Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Blue Smoke

My boyfriend told me last week that he wants to become a pitmaster. And I don't think he's kidding. A recent trip to Blue Smoke may have been the catalyst. Rightly so, too.

We had no idea, but it was restaurant week in NY so they had a tasty prix fixe meal on offer. Lunch was $24.95 per person and included an appetizer, main and desert. You could pay an extra $16 (if I recall) for a beer sampler to accompany each dish. Had it not been lunch and if we both weren't kinda broke, I would have gotten that beer sampler in a second.

Kris started with Chipotle Chili Buffalo Wings and I had a sensible winter salad. Kris was the clear winner here.

Leftover bones in a handy bucket

Industrial chic?
Because it's a BBQ joint, we had to have some Kansas rub ribs. Mine with "pit beans" and Kris's with collard greens, because he's a southern boy.
The ribs were so good they didn't even need any extra BBQ sauce, although what they had on offer looked might tasty too.
Because it was pretty frigid outside, I went with Hot Chocolate and Warm Chocolate Chip Cookies for dessert. The hot chocolate was one of the best I've had- honestly. You could tell it was made with real chocolate and milk. (imagine that!)
Kris couldn't resist their Apple Crumble with Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Overall, we were really pleased with Blue Smoke and already have plans to return. I think we both knew we had picked a winner when we walked in and saw that the restaurant is connected to a jazz club upstairs. Nice.
Just don't wear white.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hyped up Cupcakes for a Monday Morning

Before I managed to find and buy an egg beater when we made the move to NY, I knew I had to make cupcakes. Although I baked a ton while living in London I never had the chance to make cupcakes because they just don't sell cupcake pans. at all. The closest pan they had was for Yorkshire pudding, but those are much too wide and short- not features you want in a cupcake.

I may have made these cupcakes for my office about 3 weeks ago but I sure could use one now...

Creaming the butter and sugar by hand is one heck of a workout.

Incorporating the liquids and dry ingredients into the creamed butter.

Fill about 2/3 of the way

Let cool

No pipping bags either.. But a ziploc will work in a pinch!

Just add a little dusting of ground coffee to really perk up these tasty treats.

In the morning sunlight

Hyped-up Coffee Cupcakes
From this recipe on cupcakeblog

  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature *
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dark roast coffee grounds
  • 1/2 cup strong brewed, dark roast coffee
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons milk

1. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.

2. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

3. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated.

4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and coffee grounds in a bowl.

5. Measure out coffee and milk together.

6. Add about a fourth of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine.

7. Add about one third the coffee/milk mixture and beat until combined.

8. Repeat above, alternating flour and coffee and ending with the flour mixture.

9. Scoop into cupcake papers about two-thirds to three-quarters full (depending on whether you want flat or domed cupcakes. Note that these cupcakes will shrink slightly when they cool).

10. Bake for 22-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

Tip: Be careful when adding the coffee/milk mixture to the batter. If you add it too quickly the mixture will look curdled. Add small amounts and beat well to incorporate.

* I never remember to take my butter out in time so it usually ends up nestled in my cookbooks on top of the heater.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Tuiles- Take Two

After such a dismal baking performance with this month's Daring Bakers Challenge, I promised myself to try again. And I'm so glad I did- no unnecessary chocolate powder, no ovens turning off and proper timing led to some truly scrumptious treats filled with lemon flavoured whipped cream.

This time, my dough was white

Burning my fingers for the sake of DB

All dressed up!

Might have to revive these confections for an afternoon tea this spring.
Simply delicious.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Oh right, It's the Superbowl

I'm gonna go ahead and admit that I kinda don't like the Superbowl. Maybe what I mean is that I don't like sports in general. When my boyfriend asks whether I want to go to a baseball game, I say "Sure. As long as I can eat as much as I want." This is how I ended up eating a loaded Chicago hot dog, a bag of peanuts and 3 illegally purchased beers at Wrigley field a couple summers ago. And the illegal part isn't because I was under 21 but that my driver's license was vertical. Are you following this? In Virginia, your first license is vertical and in big red letters says: "Under 18 until this date" and "Under 21 until this date" And even though the date listed was clearly some time (years!) ago, this didn't make a difference to Wrigley field. They have their owns laws. All of this to say that if it weren't for food and drink, you could not drag me to a venue or pin me down to a sofa to watch sports.

This year, we decided to make Hot Sausage dip- a recipe that was cleverly inserted into a gift I received this Christmas from Kris' Aunt Diane.

Look at that printed recipe!

Step 1: Dice up a pound of processed cheese. No, this isn't going to be a very healthy or natural recipe...

After softening some onion and garlic, add in a pound of lean ground beef and 1pd of jimmy dean sausage roll. We couldn't find any jimmy dean sausage roll and had to substitute.

The recipe says that once the meat is browned, to melt the cheese in the microwave and then add the meat mixture to the cheese. Not wanting to dirty another bowl (or maybe I just don't have another bowl) we cheated a little..

Clearly deviating from the recipe

Then we just threw in the rest of the ingredients: the can of jalapenos and our fake can of Rotel. We also added some garlic salt and cumin (well, I wish we added cumin. We were out and used ground coriander instead because this is supposedly similar)

General consensus? Might look like dog food, but it sure does taste good!

Hot Sausage Dip
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pd Jimmy Dean sausage roll
  • 1 pd lean hamburger meat
  • 1 pd processed cheese, diced
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 10oz can Rotel (diced tomatoes with green chillies)
  • 1 7oz can chopped jalapenos

Add oil to a large saute pan. Once hot, add in your onions and garlic and cook until softened. Next add the beef and sausage roll making sure to crumble it as it browns. Next add in cubed cheese and rest of ingredients as the cheese melts.
Serve with corn chips.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Lexington Candy Shop

About two weeks ago when Kris and I experienced our first snow in New York, we decided to go to the Met.
Walking through Central Park
I've always been grateful that I have a boyfriend with the same museum going philosophy as I, namely that it is not necessary to read everything (unlike my mother) nor look at everything. I prefer walking through a room, hoping something will catch my eye at which point I will investigate further. I don't have the patience to pretend to be interested in the traditional attire for a warrior in papau new guinea. No offense.

I had been to the Met once before and hadn't seen much of anything but with a museum like that, you're gonna need several trips anyway. Kris had never been, so this trip was a real walk-through. My only goal was to find the Temple- you know, the one from When Harry Met Sally where Billy Crystal starts talking funny: "Waiter, there is too much pepper on my paprikash. "

The Temple of Dendur

We were getting a bit peckish and needed a place to warm up after trudging through the not-yet-plowed sidewalks. We ended up at the Lexington Candy Shop which has not changed much since it opened in the 1920's.

Breakfast is offered all day so I got a plate of yummy blueberry pancakes and a strawberry malt while Kris got a buffalo burger (not realizing it was made from buffalo) some onion rings and a throwdown winning doughnut. Although Kris wasn't overly thrilled with his onions rings, i would say that on the whole, this place was pretty awesome.

Our one real complaint? No free refills or heat ups (that's right!) on coffee.

Good thing they bring it out pipping hot.