Wednesday, September 30, 2009

In the Mail :: Brown Butter Lemon Pound Cake

My sister's birthday was yesterday!  To celebrate, I wanted to surprise her and send her a home baked birthday treat.  So this weekend, I did a little research on freezing and mailing desserts, and read that cakes rich in butter freeze and defrost perfectly.  So I thought: pound cake!  Perfect! Who doesn't love a rich, buttery loaf of cake? :-)

This month's Gourmet Magazine has a delicious recipe for a brown butter pound cake, and I of course, couldn't resist.  I ♥ brown butter! It's so simple, but it completely changes the flavor of the butter, it becomes deliciously nutty.  I also had a pile of lemons so it turned into a lemon zest brown butter pound cake.

I made two loafs, one for A. and I to try, and one I froze and overnighted to my sister in Boston.   It arrived perfectly thawed and moist, ready to be cut and enjoyed, right on time for her b-day! 


PS: Happy Birthday, N.! 

BROWN BUTTER LEMON POUND CAKED (adapted from Gourmet Magazine)
2 sticks of butter, unsalted
2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 2 lemons
juice of 1/2 a lemon

Preheat the oven to 325F and butter your loaf pan (or 2 mini loaf pans).  Heat the butter in a heavy saucepan until the solids on the bottom of the pan brown.  You want them to be a dark chocolate brown.  Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Beat together the brown butter and sugars until fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add 1 egg at a time and continue to beat until fully mixed.  Add the vanilla, lemon juice and zest and mix at low speed.

Transfer the batter into the pans and rap on counter until the batter settles.  Bake until golden brown (between 1 - 1.5 hours) until a wooden pick comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then another hour out of the pan on a rack.

TO MAIL:  When the cake has cooled, wrap it in parchment paper and put the loaf in the freezer on a rack.  When the cake has frozen solid, about 2 hours, wrap it in aluminum foil or place in a freezer safe Tupperware (leave the parchment paper on).  When you are ready to mail, you can put the cake pan back in the loaf pan (this helps protect it in the mail) and re-wrap it in the paper and aluminum.  Place the loaf in a mailing box and fill any extra space with packing paper/peanuts to prevent movement and mail overnight.  

Monday, September 28, 2009

Happy 50th Blog Post :: Shanghai Soupy Dumplings

Yay, today is a big day!  My 50th blog post on 337 Greenwich.  I'm very excited... I started this blog as a way to document recipes but it's become much more.  It's been an inspiration to try new recipes, taste new ingredients, and basically make a mess in the kitchen without having to clean it up cause I'm 'busy blogging'! :-)  

Thank you for tagging along in all of my crazy kitchen experiments! 

Oh, I've gotten a few questions on what '337 Greenwich' stands for. Well, #337 is our apartment number and we live on Greenwich Street in the West Village.  So there you have it: 337 Greenwich.  I love our apartment, not only cause it has an elevator (kidding... although after coming from a 6th floor walk up, an elevator is a big plus!) but because it's A. and mine first apartment together, and home to our little kitchen that day after day churns out all of these dishes.   A. has now decided to call it 'the little kitchen that could'!

Anyway, I love hearing from you so send me any questions, notes, recipe ideas, random thoughts... anything, to: 337greenwich(@)gmail(dot)com  

There's many more posts to come! :-)

Ok - so back to the dumplings!  In the spirit of experimenting, this weekend we attempted to make one of A.'s favorite dishes: soupy dumplings.  Dumplings in China vary greatly by region, from different shapes to fillings.  Soupy dumplings originated in Shanghai.  They have a thin outer skin and are filled with seasoned pork meat, and a generous burst of soup. 

 These little flavor pouches are delicious when served freshly steamed.  You poke a little hole on the top with a chopstick, allow the steam to come out, sip a bit of the soup and then enjoy the savory morsel.  Delicious!  ...but seemingly very complicated to make, how does the soup get in there?

Well, I used Kitchen Musings easy to follow recipe which made the task a bit less daunting.  Since its our first time making dumplings, I bought the skins and the dumpling dipping sauce already made at Sunrise Mart (next time I'll attempt my own!).  The end result was delicious, my only regret was not doubling the recipe so that we could have had more leftovers to freeze.  

I've summarized the process into 10 easy steps, hope you enjoy!

I wont re-write the ingredient quantities, rather follow Kitchen Musing's link for quantities.
(My Cooking Notes:  I added 1 generous tablespoon chopped cilantro to the pork filling for extra taste)

STEP 1:  Make the broth by boiling chicken stock, pork fat, scallions and ginger.

STEP 2:  Allow the broth to cool (I placed it in the fridge for about 20 minutes).  Then add the gelatin powder to the strained broth.  Reheat the broth and allow it to come to a boil.  Pour the clear broth in a baking dish (8" x 8", lightly greased) to make a thin layer.  Place the dish in the fridge to allow the gelatin to form.  (That's how the 'soupy' gets in the dumpling... you make a gelatin!

STEP 3: Remove the gelatin film from the dish and chop into small pieces. Set aside.

STEP 4:  Season the ground pork with scallions, rice vinegar, sesame oil, salt, pepper, ginger, soy sauce...and I added cilantro.  Allow the meat to rest for 30 minutes.

STEP 5: Combine the gelatin cubes with the pork meat.  Using your hands, mix well.

STEP 6:  Get your wrappers ready (I defrosted my store bought skins overnight), and keep a cup with warm water nearby.

STEP 7:  Now, you're ready to assemble the dumplings!  Lay one dumpling skin on your hand (it helps if you slightly cup your hand).  Add filling to the center of the dough.  You want to leave at least 3/4" of dough around the filling.  Start pinching the edges of the dough to create a small pouch with the filling on the bottom of the dumpling.  Be careful not to tear the dough.  Pinch the top of the dough to create a secure seal.  Use a bit of warm water on the tip of your fingers to help seal the dough if needed.

STEP 8: Voila! Soupy dumplings!  Place the dumplings on parchment paper as you work through the filling.

STEP 9:  Steam the dumplings in a steamer, lined with parchment paper and greased with a bit of sesame oil, atop boiling water for 8 minutes.  Do not overcrowd the steamer, leave about 1" between dumplings

STEP 10:  Serve immediately, and pair with a dumpling dipping sauce, enjoy!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Friday Night :: 'Le Fooding' comes to NYC!

A. and I were lucky enough to spend Friday night at 'Le Fooding'!!!

Le Fooding is a french culinary movement where fine dining restaurants and top chefs present their creations in a casual setting...a picnic! It started as an underground movement to promote creativity and freedom from convention, but now is now a widespread cultural event. A yearly restaurant guide is now published. This year is the first time Le Fooding is taking over NYC!

A food tasting of Paris and NY's top chefs, comfy lounge chairs, great music, and champagne... all at PS1 (the MOMA's contemporary art center in Queens which has a great outdoor space).

Oh, and all proceeds went to Action Against Hunger. A great evening all round!

On the menu?
- Grilled Chicken Necks with Yuzu Marinade (Wylie Dufresne, WD-50) ...amazing taste, although I admit it was a little hard for me to get past the 'neck bones' texture
- BBQ Sirloin Steak (Brigarrade, Paris) favorite!
- Bo Saam (David Chang, Momofuku, NY)
- Chicken Casseroles with Tapioca (Le Comptoir Du Relais, Paris)
- Fried Corn with Scallops (Sean Rembold, Diner, Brooklyn)
- Lemongrass Pork Ribs (Ze Kitchen Gallerie, Paris)
- a delicious cheese selection & breads from Balthazar

...all with Veuve Clicquot Champagne!

For dessert? The most delicious ice cream I've had in a while! Bourbon Vanilla Bean and Salted Hazelnut from Greene Ice Cream in Brooklyn... I of course, had to try both! :-)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Candied Bacon :: Balsamic Glazed Figs w/Pancetta & Mascarpone

It's almost October and figs are popping up everywhere! My wonderfully crafty friend at Bread & Posies even gave me a freshly preserved jar of fig jam this week!

Figs are delicious sliced and served fresh on a cheese plate (especially when paired with Manchego!) or cooked atop sweet desserts. But I had never used them for savoury dishes before.  Well, I was out to dinner the other night and had the most delicious dish: thick slices of sweet bacon, topped with roasted figs, and a dollop of mascarpone all in a balsamic reduction. Perfectly salty, and sweet!

So last night, with A.'s brother in town, I set out to recreate it. They happily served as the test audience for my little experiment. I used pancetta instead of bacon (honestly: only because I like the round shape more, so feel free to substitute!). I sauteed the figs in a balsamic reduction sweetened with honey, and topped it all off with Mascarpone.

...From the lack of leftovers on their plates, I think I can say it was a success! :-)


Small box of figs (allow about 4 figs person), halved
Pancetta (2 slices per person
Olive oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Brown Sugar
Salt & Pepper to taste

Dust the pancetta with a bit of brown sugar and cook in a non-stick skillet over high heat. Allow the pancetta to cook thoroughly and start to crisp. When ready, remove the pancetta from the pan and lay on a plate lined with a paper towel/napkin to dry the oil.

Remove most of the leftover pancetta oil from the skillet, and in the same pan add the figs with the balsamic vinegar (2 tbsp per person). and the honey (1 tbsp per person). The balsamic will quickly start to thicken. Continue saute to prevent burning. Add salt and pepper to taste. When the liquids reduce to about half, remove from heat.

Now you're ready to plate! On each plate lay 2 slices of the pancetta. On top of the pancetta layer the figs and the reduction (divide equally between plates). Top with a dollop of mascarpone and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy Autumn :: Brown Butter Roasted Squash Soup

Yay, today is the first day of Autumn! ... Isn't Fall the most perfect season?

I've been so excited for the season change, that the last few days I've been researching everything "Fall" related! ... Sweet potato pie recipes, apple picking orchards around NY, and even tartan blankets! ... Imagine lazy weekend picnics in the park atop a cozy tartan blanket.

Tartan's are the scottish version of plaids which are woven in unique patterns to represent the various family clans of each region. These blankets always make me think of the latter half of the year, so I couldn't wait to get one! A. was rooting for the red Wallace clan tartan (don't ask... something about the movie Braveheart). But after much deliberation I chose this the navy and green Forbes tartan! It's coming direct to NYC via Royal Post... doesn't it sound fancy? If our mail system were called Royal Post I think I'd ship things more often! :-)

So, with my tartan blanket in the mail, I'm now officially ready for fall!

Fall also means it's time to transition from fresh tomato pastas, watermelon salads, and cold gazpachos to foods more fitting of autumn. Like Squash! So tonight, I made a savoury roasted butternut and acorn squash soup with browned butter and nutty spices.

1 large butternut squash, halved and seeded
1 large acorn squash, halved and seeded (note: you can use one kind of squash if that's what you find)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 tablespoon Pumpkin Spice Seasoning (if you can't find pumpkin pie spice, add equal parts ground nutmeg, cloves, and allspice)
olive oil
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375F. Place the squash halves on a cookie sheet and brush the tops with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Cook for 30 minutes. (You can do this step a day ahead of time and store the roasted squash in the fridge). Allow the squash to cool and cut into 1-2" squares, carefully removing the skin.

Over high heat, in a large stock pot add the butter. Allow the butter to lightly brown, but be carefully not to burn. Think of a light caramel color. When the color is right, add the onions. Stir frequently and allow the onion to cook until they become clear. Add the squash and continue to stir. Allow the squash and onion to cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the stock and seasoning, and taste for salt and pepper. Depending on the saltiness of your stock you may need to add more. Let it come to a rolling boil and continue to simmer for another 20 minutes covered over medium-low heat. Remove from heat.

With an immersion blender or food processor, blend the soup until smooth.

Serve, and enjoy!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Afternoon Tea :: Lemon Zest Scones

As promised, my British obsession continues! :-)  We finally went to Tea & Sympathy for breakfast! I had English Breakfast tea and Welsh rabbit.  I will admit that up until yesterday I thought Welsh Rabbit was just that: rabbit.  Who knew it was a delicious breakfast toast topped with a spread of sharp cheese, mustard, cream, and eggs.  Yum!  

I picked up a few ingredients at their to-go store, and got home with a jar of clotted cream, strawberry preserves, and ready to make scones!  Scones are a British (or Scottish) quickbread traditionally served with breakfast or tea.  There are endless sweet and savory variations, but I love them with plenty of cream and a dollop of strawberry jam.

* If you can't find clotted cream, here's a recipe or order some here... much easier! :-)

BASIC SCONES (adapted from Tea & Sympathy)
2 cups All Purpose Flour, sifted
1 tablespoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup whole milk, cold 

Preheat oven to 375F.  Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Slowly add the milk and knead the dough with your hands.  Be careful not to overmix or the scones will come out hard.  Mix until all ingredients are combined, and that's it.

With your hands spread the dough on a floured surface to be 1" thick.  With a cookie cutter (1.5" inch for mini scones, 2" for regular size) cut the dough.  As you are cutting the dough, twist the cutter to prevent sticking.

Place the scones on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes.  When the scones are cool, cut in half and smear with clotted cream, jam, and serve! 

My favorite!!! Same as above but decrease milk to 1 cup and add the zest and juice of one lemon to the dry ingredients.

Same as basic scone recipe, but add 1/3 cup of raisins to dry ingredients.

You can freeze the scone dough and have it in the freezer ready for your next craving!  Place cut out scones (un-baked) on a cookie sheet and in the freezer for 1 hour.  The scones will harden and will be ready to be popped in freezer bags. 

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I ♥ Britain :: Minced Lamb Shepard's Pie

Summer is officially over and today was a sunny, and crisp autumn day here in NYC.  I woke up excited to wear my new schoolboy blazer (which has already become my fall uniform!), had breakfast coffee with A. , and we went on a quick trip to the farmer's market.  I then went to the West Village Library (how fitting with my new blazer!) and took a pile of books to a sunny table at Out of the Kitchen.  We drank cappuccinos as I skimmed through my new finds... a perfect afternoon!

Yes, I am now the proud owner of a New York Library card!  It's pretty amazing... I had forgotten about the wonders of a library.  I got my card and went straight to the "640 section - Cookbooks" and started choosing.  I got three books and went to checkout... it's been such a long time since I've been in a library that I took out my wallet as the librarian scanned my books... then I remembered: it's free!  I'll be coming back very often.  :-)

My first choice was "Tea & Sympathy", the story and cookbook behind the famous West Village tea shop.  I so enjoyed the book, that I finished it today.  

Well, inspired and craving British grub... we cooked Minced Lamb Shepard's Pie based on the Tea & Sympathy recipe of this British favorite.  We replaced the ground beef with minced lamb, and I seasoned the lamb with my usual lamb seasoning mix (I think lamb always needs to be seasoned before cooking).  A. also had the idea to leave the skin on the potatoes for the mash... and it was a great addition.  

Who ever said British food was boring and bland was obviously trying to keep all the Shepard's pie to himself!  My next British endeavor: scones!


MINCED LAMB SHEPARD'S PIE (adapted from Tea & Sympathy)
1 lb lamb meat, minced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Dash of cumin
1 tsp white vinegar
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 tbsp Worcester Sauce
1 large tomato (or 2 medium tomatoes)
1 cup beef stock (if you are not making your own, I prefer an organic version like Pacific brand)
3 bay leaves 
3 carrots, cooked and chopped
1 1/2 cups of cooked green peas
Extra-sharp Vermont cheddar, shredded

For the mashed potatoes:
3 lbs Idaho potatoes
1/2 stick of butter
3/4 cups of milk
salt and pepper to taste

Season the minced lamb meat (or ground meat) with the garlic, vinegar, lime juice, and a dash of salt, pepper, and cumin.  In a large saute pan over high heat, cook the chopped onion until they become clear.  Add the seasoned lamb meat to the pan and brown.  Add the tomato juice, beef stock, Worcester sauce, and bay leaves.  Continue to cook over medium heat for 30 minutes.  The liquids should reduce to 1/3 of their original state.

Prepare the mashed potatoes by boiling the potatoes in large wedges until soft.  When cooked, strain the potatoes (you can leave the skins on, or at this point you can easily remove... we left the skins on and it resulted in great texture!)and in a large bowl combine them with the butter, milk, salt and pepper.  By hand or with a hand mixer, bring the potatoes to a smooth consistency.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Quickly cook the peas and carrots in boiling water or a steamer.  Do not overcook.  You want them al-dente.  Remove from the water and place in a bowl of ice water to prevent them from losing their color.

Preheat the oven to 350F.  When you are ready to assemble your pie, combine the peas and carrots with the lamb. In ramekins, or a large oven dish layer the lamb and vegetables first to about half way of your container, then layer an equally thick serving of the mashed potatoes.  Top with the shredded cheese.

Cook for 25 minutes.  Afterwards, place the oven on broil in order for the cheese to brown for a couple of minutes.

Allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes.  You can serve with a side salad and simple vinaigrette.

PS: Since it was just the 2 of us for dinner tonight I made small loaf pans of the Shepard's pies to freeze.  Cover with wax paper and a rubber band, and place in a Ziploc freezer bag, and simply reheat in the oven when you are ready for seconds. :-)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Midnight Craving :: Magnolia's Key Lime Cheesecake

Whenever I tell anybody outside of NY we live in the West Village,  the first thing that comes up is: Magnolia Bakery.  

ME:  "We live downtown, on the west side... the west village"

FRIEND NOT IN NYC: "...of course! right next to Magnolia? You must eat cupcakes every night!"

Well, I'll be honest... I'm not a huge cupcake fan.  :-(  Birthday cake: yes, but cupcakes: not so much.  Secondly, if you ask most New Yorkers, and most West Village-ites for that matter, they'll tell you there are better place in NYC to go for a good cupcake.   For example: Sugar Sweet Sunshine (plus they deliver!).  Yes, it's true... a lot of West Villagers Magnolia neighbors get their cupcakes from the Lower East Side.

But there are a couple of things worth waiting in line at Magnolia.  Oh and yes, I have even waited in line in the rain. 

One being their banana pudding... yummy goodness all in a to-go container.  

But my favorite? Magnolia's Key Lime Cheesecake!!!  

There are no words to describe the creamy, whipped topping, and the tangy key lime curd, all on a thin, buttery graham cracker crust! ...well I guess those are a few words.  :-) But, plain and simple: it's delicious.  

So that's what I'm planning on doing on my way home tomorrow: waiting in line! :-)

PS: In one of my favorite NYC moments, last summer we came across two small boys who had set up shop outside Magnolia selling funfetti cupcakes for $1 right next to the long line of cupcake-obsessed tourists.  Funfetti cupcakes? Genius, that's something I'll stand in line for! 
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