20 August 2007

Adventures in Cooking

For those of you just joining us, this is the "kitchen" in the BP.

OK. It's a bit better now. I painted and fanagled a bigger fridge, and put up shelves. But that sink is useless.

I haven't cooked a lot this summer. See above. This past weekend, already feeling nostalgic about leaving Park Slope, I hit up the Green Market at Grand Army Plaza. Sans plan, I picked up a few delicious items, including heirloom tomatoes, beets, scallops, goat cheese, a French baguette, and New Jersey white peaches. A quick surf of Epicurious and a call to Candace inspired a menu of Spinach and Beet Salad with Walnut-Crusted Goat Cheese (based on this recipe for Hazelnut-Crusted Goat Cheese Salad), Bacon-Wrapped Scallops with Port Reduction served with heirloom tomatoes, and Peaches & Cream (freshly whipped, sweetened with a bit of maple syrup) for dessert. If your mouth isn't watering by now, you should really have that looked at.

The best part about the menu was that I had almost everything in my tiny pantry (I even had bacon in the freezer). My trip to the grocery store was quick and painless, and a bottle of ruby port only costs $10.99 - who knew? Also: I got to light stuff on fire (that's the port reducing over there on the right). Good times.

I'm psyched about cooking this Fall, and to take full advantage of the delightfully large kitchen in BP:LE, I might even trek back to Park Slope for the market. You never know.

06 August 2007

What A Girl's Gotta Do

Tonight's dinner: A slice of toast* with Nutella, half a pint of Ben & Jerry's Half-Baked Frozen Yogurt and a glass of red wine.

I really can't wait to move into Bachelorette Pad: Loft Edition, now with more kitchen! Coming September 1. Stay tuned.

*Toasted, sadly, in the oven. I hope that BP:LE is also equipped with a toaster.

29 May 2007

Dinner Dilemma

Do I eat the last 6 stems of asparagus from last week's Fresh Direct order, or do I eat some of the fresh new stalks that I bought at the green market on Saturday?

(Above: The basics: Olive oil, sea salt, ground pepper and Parmigiano Regiano)

08 April 2007

Bunny Cake!

Every year I make at least one bunny cake. And every year I'm totally convinced that it's the cutest bunny cake I've ever made.

To wit:

Bunny Cake

This year I even took the time to write up the instructions for you, my loyal UFF readers, so that you too can create a bunny cake of your very own.

You need:

• A yummy cake recipe (or a cake mix, no judgments!) - I've made many a successful bunny cake with Epicurious' White Chocolate Layer Cake (omitting the apricot filling) but pick something that's easy for you. Carrot cake makes a sweet brown bunny.
• A round cake pan. You only need one round layer to make the cake, so you can either make two bunnies, or use the rest for cupcakes.
• Frosting (I'm going to recommend homemade for this, but only because I don't know of a store-bought one that isn't sickly sweet - funny that I used to be able to eat that stuff right from the cannister!).
• Coconut (fresh coconut is delish but sweetened shredded coconut in a bag works just as well).
• Green food colouring.
• White paper (regular copier paper is fine) and the pink colouring implement of your choice (a crayon, pencil crayon, highlighter, whatever).
• Jelly beans (for your bunny's eyes and nose, as well as to make a flowery meadow for your bunny).

After you've baked your cake, follow these simple instructions to assemble the bunny.


You should have something that looks like this:

Bunny In Progress


• Frost your bunny completely. The tail can get tricky; my best advice is to be generous with your frosting, and don't be afraid to sculpt the tail a little.

• Dye the coconut to make grass: Put some coconut and a few drops of green food colouring in a ziploc bag and squish it all around. If you love coconut, keep some white to sprinkle on the bunny. Spread the green coconut around the bunny so that he's resting in a lovely meadow.

• As you may already have deduced, the bunny's ears will be made of paper. I like to make them after I see my bunny so that they're proportional to his stature - chubbier bunny, chubbier ears. (Hehe, I said "chubby.") Cut your bunny's ears out of the white paper, and add a pretty pink hue to the insides. Tuck the ears behind the bunny's head (where you made the notch out of the cake back in Assembly Step 4).

• Give your bunny jelly bean eyes and a nose.

Voilà! Your bunny is ready to be the centrepiece at your Easter table. Not to mention dessert.

Bunny Cake Portrait

14 March 2007

Happy π Day!

To celebrate Pi(e) Day, I baked a couple of pies.

The first was Pecan Pie with Kahlua and Chocolate Chips:

π on Pie

It won the coveted "Pie that Most Embodies the Spirit of Pi(e) Day" award, for its clever rendition of π in pie dough.

The second was Banana Cream Pie:


Making Banana Cream Pie is inherently funny, because you get to say things like, "I'm spreading the custard on my pie" and "Now I'm putting the banana in the custard on my pie." And those phrases make me laugh.

Another thing that made me laugh was email I received that read, "Luckily no one brought 'e' to the office on 2/7 at 18:28... Phew." Hee.

19 February 2007

As Seen On "Survivor"

"So now what do you think I should do with this coconut?"

"I dunno... Shred it or something?"

"No, the shell."

"Oh. Maybe you could make one of those coconut bra things."

"Oooh! A coconut bra! Good idea!"

Pause. "Or you could make the sound of horses' hooves."

06 February 2007

Groceries And The City: Part 2

In the heady days of FreshDirect first delivering to the BK, I was receiving at least one order a week from them. I loved that each fresh-food item had its own label that said, "Packaged for Gillian on ." I loved not lugging around the granny cart, and not carrying bags up the stairs. I also loved the occasional freebie that FD threw in. I had the idea that FD should team up with Epicurious so that when I was browsing recipes I could just add all the ingredients to my cart, and not long ago, FD introduced shopping by recipes! Woot!

On the other hand, while I kind of loved having boxes for recycling newspapers, but I didn't love the excessive packaging stylings of FD (they've since gotten much better about consolidating items).

Last year, a new outpost of Fairway opened in Red Hook, Brooklyn, about 2 1/2 miles south of our apartment in Park Slope. One Sunday morning, on a mission to check out Baked, also in Red Hook, DLang and I walked down to the 'hood. We ate delicious scones with strong coffee chasers, then walked down the street to check out Fairway.

I felt like I was home. Fairway in Red Hook has the little happinesses of a suburban grocery shopping experience, like a parking lot (!) and aisles wide enough to accommodate bona fide shopping carts. They have bins of neatly-stacked, fresh produce. And then there are the things that make shopping at Fairway a special experience, like signs enthusiastically recommending a particular goat cheese or coffee blend, and the half-dozen or so samples of olive oil from around Europe and even California.

Subsequent visits, the second of which was on Saturday, did not disappoint. This weekend, after stopping at the deli and meat counters, I took a coffee break in the café, which is right on the water and has a spectacular view of the Statue of Liberty. When I finally arrived at checkout with an overflowing cart, there was no waiting at all, and I breezed right on through. (Did I mention that Fairway delivers for the same price as FD?)

And so, while I'm still quite enamoured with grocery shopping while sitting on the couch in my pajamas, I'm going to take a little break from FreshDirect and start a weekly brick-and-mortar grocery shopping adventure. I think I could get used to a Sunday morning walk down to the water, a stop for breakfast, and an hour (or two) wandering up and down the aisles of this amazing store.

P.S. Brianna posted an excellent NYC grocery store rant yesterday - it's very frustrating living in a NYC neighbourhood in which Key Food, D'Ags, or even Gristedes are your best grocery options. At least when I lived on the Upper West Side, the 24-hour Duane Reade at the end of my block sold Ben & Jerry's.

05 February 2007

Groceries And The City: Part 1

On a recent trip to D.C., one of the highlights was a visit to Trader Joe's. The brief stop made me long for suburban grocery stores with wide aisles and 56 brands of salad dressing and the irony of throwing reusable cloth shopping bags in the back of one's Subaru wagon. This weekend, then, when I found myself with both a rental car and a Super Bowl party shopping list as long my iPod playlist, I did what any displaced small-town girl would do: I went to Fairway.

My first NYC grocery experience was surprisingly good. I'd just moved into my apartment on the Upper West Side, and had nothing except a couple of suitcases. My company put me up in a hotel for two nights during which time I purchased a futon, bedding, and a towel. As my truckload of stuff wasn't due to arrive from California for another week or two, I wandered out to Broadway and found Zabar's. I went upstairs to the housewares section where I purchased a plate and glass (both of which I still have and use). I had a brief affair with Zabar's, going there regularly on my way home from work to buy some exotic cheese or other and delicious loaves of Eli's bread.

At some point I ventured a few blocks south and into Fairway, and I was hooked. The quality of Fairway's produce rivaled that to which I'd become accustomed in California. I found exotic sauces like pomegranate marinade, and I spent way too much money on them. I always bought more than I could carry home, and usually ended up taking the bus. Once, while toting about 6 bags, one of which contained a giant bouquet of fresh basil, I overheard a kid exclaim, "Dad! Something smells like spaghetti!"

When I moved to Brooklyn, I was disappointed in the lack of good grocery stores. I almost immediately started visiting the green market regularly on Saturday mornings, and supplemented our pantry with unexciting (and sometimes downright discouraging) stops at D'Agostino's (overpriced) or Key Food (yuck). Shortly thereafter, FreshDirect started delivering in our 'hood, and I started regularly internetting my way to yummy food (and wine! and beer! and even kitty litter!) delivery, which I didn't even have to carry up five flights of stairs.

To be continued...