Wednesday, June 30, 2010
A special gentleman in my life (Hi, Kevin!) brought me the above lemon and lavender biscotti, homemade by one talented NYC-based biscotti-baker named Carl.
Here's what was in my secret heart of hearts when I received this gift: up until that moment, I'd never been terribly fond of biscotti. I thought of it as an assortment of rock-hard pieces of something sort of like stale bread with a little flavor glaze painted on them. Snacks that have to be dipped in coffee in order to be soft enough to chew are no snacks I want to eat. I rarely gave biscotti a chance.
HOWEVER!!!! I trust Kevin. And I could tell right away that Carl's biscotti is different. Honestly, I could. I accepted it without reservations. It didn't feel heavy or stale. It smelled delicate.
Then, when I tasted it?
Why, Mr. Carl, I had no idea!
When I bit into my sample of biscotti, it gave way easily, revealing a tender crumb and sort of buttery sweetness -- but it wasn't too sweet or glazey. As a matter of fact, it was the texture I'd always wished biscotti could be.
Turns out, biscotti can be that texture. It can be, says Carl.
Kevin informed me that Carl makes a few flavors of biscotti. There's a white chocolate lavender during the winter holiday season. That's a good gift idea, no? Cranberry walnut and lemon pistachio can also be had.
If you'd like to inquire about purchasing a batch of Carl's biscotti, email carlmschweitzer (at) gmail.
I attended Steph's luau-themed bridal shower last weekend, out on Long Island. Steph's mom is a Snackreligious-approved hostess, by virtue of the event's charming backyard setting and resplendent repast (not to mention the tiki napkins).
I never turn down an ice cream sundae bar. I even requested (and was granted) a brownie sundae bar for my own wedding shower, back in 2001. This one was primo, with two types of ice cream and many toppings available, including fresh and maraschino cherries, marshmallows, sprinkles, chocolate chips, gummy worms, and more.
Thanks, Mrs. Steph's Mom!
p.s. I know her name. ;)
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Trying to get a photo of a Whole Foods "Natural Mississippi Mud Bar" was something like me trying to photograph a black hole (I imagine). I just don't have the right equipment to show what the thing really looks like. It's dark, deep, fudgy, chocolate, black, craggy, and splitting across the top. "Deep, fudgy, [and] chocolate" is also what it tastes like.
Mom used to make Mississippi Mud Cake for my birthdays, but this isn't quite like those cakes. Her cake had a layer of marshmallow cream, which this bar lacks. If you're used to a coffee element to your "Mississippi Mud," neither this bar nor my mom's cakes (incidentally) contain that flavor, either. The Whole Foods bar version is straight-up chocolate; it's more like a brownie than a cake. The thing is rich and soft to the nth degree.
Would I eat another? Oh, my, yes. This is everything I want when I want a deeply chocolate dessert. It's Next Level, as far as Whole Foods desserts are concerned.
p.s. I've lived on the Mississippi and even been swimming in it, so I happen to know that the mud at the bottom of that river can be pretty gross. I much prefer it rendered in chocolate.
Halloo! I have eaten all of my week one produce and most of week two's. Let's discuss.
Week One Wrap-Up
These are recipes made with items from week one's share that were made and/or eaten during week two. Though they "belong" in week one, they weren't completely blogged about in that week's post.
1. Grilled Garlic Scapes
Source: The blog A Cooking Life
Notes: I cut the scapes in halves or thirds, depending on length (after cutting off the flower end, as suggested in the recipe), tossed them in olive oil, salt, and a favorite pepper blend, then grilled them on my stovetop grill pan. They softened up and became pleasantly chewy and mild, like garlicky grilled asparagus. If you try this recipe, let them cook for quite a while. More black grill marks = more tender and more flavor.
2. Pickled Radish Leaves
Source: Japanese Country Cookbook, by Russ Rudsinski, via Chowhound.
Notes: These were odd. They didn't taste like much, even after several days soaking in the "pickling" mixture. Not bad, by any means, but not really worth doing, either. Please pardon the phone photo. My camera batteries ran dry, and I wanted to get this post up.
And now, on to the main event:
Week Two's Produce
3 Garlic with stalks
4 Bok Choy
1 lb. mixed kale/chard/collards (this should have been a 1/2 lb. I made an error in distribution!)
Recipes Made - Week Two
1. Dan's Famous Mexican Salad (x2!)
Source: Dan's brain.
Notes: On two nights in a row (the second because we were going to another house to eat dinner with 4 friends), Dan made a salad of CSA lettuce, onion, radishes, radish greens, avocado, black olives (the second of the two nights; they were a good addition), and croutons. What really made this salad memorable was the dressing he made of canned chipotle chiles blended with avocado, lime juice, olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper. It had a strong, smoky heat. I rarely eat spicy tossed salads, but this turned out to be a great idea -- so great we ate it twice.
2. Sauteed Bok Choy With Garlic and Onion
Source: I found a recipe for stir-fried baby bok choy on the internet, here, and adapted it.
Notes: I don't know if the bok choy I had qualified as "baby bok choy," but it was small. I sauteed it rather than stir frying, and added CSA garlic and onion. It was slightly too salty, and a little soupy (because I didn't measure my chicken stock), but it was good. I'd make it again, with a tad less soy sauce. I garnished the dish with sliced onion stalk.
3. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Tomato, Onion, and Prosciutto
Source: Dan's brain
Notes: The onion on these sandwiches was CSA onion -- sweet and crunchy. We ate them with grilled garlic scapes.
Items Remaining at the end of Week One
- 3 heads of garlic, with stalks
- mixed kale, chard, and collard greens
- a few radishes
Planned Recipe(s) for Remaining Items
1. Mixed Greens and Eggs
2. Raw Salad with Kale and Collards
3. Anything with garlic!
4. Radishes...? I'm not sure.
4. Radishes...? I'm not sure.
Final Thoughts on Week Two
I didn't manage to get everything in the share eaten during week two, and what I did eat only made 4 dishes, but I still consider this week a success. We fed 8 adults with our two Mexican salads, and 4 of us tried the bok choy dish. Nothing went bad, so I'll eat the rest of the greens and garlic soon, with the produce from week three (which I picked up today). What's your favorite way to eat mixed greens? Radishes?
Fruit starts in week three! Stay tuned.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Here's something I desperately need to try: Chocolate Cheerios. I had no idea they existed until I spotted this box at a bodega in the middle of a bachelorette party (while some friends used an ATM). If we hadn't been on our way to a fancy restaurant, I would have bought a box and carried it around with me for the rest of the night.
Update coming soon.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Monday evening, a small group of PopLab (see here) participants had a picnic and talk in Washington Square Park. We found an accessible place to circle our wagons, then dropped a lot of food inside the circle.
Several people had made dishes using CSA bounty. Prinny cooked up bok choy with garlic; Kelly made a salad. I had nothing to share, but I still felt welcome. Even our conversation was sometimes delicious, as I'd hoped.
Sandals from Payless.
p.s. These were good.
Okay, so the photos are underwhelming (I'm talking about my photography here, not the subject matter). I optimized as best I could without having to open Photoshop. People don't seem to light their houses for photo shoots. Weird.
If necessary, just take my word for it -- Isra's birthday party feast was marked by an outstanding snack buffet.
My favorite items were:
- radish and butter open-faced sandwiches (with good, fresh butter) -- I think I ate 6.
- strawberry and cream cheese open-faced sandwiches
- slices of prosciutto
- very spicy pickles (provenance unknown)
- perfectly ripe fruit slices, including peaches and plums
- Spanish almonds (which I thought tasted a bit like cashews)
- some kind of cheese that was incredible and unrecognizable (to me).
And, of course, the company was nice, too.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Juice box straw broke the camel's back.
We both say please. The shorter, cuter one wins.
She's sunny; I feel my own rumble.
Balled hands could bite the dirt in rage.
Shod feet remember how to stamp.
Someone over thirty is shouting in my head:
"I want juice, too!" She calls it, "Elmo,"
And isn't even three.
So that must be me.
Monday, June 21, 2010
These two dark chocolate bars (both with almond, made in France and Switzerland), were a gift from Nicole after a recent trip to France. I ate them before she got a chance to tell me how well they pair with red wine.
Almonds and chocolate work together so well. I really feel I can trust Lindt to do chocolate flavors beautifully, and this did not disappoint.
Miel means "honey," and the honey in the second bar gave it an edge, flavorwise. It's possible the chocolate quality here was not quite as fine as with the Lindt, but the almonds were well-dispersed and crackly.
Merci so much, Nicole.
Saturday's snacky Crest Fest lunch included a couple of empanadas.
Chimichurri and red pepper sauces enhanced the bites.
We got a glass of iced yerba maté tea, too. I was iffy about the flavor.
Nothing iffy in me regarding my corn empanada, though. Yes!
At Crest Fest on Saturday, Dan picked out a carob, banana, and peanut butter dessert onigiri to serve as part of our lunch. An onigiri is a Japanese rice ball (often triangular), wrapped in seaweed. They were being sold by Brooklyn Onigiri Company.
Skirt from ModCloth
I liked that it was wrapped in a banana leaf, but I don't agree with the Company founders when they say (on their website), "We try to re-package the traditional Japanese version usually not so attractive, and give it our own twist in terms of looks and flavor." I think that traditional Japanese onigiri are often quite lovely. For example, I enjoyed the aesthetics of the one I ate in Seattle.
This dessert onigiri was intriguing, but I would have loved even more filling. Wouldn't I always?
They're not all sweet. Next time, I want to try the one with bok choy and peanuts. Here's the menu:
Dan told me I shouldn't post this video unless I put music with it. But I don't have time, so nyah!
I think it's awesome that this hardware store in my neighborhood wants to support and display local artists. They hold an annual event that's part street festival and part gallery opening -- all centered in and around the Crest Hardware Store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Walking around the store, looking for artwork "hidden" among the merchandise (and often greatly resembling the merchandise), was like participating in a treasure hunt. Actually, there was a map to the artistic treasures, but it wasn't available yet when we stopped by on opening day. We spent an hour or more just wandering and trying to spot everything.
Read more about the Crest Fest here.
Dan's tool wallpaper.
Made of tires! What?!
In the garden at the hardware store.
Extended festivities on Saturday included food, crafts, face painting, other vendors, bands, and more!
I was glad to see that the major beneficiary of this event was The City Reliquary Museum, another local institution that's been in danger of going out of business for too long.
Expect details on lunch in my next post!