Monday, February 28, 2011

The Best Thing I Had In My Mouth - Joe's Pizza

No words can describe how much I love Joe's Pizza. Anytime I am in the NYU area, I can't help but stop there.  It was my lucky weekend, because I had Joe's Friday and Saturday.  Delicious both times.  I love Joe's, because it is so simple.  Quickly order at the counter, pay $2.75, and grab a stool or stand, sprinkle some pepper flakes, fold pizza (New York style) and eat.  Oh and the pizza?  Thin crust, sweet sweet tomato sauce, and cheese.  Most would look at it and think "nothing special," but until you've had a bite, you don't know what is.  Definitely the best thing I've had in my mouth.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Cow Who Wanted To Be A Hamburger

Last night I watched the 2011 Academy Award-Nominated Animated Short Films at the IFC Center.  One of my favorite films was The Cow Who Wanted To Be A Hamburger by Bill Plympton, which is actually not nominated, but was "Highly Commended."  The full version is not available to watch online, but above is a small taste of the six minute flick.  It is pretty funny and disturbing at the same time.  The IFC Center is playing the shorts today and tomorrow, so you still have a chance to watch it.

Click here to read about A Matter of Loaf And Death, my favorite animated short from last year.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Buttermilk Waffles

If you liked the Clinton St. Baking Company's pancakes I shared with you, then you will probably like these buttermilk waffles too.  The are chewy, fluffy, and have a bit of orange flavor that makes them more special.  Use Clinton Street's pancake recipe (click here for pancake batter recipe), and swap with whole milk for buttermilk, then make the rest of pancake batter as directed.  After the batter is made, lightly fold in 1 more teaspoon of vanilla, 1 teaspoon of orange extract (use finely grated orange zest if you can't find the extract), 1 tablespoon canola oil, and 1 tablespoon clarified butter.  Cook waffles in a ready waffle iron, spraying with nonstick spray between waffles.  Makes 8-10 Belgian, or 14 regular waffles.

To learn how to make clarified butter - Macheesmo has a great tutorial (click here).

Click here to check out my frozen yogurt recipe.  Seriously it is better than Pinkberry's - Yes, it's possible!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

This Cracked Me Up...

Photo from Food Network Humor.
Click here to read an open letter to Guy Fieri.  I totally agree!

Better Vegetable Pot Pie

A couple of years ago I shared my vegetable pot pie recipe here.  After being inspired by my new favorite cooking magazine, Cooks Illustrated, I thought I would share my new and improved recipe.  I kept the filling similar, but added some key ingredients - mushrooms, soy sauce, and tomato paste, which really bring out a more meaty flavor that a vegetable pot pie is missing.  The other big change is the Parmesan crumble that is added to the top of the filling, instead of the puff pastry I usually use.  I have always wanted to my own crust, but after doing all the prep work, who really wants to add homemade pie crust in the mix?  Cooks Illustrated's topping adds great texture, so it is worth the extra 15 minutes.  I didn't take many photos this go around, but pot pie never looks that appetizing in a photograph to me anyway, better I didn't.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Make Your Own Eco Cleaners

Over the past few months, I have been leisurely reading Easy Green Living, an ultimate guide to positive environmental choices in your home, by Renee Loux.  It has really got me thinking of ways I can make positive eco changes in my kitchen.  The first thing I thought would have to go were the paper towels.  It is crazy how many paper towels I use for the smallest cleanup job.  After doing a little research, I purchased Zwipes, a huge stack of microfiber towels.  I read a ton of reviews on Amazon, and decided to purchase these.  So far, I have been really pleased.  The texture of the microfiber towel is great for scooping up crumbs, and scrubbing countertops.  The best part is instead of throwing them away, you just toss them in the laundry.  The Zwipes I purchased came in a 36-pack, so I am always set with enough until my next load of laundry.  I have been paper towel free for the past couple weeks, and haven't missed them once.  The rest of my eco endeavors focused on homemade cleaners, which used everyday products around the house, plus a couple specialty items that you can find at Whole Foods, Bed Bath & Beyond, or your local health food store.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Best Thing I Had In My Mouth - Garlic Paratha

Last night, I made a new Scottish bestie, and we ended up hanging out in Williamsburg and the Lower East Side.  After starting out at Caracas, trying the chocolate at the Mast Brothers Chocolate (who knew cocoa beans could be so good), perusing the Sketchbook Project, sipping fancy beers at Spuyten Duyvil, and cheap PBRs and tacos at Union Pool, we ended up hungry again and thought the best place to go would be the crazy Milon Bangladesh Indian Restaurant.  Seriously this place is like a crazy Indian birthday party.
We ended up splitting a couple of dishes, including the Garlic Paratha, which was the best thing in my mouth all week.  It was super garlicky naan-like bread (we ate it too fast to snap a photo).  I only wished we got more!
Lights on the ceiling, which flickered on and off occasionally.

Click here to learn how to make the hottest hot sauce ever, homemade tortillas and Mexican rice!  Click here to learn how to make a quick tortilla.

Click here to learn more about the delicious candy from Pappabubble.

Click here to read my review on Adrienne's Pizza.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Red Rooster Harlem Review

On Monday night, I finally made my way to Red Rooster Harlem, Marcus Samuelsson's restaurant that I have been talking about for months.  Since I had been waiting so long to go, my expectations had gotten higher and higher, so the pressure was on.  I took my cell phone to take pictures, since it was smaller, and seem less obvious.  It ended up just looking like I was more interested in texting than my date.  I wasn't texting - promise!

Red Rooster is located on 125th and Lenox Avenue, a main cross street in Harlem.  When you enter inside the restaurant you instantly get a warm vibe.  The front half of the restaurant is dedicated to a large copper-top horseshoe-shaped bar with a tall wall of shelving filled with glasses behind it to separate the main dining section.  The restaurant is large and the tables are actually spaced out decently, so you don't have to hear your neighbors conversation (like in a lot of NYC restaurants).  There are some communal tables, which I sat at, but there was enough space between the dinner parties to feel like you were at your own.  Red Rooster exudes a modern, upscale farm house with bentwood chairs, clean wood tables dressed with leather placemats, and tea towels for napkins.  At the very back was the open kitchen, where you could literally see Marcus Samuelsson cooking.  We sat right next to it, and although it was exciting, it might be off-putting to some since you can hear the line cook yell for the orders throughout your meal.  My favorite part was the artwork on the wall, a mix of contemporary artist, a lot from Harlem.  Oh and there was wonderful jazz singer and small band there too.Overall, this is most well decorated restaurant I have been to in a long time.  I liked that there was a definite eclectic vibe, but it didn't feel forced or cheesy.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Best Thing I Had In My Mouth: Bequet Caramel

My mom sent me my favorite Bequet caramels for Valentine's Day.  The chipotle caramels are one of my favorites - incredibly soft, smooth, and spicy.  Click here to get yourself some :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

I am going to Red Rooster tonight!  Best Valentine's gift ever!

Click here to see The Local Food Wheel I got last year.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine Coffee Cup Wrappers

Aren't these cute and perfect for Monday's cup of Joe?  Click here for the downloadable pdf of the Je T'aime coffee cup wrappers from Eat Drink Chic.  Have a lovely and loving V-Day weekend :)

So Long Minimalist Column :(

Photo from Yes! website.
So I am a little late posting this, okay like 2 weeks late, but Mark Bittman's Minimalist Column is coming to a close.  Oh how I will miss it!  Click here to read the article in The New York Times.  And click here for Mark's top 25 Minimalist recipes.

If you are looking to make some Valentine's Day cookies, click here.

Or if you are in the mood for a Mexican dish, click here.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Birthday Cupcakes

Confession: I don't like cupcakes.  In fact, I don't like cake (except for flourless chocolate).  Its not that I find it disgusting, but I just don't know what people get so wound up about.  And yes, I realize that I am living in the cupcake capital of the world, but come on - I could think of million better sweet things.  Like ice cream - hello!  There is really no better way to describe how I feel about a cupcake than in David Radkoff's Half Empty when he says, " there anything more blandly sweet, less evocative of this great city, and more goyish than any other baked good with the possible exception of Eucharist wafers than the cupcake?"  That said, I made a batch last week from the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook for  my mom's birthday, and I let her blow out the candle through Google video chat.  I did nibble on the cake part, but could not bare to eat the frosting after realizing how much butter and shortening was involved.  So baked them, frosted them, and packed them up for friend's school.  So obviously I can't judge whether these cupcakes were that great, but my friend did receive a text from his principal that said, "This is the best cupcake I have ever had!"  I will say that I prefer Martha's buttercream frosting over Clinton Street's, because it was easier to spread more smoothly, but all in all I would make this recipe again :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How To Get A Crisp Crust On Your Homemade Pizza

I like to make pizza a lot.  I have been baking my pizza on baking sheet for a few years, but after reading this blog, I decided to use the baking stone that I had in a cabinet collecting dust.  I had originally bought the stone to bake bread, but still haven't gotten around to doing it (sad - I know)!  Anyways, I rolled out my dough onto a piece of parchment paper and then transferred it to my preheated baking stone.  This was a little cumbersome - actually a lot cumbersome, but the results were well worth it - this pizza had the crispest crust yet.  Click here to read more pizza baking tips on Good Life Eats.  

Click here for my original pizza recipe.

Click here to read my review on La Colombe Cafe.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Best Thing I Had In My Mouth - Patisserie Des Ambassades' Croissant Aux Amandes

I know I keep posting about croissants for the best thing I had in my mouth, but seriously Des Ambassades really knows how to make a good pastry.  And when the cafe is so close to my apartment, the odds are in their favor for impressing me weekly.  This week the almond croissant hit the spot.  The pastry is flaky on the edges, but the center is filled with a softer almond paste covered in toasted almonds, and isn't overly sweet.  If you are in the neighborhood, I definitely recommend you check out Des Ambassades.

To learn how to make croissants aux amandes, click here.  Click here to check out a great quinoa salad I made, or these Southeast Asian-style Spring Rolls.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Root Beer Float & Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Most people know how to make a root beer float, but using homemade vanilla ice cream takes it to another level.  I made these decadent root beer floats (based on the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook recipe) last weekend in celebration of Kansas' 150th birthday.  I used David Lebovitz's Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from his book The Perfect Scoop.  Honestly, I never go crazy for vanilla, I am more of a chocolate girl, but this ice cream is to die for.  Using fresh vanilla bean creates a more rich, complex flavor compared to store-bought vanilla.  See below for the Clinton Street root beer float recipe as well as David Lebovitz's vanilla ice cream recipe.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

DIY Valentine's Day Fruit Stickers

All photos from Twig & Thistle.
I thought this was a clever way to say, "I like you," not to mention a healthier alternative to chocolate ;)  Click here for the free pdf from Twig & Thistle.  Seriously, so cute!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Homemade Granola

This past week I have been happily munching on my homemade granola from the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook.  I am a bit addicted to it, snacking on it a couple times a day when I get a chance.  I love the crunchy-chewy texture and the pop of dried fruit.  That said, this recipe didn't come without some issues.  The first batch I burned, and it wasn't my fault, I swear.  I have an oven thermometer now, because all the disasters that were happening from the cookbook made me crazy.  I needed one anyway since I left my old one in my old oven in my old apartment.  Anyways, my oven is pretty accurate on the temperature, actually 5 degrees cooler than it claims to be, so I know it is not my fault.  Okay, now that that is off my chest.  Anyways, I made a second batch, which was no big deal because this recipe is a cinch to make, and ended up reducing the baking time to 16 minutes instead of the suggested 20-22.  I think I could have baked it a little longer - like a minute if I wanted it a bit crunchier, but I am really glad I didn't because I love the crunchy-chewy texture.  Next time I am planning to replace the cashews with walnuts, and instead of mixed dried fruit I am going to use just dried apples and prunes.  They were my favorite in the mix.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Photo taken from I Am Baker Blog.
OMG.  My jaw is on the floor.  Click here for the heart cake tutorial.  So pretty!

Valentine's Day Gift Ideas

I know that a lot of people hate Valentine's Day with a passion, but I love it!  It is the one day when Cynical Me actually likes to tell people that I like them.  So since it is officially February today, I thought I would create a list of delicious goodies you could give someone special or share with a friend while you are watching Somethings Got To Give.

Lets start with chocolate:

L.A. Burdick has these adorable chocolate mice.  They are just too cute to pass up.  The chocolate hearts and cigars are fun too.
An expensive, but fancy gift of Champagne with Rose Truffles from Vosges would be perfect for the traditional romantic.  Vosges also carries Champagne with Exotic Truffles too.
You can also by the Exotic Candy Bar Library and divide the bars of chocolate among friends.  I love the Woolloomooloo bar :)  Vosges really has an extensive selection of gifts, so be sure to check out their website.


I cannot say enough good things about Bequet Caramels (click here to read my review).  These caramels are to-die-for.  Instead of the traditional chocolate, try the Chipotle Caramels to spice things up, or the Celtic Sea Salt Caramels.  SO GOOD.  Click here to visit the Bequet Confections.
Divan's Turkish Delight.  Okay, so I have never had this candy, but it is so pretty.  I regret not trying any at Borough Market last year.  You can find this brand at Harrods.  Click here to order.
The All Bacon & Chocolate Gift Box from Vosges would an amazing gift for the bacon lover.
There is also this Sir Francis Peanut Brittle that looks like fun.


Momofuku Compost Cookies ship in packs of 6.  Their Cornflake Cookie is pretty good too.  Click here to order.
If you want to get cutesy, try a French macaron.  If only Laduree had a shop in the States, but alas they don't.  Instead try Macaron Cafe.  They deliver nationwide.


Kusmi Sweet Love Tea is one of their most popular teas.  Who can resist their hot pink tins?  The tea is sweet and spicy, and is delicious with some milk and sugar.
Harney & Sons has a Valentine's Tea Blend of chocolate tea with rose buds for the season.
And if you want something to sweeten the tea, try this Four Cheese Honey Flight or the Ames Farm Honey Sampler from Terrain.