It’s been such a busy weekend, I think a recap is in order. It all started on Friday when our good friends Joe and Lisa wanted to check out Hearth restaurant in the East Village. Oh, you remember we went there 2 weeks ago and wrote this post all about it? Yea so, we went again! The chef’s tasting menu is such a great value. Totally worth every penny. And since we arrived a bit earlier than our reservation, we pre-gamed with a glass of wine at Chef Marco Canora’s wine bar, Terroir, just a couple doors down.
Saturday was filled with getting the vegetable and herb garden ready. That’s never fun. Asheley made the mistake of offering to help. I don’t think she will be offering that up anymore. Many weeds were pulled. Soil tilled. Compost and other goodies added. Oh, and plants planted. That’s actually the fun part.
Asheley and I hosted Mother’s Day this year. I took the opportunity to experiment a bunch of new dishes on my family. Some were successful and thoroughly enjoyed. Others were… well, at least eaten. I’ll be sharing some of those recipes soon (just the good ones, don’t worry).
It snowed 30″ this weekend. No big deal, just the like the worst snowstorm in the past like forty years here. It’s one of the times that Asheley and I are really thankful for a small driveway and no sidewalks. Nemo, the gentle, innocent name they gave the storm, was quite deceiving. Two days later, there were still no plows in our neighborhood, so we were stuck inside. When life snows you in, what do you do? I make soufflés. And Asheley couldn’t get to work, which immediately volunteered her for sous chef duties.
Soufflés are one of those desserts that are just so incredibly stunning. You just can’t help but ooooo and aahhh as you stare at the towering feats of architecture. I always thought making a soufflé was crazy hard and was something I would only enjoy when dining out at a fancy restaurant. Last year though, I watched Mark Bittman do a quick segment on of those morning news shows, and he made them look quite accessible to the home cook.
I cannot believe how easy they are to make, requiring only a couple of ingredients and a few precise steps. Besides tasting absolutely divine, the best part of making soufflés is seeing peoples eyes light up as you bring them to the table, rendering you a culinary hero in their eyes. (more…)
So that cleanse that Asheley and I have been doing is officially over. We both are feeling a whole lot better about ourselves, which is a nice change from the fat-fest that ensued during the holiday season. Although we’ve made it a personal goal of ours to try to be a little more health-conscious overall for the start of 2013, we had to celebrate the end of our cleanse with a little indulgence!
This past Sunday we headed into Brooklyn to eat at Chef Elizabeth Falkner’s new restaurant, Krescendo, which just opened a couple months back. Chef Falkner had previously already made quite the name for herself as chef/partner of the popular Citizen Cake and Orso in San Francisco, but lucky for us, decided to leave the West Coast and set up shop right here in Brooklyn.
Chef Falkner has become quite recognizable over the past several years, making various TV appearances on Top Chef and Top Chef Masters, two different seasons of The Next Iron Chef competition, and a smattering of other culinary shows. I’ve always been quite intrigued by the dishes she came up with on The Next Iron Chef. She was a solid contender on both seasons and consistently brought great food to the judges table. And although she previously carried the stigma of only being a tremendous pastry chef, Chef Falkner quickly proved that she’s more than just cakes and ice cream.
I love cookies. Sometimes a little too much, as my waistline can surely attest. And although in about a week or so my yearly New Year’s resolution to eat better kicks in, for now I can (and will) enjoy all things cookie. My favorite ones to make recently are these Compost Cookies. I actually first made these cookies last year, but in the last couple months I’ve found myself making them quite a bunch for our friends and family.
The secret to the Compost Cookie greatness is in the same salty-sweet combination that makes chocolate covered pretzels so brilliant. And in the true spirit of composting, you can use whatever salty or sweet mix-ins you have lying around the house, which ensures a new and unique cookie every time you bake up a batch.
This recipe comes from Pastry Chef Christina Tosi of NYC’s Momofuku Milk Bar. You may remember that name from when I posted an adapted version of her Crack Pie with Speculoos recipe a few weeks back. Compost Cookies are one of her best-selling desserts, and is a perfect cookie to try out on family and friends during this last week of cookie overload before the New Year.
It was 2 weeks before Thanksgiving when Tyler, my good friend and techie-guru behind Shared Appetite, emailed me a link of a recipe he found for an adaptation of Crack Pie, with the addition of Nutella. If you’ve never heard of Crack Pie, made famous byNYC’s Momofuku Milk Bar, well… I’ll get to that in a minute. Just know for now that you have been missing out, big time, if you never had the chance to try it.
Crack Pie in itself is absolutely amazing. Add nutella into the mix, and I could barely hold my excitement. I immediately knew what I was going to make for Thanksgiving dessert this year. Oh heck yea.
But then fast forward to a day or two before Thanksgiving. I was watching my wife eat her daily dose of animal crackers, which she enthusiastically dips into our jar of Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter (their version of the Speculoos). And it hit me… Crack Pie… with… you might want to sit down… Speculoos!
Following the consumption of said pie on Thanksgiving and the subsequent days of leftover gluttony, friends and family have been asking for this recipe more than any other. And I ask, who am I to disappoint?
If I had to pick one dessert creation that I am most proud of this summer, this is it… so keep reading, it’s totally worth it.
Soup for dessert?! I was totally skeptical when Asheley ordered the Blueberry Soup for dessert at L’Office in Paris. Let’s just say it was one of my proudest moments of being dead wrong. This wasn’t just a good dessert. It was a pretty darn perfect. I thought the flavors would be very one-note, kind of boring. Au, contraire. The fresh, bright flavors of the blueberries, combined with the creamy mascarpone, was well… a match made in heaven. Immediately when we got back from Paris, I went to work on trying to recreate Chef Kevin O’Donnell’s mind blowing dessert. After several trial runs, numerous recipe tweaking, and having many good friends be my loyal taste-testers, it finally came together:
That familiar tune… it starts out faint, growing louder and louder by the second. Your ears perk up, your posture straightens. Instantly, you bolt for the door, grabbing your wallet on the way. It’s Mister Softee, and the truck is heading your way! You walk (run) up to the truck to find that those familiar sprinkles have been replaced with the unexpected , including wasabi pea dust, toasted curried coconut, dulce de leche, pumpkin butter, and even sea salt. You realize this is no Mister Softee. You, my friend, have stumbled upon the greatness that is Big Gay Ice Cream.
Co-founders Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff began Big Gay Ice Cream as a humble ice cream truck experiment in the summer of 2009. The combination of serving up that nostalgic old-school soft-serve covered in new, imaginative toppings was an instant success. In September of 2011, the pair expanded into their own brick-and-mortar shop in the East Village, located at 125 East 7th Street. This is where I have been a frequent happy customer over the past couple of months. I find my car driving itself to 7th Street all the time, all by itself. Weird…
Chocolate. Those three syllables are like music to my ears… or more accurately, stomach. As a kid, I thought Kit Kat and Twix Bars were the best chocolate out there (ok, not going to lie, I still do enjoy a candy bar here and there). Growing up, Lindt and Godiva were the “gourmet chocolate” in my life. Then the awakening happened: a friend took me to her favorite French chocolatier in NYC, La Maison du Chocolat. I uncontrollably wept on the inside. Where have you been all my life, I thought, as each little piece of heaven was slowly and carefully enjoyed. I soon discovered another fantastic French chocolatier in NYC aptly dubbed Mr. Chocolate, Jacques Torres. These are the types of places that every cocoa bean dreams of ending up one day.
Now imagine you were going to a place where these types of chocolatiers were absolutely everywhere, always just a short walk away. Yes, exactly: heaven on earth! Asheley and I definitely spent our fair share of time in Paris chocolatiers. We didn’t get to all of the ones that I had on my list to visit, but the chocolatiers we did get to were really fantastic:
Almost every single place where I choose to eat in NYC has either been recommended to me by a fellow food lover or was heavily researched by yours truly. There is good reason for that… I want to find and eat the best the city has to offer! However, every now and again comes along a chance meeting, fate you may call it, where some unexplainable force in the universe attracts me to someplace new as I’m traveling around NYC. This was one of those times, and I actually have my amazing soon-to-be wife to thank for it.
Asheley and I were cruising around Greenwich Village checking out some awesome eats at Dos Toros Taqueria, Faicco’s Pork Store, and Artichoke Basille’s Pizzeria, when we stumbled upon the bright yellow storefront of Molly’s Cupcakes. Asheley stopped in her tracks laughing at the clever sign hanging in the window:
“Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy”
My eyes immediately focused on the adjacent sign in the window declaring that Molly’s Cupcakes won an episode of the show Cupcake Wars on Food Network. Being a sucker for sweets, we had to step inside, and what a magical place we found…
I like ice cream. I like cookies. Ice cream and cookies all at once… euphoria! What’s not to like about the old time favorite ice cream sandwich? I remember being very excited as a kid when I would hear that familiar high-pitched tune, signaling the one, the only, ice cream man! Approaching that ice cream truck, with all the different sugary choices colorfully plastered around the service window, I would very often choose the good ole’ chipwich. A prepackaged vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two frozen chocolate chip cookies, it was all a kid could hope for. Ah, youthful days… But little did I know!
When I walked up to the Coolhaus food truck for the first time, I expected a decent, good, tasty ice cream sandwich. That isn’t what I got… not even close. It was SO much more than that. I have never had an ice cream sandwich this good. It was stupid good. So good I now literally compare all other ice cream sandwiches to the pedestal I have erected for my ice cream sandwich love: Coolhaus!