Miss Ginsu: About/Bio


San Francisco is for Nom Nom Nom

I'd been pretty convinced of New York's status as the finest food city in the States, but a few experiences last weekend have shaken that conviction a bit.

Out in San Francisco, I spent a fast-paced, food-focused weekend hosted by Foodbuzz, an online community of bloggers and food lovers.

Most of the activity was based around the Ferry Building, which is like a gastronomic Disneyland, especially on Saturdays when the farmers' market takes place there.

Mission Minis Cupcakes

So... what exactly does one do at a food blogging fest? I'd asked myself the same thing.

Apparently, you eat. A lot.


Foodbuzz set up a number of truly tasty events, from a gathering of top street food vendors (even now my mouth waters at the thought of the divine porchetta sandwich from Roli Roti) to talks and tastings by food producers (such as Sue Conley, a founder of Cowgirl Creamery) to a delicious closing-night dinner set up in the Greenleaf produce warehouse and set up by the talented folks at Outstanding in the Field.

In between the scheduled events, I met a lot of terrific people and enjoyed some of the culinary delights of the Bay Area. Some highlights:
My deepest thanks to Foodbuzz for putting together the wonder-filled event. Meanwhile, if you'd like a peek at the festivities (and all that tasty food) just click to find the photo tour here.

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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Video Treat: Saxelby's Cheese Sandwich

This savory little treat is overdue, but tasty nevertheless... and since it's an ideal choice for New Year's Eve appetizers, I think now's the right time to unveil it.

Behold! Snazzy grilled cheese as done by Anne Saxelby, charming monger of the Essex Street Market.

This video was captured at this year's NYC International Pickle Festival, back when short sleeved shirts and light summer dresses were appropriate attire. (Oh, how I pine for the sun!)

Saxelby's Snazzy Grilled Cheese
Good sliced bread
Olive oil for drizzling
Puréed pickled peppers (Anne uses Rick's Picks Peppi Pep Peps)
Thin slices of feta cheese

1. Lay out two slices of bread and drizzle olive oil on one side of one of the slices.
2. Spread about a tablespoon of pureed pickled peppers on that same slice of bread.
3. Stack two thin slices of feta cheese atop the pickled pepper puree.
4. Top the stack with the other slice of bread and toast the sandwich in a hot panini grill for 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Slice into quarters and serve immediately.

You may ask yourself, why would this sandwich make a good New Year's Eve treat? Good question!

Salty, rich foods often go well with drier bubbly sips, so when you crack open the Champagne (or maybe try a Spanish Cava this year... it's just as festive and waaay cheaper), I'd urge you to consider serving up a few wedges of Anne's Grilled Cheese as a cheesy, cheery pairing partner. Delight ensured.

May the new year be healthy, happy and even more delicious than the last.

Cheers to auld lang syne, my dears!
Miss Ginsu

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Recession-Proof: Bahn Mi Sandwiches

One of the first food adjustments people consider during downmarket days are meats. Like eggs and dairy products, meat is one of those commodities that shows an immediate rate jump. Those Porterhouses and T-bone steaks start looking mighty dear.

And you'll also note that the traditional foods of most cultures tend to embrace "scrap" meat and cheaper cuts. Ground meat, sausages, scrapple, haggis, cured belly bacon, tougher cuts long-stewed to tenderize... these are the foods of the commoners.

Thus, the bahn mi, a Vietnamese-French fusion sandwich made of chopped fresh vegetables with pate, roast pork or ground meat on a baguette, is a classic recession-proof recipe.
Banh Mi (Makes 4 sandwiches)

For the carrots
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp sugar
Dash fish sauce (optional)
3-4 carrots, shredded

For the sandwiches
2 baguettes (or 4 long sandwich rolls)
1/4 lb roast pork or ham
1 small cucumber, peeled & cut into long strips
1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves picked
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
1/8 lb pork liver pate
Chili sauce (I like Sriracha), to taste
Chili peppers (optional)

1. Prepare the carrots: Mix vinegar with water, sugar and fish sauce (if using). Brine the carrots in this mixture overnight in the refrigerator.
2. To make the sandwiches, slice the baguettes in half, cut each one open and distribute the mayonnaise and pate across the bread.
3. Top each dressed baguette with a thin slice of roast pork/ham. Distribute the carrots, cucumber and cilantro leaves. Add chili sauce or peppers to taste and serve immediately.

Not only does this recipe conservatively use its meat component, you'll note it also makes good use of the recession-proof extender factor in the use of the bread as a cheap and tasty tummy filler.

Happy Eating,

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FoodLink Roundup: 05.26.08

Cupcake's Link Roundup
Last week, Cupcake was located out at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. (Go, Hazard, go!) Where in the world is Cupcake this week? Post a guess in the comments.

Inside the chef's larders
Uncovering the grocery products that UK chefs love.

A Caucasian cheese circle
"Even the best cheese cannot change everybody's attitudes overnight."

Carrotmob Bargains for Eco-Friendliness
A nice demonstration of the utility of consumer pressure.

That's Gross: Bread Head Bakery
Bread art. Not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.

The BYOB Hero
A delightful-looking sandwich option for a food-deprived district of Manhattan...

Why low-fat ice cream melts faster
Deciphering ice cream additives with science! If my high school chem teacher had run this kind of experiment, I might have paid more attention in class...

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Recession-Proof Recipes: The Saladwich

Confessional time: I love sandwiches. Truthfully, I'm rather sandwich crazy. This is probably a personality flaw on my part, but for some reason, everything tastes better when it's wrapped in some kind of starch.

J is generally the opposite. Bread is often too... you know, bready. Having been spoiled by homemade bread and Paris living, he's a bread nerd who'll just do without if he can't get something from the fine local bakers at Sullivan Street, Balthazar or, in a pinch, Le Pain Quotidien.

Now, I love a gorgeous loaf, but I'm not half so choosy. I mean, sometimes I really need a sandwich. If I always waited for the perfect loaf to roll into my fingers, I'd deprive myself of one of life's greatest pleasures.

It's a salad! It's a sandwich!

Enter the saladwich. This recipe provides not only an economical meal, but a problem-solver. J gets his salad, I get my sandwich, and we're both happy and well-fed. It's also a great meal for households in which someone's concerned about carb reduction or there's a split between veggies and meat-eaters.

Convertible Greek Saladwiches (serves 2)
1/2 hothouse cucumber, sliced thin
1/2 small red onion, sliced thin
1/3 cup cooked chickpeas
1-2 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 head green leaf lettuce, washed and chopped/torn
1-2 whole wheat pitas, halved
Cooked chicken cutlets, tuna or leftover steak, sliced (optional)

Tahini Dressing
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1 garlic clove
2 Tbsp tahini
6 oz plain yogurt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Toss together the cucumber slices, onions, chickpeas, dill and tomatoes (as well as any meat, if desired) with the chopped or torn lettuce.
2. Blend the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, yogurt and tahini in a blender or food processor. Season to taste with the salt and pepper.
3. Dress the salad mix and serve to anyone who's eating the dish as a salad. Stuff 3/4 cup of the salad mix in the pita halves, drizzle with additional dressing, and serve in pita form to anyone who prefers a sandwich.

If you have extra dressing (and you should), save it for a future salad or use it for dipping raw vegetables. Mmm...
Bon appétit!

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All-American Road Trips: Denver

Rocky Mountains, Colorado

The Big View

Flanked by mountains and ringed with highways, it's easy to get lost in Denver's strip malls, chain restaurants and outer-ring developments, but once you find your way to Colfax Avenue, you're on the road to dining with the locals.

I was suffering from a dreadful cold on the trip, so we didn't get out to the bars at all, but there were a couple of spots that came highly recommended by my buddy Alex (a former Denverite):

My Brother's Bar: "A classy spot with fantastic burgers (try a JCB burger)."

The Cruise Room: "If you're staying right downtown this is a good bet for cocktails, though the crowd can be a bit obnoxious on the weekend."

The Bites

Jack Daniels Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Just blocks from the Botanical Garden, Liks Ice Cream is a friendly neighborhood joint that features homemade ice creams and sorbets alongside umbrella-shaded outdoor seating. If you're not up for ice cream, the iced coffees and chai seem like a good bet. I had the Jack Daniel's Chocolate Chip, which tastes lightly alcoholic and quite creamy... very much like an iced Bailey's.

Though it's not exactly a cafe, I'm a book junkie, so the Tattered Cover gets a happy mention. Good coffee, tasty-looking pastries and, of course, books! They have several locations, but why not go to the historic LoDo locale? It's huge, comfy, welcoming and chock-full of high-quality staff picks to help you snag a winner or two among the hundreds of selections on the shelves.

Pete's Kitchen

Serving 24 hours daily in a slightly seedy stretch of Colfax Ave, Pete's Kitchen is a classic greasy spoon. My friend Alex recommended it for the chicken-fried steak. The "how ya doin' hon?" staff all seem sweet and genial, if harried. Pete's has been an institution since 1942, so you're here as much for the history as for the gyros platter with fries.

Side Dishes at Domo

If you don't make a reservation, you're going to endure a long wait at Domo's country-style Japanese restaurant. But the lobby is large, the decor is warm and engaging, and you can spend a few minutes walking through the various rooms and gardens. I didn't get a good sense of their fish craftsmanship, but their Wankosushi(TM) combo helps to offer sushi newbies an easy way to navigate various classics by offering a pick-three (or pick-five) small-plate option that arrives with miso soup and an array of kitchen-selected side dishes. It's filling, fun and approachable.

Tacos Platter

El Taco De Mexico strikes me as the kind of place that once featured great food at fantastic prices, but now that it's been listed in a few national publications, they've raised the rates a bit. That said, it's still a good lunch spot. The neighborhood seems like one that's recently been reclaimed by a handful of small, arty businesses, so it's nice for a little post-taco stroll. Order in Spanish or English. The staff is fluent in both. You'll sit with the locals, sip horchata and chew your burrito or tacos in a busy, but tidy, diner booth.

The Takeaway

Denver, Denver everywhere, but I never once saw a Denver Sandwich. The classic Denver Sandwich is essentially a western-style omelette on bread. If you're going low-carb, just skip the bread and eat the omelette. This would also be nice with a slice of cheddar or a spicy pepper jack melted across it. Mmmm...

Denver Sandwiches (Serves 2)

4 eggs
2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp butter, melted
Dash of salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup ham, diced
1 green onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup green pepper, diced
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 slices good-quality bread

1. Beat the eggs, milk, melted butter, salt and pepper together until blended. Add the ham, green onion and green pepper.
2. In a heavy frying pan or skillet over a medium flame, heat the olive oil.
3. Pour the egg mixture into the pan, creating an even layer.
4. Cook about 3-5 minutes, lifting the edges to allow excess egg run underneath.
5. Run a spatula around the edges of the pan to loosen the eggs. Turn the omelette carefully, and cook another minute or two on the other side. Slide onto a plate and cut in half.
6. Toast and butter the bread, using half of the omelette for each sandwich.

Tattered Cover Book Store
1628 16th St

Liks Ice Cream
Liks Ice Cream Parlor on Urbanspoon
2039 E 13th Ave

Domo on Urbanspoon
1365 Osage St
(Just off W Colfax Ave)

Pete's Kitchen
Pete's Kitchen on Urbanspoon
1962 E Colfax Ave

El Taco de Mexico
El Taco de Mexico on Urbanspoon
714 Santa Fe Dr


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Food Quote Friday: Men at Work

Image by Kham Tran

Buying bread from a man in Brussels,
he was six foot four and full of muscles.
I said, do you speak-a my language?
He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich.

Men at Work from Business As Usual

More salty, yeasty food quotes can be found within the food quote archive

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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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Desktop Panini 101

Tired of brown-bagging cold sandwiches? Here's my method for making hot, crusty paninoteca-style delights in my cubicle with no fuss and no mess. I've been doing it all week and I'm hooked.

This is so darn simple, it's really more of a method than a recipe.
Desktop Panini
1 roll of aluminum foil
1 George Foreman grill or electric waffle iron
electrical socket
desk space
sandwich of your choice

1. Plug in grill/iron. (Don't plug it into the same outlet as your computer. I'm not going to be responsible for the productivity dive when you blow a fuse or something.)
2. Wrap sandwich in foil.
3. Toast sandwich in grill/iron for 12-16 minutes.

A few sample panini combos to try:
Cuban sandwiches (mustard, pork, ham & Provolone with pickles)
Roast beef & cheddar
Reubens or "Rachel" sandwiches (turkey, sauerkraut, thousand-island dressing & swiss)
Roasted onion, red pepper & sun-dried tomato
Turkey, provolone & pesto with hummus
Sauerkraut, grainy mustard & pastrami

I find desktop panino work best with sandwiches that include cheese, but now that I think about it, I bet a Nutella-banana sandwich would be tasty, too.

Whatever you go with, it'll end up toasty on the outside, gooey on the inside. Easy-peasy, yummy and cheesy. Downside? Jealous coworkers will smell what you're up to...

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The Year of the Cock

Ugh... A Blogger publishing issue erased my post, and I'm too depressed to recreate it right now.

Here's the short version: Chinese New Year. Golden Unicorn restaurant in Chinatown. Awful Service. Decent Food. And a good time was had by all.

And... a photo of the Peking Duck Sandwich preparation for your viewing pleasure.

Peking Duck

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On the joys of Legos and Sandwiches

Joy! It's another wacky time-waster to provide lunchtime entertainment!

I've made my own portrait as a celebration of a couple of my favorite things: beer and sandwiches.

Speaking of which, is there a more perfect food genre? Sandwiches, I mean.

So versatile, so mobile, so tasty. There's few things I don't love more on a bun. Or a roll. Or toasted bread. For that matter, one might argue that pizza is simply an open-faced hot sandwich.

If we were to play the "what to bring when stranded on a desert island" game, there'd better be sandwiches, or I'm not going.

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A Moment of Tomato Bliss

Anything you're forced to eat over the sink or off the edge of the deck has got to be good eats.

Case in point: the Summer Tomato Sandwich.

My landlord leaves tomatoes and cucumbers on the ledge of my kitchen windowsill. These strange (but very welcome) offerings make their way into my meals in a whimsical, offhand fashion.

The Summer Tomato Sandwich is maybe the most simple, most beautiful of these celebratory dining moments.
1. Take one perfectly ripe garden-grown tomato.
2. Slice fresh-baked bread (my current favorite is the farmer's market garlic-cheese loaf).
3. Slather bread slices with a thin layer of mayonnaise for use as a flavor and moisture-barrier component.
4. Season tomato slices with salt and freshly-ground pepper. Place tomato slices atop slathered bread slices.
5. Close sandwich and eat immediately over the sink, astride the fire escape, or off the edge of the patio. Experience bliss.
6. Lather, rinse, repeat as needed.

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