Saturday, May 30, 2009

Brunch at Cristina's

The beginnings of a tradition.
On the menu:
Sourdough toasts topped with avocado and lemon
Baked eggs with spinach, cream, and jarlsberg
Fresh tomatoes
Spreadable honey!


Friday, May 29, 2009

scallops and sprouts

I'm trying to make my parents eat home-cooked meals so here's a chapter in that saga! I get to use a lot of neglected cast-iron lovelies. 

Sunday dinner: brussel sprouts and scallops.

Not pictured: a yuppie salad of field greens, hazelnuts, goat cheese, and cucumbers

Scallops: sauteed in butter with a little white wine

Brussel sprouts: boiled until pleasantly green, then cooked with onions, garlic, and thyme


Hummus is delicious and easy to make yourself. However, you will have your work cut out for you in the blending department (unless you have a food processor of sorts). 

I started with dried chick peas: SUPER cheap, something like $1/pound. Some say soak overnight, some say simmer. I didn't do it this time but I read a Nigella tip: make a paste of 1 tsp salt, 1tsp baking soda, and 1 tb of flour and add it to the chick peas. Soak overnight, then boil and simmer for 30 minutes...voila! tender chick peas.

You don't really need a recipe so just go by your flavor preferences. I used about 1/4 cup tahini for each 2 cups of chick peas, mix that in with garlic paste, salt, lemon juice, pepper, sundry herbs, and of course olive oil. blend well!  top with a little more oil and some red some with homemade crackers: toast some old bread in the oven with oil, pepper, and herbs. hummus hooray!

Here's the recipe I went from, it's out of the Silver Palate cookbook ( a specialty food store that used to be in the Upper West Side (I think West).

Hummus Bi Tahini

4 cups garbanzos (chick peas), drained (but you can hydrate your own)
1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste..available in many groceries/on curry hill
1/3 cup warm water
1/3 olive oil
juice of 2-3 lemons
4+ garlic cloves
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cumin
freshly ground black pepper

process tahini, garbanzos, water, oil, lemon juice (anyway you processor is prime)
add spices and alter to your wishes

La Sirene

La Sirene, the tiny 25 seat bistro on Broome St., just east of Varick, is easily missed. But, be aware: you don't want to.

I'd only been once, a year ago, with my pal Cristina. We were there for the BYOB factor (no corking fee!!!), and I think I ordered a crabcake, which wasn't memorable, although I'm sure I enjoyed it.

What I remembered most about La Sirene was the atmosphere and seeming anonymity. The only other diners were a gang of young, ricidulously attractive Parisian-types sitting around the only long table (that's one of about 5 others, catch my drift), drifting in and out for a smoke, sharing bottles of wine, and, of course, having conversations in FRENCH. SWEET!

As it is, I went back last night on a "date", you could say :), and settled in for their Prix Fixe, 26.50 for three courses, served between 5-7. It's on the low side as far as these places go, but still, as is well known, what you get makes the money either worth it/not.

Our waitress was tres adorable! She had triangular bangs. Enough said.

Bread Basket: Tangy, chewy bread served with strangely cold (albeit GOOD) butter. Butter should be room temp! But, that's me nitpicking.

First course: We both ordered the traditional onion soup which was pretty great. The broth was lovely, lovely, and plenty of cheese on top. No complaints.

Main Course: Brian got the Sea Shepherds pie, pretty much exactly what it sounds like, which seemed good, but was a small portion (as expected in a prix fixe). I spied around and I noticed that pretty much ALL the portions being served were quite small, indeed.

That is, until my massive, heaping bowl of Mussels in Curry Cream came out. Holy God. There were SO MANY. AND delcious. Yum. With thyme sprigs poking out of the thick curry cream sauce coating every mussel-y morsel! Not to mention at the end you are left with basically a bowl of glorious dipping sauce for the rest of your bread.

Dessert: Your choice of a baby scoop of ice cream or sorbet. No chocolate :(, for shame, but they offered vanilla ice cream and lemon, coconut, raspberry, eh and something else for the sorbet. Scratch the lemon - Brian ordered it and they were out!

So, he got vanilla and I chose coconut. Both homemade. I was VERY fond of my coconut. I think it was the curry sauce I had just consumed, but I found it to be one of the best frozen dessert experiences, and I think the flavor profile of my previous dish only added to it.


1. BYOB: Gather friends, bring a ten dollar bottle of decent wine, and have the waitress open it for you for free. Boo yah.

2. Prix Fixe: 100% worth it, especially if you order the...

3. MUSSELS!: Brilliant. I can recommend personally the curry, but there were a traditional white wine/herb, dijon, and one more to choose from. I'm sure they are all delicious as well.

4. You will feel very cool knowing about a very under the radar bistro serving some serious grub.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

cupcakes: or muffcakes, where it began

You may ask yourself how perpetual hunger got involved in the cupcake contest previously recounted. It began with these delicious carrot cupcakes I found on epicurious. 

While the process is not thoroughly documented, I promise this recipe produced a delicious moist cake full of delightful spice and a little tang from the orange icing. As for this icing, I added a bit of butter and thick greek yogurt for body and to give it something else besides the taste of sugar. 

I pretty much followed the recipe but you can mix it up with the spices...and important detail! I added carob chips. (Please try carob if you haven't already..and DO try related sweets if you're ever in Portugal...they know how to do a carob) they added a nice earthy and sweet crunch. 


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Israeli couscous!

Yes my friends, we revert to the backlog of stuff I've made but ne'er posted! 

Being a curious eater, upon seeing a new sort of couscous (on sale I might add) at TJ's I made a move. 

What to cook with Israeli couscous? Luscious dried fruits (preferably of the Mediterranean persuasion) and nuts. This sort of couscous is plumper and I'd say nuttier. When you pan-fry it, crispy deliciousness ensues. 

I cooked the buggers in olive oil, added some rosemary. Once the couscous was cooked, I added some chopped hazelnuts, apricots, and my favorite: DATES. Top it of with some orange juice, salt, pepper, and citrus zest. 

Apparently this is how one would say bon appetit in Hebrew: (b'tayavon) בתיאבון
ooh find it in many languages on Omniglot


Lemon and Thyme Roast Chicken Legs over Sweet Potato Gnocchi and Summer Sqash with Brown Butter!

Tonight's dinner for two.

Things learned:

1. I was correct in assuming that if I slow roasted the chicken at a lower temperature for a while and then cranked the heat at the end, it would produce both succulently fall-off-the-bone-moist flesh and crispy shiny skin! Success!

2. Sweet Potato Gnocchi are really sticky. Use lots and lots of flour. The consistency of a sweet potato is, indeed, a bit gloopier and wetter than that of a regular potato. Otherwise, I found that it can be subsituted into a regular gnocchi recipe just fine. Mine included just sweet potato, flour, and one egg, although some call for ricotta cheese which must be lovely x20!

3. Italian flat leaf parsley makes anything look/taste good. As does a lemon wedge.

4. Pouring the chicken-y contents of your roasting pan over your whole meal just before serving is a good idea.

5. Big Apple Meat Market (Right next to Stile's farmers market!) sells really cheap meat!!!!!!!

Let's do a rundown, shall we?

2 Chicken Legs (1.97!)
1/2 Summer Sqash (.20)
2 Sweet Potatoes (.44)
1 Lemon (.20)
... everything else I had on me, but all basics (flour, garlic, parsley...). You get the point.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Joys of Tomato Paste

According to Wikipedia, tomato paste used to be a specialty product in Sicily. Apparently, the tomatoes would be layed out for a really long time on long boards until what was left was so darn thick, they rolled it up into a ball.

Now we find the concentrated tomato-y-ness in a can. For 89 cents.
It went like this: I knew I was going to sautee my greens today, but I knew that I also desired a different flavor component. The regular old olive oil and lemon was just not going to cut it. After a long while, I came to it: tomato. I wanted my greens with a rich tomato flavor. Off to the grocery store!
There I looked: cherry tomatoes! mmm fresh... 4.99 a container..forget it.... they began to wrinkle and turn brown before my eyes.
To the cans! I wanted it saucy anyway! A tiny can of tomato sauce! Not expensive, but corn syrup? Um. Not appropriate.
In fact almost every jar on the shelf contained sugar of some sort. Big disappointment.
Then I noticed the tiny little jars, the cheapest cans in all the aisle, the little Tomato Pastes. I turned the can around to observe the nutrition information.
"Ingredients: Tomato"
It was done.
One tablespoon spooned into my hot greens as they wilted did the most marvellous thing: formed a dense, luscious tomato GLAZE that clung to every leaf. None of the watery, flavorless fluid that pools on your plate if you used chopped or diced, no, no, this was glorious. A trimph.
For 89 cents. And I have at least three more tablespoons to use.

Aamchi Pao / Sundaes and Cones

Attention all ye who are in the never ending search for late night drunk food. I have found your Mecca: Aamchi Pao (Bleecker St. btwn 6th ave and macdougal, on the south side). A new Indian dig featuring classic Indian flavors arranged in the form of good ole Fast Food. Pictured above: Brian's Tandoori Chicken Takatak on a Pao Slider Bun, accompanied by home-made potato chips. In the forefront is Manchurian Cauliflower. I ordered the Spinach Lentil Tikki on Paratha flat-bread. It was the greasiest, saltest thing I've probably ever eaten. It was admitedly too much for me to handle at the time, but if you're 8 beers in, you can pretty much guarantee it will be the best thing you've ever had. The bread is super chewy, and the filling dense and definitely paneer spiked. They have mango lassis and chocolate lassis and tons of other bread/filling combos for either 6 or 8 dollars each. Check it:
Also featured: Sundaes and Cones (East 10th st at 3rd ave), Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream in a Sprinkled Waffle Cone.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Larks, Edible Community

I can't find my camera usb cord :( No update on bagels!  

Well, there's still plenty of foodly things to discuss. 

I'm back home in Gloucester, MA so predictably I'm investigating all there is to offer here in terms of food. Good news! The Boston/New England foodie land is bustlin'.  

Yesterday I went to our local crunchy natural foods store and they had samples of a Gloucester produced cookie company called Larks. They're on the savory track with tasty varieties like rosemary-salt shortbread, Mexican chocolate, and a Provencale inspired cookie with olives. Today I found an article on the company in Edible Boston. Trust, they're good so if you're on the North Shore/Boston area, do try!

Can I take this opportunity to gush over Edible magazines? Especially because at home they're free! They have such good picks for restaurants and small-scale suppliers: amazing bakeries, wineries, cheesy restaurants, DIY tofu..what else!? There's a specific publication for each region, so whether you're from Buffalo or Oahu they'ze got it. Find clubs, organizations, businesses to satisfy cravings in any region! I can't love it enough. 

Anywho, look forward to a shower of posts when I find my cord!


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Stiles Farmer's Market/Summer's Bounty

Suzanne, the other PERPETUAL HUNGER! lady had clued me in to Stiles Farmer's Market (9th ave, just south of 42nd st. on the west side) earlier in the spring semester, but I never got the chance to make it up there.

Well, today I went. Gee: Best. Decision. Ever.
Let's see:
5 Lemons 1.00
5 Oranges 1.00
Strawberries 1.99
Hass Avocado 1.25
5 Garlic Bulbs 1.00
Parlsey 1.49
Sweet Potato .22
Grape Tomatoes 1.50
Portobello Mushroom .44

Grant total: 9.89


Let's just say I headed over to D'agostino for that bunch. EASILY would have cost me over 20 bucks.


The other PiCs are homemade tributes to enjoying those things that come from the earth/simple food. A platter of cucumbers, smoked salmon, cottage cheese (whole milk!), and grape tomatoes. This morning, these ingredients came of use again in a smoked salmon cucumber sandwich on 5 grain bread. And just now I sauteed my favorite leafy green ever : CHARD! and dressed it with just some lemon juice, salt, and two chopped hard boiled eggs.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Gena's Grill and Great NY Noodle Town

Cheap Ethnic Food Summer '09 Commence!

Gena's Grill (210 1st Ave btwn 12 and 13)

This place is pretty sweet, I have to say. If you want to feel like you really know where to get a good meal in New York, mosey over to Gena's. There are about 9 seats in the whole place, including at the bar. The menu is Latin American, mostly Cuban and Dominican, and pretty much everything runs between $5-$7. Brian got the Cuban Sandwich (five dollah), which seemed good, albeit a bit small. I ordred stewed chicken over yellow rice (five dollah and twenty five cents!) which came with a side of beans. The chicken was super moist, and the rice seasoned perfectly (although a bit lukewarm). The portion was really surprisingly large. The girl at the counter basically piled everything on with abandon. It's quite the deal... and they have pork over rice, goat over rice, seafood... anything you want: over rice. YES PLEASE.

Great NY Noodle Town (28 Bowery)

Got myself a bowl of Beef and Wonton and Noodle Soup tonight! I'll run through the comparisons wtih Lan Zhou, since it's the only other noodle place I really have in my repertoire:


Lan Zhou: chewy, fresh, hand-made
Great NY Noodle Town: dried, al dente, thin


Lan Zhou: lacking, watery
Great NY Noodle Town: beefy, savory

Lan Zhou: weird
Great NY Noodle Town: weird

So, it seems we have a tie so far with Lan Zhou winning on noodles, Great NY Noodle Town on broth, and tying with equally strange meat additions.

So, what it comes down to is the WONTONS!

Unfortunately there can be no comparison. Lan Zhou has just about the best fried dumplings around, and the shrimp wontons included in the soup from Great NY Noodle Town were rockin' too, featuring two whole shrimpers nestled inside a delicate wonton. But, these are two different animals, and, therefore, cannot be compared!

You'll just have to try them both yourself.


Thursday, May 14, 2009


Time to make some fresh bread! You can go crazy with such a task, but there's a lot of simple recipes as well. This is a savory bread with herb butter "filling"

After letting the dough rise the first time, roll it out and spread with an herb butter. I used cilantro, salt, pepper, and basil but go nuts.
Roll it up and make a bread creature...then cover and let rise 
another variety with garlic and sun-dried tomatoes. It's a flexible recipe but I'm not sure if I like the texture of the bread..but then again I used a different flour. 

It's from cooking bread

Now I'm in the homeland and I'm excited to delve into Bread Alone!!!

It's a book put out by an adorable bakery in the Catskills.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I finally went to Grimaldi's!

Title explains it all. Brian and I trekked the Bklyn Bridge, wandered around Bklyn Heights, and ended up at New York's Best Pizza. And, it is really really good.

A thin, soft AND crispy crust, light tomato sauce, salty chewy cheese. Perfection. Honestly, I can't describe it. You just have to go and get the regular pie. !!!


Cupcake Cook-Off

PERPETUAL HUNGER! entered the Brooklyn Kitchen's third annual cupcake cook-off, and it all went down last night!

Above: My Rosebud Cupcakes with Apricot Honey Frosting (Recipe follows), and Suzanne's White Chocolate Cupcakes with Chestnut Frosting and a Black Currant Filling. There were about 60 cupcake entries present, and although ours didn't take any prizes home, it was still worth it.
Rosebud Cupcakes with Apricot Honey Frosting

(Yields 24 Frosted Cupcakes)

Rosebud Cupcakes
½ - 1 cups dried rosebuds (commonly sold to be used as herbal tea)
1 ½ cups self rising flour
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
2 sticks butter (1 cup), softened
2 cups sugar
4 room temperature eggs
2 cups milk
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
red food coloring
apricot-honey frosting (recipe follows)
candied rose petals, royal icing buds, etc for decoration!
In a saucepan on the stove, begin to heat the milk and cream on low. Add the dried rosebuds. Bring to a very slight simmer, and brew the rosebuds until the milk has reduced by about half. Be careful to not scald the milk. This may mean that the heat may have to be turned off for periods of time. Drain the rose infused milk, being sure to squeeze the roses to extract any remaining milk. This can be done ahead of time and chilled in the fridge.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, preferably with a hand mixer (producing greatest fluffiness!) cream the butter and sugar for a few minutes until nice and light. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Combine the flours and the salt well. Add this mixture to the butter-sugar-egg mixture very slowly, beating well between each addition. Add the vanilla to one cup of rose milk, and altenrate adding this with the flour. Be sure to beat well. The batter should have a silky sheen and possess a very light looking texture. Lastly, incorporate a few drops of red food coloring, until the batter is a rosy pink.
Spoon evenly into two twelve-holed cupcake trays, either well greased or lined with papers. Bake for 20 minutes, or just until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not over bake, or the cupcake will render quite dry and crumbly. Let cool completely before frosting!

Apricot Honey Frosting
2 ¼ sticks room temperature butter, unsalted
5 heaping tablespoons high quality apricot preserves
5 tablespoons whipped honey (a.k.a spread-able honey, creamed honey, etc)
2 tablespoons regular honey
¼ cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Begin to beat the butter in a medium size mixing bowl. Add the confectioner’s sugar and salt first. Then, begin to alternate the whipped honey and apricot preserves. Finally, beat in the regular honey and vanilla extract.
*This is a very thick frosting, and is intended to be so. Do not attempt to thin this frosting out with milk, for the citric acid in most preserves will certainly curdle the frosting! If the frosting is too thick for your taste, you may want to try thinning it out with apricot nectar.
Frost sparingly so as not to mask the delicate floral fragrance of the cupcakes. Try just a small dollop swirl in the center. Decorate further with candied rose petals, royal icing rosettes, or whatever you like! Enjoy!


SOY Restaurant

Suzanne, Heather, Julia and I headed to the LES last week to try SOY, a tiny little Japanese home cooking place suitable for meat eaters and meat shunners alike, although all things soy are definitely highlighted.

First of all, it's ADORABLE. It looks like someone's kitchen, and basically is. Prices can't be beat, with most things under 10 dollars. Portions are moderate, yes, but you'll clean your plate and feel good about it.
We ordered some gyoza and a soy pancake which were good, but the entrees definitely won. Above, you'll notice the vegetable curry, everything burger, eeel and cucumber bowl (a special that day!), and the big winner: the spicy tuna and avocado bowl! OWNED!

boo ya, comin' back soon.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cupcake sage: pt II, the training ground

I got home around 9:30 tonight and I decided to: 

a. go out
b. finish my final
c. tool with cupcakes

C. I'm experimenting with my cupcake child! it's a white chocolate cake with a blackcurrant filling and chestnut cream frosting. 

I bought dried chestnuts a while ago and I was trying to figure out how to best make them edible, after soaking etc. i decided to boil them which works pretty nicely! 

bought these fellers a while ago at the chelsea market

mm batter...a little to liquidy so i added some more flour..aye this isn't really a good recipe to not have a mixer!'s interesting, got it sort of from a blog, chockylit
-melt white chocolate and butter, remove from heat and add to sugar, let cool
-then beat until smooth with vanilla and after add dry ingredients, it made me a really spongey cake, almost like pound cake

mmmm blackcurrant reduction! i was sort of winging it, sans recipe...first reduction i think! pure blackcurrant juice with sugar, a little cornstarch and red wine (zinfandel)

i'd tap that. 

or make it a filling..which i did!

then i added some hazelnut cream frosting

projects: make cake cakier, make frosting thicker