Saturday, August 31, 2002
on tenterhooks. . .
taking advantage of the cool-ish weather, i made my usual pizza margherita, but with a new whole-wheat crust. i'll give you the recipe for that tomorrow.
what's most exciting is that right now, even as i type, the also-new recipe for brownies is in the oven. it's an all-cocoa recipe, no chocolate. i'm skeptical, but it's due out of the oven in just 15 minutes. after an hour's cool-down on a rack, mr. right will be the ultimate judge. . .
i'm not sure i can stand the suspense!
Friday, August 30, 2002
never say die
long-time readers know that i have been searching for a great -- no, killer -- brownie recipe for quite some time. and i've made it pretty clear that i consider the brownies from the clove cafe to be the gold standard. (note that these are available by mail order at an amazingly reasonable price!)
but i long to make my own. i've tried different recipes. and today, i ran across another, based on one by renowned pastry chef alice medrich. now the problem to my mind with a medrich recipe is 2-fold: her full-fat recipes are delicious, but unreasonably complicated for the home, while her other recipes are all low-fat. in my experience, most low-fat recipes for baked goods offer products with inferior textures and reduced flavor. this is why people end up eating much more of the low-fat food than they would of the real thing; they are searching for something and they're not getting it!
despite these drawbacks, i'm going to take advantage of what appears will be a cool, wet holiday weekend and bake these brownies for mr. right. for those of you facing a hot weekend, try the chocolate sorbet also at that link.
Thursday, August 29, 2002
really, few things in life are better than a pan bagnat on a nice crusty loaf of your home-made real bread.
it's an easy way to make a sandwich for a crowd -- just slice the whole of a miche, ciabatta, focaccia, or other flattish loaf in half lengthwise, pile with ingredients, drizzle with oil, put the top of the loaf back on, wrap the thing tight in plastic wrap, and weight with a heavy plate. in a few hours the loaf compresses; everything has mingled and soaked in the bread, bathing it in deliciousness. bathed bread -- pan bagnat.
these sandwiches are common in italy and the south of france. there are many recipes. for example, that of nice. need a more exact recipe? but with fancy italian-style canned tuna now all the rage, this article has a recipe worth checking out. you can immediately elevate this dish by copying snooty french genuis chef daniel boulud and using quail eggs in the sandwich along with freshly grilled medium-rare tuna.
Wednesday, August 28, 2002
oven of our dreams
what baker doesn't fall into a spiritual reverie when contemplating the possibility of owning his or her own real wood-fired oven?
alas, they are expensive and completely unsuitable for all of us apartment dwellers. one of the most notable proponents of the wood-fired oven, alan scott, is of course the co-author of that classic of sourdough baking, the bread builders, which i reviewed here long ago. his ovens are hand-built on the spot to suit you. a somewhat less intense choice is to go with a mugnaini oven, often advertised in the back of food magazines, such as italian cooking and living. neither of these are inexpensive, but boy are they gorgeous!
even tho' i can't have such an oven, i can dream! i can live vicariously, which this great article allows me to do. . .
Tuesday, August 27, 2002
more on amrita
devoted readers may recall recently that i learned of a new yoga center opening in manhattan, amrita yoga. i've since learned a few more details, which indicate to me that this new studio will soon emerge as one of the best in new york. . .
the center will be run by popular yoga zone teacher jodie rufty with her business partner, marjanne, a well-known restauranteur, who is also certified to teach. confirmed teachers include j. brown (yup, the punk yogi!), yoga people's rebecca feldman, jill satterfield, and jon keller. the studio will be located between 12th and 13th st. on 4th ave., just below union square, one block over from kiehl's. it will be on the second floor, above a new east-side location of the hip stone spa.
the plan is to begin with 6 classes a day; although of course that's subject to change according to the economy. opening date currently looks like the 3rd week in september, depending on how the final bits of construction go. the website should go up around that time as well.
it seems to me that the studio is being run basically by teachers, the way teachers would want it: so genuine, caring yoga instruction -- not hype or marketing -- will be at the fore. as marjanne obviously has strong business skills, i think it should be around for the long haul, with a stable financial foundation and a solid core group of teachers. in my experience, jodie has always taught an inspirational, dynamic, and ethical form of yoga; it won't be yogis behaving badly. i personally can't wait to take a class there!
Monday, August 26, 2002
skin cancer and parkinson's?
maybe we should stop drinking our coffee and start wearing it. a new study seems to indicate that rubbing a lotion containing caffeine on your skin may protect against skin cancer.
in a process called apoptosis, somehow the caffeine in the lotion finds pre-cancerous cells and selectively tells them to die. scientists aren't yet sure why; but have demonstrated the effect on mice. obviously, more testing has to happen before the effect can be fully extrapolated to humans.
this reminds me of a previous study where scientists found that caffeine -- found in both chocolate and coffee -- seems to reduce the risk of parkinson's disease. this study, again in mice, does appear to demonstrate that caffeine has some kind of selective "neuro-protective" effect.
Sunday, August 25, 2002
the flying saucer, recently voted best brooklyn hangout by new york city's republican alternative weekly, simply proves that some people never know what they're talking about, be it social security or espresso.
this funky cafe, with a neon-illuminated art-school-project klimt "kiss," and a menu of quiches and mozzarella sandwiches on ciabatta, is a terrible hangout and serves terrible coffee. yes, dear readers, i trekked all the way to atlantic avenue and nevins to see if the espresso lived up to its hype.
the interior is your average college-coffee-shop shabby chic, which could be promising. the automatic espresso machine seemed ok. the coffee was the excellent batdorf and bronson's atlantic blend (a propos, i thought). they had nice grinders. it appeared as if a good shot was in the offing.
but alas! the best coffee and equipment is for naught in the hands of a mere "person behind the counter" (pbtc). only a caring and trained barista can produce the elixir of life! this the flying saucer does not have. in fact, the surly brooklyn chicks with big hair couldn't give a flying fig about the coffee they were serving.
i politely and calmly asked for a doppio macchiato. the pbtc's glazed expression shifted a bit, and she ambled over to the machine, clearing away various shot glasses and pitchers. that's when my heart truly sank. the machine was filthy. coffee everywhere. stale coffee oils hanging about and burning in a hot commercial machine is certainly a great way to guarantee swill, and this was the situation i faced.
while the pbtc did steam milk and grind fresh, she still drew a 10-second gush of horror. i had to sigh. the perfect shot of espresso is sitting in that cafe, waiting to be realized. the owner spent $12,000 on a 3-group espresso machine, perhaps another $1,200 on 2 commercial grinders, and the atlantic blend is a premium coffee. to take all that money and just let your average pbtc throw it away seems so. . .plain dumb. i accepted the macchiato and glanced at the froth, which looked like the bubbles in a storm-tossed sea, not the shining shaving cream that signals true foam.
with much sugar, drinkable -- but only if you are forced to take refuge there because a screaming horde of psycho parrots is chasing you down the avenue with ninja razors attached to their claws. thumbs down.