HOT CHEESY POTATO from yo microwave • YOUTUBE

IT’S THANKSGIVING WEEK and if there’s a theme for Thanksgiving week, it’s that no meal is stupidly simple. To offer some respite from the turkey, stuffing, and pie hoo-ha, I nuke a potato in the latest episode of Stupidly Simple Snacks (should you be hungry and short on time during the other 51 weeks in the year, of course). It’s common knowledge that the baked potato is a versatile meal (think of the toppings! sour cream & chives, cheese, butter, bacon bits…) but I didn’t realize it would be so filling. I split the cheesy tater with Jason and called it dinner for two. Well, he later cleaned off a plate of chocolate cookies, but I still felt quite sated the next morning.

Without further ado, I present – potato! Best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving!

WHAT YOU NEED microwave | potato | sharp object to pierce potato | topping of your choice | 5 minutes on high power in microwave, 5 minutes to stand in microwave.

MUSIC The Flaming Lips Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

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November 25, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , . Stupidly Simple Snacks, videos. 2 comments.

DBGB • A WIENER IN DISGUISE is still a wiener

DBGB dog 11.09DBGB299 Bowery, New York City, 212 933 5300

“So I copied-and-pasted the generic online dating profile from AskMen.com and used it as my own,” said Chris. I looked at my old Boston University friend and scanned his face for a blink, an apologetic wince, a “Just kidding!” But Chris was just being himself, which meant he was vying for dates by not being himself.

• • •

Every now and then I crave hot dogs. This usually occurs during the summer, somewhere in Central Park downwind from a strategically placed food cart.

I didn’t crave the DBGB hot dog yesterday, but I ordered it anyway; I was curious to see how Daniel Boulud would dress up a wiener.

The dish did not disappoint. For $7, you get a homemade beef frankfurter on a toasted bun topped with sauteed onions, a tangle of greens drizzled in mustard and their signature “299” relish.

It was a satisfying 3PM snack, as was the hazelnut chocolate cake that Chris and I ordered afterward. I asked for coffee too, but the request was forgotten in light of the hour – or as the bartender explained, “It’s staff meal right now. Sometimes orders fall through the cracks.” Really?

So I listened to Chris, who confirmed he didn’t read the AskMen profile in its entirety before passing it off as his own. One of his dates asked, “How was your trip to Annapolis?” before he realized his profile mentioned a recent weekend in Annapolis.

• • •

I watched as the bartender diligently juiced a lemon half with a squeezer – the guy was clearly within earshot of my titillating conversation with Chris. He must think I’m a weirdo for associating with online dating profile thieves, I thought. Then I realized, no, the bartender won’t judge me for my taste in friends, but he probably thinks I’m a loser blogger for prodding my hot dog with a camera lens.

amy • november 20, 2009

November 20, 2009. Tags: , , , , , . East Village, French, Manhattan. 6 comments.

Chocolate BREAKDOWN

Picture 3Nanaimo poster4:13PM I JUST REALIZED THE NANAIMO BARS I’m entering into tomorrow’s Brooklyn Chocolate Experiment taste rubbish at room temperature. I don’t think this would be an issue if they were normal Nanaimo bar-size, but my scaled down, bite-size version makes the chocolate-custard square melt quickfast! I am off to buy ice packs after I finish cutting and pasting a thousand colored squares onto the poster I’m bringing tomorrow. The weather isn’t cooperating and Jason, the boyfriend/chocolate assistant, is ill with something he caught from the fishes on holiday in Cabo. Happy day.

11:12PM UPDATE Poster done. And I only seriously snipped the skin off my finger once. Next task: 300 Nanaimo bites. That’s right. I am no longer calling them “bars” as they don’t really deserve that designation, being only a fraction of bar-size. So bites they will be. (Scroll down! More updates below.)

8:10AM UPDATE I ran out of confectioners sugar, unsalted butter, and steam by 3:22AM and decided to call it quits for the night. Left Layer 1: Cocoa Cookie Base to cool down and solidify in the refrigerator before falling heavily, like a tree, into bed with my alarm set to 6AM. By 6:30, I completed my first trip to the corner deli for two boxes of icing sugar and four sticks of butter.

At 7AM, I returned to the deli for another box of sugar. I need 12 cups of sugar for the amount of custard frosting I’m making. Sadly, by the time I emptied Sugar Box #4, I only had 10 cups. That’s one lesson I learned the long, circuitous way.

Quick note before quick nap as Layer 2: Custard cools: I accidentally stained two fingers with green food coloring and it’s not coming off.

370-56:19PM UPDATE Somehow, I survived the day or as Jackie put it – lived to tell about it. I haven’t said much since 4PM, actually, when I stopped having to shout over the DJ: “These are NA-NIE-MO bars! They’re from Canada! And they taste like Andes mint with a crushed cookie base!” I was flustered as hell during the first hour – refilling empty plates is a challenge when contestants are serving side-by-side, elbow-to-elbow – but Jason handled the plating with aplomb while I stood behind my poster wondering what it would’ve been like on the sampling side. The event was sold-out.

Around 3:30, the queue of chocolate fanatics began to die down and I had a moment to taste a few of the other chocolate entries, like the light and crunchy chocolate hush puppies sprinkled with corn flakes. Sadly, I didn’t get to try Roopa Marcello‘s terrifically unique Thai chili-lime chocolate ice cream with miniature hand-rolled cocoa ginger Thai basil cones that ultimately won the competition. (Read the recap by Always Hungry. They sampled and photographed each entry, including my own.)

It was an utterly eye-opening day. It is hard friggin’ work planning a recipe and executing it for 300 people. I would do it again but, next time, I may be more inclined to pay for the fruit of others’ labor than deal with supermarkets, ingredients, containers, and transportation again.

Picture 4MONDAY 11:14AM UPDATE I showered and scrubbed the chocolate from my pores before passing out at 8:30PM last night. Major kitchen clean-up on the agenda this morning, along with treating myself to mini lavender chocolate cupcakes by Keavy of Kumquat Cupcakery for breakfast. I met Keavy at the chocolate after-party and was struck by her sweetness and super cute chin-length haircut. She exemplifies her charming brand from head to toe.

As a native New Yorker with ample eatingGifted+Postcard+FRONT+FINAL experience, I’m an enthusiastic supporter of quality local goods and think Kumquat’s signature cupcakes are among this city’s best. I wish Keavy had a storefront, but til she does you can find her this holiday at Gifted Holiday Market, the Manhattan counterpart to the Brooklyn Flea market, between November 27th and December 24th.

NOON UPDATE All’s well that ends well. I’m meeting my new friend Adam (@avantsweater) for medium-rare cheeseburgers at JG Melon on the Upper East Side. Gonna thank him for his suggestion, which started it all.

Event photo from Metromix | Cupcake photo courtesy of Kumquat Cupcakery

November 14, 2009. Tags: , , , , . Brooklyn, Dessert, event, Manhattan. 6 comments.

Chocolate FOR THE WIN

chocolate thumbprint cookies ACI’VE BEEN BAKING. And crushing, chopping, melting, stirring, sifting, pressing, spreading, cutting, rolling, dipping, and photographing like mad. Two weeks ago, I entered the Brooklyn Chocolate Experiment thinking, “Fourteen days will surely be enough time to overcome 25 years of kitchen nightmares, to pick a worthy recipe and, of course, to write about it.” With only two days until the event, happening this Sunday at the Bell House in Brooklyn, I have a bona fide awesome entry.

It was a close call between Canadian chocolate bars and my sister’s chocolate thumbprint cookies pictured at left. In the end, I knew – No Guts, No Glory. So I confirmed: Amy Blogs Chow will be sharing 300 miniature Nanaimo bars.

Certainly, the chocolate thumbprint cookies were photogenic – cute, even – but baking 300 bite-sized pecan-coated butter cookies topped with chocolate kisses would have been akin to navigating a mountain with necessary equipment and years of experience. On the other hand, entering a chocolate dessert I’ve never known until two weeks ago (and never tasted until 2am last night) is like jumping off a cliff and building my wings on the way down. Should I fail spectacularly, I can always blame Canada.

I hope you’ll join the chocolate fest on Sunday. I even created a Facebook invitation. See you Sunday! You can meet my mom. She’ll be there since she lives, like, up the block.

November 13, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , . Brooklyn, cookies, Dessert, event. 2 comments.

Amy Blogs Chow takes over @ZAGATBUZZ

Picture 1Picture 19Z1Z2z3z4z5z6z7z8z9z10z11z12z13z14I ATTENDED THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION of the French Culinary Institute on behalf of ZAGAT this Monday. Initially, I was just attending a panel discussion and after-party, but when I asked my editor if I could tweet about the evening among French folk and amuse-bouche, he suggested that I beam the event to the foodie masses from the company twitter account. It was cool beans.

By the end of the evening, I made a new friend, Chichi, who writes for the fun, recipe-centric site Serious Eats. (Read her take on the evening.)

The event coordinators gave out baguettes and chocolate as departing gifts, so I wandered up Broadway with a major breadstick protruding from my bag. In the end, I re-gifted the baguette to a doo-wop duo singing for change on the 6 train.

I’m quite lucky to do what I do and it only makes sense to pay it forward, even if it’s something as simple as sharing a baguette, an invitation, banana shake instructions. Time. After all, sharing is caring! At left, see the twitter feed from the event. As always, thanks for following.

November 11, 2009. Tags: , , , , . event, French, SoHo, ZAGAT SURVEY. Leave a comment.

PUMPKIN PIE MILKSHAKE on YouTube

BAKING PUMPKIN WHOOPIE PIE proved more trouble than it was worth, so I re-embraced my rule of KISS (Keep It Stupidly Simple) and made a pumpkin pie ice cream shake instead. In this video, I give up trying to be something I’m not – an expert kitchen navigator – and resume the role of Amy “Can’t Cook” Cao. I managed the pumpkin part just fine and even crushed graham crackers to bits. Next time, however, I might use less milk and more ice cream. Let me know what you think in the comment box below!

WHAT YOU NEED: blender | pumpkin puree | vanilla ice cream | milk | vanilla | ground cinnamon | ground nutmeg | ground cloves | graham crackers, crushed (optional) | cinnamon stick (also optional) | 2 minutes for prep & 5 seconds to blend

MUSIC: Toploader – Dancing In The Moonlight

November 6, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Dessert, milkshake, Stupidly Simple Snacks, videos. 6 comments.

NOT MAKING WHOOPIE (Pie)

pumpkin glob 11.1.09ON FRIDAY I ATTEMPTED to make pumpkin whoopie pies. Midway through the struggle to keep the directions straight (granulated sugar, light brown sugar, dark brown sugar, prepare wet and dry ingredients separately, then mix, but don’t overmix…) I nearly stopped to bake chewy chocolate cookies instead. I was frustrated with myself and the video game-playing boyfriend who keeps the all-purpose flour and bread flour in unlabeled clear canisters on top of each other. And the salt in the sugar bowl.

After playing out our breakup in my mind three blissful times, the dough was ready. I dropped sad globs of pumpkin mix onto the baking sheet because I did not have the foresight to own a piping bag. I also did not have Ziploc bags on hand to fashion a make-shift piping bag. Jason dragged his attention from the television long enough to yell, “It smells great!” It was then I realized I couldn’t detect the flavors from the oven. I’d finally lost my sense of smell (and soon after, taste) to my week-long battle with a worsening cold.

The pumpkin blobs came out warm and thoroughly baked. That was a relief. I even managed to stand up for myself against some suspect cream cheese frosting directions: “3 1/2 cups Confectioners Sugar, maybe more.” (No way, José.) I stopped shoveling sugar into the mix and executed a taste test, just like they do on TV.

The resulting “pies” didn’t resemble anything near edible, but Jason helped me finish them anyway. That’s what boyfriends do.

UPDATE : I never managed to bake perfect pumpkin whoopie pies in 2009. However, I did learn how to make pumpkin pie milkshakes and demonstrated my new skills on YouTube!

November 1, 2009. Tags: , , , , . Dessert. 3 comments.