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


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):


  • 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.