step by step: my first attempt at eggs benedict

one of my favorite breakfasts is eggs benedict.  i always order it at restaurants, but i’ve been a bit hesitant to try out the recipe at home.  this is mostly due to my fear of making  hollandaise sauce and also poaching eggs.  luckily, i found a really great recipe for making hollandaise sauce, compliments of julia child:

3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, if needed (or more) [i used lime juice since i didn't have lemon]
6 -8 ounces very soft unsalted butter [i used 6 ounces even]
1 dash cayenne pepper
salt, to taste
fresh ground white pepper, to taste [i used black pepper]

Directions:

1. Whisk the yolks, water, and lemon juice in the saucepan for a few moments, until thick and pale (this prepares them for what is to come).

2. Set the pan over moderately low heat and continue to whisk at reasonable speed, reaching all over the bottom and insides of the pan, where the eggs tend to overcook.

3. To moderate the heat, frequently move the pan off the burner for a few seconds, and then back on. (If, by chance, the eggs seem to be cooking too fast, set the pan in the bowl of cold water to cool the bottom, then continue).

4. As they cook, the eggs will become frothy and increase in volume, and then thicken. When you can see the pan bottom through the streaks of the whisk and the eggs are thick and smooth, remove from the heat.

5. By spoonfuls, add the soft butter, whisking constantly to incorporate each addition. As the emulsion forms, you may add the butter in slightly larger amounts, always whisking until fully absorbed. Continue incorporating butter until the sauce has thickened to the consistency you want.

6. Season lightly with salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne pepper, whisking in well. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding droplets of lemon juice if needed. Serve lukewarm.

it took me about 10 minutes of constant whisking before i added butter to the frothy egg yolks.  at first i was worried that we’d be eating raw eggs since the mixture really wan’t getting thick, but then i whisked to my hearts content for another 15 minutes or so.  much to my surprise, those puppies thickened right up and were the perfect velvety, smooth consistency.

while all this was going on, i had a pot of water boiling for the eggs.  i’ve tried making poached eggs before – using the vinegar method and the swirly method – and they’ve never turned out quite right.  as a solution, this time i used 2 poachpods, which can purchased for about $10 at bed bath and beyond.

these little silicon pods really work wonders.  all you need to do is butter the poachpod, add an egg, and cook it in boiling water for about 5 1/2 minutes with the lid on.  i cooked 2 eggs at a time since i only had 2 pods, but you could definitely cook about 4 eggs in one medium-sized saucepan.  once the time is up, gently remove the eggs from the boiling water and turn the pod upside-down to release.

i then toasted a couple english muffins, warmed up my canadian bacon on the stovetop, and put together the breakfast.  to do this, i stacked the canadian bacon and then the poached egg atop the toasted english muffin.  i finished it off with the creamy hollandaise sauce and and a sprinkle of parsley.

to my pleasant surprise, the whole thing turned out really well.  although i was a bit worried about substituting the lime juice for the lemon juice, i think the lime gave the hollandaise a really nice flavor.  and the eggs were the perfect constancy.  overall, a very good meal which i’m really happy i finally tried.  i know i’ll be making these yummy eggs benedicts for many sunday mornings to come.

the dandelion – quaint london pub-style brunch in philly

on one of my recent trips to philadelphia, i discovered the dandelion, a cute little pub on the corner of sansom and s 18th street. the atmosphere is engligh pub-style, with dark mahogany and rich colors.  the music was better-than-average and the overall ambiance was really nice.  i ordered the eggs benedict, and everything was cooked perfectly. my boyfriend had the toasted bagel and catskills smoked salmon, and even though it doesn’t sound like much of a meal, the salmon was fresh and the presentation was flawless.

the dandelion is a stephen starr restaurant, the ‘it’ chef of philadelphia, and i have to say, this restaurant did not disappoint.  if you’re looking for a nice low-key place for brunch in philly, this is definitely a good choice.

recap: lobster roll rumble 2012

there is really nothing i like better than lobster rolls, and this year’s lobster roll rumble was a great opportunity to try 20 different rolls from contenders around the country.

i had purposely skipped lunch in anticipation of the event, and arrived at metropolitan pavilion starving and excited to sink my teeth into tons and tons of lobster.  and that’s exactly what i did.  20 lobster rolls doesn’t sound like a lot, but after i’d enthusiastically tried 5 delicious rolls, i started to lose steam.

needless to say, i ended up trying 15 different lobster rolls.  i’m sure the remaining 5 would have been fantastic, but i honestly couldn’t look at another lobster roll, let alone take another bite.

you may think that all lobster rolls are the same – chunks of lobster salad on a bun – but i quickly learned that this is not the case.  its not only about the freshness of the lobster, but also the size of the pieces, the lobster to mayo ratio (too much or too little can ruin the roll), the spices/herbs, and the bread.  the bread is actually just as important as the lobster.  you need the right amount of butter and toastedness.  no one wants the perfect lobster on soggy or too-buttery bread.

below are some of the highlights from the evening:

brooklyn, new york  - this lobster roll had a toast-like bun filled with fresh-tasting, tender lobster.  not too much or too little mayo.  a yummy, classic new england-style lobster roll.


boston, massachusetts – more like a crostini than a lobster roll, the lobster meat in this roll was tossed with diced pickles, giving it a light, fresh taste.


atlanta, georgia – this roll had a nice buttery bun and lobster seasoned with mayo, lemon, shallots and chive.  though a bit heavy on the sauce, the legs were a cute touch (although i couldn’t figure out how, or if, i was supposed to eat them).


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kennebunkport, maine – people were going absolutely crazy for this maine-style lobster roll.  the line was the longest of all the restaurants, and the roll won the ‘fan favorite’ award.  though it didn’t gain my personal fan favorite vote, the round bun was wonderful, and the overall taste was pretty darn good.

if you want to give this lobster roll a try and have no upcoming travel plans to maine, the clam shack offers lobster roll kits on their website, complete with all the ingredients to make a delicious lobster roll from the comfort of your own home.


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new york, new york – this lobster roll won the ‘editor’s choice award’ and featured lots of spices, including chunks of celery which made it a little unique from the other rolls.  lots of sauce also made it a tad messy to eat.


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new york, new york – combining two of the best foods out there – lobster and bacon – this roll was surprisingly tasty, fun, and easy-t0-eat.  who knew that lobster could be so good with bacon and diced tomatoes mixed into it.


baltimore, maryland – the bread on this lobster roll reminded me of the toast you would have on a grilled cheese, which is a good thing.  fresh cold-water maine lobster combined with a good amount of dressing made this a solid roll.  i also liked the cucumbers on the side.


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new york, new york – my absolute favorite lobster roll is from luke’s lobster, which has a few locations throughout the city, including my favorite location in the east village.  although i’ve had their rolls many times, i was still excited to see them at this event.  large chunks of buttery lobster on a perfecly-toasted bun make this roll irresistibly good, and it ended up getting my fan favorite vote.  if you haven’t had luke’s, i suggest you go there as soon as possible.

the best vegan cookies ever (and they ship for free!)

i love cookies, and my new favorite is the phenomenal pumpkin spice from alternative baking company.  i started picking these cookies up from my local market and was completely surprised when i read that they are no everything - no dairy, no eggs, no trans fats, no hydrogenated oils, no cholesterol, no animal ingredients, no artificial ingredients, and no refined sugar.  you will never know that they are completely vegan cookies, because they are super moist, soft, and flavorful with a yummy homemade taste.

the other cool thing about alternative baking company is that they process online orders.  there is a 15 cookie minimum, but really – can you ever have enough cookies?  try the simply vanilla bean, colossal chocolate chip, and peanut butter persuasion (among others).  an added bonus: they also make gluten-free cookies.  yum!

blue ribbon sushi izaykaya – yum new restaurant on the les

although its been a year since i moved from my noisy apartment on ludlow and rivington to dumbo, i still manage to make routine outings to the lower east side.  there are always new restaurants popping up in the area, once of which is blue ribbon sushi izayaka, the latest and greatest offering from the bromberg brothers, who are known for their various blue ribbon restaurants around the city.  this includes the super cute brunch spot, blue ribbon bakery, in the west village.  if you haven’t been to this place already, you should definitely check it out.

needless to say, blue ribbon sushi izayaka did not disappoint.  the menu is huge, and includes daily specials, sushi & sashimi, and izaykaya.  we ordered a good variety of dishes, and everything tasted divine.  even something basic like shrimp tempura was made to perfection.  with a contemporary, chilled-out vibe and roomy tables, i know i’ll be enjoying many more meals here in the future.

located at 187 orchard in the thompson hotel.  go for: the atmosphere and huge range of tasty sushi.  be mindful of: the price…dinner for 2 (w/ two beers) was about $100.

2 fun nyc cookbooks

i recently picked up the meatball shop cookbook, and although i’ve only tried one recipe, i’m sold.  when i was living on the lower east side, i tried going to this place countless times, and each time it was completely packed.  eventually they started doing take-out, and once i finally tasted the much-raved about meatballs, i could see what all those people were waiting in line for.

so far, i’ve made the classic beef meatballs twice; they’re easy to make and turned out awesome both times.  the spices are perfectly balanced and create a scrumptious italian meatball.  i buy most of my groceries from foragers, a local and organic grocer, and i really think the fresh meat and herbs made a difference in this recipe.

the cookbook has a a good variety; with 6 sections – the balls, the sauces, stick to your bones sides, the veg, the salads, and the sweets – there are many meal combinations and options. next up on my menu are the bolognese balls with the classic tomato sauce.  i also want to try the ice creams (i just need to buy an ice cream maker first).

everyone loves cupcakes, and in a thriving city like new york, there are no shortage of bakeries.  one of my favorites is magnolia bakery.  every time one of my co-workers has a birthday, we order cupcakes from here…and every time they’re amazing.  magnolia’s cupcakes are the perfect size – not too big – and have just the right amount of sweetness. the cookbook has quite a few cupcake recipes, in addition to other yummy confections, including pies, cakes, breads, brownies, and ice creams.

so far i’ve tried the blondes with cream cheese swirl and pecans, and more recently the strawberry cream cheese pie with graham cracker crust.  both were delicious and left me wanting to try more.

the wonderfulness of chamomile tea

today I discovered chamomile tea – which, surprisingly, I’ve never had before this morning.  Where oh where has this been all my life!?  The tea has such a wonderfully sweet, soothing flavor.  As an added bonus, I also learned today that chamomile is used as an herbal home remedy for a number of different ailments, including anxiety, insomnia, upset stomach, and skin irritation.  ah, the wonders of tea.

new mexican restaurant opens in dumbo

dumbo is a lot of things – charming belgian block streets, historic architecture, a thriving arts  community – but one of the largely-lacking features is food choices.  don’t get me wrong, the restaurants here are pretty good, but they’re severely limited; so i was super excited when i heard about a new mexican restaurant opening at 5 front street, gran/electrica.

after a couple weeks of anticipation, i finally had the chance try this place out, and i wasn’t disappointed.  the decor is low-key with exposed brick and hardwood floors.  there’s a fully-stocked bar with a variety of tequila cocktails and spanish / portuguese wines (i had the rioja and it was quite good). the menu consists of mostly small plates meant for sharing and a few larger options.  my favorite dish was the fish tacos, made with lightly fried sea bass and crisp cabbage.  i also liked the ceviche.  they mention that local/fresh ingredients are used whenever possible, and i could really taste the freshness on this dish.  plates range from about $6 to $18, and are traditional mexican (not tex-mex as the waiter assiduously pointed out to us).

overall, the food is nicely-balanced and not too heavy, the ambiance is chill, and the service is friendly.  this is the type of place you’ll want to take your manhattan friends when you convince them to visit you in brooklyn.  highly recommended.

wafels & dinges makes and appearance in dumbo

yum yum yum i just finished my first wafels & dinges experience.  this was the 2nd time i’d seen the food truck in dumbo, and i couldn’t resist trying one.  they have both savory and sweet waffles, with a variety of toppings.  these waffles are the real deal –  direct from belgium and the perfect balance of chewy sweet goodness.  super friendly service and a definite must try if you’re lucky enough to see them in your neighborhood.

corner of front and adams

liege waffle (richer and chewier than the brussels waffle) with bananas, nutella, and powdered sugar

2012 lobster roll rumble, nyc

honestly, how amazing are lobster rolls?  i’m getting hungry just thinking about them.  one of the best meals i ever had was a luke’s lobster, a super tiny restaurant/take-out place in the east village.  luke’s won the fan favorite award at last year’s lobster roll rumble, and will be there again this year, defending their title.  i had actually never heard of this fantastic event until yesterday, and even though tickets are steep ($150 general admission, $250 vip) i quickly snatched mine up.  a summer evening drinking beer and tasting the countries best lobster rolls?  i’m sold.

tickets and more info available here.