20150510_143924

I know of no better way to start off a meal than with fried yucca and chicarron. Flores Family Restaurant is one of the few places you can get this fab appetizer.
20150510_143927

You can also get a papa rellena, which is a massive fried disc/oval of mashed potato stuffed with ground beef for $2.99. Seriously – share this. It’s great, but you’ll fill up on it if you order it for yourself, and there is so much more to eat. Creamy mashed potatoes filled with seasoned ground beef, the entire exterior crisped up.

20150510_144259

ALL OF THE PUPUSAS. Cheese, bean and cheese, and loroco greens. The loroco greens are incredibly mild and blend in well with the cheese. And who doesn’t love a soft corn exterior before giving way to any filling?
20150510_145318

Whole fried tilapia is another menu bargain at $10.99 and more than enough for two people to share. I happily crunched on the especially fried tail and fin bones.

20150321_203237

Holy moly these rolls were good. I found the recipe for Cheesy Herb Rolls on Oh, Sweet Basil.

I couldn’t not at least try to make them. Except I hardly ever have dairy milk in my pantry. But not to worry! They are easy to make with powdered milk! And SO freaking good. I should make more cow-milk rolls. That milk just makes things so tender.
20150321_203354

Follow the link above to Carrian’s recipe. I swapped out the 1/2 c half and half and 1/2 c milk for the equivalent of 1 C of milk using powdered milk. My herb mix was a little different. I used grated romano and whatever dried herbs I had – mainly oregano, thyme, dried onion (go with your nose. If it smells good it’ll be good as a mix).
20150321_203653

SO MUCH POOF

20150506_192928

Ayelada is the newest frozen yogurt shop in the area. I was excited for their arrival as they tout using local ingredients as often as possible. They use the same dairy as the Cowbella line of yogurt as a main supplier (though it appears other farms supply them as well), and all of their froyo is made from scratch.

20150506_193234

In the first few weeks, I’d heard that Ayelada was a bit on the expensive side, and I suppose they are compared to the other fro-yo shops in the area, but it’s also a bit of a different format. This is not self-serve fro-yo. You order at the counter, and there is a toppings bar similar to the self-serve fro-yo, but you just tell them what you want and they add the toppings. In my opinion, the toppings are what add up the bill pretty quickly. The picture above was $7 for a 5 oz small ($3.50 + $1 for 1 topping) and a 3 oz mini ($2.50). I thought the portions seemed really small on this visit, and found it a bit on the expensive side for the portion (this seems to have been part of the opening kinks), but the FLAVOR. Man – that is some good frozen yogurt. It’s kind of tart initially, then has this creamy finish. It’s really a pleasure to savor the original.

20150606_173439

Second visit! The mini seems to have doubled in size almost, and they put the fro-yo on a scale. They also ask you if you want to leave room for toppings, and presumably fill it less. Since the frozen yogurt is the real star, I suggest skipping the toppings and focusing on the main event. I was able to snag the tropical punch (mango, pineapple, toasted coconut) which was a real treat – the flavors were well balanced and the fruit flavors complemented the tart and creamy yogurt.
There is also a free toppings area by the registers which feature some honey, caramel sauce, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. How nice! But again, that fro-yo is where it’s at.

I really recommend you try Ayelada. They’re a unique and delicious addition to the frozen dessert scene in Albany, with weekly rotating flavors. Their facebook page updates their flavors in addition to their website: This week currently features lavender honey, chocolate coconut, and triple berry.

_1070065

This pumpkin tang zhong is so good, it’ll fool folks into thinking it’s a rich brioche! It’s also very lightly pumpkin-y, so it’s great for year-round eating.
_1070061

I think the little rolls of dough are so precious. Plus they wind up being tasty mini bread loaves if you choose to separate them from the main loaf.
_1070063

I used Christine’s Recipes Tangzhong Pumpkin Loaf bread. I have a scale, so this was easy to whip up for me. It’s also easy to change the original tangzhong quantities for 1 recipe’s worth of tangzhong (in the past I’ve wound up having a lot of excess tangzhong hanging around).

Here’s what I did, with a few tweaks:

120g tangzhong (22g flour + 3.5oz/98g water) mix this up, cook over medium-low heat until it become a bit pasty

100g pumpkin puree
1 egg
3.7 oz water
50g milk powder
pinch of salt
40g sugar
2 t active dry yeast
25g melted butter
350g bread flour (if you only have AP, you can toss in a 1-2T of vital wheat gluten to bump things up a bit)

You can mix everything all together (sweet), or do the traditional proof the yeast in some water and sugar, then add everything else in.

Mix it up, let it double in size (~45-60 minutes), then form into mini loaf rolls and proof in bread pans.

Before you bake it, brush it with a beaten egg to get that nice and glossy top.
_1070067

So poofy! I had to insist this was NOT brioche, but at least one person tried to insist it must be brioche because it was so tender, fluffy, and golden (thanks to the pumpkin, not tons of egg yolks).

Go forth and tang zhong!

P1060924

A few weeks ago the innovators at TC Paris Bakery in Saratoga Springs, NY debuted a new menu. They invited Daniel B up to see the new menu creations, and I tagged along for the pictures (and the delicious goods).

New menu items are beignets, Le Mosaic macaron, and … salted caramel.
P1060941

The beignet. What’s not to love? It’s a light and eggy dough fried, and packed to the gills with raspberry. So good. I bought a few more on my way out, and they were just as stuffed as these. And guess what? They keep very well until the end of the day, which is impressive for anything fried.
P1060955

Le Mosaic is a new macaron – pistachio shell on top, branded Morello cherries, and a white chocolate shell underneath. Delectable! While I love making my own macarons, TC Paris is on another level, and are so inventive with their flavors.
P1060962

And guess what? Lunch is now on the menu! A Croque Monsieur made with Niman ham, bechamel, imported gruyere and Pan de Compagne. It’s a hearty sandwich that I want to eat entirely too much of. Saratoga, call in your lunch orders now. This is an amazing treat.

P1060991

Salted caramel! This is lovely – It’s firm enough to retain its shape, but pliable enough to yield to a bite. TC Paris once again manages to perfectly push their caramel to the burnished side, developing rich caramel flavor. This is no one-note saccharine caramel.

P1060980

And any time Daniel is around, the lemon tart must make an appearance. This was another one of my purchases on the way out that kept very well until the end of the day. That is, if you can fend off everyone who sees a TC Bakery box.

Wow, the Tavern Pizza Tour was in February? Where does the time go. It seems my days cannot have enough hours lately. Yikes. Any way, The Fuss Man organized a small outing of folks to go eat pizza at a bunch of taverns. I like these epic afternoons because it really lets you compare different places all in one day.

_1060835

First up with Hill Street Cafe. This place has never really stuck out for me, but zomg, now I really want their pizza. It is a pizza I am incapable of making at home, mainly because I don’t think I can use the amount of oil they use in their crust in good conscience. The pizza was baked on a screen, which let any extra oil they oiled the screen with, plus the oil from the pizza fry the end crust into this delicious piece of heaven. Seriously, so good. And there was a ton of cheese. It was a hearty pizza, the crust flopped under the weight of the cheese and toppings.

Then somehow I forgot to take a picture at Deacon Blue’s.  We got the scampi pizza, which was okay, but would probably have been better with a few less seafood toppings (like the fake crab). Put that one on  the “maybe return to” list.
_1060838

Next up with the Purple Pub, where I was the lone dissenter against their pizza. What did we get? Mushroom & sausage? Dan B. is convinced I hate onions in sauce, but I love onions, so I think it’s something else. For me, there was too much crust, and just a smattering of cheese. Ah well, no matter, more pizza to taste.
_1060840

Ralph’s Tavern! Pepperoni and mushroom. I love how they crisped up a lot of the pepperoni (my ideal kind of ‘roni). I like Ralph’s. They have a soft, but still pretty thin crust (as thin as tavern crusts get) that stays crisp on the exterior, but soft inside. Good ratio of cheese-sauce-toppings. And man, try their mozzarella sticks if you’re in there.
_1060843

Last stop was Smith’s Tavern out in Voorheesville. We got the Villager, which was comprised of a lot of toppings that are not my favorite, so I’d like to go back and try it again.

I suspect I am not a fan of the ultra-poofy style round tavern crusts and more of a rectangular tavern pizza kind of gal. Unless you basically fry your crust in oil (Hill Street Cafe), and then I love you above everything else.

First In First Out, or Last In First Out – what’s your fridge stocking and cooking methods?

FIFO and LIFO are businessy terms. FIFO means the first thing in gets used first. LIFO means the latest thing gets used first and the earlier things wait until the newest stock gets used before they get used up. I’ve been pretty bad about LIFO-ing my fridge, leaving a lot of extra… stuff to build up in the back crevices and corners. I found a twee jar of corn jelly I got at a food swap from the lovely Deanna Fox I couldn’t remember the year I got it.

I’m trying to embrace Spring (I hear it’s coming) and I’m trying to work on combining FIFO and Just In Time practices in my meal delivery systems (i.e. cooking).

So this meant a thorough cleaning out of the fridge. Remove ERRYTHANG. Take stock of what you use – open those mystery jars (hold your nose if you must), check the expiration dates, and toss the leaky things. Once all the food substances are out, take out all the shelves and wash them so they’re sparkling clean. Then clean the heck out of the inside of the fridge (I’m partial to hot rags for the stuff that’s really stuck on and melamine/magic sponges for stains).

And then it is time to organize.

I am in awe of folks who have nothing in their fridge. Where are the shelves overflowing with condiments, jams, and jars of miscellany? How are they not tempted by these wee delights? I will try to be one of them. I will USE my jars and containers and not let that last little bit linger for something special. This is where I’m combining JIT and FIFO.

It requires a bit of meal planning. And just a wee bit of forethought. But best of all, it gets me excited for leftovers. My tactics have been to buy less in bulk (hey, it’s just two people and the occasional guest in my house) and buy a few fresh ingredients I definitely want for the week. Try to plan a few meals for the week, and then go around that. If I tried to get super specific, I’d drive myself nuts (ZOMG, you didn’t use that half a cucumber!!), but I’ve found this works for me.

For example, this week, I bought some fresh  broccoli, asparagus, and chicken. Chicken’s got brined last night, it’ll get roasted tonight along with some asparagus, and I’ll cook some wood ear with the broccoli. Tomorrow = some variation on the leftover chicken, plus some more fresh veggies.

So, I have a lot less stuff in my fridge, and I’m pretty happy with it. Crazy, how it’s easier to find stuff, eh?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,961 other followers