Friday, June 20, 2008

Iowa Snackshot: Bacon Jewelers

MMM... Bacon Jewelers

Perry, Iowa

Pork fat is forever.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hot Doug's – One of Chicago's Premier Fine Art Institutions

Hot Doug's

On a recent trip to Chicago, I had the opportunity to visit a museum a bit off the beaten track. In fact, most people have the misconception that Hot Doug's is an eatery of sorts, but it holds one of the finest collections of HotDog Art in the Nation.

Gothic Hot Dog

Frankfurter Gothic is the iconic American painting by Grant Food. It seems to depict the traditional gender roles of early American hot dog enthusiasts (men preferred their weenies with glasses, while women preferred theirs plain).

Dog of Man

Many will argue that Dog of Man by Rene MagrEat is one of the most famous surrealist weiner pieces. It is often thought that the modern businessman is the son of Adam, while the hot dog represents caloric temptation.

Hot Dog Art

Another MagrEat piece is The Seasoning of Images. Its famous inscription "Ceci n'est pas une hot-dog" (this is not a hot dog) is in fact not a contradiction. The painting is not a hot dog, but rather an image of a hot dog, which provokes a conversation on visual representation and food.

Chicago Dog

One of the most exciting pieces at the museum was one that I had never seen before: The Keira Knightley (formerly the Jennifer Garner and the Britney Spears). The red-hot combined with the onion and relish represents the combination of the masculine with the feminine. The sport peppers and tomatoes add a freshness to the piece that invokes the inevitability of aging. The dill pickle and celery salt represent the tangy, sour obstacles in life, while the mustard reminds us all of how expensive dry cleaning is. It truly was a masterpiece.

Inside Hot Doug's

Unfortunately, the museum's special exhibit of french fries fried in duck fat is only available on Fridays and Saturdays, but the usual exhibit of hand cut fries was a delight nonetheless. On any trip to Hot Doug's your eyeballs and tastebuds are guaranteed unparalleled cultural stimulation.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Happy National Donut Day!!!

Since there aren't any Stan Mikita Donut Shops in NY, I recommend Doughnut Plant in the LES and Peter Pan Bakery in Greenpoint. Also, Krispy Kreme is giving out free donuts today in celebration of this magical holiday.

So, go out and channel your inner Homer Simpson. Mmmmm... deep fried goodness...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

New York Snackshot: Kentucky Fried Guitars

Crunchy Fried Guitars

Boerum Hill, Brooklyn

Deep Fried Guitars. To put on your guitar hero.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

White Cheese Pizza with Ramps aka RAMPAGE!!!

It started as another spring day at the Prospect Park Greenmarket. The sun was out, the dogs were adorable, and the strollers were out in full force. All was right in the world. I just couldn't shake this weird feeling in my stomach, though. My legs started to shake. My hands started looking dry and scaly… and maybe a little green. There was an unmistakable odor of garlicky leeks in the air. No. It couldn't be. Not again.


OMGRAMPS!!!! (An abbreviation I also use when my grandpa tells a racy joke)

After punching a few buildings and eating some tourists, I ran home with my bounty. But what to do with these coveted veggies? A while back, I made an amazing leek and ricotta pizza with walnuts that I thought would be perfect for my precious ramps. Alas, my local cheesemonger was all out of ricotta. Then I remembered the old adage: Necessity breeds awesomeness.



Mozzerella Cheeeeeese


Ramp Pizza with Fresh Mozzerella

Yum. At the time, I really didn't see what all the crazy fuss about ramps was, but their flavor finds its way into your taste memory and stays. I'm pretty sure this will be the last thing I taste before I die, and that makes me very, very happy.

White Cheese Pizza with Ramps (based on the recipe from April's Food & Wine)

1/4 c. whole-wheat flour
3/4 c. all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling
1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. warm water

10 ramps (or scallions or spring onions)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
Water-packed fresh mozzarella, cut into thin 1/8 in. slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1) In a stand mixer with a dough hook, mix the flours, yeast, salt, and sugar. While the mixer is running, add the oil and water. Continue to knead on low speed until the dough is firm and smooth, about 10 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let stand in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

2) Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

3) Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Blanch the ramps until they are bright green, but still al dente, about 1 minute. They are going to smell insane. Drain, pat dry, and cut into 1-inch lengths.

4) Punch the dough (yes! violence!) and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out the dough until it is about a 10-12 inch shape. You can roll it into a round shape, but I prefer my pizza to be sort of oval or rectangular, like a flatbread. It's, um, rustic or something. Brush the dough with olive oil, and place the mozzarella slices in an even layer. Scatter the blanched ramps on top and season lightly with salt and pepper. Finish with the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

5) Bake on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper (or use a pizza stone if you have one) for about 8 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the crust is crisp and browned.

6) Stuff your face.

Monday, May 05, 2008


There are times when I need a break from my constant diet of pork fat and beer. Times when I think, maybe cookies are a sometimes food.

Usually, I wash my deep-fried oreos down with some soy milk and feel a little better about myself, but recently, I've been trying to incorporate some actual nutrients into my diet. I've long been curious about cooking with tempeh, and when I saw this recipe for Tempeh Rendang in the March issue of Cooking Light, I was downright intrigued.

I took a quick trip to the Bangkok Center Grocery on Mosco Street in Chinatown to pick up some fresh lemongrass, galangal, thai chiles, and kaffir lime leaves. If you've never been to this tiny store, I highly recommend it for fresh and packaged Thai ingredients. It is pretty small, but jam packed with food, just like me.

Now, this was my first time working with tempeh, so I wasn't really sure which one I should purchase. I thought tempeh was tempeh; I didn't realize there were so many different varieties out there. Being overwhelmed and slightly panicked that I was not fact in the comforting candy aisle, I grabbed the Garden Veggie variety and ran for my life, before the vegetarians in the aisle smelled the pork in my blood. Next time I make this recipe, I definitely will not use the veggie tempeh. The carrot and celery seed flavor was a bit too overwhelming for the curry. I recommend using plain ol' soy tempeh so the flavors don't compete.

This dish smells insane. Every single ingredient is fragrant on its own, but together they form Voltron in your nose. The coconut milk reduces, so you're left with more of a stir-fry than a stew. Add a little jasmine rice, some cilantro for garnish, and voila.

Tempeh Rendang

The one unexpected downside to tempeh is that it apparently makes me burp. A lot. Fermented soybean burps. I felt like Charlie in Willy Wonka after drinking Fizzy Lifting Drinks and having to release gas in order to prevent being chopped to little pieces (the fuel for so many of my nightmares as a wee krys).

Again, I won't use the garden veggie tempeh next time, but this was a very good basic rendang recipe. I would definitely try it with soy tempeh or maybe some chicken. Mmmm. The plus side is that after two hours of burping, you're ready for more delicious curry action.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I'm Back and I'm Here to Stay

The last few months have been a bit work-heavy to say the least. Months of spreadsheets, emails, and business trips have a way of making you forget that the computer can be your friend, and not just a conduit for frustration and a test of patience. While I still eat out (a lot), cook (a lot), and take pictures (not as often, but still, kinda a lot), I just haven’t had the desire to put words to my experiences.

Work has been taking a lot out of me. To make a long story short, my department is relocating to a different city, and I was offered a position there. My hard work was being recognized, and it was an opportunity that I should have seriously considered, especially in this shaky economy. I was being asked to either give up my job or give up my home. I really love my job. I truly do. I take pride in the feeling that I am making a difference in the work that I do, and a great deal of my self-worth is based on this sense of accomplishment.

I’m not ready to leave yet.

I love my Brooklyn kitchen.


I don’t think there is any color in the color spectrum that is more comforting than the maroon of my kitchen walls.

I love Chinatown. I love reading descriptions of dishes like “Shrimp in Pumping Sauce.”


I love that a liquor store can claim to be AS OLD AS HILLS.


I love that you can get your candy, and then eat it inside Fat Baby.


I love that no matter what my day is like, there is always something here that makes me smile.

So my last day at my company is a few months away. I have no idea what I’m going to do next, and that doesn’t freak me out. I’ll figure it out. I’m just happy that I’m staying in New York.