Snacking through Brooklyn”s Smorgasbord

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All summer long I’ve been trying to make it out to Williamsburg to see what Smorgasbord, the culinary collection of specialty food purveyors at the Brooklyn Flea market, had to offer. Today, I finally made the trek and knew I would not be disappointed. Id previously sampled some of the delicious delicacies from Danny”s Macaroons, The Good Batch and Kings County Jerky Co.and was happy to see all three represented.

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October 25, 2011 at 10:45 pm Leave a comment

Top Snack Finds from the 2011 Summer Fancy Food Show

Lark Fine Foods Salted Rosemary Shortbread

Lark Fine Foods Salted Rosemary Shortbread

 While most of the east coast was battling 95+ degree weather this week, those of us who attended the 2011 Summer Fancy Food Show in Washington, DC were comfortably cool and happily tasting, sipping, crunching and muching our way through the aisles of the annual “snackfest” at the DC Convention Center put on by NASFT (National Association for the Specialty Food Trade).

The Food Show is really something to see and taste with crackers, chips, olives and olive oils, cheeses, specialty teas, BBQ sauces, jams, ice cream and of course cookies from around the world as far as the eyes can see.  Every year I vow not to taste any chocolate products before 12 noon, but with over 2400 companies represented, its incredibly difficult to pass by without sneaking a nibble of treats like Vosges Black Salt Caramel Bar that line the aisles.   Picking the favorites can be difficult, but the Sofi Award Gold and Silver winners give an indication of what’s hot for this year.    Belgian Chocolate S’mores Gelato from Ciao Bella, BBQ sauces from Wild Thymes Farm, Fever Tree Ginger Ale were some of the notable winners in my book.

Among my top “snackfinds” this year were the Salted Rosemary Shortbread and the Scourtins, a french olive cookie, from Lark Fine Foods  an Essex, MA based family owned business run my mother and daughter team. 

Mary Ann McCormick Lark Fine Foods

Pictured here is Mary Ann McCormick with her silver finalist Sofi awards for both products.  All of their cookies and crackers (currently 8 offerings) are made by hand in small batches with all natural ingredients.  The products are advertised as “cookies for grownups” and the minute you taste then you can tell why.  Each cookie in infused with the fresh flavor of rosemary, ginger, lemon and spices that tingle and linger on your tongue.

A few other notable Snack Finds that had my tastebuds singing were:

The Rasberry Lime Rickey from Bonnie’s Jams

Sweet Potato and Sea Salt Chips from Covered Bridge Chips

Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream Mochi in Chocolate Mint, Green Tea & Passion Fruit

Late July Organic Snacks Dude Ranch Multigrain Chips

Ashers Chocolates Crushed Peppermint Chocolate Trees  

The only dissappointment for me was the lack of pretzel offerings.  As a self-confessed “pretzelholic”, I was hoping for some more inventive pretzel creations.  However, this gives me an opportunity to create my own pretzel snack and perhaps be able to win a Sofi award at the 2012 Summer Fancy Food Show.  So, stay tuned!!

July 15, 2011 at 12:50 pm Leave a comment

Stroopwafels Made in Brooklyn?

SNACKFIND FRIDAY 

Handmade STROOPWAFELS from “the good batch“, a Brooklyn-based baking company

When you hear the name Stroopwafel and Brooklyn, in the same sentence, you might think it has something to do with sitting on the stoop in front of a Brooklyn brownstone.  However, a Stroopwafel is actually a waffle-like cookie, that originated in Holland. 

A few years ago, I visited Prague the week between Christmas and New Years.  Having never been to Prague, I could not imagine a more magical time to be there.  The streets were full of snow, the Christmas lights and decorations were everywhere and the holiday market in the square was in full swing.

Cocoa Caramel Stroopwafel

Cocoa Caramel Stroopwafel

To my surprise, in the middle of vendors selling scarves, marionettes, and mugs of mulled cider, there was a man selling the largest gooey and freshly made Stroopwafels I had ever seen.  Stroopwafels, like the name sounds, are actually delicate chewy cookies, made of two thin waffles, with a layer of caramel syrup spread in between. 

Recently, when I was browsing in and out of the shops on Bedford Ave. in Williamsburg, NY and I stopped into RADISH, a fabulous gourmet shop,  you must visit.  They have wonderful sandwiches, homemade soda, and local Brooklyn made products.

When I spotted the Cocoa Caramel Stroopwafels from Brooklyn based, The Good Batch sitting on the counter, I squealed with joy.   I have yet to find freshly baked Stroopwafels anywhere in the U.S. that look or taste anything like what I devoured at the Christmas market in Prague.  Most Stroopwafels I’ve tasted come packaged and are imported from Holland where the recipe originated.  
 

Pastry chef, Anna Gordon is the master of these delectable treats.  She’s created a recipe for both “classic” and “cocoa caramel” Stroopwafels.  Available on line at http://thegoodbatch.com and at several specialty shops around Brooklyn and New York City, she also sells them at the Brooklyn Flea market on Saturdays.  Rumor has it that she has Stroopwafel ice-cream sandwiches for sale at the “Flea”.  I’m planning to head there this weekend to get a taste of this inventive creation.  Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to pick up a marionette and feel like I’m back in Prague.

July 1, 2011 at 1:05 am 3 comments

It’s SnackFind Friday! Chobani Yogurt – Perfect in Lemon and Black Cherry

Please Note:  Today, I’m starting a new feature on my Snacktime Blog called “SnackFind Friday”. Every Friday, I will share with readers a new “SnackFnd” that I’ve recently discovered. I’ll also tweet my Friday “Snackfinds” so follow me @pretzelgirl to keep up with all of my tasty treats.

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with yogurt. I’m not a big fan of sour cream and HATE mayonaise on anything, but yogurt is another story.  (Yes, I have food  issues)  I’ve been through the Dannon’s and Columbo and even Whitney’s (remember them?).  Most American yogurt’s were either too sweet, too runny or to fattening for my tastes.  

 But a few years ago, after a trip through Spain and Italy where I devoured all of the fresh yogurt from Europe, I discovered that I actually like plain yogurt.  Since then, I’ve been hooked on plain “Greek” yogurt, I guess as is the whole country, hence the rise and success of Fage, Stonyfield’s Oikos and Chobani of course.

lemon chobani yogurt

Luscious Lemon Chobani yogurt

black cherry Chobani Yogurt

Black Cherry Chobani Yogurt

Last week in New York, I attended Techmunch,  a traveling Food Blogger conference put on by Babette Pepaj from the fabulous foodie social network, Bakespace, that Chobani co-sponsored. How lucky were we to be able to sample all of the flavors.  The Chobani people were extremely creative and generous, as they shared the 6 oz cups, yogurt shakes and some delectable dips. 

Like I said, I’ve become a plain yogurt eater, so I can control which fruit and how much sugar I like.  However, I absolutely flipped over the newest flavors, Lemon and Black Cherry.  OMG, they really are “to die for”.  Not too sweet.  Chunks of fruit.  Just the right blend and consistency. 

Every day this week I’ve created a new fruit and yogurt combination —  lemon yogurt and blueberries, blackcherry yogurt and bananas, lemon yogurt, blackberries and Grapenuts.  The combinations are endless and delicious. 

I’m searching for Mango, one of Chobani’s other newest flavors.  It seems the best flavors are flying off of the shelves, so I’ll let you know when I score one.  In the meantime, let me know which flavor is your fave!!!

June 17, 2011 at 12:34 pm Leave a comment

Hey, Bon Appetit? What’s with Gwyneth Paltrow? Where did the food go?

Gwyneth Paltrow on Bon Appetit Cover - June 2011

When my June 2011 issue of Bon Appetit arrived last week, I have to say, I was shocked and saddened to see Gwyneth Paltrow paraded on the cover just like on any other fashion or entertainment magazine.  “This is a “food” magazine”,  I thought.   “Why is there a person on the cover?  Has Bon Appetit gone all Hollywood?”  Not that I have anything against Gwyneth Paltrow (I love her work as an actress), it’s just that every month I look forward to getting my Bon Appetit and seeing what the creative editors, chefs and food stylists have selected to grace the cover of my sacred food bible. 

 

I started to write this blog post immediately to voice my disapproval.  However, since I have yet to use this blog to complain, write anything negative or even diss a product, I sat on it for a week.   All week, I was annoyed.     I did not even crack open the magazine to read the cover article to find out why Ms. Paltrow replaced the seasonal vegetable or fruit desserts that usually get their day on the June cover.  I am aware that she has a new cookbook out, and recently traveled to Spain with Mario Batali, however, she is not a famous chef or owns a fantastic NYC restaurant, or hosts a food TV show.   I’ve actually never seen any personality, living or dead, not even Julia Child, on the cover of Bon Appetit.  So, why Gywneth?

But then I read new editor-in-chief, Adam Rapoport’s editors letter, somewhat defending his atypical choice of putting an actress on this month’s cover.   To be fare, perhaps I had over reacted a bit.  She does have a strong food connection with her new book etc.  So yesterday on a long train ride, I stopped my private Bon Appetit boycott and devoured the rest of the June issue.  

I can’t say I found the article about Gwyneth Paltrow, THE GIRL CAN COOK, incredibly interesting however, due to her new book and celebrity status, I can understand why people might be interested in reading about her.   I was more interested in the gorgeous photos in the article, FREEZE! RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE…of ice pops, granita and frozen creations that I expect from Bon Appetit and THE TOAST WITH THE MOST, how to make crostini like a pro.  And don’t get me wrong.  I love to read about people doing creative and interesting things with food, like in the article THE FANTASTIC MR. AND MRS. HENDERSON, featuring Fergus Henderson who recently opened London’s new St. John Hotel. 

The article itself featured mostly a photo shoot with beauty shots of the actress rather than of her recipes.  But to make matters worse, the recipes themselves were relatively bland, like the article.  Perhaps she was just the wrong cover choice,  not because she is a Hollywood celebrity, but because she is not really doing anything new or innovative with food.  So, I wish her luck on her new book and am curious to see if this cover helped sales of the magazine.  As evidenced by the negative comments on the Bon Appetit site, I highly doubt this will help.

So to my friends at Bon Appetit, I don’t mind an occasional celeb gracing the cover, but to satisfy those who frequent your establishment, make it a person that’s more of an “main course” than a “starter”.

May 24, 2011 at 4:13 pm 3 comments

Cookies the “Canyon Ranch” Way – Guilt Free and Gluten Free

Gluten Free Orange Pecan Cookie

Canyon Ranch Orange Pecan Cookies

This past weekend, I spent an energetic and invigorating but relaxing weekend at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, MA celebrating a good friend’s birthday.  We exercised several hours a day which enabled us to enjoy the delicious and guilt-free snacks and cuisine offered by the talented chefs at this “healthy living” resort. 

As a big ”snacker”, I’m always looking for a tasty and healthy little nibble between or after a meal that satisfies my constant cravings for something sweet and chewy.  While I love dessert, I try to limit my intake. 
 
A  cookie can be a good choice for a snack but they are usually high in calories, full of bad fat and carbs.   But not so at Canyon Ranch.  They bake delicious fresh cookies every day, that are healthier than processed cookies and less “fattening” than most other homemade recipes or bakery products due to the inclusion of different flours, less butter and sugar.
 
My favorite Canyon Ranch sweet of the weekend was the Orange Pecan Cookies.   Not only were they exceptionally tasty, but they’re Gluten Free too, a healthful choice for anyone with gluten allergies.  This flourless and “butter-less” homemade treat is flavored with orange zest and orange extract and studded with chopped pecans.  It’s just the right snack to satisfy my sweet tooth any time of the day — in the morning, between workouts, or for a small dessert.  
 
Recipe from the Canyon Ranch – Lenox, Ma  website:
 

Orange Pecan Cookies (Gluten Free)

(Makes 20 (2-cookie) servings)
Ingredients:2 cups chopped pecans 
2/3 cup cane sugar
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
2 teaspoons orange extract
3 beaten egg whitesInstructions:1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat a baking sheet lightly with canola oil.2. Place pecans in food processor and process until oily in texture. Add cane sugar, orange peel and extract and mix briefly by hand. Add egg whites slowly and mix by hand until a thin dough forms. Chill in refrigerator at least 2 hours or overnight.

3. Measure heaping teaspoonfuls of dough and place 2-inches apart onto baking sheet. Bake  8 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely before removing from pan.

 
NUTRITION FACTS
 
One serving – TWO 2 1/2 in Canyon Ranch Orange Pecan Cookies  
110 calories
8 gm. fat
9 gm. carbohydrate
0 mg. cholesterol
1 gm. protein      
4 mg. sodium      
1 gm. fiber 
 
For comparion –
ONE Keebler Pecan Sandie contains:
 80 calories
5 gm. fat
9 gm. carbohydrate
5 mg. cholesterol
1 gm. protein      
50 mg. sodium      
 
So it looks like the Canyon Ranch “fresh baked” Orange Pecan Cookies contain almost half the calories and carbs than a store bought processed product like Keebler Pecan Sandies. With no cholesterol and limited sodium as well, the Orange Pecan Cookies, in my opinion, not only taste great, but are healthier too.
 
I can’t wait to bake up a batch of the Orange Pecan Cookies. The recipe can be found in the Gluten Free section of the Canyon Ranch website.   Check out Canyon Ranch Dessert Recipes for other cookie and dessert recipes.  Let me know your favorite.

May 9, 2011 at 4:41 pm 1 comment

London’s Tasty Treats

Now that the hoopla surrounding the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton has died down, Londoners will resume their normal day to day activities such as working, shopping and eating out in fabulous restaurants.  Yes, you read me correctly.  London has fabulous restaurants….. now!

On a recent trip to London a few weeks ago, I came across some fabulous food shops and ate in amazing restaurants that rival anything in NY, SF or LA.   The reaction to the statement “London has excellent food these days”, has caught many of my American friends, who have not visited London in the past 5-8 years, by surprise . 

I’ve been fortunate to visit this new culinary hotspot several times over the past few years and have experienced a whole new culinary world of delightful specialty food shops and spectacular restaurants with creative and delicious cuisine.

On my recent trip, I spent a fair amount of time browsing in the Nottinghill and Westbourne Grove neighborhoods which are speckled with gourmet shops offering everything from cheeses to chocolates to homemade pasta.  London’s gone “Green” too with sustainable restaurants and products while others shops have tapped into the American trends, (i.e. cupcakes),  that are almost over here in the “States”.

So here are a few of my new favorites in Notting Hill.

HUMMINGBIRD BAKERY

This trip I branched out from my usual stop to Clarkes (122-124 Kensington Church Street)      and headed straight to The Hummingbird Bakery on Portobello Road.   They are known for selling “American cakes and cupcakes”.  Visiting Hummingbird is reminiscent of the adorable retro bakeshop decor we find at places like the original Magnolia Bakery in NYC.   

Hummingbird is known for their red velvet cake which rivals any others I’ve tasted.  Moist,  dense cake with a not too sweet creamcheese icing.  Their cupcakes especially pretty and  not overly iced like many of the typical American cupcakes I’ve tasted.  One taste and you’ll be hooked.  London has jumped on the “cupcake bandwagon”, and Hummingbird Bakery rivals the best in America.

 

MELT

I’ve recently started making chocolates so I know how difficult and time consuming it is.  So, when I happened upon MELT (59 Ledbury Road) in Notting Hill just before Easter,

I was amazed by the unbelievable chocolate creations.   I had a chance to talk with once of the Chocolatiers who walked me through the process of making one of these giant eggs.

MELT features and “in-store” chocolate kitchen where the chocolatiers create and decorate their lovely and colorful truffles daily as well as the seasonal chocolate eggs.  This way you can ensure that you are getting fresh every day.

May 5, 2011 at 7:31 pm 1 comment

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