Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sorta healthy...kinda.

Those Momofuku cookies I made meant buying some oatmeal, something I don't typically keep around the house. FreshDirect only had a giant size on offer, so now I have enough oatmeal to last me from now until the end of time. In the dual interests of a) not wasting food and b) satisfying my sweet tooth without resorting to snorting marshmallows, I decided to make some of that oatmeal into a dessert.

I cooked half a cup of oats in a cup of boiling water (I turned the heat to low and added a pinch of salt when I added the oats to the pot), stirring occasionally, for about five minutes. Then I plopped the oatmeal in a bowl, dotted it with unsalted butter, and topped things off with a sprinkling of dark brown sugar.

Believe me when I tell you that this is one of the most satisfying desserts I've had in a while - and it's rich in fiber, too. Not too shabby.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Crisp and cold - and a new resolution.

A couple weekends ago, during the early January cold snap that enveloped the Eastern states, I took a sunny and very chilly walk across Central Park. I started off near my friends Miya and Jordan's place, at 64th and Central Park West, and left the park at 72nd and 5th. Along the way, I saw the icy towers of Midtown rising above the park's trees (one of my favorite New York sights).

I also passed this statue of Mother Goose. She's pictured astride a goose, and her plinth is covered with carvings depicting scenes from her various tales, including Humpty Dumpty and Little Bo Peep. I love the look of wise glee on Mother Goose's face and the sense of movement she creates, with her cape flying out behind her as she rides the wind.

Behind Mother Goose, two (slightly creepy) children keep watch over the entrance to the Rumsey Playfield. To me, they looked like something out of a horror novel, the sort of imp that comes to life after we've all gone to sleep.

I don't walk through the park nearly as often as I should, and this walk reminded me of that. I've resolved, therefore, to make a weekly pilgrimage from one side to the other. I'll try to document these walks here; I think it'll be really fun to watch the park ebb and flow with the seasons, and I can't think of anything that makes me feel more connected to the city than drinking it in as it was intended: on foot.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cookie monster.

I'm sure many of you are sick and tired of hearing me sing the praises of David Chang's Momofuku mini-empire. But know this: if you skip this post, you'll miss out on some damn good cookies.

My friend Lorna Yee (fabulous food writer and cookbook author) lives in Seattle, far from the warm reaches of Momofuku pastry chef Christina Tosi's deliciously retro Milk Bar creations (I think of them as comfort goodies for those born in the 70s and early 80s.). She attended a New Year's brunch where the host had ordered some Milk Bar cookies online, and couldn't get enough of the chocolate chip, cornflake and marshmallow ones. Lorna was "besotted by their butterscotch-sweet and salty flavor, and their crunchy, cornflake texture," and so she set to experimenting with a copycat version.

I officially declare them a success. I made a batch last Friday, to bring on the road trip to Rhode Island, and my cousin Abby - who's had the original - didn't even realize that I'd made them until I told her about Lorna's quest. They're just as Lorna described: rich with butter, sweet with caramel flavors from the dark brown sugar, and crunchy from the cornflakes (of which, I will admit, I added an extra handful or two).

Mine didn't turn out quite as pretty as Lorna's, but, then, she has the golden touch when it comes to pastry. I'm ok with that, especially since I'm fairly confident that mine were just as tasty.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Queenie's Treasury

Happy Saturday. everyone, and welcome to the latest edition of the Treasury! It's a gorgeous, sunny day here in New York, and I'm heading out this afternoon to Chinatown for some spicy noodles and serious window shopping. But before I go...

As you all know, I am a big fan of re-usable shopping bags, right down to the mesh produce bags I use at the Greenmarket. So I was really excited to see the London shop Unpackaged featured on the humanitarian design blog, GOOD. Unpackaged sells everything loose - spices, produce, nuts, grains - and you bring your own packaging (or buy your own at the store). The store itself is just beautiful, and I can't help but be won over by the concept.

Over on Serious Eats, they're talking about claypot cooking. Rice, sausage, and a crispy crust? I need to try this, stat.

The New York Times has added a regular coffee feature (entitled Ristretto) to its T Magazine blog line-up. Authored by Oliver Strand, one of the paper's $25-and-under columnists and staff food writers, it's a great look at coffee in the city, and coffee preparation in general. Speaking of which, I think a cup of espresso would hit the spot right now.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cold weather treat.

Much to my delight and chagrin, FreshDirect is finally carrying Mallomars. This will be my downfall.

I remember trying to order these last year (Mallomars, you see, have a season - their delicate chocolate shells can't survive harsh Northeastern summers.), but with no luck. But just last week I thought it was worth searching FreshDirect's site for them - and there they were!

For those of you who've never experienced their awesomeness, Mallomars consist of a graham cookie topped with marshmallow and covered in a thin, dark chocolate shell. They are, to say the least, delicious. (They're also famous, having made their big screen debut in When Harry Met Sally.) They're also vastly more popular in New York than anywhere else; according to Nabisco, who manufacture the cookies, more than 70% of all Mallomars are sold in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut Tri-State area.

For the most part, I believe in making cookies, and not buying them - particularly not when they're mass-produced. But Mallomars are where I make an exception, because there's just nothing quite like them.

Now excuse me while I go try to forget that I still have half a box left.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Resolution: kept!

About a year ago, I resolved to bring my lunch to work at least three days a week, and with very few exceptions, I've done it! One of the ways I manage it is to make something on Sunday that will see me through a lunch or two. Braised dishes and stews are fantastic for this, since they not only keep well, but actually get better after a couple of days in the fridge.

(A quick aside: I highly recommend bringing your lunch to work. Not only do you save money, you also eat so much more nutritiously and consciously. It's made a huge difference to my working style, too - since I don't have to run out for fifteen or twenty minutes in the middle of every day, I can more easily meet with people over lunch or run out to do errands at 3:00, when the stores are empty. I love it.)

I've made chicken with barley and a (somewhat) traditional coq au vin, but one of my favorite braised chicken dishes is one I've adapted from a recipe I first made during my eGullet days. My friend Susan created this recipe, and I've loved it from the very first bite. She makes hers with fresh plum tomatoes and creme fraiche; I sub in half-and-half, since it's what I keep in the fridge for my coffee, and during the winter I use canned tomatoes - but, in spirit, it's still the same dish.

And I'll be damned if it isn't delicious. It's substantial from the vegetables, creamy from the cooking time and the half-and-half, and tangy from the vinegar. During the summer, I use basil and parsley to season things, but this time of year I keep it wintry with a little woodsy thyme. Most of the time, I eat it by itself, but it's also fantastic with buttered noodles or some mashed potatoes. Really, anything goes. Anything at all.

Susan's Braised Chicken with Tomatoes & Vinegar

1 tbs. canola oil
Dark meat of one chicken (two legs, two thighs, two wings)
1/2 white onion, cut into a 1/4-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into a 1/4-inch dice
1 stalk celery, cut into a 1/4-inch dice
1 tbs. fresh thyme leaves
1/8 cup white wine or champagne vinegar
1/2 cup white wine
14 oz. whole canned plum tomatoes in puree, crushed with your hands
1 or 2 tbs. half-and-half, milk, creme fraiche or cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a 3-quart, heavy-bottomed pot (enameled cast iron is ideal), heat the canola oil over high heat. In the meantime, season the skin side of the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Once the oil is hot enough (a droplet of water should sizzle and skitter across the surface), place half the chicken pieces in the pot, skin side down, and turn the heat to medium high. Cook until the chicken is well-browned on one side, then flip and cook for a few more minutes. Using tongs, remove the cooked chicken to a plate and repeat with the rest of the chicken.

Pour off all but 1 tbs. of the fat from the bottom of the pot and return to the heat. Add the onion and saute for a few minutes until softened and a little browned. Add the garlic and saute for a minute or two more, until the garlic is fragrant and slightly golden. Add the carrots, celery, thyme and a pinch of salt; saute until the vegetables soften, about five minutes.

Deglaze the pan with the vinegar, then add the wine. Simmer for a couple of minutes and then add the tomatoes (with their puree). Stir to combine evenly, then add the chicken back to the pot, nestling the pieces in the vegetable mixture. sprinkle with a bit more salt and some pepper, then turn the heat to low, cover and simmer (Do NOT boil!) for 25 to 30 minutes.

Once the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has turned a bit creamy-looking, remove the chicken to a plate and stir the sauce. Add the half-and-half and stir to combine. If you're planning to store the stew overnight (or longer), add the chicken back to the pot and let things cool down a bit on the stovetop. Once the pot is no longer hot to the touch, place in the fridge. The dish keeps for five or six days, easily.

If you plan to serve immediately, taste and adjust for seasoning, then place a piece or two of chicken on each plate and top with plenty of sauce.

Serves three.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Road trip!

This past Saturday, I drove up to Rhode Island to visit my aunt and uncle in Bristol. They were hosting a 30th birthday party for my cousin Kate, who's been one of my closest friends pretty much since time began. (See the photo below for evidence.) We had a fantastic time - my Aunt Cathi cooked up a storm, including some of the most delicious chicken Marsala of all time (the secret is roasting the mushrooms and onions separately and with lots of balsamic vinegar).

Yesterday, on the way back to the city, my cousin Jason, his wife Abby and I stopped at a McDonald's in northern Connecticut for a road trip fix. I only indulge in Mickey D's a couple of times a year, and always when traveling. It's my airport and highway rest stop food of choice, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Chicken nuggets, fries and Sweet & Sour sauce: pure, salty perfection. Yum.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Queenie's Treasury

Hello, kiddies! I'm back from hiatus and ready to rock. This week's Treasury is a little late, but it's still technically the weekend here in the States, so I'm ok with it. Here we go!

First up, some majorly impressive food styling and photography from the website of Helene Dujardin, a stylist based in South Carolina and author of the food blog Tartelette. Inspiration abounds on her site and her blog. Those pears make me want to buy some mascarpone and get creative with a pear-centric feast - or just eat slices smeared with the cheese. Either way.

Next, a new website dedicated to guiding you through the shopping riches offered by the UK. From Britain with Love launched earlier this month, and is already on fire! Their blog is fantastic, and they have some of the best gift ideas I've seen recently. And, for those of you in the UK, some excellent contests (Sadly, we foreigners are not eligible.).

Finally, a look at Marimekko's Oiva dinnerware line, which will be released later this year. I love all of it, especially the coffee cups. Being handle-free makes them all the more cozy (you have to literally cup them in your hands), and I can't get enough of their blobby-yet-geometrically-satisfying pattern.

Loving Lever House.

Working in midtown Manhattan is, most of the time, kind of a pain in the butt. It's crowded, it's full of bad, over-priced food, and it's just not as good as working across the street from Madison Square Park (like I used to). It's not completely without its rewards, though, and one of those is the fantastic mid-century architecture that abounds in the East 50s.

I work at 52nd and Madison, which means I pass both Lever House and the Seagram Building on my way to the office. On a clear, sunny day, looking up at either of those towers and glass and steel fills me with a Mary Tyler Moore-esque swell of excitement. I realize where I am, and I get all tingly.

One of the cooler things about Lever House is their rotating collection of art on public display in their glass-walled lobby and open-air atrium. The current installation, by Richard Woods, is entitled Port Sunlight, and is just plain awesome. The pillars and benches inside and surrounding the lobby (and the floor of the lobby itself) have been printed with mosaic motifs, from feathers to black and white patterns with graphic punch.

Walking through the atrium makes me feel warm and cozy, like I'm strolling through a Caribbean plaza immersed in equatorial sun. If you're in New York - either as a resident or a tourist - I highly recommend a visit to 53rd and Park to check it out.

Photos courtesy of Richard Woods and This Week In New York.

I'm back, baby!

Hello there, dear readers!

I'm so sorry to have missed you last week, and though the next few days promise to be just as nutty, I'm spending this blessedly obligation-free afternoon getting content ready for posting all week long.

Since we last spoke, I took a walk across Central Park in 20-degree weather, went on a road trip to Yale and Rhode Island, made some awesome cookies and rediscovered my love for Mallomars. More on all of that very, very soon.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Radio silence.

Hello, my lovelies! It's been a crazy few days chez Queenie, and promises to remain so for at least another day or two. That means I have to shy away a bit from my bloggerly duties this week. Rest assured I miss you all and will be back in full force later this week. In the meantime, I'll be doing my real job and dreaming of a getaway.

Hawaii? Paris? I can't decide! Which would you choose? (Never mind that it's a complete fantasy either way, at least until that tax rebate comes through.)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Queenie's Treasury

It's a cold, clear Saturday here in New York, and I spent my afternoon hanging out with my friends Jordan and Miya and their adorable daughter, Emi. We ate eggs in purgatory (delicious) and drank copious amounts of coffee. After lunch, I walked home across Central Park and just generally enjoyed the crisp glory that is New York in winter.

And then I realized - hey, I need to write a Treasury post! So here I am, and here we go.

First up, a craving-inducing Flickr group from the folks at A Hamburger Today. A whole photo pool full of mouthwatering burger shots. And more burger shots. I die, truly. I warn you - do not click through if you're not ready to give in and have a burger for dinner.

Next, a potentially exciting development in the world of unctuous goodness: could chicken skin be the next bacon? As a major fan of Kasadela's grilled chicken skin on a stick, I applaud this potential shift, especially it's tip-to-tail sensibility. Bring on the crispy skin, I say.
Finally, something that makes your brain happy, as opposed to just your tummy. Some gorgeous, fun pieces from pop pop portraits, one of my favorite Etsy sellers. I just love Helena's fashion-oriented, nostalgic aesthetic. I wouldn't mind having her paint my portrait, so long as she helps me choose the outfit as well. (Discovered these a while ago, but was reminded of them by PVE Design!)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


It's freaking freezing in New York this week, and what better excuse for copious amounts of hot chocolate and cozy couch time than frigid weather?

In that spirit, I direct your attention to this vintage Queenie post, which contains the best recipe for hot chocolate I've found yet. It comes to us courtesy of pastry genius Pierre Hermé, and is the closest thing to Prague hot chocolate around. (That's high praise, as far as I'm concerned.)

Enjoy, and stay warm!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


My friend Cristin came over for a cheese & chocolate-filled dinner on New Year's Eve. After the marathon of cooking that comprised the week of Christmas, I wasn't quite ready to do a full-scale four-course dinner, so I decided on something a bit simpler. I left out the meat course, and instead settled on a browned-butter butternut squash risotto (recipe to follow shortly), molten chocolate cakes, and an oozy, champagne-friendly Brillat-Savarin to finish.

I promise details on the risotto and the cheese, but first, the cakes. These cakes, based on Jean-Georges Vongerichten's iconic version (What dessert better defines the 1990s?), are pretty much the easiest dessert in the history of the world. You melt chocolate and add it to eggs beaten with sugar, then spike it with a bit of vanilla and espresso. Oh, and, there are two teaspoons of flour in there, too. Yes, just two teaspoons.

The cakes bake at a high temperature (450°F) for just a couple of minutes, and then they're ready to go. They're best when served with some lightly whipped cream, but they do pretty well on their own, too. And since they take about 15 minutes total to whip up, they work as a mid-week treat as well as a dinner party finale.

Molten Chocolate Cakes
Adapted from Jean-Georges Vongerichten & Mark Bittman

You can use any kind of custard cup, ramekin or mold for these cakes; my favorite cookware for these are the fluted brioche molds I picked up in Paris last year!

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for molds
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting molds
4 ounces very good bittersweet chocolate
2 large whole eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Butter and lightly flour four 4-ounce molds, ramekins, or custard cups. Tap out excess flour; butter and flour them again, and set aside. (Don't skimp on this - you definitely need to double-grease and flour these.

Gently melt the butter and chocolate together in the top of a double boiler (You can fashion one yourself using a heatproof bowl and a pan of simmering water.). Heat until the chocolate has almost completely melted, then stir to combine evenly. Cool slightly.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand-held mixer and a medium bowl), beat together eggs, yolks, and sugar until light and thick. Add melted chocolate mixture, and beat to combine. Quickly beat in flour, espresso powder and vanilla until just combined. Divide batter evenly among the molds.

(At this point, you can refrigerate the cakes until an hour before you're ready to bake them off. Just cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to a day. Remove from the fridge about an hour before you're ready to bake them.)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place filled molds on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until the sides have set but the centers remain soft, 4 to 6 minutes.

Invert each mold onto a plate, and let rest 10 seconds. Unmold by lifting up one corner of the mold; the cake will fall out easily onto the plate. Serve immediately.

Serves four; easily divides to feed fewer or multiplies to feed more.

Monday, January 4, 2010

My Doughnut Plant obsession endures.

Remember how I swore I'd never try a Doughnut Plant doughnut away from the place of origin ever again? Well, that was until I showed up at Joe The Art of Coffee super-hungry (no breakfast, no lunch) one day last week. On offer? One of Doughnut Plant's seasonal cake doughnut flavors: pomegranate.

Oh. My. Gah.

This doughnut was absolutely delicious. A combination of almost-savory cake and a sweet, pomegranate seed-studded glaze. Just - wow.

I stand corrected.

Oh, and the cappuccino was darn good, too.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Queenie's Treasury

Welcome to the first Treasury of 2010, guys! I hope you enjoy the tidbits I've gathered here for you today. I'm spending most of my day cleaning the apartment, packing up the decorations and generally getting ready to go back to work on Monday after two crazy weeks off. At some point, I have to do laundry. Sigh. But, in the meantime...

This week the New York Times had a fun story on the resurgence of the bar cart. Driven in equal parts by the cocktail revival and the vintage obsession fueled by Mad Men, it's one of the best decor comebacks ever, in my opinion. I'm on the lookout for a small version, preferably no more than 20 inches wide, to tuck in next to my Expedit bookcase. Any ideas?

Asian Jewish Deli, one of my favorite foodblogs (not least for the incredible photography) recently spent a week cooking from the new Momofuku cookbook. Ramen, banh mi, pork buns, Fuji apple salad...all tackled, and all gorgeous. If you're curious about how the book measures up, you must read this series of posts.

Finally, a little shelter blog action for you. The Little Big House is a blog about three sisters (one of them an architect, one a photographer) who've bought a Greek Revival fixer-upper in the Catskills. It's a renovation blog, yes, but also features great style and decor tips along with stories of plaster and sheetrock. As someone who's been eyeing property upstate herself, I have to say I'm hooked!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Ring in the new year with a riot of color.

Happy New Year!

If you're at all like me today, you're getting off to a late and slightly shaky start, and are looking for excuses to curl up cozily for the remainder of the day. That's where this next bit comes in...

If you haven't been reading Maira Kalman's And the Pursuit of Happiness blog in the New York Times, now's the time to check it out. The last installment was published today, and you can read the whole set over here.

The pieces are a set of musings on the history and meaning of the United States. What does it mean to be American, and what does it mean, this "pursuit of happiness?" It's a beautiful series, full of Kalman's signature swirling illustrations, saturated with color and full of energy and life. She visits Mount Vernon, explores the locavore & organic movements with Alice Waters and discusses the life of Benjamin Franklin. For starters.

The blog will be turned into a book, to be published in October of this year (Yes, 2010 - this year!). I, for one, can't wait.
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