December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays!


This year I decided to bake my holiday cookies based on my blog.  I thought this would be a really neat way to share with family and friends some of the flavors I have enjoyed over the past year.  I took traditional holiday cookies and made slight changes to reflect flavors from around the world.
The first cookie is a coconut lace cookie.  Coconut seems to be prevalent in Southeast Asian cooking; I had it in the desserts I ate at Cafe Mingala, the Burmese restaurant in the UES and in the Thai restaurant Kittichai in SoHo.  But the most interesting food I had it in was at Laut, the Malaysian restaurant near Union Square.  For the coconut lace cookie I took the recipe I've used in the past for pecan lace and swapped the pecans for coconut (I also left out the chocolate). My basic recipe is from Delish.
The second cookie is a quince thumbprint.  I had a delicious sandwich at DespaƱa, a Spanish market in the LES and it had a thin layer of quince which I loved.  I also had quince in a dessert at Py, a Paraguayan restaurant in Sunnyside.  This is made with a basic cookie dough (I used Good Housekeeping's recipe), but instead of adding the more common jams I used (1/2 cup) quince preserve.
The third cookie is a date cookie bar.  I had the delicious sticky date pudding at Eight Mile Creek, the Australian restaurant in SoHo and it was really sweet but really tasty.  I liked the crunchiness of the dates inside the pudding.  I used a new recipe for this cookie bar from Taste of Home. I made two minor adjustments to this recipe, I added a 1/4 cup more butter and I baked for 50 minutes at 350°.  This was a pretty easy recipe to make.
Dulce de leche is very common in Latin America; it is also known as arequipe in Colombia, manjar in Chile, and cajeta in Mexico.  Whatever you call it, it is delicious a caramel milky spread.  I can eat it on just about anything; for me this is right up there with Nutella, the best food product ever created!  So in my food adventures I had dulce de leche in alfajores and pastel de mil hojas, both at San Antonio Bakery in Astoria.  For this cookie I used Good Housekeeping's basic cookie dough; I used a linzer square cookie cutter to make a pretty shape and for the filling I used dulce de leche.
My last cookie was for all the chocolate I enjoyed this year.  I overdosed on chocolate when I did U.S.A. Week: Desserts for the blog. Not all the cookies or brownies I ate where great, but with the brownies at Fat Witch and the Chocolate Chip cookie at Jacques Torres I found two winners.  My last cookie is a mint crinkle and it taste like a brownie cookie (brownie on the inside, cookie on the outside).  I loved this cookie and it was a pretty easy one to make.  This was also a new recipe for me, I got it from All Recipes and lucky for me I did not have to change a thing.

This year I've had a lot of fun enjoying foods from all over the world.  This blog was a great inspiration for me to revamp my traditional holiday baking and share with others some of what I've learned.
I hope you have a very Happy Holiday and a Prosperous New Year!

December 20, 2011

Mama Meena's: Filipino Food Adventure

I haven't had the chance to do much for the blog this month so I'm hoping I can do a little catch up in the latter half of this month.  This post is about Mama Meena's; a Filipino family restaurant in Woodhaven, Queens.  I had Filipino food for the first time a few years ago and I absolutely loved it, so I was looking forward to this adventure.

To start with, a refreshing melon drink made of shredded cantaloupe.  This drink has the melon juice and cantaloupe at the bottom, with shaved ice on the top.  The juice itself is really sweet, which mellows out once the shaved ice begins melting.  Okay so it's been kind of cold in NYC, maybe a little too cold for this type of drink but the drink was pretty good and I'd totally enjoy this on a nice summer day.  The best part about this drink is when you're done drinking the juice you can scoop out the cantaloupe.

For the appetizer I had the Lumpia Shanghai. These are mini egg rolls filled with ground pork.  The Filipino egg rolls have their origins in China.  However, the Filipino version has a thinner/lighter pastry and the filling is more meat than vegetables.  These are served with a sweet and sour sauce.  The lumpia shanghai are totally addicting.  I couldn't stop eating these!!!

Lumpia Shanghai
My main course was the Paksiw Na Lechon; roasted pork served in a liver sauce (served with white rice).  The pork taste slightly sour, it has garlic pieces and bay leaves in the sauce.  I very rarely like meats in stews, I didn't particularly love this one but hey I least I tried it.

Paksiw Na Lechon
My favorite part of a meal is always dessert, this was no exception.  For dessert I had Turon, which is sweet plantain in a crispy pastry (similar to the Lumpia).  The plantain was very ripe, super sweet.  This was served with Ube ice cream (purple yam).  The color of the Ube ice cream is so rich and vibrant, but it tastes like yam....hm, interesting.

Ube Ice Cream with Turon
I enjoyed my Filipino food adventure; my favorites were the melon drink and the turon.  I hope I can do a few more countries before the end of the year.  Until next time, Buen Provecho!

Mama Meena's (This place has closed since I last visited)
94-20 Jamaica Avenue
Queens, NY 11421
Phone: 718.296.5254
Closest Subway Stop: Woodhaven Blvd (J, Z)

December 17, 2011

Lomzynianka: Polish Food Adventure

I've wanted to check out Polish food for quite some time now, so I was happy to head over to Greenpoint this weekend to Lomzynianka (pronounce Lam-zhi-nyon-kah) to do just that.  This place is pretty small, the decor is homey.  It feels like you're eating in grandma's kitchen.
Salad
My meal started with a complementary salad.  It has a variety of vegetables with different dressings: pickled carrots, sauerkraut, coleslaw, red cabbage, beets, iceberg lettuce and a tomato wedge.  Half this salad tasted like coleslaw (kind of sweet & creamy), the other half tasted more tangy and peppery.  I liked the coleslaw the most.

For my entree I wanted to sample Polish cuisine so I chose the Polish platter.

Polish Platter
The Polish platter consists of: pierogies, bigos, potatoes, stuffed cabbage and kielbasa.  I've never had pierogies even though this is a pretty popular Polish and Eastern European food so I started with these first.  On the outside the pierogies taste very similar to Chinese dumplings or Italian ravioli, but in the inside they were a bit blander.  I didn't love these; I think it's an acquired taste (I like bolder flavors).  The bigos was next.  I wasn't sure how to react to this dish; I loved finding the various pieces of meat (especially the sausage) and the flavors of this stew, but I didn't love the cabbage.  The bigos tasted even better when combined with the potatoes, I like the variety in textures.  Next was the stuffed cabbage.  The first time I had stuffed cabbage was done by a Greek woman and I didn't think I would like it, but I ended up loving the dish because of all the great flavors; that version was stuffed with ground beef.  The Polish version at Lomzynianka had mostly rice with (I think) a little bit of beef and pork.  I think by the time I got to this dish I was through with cabbage so I tasted a little and moved on.  Okay the best part of this dish, hands down was the kielbasa.  The kielbasa had a nice snap when you bit into the casing and had a great garlicky taste.  I'm glad I saved this for the end, the best for last.

I left a little room for dessert.....
Chef's Blintzes
If I thought the kielbasa was the best part, the Chef's Blintzes proved me wrong.  These are made fresh to order, so I had to let them sit for a minute to cool down.  While waiting I absorbed the smells of vanilla, powder sugar and fried dough (Yum!).  The first blintze was sweet, filled with blueberries and cheese...soooo good!  The second one was sweet and slightly tart with cherries and cheese.  I wish I had the room in my belly to eat both of these cause they were delicious!!!!  Hopping on the train and going to Greenpoint is totally worth the time just to grab a bite of these.

Lomzynianka was a bit of contradictory food adventure, some food items had lots of flavors while others where a bit bland.  I now have a new place to get sausage and blintzes from.  I hope you enjoyed this food adventure, until next time Buen Provecho!

Lomzynianka
646 Manhattan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11222
Phone: 718.389.9434
Closest Subway Stop: Nassau Av (G)