Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Memorial Day Weekend Lunch on the Patio

May 29, 2017

The forecast pre-weekend did not sound very conducive to al fresco dining. However, yesterday afternoon turned out to be quite pleasant — low 70’s, a bit of sun, and not too much wind. Michael had hosed down the chairs, I’d cleaned the table — getting rid of the winter’s schmutz was a real chore! — and he’d hoisted the umbrella the day before. So, though it wasn’t exactly “Rozy weather,” I decided to serve lunch on the patio.

Those of you who come here with some regularity know that chez nous, hot dog season begins on Memorial Day Weekend and ends on Labor Day. Therefore, for this first al fresco lunch, I served the usual Hebrew National franks. But I added something new. A few days ago, I prepared Brunswick stew. Not only was this the first time I’d ever made this type of stew, but it also included an ingredient I’d never bought before: smoked polska kielbasa. Off to Delicious Orchards where I bought a package.* After using what I needed for the stew, there was plenty left. I thought to myself, I’ll bet that kielbasa would be great on the grill, so I added a couple of pieces with the franks.

At Home: Memorial Day Weekend Lunch

We had the usual accompaniments for the franks.

At Home: Memorial Day Weekend Lunch

At Home: Memorial Day Weekend Lunch

Busch’s Vegetarian Baked Beans

I also made a little bit of potato salad which I thought would be a good accompaniment for the kielbasa. (I used some leftover steamed potato slices I happened to have in the frig.)

At Home: Memorial Day Weekend Lunch

At Home: Memorial Day Weekend Lunch

The grilled kielbasa was, indeed, very tasty. No doubt, this first time won’t be the last.

At Home: Memorial Day Weekend Lunch

P.S. The Brunswick stew was delicious.

*Garrett Valley All Natural Smoked Fresh Polska Kielbasa, Wood Smoked. I liked this additional information: No artificial ingredients, 36% Less Sodium, Pork raised with no antibiotics, Humanely raised, Gluten Free.

At Home: Umbrella’s Up!

May 27, 2017

At Home: Umbrella's Up!

A Memorial Day Weekend tradition, it’s how we mark the unofficial start of the summer season.

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

May 21, 2017

During our trip to France in 1999, we visited Limoges. We bought a dessert set consisting of a large serving bowl and 12 dishes.

At Home:  Dessert Dish

I love that the design is perfect for the strawberry ice cream I made yesteerday using some of the berries we picked at Battleview.

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

“Pick Your Own” Strawberries: First Time This Season

May 19, 2017

Michael came with me this morning. Due to prior weather conditions, it was relatively slim pickins. Despite that, we managed to pick 5 lbs. It’s early days for strawberries at Battleview, so we’ll be picking again.

Pick Your Own Strawberries 2017

Dining Out: January – March 2017

May 17, 2017

Union Square Cafe

January
New York City
Dinner:
Shay & Ivy
italienne Taverna
Sahib
Eleven Madison Park (Michael’s Birthday)
NoMad
Café d’Alsace

Lunch:
The Clocktower
Union Square Café
Le Coucou (Michael’s Birthday)
iTrulli

New Jersey
Dinner:
Aarzu

February
New York City
Dinner:
italienne Dining Room
Union Square Café
The Clocktower
Kellari Taverna

Lunch:
Ruby’s
Eleven Madison Park
The Modern Bar Room

Brunch:
Le Coucou

March
New York City
Dinner:
Cherche Midi
Vaucluse
Le Coq Rico

Lunch:
Marta
Benoit

New Jersey
Lunch:
Jersey Short BBQ

At Home: Baking a Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

May 16, 2017

Have you heard of the on-line magazine Taste? Its raison d’etre is providing recipes from various sources for the home cook. Since that would be moi, I subscribe.

Back in April, among the recipes they sent to my in-box was “The Nonnegotiables of Good Carrot Cake,” by Allison Robicelli. I like carrot cake but have never made one (though I have a vague memory of having made carrot muffins once). Intrigued, I decided to see what Ms. Robicelli had to say. After extoling the virtues of her carrot cake, she got down to ticking off what should and what should not go into this cake. Here’s where things got interesting. Discussing the eponymous ingredient, she said:

Carrots, of course, even though they’re second banana to everything else in this show. (Speaking of bananas, you can replace the carrots in this recipe with same amount of smushed bananas for banana cake. That cake will overwhelmingly taste like bananas, while no carrot cake has ever tasted like carrots.) In fact, I cannot think of another dessert that relies on carrots for a dang thing. Are the carrots here only for a healthy shot of vitamin A? That sounds good. Let’s go with that. (Bolding mine)

Whoa! When I read that sentence, no way was I making a carrot cake, at least not right away. You see, I just happened to have a bunch of overly-ripe bananas in the refrigerator. Yes, I know. Years ago, the jingle sung by Chiquita Banana warned us to “never, ever put bananas in the refrigerator.” But turns out, she was wrong. Putting a ripe banana in the frig slows the ripening process and doing so with overly ripe bananas keeps them from becoming unusable. In fact, they can even be frozen and then thawed when you’re ready to use them for baking. I’ve done that in the past. But I digress…. When I say overly ripe, that would be bananas with skins that are pretty much black. At that stage, the banana-y flavor is very intense. I’d kept these with the express purpose of baking a cake with a recipe I’ve been using for years. Though it’s a pretty good one, I was psyched to try this new one.

Now, about the frosting. Carrot cake and cream cheese frosting is a classic combo. While vanilla buttercream was my usual frosting for banana cake, using cream cheese frosting now struck me as a brilliant idea. But Robicelli’s recipe seemed unnecessarily complicated. Googling around, I found a much simpler recipe. It came with a banana cake recipe baked in a 9”x13” pan (oddly, the accompanying photo was of a single round layer). I cut the frosting recipe in half which turned out to be more than adequate for my cake.

When it comes to frosting a cake, I’m definitely no expert. Happily, this frosting was easy to work with. While I’d be the first to say I wouldn’t win any medals for a gorgeous finished product, I think the result was o.k.

At Home: Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Of course, you’re now asking the most important question: How did this cake taste? In a word, fantastic! The cake had lovely texture, just the right level of moistness, and intense banana flavor. The cream cheese frosting was fluffy, almost like whipped cream, and its slight tanginess was the perfect contrast to the cake’s sweet banana flavor.

At Home: Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Although Robicelli’s “nonnegotiables” approach was intended for a carrot cake, she was right that it also works splendidly for a banana cake. So, out with my old recipe! This one — along with the easy cream cheese frosting recipe — is a keeper!

At Home: Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

.

Mother’s Day 2017

May 14, 2017

This morning on WQXR, in honor of Mother’s Day, they played a short piece from The Nutcracker. Those of you familiar with the ballet know that while it’s usually staged during the Christmas season, the Second Act includes the comical “Mother Ginger and Her Children.” So, an appropriate, cheerful choice.

Farewell to Stattel’s Farm and Market

May 12, 2017

I had a feeling this was coming:

Stattel's Farm

So, what is that? Three generations? Amazing!

When we first moved into our house in 1969, there were several family farms nearby that had roadside stands. Stattel’s was one of the closest, a quick 5-minute ride down 520 to just before it intersect with 79. Slowly, over time, these farms disappeared until at this point, Stattel’s was one of just two remaining.

In the fall of 2011, I took these photos:

Stattel's Farm

Stattel's Farm

Stattel's Farm

Stattel's Farm

Too bad I never took any on-site photos of their excellent corn, tomatoes and other summer produce.

Now, here’s some very good news. The land will not be turned into a high-density housing development as we thought it might. Instead, according to this article in Marlboro Patch, earlier this year Marlboro Township purchased the farm’s 56 acres the goal being to preserve it forever as farmland and open space. Kudos to Mayor Jonathan Hornick, council members, and everyone else who made this happen.

Though I will miss going to the farm’s market, I wish the Stattel family good health and a wonderful, very well-deserved retirement.

Stattel's Farm

Stattel's Farm

Happy Anniversary, Jen and Louis!

May 10, 2017

Untitled

Bien Cuit Grand Central

May 8, 2017

Bien Cuit (Grand Central)

It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted about Bien Cuit. For those of you who don’t come by here regularly (or those who do but may have forgotten), the Brooklyn bakery is co-owned by my cousin Kate Wheatcroft and her husband (ergo, my cousin by marriage), the baker, Zach Golper.

In April, they opened a Manhattan branch in the Grand Central Market located in Grand Central Terminal.

Bien Cuit (Grand Central)

Bien Cuit (Grand Central)

Bien Cuit (Grand Central)

Bien Cuit (Grand Central)

Bien Cuit (Grand Central)

Here’s what we took home:

Bien Cuit (Grand Central)

Campagne

Bien Cuit (Grand Central)

Almond Croissant

Bien Cuit (Grand Central)

Sour Cherry & Praline Entremet

Bien Cuit (Grand Central)

Caramel Pecan Tart

You may have noticed in one of the photos above that Zach has written a book. Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread was published in 2015. Of course, we have a copy…

Bien Cuit

…which Zach personally inscribed to Michael and me with a sweet note.

I should also mention that this year, Zach was a finalist for a James Beard Aware in the category of Outstanding Baker. Though he didn’t win this time, it is national recognition of the hard work he and Kate have put into making Bien Cuit a huge success.