Halloween Kitchen Gadgets & Goodies

The truth is, I don’t need any more spatulas. I think I have seven. But until last week I didn’t have any miniature FRANKENSTEIN spatulas! These days kitchen gadget retailers are finding all new ways for you to spruce up your kitchen for the holidays, and I’m eating the Halloween novelty goodies right up. I’m so excited about my black table cloth, skeleton apron, and gauzy window hangings that I might just leave them out until Christmas, about the time my parents will come over and INSIST I take them down. These are a few more kitchen-y things I’d “die for” (ha!).

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1. Zombie Head Cookie Jar – Wandering fingers will think twice before nibbling on your cookies. 2. Purple Finger Spreader – The final touch to any cheese plate. 3. 400 mL Graduated Glass Beaker – An amazing way to serve up your home brew or wicked punch, even cooler with some paper straws! 4. Uglydoll Ice-Bat Salt & Pepper Shaker – It’s just too dang cute, and his head comes off. 5. Bones Sprinkles – Add the sweet crunch of bones to your cupcakes.

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6. Scary Creature 8″ Plates – I’m not even sure I could eat off of a plate with a spider on it. 7. Halloween Printable Treat Labels – Perfect for homemade Halloween goodies! 8. Skeleton Hand Bags – These filled with white cheddar popcorn are my favorite! 9. Black Cake Stand – A little bit gothic, a little bit chic, I’d use this cake stand year-round. 10. Smoky Black Glass Plate – For a wicked party display.

Hope everyone’s Halloween plans are coming together well. Here in the greater NYC metro area we’re still out of power, but hoping to get it back soon. This whole hurricane thing is putting a kink in my blogging stride, what with no electricity and all, but hopefully I’ll be able to update again this week! xo, Jenny

This Cheese Stinks. (and rocks.)

I haven’t always been devoted to the pastry arts. There’s a chance I wouldn’t be as enthusiastic about delicious foods at all if it weren’t for dairy, which is essentially my first love. Milk, cheese, more cheese. I’m not especially picky, I’ll try any kind of cheese no matter how pungent or generic it is although I’ll probably reach for the runny triple cream more often than not. So whenever I’m walking through Whole Foods or Murray’s in Grand Central there’s a good chance I’m picking up some cheese.

Now this cheese… tastes like barbeque.

I’m totally not kidding. This is the “Harbison”, a cow’s milk cheese by Cellars at Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, VT. Upon unwrapping it, the cheese had a very strong ripe and earthy scent. Admittedly, it’s not my favorite kind of cheese usually, but like I said, I’ll try anything. After cutting into the round the delicious insides nearly oozed out, how could I resist that? I slathered a little on a pita chip cracker and was surprised and delighted. It tastes like barbeque!!! Smoky and woody, with earthy flavors and ultra creaminess to boot. Of course, the flavor is no doubt derived partially from the spruce bark wrapped around the cheese, cut from the Jasper Hill grounds. This cheese isn’t dainty, and feels just right for these chilly winter nights.

I feel like it’s also a beer drinking kind of cheese. I’d pair it with the Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout for a rich wintery indulgence, or a Thomas Hooker Nor’Easter Winter Lager to accent its woodland aromas and keep the mouth feeling crisp.

This winter isn’t just for hibernation and cheese eating though. After thinking through a couple of typical new year’s resolutions (eat better, keep my house clean, save money, etc) I settled on the resolution to eat more DELICIOUS food, push myself to experiment with cooking new things, and to take more photographs of it all. Life has changed a lot in the past three months since I dedicated my time here, but all in wonderful ways. I’m really looking forward to keeping up with it and hopefully making some images and dishes that are truly inspired. Happy New Year!

Dying for another bite: 99 miles to philly

Many months ago I was walking down 3rd Avenue on the way to something or other, and passed by 99 miles to philly, a Philadelphia style cheesesteak joint in the East Village. I scoffed, there’s no comparison to the real thing… or is there?

This past weekend we had tickets to a show at Webster Hall, so Greg and I decided to grab a quick bite before the show in the neighborhood. As we walked towards the restaurant I threatened, “If they’re serving steaks on Kaiser rolls, I’m out.”

The first thing we noticed when we walked in was the Phillies game on tv, of course. They were up and while we waited for our steaks, they racked up 3 more runs. I then immediately noticed that they were serving up their cheesesteaks on Amoroso’s Rolls. If you aren’t familiar, it’s the only roll for an honest cheesesteak. I became more hopeful. A quick look at the menu reassured me that I could order my steak with American, Provolone, or Cheez Wiz – just the way it should be, nothing fancy. Anyone who’s been to Pat’s in South Philly knows you order wit’ or wit’out (onions). I’m an extra American wit’out kind of girl. My mouth began to water.

Each second felt like a lifetime as the sound of metal spatulas scraped beef across the flat top grill and the scent of steak and onions permeated the air. When our order was up, I unwrapped the first half and dug in for a bite. It was…transcendent. I had to remind myself to stop and take a picture and wipe a dusty tear from my eye. For the next 20 minutes it all felt just like home with a cheesesteak in my hands, the Phillies on tv, and my best friend across the table.

I probably wasn’t hungry enough to eat the whole thing, but I couldn’t NOT eat the whole thing, you know? It was fantastic right down to the last crumb. And just like that I was on the streets of Manhattan again, a city that’s still not quite home – but closing the gap on those 99 miles.

99 miles to philly – Old Style Cheesesteaks
94 3rd Avenue (between 12th & 13th); (212) 253 2700/2730
Atmosphere: Philly dineresque.
Sound Level: Conversation, low television.
Price Range: $7.75 cheesesteak (meat, cheese & onions) extras $.25 – $3.50
CASH ONLY – ATM on premises

The Best of the Worst – Vacation Food

Most chefs that I’ve met will eat almost anything. They’ve got good taste, but that doesn’t mean that they’re picky. Even if it’s bad, they’ll try anything…because you just don’t know until you try. Furthermore, while professional chefs may eat and cook well now there’s still a good chance a little bit of fast food or microwave mac and cheese is comfort food.

In honor of these foods, here’s the quick roundup of some of the not-four-star but tasty foods I came across on vacation.

Vacation was kicked off at the Norwalk Oyster Festival, where I convinced myself to finally give oysters a try. To ease myself into it I ordered some fried oysters, which taste like generic fried seafood I suppose. Yummy! Next I tried a raw one , and well – I just can’t do them. After spitting out my first, last, and only raw oyster I headed back to the fried oyster booth and got another. Also, tartar sauce is pretty good. Why haven’t I tried that before?

The Marchiano’s Calzone. I’m not entirely sure this is actually a calzone, but it’s calzone-like. Sunday mornings living in the East Falls & Manayunk neighborhoods of northwest Philadelphia were some of my favorites because of this thing. After a typically obnoxious Saturday night on Main Street we’d wake up and walk down the hill to Marchiano’s Bakery for one of these delights, and wander on home in time to catch the football game. I don’t even want to begin to analyze the nutritional values of this (or lack thereof) but it’s the definition of comfort food. Unfortunately, I’ve never tasted anything like it.

The entire time we were in Montreal, we kept meaning to try Poutine. According to our trusty guidebook, “The legend is that sometime in 1957 a customer walked into Le Cafe Ideal…and asked owner Farnand Lachance to add a handful of cheese curds to his order of [fries and gravy]. He shoved the result in front of his customer and muttered “Quel poutine” – which could be roughly translated as “What a mess.” ” Finally, on the last evening of our stay we went down to the Rapido diner on the corner for a fresh plate of poutine, and were pleasantly surprised. So surprised and delighted that we nearly cleaned the plate.

After tasting them and deciding I liked them, I mentioned to Greg that it was just like cheese fries, but with gravy on them. He reminded me that it wasn’t the gravy that originally made the dish strange, but the addition of the cheese – which I’m still having a little trouble understanding.

Two Bowls of Pesto Pasta

A quick pasta dinner on a weeknight last week. Cooked spaghetti tossed with pesto and a touch of lemon juice. Chickpeas and ricotta cheese sprinkled on. With very little light left in the evening I tried to take as much advantage of what natural light was left.

Of course, taking pictures of food that you actually intend to cook with provides a tight window of opportunity to get all of your shots. On one hand it might seem like a struggle to make everything as perfect as possible, while on the other hand it forces you to get the best shot possible in the shortest period of time.

I love chickpeas. And pesto too for that matter. I have such an understanding man who patiently waits to eat while I take just a few more photos of dinner.

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