Warning- no photos is this post. The food went too quickly to be photographed. Someday, I’ll add one.
I spent this past Saturday with old and new friends.
My friend M from college was in the LA area and we had lunch at Jin Patisserie. By the by, I recommend the Banana Mascarpone Cake. Highly. I hear they have amazing macarons, though I haven’t had occasion to try them. M and I caught up with each others’ lives and reflected on the fact that it has been 12 years (!) since we met. Hold on, I’m crying.
Okay, all better.
M was one of the first people I met at college. He is and was a total sweetheart. I remember that we bonded over speaking French and Boone’s Farm at the department’s Getting to Know You Party. We graduated from a tiny theatre department. Several of us lived in a house together (RIP Pflug and Harmon). Aside from the normal drama of a tiny theatre department, our crew had a rough go of it. Lots of changes and painful losses. We fought and yelled and snarked at each other, but there was a fair amount of support and love, when we weren’t in the middle of auditions. We also did a lot of holding back of hair after particularly rough nights. That will bond you for life. I have tremendous love for each of them. Even if we weren’t besties in school, every time I see them, I feel like I’m seeing my family. We’ve all grown up and realized that that part in the mainstage show really has no bearing on our actual lives so the snark and tension is gone and there’s just this shared experience of growing up together. And I’m so thrilled that so many are making amazing careers and lives for themselves, in and out of the theatre.
I had to leave M after a lovely chat and walk on Venice Beach (I only take my friends to the nicest places!) because we were having new friends over for dinner. I met ActorFriend a few months ago when we were randomly paired as scene partners for an acting class. In our first rehearsal, we bonded over being East Coast theatre actors in the strange land of LA. After Mr. B and I enjoyed a lovely dinner at the home of ActorFriend and his supercool wife, I invited them to dinner at our place. They brought their adorable, hilarious daughter, who at one point in the meal leaned over to her dad to say, “Daddy, can you talk to the nice nice nice girl (me) so I can talk to Mr. Butterpants?” We’re still not sure who she wanted Mrs. ActorFriend to talk to, but I’m not sure she cared as long as it wasn’t Mr. Butterpants. She is way more into him than me. It’s all good. I’m always afraid to talk to children- curse words fly out of my mouth really easily and then I’ve ruined a childhood.
I love cooking and I love having people over and feeding them until they pop. That said, I always have a bit of a complex about cooking for new people. Especially when the new people are good cooks. We’d already really enjoyed ActorFriend’s chili and Mrs. ActorFriend brought over what turned out be excellent chocolate bread pudding. And by the way, I ran out of turnip greens. Not embarrassing. Not at all. Ugh.
So I went with something I knew was easy, not too over the top and previously successful. Red Beans and Rice.
We called my husband’s dad to get some tips, but as with any good Cajun cook, he doesn’t have a recipe. So he gave me some tips and I ended up just flying by the seat of my pants.
I think it was successful. The exceptionally critical Mr. Butterpants even ate the leftovers. It’s a good sign, trust me.
Red Beans and Rice
I used this recipe from FatFree Vegan Kitchen as inspiration. The first time I made it, I stuck pretty close to this, but this time I was serving to meat eaters so I used the sausage. And I’ve fallen off the vegetarian wagon as of late. Back on now, though!
1 lb. red beans (I used Camellia brand. Anything else is a poor substitute.)
4 tbs. salted butter
1 lg. onion, diced
5 celery ribs, diced
1 lg. bell pepper, diced
3 cloves of garlic
Slap Ya Mama Cajun Spices (this can be replaced with some cayenne, if you can’t find this or something like it)
3 bay leaves
2 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. oregano
1 lb. andouille sausage (I get Trader Joe’s Chicken Andouille Sausage)
Salt and pepper to taste
Put your beans in a large dutch oven or pot. Cover them with water- about 2-3 inches above the beans. Soak overnight.
Again, cover the beans with water about 2-3 inches above beans. Simmer over medium heat.
In a saute pan, melt your butter over medium heat. Saute your onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic until soft. Add your spices (start off slow with the Slap Ya Mama/cayenne, you can always add more later). Stir for a couple minutes, then add to your beans.
While that’s all getting loved up together, slice your sausage and brown it in a skillet. Once it’s browned, toss it into your red beans mixture and cook over medium-low heat. This has taken me anywhere from 3-6 hours depending on the beans. You want the beans to fall apart and it’ll look a bit like a mash. You don’t want it to become a paste though, so if it starts to look like that add a bit of water. Then add your salt, pepper and any additional spice you might want. I like to go light on the spice because you never know what people can tolerate. Mr. Butterpants can eat fire (it’s in the Cajun genetic code), but I knew that we were serving a kid. Know your audience is all I’m saying.
I used Uncle Ben’s Instant Rice because I’m lazy like that. I managed not to screw it up, though it was touch and go for a moment.
Serve to a fun crew with something green, crusty bread, and lots of wine.
Happy, merry, and all that goodness.
Thank you for being a friend,
Red Beans, Old and New Friends December 23, 2009
Warning- no photos is this post. The food went too quickly to be photographed. Someday, I’ll add one.
Potatoes and Onions December 15, 2009
Italy is my second favorite place on Earth. New York wins first prize, in case you were wondering.
My parents lived there before I was even a zygote. We all lived there for a bit while I was a toddler. My father spent quite a while there on a Fulbright scholarship. Imagine my father as a really really smart Bluto (Animal House) to get the full picture.
There is a tape of me at the age of two having a conversation with my grandfather. I have a spectacularly heavy Southern accent and then suddenly I start speaking in perfect Italian. It was impressive for a three year old. Despite living there for a time and my perfect Italian, I remember almost nothing. I have only a memory of a carousel and of my Mickey Mouse sheets. Otherwise, nothing.
I spent my entire life hearing about how amazing Italy was. How gorgeous it is. How incredible the food is. One of my friends in high school went back to visit her family every summer and I burned with jealousy. Probably because she got to go to Gaeta. From her, I pretty much heard how hot the guys were. We were 16. It’s really all that mattered at the time.
I finally got to go back after I was married to Mr. Butterpants. We went on a belated honeymoon and spent time in Rome, Florence, and Positano. Heaven. Heaven.
I have a postcard my Dad sent me from Italy when I was a kid. It’s a picture of a cafe in the piazza in front of Pantheon. When my husband and I went, I took a photo to recreate the postcard. I’m not going to lie. I cried. I was so happy to be there. I was so happy to be in a space that I had stared at for so long. I was happy to be in a place that meant so much to my parents. It felt both unfamiliar and like I was finally home.
While we were in Italy, I ate Caprese salad, pomodoro sauce over whatever pasta was closest to my mouth, Paglie e Fieno, and gelato. Look, I’m a simple girl. I have simple needs. These foods are spectacular in their simplicity.
One day in Florence, we were ready for our seventh gelato of the day (I think it was 10 am) and stopped off at a gelateria. There was an osteria right next door so we decided to balance out the sugar with some… potatoes.
Potatoes and onions. Potatoes and onions are on my list of the top five foods I could eat every day and never get sick of.
Recently, I was missing Italy a bit. I kept flashing on those potatoes. So I made some. Man, did they hit the spot. It’s amazing how food can transport you. I was immediately back in that little osteria in Florence, a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed newlywed on my honeymoon. Lovely.
These are great breakfast potatoes, a side dish, dessert. Whatever you need.
Potatoes and Onions
1 large onion, sliced thin
4-6 Yukon gold potatoes (depending on the size), sliced thin
1 tbs. minced garlic
1/4 c.butter (I tend to use unsalted. I don’t know why.)
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
In a large frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat. I had to use a wok because I had a crapload of potatoes. Dump your sliced potatoes and onions in your pan. Fry for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so the potatoes don’t stick together. Dump in your garlic, salt, and pepper. Continue stirring and frying until your potatoes and onions are tender and slightly browned. Eat.
Mr. Butterpants is obsessed with cheese and potatoes, so he added cheddar to his. He really liked that. So you could do that, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Be excellent to each other,
Just Baked Brooklyn November 29, 2009
This is a very special edition of The Buttery Blog, and I am so excited to introduce Just Baked Brooklyn to everyone!
I recently met up with Heather Lattuca Ferrari, the owner of Just Baked Brooklyn, at a cafe in the West Village. I asked her if she would talk about her new business, which is a year in the making, but just a few months in full swing! She happily accepted my offer, and brought some delicious samples with her. Over a lunch of savory crepes, we dished about food, life, and dogs.
Heather bakes up sweet treats for people and pooches. The company’s motto is “Life is Sweet. Give a dog a treat.” …and why not give yourself a treat as well! She already has two business clients that have weekly orders.
What inspired you to create people and dog treats?
I have always loved making cookies for friends and family. When I moved to New York, people would hire me once in awhile to make a cheesecake or a bread or cookies. I grew up in a restaurant family. One of my parents’ first businesses was Just Baked, which was a seasonal (summer) pastry shop in Watch Hill, RI. When I married my husband, a trained chef, I knew the journey would continue.
Our inspiration for The Odie Collection (our dog treats) is our dog Odie. We adopted him in November 2008 and fell in love! He is my first dog and I never knew how much I could love an animal. He is not always interested in food so I try and make treats that he likes. Making dog treats is so much fun!
Did you have to do any special research to create the dog treats?
Yes! Dogs are highly allergic to some very common baking ingredients, like chocolate. I researched what types of foods are good for dogs (pumpkin, oats, apples, turkey, beef) as well as the flavors they generally love (peanut butter, cheese, bacon). I was important to me to have a good combination of both. Many dogs are allergic to gluten, so we have gluten free treats as well.
What is the favorite cookie on your menu?
The Chocolate Toffee Sea Salt cookie!
(PS. Buttery B agrees. That cookie rocks!)
What is your favorite bakery?
My all time favorite bakery was Just Baked. I love Henion Bakery in Amherst, MA. In New York, I would have to say Amy’s Bread.
How long had you been thinking about creating your own business until you finally took action?
A couple of years. I moved to New York almost 8 years ago to pursue my acting/singing career. Before I started seriously thinking about Just Baked Brooklyn, I wanted to see if there was a way to do both. I am starting off at a slower pace with Just Baked Brooklyn so I can learn to truly balance both my acting career and baking business.
Do you have a mentor or role model?
Many- my mom and dad, my husband, Julia Child, Cesar Millan.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own catering or baking business?
The food business requires a lot of time and hard work, so you need to love it! You need to enjoy making people happy. Keep it simple and delicious.
For The Buttery Blog readers, just mention “Buttery Blog” and get free shipping on one order until December 31, 2009.
♦ Buttery B
A Southern Mother in New York November 24, 2009
The joys in my life are simple. One of the things I love to do is make food for someone that they have never tried. As you might imagine, in New York City that is quite hard to do. People here eat food from all over the world. Today was the Thanksgiving meal at Butter Boy’s class. We were supposed to bring in food from our own cultural background. It was the perfect storm for me. I could make some true Southern food that a lot of these New Yorkers had never tried. Yes! The dish- cheese grits. I bought grits- real grits- this summer when I was in North Carolina.
I have yet to come across grits here that are not instant and awful. This recipe doesn’t specify what kind of grits you need to use so let me specify for you. You need real grits, not Quaker instant grits from the super market. I use Daniel Boone grits which worked great. The recipe that I used is from Paula Deen, of course! It was a big hit. I think you should try it!
Baked Garlic Cheese Grits
6 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups regular grits
16 ounces Cheddar, cubed
1/2 cup milk
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
8 ounces grated sharp white Cheddar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 4-quart casserole dish.
Bring the broth, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Stir in the grits and whisk until completely combined. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the grits are thick, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cubed Cheddar and milk and stir. Gradually stir in the eggs and butter, stirring until all are combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with the white Cheddar and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until set.
Hello, gorgeous! This is the first time I’ve ever cooked a meringue and I have to say, it’s pretty simple and completely amazing. Beautiful to look at and a delight to eat. A well-baked meringue is a thing of beauty: crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. I used almonds instead of hazelnuts. The pears were nice, but honestly, I might try citrus or a berry medley. Really, any fruit and any nuts and any sauce will rock this dessert. Everyone will think you’re an amazing chef, but you’ll know…it really wasn’t that hard! Recipe is courtesy of the wonderful Jamie Oliver.
Tray-Baked Meringue with Pears, Cream, Toasted Hazelnuts and Chocolate Sauce
- 4 egg whites
- 1 1/4 cups raw sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 4 ounces hazelnuts, no skins
- 28 ounces canned pear halves, with juice
- 2 inch ginger thin slice (optional) (adds great zing)
- 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 ounces confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1 vanilla bean scraped
- Zest of 1 orange
1. Preheat your oven to 300F and line a baking sheet with wax paper.
2. Put egg whites in clean bowl and whisk on medium until firm peaks are formed. With mixer still running, gradually add raw sugar and salt. Turn mixer up to highest setting and whisk for 7-8 minutes until meringue is white and glossy. To test, pinch some between your fingers–should be completely smooth, not grainy at all.
3. Dot each corner of the wax paper with a bit of meringue, then turn over so it sticks to the baking sheet. Spoon meringue onto paper. Use back of spoon to shape and whirl into rectangle. Place in preheated oven and bake for 1 hour or until crisp on the outside and soft and sticky inside. At the same time, bake hazelnuts in the over for an hour or until golden brown (use separate baking sheet).
4. Drain the pears, reserving syrup from one can. Cut each pear half into three slices. Pour the syrup into saucepan with ginger and warm on medium heat until it starts to simmer. Take off the heat and break chocolate into it, stirring until melted.
5. Take meringue and hazelnuts out of oven and cool. Then place meringue on serving platter. Whip cream with confectioner’s sugar and vanilla until you have smooth, soft peaks. Smash hazelnuts in a kitchen towel and sprinkle half on top. Spoon over half the cream and some chocolate sauce. Divide most of the pear pieces over top. Pile on rest of cream and pears. More chocolate sauce. More hazelnuts. Grate orange zest on top. Serve immediately. If you make this in advance, prepare ingredients ahead of time and assemble just before serving (may need to reheat chocolate over double boiler).
Autumn on a Plate November 8, 2009
Growing up in the South, I lived off of canned vegetables. Creamed corn with extra butter, anyone? Yes, we did have small farmstands on the side of the road, but I think the only time we ever actually stopped was to get baskets full of Georgia peaches.
So when I moved to New York, the farmer’s market became a place to get in touch with nature among the urban concrete. It took me a while to get comfortable with the farmer’s market. It was all so wonderful, but also overwhelming. I would go and leave empty-handed because I didn’t have a plan.
About 5 years ago I changed my perspective. I decided to go to the farmer’s market without a plan (and be okay with that), see what was in season, pick something, and then figure out what to do with it. One year I chose a butternut squash. At that point I don’t think I had ever even eaten butternut squash. I certainly didn’t know what was inside or how I was supposed to cut it up.
Luckily I found a Butternut Squash Risotto recipe in Martha Stewart Living. Now, at that point I had also never made risotto so I was really challenging myself. Of course, I wouldn’t have written 3 paragraphs if it hadn’t turned out to be out-of-this-world. I make it at least once a year. It’s creamy and cheesy, and warm with a dash of nutmeg.
Serves 4 to 6
1 medium butternut squash
6 cups Homemade Chicken Stock, or canned low-sodium chicken broth, skimmed of fat
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 shallots, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
Freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus sprigs for garnish
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Cut squash into eighths; discard seeds. In a large pot filled with 1 inch of simmering water, steam squash on a steaming rack or in a bamboo steamer until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Scoop flesh from skin and mash lightly.
- In a large saucepan, heat stock to a simmer. In a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add oil and shallots; cook for 2 minutes. Add rice; cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
- Add wine to rice, and cook, stirring, until wine is nearly absorbed. Stir in a cup of stock and the squash; cook at a steady simmer until liquid is nearly absorbed. Continue stirring in stock, a ladleful at a time, until rice is creamy and firm but not hard in the center, 15 to 20 minutes. Add nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste. Add chopped rosemary. Stir in remaining butter and most of the Parmesan. Serve immediately in shallow bowls garnished with the remaining cheese and rosemary sprigs.
♦ Buttery B
Potatoes Anna November 2, 2009
How could four simple ingredients–potatoes, salt, pepper and butter–taste so darn good? This is seriously delicious and easy and beautiful. I can’t say enough how impressed I was with myself. The top and bottom are crunchy like potato chips, but the middle layers are soft and creamy. I co-worker saw me eating the leftovers at lunch and immediately went home to make his own. Feel free to add some chopped rosemary or garlic, but it’s also great on its own.
Makes 8 servings
- 2 3/4 pounds russet potatoes (about 6), peeled
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- Salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 450°. Using a mandoline, slice potatoes, 1/4 inch thick, or thinner. (Do not place potatoes in water at this point; the starch is needed to bind the layers.) (I don’t own a mandoline, so I used the blade attachment on my food processor. You can cut them by hand, but it’s hard to get them as thin as necessary.)
2. Brush bottom of a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie plate with 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter. Starting in center of pan, arrange potato slices in a circular pattern, overlapping the edges. Evenly brush with 1 1/2 tablespoons butter; season with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining potatoes and butter, creating 2 more layers. (The next time I make this I will do 7 or 8 layers to get some good height.) Finish with a final layer of butter, salt, and pepper. When arranging potatoes, be sure to fill in all the spaces.
3. Place over medium-high heat until the edges of the potatoes begin to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. If you are not using a cast-iron skillet, this step is not necessary.
4. Place in oven, and bake until potatoes are fork tender, 45 to 55 minutes for the cast-iron skillet and 1 to 1 1/2 hours for the pie plate. Remove from oven, and let rest 5 to 10 minutes. Using a small spatula, separate potato edges from sides of pan. Shake pan and slide a spatula along bottom to loosen potatoes. Carefully invert onto a flat serving platter. Slice and serve.
PS-I forgot to mention that the recipe came from this lovely lady. Also, a friend suggested using clarified butter so that the bottom doesn’t over-brown. Sounds smart to me.
A Wild Rumpus! October 29, 2009
I’m sure that by now, you’ve seen Where the Wild Things Are. Or at least the trailer. If you’re anything like Lady Butterbuns or Ms. Butterpants, you wept the entire way through the trailer and probably through the last quarter of the film. This seems to be a pretty polarizing film, but I (Ms. B) loved it. I thought it was raw, heartbreaking and beautiful. I read somewhere that it’s not a movie for children, but it is a movie about childhood. I agree.
But you people don’t come here for movie reviews. To the food! Months and months ago Lady Butterbuns and I decided that we would see the movie and make the entire event about food. Because that’s how the Buttery Ladies roll.
Lady Butterbuns trained it up from San Diego, Honey Bee Cake in tow! Our theme was “Wild Foods” and we invited some old college peeps and made them fill out anonymous comment cards. The menu and comments are below.
Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding
– “Mushroom? Good. Bread? Good. Pudding? Good!”
– “So awesome, I had seconds. Maybe thirds.”
– “Yum! So hearty. The cheese and mushroom combo are very good! I like the crust on top.”
– “Would work better without the mushrooms and the bread pudding.” – Clearly Mr. Butterpants. He’d prefer to eat things that suck.
Spinach Salad with Cherries and Toasted Pine Nuts
*We forgot the Pecorino and turned the currants into cherries.
-“The only remotely healthy thing on the menu.”
– “I’m not a fan of green things, but this was good!”
– “So flavorful!”
– “Really like the dried cherries- nice twist and pine nuts, mmmm! :)”
– “Who’s the jerk who made this delicious shrimp?”
– “Spicy! Love the salsa!”
– “Yum! I love the shrimpies and pineapple!”
– “Love it! The pineapple really accents the spice of the shrimp!”
– “Great spicing! Tangy and tasty!” – While typing this I thought this read, “Tangy and trashy!” which could describe so many things in my life.
– “Holy crap!”
– “This is dangerous!”
– “Delicious- has bite!”
– “I’m already falling over!”
– “Who am I? What am I doing here? Stop touching me!”
– “Love it! Not too sweet, moist, frosting was awesome.” – for the record, I hate the word moist. I felt gross just typing it.
– “More please!”
– “Sweet. Creamy. Cakey. Honey…ey.”
– “Wish I could eat more! The almonds really go with the yummy, creamy, chocolatey, sweetness.”
and Gorilla Bread for breakfast the next morning.
– “No monkeying around- pretty tasty!”
Before Lady Butterbuns headed to the train, we stopped off at Surfa’s, where they sell Coney Island Hot Dog Mustard (hooray for specificity!)
and colorful pasta. Go here. Go now.
So most of the recipes are linked above, but here are our two favorites.
Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding adapted (to make it fattening) from Cooking Light
3 cups milk, divided
8 cups (2-inch) cubed country or peasant bread (about 12 ounces)
2 (4-ounce) portobello mushrooms
1/4 c. butter
6 c. quartered cremini mushrooms (12 oz) (I couldn’t find cremini so I used Baby Bellas and shitakes)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cup shredded Gruyère cheese, divided
Combine 2 cups milk and bread. Cover and chill 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove brown gills from the undersides of portobellos using a spoon; discard gills and stems. Cut mushroom caps in half; cut halves crosswise into 1/2-inch slices.
Preheat oven to 375°.
Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add portobello and cremini mushrooms, and sauté 4 minutes (I do longer because I like my mushrooms pretty brown, though not crisp). Stir in parsley, rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic; sauté 1 minute.
Combine 1 cup milk and eggs, and stir with a whisk. Spoon 2 cups bread mixture into a 2-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Top with the mushroom mixture; sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese. Top with remaining bread mixture and the rest of the cheese. Pour egg mixture over top. Bake at 375° for 45 minutes or until set.
We are drinkers, though we haven’t shared any of our favorites before. So here you go. A buttery cocktail.
Pomegranate Margarita by Danny Broome
Lime wedge, plus more for garnish
4 ounces white tequila
2 ounces Triple Sec
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1 lime, juiced (optional)
Pour salt onto a plate or shallow dish. With a lime wedge rub along the rim of a glass and dip glasses upside down to salt the rim. Fill glasses with ice. In a cocktail shaker with ice place the tequila, triple sec, pomegranate juice, and lime juice. Pour into the salt-rimmed glasses and top off with club soda. Garnish with a lime wedge, if desired.
We’ll eat you up, we love you so.
Ms. Butterpants and Lady Butterbuns
Dumplings and Cake. Oh Baby! October 25, 2009
The NYC Dumpling Festival was held yesterday. The only reason I’m aware of this is because one of my (very brave) friends participated in the dumpling eating contest. Seeing pictures of his feat put a huge smile on my face, and for some crazy reason, even though everyone looked a little sick at the end, I had a craving for dumplings.
Off to Vanessa’s Dumpling House on the Lower East Side. Compared with most dumpling spots in the area, Vanessa’s is considered a “splurge.” Eight vegetable dumplings for $3.00 and Peking Duck on a Sesame Pancake for $2.25. The Peking Duck sandwich was delicious, and the size of a large man’s hand. Seriously, not to up their prices, but they could easily sell that thing for $4.00! Next time I go there I’ll try their pan-fried pork dumplings (4 for a $1.00). It’s a great place to stop and get a snack in the middle of shopping or sight-seeing.
Just a few blocks away is Babycakes, a well known vegan bakery visited by many celebrities. I had heard the name before, but it wasn’t until Lady Butterbuns asked us East Coast Buttery sisters to investigate that it was officially on my radar. “Can it really be that good?” Lady B asked, considering it’s wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free (the only thing it’s not is nut-free)?
I tried 3 of their offerings, and here is my professional buttery opinion, in order of taste-test:
Mini Chocolate Brownie: A two-bite brownie. It was moist, chocolately, and had just the right amount of sweetness. It also had chocolate chunks inside, which enhanced the texture. If someone had told me it was a regular-ol’ brownie, I would have believed them.
Chocolate Cupcake with Chocolate Frosting: Disgusting. The cake was so dry and it had a definite cardboard taste. Don’t even go there.
Pumpkin Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting: Very nice. It was more of a muffin texture than cake. What it had going for it was the pumpkin, which makes anything moist, and the spices. A key to making a low fat, low sugar food taste better is adding spices. And this one worked nicely.
Babycakes is totally cute. From the name to the storefront design, it beckons you in. If you’re vegan, it’s probably a little bit of heaven on earth. When I ordered, I was asked if I had any food allergies, so you know that there’s a greater purpose behind it than just baking cupcakes. For someone who’s not a vegan, and has no food allergies, it’s a trial and error type thing. I’d definitely go back for the mini brownie if I just happened to be passing by.
There’s a small park about a block away with a beautiful red bench to enjoy your vegan treats:
I ended my adventure with Where the Wild Things Are. A lovely Sunday afternoon indeed!
♦ Buttery B
Ina Garten’s Lemon Bars October 19, 2009
Another chapter from the Lemon Cookbook! My friend S and I decided to make Ina Garten‘s lemon bars. I’d made it once a few years ago and it was quite a disaster, but it was my fault. My baking dish was too small so the bars never cooked properly. This time, I put the batter into two dishes. Still, I can’t say I loved these. I loved the taste; it was an excellent balance of tart and sweet. But the texture wasn’t quite right. The recipe calls for flour in the lemon mixture to help the bars set, but I felt like this made the bars gummy. None of the others that ate these made that comment and in fact, they went over really well, but I personally would prefer something a bit creamier. If anyone has a killer lemon bar recipe, hit me with it!
Prep Time: 10 minutes / Inactive Prep Time: 30 minutes / Cook Time: 55 minutes
Yield: 20 squares or 40 triangles
- 1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
- 6 XL eggs, room temp
3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest (4-6 lemons)
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup flour
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.
3. Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
4. For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature. Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners’ sugar.