I have a post that I’m dying to share but seeing as the dish is a “gift” of sorts, I don’t want to ruin the surprise in case the giftee happens to read this blog. And so, friends, I give you a teaser. Check back tomorrow night for the big reveal…
Monthly Archives: February 2010
Pancakes are my favorite food. Ever. Potato pancakes, flapjacks, scallion pancakes, crepes, Dutch baby… you name it. I love it. But truth be told, I very rarely order plain old pancakes out at a restaurant because they’re usual chewy and giant and gross. They do not compare to The Adirondack Cookbook’s pancake recipe.
Trust me, kids. This is the only pancake recipe you will ever need.
On the menu: Adirondack banana pancakes with caramelized banana topping
Makes 5 skillet-sized pancakes
*Note: you don’t have to add banana to the pancake batter itself. This is my go-to recipe for pancakes with or without the fruit.
1 1/3 cups flour
2 Tbsp sugar
3 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup milk
3 Tbsp melted butter*
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 Tbsp butter
Mix dry ingredients. Blend together milk, butter, and egg. Add liquids to dry mixture. Add banana and mix well. Melt 1 Tbsp of butter in a non-stick skillet, coat the pan. Pour batter in skillet 1/2 cup at a time. When the pancake bubbles, flip and cook for approximately 2 minutes on the other side.
*Let the butter sit for a few minutes after you melt it, otherwise when you add it to the cold milk it will harden. When you do add the warm butter, temper it (i.e. add a tiny bit at a time to the cold milk, constantly stirring). Don’t worry if the butter hardens – it’ll melt inside the pancake anyway, forming delicious little butter pockets. Mmm butter pockets…
Caramelized Banana Topping
3 bananas, sliced
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Saute bananas with sugar over low heat and stir for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until a syrup has formed. Add cinnamon and saute for 2 minutes.
Note: the caramelized topping works with tons of different fruits. I’ve done this with pear, apple, banana. It would work with raspberries (just add a little orange juice to cut the sweetness a bit), blueberries, strawberries… bacon. You heard me. Caramelized bacon. Mmm bacon…
A brilliant thing has been happening to me. I’ve been getting paid to bake. You heard me. PAID. To BAKE. It’s unheard of and I am loving it. This past weekend I baked a batch of cupcakes for the cast of the show that my good friend Becca is working on. She told me I could go nuts – so I thoughts nuts. Peanuts.
On the menu: Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate peanut butter ganache frosting
(this recipe is c/o Cupcakeblog.com – I just added the peanut butter)
Makes 24 cupcakes
5.4 ounces dark chocolate (I used 50% cocoa Lindt bars)
22 tablespoons butter
1 and 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
4 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350. Melt chocolate and butter over a water bath. Add sugar and stir, let mixture cool for 10 minutes. Beat in an electric mixer for 3 minutes. Add one egg at a time, mixing for 30 seconds between each. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and a pinch of salt into the mixture and mix until blended. Scoop into cupcake cups and bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
5 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tbsp butter (room temperature)
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
Chop chocolates and transfer into a heat proof bowl. Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, pour cream over the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute then stir until combined. Add butter and vanilla and stir until combined. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixture and let cool for 10 minutes. Sift powdered sugar into the mixture and beat until combined. Continue to beat with an electric mixer until lighter in color and slightly stiffened. Beat in peanut butter until combined.
I can not say enough about how amazing Cupcakeblog.com is. I aspire to be this woman.
Tuesday night I attended a roundtable discussion at NYU with John DeLucie, co-owner of The Waverly Inn. DeLucie graciously gave up over two hours of his time to sit with a room of about thirty NYU students and alums to talk about how he got into food, his path through the gauntlet of New York City restaurants, and finally what it’s like to own one of the most sought-after restaurants in the country. “Brangelina hasn’t showed up yet,” he quipped. While the DeLucie discussion definitely stirred the “I want to be in food” feelings in me, it also taught me a couple things.
- Restaurants are the only businesses in the world where your boss can spit on you and burn you. And you just have to take it.
- Graydon Carter is another co-owner of The Waverly Inn and because of this, if you’re on the cover of VF, you get a meal at the WI. Sometimes I think my chances are better at being on the cover than getting a rez…
- “Food can change the world.” Apparently this had to do with sustainability, global warming, etcetera, etcetera… I like to believe he meant that if we all ate cupcakes daily we’d be a much happier planet.
- Servers at The Waverly Inn sign confidentiality agreements. The way he described the business actually gave me a greater respect for a bourgie, exclusive, celebs-only kind of place.
- John DeLucie thinks food blogs are dumb and diminish the effect that real food critics actually have on the masses. I thought that was… well… lame.
- Will Smith once asked a server at The Waverly Inn to sit down and join him. While this was frowned upon, let’s recap: homeboy sat down with the Fresh Prince and that is awesome.
- They are accepting applications.
Also check out John DeLucie’s book, The Hunger.
I had a few requests for the recipe for the vodka sauce. The problem? I have no recipe for the vodka sauce. And including phrases like, “Simmer until you can’t taste vodka” or “saute until you think it’s done” just seemed wrong. I conferred with my co-chef (BTB Celeste) and this is what we came up with.
Luxirare-Inspired Penne alla Vodka*
Yields servings for 12
2 large cans of San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
12 oz. of half and half
1 small can of tomato paste (approx. 4 oz.)
Half of a large Spanish onion
enough olive oil to coat the pan and cover onions
2/3 of a head of garlic
red pepper flakes to taste
2/3 cup braseola, cut in lardons (cut about a half inch thick; can substitute prosciutto)
3/4 cup parmesan cheese (plus 1/4 cup to sprinkle before serving)
1/2 cup of vodka
1/4 cup basil, chopped (plus 1/8 cup chiffonade for garnish)
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil over medium heat in large pot. Add onions and saute until soft. Add Braseole and garlic, cook for 10 minutes (be careful not to let the garlic burn). Turn up heat and add tomatoes, salt, red pepper flakes, chopped basil, and tomato paste until the mixture simmers. Return to medium heat and add cheese, half and half, and vodka. Turn heat way down and let simmer until the alcohol has cooked off, about 35 minutes. Salt to taste.
*Dear friends, please keep in mind that this is my rough estimate of the recipe. If the sauce is way too tomato-ey for your taste, add more cream. If it’s way too thick, add a little more liquid. If you’re drunk after one sip, maybe let it cook down longer than I suggested. This is kind of what I love about cooking. Yours won’t be anything like mine. But it’ll be delicious anyway.
Dear New York Magazine,
Thanks for telling me The Mermaid Oyster Bar was open for lunch when it’s not. I had my little heart set on a lobster roll. Seeing the stools still perched on top of the tables at 2PM yesterday was not fun. Not. Fun. But I ate at Jane instead and I got the Big Pot of Mussels and all was right with the world. You are forgiven. This time…
On the Menu:
Big Pot of Mussels with rosemary fries
Pumpkin ravioli with a side of green beans with almonds
This ravioli was delicious. The filling wasn’t sweet at all, but almost a little nutty with a brown butter sauce that was perfectly sweet but not overbearing. Dear Kerri has a serious hatred for anything cheesy and buttery (yeah… I don’t really get it either) but she loved this dish. Good, simple food. I will take it.
A “salad” topped with fried potatoes and goat cheese? I will take that, as well.
Verdict: While I am still jonesing for a lobster roll and oysters from The Mermaid Oyster Bar, Jane did not disappoint for a President’s Day brunch. I left fat and happy. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.
I have an undeniable sweet tooth. Even most of my savory dishes feature sweet onions or carrots or other vegetables and roots with natural sugars. I never knew why I was so fixated on sugar. And then I read this article. And it all makes sense.
“We won’t deny that the Poles are fond of the odd tipple (although beer has easily superseded vodka in popularity since 1989). But any foreigner who has been around in this country for more than a few days will spot another national trait – Poles love cakes.” Oh. Duh.
Apparently yesterday was Fat Thursday, a day in which Polish people gorge themselves on sweets and fatty, fried food in anticipation of abstaining during Lent. I’ll just use that as my excuse for the pain au chocolat at breakfast.
A little history lesson for you, kids. If you didn’t celebrate yesterday, you have a free pass for today.
photo of Polish paczki c/o Wikipedia.org
Today was Snowapalooza or Snowmageddon or Snowtastrophe or whatever. I was sent home from work at 11AM and immediately hurried home and into the coziest sweater I have. Dinner was whatever I had in the pantry and you can’t go wrong with cheesy pasta on a cold day.
On the menu:
Serves 2 (or if you’re a large man, haven’t eaten all day, or… me… it serves 1)
3 Tbsp. butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup sweet onions, chopped (I love onions, but you can use less if you so choose)
2/3 cup half and half
1/4 cup parmesan, finely grated (don’t even think of reaching for the Kraft)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups penne pasta
Cook penne according to the directions on the package. In the meantime, melt the butter over medium heat. Add garlic and onions and saute until the onions are slightly carmelized but watch the garlic closely so it doesn’t burn. As soon as the onions are carmelized, add the half and half, parmesan, and basil. Reduce heat to low and let the sauce simmer for about 15 minutes. When the sauce has thickened enough to coat a wooden spoon, add salt and pepper to taste.
Last week I went to Celeste’s swank new apartment to catch up over carbs and wine, cause that’s how we do. Somehow our meetings always revolve around creamy pasta. And that’s alright with me.
On the menu:
Penne alla vodka
Fleur de sel brownies
We searched all the usual sites for recipes but ultimately came back to one of our favorite places ever, Luxirare. No one knows who Luxirare is. As far as we know, it’s a she. And she makes unbelievable creations. Just take a peek and you’ll be hooked. And her penne alla vodka looked incredible so while she doesn’t provide a recipe, we used the ingredients and our intuition as our guide.
That’s Celeste. Celeste works for Behind the Burner, and even though she claims to not really enjoy cooking, she looks mighty happy right here. We ate more sauce from the pot than we did over pasta. Ain’t no shame.
Parmesan cheese, braseole (an air dried Italian meat, less salty than a pancetta but totally holds its own in this dish), fresh basil, half and half, vodka, garlic, San Marzano tomatoes, and a sprinkling of chopped onions. How can something so simple be so unrelentingly delicious? Who cares.
Sometimes the oven stops working and you have to bake brownies in the toaster oven. And then sometimes they come out like batter in the middle and crispy on the outside and you eat them anyway because you are a little drunk and they are goooo-ood.
We made these particular brownies with a basic brownie recipe and upped the amount of salt to a teaspoon and a half of fleur de sel, also sprinkling some on top. The combination of sweet but bitter dark chocolate and the salt is perfect.
Warning: this meal is not low calorie. In fact, you may have just gained a couple pounds reading this post. I’m not really that sorry about it.
When I first met my friends who grew up in Seattle, they talked about it like you might describe a long lost love. No city is as amazing, beautiful, intelligent, desired, as this city. Flawless, one might say. I didn’t believe it. In fact, I even promised them I’d hate it just to spite them. I ate my words. And then I ate everything in sight.
Seattle is a foodie’s dream. Locally grown, locally prepared, locally admired. They are proud of their food sources, their culinary stars, and their seafood (mention how much you like Atlantic salmon and you can expect to get the stink eye), and there are restaurants around every single corner. I was only in town for four days but I had one thing on my mind: eating. Below, some highlights.
Serious Pie Truth be told… this is what our leftovers looked like. I was so ravenous by the time we sat down in Tom Douglas’s dark little pizza shop, I inhaled those suckers. Serious Pie does a Happy Hour from 3-5 PM Monday through Friday where each of their famous little pies is only $5. Madeline and I ordered 4 between the two of us and we managed to save a few pieces to take home.
On the menu: Yukon gold, rosemary, olive oil
Guanciale, soft egg, dandelion greens
Roasted chanterelles, truffle cheese
Penn cove clams, house pancetta, lemon thyme
Verdict: DELICIOUS. This place was on my radar because the truffle cheese pizza was featured on an episode of Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” but truth be told, the guanciale, egg, and dandelion greens blew everything else out of the water. The crust was delicate and salty, the perfect vehicle for the smooth egg, spicy greens, and shaved parmesan cheese on top (I think it was parmesan… whatever it was, it was like little slivers of heaven). This place is a perfect lunch spot, and if you’re fortunate enough to make it to happy hour, you can sample it all.
Dahlia Bakery Another spot I neglected to photograph on site. So help me God, you walk into this tiny shop, also owned by Serious Pie’s Tom Douglas, and the smell of donuts takes up every inch of available brain space.
On the menu: Cinnamon sugar donuts with vanilla mascarpone and apple butter dip
Coconut cream pie bites
Verdict: HOLY HELL. I’m a donut snob. “Is this the best donut you’ve ever had?” Madeline asked. “It’s the best yeast donut I’ve ever had,” I answered. What a tool.
Honestly, though. Crackly on the outside, sweet, doughy perfection on the inside. One word of warning: you have to eat these immediately. Not only are they better hot, good luck making it home with these suckers in the car. The coconut cream pie bites were tasty, but the donuts take the cake. Pun intended.
Red Hook Brewery As much as I love a good meal, I also love a good adult beverage. And no, Dad, I am not an alcoholic. Red Hook gives a $1 tour which is essentially listening to the history of the company while sampling their delicious brews. 5 tiny beers for a dollar? Yes, please.
On the menu: Mud Slinger Spring Ale
Slim Chance (Red Hook’s light beer)
Long Hammer IPA (my personal favorite)
Black Hook Porter
Red Hook ESB Original Ale
Verdict: SICK. Not only do I love this beer (all 5 incantations), the food at the brewery’s restaurant was delicious. Because every minute of every day was filled with eating, my party opted to snack on appetizers instead of gorging on full meals but the burgers that sailed by almost made me forget that I had just eaten a full brunch. We got a plate of the nachos and a bowl of the clams sauteed in butter and red and green peppers. Thank God I had a good food base in my stomach before hitting the tour. Maybe I was buzzin’ by the time the tour was over. Maybe.
Enjoying a Nitro, one of the beers Red Hook serves only at the brewery. This wasn’t carbonated, and the waiter explained something about not being able to put it in a keg… or something… because of the gases… I don’t know, I was drunk.
Bottom line: I gained six pounds between when I landed in Seattle on Thursday and when I departed on Sunday. In my book? Success.