Archive for September, 2012

Fermentation: Science Meets Food in the NYT!

So I happen to grab a copy of the NYT yesterday on campus knowing that Wednesdays are the best days because of the dining section.  Behold, this is what I saw:

Amazing photo from the New York Times

Someone who’s not so microbially inclined might look at it and say ‘Ew, what is that? Why are they showing bacteria in the Dining section??’  I, who happens to be taking a microbiology lab course right now, look at it and say ‘Wow what awesome bacteria! Fermenters?’ and would want to do some CHEST (color, height, edge, size, texture) descriptions of those babies and do some re-streaks to get some pure culture plates.  I brought the article in to lab today to show to Barb, the nicest lab instructor ever, and she loved it.  I mean really, how could you not?

As if it couldn’t get any better, the article is about Sandor Katz who is somewhat of a fermentation guru who is checking out fermented goods at David Chang’s Momofuku’s Noodle Bar!  *dies* I have yet to go to any of the Momofuku establishments but they are definitely on my bucket list!  The talk of the fermented goods makes me hungry: kimchi (dur) and pistachio miso.  The R&D kitchen sounds like a foodie scientist’s dream!

The article takes and interesting twist revealing that Mr. Katz is HIV positive.  He states it’s possible that harnessing the probiotic goodness of fermented foods could be contributing to reducing side effects of meds.

I just had to share the excitement that I felt when this interaction between food and science (that also happens to be very applicable to my life right now) was featured in the dining section!  Not sure about you, but it makes me want to go eat some kimchi…

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Bread Puddin

I had leftover rolls/roll bits in the freezer for a loooong time.  I don’t really care to saw how long because it would sound really unappetizing.  A waterpolo potluck came up and I saw a window of opportunity to use this frozen bread!  Bread pudding is delicious, no question about it.  What I love even more is that uses something you could say is ‘past its prime’ and turns it into something so scrumptious you would never know it.

The bread:

thawed out bread

I’m come away from this learning that bread freezes very well.  I tasted a bit just to make sure it wasn’t awful and it tasted like bread.  I actually had to stop myself from eating too much to be honest.  There were a few really dried, fridge tasting bits around the edges and it just ripped those off.

I used a bread pudding recipe that came up when I googled ‘bread pudding’ and modified it a bit.  So based off of the allrecipes.com Bread Pudding II, here’s the ingredients:

  • thawed, frozen bread
  • 3 T butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 7 med eggs beaten
  • 2 cups milk (I used SO Delicious coconut milk because that’s what was in the fridge)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t vanilla extract

Super easy.

1) Preheat oven to 350 F.

eggy, bready

2) Rip up the bread into small pieces and put into a pan.  The original recipe uses an 8×8 square baking pan and I used ~10inch round baking pan.  I figured I had about 1 1/2 times as much bread as the original recipe used so I scaled things accordingly.

3) Drizzle the melted butter over the bread and sprinkle the dried cranberries and chocolate chips on top.

4)Mix the remaining ingredients together in a bowl and pour over the bread in the pan.  Use a fork to poke the bread around to make sure it all gets coated.  I kinda turned them over and it also helped to get some of the cranberries and chocolate mixed in.

5) Bake for about 40 minutes or until the top is springy when poked at.

 

finished product!

Isn’t she a beauty??!  The outside is crispy and tastes more like bread, but you dive into the center and it’s a custardy goodness that melts in your mouth!  It was almost finished at the potluck I went to.  There was just enough for me to eat the rest for breakfast this morning =).  My friend who doesn’t like bread pudding even said it wasn’t so bad.  I’m not sure it took me so long to make this but it’s finally done!  I will definitely be making it again.

close up, smile puddin!

Ready for the Week!

This weekend was pretty good.  I did a Suicide Prevention Walk yesterday morning (5 miles), hung out with friends, managed to not drive at alllll today, and cooked food for the week ahead.

oodles of peanutty soba noodles

I find that cooking during the week can be difficult sometimes and it’s great to just wake up and have something ready to take for lunch.  I made the above noodles which were yummy and some mediocre fried rice.  I used a Guy Fieri recipe for Peanut Soba Noodle Salad that I had alllmost all the ingredients for!  Amazing, I know.  I figured it’s one of those recipes where it’s okay to guesstimate the measurements without heinous repercussions.  I only cooked about 2/3 of a pound of soba so I had some extra peanut sauce in the end, but hey, maybe I’ll make some spring rolls later in the week?  Bah, the point of this was to not have to cook for a while…  Oh well, the only other problem is actually eating all this food.  I have a whole 4+ servings of peanut noodles and a giant bowl of fried rice to eat through this week.

Happy Eatings.

ricee

New York State Fair

Another first this labor day weekend was a trip to the great New York State Fair.  I had heard that the NYS fair was good but had never had the opportunity to go.  You really have to experience it for yourself.

plethora of food signs

Not only for the food, but also for the bunnies, cows, crafts, concerts, and activities.  There were so many animals…  cows, sheep, bunnies, chickens, other fowl, goats, and on.

lionhead bunny! there was this poster outlining how the lionhead bunny is a result of a mutation in ‘x’ gene and how it’s recessive so that means xyz… these people are serious about their bunnies!

All the animals were for show and they had all different breeds, colors, shapes, sizes of these animals.  Most people don’t normally see cows just chillin in a giant building with hundreds of other cows.  I saw someone literally blow drying a cow’s hair? fur? I assume to get ready for the show.  They were pretty cute and bony…

chillin dairy cows + boy…

And of course the udders…

udders…

I don’t really understand how they’re able to walk around with such udderly big udders.  And it is a bit strange to actually see where your milk comes from…  It’s so removed from the cow in a gallon jug that it’s easy to forget it ever came from an animal.  I don’t think that’s really a positive for our food system.

Other highlights:

I got to hold a chick at the 4-H booth!

chicky!!

There was a cheese carver and cheese samples.

she carvin the cheese

sample o feta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The butter sculpture in the ‘dairy products’ building.  They had I ❤ Milk for sale for 25 cents and lots of ice cream.

the butter sculpture

And the food!

mo food

We ate gyros, bloomin onions, ice creams, and fried clam strips.  The food was inescapable and any type of fair food you could ever dream of from roasted corn and wine slushies to chocolate covered bacon and $1 baked potatoes (the line for which is literally 100ft).

maple soft serve

blackberry vanilla twist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The maple soft serve was so rich and creamy your tongue was swimming through it and I love any blackberry flavored ice cream.

bloomin onion

Gotta have something fried.

You could go to the fair everyday it was open and not eat the same thing twice.  Plus, some of the prices are actually reasonable like a $2 soft serve at Byrne Dairy.  At the other end there’s the $9 gyro that’s still delicious.

I don’t even have pictures of the rides but of course my brother wanted to go on the spinny-est of them.  Is it sad when you feel old when you’re in your 20s?  My brain cannot handle those rides like when I was 10.  *sigh* youth

There are also free concerts every night.  The Band Perry was playing the day we went and I was so excited because I was obsessed with “If I Die Young” at work literally the week before.  Unfortunately, the concert started at 8pm and after being there since noon the rest of my family was to tired to stick it out so I didn’t even get to hear them play it.

They have other ‘headliners’ as well like monster trucks and the demolition derby which I’ve heard is quite the amusement.  Good ole Amurica, running cars into each other till they die.

Overall, it’s like a better fun, more diverse, cheaper, temporary, amusement park.  Parking is a breeze with a bazillion shuttle buses running around.  The worst part was the lines for the women’s bathroom…  It really was quite the experience with such a seemly unrelated set of experiences: pigs, the Space Roller, funnel cake, and demolition derby?  In any other place it would make absolutely no sense, but at the NYS fair it’s all just right.

The HEIGHTS

I’ve graduated and still am in Ithaca and there are still restaurants I haven’t been too!  The family came to visit for the holiday weekend and my dad suggested The Heights Cafe & Grille after perusing the interweb.

I may have a new favorite restaurant in Ithaca… Let me show you.

a whopping calamari appetizer and beet salad!

There was also bread, pita, and garlic hummus and we figured two appetizers would be good for four people.  This is the biggest appetizer serving of calamari I have ever been served in my life!  We stupidly asked for more bread right before the apps came out and we couldn’t even touch it we were digging into the calamari so fast.  Couldn’t even finish all the calamari to save room for the rest of the meal.  Not only a giant serving but perfectly crispy calamari with a chunky thousand island-ish tartar sauce.

Oh yeah, and the entrees came with salads choice of arugala or cesear.  I knew there was something missing in my pictures…  The portions were pretty generous with those as well.  Lots of dressing though.

The mains were as follows:

braised short ribs

burger

branzino

scallops with gnocchi

The scallops and gnocchi were to die for!  My mom who ‘doesn’t like gnocchi’ was a fan of the delectably soft potato dumplings and the scallops were just like scallops should taste: sweet and buttery.

Branzino was also good.  Not like the most amazing fish I have ever tasted but nothing to complain about.  Is it sad that I now think of the new Spiderman movie where Gwen Stacie’s mom makes branzino for dinner with Peter comes over to her fancy NYC apartment for dinner?  She did say it about a thousand times “My mom’s making branzino for dinner, braaannzino.”

Burger delicious and also giant.  There seems to be a theme here for the portions.

Spare ribs were also good, but I feel like there could have been more flavor incorporated into the meat.  It just be that I’m used to calbi when it comes to spare ribs?  I was slightly underwhelmed nonetheless.

Last but not least, desssert!

chocolate souffle with a frozen berry terrine

On the menu with entrees there was a little blurb that mentioned that the chocolate souffle had to be ordered with the entrees for there to be enough time to bake.  So we foolishly thought that that was the only dessert and ordered two to split.  Well, there were other desserts on their dessert menu but the chocolate souffle was delicious and the frozen berry terrine was cool.  I liked the figs most in the terrine and I think it’s my first terrine ever!

I have to mention the coffee though.  Instead of just the cream and sugar that usually comes with coffee there was a whole plate of rock sugar on a stick, cinnamon sticks, mini chocolate chips, raw sugar, and whipped cream to add into your coffee…  It was the most amazing coffee service ever and they didn’t even charge it since only my mom ordered it.

The website says it’s casual and it’s the most casual fine dining type place I’ve been to.  There are back servers and servers and the decor is elegant and understated.  The portions though were waaaaaaay bigger than I was expecting at a fine dining type place.  Someone at the table next to us ordered the steak and it was a giant pile of meat.  It might have been the way they cut it up and piled it onto the plate but it looked huge.

The prices were also more on the fine dining end but not ridiculous.  The burger was the cheapest entree at $19 but my big teen brother didn’t even finish it.  It was so much food we had leftovers which are now sitting in my fridge :).

Note to self, maybe order one appetizer for four people since there’s the bread and salad before the entree and there is more dessert than just the souffle.  Oh, and also order coffee even though I don’t really drink coffee but they give you so much stuff to add it is amazing.  If there’s one thing I can assure you, it’s that I will definitely be coming back to the Heights!