Monday, March 29, 2010

New Bun on the Block!

Have found another good Hot Cross Bun! Surprisingly enough, at the ancient Lafayette Pastry, notable chiefly for its charming, elderly proprietess and the fact that they carry "charlotte russe," a cardboard cup of sponge and whipped cream with a movable bottom that, apparently, used to be the delight of every mid-century Brooklyn child but is now almost extinct! [Oh, I forgot they were the ones who made the "drunken negro cookie" a few months back. Just did an image search and, yes. Hm. Problematic. This effects the rest of the entry but will run it anyway.] Anyway, I bought the HCB more because I wanted to buy something and it goes against the grain to pass one up (except at Amy's Bread, where they're like iced ciabatta.) But it was good! In the Galloway's style, which is to say more of a Parker House roll dough, studded with currants and a little citron. Would buy this bun again. Indeed, I will: this Friday I intend a very wide-scale tasting. And I need to buy some cheese for a dinner that evening, so I believe I must needs be in the area. (I like Lucy's Whey in the Chelsea Market. Smallish, but impeccable, selection, and terrific staff. Or there's always Murray's.)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Brink Of Despair!

Hunger sent me into despair and indecision at the Chelsea Market today...

But a sandwich cured all that!

Most Revolting Thing I've Ever Seen:

A scone studded with Oreos! Quel horreur!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Luck Of The Irish

Last night, it being a balmy St. Pat's, I made colcannon and Cook's Illustrated's salmon fish cakes. These were, obviously, an enormous pain in the ass. The three-part breading alone was a major ordeal, and anyone who suggests placing a cookie sheet in the freezer (to firm the cakes up pre-frying, of course) has a much bigger fridge than I, or else has a lot less crap in hers. (You know theirs are empty, save for a few neatly-labeled bags of homemade stock and maybe some made-in-advance meals frozen in individual portions for the nights they work late.) With the pileup of dishes, the batch-frying and draining-on-paper-on-yet-another-plate became a chaotic space issue. And, of course, the smoke alarm went off and I'm too short to reach it. Also, the house now smells like frying fish, never a happy morning-after. I have placed dishes of white vinegar around, which some old housewives recommend for this sort of thing.

That said: they were delicious.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Emergency Lunch

The larder was a bit bare today, so I had eggs. I sauteed a couple of crushed garlic cloves, added a small can of chopped tomatoes, and cooked it down a bit. Then I cracked in two eggs, covered it, and let them set. Afterwards, I grated on a little parmesan and ran it under the broiler. With a little spinach on the side: good!

Planning an ambitious St. Patrick's Day dinner - stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New Dish

Last night, I tried something new, a recipe I glanced at in Wine Bar Food at (for some reason) the Chicago Art Institute.

Here's what you do:

Brown about 4 lbs pork spareribs in olive oil.

Add some smashed garlic cloves and brown.

Submerge in 2 large cans crushed tomatoes with salt and pepper. (Water as needed to cover.)

Braise at 325 for 2 and a half hours, covered.

Add about 1/2 a cup of jarred peppers and cook half an hour longer.

Remarks: the only peppers available were red "tabasco" peppers, which made it all but inedible to everyone but certain chain-smokers, who pronounced it delicious. But because of the ease of preparation (said chain-smoker made most of it with minimal supervision), overall tastiness and delectable house-filling savory smell, will definitely make again, this time with cherry peppers. I also think it would be good with something bland to cut it, like pasta or, even better, polenta, especially as there's plenty of sauce. Lest you think the combo reads a tad "barbecue," rest assured, the total lack of sweetness renders it completely Mediterranean in flavor, and it's much more like an Italianate braise or stew. Try it, you like it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Annual Hot Cross Bun Roundup

It is time. Hot Cross Buns are one of my favorite things in the whole, wide world. And this year brings some new ones - new to me, anyway!

Bouchon Bakery: They only start making this iconoclastic, cardamom-scented bun closer to Easter Sunday, so I have yet to have one this year. However, I'm confident that it will be as outstanding as ever. It's big and full of fruit, but doesn't hold up: my mother always insists on saving it overnight and it's never as good day-old.

Galloway's Bakery: I can't believe I'd never tried this! Galloway's, not too far from my parents' house in Westchester, is an old-school family bakery that makes the world's best cinnamon rolls and glazed donut holes. Until this weekend, I'd never tried their HCB, but when my mom and I went on Sunday and we saw the hand-written sign advertising them, well, the die was cast. While it wasn't quite up to the standard of the ultimate old-fashioned bun (that of the late, lamented College Bakery of Carroll Gardens) it was still very tasty: a fluffy base that tasted like a good Parker House roll, a good amount of fruit, and of course plenty of gooey icing.

The Breslin: This split, toasted British-style bun is on the menu year-round. It really is like what one (or, I guess, April Bloomfield) gets in the UK: not too sweet, flour-paste cross, just currants. It's wonderful.

Entemann's: I have a soft spot for these, unabashedly commercial and sweet and suspiciously long-lived though they might be. My heart leaps in my chest the first time I see their purple box at the store - or, as it did this year, the bodega in Fort Greene!

I am not, as a general rule, a junk-food snacker. My snack choices are more idiosyncratic: canned tomatoes, jarred spaghetti sauce with an incongruous glug of good olive oil, or, in a pinch, tomato paste straight from the tube. But this is not to say I am a junk food-frowner: on occasion I crave a Double-Stuf Oreo, and nothing is more comforting than Kraft, supplemented with chunk-light tuna and half a can of sweet, gray-green peas.

But the one thing I dream of is Marie Callender's spaghetti with meat sauce. This is very hard to find on the East Coast, despite my best efforts. I did first sample it while staying with my grandparents in California, and it was readily available in Chicago where I went to college, but according to the website, I should be able to track it down around here. Still, I haven't been able to. Despite being a "TV" dinner, this spaghetti takes a long time to prepare, whether boiled in water or microwaved, in its two separate plastic pouches. It is sweet with corn syrup and heady with salt and garlic powder and comes with a spongy, chemical-buttery piece of garlic bread, which at some point was switched to a "Texas toast." I love this meal. I drench it in olive oil and shower it with fresh parmesan (high-low, I guess) and scatter it with parsley and it is, hands down, one of my favorite comfort foods. If you have any leads, please let me know.