Monday, January 31, 2011

The Best Thing I Had In My Mouth - Harney & Sons Paris Tea

Maybe I haven't eaten very many delicious treats this last week, or maybe Harney & Sons Paris Tea is really just that good.  On a cold, snowy day, I made myself a cup while working at home.  It truly is my favorite black tea, although some of the Kusmi Teas come in a pretty close second.  I first tried this tea over a year ago at this adorable bed and breakfast in Atchison, Kansas called the Glick Mansion.  If you are ever in Atchison, I would highly recommend this place.  It is so old fashioned and quaint, and the innkeeper Chris is just the sweetest.  She also makes a delicious blueberry pastry :)  I wish I had taken more pictures of the place to share.
Back to the tea - Paris tea is a smooth, strong black tea, but has hints of vanilla, and a slightly fruity flavor.  It's one of those teas you really want to sit and enjoy it while you sip it.  The best part about Harney & Sons is they now have a store in Soho (click here to check out their Soho blog).  I stumbled upon it in December.  They have a wide variety of packaged teas as well as all of their best sellers in loose leaf form.  If you don't live in New York, don't worry, they have an extensive website.  The sad thing is, I just keep getting Paris, because it is so good.  I might have to start branching out though ;)
Photo from the Harney & Sons website.  I love their tins - so pretty.
Last year, I made this awesome Hearty Winter Vegetable Soup with Popovers.  Seriously, it is soooo good.  Or click here for my 99 Miles to Philly review.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

DiGiorno Pizza & Cookies

Photo taken from this link.
Seriously, is this for real?  So wrong and so gross.

Huevos Rancheros and Mexican Red Beans

Sigh.  It is hard to begin a post when you are kind of disappointed with the recipe you are about to write about.  I am talking about the Mexican Red Beans from the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook.  There was nothing wrong with the beans, they just weren't much to write home about, and here I am still writing about it.  First off, it pains me to admit, but I think this cookbook needs to be recipe-proofed a bit more.  I have already burned applesauce, granola, and had to bake cupcakes much longer than the suggested time (more on that later), and this recipe didn't specify how much water needed to be added to the beans while cooking.  Anyways, here is the recipe for Mexican Red Beans, which are part of Clinton Street's Huevos Rancheros recipe (see below).

Here are the ingredients for Mexican Red Beans from the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook, serves 2 1/2 to 3 cups:
-2 cups dried red kidney beans
-1/2 cup chopped Spanish onion
-1 teaspoon chopped garlic
-1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
-1 tablespoon chopped fresh jalapeno pepper
-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-Salt and ground black pepper to taste
-1 bay leaf
-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
-1 teaspoon chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
-1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

To begin, soak the beans in 4 cups cold water overnight in the refrigerator.  Drain the beans. *This is where I wonder whether I should have reserved the left over water.

In a large pot, sweat the onion, garlic, bell pepper, and jalapeno in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Once vegetables are softened and onions are translucent, add the bay leaf, oregano, cumin, and chipotle.
Add the beans and water to the pot.  *I guessed and added 4 cups of water, but next time I would add just 3 cups of water.  Bring to a simmer and cook on low for 50 minutes.
Add the cilantro and remaining olive oil and cook for another 10 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Now for the Huevos Rancheros!  Overall this recipe is pretty good, but I kind of wish it was saucier, like I could smother it in tomatillo sauce.  I would probably stick to Rick Bayless's recipe over this one.

Ingredients for Huevos Rancheros from the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook, serves 2:

-1/2 cup Mexican Red Beans
-Two 10-inch flour tortillas
-1/4 cup jalapeno Jack or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
-1 to 2 medium plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
-1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
-1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
-1 tablespoon canola oil or clarified butter
-4 large eggs
-Pinch of salt and ground black pepper
-1/2 cup Guacamole
-1/4 cup Jalapeno Sour Cream

To begin, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Warm up the beans in a skillet or saucepan over low heat.

Sprinkle each tortilla with 2 tablespoons cheese and heat in a skillet or grill (cheese side up) until the cheese starts to melt and the bottom of the tortilla is lightly browned.  The tortilla will start to bubble on the sides.

While the tortilla is warming, combine the chopped tomatoes, sliced onion, and chopped cilantro to make a rustic salsa.

Heat the oil in a 10-inch oven safe skillet over medium-high heat.  Carefully crack 2 eggs (I just did them all 4 together - no problem), making sure there are no shells and the yolks are intact.  Season the eggs with salt and pepper.  Pour the eggs into the pan and fry them until the outsides are crispy and the whites are set.  Place the pan and eggs into the oven in order to cook the eggs on top till the white parts are no longer clear.  Repeat with remaining two eggs (if you did them separately).
To Serve, top each tortilla with 2 eggs.  Add 2 tablespoons of warmed beans, 2 tablespoons of the salsa, 1/4 cup guacamole, and 2 tablespoons Jalapeno Sour Cream.  Serve open-faced.

Click here to check out my first blog post - Chili!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Momofuku Milk Bar

If you are in the mood for dessert, and want something off the beaten path, try Momofuku's Milk Bar.  There are actually two locations, one in the East Village and the other in Midtown.  I have only been to the East Village spot.  It is dimly lit with a chalkboard menu behind the dessert-filled counter, along with tall tables with bar stools that fill the space.  I have stopped in there a couple of times for their compost cookies, but the last time I was there I tried their Old Fashioned Donut Soft Serve.  OMG!  It tasted seriously exactly like an old fashioned doughnut, except cold and soft.  I also love the way they serve it - a small cup overflowing with ice cream and a cute wooden spoon to make you feel like you are in first grade again.  Besides their soft serve and cookies, people rave about the Crack Pie, which my friend described to me as pecan pie, without the pecans, just the sugary filling.  Sounds gross to me, but I am not the norm.
If you don't live in NYC, don't fret.  Milk Bar actually ships their cookies, pies, and cereal milk (yes, it is milk that tastes like corn flakes - whoa) now.  February 9th is the last day they are accepting orders for Valentine's Day.  It's coming up people!  Click here to check out their menu.  Click here to see their shipping menu.  And click here if you want to make your own compost cookies.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Guacamole & Jalapeno Sour Cream

Last week I made turkey chili and huevos rancheros (recipe to come soon), and with those meals came a lot of condiments.  I thought I would share the guacamole and jalapeno sour cream recipes from the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook.  The guacamole was really fresh and limey.  I would definitely add more jalapeno next time though, because it was not hot at all.  As for the jalapeno sour cream, I didn't try it.  I hate sour cream, and while I was making it, I literally dry heaved.  No joke.  I didn't even take photos because I just wanted to get the thing over with!  I was told it was good though.  The sour cream ends up turning into more of a sauce that goes great on many Mexican dishes.

Ingredients for Guacamole from the Clinton St. Baking Company's Cookbook, make 3 cups:
-4 Hass avocados, soft to the touch, but not mushy
-2 tablespoons lime juice
-3 tablespoons red onion, minced
-3 tablespoons fresh jalapeno (including seeds), minced (I would double that if you want it hotter)
-2 teaspoons salt, preferably kosher
-1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
-1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, loosely packed

To begin, halve the avocados lengthwise and remove the pits.  Scoop out the flesh into a bowl.  Reserve two of the pits for later.  Discard the skins.

Add the lime juice to the avocado.  Use a potato masher or a sturdy whisk to mash the avocado with the juice until the mixture is somewhat chunky, but pureed and pulverized in parts.  Mix in the onion, jalapeno, salt, and pepper with a spoon.

Chop the cilantro leaves and add them to the guacamole.  Adjust the seasoning to taste.  Put the avocado pits back in the guacamole for a rustic look.  It will also keep the avocados from browning (that's cool).  The cookbook also says when storing guacamole, pour 1 tablespoon canola or olive oil on top to prevent discoloration.  Seal the bowl with plastic wrap.

Ingredients for Jalapeno Sour Cream from the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook, makes 2 1/2 cups:
-3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, tightly packed
-1/4 cup fresh lime juice
-1 1/2 tablespoons jalapeno (seeds included), minced
-1 clove garlic, finely minced
-2 teaspoons salt
-1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper (I used black pepper - sue me)
-2 cups sour cream

With a blender (I used a food processor, but I halved the recipe) on medium speed, blend together cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno, garlic, salt, and pepper, until well combined.  Turn blender off and add sour cream.  Start the blender on low and as the ingredients gradually come together, you can increase the speed.  Adjust the seasoning to taste.

The jalapeno sour cream will keep for one week to ten days in the fridge.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Best Thing I Had In My Mouth - La Colombe Cappuccino

This weekend I happened to be downtown, so I stopped by my favorite cafe La Colombe and got a cappuccino.  Seriously, they make the best cappuccinos I have ever had.  I paired it with a French Macaron too :)  Click here to read my review about La Colombe.
Later in the day, I ended up watching the devastating KU game (not talking about it) at the Village Pourhouse.  The best part of the game was the tater tots.  They would have gotten first place if I hadn't got a stomach ache later that night.  I guess that is what you get for eating the entire basket.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Turkey Chili

Wednesday night, I made another recipe from the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook.  This time it was turkey chili, a perfect winter time dinner.  Being a vegetarian, I decided to make two versions, one with turkey, and one with only beans.  I just halved the recipe to for each version.  This recipe has a lot of chopping and a lot of spices.  My suggestion is to have everything ready before you start cooking.  Dice all of your vegetables and measure out all of your spices.  This makes the process that much easier, because once you start cooking it goes rather quickly.  Overall, I thought the chili was good.  I definitely will take note of all the spices used, because it had great flavor and a nice heat.  I will probably start using these spices, instead of a packet of chili seasoning from now on.  Also, the crushed tomatoes add a nice thickness, instead of tomato sauce.  And finally, adding the canned beans towards the end allowed the beans to have a bit more of a bite.  I will probably cook my chili down a little longer next time and add some corn to the vegetarian version.  I also made the Clinton Street's guacamole, which I will share soon.  Adding it to the top of the bowl, gives it a limey kick.
Cooking two pots.
Ingredients for Turkey Chili from the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook, serves 8 to 10:
-1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-1  medium Spanish onion, diced
-2 medium carrots, diced
-3 stalks celery, diced
-1 medium red bell pepper, diced
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 pound ground turkey (replace with two 15-ounce can of beans of your choice for vegetarian version)
-1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
-1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
-1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
-1/2 tablespoon cumin
-1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
-2 bay leaves
-2 shakes Tabasco sauce
-1 tablespoon tomato paste
-1/2 tablespoon chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
-3 cups crushed tomatoes
-2 cups chicken stock (replace with vegetable stock for vegetarian version)
-2 cups (15-ounce can) cooked kidney beans in liquid
-1 1/4 tablespoons salt
-1/4 tablespoon ground black pepper

Optional garnishes:
-Shredded cheddar cheese
-Jalapeno sour cream
-Tortilla chips

Okay, get to chopping all the vegetables, this takes a bit of time.  Then, in a large stockpot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil and cook the vegetables and garlic in the oil until tender.  Don't be afraid to caramelize the vegetables a little bit.
Add the ground turkey to the mixture, breaking up the ground meat with a spoon until the turkey is cooked and colors slightly.  Add the herbs and spices, Tabasco, and tomato paste to the mixture and stir until combined.
Roughly chop the peppers from the adobo sauce and mix into the crushed tomatoes, then add both to the pot.  Pour in the chicken stock, bring to a boil, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the kidney beans and their liquid to the stew and cook for 5 minutes or until the beans are warmed through (this is where I added all my beans for vegetarian version).  You can continue cooking if you want a thicker consistency.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove bay leaves and serve warm with your choice of garnishes.
Veggie version.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Apple Cheddar Crostata

I made this Apple Cheddar Crostata for Thanksgiving, and just now got around to sharing.  What I love about it, besides the word "crostata," is how simple and rustic it is.  This is from Martha Stewart Living's Novemeber 2010 issue (of course - what's Thanksgiving without Martha?)  I will admit that I was a bit nervous switching up my classic apple pie for this new dessert with the risky cheddar crust.  In the end I was happy about the change.  The cheddar flavor was definitely there, but not overbearing.  I would give it a try while you are waiting for all the delicious spring fruit to come.

Ingredients for the Apple Cheddar Crostata from Martha Stewart Living, makes one 11-inch crostata:

-1 disk Cheddar Pie Dough (recipe below)
-1 large egg, lightly beaten for egg wash
-Coarse sanding sugar, for sprinkling
-2 tart apples, such as Granny Smith or Gala, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 wedges
-2 Macintosh apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 wedges
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
-1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/4 cup apricot preserves, warmed

Cheddar Pie Dough, makes one disk of dough
-1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
-A couple tablespoons cup ice water
-1/2 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese

Begin by making the cheddar pie dough.  I like to do this the night before.  In a food processor, pulse flour and salt until combined.  Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds.  Drizzle a bit of water in at a time (about 1 tablespoon), and pulse until the mixture just begins to hold together (dough should not be wet or sticky).  Add cheese and pulse until combined.  Shape dough into disk, and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes, up to overnight.  Click here for more tips on perfect pie dough.

Once you dough is chilled, roll out the dough to a 13-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick, on a lightly floured surface.  Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.  I gently roll the dough over my rolling pin to transfer to baking sheet.  Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling.  Toss together the apples, sugar, flour, lemon juice, and cinnamon.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Spread the filling over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border.  Fold edges in to form crust.  Brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with sanding sugar.  Refrigerate until edges are firm, about 30 minutes.
Bake crostata until apples are tender and crust is golden.  Martha suggests 1 hour 20 minutes, but mine was ready in an hour, so watch your time.  Let cool slightly, and then brush apples with apricot preserves.  Serve warm or at room temperature, both are good :)

Click here to see the Roasted Vegetable Lasagna my friend Josh made last year.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New Doughnut Plant Location

Last week, I happened to walk down 23rd Street (between 7th and 8th Avenue) where I saw a new Doughnut Plant sign.  After checking their website, it looks like they are opening at the Chelsea Hotel!  I am curious to see what the space is like, and if there will be more room to sit and actually enjoy your doughnut.

Check out the doughnuts I got the last time I was there with my parents at their Lower East Location.  
Blackberry Jam Doughnut.
Carrot Cake Doughnut with cream cheese filling - My dad's favorite.
Click here to check out my Doughnut Plant review.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dancers Among Food

Dunkin Donuts because it is my guilty pleasure.  Photo taken from Jordan Matter Photography.
Just a quick post about this fun photography project called Dancers Among Us, going on in NYC which includes professional dancers in everyday settings.  Here are a couple food related ones by Jordan Matter.  Click here to see the rest of the gallery, there are some pretty amazing photos.
Ugh the busy Whole Foods.  Photo taken from Jordan Matter Photography.

Taste of Tea

On Sunday I watched the Japanese movie Taste of Tea.  As I watched the lengthy two hours and twenty minute film, I was so grateful that I had made Matcha Iri Genmaicha tea and green tea ice cream to go along with it.  Those were the only things that kept me from turning off the movie.  Don't get me wrong, there were parts of the movie I liked, but it was a little too slow, like is anything going to happen here?  Do people really lie around this much?  Anyways, below is the Green Tea Ice Cream recipe I made from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop.  If you have never had green tea ice cream, you must try it.  It has such an unusual earthy, creamy flavor.  This particular recipe has a surprisingly strong taste the first few bites, but once you got past those, the flavored mellowed and you could really enjoy the incredibly creamy texture.  I really couldn't get enough.

Ingredients for Green Tea Ice Cream from The Perfect Scoop, makes about 1 quart:

-1 cup whole milk
-3/4 cup granulated sugar
-Pinch of salt
-2 cups heavy cream
-4 teaspoons matcha (green tea powder)
-6 large egg yolks
Matcha (green tea powder).  You can find it at your Asian grocery store, or at House of Cha.
To begin, warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan.  Pour the cream into a large bowl and whisk the green tea powder in.  This was much more challenging than I expected.  The powder likes to stay clumpy, so I used a spoon to break the clumps around the side of the bowl.  Don't worry if you still have some clumps, the warm custard will help dissolve the rest.  Place bowl over an ice bath, and place a mesh strainer on top of mixture.
In a separate medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks.  Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape everything back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.  Pour the custard through the strainer and stir into the cream, then whisk it vigorously until the custard is frothy to dissolve the green tea powder.  Stir until cool over the ice bath.

Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight, and then freeze in your ice cream maker according to your manufacturer's instructions.

Matcha Iri Genmaicha is my favorite tea - tastes like popcorn!
Since the Takashimaya sadly closed in NYC (where the Tea Box was located), I would recommend checking out House of Cha in Lawrence, Kansas for your tea needs.  You can order a variety of Chinese and Japanese teas online and they are so sweet when you stop by their shop.

For other drinks, check out my Prometheus Springs review here.