More Places to Eat Cake in New York

Best of New York: Birthday Cake Division

Soutine is the type of place that seems like the perfect idea in theory, but I have a feeling I would be totally overwhelmed if I were given total free reign over every aspect of my birthday cake. Still. The cakes look delicious.

In other news, I have to change the tagline of this blog. “Cooking healthy?” Yeah, right. Because my last three posts have definitely not been about cake, pie, and ice cream…

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Banoconut Ice Cream — Without Using an Ice Cream Maker!

Yesterday I was talking to my friend Jenna (who was the very first to send me pictures of her food — a series that has been weirdly fun for me), and she mentioned that I haven’t exactly been sticking to the blog’s original stated goal of learning to cook healthily. Touché. Which doesn’t mean that I haven’t been cooking healthy things, it’s just that the sweet stuff is so much more fun to make and write about (not to mention, eat)! But this recipe for banana coconut (banoconut?) ice cream just so happens to be a sweet, healthyindulgence. Plus, it’s super easy to make. I know I say that about practically everything on this blog, but hear me out: this recipe only requires one ingredient, and all you have to do it freeze it and put it in the food processor.

Yup, that’s right. You can make ice cream without an ice cream maker, as long as you’re ok with having a banana base. Because bananas have fat in them, the ice cream will still have that delicious, creamy texture (the same idea works with avocados, too). And there’s no cream — which means it’s vegan, gluten-free, diabetes, and diet friendly!

The irony of all this is that bananas are the one food that Jenna absolutely can’t stand.

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Good morning!

Taking a break from writing about yesterday’s visit to the Little Pie Company to make and eat this omelet. Can’t wait to tell you all about it!

(About the pies. The omelet was just a regular old spinach and onion omelet.)

This Week in Food…

Here’s some more food-related stuffs that I found interesting this week!

Pretty Things

Baking is Science for Hungry People Apron: Truer words were never spoken. The design and quote is from a webcomic I used to read called Questionable Content, and will need to catch up with at some point this summer (also I just had that weird experience when you return to a comic or story or TV show or whatever you’ve neglected and found there is now a new romance arc between two of the ladies, one of whom was formerly dating a dude what what whaaaat?)

OCD cutting board: This is one of those things that looks really cool but that I’d never want to own because I don’t have OCD and would probably just feel really bad about how imprecise my measurements/chopping skills are. But it kind of drives home the point about baking being science for hungry people.

Hitch: Some guys made a short animated film about Alfred Hitchcock’s “recipes” for great films. Suuuper innovative. And pretty.

Luxirare’s watermelon salad: Though I’ve always associated Luxirare with fashion more than food, she does prepare quite a lot of elegant edible masterpieces. Though many of her recipes involve rare or ridiculous foods (like the astounding Bloodless Mary, which calls for 70-80 tomatoes), this salad actually looks like it might be replicable, as long as you have a freezer large enough to fit a slab of watermelon.

Informative Things

Is It a Good Idea to Microawave a Twinkie?: Though I don’t know how the answer to this question could possibly be up for debate*, it’s still entertaining to watch the results.

No-So-Informative Things

In Search of the Perfect Gelato: I guess this might possibly be useful, if you happen to be in Italy in this region in search of the perfect gelato. For the rest of us, just enjoy salivating over the descriptions and the thought of bread-flavored gelato.

*The answer is obviously yes.

Cucumber Chick Pea Salad

I am absolutely in love with the bagged lunch ideas on Always Order Dessert. As an unpaid intern with only a small stipend for transportation and lunch, not buying lunch three days a week really adds up at the end of the month. In addition to being extremely portable, this cucumber chickpea salad is also just a great summer salad — I can imagine bringing this dish to a barbecue as an alternative to potato salad or wilted greens. The cilantro is a refreshing touch, and the lime juice keeps the salad looking and tasting fresh even after a few days in the fridge.

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Irish Soda Bread

I made bread! Two entire loaves of spongey, salty homemade bread. I am ridiculously proud of myself right now.

Learning how to grill burgers and bake cakes and make pesto and stuff has been great, but there’s truly nothing more satisfying than homemade bread, fresh out of the oven. It makes your entire house smell cozy and inviting. In fact, the only reason why I don’t bake bread every freaking day is because bread is really tricky and temperamental. Oh sure, you’d never think that something as simple as bread would involve things like kneading and rising and asking confused grocery store staff where they keep the active yeast, but real bread making is a pursuit best left to people who know what they’re doing. Or people with bread making machines.

But this Irish Soda Bread is a dangerous recipe. Other than the buttermilk (which we just happened to have on hand), it uses ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. It has no knead time or rise time — literally all you do is dump the ingredients in a mixer and then stick it in the oven for 45 minutes. Plus it’s infinitely variable — you can add citrus zest, blueberries, poppyseeds, or whatever else you can imagine. So yeah. Instant bread, with no weird ingredients, no hassle, that you can adjust according to your tastes. After this discovery, I have a feeling we’re just always going to have a few loaves sitting on the counter.

My brother found the recipe in a random old cookbook that I don’t think has ever been opened before last Saturday. The cookbook, called “The American Country Inn and Bed & Breakfast Cookbook,” allegedly includes recipes for good old fashioned American cooking from quaint lodgings all over the country. The recipes are not divided by course or even ingredient, but by state. The recipe for Sunny Pines Irish Soda Bread hails from Massachusetts, so there’s a chance they might actually know what they’re talking about.

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Cold Sesame Soba Noodles

 

Last night, my brother and I got back from swimming and were both completely ravenous. I’d made these soba noodles earlier in the day, and we were pacing the kitchen, deciding what to make that would go well as an accompaniment. The noodles were in a tupperware container by the sink, and as we walked past them one of us would occasionally fish out a noodle and slurp it up.

I’m not proud of this part. But at some point, we both realized that the sesame noodles were really good and our parents wouldn’t be home from Shakespeare on the Green for another several hours and we just weren’t going to make dinner. So we started eating them standing up, straight out of the tupperware, grabbing fistfuls of noodles with our hands and gobbling them up.

And if that isn’t a ringing endorsement for making these noodles, I don’t know what is.

Making this dish is amazingly simple, and as the original recipe suggests, it’s a great dish to throw together on a Sunday night and take to work for the week. Though soba noodles are high in protein, you can always add tofu or meat if you want something more substantial.

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What I Listen to in the Kitchen

Sometimes, cooking can be fun. Sometimes, it’s not that fun, like when you’re on your feet mixing ingredients and standing over a hot stove and you’re hungry and you have guests coming and just want your food to be done and your dishes to be clean already. In this type of situation, having a little music can improve your mood (and your food! Stuff tends to come out better when you’re not stressed and juggling eight different dishes at once) drastically. I tend to go for things that are upbeat enough to keep me moving without being too danceable, because otherwise I’ll just get distracted. So basically, cheerful but not forcibly so. Here’s a selection of what I keep on my cooking and baking playlist:

For late-night baking, when you’re alone in the kitchen and want to stay awake: Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears

I like to bake at night. It’s calming, the kitchen is cooler and emptier, and I get to reward myself with a cookie or something before bed. For whatever reason, when I’m mixing batter and greasing pans and trying to shush the oven timer when it goes off at 1:14 AM, blues/funk just really fits. Try it. You’ll see. It’s happier than pop and rap but keeps you awake better than indie. Totally perfect.

For when you’re cooking for company and want to relax: Sara Watkins

Everything about Sara Watkins’ folk music is beautiful — the vocals, the lyrics, the fiddling. I downloaded her album last week and have been listening to it nonstop. It’s also very soothing for reading or writing papers.

For when you’re cooking after work and are tired, hungry, and just trying not to strangle anyone: The Weepies

We all know that feeling. When all you want to do is reheat some leftover Easy Mac and call it a night, but you make yourself wait an extra 15 minutes so you can cook something with actual nutritional content (actually, if you’re reading this blog you’re probably in college, which means you probably don’t know this feeling. Lucky you. Easy Mac is the best). On the other hand, you feel absolutely murderous while you’re cooking. It’s a very rare band that can actually cheer you up with peppy music rather than expedite your descent into murderous rage, but that rare band is absolutely The Weepies. I mean, look at that music video. There’s a quirky indie couple in it. And spontaneous art. And pretty colors. Aren’t you feeling more cheerful, already?

For when you’re cooking with your brother or dad or other menfolk and want to make cupcake-baking seem super macho: The Black Keys

Ok, so putting on some rock won’t really fool anyone into thinking that fondant is rugged or whatever, but come on. It’s 2011. There are guys in the kitchen, and the pure, irrefutable awesomeness of The Black Keys decimates socially constructed gender roles with their wailing guitar riffs and growly-whine vocals. (Putting aside my absolute mangling of gender theory, The Black Keys are also just a really great jam band, whether you’re cooking with boys or girls or cats or no one)

For when you’re making breakfast and want to pump yourself up for the day and the delicious omelet or blueberry pancakes you’re about to devour: Coconut Records

Coconut Records is a great band to wake up to because they remain equally enjoyable as your caffeine intake increases. Just woke up and feel like a bedhead monster? Kind of groggy and just puttering around the kitchen, trying to remind yourself where the flour went? Super buzzed and ready to get fed and start your day? Coconut Records’ strain of islandy indie pop is perfect for all of these mindsets.

For when you’re cleaning up and doing dishes, and just want to let your mind wander: This American Life Podcast

This was probably a no-brainer for some of you, but “This American Life” is the perfect background accompaniment to repetitive household chores. Entertaining and informative, it’s the kind of journalism that makes you think without hurting your brain, and the stories will stick with you for weeks. Download the podcast here.

Do you guys have any preferred music or podcasts for specific cooking, baking, or cleaning scenarios?  Do you vehemently agree or disagree with any of these pairings? Or do you think the kitchen is a sacred space where no music should be played and dancing should be outlawed in Bomont?

Tilapia with Cumin, Mango, and Thai Basil

This was one of those dinners that pretty much put itself together. I had some mangos that had just ripened and some tilapia defrosting in the fridge, a quick Google search provided this recipe for “Moroccan-style” tilapia, and when I said the dish needed something extra, my dad mentioned we had Thai basil growing in the backyard.

And it ended up tasting great! Moreover, the prep was easy, it took five minutes to cook, the spice rub gave the perfect amount of kick to the tilapia, and the different flavors went unexpectedly well together. If you happen to have the ingredients on hand, this recipe would make a great weeknight meal, and the leftovers travel well and can easily be brought to work.

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