Friday, January 30, 2009

Westville East

The problem with describing something as the best of its kind is that, someday, it's inevitably bound to fall from that pedestal. The day this happens is a sad day, a day wrought with feelings of betrayal, but it simply cannot be helped. This week, Wednesday was one of those days for me.

Unfortunately, it was a double-whammy, because two champions fell from their respective pedestals. Toppled in the Best Sweet Potato Fries category were former winners Silver Spurs and Curly's; trounced by the competitor in the Best Veggie Burger division was, tragically, Relish. Two of my favorite things in food life, and I didn't truly understand how amazing they could be until this experience.

The challenger for the Sweet Potato Fries and Veggie Burger crowns was an underdog, a tiny little space on the corner of 11th St. and Avenue A. Let's call it Westville East...because that's what it's called.

I had passed it many times when I used to work at a bookstore in the Village, wandering around during my lunch break on hot summer days. It had always appealed to me, a tiny square box on a corner, with two sides decorated with large, bright windows. It was clean and simple-looking, and I'd been meaning to try it for months.

When my friend T raved about it and insisted that we go together, I was elated. It's exciting when someone else suggests going to a restaurant I want to try because, that way, I can test out a place without fear that the other person will give me the dreaded "I can't believe you brought me to this awful hole" look. Plus, someone I know personally had already declared the food delicious, so I didn't have to risk being depressed by a bad experience after so much anticipation.

It was strange to be there at night when I'd only ever passed it in the daytime, but Westville East ( was just as lovely after dark. Just as I'd remembered, it was square, simple, clean and finished with green accents. We were told to sit where we liked (small details like this are supremely underrated) and I insisted we sit away from the door (again, my aversion to cold winds during dinner).

The Web site explains that Westville (which has another location on West 10th St.) aims to provide the absolute freshest food at a reasonable price. When T confirmed that the place had the best, freshest vegetables she's ever had, I was characteristically confused. How could one place's vegetables be better than another? A carrot is a carrot is a carrot, regardless of seasoning. It's not better, it's just different. Right?

As usual, I was wrong. T, who by now was a pro at the Westville Market Menu (, ordered a mix of market vegetables at a rate of 4 for $13. When her plate of fennel, brussels sprouts, mushrooms and sweet potato fries arrived, I practically salivated all over them.My original plan was to order a turkey reuben (perhaps I was craving reubens after AK...?), but I was informed by our pleasant waitress (another underrated detail: nice employees) that the sandwich was only available at lunch. T had already ordered, so I hastily chose to ask for a veggie burger and sweet potato fries. It was probably the best decision of my life:

Caption from the Westville menu: Veggie burger topped with mixed mushrooms and spicy tartar sauce with fries or salad.

The other burger items on the menu are listed as being served on a Portuguese muffin, and it appeared that the veggie burger was as well. It seemed to be sort of a cross in looks and taste between an English muffin and a bagel without a hole, but it was the perfect complement to the sandwich. I usually take one side of the bun off my sandwiches because sometimes too much bread drowns out the flavor of the interior, but this was absolutely spot-on.

Now, it's true that I'm not as experienced with veggie burgers as some, but usually when I chow down on a veggie burger I don't notice any specific components of the patty. This time, however, I realized that I could SEE the different vegetables. There were CHUNKS of corn in there. Perhaps some people do not enjoy or appreciate this aspect of a burger, but I like to be able to see what I'm eating, and it seemed so much fresher. There were fewer mysteries about this burger than the average burger because I KNEW there were veggies in there. Also, the inside was colorful rather than vaguely beige...I don't know what else was in there, but I liked it! It fell apart a little bit, but not enough to cause a problem, and the outside was cooked to perfection.

What really helped this burger edge out the competition, however, was the spicy tartar sauce. It was more yellow and orange than white, so I'm guessing it leaned a little heavily on the mustard. It provided the perfect amount of kick without making my lips fall off, and it didn't drown the flavor of the burger itself. Finished with flavorful, salty mushrooms, this thing caused me to pretty much lick the plate clean.

A quick word about the fries. I like sweet potato fries because they are an ideal blend of salty fry-style goodness and a hint of sweetness. If I have to add salt to my SPFs just to get a little flavor, that is a death knell. If they taste so much like regular fries that I'm eyeing the sugar packets, that also spells trouble. These fries, however, were like the porridge in the fable: juuuuuust right. They were of the thin, shoestring variety (just a heads up, K, since you like those better) and didn't sacrifice that sweet sweet potato flavor. Not too crispy, not too soft. Amazing.

They looked funny next to the organic veggies on T's plate, but I can see why she ordered them. I tried her fennel and brussel sprouts, both of which were flavorful without tasting too much like whatever was used to season them. She deemed the mushrooms too salty, although they were a good pairing for my veggie burger. And, of course, there were no complaints about those sweet potato fries:

I talked T into dessert, and I ordered the special, Red Velvet Cake. I sipped her chocolate milkshake and found it only passable, but my dessert was pure heaven. The cream cheese frosting wasn't too thick, so it was more like icing or frosting that actual cream cheese, which is always a plus. In the light the cake didn't appear bright red -- it was more of a natural red-brown, and it was moist and perfect. No words can convey it better than the photo:

T and I each ate for under $20, including dessert, although with tip it came out to slightly more. Not too shabby for what I now realize was a life-changing meal. In fact, does anyone want to go back RIGHT NOW?

So, that's my wrap-up of the new victor in the battle for Best Veggie Burger and Best Sweet Potato Fries I've ever had. Westville East has also become tops in a new category, the Best Red Velvet Cake of my life. But, sadly, I'm sure it will be toppled from THAT pedestal someday...


Farfalle with asparagus & salmon, in a light cream sauce.

Courtesy of Orologio, Avenue A btw 10th and 11th

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Yet Another Reason Why I Love Vogue

Reading this on the elliptical at the gym made my mouth water...

I like peanut butter

Long before they learned to make the pouty-face and kill movie stars, mk&a were all about pb&j

okay, maybe just pb. creamy pb.
chunky pb too.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

a new take on burritos

i don't know why i've never thought to cook a burrito in a skillet. i've always either baked them or just cooked the ingredients before rolling them up inside of a warm tortilla. my mom told me about the skillet-grilled burritos that she made earlier this week, so i had to make some of my own!

i'm a little ashamed of posting about using soy chorizo right after the "fake meat" rant, but oh well. the brand is lightlife and the soy chorizo is somewhere between good and pretty good. it's hit or miss with soy chorizo, as the "soyrizo" (i think the brand was melissa's; it came in casing) i've had in the past has been much too salty and its flavor drowns out everything else.

the ingredients are approximately as follows:

1/2 onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1-2 lightlife smart sausage (soy chorizo flavor)
2 tbsp salsa
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 cup shredded cheese
handful of shredded lettuce
flour tortillas (burrito-size)
pam cooking spray

follow cooking instructions for the chorizo. in this case, the sausage is pan-fried for 5 minutes. when that is done, add the onions and green peppers to the pan. i left the leftover chorizo-y liquid because i wanted some extra flavor, but you could also clean the pan and use fresh oil/cooking spray.

when the onions and peppers seem like they're about done, dice the chorizo and throw that in. while those flavors are blending, throw the tortillas in the microwave for about 20 seconds (separated by a dampened paper towel).

throw the onion/pepper/chorizo blend onto the burrito, and top it with shredded lettuce and shredded cheese. roll it up into a sturdy-ish burrito and spray it with a little pam. spray the pan with pam as well, and drop the burrito in with the fold down. after two minutes (maybe longer if your stove isn't insane), flip it. after another two minutes, take it off and eat it!

serve with shredded lettuce, sour cream, and salsa.

(fyi don't use fat free sour cream. we bought some today and it is really not good.)

here is a lovely picture of p's burrito! you can tell because there are mushrooms in it. :P

On the term 'meat substitute' or 'fake meat'

This started out as a comment on e's post, but it got too big. Also, I'm not saying anything about her use of the phrase... if we recall I use the phrase in an important way in my Gobo post.

So I think I'm beginning to sour on the phrase 'fake meat'. Here's a bit of a genealogical explanation first. I love tempeh. If anyone knows this it's K, because for a year every time we cooked I was insistent that we cook tempeh tacos. Now, when I was doing this I wasn't a vegetarian. I wasn't thinking that these were anything other than a delicious taco. This is what gets to the real problem for me. I think dividing meals into vegetarian and non-vegetarian has made some people think about things in a really dumb way. People who would be happy to order fettuccine alfredo will refuse to go to a 'vegetarian' restaurant, and that's just crazy.

Tempeh does more than 'hold its own', it is delicious. (btw I LOVE the Tempeh reuben they have at Brooklyn Label.) And, like anything else, it's also bad if used improperly. I think that calling it fake meat turns people off for some really stupid or irrational reason. Now, I had a pretty medicore/bad seitan Phily cheesteak at quantum leap. This isn't because seitan is meat for morons, it is because seitan doesn't belong in that sandwich (or because they used shitty seitan, which is what I think was actually going on). It's not any different than how a nice arugula, apple, walnut salad would be ruined by a dollop of sloppy joe.

Angelica Kitchen - PART TWO

Ever since K started her vegan experiment, I kept badgering her to go have "good dinner" with me at a nice vegetarian/vegan restaurant. Ideally, I'm sure we would have selected Blossom (, but we work with what our budget allows. My boss, who lives in the East Village, was always telling me that the line at Angelica Kitchen ( was out the door, so we decided to give it a try (BEFORE Blair Waldorf mentioned it on Gossip Girl, thank you very much).

After a fateful and harrowing boot-buying INCIDENT, I showed up a few minutes late and K had already put our names on a list. We were seated immediately, although it was the table right by the door. I usually get a little distressed by drafty dining, but it actually turned out to be fine.

I really liked the atmosphere of the place. I think I was misled by the neon sign, which made me for some reason believe that it was going to be bright and have a sort of sterile quality. I don't know why I decide that certain things are true when they are not, but AK actually proved to be quite cozy and homey, with sort of an amber tinge to everything, lots of wooden accoutrements and an open glass front. There didn't seem to be any rush to hustle us out, but our service was prompt and we didn't have to wait too long for anything.

K was right about the waiter telling me my entree was going to be better, which naturally upset her more than it upset me. However, having tasted both of them, I think they were pretty much on par. Both delicious, although I only tried K's sandwich because I have a complex about salad.

The thing I noticed first and foremost was the taste of the meat substitutes. My entree included seitan, while K's consisted of tempeh. Normally, I find meat substitutes fairly bland, although I enjoy them when they're served in conjunction with other things that are more flavorful. The "meat" itself at AK, however, is absolutely delicious.

The menu indicates that K's tempeh was seasoned with caraway and cumin, and it was actually palpable, a reality rather than an allegation. I couldn't quite detect the specific flavors in my seitan, but it tasted almost like beef with a little extra kick. If it's your first time trying a meat substitute, go somewhere else first...this place will spoil you.

It's also important to note that I finished my ENTIRE Ole Man Seitan tortilla, and I didn't want to die or check myself into fat camp afterward. My body still felt like it was running normally, as opposed to how it feels when I eat regular Mexican tortillas: abused. I also enjoyed the presentation of the food, with the sauce and sour cream thickly applied in cute stripes on top, garnished with a slice of pimento. I promptly messed up the design with my knife, but I tried to avoid showing that little snafu in the photo:

As K mentioned, the dessert was pretty delicious. I was uncomfortable with the thick almond sauce at first, but it proved to be quite dazzling when I gave it a chance. As with the Ole Man Seitan wrap, the food didn't leave me feeling like I'd just ingested something laden with processed poison. Instead, the apples tasted like real apples. It was filling without making me feel like I should throw up or lay down in an effort to recover my health.

So, that was our experience at Angelica Kitchen. I also endorse an SPF field trip, especially if we go early since the place started to fill up as K and I were leaving. Oh, yeah, and going to Johnny's afterward is definitely a requirement. Although maybe next time we shouldn't buy shoes...?

Flourless chili cake

Okay, so we have been making a lot of sweets to deal with the winter (banana bread, if this works out, to come). This was a weird one we slightly modified from (

We didn't have a proper cake pan with a detachable bottom, so we put the mix into these tin foil muffin containers. They are pretty awesome. I want to make an egg cup ( in one soon!

Anyway, so this recipe is basically like a cake recipe, but there's no flour. This lead to problems for both Z and I. She was upset by how much she could detect the high egg content of them even after they were cooked. The texture was not to my liking (and also not very fudge like, so maybe we made it wrong). However, the whole chili pepper thing was really good. So, we decided that the next chocolate cake we make we're going to add a little. The key here is to get chipotle chili powder ... or at least a chili powder that isn't a mix of things but is just chili powder. When you get a bite of cake there's a little kick to it. It's the sort of kick that compliments chocolate well. I've seen chili chocolate and also bacon chocolate, which sounds ridiculously good to me.

So that's that. The picture turned out better than the food, but we've got a good idea for the future. I have the feeling that my blog posts will be less frequent and sound more like that for at least the first three months of the year.

angelica kitchen

after much menu-lusting and a fateful reference on gossip girl, eLs and i made our way to angelica kitchen.

let's start with the location. angelica kitchen, located on 12th street and 2nd avenue, is within walking distance of s'mac, curly's, quantum leap, johnny's. in this terrible weather, i certainly don't want to stand outside and wait for a table, so it's really nice to have options.

that said, we were lucky and got there right before the dinner crowd. the service was quick, although not very friendly (he told eLs that her entree was better than mine....hmmmm). eLs ordered the ole man seitan wrap (which she should write about!) and i got half of a tempeh reuben with a simple salad and kukicha tea. although i don't have anything to compare it to, the tempeh reuben was delicious:

Tempeh Reuben Sandwich served warm. Our version of this classic features baked marinated tempeh, seasoned with caraway and cumin, tofu russian dressing, sauerkraut and lettuce. served on choice of mixed grain bread or sourdough spelt bread

the salad was not as delicious. it had a lot going for it; there were carrots, shredded cabbage and sprouts. unfortunately the house dressing (puréed tahini, scallions, and parsley) tasted like nothing. next time i will either just get the full sandwich or sample a different dressing. the kukicha tea, which i had forgotten about until it was in front of me, was great. apparently it is high in antioxidants and low in caffeine!

for dessert we shared a warm apple crisp with almond cream. i am not a dessert person, but this was pretty great. the almond cream was thicker than we thought it was going to be, but it ended up being a great complement to the warm apples and crisps.

the best part about this place is that it's ridiculously cheap; our bill came out to $25.20. we mysteriously got the dessert for free and the entrees were reasonably priced ($14 for eLs's wrap and $9.75 for my sandwich, salad, and tea).

SPF field trip to angelica kitchen anyone?

Monday, January 26, 2009

a first success!

After many disgusting results I have finally found a delicious oatmeal that is not sweet. If you are feeling a little salty, I recommend adding a little salt, a little pepper, and then a small handful of shredded italian cheeses to it. It's no Dojo Tahini (which I may be picking up today for k) but I sure wouldn't want to eat that stuff for breakfast.

Snoop and Potatoes

From: Eric
Date: 2009/1/26
Subject: solid gold for your food blog


Friday, January 23, 2009

Living like a non-poor student on a poor student budget

Well, it's not possible. I hope I didn't get anyone's hopes up other than my own. The only option is to live poorly and then occasionally spend more money than is at all reasonable on a meal (esp. in New York) by eating out. I have, however, found a place where I can do that slightly more often than other places: Dojo. And now for the back story ... (I hope those are better CF)

Lately I've been working in the NYU Bobst library on the south side of Washington Square on account of my being unable to make myself do anything other than play Tetris Attack if I am at my home. This, however, poses the problem of an absence of freshly toasted PB&J sandwiches, cheese quesadilla, and the like. As usual I turned to my friends at Chowhound (who are far more reliable and comprehensive than my acquaintances at Yelp) for suggestions. I found a Dosa cart that was remarkably good street food, but it was still $5 and served with a plastic fork. I figured I could do better, and after looking for a while longer on the message boards I struck gold: an 'asian-fusion-vegetarian bar and grill' type place that has super cheap food ($4 veggie sandwiches) and super cheap happy hour beers ($2 for a Brooklyn Lager is far from shabby). I, having to work after lunch and all) went for the coffee and nachos instead. The coffee was what you would expect from bar coffee, but the nachos, holy crap. To give you an idea, someone walked by, saw me eating them, immediately came in and said "oh my god that looks delicious! what are those, just nachos? I have to have some!" They were on fresh homemade tortillas that had generous portions of sour cream, homemade guac, and this awesome weird home-made salsa that lacked the tomato-pasty look,texture,taste that lets you know you're eating crap out of a jar. There was also a lot of melted jack cheese. $6 for a meal that left me without an urge for a fancy dinner later that night and I think I can put off brown bagging it for another week or two!

Other People's Kitchens

There are few things as satisfying as cooking for other people. It's an amazing feeling to know that someone you care about is truly enjoying and appreciating something you created from raw ingredients. However, there is also something to be said for being the RECIPIENT of others' cooking.

There is a calming quality to sitting in a friend's warm kitchen, the warmth from the stove or oven creating fog on the windows in the winter. The smell of delicious food is permeating the air, and your only job is to make conversation, pour the wine, occasionally hand something to the cook, and pop copious cheese and crackers into your mouth. It's an amazing way to spend an evening of quality time with a friend, and it allows you to share a meal without spending too much money or enduring the lack of intimacy in a crowded restaurant.

The old saying about too many cooks in the kitchen can often prove true, so sitting on my butt and chatting it up is often my favorite way to be a cook's plus one; it saves them from cooking alone while allowing me to stay out of the way. Another perk of being in this position is the opportunity to observe another cook's process. It gives you perspective on your own methods, and often provides more than a few brilliant ideas about how to make your way around a kitchen.

I recently filled this role for one of the most amazing cooks I know, my friend T. Her food is always delicious, and perhaps the most impressive of the many impressive things about her is that she usually works out the recipe for whatever she's cooking in her head as she goes along. T has an unrivaled understanding of food and what flavors compliment each other in a finished product. She claims her last batch of chili was awful; coming from a place of experience with her cooking, I don't believe her for a second.

It was time for another round of chili, and this time T invited me to try it out. Our adventure began right after work last Thursday, when we met for hot chocolate and some last-minute grocery shopping. As a side note, I encourage everyone to try the hot chocolate at City Bakery ( on 18th St., providing you enjoy beverages that are basically melted chocolate in a cup. I advocate sharing a small cup with someone, or purchasing the shot-sized cup instead. Also, the marshmallows cost extra. Everyone should be forewarned about this get-rich-quick scheme they have in the works.

After we had procured our hot chocolate and were clutching it in our gloved hands, T and I waddled around the outskirts of Union Square in our puffy winter coats and debated the merits of picking up groceries at Whole Foods versus Trader Joe's. Of course, Trader Joe's eventually won out. Despite comparatively bigger lines in a much smaller space, the selection and prices at Trader Joe's basically always lead to a TJ's victory. It's certainly also helpful that next door to Trader Joe's on 14th St. is the Trader Joe's Wine Shop. Because T was cooking, it was my job to procure the wine. Being young and not at all picky, Three Buck Chuck ( was just the ticket.

After waiting in the extreme-as-usual line, T and I exited with the essentials (and some Havarti cheese with dill for crackers) and hopped on the 4/5 to take us to the R train. After arriving at her stop in Queens, we ducked into an organic food grocery store for a few forgotten items and were finally on our way to Chili Heaven.

My job was to chop the onion and peppers, but an intense fear of cutting myself (a terrible handicap for someone who loves to cook, I know) always forces me to do such things far more slowly than an Iron Chef might. T, already on par with an Iron Chef, was able to do the onion herself in less time than it took me to do a single green pepper. She also lit a candle, which apparently helps with the reflex of tears when onions are involved. Chopping a single onion has never bothered me to that extent, but it was certainly a good trick.

T always has the best food gadgets, and this included her chopping knife. An extravagant and rather expensive gift from a relative, the thing cuts pretty much anything like it was air. Although I was impressed, the aforementioned fear of finger amputation will probably always keep me from owning something that allows for such hasty, accurate chopping.

T added ingredients as we both picked at the crackers and cheese. We chatted. We poured the wine. The chili simmered behind us. I rinsed and drained the black beans; T added them to the mixture.

Our friend L arrived, and it was time to chow down and watch The Office. As we each made our way to the living room with a glass of cheap wine, some gluten-free corn bread and a heaping bowl of T's delicious chili, I had one of those amazing moments of feeling happy and cozy and satisfied and connected to the people around me. I'll blame the fact that I had a second bowl on my desire to hold on to such a feeling of food-induced peace and happiness.

So while cooking for oneself certainly has merit (thanks are due to z and mwr for the amazing brie cheese and crescent roll THING I made for myself last night, sharing food as a passive observer is also an important exercise for foodies. Gifts of food are also heartily appreciated, especially when they're lovingly made by the person who presents them to you. For my birthday, my friend A sent me a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread he had baked himself in his breadmaker. He packaged it up in ziploc in a large cardboard box and shipped it out from Ohio, and I still remember how delicious and fresh it tasted every time I tell the story (which is often). It's hard to explain how much more it meant to me to get that loaf of bread instead of something that could be purchased in a store.

So, every once awhile, it's important to be selfish and simply say "thank you" when someone else slaves over a hot stove or mixing bowl and presents you with the product of his or her own creative expression. Just don't forget to bring the wine.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Na zdrowie!

I live in Greenpoint, New York's very own lil' Poland. Over here we like our food hearty, our vodka ever-flowing, and our woman dressed for the disco at all times. I've cultivated quite a taste for Polish fare, and there is nothing better to get me through these long Slavic winters than a plate of pierogi (which is apparently the plural form!). I prefer the cheese & potato variety myself, but plenty of other options abound in all the bodegas of the Streets of North Brooklyn. I'll steam 'em up with some frozen veggies, and maybe throw in something special like the squash featured here. Soy sauce is a nice way to spice things up too, and by spice I of course mean saltify. And there's dinner!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Did you know?

Sunkist orange soda has 41 mg of caffeine, which is more than Coke and Pepsi! This is really great news, as I love orange soda find it (unfortunately) necessary to be awake at work - where we have Sunkist in the vending machine.

Also in caffeine news, Swiss Miss has powdered hot chocolate with as much caffeine as a cup of coffee! We can all finally stop pretending to like mochas.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

vegan taco!

image from

last night, p and i went to taco chulo - a "taco bar and margarita lounge" in williamsburg. their ingredients are very fresh, and you are able to make many crucial choices: which salsa you want, rice or potatoes, etc. i actually used to live on the same block (grand between marcy and havemeyer), but i always walked the extra few feet to lodge. mistake!

let's start with the drinks. p was good with his 32 oz. bottle of tecate, which was really entertaining to watch him drink. i had a couple of the house strawberry margaritas. now for my taco chulo margarita rant:

last time i ate at taco chulo, i had three frozen margaritas and didn't feel a thing. i asked the waitress about this, and she said that frozen margaritas are 90% water and that being much less alcoholic is their nature. while i'm not sure that i believe this completely (i've gotten drunk at chili's guys), and even though i really prefer frozen, i went ahead and ordered them unfrozen. it was delicious and obviously made with fresh strawberries. next time, i might try a beer cocktail. they have a lot of them, and they all sound pretty delicious.

now for the food. oh, the food. vegan mexican fare is hard to find, unless you customize a taco or a burrito to the point where it's just beans and lettuce. taco chulo has two vegan options, and is kind enough to mark them as such on the menu. i had a conejo taco, which was $4.50 and contained the following: whole beans, cabbage, salad mix, guacamole, rice, pico salsa, tofu sour cream. it came as a heaping pile of ingredients atop a couple tortillas, which i prefer as you're able to experience it as more of a salad before it becomes a taco. it was incredible, and the tofu sour cream (which i've always been curious about) was unobtrusive but necessary. all in all i'd give this taco a rating of mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. and for the omnivore's info: p had a chorizo taco and smacked his lips many, many times, so i'm pretty sure he loved it.

the only real problem with taco chulo is waitstaff. the service was very good in the beginning, but quickly went downhill. our waitress completely forgot about our order of chips and salsa, so it didn't come out until after the tacos. kind of awkward. it also took a very long time for us to get our check, which is one of my serious pet peeves. i don't mind if the food is slow to come out, but i get antsy if the check takes a long time.

as annoying as the service was, i really don't think it would prevent me from coming back for another conejo taco! delicious. i'd like to go back and try the other vegan taco soon if any other SPFs are interested!

The Better Omelette

What a breakfast I had this morning, everybody. While omelettes have become a Sunday staple here at the stoop, today we really outdid ourselves.

This particular omelette involved potatoes, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, and, naturally, eggs. The mozrraella was a new thing for us, and it worked out really well. We also have never used mushrooms before, because I don't like mushrooms, but I digress.

We also made sweet ass Italian sausage with maple syrup, which really satisfied a craving that I was unaware of having. Baby arugula, toast, and coffee rounded it out.

There are like, years of leftovers if anyone wants to comeover and eat and keep me entertained during all the football. All the damn football. Oh Sunday.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sweet Potato Dreams

k:Blossom Greens ~ 9/13

Mixed greens, sweet cherry tomatoes, cucumber, jicama, carrot, tamari-toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds in a ginger teriyaki lime dressing.
Our Chef’s preparation of fresh vegetables: roasted fennel, haricot verts, portobello and sundried tomato rolatini, sweet potato puree, sautéed kale, marinated zucchini, carrots, and yellow squash, accompanied by spiced quinoa.

mwr: oh that is too much
that is just toooo much
it can't be a recipe
it has to be something someone is making
k: its a platter
mwr: I WANT IT
mwr: GET IT IN ME.
it would be awesome if SPF disbanded for 5 years
while we each made our fortune
and we could only re-enter if we had over a million dollars.
Then we just ate out every other night at some fancy-ass place
until we had spent our million dollars
and then we went back to being normal people
k: hahahahaha
and our posts would just be like
pedestrian food
i wouldn't let my DOG eat this
and then when we were poor again we'd eat at pommes frites
and $3 falafel
and write rave reviews
mwr: god
why don't my imagined lives and reality coincide
k: :(
for real.

break the silence

Hi guys. I've been a little quiet on here for a while. I'll give three excuses, and then quit pussing out and make a post.

1. I've been pretty good about my whole 'try new things' resolution which a careful reader will notice does not necessarily entail that I have been good about trying new good things. Much of my new has been new experiments at home which have been nothing to write home about unless you're trying to make yourself sound pathetic so that your parents will give you money. For example I tried, again, to make potatoes as good as the mojo potatoes *omg delicious!* I had with k at some weird bar in Williamsburg. This time I tried to 'take a clue' from Lodge, whose onion rings had a little cinnamon in them --also delicious!. (Incidentally, did you know that cinnamon, which used to be used in a lot of medicines, is a really healthy spice? It did not translate very well given the rest of the meal and the other spices on the home pots. I do think, though, that with a little work these could turn into something great. I'll keep working on 'em.
2. I am more poor than I've been since I moved to NY. This will change if&when I get paid from last summer, but right now I have been in debt to myself several thousand dollars for quite some time and I am starting to feel very uncomfortable any time I spend money on anything.
3. I am sick right now...which brings me to the topic of todays post: comfort foods for the ill.

Whenever I am sick I complain a lot. Food helps me not complain (unless I have a nose that won't let me smell how good the food around me is ... then I think I am insufferable), if I like it. It also helps me not be sick if it's healthy (or if I think it is, because maybe I am psychosomatic a lot of the time). I try to combine these as much as I can when I'm sick, so when I am no ordering Pizza Hut I make this awesome spicy chicken soup. It turned out well again, and always does, so I will explain it here!

So, there isn't really a recipe ... just some basic guidelines. Here are the ingredients I can remember now, or that I used this time. They change, but the deliciousness never does.
1 box chicken broth.
1 box veggie broth (I mixed the two this time and I was happy with the results. Next time I might try it exclusively with veggie broth. This might seem stupid ... why would you care if you're going to put chicken in it anyway ... (sorry Case, I know you hate that) but boxes of things that were made with animals kind of weird me out less than boxes of things made with plants. I don't know if that is sane or not).
1 bell pepper -- whichever color you like best
a lot of garlic
1 onion -- whatever sort strikes your fancy or is around the house
about a pound or a pound and a half of chicken breast
1 can black beans (please drain the shit out of these. As you do, you'll notice all of these weird bubbles form. They would form in your intestines if you didn't, and that is gross!)
1 jar salsa (hot!)
a bunch of spices.

Okay so step 1. Cut everything up. The chix should be in small enough pieces that as you scoop it up with a spoon you still have broth and other veggies to have a delicious mouthful. Keep in mind that it will shrink a little when you cook, so don't fret over this too much.

step 2. heat up spices in the pot for a very little bit. Until they start to smell good. Some Indian woman on a message board I was reading said that you should do this because it releases the tastes more. I mainly do it because it makes the kitchen delicious and I am more excited to eat what I'll be eating. Here are the spices I use (assume it is a lot if not noted): cayenne, turmeric *just a little, it's healthy and I use it more for the color than anything else*, chili powder, cumin, and then whatever other stuff you like. You can add more later to taste if you want.

3. pour some oil in and simmer the onions for a few.
3.5 add garlic for only a minute.

4. throw the chicken in. make sure it is cooked all the way. No pink!!! If you don't know how to cook chicken do it with someone who does first, or overcook it to make sure that you don't get sick. But, try not to overcook it... it'll still be cooking in the soup for a while and if it's too try it is less delicious. It'll still be good, though, because all of the juices and fat that chickens have that make your body fight disease will be in the rest of the soup. Oh! also, try to get some of the spices on the chicken. It's fun.

5. add the broths, beans, and salsa. Stir it all up real good and let it boil. When it's started boiling cover and simmer. Do this for 40 min. Make sure it's a light simmer though, otherwise the chicken will get too dry. You can stir occasionally and halfway through add whatever other spices you want.

6. Serve and enjoy. If you are super fancy you can add some cheese and broken up tortilla chips to it (they are easy to make at home and really good if homemade ... otherwise you should get those kind they sell around here for tostadas. They are better than your run of the mill tortilla chips and a little cheaper, and you get to break them apart with your hands!)

Okay, I am going to go play tetris attack and forget that I am sick. I will see you all soon I hope!!!

PS another coffee post is on it's way.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

on sunday night, after mwr had been researching what one should put in one's body for the majority of the day, we made a healthy meal.

this is the recipe that we used.

after a long period of wanting to try quinoa, we finally did it. unfortunately, we did not follow the recipe exactly and i think the flavor really suffered. three things we neglected to do:

1) cook the quinoa in broth instead of water. (bushwick hates vegetable broth)
2) add the beans until the very, very end. i think this was a bigger mistake than we realized; there was no time for the flavors to mix together.
3) cook the vegetables for the suggested cooking time. we would be really bad at hell's kitchen because we failed to have everything ready when it was supposed to be ready. i think with this recipe, it's really important to not overcook the onions and peppers so that they still have bite after you bake them.

luckily some salt, pepper, and hot sauce did the trick.

while the stuffed bell peppers were baking, we had also made a delicious side of collard greens with garlic and onions. this was my favorite part of the meal.

mmm, healthy dinner!

vegan update: it's been nine days and, despite the fact that i have probably accidentally cheated a couple of times, i am really enjoying it. by having to think about my meals more than i was before, i am able to make infinitely better decisions. yay!

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Mark Bittman at the the New York Times walks us through how to be better at life, and I now find it really distressing that I don't have a quarter pound of prosciutto in the house at all times.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

"Millions of Peaches, Peaches for Me"

Week 1 of 52: Peach Noodle Kugel

One of my defining characteristics (a few others being my insane hair, my eccentric accessories and my ability to be both supremely organized and consistently late) is my skill as a baker. My cookies and cakes are always well-received, but the following dish seems to be kryptonite for just about anyone who tries it. Forget anything you read in How to Win Friends and Influence People; this recipe is a pretty much a surefire way to get people like you.

I needed to make dinner to keep with my New Year's resolution about cooking once per week, so I decided to start with something that was already in my cooking arsenal. I've found that many people have never heard of kugel (especially not of the peach-and-noodle variety), but apparently it is a popular Jewish side dish. My family isn't Jewish, but I grew up eating it. Admittedly, if I'd known what was in it as a child I probably would have refused to consume it.

No one ever trusts me when I rave about it, especially once I've explained the recipe to them. Sour cream? With noodles? And sugar? I suppose it's a good thing most people consider it a food adventure, swallow their fear, and swallow it anyway.

This is meant, I think, to be a side dish or a dessert, but I often make it as a main dish (and probably consume more of it than is really healthy to eat in one sitting). So, here we go. With pictures:

Peach Noodle Kugel


*8 oz cottage cheese (I use fat-free)
*2 eggs, beaten
*1 stick melted margarine
*8 oz sour cream (I use fat-free)
*1 cup sugar
*1 tsp. salt
*1/2 lb. of egg noodles (I usually use the medium size)
*1 8 oz. can sliced peaches, drained


1. Boil noodles for 6 minutes and drain.

2. Combine cottage cheese, eggs and margarine in a large bowl.

3. Combine sugar, sour cream and salt in another large bowl.

4. Add noodles to sugar, sour cream and salt mixture. Mix well.

5. Add noodle mixture to cottage cheese, eggs and margarine mixture.

6. Pour into greased 9 x 13 casserole dish.

7. Sprinkle with cinnamon to taste.

8. Arrange peaches on top. (Note: I usually slice the peaches a bit thinner than the way they are sliced in the can so they cover more area and aren't too heavy).

9. Bake at 300 degrees for 90 minutes (1 1/2 hours). Then, EAT!

Another great thing about this recipe (beside the fact that it's ridiculously easy) is that it's fairly cheap. Most of the ingredients are things I always have in my kitchen (eggs, margarine, salt, sugar), and it only cost me about $5 to but the sour cream and cottage cheese. I happened to have egg noodles on hand, but they're fairly cheap and come in 1 lb. packages (which is enough to make kugel TWICE). Plus, if you're making the dish for one or two people, it will probably feed you for a week!

Gratuitous additional photo:

So there you have it. Voila! Delicious, if not all that nutritious. I'm pretty sure next week's menu will include C's Ham Cup with Egg and possibly a Salmon and Sweet Potato Quiche I found a recipe for if I'm feeling adventurous!

A few thoughts on Gobo

Hi all,

So yesterday I was talking to k during lunch and she told me about her burger. At that point I had to give in. I'd had the gobo itch for a while and that was the alfalfa sprout that broke the weak lentil eating vegan's back. I forced Z to join me for dinner there last night. I called an hour ahead to make reservations and it worked out well enough. We had to push our plans back 15 minutes, but for 7pm on a Friday night in Manhattan that's not to bad.

Now, the dinner menu is far more expensive than the lunch menu, and as K pointed out in her post-there are definitely a few bombshells of mediocrity waiting to be ordered to ruin your experience. Happily I've had significant experience there, so here are a few tips for those who are thinking of going.
1. Never order anything Asian sounding. If it sounds like it would be good at a Thai restaurant, it won't be good here. These are also the things that are on the more affordable side. I think it's a secret ploy to scare away cheapskates.
2. Their beverages are overpriced. Furthermore, their coffee is terrible and their tea isn't loose leaf. You should know what you're getting if you order one, otherwise you might get pissed off at the beverage and it will detract from your dining experience.
3. Although I don't have extensive experience with their desserts, don't bother. If you want a good dessert go to a good dessert place.

As I lusted over the menu I thought to myself ... No, mwr (okay I didn't refer to myself as mwr in my head), you know that these are all good, but you HAVE to try something new. So I did. I got the kale, beet, seaweed salad. It was very well arranged on the plate, so I wish I had had a real camera to take a picture of it. The lighting was too low for my camera phone. There were amazingly toasted walnuts with little sesame seeds on them. They were quite sweet, which was really good since the seaweed was a bit vinegary. It was kind of like a taste war: the nuts were little covered wagons of sweet circling 'round the nasty sour injuns. What I mean to say is, although they complimented one another, the dish didn't 'blend' well. I had to manage my eating so that I would end on a walnut.
The kale was a good kale texture but nothing to blog about and the beet cubes were perfectly soft, but there weren't many of them.

Z got this soy-protein rolatini thing with spinach and mushroom inside. It was the winner of the night. These rested gently atop a mound of mashed taters that were DELICIOUS and had a nice green sauce the nature of which I couldn't identify. There was also a weird succotash-y thing that wasn't so great.

All of these leads me to one conclusion: Gobo does fake meat better than anyone else. If you eat there, order that. It's always more expensive (except the veggie-burger at lunch) but anything else and it's just not going to be as good (with the possible exception of the butternut squash risotto). It won't be bad per se, but it's not what makes gobo rant-worthy.

One last anecdote to drive that point home. I thought seitan was the greatest thing on earth after having it there. I didn't understand why anyone didn't like it. Then I had some at quantum leap and was crestfallen. Seitan isn't the greatest 'fake meat', they just make it perfect at Gobo. My mouth waters just thinking about it.

Friday, January 9, 2009

the best veggie burger i've ever had in my life

today, i experienced lunch ecstasy.

when i am unable to leave work for lunch, i often order off of Seamless Web. you just type in your address, pick a restaurant, and order your meal; all of that without any human contact! it's amazing. what's more amazing still is that the west village gobo is on the list of restaurants.

i've been sort of a casual gobo enjoyer. i've had a couple of mediocre experiences, so i'm usually the one throwing skeptical remarks out when mwr is raving. after today, however, i'll be right there raving with him.

i went out on a limb an ordered the home-made veggie burger, which comes with yam and yucca fries. the website had no description of the toppings, sauces, whathaveyou, but i put my faith in gobo and ordered.

the fries were heavenly. no salt, pepper, or ketchup needed. oh my god. so good. i HAD expected to put ketchup on the burger, until i looked inside...

hummus. there was hummus. hummus, sprouts, avocado (which i took off :( boo made up food allergies!), and tomato, all sitting on this perfect veggie burger patty. there are no words. it was so good. and for $9, it can and will become my lunch staple!

thank you seamless web. thank you gobo. thank you yams. thank you so much.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Why a sweet potato friend?

No, not because we represent the struggle man. Here's why:

Also, this is just a really wonderful website about the nutritional content of all kinds of things you might be thinking about eating.

Egg Cup

Photo courtesy of

Hey kids. Here is a handy little idea I picked up from the fam over the holidays. It's a great way to play hostess, and eat eggs!

You put thin slices of deli ham in a muffin tray (as many cups as you would like to make), and then some olive oil and fresh spinach at the bottom. Crack an egg in there, sprinkle on some cheese if you'd like, and pop in the oven. 10-15 minutes should do it, depending on how runny you like your eggs.

And you've got these adorable, individual serving egg cup things! Pretty cool, I think, and allows plenty of room for improvisation. Have fun!

Photos come first

I found this link to another blog courtesy of, one of my favorite daily reads:

I love that someone else finds this crucially important.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hi Moto

My first meal out this new year, after having spent the past week holed up eating mostly pasta and eggs (which is totally fine), was at Moto in south ass Williamsburg. It just felt right to put on my golden pointy shoes and venture out of my Greenpointy cocoon for my first-time trip to the timeless establishment.

The weather was definitely cold and possibly foreboding, as the forecast called for a chance of sleet. Wandering back and forth beneath the roar of the JMZ; wondering where my date was and what direction to go in, I began to doubt if this outing had been worth my special occasion barrette after all. But soon we found each other and found ourselves underneath the hanging bike on the corner of Broadway and Hooper, suggesting we had arrived (Moto lacks any real signage advertising its modest existence). Finally finding our refuge, it felt as if we had stumbled into a secret; passed through some sort of hidden portal.

The quite cozy space was nearly empty at first as we snuggled into a table by the window (and by the bar and by the kitchen. It's tiny). The JMZ still rumbled overhead, but inside the noise seemed almost comforting, as if the city around us was snoring. While the streets of south Williamsburg aren't the most inviting , looking out the window of Moto they seem old-fashioned instead of discomforting. The decor inside reflects this as well: dimly lit with sepia-toned pictures on exposed brick; classic music playing that you can't quite place.

Soon after we arrived, others seemed to catch on and the place steadily yet unobtrusively filled up. My meal, a prosciutto and brie panini, was utterly delectable, but not quite as mouthwatering as similiar fare of yore. J was somewhat disppointed in his ribs: as a "southern" boy he has high expectations. However, in my opinion, the garlic mashed potatoes served alongside could more than make up for any meaty mistakes. Washed down with their reasonably priced draught beer, the meal was everything we could have hoped for.

After visiting the very neat restroom (downstairs, cool toilet, weird mirror) we knew it was time to face the elements. Back outside, the freezing rain stung our hands and we struggled to hear one another through our hoods and over the train. Yet we were fully sated, having finally re-entered the real world by briefly stepping into another.

To cook or not to cook...

Like mwr, I've also made a food resolution for the new year. I was forced to amend it slightly, however, when I realized I had made a rookie mistake. My resolution, to "cook more," was far too general and provided me with more than a little wiggle room. A wishy-washy, ambiguous resolution like this would have made it far too easy to claim success next December. I recognized that I needed some parameters.

SO. My new resolution is to cook once per week. It's shameful to acknowledge that I currently cook far less often than that, but at least I have an excuse for myself. I eat out ALL THE TIME. I don't even have to wonder where all my money goes, because I already know. RESTAURANTS. I love food too much to subject myself to my own cooking when there are so many amazing restaurants and tantalizing dishes to sample in this city. Why would I make myself veggies and rice when I could have Butternut Squash Risotto Croquettes? It just doesn't make sense.

Well, I suppose all that is about to change, depending on the strength of my motivation to actually go through with this. I truly enjoy cooking, and even if I'm not talented enough to whip up something Lodge-worthy, I miss the experience of creating something savory and delicious in my own kitchen. My only consolation is the fact that I have continued to bake regularly, mostly just because my cookies and assorted baked goods are simply unrivaled...haha. Still, whether it was just laziness or the seduction of the thousands of restaurants in the area, this no-cooking era must end.

When and if I cook this week (...maybe I should just cook once every two weeks...), I'll probably use this handy link from my friend R to warm myself up to the big leagues again...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Monday, January 5, 2009

Food resolution 2009

Okay, so generally I like to have 10 things that I want to be working for going at once. Then when any single one fails I don't mind so much because I've got nine other to distract me while I find a replacement. This goes with food too. I'm no spring chicken, so I want to start eating with an eye to potential heart failure and metabolism loss. I want to cook all the time. I want to learn to be a thrifty chef for when I have to start paying back student loans. But! I just read a cheesey inspiring thing on the intorweb about picking a single goal and sticking to it and stoking the fire; so I think I will throw those things under the bus and stick to a single goal in hopes of achieving it. So, my food resolution for '09 is *drum roll* Eat new things! I am in a major cooking rut. I've described my predilection for routine eating. I also want to make tempeh tacos every night. They are delicious and all, but I think the more I try to cook different stuff the more my cooking brain will develop. Then, when I'm in a real pickle I can macguyver my way into a delicious meal when confronted with the sparcest of pantries. So there it is guys. I hope you're excited to see a bunch of craziness on this blog over the next year because Z's brie-cheese block was amazing and I would never have made it in my rutty state.

spicy tortilla soup

a while ago, i decided that it would be fun/beneficial to try being vegan for a month. i needed to wait until the holidays were over so that i didn't have to forego such treats as greek salads from greek isle, delicious sandwiches from wildflower cafe, and p's mom's homemade white cheddar mac & cheese. well, we just got back last night and i had my first vegan meal: spicy tortilla soup. i took it pretty much directly from this recipe, except my grocery store did not have vegetable broth so i had to use a broth/water mix. i also omitted the toppings, but i can totally imagine the soup being a little better with them.

here are some pictures:

the first time i've ever had the opportunity to use my immersion blender!

all done!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Veggie Inspiration

Like C and her masterful artichoke portrait, I have given this photograph a place of honor in my kitchen. During an internship in upstate New York, my roommates and I stayed in nightmarish quarters in the basement of a bed and breakfast. Inexplicably, this faded poster was displayed in a broken frame (part of which is visible here) in the kitchen, hanging sadly by a bit of wire. We took a photograph, and that picture is currently displayed in my NYC kitchen. If I have anything to say about it, it will grace the kitchens of all my future living spaces. I love its hideousness beyond measure. It seemed somehow worth sharing...

Friday, January 2, 2009

Lessons for 2009: texture is important

Well, our year began without a bang, without a fizzle, without even a drizzle! Z and I stayed in this year and when we woke up the following day the water no longer worked in our house. It was dreadful, but all is well now and to celebrate we decided to cook. We had purchased some badly needed supplies earlier (a real mixing bowl since our plastic ones seemed to disintegrate), a whisk, a spatula, and one of those awesome 4 sided graders so I decided that it would be nice to use all of them. I also got a parking ticket the other day, so I wanted to cook cheaply. It was difficult, but then I realized that I could make a weird frittata thing. Here is what I did:

1. Into the huge mixing bowl (check) I graded (check) a potato and a sweet potato. I think threw some pre-graded cheese in and some spices (salt, pepper, cayenne).
2. I cracked 4 eggs into the bowl and whisked (check) the stuff together.
3. I threw some oil into a large pan and then spatula'd (check) the entire mixture into the pan. Here I did what I could to flatten things.
Then I let the whole thing fry (covered) for a while.
4. After it seemed ready I flipped it and put it back in upside down. The flipping part is a lot of fun, though people who write about cooking online seem to think it is difficult. Maybe there are a lot of disabled people blogging about cooking. If they can't use their arms very well then it would make sense that they have a hard time with the flipping. Otherwise I just don't know. All you do is get a plate ready and take the whole pan and flip it over so that the weird eggy pancake thing lands on the plate. Then slide it back into the pan upside down.
5. After a very little bit so that the other side was cooked through I slide the whole thing on a pan.
6. Then I realized that I had forgotten to put peppers and onions in. I had planned to do this and felt really stupid for not doing it, but that sort of thing happens to me a lot when I just decide to make up some food idea without a recipe. It wasn't too disastrous because i threw a little extra cheese and some salsa on top and covered the plate for a few minutes so that it would get all melty.
7. I ate most of it. That is a lot of food to eat most of, so it must have been pretty good. I like eating plate-sized round things a lot.

I'm going to take a moment here to reaffirm the importance of texture in eating. If I were more into it I would try to describe what an eggy pancake feels like, but I don't think I am. It feels really good though. Better than quiche, even a fresh one.

Z made an even more delicious thing though. It was pastery-wrapped brie that had been baked. All kinds of delicious things had been drizzled all over the inside and the outside before cooking: syrup (from the Adirondacks), rasberry jam, and some other stuff. When it came out it had to cool for a few minutes and then it was a delicious cheesy-sweet blob. I ate part with just the pastry, part with apple, and part with cracker. I also loved brie for the first time ever. Turns out that is brie is warm and melty instead of cold and buttery I like it a lot. The taste is amazing. Once again, texture makes all the difference.

So, 2009 is off to a good start now. I have successfully gotten myself to like brie. One of my new years resolutions is to make homemade mayonaisse and not be grossed out by it. This condiment seems so disgusting to me, but it is used in so many things that are so delicious. I think that I limit my options too much by looking at thing, seeing the word 'mayo', and turning away in disgust.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

tortellini soup

unfortunately, i don't have pictures of this drunken concoction. after three lodge iced teas and countless beers, i was very hungry. mike and i went to hana and purchased spinach cheese tortellini. i did not have any tomato sauce, so we (mike) had to get inventive. he should probably be writing this post, because i have no idea what he put in the sauce besides: tomato juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes. in the end, it was more of a soup than a sauce. it was ridiculously spicy and ridiculously delicious.

(i am purposely not writing about the AMAZING butternut squash risotto croquettes. i'm in connecticut and do not have my camera cord!)

happy new year, everyone! brace yourselves for an epic holiday food post when i return.