Wednesday, November 30, 2011

GLAD's Holiday Cookie Exchange!


Snickerdoodles
A few weeks ago, I was chosen by Foodbuzz to host a GLAD Holiday Cookie Exchange! Through November and December, GLAD has been holding a virtual cookie exchange on their Facebook page as part of their Glad to Give campaign. For every cookie exchanged, they're donating 10¢ to Cookies for Kids' Cancer. So click on over there and raise money for the children! To help us spread the word about the campaign, Brownie and I hosted our own cookie exchange with a little help from GLAD and Foodbuzz.


Momofuku Cornflake Cookie
For our exchange, we didn't want to get too seasonal. Everyone's going to be eating gingerbread men and snowflakes for the next month, so we went a little wackier route with two Momofuku Milk Barnge, then keep track of the cookies exchanged! inspired cookies, plus a few simple others. The first Momofuku cookie was the Cornflake-Chocolate Chip. Caramelized cornflakes, chocolate chips, and gooey marshmallows make this one perfect cookie. The best recipe out there can be found on Momofukufor2.com.


Momofuku Compost Cookie
The other one I brought was the imitation compost cookie. This was a *huge* hit last year and I plan on giving out more than a few this year. The recipe was made public on Live with Regis and Kelly a few years back, and I still use it (via Amateur Gourmet) despite the official cookbook coming out earlier this year. One of my favorite at the exchange ended up bring drool-worthy Snickerdoodles. One of the best recipes I know of for these is found in the classic "Joy of Cooking".

Pumpkin Spice Cookies
One of Brownie's friends also dropped off some moist Pumpkin Spice and Apple Oatmeal cookies. These ones help offset the sweetness from the others, and made us feel a little bit healthier about sitting around and eating cookies all afternoon. Anyone can hold a bake sale or cookie exchange to help raise money for the charity. Simply go to GLAD's Facebook app, and register your excha

*Full disclosure: I was sent a huge box of goodies from GLAD including containers, snowflake cookie cutters, a Williams-Sonoma cookie sheet, an OXO cookie flip and 5-quart mixing bowl, and I am receiving a stipend from Foodbuzz to cover the cost of ingredients. This exchange and post were done as part of Foodbuzz and GLAD's Tastemaker program.*
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Le Paddock Brings Under $10 Brunch to Windsor Terrace

Le Paddock Croque Madame
Sigh. Thanksgiving is over. It's full throttle holiday season from here on out. Maybe you hit up Black Friday or Cyber Monday or maybe you're a wait-'til-the-last-minute shopper. If you want to save your coin for ye olde holiday gift budget, Le Paddock's under $10 brunch menu is well worth a look-see...

As a rule I typically don't brunch in the Slope much anymore. The places get crowded. Brunch is expensive. And waiting to eat when you have a hungry toddler in tow isn't awesome for us or the people around us. For quality sub $10 brunches we typically head in the direction of Ditmas Park. Mimi's Hummus and the Farm on Adderly are favorites. And recently we discovered the wonders of Brancaccio's in Kensington.

Le Paddock on Prospect Ave and Reeve in Windsor Terrace combines a charming French bistro with down to earth prices. Here's le menu...

EGGS BENEDICT: poached eggs with Canadian bacon, hollandaise, roasted sweet potatoes 8.95

EGGS FLORENTINE: poached eggs with spinach, hollandaise, roasted sweet potatoes 8.95

EGGS NORWEGIAN: poached eggs with smoked salmon, hollandaise, roasted sweet potatoes 8.95

BAKED EGGS: two eggs baked in cast iron pan with feta, ratatouille and herbs 8.95

FRENCH TOAST with Fresh Fruit and maple syrup 8.95

EGGS ANY STYLE with bacon, roasted sweet potatoes and toasts 8.95

PANCAKES with Fresh Fruit and maple syrup 8.95

OMELETTE OF THE DAY 8.95

You can upgrade any of the above with American coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice, Sake Mary or Mimosa for 12.95. They also have a few a la carte brunch options like, including a Croque-Madame (aka an open faced sandwich with ham, gruyere, bechamel, fried egg) for 9.95.

We were pleased with our trip to Le Paddock for dinner and brunch didn't disappoint. It's hard to beat a good Croque-Madame. How could you go wrong with melty cheese, salty ham, topped with a perfectly fried egg. Open faced sandwich bliss.

I'm looking forward to making a return trip to try more of the brunch menu.

Le Paddock
1235 Prospect Avenue at the corner of Reeve Place
Brooklyn, NY 11218
lepaddockbrooklyn.com

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Frigidaire was in Times Square

Frigidaire in Times Square
Last Wednesday, Frigidaire set up a tent in a very rainy Times Square to launch their "Double or Nothing Holiday Challenge." Dun dun. Chefs Anne Burrell and Geoffrey Zakarian had to prepare holiday feasts using only Frigidaire's Symmetry Double Ovens (which I desperately want if anyone out there's listening) while Claire Robinson had hosting duties. Of course, this was broadcast live over the internet on Facebook and on a few of the massive screens around Times Square. But it's all to raise money! And you can help!

Frigidaire in Times Square
Through this week, you can vote for which chef had a better menu on Frigidaire's Facebook page, and for every vote, Frigidaire's going to donate $1 to Save the Children. So go like their Facebook, watch the video taken on Wednesday, and vote as many times as you'd like! And enter for a chance to win one of these *awesome* ovens. Seriously, look at that thing! It can hold two turkeys! It has convection! It's smudge-proof stainless steel! I love it.
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Friday, November 25, 2011

Full of Pie? Cookie Monster Isn't...



Oh, Cookie, you so crazy! Seriously, is it just me or did Cookie Monster used to be even more ridiculous...



Was it just me or did this persnickety librarian annoy you, too as a kid? Me would like glass of milk, too.

Hope you're rewarding your post-Black Friday or pre-Cyber Monday efforts with a nice big cookie!
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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gobble, Gobble


Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Thank you for stopping by and reading our foodie nonsense! We love you all, even you gogglebot.com! Now go eat some turkey! jump

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Save Some Mashed Potatoes!

potato doughnuts

Mashed potatoes. Simple and comforting, they're definitely a favored Thanksgiving side dish in my family. But this year I'm going to be skipping seconds and hoarding my 'tato leftovers. Why? Because mashed potatoes make for mean doughnuts...

Made with mashed potatoes in place of a portion of the flour, potato doughnuts are surprisingly light and fluffy. Inspired by my dog-eared 1967 copy of the All-Maine Cooking by Ruth Wiggin and Loana Shibles, I developed a recipe for Potato Doughnuts for a recent installment of my American Classics column for Serious Sweets. I'd always been a bit intimidated by frying. So much oil! So much potential for spattering/bodily injury! Yet, I found doughnut making to be remarkably easy and actually kind of relaxing. There's something very satisfying about watching dough turn perfectly golden. And there's something even more satisfying about eating fresh doughnuts.

Potato Doughnut

With a dusting of sugar and a hint of spice, these doughnuts lack the heaviness that often accompanies cake doughnuts. And no one will ever guess that spuds lie within. If you're getting up early for Black Friday, all the more reason to start your day right with a satisfying breakfast.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chicharron Salad in the Middle of the Night

Chicharron Salad
Oh, it's possible. Chicharrons in salad. Chicharrons are Latin American fried pork rinds, and I can think of no better place to put them. Neither can Coppelia, the new Cuban diner open on 14th Street. Recently a few friends and I found ourselves STARVING after an event, and Coppelia saved our lives with something delicious to eat.

Coppelia
I had already heard that their nachos are supremely awesome, and was fully prepared to get those when we sat down. But then I saw the salad: the chicharrons, avocado, blue cheese, peppers, and, one of my latest favorite salad toppings, a fried egg. Delicious and decadent without stuffing myself to the gills late at night. Had I been under the influence, I might have gone heavier, but this was just perfect. I'll be stopping back soon!

Coppelia
207 West 14th St
(212) 858-5001
coppelianyc.com
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Monday, November 21, 2011

T-Minus Three Days 'Til T-Day, Do You Know What Kind of Pie You're Making?

Ritz Mock Apple Pie

Thanksgiving. It's this week. Yeah, I know, the crazy weather has thrown me off, too. But it's game time. Sure turkey may be the "star of the show," but you and I know it's not about the bird. It's about the pie. And while you could go the regular old pumpkin and apple route, why not mix it up? Here are some off beat pies that will be welcome additions to your Thanksgiving table...

Mmm.  Pear Gruyere Pie!
Let's start with Pear Gruyère Pie. This is my signature pie. I created the recipe as a tribute to the brilliant and dearly departed tv show Pushing Daisies. The gruyère and butter crust is a surprisingly perfect complement to the spicy, sweet, boozy poached pear filling. Make a double batch of crust and use the extra for an awesome leftover turkey pot pie.

Chili Chocolate Pumpkin Doughnut Pie
Next up Chili Chocolate Pumpkin Doughnut Pie. I created this for Jackie Gordon and Ken Leung'spie potluck at Rodeo Bar last month. This may very well be my new signature pie. Start with chocolate graham cracker crust. Add homemade chili chocolate pudding (way easier to make than you might think). Top with homemade pumpkin doughnuts (how good would these be for Thanksgiving breakfast? Soooo good. That's how good.)

Looking for an apple-ish pie without having to peel, core and slice apples? Try these two recipes I recently cooked up for my American Classics recipe column for Serious Sweets...

The first pic above is the famous (infamous?) RITZ Mock Apple Pie, that you may remember from off the back of the RITZ cracker box. Warning, this pie contains no apples. But it tastes like it does. No, really. Due to the presence of vanilla, lemon and cinnamon, the filling tastes remarkably similar to a tender apple pie.

Cider Custard Pie
If you're not up faking out your guests, but still want an easy pie in the apple realm, try this Cider Custard Pie. Slightly sweet, with a puckery finish, this creamy pie takes your standard custard to the next level.

Magic Cookie Bar Pie

Got some kid helpers coming over for Thanksgiving? Cakespy's Magic Cookie Bar Pie is quick, easy and fun to make.

Brown Butter Pumpkin

Not into making your own pie? You could try to get one of the limited pies that Four & Twenty Blackbirds will have available on Wednesday the 23rd and Thursday the 24th. They'll have Brown Butter Pumpkin, Salted Caramel Apple, Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan, and Salty Honey. Just be sure to set your alarm for EARLY. Blondie braved the lines last year and they completely sold out. The early bird gets the pie.

What are you planning on making for Thanksgiving?
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Friday, November 18, 2011

Kansas City 'cue in N-Y-C?


John Brown Rib Tips Sandwich
All those trips to Kansas did yield one good thing, I was spoiled with Kansas City barbecue. If my last trip had taken a few different turns, I would have more to say on the matter—I was secretly planning a little KC BBQ tour for myself. Before I went, a few friends had told me about a new place in LIC, John Brown Smokehouse, that was supposedly serving up Kansas City-style 'cue. Since I thought I had access to the real thing, I wasn't all that interested. And then I didn't really want anything Kansas-related for a few months. Then I began missing my ex-boyfriend delicious Kansas City burnt ends! Yup, pretty much that and Iwig Dairy ice cream! Onto the 'cue!

Macaroni and Cheese
When I went they were already out of burnt ends for the day (fail), so I went with the sweet rib tips. People, this sandwich fell apart in more ways than one. I should have gotten the platter or asked for it on a roll. It was good, but I wasn't overwhelmingly impressed. Neither was a big fan of the mac 'n' cheese. I like mine more cheesy, a little more melty. A friend says this is how her Jamaican relatives make it, and maybe this is Kansas City-style too. I was always focusing on the fries and meat to pay attention to other sides. I will try John Brown's again specifically for the burnt ends because I now have a hankering for them. Or expect an impromptu secret KC jaunt.


John Brown Smokehouse
25-08 37th Avenue
Long Island City/Lower Astoria
(718) 361-0085
www.johnbrownsmokehouse.org
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Let's Hear it for Jiffy Mix!

Jiffy Mix

Whenever I see the old-fashioned 30s era Jiffy Mix box, I get a little twinge of nostalgia. You see, Mama Brownie, loves Jiffy Baking Mix. Loves it. You might even call her the Jiffy Mix Queen...

The Banana Bread recipe and the Dumpling recipe on the back of the box are two of my Mom’s favorites. Mama Brownie makes a mean chicken and dumplings. I’ve seen her do this with one of those leftover grocery store rotisserie chicken. Here's how you do it...

Procedure:
Place in a large soup pot the following -
One Chicken carcass
2 stalks of chopped celery
2 smashed cloves of garlic
1 chopped carrot
1 medium onion - chopped of course
4 cups of water
2 cups store bought chicken broth
Salt and white pepper to taste (if you want it like Mama Brownie’s--lots of white pepper)
Place the pot on medium heat. Cook until the chicken falls apart.
Turn off the soup. Take out the chicken and all the bones and place in a bowl. Set the soup in the pot aside. When the chicken is cool enough to touch, take all of the meat off of the bones.
Transfer the chicken meat back into the pot with the soup.
Make the Jiffy dumplings (recipe on back of the box)
Turn the heat up under the soup pot till it is gently bubbling.
Drop the dumplings in by the spoonful. Reduce the heat to a simmer.
Put on the soup pot lid. DO NOT LIFT THE LID till the 12-15 minutes have passed.
Serve immediately.

Mama Brownie’s Chicken and Dumplings tastes like a chicken pot pie filling gone to heaven or as Lil’ B always says: "Yum!"
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lobster Rolls in Greenpoint


Lobster Joint Lobster Roll
Lobster Joint has been open for a while now in Greenpoint, but since it's on the other side of the neighborhood and they didn't offer delivery until recently, it was only recently that I got to stop by and try their rolls. For this roll with fries, it's $17, a steep splurge lunch for me. But it was soo worth it. Also delicious there, fish and chips.

Lobster Joint Fish and Chips
I'm not sure how Brownie would find Lobster Joint's lobster roll. It wasn't saturated with mayo (plus) and on a buttered bread bun (another plus), but included celery (Connecticut style minus?). I like the crunch of the celery, and sweet succulent claw meat. I could see myself craving this at the most inopportune times like when I don't have $20 to drop on lunch. My lunch date got the fish and chips platter which for $14 is quite the deal. Two *large* pieces of beer-battered fresh fish topping their outrageously crisp and awesome fries. Next time I stop by, it's going to be hard to choose between the two. Guess I better get used to walking all the way down Manhattan Ave to satisfy my cravings.

Lobster Joint
1073 Manhattan Avenue
Greenpoint
(718) 389-8990
lobsterjoint.com
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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's Hard to Get More Chocolatey than Brancaccio's Pain Au Chocolat

Brancaccio's Pain Au Chocolat
My love for pain au chocolat is deep and abiding. Almondine in Park Slope makes a terrific pain au chocolat (one that’s best paired with their popular raspberry filled beignets) and Colson Patisserie just down the block makes an excellent brioche Suisse, which in their words is “like a pain au chocolat but better.” Turns out that Brancaccio’s in Kensington not only has a super Thanksgiving dinner deal, but last weekend I discovered that they also make a mean pain au chocolat...

Buttery and flakey, the photo above is no illusion, the middle is absolutely stuffed with chocolate. There’s nothing more disappointing than biting into a pain au chocolat anticipating chocolate-y bliss and discovering a pathetic, hard little lump of chocolate. With the housemade pain au chocolat at Brancaccio’s that’s not a concern--no bite will lack for chocolate and that’s a-okay in my book.

The pain au chocolat are baked throughout the day in small batches, but your best bet is to go early.

Brancaccio's Foodshop
3011 Fort Hamilton Parkway
(Between East 2nd and 3rd Street)
Brooklyn, New York 11218
Email: info[at]brancacciosfoodshop.com
brancacciosfoodshop.com
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Monday, November 14, 2011

Cheap Fish Tacos on the Lower East Side

Fish Taco
God, I love fish tacos. Especially when the fish is fried. The fish has to be fried. Grilled fish tacos are trying to hard to be healthy. Fry those babies! A few weeks back, I came across Taqueria LES, on Orchard just downtown from Houston. Though it's an offshoot of a Jersey City spot, you'd think the owners were from LA with the crazy amount of 80s/90s Southern California decor. They were also playing "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" when I stopped by, and that wins you instant points.

The tacos there are all $3 and under, and I hear that the rest of the menu is stellar too. I focused on stopping by to try the fish. Though not the crazy size of Rockaway Taco, for $3 it was pretty awesome. Freshly fried with not too much breading, it's a compact, delicious little taco. Enough for a snack and small enough to mix and match for a meal, I'm surprised that more people haven't been singing their praises--it might just be one of the best fish tacos in the city.

Taqueria LES
198 Orchard Street
(212) 677-3910
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Friday, November 11, 2011

Totally Tempted to Let Brancaccio's Do Thanksgiving for Me

Brancaccio's Food Shop
I love Thanksgiving. I do. I love the food. I love spending time with family. I love the satisfaction of a delicious homemade meal. But dang. It's a lot of work. Lawman and I actually use a whiteboard to coordinate all the dishes and timing to make sure that everything hits the table when it should. That's why I've been very, VERY tempted to reserve a complete Thanksgiving dinner (for six!) for only $150 from Brancaccio's Food Shop...

Here's the menu...
10-13 lb Turkey with Aromatics
1 lb Focaccia Bread Stuffing
1 lb Cornbread Sausage Stuffing
1 quart Turkey Gravy
1 pint Cranberry Sauce
2 lbs String Beans
2 lbs Maple Glazed Baked Apple and Sweet Potato
2 quarts Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
2 lbs Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
1 dozen Caputo Bakery Dinner Rolls
Apple or Pumpkin Pie

Wow. I'm getting hungry reading from typing that list. I think I would miss cooking, but...still that's a super good deal for the amount of food. And everything I've eaten from Brancaccio's has been delicious. Very tempted. Very. According to their site all orders need to be placed by November 18 for November 23 pick up.

Brancaccio's Foodshop
3011 Fort Hamilton Parkway
(Between East 2nd and 3rd Street)
Brooklyn, New York 11218
Email: info[at]brancacciosfoodshop.com
brancacciosfoodshop.com
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

You Should Have Ordered!

Four & Twenty
Minutes before I was supposed to be at Salsa Slam, I made an impromptu stop at Four & Twenty. I couldn't help myself. But the stop did let me know that they are officially booked for their Thanksgiving orders. Yes, you can no longer order your Thanksgiving pie from Four & Twenty, but there will be a few pies available the Wednesday the 23rd and Thursday the 24th. The pies available will be:

Brown Butter Pumpkin
Brown Butter Pumpkin, Salted Caramel Apple, Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan, and Salty Honey. If last year's lines are any indication of what will go down this year, I recommend you getting to the store in the early morning hours because they *will* sell out.


Four & Twenty Blackbirds
439 Third Avenue at 8th Street
Gowanus
(718) 499-2917
birdsblack.com
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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Goodbye My Lover, Goodbye My Friend

Gingerbread Bread Doughnut

I remember the day we met like it was yesterday. Standing on line at Rock Center’s now long gone Citarella, I was about to order my usual toasted whole wheat bagel with lox cream cheese when I spotted you all decked out in Valrhona. You were all I had ever dreamed of in a doughnut. Over the years we’ve shared some special times--summer picnics, holidays, but now I fear our love has grown stale and I need to let you know that I’ve met someone new...
I’ve struggled with this for some time, I didn’t walk into Dough expecting to fall in love, but I’ve been swept away. Dough is just, well, more exciting. Their lemon--it’s lemon-ier. Their chocolate is not just dipped in chocolate, it’s positively slathered in it. Slathered. And if we’re talking cheap date, let’s just say that my dollar goes a good bit further with Dough. As much as this pains me to admit it, I know now that you’re no longer number one in my heart.

I’m sorry it’s come to this, but I suspect you’ve known this was coming for a while and I wanted to clear the air. I don’t want it to be awkward when we run into each other in Dean & Deluca or on the Lower East Side. Maybe with time we can be...friends...

Thanks for the memories, Doughnut Plant.

xo,

Brownie
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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Salsa Slamming

Salsa Slam '11
This past Sunday, I had the fortune to attend NachosNY's Second Annual Salsa Slam. There were an ample amount of chips, salsa, and beer (and football if you went into the main room of The Bell House) so everyone got to eat to their heart's content. I found that most people went traditional, and quite a few were heavy-handed with the heat. Thank God for the extra chips after the especially hot ones. And bonus points when two of my favorites won prizes!

Bieber Fever
My boss, Matt Robicelli, entered with "Bieber Fever" a red plum and pineapple salsa. It was very cooling and still had a little kick from the ghost chilies. It was pretty awesome for a non-traditional salsa, and I'm not saying that because he pays my bills. It ended up winning "The Greatest Stretch."

Roasted Tomatillo & Chipotle Salsa
#2: Roasted Tomatillo and Chipotle was another favorite of mine. I love the smoky taste from roasted tomatillos, so I knew I would love this salsa. It wasn't overwhelmingly hot which is also a good thing in my mind (and my stomach agrees), and had a little bit of savory-sweet to it. I did wish that my cup held more salsa!

For more on the winners, head on over to NachosNY.
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Monday, November 7, 2011

Cranberry English Muffins, Where Have You Been All My Life?!

Cranberry English Muffins

In the interest of full disclosure, I do not like English muffins. There's something about the tangy, slightly sour aftertaste that I just find rather unpleasant. And don't tell me I'm the only one that was traumatized by those saccharine Thomas' commercials from the 90s with the terrible child actors. Let's put it this way, if English muffins are on offer for breakfast, I'll take a pass. But Lawman likes his English muffins and in recent months, I've begun to warm to the fiber-licious, light multi-grain Thomas' English Muffins. When I stumbled upon limited edition Thomas' Cranberry English muffins, I was torn, would my love for seasonal products/good marketing outweigh my aversion to English muffins?

I'm not even joking when I say that I had to do a couple laps around the grocery store before I decided to put them in my cart. I told Blondie how excited I was to try the cranberry muffins and the first words out of her mouth were "well, you're going to put something more interesting than butter on them, right?" Ummm. Errr. Butter was exactly what I was thinking of. "How about cream cheese?" I offered. She did not look impressed. "Peanut butter?" Not moving the dial at all. I took this problem to the fridge, where I encountered a tub of Gorgonzola spread that I recently purchased from East Village Cheese. Fruit and cheese go together, right? Sold!

I did one half butter (sorry, I'm boring) and one half Gorgonzola. The muffins are studded with cranberries...not just a couple cranberries but lots of them. Sweet, but not too sweet, they work well with both butter and the sharpness of the Gorgonzola cheese. I'm down to my last muffin so I went back to the store to try to restock and they were GONE. GONE! If you have spotted these muffins give a shout out in the comments (and if you have any suggestions for more exciting toppings feel free to share that, too!)
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Friday, November 4, 2011

Pierogi and Blintzes in Greenpoint

Blintzes
Many people think I moved to Greenpoint for hipster cred or its proximity to Williamsburg and everything it has to offer. Reality is I moved here so I could have my sort of comfort food always available. That and my cheap rent. See I spent my teenage years living next to a former Greenpointer and Polish immigrant. Every few weeks her and a friend would get together to make TRAYS of pierogi, along with other beloved Polish food. Being from a Czech family, this made us happy and brought us together. Her pierogi are still the best in the world, in my mind at least. The ones at Pyza aren't even close, but their blintzes are pretty nice.

Pyza
While I was doing my research for Cheap Eats in Greenpoint, a friend and I stopped by Pyza to check out their offerings. I had been hearing about them for a while now, but the source wasn't as well-versed in exceptional pierogi eating as I am. Pyza will regularly serve up their pierogi steamed, not fried which more than irritated my dining mate. Aside from that, the smooth and creamy potato filling was pretty great, but I found the dough a little too gummy for my taste. On the other hand, the blintzes were perfectly pan-fried, with thin skins and filled with farmer cheese. The generous dusting of powdered sugar also helped. I would visit Pyza again in a heart-beat since this stick to your ribs meal was all of $14 with two drinks.

Pyza
118 Nassau Avenue
Greenpoint
(718) 349-8829
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Travels with Brownie: Bananas for O'Roukes

Bananas O'Rouke
What could be more delicious than French toast covered with caramelized bananas? How about French toast that's made from banana bread THEN covered with caramelized bananas? Yes, oh, yes, I'm talking banana bread French toast and you can get this deliciousness at O'Rouke's Diner in Middletown, CT...

If you love diners, O'Rouke's is a worthy spot to visit. Located in downtown Middletown, the diner is deeply rooted in the community and a beloved hang out joint for students at nearby Wesleyan University. Opened by John O'Rourke in the 40s, it's been run by his nephew Brian O'Rouke since the 70s.

In August 2006, the diner was catastrophically damaged by a fire and it's future seemed precarious. The restaurant didn't have fire insurance and the cost to reopen was estimated at $350,000. The community pitched in a la It's a Wonderful Life and these days you can still find Brian O'Rourke manning the grill whipping up creative takes on breakfast classics banana bread French toast topped with bananas O'Rourke. For $12 you get a hefty serving and one that's best enjoyed with a crowd on account of the sweetness. Next time I visit I'm going for the babka French toast...

O'Rourke's Diner
728 Main Street Middletown, CT 06457
(860) 346-6101
orourkesmiddletown.com

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Oooooh, Frankies Sausage Sandwich

Frankies 457 Sausage Sandwich
I recently spent a couple of my meals in Carroll Gardens researching the best cheap meals in the neighborhood. I made sure to stop by Frankies Spuntino 457 to have some simple Italian goodness. With fresh bread from Grandaisy and meats from the great Faicco's Pork Store in the West Village, I spied the sausage and broccoli rabe sandwich for a tasty lunch. For $12, it was an absolutely fabulous lunch.

Frankies 457
I was always under the impression that Frankies was in the $$$ range, but when I looked up their menu, I was pleasantly surprised to see entrees under $20, and sandwiches $12 and under. Sure, a dinner there could add up, but if one was looking for a nice spot for lunch where they just want a sandwich and maybe dessert, it's definitely in the $-$$ range. The sausage sandwich was full of fennel and evenly spiced, with all the excess oil being soaked up by the rosemary bread. Their light on the broccoli rabe and it added a nice bittersweet taste to the sandwich. Of course, the vegetable makes it feel a little bit healthier. I also spied big bowls of soup on a neighboring table, and hope to stop by again soon for some late fall soup goodness.

Frankies Spuntino 457
457 Court Street
Carroll Gardens
(718) 403-0033
www.frankiesspuntino.com
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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Zuppardi's Apizza = Clam Pie Perfection

Zuppardi's White Clam Pie

If Blondie’s recent pizza excursion to Otto was somewhat of a fail, let’s talk epic, epic win. Pizza is serious business in New Haven. There are Pepe’s fans and there are Sally’s fans. I was born to a Sally’s family. My grandfather grew up on Wooster Street, the first born son of immigrants from Southern Italy. When my mom was growing up he took the family out to Sally’s every Friday night. A white clam pie was a must. My mom’s first meal after giving birth to me was a white clam pie from Sally’s compliments of Flo Consiglio herself. The arguments between fans about whose pie reigns supreme can get heated. Coming from a Sally’s family, the mere thought of trying Pepe’s lauded white clam pie seemed like a betrayal on par with turning my back against Red Sox Nation to root for the Yankees. Inconceivable. And yet…though I loathe the Yankees with every fiber of my being, I can respect that they have some talented players. While my heart belongs to Sally’s, I appreciate that Pepe’s makes their clam pie with freshly shucked clams rather than canned clams and I was ready to cede them the title of best clam pie in New Haven…until I tried Zuppardi’s….

Zuppardi's White Clam Close Up

Ok, Zuppardi’s technically isn’t in New Haven, it’s in West Haven, but I’d venture to say that their clam pizza is the best in the New Haven area (and therefore the world). Growing up outside of New Haven, Zuppardi’s wasn’t even on my radar. If we weren’t getting pizza from Sally’s we’d order from Modern or one of the many pizza places in my home town. But when I read Serious Eats overlord Ed Levine call it “the grand slam of clam pizzas, the best clam pie I've ever had,” I knew I had to give it a try. The clams are freshly shucked to order and the pie is sold at market price. On my first attempt, we had some seriously poor timing…coming in at the end of the night on the day of the West Haven Italian festival. They had run out of clams at lunch time.

A recent trip home with Blondie was more successful. Clam pie perfection. The crust was thin yet chewy and the pie was loaded with tender clams and tons of garlic. So much garlic. Whoever it was that decreed that cheese and seafood shouldn’t mix, they can shove it. Zuppardi's for the win!

Zuppardi's Apizza, 179 Union Avenue West Haven, CT 06516
(203) 934-1949
www.zuppardisapizza.com

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