Monday, February 28, 2011

Cook the Mag: Bon Appétit's Brown Butter Brownies

Bon Appetit's Brown Butter Brownies
Recently we signed on to be Socialvores for Gourmet Live! This means that at some point in the near future, a picture of the interior of our respective fridges will be on the interwebs (along with an interview, of course.) As part of our welcome to the Epicurious/Bon Appétit/Gourmet/Condé Nast, we were invited to lunch in their very impressive cafeteria. Several times I spotted the February Bon Appétit cover-the one with these brownies. It's drool-worthy and made me crave brownies. So, I made them.

Bon Appetit's Brown Butter Brownies
Browning butter doesn't take much skill, it does take patience and realizing when he milk solids have browned. I use a silver pan as it picks up the color better, especially once the melted butter has stopped bubbling. After browning the butter, the recipe is pretty easy with no mixers required. I omitted the use of walnuts as I was primarily giving them as a gift and wasn't sure of the receiver's 'nuts in brownies' opinion. A couple did have to be tested for quality control! I don't know if it was the brown butter or just the general recipe, but these brownies were chewy, dense, fudgie goodness. Quite possibly, the best brownie for use in a hot fudge brownie sundae!

For Bon Appétit's Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts recipe, click here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Blizzards through History

Dairy Queen Mint Oreo Blizzard

After the winter we've had, it's hard to remember that there are other blizzards. Pleasant, magical blizzards, chock full of goodies like Oreo cookies and Butterfinger pieces. My very first Dairy Queen memory was choosing a Nerds Blizzard (I was five, don't judge!) and delighting in it's slightly crunchy multicolored, tangy goodness. The other day I discovered via Facebook that my cousin posted a link to the official DQ blog where they've chronologically listed all the Blizzards that have been introduced since '85. Oh, sweetness...

The list has the standards: M&M’s ('85), Snickers ('86), Reese's Peanut Butter Cup ('89), but then there were Blizzard's that have long been forgotten (and should be brought back!). Come on: Golden Grahams Blizzard? Cinnamon Toast Crunch Blizzard? Both introduced in '87 (along with Nerds, clearly 1987 was an awesome year). These days my preference tends to be: Mississippi Mud (a coffee syrup, chocolate fudge, Oreo concoction that doesn't appear to be on the national menu, but is a staple at my home DQ), Mint Oreo, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. There was a time in my life when every visit to the pediatrician brought the promise of a Blizzard. Cookie Dough for me. Butterfinger for my brother. Do you have a favorite current or bygone Blizzard?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Toasted Coconut Doughnut from Peter Pan Bakery

Toasted Coconut Doughnut
I don't get to Greenpoint nearly as often as I should. Some weekends I find myself longing for Paulie Gee's pizza or Peter Pan's doughnuts (who am I kidding, I'm longing for Paulie Gee's pizza AND Peter Pan's doughnuts). A recent food adventure brought me to Blondie's hood, but before we could get our mission under way, we had to fortify ourselves with some sweet, fried goodness.

Over time--we're talking many years here--I've discovered that I don't actually hate coconut. Contextually coconut, under all the right circumstances, can be delicious i.e. coconut buns from Mei Li Wah and Curried Coconut Soft Serve from the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, as opposed to cloying--Mounds Bar, I'm looking at you! Toasted coconut is in good hands at Peter Pan Bakery. The doughnut was pleasantly squishy, as yeast doughnuts are want to be, and the glaze that adhered the toasted coconut bitties gave it just that right hint of sweetness. My only regret is that I got but one doughnut because it disappeared with lightning quickness.

Peter Pan Bakery
727 Manhattan Avenue
Greenpoint, Brooklyn
(718) 389-3676

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cheese! In Greenpoint!

Prosciutto Ricotta Sandwich
As much as I love my new neighborhood, one of the downfalls was the lack of a good cheeseshop. Yes, there's the cheese at the grocery store, but sometimes a girl just wants some beer with a side of Humboldt Fog. And we have Bedford Cheese in Williamsburg, but they're pricey and quite the walk for me. Little did I know that a few months ago, Eastern District, a beer and cheese shop did open in Greenpoint! And they have sandwiches!

Eastern District Menu
A couple of weekends ago, I wandered on over to check it out. The store is many meats, cheese, and beer, but they have other groceries too, like Route 11 chips, Liddabit Sweets, and Robicelli's! This could be dangerous. For my sandwich, I choose #4: La Quercia Rossa Prosciutto, with Salvatore BKLYN Ricotta, and sundried tomatoes. And it was splendid gorgeous afternoon sandwich. The prosciutto was tasty, porky, and light-not over salty or greasy like some prosciutto. Salvatore's ricotta is just amazingly tangy and fluffy, and complemented the sandwich well. I loved that it was not too heavy to induce an afternoon nap. I can't wait to try the others!

Eastern District
1053 Manhattan Avenue
(718) 349-1432

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Extra Time to Get Your Zeppole Fix

Zeppole Trio from Milanis

For those of you keeping track Lent is way late this year starting on March 9th. But last week we got a tip that my new favorite zeppole outpost, Milani's Bakery in Northford, CT, isn't making you wait for those traditional St. Joseph's Day pastries...

According to Tullio from Milani's "We are making them all day everyday until wayyy after St. Joseph's, so people have plenty of time to enjoy one or two dozen." The chocolate zeppole with their deep dark chocolate pastry cream filling reign supreme. Milani's is just a quick 20 minute drive from New Haven proper, so might I suggest getting a Zip Car, loading it with some friends, hitting up New Haven for some pizza and then Milani's for dessert.

Milani's Italian Bakery & Cafe
855 Forest Road
Northford, CT 06473
(203) 484-5017

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Don't Be Tarty to the Party!

Grapefruit Campari Sorbet
If Valentine's and Presidents Day mean anything to me, it means winter's almost over and this is my last gorge-fest before stricter summer dieting! Oh, who am I kidding, Easter's in there and I love the Cadbury Creme Egg something awful. But it's still winter and I found another pick-me-up at il laboratorio del gelato of all places: their grapefruit campari sorbet.

Grapefruit Campari Sorbet
When Brownie and I found ourselves passing by the new store, which is open until 10pm or Midnight depending on the day, we knew we had to pop in to see the flavors. Still full from our dinner, I wanted something light that would remind me of sunshine and summer. Interested in yet another take on the grapefruit, I went with this sorbet. But the winning reason for this pick? Because the grapefruit pink color was so pretty. The sorbet relishes in the tartness of the grapefruit, and has subtler hints of the bitter and floral notes from the Campari. This is not a sugary sweet sorbet-both of us made the sour/tart face-and I loved this different take on dessert.

il laboratorio del gelato
188 Ludlow Street (at East Houston)
(212) 343-9922

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dim Sum Treats from East Harbor Seafood Palace

Bak Fan Yu from East Harbor

If you're looking for an awesome site with some serious dim sum coverage, look no further than The Girl Who Ate Everything. Robyn Lee and co have covered some (if not all) of the best dim sum spots in the city. And it's on Robyn's site that I got the inside track on dim sum at Brooklyn's East Harbor Seafood Palace...

Last year James Boo of The Eaten Path arranged a blogger meet up at East Harbor, but I wasn't able to make it. I've since visited several times and it's quickly become among my favorite places for dim sum.

Thanks to Robyn I was able to order one of their specialties like a pro: Bak Fan Yu, aka deep fried whitebait, seen above. Perfectly crispy, these are like little crunchy fishy chips. Super addictive. And not necessarily in the regular rotation of stuff that makes the round to all the tables--not sure if that's because they are so popular or what, but if you are able to snag the waiter's ear, be sure early on to ask that they bring by the bak fan yu tray, you won't be sorry.

Black Sesame filled Mochi from East Harbor

For dessert, you can't miss the Candied Peanut Dusted Black Sesame filled Mochi. Where to begin? Pleasantly chewy and sweet mochi covered with crunchy bits of peanuts and filled with rich black sesame paste. If you like any or all of those components, I seriously would recommend paying East Harbor a visit for this alone. Any one know where I can get these (or a similar dessert) in Chinatown?

Inside Black Sesame filled Mochi from East Harbor

East Harbor Seafood Palace
6301 8th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11220

Monday, February 14, 2011

Shake Shack UWS went Bacon Crazy This Weekend

Peanut Butter & Bacon Burger
A little less than a year ago, Shake Shack Upper West Side offered a "Peanut Butter & Bacon" burger two Saturdays in a row. Two Saturdays where I could not get to the Upper West Side Shake Shack. A burger that I often think about, reflecting on what could have been. Nearly every Friday after, I've checked the Shake Shack Facebook Page to see if this magical unicorn of a burger would re-emerge. This past weekend, it did with an added extra bonus: Pancakes and Bacon Milkshake.

There are two reasons why this burger is so special: one, it's peanut butter and bacon-a combination hard to find anywhere, and two, there's bacon involved. I love bacon cheeseburgers, like "I should be in a Bacon Cheeseburgers Anonymous group" love. While this wasn't a bacon cheeseburger, it involved bacon on a burger, far enough removed that I haven't fallen off the wagon, yet. My burger didn't have nearly the amount of peanut butter sauce as seen last year which allowed me to taste the Usinger's Cajun bacon more as well as the meat. Less sauce allowed the spices from the bacon did dominate the trio, with subtle tastes of the peanut butter. At no time did this not taste like a bacon burger. It would be super awesome though if they replaced the meat with fried bananas. Just the chance to have this special was totally worth it though.

Pancakes & Bacon Milkshake
I didn't even realize the Pancakes & Bacon Milkshake was in store until I arrived at the Shack. The sweet shake was good enough, you got the batter flavor with a bacon aftertaste. I was a little letdown since I was expecting a thicker shake with chunks of pancake or bacon, but alas, that would mean a concrete.

Shake Shake
Various Locations Throughout NYC

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pie = Love

Apple Rhubarb Pie from Four & Twenty Blackbirds

It's a well known fact that pie = love. While Four & Twenty Blackbirds isn't open on Monday, you can pre-order a pie for your Valentine (hint, hint, Lawman) for pick up on Sunday. And you should see the line up...

Salted Caramel Apple ($35), Mint Chocolate ($32), and Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan ($38) are also available. All prices are plus NYC Sales tax. Cash only, pay at pickup. You can place your order by calling the shop at (718) 499-2917. The only challenge is choosing just one pie. If you're reading this, Lawman, I'm kind of feeling the Black Bottom Oatmeal, though you really can't miss if you're Valentine is #teampie.

Four & Twenty Blackbirds
439 Third Ave. at 8th St,
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Brooklyn Commune Brings Stumptown Coffee and Brooklyn Made Treats to Windsor Terrace

Brooklyn commune exterior

Since Lonelyville's closure a couple of years back, Windsor Terrace has been a one coffee shop kind of nabe. Not any more. For the past couple of months Brooklyn Commune has been brewing up French press and Stumptown coffee...

Brooklyn commune interior

Steps from the Greenwood Avenue exit of the Fort Hamilton Parkway station, this bright and airy shop seems to already be developing a neighborhood following. Like the nearby Brancaccio's in Kensington they serve salads, take away meal components by the pound and artisanal grocery ingredients. What sets them apart is the large (for the neighborhood, at least) and very pleasant open space with communal tables for enjoying coffee, sandwiches and soups among other eat-in options.

So far I've had a chance to drop by for coffee and to pick up some bread from Orwashers Bakery. And I'm eyed their Amy's cookies and Ricotta Spread from Salvatore Brooklyn. A nice addition to the neighborhood this will be a great stop for Prospect Park picnic supplies when the snow finally melts.

Check them out on Facebook for their latest specials and events.

Brooklyn Commune
601 Greenwood Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11218
(718) 686-1044

Mondays: Closed
Tue-Fri: 8am-9pm
Sat & Sun: 10am-8pm

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Breakfast Dinner at Clinton St. Baking

Blackberry Pancakes
There are two steadfast February food traditions that get both of us excited for an otherwise dreary month: Clinton St.'s pancakes and City Bakery's hot chocolate. This year we knew we had to get our pancake fix on a Wednesday since it's Fried Chicken & Waffle night! $20 for the entree with a bottle of Rogue Chipotle Ale, count us in.

Blackberry Pancakes
Neither of us are the most patient of the bunch, we had to go on the very first Wednesday night of the month when the pancake special was Blackberry Pancakes with Lemon Curd. If you had the chance to try these out last week, you'd know they were scrumptious. I was a bit wary of the thought of lemon curd, thinking that it might make the dish too tart for my taste, but the sweet and tart union from both the blackberries and the lemon curd was perfect. It kept making me think of warm summer days, despite the nasty chill outside. Will I be trying to replicate this come summertime when our local blackberries are ripe for the pickin'? Of course. Maybe I'll even try it with my favored blues.

Chicken & Waffles
The best part about our dinner was that three of the four orders were actually for the chicken and waffles. And each and every one of us couldn't get our fill of the crispy buttermilk chicken, or the honey-Tabasco it's served with. Good portions of chicken are served on a waffle big enough to hold them all, and the sauce adds a nice kick. The chicken is definitely some of the best crispy fried that I've had in a long time-I find most chicken joints allow their breading to get soggy and chewy in the oil. This had just the right amount of saltiness and breading, and the meat was juicy and tasty. All that was left at the end of the meal were bones, and a few "too stuffed to finish" bites.

Pancake Month goes on Monday to Friday until the 28th. Click here for the rest of the flavors.

Clinton Street Baking Co.
4 Clinton St (between East Houston & Stanton)
(646) 602-6263

Monday, February 7, 2011

Beet Thai's Ground Pork Basil Sandwich

Ground Pork Thai Sandwich Beet Thai

As far as Thai in the Park Slope-ish area goes there's one restaurant that truly has my heart and that would be Song. I know people who love Beet Thai, but to be honest, I've never given it much of a try. However, when they started offering Thai style sandwiches for $5, that got my attention...

Served up on a toasty baguette this spicy ground pork sub had lovely crispy bit of Thai basil. Intensely satisfying, this is a steal for $5. They also serve up Thai Omelet and Chicken Panang sandwiches, the former includes ground pork, egg and shrimp, delicious, if a bit messy.

Beet Thai Sandwich menu

On my last visit these sandwiches hadn't made it to the printed takeout menu, but I've been able to order them to go without a problem.

344 7th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 832-2338

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pie ABCs at Four & Twenty Blackbirds

Cranberry Sage Pie

Last Sunday Lawman and I met up with Blondie for some Four & Twenty Blackbirds pie. Our first of the New Year. We shared three slices between us, but it wasn't until I went to upload the pictures that I realized our pie flight was more of a pie ABCs: Apple Bourbon, Black Bottom Oatmeal and Cranberry Sage...

Apple Bourbon Pie

First up the Apple Bourbon. The Apple Bourbon was actually one the first pies I tried from Four & Twenty Blackbirds back in the summer. Oh, summer. This rendition of the Apple Bourbon pie, however, had an oatmeal crumble crust. Dutch Apple pie (aka apple pie with crumb topping) was my absolute favorite pie as a child. The crumb topping here does not disappoint. Like all the Four & Twenty pies I've had the spicing to sweetness ratio was just right.

Black Bottom Oat Pie

Next up, Black Bottom Oatmeal. This is a pie I saw on their Facebook wall (and part of the inspiration for the visit). Co-owner, Emily Elsen described this pie as a poor man's "pecan pie"--similar filling topped with oats instead of pecans with a layer of chocolate ganache. A poor man should be so lucky! As someone who can't have nuts and has always looked longingly at pecan pie, this is such a treat. The dark chocolate ganache balances perfectly with the sweet filling and the crunchy toasted rolled oat topping pulls it all together. I'll be watching their Facebook wall for the next time this one makes an appearance.

Lastly, the Cranberry Sage. that I first tried (and loved) back in December. Nice to see that this is sticking around for a little more of the winter. ReadyMade magazine which ranks up there with pie among my favorite things has the recipe for the Cranberry Sage pie which ran with their nice piece on the Elsen sisters.

Four & Twenty Blackbirds
439 Third Ave. at 8th St,
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Want to Eat Some Meatballs For Charity?!

Brooklyn Kitchen
Oh the lovable meatball, so comforting and hearty when served with spaghetti and covered in red sauce. So delightful when tucked in a hero in groups of three or four, again smothered in sauce. So terrible when prepared entirely wrong, or with meat substitutes (the horrors!) If you love the meatball as much as I do-I probably craving my mother's recipe for them right now-you'd want to get over to Brooklyn Kitchen tomorrow for the Meatball Slapdown!!!

Tomorrow night at Brooklyn Kitchen, some pretty phenomenal contestants are going to be judged on their meatball skills by a few people even I would get nervous around. The contestants include submissions from Fatty 'Cue, Lupa, Vesta, and many more; the judges include Ted Allen, Amanda Hesser, and the Franks of Frankie's Sputino among others. The meatballs will be served with bread from Roberta's and beer from Brooklyn Brewery. Tickets are pricey at $100, but it's going to two great charities that benefit the children: Brooklyn Kitchen and the Meat Hook's new Classrooms in the Kitchen and Brooklyn Grange's City Grower program.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

It's Time for Pancake and Hot Chocolate Month!

Blueberry Pancakes from Clinton Street Baking Co

Will winter ever be over? Fortunately there are a couple things to look forward to in February besides Valentine's Day (and yes, your birthday, mom). Today kicks off Clinton Street Baking Company's annual Pancake Month Celebration and City Bakery's Annual Hot Chocolate Festival.

Here's the pancake line up:

Feb 1, 2: blackberry pancakes, blackberry syrup, lemon curd, warm maple butter

Feb 3, 4: poached pears, vanilla bean whipped cream, warm maple butter

Feb 7, 8, 9: crunchy bananas, cinnamon-chili-chocolate sauce

Feb 10, 11: Japanese pumpkin pancake, pumpkin seed streusel, warm maple butter

Valentine’s Day: chocolate chunks, fresh raspberries, raspberry-caramel sauce

Feb 15, 16: fresh coconut pancakes, passion fruit syrup, bananas

Feb 17, 18: almond frangipane, fresh raspberries, toasted almonds, raspberry sauce

Feb 21, 22: crunchy bananas, cinnamon-chili-chocolate sauce

Feb 23, 24: caramelized pineapple, macadamia nuts, toasted coconut, warm maple butter

Feb 25, 28: chocolate chunks, fresh raspberries, raspberry-caramel sauce

The special pancakes are served Monday through Friday from 8am until 4pm and 6pm to 11pm. And if you're not a fan of the particular pancake of the day, they do have their famous wild Maine blueberry or banana walnut, with warm maple butter pancakes on their everyday menu.

Caramel Hot Chocolate
As for Hot Chocolate...last year Blondie was a fan of the Happy Hot Chocolate made with vanilla bean and milk chocolate. Blondie called it "Very creamy, very smooth, and most importantly not overwhelming sweet." This year Happy Hot Chocolate is on tap for the 27th. For the full schedule, check out the official Hot Chocolate Festival site. And head over to TONY's the Feed blog where Amy Pitt reviewed each of last year's hot chocolate cheer us through the February gloom.