Archive | September, 2010

Caraway Pretzels

27 Sep

I remember being very young and making homemade soft pretzels with one of my babysitters.  I thought it was the most incredible thing in the world – this may have been the point in my life that I realized that you can make anything you can find in a restaurant at home, a simple but life-changing realization. My love of soft pretzels continued throughout elementary and high school, when I would go shopping with my friends and (cringing now at how many I must have eaten) we would stop at Auntie Anne’s for a cinnamon-sugar pretzel.

While moving to New York might have increased the amount of soft pretzels I consumed due to the fact that there is a cart on every corner, it definitely turned me off of them a bit.  I think that some of those pretzels must sit for days.

Only recently has the habit of eating soft pretzels kicked up again in my life. Jason pretty much lives off of bananas and various forms of pretzels, so I have taken a couple of whacks at making them myself. Luckily, we also live around the corner from Loreley, which has some of the best soft pretzels in NYC. Of course when I went to Berlin the soft pretzels were out of control.  Going to a biergarten? You will end up eating at least 1 pretzel and 1 bratwurst. Stopping at a cafe for lunch? Sandwiches on pretzel bread.

So when I received Marcus Samuelsson’s New American Table as a gift a few weeks ago from none other than Jason himself (he admits that he may have given it to me for selfish reasons), I had to try out his recipe for Caraway pretzels.

TIP: My pretzels came out a little too hard. He says to use 4 cups of flour but I would start with 3 and slowly add more as needed. Some flours are just more dry than others.

Caraway Pretzels

From Marcus Samuelsson “New American Table”


1 tablespoon active dry yeast

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon sea salt

4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 large egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash

2 tablespoons shredded Cheddar cheese

1/4 cup Caraway seeds

In a large bowl, (or an electric mixer with the paddle attachment if you have one) combine the yeast, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the 2 1/2 teaspoons salt and the flour and mix until a dough forms. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave overnight at room temperature to rise. *The more warm and moist the environment, the faster it will rise.

On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough evenly into 12 pieces. Roll out each piece into an 8-inch long rope and then shape into a pretzel. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and let sit in a warm place to rise again, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Combine 4 cups water with the baking soda in a large pot and bring to a boil. Working in batches to avoid overcrowding, drop the pretzels in the water for 20 seconds each. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to another parchment-lined baking sheet.

Brush the pretzels with the egg wash and sprinkle with the cheddar cheese, caraway seeds, and the 1 tablespoon sea salt. Place in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.


Williamsburg/Greenpoint Food Tour

22 Sep

I joined some friends the other day for a Williamsburg-Greenpoint food tour.  They actually started at 9:30am, but as the tour schedule didn’t end until 12am, I opted out of the first half of the tour, and joined around 4pm.

Now, the person who planned this tour is Jay’s best friend from high school, Jordan Cohen.  He has been teaching English in Santiago, Chile for the last several months. He is a foodie.  I also attended Blue Hill in Westchester for his birthday dinner one year. So when he made a short trip back to NYC, there were lots of places he had been hankering to try.  Here is the full schedule, for those of you who are interested. All rights reserved to Jordan Cohen.

Williamsburg/Greenpoint Food Tour

9:30am – Eating Begins

Egg ($8)

-Country Ham Biscuit


Saltie (10am-6pm $16 or $8/)

-Scuttlebutt – hard boiled egg, cauliflower, pickles, feta, black olives,  capers, aioli

-Clean Slate – hummus, quinoa, pickles, yogurt, naan


Yummus Hummus (7am-11pm $8/)

-Hummus (Baked Bulb/Hummus Hot)


Il Passatore (noon-12:30 — 2 – $15)

-Piadina prosciutto, mozzarella, and rucola (7)

-Insalata si Rapette con Pecorino – beets salad w/ mixed green, pecorino  cheese, & sherry dressing (7)

-Gnocchi al Burro – spinach and ricotta cheese dumpling w/  butter and sage  sauce (8)


St. Anselm (noon-11pm $2.25/)



Endless Summer Taco Stand (noon-2am – $3)

-Pork/Beef Tacos

3pm – Drinking Begins

Cafecito Bogota – (9am-11pm $8)

-Llanera arepa (Carmelized beef, onions in homemade chimichurri sauce, topped with avocado slices)

-Cordillera arepa (Red beans, hogao sauce, crispy green plantain, and grated queso blanco)

-white sangria


Lomzynianka (noon-9pm $5)

-Polish Platter (two pierogies, kielbasa, stuffed cabbage, bigos, and mashed  potatoes)

-Hungarian Pie (potato pancakes with beef goulash)

-Polish vodka? no se


The Commodore (4pm-12am no se ~$15)

-Fried chicken w/ biscuits and “Saltie” potato salad + adult cheese sandwich  and green-chile hominy

-Get loaded on $2 beers and/or house specialty pina coladas


Silent H (Dinner only — $6-9)

-Carpacio – A cold starter that’s extremely hot. Have your water ready.  Air- dried beef sashimi drizzled with a chili cilantro-lime sauce.

-Shrimp Street Toast – Peppered shrimp dippers with a fluffed taro and mung  bean spread.

-Veggie Street Toast – Sautéed mushroom dipper

-“Secret Stash” Chef’s beer of the week


La Superior (Dinner only – $8)

-Torta Ahogada – Sourdough bread, carnitas, beans, extra hot arbol sauce


Paulie Gee’s (6pm – 11pm $16)

-Seasonal special pizza


Honeychiles’ @ Charleston Bar (5pm-2am — $8)

-Po’ Boy

-Hush puppies

-Louisiana brews


Fatty Cue’ (Late Night until 1am $19, Dinner (pies) $6)

-Smoked pork shoulder banh mi

-Smoked brisket sandwich

-First place pies

-continue getting loaded

1am – Eating Ends

4am – Drinking Ends

Now, not everything went exactly as planned. I ended up being around for the Sliders because St. Anslem’s isn’t open until later in the day. Silent H was closed. We skipped Honeychiles because we were all stuffed and looking forward to Fatty ‘Cue too much.

So, the first thing I had was a Hungarian Pie, split between 3 people at Lomzynianka. Hungarian Pie is basically a humongous latke folded in half and filled with beef goulash. Um. What’s not to like? A cute older (what I assumed to be a couple) runs the place, and when you’re eating there its like you’re grandparents invited you over for dinner.  So cozy, such comfort food, really nice people.

Next up, The Commodore. The frid chicken was really really good…but alas, not the best I’ve had. But the little buns and Salty-sweet butter they served with it were to die for. Somehow after the fried chicken we managed to ALSO split an Adult Cheese with what I believe were Poblano Peppers in it.

I know its starting to look like heart attack central around here, and that’s not too far off, but keep in mind that these were all being split between several people.

At this point we headed over to St. Anslem’s for sliders.  It turns out that they recently lost their liquor license, so we ordered our sliders and headed next door for some beers.

I have not stopped thinking about these sliders. They were so good. I am not a fan of big meaty burgers – I like thin patties, delicious creamy melted cheese, and soft buns. That was exactly what these were. I want to go back. Now.

After the sliders and sampling some new Belgian beer, we took a much needed long walk to Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint, where we got one margherita pizza and one pizza with hot honey. If you are a pizza aficionado, Paulie Gee’s in a must-try.  Paulie himself was even there to meet and greet every table, walking around in his apron and holding a vintage-style bottle of Coca-Cola. He and I had a nice chat. I told him I had a food blog, he told to check out his Flickr.

You can probably understand why at this point nobody was exactly jumping up at the though of going and eating a Po’ Boy. So we went straight to Fatty ‘Cue, a mix of Malaysian food and American Southern BBQ, the Grand finale of the night. Unfortunately, the late night menu, which contains the famous smoked pork shoulder banh mi AND the smoked brisket sandwich, doesn’t start until midnight, and because we had cut out a couple of places, it was about 10:30pm when we got there. Rather than wait, we decided to go with the Hand-pulled lamb shoulder and the Whole Pig (which, by the way, is just pig parts, no-where near a whole pig). Everything was delicious, but not getting the smoked brisket sandwich was a huge disappointment, considering that Grub Street named it the best sandwich in New York City.

And the perfect drink pairing of course…

Those pigs look about how I felt by the end of the day.

Watermelon-Raspberry Agua Frescas

17 Sep

Okay, I have to share this recipe with you now while we are still squeezing out the last couple of warm days leftover from summer and while locally grown watermelons and raspberries can still be bought at the store. Of course, you can make aqua-fresca out of lots of different things–canteloupe, mango, pineapple – some people even use nuts and grains. Agua fresca is Spanish for “fresh cold water”. The idea originally came from Mexico and Central America, but like most things, has gained a popularity in the US (the popularity growing due to the fact that they now sell freshly prepared ones at Whole Foods).

All that an Agua Fresca is is fruit (or cereals, grains, or vegetables) blended with water and sugar. You can also add a splash of sparkling water or club soda for a fizzy drink, or some vodka or rum for a fun drink!

Watermelon-Raspberry Agua Frescas

Makes 2 servings


3 cups of watermelon

1 cup of raspberries

1 cup of cold water

3 tablespoons sugar

juice of 1 lime

Smash and mix all of the ingredients in a blender. Add a touch of club soda, a shot of vodka or rum, freeze it and make popsicles, or serve it in fancy glasses with a wedge of lime or some other fancy garnish!

Cooking with Friends: Baked Salmon, Tomato-Pepper couscous and Roasted Broccoli

13 Sep

Since our friend Sam is in town visiting for a few weeks from Berlin, Amanda, Nicole, and I decided to get together with her and cook dinner! Amanda and Nicole both love to cook as well, and Sam just started a Supper Club in Berlin called Krauted Haus. And we all love to eat.

After debating various recipes and making a fun-filled trip to Whole Foods where Samantha took disposable camera photographs of the fish and beer sections, we decided to make Baked Salmon with butter, lemon, and parsley, and roasted broccoli and couscous on the side.  We ended not following any particular recipe and everything on the plates was absolutely delicious.

And so was the Cherry Garcia Fro-Yo and Chocolate Fudge Swirl ice cream. MMM.

Simple Baked Salmon with Butter, Parsley, and Lemon


1-2 lb slab of fresh Norweigan salmon (average about 1/2lb per person)

2 handfuls of fresh parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons butter, sliced into several smaller pieces

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice plus 1 lemon

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

This is so simple to make.  Preheat the oven to 375°. Cover a baking sheet with tin foil, and place the salmon on top.  Evenly place the chunks of butter all over the salmon, sprinkle the parsley on top, squeeze the lemon juice over it, and season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cut the remaining lemon in half and place it fruit side up on the pan.  As the fish cooks the lemons with get all sweet and juicy, and you can squeeze them over the fish or whatever veggies your have on your plate.  Bake the fish for approximately 20 minutes, or until fish is opaque and slightly flaky.

Perfect Roasted Broccoli


1 head of broccoli

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves minced fresh garlic

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut the stalks off the broccoli and throw away. If you wash it, be sure to dry it very well with paper towels as this is the key to a good roast. Break up the broccoli into manageable pieces.  Toss in a bowl with olive oil, garlic, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spread it evenly on a baking sheet lined with foil. Roast for approximately 15 minutes or until broccoli is slightly tender and starting to blacken on the tips.

Couscous with Roasted Grape Tomatoes and Sweet Peppers


1 cup couscous

1 cup grape tomatoes

2 Italian sweet peppers

extra virgin olive oil

Blacken the peppers on your gas stovetop, if you have one. If you don’t, you can use your broiler. Roast the grape tomatoes on a small pan at 400° or under your broiler until they crack open or begin to prune. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil, remove from heat, then stir in the couscous. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove the stem and seeds from the peppers then mince them. Mix them into the couscous, as well as the grape tomatoes, which you should mash up as you mix. Mix in a dash of olive oil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

We paired our meal with Prosecco with raspberries in it!

Greek Whole Wheat Pasta

8 Sep

I’ve been making this dish for years. My roommate and I used to make it at least once a week in college. Its so simple and cheap to make but so tasty.  Greek salads have always been one of my favorite things – I just love the combination of the crisp lettuce with soft feta cheese and salty-meaty kalamata olives. This pasta recipe has the same taste of a Greek salad but uses whole wheat pasta and swiss chard for some green and a slight spice.

Greek Whole Wheat Pasta


3/4-1lb Whole wheat pasta (shape of your choice)

5 large tomatoes, diced

1 large bunch swiss chard, roughly chopped

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup kalamata olives (you can leave them whole or chop them up)

olive oil

white cooking wine

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the pasta.  While it is cooking, heat 1-2 teaspoons olive oil in a large skillet. Add the tomatoes, swiss chard, and garlic and cook on Medium-High for 2 minutes. Add a couple tablespoons of white wine to the skillet, then reduce the temperature.  Allow the swiss chard and tomatoes to cook about 5 minutes, until tender but not soggy.  Drain the pasta, then mix it into the skillet. Sprinkle the olives and feta, mix a couple more times, season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and enjoy with a loaf of warm crusty sesame bread and simple salad.

Pasta with King Crab, Mint, and Jalapeño

3 Sep

I’m just going to admit it. This recipe is from Top Chef.  It was prepared for the Quickfire challenge on Season 2, episode 7 of Top Chef Masters by Chef Jonathan Waxman, owner-chef of Barbuto in the West Village. I wouldn’t say I follow Top Chef “regularly”, but I will pretty much always watch an episode if its on and I’m channel surfing (for which my days are numbered).

When I saw this dish on the show, I wrote down “PASTA CRAB JALEPENO MINT’ on a blue sticky note sitting on the coffee table, and have since been meaning to make it.  Its a dish that he serves at the restaurant that he says is one of the most popular dishes.  The biggest complain from the judges on the show was that there wasn’t enough crab, so I made sure there was PLENTY.

So so good. Make this. Its so easy (minus the messiness of pulverizing the crab legs, but that is why you should learn from my mistakes and get a pair of Crackers, rather than telling yourself it will be completely fine with a meat tenderizer.

Other things I learned: be gracious with the mint AND the jalapeño. This recipe only calls for 1, but to be honest, I would probably use at least 3 if I made this again, and I don’t like my food spicy.

Pasta with King Crab, Mint, and Jalapeño

From Jonathan Waxman, Top Chef Masters on Bravo


1 cup King Crab meat  (or more! I used 3 large crab legs, probably closer to 1.5 cups)

1 jalapeño, diced (as I said before, I recommend using more, at least 3)

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup mint leaves (or more if you wish)

1 lb pasta (Waxman uses Angel Hair, I used Conchigle)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lemon

1 lime

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fill a large pot about halfway with water. Bring to a boil then add 1 teaspoon of salt along with the crab legs.  Cover and reduce heat. Let cook for about 6 minutes, then remove and rinse legs immediately in cold water. Using your crackers, remove all the crab meat and shred down any large pieces.

Cook your pasta then drain and keep ready. In a large pan (I actually used a Wok), melt butter. Add jalepeno, mint, garlic, and a touch of zest from the lemon and lime. Saute for 1-2 minutes, then add crab.  Cook 1 minute more, just so the crab is warm, then add pasta. Cook until everything is just heated through, then add a squeeze of lemon juice and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with fresh mint. I also grated some fresh parmesan over the plates.