Monday, December 23, 2013

Last Minute Gift Ideas!!!

Jim Lahey Bread
Are you looking at that picture and thinking "mmmm, warm bread," while you're also frantically scouring the internet for last minute gifts? Well, that could be your gift, in a way. I've been noticing a few gifts for those of us who abhor shopping and like giving experiences over things. Everyone has too many things.

That breaking of the bread happened with Mr. Sullivan St Bakery himself, Jim Lahey, wanted to show his class the insides of the bread we'd baked. I was fortunate to go to this test class because Jim needs to know his way around the International Culinary Center's (formerly FCI) kitchens and they needed volunteers. But beginning next year, Jim Lahey as the Master Bread Advisor will be overseeing the teaching of classes that us hoi polloi can go to! You, or your beloved baker friend, can learn about bagels, pasta, chocolate deserts (trust me, it's hard to get that smooth glaze), or, you know, beer brewing. You'll need someone on your team to make beer during the zombie apocalypse, right?!

Brooklyn Kitchen Class
If those classes are for someone you like a little bit more or they'll *never* want to trek to SoHo ever for a class, may I suggest Brooklyn Kitchen? As always, they have their class schedule for the busy Brooklyn location, but they do also have an outpost at the Gotham West Market on 11th Avenue. No more leaving work a few minutes early to get to Brooklyn (and no dealing with that L train!)

But what about those friends who don't live in the city? You could send them an online gift certificate to a seed exchange--some to get started with are Southeastern, Hudson Valley, and Seed Savers. What if they live further afield than the US? Well, do they love farm animals? I mean, errybody knows about Heifer now (thanks, Bill!), but they can also adopt a farm animal at the Farm Sanctuary! Caution: there are some adorable photos of piggies eating pumpkins, piggies in the snow, cows in the snow, chickens looking curious, and goats and sheeps!!!! If you have other great last minute gift ideas, leave it in the comments or tweet it at us @BlondieBrownie (now that I'm on winter break, I may be popping up on the tweeters more than usual!)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Have You Hit Up Robicellis with a Holiday Order?

Robicellis treats 
Guys, I hate to be the one to say this, but Christmas is in two weeks. Yeah, fourteen days. Ok, you can commence freak out now. If you're looking for some awesome treats to put out for Santa or to, you know, eat your feelings before Christmas rolls around, look no further than the Robicellis new shop in Bay Ridge. See that haul above. It didn't last the car ride home...

Clockwise from the top that's a chocolate chip cookie ($2), chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting and sea salt ($3.25), Cinnamon Bun Cake ($2.50) and banana cake with a chocolate chip, caramel, bacon streusel ($3). Yes, we know, Robicellis makes great cupcakes (they wrote a book on it, too!), but for those of you who say "Cupcakes? Meh!" Let me tell you that Robicellis is so much more than their famous cupcakes. You are not allowed to "meh" at this ridiculous banana cake. It's not good. It's make you want to turn around in your car and get another slice good.

So about those holiday parties. I know you want to impress your relatives. Well, you could bring them cupcakes, but you could also bring them pies! Or Buche de Noels! They have four different types you can order including one that involves Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel and Bourbon N’Awlins Praline. And if you love your cake in slice form, they're also making some amazing sounding layer cakes. Keep tabs on the offerings via their their Tumblr. You can get a sneak peak at the menu here and here. Whatever you do, get those orders in so you don't get shut out!

9009 Fifth Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

Monday, December 9, 2013

Send Them Brownies!!

Greyston Bakery
Yesterday was National Brownie Day, did you partake in celebrating?! Between you, me and the internet, I didn't, but that's partly because I was baking gingerbread men and partly because I had gone through a whole box of brownies recently. By myself.

I had received a box from Greyston Bakery, but before you say "bribes!" hear me out. I knew of Greyston prior due to their contract with Ben & Jerry's (and we ALL know how much I love Ben, and Jerry, and their entire R&D team). As someone who wants to change "the system," specifically to address how the lower classes are not given the opportunities needed to change their situations, I've been a silent fan of them and hoped that one day, I'd get the opportunity to visit the bakery. I wouldn't dare buy a whole box of brownies for myself because that's just a terrible idea. So when they asked if I would like a box, I DID IT BECAUSE I'M WEAK! And holy goodness, the brownies were like fudge and moist and individually wrapped so you only eat one. At a time.

So, if you're like me and totally into the idea of sending everyone homemade holiday treats, only to rethink that idea at 9 o'clock at night when you're slightly tipsy from that day's holiday celebration, may I suggest sending your loved ones brownies & blondies from Greyston? You'll be giving money to a great bakery with a great mission and saving yourself from being covered in flour & crying.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

It's Time for the Burmese Food & Fun Fair!

Shan Noodles

It's time once again for one of my all time favorite food events of the year, this weekend's 18th Annual Fun Fair at the Myanmar Baptist Church in Queens. The fair is much later this year than in years past, so there's still time to get your fill of homemade Burmese food before 2014 rolls around...
The event is usually held in the summer. Last year they moved it to October and this year it's happening this Saturday. Why is this event so exciting? Well, you don't often find Burmese food in the city and this is high quality home cooked yumminess. Before my first Fun Fair experience a few years ago I was completely unfamiliar with the wonder that is Burmese food. It's a geographic center for deliciousness. Myanmar is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, and India on the northwest. As you can imagine there are all sorts of interesting influences in Burmese cuisine.

Tips: Bring cash and your appetite. Food tickets are $1 each and different dishes have different ticket prices.

Here are some of my favorites from years past:

Light and refreshing spring rolls...

Myanmar Baptist Church Food and Fun Fair 2008: Spring Rolls

Pickled mustard greens. These are homemade by the church ladies. Homemade, people! Hello, delicious...

Myanmar Baptist Church Food and Fun Fair 2008

One of the most popular dishes at the fair by far is the fresh fried paratha bread. If you want to give it a try you'd best put your name on the list when you first arrive. You have to pay in advance and get a ticket to reserve your spot. Each bread is made to order so the wait is LONG.


Myanmar Baptist Church Food and Fun Fair 2008

The event has been growing in popularity with food lovers from all backgrounds and for the past couple of years they've outfitted the tables with illustrated signs in English with photos of the dishes. The parish community is warm and welcoming and did I mention that I love the food?


If you've been in the past take note of the NEW location! DATE: December 7th (SATURDAY).
TIME: 11:00AM - 5:00PM

Event details can be found on the church's Facebook page.
For more pictures from previous fairs check out this slideshow:


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Robicelli's is Opening TODAY!

Robicellis Sweet Potato Cupcakes
If all goes well, the Robicellis should be opening their new store TODAY. TODAY, people. You know what today is? Um, two days before Thanksgiving. And if you need desserts for your turkey day spread or just, you know, want to go give Matt & Allison a high five, you can head over to Bay Ridge to do that...

The official grand opening is on December 1st, but the soft opening is happening now. Full details are up on their Tumblr. Their current flavors include these INCREDIBLE Chocolate Frosted Sweet Potato cupcakes that I had the good fortune to try at their cookbook release party. Forget Pumpkin Spice Blah Bitty Blah, it's all about these spiced sweet potato cakes. Even if you are making a ton of desserts for your Thanksgiving festivities, you're going to want these, if only to give you energy to plow through all the cooking that the next few days will bring (at least that's what I'm telling myself). See you there, right?

9009 Fifth Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Videos About Sandwiches!!

Those of you who know me in real life (and some of you who don't) know that I love sandwiches. I'll often forego the fancy entree at a restaurant for a crack at their lunchtime sandwich. When eating alone at home (a near daily event), I'll often simply resort to a sandwich. There have been conscious efforts to get me off sandwiches and onto real meals, like an adult. But the world and maturity can't deny my love! So, I'm here to share some sandwich news and this delicious sandwich video.

This video is part of a new series from Jeremy Spector, the Chef and Owner of The Brindle Room. If you haven't had their steakhouse burger (yes, burgers are sandwiches!) then that is a situation that needs to be rectified post-haste. I will even go with you to fix such situations. And now I have a feeling that a sausage sandwich is in my immediate future.

Most likely made with sausage from The Meat Hook. Last week, news broke (that I sort of knew about, but will deny everything!) (unless Brent Young's asking, he can see into my soul and knows it) that the butchers from The Meat Hook have bought a space to expand to! AND IT'S GOING TO BE A SANDWICH SHOP! I maybe might have sort of freaked out and bounced in excitement when I got the news (and possibly scared Ben Turley.) To keep up with their news like the date where I'll be allowed to eat my weight in sandwiches, follow them on Twitter and Instagram. Now go eat a sandwich for lunch!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Trying Out Doritos Dinamita

Doritos Dinamita
Road trips demand road trip food. You know the sort of junk food that you might not bring into your home on a regular basis, but that makes the perfect fuel for hours of night driving. A recent work trip necessitated some serious road food to make it through. When I found myself in a convenience store during the wee hours starring down a display of Doritos Dinamita, I had to snag a bag . . .

Let’s start with the shape. These rolled Doritos are tubular rather than triangular and are a good bit crunchier than your standard Dorito. They’re also an alarming shade of red as opposed to a shocking shade of orange. As for the flavor, when they say chile they aren’t playin. These chips are picante with some lingering heat. How much heat? Enough heat to slow you down from eating the whole bag in a single sitting and that alone is worth the price of admission. Would I buy these again? Absolutely.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I’ve Been Baking . . . Challah!

It’s fall. It’s chilly. And I’ve been baking . . . challah!

I love challah. So soft! So pillowy! So incredibly delicious! And warm challah? Well, that’s about as awesome as you can imagine times a million. The thing is, it can be hard to find really good challah. In my experience, unless you have an awesome bakery in range, the store bought stuff can be kind of stale and expensive.

Challah might look intimidating, but it needn’t be, especially if you’re armed with a great recipe. Molly Yeh pointed me in the direction of Ima’s Challah via Food 52 and it is glorious. Check out this post from The Shiksa Blog for some great braiding instructions. I’ve tried a few different braids now and the six strand is my favorite.

And I have to say there’s something super satisfying about making bread from scratch. I find the kneading and shaping soothing. Wait a few hours for it to rise and *boom* you’ve got bread. The only problem with challah is you’ll want to eat THE WHOLE LOAF. There will be no leftovers for French toast or stuffing or bread pudding. You will eat is ALL. Oh, and did I mention that the recipe makes two loaves? Yeah. Best advice I can give you is to give one to a friend. Share the love.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Check Out Good Eggs + Learn Trade Secrets!

Oooooh, just writing "trade secrets" makes me feel so accomplished and knowledgable. Well, next week you can meet me (along with much more important people) and perhaps learn a thing or two, but more on that after the jump. First up, GOOD EGGS! Good Eggs is an online marketplace for local food purveyors, and they're throwing their launch party this Sunday. For $5, you can learn more about the site while trying some of the food they have available (there will also be booze for you weekend warriors.) Info and links are at the bottom, after theeeee

A few weeks ago, I was approached by Brooklyn Based to sit on a panel for the day-long Indie Media Camp and of course I agreed. Over lunch, Tasting Table's Tressa Eaton, Edible's Gabrielle Langholtz, and I will "dish trade secrets." I am honored to even be considered in their presence (I got starstruck and acted all stupid when I finally met Brooklyn Based's Annaliese Griffin and Gabrielle in one night.) But anyway, there's a bunch of really great, really accessible people presenting and you should come or get your boss to pay for you to come. It's all happening on Wednesday, the 13th in Gowanus, Brooklyn and it's currently $150 (you missed the early bird $99 rate.)

The Good Eggs Brooklyn launch party is this Sunday, the 10th, from 2pm to 6pm at Colony Studios (67 West Street, 5th Floor) in Williamsburg. Here are links to buy a ticket and the Facebook event page.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Brooklyn Commune Makes an Awesome Rice Salad

Rice Salad
I'm not a rice person. As far as starches go, it's my least favorite. But Brooklyn Commune and is making me rethink that with their new Vietnamese Rice Salad. . .

This $9 salad, makes a substantial meal. It's loaded with seasoned rice, spinach, shiitake mushrooms, thai basil, lemon-soy vinaigrette, toasted coconut, crispy shallots. This past summer I fell in love with Brooklyn Commune's Organic Kale Salad ($9), a close cousin to a Kale Caesar, made with kale, radicchio with shaved Manchego and anchovy dressing. To say I was bereft when the kale salad came off the seasonal menu, is to put it mildly. But...this rice salad is amazing. So many mushrooms! Crispy shallots! Mint! I can't wait to go back and have this again.

Brooklyn Commune
601 Greenwood Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11218
(718) 686-1044

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Shopsins Tupelo "Slutty Cakes"

Shopsins Tupelo 

If you fancy yourself a pancake lover and you've never had the 'cakes from Shopsins, not pass go, do not collect $200 until you do...

Lawman and I have been going to Shopsin's for a decade. When it comes time to order, there's the frequent quandary: get a old time favorite or try something new. Well, "try something new" won out on a recent visit when I ordered the Tupelo "Slutty Cakes" which consisted of peanut butter smothered bacon sandwiched between banana pancakes. Decadent? You betcha. Would I order them again? No doubt.

Essex Street Market
120 Essex Street
New York, NY 10002

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sunday Dinner Roasting

Sunday Dinners
This season seems to be passing me by in a blur of school work, work work, cleaning out my mom's house, and trying my best at interviewing--all interspersed with blurry evenings with friends. But I've claimed my Sundays as a day to (slightly) relax and treat myself with some roast chicken.

A few weeks ago, the chill in the air and some potatoes in my fridge inspired a roast chicken dinner. But it didn't come out exactly the way I wanted and all week I kept thinking of experimenting with different marinades, so the following Sunday, I stopped by The Meat Hook for another half a chicken. Now, for the third week in a row, I walked on down to my favorite butcher, picked up my chicken, said hello to friends, and continued my latest Sunday tradition. This week I chose to make a marinade of brown sugar and maple syrup with a touch of ginger, and sides of roast potatoes, green beans and beets. (If you need help on the beet roasting, follow our friend Cathy's recipe.) An hour in a 425℉ oven-- first 30 minutes tented with foil, last 30 not; basting a few times; and boom. The potatoes and beans go in for the second half hour to get nice and crispy. I still want to get a beautiful crispy skin, so expect more updates on my roast chicken adventures.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Things To Do In The Middle Of The Night

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Buns
I've heard that when you awake in the middle of the night (like 3:35am) and you're awake for more than a half hour (you're still staring out the window at 4:15), you should just get up and do something. Making cinnamon rolls is probably not advised, but I was awake and hungry.

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Buns
Don't ask why I was awake in the middle of the night. I've have issues sleeping through the night since I was a babe. You wake up, your mind starts going and you're done for. At some point around 4am, I started thinking about the cinnamon roll craving I've been harboring since Nebraska, where I ate the most delicious cinnamon rolls I've ever eaten in my life! Of course, they're from a store that's only open on Fridays and the last Friday I was there, they were closed and I have thought of those cinnamon rolls every Friday for months. There are no pictures because we kept eating them so fast. But back to my rolls.

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Buns
There I was awake with a craving and a rumbling tummy. My first Google search result landed me here on Sally's Baking Addiction. I subbed in a 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour (Ron Swanson: vegetables is like Siobhan: whole wheat flour. I have way too much of it in my pantry and it makes me itch, and I need to get rid of it before I don't know myself anymore.); brown sugar (I keep forgetting to buy white sugar); and didn't manage to get that last 1/3-1/2 cup of flour into the dough. Around 5:30am, there were rolls rising in my oven and I was finally sleepy enough to fall back asleep. When I woke up a few hours later, it was the perfect time to turn on the oven for these bad boys. For the frosting, I used two tablespoons of maple syrup and one tablespoon of coffee, and it's still a bit sweet (yes, I added some salt.) I don't ever fully frost cinnamon buns as I like to add a little more drizzle on the individual servings. I would use this recipe again, though I'm still experimenting on my desired maple frosting.

And I might be possibly looking up flights to Lincoln, Nebraska, because er mah gawd, those cinnamon rolls.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Help Make Brooklyn's First Cocktail/Dessert Bar a Reality

The lovely ladies at Butter & Scotch are in the home stretch and trying to raise the remaining funds they need to sign a lease on their Cocktail/Dessert Bar. Check out their Kickstarter campaign. They have some pretty sweet perks for donors... From temporary tattoos to recipes to private parties and a year's worth of pies (yes, a pie-a-month!), there are some sweet, sweet rewards. We've known Allison and Keavy since the early days of their businesses--First Prize Pies and Kumquat Cupcakery. The other night we sampled some of their treats at Allison's mom Rhonda's grand opening of the new Roni-Sue's and DANG, they make an awesome rum punch. It's never too early to start, you know, shopping for holiday prezzies and a Kickstarter donation makes a great gift (they even are open to custom rewards at the $50 level or higher). What are you waiting for? Let's help make Butter & Scotch a reality! jump

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Awesome books by Awesome People Make Awesome Gifts

Fall is a big, big time in the publishing biz, especially for cookbooks. And this fall is no exception. There are a ton of awesome books by awesome people coming out in the coming months...

First up, have watched the Robicelli's cookbook trailer? No? I can wait. Go ahead.

Now are you excited for their book? I thought so. Well, you should get super excited for their book release party next Thursday, October 17th at Whisk in Manhattan. Full details on all of their events are up on their Tumblr. If you can't make any of those, you should probably go visit their NEW STORE when it opens (soon!). That way you can give Matt and Allison a hi-five, buy lots of books and baked goods.

four and twenty blackbirds pie book
On October 29th, our friends at Four & Twenty Blackbirds pie shop are releasing their cookbook. Can I tell you I've been waiting for this book for TWO years? Can I tell you that I've pre-ordered, no joke, four copies and I've already thought of several more people I want to buy it for as gifts? That's the thing about books. They make fantastic gifts. Your friends and family members don't need another tschotske. Give them a book. Teach them to make cupcakes or pie. And maybe, just maybe, they'll make one for you.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

TallyHo! And Hoorary for Liddabit Chelsea!

Liddabit TallyHo!
I’ve been watching Liddabit Sweets’ twitter stream with a hungry eye. Last weekend I had an outing planned in the Union Square-ish area so I decided to mosey over to their new Chelsea Market store for some treats…

The object of my desire was their Tally-Ho —a from-scratch chocolate mallocake. If you love marshmallow and chocolate this will make your heart sing. The mallo is soft, sticky and sweet and the cookie innards are super chocolatey with just a touch of salt. I could have eaten about a dozen of these myself. I made the mistake of sharing mine with Lawman—he liked it, but he doesn’t love marshmallow nearly as much as I do, so the glory of this treat was kind of wasted on him. If you have a chocolate & marshmallow lover in your life, surprise them with this treat, they will love you forever and ever.

Follow along on Instagram @liddabitchelsea for the latest of what’s in stock.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Bring Rocky's Road Back!

Ample Hills Rocky's Road 
Remember when I won the Ample Hills Creamery movie flavor contest and they made a special batch of the ice cream flavor I created to go with the Syfy Movies With a View screening of Rocky? Well, the folks at Ample Hills are bringing one of the eight movie flavors back for a weekend and are taking votes...

My flavor, Rocky's Road, is my twisted take on Rocky Road ice cream. I'm a big fan of ice creams that are chock full of goodies, so this one has brownie chunks, chocolate chip cookie dough, mini marshmallows AND chocolate covered potato chips. This is the best chocolate ice cream you'll have in your life and if you're like me and love sweet/savory and ice cream that's loaded with goodies, you'll love this flavor.

I get nothing out of this deal, except the opportunity to stock up like a crazy person. There's a lot of great flavors, so go VOTE!

Ample Hills Creamery
623 Vanderbilt Ave
Prospect Heights
(347) 240-3926

*illustration courtesy of Ample Hills' Facebook Page.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What's Your Favorite Hot Sauce?

piri piri sauce
I love hot sauce. Sriracha. Harissa. Cholula. They're all in residence in my fridge. Lately my obsession has been Mazi Piri Piri sauce that I first discovered at Murray's Cheese Bar...

I've been putting this traditional, fiery Portuguese sauce on eggs...cottage cheese...lentil salad...burgers...anything and everything. The trouble is, I'm down to my last few drops. And as long as I'm planning on stocking up on hot sauce, what are your favorites? I currently have a tube of harissa, two types of sriracha, and a bottle of Chili Garlic Cholula (which in my opinion is a sad, sad spin off of the original). What am I missing? What other hot sauces should I add to my collection?

Monday, September 30, 2013

Madison Square Eats is Back!

Roberta's The Unicorn
There's one thing I look forward to more than Barney's Warehouse Sale (which has been worse than the Giants): Madison Square Eats. I have fond memories of working there, seeing the crazy that is regular people, eating Roberta's pizza and enjoying the change of seasons. The outdoor eating fest always seems to end right as the weather turns cold (or warm, depending on which season). So here's your chance to enjoy the last days of warmth with some doughnuts and pizza (and tacos and macarons....)

Madison Square Eats
Falling under the list of "must eats" are Roberta's (obviously), Hong Kong Street Cart, Calexico, Mexicue, The Cannibal, Mayhem & Stout, and Arancini Bros. As for dessert, I'm always down for Nunu's Chocolates, Macaron Parlour, Melt Bakery, or Milk Bar. I will hopefully get the chance to stop by to finally try Doughnuttery, La Sonrísa Empanadas, Mason Jar NYC, Delaney Barbecue (I hear rumors of tacos!) and Sunday Gravy. If any of you try something unbelievably delicious, let me know! Ain't nobody got time to waste on bad food.

The full list of vendors can be found here. It's open daily until October 25th, 11am to 9pm.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cold Brew Showdown

photo (2)
I've shared how I've fallen in love with cold brew ice coffee. It’s bolder and less bitter than iced regular coffee, but I'm also a thrify lady and as NY Mag points out, when you’re dropping $3.50 plus per cup, it gets to be a spendy habit. I've tried making my own at home with this recipe, but I'm sure I got my proportions wrong because it turned out a lot weaker than planned, let's be honest, I rarely have the patience for recipes that involve 24 hour advance planning especially when you're talking about coffee. I’ve been a fan of Grady’s Cold Brew concentrate, but when I saw that Trader Joe's was getting in the cold brew concentrate game, I had to do a head-to-head...

If I were a super organized food blogger I'd have sexy shots of me pouring the milk into frosty glasses of iced coffee, but, well, I have an infant and a toddler and unfolded clean laundry everywhere, so you'll just have to imagine. Are you visualizing two unmarked glasses of iced coffee? Good.

In one corner we have Grady’s Cold Brew, "a New Orleans–style" coffee concentrate that’s brewed and packed into nifty brown bottles in Brooklyn, NY. There’s no sugar in Grady’s but it’s brewed with chicory which lends a natural sweetness. You prepare Grady's with a 1:1 ratio, adding either milk or water to dilute it. You can find Grady’s in 16 ounce bottles or 32 ounces bottles which have four and eight servings respectively at a variety of stores around the city. They’re available at Union Market, Whole Foods and Fairway. The bottles retail at Union Market for $7 for the small and $14 for the large.

In the other corner we have a plastic 32 ounce bottle from Trader Joe's which touts that it was brewed from Arabica beans. The Trader Joe's is shelf stable, so it doesn't require refrigeration until you open it. Once opened you have 30 days to use it. The instructions on the TJ's bottle recommends 1 part concentrate to 2 parts milk or water and advertises 8 to 12 eight ounce servings from a 32 ounce bottle. Oh, and it's $7.99.

But how do they taste? I won't keep you in suspense any longer. In a direct match up Grady's easily beats TJ in my book. Grady's concentrate is smoother. I don't sweeten my coffee but I do like that bit of sweetness from the chicory in Grady's. That said cold brew from TJ's is $7.99 for 12 servings and Grady's is $14 for 8 servings. By the second cup of TJ's, it was starting to grow on me. But here's the thing. The Trader Joe's concentrate tasted like a cold brew coffee that I could imagine myself making at home with the correct ratio of H2O to beans. I'm not as convinced I could replicate my own "New Orleans style" cold brew without some practice. Grady's tastes like a treat to me and if I'm splurging by buying a concentrate instead of fully committing to DIY for my coffee break, then I'm going to go with what tastes best to me, so it's Grady's for the win.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Busy Times, Part 4 of 6

Outstanding in the Field BG
Er mah gawd, I'm so sorry for being off the radar. Sometime during the week *before* Labor Day, I signed over my life to school, work and Netflix. I'll try to keep up with eating delicious things and telling you about them--or at the very least, I'll tell you what everyone's telling me to go eat. There was one really interesting thing I got to do, and no, I'm not talking about researching the Farmland Protection Program or HACCP!

Brooklyn Grange
When I was out in Nebraska, I got to be involved in an Outstanding in the Field dinner--here's a Serious Eats piece I wrote regarding their farm dinners. Well, the crew was traveling through the New York area about two weeks ago and I helped out again for their dinner at the original Brooklyn Grange!

Riverpark Ricotta Crostini
The chefs from Riverpark and wines from Brooklyn Oenology (drop the O, pronounce it ee-nology) were the stars of the night, and my personal favorite course involved squid ink pasta from Sfoglini. The pasta was covered with grilled octopus, clams, Carmen peppers, and it was all sorts of goodness. Like you wake up in the middle of the night and take an extra forkful straight out of the fridge good. The entire meal looked scrumptious, the end of shift family meal only proved it was, and everyone appeared to have a great time (though we were freeeeeeeezing.)

Sunset on Brooklyn Grange
And I am now completely sold on Outstanding in the Field meals. If you live in one of the areas they're about to tour through, get a ticket! I also advise using the dinner as a reason to begin planning a mid-winter sojourn to Hawaii.

If you're interested in visiting the Brooklyn Grange, they hold a ton of events throughout the season at both the original LIC location and the one in the Navy Yard. You can also stop to buy produce at the LIC location on Saturdays or at the Navy Yard on Wednesdays.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Valley Shepherd Creamery Opens Melt Kraft in Brooklyn

Melt Kraft
The good folks behind Valley Shepherd Creamery have opened a “farm to table” grilled cheese shop in Park Slope. Homemade cheese, tasty bread, what’s not to like?

Zzang bar
I happened to by The Melt Kraft about an hour after they opened on their very first day. It was the first I had noticed that something was taking over the old Almondine space. While I didn’t have time for a grilled cheese, I’ve vowed to go back. Brooklyn Based has an early look. I can say that their pantry selection is pretty awesome—they carry a bunch of artisanal ice creams like Jeni’s, Phebe and Phin and Steve’s. I couldn’t resist picking up a Zimmerman’s Zzang! Bar for my brother. For those of you unfamiliar with Zzang! it’s like everything a Snickers bar wants to be when it grows up. Right now they’re running a pre-Halloween special on the Zzang! bars. The bars are $5, down from their normal $6. Pretty spendy for some chocolate. But if you’re a big candy bar fan, it’s totally worth the splurge.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Caramel Thyme?

Thyme Caramel
Pardon the punny post title, but I recently had a thyme flavored caramel and it was kind of really awesome, so I couldn't resist...

This lovely little sweet set me back just 50 cents at The Ploughman in Park Slope. I went to the store in search of some Jojo's Sriracha sauce after falling in love with Peach Sriracha jam. I found my very own jar of Jojo's and I couldn't help but be tempted by the caramels in pretty glass jars at the point of purchase. They had a spiced caramel, a bacon thyme caramel and the regular thyme caramel you see above. I asked the cashier for her opinion and she recommended the thyme caramel. I'm not typically a huge thyme person. Sure I'll toss it into recipes in a blend like herbs de Provence or Za'atar and I know a jar of it somewhere, but it's not an herb I bust out with much frequency on its own. I was surprised how nicely the peppery-ness of the herb paired with the sweet, buttery, soft caramel. I wish I had taken notice of what company made the caramels--all the more reason for a return trip.

In the meantime I'm going to be plotting ways to include thyme in some fall baking. Thyme & salted caramel apple pie, anyone?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Look! A Cronut (and Magic Soufflé) Post

Fig Cronut
Back when the the cronut aka the pastry that launched a million blog posts debuted, I figured to myself, as much as I love pastries and anything remotely doughnut related, this was going to be a food trend that was going to pass me by. Why? Uh, the line. At the time I was enormously pregnant and had a toddler. Now, a few short months later, I have an infant and a toddler. If you want a cronut you have to queue up in SoHo during the wee hours. If I get the chance to sleep in even a few minutes in the morning, I take it. As time has passed the line hasn’t subsided, if anything it’s longer than ever. This weekend I had my taste of a cronut at last and by extreme luck and good fortune there was no waiting involved…

I didn’t bribe anyone. I didn’t have an intern to sit outside for hours waiting for the Dominique Ansel Bakery to open. So, how did I get a cronut without waiting? Well, Chef Ansel recently played a little 21 questions game on the Twitter in anticipation of revealing his latest pastry creation. I love games. Logic games especially. While I was keeping a side eye to the chatter as Chef Ansel answered people’s questions, it wasn’t until he started dropping some serious hints that I jumped into the fray. Knowing that the dessert was chocolate and likely a soufflé, but also another very French dish that had some of the similar flavoring of the soufflé, started piecing things together and guessed that the new pastry was an orange blossom brioche filled with a Grand Marnier soufflé and I was right! In addition to the gratification of guessing correctly I also won a cronut and a magic soufflé which would be held for me at the bakery. No line! Woot!

Saturday we met up with Lawman-in-law in the bakery’s back garden to claim my prize and sample the bakery’s wares.

Cronut cross section
First up, the coveted cronut. Lawman is not a fig person. Nor is he a mascarpone person. So he was more than a little disappointed to discover that was the flavor of the month (and cronuts only come in one flavor). One bite made him a believer. The pastry was as light and tender and flakey as I’ve heard. It wasn’t the slightest bit greasy or heavy. And it had just the right amount of filling to infuse it with flavor without making it messy. The fig wasn’t in your face figgy, it was pleasantly mellow. I’m sure others have said all there really is to say about the cronut and then some. It’s tasty. It’s impressive (how is it so flakey and light?!) It’s fun.

the magic souffle
The magic soufflé was another work of sheer genius. You must eat it hot and it’s best if you just tear into it with your bare hands. It’s essentially a pocket soufflé. Again, Lawman isn’t a big fan of the citrus chocolate combo, but here the orange and orange blossom weren’t overpowering, they perfectly complimented the chocolate. The brioche was tender and the soufflé inside was still warm and oh so good.

I wouldn’t pass up either of these fine treats, but if I had to choose or I’d say go for the soufflé and stay for the DKA, the signature pastry which is essentially a caramelized croissant (I know, it blew my mind, too). I don’t have any pics of the DKA because we ate it too quickly, but I would make a special trip for that alone—did I mention that it’s a caramelized croissant?! And you don’t need to stand in line for 3 hours to get one. In fact, I kind of want one now.

If you are reading this in the wee hours and have nothing to do this morning, you could hop out of bed and head to Madison Square Park where for one day only Shake Shack and Dominique Ansel are partnering for the Cronut Concrete to benefit the Widows & Children Foundation of NYPD. There are only 1000 concretes available and the first 100 folks get a sweet t-shirt. Doors open at 10 am, an hour earlier than normal and, well, I don’t have to tell you that there’s going to be a line.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Taste Talks Talks Taste

Oh, the weekend is coming. And that means another huge star-studded gorgefest is happening! This time, it all goes down within walking distance of my apartment (because as much as you hate to admit it, Williamsburg/Greenpoint is the epicenter of the food universe lately.)

Chef April Bloomfield is curating a two-day festival of all things food. There's talks. There's a screening. There's a cook-out! Our pals from Robicelli's will discuss how they acquired a book deal, while our friend Daniel Krieger gives tips on how to make your food photography look appealing. And then you can go foraging! I will be spending my Saturday atop Brooklyn Grange, but if you want to make it a Williamsburg day, I highly recommend checking out the full Taste Talks schedule. The best part is most of the events are $80 or under. (There is a fancy dinner at The Elm that's $125, but April Bloomfield and Paul Liebrandt are cooking!)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Scenes from the 2013 Vendys

2013 Vendys Cinnamon Snail Donuts
You probably already know that El Olomega won the Vendy Cup this weekend. Perhaps you saw the article in The Daily News with the accompanying photo by our pal, Clay Williams. Or perhaps you read Siobhan or Max’s recaps. I wish I could say I tried everything at the Vendys—I’ll be honest, I didn’t have time or tummy space. But I did eat some tasty, tasty things and here are some pictures

2013 Vendys Cinnamon Snail doughnuts
In my book this might as well be the “Doughnut Vendys,” I ate—I kid you not—at least 2.5 doughnuts and I don’t regret it one bit. One was a sweet yet tart and tangy cranberry glazed cake doughnut from the Cinnamon Snail. Lawman and Lil B knocked back a couple Norberweiberberweiberhydrafabs from the Snail, that’s the “white chocolate glazed donuts stuffed with bourbon hazelnut ganache and dusted with dirty blonde streusel” you see above.

2013 Vendys Carpe Donuts
I also had one and a half hot, yes, sort-of-burned-the-roof-of-my-mouth piping hot doughnuts from the Carpe Donut Truck. Organic apple cider doughnuts served fresh? Uh, yes, please. I may start chasing that truck down. By the way, the haze you see in the photo above is not some sort of ethereal glow, though it might as well be. I think I got a little hot grease on my phone...

2013 Vendys Oddfellows Cornbread Ice Cream
The cornbread ice cream from OddFellows was definitely one of the most interesting things I tried. Salty, sweet, and creamy, I’ve never had corn ice cream before, but why not? I’m kind of sad that last weekend was their last weekend serving it for the summer because their cornbread ice cream sundae with blueberry compote and bacon whipped cream sounds pretty darn delicious.

2013 Vendys Lonestar Taco
This taco from Lonestar Taco was ridiculously good. I wasn’t really that hungry after the Cinnamon Snail’s enormous savory sample platter (seen below)—come on, I can’t say no to Korean BBQ Seitan or Tempeh Tacos if the Snail is cooking. I almost passed the Lonestar taco up. But Lawman insisted. And I’m glad he did.

Cinnamon Snail Vendy Savory Platter
The taco chips from The Chipper Truck were awesome. As was the souvlaki from King Souvlaki. Alas, I didn’t get any snaps of them, so you’ll have to take my word for it (or Gothamist, who called The Chipper’s taco chips one of the five best dishes at the Vendys).

What was your favorite thing you ate at the Vendy’s?

Monday, September 9, 2013

It’s a Red Hook Vendy Hat Trick!

2013 Vendy Cup Winners El Olomega
This weekend marked the third Red Hook Food Vendor win in a row as El Olomega Pupusas brought the Vendy Cup back to Brooklyn. If there was any doubt as to the Red Hook ball fields being a hotbed of deliciousness, consider that four of the Vendy Cup winners in the last five years have been Red Hook Food Vendors…

In the process of researching our book, New York á La Cart: Recipes and Stories from the Big Apple's Best Food Trucks, I had the chance to interview many of the Red Hook vendors including El Olomega owners and siblings, Marcos and Janet Lainez. Marcos and Janet were gracious with their time and sharing stories of the early days of vending at the ball fields and how their mother, Teodora began selling pupusas, a traditional, handmade Salvadoran corn cake stuffed with a variety of fillings. They also shared their recipe for chicken pupusas. Mmm…pupusas. Their pupusas are ridiculously good—Lil B can’t get enough of them and it seems the judges couldn’t either.

While summer may be winding down, the ball fields are still cooking ‘til the end of October. This coming weekend should be a big one at the ball fields, they’ll be celebrating Mexican and Central American Independence Day. If you haven’t been to the ball fields yet this season, don’t miss out! Follow the Red Hook Food Vendors on Facebook for more details.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pick Up a Copy of New York á La Cart at the 2013 Vendys

Boxty recipe testing shot
We're in the final countdown to this year's Vendy Awards. The big day is on Saturday. If you haven't bought your ticket yet, there are still some available and if you haven't bought your copy of our book New York á La Cart: Recipes and Stories from the Big Apple's Best Food Trucks--wait, you haven't bought a copy yet?--you can do so this weekend at the Vendys with the proceeds benefiting the Street Vendor Project! Inside you'll find recipes and stories from four of the five finalists for the 2013 Vendy Cup featured in our book. Learn how to make The Cinnamon Snail 's Blue Corn Pancakes with Pinenut Butter, chicken pupusas from El Olomega, shrimp rolls from Luke’s Lobster and boxty (aka awesome Irish potato pancakes seen above) from The Chipper Truck and much much more...

Frozen mint julep
Photo (c) Donny Tsang 

There are about 100 other recipes from vendors all around the city including many from past Vendy finalists and winners. Vegetarians and carnivores alike will find something tasty in the pages like zucchini pupusas from Solber Pupusas, black bean tamales from Tamales Guadalupe, dosas from NY Dosas, Greek Pork Chops and Lemon Potatoes from Uncle Gussy's Truck, Lamb with White Sauce from Kwik Meal, Chorizo Huaraches from The Country Boys. Got a sweet tooth? How about Coffee Ice Box Cake from The Treats Truck, The Salty Pimp Sundae from Big Gay Ice Cream, or Frozen Mint Juleps from Kelvin Slush? Gluten free? No problem, the GF recipes are labeled for your convenience.

NY a la Cart front and back covers
Here's the drill. If you're at the Vendy's come on by the merch table. I'll be there selling copies of the book to benefit SVP until we run out. Want a hot tip on the best dishes to prepare for your own street food party or some recommendations for where to get started in the kitchen? I can help you with that. You can take home a, ahem, pretty sweet book and help raise more money to support the Street Vendor Project's mission. Sounds like a street food win/win to me. Get your tickets and I'll see you Saturday!