Friday, May 29, 2009

Clinton Street Baking Company

While my family was in town a couple weekends ago, our top priority seemed to be to stuff our faces with delicious food. One of the best spots we ate at was Clinton Street Baking Company. The Clinton Street Bakery was featured on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. If you haven't watched this Food Network show you should. Chef Bobby Flay finds local favorites from across the country and challenges them to a throw down of their most famous dish. It could be chicken pot pie, matzah ball soup, or blueberry pancakes in Clinton Street Baking Company's case.

Clinton Street Baking Company describes their menu as eclectic American. Chef and owner Neil Kleinberg says, “These are the foods I grew up on, and that I love to eat and love to cook...There’s a little Jewish deli, a little French, a little American takeout, but it’s the best quality of all those places mixed together. It’s the stuff I liked to eat when I came off the line years ago exhausted, sweaty, and starved.”

We went on a Friday morning, thinking this 32-seat restaurant might not be as crowded as I had heard. We were wrong, and waited outside along with a gathering of people for about 45 minutes. Every time people would hear how long the wait was, fellow waiting patrons would assure them that is was worth the wait. They were totally right. Most people would just hop across the street to grab a coffee and come back and wait. My friend told me that on the weekends the restaurant will bring out mini pancakes to eat while people wait.
Once inside and seated my dad started off with a black and white milkshake. He inhaled it, so I assume it was good.
My sister and I both got the brioche french toast with caramelized bananas, roasted pecans and warm maple butter. The toast had a nice buttery crust with a soft center and the bananas were rich and tasty.
My mom got the wild Maine blueberry pancakes with warm maple butter. The pancakes were unusually light and fluffy and loaded with blueberries. The best part about the french toast and pancakes was the maple butter. It doesn't really have a buttery heavy taste like I thought it was, but light and delicious. We also got a couple plates of hash browns to share and we were not disappointed.
I would definitely recommend going if you are in the city and have some time, it is the best breakfast I have had in NYC. The service was also very friendly and they didn't rush you out after you had finished your meal, despite the long line waiting outside. They also serve brunch, lunch, and dinner. Click here for the menus.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rhubarb Tart with Orange Glaze

I am having rhubarb fever. On Tuesday I made this simple rhubarb tart that I would like to share it with you. I found this Gourmet Magazine recipe on It is just a few ingredients and steps. Click here for original recipe.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Plant an Herb Garden!

A three day weekend - like this past Memorial Day holiday, is the perfect time to do a special project. For the past month, I have been talking about planting a herb garden since I missed the one I had last year so much. Finally I made my way down to the Green Market in Union Square and bought: Mexican tarragon, chives, sage, rosemary, lavender, thyme, as well as an heirloom tomato plant and a cayenne pepper plant. I only had enough soil to plant the sage, rosemary, lavender, thyme, and the tomato plant, but I will finish planting the rest next weekend when I buy the basil and couple other herbs I have been eying.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Spotted Pig

The Spotted Pig Hamburger with Shoestring Fries. Picture taken from The Spotted Pig website.
Last week, I went to The Spotted Pig. I didn't bring my camera along, but just wanted to mention it because this Greenwich Village gastropub was amazing. According to wikipedia a gastropub is "a British term for a public house which specializes in high-quality food a step above the more basic 'pub grub'..." I would say that The Spotted Pig is more than a step above a regular pub.

One of the great things about this place is that executive chef April Bloomfield likes to keep it seasonal. I got the halibut with pea puree and sauteed escarole and my friend got braised rabbit with ramps and fiddlehead ferns. We shared a generous portion of shoestring fries which were laced with rosemary and fried garlic slivers. We also got their house beer and a pot of pickles, which unfortunately was just a tiny dish of pickles - not to say they weren't delicious. Click here to take a look at the menu.

What I find wonderful about this place is that it has a casual, laid-back atmosphere, yet the food is on the level of an upscale restaurant. As you walk in, the bar is filled with the neighborhood gang, but when you walk past them you are greeted with bright blue Tartan fabric-covered booths, small stools and quaint tables. There is also an upstairs, but I didn't get a chance to take a look. The wait staff was very friendly and attentive without being pushy. This place is a little pricey, so I would go more often if I could afford to, but for now I will just have to save it for special occasions.

Click here to read an interview with April Bloomfield in The New York Times.

Note: According to Joy of Cooking, Fiddleheads come from the ostrich fern and have a flavor reminiscent of asparagus and artichokes - some say a touch of green beans.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

You Are What You Eat

Midwife/Middle School Teacher's Fridge - San Antonia, TX. Photo from GOOD Magazine.
Click here to see some images of what is in people's refrigerators from GOOD Magazine. It is very interesting - quite the anthropology project. The above image is my ideal refrigerator :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies

A couple people have told me that the chocolate chip cookies at The City Bakery are the best in NYC, in fact some go as far to say they are the best chocolate chip cookie they have ever had. I finally tried one a few months ago. To be honest, I was majorly disappointed and thought, "I can make a better cookie than this." Overall, the cookie had a strange aftertaste and greasy consistency. I couldn't figure out what kind of fat they baked the cookie with. The only props I could give the large cookie was for its great texture - a combination of crunchy edges and a chewy soft center. I wouldn't discourage one from trying the cookie, and I would definitely go back to the bakery for their hot chocolate, which I heard is like "drinking a liquid chocolate bar."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Image from on May 19th, 2009
Check out this cool blog of scanned sandwiches. Everyday a new sandwich is scanned. The images are beautiful and I immediately checked out what sandwich landed on my birthday :) Click here to visit the website.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Strawberry Rhubarb Syrup

So I am obsessed with this Everyday Food recipe for strawberry-rhubarb syrup. Last year I made it multiple times (even freezing some), and now that rhubarb is at the Green Market, I can't help but buy the strawberries shipped all the way from California to make it. If you wait until June (in New York City) you can get both the strawberries and rhubarb locally. This syrup is so simple - just three ingredients, and is delicious on vanilla ice cream, angel food cake, and Belgian waffles. Once the fruit and vegetable break down, the syrup becomes a lovely deep pink with a sweet yet tart flavor.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Rosemary Butter Cookies

Recently, I have been eating a lot of shortbread cookies with my tea or coffee. I love their crumbly, buttery sweet flavor. I decided I should probably try to make my own, which reminded me of these rosemary butter cookies a friend had made around the holidays. They are the perfect combination of sweet and savory. These cookies are a Martha Stewart recipe, which coincidentally for Christmas I had received the Martha Stewart's Cookies book which had the recipe inside. This weekend, I finally took the time to make them, and it is really hard to stop eating them. Literally, I had ten while I was waiting for the next batch to come out of the oven. Although, my cookies didn't turn out as picture-perfect as Martha's, the flavor was not diminished. Click here for original recipe.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I Heart Asparagus

After months of anticipation, the Green Market finally has asparagus! I love asparagus. It has a grassy fresh taste that is delicious steamed, grilled, or sauted. It is high in antioxidants such as vitamins A and C and is also high in fiber and potassium.

Asparagus is a member of the Lily family and grows in sandy soil. The shoots have to be picked daily (depending on the amount of sunlight is can be less often), otherwise the asparagus will grow into a bushy plant if left unattended.

Look for asparagus with firm stalks and tightly closed tips. The thicker the stalks, the older the asparagus plant is. Wrap the stem ends with a moist paper towel and then wrap loosely in plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days for best quality. You can also stand the stalks up in about 2 inches of water in the refrigerator.
A few weeks ago I went to the Food For Thought Film Festival and saw the documentary Asparagus! Stalking The American Life. It tells the story of Ocean County, Michigan's struggle to keep their asparagus industry afloat as the US government creates a Free Trade agreement with Peru in order to reduce drug production. Click here to watch the preview. It is a heartbreaking story, but the quirky community makes it fun to watch at the same time. To visit the movie's website click here.

Last night I made scrambled eggs with asparagus, ramps, and Shiitake mushrooms. It was simple and delicious. It was just a bit of chopping :) I based it off a Gourmet Magazine recipe that called for Morel mushrooms. I couldn't find Morels at the Green Market, so I opted for Shiitake. You can find dried Morels at most grocery stores, which would be a good alternative. Click here for the original Scrambled Eggs with Ramps, Morels, and Asparagus recipe.
For information about asparagus click here.

For more asparagus recipes click here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Homemade Pizza

Ordering pizza is great to do when I am feeling lazy, but by the time the delivery man bikes his way over 10 blocks, the pizza is lukewarm and soggy. So I have recently gotten in the habit of making pizza myself. It is especially easy with House of Pasta pizza dough, which comes with two frozen balls of dough - enough to make two large pizzas. The only catch is you have to remember to thaw the dough overnight in the refrigerator or thaw for 6 hours on the counter. The great thing about pizza is you can make it just how you want. You can control the thickness of the crust, the amount of cheese, and the toppings - plus it is cheaper at home.
Here are the ingredients for my Bell Pepper Pizza:
-1 ball of House of Pasta pizza dough, thawed
-1 can of tomato sauce (I use about half the can)
-2 cloves of garlic, minced
-2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
-2 artichoke hearts marinated in oil, chopped
-Pepperoncini peppers, chopped and stems removed
-Shredded Parmesan cheese, how ever much you like
-Red pepper flakes to taste
-Olive oil

To begin, thaw your dough in advance.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Roll out dough to the thickness desired. Allow your dough to rest if you can't get it to the size you want, and then re-roll.
Place dough on a lightly oiled baking sheet or pizza pan. Oil top of dough, then spoon out tomato sauce in center of dough and add minced garlic and pepper flakes. Use back of a spoon to spread seasoned sauce.
Place bell peppers evenly across dough and add chopped artichoke hearts and pepperoncini peppers in open spaces.
Shred Parmesan and sprinkle over toppings.
Place in oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes (I do mine for 20). Let cool for a minute and then slice. I like to place my slices on a wire rack so the crust stays crisp. I think this pizza is better the next day when I place the slices directly on the middle rack in the oven and warm up for a few minutes. The crust gets even crispier. Enjoy.
Note: Follow the baking temperature and time based on what dough you use. Better yet, make your own dough if you have time.

Click here for a whole wheat pizza dough recipe.