Monday, November 30, 2009
One store bought pie crust
2 C canned pumpkin (1 can)
1 C dark brown sugar
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/3 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 C Heavy cream
2/3 C milk
4 large eggs
1. Put pie crust in pie dish. Some recipes call for you to pre-bake the crust. I normally don't for this recipe, the crust will cook all the way through by the time the filling is set. If you prefer to pre-bake do so at a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Then cool.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Adjust rack to the lowest position in the oven.
3. Process pumpkin, sugar, salt, and all spices together. Put in saucepan and simmer over medium high heat. Cook until thick and shiny, stirring constantly. It will take about 5 minutes. The mixture is pretty thick to begin with so I normally leave going till it just starts to bubble, the smell will intensify as well. That is when it is all done.
4. Whisk heavy cream and milk into pumpkin mixture and simmer again.
5. In separate container beat eggs together until well combined. When pumpkin mixture is simmering again add a small amount to egg mixture and stir. Then add eggs to pumpkin mixture in two turns, one half at a time. Make sure the pumpkin mixture is not too hot and boiling - it will turn the eggs into scramble egg chunks in the pumpkin.
6. Ladle mixture into pie crust and bake until filling is just puffed - about 25 minutes. The top will look a bit dry. I like to do the jello test. Gently shake the rack the pie is sitting on. If it looks liquidy its not done but if it looks solid but jiggles like jello its done.
The best cooked pumpkin pie is one with no cracks on top. If cracks begin to form its done.
As I said before, this pie is good. Even though I don't like pumpkin pie I still sample a bit of this every year. It may require a few extra steps and dirty dishes to make but it is well worth the effort.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Once again I was hit with the dreaded brunch timing for this meal but the menu offered several non-breakfast items to pick from. I had a Prix-Fixe meal with caramelized pear crepes, a English grilled cheddar sandwich with apples and bacon (I know funny to eat English in a French bistro) and a mixture of homemade ice cream. The Prix-Fixe menu gives a three course meal with a few choices for each course and is a great deal. I will warn you that it serves quite a bit of food and I was very stuffed by the end of the meal. I also ordered a French hot chocolate, the French part making it serves in a bowl-sized mug (gigantic) and real dark chocolate (very rich). Essentially I could have sipped away on this all afternoon and been satisfied. They also offer a full range of cheeses and sausage platters. You can purchase all of the cheeses at a little shop fromagerie in the restaurant. The atmosphere was a bit noisy and the tables are tightly packed so you can easily overhear conversations of the neighboring tables. However, it is a good kind of liveliness and an enjoyable time. You can plan on spending about $20 for a meal give or take a few dollars. The food was good and well portioned. They have a great website for reservations, menus, and cheese shop information.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
About a year ago, I dined for the first time at Mesa Grill, Bobby Flay's NYC restaurant. This dinning experience though was tainted with the dreaded brunch hour. It was a delicious meal but I made the mistake of first looking at the dinner menu. This menu had many more options and appealing choices to pick from than the brunch menu I was given to pick from on this particular day. Of course I felt somewhat unsatisfied when the brunch meal ended.
Never fret for too long though as I recently had another opportunity to sample Flay's southwestern selection. For an appetizer we had what I believe they refer to as a fondito, a take on the French fondue I assume. I think the term more people are familiar with though is queso. This beautiful smooth white cheese is serve with a variety of chopped peppers on top and homemade blue corn chips lightly salted. I could eat buckets of this and be completely satisfied. But why limit yourself when there is a full menu to enjoy.
My entree was the roasted duck with somewhat sweetened rub and served with a churizo sausage tamale. Both were delicious and worked well together with the flavorings. Again all of the dishes I have sampled here have a southwest flare but are not hot/spicy. The portion was perfectly sized for meal on its own and not too big if you want to pair it with a dessert.My mom enjoyed the Cornmeal encrusted chili rellano. It was filled with cheese and roasted eggplant. It is slow cooked so although there were a few hot bits the overall feel was sweeter. This a lighter meal and obviously a good vegetarian options. My way of looking at it is that it is good way to save room for dessert.
Monday, November 16, 2009
The name City Bakery can be deceiving. Although it is a bakery, City Bakery offers so much more. There are three sections to the restaurant if you can call it that. The front one offers all sorts the normal bakery treats of bread, cookies, and pastries as well as coffee and cafe selections. If you are in for a real indulgence try the Hot Chocolate. They give samples and trust me when I say the little shot they give out will fill you up. It is rich and thick and oh so good; its reminiscent of European style hot chocolate.
Second smaller section was serving hot more hearty breakfast eats of eggs and French toast. The larger back section was housing yogurt and fresh fruit for parfaits. Again I was there at the change over and these were being taken down to make room for all sorts of salads.
The layout is designed for you to order, grab and go or sit and enjoy your food selections. I had a small snack of the one of the most well-known treats at the City Bakery, the Pretzel croissant. I don't like croissants usually. I find them too buttery in flavor and the flakiness does not fill me up. However, the salty pretzel flavor muted the butteriness. It was delicious and quite different than anything else I have had. I really enjoyed it and at around $4 it is the perfect snack. I highly recommend a visit and I plan to go back again soon for more of a meal. Don't bother with the website, it is quite disappointing and good only for an exact address.
As I said earlier, the City Bakery is right around the corner from Union Square which happens to hold a lovely farmers market most days of the week. Obviously in the summer months the market takes up most of the park with all of the vendors. I was pleasantly surprised though by the amount of vendors still in attendance mid-November. Walking through this market is one of my favorite things to do in the city. I am a bit weird. Anyway, they have so much variety to look at from heirloom veggies, pear cider, homemade cheeses, baked goods, canned goods, and game meats. There are several yarn and floral vendors as well.
This vegetable stand had purple carrots all piled high. I normally leave feeling somewhat disappointed as not being able to purchase the perishable to cook with. This is however another great place if you are look for a put together lunch of bread, cheese and fruit or a treat of natural fruit juices or homemade yogurt.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Over the two years of life after college I managed to accumulate a fair amount of random Tupperware pieces. Some were good durable pieces, other cheap throw away ones meant for children to bring in their lunch boxes at school - the thought being if lost they were so cheap it doesn't matter. This eclectic mix made for a messy cabinet despite my best OCD cleaning and organizational efforts. The mess caused much distress for my mental health and piece of mind. I know this sounds a little crazy but I like things neat. And you cannot find me a person that would not get annoyed by opening a cabinet in the kitchen only to be attached by an army of falling Tupperware lids and containers.
Now I am embarrassed to admit that I lived like this for many months and probably most of the two years debating whether I should invest in a nice neat set that would greatly improve on the ability to keep that area orderly. Jordan can vouch for me when I say almost every trip to Target gave me the opportunity to browse the storage/Tupperware aisle debating the pros and cons of getting a set. My thoughts were that I had perfectly good containers in the apartment already no matter how annoying it was to store them; I really didn't NEED new ones. It was the ultimate NEED vs. WANT argument in my head.
Finally when shopping with a friend I got the kick in the butt I needed. I swallowed my thrifty ways for the afternoon and bought the 20piece set from Rubbermaid. I must say I was very happy and still (months later) with this purchase. Who knew that little plastic pieces could make someone so happy. As you can see from the picture above I can be proud of my little storage area. And the person who invented the stackable lids is a genius!
Saturday, November 7, 2009
The batch is suppose to make some 40 cookies if you make the balls approximately tablespoon size. As you can see by my picture above I would say mine are about double that size. I cooked off 12 and probably have enough dough left for 10 more of a similar size. I say if you are going to make cookies you might as well make them big enough to enjoy. Plus the smaller you make them the more you have to make. I tend to loose patience after the second tray goes into the oven; I have a great tendency to burn the third batch.