Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gingerbread NYC Style - Gingerbread Brownstone

This is a wonderful post I saw on Facebook today (posted by Etsy) that give instructions on how to make a Gingerbread Brownstone.

Enjoy and share if you give it a go!

Build a Gingerbread Brownstone
By: kitchentablescraps

Holy crap!  This is awesome!!

And...she lights up!

Photos borrowed from to show just how awesome this house is.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

London Fog in NYC

Starbucks had a drink a few years back they called a London Fog.  It was an Early Grey tea with extra bergamont, vanilla and lavender added made latte style.  It was sweet, floral, deep and warming all at the same time.  It reminded you of the chill of London on a a crisp fall morning.  Ah...perfection!

They have since gotten rid of it (as all good hot tea drinks get removed) and replaced it what what they call an Earl Grey Latte (simple as it sounds, Earl Grey with steamed milk...exciting, I know).  It's still tasty, but not the same thing.

I was heart broken and lost without my London Fog, but after 2 years, I have been able to successfully recreate it at home (for the most part).  This has become my afternoon work tea.  It's a little more special than my morning cuppa with its heafty perfume bergamont (achieved by using DOUBLE Bergamont Earl Grey) and soothing lavender, but unlike an herbal concoction, this cup of tea helps me with that afternoon lul by giving me the kick of caffinated black tea and a small sugar rush.

One more quick note - Not everyone is an Earl Grey fan - me included!  That said, the combination of milk and lavender help to mellow the bitterness that can come from Earl Grey and really round out the flavors.

Try it once and I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I do.

Mackey London Fog
(I love the name too much to give it up, and besides, Starbucks doesn't serve it anymore)

1 teabag Stash Double Bergamont Earl Grey
1 teaspoon Lavender (must be labeled for cooking/tea)
3-5  tablespoons milk (to taste)
sugar (to taste)
Tea Ball or Loose Teabag filter (Telia is a good one)

Open tea bag of Earl Grey and empty into tea ball or loose tea filter.  Add lavender.   Close tea ball or tie off filter.

Fill mug with boiling water.  Add milk and sugar.  For this step it's really to taste - the drink should have latte consistency, nice and milky, so if you added more water, you might need more milk.  The amount of sugar you use is also to your personal taste.  I would say start with what you normally add and plan on adding a little more.  You want the drink a touch sweeter than you are used to.

Since the tea bag contains lavender, you will need to steep it a bit longer than you usually would.  I'm sure I would get raked across the coals by tea aficionados, but I usually leave the tea bag in for most of the time it takes me to drink the cup.  I don't like how Earl Grey gets bitter (the lavender and milk helps to put that off here), so when I start to taste the bitter coming, I remove the tea bag.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Last Few Days of September...

When I think of September, a bright red apple comes to mind.  There is a slight crispness in the air and school is back in full swing.  The leaves haven't turned yet, but football is in the field and on the TV and chili is on the stove.

But in recent memory, September is just as balmy and hot as August.  The AC is still on overnight and it's way to hot to make apple pie in my kitchen (aka The Hot Box).  Grrr...where have my cool September days gone?

This weekend, even though it was 80 degrees in my area of New York, I was able to catch a breeze (aided by an electric fan) and curl up on my couch and break open a fall harvest book with a warm cup of cider and imagine what I would be doing for October (the time when it will get really crisp and chilly).  My book of choice this weekend?  Homemade Harvest by Gooseberry Patch.

Gooseberry Patch was founded in 1984 by Vickie Hutchins and Jo Ann Martin, two women who loved sharing recipes.  They have created a wonderful line of cookbooks (mainly) that are compilations of submission from others who love to share their recipes from all over the country.  They each carry a theme, memories and stories about that theme and/or recipe along with tips and tricks from the staff at Gooseberry Patch.

My first encounter with Gooseberry Patch was Homemade Harvest.  This beautifully simple spiral bound book has beautiful illustrations and fall inspired recipes and crafts.  It covers soups and breads, suppers and a section that focuses exclusively on Halloween.  There is a chapter called Fall Festival Favorites, but it's mainly Friday Night Lights and tailgating friendly recipes and stories and another section that prepares you for a camp out or your next night beside the fire pit (for those of us that don't camp).  There is also a section on fall breakfasts full of eggs, sausage and pumpkins - YUM!

I spend the later half of Saturday afternoon reading this book from cover to cover.  If definitely put me in the fall mood, even if the thermometer was trying to convince me it was still Summer.  I'm sure that everyone could find at least one recipe or craft to try at home.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The First Annual NYC Honey Festival - An Afternoon in Rockaway

So I pick up my most recent edition of Edible Queens and I see an ad for the First Annual New York City Honey Festival on September 17th.  What fun!  I love honey and it would be awesome to spend the day at Rockaway Beach and taste local honey.

I think a lot of people had the same idea we did.  We showed up at about 2:30pm and the place had almost run out of honey already.  Sad, but we did each get a small jar of local honey before the supplies were depleted.  We checked out the vendors which included the likes of NY Bee Keeping advocates and local farmers.  There was a pickle vendor (Horman's Best Pickles), a HOT honey vendor (Mike's Hot Honey), two honey based craft beers (Six Point Brewery) and screen print your own bee hive t-shirts.  There was also a tasting/ranking of your favorite honeys.

We ate at Ode to the Elephant (Thai food) and AND Coffee (the BEST Hot Chocolate I've had out in a while, though they were out of marshmallows) both located in the Rockaway Beach Club (aka the NY State Park pavilion on the boardwalk).

The weather was perfect, the location was beautiful, the festival was educational and fun but the only thing missing was Stella, my sister's pup.  She would have had a blast with all the sand, surf and bees.

These hard workers didn't stop to wave to the crowds.

NY State has approved bee keeping the the boroughs -
roof tops of Brooklyn, here they come!

This poor little guys just didn't want to let go!

Honey Extraction - scrapping the wax from the comb to
get that beautiful golden liquid from its caves

The difference between a dark, amber looking honey (late season)
and a pale, golden honey (mid summer).  You can see the light color
on the top of the light wood and the dark combs in the metal racks.

No rest for these busy bees...haha...get it?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Kiss the Cook - My Ode to Nigella Lawson

During my class, one of our assignments was to write a short description of a TV personality. I chose my culinary idol, Nigella Lawson. Enjoy...

A medieval and modern language student gone cook (via food writing for The Sunday Telegraph and The New York Times), this British Cookbook author and TV personality is deemed The Domestic Goddess by her fans and the press alike. Nigella Lawson’s classic beauty and use of sensual (and at times seductive) descriptions for the simplest of ingredients puts her at the top of the list of cooks you'd want to kiss.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Special Diet? No Problem! No Special Diet? Not to Miss! Pala Pizza

Vegan and gluten free are not restrictions in my diet. I'm a NY style extra cheese slice kind of girl, but my recent meal at Pala Pizza just might turn me.

Pala Pizza, located on Allen Street just south of Houston, is a modern rustic style pizzeria catering to both the gluten free and vegan communities. The atmosphere is one of clean lines and warm tones. Exposed brick walls and dried herb centerpieces the industrial looking open kitchen area.

My dinner mates each had different restrictions - one vegan, one gluten free and all three vegetarian. As the only bread eating carnivore at the table, I can tell you, I wasn't want for a thing.

We started the meal with the handmade potato chips (simple but truly tasty) and also tried the zucca antipasto, a oven roasted mix of butternut squash, onions, green peas, basil and raisins (though my taste buds tell me they were cherries - yummy non the less).

Then came the pizzas. They offer gluten free crusts and go as far as to not use the same oven to bake their wheat based brethren. First I will answer the question that all gluten consuming readers are asking - what is a gluten free pizza base? It’s a mix of garbanzo beans, tapioca, fava beans, potatoes, rice, and white sorghum flours and it’s amazing. The crunch was reminiscent of the perfect thin crust pizza but it didn't carry any of the dryness that can so easily come with achieving that crust. Another bonus - where the sauce was, the crust wasn't soggy. The gluten free crust doesn't soak up the moisture of a fresh sauce/tomato that ordinary yeast based crusts do.

We ordered a romana and an arrabiata. The romana included field mushrooms, tomato sauce, daiya cheese (soy and dairy free “cheese” made from plant based (cassava) ingredients) and fresh parsley. The second "pie" was fresh cherry tomatoes, hot pepper, garlic, and more daiya cheese.  

A simple glass of Syrah served in a casual stemless glass rounded out the meal for the perfect pizza night out.

So, maybe I won't turn on my carnivorous and gluten full lifestyle, I would recommend Pala to anyone looking for a great atmosphere and an even better pie.

Pala Pizza
198 Allen Street
New York, NY 10002

M-Th 4pm-12am
F 4pm-1am
Sa 12pm-1am
Su 12pm-12am

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Over 100 Years of the Hamburger Sandwich

New Haven, CT, is the home to Yale University, Peabody Museum of Natural History, and more importantly, Louis' Lunch.

Since 1895, Louis' Lunch has been making the Hamburger Sandwich. This historic sandwich consists of a medallion of prime meat, cooked to medium rare perfection, sandwiched between two pieces of white bread, toasted in toasters also original to the kitchen. Though simple in construction, it was one of the best “fast food” burgers I had tasted. The flavor was fresh and reminiscent of burgers that came off the backyard BBQ, cooked with love by my father, the man who taught me what medium rare really means.

You, of course, can customize your burger. They are willing to cook it a little longer and add onions, cheese and/or tomatoes, but one thing they will not do for you…add ketchup! Louis’ Lunch has been a no ketchup zone for over 100 years and they are very proud of it!

The original hamburger sandwich – burger and cheese only (pictured)

The rest of the menu is just as simple and straight forward as the burgers. You can add a soda, water, or one of the local brew flavors from Foxan Soda. There are bags of potato chips to accompany your burger or a Styrofoam cup full of amazing housemade potato salad.

Potatoes, hard boiled eggs, a touch of mayonnaise, chives and the perfect amount of salt

Their menu lists desserts, but, honestly, after the burger and the potato salad, there wasn’t room for me for their tempting treats (a list of which includes homemade pie). This is rare, so next time…I promise!

Louis’ Lunch is open Tuesday through Saturday. Get there anytime between 11:00 am and 3:45 pm Tuesday and Wednesday, and feel free to be a bit lazier Thursday through Saturday since they are open noon – 2:00 am.

Louis’ Lunch
261-263 Crown Street
New Haven, CT 06511-6611
(203) 562-5507

Thursday, June 23, 2011

My Third and Final Assignment in the Series - Describe the Taste of a Food Item

Here goes...

My Goodburger Burger

Warm and cool. Sweet and savory. Creamy and crumbly. Smoky and sharp. Tart and mellow. Meaty and bready.

Red onions, dill pickles, cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, medium rare ground meat and a toasted bun. Yum!

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Second Assignment (After Class Feedback) - Describe the Smell of a Food Item

Assignment #2 - I kind of missed the mark with the smell, but it's still a pretty good story to read. 

The Doughnut...

The raw, flour scented dough is something unspectacular until it meets the unassuming, unflavored hot oil. Once the two meet, the air fills with the scents of vanilla and butter. After 30 seconds, the scent of crisp, sweet bread is added to the mix and in a final 30 seconds, the circle of once raw, tasteless, limp dough is a fully cooked, sturdy cake scented slightly with honey, surely evoked by the beautiful golden color of the ring.

It falls off the tray, too hot to be touched and rests while the bath of powdered sugar and cinnamon await it. Once cool enough to touch, it is thrown mercilessly into its awaiting power cover. The heat of the now cooked hoop lets loose the spice and sweet of its coating, melting the super fine sugar powder creating a perfect glaze. Waiting with its circular brethren, it sits emanating its sweet vanilla and spice aromatherapy, ready to be enjoyed.

Cider Doughnuts c/o The Web

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My First Assignment (After Class Feedback) - Describe the Look of a Food Item

Assignment #1 - Write a description of the look of a food without using what it is to describe it - e.g.don't use the word spaghetti to describe spaghetti.

Millionaire’s Shortbread

This sweet treat is three layers of comforting brown tones.  The golden base invokes memories of sandcastles with its crumbly and moist texture but solid foundation.  The top layer is a rich, dark brown which is smooth on top and chiseled on the sides like a an unfinished marble work of art. Sandwiched between these two solid layers is an amber colored gooey layer of goodness.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Next Adventure - Professional Food Writing Course

I work at a college for my day job.  This has certain benefits - Summer Fridays off, "student" discounts, and, of course, free classes.  The school I work at is known for it's arts and social awareness curriculum.  I took an interior design course (to help me actually decorate our apartment) but that was for students a bit more serious than I.

That was Fall of 2009.  With an engagement, wedding, and LOTS of work, I had not jumped back into the classroom.  This was until I looked further into our Food Studies program.  I'm not so interested in sustainable farming, but I did find a few day courses that intrigued me.  There was a class about launching and marketing your specialty food product and two classes that had to do with writing and publishing - one about professional food writing and the other about getting a cookbook published.  They were amazing and helped me to realize that: A. I love food and talking about food, and B. I could do any of the above and be successful at it (I think).

I have had this blog living a thin life for the past 3 years, and though I love it, had not had the discipline nor direction to truly make it something.  In comes a full 15 session course on professional food writing from the Food Studies program. Though I loved my 1 day classes that gave me a bit of knowledge and know-how, this was the opportunity to learn from those that are in the business (and are successful at it) and almost more importantly, practice by force writing every week 2-3 times (and more, I hope). 

This is the long explanation of the short statement - you can look forward to reading my homework assignments and following me on my journey to get publish (and get paid - that's the goal!).

Now for kudos - my professor's name is Andrew F. Smith and has been in the business for years.  Here are links to his two most recent releases:
If you want to follow me on my journey, I would suggest obtaining the following 2 books (most of my assignments are in these books, so I'll talk about the a lot):
And now a toast - Here's to new adventures, being good at them, and getting paid for them ( day...)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My New Toy - A Cuisinart Food Processor

One of the gifts we received for our wedding was the Custom 14 Cuisinart food processor. SOOOO Pretty!  It has a 14 cup capacity in a stainless steel robe.  Oh...the places we will go!

And this is what I made with her...


When my husband and I were on our Honeymoon, we fell in love with savory pies.  Cornish Pasties is one of the most common of the savory pies.  Their history is connected with the mine workers in Cornwall.  Their wives would make them hand held pastries with meat, onions, and a root vegetable (potatoes, carrots, and/or parsnips usually).  They had a thick crust/rim so that they could hold them with their dusty hands and not touch the part that they planned on eating.

The pastry is a very simple butter and flour crust and my new food processor was the perfect tool to try them with.

My new toy in her new home

There are a lot of recipes for this savory pastry dough, but the ingredients are all the same - flour, butter, salt and ice water.

2 perfect balls of buttery dough, ready for a chill in the fridge

The filling recipes range from ground lamb to cubed meat with the veg and starch.  I went with finely chopped chuck steak, carrots, onion and potatoes.  Best mix, I think!

Next time - an egg or milk wash

Flaky and Tasty!

I downloaded the free Christmas excerpt for the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook.  The first recipe was for Cornish Pasties.  I can't wait to try the recipes I've found in 3 other cookbooks I own: How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson, The Tea & Sympathy Cookbook, and the William Sonoma London cookbook.

Snowman Pancakes - Simple and Fun!

photo: Non-Foodie Foodie Over the summer we traveled the Ohio River Valley visiting family. One of our stops was to visit my Aunt Cathy...