Tuesday, June 20, 2006


There are some times when you don't want a fancy meal. You want something easy that you can eat quickly, preferably using your hands rather than silverware. But that doesn't mean you don't want it to be tasty, with various flavor combinations that you perhaps never thought of combining before; flavors you'll want to repeat later in your own cooking. For these times, 'wichcraft is the place to go.

Owned by Tom Colicchio, 'wichcraft is the least expensive outpost to his ever-expanding food empire. And, after loving his astute criticisms in Top Chef, we were dying to try one of his restaurants. But, since money is tight right now and we're saving all we can while searching for an apartment, 'wichcraft was our only realy option for the time being. So, hungry for lunch yesterday afternoon, 'wichcraft it was!

A new outpost of 'wichcraft recently opened up on 8th street and Broadway, right in NYU territory, so we decided to head over there. The decor is industrial--painfully white, painfully clean--but, somehow, it works. The kitchen is out in front and that too is spotless. While deciding what to order, we watched the cooks put together other people's orders and, as it almost always does, that certainly helped influence our ordering choices.

When we finally did decide, I opted for a cool Sicilian Tuna sandwich. (The sandwiches are divided up into breakfast, cool, warm and ice cream.) Served on a baguette, there were hunks of dark pink tuna meat, thinly sliced fennel marinated in what tasted like olive oil with a splash of lemon and small specks of black olives. The sandwich was a great size--not so big I wasn't able to finish it, but still considerably more filling than bread.

The boy had decided on a warm Grilled Cheddar, but, watching a warm Meatloaf with Cheddar be prepared, he quickly changed his mind. The meatloaf was served on a ciabatta roll, with melted cheddar, bacon and tomato relish. The bacon was beautifully crunchy and the meatloaf and cheddar soft and creamy. To my surprise, the relish tasted sweet--almost like a homemade barbecue sauce. Again, there was a healthy amount of meat, but not so much it fell out all over the place.

The only part of our meal that was less than stellar was the Iced Coffee, having sat in a perculator all day. But that's certainly not enough reason not to return!

60 E. 8th Street (@ Broadway)
New York City

and and and and

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Mixology Monday: Mint Julep

As soon as I saw Kaiser Penguin's announcement of Mint as the theme for Mixology Monday, I knew what I wanted to make: a Mint Julep. A few years ago, while reading Gone with the Wind for what must have been the thousandth time, I noticed that Rhett Butler was drinking a Mint Julep. I mentioned this to the Boy, who admires Rhett greatly and he immediately announced that he wanted to try one. So, over Memorial Day weekend, I set about making one. Unfortunately, I had no Kentucky Straight Bourbon, so I used an old bottle of Jack Daniel's Sour Mash Whiskey instead.

I did enjoy the Mint Julep quite a lot, but Jack was a little too rough, it being so old. Also, Jack Daniel's has its own particular, wonderful taste, which didn't meld as well as it could have with the Mint. Now that I've bought a bottle of Bourbon, I will try this again.

Mint Julep

1/4 cup fresh Mint leaves
1 cup Sour Mash Whiskey
2 tablespoons Simple Syrup (equal parts Sugar and Water, cooked until sugar has fully dissolved and mixture become syrupy)

Put mint into pitcher and mash, using a muddler. Fill pitcher halfway with ice. (Ice balls are best, since they will not dilute the drink, but will keep it cold.)

Add Whiskey and Simple Syrup. Pour into glasses. Keep pitcher as cold as possible.

and and and and and

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Glace pomme-mangue

As I've said, it's been very hot here lately so we've been having quite a bit of ice cream. And after buying so much ice cream, I finally decided it was time to make my own.

For Chanukah this year (oops--forgot to blog about that; oh, well), the Boy gave me an Ice Cream Ball. Specifically designed for camping, this ball makes a pint of Ice Cream. You put the Cream ingredients in the small end and Ice and Rock Salt in the surrounding ball area. Then you roll it around for 20-40 minutes and *poof!* you have homemade Ice Cream! My Californian Ladies and I brought it down to Mexico with us where we broke it in by making Vanilla Ice Cream. I was so impressed I couldn't wait to try it out in NYC.

I decided to start with something a little fruity, but something where you could still taste the cream and milk. So I went to see what the supermarket had to offer by way of inspiration and found an organic Mango Apple Sauce made by Leroux Creek. So I decided to use this as the flavoring for my Ice Cream. What follows is my recipe for the Ice Cream base. Since I assume not many (any?) people have the Ice Cream Ball (although I highly recommend it!), just put the mixture into your ice cream maker and follow the instructions.

Glace pomme-mangue

1 cup Milk
1 1/2 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
3 tablespoons Mango Apple Sauce (or more, if you want the taste to be stronger)

In a bowl, stir together Milk and Heavy Whipping Cream. Add sugar slowly, stirring well so it dissolves completely. Stir in Mango Apple Sauce, making sure it is perfectly incorporated. Let chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to strengthen flavors. Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions. If you desire a harder ice cream, pack into a metal container (I used an old coffee can) and freeze until desired consistency.

Makes 1 pint.

and and and and and and and

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Focaccia d'ail, asperges. fraises & romarin

May certainly is Asparagus month! First there was Blog-Appetit, whose theme this month was Asperge-Fraise [Asparagus-Strawberry] and now Kevin at Seriously Good is searching for Asparagus recipes for his Asparagus Aspirations. The idea is that after this month we'll have a collection of Asparagus recipes for next Asparagus season, when Asparagus takes over the gardens of those lucky enough to have them.

For us city-dwellers, Asparagus is in season as well. Almost every trip to the Greenmarket results in my bringing home yet another bunch (0r two) of Asparagus. Usually I just roast them with Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper and maybe a little Garlic to preserve their fresh flavor. But yesterday I decided I wanted to do something more interesting.

I have never successfully cooked with Yeast, so I decided now was as good a time as any to try again. In Garlic, Garlic, Garlic, a cookbook the Boy gave me as a Chanukah present this year, there was a recipe for Focaccia that looked simple enough. I used their recipe for the Dough, which worked perfectly, making only one change, which was to add some Cardamon. Next time I would grind the Cardamon Seeds as that is the only way to release their flavor. I made my own topping, taking my cue from Blog-Appetit. Although time-consuming, this is not difficult. Dad loved it and the Boy and I are already discussing the possibility of other toppings.

Focaccia d'ail, asperges, fraises & romarin

1 tablespoon Active Dry Yeast
1 cup Warm Water
3 cups All-Purpose Flour
Salt and Black Pepper to taste (I used a little over 1 teaspoon of each)
Seeds from 4 pods Cardamon, ground
Leaves from 3 sprigs Rosemary, snipped
3 tablespoons Olive Oil

Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup Warm Water and let stand until foamy. In food processor with dough blade, combine Flour, Salt, Pepper, Cardomon and Rosemary. Add Yeast, remaining 3/4 cup Water and Olive Oil. Mix until dough forms a ball. Add more Flour if dough is very sticky. Coat a large bowl (big enough for the dough to double in size) with Olive Oil. When dough has formed a ball, move it from food processor to bowl. Roll dough around bowl to coat in lightly in Oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place to double in size. This should take 1 hour.

While it rises, make the Topping:

1/4 + 2 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 1/2 cups Asparagus, chopped
1 1/2 cups Strawberries, chopped
10 cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
Leaves from 4 sprigs Rosemary, minced
Salt, to taste

Heat 1/4 Olive Oil in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add Asparagus, Strawberries, Garlic, Rosemary and Salt. Stir to combine ingredients, then lower flame and cook, covered, 15 minutes. Remove saucepan from flame and reserve.

Lightly coat pizza stone with 1 tablespoon Olive Oil. After dough has doubled, place on lightly-floured surface and roll into circle the same size as stone. Place on stone and stretch dough to fully cover stone. With the tips of your fingers, press "dimples" (small indentations) all over the dough. Cover with a clean towel and let rest 20 minutes. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon Olive Oil, distributed as evenly as possible. Spoon Asparagus-Strawberry mixture evenly onto dough using a slotted spoon so no excess liquid seeps in. Cover with towel and allow to rise for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 F. Place pizza stone on a large baking sheet. Put about 10 ice cubes on sheet around border of stone. Place in oven. Reduce heat to 425 F. Bake for 25 minutes until golden around edges. Place towel or old rug at floor of oven to catch melting ice cubes.

Allow focaccia to cool on cake rack. Cut like pizza and serve warm.

and and and and and and and