Miss Ginsu: About/Bio


Autumn in New Amsterdam: Tasty!

I just spent all my allowance on food. But honestly, you would've done the same, right? It was a beautiful autumn day in New York, and there were rows and rows of tempting food vendors at the New Amsterdam Market.

New Amsterdam Market

I attended the market for the first time in June last year, and it's just gotten bigger and better in the interim.

If you've not been, the New Amsterdam is kind of a cross between the Brooklyn Flea, the Union Square Farmers Market and the food markets at Essex Street and Chelsea.

Since the focus is on great food that's grown or produced in New York, there's some familiar faces for those who already know and love the artisanal butchers, bakers, cheese-makers, apiaries, dairies, farmers, canners and picklers in the local food scene.

You'll also find top-notch specialty goods... delicious, effervescent kombucha that reminds me of a crisp, dry cider (and I don't even like kombucha). There's pâté and pork rillettes spread on toast (thank you, Dickson's.) There's now a whole row of local wineries, and not one, but two vendors of oysters on the half-shell, not to mention the truly superior, ultra-fresh BoBo chickens I mentioned last year.

Indeed, there's such a buffet of people who are putting their love (and high-quality ingredients) into the food at New Amsterdam, it's a good thing they don't have the place open year-round. I'd drain my account and give myself a bellyache every weekend.

If you're in New York and you've managed to miss the other market days, there's two more chances (November 22 and December 20) to go before the year's out. Meanwhile, here are few things that delighted me today:

Meat Chart Bike Jersey
This very cool meat chart bike jersey from Fleisher's

Saxelby Cheese Mongers
The ever-charming Benoit from Saxelby Cheese.

New Yorker Tomato Seeds
Heirloom tomato seeds from The Hudson Valley Seed Library. They're supposed to be good for container gardens. We'll see about that next year...

Sullivan Street's Raisin Loaf
Raisin Walnut Loaves from Sullivan Street Bakery. So, so tasty... Nom!

Want to see more? Check out the full New Amsterdam Market photo set.

Happy Eating!
Miss Ginsu

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Notable in New York

Just to put this up front, I'm pretty much a recipe blogger, not a product blogger. When I write about a product it's because I genuinely like it and want to share the awesomeness. If there's a product I'm asked to sample, I'll let you know who sent me the sample.

I've always been straight-up about this kind of thing, but apparently there are enough issues out there that the FTC is writing laws about this stuff now.

SO... now that all that's out of the way, here are three new-ish food products out here in Gotham City that make me proud to be a New Yorker. Not only am I quite fond of each of them, but either I or my fella purchased everything here at full price with our very own hard-earned cash.

Mother In Law's Kimchi

1. Mother In Law's Kimchi

I love kimchi. Love it. My sweetheart greatly prefers sauerkraut, but because he is, indeed, sweet, he brought me a jar of this delicious kimchi.

Mother In Law's Kimchi is a newcomer on the north side of the Essex Street Market, and proprietor Lauryn Chun was on hand this weekend to proffer sample bites.

Well-balanced and not too spicy, this formula seems to have a meaty richness. Although (as I mentioned), J is not typically wild about kimchi, he says this is "an excellent example." And since I've already eaten my way through half the jar, I think it's pretty clear how I feel about it.

Goober Peas

2. Boiled in Brooklyn Goober Peas

A couple of architects, a bunch of raw peanuts and a dream...

Potato chips I can take or leave, but I'm a huge fan of fresh-boiled peanuts as a snack food. Sadly, I haven't really had a local source since the Queen's Hideaway in Greenpoint shuttered.

If you've never had the pleasure, boiled peanuts are a Southern thing. Tender, earthy, rich and very much like cooked beans. They're generally simmered in a very flavorful brine. I'm frankly a little surprised they're not a standard bar snack, because I personally think they're killer with beer and cocktails.

With four flavor varieties and cold iced tea on hand, Boiled in Brooklyn will be one of my new go-to stops at the Dumbo Brooklyn Flea.

Connecticut-Style Lobster Roll
3. Red Hook Lobster Pound "Connecticut Style" Lobster Rolls

I believe plenty has already been said about Red Hook Lobster Pound as a source for good, reasonably priced seafood. I'd like to put in a good word for the "Connecticut Style" Lobster Roll they sell at the Sunday Brooklyn Flea in Dumbo.

Composed of nothing more than lobster meat that's quick-sauteed in butter, then sprinkled with scallions and paprika and nestled into a buttery toasted bun, the Connecticut is a simple, flavorful seaside fare — a nice break from the mayo-based Maine variety (although RHLP sells that, too).

Happy Eating!
Miss Ginsu

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A (Modern) Jazz Age Cocktail

"First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald

Jazz Age Dancers

Say you find yourself standing on an uninhabited island among gaily costumed picnickers with a cocktail in your hand, a dance floor and orchestra before you, a pie contest to your left and the Dorothy Parker Society just behind you.

Pie Contest Here

Never fear. You're probably not dreaming or in a time warp. In fact, I'm guessing you're simply getting in on what more and more New Yorkers are doing this year — spending an afternoon on Governor's Island.

Spiffy Cars

In case you're unfamiliar with the place, my use of the word "uninhabited" isn't a typo. Governor's Island is officially a public park space, having been vacated by the Coast Guard after 1996. The park service folks clear out all visitors each night (which is a shame, because I'd move there in a heartbeat).

And what a public space it is... 172 lush, tree- and rolling grass-covered acres full of strange, abandoned apartment complexes, gorgeous Civil War-Era buildings, a fort (complete with cannons), and as of recently, an archaeological dig and a Water Taxi Beach.

But I digress. You were holding a cocktail and watching the flappers dance the Charleston, weren't you?

Michael Arenella & His Dreamland Orchestra put on periodic Jazz Age Lawn Parties on Governor's Island. Fun, no?

The one produced just today was also sponsored by St-Germain, makers of tasty elderflower liqueur with which one might, if so inclined, make mighty strong cocktails the likes of which you see in this photo.

St-Germain Cocktail

Now technically the Jazz Age took place during the era of US prohibition, but we all know there was still plenty of drinking going on. And, as it turns out, The St-Germain isn't terribly far off the classic Gin Rickey said to be favored by Fitzgerald — one of the most recognized spokesmen of the Jazz Age.

Anyway, I found it tasty, so I'll pass on the recipe to you, dear reader. (I'm sure the company won't mind. Corporate marketing departments are generally pretty happy about spontaneous viral exposure.)

The St-Germain
2 shots Champagne (or Sauvignon Blanc)
1 1/2 shots St-Germain Liqueur
Top with 2 shots soda water or sparkling water
Mix in a tall, ice-filled glass and garnish with a lemon twist

And by the way, if you're local and interested in zany events of this kind, Gov Island tweets, so it's easy to keep up with all the wonder and weirdness they have on offer.

To see more Jazz Age Lawn Party photos (including Michael Cumella's lovely gramophone) click here.

Miss Ginsu

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Old World vs New World: a Ricotta Comparison

As I mentioned in my last post, I was up at Coach Farm in Upstate New York last Friday. In the days since, I've been trying to wrangle all the video clips together into a watchable form.

Thus far, I've got a quick video that illustrates how they're doing a brand-new product: ricotta cheese.

If you're a cheese person, you already know that ricotta is a classically useful product for cheesemakers because it's made with the cast-offs of the cheesemaking process: the whey.

Coach Farm is doing their ricotta in the same old-fashioned way that Italy's alpine farmers do it:

1. Collect the whey in a pot and heat it to 180°F (they're also adding in some milk to make it creamier).
2. Add an agent (rennet or an acid) to help the curds form.
3. Collect the curds in cheesecloth and allow to drain.

Simple, right? So simple you could do it on the side of a mountain over an open flame... which is what I saw when I went to Italy last year.

In that case, the farmer first made pecorino cheese and then reheated the leftover whey to make a delicious ricotta. You'll notice the environs are a little different.

I'll repost that video below the Coach Farm one for comparison.

More video fun yet to come!
Miss Ginsu

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Video Treat: Dual Lion Dance in Chinatown

On a quest for a golden ox in Chinatown today, I ran into two lions. No lie. These things happen in Chinatown.

Sadly, I didn't find the golden ox I was seeking (not every quest ends in success) but you can see the lions for yourself — I caught them on video.

The dancers are from New York United Lion & Dragon Dance Troupe. I particularly like the way they flick their ears and pay attention to lion-like mannerisms.

No recipe today, but I highly recommend you stop over at Food for the Thoughtless and check out Michael's Misfortune Cookies. Hilarious.

Meanwhile, I'll be back on track next week with a whole load of pre-Valentine chocolate posts.

Miss Ginsu

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Spiedie Delivery

Down the road apiece, folks might go in for the steak rolls or the hero buns, but in Susquehanna, PA, there's only one bread to use for spiedies.

"You got the Felix Roma?"

The round-faced butcher gestures to a sliced white loaf that — to my eye — is virtually indistinguishable from every other sliced white loaf of other every other packaged brand.

"You gotta have the Felix Roma if you're making spiedies."

Spiedie Ingredients

Spiedie Grill

Spiedie Sandwich

Best known in the area around Binghamton, NY, and the far northeast corner of Pennsylvania (Binghamton even hosts an annual Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally!), the spiedie is regional identity. The spiedie is folk art. The spiedie is culinary history.

Composed of lemony, marinated, grilled meat chunks (most often chicken or pork these days, but historically the meat of choice was lamb) mounted inside a buttered bun or two slices of sandwich bread (with or without hot sauce... your choice), the spiedie is said to have traveled with Italian immigrants.

Curiously, the sandwich seems to have migrated all the way from Italy to Broome County... and stopped. Web searches indicate that the most passionate spiedie fans now exist within the spiedie's petite home turf and in pockets of those warm-climate areas (Florida, Texas, Arizona) to which native spiediphiles relocate.

From all reports, it would seem as though these transplants order spiedie marinade by the case and convert neighbors with missionary zeal. (Makes me wonder why they don't save some time and money by printing out a recipe from here or here.)

Does the sandwich live up to the hype? Check the Roadfood Forum on spiedies for everything from frothing fanatical praise to lukewarm "eh, they're okay" reviews.

Personally, I don't think they really approach food ecstasy, so I'd probably fall in with the latter camp.

Maybe enthusiasm would run hotter if I had something closer to the lamb-based Italian originals... or if I'd gone with the Binghamton-style steak roll over the Susquehanna-mandated Felix Roma.

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Yeah, I Know the Muffin Man

So stop me if you've heard this one before:

There's a batch of muffins baking in the oven. One muffin says to another, "Wow! It's hot in here." The other muffin says, "Holy shit! A talking muffin!"

(Thanks, folks! I'll be here all week. Don't forget to tip your server.)

Fresh muffins at Essex Street Market

The muffin man and me, we go waaaay back. I mean, moist, delicious, snack-sized and terribly portable... what's not to like?

The nice folks at Red Jacket Orchards were sweet enough to send me a case of Newtown Pippins (the official apple of New York city), and I made up a batch of apple muffins (the official muffin of New York state) last night.

Curiously enough, the official recipe for the official muffin officially uses the non-official Empire apple.

I tweaked the official recipe a bit (can't help it... I'm a tweaker) and have come up with a version that's perfect for those of us who need to use up apples and like chunky foods (chunky peanut butter, chunky brownies, Ben & Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk...).

If you do use this recipe, I recommend these changes:

1. Don't melt the butter. Instead, cream it with the sugar, eggs, spices and cream cheese. Then go ahead and stir in your flour and fold in the chopped apples. (The apple pieces will soften but won't break down, so keep that in mind as you're judging the size of your dice.)

2. I doubled the amount of apple pieces.

3. Finally, just drop the spoon and walk away, or you're going to overmix. Remember: nobody loves a tough muffin.

My oven required a 27-minute cook-time on these babies, but yours might run hotter, so test with a knife/toothpick for doneness.

Oh, and here's my favorite muffin website. I know, I know, you've probably got your own favorite muffin website, but that's mine, and I'm sticking by it.

Miss Ginsu

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