Good Beer Month's been passing me by, but there's at least one exciting event left to get my good beer and good food on: tonight at BAM aka Brooklyn Academy of Music. At least 22 of New York's finest eateries are matching up some of their delicious food with some great beer. And it's all for just 40 doubloons. Sweet!
A couple weekends ago I went for the Sneaky Pete--3 poached eggs over spicy garlic bread topped with jack, bacon, tomato and scallions. Yeah, it's just as freaking delicious as you'd imagine it would be. What isn't made better when served over spicy garlic bread?
Shopsin's Essex Street Market 120 Essex Street New York, NY 10002 jump
Moving to Greenpoint has meant many walks down Bedford Avenue to the L stop, especially on weekends when the G train ceases to exist. I usually don't mind the walk: it's exercise, I like to hipster watch, and it almost always means passing the Bedford Van Leeuwen truck. And this past weekend I spied not one, but two new flavors: palm sugar and cherry chocolate chip.
Until Saturday, I had no idea palm sugar existed and now I'm hooked. Palm sugar, a regular ingredient in Southeast Asian cooking, is what's left when the sap of sugar palm tree has been boiled and allowed to crystallize. Apparently it's the sweetener du jour: Serious Eats discovered it last November, and even the WiseGeeks are asking about it. While I can't tell you what real, uncut (with white sugar) palm sugar tastes like, I can tell you about Van Leeuwen's ice cream. Though mine was bit melted, its taste has a bit of the tree sugar taste of maple syrup mixed with dark brown sugar mixed with golden syrup. Sweet, but not sugary, an almost earthy, old-fashioned kind of sweetness. I'm definitely a fan.
In honor of the Season 4 premiere of Mad Men, I decided to make some cupcakes. Of course I managed to pick one of the hottest days this summer to do it in my basically unairconditioned apartment. So pardon if the results are a little melty...
If I was going to make the main mad men of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, there was no way I could leave out Joan. The poor dear didn't do as well in the heat as the others (neither did Roger for that matter--maybe they really do belong together).
My favorite was Bert Cooper. He's just so darn adorable and fun to render in cupcake form. Don didn't turn out too badly either. I couldn't resist adding in a little 5 o'clock shadow.
Sorry Pete and Peggy fans, it was too darn hot to make any more Mad Men. Maybe for the finale when the weather is a wee bit cooler.
Tune in to AMC this Sunday night, July 25th for the Season 4 Premiere. If you live in NYC there's a pretty cool sounding free premiere party and screening (with a costume and trivia contest!) in Times Square.
When I got my hands on a copy of Edible Queens' Summer issue and saw that our Lemon Ice King was bringing out strawberry banana, I knew KNEW that I needed to stop by. And with this unbearable tropical summer heat, the need for an ice has been even stronger than normal. So when I found myself at Queens Center with a car this past weekend, the magnetic pull of refreshing ice and a new flavor made me end up at Ice King. Strawberry banana is completely my new favorite flavor usurping my beloved blueberry. Both flavors held their own against the other and it can only help with the ice is as smooth as ever. The raspberry ain't too shabby either.
Four & Twenty Blackbirds is quickly becoming a favorite dessert spot of mine. Last Friday afternoon I made a return visit with a dear family friend and Little B. We had planned on going early in the afternoon, but between a lunch date and getting Little B changed and ready for a pie outing by the time we got to Four & Twenty Blackbirds it was closing in on 5pm and they were down to their last two pies. Oh noes...!
Fortunately the last two pies were Apple Rhubarb and Chocolate Chili. Yum. I know it's down right unAmerican, but I have to admit that apple pie isn't really my favorite. If it's a choice between apple and another fruit pie, I would seriously consider the other pie because frankly, apple pie can be a little boring. A little mushy. A little too sweet. None of those problems presented themselves in the slice of apple rhubarb pie. Four & Twenty Blackbirds makes a spectacular apple rhubarb pie. The apple and rhubarb slices were tender and delicious. No mush factor here. I would get this pie again in a heartbeat.
My friend got the chili chocolate pie and the bite I tried was so good I had to bring a slice home to Lawman. The chocolate filling was rich and creamy and it had a really nice chili kick. Definitely a winner.
I love the Greenmarkets. My love of the fresh produce and friendly vendors runs deep; I typically find myself shopping there two or three times a week. Of course, summer is the hardest time to not buy everything! There's often too many fruits, vegetables, and flowers to choose from. And this past few Saturdays, I've been seeing little flyers at my local McCarren Park Greenmarket. Red Jacket Orchards and Ronnybrook are up to something!
Red Jacket Orchards, one of the biggest names in fresh local food, is launching a new project, Healthy Bodegas. This is a new program with a goal of bringing fresh, local produce to some of New York's most underserved neighborhoods, starting with Bushwick and Bed-Stuy, Broooklyn. Though I have the option and means to get my fresh produce, that isn't the story for all New Yorkers, and getting nutritious, healthy food into the stores these neighborhoods can access-specifically bodegas-can only help them and New York as a whole. But in order to get this program off the ground, Red Jacket needs some help monetary wise. Feel free to click here and give a few dollars, and spread the word. Their donating bonuses mean you can score some schwag.
Now another delicious vendor, Ronnybrook Farm Dairy is inviting everyone up to their farm on August 8th! Yes, you can visit the cows that help make their awesome milk and ice cream, and eat some food, and give your kids a day out of the city on a farm. After the 2 hour ride on the Metro-North to Wassaic, Ronnybrook'll get you from the train station so you can come hang out on the farm, and join in the celebration of their most recent accomplishment, solar panels. Everyone's going green, even cows! If you want to go, be sure to let them know here.
(P.S. I'm totally bringing the milk jar back soon! Blame it on the snap dragons that wouldn't fit in any of my other vases!) jump
I'm not ashamed to admit that I, um, twitter stalk the Robicellis for their weekly cupcake offerings. When their cupcakes are that freaking delicious, how can you blame me? Last week I saw they were making two cupcakes I'd never tried, Bananas Foster and Cherries Jubilee. Mmmmm, mmm...
First up, the Cherries Jubilee. I love cherry season. Can't get enough of those sweet and tart little fruit. The Cherries Jubilee is a totally new flavor and with cherry season wrapping soon, I knew I had to get ahold of one of these before they headed into the vault until next summer. This cupcake was a vanilla cake base filled with homemade brandied cherry jam, cherry vanilla buttercream and brandied cherry compote. The cherries were awesome. This cupcake was awesome. Love the addition of brandy.
Next, Bananas Foster--Banana cake with rum & salted caramel buttercream. Hello, delicious. The cake was moist and not overly sweet and saltiness of the buttercream made for a nicely balance dessert.
This week I'm tempted to swing by to try "The North Fork”- Blackberry cabernet cake and buttercream with blackberry “caviar” and cabernet reduction
And a little (ok, a big) part of me keeps hoping a that the orange chocolate cupcakes will make an appearance in the retail flavors soon.
I just realized that I totally forgot to tell you guys about the Food Truck Drive-In that happened at the end of June for the NYC Food Film Festival! I was lucky enough to get Bez to come with me, she's been schooling it double-time for awhile and it's easier to get time with the Pope. But when both of us saw that that day was also the US vs. Ghana game, we knew that the Drive-In was going to be deserted at the beginning aka perfect for us.
I had to start my lunching with a bean & cheese pupusa from Soler Dominican. I hadn't had one all summer, despite some serious cravings. I gave in, it was delicious.
Bez went with the fish taco from the Green Truck. It was tasty, but don't you hate when your guacamole is squeezed out like that. It's like guacamole puree. It bothers me.
After a quick break that included a lemon meringue and a ham mousse, foods made by FCI in connection to the films playing, I decided to finally try the Milk Truck and their cheese sandwiches. Mine was a mozzarella tomato special, but the best part was that it came with a mini strawberry milkshake. And by mini, I mean the perfect size for me. It was thick, creamy, strawberry deliciousness. And I don't even particularly like strawberry milkshakes! And I sucked this thing down like all the strawberry ice cream on Earth was melting at once! It was awesome, and they should totally have a real truck where I can get milkshakes on a regular basis.
Bez decided she would like to try AsiaDog's Sidney, it involves mango relish, cilantro, crushed peanuts, and fish sauce. She found this pretty enjoyable too.
For dessert, we picked up plum and sour cherry pops from People's Pops and Bez is converted to their awesomeness. People's Pops has become one of my most favorite summertime sweets, it's grown-up ice pops and I totally wish I had one right now.jump
If you think you have an amazing sandwich recipe, one that's worth $25,000, then you NEED to enter the contest. You have to use at least two of the Mezzetta Brands; the ingredients must be readily available; the recipe must be original, not previously published or have won another award; and they will be judging based on creative use of ingredients, taste, ease of preparation, and visual appeal. The official rules can be found here, and the entry form because you really want to win, can be found here.jump
One of the many dangerous things about a visit to Shopsin's is that it puts you in the vicinity of the Doughnut Plant. Blondie and I don't get to the Lower East Side nearly as often as we'd like and so the temptation to hit both in a single trip is great. On our most recent Shopsin's excursion we heeded the Doughnut Plant's siren song and quite possibly restored Blondie's faith in the DP's fruit glazed doughnuts...
The Doughnut Plant does a number of fruit glazed doughnuts, but they can be hit or miss in terms of flavor intensity. Meyer Lemon = winner. Last year the Blueberry Cake Doughnut didn't fare so well in Blondie's eyes. The blueberry glazed yeast doughnut however fared a good bit better. The glaze had a sweet and pleasant blueberry taste. It made for a yummy send off before I headed up to Maine aka the land of blueberries.
I'm willing to posit that the main difference here between the cake and the raised yeast doughnut is a matter of expectation. With the yeast doughnut you know that's the standard DP yeast doughnut is chillin' under whatever flavor glaze they add on top so your expectation is that the fruit flavor will be concentrated in the glaze whereas with the cake doughnut sometimes the fruit flavor soaks in and really permeates the cake itself (like with the Meyer Lemon) creating a lemony cake and lemony glaze experience. Cake doughnuts are dense so if you're expecting a blueberry doughnut and the only real blueberry flavor your get is in the glaze, the fruit experience will likely be very subtle and muted by the cake doughnut itself. At least that's my theory. Clearly I'll have to increase my sample size to see if this can bare the burden of proof...
Doughnut Plant 379 Grand Street, between Suffolk and Clinton (212) 505-3700 Tuesday through Sunday: 6:30am until 6:30pm www.doughnutplant.com jump
I had the typical New York adolescence in that I learned how to drink by chugging beer in parks. Usually from a keg, more often from a brown paper bag, sometimes playing drinking games or Monopoly. I've been chased by helicopters and mounties, but once you make it to the sidewalk, they can't arrest you. You learn to make it to the sidewalk. That was also my extent of running until the ripe old age of 26. But now I can drink beer and eat pizza legally every Wednesday night for the next few weeks, all while watching a movie! Ain't life grand?
Last week was the opening show for this year's Summer Screen in McCarren Park, which is put together by the wonderful people of The L Magazine with help from sponsors. The movie was Say Anything, I'd never seen it before, but I do loves me some John Cusack any day. And what's a movie without food? It's a boring half date. Lucky for us, a few of our favorite mobile vendors are there: Pizza Moto, Asia Dogs, People's Pops, and San Loco, with refreshment from Sixpoint. Seeing as I had eaten from three of the four within a week of the movie, I chose to go with some pizza from Pizza Moto.
The Salvatore, made with ricotta cheese from Salvatore BKLYN. Don't be fooled by this white pie, theirs are delicious with or without sauce, and Salvatore BKLYN's cheese is salty and addictive. In this pie, I was complete. Washed it down with some Sixpoint, and a date was had. This week's Labyrinth, yes with the Bowie. What kind of magic spell to use?
Summer Screen is going on every Wednesday until August 11th, in McCarren Park's concrete ball field on the corner of N. 12th and Bedford. Movie starts at sundown. jump
I've been going to Shopsin's for around seven years now. To say that I obsess over their menu is to put it mildly. When everything looks so darn good, you simply need to familiarize yourself with the menu so to aid in making up your mind when you order. Last Friday when Blondie and I hit up Shopsin's for a late lunch, I noticed that one of my favorite menu items, the Blisters on My Sistsers, was popping up on the latest menu with an Indian twist. Surely this demanded further investigation...
The Indian Blisters on My Sisters consists of potato and chickpea curry, peas, and basmati rice over pappadam with sunny side eggs and feta cheese. Om nom nom. The peppery-ness of the pappadam really helped to give it a nice bit of heat. And the curry was not only tasty, but awfully filling. I'm embarrased to say I only got through about 2/3s of this before I waved my napkin in defeat. While it's hard to beat the deliciousness that is the orginal Blisters on My Sisters with chorizo, I'll definitely be ording this one again.
Shopsin's Essex Street Market 120 Essex Street New York, NY 10002 jump
Hopefully this heat will break by next Tuesday, when Madison Square Park is going to be turned into a plethora of eating options from some of the area's best chefs. Plus, I really don't want to think about Resto'sChef Bobby Hellen roasting a pig all day in 100° heat. He's a sweetheart and that wouldn't do. And you really want some good eats outdoors, don't you.
Madison Square Park has come a LONG way in the past few decades; it's really cleaned up from what it was-though I still spy those fake rocks-due to the hard work put in by the Madison Square Park Conservancy. Trust that if it wasn't for them, Shake Shack wouldn't be where it is today, and the people working at Credit Suisse and in the Flatiron Building would be very sad. One of the Conservancy's main fundraisers is the Celebrate Flatiron Chefs dinner, which this year includes food from craftbar, Eleven Madison Park, Cabrito, Fatty 'Cue, Tabla, Allegretti, a sneak peek at Eataly, and a lot more-the menu is ah-mazing making this so well worth it. Tickets are a bit pricey at $160 until 3pm this Friday, and $260 for VIP, but it's all tax deductible! If there are any left after Friday, they'll be $200 at the door for 6:30 entry. You can buy your tickets here! jump
Blondie and I recently were invited to join TLC Cake Crew, a group of bloggers and baking enthusiasts. There are some pretty fantastically talented bakers in this group (we were floored to be included with Cakespy and Bake and Destroy to name just two). Well, just the other day we received a letter TLC issuing a challenge to Cake Crew bloggers--make a favorite summer dessert and record it with the enclosed Flip cam. A team of judges will award the winner a 15 minute phone conversation with Buddy Valastro aka the Cake Boss. Hot dang! A call with the Cake Boss himself? What could we make? As timing would have it I was also wondering what to do for Blondie's birthday. Then inspiration struck...
Fourth of July weekend is a special time here on B&B--in addition to Independence Day, we also celebrate Blondie’s birthday on the 5th! Having a birthday so close to the 4th of July festivities, Blondie is used to having a little red, white and blue represent on her big day and I wanted to make sure this year was no exception.
Over the years I’ve seen a lot of cool flag rectangular flag cakes and I decided for the birthday girl I’d like to get a little playful with the flag cake form. Drawing inspiration from Old Glory, I thought it would be fun to make a round red velvet cake with seven layers for the seven red stripes on our nation’s flag with six “stripes” of white frosting in between. The top of the cake would have a thin schmear of frosting and be covered in blueberries with a bright red strawberry star in the center.
The frosting for this cake is terrific. It’s rich and creamy without being overly decadent and sweet without being cloying. The cake itself is light and moist and the fresh berries tie the whole dessert together to give you the taste of summer. Other than the time it takes to bake the seven layers (which if you’re like me and only own 2 eight inch cake pans, can be a small hassle), this cake is fairly easy to make and assemble and it’s a showstopper at any picnic, barbecue or, summer birthday party. Happy Birthday, Blondie! This one’s for you!
Stars and Stripes Forever Cake
2 ½ cups cake flour 4 tablespoons powdered buttermilk 3 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 1 ½ cups sugar ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened 2 large eggs 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 1 cup water 1 ounce red food coloring 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 8 inch cake pans (ultimately you will be making seven layers so flour as many pans as you have--the more pans you have the quicker the process will go, otherwise you will have to rinse and prepare the pans in between). In a large bowl mix the flour, cocoa, buttermilk powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and set mixture aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides in between additions. Then add vanilla and mix until completely incorporated. Add 1/3 of the dry mixture to the creamed butter and sugar and mix together on medium until incorporated. Add ½ of the water and mix until incorporated then alternate adding dry mixture and wet mixture until all wet and dry ingredients are incorporated. Add in red food coloring and white vinegar until just incorporated.
For each layer pour approximately ¾ cup of batter into your prepared pans and bake on a center rack in the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting and Berry Topping
2 cups cream cheese (2 eight oz packages), softened 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened 1 ½ cups powdered sugar 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract 1 pint blueberries 3 bright red choice strawberries of approximately the same size and color
Add cream cheese to the bowl of a standing mixer and beat on medium until fully softened. Then add the sticks of butter one at a time, beating until fully incorporated and smooth. Beat in powdered sugar until frosting is smooth and creamy then mix in vanilla until fully incorporated.
To assemble cake:
On a large serving platter, place your bottom layer and frost up to the edges. Add the next layer and repeat until you have a fully frosted seven layer cake. Frost the top layer of the cake. Cut the strawberry into 5 equally sized thin side slices of the strawberry to make the red points of the star for the center of the cake with a small side slice to cover the space in the center of the star. Place the strawberry star in the center of the cake and top with blueberries in a circular pattern, leaving a small circle in the center surrounding the strawberry. Slice, serve and enjoy!
You can follow the goings on of our fellow Cake Crew bloggers via twitter. The judges are picking their fav video based on creativity, appearance, and online feedback. So if you like our cake (or heck, if you don't like our cake) leave us a comment to tell us what you think! jump
Remember when Cookies and Cream was an exotic ice cream flavor? It was vanilla ice cream, but way better because it had cookie pieces. Cookies and Cream was my fav ice cream for a time during childhood until it was usurped by my discovering Cookie Dough. Dang, they could put actual cookie dough in ice cream?! What will they think of next? Well, Dairy Queen has topped them both with their Oreo Cookie Jar Blizzard...
Cookie Dough pieces and Oreo bits whirled around vanilla ice cream with a chocolate swirl. Proof positive that cookie dough and cookies can exist in delicious harmony. Since this year is the Blizzard's 25th anniversary, DQ has expanded their blizzard menu to 25 different options, so no need to wait until this is a special Blizzard of the month. jump