Honey and
Ricotta
a food journal

Friday, 26 August 2016

B'klyn Burro


Compared to London, New York is a Mexican food haven. If you look hard enough you can find spectacular bursting burritos, freshly made tacos, perfectly smashed guacamole, bracing margaritas, and sweet agua frescas. In London, no matter how hard you search, the Mexican food scene just isn't going to revolutionise your life, although it may satisfy your cravings for black beans and avocado every once in a while. However, in this here huge place called the United States, New York Mexican food is deemed to be infinitely inferior to that which you can find on the other, sunnier coast. 


However, it seems that a small slice of that Californian-take on Mexican food has found its way to Brooklyn. B'klyn Burro has spent a few years floating around serving up over-flowing burritos in bars and out of other restaurant kitchens, and now finally has its own sunny, colorful, tiny little space in Clinton Hill. In the heat of Brooklyn summer, having a small slice of San Fran's Mission district 15 minutes from my front door is hugely appreciated. As long as you're willing to wait (making tacos to order takes time you guys), you'll eventually be served burritos and tacos better than anything I've ever tried in London or in NYC. I imagine this makes them close to the quality you'd get over on the other side of this vast country.


We snacked on tortilla chips while we waited for them to wrap up B's carnitas burrito and to hand press the corn tortillas for my tacos. The burrito was as huge as a hungry runner wants a burrito to be. Its warm filling was perfectly tucked into the wrap, and the slow-cooked pork, rice, beans, and salsa muddled together to create one comforting mouthful after another. The tacos, stuffed with avocado, deep-fried poblano peppers, cilantro, and salsa were so super fresh, grease-free, and light: a wonderful blend of crisp and soft, spicy and soothing. If this is what my diet would consist of  on the West coast (as I had suspected may well be the case), we need to move ourselves over there ASAP.

B'klyn Burro, 922 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11238.

5 Things & 3 More


5 happy things from the last 5 days:

2. Great British Bake Off.
3. Cinnamon raisin bagels.
4. Packing a suitcase because it's finally time for a trip back home.

3 things to read over the weekend:

1. A hilarious glimpse inside Melania Trump's diary.
2. Multiple tahini-based recipes for those of you who haven't realized this ingredient should be in everything.
3. In another life I'd spent a lot more time on a sailboat wearing strips and all-white.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Nectarine & Blackberry Crumble Pie



By far the most important discovery I have so far made since moving to New York is that of the magical world of pie. Yes, pie. That simple, totally typical, all-American dessert. It's such a basic, widely-loved creation over here that it's almost taken for granted.  For those of us who have been bought up on crumbles, cakes, and flapjacks (this kind, not this kind), pie is a wonderful amalgamation of all my favorite things. Especially when it's a crumble pie, filled with bubbling fruit, and with a crust so thick it's almost too much for my teeth to handle.

On the subject of pie crust, I just want to take a moment to explain how it has taken me astoundingly long to get it right. I once spent a whole summer perfecting my French-inspired tart crusts, making them as thin, light, flaky, and buttery as possible. So whenever I roll out any pastry into a circle, up until this point in my life, I have immediately, automatically started treating it like that classic tarte au citron, and, inevitably, I am always disappointed by the lack of thick, crusty, almost burned, layered pie pastry when I cut into the tart-pie hybrid I have produced. However, it seems that I have finally managed to delete my muscle memory and I've managed to bake a pie where the crust is so thick that the crimping pretty much held it's shape, it's challenging to cut through, and it actually resembled the numerous slices I've eaten at Four and Twenty Blackbirds.

So, without further mumblings about my inability to not over-roll my pie dough, here's the recipe for the pie y'all need to make before we're out of nectarines for the year.

Nectarine and Blackberry Peach Pie

Makes 1 9-inch pie. 

Pastry (barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tablespoon caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (110 grams) unsalted butter, very cold, cubed
1 cup iced water

Place flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the butter has broken down into pieces which are no bigger than tiny peas. Add 1/2 cup iced water and pulse. If the dough is beginning to come together, remove from the food processor. If it needs more water, add a tiny bit more, but be careful to not to use any more than you need. Knead the dough into a ball and flatten into a disc shape. Wrap in cling film/plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

Filling

4 nectarines, stones removed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup blackberries
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
5 teaspoons caster sugar

Place the nectarines, blackberries, and vanilla extract in a large bowl, and stir together. Add the flour and both sugars and toss gently to combine, trying not to break up the fruit too much.

Crumble (barely adapted from Lily Vanilli)

30 grams (1 ounce) flour
30 grams (1 ounce) dark brown sugar
30 grams (1 ounce) unsalted butter, cold, cubed
30 grams (1 ounce) rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt


Mix the flour and sugar together. Add the butter and, using your fingers work it into the sugar and flour mixture until it has broken down and looks like breadcrumbs. Stir through the oats and the salt.

To Assemble the Pie

Flour, to roll and dust
Ice cream or whipped cream, to serve

Heat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F.

Roll the pastry out on a well-floured board into a circle at least 1 inch wider in diameter than your pie dish. Fold it into quarters and transfer it to your pie dish, and then unfold it. Fold the excess pastry back under the edge of the dough and crimp the edges as desired. Dust a couple of teaspoons of flour over the pastry base.

Pour in the fruit and sprinkle the crumble topping over it.

Place on a baking sheet (to catch any spillage) and bake in the oven for about an hour, or until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Let cool (this will take a couple of hours) before serving with ice cream or freshly whipped cream.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Ferdinando's Focacceria


To celebrate a year since we moved from Haggerston to Boerum Hill, we spent a weekend being tourists in our local neighborhoods. Which really means we spent two days stuffing our faces. Our first stop was in the Italian streets of Carroll Gardens, at Ferdinando's Focacceria.

We were held back at the door as elderly (and obviously Italian) Alfredo and his wife had arrived at the same time as us, and their table was ready and waiting for them, so they were ushered in with the utmost courtesy and respect, while they motioned at us to wait to one side. Once that welcome serenade was over (this neighborhood is run by deeply-rooted family relationships, arguments, businesses, disputes, money, and friendships), we were acknowledged with a nod of the head, and once some tables had been rearranged for another  Italian family of nine, they found two seats for us in the corner. 


Stepping into Ferdinando's Foacceria is almost a culture shock. Walking through that door from Brooklyn sidewalk into Sicilian weekend lunchtime is likely the closest I'll ever get to being able to teleport. We were rapidly presented with menus, drinks came flying towards us, and we tried to quickly figure out what on the menu we could stand to skip.


Crispy, light, freshly deep-fried panelle with a huge splodge of ricotta and a scattering of sprinkled cheese will forever by one of my all time favorite accompaniments to a cold glass of wine on a hot summer's day.


We couldn't go somewhere Sicilian and not order arancini (or, more correctly, one giant arancina). Because, well, arancini are perhaps one of the best food inventions ever. And at Ferdinando's they're ginormous and stuffed full of meat and peas and covered in tomato sauce and cheese and... well... as you can see, it was fab. When we'd wiped those plates clean we realized we had definitely over-ordered.


Pasta con sarde followed. A giant bowl of bucatini topped with smoky, lightly spiced, subtly sweet sardine and tomato sauce, which was wonderfully slurpy and messy and made me massively regret my decision to wear white. 


And, just in case that wasn't enough, we'd also ordered a meatball parm roll. We didn't want to miss out. Rich meatballs, covered in sweet tomato sauce, melting cheese, and tucked in a fluffy bun are always welcomed, no matter how severe the food coma that follows.


Ferdinando's Focacceria, 151 Union Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231. Cash Only.
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