July 29, 2009

My oh my.


This recipe for blondies has done the impossible--convinced me that there exists something that surpasses the snickerdoodle. Seriously, if you like snickerdoodles, you simply must try blondies. They're pretty much the awesomest thing ever.

The Udon Dilemma

It wasn't until the 11th grade that I realized "dilemma" was not spelled "dilemna". For some reason I thought that the correct spelling was too straightforward to fit the definition. Then I realized, since when has English ever made sense? Double M it is.

My dilemma today was that it was, once again, very humid. So humid that I fought the urge to take a shower upon returning from "the outdoors". Unfortunately, my stomach just didn't seem to get it. It begged me to make udon noodles pan-fried with sausage, onions, and garlic. Not exactly your average summer fare.

What's a girl living in humidity to do? I succumbed to my stomach's demands and thankfully it was merciful enough to allow a cucumber salad as accompaniment.

Ingredients:
1/3 package of turkey kielbasa sausage, sliced thin
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 single-serve package udon noodles (any flavor)
1 large egg (why buy any other size? unless it's extra-large..)
1 kirby cucumber, sliced very thinly
Seasonings like soy sauce, salt, pepper, rice vinegar

Preparation:
1. Stir-fry the sausage (should be sliced very thin) with the onion (chopped) in a saucepan over high heat until the ingredients are fragrant and begin to brown.
2. Add the clove of garlic (sliced thin) and the udon noodles. Gently break apart the noodles with a spatula. Season with salt, pepper, and soy sauce (if desired).
3. Break in the egg and keep stirring the mixture until it's cooked. Serve with sliced cucumber (drizzle with rice vinegar or black vinegar if you wish).

Hopefully with the addition of that cucumber, you'll be able to enjoy this hot dish with minimal discomfort even in the late July heat. It also helps to eat it next to a fan. :)

Whenever I see stir-fried udon noodles on the menu at Asian restaurants, I can't resist ordering them. But it really is VERY easy to make at home, and I like it that way because I can control all of the ingredients. Add and delete what you will from this recipe (the possibilities are too numerous to be mentioned, but off the top of my head: tomatoes, bell peppers, sliced jalapenos, mushrooms, broccoli, shrimp...). Another thought that comes to mind is topping these noodles with some cold kimchee instead of the sliced cucumber. Doesn't that sound garlicky divine?

July 23, 2009

Carbaholic

"Only bread seems to ease her malaise, buttered bread, enormous slabs of it, what she's heard people in this village refer to as doorsteps. She eats it fresh from the oven, slice after slice, sometimes not bothering with the knife, just tearing it off in handfuls. One day, alone in this kitchen, she consumed an entire loaf between noon and supper."
--Carol Shields, The Stone Diaries
Tell me about it. I love bread. Good, soft bread. I have indeed torn it off in handfuls, eating it not with butter, but with garlic hummus.

But what I love best of all about bread is the sandwiches you can create with it.

I've been on a sandwich kick ever since having a pulled pork sandwich from Num Pang, made on a delicious, crisp-yet-tender baguette from Parisi Bakery. Not long after, I bought some French loaves, cucumbers, tomatoes and sliced deli meat at the market, and practically drooled on the way home as I imagined the sandwich I would make upon entering the confines of my apartment.
















There you have it. All I have to say is, if you have cucumbers and bread, you are well on your way to a beautiful, light summer sandwich. So long as the bread is sturdy and soft, and the cucumbers are cold and crisp, life is good.

July 21, 2009

Size matters

"I could not have wished for a prettier little wife at the opposite end of the table, but I certainly could have wished, when we sate down, for a little more room. I did not know how it was, but thought there were only two of us, we were at once always cramped for room, and yet had always room enough to lose everything in."
--David Copperfield
Reading this suddenly reminded me of a brunch at Tea & Sympathy, a little (literally, little -- little tables, little chairs, little aisles...) place in Greenwich Village that made me feel like a giant. At one point I dropped my butter knife on the ground and dreaded the idea of bending down to pick it up. Go there if you are blessedly tiny--you'll feel quite at home there, laughing at the bigger folk, who will appear out of sorts amid all the undersized furniture.

July 19, 2009

Diary of a Sweet Tooth

Dessert mania this weekend. But why do I still find myself on this particular Sunday night, lusting after a matcha green tea cupcake? The following isn't even a full account of all the desserts I consumed this weekend. 'Tis but a snippet of my eating activity over the past few days.

CHIKALICIOUS DESSERT CLUB

E. 10th btwn 1st/2nd av.

Thursday night, I finally made it out to Chikalicious (Dessert Club, not Bar) and ordered a red velvet cupcake, adult chocolate pudding, three chocolate chip cookies, cheesecake and molten chocolate cake.
(Red velvet cupcake in forefront, chocolate pudding in background.)

Report card
Red velvet: C+ (The cake itself was fine, but unexciting. The frosting was whipped and weakly flavored. Whipped + warm do not equal delicious.)
Cheesecake: B (Good grade, considering that I don't usually like cheesecake.)
Cookies: A- (lots of chocolate; reminiscent of a Subway or McDonald's cookie, rather than an upscale bakery, but still pretty darn tasty.)
Adult Chocolate Pudding: A (yum, yum, yum, but not sure about the bed of chocolate crumbs below it.)
Molten Chocolate Cake: B- (Too "molten" for me...needed some more cooking time. It was basically raw brownie dough inside a thin cooked layer. The vanilla ice cream was unoffensive though.)

SHANGHAI CAFE
100 Mott St.

I had the chance to devirginize a soup dumpling newbie this weekend, and where did I take her? Shanghai Cafe, where my friend took me after I realized what those buns I had been eating were called in English. So in a way, I guess I also had my first experience with what others call "soup dumplings" at this place, too.

Ordered a dessert item for the first time here. At our gruff waitress's behest, we selected the red bean pancake, which was surprisingly not very sweet, though the pancake part was sadly too oily (not good oil, either, but the old, stale kind). Next time I'll probably opt for the red bean steamed buns or the sesame rice balls instead.

MOMOFUKU BAKERY/MILK BAR

@ 2nd avenue/13th st.

Pictures probably do more justice to this place than I could:


Ordered the above slice of banana cake for $5. I wasn't a fan of the banana cream portion, but highly enjoyed the hazelnut crunch (the brown layers). The cake layers were my favorite part, though: nice and cold (and moist), summoning back memories of many a Sara Lee pound cake consumed straight from the freezer. Two opposable thumbs up for the banana cake!

P.S. Also tried two samples of their soft serve (one rosemary, one apricot). The rosemary was strangely salty and the rosemary was too overpowering...I felt like I was having savory overherbified cream. McDonald's soft serve wins hands down against either of the flavors I tried at the milk bar.

P.P.S. Kyotofu's matcha green tea cupcake is to die for.

July 13, 2009

Cheez louise.

At first I liked this story:
"We were excited about getting jobs; we hardly went anywhere without filling out an application. But once we were hired--as furniture sanders--we could not believe this was really what people did all day. Everything we had thought of as The World was actually the result of someone's job. Each line on the sidewalk, each saltine. Everyone had rotting carpet and a door to pay for. Aghast, we quit. There had to be a more dignified way to live. We needed time to consider ourselves, to come up with a theory about who we were and set it to music."
--"Something That Needs Nothing," by Miranda July
Then it got weird, like a bad imitation cheez ball.

There appears to be much confusion in the cheez ball world. Chowhounders lament the discontinuation (?) of Planters Cheez Balls. Some try to fight back by signing the petition. Others say that they're still being sold in Blockbusters stores, but that they taste different...in a bad way. Last of all, what on earth is this stuff? Cheez balls in a bag just seem wrong.

July 8, 2009

A scone a day...

keeps Emily's munchies at bay.

Last night I finished Judith Ryan Hendricks' Bread Alone, a novel about a woman who bakes bread to heal from a sudden divorce. It's kind of a cheesy read, but it makes up for its literary shortcomings with the inclusion of recipes and frequent descriptions of food. For example:
"There's two schools of thought about scones." She smirks a little. "At least around here. There's fluffy scones--they've got more cream and eggs. Kind of like biscuits. And there's short scones, which I prefer. They've got more sugar and a lot more butter. They're denser, almost like shortcake."
I don't know if it was the book or just my body's reminder that I hadn't had a scone in too long, or what, but I woke up today knowing that I had to have a pastry. (OK, so maybe I wake up most days wanting to stuff a pastry in my mouth, but still. Today it was an especially potent longing.)

I discovered Eleni's by mistake. Located in Chelsea Market, they happened to be having a recession special: free coffee or tea with any breakfast item. For my breakfast item, I chose, of course, a scone. They had three delicious ones on display: oat, cranberry, and plain. I am definitely a vanilla-loving plain Jane – whenever I happen upon a new eatery, I like to order the original of whatever they offer. Plus, the plain scone was just too spectacular to resist:


What's that? You want a close-up? No problem.


What a hunk. Definitely worth the $1.75. If you're wondering, Eleni's plain scone can accurately fit into Hendricks's "fluffy scone" category, boasting just the right hint of sweetness to remind you that it's not just a regular savory biscuit. You'll also find the iced coffee to be a perfect walking companion on any warm, summery day.

Eleni's, 75 Ninth Avenue, New York, NY 10011

July 1, 2009

(Not) Coming Through the Rye

Looks like we won't be able to buy Swedish author Fredrik Colting's unauthorized sequel to The Catcher in the Rye in the U.S. In the 37-page ruling filed today, Judge Batts wrote:

"In fact, it can be argued that the contrast between Holden’s authentic but critical and rebellious nature and his tendency toward depressive alienation is one of the key themes of Catcher. That many readers and critics have apparently idolized Caulfield for the former, despite — or perhaps because of — the latter, does not change the fact that those elements were already apparent in Catcher.

It is hardly parodic to repeat that same exercise in contrast, just because society and the characters have aged."
Cool. Judge Batts would've made a good English lit professor.

I'm not one of those avid Catcher in the Rye fans, but I remember I had a good time reading it. My sister mentioned this really good quote the other day and it's certainly one of the best parts of the book:
"Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean - except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be."
I mean, how could you really improve on that? What an idea. I wonder if the 76-year-old "Mr. C" in Colting's sequel ended up being what he wanted to be: the catcher in the rye. Just that, and nothing more.