New York : a food list.

Ah, New York.

We came, we saw, we ate.

Then we ate some more.

Originally I had not intended to blog about our trip, hence the lack of relevant photos. This post is more of a personal reminder for me to revisit certain places I enjoyed so much during my two weeks there. Comments, suggestions (for future vacations) or opinions, most welcome.

Favourite Stores :

- Kalustyan’s – Home to every imaginable spice in existence, and more : Argan oil, pumpkin powder, candied fennel seeds, rhubarb bitters, molasses sugar, white honey.
- New York Cake – The ultimate baking supply store. I want to buy the entire store and call it my kitchen.
- Economy Candy – Sure, you can inhale a similar amount of sugar at Dylan’s Candy Bar but there’s something about Economy Candy’s sheer quantity of sweets and chocolates crammed into an impossibly small space that makes it feel extra special.
- Zabar’s – 20,000 square feet of yum.
- Strand Bookstore – If there’s any spare change left after the New York Cake purchase, I’d buy the Strand and call it my library.
(Special mention to Wholefoods)

Favourite Restaurants :

- Blue Hill at Stone Barns – Everyone seems to be jumping on the organic, sustainable and seasonal produce band wagon these days, but Dan Barber stands out amongst the crowd as someone who is truly putting these things into practice whilst delivering dishes with flavour and elegance.
- Le Benardin – Perfectly executed seafood dishes followed by balanced and thoughtful desserts by pastry chef Michael Laiskonis. Surprisingly not a restaurant that features on most of my friends’ eating radars.
- Momofuku Ssäm Bar – Pork buns, roasted rice cakes with spicy sausage, and afterwards, a quick visit to the Milk Bar next door for a sugar fix. Note to self : next time, must find 6 friends to have the bo ssäm with.
- Torrisi Italian Specialities – $50 for 4 courses showcasing amazing new Italian-American food. Don’t skip the devil’s chicken if it’s on the menu.
(Special mention to Chikalicious Dessert Bar, Caracas and Katz’s Deli)

Favourite Coffee :
(Note to self : going from 0 coffees a week to 7-8 cups is a very very bad idea).

- Zibetto
- La Colombe Torrefaction
- Stumptown at the Ace Hotel

Favourite Bakery :

- Shandaken Bake – If you happen to visit the New Amsterdam Market, look out for Craig Thompson’s gorgeous little stall selling the best ever apple pies and fruit tarts. According to season or whim, you may also be lucky enough to find other delicious treasures for sale, such as moist and nutty parsnip bread, made in the style of banana bread.
- Bouchon Bakery – For linzer cookies sprinkled with raspberry powder to temper their sweetness, chewy oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies, and TKO, their version of the Oreo consisting of chocolate sable pastry sandwiched with white chocolate ganache.
- Baked – Home to Brookies (a delicious brownie cookie hybrid), salt and pepper cookies, and the best brownies.
- Babycakes NYC – Vegan, gluten-free and mostly organic baked goods that are a far cry from most vegan sweets I’ve tasted in the past. A visit with Aran to this bakery inspired me to finally buy their cookbook. Their caramel crunch donuts are only marginally surpassed by San Francisco’s Pepples Donuts (also vegan).
(Special mention to Liddabit Sweets’ apple cider caramels and pecan pie chocolate bar.)

Favourite Markets :

- New Amsterdam Market – For hot cider, Luke’s Lobster rolls, Porchetta sandwiches, Liddabit Sweets, and the best apple pie you’ll ever eat.
- Union Square Greenmarket – For more hot cider (because some people can’t seem to get enough of the stuff) and an amazing array of fresh fruit and vegetables.

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Daring Bakers Challenge : Puddings

DaringBakers-Pudding

(Manuka honey pudding with coffee, chestnut and dates)

The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

Pudding purists may want to avert their eyes now. As I was very pressed for time this month, a few shortcuts were taken in order to make the deadline for the challenge. I opted for one of the recipes provided that called for butter rather than suet, and instead of steaming the pudding (which would have taken hours), the mixture was (gasp)microwaved(gasp). It literally took one minute to cook the pudding, and rather pleasingly, it turned out gloriously fluffy and very very tasty.

The pudding was flavoured with Manuka honey – a decision brought about mainly by my wish to utilise that rather lonely jar of New Zealand’s finest honey sitting in the cupboard. The combination of the honey with a hint of vanilla and spice in the pudding, brought to mind classic sticky date pudding, hence the date and coffee puree, as well as a scattering of chestnut crumble (to complete that Autumnal touch), some poached dates and crispy date skins.

While this hasty pudding ended up being pretty tasty, I still kind of wish there had been time to attempt a traditional Sussex pond pudding or a steak and kidney pie – two things that just so happen to be on the list of things I want to try baking. Perhaps it will finally happen, when this hectic daze that I’m in calms down a little….

YogurtPudding-Moro

(Yogurt cake)

Meanwhile here’s another pudding I made recently when we fancied a quick and fairly healthy dessert. This wonderful Lebanese recipe is from the Moro cookbook and is incredibly easy to make. It contains only a very small amount of flour, and so can be adapted to be gluten-free as well. The pudding was so light, clean and citrussy that it practically needed no accompaniment, but if need be, I can imagine it pairing well with stewed rhubarb or berries and stonefruit.

Yogurt cake with pistachios :
(from Moro The Cookbook by Sam and Sam Clark)

3 large organic or free-range eggs, separated
70g caster sugar
2 vanilla pods, split in half lengthways
350g yogurt (home made yogurt, or Greek yogurt thinned with a little milk)
finely grated zest of 1 lemon and 1/2 orange
juice of 1 lemon
20g plain flour
30g shelled unsalted pistachio nuts, roughly chopped [I omitted these as I didn't have any at the time]

Preheat the oven to 180′C and put a bain-marie of water in to warm on the middle shelf. Have ready a 25cm round or square baking dish or cake tin with a solid bottom, preferably stainless-steel, or lined with greaseproof paper.

In a bowl beat the egg yolks with three-quarters of the sugar until thick and pale. Scrape out the seeds from the vanilla pod and mix into the egg-sugar mixture. Add the yogurt, lemon and orange zest, lemon juice and the flour and mix well. In a separate bowl whisk up the egg whites with the remaining sugar until soft peaks form. Gently and evenly, fold the whites into the yogurt mixture. Pour the mixture into the baking tin. Place the tin in the bain-marie, making sure that the boiling water comes halfway up the tin, and cook for about 20 minutes. Then add the chopped pistachios, sprinkling them gently on top, and continue cooking for a further 20 minutes or until the top is light brown in colour. The correct consistency of the cake should be a light sponge on top with a wet custard below. Serve with yogurt.

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Daring Bakers Challenge : Tiramisu

DaringBakers-Tiramisu3

(Tiramisu : Another way to ‘pick me up’)

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

Tiramisu is something I rather enjoy eating and have made many times before. Friends tell me of a local restaurant where if you order tiramisu, it is brought to your table in a large glass bowl and scooped right in front of you. Surely the perfect way to enjoy tiramisu!

For the challenge this month, I thought I would try to present tiramisu in a different way whilst still retaining it’s rustic charm. Instead of assembling the components, I used them individually on the plate. My first attempt at this was not too successful. I think I was trying too hard to use all the necessary components on the plate, and sometimes you really can’t force something that just doesn’t fit.

At this point, I was humming a little ditty by Cher because I had run out of a few components and wasn’t sure if I’d have time to make them again. Luckily I managed to find a spare moment and decided to risk a second attempt – this time also boosting the chocolate content two or three-fold. What you see above is the end result.

The sponge is from here. It is light, very flavoursome, and lots of fun to make (what a great dinner party piece it would be, to get your guests to ‘make’ their own chocolate cake). Also on the plate : an espresso granita, Marsala-spiked chocolate pastry cream, a lucscious chocolate mousse and a coffee flavoured mascarpone. The mascarpone incidentally, was my favourite component. It’s not something I would usually bother making at home, though I’ve made it often at work (usually with double cream and citric acid, instead of single cream and lemon juice). Items that didn’t make it to the plate : the savoiardi sponge and zabaglione (but I promise you that I did make both the first time round).

You can get the recipes for the components from the hosts’ blogs. I’m providing the recipe for the chocolate mousse below.

Thank you Aparna and Deeba for the challenge! I loved the end result so much, I might be tweaking it a little and putting it on my menu soon :)

DaringBakers-Tiramisu4

Chocolate Mousse :
(serves 10; based on a recipe from Wild Weed Pie by Janni Kyritsis)

300g semi-sweet (57%-cocoa) couverture chocolate, melted and kept lukewarm
2 eggs
5 egg yolks
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups 35%-fat cream, whipped to soft peaks

Whisk eggs and yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer until pale. Meanwhile, combine the 3/4 cup sugar and water in a small saucepan, heat gently until all the sugar dissolves, then boil it until it reaches a temperature of 118′C. Slowly add this sugar syrup to the whisking egg mixture, drizzling it down the side of the bowl, then continue whisking until the egg mixture is cool. Fold in melted chocolate, then the cream. Chill for at least a few hours or overnight, to set.

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