Tweet Tweet

As if I needed any help NOT updating my blog. You can now follow me on twitter.

Lots of fun blog posts still to come!

Wave Your Five Fingers Goodbye!

…and hello!

I am temporarily/possibly permanently retiring this blog. I have not updated it in months, and it is not a mistake.

For the past two and a half months, I have gone and done something crazy for a chef, and become totally vegan. A lot of people in the food world don’t understand why or how, but it is working for me…REALLY working for me, right now.

So a lot of the recipes, discoveries, and things I have been the most excited about lately don’t really go with the theme of this here blog. SO…I started a new one :)

I am still working on the name, logistics, etc…but for now you can check it out at http://www.verdantkitchen.wordpress.com.

XOXO and thanks for bearing with me! I am really excited about this new chapter in my culinary life. Expect a lot of innovative new baking recipes, and adventures.

Smoked Tofu Curry Noodle

tofu-curry-noodle

I spent the first beautiful weekend of summer in Ithaca, NY. Between hiking, ultimate frisbee, and yoga, I had a little bit of time to check out the local food co-op and grocery store.

Ithaca is home to a thriving vegetarian scene, including the landmark Mosewood Restaraunt, so I couldn’t wait to try the locally made organic tofu I found. Each individually-wrapped, golden brown block of Ithaca Soy Tofu-Kan cost around $2.00, and came marinated, baked and ready to eat.

After using it in this recipe, I fell in love with this ingredient. Continue reading

The Cheapskate’s Guide to Puerto Rico: Part II

pinones-sm

Pinones

A short drive east from San Juan on coastal route 187 is the beach town of Piñones. Freed and escaped sugarcane plantation slaves founded Piñones with the help of native Tainos, and Afro-Carribbean culture and pride still run strong. At my first roadside stop, I watched a bomba dancer in a long skirt and bare feet command the rhythms of conga drummers with the movement of her hips.

Piñones is also where immigrants from the Dominican Republic settled in the 60’s and 70’s. Therefore, the first half of the town consists of Dominican clubs and restaurants, and the second half are Puerto Rican. You can drive up and down the strip at night, sampling both tastes, rhythms, and accents. Continue reading

The Cheapskate’s Guide to Puerto Rico: Part I

Puerto-Rico_anita

My good friend is leaving for Puerto Rico today, so to follow through on a last minute promise, here is my version of what’s good in Puerto Rico–to eat, see, and enjoy–based on the three months I lived there in 2007. The first installment is about an area of San Juan I frequented regularly:

Santurce

On Thursday and Friday nights, the bars surrounding this market plaza are so packed with locals that the crowds spill out into the street, where they dance to live music, gather around tables with beers and fried seafood, and socialize beneath the large trees that line the plaza. I was there about twice a week, but it was usually at midday, instead of midnight.

This is because the Placita de Santurce is also home to a farmer’s market where you can find the best fresh fruits and veggies in the city. Inside the plaza’s turn-of-the-century structure, you can find everything from red bananas to yellow avocados. One vendor sells exotic herbs like yerbabuena, wild tarragon, and Puerto Rican lemongrass—all especially good for flavoring cocktails like mojitos.

A selection of fruits fresh from the market: guamas de la india, platanos, papaya, bananas and pinapple

My favorites from the Placita: guamas de la india, platanos, papaya, bananas and pineapple.

Another yummy add-in for mojitos is my favorite Puerto Rican fruit: guama de la India. Native guamas grow on trees, inside large green pods that look like giant peas. But in the summer, they are out of season, so, to keep up with year-round demand, another kind of guama tree was imported from India. Its fruit looks like an orange teardrop with tender white flesh inside—and the taste is like nothing else. It has the fresh, pine-y taste of juniper berry, the tartness of lychee, and the sweetness of Muscat grapes. You can’t go to PR without trying one…or twenty.

The Ramirez family sells guamas at their large stand in the center of the market. They also sell rum bottles full of homemade aji (spicy pepper sauce), which make for great souvenirs. Continue reading

Exotic Cupcakes Win Hearts in Brooklyn

Monday night I participated in the pro division of the Brooklyn Kitchen Third Annual Cupcake Cookoff. Although I did not take home the title, it was more than worth the week long preparation that went into my three entries to meet such cool people and feel the thrill of competition running through my veins for the first time since, I dunno, my JV basketball tournament in 10th grade.

Originally, I planned to make cupcakes that could compete in the exotic flavor category. But two days before the competition I found out that as a pro, I was not eligible for any of the themed categories. I would be competing against 5 other pros in a “may the best man win” battle. I went ahead with my exotic themed cupcakes, which may have been a mistake, since the cupcakes that won–while super yummy–were more traditional.

A crowd favorite, all 3 batches of my Sweet Potato Cupcake with Chai Buttercream, Chocolate Rum Drizzle and Pistachio disappeared halfway through the competition...the first of any of the 5 pro competitors!

A crowd favorite, all 3 batches of my Sweet Potato Cupcake with Chai Buttercream, Chocolate Rum Drizzle and Pistachio disappeared halfway through the competition...the first of any of the 5 pro competitors!

My idea for the Sweet Potato Cupcake with Chai Frosting came to me days before the competition. It popped into my head while I was in the shower.

My friend Sara had just come back from India, and the first thing I had grilled her about was chai tea. She told me that the best chai in India is sold by chaiwallas (tea peddlers) on trains. They get on the train when it pulls into the station, sell the tea they just brewed, and get off before the train departs. Continue reading

Calling All Cupcake Addicts!

Last minute last minute last minute. I will be competing in the third annual Brooklyn Kitchen cupcake cookoff tomorrow. There will be a full play by play recap of the action on my blog after the fact, but if you want to get in on the action, eat all the cupcakes your belly can handle, and party in the process, be at Union Pool tomorrow night!

Union Pool
484 Union Avenue
Williamsburg

7-9 PM Monday, May 11th 2009

XOXO Hope to see you there! Anita