Every year, my parents ask me where I’d like to go for my birthday, and every year, I usually suggest someplace I know will be rejected–previous denials have included Maze and Nobu (3 years in a row before it happened!). After reading reviews from the Times, NY Mag, and absolute raves from Bon Appetit, I asked for Battersby, in Carroll Gardens–to my surprise…they agreed!
Battersby is a tiny restaurant that only holds 18 people. We arrived promptly at 5:30…to a line. After being informed that the wait would be roughly 2 hours, we put in our name and went to a nearby bar (Battersby texts you when your table is good to go). After getting the text–and feeling like I had won the lottery–we were seated around 8pm.
Let’s start this review!
Admittedly, I tend to give Wisconsin a lot of shit. People here are slow, they can’t drive, there’s no diversity, and I can’t get halfway-decent sushi anywhere in this state. But really, that’s simply not fair–people are also painfully friendly, booze and food are dirt cheap, and they have one of the best–and somewhat unknown–cocktails in the country.
My curiosity surrounding the old fashioned (cocktail) was originally piqued after watching an episode of AMC’s outstanding series, Mad Men. You should all watch it if you haven’t had the opportunity. Now. Anyways–Don Draper was drinking an old fashioned. He seemed to be enjoying it. When I moved to Madison, the first bar here that caught my eye was, not surprisingly, The Old Fashioned. It’s located right on the capitol square, and has one of the best tap lists and food in all of Madison. But that’s not really what this is about, is it?
Wisconsin is famous for the “Brandy Old Fashioned.” It’s sweet instead of sour, and made with brandy (duh) instead of whiskey. The first time I tasted one, I was hooked. The cocktail was fantastic, and the flavors simply blended so well together. I’ve had many a brandy old fashioned since that first week in Madison, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I first attempted to make one. My roommate really wanted to make cocktails, and we thought this would be the best place to start. So, without any delay, here’s the recipe–
Brandy Old Fashioned
- 3oz Korbel brandy (2 shots-worth)
- 1 spoonful raw/turbinado sugar
- 3 dashes Angostura bitters
- 2 orange wedges
- 2 cherries
- In the bottom of the glass (before you put the ice in), muddle together the sugar, 1 orange wedge, and 1 cherry.
- Pour ice in the glass.
- Add the bitters, brandy, and Sprite, until the glass is full.
- Mix it all up
- Garnish with an orange wedge and cherry
It’s simple, really, and I’ll be honest–you can’t help but feel classy while you’re drinking this thing. I bought too many cherries, so I foresee numerous Old Fashioneds in my future. Onward!
Four months is a long time, isn’t it? Honestly, I have no excuses–I really need to start posting more. A lot more. And I will! So, in that four-month span, here are some new toys I got for my kitchen (they’ve all been utilized quite a bit, I might add):
- Clever Coffee Dripper (superior to the french press and easier than a pourover!)
- Pressure cooker – amazing. Absolutely amazing.
- Pizza cutter (I need to find it)
- Cast iron pan
- Various utensils
Alright, now that that’s over…I spent this summer in DC, where my aunt and uncle were very generous and allowed me to live with them for the better part of three months. Over that span, I did what most people would do when living in a new city for the first time–explored. And, by explored, I mean ate, drank, and spent too much money (hooray for sublettors!). As the summer was winding down, I had an opportunity to go eat at Mourayo, a Greek restaurant near Dupont Circle. I had the scallops, which were pan-seared and served over a thin slice of garlic with a dab of pistachio pesto on top, and then a side of unbelievable eggplant/cauliflower puree. The scallops were, to say the least, spectacular. I’d even venture out enough to call them orgasmic. Yes, really.
This experience–which I think about at least once a week–really turned me on to scallops. So, naturally, I had to make them myself! Not the exact dish, of course. I felt I should start pretty simple, so I turned to Mark Bittman’s superb How to Cook Everything for some guidance. Of course, I ended up putting my own twist on the dish, but I certainly can’t argue with the end result! Recipe after the break–
Wow…it’s been a while, hasn’t it? To be fair to me (and this isn’t much of an excuse), a lot has been going on. I’m currently dealing with the whole “moving halfway across the country” thing (for the next 3 months), so I’d say that’s a decent enough excuse, right? Sure. Regardless, I’m thrilled to be back on my home coast and out of the painfully slow Midwest. The alcohol prices, though, are sorely missed.
ANYWAYS, that’s beside the point. I’ve been putting off writing the final part of my Ethiopian food extravaganza, mainly because I knew this last post would be pretty massive. We have four recipes for this one and, despite the fact that the finished product looks like a cross between vomit and baby food, I can assure you that it all came out delicious. So, having said that–click below for the entire post!
Well, as usual, I’ve been behind on keeping this blog up-to-date. Personally, I blame finals and the three ungodly papers I have due. One left to go! Anyways, I’m here to talk about one thing:
Back in New Jersey, there isn’t too much authentic Mexican food. Sure, there are pockets here and there, but in comparison with what we can get in Madison? Well, it’s not even close. My friend and I have been traveling around Madison in search of the cheapest, most delicious, and the most authentic tacos. We’ve had a lot. Some places have been visited more than once. The quest, of course, still continues. However, we’ve found one place that really seems to stand above the rest (more on that later). So, without further ado, here are my Madison Tacos Rankings:
Ethnic foods. I love cooking them, but Ethiopian always seemed to be the one that managed to escape me. Going to an Ethiopian restaurant is a blast–the food is fantastic, they use a bevvy of spices, and most importantly–you get to eat with your hands! One of the hallmarks of Ethiopian food is injera, a spongy, sourdough flatbread that you use to pick up the food with. Personally, I find it delicious, and it absorbs the flavors of the various dishes.
So, anyways–injera. Injera is made mostly out of teff, a grass-like grain that is highly nutritious. This bag? Well, it was only $8 at Whole Foods! I know, madness. After doing a massive amount of research, one thing became clear–this would not be an easy undertaking. The “quick” version of injera takes five days to make. Normally, it takes at least a week. Those of you who know me know that I have the patience of a five year old…so the decision to go for five-day injera was an easy one.
Recipe after the break!
Last week, I posted about an awesome no-knead bread recipe that was incredibly easy and produced amazing results. Like I usually do, I posted it to one of my favorite websites on the internet–reddit. Specifically, I posted it to “r/cooking“, a portion of the site dedicated, not surprisingly, to cooking. Well, to say the least, my post did well. Very well. It received a ton of “upvotes” from reddit users, and then caught fire on some website called Pinterest. My website had barely been breaking double-digits in hits…until this post. Actually, I’ll just let the statistics do the talking:
On the day of my bread post, I received 3,008 hits. Now, for someone with a tiny blog that barely updates it, that’s an incredible number of visitors. As a sidenote, I hope everyone enjoyed making the bread!
Anyways, I digress–to show my gratitude to reddit for all of the hits, I decided that I’d make something. No, let me rephrase that: I decide that they could tell me what I should make. So, naturally, I posted again. The result? Well, the top comment suggested something from an underrepresented country. I asked, “What about Ethiopian food?” The response was positive.
So, where am I going with this? Next Wednesday, I’ll embark on Part 2 of this bizarre mini-series–my quest to make Ethiopian food, as requested by reddit. I’ll start by making the sourdough starter for injera, the excellent Ethiopian flatbread that accompanies most dishes. Then, for part 3, I’ll make the main course. Hell, maybe I’ll make two main courses. The only way to find out will be to check out the site!
See that right there? That’s bread. Delicious, delicious bread. Every few months, I pick up a new kitchen/cooking/baking hobby. This past month, it’s been baking bread. In the previous post, I talked about Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. If you don’t own this book, you need to buy it. Now.
You still haven’t bought it, have you? BUY IT, DAMMIT.
Anyways, back to the bread. What’s so incredible about the book (to me) is that there’s no kneading involved. It’s as simple as mixing in the ingredients, letting it rise for a couple of hours, and storing the dough in the fridge. Whenever you want to make bread, you simply pull it out of the refrigerator, rip off a piece, form the loaf, and let it sit for an hour. When you’re done, pop it in the oven and bake it (preferably on a stone). Easy, right?
Without further ado, here’s the recipe (enough for two one-pound loaves):
- 1.5 cups warm water
- 2 1/4 tsp yeast (one packet)
- 2 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
- 3 1/4 cups unbleached flour (bread flour works best here)
- Mix the water, salt and yeast
- Add in the flour and mix well, but not too vigorously. You should end up with a pretty wet dough.
- Transfer the dough to a container and let it rise for two hours, or until it’s flattens off on top.
- Store in the refrigerator until ready for use.
- Spread cornmeal on a wooden peel.
- Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour and rip off about half.
- Form a ball with the dough by pushing outward on top, inward on the bottom, and rotating about a quarter turn each time.
- Once the ball is done, let it rest on the peel for 60 minutes or so.
- After 40 minutes, turn the oven on to 450. Place a roasting pan below the baking stone and let it heat up as well.
- Let the oven heat for a total of 20 minutes–it won’t make it to the full 450.
- Liberally dust the top of the dough with flour, and make a few cuts into it using a serrated knife (this method is called “dust and slash”)
- Slide the dough from the peel onto the baking stone
- Pour one cup of very hot water into the pan.
- Let the bread bake for 30-35 minutes, or until fully (and dark) browned.
- Remove from oven and let cool. Nom away!
Wow, it sure has been a while–an entire month! Lately, I’ve been really getting into baking bread. Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois’ excellent Artisan Baking in Five Minutes a Day (buy from the link in this post!) is a book I can’t get enough of–they use an incredible, no-knead technique that produces absolutely amazing bread. It requires you to mix a batch of dough, let it rise, and then you can store it in the fridge for the next two weeks, grabbing and baking whenever you like, and with minimal effort.
Now, using a variation on their recipe, I thought it would be a great idea to try making pizza. Margherita is usually my go-to gourmet pizza style when it comes to freshness and quality. On it’s face, it’s a pretty basic pizza–tomatoes, sauce, fresh mozzarella, garlic and basil–but it’s also one of the most delicious things you can make and is sure to impress anyone who tries it. Click for the flatbread recipe and tips after the break (oh, and buy this book)!
British food is typically something I stay away from. It’s heavy, dense, and often bland. However, as an avid watcher of Hell’s Kitchen (the only reality show I watch), one particular dish has always managed to pique my curiosity–Beef Wellington. There’s something about watching Gordon Ramsay scream at chefs for their under (or over)-cooked Wellingtons that made me have an insatiable desire for this dish.
My roommate spent the past 4 months in England, and I felt that it was my duty to defer to him for this dish. We went to the grocery store and purchased the fillet tenderloin, which came in at a whopping $18/lb. I’ve never spent nearly that much on a steak, except in a restaurant, so my expectations for the dish were very high, to say the least.
The result? Well, the picture should give you a good indication–it was spectacular. This was arguably the best steak I’ve ever had that wasn’t from a restaurant, and it was cooked perfectly. If you’re willing to put in the work, I highly recommend making it! The recipe (and Gordon Ramsay yelling) is after the break–