December 29, 2009

News Flash: Home Cooked Food Tastes Good

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A typical meal in my household means 8 dishes for 3 people.

I've never been particularly picky in my ethnic dining choices, especially since I love variety. But whenever someone asks if I have preferences, I usually say "no Chinese or Mexican". Mexican, because I'm from Texas and I embrace Tex-Mex, in spite of all the naysayers who crave "authentic" Mexican food. I've been unfazed by most of the Mexican renditions in NYC which for some reason boast either fully Mexican or SF/Northern Cali-Mex food. Chinese, because I have an amazing cook of a mother whose skills I never fully appreciated until I left the nest and started craving dishes that I'm not sure had names in any language.

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Egg-topped Ramen for breakfast with Pork Belly and Asparagus dishes. Gotta love my parents.

"Real" Chinese food, AKA: Stuff-Chinese-People-Actually-Eat-at-Home, really isn't the cesspools of grease that most Chinese-American cuisine presents. Therein lies the difference between Chinese food and Chinese-American food: Who the audience is. Some restaurants have menus that have been translated into English for the most part, but will either offer a Chinese only menu to select clientele or at least have a little untranslated box housing the simultaneously more exotic and more traditional dishes. Yesss, special boxes! Except I can't read Chinese anymore. D'oh.

My parents recently visited me this Christmas weekend since it was the first time I didn't return home for the holidays. I'm sure it won't be the last time work starts to take on a bigger role in my life, and plus it was a good lure to get them to come up and re-stock my frid- I mean, spend time with me. Happily. Eating.

Let me take you on a food journey:

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On Christmas Day, we went down to Chinatown and got ingredients to make Pork, Chive, and Shrimp dumplings. We didn't always make them this way, but my mom started adding shrimp in because she claims it adds moisture, and who am I to argue with more meat?

It's tradition to make the dough from scratch, and plus the sweat [and tears] are natural seasoning. I kid, I kid. Chinese food is safe!

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We even had this as a sort of Chinese Buche de Noel. Granted, this wasn't homemade, but I couldn't resist showing off the prettiness of this cake roll. Even though I'm not a huge fan of the single flavor ones, my inner five-year old couldn't resist this one's nutty exterior and fun colors.

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Shrimp sauteed with onions in a mystery tomato sauce. I was too busy watching Food Network to see what she put in it. Hello, irony. We meet again.

In the background are pig trotters and pig snout. Did I mention we like meat, especially pork? I don't think I've ever craved chicken, but I'm always up for some piggy goodness. It's the Chinese White Meat.

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Brussels Sprouts with Pork Belly in a brown sauce reduction. I wasn't sure where she was going with this, but my skepticism melted as soon as I tasted it. After all, there always has to be some sort of greenery in a meal, even if it is mixed in with meat. That's why pure vegetarianism, besides in the monasteries, is relatively novel in Chinese cuisine.

So, okay. I eat Real Stuff. Good for me, right?

Except no, not really. I stave off any hankering for the food until I can eat my mom's cooking, which happens,oh, about twice a year. I admit to cheating with the occasional Xiao Long Bao Zi or my favorite buns from Mei Li Wah, but for the most part, I've had a solid few decades of Chinese food versus not nearly enough of every other food in this world.

So I'll continue to eat hummus, sushi, pasta, and mountains of cupcake for the next few months until we meet again. After all, I've been in an unusual sugar low after all this healthy Chinese food. Gotta make up for it!*

*Already well on my way with the slice of cake next to my laptop.

December 16, 2009

Happy National Cupcake Day!

















I'm honing down my ESP skills by having made these little mini Chocolate Marshmallow Candy Cane cupcakes yesterday, just in time for the U.S. National Cupcake Day today (Dec 15)!

They were for my last final of the semester, as part of a little holiday party for my Drawing II studio class. I wanted to do something festive, and also honor my unofficial status as Cupcake Girl. Not to mention, after turning in three 15-pg papers, I was ready to relax and bake a bit. I hadn't baked in 2 months, which in my cupcake/sugar-crazed life is incomprehensible.














(Left: Professor J. Torreano, sitting in front of my trio of Crayola crayon portraits; Right: My mini cupcakes)


Cupcakes, crackers, cheese, and plenty of wine, all in fine company. Not a bad way to bid the semester farewell.

So, Happy National Cupcake Day!

*salutes with a mini cupcake*

November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!






















Turkey cupcake from Hello Cupcake's website.

I'll take one of those adorable bird cupcakes over pie for Thanksgiving dinner any day. Because as much as I enjoy pie, there's just a cuteness and creativity level that cupcakes bring to the table. Then again, perhaps I'm just biased. ;)

My flight home is later this afternoon, so I'll be MIA for a bit... although I generally tend to be anyways I suppose. Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!

November 10, 2009

Greek food and wine with Michael Psilakis






















I'm still recovering from the flu, so forgive me for the lapse in posts. Of course, I haven't been idle either, having nibbled on goodies from Cook.Eat.Drink.Live this past weekend, and The 12th Annual Chocolate Show the week before. With that in mind, I've chosen to focus on a food event I attended tonight that really encapsulates what food is meant to do: be accessible.

What do I mean by that? I mean that despite differing backgrounds, food can be a unifying medium that we use to communicate culture, emotions and memories.

Tonight's event was a cooking demonstration with Chef Michael Psilakis, owner of the popular Greek restaurant Anthos in NYC. Each attendee received a copy of his new cookbook, How to Roast a Lamb. Chef Psilakis regaled us with personal stories and down-to-earth home cooking tips while he prepped each dish of our four-course dinner. We, ever the attentive students, listened riveted while we sipped at wine pairings provided by the Astor Center. At $85, the class seemed like an incredible deal. It was all that and more.

The menu is reposted below:


* Roasted Octopus with Salami, Apple and Anchovy Vinaigrette

* Sheep’s Milk Ricotta Dumpling with Spicy Lamb Sausage, Spinach, Sun-Dried Tomato, Pine Nuts and Feta


* Braised Lamb Shank with Orzo and Root Vegetables


* Yogurt with Quince Spoon Fruit and Jordan Almonds


( Photos can be found at my Flickr set here )

There is a reason why Greek cuisine is the healthiest out of the Mediterranean diet, already known as one of the healthiest diets in the world. Each well-proportioned dish had so much depth from all of the bountiful ingredients. Not to mention,seeing the preparation, smelling the food cooking, and hearing the narration from the chef added many more sensual dimensions to the overall pleasure of the event than taste alone could provide.

I think what made this event even more accessible to me is that I can relate with other children of immigrant families who consider food a pervasive element of the culture. To this day, my mom still cooks two to three meals a day, usually from scratch, and never measures out her ingredients. It's in their bones. So as much as I enjoyed the meal, the meeting with Chef Psilakis, and the personalized cookbook, I think what I got most out of the experience is a desire to go reconnect with my mom.

I'll end this post with the message that Chef Psilakis wrote in my copy of his cookbook, which I'm sure will become my new supply of bedtime stories:

"To a lifetime of extraordinary meals and the memories spawned from them"

October 6, 2009

A Page of Childhood Nostalgia

Coloring

I went to the Bay area last weekend, where old school diners still offer the often overlooked ameneties such as crayons and coloring pages. I've never really found this easy time-waster in NYC, though perhaps it's because they think I'm about triple the age of the usual requester. Ageism at its worst!

It's true though. Twenty something odd years later, and I can still appreciate this simple joy. There's just something therapeutic about the process creating a piece of art within the confines of four colors and a few clear black lines. I briefly entertained the thought of doing a fun social experiment where I show up in an evening gown at a high end restaurant and ask in a serious tone if I could, pretty please, have a coloring page of a unicorn and three to four crayons. Crayola, preferably.

September 29, 2009

Bye Bye, Summer


Originally uploaded by Melissa Eats, Shoots, and Leaves

One last Mister Softee cone as a salute to my first summer in NYC. The Mister Softee trucks don't play music in Manhattan, but I notice their gradual silent disappearance as the seasons shift. Until we meet again next year, funfetti!

It's finally time to break out the scarves and other fall gear. But on the plus side, this marks the beginning of hot cocoa weather.

September 27, 2009

False Advertising: When "free" means $20

Today, I headed to The Sunburnt Cow hoping to indulge in the enticing offer shown below. Ultimately, my most fruitful takeaway was an example of a food PR event went awry.















Know your limits. How many places can really put out free food all day long? Sunburnt Cow, you overshot your limits this time. Most people probably approached this event with wary, afraid that it was too good to be true. And oh, it was.

Use the word "free" with caution. This is New York City. Dog whistles don't even work as well as this honing signal.

Deliver what you promise. The advertisement of "Free Food All Day Long!" turned out not to be free, and the food ran out completely by 5pm.

Communicate a set standard of rules. If I can see the poster with the word "Free" mentioned twice, yet you tell me to fork over $20 for unlimited food and drinks, I have a right to call you out on it. After asking the manager and finding out that no drinks and a plate of food would be $10, I hardly consider that "free food all day long".

You are only human, but so are we. The goal of putting on a food event is to get your name out there and attract more customers, after all. After the mishap with the false advertising, receiving disdained looks from the staff is just adding insult on top of injury. I forgive you for wanting to profit, for having slight miscommunication, for even running short on food. I don't forgive you for shunning a potential future customer.

The worst part is that this happens quite often, usually at small venues due to disorganization. Word to the wise, only trust what a restaurant is willing to put on their website or spread out to the public. The point is not to avoid celebrations, but to just execute it well. The food was enjoyable, for the most part. I just left with a bitter taste in my mouth from the overall experience. That's fine, a cupcake will wash it all down.

Cupcakes Take the Cake Bake Sale for Cancer Care

Fact of the day: Did you know that indulging in cupcakes can benefit children?



















Last Saturday, September 19, was the Cupcakes Take the Cake annual bake sale at the Brooklyn Flea. All the proceeds go towards Cancer Care for Kids as part of their Cupcakes for a Cause campaign. You can read more about it at Cupcakes Take the Cake's post, and you can still help us reach our goal of $1000 by donating.

I also had a great day at the Brooklyn Flea. It's a really cool flea market with some of the friendliest vendors around. You'll find something unique and also get to sample lots of great food. Personally, I enjoyed a fresh personal sized wood oven pizza at Pizza Moto and refreshing cups of Cantaloupe shaved ice courtesy of the guys over at Peoples Pops.

We had cupcakes by home bakers, some were donated by Baked, and of course Nichelle and I both baked too. I baked banana cupcakes with a creamy peanut butter frosting, some with a dallop of chocolate frosting in the center.


















Thanks to everyone who came out!

September 13, 2009

Bake-a-thon

Table goodies

My day went something like this:

[ 11 a.m. ] fall out of bed, literally.
[ 12 p.m. ] polish off leftover Honey Yogurt Pancake batter and a Peach Muffin/Cupcake.
[ 2 p.m. ] bake Apple Crisp in mini pie tins.
[ 3 p.m. ] battle the lines at Manhattan's lone Trader Joe's. Leggo my butter!
[ 5 p.m. ] bake three batches of Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies.
[ 7:30 p.m. ] bake a pan full of rich Double Chocolate Brownies.
[ 9 p.m. ] gorge on various types of meat (pork belly, chorizo, burger) and strawberry sangria to refresh myself from a day of sugar.
[ 12 a.m. ] groan about being in a sugar coma, then indulge in frozen yogurt anyways.

I felt like I had completed a marathon by the end of the day. I don't think I'll be baking for a long time....or I'll at least wait until next week.

More photos can be found here, including yogurt pops and the brownie.

September 7, 2009

Chocolate Brownie Cups Recipe


I don't get in the mood for brownies very often. I'm a person who likes chocolate, but would rather have it play a supporting role, not be the entire show, if you catch my drift. Cupcakes appeal to me because they're individually sized portions of a dessert that can be as simple or complex as you want them to be. Mix-ins in brownies, on the other hand, enhance the brownies but don't substantially change them. At least, this is my reasoning. Feel free to disagree.

In any case, I decided to whip out one of my dessert cookbooks, the Hershey's Classic Recipes book. Under the Irresistible Brownies section, there's a recipe for "Best Brownies". Well, I was sold.

Too bad they were a disaster. [ sad face ]

I suppose it's my fault for not having a proper brownie pan, so I baked them in cupcake tins instead. I tend to do that with a lot of recipes, but it's never been a huge issue. I was suspicious at the light brown, barely chocolately color and taste. It reminded me more of dry cake than brownies, so I decided to do a little kitchen magic of my own.

So, I present to you my totally non-scientific brownie recipe (makes 6 brownie cups):

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick) softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 cup melted chocolate
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • dash of salt

Heat the oven to 350F. Stir the butter, sugar, and vanilla together. Beat the eggs separately and add that into the mixture. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in another bowl. Add that into the wet mixture a half at a time. Blend until the batter is smooth. Bake for 20 minutes.

I think next time I'll cut down on the baking time because I burnt mine after baking for 23 minutes. I also prefer a dusting of confectioner's sugar instead of the chocolate frosting, but you can easily whip up a batch of your own.

Happy baking~

Momofuku Bo Ssam

Last night, I completed my sojourn to the whole Momofuku empire by indulging in the Bo Ssam. Let's break that down into an equation:

Bo Ssam [n/v*]: An entire pork butt + dozen oysters + Kimchi/scallions/dipping sauces + bowl of rice + bibb lettuce = $200 total

The glorious moment can only be summed up by a single photo:













See the entire set at my Flickr here.

We were only a party of 4, though it's recommended that you come with 6-8. Still, there wasn't THAT much meat left over so maybe you just need to come with hearty carnivores. The meat was extremely tender, juicy, and fatty, with a slightly sweet glaze on the outside. I was tempted to tear the meat off with my hands, but I am a lady. A lady who picked up the huge pork bone butt and proceeded to gnaw on it for the remainder of the night.













Oh, and I should mention that David Chang was on the other side of our communal table entertaining a fashion crew. I suppose a girl sucking on a giant pork butt bone is enough to catch anyone's attention, but honestly I was too fixated on my food. Good food enhances your dining experience. Great food will steal your undivided attention.

The Momofuku experience couldn't be completed without trying the Milk Bar's new strawberry cake. It's a three-layer slice of tristar strawberries, sweet corn crumble, and corn parfait.














My favorite still remains the Banana cake, but the Strawberry cake isn't a bad runner up.

We wrapped up the night with some artisinal drinks at Angel's Share. I'm celebrating Labor Day now with the remains of the pork butt, and I couldn't be happier.


* I've deemed this capable of being a verb.

September 5, 2009

A Day at Brighton Beach

There's no better way to round off the end of summer than to take one last visit to the beach. In this instance, we forsook the flashy lights and semi-dilapidated rides of Coney Island for a small exploration around the Russian community at Brighton Beach.

I tagged along as part of a larger group, casually spurred by an interest in the area and guided by our trusty iphones/blackberries. We stopped at the beach first for a dip in the water. You can find photos of that elsewhere, but it just looks like a regular beach. Sand, water, and people wearing less clothing than they probably should. You can form your own mental image.

Our first stop was at M.I. International Foods, which had a huge selection of European goods. We sampled a Russian babka-type chocolate cake with a fluffier, lighter, but also blander taste, some salted ham, and this Tarragon drink that tasted like fizzy licorice.















We also split a $5 bag of chad roe, which is the egg sac of well, chad. It's the first step before caviar, apparently. It was probably the saltiest thing I've put into my mouth, ever. Maybe I'm not cut out for caviar after all.

At our next stop, I tried butterfish and a Russian "dessert" (?) called Karum. It's like a block of cream cheese covered in chocolate. I don't think your life will be incomplete if you miss out on this experience.

Dinner will speak for itself in pictures:
















The night ended with a few rounds of Bat Hunter on a playground, followed by some long chats and drinks on the beach. Not a bad way to spend a day away from the city.

August 28, 2009

My cupcake interview with Amys Bread

I did this interview last week. For those that got to nibble on these cupcakes, I encourage you to go to any of their locations and get one for yourself to enjoy them in their freshly baked glory.

And take me with you. :')


















Click here to see the post at Cupcakes Take the Cake

August 27, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me

I feel very loved, and am so grateful for the life I lead right now.

Thanks, everyone. <3

(psst, it's actually August 26)

August 17, 2009

Sunday is for good eating

As is every day!

I had one of those mornings where you just drift comfortably out of Dreamland instead of being rudely wakened by(in my case, seven) alarm clocks. Breakfast was one of the sweet corn with honey frosting cupcakes that I baked yesterday before the Yelp beach party. A short stroll later brought me to Third Rail Coffee, where I had coffee with a friend while attempting to keep myself gracefully composed after being out in the glaring heat. Attempted, I say! The hot coffee didn't help, but it was a good roast at least.

That afternoon, Rachel, whom I work under for Cupcakes Take the Cake, came over to my place to bake cupcakes. We decided on a chocolate cupcake with lemon buttercream from one of my cookbooks, I heart Sugar. I used the parchment paper cupcake liner idea that Martha Stewart uses here. They are more cost efficient, but the folds don't stick together well.

She caught a picture of my mini baking cups that I brought back from Houston. Aren't they adorable? I'll have to figure out the right baking temperature for these, as they certainly don't fall under the same category as the regular tins. We learned the hard way. *sage nod*

We had a bit of trouble with the cupcakes falling flat. I need to find the correct baking time and all purpose flour to baking powder ratio for the self-rising flour substitution. This is the first time it's happened to me, so I'll have to recreate this a few times before I get it right. I also think the heat had to do with the buttercream not solidifying well. But we made do! See, they still came out cute:




















She was also kind enough to bring me back goodies from her trip upstate. The tart (?) is from Perfect Endings Bakery. A faintly tart jam filling sandwiched between two flaky crusts. Delicious! Dangerously delicious.




















Cupcake! Cookie! CUPCAKE COOKIE!! My heart jumps for joy at the marriage of these two wonderful worlds.

At night, I went to a burlesque dance show at Le Poisson Rouge, which was quite entertaining. I was also glad to get some more solids into my body that didn't come in cupcake form, as much as I love them.

Now, what can Monday possibly bring...

Chocolate Butterfly Cakes

Reproduced from I [heart] Sugar by LOVE FOOD.

Makes 12


Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 1/4 cups self rising flour (we used all purpose + 1 tsp baking powder)
2 eggs
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 oz/25g semisweet chocolate, melted (we used much more than this)
confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Steps:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Mix the butter, superfine sugar, flour, eggs, and cocoa in a large bowl until smooth.
  3. Beat melted chocolate into the batter.
  4. Fill cupcake liners with the mixture until 3/4 full.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes or until springy to the touch.


Lemon Buttercream

6 tbsp butter, softened
1 1/3 confectioners' sugar, sifted
grated rind of 1/2 lemon (we were missing this)
1 tbsp lemon juice

Steps:
  1. Beat the softened butter until fluffy.
  2. Gradually add in confectioners' sugar.
  3. Beat in lemon rind and lemon juice. Mix well.
  4. Finally, cut the tops off the cakes with a serrated knife. Cut each top in half. Spread the buttercream over the cake surface and then push the two cut top pieces in to form butterfly wings. Done!

We missed this last step because the parchment paper liners were too high, but they turned out special anyways. See Rachel's post for more photos. Give this recipe a try and tell us what your experience is like!

August 15, 2009

Momofuku Ko

A few things to cross off my list of things to do before I die:

  • Eat Foie Gras
  • Eat Caviar
  • Love a dish so much I forget cucumber is in it

My full review is here.

August 13, 2009

Weekend Re-cap, Take III

I'm too tired to make an entire post to play catch-up, so I will just throw links out.

Told you I like cupcakes, but this is how much.

Friday I had Momofuku's Fried Chicken Dinner at 11:30pm. The photos will do all the talking for me:















Saturday I made Honey Yogurt Pancakes, which I'll post pictures and the recipe for here soon.

Sunday was mostly devoted to the Cupcakes and Delicious Sandwich meetup. It was great meeting everyone, and there were so many yummy cupcakes! Photos are up here on my Flickr.

Monday I moved into my new room. Pretty much only two things tire me out: 15+ hr plane rides, and moving, especially by myself from 5pm-1am. I'm not made for heavy lifting. Baking, yes, physical strength, noooo.

Tonight I saw some interesting world records being broken. Cupcake Kebab, anyone? No? Pickled herring, spelled and then eaten? Flying Tortillas?

That is all for tonight. Will edit later.

August 7, 2009

Triple Food Fail

Tuesdays are my Long Days. You know how everyone has those days that are just a little more jam-packed than others? Mine's Tuesday. I work a half day at one internship, then move onto another one until 8pm. I enjoy both, but I'm a little dead to the world when I get home.

But sometimes, all I want is (surprise, surprise) good food to pick me up.

This particular Tuesday, I had been looking forward to Momofuku Milk Bar. I heard about the new soft serve flavors during my Texas vacation and was dying to try them. I had my heart set on it, so it was all I could do to stop myself from running and skipping to Momofuku.

BUT THEN I SAW BUTTS. ON CHAIRS.

And I knew something was up.


Here's the deal, Momofuku milk bar is standing room only. Chairs are a bad omen. What does that mean for me? It means private event, which means no Momofuku for Melissa. My crushed look must have attracted the attention of a worker near the door, who kindly placated us dejected folks with some of the day's leftover cookies.

I stood blankly at the corner of 2nd ave and 13th street, watching the people go in and out of Momofuku Ssam. I experienced that moment where I was so set on something that I didn't even bother with a back-up plan. At an utter loss, my friend and I decided to check out a new ramen place near St. Mark's, but then changed directions and headed to Otafuku, the little hole in the wall that sells takoyaki (Japanese street eats: delicious octopus balls).

BUT THEN THERE WAS SILENCE IN THE STORE. WHY?

"We're out"

I think my jaw dropped. I've been a patron here for years and never have they run out before. My friend steered me down the road towards our final destination. Chocolate solves everything.

BUT THEN THERE WERE BOARDED WINDOWS AND AN EMPTY BUILDING.

Seems like the second ave Max Brenner closed down while I was MIA.

However, good ol' Union Square Max Brenner was open, thank goodness. I was about at the end of my rope here. I couldn't believe my luck! However, the night was not over.

My friend got a ice cream sandwich and a chocolate martini, and I happily ordered the Popsicle fondue, eager for my sugar fix.


BUT OUR WAITRESS HESITATES. OH NO, WHY AREN'T YOU WRITING?

She gives me an apologetic look and tells me that the Israeli supplier has not given them shipments for 2 weeks.


I couldn't believe what she was saying. Either my brain was still processing what she said, or paralyzed from lack of sugar for more than 3 hours. In any case, she quickly offered up a solution, which was to give me scoops of ice cream and the toppings on the side. Same concept, slightly different execution. It ended up being less messy than the popsicle and a little less expensive too. Check out their entire dessert menu here.

Luck didn't seem to be on my side that day, but all things considering, I ended up with a better ice cream deal a la carte and a free Momofuku cookie. Munching on the cookie now, I think that plans can go awry and still end up memorable, if nothing else.

Lesson learned. Now give me back my luck. ;)

August 3, 2009

Return from Sugar Land

Every once in awhile, we could all use a break from the norm. For me, that was coming to NYC in the first place. I wanted something new and different, and boy did I get that and more. But about once or twice a year, I go home to Houston (Sugar Land), TX for some much needed R&R.


















I saw familiar faces. I slept more than I have in weeks, months, who knows how long. And of course, I ate. Oh, how I ate.

Food post time!











Then today was my first full day back in New York. I saw an advance screening of Julie and Julia thanks to a contest at SE:NY. I even picked up a delicious blueberry pistachio turnover at Bouchon Bakery:














Which was followed by a much less amazing pistachio french macaron from Whole Foods.

This calls for some home baking. Where do I get almond flour?

July 23, 2009

Cupcakes: The new cure to Hump Day

It's our little secret, okay? :)



















Mini Hummingbird Cupcake courtesy of Cupcake Truck and Yelp. You can't go wrong by setting up foodies at happy hour with free cupcakes.

Also, a friendly wave out to Cupcakes Take the Cake.

It's been a good cupcake-filled day.

July 21, 2009

Park Sketches




















Black ballpoint pen: Bryant Park and Central Park

Summer weather in NYC






















You don't need to mess with dinky man-made sprinklers when the skies decide to bless you with free never ending ones!

July 20, 2009

Weekend Re-cap, Take II

I shouldn't really call it a weekend re-cap since it incorporates weekdays. But alas, I am a creature of habit.

Some highlights were...

+ Tapas on Tuesday and Thursday.
+ Harry Potter and all the unnecessary romance shoved in there.
+ Dim Sum in Chinatown at Golden Palace. All your normal dim sum stuff, mixed in with good 'ole NYC snarkiness to start off your morning! Hello, sunshine.
+ dessert wine tasting at the Union Sq. Greenmarket.
+ Siren Music Festival. Only caught the set from Frightened Rabbit, a swedish band, but at least was a nice day out.
+ Park Ave Summer Restaurant Week dinner. Full review is here.

And a nice picture to round this post off:









D'aw. A cute puppy I saw on the way to work one morning.

July 13, 2009

Weekend Re-cap, Take I

Friday J'10

I got a surprise half day when the office shut down around 3pm, just in time to meet up with an old internet friend. We sat and chatted at the City Bakery, home of the Pretzel Croissant. My rule of thumb is that a food has gotta be good if it has its own web page full of devoted followers.















I wish it looked this good IRL.

Then we headed to White Castle, a place I've been wanting to try since I saw Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. I already heard from many sources that it wasn't all that great, but I wanted to try to mediocrity of it for myself as a H&K fan, darn it. For $0.69, I'll get over it.

Next up, Garrett's Popcorn's NYC location right by Penn Station. I'm biased because a friend works there, but seriously as a non-popcorn lover I still found myself compulsively snacking on my bag of caramel popcorn all the way home. Nutrition? P'shaw!

Home for a short reprise, and then it was off to Chickpea for some spinach and broccoli baked falafel (Haha, attempt to be healthy) and Bereket Turkish Kebab House for cheap Indian food with my Meetup group. The night wrapped up wonderfully with a midnight screening of Casablanca, which I'd never seen before.


Saturday J'11

Today's plans were a bit last minute, but turned out okay after all. I had brunch at The Smith, known for sharing the same owners as Jane. So, one of these days I should try the infamous french toast. That day though, I was craving one of their signature dishes, the Poached Egg with Spinach and Caramelized Onions on Potato Waffle. Since it was Saturday brunch, the $13 price tag didn't include a drink or anything, but just the item a la carte.

That afternoon was spent wandering around the newly opened Governors Island. It used to be a military base, and the buildings reflect that past. There is Fort Jay, a hospital, barracks, and even Castle Williams. The center of the island is a gigantic hill, and there are picnic areas. It's a strangely peaceful island.

The night events were fun, sans the short downpour and my falling down a flight of stairs. I hear black and blue all over is easy to match with at least.


Sunday J'12

I was a busy bee on Sunday! Haha, that kind of works, since Melissa means "Honey Bee". Okay, no more lame jokes.

So a cucumber walks into a bar....



Just kidding.

I met up with a friend to go to the Target High Line Street Festival. According to the website, this event "will feature internationally-acclaimed artists, inflatable sculptures, cowboys, story-tellers, marching bands, swing bands, salsa bands (some on a roof-top stage), and an exciting array of hands-on activities including a special Target “Hi from the High Line!” photo postcard experience for kids of all ages. While there, it will be hard to miss the World’s Largest Lemonade Stand"











Cowboys and yuppies and amoebae, oh my!

It was fun strolling along the newly opened High Line. We were dying in the heat, but luckily there were many glasses of lemonade and ice cold watermelon to the rescue! There were also hats, silkscreened T-shirts, postcards, balloon amoebae (see above), and other fun booths. Target had their act together.

Actually, before we headed to the festival, we made a quick pit stop at Chelsea Market. I've been dying to check out Fat Witch, Sarabeth's, Eleni's Cookies, and L'arte del Gelato for a long time. We ended up getting rainbow cookies from a bakery that I don't remember, sampling Fat Witch's brownies, and getting a small cup of Gianduia and Dolce di Latte gelato. My verdict is that while these establishments are great to stop by if you're in the area, I'll be sticking to my staples in the East Village. I've yet to try anything that can pull me away from Momofuku Milk Bar.











Puppycake? Yes ma'am.

We left around 3:30pm to go catch a little of the Bastille Day celebrations on 60th street. This was more like a standard street fair, which means it was mostly food. We got a tasteless and "hole-y" nutella crepe from Bar Brenton and an equally lacking flag-colored white chocolate macaron at The Macaron Cafe. Should've opted for the Payard pastries that everyone else was carrying around.











At least you LOOK pretty!

A quick stop to Dylan's Candy Bar to wrap up a day of sweets, and to use their bathrooms to change for dinner. Nothing says class like changing into an evening gown in a candy store! Mm, there's nowhere else I'd rather be. Except maybe a chocolate bath.

So why did I change at all? Because I was going to Aquavit for Restaurant Week! My companion and I ended up not doing the RW menu after all. We opted for the Pre-Fixe menu, found here. Reviews will come later, but for now feel free to just peruse the menu. At night, I saw Cheri at the Paris theater. On a side note, there's a Cooking Mama game for the iPhone. Want!


Monday J'13

Tonight I just went to see How Green was my Valley at Bryant Park with some friends. Nothing too special happened, but it's funny how enjoyable a night can be with just a blanket, some pizza, and Mister Softee sprinkles ice cream. Click here to find out more about the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival.

July 5, 2009

Happy Fourth of July


What a day to start off this blog-thinger on.

Today I woke up at 11am and decided to finish baking the tarts I started last night. I adapted an old recipe from USDA to make it for a sweet pastry shell.

  • 1 c u p flour
  • 1 /2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
Baked at 425 for around 10 minutes. I used a cupcake pan, filled halfway. I really had no idea what I was doing there, but decided to go by feel. I think it still turned out okay. I did have a problem with burnt edges, but that happens a lot to me. I made a blueberry tart/pie filling that I found online with just some cornstarch, sugar, and blueberries. This is a college dorm after all, and I don't have all the supplies on hand that I wish I did. Okay, enough baking info.

I went out to brunch at Joe Jr.'s because I was craving Good 'ole American food. There's something special about paying $10 and under for a gigantic meal that's not mindblowing, but just satisfying.

We headed down to Battery Park for a free concert featuring Conor Oberst and Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley) as part of the River to River summer series. It was nice being able to just lay down and sun-nap for a little while listening to live music.

At 6pm, we left to go to Penn Station and head over to the West bank to see the annual Macy's Fourth of July fireworks, which took place over the Hudson this year to celebrate the 400th yr discovery of the Hudson River. It was super crowded, but we managed to nab a spot by 40th street. A few friends came and joined us later on, and much snacking and picture taking ensued.

At promtly 9:20pm the fireworks began. It was a great 30-minute display.


video


We went back to a friend's apartment and had red white and blue (organic) cake while watching The Alamo. A nice nighttime walk back to Union Square brings me to where I am now: 3am, tired, but happy.

h a p p y 4th <3>