Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Travels with Brownie: Breakfast at Rolly's Diner in Lewiston, Maine

Memorial Day Pancake Special Close Up

Whenever our schedule affords us a trip up to Maine, we try to make it to Lewiston to visit my great aunt. Aunt Alberta is ninety-one and sharp as a tack with a wicked sense of humor. She knows all the great haunts in Lewiston and Auburn for good traditional New England (and French Canadian) food. One of her favorite places to grab a bite is Rolly's Diner. It's just the sort of locals only joints that you dream of stumbling on when you're on the road...

Rolly's (pronounced r-AHL-ies) is just over the river in Auburn, Maine. The outside of the building isn't flashy. It's the sort of place where you walk in and sit where you want. Nothing on the menu is over ten bucks with most dishes ringing it under $6.95 (the $9.50 price point is saved for a lobster sub).

Blueberry Crepes from Rolly's Diner

Crepes are made to order from scratch and are a popular option (my aunt seems to always order them). They are good, but as someone who learned crepe making from my mom who in turn learned from Aunt Alberta (who learned from her French Canadian mother!), I know I can make a mean crepe myself if the mood strikes.

Big Breakfast from Rolly's Diner

What I can't make or find pretty much anywhere is creton (crey-toh-n) a French Canadian spiced ground pork/pork fat spread somewhat akin to pâté. You eat it spread on toast and while it's not a featured dish on the menu you can get a "side" of it for a dollar (it's in the little plastic cup above).

Memorial Day Pancake Special from Rolly's

This past weekend, I went with the Memorial Day Pancake Special, three buttery, super fluffy buttermilk pancakes topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream. It came with my choice of bacon, ham or sausage (pork sausage patties, all the way!) for only $5.95. In New York the same breakfast would have been easily twice that. Great breakfast, good down to earth folks, totally worth the trip.

Rolly's Diner
87 Mill Street
Auburn, ME 04210
(207) 753-0171
Sunday: 7:00AM-12:00PM

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

Stars and Stripes Cake

Happy Memorial Day! Blondie and I are both taking a much needed vacation. We hope you're having a restful day as well. If you're looking for some last minute picnic dessert inspiration, check out our Stars and Stripes Seven Layer Cake.

We'll be back with much more deliciousness tomorrow, but in the meantime, in honor of Memorial Day, take a moment to remember those who serve and have served our country.

And to my own Aunt Pookie: Happy Birthday! Sending you a virtual slice of pie!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

It's a Robicelli's Miracle!

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Cupcake
Remember how I managed to snag Robicelli's Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp, one of their once-a-year cupcakes? It was a double-edged sword, it's delicious rendition of one of my favorite flavor combinations, but it was only available once a year and with the current state of my life, there's no guarantee that I'd ever taste it again. Sadness. Then a miracle angel fairy godmother bestowed the Robicellis with the beautiful present of rhubarb. And guess what's appearing on their June menu! Strawberry Rhubarb! But that's not all....

Their June menu is packed with fun summer flavors. Here's the list of what I plan on eating and writing off as pre-birthday cupcakes: the Strawberry Shortcake, the Peach Cobbler, the McFadden, the Strawberry Balsamic, the Raspberry Lemonade, the Apricot Chardonnay, the Ebinger (can attest that the buttercream is fabulous on this one,) and of course, another Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp. Can you tell I grew up in the South eating desserts like these? Plus you only turn 30 once and I plan on living it up!

Be sure to double check their Twitter and/or Tumblr before heading out to get a cupcake, not all stores get all flavors or deliveries every day.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Like My Momma Used to Make

Meatball Sandwich
Monday was such a gray, blah day. If you didn't have anywhere to go, you didn't want to go anywhere. I did need to run into the city to pick up a few of my Trader Joe's faves (hello, unsweetened mango slices!), but I need more motivation than that to get out of the apartment. My tummy was rumbling for a little lunch, so I decided to add that onto the trip, but where to go? A quick search led me to think Northern Spy Food Co. I'd never been, and lunch is the perfect time to try a place out.

Meatball Sandwich
What I didn't know was that I was about to have one of the best meatball sandwiches around! Their pork meatballs, sourced from Heritage Food, were tender, juicy, and most importantly, big. Excellently spiced, they tasted exactly like the meatballs my mother used to make, and she got her recipe from her best friend's Italian mother. These are the real thing, not a pretentious remake. Those meatballs came with a cheese I'd never tasted before, Big Ed's from Saxon Creamery. It's a mild, cow's milk cheese, that can get stringy like mozzarella, and reminded me of Muenster. At $13, this was quite the fulfilling lunch, in a relaxed little restaurant.

Northern Spy Food Co.
511 East 12th St
(212) 228-5100

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"In the Small Kitchen" Contest!

In the Small Kitchen Contest
Today's the day for the ladies, Phoebe and Cara, over at Big Girls, Small Kitchen. Their book, In the Small Kitchen, is 'published' today! Big YAYs to them from Brownie and I. They're going to be touring to California and Washington, DC, so make sure to stop by one of the events to buy the book. That is, if you don't win the one we're giving away!

In the Small Kitchen Contest
We were so excited for them, that we asked to get a copy to give to our readers! Brownie and I are both big fans of their recipes on their site and over at Serious Eats. For those of you not familiar with them, they specialize in affordable, unpretentious cooking that's especially geared towards twenty-somethings just starting out their adult life. It's the perfect book for a new graduate or if you've found yourself on a new, more frugal budget. There's even a section for dating with recipes that will make a good first impression when cooking for someone!

Now for the contest: This is going to be a quick one. Email us at blondieandbrownie at gmail dot com (the button up to the left) and we'll pick a winner before we head out of town for the holiday weekend on Thursday. I will try to mail this baby out as soon as possible. The contest is open to all US residents this time, get those emails coming in!

Monday, May 23, 2011

When I Dip, You Dip, We Dip

Kors d'Oeuvres
A little over a month ago, I heard about Kors d'Oeuvres, artisanal dips being sold at the Saturday Brooklyn Flea. Korey Provencher, a TV producer by day, is a bona fide dip lover and maker, and had the name ready once a market presented itself. He debuted at the Greenpoint Food Market before settling into his booth at the Flea. Once I tasted the dips he's producing I became Kors d'Oeuvres lover, it's some seriously good stuff. And this pass weekend, I made some converts.

Kors d'Oeuvres
I had been waiting for an opportunity to introduce Brownie to this deliciousness, and I knew Little B's birthday picnic was the perfect one. I brought along a tub of Korey's Horseradish and Bacon-sheer willpower stopped me from eating the tub beforehand-and some pretzel chips. "That's some good stuff." "Did you try the bacon dip?!" "It's got a nice kick to it, too." "Mmmmmmm" "Where is he again?" "What others does he have?" "Can we get more?" Then before we knew it the tub was empty. The creamy dip filled with chunks of crisp bacon and given a spicy kick from the horseradish make this a dip to be savored until you've licked the tub clean. Yes, you could probably make this at home, but Korey's got the recipe down pat and wouldn't you rather spend your afternoon eating his dip while drinking beers in the warm summer sun. I know I would.

Kors D'Oeuvres is found at the Saturday Brooklyn Flea in Ft. Greene (176 Lafayette Ave.)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

It's Spring and Pie is in the Air!

Lavender and Honey Pie
With all the crummy weather we've been having, you wouldn't know it, but it's spring. Fresh fruit should be hitting the greenmarket soon, but in the meantime the lovely ladies at Four & Twenty Blackbirds are working some spring flavors into their rotations.

Last weekend I picked up a slice of Lavender Honey Custard. This airy custard was lightly sweeten and with a touch of lavender. Delicate and delicious. And this week they are beginning to offer rhubarb pie as well as Strawberry Balsamic. Woohoo! Can't wait for more fruit to hit the market.

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

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

There's a New Bakery in Bayside, Teaspoon

Milk Chocolate Blonde Bombshell
Bayside, aka my hometown in Northeast Queens, has always suffered from too few bakeries in my humble opinion. The replacing of decades-old Marretta's Bakery with Martha's Country Kitchen did little to alleviate my sugar needs. As anyone whose ever driven along Bell Blvd during peak times, that block of Bell is a pain. But Martha's is pretty good and I've enjoyed a number of their desserts over the past two years, but this past weekend a new bakery, Teaspoon Bake Shop, opened just a few blocks north (towards Bay Terrace.)

Teaspoon is still working out the opening kinks, but that didn't stop me from stopping by. The prices are about on par with Martha's, and everything's baked on the premises. Plus, they'll have pie! The case wasn't quite full yet when I got there, but they did have these Milk Chocolate Blonde Bombshells! How could I resist a treat named that? This tastes like a chocolate chip cookie made into a bar; it's a very vanilla and brown sugar dough. The milk chocolate does turn up the sweetness, so be prepared. I would have absolutely loved it if they switched out the milk chocolate for a darker one, giving it some bitter notes. For $2.50 it's a good size bar, enough for splitting between two friends or at least pretending you're going to.

Teaspoon Bake Shop
36-41 Bell Blvd.
(718) 224-4626

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dough's Chocolate Earl Grey Doughnut is Quite Possibly the Best Doughtnut EVER

Doughnuts from Dough

I typically shy away from saying that something is THE BEST because, really that's rather subjective don't you think? Your best and my best may not align and then what? But when I get over-the-moon excited about a new food find, I have to share, and these days it's the Chocolate Earl Grey Doughnut from Dough that's making my little heart go pitter pat...

I'll freely admit that I'm not even crazy for Earl Grey, but the slightly fruity tea flavor gives the rich, fudgy frosting, a little special something extra that takes these
soft, pillowy, majorly addictive doughnuts over the top. It's like the beloved chocolate frosted doughnuts of my youth on deliciousness steriods.

If their Clinton Hill shop isn't convenient, you can find them in Williamsburg on Sundays at the Brooklyn Flea.

305 Franklin Avenue
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11205
(347) 533-7544

Monday, May 16, 2011

Living Below The Line

Live Below The Line
As some of you might know, I was recently laid off. In my humble opinion, being unemployed can cause a lot more stress than working at a semi-terrible place. I'll admit to minor breakdowns happening, moments where I think "what will I do when my savings runs out?" Fortunately, I had the foresight to even have savings since I was working in a very unstable industry. So when I heard about Live Below the Line, a challenge to live on $1.50 a day to raise awareness about poverty, I chuckled a little thinking "I am the poor now." But this is extreme poverty, and there are 1.4 billion, yes with a B, living on $1.50 or less a day. That's a quarter of the world's population. Last Thursday and Friday, I took the challenge.

Live Below The Line
Thousands start taking the week-long challenge today and hopefully all will make it to Friday, raising money all along the way. The challenge was started by the Global Poverty Project last year with an inaugural campaign in Australia. This extreme level of poverty obviously causes ripple effects (health, education, etc) to those affected by it. And if you think that it's a developing world problem, 1.5 million children in the US are living at these levels. It's not their problem, it's our problem.

Live Below The Line
Since I was only doing this for two days, I wanted to use groceries I already had. It took a few tries to get my meals below $1.50 since my daily High Fiber Cereal and Vanilla Soy Milk had to stay. I also wanted to eat some nutritious food. I had leftover mushrooms from earlier in the week, some beans, a garlic bulb, and brown rice. A big bowl of this both days, and that was it. Done eating by 3:30 in the afternoon. I'm not going to lie, it was hard. Thursday night I stood for 9 hours helping friends bake cupcakes, and I had to forgo Friday night drinking activities. But it was worth it, I remembered that life could be a lot worse, that a lot of people need to take a step back to remember how fortunate they are, and that the only way extreme poverty will be eradicated is if the top 1% start opening up those pocketbooks.

For more information or to donate to Live Below the Line, click here.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Fun Events Coming Up!

ML Party
It's high season for fun outdoor events, and there's one coming up that we're super excited about! Yes, Midtown Lunch is turning 5, and we're throwing a party! There's going to be some of our favorite vendors and terrific prize giveaways. It's all you can eat with drinks from Brooklyn Brewery and GuS Soda, and proceeds going to the Street Vendor Project. It all goes down June 11th at City Winery from Noon to 3pm, tickets are $55 and available here. You should all buy tickets now!

Opening Weekend at Habana Outpost
But if you want some fun outdoor activities this weekend, you're in luck. There's always the Hester Street Fair or the Brooklyn Flea, but Saturday also brings the Habana Outpost Block Party to Fort Greene. There's face painting! There's prizes! There's mojitos! It's all on Saturday from 10am to 4pm. Then Sunday is the annual 5th Avenue Fair in Park Slope. Bands! Food! Boatloads of moms with strollers! It's on Sunday, Noon to 5pm, all along 5th Avenue from Sterling Place to 12th Street.

Midtown Lunch Fifth Birthday Party
Saturday, June 11th, Noon to 3pm
City Winery
155 Varick Street

Habana Outpost Block Party
Saturday, May 14th, 10am to 4pm
757 Fulton Street
Fort Greene

Fifth Avenue Street Fair
Sunday, May 15th, Noon to 5pm
Fifth Avenue, Sterling Place to 12th Street
Park Slope

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pirate Monkey Cupcakes

Pirate Monkey Cupcake Close up

My oldest niece just turned ten years old and chose to mark her entry into double digits with a pirate and gypsy themed party. She was the pirate captain, naturally. Since we weren't able to make it out to Chicago for the festivities, last month we did a pirate party reprise at my in-laws house complete with pirate monkey cupcakes made by yours truly...

Pirate Monkey Cupcakes

Inspired by Little B's pirate monkey gear from Gymboree, I created these cupcakes with captain and first mate monkeys. I thought I was finished Jolly Rogering up the pirate hats when I discovered a few plain black caps in the bunch. Since I had already dyed my remaining frosting red, I decided to give them red skulls and cross bones, I think the effect was kind of fun. The cake itself is the adapted mud cake recipe I made for Brooklyn Kitchen's Cupcake Cookoff a couple of years ago and the liners are from Reynolds new "Stay Brite Baking Cup" line. True to their word they stayed bright in the oven.

Next up later this month is Little B's birthday. I'd better get cracking on my idea for the little guy's cake. I'm thinking of going with a banana cake or a pumpkin cake--something not very sweet. Any recommendations for first birthday cake recipes?

In the meantime, here's a little birthday shoutout to another favorite May baby, my Lil Bobo! Hope you enjoy your special day! You may be able to drive, and vote and rent a car, but you'll always be my little brother. Love you!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Travels with Blondie: Going Back to Kansas

Free State Monday Specials
And so I went back to Kansas for a week of bird-chirping and bunny-spotting relaxation. Even after all these trips, I still have food finds for you! The best of the bunch is definitely the Sheridan's frozen custard stand at Kauffman Stadium, or the $1.75 Monday drink specials at Free State Brewery. A pint for under $2 is unheard-of here in New York.

Sheridan's Custard
The plan was to go into Kansas City to catch a Royals game on the Friday night aka Buck Night because hot dogs, peanuts, and soda are all $1. I, of course, was looking for something beyond your regular hot dog. I did spot that burnt ends are available, but once that strawberry shortcake eating contest came on the Jumbotron, I immediately began lobbying for a walk out to the Sheridan's stand above center field.

Sheridan's Custard
Unlike the stadiums around here, the main store was the only spot to get the good stuff. There was another smaller stand selling a much shorter menu. But you want the bigger menu, even if some of the sundaes are over $7.

Helmet Cup
While there are none of my favored rainbow sprinkles on their helmet cup, there is hot fudge and whip cream. The custard is creamy, smooth, and dense. It was nice to have a different texture from my usual soft serve helmet cup. I'll be sure to check out the Strawberry Shortcake during my Memorial Day trip. Or maybe the Doug E. Fresh!

Uncle Ray's
Another good find came on the trip to the stadium. A stop for beers lead us to come across Uncle Ray's Potato Chips. I just so happened to need a snack to accompany the tailgating! I'm always looking for a chip comparable to Zapp's dill chips, and Uncle Ray's would be good in a pinch. While Zapp's are kettle cooked, Ray's are the normal thin slice, and the dill flavor would need a bit more kick to really get me hooked. They were nice to munch on though, not too greasy nor did they leave my hands coated with flavoring.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Checking out the Hipster Brooklyn Flea

Apple Pie!
The coming of spring time also means the opening of a dozen different outdoor markets. New Amsterdam opened up two weekends ago, Hester Street Fair (Saturdays only this year) this past weekend, and about a month ago, the Williamsburg home of the Brooklyn Flea. The crowds kept me away the first weekend, but I couldn't stay away for long. I had to check out the food scene, especially since it's within walking distance of my apartment.

Dough Doughnuts
The first thing I was happy to see was the addition of Dough doughnuts. Everyone seems to be raving about them, and I'll be more inclined to try one without having to trek anywhere. Too bad I'd already wrecked my diet that weekend, so no doughnuts for me! One day, one day.

Red Hook Vendors!
I also spotted that the Red Hook Vendors had made the trip up! Pupusas for everyone! I may still travel to Red Hook on occasion, but with this so much closer, it's a no brainer.

Peanut Butter Jellified
Of the new vendors spotted, I have my eye on Rachel's Pies (that's her apple pie at top), and Peanut Butter Jellified. A $4 slice of pie after a $5 Button sounds like a pretty awesome lunch to me.

Red Plum Shaved Ice
Since I was a little heated in the sun, I did make a stop at People's Pops for some red plum shaved ice. I love that their treats aren't laced with tons of sugar, making this shaved ice just the right treat for cooling down without feeling gross or getting too sticky.

Liddabit's The King
But I HAD to bring home some kind of little treat. That day I was in the mood for something a little more extravagant, and upon spotting the Liddabit stand, I KNEW I needed to get something. After careful consideration, I decided to take home one of their King candy bars. At $6.50, these are some pricey candy bars, but it's all homemade and incredibly delicious. And the higher price is a good way to make this more of a treat rather than an every day occurrence. The King is peanut butter nougat with a brown sugar-brown butter cookie, and fresh banana ganache, all covered with milk chocolate. You're not buying this in any grocery store. I was pleasantly surprised by how much the banana flavor came though, it's completely equal with the peanut butter. I liked that it's covered in milk chocolate, anything darker would have been too sharp for the flavors.

The Brooklyn Flea is in Williamsburg on Sundays from 10am to 5pm, rain or shine. It's located on North 6th Street between Kent and the East River.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Don't Forget, this Sunday is Mother's Day!

Golden Girls Cupcakes: Sophia and Dorothy
Mark your calendars, Mother's Day is super early this year. That's right, it's this Sunday. Commence flower arrangement/chocolate ordering. In honor of my first Mother's Day as a mother from the B&B archives, here's the Golden Girls mother-daughter duo of Sophia and Dorothy in cupcake form...

Golden Girls Cupakes: Sophia and Dorothy

Happy Mother's Day! Be good to your mom!

For further Golden Girls cupcake pleasure check out this link to a classic Betty White/Bea Arthur scene where Rose and Dorothy have a conversation about "cupcakes."

Rose: No offense Dorothy but your cupcakes are dry and tasteless, nobody ever wants to try your cupcakes!
Dorothy: My cupcakes are moist and delicious. Men LOVE my cupcakes.
Rose: Get a clue Dorothy, men would rather PAY for cupcakes!

For more frosted celebs check out:
Fashion Designer Cupcakes (Donatella Versace, Karl Lagerfeld, and Betsey Johnson)
Lady Gaga Cupcakes
Liza Minnelli Cupcake

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Eataly's Cioccolata con Panna Makes Me a Hot Chocolate Believer

Eataly Cioccolata con Panna
My mother starts nearly everyday with hot chocolate. Intensely dark hot chocolate. I don't think she would run without it. My relationship with hot chocolate is far more tepid--I'm going to be honest and just put it out there that I'm not that big a fan. I'll even go so far as to say that with the exception of Jacques Torres' Wicked Hot Chocolate, it's generally not worth the calories in my book. A recent visit to Eataly, however, has caused me to reconsider this philosophy entirely.

It was too late in the afternoon for me to go for one of my usual espresso based drinks, so on a whim, I decided to try a small serving ($3) of the cioccolata con panna from Eataly's Lavazza Café, which I figured given my relationship with hot chocolate would more than satisfy. But I was wrong. Oh so, wrong, because the cioccolata con panna is hot chocolate perfection. It's dark and rich, sweet without being too sweet and ever so slightly thickened--there's nothing watery about this cup. The small is enough for an afternoon sugar rush or to take the edge off a sweets craving, but consider yourself warned that you'll probably regret not ordering the larger size.

Lavazza Café
200 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10010
(212) 229-2180

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Big Gay Ice Cream Truck Returns!

Grape Nuts Topped Ice Cream from Big Gay Ice Cream

Regular Softee season is already well underway, but tomorrow marks the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck's inaugural run of the 2011 season. Salty pimps, oh how I've missed thee! Best of all Doug and Bryan are back with some VERY BIG news...

Serious Eats NY has the full scoop (*sorry, I couldn't resist), but the long and short of it is, BGICT is coming out with a book with Abrams in 2012! And Doug promises: "our book isn't just recipes. I'll also share things like my preferred way to shoo heroin dealers away from your ice cream truck." Ice cream and life lessons. What more could you want?

Vanilla Soft Serve with Dulce de Leche and Nilla Wafers from the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck

The truck should be in place at Broadway and 17th tomorrow afternoon (check their twitter feed @biggayicecream for timing. I can't wait for my first Bea Arthur of the season. That sounds really wrong, and yet...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Lunch with Hellman's & A Giveaway!

Bobby Flay
Two weeks ago, I was allowed to have lunch on behalf of Hellman's and Bobby Flay. I come from a Hellman's house, so this was a no-brainer. They're still promoting their Build the Perfect Sandwich Sweepstakes, so we got to eat sandwiches from Bobby Flay's recipes. We watched Bobby do his thing at a small kitchen station as slices were handed out. My personal favorite was the Cuban, probably because it was grilled and toasty. Afterwards, it was time to create our own and to get an awesome gift bag that I want to give away to one of you!

Making Sandwiches
The sandwich stations were packed with fresh cold cuts, breads, toppings, and of course the Hellman's line. I chose to make a chicken and roast beef sandwich on a baguette, topped with their olive oil mayo (personal note: I love this stuff!) and potato sticks. Potato sticks still take me back to being a kid and placing them on my tuna fish!

Picnic Bag
After that fun time, they gave us gift bags. This isn't an ordinary bag, it's for picnics! The bag comes with glasses, plates, utensils, a mat, a fancy serrated knife, a tray, and Bobby Flay's cookbook. Since we love our readers, I decided this was destined for giving away!

Picnic Bag
The bag is a tad heavy and with so many little pieces, this giveaway is only open to NYC residents (I will most likely have to drop this baby off with the winner). Email us at Blondieandbrownie at gmail.com by Friday 8am, and we'll pick a winner! And yes, you will also get the jar of Hellman's. Here's to summer picnics!