Friday, December 14, 2012

Newtown Connecticut You Are In My Thoughts And Prayers

I spent the better part of today in ignorant bliss, completely unaware of the tragedy that had unfolded not too far from where I live. It was not until I went outside to pick up my daughter from school that an acquaintance told me about the horrific events that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton Connecticut. I cannot possibly express the sadness that filled my heart at hearing about this and thinking about those little ones and the school staff that were killed by this.....whatever the hell you can call someone who can do such a thing.

I feel overwhelmed with grief for the senseless loss of life. I guess that much like everyone else out there I ask myself, why something like that can happen. How can anyone have the heart to do harm onto anyone, in particular little children? We will never know the answer. At least none that do not posses a heart that can be as dark as to contemplate committing a crime like that. 

As I sit here writing I feel immensely fortunate that I am able to hug my little girl and tell her how much I love her. Perhaps it is as simple as that. Making sure that we tell those we love just how much we love them each and everyday. Life is such a frail thing and unfortunately most of us take it for granted. Maybe if there is something to take away from all the horror that happens in the world on a daily basis, it is that we all take too much for granted. There needs to be more love and respect for life in this world. I will start by taking a look inward to seek the love and strength I need and then proceed to spread that around to everyone I know because life is entirely too short.

To those parents who lost their children today, please know that you are not alone. People feel such tremendous love for you and we are all grieving with you. I wish I could give you back what you have lost today. I wish there was a way to make it all better again. The only thing I can do is to offer my shoulder to you if you need it. You are not alone.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sunny's Bar Red Hook - Help Them Out

Getting back to the matter of Sandy and relief efforts. Sunny's would look like a dive to an outsider, and yes in a way it is. To those who inhabit Red Hook and have been there for the long haul, this place is much more than that. It is an institution, a long time resident that has witnessed the history of this quaint neighborhood, and a place with real character. The ever surly Anthony Bourdain featured it in the last ever episode of his series No Reservations, which aired after Sandy devastated it.

My husband and I drove by it many a time and swore that we would drop off our munchkin one day so that we could come out and have drinks there. This, unfortunately, has not come to pass. If there is anything my husband and I share, it is a love for going to out of the way places. The types that only locals love and know about and that are snubbed by those keep up with the Jones' types.

As you may have guessed Sunny's needs help to restore their bar and here is where you can go to contribute to their cause. Help to bring back this Red Hook institution and maybe some day you too can come and have drinks and go back in time at this neighborhood institution.

I apologize for the lack of photographic material, but apparently I need to buy storage so that I can continue to add pictures to my posts. This will be addressed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanks Giving

This is my first ever post done from a mobile device so I will apologize in advace for any spelling or other gramatical mistakes. Anywhoo, as my family and I join the mass migration that takes place here in the United States for one of the best holidays ever (who can hate on a holiday that is founded on apreciation of what one is blessed to have, and that is celebrated around food) I am reminded of many things I am grateful for. First and foremost is my family which to me is not just composed of blood relatives but includes friends who have stuck with us through thick and thin. This year in particular I am grateful for my health and for being given the oportunity to lend a hand to those who need it. Lastly I would like to thank those of you who garce my blog with your readership. I am humbled by the idea that anyone living across the world from where I am could care about what someone like me has to say. Thank you all and please continue to help our Sandy victims in any way you can.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pie - Show Them You Care

 I am not even sure where to begin regarding Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pie. If you ever had a chance to taste a pie from this place I am sure you can remember that experience very vividly. I can only describe it as pretty much a perfect moment because it tastes so damn good that you forget anything else that is going on around you. My husband and I developed a habit of going to this place before we went to any family function to pick up a pie to bring. The only reason I do not have a picture of one of their pies is because you can never just have it sitting there for too long. The urge to dig right in is too strong and you wind up giving in to it. Last time I had one of these was in October when my sister came to visit for my daughter's birthday. The rest as you know, is part of a very tragic day that turned the world of many business owners in Red Hook upside down.

The first thing I remember about Steve's was going there because a friend had told my husband and I about their fantastic pies, so we looked for the place and find it we did. On their door they had a couple of signs that made the place sound like it was run by a bunch of cantankerous old men. Those signs made me laugh pretty hard because it was yet one more sign to my husband and I that we were finally home after coming back from the Middle East. They were telling of that truly New York Grit that people talk about the world over. The truth is that they make great pie and that is all they care about. I want them getting back to doing this, and if you do too then please DONATE to help toward their prompt recovery. Trust me it is totally worth it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Red Hook Lobster Pound - Give 'Em Love

I think this is one of the first places that I heard about during Sandy. They were desperately seeking a place to put about $65,000 dollars worth of stock that would be lost if they could not relocate it. What happened after that has been all over papers, twitter and facebook. They took a hard hit. One that would have made any other person waver, but we are learning very fast that Red Hook is a place where people don't give up, and Ralph Gorham and Susan Povich (the owners of Lobster Pound) are no exception. Their spirit is truly contagious, which is exactly what you need around you when things are as bad as they have been for so many businesses all around as a result of this storm.

Lobster pound has been making the mouths of many New Yorkers water with their wonderful selection of lobsters and their legendary lobster rolls. Sandy has really put a dent on their business because it not only took out their store front, equipment and lobster tanks but it also took their awesome food truck. In order to raise funds to recover from all this damage and loss they have devised a fantastic system. They are selling certificates ranging in price from $28 to $1000 which entitle the bearer to a cornucopia of great food and experiences. Please go to their Small Knot Page and check out the certificates and get yourself one. Bringing them back is not only bringing back a place where you can get some of the best lobster rolls in the NY metropolitan area, but also helping those who work here to get back to providing for their families. I know you all have heart.

Thanks for reading. I promise I will start posting new recipes again soon. I have a few new curry ones inspired by the Brooklyn Brewery's Curry Experiments.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Brooklyn Update - Ways to Help Hurricane Sandy Victims

 What Sandy looked like from space - Image Credit: NASA, GOES-13 Satellite

 Today I wanted to keep it short and sweet, but I might not be, so bear with me. There are some good news coming out of Red Hook with Baked now being back to somewhat normal and other places like Hope & Anchor and Red Hook Lobster starting to get back to business. However there are still so many places that need help so I am going to provide links to some websites that have been set up to help specific neighborhoods recover. If you are from outside these areas either in the US or even outside the country, and you feel you would like to lend a hand these links will be great in helping you to invest in those places you feel deserve the love.

If you would like to help the residents of Red Hook, the most reliable place is Red hook Initiative. I have been there many times since the hurricane to drop off food and other types of donations and I can tell you from first hand experience that they are a great organization that has worked quickly and efficiently to provide as much help as possible to the residents in this community.

If you would like to help businesses in Red Hook you can do so at Restore Red Hook. This site was set up by a group of business owners in this area in order to help businesses that are having difficulty getting back on their feet to do so and in turn to get the employees and people who depend on these businesses get back to work as quickly as possible. I have a soft spot for this one because some of my favorite places to eat are located in this district, including Baked, Hope & Anchor and Steve's Pies. if you are a food lover too please give to this cause as generously as you can.

If you can believe it, and you should DUMBO was another area where a lot of small start up businesses and many established restaurants got hit hard. There was much damage and a lot of businesses lost large amounts of stock that will set them back financially in a drastic way. I love this area because there are so many great independent designers and creative types located here and being part of that creative collective makes me feel obliged to give back to this community. If you would like to help out in this area click here and find out how you can do so.

If the Rockaways is where you feel your help might go further you can go to 596 Acres, which has links and posts about who needs what where. You can also go to NYC Sandy Needs, and get a broader view of where help and supplies are needed.

I hope I have not bored you to death with all my give, give, give requests. I just have fallen in love with Brooklyn and seeing it hurting like this is breaking my heart. I wish I had unlimited funds and time to give to all of these places, but I am only one person. The only way I can help is to give my limited time and hard work to these causes and to get the word out to anyone who is willing to listen. I am hoping that this post will have an effect on anyone who is out there who wants to and can help. Thank you to all of you who grace me with your readership.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fort Defiance in Red Hook a Must Bring Back

 As promised this is the first of my posts focusing on the great Brooklyn eateries that we hard hit by the storm. Fort Defiance is one of those places that is known for its innovative and eclectic menu and one who should have a loyal following as loyal as the employees are to the owner of this establishment John Frizell. My husband and I did not get a chance to try them because we had always thought we would get a chance to do so later, and that is still my hope. Their menu was one of the things that attracted us because it was reminiscent of the bold tapas that we had in San Sebastian in Spain. One of the most memorable items on their menu for us and the reason we wanted to go there is their Chicken Liver Pate with Bacon -Onion Jam. I am still trying to imagine what this would taste like, and every time I think of blinis with foie, mmmmmm.

So far the only thing I know about the damage they sustained is that they had six inches of water on their serving floor, not surprising if you know that they are located about four blocks away from the waterfront. Their basement where food prep and storage happened is completely ruined. The damage as described by chef Steve Linares, is upward of $100,000 just on equipment. There have been several articles lately where Mr. Frizell has been noted as determined to re-open the restaurant. He has stated that he will be documenting the progress on their recovery efforts on Epicurious, where he has written an account on his first visit to the restaurant after Sandy. If you are one of the lucky people who had the privilege of eating here, or if like me you regret not having done so sooner, make sure to follow their progress and if you can make a contribution toward their recovery and that of many other Red Hook businesses by visiting Restore Red Hook.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Brooklyn after Hurricane Sandy

Needless to say, if you are a resident of the US east coast or a New Yorker living within the five boroughs of the city you have witnessed if not been a victim of this storm that ravaged us during the better part of two days. I am among some of the lucky people who have not been severely affected by this storm. Thankfully enough in our little enclave called Windsor Terrace we were blessed with very few issues and we still have all our utilities working.

Today I went to the Red Hook neighborhood and the devastation there was heartbreaking. So many people and businesses have been affected, some of the businesses might not recover from the storm at all. I am among a bunch of people looking into what can be done to help all of these small businesses to try to get back on their feet and I guess the only thing that I can ask in my humble blog is that if you have ever read this blog and have been enticed to visit any of the places I have mentioned in it please do whatever you can to help the victims of this disaster get back to the closest semblance of normalcy.

So far I have only visited Red Hook but I am planning on being in touch with other people in the areas of Williamsburg, Green Point, Gowanus, Coney Island, etc.. to see what can be done to help. In the coming weeks I will probably be posting mostly about those business districts and their incredible eateries because I believe that one of the very characteristic factors that make Brooklyn so special as of lately are those innovators who have chosen Brooklyn as their home. This community has grown around them so it is fitting to give back to them so that they can continue to delight the world with their creations.

I have had a very special place in my heart for this borough because I have experienced a sense of community here that I had not felt in a long time. I started out in Red Hook this time because it is where my family and I do our food shopping. Also because Baked has started the ball moving through their generosity by opening their business and giving the proceeds from today's sales toward the recovery effort in this area. To me Matt and Renato are the epitome of the spirit of the innovators in this area, and super class acts because they never fail to give back to their community. They have started a website to help rebuild Red Hook so please do go check it out, and please help in any way you can.

I on my part will try to keep all who are interested, up to date on what is going on here in Brooklyn and what all our favorite neighborhoods are doing to get back on their feet. As always thank you for reading my blog and if you decide to lend your support to anyone in Brooklyn I hope you feel a great big hug coming from me for doing so.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween Bake Sale - Make it Fun

For those of you who are parents, I am sure that you are either doing it now or will be enlisted to do so in the future. Yes I am talking about that grand American tradition, the bake sale. In our area these are not done so that our kids can get a vending machine or some other unnecessary object. Throughout New York City all schools are facing the challenge of how to provide a wholesome education for our children as they face budget cut after budget cut. We are very lucky to live in a city where most parents are very actively involved in what happens in our schools. Part of that involvement entails helping to raise funds so that our children can have all those things we had when we were their age, like music education, musical instruments and after school programs.

Bake sales play a tremendous part in that fund raising aspect. What is my point in telling you all of this? Well my point is this, if we are going to be involved in making stuff for these bake sales, why not step it up a notch. Instead of doing the same old cupcake, why not check out a site like Martha Stewart to see how you can decorate them more creatively. If you are baking cookies, why not make something other than the typical chocolate chip cookie. Make it fun, spruce it up, find fun themes, and enjoy it. It is for the children after all, and kids are fun. Raising money so they can have a well rounded education should be too.

Here are some cookies I made for our school's Pre-Halloween Bake sale. The dough is the typical sugar cookie one. To decorate them I made a royal icing see the recipes for both below (it's super easy). Hope they make you smile a little.


Sugar Cookies (Yields about 20)

1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Cup Salted Butter (1 stick, softened)
2/3 Cup Sugar
1 Large Egg
1-2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract (depends on how much vanilla flavor you would like)

Combine the flour and baking powder in a bowl making sure to whisk the ingredients so that they are evenly distributed.

Either in the bowl of a stand mixer or a separate bowl beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix in until it is well incorporated into the butter mixture. Add in the vanilla extract and mix until it is completely incorporated. Add in the flour mixture one tablespoon at a time making sure the flour is well incorporated before adding more. Once all the flour is well incorporated into the dough. Place the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap or in a plastic bag and refrigerate overnight. The dough will need time to solidify so try to make it so that it is in the fridge for at least six hours.

Once your dough is rested enough, remove from fridge.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dust your kitchen counter with flour and roll your dough until it is about 1/4 inch (about .5+ cm) thick. Get your fun cookie cutters and get to work cutting. Transfer the shapes to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes or until their bottom starts to show a bit of golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool slightly (5-10 minutes) before transferring to a cooling rack.
Once cool decorate with royal icing.

Royal Icing

1 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Egg White (preferably from a large egg)
1 tsp Lime Juice

In a medium bowl mix the powdered sugar, egg white and lime juice until you get a smooth mixture. Test your icing before you start decorating to make sure that it is not too runny or too dry. To do this place a small dot of the icing either on a plate or one of your cookies and give it five to ten minutes to dry. If it is right the icing will dry evenly and almost glossy. If you find that your icing is too runny add a little more powdered sugar (about 1/2 a tsp at a time) until you reach a glaze texture. If your icing is too dry add a few drops of lime juice a little at a time until you reach that smooth glaze texture. Add your food coloring at this point if you wish to do so mixing it in until the color is completely incorporated and even. Put your royal icing in a piping bag and start decorating. Have fun :)

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Brooklyn Curry Experiment

As promised here are some pictures my Husband and I managed to take before and at the event.

 The last batch of curry macaron shells waiting to go into the oven.

 A little close up of the baked shells :)

 Our assembled, prize winning macarons ready to go at our table.

 Our neighbors ready to go.

 A close up of our neighbors' wonderful curry carrot cake. Yumm

 Jeffrey and his assistant Lara getting ready.

 Jeffrey and Lara's delicious cardamom cookies to accompany his delicious frozen yougurt.
He won second place for it in the Judges' competition.

 Another set of our neighbors, proudly standing by their eggplant curry creations :)

 A close up of those wonderful curry eggplant creations.

 The Double C's ladies getting ready for the crowd. 
The folks from One World One Kitchen cutting into their incredible Curried Lasagna with Chili Shrimp.
One World One Kitchen won First Prize in the Judges category, and deservedly so. It was delicious.

 Double C's curry chili. Soo delicious.

 Brooklynauts and their incredible curry meatballs. 
Super nice people who can kick ass in the kitchen.

 Team New Lapskaus Boulevard plating her Curried Herring. 
She won Third place in the Judges competition. A very sweet girl. 
Unfortunately I did not get to try her food :(

 Sara and Andrey working hard on their very delicious stew. 
They won Theo's Prize for Experimentation.
My husband says he wants to have theri stew every day.

 Samosa Spiced Gnocci being plated. Another one I did not get to try.

 These lovely ladies entered the competition the day before, 
and made a tremendous sweet curry pie.

 Here is a close up of that curry pie. 
Can you smell that wonderful smell?

 These ladies made a mean curry taco. 
I would absolutely love to have that again.

 The lovely lady in the Ooh Curry team getting set up.

 Ginger Curry by Ooh Curry. It was very delicious and I need to have some more.

 Nick and Theo getting ready to announce the winners. 
The two of them are real class acts and all around wonderful.

 All the participants on stage, eagerly awaiting the results.

 Theo giving me the Audience vote Second Place award. What an honor.
Thank you to all the people who voted for our team (Team Curry Sweet)

This competition was a lot of fun. It took hard work because we had to make 300 whole macarons for it and I was very scared that the macaron dough would get temperamental. The only unexpected stressful thing to happen to me was that my whisk attachment of my Kitchen Aid stand mixer fell apart about a minute into my fourth batch of meringue, which left me scrambling for a minute until I remembered  I still had my hand mixer. Not ideal but I will never ever curse that hand mixer out ever again, because it saved me on this occasion even if my arm feels like it is going to fall. 

Another thing that rattled us was not being able to get a babysitter for our little girl but she was amazing. She was the person in charge of giving people a sprinkle of curry powdered sugar if they wanted it. My husband rocked at putting the filling into those macarons and being a great salesman telling everyone who came over to us what we had made.

All the people who participated on this event were great and the food was tremendous. Thank you Nick and Theo for putting it together and being all around great guys. Thank you also to Meg from Brooklyn Brewery. Wishing you a long and wonderful career with Brooklyn Brewery. Thank you Brooklyn Brewery for promoting great events like this one and for your incredible beer. The Defender is awesome! Here is a link to the Brooklyn Brewery Food Experiments results page.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Something Cool that My Family and I Did

This week felt like a training montage a la Rocky. It all started with a facebook post from one of my favorite sites, With Love From Brooklyn. The post was about Brooklyn Brewery's Experiment Competitions. One of them, which took place today, was the Brooklyn Curry Experiment. I have been wanting to get into the world of competitive cooking for a few months now because it seems like such a perfect way to challenge myself and my culinary capabilities. This competition seemed like the perfect place to start since it was here in Brooklyn and it was directed at amateur chefs.

As you may have guessed I signed up, along with my husband, who wound up dropping out to become my assistant on this one. This is my first food competition ever and although it was very nerve wrecking it was also very exciting to be a part of it. We had our little girl with us because we could not find a babysitter, but she was so awesome helping out today that I would not have had it any other way. It was truly a team effort. Our team was awarded second place by votes from the audience for our curry macaron with mango chutney filling topped with curry powdered sugar. After almost three nights of very little sleep I am ready to pass out for a good ten hours or so. I will post pictures of the event and the macarons probably tomorrow. Now off to the land of nod. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Tried and Tested Recipe - Banh Mi Burger by Tasting Kitchen

I am not sure if I have mentioned that I love East Asian Cuisine. I was so thrilled to find a recipe that perfectly combined my love for this type of food and  my love for a good burger. Tasting Kitchen posted the recipe for the Banh Mi Burger on Pinterest and I just felt compelled to try it. It is very much like the Vietnamese sandwiches I love. What I love most about this is how easy it is to make and how awesome it is to learn how to pickle the vegetables in such a short amount of time. I love this recipe and the flavors it brings together. This one is a keeper. Here are some pictures of my home trial.

My very tasty Banh Mi Burger

 Cutting Daikon Radish into very thin sticks

Daikon Radish and Carrots 
in the quick sugar and vinegar pickling liquid

Monday, September 24, 2012

Home Made Pizza = Awesome

 I am sure that it is no surprise that I love cooking. I am also a big believer in not paying for anything that I can make at home myself. Today I will bid adieu to all the local and non- local pizza establishments because thanks to Pinterest (another one of my addictions) I found a recipe for great and very easy pizza dough from the blog Kayotic Kitchen. I am so excited I could make more but I really should not for obvious health reasons. Anywhoo here is a nice and easy recipe to make good use of your new found pizza dough making skills.

Semi-Healthy Home Made Cheese Pizza

Pizza Dough (Follow recipe. It will make about 2 medium size pizzas)

2 TBSP Butter
3 Small Green Onions (finley sliced)
4 Large Garlic Cloves (minced)
1 Large Carrot (Sliced into 1/4 inch pieces)
2 1/2 Medium Red Peppers (Blanched and skin and seeds removed)

2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (Whole or skim, your choice)
Add whatever else your heart desires

Preheat oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Divide the pizza dough into two balls  and roll out in whatever shape you prefer. Place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Place 1 TBSP of butter in a frying pan heating it on medium heat to melt. Add the green onions and garlic and saute until well cooked and fragrant.

Place the carrot and red peppers in a food processor adding in the sauted garlic and green onions. Process until all the ingredients are finely ground.

Place the remaining TBSP of butter in the frying pan and saute your paste for about 10 minutes until it reaches a paste consistency.

Once you have your pizza dough rolled out to your satisfaction bush the edges with olive oil. Divide the carrot and pepper mixture in half. Spread on the pizza dough evenly.


Divide your cheese in half and sprinkle over each of your prepared pizzas.

Place in the oven one pizza at a time and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the cheese starts to bubble and the edges of the dough start to brown.

Allow to cool for five minutes, cut and serve. 

This recipe is also a great way to get the kiddies eating their veggies and they will love it. My daughter is a really picky eater and she gobbled it up.

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Phylo Banana Ricotta Pastry

 One of the great things about phylo dough is that more often than not you will have a surplus by buying just one pack of it. This is particularly true if you use it sparingly like I always seem to do. I wanted to finish up a pack of it before it became completely unusable, so I concocted a little something sweet and savory. I took some ricotta, bananas, a little maple syrup (thank you Arianna for bringing me some real deal one from Toronto. You have made me immensely happy), nutmeg, Parmesan and of course the phylo and here is what I came up with.

Phylo Banana Ricotta Pastry

2 sheets Phylo Dough
3 TBSP Butter (melted)
1 1/2 Cup Ricotta Cheese
1 TBSP Ground Nutmeg
3 TBSP Maple Syrup
1 Banana (sliced into 1/4 inch pieces)
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan (To garnish)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

Take your phylo one sheet at a time and brush with the melted butter. Lay one sheet on top of the other and fold in half. place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl combine the ricotta, nutmeg and maple syrup until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Place this mixture on the center of your phylo dough and distribute evenly forming a strip about 2 inches in thickness making sure to end the strip about 2 inches away for each end and leaving enough room on the sides to allow room for you to fold the pastry over the filling.

Place the banana slices along the entire length of the ricotta strip. Fold the pastry over the filling and sprinkle with the grated Parmesan.

Place in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until your pastry has reached a golden brown throughout.

Allow to cool before serving. You can serve this with a nice hazel nut or vanilla ice cream or just drizzle with either maple syrup or honey.

Enjoy :)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Roast Pork Slider Sandwhiches

A while back I posted about a nice roast pork I made. I had a lot of it left over so that week I had to get creative with ways to serve it up so that it would not be the same old thing. Since we had some slider buns and a bit of mild Feta cheese I decided that this would be a great way to make use of some of that roast pork. I just shredded the pork, placed the meat on the lower half of the buns and sprinkled them with feta. I popped those bad boys in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for five minutes, et viola. Here is the result of that venture.