Sunday, December 30, 2012

Brooklyn Biergarten

Ringing in 2013 in Brooklyn again. Thanks Susan, Alex and Matthew.  We arrived to have a few beers (Weyerbacher Quad & Corsendonk Chrstmas Ale) with Alex before we took a walk to Jubilat for fresh sausages and to the Eagle Provisions for me to drool over the beer selections.  We had two hours to walk and browse and Brad and Eli prodded  me every five minutes to keep me on task so I would not end up camping out at the Eagle Provisions.  I whined kicking and whining as we had LOTS of time to browse.

At Jubilat we bought some double smoked sausages.  We haven't cut into the links yet and we are talking about going back tomorrow for ham and more sausages.  Enjoy the last few hours of 2012 and happy new year to you all.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Bananas and Rum Sauce

December 2012 Saveur - New Orleans dessert from Matt and Naddie's Restaurant 

I will post the recipe as it was listed in the 'zine and will then proceed to write about all the changes I made for convenience.

For the Bread Pudding:
4 1/2 cups of milk (4 c; 1/2 used for the pan frying portion that I did not do)
20 tbsp unsalted butter (16 tbsp; the other 4 tbsp was for the pan frying)
1 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp kosher salt
12 oz stale country white bread cut into 1/2 inch cubes - about 8 cups
 6 oz white chocolate, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish
1/2 c toasted slivered almonds
8 eggs (6 eggs when not pan frying)
1 c flour (I did not use as I did not pan fry the sliced bread pudding - too much work for a party held at someone else's house)
2 c panko bread crumbs (ditto - related to pan frying)

For the Rum Sauce and bananas:
1 1/2 c sugar
1 c heavy cream
4 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
2 tbsp dark rum
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice (did not use)
1/2 c turbinado sugar (did not use - see above)
4 bananas, halved lengthwise and then halved crosswise (ended up putting them IN the bread pudding as I did not pan fry the bread pudding)

I mostly followed the recipe when making the bread pudding and the rum sauce but I nixed the pan frying portion of the recipe.  I made the dish during my Thanksgiving break and froze both the pudding and sauce.  Since I had a holiday party two weeks later, I knew I would be exhausted from work as it was the busiest time of year with the end of semester and graduation.

To make the bread pudding:  I brought 4 cups of milk, 16 tbsp of butter, the vanilla, nutmeg and salt to a simmer in a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat.  Remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes.  Combine the bread cubes, chocolate, almonds and bananas in a large bowl and set aside.  Add 6 eggs to the milk mixture and I then also added some rum - I don't know how much as I poured it from the bottle - maybe a 1/4 cup.  Whisk until smooth.  Pour the custard over the bread mixture and stir until evenly combined.  Let sit to soften bread which is about 20 minutes.  Heat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.  Pour bread mixture into a 9"x13" metal baking pan, which for me was a foil pan because it was going to be frozen after I baked it.  I made sure the ingredients were evenly distributed and I covered with foil as the recipe instructed and baked it for an hour.  I let it cool of course, before I bagged it into a 2 1/2 gallon zip lock and put it in the freezer.

While the bread pudding cooked, I made the sauce.  In 1/2 cup of water, bring the sugar to a boil over high heat stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Continuing cooking sugar mixture without stirring until the sugar turns into an amber-colored caramel, which is about 15 minutes (I forgot to do this step).  Add the cream, butter, rum and juice and stir until smooth.  I then let it cool, placed it in a container and put it in the freezer.

The biggest worry was freezer burn and it was a non-issue.  The other thing I discovered was that the bread pudding was so moist probably because I had added some rum.  Maybe freezing it added some moisture but not to the detriment of the bread pudding.  My friend had a convention oven so I had to bump up the temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and it took at least an hour to bake again.  I baked it with the foil on for at least half of the time and just watched that it did not burn.  It was still moist and custardy that it did not really need the rum sauce.  While the bread pudding baked, I heated up the sauce and poured it on the plates for individual slices of bread pudding.  My friend whose heart is in the same place as mine could not wait for the bread pudding to bake and she helped me keep an eye on it, tasting it along the way, too.

I thought it turned out pretty good and I plan to make it again while I have time over this second holiday break and freeze for another occasion.  I will do without making the rum sauce and improvise again by using the leftover heavy cream I froze in November combining it with soy milk because we don't usually have milk on hand and I don't want to buy it again just for this dish.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Uni (Sea Urchin)

As you all know, I have been slacking a bit so no picture here.  Now that I have upgraded my cell phone and the plan, too, I might just be able to do better at taking pictures - impromptu. 

I love Lancaster but don't wear the bumper sticker on my car or bike.  I fantasize we are the baby city of big Apple and my dream came true over the weekend.  At Sukara, I think the best sushi place in the whole county, I had fresh Uni.  It was a Saturday where I was scheduled at the office.  I caught up on my work when the day's real work must have spread amongst my colleagues also working on a beautiful weekend on the East Coast in December.  I was determined to have a mug of beer at Iron Hill - and did so when released from my duties.  They do a fabulous job at being consistent with their batches of beer.  Of course I had a Belgian Tripel and I was set.

Having a late lunch did not leave much room for dinner so when we when to Sakura, with the air of a Belgian, I was game for something light and different.  The wait staff know us a mile away and he barely told us the specials and I say; "Why not?!"  Then I asked, what is Uni?  Sure, okay.  Again, why not.

Being a fan of Bourdain, I felt like I was in one of his shows when the Uni arrived (it must have been the Belgian).  It was fresh, they said it was alive (I was a little freaked as we did just watch Bourdain in Brooklyn at this awesome Thai "Asian" restaurant called Pok Pok NY but their seafood was still moving - at least the Uni was not - that I could tell).  Renown "Asian" chef, Eddie Huang, talked about "Gringo chefs doing Asian Food" especially those that win James Beard awards - doing "Asian Food".  How authentic can they be?! Huang goes in thinking those chefs suck and he ended up loving Pok Pok NY...  As I was saying, I felt like I was in an episode of No Reservations in Lancaster City - Pennsylvania.

I ate the Uni without soy sauce and wasbi to get the full taste and it was fragrant and a bit slimy but good.  It was served in it's shell on a bed of ice as part of the presentation with some of the spikes still moving.  Not sure that I would order it again but was honored to partake in Sakura's adventure of offering something different and fun for my palate. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Rejuvenate, Recharge and Verboten

I took Thanksgiving eve off from work to do whatever.  Initially a day of relaxation almost became a day of cookie baking frenzie.  Thrilled to spend the day with my niece baking cookies, I decided to do a test run on Sunday and discovered we might need more than one day for baking.  I went through my recipe book and I realized I haven't made any cookies other than Toll House chocolate chips and variations with oatmeal, cranberries or nuts.  I flipped through my Saveur magazines and they too, were limited with cookie recipes so I relied on the internet.

The list of cookies I chose included:
Rich Chocolate Rum Cookies (Gourmet, 9/1996)
World Peace/Korova Cookies (Paris Sweets - Great Desserts from the City's Best Pastry Shops, 2002)
Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate-Chunk Oatmeal Cookies with Pecans and Dried Cherries
Snickerdoodles (Saveur)
Vanillekipferl (Saveur, 12/2010)
White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies (Saveur, 12/2012)
Peanut Butter Cookies (Saveur, 10/2012)

Then I forgot I needed to make a fruit salad, prep broccoli and I wanted to bake a cake (from scratch) for Thanksgiving.  For the next two days I shopped for the ingredients and gathered pans from a friend.  Since I created a potentially hectic cookie baking day, I decided to make some cookies doughs Tuesday night to limit the frenzie.  I researched the potential freezability of the doughs and that is how I picked some of the cookies, too.  My niece ended up going to a sleepover with friends Tuesday night, rescheduling our cookie date.  I was glad and disappointed at the same time.

Thanksgiving eve was again my day to relax.  I still made some doughs, rolled them into logs and froze them for our December date.  Did some charitable work, checked in online, rode the Schwinn to market for two dozen eggs and a Weyerbacher Verboten from The Fridge and then rode home and made a Hummingbird Cake (Saveur).
 I spent the evening closing The Fridge with Brad and some friends.  Earlier in the day the owners unfortunately told me the keg in waiting when the Verboten kicked was Duvel; Brad's favorite beer.  One Verboten after another led to three or four and Thanksgiving fuzziness.  Duvel was tapped that night but thankfully I was out of cash.  Hopefully we will return for Duvel before we head downtown on Black Friday evening for the Christmas tree lighting.  Happy Thanksgiving all.  

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Burgers for Breakfast

What can I say?  Gearing up for winter by pulling out the air conditioners, doing some laundry, pulling weeds, raking leaves, maintaining the grills and the next thing I know, I want burgers for breakfast.  Gotta love the smell of a grill being fired up.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fish & Chips

Sorry, I was too hungry and forgot to take pictures of our humble but fantastic dinner of Britain's famous meal. I think what makes fish & chips really good here and in Ireland is the fish and oil are fresh, and the batter is light but crisp.  It probably helps if you get the fish & chips from just a fish & chips shop, too. That is what they specialize in along with anything else fried.  Our restaurants at home don't even touch the flavors and freshness of what I have had so far in the UK.  Although the chips usually aren't fresh cut potatoes, for some reason they are just fine.  Everything gets wrapped up in paper and even with a bit of moisture, the batter on the fish holds up well.  The shop asked if we want it showered in salt & vinegar before it is all wrapped up and we say yes! with excitement.

We drove into Frimley as the Wednesday fish truck was not in the neighborhood.  Dale and I popped into the Railway Arms for half pints of Youngs Special Ale as we waited for our cod & chips order.  When we arrived for our takeaway in the steady rain, there were three other customers.  After our half pints in the slightly dodgy pub, the fish and chips shop was jammed with customers.  Other items they fry are real chicken nuggets, sausages, saveloy (a highly seasoned sausage common in English fry shops) and other fish like haddock, skate and roe.

I actually found the link for the fish & chips shop while writing this post.  Their description of why their food is so good was a guess on my part from devouring it last night.  Kims Plaice is exactly where we got our takeaway and the gentleman in the picture is who served us up with a smile and a laugh.  Brilliant!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Surrey, England with the Bemis's

I have been in England since Thursday visiting the most fabulous couple in the world.  I have been playing house in Surrey County and it is really hard.  We are packing and cleaning for the upcoming move to another home in the County.  To gear up for the week, we relaxed at a few gastro pubs.  These pubs still have the feel of pubs but they also have sections that have the feel of fine dining.  This past weekend we had a quick dinner at the Horse & Groom in Guildford while Nathan was fencing.  Cory and I had pizzas and Dale ate the Chicken and Leek pie.  Local ingredients are big over here, too, so everything was made fresh and the pizzas were similar to our artisan pizzas in the states.  And it happens to be Cask Ale week ~ how convenient.  28 September to 7 October.  Our pints were Red Fox, Doombar & Bombardier. 

Saturday, with a full moon, we did the mountain bike pub ride (or race if Cory is leading).  We had dinner (fish & chips!!) and pints at the Rose and Thistle.  We rode to the Olde Wheatsheaf, Ye Olde White Hart, then the Embers Inn's Crab & Dragon.   All the beers I drank were traditional English cask red ales.  When Dale reports home from work, he will have to fill me in on the pints we had.  I know we had Young's Special Ale, Doombar and Nichols.

Okay, I need to get back to packing ~ maybe I will have to open a bottle as I am knackered and hoping for some cask ales later.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Music Fridays Downtown Lancaster

We rode the pub bikes downtown for music Friday.  Every third Friday of the month musicians fill businesses, restaurants and the streets of Lancaster with wonderful sounds.  The humidity of summer broke last week so the weather has been glorious with sunshine and breezes.  Pour on Prince posted on facebook they tapped one of our favorite beers, tripel karmeliet so Brad winds us through the streets of Lancaster to enjoy a short jaunt on the bikes.  We sat outside on the patio devouring duck fat fries drinking a tripel karmeliet.  An hour later, we rode two blocks to Carr's and there in the alley of Central Market was heaven; great food, drink and music.  Carr's developed a wonderful relationship with Sakura, a Japanese restaurant that has the best sushi in town and they had a portable sushi bar set up for the evening.  With a couple of Hennipens with three plates of sushi and music from two of the musicians from Vinegar Creek Constituency, we were set for a fabulous evening downtown.  They played some Dylan, Blue Grassy, Old Tyme music.  Life is good.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Checkers Bistro

Awesome; I have jury duty for three days!!  Got laptop and ESPN so I am set in the juror's lounge for  now.  Already ate all my granola bars by 10 a.m. so I had to buy a dry soft pretzel from the courthouse cafe.

Time to blog...  And dream about the fabulous meal I had Friday night at Checkers Bistro .  I am assuming David Payne was working in the kitchen as the cod was made to perfection with an Asian glaze. He made a cod melt in my mouth like Sea Bass.  The oyster mushrooms were tasty, asparagus crisp and the wide rice noodles rolled into chewy tubes that were made with the same Asian glaze that had a bit of a kick to it.  YUM!  And I almost forgot about my tomato almond bisque.  Amazing and these were the specials for the evening.  You can count on an excellent meal every time at Checkers Bistro.  Carr's Restaurant & Crush Wine Bar is the same way. You can never go wrong with what is on the menu or the specials.  The best two restaurants in Lancaster City.  Come on downtown and enjoy!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Smith Island Cake

In May, I attempted to make a Smith Island Cake which has made Smith Island, Maryland, famous.  Saveur magazine has again afforded me with a wonderful recipe that I was able to mess up for the good (ended up add too much butter). It is an eight layer cake that I don't have the patience to slice the layers so when I read that I should bake the cakes in four pans at a time made perfect sense.  Brilliant!! I would have chopped the cake to shreds instead of slicing it.  I had so much fun and overloaded on a lot of sugar as I made the frosting, too.  All natural!  It did not look as professional with a "flat" top to the cake but it sure tasted really good even though I added an extra stick of butter in the batter (I am a space cadet with math).

24 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pans
3 1/2 cups flour, plus more for pans
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 1/4 cups sugar
2 cups milk
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
6 eggs

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Comfort of Soup

Life happens or can take over and it had for a few months. I have regained some of my normalcy and finally had a good weekend and I think I can credit it to being able to cook soups, dig in the garden and ride my bike.

Yesterday was a perfect day to be prepping for the week with our meals except we are pretty good plowing through them quickly. With the ease of buying broth in cans or cardboard, making soup is easy. Although, it can get costly. One has the option of bouillon cubes but they tend to have either MSG or partially-hydrogenated oils. Lately, I have fallen back on the old fashion, make my own, vegetable stock and it has turned out great.

In a 16 quart, stainless steel stock pot made in the USA, I had about 12 quarts of water, two chopped carrots, one large onion-chopped, one stalk of bok choy, four smashed garlic gloves, green part of two leeks (not the white part - I use that for stir frys and not the end, too tough) and salt and pepper. I brought it to a boil then let it simmer for hours because I had other stuff to do. I split the soup stock and made an Asian noodle soup and my mainstay mushroom barley soup.
What is great about making soups is you do not have to measure anything. I did not use a recipe for the Asian noodle soup. I sauteed about a pound of chopped bok choy (leaves and white stems) in olive oil and a little sesame oil with three garlic cloves, shittake mushrooms, and some carrots for color. I brought the stock to a boil and added the dry soba noodles. Once the noodles were al dente, I added the bok choy, stir-fry. I love a great noodle soup.
Mushroom barley is a great comfort food, too. The first time I made this soup, I followed Zingerman's Ann Arbor recipe from I am not a fan of celery or parsley so I leave those out and add about a half cup of shittake mushrooms and the liquid after rehydrating them for the soup. I pass on the flour, use butter or olive oil to saute the veggies and use a vegetable stock, too. Brad loves those dill pickles so I save those jars to keep my soups in if there is any left over.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Swedish Pancakes ~ again

I posted this recipe in 2007 and here it is again to get me started on blogging again. I should be studying for my comprehensive exams but I am very good at procrastinating. I let the mix marinate overnight. It is oh, so good with real maple syrup and fried in a pan of butter.

This is the the same recipe but doubled. I use the 8 quart, Pampered Chef measuring bowl. One of my favorites along with their cooking stone I use for pizza & nachos.

4 cups of rolled oats
1 cup of flour
1/4 cup of sugar (I usually don't have white sugar so I use brown or honey)
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 cups of buttermilk (Maplehofe's)
4 eggs, beaten
1 stick of butter
2 tsp vanilla

Look at them oats! Hmmm.