would be, from what I remember.

Moving on further down 5th Avenue, we came to The Gate, which was very crowded, inside and out on the deck. They had a wide selection of brews on tap and, I believe, they rotate them regularly. The one I had didn't strike my fancy, but Dewey Decimator liked hers. Interestingly enough, I still had yet to run into a Park Slope, child-toting mommy, and it wasn't looking good.

Last on the Park Slope side of the night, we headed to Bar Reis. This place was confusing for a drunk person. First, you walk in a there is a very tiny bar. You think "is this it?" but no, it's not. You walk through small doorways and down stairs and through weird hallways and you come across a back garden and a pool table room with a working jukebox. And then you and random motley crew sit at a table, are forgotten about by your friends in the front of the bar, and they leave your asses there to fend for yourselves. Next thing you know, you're on 14th street at 1:30 in the morning wondering "Why is there always a line at Artichoke?!"

O'Connor's Pub
39 5th Avenue
(718) 783-9721

Black Sheep Pub
428 Bergen Street
(718) 638-1109

Voodoo Sports Lounge
138 Fifth Avenue (near St. Johns Place)
(718) 399-3206

Union Hall (not to be confused with Union Pool, that's in Williamsburg)
702 Union Street @ 5th Avenue
(718) 638-4400

Uncle Louie G's

741 Union Street
(718) 623-6668‎

The Gate

321 5th Avenue
(718) 768-4329

Bar Reis
375 5th Avenue
(718) 832-5716


Fancy Food Time!

Blondie and I are off to the Fancy Food Show! We're hoping to do some live blogging this afternoon so stay tuned...



Daring Bakers June Challenge: Danish Braid!

Last month I proudly joined the ranks of the Daring Bakers by conquering the Opera Cake. Joconde, glaze, buttercream, mousse--yes, mousse, and more glaze. It might not have been the loveliest Opera Cake in the history of Opera Cakes, but it was lovely to me. To be honest after making the Opera Cake I was feeling pretty darn good about my baking skills. Then I saw the recipe for June...

A Danish Braid. A laminated dough. Yeast! So much butter. So much rolling! Eeeeek! Could I do it? Yes! A few missteps aside, Blondie and I put together a tasty Strawberry Rhubarb braid for my day for Father's Day.

With the recipe alone this is going to be a long post, so I'm going to try to keep my commentary to the highlights...

Like many of the Daring Baker recipes, this one is a bit terrifying on first read, but after going through it like twenty times, it doesn't seem quite so bad. Just be sure you have all of your ingredients prepared and have allocated enough time for this project. I made the dough at night and prepared the braid the next day. You could do it in one day, but if you want it for breakfast you'd have to get up pretty darn early in the morning to prepare the dough, turn it several times over the course of 2 hours, let is chill for at least 5 hours, let it rise for 2 hours, then bake it. Pretty darn early in the morning indeed.

The hosts of the challenge suggested using seasonal fruit which was perfect because on our CT sojourn, Blondie and I did some strawberry picking at Lyman Orchards. After we filled quart after quart with strawberries we picked up some rhubarb in the farmers market and headed home to make jam and danish filling.

Alas, the jam was not to be. The strawberries though they looked red and rip and delicious pretty much had no flavor whatsoever. I don't know if it was a function of the amount of rain or the variety of strawberries--they usually have signs posted with the variety, but they didn't when we went, but these strawberries didn't have the wonderful fresh taste that I was looking for. Sigh. They weren't even any better than "meh" industrially grown California strawberries trucked to the East Coast in February. So disappointing.

It was slim pickins--Even the deep red berries tasted blah

Well, if there wasn't any jam we figured that the rhubarb might give the strawberries some oomph, so we added a couple cups of chopped rhubarb to a quart of strawberries and tossed in a bit of vanilla, some orange juice and sugar to taste and cooked ourselves up a strawberry filling that was pretty darn good.

Making the filling

Now it was time to make the dough and here's the recipe:


Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

For the dough (Detrempe)
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed. Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well. Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Without a standing mixer: Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well. Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain. Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even. Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain. With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges. When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes. You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.

1. Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.
2. After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
4. Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Suggested Filling:
Makes enough for two braids

4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 - 8 minutes. Then add the apple mixture and sauté until apples are softened and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes. If you’ve chosen Fujis, the apples will be caramelized, but have still retained their shape. Pour the cooked apples onto a baking sheet to cool completely before forming the braid. (If making ahead, cool to room temperature, seal, and refrigerate.) They will cool faster when spread in a thin layer over the surface of the sheet. After they have cooled, the filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Left over filling can be used as an ice cream topping, for muffins, cheesecake, or other pastries.

Makes enough for 2 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see below)

For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again. Place the dough on the baking sheet.
2. Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
3. Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle. Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling. This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.

Egg Wash
Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.

Proofing and Baking
1. Spray cooking oil (Pam…) onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.
2. Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
3. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown. Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature. The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.

Everything went well with preparing the dough. Adding the butter block and rolling the dough out was actually fun. When it came time for the braid that was another story. I saw that the recipe makes 2 braids so I halved the dough, but I must have been slightly off because I couldn't quite get the dough to roll out to the right proportions. I adjusted the size of the slits accordingly and carried on, but as I was getting to the filling part, my time was running short and I had to run to Church with my mom. Uh oh. Blondie took the reins and when I returned home, I saw a beautiful braid waiting for me on the counter. Apparently I missed the part where the braid stuck to the counter because I forgot to flour my work surface and the filling oozed out everywhere and my dad came in to try to help but made it worst and told Blondie, it was my mess anyway so she should leave it for me to clean up. Fortunately Blondie's not that kind of girl and had she and my dad not each told me their side of the story I honestly wouldn't have known that the braid was really twice braided.

I never would have known...

From there out everything was a snap. We had a very, very late brunch (even with making the dough the night before, you still have to get up pretty early in the morning to serve this for breakfast), but the danish was a hit and my dad was impressed.

Baking the braid

Fresh out of the oven!

Closeup of Blondie's braiding action

Inside the braid

Tastes great with ice cream!

This was a great challenge that stretched my skills as a baker. I still have half my dough in the freezer, I brought it home from CT on blue ice. I'm thinking of making some danish pastries with it. Special thanks to this month's hosts, Kelly at Sass and Veracity and Ben at What's Cooking? for all of their support!

For more gorgeous and amazing Danish Braids be sure to check out the Daring Baking Blogroll.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Me Have Crazy Times in 70s and 80s. Me Was Robert Downey Jr of Cookies...

This week thanks to Adam Kuban's Cookie Monster post on Serious Eats this week, I got to see this gem of an interview I missed on the Colbert Report. As an impressionable child I witnessed much of these crazed cookie munching antics, and I loved Cookie for it. It pains me to hear Cookie Monster plugging fruit. Through the wonders of YouTube, I dug up a couple clips of Cookie in his prime; a little song and dance number called Me Lost Me Cookie at the Disco and as a bonus, Cookie's tribute to Shaft...

That's more like it. Did you catch the freaky Elmo-ish Red Monster getting his groove on? This clip is sort of like "Before they Were Stars." That's is in fact Elmo before he took over the ENTIRE show relegating the real Sesame Street luminaries to the back burnerdom promoting fruity vegetables. No, I'm not bitter.

Stay strong, Cookie! Keep om nom noming!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Rising food costs: What's the Dealio at Woorijip?

Yes, I used dealio and the word should probably be banned from my vocabulary, but seriously what's up with the food at Woorijip...

Let's back up a bit...Woorijip is my go-to cheap Korean place in K-Town. I love their spicy pork. So good. I mean, how could you not love a dish that looks like this....

Spicy Pork

Yeah, that's what I thought. Anyway, I'm a pretty frequent customer. I've gone through multiple frequent buyer cards and lost a few along the way. And when the food is so delicious and cheap it takes a while to collect stamps.

Now I haven't been to Woorijip in a while, but when I went earlier this month I noticed a couple changes with the food that may be indicative of Woorijip coping with the the rising costs of food.

Back to the spicy used to be able to get an ample container of spicy pork and only spicy pork for $5. And then I would buy a separate container of brown rice as my nod to healthy eating. Unfortunately I was hungry and I didn't properly document my pork dinner, but if you examine the lower left hand quadrant you'll notice there is rice in this container. The spicy pork is still $5 but now resting on a bed of rice!

Now this was just one visit, so maybe it was a random occurrence. But I did notice that the ratio of faux crab to avocado in their California roll was favoring the avocado even more than usual. You never really got much faux crab, but this amount of avocado really stood out to me.

The Kimchi Pancake was ample and delicious as usual.

I still have much love for Woorijip and these changes won't keep me away, but I have some questions to readers out there. 1) if you go to Woorijip have you noticed differences in prices and/or food portions/proportions? And 2)as a consumer would you rather a restaurant raise the price on a dish or alter the ingredients slightly to keep the price the same?

12 W 32nd St, New York 10001
Between 5th Ave & Broadway