Honey and
Ricotta
a food journal

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Grand Central Station


When we decided that we'd be leaving London and moving to NYC, in between planning a move across the ocean, organizing a wedding, sorting out visas, and trying to carry on with normal life as much as possible, I also found time to rewatch the entire of Gossip Girl.



Although I am living far, far away from the Upper East Side, and my life does not ressemble that of Queen S or Queen B in any way shape or form, I couldn't resist standing in the middle of the central concourse at Grand Central Station, hoping that SVDW would show up and the whole show could start again.


Well, S didn't make an appearance, but Grand Central was just as spectacular without her there. A never ending rush of people scurry past, bags trailing after them, weaving in and out of the people staring at the boards of train times, and barging through the tourists standing in the way with their cameras out (Yes, I'm guilty of belonging to that group. But I live here, so can I lose the tourist label now?).


With its glistening marble and stunning chandeliers this train station is magnificent, and exhausting. The perfect place for people watching, even if the Gossip Girl cast don't turn up.


Grand Central Terminal, 89 E 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017  


Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Concord Grape Jelly


I came home from the Farmers' Market on Saturday with a punnet of concord grapes. They looked so pretty, and I was sure I'd seen millions of recipes calling for these tiny little fruits around the blogosphere in the last few weeks.

After two days of the grapes sitting on the side in the kitchen, staring at me every time I reached over them to grab a different fruit or vegetable which I knew how to deal with, or could eat without having to spit out a million seeds, it was time to do something with the little monsters.


So I trawled the internet, hunting for all those magical recipes I'd seen that would put these beautiful grapes to good use, and continually drew a blank. Either I would have to spend lots of fiddly hours deseeding them by hand, or I was going to have to puree and strain and puree and strain and strain and then touch the skins to the water and it was going to go on and on and on forever. Until, eventually, I feel upon this page of concord grape recipes, and the steps for a concord grape jelly mentioned in the grilled cheese recipe didn't sound so bad. 


I simply had to lightly purée (thank you blender machine!) 4 cups of grapes (thankfully this was all I had), until the skins had loosened and the seeds had separated. But I had to be sure to stop before it all blended together into a smooth, but bitter, mush. Once pushed through a sieve, this left me with a splattered bowl full of grape juice, and I considered turning it into wine. I decided against it. Maybe another time.

That juice then goes in a pan with 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. Leave it on a low heat, bubbling away very, very gently, for just over an hour, making sure to stir it often.


You'll be left with a super sticky, perfectly sweet grape jam, which just begs to be paired with peanut butter, and probably also a bagel. This is NYC after all.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Motorino


Normal meal times seem to fly out the window on the weekend in NYC. People are breakfasting any time between 7am and 9pm, brunch is an all-day affair, lunch can drag out from 12pm until dinner, coffee is sipped from morning to night, and cocktails are acceptable at all hours.


This meant we had as much time as we wanted to walk the streets of Williamsburg (and spend a lot of time buying all sorts of beautiful kitchen equipment in Whisk), to burn off that giant doughnut, so that we had enough room in our tummies to squeeze in a couple of slices of pizza.


It was late afternoon by the time we peeked our heads inside Motorino to admire the Italian wood-burning pizza oven, before grabbing one of the happy little red tables on the pavement outside.


A sizzling Soppresata Piccante pizza soon arrived on our table - the sweet tomato sauce and gentle fior di latte melting into each other, the soppresata crisping up, and the chilli flakes scattered over the top giving it an extra hot kick.


Eating this Neapolitan style pizza pie (Why? Can someone please explain why we have to call them pies over here? Please?) was a messy affair. The soft, charred crust could barely hold the luxuriant topping, resulting in us looking very un-Williamsburg-cool with tomato sauce dripping down our chins and olive oil covering our fingers. 


But when you can spend Sunday afternoon eating pizza this tasty, while soaking in the last warm rays of Summer sunshine, I struggle to care about whether I have tomato sauce on my face or not. In fact, I think I'm happier when I do.

Motorino, 139 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Dough Doughnuts


Sunday morning was spent sprinting round Prospect Park with B before heading up to Williamsburg to explore this ultra-hipster neighborhood.


We walked with our (absurdly good) coffees from Sweatshop Café up to the Flea Market on Kent Avenue. Meandering between the stalls of vintage furniture, fur coats and what B described as 'clutter', we eventually sniffed out the Dough Doughnut stand.


Having managed to resist these fried rings of light and crispy dough multiple times now, after a long Sunday morning run it was time to give in to temptation.


Choosing between the traditional glazed  and cinnamon sugar, or the more exotic hibiscus, toasted coconut and chocolate with cocoa nibs, we finally settled on the dulce de leche with toasted almonds. After a brief photoshoot for this doughnut ring which was as big as my face, we bit in, and fought over every last bite.


The dough was airy and not too sweet, leaving plenty of room for the rich, luxurious dulce de lece glaze to shine (and stick to my teeth), while delicate shards of almond gave a tiny little crunch to counteract the squidgy goodness of this perfect doughnut.


Dough Doughnuts, 448 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11205.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

New York Public Library


I applied for my work permit almost as soon as we had a New York address. It was meant to take 3 months to arrive, but it turned up in my letterbox only 2 weeks after I sent off all my forms. My planned 3-month work-free interlude was rudely interrupted with a shiny new American permit card.


I've hidden the acceptance letter away in my desk and have been doing all I can to avoid updating that CV and looking for a job since then. This means I've become a full-time tourist, and part-time housewife.


So yesterday I grabbed my camera and hopped on the tube subway to Manhattan to explore the New York Public Library.


People sat eating lunch on the sun-drenched steps, or in the shady tables under the trees, and tourists stood at the bottom of the steps snapping away at this imposing marble building which sits so resplendently on 5th avenue.


The long corridors, wide staircases, polished floor and striking lanterns make the building seem more like a palace than a library.


Heavy swinging wooden doors lead to rooms filled with rows and rows of dusty books and historic manuscripts.


The wonderfully overwhelming library smell made me a little nostalgic for those university days spent scribbling away hidden amongst the towers of pages and words. 


Through the ornate windows, New York city bustles on by. The sounds of horns, cars, people, roadworks and construction are shut out by the marble walls, so the researchers, students and academics can really focus, with no distractions apart from the beautiful building that surrounds them.


I'm tempted to go back to school so I can spend my days working away in one of those shut-off rooms reserved for people studying the precious books which the rest of us aren't allowed to touch or see. 


New York Public Library, 5th Ave at 42nd Street, New York, NY 10018.


Friday, 25 September 2015

5 Things & 3 More


5 happy moments from this week:

1. Seeing the sunrise on the lake in Prospect Park
2. Lunching on banh mi with B
3. Hot coffee
4. Pink drinks
5. Running down hills

And 3 things to read from the last few days:

2. How to choose what to leave out of what you write.
3. After admiring these photos I want to go and run around the countryside in pretty dresses.

Happy weekend! x

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Spiced Pepper Plum Tart


Yesterday I returned from the market with far too many plums. Although it was tempting to just throw them in the oven with some spices until they turned into a juicy compote (which would have made breakfast this morning infinitely more exciting), I had a free afternoon ahead of me, so something slightly more complex seemed apt.


I curled myself up in one of our giant armchairs with a cup of tea and a huge pile of cookbooks. After bookmarking many, many plum recipes, I eventually settled on Justin Gellatly's Spiced Pepper Plum Tart. It sounded bizarre, and therefore intriguing. In a good way.


The pastry of the tart is filled with black pepper, cinnamon, allspice and orange zest: it smells almost Christmas-y when it's baking in the oven. Who doesn't want an apartment that smells of Christmas cooking on the first day of Fall?


Plums are placed on top of the pastry base and then more of the pastry is grated over the top and sprinkled with Demerara sugar to give it golden, crunchy lid. The spicing blends in with the juicy plums, and with a splash of rich, thick cream drizzled over the top, I can't think off a better way of using up these beautiful September fruits.


Justin's recipe for Spiced Pepper Plum Tart can be found in his brilliant book, Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

One Girl Cookies


There was a limit to the number of times I could walk past this pastel-colored, cake-filled window, with a sign hanging off it which simply reads 'Cookies'. This morning, as I walked past for the 100th time (this heavenly little place is less than a block away, so I really do walk past it at least twice a day), I cracked, and made my way through the white gate into the dreamy bakery which is One Girl Cookies.


An antique display case holds cookies (and lots of what we'd call biscuits, rather than cookies, back home), in all shapes and sizes. On vintage cake stands sit layered cakes with perfect buttercream frosting, and cupcakes with spikes of icing and dashes of colourful sprinkles.


B had been worried that One Girl Cookies would be too twee, too florals and frosting heavy. But the modern, minimalist touches ensure that the café remains the right side of tasteful: if I were to create a bakery (yep, still dreaming), it would look something like this.


A vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting came on a beautiful bright blue plate and a cup of filter coffee was served in a clean-lined, minimal mug.


I sat on the benches and chairs in the long, narrow space which, when the sun shines, spills out on to the tree-lined street, licking chocolate frosting from my fingers and sipping on my coffee, while studying the family tree which is painted like a mural on to the long white-washed wall.


The cupcake was light and fluffy, the icing chocolatey-rich but not over-sweet or over-rich. And the sprinkles were as fabulous and happily colorful as sprinkles always are.


One Girl Cookies, 68 Dean Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Monday, 21 September 2015

A Day Trip to Governors Island


Yesterday was a beautifully sunny, late-September Sunday. Summer is slowly slipping away from us here in NYC, and we were determined to make the most of this blue-skied day. After a quick morning run, a trip to the supermarket and some super speedy cooking, we packed up our picnic and paced down to Brooklyn Bridge Park to catch the ferry over to Governors Island.


The ferry whizzes you past the most spectacular views of Manhattan: the two minute journey across the river is not nearly enough time to snap enough photos of that iconic skyline.


You disembark the Brooklyn ferry on to Buttermilk Promenade and stroll down past rows of perfectly identical, orderly, colonial-style houses.


Governors island was a military base for over 200 years, but now the buildings all stand empty, with the exception of a few art exhibitions and installations. I imagine the island would have an eerie, vacant atmosphere on a winter's evening, but on a bright summer's day when it's bustling with visitors, I would happily move into any one of these buildings and make it my home. I certainly would never get tired of the views from the elegant windows. 


Although, on further reflection, I may need multiple homes. Luckily, there seem to be plenty left here to spare: I'd like to be able to switch between views of Lady Liberty and Ellis Island, to looking out over the Buttermilk Channel to Brooklyn, and of course there would have to be a room from which I could admire the overwhelming towers of Manhattan.



We meandered around the island: with no cars, no buses, no trains (only bicycles and walkers are allowed), the place feels like a giant floating park, decorated with disused buildings which have been left behind from another era. Children happily run and play, adults catch up on sleep on a blanket in the shade, families eat picnics on bright red tables in the dappled light which shines down through the leafy trees.



As we sat with our picnic, gazing at the helicopters flying overhead, breathing in the pollution-free air, we felt many, many miles away from the bustling city. 


We walked off our lunch visiting the many historical landmarks, B making sure I brushed up on my (distinctly lacking) knowledge of American history, while I daydreamed about maybe also moving into one of these yellow houses to spend my days sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch with a jug of iced tea always in reach.


The rest of the afternoon was spent lying under this tree, snoozing and reading: the perfect way to spend a sleepy Sunday. 


Governors Island is open from the end of May to the end of September. The Manhattan Ferry departs from the Battery Maritime Building; the Brooklyn Ferry departs from Pier 6, Brooklyn Bridge Park. For more detailed information on schedules and opening times see here.


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