Friday, June 29, 2012

Cookie the Monster

Now that Little B is two years old, he's starting to get a little more exposure to Sesame Street (classic stuff only please) and naturally he has begun to gravitate to certain characters. Unfortunately that means he's a budding Elmo fan. But he does have some love for the blue monsters including Grover and the dessert loving. googly eyed fellow he calls "Cookie the Monster," now those are characters I can get behind...

In honor of Little B, here's a Cookie Monster segment about the importance of the word important. Mmmm...cookies are important to me, too.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Most Perfect Coconut Ice Cream

Coconut Chip Ice Cream
If you've passed by a Van Leeuwen Ice Cream truck lately, you might have noticed a new flavor sign in their window for Coconut Chip. While some might have been burned by bad coconut ice cream before, I immediately took notice and stepped right up to try one scoop, not really sure what I was in for. I'm glad I took the chance.

Coconut Chip Ice Cream
Once you have your scoop, of course the first thought that comes to mind is "did he just give me mint chip?" Then you have your first spoonful and taste the little chunks of coconut. Next bite, it's mixed in with the small bits of dark Askinosie Chocolate--a small batch bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturer in Missouri. It's like a tropical chocolate chip ice cream. Wonderful.

Coconut Chip should be available in the Van Leeuwen shops and it's totally available on at least two of their trucks.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Adventures in Recipe Testing: Huaraches for Breakfast

Egg and Chorizo Huaraches2 
One of the best parts of writing our book has been learning how to make foods I never would have been bold enough to try before like huaraches. Huaraches are oblong, freeform handmade tortillas that are filled with a little refried beans and topped with all sorts of goodies. For the book I got the recipe from the Vendy award winning Country Boys truck from Red Hook and I've been working on perfecting my huaraches ever since. Let me tell you, it's not easy...

Since starting the book I have made friends with Maseca aka masa harina, a special lime-treated corn flour. Masa harina is the building block for huaraches, pupusas, and tamales (not to mention a key ingredient in the awesome jalapeno cheddar corn cakes from Big D's Grub Truck). To be entirely honest, I actually had no idea that there were beans inside the huaraches until I read the recipe sent to me by Fernando Martinez, owner of the Country Boys truck. Getting the Maseca dough to just the right consistency so that it's soft enough to be workable, but strong enough to hold the beans was a challenge.

I was comforted by the fact that when Fernando was interviewed by Nona Brooklyn when describing their early days making huaraches he said: "Out of every five huaraches, two good ones came out and three bads. And little by little we got better, and now we can do the work quickly." With each batch my technique seems to improve.

Inspiration struck at breakfast the other day and I decided to try egg, cheese and chorizo huaraches. Does it surprise you that these would be ridiculously delicious? And my huaraches are getting better and better with each batch. I can't wait to give them another try soon!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Trying Artichoke, Again

Artichoke Pizza
Almost two months ago, Ben Leventhal wrote this blog post putting Artichoke Pizza on blast for general suckery. It opened up a needed conversation among us people who care about such things. I, for one, agreed with Leventhal's assessment--when Brownie and I tried Artichoke four years ago, I was underwhelmed with the slice and overwhelmed with the hype. The other day, I found myself passing by during a moment of no line (them) and sheer hunger (me). Maybe I was wrong? Maybe all those people I saw lined up during the evening were right? Eh, worst to worst, I was about to be out $4.

Artichoke Pizza
I went with the margarita slice because it's what I judge everyone against. Like a vanilla cupcake, if you can't do a good margarita slice, you need to start again. To some people's point, the toppings are wonderful: fresh basil, pecorino sprinkled on top, great sauce. But what kills the slice is the crust. Ben correctly compares it to water crackers, and thick crackers is all that came to mind with each crunchy bite. By the end of my slice, I kid you not, my jaw hurt. Pizza should not hurt. Pizza should make me happy.

Best Pizza Garlic Knots
When it comes to a "regular" NY slice, I'd much rather wait until I'm on the other side of the river and stop at Best Pizza. Plus their garlic knots are sublime, and they have indoor seating.

Artichoke Basille Pizza
328 East 14th Street
New York
(212) 228-2004

Best Pizza
33 Havemeyer St
(718) 599-2210

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Prospect Park Uncle Louie G’s is Gone, Long Live J T Ices!

Grape-Nuts ice cream returns to Windsor Terrace
Summer is officially here. It’s officially hot. And as Blondie pointed out, it’s time to eat ice cream. For those with plans to hang out in the environs of Prospect Park South, I have some excellent ice cream related news. Uncle Louie G’s is gone. How could that be good news? Well . . . J T Ices has opened in its place, a new ice cream venture by the original Uncle Louie G’s founder and they’re bringing back Grape-Nuts ice cream . . .

As a born and bred New Englander, I’m awfully fond of any dessert that features Grape-Nuts (Grape-Nuts Pudding, anyone?) and I was really sad when Uncle Louie G’s stopped carrying Grape-Nuts Ice Cream a few years back. According to the employee I spoke to, the company’s founder, John Russo, sold the business and he wasn’t pleased with the quality of the product after he left—he was actually getting complaints from customers that the recipes tasted different and that the lemon ice lacked the little bits of zest that they used to have in the old days. The menu isn’t quite as extensive as Uncle Louie G’s, but I am excited to try the Green Tea ice cream.

The Grape-Nuts ice cream was a good as I remember it, but I have to say at $3.50 for a regular the serving was modest and the person who scooped my serving broke the cardinal rule of scoopdom—she didn’t fill the cone with a half scoop. As a former scoop girl, I know from experience that it’s important to fill the cone with a half scoop because 1) it’s lame to have an empty cone and 2) it’s risky to have an empty cone, you’re one enthusiastic lick away from ice cream tragedy. If you’ve ever had a cone where you take one lick and the ice cream just rolls off that’s because the scooper didn’t add an extra little bit so the ice cream would have something to adhere to. I’ll give the scooper the benefit of the doubt, hopefully it was a one-time occurrence, but to be on the safe side, consider this your warning to be cautious when ordering a cone.

J T Ices
157 Prospect Park Southwest
Windsor Terrace
(718) 236-1461

Friday, June 22, 2012

It's Hot, Eat Ice Cream

Meatball Shop Ice Cream Sandwich
And my apartment doesn't have air conditioning yet! For the past two days, it's been a game of "Let's see who gives out first, me or my ancient laptop?" Today I'll be all educated and cultural and smart-like at the Global Gateways & Local Connections conference, in air-conditioning. Since we've made it through the heatwave, I believe it's the best day for ice cream sandwiches. This is one I had at The Meatball Shop; it's strawberry balsamic and corn cookies. Delicious. Have a good weekend, folks! jump

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Adventures in Recipe Testing: Shrimp Ceviche

Shrimp Ceviche 
In case you haven't noticed we've been doing a fair amount of recipe testing for our upcoming book. One of the recipes I'm most excited to perfect is Shrimp Ceviche from the Red Hook ball fields. Mmmmm...ceviche...

The recipe that appears in the book is from Esperanza Ochoa (otherwise known as Donny Tsang's pseudo-adoptive aunt). Esperanza emigrated from Guatemala in the 80s and has been vending at the ball fields for close to three decades. Her ceviche features plenty of onions, cilantro and tomato and is positively perfect for summertime.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Go Shop at Whole Foods!

Stone Barns Grocery List
I never thought I'd say that, seriously. *But* Whole Foods is doing something awesome for the next two days: they're donating 5% of the net proceeds from throughout the Tri-State area to two very worthy organizations. Also, does it make me crunchy granola that I have all of the items, except for brown rice flour, from this list (it's not mine, I totally jacked this image from one of the organizations)? Which organizations you say and which stores in particular?

Well, today's proceeds from Whole Foods White Plains, Darien, Greenwich, Ridgewood, Paramus, Edgewater, & West Orange are going to go to Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture in Pocantico Hills. Yes, they have Blue Hill there to help support them, but Stone Barns does some really great work including throwing the National Young Farmers Conference which helps them gain knowledge while networking. With the average age of farmers at 57, the young ones need all the help and support they can get. Now on Thursday, the New York City stores get in on the mix. They'll all be giving their proceeds to Just Food's Farm School NYC. This school provides one of the only training programs specifically designed for urban agriculture. No, it's not as easy as putting some dirt on a rooftop or raising a chicken in your community garden, and farming in a city is different than farming in wide-open spaces (see: rooftops and drainage). I know that I'm going to try to stop by one of them to do my part and so should you.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

It's Threadcakes Time!

Threadless Cake 
I love Threadless. They make awesome quirky and funny and fun t-shirts. And they also run really cool design contests. Right now they are running their annual "Threadcakes" contest which combines my love of their shirts with my deep and abiding love of CAKE...

Here's how you enter...

Look at their t-shirts. Get inspired.
Make a cake in 3D (whoa, you Cake Ace/Boss) or 2D. 
Take pictures and enter your cake.

Win or lose you have a cake and you get to eat it. Mmmmm...cake.

The contest started last Monday and ends Monday, August 13th, 2012 at 11:59pm PST.

Word on the street is: "There may be surprise weekly prizes. These prizes will be awarded to favorites from entries in the previous week."

So what are you waiting for? Carpe Cakem!

The photo above is one of my favorite Threadless designs from my Threadcakes entry in 2009. I didn't win. I didn't even place. But I did have fun making and eating that tongue-tinting cake and it was a great excuse to get messy and play in the kitchen.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sausage with Bacon. And Cheese

Doughnut Ice Cream Sandwich
(this is not sausage with bacon or cheese, just so we're clear)
Would you believe me if I told you the bulk of my social interactions this weekend happened in The Brooklyn Kitchen, at Peter Pan, and Cup? Well, you should, because they were. A little ditty we like to call New York a la Cart has begun the editorial phase and we were frantically trying to get it together this weekend (in many ways, the manuscript and our shit.) I stopped by The Meat Hook on Saturday to speak with Tom Mylan--he kindly made sure we're giving out the right information when it comes to meat--and procure myself a sausage. Oh man, and it was a sausage with bacon!

A few things had to come together for this plate of goodness. First, I did do my Saturday morning routine of stopping by the McCarren Greenmarket to pick up beets, garlic scapes, and more milk for my coffee. Yes, I like turning my pee red, I can't help it. I knew the beets would be roasted while the greens would be sauteed up with julienned scapes--they get all nice and crunchy--but something else had to happen. With the Tom visit in mind, I had an all too normal thought lately, "eh, I'll just pick up sausage at The Meat Hook." I'm becoming a ridiculous sausage fiend, but one who can't let herself have more than one sausage on hand because very bad things can happen when I'm stress eating in the middle of the night. After the chat, I stepped up to the counter and saw Käsekrainer: Austrian smoked sausage with [something I can't remember], bacon and swiss cheese! Roasted that up for 15 minutes as my beets were cooling and I had needed sustenance.

Oh, and Peter Pan's doughnut ice cream sandwiches are back. I spotted dulce de leche ice cream. Full report post haste.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Big Gay Root Beer Floats

Root Beer Float
The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck is back out on 17th and Broadway (sometimes. when the truck is working. and Doug's back hasn't gone out.) After eating gelato, Donny and I headed over to bother Doug about recipes say hi and see how his wonderful day was going. Also, I began stress-eating months ago and why should I stop now that I've gained 10 pounds? Whatever. There were specials.

Root Beer Float
I walked over thinking about how much I needed a Salty Pimp with sprinkles, but once we got there, both of us admitted to thirst. Thirst that could only be quenched with root beer floats. Doug uses fancy Sprecher's root beer that tastes like, well, awesome flavorful root beer, and covers a good half-cup swirl of vanilla ice cream with it. It's a pretty terrific root beer float. You should get one.

Check out their Twitter @biggayicecream before heading out and getting sad face upon seeing a fro-yo truck in their spot.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

CSA: Yay or Nay?


For the past few years I’ve participated in a CSA (that’s Community Supported Agriculture). At the beginning of the summer I bought a share in an organic farmer’s harvest giving a local farmer guaranteed business and guaranteeing me fresh veggies every week through October. It’s a pretty awesome idea. I love seeing the different crops come into season and cooking with new-to-me vegetables like kohlrabi(!) but it’s also kind of a pain in the you-know-what...
The biggest harvests of the year are in the summer through the fall with the nice weather and time off in the summer, that’s also the time when we’re most likely to be out of town or invited to a barbecue or picnic. With the CSA the vegetables KEEP COMING. You have to keep up with your greens. You become a slave to your own produce. You can’t freeze lettuce! CSAs are a shared risk situation. If the farmer has a good season, you’ll reap a little extra. If it’s not a good growing season, well, you tough it out with the farmer. From where I stood, last year didn’t seem as good as years past.

My mother: “All of your vegetables have holes.”

Me: “It’s organic, Mom.”

My mother: “Well, something is eating your organic vegetables and it’s not you.”

This year, I didn’t immediately sign up for my CSA as I've previously done. Partially because, um, did I mention we’re writing a book and we have no time for anything else save the occasional eating and personal hygiene? Partially because the task of picking up the vegetables (the site is a 20 minute walk from our apartment) usually turns into “I thought YOU said YOU were picking up the vegetables.”

But at the last moment I had a change of heart. I signed up for the waiting list. I was informed I got a slot. Then I was informed someone else took that slot. Then I was informed there was another slot. Then I was informed there actually wasn’t another slot. It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions.

Yay fresh vegetables! But ah, it’s such a commitment. Boo, no fresh vegetables, but now we can eat out all the time! I still have no idea whether I’ll be CSAing this year or not and that's ok. Let the chips fall where they may, I say. With my several year commitment to the CSA I’ve spent less time at the greenmarket choosing my own produce and I miss it. If I don’t get a CSA here’s my new plan, I’ll set aside the money I would have spent on my CSA as a weekly greenmarket fund and shop for that much worth of groceries on a weekly basis (or an as-is-convenient basis). If I do get into a CSA, please send me your best recipes for collard greens, turnips and lettuce-intensive salads.

Do you CSA? If so, how do you manage not to end up with what Blondie calls organic compost? Let us know your tips for maximizing your haul!

(*I couldn't find any photos of my past CSA hauls, so that's a pick of the farmer's market that I look forward to returning to soon!)

UPDATE: I got a slot. Looks like I'll be CSAing this year after all. Keep those tips for maximizing your produce coming!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Roast Strawberries. Make Gelato.

Otto's Roasted Strawberry Gelato
As part of our book musings way back when, Brownie thought of the GelOtto Cart having had said gelato many times during her undergraduate career on the campus of the esteemed New York University. As a New Yorker that avoided Washington Square like the plague (I'm more of a Tompkins Square kind of gal), I could not speak to said gelato. Regardless when the lovely Meredith Kurtzman said she's game to being included in New York a la Cart, we were both beyond psyched. Last week was the small shoot at the GelOtto Cart and obviously I had to get gelato. What kind of person do you think I am?

During the shoot, a trio of tourists rolled up, each one getting the same flavor: roasted strawberry. Meredith and I discussed the type of berries that worked best, how hard the flavor is to make causing it to only be made in small batches, and how early the strawberry season really was this year. And then I got some gelato. If all you've ever had is artificial flavored pink strawberry-esque cream, I highly recommend heading down for this before it runs out. It has the most precious, summertime flavor of a fresh ripe strawberry--the small kind that are full of goodness, not the plump watery ones--made into creamy gelato. Donny only got one spoonful, he wasn't allowed any more.

GelOtto Cart
Corner of Washington Square East & Washington Square North
Right inside Washington Square Park
On sunny days, when it's nice out

Monday, June 11, 2012

Adventures in Recipe Testing: Korean BBQ Nachos

 In case you haven't noticed, we've been doing some heavy duty recipe testing. This has afforded me the opportunity to have something I haven't had in years...nachos...Korean BBQ Nachos. Hells to the yes...

Let's not dwell on why I haven't had nachos in years, not sure the reason, but clearly it's been far too long. Topped with Korean barbecued pork and barbecued beef, cheddar cheese, Korean-style pico de gallo these nachos are hard to pass up. If you love kimchi as much as I do, then you're going to want to have some of these nachos yourself and STAT. If you can't wait until our book comes out, make a side trip to Kimchi Taco Truck or Kimchi Grill, their new shop in Prospect Heights and tell Phil that Brownie says hi.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer Fridays on B&B

With the passing of Memorial Day, Summer Fridays were enacted here on B&B. This means that anything or nothing could go up on Fridays depending on vacation and/or drinking schedules. This week, it's a Food Curated video--one of Kelvin Slush whose alcoholic slushie recipes have gone through multiple testing rounds for "research" purposes. It's Friday, it's summer, go have your fun. #yolo

Thursday, June 7, 2012

It's Almost The Treats Truck's Birthday!

Sugar the Treats Truck
It almost seems like yesterday that Blondie and I started chasing The Treats Truck, setting out to taste everything on the truck’s menu. Well, yesterday was actually 5 years ago, that’s right, Sugar (the actual Treats truck) is turning five this weekend. If you missed out on the opening of The Treats Truck Stop last month, don’t miss out on Sugar’s birthday party...

The party will be held at The Treats Truck Stop--which with its windowed kitchen, selection of children’s books to read and toy stove in the back, not to mention the frost-your-own cookie plates, would be a perfect spot for any five year old’s birthday. Naturally Sugar will be in attendance and according to Kim she’s planning to have Sugar parked right outside so little kids (and big kids) can get their picture "driving" Sugar.

Kim at the Treats Truck Stop
The shop is open from 8am until 10pm. Sugar will be there from noon to 6pm, but the celebration should be in full swing from 2pm-4pm. Stop by a 2pm to sing Happy Birthday to Sugar and share in his cake. Kim promises to have some other fun surprises up her sleeve.

The Treats Truck Stop
521 Court St
Brooklyn, NY

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

On Getting My Masters in Food Studies at NYU

Snug Harbor Farm
Those of you who know me in real life (or who follow *very* closely on Twitter) know that the book isn't all that's been life-changing in my world. Literally 24 hours after we heard that Running Press believed in New York a la Cart, I received word that I had been accepted into NYU's Food Studies program (I was literally in a car in traffic in the rain trying to get to this event. There might have been a little screaming and tears.) It had taken me three years to get up the nerve to apply, and even then I sort of half-assed my application due to certain life circumstances. And here is what I've learned so far....

Snug Harbor Farm
Basically that everything has changed and gotten all future-like since I graduated! Seriously, I fortunate to enter in at the right time for me--one of the required classes I was interested in focused specifically on organic agriculture and began visiting Snug Harbor on Staten Island to help with the inaugural farm season there.

Snug Harbor Farm
Farmer Gus Jones is trying to turn this plot of land into only the second working farm on Staten Island. On three different Saturdays, we all woke up crazy early and hauled out to Staten Island to do fun farm things like make compost, turn beds, plant seedlings, and learn about soil biology. But this isn't all the fun farm things I'll be doing this year.

Snug Harbor Farm
Once the book is done, I'll finally be able to help out my friends at Battery Urban Farm (they already put me to work one day when I got off the ferry ridiculously dirty from the farm) before I head out to middle of nowhere, Nebraska for a week this summer. To hang out with cows. I love cows.

Mooo Cow
See, I didn't go into this program for the cultural "I want to be a better food writer" side, I went in because I want to work on policies that will allow us have a more sustainable food system. All those times I was in Kansas, I was almost constantly thinking about the farms and economy out there, and how they need to be saved too; how it's great we have rooftop farms and community plots, but how much impact is that really going to have in the long run. I want to let those farmers be farmers too, for them to have a living wage and good working conditions, and ultimately have the better part of our animals raised humanely. It's why, despite the costs to my pocket, I've bought almost every bit of meat for my half of the recipe testing from The Meat Hook or Heritage Meats (there was a pound of ground pork bought at Fairway, but that was only because The Meat Hook didn't have chorizo and I had to make my own). I have to practice what I preach, plus supermarket meat quite frankly skeeves me. It's doesn't hurt that the butchers do great things like meticulously cut a few pork loins for me, or freshly grind the meat I need even though I'm probably the night's last customer, or let me taste each salami to pick the perfect one, or call me when they realize they do in fact have lamb shoulder and yes it will keep until I can cook it.

Snug Harbor Farm
I've learned a lot already from just two classes including how giving a good interview is similar to sex, and why it's so incredibly hard to measure soil quality. I was able to expand upon my own interest in food scrap composting for my term paper by researching Urban Food Scrap Recycling programs if any of you are interested in that sort of thing. Of course, just because I'm out of school doesn't mean the projects stop--expect a few posts this summer regarding Greenmarkets and some farm visits beyond what's to come from Nebraska. Until then, if you're interested in learning more about sustainability and food systems, you should head over to Carolyn Dimitri's blog (she's one of my professors and she's awe-some) or if you want to know more about the program in general, feel free to drop me an email. I'll be down to chat, especially if you bring me sausage. Once the book's in, of course.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Adventures in Recipe Testing: Big D's Grub Truck Corncakes

jalapeno cheddar corncorncakes
These past few months we’ve been doing a lot more eating in while recipe testing for our upcoming best of New York street food cookbook. Last week I gave you a sneak peek at the Tea Eggs from the Bian Dang Truck. Now here’s a look at my newest obsession, Jalapeño Cheddar Corncakes from Big D’s Grub Truck . . .

I first fell in love with these corncakes at the truck in midtown in 2011. As someone who grew up eating regular ol’ Aunt Jemima pancakes they were a revelation. Sweet, salty and spicy, not to mention crispy from the little fried cheesy bits—these pancakes hit so many satisfaction points, you’ll find yourself going in for a second helping. Word on the street is the Big D’s may relaunch breakfast service soon. Keep tabs on them via twitter @bigdsgrub.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Eating More Pizza at Paulie Gee's

Monte Cristo
We've spent a few nights lately roaming the dark streets in a borrowed car, rushing from one food cart to the next for interviews and photo shoots. But some nights Mother Nature has had other plans. That's how we found ourselves, with our photographer Clay in tow, at Paulie Gee's. We'd planned on heading up to Washington Heights--instead the skies opened up and we sought out shelter and food within the confines of Greenpoint.

In Ricotta Da Vita
Clay has been trying to get to Paulie's for a while, plus Brownie hadn't been in ages. So, over we went. We settled on getting the Monte Cristo (ham, Gouda, and a maple syrup drizzle), In Ricotta da Vita (sausage, ricotta dollops, arugula), and The Hellboy. This was my first experience with the Monte Cristo and In Ricotta. The Monte is for the more adventurous pizza eaters i.e. ones that don't need sauce. It's on the sweeter side which is only heightened by the maple syrup. The In Ricotta, though, will complete hit a pizza craving spot. I enjoyed this pie more, equally due to my love of the savory fennel sausage with sauce, and my ambivalence about the ham and Gouda combination. Not that I would turn down any of Paulie Gee's pies.

Paulie Gee's
P.S. if you can sit by the oven there, totally do it. Watching them make pies is mesmerizing.

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

Friday, June 1, 2012

Happy National Doughnut Day!

Doughnuts from Dough

Have you heard? It's National Doughnut Day! This my friends is a real holiday, not one that was made up just a few years ago by some "Doughnut Board" but rather a day that was started by the Salvation Army in 1938 to celebrate the "lassies" who served up doughnuts to doughboys in WWI. Now that we've cleared that up, let's get to celebratng. Where will you get your doughnut on?

I'm hoping that I'll have the chance to get a doughnut from my fav shop in the city, DOUGH. If I get enough book writing done, I'm holding out for a chocolate frosted one, or perhaps a blood orange doughnut.

If you prefer to make your own here are some of my favorite recipes that I've made for my American Classics column  at Serious Eats over the past year...

potato doughnuts

Potato Doughnuts!

Polish Doughnuts!

Italian Doughnuts!

Maple Bacon Long John
BACON Doughnuts!

What's your favorite kind of doughnut and where do you get it?