Thursday, June 30, 2011

$10 Lobster Rolls from the Dog & Claw

Dog and Claw Roll
On our drives to Maine we'll occasionally stop off to stretch our legs in Portsmouth, NH. It's a charming old New England city and great for walking. On a recent visit I noticed a lobster roll cart on Market Square called the Dog & Claw selling $10, yes, $10 lobster rolls. Clearly this was worth investigating...

I love me a good lobster roll, but they can be quite dear.$10 is enough for me to fill a touch extravagant without breaking the bank.

Dog and Claw Cart

How did the roll stack up? Good amount of meat for the price. My only complaint was that there was perhaps just a touch more mayo than I typically like. Still, for $10 this is a great deal. If you're blowing through Northern New Endgland this summer, it's worth a stop.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Guac on a Boat

Guac Rock 2011
During the past few months, I've gotten to know Rachel from Nachos NY. It's a site about nachos, naturally. Well, in two weeks they're doing something very awesome: throwing a Monday night cruise where the focus is guacamole, tequila, and bands. And it's benefiting the Food Bank for NYC. I hope to be in attendance.

The boat for Guac Rock 2011 will be leaving The Jewel at Skyport Marina (East 23rd St and FDR) sometime after 7pm (you better be there at 7pm!) and sailing around the harbor while everyone jams to three bands, eats guac, and sips tequila. Espolón Tequila is even giving away complimentary tequila from 8-9pm. I know I can drink $25 worth of tequila in a hour, but can you? Tickets are available here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Nom Wah at Last!

Turnip Cake with XO Sauce

Three years ago when Mei Lei Wah went out of business (before reopening as Mei Li Wah), I went on a Chinatown pork bun quest. On that quest, Lawman-in-law and I paid a visit to Nom Wah, one of Chinatown's oldest dim sum restaurants. We had high hopes, but alas when we got inside all that we found was a large table of elderly Chinese men playing mah jong, a case full of stale looking almond tea cookies. We waited several minutes to see if anyone would notice us and take our order, but it was clear they were either closed for the evening or not interested in our business. Flash forward 3 years and Nom Wah has reopened and this time we got to eat the food!

Nom Wah Menu

Wilson Tang, nephew of long time owner, Wally Tang, has taken over the joint and is restoring the place to it's former glory. The restaurant wasn't overly crowded when Lawman and I went for a late lunch the other day. They serve dim sum to order, a big plus if you can't deal with the weekend Chinatown dim sum scene.

Har Gow from Nom Wah

The Har Cheung (shrimp in rice noodles) was very pleasant and the fried turnip cake with XO sauce was worth a return trip. The interior of the renovated shop is quite charming. It's a pleasant place to nibble tea cookies and shumai and while away the afternoon with a pot of tea. I'm looking forward to try some of the other menu items.

Nom Wah Interior

Nom Wah
13 Doyers Street
New York, NY 10013

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Great 2011 CSA Adventure

Blueberry Cobbler
Early last year, Brownie and Lawman joined a CSA. I was excited to hear all about recipes they created and maybe even a chance to join in the CSA fun. When that didn't really happen, I decided that this year I would finally make the CSA commitment to see for myself what the fuss is about. During the spring, I signed up for half share of vegetables, fruit, and eggs from the Greenpoint-Williamsburg CSA. Only two pick-ups in, I'm a little bit in love and majorly overwhelmed!

June 15 Vegetable Share
My first pick-up went well enough. We received zucchini, broccoli rabe, garlic scapes, Swiss chard, radishes, lettuce, turnips, rhubarb, and braising greens. Somehow I managed to get through a good 60% of that-the braising greens weren't touched, and a radish or two might be floating around the bottom of my crisper. Speaking of crisper, that was my first CSA lesson: how to properly store all of your share since you're going to be eating this for the next week.

Packing it away
Storing vegetables is not my forte in the slightest. I'm totally the person who finds moldy carrots and wilted, slimy spinach on a regular basis. So for each vegetable, I googled what the proper storing technique was; it often involved a Ziploc bag and lots of paper towels.

Lettuce Wraps
As for recipes, I'm still learning. To use up some of the lettuce last week, I made tuna lettuce wraps with radish slices and avocado. Luckily a friend of mine is much more experienced at CSAs and blogged all the standout recipes she's come up with.

June 22 Pick-Up
The second pick-up involved kale, cilantro, beets, arugula, and scallions, with more lettuce, turnips, and zucchini. I'm officially not a big fan of turnips, by the way. I made kale chips and threw the cilantro in the freezer, and then tried to figure out what to do with the rest of it.

Open Faced Salad Sandwich
Maybe an open-faced sandwich with sunny-side up eggs? I had drizzled red wine vinaigrette on the fresh bread underneath. It was fabulous.

June 15 Fruit Share
The fruit share is pretty nice too. The first week was a quart of blueberries and a pint of strawberries. But when we got three pints of blueberries in the second week, I knew I had to make something delicious.

Blueberry Cobbler
When life gives me blueberries, I make blueberry cobbler. And it was delicious. I used this recipe from Epicurious, which is really from the July 1990 Gourmet. We will never discuss how much I ate, but rest assured it was more than half.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Indian Blisters on My Sisters Revisited

Indian Blisters on My Sisters

I could order a different dish every visit to Shopsin's and still never make it through their always evolving, always mouthwatering menu. It's been nearly a year since I discovered the wonder that is Indian Blisters on My Sisters at Shopsin's and on a recent brunch trip couldn't resist ordering it again...

I understand that the Indian take on Blisters is a Zach creation, so naturally it's effing delicious. Potato and chickpea curry, peas, and basmati rice over pappadam with sunny side eggs and feta cheese. Feta cheese and curry? Yes, feta cheese and curry. It's works, I promise. In fact the feta brings the whole dish together and mellows the heat. This was the first dish that I ordered at Shopsin's after Little B was born and this time, armed with chompers, he got to join in eating it. He's a fan of peas and eggs and curry (and heat) so it was a hit with the little guy. Two small but nonetheless very enthusiastic thumbs up.

Essex Street Market
120 Essex Street
New York, NY 10002

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The 2011 Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America

Chef Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez
A few weeks back I had the privilege to attend the reception for the Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America as determined by Dessert Professional. Each of the chefs were going to be there, whipping up desserts for the guests. I arrived with a big sweet tooth and some emergency insulin, and afterward, was delighted to find that some of my favorite desserts are regular menu items here in the city. Here's a rundown of the highlights:

Chef Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez
Chef Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez from PRINT at the Ink Hotel was serving up Chocolate Flan with Chocolate Sorbet and Preserved Black Currants, but the lighter side didn't stop there. She was also serving slices of chocolate bread topped with Salvatore Brooklyn ricotta and drizzled with honey. The simpleness of this dessert while being incredible delicious really appealed to me. Best part: you can get this at PRINT as your dessert.

Chef Ron Paprocki
Another highlight was Chef Ron Paprocki's (Gordon Ramsay at The London) Valrhona Caramel Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Sable, and Milk Jam with Quark Ice Cream. It had nice contrasting textures, and wonderfully balanced flavors. And yes, you can get this at the restaurant too!

Chef Tariq Hanna
Chef Tariq Hanna from Sucre in New Orleans (a place on my "To-Do" list) did make a special dessert for the event, but you can get it at other special events. "Lipstick on a Pig" was his spin on a peanut butter and jelly: chocolate bread pudding, macerated strawberries, strawberry macaron, and peanut butter powder. It tasted and smelled exactly like a peanut butter and strawberry jelly with a bit of an added treat in the bread pudding.

Chef Francisco Migoya
And last, but definitely not least, I fancied the offering from Chef Francisco Migoya, an Associate Professor at CIA. He brought a small army of Black Forest Pops, once you cracked the outer shell, you found a dark chocolate mousse pop anchored by chocolate blackout cake. This was the last thing I had after two hours of desserts, and I ate EVERY BITE! The mousse was light and airy, and just perfect. If this was sold anywhere, I'd be in big trouble.

This wasn't nearly everything there and if you're hungering for more information, please hop on over to Dessert Buzz. There's even video over there!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Two weekends ago we had the chance to celebrate Midtown Lunch's 5th Birthday (go Zach! Thanks for making lunchtime in midtown infinitely more intere With so many terrific vendors, Kwik Meal, The Biryani Cart, Cer Te, Ma Peche, Food Gallery 32, El Rey del Sabor, Tri Tip Grill, Wafels & Dinges, Miss Softee & the Rolling Cones, Kelvin Slush, and Momofuku Milk Bar the food was awesome across the board. But let's just take another moment to revel in Blondie's Momofuku Milk Bar/Miss Softee mash up...

In a stroke of pure genius, Blondie decided to pair the Milk Bar's compost cookie with vanilla soft serve. Brilliant! She was trying for some cookiewich action but the cookies weren't quite cooperating--they broke in transit to the truck. So she improvised creating a MomoSoftee cookie taco. This surely demands revisiting (Blondie is apparently already planning a second mash up, though she hasn't revealed the flavor combo yet). Blueberry and cream with chocolate ice cream sounds pretty good to me...

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Big Birthday Giveaway

Nespresso Pixie
Aw man, this is the giveaway I've been waiting for! At the end of April, I had the fortune to be invited to a nice party thrown by Nespresso, the makers of really expensive coffee and machines. As a gift, they sent me one of their new Pixie machines which retails at $249. I held onto it because I knew the perfect way to start celebrating my upcoming birthday-by giving it away to a lucky reader! (cue balloons and confetti)

The event was pretty good; we got to have espresso inspired drinks and food. Ted Allen (from Queer Eye and Chopped) was there, as was Pixie Lott, a singer from the UK. Her voice was beyond fantastic when she sang a cappella for us, plus she seemed pretty nice and down to earth which is refreshing. It wasn't until nearly the end of the party that I figured out I was receiving the machine. Since I love blue and purples, I chose Indigo. I don't want to take the machine out of its box, so we'll just have to trust what's in there.

To win: you'll need to email us at BlondieandBrownie at gmail dot com by Friday morning, 9am. I'll be picking a winner at random sometime before noon. Friends, family, former coworkers and flings are encouraged to enter.

Also, I'd like to take a minute to make everyone aware that we've joined 2009 and started a Facebook page! This took a while for various reasons, but it would make us SUPER HAPPY if you "liked" us, even though Facebook is becoming a thing of the past.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Travels with Blondie: Kansas Has Carts!

Cherry Doughnut
When I went out to Kansas in April, I asked the Kansas if we could go to the Saturday morning Lawrence Farmers Market since it's the oldest one in Kansas and I have an unabashed love of farmers markets (touring the country's farmers markets is on my to do list). "Okay, but we'll have to get up early." I thought this meant 10am. Apparently it means 8am. The Lawrence Farmers Market is no NYC Greenmarket. They are packed up and gone by noon. Needless to say, we didn't make it. But we made it this past time, and I found food carts!

Ribs Cart
Just like at the greatest Farmers Market ever at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, in Lawrence you can get your breakfast on while shopping for groceries. That doughnut up there was a cherry doughnut from Hurtz. It had big dried cherries in the dough, and was the perfect pre-breakfast snack. They're $2, and if you get there early enough, you can score a Bacon Maple one. And this cart here is a ribs cart. Yes, Ribs! That's more of a lunch item for me, but it smelled and looked delicious.

Breakfast Cart
Next to the ribs cart was the breakfast cart, that was sold out except for coffee by the time us two lazy bums showed up.

Feasters Cart
Now Feasters wasn't REALLY a cart, but I can overlook that for ebelskivers. I like how the bacon ones were sold out; Midwesterners are fond of their bacon. Kansas and I toyed with the idea of getting some breakfast, but the line stopped us. I've been kicking myself ever since. Everything there was being whipped up fresh on their griddle, and the omelettes looked to die for. I'm thinking a return trip is in order next time.

Pretty Eggs
Instead of buying omelettes, Kansas and I did decide to pick up some eggs to make our own, and I absolutely fell in love with this dozen of mis-matched eggs. The green ones were so pretty!

Downtown Lawrence Farmers Market is Saturdays, 7am to 11am, in the parking lots between 8th and 9th Streets, and New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Be sure to get there early!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Getting the Most out of Your Free Drink from Starbucks

Quad Mint Mocha Frappucino
My dad is an avid Starbucks goer. And a gold rewards member who racks up some serious points. Often times when I go home there are several free drink coupons waiting on the counter for the taking. My dad gives the coupons freely with the caveat that I get his money's worth. And I think I found my perfect drink to maximize the freebie. How does a nearly $10 frappuccino sound to you?...

Here's the order: a Venti Quad Mint Mocha Frappuccino.

Base Venti Frappucino price: $5.25
Add four shots of espresso: $3.00
Plus mint syrup: $.50

Now you have an $8.75 drink plus tax bringing your total to $9.53. Not quite as much as this $20.65 drink that involves 22 shots and a pump of every flavor of syrup, but then again you might actually want to drink it. The four shots of espresso tones down the sweetness of the frappucino and expands the drink volume a good deal and the Park Slope Starbucks very nicely gave me the extra beverage in a grande cup (it was about 2/3s full). You'd better believe I'll be ordering this again.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Three Tarts Makes Square Ice Cream Sandwiches?

Three Tarts Ice Cream Sandwich
A few weeks ago, back when it was still summer and warm out, I found myself passing by Three Tarts again. I think I've maybe been once since writing about their Easter offerings last year, Chelsea is just not a part of town I get to very often. So here I am walking by, a little hot and very hungry, and what do I see but a posting of a Time Out New York article featuring their ice cream sandwich. Don't mind if I do...

Three Tarts Ice Cream Sandwich
Their ice cream sandwiches are a bit smaller than some of the others around, but that also means a smaller price tag ($4.25 each). At first I as taken aback by their use of cake and not cookies, but once I bit in, I saw the reasoning. The soft cake yields to your bite, making eating one of these a much easier job. There's no ice cream squirting out of the sides here. They have a few different varieties, I believe this was vanilla ice cream with a raspberry sorbet swirl. I liked the added sweetness from the fruit, but since it was only a swirl, it didn't get cloying or overwhelming. Definitely a nice summertime treat for before or after a nice High Line walk.

Three Tarts
164 Ninth Avenue
(212) 462-4392

Monday, June 13, 2011

Xi'an Famous Foods Youngest (?) Fan

Spicy and Tingly Leg of Lamb Salad

Much ink has been spilled on the wonder that is Xi'an Famous Foods. It's been spotlighted by Anthony Bourdain, and is regularly called out in best of noodle lists for NYC. I won't be the first blogger to wax lyrical over their spicy and tingly leg of lamb salad or their delightfully chewy Liang Pi Cold Skin Noodles. But I may have introduced their youngest fan to their food...

Little B is now just shy of 13 months and from the beginning he's had a taste for spicy foods--I attribute this to the massive servings of Korean and hot, hot curries I ate while I was pregnant. He loves his avocados mashed with a touch of Cholula. He prefers his hummus with a spicy kick. He's fond of Eritrean food. And when I met Lawman for lunch on Friday, Little B was determined not to be left out.

The spicy and tingly leg of lamb salad ($9.75) is on the expensive side for a lunch in Chinatown, but you get a ton of lamb. The cilantro lends a freshness to this cumin heavy dish. Little B wolfed this one down. To be honest it was a little heavy on the cumin for me, but he kept coming back with insistent "mo-ah, mo-ah, mo-ah."

Stewed pork burger

The "stewed pork burger" ($2.50) was a hit with both of us. While not a traditional burger, this was more of a Western Chinese take on pulled pork. The pork itself is super moist on account of being soaked in a meat broth and then diced into small pieces sandwiched in a crispy bun. This was the least fiery of the dishes we ordered, but the meat was rich and the perfect size for someone who has four workable teeth.

cold noodles

My favorite dish of the day was the Liang Pi Cold Skin Noodles. There's so much in this dish to love--the toothsome yet chewy hand pulled noodles, the softness of the gluten cubes. This dish is at once spicy and tangy. I could eat several plates without getting bored. Hope to bring Little B back soon to check out their lamb burger and other noodle dishes.

Xi'an Famous Foods
67 Bayard St
New York, NY 10013

Thursday, June 9, 2011

SCRATCHbread Rocks My World


Last weekend Lawman and I finally got the chance to visit Smorgasburg. Clearly, I hit up the Dough booth first thing for doughnuts, 'cause, hello, there's no way I can walk by their Chocolate Earl Grey doughnut, I'm just not that strong. Half an Earl Grey doughnut (and half a raspberry doughnut) later, with the edge slightly dulled, I wandered by the SCRATCHbread booth. I fell in love with their buttercream brownie at the Village Voice Choice Eats, but this time it was the Hot Sticky Mess that caught my eye...

Griddled chai sticky buns, with a vanilla bean crème anglaise, cinnamon and topped with a strawberry. Do I have your attention now?


Here are the buns taking a little dip in crème anglaise.

Frying up the hotstickymess

And then getting toasty warm.

Scratch Bread's HotSticky Mess

A double napkin dessert for sure, but one that's well worth any stickiness that may ensue.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Stuffing Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ice Cream Sandwich
You might have heard about the recipe Picky Palate came up with a few months back that involves baking an Oreo inside a chocolate chip cookie? I did, and so did Kansas. And he REALLY wanted to make them during his visit here, but we encountered a few problems. The dough was too dry and crumbly, the Newman Os-Oreos taste too chemically to me lately-kept getting squashed and losing their filling, the whole experiment didn't turn out good and I gave up. Then a friend of mine said that she too had problems making them. So I went back over the recipe and tried again.

Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
I knew I had to cut the flour content the original recipe calls for (three and a half cups), but by how much? I didn't want it to be so much that the butter would win out in the oven and cause cookie spreading. After a few calculations, I felt confident to just cut it back by a half cup, and leave the butter at eight ounces. I also cut a few of the chocolate chips out of the equation.

Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
I found that the best way to form dough balls-the batch where they literally looked like chocolate chip tennis balls came out better-was to use frozen cookies and pliable lukewarm dough. If you're one to place your dough in the fridge, you'll need to warm it up first. I would make dough patties about size of my inner palm, place the cookie in between, and seal it all together.

Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
And voilà! This was from the first batch, I was still perfecting the dough and cooking time, but damn was this a good triple cookie. I think I ended up leaving the second batch in for almost 15 minutes. I focused more on the golden top with a crispy bottom look than on the clock, so don't quote me on that.

Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
Here's the second batch, it was a bit more promising and enjoyable.

Ice Cream Sandwich
Once I surprised Kansas with the batch, his second response was "SYLAS & MADDY'S ICE CREAM SANDWICH!" Of course, I couldn't say no to that. We may have to do this again for my birthday celebration, but we'll have to make sure to get a bowl.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wondee Siam is the Place to Go for Soft Shell Crab Awesomeness

Garlic Soft Shell Crab

Lawman's uncle was in town last weekend enroute to Canada for a fishing expedition with my father-in-law. On his agenda for the whirlwind visit? Softshell crabs and good Thai. A visit to Wondee Siam was clearly in order...

Wondee Siams dot the Hell's Kitchen/Upper West Side, at last count I think there are five branches in all, but our favorite is Wondee Siam on 9th Avenue between 52nd and 53rd. This was where we had our last meal before Little B was born--while I was in labor (actual active labor, contractions included). We were walking the streets of Hell's Kitchen trying to hasten the little guy's arrival when we decided to stop in for some lunch. Once you check into the hospital they generally don't let you eat until you give birth for fear of liability if you need anesthesia. Whenever we're in the nabe, it's hard to pass up the opportunity for their authentic kick-you-in-the-teeth spicy Thai cooking and contractions were no exception.

But I digress, soft shell crabs are the matter at hand and during their short season, I can affirm that they are well worth seeking out at Wondee Siam.

We got the garlic and the chili preparations off the "secret Thai menu." Yes, it's actually called that, you used to have to ask for it specially, but now you can find it enclosed in plexiglass right on your table top.

Chili Soft Shell Crab

Both crab dishes were crisped to perfection. The garlic packed a pungent Dracula-wilting load of crunchy garlic bites, but it was the fiery chili crab (above) that won the day. There wasn't a morsal left behind and we doctored the garlic crab with the leftover chili sauce traces.

Soft shell crab season typically lasts until July, but it's best to call ahead so you're not disappointed (not that you'd be in danger of a bad meal if they were out).

My only caveat would be depending on your server you may need to be unrelentingly emphatic about your desire for heat (especially if you're not a native Thai).

Wondee Siam
792 9th Ave (btw 52nd and 53rd)
(917) 286-1726

Monday, June 6, 2011

What You're Doing Next Weekend

Midtown Lunch Party
The weekend's over, but it's never too early to start planning the next one. I know I told you about it a few weeks ago, but in case you missed the announcement, The Midtown Lunch 5th Birthday Party is this Saturday! If you buy your ticket right now, you could win a $100 gift certificate to Bon Chon. Mmm, Korean fried chicken, drool. Did I mention this is your chance to meet us?

Biryani Cart Sample Plate
This Saturday at City Winery from Noon to 3pm, you can eat all the biryani Chef Meru will feed you, experience the world's first pizza cart, spike your Kelvin Slush (I'll have a flask), and then we can make the world's first Momofuku Milk Bar cookie ice cream sandwich with Mr. Softee ice cream twist! How can this be a bad way to spend part of your afternoon? Oh, and by buying a ticket you're entered to win one of the many prizes! Seeing as The Vendys this year are $95 and involve a ferry ride, having this be your weekend cart splurge of the summer is a no-brainer. You know you want to buy your tickets here!

Again, the party's this Saturday at City Winery (155 Varick Street) from Noon to 3pm.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

First Birthday Cake

First birthday cake
I've made a lot of cakes over the years, but none have seemed as important as the cake I made a couple of weeks ago for my son's birthday. For Little B's first year we've heeded the words of our pediatrician and various baby guide: no sweets. But for the little guy's birthday, it seemed fitting to mark his passage from baby to toddler with cake...

Since Little B hadn't ever experienced dessert, I wanted to make sure his birthday cake wasn't too sugar high-inducing. He loves bananas, so a banana cake with cream cheese frosting seemed like it would be just the ticket. For the cake itself, I used this banana cake recipe that I developed for Peanut Butter & Co's All-Star Recipe Blog (minus the bourbon, people, this is a first birthday after all!) For the frosting I threw together 1 stick of organic butter, one block of organic cream cheese, 1 tablespoon of vanilla and confectioner's sugar (to taste, less than a cup).

Inspired by both the pirate monkey cupcakes I recently made for my niece's birthday, I created this monkey face by dividing the batter into two layer cake pans and two cupcake tins. I then split the cupcakes in half to create the ears. The accents on the cake are chocolate frosting and with cocoa powder around the mouth.

And the reaction? After demolishing a rather large piece Little B uttered his first word, (other than Dada and Mama): "Moh-ah!" That's my boy! Happy birthday, little man!