Monday, August 30, 2010

Stumptown Coffee Roasters


Stumptown Coffee Roasters invaded the Ace Hotel in Manhattan in 2009.  It was a day Mike and I eagerly awaited and could not wait to make our way downtown for our very own cup.

One year later, we finally found ourselves standing outside the Ace Hotel, ready to be drawn into the warm shop by the strong, but lovely, scent of freshly ground and brewed coffee.


Having already enjoyed our requisite morning cups of coffee, we decided a small, powerful espresso would be just right.

The baristo handed us two small cups of water to cleanse our palates, as he created just the perfect brew for our order.

The result was the thickest, strongest cup of espresso I have ever enjoyed.  Despite its strong flavor, there was no trace of bitterness to be detected.


On the way out, we splurged on a pound of coffee to enjoy during the following week.  After feeling a bit lost, another very helpful baristo came around the counter to offer some clarity and a few words of advice.

Mike and I decided on Guatemala Finca El Injerto, Bourbon Varietal, whose scent filled every fiber of my purse and occasionally drifted up to my nose throughout the evening.

It made for a quite delicious and enjoyable cup of coffee on Sunday morning.

Ready to go try your own very own cup?

Stumptown Coffee Roasters
18 West 29th Street, Suite 3
New York, NY 10001
(212) 679-2222

Friday, August 27, 2010

Baked Alaska: White Nectarine Ice Cream with Brown Butter Pound Cake


The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. 

Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.


The beautiful thing about making a Baked Alaska is the ability to create any flavor combination you can imagine.

In this challenge, bakers were required to use the brown butter pound cake, but given the freedom to use any ice cream flavor - just as long as it was homemade.

Brown butter lends a very toasty, nutty flavor to its component, so I was initially a bit unsure what ice cream flavor to pair with it, keeping in mind the dessert was still being served during the summer heat.


Luckily, I stumbled upon beautiful white nectarines at the farmer's market and decided to create a beautiful, lightly pink ice cream from the juicy fruits.

I spooned the freshly spun ice cream, still slightly soft, straight from the ice cream machine into the little bowls prepared with a layer of plastic wrap.  I leveled the ice cream off with the side of a small offset, covered the base with the overhanging plastic wrap and placed in the freezer.

With the ice cream part of the dessert prepared, it was time to brown some butter for the pound cake.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sweet Corn Muffins


Here in Manhattan, the Union Square Greenmarket has blessed its customers this summer with the sweetest, most tender corn imaginable.

Fresh corn is always plentiful and delicious in the summer months.  A perfect ear of corn instantly takes me back to the summer dinners I enjoyed with my family.


The kernels are so incredibly juicy and sweet.  Corn has been at the base of many of my summer salads this season - quickly grilled or lightly sauteed with an equally delicious tomato.

But this year's crop has been the most succulent I can recall.  In fact, Mike has taken to eating the kernels straight from a freshly husked ear of corn.

"!" he exclaims, barley audible between each mouthful.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Watermelon-Lime Vodka Granite


During the summer months, I rarely desire a heavy dessert at the end of any meal.  Instead, a perfectly ripe piece of fruit or a refreshing sorbet seem to be just perfect.

So I guess it goes without saying that I also do not desire to spend a large amount of time in my kitchen creating a dessert during these months.

My kitchen is the size of most walk-in closets and does not benefit from air conditioning.  So creating intricate, delicate or otherwise fussy desserts in the summmer is not exactly an option.


Enter granite - a quick, simple and fuss-free process yields an icy, refreshing end to any meal.

Using watermelon juice, with a touch of lime juice and a splash of vodka, I was able to create a perfectly summer flavor combination, in less than 5 minutes preparation time.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lemon Verbena Water Ice


The summer days are dwindling away, although the hot, humid summer air seems to be holding on for dear life.

At night, when the setting of the sun offers a few hours of relief from the heat, a lightly sweetened, fragrant dessert offers the perfect conclusion of the day.


A simple water ice always reminds me of my younger summer days, which I enjoyed between catching lightening bugs with my little sister.

Since neighborhood ice cream trucks, as well as lightening bugs, are noticeably absent here in Manhattan, the creation of such water ices are left completely in my hands.

Lemon verbena, an herb whose leaves are scented with the fresh, clean scent of lemon, is a welcome addition to flavor the syrup before it is frozen.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Homemade Cracker Jacks

Last night, Mike and I met for a date.  A date on which we would remain enemies until the very end of the night.  A date on which we exchanged glares instead of loving glances, snappy comments instead of loving words.

But that is to be expected between a couple comprised of a die-hard Yankees fan and die-hard Red Sox fan.

The problem of the evening, however, is that the game was in New York, not in my beloved, cozy Fenway Park.  As you might suspect, Yankees fans are not big on Red Sox fans crashing their stadium.

Not even tall, blonde females.

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