PB&B • Stupidly Simple Sandwich

AFTER TWO WEEKS OF TRAVELING IN ECUADOR, I vowed to stay put in New York to regroup and save. But, as it always does in August, an urban strain of cabin fever kicked in and I began to plot my next escape. Cue Providence, an exceptionally agreeable city in Rhode Island just three and a half hours away from Manhattan by train. I’ve been to Providence a few times as a college student in nearby Boston, but it was my visit last August for an offManhattan.com article that planted the seed for this year’s return trip. Even then I knew I had to go back to see WaterFire and have dinner at Bacaro with Jason in tow. (Their flatbread-like pizza is justification enough for the train ride up.) But it’s the city as a whole – the ubiquitous Del’s Lemonade carts, antique shops, and easy, artsy energy – that brings me back. Thus, it seemed most fitting to find former New Yorker Jessica Becker on charming Wickenden Street where she and her husband Daniel had recently opened The Duck & Bunny – part-bar, part-creperie, with a whole lot of English-inspired treats, like scones and afternoon tea.

On the Friday I arrived in Providence, I made a Stupidly Simple Snacks video with Jessica and cleaned my plate of PB&B (Peanut Butter and Banana). The next day, I returned with Jason who, despite having just had lunch, made room for scones, tea sandwiches, and a Nutella-filled cupcake. Believe it or not, even the Duck & Bunny‘s cucumber-cream cheese sandwich is better than the ones I’ve madeamy • august 31, 2010

SERVES one

WHAT YOU NEED
bread
peanut butter
banana
honey
powdered sugar

MUSIC Keelay Sassmachine

Thanks to the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau for making this trip possible.

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August 31, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Rhode Island, Stupidly Simple Snacks, Travel, videos. 9 comments.

THE PERFECT AGE For Cupcakes

Ciao For Now carrot cake cupcakeDEEP DOWN IN THEIR HEARTS, BLOGS ARE PUBLIC DIARIES. Some blogs convey what’s coming, others inform the present, yet others chronicle the past. But, collectively, all blogs provide snapshots of the way we were in retrospect. My blog didn’t know what the hell it was until a year ago when Jason suggested I make Stupidly Simple Snacks. I figured the videos would be helpful at best and unwatchable at worst. If the latter turned out true, then I’d just stop making them.

I was updating my YouTube channel the other day when I noticed I launched it on August 31, 2009. It’s been nearly 365 days since I shared the first Stupidly Simple Snacks video in which I bumbled through banana shakes.

It’s weird to read old posts and remember sitting on a park bench considering a cupcake a year before today. And I’m sure, in another twelve months, the photo on the left which I took at Ciao For Now in the West Village on Saturday will resonate and I’ll recall taking a chance on a surprisingly moist carrot cupcake crowned with cold frosting. But the best recollection of all will probably be of the chatty little girl and her pug-shaped piggy bank. While her dad paid for a chocolate cupcake, the girl introduced me to her amazing multitasking pup, which had tape wrapped around its neck like a collar on a pet with a real chance of running away.

I started Amy Blogs Chow as a way to get to know – and remember – those who love food and what’s on our plates. Funny thing is I’m just realizing now that “foodies” are as young as eight. amy • august 30, 2010

August 30, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , . cupcakes, random, West Village. Leave a comment.

Ice Cream Lollipops With GALE GAND

A FEW WEEKS AGO, I was invited to interview Gale Gand, a Chicago-based superstar pastry chef, restaurateurcookbook author, and former Food Network host, who was in New York to promote Breyers’ Sundae Scoop-Off. Gale had created a series of ice cream recipes to inspire young (at heart) sundae makers, including one for ice cream lollipops, which we created together under bright studio lights and heavy makeup. The experience was a far cry from my last snack video, which I filmed in my uncomfortably warm kitchen and jeans. But, isn’t that the damnedest thing? You can be anyone anywhere and wear whatever you want while making Stupidly Simple Snacks, including balls of ice cream. amy • august 30, 2010

SERVINGS varies

WHAT YOU NEED
ice cream
magic shell chocolate sauce (available in most supermarkets or make it from scratch using Brownie Points recipe)
sprinkles, crushed nuts, etc. for topping

MORE ICE CREAM RECIPES BY GALE
Mini Coffee Ice Cream Sandwiches
Snowball Sundaes
Spaghetti & Meatballs Sundaes

MUSIC Loomis & the Lust Bright Red Chords myspacefacebookyoutube


August 30, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Hungry Nation, ice cream, Stupidly Simple Snacks, videos, YouTube. Leave a comment.

FOODSPOTTING • I Spy With My Little i

Oreo Cake Tower at Martha Stewart Bloggers Night Out EventMomofuku Milkbar banana cake up close and personalDuck & Bunny iced tea, Providence, Rhode Island (cropped)

IT’S NOT EASY BEING IN A PUBLIC RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD. Even now, I’m self-conscious thanks to encounters with bewildered Le Pain Quotidien servers who stop in their tracks to ask if I’m one of those food diarists he’d read about in the news. Sometimes, men even take it as a cue to strike up conversation about the delicious cheeseburger I’m about to shoot. But as awkward as blogging chow can be, it’d be worse to run a food blog without photos. No matter how hard they try, words only go so far; pictures always say much more.

In July, my old Boston University mentor told me about FOODSPOTTING, a visual guide to food and iPhone app that allows users to share photos of their meal, locate dishes around them, and “nom”-inate the ones they’ve tried and liked. Finally, a socially acceptable way to say, hey, this tastes great and here is proof.

I’m not a fan of underqualified or overly critical restaurant reviews, so I was extra excited about Foodspotting‘s mission to emphasize positive dining experiences by highlighting what looks good in any zip code. At once, you have a culinary compass and a picture guide to food.

There was a job at Foodspotting I was pretty keen on, so, despite the fact that the company is based in San Francisco, I sent in my most persuasive plea. I learned the job was filled that same day, but luckily for my self-esteem, Foodspotting‘s co-founder, Alexa Andrzejewski, reached out soon after and expressed interest in having me work with them in New York City.

While I won’t be moving west, I will be collaborating with Alexa, the new Community Lead Fiona Tang, and their amazing New York-based business developer Soraya Darabi in the coming months to spread the love of spotting food. After all, close-up shots of cookies, cake, and ice-cold beverages will never get old so long as eyes can see and mouth drools. Hoping to meet many more of you through this opportunity too!

WATCH What Is Foodspotting? and hear Fiona narrate the video in her beautiful Australian accent.

MEET the team on their Tumblr blog.

GET the iPhone app. It’s free!

Last but not least… FOLLOW me, please.

amy august 23, 2010

August 18, 2010. Tags: , , , , , . Blogs, Foodspotting. 2 comments.

My Romance with SWEET POTATO FRIES

ONCE, IN MARCH, I DEEP FRIED SWEET POTATO FRIES WITH THIERRY PEPIN. If you have no idea what a thierry pepin is, that is okay. I had no idea what I was in for either.

Earlier this year, my food/social media friend Aaron Ginsberg approached me to make a snack video with one of his clients, T Poutine, on the Lower East Side. I was flattered that the restaurant wanted to get in on the Stupidly Simple Snacks action, so, of course, I said yes. Ironically, I asked him “Do you have a charismatic employee who’d like to be on camera?”

The T Poutine team and I decided to make a French-Canadian dessert that they called The Canuck, which was sweet potato fries tossed with Asian Five Spice, cinnamon, sugar, and maple syrup. They had a deep fryer, so it was stupidly simple enough to throw frozen fries in a vat of boiling oil there. However, to make it feasible for the casual sweet potato fry eater, baking would be the better – plus, an equally tasty and arguably healthier – option.

I kept the video under wraps after I learned T Poutine closed, but it was a matter of time before sweet potato fries starred in an episode. Naturally, I had to include footage of Thierry, who turned out to be the owner of T Poutine and an underwear model. You may recognize him from the Ralph Lauren Romance commercial too. Confirm below. amy august 11, 2010


SERVINGS 2 to 3

WHAT YOU NEED
4 sweet potatoes
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of salt
pepper to taste
paprika
ground cumin

FOR “THE CANUCK” BY T POUTINE
sweet potato fries
Asian Five Spice
cinnamon sugar
maple syrup

MUSIC Kelly Harper Till This Goes Away website / myspace / facebook

August 11, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Dessert, Lower East Side, recipe, Stupidly Simple Snacks, videos, YouTube. 7 comments.

THE FRESHMAN GUIDE To Food Blogging

Portobello Road Market cupcake display 2009portobello road storefrontPortobello Road bottlesI WAS CONVINCED I’D GET BEAT UP IN HIGH SCHOOL. After all, I was thirteen and had just graduated with twenty-five other eighth graders from a private, Catholic school. While I knew the New York public education system would be a big change, I was looking forward to burning my schoolgirl uniform. Still, my cousins went to public school and seemed to get in fights all the time so, clearly, I was bound to get my ass kicked. The only thing to do, then, was to take karate class, which I took up that summer (and only that summer) before my Freshman year, and to READ UP on how to survive high school.

It’s especially funny to remember my teen self now, but even then I didn’t feel embarrassed. Because it worked. After all, groundbreaking advice on how to survive high school were actually basic tips on how to make friends, including:

Introduce yourself.
Everyone else is as nervous as you.

So, in the spirit of that ever-helpful guide (I think this might be the latest edition.) that I found at Strand, I give you my own rendition of the Freshman Guide, but to food blogging. I wrote these for Jeremy Jones, an aspiring international food blogger and a friend of my jet-setting friend Adam, who emailed last week in search of tips on how to get a new blog noticed on the “big food blog scene”.

Here are the suggestions I sent to Jeremy. Most are common sense and none promise to bring wealth or fame. Rather, they’re lessons I learned along the way to becoming a more effective communicator online and in person. This way, you’re ready when CNN calls to ask: “Why can’t you cook?”

Without further ado…

Be consistent. Post Monday through Friday; post in the morning; post at night; post once or twice a month. No matter when you post, be consistent. It’s hard to build an audience if you publish new pieces haphazardly. Readers like to see new posts and photos, so you should try to deliver these as regularly as possible. (But don’t become a slave to posting. I’d rather post something thoughtful once a week than put a photo up mindlessly.)

Talk about things you genuinely care about. If you don’t care about the content you create and are only doing it to throw words up on a screen, it shows. If you are mildly obsessed passionate about your topic, your readers will know.

Check spelling and grammar.

Do it for love (not the pennies). You probably won’t make money or gain an audience immediately. You should probably also know that you’ll be writing for your mom and two best friends for a while. To be honest, my mom doesn’t read English and my best friends don’t read every post right away. Riveting as my food musings may be, they’re not for everybody. But what is?

Be positive.
No one likes a whiner.

Find a niche / Be the best niche filler you can be. Provide new information. Write about a never-before-experienced restaurant experience or share a recipe you’ve created. Don’t merely regurgitate others’ content. Be original. If you can, be the only one doing what you’re doing. I met Megan of The Runner’s Kitchen last week. She trains for races and is mindful about what she eats. Maybe there are other runners who blog, but Megan is great about staying “on message” and, in effect, fills a niche. She’s super sweet and helps hungry athletes.

Be social. Use Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook to engage other bloggers, gain feedback, and to let followers know what’s new.

Meet bloggers offline. Attend blogger meet-ups, conferences, and panels where you can chat with other bloggers and share your experiences with one another. Listen and learn.

Keep up with blogs and bloggers you like. I love the focus on aesthetics on fashion and design blogs, like my friend Erica’s funny Design Blahg, so I visit them often for inspiration.

There are no rules. The blog world is still new, so nothing I or other bloggers say promises “success”. You just have to jump in and hope for the best while working to stay afloat. The good thing? No one’s watching, especially at the beginning, so who cares if you screw up?

Stupidly simple ideas work. Seriously.

amy august 10, 2010

Photos were taken at Portobello Market while visiting friends in London last year. At the time, Amy Blogs Chow was just a few months old. I didn’t know how to blog either.

August 10, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Blogs, Europe, Travel. 14 comments.

PANNA COTTA with DessertTruck Works

IF THERE’S A DESSERT DESTINATION THAT I’D RECOMMEND TO ANYONE IN OR VISITING NEW YORK, IT’S DESSERTTRUCK. Even die-hard dessert eating New Yorkers, who are notoriously spoilt for choice when it comes to sweets, would probably name DessertTruck among their favorite places for warm chocolate bread pudding, molten chocolate cake, vanilla cream-filled brioche donut holes, and goat cheese cheesecake. I met the owners Jerome, Susana, and Vincent last summer at one of their dessert making classes when Jason and I just started dating. Rereading that cheesy post reminds me how much can change in a year: DessertTruck lost their street vending license last fall and went brick-and-mortar earlier this year, and now they’re back on the streets by Astor Place (though just for the summer).

In my latest SSS episode, the trio demonstrates the simple art of making panna cotta! Panna cotta is unbelievably easy to make, provided you have Knox Gelatin (gelatin powder) on hand. If you don’t, go get some. Knox is easy to find at most grocery stores next to the boxes of Jell-O. In fact, making panna cotta is like making Jell-O, only it’s creamy, smooth, and pretty darn sophisticated. Enjoy! amy • august 3, 2010

SERVINGS 4

WHAT YOU NEED
2/5 cup heavy cream
3/5 cup buttermilk
1 bloomed* gelatin sheet or 1/4 packet of bloomed Knox Gelatin
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
jam (raspberry used in video)
fruit

*to bloom a gelatin sheet, soak the gelatin in water for 10 minutes to soften it. Then lightly wring out excess water before using. If using gelatin powder, use 1/4 cup water to dissolve the granules in every Knox Gelatin packet. Since this recipe calls for one gelatin sheet or 1/4 packet of Knox, bloom the gelatin powder in 1/16 cup (equivalent to 1 tablespoon) of water. To learn more about gelatin, refer to David Lebovitz’s immensely helpful guide: How To Use Gelatin.

MUSIC Keelay America

August 3, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Dessert, Italian, Stupidly Simple Snacks, videos. 3 comments.