Month: July, 2009

homemade ginger ice cream…without an ice cream maker!

homemade ginger ice cream made by hand

i’ve been bewitched by food porn in the form of ice cream sandwiches. back in boston last week, i snatched the last issue of gourmet ice cream sandwichesgourmet from my house and spent parts of a long car ride and a plane trip devouring articles on chinese bbq in canada, mentally planning an extended stay at an organic farm outside beijing, and fantasizing about caramel. i was particularly attracted to the idea of homemade ice cream sandwiches, as depicted on the magazine cover to the right which entices me with its summery colors like a party dress at a bash in the hamptons with lusciously rich desserts from swanky catering companies. to drive the point home, there’s a huge section on homemade ice cream. and as if to prove the power of visual stimulation, there is currently homemade ice cream in my freezer right now. it’s slowly edging its way to the crystallization phase and then i will jump on it and break up those crystals, because i don’t have an ice cream maker. although in case you’re wondering, my birthday was last week and i am still accepting presents.

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family styles reunion

irene and the lobster blt SMALL

hello from irene bean and a kickass maine lobster BLT.

the sisters (and parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins) had a family styles reunion for reals in new york city this week. activities included short ribs and pies at the irish pub; bibimbap, jap chae and massive amounts of raw beef at the korean barbecue; omelettes, cointreau-flambéed orange french toast, banana blueberry pancakes at brunch, and an immense number of soup dumplings.

oh, and chicken noodle soup in the hotel room. that’s how we do.

street food in boston: chickpea fritters and incredible bread from the clover food truck

chickpea fritter sandwich

my mother has been working at the same building at MIT medical my entire life. that’s 27 years (as of last week…yeeesh) that i have been visiting or picking her up on the same exact street in cambridge upon which there have never before been big white street food trucks serving freshly made locally sourced meals. and all of a sudden, i pop into boston for three days and here you are, delightful clover food truck.  so happy to make your acquaintance.

if you don’t obsessively follow the san francisco food scene from halfway around the world like i do, you may not know that street food is big these days. it used to be just the taco trucks and the tamale lady when you were drunk at zeitgeist. now everything from soup to salami and curry to creme brulee is being sold from carts and bikes and trucks and hovercraft all over the city. okay, maybe not the last part, but that would be pretty sweet. anyway, the SF street food scene has seriously blown up recently, as have the NYC and LA scenes, many of whom release their locations in real-time via twitter. even from london, i know exactly when a delicious fatty cured pig part sandwich goes on sale at a random intersection in san francisco and i can only mourn that i’m about 6,000 miles too far away to get in line. it’s gotten so big that it’s even spawned a backlash of anti-street-food-fad-sentiment. yes, you know things have gotten big when the haters come out to play. but ignore them and revel in the excitement that is street food. beyond all the tastiness, what’s particularly exciting is that the amazing people at la cocina are organizing a street food festival and the go game is running a street food themed scavenger hunt!  if you’re anywhere near san francisco, go sign up to play because it’s going to be AMAZING.

anyway. talking about street food gets me so excited that i’ve lost track of the original topic of this post, which was intended to be the excellent clover food truck. hooray boston for not letting sf, nyc, and la grab all the attention and making an impressive showing of your own.

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experiments in the kitchen: orange spice pecan shortbread cookies made with leftover egg yolks

orange nutmeg shortbread cookies

suppose you’ve made a delicious meringue. suppose you then have six egg yolks, tragically separated from their egg white counterparts, sitting forlornly on your kitchen counter and hoping not to be wasted. what to do?

the obvious answer:  you make cookies! i actually think that answer applies to many different scenarios, but maybe that’s just me. anyway, in a valiant attempt to save the extra egg yolks, i went for a little baking experimentation. i decided to throw together all the usual cookie suspects – butter, sugar, flour – and add the extra egg yolks and see what happened. a little poking around in the kitchen cupboards resulted in the addition of nutmeg and allspice for added flavor and an orange in the fridge was also requesting to be consumed and zested. and as soon as the cookie dough circles were baking, i noticed a big bag of pecans next to the oven so i pulled the cookies back out and pressed the halves on top for an additional flavor dimension and some visual excitement.
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ginger meringue + fresh whipped cream + perfectly ripe berries = the holy trinity that is pavlova

ginger meringue and berries

i’ve always been meh about meringues. the texture’s so dry and chalky and the taste so overly sweet that it felt like a dried out hardened marshmallow left to die a lonely death on the arid plains of some forbodingly airless planet. actually, now that i think about it, meringues resemble astronaut ice cream, but less awesome because they don’t come from the science museum or exist in space.

but… all of a sudden, the meringue has new meaning! i’ve always been a sucker for desserts involving fruit and cream and  i have recently become acquainted with the fabulous and apparently sort of retro dessert known as the pavlova.  oh, the pavlova – named for the ballerina anna pavlova and invented somewhere down under (both australia and new zealand claim ownership) – it elevates the lowly meringue to a shining pedestal for a magical combination of pure whipped cream and fresh ripe berries. no longer dry and chalky, the cream adds a light and airy feeling to offset the brittle meringue and the juices bursting forth from the fruit. no longer marshmallowy sweet, the unsugared cream and tartness of the berries temper the intense sweetness of the meringue to perfection.  hooray! the meringue has returned with a vengeance.

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groundnut stew and the namesake dish from spinach & agushi on broadway market

peanut chicken, spinach and carrot salad from spinach and agushi

one of the best presents i’ve gotten recently is my trusty little guide, which i’ve been addicted to since hopping over the pond. the author lives somewhere in the east end and has introduced me to some of my favorite local spots within minutes of our hackney home. i’ve eaten my way through nearly every east london location in the book. through pounding the pavement in search of each amazing spot, i’ve also stumbled across some lovely little gems that deserve a place in the next edition. i highly recommend the books – they’ve got editions for a number of major cities.  i love the visuals of the book and the amusing content and one of my goals in life is to write and photograph the second london guide.  cabazon books, i’m here for you. or rather, you’ll be hearing from me.

anyway, one of the food spots mentioned in the book, spinach & agushi,  is so local that it can only be found once a week at broadway market on saturdays. i can also be found weekly at broadway market, but i’ve been so busy eating roast hog sandwiches, violet cupcakes,  and wild mushroom risotto that i’ve only passed their ghanaian food stall with a longing glance and vowed to return posthaste.

return i did with michelle, one of my many conspicuous consumption partners in crime. after a wild mushroom sandwich from sporeboys, we worked up our appetites again wandering the market chatting with producers and sampling more food until we finally felt ready to take on spinach & agushi. our menu options were as follows:

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experiments in the kitchen: zucchini, potato, and onion focaccia with fresh herbs

potato zucchini focaccia dough photo

i’m making focaccia for rambling restaurant tomorrow! i’m excited because it’s my first time doing any real cooking for our secret supper underground restaurant and because i’m currently in the midst of a focaccia obsession. i’m also a little nervous because it’s my first time doing any real cooking for our secret supper underground restaurant and it better be good because people are paying for it. yikes! i think it’ll be great, but bread can be temperamental and i really hope it doesn’t get angry with me tomorrow.

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thanks to the breadman, i'm rich with megacake

a wall of megacake

hello and welcome to an indomitable fortress of megacake, a towering and impenetrable wall of chocolate, caramel, and shortbread. just try to scale those sugary heights….i dare you.

perhaps you are thinking, what is this remarkably tasty looking wall of dessert? and furthermore, who is that shady looking figure up in the corner?

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experiments in the kitchen: a (non)recipe for roasted tomato focaccia with mixed garden herbs

roasted tomato focaccia

i am not particularly good at following directions when it comes to baking. often, i am also bad at planning ahead to make sure i have/purchase all the ingredients necessary to make whatever i initially planned. i used to think that both those failings were major liabilities on the kitchen front, but i’ve decided that they can actually result in unexpectedly useful instances of discovery and creativity.

take, for example, the above roasted tomato focaccia. i made my first rosemary and sea salt focaccia last week, following this recipe from a spoonful of sugar as closely as my inattentive measuring and poor gram-to-cup conversion skills would allow. the result was a tasty but certainly not exciting sort of flatbread, a little too thin and a little too dry to be considered a really stellar focaccia.

upon attempting my second round of focaccia,  i had the brief thought that maybe i should pay better attention to the recipe, which seemed to work really well for the author. then i decided to screw it and go the opposite route. instead, i’d just make the adjustments i deemed necessary – i wanted it to rise more, so i added more yeast. i wanted a more moist bread, so i added more olive oil. i also found this recipe for perfect cherry focaccia from a chef from the river cafe (their menu makes for some very enticing reading btw; i shall venture there once i actually start generating an income).  i really like what this writer, stevie parle, says in the recipe:

‘Its hard to give a recipe for bread, as it is in the hands of the baker, use this recipe as a guide.’

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farm tours with the hackney hostel: the biggest of pigs and the manliest of donkeys

hackney city farm is home to some of the most delicious food and some of the most entertaining residents in london.  i’d venture to say that this farm visit, consisting of a little breakfast eating and a little animal ogling with chris, drewstew, becky, and lexi, also resulted in the some of the most entertaining photos i’ve taken in london. how’s that for some superlative action? i think you might have to agree with me though, when you see photos like this one of  lexi with a SERIOUSLY BIG ASS PIG.

lexi and the pig

BWAHAHAHAHAHA. hilarious. i also really like this photo of everyone pensively regarding the duck that just waddled into their midst.  andrew in particular looks very marky mark while lexi is either running away or doing the chicken dance.

visiting hackney city farm with becky drew and lexi

another strong contender in the best picture category is this glamour shot of larry the donkey. now, it’s totally natural life on the farm and not really NSFW, but just so you’re forewarned…

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