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Showing posts from April, 2011

Trends in Food

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I thought this article was very interesting. I remember when I was younger in the 1990s when being healthy meant eating processed foods that had the label "fat free" on the package. Of course, because people were thinking these items were fat free they ate larger portions than they would normally eat. Also, often more sugar (or corn syrup) was added to replace the fat. I remember Olestra and Snackwells, neither of which ever seemed that tasty or healthy. I am glad that according to that article people seem to be more focused on eating foods high in vitamins instead of just buying whatever has "fat free" on the label. Another problem when I was growing up seemed to be the label "reduced fat", as these items could still be relatively high in fat as long as they had less than the original version of the product.

All around this article has good news, including: "Last year, more than half (55 percent) of grocery shoppers prepared more meals at home than …

Fun with Rye

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Rittenhouse Rye is delicious. It is from Kentucky. We made a couple of cocktails with it.

 I love this bar whisk I got from Spoon and Whisk in Clifton Park. I used to just shake everything, until I realized what a smooth, luxurious texture you get from stirring Manhattans and Martinis with ice about 30 times. They don't get frothy, and that smooth texture really adds to the feeling of sophistication when it is consumed. First, I made some Old Fashioneds.
 Fill cocktail shaker with ice. Add 1 tablespoon simple syrup, 3 dashes Angostura bitters, 1/4 cup Rye, stir 30 times. Add 3 large ice cubes to an old fashioned glass, and rim edge with lemon twist. Throw twist into glass, and strain Rye mixture into glass. Refreshing, classy, delicious!

Manhattan (serves 2):

It is good to chill the glasses before hand. These were in the freezer, and you can tell by how frosty they look. Fill cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add 1/2 Rye, 1/4 cup Sweet Vermouth, 2 dashes Angostura bitters, and s…

Bellini's Italian Eatery

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Last night we went to Bellini's in Slingerlands. It was actually the first restaurant that was ever recommended to us in Albany when we met our neighbors around the second day we moved in. They said "it is in a strip mall, doesn't look like anything special, very casual, actually pretty good". And we went and liked it, and went back many more times. Then, when we went last night we noticed they had changed their menu. They got rid of the daily specials (which I had only tried a couple of times anyway). It tasted like they added basil to the bread, which was a nice addition. They changed the pizzas slightly (no more shrimp and tomato, added zucchini to the Rustica pizza, and added an homemade meatball and ricotta pizza among other changes). They seem to have changed their salads slightly. The polenta croutons added to the Di Casa salad were actually really good, and we really enjoyed the dressing on this one too.

Their cocktails and wine list are pretty good. I like t…

Repurposing Pollan

Most foodies have heard of Michael Pollan's dictum: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Even better is that it inspired this riff by the Awl, which hopes that applying calorie disclosure requirements to alcoholic beverages will work against the "ice cream, chocolate syrup and a spritz of Vodka/peach schnapps" drinks that chain restaurants try to pass off as "cocktails":
Drink alcohol. Quite a bit. Mostly bourbon.Indeed. Now, if we can just get the FDA to prevent the abomination of drinks with vodka in them being called "martinis," we'll really have something...

Brideorexia

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Today I would like to talk about "Brideorexia" as discussed in this article. According to this book "the way we marry is who we are". And I would like to think as a society we are better than expecting young women who are getting married to completely change themselves in many ways in order to make a commitment of love and unity, and to celebrate the merging of two families. This book makes the argument that modern brides freaking out about losing large amounts of weight is related to the much older traditions of bridal fasting(which can be found in several different religions and cultures), and cleansing, including the Jewish mikveh

A woman simply has to change her facebook status to "engaged" to get only ads related to losing weight for a year. I am so used to these ads, that once when Scott was logged into facebook I noticed that he had no ads for losing weight, and I was shocked. I am told it is worse when you change your status to "married&q…

Whoopie Pies

I was first introduced to whoopie pies in Brooklyn where they have become really trendy. But now that I work in New England I have a whole other perspective. New Englanders I have met are just as crazy about whoopie pies as they are about fluffernutters. There seems to be some disagreement as to whether whoopie pies are from Pennsylvania Amish country or from Maine (both states claim to be the origin of this dessert). Here are even two different recipes from the different geographic regions. There seems to be two styles, the Pennsylvania style posseses more of a buttercream filling and the Maine style has with marshmallow fluff in the filling. My coworkers refuse to eat whoopie pies that do not have marshmallow fluff. They would consider these not real whoopie pies. My office had a bridal shower for me yesterday, and they ordered whoopie pies from the Big Y in North Adams, MA. They were really delicious. They were huge, and fluffy and had the right degree of sponginess in the texture …

Lunch at Our Desks

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I read an interesting article this weekend in the current issue of Every Day with Rachel Ray.  The article is called "What America Eats: The Lunch Edition". It discusses how half of Americans eat at their desks, but according to the magazine's polls one in two respondents eat homemade lunches every weekday, and the amount of women carrying in their own lunch has spiked 33 percent in 10 years. I would say that their polls are probably not that accurate because only a person who is already interested in food will buy a food magazine, but I think the sentiment is important to promote. The article mentions a shift in recent years from people thinking things are healthy simply because they are low in calories or low fat, to them actually becoming focused on the nutrients in healthy ingredients. The magazine polled readers and interviewed industry experts, and learned that respondents are bringing in more frequently fresh fruit, salads, and that men in particular are more li…

Bongiorno's Italian Restaurant

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Last night we went to Bongiorno's. We really love it! First of all it looks like someone's living room and the space feels very charming and cozy. Second, the bar is great. Martinis, Manhattans, and everything we have tried from the bar has been exactly right. Plus the cocktail glasses are adorably old fashioned and not too huge or anything. The bread tastes really fresh, and the pesto is good. The salad dressings (we had the balsamic and the house dressing) were delicious. Every entrée we've had from there has been great. Last night I got the manicotti with ricotta, and Scott got the special which was scallops Provençale, with artichokes, tomatoes and white wine. In the past I have had the shrimp fra diavolo, and Scott has tried some veal and beef dishes that were really good. The first time we went he may have tried the chicken Cacciatorre, which I think he really enjoyed. Both of the owners came over to our table separately to see how things were. The staff was also rea…

Practice Makes Perfect

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I was reading in Ad Hoc at Home last weekend Thomas Keller's tips for the home cook. He pointed out that being a good cook at home really comes down to knowing how to do a handful of things well: braising, making a pie crust, roasting a chicken, cooking eggs, making a pan sauce, and a few other tasks. He pointed out that many home cooks try a recipe once and move on to the next. But he pointed out that when a person makes a recipe for a second time is when they start to really understand how to make the dish. He recommends starting with these fundamental tasks and branching out from there.

I can agree that making the same recipes many times is what allows the cook to actually excel at certain things. I can make some really good chocolate chip cookies. Why? Because Scott loves them and always says "You never make us cookies". So since he encourages me to make the same type of dessert over and over again, I have a good grasp on what makes the process successful. Ice cream,…

Knickerbocker Cocktail

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From this great book comes the height of old New York elegance:

2 ounces gin (just used Beefeater, didn't want a whole lot of other complex flavors)
1 ounce dry vermouth
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
Dash of orange bitters
(recipe calls for lemon twist, and we were out unfortunately - it is delicious anyway)

Stir ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into a martini glass.

Mmmm like a martini, but a little more complex. Tastes like sophistication in a glass.

Capital Q Smokehouse

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I'll start out by pointing out that I hail from the suburbs in the upper Midwest, and that I've spent my young adult years in the state of New York. I visited Tennessee a bit as a child, and have probably been to the Carolinas about 3 times. The biggest connection I probably have to the south is being a Taylor Swift fan and being charmed by some wedding ideas from Southern Weddings Magazine. So what do I really know about BBQ?
Well, I know that Capital Q Smokehouse is delicious! They have several different styles of sauces and I have yet to try them all: Kansas City, Okie, Memphis Style, South Carolina, and a couple more. The Okie chicken in particular is really tasty. There's some depth and complexity to the flavors in the sauce. Their food is really high quality, and they have a catering menu and sell dishes by the pound. I could imagine a party in the summer with food from here that would be a lot less stressful than making everything ourselves and would be very satisfyi…

A Few Dissents

I love the idea of the Fussy Little Blog's alternative Times Union Best of Albany ballot, and I wholeheartedly endorse trying to ensure that the list isn't swamped by mediocre chains. Combined with the fact that we're relatively new to the area and lack the expertise to judge a lot of the categories, my presumption is to defer to Daniel's choices.

However! Being the kind of asshole individualist who proudly resists outings to event movies, I can't resist a few cranky exceptions, even though I know it works against the thrust of the exercise. The biggest one, as I point out in comments, refers to Trader Joe's. It's not that it wouldn't be useful to have one here. But I also find it really overrated, at least for my own purposes. It does have well-above-average frozen and pre-packaged meals, but essentially I never eat them. And if you don't, TJ's isn't terribly exciting; I do like the cheap house olive oil and quinoa and a few oth…

Season to Taste

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I was reading in Ad Hoc at Home this weekend about all the ways vinegar can be used. I never really thought of it, but Keller was saying how it is like salt and pepper and can be added to many dishes to lift up the flavors. You can add a bit to give a dish a little punch, but not too much that it tastes predominantly like vinegar. He says that about salt and pepper too, when you can taste them its too much. Keller was also saying that any food you add salt to yourself won't be tasty and so salty that it is a health concern. He says salt in your diet only becomes a concern if you are eating canned and processed foods that have incredibly high amounts. I added some champagne vinegar to my chicken dumplings soup, and I am now having the leftovers for lunch and I really notice how the vinegar brightens and lifts up the flavors.

Sunday Night Chicken Salad

This seems like a contradiction in terms, especially if you think of Sunday night as a time to do something a little fancier than you have time for on a weeknight. In this case, though, we tried it with a little elegance. We roasted a chicken with vegetables last night, and so the leftover chicken was the basis for the sandwich and the leftover veggies made a nice side.

But what made this "Sunday night" chicken salad was the homemade components. First, Ms. Garlic made fresh sandwich bread -- excellent (from the recipe in How to Cook Everything.) Then, for the first time, I made homemade mayo. Pretty easy if you have a decent food processor, actually. Put two eggs yolks in the bowl of a food processor, turn on the motor, and slowly pour in a cup of olive or canola oil. Run until it emulsifies, and then add a tablespoon of lemon juice, salt and pepper. Tasty! And can be used all week. We added the mayo to the chicken and some sliced scallions. It made…

Very Delicious Cocktail

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We were incredibly efficient this weekend. We made a roast chicken dish, and turned the chicken into chicken salad. We then used the egg whites leftover from the mayo from the chicken salad in a cocktail. And it is very delicious:

Acapulco

1 1/2 ounces light Rum (I used the Berkshire Mountain Distillery Rum)
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1 egg white
1/2 ounce simple syrup

Shake the ingredients vigorously with ice. Strain over ice in an old fashioned glass.

The egg white gives the whole thing a really light and fluffy consistency, and the lime and Cointreau are really refreshing. Tasty! Also we didn't have to throw out the leftover egg whites!

Martha Knows Best

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We sent away for tickets to the Martha Stewart Show taping in NYC. I can testify that she is very particular about what the studio audience wears during the taping (a lot of "Dress to impress!!!" in emails). The staff is also incredibly organized, more than I ever remember about attending David Letterman tapings when I was younger. Actor Ted Danson was there, and he is associated with an organization called Oceana. We got many free things from the show including his new book about saving our oceans . We were also given a chart to help us decide which type of fish were better to eat in terms of their risk of extinction in the oceans. There was also a segment on which products to buy that were more friendly to the rainforest, and how to decipher symbols in grocery stores on packages (like organic and fair trade products).

Ted Danson and Martha also made a salt-baked sea bass. I haven't used this technique before, but apparently it helps to cook the fish very evenly, and Th…