Sunday, October 20, 2013

I recently went to New York to visit a dear, old friend of mine who lives in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, and of course, eat at some restaurants I'd had a hankering to stuff my face in. So I hopped on a lonely, 12-hour bus ride and spent my first day walking across Manhattan with nothing but the personalized map I made on Google, 500 dollars, and the comfort of a Starbucks on every corner to pee, poop and brush my teeth in.

First stop: Momofuku Milk Bar.
Sort of cliche, but had to be done.

 Milk Bar is right down the street from Central Park, and I'd never been! So I took my treats and ate them looking into the green abyss.

 Little brown bag o' goods!
Composte, 5boro and Corn cookies with Cereal Milk. 5boro was my favourite - it's rich chocolate, moist and gluten-free! Paired with cereal milk it was the perfect New York breakfast (literally like drinking a bowl of milk at the end of a bowl of corn flakes)
One of my favourite flavours is black sesame. I saved this little cup of sesame bread for later - heated and spread with butter.

Couldn't resist a warm, salty pretzel - they're everywhere.

Next stop: Mission Chinese
What looks like an average, run-down chinese restaurant is actually the centre of the hipster food scene in New York. The food is reminiscent of that American chinese take-out you ate as a child, but with a contemporary play on flavours and ingredients, like, Kung Pao pastrami, beer brined sichuan pickles and pig ear terrine - all which I did not order, but wish I had the stomach big enough to do so.

 Little fried fish with malt vinegar aioli and chips tossed in seaweed. Obviously a play on fish n' chips (and I'm pretty sure the fish were Smelt.)
 Pork, eel and celery dumplings in red oil, and a heap of cilantro. As much as I try, I can never not order dumplings if they're offered on a menu.

Next Stop: Pok Pok Phat Thai
Another seedy looking lower-east-side joint is yet another, exceptional culinary destination, this time thai street-style food. Pok pok is perhaps more than exceptional. Award winning owner and chef Andy Ricker lived and studied thai cuisine and brought back his knowledge to begin the Pok Pok empire. This is one of three NY locations.

Cha Yen - Thai iced tea with evaporated milk. This drink was sweet and milky, there's not really anything I can compare it to, but maybe a Creamsicle with herbal undertones? Sounds weird but it was really good!
Hoi Thawt - An egg crepe with steamed mussels, garlic, chives and bean sprouts, served with hot sauce. The menu said this is a popular Thai street food at night markets.

Day 2: Smorgasburg - A Brooklyn flea food market
Basically this is everything I could ever dream of all in the same location, with the best weather and best view! This happens every saturday, and if I lived close by I bet I could eat my way through every vendor within a month. Smorgasburg is unique from Toronto food events because it's open free to the public, happens so frequently and all food items are priced roughly within the five dollar range. Something to think about Toronto!

 The view of Manhattan from the waterfront.
 Short rib taco with spicy nacho chips. Similar to the dumpling, a taco is another food item I simply cannot resist. Sometimes I regret not branching out a bit more.
 Scallion pancakes on the flat-top

 Fresh shucked oysters on a lovely saturday afternoon, yes indeed!

 Meet my succulent friend Indian Neck, from Massachusetts.
 Brooklynite host, and best friend, Jake!
 McClure's $1 pickles! I also bought a jar of their relish.
Grape and fennel seed soda to wash it all down.

Dinner Time: Umi Nom
Jake is Filipino and I've known him for many years, but I'd never really eaten filipino food (except for at his family dinners, but the filipino dishes were even scarce). Umi Nom is right around the corner from his apartment, so we thought we'd stay close to home, plus is had some good reviews.
 Our feast of plates, in the front is their homemade beef jerky with black bean paste. It was tasty, however it didn't sit well in my stomach the next day. (Tip: be weary of homemade beef jerky, who knows how long its been sitting out and drying)
 Of course, fish tacos.
Grilled Mackerel with a side of what I think was spiralled ginger. The fish was fantastic, the side salad not so much.

Last Supper: PRUNE
Here, I've skipped ahead to dinner due to uncatalogued daytime eats. Prune was a very anticipated destination on my trip after reading owner and chef Gabrielle Hamilton's book, Blood, Bones and Butter. Hamilton portrays Prune as her soul and the reflection of the profound hospitality and culinary experiences that have shaped her career, so I was ecstatic to make a reservation for two and sit in her quaint dining room.

 The atmosphere was soft and bright, with pink ascents all round, including the waitresses shirts. As a starting snack we were given fried and salted chickpeas, and a ramekin of salt was placed on the table for seasoning.
 My first course was these gigantic deep-fried oysters with a caper tarter sauce.
 Duck breast with cipollini onions, dandelion greens and a warm agrodolce dressing. This dish was perfect to a tee.
 Jake ordered buttered toast with blue cheese and shaved celery salad.
 For dessert, pistachio granita. Basically shaved ice and pistachio.
 Dark chocolates to finish, just so lovely!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Recipes and Junk: Park Sale Series

Over the last two weekends my roommates and I have been trying to get rid of all our shit, quite unsuccessfully. With intentions for our belongings to fly off the shelves (or the grassy hill in Trinity Bellwoods Park), we made a killing of around $45.00 over the two weekends. We were mostly selling clothes, VHS's and some kitchen ware, but I thought these were great occasions to bake some fall-inspired treats, and sell some wild mint that has colonized our backyard. Here's to fall cleaning!

September 21:

Banana 'Candy Apple' Muffins:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 bananas, ripened and pureed
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup almond milk

Combine all of the wet ingredients + the sugar and salt with an electric hand mixer. In a separate bowl sift and combine the rest of the ingredients. Combine the two mixtures and fill up your greased muffin tray to each cups rim. Bake at 325 celsius for about 15 minutes, until they begin to brown and have firm tops. Let cool at room temp.

Caramelized Apples:
2 Granny Smith apples, sliced thin on a mandolin
Brown sugar

Core and quarter the apples, then, slice paper thin using a mandolin. If not using immediately store the slices in water with a few drops of lemon juice to prevent browning. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a pan on medium-high heat. Add some sugar, cinnamon and vanilla, stir until dissolved. Add enough apple slices to cover the surface of the pan and gently stir them around until they're all doused in sugary butter goodness. Remove the apples and individually lay them out on a sheet tray covered in parchment. Repeat the steps above until all of the apples have been cooked.

Bake the caramelized apples at 350 degrees celsius for about 10 minutes, or until they begin to turn dark brown.

Caramel topping:
White sugar
10% cream

There are no specific quantities for this recipe, it just depends on how much you want to make, and how thick you want it to turn out. I used about 1 cup of sugar and about a 1/8 cup of cream. Melt the sugar in a pot on low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon occasionally. As the sugar melts it will turn to caramel, but you want to give it time to melt and you don't want it to burn, so you should watch it at all times. Once all of the granules have dissolved add the cream. It will split at first but just slowly keep stirring. The amount of cream you add depends on how thick you want it. You can also add water to thin it out.

I used the caramel to glue the apples onto the muffin tops, then spooned a small blob on top. In a perfect world I would have found my cooking brush and glazed the tops. Serving these muffins fresh and warm would be nice, but if you're like me selling them outside on a chilly day will do. Beware of ants.

September 28:

Maple Bacon Fig Muffins:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cups dried figs, diced
1/2 cup partially cooked bacon, diced
1/2 cup crispy bacon, diced (for garnish)
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup almond milk

First get the bacon cooking. I used three quarters of a regular pack and diced it up before baking it in the oven (no one wants to chop up scorching hot bacon). Bake at 400 degrees celsius for about 8 minutes, it should be at the stage right before it starts to get crispy. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out half the bacon and reserve in a bowl, let the rest cook until crispy (about 5 more minutes). Remove the crispy bacon from the oil and let cool in a bowl.

Combine all of the wet ingredients + the sugar and salt with an electric hand mixer. In a separate bowl sift and combine the flour, baking powder and soda. Combine the two mixtures then add the par cooked bacon and chopped figs and fill up your greased muffin tray to each cups rim. Bake at 325 celsius for about 20 minutes, until they begin to brown and have firm tops. Let cool at room temp.

Once the muffins have cooled brush the tops with maple syrup to get them a little moist. With your crispy bacon, mix it up with some maple syrup or something equally as syrup-y, like agave, in a bowl to encourage everything to stick together. Carefully place your clusters of bacon on top of each muffin. There should be some residual, cooled down bacon grease in the mix to encourage everything together, and give off a salty, buttery flavour when you eat these gluttonous things.

About Me

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Humble Pie has coincidentally captured my journey from an amateur home cook to professional cook/caterer. What was once somewhat of a food journal is now a place where interesting food things are discussed, discovered and drooled over. I am an aspiring food writer, freelance cook and co-founder of Phat N' Phull Catering. I also have a Bachelor of Journalism from Ryerson University.