Monday, April 30, 2012

Choice Streets on the Intrepid

Choice Streets
Last week, Brownie and I had the awesome opportunity to attend the Village Voice Choice Streets, an extension of their annual popular Choice Eats. The setting was amazing, the food was amazing, everything was perfect. Some of our favorite trucks were there (and yes, more than a couple of ones that are in the book) and there were a few new-to-us ones too!

Mexico Blvd
As I walked in, I found my cohorts right at the front of the line for Mexico Blvd. They only hit the streets in January, and I haven't had the time to try them yet. They were serving up chips with dip and tacos. Of the one chip I stole, I enjoyed it. The guacamole tasted fresh and very rich. I will have to seek them out soon for a proper run-down. Follow them on Twitter @MexicoBlvd.

Chinese Mirch
Another new truck to me was Chinese Mirch. This truck is an off-shoot of the Chelsea Indian and Chinese restaurant. And they were serving up some mighty fine momos or dumplings, one vegetable and the other chicken. The skin is a little thick, but it's holding a bunch of flavorful insides. I liked out they placed the dumplings over a little bit of soup--a warming addition on a slightly chilly night. Find their truck on Twitter @ChineseMirch.

Bongo Brothers
One reason why we started this blog is so we can literally remember all of the things we've eaten. I know I've eaten Bongo Brothers, or at least I think I have, and yet I can't find any evidence. They were serving up hearty slices of their Cuban sandwiches. I, unfortunately, received an end piece that didn't have nearly as much of their slow-roasted pork. Follow their truck @BongoBros.

Green Pirate Truck
A wonderful addition to the night, especially for those of us who couldn't imbibe as much as we wanted to, was Green Pirate Juice. I went for a few of their organic juices in between bites, hoping that they were balancing out my eating a little bit. They'll be juicing around the city all summer, so check their Twitter @juicepirate.

Morris Grilled Cheese
Brownie finally got to try Morris Grilled Cheese, one of my new favorite grilled cheeses in the city period. It's always perfectly melted, the unique and seasonal sandwiches have yet to disappoint, and they're just so friendly. Find their truck NOW @MorrisTruck.

Kelvin Slush
And though, yes, we ate CoolHaus (and we would have done it repeatedly if their line wasn't so long), we also cleansed our palates while whetting our sweet tooth with Kelvin Slush. I had Ginger with Mango--a perfect summertime treat. Watch for their truck @KelvinSlush.

Choice Streets
All in all, a great time was had by all. By having it outside, we got to enjoy the great weather and it didn't feel as crowded as other food events. I hope this is just the beginning of another annual tradition. Until next year, check out the slideshow with all of our photos below.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Sheep's Milk Dumplings from Kefi

Sheep's Milk Dumplings 
After Blondie arranged a fab surprise dinner at Momofuku Saturday night I was struck by the flu. It was not pleasant. Not at all. Fortunately I was enough on the mend on my actual birthday on Monday to enjoy some Sheep's Milk Dumplings from Kefi...

I have been dying to Kefi since Serious Eats wrote up this Upper West Side Donatella Arpaia and Michael Psilakis eatery. They did not disappoint. The dumplings were delicate, plump pillows of pasta accented by creamy sheep's milk cheese. Add to that slightly wilted spinach, tomatoes and spicy lamb sausage and you have a wonderful salty, tangy, and spicy hat trick.

Order your own because you won't want to share. Lawman and Lawman-in-law dished up bites of this and I claimed the rest (which turned out to be the lion's share) with my post-flu cooties. Heh heh. If you're going to be saddled with lingering germs from being sick, you might as well use them to claim the best bites, right? Just a short walk from the Museum of Natural History, Kefi is worth the trip for the Sheep's Milk Dumplings alone. And though Little B slept through the meal, it's a laid back enough spot I can definitely see us going back to when he's aware and ready to chow.

Kefi 505 Columbus Avenue New York (212) 873-0200

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Upcoming Weekend Fun Eating Things

A-Pou's Taste
The time of year has come where, if you let it, your weekend can become jam-packed with fun foodie events. There are two specific events coming up that you should totally try to attend. The second one (but first up today) is the International Meats Local on May 6th. The Vendy Awards and New Amsterdam Market have teamed up to see if five street food vendors can reproduce their dishes using humanely raised meat and regionally sourced ingredients. Yay for sustainable street meat! But if sweets are more your thing, then this weekend will be a win for you.

NYC Food Blogger Bake Sale
Yay for food bloggers baking things and donating the money to Share Our Strength! We're generous like that (though Brownie and I won't be in attendance due to book-related activities). The bake sale happens at this Saturday's Brooklyn Flea. Ken from Hungry Rabbit and Lillian from Sweet by Sillianah have recruited a bunch of bloggers and businesses to donate delicious goodies for the buying. For the complete list, click here--it's long, but oh so, drool-worthy.

For tickets to the International Meats Local--it's only $22--click here. Remember, that's next Saturday at the New Amsterdam Market on South Street between Beekman Street and Peck Slip.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Daniel Delaney, Pitmaster-in-Training

Half a smoked meat sandwich from Schwartz's
This is a smoked meat (aka brisket) sandwich from Schwartz's from Montreal. It was basically a pile of fatty, meaty bliss on rye. It was the kind of brisket that could make a non-beef eater contemplate seconds. Daniel Delaney of VendrTV is endeavoring this summer to create "the most mind-blowing beef brisket New York's ever tasted" and you can help...

Here's the drill...

Daniel Delaney hauled an 18 foot BBQ smoker from Texas to NY and he's aiming for brisket glory. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to sign up for the Brisketlab, Delaney's new "underground smoked meat guild."

Here's where we read through the lines...the site says "Registration for Brisketlab will launch soon, and space will be limited. Sign up below for early access." I'm guessing that not everyone who signs up will be chosen as one of the meat elite. But as they say with ye old Lotto, you can't win if you don't play. And even if you don't get picked as a tester, I'd take brisket news in my mailbox over spam any day of the week. May the odds be ever in your favor...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Travels with Blondie and Brownie: Food Cart Hunting in Philly

Lunch cart Philadelphia 20th and Market

A couple weeks ago we visited Philadelphia to meet with our editor at Running Press. While we were there we couldn't pass up the opportunity to try out one of the city's food carts and our editor took us a popular nearby spot on 20th and Market. We knew things looked promising when we saw a 20 person long line already queued at noon not to mention the cart was festooned with heads, yes, heads of elephant garlic. How could that not be a good sign...?

Unlike the trendy trucks that have been hitting the streets here of late, this cart was everything but branded. Besides the hanging garlic there were full heads of garlic as decorations along with pots of herbs and a big vase of lilies. Nowhere was the name or even a menu. As far as I could tell he had the platter of the day ($9) and that was it.

Falafel Lunch Plate from Philly

I won't be the first to make the comparison to the Al Yeganeh, former proprietor of Soup Kitchen International (most famous for his fictional Seinfeld counterpart the "Soup Nazi). While I've heard that the owner, Gus, from Christo's Cart can have a temper, we certainly didn't witness it. He was pleasant, engaging and charming. He reminded me of Yeganeh in a good way. In the way that I treasure my memories of the few times I had lunch at the original Soup Kitchen International where the soups were always changing and the accompaniements had been specially curated to perfectly complement the soups. For an intern in college $8 for a soup lunch was a staggering sum, but one that I was willing to pay because it wasn't just a bowl of soup. It was soup and good bread, a little side dish, a special fruit picked just for your soup and a piece of excellent dark chocolate. It was that sort of attention to detail that I loved about visiting Christo's cart and that would bring me back to Philly for another lunch platter in a heartbeat.

Our lunch consisted of garlic-loaded hummus (those garlic heads weren't just for decoration), an ample helping of juicy chunks of grilled chicken, a watercress salad, some kind of other salad that involved cracked wheat and tomato, falafel, and two types of bread--a piece of challah and a piece of multigrain. The garlicky hummus, which incidentally, I could eat by the vat, was studded with red and green seedless grapes that Christos plopped on top. A nice sweet contrast to the sharpness of the garlic. The falafel, was slightly grainy, über-garlicky and perfectly crisp. The portion was huge. If I hadn't been so hungry and it hadn't been sooo good, it easily could have been two meals worth of food.

Gus takes his time preparing the food (hence the epic line) and he prepares limited quantities, so the early bird gets the lunch. I've read via Queens' own Jeffrey Tastes that Gus is actually from Astoria though he's been vending in Philly for over twenty years. Anytime he wants to come back, this is a lunch that I'd definitely welcome in my regular rotation.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Happy Birthday, Brownie!

Birthday Cake
Today's Brownie's birthday and to celebrate said occasion I organized a super secret surprise birthday dinner! It just so happened to involve Momofuku fried chicken--a dinner we've both thought about doing for a while, but neither has gotten our acts together to get that reservation. Seven adults and one Little B and we stilled struggled to finish the meal.  Rest assured, she's having a delicious birthday. Happy Birthday, lady!

Fried Chicken Dinner
(we need to do this again.)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Baked Doughnuts from Baked by Butterfield

Menu from Baked by Butterfield

In the pantheon of treats, doughnuts hold somewhat of a sacred space for me. They were the first thing I ever gave up for Lent. I take doughnuts very seriously. So when I started seeing chatter about Baked by Butterfield both from Flo Fab and dessert guru, Niko from DessertBuzz, the new baked doughnut shop on 77th & Lex, I knew that I had to go check it out. Baked doughnuts? Could that really work...

Treats to go from Baked by Butterfield

The shop itself, though small and narrow, is bright and inviting. Nice typography. Clean aesthetics and design. Alas, I didn’t get too many pics before I was busted for taking photos, but I did manage a shot of the menu and my bag o’ treats.

There were lots of tempting flavors. Red Velvet. Frosted Carrot Ginger. But it was the Mexican Hot Chocolate and the puffy Ceylonese Cinnamon that caught my eye. At $3 a pop, these doughnuts don’t come cheap, but neither do Manhattan rents, I suppose. Now the real question, how do baked doughnuts taste?

Mexican Hot Chocolate Doughnut from Baked by Butterfield

My son is just starting to form sentences and the other day when presented with a piece of a doughnut from the Cinnamon Snail Truck, proclaimed “Dough-dut! A yummy piece of bread.” The little man is wise beyond his years. But texture-wise doughnuts are so much more than bread. They can be light. They can be fluffy. They can be transcendent. I wish I could say the same of the doughnuts I tried. The Mexican Chocolate one was rather bready. For some reason, I was expecting the Mexican Chocolate doughnut to be filled with some kind of pudding or cream. The filling was thicker, richer and more chocolate mousse-like. I’m not really sure what made it particularly Mexican because it tasted mainly like regular chocolate to me. It actually reminded me of Amy’s Chocolate Bread, yummy on its own for sure. But I have been conditioned by years of doughnut consumption (and at least months of doughnut production) to have certain expectations of a doughnut’s texture.

Ceylonese Cinnamon Doughnut from Baked by Butterfield

The Ceylonese Cinnamon fared less well. It looks like just the sort of puffy doughnut that I’d need to eat two of. But when you bite into it, the puff isn’t there. It’s not soft and yielding. It’s actually kind of dry. As you chew, you think to yourself, wait, is this a stale doughnut? The later bites as you finish your chewing having reminded yourself that “no, this is a baked doughnut, it’s not the same” are pleasant enough, but it’s hard to wrap your mind around what to expect from a baked doughnut. I gave my son a little piece of the doughnut to try. He recognized it right away and here's how that scene played out...

Little B: “Dough-dut! Dough-dut!”
Brownie: "Here you go!" [places a small piece on his high chair tray]
Little B: [Plants face into tray to get a bite. Moments later...] “Wah-der! Wah-der"
Brownie: "Here's some nice cold water."
Little B: “Dow-nnn. Dow-nnn. All done, all done, all done.”

Much of the doughnut remained on his tray. Tough room.

I want to believe in baked doughnuts. Doughnuts without the guilt? Doughnuts that I could eat EVERY. DAY. Yes, please! Where do I sign up? But sometimes certain things are meant to be special indulgences. And perhaps that’s true of doughnuts. I’d be curious to see how doughnuts made from more cakey ingredients, like Red Velvet or Banana hold up. Perhaps they’d be more less bready and more like a cake doughnut. I’d be willing to make a return trip to try some more of the flavors, but I'm not rushing to get back. And in the meantime, I'm saving up my calories for DOUGH.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Grapes on Pizza

The Grapeful Dead
We share a mutual love of pizza here on B&B. And while Brownie is a quick bus ride away from Di Fara's, I'm within walking distance of Paulie Gee's. A few weeks ago, after stopping by the opening party for Brooklyn Grange's new Greenpoint space, a friend and I moseyed on over to Paulie's and found grapes on pizza! Dudes, it was good!

King Harry the IV
There are now grapes in two different forms on two new pies: The Grapeful Dead (top photo) and the King Harry the IV (this photo). The Dead has baby spinach, olive oil, mild Gouda, shaved parmigiano reggiano, and pickled red grape halves. The King Harry has Italian tomatoes, provolone, beef meatballs, cremini mushrooms, and golden raisins. Both pies were delicious. The raisins added a sweet component to the King Harry that both of us enjoyed, though we did wish there were more mushrooms. But the Grapeful Dead was the winner. The pickled grapes led to a unique sweet tart flavor and interesting texture that we adored. If you're a fan of trying something just a little bit different, I highly recommend it.

Paulie Gee's
60 Greenpoint Ave
(347) 987-3747


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Travels with Blondie and Brownie: Beiler's Bakery at the Reading Terminal Market

Beiler's Bakery2
Beiler's Bakery occupies a primo corner spot in the Reading Terminal Market. While all of the little booths and stalls have a certain theatre to the food preparation and presentation, Beiler's may very well take the cake (or the sticky bun, as it were) because right before your very eyes you can watch them prep enormous trays of all manner of buns--nutty, gooey, and just plain sticky right out of the oven. And if that's not enough, they make a mean whoopie pie...

Beiler's is a Pennsylvania Dutch-style baked goods paradise. Shoofly pie? Check! Hot homemade doughnuts? Check! Fresh baked bread? Check, again! Whoopie pies? Not one. Not two, but three flavors!

DSC_0772 (800x531)

Alas, the early bird gets the doughnuts and I had no idea that hot doughnuts (hot cherry glazed doughnuts, in fact) were on offer until it was too late. Blast. Obviously a return trip is in order.

What I did get was:
a loaf of apple cinnamon bread
a half dozen sticky buns with pecans
one large sticky bun without nuts
a whoopie pie

The damage? $13.99. Score. I'm sorry there's no photo of the full haul, but we had places to go and people to see.

The gentleman at the counter said that the apple cinnamon bread is one of their best sellers and it was easy to see why. Super cinnamony with little ribbons of apple-y goodness, this toasted up nicely and can easily stand on it's own or with just a little bit of butter. I also imagine that it would make an awesome French Toast, though it's hard to imagine circumstances where the bread would last long enough to get stale.

Sticky bun from Beiler's
Lawman thoroughly enjoyed the pecan-covered sticky bun reheated the next morning, but for me it was all about the whoopie pies.

Beiler's Whoopie Pies

If you believe the hype whoopie pies may very well be the new cupcake/pie/bacon. Consequently we're seeing bakers try to make their mark on whoopies and creating desserts that are not whoopies at all. Real whoopie pies do not have filling made with cream cheese. Ditto that for buttercream, whipped cream, crème fraîche, mascarpone and any other fancy dancy filling you might want to cram in there. The traditional whoopie pies are made with a shortening-based filling not unlike that white frosting crack that you get on grocery store birthday cakes. That's the way it's supposed to be and it is goooood. There was soo much win in these whoopies it's hard to know where to start. While many whoopies fail in the cake department (dry, flat cookie imposters need not apply!), Beiler's chocolate whoopies were light, perfectly domed and properly proportioned to the filling so that you can taste that sweet, sweet cream filling in every bite.

Thankfully we were there on a Friday because Beiler's is only open Wednesday through Saturday, that's a schedule I'll be keeping in mind for sure when I plan my next trip to Philly.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Nutty Pancakes for Breakfast (or Lunch)

Hazelnut Pancakes
When I gifted Brownie and Lawman a three-month subscription to Foodzie, I'll admit I was hoping to get something out of it. A meal maybe, or some delicious new snack treat. But for the first two months nothing came my way until Brownie said "Hey, do you want hazelnut pancake mix? Our February Foodzie box was very nutty, and since I'm allergic, Lawman wouldn't use the mix anyway." Score! They didn't say it was from the family farm in Oregon that was written about in the Grey Lady. Extra bonus!

Freddy Guys Hazelnuts
Freddy Guys Hazelnuts come straight from Barb and Fritz Foulke's farm in Oregon's Willamette Valley, and I was lucky to get this bag of pancake mix (even though I'm sort of against pancake mixes in general because hello, pancake making is so easy!) The mix is made with hazelnut meal *AND* has small bits of hazelnuts which translates to savory nutty goodness in every bite. The pancakes aren't as fluffy as regular cakes since there is a lot of heft and oil added from the nuts, but I didn't mind that one bit because they were delicious. The nutty cakes did leave me feeling satiated and I wasn't hungry an hour later as can happen with regular pancakes. Plus they're formulated for power and I'm going to be a hard working farm hand this summer! If you're a big fan of nuts and pancakes like myself, you might want to gift yourself a bag of this mix because really are you going to shell a bunch of hazelnuts for your pancakes? I didn't think so.

P.S. Here's a video on how the nuts are shelled at the farm.

You can buy Freddy Guys Hazelnut Pancake Mix via their online store or through Foodzie or if you're one of the lucky ones living in Portland, find them at farmer's markets around town.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Travels with Blondie & Brownie: The Afternoon Belongs to Capogiro's Avocado Gelato

Capogiro's Avocado and Lime Gelato2

Last week we went to Philly to visit our publisher. If you follow us on the twitters, you might have noticed some initial transportation difficulty, but the day was saved by a great meeting and plenty of great food. Seriously, we had so many awesome recs for one quickie trip that we needed to bring all of your stomachs along to eat half the things we wanted to try. Like avocado gelato from the highly regarded Capogiro Gelato...

Avocado gelato? Yesssss, avocado gelato. Made with local Pennsylvania dairy, all the buttery goodness of a perfectly ripe avocado is distilled into a rich, super smooth and creamy gelato. It's heaven in a cup. No, really, it is.

And because I'm a food nerd, I had couldn't resist pairing it with their Cilantro & Lime Gelato--it's like a dessert guacamole! The Cilantro and Lime was intensely refreshing and went down easy on a hot afternoon (and for the record, the combo wasn't nearly as guac-ish as one migh expect, if you added some red onion gelato, you might have a whole different story...)

According to their site, you can get their gelato at "Various Wholes Foods throughout the 5 boroughs" have you seen Capogiro's at a Whole Foods need you? Hit me up with the location in the comments. I think this may become a habit...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tots in a Bar

Tater Tots
A few weeks back, I was invited to eat burgers at Idle Hands while drinking beer from Lagunitas. I'm not saying no to that. I will sell my (little) morality for beer, burgers, and tater tots. I'm sorry about that, folks. If it really annoys you, I'll take you Idle Hands for a round with a side of burgers and tots. Because they've got tots, and not just any tots. Totchos!

Idle Hands Dinner
That Burger has moved on from it's original set-up outside of Artists & Fleas in Williamburg to serve the patrons of Billy Hurricanes and Idle Hands. This should be noted by participants of this year's Beer Marathon, as burgers are seriously needed somewhere around your 10-12th beer.

That Burger
We got to sample five different burgers from their menus--not whole burgers, but sample sizes. I liked most of them including "The Kick" which has onions and jalapenos cooked in Franks Hot Sauce and Cheddar cheese. Each burger had it's own Lagunitas accompanying beer; I enjoyed all of those too.

But the best part of the night laid with the Totchos. These don't look like much, but it's tater tots covered with bacon, beef, American and Mozzarella cheese, jalapenos, and BBQ & Hot sauce. As one of my fellow diners said, it's the perfect hangover food. I thought they were awesome, a little heavy, but totally awesome. A little bit of this with a side of a good Bloody Mary or other hair of the dog, and you'll be set for the day.

That Burger
25 Avenue B

Thursday, April 12, 2012

We're Going to Philly! Now Where Should We Eat?


Blondie and I will be hoping the bus or train or something to visit our editor in Philly on Friday. Hooray for field trips! We're going to check out some tasty street food tacos with our editor for lunch, but seeing as we don't get to Philadelphia all that often, we'd love some recs from you about what else we should eat......

Clearly a trip to the Reading Terminal Market is in order (in fact that's where we plan to meet up in the morning). I don't think I'll be able to leave without a Roast Pork Italian from DiNic's. Blondie has her eyes on the pies. Whoopie pies that is.

What else shouldn't we miss at the Reading Terminal Market or otherwise? Looking for suggestions for good grub to eat there and take home. We're counting on you to ensure our trip is extra delicious!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Look Forward to the Weekend

Happy Hump Day. Or not. Need something to look forward to? Because I've got two things going on this weekend that should make people happy. The first one goes off Friday night. For $40, you can eat a Cajun Feast: cajun fried chicken, crab deviled eggs, shrimp etoufee, RED VELVET CAKE! It's all being prepared by Joseph of Yummy Eats to support the Greenpoint Soup Kitchen & Food Pantry. It takes $6,000 per week to keep the pantry & soup kitchen going, and you can help out! And eat some delicious food! But if a weekend boozy crawl is more your speed...

For $15, you can hit some of Bed-Stuy hotspots Saturday evening with a bunch of locals. The crawl starts at SUD Vino e Cucina, then hits up Bedford Hill, and finishes at One Last Stop. Not only will there be exclusive boozy bar deals, there are raffle prizes! I'd totally go after hearing the awesome time that was had last time, but the library is calling my name (to which I say boo!)

The Cajun Feast Soup Kitchen Benefit is happening Friday night at 8pm, at the Greenpoint Church (136 Milton St). Buy your tickets here.

The Bed-Stuy Crawl: Round II happens Saturday evening at 6pm, beginning at SUD (1102 Beford Avenue). Buy those tickets here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pastiera di Grano Success for Easter

Pastiera di Grano
For old school Neapolitan Italian families Eastertime dessert means pastiera. In trying to explain it to a non-Italian, I've compared it to a cheesecake, but really it's much, much more. Traditionally pastiera is a ricotta based cake. The Pastiera di Grano is made with wheat, symbolizing new life and spring. In the pantheon of Southern Italian desserts I grew up with, it ranks up there with Zeppole di San Giuseppe in importance and intimidation factor. Pastiera di Grano is a multi-day dish--the wheat must be soaked overnight with several changes of water and ideally it's made the day before serving so the flavors really come alive. The prospect of all the planning and preparation have kept me from attempting it until now...

This recipe is one is adapted from a recipe given to me by a friend who has made pastiera for Easter since she was a girl. Most recipes call for orange blossom water, which can be found at Italian specialty shops. Frankly I didn't have time to track down the orange blossom water so I used orange zest as below. Often times recipes will also include dried pumpkin. Citron is a must, but it's an acquired taste and it can be a deal breaker for a lot of people, I find that chopping it finely helps to make it a little bit more palatable.

Pastiera Filling

5 ounces dried whole wheat kernels
1/3 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 and 1/3 cup whole milk
zest from 1/2 an orange
1 tablespoon finely chopped candied orange peel
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 ounces fresh ricotta
1 tablespoon finely chopped candied citron
1 tablespoon dried apricot
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 egg whites

Rinse wheat and soak in cold water overnight. In the morning drain and change the water then continue to soak for another 1-2 hours.

While the wheat is soaking prepare the crust according to the recipe below.

Drain the wheat and place in a medium saucepan. Combine with the milk, orange zest, orange peel, and 1 tablespoon sugar. Cook mixture over low heat until it's creamy and porridge-like. Remove mixture from heat then stir in vanilla and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350. Roll out one ball of pastry dough and place in a greased 9 inch springform pan covering the bottom and the sides. Place pan in refrigerator until ready to use.

Combine the ricotta, egg yolks, and the remaining sugar. Beat mixture until smooth. Add the wheat, citron, apricot and cinnamon.

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form then fold into the mixture. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Push down the sides of the crust until it's just about a 1/2 inch above the filling.

Roll out the rest of the pastry dough and cut it into 3/8 inch strips using a fluted pastry wheel (I didn't have one so I just used a knife!) Arrange the strips in a lattice over the filling (the dough must be very cold or it will break). Bake on the center rack for 50 minutes to an hour or until the pastiera is golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack in the pan. Let the pastiera rest before serving (it's usually best on the second day).

Pastiera Crust (adapted from the Crosta di Miele recipe from the Vincent Price cookbook)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons sugar
Zest from 2 lemons
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 sticks (8 ounces)unsalted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon slices
4 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla

In the bowl of a food processor combine flour, sugar, zest and salt. Pulse several times to mix thoroughly.

Add sliced butter, egg yolks and vanilla. Pulse several times to incorporate. Then run food processor until dough comes together in a ball, about a minute or two.

Divide dough, form into balls and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to overnight.

Pastiera di Grano
My family reported that this was better looking (and better tasting) than any homemade (or bakery) pastiera than they had seen in the New Haven area. Enjoy!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Get the Fish Sandwich at Smorgasburg!

Classic Fish Sandwich
Weee, all the outdoor markets are opening up for the season. This means bike rides around town wearing airy dresses to snag a delicious bite to eat with friends in the gorgeous weather. Or delaying an inevitable trip to the library to stuff your face in front of trusted friends. I did the latter at Smorgasburg and found the best deal there!!

Handsome Hank's
Tucked away in the corner closest to North 6th St. is Handsome Hank's brought to us by Danny Lyu--the same person behind Cemitas, the Mexican sandwiches. Hank's had waits all day long for freshly fried fish and shrimp. Yes, fried on the spot so when you got your meal is was hot and delicious! My friends went with the fish and chips, while I chose the fish sandwich thinking it wouldn't be that big of a meal. False. It's huge.

Classic Fish Sandwich
It's a fish and his brother and sister in one sandwich! I couldn't finish it! It's simple whiting fish, but really well done, and I mean seriously, look at this sandwich. For $8, this is all you need for lunch.

Smorgasburg is open on the Williamsburg waterfront between North 6th + 7th Street, 11am to 6pm every Saturday through the fall.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Schnipper's Is Making A Solid Cheeseburger

Schnipper's Cheeseburger
Schnipper's Midtown was always too far over on the west side for me to ever warrant a visit. It involved walking the gauntlet of Times Square *AND* the Port Authority angry Jerseyites! No way, dudes. So when one opened up downtown on 23rd Street and Madison, I was excited to finally get a chance to stop by and try their burger--I had been hearing good things. It just took two tries to get that burger.

Schnipper's Cheeseburger
The first time I stopped by I wasn't able to get the cheeseburger and review it for Midtown Lunch. I had to get the Tuna Melt (which was really great and overstuffed with mayolicious tuna.) But the second time, it was ll about the cheeseburger. I adore the space inside; it's huge and full of natural light which makes it absolutely perfect for when the weather's not ideal for Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. The burger is completely comparable. It's just as salty, but the flavors are a little more well-rounded. A great burger, ample table with service, and you know, a roof = someone might be winning this 23rd St burger race. I do feel the need to do my own side-by-side challenge to see which I like better.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

3 Fun Things to Do with Peeps!

The Peeps of Catan
'Tis the season for Peeps. Those revered (reviled?) colored sugar bedecked marshmallow critters that seem to always make an appearance come Easter basket time. The Times has a great slideshow about how Peeps are born--while it's not for the faint of heart (nude peeps are involved!) there's something strangely compelling about watching legions of Peeps get coated with sugar. As a kids I couldn't get enough Peeps. They were among my favorite candies. This love affair continued up through college when I would make s'meeps in my dorm microwave (that's Peeps s'mores for the uninitiated). Sometime after freshman year, Peeps lost their luster. I began to realize that sugar coated marshmallow was perhaps a little too sweet (who knew?) Still there's no harm playing with your food, right...

Peeps of Catan game board
For non-board gamers, the images above are my tribute to Peeps of Catan. Yes, I'm just that dorky.

Chopped Peeps

If you find yourself with an assortment of extra Peeps post Easter, you can chop 'em up and toss them in a Peepza Rustica.

Slice of Peepza Rustica
My send up to the traditional Italian Easter pie. Surprisingly it tastes a lot like Funfetti cake (hmmmm...maybe that's not so surprising afterall...)

Charleton Hes-Peep as Moses
If you prefer to act out great scenes from the Bible with an all Peep cast, here's a little inspiration from Charton Hes-Peep. I call it "Let My Peeple Go."

What do you like to do with your Peeps?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mmm, Grilled Cheeses at Little Muenster

Grilled Cheese
I've been in a grilled cheese mood lately. It's easy. It's delicious. It's (usually) not expensive. And it's seemingly everywhere in the city. I'd been hearing and seeing what Little Muenster on the Lower East Side has been offering, and finally wanted to try it out for myself. Mmm, grilled cheeeeeeese.

Little Muenster
The menu at Little Muenster has a few variations on grilled cheese; there's everything from plain white American slices with tomato and bacon to Gouda, Muenster and pastrami. For an extra $1, you can be fancy and add bone marrow butter to your sandwich. I went with the Asiago, Parmesan and Muenster, with butternut squash and brown butter sage. The sandwich was decadent with perfectly melted cheeses and a bit of nutty savoriness from the brown butter sage, but I didn't notice any added flavor from the butternut squash. It definitely hit the spot with me, and I would completely consider hitting up Little Muenster again if I'm in the area. For those of you ranking and rating NYC's grilled cheese, this should be a definite stop on the list.

Little Muenster
100 Stanton Street
(212) 203-7197

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Let's Talk Easter Treats!


It's almost Easter, and soon--if I'm good--some bunny is going to bring me chocolate. I don't want to count those malted eggs before they're hatched, so right now I'm mentally preparing myself for the inevitable pre-Easter feasting shopping trip by plotting out what kinds of sweets are going to be on our Easter spread...

Last week, I posted a recipe for Capirotada, a traditional Lenten Mexican bread pudding made with a habit-forming mulled piloncillo syrup, dried fruit, nuts and cheese. Yes, cheeeeeeeese. Delicious shredded Monterey Jack cheese is layered throughout the dish adding that extra bit of saltiness that works so well in sweet treats. This is on the must-make list for Easter morn. Though that does leave me still pondering what to make for the actual desserts.

If you're more the order out type, I can certify that Robicelli's Pizza Grana cupcakes which are essentially Italian dish “Pastiera di Grano” or “Grain Pie” distilled into cupcake form. The traditional pastiera is an orange-scented ricotta cheesecake filled with cooked wheatberries. If you're from an old school Southern Italian family, chances are your nonni made this for you. The cupcake is composed of Italian citrus cake, ricotta & wheatberry buttercream, pie crust shards. I had it last year. It was freaking delicious. Even my husband, who is basically an avowed ricotta hater thought this was great. This is a once a year sort of thing for the Robicelli's and the actual wheat pie is kind of a pain to prepare. They're taking orders until Wednesday, so get on it.

As for me, I'm taking any and all Easter dessert recommendations. What's your must-have Easter treat?