Monday, June 18, 2012

Out of the Kitchen: A la cart

Rice and bean burrito with avocado

Today, I get to hip you to a great new food outlet that you probably haven't heard of yet, 'cause it just opened a couple of weeks ago, and it's in Saugerties. But bear with me here, 'cause if you're in the area, it's totally worth it (and honestly, even if you're not in the area, it's only a few hours of driving and a few bucks in tolls to go check it out).

My fiancé peers inside the cart while chatting with the owner

On a recent sojourn south, we stopped by the Wholey Moly food cart, which is on Ulster Avenue outside of a hardware store -- from the north, get off of the Thruway at Saugerties, take a left and then another left onto Ulster Avenue, and it's just a little bit past the railroad tracks on the right.

The menu

The menu is small and reasonably priced. It's also mostly vegetarian so far. If you're a meat-eater, try to get there on Thursday, Friday or Saturday, when there's a special meat of the day on offer. But honestly, I'm a meat-eater, and I didn't really miss it here; I had a rice and bean burrito with avocado, and it was delicious, very flavorful and filling, stuffed with rice, black beans, tomato salsa, sour cream, shredded cheese and fresh avocado slices.

If I lived in the area, I'd probably eat here all of the time; the food is unpretentious, the flavors are delicious and the prices are more than fair. As it is, the Wholey Moly cart would make a great stop if you get hungry during a Thruway trip (and it's way tastier and cheaper than anything you'll find at a rest area, that's for sure).

Friday, June 15, 2012

Out of the Kitchen: Yes, my liège...

Liège waffle

To all of those who think that the only good place in New York to find good international food is New York City, I say ha, no, think again. The liège waffle, a Belgian treat known to few Americans (but sold by one notable food truck in NYC), has arrived in the village of Ballston Spa. And it is good... very good.

When Groupon had a deal for the Iron Roost, a new, waffle-focused cafe in Ballston Spa, I jumped at it, eager to find a new good breakfast spot (I'm always looking for those) and curious as heck about their menu, 'cause on it was a liège waffle (pronounced, at least by the counter staff, as "lee-AYj"), something I'd only heard about in foodie circles but had never seen on a menu, aside from the aforementioned NYC food truck. They're a largely novel food for Americans, and they sounded good, so I had to try one.

Of course, I couldn't just get one waffle; I had to try out a balanced meal (and after all, it was breakfast time, and I was hungry). So I got the "Southwestern Fiesta," sort of like a breakfast burrito but wrapped up in a savory waffle.


It was pretty tasty, and though the portion looked small (as did the side of home fries, which were adequately cooked), it was filling. I think this is one of those situations where we've become so accustomed to mammoth portions we can't finish that our sense of proportion is all out of whack; when this was delivered to our table, I thought, "hm, that's it?", but by the time I was done eating, I was pleasantly full.

But this trip was only sort of about filling my stomach with breakfast food. The real motivation here was the liège waffle.

So how was it?

Waffle nirvana

Really, really, really good. It was crispy and carmelized in all the right ways, without being burned, and the crunchy bits of pearl sugar created a nice textural contrast. There was a bit of spice going on in there, too, just a hint, nutmeg perhaps, something to create a warm depth of flavor without being blatant about it. It was delicious, and I was sad to eat the last bite and have it be gone.

Needless to say, I'm going to have to make this one of my regular breakfast spots. Perhaps you should, too.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cinnamon coffee cake

Cinnamon coffee cake

Sometimes, serendipity starts with laziness.

I was invited to a friend's house for breakfast recently, and not wanting to turn up empty-handed, I started searching about for coffee cake recipes. But while many looked good, all of them would require a trip to the store, because I didn't have either buttermilk or sour cream in the house. (Alright, I could've made clabbered milk, but like I said, I was feeling lazy.) This really didn't seem right to me: Surely, a basic coffee cake should be something you can pull together from your pantry, something fairly simple and made with things you already have in the house.

And then, I came across this recipe. And sure, it would take a little bit of extra work, what with the whipping of the egg whites, but it promised that the results would be worth it. And it's from the Pioneer Woman -- she usually knows her stuff.

The results, I must say, were delicious, even though I was really skeptical while putting it into and taking it out of the oven. For one, the amount of topping called for here is downright absurd (but oh, so delicious). And for another, while her cake rises up around the topping, creating a buckle-like effect, mine mostly stayed put underneath the topping -- the only thing I can think of is that my egg whites weren't whipped enough, because while I did whip them thoroughly, I think they might've fallen a bit by the time I added them. But y'know, it didn't matter. This cake still came out delicious. This recipe's a keeper.

Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Adapted from the Pioneer Woman

3/4 c butter, softened
2 c sugar
3 c flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 c milk
3 egg whites

3/4 c butter, softened
3/4 c flour
1 1/2 c brown sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon

1. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
2. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Set aside.
3. Beat together the butter and sugar. Beat in the flour mixture and the milk, a bit of each at a time, until combined. Then, gently fold in the beaten egg whites.
4. Scrape into a greased 9-by-13 pan.
5. Cut together the topping ingredients until crumbly, then sprinkle over the cake batter.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until no longer jiggly in the center. (I used the toothpick test to be sure.)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Cookie dough truffles

Cookie dough truffle

It seems to me like with the advent of summer (well, summer as we know it, anyway, much as the science books say it's still spring), people are craving all-American classics, judging by the amount of chocolate chip cookie recipes that have been going around online lately. And y'know, that did sound good. But these sounded even better: Chocolate chip cookie dough bites, no heating up the oven (and the house) necessary, and totally egg-free so they're safe to eat.

The only heating at all involved here is to melt candy coating for the outsides. Most people could just use the microwave, stopping frequently to stir. But most people probably don't have broken microwaves like I do. I had to rig up a double-boiler system. If you don't have a working microwave, either, put a little bit of water in a small saucepan and bring it to a simmer, then set a glass bowl (that's bigger than the top of the pan) inside the pan, making sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Put the candy coating in the bowl and stir occasionally until melted.

These are so worth making, 'cause they take minimal effort (even with the double-boiler) and are crazy delicious. I ate two before I cut myself off, and I could've probably just kept eating them until they were gone. Instead, I brought them to work, where my coworkers dubbed them "crack." :)

Cookie Dough Truffles
Adapted slightly from Bakerella

1/2 c butter, softened
1/4 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 c flour
1/2 c mini chocolate chips
Chocolate candy coating (or regular chocolate chips, though the candy coating is easier to work with)

1. Beat together the butter and the sugars until thoroughly combined. Beat in the milk, vanilla and salt. Beat in the flour on low until combined. Stir in the mini chocolate chips.
2. Roll into 1-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. Pop the whole pan into the freezer for half an hour or so, until firm.
3. Melt the candy coating (or chocolate) in the microwave or using a double-boiler, then dip the balls into the coating and place on another cookie sheet lined with waxed paper.
4. Chill or freeze until set. If you wish, repeat the dipping process to get a thicker shell (I didn't bother).