Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Night On The Lower East Side

These are just some iPhone pictures taken as I walked my way through the Lower East Side on my way to the Boiler Room bar in the East Village.  I don't think I've ever seen the streets so packed.  It was a nice vibe too, not weird or overly drunk, but it was only 1:30 so there was still 2 and a half more hours of drinking to do!
Food Carts were everywhere up and down Rivington, Orchard and Ludlow.
The throngs on Essex Street.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Another Reason Not To Eat At McDonalds

As reported in the Huffington Post:

The owner of a franchise in Canton, Ohio enclosed a handbill in employees' paychecks that threatened lower wages and benefits if Republicans don't win on Tuesday.

"As the election season is here we wanted you to know which candidates will help our business grow in the future," reads the letter. "As you know, the better our business does it enables us to invest in our people and our restaurants. If the right people are elected we will be able to continue with raises and benefits at or above our present levels. If others are elected, we will not. As always, who you vote for is completely your personal decision and many factors go into your decision."

It went on to include a list of Republican candidates to vote for.  Of course all involved have apologized because not even politics should get in the way of business.

Nice, right?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Black Cherry Wine

Wandering through Union Square Green market the other day I came across the Eve's Cidery stand.  Neil loves hard cider so whenever he has a hankering for it I buy it here.  In addition to their cider selection, Eve also makes Ice Wine and  Fruit wines which are seasonal.  This year was a bumper crop of black cherries so Eve made up a batch of rich, luscious, not too sweet but sweet Black Cherry Wine.  They had it on ice at the market and were offering tastes.  It was amazing!  When you consider that 14 pounds of cherries go into each bottle it is also a deal at $15 bucks a bottle.   

Great before, during or after dinner, just make sure it's nice and cold (or serve it on the rocks as an aperitif).  Don't wait to get your bottle; supplies are limited and this is indeed a rare treat.  Eve's Cidery is at the Union Square Market on Friday and Saturdays.  Check Grow NYC for their complete schedule.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Zack Denfeld

I love Portland and Zack Denfeld represents the kind of guy who makes Portland so appealing! Check out the full article about this Pacific Northwest College of Art lecturer and "information ecologist" at or just watch him speak in the video below:

Pumpkin Carving

These two gargantuan pumpkins were used as canvases for some amazing artists who created scary and amazing friezes on them.  Sponsored by Grow NYC at the Union Square Green Market.

I love the cow being abducted by aliens and sucked into the flying saucer.

Halloween Treats

My inbox has been packed this week with mail from different high profile food magazines and online recipe sites giving suggestions for goodies to make for Halloween and whether apples are a good thing to give little trick or treaters (yes).

In each email is a recipe or two with High Fructose Corn syrup as an ingredient. 

I've ranted about this for years now and I think if you are on this blog you know how I think it should be banned.  It is unnecessary as an ingredient, really bad for you and really bad for the environment.  If you absolutely must make a recipe calling for its use Lyle's Golden Syrup as a substitute.

For more reading about my thoughts on this topic, here are the search results from posts on this blog over the years discussing the issues surrounding genetically modified corn and high fructose corn syrup.

Please spend some time in the kitchen making your kids and family homemade sweet treats this Halloween with quality ingredients: not corn syrup.

You want them to have fun not diabetes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Just In Case:Food Insurance

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Food Insurance Insurance
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionMarch to Keep Fear Alive

Heavenly Ice Cream

A gay priest Italian Gelato advertisement.  What will they think of next?  Apparently this campaign isn't going over so well in the UK where it has been banned.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Saint Emilion Au Chocolate Part 1

Macaroons - chewy on the outside, moist on the inside.
Part of the OM diner that I posted about the other day was a two tiered desert.  My idea was to offer people a choice:  homemade cinnamon ice cream with candied pecans and roasted plums or Saint Emilion Au Chocolate.  Instead, what happened was I overloaded everyone by giving them a sampler plate, not exactly a light way to end a heavy meal of Indian food!

In their own way both the desserst worked fine, but both, in retrospect, could be improved.  The cinnamon ice cream by itself was good, but on the simple side; the candied pecans were very hard to stop eating; the plums seemed out of place.  Then it occurred to me that the candied pecans and the plums needed to be roughly chopped up and stirred into the ice cream!  So each mouthful was a multi-layered experience instead of the randomness of serving like a sundae.  But then I read a recipe for a pumpkin souffle and it made me think that cinnamon ice cream would be the perfect foil for it...

The bigger issue for me was the fascinating yet perplexing Saint Emilion Au Chocolate which I came across in Simon Hopkinson's classic cookbook Roast Chicken and Other Stories.   He credits the recipe as being originally from Elizabeth David's French Country Cooking and was a big hit in the sixties.  Basically as he explains it you put a bunch of macaroons in a souffle dish with alternating layers of chocolate mouse (recipe below), chill in the fridge overnight and there you have it.  My issue is the vagueness of the recipe (or at least my reading of the recipe) and how it is to be served.  He also suggests that you can use amaretti cookies instead of macaroons.

Let's start with the cookies.

You have several options here.  You could use the Coconut Cookie recipe I posted last week, but because one of the guests was gluten free I made a  flour-less macaroon (recipe below).  In part, I wanted to try it out as a standby for the ever increasing amount of people who are not eating wheat these days.  A side benefit is that these macaroons are also perfect for Passover - and so much better then anything you can buy in a tin at passover.

Here is my adaptation of Kate Zuckerman's macaroons from her great book The Sweet Life


In bowl of a standing mixer add 2 ounces of almond paste, 1 cup of sugar, 1 large egg white and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  With the paddle attachment turn on medium process until the paste has come together.  Then add 3 more large egg whites and 3 cups finely shredded unsweetened coconut and mix briefly, add 6 Tablespoons or room temperature unsalted butter and mix until well incorporated then add 2 Tablespoons of potato starch or flour (or in a pinch organic corn starch) and 1 teaspoon of rum or vanilla.  Fold together with a wooden spoon or spatula, the mixture will be sticky, spoon it into a recycled plastic bag or a covered container and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or butter well.

I use a teaspoon and scoop out heaping spoonfuls of the chilled dough and roll them into rounds, then use a fork to flatten.  You could use a piping bag or just leave them round.  Play around and see what works best for you.  Also you can add a 1/2 cup or so of dark chocolate chips to these if you are planning to just eat them as a cookie and not use them in the Saint Emilion Au Chocolate.

Bake for 20 or so minutes until nicely golden.  Cool on a rack until room temperature.

 Saint Emilion Au Chocolate

Once you have the macaroons made this recipe is a breeze. Well, sort of, and here lies the rub:  if you make it in a souffle dish or a Charlotte mold I'm not sure how easy it will be to get it out in one piece.  Mr. Hopkins just says:

Arrange some of the macaroons in a souffle dish or individual ramekins, using just enough to cover the base. 

But of course they don't cover the base because there is inevitable going to be space where the cookies don't cover....anyway....he goes on:

Sprinkle some rum or brandy over the cookies.  Cover with a layer of chocolate mixture, add a further layer of cookies, more rum or brandy , and another layer of chocolate.

OK so one layer of cookies and some of this intensely rich chocolate mixture is enough for anybody since it is super rich.  Add some whip cream and the entire room will be in diabetic coma in 10 minutes. Happily mind you, but you get the idea....

And I still wasn't sure how it was supposed to look and how it was supposed to be un-molded or was it supposed to be scooped out of the dish or was it really better to just make small individual servings?

Here is what I did.  I took an 8" spring form pan, buttered it and then covered it in parchment paper.

Then I crammed in as many macaroons as I could, breaking them up to fill in holes
 Poured on the chocolate then added more cookies. 
Covered the entire thing and put it int he fridge for 24 hours. I only did a top and bottom layer. When it came time to turn it out onto a plate it didn't give me too much trouble.  It's kind of weird looking kind and somehow way to much fuss for what it is.  Of course it's very rich and delicious and boozy and a wonderful combination of flavors.  I'm just not sure this is the way to put it together.

Here's the chocolate recipe:
In a saucepan bring to just a boil 3/4 cups plus 2 Tablespoons of whole milk. Take off heat and pour in 8 ounces of 70 percent of darker finely chopped chocolate and mix until melted.   While it is cooling...

Cream 8 tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter with 1/3 cup of sugar until light and fluffy, then add 1 egg yolk and combine.
When the chocolate mixed is well cooled add to the creamed butter and sugar mixture and you are ready to go.

I think the idea of just using this chocolate mixture in small cups or ramekins as a pot au chocolate (maybe add some rum or brandy to it ) and serving the macaroons on the side would be a perfectly fine option, but it seems that the point is the marrying in one dish of these two flavors and textures.
So the reason I called this post Part 1 is because I'm not finished with this thing called Saint Emilion Au Chocolate.  I think there has to be a better way.  My idea is to make the macaroon as a tart shell in a well greased tart pan, soaking it in rum and then filling it with the chocolate.  That's what I'm going to try but I really want to hear your ideas.  Leave comments and inspiration!  Otherwise here are two very useful recipes that you can use together or apart in any number of ways.

Living Concrete/Carrot City

This press release showed up in my mailbox this morning.  An exhibit is being done by Parsons The New School for Design in "dialogue" with Ryerson University in Toronto.  I used to live up the street from Ryseron when I lived in Toronto.  Back then it was still a "poly-technical institute", not a university.  Regardless, this looks like an interesting exhibit about urban farming. 
This is from the press release:

Parsons The New School for Design's exhibition Living Concrete/Carrot City: a crop of ideas, innovations, and latest developments in urban agriculture on view now until December 15.

A dialogue between The New School and Ryerson University in Canada, Living Concrete examines urban food initiatives and their impact on local communities—from backyard community plots, roof gardens, and farmer's markets to urban farms—through projects undertaken by New School students and faculty. The exhibition features maps, installations, interactive websites, videos and models, several created specifically for the show. Highlights include a "field guide" to local food on the Lower East Side; a participatory project to re-design bodegas; sound and video installations that explore urban beekeeping; and a multimedia piece on Corbin Hill Road Farm.  

Of particular interest to me is the Lower East Side field guide which I was sent as a PDF, but I can't seem to attach it to a blog posting, so all the more reason to go to the show, or at the very least visit the link above and you can download the guide yourself along with other cool stuff liking a walking tour of the food systems of Brooklyn.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Jet Airways

I've been noticing lately that there is a Jet Airways advertisement on here every time I log on to post.  My friend Debby is in India right now and as regular readers know I am a little obsessed with airplanes and travel, but more than most I seem to find reading about airplanes and looking at videos about airplanes to be fascinating stuff.  I guess if I can't be on one going someplace I can at least be looking at them and fantasizing.

Jet Airways has given Air India a run for it's money and for anyone who wants a first class airline experience on their way to India they need look no further then Jet Airways.

I have never flown them and they aren't giving me any money to write about them, but one of my obsessions is about what it would be like to fly in the first class section of a plane (or sometimes I obsess over private jets and go on sites and look at the different lays's kind of like my porn).  Anyway, I've come to the conclusion that Jet Airways First Class Suite has to be hard to beat.  I love the sliding wood doors and that you have a private room that sits two for dinner.

Here is a video I found that I think is kind of funny; somehow I don't buy that this guys need  "privacy" with the attractive blond woman...what do you think?

Thai Cookbooks

David Thompson has a new Thai cookbook out called Thai Street Food.  His first book, aptly named Thai Food, is already a must have classic for anyone interested in cooking Thai.
Mr. Thompson is Australian and as you can probably guess from his name isn't Thai.  I first encountered him and his cooking on a trip to London several years back when I ate at his Michelin-starred restaurant Nahm.  As someone who has traveled extensively in Thailand I'd like to think I know a thing or two about Thai cooking and all I can say is Mr. Thompson is a master.

Not only are these books filled with brilliant recipes, they are filled with beautiful photography, especially the new one Thai Street Food.  Both of these books are available on my Amazon Store along with a lot of other Urbanfoodguy recommended books.  Great gift ideas for all your foodie friends.

Om Menu

 (double click to make it bigger)
This is what I spent most of my weekend doing.  It's the perfect weather for an Indian Feast, although I always love Indian so I guess any time is perfect.  There were two desserts that I had been wanting to try so I made them both, kind of gilding the lily but, hey, I didn't force anyone to eat them!  The very bottom item, Saint Emilion Au Chocolate, I will break down and give you the recipe in another post.  What is missing in the picture (underneath you can see just the top of the words) is "Macaroon Chocolate thingy".  I wasn't really sure from the recipe if it was a tort or a cake or a mousse...having made it I would call it a cake:  a very rich boozy cake that I feel needs some rethinking, but really how far wrong can you go when you are mixing coconut and dark chocolate?

This was a particularly nice dinner because it gave me a chance to socialize with two of my favorite yoga teachers (Christie & Edward) from OM yoga where I have practiced for years.

If you haven't tried Pappadum at home you really should.  It's so easy (you can fry it or I like to put it under the broiler).  It comes with several seasonings: black pepper, green pepper, cumin, plain....and it is addictive and most importantly for this evening they are gluten free:  lentil flour is the main ingredient.
I make a simple tamarind chutney for dipping, but really you don't need anything.  You can also cut them into strips and use them in spicy Indian Tomato soup - once they hit the soup and are cooked a few minutes they become tasty noodles.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Open Thread

 What was your favorite food as a child?

My grandmother used to take me to the food counter at Kresges and I would always get french fries with gravy and a coke.  I loved to add ketchup to my fries and mix it up with the gravy

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bisous Ciao: Fancy Macarons on the Lower East Side

I noticed Bisous Ciao one day while walking home.  I'd stopped by September Wines to buy a bottle of wine and then noticed this super fancy store across the street and went over to investigate.  It's on Stanton street between Ludlow and Orchard; I remember the space being under renovation, but this was the first time I'd seen it finished.  At first it was like I was in a dream, you know the ones where you are walking around in your underwear and no one seems to notice, but then you becoming keenly aware of the fact that you forgot your pants at home?  It was kind of like that.  I walked into this sleek modern art gallery-esque room that is completely empty except for a long, chilled marble-topped display case at one end...and I'm thinking I'm on the Upper East, maybe Madison Avenue in the Seventies somewhere.  I'm expecting Jackie O to come in with Andy Warhol and Truman Capote to buy 11 dozen Macarons for a tea party....but then I wake up and realize I'm on the Lower East Side and think: how'd this place get here?
The Macarons are beautiful and come in lots of different flavors.  They are $2.25 each and cheaper if you buy a 6 pack (er, I mean a half dozen).  As a treat I got Neil and I 2 Macarons: Salted Caramel and a Dark Chocolate (made with 72% chocolate ganache filling).  Delicious, light, little pillows of sugar and flavor which are wonderful individually, but even better when eaten together (at least this particular combo).  I have to go back and try the Sour Cherry.  
You must stop in to Bisous Ciao the next time you are on the Lower East Side.  It's a little unreal and unexpected, but so worth it.  Best would be to check out their website which tells you how to join the Macaron Club and gives you the low down on seasonal flavors and upcoming events.  Truly Dreamy.
Bisous Ciao
100 Stanton Street
NYC 10002
between Orchard and Ludlow

Friday, October 22, 2010

Live Crab Vending Machine

JapanProbe dot com
Uploaded by pubjapaned. - More video blogs and vloggers.

It's in Japanese but it's very clear.  However if anyone who is reading this wants to translate the good parts for us please do!

Concord Grape Crumble Tart: The Pictures

When I published the recipe for this I hadn't done a proper photo shoot, the one featured in the pictures was one of the work in progress tarts.  This is the real thing made from the published recipe and I have to say that I think this is one of the finest recipes I have ever developed.  Concord grapes are still at the markets, but you only have a week or two left before they disappear for another year.  Trust me on this one:  you really don't want to wait that long to try this.

A dollop of whipped cream and your guests will be swooning!

Saraghina: Amazing Pizza in Bed Stuy

Saraghina is not exactly what you might expect to find in Bed Stuy, a Brooklyn neighborhood that not so long ago was considered "dangerous" and best avoided.  

My friend David had invited me out to dispel this notion and to walk about a bit and explore the 'hood before sitting down to eat at Saraghina 

What struck me more then anything about visiting Bed Stuy last night was how beautiful it is.  During our walk I was constantly amazed by the quality of the architecture and lack of development.  Street after street I was dumb struck by yet another row of stunning homes, with stained glass windows, amazing stone work and facades,  some even fully detached!  Homes with gardens and big front lawns.  I felt like I wasn't in New York.  I just have my fingers crossed that with change and the gradual gentrification of Bed Stuy it is able to retain it's neighborhood feel and it's architectural integrity.

Word has been out for a while now that this neighborhood was changing and developing a small, but serious, restaurant scene.  The star of that scene, it would appear, is Saraghina.     

A large, long rambling room, you enter into a small building filled with firewood; inside everything is black, white and rustic. The ceilings are all exposed beams with chairs hanging from them. The service is spot on (our waiter was very Italian, charming and very efficient).  The list of specials was endless and provided with the menu when we sat down.  I really appreciate places that write down their specials instead of relying on the memory of a waiter to give them, only to then sit at the table after the server has left to try and remember what he or she had said.

The star here is the pizza and it comes in one size - large!  One pizza is enough for two people - which didn't stop us from ordering two and an appetizer of mashed Fava beans and sauteed dandelion greens which was a yummy combo of bitter/crunchy and smooth/buttery.  The pizzas, which were delivered to the table with incredible speed, are pure Neapolitan perfection.  We had the wonderfully spicy Capocollo and the sausage and olive laden Salsiccia (which David tells me is also great cold for breakfast the next day).  We had a carafe of house wine and the bill with tip was $75.  Cash only, but not to worry if you run short as there is an ATM across the street.

As you can tell from these pictures by the time the food came I was so distracted I forgot to take pictures of the food.  I'll just have to go back and take Neil next time.  This has to be the best pizza I have ever eaten in New York and they get extra credit from me for not doing delivery.  If you want to order a pizza and pick it up you can, but they don't deliver.

It took me 15 minutes from the East Broadway stop in Manhattan to get to the Utica station then another 8 minutes or so to walk to the restaurant.  That's easier then getting to Bushwick and, I have to say, after my last not at all successful meal at Roberta's ($12 for a side of corn?) I think my heart has been stolen by another wood burning oven in Brooklyn and her name is Saraghina.

435 Halsey Street, Corner of Lewis, BKLYN NY 11233 
closest subway is the A @ Utica. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tomato Pickers in Florida Need a Raise

Red Curry Paste

I posted the recipe for this back in January, but it wasn't until this month that I could get fresh, local lemongrass, coriander with roots still on,  garlic and shallots all from the market to make the most local version of this intense, versatile Thai spice paste.  It's great that local tri-state farmers are growing lemongrass.  Love that.
I use a food processor to make mine.  If you are a real patient person eager for an authentic experience you can use a mortar and pestle for the entire thing.  Good luck with that.  You could also use a blender, but I think you get more of an approximation of what the paste would be like if you pounded it in your mortar and pestle when you use a food processor.  A blender would make it too fine and it would just look like the stuff you get in a can.  At its heart it is a very rustic thing that Thai women (mostly) make in very basic circumstances from recipes that have been passed down to them from their mothers and their mother's mother.

So when you are making the recipe please feel free to adjust.  In this batch I was so excited by the coriander roots I added way more than the recipe calls for.  I also like to add more cumin and more coriander seeds because I like the depth of flavor and the warmth these spices add to the hot acidic nature of peppers and lime.

Also don't forget that this is a base for curries or sauces so you will have lots of opportunity to add and adjust as you make whatever dish it is you're going to make.

Coriander roots.
I was trying to get arty with this shot.  The jar of curry paste is on a map of Bangkok and I thought this morning when I tool it that it was so perfect....
But now after some more coffee I think it's kind of silly and this one below gives you a better idea of the look and texture of the paste.
Depending on how often you use this it will last forever in the fridge.  I think I had one batch last a year and it only seemed to get better.

Just do yourself a favor and wear gloves when you de-seed all those peppers!
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