Monthly Archives: February 2010

Just a taste

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…

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The Only Pancake Recipe You Will Ever Need

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.

Pancakes
1 1/3 cups flour
2 Tbsp sugar
3 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup milk
1 egg
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…

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What’s good, Cupcake?

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
6 eggs
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.

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John DeLucie is Hungry

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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…
  3. “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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. They are accepting applications.

Also check out John DeLucie’s book, The Hunger.

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Filed under Chefs, New York Restaurants

Mangia!

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.

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We Need a Holiday

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…
Love always,
Lauren E.

On the Menu:
Big Pot of Mussels with rosemary fries
Steak salad
Pumpkin ravioli with a side of green beans with almonds

Sometimes I’m embarrassed when I get a huge steaming plate (i.e. sizzling fajitas) but there is nothing embarrassing about beautiful mussels. Pretty sure I was the envy of everyone in the place.

Hello lovelies…

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.

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Q: How do you keep a Polak in suspense? A:

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

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