Ruth Reichl’s blueberry crisp

March 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

It’s back in the 40’s here in Ithaca (darn you Mother Nature!), but I’m protesting the cold weather and making spring-ish desserts. Using this simple, easy recipe from Ruth Reichl on GiltTaste, I was able to pull a bubbling, heavenly-smelling blueberry crisp out of the oven within an hour with minimal mess and effort.

I only had regular frozen blueberries, which I defrosted and drained before using for the crisp. Other small modifications: mixing the blueberries with a teaspoon of cornstarch to better soak up and thicken the juices, adding a few drops of good vanilla extract to the topping, along with a handful of old-fashioned oats and flaxmeal. This recipe would probably work equally well with strawberries, raspberries, even apples. It’s a great dessert to pull together when you’re in a tight spot, since you’re bound to have most of the ingredients in your pantry already. Slivered almonds would be an awesome addition as well.

Good vanilla ice cream with this dessert is a must. I can’t wait to eat leftovers tomorrow for breakfast.

Blueberry crisp

1 stick butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cups brown or white sugar
pinch of salt
pinch of cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 handful old-fashioned rolled oats (optional)
1 tablespoon flaxmeal (optional)
4 cups of frozen blueberries, defrosted and drained
1 teaspoon cornstarch (optional)

Preheat the oven at 375. Combine melted butter and sugar, and stir in the sugar. Add salt and cinnamon and mix. Slowly incorporate the flour, until you have a dry and crumbly mixture. Mix in oats and flaxmeal if using.

Pour the mixed cornstarch and blueberries into a well-buttered pie plate (I actually used a loaf pan) and sprinkle the crisp topping over the blueberries. Use all of it, even if it seems a little excessive. This topping is that good. Bake for 45 minutes or until the topping is nice and golden. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Return to Maxie’s

March 23, 2012 § 2 Comments

Finally catching up on this month’s posts. Here are some shots from an amazing meal at Maxie’s Supper Club with Youjin, Esther, and Matt, when we decided to just go all out for happy hour and dinner. Two realizations from this outing: 1. I’m pretty much bound to like any cocktail that includes gin, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, and cucumber (and sometimes a hit of citrus) like the Sabbatical and 2. Maxie’s shrimp and grits may be the best version I’ve had so far (and that’s taking into account Riverpark). Their fried chicken, on the other hand, was disappointingly lackluster, with dry breast meat and a not-so-crispy crust that slipped right off.

And a quick stop at Purity Ice Cream (reported birthplace of the ice cream sundae)

Maxie’s Supper Club
635 W. State Street
Ithaca, NY
607.272.4136

Purity Ice Cream
Rt. 13 (Meadow Street) and corner of Cascadilla St.
Ithaca, NY

Kunjip and Koryodang

January 11, 2012 § 1 Comment

One of the many television shows I’ve been watching over winter break is Kimchi Chronicles, a PBS documentary slash travel show about the food and culture of Korea. Of course, it was only natural that afterwards, I had a fierce craving for Korean barbecue and kimchi. When  it came to deciding where to meet some Georgetown friends in New York City, Kunjip in midtown came to mind.

The restaurant was just starting its dinner rush when we arrived, but within half an hour, there were lines out the door, which we took as a good sign for the food. Overall, service was efficient and almost a bit too hurried, but you could tell that the manager and staff had done this many times before and had developed a system to make sure tables were being filled as quickly as possible.

We began with panchan – small side dishes to accompany the meal – which included various kinds of kimchi, mung bean sprouts, steamed eggs, and fish cakes with vegetables.

We ordered haemool jun gol, a spicy seafood soup with a whole octopus, clams, shrimp, crabs, tofu and rice cakes. Although the flavors were good and I loved that our server cut up larger pieces of seafood with scissors, the octopus became quite tough and overcooked, pretty much inedible since it was so chewy.

We couldn’t have a Korean dinner with barbecue, so we ordered kalbi, which was served ssam style with fermented bean paste, rice, scallion salad, and garlic wrapped in lettuce. The meat was very tender and juicy, but the portion was a bit underwhelming considering the price tag.

Our final dish was ddukboki, starchy cylindrical rice cakes reminiscent of gnocchi in a spicy, sweet stew with onions and carrots. So comforting, my favorite dish of the evening for its simplicity.

Afterwards, we stopped at nearby Koryodong for bubble tea and dessert. The pastries and assorted breads were standard Korean desserts and not particularly jaw-dropping, but the space was the perfect place for all the catching up we had to do.

In the past, I’ve kind of forgotten about Koreatown since it’s so close to Penn Station, but after visiting these two places, I’m looking forward to exploring its restaurants and cafes a little more in the future.

Kunjip
9 W. 32nd Street
New York, NY 10001
212.216.9487

Koryodang
3
1 West 32nd Street
New York, NY 10001

Caramelized pears with mascarpone cream

September 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

When it comes to home cooking, Mark Bittman’s recipes are my favorite. He’s covered all the basics, food recipes from all over the world, local and whole food eating and on and on. I bought his Kitchen Express in a second-hand bookstore, and it’s been one of my best buys (and I’m an avid bargain hunter). One of the things I like best about the book is that he forgoes formal measurements and actually encourages flexibility in the home cook. Usually, when I read a new recipe, I get discouraged when I realize I have to buy 3 or 4 new ingredients (especially since I’m living on the budget of a poor grad student), but Bittman is the king of substitution, within reason of course. Plus, he assumes that you know what you’re doing in the kitchen and doesn’t spend a lot of time walking you through every little step.

Pears and walnuts

His recipe for caramelized pears with mascarpone is a prime example. It’s quick and easy but refined enough to serve as a dessert when company’s over.

A dessert for fall

Caramelized pears with mascarpone cream (adapted from Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express)

Slice a couple pears (I like Bartlett variety) into wedges and toss with a few tablespoons of light brown sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Heat a couple tablespoons of butter; cook the pears and a handful of walnuts until the wedges are a bit soft and the walnuts are glossy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Whip together a third of a cup of mascarpone, a couple tablespoons of heavy cream, and a tablespoon of sugar (you can also add a tablespoon of good brandy), until thick. Serve the warm pears with the cream mixture.

Shake Shack Snapshot

September 26, 2011 § 2 Comments

Saturday, 1:30 PM with Laura: Shake Shack, Theater District. Home of the Jelly’s Last Donut Concrete.

Double Shack burger, 'Shroom burger, fries, lemonade, and concrete

Jelly's Last Donut - vanilla custard, Doughnut Plant donuts, strawberry preserves, cinnamon sugar

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