Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Mangue, mochi et sauce de caramel

There are few things I enjoy more than exploring a new food store. And when that store is Trader Joe's, one of the things I've really missed since leaving California, well, I'm in heaven.

For those of you who don't know, Trader Joe's just opened its first store in New York City, with a wine store next door. Miraculously, the prices have not risen and now we get all kinds of delightful Trader Joe's products, such as Mango Mochi.

I saw these little balls of goodness in the ice cream taste a warm day last week and just knew I had to try them. I also bought a couple of Mangoes to make a nice, easy dessert out of them. Once home, I decided to serve them with a Caramel Sauce, having found what looked like a simple recipe in A Taste of San Francisco, a book I've used before.

Perhaps if I had ever made Caramel Sauce before, it would have come out fine, but the Sugar hardened too quickly and my first attempt produced a burn mark on my saucepan that took two days, Baking Powder and Vinegar to get out. If anyone has advice on my Caramel mishap, I'd greatly appreciate it. I think the problem was that the Sugar was hot and the Cream I poured in, cold. But when I let the Sugar cool, it coated the pan in a hard, burnt sugar crust.

The Mango Mochi were a big hit, though. And, although there were chunks of hardened caramel in it, the sauce wasn't so bad either.

and and and and and and

Sunday, May 28, 2006


In the US, Memorial Day Weekend typically signifies the start of summer--the beaches open and, supposedly, the temperature spikes up. Of course, this doesn't often happen, but this year it was like clockwork. Saturday, the first day of the weekend, it was all of a sudden 80 F in New York, and it's probably going to stay that way until August.

So what to do when it's this hot out? Have Ice Cream, of course! Wandering around the West Village, looking at apartments, the Boy and I walked by Cones, an Argentinian-owned Gelateria I remember Dad taking me to from the time I was very young.

Cones was, of course, packed, but we were happy to wait while perusing all the flavors and it wasn't long before our orders were taken. I first tasted the Corn Ice Cream (how could I not?), which really tasted like frozen creamed corn--a little too strange for me. I then decided on the Ginger Sorbet, in honor of Sugar High Fridays, hosted this month by Once Upon a Feast and whose theme this month is Ginger. When I ordered my Sorbet, the man behind the counter insisted I taste it first--"It's very strong," he said. I followed his instructions, as did the man standing behind me in line. The result? Fantastic. The best Ginger Sorbet I've ever had. The secret? It's made with fresh Ginger, not candied.

I was so blown away, I couldn't even begin to imagine what to make for SHF. And the Boy's Dulce de Leche and Dark Chocolate ice creams paled in comparison to my sorbet.

272 Bleecker Street
New York City, 10014
212 414.1795

Update: Check out Ruth's beautiful Gingery round-up here!

and and and and and and

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Salade Waldorf, My Way

When trawling through blogs and collecting recipes one Sunday afternoon, I noticed that Elise had blogged a recipe for Waldorf Salad, a salad of Celery and Apples (among other things) all dressed with rather a lot of Mayonnaise. Now, I do like Mayonnaise on Sandwiches and in Tuna Salad, as long as it's used sparingly. But, very often, I find that a lot of people go a little overboard with it. So I've never really enjoyed Waldorf Salads, finding that they just have too much Mayonnaise. But, seeing Elise's recipe, I was intrigued to try making my own and making it to my particular Mayonnaise tastes.

Fast-forward a few weeks to when I finally had time to cook again, even to make something as simple as a Waldorf Salad. But now I'm in New York with the Boy, who absolutely refuses to eat Mayonnaise. Elise mentioned that some people substitute Mayonnaise with plain Yogurt, but that that made things too tart. So I looked at some substitutes for mayonnaise and started thinking about what would really work with the other ingredients of a Waldorf Salad. One thing I always think is missing is a spicy flavor; something that would give the Salad a nice kick. So I made a mixture of Mustard and Aioli. Not wanting to go too overboard with the spiciness, I chose a Myrtille-Violette [Blueberry-Violet] Mustard by Maille to enhance the fruitiness of the ingredients. This made a perfect salad as a side dish to Chicken.

Salade Waldorf

2 Apples (I recommend Gala or Pink Lady), cored and chopped
3 ribs Celery, chopped
1/2 cup Pecans, coarsely chopped (I just ripped them in half)
Fleur de Sel, to taste
1/8 cup Myrtille-Violette Mustard (or your favorite fruit mustard)
1/8 cup Aioli
Spring Salad Mix

Toss together Apples, Celery and Pecans in a bowl. Add Fleur de Sel to taste. Add Mustard and Aioli and mix all-together. Let sit until ready to serve. This gives the flavors a chance to combine. Before serving, toss with Spring Salad Mix.

Serves 4 as an appetizer or side dish.

and and and and and

Blogging Events: Blog Appetit Asperge-Fraise

Every time I turn around, it seems there's one more blogging event to participate in. And, unfortunately, it's so easy to lose track of them! As most of you know, Is My Blog Burning does a great job of telling us a lot of what's going on and one of my favorite ways to find new recipes is to look at the round-ups of blog events that I've either participated in or been unable to. It's also a great way of discovering new blogs!

Today was Blog-Appetit #8, whose theme was Asperge-Fraise. Blog-Appetit is the blogging event of the Francophone Blog world, where two ingredients are presented and participants have to make a dish combining them. The dishes are then commented on by a professional French chef. Sound like fun? It certainly is. In the three Blog-Appetits I've participated in, I made Stuffed Mushrooms, Grilled Mussels and a Roasted Duckling. Quite good, if I do say so myself.

So what did I make this time around, you ask? Well, I thought about making an Asparagus-Strawberry Focaccia, but didn't quite get around to figuring out how to make it work and not be too odd a combination. So, instead, I browsed through some favorite blogs tonight to see what others had come up with. Take a look at the complete list of participants. Something tells me we'll be eating a lot of Asparagus and Strawberry this week. Good thing they're both in season!

Also beginning today: Mixology Monday, hosted by Kaiser Penguin. The theme is Mint. Mint Julep, here I come!


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Soupe de betterave

Very often, when searching for something to cook, I browse the food blogs for interesting recipes. A little over a month ago, Clotilde posted a recipe for a Soupe de Betterave, Pate d'Anchois aux Noix and, to say the least, I was intrigued. At that time, I had some Walnuts languishing on a shelf and I was excited to put them to good use.

Unfortunately, I never did use those walnuts and ended up going down to Mexico and moving back to New York before I had a chance to cook again. But, once set up in a kitchen again, I was ready to try my own version at a Beet Boup.

When I hear "Beet Soup," I automatically think of a rich Borscht, with a scoop of Sour Cream served in it, then swirled around before eating. I really did consider adding Anchovies and/or Walnuts to the cream, but got lazy at the last minute. This Soup was really incredibly easy. Since I've been suffering from a slight head cold, I decided to make the Soup extra oniony to give it a kick. After the Beets were soft, I pureed about half of them so the Soup would be smooth and "taste more like itself," as Mom says, but still have the chunks of Beets and Onions that I really enjoy.

Soupe de betterave

3 Beets and their Greens
3 Yellow Onions
1-2 tablespoons Butter
1 teaspoon Brown Sugar
1 Bay Leaf
3 tablespoons Cider Vinegar (I used one with Honey in it)
4 cups Chicken Stock (you could also use Vegetable)
6 cups Water
Salt, Pepper
6 stalks Parsley
3 stalks Dill Leaf
1/2 container Creme Fraiche
1 small container Yogurt

Peel Beets and cut them into thin slices (the smaller the slices, the faster the Beets cook). Wash the Greens and chop them.

Peel two of the Onions and slice them finely.

Mince the third Onion.

In a dutch oven, melt the Butter, then add the minced Onion. Cook for about 5 minutes, moving the Onion pieces around with a wooden spoon, until the Onion takes on a caramel color. Add the Beets, the other 2 Onions and the Greens.

Add the Sugar, Bay Leaf and Vinegar.

Simmer for about 3 minutes, stirring all the while.

Add the Stock and Water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so there are just tiny bubbles. Salt and Pepper to taste and cook until beets are tender, around 1/2 hour depending on how finely sliced the beets are. When beets are tender, remove about 1/2 of the solids and puree them in a food processor. Stir the puree back into the Soup.

Combine Creme Fraiche and Yogurt in a bowl. Serve soup with a heaping tablespoon of Creme Fraiche-Yogurt. Sprinkle with Parsley and Dill, cut up.

and and and and and

Friday, May 19, 2006


I have left California permanently and moved back to NYC. The Boy is working on the law school writing competition and I'm searching for jobs, so we haven't had much time to eat well. Nevertheless, we did find a charming cafe down in the West Village where the entire staff is French and speaks that food-friendly language to one another. And, of course, any place that reminds us of Paris is a place to which we're happy to return again, . . . and again.

We spent most of Wednesday in the house and, late in the afternoon, realized we were starving and that I was really craving a good cup of coffee. So we wandered South and West and stumbled upon A.O.C., which we had read about several times in Time Out but had never actually tried. (Apparently, A.O.C. is named after a French foodie-film, L'Aile ou la cuisse, which I am now on a mission to see.) Two women had just sat down for a drink at one of the small sidewalk tables, so we knew they were still serving.

Inside, the restaurant was empty, so we chose a small table next to a big window looking out on the street. The walls are covered with old French advertisements, which were fun to read as we were brought our menus. The names of the dishes were in French, with the descriptions in English--a perfect compromise.

The first thing to arrive after we ordered was my Cafe au Lait--a big cup of coffee with the foam glistening on top; kind of like a combination between a Caffe Latte and a Cappuccino. The coffee itself was strong and only slightly bitter.

Next we received our meals. I ordered the Salade de chevre, which advertised itself as "Phyllo pastry filled with goat cheese and spinach over a spinach salad." Normally, a salade de chevre comes with two or three small crottins of chevre on a big bed of greens. Not so at A.O.C. There was as much Chevre as there was Spinach, if not more. The cheese was stronger than Chevre normally is in the States--a welcome change. The Spinach salad was very lightly dressed with a mustardy vinaigrette and the Spinach sitting underneath the Chevre was cooked by the heat of contact. The Phyllo outside was also wonderful--a perfectly crispy texture contrast to the smooth, creamy Chevre inside.

The Boy opted for the Steak a cheval, Ground sirloin topped with a sunny side up egg and served with parsley mashed potatoes. Ordered medium, the Burger came as the French rose--brown outside, pinkish-red and warm inside. The Egg on top mixed wonderfully with the meat. Unfortunately, the Parsley Mashed Potatoes suffered in comparison to everything else. Although quite buttery, they were a little dry and had nowhere near the grand assortment of flavors everyhting else shared.

All in all, we've found a new neighborhood restaurant.

314 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10014

and and and and and and

Monday, May 08, 2006

San Felipe

Before we all go our separate ways, the girls and I are going down to San Felipe, in Baja, Mexico, for four days. We're renting a little cabana on the beach with a kitchen and the plan is to sun (except for me, who just burns), read, swim, sleep, relax, eat and drink. I have a list of Restaurants in San Felipe as well as a few recipes I think would go well with our warm climate. And, of course, I'm bringing down my camera (now that it's finally back in my posession) and will be taking lots of pictures of what we eat, see, etc.

So be well, and I'll see you in a week!

and and and and

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

My Bat-Mitzvah

One of the main reasons I have not been good about updating my blog the past few months is that, though by no means 12-years-old, I decided to have a bat-mitzvah. A bat-mitzvah is the Jewish coming-of-age ceremony and a Jewish woman officially comes of age at 12. However, when I was 12, for various reasons, there was no celebration or ceremony. But this year I finally wanted to have one, which meant I read from the Torah for the first time, also reciting an Aliyah, a blessing, over it. I also chanted the Haftorah, a reading from the Prophets that the Sages decided years ago goes well with the particular Torah reading of the week.

Needless to say, there was quite a lot of eating going on as well. My Orthodox, Kosher family came in from New York, so we tried out many different Kosher restaurants in the area. A brief synopsis:

Friday afternoon, we went to the Milky Way, a Kosher Dairy restaurant owned by Leah Adler, Steven Spielberg's mother. Leah explained to us that she has two duties: welcoming guests and telling them her specials and she does both beautifully. The restaurant is known for its Potato Pancakes, Cheese Blintzes and Cheesecake, all of which we tried and all of which were wonderful. Also notable was a Pistachio Pasta that I had, which was Rotelli Pasta with a Sauce made of broken-up bits of Pistachio, Soy Sauce and Garlic.

Saturday, we bought catered food for an Oneg Kiddush, the big, festive meal you eat after Saturday morning services. We bought food from Nessim's--Lox, Barbecued Cod and other Smoked Fish, Baba Ghanoush, Egg Salad, Tuna Salad and various accompaniments such as Tomatoes. Everything was great and beautiful. We bought our baked goods from Delice Bakery, a Kosher French Bakery with wonderful Tarts, Cakes, Challahs, Rolls and Cookies. They were also absolutely charming.

Sunday afternoon, we reunited with our family living in California and had a big party in Beverly Hills at BBC Cafe, a French-Moroccan restaurant. They gave us a private room and, while the food was good, the company was even better. We had salads (which included fresh Pears and Strawberries), fried Meat Balls and Tuna Rolls, Marinated-Grilled Vegetables and a platter of Meats, many spicy, some salty, but all good.

All in all, it was a very delicious weekend.

The Milky Way
9108 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035

8939 W. Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035

Delice Bakery
8583 W. PIco Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035

BBC Cafe
8620 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

and and and and and and and and and