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What to buy in case of a hurricane:

  • Water
  • Wine
  • Nutella
  • Popcorn
  • Truffle oil

Now, I know what you may be thinking.  “Oh gracious one, you forgot the dark chocolate!”  Why, yes I did.  That’s on the list for the next storm.

I look at it this way:  If the end of the world is coming, I will forgo unappetizing canned food in favor of yummy treats.  So, as storm-mageddon approached this weekend, I gave serious thought to what I would want to eat if the lights went out.

I thought back to a couple of months ago, when I met a friend for a post-work outing at the Museum of Modern Art, on 53rd Street in midtown Manhattan. After checking out the art, we made our way to The Modern, the restaurant next to the museum for a bite to eat and some wine.

What happened next blew my mind.

The bartender put a small bowl of popcorn in front of us.  “That’s the last of it, so take your time with it.”  The heavenly scent of truffles wafted through the air.

I was in love.  We devoured it.

Periodically, my mind wanders back to that bowl of truffle popcorn.  I challenged myself to make it at home for provisions.  So I did.

Now, you can microwave bagged popcorn and then add truffle oil to the finished product, but I’ve learned that making popcorn the old-fashioned way is so simple.

You just need a few ingredients:  popcorn (for one serving, I measure just under 1/4 cup, but you can increase the portion accordingly), olive oil (or truffle oil), sea salt and truffle butter.   I’m using white truffle oil and black truffle butter because that’s what I had on hand, but use whatever you’d like.

Pour about a teaspoon of oil into a pot and add about four kernels of popcorn.

With the burner on medium heat, cover the pot.

Meanwhile, put a teaspoon or two of the truffle butter into a bowl.

Melt the truffle butter.  I microwaved it for about 20 seconds.  Then add coarse sea salt to taste.  Initially I had challenges with getting the salt to stick to the popcorn when I added it directly the the popped kernels at the end, but I find that adding it to the butter works very well.  If you have truffle salt, by all means feel free to use that.  But now you’re just showing off.

Once you hear the kernels pop after a few minutes, the oil is hot enough, so uncover and take the pot off the burner and add in the rest of the kernels.  Cover the pot again.  Shake it so the oil gets distributed among all of the kernels.  Then, reminiscent of Jiffy Pop popcorn-making from our youth (well, some of us, at least), shake the pot over the burner as the kernels begin to pop.  This keeps everything moving so nothing stays long enough at the bottom to burn.

Once the popping has slowed to few seconds in between each pop, take it off the heat.  Wait a few seconds for the popping to stop completely, then uncover.

Pour the melted truffle butter over the warm popcorn.

Then enjoy the goodness.

And that, my friends, is how you ride out the hurricane.  If the popcorn lasts that long.

The plan today was to hang out in the air conditioning, read a book on the couch and catch up on the DVR.

But there was a food festival that lured me outdoors.

Normally picky about where I eat, I wouldn’t have gone near a food truck for a meal a few years ago.  Somehow a handful of food trucks have brought me over to the parked side.

With over 30 vendors at the festival, I definitely needed to pace myself, but I managed to indulge in some of my favorite food in New York City, from a truck or otherwise.

I started with Taim, the mobile outpost of the diminutive West Village eatery.

They make the tastiest falafel I’ve ever eaten.  Perfectly crispy, yet still tender and herbaceous inside, the falafel balls are accompanied by a cucumber tomato salad, pickled cabbage, hummus and tahini sauce.  Happiness in a pita.

The Strawberry-Raspberry-Thai Basil Smoothie isn’t bad either.  It was perfectly refreshing on this hot summer day.

Moving on to the line next door, Mexicue offered a delicious selection of tacos and sliders that marry two popular styles of cuisine:  Mexican food and barbeque.

Yes, please.

The special Elote taco – filled with roasted corn goodness that epitomizes summer – and the BBQ brisket slider made leaving my air conditioned apartment worth it.  Worth it twenty times over.

The Red Hook Lobster Pound offers classic seafood conjuring up warm beach days, even when you are stuck in the asphalt jungle.

The Connecticut style lobster roll, served warm with butter(!), is the order of today.

My stomach couldn’t take much more, but I had to save a little room for dessert.  The Coolhaus ice cream truck sent me to the edge of nirvana.

First you choose your cookie, then pair it with the ice cream of your choosing.

I chose the Maple Waffle White Chocolate Cookie and the Brown Butter with Candied Bacon Ice Cream.  Heaven.

Lucky for me, I ran into my friends Judy and Peter, who are fellow food lovers.  He chose the classic Chocolate Chip Cookie with Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream; she had the Maple Waffle White Chocolate with the decadent Pistachio Truffle.

And now, I’m off to take a nap.

To find out where you can experience any of the delectable treats above, follow the vendors on Twitter for current locations:

Taim:  @TaimMobile

Mexicue: @Mexicue

Red Hook Lobster: @lobstertruckny

Coolhaus: @CoolHausNY

A fistful of spinach, a couple of leaves of kale, a carrot, an apple, a half a lemon and a splash of coconut water make their way into a blender.

It sounds like a setup to a really bad joke.  Or at least something that will taste simply awful.

But it’s delicious.

Green smoothies are a great, clean way to start the day.  Up to five servings of veggies and fruits are power packed into one drink.  A smoothie is also a good end to the day when making dinner just seems too much of a burden or when you need to clean out the fridge before the produce takes a turn for the worse.

This is the favorite Goodness combo, but feel free to experiment with different greens, or even herbs.  An apple or a pear cuts through the grassiness of the greens and adds a bit of sweetness; lemon juice provides just the right tangy balance.  Try a little fresh ginger to add a hint of spiciness.  With a high-speed blender such as a Vita-Mix, the produce will be liquefied without much liquid, but if you are using a regular blender, then a cup or two of water or coconut water will do the trick.

Don’t be green with envy – just make one.   And enjoy!

Breakfast for dinner may be one of the most underrated comforts around.

Breakfast for dessert may be even better.

When you venture down to Clinton St. Baking Company & Restaurant, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, you will almost assuredly find a long line and waiting time on the weekends during brunch hours.  And later for dinner.  But, it is unquestionably worth the wait.

First up for dinner were the fried green tomatoes:  perfectly fried and textured – crispy on the outside with a tangy creaminess inside.

Spicy shrimp over cheese grits was smothered in a creamy creole sauce.  Oh, and it came with more fried green tomatoes.  ‘Cause that’s how we roll here on the edge of goodness.

Crab cakes channel the classic Maryland recipe and come paired with sweet potato fries and coleslaw.  (Excuse the overexposed photo.  We were anxious to eat!)

February was Pancake Month at the Clinton St. Baking Company, and with it comes special concoctions all month long.  These are topped with poached pears, vanilla bean whipped cream and maple butter.  Heaven.

Finally, the famous wild Maine blueberry pancakes.  Lighter, airer and fluffier than your down comforter.  You’ll slather them in the accompanying warm maple butter, and you will wish you could bathe in it every night.

Or, you could just go to the restaurant and order up some.  Breakfast for dessert…try it sometime.  For goodness’ sakes.

Clinton Street Baking Company & Restaurant, 4 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

Welcome to the frozen tundra.

The first month of the New Year has been a challenging one in the Big Apple.  Let me declare how challenging it is to strut through the city streets feeling sassy and cute when you are outfitted in clunky Ugg boots and a trapper hat, while you are braving gigantic puddles of dirty semi-melted slush.  Every day.  But, you do what you gotta do when the thermometer reads 6 degrees.

I heard on the news last night that the normal amount of snow for New York City in the winter is 21 inches.  We’ve gotten 56 inches so far.

And winter is only a month old.

As I said, it’s been challenging.

So, I’ve been feeling nostalgic for spring, for daylight, for cool breezes that hold the promise of warm air on my skin.  Serendipitously, and surprisingly, I found that feeling in a candy bar.

The Amalfi Bar from Vosges Haut Chocolat – an innovative company that pairs chocolate with unique flavors such as curry, balsamic vinegar and bacon – evokes springtime, in all of its luscious creaminess.  Imagine white chocolate infused with the bright and slightly tart flavor of lemon zest.  Lest you think this sounds too sweet, the crunchiness of pink peppercorn lends a spiciness that keeps the bar from ever being cloying.

It’s sunshine in a candy bar.

More snow is expected tomorrow.  And a few days after that.  And perhaps a few days after that.

Clearly, I’m going to need to order a case of these.

Vosges Haut Chocolat: www.vosgeschocolate.com.

Whoever first thought to freeze leftover ripe bananas was a genius.  Just wait until bananas have lots of dark brown speckles, remove from the skins, put in a plastic bag and freeze.  Once frozen, they will elevate any blended drink.  Brilliant.

I love to begin the day with a smoothie – my way to kick off the day in a healthy way –  and using a frozen banana adds a creamy thickness that an ice cube won’t give.

Based on the Banana Nut Shake I have occasionally at One Lucky Duck Takeaway, the take-out offshoot of Pure Food and Wine, a popular raw food restaurant in New York City, I sometimes make this first thing in the morning.  It’s like starting the day with a banana milkshake.

In a blender add about 1 cup of almond milk (soy or regular milk can be used if you prefer), 1-2 frozen bananas, a dash of cinnamon and a splash of vanilla extract. Blend until smooth.  Enjoy!

For more information on One Lucky Duck Takeaway, visit http://www.oneluckyduck.com/takeaway/.

Whenever I’m in Chicago, which sadly isn’t very often, I always visit The Original Pancake House for breakfast.  It’s a chain of restaurants throughout the US – in 26 states – that I’d never heard of until a friend suggested I go there when I was in the Windy City on business.

My favorite thing to order is the house specialty, the oven-baked Apple Pancake.  It is monstrous in size.  And yummy in taste.

Wanting to enjoy an apple pancake at home, I set out to find a recipe that would satisfy a craving even when a Chicago-bound trip wasn’t around the bend. I scoured the internet, combined a couple recipes, added a few tweaks and came up with a final product that makes me happy. It’s a bit more eggy and a little less sweet than the Original Pancake House’s is, but I like it that way.  Sometimes called a “Dutch Baby Pancake” or a “German Apple Pancake”, I just call it delicious.

Baked Apple Pancake (Adapted from allrecipes.com)

Batter

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup milk (soy or almond milk can be substituted)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (I sometimes use Earth Balance vegan spread)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Apple Mixture of Goodness

  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, or more if needed (Earth Balance works here too)
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 4 apples – peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, blend eggs, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Gradually mix in milk, stirring constantly. Add vanilla, melted butter and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg. Let batter stand for 30 minutes to overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Saute apples in a teaspoon of butter (or more, if the pan is looking a little dry) until just tender, with a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar to taste, if desired. (You can also saute the apples up to a day ahead, refrigerating them and the batter separately, and complete the rest of the steps just before baking.)
  4. Grease a baking dish or oven proof skillet (about 10 inches or so) with the tablespoon of butter, evenly covering all the way up the sides of the pan. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg. Sprinkle mixture in the dish over the butter. (You may not need to use all of the mixture; if that’s the case, just set aside for another time.)
  5. Line the pan with apple slices. Sprinkle remaining sugar over apples.  Gently pour the batter mixture over the apples.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 25-30 minutes (time may vary with each oven), or until golden brown.  Let cool for 5-10 minutes.  Cut pancake into wedges and enjoy!

For more information on The Original Pancake House, visit http://www.originalpancakehouse.com/.

I’m proud of the fact that I have few vices in life.  The ones that I do have though, I am utterly addicted to.

Microwave popocorn is one of those things.  Specifically, Pop’s Corn or Newman’s Own Organics Light Butter Popcorn.  I crave it – thoroughly, completely, deeply.  The pop, pop, pop sound means that happy time is on its way.

Popocorn, especially microwave popcorn, is a tricky thing to get right.  Most brands are too salty, too artificial tasting, too greasy.  Newman’s Own Organics gets it just right.  And with 4 grams of fiber per serving, it’s actually good for you.  Well, maybe having a bag for dinner isn’t so good, as I’ve been known to do more times that I care to admit.  But it is good for the soul.  At least it is for mine.


Because it’s so much better than the stuff you get in the movie theater, I’ve on occasion smuggled a bag in on a movie night.

But let’s keep that between us.  🙂

www.newmansownorganics.com

If crack was cookies, it would look like this.

The first one starts off innocently enough.

“It’s good,” is usually the non-committal reaction when I’ve coerced someone into trying one.  If I’m feeling particularly devilish – or gracious – I’ll convince them to have another.  This is usually when the fun starts and the addiction begins to kick in.

“Hmmm…I think I’ll have one more…”

Uh-huh.  Before you know it, an entire sleeve is gone, and the words “I can stop anytime I want…” are uttered.

Not that I’ve ever said that or anything…

But who cares anyway?  They’ve got ORGANIC ingredients, after all, coming together to make a cleaner version of the cookie we loved as kids.  We’re saving the planet here, people.

Newman-O’s.  I dare you to just have one.

http://www.newmansownorganics.com/food_newman-os.html#

A hard day’s work and a chilly winter night bring a craving for something comforting.  In this case comfort came calling in the form of pizza.  Goodness, Grace and a couple of guest team members – friends Ariel and Judy of the blog JudyLiCious – trekked down to the West Village for a cozy night at the popular pizzeria Keste Pizza & Vino.

We arrived cold, hungry and ready to feast!  The Fresca Insalate kicked off our evening, a beautiful arugula salad perfectly balanced with grape tomatoes, parmesan shavings and balsamic vinegar.

Keste bills itself as an authentic Neapolitan pizzeria (Naples is the birthplace of pizza), so we rolled up our sleeves and dug into a trio of pies.

Margherita:  A taste of pizza perfection.  Fresh mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce and basil lay on top of expertly cooked pillows of dough.

Funghi: A variation on the margherita, with fresh mushrooms added.

Pizza del Pappa: The combination of a unique butternut squash cream, tangy artichokes and sweet peppers all artfully melded together with smoked mozzarella. Heavenly.

The ideal way to end such a perfect comfort meal?  Nutella pizza.  It doesn’t get better than that, people.

Looking for dough-y comfort?  Get yourself to Keste.  Now.  It’s goodness at its yummiest!!

(Photographs courtesy of JudyLiCious.com)

Keste Pizza & Vino
271 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10014
http://www.kestepizzeria.com.

Okay.

I only meant to have one spoonful.  Cross my heart.

It didn’t really work out that way, though.

Nutella joy – brought on by the chocolate-hazelnut paste created by Italian geniuses – is unlike any other kind.  It’s pure pleasure, the essence of the goodness in life.  My friend Deb gave me my first jar years ago after I’d stayed with her one weekend.  I didn’t open it right away; for some reason, I felt unsure about trying it.  When I did, I dipped a tentative pinkie into the pool of chocolate.

It was love at first taste.  The pinkie dip turned into two-fingered spoonfuls, as I ate the paste with unabashed abandon.

I’d found a new love.

Since that fateful day, I’ve had Nutella in many ways: in crepes, in fried ravioli, in a calzone.  But my favorite way to indulge is in its purest form, by the spoonful.

So what if I ate half the jar?  My belly is joyful.

Check it out for yourself:  www.nutellausa.com

I love napoleons. Vastly underrated, woefully overlooked thanks to the éclair, cannoli and the tart, the napoleon is a perfect blend of creamy and crunch, savory and sweet.

They are clouds of pastry yumminess.

They are also my unrequited love.  A good one is devastatingly hard to find. This being New York City, you’d think you’d find perfection on every corner.

Not so much. Ironically, every one I try gets compared to the napoleons of my youth, plucked from the bakery at Von’s, a supermarket in the decidedly un-gourmet town of Reseda, California.

The store’s deli also made a mean three-bean salad…but I digress.

The Von’s napoleon was perfectly iced with a white glaze finely drizzled with a hint of chocolate. The sheets of crunchy pastry were layered between pockets of pastry cream that were lightly kissed with vanilla. It was a six-inch rectangle of rapturous bliss, quickly becoming a decadent teenage comfort food. My mother, God bless her, indulged me whenever I asked for one, though she was trying to stretch every dollar to be able to make her own magic in the kitchen.

Years later when I moved to New York, I thought recapturing that memory would be easy. I mean, New York is the food capital of the US. I searched high and low, but found sad attempts designed to improve upon a French classic. Laced with lemon. Nope. Filled with whipped cream. Uh uh. Raspberry puree on top of the pastry cream. Why is that there??

I’d lost all hope until the day I decided to venture up to the second floor of Citarella on 74th and Broadway. I spotted a couple of the familiar pastries in the bakery case. Having been disappointed numerous times before, I was skeptical.

Are they any good? I asked the woman behind the counter.

The best! she replied.

I don’t know, I’ve had lots of bad ones.

Trust me, she said, these are excellent. Just like they make in France.

I was dubious, but decided to try one. I needed to know what the real thing tasted like. I’d only known Reseda.

Victory!!!  Who knew that Reseda had perfectly replicated a French classic? Citarella’s napoleon was blissful and divine perfection; one bite reunited me with my luxurious adolescent treat. The mix of creamy and crunchy textures made me so happy.  No, no, no; not happy.  Rapturous.  It was pure heaven.

Food rapture is a beautiful thing.

It’s time to celebrate!

I’ve been looking for some inspiration.  Overwhelmed by the madness of each day,  I’m longing to look at life through a joyful lens.  Goodness is in every aspect of life, but we often overlook it in the midst ordinary chaos and craziness.  Or at least I do.

Goodness, Grace and Grub is my attempt to embrace the pleasure that lurks everywhere.  It’s my own personal intervention to move away from the mundane and the inane and towards simple pleasures.  It’s time to pay attention.

In this blog, I hope to share the products and other items that bring me joy (goodness); the intangibles, both small and large, that offer pleasure and awe in the everyday (grace), and the food stuff that transports to the island of hedonism (grub).  I promise to write an inordinate amount about  food – my greatest love.

Since I write this on Thanksgiving evening, I think a great start is to share what I am thankful for this year:

  • I am thankful for my family, who have taught me more about courage and love in the past year than I ever thought was possible.
  • I am thankful for my nephew, who demonstrates the joy of laughter and pure fun without even trying.
  • I am thankful to have reconnected with childhood friends this year that I thought about often, but never thought I’d see again.
  • I am thankful to live in a country where anything is possible.
  • I am thankful for bacon.  And for its distant cousin, chorizo, that elevated my cornbread stuffing to new heights tonight.

I hope you will share the things that make you happy, too.  Goodness is a two-way street.

Join me in saying yes to life!

xo, with Goodness and Grace

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