Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Takeout

I figured I'd better write about this while it's still somewhat relevant! You get two posts today since the laptop ate my brotchen post yesterday.

For the second year in a row, I've relied on McCaffrey's, a local grocery chain, to supply me with a yummy alternative to turkey for Thanksgiving. So far, I haven't been sorry. They offer what is basically a vegetarian pot pie that is loaded with seitan and dressing. I usually order the smaller version which is $16.99 and I am able to pick it up that morning before they close. It's up to me to bake it and that usually takes about an hour to an hour and a half. I baste it with butter and stick it in a 375 degree oven. It also comes with gravy! Last year it was sort of bland but they improved their game plan this year because it was really awesome!

It's a good size too. I ate my fill of it for Thanksgiving and still had a ton of it leftover to share with some friends last night. It reheats really well in the oven.

I know it's difficult to imagine Thanksgiving without turkey. This is my 3rd turkeyless holiday and it's getting easier. Especially when there's usually so many delicious sides to choose from...

My mother-in-law always makes a dish of stuffing outside of the turkey. She also makes killer stuffed mushrooms that I will try to get the recipe for and post someday. They're seriously good. She actually made her own cranberry sauce too! Needless to say, she was busy! Top that plate off with some mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts and I had it going on! I didn't even have room for sweet potatoes. I had to eat some food off of my plate first! I was just as full and happy as the people who ate turkey.

We also repeated our pumpkin pie order from Cranbury Delights this year as well. I didn't get a picture of it before it got eaten up.

Click here for a listing of McCaffrey's locations. It really is a great place to shop.

Cranbury Delights
64 N Main Street
Cranbury, NJ 08512

Whatever you want to call it...

I had this post all nice and typed up for yesterday and my computer ate it! I guess those brotchen looked too good for it to resist! Let's try this again...

While we were on our trip, I was already expecting to encounter one blast from my past. While we were in Austria, I encountered another...brotchen! Chris grew up calling them Kaiser rolls. I can clearly remember the packages of these rolls that my Opa would bring home from Germany that had a solider on the front of the bag. They're about the size of hamburger buns but instead of being soft, they're quite crispy on the outside. I can remember sitting at the table with my Opa while he cut open a brotchen and scooped the inside out with his fingers. My eyes would watch him deposit the unwanted glutenous filling next to his plate and then I would immediately pounce! I'd grab the bread and stuff it into my mouth and I'd wonder all the while how he could resist not putting away every last morsel of these delicious things! When I got older, I realized that it's easier to butter the inside of the rolls if you scoop out the extra bread. However, I still eat what I remove from the brotchen!

These rolls are hard to come by in the U.S. Oma and Opa live near a Vietnamese bakery that has a pretty good brotchen but they aren't round. They're still tasty and when I visit, they always make it a point to have them for breakfast several times! My Opa is probably their best customer.

While we were in Austria, I kid you not when I say that I easily ate a dozen of these things in four days. I should rename this blog The Brotchen Diet.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Viennese Coffee

Hello! I'm back from my AMAZING trip to Austria and Germany. I am surprised I was able to fit into my seat on the plane to come home because I ate SO MUCH! I suppose that the large amounts of walking helped! I definitely put some mileage on my Converse! I've been making up for it these past few days by being pretty darn lazy! This jet lag has me barely able to keep my eyes open!

We didn't have a single bad meal the entire time we were away. Everything that passed through my lips was to die for. No joke. I figured I'd kick the post trip posts off with something that Vienna is quite famous for: Coffee!

Coffee in Vienna isn't just a drink, it's an experience. The craftsmanship that goes into each beverage along with the velvety smooth espresso is unmatched. I ordered the same thing every time which was a caffe macchiato
Macchiato translates from Italian as "marked". The dark espresso slightly stains the white foamy milk. A proper macchiato is almost an even mixture of liquid milk and foam. I've had one that comes close at Starbucks but the espresso tastes so scorched that you have to mask it with caramel flavoring. This was perfect. You can see the beautiful layering of the drink in this picture. Pardon the dark shots. I was trying to photograph my food without disrupting other patrons.
We decided to share some dessert to go with our coffee and Chris insisted on Kaiserschmarrn. As you can see in the picture, it is a thick German pancake that is cut into pieces, sprinkled with sugar and served with a warm compote of plums. This picture doesn't really convey how HUGE of a serving that was given to us. We couldn't even finish it which is practically unheard of! Ha! We had some serious food envy from the table next to us when they brought it out. I can't say that I blame them. It should also be stated that Chris had serious drink envy when he tasted my macchiato.

ETA: I went to Starbucks tonight and ordered a macchiato. It tasted like I was drinking a campfire.

Friday, November 13, 2009

We Shall Meet Again!

This is a picture from our trip this summer of my typical German breakfast. The bread is the star of this show. There are few, if any, that I covet more than a good German bread. The dense sponginess inside surrounded by a chewy crust. My Opa used to bring it home from his trips overseas and all you need to do is slather it with a little butter and you will instantly take me back to my childhood. It sounds much easier than it actually is. I've tried for a looooong time to find bread that comes even close to this and it's almost impossible. The closest I've found, so far, was in Montreal.

When we were in Germany this summer, we stayed at the Hotel Agneshof. A free breakfast came with our room and I took full advantage of it every morning. The bread was just like my Opa used to bring home and I stuffed myself full of it. After each breakfast, I was already looking forward to the next. It was one of my favorite edible memories of our trip this summer because it reminded me of one of my favorite edible memories of my life. That bread.

Tuesday we leave for Vienna and we're also going back to Germany. We're staying in the same hotel as we did this summer. Chris knew how much I wanted to stay at the Agneshof again and it didn't seem possible at first. There is a world famous Christmas Market that kicks off two days after we leave (darn it!) and so the hotel costs are much higher than they were this summer. We were discouraged last weekend while we were trying to book a room. The next morning, he came bursting into the bathroom while I was in the shower. He told me that he had good news that he didn't want to wait to tell me. The cost of the room went down from the night before and he was able to book it for the trip. I was thrilled. This hotel is right in the center of town and so conveniently located. I will be able to walk everywhere I want to go while we're in Germany. The location alone is worth staying at the Agneshof. If that doesn't sell you, do it for the breakfast. Do it for the bread.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Bucks Outing

Last Saturday, the family met up with some friends (Shannon, Laura and Kate) and we did a little caravan into Bucks County, PA so we could wander around in Doylestown. We'd been there before but so many of the adorable shops close early so we wanted to come back when we would have more time to explore. I've been to several Bucks towns now and for the longest time, I really loved New Hope. Doylestown has it beat! They have everything I could possibly want: good food, used books, vintage jewelry, music, stuff for my dog.... Really, that is just the tip of the iceberg. I would advise you to arrive at noon if you plan to make a day of shopping because we still missed out on several places that closed at 5.

Who could resist a sign like this? We couldn't so we went inside. They had adorable things and two of my friends splurged on something.

The next place we ended up was the Doggie Deli. This shop is full of decadence for your pooch. They have an amazing selection of treats big and small plus an incredibly friendly and helpful owner. He actually has little stations set up all over town with free treats to lure in potential customers. Shannon already wants to come back for some Christmas shopping and I think I saw the perfect gift for Chowder.

This is the case and as you can see, the selection is quite vast. We got our little man a few treats and they've all been enthusiastically gobbled up!

We walked past a fancy little bakery called Let Them Eat Cupcakes. They must be pretty popular because they were cleaned out! The cupcakes are $2.50 a pop and were a decent size. They had a good selection of flavors as well. We were saving our appetites for dinner so we passed but I have every intention of hitting them up next time.

I might have been more inclined to spoil my dinner if I hadn't been distracted by the amazing vintage jewelry shop across the street!! This lady had my number! We went inside and I immediately wanted everything! The selection of gorgeous baubles is unbelievable and the prices are not bad. Of course, the main thing I wanted was over $200 but it was over 100 years old! I did score a bunch of stuff off of their 5 dollar rack as well as a Christmas gift for my Oma. I've already worn one of my pieces and still can't believe I only paid $5 for it. I have a killer piece to wear to the opera in Vienna next week!

We wandered in and out of a few more shops including a fabulous record store and some clothing and knick knack shops. We stopped in at a used book shop that had a fantastic selection at some seriously good prices. I got a copy of A Confederacy of Dunces for less than five bucks. Most of their paperback selections that were still in the bestseller list were priced around the same mark.

After the bookstore, we searched out some dinner. We decided to go somewhere low key and found everything we were looking for in Basically Burgers. We walked in and they even had the Alabama/LSU game on! (ROLL TIDE!) Not only did they have a nice selection for the omnis, they had a choice of three different veggie burgers. Morningstar and even Boca for the vegans. They also had gluten free buns. I had a black bean burger with cheddar and a few other fixings. We shared some fries (I recommend the sweet potato fries!) and I splurged and got a chocolate shake that was absolutely amazing. They have a reasonably priced kids menu with pb&j (you can even get it grilled!) and other classic fare. Don't come looking for anything outside of the basic American burger, hotdog and fries spectrum. They don't branch to far from that but they do deliver a solid meal at a reasonable price with friendly service. I would definitely go back. They beat the pants off of Cheeburger Cheeburger.

You wouldn't have to twist my arm very much to get me back to Doylestown! However, I think they should rename it Averystown!

Basically Burgers
12 West State Street
Doylestown, PA

Central Books
35 West State Street
Doylestown, Pa

Twenty East Vintage Jewelry
20 East Oakland Ave
Doylestown, PA

Let Them Eat Cupcakes
17 East Oakland Ave
Doylestown, PA 18901

Doggie Deli
19 Donaldson St
Doylestown, PA 18901

Siren Records
25 East State St
Doylestown, PA 18901

Sweet Blossoms Lingerie Boutique
65 South Main St
Doylestown, PA 18901

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Say Fromage!

I am enjoying these Paris posts. They bring back a lot of fantastic memories.

I mentioned before that we were renting a small efficiency apartment so we had access to a kitchen. We tried to keep the cost of the trip down by eating in at least one meal a day. Sometimes we kept our meals relatively simple (Maybe even to the point of stereotypical): Bread, cheese, fruit and wine.

This was the meal that topped off our day of walking to and from the Eiffel Tower. It was 7 miles each way so we were tuckered out by the time we hiked the 5 flights of stairs back up to our place. We passed by an outdoor market, a patisserie and also a fromagerie and made a mental note to stop in on the way back to pick up some dinner (and dessert!).

I would have to dig through a lot of my scraps and cards from the trip in order to relay the names and addresses of the places we stopped and hopefully I can update later with that information. The good news for anyone who might be reading this and planning a trip to Paris is that there are amazing bakeries and cheese shops everywhere so it would almost be pointless. The gentleman working behind the counter at the fromagerie was really nice and helped us to select a few different types of cheeses from his incredible spread.
These are all different types of goat cheese.

We each selected a dessert from the patisserie that was a few shops down. I selected a giant chocolate macaroon. I forget what Chris had but it is pictured in the bottom right corner of the first photo. I do remember that he enjoyed it very much. As you can see, we also picked up a baguette.

They say that the best cheeses are the smelliest and I think there is definitely something to it. We asked the gentleman behind the fromagerie counter to help us to select something and he sent us home with this...
This is the cheese that was inside of the large round container in the middle of the table.

It was creamy, luscious and it stunk to high heaven! It took us several days to finish it since it was on the larger side and every time we opened the fridge, it smelled like we had a dead body in there. Chris and I still laugh about it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Birthday Pie

Yesterday was my 32nd birthday. We basically spent the weekend celebrating. Saturday was an outing with some friends in Doylestown, PA (post coming within the week) and Sunday was spent reading the onslaught of internet well wishes and talking on the phone with friends and family. Thinking about it still makes me feel mighty special.

My birthday was a gold mine of blog inspiration between the PA trip and the 25 year old bottle of balsamic vinegar that my friend Shannon got me (!!!). The focus for today will be the lovely dinner we had with the inlaws last night.

My mother-in-law is always very thoughtful when it comes to fixing meat free stuff and I always appreciate it. If she makes spaghetti, she always makes me a small pot of marinara sauce. For Thanksgiving, I know I can count on a small pan of stuffing that wasn't cooked inside of the turkey. She knows that I absolutely love it when she makes spanikopita and so she decided to throw down for my birthday.
She always refers to it as Spinach Pie. Chris and I hopefully don't sound too much like foodie elitists we call it spanakopita. She did call him a wise ass over the phone the other day when he said it! The recipe actually comes from her sister-in-law, Madeline (who is Greek). Consider it your party favor. ;-)

2 bags of spinach
6 eggs, beaten
1/4-1/2 lb of butter, melted
2 large onions, minced
Filo dough (in the frozen section of your grocery store)
1.5-2 lbs of feta cheese

Allow your filo to defrost in the fridge the day you are planning to make this dish.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl: Mix spinach, eggs, half of the butter, onions and feta cheese. Add enough flour to soak up extra juice.

Butter the bottom of the pan Layer the bottom and the side of the pan with filo dough. Put one half of the spinach mixture in the pan and cover it with 6-8 lightly buttered sheets of filo. Add the rest of the spinach mixture and top with more buttery filo layers. Fold in the sides. Add butter to the top.

Bake for an hour and check for doneness. Add an additional fifteen minutes if it needs it.

For dessert, I always request a cherry pie from Delicious Orchards on my birthday. It's one of my favorite things. The pies at Delicious Orchards are amazing but on the pricey side so we usually save them for a special occasion.
This place is pretty awesome though. They have a huge bakery as well as a nice selection of cooking ingredients. There is a deli, a lovely produce section and all sorts of delightful edibles tucked here, there and throughout. Everything from mustards to extracts. I recommend stopping in if you're in the mood for something a little bit special.

Delicious Orchards
320 State Route 34
Colts Neck, NJ 07722

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Dias de los Muertos

Last Sunday, I took down my Halloween decorations (I was pretty impressed with myself for being so quick about it!) and I used the space that was occupied by my haunted village to put up my Dias de los Muertos altar. I used lot of TLC and I think it came out pretty good. A friend of mine told me that I'd obviously forgotten some of my Halloween decor but I told him that this was something different. I agree that it looks a bit morbid but The Day of the Dead or All Souls Day is actually very beautiful.

As I was adding the various elements to my altar, I fondly recalled the loved ones that have passed on from this world. Grandparents, my friend Pat, Chris' brother Adam.... I used those serene moments to send thanks for their impact on our lives and to hope that they all know how much we still love and miss them.

I cooked a huge meal and invited some people over. One family was sick but we were fortunate that the Grady family was able to make it. I know it's a Mexican holiday but I cooked Indian food. I was seriously craving it. I did make a banana bread in my new skull pan. It turned out really cool...

This is actually the recipe from A Homemade Life for banana bread with chocolate chips and candied ginger. It wasn't planned to far ahead. The fact that I had four very ripe bananas in my fruit basket sealed the deal!

It was a huge pan so I doubled the recipe. It turned out really nice. I had enough leftover to send home with my guests and to offer up to my Tuesday knitters and they were all swooning over it.

The Grady's just welcomed their second child, a baby boy, into the world on October 2nd. I was holding him and just reveling in his newness. The circle of life really is a wonderous thing.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I Like Buttah.

I have exciting news. I am always a little hesitant to allow that particular statement to escape from my lips because when you're a 31 year old woman who has been happily married for over 3 years, the first thing that everyone assumes is that you're pregnant. I'm not pregnant. As a matter of fact, my exciting news wouldn't be possible if we had a baby!

My husband is taking me to VIENNA this month!!! He has a business trip and he bought me a plane ticket for my birthday!!! We're leaving two weeks from today!! We also have to go back to Germany for a few days and I am really looking forward to returning to the same hotel we stayed in this summer and eating the yummy (complimentary) breakfast!

For the next few weeks, I'm going to be researching and checking out possible links to cool places I need to explore. I found myself wondering aloud the other day if the butter in Austria is nearly as good as it is in France. If I could find a shop like Da Rosa, I'd be pretty happy!

Da Rosa is an amazing little foodie haven in the 6th arr that elegantly displays many drool worthy items.
(like lavender rice!)

We went there specifically looking for butter....

We bought two different kinds. Both were lightly salted but one was a little bit special...

You see those little black flecks? That is smoked salt. I cannot begin to write about how amazing it smelled melting in the pan while I was preparing dinner in our little apartment. I'd never do the memory justice. The best way to enjoy it was on a lovely baguette. There are so many little things that come to mind when I recall our trip and this is close to the top of the list. I am going to Vienna to enjoy some amazing art but I will also be on the lookout for butter.

If you are a foodie in Paris, I implore you to go to Da Rosa. If I had only one day, it would be on the top of my list. I'd buy a baguette, some salted caramels and some butter. Then I would happily munch away while strolling through the Louvre towards the Seine.

Da Rosa
62 Rue de Seine
75006 Paris, France