After falling off of the update-your-blog wagon, I’m now back! And hopefully with a New Year’s resolution banking on it, I won’t be forgetting again anytime soon. =)
To (re)kick things off, here’s everything I baked this Christmas. I decided to focus on quality this year and downed the quantity (normally I bake 10-15 items at Christmas, this year was 7) and I think it really worked! Or my baking skills have gotten better. Or a little bit of both.
My 2 favorite things this year were the Salted Caramel Apple Tart and the Chocolate Mousse Cake. The donuts were also really good and I was glad to see my newly purchased donut pans work so well (who needs fried?). The only thing I wasn’t super happy with was the Chocolate-Cherry Bread; it was fine, but it also reminded me of my longer-term goal of improving my bread baking skills.
That’s it for now! Here’s to more updates soon! ^_^
It’s soft-shell crab season again and I’m looking forward to eating one soon. But more than that, don’t you think one of these guys would make a cute pet? =)
Elementary school lunches have gotten way better since I was a kid. There’s roast chicken, rice and beans, a salad, and sweet plantains. And it was all pretty delicious. Insanity!
Though I still miss my tater tots…
Thanks to the promotional powers of a Grouponesque site, I recently found myself redeeming a coupon (on its expiration date no less…whoops!) I had paid for at Raffeto’s, a fresh pasta shop down in the Village. Here’s what I got:
This glorious pyramid of green is 12 fresh ravioli that I lightly dressed in some bottled pesto I had. The ravioli are made with spinach pasta and have an artichoke meat filling inside and are absolutely delicious. Light, but satisfying and fresh tasting. The 12 were perfect for splitting between 2 people with a little shaved parmesan on top.
Now when I had first read up on Raffeto’s and what they offered I was intrigued to see that they have a wide variety of flavored pastas, the most interesting to me being their chocolate pasta. I’ve heard of chocolate pasta before, but have never had the chance to try it. The thing is, I wasn’t really willing to just buy a pound of it since I don’t really have any earthly idea what to do with/how to serve chocolate pasta.
Luckily, however, Raffeto’s wiped that conundrum away with this, a chocolate pasta dessert kugel. See how you can see the chocolate noodles interlaced in this block of eggy goodness? The dish is sweet enough to be a dessert, but it really isn’t that sweet overall. The chocolate pasta is such an interesting experience - tastes chocolatey but has the completely disjointing texture of pasta. Like I said, it isn’t all that sweet, which made this to overall be a very enjoyable dessert for me. I’m wondering if there was cinnamon (another fav of mine) in it.
I also got a chunk of smoked mootz, which I knew was going to be delicious since I love smoked cheese in general. This one had a potent smoky flavor, but I obviously still enjoyed it since I ate it before I could remember to take a picture!
This past Wednesday was Slurpfree Day aka Free Slurpee Day at 7-11!! And since they opened a 7-11 a few blocks from where I work, a couple of us went to get them during our afternoon energy slump (~3pm).
I’ve loved slurpees ever since I was a kid and my dad would get me one after every horrible orthodontist visit. I think this Slurpfree day was celebrating their new sugarfree slurpees, but the only flavor they have that in is mango, which I’m not really a fan of, so I got my old standby, a mix of the cherry and Coca-Cola flavors. Just as refreshing as I always remembered it. =)
Also, can you tell I got a camera filter app (not Instagram) on my phone and wanted to play around with it? =P
Hammer ‘Hammy’ the Hambone
In addition to cooking and baking, crafting is one of my other hobbies and for my latest craft project, I combined the 2! Hammy is made of felt and felt-like fabrics, embroidery thread, and a button. This is entirely handsewn and it’s probably about 2 feet long from the tip of the bone to the front. It probably took me the course of a month to make, but that’s with the distractions of life added in; if I hadn’t been as busy I probably could have finished it within a week or so.
The idea for this project actually came about a few years ago when someone sent me a link to a website that makes and sells assorted stuffed cuts of meat, including a hambone. Over the years I sent the link to various people in my life telling them to get it for me, but I think they all thought I was joking. So eventually I decided to just make it myself, which has the added benefits of being more cost-efficient and I made mine bigger than the one online. Mine is slimmer, which I waver on whether that’s a good or bad thing.
It’s quite squishy and I think it’s super cute. Now I just have to figure out what to do with the leftover fabric I have…
I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to be writing about Smorgasburg because that means I was finally able to go!
Smorgasburg is an offshoot of the Brooklyn Flea [market] that centers solely on food and is held every Saturday in the spring/summer/fall in Williamsburg aka hipsterville. There were dozens of vendors selling all sorts of food, both ready-to-eat and prepackaged. We went to basically make a massive lunch sharing time out of it.
Luckily we went a couple of weeks ago when the weather was a bit misty and not all that sunny. That normally would be a bummer, but I think it saved us from some potentially long lines at the booths!
The first thing we ate was a gordita with angus barbacoa from the Cemita’s stand. My only experience prior to this with a gordita was from Taco Bell so I obviously didn’t know what to expect. What we ended up with was a delicious sandwich of barbequed beef stuffed into a crispy fried shell with lettuce and cheese. Yum!
When you first look at the Handsome Hank’s Fish Hut menu, you wonder if $10 isn’t just a little expensive for some fish and chips. Then you get said fish and chips and realize that it is a truly ginormous portion of food. There are 3 huge strips of fish in that paper container. And their sauce, which is not a completely traditional tartar sauce, was dynamite. I’m actually getting really hungry remembering this one.
Even though we drank and finished a bottle of water with the fish and chips, I was still really thirsty afterwards. Luckily, the Brooklyn Soda Works was there and they were giving samples of flavors so you could try before committing to buy a whole cup! This proved especially fortuitous because I got to try their apple and ginger flavor, which I was initially hesitant about since most artisanal ginger sodas tend to be too potent for me, but this one was actually very good and appley. So we got that and it was refreshing indeed.
The Cookie Guild makes, as the sign proudly proclaims, beer cookies. They are cookies flavored with beer that supposedly still taste quite a bit like the beer even though the alcohol has cooked off. Now I do not drink beer because it tastes gross to me. My other half, however, does and really wanted to try 2 of their beer cookie flavors. I think I had a piece of one cookie and it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t particularly good either. I’m sure there are plenty of beer loving people who enjoy their cookies. I do think it’s a cool concept.
SMORES! OM NOM NOM. Smores with homemade graham crackers and homemade marshmallows? OM NOM NOM NOM. Smores with all of that and salty caramel instead of chocolate? OM NOM NOM NOM NOM. I almost wanted to go back for another one, but at this point we were really stuffed. Isn’t that little torch the guy is using to toast the marshmallows cute?
And finally, speaking of cute I had to share this picture of a couple of dogs that were at Smorgsaburg because I want to own them. Except that they’re a bit big. So maybe smaller versions of them. They’re old English sheepdogs, which are even cuter when their hair is longer. =)
If you’ll remember my Chinese New Year post from earlier in the year, one of the dishes we made was shrimp rangoons (which are essentially a type of dumpling) and I promised a more in-depth look at the process. Here it (finally) is!
All of the ingredients and tools, including a paint brush for dabbing on the egg to seal the rangoons.
A stack of standard round dumpling wrappers, which are now more commonly available in your local supermarket and not just the Asian grocery store.
The filling was composed of shrimp, cream cheese, and chives. A little egg is then brushed on the edges and then the rangoon is folded into one of two shapes:
The first shape is your standard dumpling look…
…while the second is modeled after a Chinese golden nugget, which is a good luck symbol especially around New Year.
The prepared rangoons ready to be cooked!
A batch frying in canola oil. They take about 4-5 minutes to cook. One flip halfway through and then they’re done!
The finished rangoons.
I love rangoons. Since they’re pretty easy to make, you can alter the filling to suit your tastes and you’ll no longer be confined to the Chinese take-out standard crab rangoons!
I first had these pancakes over a year ago at a friend’s place (thanks Amy!) and I loved them so much that the next time I went to H Mart (land of all things Korean) I searched out a mix for them. Ho Duk (or as the manufacturer spells it, Hotteok) are sweet pancakes with a brown sugar syrupy filling inside. They’re delicious!
Here’s the box of mix or, more accurately, the 2 boxes of mix. Isn’t that cartoon chef on the back cute? I decided to go with a mix on this since it already has such an involved assembly process and I don’t know much of anything about Korean sweets.
Here’s the dough in the bowl. It’s a yeasty dough, though it doesn’t sit longer than 5 minutes. If you look at the sides of the bowl, you can also see that it’s a stick dough.
Here’s the filling! I think it’s some sort of brown sugar mix, which later melts when you cook the pancakes and turns into the syrup you bite into.
The assembled pancakes. You take a pat of dough, flatten it, spoon some of the filling mix into the middle, and then close up the pancake. The dough is sticky enough to seal without water or egg. Next step: pan fry!
See? I said it was sticky!!
Here’s a plate of finished pancakes! Don’t they look delicious? The dough is crisp on the outside but still plenty doughy on the inside. And further inside…
…is the sweet filling! Om nom nom. If you look closely you can not only see the syrupy part, but the peanut pieces that are also inside the filling mixture.