froyo

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!

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My Lucky Stomach, According to My iPhone

With great apps like Instagram and Foodspotting, and the iPhone 4S being named one of the best cameras for food photography, us food bloggers have no use for a digital camera anymore. Since I’m only in NYC for three short months, I’ve been trying to get to as many note-worthy restaurants as possible, and documenting everything that enters my stomach. Here are some of the many delicious meals and novelties I have gotten to experience and photograph so far, broken up into categories.

Ethnic Fare

(from top left, clockwise) Poached Artichoke Quesadilla with Idiazabal Cheese, Roasted Sweet Corn and Poblano Crema at Hell’s Kitchen in Hell’s Kitchen (great marketing strategy on their part), Japanese Barbeque at Gyu-Kaku in East Midtown (conveniently located in the same building as the EDWRR Office), the ever-famous Steamed Pork Buns at Momofuku Ssam Bar (followed by Cereal Milk ice cream, of course) and black bean and plantain croquetas at the modern Mexican tiny little basement of a restaurant, Mayahuel.

You Can’t Come to NYC Without Trying….

(from top left, clockwise) The entire variety of Baked by Melissa Cupcakes (my favorite being the PB & J), a grilled cheese from Little Muenster (I highly recommend the Taleggio, Fontina, Cremini & Shiitake Mushrooms if you like mushrooms as much as I do), a popsicle from La Newyrokina and pickles (among many other things) from Katz’s Deli (variety of sweet, sour and green tomatoes. The perfect snack on a hot summer day… besides popsicles of course!)

Sweet Indulgences

(from top left, clockwise) Pineapple punch- the perfect pregame. Nuff said. Soft serve at the Jersey shore, frozen yogurt from 16 Handles (or forty carrots, or pinkberry, or yogo, or red mango, you get the point), and the Gran Torrino at Eataly’s Cafe Lavazza- a cocktail of hot chocolate, a double shot of espresso, Borghetti liqueur, whipped cream and coffee beans.

And Finally, The Beautiful Views of NYC

(from top left, clockwise) the view from The W Residences at Ground Zero, a line for a matinee show on Broadway, pit masters doin’ their thang at the Big Apple BBQ, and Times Square at night. Oh New York, how I love you so.

Restaurants and Resources

Hell’s Kitchen

Gyu-Kaku

Momofuku Ssam Bar

Mayahuel

Baked by Melissa

Little Muenster

La Newyorkina

Katz’s Delicatessen

16 Handles

Eataly

Big Apple BBQ

A Culinary Guide Through Amsterdam

Last weekend I had the great pleasure of visiting what has become my favorite city while abroad thus far, Amsterdam. Now I know what you’re thinking- red light district and legal weed. But if you’ve learned one thing about me it should be that my first and foremost priority while visiting an unknown city is to scope out its food scene. And scope out I did.

The Dutch may be known for their pancakes, chips (or french fries in America), and cheese- and believe me we got our fare share of that- but Amsterdam has plenty of international cuisine to offer, too. Every meal was truly delicious, and I can only thank my lucky stars that I am not studying there for the semester, because I’m pretty sure I would be obese by now (half kidding…).

We arrived in a ravenous state and found a cute little lunch shop on one of the ‘De Negen Straatjes’ or Nine Streets, known for their shopping and restaurants. Mokka, as the sign suggests, serves coffee, lunch and lasagna. Perfect for starving tourists. Chelsea and I shared a beautiful salad of smoked chicken, tomatoes, avocado and pine nuts with a light yet savory balsamic-y citrus-y dressing.

Michelle ordered a sandwich on rich, sweet whole wheat bread with pesto, roasted red peppers, pine nuts, avocado and olives

Both dishes were delicious. Speaking of bread, Holland has this truly incredible bread called Waldkorn bread. It contains a ton of cereals and grains, and is dark in color, like pumpernickel. I had it as toast one morning and I have been obsessed ever since. You should google it and find out where you can buy it. I know I will. Moving on…

Now for some meals that are more familiar to Holland- omelets, pancakes and yes, those heavenly chips.

Amsterdam has pancake restaurants on about every street corner, but we were advised to go to Pancake Bakery by a friend who went the previous week. It is a very warm and welcoming restaurant with dim lighting and an open kitchen. The food goes along just perfectly with the atmosphere and we were definitely full until lunch. Chelsea and I shared a ham, cheese and tomato omelet (we have been craving omelets since we arrived in Spain!) which had the perfect balance of creamy, gooey cheese, sweet juicy tomato and salty ham.

We satisfied our sweet tooth with an apple and banana pancake covered in cinnamon and powdered sugar. Dutch pancakes are very, very thin- thinner than crepes! They are crispy and a little burnt on the edges (just how I like ’em) and go well with pretty much everything. The bananas gave the pancake the classic Jack-Johnson-Banana-Pancakes flavor and the apples were perfectly cooked and went perfectly with the cinnamon.

You also can’t cross many streets without encountering at least one chips stand, and we couldn’t resist the temptation (hey, when in Amsterdam, right?). These aren’t any ordinary chips, though. They are fat, juicy steak fries overflowing a paper cone, doused in whatever condiment of your choosing. From basic mayonnaise to more exotic toppings such as- well I’ll let the suspension hang for a little- anything you dip these chips in is superb, and somehow works wonderfully.  The first cone of chips we got had mayonnaise, onions and a curry ketchup. The ketchup was both sweet and savory, with a little spice from the curry and gave me a huge craving for Indian food. The mayonnaise was rich and creamy but not artificial tasting like we have in the States, and the onions- while I usually cringe at the sight of raw onions- were the perfect tangy bite.

The following day our chips craving was back. We kept passing people on the streets with purple paper cones of chips, so we sought them out, assuming they had to be the best. We assumed correctly. We chose the following condiments per the cashier’s recommendation: mayonnaise, onions and- wait for it- peanut butter! Strange, right? When the cashier first told me that this combination was their most popular, I made a face of disgust. However, after some deliberation and the reminder that You Only Live Once (my generation’s new favorite catchphrase, in other words, YOLO), we went for it. The sweet peanut butter worked so wonderfully with the creamy mayonnaise and spicy onions. It reminded me a little of a Thai or Chinese dish with peanut sauce. I know I tend to like really weird combinations of food (you’re talking to the girl who puts curry in her guacamole, scrambled eggs, chocolate!) but in all honesty, I think anyone would have liked this. I can only hope I will get another chance to eat these heavenly chips again.

So now that I was officially craving Indian food, we did some research and landed upon the most fantastic Indian restaurant in Amsterdam. Indian food in Amsterdam? I know it sounds a bit strange, but it was by far the best Chicken Tikka Masala I have ever tasted. It was nutty, but sweet, but spicy, but smooth. The chicken was tender and rich. Words do not to this meal justice. The meal was a bit pricey, but well worth it if you like Indian food. Now I would like you to take this opportunity to drool a little. (From the bottom left going clockwise: chicken tikka masala, basmati rice, naan bread, grilled vegetables, chicken curry)

By this point you’re probably thinking that I literally ate my way through Amsterdam, but we got some sight seeing in, too. Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House, Vondelpark and, last but not least, the Heineken Museum! This was my favorite tourist attraction, not just because of the culinary aspect but also because it was interactive, fun and came with three free beers! From learning how the beer is made, to seeing the actual vats and horses, to playing DJ cames and taking Face in Hole photos, the museum was fun and lively. I also learned a thing or two about beer, and have a new appreciation for Heineken (being newly 21 and all, how can I resist?).

This is a mixture of malted barley liquids and water, called wort. It tastes like liquid toast!

Heineken bartender pouring up the glasses!

And finally, two of my favorite foods from my favorite food group, dairy: cheese and frozen yogurt. Amsterdam was chock full of cheese shops, offering a wide variety of herbed, smoked, and pure goat, sheep and cow’s milk cheeses, and, oh yeah, TONS of samples. There was cheese…

On cheese…

On cheese

And we basically ate our weight in it. It was heaven.

Finally, after roaming the city for a good two hours, we found our beloved frozen yogurt at a shop called Frozz. The yogurt was tart and creamy, but not watery how you find it in some shops. They also had stroopwafel and carmelized, chopped nuts as toppings. If you have never tried a stroopwafel go to your nearest Trader Joes and buy them now.

Strawberries, bananas and caramelized nuts!

Altogether, my experience in Amsterdam was superb. The culinary scene exceeded my expectations and I hope to return soon!

Restaurant References:

Wok to Walk

Chipsy King

Memories of India

Pancake Bakery

Jamin

Frozz

Culture & Cuisine

Week two in Sevilla has lead me to more touring, eating and loving life.

I had no idea there was so much history in this city, or such good food and beautiful views that you can experience at the same time!

This week we toured El Catedral, the world’s third largest church, and largest Gothic church. It was simply beautiful. In the center you will find La Giralda, a belltower that overlooks the entire city of Sevilla. Interestingly enough, in order to climb the bell tower, you will embark on a winding ramp, rather than a staircase, because horses used to be brought to the top, and goodness knows how well horses can climb stairs.

After I finally caught my breath, it was taken away again by the magnificent view of Sevilla. You can literally see everything, at an amazing angle. And when the clock strikes on the hour, you will be the first to hear the bells go off… right above your head. Here are some pictures from my tour:

inside the cathedral

view from the top of La Giralda

view of La Plaza de Toros (bull ring) from La Giralda

In between all my touring, I’ve eaten some incredible meals worth photographing. I’ve fallen in love with revueltas, or scrambled eggs with vegetables and serrano ham, but more ham and veggies than eggs. My drink of choice (other than café con leche) has become tinto de verano, a red wine spritzer with either orange or lemon juice (orange, please!). And my friends and I have began the battle of the frozen yogurt shops, Llao Llao vs. Yogurtlandia. Llao Llao is more of a traditional frozen yogurt shop, with tart yogurt and plenty of fruit and granola-like toppings. Yogurtlandia, however, brings the creaminess of soft serve together with liquid toppings such as Nutella, Pistachio or my personal favorite, Turrón. It really depends what you’re looking for, but I could settle for either just about any day of the week.

Pan Mediteraneo. Toasted bread with smooth aioli, juicy pork, salty cured Serrano ham and a fried egg. One word: NOM

We needed a break from Spanish Tapas and found an amazing Italian restaurant, Casa Nostra. My Pizza Vegetal had tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, olives, artichoke hearts and some of the best mozzarella cheese I have ever tasted!

The Battle of the Froyo Shops Part I: Llao Llao's Sanum (parfait) with yogurt, three types of fruit, two crunches, honey and one salsa

Battle of the Froyo Shops Part II: Yogurtlandia's yogurt with pistachio (not pictured but it's there!) and turrón toppings, and crumbled amaretti cookies

Me enjoying a delicious lunch of revueltas with asparagus and ham, and a beautiful salad with shrimp, hearts of palm, avocado, artichoke hearts and more!

So I’d say I’m having a pretty amazing cultural and gastronomic experience abroad. But I’ll wait for you to be the judge, when your mouth finally stops watering!