Wednesday, 8 September 2010

NYC the place to be! Part 2

So continuing on from my last NYC post, we stumbled across some street markets in Chelsea. They looked like your typical weekend market so I didn't really go for a walk through (hmm...maybe I should have).

We spotted this crepe stall on the corner selling fresh lemonade and err crepes! The crepes were so good and the stall holders were French which for me, re-enforced the crepe's authenticity. The batter was thin and nicely coloured on the outside. I had mine with mushroom, baby spinach and of course cheese (hey, we are in America here everything comes with cheese!).

"I only make crepe for da woman" The dude forgot to make a 2nd crepe.

We walked several blocks when I spotted a Pinkberry. The line was out the door. Then we noticed this:

It's one of the trendy food vans which will only tell you their location if you follow them on twitter. Very en vogue in the U.S these days - am waiting for this to catch on in Aust. Maybe in another 2 years - haha! This particular van is a popsicle van - they had many yummy flavours like grape, pineapple etc. I had a pineapple one and it had frozen pineapple chunks inside! Yum! And as they say in real estate "location, location, location". This van was parked between a playground and pinkberry. Very clever!

I can't remember what day it was but we were just walking around mid-town and feeling hungry but didn't want to go into Maccas, TGI Friday's etc. We saw a decent looking cafe and thought 'yeah that'll' do.

I ordered a turkey baguette which came with a side salad. At this point in time I needed to eat a salad - it's all carbs and meat here! When you think of a side salad, it's usually lettuce, tomatoes, maybe some cucumbers and grated carrots. Remember what I said about carbs? Here's my 'side salad':

It's a freakin' PASTA SALAD?!?!?! Oh yeah, that frothy drink is supposed to be a cappuccino and that is not chocolate on top - its cinnamon. What the?!?!

As you can gather, the food is bad - ok that's a bit extreme ... not very good. Or maybe we are spoilt in Australia with our fresh seafood, fruit and veggies. If you are vego/vegan /coelliac - come with your own meals packed.

The museums are amazing. The vendors must have sensed the hunger that visitors ignore when they visit the place because you can find them everywhere down on the Museum mile. It was hot, we spotted soft serve. Mine was chocolate (should have opted for the cherry coating) and yeah it was huge.

I was half way through

Still have a few more pics to load but I think it's back to work for me. Peace out! Btw: apologies for the inconsistency of the font - blogger is going funny on me.

Monday, 30 August 2010


In a nut shell Pierogi are Polish dumplings sort of like the Chinese gow-gee in shape. One of the traditional fillings are made up of mashed potatoes, quark (kind of like a cross between Greek yoghurt and cottage cheese) and onions. You can also fill them with buckwheat, sauerkraut or mushrooms.

The dough and filling is fairly easy to make but the rolling and the filling is a bit more time consuming. It took me 2 hours, standing in the kitchen rolling, cutting and stuffing dough. If you suffer from back pain/sore neck, my advice is to grab a seat. Use a large round cutter or glass (once again think the size of gow gees).

1. Have several large plates lined with baking paper ready to place the pierogi. Make sure they are dusted with flour and not touching each other or else they will stick.
2. Mash the potatoes the day before and put it in the fridge. It will make the filling less wet and easier to fill.
3. Divide the dough into quarters. Makes it easier to roll.
4. Roll quickly – the more you play with it the hard the dough will become.
5. The dough is very elastic, it shrinks back quickly.
6. Quark be found in special grocer or organic food store. If you can’t find quark use cottage cheese. The amount of quark to potatoes is 1:3.
7. Over season or else it will taste very bland.
8. Be prepared to clean up!

2 cups plain flour
½ tsp salt
2 egg yolks
2 tsp vegetable oil
½ - ¾ cup of warm water

1. Combine flour and salt. In a large bowl or kitchen bench. Make a well in the centre for the wet ingredients.
2. Place egg yolks and oil in the centre. Using one hand start mixing the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients.
3. With the other hand, slowly pour the water in the dough until combined.
4. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic (don’t over knead).

6 large potatoes
1 white onion, grated or chopped very finely to almost mince like
Plenty of salt and pepper to season

1. *Do this the night before* Boil the potatoes with the skin on until cooked. Remove skin, mash and store in the fridge.
2. Gently caramelise the onions. Add to the potatoes.
3. Mix with Quark and heavily season.

To assemble
1. Roll dough out until it is 1-2mm thick.
2. Using a large round cutter, cut into circles.
3. Place 1 tsp of filling in the center of the dough.
4. Fold the dough in half. Seal the filling by pressing the edges together and pushing any air bubbles out.
5. Crimp the edges with your thumb or you can use a fork to press down on the edge.
6. Set a side until ready to cook.

To cook
1. Boil a large pot of water and drop the pierogi in making sure not to overcrowd.
2. They are ready when they rise to the surface.
You can eat them like that or...
3. Drain the pierogi on a paper towel. Heat a pan with a little oil and pan fry each side until golden.

Friday, 27 August 2010

NYC the place to be!

Well not so much in terms of food.....but still good for shopping!

Food in general is fairly expensive for what you pay for compared to Sydney and don't forget the 20% tip. It is also fairly simple - you get what you read on the menu. For example: Beef burger with cheddar and pickle. Will be exactly that in NY, whereas in Sydney it would contain some salad/tomatoes. Yes, portion size is BIG. Breakfast would last me until mid afternoon, where we then had a late lunch/early dinner.

All in all, the food we had was nice enough. What I loved most is the iced-teas! I mean brewed black tea, served in a glass with ice and slice of lemon. None of this lipton from the bottle stuff. Snapple also found its way into our hearts along with Root Beer. The homemade root beer was particularly delicious when we visited an Amish town (funnily called Intercourse).

I guess because it was summer - our appetite just wasn't there but here are a few high sugar/high fat/high carb highlights.

The Ritz Diner (cnr 1st & 62nd) was just two blocks from the hotel. This was where we started off our day for most of the duration in NYC. Prices were cheap $5 for breakfast and filtered coffee (don't get me started on their coffee). Most days I would have 2 x poached eggs with whole wheat toast. Accompanying this selection was home fries. These lightly grilled (on a flat grill I assume) potatoes with capsicum, onion, paprika and sour cream goodness was the star. Mind you, the eggs were always beautifully cooked. I have since struggled with the idea of making these for breakfast when I got home (carbs vs. low carb, potatoes vs. just eggs and toast, big breakfast vs. a light breakfast). I was later told by my travel companion this was an Eastern European thing (not the eating them for breakfast part) using leftover potatoes. Maybe I'll make them this weekend, maybe I'll make them for dinner..

The 2 slices of toast was accompanied by butter and either Grape Jelly or Strawberry Jam. "Too much sugar" I thought "Ekk" everytime I looked a the Grape Jelly. I now wished I had tried it.

On most days, my companion had scrambled eggs and bacon....

...or fried eggs sunny side up with sausages.

I felt adventurous one morning and decided to try the Griddle Cakes (pancakes) with Syrup and Bacon - when in America I say. The plate arrived with 3 perfectly cooked, large pancakes topped with strips crunchy bacon and a bottle of syrup (no, it wasn't maple). I was surprised how tasty it was. Everything seemed to work together perfectly. The light and fluffy pancakes, the crunchy bacon, the saltiness of the bacon and the sweetness and moisture of the syrup.....

Like a child, I poured the syrup with glee

No matter how delicious it was - only managed to eat half and almost all the bacon.

Face of fulfillment?

Commenting on the coffee just reminded me how horrible the coffee was. Ok, I accept most place have filtered coffee and I expected the coffee flavoured/coloured water that arrived in my mug every morning. That's ok. I'm fine with that. But a cappuccino with half foam, mostly milk and fraction of coffee taste?!?!?! Are you serious?

One morning we ventured out from the safety of our Ritz Diner and found the franchise of Le Pain Quotidien. (Well I obviously don't live in the inner-city and Eastern suburbs because I just looked at the website and they have franchises in Sydney.) I knew we should have stayed away when the word 'franchise' and the phrase 'recommended in the lonely planet guide' came up. For triple the price, I got: 1 soft boiled 'organic' egg, 3 varieties of bread, 1 chocolate croissant and a 'cappuccino'. The food was nice but I can find something similar in Sydney for a fraction of the cost. The let down was the cappuccino or maybe it was more of my expecting of receiving a cappuccino but it was NOT a cappuccino. No wonder they think Starbucks is proper coffee.

The said cappuccino

More to write ... little time to write. Until next episode - peace out!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Cavolo Nero

Ever since I glance upon the Cavolo Nero chapter of Maggie's Harvest by Maggie Beer I wanted to cook something with Cavolo Nero (also known as Italian black cabbage or Tuscan cabbage). Until now, I have never tasted it or even seen it at the local grocer but my stomach told me something good was going to come out of it.

Wondering around a larger grocer last week, I spotted my Cavolo Nero. Quickly, I abandoned the stalk of celery in my hands and with concealed excitement I stuck my hand out to reach for the leafy dark green vegetable.

I am not sure how many uses this vegetable has - I am sure there are many that I don't know of - I was planning to make minestrone anyway and this will be perfect (with a bit of speck and parmigiano reggiano). There is not a strong 'cabbagey' flavour, so if you don't like cabbage you should try this, there is some texture even after cooking the minestrone for 1.5hrs so it made a nice addition to the normal 'cubes of veg' found in the soup.

Minestrone with Cavolo Nero and Speck

I still have half a bunch left over, I think I will try it with some pasta later this week.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Star Spangled Cupcakes

How hard is it to find blue sprinkles?! The answer: very hard.

I wanted to use blue sprinkles on these cupcakes but failed to find any. Actually I couldn't find any blue lollies. I almost gave up after 1.5 days of searching when I spotted some at one of those lolly kiosks in the shopping centre.

Happy be-lated 4th of July!

Friday, 18 June 2010

Cherry and almond Cake is mid June already and work ramping up which explains my lack of posts. But that doesn't mean I haven't been cooking. I have been making plenty of yummy comfort food during these colder months, usually on a Sunday where I can slow cook and eat the leftovers on Mon & Tue.

What have I been making I hear you ask? One week it was vegetable stew, the next meatballs, then beef bourguignon (yes I had to look up how to spell that!), then osso bucco. I think last week was the only weekend when I didn't make comfort food. Which reminds me I have ox tail lurking in the freezer (I intended to cook it last week but didn't manage to).

God bless my cast iron dish! I didn't take any photos because I was always too hungry and if I lingered about the food will get cold. Plus I don't have a fancy SLR so the shots will most likely turn up a blur.

I did end up baking cake one weekend and yes I did take a photo.

Cherry and almond Cake

100g butter
½ cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
100g almond meal
½ packet of frozen cherries
¼ cup milk

1. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time until combined.
2. Into this mixture sift the flour, baking powder and almond meal. Add cherries and milk, and mix.
3. Bake in a 160c oven for approx. 45mins or until golden.

Seriously, this cake is easy. Also in true me style, as in 'one that never follows a recipe', I've found a basic almond meal cake recipe and added a few bits and pieces to call it my own.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Homemade Gnocchi

Gnocchi is fairly simple to make. You don't need to follow the exact quantities, do it by eye. You can also boil the potatoes - but because of the higher water contain (less moisture in gnocchi, the better) you might need extra flour.

Ingredients (makes 3 servings)
4 med potatoes
1 cup plain flour (approx.)
pinch of salt
1 egg

1. Roast the potatoes in a moderate oven for approx. 1 1/2 hrs or until cooked. Cool the potatoes to the touch.

2. Peel and place the potatoes into a large bowl and mash.

3. Make a well add a 3 tablespoons of flour, egg and salt. Mix until combined. If it's too wet add more flour and mix until ready.
*The dough is really when it forms a ball and springs back to the touch

4. Refrigerate for 30mins-1hour.

5. On a floured table, divide the dough into quarters. Roll each quarter into a thick log and using a floured knife cut the log into rectangles (doesn't matter how big or small it is). Using a floured fork, press it gently on the gnocchi.

6. To cook. Put a large pot of water to the boil and drop the gnocchi in (not too many at a time). They are ready when they float to the surface.