Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

I have been Monkeying nonstop.  And really, sadly - hardly cooking.

I will return in the new year!

Have a great holiday!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

hiatus

Oh hai!

I'm not going to lie.  I have been ignoring you.  I have been busy, busy, busy with the start of school and then this happened:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/sockthemonkeygirl

Do you like monkeys?  Or things made from socks?  If so go!  And then get some!  Because I make them.

I do also still make food.

And I will write about it.

Soon.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

soy latte

cafe vero, lark street.




yummers!

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Monday, October 4, 2010

Home pho

Making pho at home is easier than I thought.




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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

cupcakes, cupcake trucks and lots of capital letters.

Taking a look at this reminded me of my anger about this whole cupcake frenzy.  Frenzy?  Is frenzy the right word?  I'm not sure.  It could be a frenzy because I have the summer off (almost over by the way) and I read a lot of local food blogs and I have plenty of time to ponder ridiculousness.  But I want to ring in on this - so for me, frenzy is the right word.

I like cupcakes.  I make cupcakes.  I sometimes buy cupcakes.  I have to say that the best I have ever purchased were from a place that wasn't even playing the whole cupcake game.  Last year our friend, Heather brought us a box of cupcakes from the Bread Basket in Saratoga and still to this day, none have rivaled them.  She brought them as dessert for some meal I was making friends and we never got to them, which meant that Chuck and I got to them systematically in the days after, and each one was amazingly delicious and totally different from the last.  Since then, a cupcake "frenzy" has exploded over Albany and surrounding areas.  And we were late to the party, as usual.  NYC did the cupcake thing eons ago - the trend has since moved on (from what I can tell - to frozen yogurt and noodle shops).  But we are North and we are Slow and we dig things with butter and sugar so it is here.

And here we are.  Now there are cupcake trucks.  And they park in places so people can meet them there and buy cupcakes.  And they tweet where they are and Facebook where they are going and email and call and print and yell:  THE CUPCAKE TRUCK WILL BE IN SUCH AND SUCH PARKING LOT FROM 12 - 3.  COME AND GETCHER DELICIOUS MORSELS OF DECADENCE.

And it's a cute idea.  And buying things out of trucks can always be awesome and sometimes exciting.  But my problem lies with the fact that THEY AREN'T THAT GOOD.  And on top of that - THEY COST TOO MUCH FOR NOT BEING THAT GOOD.

Listen - I will pay an obscene amount of money for something that tastes good.  With that I have no problem.  No matter how trendy it is, or obnoxious or fattening or whatever.  But if it is not worth it - everything goes to hell.  The whole concept will start to annoy me, as the cupcake frenzy has begun to.

Maybe it is because I had a bad trip to a cupcake place this summer where I recieved bad service, crumbly, uncreative, old-tasting cupcakes, a HORRIFIC excuse for a root beer float and a more than disgusting excuse for an egg cream and I overpaid for the whole shebang to boot!  This has possibly made me bitter.  But after that experience, I got mad.  All this business did was cupcakes.  IT'S ALL THEY DID (besides the bad drinks).  If you do ONE THING - shouldn't you be able to perfect it so it is so awesome people almost drop dead from the experience?  ONE THING!  I mean, restaurants make hundreds of things, and good ones do a great job at it.  But a cupcakery does ONE THING.  So do it RIGHT.  Sheesh.  I should be goddamn swooning over these things and I was less than impressed.  AND YOU DON'T NEED SOME SORT OF FANCY PALETTE TO ENJOY A CUPCAKE EITHER!  It's not that complex!

Whew.  I am apparently hitting a nerve in this entry.  But I can't HELP it!  Are business owners just not honest with themselves?  Do they not snag some product out of the case every once in awhile and check it out for themselves?  Do their customers have no taste buds?  Do they give NO feedback?  Are they just "trying to be nice"?  Because - customers...your "niceness" is ruining your own experience.  Say when something sucks.  It's an owner's JOB to make it better.

I think the other issue I have is these places have the gall to charge 3, 4 or 5 bucks per cupcake.  For real?  Do you people understand the markup on these things?  THEY SHOULD HAVE GOLD FLECKS IN THEM FOR THAT PRICE!  And they are small.  Well, not small.  They are regular sized.  They are not jumbo.  They should be jumbo.  Jumbo and delicious.  And they are not.

And this is why I am mad.  We are collectively making a fuss about mediocrity.  It's like when parents make a big deal about something their kid did that really is not that impressive: 

"Can you believe little Johnny picked up the magazine and said 'Mommy there are words in here'?  Is that the MOST PRECIOUS THING you ever heard?  He is so smart I can't stand it! Because there ARE words in there.  A magazine is FULL OF WORDS.   He is going to grow up to be Bill Gates!  BILL GATES I TELLYA!"

Ugh.  And then comes the part where I have to agree.  But I don't.  Just like the cupcake thing.

I.  Don't.  Agree.

I will end this entry with a picture of Chuck and I eating one of the cupcakes purchased from the Bread Basket so long ago.  They were great.  And inventive.  And large.  And I want more.  I am heading up to 'Toga this weekend and on my way from Albany I will pass at least THREE cupcake places that I know of (probably many more that make cupcakes but don't have trucks or labs or buses) and I plan to keeeeeep on driving.  And go get some deliciousness from Bread Basket.  Hopefully, they are still as good as I remember.

lunch




onion roll with butter, tomato from our CSA, sharp provolone.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

antipasto dinner




- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Madison Ave,Albany,United States

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pupusas Probably in My Belly. Ok. Definitely in my belly.

After having Pupusas a few times - once with Albany Jane and E and crew at Flores Family Restaurant and another time with Matty G in Noho, and then looking up the recipe and realizing "holy jeez there are only 2 ingredients for the basic recipe?" - well...it was time to make them.

It was a Stephen Monday so it was our project for the day - we had to do some prep stuff in the afternoon and then our friend Jenna was coming over for the making and eating. 

We started by making the curtido - a coleslawish side dish that is served with the pupusas which can be made up to a week ahead (we probably should have thought about that a week ago) - so we got right to it.  The recipe is on the link and the only thing we did differently was skipped the boiling water step and we boiled the vinegar, salt and water mixture instead, hoping that would help it permeate throughout the cabbage mixture a little quicker.  Then we threw it all in a bowl and covered it and weighted it down, hoping that would help "pre age" the mixture.  Final result:

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It is a little boring to look at but tasted delicious - and I have a feeling tomorrow it will taste even better.

Then Stephen and I parted ways a little bit - he made the Salsa Roja, another thing served alongside pupusas, and I got busy making a sour cherry almond cake because I bought two containers of sour cherries  at a farmer's market a month ago and I just threw them in the freezer and never did anything with them.  It was time!!!

Stephen can tell you more of the Salsa Roja but this was the basic recipe we used.  I know he used ancho chiles instead of the serrano and it gave the salsa so much more depth I wanted to hug it.  I happily have a jar of leftover yumminess in my fridge that I plan to pour on everything I eat until there is no more left.  Here's a shot of the insanity:

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I threw together the the Sour Cherry Almond Cake pretty quickly after I figured out how to pit the cherries.  I did not have a cherry pitter so Stephen and I Googled it - we saw a few ideas.  We watched a video with a great how-to and I read an article so we decided to try both ways and see which was better.  I guess you can say we "pitted" one idea against the other.  Heh.  Pitted.  (btw - I am turning into my father with the ridiculous jokes how is this happening?)

ANYWAY - Stephen made the fork thing from the video and I used the idea from the article and my way won BY FAR (shhh Stephen).  I basically just stood a chopstick up and impaled the cherry on it and the chopstick did all the work (and yes sometimes I made a noise I thought a cherry would have made if it was impaled on a chopstick and had a voice and was alive).  Most of the time the pit was just pushed through the other end with hardly any mess.  My way MIGHT have been better because the cherries were still semi-frozen - but either way I WON!  After everything was prepped I assembled the cake and baked. 

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Cakey goodness.  The cake was tasty and moist and I would make it again. Maybe with some booze next time too.

Jenna showed up with her pupusa filling and Stephen had put together some more fillings while I was lounging on the couch and yelling at him to peel me a grape - so I was time for the making of the you know whats.

We made three kinds:  Chicken Salsa, Bean and Cheese, and Chorizo and Corn .  We rolled the dough into balls and then stuffed and flattened them.  This was not the easiest thing to do at first but after about two or three we got the hang of it.  For us the trick was wet hands so everything didn't get all sticky, not overstuffing the pupusas and being careful while flattening so the goodness didn't seep out.

We then fried them on a cast iron jobby.

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and we ended up making a lot...

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We were only THREE PEOPLE eating - but we made...23 in all I think?  Next time I think I would make them a little bigger and make less in total - but this was a great first effort.

We also made some Queso de Freir (frying cheese) while we were frying things up...

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which came out toasty and delicious

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and I would like to eat it every day with Salsa Roja until I turn into a piece of fried cheese with salsa on top wearing a dress and glasses.

When all was said and done - wow.  A meal I will have again - maybe with some small tweaks - but it tasted delicious and was incredibly filling.  The best way to eat the pupusa I found was this math problemy way:

Pupusa + salsa on top + curtido and a squeeze of lime = maximum deliciousness. 

The vinegar in the curtido plus the richness of the salsa really cuts the heavy quality of the pupusa.  I guess you can equate it to kind of like a wierd Salvadorian pizza from the planet Awesome.

It is possible this might be fun to do at a dinner party - everyone can bring a filling and you can make the dough and fill and fry and then chow down.  But maybe I would be the only one that could have fun at that kind of party?  Probably.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cucumber Challenge

So today I cut up a cucumber and decided to have each slice a different way to see what I liked best.  I am not a huge fan of cucumber to begin with, but I was eager to find a way that I like it more - because eating more cucumber and less home made ice cream is probably a good idea.

The following is what I topped the cuke slices with:
  • salt
  • cayenne pepper
  • red pepper flakes
  • honey
  • powdered ranch dressing mix
  • lemon pepper
  • chocolate syrup

And the winners were:

cuke challenge

Powdered  ranch dressing mix (savory) and honey (sweet).  Now I realize that you could probably pour these two things on ALOT of other stuff and have it taste good, and that ranch dressing on vegetables is not antything new - but I was surprised by the honey. 

I will try to top more veggies with strange things in the future.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

STFUAE - First Unofficial Meeting

So Stephen and I have been hanging out on Mondays because he is off and I am off and we like food and think eachother's poop jokes are funny.  Today ended up being excellent as usual because we planned and cooked but then got even better because Elizabeth came over!  E and I have been discussing the idea of a dinner club (my friend Ashley does one and her entries about it make me drool!) and when we were all putting together dinner and dessert using ingredients we had around we realized that this was our first unofficial meeting!  We were cooking, sharing ideas about food, eating - it was great. 

We had already picked a name for the club - STFUAE (can you guess what it stands for?) and we laid down some easy to remember rules:

1.  First rule of STFUAE is...well...STFU.  AE.
2.  Second rule of STFUAE is you cannot name your dish anything longer than the dish would take to eat.  For example - Jerk Chicken Pizza cannot be called Pizza with Jerk Spices, Poultry and Sauteed Vegetables on Whole Wheat Pan Crust - TOO LONG!
3.  Meetings will most likely be themed  - possibly as loosely as just "Italian Night" or as specific as "Peppercorns".  Within that we will probably assign courses so we don't just have a table full of mains or apps or desserts (which really would be ok if you ask me).
4.  There were other rules but I can't remember them - more when the Unofficial becomes Official.

 Later our friends Alex and Heather came over to share dessert with us and were pretty excited about the club idea (this might have just been excitement about the Dulce de Leche but whatever) so we think we already have two more members when we actually decide to get this thing going.

So - we made and ate:

Baked Kale Chips - no picture because we ate them so fast but I highly suggest you trying this!  I like kale a heck of a lot but this is a great new way to eat it!

Bacon Wrapped Mango

Bacon Wrapped Mango

Cut Mango.  Wrap in bacon.  Secure with toothpick.  Bake.  Eat.  It was a great combo but I suggest you use big pieces of mango so the bacon doesn't overshadow the taste of the fruit.

Seafood Broccoli Pizza on Whole Wheat Crust

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I had some leftover seafood mix from Trader Joe's (calamari, shrimp and scallops) in red sauce in the freezer so I defrosted it, strained the sauce out and reduced it then put it back together again.  A quick toss of some broccoli in some olive oil and a quick bake in the oven, then lay pizza crust out, quick pre bake for crispness, and put toppings on (plus cheese and cheese and cheese). 


Jerk Chicken Pizza on Whole Wheat Crust

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This one you have to ask E about.  She brought over chicken and pepper already delicioused in jerk seasoning and we threw it on a pizza crust we pre baked with some smoked garlic cheddar that I had lying around (Trader Joe's again).  We threw on some jarred peppers too. This was a little spicy and delicious!

Chocolate Gelato from this recipe (just the gelato part not the rest that sounds so amazing).

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This was easier than ice cream and soooo creamy.  I think I might switch to the cornstarch method for my ice cream, especially after reading this

Dulche de Leche

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We made this earlier in the day by boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk for an hour in a big pot filled with water about an inch above the can (soooo easy).  We let it cool then opened the can and saw this creamy goodness. 

Apricot Tart with Dulce de Leche

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I had some apricots in the freezer I got from a farmstand awhile ago then blanched and pitted and peeled.  Stephen made a delicious crust and we thawed them and tossed with some cornstarch. We baked it up and threw some Dulche de Leche on top.  This was a good combo because the apricots were pretty tart.  Maybe next time a little sugar in the apricots would have chilled it out a bit. 


Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche and Toasted Coconut

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After I took that picture I realized that it could easily be made into a Cake Monster and voila:

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This cake monster was born from a small cake E brought over.  She sliced it and we filled with Dulce de Leche and while she was spreading I toasted some coconut that we threw on and in.  In case you are interested, they eyes are roasted soy nuts stuck on with Dulce de Leche and the tongue is a fruit gummi thing I lovingly carved with a paring knife.


After we ate until it hurt we played a foodie trivia game that Alex and Heather brought wherein I sucked and lost badly - but it was totally fun.

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I have hopes for the next congregation of STFUAE!  Yeah!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Giveaway? WOW!

Soooooo AlbanyJane has got some money to burn.  Or some gift certificates to give.  Or something like that.  So if you go here:  http://albanyeats.blogspot.com/2010/07/125-gift-certificate-to-csn-stores.html you can enter to win this boatload of goodness in the form of a CSN Gift Certificate.

Why am I advertising this?  Um.  Well.  If I tell two friends then...  you get the idea.

and so on, and so on, and so on.

Monday, July 26, 2010

New Indian Market









Took a walk through today. Awesome and clean with some really cool looking Indian products. A whole insane spice aisle, refridge section and geezers section (one part dedicated to kulfi) and lots of other yummies.

Also- looks like the makings of a little cafe in back- not open yet.

Check it out! Go buy something! Extra points if you buy something that you've never had before!


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Location:Central Ave,Colonie,United States

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cooking with Spirit(s)!

Stephen (previously mentioned here), a cook for the Miss Albany Diner and I like to go on foodventures. 

Recently we went to Harvest Spirits and met Derek Grout the Owner/Distiller.  You can read about the interview I did on All Over Albany.  After we left, we ("we" meaning Stephen - I just watched) used some of the spirits we purchased in some recipes Stephen created.

The day we went out there for the interview was a long day.  We drove around afterwards looking for a place for lunch then by the time we got home and ready to cook it was 7 p.m.  Luckily Stephen had everything planned so we could get started right away.  He wanted to use two kinds of the spirits we had purchased, the Pear Brandy and the Cornelius Applejack.  He got started with the Applejack first.

Q:  What did he do with it?

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A:  Bacon.

He created a cure from maple syrup, curing salt and Harvest Spirits Cornelius Applejack, threw it in a bag and is letting it age. 

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His plan is to build a cold smoker and smoke the heck out of it (more when this happens).  But for now it sits curing in a bag, knowing its deliciousness is only compounding by the day.

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After we (ha ha - HE) bagged it all up he started on the second project.  This was the one that he was really excited about.  He created a pear tart with a pear brandy caramel.

Take a breath and read again.  A PEAR TART with PEAR BRANDY CARAMEL.  You may pass out now.

OK - now wake up - because here is the part where I have no information.  I turned around for what I think was about SEVEN SECONDS and Stephen had created some ridiculous looking yummy crust on a cast iron pan he brought over from the flour, butter and black pepper we had sitting in bags and containers.  I don't know how it was possible to do it that fast but I looked and stuff was wrapped up on the counter, then next thing I knew it was like this:

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then half a second later it was like this: 

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HOW GORGEOUS IS THAT?  Oy.  It took a lot of self control to not just eat the stuff raw.

He then whipped up a caramel with brown sugar, butter...

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and then added Harvest Spirits Pear Brandy...

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He then spread some of the caramel on the crust.

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Stephen happened to have a bunch of blanched pears just "laying around" (because, you know, don't we all?) so he brought them, cut them, tossed them in some flour and placed them artfully on the crust.

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I want to insert here that it is NOT FAIR that he is this talented.  NOT FAIR I TELL YOU.  He made this like I make cereal.  Without a thought and effortlessly.  This is just another testament to his brilliance in the kitchen.

Anyway - finally we baked it.  By 11 p.m. it was ready to eat.  Almost too beautiful, really - but we managed.

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And we ate the whole thing.  Do you see the burnt crust on the edges?  Yeah - we pried it off with butter knives.  It was insane and delicious and wonderful.

I look forward to more cooking (with or without spirits) and foodventures with Stephen.  And more caramel.  In my belly.

Bento Box Lunch





Layer 1:
-coconut rice
- curry grilled chicken
-cherry granola cookies
-fork
-blackberries

Layer 2:
-soy nuts
- chili lime mixed nuts
-gummi centipedes (shut up)
-spoonable dark chocolate

Layer 3:
-sliced red pepper
-fresh mozzarella
-parm cheese
- gruyere cheese
-soy mini rice crackers

To drink- lemon water


Wow. I probably won't finish it all but bento box eating is really fascinating. Little bites. Impossible to get bored with your meal.


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Location:Washington Park Rd,Albany,United States

Monday, July 19, 2010

Soupy Dumps!

OK OK OK EVERYONE seems to be writing about these things.  Soup Dumplings, I mean.  Or maybe just a few people, but I want in on the action.  I read on Tablehopping, THEN on Albany Eats! about these things, then Elizabeth started kind of stalking researching them, so we had to try.

Off we went to Ala Shanghai.  We just went to TRY the soup dumplings, and it took a large amount of self control to order only those, but we did a good job.  We did end up ordering some red bean pastry type thing (they were out of turnip) and it was a good starter snack for the other snack.  A pre snack, if you will. 

I have to say, they were unlike anything I have ever had.  I love me some steamed dumplings and these were like steamed dumplings filled with delicious, soupy goodness.  The Crab and Pork were the ones we went for, and they were a true tastesplosion - like nothing else I had ever eaten.  Because of E's stalking researching!!, we had an idea of how to eat them.  Delicately lift with chopsticks to the spoon without piercing, bite off the top, pour some black vinegar with ginger strips in and slurp the goodness (later E found some other ways to eat, but this is what we had to go on the first time).

Great snack!  Wow.  The soup was almost kind of thick and very full flavored and the meat dumpling was moist and awesome.  They are beautiful to look at and fun to eat.  And the wait staff was really nice (even though they thought it was kind of weird that those were all we ordered).

After we left we went to the Big Red Asian Market on Central to see if they had anything like them.  They did!  They have ONE KIND of soup dumplings in their freezer section.  We haven't tried them yet (and are willing to bet that they aren't quite as good as Ala Shanghai) - but in a pinch...


OH!  OH!  SOUP DUMPLINGS UPDATE FRESH FROM OUR GOOGLE CHAT CONVO:

Elizabeth: oh by the way: soup dumplings in NYC.


me: yes?

Elizabeth: we stumbled across a 'famous' soup dumpling joint in our last hours there so went spontaneously and split an order of pork dumplings- a whole different league

me: no way!  howso?


Elizabeth: first... made fresh right there for you, def. not frozen


me: wow


Elizabeth: the wrappers were so thin they almost seemed translucent, dumplings were a wee bit bigger, it was like a very precarious water balloon, there was so much soup in them


me: holy moly. we had the albany version


Elizabeth: yes.  6.75 for an order of 6, btw.  i think crab and pork was a couple bucks more but we stuck with pork.  there was no way to bite the top off either. it was totally poke a hole in the side and slurp it out.  too much soup to let it drain into the spoon, too.  but they did have wee spoons in the vinegar so you could spoon some on to the drained dumpling


me: wowwwwwwwwwwwwwww  cool.




Yep.  E and I even googlechat about food.  I kind of think we might have been separated at birth sometimes.  While I am sure the NYC soup dumplings were amazing, the ones we had were very solidly good and worth a try.  The menu is pretty big so go with an appetite.  Or just go and just get those and watch the waiters shake their head at you. 



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(picture from Tablehopping blog because I was too excited to take a picture when we ordered them...)

Excellent Birthday Gift 2

KitchenAid Pasta Extruder from C...




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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Excellent Birthday Gift 1

Bento box from Lori...


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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

sleek side shot


knife3, originally uploaded by poetnicole.

just so you can get the handle detail.

new knife


knife2, originally uploaded by poetnicole.

it is beautiful.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Apricots pretty much just want to get naked.

20 seconds in boiling water then submerge in cold water and peel. You don't even have to buy 'em a drink.




I'm thinking vanilla frozen yogurt with apricot swirl...

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Lime Basil Sorbet

A hundred and seventy thousand years ago Jaime Oliver did a Basil Lime sorbet and when I heard about it I was still kind of new to the foodie scene and was kind of weirded out by the idea of basil and limes and sugar together.  Aside:  Ugh.  The word "foodie" makes me think of the phrase "alternative music".  There seems to be no better phrase for it but I hate it all the same.  I wish there was a better word.

Moving on.

I MADE the sorbet eleventy thousand years ago and loved it.  Then I promptly forgot about it.  Until now.  Because I just made that sucker and I am not sure how I possibly could have forgotten about it.  What an amazing summer treat.  And NOTHING says "put booze in me and make me a basil lime slushy fulla booze" more than basil lime sorbet.

Original recipe and how to from here but I changed it up a bit below:

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 cup fresh lime juice (about 6 ish?)
Lime Zest
30 or so fresh basil leaves
-Dissolve sugar in water and throw in the zest of 4 of the limes , bring to a boil, lower heat, simmer for 5 minutes; remove from heat, cool.
-Put basil in a food processor with 1/2 the lime juice and pulverize until it is niiiice and pasty.
-Add basil lime paste and the rest of the lime juice to the simple syrup on the stove.  Bring to low boil for a second and stir.  Pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a container.  Cover and put in fridge.
-One chilled pour in ice cream maker and spin.  Transfer frozen mixture to a container and freeze until firm.


Here it is spinning and looking all frozeny delicious:


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

TIP:  ALWAYS spin stuff cold.  The frozen base of the maker cannot stay cold enough to chill your ice cream/sorbet whatever if it is warm.
 
The flash is killing the color of it, but here it is out of the maker - and CHECK OUT THE BASIL FLECKS:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Aw man the stuff is good.  Cannot wait until it is all frozen hard scoopable.  And you can do this without an ice cream maker you know.  Just do the whole granita thing.  Google it if you have no clue what I mean.
 
More to come...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rocket Pops

Bought these at Different Drummer's Kitchen today. Currently they are filled with a raspberry blueberry sorbet. We will see how well they work. Elizabeth pointed out that they are perfect for using up that last bit of ice cream I spin that doesn't fit in the container. Normally I would put it in a smaller container but it never freezes right. And I would NEVER throw it away because I HATE wasting stuff. So- Rocket Pops to the rescue!

Also- lime basil sorbet will be spun tomorrow. We will see how it turns out.



Go Go Gadget Rocket Pops!!!

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Impromptu Foodventure

My chef ol' buddy ol' pal Stephen and I met up for coffee yesterday morning and ended up on a fun and awesome mini road trip.  Goal:  Poughkeepsie for some awesome Latina/Mexican Market visits.  They have a good amount there (I think) but we spent so much time ON THE WAY that we didn't get much time actually there.  We plan to revisit  to go to more but this entry is really about the journey - not the destination.

We drove down Route 9 and stopped ay Goolds Orchards.  Nothing was really ready to buy (some apples from last season, some jams and wines) but we talked with the owner for awhile about upcoming events and things closeby to visit.  She mentioned that they do PIE!  and also cider donuts, so I think I will be returning for such delightfulness.  We got back in the car.

A few farmstands later, we ended up at Harvest Spirits Distillery.  BY ACCIDENT, I swear.  But we got lucky, because even though they were closed, they were OPEN.  Usually the distillery is only open to the public on Saturday and Sunday, but it just so happened that Derek Grout was boiling up some deliciousness.  W stayed awhile and talked with him but I will save that information for another entry very soon.  We did some tastings (even some top secret stuff!!!) and got a LOT of knowledge.  Truth be told, I did not want to leave, but I started repeating myself and drooling and Stephen dragged me out.

Another farmstand we passed which was chock full of fresh insanity had me buying apricots (for vanilla ice cream with apricots), green beans, beets and basil (for lime basil sorbet).  I will keep you apprised of progress in the ice cream/sorbet arenas.  I have been spinning some ice cream but nothing amazing yet, although I am playing with nondairy, agave sweetened versions for my friend Lori.  I will update soon with some info on all that.

We did finally get to Po-Town but not before we stopped for lunch at Mole Mole and had some insane guac and chips and I scarfed down some chipotle fish tacos (my new obsession is in the form of fish tacos) which were good, but I was sad that they were not in corn tortillas. 

FINALLY we made it to town and stopped at three stores.  One was more of a knick knack shop which was awesome but my budget was low for fun stuff so I just looked around.  The second place was similar but they had clothes (they has AWESOME cowboy shirts) and again, just browsed while Stephen secretly bought me a hot chocolate maker thingy made of wood that smashes the choco chunk in the mug then froths the milk (cannot WAIT to try it).  The third was a big market where I did buy a few things including hot sauce, garlic boullion cubes, jalapeno nuts and horchata mix for Matt in honor of one of our favorite Vampire Weekend songs.

We actually HAD to leave because I had plans back in the ALB so we were on our way.  We stopped at a gas station to gas up and bought some drinks and ice cream for the ride back.  And really - what a great day.  The time flew and we did so many cool things, talked to so many awesome people and got to spend some quality time with eachother.  My days with Stephen* always turn out this way.  Not always fully planned, but they always end up full of excellent stuff.   I am one lucky girl.

Stay tuned for more info on the Harvest Spirits portion of our trip and my ice cream experiences!


* I should probably do an entire entry on Stephen because he has a huge amount of knowledge in all kinds of food related areas and he is just a generally great friend.  Going with him on foodventures is pretty much like taking along an encyclopedia of foodthoughts wrapped up in a deliciously warped sense of humor.  This is why I have so much fun.

Friday, June 18, 2010

the Joe guy who Trades.

Here's my running list of things am I out of from Trader Joe's.  I accept no substitutes for these:
  • dark chocolate covered edamame
  • thai green beans (frozen section)
  • soy and seed rice crackers
  • bool kogi beef tips
  • ginger snaps
  • pb and j candy bars
  • sharp cheddar chunk with granola
  • thai red curry sauce
  • bag of mixed seafood containing scallops, shrimp and calamari (frozen section)
  • assorted dried fruit
  • probably most everything else they carry
I want one here in Albany.  It is not fair that they are not here.  I am sad that they are not here.  Why are they not here?

I actually joined a Facebook group called "We Want A Trader Joe's in Albany!!!"  And, not to be mean but (ok - to be mean) they have get togethers.  Get togethers.  Like picnics.  And today they are dedicating a statue to Trader Joe in a park.  And you know what?  I kind of think that is weird.  Because as much as I would like to shop next to these people - happily push my cart in the frozen aisle in the vicinity of them, I do not think wanting the same specialty supermarket within 20 miles of my residence is enough of a reason to thread people together.  I could be wrong, though.  I am sure they all are fabulous human beings.

Either way - I will need to make a pilgrimage to NoHo soon and hit the TJ's there to restock for summer.  Who's with me?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

LOST Party and Yumminess.

Elizabeth brought something AWESOME to the LOST finale party we went to.

I made nothing themed but brought black and white cookies to symbolize...well if you watched the show you know what it symbolized and if you didn't watch it, you probably don't care.  I also brought Teeny Tiny Potatoes tossed in almond pesto, a black bean, corn and red pepper lime salad, annnnnnnnd something else apparently forgettable because I don't remember it.

On another note, I made an interesting meal last night with some chicken and jalapeno sausage from Trader Joes that I grilled on my new best friend with some vidalia onion and red and orange peppers then added to orichiette pasta tossed with a sauce of Pace roasted corn and black bean salsa (no joke - AWESOME product) mixed with sour cream and cumin.  Topped with Queso Fresco and pickled jalapenos.  Frickin' YUM.

Friday, May 21, 2010

new best friend




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Monday, May 17, 2010

Wine-n-Diner


E and I tried the Wine-n-Diner this past loverly Sunday afternoon.  It was pretty empty when we got there but it was gorgeous out and I imagine most were eating fancy pressed sandwiches on checkered blankets in the park and drinking champagne in a can.  Which is pretty cool in its own right but it made for a lot of open space in the place.

One of the first things that was WEIRD was that they have a huge menu - a really LARGE menu - but it wasn't on their website when I checked.

WHYYYYYYY?

Now, since I had checked for the menu a few days ago they HAVE put the other menus online.  And THANK GOODNESS!  Because there are THREE dishes that contain BEETS.  And the beet dishes were not on the brunch menu SO I WOULD NEVER HAVE KNOWN!

And I.  Love.  Beets.

Anyway, I forgive you W-n-D.  I will make peace with it in my own way.

Moving on.  Food:

Just so you know, the day before we went I pigged out on Sonic in Poughkeepsie on an Ikea trip and I PROMISED myself that I wouldn't eat too much.  So it was only veggies for me allllll day on Sunday.

So naturally I ordered the Black and Blue Burger. 



















Full of veggies and...health.  And goodness.  It was full of goodness.  Their meat patty was awesome and thick and juicy and cooked perfectly (medium rare).  It was spiced well and the cheese was great. The bun was buttered and grilled and made for excellent bread texture (brexture?). I could have done without the bacon but I will tell you why in a second.  In fact, I took the bacon off and didn't miss it one bit.  I know it was a boring pick, but I felt that I wanted to get something that I could compare to other places, and I have to say, it stood up quite well.  Very satisfying.  Yum.

E went all out and got the Carpet Baggin' Burger with cheddar, bacon, fried oysters and spicy aioli.  Yep.  The mofo had deep fried oysters on it.  Heck yeah!




















Yep.  That feeling going up your arm?  That was a heart attack.  Because LOOK AT THIS THING!  WOWEE!  It's DRIPPING in potential heart attack.  Potential DELICIOUS heart attack.  In fact, it may be one of the best last things you'll ever eat.  Consider it before you go into Albany Med for that lung transplant. 

So, the review from E was that it was very good (I am sure she will say more on her site eventually about taste and texture and fat content) but all I know right now is she finished the thing then sopped up the juice with her napkin and sucked on it so I assume she kinda dug it.

Because we hardly got any food, we also decided to split The Elvis:




















That is right.  That is a grilled sandwich with peanut butter, banana and BACON.  (See why I took the bacon off my burger?  See?)  And remember how much I said I love beets?  Well I love peanut butter more.  Times a thousand more.  And throw a banana on there and I am prepared to marry you. 

Speaking of marriage - um.  I want to marry this sandwich.  It was perfect.  Elvis REALLY knew what he was talking about.  Sweet, salty, fruit, grilled, meat, butter...it really has everything.  E mentioned it could have used some honey and I thought that could add another layer of flavor.  It was great without but I could definitely see it being good.

Surprisingly, that is all we got.  Although there is plenty more I would like to try so I will go back.  Soon. 

You should go.  There's parking, a great wait staff (the owner was there when we were eating and was very friendly and talkative) and lots of interesting things to choose from.  Next time I go will be for dinner.  And there will be beets involved.  And wine*.  And maybe even some more peanut butter too. 

The Wine-n-Diner is located at 544 Delaware Avenue in Albany and is open Tuesday - Thursday 7 a.m. - 10 p.m. , Friday 7 a.m. to 12 a.m.,  Be prepared for Brunch on Saturday and Sunday 8 - 4 and Dinner Saturday from 4 p.m. - 12 a.m.  WHEW!


*To balance the fact that we did NOT get wine at the Wine-n-Diner, E and I went back and drank Mojitos with Matt.  The lime, minty, seltzery lightness really cut the fourteen pounds of meat and peanut butter we had just ingested.  Anyone got any fun Mojito recipes?  Email me them!  We will try them!  We will try them REALLY HARD!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lark Tavern Sadness...for now.

Most importantly:  Friday Puppy  (Matt B., owner of Bombers and Wolff's Biergarten) seems to have done it quickest and best.  Click here to donate to help Lark Tavern out.

I have spent many a night in this place drinking, eating, reading poetry, listening to music...  My most vivid memory is of when I first moved to the area - I googled  "Albany poetry" (because I am a nerd) and I read that there was a poetry open mic.  Right down the street.  At this place called Lark Tavern.  So, I went to my first open mic poetry night there.  I met lots of people that I know and respect as writers today.  Then I was invited to do my first featured reading there (a huge deal to me) thanks to Mary Panza.  Since then I have eaten many delicious meals and have seen a lot of music and said a lot of rhymy words and shared a lot of good times there.  The place is full of joy for me and I am so sad to think about all the little nuances that will be gone. 

NUANCE MEMORY ALERT:

I saw Super 400 there not too long ago.  C was recording and we were standing behind the bar in the back of the room.  Lori's bass was so intense that it kept pushing things off the shelves behind the little bar.  First salt and pepper shakers.  Then some to go containers.  I thought it was me doing it at first then I thought I was just crazy.  After the vinegar fell on my foot I realized it was the hot, hot bass playing of one Lori Friday.  I talked to one of the waitresses about it at the end of the night and she cracked up.  I am sure it wasn't the first time it had ever happened, but maybe it was the first time that when it happened, someone thought that ketchup and salt and splenda packets were trying to attack her personally.  Yes, I am paranoid.

NUANCE MEMORY ALERT OVER.

So - have no idea what the future will bring.  Something different.  Not always bad, but not the same.  So I will take a little while to remember what I loved then think about what there will be to love in the future.

I hope I can help in some way make the new Lark Tavern something wonderful.  Maybe they will let me come in and paint, or hang a picture or something. 

OK.  Go and donate some money now.  I'm done.

Here's the link again so you don't have to use your all your energy to scroll up.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Green Box Hot Fish

Elizabeth made something from Matt's green box.

Wow.  That sounded dirty.

I will link to Matt's site which will link you to Elizabeth's site.  So it's like looking in a mirror facing another mirror.  Trippy.

I missed this meal.  But it seems that really...I didn't.


LINK TO MATT'S HOT FISH HERE.

Wow.  That sounded dirty.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Really?

How many of these do we really need?



I am not on the Chipotle train. Sorry.


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Location:Lathamish?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nikko Sushi Buffet or How Many Rolls Can You Jam in your Belly?

I love sushi.  If you have read me before, you know this.  I love it.  I am pretty sure I could eat it every day.  If they had a sushi bar with accompanying sushi chef on the island in LOST, I would have blown up the sub, the plane, the VW...any form of transportation because I would have been pretty damn happy to stay there for the rest of my life with no way of leaving (it would be OK if Sawyer were there, too). 

A few days ago, my food buddy and good friend Elizabeth sent me an email about the newly opened Nikko (1893 Central Avenue, Albany, NY 12205) Sushi and Seafood Buffet.  The email basically said "WE GO NOW!  WE GO SUSHI LOTS NOW!"  So we planned it for the upcoming Saturday.




We got there and I was immediately impressed with the decor.  They did a nice job with the look - it was a buffet but they went for a kind of classy look, and everything was pretty sleek and clean looking.  We were seated, our drink orders were taken and we were told to explore. 

The breakdown is this:  The buffet is a rectangle with a bunch of sushi chefs inside making rolls and sushi and refilling hot dishes.  I badly sketched it so you could see the layout:




















In short - the place was good.  I will go there again.  Their rolls were good and varied.  They made them in small batches so you knew they weren't sitting out forever, they had some cool tempura ones and even some fruit ones that were interesting.  They were rolled tight and didn't fall apart.  The sushi was good - they had the standard faire that you would get in a "chef's choice" kind of sushi plate.  I am not a huge fan of sashimi but it seemed fair.  It was on ice, sliced well and tasted good.  No nightmare "fishy" smell or scary looking stuff.  Obviously it wasn't excellent - but it is an ALL YOU CAN EAT BUFFET.  I don't think anything can be "excellent" at that style of eatery, or else Yono would be throwing his braised shortribs on a steam table and piling plates and forks next to them.  The best you can hope for is satisfying.  And it is.

Here's why I will go back:

1.  I usually spend AT LEAST 20 dollars on sushi when I go out.  Usually more.  For roughly 30 dollars (buffet plus drink and tip) I get good sushi and some bonus things like a few choices of soups and hot dishes plus unlimited quantities of the next thing I am going to write about...

2.  OYSTERS ON THE HALF SHELL.  They were good.  And plentiful. 

3.  Drinks and Outdoor Patio - They are still waiting on their liquor license but once they start cranking out some drinks and open the patio - this will seem like a fun place to be when it is warm.

I am sure people will go and hate the heck out of this place on their blogs and comments on Tablehopping, etc.  But the bottom line is:  IT'S A BUFFET.  STOP BEING SNOOTYPANTS.  YOU ARE STANDING ON LINE FOR THE TONGS TO FILL YOUR PLATE  TO OVERFLOWING CAPACITIES WITH THINGS.  This is NOT gourmet.  This is why I think everyone should at least give it a try.  While the concept can be scary, mentally (fresh fish in a buffet atmosphere) the owner seems to have a clue.  And this is awesome in itself.

By the way - they have hibachi too for those who are into the shrimp flipping, saki pee pee fire drill experience.