Month: August 2012

Greek Cherry-Basil Pops

One of the best things about coming home from New York City was being able to actually experience a true, suburban summer. Hearing the birds chirp, smelling freshly cut lawn and actually being able to lay outside without hearing 14 ambulances drive by are just among the list of things I love about a suburban summer in Cleveland. While I’m still in the pre-back-to-school-summer mood, I wanted to create something that would capture summer in just one taste. Alas: the popsicle. A summer dessert icon- so sweet and frozen, with all the flavors you want compacted into one swift lick. I would make popsicles.

My mom bought me POPS! Icy Treats for Everyone, by Krystina Castella at the beginning of the summer, after I raved about Jeni’s Mango Lassi Pop. I was unable to utilize the cook book in New York but was determined to make at least one of the recipes while I was home for just 10 short days. I have tweaked the recipe a little to make it my own, but it was definitely inspired by this amazing book full of more popsicle recipes than you could ever make in your lifetime. Here is my recipe for Greek Cherry-Basil Pops (inspired by Bing Cherry and Vanilla Pops):

Ingredients

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup water

1 bunch basil leaves, roughly chopped

3 cups fresh cherries, pitted and chopped

3/4 cup cherry juice

1 cup greek yogurt

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Sweet Summer Cherries

Directions

In a medium saucepan, bring the water, sugar and basil to a light boil. Allow the sugar to dissolve. Remove from the heat and let cool before straining into a bowl. Discard the basil. This will be your basil simple syrup.

In the same saucepan, simmer the cherry juice, 1/4 cup basil simple syrup and cherries over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool, then add the yogurt and vanilla extract. Stir until the mixture is completely uniform in color. Pour into six 8-ounce popsicle molds and freeze for at least six hours.

Cherries in 3 beautiful shades of pink (from left): cherries in the pot, cherries with juice and syrup simmering, cherry mixture once yogurt and vanilla were added.

Let the pops stand at room temperature for about five minutes before removing from the molds. If they are still stuck, try running the molds under hot water for a few seconds, and they should slip right out! Your result: sweet summer in one swift lick- just what I intended.

So they didn’t come out perfectly, but tasted just as sweet!

Note: if you have extra mixture, like I did, you can pour it into small ramekins and freeze for a frozen yogurt-ice cream-like treat instead!

The Grand Finale to My NYC Summer

I am very upset to be announcing that this past weekend was my final weekend living in the Big Apple. I have fallen in love with this city, and more importantly, with the food. You can get any type of food at any hour of the day, and odds are, it will be better than what you can get in any other city in this country. I have a whole Word document of restaurants I wanted to eat at this summer. Sadly I only made a dent in the list. But during my final weekend, I did some pretty decent damage. Let’s start with Saturday, shall we?

I said to myself that I wouldn’t leave NYC without a trip to Katz’s Deli. So Saturday was dedicated to that, and by “dedicated” I mean you only eat one meal at Katz’s because you will eat enough to suffice for the rest of the day. There was no question when it came to ordering: I would have the corned beef sandwich. Tender, falling apart, well seasoned, and surrounded by fresh rye bread. You really can’t ask for more. Their steak fries and pickles are superb, too. But I’m really just obsessed with this sandwich.

Can’t you see why?

On Sunday I attended my second iAdventure event- The International Food Truck and Beer Festival at NYC’s South Street Seaport. But I’m not here to tell you about that. While I enjoyed my afternoon full of food truck tastings, beer and music, two things- er, trucks, I should say- stuck out in particular. The first, Kimchi Taco Truck

Let me preface this by explaining the event. Each purchaser (from livingsocial.com) was entitled to two beers and three food truck tastings. I went with my foodie partner in crime, Lizzy. Since there were 8 food trucks to choose from, we decided to divide and conqure and get six different trucks’ samples and share them. The samples were rather… skimpy. Don’t get me wrong; they were all delicious. But a few french fries, about a quarter slice of pizza, half a dumpling, one gnocchi and half of a pretzel ball was not filling. So we decided to actually buy some lunch and share that, too. We went for the Grilled Korean BBQ Short Rib Kimchi Bowl, complete with multigrain rice, kimchi, pico de gallo, pickled daikon and cucumber kimchi, and boy, was I a happy camper afterwards. The short ribs were juicy and melted in my mouth. They were perfectly seasoned, with that unique Asian flavor. The classic kimchi was full of vinegar and spices, still with just enough crunch to remind you that its cabbage. I am a huge fan of Korean BBQ, and this meal definitely lived up to my standards.

After a day of spicy ethnic eats, Lizzy and I were looking for something to cool us down. I have been following Big Gay Ice Cream on Twitter for over a year now, after hearing about it on the Food Network. I had always wanted to try it but the truck is never near my office. Taking advantage it being Sunday, I convinced Lizzy to make the trek with me to Alphabet City to visit their storefront. The trip was well worth it. I can’t stop thinking about this soft serve. I got the American Globs- vanilla soft serve lined with pretzels and sea salt, all covered in a chocolate shell. The soft serve was so deliciously creamy without being too sweet. The pretzels and sea salt provided the perfect salt factor, especially combined with the chocolate. Biting into this massive cone was so satisfying. I am seriously dreaming to go back and get it. Lizzy got the Monday Sundae- a vanilla-chocolate twist lined with dulce de leche, Nutella and sea salt all in a waffle cone. The creamy dulce de leche worked so perfectly with the sea salt, and how can you go wrong with Nutella? This shop is literal heaven on earth (or wheels, if you go to the truck). I can’t decide if its a blessing or a curse that I’m leaving New York on Wednesday, because I would be genuinely scared for my health if I had year-round access to this ice cream.

Monday Sundae (left) & American Globs

So there you have it, folks. My final weekend in NYC wrapped up into one post about three incredible eats. Until next summer….

A Letter to NYC Restaurants

Dear New York City Restaurants,

Hello. My name is Lauren and I am a food blogger. While I have had some fabulous dining experiences spendng my summer in NYC, not all is fine and dandy in my book. Don’t get me wrong; I have eaten like a queen. I have experienced new flavors and textures that I am officially in love with (Momofuku’s Pork Buns, Devi’s Manchurian Cauliflower and Southern Hospitality’s Pulled Pork, to name a few) and have been reintroduced to some of my pastime favorites (Cafeteria’s Truffle Risotto and Mayahuel’s Croquetas bring me straight back to my time in Spain). However, being a food blogger, I am always thinking about my next post, which is where you, New York City Restaurants, pose a problem.

I have been braced with the curse of dim lighting. Lighting so dim, I can barely see the menu, let alone what I’m eating. I understand the appeal in the ambiance of dim lighting, but for a food blogger, it’s our worst nightmare. As the iPhone 4S has been ranked as one of the best cameras for food photography, that is what I use for most of my work. However, I am always forced to make that awkward decision to either turn my flash on and create a lightening bolt-like scene for the whole restaurant to stare at me, or to keep it off but have poor quality photos that require way too much editing… or no photos at all. Luckily, Instagram has aided lightening up dark photos with the “add sunlight” feature, but not enough to the point where your dim lighting can slide.

So please, New York City Restaurants, you are the food capital of America. You possess more amazing restaurants within a square mile than my hometown of Cleveland has altogether. Don’t lose your impeccable restaurant experience rep due to food bloggers’ complaints. And for the sake of all of us, please turn the lights on.

Yours Truly,

Lauren