Monday, January 31, 2011

Cook the Mag: Dinner and a Tart

Sara Moulton's French Apple Tart
I loved the challenge of making a few recipes out of last month's Saveur magazine, that I made this practice one of my New Year's resolutions! I love trying new things in the kitchen and this might just be the motivation I needed. For this month I had to peruse the Chef's Edition, The Saveur 100. So many recipes and techniques to choose from, but a lot required a massive amount of ingredients I didn't have in my cupboard, or out of season foods. Plus with all this snow, I wanted simple and comforting. Enter Porchetta's Sara Jenkins' Pasta Alla Norma, and Sara Moulton's French Apple Tart.

Sara Jenkins' Pasta Alla Norma
I've heard that those of us who do make some of our meals tend to rotate the same recipes. Of course, this leads to much palate fatigue and boredom, something I was experiencing recently. I need new, simple, mid-week dinners that taste good, are quick to whip up, and don't cost a fortune. Eggplant is not usually a vegetable I find myself using at all, so when I read this pasta recipe using roasted eggplant, I was curious to how it would taste.

Roasting Eggplant
The dicing and roasting was extremely easy, even though I halved the recipe and didn't bother mixing the eggplant and oil together in a bowl. I also substituted my leftover mozzarella cheese for the ricotta salata. And this was one great pasta dinner. The roasted eggplant added a nice vegetable flavor to the mix, a good option for those who want something meat-less. By making a sauce mainly from the tomatoes, it covers the pasta nicely, but doesn't smother it. I think I've found a new recipe for my rotation.

Sara Moulton's French Apple Tart
French Apple Tarts are the dessert of my baking nightmares. I've always wanted to make one, but I've been terrified of making the rose pattern. It just looks intimidating for anyone less than a professional! Luckily, the wonderful Sara Moulton (she's one of our idols!) gave the readers a technique cheat sheet. My rose didn't come out looking anything like a rose, but at least I tried. I learned that I need very slim slices and smaller apples for the next tart. My one caveat about the recipe is how the ingredients are listed, be sure to keep your butter split into 8 tbsp and 4 tbsp. If you're like me, you'll cube all 12 tablespoons and then realize the split. I best guessed it and didn't tell anyone of the mishap. The tart must have came out spectacularly since it disappeared in less than 15 minutes.
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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Robicellis Reprises their Park Here Pop Up

Robicellis Chicken and waffles cupcake

This is your last weekend to get in on the Openhouse Gallery indoor park Pop Up. The Robicellis were there to open it up and they'll be there this last weekend as well. In addition to the surprisingly delicious Chicken 'n' Waffles special event only cupcake, they'll be debuting what they call their most ambitious cupcake yet...

The Hot Josh
(Photo courtesy: Allison Robicelli)

Here it is in it's glory: The Hot Josh. Yes, oh, yes, that would be a celery root and carrot cake with Point Reyes blue cheese buttercream and citrus tinged Buffalo chicken. Wha?! If anyone can make that work and be freaking amazingly delicious it'a Matt and Allison.

Also on tap:

Chicken 'n' Waffles:Vanilla "waffle" cake, vanilla buttercream, buttermilk soaked fried chicken dunked in pure Vermont maple syrup

El Guapo: Sweet corn cake, cilantro lime buttercream

The Sarah: Apple spice cake, goat cheese buttercream, salted honey-almond brittle

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel: Chocolate cake, peanut butter buttercream, crushed pretzels, ganache drizzle

It's also Matt Robicelli's 30th birthday weekend. All the more reason to drop by and share a cupcake.

Robicelli's Cupcake Pop-Up
PARK HERE @ OpenHouse Gallery NYC
201 Mulberry Street btwn Spring & Kenmare
Saturday, January 29th
11 am- 6pm
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Choice Eats Early Bird Tickets Are On Sale!

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Did you remember to set your calendar to buy your Early Bird Special Village Voice Choice Eats tickets? They're on sale starting today and there's only a limited number. The early bird tickets will sell out quickly and the event ALWAYS sells out, so don't say we didn't warn you. Need a little convincing? Well, we have some news on the Choice Eats, Choice Treats, and Choice Streets participants that may help you make up your mind...

Here's who's confirmed so far with more to be announced in the coming weeks...
For Restaurants:

An Choi, Baohaus,
Bark Hot Dogs, Caracas Arepa Bar, Cascabel Taqueria, Del Posto, Kashkaval, Luke's Lobster,
Maima's Liberian Bistro & Bar, Marmaris Restaurant, Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches, No. 7 Sub, Northern Spy Food Co, O Lavrador Restaurant, Ofrenda, Ovelia Psistaria Bar, Patacon Pisao, Porchetta, Red Hook Lobster Pound, Resto, Satay Junction, Spicy Bampa, Takashi, The Meatball Shop, and The Vanderbilt with more to be announced.

Wafels & Dinges

Additionally, this year's Choice Eats marks the inaugural Choice Streets "a food truck welcome outside lining the Armory entrance featuring a sampling from top New York City food trucks while you wait. Korilla BBQ Truck, Joyride Truck, Wafels & Dinges, The Taim Mobile, and Kimchi Taco Truck will be participating.

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If that's not enough this year they are also introducing Choice Sweets, a sweet send off at the end of the night. The Good Batch, and Kumquat Cupcakery will be in the Choice Sweets Lobby and that will be open to any old Choice Eats attendee. If you're feeling a bit fancier, a splurge VIP ticket will get you access the main event as well as to a special Choice Sweets VIP tasting room from 8:30 - 9:30pm featuring Babycakes NYC, Alice's Tea Cup, Liddabit Sweets, Del Posto and Robicelli's, in addition to:

*Entrance to the VIP Room one hour early (5:30pm)

*Early sampling from a handful of restaurants

*Complimentary beverages

*VIP Gift Bag (estimated $100 value)

*Entertainment

Best of all a portion of the Choice Eats ticket sales will be donated to Slow Food NYC. See you there?

The Village Voice’s Fourth Annual Choice Eats
Tuesday March 29, 2011 6:30 - 9:30pm
The 69th Armory at Lexington Avenue
68 Lexington Ave @ 26th Street, NYC
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Our Latest Lunching Adventures

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Newsflash, it's freaking freezing. Oh, you knew that? Well, don't let the cold weather keep you from lunch. Here are some of our recent lunch time excursions...

Lemon Square from the Treats Truck

Lemon squares from the Treats Truck.

Wafels and Dinges Truck parked in the Treats Truck usual spot on 45th

Sausage and gravy waffle from Wafels and Dinges.

Pistachio Baklava

"Damn good" baklava from Eat and Go Istanbul.

For all of our week day lunching adventures be sure to visit, Midtown Lunch.
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Monday, January 24, 2011

Shake Shack's Shamrock Shake

Gang Green Milkshake
If you weren't paying attention to Shake Shack's Facebook page the past few days, then you missed out on Sunday Playoff special. In honor of the NY Jets making it to the AFC Playoffs, they created "The Gang Green" milkshake available yesterday only. Peppermint Custard Milkshake, that sounds eerily like the elusive St. Patrick's Day Shamrock Shake!

Snowy Shake Shack
After running a few Union Square errands, I made my way up to the original Shack-just me and tourists who don't realize there are Shacks with walls and warmth. I ordered the shake and was able to warm my hands a bit by one of the heat lamps before my buzzer came to life. Sweet, peppermint, milky, creamy custard goodness, this is everything the Shamrock Shake aspires to be (because I hear it's sort of a let-down.) And if you get it in the dead of winter, you don't have worry about the shake melting before you've had a chance to enjoy it!

Shake Shack
Various Locations
www.shakeshack.com
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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fried Pickles from Corner Burger, Park Slope

Corner Burger Pickles

I first discovered the joy of fried pickles while traveling for business in Kansas City. Oh joy, oh rapture! I haven't seen them on too many menus in the city (though I've heard that Hooters and Brother Jimmy's serve up some good "frickles"), so I was pleased to see them a little closer to home in Park Slope...

In the years since the ChipShop downsized into a smaller space, I haven't tried any of the restaurants that have popped up on that corner of 5th avenue and 6th street. I've been intrigued by Corner Burger, especially since I first saw the fried pickles ($3.50) on the menu. They other day I was in the neighborhood running some errands, so the timing seemed perfect.

My mom was with me and at first she was skeptical of the whole notion of fried pickles, but when they arrived hot and fresh out (and believe me they were hot!) she became a believer. Unless you have a huge appetite, an order of these is way too much for one or two people, so this is better shared with a crowd.

I also had the turkey burger with American cheese, sauteed onions and a side of avocado (for Little B). The burger was filling and moist. Next time I'm trying the Montreal Poutine--they have 12 different kinds!

Corner Burger Turkey Burger



Corner Burger

381 5th Avenue
Park Slope
(718) 360-4622
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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chocolate Brioche with Sea Salt and Butter from The Farm on Adderly

Chocolate Brioche

I've only been to Ditmas Park's The Farm on Adderly in Ditmas for brunch three times and every visit the Chocolate Brioche with Sea Salt and Butter ($3) has caught my eye. Turns out third time was a charm...

The brioche was light and buttery with just the right amount of dark chocolate and crunchy sea salt. Perfect for sharing (or not sharing), this makes for a great pre-brunch appetizer to take the edge off.

The Farm on Adderly
1108 Cortelyou Road
Brooklyn NY11218
Tel 718 287 3101
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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I'm Now a Cheese-Maker!

Pita Pizza
Well, sort of. Part of my Christmas gift from Brownie and Lawman was a cheese-making kit, but vacation and sickness delayed cheese-making experiments. I had purchased a gallon of Ronnybrook milk at my local Greenmarket the Saturday past, the only item you need to purchase, and I waited for my window of opportunity.

A Gallon of Milk
What better way to spend your afternoon on a 25° day? My stockpot almost never sees any action, but I have nothing else that will hold a gallon of milk. You heat the milk and separately add the citric acid and rennet.

Curds & Whey
After heating and a little wait, you have curds (the white part) and whey (the liquid). Time for more heating and stirring.

Curds
And you're left with curds. Mine kept getting caught up on my spoon creating long strands of half cheese/half curds that tangled like matted hair. No worries, you heat up the cheese again in hot water to make it pliable and silky.

Finished Mozzarella
And then there are baths to be had, a cold and an ice. Unfortunately while I cooled down my cold bath, my cheese started separating! I tried to warm it back up to bring it back together, but I still ended up with weird spots. And my cheese lost too much moisture, but a little olive oil on top helps to make up for it. Plus, it's still fine enough for melting on pita pizza and that's good enough for me!
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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Harvest Pancakes from Tom's Diner

Tom's Diner
Over the years I've heard rave after rave reviews of the pancakes from Tom's Restaurant in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. But I've also heard legend of their long waits. One of our good friends lived just around the corner and right before he moved we decided to have a farewell brunch at Tom's. Hello, pancakes...

Tom's Fries

First I'd like to mention that while you're waiting in the long lines, the folks from the restaurant bring you treats, like their spicy fries with a smokey chipotle aioli. These were so crispy, so perfectly fried that our first order of business when were were finally seated was putting in an order of these for the table.

Harvest Pancakes

On to the pancakes...my friend recommended the Harvest Pancakes which have Cranberries and Sweet Corn folded into the batter. Tne pancakes were pleasant, not super dense, but not super fluffy either. What really made the pancakes were the assorted flavored butters. The cinnamon butter paired especially well with the Harvest Pancakes. If I'm dying for awesome pancakes I'll still stick to Shopsins, but it's a fun and friendly neighborhood joint and the fries alone are worth a return visit.

Tom's Restaurant
782 Washington Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11238
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Acceptable Sick-Day Lunch

Peter Pan's Chocolate Donut w/ White Cream
There's nothing like getting sick on vacation, but it's double fun when the sickness decides to commence its grand attack on New Years. Trust. So after returning from my sojourn to Kan-sas, I made it a valiant two days at work until I threw in the towel and called out sick. Contributing to Midtown Lunch has been very good for me in the past year-it makes sure that I actively seek out and eat delicious, cheap lunches during the workweek. But on the sick days at home, anything goes come lunchtime. Yes folks, I ate a doughnut for lunch on my sick day!

Here's how it happened: with my cold raging, I decided to get a juice from Urban Rustic with a follow-up stop at Rite-Aid. I had a leftover doughnut craving from Kansas where I did not get the chance to eat at the local 24-hour doughnut shop, Munchers. Rite-Aid is next to Peter Pan on Manhattan Avenue, and as any Greenpointer can tell you, the sweet scent of doughnut bliss coats the area throughout the entire morning. My damaged defenses could not resist. I gave in to the chocolate doughnut filled with white cream. Sweet, decadent chocolate cake doughnut with a silky, light vanilla whipped cream; I couldn't tell what kind of cream it is, but I don't want to know. I could eat bowls of it. And if you're not allowed to eat doughnuts for lunch on sick days, when would you be allowed to do such things?

Peter Pan Bakery
727 Manhattan Avenue
Greenpoint
(718) 389-3676
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Maitelates Alfajores

Nov Foodzie Box

Back in November, Blondie met the folks from Foodzie at the 2nd Annual FoodBuzz Festival and they hooked us up with giveaway tasting boxes for our readers and then sent us each a box to try ourselves. For those of you not familiar with the company, Foodzie, is an online artisanal marketplace where you can buy unique food products from small producers across the country. I was pretty psyched when my Foodzie tasting box arrived, but with the holiday craziness, I'm a bit ashamed to say that it got left neglected for far too long. Fortunately when I finally came to my senses, all the tasty treats were still in fine shape...

We get a lot of offers for samples, but we never make any promises to review things. B&B is, and always has been, a labor of love for us. If we're going to spend the time putting together a post, it has to be something that we're truly passionate about. So if we get things for review we're not going to post about it unless we really love it. And if we got it for free, we'll always tell you--and weigh whether we would pay for it, if we had to--in our review. All that said, I LOVED the cookies that came in my November Foodzie box.

Maitelates Alfajores Cookies

The Maitelates Alfajores (my-tay-lah-tes al-fa-hor-es) cookies were spectacular. Maitelates are Ann Arbor, Michiganmade dulce de leche filled shortbread cookies enrobed in rich Belgian chocolate. The cookies themselves were buttery and tender and fared surprisingly well considering I had received my package some weeks earlier. I quickly demolished mine and instantly regretted offering the other to Lawman. These cookies are just too good to share. You can order your own assortment of Maitelates here. A box of these would make a great Valentine's gift (hint, hint, Lawman)
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Monday, January 10, 2011

Chicken & Waffles, and a Lobster Roll

Chicken & Waffles Cupcake
Park Here, the pop-up indoor park space in Nolita, was definitely one of this weekend's scenes. Everyone seems to need a little reminder that some day summer will be here again when we can sit on real grass, listening to real birds. At least through January, sitting on faux grass while eating cupcakes, or doing yoga, will just have to do.

Robicelli's Menu
Openhouse Gallery, a New York event venue has decided to let their space on Mulberry street be transformed into a park with events and food throughout the month of January. For their opening weekend, some of our personal favorites were on hand: Robicelli's, Luke's Lobster, and Mexicue. Immediately upon entering I got hands on one of Robicelli's famous Chicken & Waffle cupcakes. Yes, fried chicken and maple syrup on a cupcake-so wrong, yet so right. It's a bit of a puzzle eating this, I went with an opening bite of just frosting and cake, then slowly eating it as a frosting sandwich. Bites with all three components are like delicious gold ring prizes. Luckily, Matt Robicelli is a master at frying these little chicken pieces; they're moist, but not greasy, and perfect with frosting and cake.

Luke's Lobster Roll
I like to pretend that the chicken n' waffles cupcakes wasn't savory and can't be classified as lunch, which meant that I still needed to get some sustenance. Well, after Brownie and Little B arrived, we chose to split one of Luke's Lobster signature rolls. "Wait, are you switching sides? Do you like lobster rolls?" A person is always allowed to change their mind or tastes, and maybe I've taken a liking to Luke's rolls. You still won't find me dipping lobster meat into butter anytime soon. But Luke's rolls with their buttered toast and fresh lobster meat may have a follower in me.

Click here for a look at the other events going on in this space during the month.

Park Here
201 Mulberry Street
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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Travels with Blondie: Learn to Plan Your Eating

Cheeseburger & Fries
After the insanity known as Blizzard-pocalypse 2010, I attempted to board another flight out to the great state of Kansas. My plan was to make it to LaGuardia in enough time to enjoy a cheeseburger from Pat La Frieda. That delicious specimen above from my October attempt had two bites before being tossed-I can thank a flight cancellation for ruining that meal. This second time, a delayed bus and a lost wallet contributed to looking longingly across the aisle at hamburger deliciousness while waiting for a Port Authority cop to take my statement. Thank God Delta serves free peanuts.

Burnt End Sandwich
I'd been thinking about my Oklahoma Joe's burnt ends for months, but I didn't make a note that they're only served Wednesdays and Saturdays. Since New Year's Day feel on Saturday, that meant no burnt ends. What I didn't realize was that they're always closed on Sunday. No Oklahoma Joe's for me; I promise to make up for that next month.

Horchata @ Esquina
But I did find me some horchata at Esquina in Lawrence. Esquina sells a nice rice-based horchata with plenty of cinnamon added. It was the perfect accompaniment to the spice in their paella.

Oreo Cheesecake & Power Cat Crunch
Lastly, I did find two flavors from Sylas & Maddy's that won't be on my favorites list: Oreo Cheesecake, and Power Cat Crunch. I was underwhelmed by both, I'll just have to eat my way through their menu.

Esquina
801 Massachusetts
Lawrence, KS
(785) 856-1625
www.esquinalawrence.com
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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Celebrate Elvis!

Elvis Cake Slice 2
This Saturday, January 8th would have been Elvis Aaron Presley's 76th birthday. In honor of the Elvis and his love for peanut butter, bacon, and bananas, I created a wicked good birthday cake that's being featured this week over at Peanut Butter & Co's All Star Recipe Blog. A cake that I'd wager is fit for a King...

Speaking of the King, if you are in the city you can kick off your Elvis' birthday celebration at PB & Co with their famous Elvis sandwich. To sweeten the deal, when you order an Elvis sandwich between now and Saturday, the 8th, you get a free jar of peanut butter.
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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cafe Kashkar and an introduction to Uyghur Food in Brighton Beach

Manti from Cafe Kashkar

Is it possible to crave a type of food that you've never had before? That's how it was with me and Uyghur food, a delicious lambcentric cuisine of Eastern and Central Asia. Some time ago I read about the wonders of Cafe Kashkar on Serious Eats New York. For some reason it popped into my head one weekend. With nothing else on the books, Lawman, Lawman-in-law, Little B and I headed out to Brighton Beach to get our lamb on...

Naryn

In Robyn Lee's review of Cafe Kashkar, she called out a few dishes that sounded and looked seriously awesome. Among those were naryn ($6), which the menu helpfully describes as "pieces of dough with seasoning." This dish was served cold and the dough bits were chewy and very lamb-y tasting with a texture akin to noodle scraps.

geiro lagman


For a more traditional noodle experience, check out the Geiro Lagman ($6) noodles with meat & vegetables. Tender chunks of lamb and veggies on a bed of hand pulled noodles seasoned with plenty of cumin and topped with scallions. This dish had a touch of heat as well. While the naryn was an interesting dish, it didn't blow my mind, the Geiro Lagman, however, was one that I'd seek out again, as were the manty, the tender lamb filled boiled dumplings topped with scallions and dill (seen above).

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They brought out our dishes as they were ready and last, but not least, came the lamb kebab ($3). We only ordered one, which with all the other food was fine, but it was so tender, so juicy, so downright delicious, I wish that we had ordered more. For lamb lovers, Cafe Kashkar is terrific spot to explore.

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Cafe Kashkar
1141 Brighton Beach Avenue (between Brighton 14th Street and Brighton 15th St)
Brooklyn NY 11235
718-743-3832
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Monday, January 3, 2011

Kicking Off 2011 with Brunch and a New Camera

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After 3+ years with my trusty, rusty Sony Cybershot, I decided to upgrade at long last to a digital SLR. The last couple of days of the year were spent stalking camera forums to decide on which one would be right for me. I managed to get my order processed in the nick of time and walked out of Adorama on Friday with my brand new Nikon. Naturally I had to take it out for a spin for brunch on New Year's Day...

Lawman, Little B, and I slept in fairly late on New Year's morning and then we proceeded to drag out feet getting out the door only at around 3:00ish. We figured by the time we got to The Farm on Adderly over on Courtelyou Road there shouldn't be a line. Alas, we were wrong. There were a fair number of people in front of us that also had the same sleep in late/brunch plan. Fortunately the restaurant turned tables over pretty quickly and they squeezed us in before their kitchen closed for break at 3:30.

I'd been to the Farm for brunch once before during warmer weather. We got their French Toast with caramelized apples ($9) then and it was so good I couldn't resist getting it again, this time adding a side of housemade sausage ($3). The French toast itself is rich and moist with crispier edges. The center of the slices had an almost creamy and smooth texture of bread pudding. It's sweet enough that you don't have to add maple syrup unless you really want to--that would be, as my dad would say, gilding the lily. The caramelized apples are lovely and tender. I do wish that it came with just a bit more apple, as you do have to ration and pace yourself to make sure that your last bites aren't sans apple-y goodness. The housemade sausage gives this dish a little more heft so it fills all those tummy nooks and crannies.

I love the very chill vibe at the Farm, from their friendly wait staff to their funky mismatched furniture. It's quickly becoming a fav brunch spot.

As for the camera, I'm just getting my feet wet, but I'm loving it so far. The Sony will live on as a back up, but I'm excited to see what I can do with my new Nikon in the days that come. Here's to 2011!
The Farm on Adderly
1108 Cortelyou Road
Brooklyn NY11218
Tel 718 287 3101
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