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I am an Operations Manager at a snack food company and I hold a Master's Degree in Food Studies from New York University. By night I hang out with my schnauzer and explore the city's newest, strangest, most delicious food and drinks.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cooking Local: Banana Beer Bread















I love banana bread. When I was a kid I liked it with chocolate chips and more recently I've been baking dense, fudgy versions. I got the inspiration for this new recipe from Brooklyn Brewery's Brown Ale. The notes of caramel, chocolate, and coffee are a natural match for banana. Plus this recipe calls for half a bottle, so please give the other half a good home.

The result is a fluffy, complex banana bread with a moist crumb. I use a mix of regular and whole wheat flour so I can feel less guilty about eating this for breakfast.

 What you'll need:

  • 1 and 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 very ripe bananas (I store mine in the freezer once they start to go south)
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 6 oz (half a bottle) Brooklyn Brown Ale 
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking power and soda, and salt) together in a large bowl.
 
2.Mash up all but one of your bananas. Cut the last banana into coins. Mix together your wet ingredients in a small bowl. (Make sure the melted butter has cooled or it will cook your eggs!) Stir your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and combine. 

3.This makes one 9 x 13 loaf or two smaller loaves. Bake for 45 mins or longer- make sure the middle of the  bread doesn't jiggle when you remove it from the oven. 



After the bread cools, enjoy with coffee, chocolate milk, or of course, a Brown Ale. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Best of the Best: Cafe Luluc

I'm very pleased to have an opportunity to write about Cafe Luluc. A friend told me about the pancakes there, and so I made the trek to Cobble Hill on a Saturday morning to try them out.

The cafe is a small, busy spot, but after waiting just a few minutes my party of two was seated. We ordered the pancakes. There is only one variety here; no banana or chocolate chip varieties and no option to have your pancakes covered in whipped cream and strawberries.



And that is all for the best. Cafe Luluc serves the best pancakes I have ever tasted. I usually add lots of butter and a bit of syrup to my stack, but these flapjacks were perfect as is. Intensely buttery and slightly sweet, the cakes had crisp exteriors but were dense and rich inside. Half an order will fill you up but it is easy to keep eating these yummy, dreamy pancakes.

Cafe Luluc in Cobble Hill
214 Smith St
(between Baltic St & Butler St) 
BrooklynNY 11201


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sweet Reviews: Cousin John's Bakery


Only one block away from my apartment in Park Slope is the biggest danger I have encountered since moving here: Cousin John's Bakery. The narrow storefront on 7th Avenue is easy to miss, but once you discover the yummy goodness inside it will be hard to walk past. Better yet, the treats are priced to move.



The huge fruit tarts feature a thick buttery base topped with layered  peaches, apricots or pears. At $4 each, they make a great dessert for two.

I'm also a fan of the cookies ($1 each). Cousin John's has a new selection everyday and the staff are happy to tell you all about them.

But my favorite goody and in my opinion, the best deal, is the apple coffee cake. You get a big square for $2 dollars and the texture is perfect- the apples are not overcooked and the crumbly topping adds a luxurious sweetness.

There are plenty of tables to sit and enjoy your purchases and the kitchen is open so you can watch the bakers work their magic. I hope you'll join me for some coffee and cake at Cousin John's soon!


70 7th Avenue 
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(718) 622-7333


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Brooklyn: A new frontier

Hello gentle readers!

After some time away from you, I return. I have relocated to Brooklyn and am busy eating all the important, exotic, delicious things here. Stay tuned for the following food discoveries:

Cousin John's Bakery
Kiwiana
YN Wine Bar
Park Slope Food Coop
Blueprint
Fleischer's Butcher Shop

And more.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sweet Reviews: Dough

This is the second post a series focusing on local sweet makers. 

 I never guessed I would find my personal heaven in Clinton Hill. 


Dough is a fabulous donut shop with huge, yeasty donuts coated in rich, intense frosting. You can also find these angels of pastry working at the Brooklyn Flea in Williamsburg every Sunday. That's my kind of spiritual experience. 

The hibiscus donuts seen here (flanked by blood orange on the right) were sprinkled with crunchy candied hibiscus petals. But the unconventional flavors are not just a gimmick. Stop by to taste a traditional sugar jelly donut hole (on the house) and you too will believe. 


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sweet Reviews: Chozen

This is the first in a series of reviews focusing on local sweet makers. 

I discovered this frozen treat just in time for warm summer nights in need of dessert. Three New Yorkers got together to create Chozen, a Kosher, all natural ice cream inspired by traditional Jewish baked goods.  Chozen features enticing flavors including Coconut Macaroon and Apples and Honey. You can find them in Whole Foods, Zabars, and these other local outlets


Matzoh Crunch is the first Chozen ice cream I tried, and it was a great start. The vanilla base is rich but not eggy. Crumbles of matzoh covered with toffee and chocolate is mixed throughout. The matzoh was still crunchy and the toffee was rich and buttery. Here is what it looks like.


Be careful once you start eating this- it is hard to stop!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Review: Fresh Grill Cafe Meal Delivery

I like to cook, but who wouldn't enjoy sometime off from planning, shopping, cooking and cleaning? I have fantasized abut having a private chef, so when I saw a deal online to have 3 meals a day delivered for 5 days at $100, I decided to give it a try.

Fresh Grill Cafe is just starting out and is based in New York. Nutrisystem is probably the best known meal delivery program. Like Nutrisystem, Fresh Grill Cafe offers flexibility. Your plan can include many combinations of meals and snacks, can be completely vegetarian, and offers calorie control whether you are looking to lose, maintain or gain weight (I chose a maintenance plan). Unlike Nutrisystem, all the food from FGC is fresh and delivered daily in a cooler. Here is a look at some of the meals I had last week. 

Breakfasts
For breakfast I received oatmeal (x3), pancakes, and a fruit and nut parfait. 


The outside of the container had cooking instructions for the oatmeal pictured above, which I followed. There was a strange spice mix (and maybe dried milk) and after cooking, the oats were still raw. Considering that it is easy and inexpensive to make microwave oatmeal, I was not impressed with this offering. 


Above is the fruit and nut parfait, which is even more pink and slimy looking in person. I thought this might just taste like artificially flavored yogurt, but the pink creamy mess was the worst breakfast I have ever experienced. It tasted like a combination of chalk and cough syrup. 

Lunches
I tried some of the vegetarian options offered by FGC. Here is a picture of a "chicken" (seitan) white bean pasta I was offered for lunch on Monday. 


Unfortunately I don't enjoy seitan, and after heating this up int he microwave, it had a terrible, rubbery texture. The beans and pasta were overcooked to a mushy consistency. It is worth noting that while FGC offers a vegetarian menu, that menu is essentially the normal menu with soy and/or seitan substitutions for meat.

Luckily on Wednesday I had a much better lunch. The screaming Yankee bison burger held up well in the microwave. The burger had a nice spiciness incorporated in the meat and was topped with a chipotle sauce. The burger gave me hope for the rest of my meals!

Dinners 
Before my meal delivery began, I had a consultation over the phone when I selected my meals and discussed my preferences. Unfortunately, two of the meals I received for dinner were not what I ordered. When I complained to Fresh Grill Cafe, they immediately offered to make up for it by giving me extra meals on Saturday. 

One dinner they got right was Chicken Parmesan. My side of  grilled squash was simple and enjoyable. The pasta was cooked to a nice consistency. However, as you can see, the "parm" was very light on sauce and cheese, and the chicken just didn't taste good. The breading had a stale flavor. 



To sum up my experience with Fresh Grill Cafe, here are the pros and cons. 

Pros:
  • Convenient
  • Well priced
  • Fresh, not frozen
  • Calorie controlled
  • Friendly customer service
Cons:
  • Not much variety
  • Limited vegetarian options
  • No ingredients listed 
  • Wasteful packaging (15 plastic containers!)
  • Just doesn't taste good
  • Not dependable (bad cooking instructions, wrong meals received)
The bottom line for me is taste. It will always be a challenge for a home meal delivery system to offer freshness and tasty food. For now, I'll keep cooking for myself.