Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Some Food(ish) Projects Brownie is Supporting

Have you all kicked in for NYC Food Community for Oklahoma yet? A bunch of our favorite food folks (including Blondie) are supporting Team Rubicon to help rebuild in OK. The overall team goal is $15k and they are super close to 2/3s to goal. Any amount will help! I made my donation. Once you've made yours, you here's another project that a friend share with me. If you have a food truck loving kid in your life, like I do, you might want to take a peek, too...

The time we spent working on our book unfolded over a significant portion of my son's life--he is just a toddler after all. He's been to the Vendys every year since birth and has visited countless food trucks. A few months back when the ice cream trucks were beginning to emerge from hibernation he noticed one on our walk and said "Mama! That's a food truck!" What can I say, the kid knows his trucks. He also loves playing in boxes and I know he'd love this sweet, sweet ride. It's sturdy, it's non-toxic, it's made in the USA. For the past two Christmases I bought my nephew a similar cardboard play contraption, one year was a color-your-own spaceship and the next was a color-your-own train, but the graphics and the details, including the serving window on this have those beat. It's supposed to be easy to assemble (and more critically, to disassemble for storage). Check out more on the Famous OTO's Indiegogo page.

If this project gets funded the creator has plans for "a massive list of other trucks I want to make down the line - tacos, noodles, BBQ, churros, hot dogs, hot rods, lemonade, the list goes on and on..." I'm thinking he should get in touch with Kim from The Treats Truck about making a special cardboard version of Kim's truck "Sugar" I know Lil B would be the first in line for that truck!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Perfectly Unexpected Perfect Sandos

The Grand
Before I've been downing those pies, I have been enjoying some quite delicious sandwiches. The savory component to the meal with that beautiful Banoffee pie was Brooklyn Sandwich Society's The Grand, a wonderful sandwich of pan-fried squid, bok choy, and spices hot enough to give you a kick, not so hot that you can't taste anything. And what really got me, besides the toothsome squid slices, was the bread. It had just enough crunch without being too hard, and soaked up the juices without falling apart.

Fritzls Chicken Sandwich
Then there was this sandwich. I'll admit to harboring a love for McDonald's chicken sandwich. I know it's an amalgam of chicken bits blended together. I know it's absolutely terrible for me and since I don't eat a lot of fast food anymore, it sends my stomach into a tizzy. But I love it. And Fritzl's Lunch Box's Fried Chicken Sandwich, which appears to be a quality version of the McDonald's sandwich, is better than the original. More sesame seeds on a fresher bun, crispy lettuce, *actual chicken* patty! It's about the same size and a few more dollars, but makes you swear off the fast food versions forever. No wonder everyone's been raving about it.

Basically, these two places are the tits.

Brooklyn Sandwich Society
184 Dekalb Avenue
Fort Greene
(718) 596-4147

Fritzl's Lunch Box
173 Irving Avenue
(929) 210-9531

Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day!

Memorial Day Pancake Special Close Up
Two years ago I posted about a Memorial Day weekend trip we made up to Maine to see Aunt Alberta and she introduced us to one of her favorite places to grab a bite is Rolly's Diner. It's just the sort of locals only joints that you dream of stumbling on when you're on the road. This Memorial Day, I'm thinking of our nation's many vets and those in our family who served and are serving in the Armed Forces. But today I'm especially thinking of my Great Aunt Alberta who passed away over the weekend. Aunt Alberta was the bride of one of my favorite vets, Uncle Johnny...

Aunt Alberta was 93, she lived a good life and lived it to the fullest, but that doesn't mean I'll miss her any less. I'll miss listening to her stories. She was the last person that really knew my great-grandparents and grandparents. I'll miss her throaty laugh and wicked sense of humor. She was a strong lady and one of a kind. Whenever we were able we'd made a side trip in Maine to Lewiston to see her. That's where my grandmother and her family lived for generations. It's weird to think that we don't have a reason to go to Lewiston any more. Next time we're in Maine, I plan on making the trip any way to celebrate Aunt Alberta in one of her favorite spots whether it's Rolly's Diner or The Chick-A-Dee Restaurant. Or maybe we'll finally try The Italian Bakery, which Aunt Albert proclaimed as "beyond compare." Aunt Alberta, you too, were beyond compare.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Hi, Pie! How Are You?

Banoffee Pie
Brownie likes pie. A lot. Me? I'm kind of on the fence sometimes. I'd rather have ice cream or cookies or ice cream and cookies topped with hot fudge and whipped cream and some sprinkles. But lately I've been eating pie as my lunch dessert. Of course I'm going to tell you guys about it only if it's delicious and holy mother, they have been delicious. This beautiful specimen of pie was had at the Brooklyn Sandwich Society. It's called a Banoffee pie--a English pie made with a layer of bananas, toffee or dulce de leche, and sweet gorgeous whipped cream. I'm in love.

Banana Cream Pie
And obviously I'm banana crazy because the other pie came courtesy of Fritzl's Lunch Box where it was delivered from Pies-n-Thighs. I should not be made aware that this pie with its creamy banana filling and flaky crust and 'Nilla wafers really exists within walking distance of my place. I'm going to pretend its home is in Bushwick, not Williamsburg. The best part is the little pie face I see which almost makes it too adorable to eat. Almost.

Brooklyn Sandwich Society
184 Dekalb Avenue
Fort Greene
(718) 596-4147

Fritzl's Lunch Box
173 Irving Avenue
(929) 210-9531

Monday, May 20, 2013

Dinosaur vs. Hamburger Shake Shack-themed Birthday Cake

Shake Shack Dinosaur birthday cake 
Lil B is very into dinosaurs these days. And of course he's a Shake Shack fan. Naturally, this is his favorite t-shirt. In the run up to his birthday this year, whenever I'd ask him what kind of cake he wanted, he'd tell me "a green cake" so that's what he got...a Shake Shack-inspired green cake...
I'm going to admit here that the dinosaur's cake innards came from a blue box. But stuffed inside that delicious boxed mix yellow cake was homemade dark chocolate pudding (seriously, this is my favorite chocolate pudding EVER). The chocolate pudding filling was in part a tribute to Lil B's current favorite book, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems, a retelling of the classic tale where chocolate pudding factors in prominently. The cake was topped with my own version of grocery store buttercream--you know the sugary part shortening, part butter frosting. Lil B went crazy for it. After announcing it was a "Dinosaur eating a hang-ka-bur, he proceeded to plant his face and teeth into said hang-ka-bur. When he came up for air he said: "Mama, I'm sharing the hang-ka-bur with a dinosaur!"

 How does it stack up to past birthday cakes? You be the judge. Here's the 1st cake and the 2nd. I do think my decorating skills are getting better and better.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Our Last Signing and We're Bringing CoolHaus!!!

Chocolate Chip & Strawberry
So many moons ago, I wandered down to Marlow & Daughters for my first taste of Coolhaus. If you'd told me then that I'd be asking them to come vend outside my book signing in a few years, I would have told you to shut it. And get away from my ice cream. But yes, next week, Coolhaus is bringing their truck to Greenpoint to sell some ice cream sandwiches while (maybe, because she might be having a baby) Alex and I sign some books.

It's all going down Tuesday evening around 7pm. We'll be hanging out at WORD on Franklin Avenue, doing our last signing for quite awhile, possibly ever. Coolhaus is bringing their truck by a little early because I want to eat ice cream to tell passersby why they're here and get them to buy a copy. Of course, all of you are welcome to come join us. It's entirely possible that I'll be hitting up Paulie Gee's after.

WORD Brooklyn
126 Franklin Avenue
(718) 383-0096

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Brownie's a CSA Quitter

Baby Turnips from Katchkie
Last year I expressed some ambivalence about rejoining up with my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture—on the one hand, yay fresh vegetables! But ah, it’s such a commitment to eating said vegetables. At the last minute I got off the waitlist and was back in the CSA fold, but this year I’ve made a firm commitment to not joining. Yes, I’m a CSA quitter…

What I loved about the CSA hasn’t changed. It’s great to get organic vegetables and support local farms. I love seeing the different crops come into season and cooking with new-to-me vegetables. The CSA is all volunteer run and it’s on a sliding scale which enables folks with limited income to still enjoy weekly fresh, organic vegetables but at a much lower cost.

BUT…it’s also a big strain. Over the past few years deciding who’s picking up the veggies has become an unnecessary source of marital strife. Last year I’d conservatively that we missed at least a third of the pick-ups. The excess veggies get donated to a local soup kitchen so at least they don’t go to waste, but when you’re paying for vegetables and not getting them, it feels like you’re just wasting money.

Then there’s the actual eating of the vegetables. You know how it is…summer weekends get booked up fast! Whether it’s an invite to a friend’s barbecue or just kicking back for dinner al fresco at neighborhood joint at the end of the week or one of the many fun summer food events, there’s no shortage of opportunities to eat out to be social. At times I’ve felt like a slave to my vegetables, whether it was the attempting to prolong their shelf lives, balancing eating everything by the time the next delivery arrived, or invariably finding a bag of rotting radishes at the back of the crisper. When your CSA haul turns into liquidy organic compost in your fridge, that also feels like a waste of money.

This year I’ve following what was my back up plan last year before I jumped back into CSA-dom, I’ve made myself a farmer’s market fund. I'm setting aside the money I would have spent on my CSA and spending that money on a weekly basis (or an as-is-convenient basis) at the greenmarket. So I’m still supporting local farmers and getting to know the producers, but I’m getting the veggies I want, when I want them so there’s more of a chance I’ll actually eat them--at least that's the hope. Did you join a CSA this year? Or do you have your own greenmarket fund?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bring It, Summer.

Vinegar Hill House Soft Shell Crab
I know, summer probably starts at the end of next week for most of you, but for me, it starts Thursday night with the hand-in of my paper. And then Googa Mooga happens: bands, beer, bacon, and us. Oh yes, us.

Googa Mooga
Last year's Googa was last year. That Saturday was, let's not think about it. But this year it all kicks off Friday night--when I will be rocking out to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs handing out single serve cups of ice cream for my Big Gay friends. Saturday: eating bacon, fried chicken, burgers, and other assorted fat kid things while trying my hardest to collect all the trading cards. Then Sunday rolls in, where I get to be "the talent"! A few weeks back, we were asked to do something hilarious if we were accepted into Googa Mooga Literary Tent's events. We were accepted. Hilarity commences at 6pm Sunday evening, right after De La Soul wraps up their set. Did I mention I have access to the backstage open bar all day? This may be epic.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Why Yes, Brownie Does Love the New Ronnybrook Soft Serve from BGIC

Coffee Cardamom soft serve from BGICT
Let it be known that I don't get over to Big Gay Ice Cream nearly as often as I'd like. Let it also be known that their new Ronnybrook milk-based soft serve is certifiably awesome...

Last at the very end of March...the Daily News snapped some pics of us for an article they ran about NYC based cookbooks. We were pretty psyched that our book, New York a la Cart: Recipes and Stories from the Big Apple's Best Food Trucks was featured alongside Daniel Humm and Will Guidara's I Love New York: Ingredients and Recipes and Franny’s: Simple, Seasonal, Italian among others. We were also psyched to do our photo shoot at Big Gay Ice Cream's West Village Shop where we could model both our book and some of their goods. Blondie got the Salty Pimp with sprinkles while I went for a swirl of their coffee and cardamom...oh my soft serve, it was delicious. Super creamy. Cardamom can be a strong flavor and this had nice hints of cardamom without being too overpowering. It paired really nicely with their coffee flavor. If you want a full write up of their soft serve from a ice cream expert, check out Serious Eats NY editor, Max Falkowitz's post.

The special soft serve is available at their West Village Shop. Follow Big Gay on Twitter @biggayicecream for details about what flavors are in rotation. I'm dying to try the Yellow Cake and Brownie Batter swirl. DYING. TO. TRY. IT. Hopefully those flavors will be on the docket again soon.

Big Gay Ice Cream Shop
East Village
125 East 7th Street, New York, NY 10009

West Village
61 Grove Street, New York, NY 10014

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Food Truck, Fighter Planes, and Frightening Lines.

Choice Streets
Choice Streets 2012 was one of my favorite events of the year: just the right amount of waiting time on lines, enough food, things to do in between bites, plentiful seating. The only negative ended up being the weather; it was outside and a bit chilly which caused our food to get cold quickly. This year, they moved it from April to May ensuring the weather would cooperate, but this appeared to have angered the food event gods.

Kelvin Slush
I felt this year had plenty of trucks, but something terrible happened: lines. Half hour long lines. Lines on lines on lines. Lines getting jumbled. Granted this general situation possibly came about from missing and non-serving trucks--I'm beginning to suspect that propane tank are the finickiest things. So, you'll have to excuse the small amount of food photos. I was on line most of the time. These were two of multiple Kelvin slushies we enjoyed. They didn't have a line.

Souvlaki GR
Souvlaki GR was ready with little plates of souvlaki and Greek fries with a side of tzatziki. I had multiples of this as well because it's always good. Always.

Mexico Blvd. Flauta
Mexico Blvd. had a good length of a line, but mainly due to them serving up the flauta fresh, like piping hot out of the oil. It was filled with black beans meaning it was healthy! Well, maybe it wasn't, but it was definitely delicious and worthy of two line trips.

Desi Truck
One truck that I see all the time--they like parking around NYU--yet never seem to order from is Desi Truck. They had the benefit of being the first truck seen by guests. I quite enjoyed this sample version of a kati roll filled with tiny cubes of tender potatoes and will consider getting the normal version when out and about.

Rhong Tiam
And I finally got to try Rhong Tiam's food. I'd never stopped by the restaurant nor the cart, so it was nice to get a taste. First up was a bit of their spicy chicken empanada, and then a good half of their burger. The meat was decently spiced adding a nice flavor to the burger, and they managed to get a great burger-to-bun ratio going.

Despite the lines, I still enjoyed last night. Events like this are always fun when the booze is flowing and you have friends in tow.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mmmm...Homemade Sriracha Cheez-its

Sriracha Cheez-its 
Recently I've been on a cheese kick. Longtime readers might ask, "When are you not on a cheese kick, Brownie?" Touché, dear readers, touché. I'll admit cheese pretty frequently makes my top ten list of things I want to consume immediately, but lately I've 1) been treating myself to delicious (and somewhat fancy) cheese and 2) been playing around in the kitchen with cheese. Inspired by our blogging friend, Ms. Molly Yeh, I recently made not one but TWO batches of Sriracha Cheez-its and I can certify that if you love cheesy crackers as much as I do, this is a recipe you'll want to get on, stat!

You can find this easy peasy recipe over on Molly's blog. After making the crackers on two separate occasions here are my tips/modifications...

*I used 8.5 ounces of 3 year aged cheddar

*I love spicy food, so I used at least a tablespoon of Sriracha

*Unless you are making these for a crowd, I recommend dividing your dough and freezing half them defrosting and rolling it out when you are ready. These cheesy crackers are super buttery and delicious. And if you're like me you might find your self control lacking in their presence. The first time I made them, I gorged on cheese crackers. I'm not going to say I didn't gorge the second time I made them as well...but when you make half the amount of crackers, gorging on them is only half as bad.

Lawman-in-law and I started brainstorming what kind of cheese crackers I'll tackle next. I'm thinking Gorgonzola, but there's always I chance I could switch it up and go with Gruyère. What kind of cheese crackers would you love to make/eat?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Our Friends Have Books Coming Out Too!

Ice Cream Soda
Ours isn't the only book hitting the shelves right now. For one thing, my good friend, Rachel, released her book, Ultimate Nachos, last week. And next week, the book from P&H Soda is releasing with a party at powerHouse!

P&H Soda Book
Woooo, pretty
I've met Anton Nocito a few times, most recently when he made me an ice cream soda float at New Amsterdam Market. If you're one who's gotten into the Sodastream craze, you'll totally want to get in on this. The big release party with demos(!) is next Thursday evening at 7pm, RSVP requested here. But, er mah gawd, that's not all! The book from our friends at Robicelli's is officially on pre-order and so is the Mast Brothers Cookbook and--holy baloney!--Cakespy's new book is out next week! Who said publishing is dead?!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Brancaccio's Rigatoni Caprese is Garlic-tacular

Brancaccio's rigatoni caprese
It's no secret that I love the rotisserie chickens from Brancaccio's Food Shop in Kensington. My family subsisted on them while I was writing and revising the book. But lately I've been adding a little something extra to my regular orders and that something extra is the Rigatoni Caprese which is nothing short of garlic-tacular...

Here's the deal, there's ricotta salata, there's chili flakes, there's sliced grape tomatoes, parsley, maybe some Parm(?), and there's enough fresh garlic to make your nonni proud and ward off any nearby vampires. Rigatoni is an under appreciated pasta shape and here Brancaccio makes use of the large, tubular pasta's lines which are like channels of garlicky, cheesy goodness. While this is a relatively new addition to the menu joining the popular bacon mac & cheese, it's fortunately in regular rotation. Add some perfectly sauteed broccoli rabe and dinner is ready for the table.

Brancaccio’s Food Shop
3011 Fort Hamilton Pkwy
Between East 2nd & 3rd Streets
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 435-1997