Category Archives: fancy snackery

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

Note to Self…

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Weekend Wind-Down

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Brown Butter Cakes with Whip Cream and Hazelnuts

Gigundo Apple Tart

Gigundo Apple Tart

Double Chocolate Mousse Roulade

Double Chocolate Mousse Roulade

My first bat mitzvah cake!

My first bat mitzvah cake!

Happy Ending Matcha Friday

My big news for the day: I finally mastered Brioche! And they were beautiful, buttery babies. The recipe was from a Jacques Pepin party cookbook, which I selected for authenticity and because the recipe included booze. (The stuff all good pastries are made of.) But I left work in such a hurry that pictures and recipe will have to wait for tomorrow.

Another recipe coming soon will be olive oil + rosemary brioche. Since the holidays, I have really fallen for my Veganomicon cookbook. Isa, the author, is really amazing and creative with replacing dairy. I have already tried her recipes for Cashew Ricotta, Walnut-Mushroom Pate, Cucumber Cashew Dip (like tzadziki), and Zuchhini Tomato Pancakes. All were amazing. SO today, while perusing my already splattered copy of the big book over a bowl of puffed wheat and soymilk, I dreamed up a dairy-free brioche made with really good extra virgin olive oil instead of butter. Then I thought about the rosemary-studded table bread I used to sneak from the stash in the kitchen at P*ong. I think the combination would make a sublime breakfast food. Stay tuned!

Tonight I took a break from my working weekend to see my friend Gary in a hilarious play called The Lesbian Vampires of Sodom. His costume changes, including gold lamé gladiator skirt, bicycle short with feather boa, and giant afro, were enough to have me rolling in the aisle, but the great acting helped, too. After the show, I was so proud of him, but for some reason, I did not have it in me to go out and celebrate with everyone. Instead, I headed over to this sweet little Japanese teahouse on East 9th Street that I kind of have a crush on right now, for some quiet time and nonalcoholic beverage therapy.

Kristen and I discovered Cha-An one chilly night while wandering around 3rd Avenue looking for a place to celebrate her last day of work with good beer (me) AND good tea (her). We checked out a few places but nothing worked for us. Then I noticed this little glowing sign by a doorway. It looked like you had to get buzzed in, but the door swung open when I pulled it, and we climbed up a flight of stairs and ducked through a curtain. It already had all the symptoms of an Anita favorite. The mood inside was warm and dark, and accented with wood and stone. The navy blue smocked waitresses smiled from behind a low bar, where you could look beyond to an all-girl staffed open kitchen. We were seated at a low table and I enjoyed a truly delicious buckwheat soba beer.

It was more lively inside this time, and I had to wait for a table. But there was a little stone pillar with a softly glowing window at the top for me to stare at while lounging in the waiting area. The waitress stirred me from my trance and led me to a small table. Jean was on the way, but I couldn’t wait for a bright green matcha latte, which was delivered in a big, beautifully painted earthenware bowl. I wrapped my hands around it, took in some steam, tipped it back, and became just as relaxed as could be. At the bottom of the bowl, there were some tiny red beans. That sent me back twenty years, to my first happy ending sundae from Friendly’s–with the Reese’s Pieces at the bottom. And I felt…HAPPY.

Jean arrived and we each ordered a “set,” which turned out to be a multi-course meal of extremely tiny but satisfying dishes. Mine was basically a bowl of multigrain rice porridge with different garnishes, like pickled ume plum (my favorite one) and marinated enoki mushrooms; and some delicate octopus and vegetable fritters. Jean’s included a smoked salmon salad and some soulful-tasting stewed kubocha squash.

cha-an

We gobbled everything up in a very un-teatime-like way, and were rewarded with these two beautiful desserts, which we decided to savor more slowly. Mine was a square of caramel mousse on a dense and gooey chocolate cake base, and Jean’s was a tea flavored mochi stuffed with sweet red beans. We let each other sneak heavenly bites. The whole meal was less than $40, which is a lot for us, but a great value when you consider the quality of the food and the fact that you get amazing tea (with free refills for most brews), and dessert too.

Cha-An Tea House
230 E. 9th St, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues
East Village

Mini Quiches and Truffle Cookies

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No Fair No Fair No Fair

At 1am I called tech support for some help installing my new scanner and had to beg for them to find someone who knew about Macs. Eventually, my call was shuttled to a nice guy in Ontario, Canada. So, naturally, while we waited for the software to download the conversation turned to POUTINE! I was pretty much obsessed with poutine ever since I first tried it as an upstate-New York college student underage-drinking in Ottawa and Montreal. 

Poutine: french fries, fresh cheese curds, and “red” gravy, is a specialty of that part of Canada and you can find infinite versions of it everywhere.

But NOT in New York 😦   

(Sorry, Pommes Frites don’t count).

So imagine my horror when my tekkie friend asked “what about ‘New York Fries?’ You HAVE to have that.”

That is soooo cruel. They named the place New York Fries but the closest location is hundreds of miles away from here!? You can even get your Poutine fix in Seoul, or the Mall of the Emirates, but if you were hailing one of the NY yellow cabs that zoom across their homepage, it would not be to get poutine, because, for some reason, cheese curds can be shipped sucessfully halfway accross the globe but not accross the border!

 “Authentically New York”…?

More like authentically gypped! Gimme poutine!