Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Apple Crisp!

I made some apple crisp for a friend's birthday.....too bad I helped her eat half of it :P

Here's the recipe:

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups peeled, cored and diced apples
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 extra dash of cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and coat an 8x8 square pan with oil or non-stick spray.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter. Cut the mixture until crumbly.
3. In a medium saucepan, combine white sugar, cornstarch, water, vanilla and an extra dash of cinnamon. Cook, stirring, until thick and clear, 10 minutes. Pour over apples in pan. Cover apples with crumble mixture.
4. Bake in preheated oven until bubbly and golden and the apples are cooked :D
5. Eat with vanilla ice cream....mmm.

The above recipe is my modification of an allrecipes.com recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Apple-Crisp-II-2/Detail.aspx

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Food Vacation in NYC: Day Two

Day two was the food-packed pinnacle of the vacation, we had lots of eating to do! Unfortunately, the weather was bitterly cold, but I can't think of a better way to warm up than eating!

First stop on our list was Ess-a-bagel, for some New York style bagels. It was right around the corner from our hotel, so we wouldn't have to brave the cold for long :) I got a toasted sesame bagel with scallion cream cheese and tomato slices. It was awesome! Hard bagel-y goodness on the outside and soft bagel-y goodness on the inside. I knew they were freshly made 'cause I could see the ovens and the bagels coming out of them :D We also got a slice of chocolate mousse cake....glorious!! After that we were off to MoMA to work up an appetite before heading to Chelsea Market!

Chelsea Market is fantastic. It was an indoor market with lots of stores and restaurants - all food-centric! When we walked in, I immediately saw two bakeries. The first was Eleni's, which had a bunch of cupcakes! We all got one: a chocolate mocha cupcake, a lemon cupcake, and a yellow cupcake with blue frosting. Matt's mouth was as blue as the frosting by the time he was done! The frosting was fluffy and not too rich. Next door was Fat Witch Bakery. I got a Snow Witch (white chocolate brownie)...it was dense and rich and moist, the ideal brownie! At this point, I was in heaven....
We slowed down a bit and decided to explore our options before eating anymore. There was a dairy shop, a seafood shop, an italian grocery store with prepared foods out front, some FOOD NETWORK stuff (its housed in the same building as the market), a kitchen store, a Thai restaurant, and more bakeries!!! This was definitely the highlight of the trip. We were there for 2 or 3 hours looking, pondering what to eat and then finally eating. I highly recommend this stop to anyone planning their own food vacation. We learned (too late) that they offer food tours of Chelsea market. Can you imagine??

After stuffing ourselves, we spent time browsing the city's retail until dinner. It was cold, and all the cupcakes in the world couldn't change the frigid temperatures outside.....

Finally, it was time for Lupa! Lupa is an Italian restaurant owned by Mario Batali (among others). We made reservations a month in advance and our time had finally come. The atmosphere was casual (though not some place I'd show up in a t-shirt) and bustling loud....so when I drop my fork, the entire restaurant won't turn to stare.
We were served some focaccia and olive oil when seated. The entire menu was in Italian with translations of individual words on the back and very cumbersome to read. We ordered thinly sliced prosciutto, bay scallops with lamb (at least the menu says there was lamb...) and linguine with mussels to start. The proscuitto was thinly sliced and served on a board. The fat was buttery. The scallops were scallops (not a seafood person). And the linguine (I skipped the mussels) was clearly superior to any pasta I had eaten before. It was served al dente and had a good bite and the garlic/olive oil sauce did not taste fishy.
We waited a bit til our second course, but then it arrived: I ordered one of the specials: pasta in a pork ragu.There were also unidentified leafy greens in it. The picture is sketchy because we were trying to be discrete (and classy). Matt ordered diablo chicken, a (black) peppery roasted chicken with some roasted squash on the side and Alan had a meatball dish that was served with beef broth with carmelized scallions and garlic, blanched (maybe?) red cabbage, and lots of cannelini beans. The chicken and squash were great! As for the meatballs, I liked it, but Alan didn't....so I had to help him eat it :D The dessert menu was disappointing (no chocolate!) so we skipped out and headed elsewhere.

By the end of the day, we were tired, cranky, cold and stuffed! It was time for some rest before heading home in the morning. The trip had some unexpected hits (ice cream in Chinatown) and unexpected misses (crappy restaurant in ghetto Chinatown), but I obviously still like the idea of a food vacation :D

Monday, January 21, 2008

Food Vacation in NYC: Day One

Most people plan trips around various sights to see and things to do. Meals are planned because they are convenient to the things you want to see. I always wanted to plan a trip around my next meal and fill it in with things to do until my stomach emptied out a bit so I could eat more. That's where the idea of going to New York for a weekend of eating, dining and snacking came from.

On Saturday, we arrived in NYC and immediately headed to Buttercup Bake Shop. I had a red velvet cupcake, my friend had a german chocolate cupcake :) The red velvet cupcake was everything I imagined: fluffy red cake and dense cream cheese frosting....I was in heaven. I wished it was bigger because I immediately wanted another. But, I was holding out for our next stop....Chinatown!

We got lost on the way to Chinatown and ended up stopping at Rice to Riches, a gimmicky shop of about 20 different rice puddings. We got some tiramisu rice pudding and then went to Chinatown looking for some dumplings at The Dumpling House. Four homemade dumplings for a dollar...sounds fantastic! Unfortunately, we cannot follow directions. We wandered around the ghettos of Chinatown for a very long time....

We couldn't find any restaurants. In Chinatown! There weren't any people, either. After a lot of searching, we came across a group of quiet restaurants and settled on something that was similar to a diner in Hong Kong. The menu had a lot of spam, ramen, french fries, and some random Chinese dishes. We ordered fried wontons with sweet and sour sauce, "Portuguese style" pork (this was actually pieces of pork chop served over rice with cream of chicken soup poured on top), and some flavorless noodle soup with mediocre dumplings. It was awful. The saddest panda in the world....

Five minutes away from the restaurant was the Chinatown we were looking for. At least 100 awesome looking restaurants. People making homemade noodles behind windows. Homemade dumplings. Bustling streets. Bakeries. And The Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. Too bad we had just filled up on sad food. But, there's always room for ice cream :) I got some mango ice cream and it was delicious but very cold.

Day Two: bagels, Chelsea Market and Lupa!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Instant dinner!

Tonight, I managed to make a complete meal in less than an hour....and not destroy my kitchen in the process! The menu consisted of:

Penne with homemade tomato sauce
Italian sausage
Garlic bread

The Sauce
1 28 oz jar of crushed tomatoes (I use the kind that are unsalted and unseasoned)
1.5t crushed garlic
half an onion, chopped and sauteed in some olive oil with the garlic
salt, pepper, dried basil to taste

Mix it up and simmer it for a half hour or so....and you've got some delicious sauce :)

The Sausage
I got some italian sausage from the grocery store, but it was made by a local sausage man:

Logan Sausage,
4116 Wheeler Ave.,
He makes : Italian (10 varieties), bratwurst, country, kielbasa, andouille, butifarra (Catalan), chorizo, Salvadoran, Argentine, Guatemalan and Colombian) and chicken.

That's all the info I could dig up, but I think I will seek out the shop sometime because the sausage was good and it seemed to be lower in fat than the regular sausage

The Bread
The garlic bread was a baguette from the Caboose Bakery sliced in half length wise and spread with a mixture of butter, olive oil, salt and garlic and baked at 350 degrees for a little while.

Doesn't he look happy?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

mediocre muffins

I'm obsessed with Allrecipes.com's rating system. So, last week, I took a shot at the TOP RATED RECIPE OF ALL TIME: Banana Crumb Muffins.


They were mediocre, at best. Easy to make but dry. In other words, not worthy of the TOP RATED RECIPE OF ALL TIME distinction.

Since , I had some leftover bananas, I gave the recipe another try tonight, but this time I ignored some of the recipe: I used oil instead of butter and increased the amount of oil to 1/2 cup instead of 1/3 cup, and added extra butter to the crumb topping. The results were THE GREATEST MUFFINS IN THE WHOLE WORLD. They look the same as above, but taste more delicious. Take that Allrecipes!

Monday, January 7, 2008

sad soup

Last night, I made ham and potato soup. I loosely followed this recipe, but added some carrots, didn't measure anything and made the roue in reverse, too:

I think I should have followed it closer, because the allrecipes.com reviews say its awesome and I only found it mediocre :(

Sad panda....

Sunday, January 6, 2008

random acts of cupcakes?

So there's some kids in DC who decided it would be awesome to go to concerts and give away their homemade cupcakes. They call it "random acts of cupcake" and I love it. I can only hope I will run into them one day...

Interview with them:
Their website:

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Middle Eastern Food!

Tonight, I tried to make Middle Eastern food for the first time. I was inspired by some leftover tzatziki sauce and Roma tomatoes from New Year's Eve.

I used this falafel recipe from allrecipes.com:

All the ingredients are pretty common, and I can vouch that it was pretty simple with the help of my food processor, so I recommend trying it!

Modifications: I didn't add the cayenne as called for because I didn't have it, nor did I deep fry the patties. I pan fried them for a couple of minutes on each side and then baked them at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes - it turned out great! Also, I skipped making the tzatziki.

I served the falafel on a pita with the tzatziki sauce, hummus, sliced tomatoes and cucumber. Here's a picture of the falafel. It was awesome.

With the leftover parsley, I made some tabbouleh. I used this recipe:

The salad didn't have a chance to soak together, but it did taste remotely like tabbouleh I've had in the past - a success! Also, you might notice in the picture, I prefer my tabbouleh heavy on the parsley and light on the bulgar.

Modifications: I don't think I measured anything except for the lemon juice/olive oil mixture. I cooked the bulgar, instead of soaking, because I was short on time. It was too much, so I threw it away because cooked bulgar did not look like something worth saving.

Awesome dinner! :D